The Success Catalyst

Up Your Game & Bring Out Your Best

When you make average great, your dreams become a reality.

I was watching one of the recordings I have of Oprah’s show the other night and this particular episode was dedicated to watching successful celebrities re-visit the workplace of their first-ever job and, although I’m not a fan, Suze Orman, one of the celebs, said something that really resonated with me and that was, “When you make average great, your dreams become a reality”.

I thought about how that has been true for me and how, upon landing my first job at 14 yrs old, scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins off tony Michigan Ave on Chicago’s Gold Coast, I took so much pride in being and doing my best. Although frightening, even the application process was uplifting to me – that I had to qualify and explain why I felt they should hire me was such a valuable experience – a chance for me to think about and articulate my worth and the value I would add to their business if they took a chance on me. I remember practicing with my dad to prepare for the big interview which turned out to be nothing more than a very friendly and casual conversation with the owner of the store.

I was so proud that I had a real work schedule and real co-workers and that I was learning so much about the business of how to serve, stock, supply, process, and inventory a product – and the free ice cream didn’t hurt, either! And I will never forget the day a limousine pulled up and out came the one-and-only Ann Landers who’s column I read religiously. She entered the store with a smile on her face, greeted me as if we were old friends, and ordered a Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream pie. I remember proudly packing it up in dry ice for her and, in return, she handed me a $10 tip – about as much as the cost of the pie back then, which was mind-boggling to me that someone would appreciate my service so much they would give me as much money that the item was worth. And, back in 1975 that was some sweet cash!

One year later, I wanted to try my hand at flipping burgers at “Big Daddy’s – Chicago on a Bun” (I’m not kidding), so I requested a letter of recommendation from Baskin-Robbins and Russ, the owner whose name I never forgot, told me to write the letter myself and then give it to him for approval. At first, I was discouraged and intimidated by his response to my request, but then I excitedly took it on and loved it because it forced me to think and write about all the things I liked about myself as a worker and it helped me articulate my skills and abilities.

I landed the job at Big Daddy’s and poured my heart into it until I became assistant manager. But, even more memorable was that I took some of my earnings and bought my dad a fancy schmancy, solid gold chain necklace at Henry Kay Jewelers on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile for a whopping $100 (pretty much one of the cheapest one’s they had) for his birthday. Needless to say, I felt like a million bucks!

With Love,


It’s Never Too Late!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the second best time is today.” ~Chinese proverb

I love this because there are so many things I am doing now, later in life, that I never had the courage to do before when I was younger. And, as a result I am having the time of my life!

If I wanted, I could come up with a million excuses as to why “it’s too late” to live the life of my dreams. For starters, although my spirit is more vibrant and energized than ever before, my body is not! I just don’t have the same ole “bounce-back” I had at 25 as I do now in my late 40’s, and yet, I am not letting that stop me from making choices like moving cross-country to a big city I don’t know, filled with friends I haven’t yet met so that I can live near the beach, surrounded by year-round swaying palms and fruit trees.

Yeah, it would have been great to have moved here 25 years ago and learned to surf and play volleyball in the sand before I developed multiple repetitive stress injuries throughout my well-worn body, but I didn’t so what’s it going to be – lay down and cry or get on with it? Well, I chose the latter and couldn’t be happier.

The above proverb is a reminder that it is never too late to be, do, and have all that life has to offer! There’s no better time than now to live a life you love because yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes. In the end, what do you have to show for your unlived dreams? Even better, 10 years from now, what kind of memories do you want to be able to look back on?

Try this out: ask yourself, what is one thing you can do today that you wished you had done years ago? Now, start taking the steps to make it happen. It may be as simple as reaching out to someone you’ve been meaning to re-connect with, bringing a camera with you on your outings and take those pictures you’ve been meaning to shoot, getting that story that’s been in your head for ages out onto paper, or take a weekend or a day trip somewhere off the beaten path that leads to some unforeseen adventure.

The sky really is the limit when you decide to take a chance and do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again, expecting different results. If you’re feeling lackluster in your day-to-day life then it’s time to shake things up a little and see what’s available to you from a fresh perspective. But we can’t create something new and fresh from a mind filled with old, stale ideas so start with an open mind and heart and dive in with the courage and curiosity of a child, and see where it takes you. It’s never too late to have what you want!

Since it’s true that if you keep doing what you’ve been doing you’re going to get what you got, then what have you got to lose by doing something you’ve always wanted to do but left it behind and underneath a pile of worn-out excuses?

Have fun playing with this new approach and email me what you notice!

