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

4Apr/14Off

When Life Closes a Door…

...the Universe opens a window, as they say. Sometimes life is so random. I'm sure it makes sense somewhere in the grand architecture of things.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been feeling "driven" to make some changes professionally. It's been an interesting experience so far. I've heard many "no's", which is to be expected. It bothers me in the moment, but then I get excited because I realize that it means I'm one step closer to a "yes".

21Mar/14Off

Continuing the Journey

I have had a wonderful year of self-reflection. In looking back on my career, I have always made some type of career transition in the Spring. It's appropriate that I am writing this on the first full day of the season (our meteorologists made sure to clarify that Spring officially started at 11a MDT yesterday!).

Recently I purchased the book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0. It has changed the way I look at myself. For the past 10+ years, I have primarily seen myself as the co-owner of Data-Scribe. Now, there's nothing wrong with this. It's just that my professional identity has BEEN this instead of having it be a PART of it. This book has helped me to define myself in a new way. You can see some of this reflected in my LinkedIn profile. For instance, I've added this blog and my food blog to my current positions and I've rebranded myself as an information professional, which ties in all of my skills. (NOTE: Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn as I am eager to grow my network!)

23Nov/11Off

Can You Handle the Seasons of Your Professional Life?

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.

11Sep/11Off

What September 11th Means to Me

On this 10th anniversary of September 11th, I am struck by many things. Today I'll talk about my personal reflections. I can't believe what a different life I lead now. And I can't believe how that event indirectly shaped my career path and personal life.

Please know that I always feel weird telling this story because it seems trivial in light of the tragedies that happened. Yet, it is something that I feel compelled to share. I hope this inspires you to find the many more powerful, inspirational stories that can help you make sense of the day.

A little over ten years ago, I was working at a mutual fund company in Denver whose headquarters was in the World Trade Center. I worked for the quality assurance team in their call center. I wasn't entirely happy with my job and wanted something different. After researching the different opportunities that were available in the company, I settled on applying to become a call center trainer. It looked like a fun job to me and I knew I had the qualifications.

On that Monday, September 10th, I turned in my job application to the local Human Resources Department and felt confident about the possibilities. Then, Tuesday rolled around. Of course, the office was chaotic. We were preparing for an onslaught of phone calls from shareholders wondering what was happening with their money. Instead, the call center was eerily silent. We were all glued to the televisions as we wondered what was happening to our fellow employees in the North Tower. Somehow all of our co-workers made it out of the building before it fell. Our bosses told our department to stay home the rest of the week because there really wasn't anything for us to do.

So, there I was at home staying glued to the television with my fear of leaving the house increasing every minute. My boyfriend at the time used to travel around the country as a corporate trainer for a different company. He was supposed to fly out to St. Louis on September 11th. But the training class was changed, so he flew out the day before. Since air traffic was grounded for over a week, he wasn't able to fly home as planned at the end of that week. It was strange being at home by myself all that time without being able to share this experience with him. That weekend, he rented a car and drove over 12 hours to make it home.

Things at work somewhat settled down after several weeks. It was around that time that I saw an announcement about the new trainers that were selected for the call center trainer positions. My name was not on the list. Being the overachiever that I am, I decided to check in with HR to find out why I wasn't selected and why I didn't even get the chance to interview. The HR associate looked through her paperwork and found that she didn't even have my job application on file. She asked when I turned it in. I told her it was on September 10th. She paused and then apologized saying that it must have gotten lost in all of the chaos.

I was upset, but after reflecting on things, I realized that this must have happened for a reason. It was also at that time that my boyfriend and I felt like we shouldn't waste time in our lives. We had been talking about getting married. Once he got back that weekend, our talks started to become more of a reality. We were married the following year and are still going strong. We also talked about what we really wanted to do career-wise and began to take steps toward becoming entrepreneurs. That became a reality in 2003.

Now that I look at my life as an a stay-at-home mom, wife, entrepreneur, and author, I can see several events that helped to get me where I am today. I am so thankful for my life.

