Go ahead and start something

Rumblings, grumblings, blogging is dead. Social media is saturated. There’s too much “content.”

I call nonsense on all of this.

If you have an important message inside you, and a burning desire to write, you should go ahead and do it.

There’s never been another you. And until cloning becomes a thing, there will never be another you again.

The cool invention, business concept, painting, movement that’s been percolating in your brain? Let it out.

Stop judging it in the darkness of your head and let the rest of us check it out in the daylight.

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee


Are you Villanova Piccolo Girl passionate about your business?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week or so, you’ve probably seen “Villanova Piccolo Girl,” a heartbroken Villanova basketball fan who persevered with her bandmates even though she was overcome with emotion.

We can all draw some lessons from this young lady.

  • Keep going in the face of disappointment. Keep your eyes on your mission. As a business owner, you will encounter lots of setbacks. If you can stay focused on your unique contribution, and “why” you’re doing it, you’ll always come out ahead, and you won’t let your bandmates down.
  • It’s ok to cry if you’re sad. Everyone is always trying hard to look cool. That’s one reason this clip has resonated; she is being completely authentic in that moment. I’m not recommending bursting into tears in the middle of a business meeting, but keep the fire in your belly. Showing a little bit of emotion is ok when it’s real.
  • It’s ok to laugh at yourself. The girl in the video, Roxanne Chalifoux, has taken her sudden fame in stride, and it only makes her more endearing. We all want to be 100% confident and unflappable, especially running a business, but showing your humanity when you slip up is important.
  • There’s always a silver lining. Roxanne’s moment of raw honesty has now led to opportunities, including an appearance on Jimmy Fallon, where she played with The Roots. Even in your darkest moments, there might be an opportunity lurking. Keep your eyes open in those moments!

When your face hits the JumboTron, how will you react?

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

 

The secret of renewal and youth

I really don’t think of getting older (or think that I’m even aging, really) until I observe someone else learning a lesson that I’ve already learned. This being said, I’m quite sure that I provide hours of amusement for those who are watching at me, realizing how much I’ve yet to learn. ;)

But that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? For what it’s worth, I’ve figured that one out: we’re all on a continuum here and we’re all learning, usually from each other.

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.” ~ Voltaire

How many life phases can you recall? Whether through having children, losing loved ones through death, changing jobs, divorcing spouses, getting married, dropping bad habits or cultivating healthier ones, our lives are always in a state of renewal and flux.

Our forward progress hinges upon our ability to recognize our stages of development; therefore, mindfulness and awareness of our choices is essential if we wish to live fulfilling lives.

After each life shift of my own, upon retrospect, I can always see the progression of destruction to creation. Only recently have I been able to sense The Chaos portion, or what has also been referred to as The Middle. The Middle is where we are tested and where circumstances force us to distill what it is we truly want.

Furthermore, The Middle is also where we decide with ourselves how much we really want something. Do we really wish to achieve our goal? In a rather “Duh” statement, without The Middle, we would never reach The End.

The Middle drives me bonkers. I always want to fast forward through this part. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. I’m in The Middle. Next!” But that’s not how it works.

“Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year:  The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.” ~ Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Through an overlay of non-linear time constructs superimposed against the way we measure our years, birthdays serve as an ready-made opportunity for reflection, discernment and focus. Technically, we have this capacity 365 days of the year, but for whatever reason, it’s sometimes easier to use traditional days to mark the occasion to take stock of our lives.

1. Have we achieved what we set out to do?
2. Did we learn anything over the year prior?
3. What did we gain?
4. What did we lose?
5. How did we add to another’s life?
6. Where did we pave the way for someone else?
7. Who helped us along the way?

Some of us get “stuck” for a few years, learning one specific lesson, and yet may zip through another lesson that takes someone else much longer. We each have our own thresholds, challenges and tolerances.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” ~ Satchel Paige

I love this question, because it evokes consciousness and expansiveness. The Shell changes over time: perhaps some wrinkles here, and sagging there. But the Soul is ageless. Curiosity and creativity asks us to consider what it is that we perceive ourselves to be and challenges our assumptions of what we can become.

“I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.” ~ T.S. Eliot

This is the converse of Mr. Paige’s quote. Atrophy and stagnation equals death. Use it or lose it, baby. Whether our brains or our brawn, mettle or metal, oxidation and non-use means that we cease to become vibrant and begin to wither.

