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Jeff Carreira

How to be Terribly Imperfect and Get Started Anyway 1024 683 Thayer Fox

How to be Terribly Imperfect and Get Started Anyway

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us.” Steven Pressfield

Is there something you want to do but you don’t feel ready yet? Maybe in a year? Maybe another class or degree will prepare you? If that’s your current thought process than Resistance has you in a headlock. I learned about the force of Resistance in a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Two friends gifted me this work of genius within a few months of each other, so I finally sat down and read it. After reading it a second time, I decided to buy it on Audible to listen whenever I lose my luster, which happens a few times a month.

Resistance kept me from writing for twenty years. The War of Art taught me that an enemy identified, can be overcome. If there is anything that you dream about bringing into the world than I suggest you buy this book today.

For years my coach, Jeff, told me to start a blog. “Not my thing”, I always responded. “Blogs are for millennials or vanity projects for bad writers with hidden fame agendas.” On my birthday this past January, Jeff set up a rough Word Press site to house my writing. I had taken a writing class in the Fall and was enjoying it again. Since no one knew the site was there, I viewed it as an online journal. Based on past experience, I knew that working in a closed loop with selective feedback was imperative. Random feedback early in a creative process is never useful, per my article from last week.

After starting the unofficial blog, I began to realize that I would never be ready and that training happens on the court as I handle the ball. Action awakens magic, which then creates better next steps than I could’ve ever premeditatedly plotted out. Action, however, does not silence the voice in my head for long. Many believe that the goal of meditation and mindfulness is to quiet that voice. Not getting sucked into what the voice says is critical, but if you succeed in silencing it for long stretches of time than you are way too comfortable. The more risks I take, the more my upstairs tenant yaps away.

When I officially launched the blog, every new post registered as an embarrassment. Until one day after hitting publish, the fear of what people thought of me didn’t enter my mind. I was finally bulletproof. In the War of Art Book 2, Steven calls this “turning pro”. Now, I not only embrace the value of doing something that makes me cringe, but I seek it out. Placing myself in situations that stretch me is Miracle-Gro.

Because I never had a clear intention to launch a blog, I didn’t research the blog world extensively until after I got started. Positive feedback from friends and family confirmed transmission of my Why and gave me the courage I needed to do research that could trigger “compare and despair.”

I was already making some critical errors. I was not writing in standard blog format or using titles that were favored in Google searches.  All the tips and tricks to receive Google and social media love made my head spin. Posting selfies of me blending my morning coffee was not an option, but my scrappy side said that I could walk a line between my mission statement and selling my soul. I contemplated hiring Instagram and Blog marketing specialists; rigging results in this field are not hard if you pay up.

Book 3 of The War of Art, Beyond Resistance/The Higher Realm made the next step of my journey clear. Steven talks about the importance of knowing your territory and the difference between territorial and hierarchical living. I know that creating authentic value for my reader by sharing openly is my territory. I love giving away everything I learn in the form of articles. Tailoring my posts for short attention spans seeking instant gratification would get me worldly (hierarchical) results and maybe a temporary buzz but inauthenticity never leads to long-term fulfillment.

Once I staked out my territory, the concept of success became malleable. I never knew that I could create my own metric, I thought there was one set of standards, and according to those I win or lose. I decided that being the recipient of three emails a week from people who got value out of something I wrote would be my unit of measurement. Create your own definition for success and getting started won’t carry the weight it does in your head. Why are you borrowing a standard made up by someone else who may have entirely different values?

Since starting this blog I have gone through a few phases- excited, inspired, disgusted by the positivity I pass along. Many days I am a hostage of my perfectionism and judgment. Some days I feel like a fraud. After a fight with my daughter, it crosses my mind that there are areas of my life that are incongruent with what I write about, maybe I need to stop writing until I handle them. What I do in spite of all the internal and external feedback, is write. Writing no matter what is my only rule. I have the mission of the blog posted by the computer to stay on track because how I hold what I am doing changes daily with my mood and sleep patterns.

