Freedom, Listen, Uncategorized

How to Win a Fight

If you prefer to listen click the link to the audio

Have you ever used the phrase fighting fire with fire when it comes to an argument with another person?  I always picture someone spewing a ball of fire from their mouth into an already out of control fire only to see the fire completely engulf both people bringing them both down. Yet I see this mindset and strategy used all the time when human beings are engaged in a battle.

The term fighting fire with fire originated from a 19th century fire fighting method where small fires were set in advance of a larger fire coming to reduce the “fuel” in the larger fire’s path.  The concept seems great but it gave rise to other issues.  Without a way to put out the smaller fires before a larger fire approached, the whole strategy backfires resulting in fire completely devastating the area.

What can we learn from the 19th century fire strategy?  One, we don’t even use is correctly when we fight. Iit’s not a very smart strategy when it comes to human behavior.  And two, why start additional fires when the goal is to put the fire out?

If we are only starting fires, elevating our own anger, in the face of someone who is already angry we are only successful in intensifying the anger in the room.  With both parties now angry, and fuming, no one can see above the flames.  No one is in a state of mind to reduce the heat and hear the other person.  We are now in a battle to out anger the other party and create even more destruction.

More Fire = More Anger = More Destruction

Fires don’t put out fires.  Fighting doesn’t create peace.  An eye for an eye doesn’t bring about vision.

Instead of bringing more fire to the fight, try to understand why the person is upset to begin with.  Try hearing them out.  That’s really all they want.  They want to feel heard.  They want to calm down too and not feel they have to fight their way through life.  To win a fight you must first stop fighting.  Then you can hear what needs to be heard and you will see the fire, the anger, the fear in the other person turn down and end its destruction.

If you find this helpful or know someone who needs to hear topics like these, please be sure to share.  Be a life changer. You never know what may change the course of someone’s life.


Seasons of Change

It is time for spring.  A season of renewal, a season of growth and a season known for change.

We don’t always handle change and differences well.  In fact, most of the time we view change as a threat. Our behavior can become erratic, tempers quick to irritation and frustration because we fill ourselves with fear.  When things don’t go our way, we lash out.  We blame the outside world for the fear we feel welling up inside threatening to destroy us and break us apart.

There is nothing here to harm you.  The only thing causing you harm are the thoughts and fears in your mind. You hold so tightly to your fears as if you need to squeeze the life out of it before it threatens to squeeze the life out of you.

Yet you are still here, you are still alive and still breathing.  It is just a mind trick throwing you into a fit and creating the illusion that there is a threat.  There is no threat it’s only a thought.

Just as the season of spring is a symbol of change, it is also showing us how beautiful growth and change can be in this world.  As you move through the changes of the season and season of change in your life, keep in your mind and bring awareness to the beauty that change can bring.  Everything else is just a thought.


The Reason You are Here

Whether you want to believe it or not, every moment you are choosing how you show up in this world.  Every moment you get to decide who you want to be, how you want to respond and what you want to experience.  Many of us walk through this life in pain when we do not have to, simply because we made a decision to not show up as who we truly are moment to moment.  Perhaps we were afraid or didn’t feel we had the strength to be completely authentic to ourselves and to others in the moment.  But we still made a choice to sacrifice who are and now we get to experience the pain as a consequence.

Notice the difference when you show up as yourself.  You are completely engaged.  Even if something scary comes along you know what to do when you are fully yourself.  When you make the decision to hide parts and pieces of yourself it feels horrible, you start to feel trapped and that inner dialogue begins to criticize who you are being.  When you unnecessarily adapt and change for others, deny your true feelings and desires it’s painful. And for good reason.  When I find myself being less than myself it’s feels like I am running my hand against a piece of wood the wrong way.  It’s not meant to go that way and yes, it’s going to cause some pain.

Being yourself is what this life is all about. Being you is what invites in all the good stuff.  Just being yourself will allow you to be present, to know what to do in any moment and to see people for who they truly are.  You become malleable to the moment and what it needs from you. Which means you can really be there for another the way they need and they can also be there for you.  When you walk through this life as you, the real you, you will see yourself as a person who can be trusted.  When you are the real you, there is no desire to harm another there is only a desire to be in the moment.  When we no longer feel the pain of hiding and denying ourselves there is no longer a need to prove anything, to make someone look or feel bad, it all goes away.

