I was watching Joel Osteen's Sunday service this week with my family like we do on most Sunday mornings. The message title was "#533, Go After the Prodigals" and focused on bringing back those who have "gotten lost" and are no longer going to church. I'm usually tuned into his messages of prosperity and abundance, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe because I felt like he was talking to me and I disagreed!
You see, I used to be an avid churchgoer. I went through a good part of my teenage years proselytizing and witnessing to others about the word of God. I'll spare you the details, but somewhere along the line I decided to take a different, more spiritual path not connected to a particular religion. I think of myself as a freelancer when it comes to religion, taking philosophies and approaches from different beliefs in order to shape my world.
I had a chance to watch an interview with Peyton Manning on NFL Today yesterday morning. James Brown asked him about his rehab progress. Peyton made some great comments that sparked my interest. I'll paraphrase below.
He said that he's always had pre-season goals and post-season goals. Now he has rehab goals. Also, he mentioned that he needs to be patient with getting better and not look too far ahead to predict the future of his career.
There are many times in our careers where something happens that throws us for a loop. In Peyton Manning's case, he sustained several neck injuries that have taken him out of the game for 12 weeks. Prior to that, I'm sure he had set goals on how many games the team would win, yards he would throw, and touchdowns he would help make. Now circumstances have caused him to throw those goals out the window. Instead of focusing on goals related to winning, he has had to shift his perspective to focus on getting and staying healthy.
I recently re-discovered the song "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. Although this song is about personal relationships, there's one line that resonates with me because it also can relate to our careers: "Can I handle the seasons of my life?".
Our professional lives go through seasons that don't necessarily correlate with seasons of the year. Unfortunately, we often get fixated on the sexy side of Spring and Summer and dread the slower times of Fall and Winter. Can you handle those slower seasons of your professional life?
I was recently chatting with a friend about her business. She mentioned that she was really busy now after somewhat of a dryspell. I mentioned that there is a feast or famine side to being in business for yourself and that the famine part is no fun.
It's true. I am guilty of feeling that way as well sometimes.
If you've read my blog or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you've probably noticed that I like finding spiritual messages in everyday places. Sometimes I'm watching a sitcom or reality show when someone's comment peaks my interest.
Earlier this year, I started designated certain celebrities and other public figures as honorary Spirit Drivers. These are people who have demonstrated the principles from my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel in their professional and personal lives.
So far, I have bestowed the Spirit Driver designation on the following individuals. They received a personal letter (an excerpt is included in the linked blog post) and an autographed copy of my book.
- U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin
- Baja Fresh CEO, David Kim
- Actor, Singer, Producer, Donnie Wahlberg
Since I let my Spirit guide me on when to make these Spirit Driver designations, I don't have a particular number that I'm giving out in a month or a year. Also, I don't take recommendations from others (sorry!). Instead, I just allow the messages to find me. Since the media often focuses on the crazy mishaps of celebrities and other public figures, I thought I would focus on putting some positive energy out there.
So, what exactly is a Spirit Driver? It is someone who meets many, if not all, of these criteria:
- You're authentic to who you are instead of living someone else's dream.
- You keep an eye on your GPS and enjoy the journey on the road of your professional life.
- You understand that Money is just one of your possible Success Drivers.
- You believe that you have a Destination (Mission) to reach through your professional life.
- You regularly Turn on Your Signals to recognize your role in the Universe.
- You shift Gears, when appropriate, based on the Signs you receive from the Universe.
- You aren't afraid of making occasional U-Turns.
It's always a pleasant surprise to receive an acknowledgement, but that isn't the point of this exercise. It's just a fun way to reach out to others and let them know that their efforts aren't going unnoticed.
Also, please know that I'm not saying that these individuals are perfect. That isn't what being a Spirit Driver is about. Instead, it means that a significant event in their past or something about the way they live their lives now continues to meets the above criteria.
Those of you who know me personally know what a huge New Kids on the Block fan I am. I follow them all on Twitter to keep track of any upcoming appearances. Imagine my surprise when I noticed all of the positive and spiritually-focused tweets coming from one of the members of the group, Donnie Wahlberg.
