Finding Your Area of Excellence

October 21, 2009

“If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write.  Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.”     – Louis L’Amour

Since deciding to become a writer in late 2005, I have met so many wanna be writers, which is silly because, let’s face it, we are ALL writers to some extent.  I loved the quote in Marrying George Clooney when Amy Ferris quips:  “Exactly how does a writer retire?”

But a few courageous or just plain crazy ones of us, decide to try to make a go of it as writers.  This makes sense.  The world NEEDS good writers and a lot more good editors too, judging by the TERRIBLE spelling and grammar on the internet!

The best advice I received when I started writing was to just keep writing! So many of us believe that one is only a “writer” if we are getting published regularly or if we are getting paid for our writing.  I know far too many writers who are getting paid to write annoying commercials and vapid TV shows.  Are they writers?  They are making more than most of us.

In my interview with Cheri Hill this week for our 50 Interviews book on professional speakers, she made a great point about being a brilliant speaker, one which also applies to writing.  Writing and speaking are both skills, they are crafts we can always get better at, with plenty of training and experience.

It is far too easy to assume that the great writers and speakers came to their level of excellence naturally.  They were not born writers or speakers.  They decided to dedicate their lives to growing and changing as their skills improved.

The tough part for most of us is simply finding that skill or trade that we can commit to.  Where should we put all of our belief and energy, because somewhere inside we KNOW that we can excel?  And we also know we need to find our own area of excellence to feel good about ourselves.

Dedicate your life to finding your own area of excellence!  And when you finally find it, don’t let ANYONE tell you you don’t know what you’re doing.

“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.”    -Chinese proverb


Where does authenticity come from?

October 11, 2009

Unfortunately, for many of us, true authenticity can only come from finding ourselves in desperate situations.  I am speaking from personal experience here.

I recently spoke to a room full of newly unemployed people, folks who had never really known that kind of desperation before.  At the end, the first question was,

“Do you have to reach that point of feeling like you have very little left to lose, before you can begin to acknowledge and appreciate your own uniqueness?”

My only answer was, “I did.”  Before that point, I still believed I had all the answers.  I still believed in the traditional American dream and felt like it was working for me to some extent.  In other words, I was still willing to ignore my deepest personal need to become my best self, because I had some sort of marriage and job and that felt safe.  Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken!

But when that all crumbles before your eyes, when everything you thought you knew about yourself and your future is no longer true, desperation CAN lead to inspiration.

The same can be said about marriage.  If you have a mediocre marriage that meets a few of your needs and you feel safe, you may stay in it, because the alternatives look grim.  But when that marriage ends, you are forced to become much more creative when thinking about your future.  You realize now anything could happen, and that can be refreshing and terrifying at the same time.

But if you are willing to take the necessary risks and take the time to invest in finding a better future for yourself, help is available.  If you are certain you don’t want to go back to the same old, same old or your life feels like it has turned into a 9-to-5 way of dying, you are now ready to change for the better.

You may be ready to find the courage inside to explore what you were put on this earth to do!

Remember: do-overs are indeed possible before it’s all over!

Stop wishing and start doing!

October 9, 2009

I saw these words on a TV commercial for retirement, and I thought “NO!!!”  This is not about retirement!  This is about your life right now!  These words are an example of how we are taught to keep putting off our lives one day at a time, until we suddenly realize we have no life left!

Most of us live parallel lives.  We live day to day, sometimes in the present, and often float off into visions of our past.  At other times we free ourselves up enough to daydream about a better life in our future, one where we have lots of free time to do exactly what we want, whenever we want to.

I was handed that kind of free time five years ago when I lost my job, and it scared the hell out of me!  Because when you have that much free time, it’s very hard to distract yourself from the problem at hand.

When you finally get anywhere near the strong feeling of nothing left to lose, the freedom can be terrifying.  When you have nothing but time to think about yourself and your life, you may begin to wonder,

“What have I really done with my life so far?  Has my life had any meaning at all?”

These feelings of terror were exactly what I needed to stop wishing and start doing.  I decided I strongly desired more of two things in my life:  fun and meaning.  I didn’t want to suffer now for a better future later.  I knew I was through with that way of living.  I felt forced to take a painfully honest inventory of what I needed to do before I died.

