Exploit Your Potential!

ballerina25There are moments in our lives when we feel as if there is no one to turn to. Or, perhaps, there are people to turn to, but deep within ourselves we know that they would never truly comprehend what we are going through. It’s not always easy to ascertain that which is genuine from that which is fake. It’s rather like lab-created gems. There are many jewels that are the product of a laboratory instead of nature. Yet they appear so authentic that even a jeweler is unable to tell the difference at first glance. These jewels that are “created” by lab technicians are not so different from some people. True caring and compassion are qualities that have always been  rare. But in a world where instant gratification has become more of an addiction than even a habit, authentic individuals are oftentimes scarce.

This is why I stress the importance of always being yourself and of never letting society or the group of people whom you associate with dictate your opinions, your thoughts, or your actions. To a certain extent, you have to exploit yourself  in order to completely embrace life. You must exploit your own potential before anyone else does, for, at the end of your existence here on earth, the person who is going to be left with regrets will be you. The actress Bette Davis once said, “Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.” And Davis demonstrated her steely determination by fighting relentlessly for the roles she got. At her prime, she was the highest paid woman in America, and, during a time when the entertainment industry was dominated by men, Davis set the stage for the powerful leading actresses who have followed in her footsteps such as Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, and Jodie Foster.

In keeping with Bette Davis’ personal motto, what would you attempt to do if you knew with absolute certainty that you simply could not fail? Would the choices you’re making in your life right now be different than they are? If you have any role models or people whom you look up to, whether dead or alive, do you think that they allowed themselves to become overcome with feelings of self-doubt? Or did they live fearlessly?

I have always admired the dancer Isadora Duncan, who dared to be herself both in her career and in her personal life. She was an original, and she was proud of it. It’s true that Isadora did not always use the wisest judgment. But at least she pursued her dreams and made them into a reality by her willingness to take risks and fly in the face of convention. Who wants to conform to what society tells us we should be? In an era when women who had children out-of-wedlock were branded and crucified, Isadora held her head up high and bore two children by two separate lovers. While this lifestyle isn’t something I’m condoning, what I do admire is Isadora’s determination to hold onto her self-respect in a world in which everyone was attempting to take it away from her. Her self-worth was innate and not dependent on anyone else. This is why Isadora followed her heart and married a Russian poet who was eighteen years younger than she was.

Even in today’s much more liberal and open-minded world, much of Isadora’s behavior would be considered reckless.  Yet, are we to only admire those who live by the standards that we hold dear? I think it’s important to find people whom we look up to or who inspire us for different reasons. We should never emulate another person entirely, for, if we do so, then we are cutting short our own uniqueness.

I have been candid about the fact that I believe in God, but even if you don’t, perhaps a part of you still senses that there is a Divine Force at work in the universe. And perhaps you believe that this Divine Force created and molded each of us in a specific way. Whenever we try to be like another person or envy someone else because of his or her special attributes or capabilities, we are negating our own worth. There is positively no way that I can place enough emphasis on embracing that which is exclusively yours. And your potential is your most valuable commodity.

Many people believe that an icon like Madonna is not a role model–that her fame has been centered around the wrong values and principles. However, I think it’s much easier to make judgments about other people and their lives than it is to see ourselves clearly. We attach labels to those whom we do not approve of. Then we wonder why someone decided to label us or our actions in a certain way. Only when we let go of labels and stop being so judgmental will we be free to be ourselves. As I’ve said in other blog posts, we can put ourselves into a prison of our own making if we so choose. That prison can be made up of negative and destructive thoughts such as hate, anger, fear, and resentment. The moment that we allow ourselves to judge another person, we are actually judging ourselves. Rather than focusing on the ways in which someone else falls short in our mind, we should focus instead on how we can improve.

The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Who can be naive or delusional enough to imagine that they can make such an impact on the world that they are able to alter it in a significant way? Although I began my work as the Success Diva with the objective of reaching out to others and making a genuine difference in their lives, I am still aware that unless I pay enough attention to developing myself and exploiting my own potential, I will never accomplish anything meaningful.

Even though the word “exploit” has negative connotations, I am using it in a broader sense to fully embody the idea of using every bit of your potential for all its worth . . . and then some! Opportunities do not always come knocking on the door of your world. Sometimes, you have to seek them. And there are moments when you must grab something that looks like a possibility and make it into the chance of a lifetime.  Never hesitate to take the blessings that are brought into your life. If you do not make use of them, someone else will.

In the Bible, Jesus tells the parable about the talents (in this instance, a talent was a weight of precious metal) a master gave his servants as he was going to leave on a journey. When he returned, the master greatly rewarded the man who had used and multiplied his talents. He was told, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” On the other hand, the unwise servant who had buried the one talent he was given–who had dug a hole in the ground and buried it–had even that taken away by his angry master. Even if you don’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God or anything more than a myth, you can still relate to the concept that that potential which we cultivate. invest, and use is increased rather than diminished.

Life can be like this. For when we allow our potential to drown in the ocean of petty worries and other peoples’ opinions, it is the same as if we never had that potential in the first place. As my friend and mentor, Denis Waitley, says in his book Seeds of Greatness, we have the power within ourselves to achieve virtually anything. “We all have the power within,” Denis writes, in the chapter “The Seed of Purpose”. “There is a potential gold mine inside each of our goals.” What Denis says is true, even if you think it seems hard to believe.

