Being Willing To Live In the “Now”

 

I pursue now-ness. That’s what I do.

Wang Deshun, 80-year-old fashion runway model

 

 

NOTE:

In these days of quarantine I’ve been re-reading past articles and blog posts as I’m mulling a book (more like mulling that someday I’ll be mulling a book!). Reading these writings has been like reading a diary – the diary I said I was going to write and then never did. . .

 

This is a fav post of mine as I recall the experience and the sense of panic and annoyance I had like it was yesterday. Of course, reading it in the midst of a pandemic gives it a different spin.

 

How much more true today is that need to be in the “now.”

Wow! And to believe that the “now” will lead to a “tomorrow.”

 

This post was written at least four years ago. Declan (see postscript) is healthy and happy and active and learning to live with an arm that is still not fully functioning. His grandmother tells me that he is intrepid and laughs a lot.

 

May the same be said of us!

 

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I had set my phone alarm for 7:30 AM. I woke up at 8:00 AM confused – how could I have slept through the alarm? Hmm – my phone was dead. Dead as in it wouldn’t turn on even when I plugged it to a charger. I had an immediate sense of dread – yeah, not everything is backed-up. How could I be so stupid? Easy question to answer, but. . .

 

I had meetings to get to and no time until later in the afternoon to pop into a Sprint or Apple store. I was both annoyed and creeped out by the arbitrariness of my phone being dead. It was so random – the phone had been fine when I went to bed.

 

Much of daily life is a routine. And that routine is made up of so many small things we don’t think about, but count on – like a cell phone working. Remove any one of those small things in our routine and we can be thrown off balance.

 

Part of what it means to be confident is not being sidetracked when something breaks our routine.

 

Being confident means regaining balance quickly and not losing sight of the big stuff.

 

Now, you need to know that I’m jotting these notes down at a Starbucks. I’m early for a meeting and since I’m without my phone I have nothing to do except jot ideas down on napkins!

 

I’m not a happy camper.

I find myself forced to look, observe and entertain myself with my thoughts.

 

MY thoughts. My thoughts, though, are driving me crazy:

“What if they can’t fix my phone?”

“They won’t be able to fix my phone.”

“I’ll have to get a new phone – and that will cost money.”

“I’ll lose all my photos because I never back up regularly.”

“Wait! What about my contacts?”

“Ugh! I’m such a loser!”

 

Ah, the Curse of Catastrophic Thinking!

 

What I have to remind myself is that confident people refuse to succumb to wasting time on the disastrous, “what-if’s.”

 

No one likes disruption from routine. A confident person, though, navigates it with equanimity because they know they will find a way to handle “it” – whatever “it” may be.

The night before I was watching a movie set in the late 1980’s.  There were no cell phones. The only way to communicate when out in public was by finding a phone booth. I remember phone booths quite well but looking at the movie’s characters frantically searching for a phone booth reminded me just how isolated we were back then.

 

And so am I in this moment at Starbucks.

 

I can’t check email.

I can’t call anyone.

In fact, I am the only customer in Starbucks not looking at a cell phone!

All I can do is mindfully prepare for my meeting with my client Niall.

 

I’m reminded that a confident person is grounded in self and connected to people and the world beyond any technology.

 

In a recent interview, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash hit musical “Hamilton,” observed:

“I think a lot about trying to meet the moment as honestly as possible, because I don’t pretend to have any answers.

In fact, I have infinitely more questions than answers.

That’s all I control: I can control how I meet the world.”

 

Postscript:

A few days after jotting down the above thoughts, I ran into Danielle, the daughter of a friend of mine. Danielle’s youngest child, Declan, is nine months old. About three months ago Danielle noticed he wasn’t using his left hand and was overcompensating with his right hand. She took him to the pediatrician and so began the most hellish 24 hours of her life.

 

Making a long story way shorter, within the span of 24 hours, Danielle and her husband Ryan were told that Declan might have a brain tumor, then were told he might have cerebral palsy until finally they were informed Declan had had a stroke while in the womb. His left-side motor skills were impacted.

 

While the prognosis is good for the long haul, for Danielle and Ryan it has been an indescribable rollercoaster of emotions. And yet Danielle told me that she and Ryan are stronger now than at any point in their relationship. They know they and Declan will survive – and thrive.

 

They refuse to obsess over the “what if’s” and instead imagine the “what can-be’s.”

 

Like all confident people, their attention is focused on how they can meet the world – in the “now” – with determination, stick-to-it-ness and inventiveness.

