Thursday, November 17, 2016

Challenging Ourselves

Saturday, September 17 was a long and exhausting day. Truthfully, the whole week leading up to that date had been long and exhausting. Adding to the grueling schedule was excruciating pain caused by two bone spurs in my right foot. All I wanted to do that Saturday was teach my 5-hour leadership class at Bay Path University, get home that afternoon, take 800mg of ibuprofen, eat a meal, and get off my foot. That's what I wanted to do.

However.... A few months prior to that day, my friend Dennis McCurdy told me he was having a firewalk in Brimfield on September 17. "I'd like you to come and say a few motivating words to the attendees," he said. Now, I love Dennis' firewalks. I've participated three times and I understand the power behind facing the challenge of walking on those 1400-degree coals.

"Sure," I told him. "I have class that day, but I'll come."
You Tube Video Firewalk 9-17-16
As dusk descended that Saturday evening, I dreaded the thought of having to stand on my feet again. The ibuprofen had barely touched the pain and I was down to walking, literally, on the ball of my foot. But I had told Dennis I would be there and so I limped to my car, drove to Brimfield, hobbled onto the field, and joined the 20+ people with the building of the firewalk pathway. We worked as a team, placing logs conically down a 20-foot pathway, after which we stuffed between the logs pieces of paper upon which we wrote a fear we wanted to conquer, a goal we wanted to attain. The wood was doused with a flammable liquid; flames shot into the air. It takes about two hours for the logs to reduce to red hot embers. During this time, we assembled under the tent and Dennis began his workshop. Thirty minutes passed, then 60, then 90 minutes. He must have forgot he wanted me to speak, I thought. Thank God, because the stabbing pain in my foot was so intense I could not even keep it on the ground. I felt unfocused and uninspired to motivate anyone to do anything. And then I heard my name. ".... she's a great, inspiring speaker...." In that split second I knew I had to deliver a specific message about challenging oneself to face and conquer the obstacles in front of us, whether it's 1400-degree coals or mind-numbing pain. (Click here or on the above image to hear a portion of that speech.)

Friday, June 3, 2016

10 Ways to Live a Flourishing Life

1. It starts with self-reflection . . . It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. What does your self-portrait say about you?

2. Happiness is as much about what you don't want as what you do want. What’s on your “I Don’t Want . . .” List?

3. Once you free yourself of the illusion of who you want to be, the truth of who you are is crystal clear.

4. There is joy to be found in most any moment. You simply need to be willing to expand your vision and see it.

5. Insight fuels foresight. Open your mind to all the possibilities.

6. To learn something new today, reflect on what you did and what you thought about yesterday.

7. Direct Your Thinking . . . Set a goal today that is realistic. Focus your attention on the actions necessary to attain that goal.

8. Direct Your Thinking . . . Negative thoughts can be changed. Positive thoughts can be maintained.

9. Wake up every morning and begin each day with the desire and the decision to live joyfully.

10. And remember . . . While another’s belief in you may sustain you for a while, lasting strength comes only when you choose to believe in yourself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ambition, Achievement, Fulfillment


A few weeks back a colleague said to me, “I admire how ambitious you are.” Her words stopped me. 

“Ambitious? You see me as ambitious?” I was puzzled. I never thought of myself in that way, so I had to ponder what she meant by that. 

I turned to my internal dictionary and thesaurus — the one my grandmother had drilled into me as a child by insisting that I learn the list of spelling bee words she tore out of the Sunday paper each week. 

Ambitious: a go-getter, power-hungry, zealous. That’s not me. Determined. Hmm. Determined. Now that is me. I am determined, purposeful, motivated, and an enthusiastic learner. I am an achiever

This got me thinking about what is achievement? Achievement is the experience of accomplishment, of attaining the goals you set for yourself. While ambition is the chief driver of achievement, it seems to me they are variables in the equation that equals fulfillment. 

Fulfillment is the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted; it is the feeling of satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one's abilities or character. You may have all the success and money in the world, yet be internally bankrupt and feel that life has no meaning.

Fulfillment is accomplished by two things: continuous growth and continuous contribution beyond oneself. It comes from living a life of meaning, of significance. Achievement, however, is pleasure; achievement is of and in the moment.  

In my studies in strategic intervention, I learned that the strongest drive in human beings is the “drive for fulfillment, and that all human beings share this need to experience a life of meaning and purpose.” (Robbins-Madanes) Fulfillment can only be achieved when we focus our lives on the need to grow continuously, and the need to contribute beyond ourselves in a meaningful way.

My desire to grow continuously and to contribute beyond myself in a meaningful way is fueled by an inner ambition to do so.  

Perhaps my colleague was right. I am ambitious.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The ABCs of Serenity Now

Here are my 26 ways to lead a more serene and happy life.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you practice serenity in your life.
~ Rita



Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's About Time (Management, That Is)

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. wrote, "Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."

Time management, in a nutshell, is how we get things done. When you develop good time management skills you are in control of your time, your life, and your stress level. So, if you feel the need to be more organized, more productive, start by considering the following:

1) Meet your Time Bandits.  Do you set out to check your e-mail, or your Facebook page updates, or your favorite Internet news site, and suddenly find that ninety minutes has flown by? Do you set out to play fifteen minutes of your latest online game “just to clear my mind” and suddenly three hours has passed you by? These Time Bandits are insidious time-wasters that steal time we could be using much more productively.

2) Establish routines and stick to them as much as possible. While unexpected interruptions or crises will arise, you will be more productive if you have a plan of action to follow.

3) Set time limits for tasks. Reading and answering e-mail can consume a large portion of your day if you are not mindful. Set a time limit of one hour a day for this task and stick to it. If checking e-mail is part of your work routine, plan no more than 4 to 6, ten-minute intervals each day.

Making these simple, small changes can help lower your stress. For more ways to live a flourishing life, visit my web site: www.ritaschiano.com.

Embrace joy. Be mindful. Live a flourishing Life.
Rita