Not only is there a gold mine inside of your goals, but there is a gold mine inside of you. The very fact that you are reading this blog indicates that you have already won. Even at this moment, you are a winner for yov have been brave enough to seek ideas about how you can improve yourself and your life. You have chosen to stop living by default and to begin living on purpose . . . like a boat that has finally found a clear-cut direction.

I have spoken about the Yellow Brick Road that will take you to the Emerald City of your dreams. Well, the path that will take you to that road is strewn with obstacles. There are distractions and day-to-day worries, in addition to people who will attempt to sabotage your efforts, whether they intend to or not.  Even those who are closest to us and claim to have our best interests at heart cannot always be expected to see our dreams and goals for us. You must capture your vision yourself . . . and only you should be the person to exploit your own potential. It’s almost a law of nature that only two options are possible. If we do not exploit our potential, either it goes to waste or someone else will exploit it for us.

I have emphasized the importance of working together as a team and surrounding yourself with those who share similar vantage points to yours. This is crucial if you want to achieve ultimate success or happiness. However, in the end, it still comes down to you making full use of your potential. You cannot ever become entirely dependent on anyone or anything else. You make the magic happen in your life. As I said from the beginning, it really is all about you for no one can live your life for you.

Have you ever seen an episode from the old TV program, “This is Your Life?” If so, do you remember how the most noteworthy moments in the life of whoever happened to be honored were flashed on the screen? Did you ever wonder, “How would my life look if this documentary were about me?” When I was growing up, I recall speculating as to what significant accomplishments might be mentioned. Having been trained to be a concert musician, nearly all of my daydreams, when I was a little girl, included the creation of  award-winning musical recordings and international concert performances. I always had the tendency to dream big, in shades of bright colors, rather than shades of gray or black and white. At this point, it amazes me to remember how grand many of my fantasies were. But, dreaming extravagantly is a wonderful way to prepare you to embrace your potential.

If you do not believe you’re capable of something remarkable, how will you ever attempt it? Claude Bristol’s book The Magic of Believing really does illuminate the importance of believing in yourself unlike nearly any other book I’ve ever read. And what is exploitation of your potential but one more step past believing in yourself? On many occasions, the only true difference between someone who lives a life in obscurity and someone who accomplishes things that bring them a tremendous amount of recognition is belief. I use the word “belief” in its most profound sense for it is something beyond mere self-confidence. It is an innate sense of trust in yourself–faith in your ability to make the most out of your life and to maximize your abilities.

Although we have been conditioned by society and often also by the environment in which we have been reared to subscribe to the idea that our capabilities are limited, we were all born with the capacity to do nearly anything. The depth of the potential that is inherent in each of us is something that many people never become fully cognizant of. For, on a conscious level, it seems impossible to imagine that we can  achieve things that we would call extraordinary if we haven’t seen them being accomplished by those around us. 

When we hear stories of those who have surmounted monumental odds to achieve recognition, renown, and in many instances “celebrity” status, there is sometimes a tendency to tell ourselves that these people were somehow special and set apart from the rest of humanity, whereas we are “ordinary” mortals. In doing this, we are automatically placing limitations on our potential that aren’t really there. Yet, when you subscribe to a false idea for long enough, you will soon begin to imagine that it’s true.  It’s rather like wearing fake diamonds for an extended period of time. After awhile, you may barely be able to ascertain the difference between a real diamond and one that has been created by a lab technician.

So, instead of suppressing your potential by telling yourself lies about what you can’t do, embrace and exploit that potential for all it’s worth. I dedicate this particular blog post to my friend Elizabeth, who first used the phrase, “exploit your potential”. Elizabeth, you are one of those rare persons who lives life fearlessly and is forever true to herself. Thank you for coming into my life.

May you continue to embrace every moment . . . and to live with passion, courage, enthusiasm. . and belief in Yourself!

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

~Be your own mirror~

mirror1My great uncle once told my mother that he believed there are two types of people in the world: “givers” and “takers”. Although I would never be so quick to stack individuals into two boxed-in categories, I think the point he was trying to make was a valid one. As a diva of success, it would probably be easy for me to become so focused on my own endeavors that I didn’t give much thought to others except in terms of how they could in some way benefit me.

A couple of weeks ago, someone who has been my friend for several months suggested that self-promotion was at the heart of my Success Diva activities although he has never actually taken the time to read the articles at my blog.  Obviously, to be successful in any area of your life, you do have to take personal initiative. You must make the most of opportunities and, to loosely paraphrase a quote by author Francis Bacon, you sometimes have to create more opportunities than you find.

But, does this mean that suddenly you are the only important person in your world and everyone else is a background player?? Are you the only star in your sky? If so, isn’t it getting a little lonely up there in the heavens?? I have known plenty of people over the course of my life who seemed to concentrate exclusively on themselves and their own needs and desires. There are even those who would say that such behavior is “natural” and “normal”. Yet, is it? Or is that just an attempt on a person’s part to validate the fact that they are always putting themselves first?

Our society nourishes and promotes a philosophy that is immensely ego-driven. We are brainwashed into believing that if we accomplish enough and acquire enough, we will find happiness and fulfillment. When we turn on the television set, we see add after add telling us what perfume we should wear, what shaving cream we should use, where we should shop for clothes, and what sort of lifestyle we should crave. We can think that we aren’t being influenced by the messages that we’re hearing on television or reading in magazines and books, but, after awhile, the thoughts behind the words begin to seep into our consciouness. We imagine that we will always remain consistently devoted to our own personal goals and dreams, but aren’t we kidding ourselves? How can we not be affected by all that we see, hear, and experience?

