One Step.

One Step.

Forward. Onward. Going. Progress.

It requires action. Forward momentum.

It could take one step, or several.

Either way, you must start.

Stories don’t begin in the middle.

Yours will need a beginning.

Excuses, roadblocks and naysayers will try to paralyze you.

The great news, they don’t have that type of power unless you hand it over to them.

So stop waiting. Stop pondering.

You won’t get there unless you start.

Get going.

One step.

Today.

“You’re better than that.”

Recently I was pondering a relationship that I have with somebody where we haven’t always seen eye to eye. It’s inevitable, to come across other individuals in the world who do not think the same way that you do.

I talk a lot about belief in others and even my life mission statement of “being a catalyst that propels others into their destiny through a foundation of belief.” But the truth is, I still fail.

I found myself placing somebody that I know and truly care about, in this box that I have kept them in for many years. Labeling them, putting particularly negative expectations on them, ensuring they would meet them.

And the sad fact is, they always will. As long as that is what I am constantly expecting and looking for. I won’t see the great things they have accomplished or the hurdles and difficulties they have overcome. Because I have chosen not to. I’m looking for the bad, the upsets, that will prove my point correct.

It’s not ok.

When I was 18, I had my first corporate job and still had a LOT to learn. One day I called out “sick” because it was my boyfriend’s birthday and I wanted to spend the day with him…not work. I was young, carefree and, well, stupid. Since I was 18, I rationalized in my mind that I was an “adult” capable of making my own decisions and having to give no explanations to anyone. So I got up, got ready, and headed to my boyfriends house.

I went through my day, having a great time until I received a phone call from my mom asking me where I was because she was told that I was sick. This is where I made a bit of a mistake. I forgot my Mother and Step-Father were good friends with my boss. So when my boss called them to say hi and see how I was doing, they had no idea anything was wrong. At the time I lived with my Father on the other side of town. So my mom assumed perhaps I was sick and would reach out to me to find out (and probably offer to bring me some chicken soup).

When she found out that wasn’t the case, that’s when she called my Dad. (Dun Dun Dun!)

I remember walking through the door and my Dad saying he wanted to have a “talk.” My Dad is a man of few words. So when he wants to talk and has anger and rage in his eyes, I knew it was not good.

He asked me why I lied about being sick (sidetone: If there is a phrase that you’re Father is known for saying to you throughout your entire life, my Dad’s was, “I HATE liars.”)

I gave him the whole, “I’m 18 and can do whatever I want.” shpeel. He wasn’t having it. I told him I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal, “so and so” does stuff like this all the time. I didn’t do anything crazy.

That’s when he taught me about expectations and how I have always set high standards for myself, and so others expect me to hold to them. So when I fall, I fall far. He used all of the Dad phrases in this conversation, you know them. Phrases like, “What were you thinking?” and “I’m disappointed in you.” but the one that really got me, was “You’re better than that.”

Needless to say, being the devastated over-achiever I was, I went to my room, locked myself in, mapped out a life plan, set short term and long term goals, re-evaluated all of my personal relationships and taped a daily focus statement to my bedroom door (I’m not even kidding).

I never lied about being sick again. I almost never call out even when I am sick. I have to be deathly ill not hold to my commitments. But why? Truly, my 18-year-old self could have just said, “Ok, dad. Whatever you say. I’m an adult. I’ll do whatever I want.” and I think sometimes I did (but you know, respectfully).

The wise Father.
The wise Father.

But there was something in that statement that hit me hard. So, lets take a minute and unpack it a bit.

“You’re better than that.”

  1. He believes in me and believes that I am better than the behavior that I have exhibited. He expects more.
  2. Who I am and the thing that I have done are 2 separate things. My mistakes are not associated with my identity and who I have determined myself to be. He recognizes that and calls me out for it.
  3. This statement is rooted in love, because he chooses to believe the better in me, regardless of my mistake.
  4. He is sharing the reality of his perception of me not meeting my own and his expectations of me.

I’ve lived this. And, as mentioned previously, not lived this.

I’m guilty of not always expecting the best in others. We all are. The important thing to remember is that if we want their best, we need to expect their best and have enough courage to let them know if they aren’t living in it (but STILL expect them to).

People naturally tend to reside within the realm we have created for them. They either feel that they will never be able to please us and forfeit even trying, living up to our poor expectations of them, or realize that someone other than themselves, thinks they are capable of more and they want to achieve those expectations.

Obviously others have expectations on us as well. As my Father had on me. One thing I want to be VERY clear about is what we choose to do with the negative expectations that others have placed on us. Yes, we naturally tend to live within these expectations, however, we DO have a choice. I have worked for a boss that I felt I could never please. No matter what I did. So, I grew stagnant. I personally consider that season as one of my greatest failures while being in a position of leadership. Stagnating my growth was MY doing and I blamed somebody else for it while wasting my own time. It’s YOUR life, live it as such.

