How do you get through challenging times? Rewire your brain with gratitude!
A number of my coaching clients have asked me how to get through these difficult times, and one tool anyone can use is gratitude! We are bombarded with negativity all day, which means we have to be vigilant about creating a more positive mindset. Gratitude is the key to doing this. Make it easy, and make it fun. Start by thinking about 3 things you are grateful for every morning and every night-right before you go to bed. Why? These positive habits will rewire your subconscious mind to put you in a better mood. Research shows us that happier people have better relationships, better health outcomes, and better incomes. So, take some time and get grateful today.
Want more Futures Coaching tools to improve your life? Get a free downloadable copy of Dr. Connie’s book, Blue the Bee Learns to be Happy. It is an interactive activity book to help people of all ages improve their mental well-being! You can download your free copy by visiting: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/kimmelfacpub/35/
Remember, we build our future in the present moment-. So, go wild with gratitude and make today great!
When I work with leaders the issue of stress is front and center of many coaching conversations. Adults have a lot on their plates, and COVID-19 has made it much worse. Well-being is emerging as the #1 issue for workplaces because leaders are finally starting to realize that people-first strategies are what they need to be successful in the ever-changing marketplace. It is almost impossible to be creative or productive if you do not have your physical, mental, or emotional health.
This leadership coaching video explains some of the reasons why it is important to have fun and enjoy life – even if you have to make the time and an effort to do it!
You May Have Doubts
With all the stress that many of us have been under lately, you might be doubting the importance of fun, but let remind about a few “fun” facts:
Fun is the ultimate stress-reliever
Fun bonds people together
Fun makes you more interesting
Fun is the the ultimate Fountain of Youth
Try your own tests at home. I give my clients assignments to have fun all of the time. Why? Because it puts them in a stronger place to solve problems, work through challenges and develop creative solutions. Fun can also repair relationships.
6 of the Most Powerful Happiness Tools: Gratitude, Movement, Play, Purpose, Self-Love, and Kindness.
Blue the Bee Learns to be Happy (free download)
A few colleagues and I published Blue the Bee Learns to Be Happy, an activity guide for happiness in 2018. It takes the science of happiness and turns it into games and tools designed to help increase levels of positivity. You can use it as an individual with your family or even with teams at work.
If you need more than the video or the book, please contact us for additional resources or personalized coaching. We are committed to helping 100,000 leaders create greater purpose and prosperity for people and our planet, and fun is one of the ways in which we are achieving this big, hairy, audacious goal!
Today is a great day to celebrate the importance of mental health. While I was hosting the Rural Futures Podcast, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Howard Liu about mental health. Dr. Liu serves as the Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He is also the Director of Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Even better than his training, experience and titles? Howard is a dedicated husband, father and all around super-cool human being!
Part of the interview focused on mental health disparities and shortages in rural areas; however, we also talked about the importance of fun and play for both children and adults.
I included a portion of the transcript that focuses on the importance of play and taking risks below. You can hear the entire episode by visiting the Rural Futures Podcast web site:
Dr. Connie: I do a lot of work, of course on strategic foresight and futuring, but part of that is creativity, part of that is innovation. And it’s really hard for people to be creative when they’re just focusing on a to-do list and a massive amount of activity, rather than being very intentional and using discernment on what’s really important, what can you say no to, what’s maybe not in your wheelhouse, how do you engage a team around these things and create different systems that really support the ability to be creative? So many organizations say, yes, we want to be innovative, we want to really be competitive in the future. But they really aren’t designing the lives of their employees to be that way because innovation does start with the individual.
Dr. Liu: It really does. I think it does start with the individual, but I think it’s fed by the culture, or stifled by the culture.
Dr. Connie: No, that’s true! That is absolutely right.
Dr. Liu: And I know you’re someone that’s a futurist, and so you really think ahead, and I have no doubt that you found ways to really carve out that time. I believe in two things. As a child psychiatrist, and also as a parent of four kids myself, I think that adults often don’t take the time to play in the same way that kids do. And there’s something that, I don’t know if you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, but Mr. Rogers actually was quite a profound thinker, as it turns out, and then one thing he said is sort of like, play is the work of childhood. You really are trying things out, you’re processing things. We notice in kids who have been through traumas, well, often you’ll see in the play some of the terrible things they’re trying to work out, and what happened, and reenact, and so on.
I believe that for all adults, you have to have some time to play, but that entails two things. One is, it takes some risk, right? Because if you’re going to play, you might mess up, because you’re probably not the world’s expert in that thing, you’re sort of processing in the back of your mind, or balancing off a couple other people.
And then, second thing is then, if it’s going to be risky, you have to be ready to fail, and that’s have to be okay, right, with the organization, with your unit, with your boss, whatever, or your colleagues. And I think for a lot of people, those two things are hard, because it’s a little bit of a risk, and you don’t want to put yourself out there.
