The Blog

Life Is Like A Cup Of Coffee

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

~ Matthew 6:25

The following is a story by an unknown author.  Please enjoy and share it.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor.  Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.  Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen, and returned with a large pot of coffee.  He also brought an assortment of cups…porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal…some expensive, some plain looking, some exquisite…and told them to help themselves to the coffee. 

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.  In most cases it is just more expensive and can even hide what we actually drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee…the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.  They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.  Savor the coffee, not the cups!  The happiest people don’t have the best of everything.  They just make the best of everything. 

Live simply. Love generously.  Care deeply.  Speak kindly.

Exploring The Private Sea

Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade but of thought.  Every man is lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice.

~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

The stories of great explorers of history never fail to fascinate and inspire us.  By venturing into the unknown, over land and sea and even beyond the bounds of planet Earth, these courageous risk-takers opened up new worlds and immeasurably enriched our lives.

Exploration is not an enterprise for only a few adventurous souls, as the ancient philosophers of many traditions knew well.  The pursuit of self-knowledge was considered the most noble, and challenging, of human activities. According to the Greek writer Pausanias, the aphorism "Know Thyself" (Gnothi Seauton), was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Socrates expanded on this maxim, teaching that the unexamined life was not worth living. The Chinese master Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, “To know others is wisdom; to know one’s self is enlightenment.” And Proverbs 4:23 admonishes “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Thoreau echoes these sentiments in the concluding chapter of Walden:

If you would learn to speak all tongues and conform to the customs of all nations, if you would travel farther than all travellers,….even obey the precept of the old philosopher and Explore Thyself.  Herein are demanded the eye and the nerve.

To experience all that life has to offer, you must leave the shores you know and head for new horizons of personal growth and self-awareness. Without a willingness to take this risk, in spite of fear and uncertainty, you resign yourself to a life of mediocrity in a familiar port of call.

Pulling away from the dock and setting sail for the life of your dreams takes courage. Out beyond your comfort zone, you might encounter turbulent squalls and intimidating waves. But with each challenge you meet, you will be a step closer to discovering new people, new opportunities and a fulfilling life rich with possibility.

Your Most Expensive Habit

Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.

~W. Clement Stone

How much do you think fear has cost you? Go back five years and change your mindset. Take away all your fear of rejection and failure, and imagine living those five years forward in a different, less tentative way. Where would you be now? What would be happening with your finances and your relationships, your time freedom and physical health?

Fear can literally cost you cash. Even if you’ve found a measure of financial success, old fearful attitudes about money can still keep you from reaching your full potential.  For example, you might say you desire to be financially free, but the subconscious voice of scarcity and lack whispers, ‘It’ll make your life more complicated,’ or ‘You don’t deserve to be wealthy’ or ‘You don’t know enough’ or ‘God (or your mother or the government) wouldn’t approve.’  That negative voice may block you from recognizing and seizing on growth opportunities, and create a seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling on your income.

This ‘song’ never ends until you change the tune – by taking action. You first need to decide on something you want to do, and then simply go and get it done.  Don’t let fear of failure or of rejection stop you from implementing your plan. You will always face unknowns when doing something new. While those unknowns might seem scary, remember that no one ever knows absolutely 100% about everything in advance. The big Silicon Valley tech companies are always releasing updates for their products. If they were afraid of failing and waited until things were “perfect” before launching a product of any kind, they’d never release anything ever again.  Needless to say, they wouldn’t stay in business very long!

So you don’t need to know it all - you just need to know enough to start. You’ll learn the rest of what you need to know by taking action. The act of doing it will do more for your learning than endless planning and thinking about it ever will.

Comfortable Being You

"If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started."

~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Does this quote sound like something you've ever said or thought?

"I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here?"

One of the most accomplished and famous men of the 1960s made this statement.  Here's the rest of what he said:

"They've made amazing things. I just went where I was sent."

