Lessons from The World Cup

DempseyScoreI am a BIG World Cup fan! I come from a soccer family – my sister and I both played competitively and dad was a referee. Having come from a soccer family, I am excited to see the World Cup fever take hold here in the States! Having watched USA advance to the knockout round yesterday, I am struck by how much we can learn from the team and apply to our own lives.

Play with Heart - Team USA was placed in the toughest group for the initial round, nicknamed the “Group of Death.” It didn’t matter that they had lost to Ghana in the last two World Cups or that Portugal had Ronaldo, one of the best players in the World. Yet that didn’t stop them or dishearten them…it fueled them to push harder and prove they have the heart and the skills to succeed. They simply BELIEVED.

When you have a tough road to success in front of you, what do you do? Do you let it stop you or slow you down? Or do you push that much harder letting your heart and passion lead you? Do you BELIEVE?

Seize the Opportunity – Find the opportunity and seize it, no matter what! In Game 1, John Brooks scored the winning goal against Ghana. There was little expectation that Brooks would score – He was young and essentially a World Cup rookie. Yet he saw the opportunity come toward him, so stepped forward and scored! After the goal, he could barely believe what he just accomplished, which makes it even more remarkable. His age, his experience, his status on the team didn’t matter. What mattered was the opportunity in front of him.

How often do you step up and seize those opportunities even if you may not be “qualified”? Or do you hold back because you aren’t “ready” or others are better suited?

Success isn’t pretty – Success isn’t about winning every game. Yesterday’s game was a loss, but because we had played so well in the other games, we still made it to the next round. These last two games weren’t necessarily pretty to watch with ending in a tie in the literal last minute against Portugal and playing mostly defense against Germany. Most of the time, success is messy with close calls and losses in the mix. It doesn’t mean that we can’t call it success though.

Do you have a definition of success that narrows your view or creates opportunity to keep moving forward? How can you redefine success so that you can stand in a place of power even in the face of a loss?

I am continually inspired by Team USA as they struggle and strive their way to the next round. It had renewed my passion and desired to make a difference in the world. My success isn’t going to be all victories, but it’s about believing in myself and my work, seizing the opportunities and never giving up.

Team USA plays their next game is Tuesday at 4pm ET against Belgium – I hope you will join me in the World Cup Fever and be inspired to BELIEVE!

Creating Your Definition of Success

success-coaching-header

We all want to be successful in life, but what does that really mean?

Well, if you go by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Success is defined as “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” But what if you have wealth and fame and no happiness?  There are plenty of cases where we have seen wealth and fame backfire on celebrities and other people in places of power.

We learn the meaning of success from our family, friends, and society as a whole from a very young age. And that definition continues to be reinforced as we grow older and new expectations are inserted – job, salary, family, etc.  Sometimes that works for people, but many times it causes undue suffering.

What if what’s important to you isn’t in the standard definition of success?  Does that mean you won’t be considered successful?  In my humble opinion – Of course not!

The danger is that if we aren’t considered a success by others, we won’t consider ourselves successful.  Even more dangerous – we may consider ourselves a failure. I have definitely traveled down this dark dangerous alley – beating myself up along the way.

After a good self-inflicted assault, I realized that I must create MY OWN definition of success.  I haven’t been one to follow the path of others; I like to take blaze my own trail.  So why wouldn’t I blaze my own definition of success?

So I invite you to take a deeper look as to how you define success.  Is that what you really want out of life?  Or is that what other have said that you should want?  Are you striving for that will make you happy?  Or will it make others happy?

It is your life, so you get to define the terms…you get the final say in your success!

Looking Deeper

  • How would you define success?
  • What’s important for you to feel you have a successful year, a successful life?

Taking Leadership Beyond the Obvious

We often associate leadership with an impressive title. If we’re not President or Captain, we might not consider ourselves to be leaders. But leadership doesn’t require a title.

Leadership is an attitude–a way of being–any person can express in any moment. Yes, of course we can lead in an official leadership role, like Class President; but we can make just as much of an impact from the middle or even the bottom of the pack. Who says you can’t be a leader as a center midfielder on the soccer team; or even as…a freshman!

