Meet the Author

Although it seems counter intuitive, readers are primarily interested in the author after which they’ll read their books. An author could, for example, write prolifically yet have readers want to know intimate details about them. Readers, I’ve come to understand, long for this intimate knowledge combined with an emotional rapport with the author. It’s that “special bond” that lets readers know you’re human and that you care—about them and the world around you, generally speaking.

Let me tell you a bit about myself

When I was a teenager, I read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Manifest Your Destiny. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I already mentioned this. Although I’m repeating myself, I’d like to tell you more about my discovery now.

I read the book in a secret hiding place: our home’s verandah, where all the unused yet accumulated clutter was stored. I chose the verandah because I didn’t want anyone to know I was reading such a book. That’s because, on some level, I knew that what the book said was extremely powerful and that, provided one believed, it could happen. I remember squatting, surrounded by messiness (an old bicycle, my enormous, stuffed Clifford toy), staring at the book’s cover with its yellow hue and smiling author who mesmerized me. I looked at a then younger version of Dr. Dyer wondering, “Who is this man who knows such things?”

After reading the book, I promptly forgot all about it and proceeded to do all of the things (read, societally approved and expected behaviour) that everyone does. The idea, though, that manifesting one’s destiny was possible, however, remained planted somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind. It didn’t fade away. It remained for future reference.

As a teenager reading Dr. Dyer’s book, the idea that I could write books which would be distributed and sold all over the planet arose in my mind. It was probably too much for me to absorb, then, which is why I blocked it out.

There’s a time for everything

In the same way that we can’t force a flower to bloom, we can’t make an idea germinate before its time. Forcing something before its time can have counter productive, not to say disastrous, effects.

Dream time book planet

Image courtesy of dreamtime.

The Secret to Success in Social Media

Do you want to be more successful on social media? Perhaps you’d like to increase the number of your Facebook friends or gain more Pinterest and Twitter followers?

Giving is receiving

A golden rule to success on social media is to be generous. Don’t hesitate to click “like” if you really like something or post a brief and succinct comment where appropriate. Emoticoms are important, too, because they encapsulate many thoughts and emotions in a single image. Using them appropriately and effectively will increase your popularity.

Play by the rules

Not everyone plays by the rules; but if you do, you’ll be appreciated and sought after even more. When you post–and this applies to virtually all social media settings–be positive. Say things and/or choose images that are uplifting. There is enough bad news out there; why don’t you be a harbinger of good news.

Be engaging

If you have something to say, make sure that it’s timely, contemporary and interesting. People have very little time as it is, so don’t waste their time with nonsense. At the end of the day, we are all looking for something that we can add to our how-to-live-a-better-more-fulfilling-and-happier-life tool kit.

Don’t be sarcastic

We all have moments when we want to reply sarcastically to what someone says (in general or to us specifically). This is because it might sound stupid or rub us the wrong way.  Avoid this temptation by being nice or saying nothing instead. In the psychologist’s dictionary, sarcasm is a mask for sadness. Better to process the feeling and move on. It’s not true that what we say on social media doesn’t affect others because it’s the Internet and, hence, “not real;” on the contrary, what we say could have implications beyond which we are able to comprehend.

Be careful

This is why we need to be careful about what we say. Online publishing–whether it be e-books, group posts, tweets or pins–must be treated with care. You may want to ask yourself before you write something, Do I really want to say this? This simple question may save you much heartache later.

Enjoy yourself

In spite of the above caveats, you can and should enjoy yourself when you’re navigating the world of social media. By all means relax, feel good about yourself, and unabashedly say what you must bearing in mind that your words will be read more than once.

Social guru

When you feel completely self-confident, know who you are, what you’re about, whom you serve, and why you exist, you’ll be able to blog, post, write, pin and tweet flawlessly. This is the secret to increasing your following on social media.

For more on this topic, see my blog post, The 5 Golden Rules to Success in Social Media.

Success

Image credit: http://www.phildrolet.com/the-new-and-improved-definition-of-success/

PhilDrolet.com

How to tap into Inspiration

Do you ever look at a blank page and can’t seem to write a word? You have no idea at all what to write. You may start with something, struggle, and then, after a while, stop. You may even write several pages and then crumple them up because you feel dissatisfied with what you’ve written.

These are signs that you lack inspiration.

Inspiration, whose origin in Middle English means “divine guidance” and, via the Old French from the late Latin verb “inspirare,” means “breathe or blow into ‘from in-‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe.’ The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone.'” 1

Many people today know that by performing breathing exercises they engage in meditation. These kinds of exercises enable people to relax and “tap into” inspiration.

