Surrender to Life!

believe172I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying about winning the battle but losing the war. Well, what does that mean, and how does it happen? Oftentimes I think those who wish to accomplish great success have a certain mind-set. This mind-set is rooted in the concept that in order to achieve you must be fighting an uphill struggle constantly. The problem with this philosophy is that, sooner or later, you will deplete yourself of all your resources. I’ve spoken about this in a previous blog post, but, as time has gone on, I have become more and more aware of how it applies to my own life.

An incessant struggle ends up causing you a lot of anxiety and fear, whether you’re always consciously aware of it or not. To be the authentic You, the You that you want to be to surmount obstacles and use your unique potential, you have to establish and maintain an inner sense of peace and calm. Waves of turbulence would be fine if you were an ocean instead of a person. But you are a person and therefore should treat yourself with a certain amount of gentleness.

First of all, it’s essential that you let go of all fears you have about not achieving your goals or making your dreams into a reality. Secondly, it’s crucial that you understand that you’ll have to let go of some things in order to bring certain other and better things into your life. We usually associate the word “sacrifice” with something negative. It implies that you’re giving up something that you want or need. If you go on a diet, you might speak of sacrificing chocolate candy or ice cream or french fries or some other food that you particularly enjoy.

However, the sacrifice I’m speaking of should be regarded as something entirely beneficial for you and your  life. You may actually have to sacrifice your inordinate desire to succeed in order to experience true success. If that sounds like a contradiction on my part, let me explain.

When you experience a hunger for anything–whether it be food or fame, money or sex or something else–your body moves into a mode of tension that will not let up until your need is satisfied. But, what if that need cannot be immediately satisfied? How will you cope with a state of ceaseless tension or anxiety? The answer is, in letting go. Even if it seems like you are miles away from achieving anything significant, until you acknowledge the success that you’ve achieved thus far, no matter how minimal it seems to be, you will not accomplish more. To remind yourself constantly of that which you haven’t done or are not yet able to achieve will diminish your self-esteem and create a psychological barrier between you and ultimate accomplishment.

For most of my life, I’ve been someone who might easily be referred to as an overachiever. At the times when I’ve not achieved something, I’ve still maintained the mind-set of an overachiever. What does this mean? Well, I’ve always had difficulty relaxing and enjoying life for the miracle that it is.

Instead of living in the present, I’ve lived between a past in which I feel I haven’t accomplished enough and a future in which I have envisioned myself not accomplishing even half of what I might desire. Naturally, this has prevented me from experiencing the level of success that I might have enjoyed otherwise. And at this point in time, I recognize that I’ve been walking down the wrong path. Instead of walking down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City of my dreams, I’ve been walking through a forest of painful memories and shattered dreams. Rather than a fairy tale, I’ve been living in a nightmare of my own making. So, where did everything go wrong? How did I end up locking myself up in a dungeon of misery and dissatisfaction?

I don’t honestly think that we can always explain the twists and turns of life. Nor do I think we can necessarily analyze our choices and reactions to the circumstances that take place–no matter how much we might want to. To try to examine every detail of our existence would be like attempting to explain an exquisite work of art or to analyze a symphony or some other piece of complex music. We can conjecture and come to a few conclusions. But, just as many literary critics perceive what they wish to see in a work about which they’re writing, so we, when it comes to our lives, can only make random guesses as to why specific things have taken place.  Although it’s important to take responsibility for our lives and the choices we make, it’s impossible to completely comprehend many of our actions.

However, what we need is to surrender ourselves to life and that which comes our way. We need to combine striving for excellence with letting go of our fears of failure. When we come to a fork in the road of our lives, we need to stand still and actually listen to our own heartbeat. We’ll find ourselves at one with the harmony of the universe. There we’ll accept ourselves for the person that we are, in spite of whatever flaws or shortcomings we possess. That moment–the moment when we’re completely fearless–is when we will leave an open window for magic to come into our world. Miracles can only happen to those who are receptive to them, and fear is a great inhibitor. As long as you fear anything, whether it be failure or even death, you will not be able to use your full potential or experience personal success or fulfillment.

When I think of a story that demonstrates how easy it is to give up almost everything you have because of a desire to have achieved more in life, the classic black-and-white film It’s a Wonderful Life comes to mind. If you have seen the film, you probably remember how close George Bailey (played by actor Jimmy Stewart) came to ending his life. He had a beautiful wife he loved and who loved him as well as a healthy family and a host of friends.

But George reached that moment of despair when he could not look past the misery of the moment to the long-term consequences of a rash action. It was only through the divine intervention of an angel that he regained his faith in life and his desire to continue living. When that angel showed George what the lives of those whom he was thinking of deserting would be like if he committed suicide, George understood what a mistake it would be for him to end his life. In those minutes when George could only think of death, he also thought of all the exquisite dreams he had abandoned in order to live what some would think of as a humdrum existence as an “ordinary” husband and father and wage earner.  

In a way, the novel Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates echoes this same theme. It tells of a man and woman who end up living a life that neither of them would have chosen, simply because of a certain set of circumstances that came about. But whereas in Revolutionary Road the husband and wife don’t learn to accept their lives without constantly yearning for more, in It’s A Wonderful Life Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed manage to be content with what they have. Granted, a great deal more complexity exists in Yates’ novel than there is in the nostalgic holiday film. But each has a valuable message we can apply to ourselves and our lives.

Moreover, I think a valid point can be made–namely, that we can destroy ourselves by never being satisfied with what life has brought us. This lack of satisfaction is one reason that society is full of people who live in a continual state of unhappiness. They assume that another child, a new car or gadget, a new house, a trip to Europe, or something similar will give them the joy and satisfaction that they have not yet found. But, joy begins with a state of mind that lives in the present–a state of mind that can look at the beauty in everyday existence rather than at that which hasn’t yet been accomplished or acquired.