I recently read a book. It’s about the founding of Pixar, and written by Ed Catmull, the president, I believe, and it really said the manager’s job is not to prevent risks, is to make it safe to take them, and I really like that, because it makes you really think about, well, as a leader, am I stifling creativity by saying, oh, you messed up here, do better next week, or do I say something different, wow, it looks like you really put yourself out there. Maybe it didn’t work this time, but I’d love to see you keep trying new things. I think there’s different ways we can approach it, and kind of buffer that risk for our employees and our colleagues.
Dr. Connie: So the culture norm is to be so serious, and really stiff.
Dr. Liu: Right.
Dr. Connie: It’s nice to see some of that changing that, but, a lot of the high level leaders I’ve coached, that’s the thing that is missing from their lives so often, and part of coaching them is to encourage them and help them create some time, and make that time to actually play. I mean, there’s nothing more refreshing than a snowball fight with your kids, even. Go sledding, go do these things.
Dr. Liu: Yes.
Dr. Connie: They’re actually fun, or if you were a musician and you haven’t picked up your instrument, like you had mentioned earlier, for years, reengage that part of your health because it really brings out the best in you. And when I used to say that, people would look at me like, oh my gosh, she’s talking about having fun, and we’re talking about leadership and futuring and all these things, but then, it’s like it clicked, and people are like, okay, now how do I do that? Because it was really lacking from their life, but I always say fun is the fountain of creativity, but it’s also the fountain of youth.
Dr. Liu: I have this philosophy about workforce, future workforce, future people in any field, and it’s that, kinda like what you were saying, you can’t just do the routine things if you’re going to flip something, there’s not enough people in any field, right? So otherwise, in 25 years, guess what? Exact same thing, if we’re going to use this same approach. But there’s some science, and I do believe there’s some art to it as well. So my first job in this department was, the only formal title I had was to help build a psychiatry interest group, which was medical students, and there was only one in the interest group, so it wasn’t very successful.
Dr. Liu: But I had in my fellowship, encountered a really outstanding mentor. Her name was Dr. Paula Rauch, who’s a child psychiatrist. And when were trying to learn development, normal childhood development, she would invite all the fellows over, there were nine of us, to her house for breakfast for I think six or nine weeks. And we’d go sit around the table, and she’d serve us a very simple breakfast —just bread and peanut butter, and whatever, and we’d talk about development. And one of the things that we then did was go to see a preschool where her kids had gone to school, and then just see what they did in their sort of all day recess. And that experience always stuck with me for two things because one is that it takes a little courage to open up your home to trainees, or to colleagues, whatever. It’s an extra step, but two was I never have forgotten it, and I think others have never forgotten it either. Many of us remember it fondly as one of the best parts of our training. And I realized that when I started here, and there’s one person going into psychiatry, and that we needed to do better than that. And so I started hosting things in my home, and we’d invite students and faculty, and you really see outside of the work environment, people really let their hair down. It’s best if they can show up in their shorts or something, and it’s casual, and they can just relax and get to know each other, and I think as the students get to know the faculty, then I think that we’re also sort of unconsciously sort of auditioning them as future colleagues. They’re looking at their lives, and sort of auditioning their lives. Is this the kind of person I want to be? Is this the kind of balance I want to pursue? And as it turns out, the latest study on why students choose psychiatry, work life integration and balance is one of the top three factors. So the only way you could show that is definitely not in your office, but by showing them that thing. Maybe it’s piano, maybe it’s something different. It needs to be something that gives them some sense of who you are outside of work.
Dr. Connie: Oh, absolutely, you get to see the real person. I mean, in so many ways, when we go to work, it’s not really a facade. I mean, I think for some people it is, but you don’t see the family that they’re raising. You don’t see who they are, or the hobbies they have. You don’t see them as a whole person. My previous position before coming to the Rural Futures Institute, I did a lot of team building at the Kimmel Education and Research Center, which is on Kimmel Orchard in Nebraska City, Nebraska. We’d have companies come and we’d do things like Iron Chef cook-offs.
Dr. Liu: That’s great.
Dr. Connie: Real active, very fun, but also very purposeful types of activities. It’s the same thing you’re saying, I mean, so often, a lot of team conflict is because people just really don’t know or understand each other outside of the meetings they sit in. So how can we break down those barriers, really understand people as people, and build that camaraderie, but also that compassion, and real like for other people. And we’re more apt to do that if we know them and appreciate who they are rather than judging who they are.
Dr. Liu: That’s really well said.
Dr. Connie: You are a leader in your space. I’d love to know more about your leadership philosophy, your style. There’s a psychologist that said, with any organization, it’s always good to be half in and half out, and what he meant by that was that if you have six different jobs, no one really feels like you’re part of that organization because you’re running around, and you’re not really present, right? And people understand that, right?
