Drive. Align. Shift. Spirit Driving Institute Blog by Leila Johnson

2Feb/11Off

Everybody’s talking, but is anyone listening?

You may have been wondering why I haven't been communicating as much through my usual channels lately (Twitter, Facebook, blog, newsletter, etc.). Maybe it's the introspective feeling that seems to accompany the Winter season. Or maybe it's something deeper.

You'll remember last month that I did some rebranding of my message and my site. In January, I started promoting my new classes through my usual channels. Somehow, something just didn't feel quite right, yet. I began to get weary of what was becoming the usual grind of social media and other content updates. It led me to have a conversation with my husband/business partner about this whole marketing process. I boiled it down to the title of this post: "Everybody's talking, but is anyone listening?"

As a society we tend to get bombarded with information and don't ever get away from it. I am a techie and completely understand being connected to some device for a large part of my day. Unfortunately, I don't think we unwind enough.

I subscribe to only about 10 e-mail newsletters of interest to my work through Spirit Driving Institute and sometimes that feels like too much. I began to read these newsletters with a different point of view. How many blogs, radio shows, newsletters, marketing opportunities, etc. do we need? And if everyone is trying so hard to be seen, get known, and deliver their message, who's left to read it?

Also, each time I would come back to my blog last month to write something new, I encountered a bunch of comments waiting for my approval. They weren't real responses, mind you. Just spam messages from people trying to ride the traffic wave from my site so that they could get a linkback.

So, there I was thinking about all of this during the time when I usually send out my newsletter. I was in the midst of feeling like I was contributing to the information overload for folks. One word kept resonating with me - SIMPLIFY. It's a great word that can apply to so many areas of life and business.

While I don't have the perfect solution to this yet, I have made a vow to myself. Instead of writing for the sake of writing or promoting myself for the sake of promoting, I am only going to do it when I feel moved to do so. I refuse to promote things out of obligation or just because everyone else is doing it that way.

Instead, I'm just going to have fun and find different ways to get out there that feel right to me. If you don't see as much from me, don't worry, I haven't disappeared. I'm just taking a breather and re-energizing to share something meaningful.

Until the next time. :)

27Oct/10Off

Putting the Puzzle of Your Life Together

I watched Jane Fonda on Oprah and enjoyed what she had to say about her childhood, growing up, and becoming whole. It sounds cliche, but so much of how you look at your life now depends on your childhood. Those that are most successful decide not to be put in shackles if they had a less than wonderful childhood or, as Jane Fonda put it, had parents who didn't "show up".

Jane Fonda mentioned doing a life review so that you can put the "puzzle of your life together". It's a symbolic activity that will help you to put everything in its place and figure out why you are who you are. In other words, it's a way to get a complete picture of your Personality.

Fonda went a step further and interviewed those who were key players in her younger years. Keep in mind that this isn't about pointing fingers to place blame. And it's not about trying to find all the things that you want to change about yourself. It's an activity to help you feel whole and content with who you are so that you can move forward to more success.

I chose to use my book as my life review (at least of the first ~30 years). It was a cathartic way of putting the puzzle of my life together. I talk about my successes and struggles as a person, in school, on the job, in my business, with family, and with friends. It hasn't been a perfect life and, honestly, it shouldn't be. Also, it hasn't been easy, and it shouldn't be. Every part of it has shaped my Personality and helped me to become the success that I am today.

And a final thought on success. You'll hear me use that word a lot on my blog and, of course, in my book. When I speak of success, I want you to know that it doesn't come from a place of arrogance and it isn't all about money and advancement. It is more so about a feeling of contentment. The definition of success will be different for everyone.

Have you completed a life review? How did it feel? How has it helped you to define who you are now?

13Oct/10Off

The Land of Obligations

Last week, I had several sales and project meetings, was finalizing the publication process for my book, and was trying to schedule time to go to Balloon Fiesta. Although I consider myself to be pretty organized, every morning I found myself saying things like this:

  • I need to make the agenda for this meeting.
  • I have to assign tasks for this project.
  • I should take time to research this problem.
  • I have to review this before I can pass it on to the next person.
  • I need to find time to schedule a follow-up meeting.

