Posted on 8 Comments

Today I’m Inspired by: Alice Herz-Sommer

The oldest living Holocaust survivor

At 108 years old, Alice Herz-Sommer is both the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor and the world’s oldest concert pianist. She was eight years old when the Titanic sank, saw the start and end of the first world war, survived the atrocities of the Nazi prison camps, outlived her mother, husband and only son, and is a twenty-five year cancer survivor. Through unspeakable tragedy, Alice is still smiling, victorious over the anguish, pain and death that could have killed her shining spirit many decades ago. Alice is an incurable optimist.

A life of privilege

Alice Herz was born in Prague in November 1903, into a privileged secular Jewish family of five siblings. Her father, Friedrich, was a successful merchant and her mother, Sofie, was highly educated and moved in circles of well-known artists, composers and writers of the time. Alice started learning the piano from her older sister at 5 years old. At 16, she became the youngest student a the German Music Academy. Through hard work and enviable diligence, by the end of her teens, Alice had established a solid career for herself as a concert pianist and teacher. By her late twenties she was well-known throughout Central Europe. In 1931, Alice met and married Leopold Sommer, a kind-hearted business man and amateur musician, who spoke five languages. Alice fondly remembers him as “an extremely gifted man, extremely gifted”. Their son Raphael was born in 1937.

An idyllic life shattered

At the age of 35, Alice’s seemingly comfortable, secure and cultured existence was about to be shattered. Hitler’s army invaded Prague in March 1939; the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia had begun. “Everything was forbidden” Alice remembers,”we couldn’t buy groceries, take the tram, or go to the park.” Although for a while, Alice and her small family were allowed to continue living in their flat, they were surrounded by Nazis, and most Jews were sent to live in the ghetto. “We had to give away all our belongings. We had nothing.”

A bad situation became suddenly worse in 1942, when Sommer’s frail and sickly 72-year old mother was plucked from their lives and sent to a death camp. Soon after, Alice, her husband and 6 year old son were shipped off to the Theresienstadt concentration camp at the fortress town of Terezin. Described as a “purgatory for artists and musicians”, the camp housed the Jewish cultural elite of Europe. It was no spa town as advertised by the Nazis. There, she engaged in hard labor splitting mica chips for war production. They lived on watered down black coffee and watery soup. “we were so weak”, Alice remembers.

The highly-fortified and remote Terezin camp was used by the Nazis to fool the outside world. They allowed the Red Cross to visit three times per year, while in reality it was merely a transit camp to the gas chambers. Hitler’s army eventually tolerated cultural activities there, and used it to their own advantage. Jewish inmates were allowed to practice their music, and Alice gave over 100 concerts playing Beethoven, Bach and Schubert two or three times a week from memory to sick, hopelessly hungry and dying fellow inmates. “It was propaganda,” Sommer says. “This was something they could show the world, while in reality they were killing us.” But the music helped to sustain their souls. “There was no food. Music was our food. Through music we were kept alive” Alice recalls.

Redemption

In May 1945, the camp was liberated by the Russians. By then, it estimated that almost 140,000 Jews passed through Terezin to their deaths. Alice and Raphael were free. Alice’s husband had been sent to the notorious death camp, Auschwitz 8 months earlier, and although he survived his internment there, she would never see him again as he died of Typhus only six weeks before the end of the war.

Alice’s son was one of only 130 children known to leave Terezin alive of the over 15,000 children sent there during the war. Many died of starvation, cruelty and sickness, while the rest taken to deaths in the gas chambers. The survival of Alice’s son is the most extraordinary testament to her unwavering optimism. Alice remembers Raphael would keep asking, ‘What is war? Why are we hungry?”, as hundreds and hundreds died around them every day. Alice recounts, “it’s not easy for a mother to see her child crying, and to know that she does not even have a little bread to give him.” “But… I shielded him” she states triumphantly.  “We were always talking and laughing”. “Never did I let my son see my fear or worry. Laughter was our only medicine.” And even after the nightmare was over, Alice says “I never spoke a word about it because I didn’t want my child to grow up with hatred because hatred brings hatred. I succeeded. And I never hated either, never, never.”

