Saturday, October 17, 2009

And This Too Shall Pass...

“To me, success is doing what you want to do and making a living at it. That’s all I wanted to do.”
Frankie Valli

I finally had the opportunity to see Jersey Boys. Jersey Boys tells the stranger-than-fiction tale of how four mob-connected tough kids from Newark, New Jersey defied the odds to become one of rock’s all-time, best-selling acts.
This story was entertaining, yet vividly depicted the importance of being faithful.

During their nearly 40 year career Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sold over a 100 million records, were inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, making them the most long lived and successful doo wop group.

Everything has a history…

As a child, Valli had no formal vocal training but instead taught himself to sing by doing impressions of other artists. Since he had a naturally high voice, he SPECIFICALLY focused on singers Rose Murphy and Dinah Washington.
What made Valli uncommon as a singer, especially while carving a niche in those early days, was his stratospheric falsetto. Critics called Valli's vocals everything from shrill to shrieking, but the falsetto remained his signature sound. His remarkable range allowed him to create expert harmonies, and the singer was amply able to hit high notes without his voice breaking.

Valli’s life on the surface looked successful; however his overnight success was some ten years in the making! While the band’s massive artistic and commercial triumphs are celebrated, the play’s considerable drama springs from the darker elements of the group’s story, from DeVito’s troubles with mob loan sharks that helped torpedo the act at the height of its success, to Valli’s dysfunctional family life.

How Frankie’s life matters to each of us? What lessons can we take away from his?
Frankie Valli is a triple threat to the entertainment industry. There’s a shortlist of entertainers who’ve successfully leveraged a unique vocal range synonymously with sustainable marketability. Who else could tackle the breadth of material that Frankie has done over the years and not just do it justice, but take it on to a point that places it artistically beyond the reach of others to imitate?

Use what you’ve got and develop it…get past the setbacks!
Rhythm and blues music was doing falsetto for years, yet Valli developed falsetto singing style at a more expansive level, unheard of in the past and even today.
Valli has managed to reinvent himself a number of times. No artist in the history of popular music has been able to maintain consistent success over a very long period.

Valli re-wrote the story of his life several times until he and his group, were able to reach success. Valli networked, practiced relentlessly, and studied Frank Sinatra and other musical legends of that time. Valli let each setback serve as a springboard to future success. Valli also was a quick-study when it came to setbacks; he learned from it and always focused on the future. Valli was ahead of his industry counterparts by maintaining ownership of the group’s original masters which has created financial freedom for himself and his business partner.
At one point in Valli’s career he developed otosclerosis, an incurable ear disease caused by a build up of calcium deposits, which leads to deafness. It got so bad that Valli couldn't hear himself on stage or while recording many of the hits fans have come to love. This condition lasted for several years before any solution was discovered.

Despite this performance altering setback, Valli maintained a professional acumen, without any live audience or recording studio awareness.
There’s some obstacle that we have to strategically address & some areas of our lives we will never fully recover from, like Valli, who never has fully recovered his hearing. Despite these tragedies, it’s imperative that we create a strategy to bounce back…and quickly.

So the empowering question I pose to you today is “What will you do to overcome your most recent setback…and WHEN will you begin?”
I’m committed to re-inventing my approach to a project that’s dear to my professional life and the lives of countless others. I am doing all that I can to REMAIN teachable, quick to change and increasingly open to innovative approaches? How about you?

Remain confident, courageous and phenomenal…

Remember you’ll only lead your life when you WHOLLY understand who you are. Begin the CHANGE revolution today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

लव हप्पेंस

Love Happens, stars Jennifer Aniston & Aaron Eckhart. It has chick-flick all over it; however it also has a message which can be applicable to each of our lives.
Eckhart portrays a conflicted, man who’s secretly grieving over the loss of his wife and coping with Grey Goose Vodka and being a workaholic.

The contrast between Burke's public and private personas is intriguing in that he’s publicly 'A-OK!' – In fact he's making a fortune marketing self-help books and nationwide tours aimed at aiding the bereaved.

This movie got me thinking of the areas of my life that “everyone else” considers I’m A-OK, when really it’s furthest from the truth. I recalled my fathers’ death. I knew he always loved me, yet didn’t intend to care about me in ways which were meaningful to me.

This mismatch caused me to do the majority of work in our relationship and subsequently several other meaningful relationships. The internal tape that played was “control things because you’re good at it; control things because no one else will get it taken care of perfectly like I can; control things because you have the money in which to do so; control things because you know _______ doesn’t do well with stuff like this, et al.”

Subconsciously I was setting myself up to take a huge fall or burnout at the very least. However, I didn’t count the opportunity cost of choosing to change my life. You see I was too busy being necessary, resourceful and “the fixer.”

My fathers’ death was the straw which broke the camels back. When I wanted to control things the least, and grieve…there was no room in which to do so. Be it real or imagined on my part, the result was the same.

I found myself grieving the fact I was never allowed to be a child, that my father was never intentional toward me in ways that I could concretely sense it & that I was taking the lead on everything when he’d contributed to countless helpless peoples lives that were now NOWHERE to be FOUND to either comfort me or help with the celebration of his life.

A subconscious bitterness crept in and birthed a recovery that I never THOUGHT was necessary. Things were un-expectantly put in place forcing me to come to the end of myself. It’s from this Damascus experience that I no longer choose to control things. I made the quality decision to begin sharing the truth with others in a respectful way that accounted for both us…especially the often forgotten ME.
Now I ask and answer the difficult questions without delay or prolonged concern about pride or ego. I recognize that I’m no longer the God of my life or anyone else’s.
For every challenge on the windshield of my life, my role is to determine MY RESPONSIBILITY and go after addressing it as soon as humanly possible. The place I’m still growing is not internally responding to “other people’s stuff which has nothing to do with me…no matter how much they try to convince me otherwise.”

