Monday, June 28, 2010

The Real Secret

If you’ve been following me online and in life you’ve probably noticed that I always make a sincere effort to keep things positive. You may have also noticed how I spend a lot of time doing things that I truly enjoy and believe in. The truth of the matter is that I really love my life. Do you want to know the secret to my joy? The answer is simple…I’ve never stopped believing in miracles. I’ve never stopped believing in the impossible. It’s that amazing gift that children have that adults often leave behind…After all these years, I’ve kept mine.

Lately, I’ve been reveling all up in that gift. I feel like a pre-pubescent pre-teen without the peer pressure and pimples.

I possess a renewed spirit of joy and zest for life…not afraid to try new things and never too busy to make time for play.

If you have young children, nieces or nephews, or students you know that one of their main goals is to be entertained at all times. Whenever I plan to spend time with my six year old nephew, Lil’ Ron, I ask him what he’d like to do. His answer is always consistent. “I want to go to the toy store.” He is focused on that goal. His answer never changes.

When I’m just coming over for a visit he is certain that I came for a specific reason…not to spend time with my brother or my mother, or to just get away from the city and relax at their place…No. He is confident that I came to visit solely to play with him. He knows what he wants. He knows what brings him joy. He pursues it relentlessly….and guess what? We almost always give in and let him have his way!

Imagine if we all applied that childlike passion to that thing that we love…toward our purpose. Imagine yourself truly believing in miracles and the impossible when it comes to that business that you run or have always wanted to start. Imagine yourself relentlessly pursuing that project, that goal, your education or your ministry. There are several lessons to be learned here.

1. Know where you want to go. - If you called my nephew right this moment and asked him where he wanted to go, I guarantee that he’d say, “The Toy Store”. Know where it is that you want to go. Have a clear vision, remain focused on it and never give up on that until you get it. Be confident, consistent and unafraid to let those who may want to help you get there know how they can be of assistance.

2. Know what you want to do. – One of my favorite quotes says, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” This is what often happens when we don’t know what we want to do. It’s perfectly fine to try out many things, but eventually we must make up our mind about what it is that we want to do. If we flip flop all of the time, or spread ourselves too thin, nothing will get the attention that it deserves. Now that you’ve identified where you want to go, make sure you know what you want to do to get there.

3. Know what you love. – As life happens we have a tendency to forget or abandon what we love. I also often see people get so wrapped up in the lives of the people that they care for that they take on the things that that person loves as their own. I remember times in life where I’ve had to stop and say, “What a minute, what’s my favorite color? What’s my favorite food? What do I enjoy doing? What do I love?” When we know what we love, we often make it a priority to do what we have to in order to keep that person, place or thing at the forefront of our lives. Once we do that, joy follows.

4. Know what you’ve got. – This one may seem a little shallow compared to others, but trust me…it’s the stone cold truth. Know what you’ve got…and work it! My nephew knows that he is super cute. He has the look, the squeaky little voice, the sense of humor, and the personality and you best believe that he uses every bit of it to his advantage. He knows what makes us laugh or smile. He pays attention to what makes us react. He takes note of the things that don’t work and he stops doing them. Take a moment to take inventory of what you’ve got. It may be a natural charm, a heartwarming smile, quick wit, creativity or a knack for fashion…whatever the case may be…Know it…Own it…and Work it!

Once you’ve identified all of these things, use them to pursue your goals relentlessly! Think back and tap into your inner child. Once you’ve done that, let your imagination, creativity, passion for play and fearlessness guide you on the path to joy and the realization of your dreams.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Passenger's Seat

I often take long road trips to literary events or to visit book clubs in other cities around the United States, so it may come as a surprise to you that I AM NOT a big fan of driving.  As the hours go by I find myself saying, “I really wish that I was in the passenger seat.”

When it comes to life, work and relationships we often try to dictate, manipulate and control our destiny.  This may just sound like a person is being ambitious or a go getter, but is it actually a lack of faith?  We always say that people should “make it happen” but in doing that are we short changing the true possibilities of what we could have if we allowed ourselves to be led?
Think about a sports team.  Every team has a captain.  In order to be a captain one must be a strong leader. ..BUT every captain has a coach. 

Don’t get me wrong…it is great to be driven….but that has a duel meaning.  Think about it.  If you are a driven person then you set goals, get things done, have a vision, you’re a go getter, etc…BUT if you are driven, or being driven…then that means there is a driver. So once again, you are in the passenger’s seat.

Now let’s look at it in terms of love and relationships…I may get a little personal or controversial here depending on your view point situation but keep in mind that these are just my thoughts and opinions.

I’m all about girl power and being an independent woman and everything but there is nothing like getting all dolled up and having a man pick me up for a date.  When I have to pick up a man, all of the time, I find myself feeling cheated or frustrated.  I understand that everyone falls upon hard times, and not everyone chooses to have a car, but that is another one of those times where I find myself saying, “I just want to be in the passenger’s seat.”

So you see, the passenger’s seat is not at all a bad thing, it is actually a metaphor for so much more. 

In a marriage it symbolizes how a man should be able to lead his wife and family.  In business and life it represents how although we should still put in the work, we should exercise our faith, let go of the wheel and trust that God has the power to lead us farther than we can ever take ourselves.

I still have so much more to say on this subject, but for now…let that marinate, then let go and let yourself be led by faith and by the One that is far more qualified and capable than you to steer your life in the right direction…Get in the passenger’s seat.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Your Gift Will Make Room for You

A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. –Proverbs 18:16

After you read this sentence I want you to close your eyes and take a moment to think about that thing that you are certain is your God given gift. Have you identified it? Is it speaking? Writing? Cooking? Advocating for those that cannot advocate for themselves? Educating the masses about a particular issue that needs increased awareness? Now ask yourself, are you using that gift?