If, for instance, our society was more inclined to encourage everyone to think first of others and then of themselves, how would things be different than they are now? Many people think that  “looking out for number one” is the strategy that drives achievement.  But what sort of achievement does it bring? We all reside on this earth together, don’t we? The only way that focusing exclusively on ourselves and our needs would be an ideal situation is if each of us were residing on our own planet. We are dependent upon other people, whether we want to be or not.

Zig Ziglar, one of my favorite motivational speakers is noted for saying, “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough people get what they want.” What I think Zig’s trying to point out is that you we must embrace the spirit of harmony that pervades our universe, rather than trying to fight it. Instead of looking at each relationship as being something that could benefit us, we should be thinking of ways in which each connection we make can be mutually beneficial. When it comes to the people you love, don’t you usually think of their wishes, in addition to your own? Of course, you do. So, you know what it’s like to experience that feeling of connection with another person. Why not enjoy it in all of your relationships?

It’s only our ego that makes us think that giving too much attention or affection to others will in some way cause us to be depleted. When we allow ourselves to lapse into what I call a “scarcity mentality”, we truly fear that if we let someone else take center stage in our world instead of us, we’ll somehow end up as the understudy in our own life.  And yet, the examples that have been shown in books and films of those whose lives have been lived solely to benefit themselves demonstrate that happiness is not generally found in mere self-gratification.

The film “Sunset Boulevard” comes to mind when I think of a story in which the leading figure was completely at the command of her own ego. Norma Desmond had become so fixated on her status as a “star”, that she lives in an imaginary gothic fairy tale of her own making.  Her world was a spider’s web spun from threads of lies, delusions, and memories.  She existed in the past because facing the future would have meant that she would have had to fly out of her gilded cage and face the woman she really was when she looked in the mirror. A looking glass doesn’t lie to us, but we can lie to it if we choose to see a reflection other than our own when we peer into it.

If, for instance, we see ourselves as a generous, caring, and benevolent person, but we are actually selfish, jealous, and resentful, we will never be looking at our reflection in a mirror no matter how many times we gaze into it. When you take a few moments to think about it, it’s amazing how much time many of us have taken to try to erase a small blemish on our complexions. And, yet, how much time have we spent trying to rectify the blemishes in our soul? How often have we contemplated whether or not we were exhibiting compassion and caring to the people in our lives? How frequently have we stopped and engaged in a full self-assessment of ourselves and our inner natures? It’s so much easier to ignore what we don’t like about ourselves. “Nobody knows I’m really this way,” we whisper to our souls, and maybe some part of us really buys into that theory.

However, would  you think a diamond that looked magnificent on the surface was nearly as lovely if you held it under a microscope and saw it was full of black carbon spots? It would lose a lot of its allure, would it not? Well, if our outsides don’t match up with our insides, we’re no different than that deeply flawed diamond. So, no matter how radiant we think we are when we’re under the spotlight, sooner or later people are going to notice those telltale blemishes. It’s never comfortable to acknowledge that we’re not the person we want to be and/or that we’re pretending to be, but, in order to find true contentment within our souls and spirits, it’s much better to admit even that which is unpleasant as opposed to allowing an illusion to become our reality.

After all, no matter how many people come into our lives or how many significant others or children or relatives or friends we have over the course of our lifetime, the person we will end up spending the most time with is still ourselves. Would you choose to spend the largest amount of your time with someone who was pretending to be someone besides themselves? If you had a friend who told you that they were hiding their true nature from you and everyone else, would you continue wanting to spend lots of time around them? Well, if you haven’t been honest with yourself and others about the person you are, is it really any different?

Actually, it is different because whether or not you lie to yourself is something you have control over. On the other hand, you have no power over whether or not others are manipulating or lying to you about who they are. If someone whom you love and trust is presenting you with a fake mirror image of their true nature, there isn’t anything you can do to change that. It’s because people do deceive others and convey a false impression of themselves that many of us are quick to imagine there is a hidden agenda behind someone’s friendliness or kindness. “What do they want from me?”, we sometimes asks ourselves. And, who can blame us for wondering that? Since our culture teaches people that self-gratifaction is of the utmost importance, why would we not look for hidden motives?

What we need to make sure of is that we are not guilty of having hidden motives ourselves. It’s easy to engage in behavior that appears to be benefiting others, but if all we’re thinking about is how what we’re doing will benefit us, there will come a time when someone will start to question our authenticity. At the very least, we’ll know that our seemingly altruistic gestures are being guided by personal motives. If, for example, the only reason we take someone out to lunch is because we think that they’ll invest in a project we’re trying to get up and running, we may accomplish what we’re setting out to do, but we’ll be left with a feeling of dissatisfication because we’ll know that we had a private agenda that was intended to only benefit us.

Anthony Robbins, another of my favorite motivational speakers and authors, has ensured that his children learn the value of giving to other people. I have always remembered the story of how one of his children was given a huge bunch of balloons on a special occasion. Rather than encouraging his son to bask in the feeling of overwhelming gratification that being the recipient of so many balloons could have given him, Tony suggested that he go to a nursing home and give some the balloons away to the people staying there. At first, Tony’s young son wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect of letting go of his highly prized balloons. However, after he did give them away and saw the looks of appreciation and affection on the faces of the elderly residents, his sensation of happiness far exceeded what it had been when the balloons belonged to him.  