In another blog post some two months ago, I spoke about the importance of having a “vision”. Well, to have a vision is necessary. But not if it means that you’re incapable of enjoying today. You must surrender yourself to the present in order to get in touch with your destiny. And you must also surrender your ideas about how things must be in order to leave room for your subconscious to guide you. Unlike your conscious mind which acts like a self-critic, who is always there to tell you what won’t work or what you cannot do, your subconscious mind allows you the freedom to explore a myriad of possibilities in every aspect of your life.  When you’re guided by your subconscious, it’s like being a child again–fearless and intrepid, without mental tapes playing in your mind telling you about all the things that are unrealistic or unacceptable or just plain “bad”.

There will always be critics out there to try to make you feel less capable than you are. A few naysayers have told this Success Diva that I’m too compassionate and that I care too much for others. I’ve also been criticized for calling myself a “diva” since the term can have negative connotations.  But it’s our lives we’re leading–not someone else’s. We have to do what we think is best. When you start freely using such words as “Powerful” and “Successful” about yourself, some people will actually back away from you. But it’s only because it evokes feelings of inadequacy and/or insecurity in them.

Do not ever be afraid to go after that which you want with gusto and determination. Those who sit or stand on the sidelines watching the show are there because they did not dare to take part in the production. Seldom is it a lack of talent or intelligence or good looks or personality which prevents someone from achieving his or her goals. Generally, it is fear–either fear of criticism or fear of failure, or a little bit of both. Although it’s rarely possible to be completely impervious to other people’s opinions, it’s nevertheless crucial that you follow your own instincts and make the choices that you know in your heart are best for you, regardless of what others may think.

One thing that you must be prepared for is abandonment by some of your friends and, perhaps,  even family members. When you start to transform yourself from a timid or fearful person who felt incapable of making big dreams come true into someone who’s willing to step onto that path that will take him or her to his or her dreams, you’ll notice that some people simply can’t handle it. It isn’t that these people want you to fail, per se. They simply do not want you to succeed.

As difficult as it may be to comprehend, they would rather see a stranger excel in your chosen field than they would you. Of course, they will only end up bringing unhappiness into their lives with this type of mind-set. However, everyone is at a certain place in his or her life. And some people truly are not yet at the place where they can allow others to succeed when they themselves are not successful.

Every year, many people turn on the Academy Awards Ceremony to see actors and actresses whom they revere win coveted  gold statuettes that they themselves wish they could possess. Oftentimes, those who watch these award shows with such intense interest covet the fame and glory that these celebrities have gained. Yet, would these same envious onlookers be willing to make the sacrifices that those actors and actresses have made? Would they have been willing to wait tables just to pay for acting classes? Would they have given up spending money on things they desired, but didn’t need, in order to pay for training in singing, dancing, modeling, or acting? You might be surprised to learn how infrequently people are willing to sacrifice their immediate wants for their long-term dreams.

This brings me to what I said about winning the battle but losing the war. What are you holding onto in your life right now that you would need to give up in order to start making your dreams come true? Would you have to stop watching so much television? Would you have to stop drinking excessively? Would you have to make dietary changes or start managing your finances more shrewdly? Only you know what changes are necessary, and only you can decide whether it’s worth making those changes. If you would rather just survive instead of thrive, then you can continue living as you are now. However, if you would like to experience the sheer ecstasy of thriving, if you would like to stop being tormented by the chaos of the world around you, if you have goals that seem more like wishes because you see no hope of them coming true, tap into that courage and resilience that you already have within you and surrender to your destiny!

Make the most of today and cherish every moment! Live with passion, enthusiasm, courage, and confidence. Live Without Limits, Success Diva style!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

 

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This page and all written material at the Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

Finding your purpose. . .

believe19Although it’s not something a lot of people are ready to accept, the first and most essential step to changing your life is taking complete responsibility for every choice you make. In a way, this sounds like it might be dis-empowering. When we make a mistake, it doesn’t feel pleasant to acknowledge the role we played in it. We would prefer to blame someone else. . .or something else. . .or the weather. . .or fate. . . .or some unseen force. To blame ourselves, particularly when we feel like we were simply naive or too trusting, is painful. Yes, it is painful, but what you have to ascertain is whether or not you would rather deal with the short-term pain now or with long-term misery later.

Have you ever heard the saying about winning the battle but losing the war? This is something I’ve given thought to this week as I’ve been tempted to react to thoughtless critcism in a way that would have been destructive to both me and those who criticized me. Sometimes we have to weigh the importance of a situation—we have to consider whether or not it’s truly significant from a long-range perspective. There will always be people who, for whatever reason, don’t like us. We can spend time trying to figure out why they have negative feelings towards us or we can forget about them and move towards those who do support us and encourage us. It’s essential that we learn to conserve our energy so that we can use it on the tasks that really matter. Energy is as precious as time, and neither one can be replaced. No matter how many cups of coffee or cans of soda you drink or how many pieces of candy you may consume, your natural energy cannot be fully replenished in a day once it is gone.

I remember reading about how the consummate French author, Honore de Balzac, managed to keep himself awake throughout the wee hours of the morning by drinking pots of black coffee. Balzac was not a person with a large amount of self-discipline; so, he was forced to deprive himself of sleep because he frittered so much time away carousing, drinking, and enjoying himself. Although many of Balzac’s books are among the finest of all European literature, you have to wonder how much more he might have accomplished if he had learned how to take responsibility for himself and his choices. None of us really wants to be at the mercy of such substances as alcohol or drugs nor do we want to have to rely on caffeine to keep us awake. This is why getting a clear mental picture of where we are going in our lives is of primary importance.

