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Timeless Wisdom

This week on “Life Shifting with Dr J” I had the opportunity to meet that rare, special kind of leader, one who truly “walks the talk.” In a world where scandal, duplicity, and political maneuvering seem to define the leadership landscape, it is encouraging–and inspiring–to know that there are leaders out there who have integrity, humanity, humility, and most importantly, wisdom. Dr David Surrenda, CEO of the Kripalu Institute for Yoga and Healing, is one of those leaders. He is a clinical psychologist and a thirty year veteran of the corporate, academic and organizational consulting worlds, and author of multiple books on leadership and self-development, most recently: “Retooling on the Run: Real Change for Leaders with no Time.”

I was honored to have him join me on my show. Click here to listen or download to Itunes/Mp3. Wowed by his clear, concise and simple message about leadership, I am in complete sync with his core principle: it is all about self-mastery. As I write in my book, “Shift: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear,” it is impossible for us to be role models as leaders until we gain a measure of self-awareness — and humbly take up the gauntlet to LEAD OURSELVES.

As David pointed out in our conversation, self-mastery is not about becoming a “super hero,” but rather about becoming adept at stalking ourselves, becoming aware of our faults, our habits, and our fears–not with an ear for self-criticism, but with an eye for seeing how we can put in place practices to become more fully realized as humans.

Key to this journey of self-realization is shortening the “recovery time” from when go off track–get triggered, practice a bad habit, break a commitment, fall victim to fear, etc.

Mastery=Quick Recovery not Perfection

We will never be perfect, nor are we ever “finished” manifesting our full potential. BUT, with a commitment to continuously growing, learning and tracking ourselves, we can surely become more of WHO WE ARE MEANT TO BE.

I dearly hope you will take time to download the interview and hear from David directly. You will love his quick and concise six-step methodology for self-mastery. Here’s a preview synopsis:


1. Gain Perspective– take the long view
2. Be a Student–of your self
3. Clarify Your Intent–know where you are headed
4. Map Your Patterns-look for gaps in consistency
5. Course Correct–don’t criticize, simply correct and re-balance
6. Evaluate Progress–shorten the “recovery time”

In a time when the world is crying out for wise leaders, I am heartened to know that people like David Surrenda are out there doing their thing, leading organizations that shape our world. Kripalu is one of the largest holistic health centers in the entire world…and I’m happy to be able to say, it is in good hands.

Thanks David…and to all, Namaste,

Dr J


Leap and the Net Will Appear

Hello everyone!

Are you ready to be inspired?

Have you ever wondered how all those amazing non-profit organizations out there helping people, all over the world, with counseling, financial support, mentoring, volunteers–get started? Maybe you’ve thought about starting a non-profit yourself but thought, “Well, those kinds of organizations are only for rich people like Bill Gates?” NOT.

This week I had the privilege of hosting Leo Preziosi, the amazing, passionate, founder of a non-profit called “Live Out Loud, on my weekly radio show, Life Shifting with Dr J, This wonderful non-profit organization, dedicated to providing role models and support to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) youth, has been doing extraordinary work–for over ten years! Founded by Leo in 2001, Live Out Loud works with high school and college LGBT support groups — bringing successful role models from the gay community BACK to their hometowns and colleges–to speak, mentor, and present a POSITIVE FUTURE to kids that may be struggling with sexuality, bullying, and virulent homophobia.

For anyone who has ever dreamed about doing something BIG in the world, stepping up and doing something to truly help those in need–Leo is an inspiration. He graciously agreed to come on my show and share his wisdom and insights about HOW and WHAT it takes to MAKE A DIFFERENCE every single day.

I hope you will tune in or download my interview with Leo–just click here or go to www.transformationtalkradio.com and look for Dr. Jeffrey Hull, under “hosts”.

I was deeply moved by Leo’s dedication to kids and his gift for starting, building and, most of all, sustaining a non-profit organization for over ten years. For anyone out there thinking about joining or starting a non-profit…Leo would surely say, “Go for it! Take the leap…and the net will appear!” Here are a few of his wise tips:

1. Go with your passion! All it takes is an IDEA…but you have to believe in it PASSIONATELY. What you care about MATTERS. Leo’s story is simple but moving. He read an article about two high school boys who committed suicide rather than have to deal with the pain of being gay in a world that shunned them. He was moved to his core…and made a simple decision: to do something. What moves you? What suffering in the world are you not willing to tolerate? What might you do about it?

2. Don’t go it alone. Find companions to join you on the trip.

All hands on deck

Build a coalition of like-minded folks who want to help.

3. Seek out the experts. Recognize your strengths (Leo, for example is great at creating events and raising funds) and seek out people with expertise that fills in your gaps (he acknowledged that he’s not great with administration and accounting!).

4. Don’t be afraid to ask. Leo shared a great story about the challenge of fund-raising: learning to ask for $$$$. He acknowledges that it can be daunting…and you have to learn to handle “no”…or “not now”…but many many people are out there who WANT to help. You have to learn to ask.

5. Stick with it. Organizations that last ten years like Live Out Loud grow incrementally and steadily…as Leo recounts, it is not a sprint to the finish line, rather it is about making small and steady steps in the direction of growing, affirming what you care about, being persistent…and staying true to your dream.

Thanks Leo…for you amazing story and the powerful, uplifting work you are doing in the world to support gay youth. We all know, from recent highly publicized events, that bullying and prejudice, unfortunately, are alive and well in our society. Even in a world where TV and movies now regularly portray gay people as just like everyone else–we have a long way to go in creating a society where acceptance and tolerance are the NORM rather than the exception.

I hope you’ll tune in to my interview with Leo, and more importantly, think about how you might GET INTO ACTION and volunteer, join…or maybe start an organization…even a MOVEMENT. Why not?

One person really CAN make a difference

With gratitude,

Dr J

Success Strategies with Dr Richard Norris

Greetings all,

Global synchronicity brought me a cool guest for my show last week: Dr Richard Norris, author of the new book, “Hoof it! Seven Strategies for your Journey of Success” all the way from Scotland! Very insightful guy…shared his inspiring tale with us of SHIFTING from a long career as a veterinarian into a small-biz owner, entrepreneur, coach and writer! Many years of competitive swimming…and a tumble down the rabbit hole of unemployment (been there!) gave Richard the tenacity and inspiration to discover his true passion: helping people build the business of their dreams!

In his fun new book, he goes back to his “animal” roots (e.g. veterinarian by trade!) and concocts a powerful narrative about life on the African Savannah — and the lessons we can learn about life–and success–from the kingdom of, well…what can I say..Wildebeests!

Couldn't find Wildebeests...but love those LIONS!

Suffice to say, it is a great ride through the “circle of life” and Richard draws a powerful message from his tale of hard knocks in the wild. To hear more of my conversation with Richard and get a cool preview of his Seven Strategies…click here.

The big take away for me? I loved Richard’s principle #4: Be prepared to Change and Learn. What’s been bugging me lately…is that the big time “self-help gurus” are all out on the circuit this month, it being January…exhorting about how important it is to set goals for the year, to have a “vision”…to know where you’re headed…blah, blah, blah. I know, you’ve heard it all before. And, of course, it’s true. You are far more likely to achieve your dreams and manifest success if you have a goal in mind…and clarity of purpose. BUT< and here is my big bugaboo…we don't always KNOW what we want.

Some of us (e.g. like me!) don't just wake up on January 2nd of each year…and have a full blown picture of what the audacious goal for the year…or the decade for that matter…should be. In situations like this, when you just don't have the goal clear in your mind, or perhaps you've just accomplished something you set out to do last year, you feel a bit of a void. THIS IS NORMAL. I have had a surfeit of clients in my office this past week, all complaining that they SHOULD (I think, "Danger Will Robinson"…whenever I hear this word!) have their minds made up about the future. Excuse me? Check out chapter four of my book, SHIFT: Let Go of Fear and Get Your Life in Gear…on “The Tyranny of Should.” Goal setting is important…but what is not helpful is to criticize yourself if you haven't reached clarity yet…and OMG it is January 15th!~ Whoa. Slow down.

As Richard and I discussed…sometimes you have to breathe, step back, reflect…and as I describe in my book, RETREAT, for a little while…a day, a week, even a few months, in order for the fog to lift and the next great vision to appear. Don't despair. Nature is on her own timetable…relax

Give Yourself TIME for the LIGHT to Shine

and let yourself fantasize and dream…the more outrageous the better. As Richard describes in his Principle #4, it is important to be open to changing and learning…get feedback from those who know you…listen to your heart…and give space to yourself if the picture is not yet clear.

Thanks Richard for giving us a great fable for success in these challenging times. I'm feeling much better already…and my own goals for the year are finally beginning to appear…and just think it's only February.


Dr J

Dancing on the High Wire of Life

Howdy all,

Time for a re-cap of my fabulous radio interview with Gabriele Ganswindt this past Monday on Life Shifting with Dr J. Such a cool conversation! Gabriele, psychologist and executive coach extraordinaire, is an expert on two of my favorite “Life-Shifting” themes: finding balance…and building resiliency in challenging times! A most timely topic no? You can listen to the full interview or download to Itunes/podcast with this link: http://www.transformationtalkradio.com/meet_shows.php?id=3991#

So here is your key question: HOW DO WE DO IT?

What to do?

How do we stay grounded, flexible and adaptable in the midst of what may feel like an “out-of-control” world?

A tough question, needless to say, but Gabriele says, “Don’t despair! There ARE practices and ways of being/thinking that can truly help us stay “on track” and centered, even in the midst of chaos.”

Gabriele knows of what she speaks: She is a successful business owner, a mother to two young children, a homemaker, a philanthropist, a writer, an ordained interfaith minister, an organization development consultant and life coach…and a survivor of a life-threatening illness. Continue reading

Life Shifting with Dr J: Recap!

Howdy all,

So excited to report that my radio show on Transformation Talk Radio is humming along! Reaching amazing new numbers of listeners each week! Have you been tuning in? Every Monday at 5pmEST on WBLQ 1230 am radio in New England and “live” (or download) at www.transformationtalkradio.com. Click on “November” and you can play or download this show to your MP3 player or Itunes.

Last week I had a great show that re-kindled the “sleepy entrepreneur” in me: From Ho-Hum to Outrageous! Transformational Business Strategies from the Inside Out! My special guest, Kathie Nelson, is a business strategy consultant and executive coach who has been helping people start businesses and increase sales for twenty years. She was an inspired and eloquent guest–bringing her wisdom and enthusiasm to thousands of listeners all across the country. Wanna know some of her “top tips” for creating an outrageous life? Continue reading

Every Day a Little Death

In the parlor…in the bedroom…OK so I like Stephen Sondheim! As many of you will know, this is a line from a famous song in one of his musicals. Perhaps not the most upbeat note with which to kick off an article, but what the hell. Death is on my mind today.

Could this be the start of something GOOD?

In a good way.

You see, after dialoguing with my writing partner, Judy Fox, about the challenges we all face in “shifting our lives into high gear” we agreed that one of the most difficult moments in any major life shift is—letting go of an Identity. It feels like death. Not the real thing, perhaps, but in the moment, pretty darned close. The truth is, we LOVE our labels, our fixed roles, our corner offices, and business cards that PROCLAIM who we are to the world. But, how else can we welcome in a new sense of possibility, the energy of creativity and spontaneity, if we don’t step out of the comfy, cozy corners of identity that we build for ourselves?

Sure, in moments when life suddenly shifts and doors open to
new possibilities, it can feel exhilarating and fresh. But it can also feel terrifying and frightening, as we step out of our known frames of reference and dangle precariously in the unknown.

leap of terror? Or faith?

Yesterday, I spoke with a client who sees himself as hanging on the edge of a precipice in his corporate job: Things in his company have shifted dramatically around him and he worries that a transfer or a downsizing may be heading his way. He feels frustrated and unhappy and like a victim of circumstances—bad bosses, bad economics, bad timing, bad colleagues…you name it.