Surely we’ve all found ourselves in a group where we felt unqualified. The fact that Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, felt this as he stood at the back of an awards ceremony for scientists, artists and inventors proves that fears of our own inadequacy tend to afflict everyone.

Some of the most talented people convince themselves that they'd be seen as the imposter amongst the noble, if only the truth were known. It’s part of what psychologists call "imposter syndrome", and it's a very real problem.

The sad truth is that we identify with this negative paradigm way too often. Most of the time these thoughts aren't true – it’s just the devil in our heads talking. Believe that insidious voice, however, and it will hold you back from achieving your full potential.

Here are three simple strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome.

The first is to understand that you don't need to be the best in something to be a so-called expert. You can contribute value at any skill level.

Second, don’t compare yourself with anyone else. This was where Neil Armstrong went wrong. He compared himself with doctors and artists, saw their great work and felt inadequate. But he failed to realize they probably felt the same way each night as they stared at the moon.

Finally, make learning your lifelong mission. Those who suffer from imposter syndrome wrongly believe that the fortunate few are born with the traits that make them experts or the skills that make them rich. They’ve convinced themselves that they aren't so lucky, and so they don’t belong among the “elite”. It's not true.

Nothing that devil in your head says is true. If you want to succeed, shut him up. Be confident in the knowledge that you’ve done your best, and experience all the joy you deserve from your accomplishments.    

Reaching For The Sky

You can't hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.

~ Zig Ziglar

The Wright brothers’ invention of the airplane is a fascinating story of creative genius, hardship, perseverance, and spectacular triumph. I would like to retell it here because it also beautifully illustrates the power of vision and partnership in belief.  

Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up in late 19th century Dayton, Ohio in a family of five children.  Their Victorian home provided few of today’s comforts – no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing – but it did have a large and diverse book collection. Orville wrote: "We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity."  When Orville and Wilbur were ages 7 and 11, their father brought them a "helicopter" based on an invention by French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Penaud. The little toy made of bamboo, cork and rubber bands sparked their first interest in flight.  

The two brothers opened a bicycle shop in 1892, the same year German aviator Otto Lilienthal died in a glider crash.  His pioneering work had a great influence on them, and they decided to continue where he left off. They read everything they could about the subject, studied the motion of birds in flight, and designed experiments of their own. They built a small wind tunnel in the back room of their bicycle shop and spent hours conducting hundreds of tests. They would trust nothing they couldn’t prove themselves, no matter how widely accepted the information.  In November 1899, Wilbur wrote to the chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau to find a place with wind conditions suitable for flight. Kitty Hawk in North Carolina’s Outer Banks was a perfect fit, and Orville and Wilbur spent time there during 1900 to 1902 making successful trials with kites and gliders.  Here their vision became crystal clear—they would fly a powered machine.

Back in Dayton they immediately went to work on the project, only to meet stiff obstacles. Wilbur could find no engine manufacturers willing or able to build a motor light enough for a flying machine. Propeller design was also more difficult than the brothers had anticipated.  They also faced financial challenges – their work was entirely funded with profits from their bicycle shop, amounting to about $1000. Undeterred, the Wrights resolved to do the work themselves, assisted only by their shop machinist.

They returned to Kitty Hawk in late 1903 to test their Wright Flyer.  While the brothers contended with torrential winter rains and high winds, Samuel Langley was preparing to test his Great Aerodrome flying machine with great fanfare. Langley, a respected astronomer and aviation pioneer, was celebrated by the press and backed by more than $70,000 in grants from the US Army and the Smithsonian Institution.  On October 7, 1903 the manned Great Aerodrome shot out of a catapult mounted on a houseboat anchored in the Potomac River. It immediately nosedived into the water, in the words of one reporter, “like a handful of mortar.” 

Meanwhile the Wrights worked quickly to make their own attempt at powered flight. Stormy weather delayed their progress, and equipment failures and repairs added to their troubles. The sensible thing would have been to pack up their camp and return in the spring. But after having come so far with their goal within reach, they chose to keep going.

