Your Story Is NOT The Answer

If you solved all of life's problems today, what would you do tomorrow?

This afternoon, I attended a program at Amherst College called Career Choices. It was a panel of alumni talking to students to give them advice on how to find a job in this difficult economy. There were several different alumni from all walks of life telling their stories and offering up wisdom to a younger generation of college students. And, as a young alum listening to the wise advice of an older generation, I found it rejuvenating and re-energizing. It made me realize, once again, that life is just a process of trying to figure it all out, especially, when it comes to finding a career and finding a passion.

I found it re-energizing because it reaffirmed the obvious: everything is going to be okay. No matter how much turmoil, uncertainty, fear, and madness is going on in the world, everything is going to be okay. If you've lost your job, your finances are in peril, and you're girlfriend is leaving you, it's still going to be okay. (Try to put yourself in your own shoes as you continue, especially if you don't think that everything is going to be okay).

How do I know? Well, other than being a seer, I know that it's only a matter of how you look at your life, and that being said, everything is going to be okay.

Now, that may seem like an obvious answer to some and an over-simplification to others, but I think it's just right. The fact of the matter is that the rest is just a story of your individual circumstances. Beyond the story, there is a reality that no matter how challenging or daunting, you have the ability to overcome the circumstances of your life.

It's amazing how easy it is to get caught up in the circumstances of your own story. This is what I did, this is what happened, this is what she said, this is what's going to happen, this is why my life is ruined, blah, blah, blah. They are only circumstances with no real assessment of what is going on and how you are going to overcome the circumstances.

Interestingly enough, this is a very difficult problem because our lives are frequently shaped by our circumstances. When our circumstances change drastically, rather than reevaluate and adapt, we go through an identity crisis and begin to panic. We look inside of our box of possibilities to what was, rather than look outside of our box of possibilities to what could be. Rather than generate new possibilities to fit our current reality, we try to make old possibilities conform to where we are. The old reality no longer makes sense in our current reality, but we have yet to let it go.

So, yes, once you've let it go, it's going to be okay.

At the edge of your box of possibilities you are constantly aware of the attitudes, judgments and beliefs that are affecting your reality; you are conscious of where you are right now in the world and living in the moment; and by virtue of this awareness, you are living life fully all the time! Isn't that the point of living life, to live life fully?

I personally believe that it is your destiny is to be who you are. We each have a different passion, a different personality, and a different path. Our lives will inevitably ebb and flow as we try to navigate the waters of life. And yes, there are times where we fear the worst and get caught up in our own circumstances. And yes, there are times when it feels like we are paddling up stream and going in the wrong direction And yes, life is challenging and reality can be daunting.

But you know what, it's going to be okay.

This was the lesson that I learned today from watching alumni tell the stories of their lives to students. They talked about their circumstances to help explain the lessons they learned over the years. And the moral of all of their stories was: it's going to be okay.

So, as I continue to beat a dead horse, you're probably wondering why I won't just be done already. Because it's an easy concept to hear, but a much harder concept to embrace. We are so intertwined with our circumstances because they make up the very fabric of our lives. The circumstances create the lessons even if the lessons are not the circumstances. They are very difficult to separate sometimes because we want something to hold on to. We want to wrap ourselves in the fabric of life and hold on to the fleeting existence that has already happened. In the now, there's nothing to hold onto because you only have the moment!

It makes my head hurt and my stomach turn sometimes to think this way, let alone live try to live this way. When I take a deep breath and try to let it all go, my mind asks, what do I have if I don't have my circumstances? What am I going to do without my story?

Everything is going to be okay no matter what happens.

I hope that this makes sense and perhaps helps you better understand how to separate your own circumstances from the lessons that are hidden just beneath the surface. Whether it does or it doesn't, I want to leave you with this question to ponder if you missed it earlier: If you solved all of life's problems today, what would you do tomorrow?

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Welcome to the Middle of the Night!

We're here to help others, as much as we're here to help ourselves.

I find that the best ideas come to me in the state just before waking while I am still in a partial dream state. Unfortunately, I have been experiencing an interesting problem of finding that those times are between the hours of 3am and 5am. Most nights, I refuse to get out of bed, turn on the light, or even acknowledge the brilliance from sheer lack of motivation. Well, if success is motivated by vision and action, here I am sitting in my bathroom with the heat cranked up at quarter of four in the morning!

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For the past several days, I have found myself trying to answer some of the big questions at work and in life. Questions that seem to have answers that are intuitive, yet always slide into the realm of elusive. It's a vicious game of cat and mouse because most of the answers come during the middle of the night and most of the questions are asked during the middle of the day. So now that I am finally bringing these two realms together, I can hopefully find some peaceful solace in my warm, comfortable bed, although the linoleum bathroom will soon be quite toasty.

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In the past 48 hours, I have had the fortunate luck of meeting three brilliant minds in the blogging community: Lindsey Pollak, Marcos Salazar, and Thomas Edwards. It has reminded me (although to be fair, the signs were on Brazen a few weeks ago) the value of sharing your ideas with the world. It's not about self-serving personal branding, but rather about serving the community of readers that dare to pay attention to the insightful musings of others' lives. So, in that vain, let me share why I find all three of these muses, who have helped me find my voice this evening are truly so inspiring.

Thomas Edwards is a personal coach who helps men find success with women, which ultimately helps them gain more confidence and find all around success their lives. He runs a program called Project Infinity to help men understand how to interact with women, through a series of simple observations. For Thomas, it's certainly intuitive to dress the right way, have the right posture, and say the right things, which just don't come as naturally to everyone. His goals are modest, but his approach is genuine: help others (men specifically) be successful.

A simple google search will lead you to Lindsey Pollak. Not just because she has great personal branding, strong SEO, or a great book, but because she has a message that needs to be heard. She has fantastic advice that helps Gen Y workers find success in the world as well as educates the rest of the world on how to deal with Gen Y in the workplace. After watching Lindsey's keynote speech at the Unlocking Potential conference held by Experience.com yesterday, I was moved by how truly personal the story was to her. She commented that it was from the "big sister's" that she counseled the room of Gen X and Baby Boomers. And it was true!

Marcos Salazar is a coach, author and speaker who focuses on the topic of finding your way in your twenties. He provides great advice and insight from a psychological perspective as well as well-founded research in the field. Recently, he has started a website called FiveDailyGratitudes that lists the five things that he is grateful for each day as a means to increase success, happiness, and self-esteem, among other things.

After reaching out by e-mail because he too is an Amherst Grad, we spoke on the phone for about an hour yesterday (Thursday, which is really the day before yesterday). Just as we had come to a logical ending point for the call, he asked me, "Are there any other questions I can help you answer?" Perhaps this may seem like a simple and very reasonable question, it resonated with me because, although we had just met, he was extending me an offer that we frequently lose in the fast-paced world of me where personal branding is king. It was with this same genuineness, authenticity, and care that I found passionately drives Lindsey and Thomas in their efforts to help others.

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So, it is out of gratitude for these three who have inspired me that I am able to take a slow, deep breath knowing that I have remembered something that is so easy to forget: we're here to help others as much as we're here to help ourselves!

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Ahh, there it is. The gentle knock of the sandman. He's ready to put me back into the bed so that I can rest soundly. I am glad to have shared, thankful to have learned, and honored to have met three people who are saving the world one person at a time!

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