“Am I talking about a vision again?” you may ask.  In a way, I am. But I’m also talking about a purpose. Someone who wrote me this week and said some very discouraging things about my role as a Success Diva implied that I was merely encouraging people to go after a life of fame, fortune, and personal glory. Well, since this person misunderstood me to such a great extent, I feel it’s incumbent on me to clarify my intentions to all of you. There is no amount of money on earth that will bring you happiness or fulfillment. As for fame, it is fleeting, and often leads to months and years of solitude, misery, and isolation. I am not suggesting that anyone seek fancy cars, expensive clothes, opulent houses, or other material possessions in order to achieve happiness or success. Success, according to this diva’s frame of reference, is the usage of one’s full and unique potential. It is the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing that you have done something that you’re proud of and that makes you feel worthwhile. It’s the feeling of contentment and self-satisfaction you get when you look at your life and realize that you have more to be grateful for than you could have ever dreamed of. Success begins with discovering and embracing the reason that you were put on this earth—and then doing everything within your power to make sure your life has not been lived in vain.

Think about a tree. When it’s first planted, does it seem to be full of promise? Do you look at it and become enraptured by its radiance and splendor? Or do you look at it as being full of potential? And, after you’ve planted it, what would happen if you decided to go pull it up after a few weeks because it didn’t appear to be growing? You and I both know what would happen. You would never look forward to the experience of seeing that fragile sapling grow into a tree of strength and resilience. Well, we are not so different from the young tree. We  begin as saplings, too. Unfortunately, we often remain saplings because we do not allow ourselves the chance to sink our roots deep into the ground. Rather, we allow the gutsy winds of life to cause us to fall down, and, even though we sometimes sense that we have the tenacity to get back up, if we don’t use this tenacity the first time we’re knocked down, it becomes easier and easier to let the storms leave us in a state of permanent decay. At a certain point, we’re not even fresh young saplings anymore. Instead, we’re rotten trees with broken branches and cracks that seem too severe to ever mend.

Recently, I read about Walt Disney, and how he fought so hard to hold onto his dreams when everyone told him that his ideas were outrageous and unrealistic. Nowadays, Disney has his share of critics because people are so narrow-minded that they cannot look past the Walt Disney Pictures that we’re familiar with today and focus on the man behind it all. It’s tragic when people associate an individual and his or her specific dreams with those who carry on those dreams in years to come. Personally, I think Walt Disney had one of the most ingeniously creative minds in history. He was a pioneer. . .a trendsetter. . .a man who continued to go after his dreams, in spite of countless obstacles. Now what’s not to admire about that?  What amazes me is that Walt Disney suffered two nervous breakdowns at critical times of his life. So often, we think of nervous breakdowns as being something that those who are truly icons of success do not succumb to. And yet, time after time, I encounter details about famous authors, artists, musicians, actors/actresses, and other creative artists having mental and emotional breakdowns. It almost seems like having to overcome a setback of such a devastating nature strengthens the resolve of these determined individuals. Is that possible? If so, we have been overlooking a secret to ultimate success that those who have achieved great things have known all along. Namely, this secret is that, if we take any negative experience that happens to us, whether it be significant or not and reverse its affect, so that it makes us stronger rather than weaker, our chances of success have actually improved because of the setback. Hey, I realize that’s a radical concept.  . .but this diva is radical.  Indeed, what I’m slowly starting to discover is that only in combining radical, cutting-edge ideas with more solid philosophies and “traditional” thought patterns will I be able to be the diva I want to be. It’s the mix of the daring with the tame. . .the spontaneous with the carefully considered. . .the old with the new. . .the spicy with the sweet.  You’re never going to make an impact on anyone if you’re not flexible. You have to be willing to take leaps of faith, even if you worry that they’re too risky. Fear is something to overcome–not something to run from.

Walt Disney didn’t let his breakdowns cause him to let go of his ultimate goal. So, why should you let petty annoyances and narrow-minded people cause you to renounce your dreams? Most of the time, the things we spend so much time thinking about aren’t even important. And most of the people who try to cause us to fall down are of no consequence at all.  If they were really worthwhile people, they would know that true success is only achieved by building others up. For only when you are willing to extend a hand to help another person make the life they desire a reality will you be ready to embrace your own dreams. Sure, some of your dreams may come true, even if you do mistreat those around you. But your dream of personal fulfillment and of inner happiness will never be yours. And no matter what any of us try to say, we all have at least one thing in common—we want to feel a certain sense of satisfaction with ourselves. We want to have respect for the person we are. Yet how can we ever respect ourselves if we achieve our goals at the expense of others?

This is why I have emphasized the importance of seeing life as a team effort. Remember how I compared us to the clans of meerkats on the television show, “Meerkat Manor”? If you didn’t read that particular post, I’ll elucidate a bit. On the cable channel, Animal Planet, there’s a successful show called “Meerkat Manor”. It centers on the day-to-day existence of families of meerkats. And unlike human beings, who often seem to have no instinctual desire to support each other, meerkats undertake every situation that arises as if it’s a team sport. The result is that, most of the time, the meerkats know that they can rely on each other. It’s sad to think that, in some ways, we are more selfish than meerkats, but I’m afraid it’s true. So many people have bought into what I call a “scarcity mentality” which essentially focuses on the idea that you must lose so that I can win. In reality, what often happens is that both you and I will lose. This is why this philosophy is so toxic, and why it leads to disappointment and unhappiness. On the other hand, the “abundance mentality” centers around the concept that both you and I can win because there is plenty of success, joy, love, and happiness to go around. We don’t have to fervently hold onto our little sliver of the pie, for we know that there will always be more pie where that pie came from. Our willingness to freely share the pie with others ensures that there will be more than plenty for us.