Getting started is about picking up all your broken parts, throwing them into a backpack and moving forward. Be terribly imperfect and start anyway.

 

Feedback: Who You Listen to Is Just as Important as Who You Ignore 640 428 Thayer Fox

Feedback: Who You Listen to Is Just as Important as Who You Ignore

Over the past year, feedback has played a critical role in my growth. Seeking feedback has been a system of mine since I stopped drinking. So why did it take thirteen years for me to see any results? A glitch was sabotaging my feedback system. I was jogging 5 miles a day and eating an extra-large fat-free/high sugar frozen yogurt covered in rainbow sprinkles for dinner wondering why I couldn’t shake the extra few pounds. One blind spot can derail an entire system. Feedback is either a tsunami wiping out miles of beach or rocket fuel that can blast you to the moon, there is no in between.

After thirty years of doing things my way and ending up with a suicide note in my side table drawer, I became open to feedback. This was my first experience taking advice. Without alcohol as anesthesia, I was swallowed by the pain of poor choices and unprocessed emotions. A flesh container filled with impulses and fears, it was amazing that I had survived for thirty years without listening to anyone. Desperation gave me the willingness to try a different way. As the AA old timers say, I took the cotton out of my ears and put it in my mouth.

My life grew exponentially as I followed suggestions from my sponsor and other sober women from AA. I met my husband, we had our daughter, bought an apartment, settled into the American Dream. A year after the birth of my son, my ego started whispering, “we can take it from here.” It’s easy to locate the periods in my life when I allowed this thought to be my driver; dragging myself out of a burning vehicle is always the next scene in the movie. Eight years sober, with every box checked I hit a spiritual bottom.

With pain as my motivator, I returned to AA and started working with Jeff. Yes, is a gift of willingness and I started saying yes again to whatever was suggested. The feedback system was successfully re-instated; I began to feel better.

Widening the feedback circle with my expansion, I noticed how a casual comment could deflate me. Negative or careless feedback can destroy an embryonic idea in a sentence. Yet, I kept bringing dreams to intelligent people with clipped wings and walked away believing that flight was not an option. Unaware of my blind spot in this pattern, I thought I needed to keep working on becoming a better me who would produce better ideas.

Rarely did I strategically select the source of feedback because unbeknownst to me, information wasn’t my objective, I was looking for approval and love. Proximity also made a lot of my decisions. It was easy to be lazy with a ton of well-educated friends who will give me thirty minutes of their day. I would share whatever idea was percolating with whoever was next up on my calendar. A stopped clock is right twice a day, so sometimes I got lucky.

At the two Tony Robbins events, I attended this past year, my blind spot was uncloaked. First, I had to separate love and approval from my feedback loop. Next, I had to get clear on what I wanted to accomplish. If you want useful answers, then you need to carefully construct your questions. Then I had to look at how I selected a feedback source. Tony says that mastery is doing something every day, taking a course or reading a book doesn’t make you a master of anything. The key to feedback is finding someone who is living and breathing the topic, so it is integrated into their bloodstream and not an extraneous subject they study. For example, seeing a shrink who is single to discuss your marriage because she has a degree from Columbia on her wall is the wrong determining factor. Going to a friend who still giggles and holds hands with her husband fifteen years later will always yield superior results.

The other day on a plane, I was able to help someone who was struggling with addiction. I know I have a black belt in this area, so I spoke up confidently when the young man across the aisle asked me if I thought he drank too much. I also know when to keep my mouth shut or recommend another feedback source. If I am giving boardroom advice based on Adam Grant’s brilliant presentation philosophy in The Originals, the only thing you should consider is purchasing the book. I haven’t given a business presentation for over fifteen years. Yesterday’s work doesn’t qualify when considering a feedback source.

