Do You Have a Unicorn Horn Secret?

Pretend for the next few minutes that I have a unicorn horn growing out of the center of my head.  (Please bear with me.  It’s a big step for a grown man to talk about a unicorn horn in his blog.)

Now pretend that when I talk to people, I never acknowledge that I have a unicorn horn growing out of the center of my head.  Furthermore, I become defensive and change the subject when people who are just getting to know me comment on my unicorn horn.   And if they inquire how I feel about having a unicorn horn or ask for any explanation of the medical condition that caused my horn, I make it obvious that they have offended me.

Since, I react in this way at any mention of my unicorn horn, soon nobody speaks to me about my horn, not family, not friends.  Even acquaintances who have made the mistake of inquiring about my horn once, never speak to me about it again.

People are only willing to get so close to me.  (How close can you really get to someone who refuses to trust you enough to talk with you about the unicorn horn growing out of the center of his head?)

I never know what people really think of my horn.  Maybe they think it is the height of fashion and pray that they will wake up with one growing out of the center of their head tomorrow.  Maybe, they think I would feel better about life without the horn and know a professional to refer me to who removes unicorn horns.

Now remember this unicorn horn stuff isn’t autobiographical.  (If you were about to call Guinness, you can hang up the phone.)

However, I have a unique feature that is like a unicorn horn in that there is no way to hide the reality of it when I speak.

For years, I refused to talk about my speech impediment and made it an awkward conversation, to say the least, when people tried to talk to me about it. When I finally did begin talking with people about the speech impediment (my Unicorn Horn Secret) I soon discovered that no one thought my speech impediment was nearly as big of a deal as I thought it was.  I learned to my surprise that some people actually even find the way I speak cool.

By talking freely about my Unicorn Horn Secret, I also opened up a way for people to suggest that I go back to speech therapy, which I hadn’t done since grade school.  Following their advice, I went back to a speech therapist and after about three or four sessions, she said that I had accomplished what I needed to accomplish and didn’t need to come back to see her.  (When I was trying to keep my Unicorn Horn Secret, I had feared that if I ever went back to speech therapy, I would be going once a week for the rest of my life.)

These were the wonderful benefits of finally talking about my Unicorn Horn Secret.  However, by far the biggest benefit of talking freely about my Unicorn Horn Secret is that people now find it much easier to be around me and connect with me because I am not trying to hide and not tell the truth about what is obvious.

Now my Unicorn Horn Secret, that for so long I refused to talk about, has become part of my “Limitations To Extraordinary Results” message.    As a professional speaker, I am now proud to share this message and my Unicorn Horn Secret with audiences both big and small.

Our Unicorn Horn Secrets can become some of our greatest assets once we find the courage to talk freely about them.  We then have a pathway to open up to the idea that the way we view our Unicorn Horn Secrets can transform from a source of shame to a source of strength.

Game of the Day

Do you have a Unicorn Horn Secret?

What would it be like to talk freely about your Unicorn Horn Secret?

What would it be like to transform your Unicorn Horn Secret from a source of shame to a source of strength?

What is your next step?

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Your Life Is What You Appreciate

Centuries ago, the Pilgrims set foot in North America, a land where they had never been, a land that seemed to them very foreign and wild.  They definitely didn’t have all the answers, heck they didn’t even have a good idea of how to grow their own food in this new land.  Yet, in the fall of 1621, they had their first harvest.  So, they gave thanks that they were alive and free.

A joyful way to honor this part of history might be to recognize that what we appreciate creates a meaningful and abundant life for those around us and ourselves.

A hundred-dollar bill is a perfect example of the power of appreciation.  If we fail to appreciate that a hundred-dollar bill has value, it could appear to us as merely a small scrap of virtually worthless paper.

You might say, “Now Jason this is an absurd example.  People just know to appreciate that hundred-dollar bills have value.”

And I completely agree; most adults in the United States know how to appreciate the value of a hundred-dollar bill.