We should be doing everything we can to ensure others know and feel that we believe in their best. This is the way we cultivate growth. Let’s treat people that way.

Is there a time somebody believed better for you? Did it change you? Is there a time somebody had low or poor expectations of you? What did you do to overcome? Please share in the comments.

More Than Dreamers Meetup – 5/28/16

Hello friends! We will be hosting our first meetup at Angel Park in Las Vegas @ 2PM on Saturday, May 28th.

This will be an opportunity to gather and discover your life’s passions and dreams, then build a plan to achieve them within a community that helps keep you motivated. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

To RSVP, please go to our Facebook page: Facebook.com/MoreThanDreamers!!

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

dominique

The one rule to unlock and discover your life’s passion.

In my previous post, “How do you live your dream if you haven’t discovered it yet?” I shared a lot of my personal journey of self discovery through trial and error.

The thing is, there is no room for discovery or error, if there is no trial. Lack of trial seems to be a common thing these days.

I get to work with a lot of young people. I’m lucky to help them with their development in the work place and sometimes it might even influence their personal lives.

These individuals are truly some of the most intelligent and creative people I’ve ever known. Filled with infinite potential and destiny. In some of our sit down conversations, I often ask, “What are you passionate about?”

So many of these incredibly talented people just don’t know.

That’s ok.

A lot of them are fresh out of high school or still in college, trying to figure out who they are and what they like. Some of them are still living out the plan their parents had for them.

But few have their own plan or hopes and dreams. Mostly due to not having any specific passion to give them direction.

So what does one do when they find themselves in this place? How does one take action before you are 35 and realize you have been going the wrong direction for more than a quarter of a century?

I’m quite confident that by the time you are 35, you will definitely begin thinking about what you might have done differently, earlier on, to get your life in a better place (and by “better” I mean more fulfilling and possibly more financially secure). I’m not even 35 yet and I already think about that stuff. Not in a “have regrets” sort of thinking, but a realistic, self-assessment, how can I do better sort of way.

Truly, I would say 25 is a good time to start getting serious about pursuing what you are passionate about (If you started your journey even younger, even better). This means you’ve had at least a quarter of a century to figure it out. But what if you haven’t? What if you’re 45 and still haven’t? That’s ok too.

So let’s get down to it. How does one become serious about finding their passion?

Well, I think it’s by not taking things too seriously. This seems counter productive, I know. But, if you don’t take things too serious, you can be adventurous.

Going on adventures requires courage, optimism and grace for when you mess up. The great thing about our early twenties is that we are still ignorant enough to be reckless. We still don’t quite understand true consequences of our risks that we take. Which I believe to be a very valuable attribute.

We don’t quite understand huge failure yet, because we probably haven’t had much of it. So without these points of reference to hold us back from risk and discovery, we are still free. Free to explore. Free to find ourselves. Free to choose whatever we desire.

If you don’t consider yourself a “spring chicken” anymore, again, that’s ok. We just need to be very intentional about not allowing fear to hold us back (check out a previous post on fear, here).

I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised by parents who taught me to believe that I could do anything that I wanted. So they let me be who I needed to be to discover that. They allowed me to go on adventures and just disappear to pursue life to my heart’s content (But of course, I still needed to be home by 11PM curfew).

Going on an adventure of life discovery requires one very important thing.

Saying “Yes.”

If you have a random idea, say “Yes.”

Another person has a random idea, and asks for your involvement, say “Yes.”

If you have not yet invested in other things, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Insight, wisdom, knowledge, and experience.

Over time, each adventure will allow you to discover the things you are passionate about and the things that you aren’t. Often, it will end up being things that were right in front of us, all along.

It’s never too late.

So, get up.

Start your life’s adventure now by saying “Yes.”

What have you been reluctant to say “yes” to? What’s an adventure you have always wanted to go on? How has saying “yes” helped you discover your passion? Please share your story in the comment section below.

How do you live your dream if you haven’t discovered it yet?

Recently I reached out on Facebook, asking who out there felt they were doing what they were “meant” to do with their life.

Out of my several hundred “friends” I only received a response from 2-3 people who said that they felt they were doing what they were supposed to be doing with their lives. There were several others who disputed the wording “meant to do” because they felt that we can all do whatever we choose. So, then I guess the follow-up question would be, did you choose to do what you are doing now?

I think the obvious answer is yes. We all have jobs that we chose to walk in and apply for. But, did we think we would be doing something different? Are we still at place that we told ourselves we would only be at temporarily?