It has been a slow, difficult process moving from those stark, dark days to something better.  From where I sit today, every single moment of confusion and uncertainty was worth the joyful life I see before me.

Yes, it is important to daydream and vision and make wish lists about finding a better future for yourself.  But only if you are willing to take some gigantic risks to follow through with your plan.

“Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.”   -T.S. Eliot

Where is divorce most common?

October 5, 2009

Here’s a fascinating article about the latest Census data on divorce. Do you live in the divorce capital of the US?

Cougar Town

October 1, 2009

Am I the only one who thinks the new TV show Cougar Town is silly?

First of all, Courtney Cox is quite a bit too young, thin, and attractive to represent a “cougar,” and we all know she’s happily married. I mean she’s barely even a BABY BOOMER!

Second, one of the hallmarks of aging is supposed to be growing wiser.  Going out with a younger girlfriend and drinking yourself under the table is not my idea of wise or a good example for younger women.  I know, it has to be stupid to be funny.  I just don’t even find it very entertaining!

Midlife women as risk-takers!

September 20, 2009

I have been meeting a number of amazingly interesting and powerful midlife women lately!  By maintaining this blog, I have gained an education in how so many women are transforming themselves in midlife, and their careers have then taken off!

I am now the managing editor of a new book in the 50 Interviews series on professional speakers.  Brian Schwartz came out with 50 Interviews: Entrepreneurs this year.

Brian encourages those who think they might like to change careers, to first go out and interview 50 professionals in their field of interest.  It’s a great way to learn more about the area you might like to pursue,  gain important connections,  maybe even a mentor or two, while also producing your own book in the 50 Interviews series.

Meggin McIntosh small blogBrian and I are both quite interested in learning the secrets of successful professional speakers so we have been interviewing them lately.  The other day I spoke to Meggin McIntosh, CEO of Emphasis on Excellence.  What an amazing powerhouse of energy and ideas!

After decades of teaching, eventually as a college professor, Meggin decided it was time to strike out on her own with Emphasis on Excellence in 2004.  She is now the Ph.D of Productivity, educating educators nationwide in leadership and productivity.

It was such a joy speaking to her about how her self-confidence has increased, as her business has developed and grown.  She is a true inspiration to me!  Talk about finding a way to be a part of the solution instead of the problem!  She made me believe that we can all succeed if we believe we can, and then follow through with all the energy we can put behind it!

Her interview will appear along with 49 others in our new book, coming out in the spring of 2010!  If you know of other professional speakers who make an excellent living speaking professionally, please contact me at:

What’s GOOD about a life crisis?

September 9, 2009

leap_of_faith blog size“Only those who risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go.”  -T.S. Eliot

We all know what’s bad about a crisis. We are usually taken by surprise by a major change we didn’t see coming, one that is really tough to adjust to.

I can’t say I didn’t see my divorce coming,  I just wouldn’t accept it. Then one day my husband and I decided together that it was simply what  needed to happen, for each of us to find happiness in the long run.

But when I lost my job, I was taken completely by surprise!  At that time, no one could have convinced me that this was a good thing!   It was one of the worst times in my entire life.  I struggled mightily with myself and my fate.

But today, I see how I needed for these misfortunes to occur, for me to wake up and begin to live my life with more integrity.

So what’s GOOD about a life crisis? It quickly knocks us out of our comfort zone, and then demands more from us. When more is demanded, more is given.

If I hadn’t lost my job, I never would have started my dating service for those 40+.   I never would have had the experience of starting my own business, struggled with those circumstances and I probably wouldn’t have met my lovely new husband. Then I wouldn’t have moved, gotten the money from my old house, and used that to start seeing a career counselor who slowly talked me into doing exactly what I had always wanted to do.

We never know what one small change in our lives might lead to.  Sometimes we just need to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Life crises can force our hand, pushing us into a whole new world of risk and benefit. We may feel forced to take risks we would never have considered before, and in this way, learn much more about ourselves and our full potential.