 

What about you? Are you living in the NOW?

 

Do you want to learn how to confidently go about your work in The NOW  – yes, in the now of a pandemic – so as to develop and nurture successful professional relationships?

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

 

 

Stop Numbing Yourself!

 

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.

If you can’t be a sun, be a star.

For it isn’t by size that you win or fail.

Be the best of whatever you are.

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Last week I Zoomed with Clay (name changed), a client who is a manager in the IT department of an international company.

 

Clay hates his job – and really hates it in these pandemic days.

 

He’s the classic case of a person who was promoted not because he showed managerial promise but because he was good at what he did.

 

Although he has the potential for becoming a solid manager, he has no desire. Rather than take charge of his career he’s resigned to doing a numbing job for the sake of a pay check.

 

Prior to the pandemic, I think he would have welcomed the idea of getting fired as it might have prompted him to look for more satisfying work.

 

Now, though, he’s stymied in the habit of going through the motions.

 

I asked Clay what he’d like to be doing if we lived in that longed-for imaginary ideal world.

 

Without hesitating, he said, “I’d like to write operas.”

 

Wow – I hadn’t seen that coming!

 

He explained that he had wanted to pursue a career as a classical musician, but his parents would not support such “nonsense” and they guided him down a stable professional path.

 

As you may know, sometimes stability can come with a steep price tag. Clay is paying that hefty price.

 

During these days of quarantine, I’ve been doing spring-cleaning and for me that involves not just tossing out the stuff that’s been collecting dust. It’s also a time to sort through links to articles and posts that I convinced myself someday I’d use.

 

Here’s an edited obit clipping I passed along to Clay. It’s for a Michael Masser.

 

You probably don’t recognize the name, though Masser, a stockbroker-turned-composer, wrote hits for Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and Roberta Flack.

 

I’ve kept the obit because it tells a story I don’t want to forget. And it’s the kind of obit that I hope someday can be written for Clay.

 

Here’s how Masser made his career and life changing decision (as written by Sam Roberts in the New York Times).

 

As Mr. Masser biked to work as a broker in Midtown Manhattan in the 1960s, he would detour to the Juilliard School to putter on a piano. A self-taught pianist, an inner muse was urging him to switch careers and pursue his true calling.

 

‘I was working as a stockbroker in New York and had the seemingly perfect life,’ Mr. Masser told The Chicago Sun-Times in 1988.  ‘But I was unhappy, and someone I knew convinced me to see a shrink. I walked in and told the doctor I wanted to write music. He said, ‘What’s the problem with that?’ I told him that didn’t go over well in my family.

 

He listened, took my money and said: ‘Here’s a note of permission to write music. That’s all you need to clear your conscience.’

 

And it’s funny, because that’s all I was looking for: permission. I had been the dutiful son and husband for so long, I had forgotten about living for myself.’

 

In these pandemic days we are all on a wild roller-coaster ride of emotions and thoughts. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. I believe, though, that this is also a time of remarkable opportunity.

 

The opportunity to allow ourselves to think about our life in ways we may have become afraid of. In ways we may have forgotten.

The world has been turned upside-down. There is no going back to the “old normal.”

 

All that lies ahead is the “new normal.”

 

I encourage you to give yourself permission to think about who you want to be in that new normal.

 

Is there something you’d like to be doing other than what you have been working at? 

What are you going to do about that desire?!

 

Do you want to break through the numbing thinking that is preventing you

from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

[email protected]

818-415-8115

 

“Who Am I?” – How Do You Answer That Question?!

 

We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.

 Confucious

 

In recent weeks, while sheltering at home, I’ve been doing Spring-cleaning – not with tossing out “stuff” that’s been collecting dust, but rather by rummaging around old files that are scattered about my MacBook.

 

I’m constantly downloading and collecting links to articles and posts that I convince myself I’ll use someday in a workshop or in the classroom – or for this blog.

 

I came across the following five items about famous people who would seem to have nothing in common other than that they were famous.

 

However, what moves and amazes me is that each of these people had to grapple with the question that each of us has to grapple with –

 

WHO AM I?

 

Take a look at these “snapshots” and taken together let them challenge you to ask yourself the hard question that needs to be asked. . .

 

 

Charles Herbert, Mid-Century Child Star on TV and in Movies, Dies at 66

By Sam Roberts Nov. 4, 2015

 

Charles Herbert, who was 4 years old when he was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout and went on to become a top-earning child actor of the 1950s and ’60s, died on Oct. 31 in Las Vegas.

