Archive for November, 2011

Success is Not the Key to Happiness




“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Author unknown



Many times you will hear someone say, “When I achieve this or accomplish that, then I will be happy. They equate happiness with something they do or have. However, recent studies indicate that high achievers are considerably more likely to be people who are doing what they love, than those who are doing what they are doing simply to make money or to be a success. Most successful people are people who include happiness as a necessary ingredient for a career.


When you are happy and self satisfied you are more susceptible to learning, you’re more resilient, more creative and more willing to risk and to explore possibilities. Therefore more opportunities open up for you and your chances for finding solutions to problems and the likelihood of making connections with people and situations that lead to success are significantly increased. As all of this unfolds, you learn to trust yourself and others and your self esteem grows. As your self confidence develops, so does your decision making ability . . . and so on.


Those who live in the world of stress and worry often fill their lives up with endless social events, activities, meetings, volunteer work and business demands. At the end of the day they find themselves exhausted only to get up the next day to repeat the cycle all over again. Or they close themselves off and shut themselves down, simply out of self-protection and thereby reduce their chances to succeed.


Where are you on the well-being/happiness scale? Are you doing what makes you feel fulfilled and excited or do you find yourself dragging yourself through the day? What makes your heart sing? What would you like to be doing that would make you leap out of bed in the morning, eager to start the day and allow you to rest peacefully at night? If you are not already there, then go find it. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find your joy and success will soon be yours.


This is important to remember not only as a guide for ourselves but for raising our children as well. We tend to fill their lives with “opportunities” – soccer, play practice, music lessons, tutors, dance recitals, riding lessons and end up stressing not only ourselves but our children as well. “Hurry up and put your uniform on, get your tap shoes. We’re going to be late, where in the world did you leave your flute?” We hear ourselves say in high pitched voices filled with tension. But where is the happiness? Are our children doing what they love or are they simply doing what we think they should?


Do these activities bring value to a person’s life? Do they help build character and develop life skills? Of course they do, but when they are overdone it comes with a price. Family dinners are lost in the mad dash between sporting events, visits to see grandparents are delayed until holidays, simple down time with a good book or a walk in nature or a quiet conversation about their hopes and dreams are put “on hold”. But aren’t these just as important to their development and perhaps even more important for their well being and happiness? Perhaps if we helped them discover what they love to do – truly love and enjoy – and helped them focus on what makes them happy, then achievement will naturally follow.


“People rarely succeed unless they have fun at what they are doing.”

Dale Carnegie


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Thank You



“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Meister Eckhart

Thank you to all my readers. Thank you for your support, your helpful comments, feedback and suggestions. Thank you for sharing yourselves with me and for being a positive source of influence in this world. We are all in this thing called ‘life” together, and I thank you for walking with me.

With gratitude, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving,




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Sex Scandal

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
Mark Twain

As we are learning from the Penn State scandal, it is apparent that some very good and well respected people made some very poor choices. Caught up in a culture that revers sports and coaches and winning more than a child’s safety, they were served a stunning wake-up call. Observers wonder how someone could ever be aware of such abhorrent behavior and not report it, as if they know they would have done so if it were them. But would they? How many stories do we hear about murders taking place while people watch and no one calls the police? How often do we, any of us, look the other way when we know of wrong doing, simply because it is easier not to respond? Unless we are solidly connected with and well practiced with our moral compass, I do believe any one of us is capable of doing the same. Please understand, I do not absolve them of any wrong doing, I simply call on us all to pay attention to our behaviors and continually ask ourselves, “Am I solidly connected to my Core Values? Do I practice them every day? Do I ever allow myself to make excuses for wrong doing? Do I look the other way and pretend that everything is OK when it isn’t?

Awhile back, I wrote the following six guidelines of development for a client who was struggling with his leadership and team effectiveness. I identified some basic relational and behavioral skills that I felt were important for effective performance and as I re-read them today, I realize that had those who were so deeply caught up in the alleged cover-up of blatant and rampant sexual abuse of young children, been more consciously connected with these performance principles, perhaps they would not have ignored the terrified, helpless child, alone and silently crying in a dark and threatening locker room.

It has been said that you can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its children. We revere athletes and coaches. They are where the money is. But what does this incident say about us as a people? Some of those accused of being part of a cover-up may have been peak performers on the football field, but in life, I’m afraid they failed miserably, and perhaps, we too, need to do a fierce moral inventory as a society.

Check out the following. It’s time for all of us to be reminded of how important it is to stay awake, alert and conscious and how important peak performance principles are in simple everyday living . . .  Do you see how each one relates to the Penn State scandal? What muscles do you need to strengthen to be sure you would act appropriately under the same circumstances?