On this anniversary, I was glued to the TV again, but this time watching the memorial events. As I listened to the stories of families and friends affected by the tragedies, I am reminded of many things:

The "stresses" in my life that really aren't that stressful

How quickly your life and the world can change

How important it is not to waste time on trivial things, but focus on your dreams and how you can achieve them

The importance of family and friends during the happy and sad times

I hope that my story can help you find a glimmer of hope and positivity today to help you move forward in your life.

7Mar/11Off

It’s in My Story

Super WHY (c) Out of the Blue Enterprises

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?

22Feb/11Off

Repacking Your Baggage

Recently, I had the opportunity to review some parts of my past and look at them from a different point of view. We all hold long-standing beliefs based on what we've experienced during childhood and young adulthood. If you are at the point of Shifting Your Perspective in the Drive. Align. Shift. Program, you have two choices. You can decide to unpack your baggage or you can decide to repack your baggage.

Depending on what you choose, there is a huge difference in the way you move forward in life.

  • Unpacking your baggage is a quick way of trying to resolve past issues. It involves getting rid of those memories, limiting beliefs, family, friends, and other factors that seem to be affecting your life now. Unfortunately, you're not resolving anything, just simply avoiding it.
  • Repacking your baggage takes more time and effort, but makes a larger difference. It involves opening up the baggage and checking out the contents. You can take out each item, unfold it, look at it, refold it, and place it in a better spot.

Let me give you a concrete example. When I was growing up, I always felt like the ugly duckling. No one would have ever known it because I exuded confidence on every level. I made people believe that I was secure in myself and didn't let anything hold me back. Even after I became an adult and began to feel better about my appearance, that ugly duckling mentality would rear its head at key times when I should have been feeling very confident. The funny thing is that I would start to feel that way even in situations that had nothing to do with outward appearance.

If I were unpacking my baggage, I would have decided to get rid of all the memories that reminded me of being an ugly duckling - the boys that didn't like me or the people that made fun of me. This is a great way to just clear out everything painful and not have to deal with it anymore. But, it's not healthy.

Instead, I could repack my baggage and look at the memories differently. I could even take it a step further and talk with those people who made me feel that way. I had the opportunity to do this recently and realized that people weren't trying to hurt me intentionally. They had a different point of view on the experience that had nothing to do with my appearance. Repacking my baggage required more work, more time, and made me more vulnerable in having to address these items. But in the end, it was an awesome way to shift my perspective and move forward in a more confident way.

So, are you holding on to baggage that isn't serving you well? Have you completely unpacked it? Or, are you ready to start the process of repacking?

If the baggage involves other people, can you contact them to get a different perspective on the situation? If not, can you meditate on that time period in order to see it differently? Yes, it will be a more intense emotional journey, but it will help you feel freer, lighter, and have an easier time with your current place in the Universe.

20Dec/10Off

Drive. Align. Shift.

You may have noticed that my site and blog have a new tagline that encompasses the work that I do: Drive. Align. Shift. It is a bold statement showing the progression we should all take to have a successful life. I have developed new courses around this concept to help you take the necessary steps to be fulfilled in all areas of your life.

Drive with Purpose.

Some people aren't even on the road. They just blindly go through life and let it happen to them instead of taking some responsibility. The easiest option for these folks is to complain about their job, house, spouse, kids, and everything else in between. Instead of looking at everyone else and every other circumstance, they should look within for the source of their problem - thinking that a lack of action will lead to change in their lives.

Believe it or not, this used to describe me many years ago. I've made a lot of changes in my life to get to where I am today. If you're interested in making a change, you have to make a commitment to Drive with Purpose.

Make no excuses. Get on the road and do something. If you're not driving, you're not living. Remember, though that navigating does not equal complete control. There are some things that you have to leave up to the Universe, but you must be a willing partner in order to move forward.

Align Your Goals.

Once you're driving on the road, you will have some work to do. Again, there are people who think it's good enough to just be on the road and watch everyone else. They have a false sense of security where they are and convince themselves that they are happy with life as it is. Usually these are the people who avoid changing their course and don't even bother setting goals.

I remember the times when I was frustrated with goal-setting because I was failing at my goals or it was taking too long to achieve them. If you want a better goal-setting and achievement strategy, you have to focus on how to Align Your Goals in all parts of your life.

