It’s Time to Take Action

What’s Stopping You From Being Magnificent?

Last week ago, a group of teenagers in Florida decided to take on the federal government, lawmakers – Republican and Democrats, alike – the judicial system, the President of the United States and the National Rifle Association.

It took courageous, pissed off high school students with little or no prior experience in activism or politics to be the ones who finally stood up and took action that’s already making a difference. They’re articulate, focused, and reasonable in their approach.

What will it take for you to move forward in your own life? Hopefully it’s not going to take a tragedy like these young people experienced to motivate you. But, there’s something you want to do that you’re not doing. There may be somewhere you want to go, or someone you want to get to know better. What’s stopping you?

It takes a great deal of strength, a great deal of power, to move on in the face of fear and uncertainty. Moving on to a new job, a new city, a new relationship or a new way of life is a big step. It can be a simple step to take, though not necessarily easy. It may be exactly what you want to do and know you must do. It may also be a step for which you have little or no support from the others closest to you.

At this time it’s as if we’re standing at the edge of the Olympic ice rink. We know we must step onto the ice, hear the applause, and do the particular sequence of twists, jumps, and turns we have practiced over and over again for years. Only this time, it’s the Olympics.

Our personal reputation as an athlete, our country’s pride, our family’s years of sacrifice, and perhaps our future in this profession is riding on the next three minutes. We can skate onto the ice, confident in our training, or we can turn, walk backstage, giving into the fear.

Fear is something to which most people give a lot of power. It appears that fear stops us from going forward. We allow it to paralyze us in our tracks. Fear, in and of itself, has no power. It only has as much power as we give it. Most of the time we not only give it the power, we steal power from other areas of our life and fuel the fear.

Change is necessary. Fear is one of the most powerful factors we allow to keep us from changing. Fear does not stop us. We allow fear to stop us. People fear change because even if the situation in which we find ourselves is far from ideal, at least it is familiar.

My Grandma Esther used to say that it was like being up to your neck in horse manure. Eventually you get used to the smell and at least it is warm. The warmth of even the worst relationship or difficult job is that it is familiar. That familiarity is a sense of comfort to us even though it seems to run contrary to any logic given the circumstances. Here is how Ernest Holmes defined fear in his book, The Science of Mind (1938, page 156):

Fear [is]… nothing more [or] less than the negative use of faith … faith misplaced.

Faith misplaced – we have faith that something is going to go wrong. With that attitude something probably will go wrong or we will make ourselves sick in the process. In cults, people are expected to believe what they are told to believe without any explanation and follow orders without question.

You don’t have to take the word of someone else. There are universal laws in place to support you. The universe is actually conspiring right now for the complete and perfect success of your desires. The only question is, what are you showing that you desire by the thoughts you concentrate on? Are you planning for success, or thinking of all the ways you’ll fail to achieve what you want.

We have freedom of choice, but not of consequence. Choose wisely.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
Excerpts from How to Find Your Vision and Get a Life! © 2014 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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Pick a Side!

Are You Your Labels?

How are you personally dealing with the polarization going on in the world? Have you noticed how if we are for one thing that we are often expected to be against something else?

There are those who still believe we live in a black/white, gay/straight, right/wrong, yes/no world. The world has never been that way, although the ideal does give one a false sense of security. It a sign of longing for a past that never really existed:  Play by the rules and you are guaranteed to succeed.

The problem with that thinking is nothing is guaranteed. The only constant in the universe is change. And, humans are a species of contradictions.

Being pro-life doesn’t necessarily mean one is totally against abortion in all cases. Being a feminist doesn’t mean one hates men. We love to categorize people for our convenience and may even be proud of the labels we’ve given ourselves. But social media and life in general in the twenty-first century have opened up our private lives to public record. If we are talking the talk, but not walking the way, eventually someone is going to call us out for it.

Conservative and liberals can embrace parts of the opposing ideology when it suits them. Several years ago one of the Popes lamented the “cafeteria Catholicism” practice by Americans – in other words, taking from the religion what works for them personally instead of embracing everything, comfortable or not. But such an approach to religion has been around since religion began; only we just talk more about it now.

We are frequently much different in our thinking and how we live our lives than what other people assume. It comes down to judgment, primarily judgment of others. However, it also speaks to how, when, and what we express on issues currently unfolding in our lives.

There is, however, a way around all of this:  Communication. By listening to understand, instead of listening only for the opportunity to criticize an opposing viewpoint, we open the door to dialog. We might even stand to learn something in the process, not only about an issue, but about ourselves as well.

Would you be willing, starting today, to put aside your preconceived notions the next time you hear something you immediately judge as outrageous, unbelievable, or distasteful? Could we all seek to understand more and criticize less?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

They Aren’t Going to Like This

Can You Stand Up to Criticism?

