March 2008


migrated from blogger – original post dated March 24, 2008

I ran across a quote that struck a nerve in me. David Taylor, author of “The Naked Coach” wrote,

“…that when one is presenting, yes, the audience is thinking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ and ‘How can I apply what the presenter is saying in my life or to help others?’ but, more than these two, they are asking themselves, ‘Does this person really believe what they are saying?’

And when the answer is ‘yes’, then the speaker is not only being more persuasive and having greater impact, they are also simply being themselves.”

I found myself reaching out and tracing those lines and nodding and thinking “Yes, yes, this is exactly the person I want to be!”

Recently I was reading Robert Ringer’s book “Million Dollar Habits” and stopped at the section of the book to answer five questions the book had posed:

  • What do I enjoy?
  • What am I good at?
  • What do I want out of life?
  • What’s the price?
  • Am I willing to pay the price?

Under the first question I had a long list, two of which were quite relevant to the person I am evolving into today—‘teaching others’ and ‘changing lives for the better’. Under the second question, ‘what am I good at’ I found they repeated themselves, ‘helping others’ and ‘teaching others’. Excellent, I was on the right track.

In each answer I had also listed ‘writing’, which as you have probably noticed I do a fair amount of. And then it hit me—I picked up “The Naked Coach” and read the last sentence again.

“And when the answer is ‘yes’, then the speaker is not only being more persuasive and having greater impact, they are also simply being themselves.”

And I had to smile.

I had to smile because I realized I have now exactly what I always wanted to accomplish—the ability to be me. I get to be me every day. I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else; I get to be me, me, ME!

To put into some kind of perspective how deep a change and relief this is for me, I will need to take you back to a time in my life when ‘being me’ simply didn’t seem acceptable.

In my mid-20’s I worked for a distribution center in the customer service department. I was known as a ‘big mouth’ and a ‘know it all’ because when a question was asked of the group of us in general, I was likely to answer. It wasn’t that I was showing off, or answering a question I didn’t actually know the answer to, I was (in my mind) simply trying to help. I knew the answer, why not share it?

On the nights when I didn’t have my daughter to care for I would go to the local bar to enjoy live music and engage in one of my favorite activities – playing pool. I was good at it, damn good for a girl, and I regularly whipped the guys in singles or playing in doubles. I was relatively well-liked there and always invited to play on doubles teams by those who knew me. The guys would ask me “how’s it going” and I would tell them all about my beloved daughter and the latest funny story about her.

One evening, one of the guys I saw regularly leaned over and said, “Christine, you’re a nice-looking girl, and I can see you are a good person. So I’m going to give you a piece of advice. You would get so many more guys willing to date you if you would just not talk so much.”

He couldn’t have hurt me worse if he had slapped me. It was a firm reminder that who I was, the indomitable me, was simply not accepted.

I spent my childhood and adolescence asking my parents and my teachers, “Why do I need to learn this?” I never got a straight answer other than, “Because I said so.” And because of it, I fought learning the curriculum, fought doing what they tried so hard to make me do. I fought them until the day I left home, a mere month before my seventeenth birthday.

In those first few months of freedom I realized one very important thing…I wanted to LEARN. I saw the other teens my age returning home from school and I was suddenly gripped with such a thirst. I wanted to learn and grow and know and be so much more than I was. I wanted to jump up on top of all of the obstacles and stand upon them victorious.

I wanted to help myself to be that person I dreamed of being, and I wanted to turn around and help others who were standing there dazed or clueless or lost. As much as it would be possible to, I wanted to infect others with a love of learning and growth and change.

It took me years and years to get here, to this place where I am today. Despite my thirst for knowledge and change, I still lost my way—sometimes for weeks or months or even years. And I’m far from done; I’ve truly only just begun.

But I was very pleased to realize that I get to be me now. I get to be me, and I find that it is accepted and it is acknowledged, and I am the lucky one for it. Because now I really can help others, now that I’m comfortably myself at all times.

So now it is your turn. Ask yourself the question, “Am I being myself?”

If you answer “yes”, than congratulations, you are well on your way to changing your life. And if not, then don’t you think that maybe it’s time you got started?

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migrated from blogger – original post dated March 19, 2008

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and cried, “You don’t know what its like to be sixty. You don’t know what its like to be this age and have no education, no money, and no future.”

No, no I don’t know what its like to be sixty. I don’t know what it is like to be sixty and uneducated, with no money and no future.

And God willing and the creek don’t rise, I never will.

But I do know what its like to watch someone throw their life away—one day, week, month, and year at a time. And I’ve spent nearly forty years doing just that and wishing it could be different, wanting so much to stop it from happening, and eventually banging my head against the wall and walking away in despair.

If she were here in front of me I would say, “It isn’t my life or my decisions that count here, it’s yours. What good does it do to cry and moan about the situation you find yourself in or bewail the years when you didn’t get the education, didn’t stay with Mr. Right, or didn’t pay your taxes on time?”

It does no good. None at all.

Look, I know what it is like to make mistakes. I know how it feels to flash back in time and see myself behaving like a horse’s ass and making unbelievably stupid decisions with my life. There are moments when they hit me, a snapshot of memory that makes me wince with regret and embarrassment. My stomach flips, I close my eyes, and wish to hell I didn’t remember things like that.

It is far easier to remember the bad rather than the good. We are so good at etching those painful moments deep into the flesh of our memories, deep into the folds of gray matter. The funny, positive memories don’t seem to have the staying power, the deep hooks to burrow in and stay. They seem so much less retrievable.

But it is what we do next with our memories, our guilt and shame, that matters so much more. We cannot change the past, we can only move forward. We must learn from the past, this is essential. But when those awful memories surface, do you flagellate yourself again, reliving the past in agonizing detail? Or do as I do and close your eyes, let the memory come, and then say…

That was the past.

That was yesterday.

And I live in today.

Let me learn from my mistakes

Let me grow as a person, and

Let me move on and be someone better.

You cannot progress into the person you want to be if you insist on re-living your mistakes over and over. You cannot improve yourself by continually revisiting past transgressions. By wallowing in guilt and despair you hold yourself back from becoming the person you dream of being.

Stop…doing…that.

I mourn for her. I mourn for the person she could have been. For the person she will never be, and for the person she chooses not to be. I mourn for her—and wish things could be different. I am afraid that I understand far better than she does what it means to be where she is now. Because, for her future, for her personally, there will be no change. Because she cannot see anything but this life, and these choices, and this life she has chosen for herself.

You cannot change her.

I can’t change her.

But you can change yourself.

I can change myself.

You just have to believe, really believe—and then take the first step—and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next.

What are you waiting for?