Monday, December 31, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

The only journey
is the one within. 
---  Rainer Maria Rilke

There is a word in Swahili, kutoboa, which means ‘to unearth.’ East Africans use it to let you know they are about to go deep. To the core. To break it down. To explain what’s really going on.

You have to consistently place time with yourself as one of your priorities if you want to kutoboa and dis-cover (read: uncover) your vision, which is covered with layer upon layer of people, activities, appointments, attachments, ‘should’s’, concerns about deadlines, anxieties, fears, guilt about the past, and worries about the future.

You can make a concerted effort to remove these layers one at a time as you would peel an onion—until you uncover the core (ignore: an onion has no core).

You don’t have to go anywhere to rediscover yourself. Renewing your self-relationship does not involve seeking; it involves seeing.

Seeing what has caused you suffering in your life. Seeing how you’ve handled that suffering—including any dysfunctional habits you may have picked up along the way to avoid it, including constant texting, retail therapy, alcohol, emotionally shutting down, and so on.

This week, take some time to reflect on your life and what truly motivates you. Spend some time in reflection and you will feel more present and engaged with the people in your life.

You will begin to see them less as obstacles to pursuing your goals and more as opportunities to learn, share ideas, and form lasting connections.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Smile, It's Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Make a Difference in the World

I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere, 
I look out, and I am aware of the events, thoughts, 
and emotions that pass before me. 
--- Michael Singer

You have both a player within who takes action from day to day and a spectator within who observes the player and evaluates what she or he does.

The relationship between the player and the spectator is paradoxical: the player must leave the field to build their comfort with the spectator, yet if the player doesn’t have an initial faith in the spectator they won’t seek out this meeting.

In other words, you have to take time to dream to build your self-faith, yet you need self-faith to feel comfortable dreaming—and spending time with the spectator—in the first place.

Your success depends on your willingness to take a leap of faith and believe in the goodness and beauty within. This leap of faith builds your comfort with yourself, which enables you to dream and create a vision for your life.

To better understand the spectator, take some time this week to think about what you are content with in your life. Then reflect on what makes you feel uncomfortable – what makes you say to yourself, “This is not as it should be! The world simply should not be like this.”

Your discomfort will lead you to your passion and the discovery of what you want to change in the world.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

The only way to achieve quality time in any relationship, 
including your relationship with yourself, is through quantity time. 
--- Anthony Silard

Have you ever noticed that in the in-flight safety presentation, the flight attendant advises you to put the oxygen mask over your own mouth before helping even your own children?

Actually, in most cases we as parents put our children before ourselves. Their survival arguably depends on it.

Yet the in-flight presentation is a helpful reminder that taking care of yourself enables you to take care of others.

At any rate, the real problem is not that we offer to take our kids to swim practice before taking time to go for a walk and decompress—that and many other acts of self-sacrifice are an inextricable part of parenting that just about every parent understands.

The real problem is that we offer to do whatever it takes to maintain our status at the office. The real problem is that we return every last email before taking time to go for a walk and decompress.

The real problem is that we have forgotten how to take care of ourselves.

This week, try out a few new ways to take time to develop your relationship with the one person upon whom all your other relationships depend: yourself.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Live the Life You Have Imagined

To become the spectator of one’s own life …
is to escape the suffering of life. 
--- Oscar Wilde

Imagine a beautiful, crystalline alpine lake. When the water on the surface is agitated and rushing in different directions, you become like that water.

When you feel anxious, upset, depressed, or afraid, return to the bottom of the lake and let the water settle. Then you will see clearly again.

You will see others as they truly are—and yourself as you truly are. You will make decisions that emanate from your center.

You can think of your vision and higher self, which await you at the bottom of the lake, as the spectator. It observes the other part of you, the player, which coasts along the surface like a heron—acting and interacting its way through life.

You assume both roles simultaneously: you are both the player and the spectator watching yourself play. You are the actor on stage and the observer focused intently on the actor from the balcony.