With Love,

How to Have What You Want

DSC00594Werner Erhardt once said, “If you want to know what you want, look at what you have”. Whoa, that’s pretty harsh.

Or is it? To me, this is one of the most insightful, compassionate, powerful, and truthful proclamations I have ever encountered (and on my personal and professional path of growth and development I have come upon many!).

If the truth of the matter is that we are living out whatever thoughts and beliefs we put into our heads then that means we get to choose the stories we tell ourselves and decide how we want our lives to go. How freeing is that? We can write the story of our lives, chapter-by-chapter, page-by-page.

What would the title of the book of your life be, based on your Life Message right now? Would it be something like, “I never get what I want”, “It’s not fair” or “Why me?”. Or how about, “When’s it my turn?”. Or maybe, “It’s too hard”.

Now, take a look at some of the chapters in your book that you may have authored – here is just a small sampling of the “best picks” I have heard: “it’s never too late to blame someone else for the way my life is going”, or “make resolutions, barely follow through on them, then hate myself for it”. Or, “do unto others as much I can get away with and then come away feeling even more empty and worthless”. One of my personal favorites that I see a lot is, “get excited about having a great life, but balk at putting the corresponding time, energy, and money toward it and then get envious when I see others who have what I want”.

Take your pick from the variety pack above or come up with your own. The idea is to take ownership of the thoughts and beliefs that are guiding your life so that you can decide if they are ones you want to keep or let go of. If they are fear-based thoughts then they will continue to make you miserable and you will continue to not have what you want.

Now, the good news! You can write the story you really want to tell, and LIVE, instead of the ones you have been programmed to believe you’re supposed to have. Ask yourself, “10 years from now, what’s the story I want to be telling about the last 10 years of my life?”. Most people do not have what they want and are waiting until the day comes when it will magically appear. Now, that’s harsh. And so sad. Most of us know plenty of people who, year after year, are still saying the same things over and over, to themselves, and to anyone around them who will listen, and the years go by and nothing has changed. Actually, the quality of their lives usually gets worse – great intentions and all.

That’s because most people do not want to ask themselves the real questions that would actually impact how they can have what they want. Most people would rather stay stuck than let go of old ways of thinking. Even when they say they want more in life, I’ll still hear them say, “I’m definitely going to make the change, just not now, later” and another year (or five, 10, or 20) goes by and it’s the same old story. This one usually starts out with, “If only…” or “It’s too late now, I should have done it last year (or 10 years ago!)” or “Why bother now”. The reasons and excuses go on, ad nauseam.

Now ask yourself what would you like your Life Message to be? What does your Best Life look like? What would you like people to take away from their time with you? What would make you want to jump out of bed in the morning?

Some ideas might be, “Always do your best and your best will keep getting better”, “Whatever the question, Love is the answer”, “Life is happening for me, not to me”, “All dreams appear impossible until someone makes them happen”, “Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, love as long as you live”.

Come up with your own and you’ll know it’s right for you if it makes you feel sparked and alive. And then ask yourself, “what’s one thing I can do to start making my new Life Message real?”.

My favorite parable of all time (and I’m not big on parables), told by Stretton Smith, is about three little fish in Monterey Bay, CA who are in fish school and one day their professor tells them about “water”. He tells them that water is present at every point in space at the same time.

So, after school that day, the three little fish were talking and wondering where the water really is. One of the little fish understood the concept. He knew he was already in the water. The other two said with great excitement, “Let’s go find the water!”

And so, they swam the seven seas, and finally, years later, they returned to Monterey Bay, old and decrepit, impoverished and home to die. They looked up their old fish school chum, who was still looking young, who had a whole string of condos in the reef, a fine family with several generations of grand-fish. And the two fish asked, “How did you ever find the water?”

I love this story – it makes me cry. Everything we need and want is already right here, in this moment – inside us, and all around us. All we have to do is awaken ourselves to the truth of how life works and we can have everything we want, beyond our wildest dreams.

So, here’s the key – in order to have what you want, start with understanding these three things:

1. You can never get enough of what you don’t really want. Most of us are relentlessly looking outside ourselves to fill up the emptiness and lack that we experience deep inside. There is not enough alcohol, food, sex, obsessive romantic love, drugs, shopping, over-busyness, or whatever other obsessive-compulsive, self-sabotaging, fear-based and blaming thoughts or behaviors you are engaging in, that will fill the emptiness inside of your hungry heart. We are starving for love and attention and what most of us don’t know is that it is we who have abandoned ourselves and we are just trying to get back home to us.