He does have choices: 1. he can quit (but he doesn’t have a job); 2. he
can step up and declare what he wants–a new role, a promotion, a new opportunity; 3. or he can sit back, do nothing, and let the frustration build until he gets sick…or worse, fired for having a bad attitude. Sound familiar? I have seen this kind of situation many times in my career as an executive coach…and…I have been in this situation myself a few times.

Looking back, I wish I had been less stuck in fear, more willing to hang over the
edge, more willing to trust myself, take a chance…and take a stand. Why? Because every time I finally stepped out of my box of victim energy, and moved into the open sky of possibility, amazing things would happen. Whole new vistas of possibility would appear that I had NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

But I had to shed that part of my identity that was holding
me back: my attachment to a particular job title, office configuration, box on the org chart, etc. Something had to die, to be buried up there on the cliff before I was light and trusting enough to step off…and soar. Now, I am not advocating that you leap before you look, nor have I told my client to jump willy-nilly into the unknown.

Take a leap...the water's fine!

BUT I have told him that after learning all he can about the landscape before him, he should go ahead and MAKE A DECISION. Ask for what he wants. TAKE THE LEAP. Let go. Let that small, used-up, no-longer useful identity that he claims is his…die.

So strange as it sounds, I’m asking that you think about death today. What story do you tell about yourself that might have outworn its useful life? Think of all the different labels that you wear, the ways you supposedly “know” yourself to be: “worker-bee”, “boss”, “professional”, “adult”, “parent”, “over-weight”, “out-of-shape”, “non-spiritual”, “hard worker”, “always tired”, “oppressed”, “underpaid”, etc… Is there one you’d be willing to part with? Even a small one?

For example, I’m contemplating the possibility of letting my identity as a “coffee addict” die. Even as I write these words, I stand on the precipice: Could I actually walk by a Starbucks and not go in? (Stay tuned). Birth requires death.

Tomorrow, my client will walk into his bosses office and make a decision, take a stand, and become a different person. He already honors himself as a leader of others. But soon, just maybe, by stepping off that cliff of the known, he will become different kind of leader–a leader of self.

Peace…gotta run to Starbucks…Dr J

p.s. Click here everyday-littledeath for a wonderful tool (thanks Ambrin!) to help you do an inventory of your most cherished “identities,” think about which ones might need to die…and what’s waiting to be born!

The Lull

Did you ever come to the end of a big project–or maybe a ritual culmination like a wedding or graduation ceremony–and in the wake of the BIG CELEBRATION…sort of “crash?” I call it “post party depression” –and, anecdotally, I think it’s quite common.

Celebrate those Peak Moments!

Our culture is so fixated on achievement, goal setting, and being busy…that when the degree is conferred, the marriage consummated, the promotion granted–and in my case, the book launched–the aftermath of a big “win” in life can feel strange, even unnervingly quiet. In the wake of the realization of a long sought goal in life, the next stage of the cycle is inevitable: the Rupture.

The Inevitable Morning After

This is one reason, among many, that I don’t put much stock in all the “happiness in five steps” kinds of self help literature that is all the rage these days. Life just doesn’t seem designed for endless happiness–unless your seeking a life of complacency and comfort. For those of us committed to continuously growing and expanding, and learning, the ups and downs of life are a NORMAL and expected part of the adventure. At the end of the day, our egos may try desperately to hang tight in “happy land” but our souls have a different goal: to seek meaning, purpose, growth…and depth.

Many of my friends and clients are in what I call “Rupture” these days–a period of upheaval, anxiety, and lack of clarity. In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-09, it seems that as we emerge from the depths the questions of where we are headed and how we should get there–a traditional “job,”, an entrepreneurial venture, a move to greener pastures (many of my clients are downsizing, packing up and moving…but to where?)–are alive and well and seem to be crying out for answers. NOT SO FAST.

On the Lookout for Greener Pastures?

The “Rupture” stage is its own rhythms, its own emotional landscape and time table. We need to (try) relax into it…to pause, re-group and once in a while let go of our NEED to always be busy, moving, and addicted to KNOWING. Sometimes it is better to just live into the questions…and let go.