 

He shared the limelight with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and James Cagney. Mr. Herbert was making more than $1,600 a week at one point (almost $13,000 in today’s dollars), but wound up broke and, later, addicted.

 

In a 2006 interview, Mr. Herbert said, “The worst thing a person can lose is your identity,” adding: “It’s O.K. as a child because people look at the screen and say, ‘O.K., he’s Fred’ or ‘O.K., he’s Tom Sawyer.’ But when you’re an adult, people don’t know who the hell you are — you don’t walk around with your credits. They want to know who Charlie is. And I didn’t know.”

 

 

Ruth Reichl: Life After Gourmet Magazine

 

When Gourmet magazine closed in 2009, then-editor Ruth Reichl was shocked by the news. [email protected] spoke with Reichl about her book, My Kitchen Life: 136 Recipes That Changed My Life, which chronicles how cooking helped her to heal from the loss of the job she loved.

Reichl:  I’d been working since I was 16, and I had always identified myself by my job. I was a cook. I was a writer. I was a restaurant critic. I was a magazine editor. Suddenly, I was a nothing.

 

It’s really pernicious to think that you are your job. Although I had been in food all my life, I had not been cooking for a very long time. I’d been too busy to do serious cooking. By really throwing myself into the cooking and paying attention to how much pleasure it gave me, I rediscovered that the secret to life is learning to take joy in everyday things. . .

 

I realized that I wasn’t my job. That I was me. I re-found the person who was kind of always in there. . .those Conde Nast editor jobs are princess jobs. You live a very big life. You meet famous people, and you travel first class, and everybody is bowing down to you all the time.

 

All that stuff is just gloss. Who you are is more important than thinking that because you’re hobnobbing with famous people, you’re really somebody. You’re not.

 

 

Jennifer Lawrence Felt Lost After Breakup with Nicholas Hoult

The Huffington Post

 

In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Lawrence spoke about her relationship with ex-boyfriend, actor Nicholas Hoult.

 

Lawrence opened up about the couple’s split, which occurred around the same time she wrapped filming on the “Hunger Games” movies.

 

“These movies had been my life for so long and they had to come first in everything. I was also in a relationship with somebody for five years and that was my life,” the actress told Sawyer.

 

Lawrence continued, “So my life was this person and these movies and we broke up around the same time that I wrapped those movies. Being 24-years-old was this whole year of, ‘Who am I without these movies? Who am I without this man?'”

 

 

Mary Lou Retton opens up about her struggle of discovering ‘who you are’

 

Their Olympic moments happened 24 years apart, but the journeys of Mary Lou Retton (1984 Los Angeles) and Shawn Johnson (2008 Beijing) are similar in so many ways.

 

Both grew up away from the spotlight — Retton in West Virginia, Johnson in Iowa — before bursting onto the Olympic stage at the age of 16. Both won a collection of medals at their Games, vaulting each to sudden fame and a bevy of post-Olympic commercial opportunities.

 

The adjustment to that new life, however, was not easy for either woman. And while both continue to be household names, they admit it’s still hard to balance fame and regular life.

 

“Finding my own voice was difficult,” Retton said during a conversation between the two women. “I’m a 48-year-old woman and I still struggle with it. But I’m getting better. When that physicality is gone and the title is gone, you have to find who you are. I’m really still trying to find that out.”

 

“That’s good to know,” Johnson replied. “Because I’m still trying to find it.”

 

“It’s a journey,” Retton said. “It’s a lifetime process.”

 

 

Landon Donovan Urges Athletes To Speak Out About Mental Health

Huffington Post – 08/12/2016

 

Retired soccer star Landon Donovan doesn’t shy away from talking about his experience with depression — and he hopes other professional athletes will be just as forthcoming.

 

Donovan took a three-month break from his professional career in 2013 to prioritize his mental health. While athletes can sometimes seem unstoppable, it doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to mental health issues just like everyone else. In fact, Donovan suggested that retired athletes can be especially at risk for depression.

 

“I think our problem is we wrap our identity around what we do and it becomes who we are. So, you see a lot of former athletes struggle with this, a lot of athletes that are no longer being recognized for what they did on the soccer field. They’re like ‘Well, what am I now? I don’t have this sport anymore.’”

 

The former LA Galaxy forward said therapy helped him become more open about his mental health, and he encourages others who feel affected to do the same.

 

While these days of quarantine can be mad-crazy, they may also be the right time for you to explore

how life-skills coaching can help YOU become YOU

with enhanced confidence – and joy!

Please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115