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How to Succeed Through Acceptance

Photo by Antoine Robiez
Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings. ~Arthur Rubinstein

I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to figure out what I should do next, determining where I stand in relation to those around me, creating a harsh comparison between where I am and where I should be.

In these moments of contemplation, I’ve always found a way to diminish the beauty of where I stand today. What is out there always seems a little brighter, a little more impressive than what already surrounds me.

And this way of thinking and interacting with the world plants the belief that action is king — action is the only way to change and change is the only way from point A to point B.

But what if you’re supposed to stay at point A for a little while?

How to Be More Confident

Photo by Lauren Hammond
When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things. ~Joe Namath

I was so far outside of my comfort zone it was hard to believe I even had one. I thought just turning up to my first Toastmasters International meeting was the hard bit.

I was wrong. I realized all of the things I had read about being confident and fun around new people was about to be put to the test …

I used to wish I could stroll into a new social situation and feel completely comfortable. I wanted to be able to talk with new people, share my ideas and opinions with an open heart. I wanted my new acquaintances to love my openness, and I wanted to admire them for adding to the momentum of the conversation.

I longed for the day every new interaction would begin like this, and everyone in the room would be drawn to my humor, confidence and insight like magnets. I wanted to leave these new situations filled with excitement because I shared myself openly; I remained true to myself and, most importantly, had fun.

Want to Succeed? Let Go

Photo by Cyril Lookin
By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning. ~Lao Tsu

When I joined my college improv comedy troupe during my freshman year at UPenn, I wasn’t the only newly inducted member in the group. Another guy named Pete came on board with me.

Pete and I were total opposites. Right before a show I was a ball of nervous energy, while Pete was super cool and relaxed.

I worked hard in practice, memorizing the rules of each game and studying what worked and what didn’t, while Pete — always on cruise control — seemed to just wander into practice and wing it.

I didn’t like Pete at first. I didn’t think he was a good performer and didn’t trust him in scenes. He would say something totally random that no one else was prepared for, and the scene would suddenly turn in a completely different direction.

There was just one thing though — Pete was funny. Real funny.

Stop Limiting Yourself & Start Living

Photo by Tyello
The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible. ~Arthur C. Clarke

It’s said that there’s a common, first-year art major exercise where the teacher divides students into two groups and gives each group a different assignment.

The first group must study how to throw a perfect pot on a potter’s wheel and spend one week perfecting the process so as to get the proportions just right.

They are to create one pot and refine as they go, in pursuit of creating one perfect final work. In essence, they are to create systemically, according to a system or plan.

The second group’s assignment is to simply throw a lot of clay on the potter’s wheel, making multitudes upon multitudes of pots.

At the end of the week they are to choose which one is best, of the many they have created. In essence, they are to create “prolifically,” or in abundance.

At the end of the week, the art teacher assesses their work. Guess which group tends to turn out better work?

The group that creates prolifically. Guess which group has more fun?

The group that creates prolifically.

4 Questions to Help You Find Your Passion

Photo by Daran Kandasamy
It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live. ~Mae Jemison

I woke up earlier than usual and stayed in bed with the sheet pulled up to my chest thinking. How is it that I’ve come to live someone else’s life? The apartment was quiet. Early mornings were the perfect time to think.

As a child, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to take pictures of nature and write magical stories. As an adult, those dreams became distant.

I listened to the cacophony of voices around me, and they all knew what I should want. They all knew what I needed to do: go to college, get a stable job, get married, buy a house, have children, work hard until retirement …

I’d listened to everyone else and tried to contort myself to fit into a mold that just wasn’t right for me, leaving a string of abandoned jobs in my wake, each less suited for me than the last. The only joy I found in the nine-to-five grind was handing in my resignation notice.

5 Ways to Fail Successfully

Photo by Robert Bejil
If you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something … Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes next year and forever. ~Neil Gaiman

There’s a story about a ceramics teacher who, at the beginning of the quarter, divided his class up into two groups. The first group was told that their grade would be based solely on the quantity of their work and the second group, on quality.

At the end of the quarter, contrary to what one would think, it was the first group that received the higher marks. Why? Because every day they churned out pot after pot, trying out new things and quickly learning from their mistakes.

6 Tips to Be More Confident

Photo by Maxi Adrian San Agustin
Charisma is the fragrance of soul. ~Toba Beta

Have you ever wondered why some people exude charisma while others just seem to be so plain?

We all know people who seem to have that special something that makes them stand out. They walk into the room and you can immediately sense that they operate on a completely different level than most other people.

In case you are wondering, the word charisma comes from the Greek language and it means a gift from the Gods/the Divine.

Based on the definition, you might think that charisma is something that only a select few will be able to possess. However, just as the elusive concept of luck, charisma is a trait that we all can develop.

How to Live Your Dream

Photo by kris krüg
Sometimes a leap of faith is the only available transportation. ~Margaret Shepherd

The wind kicked up the desert sands behind me as I leaned forward, cautiously looking over the edge. The fissure had no visible bottom. On the other side, just a few feet away, the trees beckoned invitingly, promising water, promising shade.

There was nothing for me to go back to; if I wanted to go forward at all, I was going to have to jump. My heart ached to advance, but my knotted stomach held me back.

What if I can’t jump that far? What if I fall? What if it’s even worse over there on the other side?

OK, perhaps I’m being a little dramatic; I wasn’t literally standing in a desert. Or technically even jumping over anything. But the fear was completely real.

6 Steps to Accomplish Anything

Photo by TranXuanLoc
Because this business of becoming conscious is ultimately about asking yourself, 'How alive am I willing to be?' ~Anne Lamott

Last year I wrote about a goal-less New Year: Beginning from a place within that allows you to open more in 2013 — to use less fervent goal-seeking willpower and more awareness when placing intentions.

This is a practical piece on how to intentionally move from this place of willingness, once you’re attuned to that inner self.

Eighteen months ago, I couldn’t sit still in meditation for more than a few minutes. I became either anxious and antsy or really sleepy after several minutes of stillness.

Three years ago, I couldn’t imagine life without chicken and fish. My diet was largely comprised of protein, protein, protein — in the form of animals.

Four years ago, I couldn’t run more than 6 miles. Beyond 6 miles felt like the furthest distance.

Five years ago, I was petrified to start my own real estate business. I was comfortable with being an employee, and starting my own business seemed risky.

How to Make Your Dream a Reality

Photo by Gala Darling
There are seven days in a week, and Someday isn’t one of them.

To me, these two seemingly innocuous words, “some” and “day,” when put together are the most empty and depressing seven letters in our language.

They are a synonym for “never” and “ain’t going to happen.” They are the lie we tell ourselves for a dream that we will never ever, in our lifetime, accomplish. It is belied in the tone of voice — faithless and empty — this combo of words usually parenthesized by a pair of audible sighs.

Sigh, “Someday I’m going to …” Sigh.

Once again we have deceived and cheated ourselves. Whatever happened to carpe diem? Seize the day? Yesterday I was reminded again of the danger of someday.

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