The “abundance mentality” can also be applied to the love and affection we demonstrate towards others. The more we are willing to demonstrate our caring and compassion to the people that surround us, the more likely it is that we will receive a significant amount of caring and compassion in return. That which flows outwards tends to flow back in eventually. It’s part of the way the world works. So, the next time you are tempted to treat someone with cruelty or thoughtlessness, think about the fact that what you are giving will at some point be received by you. And when another person mistreats you, always remember that they will end up bearing the brunt of their mistreatment—not you. The only thing we ever have any power over is our own life. What anybody else does or says to us is outside of our control. 

This is why you must take charge of all of your choices right now. Once you separate the things you really can change from those  you are powerless to do anything about, you’ll be one step closer to designing the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Have fun. . .and make each moment matter!

Until soon,

Alexis, Your Success Diva

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This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

Born to be you!

believe52 (star-born to be you)Close your eyes for a moment. If you can’t do this now, do it as soon as you possibly can. I want you to envision yourself at a time in your life when you believed that anything was possible. If you’re anything like me, this may have been so far back that you can barely remember it. But, if you can, even if you were four or five years of age, I want you to return to that time. Really soak in that sensation you had that you were invincible, and that the only thing that could keep you from achieving something was if you made a choice not to pursue it. How does returning to that moment in time when you felt the world was at your feet make you feel?? Are you experiencing any feelings of sadness because you weren’t able to hold on to that unconquerable belief in yourself for a longer period of time?? Well, let go of any disappointment, discouragement, and/or unhappiness and listen to your diva when she tells you that you can recapture that faith in yourself that you once had. You were born to fulfill a certain role. . .to accomplish a specific purpose in the world. And just as this was the case when you were five or ten years old, so it is also the case at this point in your life. No matter how many curves you have had to evade or how many setbacks have come your way, the only thing that can actually prevent you from making your dreams come true is you. “What?” you interject. “But you don’t understand, Success Diva. I have all these bills piling up, and I’ve been out of work for six months, and my husband left me two years ago with three kids to support. I’m not the one who is keeping me from living the life of my dreams.” You aren’t?? Then who, if I may ask, is preventing you from it?? If you try to blame circumstances or someone else for the fact that life isn’t giving you what you feel you deserve, then aren’t you giving away your own personal power?? I remember when I first listened to the CD program, Personal Power, by the motivational speaker and author, Anthony Robbins. It was a mind-blowing experience for me! In fact, I wasn’t really ready for it when I first heard it. Some of Tony’s concepts seemed to take me so far out of what I perceived to be my personal “comfort zone” that I began to be reluctant to listen to his advice. I didn’t think that I had it in me to become all that Tony told me I could become, and hearing him speak of all this untapped potential inside of me was. . .well. . .just a little bit intimidating. In other words, I was allowing myself to fall into what I would call the Fear Trap. I was so afraid that I might not be able to succeed the way that Tony was trying to persuade me into believing I could that it was easier to put the CDs back on the shelf. And that happens to be exactly what I did!

Do I regret my choice?? Well, yes. . .and no. I think that there’s a right and a wrong time for everything. We aren’t all at the same place in our lives, and it’s even possible that some of you reading this blog aren’t yet ready to step forward and really start making things happen in your life. That’s okay. Although I love my friend and foremost inspiration Denis Waitley’s quote about there being plenty of time to win but no time to lose, I also understand that not everybody is ready to take on the role of a winner. However, if you’re one of Success Diva’s supporters, there’s a good chance that you’re at least halfheartedly committed to making your dreams a reality. There’s even a possibility that all you need is a little extra encouragement to get you running down the yellow brick road to that Emerald City I’ve spoken of before. You know, when you think about all the people who have had to overcome obstacles that you and I can only vaguely imagine to accomplish magnificent things, you have to admit that you don’t have much of an excuse to be what you might call a bystander in life’s game. One thing that  helps me is focusing on people who inspire me. This is one reason I’ve created two Icons of Inspiration Photo Albums over at Facebook. Actresses like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Angelina Jolie are ladies whom I will always look up to, and those who have inspired millions of people through their generosity of spirit and compassionate deeds, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and Princess Diana, cannot help but make me feel more determined than ever to continue to pursue my goals with passion, persistence, perseverance, and a definitive sense of purpose. At the same time, I always remember that I am uniquely me. That is, I wasn’t born to be anyone else nor do I compare myself to any other person.

When I think about someone who has always genuinely embraced his individuality, I would have to mention the actor, Sylvester Stallone. He has often made comments that indicated he didn’t feel that he was blessed with a first-class intellect, and he’s also been largely criticized for his acting capabilities. But, you know what? Sylvester Stallone should be a role model for a person who has dreams that seem beyond his or her grasp. During the 1970s, when Sylvester Stallone barely had enough money to eat, he decided to start writing. On most days, he stayed up until dawn writing. Even though most people would have regarded his efforts as merely the result of wishful thinking, Stallone believed in himself enough to press on until he had completed the screenplay that would eventually be the basis for the film, “Rocky”. And when he was offered $300,000 to sell the rights to his screenplay to a filmmaker, on the condition that he didn’t play the lead role, Stallone was committed enough to his dream of playing the lead to refuse the offer. Now, in some situations, not being willing to compromise could easily mean that a person loses what seems to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, when you have a dream in your heart and you commit every fibre of your being to that dream, you can’t let anyone steal it from you, even if holding on to it seems like an unwise decision. As you and I both know, Stallone made the right choice because he ended up having the chance to play the role of Rocky Balboa, and he was even nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his work. Although he was only paid minimum wage for his work in the film, Stallone admitted later that he would have played the part for free. That is how dedicated he was to making his dream come true.