Dr. Liu: So you have to be at least half-time in, doing that thing, where people see you, they recognize what you do in that work and that kind of thing. But this goes back to your earlier point about creativity. You have to find that thing, you have passion area, and you have to carve it out. And it may not be there right away, but however you get there, that’s what’s going to create vitality for you in the workplace, is having that thing and for some people, that’s research. For some people, that’s community engagement. I really enjoy that piece, for example. For some people, it’s something different, right. It might be building infrastructure, or could be anything, publishing. But having that space to really carve that out, is so important. And then not being too committed to too many things is very important as well. So that was one principle. Another one that someone told me was, think about your portable skill set, because in a career, you may wear six, ten, many different hats, but what do you take away from each, and have you grown? And as I’ve thought about my career, I came in, again, really just as a clinician, which is a great thing, but I didn’t really know anything about leadership, and so a lot of what I’ve learned has been on the job. But I do try to be intentional about it, and try to write some things down. At some point I realized, there’s some major gaps of what I do and don’t know. I know a little bit on managing budgets, but I really don’t know about healthcare economics in the same way as someone who’s running a hospital does, and if I’m going to ever do clinical leadership, I should probably learn something about that. So for example, last year, I enrolled in an executive MBA program that’s sponsored through our hospital. Having those relationships, what Gallup would say, is the “friend at work” is so important. It’s so easy to neglect, but if you don’t have it, I really feel it So it’s the people that you can go and really debrief with, that aren’t doing it because of your role, but really, they genuinely, you like each other, that you can share your woes, and they can share theirs, that kind of thing. You can’t just create it, you have to find it. You have to carve that time out, and then you have to nurture it once you have those people. I’ve been lucky to have those people here, and it’s so important just for attention and for your own vitality as a leader.
Howard and I had a great time during the interview (I left the “laughing” element of the show notes in tact so you could literally read about the fun we had while talking).
Play and laughter need to be a bigger part of our human experience. We have forgotten not only that it feels good but that it is also good for us, our families, our communities and even our businesses!
This whole idea was the basis of creating a futuring school (F * School) for women in midlife. This creation has come from my many years of coaching clients and working with businesses who have all lost their ability to create their desired futures and engage with their world because fun is typically a distant memory. It may sound a little wild, which you all know that I am totally fine with being. The first module is going to focus on…FUN! Yes, you read that right…the first module is going to focus on the power of play and fun as the foundation for creating your future (while enjoying the present). We will explore a bit about of the science associated with the importance of fun. Then, we will get into into practical steps designed transform life through fun and fulfillment.
If you have any interest in learning to have more fun, please add your email to our list and you will be one of the first to receive the enrollment information. The fun lessons will be absolutely free! The more fun we can get out there into the world, the better!
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Enjoy yourself today and everyday, and remember to…
I have to admit that I was super excited to do an interview with Nicole Jansen as part of her Leaders of Transformation Podcast. We talk about the future, the importance of a vision and how work and leadership are evolving; however, my biggest moment was actually diving into my own transition! I have not said or written a lot about why and how I left a twenty-five year career to pursue my own desired future. Honestly, it has been a hard to talk about for a number of reasons. We discuss it a bit in this interview, and it felt awesome just to voice my truth as well as my new adventure in midlife!
Enjoy the show, and let me know what you think! I would love to know what topics you want to know more about in the future. Make sure to download the free
Start creating your desired future today by enjoy the Dream Life 2025 exercise that is mentioned in podcast! After you complete the Dream Life 2025 exercise, let me know what your desired future looks like in the comments section below!
Happiness can be a grand challenge for all of us, especially in an culture where ageism is very real.
According to Dictionary.com ageism is a noun meaning:
discrimination against persons of a certain age group.
a tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.
I spoke about hope and happiness at the 2015 Rural Futures Conference, and I used Project Have Hope as a reference to illustrate my point. In Uganda, women of all ages are making beautiful pieces of jewelry out of paper. I found the necklace I am wearing in the photo when visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. These fantastic women are putting their entrepreneurial skills to work! Not only are there actions empowering women in the present, they are fostering success for future generations. They are empowering themselves and their families. The women in Uganda are leaders.
Project Have Hope was started by another female leader, Karen Sparacio, who is an entrepreneurial photojournalist. Karen decided to give back by taking action. You can find out more about Karen and her work by visiting photosbykisp.com.
Do I think agesim is real? Yes. Do I think we can do something about it? Absolutely! Did I pause before posting the page out of the conference proceedings? Yes. Why? Because it is real, and I can visibly see that I am getting older. It’s not an easy thing, especially in a culture that values youth and devalues age. But, I also know that I need to stay positive, practice gratitude and keep moving! I have learned a lot through the years, including the fact that it takes a village to do so many things, ranging from raising children to growing businesses and communities. At the Rural Futures Institute, we are committed to changing the rural conversation to one of challenge to one of opportunity. We also want to connect people and communities to opportunities! This conversation must include women of all ages, including those that are older than 40.