When you take time out regularly to connect with your vision and deepest values, you strengthen the spectator. The player then learns to play smarter. He or she becomes more directed, consistent, and effective.

This week, take a single action to strengthen the spectator. Walk in nature. Meditate. Try yoga. Find a way to connect with your higher self, which sees beyond the here and now. Ask this deeper part of yourself how you should be living your life now. Then listen.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

What should young people do with their lives today? 
Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create
stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.
--- Kurt Vonnegut

In the digital age, many of us miss feeling connected with others.

We have a few hundred Facebook “Friends” that make us feel important and socially accepted. Yet we experience moments where we realize we are sitting alone at night in front of a machine looking at small digital photos of people we barely know anymore—if we ever did.

An internal Facebook study found that despite the high number of “Friends” amassed by the average Facebook user, they actually exchange messages with only seven of these people on a monthly basis.

This study is consistent with observations that individuals tend to define their social group around a small number of strong relationships.

In research I have conducted with Sarah Wright of the University of Canterbury, we have defined loneliness as a distressing emotional experience associated with the deficiencies a person perceives in their social relationships. 

Other research by social psychologist John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has found that loneliness tends to lead to counterproductive interpersonal behaviors such as increased hostility, negativity, depressed mood, anxiety, and decreased cooperativeness.

This week, take one or two small actions that will increase the quality of your connections with other people. Open yourself to joining groups of real people with similar interests who live nearby and are pursuing collective goals you find meaningful.

If you don’t find such groups near you, you are likely not alone. Consider forming one.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Create the Intimate Relationship You Desire

Going for what you really want, while a good principle to live by, in practice is scary as hell. One simple thought returns to your mind over and over again: “But what if I risk and fail?” 
The truth is you never fail. You learn. You grow.
If that’s failure, I’ll take it any day over its alternative: stagnation.
--- Anthony Silard

How has your track record been in terms of meeting the right person? When you go out, do you sometimes want to approach someone, but then stop dead in your tracks out of fear?

Success doesn’t smile on the bold only for large, cosmic reasons. There’s also a very logical explanation.

Taking small risks builds your self-esteem, which enables you to take larger risks.

Even a small risk such as walking up to someone and asking how they are doing expands your self-trust. This happens not because of the risk itself, but because the risk enables you to experience the wonderful feeling of alignment—of observing yourself commit an action, no matter how small, that’s consistent with what you value.

Feeling that alignment and the inner courage it took to make it happen will build your self-esteem and become the cornerstone of your success.

This week—whether it’s to hopefully make a new friend or meet the right person—go up to someone new and ask them how they are doing. If they are not responsive, reboot and try again with someone else.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

Whoever is happy will make others happy too.
--- Anne Frank

Have you ever questioned why you can make an appointment to have dinner with your partner, or visit a family member, or play tennis, or go shopping with a friend, or work over eight hours per day, but you can’t make an appointment to do something for yourself?

We usually leave ourselves for last. We assume we’ll make time for ourselves after we complete all of our other meetings and engagements.

It rarely works. It’s important to schedule time for yourself before—or at least at the same time as—you schedule time for others.

At a fundamental level, you must take care of your own well-being in order to enhance the well-being of others.

You won’t be able to run a successful business for long if the last check you always cut is your own. If an entrepreneur doesn’t pay themselves first, they usually don’t get paid.

The same is true for our relationship with our self-time. Putting yourself last on your list is a sure way to neglect your own needs and lose both your edge and your capacity to be there for the important people in your life.

This week, make a pact with yourself to not only do right by others, but to do right by yourself. Take some time before you come home to go for a walk, or watch the sunset, or stop into that yoga studio you’ve been meaning to visit.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Live the Life You Have Imagined

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
--- Theodore Roosevelt

Risk is the way station of success.

Without taking risks, creating anything in your life—your own consulting practice, a new approach to your work, a new pattern of relationship communication—would be impossible.

To create is to bring something into existence that wasn’t there before.

If you want to create, you must become a self-initiated pioneer and step into new lands where old rules no longer apply. Risk is the necessary traveling companion on your journey.