I think what is true of the balloons is true of love, generosity, kindness, and compassion. We can allow all these emotions to reside within us. . .we can hold onto them frantically, fearing that sharing them will be too great a risk. . .or we can let go of our fears and allow ourselves to embrace the spirit of harmony that is inherent in the universe. I am tremendously fond of saying that Love is Queen of all. I imagine Love as a magnificent queen, dressed in opulent robes and sitting on a jewel-encrusted throne. I think of her ruling over an kingdom in which goblins and ghouls of hate, anger, malice, and envy roam with wild abandon on nights when she sleeps soundly. I envision her engaging in battle with these nefarious beings and conquering them not with the blade of a sword, but rather with magical words of persuasion and gestures of grace. For Love is a Queen whose power comes from stillness and calm rather than bluster, brashness, and brutality. Like those rulers who have been sagacious enough to realize that psychological combat can be more effective than sword play or fist fights, Love plays her game with chess pieces that are pure, genuine, and will not harm anyone. For she knows that truth and kindness will ultimately win, since the universe would not maintain its spirit of harmony otherwise. 

Our world may be full of those who hate and hurt those around them, but the path to happiness and fulfillment is only walked upon by those who are devoted to nourishing themselves and those around them with love, honesty, affection, generosity, and empathy. If you’re thriving on anger, envy, greed, and hatred, you may make enough money to purchase a fancy sports car to drive around in, but sooner or later you’re going to either run off the road or end up on a dead-end street. 

So, unless what you’re pursuing is short-term satisfaction or success that gives you plenty of material possessions but no feeling of inner contentment, look at yourself in the mirror and make sure that the person you think you are matches up with the reflection. And if you prefer the reflection, start making the changes today that will transform that image into your reality.

As always, make every moment matter. . .and life with passion, courage, faith, and enthusiasm!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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The magic is within you!

magic5You know, I think too many of us fall into the trap of thinking that something wonderful must happen before we really can expect to feel inspired. In other words, we wait for the magic to happen to us. . .rather than making the magic happen. This diva has been guilty herself of waiting for an opportunity to come her way, instead of going forth and seeking it. And yet, most of us have heard the quotation from the Bible, “Seek and ye shall find.” Indeed, this principle is at the root of most motivational programs and books. So, why do we sit waiting for good things to come our way? Could it be that it’s easier to accept the idea that the opportunities and “lucky breaks” didn’t find us as opposed to admitting that we tried and failed? Michael Jordan, the world-renowned basketball player and promoter of the philosophy that it’s more important to try than to succeed, has some interesting thoughts on failure. During the height of Jordan’s career, he was asked by a school publishing outfit whether or not it would be all right to post pictures of him in classrooms to inspire thousands of school children to pursue their dreams as he had pursued his. Jordan agreed, but only if his message could be about failure, rather than success. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life,” he declared, “and that is why I succeed.”

Now, if someone like Michael Jordan is able to acknowledge failure as a valuable and essential part of the success process, why are we so afraid to fail?? Well, I think it’s because society tends to regard failure as something that none of us should admit to. We’re supposed to disguise our failures at all costs. And this type of misguided programming is why we are so afraid to really take the risks that are necessary to turn the life we’re living right now into the life of our richest dreams and deepest desires. For example, there are men and women who marry whoever comes along because it’s easier than holding out for that man or woman who would make their lives truly complete. After all, a bird in the hand is better than ten in the tree, such people tell themselves. And, indeed, it is important not to throw away a relationship that is important to us simply to pursue a whimsical fantasy. However, I think that once we begin to “settle” for second best, we will never stand a chance of getting first best. Do you really think that any athlete goes to the Olympics saying, “I want to win a silver medal”? No, of course they don’t. Because they know that only in striving for that gold medal are they going to be able to give their all to the competition. Look, it isn’t always about the results of your efforts. It’s about how hard you try. There are many days in which this diva wonders how she’ll ever be able to write a blog post that is as inspired as the one she wrote a day or two before. But, you know what? When you write from the heart as I do, it isn’t as important whether or not I express my thoughts as eloquently as I would like to as it is whether or not I reach you with my words.  When I read back over some of my old posts, there are all sorts of ways in which I feel they could be improved. However, at the time I wrote them, I was making my very best effort.

Well, life is a lot like that, you see. Sure, you may have made some unwise choices yesterday or last week, but, at the time, you probably weren’t aware of the fact that you were using poor judgment. And, in order to keep having the kind of faith you need to have in yourself, it’s crucial that you not dwell on all the errors you’ve made. How can you possibly find magic in your life if all you’re focusing on is your mistakes? You must let go of the gray clouds of the past and embrace the rainbow of the present. Otherwise, you’re like someone who only notices the weather when there’s a thunderstorm. Magic can be found in things that are seemingly insignificant, too. For example, there can be magic in the smile of a child or in the song of a bird. You don’t have to wait for a major event to take place to feel grateful and joyful about life. In fact, the more things you find to feel joyful about, the more likely it is that wonderful things will begin to take place in your life. Haven’t you ever noticed that on days when you seem to see the world through rose-colored glasses people seem to treat you more thoughtfully and you seem to have a more established sense of self-worth? Do you think this is merely a coincidence? Or, could it be that something about the positive energy you are feeling is felt by those whom you come into contact with?