Here's the letter that I enclosed with my autographed book in August 2011 (around his birthday):
First, I want to wish you a belated Happy Birthday. I have been an NKOTB fan since the late 80's. I was interested in writing to you now after reading all of your positive tweets.
As an author, speaker, trainer, and entrepreneur, I understand what it means to work hard and strive toward my dreams. In today's world, it's common for many people to avoid hard work and focus on having an easy, cushy lifestyle. You've proven to me that “rising and grinding” is a way of life.
Please accept my book as a gift to you. You are the type of person that I am writing about. Someone who is passionate about his work and even sees adversity as a blessing. Someone who knows that the Universe has something in store for him and shares his gifts with the world. Someone who has fun with life and encourages others to do the same. It's no wonder that you had such an outpouring of gifts and good wishes for you on your birthday.
Thanks again for all that you do. I wish you the best in all of your personal and professional endeavors. I will definitely continue to follow you on Twitter as it brings a smile to my face everyday!
In April 2011, I was watching an episode of "Undercover Boss" where the CEO of Baja Fresh, David Kim, went undercover to work alongside his employees. I really enjoyed watching how the experience of going undercover transformed the way Mr. Kim interacted with his employees and his family.
Here's the letter that I enclosed with my autographed book:
I enjoyed watching your episode of “Undercover Boss” yesterday. It is by far one of my favorite shows on television today. As an entrepreneur, I enjoy seeing the story behind the leadership of well-known companies.
I was especially touched by what you said about success. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget about what is really important – relationships with parents, your family, and your overall experiences in life. Whenever I find myself focusing on material things, I take a step back to think about what is really important.
Since you are a religious and spiritual person, I wanted to give you this gift of my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel. You embody a lot of the principles that I discuss. You demonstrated how you recognize the Spirit of the people that work for Baja Fresh®. You understand that many of them have dreams and want to go further in their lives. I also liked the way that you asked about their personal lives and realized how much of an effect that can have on how they perform professionally. The gifts that you gave to your employees were invaluable. I'm sure that you made an impression on them that they will never forget.
Thank you for being a good example of the moral and caring CEOs in this world. I wish you continued success in your personal and professional life.
Since my business is focused on Web design and development, I have seen a barrage of posts about the recent GoDaddy CEO elephant hunting video. For those that don't know, GoDaddy is well-known for their risque commercials to help promote, of all things, Web site hosting. They are also a VERY popular provider of many services related to the Web.
I have to admit that I do see both sides of the story. He was participating in the hunt as a part of a normal ritual to get rid of problem elephants and provide food for others. However, the video was quite graphic and involved hunting an endangered animal that many of us don't think of as a choice for providing sustenance. I'm not here to judge either side's motives.
Instead, I wanted to focus on the underlying message. PETA is encouraging people to move their Web sites away from GoDaddy. And Change.org has a petition that has been signed by over 3,500 people at the time of this blog post. There are many companies offering discounts and specials to GoDaddy customers that want to move their accounts. (Full disclosure: My company also jumped on the bandwagon with an offer to donate some of our hosting fees to PETA.)
I found these "urgings to move" to be interesting for several reasons:
- CEOs that are well-known (almost celebrities) will be under more scrutiny when it comes to their personal lives.
- Things that business owners do that are unrelated to their business have an effect on what their customers think of their business.
- Even though we may not word it this way, we do care about the Spirit of the company and that of the person who is running it.
Bottom line, as business owners we all have to be on our p's and q's. The Internet makes it easy for people to watch your every move. My Spirit Driving Institute blog provides an outlet for me to voice my opinions on issues like this. I know how important it is to act with integrity because I never know who is watching. The same is true for my primary business.
What do you think? How much does a CEO's personal actions weigh on your opinion of the company?
In March 2011, I was watching the NAACP Image Awards and was inspired by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin's story. She overcame many obstacles to keep her health clinic open. Her inner drive allowed her to stay focused and eventually landed her the lucrative position of U.S. Surgeon General.