It can seem so much easier to tell ourselves the same old crusty story about “how things are” rather than feel the fullness of life that is always flowing through us. It takes great courage to be vulnerable and to allow ourselves to connect to our inner experience and awaken ourselves to the places inside that we hide from. It’s everyone’s dirty little secret that they think they are the only ones who are scared to death to live a life of open-heartedness, connection, peace, and joy. So many are consumed with trying to get what they think they want or desperately trying not to lose what they have that they are living in their own solitary confinement.

We live in a culture that obsessively promotes the false notion that once we get what we want, then we’ll be motivated to do what we need to do in order to be the person we know we can be. Any happy person will tell you that it’s the other way around!

Start putting who you are being first and watch your life completely change. Do what you love and what you were born to do and watch your life completely change. And then enjoy everything that you have as a result of who you are being, while you are living a life you love!

2. Want what you already have. There is nothing cliché about being fully aware that every breath you take is a gift – ask anyone who is dead and see whether they agree! And that the happiest people are not those with the most stuff, but those who are rich in gratitude and generous in spirit.

Make a (written or mental) gratitude list every night before you go to bed and it’s impossible not to go to sleep feeling filled by all of life’s riches. Reminding ourselves of all that we do have – inside of us and in our lives – is hugely gratifying and, above all, transformational. Don’t wait until you “don’t know what you got till it’s gone” to start appreciating what’s in your life now.

When we don’t take the time to appreciate what we have and acknowledge ourselves for what we have accomplished, how is it that we think we’re going to appreciate what’s to come once we get it? Who you are being while trying to get what you want is who you will be when you get it so be very clear about thinking you’re going to be happy by manipulating a situation into giving you what you think you want. Disappointment and self-hate will surely accompany that one.

3. Ask yourself “What do I love to do?”. What makes your heart sing? What would make you get out of bed in the morning that you couldn’t get dressed fast enough to go do?”.

What I love to do: I love to dance. I love to write and read, to sing and play my guitar and to listen to my favorite music, watch movies, and play with my adorable and irresistible cat. I love to swim and kayak in the ocean, ski powder, and hike in the mountains. I love improv theater and comedy, and to travel everywhere. I love dinner parties with friends, having great conversations about everything. I love to coach people to live their dreams and have their best life possible and I love to get coached – I love it!

This is just a small sampling of what I love to do. What is yours? Start writing down what you love to do, and then start doing it! It will make you come alive and, when you feel alive, you have no interest in blaming others and complaining about why you can’t have what you want, because life is too good!

And, if you’re still not convinced that your thoughts create your reality, then you’ll have Albert Einstein to contend with because he is the one who said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”. Still with me? Good because here’s more good news, you can have whatever you want. Whatever you want. Start by,  1. Getting honest with yourself about what you’re focused on wanting, 2. Want what you have and, 3. Do what you love!

Do this for a week and email me what you notice. And, don’t forget to have FUN while doing it!

With Love,

The Best or Worst of Times?

Dickens said it best 150 years ago when referring to the French Revolution of the late 1700’s in the opening of his novel, A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” ~Charles Dickens

I love this passage! These times are whatever you decide you want them to be. Yes, there’s the reality of the Big Bailout and the ensuing ripple effect on the economy resulting from short-sighted greed and selfishness (throw in denial, fear, and ignorance, for good measure). Yes, there’s financial devastation, pain, and loss for some, and “belt-tightening” for most. (And for those of you who are prospering – personally and professionally – from a place of authentic generosity, love, and service to others, then ROCK ON and keep doing more of what you’re doing!).

But, whether we see this as an opportunity for self-reflection, re-invention, and rebirth into never-ending possibilities, or as a time where “the sky is falling”, is entirely up to us. You choose: “Doom and Gloom” or “New Beginnings” – whatever you choose is what you will get, so choose carefully.

Life is always giving us wake-up calls – some alarms ring louder than others. And, as a young, robust, vibrant, and virile nation (to my international readers, please excuse the ethnocentrism of this message:), we are constantly given numerous opportunities to grow and change…or die. Those are the only two options we have – it is impossible to stay stagnant and not whither – nothing can exist from nothing.

Right now, we have the chance to become benevolent toward our “adversaries”, prosperous as a result of socially responsible and ethical business practices, fair-minded in our approach to the giving and exchanging of goods and services, compassionate when restructuring our health care system, and inclusive when creating community in our neighborhoods. The opportunities for bringing love, understanding, compassion, and kindness into our personal and professional lives, are endless.

As long as our individual consciousness is attached to the experience of lack and scarcity, we are contributing to the collective victim consciousness, which only results in blaming and complaining. All victims blame and all blamers see themselves as victims  – we live in a victim/blame culture so we are constantly being surrounded, encouraged, and bombarded by this ineffective yet, oh-so tempting approach to life.