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the life and work of the remarkable artist, Frida Kahlo, but, when I saw the 2002 film focusing on her life, it struck me that she would never have been the painter she became if it hadn’t been for the suffering she endured and the obstacles she had to overcome.  The reason she came to embrace life so wholeheartedly was because she knew what it was like to live for months bed-ridden and in excruciating pain. She understood that if you respond to the trials that come into your life with courage and strength, you can actually become a more powerful individual because of that which you have overcome. When I look at Frida Kahlo’s art, her use of color is one of the first things that attracts me. It is incredible that a woman who could so easily have chosen to live her life in shades of black and white responded to the agony of living with such exuberance and enthusiasm. Truly, Frida Kahlo is a testimony to the triumph and vibrancy of the human spirit. So many of us tend to get caught up in petty annoyances and concerns. We make mountains out of molehills, to use a trite expression that is nevertheless relevant to this diva’s train of thought. We concern ourselves with whether or not our favorite film is out on video yet or whether one of our best friends is giving us enough attention. Yet, if we really stop to think about it, how important are these things? What if you found out tomorrow that you only had six months to live? Would it change the way you saw your life? Which of the things that are annoying you now would seem important? I don’t know about you, but very few of the issues I worry about on a daily basis would seem essential if I knew my life would be ending in a matter of months. It wouldn’t matter to me whether or not everyone approved of everything I did because I would be devoted to being completely true to myself. To borrow a famous quote from comedian and actor Bill Cosby,” I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” The question I would like to pose to you is this: should the way you’re living right now be so different than the way you would live if you knew you only had a certain amount of time left on this earth? And, if you answer is “yes,” then why should it be so different? None of us know how many more days we’ll actually be alive. This being said, shouldn’t we start finding the magic in our lives right now? Shouldn’t we stop letting ourselves be sidetracked by other peoples’ opinions of us? Shouldn’t we cease to let the criticism and discouragement of those around us cloud our personal vision?

I’ve had a lot of you tell me how much my last post, “Capture Your Vision” meant to you. Well, one of the clues to capturing your vision is to notice the things in your life that you have to be grateful for. In a way, gratitude is directly related to magic. How? Okay, think about when you were a child and Christmas morning came around. When you went downstairs and saw presents under the tree, didn’t you feel as if you were experiencing a moment of magic? And, when you opened your presents, even if you didn’t get the gifts you wanted, didn’t you feel grateful? Now perhaps some of you will tell me that you didn’t feel a large amount of gratitude because you rarely were given what you had asked for. But, in all likelihood, you can still relate to the feelings of intermingled gratitude and magic that you felt when Christmas morning arrived. And, if your family didn’t celebrate Christmas, think of another occasion that seemed magical to you when you were growing up. Perhaps, your birthday seemed like a magical time when you were a child because it was a day that was all about you. Well, the life you’re living right now is about you, too. The only difference is, now that you’re an adult, you fully understand that you’re not on this planet alone. So, you realize that even if you’re the focus of your life, the other people in it are very important, too. In fact, if you’ve been applying some of your diva’s philosophy to your day-to-day existence, you may have even come to see that you are dependent upon the special people in your life to make your dreams come true. The well-known motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, believes that only when you help enough other people make their dreams a reality do you experience the life that you’ve always dreamed of. Now, when I was younger, I might not have fully understood Zig’s belief system. However, the more time that passes, the more aware I become of the fact that life really is more like a team sport than most of us realize. It may seem like you’re on the path to success for awhile when you focus exclusively on you, but, sooner or later, the road you’re walking down will turn into a dead end. For one thing, there’s only so much magic you’re going to find in your life when your primary focus is yourself. At some point, your feelings of self-confidence are going to be eclipsed by a sense of extreme loneliness. Although you may be experiencing plenty of success, the fact that you have nobody to share it with will eventually oppress your spirit. This is why you must both find the magic in your life and help others find the magic in their lives. Of course, you’ll never be able to instill a sense of gratitude in toxic people because they are never truly happy. Rather, they not only will prevent themselves from experiencing happiness but also they will do their best to steal your joy from you. In the most fundamental sense, toxic people are what I call “dream-stealers,” and, if you let them stay in your life, they’ll snatch your dreams from you. However, once you de-clutter your world and make sure that everyone whom you’re spending time with supports and encourages you and shares your vision, then you’ll be able to find those magical moments in your life that you might overlook otherwise.

One thing that is exceedingly difficult to cope with is when someone very close to you refuses to let you spread your wings and fly. I cannot begin to count the number of people who have crossed my path who have told me how impossible it seems to them to make their dreams come true when their spouse, parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend continues to challenge and criticize their opinions and/or attempts to sabotage their goals.  All I can advise is that you determine whether having this dream-stealer in your life is more important than making your dreams a reality. I know that walking away from someone who has had a pivotal role in your existence can seem almost impossible, but there are times when you’re not going to have another choice. Although I would never advise you to make a decision that you would always regret, the people who remain in your life must respect your determination to pursue your dreams with passion and a sense of purpose. There’s no way that you’ll ever be able to discover the magic if your world is clouded by fog. You must be able to see the beauty of the world through eyes that are full of wonder and joy. . .not blinded by the bitterness and cynicism that dream-stealers nourish themselves with. So, loose yourself and your life from the limitations that you and others have placed upon it, and start seeing every day as a fresh opportunity. . .as a chance to make magic happen in your world.

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

You are the Captain!

