Don’t Peak Too Soon

This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with 4 of my childhood friends celebrating our “year” of 40th birthdays. I have known these gals since I was 8 years old; looking back over our long 30+ year friendships, I realized that we had figured out pretty early in our lives an important principle: “Don’t Peak Too Soon.”

Just like everyone else in junior high/high school, we faced the challenges of peer pressure and popularity, but through it all, we had developed an individual sense of ourselves, and seemed to “get” early on that there was a whole other world out there waiting for us to step into. We all went off to different colleges, moved to different cities, towards a combination of different goals: graduate schools, careers, marriage, motherhood…Seeing these gals at this stage in our lives, I was reaffirmed that we are all still growing and learning, and continue to propel forward in our individual journeys.

Over the course of my adult life, I have used this principle of “Don’t Peak Too Soon” to give advice. It’s not a terribly unique idea considering most of us are familiar with the story of The Ugly Duckling, and have seen a few romantic comedies with this theme. But – whatever happens to the ugly duckling after it turns into the swan? Does it meet the mate of its dreams? Does it have a mid-life crisis? Is it forced into early retirement, having to reinvent itself? The story doesn’t really end there.

At this stage in my life and my career, I find that this phrase is not just a simple piece of advice that I gave to former students or friends – it is truly one of my life principles…something that I try to life by to guide me and keep me on track. In recent years, I went through a long “plateau” in my own development – sometimes even in a bit of a “death spiral” for a short periods of time. During those times, I was just surviving – treading water, staying in one place, not growing or evolving, just spending enough energy to stay afloat.

But let me share with you something really important that I learned: when plateaus or spirals happens you have 2 very simple choices: 1. Do Something, or 2. Do Nothing.

 Here is another “a-ha”: Doing nothing is still a CHOICE that you make. And let me tell you – the energy it takes to do nothing can be exhausting, just like treading water for a long period of time. This is where resentment and victimhood can creep in and fester. Remember the wise Isaac Newton and the concept of inertia? Objects in motion stay in motion and objects at rest stay at rest. Gut check right now – are you resting, or are you in motion?

There is so much power in realizing the choices that we have in front of us. With the challenges we have had in this tough economy, I talk to a lot of people who are not happy with their careers. There are a lot of victims out there, blaming circumstances for their unhappiness. I have been there myself. If you find yourself there now – ask yourself: are you making the choice to do something or do nothing? Are you stuck in a plateau? What is holding you back? What choices are right there in front of you that you haven’t considered yet?

Figure it out – and get help from a friend, mentor, or coach – and do something to propel yourself forward.

I recommend some inspirational reading: “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Passion, Profits & Purpose” by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos.

Take charge of your journey. Grab the wheel and drive… as the song “Drive” by Incubus says: “When I drive myself, my light is found.”

Cosmic Karma

A variety of low value coins, including a (his...
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Welcome to my very first blog post ever. I hope you take some sort of inspiration away from it. Today I am reflecting on what my Uncle Ralph calls “Cosmic Karma.” Here’s why.

This morning, I took a walk with a good friend of mine, and I came across a penny – tails up. So, being somewhat superstitious, I turned the penny over to heads up and left it for some other lucky person to find. Not even 10 paces later, I came across another penny (a 1967 penny) – and this one was heads up – just waiting for someone like me to pick it up! I said to my friend, “If this isn’t proof of karma – I don’t know what is!” We chuckled, and continued our walk.

Ok – so this incident with the penny is a very small example of the much larger concept of “Cosmic Karma.” My uncle recently shared with me his idea about Cosmic Karma in terms of “debits” and “credits” into our “Cosmic Karma” bank accounts. Meaning, our actions do one of two things – they either deposit positively into our karma bank accounts, or they subtract from it. Once we run out, trouble ensues…but we can recover by taking actions that “credit” our accounts. This is something he has used to teach his core values to his kids – and it sure made a lot of sense to me.

The whole idea of karma reminds me of the beautifully poignant movie Pay It Forward. If you haven’t seen it – it is worth watching. Stream it via NetFlix – how easy – you could watch it tonight! In the movie, Haley Joel Osment plays Trevor, a young student who has been assigned by his teacher played by Kevin Spacey to think of something that can change the world and to put it into action. Trevor’s idea is this: rather than pay back a good deed, he will pay it forward by doing good deeds for 3 other people. In a short amount of time, Trevor has a dramatic impact on his teacher, mother and his entire community.

This brings me to my questions for the world out there: What is truly possible when we pay karma forward?  What doors open for us? How will we respond when the credit re-appears? How do you define karma?

Isn’t it possible that you can really change the world – starting with one small step? Is it really that hard to “turn that penny over” for someone? What actions have you done lately that deposit into your own “Cosmic Karma” account?

Please feel free to leave a comment!