So, how dedicated are you? Or have you determined what your ultimate dream is? Are you still searching for your purpose or do you have a definite aim? A lot of motivational experts encourage you to write what is called a “personal mission statement”, and I don’t think this is a bad idea. In fact, it can be very profitable because it forces you to really look at  your life from a distance. In other words, you are unable to let yourself get too caught up in the chaos of the moment. Rather, you are compelled to really review and ascertain what your permanent destination is.  When I use the term “permanent destination”, I am not speaking of death, which is indeed inevitable for all of us. What I’m talking about is your ultimate goal—the thing that you most want in your life, the accomplishment or series of accomplishments that would mean more to you than anything else. For someone who is in medical school, a mission statement would probably include a few key phrases about the kind of doctor they want to be. Rather than simply focusing on academic achievements, a mission statement should center around the contribution that a woman or man in medical school would like to make to medicine and to the lives of his/her patients in his or her career as a doctor. Am I making sense?? In other words, if you wanted to be a well-known actor or actress, simply saying “I want to be one of the most famous actors/actresses in the world” would not constitute a successful mission statement. Why? Well, those of us who understand what true success is all about realize that fame, fortune, and superificial acclaim will not ever fill that internal void within ourselves. And isn’t that really what striving towards the life of your dreams is all about?? Isn’t it about creating a life that gives you a sense of self-fulfillment on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis? I remembering hearing the actress, Angelina Jolie, in an interview awhile back, and being impressed with what she said about how her decision to adopt children from underprivileged countries and to visit and do the charitable work she has done has prevented her from continuing in what she called a “self-destructive lifestyle”. Instead of continuing on a downward spiral that would inevitably have landed her in what your Success Diva terms the “Pit of Despair”, Jolie turned her life around by changing the way she saw the world and by altering her own personal value system. When Jolie was in her 20s, her life was centered mostly around her own desires and concerns, but as she has entered her 30s, she has begun to reach out more and more to other people until, at this point, she is a true icon of inspiration. And this brings to mind something I was recently reading about what’s called the “Hierarchy of  Needs”,  according to psychologist Abraham Maslow. Our first set of needs are very basic and pertain to things that are essential to our health and lives, such as water, food, and oxygen. But by the time we reach our fourth set of needs, the focus shifts to such things as self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. And by the time we get to our fifth set of needs, we enter into an entirely different aspect of ourselves because the focus is on what is called self-actualization. What is self-actualization? To sum it up at its most basic level, it is the sense that we are doing what we are most suited to—in other words, it is the pursuit of what we perceive to be our life’s purpose. If you don’t think that you have a purpose in life, you’re wrong. Without a purpose, you wouldn’t be here in the world. Each and every one of us has what is called a purpose, and, as I’ve stated before, it hasn’t anything to do with religion or a person’s spiritual beliefs. Even if you don’t think that you believe you have a purpose, in your heart you know you do. If you didn’t know that, you would have ended your life years ago because you wouldn’t have seen any reason for continuing to exist. No matter how hopeless you have felt at certain times, if you’re still alive, deep within you, whether you’re fully aware of it or not, you have a sense of purpose. And in order for you to ever realize or use your full potential, you must acknowledge and embrace that purpose. You will never be able to completely escape that which you were designed to do. I know this to be true because I have done my best to repress my own innate belief that I was destined to be a writer. Why? Well, like so many other people—including you, quite possibly—I allowed myself to be coerced into living in fear. My fear that I would not be able to achieve success in the field of writing unconsciously persuaded me into pursuing other careers.  I will never regret the time I spent acting and modeling, and I also learned a lot from my attempt to have a career as an artist. But, even though I fully enjoyed these endeavors, I always had a nagging sense within myself that what I was really supposed to be doing was not what I was spending my time and energy on. I used to come home from theater rehearsals with a deep sense of discontentment, and, when I finished a painting I was always left with a sense of emptiness, even if I was pleased with my work. I can’t help but think of the American author Carson McCullers who trained to be a concert pianist before she ever pursued a career as a writer. I’m sure that a part of her never felt entirely satisfied when she was practicing the piano, even though she undoubtedly loved music and believed that performing on concert stages around the world was what she was most suited to do. I think her pain at not having her musical career work out as she intended is beautifully conveyed in her short story, “Wunderkind”. However, just because McCullers experienced regret over the fact her musical dreams came to an end does not mean that she didn’t eventually realize that being a writer was really her personal destiny. It can take years for some of us to let go of the dreams that didn’t come true. Yet, until we are willing to do so, the dreams of the future will never be ours.  Each one of us has a map that is uniquely our own—a blueprint that is centered around that which we are destined to do. We are born to be ourselves. . .and born to contribute something exceptional to the world and to the lives of those around us. Whether what we end up contributing is something that brings us fame or recognition or not, it is something that will give us a sense of inner contentment and satisfaction. And if we let ourselves buy into the erroneous idea that we have to subscribe to the limited ideas that others try to pass on to us or hold onto the limiting beliefs that we have allowed ourselves to adopt, we will end up dying with all our potential still inside us. Which would you rather do?? Would you rather commit yourself to fully using all your talents and capabilities or would you rather watch while others who do choose to believe in themselves make their dreams come true? I can only inspire and encourage you—I’m a diva of success, not a miracle worker. So, even though I am willing to support you every step of the way, you have to be the one to make the magic happen in your life.  You can blame other people, complain about the injustice of the world, or find a dozen excuses for why you haven’t made full use of  your potential, or you can start making the choices today that will enable you to live a life of true significance. The choice is yours.  . .and only you can make it.

Live each moment of today with enthusiasm and passion, and don’t let anyone steal your dreams from you!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

Am I just another self-help guru?

