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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.