Don’t deny the world of who you really are.  We need you to show up.  You are here for a reason and it’s not to hide or to try to be someone you think you need to be.  No! You are you for a bigger reason than you can wrap your head around.  You are a huge piece to this puzzle called life.  You are needed just as you are.  Being you is what you are called to be and do.  You offer this world a set of unique gifts in the form of your perspectives and insights that only you can bring to the table.

You’re here for many specific reasons.  You don’t need to know what they are because they aren’t about you.  Where you are in the world and the people you encounter are there to experience something from you.  It may be a 10 second smile or an hour-long conversation or some really cool product you create.  You will never know how deeply and broadly your impact will go.  What I do know is, the only way to be sure we are doing what we are here to do is to show up as your authentic self.  Being you is the key.  Anything less is painful.


How and Why We Hide

When people do not feel heard, they shrink, hide and become someone they are not in order to gain acceptance.  We put on masks that become hard to remove.   The longer we put on the masks the more misunderstood we feel because we stop showing up as ourselves.  You see these masks on people wherever you go.  It seems like living under a mask is the way to live in our world today.  They show up in many different forms.

  • Status Chaser – Some masks have people chasing money and status to gain approval and acceptance. Never stopping, always striving for the next level on the corporate ladder, creating a bigger business, chasing after the illusion of being the best.  Whenever they get to that next level it is never enough. If they think someone else has more status or has more attention, they immediately start thinking of ways to be better or have something better than another to get the affection and admiration of others focused back on them.
  • Numbing Out – Others wear the numbing mask. The one that causes a person to buy more stuff, the compulsion to keep buying and keep shopping until they are accepted. The numbing mask isn’t restricted to shopping and acquiring things for approval, it shows itself through other addictions and over indulgences in alcohol, sex, drugs, zoning out on television and yes even mindlessly searching the Internet.  All of these are ways to numb out or avoid feeling.
  • The Cover Up – Then there is the cover up mask. If you can just put on enough make-up, wear flashy or distracting clothes or go to the extremes of altering your physical appearance through surgeries, then a person might finally feel approved and accepted.  This cover up mask also shows up in the form of distracting others from seeing who they really are by tearing down others.  The old don’t look at me, look over there, tactic. Pointing a finger, putting others down, judging another so you feel more important. All so you can continue to hide behind an illusion of covering up who you really are out of fear.
  • Codependent – This is a tough one to recognize because we all love people who want to do things for us.  However, you can spot this as a mask when someone is sacrificing their health and emotional well-being to please other people.  They never say no to you, church, charities, and organizations out of fear they won’t experience or be worthy of love or acceptance.  They are the ones who never have enough time to take care of themselves. They complain of exhaustion and having too much on their plate.  As with all the other masks, this one especially has lost the ability to listen to their own voice.

Every single one of these masks is hiding who we really are and leads to a life that is not your own.  Hiding distorts and blocks your ability to see and hear others, yourself and even the world for what it is.  You find yourself overwhelmed, stressed out, in debt, in troubled relationships, struggling at work or in a failing business.  You are likely to experience a lack in energy, easily angered or agitated, sleeplessness and your thoughts just race through your head most days.

For this week, I want you to become aware.  What mask do you tend to put on to get other people to hear you?   Just notice, there is no need to judge the mask.  The mask has been there for a purpose and you can find out what purpose that is by simply noticing.  Perhaps it is a mask to protect you from others or from yourself or to gain approval, acceptance or love.  Once you start to identify which mask you put on and see what protection it has been offering you, you will begin to naturally question if the protection is even necessary anymore.

“For everything hidden is meant to be revealed, and everything concealed is meant to be brought to light.” –  Mark 4:22

Working with individuals and groups, I have found this identification and questioning process a game changer for people.  These masks seem to disappear and with it so do a whole list of issues.  People have restored relationships, gotten themselves out of debt, they find themselves sleeping better and their stress levels dramatically decrease.  In the workplace I have seen productivity increase, effective collaboration replacing internal competition and increased repots of job satisfaction.  Overall, people report they have a deeper sense of peace and joy in life.


Freedom, Uncategorized

Don’t Wait to be “Home”

Have you ever met someone that inspired you or sparked something within you?  Do you remember what it was that drew you in?  It wasn’t how they dressed or their position in life.  It was the fact that they were truly themselves and you connected with them.  When we see these people in our everyday life it’s a breath of fresh air almost like they are infusing us with a ray of hope that enables us to see we can step into who we are too.

