May 2014


“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Feeling grateful is my habitual way of being, but that wasn’t always so.

It came from consciously following a daily practice that has greatly increased both my joy and the level of material abundance in my life. When I began it about six years ago, there was much more fear than gratitude inside of me.

Right after Rick and I married and bought our big expensive Dream Home, the national real estate bubble burst with a vengeance. Our home’s value plummeted by hundreds of thousands of dollars and my Realtor husband’s income evaporated overnight. At the same time, many of my clients had to quit coaching because their incomes also had been decimated by the Great Recession.

For months, I regularly woke up around 3 or 4 AM with a cold wave of fear engulfing me as I lay next to my sleeping husband thinking, “What if we lose our house? Could we end up living in our car like the people on the evening news? Would our friends let us sleep on their couch? What will happen to our beloved pets?” I lay there envisioning the Worst Case Scenario in living color until the alarm finally went off. I would drag myself out of bed and try to put on a happy face for my family and my clients, but inside I was terrified.

Because of my faith and my coaching training, I knew the antidote to fear was to change my beliefs and focus.   So I began to study every book and audio about prosperity that I could get my hands on. The consistent message coming to me from all the Master Manifesters was “Be grateful.”   That seemed like a real stretch, given our bleak circumstances and the predicted length of the Great Recession.

On day, I was watching Oprah interview Sarah Ban Brethhnach, the author of Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. Sarah recommended that the path to greater abundance started with keeping a Daily Gratitude Journal. Oprah enthusiastically endorsed the practice, saying that it had changed her life. Since Oprah was already one of the richest people on the planet, that got my attention. What could possibly make her life better?

Oprah said that writing down five things she felt grateful for in a Daily Gratitude Journal changed her life because it made her notice all the GOOD things around her, big and small. On a challenging day when she was feeling discouraged or stressed, she had to really pay attention because she knew she would have to come up with five things to be thankful for at the end of the day! Keeping a Daily Gratitude Journal made her aware that we are all so blessed by a life we often take for granted.

That got me thinking about all that I was taking for granted in my own life: My loving, healthy family and pets, an abundance of material comforts like indoor plumbing, a refrigerator full of food, electricity, a microwave, washer and dryer, clean running water, doing work that I loved, etc. etc. etc. I was living a modest middle-class lifestyle that would be considered royalty in most of world! And most of all, I was blessed with personal freedoms that billions of other people don’t enjoy.

Then I understood what Oprah knew: All I really needed MORE of in my life was gratitude for what I already have, instead of worrying about what’s lacking. We know that what we focus on expands. I was focusing on lack, so I was attracting more LACK into my life. If I wanted to experience more PROSPERITY, I needed to focus on all the wonderful blessings I had in my life right NOW!

I started a Daily Gratitude Journal that very day. But I always write down 10 things I’m thankful for because it’s hard to stop at five! My husband and I also began saying  daily “Grace” together before our evening meal, giving thanks to God for the specific blessings we are present to right now.

Slowly but surely, with a lot of Divine Guidance, we began working through every big financial challenge we faced — settling five years of back taxes, discharging a bankruptcy, recovering from losing one car and two houses. Along the way, our family never missed a meal, paid a household bill late or spent one night without our own roof over our heads.

Now, my husband’s real estate business is flourishing as never before, my coaching practice is nearly full and we are experiencing greater financial abundance and personal happiness today than the day we married seven years ago.

One of the clearest explanations of the very real power of gratitude to create more GOOD in your life is found in Felicia Blanco Searcy’s wonderful book Do Greater Things: Following in Jesus’ Footsteps. She writes:

“…physicists have shown that there are a multitude of possibilities available to us at any given moment. All options are there at once, waiting for us to decide where we will put our focus, which then determines which possibility will manifest.

…Gratitude opens us to the possibility that anything can happen. It increases our capacity to entertain other options even if we can’t begin to see how they might happen. It gives us a renewed sense of hope and brings our focus back to the possibility that things will turn out well.

As we focus on what is good in our lives, we bring the favorable possibility out from the shadows into the light of day. We clothe the desired choice and make it real with our thoughts and feelings. As we focus on gratitude, or appreciation, we give God the space to bring about other possibilities that are beyond our human understanding or imaginings.”

If you aren’t yet keeping a Daily Gratitude Journal, I highly recommend starting yours today. Take it from Oprah and me, your life will never be the same!

