Who’s Got Your Back

Just spent 3 days in a cave. Okay, not really a cave, but in my Sacred Circle Mastermind. Fourteen business owners meet with our coach and mentor Fabienne Fredrickson three times a year. When we’re all together, there’s not a lot of contact with the outside world. The easy explanation for what we do there is that it’s three days working on strategic aspects of our businesses. It’s actually much more. We are a group of entrepreneurs that is playing really big, taking action and stepping up our game.

It’s called the Sacred Circle because what happens in this space, among these people is magical. We’ve created deep and trusting relationships with each other in a way that isn’t at all that common in the “real world.” Inside our circle, we can be vulnerable and open. We talk about where we’re stuck, or what’s scaring the crap out of us. We see in each other the huge potential that we don’t see in ourselves. We call each other out on the stuff that’s holding us back and getting in the way of our success. What’s shared in these meetings stays within the Circle.

One thing I can share with you from this meeting is that Keith Ferrazzi’s new book, “Who’s Got Your Back” came up in discussion because it’s about relationships just like what we’ve created in our Sacred Circle. Keith says “the real path to success in your career and in your personal life is through creating an inner circle of “lifeline relationships” – deep, close relationships with a few key trusted individuals who will offer the encouragement, feedback, and generous mutual support that every one of us needs to reach our full potential.”

So I leave Stamford, Connecticut this weekend tired and energized at the same time; grateful that I have this trusted family; knowing that just like anyone else who’s ever achieved greatness, I’ve got an amazing team on this journey with me.

What Need Do You Fill?

The sole reason a business exists is because it meets a human need. ~Harvey Firestone

I saw this quote over the weekend and it got me to thinking, again, about what human need a box of cookies fulfills. Yes, we’ve been over this before. That Gratitude Cookies are not so much about the cookie part and much more about the concept of gratitude.

Is feeling gratitude an actual need? It’s not specifically on Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but friendship, giving and receiving love, and recognition are on his chart. Feeling connected to others is certainly a human need. And expressing appreciation is one important way to connect.

Keith Ferrazzi was on Good Morning America today, promoting his new book “Who’s Got Your Back” and his 16-city road show. He said that 75% of Americans don’t feel that someone’s got their back; not even married couples. Wow, that’s a lot of disconnected people. Furthermore, he says that the most important thing you can do to succeed is to build deep and trusting relationships.

So then, if you could create stronger connections in your personal or profession life and satisfy that need in yourself and for others, why wouldn’t you? You have a great opportunity here! No matter what other human need your business exists to fulfill, you can improve your business by addressing this one of connection and recognition through gratitude.

Quick Change in Perspective

I just left Starbucks, where I was to meet with a new business contact. In South Florida, there seems to always be a traffic delay somewhere, so I usually give people 10 minutes before I call to find out where they are. Coming up on the 9-1/2 minute mark, my phone rang. It was the person I was to meet and she asked if I was there. I knew right away she was going to say she wasn’t coming; I was mentally preparing for some kind of lame excuse, since that’s what usually comes next.

I was not prepared for her to say her dad died on Sunday and she’s in Chicago. Immediately my perspective changed from “doesn’t this person respect my time” to “holy cow, don’t even worry about not meeting with me you have so many more important things to do”! I’m surprised and grateful she even thought to call me – she said she doesn’t know why our meeting just popped into her head right then.

One of my mentors told me a story years ago, about some rowdy kids on the subway early one morning. The man riding with them was doing nothing to control their behavior and a fellow rider was becoming increasingly annoyed. After a while, the fellow rider finally caught the man’s attention. The man quickly apologized for his children’s activity and explained that they’d all spent the night at the hospital where their mother had just died. The kids were full of anxious, fidgety energy.

Talk about a turnaround in perspective.

It only takes an instant to change your perspective. So whether it’s from annoyance to compassion or from frustration to gratitude, see if you can find what serves your higher good in every situation.

Can’t believe I’m writing this

I had a strategy call with my coach and mentor this morning. Fabienne always speaks her truth, what she’s seeing or feeling, and sometimes it’s hard to hear. She always asks permission before sharing, and really, who wouldn’t want to hear what could be a great revelation? Still, even when you know it’s for your own good, it can sting. So what she called me out for is not living in gratitude.

Deep breath here.

My business is all about gratitude, saying thank you, showing appreciation in your business and personal life. The Gratitude Cookie™. Hello?!

But I’m not personally living in gratitude. I have my moments for sure. And then there’s the rest of the time. The time I spend wondering where the money is. Where are more clients? Why do I not have a multi-million dollar business yet?

Rachael Ray featured Zen Crunch as Snack of the Day on her talk show last month. Everyone who knows about that thinks it’s an incredible achievement! My gratitude for that lasted about five minutes before I was looking for the next opportunity.

