Friday, October 26, 2012

Personal Development

(last updated: February 17, 2013)

I'm coming from a negative and highly melancholy past. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. This is why I have been in a persistent quest to shed the negative and seek out the positive. 

In order for me to do this, I have had to consistently improve and challenge my personal development. Essentially, exercise for the heart, mind, and spirit.

Over the past few years, I've had many people ask me what I am reading or what I draw upon to formulate my thoughts. This material is my personal development workout that I just noted above.

I'd like to keep this blog post as a working list, so you can know exactly what has influenced me, as well as new material I find down the road. The materials in this list are not references that I've read just once, but many times. 

There's real truth here, so much so that I've tried to embody the concepts that resonate most. A single reading doesn't suffice for my retention. I read, then practice, then read again. 

Regardless of what any of us read or believe, we must continually strive to develop and grow. It is from this effort that change occurs; where lasting impact is made. 

The impact doesn't always have to be public or grand scale. In fact, some of the biggest impacts I have had, have actually been in my own thinking and in my very own life.

If you have materials that you draw upon for personal development and inner strength, please share. I'm always looking for more. 

I personally really like learning about the United States Presidents in history and really respect David McCullough's writing. So if you are interested in history, any book on just about any president he's written about is darn good. 

Here's the current running list that I have in my personal library. The references with an * are where I would recommend that you start.

In all of these books, you'll learn a lot about what it takes to command in a variety of tough situations, as well as how critical compromise really is. 

Most importantly, you may also learn what it takes to really be true to yourself and stand for something no matter what.
  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  2. The Art of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn
  3. Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill
  4. Building your Network Marketing Business by Jim Rohn
  5. Truman by David G. McCullough
  6. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  7. A Thousand Names For Joy by Byron Katie
  8. Becoming A Person of Influence By John Maxwell and Jim Dornan
  9. Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  10. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
  11. Deadly Emotions by Don Colbert
  12. Drive by Daniel H. Pink
  13. Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  14. Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  15. Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
  16. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  17. Life Strategies by Dr. Phil McGraw
  18. Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk
  19. Long Run by Matthew Long
  20. Mindbody Prescription: Healing the body, Healing the Pain by John E. Sarno, M.D.
  21. Napoleon Hill's Keys to Success: The 17th Principles of Personal Achievement by Napoleon Hill
  22. Quitter by John Acuff
  23. Quotable C.S. Lewis By Wayne Martindale & Jerry Root
  24. Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz 
  25. Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, & Weight Loss by Marc David
  26. Working Toward Excellence: 8 Values for Achieving Uncommon Success in Work and Life by Paul Buyer
  27. Yoga: Spirit & Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Shiffman
  28. Your Inner Awakening by Byron Katie

Friday, October 19, 2012

A New Chapter

Behold, the little one! Sir Jacob
Today is my last day at work. I've been with this company for ten years and really have grown and developed a lot. I gained a lot of knowledge and built many wonderful relationships that will continue for years to come. 

I'm leaving knowing that I've done good work; and in some cases, because of the work I've done, I am leaving a legacy. But it's time to leave and give my son the best attention and support that I can. 

I am incredibly thankful for a husband who can support this and even encourage it. I make no judgment on anyone else for not being a stay-at-home parent. In fact, I really empathize with single parents where the option just really isn't there.

It's honestly a bit nerve-wracking to make such a big change, but at the same time, I absolutely know that this is the right thing to do for our circumstance and family. 

It is so much the right thing, that it really took no labor at all for either my husband or me to make this decision. Besides, I still have some growing up to do and I'm certain that Jacob will help me get there.

The goal now is to help this little guy develop well. To find his talents and facilitate them. I miss coloring. I'm certain coloring will be involved. If he colors on the wall... I actually just might join him; isn't this what paint was created for?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Where's Your Focus?

Have you ever felt like you've made something happen just by focusing on it? Be it negative or positive, you have been dwelling on a particular thought and as it unfolds the resulting sentiments were something like:
"I knew it!"
"I could just feel it coming."
"I just knew this would happen."
"I had this nagging sense that..."
"I knew I could do it."

The mind truly has power. Where is your focus? 