By following these simple principles, we can be a leader in any area of our lives:

Follow Your Gut – This isn’t probably taught in most MBA programs, but it is a powerful tool in your leadership toolbox. Your gut, your wise inner voice, is incredibly useful if you pay attention and listen to it. The inner voice is often ignored if there is no hard evidence to back it up. But the inner voice is incredibly wise and is speaking up for a reason. Listen to it – it can bring you success and take you down the right path. Trust yourself and the inner voice to carry you down the road of success.

Own Your Successes and Failures – We need to look at both our successes and failures with a keen eye to recognize where we stand. Honoring the successes, no matter how big or small, gives us an opportunity to see our brilliance, as well as shows us how we can stretch even further next time. Owning our failures gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the risks we’ve taken, and what we can learn for our next adventure. The more objective we can be in this assessment of successes and failures, the easier it will be to further develop ourselves as leaders.

Ask for Support – While often leaders try to be the “Lone Ranger” by trying to get it done all on our own, we limit what can be accomplished with just one person. As a recovering “Lone Ranger,” I have found that true leaders look beyond themselves to focus on the larger goal and seek support to accomplish that goal. The more support we have, the larger the goal we can tackle. Remember to view your support team as leaders too, so they too can step up in big ways.

In any moment, whether at school, home or hanging out with your friends, you may be called to step up and lead. If you remember to trust your gut, own your successes and failures with a keen eye, and seek support with the larger goal in mind, you will have the tools to lead successfully in any situation.

New Year’s Resolutions: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

With the beginning of the year, people often make New Year's resolutions, or at least consider it. If you did make some resolutions and you are anything like me, you've probably already broken your resolutions. That is not only common, it's expected. We stick to our new year's resolutions for a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks, but by February, we can't even remember what the resolution was.

What if you could actually have your resolutions stick? It requires taking a different look at resolutions. It takes looking at the good, the bad and even the ugly :)

The Good Stuff – Resolutions by themselves aren’t bad. They actually come from a good place, a place inside us that likes to start fresh, to start newly. That feeling shouldn’t be dismissed, but celebrated that it reminds us that we want to grow and change.

The opportunity to start fresh is important to recognize and take advantage of. When we do look at how we want to grow and change, it’s important to pay attention to see if it’s something we truly want, or what we think we “should” have. We can often get caught up wanting to change to be like someone else, instead of being our true selves. Be sure that whatever resolutions you make, it’s something that YOU really want and you stay true to yourself.

The Bad Stuff – We often make resolutions that we know we can’t keep, setting ourselves up for failure. One way that we set ourselves up for failure is by focusing on the doing, rather than on how we want to feel, successful, healthy, powerful, happy, loved, etc. We think that if we do this particular action, we will feel a particular way. For example, I have made lots of resolutions where I won’t eat chocolate so I can lose weight and feel healthy. It’s ridiculous because I know I can’t give up chocolate completely. I usually last about a week before I have a piece of chocolate in my mouth.

However, what if we flip the resolution on its head and make a resolution not about the action, but about the feeling, what we truly want. If I focus on being healthy, I have more flexibility in the actions I can take. I can eat more vegetables, drink more water, exercise or not eat chocolate. You can take little steps or big steps. You get to choose. More choice means more power. More power means more success.

The Ugly Stuff – What can make resolutions most dangerous is how we treat ourselves after we break the resolution. We can judge ourselves harshly; maybe even call or label ourselves unreliable, weak or even worse. When we make promises, like resolutions, and don’t keep them, it can be difficult not to judge ourselves. However, it is crucial to have compassion and patience when we don’t live up to our promises. Remember we are human. As humans, we make mistakes, lots of them.

When we are trying to change a habit, it’s especially challenging because the old behavior is so automatic. Even as I am writing this, I am scarfing down a chocolate, chocolate cookie, after making a resolution to be healthy. I have to forgive myself for eating the cookie and start again. If we practice patience and compassion, our resolutions will be much easier to maintain in the long run. The resolutions will stick around and become more automatic.

If you have made resolutions or goals for this year, or still considering, remember you will be more successful and much happier if you stay true to yourself, focus on your true desires and practice patience and compassion. Good Luck in 2012!

Reflecting back on 2011- Preparing for 2012

As the year comes to an end, people often reflect on what has transpired over the past year. How is my life different from 2010? It is an important question to ask and ponder. Are you getting closer to your goals and dreams? Perhaps even achieving them? Can you measure growth? . If you haven’t done this before, or you haven’t done it so thoroughly, I highly recommend starting the tradition.