When I started this blog, my intention was to present everything from my own personal perspective. That is, I didn’t want to rely on the information I had absorbed from the books on success, creating the ‘life of your dreams’, and other similar topics that I’ve read through the years. Now perhaps it’s inevitable that some of the insight this diva shares with you has been influenced by the motivational books she’s read and the tapes and CDs she has listened to.  But. . .I will say that I’m not directly or intentionally ‘borrowing’ other people’s ideas. To truly live life fully and richly, I think each of us has to be a ‘sponge’ to a certain extent. That is, I believe that we must absorb as much as we can from the information and knowledge that others pass on to us. Don’t you agree? If, for instance, we are able to walk into a meadow covered with red poppies and yet we fail to notice the color and beauty of the poppies. . .I would have to ask, are we observant enough? If we can look at a rainbow in the sky and not be struck with its radiance, what has happened to that child we once were? Do you remember the first time you felt the rain against your skin or the first time that you saw snow fall from the sky? How old were you? A cousin of mine had to help her daughter with a school paper a couple of years ago, and the subject of the paper was her daughter’s ‘first snow.’ What was interesting—and yes, also a little sad—is that my cousin couldn’t remember the first time her daughter had seen snow. She could remember when the family dog had gone out for the first time in the snow because she had taken pictures of him wallowing in it. But the memory of her daughter walking or playing in the snow had clearly vanished from her mind. How many of us truly do fail to remember some of the most important moments of our lives?

The Success Diva got a message from someone who had happened upon her site this afternoon. It said: “In response to whether or not I am living the life of my dreams, what I am living is the lie of my dreams.” The first question I wanted to ask this person was, And are you happy living a lie? Is that what your dream is, a life of lies? However, I chose not to respond at all, for I understood long ago that there are only certain people who will be open to the advice I share. Some people have already closed themselves off from certain things. They have chosen the frame for the painting that is their life and they are unwilling to look around for a larger and more beautiful frame. Generally, these same individuals have also chosen the colors that they will make use of to paint the picture of their lives.  And no matter how limited that palette of colors is, unless they come to the point where they want to experiment and try new and different colors, they will be limiting themselves to painting exclusively in those colors.  Have you ever looked at a painting by an artist such as Monet, Chagall, Gaugin, or Van Gogh in a museum and wondered how many different shades of blue, and yellow, and red, and green it must have taken for them to create a masterpiece like that? Do you know anything about the life of Jan Vermeer? Have you, by any chance, seen the film “The Girl With the Pearl Earring?” Are you aware of what great pains Vermeer took to create the shades of paint that he wanted? For example, lapis lazuli was used to obtain a specific shade of blue. Vermeer was never wealthy, but because he was living his life with passion and pursuing that which brought him fulfillment he was able to create the life of his dreams. Having money, fame, and fortune is not something that anyone can ever promise you. And, no matter how many changes you make in your life or how open you are to the Success Diva’s suggestions, wealth and international renown are things that are never guaranteed. Many of you probably would say that you wouldn’t even want such things as you are not interested in material possessions or public acclaim. However, some people do deny that they desire that which they secretly yearn for. When the world mourned the death of pop icon Michael Jackson, they were also mourning the fact that they no longer had another person’s fame to be a part of. As difficult as it might be for some of Jackson’s fans to admit, the reason that his life and career had such an impact on them was because the part of them that had been unfulfilled was living through Jackson’s accomplishments. To look at someone like Jackson and see that he is living what you perceive to be the life of his dreams can make you feel both admiration and envy, even if you are unwilling to confess that you feel the least bit envious. And, of course, there are those people who have already reconciled themselves to the life they’re living right now, no matter how unhappy or unsuccessful it is. For these people, immersing themselves in the fame and glory of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, and Madonna is a way to distract them from the fact that they have so many dreams that they have already chosen to push aside. In a way, focusing on the lives of those who are living the sorts of lives that most of us only fantasize about is a way to escape our own inner discontentment. But as you probably have guessed, trying to escape from the pain, emptiness, and unhappiness you are feeling inside is only a temporary antidote. Sooner or later, you will have to face that pain, that emptiness, and that unhappiness.  And the longer you wait to do so, the more difficult it will be to do so.

Sometimes I feel like the things I am telling you must seem as if they come from others who have tried to inspire people via through books, seminars, tape programs, and so forth. Hence the title of this blog post, Am I just Another Self-Help Guru? To be honest, I easily could be just that. However, I often get the feeling that some of those people are more interested in the benefits that the advice they are sharing with others will bring them—such as money and fame—than they are with truly helping other people. I do see why there might be a certain amount of skepticism in regard to anyone who says that her mission in life is to reach out to others and help them create the life of their dreams. In a world where so many people are only looking out for #1 (i.e., themselves), why shouldn’t someone be looking for the Success Diva to have a hidden agenda? All I can say, in response to the cynics and skeptics is that every bit of advice and insight I am sharing with others comes straight from the heart of this diva. If I didn’t completely believe everything I’m telling all of you, I wouldn’t have created this blog in the first place! I’m certain that many of you think that the Success Diva must have a life that’s pretty much in keeping with what the life of her dreams would be if she is going out of her way to share her suggestions and the wisdom that she has gained from her experiences with you. Well, the truth is that the life I am living now and the life that I want to have are two entirely separate things. However, I have made the choice to build the ship that will steer me to that other side of the ocean where the life of my dreams awaits me. You see, whether we like it or not, our lives are going to pass whether we make the most of them or not. If we choose to let opportunities pass us by. . .if we decide not to opt for happiness or love when it comes our way. . .well, the only person who is going to miss out on anything is us. Although it would please me greatly if I knew that all of you were living happy, fulfilled, and successful lives, whether you make the choices that will make this possible or not isn’t something that will directly affect me. I do know some of you, but there are many of you whom I don’t know and never will know. To imagine that my life will be impacted greatly whether you live the life of your dreams or not is not logical or realistic. Yes, it will sadden me to think that you have chosen to deprive yourself of the happiness, love, success, and joy that could have been yours for the asking. . .but knowing that I have done all I could to help you bring these things into your life will be enough to leave me with a feeling of contentment. As I have said before, nobody, including your Success Diva, can change your life for you. You have to do that. And to all those detractors and naysayers, all I can say is that if you are truly happy living in the box you have chosen to place yourself and your life in, then continue living exactly as you are now. Who’s going to stop you? Not this diva! She’s busy enough sharing her insight and input with those who are genuinely open to receiving it.