On the cold and blustery morning of December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers achieved the first controlled flight of a power-driven, heavier than air plane. Wilbur flew the longest of four successful attempts, an impressive 852 feet in 59 seconds. They surpassed their own milestone two years later when they built and flew the first fully practical airplane at Le Mans, France.

Intelligence, curiosity and an inventive spirit transformed the Wright brothers' vision of flight into reality. Faith and mutual support helped them overcome disappointment and keep that vision alive.

The Gift Of Today

“Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized.”

~Leo Buscaglia

For many of us, September 11 is a date etched deeply in memory. Yesterday marked sixteen years since more than 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC.  It seems as good a time as any to reflect on the gift of today.

Planning and time management are celebrated concepts in our achievement oriented society. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – most of us would agree that goal setting and being organized greatly enhance our professional and personal contentment. The trouble is we tend to spend so much time planning for the future that we risk missing out on the great moments appearing in front of us. This is sad, because we don’t know how many more moments we will be fortunate to experience.

You can’t live in the present, and experience all the joy and zest life has to offer, if you’re constantly planning for the next stage.  It brings to mind Dr. Doolittle’s “pushmi-pullyu”, the animal with a head at either end of its body which attempts to walk in two directions at once.

The present is the only moment in time you can control.  You can choose to enjoy it or despise it, waste it, capitalize on it or ignore it completely. Whatever you decide, the fact is that there’s no guarantee on the total number of moments you get, so take full advantage of the one you’re in right now.  It doesn’t mean you should stop setting goals – by all means make plans when necessary, just not at the expense of the life you’re living now.

As the familiar quote goes, Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

How To Make A Living From Doing What You Love

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. 

~ Steve Jobs

Pursuing your passion and following a soul-fulfilling career is a big part of a happy and satisfying life.  Once you’ve found your passion, though, how can you manage to do it every day and make money doing it?   What keeps many people stuck at jobs they don’t like is the fear of not being able to provide for themselves or their families. But fear doesn’t have to hold you back, because your passion truly can pay. Here are four important tips that can help you do what you love every day and make a living from it:

1. Learn from others and build on their success. 

You don’t have to create something totally new and innovative.  Watch, consult with and learn from people who are already succeeding at what you’d like to do. You might be surprised at how willing they are to help you.

2. Hire others to do what you don’t like to do or don’t do well. 

Getting inspired can be easy, but staying motivated in your business or career can be challenging when you struggle with tasks you don’t love. One of the best investments you can make is to outsource the tasks you don’t enjoy or you don’t excel at. You’ll maximize your job satisfaction and boost your productivity at the same time.

3. Set realistic goals. 

The secret to getting things done and staying encouraged is to break down one big goal into manageable parts.  If you check even one small task off your list everyday, you’ll feel as though you’re making progress. Little by little it will add up, and you will accomplish your goal quickly and almost effortlessly.

4. Don’t quit when faced with failure. 

Thomas Edison had thousands of unsuccessful attempts before he created a working incandescent light bulb. He said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Don’t quit the first time you come up against a serious challenge as you follow your dream. Even if things don’t go as planned, you’ve still gained valuable knowledge and experience to use on your next project. 

To Your Success!


Watch Your Language

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

~ George Orwell, 1984

Our thoughts are powerful things, acting as blueprints of the conditions we want to create. What what we think expresses itself in our words which eventually become our actions, and so it obviously pays to think positive thoughts about the future. However, thoughts are not the whole picture – we also have emotions, a physical body, energy systems in that body, and a spirit or soul. Even more important, this connection between our thoughts and our reality isn’t a one-way street.

The words we choose in everyday conversation not only reflect, but can also influence what we think.  Scientifically speaking, words are simply verbal signals, or electrical stimuli carried through sound that produce an emotional and biochemical response in both “sender” and “receiver”. Consider how words of love and encouragement have often inspired humans to think beyond themselves, achieve great things, and perform heroic deeds. Negative words are equally powerful destroyers of self-esteem and spirit.

