Posts Tagged ‘True North’

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Sunday, March 4th, 2012


If Mick Jagger can’t get satisfaction, what chances do you and I have? To be satisfied, we have to arrange life to our liking—and live according to our higher calling.

The Very Best of Mick Jagger

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Even if we know what we’d like our life to look like, why can’t we get there? Or have it stay that way once we do find our way?

Our life is always being shaped by something. What has shaped your life that prevents you from getting satisfaction and living your life purpose? What impedes your personal empowerment?

Here is a big hint: go back to your childhood to identify the influences that shaped your life as you were growing up. During our formative years, our lives were influenced by factors over which we had little or no control. Because we are creatures of habit, the way in which we came up with emergency solutions to childhood issues created a pattern of behavior that we continue to repeat as adults.

There are many of us who are clear about our purpose of life—our higher calling. And yet, we still struggle with working our way through the unique baggage each of us carries with us from our past experiences. The coping patterns that allowed us to survive as children are producing a cumulative effect that I’ll call our Baggage. Just as we all have a unique higher calling, we also all have a unique Baggage—based on our unique personalities and false perceptions of ourselves that we’ve experienced since childhood.

I chose the term “Baggage” because it represents the psychological freight we carry around with us that prevents us getting unstuck from negative behavior patterns and getting more satisfaction from our work and life. It is the encumbrances that holds us back and places limits that keep us from moving forward.

“Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.” The Red Queen, Through the Looking Glass

Like many things that we inherit over time, we sometimes feel we’re stuck with our behavioral patterns. The most effective way of taking control of your unwanted Baggage is to bring it into the foreground so that it has less power over your life.

As an FBI agent, I worked with the Behavior Science Unit on several of my cases. It turns out that qualities of Baggage are consistent for everyone. They are the stuff that prevents us from the satisfaction of pursuing our higher calling.

Here are their characteristics:

1. Based on fear and a need to survive. The situations in which we found ourselves as a child called for emergency solutions—at the time, they were very serious. We continue to rely upon those same reactions and solutions through adulthood.

2. Prevent us from experiencing a deeper understanding of who we are because they produce false perception of ourselves.

3. Do not encourage honest relationships that are built on sincere self-knowledge.

4. Remain hidden in the background and are very difficult for us to identify. The coping behaviors we learned as children have been with us for so long that we no longer see them for what they really are.

5. Become a default mechanism. The “emergency solution” that we’ve relied upon since childhood runs the show whenever we get confused or become unclear about our higher calling. Our Baggage becomes strong whenever we fail to show up in life—we may wake up in the morning but have no idea of what is shaping our life that day and influencing our decisions and choices.

The Baggage we haul around is important to identify, because if we don’t take leadership in this part of our life, the Baggage will continue to run our life—even after we’ve found our higher calling. Subconsciously, it will sabotage our attempts to live our life on purpose.

Here are some questions that may help you to identify your Baggage.

  • What has been shaping your life that is based in fear?
  • Where have you felt a sense of lack in your life?
  • Describe your Baggage. Use simple words, perhaps words you might have used as a child, since that is when the baggage started piling up. Finish each of these sentences:
  1. As a child, I felt I should . . .
  2. As a child, I had to . . .
  3. As a child, I could not . . .

If you want to get satisfaction and turn toward your higher calling, ponder these questions:

What have been the obstacles, roadblocks, and hindrances to clarifying your life purpose? They can be real or imaginary. Name as many as you can.

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4 Simple Ways Leaders Can Follow Their True North

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Most of us are passive spectators in our life. We plan careers, retirement nest eggs, and vacations, but we do not plan our life. As a result, we don’t live our life on purpose.

True North

Is it any wonder that many of us feel unfulfilled and not following our higher calling? We are not empowered and are no longer active participants in the direction our life is going.

Research has shown that people who regularly write down their goals earn as much as nine times more than their counterparts who do not write down goals.

  • Over 80% of Americans do not have goals
  • 16% say they do have goals but don’t write them down
  • Less than 4% actually write them down

Guess who they are? They are the ones making nine times more than the rest of us.

Without goals to anchor us, we find ourselves adrift in life. We may think we know what our goals are, but if we aren’t living our life around them, then we’re not living our life on purpose.

A goal is a dream set to paper. If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?

In a previous post, I shared the story of Oleg, a KGB officer that I met while working as an FBI undercover agent a few years ago. Neither Oleg nor the Russians knew that the FBI had identified him as a Russian Intelligence Officer.

If they had, he would have been sent back to Moscow immediately.

Oleg’s cover was a Russian businessman involved with the joint venture. I represented myself as an individual working for an international public relations company.

We met at a seminar, but the one thing we never talked about was his work.

It wasn’t that Oleg couldn’t talk about some aspects of his overt job; it was that he didn’t want to talk about them. He couldn’t drum up enough enthusiasm about the job to even keep up a good conversation. His lack of engagement in what he was doing was a clue that he was not doing something he felt passionate about.

Oleg was not following his True North. Somewhere along the line, he had compromised and had settled for less than his dream.

Here are 4 ways I encouraged Oleg to empower himself and start following his true north:

1. Explore Lifetime Goals

I encouraged Oleg to look deeper into the goals he set for himself in each of the areas listed below. It helped for him to look at each aspect of his life as a spoke in a wheel, with each leading to the hub, which is the heart. To have a balanced life, each spoke needs attention.

  • Career
  • Spirituality
  • Education
  • Recreation
  • Travel
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Health
  • Financial

As I got to know Oleg better, I’d probe about the important aspects of each spoke—not all in one day, but over time—and ask how much attention he gave to each of them, and what his goals were in each area.

2. Be Specific

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” B.J. Marshall

I encouraged Oleg to be specific with his answers. How many of us go into a restaurant and say, “Bring me food?” Instead, we’re very specific, picking what we want from the menu, and sometimes asking for substitutions to what is offered.

Do not just say, “My goal is to be more spiritual.”

  • Be specific.
  • Articulate ways in which you will be more spiritual in the 6 months, in the next year, in the next 5 years.
  • Write down your goal in clear and vivid terms.
  • List the steps needed to get there.

3. Own It

As I talked to Oleg about his goals, I learned that, besides relationships with his family, his goals were to travel and write. He had fallen into a rut in his career at an early age and was now afraid to move away from a secure job and retirement.

At some point, Oleg needed to learn that he was either living his own life or someone else’s dream for him. He was not setting his own course, and it left him empty and unfulfilled in his work and life.

  • Review your list of goals.
  • Write down reasons why your idea or goal will work.
  • Acknowledge issues that will need to be overcome.

4. Start a Life Plan

Never ask, Can I do this? Instead ask, How can I do this?

Living your life on purpose is an intentional act. It requires a simple plan to set your goals in action. Start by answering these questions:

  • Envisioned future – when and how is the goal functioning at it’s best
  • Inspiration – identify scripture, books, poems, speakers and authors from which to draw inspiration
  • Current reality – be honest; where are you in relation to the envisioned future
  • Specific actions needed – list what you will need to do to accomplish your goal

Writing down his goals helped Oleg to gain clarity on what he really wanted to do in life. Once he took ownership of his future, he was able to break it down and follow his True North. As it turned out, Oleg’s higher calling turned out to not be the KGB, and he resigned to begin a new career in writing.

How did you find your True North? What tips can you share about how to live your True North with intention? What can you share about your implementation of a life plan?

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