********************************************************************

What do you want for your life? My “job description” as a coach is simply this: I help you get what YOU want. I invite you to schedule a complimentary phone consultation where together we’ll explore your big dreams and determine if coaching can assist you in reaching them. I have programs and coaching specialties for every need. Learn more at: http://practicalprosperitycoach.com or contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or toll free at 888-503-8145. Contact me TODAY to schedule a complimentary phone consultation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larson

Last week I shared with you the disastrous consequences that arose for one my clients when he temporarily forgot the lesson from the I Ching that I originally wrote about in Blog #155. (You can find the reading in its entirety on my website blog archives if you missed it.)

This week, I will share the very positive outcomes that two of my clients experienced when they embraced the lesson wholeheartedly. Here again is the key passage from this book of ancient Chinese wisdom that taught me the most effective approach to resolving a serious conflict:

“The I Ching teaches a simple but effective method of influencing difficult people and arduous situations. It advises us first to lay aside our prejudices – our feelings of being wounded, angry or in the right – and second to seek to understand the positions of others and the lesson that the Sage is teaching us with the situation. Even when another is truly out of line, it is only by accepting this and remaining balanced that you make it possible for positive change to occur. Gentleness and understanding create in others an unconscious willingness to be led.”

In other words, in order to receive the support or collaboration we want from another, we must give up trying to self-righteously prove them “wrong.” Instead, we must set aside our own pre-conceived ideas of the “right” answer. Only by maintaining an open mind and positive energy can we receive the truly amazing solutions the Universe is trying to send us.

The first unconventional solution came to “Sally” when she was facing a serious conflict with a member of her network marketing organization. Several of the independent consultants on her Team complained that their sponsor “Max” was relentlessly soliciting them to join another network marketing company he was also participating in.

While such crossover recruiting is not explicitly forbidden by Sally’s company, it is certainly unethical behavior that could distract Sally’s Team from growing their own businesses and perhaps lure some of her best people away after she had worked so hard to train and support them.

When Sally confronted Max, he denied any wrongdoing. He claimed he wasn’t talking to anyone outside of his own Team, despite hard evidence he was soliciting just about everyone in her whole organization.   Then Max went on the offensive and threatened to report Sally to the corporate office for harassing HIM and interfering with HIS business. Sally felt betrayed, angry and frustrated that Max could “get away with” this behavior.

When I shared the words of the I Ching with her, Sally immediately began to shift her thoughts and emotions about the situation. She worked on releasing her self-righteous resentment and determined that she would not allow Max’s lack of integrity to affect HER success. While she didn’t say a word to Max, she directed positive thoughts and energy toward him and everyone on her Team.

A week or so later, she received a brief email from Max that made her jaw drop: “Thank you for being you. I have been going through a very tough time. My world is falling apart. Thank you for supporting me.” From that moment, their relationship changed.   They are now cordial to each other whenever they meet and Max has pulled way back on cross-soliciting her Team.

The second example of using the I Ching to build bridges with an “adversary” in a tense situation came from a business owner whose business had taken a big hit during the Great Recession. “Judy” is now rebuilding financially, yet still gets blindsided with nasty surprises from time to time.

While she was out of town, her business partner bought a crucial piece of equipment on very unfavorable terms, entirely contrary to what Judy had asked for. One day, while Judy thought she was making headway re-negotiating the contract with the seller, a man appeared in her store to repossess the equipment. To avoid a scene in front of her employees and customers, Judy invited Repo Man into her office while she tried to get the seller on the phone.

As the seller’s minion kept her on hold, she texted me that she was crying, upset and feeling like she had “lost her mind.” Since I couldn’t talk to her, I texted her that she needed to quickly shift into the emotional state that the I Ching describes – open, unattached and expecting the BEST from the other person.

She told me later that while Repo Man sat listening to her side of the conversation with the seller’s underling, he began to feel sorry for her. He asked her how much she owed on the equipment and when she told him, he got mad! He doesn’t take cases owing such a small amount and said the shady seller had lied to HIM about how much she owed and he was going to walk away and leave her in peace.

Then sympathetic Repo Man advised Judy how to protect herself legally from others in the “asset recovery” business! They said a prayer together, she walked him to the front door, and much to the amazement of her employees, they hugged each other goodbye. Later, Judy was able to pay off the debt in full and keep the machinery.

Thanks to a well-timed shift in her own viewpoint, Judy found the unlikeliest of allies through the I Ching’s teaching that “Gentleness and understanding create in others an unconscious willingness to be led.”