Sometimes I look around and wonder: where is honesty and where is truth? I think all of us probably put on a mask to face the world with, whether it is thick or paper thin, sturdy or flimsy. If we think that the face we show to everyone else is the face that we see when we dare to really look inside ourselves. . .well, I think we’re lying to ourselves. And that never gets you anywhere, does it? Was it not John Keats, the poet, who said the oft-repeated phrase, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty–that is all/Ye know on earth, all ye need to know.” Yet T. S. Eliot felt these simple yet profound words detracted from the rest of Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn.  You don’t have to have lived very long on this planet to understand that you need to know a lot more than this in order to survive. The world can be a brutal place and people can be ruthless. Were I to tell you otherwise, I would be simply giving you the false impression that the world is a warm and loving place. Yes, it can be. But is it? And if it isn’t, why is it not? Why aren’t more people living fulfilled lives? Where are the people who are living richly, fully, happily, and successfully? Why aren’t there more of them?

Well, have you ever heard of the fight or flight response?? Sure you have. In fact, I would imagine that you have chosen to react to at least one situation in your life in the past year by either fighting it or running away from it? Am I right? If not, think back to a time when you did, in fact, try to fight back at someone or something? Why did you do it? Underneath all that anger and resentment and, yes, even hate, was there possibly. . .if I’m wrong, don’t get upset. . .but could there not have been just a tiny bit of fear? In other words, did you use anger to mask the fact that you were actually apprehensive, that you really felt afraid? When you were a child and your mother or father didn’t buy you a toy that you wanted, for example, and you got angry at them, couldn’t you have also been afraid that them not giving you something you really wanted meant that they didn’t love you as much as they should? Think about it. And later on, when that girl or guy whom you wanted to go out with in high school never seemed to reciprocate your attention, what made you decide to start avoiding them? Wasn’t it fear? Weren’t you afraid of being hurt?

Well, you’re probably not in high school right now. . .and, if you are, I applaud you for being willing to start making the changes that will enable you to create the life of your dreams at such a young age. But whether you are in high school or it’s been several decades since you finished high school, the insight your Success Diva is giving you will always be applicable. That same anger that you felt when you were a child. . . and that same fear (and maybe anger, too) that you felt when you were a teenager. . .well, these are two emotions that are still ruling your world, to a large extent. “What?” you say, “Success Diva is saying I’m driven by anger and fear! Well, she’s going too far this time!” No, I’m not going far enough. This is just the tip of the iceberg that hit the Titanic as far as these two emotions are concerned. I will be talking about them more and more as I continue becoming more and more a part of your life. You see, The Success Diva has been driven by anger and fear, too, along with other things such as hate, resentment, contempt, vindictiveness, and other negative emotions.  There was a time when the only way I knew to react to being hurt or mistreated by someone was to get angry. There were times when I would get comments such as “Well, you’ve got a temper to match the color of your hair,” and I knew those comments were valid, although I dislike redheads being automatically labelled as “short-tempered.” The thing about it is, my hair is still red. However, I rarely get angry anymore, and, when I do, I find ways to eliminate it before it injures me or someone else. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m making it sound awfully easy to stop letting a destructive emotion control your actions.  “You just don’t know the sorts of people I’ve had to deal with,” you might want to tell me. Well, The Success Diva has encountered all sorts of people in her life. . .and, let me assure you, at least half of them have not had a positive or healthy influence on me. In fact, I have known people that would very nearly make an angel throw away her halo and buy a pitchfork and a pair of devil’s horns instead. Not that this would do an angel any good, of course—merely buying a costume won’t change a person’s behavior. And this brings me back to what I said about all of us wearing masks in the beginning of this post. Just because we wear a mask of  happiness or joy or love or peace or compassion or strength—well, if we don’t actually feel any of those emotions inside, our behavior will not consistently reflect those feelings. Many people say that you have to love and accept yourself before you can give love to anyone else. And you know what? I think they’re right. This is probably why so many women say that becoming a mother is the most extraordinary and important experience of their lives. In learning to love the child growing within themselves, they begin to have a certain love and respect for themselves as women. Then, when they finally give birth to that child, their hearts are overflowing with a love that may well have been there all the time, but has never had a viable outlet before. I’m not saying that every woman who becomes a mother starts loving herself. What I am saying is that a woman often considers that she has finally accomplished something worthwhile when she brings new life into the world. And this new feeling of self-worth brings with it a certain amount of self-love.  But if you love yourself does this mean that you don’t get angry or that you suddenly don’t experience any negative emotions?? Of course not. What it can mean, however, is that you begin to understand that those destructive emotions that you thought were just hurting other people are really hurting you. “It’s worth hurting myself, though, if I can get back at so-and-so,” you say. Whoa. Wait a minute. What did you just say? You’re telling me that it’s worth depriving yourself of joy, happiness, peace, and love just so that you can prove something to someone else? You’re saying that if you can just pay him/her/ them back for whatever he/she/them said or to you, it’s worth becoming a toxic person for a little while? You see, toxic people are toxic to themselves, first and foremost. They don’t usually realize this fully enough, but when a toxic person loses his/her temper and says or does things that are cruel, hurtful, or abusive, what he/she is really doing is demonstrating how little control they have over themselves and their own behavior. This is something I have come to realize in recent years and especially during the past several months. If I get angry at someone who mistreats me, what I’m really doing is allowing them to control  me. So, not only have they attempted to victimize me with their mistreatment. . .but I am continuing to play the role of ‘the victim’ by letting myself be driven by negative emotions that they evoked. So, I’ve given up my power and I’m basically a chess piece in someone else’s game. Is this what you want to be? I know it can’t possibly be, or you wouldn’t be reading the Success Diva’s blog. I fully believe that you want to be the one steering your own ship—and I also think that you’re willing to buy, borrow or find the necessary equipment to build that ship. Hey, it’s the ship of your dreams, after all. It will take you anywhere you choose to go. It can take you away from the life of your dreams. . .or it can steer you towards it. You are the Captain. I’m just there to encourage and inspire you.