Live today with passion. . .make every moment matter!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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How badly do you want it?

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get all the lucky breaks? Have you noticed how opportunities come their way that you honestly don’t think they deserve? Do you ever feel almost humiliated by seeing others succeed where you have failed, even though you know that they aren’t nearly as smart, savvy, and gifted as you are? And do you feel guilty because you are envious of their success? I know I’ve been in this sort of situation before, and I can tell you, it’s not a scenario you want to see happening in your life again and again. At least, I assume it isn’t. . .or you wouldn’t be here, at Success Diva’s blog.

So. . .why do you think this is? That is, why are people who don’t have even half of your potential getting the opportunties that you would like? Why is your best friend with the woman or man that you would like to be dating, living with, or married to?? Is it because they’re just blessed by the gods, by some unseen deity that has magically given them all their heart’s desires, like Cinderella, whose path from rags to riches was aided by the help of a benevolent fairy godmother? No. You and I both know that ‘luck’ is a word that we use when we haven’t spent a lot of time analyzing why good fortune befalls someone else. . .or even, for that matter, befalls us. It is a bit of a catch-all word, and it’s probably not beneficial to use it too often because true luck is much rarer than you might think. What luck usually is just happens to be. . .and even if this sounds unbelievable, think about it and I suspect you’ll come to see I’m right. . .what we call luck is usually preparation that meets opportunity.  Now the classic film actress, Lana Turner, supposedly was discovered in a drug store—while she was sipping an ice cream soda, I believe. But guess what? It just so happens that, in spite of being thought by many as simply a “sex symbol” and “a dumb blonde,” Lana Turner was a very wise and calculating business woman, who managed her career in a way that few female movie stars of her time were able to match. She may have been initially thought of as merely a “Sweater Girl,” but she went on to have a career that lasted through the 1960s, and when you look at her unforgettable performances in such movies as the stunning film adaptation of James Cain’s  novella, The Postman Always Rings Twice, it’s easy to see why Lana Turner was not only a legend in her own time. . .but in our time, as well.  There are always things to be learned from those who are at the top of their chosen field, and I would advise making sure that you know at least one or two persons who are extremely successful in whatever career you are either pursuing or are currently sustaining. Do not be shy about asking Mr. or Ms. Top-of-Their-Field about how they achieved all that they have accomplished. Shyness can be very charming in personal relationships, particularly in relationships with the opposite sex (or, if you are gay, then with the same sex, but on a romantic level). However, when it comes to your career, banish shyness as if it were lethal! This doesn’t mean you are supposed to come across as a steamroller. You are never going to be able to get people to be interested in giving you their time or attention if you pursue them like a bee going after a pot of honey. Subtlety is very useful as well as tact. Also, no matter how unsuccessful you feel you are, there is no point in lavishing the person you admire with too much praise. For example, if you are an aspiring novelist and you manage to strike up an acqaintanceship (or friendship) with a successfully published author, do not treat him or her as if they were superhuman. I assure you that he/she is a mere mortal, just as you and I and everyone else is. During my career as a stage actress, I was always meeting directors and other actors that people I knew seemed to be intimidated by. I was even told, at one point, “You mustn’t let so-and-so intimidate you,” even though I gave no indication of being intimidated by the person in question. People will simply assume that if you haven’t reached the pinnacle of success in your field that someone else has, you will be intimidated or in awe of that immensely accomplished person. But here’s a bit of advice that you must store in your memory bank: Never be in awe of anyone or anything. The minute you start feeling yourself inclined to be in awe of a person or a thing, you will immediately diminish your own power. You will begin to behave awkwardly and/or nervously, and you will probably end up making some unneccessary blunders. When you meet someone famous or widely recognized, treat them just as if they were anyone else. If you are accustomed to smiling and introducing yourself, do so. If you usually extend your hand when you meet an ‘ordinary’ person, extend your hand to the Mr. or Ms. Top-of-Their Field. Look, I don’t care if you’re a film actress who has only gotten bit parts thus far and you end up in a conversation with Julia Roberts, act nonchalant . Be courteous, compliment the person on something they’ve accomplished (and be as specific as you can, since this will lend an aura of sincerity to your compliment), but do not tremble, giggle anxiously, shift your weight from one foot to the other, or demonstrate any body language that would indicate you were in some way overwhelmed.

The sitatuation is, whether you think this is true or not, the main reason that person has gotten where you want to go but haven’t yet gotten to is because that is how badly they wanted whatever it is they got. What?, you ask, shaking your head with incredulity. Do you mean to say that Success Diva is saying that I can write as well as Salman Rushdie even though I haven’t yet even managed to have one of my short stories published? Of course that’s not what I’m saying. Success Diva isn’t irrational—and she isn’t going to feed you any lies, even if you would like her to. When I say that Mr. or Ms. Top-of-Their Field got where they wanted to go because of how badly they wanted to get there, I mean several different things, and I will go through them one by one. It may take more than one blog post for me to address this issue, and if it does, I don’t mind because this is one of the most important lessons your Success Diva can teach you. To want something badly enough to get it means you will do almost anything to get it. Am I making sense? And, no, I’m not suggesting that you make a pact with the devil. This blog isn’t going to give you any. . .well, spiritual advice (*wink*).