So we understand how to appreciate the value of a little piece of paper.  Now how can we give this same confident appreciation that we have for a hundred-dollar bill, to ourselves, the people around us and our communities?

What if every time we looked at our family members, we felt the same excitement as when we happen to notice a hundred-dollar bill on a street?

What if every time we looked at the people ahead of us in the checkout line at the grocery store, we felt the same excitement as when we happen to notice a hundred-dollar bill on a street?

What if every time we looked in the mirror, we felt the same excitement as when we happen to notice a hundred-dollar bill on a street?

 Game Of The Day

How can you increase your ability to appreciate yourself?

How can you increase your ability to appreciate all the people that you truly want to appreciate?

Our Lives Are Our Free Time

Ok, here I am at Subway about to write a blog entitled, “Our Lives Are Our Free Time.”  Suddenly, I catch myself thinking, “I HAVE TO eat fast, so I can get going on this blog.”

In the moment, I say, “I HAVE TO eat fast,” I realize that I’m not allowing myself to be free.

In truth, I could choose to spend the next seven hours in Subway savoring each morsel of my sandwich.  Then I could spend another couple of hours at home eating the leftovers.*

Now my recognition that I am free to take as long as I want to eat my sandwich is admittedly a small recognition in the grand scheme of recognitions.  However, it’s amazing to think of how often we speak to ourselves in the language of “I HAVE TO,” instead of the language of “I choose to.”

When we insist to ourselves that we have to do this or that, we fill our lives with self-created burdensome obligations instead of noticing that we are actually free to choose what we do.

One of our biggest areas where we say, “I HAVE TO” relates to work.  How often have you said, “I have to go to work”?

I know being self-employed as a professional speaker and writer; I find myself saying “I HAVE TO” work on a regular basis.

It is often easy to complain about having to work.  But when we say we have to go to work, we drastically reduce the hours of our lives in which we have the opportunity to be free.

There are two solutions that I can think of to this dilemma.  One solution might be that we could all in mass just decide not to work anymore.  (This would probably create worldwide chaos.  So, let’s not try it.)

Or we could start considering our whole lives as our free time, even the portion of our lives that we chose to devote to work.

And think about it, we really do choose to work.  We choose to work to make the money we need to support the lifestyle we want to live.  There is no law saying that we have to live the lifestyle we do.   We choose to live the lifestyle we do, so we make the amount of money we need to make to live out our choice.

Seen from this perspective, our lives are our free time.  With a portion of that free time, we choose to work.  This is a unique way to think about work.  May it help us recognize our freedom in everything we do.

* (Note the idea of me eating a sandwich for nine hours is purely hypothetical.  At this point in my life, I’m far more likely to spend nine minutes eating a sandwich.)

(Can you imagine what a person would learn about life by spending nine hours eating a sandwich?)

(I can’t.)

Game of the Day

The next time you are at work, try thinking to yourself, “My life is my free time and I chose to use some of that free time to work.”

For bonus points, say this to three people at work.

Appreciating The One Certainty of Life 

To me, the fact that I will die one day seems downright bizarre.  I mean here I am, thirty-six which means for over thirty-six years I have been living.  (That may have been more than slightly redundant).  Anyway living is what I know.  I am so used to waking up each morning.  I am so used to life.  The idea of not being here, the idea of my death, well, baffles me.

Which actually, believe it or not, is a big improvement from how I felt when I was younger.  Back then, the idea of dying freaked me out, stressed me out, and made me sad as all get-out. I reflected on the reality that I would one day perish with high frequency. No, frankly, I obsessed about having to die one day sometime in the future.

I was a healthy kid.  And I was spending my time angry about my mortality.  What the heck was I doing thinking about my own death all the time?   I was sure busy making myself a victim of something that is just as much a part of the life cycle as being born, and letting it disrupt my life.

Today in yoga, my teacher said something about appreciating that we will one day die because it makes each of our moments more unique and richer.

Appreciating the fact that we are going to one day die?   Not being the victim of having to eventually die?