I have been asked before by people who are curious about why their lives are not going the way they want them to, which emotion I feel is the most inhibiting of any that a person can feel. In other words, if I had to name just one thing that is standing between a person and the life he/she desires, what would it be?? The answer is simple yet people are often surprised when they hear it. It’s fear. Fear is what makes a person feel that they have to hold onto the life they’ve got, the job they’ve got, the spouse they’re married to, the boyfriend/girlfriend they’re with, or the career they’ve spent so many years pursuing but never really have liked. Fear is what makes a person not get on an airplane, even when deep within themselves they’d love to travel around the world. Fear is what prevents you from grabbing half the opportunties that come your way. It’s both insidious and deadly, and until you find a way to move beyond it, you will never have any lasting happiness or success in your life.  “But don’t I need to get rid of the fear?,” you ask. “Can just moving beyond it be enough?” Well, the truth is, fear is something you will always feel no matter how badly you want to never experience it again. Why? Because life is full of new experiences, and there are bound to be some experiences that will challenge you and overwhelm you if you are going to create the life of your dreams. If, for example, one of your dreams is to go sky-diving, do you really think you won’t experience any fear if you decide to make this dream a reality?? Of course you’ll experience fear. The situation is, when your passion for something—whether it be a career, a job, or a person whom you are madly in love with—becomes more powerful than your fear, you will automatically move past it and embrace whatever it is you really desire. Now generally, in life, the sort of passion that is able to conquer fear isn’t something that you feel on a regular basis. It’s something that you feel every now and then, when you ask your girlfriend to marry you or when you go on a rollercoaster ride at your local amusement park. It isn’t something you are accustomed to feeling every single day. And this is one reason you aren’t living the life of your dreams. You are living with fear, whether you realize it or not. You’re afraid that you’ll fail. You’re afraid that you don’t have what it takes to succeed, whether it be in your career or in an important personal relationship. You think to yourself, “How could someone like me ever make a go of this?” or “Why would he/she ever seriously be interested in me?” Well, what you have to do is understand that there are some opportunities that will only come your way once. . .and if you don’t snatch them now, they may never show up again. You have to be willing to grab happiness or success or love sometimes. You have to believe that it will ultimately make you feel more worthwhile if you should go for it, even if you don’t get it. “But I’m really not a very worthy person,” you say, “I mean, I don’t really deserve happiness or success or love or all these great things you’re talking about, Success Diva.” Really? Who says? Have you been keeping company with toxic people who think they have the right to tell you what you are or are not capable of? Or have you been saying such things to yourself for so long that you have actually started to believe them? Which is it? I can safely assume that when you were a child of five or six you weren’t under the impression that you weren’t “worthy” or “deserving” enough to be happy or feel loved. You know your Success Diva is right about this. When you were a kid, there were moments when you probably think that nearly anything was possible. At the very least, I’m sure that you would have thought that you deserved a happy, rich, joyful, and successful life.

So, what happened?? Well, you see, when you are a kid the world didn’t seem like a cruel, brutal, dark, and cold place to you. You looked at birds and butterflies with your eyes wide open. . .you noticed the sun rising and setting and you loved the feeling of rain against your skin. You weren’t worried that you weren’t carrying around an umbrella! And you didn’t even think about sun-screen (don’t get me wrong—sun-screen is essential to protect against sun damage and skin cancer). Also, when your mother or  grandmother made a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies you weren’t thinking, “I wonder how many calories each cookie has in it.” No, you were enjoying every morsel of those cookies. But somewhere between then and now you’ve come to see the world in an entirely different light. You generally feel guilty if you eat too many cookies now, and you no longer really think about when the sun sets or when it rises. Around some hour of the morning it gets light outside. . .and around some hour of the evening it gets dark. As for rain? Well, it’s something that creates problems when you’re trying to get somewhere in a rush. It causes more traffic. Plus, your hair might start frizzing. . .and, my goodness, what about that new pair of shoes you’re wearing? See what I mean?  There are lots of things that you actually feel fear about without being aware of it. Yet I would wager that you do drive in the rain and that you do eat too many cookies every now and then. I would also say that some of you have ruined more than one pair of shoes, either by walking in rain, mud, or snow. I know I have. I ruined a pair of shoes by picking persimmons of a tree a few years ago. I didn’t realize that there was so much mud around those trees. . and, well, I had been to a symphony concert earlier that night and I was all dressed up. But do you know what’s interesting? I no longer think much about those shoes I ruined. However, I will always have the memory of picking persimmons off persimmon trees with my mother one late night in October. And life becomes more meaningful when you have moments that are memorable. If you simply exist, never taking any risks and never accepting any opportunity that comes your way unless it seems “safe,” then you are always going to exist. You will never be fulfilled. . .and you will never live the life of your dreams. Never?? That’s right—never.

So, take that fear and use it. To feel fearful all the time takes a whole lot of energy. But you can take that same energy and use it in a different way. You can use it to feel passion and enthusiasm and determination. Instead of being afraid to do something, choose to be adventurous. Even if there’s still some fear deep inside you, choose to see it as a tool rather than as a hindrance. It can actually help you, believe it or not. It can force you to be a stronger person—it can make you more determined. And, when you see that there was really nothing to be afraid about all along, you’ll become less and less fearful. Now as I said previously, you will never completely obliterate all fear from your life.  However, with enough practice and enough advice from your Success Diva, you will not only work around it, but you will also find a way to channel it effectively.