You'll notice that these all use obligatory words: 'need', 'have to', 'should'. I realized that I was placing pressure on myself to get things done on a deadline that actually could have been more flexible.Words are powerful and carry a certain energy with them. I found that the words themselves made me feel worn down and overburdened.

I was automatically giving the tasks negative connotations and assuming that I wouldn't have time to complete them. My time is very important to me. If you've read my book, you'll remember that Time is one of the four Success Drivers or ways that you can define success for yourself. So, I'm not surprised that Time was an important factor in the way I was viewing my workload.

Just for fun, I decided to become more aware of when I used these obligatory words. I was shocked by how often I did it whether I was talking to myself or someone else. After taking this mental inventory, I decided I would replace the words with others that had more positive energy. I call this 'flipping the script'.

Here are the same phrases with those replacements:

  • I plan to make the agenda for this meeting today.
  • I'll make time to assign tasks for this project.
  • I think it would be good to research this problem.
  • I'll provide my feedback on this so that I can pass it on to the next person.
  • I'll be able to schedule a follow-up meeting.

Replacing words might seem like a completely pointless thing to do, especially if you're only saying the words to yourself. I encourage you to monitor your obligatory words anyway. They might not be the same as mine and that's OK. I'll bet that you will find your attitude about the task changes just by making that change in wording.

P.S. I did manage to fit in time for all of the work I wanted to do and an early morning Mass Ascension at Balloon Fiesta!

10Jun/10Off

What I Learned about Life from P. Diddy

Tonight I watched Sean "P. Diddy" Combs on Nightline. I was a big fan of his music in the 90's. It's always fun to see celebrities grow older and hear what they think about themselves and their place in the world. I was reading some tweets about him after the interview and came across words like rude, cheesy, self-important, no shame, and full-of-it. I can see how he comes across that way. The funny thing is that these opinions don't seem to bother him.

Even through all of that, I found 3 takeaways after listening to Martin Bashir's interview with him.

Your Spirit is different as you grow older.

Martin asked P. Diddy (paraphrasing), How do you enter your 40's as a hardcore gansta rapper?. He responded by saying that you don't do the same things because your Spirit is different. You can't do the same things when you are 40 that you did when you were 20. He gave an example from his music by saying that he now sings more about love. I agree with that with one caveat. It's not that you can't do the same things, it's just that sometimes it doesn't make sense to do the same things. You mature and your life changes, so you decide to let your Spirit drive you in a different way.

Even the most successful people feel like failures sometimes.

When asked about his 6 kids, P. Diddy admitted that he hasn't been the most successful at being a father. We often hold celebrities up to higher standards and expect them to be perfect at everything. They are obviously human too and run into some of the same challenges as non-celebrities. It was refreshing to hear that P. Diddy didn't think he was a perfect father. He has such a confident demeanor as an entrepreneur that it's easy to forget that he might have a vulnerable side when it comes to his personal life. I think we all have to be honest with ourselves and realistic about our ability to be a success in all areas of our lives.

Offer your brand to the world.

Martin Bashir closed the interview by saying that P. Diddy would now be going back to what he does best by offering his brand to the world. This isn't limited to celebrities. It's just that branding is more prominent when it comes to famous people and businesses. We all have a brand, a specific demeanor that is unique to us. Another name for it is our Personality. We shouldn't hide who we are to fit into someone else's mold. For example, P. Diddy doesn't worry about people thinking he's a megalomaniac. You don't have to go to that extreme, but just stay true to yourself.

What did you think of the interview? Any other redeeming takeaways?

20May/10Off

Phyllis Mufson – Catalyst for Personal & Professional Growth

About a month ago, I met Phyllis via Twitter (don't you love social media!). I had been reading her posts for awhile and thought that she might have something of value to offer to my readers. I was right! Phyllis has offered something called "Your Personal Retreat." It includes an article and audio exercises to help you take some time out for yourself and look at your life. You can also do these exercises with friends.

Don't forget to purchase my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, today (May 20th) to get 8 great bonus gifts!

Here's my interview with Phyllis about how she lets her Spirit drive in her professional life.