If you choose to casually share a new endeavor with a friend or colleague, be prepared for unsolicited feedback. Knowing who to listen to and who to ignore is an essential skill. Always ask yourself before the wind leaves your sails “Is this person qualified to give me feedback in this area? Better yet, be conscious about what you share with whom. Just because someone is a good colleague or mother friend doesn’t mean they will understand your creative vision.

Positive people who always agree with every word you say are great fuel sources, but they aren’t ideal for feedback either. If your heart rate hasn’t picked up when you request feedback, then you are playing it safe. I showed three people preliminary blog posts before starting The Growth Project: one person for quality, another person for content and then my husband who I can count on to say it all. Building a site without this due diligence would have been wasteful if all three of them declared that my articles didn’t align with my mission.

Here is my Feedback hit list as a take away:

  1. Feedback is critical, but who you choose to receive it from more so.
  2. Don’t default to the easily accessible. Your smart and available friend who attended Princeton twenty years ago isn’t qualified to coach you in many areas. Doing extra research and finding the six degrees of separation source is worth the effort.
  3. Ask yourself before approaching any source “Why are you qualified to give me feedback on X.” The answer should be as evident as the color of the sky.
  4. If you find yourself a recipient of unsolicited feedback, don’t mistake certainty for sage wisdom. Knowing what to ignore is just as important as your great idea.
  5. Feedback is only valuable if you implement it. Don’t waste people’s time unless you are ready to go the distance.

 

How to Become the Source of Your Own Inspiration 640 426 Thayer Fox

How to Become the Source of Your Own Inspiration

What are you doing in your life that inspires you? Are you hesitating at that question because it feels arrogant to claim yourself as a source of inspiration? Do you use some version of the I am not good enough tape as an excuse? That thinking paralyzed me for a long time.

It’s easier than ever to stay plugged into inspiration, thanks to the surplus of podcasts, books and social media accounts offering it at low or no cost. With such easy access, we no longer need to trek into the jungle and hunt ourselves. Why get dirty and risk a snake bite if you can hang out on a boulder and receive an airdrop? It’s all harmless until ten years roll by and we are still discussing the latest Tim Ferriss podcast over a green juice after hot yoga. Consistently absorbing meaningful material can create a false sense that we are leading inspiring lives as we shop for face cream. Information only becomes useful when it moves us into action.

In 2013, after a year of drastic growth from my participation in  The Evolutionary Collective, Landmark and working with Jeff Carreira, I felt alive in a way that I had never experienced. I loved feeling inspired. Experiencing ah-ha moments flooded me with energy and sharing these moments with others lit me up. Craving more, I spoke to a friend I had made in the EC about other workshops that I could enroll in.

On my weekly call with Jeff, I ran through some ideas for my next step. Jeff listened patiently as I rambled on about finding more inspiration. When I was done, he said, “What if you became the source of your own inspiration?” I didn’t know how to respond to this, it was a radical concept. Jeff continued, “Breakthroughs only last when you create new habits to support the possibility that becomes available at that moment. You must step through the doorway that temporarily opens and take massive action.”

That hit me hard. I loved talking about the internal work I was doing, but nothing in my daily life reflected my growth. There were no measurable results and more importantly, what good was all this growth if I didn’t use it in the world?

Jeff continued, “Maybe it’s time to integrate the work you have been doing before signing up for more. Let’s create something together in your life that will excite you regularly.” Out of this conversation, Change Your Story, Create Your Life was born.

CYSas we referred to it, began as an idea on a phone call at 9:30pm. The morning after, I approached Sheltering Arms, a charity that I had been volunteering at, and asked if they had a mentorship program. They did not but mentioned the juvenile justice homes they ran in the Bronx. A week later after a lunch meeting, they agreed that I could visit one of their female, teenage homes with a few friends. Over the moon, I emailed a hundred women, and ten came for coffee in my living room. Out of that ten, four wanted to throw the event at the Bronx home with me.

The first visit changed our lives. After an hour of art projects and snacks, we were in love with the bright, bold young women who lived there. We promised to come back as they hugged us tightly.

