Monday, January 27, 2014

3 Timeless Lessons From Forrest Gump

It's the 20th anniversary of the release of Forrest Gump this summer

Over the recent holiday break, I had the joy of watching the 1994 film phenomenon, Forrest Gump with my two kids for the first time. It was so amazing to watch this classic film and experience it through the eyes of my 21st century children.

The way my kids anticipated the happenings of the film showed me how much more tuned in emotionally my kids are versus me at their age. The questions they had (which were few but really good) and the discussions they initiated reminded me of the power of fiction in our lives. I was also reminded of so many timeless and valuable messages that the book and film brought to life through the eyes of the simplistic man Forrest Gump. Here are three we could use more of nowadays:

True Friends Are Few and Precious

It did not go unnoticed by my 12 and 8 year old that Forrest had only a few friends in his life. Both kids immediately noted that his friendships with Jenny and Bubba were deep and lasting, even though they were so different. In the Facebook age, we often confuse what friends truly are friends to us. Friends make no regard for what we can or cannot do, they accept and love us for who we are.  Forrest was blessed to have at least two people at different eras of his life who loved him unconditionally. Both Jenny and Bubba loved and protected Forrest and he protected them both in return. Even in his passing Bubba provided inspiration for Forrest beyond what Forrest himself could truly comprehend. Friends are few and precious and even a simple man like Forrest Gump did not miss this.

Authenticity Trumps Every Thing

Throughout the story of Forrest Gump, we see the importance of being authentic. From his mom doing whatever was "necessary" to ensure her son had the best education to the moving scene near the end of the movie when Forrest meets little Forrest and frighteningly asks Jenny about his aptitude, we see so many people just being who they are and embracing it. Think about Jenny herself, abused and lost from her childhood days, she took risks and lived her life the way she saw best. Forrest embraced his own simplistic ways and continued to pursue activities in his life that honored his talents and strengths. Lt. Dan was another example of someone who had to face his actual life versus the one he'd planned in his mind. And each one was able to live in peace once they accepted their authentic selves.

Love Begets Love

From beginning to end, we see examples on top of examples of love and how love begets love.  Mrs. Gump's love towards Forrest, despite the hardships they faced, her single motherhood, his physical and mental disabilities, is a clear picture of instilling love from the beginning. Unconditional, tough, honest and cultivated love.  We see how the love Forrest was raised with permeated his life, causing him to befriend Bubba and not even blink as it was counter cultural at that time. That secure love bond made it easy for him to keep his word and share his fortune with Bubba's family even when no one would have been the wiser had he done otherwise. Forrest and his unconditional love for Jenny since their childhood days allowed him to stay connected to her throughout their lives and gave him the chance to spend her last days on earth attending to her. That initial seed of unconditional love planted in Forrest in his youth blossomed and gave fruit again and again throughout his life.

It's hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since Forrest Gump entered pop culture and taught us so much. I am grateful to be able to re-live and learn again with a new generation. Friendship, authenticity and love are the most valuable lessons I learned and live daily from the man from Greenbow, Alabama.

Monday, January 20, 2014

#IAmDrKing and So Are You

My all-time favorite Dr. King photo - a warm smile

Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is nothing I can write that has not been written already. Every year we commemorate and really stop as a nation to focus on what this extraordinary individual did to change our country. What I can do is let you in on something I decided last year and solidified my decision while I was mourning the loss of the late great Nelson Mandela.


Oh yeah, it's greater than any old hashtag that is floating around. It is a way of life. You see, last year about this time, I entered what I am now calling a "desert experience" and really battled internally with all my thoughts/feelings/reactions/actions related to race, gender, poverty and US policies tied to all of them. I had to redefine my own relationship with race and what resulted was my new resolve.

There is not going to be another leader to inspire me as Dr. King or Mr. Mandela did for their respective generations and beyond. The landscape has changed. The needs are the same but the delivery and execution is different. The idea that someone particularly gifted is going to "lead" the next revolution of love has all but dissolved from my mind. I am not looking for inspiration externally any more.

I will find my courage from within.

I will find my inspiration in the mirror.

I will live and love as best I can, with all people.

And today, I challenge each of you to do the same. Look around your life and find places where you can not just honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy - you can live it.


and so are you.

Monday, January 13, 2014

3 Ways To Get A Non-Compliant Onboard

This is me. Not literally but pretty close.

One of my blessings and curses in life is my spirit of non-compliance. Some people call it stubborn. Other people call it determined. Yet others call in innovative. All my life, my non-compliant personality has been both the best and worst thing I have going for me.

On one hand, it has been an enormous tool to inspire me to solutions for many complex challenges I have faced in my life. Additionally, I've been able to channel my non-compliance for the good of many organizations that I have served over the years.

It has also resulted in tremendous frustration as I tried to solve issues that just weren't meant to be solved by me or just plain were not to be solved at all, by anyone. What's saved me is the discernment to know the difference. As I was reflecting recently, I realized that there are ways to move me as a non-compliant and I thought it would be good to share that for others who do life with non-compliant people.  First, let's look at a definition of non-compliant. defines non-compliant this way:

1. n.        a person who refuses or fails to comply
2. adj.     boldly resisting authority or an opposing force

Now let's look at three tactics to help you sway the non-compliant in your life.


The sooner you concede to a non-compliant the better. Surrender in this case is to surrender your need to convince the non-compliant in your life and acknowledge this verbally. Let your non-compliant know that you don't expect them to change their mind but that you will still offer your solution and/or path. First, you will have their attention by just your word choice. Most non-compliant people are deliberate in their language and they appreciate when deliberate language is reciprocated. Second, you've opened the door to choice. Non-compliant people do not like to be cornered and love options. Give them options but keep driving the point you want to make.


When you are up against a non-compliant, most often, they are armed to the hilt with data supporting their stance. Nothing makes a non-compliant more confident that finding validating information to bolster his/her position. However, nothing moves a non-compliant like proof, even if it's proof in their opposition. While they are not likely to just roll over to your position, it is so much easier to have conversations with a non-compliant when you show that you've done your homework and are ready to have an intelligent discussion.  Non-compliant people are first and foremost learners and creators. Learners know that there is always information out there that they don't know. Use that information the next time you have to move a non-compliant in your life.


Bring a non-compliant in by baking ideas together. The whole reason a non-compliant refuses is tied to his/her ability to contribute and see their contribution. Non-compliant people do not just accept things as they are; often times, they like to create the scenario or picture how things could be.  When not given an opportunity to contribute, you can count on non-compliant folks to be disruptive and try to drive change other ways. Collaboration is key and lots of times non-compliant people drive it but they are big supporters when others drive collaboration, too. It gives them much need rest from the helm. It also gives them a chance to learn something new from a different perspective, which is a big value for non-compliant personalities.

Whether your non-compliant is a child in your class or a co-worker on your team, follow one or more of these tactics and you're sure to sway your favorite non-compliant person your way more often.

Monday, January 6, 2014

#2014Unencumbered My Theme For The New Year

Best visual for the word unencumbered

Back in late 2011, when it was amply clear that my side gig, Relationships Matter Now, LLC was going to be my main gig, I decided I needed a theme (and hashtag) to power me through the next year. I landed on #2012Rocks.

I cannot tell you how helpful and fun it was to end certain social media posts with #2012Rocks. It was like the team huddle scream whenever I made progress or moved closer to profitability. Then for 2013, I was stumped.

Not just wanting a fun rallying cry, I had a rough time coming up with the theme that would carry me through the good and the challenging moments of year. Then on New Year's Eve 2012 in the basement of a friend's house, I was reminded that I needed to face the new year without fear and so #2013Fearless was born. That theme served me well,  even becoming part of my first TEDx talk that I entitled Care More, Fear Less in the spring.

Going into 2014, I was not as perplexed to find a theme. I knew my theme had to embody both tough and good times as the 2013 one had done. My theme also had to acknowledge the big hairy audacious mountain of goals and objectives I'd put on myself both personally and professionally for this new year.

So many great words and phrases crossed my mind the last two weeks of 2013 as I tried hone it on the theme and hashtag I count on all year long. Then it hit me.



It's a clunky word and surely makes for a long hashtag but I could not shake it once I started toying with it in my head. defines unencumbered as:

1.  not impeded, slowed down, or retarded; free to move, advance, or go forward.
2.  having few or no burdens or obligations.
3.  not burdened or weighed down, as with bulky or heavy objects.
I love that definition, every word, especially under 1. "not impeded, slowed down ... free to move, advance and go forward." That's exactly what I needed going into this new year. Ironically, I'd already come up with my theme, although I had not shared it, when I met with my B.E.S.T. coach the week before the year ended. Ironic because she read from my energy that it was time for me to do something drastic with my diet and she challenged me to leave behind a limiting thought.  All this as I shared where/what I wanted for myself over the next 5 years. The diet is not about food, it disruption. It's about examining all areas of my life and looking for ways to move closer to what I want and deeply desire especially for my business but also on a personal level. 
It lined up perfectly. My theme #2014Unencumbered captures well what I need to reinforce in order to fulfill the objectives I've laid before myself for the new year and beyond. I will use my theme as a rally cry, a comfort,  a soul-nurturing motto, an extra push and an encouragement to all who are within ear shot. 
I am so excited to tackle life in 2014... unencumbered!  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Want Different? Do Different: Why I'm Using A Diet To Change My Life

People who know me know that I am not a dieter. I don’t have issues with weight or food. In fact, comparatively speaking, I have good eating habits and a great relationship with food. I am proud of my food choices and respect the food choices of others.  Those facts and a host of others made it all the more puzzling my decision to do a Whole30 diet to start 2014. In case you didn’t know, Whole30 is a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, legume-free program designed to change the way you eat for the rest of your life.

I am not interested in changing the way I eat. What I am interested in is changing my life. To date, I have had an amazing life, especially the transformation of the last 5 years. No regrets. Whatsoever.

But in preparation for the new year, it became apparent to me via my B.E.S.T. work that I cannot move my life forward on the same tools that got me to where I am today. Something very different needs to occur to move to where I want to go. In acknowledging that, my B.E.S.T. coach suggested the Whole30 diet. I only resisted for a moment.

For the raging non-compliant, type-A person that I am, being TOLD to do or not do anything is very, very tough for me. The diet itself is so restrictive plus having someone tell me to do it all but killed the experiment. Then, as quickly as I wanted/desired/intended to squash it, I embraced it. Why?

I want something different.

I want to be more effective in my current relationships and the beliefs, actions and habits I have today will not allow it to happen.

I want to take my business to the next level and again, my current beliefs, actions and habits will not get me to that place.

A complete disruption of my life by something as innocuous as blowing up the way I eat is the answer.

I am certain that this diet will illuminate to me ways to better my life, my routine and move me from here to there. “Here” is not tolerable and does not serve me any longer. “There” is only a fantasy unless I take solid action to move me to it. As I prepare to eat Whole30, I am excited for all the good that awaits me on this 30 day journey.

I want different so I am doing different.

What do you want for 2014?

What will you do differently to get it?