Happiness ignites innovation. Check out the Project Have Hope video below and then think about the challenges you typically hear about aging. Look the extraordinary attitudes the women in the Acholi Quarter of Uganda have and how much action they are taking because they have hope.
We just celebrated the 4th of July in the United States, which serves as a reminder that we are free to choose our attitudes and actions. You are free to decide how you live your life at any age and any stage. So, let me know. What inspired, hopeful actions are you taking?
Two events in 2010 changed the trajectory of my life forever.
I was driving home on June 22, 2010. As usual, I was talking to Mom. We talked about everyday things like my kids and when we would see each other next. I told her that I had been stranded at home the day before because every road to work was flooded due to heavy rainfall.
She wondered why I had not called. The truth was, I was being selfish and wanted a day to myself. I was scheduled to leave on a work-related trip to Costa Rica on June 26, so I spent the day packing and getting everything ready. I knew calling Mom would result in a two-hour phone conversation, so I made the decision not to call.
As I pulled into the garage, I told her (again) that I had to go because I wanted to take my three-year-old daughter to the pool or run with her through the sprinkler. It was finally hot enough to get into some water—for the first time in 2010!
My daughter, Raquel, loved the water, and so did I. My love of the water came from Mom. She taught my siblings and me how to swim when we were very young and always made sure we spent a lot of time at the pool. I wanted to get Raquel in the water so we could have some fun, but also because she had been talking about swimming with Mom (a.k.a. Grandma Reimers) since January. Raquel loved going swimming with Mom, and Mom loved swimming with her.
I told Mom again that I had to go and for a split second thought about telling her that I loved her. She said, “Okay,” quietly and with disappointment in her voice. Mom and I talked often, so I left the “I love you” out of the conversation and bolted out of the vehicle to see Raquel. She was ready to get wet, but my nine-month-old son was not feeling well. We opted for the sprinkler and had a great time laughing, playing, and goofing around in the yard. When you live in Nebraska, the first time getting wet in the summer is always the best.
After running through the sprinkler, my husband, Jim, and I gave the kids a bath. I got into the shower around 9:00 p.m. I had just stepped in and turned the water on when Jim came into the bathroom and told me that Dad was calling. I was not worried and told Jim that I would call Mom and Dad back after I showered.
He came back a few minutes later and told me I had better call home, because it was an emergency. I called home. The line was busy. Then I called my sister Marsha, and the words that came out with great sorrow as she cried and sobbed will haunt me forever: “Mom is dead…she’s dead!”
In that single moment, my life changed forever. I quickly packed a bag and drove to my parents’ home to be with Dad. It was dark, and I drove through a very strong thunderstorm for the entire two hours it took me to get there. The thunder, lightning, and torrential rain seemed to mirror that exact moment of my life. It was dark, turbulent, and cold. My soul was numb.
Seeing Dad’s face after I walked in the door added to the pain. He was the one who found Mom—his wife of forty-five years, the woman with whom he had raised six kids and spent most of his life. I was the first one he called…and I was not there for him. While Mom was dying, I was running through the sprinkler with my daughter. It was the beginning of a very dark time in my life.
Events such as someone’s untimely death make you question your life. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself about the purpose of life since June 22, 2010. Sometimes life itself doesn’t even seem real. It seems more like a dream.
I started questioning my religious beliefs and career choices. There were so many things about Mom’s death that made me question everything, including my life purpose.
My parents had just celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary the month before we lost Mom. We celebrated the anniversary on the day of my daughter’s third birthday party. It was a fun day—a beautiful day. The six of us kids tried to surprise Mom and Dad with champagne and cake, but of course she had packed a cooler with champagne too. Mom was hard to surprise, because she knew us all so well.
The six children and their families bought a gift certificate for my parents. It was for a rock on which they could have their names inscribed. They could place it at either their house in town or on the acreage they purchased after my grandma’s death. The acreage is part of the Reimers family farm, which has been in our family for over one hundred years.
Mom and Dad spent a lot of time working on the acreage. When I called in the evening, they usually told me they were “farming.” My parents both grew up on farms and had farming in their blood. Mom and Dad’s “farm” is truly a historical and spiritual place for my family. My dad grew up on it, and all six of us kids spent time there as children. We all have great memories of the farm and still spend a lot of time there enjoying our large family.
A few weeks after the combined birthday/anniversary celebration, my parents went to my husband’s hometown to celebrate his parents’ fiftieth anniversary. It was a Saturday, and Dad had to work. I told Mom several times that my in-laws would understand if they couldn’t make it. She really wanted to be there, so Mom and Dad made the two-hour journey to the anniversary celebration after he was done working.
