Monday, June 20, 2011

Huzzah and Aha Moments

I have a sneaky ploy I practice with my two and three-year-old granddaughters. I dislike picking up puzzle pieces and I don’t like to harass them into orderly behavior, so we make a game of it. After we connect the cards of the Match Game, we take each piece and put it back in the box through a little slot on the top of the box. As we insert each bit we give an enthusiastic “huzzah!” There are probably 50 pieces so we say a lot of huzzahs.

This weekend I had a similar experience on an adult level. I attended a three-day transformational life coaching workshop at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe. Instead of “huzzah” I found myself experiencing a lot of “aha!” moments that gave birth to new insights into my life, soul and journey.

The purpose of a life coach is to use an open, non judgmental and spiritual approach to help the client tap into their own inner wisdom. The intent is not to fix or judge, or even tell the person what to do. This is the opposite of what I thought a coach did. When my public relations firm was in its infancy I worked with a business coach to increase my client base. It was helpful, but I did not develop anything transformational – personal or professional. I learned a few tips about which places would be good sources for new clients. I’m sure I learned other things too, but I can’t remember.

In retrospect, the “broken entrepreneur” approach did not address the core of who I was or what I wanted to do and be. It is no wonder that the sessions provided limited value. However, the Life Coach Workshop at SWINA helped me identify and work with my core values. Life Coaches help their clients in the same way. There are more components to the workshop than this, but that is the nugget I want to share with you today. I encourage you to visit the school’s website at to learn more.

Whether it is in my professional capacity as an author or a public relations expert, I spend a lot of time behind a computer. This is ironic because I am a social animal who enjoys the company of others. However, I do need a certain amount of “alone time” to generate ideas, get my work accomplished and relax. I’m pretty empathetic, so I do have to be careful to not absorb the energy and emotions of others. That is probably one of the reasons my friend and co-author, Jackie, penned our self-improvement book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

There is a lot of negativity in the world. Unfortunately it can gnaw on a person’s soul like a cancer. If it were self-contained it would be malicious enough. However, it is also like a contagious disease and can easily spread and infect others.

One of the discoveries I made this weekend is one of my core values is to “be of service.” I believe my life’s purpose is to help others. I embrace this approach in my public relations business, but I also feel a strong compulsion to spread the word about erasing negativity.

I don’t want to sound self righteous. Battling negativity is something I address every day. I am optimistic, but that doesn’t mean my life is without obstacles, problems or the occasional (albeit brief) lapse into pessimistic thoughts, speech and actions.

A personal analogy is my teeth. My mother grew up very poor. One day a woman came to their elementary school and talked about the importance of brushing their teeth. My mom came home and announced to her mother that she needed a tooth brush. My grandmother was sympathetic, but they barely had enough money for food, and a toothbrush was a luxury they could not afford. Eventually my mother got a job and bought herself a toothbrush for herself and the other members of her family.

Unfortunately, tooth decay is a progressive disease, and while she was able to prevent further decay, a lot of damage had already been done. Mom suffered with dental issues the rest of her life. However, after she married and had children of her own, she made sure we went to the dentist for annual cleanings. She was mild mannered about a lot of things, but when it came to brushing our teeth she was like the Gestapo. The result is all of my siblings and I have beautiful choppers. We may feel crabby from time to time, but there is no physical reason that we cannot show off our pearly whites. Our dentist, Dr. Duane Wirth (the son of Leo Wirth, the dentist we saw when we were children) always comments that the Marks have stellar teeth. Of course that comment elicits a smile as well.

I believe all of us could enjoy a happier life if we learned to recognize our negativity and take steps to reduce it. Defusing negativity is like brushing our teeth. It takes daily attention, but can become second nature with time.

All of us deserve a happy life. If you, or someone you care about, battles negativity, I hope you will consider reading or purchasing a copy of our book. Perhaps you may also want to work with a personal coach. There is nothing more exciting than experiencing an “aha” moment. Or, if you prefer, you can borrow my tactics with my granddaughters and shout “huzzah!” each time you erase negativity and replace it with a positive action.

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