What I am saying is that to make your dreams come true and accomplish the goals that are important to you, you are going to have to decide what the thing you want so much is worth to you. What sacrifices would you have to make in your life to get the career you would like to have, find your ideal job, or marry or be in a committed relationship with the man/woman of your dreams? What would you  have to be willing to give up? Do you know? Would you have to stop drinking so much? If alcohol is an addiction, would you have to be willing to give it  up? Would you have to stop letting distractions prevent you from focusing on the novel you’re trying to write? Would you have to turn off your TV for at least 22 hours out of every 24-hour day? Or would you have to turn off the TV entirely? Would you have to stop eating anything you like and start making wiser and more nourishing dietary choices? Might you need to join a gym or a health club? Or, looking at things from a more serious perspective, might you have to give up a job you have now but realize has no future, even if you’re out of work for awhile? If you have an active social life, might you have to start staying at home more? If you’re in a relationship that isn’t healthy or happy at the moment, will you have to break it off if you ever want to be with someone whom you are truly compatible with?? These would all be tough choices to have to make. . .but, hey, you’re reading Success Diva’s blog. So, I’m assuming you are willing to make the changes that will give you the successful and fulfilled life that you both want and deserve.

Now I can predict what some of you are probably thinking. You’re thinking that I’m telling you different things than you’re hearing from your friends and family. They say that you should abandon that novel and put your energy into your job because you’ll probably never find any publisher who will accept it anyway. They tell you that you might as well marry the boyfriend or girlfriend you’re with right now because. . .well, he/she is probably the best you can do. They tell you that you’ll just end up spending money to purchase a membership at a health club or gym, when you most likely won’t stick with it, even if you do make it through a couple of aerobics classes and go lift a few weights every now and then. They say that you should put those dreamy ideas about fame, success, and fortune right of your head and “get back into the real world.”

And what should you say to them? Thank them for their input but forget you ever heard it. Ah, but that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?? Look, even if these ‘well-meaning’ people think they have your best interests at heart, ask yourself this: why aren’t they willing to encourage you and support you even if they believe you’re being unrealistic?? No, your Success Diva isn’t saying they’re jealous. . .although that is a possibility you should consider, in certain circumstances. What I am saying is that ‘they’—whoever ‘they’ may be (whether a close friend, spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc.)–are refusing to see your dream for you, most likely because their dreams haven’t come true for them. Have you ever noticed that more often than not, those who are at the top of their field seem to be more encouraging and optimistic in regard to your endeavors than those who are stranded in the desert of mediocrity? If so, why do you think this is? Because they haven’t anything to lose if  you succeed, too. They understand that there’s enough success to go around for everyone. . . .not just them. They don’t have to worry, either, that if you succeed, you’ll end up leaving them behind. In other words, if you’re friends right now with someone who is well-known in his/her field, if  you should also succeed in the same field, he/she won’t be worrying that you’ll suddenly think that he/she isn’t ‘important’ enough for you to be friends with. On the other hand, even your closest family members and/or your spouse may worry that, if you should go out there and really make a splash in your chosen career, that, even if  you don’t mean to,  you’ll end up leaving them, getting tired of them, or neglecting them. Is this understandable? Absolutely. If they feel this way does this mean that they (or he/she) doesn’t love you?? Absolutely not. You are simply threatening their innate sense of security. And if security is very important to them, they really will continue to fear that you’ll abandon them no matter how many times you assure them otherwise. However, all you can do is let them know that you will never change, even if you become one of the most famous persons in your respective field. In other words, if you are married or in a relationship with a man or woman whom you deeply love and want to remain with for the rest of your life, make sure they understand that no matter how much success you achieve, you will never want anyone but them by your side. “Yes, Success Diva,” you say, “but what if my husband/wife or my mother/father or my boyfriend/girlfriend actually goes out of his/her way to sabotage my efforts to succeed?” 

Well, this is where Success Diva’s slightly harsh advice comes into the picture. If  the person (s) closest to refuse to support your goals and dreams, at some point you’re going to have decide whether that person or persons and your relationship with him/her (or them, as the case may be) is more important to you. . .or whether you are more important to you. It boils down once again to this question: How badly do you want the desires of your heart? Would you be happy if your life continued exactly the way it is right now until the day you die? An issue that a couple of my favorite fans brought up was whether or not you can ever really go after what you want and pursue happiness strictly for yourself, when you have a long list of obligations that you feel have to come first. I’m truly pleased that this subject was brought to my mind because it’s something I’ve had to struggle with myself. And I’ll address it in a forthcoming blog post. . .either my next update or another one sometime during the next few days.

For now, I just have a few words of. . .well, if not wisdom, at least suggestions that I hope will be of some assistance. First of all, on a daily basis, you need to decide which tasks on your to-do-list (even if you don’t have an ‘official’ to-do-list written down because you dislike making lists, I’m sure you have a ‘mental’ list of the things you need to do each day) are essential. In other words, which tasks must be done today. Once you decide what those must-do taskes are, separate them from the other to-dos and complete them first. Let’s say you have a list of 20 things that you feel you need to do in a day. Well, how many things are really urgent? Do you really have to take that suit to the dry cleaners today or can you wait until tomorrow? Do you really have to prepare your husband’s favorite meal for dinner simply because he’s had a rough day at work? Does your wife have to have that loaf of bread from the store? Do your kids really need for you to go with them to pick out a new puppy? Or can your girlfriend or wife go with them instead? Delegate tasks, too. If you have kids who are old enough to successfully complete chores around the house, let your son (yes, boys should be taught to do housework, too) or daughter wash and dry the dinner dishes.  If you’re one of those persons who is always having people ask him/her to do things for them, start saying ‘no’ more often, even if you’re worried about displeasing them. Look, if someone’s love, acceptance, or approval of you is based on what you do for them, then it has strings attached. Don’t ever let yourself  be so caught up in meeting the needs of others—even if your spouse and/or children are the ‘others’ concerned—that you forget about the most important person: you.

Until soon,

Your Success Diva