In another post, I asked people what was the biggest thing holding them back from pursuing their dreams or what they are passionate about? There was overwhelming response (Which led me to believe that the Facebook algorithm was not to blame for the lack of response to the previous question). We have an awful lot of excuses for why we have settled with where we are at.

Out of these responses, though, were a tremendous amount of people who were just unsure of what they were actually passionate about. And that made me wonder.

Why? Why don’t they know what they are passionate about? How does one not know the thing that makes them come alive? How does one get out there and discover the things that make them come alive? That’s exactly it, I guess. Get out there.

I am 31. I am still fairly young. But I like to think that I have done quite a few things. Things that have helped me discover things I am passionate about and things that, for the sake of getting through life, I merely tolerate. Here are a few.

Most of you are familiar with the fact that I used to play music. Music was what made me come alive. Performing, specifically. Playing drums will always be something that I enjoy doing. It was something I had always wanted to do, even before ever touching a real life drum set. It was always just a desire of mine. One that never left. And so I did just that. I started playing when I was 14. If you do the Math, I have been playing drums for longer than I have not. However, drumming is not a passion that I want to make money doing (I have one stipulation, actually. If Paramore knocked on my door today and said, we want you to drum for us, then maybe I would go play again and come out of retirement). A few years ago, I started playing drums in a band again. Thinking it’d be like the olden days of touring and performing and meeting incredible people. The problem was, it was not. It was playing in dive bars, late at night, hauling a gigantic instrument around in the hot and in the cold, and fending off drunk people. It just isn’t something I am passionate about anymore. Today, I need deeper connection with people, sunlight, sobriety and more sleep. I still enjoy playing drums, but in the comfort of my own home.

animal

 

After walking away from my band of 7 years, I got a crazy idea to screen print shirts for people. At the time, I knew a lot of people who needed “band shirts” and shirts for other random causes. So I saved up some money and bought a screen printer. I made some pretty decent money doing the t-shirt printing and had fun coming up with design ideas and learning design software. Outside of that, though, it was a ton of hard work. Not sure if you know the process of screen printing, but for a tiny 5’1” tall, 105 pound person like me, it was intense. Lots of chemicals, heat guns and paint. I needed something a bit more simple. That’s about the time I sold all of my equipment and bought a camera.

It was the necessary creative outlet I needed since I wasn’t writing and performing music anymore and that part of my brain just didn’t know how to shut off. I loved it. I would sneak away out of the house and grab my buddy and we would go on random adventures to get photos in. That was the best. The memories that were created. I later had the idea to start charging people for photos. Worst idea I ever had. After shooting a wedding for 12 hours and not being fed, I put the camera down and never picked it up again. Literally. Sure, it was my lack of business knowledge and having stipulations in a contract, but either way. That was enough. I love Photography, but it’s not what I am meant to do…or make money doing, I should say. I’ll take pictures again in the future, but on my own terms.

A few other things I truly enjoy doing are running, cycling and planning out finances. I exercise near daily and it is an important part of my life, but I have no desire to be a fitness coach. The exercise, I do it for me. Same with finances. I love budgeting and spreadsheets and balancing my accounts, but I don’t care to be anybody’s financial advisor. I don’t mind sharing advice and tips, but I have no desire to get paid for it.

There are even plenty of things that I have done that I discovered I just absolutely dislike doing altogether. Clothing retail (Old Navy), please kill me before I ever consider another job like that. Serving food. My mother was a waitress for 14 years or something crazy, what an incredible woman, bless her heart. I hated it. The smells, how particular people are, the terrible tippers. Just no. I worked for a season at my Step-Father’s Interior Design company. Not for me either. I don’t care about different fabric patterns or carpet colors or backsplashes. My mind can’t wrap around why people get so crazy about a table or chairs. Tech Support. Eeeeek. I made decent money, but dealing with crazy people who have no idea why they purchased what they did and can’t remember their passwords…no thank you. My family knows it is a bit of a point of contention with me. They often want to use me as a resource for their tech questions, but sadly it’s rare that I can maintain my composure long enough to help them with their issues.

So, with life experience came knowledge of what I like, what I don’t like, what I love doing and what I am passionate about.

Out of all of these things, there is one thing that I know I am passionate about.

Helping others pursue their dreams. This was discovered while I was in my first band. The true reason I loved music. The connection. People would meet me, write me or reach out to me in some way and ask for my advice or help on how they get going with their own music. Convincing others to believe in themselves and their dream is by far, my favorite thing to do in the entire world. I will willingly waste my life doing this. If I can find a way to get paid for it, cool. If not, either way, I will still have fulfillment.

band help
Photo credit: Calvin Rutherford

Had I stuck with any of those other things I had mentioned, I wouldn’t be living out MY dream. I would have forced myself into a mold in which I do not belong. Which so many of us do. I am not saying that you are too good to hold any other job, other than your dream job. Because I also believe in hard work and the necessity of having multiple jobs so that you can pursue your dream. Because sometimes your dream is not a money maker. My Dad loves fishing. He takes his boat out every weekend. To support his dream, he has a great job working for a company that pays him well.