So given that I’m experiencing the “shift” from a Realization stage of life (launching a new book) into the next Rupture/Release–transitional–myself, I thought I’d share with you a few tips that I use to get through these anxious/depressed moments in the cycle of self-renewal. Here’s my short list:

1. BREATHE (a lot!). I know we all do it all the time right? But do we stop, sit still, and breathe deeply into our core…with an awareness of the awesome power of the breath to help us calm, ground and center? Not often. Conscious breathing–deep, full and with intention–is one of most powerful ways to bring yourself out of the head space of worry and anxiety and back to the present moment…and your life.

Move and Breathe!

2. EXERCISE (a lot!). We all know–and are told endlessly by the diet, nutrition and self-help gurus that exercise is key to a healthy, happy life. I obviously agree. Yet it is especially important in times of stress, anxiety and upheaval that we take time to BE IN OUR BODIES and MOVE, whether in yoga, running, bicycling, etc. Whatever you enjoy that gets you out in nature and moving: do it! Exercising your body burns calories, releases endorphins (happy hormones!) and increasing the serotonin levels in your brains…supporting you to worry less…and dream more.

3.STAY OPEN TO RECEIVE. One of the biggest paradoxes that I see in our culture is the addiction to “working hard” at finding the right path, whether it be a job, a relationship, a purpose. Now don’t get me wrong, you can’t become successful or find the love of your life by sitting curled up on the sofa all day. On the other hand, it is important to balance all the “doing” of finding the next big thing with just being open to receive–to be present and awake to WHAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Sometimes the right person, or the right idea will arrive when you least expect it, but if you’re too busy working through your to-do list in order to ward off anxiety…you’ll miss it/them.

4. LOOK FOR SIGNS. Along the same trajectory as number 3, part of being “open to receive” is being on the lookout for symbols, signs, and intuitions–messages or pointers toward your next great future that may show up in unlikely ways or from unusual places. Instead of “going out networking” — pay more attention to the people, places and things that show up right in your own space…in the elevator, at the supermarket. You never know when someone with the key to your future may be standing right in front of you…and you didn’t have to go to five networking events to meet them. They are right next door!

Allow the Universe to Re-write Your Narrative

5 HELP OTHERS. The most important “shift” in energy for me during a “Rupture” stage–when I feel ungrounded, unsure and in need of release of something…but I’m not sure what…always occurs when I move my attention away from my internal drama and look outside myself to where I may be of service to others. In the instant you shift your focus from “woe is me” to “how can I help?,” an amazing transformation occurs in your energy and in the energy of those around you.

In almost every situation where I’ve supported a client to look for a place to help out others–even when in the midst of what feels like their own career or relationship meltdown–the result is miraculous: the mere act of giving transforms the energy of anxiety into gratitude, service and possibility. Try it…it works!

Well, here I go again living in paradox: as someone who doesn’t really believe in the five-step instant path to happiness, I’ve just laid out my “five steps” to getting through the “Rupture” stage with, if not happiness, then perhaps a little less angst and whole lot less suffering. Oh well, I reserve the right to contradict myself now and again. But buyer be aware: my steps are not designed to make the rupture disappear (that would definitely be EGO speaking), but rather to make the ruptures we all go through pass with less fear and more meaning.

The “down shift” half of the cycle of self-renewal (Rupture, Release, Retreat) that I write about in my new book, SHIFT, is inevitable and unavoidable. Our egos would rather focus on “happiness projects” and try to deny the normal, natural cycles of life.

I advise against it: you only postpone the pain. Nature knows what she is doing; she is preparing the ground, clearing the detritus from the past, sowing seeds, and creating space for something new, something amazing and something wonderful to emerge–the next great phase of life to be lived.

Nature is Always Planting Seeds....

Please share your thoughts with me on these questions: Are you in a “rupture” moment in your life? What do you do to say grounded (some of my clients take LOTS of naps…and bubble baths!)? What tricks do you use to keep your soul awake and quiet the ego-mind?

In rapturous rupture,

Dr J