The relationship between risk and return in personal development follows the same principles as in investing: When you have a low capacity for risk you are guaranteed a low return. When you have a high capacity for risk you are not guaranteed a high return – yet it is the only way to achieve a high return.

In other words, if you want to be successful in any area of your life – whether it’s your career, an intimate relationship, or even just how you spend your free time – you must develop a high capacity for risk.

This week, reflect on how you can increase your willingness to take the necessary risks to move your life in the direction you desire.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Build Meaningful Relationships

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 
“What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
--- C.S. Lewis

We as human beings each have distinct needs for social distance from others. Sometimes, we do not want to be too close to another person as we feel it threatens our autonomy and independence.

Neither do we want to be too distant from the other person, as we are also subconsciously aware—as the social psychological research of Roy Baumeister of Florida State University attests—that we need to form groups to survive.

Desiring to be close to a friend, family member, or intimate partner is OK—in fact, it’s a sublime, ineffable representation of the love and caring we possess deep within. It is also a feeling we must nurture as it enables us to form meaningful connections with others.

Insisting on this closeness, however, is an entirely different matter and should be avoided at all costs.

Yes, it is true that in the present moment, we need other people who are real and authentic and make an effort to develop a relationship with us.

Yet it is also true that we have to let go of our symbolic mental representations of how close a specific person should be to us at any point in time.

Instead, we can choose to embrace those who grace us with their effort to be present in our lives.

This week, make a pact with yourself to dedicate more time and energy to the people you have been taking for granted and less to those who have not been reciprocating your efforts.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Smile, It's Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Make a Difference in the World

The great use of life is to spend it 
on something that will outlast it.
--- William James

There is so much suffering in the world already that there is no good reason to add any more of your own to the mix in the hopes of finding your passion.

Instead, spend enough time with someone who is suffering to understand at least some of what they are experiencing. You will become emotionally moved, which will impel you to work toward preventing their future suffering or the suffering of others from the same affliction.

You’ve already experienced this feeling of compassion many times. Recall when you watched a family member or friend experience devastating pain after they were emotionally hurt by another human being.

Think back to when you visited people living in poverty and made the profound realization that they aren’t any different from you.

Remember a time when you passed someone on the street, looked into their eyes, and saw through them to their suffering.

Recall those moments when you questioned why you are so fortunate and felt compelled to make the lives of others better in some concrete way.

You may have had one of these experiences and then forgotten about it and gone on with your life.

This week, slow your life down enough—through meditation, or having a relaxed conversation with a good friend, or going on a long walk under an iridescent sunset—to bring these pivotal moments back into your mind and your long-dormant passion will return.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Smile, It’s Monday: Your Weekly Wake-up Call to Become Your Greatest Fan

The only thing worse than being blind
is having sight but no vision.
--- Helen Keller

We complain our society doesn’t give us enough time to disengage, yet we are the ones who contribute to making society what it is.

We surround ourselves with people, possessions, tasks, television, electronic leashes that keep us perpetually in contact with others—anything to avoid ourselves. Then we wonder why our lives have gone in the wrong direction.

Developing a vision for what you want to create in your life and then following it is the only highway that leads to success. Learning how to comfortably spend time alone is the toll you pay to travel on it.

I often take walks alone in the early evening and watch the sunset. For me, the limitless colors above are the most sublime form of art that exists. I stand in awe of the unique canvas painted across the sky every evening.

The spaciousness above connects me with the spaciousness within. It helps me to put my life back into perspective.

How about you? How do you develop your self-relationship? Do you meditate? Take a yoga class? Lie in bed reading a book while intermittently pausing to reflect on your life?

This week, schedule some time out of your busy schedule to build the one relationship that is the basis of all of the others.

_____________________________________________
Anthony Silard is the president of The Center for Social Leadership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week, enter your email here (1-step only). To support The Center for Social Leadership's Young Leaders Program for disadvantaged youth either directly or through Amazon.com purchases, click here.