Hi Phyllis. Thanks so much for offering a bonus gift to my readers. Could you tell everyone more about yourself and your business.

I’m both a career / business consultant and certified life coach with an international clientele of creative and enterprising people. My overall aim is to help individuals develop fulfilling work while growing personally and professionally. I’ve coached and consulted in the career field for more than twenty-three years.  I trained as a coach and was awarded certification through the Coach Training Institute and have also completed further training in Co-Active Leadership and Somatic Coaching. I’m qualified in the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), which is a highly validated instrument that identifies individual preferences, and helps clients understand themselves and others better.

I’ve been interviewed in over seventy newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post and have spoken on career topics on radio and television. Currently I write about Boomer careers for Job-Hunt.org (http://www.job-hunt.org/boomer-job-search/boomer-job-search.shtml) and on personal development for the international women’s service organization Soroptimist: (http://www.soroptimist.org/LiveYourDream/LifeCoach.html).

It sounds like you're busy doing a lot of fun and creative ventures. I'm sure all of this didn't happen overnight. What has your professional journey looked like so far?

In the past I served as director of Career Services at Moore College of Art and Design, and as a marketing and public relations writer. I’ve served on the U. S. board of the Association of Career Professionals International (ACP) as well as the boards of the ACP’s Philadelphia chapter and Business Women’s Network.

A benefit to my clients from my level of experience is that, having worked with so many people, I can usually see into what they are telling me and quickly get to the nub of what is bothering them.
Before beginning my career as a life coach and consultant, I was an artist working in textile design, creating wall pieces, one-of-a-kind fashion, and custom textiles for interior designers. My work sold nationally through retailers from New York: Bergdorf Goodman and Julie’s Artisan Gallery to San Francisco: the “Obiko” art wear boutique, and is held in individual and corporate collections. With my partner Richard Valentino, I founded the San Francisco School and Gallery of Textile Arts, and wrote the book “Fabric Printing: Screen Method.” I was a winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant in crafts.

I am fortunate that in addition to being a creative person, I’m good at business and I have the ability to think strategically. Since early in my career I have earned part of my living helping other artists and designers earn a livelihood.

Currently I find artistic expression making jewelry. You can see my work online at Personal Treasures http://personaltreasures.etsy.com and Mufi Jewels http://mufi.etsy.com.

Very nice pieces! That's wonderful to have that creative outlet. Since you've had several professional experiences (both paid and volunteer), how did you you decide on the next path to take to get you where you are today?

At a time when I was looking for a new career direction, a light bulb came on when I saw Stand and Deliver, a movie about a dedicated math teacher who works with drop-out students. I cried throughout the movie. Fortunately, rather than comforting me and trying to get me to stop crying, my partner asked me questions about what moved me so much. I responded that I was moved by the way the Edward James Olmos character inspired his students. I realized I wanted to focus my work on this quality of inspiration.

That discovery led me to approach Barbara Sher, a personal growth author and one of the pre-cursors to the field of coaching. Her book “Wishcraft” fascinated me, and I asked her permission to design a workshop based on it. Not only did she give her permission, but to encourage me, she generously introduced me to the audience and had me talk about the workshop the next time she spoke in Philadelphia.

Soon after, I was hired by an international career management firm to lead workshops to help laid-off executives choose a new direction and learn and practice job search skills. Although I was new to the field, they chose me over candidates with training and experience. I discovered later that I was hired because they saw me clearly as ‘a natural,’ and they trained me in their methods. It was an inspired time for me and I felt encouraged by the help and mentoring I received.

I have been given a great gift that has made my life much happier. My work is so well suited to me that it’s a pleasure and I’m always interested in learning and developing more. This is what I want for my clients as well.

Wow, that's beautiful. Talk about everything falling into place! Now that you're doing such great work, what do you use as an indicator of your continued success?

My success is my client’s success, and success for my clients is clearly visible. If they are looking for a new direction; they find out what they want to do and make the transition. If they are looking to grow their business, it is very clear that our work together is productive because their business is growing. If they want a better job, they get hired.

As a result my practice grows almost entirely as a result of referrals. What I am most proud of is there are families where I have worked with everyone, including cousins. First the parents, then the children as they graduated from school, and then again as they matured and grew in their careers.

