Follow the leader: a game for adults

January 21, 2010

I have been accused of being a leader. The word has been tossed my way enough lately that I stopped dodging it and let it splat right in my face. Why am I a leader?

First, I gathered all the other words that people say defines a leader.

… inspiration, imagination, vision, mission, goal, courageousness, inspiring, fair minded, competency, honesty, listener, analytical thinker, ambitious, enthusiastic, wisdom, belief in others, calm, team builder, communicator, know self, relationship builder, confidence, optimism, dedication openness, creativity …

I guess people call me a leader because I possess many of these qualities. I’ve always been creative, goal-oriented and a natural communicator. The rest of these characteristics are a result of being stubborn, nosy and a know-it-all (or if I don’t, I learn.) Leadership qualities aren’t innate can be learned.

In the past few months, I’ve studied a local leader – in professional sales training, in a procrastination workshop and in his radio interviews. Tom Cox teaches leadership to CEOs and business owners, but that’s not what intrigues me about him.

Tom’s manner, listening skills and astute questions are magnetizing. He seems poised and fearless. Tom seems flawless except that he uses his flaws to educate. When Tom explains the importance of systems in his life, he first illustrates his life without organizational tools. He says he lacks discipline and is easily distracted. Plus, he succumbs to bad habits. To combat these destructive traits, he studies systems, leaders and successes. He interviews leaders, blogs about their systems and shares their successes so WE can improve.

This is where our traits intersect. I also covet the lessons of leaders, healers and innovators. I put courage in my heart and fear the icebox. Most importantly, I am honest and transparent about my faults, weaknesses and doubts. I will tell a room of strangers that I struggle with frustration and negative thoughts.

Yet, like Tom, I’m not complaining. I’m sharing to grow; to be educated and to educate. I learn how you battle negative traits, mimic your successes and then tell others. I set goals and fail. I set them again and make it.

We need leaders in families, groups, religion, government and work places. Even born leaders must work to improve themselves and their habits. You and I can both be great leaders if we do three things.

1) Be stubborn as hell. Tom recounted how Winston Churchill had a terrible stutter and was told to seek work that didn’t require talking. But he was stubborn as hell and look what happened.

2) Study yourself. Who are you? Who do you want to be? Where do you need the most improvement? Can you learn from events in your life or do you taint life experiences with unnecessary judgments?

3) Seek knowledge in others. As babies we learn by watching, listening and imitating. Why do we stop? Regardless of your leadership level, there is plenty more to learn.

Thanks Tom, for leading by example.


True love: Can you love without judgment?

January 19, 2010

A week ago my yoga teacher read “Be Awake” by Anthony DeMello and I cannot get it off my mind. I will include the piece later, but want to paraphrase.

Real love is seeing a person, object or reality as it is – without judgment. This made me question how I love people and myself. Do I love you as you are? Or do I love you for who you were or who you could be? Am I withholding love until something or someone changes? Do I love the idea of me at a younger age? Who or what do I love honestly?

Too all of us: I am sorry for loving you as I wanted you to be. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you for who you are in this moment.

That said, I still pray for miracles in our lives. I can love you now, yet see a need for change. My brother, for example, has already pawned all of his Christmas gifts. I am not surprised as this is pretty traditional behavior. I love him though. In another reality, he could be a functioning adult. But in this reality, he is not. All I can tell my family is don’t let him break your heart (or push your buttons). Loving him is enough.

Some months back I changed the way I love myself and my life. I wanted a job, money for the bills, a thinner body, peace for my husband … and so on. But I realized that the only way to embrace each day with love is just do it. I love the day for what it is – a journey, a possibility and a moment that belongs to me. I am grateful that things are they way they are. What I thought was not a perfect life really is a perfect life. With my judgment removed, life is complete and without fault.

Of course my life has room for improvement, goals and knowledge. But first I must love myself as I am in this breath. It is so much easier to love others from this place of comfort with myself. I don’t need you to be better for me. I don’t need you to fix me (or my situation.) All I ask is that you try to love me for the perfect person I am today.

“Be Awake” by Anthony DeMello

“Everywhere in the world people are in search of love, for everyone is convinced that love alone can save the world, love alone can make life meaningful and worth living. But how very few understand what love really is, and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service. But these things in themselves are not love. Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she really is here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them, otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.
Therefore the first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking, a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own? So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other.”

Searching for career, yet finding myself

January 11, 2010

The only way to get what you want, is to know what you really want.
And the only way to know what you really want, is to know yourself.
And the only way to know yourself, is to be yourself.
And the only way to be yourself, Larque, is to listen you your heart.
I do, ~ The Universe.
(sent from Mike Dooley)

This printed email has been on my computer for at least two years. However, I only recently feel like I know myself enough to know what I want (somewhat).

Months of unemployment triggered a treasure hunt for answers. What are my passions? What do I want? Who am I really? Do most people have answers to these questions?

It doesn’t seem like it. It seems like if we all knew what makes us happy, then that’s what we would do (or eat, or listen to, or think).

When I lost my job, it was difficult to listen to my heart because my brain kept saying “oh shit, what am I going to do?” I had to start with what I knew – what I dislike and did not want. I had to start analyzing my thoughts and actions – were they judgmental and why? Even harder, I had to dig deep to find out who I am – strengths and weaknesses.

This work would probably help just about anyone. Unfortunately, every day life keeps us busy enough that we don’t take the time to really listen to our hearts. (At least I didn’t.)

Career Coach Sean Harry co-created a workbook Career Crossroads: Finding Your Perfect Career. It could have been called Life Crossroads: Finding Yourself. The process he’s licensed applies to both. ARMS: Assessment, research, marketing materials, and strategy.

I thought I was pretty self-aware. Possibly I was only opinionated and loud. As soon as I admitted I didn’t know it all, even about myself, I began learning. The more I studied me, the more I wanted to know. The more I want to know.

I can’t take credit for the jewels uncovered in initial digging. In fact, this is a bit of a testimonial for coaches. Social Media Coach Joshua Waldman saw my true niche talent before I did. Sean often reminds me of strengths I’ve overlooked. Business Coach Noah Waldman helped me transform, literally, by sending head trash to the dumpster (where it belongs). The path to these great coaches began with Sales Coach Jeff Schneider who believed in me, and that was enough.

As thankful as I am to these guys, I will admit that I did all the dirty work. I mumbled to myself as I walked mile after mile; “What do I want? Where do I see myself? What is God’s plan for me? What are the solutions I bring?” (on and on until I almost ran over a gal walking her little dog). I made lists. I read books. I watched videos. I listened to webcasts. I wrote and wrote. I pushed myself. And I’m continually repeating the process.

Now I feel as though this work, if I keep doing it, will lead to the ideal life. That is what I want. Not just the perfect career or even the perfect body. I want to know the best Larque from every angle. If I know her – and become her – I will naturally be my best at everything.

Sissors and glue: The impact of our stories

January 5, 2010

Ever met someone you feel you were meant to know, or somehow know already? Possibly a person from a forgotten dream. That happened today when I met Dave Jarecki owner of Breakerboy Communications.

Not only did I immediately feel connected to Dave, he turned out to be someone I’d like to know for a long time. Our discussion lingers.

He seemed to have answers that were intended for me. He also had two killer name ideas.

Yet what’s resounding is our short discussion about stories.

Dave and I both suppose that stories are what separate and unify people. My story makes me different and connects me to the world. Dave and I talked briefly about why this is so important to writers and business owners.

Knowing your story is if utmost importance. I have had time to revive my passions during my eight months of unemployment. I’ve thought about “my story” from the viewpoint of a jobseeker, sales person, networker and wife. I’ve explored ideas, positive and negative, about who I am and what I want. I reconnected with family I haven’t seen for years at my grandma’s funeral.

I still don’t know my story completely because some chapters are buried and some are unwritten. I know that what’s important to me looms over the Columbia River, smiles as we pass and sleeps in my bed. My husband (family), climbing mountains and meeting people are the basis of my story. I love to hear a trickling creek and new story.

When we meet, and meet again, I want to hear a tale of your life. My husband would tell you that I’ll talk with someone in the checkout line 20 minutes.

If you don’t know your story or are not comfortable with the story you know, then you’ll probably never share with me. Maybe you need help discovering your story because it lives in dusty corners of your mind.

That’s why I want to help people – and businesses – find their voices and tell their stories. I thrive on it. It’s a treasure hunt.

This is what drew me to Dave. His work is about “cracking the code of your story.” His personal story of digging (strangely absent from his website) explains why the business is named Breakerboy.

I aspire to do work like Dave’s – call it brand development or storytelling. I’m on the path. When we meet, I hope you are ready and willing to tell me your story.

Thanks Dave. (Where the hell do I know you from?)

Lights, camera, success! Mind movie = rave reviews

January 2, 2010

Today I am creating a mind movie to guide me in this new decade and my new business.

I know visualizing my destination is crucial to easing my stress and worry about “how” I will get there. I also know that if I can’t see my success, I won’t know it when I have it.

I have read a lot about visualization, starting with The Secret a couple of years ago and in every positive attitude-building book since. Yet for some reason, I have not implemented a good practice.

Friday I had my first experience with muscle testing (applied kinesiology) and guided EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). My session with Pointman Consulting was specifically to help me move forward with my business without fear and old contradicting beliefs.

Despite being very open minded about these practices, I was still surprised when the invisible weight lifted. My coach Noah led me through a visualization exercise that filled me with a comfortable warm and tingly energy. At the end of the session my subconscious said “make a mind movie” in which I see, hear and feel my desired goal.

So today I need to make a short movie of me using my creative skills in marketing, sales and writing. What does it look like? Well, I am enjoying my work and making plenty of money to pay bills. I feel excited by challenges and satisfied as I help other small business owners achieve success. I work hard, but balance life with exercise and time with my husband. People meet me and are eager to work with me. I hear them saying I am such a great help and positive spirit. People congratulate me on my new adventure. Everyone I meet has a gift for me: wisdom, connections, education and means of making money. I feel so secure and stable that I bound through the days in happiness and love. I don’t get tripped up on the little stuff.

Yep, that’s my movie. This is who I am. Magazines publish my articles. I have extra money to buy the SLR camera I’ve dreamed of since their inception. Great ideas pop into my head for business owners and other clients.

I’m not an expert at mind movies but this is fairly simple. Imagine what the goal looks like, feels like and sounds like. The Secret and many websites provide guidance and examples. Another example of mine is that instead of saying “I must loose 20 pounds,” I imagine how I look and feel at this weight. When I go to bed and when I wake up, I visualize myself looking thin and fit, exclaiming how great it is to wear my old jeans and hearing people say how I look great. I support this vision throughout the day by banning negative self talk.

Start the decade off right with a movie of your own. Since you are the star, the superhero, you can achieve anything you imagine. As Napoleon’s Pedro would say: “All your wildest dreams will come true.”

Don’t wait for cancer to ask for a miracle

December 30, 2009

I was the typical person complaining to everyone about all my struggles until I starting taking responsibility for them.

We all have struggles in our lives, whether physical, financial, spiritual or mental/emotional. Instead of lamenting about my struggles, I ask myself if I am willing work on them – or simply feeding them.

Because I read a lot of spiritual/positive books, I am certain that thoughts attract similar thoughts and events to our lives. I also know that thoughts make our reality. (Olympic athletes improved their races by visualizing wins. The brain didn’t know the difference.)

I have been trying to catch my “whoa is me attitude” before it spills out of my lips. I ask myself, “Are you willing to work on this?”

For example, I have gained weight since I was laid off, and was never thin before, so I don’t like way it feels. My old reaction was to stand in the closet and bawl, complain to others and resent skinny people. But today I ask myself “what are you willing to do to change?” I am willing to walk more and try to eat less. I am thinking seriously about hitting the weights, but I’m not ready yet. So, I focus on making small improvements and BANNING negative self talk. (I tell my reflection I’m looking thinner whether it’s true or not.)

Most people have genuine reasons to complain. I used try to solve their problems until a life coach suggested another approach – ask people what they could do for themselves.

Since I don’t always have immediate answers for my issues, you might not either. However, we must keep asking how we can change, improve or ease the struggle.

Now I am going to pick on us a little. Friends lament to me about their horrible jobs, bad relationships, financial strife and health issues. They don’t know how to fix these issues, won’t seek help and don’t make even the smallest changes in themselves.

This describes decades of my life. It seems we want to wallow in our self-pitying, whoa-is-me attitude. Every time we complain, we bring more of the same crap into our lives.

Irritated? When the mirror was in front of my face, I didn’t like it either. But, I didn’t want to be a crying, complaining, fearful victim of the world. So I started making changes; first in my thoughts, then in my reactions and now in not trying to solve others’ problems.

Want to really feel like a whiner? Listen to this. A friend has a successful business and beautiful family. He is caring and does much for others. You know what he got for Christmas? He got three tumors on his beautiful wife’s brain; cancer in the worse degree.

In their daily journal this couple talks about reasons to be positive, seeking knowledge and support everywhere possible and multiplying their faith exponentially.

This woman could be sobbing all day over her struggle, yet she seeks healing by praying for others.

I am not saying that because other people have bigger problems, ours are somehow easier or overshadowed. I am saying you don’t have to wait for cancer to ask God for a miracle.

Do you really want relief from this burden? What can do to ease the struggle a tiny bit? Ask the Universe for help and expect it.

Today I will concentrate on what I DO HAVE, what I LOVE and ways I am BLESSED. I expect a miracle.

Stand back! Fuse is lit and I want to see clearly.

December 28, 2009

I just finished rewriting my resume on for the 20th time, I swear. The resume gets remarkably better every time and I just figured out why.

Often, I am too close to the subject to see it clearly. In conversation, I answer clearly and tell engaging stories. On paper though, it seems like every detail should count. My seemed like the place to regurgitate every action taken in each job.

Regurgitate is right! I didn’t look at the resume at all for two months. Since I quit concentrating on the job functions I had in the past, the more irrelevant they seem. If it were a past relationship I wouldn’t be droning on about every date we had, every present I got and every meal we shared. So I’m not sure why I listed out every mundane detail of the work relationships.

I just started reading a book that might have saved me a month of lamenting (if I had read it last month). It’s called the Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk, author of a column by the same name.

In seven chapters, Penelope has channeled my whole life. This is good because it means I am not a total freak. Yet, it’s bad because I’ve obviously made many of the same mistakes as her example characters. (And I’m only on chapter 7.)

It was the last two chapters of the book that caused me to leap from the window seat and hammer out better highlights of work accomplishments. Thanks to the help of Career Coach Sean Harry I already have a list of accomplishments – my solutions to companies’ needs. I just needed to write the resume based on those accomplishments.

Sean also prompted me to read the book (a month ago) and I am grateful.

Yes, I am still starting my own business. I can tell that the gist of the book is that whether I seek a traditional workplace or contract jobs, I need streamlined answers to “what did you do there” when prospective clients ask about my past work. Either way, they will want to know about my secret sauce.

I suspect that ideas will be igniting like fire crackers in my head as I continue to read this book. Much like when I light big crackers literally, I plan to watch the fuse from a distance. Hopefully this will help me see more clearly and not smother the spark.

Christmas presence and a new breakfast spot

December 27, 2009

It just occurred to me that I got my presence for Christmas. I didn’t even realize I was living in the moment until I got out the pad and pen for tomorrow’s to-do list.

As it turns out, I’ve been going with the flow since Thursday.

It’s nice to have a stretch of time that is not choreographed or over-produced. I enjoy week-long backpacking trips because concerns and distractions are narrowed down to food, water, warmth and comfortable feet. Once you hit the trail, it doesn’t matter what you meant to pack – only what is in the pack.

It wasn’t that I planned some perfect holiday either. I didn’t send one card. I also forgot to fortify the fridge for Christmas breakfast. I quickly accepted that cards simply didn’t get done (rather than lament over it). And the search for Christmas morning grub unearthed a great breakfast spot we’ve been driving past for five years.

I see that being present, for me, means I must continue to work toward a balanced life. I have duties and obligations, goals to pursue and knowledge to attain. However, I need to stop thinking of the next item on the list. I need to be flexible for the unexpected. I need to allow dishes to sit in the sink while I enjoy company – or sun.

The Jumping Duck Media 30-day Blogging Challenge helped me realize that I shouldn’t fuel one passion to the point of extinguishing another. A few nights ago my husband and I were having wine by the Christmas tree and sharing stories of the busy day. I had already missed blogging days, so I really needed to write. But I decided the moment was too good. Instead of blogging, I refilled my wine.

I’ve mulled over the decision. Even if laziness was the reason I missed days of writing, I’m okay with that. Some days I am the task master of myself and go way overboard. Other days I struggle to get in the groove. I am hoping to have more days I accept for what they are – a moment I am meant to be in.

Enough maturity. It’s time to play.

December 23, 2009

An undefined absence has lingered in me lately. So I prayed for a miracle with earnest. I prayed for a miracle of joy and love in my heart so great that it must spill over to others. As I made a second lap around Gabriel Park I was drawn into the dog park.

A collie, a Bernese mountain dog and a greyhound mix bombarded me and my heart was immediately overflowing with joy. I knew what I have been missing – play.

I’ve been taking life a bit too seriously. I’ve been a bit too grown up for my own good. My focus on cleanliness is so overboard that I am often affronted by a dog’s muddy paws on my clean clothes.

Yet I grinned all the way home in the running tights and jacket I just washed, now covered in sand and muddy paw prints.

This childlike elation spilled into the evening as I joined a group of gals for a night out. I cannot remember the last time I really let Larque out to play, especially with girls. I’m accustomed to drama-free guys (for the most part) who watch sports and live simply. Truthfully, girls scare me a little – which is another blog entirely.

But thanks to some random dogs I was in a playful mood, eager to play. I was met by three tables of other playful girls who just want to enjoy life, share stories, sip over-priced concoctions and laugh loudly.

Again, I ventured out of my comfort zone and found what I’d been missing. I already yearn to know more about these gals. I crave further details of the wild tales that assemble their life stories. I want to laugh until my sides hurt. And I feel like I could dance ridiculously or sing horribly and they would join in, rather than judge.

My husband says I “collect people,” which is why people needing comfort seek me and tell me their stories. But what if I let down my guard and allow others to collect me? I can only anticipate continued joy and love from new friends. Every day is truly a gift.

“There are two ways to live your life – one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle,” Albert Einstein.

Thanks girls.

Solstice mirrors my life; from darkness I expect light

December 21, 2009

My body knows it is the winter solstice. Today is a day of passage into a new phase. Today I am meant to stand still and await the rebirth of the sun.

Since standing still and waiting are not innate in my brain, my body assists. Weeks of rain teamed with the short days have deterred me from hiking. Not good for Larque’s whirling brain.

While I drove home from a Small Business Development Center class, the sun broke through nearly blinding me. I hustled to get into walking gear and climb some hills before the sun set. I felt elated and refreshed by the glorious break in staging.

And now I am spent. I’ve been a bit sluggish all day. Mentally, I’m overwhelmed with all the possibilities, choices, education and obligations on my plate. It is a good time to contemplate the winter solstice and how it mirrors my life.

From the darkness, I do expect light. My conviction that money and some semblance of order will return to my life is as strong as my belief that I will be playing outdoors at 9 p.m. in the near future. It will happen.

Like the Earth, I have felt tilted with this pull in a new direction. I know I can stand straight, but find myself leaning on pillars of support. I’m not just incubating an idea; I’m incubating my new self. One of these days I will decide to bust out completely and leave the old shell behind.

But today I am happy to stop spinning and relax. I could cuddle into bed with a cat on each side right now. Instead, I am going to read my book and sip tea. Homework, emails, research, business plan and bills can all wait. I will not anticipate tomorrow or resent yesterday.

I want to be present and happy for Bob, heat from the vents, a kitty who wants to play and at least five sunny days to come. Enjoy your solstice.