Well, it’s way after midnight here in Atlanta, and even though the Success Diva is a self-proclaimed ‘night owl,’ she’s going to have to wait for another post to say more. But she does encourage you to start implementing the suggestions she’s giving you in this post—namely, to start using your fear in a positive way and to start responding in a mature, effective, and productive way to those toxic people, rather than reacting with emotions that are destructive to you, such as hate, anger, contempt, and resentment.

Until later. . .live each moment of your life with passion and enthusiasm!

Your Success Diva

successdiva7@yahoo.com

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Why can’t I ever be happy?

I wish I didn’t have to be the diva to break this news to you because I know it’s something you probably aren’t going to be delighted to hear, but whether or not you are happy on a day-to-day basis is entirely up to you. How do I know? Well, for one thing, I’ve spent a large portion of my life letting others and their behavior towards me determine whether I was happy or not. And, you know what?  What I came to see was that I was never going to be anything but miserable until I understood this principle: happiness is a personal choice. Only you can make it.

Much of the time I find that people are frequently inconsiderate and rarely care how their actions affect other people. The “Looking out for #1 mentality” (see Robert Ringer’s best-selling book) has become the attitude du jour and it’s becoming more and more unusual to find someone who has a lot of compassion for other people. Maybe this sounds like a cyncial vantage point on my part, but, if I hadn’t subscribed to it at some point, I would continue to have unrealistic expectations. And, even more tragically, I would continue to give others the power to make me happy. . . or, as the case may be (and, I must admit, often has been) very unhappy.

If you think that I am always on top of the world and ready to take on any obstacle that comes way simply because I’m your personal Success Diva, you’re wrong. Hey, I have days that are tough to get through, too. In fact, you and I probably experience a lot of the same feelings on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. It isn’t easy to survive this thing that we call life. Yet to just survive is to not really live. To survive is to merely continue existing. Don’t you find yourself looking around sometimes and thinking to yourself, “There must be more to life than this.” Well, there is. Happiness doesn’t have to be optional. You can make it something you experience several times each and every day. No, you’re not going to always feel happy. I would be lying to you if I told you that was possible. And remember, your Success Diva is nothing if not 100% honest with you at all times!  However, happiness doesn’t have to be something that you only experience once in a blue moon. . .or every Christmas season when half the world is in a festive spirit and everybody feels like celebrating. You don’t even have to be in love to be happy.  What you are going to have to be is in control of yourself, your emotions, and your reactions to other people. What you may have to remind yourself of is that when someone else’s behavior makes you miserable, you are actually giving that person power over your life. Now I know you don’t want to do that because you’re at this blog, which means deep down inside, even if you’re not yet fully aware of it, you are completely committed to taking ownership of your life.

Here’s a little something about me that many people who know me well are unaware of. Sundays have always been the most difficult day of the week for me. Some people regard them as a day of peace and rest, and I wish I could see them in this light. But no matter what the weather is like, the sky is overcast in my corner of the world whenever Sunday comes around. I suspect that many of us have certain days of the week that are harder than others as well as certain months and seasons that affect us either positively or negatively. It might not be a bad idea to keep track of the days, months, and seasons that affect you strongly on an emotional level. That way you would at least  be prepared for those times when having an optimistic outlook may be a bit of a challenge. I say, prepare all you can. Preparation is a preventive measure and something that anybody interested in creating the life they want knows is an important strategy. After all, if Opportunity comes knocking at your door, how are you going to make use of it if you aren’t at least somewhat prepared for its arrival? If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would you spend the money? Do you know? Would you invest it or spend it with wild abandon? Would you spend it mostlyon things that you want or would you spend a significant portion (or at least some of it)  on gifts for friends and/or  loved ones? Would you donate any of the money you won to charity? Well, in a way, life is a little bit like a lottery. You never know when your number is going to come up. For all you know, the career opportunity that you’ve always wanted will come your way tomorrow. . .or, if you’re single, maybe you’ll meet the man or woman of your dreams. There’s really just no way to predict what your life will be like tomorrow, next week, or next year. But I do know one thing: when you make the choice to be happy regardless of what is going on in your life and/or what other people say and do, you have a much greater chance of being prepared for anything that comes your way, whether it be good or bad. There are so many things that we really don’t have any control over in life that it’s nice to add one more thing to our list of things that we do have power over. “But you can’t just decide to be happy and expect it to happen,” you say. I agree. However, you have to be willing to at least accept the idea that you have the power to choose to be happy, whether you make that choice or not. The decision really is yours. In spite of how it may seem, I have to make a conscious decision to be happy each and every day. Don’t be shocked. Success Divas are only human, even if they do often seem to have their lives totally pulled together.  So, no more excuses as far as you go, fellow success seeker! If I can make the choice to be happy every day, so can you. It may seem difficult at first, but pretty soon you will find that it gives you an incredible feeling of self-empowerment. What could be more astounding than a happy person in a world that is as chaotic and dysfunctional as ours? Let’s face it. . .everybody is going to start wondering what your little secret it. And I know I can trust you to tell them about your sassy and smart Success Diva because you’re one of those persons who is wise enough to realize that there’s enough success to go around!

 

Until later!

Your Success Diva