A life-changing lesson is learning how to let go. It’s actually mastered in the moment-by-moment decision to let go, rather than looking at it from the standpoint of all being accomplished by one defining moment.

The bottom-line
Life is full of setbacks & none of us will change overnight or are able to do it alone. We have to have a determination that’s steadfast and unyielding. I like to think of it as a no matter what type of functioning. It’s in the no matter what’s of life that you will get past your setbacks, encourage yourself to keep going and change how you ultimately see yourself.
As you change how you see yourself, you’ll change how you see others.
Will you join the CHANGE revolution? Share your victories, setbacks and encouragement strategies with us.
To your best life,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hedged between fear and opportunity. The tightrope called life.

Life promises that we’ll be rocked by the winds of change. It’s something that none of us can possibly avoid. Uncertainty is the best gift we will ever receive if we are committed to having the proper perspective. These challenges can keep us humble, radical and plowing ahead.
Fear is a natural reaction to change. However we cannot allow it to dominate and control ANY aspect of our life.

I recently had the opportunity to see a famous tightrope star named Tino Wallenda of the Flying Wallenda’s. He shared some insights which are useful to each of our lives.

He began walking tightropes at seven years old. He didn’t begin on the highest tightrope. It was about the height of a standard kitchen table that he was taught foot placement & how to maintain his balance.
As things became second nature, he learned various salutes, & how to shift directions on the tightrope.
He rehearsed countless hours between ages 7-13 to set himself apart & in order to join his famous tightrope walking family on the road.
As a tightrope walker, he’s had several setbacks & hurtful falls. The thing that’s kept him going is to ALWAYS focus on an unmovable endpoint.

This got me thinking about my life & each of our lives. Each of us must establish an unmovable endpoint a.k.a. “what we desire in life & in-depth understanding of what it’ll take to see that desire fulfilled.”
It means that we’ll need to persevere and become unrelenting, to accomplish the impossible in life.

We all need support to balance the tightrope of our lives…

You have to learn to follow whoever or whatever has mastered a particular area of life you desire to achieve.
The closer you stay to this expert or process the easier it will be. Life is easier when you stop trusting only in yourself. In the midst of life’s troubling times, you can have peace and find strength when pulled in multiple directions when you stick close to RELEVANT and timely protocol.

I’m sure some of you might say “it’s too late for me; I’ve done too many wrong things to turn things around. I just might as well stop reading this one.”
Well you’re wrong. None of us, no matter how many curveballs life has thrown us should throw in the towel.

Let’s begin on the road to recovery by thinking what it would look like to live completely free of your past & what your better future would actually look like.
To do this, we need to understand the difference between VISION and SIGHT. Vision is a function of the heart and shows us what can be, while sight is the function of the eyes and identifies what is.

One of life’s greatest gifts is vision & its greatest enemy is sight. Vision, when focused on an unmovable endpoint enables us to contradict what we currently see in our personal, professional, emotional, relational and physical circumstance. No crisis can last forever…unless you let it.

President Obama was elected to office because he kept telling US Citizens about HOPE. Obama masterfully sold vision. He provided confidence in the future for us and for much of the world.
Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, his speeches ignited something profound in each of us. It reminded us that our current situation doesn’t have to last forever.

The identical is true of our lives. We have to do the work of 1) Examining fault, 2) Admitting these faults, & 3) STRATEGICALLY admitting these faults to someone else.

But why?

None of us will ever understand or see the solution, as long as we are uncertain of the underpinnings of the problem. How can you really know when and if things have changed, if you remain unsure of what change is EXACTLY necessary. How can you create and sustain hope if you are uncertain of why you need hope, strategy or to focus on an unmovable endpoint in the first place?

The thing that gets me excited about being an American is all of the freedom we have. At any moment we are free to log-on to the internet, go to our local library, enroll in classes at a university or local community college and discover the world. Literally the world’s knowledge is at our very fingertips.
With unrelenting strategy, perseverance and courage we are able to get past so much of the bad stuff we’d rather forget about in our lives.

Peel away the layers!

It’s time for us to do the work of changing our lives and focusing on our unmovable endpoint. This is accomplished by reflecting and answering…with pen and paper the following:

1. What is the unmovable endpoint you’ll focus on?
2. What do you need to identify? Examine your personal, professional, emotional and relational life for places of pain, shame, regret, frustration and joy.
3. Face this reality with someone that you can trust. Practice some discernment because you’ll need this person to provide you with support and to keep you accountable to what you ultimately strategize to do.
4. Strategize your comeback from setback. This is the place where you get into gear & clearly identify your plays and what you’ll do in advance to bounce back from every setback you’ll face.
5. Monitor your progress. This is key to enable you to celebrate your sights of land-those things you do right and propel you in the right direction toward your endpoint and to also convert INEVITABLE challenges into growth opportunities.
6. Revise and strategize. Don’t be afraid to drop what doesn’t work. Habits don’t make you better unless they are taking you toward your goal. Habits can be your biggest source of condemnation if you refuse to challenge them. This is the place that it’s key to ask other individuals, read books, search the internet, et al for help to courageously break free of addiction, anger, fear, guilt, or whatever you come to realize is a problem. Remember that you’ll never conquer what you refuse to confront so atone regularly. See 9/26/2009 post for more details on atonement FAQ’s.

Isn’t it time you drop all the excuses and become who you really are…that person who’s achieved the target behind that unchangeable endpoint? Remember that conflict is inevitable, yet your response is and always will remain your CHOICE.

To your best life!

P.S. If you’d like to see how this process is unfolding in my life, submit a post. I know you’re out there. Several of you call me, & I appreciate it.