It was a busy day. I spent most of my time taking care of our two kids. I could not get our infant son, Jagger, to take a nap. He was very fussy, and I tried everything I could to comfort him. Mom took him, and she put him right to sleep. Thank God for grandmas!
While Mom snuggled Jagger, my sister and I took pictures of the celebration. Mom asked me to take a picture of her and Jagger. I took a few shots, and she asked me to take some more. I remember thinking Ugh! I already did this. Why is she being so insistent? But she was determined to get a good shot of the two of them together.
That was the last time she held my son. It’s one of the few pictures I have of the two of them together. It was the last day I would see her alive.
My sister’s little boy was having fun with the camera and took the last picture of Mom that weekend. She was sitting on a chair in their living room, waving at him with a wonderful smile on her face. Mom passed away ten days later. Fate is a strange and fickle trickster.
According to the autopsy, Mom’s death was “undetectable and unavoidable.” She didn’t know it was coming, and neither did the rest of us. I was the last one to talk to her. Mom and I finished our call a little after 5:30 the night of her passing. Dad had to work late that night, which rarely happened.
Mom passed away in those few hours between my hanging up the phone and Dad’s coming home. Dad has felt guilty for not being there with her, and I have felt guilty about hanging up the phone. We still do not know exactly what happened, but we do know she was alone in her final moments.
We know Mom was in the middle of making dinner and had her suitcase half packed. She was getting ready for a meal with Dad and to travel to a grandson’s baby shower.
My brother and his wife were expecting their first child—a boy. Mom had already started packing, which was strange for her. She was usually very last-minute. Mom was really excited about the baby. In her suitcase was a box of Matchbox cars my brother played with as a child, and it was time to pass them on to the next generation. She was simply going about her day when she died. I guess that’s what happens with a death that is undetectable and unavoidable.
Mom made sure we had a family picture taken in April of 2010. She had wanted one for some time. According to the hairstyles, our last formal family picture was taken in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. It was my parents’ forty-fifth anniversary, and she was determined to make the picture happen to commemorate such a tremendous milestone. Mom, Dad, and the six of us had a fun day taking pictures. It was just us again. No spouses, no kids. We took pictures, goofed off a lot, and had lunch together. I can’t remember the last time we had a day like that!
The goal was to get a complete family portrait taken after my brother’s baby was born. Then each of us six kids would have at least one child. It never happened, and it never will. We used the family picture we took in April for Mom’s funeral. Mom’s insight had been right again. We are all so thankful to have one last family portrait. It would have been better to have a picture with all the spouses and grandchildren too, but it was not meant to be, I guess.
One of the things I noticed most after Mom’s sudden death was the odd assortment of sympathy cards. I kept reading phrases like “Be thankful now that life’s anguish has ended” and “Your loved one is now in Heaven where they are in pain no more.”
Why do we assume people are in so much pain and anguish while they are living? Mom was not sick. Actually, she appeared to be very healthy. She did not have a long-term illness or any apparent health concerns. Were the sympathy cards supposed to make my family feel better by trying to tell us that her sucky life finally ended? Truthfully, I could not relate to many of the cards. The only one that would have really worked would have read something like this:
“Sorry to hear of your Mom’s sudden death. That really sucks, and you have every right to question everything and be pissed off at the world. Your family was totally awesome, and your Mom was an amazing woman. Let us know when you want to come over and have a good cry. Your favorite bottle of wine is chilling in the fridge.”
Everyone has challenges, but shouldn’t life be grand? Life is a gift, not a burden. Contrary to what most sympathy cards seem to portray, life is a journey. It should not be viewed as a seemingly endless challenge filled with misery and pain. Mom’s death was the first thing in 2010 that made me want to fulfill the wishes on my “bucket list.” A trip to Costa Rica was the second.
Fortunately, I work for a great organization. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) helped me take care of my travel arrangements after Mom died in June and rescheduled my trip to Costa Rica for November. That set the stage for event number two. The wheels of fate kept moving forward.
It was a fantastic trip. I experienced a new country with numerous cultures for the first time with two other faculty members (and friends) with whom I went to graduate school. The spouse of one of the faculty members, who is also a good friend, made the trip with us. It truly was a great experience both personally and professionally.
We toured two different campuses of Earth University, spending time in the urban area of San Jose and in rural Costa Rica exploring the relationships between agriculture, natural resources, leadership, and education. Our group also visited a farm family in the rainforest, which ended up being a highlight of the trip. The day before we arrived, the family we visited had access to electricity for the first time. They were excited to show us their progress.
The house itself was what many of us living in rural Nebraska would consider a machine shed that needed work. Picture a worn wood frame covered with rusty pieces of corrugated tin on top of a dirt floor that turned to mud when it rained. Wooden planks were used for a partial floor in the tiny living area, where two parents were raising three children and taking care of an elderly parent. Blankets and curtains substituted for walls.