Thanks so much for your time and sharing your story!


Don't forget to purchase my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, today (May 20th) to get 8 great bonus gifts (including one from Phyllis)!

20May/10Off

Jennifer Monahan, Author

Jennifer reached out to me via my e-book launch blog post. She was nice enough to vote for me in The Next Top Spiritual Author competition. We share a similar philosophy about education and its role in the journey of life.

Jennifer has written a book about her journey that also has a driving theme, literally. Her book is called An American in Oz: Discovering the Island Continent of Australia. Those of you that enjoyed reading Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia should check it out. Jennifer is including the introduction to her book as one of the 8 bonus gifts if you purchase Driving to Success today.

Don't forget to purchase my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, today (May 20th) to get 8 great bonus gifts (including one from Jennifer)!

Here's my interview with Jennifer on how she lets her Spirit drive in her professional life.

Jennifer, how would you summarize your professional life?
I am a writer and speaker, and I have come a long way from selling stamps for the US Postal Service.

Definitely! Do you remember what you said you wanted to be when you grew up?

A writer.  I was 40 when I remembered that tidbit!

Ha! It's funny how it can take awhile to remember those childhood dreams. What has your professional journey been like so far?
Courageous, crazy, and the only thing worth doing.

It's great how you were able to take a courageous trip to Australia and turn it into something that made your childhood dream come true. What was your process of deciding on the next path to take?
I had heard often enough from family and friends, "You should write a book."  I decided to listen to those who knew me better than I knew myself at the time.  Once I started writing, it was as if I came home to myself and knew it was the only path to take.

That's wonderful. What do you use as an indicator of your success?
How many doors open in the most surprising of places.

Yes, doors do seem to open even when you're not expecting it. You seem like an ambitious person, so how do you decide which door to walk through?
I listen to the voice within, and when I hear the same idea over and over again, I make a commitment to follow through.  Right now, it's to put all things aside and make my book into an ebook.  Crazy as this sounds, it was my first goal to make an ebook before the pbook (printed version), but the pbook insisted on coming out first.  I'm glad it's here, and now it's time for the ebook.

It's great to hear about another author's process. Jennifer, before you go, do you have any words of advice to share with my readers?
Following your heart, taking the road less traveled, takes a tremendous amount of faith, courage, and perseverance.  The good news is, it's worth every worry, tear, and angst to get to the other side into freedom.  Everyone who has taken this path experiences the same struggle, and everyone experiences the same reward of freedom.

Thank you. Again, Jennifer's book is An American in Oz: Discovering the Island Continent of Australia.

And don't forget to purchase my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, today (May 20th) to get 8 great bonus gifts (including one from Jennifer)!

20May/10Off

Interview with Rebecca Dakota, Visions Video Productions

I had the pleasure of working with Rebecca while serving on a nonprofit board in Albuquerque. Rebecca is passionate about helping local businesses and her current entrepreneurial efforts support that passion. During that time, we had many chances to discuss our spiritual approaches to life. I was pleased to have Rebecca provide an endorsement of my book.

Don't forget to purchase my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, today (May 20th) to get 8 great bonus gifts!

Here's my interview with Rebecca about how she lets her Spirit drive in her professional life.

Rebecca, tell my readers a little more about your business.
I own Visions Video Productions, an independent production company focused on what connects us to each other and the earth. Along with documentaries on social justice and environmental issues, I use my skills to help local business owners have a better video presence on their Web sites.

That an important part of Web sites nowadays. I'm curious how close your current profession is to what you said you wanted to be when you grew up.
I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic magazine.

Not too far off since National Geographic's tagline is "Inspiring people to care about the planet"! How would you describe your professional journey so far?
A weave of creative/entrepreneurial and community leadership.

As you created your professional tapestry, how did you decide on the next step in your path?
Inner guidance, outer changes, patience and perseverance! I quit a part-time job that was taking too much away from this passion of making videos and movies that matter. After making that decision and taking that leap, a different part-time job fell into my lap and I now have more energy for doing the creative work of movie-making.