No rush here

If you want to be inspired, the best thing is not to rush. Forcing something will get you nothing but dissatisfaction.  It’s like trying to make a flower grow. A typical flower grows naturally when it’s well rooted in soil and receives enough sunshine and water. The process cannot be rushed. It’s the same way with writing.

Time

I believe that time plays a great role in receiving inspiration. If you can’t seem to come up with something, take a break, relax and drink a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. This will put your mind off of forcing yourself to come up with something. As you relax, over time, thoughts will traverse your mind. One thought will lead to another and, all of a sudden, you’ve come up with an idea for your blog post, chapter or novel!

Enhancement

Although the thoughts will be brief and almost like ‘sparks,’ you then need to enhance them by adding more to what you’ve received. This is where the hard work of writing and editing comes in. You will need to ‘dig’ around the ‘flower’ of your thoughts, clear out the ‘weeds’ and make sure you add plenty of ‘water.’

Nurture your inspiration

The ‘sparks’ you receive need to be nurtured in order to bloom into the beauty that they were always meant to be:  an inspired project. You need to nurture the seeds of inspiration so that they can grow. In many ways, writing a good blog post, chapter or novel is like cooking a great meal. My Aunt Sue says that if you put love into your cooking, the result will be wonderful.  It’s the same way with writing.

Don’t overcook the meal

Adding too many words to a project can be disastrous because your literary inspiration could ‘go up in flames.’  It’s important to say just enough, but no more than what is necessary.

May you be inspired today.

Beautiful Swan

Image title:  “Beautiful Swan”

Photographer:  Luba Rascheff

References

1 Oxford Dictionaries

2014: Make It Your Year

In a few hours, it will be 2014.

Personally, I’m feeling quite upbeat about what lies ahead in the New Year.

As I ride out the ice storm–or, more precisely, what’s left of it, viz., the arctic cold wave–my thoughts are leaping ahead. In a warm and cozy setting, my thoughts are clearly in the future.

Resolutions

Although speculating about the future and making resolutions can be risky, it’s worth it.

Be bold

Let’s be bold and resolve that:

  • 2014 will be our year
  • Great things will happen
  • Our positive state of mind will contribute to our success
  • Creative thinking will bring out the best of us
  • Energy is abundant (we don’t need to take it from others; we have our own supply)
  • Transformation is a given

A glass half full

When we permit ourselves to be positive and expansive, we see the glass half full. This lets us believe that more and more good–great, even–things are coming our way.

Resolve with me

I resolve that 2014 will be my year.

I believe I’m worthy and that great things will happen to me.

I know that change is a given and transformation is inevitable.

I accept the bounty that is rightfully mine.

Happy New Year!

Toronto Ice Storm

Image title:  Toronto in the Ice Storm

Image author:  Luba Rascheff

Fortitude

Fortitude has to do with facing pain or adversity courageously through endurance.

Light at the end of the tunnel

When we face difficult or challenging circumstances, we can become discouraged and think, When will this end?  The truth, however, is that nothing lasts forever.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Don’t give up

We endure certain hardships because we know that they won’t always be.  A Chinese philosopher said that the best way to face a seemingly unmovable obstacle that appears like a ‘boulder’ is to do nothing.  Nothing? you ask.  Nothing because by disengaging, you allow time to work on and solve the problem.

Resist futile efforts

Have you ever tried to solve a problem by tackling it aggressively with everything you’ve got only to see that all of your efforts were futile?  Nothing you tried seemed to work and it all ended in frustration.

This happens when we fail to realize that there is a right time for everything and that artificially attempting to manipulate outcomes doesn’t work.

The ‘umph’ factor

When we know that we cannot change a particular situation or fix a particular problem immediately, we need to endure.  We need to, essentially, dig our heels in and wait.

Time plays a big role

Determining when to act versus when to wait is vital.  If you feel that things are flowing, that certain people almost magically appear in your life, and that all the signs pertaining to resolution say ‘go,’ you can circumvent the ‘boulder.’  You can move around it!

Splash

Image by Luba Rascheff

The Story of Iannis V.

Writers are storytellers.

As I thought about a story to tell you, I settled on the story of Iannis V. *, a rich and influential Greek businessman.  I thought about him because he made an impact on me.