We talked with the woman of the house. She was a wife and mother as well as a leader in the agricultural community. She and her husband were building a very diverse farming operation, which was growing more successful each year. She was a tiny woman with big, beautiful brown eyes, glowing skin, and a gorgeous smile. Her young son clung to her while we were standing in their kitchen.
With the help of a professor from Earth University, she told us all about the advances they had made in their farming operation. It was a great story. They hooked into electricity a couple of days before we visited, and they also recently had access to methane. She turned on her stove, and a huge flame came shooting out of one of the burners. The look on her face said it all—the thrill of success! It was a great tribute to the hard work her family had invested in their farming operation. It was a wonderful sight. I didn’t have the guts to ask for a picture, but wish I had. What a great moment!
It was raining quite hard while we were there. The woman’s husband was out tending to some business and met us just as we were leaving to head to our next destination. He was wearing a torn plastic bag to protect himself from the rain. The torn bag was not working well. He was soaked! We were finished touring the rainy side of Costa Rica and moving to the drier side, so we gave our ponchos to the family. Amazing how the disposable poncho I purchased for ninety-nine cents could be so valuable. Yet another reminder of how spoiled many of us are without knowing it.
Driving through the rainforest is a thrilling experience. The scenery there is very different from the views we have in Nebraska. Both are beautiful in their unique ways. We drove on very narrow, winding roads that were heavily traveled. Many semis were on the road because it was the best route to the main ports. We were driving around a sharp, narrow curve and nearly hit a vehicle that was coming around from the opposite direction. The vehicles on the opposite side had to cross the centerline to get around the sharp curves. Phew! The first semi that crossed the centerline had missed us. We weren’t so lucky the next time.
It all happened in what felt like slow motion. We were driving around the next curve when a huge semi came from the opposite direction. Our driver, Walter, took our midsize SUV as far to the right as possible. There was a sharp drop-off on our side of the road, so he could get over only so far without either sending us off the side of the road or rolling the vehicle. I was sitting behind Walter and could see the semi coming right toward my window. It’s one of those life moments when you know what is about to happen and can’t do anything to stop it.
My young family flashed through my mind. Jim’s worst fear was something happening to me in a foreign country, leaving him with two young kids to raise by himself. In that moment, I was afraid that was exactly what was going to happen. As the semi barreled toward my window, I thought about my family and braced for impact. I closed my eyes when the semi was about to hit. Crash! The impact was on the side of my door and the rear bumper behind my seat. I opened my eyes and realized we were miraculously spared. I do not use the word miraculously lightly. To this day, I have no idea how we walked away from that accident.
It really didn’t make any sense. The semi had swung way beyond the centerline to make the curve, and we didn’t have a great deal of room on our side of the road to maneuver. I truly believe Walter’s amazing driving skills and divine intervention were at work. We were safe and didn’t have any injuries. I still can’t believe it when my mind flashes back to that moment.
Let’s just say we all felt lucky to be alive and truly enjoyed the rest of our trip. I delicately broke the news to Jim after I returned from Costa Rica, having waited so he would not worry about me while I finished the work assignment. Experiencing Costa Rica was great, but coming home was awesome!
We touched down in Omaha on Saturday. One of my fellow travelers was not feeling well on the trip and was diagnosed with cancer right after we returned. How do you survive a crash with a semi on a narrow road in the Costa Rican rainforest only to be diagnosed with cancer a few days later?
Mom’s death, the semi crash, and a friend’s cancer—all these events caused me to rethink my life to the deepest depths possible.
The Purpose of Go Wild with Confidence
The year 2010 changed the direction of my life forever, and I am now focused on living my best life. As a researcher and coach in the areas of leadership and innovation, I have noticed one issue my clients struggle with most: confidence. Many people have great ideas and a wonderful sense of what they want to do with their lives, but they lack the confidence and inner strength that enables them to move in the right direction.
After Mom’s unexpected passing, I received a mini-book on grief from the pastor of my church. The book, Grief…Reminders for Healing by Gale Massey, was perfect! I could read it quickly and easily when I needed help dealing with Mom’s death. I also gave a copy to Dad, who found himself suddenly struggling with being a widower after forty-five years of marriage.
For those of you reading this right now, I hope you can use this short publication in the same way I used the mini-book on grief: as a simple tool to help improve your life. I now realize how important it is to live a fulfilled life every single day. I no longer take any day, hour, or minute for granted. It is my calling to help others do the same…
Innovation always begins with people. Self-confident individuals filled with passion, purpose, and confidence are the most creative and innovative. They have strong Inner Leaders and the confidence it takes to lead personal, organizational, and community change and innovation.