Alice moved to Israel in 1949 where she lived for almost 40 years before her son convinced her to join him in London in 1986. In 2001, Raphael, who had gone on to study at the Paris Conservatory and to become a celebrated professional solo cellist, died suddenly of an aneurism while on tour at the age of 65.

Alice today

Today, living in a cozy one-room flat in London, Alice is contented with life, and still smiling. She sticks to her daily routine with ferocious discipline, starting her piano at 10am sharp. “I have trouble moving these two fingers,” she says smiling, slightly embarrassed. She was swimming daily up to the age of 97. She also reads every day, holding a giant magnifying glass. She takes long walks daily, shunning both walker and hearing aid, and still cooks for herself. “If Hitler could have heard me playing my music I’m sure he would have been a better man.”

At 108, Alice is still witty and coherent, even flirtatious, with a ready laugh. When asked the secret to her long life, Alice responds, “in a word: optimism. I look at the good. When you are relaxed, your body is always relaxed. When you are pessimistic, your body behaves in an unnatural way. It is up to us whether we look at the good or the bad. When you are nice to others, they are nice to you. When you give, you receive.” Even at her advanced age, Sommers’ joy for living still shines through “I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times… Yet, life is beautiful, and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.” Alice is not afraid of death, she says “when I die I can have a good feeling. I believe I lived my life the right way.”

Alice’s Survival Lessons

Here are 8 lessons we can learn from the life of this extraordinary woman:

1. Learn, learn, learn.

Alice’s mother had a love of learning and instilled in her children a desire to hungrily pursue knowledge, “to learn, to learn, to learn, to know, to know” Alice remembers. All through her life, it is the strength of Sommers’ mind that sustained her. She believes in putting something in your mind everyday that no one can take from you. Up to the age of 104, Alice would make the trek three times per week to a nearby university to study history, and philosophy. Even now, every Saturday, she keeps her intellectual brain limber by playing Scrabble with a friend.

2. Be disciplined. Work hard.

According to Alice, “Work is the best invention, the best.” Even past the age of 100, playing the piano is still a discipline for her. Every day she starts with an hour of Bach followed by the rest of her pieces, in order not to forget. It is not easy, and she has to play with only eight of her fingers. But, she says “It makes you happy to have something”.  According to Alice, we must always be purposefully engaged. “The worst thing is life, in my opinion, is boredom – when people don’t know what to do with themselves”. Alice asserts, “boredom is dangerous”. When it comes to diet, Alice applies discipline, too. “For 30 years I have eaten the same, fish or chicken. Good soup, and this is all. I don’t drink, not tea, not coffee, not alcohol. Hot water.” As for exercise, even at her age, Alice says “I walk a lot with terrible pains, but after 20 minutes it is much better. Sitting or lying is not good.”

3. Laugh.

Alice’s strategy has not only been to think happy thoughts, but to show it by laughing. She is convinced this is what kept her young son alive, even as he witnessed daily atrocities for two years in the Nazi camps. “Everything is good and bad. So look at the good side and laugh.” “And I was always laughing – even there, I was always laughing.” Many people may have called Alice’s attitude fake along the way, or even accused her of being in denial, but Alice has had the last laugh, and the best.

4. Look inside yourself for strength.

Alice’s bond with her mother was so strong, that when Alice’s mother was taken away by the Nazis, she experienced grief that she thought would crush her. A small voice within told her that the strength to overcome would not come from outside help, not from her friends, her husband or her son. “You alone can help yourself”, Alice remembers stoically. She found that strength by rigorously practicing “for hours and hours” one of the most technically challenging pieces for any pianist, Chopin’s ’24 Etudes’. Her ability to master the difficult music led to her conquering her grief.