This sounds like extraordinary freedom to me and has gotten me thinking about what I appreciate about the one certainty of life.

At this point in the post, I was hoping to whip out a clever Top Ten List of both humorous and profound things I appreciate about having to die one day.

And….

And…

Well I’m sorry to disappoint, but I guess that list isn’t coming today.

However, I love the idea of appreciating that we will one day die instead of feeling doomed and depressed by the idea.

In those years when I chose to spend lots of my time fearing death, I realize now that I was deadening my days with fear.

Maybe appreciating the one certainty of life, instead of fearing and being angered by it, is a key to living a rich and full life.

(In that case, I best work on my clever Top Ten List!)

Game of the Day

What did you think about and what emotions did you feel as you read this blog?

Share those thoughts and the emotions that you felt with at least one person.

The Greatest Song You Can Sing

Before we get to the greatest song you can sing, consider a silly but scrumptious example.

To eat a chocolate chip cookie, you need to think about wanting a chocolate chip cookie or even better, sing a chocolate chip cookie song.  (If chocolate chip cookies aren’t your snack of choice, please insert you a snack that you savor here.)

A dandy chocolate chip cookie song could start like this:

I want a chocolate chip cookie.  Yum, Yum, Yum!

I would love a chocolate chip cookie.  La, La, La!

Chocolate cookies fill me with glee.  Hee, Hee, Hee!

(Depending on how much you want to savor your glorious snack, you can create an extensive refrain and as many verses as you want.)

Once you have a chocolate chip cookie song you have a better chance of successfully finding or baking an absolutely amazing chocolate chip cookie.

By composing and singing a chocolate cookie song, you will naturally begin considering how you can make a chocolate chip cookie come into your life.From this point, you may well begin contemplating possible options: buying pre-made, purchasing baking ingredients, going to a cookie shop.  You will likely choose a method of obtaining a chocolate chip cookie and start considering the steps it will take to convert this method into a tasty reality.

Singing the chocolate chip cookie song focuses you on creating an outcome in which you get to eat a chocolate chip cookie.

Now consider the power of the songs we commonly sing.  These songs have titles like “I Have No Time,” “I Have No Money,” “I Can’t Do It,” “My Life Is So Hard,” “Nobody Loves Me,”  “My Dreams Are Impossible. ”   We sing these songs over and over again and they can become our habitual soundtrack.

Are these the greatest songs we can sing?

Your dreams are far more scrumptious than chocolate chip cookies.  What are the words of your powerful dream songs?

Have fun creating your powerful dream songs.  They don’t need to be perfect, just make you happy and help you keep your focus on your dream.

Sing them over and over again in the shower, in the car, before you go to bed, when you wake up.   You can even share the words to your powerful dream songs in conversations with friends, family and colleagues.  (You may want to just say the words in this case instead of singing them.)

It takes concentration to keep playing your powerful dream songs because your habitual soundtrack will often still compete for airtime.

Changing the songs you consistently sing is a fun first step to transforming your life.

Game of the Day

Create your powerful dream songs. Start singing and keep singing!

The Ocean Smells Under My Sink

At one beach I go to near San Diego, I am continually amazed that surfers with long boards above their heads walk the steep half-mile from parking lot to beach in their bare feet.

I’m from South Dakota.  My feet are accustomed to the comfort of socks. Ok, ok, I admit I will walk down to this beach wearing socks with my sandals.  At the same time, I commit this beach fashion blunder; I have the gall not to carry a surfboard.  (The Beach Boys most definitely wouldn’t be impressed.)

On the trail down to the beach, the view of the Pacific is National Geographic quality.  This expanse of pristine blue water reminds me of the thrill we feel when we realize our dreams.  The world seems limitlessness, like we can be content surfing forever on the waves of our accomplishments.

Once on the beach, I usually take my sandals and socks off and carry them while I walk.  I blend in a little better strolling in my bare feet.

However, when I put socks back on my wet feet before hiking up the steep path to the parking lot, I inevitably get a plentiful amount of sand along with salt water in my socks.

The best plan when I get home would be to find the outside spigot and rinse out my socks.  However, I’ve developed what seemed at first like a much more efficient system.  I simply place my ocean-wet sand covered socks in a bag under my sink.

When we realize our dreams, sometimes the tendency is to hide them away.  We naturally do this to keep what we have gained safe from harm.  We may try to hide our oceanic dreams in a very small space like under a (metaphorical) sink.

But in this process of hiding what we most love, we often have to shrink the radiance and vastness of our dream.

And what happens?  I don’t know for sure.  But what I can tell you is that I’m starting to notice that the ocean stinks, (in fact smells downright rank) under my sink.  (And I don’t use rank lightly.)

This smell is educating me that the ocean has little desire to be hid under a sink.

The odor under my sink sets me to ponder:  Can we live with the vastness and radiance of all we are capable of creating in our lives without clinging to it like sand to a wet sock and trying to hide it away?

I say YES!  What do you say?

(I also say I best do something about those socks.)

Game of the Day

How are you treating the oceans in your life?

Hi! This Is A Conversation

I’ve noticed that sometimes lately upon walking into a store, when the sales person says “Hi,” I immediately just ask them for the product I want to buy.

It occurs to me now that this is a bit strange.  Would I do this at a party?  If someone I have never met said “Hi,” would I immediately ask, “Do you know where the food and drinks are?”

Of course not!  This approach is no way to make an acquaintance, let alone begin a friendship.

So why when I walked into the office supply store just an hour ago and one of the people who worked there said “Hi,” did I immediately ask if the office chair I wanted was in stock?

For all I know, the worker (I don’t have the faintest idea what his name is) could have become a great friend.  Instead, I began my exchange with this man in the same way I begin my exchanges with Google, by asking for what I wanted.  If this is the type of exchange I have with Google (no offense Google), why am I having it with people?

I realize that I need to make an effort not to make my Face Time be like my Google Time.  (Gosh, I never thought I would come to a point of writing about Face Time.  I feel so twenty-first century and yet somewhat nauseous all at once.)

When a person we don’t know says “Hi”, it is an opportunity to start a conversation.  (I know.  Social interaction Pre-101, but I think I need a refresher.)

Conversations needn’t be long to be a conversation.  I think one reason we are afraid of beginning a conversation is that we think it could or should go on and on.

A conversation can be short and still celebrate who someone is.  For example in the office supply store, I could have started a short conversation by offering the person assisting me just a simple expression of appreciation.  Something like, “Thanks so much for being here today.  I really appreciate your assistance.”

Interestingly enough, I had just come from the grand opening of a dance studio.  Now if some men have two left feet, I quite possibly have two left feet, to left hands and to two left elbows (can a person have two left elbows?)  At least this is my assessment of my dancing talent in my mind.

Yet, I danced West Coast Swing and Tango.   Was I dancing like a pro, a semi pro, or even an advanced beginner?  No, I was dancing like an extreme beginner.  AND having an advanced amount of fun!

It occurs to me that when we meet someone and only have time for a short conversation, we can dance into that conversation like an extreme beginner.

Will we ever know the perfect way to begin a short conversation with someone we don’t know?  Probably not!   When we meet anyone for the first time, we are learning to dance in conversation with him or her and they are learning to dance in conversation with us.

Each conversation we have with a person we have never met is a dance into an unknown.

Sometimes, we may feel like we have two left elbows, but when we dance in conversation with people we have just met even for only a minute, we are dancing, celebrating that we are human and they are human and the joy of being alive.  And who knows what will happen.  Great friendships and advanced fun can begin with a short conversation.

Game of the Day

Time to practice your dance moves.  Begin a short conversation with at least three people who you would usually have only a transaction with (think people working at the places you shop and eat or people at your place of work who maybe you have never talked to.)  Have advanced fun being an extreme beginner in these conversations.