********************************************************************

What do you want for your life? My “job description” as a coach is simply this: I help you get what YOU want. I invite you to schedule a complimentary phone consultation where together we’ll explore your big dreams and determine if coaching can assist you in reaching them. I have programs and coaching specialties for every need. Learn more at: http://practicalprosperitycoach.com or contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or toll free at 888-503-8145. Contact me TODAY to schedule a complimentary phone consultation!

 

“Knowing your peace of mind is up to you, not the world, is the most powerful and secure state of mind you can achieve.” – Dr. Lee Jampolsky

Recently, I have witnessed the impact of the I Ching reading that I shared with you in Blog #155.   (You can find it on my website in the blog archives if you missed it.) Several of my clients have embraced it wholeheartedly and are using it daily to get amazing results, while a few others temporarily forgot the lesson and the results were not so positive.

Here again is the key passage from a reading in this book of ancient Chinese wisdom that taught me the most effective approach to resolving a serious conflict:

“The I Ching teaches a simple but effective method of influencing difficult people and arduous situations. It advises us first to lay aside our prejudices – our feelings of being wounded, angry or in the right – and second to seek to understand the positions of others and the lesson that the Sage is teaching us with the situation. Even when another is truly out of line, it is only by accepting this and remaining balanced that you make it possible for positive change to occur. Gentleness and understanding create in others an unconscious willingness to be led.” 

For me, what this really boils down to is that in order to receive the support or collaboration we ultimately want from another person, we must give up the right to self-righteously prove to them that their position is “wrong.” Just pause a moment and reflect on a time when someone went out of their way to prove YOU wrong. Did you feel gratitude to them for showing you the error of your ways? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Saying “I told you so” is obviously NOT an effective approach to getting another to understand your position. Yet, when faced with a conflicting point of view, the human Ego seems hard-wired to become defensive and try to prove itself “right” at all costs.

Despite knowing the effectiveness of remaining positive, emotionally balanced and non-defensive while seeking to understand the other person’s point of view, at one time or another, we have all succumbed to an overwhelming urge to prove ourselves “right,” with results that were self-destructive. One young client of mine learned a very hard lesson from letting his Ego’s drive to be “right” overrule his rational judgment.

After working only sporadically for more than a year during the Great Recession, “Larry” finally landed a steady job working as a restaurant dishwasher. At last, he had the money to cover the rent AND be able to give his two young children birthday and Christmas presents! He worked diligently and was recognized by management as someone with leadership potential. Although he had let his temper get the best of him in the past, he studiously avoided conflict with his co-workers and focused on working hard to build a better life for his family.

One night, he found himself with a supervisor who was filling in for the regular manager. She was known for being bossy and picky and most of the staff just tried to fly under the radar and not draw her ire.   It was a very busy dinner shift and the dirty pots and pans had piled up a bit, as Larry labored to get them cleaned as quickly as possible. The supervisor told him she wanted him to do it in a way she felt would be faster.

He knew from experience that what she was telling him to do would actually slow things down, so he tried to patiently explain to her why the method he was using was better. She listened and then said to do it the way she had told him to anyway. Although he knew he had made himself clear, he politely tried to re-state his argument for doing it HIS way. After she ignored him and left the kitchen, he continued to wash the pots his way, truly believing he was doing the “right” thing.

At the end of his shift, the supervisor called him into the office and told him he was fired. He tried to apologize, but she handed him his final check. The next day, the sympathetic District Manager explained that, while he knew full well that the supervisor was difficult to work with and felt her reprisal was harsh, he had to stand behind her because she was in charge.

Unable to find work for several more months, Larry lost his car and apartment and he and his family had to spend the harsh winter months in a shelter. Now, with a new attitude of gratitude and humility (and a healthier appreciation of authority), he and his wife have finally found good jobs, have a new apartment they love and are slowly getting back on their feet.

If you asked him, I’m pretty sure I know how Larry would answer about whether it was all worth it just to be “right” about the proper way to wash pots and pans!

Next week I will share the stories of two clients who used the advice of the I Ching to win over their adversaries and turn disaster into triumph!

********************************************************************

What do you want for your life? My “job description” as a coach is simply this: I help you get what YOU want. I invite you to schedule a complimentary phone consultation where together we’ll explore your big dreams and determine if coaching can assist you in reaching them. I have programs and coaching specialties for every need. Learn more at: http://practicalprosperitycoach.com or contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or toll free at 888-503-8145. Contact me TODAY to schedule a complimentary phone consultation!

 

“Love never ends.” – 1 Corinthians 13:8, The Bible.