My research on entrepreneurial individuals and innovation identified personal fulfillment as one of the most important factors associated with motivation and success. I have also found that individuals must discover and define success for themselves. True personal fulfillment and innovation flourish when individuals have the confidence to realize their own passions and take inspired actions. Personal fulfillment is becoming more important to individuals and organizations. It serves as the foundation for a sort of “happiness factor” for individuals and employees. Personal fulfillment also encourages entrepreneurial behavior and innovation. Personally fulfilled employees are more creative, innovative, and engaged, which translates into healthy, vibrant, and successful businesses, organizations, and communities.
The world needs entrepreneurial leaders who have the capacity to nurture personal fulfillment and sustainable innovation. Before you can successfully lead others, you must first lead yourself. So invest in yourself. Focus on developing your Inner Leader by strengthening your confidence and living the life you want for yourself. And, make sure you spread the wealth! Great leaders invest in their confidence as well as the confidence of others.
This book is designed to be used. Record your notes, thoughts, and ideas as you move through the material. Make copies of the pages that speak to you, and place them where you can read them daily. Keep your work in front of you. Take note of your dreams and progress many times per day, especially first thing in the morning and before going to bed. Constant focus on your intentions and progress will help you embed powerful thoughts into your subconscious mind, which is a great way to strengthen your confidence and your Inner Leader.
Confidence is one of the keys to personal fulfillment and happiness. I sincerely hope this book helps you strengthen your Inner Leader and confidence while enjoying life to the fullest. Feel free to share this work to help build the confidence of others. A world of confident people living with purpose and passion is a world of unique gifts and talents that are being used to help us all live in a better place.
Do yourself a favor, and Go Wild with Confidence!
I wrote Go Wild to process my Mom’s death and my own brush with it. Today marks the anniversary of her death, and I am working hard to celebrate her life instead of reliving her sudden and traumatic departure. It’s still not easy. I am writing this with gratitude today remembering my Mom and all that she taught me. Her legacy lives through me, my Dad and siblings as well as her grandchildren. I am a better person and mother because of her. Our family will always celebrate and cherish the great memories. Her legacy will live on for future generations. This fact demonstrates the importance of parenting!
There are many ways to develop your confidence. Ultimately, you have to decide what is right for you. Journaling, meditation, goal setting, visualization, art, nature, healthy eating, physical activity, fun, the use of personal mantras, affirmations, Visual Visions, Personal Confidence Statements, and Personal Confidence Teams can all be great tools to help move you forward. You may also want to consider hiring a coach. Whatever you decide, just make sure the strategies and structures you put in place work for you and are focused on what you truly want to accomplish and experience. Many people set false goals they never achieve because they left their heart and personal desire out of the process.
Setting and pursuing false goals leads to a lack of interest and motivation, which leads to goal abandonment and ultimately to a feeling of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode self-confidence. Goals should be set for you as an individual and based on personal fulfillment, not simply on what you think you should do based on the thoughts and influences of others or society. Establish your personal definition of success. When creating a plan to achieve your definition of success, be sure to develop goals, strategies, and structures that are holistic and recognize the importance and power of the mind-body-spirit connection.
After Mom’s sudden death, I had many conversations with Dad about living life. He told me he had no regrets. My parents celebrated forty-five years of marriage a month before Mom’s passing, and Dad said they did everything they wanted to do together. I will never know Mom’s true thoughts on this subject; I just hope she felt the same way.
Life-changing events have a way of putting things into perspective. My philosophy about life has become this: Life should be a journey filled with wonderful experiences, and we must define success for ourselves. Many of us tend to focus too much on accumulating titles and stuff rather than experiences. Our individual journeys should be what we want to experience and enjoy. Life should not be a daily grind. Life should not be a to-do list.
My family gathered together on the family farm for the 4th of July after Mom’s death. The Fourth was her favorite holiday, and celebrating it was always a big deal. This time, there was a cloud of deep sadness over my family. We wanted to be together on her favorite holiday, but celebrating without her was incredibly painful. As a thick sadness filled the air, it began to sprinkle and a beautiful rainbow appeared. We all stood there in a sort of surprised and unsettling awe. Then, a reassuring feeling came over everyone. We were all thinking it, but my cousin Dann was the only one brave enough to say it out loud. It was a sign from Mom. I later read that rainbows and butterflies commonly serve as after-death communications. Some believe rainbows are the connection between heaven and earth. All I know for sure is that it was a very special moment for my family. We have a picture of Mom’s rainbow over the farm on her favorite holiday. Every time I look at it, I think of Mom, that moment, and the gift of life. Reimers-Hild, Go Wild with Confidence! 101 Your time on this planet is short, so enjoy it. Go Wild with Confidence! Strengthen your Inner Leader, and live your best life with purpose, passion, and fun!
The tools and technologies that help people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, are also fueling Megatrend #2: Living with Purpose and Meaning. Purposeful living is shaping everything from healthcare to education.