How wonderful to have things fall into place like that. When you do make a change like you did, what do you use as an indicator of your success?
Whether I feel peaceful.

Very nice. And I'm sure you continue to set goals for yourself even if you already feel successful. Do you have any special tips for my readers on knowing which goals to drive toward?
I pick those things that have what I call "sparkles" around them -- whether big or small, the things that pull me and energize me become my goals.

Thanks so much for your time, Rebecca. Any other comments or things you would like my readers to know?
I can be reached!  My phone # is (505) 858-1868.

Don't forget to purchase my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel, today (May 20th) to get 8 great bonus gifts!

4Mar/10Off

Taking a Break Brings Clarity

A few days ago, I was trying to figure out how to solve a problem with a client's Web site. The funny thing is that I remembered solving a similar problem not too long ago. For some reason that answer just wasn't coming to me. At first, I focused hard on the problem. I looked through e-mails, past documentation, and searched online. It was frustrating running into dead ends.

So, I decided to take a break and clear my head. Almost like magic, within a few minutes, the solution came to me.

It's funny that the exact opposite of what you expect can bring results. I find that focusing too hard on something actually seems to push it away. Now, I was just trying to solve one issue. Imagine if you were trying hard to reach a goal. I'm sure you've been in a situation where you wanted something so badly that you did everything you could to make it happen. It could be a raise, a promotion, one new client, or several big contracts.

We can all get so obsessed with our goals that the Universe almost says, "You don't trust that this can happen. So, I'm just going to wait until you do." As a result, your dream job or client or business feels further and further away.

If you just relax and give in to the process, this allows the Universe to work the way it does best. It can get through the clutter of your mind and give you answers. Actually, the Universe is always trying to give you answers. It's just that your mind can be so preoccupied with things that you can't even hear the answers. This is why taking a break is so meaningful when driving toward your goals.

If you're looking for a fun way to take a break, check out the The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. All of us are artists in one way or another. We all have something that we are creating - ideas, products, or services. She talks about The Artist Date as a way of getting your creativity to flow. For one of my artist dates, I went miniature golfing by myself. Although I got some strange looks from others wondering where the rest of my party was, I had fun taking that time to clear my mind.

20Feb/10Off

Slippery Slope of Choosing to Be Happy

We've all heard it before from other self-help gurus. They suggest you just change your outlook, choose to be happy, and everything else will fall into place. I disagree with that.

The problem with just putting on a happy face is that sometimes you're deluding yourself. You're pretending that everything is fine. And worse, you're pretending that you like your life the way that it is. What about applying that theory to your career?

A recent study showed that 55% of Americans are unhappy with their careers. I know, I know. You can't believe every statistic you read. But even if the number were only 15%, it makes you wonder why people are unhappy and how long they've been that way. I have a poll on my site called "How do you feel about your job or business?". The majority of those who have responded would fall into that 55%.

Have you tried to tell yourself or someone else to just have a positive outlook on their career even if they dislike it? It works for a little bit, but it isn't a permanent feeling. If you spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week on the job, it's hard to pretend to be happy for that long.

Choosing to be happy in your career might work in specific situations: a meeting you don't want to attend, a report you don't want to write, a presentation you don't want to give. It's not a good idea to pretend that you are happy with all aspects of your career if it truly doesn't fit where you want to be in your life. Instead, use the energy you're spending trying to be happy to plan what you want to change.

16Feb/10Off

Perspective on Your Journey

My husband and I used to go on a lot of road trips. I can remember that every one had some element of surprise - everything from getting a speeding ticket to having a baby bear jump out in the middle of the road. We would always have a good story to tell at the end of the trip.

The most memorable parts of the trip were often those things that seemed to be the most annoying or troublesome at the time. As I scan through my professional journey, I'm realizing that the same is true. I start to look back on the times when I was stressed or worried about a situation. What I remember most are the people who were there during those times and how I was able to move past the situation.

For example, I can remember a couple years ago when we were planning to buy some office space. On the way to the location, someone rear-ended us. After we were done with our meeting, we discovered that our previous Web host had suffered from a hacking attempt. We were scrambling to get our clients' Web sites back up and running. Both situations quickly diverted our attention away from everything related to buying that space.