So don’t just go run out and quit your day job because it’s not your dream. Rather, do what needs to get done in order for you to have a way to discover what it is that you are passionate about. For years, I waited tables to pay the bills while I pursued music. The bills still have to get paid. Don’t neglect your adult responsibilities and don’t neglect your dreams. Both are vitally important. Create a means to allow yourself to discover. Don’t be a slave to adulthood. Because we all have to take care of our responsibilities. Don’t make adulthood your excuse. Because it’s a bad one. There are plenty of others out there, getting through adulthood AND living out their dream. I’m convinced you can too.

What is something you have always wanted to try but haven’t? What is a step you can take today to discover your passion? Although you may have a day job, are you intentional about having an outlet for your life’s true passion? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

3 ways to establish relationships that help you achieve your dreams.

My best friend has been watching a show recently called, “60 Days In.”

It’s about 7 innocent people who volunteer to go to prison for 60 days undercover.
While incarcerated, these volunteers are treated just like prisoners. Nobody, other than the Producers, the Sheriff and Captain of the prison, know about the program and the volunteers. So, if a volunteer commits criminal acts while incarcerated in the program, they have to pay the consequences.

One of the young volunteers, Isaiah, ends up making friends with another young inmate who is a known trouble-maker. Isaiah eventually finds himself in a predicament where he is covering for his friend out of loyalty, who is stealing from other inmates and committing crimes.

Isaiah will have to suffer the consequences of his actions committed out of loyalty to his friend.

This happens all too often and in so many different settings. We forfeit aspects of our lives and even our dreams for the sake of keeping friends around. Somehow, we even portray this as the right way to live. Hollywood loves the story of the hopeful underdog who finally catches a break and then ditches either their friends, family or other close relationships and then by then end, they have chosen to give up everything they worked for in order to maintain those relationships. Because these relationships are what’s most “important.”

For some reason, it’s rare that life wants us to achieve our dreams and keep our friends too.

There are some fundamental and necessary approaches we can take to avoid or resolve this problem.

Surround yourself with like-minded people.
My friend, Drew, has this quote he likes to share, “You are who you will be five years from now. The only difference is the books you read and the people you meet.” I believe this statement to be true, at least, to the extent that we are willing to be changed. There are people who I have run into throughout life who have inspired me to take action and others with whom, I enjoyed being around but we did a whole lot of nothing at all. The latter, I kept around for the same reasons as Isaiah, camaraderie and loyalty. We all do this. It’s in our nature; the need for others and to be loyal to each other.

The thing is, if we aren’t surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, nobody is going to challenge us, or remind us what we are living for. In fact, they may do just the opposite, distract us from our purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you shouldn’t have fun every once and a while. I am just saying there’s more to life than getting high morning, noon and night while screaming at each other, like my neighbors who live behind me. (I still wonder how they pay their rent).

You may have heard the saying, “You can’t soar with the eagles if you hang with the turkeys.”

Set boundaries.
I have a friend who recently came to me for some advice. She has been in the works of putting a design company together. She is young, talented and filled with ambition. She shared with me how her best friend recently decided she also wants to be involved in this company and help with the administrative side of things. Initially, my friend was excited about it. She would be the creative and her friend could manage the administrative tasks. Not long into it, she discovered that her friend was tearing down her creative ideas and they weren’t working well together. My friend doesn’t have the heart to tell her best friend, that she wants to do this project on her own.

As she was telling me her story, I felt like I was re-living my early twenties with my best friend.

It didn’t end well.

I encouraged my friend to set some boundaries. It’s easy to want to do everything with your friends. There are some things, though, that we may be meant to do and others may not. It’s ok to do things on your own and have healthy collaboration. But when somebody else begins to dictate the direction of your dream, there needs to be boundaries.

Don’t put your life on hold for the comfort of others.
My friend, she really has 2 choices.
1. Put her dreams on hold to keep her friendship in a comfortable spot and avoid conflict.
2. Be honest with her friend, with the risk of hurting feelings, so that she can pursue her dreams. If her friend is truly her friend, while she may be hurt, she will still support her and stick around. If not, she may be better off.

As I shared with my friend and have said many times over and over again to my readers and to people I get to speak with in the flesh, you have one life.

One life to whole heartedly go after the things that are burning deep inside of you. One life to leave your stamp. One life to give us all you have to offer.

Surround yourself with others who want to do the same. Who pull the best out of you.