Think of shows like: 24, MacGyver, Alias, A-Team, Batman and the like. It's always forces of good, fighting against forces of evil. Good generally wins by narrow margins. 

It's a tough fight. But why do the good guys generally come out on top? The bad guys have pretty specific focus, goals and aims. They are determined bad guys. 

However, when their life is on the line they will throw their arms up, beg, or squeal on another bad guy in order to cut a deal. To what end? To save their hides!

When the life of the good guy is on the line however, they are willing to sacrifice their life at all costs. What's the last scene prior to the almost martyrdom of the good guy? 

They make eye contact with the person they are dying for or look at the bomb they need to stop. Their focus is on the greater good and not focused inward toward the self. And somehow at the last second, good still prevails.

Historically humankind watches shows (or plays) like this that have the same outcomes, tell the same core story with a different setup, but why? 

I personally think that this is because somewhere deep down we cheer the person on for not losing sight of the goal; for not losing focus. We feel good inside, because a character accomplished what we feel we fail at in our own lives so often. 

This isn't the case though. We are surrounded by many a Jack Bauer and Sydney Bristow. The reason the archetypal hero can be rewritten in so many different ways and not lose appeal is because of what they focus on. 

The characters' focus plays on the desires of the human heart, which are to overcome every and any obstacle that prevents us from achieving what we inherently feel is right, but that we struggle in doing. 

The hero makes a large scale impact and therefore their large scale sacrifice is willingly embraced. In no way does it make the sacrifice easy, though. It's tough and someone cries. 

Just because your sacrifice might not narrowly avert nuclear war doesn't mean the impact is any less. Your focus on the desired outcome still tremendously impacts the lives of others. 

I could delve into many examples at this point on how this is true, but by now you are telling yourself your own story. The pang of guilt you might be feeling right now needs to have its focus redirected. 

Tremendous good comes from the tough things we have to do day in and day out. This is where the term "every day hero" comes from. The impact is huge to family, friends and neighbors. Get up, walk away and go make that thing happen. Focus. Do. Recommit.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Poetry Corner: Pristine Pools

Today I have been thinking a lot about Yellowstone National Park. Why? Hmm, I could say that it's because I would like to get away to a natural retreat and enjoy the splendor of the earth. But in all reality my inner emotions have been all over the place. The erratic internal volatility of the need to take my son and husband and just get away is on the overwhelming side of things. It sure would be nice to say: Dear Reality, would you please go sit in the corner over there while I take my dreams and go this way?

While I have been thinking this way today, I remembered a poem I wrote the last time I was at Yellowstone (see below). It was such a beautiful place, but its beauty was created out of seriously volatile events over a very long period of time. It's amazing to me that water by appearance is so beautiful, yet has become incredibly deadly to the touch. Now I'm not saying that through tough times in my life I have been made so beautiful that if you come near me I might melt your skin off, like out of some Indiana Jones movie. What I am saying is that: 1) Tough times can make beautiful things happen. 2) Patience has the capacity to create tremendous power. 3) If I remain aware, I will be less likely to lose sight of what is really important. 

I have the choice of how I will react. I have the choice of finding a way to thrive in the now, always. Tough things happen. Hard decisions have to be made. And the beauty in this is that, I have a choice. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Pristine Pools

treading the planks
of this forsaken land
I ponder the life and
death of all I see…

a boiling brew of earth
begins to drum erratically
occasionally gurgling its refrain,
as a foul misty stench
coats my skin with an unusual warmth,
and my lungs begin to burn

elements combine,
molding everything together …
dying beautifully

deep within this fissure
I feel the foul heat begin to call –
an inexplicable urge to touch
the prismatic lake
within me…

staring at the mouth wide open
I am temporarily paralyzed –

I feel my beauty fade
the longer I gaze, yet
I am captivated
by the subtle harshness
hidden between the vapor,
I remain –
looking into the clearest chasm

below the calm basin
images of terror dance off-beat
as the earth ruptures inward
while pain echoes,
migrating deeper
agitating the fragile balance

not yet ready to burst
not yet ready to take me…
I am suddenly released
with a promise
and a threat

By Diana M. Bateman
2005 ©