How can we tell if we are living a static existence? Take a moment and review a few indicators:

1. When is the last time you ate something different or went to a new restaurant?
2. How many new friends have you met over the year prior?
3. Take a look at your tape deck – are they recordings by your favorite bands from high school?
4. Do you have a tape deck? That’s a biggie. Have you heard of Spotify? Songza? at the least, iTunes? ;)
5. How many times do you say no throughout the day? Why?
6. Do you recall the past often?

“The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time of life. ‘Why, I answered without a thought, now.'”  ~ David Grayson

While it’s completely understandable to have high points in our memory, ideally, these moments are to be incorporated into your Whole and assimilated into who you are today. Right now. What we think creates our next moment. By focusing on what we have, the utility of same and how best to leverage it, we put ourselves in the best possible position for creating wonderful things in our life.

On the off chance that you’re going through something particularly crappy right now, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What is the best thing about this crappy situation” Take note of the answer. It is the seed of your solution.

Welcome to your birthday.

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.

What barriers are you using to block success?

Sometimes, we don’t even know we’re stuck.

We go about our days, leveraging and win-winning, shuttling kids back and forth to school and soccer, lulled into a hamster wheel we can’t see. Only the vaguest notion of being in the wrong place filters to the surface of our consciousness on occasion. Are we blocking our own success?

In a previous blogposts, I’ve talked about what inspires my writing ~ who (or what) serves as The Muse. Sometimes, it’s a quote; sometimes it’s my children; other times, it’s people who populate my social networks and in the case of this post, my inspiration came in the form of the tweet below:

“Freedom is an inner (as well as a physical) state of being.” ~ @RabbiShaiSpecht

So many people focus on freedom as being an external factor: the ability to earn a lot of money; the latitude to travel or the ability to pursue a particular career. While there are those who appear to have achieved a level of success any or all of those categories, true freedom actually starts within before it is fully manifested externally.

It is from within that we release our fears, our prejudices and our internal beliefs that form our barriers to success and independence. Once we are able to identify our specific barriers, then we have the opportunity to transcend and overcome them.

“As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery. We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” ~ Dalai Lama

For most, the fear of failure is the biggest barrier to reaching independence. We may be afraid that we won’t succeed in achieving our goals and so we never try. Closely related, paradoxically, is fear of success. For many, it’s almost worse to succeed. For it’s when we succeed that people count on us. Expectations are created. We fear that we cannot sustain a certain level of success and so we prefer not to risk the effort to succeed.

In terms of prejudices, some cling to thoughts like “rich people are snobs.” Demonizing people who have what we secretly fear to achieve is a derivation on the Aesop’s fable of the fox and the sour grapes. We deride what we cannot achieve (or perceive that we are unable of achieving), and thereby block it from entering our lives.

Attachments come in the form of relationships (either ones we wish to have or ones we wish we could escape). Attachments also manifest as a preferred outcome to any given situation. What’s helpful to realize through all of this is that fear forms the root of all assaults against independence. Fear manifests as anger, a wish to control, suspicion and all other sorts of emotions that restrict our freedom.

A good way to determine what your particular fear centers are and how they rank in order of severity is to list your goals in the affirmative and see which ones really rankle you. For example, take out a sheet of paper and write out positive statements as if you had already achieved them:

  1. “I enjoy my job.”
  2. “What I do makes a difference.”
  3. “I make enough money to satisfy my desires.”

Take note of your gut reaction to these (and other, similar) statements. When you hear your inner voice say, “Yeah, right!” in response, that’s a hint, indicating barriers to those particular gaps in your journey to independence.

Keep this list handy. Jot down feelings that come up when you say any of these statements. Then ask yourself why you feel them. Ask as many “whys” as it takes to reach the base emotion. Do you already notice a barrier that you’ve seen represented in your life? How did you overcome it?

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive)

What are the benefits of being backwards?

When I was a kid, one of the things that you wanted to avoid at all costs was to be accused of doing something “bassackwards,” which was a term my grandmother used to mean slipshod or backwards in a pejorative way. We grandkids were taught logical, linear methods for problem solving and being backwards was seen as being inefficient at best and stubborn at worst.

That being said, as I’ve grown, there have been many times in my life where doing things backwards has actually saved me time in the long run and helped me to stand out in a good way. There are at least three reasons I recommend operating in the reverse and here they are:

1. Establishing or revealing options. Based in the logic of Stephen Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind,” thinking backward can help unearth your method(s). Whether determining a marketing plan, your destination on a map or making a cake from scratch, having a concept of what it is you mean to achieve as an end result before beginning helps you to get there. What are the elements needed in order to get where you want to be? What do you think the end or finished result is going to resemble?