Our gifts are not even about us, they actually have the purpose of blessing others, but God is really generous because when we are operating in our gifts we experience a feeling of true bliss. Think about it. Think about the feelings and sensations that you have when you are doing what you know that you have been called to do.

Author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes this as a concept that he calls “Flow” which is defined as, “An experience involving heightened states of awareness, confidence, and performance…Total engagement—you lose yourself in an activity.” This happens because we are engaging in something that taps into our intrinsic motivation which means that we don’t need any external stimulus or reward in order to do this thing. If no one ever told us that we were doing a great job, if no one ever gave us a grade of A, if we never got paid, we could still wake up and do this thing every morning for the rest of our lives and it would bring us joy. So we experience just as much of a benefit if not more as those whose lives we are making a difference in.

If the benefits of our gifts are so vast…then why aren’t more people using them? I’d say that the number one reason is fear. This is interesting though, because a lot of you say that you have faith…but faith and fear cannot co-exist. There has to be one or the other. We make excuse after excuse as to why we can’t do what we know we are supposed to be doing right now. Money, time, our families…the list goes on and on. But did you know that your gift will make room for you? That in itself should be motivation enough to take the leap, but to even further support that, your gift will also give you access to the great. Let me break that down in terms of my experience…

One day it became crystal clear to me that my gift was to encourage others and help them to realize their dreams using my writing and speaking. As soon as I fully immersed myself in that gift, door after door began to open. It is to the point where it feels as if my path is clear and barrier free…I don’t even have to knock anymore because people of high esteem (“The great”) are waiting at the open doors saying, “Hey Monica…come on in!” I am at a point where I have to turn down opportunities because I can only do so much at one time. I’m not trying to brag, but do you know that I have never truly had to look for a job? There was really only one time. When I graduated from graduate school at the University of Michigan with a resume full of credentials and experience I couldn’t seem to find a “job” to save my life. It was at that time that I finally sat down to write my first book. It was a blessing in disguise because if I’d had a job lined up, I never would have sat down to begin putting in the work to prepare to share my gift with the world. Do you see how God works? Ever form of income that I have received since then has come in the form of a job, contract, or opportunity that someone specifically sought me out for and offered to me.

You may still not be convinced because you think you don’t have the time. You might be working toward a certain goal that is time specific and you think that stopping what you are doing to operate in your gift may get in the way. Well let me tell you, based on my experience that If you truly have faith, like you say you do, trust that not only will your gift make a way for you but it will also expedite matters.

As you can see, I could talk about this forever, but I am going to stop here to let what I’ve said marinate. My challenge to you is to stop trying to dictate everything in your life, get in The Passenger’s Seat (This is a teaser for the next motivational message) and let God and your gift lead you. Then sit back and watch how it will make room for you and put you in the presence of the great!

A gift opens doors; it gives access to the great. –Proverbs 18:16

Monday, June 7, 2010

Everything Happens for a Reason

 I’m sitting here at the Detroit Metro Airport after having missed my early morning flight to Rochester , New York.   In the past I might have cried or been frustrated to the point of making myself physically sick.  Now I sit here just as calm and cool as a cat because of something my mother always told me…”Everything happens for a reason.”

I called my Mom to let her know that I’d missed my flight and after about 37 seconds of sympathy she said, “What happened to last week’s Monday Morning Motivation? Why didn’t I get it? Did this new anti-virus software remove it from my computer?”  I had to smile. I didn’t do a Monday Morning Motivation last week because of the holiday and it wasn’t looking like I was going to be able to do one today either because of the early travel and business that I need to prepare for.  Well wouldn’t you know, I guess God had different plans for me today.  Perhaps I missed that flight just so I could get this out to you.

I strongly believe that when something is placed on your heart, you must get it out, because you never know who’s watching and who needs to hear, feel or see your message.  Just a few days ago I got a message from a young lady out of the blue.  She wanted to let me know that she’d read my first book, “The Ups and Downs of Being Round” and that it inspired her to lose over 100 pounds!  I was so excited to be able to touch and in some ways save a person’s life in such a way.  It speaks to a motivational message that I wrote in the past based upon a quote by a dear friend.  In short, when we don’t operate in our gifts, people could be dying.  I know that sounds harsh, but most of us know what we are supposed to be doing, and when we do operate in that purpose, we save lives. (I’ll speak more on this in my next motivational message because I’ve already been inspired with it.)

Sometimes when seemingly bad things happen, we get angry or upset, but we must keep in mind that everything happens for a reason.  Whatever has transpired may have saved us from something worse or be preparing us for something greater.  I wasn’t supposed to be on that flight this morning.  If I was, I’d be on it.  I trust that it happened for a very specific reason. So today, if something happens take a deep breath and know that there is a greater purpose behind it.   

So as I am sitting here trying to wrap up this message, a man that works here comes up to me and asks me how I like my mini net book computer.  I could have had an attitude, especially with the employees of the airline since I missed my flight because the attendant wasn’t at the gate 10 minutes before departure, then the plane pulled off earlier than scheduled.  He and I got to talking about what I do and he just gave me a huge valuable chunk of financial wisdom that I’ve been praying about.  Its official…today is going to be a great day.  No matter what happens, good or bad, know that it is for a reason and a purpose so just smile and keep the faith!