The Sheltering Arms administration didn’t anticipate our ongoing interest, but after a firm annual commitment, training and fingerprinting we were approved for regular visits. We quickly realized that art projects and snacks were fun, but wouldn’t make a long-term difference in the girl’s lives. Shaping a simple program based on concepts that I learned in my workshops, we arrived every Tuesday night excited to share the best part of ourselves. Something more powerful than my personality flowed through me when I delivered the weekly lesson to the girls. The next morning, I couldn’t imagine being the woman the night before- she became my inspiration.

CYS ended after two years because three of my friends relocated and the leadership of the home changed. Other volunteers could have been found and trained, but I was clear that the magic was due to the organic energy of our group. I am still in touch with many of the girls we worked with, and they vividly recall our visits as a highlight in their lives; I know it will always be one in mine.

CYS was the first time I acknowledged myself as being a source of inspiration. After that time, I have never blamed my surroundings again for lacking stimulation. I also began noticing other areas of my life where I was already shining my light- my family and AA service work.

You are probably doing something inspiring already, and don’t even realize it. Rarely do we give ourselves proper credit. We are all masterpieces, and it’s a tragedy not to share what life has been preparing us to do since the day we were born. Getting started requires accepting that we will never feel ready.

What are you doing today to be the source of your inspiration?

 

The We Space: The Energy Between Us All 1024 683 Thayer Fox

The We Space: The Energy Between Us All

Have you ever stared into a person’s eyes for a few minutes without speaking? Does the thought make you cringe? Do you long for deeper connection in your life? Is there a gap between how you feel about someone and your communication? What if I told you that when we tune into the space between us, without cluttering it with words, something magical happens. I spent a year exploring the “we space” by participating in a course called the Evolutionary Collective.

After thirty years in the New York City shrink offices, I believed that growth was all about me storming through my inner landscape with a flashlight and a microscope. Sometimes the work called for a toothbrush and other times a pickaxe.

Not a group person, I have always identified as a lone wolf. It’s ironic that AA saved my life because it’s a group setting. Dread is still my dominant default emotion before every developmental workshop I attend. Little did I know that my first workshop was the gold standard of GROUP.

After working with Jeff Carreira for two months, he suggested again that I attend an introduction to the course that he was teaching with Patricia Albere called the Evolutionary Collective. The name was weird, the location of the orientation was inconvenient, and I said yes because something had already started shifting internally after talking to Jeff regularly. I wanted more.

When I walked into the midtown west loft space on a Saturday afternoon, I freaked out. Men with facial hair sat chatting with middle-aged women in flowing clothes on brightly colored furniture. Everybody was enthusiastically greeting each other. I saw Jeff in a doorway that lead to another room and bee-lined over to him. He was talking to a tall, red-haired woman who stood inside the room. Jeff hugged me and introduced me to Patricia Albere. She held my hand as she shook it and stared into me with x-ray eye contact for an extended period. Pulling away first, I awkwardly asked if I could sit down inside what was set up like a classroom. I pretended to read something on my phone until the session began.

I learned later that Patricia was an original member of the EST organization (currently called Landmark Education) and was trained by Werner Erhard as a teacher. She became a teacher trainer in EST and Landmark. You don’t need to know a thing about her to realize that she is a force.

I can’t remember anything that Patricia and Jeff said that day because I spent the entire time in my head reviewing my comfort level and judging the people around me. What I do recall was a partner exercise with a man seated next to me. We were instructed to stare into each other’s eyes in silence for five minutes. Every minute dragged by as I self-consciously stared into this stranger’s eyes, my heart and mind racing.

Patricia rang a bell and then instructed us to share what was happening in the space between us. I had no idea what she was talking about and was relieved when my partner volunteered to start off. I will never forget what he said; “there was no space between us because you sat in your head the entire time.” He didn’t deliver those words sweetly either. Panicking because I was now a spiritual workshop failure, I felt like I was going to cry. I explained that this was my first time doing anything like this and I was uncomfortable. He said my fear and anxiety were my ego ‘s way of keeping me separate and asked me if this probably showed up in other areas of my life. Ouch.