It doesn't make sense to have goals that don't connect. We all have different roles that should connect and make you who you are. Goals that you make for each of these areas should complement each other. Also, you have to keep in mind that you may not achieve all of your goals in the way that you're expecting. Sometimes you Drive with Purpose and set a goal that is on-mission, but you don't reach that goal. There are other reasons for going through that experience.

Shift Your Perspective.

After being on the road for awhile and making some changes, the scenery will start to look monotonous. You've become familiar with the typical challenges you face and know how to overcome them. You hang around similar people and just breathe in each others' fumes. This is the time to really break out of your shell and do something different with your life.

I have been comfortable with my life at different times in the past and was afraid of making a change that could bring even more success and happiness. If you're content with where you are, but feel that more fulfillment could be just around the corner, your next step is to Shift Your Perspective.

Shifting involves doing a lot of inner work. You have to continue to let go and see the lessons in life as a way to allow you to see more of the world. Your purpose becomes clear. You see your life as an example for others. It can be scary to challenge some of your long-standing beliefs, but this is the only path to true growth.

I'm sure you saw yourself in at least one part of this progression. Check out my upcoming courses in the Drive. Align. Shift. Program. I would recommend starting from the beginning to get the most benefit from the program.

7Jul/10Off

Cruise Control Makes Me Feel Out of Control

As I mentioned in my last post, I had some insights about actual driving and Spirit Driving while on my recent roadtrip. This first one cracks me up.

When we're driving, my husband likes using the cruise control once we're on a nice stretch of highway without a lot of traffic. He always encourages me to do the same. I've used it a few times, but something about it makes me feel out of control. I always worry that I'm going to have to change lanes or slow down suddenly and that I'm going to forget which button to press.

My husband will say, "Don't worry. You know how to do it. Hold down this button to slow down and this one to speed up." Inevitably, when the time comes when I need to accelerate or decelerate, I get flustered and decide to stomp on the gas or the brake. It still accomplishes the same task, but defeats the purpose of cruise control. Then, I tell my husband, "See, I told you I would forget."

The reason this cracks me up so much is that our little exchange about driving is very similar to the way we converse about goals. It's very hard for me to just go with the flow. I'm always trying to plan ahead and anticipate the next step. I feel that I can only get ahead if I'm in control and don't have some outside force guiding me.

But, guess what? There are outside forces that guide all of us. They aren't steering for us, but they do help us to move forward. It might not be at the speed that we want. And it might not be exactly the way that we envisioned. Nevertheless, it's going to happen. And we can't completely control it. Yes, even the author of Driving to Success has to remind herself of this sometimes.

No matter how in control you feel when it comes to your goals, no amount of planning can guarantee "success". I put that in quotes because success defined in this way means getting what YOU want. If you've read my book, you'll know that that isn't the true definition of success. When your Spirit is driving, what you get in the end might look quite different from what you envisioned. But it is exactly where you needed to be.

While in Denver on vacation, I drove past my old graduate school and had a bit of a flashback. I remember going to the lab sometimes late at night and checking on an experiment. I would imagine the day when I would be a professor and have my own lab. Had I continued on that path, I would probably be finishing my postdoc or starting my first job in academia right about now. My goals revolved around that. I hadn't thought about having a family or having my own business in a completely different field.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I've completely denounced that scientific part of myself. Sometimes I reminisce about my days doing experiments in the lab. I still have plans to incorporate that in my professional life, but in a different way. My Spirit has driven me elsewhere and I'm better for it.

8Feb/10Off

The Spiritual Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: Firing Clients

As an business owner, you have met many different types of people, from co-workers to clients. Some you get along with and some you don't. If a co-worker isn't meeting expectations, it's perfectly acceptable to give them warnings, give them a chance to redeem themselves, and ultimately fire them. But how do you deal with firing clients if that opportunity presents itself?

There are many posts out there on how to move on when you no longer want to work with a client. And there are many reasons to do so: slow payers, verbally abusive, don't appreciate your work, micro-managers, etc. The problem becomes more complex if you consider yourself a spiritual person. How do you stop working with someone when you're worried about how the Universe will treat your decision?

After communicating with your Spirit, you will discover whether you are simply trying to avoid a necessary challenge or experience. Sometimes we have to deal with someone we don't like in order to make us stronger. Your Personality doesn't particularly like growth. It would prefer to just react to a situation and not worry about the consequences.

If after looking at the situation with a clear mind, you may find that you really do need to get rid of a client. Do so in an honest, yet tactful way. E-mail, phone, or letter is fine. (Remember that anything you write could end up someone's blog, Facebook, or Twitter someday!)

Don't dwell on the decision after the fact. We tend to replay it over and over in our heads and try to figure out ways we could have said it better. Also, don't be petty and talk about every single thing that you didn't like about the person or relationship. Instead, just move on and focus on bigger and better things. If you come from a spiritual place, you shouldn't have to worry about Universal retribution (or karma, as some folks call it).

Also, you might be worried about where your next client, and therefore your income, is going to come from. It might be scary to consider losing that income (trust me, we've ALL been there). But it is worth it if the relationship isn't serving you well. Remember the Law of Abundance is always in play.

21Dec/09Off

Are You Perfectly Stuck? – Guest Blogger, Donna Toothaker

From Leila: Donna Toothaker was my first virtual assistant (pun intended). Her business is called 1st VA and she helped me to launch my Spirit Driving teleclasses back in 2004. Her business has grown because she is a high achiever with great ideas. In this article, she provides some insight on challenges that high achievers face. I agree whole-heartedly. Enjoy!

***

As creative, entrepreneurial people, we are often gifted with the world's greatest ideas.  Our imaginations abound with business plans, information products, and new ways of marketing our services.  So, why aren’t we acting upon, and manifesting all these brilliant dreams of ours?  We're perfectly stuck, that's why.

We have high standards, and are high achievers.  We also have the tendency toward perfectionism - wanting everything to be just "so" before we put it out into the world.  The difference between being a high achiever and perfectionism is that high achievers relish the process of creating and manifesting something, and once they start they don't look back – they keep moving.  Perfectionists, on the other hand, are focused solely on the goal, and are so driven to succeed – or rather, not to fail – that many times they don't even begin the creation process due to overwhelm.

How many people don't move forward with projects or in their business because they're waiting for things to be perfect, the perfect business name, domain, website, information product, program, the perfect timing... the list goes on.  The sad truth is, if they just took action without waiting for perfection they'd be so much further in their business.

How do we move the perfection roadblock from out of our path to manifesting our dreams?  Consider a few small things that can make a huge difference:

As perfectionists, we're our own worst critics.   Nobody can possibly be scrutinizing you or your work as much as you are.  Most imperfections we notice in our work are unimportant, or invisible, to others.

Small moves, made repeatedly, are better than one big effort.
Just as we are told about the cumulative health benefits of short bursts of exercise, so do small actions add up to big gains in manifesting your ideas.  What small action step can you do today - every day - to keep your dream in motion?

Mistakes can be springboards for success. No matter how seasoned you are in your business, you will make mistakes – even when things seem to be going smoothly.  It's just a fact of life.  And, often it is the larger mistakes that teach the most meaningful lessons.   Learning from mistakes, and learning how to implement that knowledge immediately into your creative process can spring you more quickly toward achieving your goals, or launch you in a whole new direction.

Be kind to yourself.
When mistakes do happen – and they will – be compassionate toward yourself.  Practice positive self-talk, replacing name calling ("How could I be so STUPID") with self-encouragement ("Next time, I will slow down and be more careful so I don’t overlook important details.")

The bottom line is, while a desire to do well, to do your best work and to explore your full potential can give you sense of satisfaction and personal fulfillment, you have to learn when it is 'good enough'.  Only then, will you be able to move forward with confidence and bring those brilliant ideas to life.

Donna Toothaker is CEO and founder of 1st VA the highly sought-after online marketing and consulting company. 1st VA specializes in providing online marketing support and services to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who wish to effectively build or improve their online presence. To discover how 1st VA can help your business - visit http://www.1stva.com.