5. Don’t complain.

Complaining about a situation never ever changes it. Alice cautions: “All that complain, ‘This is terrible’, it’s not so terrible after all. Complaining changes nothing.” “When you are not complaining…everybody loves you.”

6. Be optimistic. Look for the good things.

“Every day in life is beautiful – if we only look up from our reality”, Alice admonishes. Pessimists “wait for catastrophes, and sometimes the catastrophes come” she says, almost mockingly. “Always look for the good things in life: the world is wonderful, it’s full of beauty and miracles.” Alice credits her longevity to her optimism, saying “this is the reason I am so old, I know about the bad things but I look only for the good things.” “I think about the good. That takes a lot of practice.”

7. Never hate.

“When you know history – wars and wars and wars … It begins with this: that we are born half-good and half-bad – everybody, everybody. And there are situations where the bad comes out and situations where the good comes out.” Alice zealously expresses. “Never, never hate. I don’t hate the Germans. They are wonderful people, no worse than others. Evil has always existed and always will. It is part of our life.” As for Hitler, Sommer dismisses him simply as “a madman”. “I never hate. I will never hate. Hatred brings only hatred.”

8. Be grateful.

When asked what the greatest lesson of her life has been, Alice’s reply is “thankfulness”. “Be thankful for everything, being in good health, seeing the sun, hearing a nice word”, Alice advises. She laments, “Young people take everything for granted… There is electricity, cars, telegraph, telephone, Internet. We also have hot water all day long. We live like kings.” Alice is even thankful for her experience in the camp. “I am thankful to have been there… I am richer than other people.” And to sum her 108 year, Alice says “I have had such a beautiful life”. And when asked about her philosophy of life in a nutshell, this peerless lady surmises simply: “Everything we experience is a gift. Everything is a present.”

For more on Alice Herz-Sommer’s inspiring life, I recommend Caroline Stoessinger’s biography ‘A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World’s Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor‘.

 

Posted on 8 Comments

21 Inspiring Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born the son of a minister in Boston, Massachusetts in 1803. After attending the prestigious Harvard College, Emerson initially followed in his father’s footsteps and became an ordained minister. While still a young man, however, he left the clergy to pursue a career as an essayist and public speaker. Over the course of his career, he became one of the most influential nineteenth century literary figures. His two most famous works, essays ‘Nature’ and ‘Self Reliance’ serve to clearly outline his distinct philosophy of life which emphasized optimism, individuality, the unity of all things, the difference between right and wrong and the power of human potential.

Here are 21 of his most inspiring quotes:

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On achieving your dreams

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On optimism

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On personal growth

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On using time wisely

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting… Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On recognizing greatness in others

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On friendship and love

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Love, and you shall be loved.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On character.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On gratitude

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On starting each day anew

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On not taking life too seriously

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted on 1 Comment

Promise Yourself…

 

Promise yourself to think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds. Christian D. Larson wrote these words one hundred years ago. He realized that self-confidence combined with humility is a prerequisite for personal achievement.

When you think well of yourself — I am thoughtful, I am kind, I am productive, I am a positive person, I am considerate of other people, I am creative, I am diligent at work, I am punctual — you will naturally make your best effort to give expression to those thoughts as you go through your day. On the other hand, if you persistently think of yourself as weak, lazy, selfish, limited, then these traits will gain tangible expression in your life. People who experience a lack of self-confidence feel restricted by their own limiting thoughts; deep down inside they don’t feel good about themselves. Consistently thinking negative thoughts about yourself creates a ‘bad reputation’ of yourself within you. This lack of self-worth then gains expression through low levels of achievement and a general dissatisfaction with your life.

It is natural to question your own positive opinions about yourself. Having self-worth does not mean trying to hypnotize yourself into thinking that you’re perfect or better than you truly are. Self confidence is not an indication of a lack of humility. True self confidence requires a level of comfort with your insecurities and imperfections. Being aware of your flaws empowers you to work to improve them. If you think of yourself as a kind person, you will be more likely to act in accordance with that perception.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to recognize your self-worth; it is your most important psychological resource. Thinking well of yourself is not about bragging or bringing attention to yourself. It is, rather, an abundance of recognition and gratitude for all the blessings you’ve been given. When you are deeply aware of your talents and potential, you don’t want to see those abilities go to waste. Having a sense of self-worth means being aware of the good that is within you. Tapping into the awareness of your own potential inspires action; it creates a hunger for expression. Thinking well of yourself creates a sense of responsibility and empowers you to go out and do great things. When you expect more from yourself, you do more.

Here are four great reasons to take the time to think great thoughts about yourself every day and develop a good sense of self worth:

1. The world becomes a beautiful place filled with possibility; life will seem less difficult, the universe less scary.
2. You will be better able to cope with adversity and challenges when they come along.
3. You will be more open to others, and less likely to see those around you as a threat.
4. You will be more inclined to treat others well and your friendships and relationships will improve.
5. You will be happier; without constantly thinking you don’t measure up, you will find joy in just being you.

You are unique. You are amazing in so many ways. There are greater powers and possibilities within you than you know, and those possibilities are limitless. You can do more and be more than you have in the past, but you must intend it. Intention starts with thought. Think great thoughts of yourself and live up to them by the things that you do. Go out and act like the person you know you can be. Proclaim your greatness to the world today! You wouldn’t want to disappoint yourself, now would you?

Posted on Leave a comment

Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to today to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

Posted on 6 Comments

5 Reasons Why You Should Want A Tough Boss

Whenever I encounter someone struggling under the weight of new professional demands, I share the story of my very first job.

I was 18 years old and straight out of A-Levels. After re-sitting Chemistry, I took a job for a few months at a boutique before starting University in the fall. My attitude going in was that working in a retail clothing store would be dead easy.

Charmaine was my boss. Every day, she would grill me on the exact way to write up receipts, make sure all the hangers faced the same direction, and how to fold the clothes so that they formed precisely uniform stacks. The racks were to be dusted twice per day, and all the windows had to be double and triple checked when leaving in the afternoon. Smiles were to be bright, greetings always perky, and customers always to be treated like royalty.

Charmaine was tirelessly exacting about everything. Customers should never walk in and find you seated, or with your back turned. Suggestions must always be made for accenting and completing every outfit. Colors were to always be described using yummy names. Every day for my first week, I went home and cried my eyes out. My soon to be off to University self-esteem was taking a beating. I wanted to quit. I hated her. Who makes such a fuss about working in a silly clothing store? But I toughed it out and stayed.

Charmaine taught me what it means to take pride in my work and to be excellent. The experience of working at ‘A Thousand Flowers’ boutique for a few months shaped my work ethic for life. Charmaine is still one of the people I hold most dear today.

My first tough boss, Charmaine, and me in 2008, 15 years after we first worked together.

 

 

People fantasize about their dream bosses, they dream of working for the kind of slacker who lets you get away with murder, go for lunch as long as you want, come in late, and who would never dream of insisting that you actually work hard to perform your duties properly. What you should really be wishing for is a boss who is smart, great at their job and demanding.

In short, you want a tough boss who is better at your job than you, and will notice every single mistake you make and call you out on it. The best bosses I have had are the ones that insisted on the highest standards from me and forced me to see and live up to my true potential. I read a great article yesterday which reminded me of this. The original article has an irreverent style and some strong language, so here’s a cleaned up summarized version of the 5 reasons why you should want a tough boss:

#5. Tough Bosses Don’t Hide Information Due to Insecurity

Many people rise to the top not because they are the smartest or best, but because they are intent on acquiring an unfair advantage. They covet information, and hide details. On the other hand, people who are really smart don’t rely on  controlling information. They’re confident in their abilities, so they are comfortable giving their employees the tools to shine. Smart bosses don’t waste time manufacturing games to make others fail; they spend their hours doing their job well. It might be hard to work for someone possibly smarter than you, but it is better than having to work for someone who maintains power through deceit.

#4. Tough Bosses Don’t Create Fall Guys

Bosses who are hypersensitive about their failings always create distance between their decisions and the project to be accomplished, so that there are more people to blame if something goes wrong. They create fall guys. A truly competent boss got where he or she is by doing the job better than anyone else. That boss won’t want anything substandard under his or her watch. They take the excellent performance of their teams personally. They will want to review projects before they are due, and that will be irritating. You should be grateful for this. If it is wrong, they will tell you in no uncertain terms to get it right, instead of having you fall on your sword to make them look good when it all falls apart.

#3. You Know Where You Stand With Tough Bosses

Many treacherous and incompetent bosses are super nice. Having everyone like them is a trick they used to become the boss in the first place. Nice means nothing. Even when things get really bad, they still act nice! None of the act is true and most people never see the knife in the nice guy’s hand.  Smiles and silence come easier than honesty. Distance grows more from things left unsaid, than things said in anger. Unspoken words and phrases build walls of hurt and insecurity. Those same walls can obscure the wrecking ball that’s coming toward your head. Yelling is not all bad. Raised voices and reprimands don’t have to be the same thing as abuse. It is always better to know exactly where you stand. “Nice” people are just not good at that.

#2. Tough Bosses Can Keep the Company Alive

Sure, a nice boss who doesn’t expect too much sounds great, but how good is he at keeping the company and your job afloat? The skills that rise a half-talent nice guy to power and keep him there are not necessarily the same skills that can keep a business successful. Clients and the public expect real competence and results. Sometimes all the hidden information, charming smiles, slick compliments and tricks cannot compensate for mediocrity. A truly talented boss can help keep the company alive, and keep your bread and butter coming.

#1. Tough Bosses Make You Smarter, So You Can Eventually Become the Boss

Bosses set tones. Even those who aren’t leading still set an example. If you work for a boss who rose to power and maintains it through deceit and guile, you will learn to play your cards close to your chest instinctively. You will learn to be distrustful, but you still won’t be any good at your job. A talented boss will teach you how to actually be good at your job, and not just how to appear successful. Even if you don’t think they care about teaching you, just the exposure to a competent boss will make you a better employee. It will give you a real skill set that you can take with you into the future, and give you the ability to become the boss one day. Your talent and intelligence will then create better employees and better future bosses.

Posted on Leave a comment

Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to wear a cheerful expression at all times, and give a smile to every living creature you meet.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

Posted on Leave a comment

Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to today to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they do the same for you.

Posted on Leave a comment

Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to today to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they do the same for you.

Posted on 1 Comment

Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself to today to think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

Posted on Leave a comment

Promise Yourself…

“Promise yourself today to make all your friends feel like there is something worthwhile in them.” ~Christian D. Larson

Christian D. Larson penned these inspiring words in 1912. They appeared in his book ‘Your Forces and How to Use Them‘ (now in the public domain) and form part of what has become known as the Optimist Creed, adopted by Optimist clubs worldwide. These beautiful words have been inspiring me for years and I hope they touch your life, too.

Posted on 1 Comment

How to Live Without Regrets


Edith Piaf was born into considerable disadvantage in Paris in 1915. Her rough early life continued with her living on the streets of Paris and singing for money, until her powerful voice was discovered while she was still in her teens. Nicknamed ‘The Little Sparrow’ due to her waif-like appearance and 4’8″ stature, she would eventually become one of France’s most-loved popular singers. Her story is told in the motion picture ‘La Vie en Rose’ starring Marion Cotillard. Edith Piaf recorded her famous love song ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ at the age of 45. You can listen to it here.  If it sounds familiar, you might have heard it in the score of the 2010 Christopher Nolan film ‘Inception’.