Are you feeling more like a leader in life? In my blog two weeks ago I opened a conversation that we ought to have with ourselves:  Am I willing to be a leader? How’s that going for you?

There’s a truly inspirational speaker who I very much enjoy hearing, particularly because he challenges me to be a better, stronger, and more focused leader. Seth Godin is a remarkable author and several books and champion of new ideas. This week I’m sharing a quote from his book, “Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us.”

So the challenge, as you contemplate your next opportunity to be boring or remarkable, is to answer these two questions:  “If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impact? Will I lose my job, get hit upside the head with a softball bat, or lose important friendships?” If the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing.

Leadership, like so many other qualities, begins within our own consciousness. We can’t be leaders in the world, in our communities, or in our families if we can’t lead ourselves. What does that look like?

It means that we must be willing to succeed. Does that sound like a no-brainer? It isn’t. Do you know why people fail at projects, ideas, and even relationships? It isn’t the fear of failure.

It’s the fear of success.

Why would we fear success? We fear success because it’s something that may have eluded us for years. We all know failure. We know what it feels like not to get ahead, to be single when we’d like to find a mate, to have a no-where job, or be unable to balance the checkbook. The enticement of failure is that it’s familiar. Our egos love the familiar because they know how to react from our history.

Change scares the crap out of our ego, even if it’s a good thing! Thomas Troward wrote that principle is not bound by precedent. In other words, just because something’s always worked out one way in the past doesn’t mean it has to be that way in the future. The criticism that Godin wrote about can come from within us as well as from others. It’s up to us to go for it, whatever “it” is, and be willing to accept the good that comes from our success.

Consider this week how you might be allowing actual, perceived, or expected criticism to stop you from leading the life you want. The universe will conspire for our good – but we have to open our consciousness to accept those blessings. Go for it!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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How DARE You Bring That Up!

A World Without Privacy

Have you ever posted a comment on social media, and then have it come back to bite you in the ass?

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt … and the bite marks, which in one case is still healing.

I’d be hard-pressed to think of anyone I know that, if asked, wouldn’t respond with a roll of the eyes, a very deep sigh, or by throwing their hands up in the air. It’s one thing to misspeak, or say something out of a brief moment of anger or upset directly to another person. It’s a completely different ballgame when what we say can literally fly around the world in a manner of minutes … or seconds.

I “friended” my mother on Facebook® some time ago – if you follow my personal or professional pages you’ve probably found her comments are quite “insightful” at times. She’s expressed horror at my swearing and once pretty much told everyone I was lying about something. (She understood later, however, that this wasn’t the case, although my perspective on the given topic and hers were miles apart.

I was intrigued by one of her posts (on her FB page, not mine), about how people should keep their profanity to their private conversations at home, not out in public. I took exception to this and for this reason.

First, in the world of social media there is no privacy; so, mean what you say online or in print (and in person) and standby your convictions. I do, however, strongly believe that social media is not necessarily the place to work out some ideas or how we feel on any number of given subjects. Neither do I recommend posting when one is intoxicated or otherwise “loose as a goose,” nor when one is completed and totally pissed off at someone else. Not that I, personally, have ever done this, but I’ve heard it’s highly suggested not to do this by those in the know.

Ahem.

Above and beyond the lack of privacy, however, this issue is part of a much larger conversation about how we present ourselves, both privately and to the world. Granted, we are going to act differently in some ways with friends as opposed to business colleagues or strangers. But none of our actions or words should be diametrically opposed to the essence of who we are as a person.

As I told my mother, a faithful, practicing Christian who doesn’t make a habit of swearing no matter where she is, Shouldn't true Christians be acceptable to their God 24/7/365, and not just when others are watching? And for that matter, shouldn’t we all be consistent in our thoughts, words and actions?

I don’t believe in a judgmental God/Goddess or Higher Power. I believe in a user-friendly universe that is set up to conspire for our good. The universe I experience is one that only says “Yes!” to my requests. When my life isn’t the way I like it it’s not a God/Goddess punishing me; rather, it’s that I’m saying I expect something, but then am not willing to do what it takes to allow that to happen. In other words, I want change without changing.

News flash:  That doesn’t work.

If you believe in a God that sees everything you’re doing, then remember that in the privacy of your bedroom as well as when you’re screaming crap in CAPITALS on your social media. Either way, it’s a great lesson in who we want to be if we remember that nothing we think is private really is anymore.

Chew on that one.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way

Where Are the Leaders?

What are leaders supposed to do?

Leaders are supposed to lead.

Duh.

Seems like a no-brainer, huh? Yet we see very little leading today in the news.