10 years from now, you don’t want to be in a place of regret that you didn’t do things differently.

So what about you? When you envision your current circle of friends, are they people who are pursuing their dreams and encouraging you to do the same? Would your friends describe you as somebody who is pursuing their dreams and supporting them in their pursuit? Is it time to find a new tribe?

For all you people haters out there.

“I hate people.”
I have heard far too many people mumble these words. Even good people who treat others very well, almost as if they had actually liked people.

People. Who are they? Well, the word, “people” can be defined as “persons, whether men, women, or children, considered as numerable individuals forming a group.” A simpler definition would be “human beings, as distinguished from animals or other beings.”

Here’s a visual aid I constructed on my very own. Aren’t you enamored with my skills?

People

These are all “people.” They are included in the one’s that you “hate.”

It is not completely impossible that there are some people out there who may actually hate all the examples listed on my picture. But the truth is that there are generally at LEAST 1-2 other humans on this planet that we actually like. It is VERY rare that the number is actually ZERO. Also, you are a “people,” which means you would also hate yourself (Which I hope you don’t because I am sure you are beautiful, wonderful and lovely).

So can we PLEASE stop generalizing all of humanity into a terrible a category that every fiber of your being is against?

Ok, now that is out of the way, let’s talk about WHY we think we hate people.

From my own experience, it’s when we see another human do something that makes us question all of humanity. It could be something small. It could be something large. I had my own moment yesterday with somebody. They acted one way to my face and another behind my back. (I’ve never understood why people feel the need to act different depending on who is standing in front of them. It seems much easier to maintain the same persona all of the time IMO, anyway).

Here are a few more examples. You are out on a walk because it’s a beautiful day outside. You observe another human, driving, blow through a stop sign and perhaps simultaneously looking at their phone. We may mutter, “I hate people.” When really, we hate when people are so selfish that they don’t abide by particular rules or laws and put others in danger. Here’s another; there is a story of a police dog shot in action. Somebody reads this news and then says the favorite line, “This is why I hate people.” The dog actually survives because there is an incredible Veterinarian who tends to the animal immediately and saves its life. The Vet is also a person, though, and falls into the category of which hatred is still placed upon. Really, we may just actually hate those who do harm to animals. Somehow, we forego rightful credit to the humans who attempt to repair and save these animals.

So, are we in agreement that the generalization of hating all of humanity due to some unacceptable acts of a few individuals is a bit extreme and unnecessary?

Beyond the hate.
Are you willing to go one layer deeper? Perhaps to labeling and harsh judgment? We all do it. We are all guilty, whether we realize it or not. Even in the example above about the stop sign and perhaps being on your phone while driving, MOST of us are guilty to some degree. Several of the things we get frustrated about, we are probably guilty of ourselves. Are there more extreme things we are innocent of? Sure. Regardless, as humans, in what environment do we rehabilitate the best? Strict punishment and judgment or forgiveness and grace?

This could easily go all over the place, so I will attempt to be as succinct as possible.

Let’s say you have a family member who got into the wrong crown. You turn your back on them, call them a drug addict and a loser. You place them in this hypothetical box with this label, keeping them there in your mind. Nothing they do can change it. Trapped. They see your actions and your beliefs of them and live up to them. People who should care about them don’t and so they remain the same. Over time, they grow comfortable in your hypothetical box, because they might as well since they aren’t going anywhere.

Now, am I telling you that it’s your fault they are drug addicts? No. Am I telling you to be an enabler to their bad behavior? No. Simply, I am saying, we need to tell and show these people that we believe them to be more than this. That they do not belong inside this box and help them see the world outside of it and how they can be a part of it.

We need to hate the behavior. Not the person. We need to love the person, and for them to know and feel that they are loved. Not label them, not cast them out, not lump them in with some horrible group with a terrible reputation. We need to truly care about each other. Because we need each other.

Grace changes us.
Do you remember a moment in your life where you made a really big mistake? One where you were full of shame and where you felt you deserved harsh judgment and/or punishment? And every time you swallowed, you felt a lump in your throat that would remain there until the truth was finally exposed and you would finally face the punishment of your actions?

Have you ever been right in the middle of that place and then somebody showed you grace instead? Where they hugged you and told you that we have all made mistakes and that you are forgiven? Where they’ve just assumed your overwhelming shame is already enough cause for you to never do that thing again and so they are merely there to be your encouragement to pick up and keep going?

Did you not have the most relief you have ever had in your entire life? Where you know you deserved something far more harsh, and this grace was so beautifully unexpected? You vowed never to make the same mistake again.

I’ve been there. Those moments changed me. Softened me. Helped me heal. Had somebody just mumbled, “I hate people” in response to my actions, that change probably wouldn’t have occurred. Or maybe it would have, but much farther down the line with much heavier consequences.