When I reflect on the year, I look at the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s important to look at ALL that has transpired. If you only look at the good, then often the bad and the ugly hangs on like dead weight and baggage in the new year. It’s important to let go of any baggage accumulated from this past year – starting fresh in 2012. It’s also important to consider, if we only look at the ugly, then we miss the growth that has occurred. The good stuff is just as important as the ugly stuff.

When you reflect on the questions below, I recommend taking the time to write it down. You can be more thorough and visually see your year on paper.

The Good Stuff – What have you accomplished this year – professionally, personally, financially? What were the pleasant surprises of the year? Did you learn any lessons about yourself? About life? Celebrate this good stuff and share it with loved ones!

The Bad Stuff – What disappointments or regrets did you experience this year? What were some of the not so pleasant surprises? What mistakes did you make that you learned from? Try to bring some compassion and forgiveness to these moments, so you can let go and move on. If there are some lessons to learn from these experiences, be sure to take those with you into 2012.

The Ugly Stuff – What were the moments of 2011 that you would rather forget about altogether? The important part is that you have survived the ugly stuff. Although challenging, I invite you to bring up the memories, the feelings, and judgments, so you can let them go and move on. What’s also important in letting the ugly stuff go is finding the lesson, the gift, in these experiences. While this too can be a struggle, it helps in moving on so that they don’t linger or hold you back in the future.

Reflecting on the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2011 will give you the opportunity to celebrate all your successes, learn the important lessons, and let go of any excess baggage to make 2012 the best year ever!

How to Have Tech-Savvy Parents

I often wondered how I would bring my parents into the 21st Century when it came to technology. Although we were early adopters of the personal computer, my parents were old-school. They didn’t understand the need to text or instant message, let alone comprehend the vast world of Google or Facebook. My sister and I tried and tried to convince them to leave the dark ages and join the rest of the technology world.

Now my father is in a race with us to buy an iPad and completely captivated by the world of apps. Can it be that my semi-retired father is becoming a tech geek?

If you want bring your parents or coworkers into the 21st Century, here are a few key elements that helped us make that transition possible.

1. Keep It Simple — For those of us who have grown up with our current level of technology, it seems intuitive. Not so for the older generation! We need to provide them with a clear map to get from where they are to where they want to go. If they want explicit instructions to write and send emails, then by all means, give it to them! My mom often needs step-by-step directions when it comes to technology, but once she has them, she is off and running.

2. Connect to Their Want
— Come from what they want, not what we want for them. Motivation to learn something will increase dramatically when they see the benefit for themselves. My parents learned how to text because they wanted to connect with their daughters. We wouldn’t call back if they left a voicemail, but we would respond to a text. They are now regular texters. They have even learned to Skype with my sister now living in Thailand.

3. Have Compassion
— When we bring compassion, people have space to change and grow. They are free from guilt or embarrassment of being judged. It was only after my sister and I no longer teased and embarrassed my parents for their lack of tech savvy that they began to truly learn the new technology.

My parents have come a long way from learning how to use email. I am proud of their willingness to become the students and allow their daughters to become the teachers. This role reversal can be challenging, however, with the right attitude and a little patience, anything is possible.

Sara Nowlin is a life coach and author who specializes in empowering others to be authentic and fully self-expressed. She is a contributing author in the book, Speaking Your Truth, Volume 2. Visit www.saranowlin.com or email sara@saranowlin.com.

Changing Lanes – First Look in the Mirror

How many of you have had a boss or coworker who annoys or frustrates you? If you aren’t raising your hand right now, you are a lucky person, but pay attention because they are coming.

Before you change lanes and ditch the job, take a look in your mirrors. Often times, the solution is simply to look within and see where you can shift your judgments about that person and see them through a different lens.

A recent experience in my own life illustrates this. Someone I was supervising was annoying me. She was asking for more breaks because she was exhausted from the job intensity. I saw her as a complainer and whiner. All I wanted to say to her is “Suck it up and get over it.”

But I knew that wasn’t the solution. I was committed to finding a way to keep the relationship intact and empower her to step up in the position because I wanted to believe she was doing the best that she could.

I needed to look in the mirror and see where all the judgments were coming from. Within the mirror, I noticed where I was responsible for the situation. She was voicing her needs and expectations and I wasn’t. I had needs and expectations that I assumed the team would execute without explicitly stating them to the team. That had set me up for the frustration and annoyance I was feeling.

