Miracle Of Surrender

When I wrote my book Love the Life you Live , I was in such a great space in my life I wanted to share it with the world.  The optimist in me expected to stay in that place, apart from minor problems, for the rest of my life.

That didn’t happen—I went from loving my life to struggling to get through the day. I believe that every life has a purpose and that is to develop to our full potential.  When we first awaken to our purpose we experience joy and passion, we feel fulfilled.  It’s much like graduating from university with an undergraduate degree, we have some knowledge but our experience is limited.

So that we can gain self-mastery and develop our potential to its fullest our soul provides us with opportunities, often in the shape of problems.  Sometimes we experience the same issues we think we’ve mastered, and I want to make this point very clear, it’s not because we have done anything wrong.  It is merely life presenting us with opportunities for mastery at a very deep level.

What enabled me to turn my life around many times has been reaching the point of surrender.  However, only recently have I been able to reach that level intentionally. In the past surrender always occurred when I reached a point where I could do no more, either emotionally or physically.  At those times I literally threw my hands up in the air and handed my problems over to the Universe and let go.  And, in every instance when I did a miracle occurred.

The Miracle Of Surrender

My life has presented me with the opportunities, time and time again, to trust. Trust at its deepest level is surrender.  It’s about putting the mind and will aside, accepting responsibility to do your bit, then trusting the Universe to do the rest.

Life always presents us with opportunities to live to our full potential.  By embracing the challenge and surrendering you recognise life’s gifts.

There Is a Gift In Every Problem

Sam Bailey grew up on a farm. During his teen years he decided to take a few years away to see the world. He expected that when he returned home he would take over the reins of the family farm, get married and raise a family. However, Sam’s dreams were shattered when, at just 19 years old, he was in a car accident which left him a quadriplegic.

Sam said there were times in his life when he would look to the heavens and say, “Thanks very much” with anger, resentment and despair. Nineteen years later he says, “Thanks so much” and means it. Sam believes that while a car accident changed his life forever it gave him so much more. It helped him to become aware of what he valued most.

Sam chose to never let his injuries prevent him from being happy or from creating a life that he loves. He chose to be resourceful and persistent. He began by learning to get himself on and off a four wheel dirt bike so that he could navigate his family’s property. This took a lot of trial and error and many falls. He now uses a hoist to get himself into farm machinery. He learnt to drive a car again and went on to learn how to fly an ultralight plane. Sam aims to be the first quadriplegic to fly a helicopter. And while all of those achievements are significant, Sam said the most important event in his life was meeting and falling in love with Jenny.

There Is a Gift In Every Problem

Jenny was a radio journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). She met Sam when she planned to do a story about him. They became friends first and as their relationship grew into something more Sam did a lot of soul searching as to whether it was fair to ask Jenny to share her life with him. When he decided he had something to offer her, he proposed to Jenny live on air during her radio program. They married soon after.

Sam hasn’t let anything stop him living his life to the fullest. But what is so amazing is how grateful Sam is for his life and his handicap. Sam said that he wouldn’t change anything even if that meant he could walk again.

When you develop the habit of being grateful you begin to recognise the gifts in your problems. Being grateful is a habit which will continually support you. A good habit to establish is to fall asleep each night giving thanks. If you do this regularly you will find that your first thought on waking is gratitude. It’s a lovely way to start and end your day.

Sam Bailey’s book Head over Heels tells is an inspirational biography. I highly recommend it.

The signs that lead to your Dharma

Gratitude

What I love most about my work is interacting with others, being creative and making a difference but in recent times the growth of my business meant that my day was filled with administrative tasks, managing and marking assignments. Not so long ago it got to the point where I dreaded the day ahead. Whenever I got to this stage in the past I generally sold or closed my business down, deciding that owning a large business wasn’t for me. That decision though was always followed by years of uncertainty and searching for what to do next.

What it took me many years to learn is that dissatisfaction of any kind is merely a sign that tells me to reassess. Reassessing doesn’t have to mean walking away and making radical changes, although it could, it often means making adjustments. Feeling disgruntled at the thought of going to work was just a little nudge from the Universe that reminded me that I needed to get back to doing what I love most.

Your soul constantly gives you signs when you take a wrong turn. These signs can come in many forms such as:

  • dissatisfaction,
  • unhappiness,
  • problems,
  • opportunities,
  • insights,
  • dreams,
  • even books.

When we get caught up in resisting, blaming and complaining we often miss these signs and see them as burdens. When you take time to be still, open your heart and your mind, you begin to recognise when your soul is guiding you. Some people think they don’t get signs but everyone does, but if you aren’t aware you may not recognise them.

When most people feel stressed they switch off their intuition, then they feel confused, and they  miss the signs that could make their life easier, happier and more prosperous. Sometimes what we love, or what comes easily, can be a sign to go in that direction. More often though signs come in the form of dissatisfaction and that is simply our soul’s way of reminding us to fill our needs. Sometimes signs come in the form of unexpected opportunities.