Keeping in mind that sometimes the trip you take is not the trip you plan (kismet and the interplay of others within your path may alter your original vision), thinking backwards in this manner helps you to flip your perspective.

2. Strengthening or identifying muscles which may have gone unnoticed. When I want to expand the results from a traditional workout, I simply reverse the order in which I do my regular routine. Have you ever walked up a flight of stairs backwards? Give it a shot. You’ll work the hamstrings instead of your quads more. The glutes will engage in a different sequence in order to propel you upwards.

You’ll move more slowly and be more mindful of your ascent. Having this awareness will make you a stronger person and help you to navigate more quickly when you revert to going up the stairs “the right way.”

3. Being goofy. “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” ~ Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Folks who follow me on The Twitter will notice that I reference one of my favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes regularly. One of their favorite pursuits is a nonsense game called Calvinball, a no-holds-barred-anything-goes game whose only rule is that there are none. Another Calvin invention is Opposite Day, which is the sort of day that the name implies.

Calvin and Hobbes comic strip creator Bill Watterson is in good company with his celebration of chaos as a foundational element of creation. Fellow artist Theodore Geisel was also a big proponent of nonsense, saying,

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. …Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

When are times in your life when you’ve done something backwards and benefitted from the experience? What are some lessons that would have gone unlearned?

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.

What drives you to act?

One of our worst traits can be perfectionism. Stymied by our desire to make sure that everything is perfect before doing something, the we are in danger of never moving forward because we don’t ACT.

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time online. ;) In addition to time spent on my laptop and desktop, mobile apps, and Instagram, my facebook timeline, twitterfeeds and emails stream directly to my smartphone. I literally spend my entire day with thousands of your voices echoing in my stream of consciousness all day long.

Social media is my Jiminy Cricket.

You guys make sure that I don’t forget key information. Your updates keep me current as to news of the world around me and once in awhile, your tweet will arrive just as I need to hear it. Most of those occasions are times when I’m reminded by you that I need to get off the dime and get something done.

As an example, I streamed a vlog about “ageless wisdom” from @vineetsblog. My comment was, “What good is wisdom if it is not applied? Wisdom that is not acted upon is simply research.” Since that time, I’ve encountered variations on that theme from the folks in my social web.

Part of being independent is understanding when to move – when to act.

This willingness to take action distinguishes the entrepreneur from the rank and file. This acceptance of risk is part and parcel of the rewards that come with being an entrepreneur.

There is power in potential energy. There is an action of sorts in formulating an idea and the germination of a process. However, in order to achieve any goal, one must ultimately act. Thought must give way to kinetic, or outwardly expressed, energy.

“You must be willing to do the things today others won’t do, in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have.” -Les Brown

To achieve success, certainly visualization is key. Knowing where you want to go is also essential. But if all I do is sit on my sofa and visualize New York City, regardless of how strong my intentions are, I will still be sitting in my living room 6 hours later if I do not hop on a train to O’Hare, get on a plane and fly there.

Independence means action. Action triggers opportunities, which produce autonomy. Freedom. What are you waiting for?

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.

How to travel light (and why!)

One of my favorite things I’ve found since moving to Chicago is that I get to see a lot of my friends as they travel through. My proximity to O’Hare gives me an ideal opportunity to connect with them as they pause through their journeys. Just yesterday, I had a chance to have lunch with a great guy who had reduced his belongings for his trip to fit into one good sized rucksack.

We talked a lot about Leo Babuta’s zenhabits blog and his focus on minimalism, and we also talked about how much more liberating travel is when all you have to worry about is one satchel.

Lugging your possessions through lobbies, airport terminals and along sidewalks gives you ample time to contemplate the usefulness and true value of what you are carrying. Two Georges help me illustrate my point: If you’ve ever watched George Carlin’s comedy routine on “Stuff,” or watched George Clooney in the film, Up in the Air and his “backpack analogy,” then you’ll understand where I’m coming from with this post.

On a very personal note, I filed for divorce about five and a half years ago and have spent the time since literally giving away most of my stuff. A five bedroom house. Gone. Most of the stuff that furnished it. Gone. Thousands of dollars of blankets, decor, candlesticks, …stuff. Gone. Donated to Goodwill.

When I moved to Chicago, I either gave away or sold anything that wouldn’t fit into a U-Haul panel van and made my journey here. Things were an obstacle.

Clearing my life of extraneous clutter and stuff helped, but this post is also about why we accumulate things in the first place and how that compulsion to do so keeps us from our independence. I am not a monk and I’m not suggesting that you become one; rather, I would encourage you to take a look around your house. Take a quick inventory of the things you purchased either for status or because it was something that society said that you needed to own in order to “qualify” for the role you wish to represent.