We certainly see people in power spouting rhetoric and hyperbole – these are socially acceptable, polite ways of expressing the same old crap without any solution and telling out-and-out lies to make oneself, ones party, or ones ideology look good. The latter is particularly effective for convincing the easily-led-astray, uneducated, or people in agreement with hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia.

This writing is not to encourage you to sign petitions; show up at demonstrations; tweet and post; vote, or register to vote; or, run for public office. Those suggestions are excellent ways to affect change in our world and local communities, of course. But I’m thinking about something a bit more basic.

To lead effectively a sterling quality is required, seldom seen in many politicians and other leaders:

INTEGRITY

This also requires an action step that is more difficult than finger-pointing and blaming:

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS

One former president who spoke to this was John Quincy Adams. He’s quoted as saying:

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.

You’ll note the lack of need to bully, to lie, to mislead, or to get people to do things for one’s own benefit anywhere in this admonition. What it does speak to is our need to take personal responsibility with integrity to serve others. How can we best do that?

The best way to demonstrate that we are committed to any cause is to act in a way that is consistent with the values of that undertaking. To be effective, we must be consistently mindful of our vision and mission in life. In other words, if the basis of who we are as an individual is in opposition to what we are attempting to promote, we will fall flat on our face.

We’ve seen this all-too-often in politics. The legislator who derides gay men is found having sex with a street hustler. We discover that the religious leader who speaks out against abortion took her daughter to a clinic to have one. This list goes on and speaks to another issue that we must recognize.

NOTHING we do is private any more. We’re going to talk more about that next week. In the meantime, consider how you might better lead by example, or take on a leadership role. And, in that process, recognize that – titled or not – you are a leader. We all are on some level. The only questions that remain are whether or not we’re going to embrace this responsibility, and how best to exercise the power we all have.

Lead us.

P.S. John Quincy Adams is not remembered as one of our greatest presidents. But his back story gives us even MORE insight into how we can lead. For more on this, scroll down!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.

John Quincy Adams

I was drawn to the Adams quote used in the blog above. But I really don’t know that much about the man or his presidency.

To assist with my education, I turned to my historian husband, Kevin. In some ways, the actions of Adams before and after his presidency are far more impressive than his time in office. I see a parallel here in the work we see today by President Jimmy Carter. Here’s what Kevin said when I told him about the Adams quote I was planning on using!

Hmmm … interesting one to select. It is a good quote from John Quincy Adams, but when it comes to leadership and his presidency, Adams is usually ranked about in the middle. He was hopelessly weakened in terms of leadership after the result of the 1824 election – often referred to as “the corrupt bargain” – since he lost the popular vote to Andrew Jackson but won the election (sound familiar?). He really was a poor politician in his day. He said he would serve as a man above “the baneful weed of party strife,” but that never materialized during his presidency.

His idea that the federal government should set the national agenda was far ahead of his time and very much rejected by politicians and state officials in the 1820s and 1830s. His career before and after his presidency is much more leadership oriented. He was an excellent diplomat, as he set the essential marks of American foreign policy for the next 100 years – freedom of seas, halt to European colonization in Western Hemisphere, isolation from European affairs, etc. Basically he is the reason we had two generations of peace with Europe until 1898. He also was a principled politician after serving as president, focused on the antislavery movement. It is his battle against slavery in the halls of Congress after his presidency that greatly redeemed his presence in the eyes of history.

Kevin A. Wagner
Program Chair, Social Studies 7-12
Carlisle Area School District
Carlisle, PA, USA

 

What Did I Just See You Do?

Accountability and Success

How are those New Year’s resolutions of yours coming along? Or, did you (like me) not make any? It usually takes about two weeks (or three weeks max) for New Year’s resolutions to fall by the wayside.

I’m not being Negative Nellie here, but statistically we aren’t stellar at following through on most of the New Year’s resolutions we make. Why is that? Why aren’t we accountable to ourselves for the plans or resolutions we claim to want?

Our success is doomed as soon as we agree to something if we didn’t really want to do it in the first place. This situation often occurs when we agree to something because we feel we have to do it (READ:  Guilt).

To guarantee our success we must be accountable to our decisions to affect change in our life. The critical factor here, however, is that we are discussing our decisions – not our partner’s/spouse’s decision, not our friend’s decision, nor anyone else’s.

What’s right for you to change in your life today to have a life more worth living? What are you willing to commit to today to affect that change? It might very be a New Year’s resolution, or it could be some long-time desire that only you know about.

Do you need additional motivation to follow through? Here’s one great idea:  Do it for you! Do it just because you want to, because you want to see the change more than anything. It doesn’t even matter if you never share it with anyone. The inner satisfaction of following through and being accountable to ourselves can be the most wonderful gifts we can receive.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
This message may be re-printed, copied and/or forwarded without permission, as long as the content is not altered in any way and credit is given to the author.