As long as we react to challenging circumstances by tightening up inside and withholding ourselves –  from our selves, and from others –  we cut ourselves off to the possibility of uniting for what everyone on this planet wants: Happiness. We don’t all seek happiness in the most effective of ways, but I don’t know of one single human being who does not truly want happiness versus the experience of suffering. Each and every one of us can redeem ourselves in the blink of an eye, just by asking ourselves, right this second, “what can I do, today, to ‘be the change I want to see in the world’?” (Gandhi).

How exciting that, as a country, we are so fortunate to have this opportunity, right now, to take responsibility for how each of us has contributed – in thought and deed – to the fear-based hysteria and panic that is occurring in our great nation. How many of us spend much of our time, when “times are good”, in anxiety, worry, and fear rather than in appreciation, gratitude, and open-hearted joy. Instead, it is more likely that we are seduced by fear – fear of losing what we have or of not getting what we think we want. This attachment to having things go a certain way is the cause of our suffering and, as a nation, this mindset is unfortunately condoned, is very contagious, and results in devastating outcomes such as an epidemic of unresolved conflicts that sometimes end in violence or, at best, in such unnecessary unresolved misunderstandings, bitterness, and resentment between one another – all of which closes us off to the love in our hearts and the possibility of living our dreams. It comes down to the tried and true, “would you rather be right or happy?”.

Ironically, this is a fantastic time for us to become even more generous and giving with whatever we have – to ourselves, first and foremost (we really are our own worst enemy), and with everyone we come into contact with, regardless of how others are treating us. This is a great time for each of us to let go of any self-centeredness and thoughtlessness we have and get busy being who we were bornto be, but who many of us have forgotten. Now is a great time to remember and reconnect with our authentic selves – that person we left behind years ago because we thought we had to become something different in order to be liked, to be successful, or to be accepted and to “fit in”.

DO try this at home (or anywhere!):

1. Try saying YES to unconditionally accepting everything that is happening in your life today – see it all as a gift from the universe, rather than as an “interruption” of your life. By doing this, you are saying “yes” to the abundance of love, to change (yes, to change – bring it on!), to connecting to the flow of “life on life’s terms”. Say yes to being true to yourself –  every morning, ask your heart what is it that you need to know in order to live a fulfilling life, listen to what it says, and then have the courage to follow it.

Say yes to trusting the process of all of life and to opening your heart – more than you thought possible; not waiting to do this when you start getting what you want, do it now, instead of waiting to open yourself up once the job market changes, once your co-worker stops annoying you, once your children start obeying you, once your business partner starts respecting you, once your significant other starts listening to you – choose love and understanding now and allow for all of life to flow through you and watch as everything you need, in all areas of your life, comes to you.

2. Say NO to blaming others for your misfortunes, to complaining, to judging others, to angrily finger-pointing, to getting others to agree with your “stories” – you know the ones – your golden oldies that keep you and those who will listen to your continual tale of woes of how right you always are and how wrong everyone else is – for those of you who are doing this, please note that you are still not getting what you want, plus you’re still the victim in this story, wishing things were different, asking “why me?”, and  wondering why you don’t have what you want. This is a great time to let go of  judging and blaming others because it doesn’t get you want you want. It only disempowers us more and takes us further from having the wonderful life that we all want and are meant to live – a life filled with love, joy, abundance, connection, and intimacy with others.

How you know whether you are successful at saying yes and no to the right things  is very simple: when you feel good, you are doing the above and, when you feel bad, you’re not.

That said, it is important to distinguish between the initial instant gratification (the “high”) that we get from blaming, rationalizing, and justifying – the euphoria quickly passes and we are, once again, left feeling empty inside, self-hating, confused by why it didn’t last, and feeling even more victimized…and then back to the blaming we go – a vicious cycle that brings us more suffering and even further from what we want.

This is a time to get humble and honest with yourself because when we are honoring the truth of the matter, although we may initially feel the discomfort of becoming aware of, and admitting to an old, comfy habit, the discomfort eventually transforms into a deep feeling of peace and ease and a grounded sense of satisfaction, with ourselves and the world – and that’s what it’s all about!

Do this for a week and email me what you notice. And, don’t forget to have FUN while doing it!

In the words of one of my personal heroes who did not back down from his stand for peace in the midst of a hostile national political climate:

“Yeah, we all shine on, like the moon and the stars, and the sun, yeah, we all shine on, on and on…” ~John Lennon

Shine on!!

With Love,