Our society is quickly evolving into an era characterized by shared purpose and meaning. Personal fulfillment is a growing trend in business and entrepreneurship. People are looking to decrease their levels of stress and strengthen their healthy habits while finding greater fulfillment.
Ben & Jerry’s is an example of a company that integrates purpose and meaning into its core existence by creating “linked prosperity” for everyone involved with the business. The company supports “linked prosperity” by establishing and aligning social, product and economic missions (benjerry.com/values).
The Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend will continue to grow as the global population increases and places more demands on the planet’s limited natural resources. What does this mean for female entrepreneurs? They may be able to grow by connecting to people through purpose and meaning. Technology may be one way future-focused entrepreneurs can holistically add more purpose and meaning to the lives of both clients and employees.
For example, a forecast by Carbone and Nauth in The Futurist (2012) describes the evolution of the “cloud” from a repository or information to an intelligent resource that can help make decisions and provide assistance. They discuss the cloud evolving from a place to store data to an intelligent resource that will actively help people improve their lives:
Virtual agents will migrate from being an automated form of phone-based customer service to a personalized form of support and assistance that provides information and—more importantly—performs useful tasks. For example, such agents might design a weekly menu based on a family’s health profile, fitness goals, and eating preferences, and automatically order ingredients.
This forecast provides an example of how entrepreneurs can use technology to help their organizations innovate with a focus on the future. A transition from cloud-based computing to cloud-based living and learning is an opportunity for female entrepreneurs to create new profit centers and customer experiences while strengthening employee engagement in a more holistic manner.
Three trends supporting the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend include: 1) minimalism, 2) life increasingly flowing together instead of being compartmentalized into work, family, recreation, etc., and 3) the quest for greater well-being, health and vitality.
Minimalism is one of the trends shaping the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend because people are seeking less stuff and more life. Trend-setting places like the Silicon Valley have embraced minimalism, and this approach to living is influencing everything from living spaces, to workplaces and web design.
People are increasingly learning and living on the go in both the virtual and physical senses, which blurs the lines between family, self-care, work and play. Research has demonstrated that happiness is a precursor to success. These findings question the view that hard work will lead to success, which eventually leads to happiness. Raising levels of positivity in the present creates a “happiness advantage” in the brain, leading to better outcomes in the areas of education, business and well-being. To learn more, check out Shawn Achor’s 2011 TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work.
How do these trends influence entrepreneurship? As more people want to connect with their purpose, find meaning in their lives, and increase their vitality, businesses and communities should take a more people-centered approach focused on meaning, well-being and the mind-body connection, supported by the right social networks, experiences and technologies. A few ideas might include:
Integrating holistic, healthy living and self-care principles into business practices in an effort to create better employee and customer experiences and to create more value in products and services.
Providing coaching for employees to help them uncover their purpose and to create strategies and structures to support meaningful actions designed to improve their careers and lives.
Adding physical activity and fun into the workday in an effort to stimulate creativity, decrease stress, build camaraderie and strengthen overall wellness.
It’s time to focus on the whole person and what life means to each individual. Helping people find their fulfillment, purpose and definition of success may provide future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs with tools to innovate their organizations and communities. Businesses should find new ways to add increased value to the lives of customers, employees and families. People can choose where they want to work, shop and live. They also choose how to invest their time and money. Businesses that add the most value, including those in rural areas, will have the competitive advantage.
Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs:
Develop a clear purpose.Clarity of purpose creates a meaningful path to success. A great coaching tool to use: Create a vision board with your “why” in mind.
Define core values. A business should develop core values that truly represent its brand. Empowered consumers connect with brands and businesses that have core values similar to their own. Outline the core values of your business and what each value means. A great strategic plan can evolve from clear core values. Create visual images for each value and make your values public. Share them with world. They help tell your story.
Make self-care a priority.Physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being are all important. Successful entrepreneurs and their teams need time for creativity and a lot of energy to grow their ventures!
Get positive.A positive mindset has been scientifically proven to support everything from creativity and innovation to increased sales and employee engagement. If you need more help learning how to be more positive, begin coloring your way to happiness with Blue the Bee Learns to Be Happy! (Reimers-Hild and Wetizenkamp, 2015).
Practice gratitude. Keep a physical or digital journal and write in it daily. Writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for everyday will help your brain focus on the positive while helping your notice new opportunities!
Share the stories that enhance the brand with your team and your customers. Use social media platforms to create and present meaningful content worth reading and sharing. People connect with experiences and stories behind the products and services they use!
HAVE FUN! Fun is absolutely invaluable. It decreases stress and improves relationship. Fun is also a foundation to creativity and innovation. This is an area I expand upon in my first book, Go Wild with Confidence! (Reimers-Hild, 2013).
Check out the video below focusing on Megatrend 2: Living with Purpose and Meaning. And, let us know what you are doing to improve your life.
Go Wild with Your Future! And, as always-Be YOU and Do Something Cool!