Christiane Amanpour led a sheltered life in Iran. She had no great ambitions, she expected to do what most girls her age did, marry young. In 1978 two incidents occurred that changed the course of her life. When Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran, people around the world were taken by surprise.

Not long afterwards Christiane’s sister decided to leave her journalism course in London after only one term, Christiane took her place so that her family would not lose their tuition fee. While studying journalism Christiane instinctively knew that she wanted to be in the middle of global events, to be a storyteller. To do that effectively she felt she needed to live in America so when she finished her journalism course she went on to complete further study in America.

When Christianne graduated she went to work for CNN and for more than 20 years she has been one the world’s leading foreign correspondents telling human stories of people affected by world events.

A simple unexpected opportunity led Christiane to a fulfilling career and lifestyle.

The signs that lead to your Dharma

Problems can either be stepping stones which help you uncover your gifts or they can keep you stuck in your fears. When I first became interested in personal development, I felt that the authors of the motivational books I read led a problem free life, so I always expected to reach a point in my life where I wouldn’t face any more major challenges—I was so wrong. Problems are a part of life and everyone experiences them. Often positive people don’t talk about what is going on in their lives, so it’s easy to assume that their lives are better than yours.

Wayne Dyer said, and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t remember the exact quote, “When you have a big dharma (purpose), you get big problems”. Problems are not a form of punishment—they are opportunities to let your fears go so that you can grow to your full potential.

If you are interested in finding your Dharma, or if you just want to have a clearer understanding of your life, consider joining my Dharma Retreat to be held in Sydney in August.

 

Accepting Your Own Power

They made fun of him, shunned him and called him names like “Crazy Eddie”and “Mr. Magoo on Skis” but none of that stopped Eddie Edwards, also known as Eddie the Eagle, from achieving his dream.

The movie, Eddie the Eagle, was my inspiration for today’s blog and if I had the power I would make it compulsory viewing for all kids.

What’s so special about this movie is that it’s not about winning and being the best. It’s about having a dream and the courage to pursue that dream despite incredible obstacles. It’s about courage,  resilience, belief in oneself and making your opinion of you more important than what other people say about you. And what I love most about this movie is that Eddie became an inspiration not because he was the best, he actually came last in all his Olympic events, but because he did his best and celebrated his successes.

In our world winning and being the best has become way too important, when we focus on achievement we often overlook what really should be celebrated and that is courage, determination and belief in oneself.

It is a sad reflection of our society today that people like Eddie are a rarity. Every day I hear people talk about their limitations, what they can’t have, how they doubt themselves, what stands in their way. But what if you shifted your perspective and asked questions like:

What is the opportunity in the challenges I face right now?

What gifts am I being given?

What if I am powerful?

If I acted as if I believed I was powerful what would I change in my life?

The delusion that we live under that we are powerless to change our lives, and the lives of others, is what has held society back for centuries. What if you chose to see the world through different lenses. Rather than resisting what is or focusing on what is missing you focused on the opportunity you have to change yourself how different would your life be? What if you chose to believe that the challenges you face right now are guiding you to the quickest path to your ideal life.

The willingness to view challenges as opportunities to change yourself and your life can be life changing. We need to reconceive what power is in order to claim it. Power can be anything you define it to be. Power can be expressed through gentleness or kindness.  Power can inspire and influence others positively. Power is taking the quickest route to your goal. Power is never about force.

Accepting Your Own Power

The widespread attention that Eddie received was embarrassing to some on the British Olympic Committee so they changed the rules making it nearly impossible for anyone like Eddie to compete in future. However, Eddie, a working class plasterer who came last in his sport, was powerful enough to change Olympic rules. In 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) instituted what became known as the Eddie the Eagle Rule, which made it fairer for future competitors.

Eddie said, “To me competing was all that mattered”, and that’s what it should be. Doing what you love, exceeding your own personal best, simply because you love it.

 

 

The Getting of Confidence

I was in my twenties and had just started a new job, when one of the girls in the office said, “No one is that confident, you have to be faking it”. I was quite taken back by her comment as I was just being me.

Over the intervening years I have sometimes wondered why I have been confident in most situations, with the exception of public speaking, whilst many others struggle, and I believe it’s because I learnt that it is  okay to fail at an early age.

Fail early – Fail often

Most people don’t wake up one day and suddenly feel confident, you become confident by trying, falling down then picking yourself up again, and being prepared to fail until you get it right.

I came from a family of perfectionists who lacked confidence so at one time when I was just a young kid, Dad asked me knock on the neighbour’s doors to see if they had a garage to rent, while he watched over me from the safety of the street. My mum would have me go into a shop and ask if they had something. My sister was so shy that she wouldn’t even buy a train or movie ticket, so if we wanted to go anywhere I learnt that I had to be the one to take charge. Psychologist now recommend that we learn to fail early and fail often, this way we learn to experience setbacks and develop resilience, so while it used to annoy me when I was young that I had to do everything for my family, I am now so grateful for the confidence I gained from those times.

