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January 2006
Success Harmony Newsletter


Traditionally, the beginning of the year is a time of deciding what to do better. Lose weight, quit smoking or save more money. This year, I was made to think about next steps by a very unlikely hero.

Recently, I came across the name of the California "Governator", Arnold Schwarzenegger. Later the same evening, as my husband took on the manly task of flipping through the TV channels, there flashed an image of an angry-looking younger version of Arnold as Conan the Destroyer. Neither of the references to Arnold were evidence of superb excellence, but they do speak of someone who has managed not just to reach high goals, but to mold his identity in different ways according to the person he has wanted to become. Or, perhaps, he has dreamed of some of his roles and just fallen into others. Either way, it made me wonder.

Throughout our years from childhood to the end of our days, how do we really become who we are? How much of it is by our design? How much of it is fate? How much of it is just blind luck - or lack of it? How much of it is due to the big decisions we make - like which career we choose and who we marry? How much of it is due to the small everyday decisions - like what we eat, what we do after work, who we keep in touch with and how often?

My husband tells me that one of his partners says, "the harder I work, the luckier I become". I think that working hard is a big part of the story. But it can't be the whole story. There are thousands of people who work hard and get nowhere, or who work hard only to get successful in the eyes of the world but end up miserable inside. In my life, there have been times when my life had changed in a huge positive way in the span of a few minutes, without working very hard at it. On the other hand, there have been times when I have worked like a slave and didn't end up very far.

For me, finding success and happiness has come from two main places. One was about finding my inner compass, and the other has been about awareness. Huh? What I just said reminds me of when I read some book by some sage - I may read a page that is full of words but that I don't quite get the meaning of.

The inner compass has been about finding out who I am, becoming comfortable with it (warts and all), and allowing that knowledge to guide me through life. For example, I was told for years that I was too emotional and that people didn't like that. Over the years, I have learned that being emotional brings with it a level of sensitivity that is both a blessing and a curse. I have learned that it helps me understand and empathize with others' needs and concerns quickly. At the same time, I have learned that there are situations where my sensitivity is a hindrance. There are jobs that I am not a good fit for because of it, and there are people who cannot relate to me. This used to bother me and I tried to be different for far too many years, until I realized that there are far more situations that will fit better the more I am who I really am. So the inner compass started to come together, slowly but surely. I have realized that there is an intellectual curiosity I need to nourish. I have realized that animals are very important in my life and I need to respect that or I lose my soul. I have found out that I need to be close to nature. I have realized that I need to do things that improve the conditions of those around me in some way. I have realized that putting smiles on people's faces gives me joy like no other. There are many, many different ways to accomplish these things. Just like Arnold has become Mr. Universe, Conan the Destroyer, the Terminator, a husband, a father, and the governor of California, there are many identities that fit the bill. And yet there are even more that don't fit - and that is the trap for the person who doesn't realize they have their inner compass or who chooses to follow someone else's compass instead.

And the awareness? It sounds like some woo-woo New Age concept "aah, put your head down, meditate and the answer will just come to you" concept. And, perhaps, that is what it is. There are multitudes of things that happen around us every single day that give us clues of the best direction. The thing is, are we too busy to notice? Do we notice and do nothing about it? Or do we notice and follow through? It is this last way that is the awareness I talk about. The clues are always there. An ad in the paper can inspire a business empire, an accidental conversation with a stranger on the bus can lead to a marriage or life-long friendship. An advertising banner for an online dating service was what led me down a path to my now-husband. A dare by an ex-boyfriend led me to try out for a public speaking competition. I was deathly afraid but I tried out. I got accepted. Years later, public speaking became my career. The ex-boyfriend has been long gone for over a decade, but the result of his dare has lived on. Who would I have been had I not followed through on the dare? Who would I be now if I had followed through on some other things that have come across my path and I turned away from?

As you go through planning for this year and beyond, look at your goals and your tasks, but go even deeper and even bigger. Who do you want to be? If there was a description for the kind of person you wanted to be, what would that description say? In setting your internal compass, use conceptual descriptions - instead of saying, "I'd be a doctor", say, "I'd help people be healthier and feel better about themselves." The compass is about setting your values. Jobs and the people around you may change over time, values generally stick with you throughout your life. Then, as you get your compass, become hyper-aware of events and people around you. See if you can decipher clues that lead to the paths you can take to become the person you want to be. Sometimes, the clues are apparent right away. Sometimes, you see a clue as a clue but it may take a while to understand its meaning. Set it aside and it will probably combine with something else along the way to lead you along.

So, who will YOU be this year? Hasta la vista, Baby?

Sunshine and smiles,


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"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson

"Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure."
George E. Woodberry

"Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action."
Benjamin Disraeli






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© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada