Ten Things I Learned in 2011
1. Balance is a myth.
I hate the word balance! Embrace the truth that balance is unattainable and, in fact, shouldn’t even be your objective. Acknowledge that you’re not supposed to have evenly balanced scales when it comes to work and life when you are living out your genius on all frequencies. Yes, smile as I liberate you from this balance myth. Instead of holding on to guilt as your genius scales tilt back and forth between work and play, let go of the notion that you have to find balance-break the damn scale if you want to!
Remember that you’re not looking for a balanced life at all; you’re looking for a fully, deeply integrated life where what you do equals what you love, whether in work, play, or within your relationships.
2. Every day can be Saturday.
No one should be curating your day-to-day life but you. This year my husband and I set out to design every day as a Saturday and the mental paradigm shift alone helped us make better daily decisions aligned with what we really “wanted” to do instead of what we thought we “had” to do. Design each working, living, playful day as a Sat and you will be surprised how much more fulfillment you will gain from each day instead of just one in seven. Yes, this means you get to replace the tasks you hate with the work you love. And yes, this means you get to play, innovate, create, and dream every day before you do anything else. Try turning a Tuesday into a Saturday and you’ll see what I mean!
3. Break your own rules.
Sometimes we have to break the rules to get shit done our way. For example, this year I wanted to be first-time author, entrepreneur, mother, and wife all at once and decided to do just that by taking on all those roles simultaneously within all environments and experiences. Ultimately, this meant I had to break a few of my own rules. For example, I brought my son to client meetings and I brought clients to family functions, purposefully living my values alongside my professional aspirations. And you know what? It was a little risky and felt strange at first, but it also felt very true and authentic. If you want to live your genius out loud, sometimes you gotta break the rules.
4. Talk to strangers.
We used to be a society who talked to one another and now we are a society who walks around with our heads bent over our smart phones. Next time you catch yourself doing that, look up, smile, and introduce yourself to a complete stranger. I speak to at least one person on every flight I take and the stories I hear, the lessons I learn, and the exchanges I have are priceless. Now, I’ll admit I’m a master at detecting genius wherever I am, but I believe all of us can benefit abundantly by just picking up our heads from time to time and engaging eye-to-eye with others. So put down that phone, tune in to the frequencies around you, and identify choice moments to connect in real time with people. Gifts come in many forms when you are open to receiving them, which can be as simple as saying hello to a stranger.
5. Think less and feel more.
Logic isn’t necessarily always king when it comes to making life decisions. Lead your life from the heart and allow the mind to follow. The heart is always right and the more of us that make this heart first/mind
second shift, the happier we will all become. The poet E.E. Cummings wrote, “my blood approves/ and kisses are a far better fate/ than wisdom.”
6. Fall in love with something new.
In order to stay “with it” intellectually, you better act as a student for life. Whether it’s Asian cooking,world religions, or a new computer language, pick a new area for your heart and mind to dive into and carve out the time to read, study, attend conferences, join online conversations, and altogether enjoy fueling your genius. I’ll be digging in to the mysteries of neuroscience in 2012.
7. Take big fat risks.
When folks ask me how I was able to write and publish my first book while launching my consulting practice, my response is always that I took a few big fat risks. Whether you want to write a book, start a business, or open that gallery, you have to be committed to taking risks, lots of them. The fact is that you will never fulfill your genius potential without risk. The good news is the more risks you take, the better you get at it-and the more often you’ll see the fruits of your efforts.
8. Learn to step down, say no, and let go.
What holds many of us back is an over-commitment to often competing agendas. For instance, are you spending more time on your volunteer work than with your family or running your business and wondering why you are failing at both? Personal leadership is about learning when enough is enough and making hard decisions to edit the causes, activities, and even the people in your life. When something or someone-even a cause or a person who is close to you-is becoming an obstacle to your growth or is chafing against your values, it’s time to step down, say no thanks, and let go.
9. Make time for foreplay.
We all need a little genius foreplay in our lives. The foreplay I am referring to is the kind that stimulates the whole mind. For me that is exploration and this year I made it my business to visit a new neighborhood within every city I visited while on my book tour and this kind of foreplay is now a new habit. Whenever I land in a city instead of hiding out in my room buried in email, I go on a multi-sensory adventure. Exploring a new neighborhood for a couple of hours visiting stores, libraries, galleries, and cafés is great for fueling your genius. In return, I am stimulated, inspired, and more accepting of my life on the road. Make your life rich with self-stimulation.
10. Patience is the secret to mastery.
I waited my entire life for the opportunity to publish my not so crazy ideas on redefining genius and it finally happened. What I learned from both the writing and publishing process is mastery can only be achieved with patience. I stayed determined, focused, and relentlessly committed to mastering the ability to express my ideas. I am still a work-in-progress and can’t stress enough the power of patience as I learn, grow, and continuously pursue my genius potential. Be patient with your goals, your dreams, and your passion projects and realize everything takes double the time you expect in order to achieve the results you desire. Those that carry on-no matter what the obstacles-win the prize. Of all the lessons of this year, this one was the most important one to me.