I meet people like this almost everywhere I go.  Last year I was traveling every week for work and had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people.  There is one I remember fondly.  She had that special something about her.  We talked and shared our observations and musing about this life and how we believe others should be treated.  She said something that really stuck with me and led me down a road of contemplation.  She said we should treat each other like they are family, especially when they enter our home.  For her, home is a sacred place and the people she invites in need to be treated with love and kindness.

For most of us home is where we can be ourselves, feel love, show kindness and understanding like it’s the only place reserved for such indulgences.  Since I have traveled so much, I see the environment of home a little differently.  Home for me is whatever environment I am in. Wherever I am, I am home.  I cannot wait to go to a physical place to experience who I truly am in this world, that could be weeks and sometimes months.  I have to be myself at all times.  Wherever I go, my beliefs about how to treat others remains the same.

We can’t wait to be at “home” before we decide to treat people with love, kindness and a desire to understand them.  We don’t always get to pick and choose who invites themselves into our life so I do not believe we get to pick and choose how we treat people based on our physical location in the moment.  Be yourself everywhere you go.  Treat people as if you invited them into your home.  Maybe you’ll be that ray of hope someone needs so they can do the same.

Freedom, Uncategorized

No Need to Hide

Listening is one of our most powerful tools to invoke change in this world.  In a previous article, Listening is an Act of Love, we talked about the life changing power of listening and some ways to develop that power in your everyday life. I challenged you to take the concept out into the world by turning down the dialogue in your mind (judgement, formulating a response and thinking of your to do list), turning off distractions (phone, computer, television) and tuning into the person right there in front of you.

This week the focus is on what happens when we don’t listen.  How does that really impact who we are and how we show up in the world. Not listening has far reaching implications not just in our lives but in the lives of those we interact with as well.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement” – Brene Brown

When we simply listen to another, we change lives by allowing people to express themselves fully and honestly. These types of expressions let us fully process, heal and emerge into the people we are were born to be.  In contrast not listening causes harm and in many cases devastating damage.

When people do not feel heard, they shrink, hide and become someone they are not in order to gain acceptance.  People who do not feel understood tend to exhibit anger, resentment and bitterness.  We put on masks that become hard to remove.   The longer we put on the masks the more misunderstood we feel because we stop showing up as ourselves.  Our hearts become hardened the more we feel unheard and misunderstood.  As this downward spiral continues, we find ourselves in a state where we can’t even hear our own voice and you certainly can’t hear the whisper of inner wisdom.  We value who shows up in the world less and less because we show our true self to the world less and less.

Don’t be that person who causes people to hide.  Be the person who shows up every day, open, curious and willing to hear.

Freedom, Uncategorized

Listening is an Act of Love

The simple act of listening holds the power to change lives and the world we live in. The power comes in many forms: the power of connection, the power to uplift, the power to hear and the power of understanding. Listening gives each of us the power to change our own lives and the lives of others.  Imagine creating a world where people feel heard, understood and accepted so they are free to become who they were born to be.

Every single one of us has a need to feel understood and accepted.  We desire to connect and to feel safe around others.  When we are vulnerable enough to speak our truth from our heart, we are looking to fully express who we are.  Sometimes we get what we are looking for, that feeling we have been truly heard, and other times we are left feeling crushed, saying never again will I show my true self.

Let me offer some reassurance to those who feel misunderstood and feel they need to hide.  You don’t need to hide; you just need to find the right people who can hear you.  Often we go to people who are not properly equipped to really hear us.  This is not their fault; they just don’t know how to effectively listen or how to hear you with the aim of understanding you.  It is not that they desire to harm you in any way; in fact, most people believe they are helping you.

None of us will make it through this life without running into people.  Sorry you can’t hide.  You need people in every area of your life and people need you.  Your friends and family deserve your attention and understanding.  If you are married, you expect your spouse to hear and understand you and they expect the same from you in return.  Children need us to hear and understand them as they grow so they can fully embrace who they are to live a boldly awesome life.

To Listen is to Love, it is part of the package to living a fulfilled and joyful life.

Even at work, every person has thoughts, desires and hopes beyond the workplace.  Humans are not made to compartmentalize their lives.  We bring all of us to every situation and environment. Whether we realize it or not, even at work we need to feel heard and understood so we can bring our best performance and motivation to the environment.  True leaders know and understand this, they lead by understanding and they understand through listening.