Even though Iannis owns over thirty homes, he mostly lives in two, one of which is a beach house.  He called me recently and asked, ‘What do you know about roses?’  I was flattered that he thought to ask me.  He explained that he wanted to plant them near his beach house and sell them.  ‘Near your beach house?’ I asked incredulously.  ‘Yes, yes!  I researched it and they’ll grow here just fine.’  I replied that I didn’t know much other than to mention Bulgaria’s Rose Valley.  It hardly surprised me that at an advanced age Iannis would attempt to cultivate roses near a beach for export.

To spend or not to spend

When we first met, he told me that, once upon a time, he didn’t have much money at all.  ‘When I didn’t have money, I staid home.  When I had money, I’d go out to the restaurant.’  It was an astonishingly simple yet powerful statement.  He then made some disparaging remarks regarding the spending habits of younger Greeks. 1

On a separate occasion, Iannis said, ‘When I was a teenager, my friends wanted me to smoke even though I didn’t.  One day, they bunched up on me and forcibly held me against a wall as they tried to stick a cigarette in my mouth.’  Iannis laughed out loud as he remembered, his perfectly intact, white teeth flashing and his brown eyes dancing.  ‘I fought back by kicking them hard.  I don’t smoke!’ he said earnestly.

Not only doesn’t he smoke, Iannis told me that he goes to bed at sunset and gets up at sunrise.  He told me he’s done this his entire life.

Good behavior, bad behavior

Iannis seems to attract scandal to him like a magnet.  Some people love him, while others hate him.  He’s even received threats.

In spite of it all, though, I think that Iannis V. is an extraordinary character.  Although lacking a formal education, he is brilliant, highly disciplined and an amazing businessman who knew exactly what he wanted from an early age.

—————————————————

* Name changed to protect identity.

1 He was referring to borrowing from parents and the use of credit cards.  Note that this conversation took place prior to the financial crisis of 2008.

2013-01-02 17.00.51

Image title:  ‘Sunset over the Acropolis’

Photographer:  Luba Rascheff

Crossing the Threshold of Excellence

If you’re like me, you place much emphasis on excelling through excellence.  You are meticulous, articulate, focused and aim at succeeding in all of your endeavors.

Stand out

What is that special quality that enables one to stand out in a crowd without resorting to inappropriate methods?

Impeccability

Do you behave the same way at home as you do at work?  Is your behavior flawless in the sense that you have one standard and that this standard defines, in fact is, your personal brand?

Accountability

Do you take accountability for your actions or, if things don’t work out, blame others?

Crossing the threshold of excellence

When you’ve made a conscious decision to stand out via your impeccability and pursuit of excellence, you’ve crossed the point of no return.  You’ve distinguished yourself from the crowd as someone who will succeed, period.

The difference between you and those who choose mediocrity is that you’ve consciously crossed the threshold of excellence.

What are the signs of having crossed the threshold of excellence?

  1. Acting will be easy.  Once you have consciously decided to accept responsibility and, generally speaking, ‘give it your all,’ you will immediately know how to act in all situations, even difficult ones.
  2. Doubt will vanish.  The doubt you once secretly harbored about yourself and your potential will vanish.
  3. A noticeable difference.  People won’t recognize you anymore.  ‘What?  Is that [put your name here]?’ they’ll ask.
  4. Success will come.  You will find yourself (even under difficult circumstances) easily succeeding (e.g., closing deals, increasing your reputation, etc.)
  5. A new vision.  When you cross the threshold of excellence, a new vision will come upon you:  the uncanny ability to ‘see’ what’s around the corner or down the road.

When you come to the point of no return and cross the threshold of excellence, you will stand out and your success will be unparalleled.

Reaching for Excellence

Reaching for Exellence

Image source:  xaxor.com/photography/21817-mountain-climbing-photography-by-various-photographers.html

How to Get What You Want

Getting what you want is not as hard as you may think.  They say that when you really want something, the whole universe conspires to help you get it.

What do you want?

The first step in getting what you want is knowing what you desire.  You must sit down and think about, really think about, what it is you wish to attract to your life.

Ignore the push-pulls

Others may envision different things for you than you envision.  In the process of obtaining your heart’s desires, it is imperative that you ignore the desires of others and focus on your desires.  Although this may sound selfish, it is often the case that people who lack confidence may wish to live through you vicariously.  Let them; but only after you’ve focused on your goals, not theirs.

Once you’ve established what it is you truly desire, like your dream job, imagine that you are already there.  See yourself in the position of your dreams, seated at your desk, in your office, with a name plate bearing your name on your office door.

Stop struggling

When you decide, visualize and believe that you’ve already obtained the position that’s best for you, for which you’re best, and that fits you most, processes will kick in to make it a reality.  It’s not that you will suddenly stop acting; you will act, but in a very limited and targeted way.  You will act only in the sense of performing necessary actions.  This may mean sending out your resume, improving your LinkedIn Profile, or making a phone call.

Why do we make it hard?

I think that we often make things harder for ourselves than they need to be because of insecurity.  We think that if we do more or push harder, we will somehow be ‘more.’  This is not true.

Be in the moment

To get your dream job, you’ll need to be in the moment.  Don’t be anxious.  Don’t try to figure out how it will happen. Instead, continue visualizing and deeply believing that what you want is already yours.

Light Balance

Light Balance, by Luba Rascheff

Do you have a plan?

How far into the future should we plan for?  Days, months, years perhaps?  John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

A couple of months at most

Don’t bother making plans that exceed several months at most.  This precious advice (which was, incidentally, given to me) is best because:  change is the only constant.

Don’t be disappointed

If you plan ahead no more than, say, two months, you won’t be disappointed if things don’t go according to plan.

Plan B

Although Plan A is wonderful and makes your heart “sing,” don’t forget to tuck away Plan B.  Although you wish for, dream about, long for and can’t picture life without Plan A, keep Plan B in your “pocket” just in case.

Although we may have a perfectly clear vision of where we’d like to be five years from  now and that this vision may, in fact, be realized, unpredictable, unforeseeable events can and often do happen–especially when we least expect them.

Expect the unexpected

This is why it’s important to limit ourselves when planning.  We just don’t know what life will bring.  Perhaps it’s best, therefore, to expect the unexpected.

Flexibility in the face of change

How do you deal with a plan change?  What will you do if–for reasons that are entirely outside of your purview–Plan A fails?  The reason we need to have an alternate plan or plans is to be able to face life changes with flexibility.  Becoming entrenched in a favorite outcome and seeing that outcome suddenly become unattainable is painful yet should make us more flexible.

Realistic expectations

When we make plans, our expectations should be realistic.

Attainable goals

Set goals you can actually attain.

Pragmatic permutations

When you’re thinking strategically, think like a pragmatist.  “Pragma” means “thing” in modern Greek.  So, think “thingy” as opposed to “iffy.”  Be fully confident that what you deeply think about and long for will be yours; yet don’t pre-concretize exactly how it will happen.  Don’t rigidly determine ahead of time how the plan will pan out.

Plan

Image source:  manheimtownship.org

Reality is in the Detail

How much attention do you pay to your environment?  Do you notice what’s happening around you?  How careful are you regarding details pertaining to, for example, your job?

Pay attention

Many people go about their daily business as if they wore blinders.  They focus on a goal yet ignore everything else.  It’s as if nothing existed but their singular aim with the rest of the world meaning next to nothing.  This is not the right approach to take because:  details do matter.

Lost opportunities

Glossing over important details means that you will lose golden opportunities.  Your understanding will be diminished; you will be more rigid and less flexible; your capacity to enjoy life will be curtailed; and you will miss out on life-transforming knowledge.

Intricate interconnectedness

We are not isolated beings single-mindedly following personal agendas.  We are socially-interconnected beings whose behavior affects everyone and everything around us.

High-definition reality

In order to fully experience the richness of our existence, we need to stop “blindly” pursuing limited, personal gain.  Our gain will come in full when we admit that we are interwoven into the social fabric.

The 5 steps to seeing detail and increasing awareness

  1. Observe  Your ability to observe (whether documents, people or situations) will increase your acumen.  The power of observation (i.e., paying attention to minutiae) will draw you closer to reality.
  2. Remember the details you see  After observing important details, write notes to help you remember what you’ve seen.  You could, for example, keep a work-related journal and use dates and times to record matters of importance.
  3. Incorporate what you’ve seen  As you re-read your journal entries or notes, remember the details you described using the written word in your mind’s eye.  This will increase your ability to:  connect with the world around you; develop your memory; and, ultimately, improve your work performance.
  4. Understand the relevance of detail  When you read your journal, you will realize the high degree to which people and events are interconnected; where you belong in the story; and the great importance of minutiae in all things.
  5. Enjoy your new, heightened awareness  It would not be an exaggeration to say that paying attention increases awareness.  Paying attention to the details (e.g., of your job) will enhance your ability to hear and see; focus; and make connections that will increase your awareness and, in turn, result in benefits.

Details