Once I realized that, I knew there was something I could do about it — voice my needs and expectations for my team. I did, and the frustration cleared. Everyone on the team, even the “complainer,” stepped up and met my expectations and they got more breaks. A win-win solution.

What I was annoyed by — voicing needs and expectations — was exactly what I personally needed to do. It always seems to work out that way. I invite you to look at where you may be frustrated and want to change lanes and see if you need to look in your mirrors first.

Where are you feeling frustrated with someone at work? Are there unvoiced expectations that may be causing it?

Mentoring – A Crucial Tool for Success

Mentoring is one of the most effective tools for success, both personally and professionally. Utilizing the people around us to enhance our skills and confidence, connect us with important people, and advise us in challenging moments creates a more direct path to achieving our personal and professional goals. Effective mentors open the doors to success rather than needing to break them down ourselves.

Spotting a Mentor
– Mentors are everywhere – sitting across the conference room table, but also across the table in Starbucks. By looking outside the box, the opportunities are endless. Don’t just stop at one mentor either, find many. A variety of mentors can support different mentoring needs, which also prevents over-relying on just one person to meet all of our mentoring needs. The more people looking out for our best interests, the better.

Utilizing a Mentor – Clear communication of expectations allows the mentoring relationship to be successful. It’s essential to clearly express the mentoring needs: acclimating into a new position, attaining a job or promotion, or seeking advice on navigating group politics. Knowing the mentoring needs, a potential mentor can assess how successfully he/she can meet those needs. Equally important is a structure that works for both parties, whether it’s face-to-face meetings every two weeks or occasional email exchanges. Ensuring both parties are clear in the expectations minimizes frustration and disappointment, creating a more effective relationship.

Keeping a Mentor – A mentoring relationship is first and foremost, a relationship. Both parties need to benefit from the relationship in order to sustain it over a long period of time. Invest the relationship with time and attention by getting to know the mentor as a person. This will also provide opportunities to reciprocate and support the mentor, further investing in the relationship. Mentoring relationships, like any relationships, require attentive care to ensure it’s mutually satisfying and therefore, long-lasting.

Investing in strong mentoring relationships allows us to gain access to information and opportunities vital to our development by looking for mentors outside the box, expressing expectations clearly and investing in the relationship. While enjoying the benefits of being mentored, remember to pay it forward and mentor others along their journey.

Turning Failure into Fertilizer

Do you learn from your failures? Do you use your failures to fertilize your growth and success? You have probably heard a quote or two, maybe three, about failure. While these quotes make failing seem like a good idea, it’s easier said than done.

Why even try to find the lesson in the failure? If we don’t find the lesson, we often shy away from potential future failures. We stop taking risks and place ourselves in a smaller and smaller box with every failure. The fertilizer can give us nourishment to grow, stretch and reach our goals. Without the fertilizer, we stunt our growth and wonder why we aren’t fulfilled.

Here are few steps to turn your Failures into Fertilizer:

1. Tell the Truth – When it comes to failures, we often don’t want to look at it. We hope we can just move past it. However, when we don’t look at it in the light, then it lingers around in the dark, letting the fear of future failure grow and fester. So take a look at the failure and all the feelings and thoughts that go with it. Bring it all to the light, you can find the lesson if you can’t see it.

2. Give up the Blame and Judgment – Once you have looked all the pieces of the failure, look at where you may have some blame toward someone else, yourself or the circumstances. I often blame myself for my failures, concluding there is an innate flaw in me that causes it. However, the blame will keep you stuck in the failure and the lessons hidden from your view. Once the blame is acknowledged and released, there is a sense of peace that arises, with that comes a clearer head.

3. Find the Lesson – With a clearer head, you now have the opportunity to look for the lessons of the failure. This can be challenging, but every failure has a lesson to learn if we are willing to look. There could even be several lessons? How could you have handled yourself differently in that situation? In action? In attitude? Once you discover the lessons to be learned, you gain a sense of freedom and power that fertilizes your goals and dreams.

Sara Nowlin is a life coach and author who specializes in empowering others to be authentic and fully self-expressed. She is a contributing author in the upcoming book, Speaking Your Truth, Volume 2. For more information, check out www.saranowlin.com or email sara@saranowlin.com.