After working with a few more partners that day, I became slightly more comfortable with the eye gazing exercise. Something in my body opened up, creating a softening in my heart space. I even hugged a group of women before I left.

When I arrived home, Daniel asked me how my “weirdo workshop” went as he stared at a Football game on the TV screen. He barely glanced over as he spoke and the communication felt hollow after what I had experienced. Wondering if this was a sample of all my relationships, I instantly responded that I was going back for the full weekend orientation in a few weeks.

I wasn’t sure about any of it, all I knew was that I wanted more in my life than casual glances. A week later, Daniel asked if he could come to the EC weekend with me. Noticing my surprise, he commented that something had been different about me the past few days and he wanted to experience for himself what caused it.

We both ended up joining the EC, as it’s referred to by its’ participants, for the following year. The commitment was three weekend-long retreats and bi-monthly Monday night calls. We also were assigned rotating partners to do a phone version of the eye-gazing practice. We did a lot more than stare into each other’s eyes over that beautiful year. I understood the power of commitment and intention. Getting out of my head and into my heart was gift enough. There were and still are many fascinating people in the EC. I met two mothers there who became soul sister friends. Almost six years later and I still have a monthly call with Jeff and a group of women from the original EC who live in Massachusetts.

The year spent exploring the “we space” changed me. I never realized that there is a dance of energy happening inside us and between us all the time. In every interaction, there is a space that opens up, be it two people, small groups or huge organizations. When we tune into serving that space and step away from self, love, we access the divine nature inside us all.

Patricia now runs the EC on her own; it’s bicoastal; here is the link: http://www.evolutionarycollective.com

How Random Encounters Can Change Our Lives 1024 696 Thayer Fox

How Random Encounters Can Change Our Lives

Sometimes random encounters can change our life forever. This was the case when I met Jeff Carreira for lunch at a vegan restaurant in 2012. The next time you meet someone through unusual circumstances, stay open and allow the bigger picture to reveal itself in time.

I was desperate to feel differently, willing to take any measures. The funk I felt was similar to the bottom I reached at the end of my drinking career. I had become sober and grown immeasurably. How the hell did I end up spiritually bankrupt again? Every line item that I thought was needed for a happy life was checked: husband, kids, apartment, friends, personal trainer, and designer clothes, etc. On the outside, my life looked ideal, but according to what blueprint? Whose plan was I following anyway? Had I unconsciously been trying to recreate a better version of my childhood? Had I been hanging out in yesterday’s transformation for too long?

Meeting a middle-aged man who was a teacher at a spiritual community for lunch definitely took me way outside my comfort zone. When a man of medium stature with curly dark hair walked in and looked over, we identified each other immediately.

Our conversation was awkward at first until Jeff asked me why I was there. Three hours later, we were still there, holding hands across the table crying. “What if you had the same exact life but felt entirely different? That is what I can offer you,” Jeff said with certainty. It was a movie that I would have turned off a day before. I had no idea what he meant, or how he could make this happen, but at that moment I trusted him fully. “Give me a week to think through the best way to work together. I have a lot on my plate right now and don’t normally take on private clients” he said, as we were getting up from the table. A week was way too long, but I was in no position to push him.

Jeff also mentioned joining forces with another teacher, Patricia Albere, to run a year-long course called the Evolutionary Collective. Jeff asked if I would be interested in signing up for that group. I informed him that I was NOT a group person. All this talk of spiritual teachers and year-long commitments was more than I could handle. Working one-on-one with Jeff replicated the shrink model I knew well.

To my relief, Jeff called a few days later. “I have thought about it, and I can’t wait to work with you. I think talking at least once a week is important.” Over the moon, I asked if we could begin that day and he agreed.

https://jeffcarreira.com