I don’t think I am the only one with these types of experiences. I am certain that I am not.

Can we agree to attempt to recall these moments next time we are tempted to generalize somebody’s temporary lapse in judgment and behavior and rekindle a misdirected hatred towards all of humanity?

This website is called More Than Dreamers. In order to be so, we must first be believers. Believers in each other and believers in ourselves. Let’s get the hate and the anger out of the way so we can move forward and change the world.

Were you once bitter and callous towards people and realized you needed a change? What was your moment of being softened? How have things changed since? Feel free to share your story in the comments below.

Your acceptance of RBF could be costing you big time.

For those of you not familiar with the term RBF, it stands for “Resting Bitch Face.” And has recently become all the rage. Interestingly, though, the direction that your lips curl on your face has a lot to do with the direction and patterns of one’s life.

I am sure some people pop into your mind who may appear to be “refusers of fun” because they appear so serious all the time. Maybe you don’t even know what their teeth look like. The question is, are we inclined to be around these people often? Or do we tend to keep our distance? Life is short, we want to enjoy it, right?

Here are a few simple truths about the impact of smiling…or not smiling.

Smiling shows confidence.
I’ve known several people in life who don’t smile. Some willingly, some not realizing it at all. Some utterly refuse to smile in pictures as if an image of your smiling face gives off an appearance of weakness. It’s quite the opposite truly. There is nothing that says, “I am confident in who I am.” more than a huge grin on one’s face.

Smiling attracts others.
Have you seen the “Debbie Downer” Saturday Night Live skit? Sure, this may be an extreme example because she is being so negative in the midst of her bubbly friends, but people who don’t smile are generally avoided.

I work in a busy environment with tons of customers coming and going. It is not uncommon to see a customer who needs help, intentionally walk past several employees who might be available, all because they didn’t make eye contact or appear friendly. The customer is generally walking with a purpose and scanning the room. Then when they catch an employee who makes eye contact with them and greets them with a smile, they make a direct approach to that team member. It’s like magic.

Your acceptance of RBF could be costing you big time.

Smiling creates a subconscious human connection.
The truth is, smiling is everything. It makes all the difference in interactions. People generally don’t want to be rude to another smiling individual. Smiling creates this subconscious human connection. A reminder that we are all here for the same thing. It unifies us.

Smiling is a choice.
RBF has almost become this excuse to refuse to initiate a smile. We are all capable. I see people I know who claim to have RBF, smile just fine. So I know they know how. They are not broken. They just choose not to. Smiling isn’t difficult. It’s a choice. And one doesn’t have to be happy to smile, actually, smiling and receiving smiley replies, can stimulate internal happiness.

Smiling breaks barriers.
A few years back I used to do tech support. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best technician. I didn’t have any technical expertise or prior technical experience. Prior to this job, I hadn’t tinkered much deeper than running software updates on my computer. But for some reason I excelled and people felt I was great at my job. Soon they asked me to facilitate trainings to help newer technicians. My philosophy was simple, “Anyone can learn how to turn a screw. You are all capable of reading a manual and following directions. The important part is showing the customer that you care. I have a secret weapon… It’s a smile.” It was cheesy, but it was the truth. A smile instantly broke down barriers between the frustrated customer and myself. It sent an instantaneous message of, “I am on your side.”

A smile creates an invisible bond. It creates loyalty. It’s what causes a customer to return to you with a smile, even though their technical issue hadn’t been resolved. It’s what will cause people to come to you for life advice because they know and feel that you care about them. But it has to be genuine. Not manipulative. You actually have to care about the person you are showing that smile to. It will work wonders. It will calm the angry. It will soften the bitter. It will bring life to the broken. Consequently, it will also happen to bring you success. People like being around kind and happy people.

Whether you like people or not, smiling should make your human interactions a much more positive experience.

Smiling can bring your life overwhelmingly positive results.
In “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie tells a story of a man who was not living a happy life. This man was tasked with a very simple assignment, but he had to commit to consistency in order for it to be effective. He was asked to smile more. A lot more. To be intentional about it. So he did. Soon, his marriage improved. His work life improved. He made more friends who invited him out. Later, he was told by people he knew, they thought he was mean because he never smiled. After this experience, he shared how he would never go back to not smiling because this simple change had such a tremendous impact on his life.

All because he curls his lips upward more often.

Here’s a challenge. Try smiling more. REALLY smiling. Do it for a week, straight. See what happens. See if people want to be around you more. See if people at work enjoy working with you more. See if your job becomes a little bit easier. See if your friends and family ask you to be around more often. I am sure you are capable. It’s your choice.

Do you have a similar experience of making a positive, smiley change, in your life? Do you have RBF, and somebody helped you realize you didn’t have to? Have you ditched the frown and seen more success in your life because of it? Share your own story below, in the comments.

The need to be “fearless” is a load of shit.

I come from a place where the term “fearless” is thrown around quite often. It has almost been twisted to insinuate that the word “fearless” is somehow synonymous with being authentic. For example, someone who is fearless may just say “exactly what’s on their mind” without regard of additional perspectives or impact to others.

I am here to tell you today, that fear is real and that doing anything of actual purpose or meaning, “fearlessly,” is just a huge load of shit.

Fear is real.
I am not here to debate anybody’s theological belief system or attempt to rationalize salvation with others, but I will use the best example of a historical figure that I know.

Luke shares of the moment when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the evening prior to the crucifixion. Knowing what was to come, Luke describes Jesus as being in “agony” to the point where he was sweating drops of blood. Hematidrosis is the scientific term for this phenomenon; where one sweats blood due to an extremely high level of stress or anxiety. I’d probably be pretty stressed out if I were about to be crucified as well.

Either way, the point is, if the one person who was supposedly sent to save the whole world can be stressed or have anxiety to the point of sweating blood, that’s enough to say that fear is real (for me, anyway).

I am sure Jesus had a tremendous heart, better than me, for sure. Because had somebody, in a moment like that, approached me and encouraged me to be “fearless,” I probably would want to body slam them into the deepest level of the Earth and make sure they never see the light of day again.

But, that’s just me.

Doing anything new, adventurous, or with a deeper purpose will involve fear.
Some of the most important and meaningful moments of my life were accomplished while in the midst of being absolutely terrified.

I will never forget the moment, several years back, where I looked at my best friend and shared with her the craziest idea that I had ever had; to somehow plan and facilitate a nation-wide silent protest. I was frightened to death of a response such as, “Why?” or “That’s just way too big.” but she didn’t. She said, “Ok. Let’s do it.” and actually allowed me to believe that I could somehow pull this thing off. That season of my life happened to be one where everything lined up. Oddly enough, it was in the midst of the 2008-2009 recession, where my two jobs could barely allow me to work a few hours a week, so I had plenty of time to invest in this gigantic project. The right people just happened to come along to get behind and support the vision. I dedicated so many resources and it will forever be one of the most incredible things I have ever been a part of.

Another extremely important moment in my life, while being simultaneously horrified, was about 4 years ago. I was sitting across from my boss at the time, trembling with fear (not exaggerating, my legs were shaking, I distinctly recall trying to physically hold them still) because I was about to tell this man, who held the fate of my career in his hands, that I thought he was wrong. In that particular season of life, my biggest aspiration was to be promoted to a Leadership position in the company that I had worked for. I was taking the risk of potentially committing career suicide. Not only was this Leader, so gracious with the feedback that I gave him; later down the road, he acknowledged me in an all-store meeting with an award for giving him the best feedback he had ever received while in his current position. But the truth was, I was so scared. I was certain I would puke all over myself before I actually got all the words out. I was everything but fearless.

Fearless is full of ego.
Oppositely and more recently, I went into a conversation with somebody in a very “fearless” manner. And very quickly, it was revealed to me that I didn’t take anything from this person’s perspective into consideration. I went in, fearlessly assuming, I was right and they were wrong and then, fearfully, I found myself in a gigantic mess of words that could not be unsaid.

If I don’t have a bit of a knot in the pit of my stomach before I am about to walk into a somewhat difficult conversation with somebody, I may need to check myself. It’s likely that I am currently being blinded by pride and don’t have a person’s best interest at heart. And if you are in a position of Leadership or authority, that is one thing that should be at the forefront of your mind at all times; the best interest of your team members. You impact their lives in a tremendous way. That’s nothing to take lightly.

Fear is boring.
In Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, she says something incredible. “Your fear is the most boring thing about you.”

You’re probably thinking, “But you just told me that you experienced some of your most important life moments while being afraid.”

Yes.

I did.

The actions that I took, were some of the most memorable and important. I just happened to also be full of fear while doing them.

We are ALL afraid. Every single one of us. It’s the way we are wired. You know, something about human nature and survival instincts, blah blah blah. You have fear. I have fear. We are all afraid. THAT is the boring part. Are you going to let the boring thing, that every single person on Earth struggles with, prevent you from living out important and meaningful moments in your life?

Find a way to live with your fear.
Let me say that again. LIVE with your fear. LIVE your life. You may be afraid, but you will be truly living. The point is NOT to be fear-less. The point is to take action regardless.

We need to find a way to co-exist with our fear. Truly, if we are not afraid, we are not doing anything challenging or worth risk. We need fear to know we are on the brink of something bigger than ourselves.

I would rather deal with “Fraud” or “Imposter” syndrome any day of the week, versus, not living out my life and its purpose at all, because my boring fear rules and dictates my life’s outcome. Do that shit afraid. It doesn’t matter. Just do it.

Are you letting your fear hold you back and paralyze you? Have you been caught in the lie of needing to be “fearless?” What have you learned from it? Share your journey in the comments below.

Are you offering a seat or hoping to fill one?

In the movie, Forest Gump, there is a scene where Forest first meets the love of his life, Jenny. As a young boy, he gets on the bus for the first day of school. He walks through the bus, looking for a seat. Each kid informs him that all the open spots are taken. At that moment when he seems broken and just stands in a daze, a small voice says, “You can sit here, if you want.” As Forest recollects this moment, he refers to Jenny’s voice as “the sweetest voice in the whole wide world.”

As awesome as Forest was, this moment is about Jenny. Jenny had plenty of her own issues and things going on in her life, but she still made a space for Forest.

Here are a few reasons why we should all be making a seat for others and not waiting for them to make a seat for us.

If you’re waiting, you’re just daydreaming.

In the same scene above, after Forest has met rejection, he stands there gazing off into the distance. He wasn’t sitting. He wasn’t moving. He was just there; pondering. Often, if we find ourselves waiting on others, we aren’t actually doing much, let alone what we hoped to accomplish. If you haven’t gotten started on what you want to do in life because you are waiting for the right people to come along and help, you are doing nothing but wishful thinking. It’s time to get going and take action.

If you’re not on a journey, you won’t meet any fellow travelers.

When I was about 7 years old, I had a dream that Janet Jackson pulled me on stage with her at a concert. We sang and danced and rocked peoples faces off. But, it was a dream. Janet never found me in real life. And she never will. Because that was a dream and she has no idea who I am. I never went on a journey to find her (mostly because I am not a stalker & Janet has nothing to do with what I do now).

Also, outside of pesky salesmen, I have never had a traveler come knock on my door at home and tell me that they are looking for somebody like me to join them. If they had, I might call the police on them…because that’s creepy. Just as Janet might have called the police on me, had I done the same.

However, throughout my journey of life, thus far, I have met some incredible people. These people have imparted incredible wisdom and insight into my life. Had I not had moments where I put myself out there and made the trek, our paths would have never crossed.

Meeting other travelers is a worthy investment of time.

I would actually argue that it is the most important investment of time. A few years ago, I took the trip of a lifetime and traveled to the UK with my best friend. We went to a lot of places in the span of 2 weeks. I saw incredible sites and ate some delicious food. But what I remember the most are the people that I met. Tea time with fellow travelers and their perception of Americans. Tattoos in Glasgow with Ferg. Dinner at the pub with Marion. Moments in time that are now precious in my heart. People I would have never met or made an impression on me if I wouldn’t have gotten on that 10 hour flight and flown across the world.

It’s the same when we talk about the pursuit of our dreams and passions. When we are open to sharing a seat, people will show up to accompany and strengthen us along our journey. We aren’t meant to do this alone. We have things to share and things to learn.

Scotland
Photo by: The Amberlight Collective

Your tribe is out there.

Often in life, we believe that our journey should be with particular people. And so we wait. This group of people, in popular culture today, is often referred to as your “tribe.” It’s a group of people who may do what you do or think how you think. It’s the people that you surround yourself with and who spur you on. When we keep a seat open, it’s much easier to discover who these people are. They may need your help, you may need theirs. You may just need some company along the way.

Be careful not to force yourself to fit into somebody else’s tribe.

There are a lot of people out there doing some great things. You may deeply admire these people. Don’t let the admiration overshadow the fact that you have your own gifts and talents to offer. Your tribe should be people on your level who can be honest with you and you with them. If you attempt to force yourself into somebody else’s tribe you run the risk of not staying true to yourself and your gifts, out of a need to be accepted by this tribe.

Don’t get caught waiting for a tribe to ask you to join. You could be waiting a long time or even forever. And remember, if you’re not moving forward, you’re just daydreaming. This is your life. Waiting to fit in somebody else’s tribe could cause you to completely miss the bus altogether.

If I chose to continue daydreaming with Janet, I would never have met my tribe. I’ve met my tribe by taking action and surrounding myself with like-minded people. And so will you. You probably already have a tribe and haven’t even realized it. Your tribe will continue to evolve and change throughout time. If you don’t have a tribe yet, be Jenny. Be on the bus, going in a forward motion and keep a seat open for others. Don’t wait for community, create it.

Are you keeping a seat open along your journey? Have you been hoping to fit into somebody else’s tribe? What lessons have you learned along your journey? Please share in the comments.