Here's the letter that I enclosed with my autographed book:
I was interested in writing to you after seeing you win the Chairman's Award on the NAACP Image Awards. As a young African-American woman, I was inspired by your story.
After watching what you had to endure to launch and keep your health clinic open, I was amazed to see a woman who believes so much in her dream and has a strong faith that keeps her going. I have encountered adversities in my business, but nothing like what you have seen.
Please accept my book as a gift to you. You are the type of woman that I am writing about. Someone who is passionate about her work and doesn't give up even if it seems like everything is against her. Someone who knows that the Universe has something in store for her and rides the figurative and literal storms to get to something bigger and better.
It's nice to know that someone so passionate is in charge of public health in our nation. As a mother of a toddler, I am concerned about her health and dedicated to providing her a healthy, natural lifestyle. Also, I am glad to see your support of breastfeeding.
Thanks again for your inspiring story. I wish you the best in your position and will continue to follow your work.
She graciously wrote back a few days later. I was pleased to receive her thoughtful response.
As you may know, I have a toddler daughter who just loves her PBS Kids shows. One of her favorites is SuperWhy. We watch it every weekday morning. Like any good kids show, they believe in repetition to reinforce a concept. Today, for some reason, a part that I've seen over and over really stood out to me.
Here's a short synopsis of the show. There are four kids (the Super Readers) who love to read. In each episode, one of the Super Readers has a problem that they need to solve. In order to figure out how to solve the problem, they read a well-known storybook for clues. At a turning point in the show, they get to a part of the story that could really help them solve the problem. They soon realize, however, that they won't be able to solve anything if they do things exactly as the story is written. When they ask the main storybook character if they could do something different, the main character always respond in a similar way, "I can't, because it's in my story". Instead of just reading the story as is, the Super Readers decide to pick a new word or phrase to make the story better and solve the main storybook character's as well as the Super Reader's problem.
I'm sure that phrase, "I can't, because it's in my story" crops up in our minds more often than we'd like to admit. I am all about being cautious and learning from our past experiences, but we can also use the past to remain a prisoner to our thoughts. We get used to doing things the same way all the time. It is almost like we have a storybook in our heads telling us what to do. Whether it's going after a promotion, applying for a new job, moving to a new city, or trying a new hobby, we might tell ourselves that we can't do something because of how it turned out last time. What a dangerous thought.
I really like this concept of changing our story so that we don't get stuck in a rut. In my Web business, we are often making changes to improve it for ourselves and our clients. One part that changes often are the team members that we work with on our projects. My familiar storybook phrase would become, 'It's hard to find good people.' Every time we would have to go through the process of finding someone new, I would find myself saying, "I can't find anyone new because it didn't work out last time". Instead, I began to tell myself that this is a new day, a new situation, and new opportunities are available. I changed my storybook phrase to 'It's easy to find good people.'
What storybook phrase do you tell yourself that you can't change? How is it keeping you from moving forward?
I enjoyed the interview with Lady Gaga on 60 Minutes. Always searching for spiritual messages in unlikely places, I found three areas from the interview that we can all apply to our lives.
- You've got to admire her over-the-topness. She turned her insecurities that she felt during her school years into an asset. Back then, she said that the kids made fun of her and she felt like she didn't fit in. Lady Gaga decided to take it to the other extreme by making herself stand out even more. Talk about using your Power Tool to reach success!
- It's also nice to hear someone talk about controlling how she appears to the others - specifically the media. Lady Gaga said that she's very open, which gives others the impression that she has nothing to hide. In reality, she is selecting what people know about her. We can all learn from this in our lives even if we aren't celebrities. Of course, there are certain parts of your life that do need to remain private. But, sharing more of your Personality makes you more real and allows more people to relate to you. No need to be shy.
- She seems to be having fun with her fame and sees the "game" in it. In a way she takes herself seriously and in other ways she doesn't take herself too seriously. After studying so many celebrities, she seems to understand what helped and hindered them in their success. Now, she's just having fun with the process. Remember, it's all about the journey and not getting caught up in the craziness of every situation.
What's your take on Lady Gaga's philosophy?