What things do you really LOVE? What things express your individuality or add joy to your life? What things reflect your true values? How many of them are duplicates? How would streamlining your life help you achieve more?

“Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau

When we take a moment to cull our possessions to the essential, authentic items that combine elements of utility and beauty, you will find that you need fewer of them. You will be packing lighter, so to speak, and anyway, you can’t take nothin’ with you but your soul (to paraphrase John Lennon). When you have fewer dust catchers, you have more time to devote to other things: your studies, your vocation, a hobby…other people. You’ll have more time to evolve into the person you would like to become, perhaps.

One of the best books about the exchange of energy for stuff I’ve read is Your Money or Your Life. For me, it distilled my focus into realizing what truly was important to me and gave me a guideline to achieve my goals. (NOTE: I do not benefit financially from this link. It’s simply a recommendation).

Stuff is wonderful; stuff is beautiful and having the right stuff when you need it is priceless. Understanding our relationship to Stuff is essential to claiming our independence, however. What owns whom? What has been your experience?

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive)

How to change course when you’re out of control

If you have one iota of entrepreneurial DNA in your body, you know this feeling well: what I refer to as the Roundy Roundies, or Where Do I Focus First?! Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Things are going South, fast. How to fix it?

“When you’re stuck in a spiral, to change all aspects of the spin, you need only to change one thing.” ~ Christina Baldwin

This is good to know, especially if you are mid-spin in your life right now. Most of us fall into this category, because life is change, and change involves chaos of some sort. Chaos always accompanies change; it is only a matter of to which degree. Accepting that chaos will always be present actually makes it easier to bear.

Feel as though your life is spinning out of control?

When my daughters were little, I tried to parent by the KISS and NTK principles: Keep It Simple, Silly and Need To Know. By keeping things simple, I forced myself to boil the lesson at hand into its essentials: what was the takeaway I wanted my kids to get? When presented this way, it helped me to stick to micropoints and to address their behavioral issues systematically and precisely.

In terms of “need to know?” It wasn’t necessarily a secrecy-based, “cloak and dagger” theory; rather, it was more in line with giving my daughters information about any given topic in a way that they understood at the time. Overloading a lesson with stuff way beyond their pay grade muddied the issue and made it more difficult for them to learn.

From this, a couple of home-grown aphorisms came about:

1. “If it doesn’t belong to you; leave it alone.” This simple statement covered anything from theft to breaking something they didn’t know how to operate in one fell swoop. (NOTE: see also >> “Not my circus; not my monkeys“).
2. “Bad things happen to people who panic.” This was my go-to, baseline framework I hoped to instill in them for when the Play-Doh hit the fan.

Trying to teach a kid how to meditate, assess and apply solutions is difficult. Teaching a kid to think “bad things happen to people who panic,” before they act is easier.

So when your life is pinwheeling into oblivion, remember a couple of key points:

1. Bad things happen to people who panic.
2. In order to change your spin, pick just one thing to change. Physics will take it from there.

So many times when our lives are falling apart, we want to take a wrecking ball to the whole thing and build anew. Other times, we’ll prescribe a Geographical Cure and start afresh somewhere else.

Sometimes, these choices work. However, if they are not a viable option for you, today, right now, my advice to you is to quiet your mind and choose just one small thing over which you have control and change it.

In order to make a change, you must have focus. If this is a skill you haven’t honed, your first attempts at changing the direction of your spin will be messy. The good news is, like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you get.

Quiet your mind. Then ssk yourself the following questions:

1. “What (or where) will the logical extension of this action (fill in the blank) in my life take me?”

2. Is this my intent?

3. Is this acceptable? If yes, then bully for you. Keep up the good work. If no, proceed to question four.

4. Where do I want to go? Decide, and then WRITE IT DOWN.

5. What small thing can I change right now that will get me closer to where I want to be? (ie. omit something, change a habit, start a new one).

6. Implement that small change until it becomes a habit.

7. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Adjust course as necessary. The more you practice this, the shorter the time lag between questions 1 and 7 become. You’ll be able to assess the need to change on the fly. Furthermore, you will become more in tune and aware of the need to change in the first place.

BONUS: Just knowing that something is off kilter is a skill in and of itself.

Remember, the Queen Mary is steered by a very teeny rudder in comparison to her overall size. Your life’s trajectory is similarly constructed. It is our own consistent actions, regardless of the size, that determine where we go.

Never underestimate the power of small things done consistently and well as a force for change in your life.

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Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation).