Category: Blog

Life Beyond Labels

Bust through Barriers, Move Past Mediocrity, and Embrace Your Creativity as a Result!

Beyond the pandemic that has affected us across the globe externally, there is an equally insidious epidemic that has happened to many of us internally that is not widely discussed but which can be just as crippling – and for far more than a couple of years; for many of us it’s something that if not addressed consciously and mindfully can affect us for our whole life.

I’m talking about the impact of imprinting and conditioning that starts when we’re small and builds over time. Simply put, the effect of others labeling us – and ultimately labeling ourselves – without regard to the often crippling consequences.

No Surgeon General’s Warning

You know how on packs of cigarettes there used to be a warning about how smoking cigarettes could be harmful to your health (duh!)? Well, unfortunately, there’s no such warning about the impact of imposing (nearly always false!) labels on others and ourselves – I wish there were!

Did anyone ever tell you that you weren’t good enough at something? Or that you’d never amount to anything? Or that you weren’t smart enough? Or that you weren’t creative? That kind of labeling starts when we’re young, and it can leave a lasting, lingering imprint if we don’t address it. By contrast, when we have parents, relatives and teachers who encourage our individual gifts and talents, we’re far more likely to thrive – in school, at work and in life!

An avid reader as a child (and something of a loner inherently), I was told I wasn’t good at sports and should stay focused on my intellectual side. As a result, I never engaged in team sports and didn’t pursue athletics in any way other than as an observer. No surprise, when people were chosen for sports teams in school, I was always among the last to be picked.

Though my mom encouraged my sister and me to engage in arts and crafts. Though I actually won awards for my projects, my sister was dubbed “the artistic one,” and me “the intellectual.”

When John Lennon was five, at school his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wrote down “Happy.” She told him he didn’t understand the assignment, and he told her that she didn’t understand life. Wise beyond his years even then at five years old!

More recently my friend rocker Paul Stanley of KISS recently observed something similar. A mother tweeted how her six-year-old daughter painted an amazing scene in an after-school art club and the art teacher told her she’d done it wrong. She was so upset as art was her favorite thing to do. Paul was mortified. He responded to the child through her mother, “your art is AWESOME!! There is no such thing as doing art ‘wrong.’ There are only teachers who are wrong! Keep doing exactly what you’re doing; I LOVE it!”

How about you? What labels have you carried throughout your life, and how have they impacted how you saw and interacted with the world in terms of barriers or constraints?

Busting Through (Usually False) Labels Is Liberating

As a result of growing up and living these false labels, we adopt belief systems about who we are and what we are and aren’t capable of. And we diminish our capabilities, hold ourselves back, and limit our life circumstances – all because of things others said that we took on as being true about us.

When you realize that you are not the labels others have imposed on you, you can free yourself to take back your power and choose to see yourself differently. When you see that those were just belief systems that no longer serve you (and never did – and weren’t even true!), you are free to take on whatever is calling to you to be and do now.

For example, you’re being led to take up painting (maybe for the first time ever) – but you’ve held that you weren’t creative all your life – try taking a class and dabbling in it; wade in and prove that in fact that believe was a lie.

One highly effective tool to begin breaking loose these old beliefs and thought patterns about ourselves is to question the truth about them. Byron Katie is an author and speaker who teaches a method of self-inquiry known as “The Work” (and has published books and courses on this approach). Effectively it encourages us with four powerful but simple questions to address stressful beliefs, anxieties, and assumptions that may have held us in their grip for years and gently moves us to self-evaluate whether these are really true – and to re-frame new possibilities that are likely to be more positive and freeing allowing us to move forward in our lives with peace and ease.

What Might Be Possible if You Embrace the Label of “Creator” (Get Curious)

A colleague of mine, Steve Chandler, is an inspiring coach and author. One of my favorite books of his addresses this topic head-on – and it’s simply called “Creator” (I highly recommend it).

Can you see how powerful it can be to make some time for introspection to consider where you may have held yourself back by living old beliefs, labels, and limitations that others (or you yourself) have imposed on you that have resulted in you playing small or holding yourself back in life? Can you also see the promise and potential in terms of what’s possible in your life when you shift out of those debilitating mindsets?

I hope you’ll make the time and effort to get curious, take a closer look and evaluate this for yourself. You owe it to yourself and to those you love to take the reins of your life, embrace the truth about your gifts and talents and who you really are, and plot a truly empowered course from here forward. I’d love to hear what you learn. Reach out to me if you want more support with this or just want to share your insights.

Forget Your Troubles, Come On Get Happy

Over the past year, since the pandemic and subsequent shut-downs have up-ended our world, there have been many things to worry about (legitimately). That said worrying is most often a complete waste of time and energy. It doesn’t solve the issues we’re faced with. Clear thinking and focused action solve problems. Worry and anxiety simply mask our thinking (like a Band-Aid) and drain us of vital energy when we could be applying our minds towards tangible solutions. Here are a few tips to support you in reducing your worries and embracing your life.

Take a Closer Look

The next time anxiety strikes and you feel overwhelmed or paralyzed, the best thing to do is to slow down and pause to stop the monkey mind that goes on in your brain. With just a brief break in the action and a deep breath, you can regain your composure, reflect on the situation objectively, and identify possible options to address it. You can reach out for support from trusted others around you as desired to provide you with much-needed perspective and insights.

From there, map out your worry about the situation in detail—and jot down at least three alternate courses of action you could take to address it. Options demonstrate there are several ways you can look at what’s going on, that you have choices, they can support your confidence, and provide you with the realization that you have more control over the situation than you first thought. It’s all about how you react.

By giving yourself a temporary pause, writing down and reflecting on the cause of your anxiety, you gain emotional distance. From there you can more objectively evaluate your options and which one feels like the best course of action in the moment. The more action you take, the more your worries fade away and the better your feel.

Accept the Worst-Case Scenario

When you break down your fears and get to the essence of what’s creating your anxiety, you come to the worst-case scenario around a given situation. At that point, you can see whether you could accept that scenario (the answer is usually yes if you get creative with options), and you can also evaluate objectively the likelihood of that worst-case outcome really taking place. Most often the reality is that it won’t happen, and if it did, that you’d be equipped to handle it.

For example, let’s say that you or your spouse gets laid off from your job unexpectedly. That’s a big fear that many people have! Typically either you have some emergency savings set aside in a rainy day fund and/or you’ll have some form of severance (and unemployment pay) and/or one of you is still bringing in an income.

Reducing your spending while the person out of work seeks a new job is often quite helpful—and you find that you may have been overspending on things that you didn’t really need to, which in itself can lead to better habits moving forward. You probably wouldn’t lose your house, and if you did then what? You may be able to move in with family or friends temporarily (or rent a place) until you got back on your feet financially. Would these be challenging options to have to deal with? Yes, but you would survive what undoubtedly would be a reasonably temporary situation. If you had to start over you could.

Knowing that you could survive your worst-case scenario provides you with a sense of calm, confidence, and peace of mind allowing you to take action and forge ahead.

Contain And Address Your Concerns

The best way to address your concerns (assuming they are valid versus your mind running amok) is to take focused action to move through them. When you can compartmentalize the situation at hand that’s got you in its grip, you can take the actions that are yours to take—and then get on with the rest of your life. Whatever’s causing the anxiety doesn’t need to paralyze you and your whole world as long as you’re taking productive steps toward resolving your concerns.

Again, this is where having a great support system and people in your inner circle that you can talk through options with can be instrumental in helping you get through trying times and unexpected challenges. They can support you emotionally and mentally to re-frame your reality, provide perspective, and often come up with creative options and solutions you may not have thought of in the heat of the moment when you’re too close to the situation at hand.

You’ve Got This

When something shakes up your world, give yourself the gift of a “time out” to pause, reflect and address the situation with calm, objectivity and support. That in itself should provide some much-needed relief. Keep breathing and keep the faith. When you trust yourself and come from a position of agency and composure knowing you can take care of virtually any situation (and manage your anxiety when it arises), you can often right the ship by identifying solutions and specific actions you can take to handle whatever is going on in your life. Remember that when you take care of today, tomorrow takes care of itself. No matter what, you’ve got this!

The Lost Art of Being HONORABLE

Doing Right By Ourselves and Others as a Mindful Practice

Many of us were raised with the edict of “The Golden Rule.” You remember that one, don’t you? Essentially “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It seems to me people used to treat each other with more kindness and respect, with an intent to honor their commitments to one another, and to lift each other up with an eye towards improving and enhancing each other’s lives. Was that some utopian vision of yore? I don’t think so. But in recent times it appears those social mores have gone by the boards to a certain extent – and I’m hoping that as conscious individuals many of us will do what we can to restore them in our daily rounds and interactions with others. Because to do so is a sign of embracing our humanity and empathy and is something we are in control of.

What it Means to be Honorable and Why it Matters

Another timeless saying in our society is “your word is your bond.” The implication is that we act with honor and integrity and that when we make a commitment to someone or something, we follow-through and do what we say we’re going to. People can count on us; we are accountable. And again, that seems to be something that is more the exception than the norm. We need to be able to count on each other in life and in business; it’s how we make our decisions about who to be in a relationship with – in our choices of partners, friends, and in our business colleagues, bosses and the businesses and organizations we choose to engage with.

When people behave honorably and honor their word, that’s when trust develops. Without it, at best we become cynical and operate at arm’s length with others – and life can become a long slow trod through enemy territory where we have to be on our guard at every corner.

By contrast, when we engage with people who are honorable (and we are ourselves), we can relax and be our authentic selves, do our best work, and have an impact in creating the type of society and communities we choose to live in, a world where we have each others’ backs, and where we can count on each others’ support. That’s the type of role model we seek to create as an influence on our children and future generations. In this orientation, we can truly thrive.

How Being Honorable Makes a Difference for Ourselves and Others

There are many facets of how this looks and plays out – many examples beyond what we can cover in this brief article. One is transparency in business. Are we authentic and straightforward with our partners, colleagues, clients and shareholders in good times and bad, even when things have gone awry? Another is practicing kindness to others. Instead of bemoaning that a homeless person comes into an outdoor dining area with their shopping cart and sits among you and your fellow diners – do you chastise them and wish they would leave, or do you pick up the tab for their meal realizing one act of kindness can have a ripple effect to relieve someone’s misery and an otherwise challenging existence? And of course, there is being honorable to yourself. When you make a commitment to improve your own health and well-being, do you do what you said you were going to do in terms of regular exercise, eating healthy food, and practicing other self-care habits that can get you there, or do you succumb to self-sabotaging habits that contributed to the state you’re in that you’re seeking to shift out of? These are all things that can not only improve our own condition and that of our society (one act and mindful commitment at a time) – but that have a ripple effect on those we engage with. And the best news is that we’re in full control of behaving honorably many times in a given day.

Ideas to Improve Being Honorable as Part of a Mindful Practice

*When you make a commitment to yourself and others, show up and take action, and do what you said you would do (simple as that). If you can’t or you’ve changed your mind, choose again, recommit to your new direction, and let others know what they CAN count on you for.

*Be authentic and transparent – that’s honoring in and of itself. If a mistake gets made or circumstances change and you can’t honor your original intention – let those around you know, take ownership and responsibility, and share what you are willing to do from here forward. Don’t disappear, “ghost” others, and retreat – that’s cowardly and makes problems worse.

*Adopt a mindset of kindness and do what you can to support the well- being and success of others when you can. It can be simple gestures like smiling and waving at others, lending an ear or a shoulder to someone who’s having a challenging time, or something more complex like making a referral or writing a check when you can that has the potential to make a real difference in someone’s life. You’re literally investing in someone else’s success and paying it forward. What would life be like if more of us chose to behave this way on an ongoing basis?

We don’t have control of a lot in this complex world – especially in times of challenge and chaos as we’ve been enduring with the pandemic and other global circumstances of late, but we DO have control over how we treat ourselves, and how we interact with others – which with daily practice and intent can have a ripple effect in creating the type of society and world we choose to inhabit. What are you doing to practice being honorable? I’d really be interested to know.

The Magic of Asking for What You Want

Do you believe you can have virtually anything you want? I do.

We all have a magic wand that can help us achieve our desires, but we forget that we do and overlook the power at our disposal to dramatically increase the odds of having what we say we most want in our lives. We simply need to make requests of others and ASK for what we want. That’s the big secret and the big opportunity.

I’m often asked about my experience in having Steve Jobs as a mentor for many years — and how that came about. We both grew up in the same town (Cupertino, CA) in what would become known as Silicon Valley; Steve was seven years older than I. When I was in high school, I was a member of a group called Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and we were challenged with approaching someone in business who we admired to ask if they’d be open to mentoring us. I chose Steve because I saw his genius early on (even at my young age) and was fascinated by Apple as the Wonka factory in my own backyard. I approached him at one of a couple of favorite healthy restaurants in town that I’d see him at periodically when I went out with my Mom.

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Client Spotlight: MultiView Media

I’m excited to share that one of the start-ups I’ve been working with over the past couple of years, Multiview Media, led by founder/CEO Ray Meadham has launched our multi-camera angle streaming platform. Verizon Media invited us to be one of their spotlight partners a few weeks ago at CES (including a mention by the CEO during his address), and this past weekend we powered a 3-day online fest with one of our partners — JBTV, the long-running music television program aimed at breaking new acts. JBTV provided historic content from its extensive archives and Multiview Media provided its OTT platform to deliver this content at home or via smartphone or tablet – all in a new and interactive way. Featured artists among the two dozen or so during the recent 3-day JBTV Virtual Fest included: Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons, BTS, Honne, The Struts, Smashing Pumpkins, Gary Numan, Filter, Portugal the Man, Yungblud, Charli XCX — and others, many of whom played for JBTV early in their careers. Some of the performance footage was pretty rare as a result.

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Bringing Much Needed Joy to the World

I’m a member of the Thought Council of the C-Suite Network run by Jeffrey Hayzlett, a highly sought after speaker, author, thought leader & the former CMO of Kodak.  A bright light emerged in a recent Zoom session from an inspiring woman named Sheryl Lynn who shared her vision of sparking more joy in the world.  This is her passion and purpose and it’s infectious — so much so that I’ve signed on as an ambassador of her organization to help make cultivating and expressing more joy a global movement. Read More ▼

Client Spotlight: AmplifyX

A trend that’s been growing over the past couple of years is one of investing in music and art as alternative asset classes for diversification in one’s portfolio – alongside other established categories like fine wines, rare automobiles, exotic watches, precious metals, and real estate. It seems stressful economic times often underscore the appeal of alternative assets like these. There’s a reason for this influx of late: music royalties and intellectual property (IP) have become desirable investment targets given royalty payments often remain steady over time despite fluctuations in the stock market. For buyers, artists’ catalogs are commodities that can be traded like gold or oil. “If the investment is good, if you’re investing in proven back catalogs, they tend to perform really well independent of any stock movements,” music business writer Cherie Hu. “If you’re investing in a tech stock, a lot of the bigger tech stocks move in the same direction a lot of the time. Investing in music royalties escapes that co-dependence. It’s pure passive income. You’ll make money in your sleep from it. It doesn’t require any proactiveness.” While it may seem odd to think of songs as investment assets, Goldman Sachs has predicted music revenues will more than double to about $131B by 2030 so putting money in songs could prove a pretty wise strategy to diversify a stock portfolio. Read More ▼

Unintended Casualties of the Pandemic

There have certainly been many casualties during the pandemic — loss of life, loss of jobs, and so much more. But small business providers and communities have also been directly impacted by the loss of many vital stores, restaurants, and of service providers. In my own community, I had a favorite restaurant that I frequented several times a week over the past 25 years (kind of like my Cheers) called Hobees. It did not survive. …

Client Spotlight: JEENI

I’ve decided that I’m going to write blogs periodically about some of the cool clients I’m fortunate enough to work with. One of them is a UK-based venture called JEENI run by long-time client, colleague and friend — Mel Croucher; a legend in the UK games industry. Simply put, JEENI is a multi-channel streaming service for independent musicians and performers, providing a unique showcase to put undiscovered talent in front of a global audience. JEENI artists get to keep 100% of everything they earn from the sale of their music and merchandise. JEENI audiences are given the power to vote, donate and be rewarded too. …

Same Old Story — Different Era

There has been so much turbulence and upheaval of late, certainly catalyzed by the global pandemic and the resulting consequences with layoffs and unemployment, uncertainty around a timeframe when we can operate freely in the world again, and the lack of leadership and political climate (at least in the U.S.). However, things have really heated up in the past few months with racial issues and hate crimes, and the resulting protest marches, looting and overall anger, frustration and outrage. …

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