Here are three ways to be able to like Edith Piaf say “Non, je ne regrette rien. No, I have no regrets”:

1. Choose Love Over Fear

Every day we are faced with new opportunities and decisions. Should I go back to school? Should I take a second job? Should I stay in my current relationship? Should I start building my home? Most decisions will have elements of love and fear. Choosing fear is the option that will most often take us down the path of regret. Choosing love, however, is liberating. When making decisions, be honest with yourself about the things you want and love. Choose love over fear, to be able to pursue your dreams with passion.

2. Take Action Now

Figuring things out can be difficult enough. Acting on a decision can be even more challenging. Forcing yourself to take action on the decision you’ve made will be far more rewarding than doing nothing. Choosing to do nothing will mean choosing not to face your fears. Inertia rides shotgun with fear. The regrets experienced from mistakes made after following your passion are fleeting, while regrets that result from inaction and from missed opportunities can last a lifetime. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Stop being paralyzed by fear and take action now.

3. Move On

“Do not waste one moment in regret, for to think feelingly of the mistakes of the past is to re-infect yourself.” – Neville Goddard. There will always be times when we make mistakes in judgement or act in ways that do not make us proud. We stump our toes, and sometimes, we fall flat on our faces, with what feels like the whole world watching. It is key to then recognize our errors, take responsibility for them and move on. When you do the best you can, and you know your heart was in the right place, then there is no reason to dwell on the mistake. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep following your heart.

 

Posted on 4 Comments

Three Reasons to Wake Up Early

I am a night owl by nature. I love to stay up late. I enjoy nighttime and have my most productive hours between 1am and 3am. In University and even early in my career, I could make miracles by staying up late. I would do last-minute cramming and finish off complex projects by pulling adrenaline-fueled all-nighters. But achieving this apex of productivity comes at a significant cost if you’re trying to hold down a day job. The downside would be the crash, the crankiness and other clear signs of sleep deprivation a few days later.

Although I have had an 8am start for most of my working career, it was not until I switched to a job with a 7:30am clock-in that I started embracing the joys of the 5am wake-up. Yes, 5am. If you’re a student or mother holding down a day job, then you can probably relate. Otherwise, getting out of bed this early  may seem strange to you.

Waking up at 5am made it possible to take my dog for a walk, get in some reading and quiet time and plan for my day. I could avoid the road rage associated with morning rush hour traffic, and get to work without feeling stressed. But it was not easy. In fact, sometimes it is still really hard and I have to constantly reinforce the habit. But more often that not, the stunning beauty and calming stillness of the morning more than makes up for it. I am in control of my day!

Waking up early and beating the sun has many clear benefits. I hope you will embrace it as part of your plan for a healthier, happier year and a more rewarding future. Here are my top three reasons for developing the habit getting up one to two hours earlier every day

1. Have more energy

Waking up early generally means getting to bed earlier. You will have to sacrifice falling asleep watching late night TV and you will probably have to say no to that last glass of wine, but you will reap the benefits of a clearer head when the alarm goes off. You will find that you have clarity throughout the day without the need for multiple cups of coffee.

2. Create time out of nowhere

When you beat the sun, you will create time out of nowhere. One or two hours per day translates into ten extra hours per week of uninterrupted time to get things done. You will be able to work on long-lost projects or brainstorm business ideas. You can work on a hobby or just get household chores done, get to the gym, have a proper breakfast, or a myriad of other things you previously didn’t have time for. Your productivity at work will increase, because you didn’t rush to get there. It is also likely that you will be able to leave work earlier and make more time for family, friends and creative pursuits.

3. Greet the day

Mornings are beautiful and still, cool, fresh and quiet. When you wake up before the rest of the world you greet the day with confidence. Watching the darkness disappear with the warm rays of the rising sun will give you a sense of deep calm and purpose. It is the perfect time for goal-setting, prayer or meditation — setting the tone for a powerful day. You will have more focus and better ideas because you will have time to map things out your way. Your coworkers and family will also find you more peaceful, calm and friendly.

 

There’s a high correlation between early rising and success, so get started by setting your alarm just a bit earlier tomorrow morning.