Masters of propaganda know all too well how to use language as a weapon of psychological warfare, to shape public perception to their will and produce conformity of thought.  But we can use the same principles to free our minds and promote critical thinking. It starts with watching our language, noticing the things we tend to say repeatedly and automatically.  If we find ourselves making negative assumptions, for example about what people think of us or what is likely to happen in the future, it’s time to ask “is this really true?”  If not, we can use the power of positive speaking to form a different perception of reality, and eventually create a different and more favorable outcome.

New Beginnings

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

~Romans 12:2

Yesterday’s full solar eclipse was the first one in 99 years to be visible over North America. I was fascinated by the astronomical event itself, but even more so by all the speculations it generated (mostly involving death, destruction and disaster) in our “scientifically enlightened” society.   

This tremendous public interest - and fixation with doom and gloom - is nothing new. In many cultures, solar eclipse legends involve fearsome mythical creatures eating or stealing the Sun.  Others see angry and quarreling gods at work. Closer to home, some Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions interpret them as a sign of God’s displeasure with humanity’s sinful ways and harbingers of divine wrath, even of the end of the world.  Not everyone looks on this celestial event as an ill omen, however.  For many American Indian tribes, a total solar eclipse simply heralds transformation and new beginnings.  According to Crow traditional wisdom, the sun first dies and then is rejuvenated during a total solar eclipse.  For the Navajo, the Sun is the epicenter of all creation.  They view its eclipse as a sacred event linked to death and rebirth, a time for prayer, reverence and focus on the end of evil and the start of a better future.

Of course there’s no scientific evidence that solar eclipses affect human behavior, colorful legends notwithstanding.  However, I think it’s still a good excuse for considering where we’ve been and for making a new beginning in our personal lives.  In so many areas, we rely heavily on external standards to judge our own performance. That’s usually a good thing. It helps us stretch beyond our perceived limits and achieve greatness.  But if we continually compare ourselves to what everyone else is doing, we’re actually just conforming to the patterns of this world. The transformation to a new and better way of living starts when we choose to adhere to a “higher standard”, and follow up the renewing of our minds with soul-inspired action.  

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:23-25)

Have It Your Way

Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.

 ~ John C. Maxwell

Have you ever tried hard to keep moving in the direction of your dreams, only to get hung up on the “cursed hows?” Maybe you’ve asked yourself questions like these…

Can I walk 30 minutes every day instead of working out at the gym 3 times a week? Can I put all the cash back rewards from my credit card into savings instead of cutting out my morning coffee shop run? How about reading something from the Bible instead of meditating - can I do that?

Of course you can! No one can blame you for wondering though, not when we’re inundated with social media posts and articles that dramatize every problem and claim to offer the one and only magic bullet solution.  On top of that, legions of “experts” tell you that you have to do things a certain way or you'll never experience any kind of change.  It’s all very confusing, not to mention frustrating. Faced with so much drama and way too much advice, it’s easy to procrastinate, or worse, end up doing nothing at all.

Here’s one of the few pieces of “expert advice” I’ve ever come across that’s worth following - release yourself from the drama and do what works for you.  Design a personalized approach to achieving your goal based on things you already know. You don’t need permission to mix and match elements from different programs and create your own system for meeting benchmarks and dealing with any obstacles you meet on the way. 

Remember that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. You can “have it your way”. Maybe you’ll go with the diet from one health and fitness counselor and the exercise plan from another. Or you might combine a money mastery program with personal coaching from someone else. It's OK to experiment, to tweak the details as you go. After all, life happens and you can always adjust to changing circumstances as needed. What's not OK is giving up. This is the one "rule" you must always follow if you truly want to succeed.

To Your Brilliant Success!


© Clear Simple SOULutions LLC 2017