Learning to listen will open a whole new world to you.  Your stress will decrease, possibilities and answers will be revealed to you, relationships will be renewed and even strengthened, you will raise motivated confident children and if you happen to own a business or hold a leadership position, you will have employees who love to work with you because you make them feel valuable.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor, be an example of what it means to listen.  You can do this by simply being present for another person.  Remove distractions.  That means you will need to put the phone away, turn off the television, walk away from the computer so you can give them your attention.  It also means focusing with the intent to hear and to understand.  The mind can only focus itself on one thing at a time.  We can’t really hear someone if we are distracted with our own thoughts, judgement or if we are busy formulating a response.  Practice turning down the volume on your own thoughts so you can tune in and hear other people.  It is only when you can tune into others that you can trust yourself to know what to say and when to say it.

My hope for you is to shine a new light on what it means to listen so you can be the example of what it looks like to listen with the aim to understand. Take the insights and concepts into your home, workplace and even to the grocery store and you will start to see the life changing power of listening.



Lead with Love

Do you want to see more love in your day to day life?  Lead your life from love and it will inevitably show itself to you. Here are some ways we can all live from a place of love for the world to see.

  1. Smile – Smiling is the ultimate way we show our love for life. Not only does it make you feel good, but a smile draws people to us like a magnet.  We are literally radiating with love when we smile due to chemicals released into you blood stream.
  2. Listen – Your ability to listen to others determines if another person will be attracted to you over time. Think about it – you would not stay around someone for very long if they don’t take the time to truly listen to you.  Be the person who listens.  It is one of the most loving ways to show up in this world.
  3. Acceptance – Love in action is an ability to accept people for who they are and to deeply desire to understand others without judgement.
  4. Be You – Showing up as yourself is one way we can show the world what we love. Love yourself enough to live in line with who you are without the need to please someone else.
Freedom, Uncategorized

The Pleasure of Life

There is nothing more pleasurable in this life than living it fully yourself, fully authentic.

It is truly remarkable how life unfolds with all the ups and downs.  How it feels like waves moving us along, guiding, pushing and pulling us toward some things and away from others.  In the moment we don’t know exactly what is going on or where we are going, but that isn’t the important part we need to know.

What is important then?  It is recognizing what feels true for you in each moment.  Allowing that truth to guide you into the next moment without denying or judging it.  Truth is truth and it is unique to every person.

No two of us are exactly the same.  We each have tendencies toward something in each moment. We are not all attracted to the same outcomes, people or experiences.  We are each here to experience something in our own way and in turn, to help others experience their truth in ways we will never know.  To deny or to judge this is to put our life, the lives of others and this world into chaos.

Yet we do that every day.  We question, we fear, we deny, we run away and for what? All because we don’t want to be judged and are afraid we will not be accepted by the people we have chosen to surround ourselves with?

Well, choose to surround yourself with people who can accept you and build you up to fully experience this life and your truth.  If that means spending a little time alone so be it.  It is better than living a life of fear and trying to please people who will never be pleased.

Choose to show up for yourself.  Commit to living a fully authentic life.  There is nothing more pleasurable.

Freedom, Uncategorized

Stop and Ask

You would like to change your life, but you have no clue where to even start. All you know for sure is that this is not the life you had in mind for yourself and something has to change.

You are not clueless about what you want or even who you are and who you want to be in this world. You already know things about yourself. You know the roles you play in life: a child, an employee, parent, and spouse. You know what excites you and what weighs you down. Where most of us struggle is trying to identify our passions and purpose. The clues are there, you know somewhere deep inside what is calling out to you. Over time, you just let your truth slip into the back seat as the worldly “shoulds” took up the space in the front seat. You know the “shoulds” that play in your head: you should do this not that, you should want that over there not this, you should feel this way… You let the “should” take the wheel. No wonder we look around one day and wonder where we are and how we got here.

If this is where you find yourself, it’s time to stop and ask yourself some questions.  Ask questions that will reconnect you to your truth so you can get yourself back into the front seat of your life.

1.What do I like?

This sounds so basic and simple, but when was the last time you took inventory of what really excites you?  Keep a piece of paper close by and write down everything you like and everything you don’t like. Yes, everything: people, situations, food, weather, anything and everything.   After 1 week look over your list and ask yourself how you can reduce the dislikes and bring more of your likes into your life.

  1. What do I value?

Your values guide how you think and ultimately how you behave.   Values define what is most important to you and provide you with a framework on how to make decisions in life. Uncovering your values will show you who you are at your core before the world told you who you should be. Once you identify your core 3-5 values you can start living into them on purpose by choosing to do things that align with your values.

Sometimes all we need to do is to stop and ask the right questions.  You already have the answers somewhere inside of you.  Now, it’s just a matter of tapping in to hear your truth.