Shawn Achor tells a very funny story of how he used to sell his body when he was a student at Harvard. As Shawn was always in need of money he often volunteered for paid experiments such as MRIs and various other tests as a way of supporting himself. At one time he volunteered for a study to prevent elderly people from falls, the study was three hours long and he was promised he would be paid $20. He was given a set of bike reflectors with Velcro straps and tight white biker shorts and he was shirtless. He had to attach the velcro straps to each of the joints in his body and he was asked to walk down a padded hallway in the dark with a video camera positioned to the reflectors on his joints. As he did this the floor would suddenly slide to the left and he would crash onto the lightly padded walkway, then the floor would slide to the right throwing him off balance. He had a cord attached to his leg which would be yanked from behind, pitching him flat on his face. After 120 falls the researchers told me that they had forgotten to put video in the recorder and asked him if he would do it again.

After three hours Shawn was met by a Professor who told him the study had nothing to do with helping the elderly, the researchers were studying motivation and resilience and Shawn was the only person who had lasted the full three hours. He was given $200 for his efforts.

The Getting of Confidence

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn says, “More memorable than the generous prize were the lessons I learned about the nature of resilience—about picking ourselves up when we fall.” Years later Shawn was grateful for this opportunity when he had to address thousands of business leaders around the world who had had their legs yanked out from under them due to the global financial crisis. He now encourages people, as I do, to look for the good in every situation.

Countless studies have shown that if we view failure as an opportunity for growth, our confidence grows. As Robert F. Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”.

The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor is published by Virgin Books. It’s a great read.

How Positive Thinking Helped me Become a Best-Selling Author

When I was 22 a friend at work lent me the book The Power of Positive Thinking, it changed my life and from that day forward I applied the principles of positive thinking to most areas of my life.

I have always loved to read and I usually read two or three at the one time, so for me it seemed only natural to dream of writing a book one day. With the exception of my mother, no-one else thought I had any talent. They were right—I didn’t.

From a young age I submitted the occasional story to magazines, only to receive rejection after rejection, then one day at work I happened to tell my boss that I wanted to write, he said I could start by compiling the office procedures manual. Now that wasn’t quite what I had in mind but I saw it as an opportunity so I put a great deal of effort into the task, and waited anxiously for his feedback. He took a while to come back to me and when he did he, ‘Anne, forget about writing!’

Now one of my strengths is that I don’t get put off by other people’s opinions. I wasn’t prepared to give up my dream and although I knew I didn’t have any great talent as a writer, I felt I could learn.

My career progressed and I was appointed manager of a women’s financial planning business. I was asked by a major magazine to write a column for them, but my employer refused to let me write it, instead my firm had their public relations person write it under my name. I was delighted when the magazine turned the column down and I started getting serious about writing a column myself.

Applying the principles of positive thinking a couple of times a day, just for a few seconds, I would visualise my photo and name at the top of a column. As I was often contacted by the media for comments on financial matters I started telling every journalist I came in contact with that I wanted to write a column. One day a freelance journalist rang and said, “Cleo magazine is looking for a financial columnist, I mentioned you and they would like you to submit something.” I did, and they offered me a monthly column.

Now I still didn’t have any great talent, but I was known in the industry and I had expertise in money and investments. The magazine obviously decided this was enough and their editor refined the articles I submitted to make them more reader friendly. Each month I would take the column I had written and check it word-for-word against the edited version that appeared in the magazine. As I took note of the changes the editor made my writing style improved and within six months I was writing for two major magazines and two local newspapers.

When a leading magazine editor of Australia’s best-selling magazine, The Women’s Weekly, said I was a very good writer and that I wrote like a journalist, I nearly floated out of her office I felt so happy. I knew it was time to write my book.

I took one day a week away from the office to devote to my book. The first day I sat at my desk and said to myself, “How on earth do you write a book?” It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. After several hours of pondering this question I went to my bookshelf and took out several books from my favourite authors and studied their style. The ones I liked best wrote in a very conversational style and that’s what I did, I imagined myself talking to a client and wrote down what I would say.

When I had a rough manuscript I sent it off to several publishers and it was accepted. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to do this and I didn’t know that very few people get accepted. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. My book was accepted by Doubleday and my publisher Rex Finch appointed two wonderful editors to work with me. Those editors taught me how to structure a book, how to rephrase a sentence. It took me three years and countless rewrites to complete that book, Financially Free, which went on to become a runaway best seller, and while that book is now out of print, copies are still regularly sold on Ebay, 25 years after publication.

Since that time I have written six books, ghost written three books, and adapted two of Suze Orman’s books for the Australian market. I now write a weekly blog.

In the book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell refers to the 10,000 hour rule. In study after study of writers, chess masters, musicians, sports people and even master criminals they found that that while some people have innate talent, that wasn’t enough to make them successful. True mastery was achieved on average after 10,000 hours of practice, and anyone with the will to put in the work can attain a high level of mastery.

That’s the power of a dream coupled with positive thinking and the will to do the work. Never let anyone tell you it can’t be done when you know in your heart it can.