Happy Mother’s Day! I salute everyone who is a mother (I’m not) or acts as a mother-figure for someone who needs one (I have done that). Whether you were lucky enough to grow up with an unconditionally-loving “June Cleaver” mother like I did or struggled to cope with someone who fell far short of the ideal, we have all been deeply affected by a mother or mother-figure in our lives.

My mother passed away eight years ago, just shy of her 92nd birthday, on the very night that my wonderful husband Rick and I were supposed to have our first date. I’m sorry they never got to meet because with a similarly playful, gentle sense of humor, they would have thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

Mom was always very spiritual, if not religious, and as soon as I married and left home at 19, she began sending me a subscription to the little booklet of daily inspirational thoughts put out by Unity, the Christian denomination that she grew up in. She would be delighted to know that it still makes me feel connected to her every morning when I read the daily message.

Interestingly, the Daily Word topic for today is exactly what I had already decided to write about. I quote it here as background for what I want to share with you on Mother’s Day:

“A mother’s love is strong. It protects and comforts, nurtures and forgives. It is uplifting, supportive and unconditional. A mother’s love begins before birth and continues without end. It is an expression of the Divine.

Today I honor and appreciate my mother or anyone who may have filled the role of mother in my life.   I bring to mind the wisdom she has shared, the stories she has told, and the mannerisms and characteristics that are uniquely hers.

I am grateful for all she has given to our family. The greatest thank-you I can offer is to share with others the best of what my mother taught me.

With gratitude, I bless and celebrate all mothers and the love they share.”

 Today, as a heartfelt thank-you to her, I want to share with you the best of what Charlene Turner Parker taught me by her words and actions. Here are the Top Five Life Lessons I Learned from My Mom:

1)     Make everyone feel included. When I was in elementary and middle school, my mother invited a distantly-connected family of immigrants to Sunday dinner at our house about once a month. The working-class parents spoke broken English and I felt it was a pain to have to entertain their son who was several years younger than I.   But my mother was adamant that we must make them feel welcome and give them a good meal. “Little Carlos” grew up to be a handsome, intelligent young man who graduated from college and became a successful professional. After his parents had both passed, he continued to bring his little sister to visit my Mom on her birthday and holidays. At her funeral, he cried harder than everyone and told me he considered Charlene a second mother and would never forget her kindness as long as he lived.

2)     Speak only kind words. When I was a teenager, I went through a “smart mouth” (OK, and a “foul mouth”) stage. Copying my peers and the media, I thought sarcasm, irony and scathing criticism were the height of sophisticated communication.   My mother set me straight very quickly: There would be no trash talk or gossip in HER house. I rolled my eyes and thought she was hopelessly square. When I got a little older, I realized how badly I had behaved and was deeply appreciative of her frequent reminder: “People will eventually forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them FEEL.”

3)     Listen deeply, without judging. My mother listened to EVERYONE – whether a three-year-old grandchild, a school Principal or a supermarket clerk — as if what they had to say were the most fascinating and important thing in the world. When she worked as an elementary school secretary, a dozen kids would hang out in her office every lunch time just to bask in the attention she paid them. Yes, people always remember how we make them FEEL. And feeling “heard” is one of the best feelings in the world.

4)     Always send a hand-written note. My mother always nagged me mercilessly until I had mailed a thank you note to anyone who gave me the smallest gift, had me over to their house for dinner or came to my birthday party, graduation, wedding etc. Now, it seems archaic, but Mom sent me real paper birthday and thank you cards until the end, and I still strive to do the same. I wouldn’t have shoeboxes full of her loving memories if she had texted me. I advise my job-seeking clients to immediately mail a hand-written thank you note to EVERYONE who interviewers them. Nothing is as sincere and classy as acknowledging someone with a hand-written note. You would be surprised how many successful careers have started that way!

5)     Help everyone you can in every way you can. Sometimes it annoyed me how much my mother gave away from her little pension — sending $10 a month to dozens of charities, paying family members’ college tuitions so they could become successful, hiring down-and-out folks to do odd jobs and errands that she really could have managed herself. But even more than financially, she helped others with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love.   Nobody who came in contact with Charlene Turner Parker ever forgot her patience, kindness and generosity. That is a legacy we can all aspire to.

********************************************************************

What do you want for your life? My “job description” as a coach is simply this: I help you get what YOU want. I invite you to schedule a complimentary phone consultation where together we’ll explore your big dreams and determine if coaching can assist you in reaching them. I have programs and coaching specialties for every need. Learn more at: http://practicalprosperitycoach.com or contact me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or toll free at 888-503-8145. Contact me TODAY to schedule a complimentary phone consultation!