“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

1) Open and Truthful:

When people are straightforward and transparent, they build trust. “What you see is what you get.” There are no surprises or hidden agendas. When communication is open, trust is developed, and trust is the cornerstone of relationships.

2) Maintain Perspective:

Those who can step back and see the big picture and not allow themselves to get caught up in the minutia can maintain perspective of what is important and what is a priority. They are able to take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously. They don’t take things personally. Although they hold themselves with high esteem, they know that the world does not revolve around them. As a result, they can handle crisis and conflict confidently. They are the quiet in the storm. When receiving feedback, they hear the comments as helpful suggestions and observations. They do not feel attacked or become defensive.

3) Keep Agreements:

People who keep their agreements regard their word as their bond. They do what they say they will. They operate with integrity and they realize that there are implied agreements as well as implicit ones and both are equally important. People trust those who keep their word, who do as they promise and who also fulfill their roles as expected.

4) Sensitive and Sincere:

People who work well with others are sensitive to others. They realize their actions affect others and they are attentive to the wants and needs of others. They treat others with respect and are genuine when they communicate praise or caring. They know that the choices they make have a direct impact on the well being of others and they fully recognize the power of their influence.

5) Personal Responsibility and Accountability:

People who have strong relational skills never blame anyone or anything for something that happens to them. They realize that they have choices, and that it is their choices that lead to their results. They realize that life is: only 10% circumstances and 90% their reaction to their circumstances. Therefore, they realize that if change is needed, they don’t wait for someone else to fix it, they fully recognize they are the ones who need to take action. They also accept that making mistakes is part of being human, and they learn from their mistakes and correct themselves, their attitude, beliefs, and behaviors and move forward.

6) They are Solidly Grounded:

People who are solidly grounded are guided by their core values, vision and purpose. This facilitates their ability to make good decisions . They choose win/win solutions, always take the high road of honesty and integrity and they trust the process they are in, knowing that if they follow their highest instincts, they will always do the right thing. They listen to the small voice within and respond accordingly.

Would you have reported the wrong-doing or would you have let your fears of rejection, losing your job, losing face, being judged, standing out, being ridiculed prompt you to look the other way? Would you had the fortitude to follow your Moral Compass? Had those who are now so deeply involved in this scandal asked themselves this a long time ago and had they consistently strengthened their Core Values, perhaps it all would have been different. . .

“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Could It Be This Simple?



“A man must be able to cut a knot, for everything cannot be untied; he must know how to disengage what is essential from the detail in which it is enwrapped, for everything cannot be equally considered; in a word, he must be able to simplify his duties, his business and his life.”

Henri Frederic Amiel




Could It Be This Simple?



“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”


And therein lies the real problem. Our egos, intellects and emotions love complicating a issue. When we are fully engaged with unraveling every detail we can think of, identifying all the “what ifs  . . .” and stirring up our feelings, particularly anxiety, we feel like we are actively involved and we interpret that as being alive and important.


But when one truly understands and embraces simplicity, one discovers that stimulating oneself by buying more, seeing more, doing more and having more does not bring peace and happiness. Filling one’s life up with complicated relationships, overwhelming work situations, a plethora of things to do, conflict, unhappiness, hurt and confusion may keep you busy, may keep you feeling important, but it does nothing to free your spirit to attain joy.


“Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.”

John Kabat-Zinn



Would we not be happier if we went back to a simpler way of life and a more direct, clear thinking? Is it not the simpler things in life that make living worthwhile, like love, compassion, duty, hard work, commitment, rest, relaxation, friendship, caring, giving and receiving and living close to nature?


Anyone can make things more complex. But doing so does not make the problem more valuable or you more important, and it takes no intelligence whatsoever. However, it is the genius who can simplify and identify the basic choices one has in front of them and then take action. One who can simplify seemingly complicated issues requires a nobility of spirit, a brilliant wisdom and a commitment to resolution more than the desire to appear of feel important by perpetuating an issue by over-thinking it, over-feeling it, or worrying about it.


To simplify does not mean you have to eat bread and water and live in a hut, nor does it mean diminishing the value of certain events and people in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy problem solving, creating dreams or feeling emotion. It simply means eliminating the unnecessary so that the necessary can be heard. Just as Michelangelo chipped away at a block of marble to discover the masterpiece within, so, too, do we need to eliminate the things that deter us from finding the solutions to our problems.


And a little more food for thought as you face your own problems . . . 


“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”

Lao Tzu





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