Nothing has been enough and I always need more.

So I haven’t been living authentically. That’s why everything has been so hard. Are you laughing at me, or does this resonate with you too?

Fabienne and I talked about how I can change that – continuing my meditations and working out at the gym, and journaling more consistently. There are some other changes I’m making too, that I’ll share in time.

Right now, I’m committing to live in gratitude for everything, even when it feels foreign. Care to join me in the adventure?

Grateful for Twitter Connections

Last week I had a great phone conversation with Deanna Collins, creator of The Gratitude Collection. We found each other on Twitter and thought that with The Gratitude Cookie™ and The Gratitude Collection, we must connect.

Deanna’s Gratitude Collection is a collection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings that were created to “help the wearers make a conscious effort to recognize the gifts in their lives.”

She told me that she made the very first Gratitude Bracelet, the one that has now become the essential element of the Signature Collection, for a friend as a gift to comfort her through a difficult time. (see that whole story here.)

Word got around and more and more people began asking her to make the bracelets for them. Next thing you know, she had a business and expanded the jewelry line into necklaces and earrings as well.

Today the solitary bead in her Signature Collection is an authentic hand-sculpted bead from the Mount Kenya region of Africa, hand-crafted by local Kenyan women. Very cool.

Also on the Gratitude Collections web site are some wonderful quotes on gratitude. Check them out here.

With our common connections and philosophies, Deanna and I are discussing how to combine our efforts to share the important message of Gratitude. I’ll keep you posted on the new developments. Or follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/ZenRabbit and twitter.com/GratitudeCircle) to get the continuing updates.

Seasonal Gratitude

Before we close out 2008, I had to write one end of the year post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for the past several weeks.

Throughout November and December, I’ve been receiving emails and reading articles all over the place about the importance of gratitude during this holiday season. I’m sure you’ve seen them too. Gratitude and appreciation are the “in” things this time of year.

However, gratitude and appreciation are really important throughout the year too. Research shows being grateful everyday improves health, keeps you happier and strengthens relationships.

I encourage you to resolve that in 2009, you’ll acknowledge and express more gratitude, even for small things. Connect more regularly with the people you value – in your business and personal life – and let them know what they mean to you.

Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and fun new year!

Love and Gratitude

Here’s a great idea that was presented to me this morning via World Gratitude Gathering, a project of Go Gratitude.

Write ‘Love and Gratitude’, with a permanent marker on your favorite cup, mug, or glass. Each time you fill it, feel your energy flowing through, re-arranging the waters to serve your highest good. You may also choose to do this with your hot water heater, coffee pots, water jugs, your car battery(!) … any container!

Jack Canfield’s Thoughts on Appreciation

Okay, okay! I’m back from my long summer vacation of posting! Yikes!

Yesterday I read the latest issue “Success Strategies” from Jack Canfield (America’s #1 Success Coach, founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success). He started the issue with a quote from Mother Teresa, which I also had just found a few weeks before. “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”  Wow, how powerful and true.

The main article is entitled Practice Uncommon Appreciation. It is so appropriate to what Zen Rabbit and The Gratitude Cookie are doing, I have to share some of it with you. 

“An important reason for being in a state of appreciation as often as possible is that when you are in such a state, you are in one of the highest emotional states possible.

When you are in a state of appreciation and gratitude, you are in a state of abundance. You are appreciating what you do instead of focusing on, and complaining about, what you don’t have. Your focus is on what you have received… and you always get more of what you focus on. And because the law of attraction states that like attracts like, the more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract to be grateful for. It becomes an upward-spiraling process of ever-increasing abundance that just keeps getting better and better.

Think about it. The more grateful people are for the gifts we give them, the more inclined we are to give them more gifts. Their gratitude and appreciation reinforces our giving. The same principle holds true on a universal and spiritual level as it does on an interpersonal level.”

In appreciation of his writing, I sent him an email and shared some info about The Gratitude Cookie with him. Surprisingly, he wrote back and asked me to provide him with more details. Stay tuned for where this might go.

PS: If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com. I was required to put this in order to use the excerpt from his ezine.

One Grateful Thought Per Cookie

Zen Rabbit cookies have been known as “Gratitude Cookies” for some time now. They’ve been called that because the people giving the cookies are expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the people they’re giving the cookies to. But this week the term “Gratitude Cookies” takes on another dimension. Starting today, each box of Zen Rabbit cookies contains a card inviting the person eating the cookies to take a moment to be grateful for one thing in life. No need to make a whole overwhelming list, just think of ONE thing for which to be grateful per cookie. Could be your pet, your family, a blue sky, the ability to read, anything.

By thinking of the few or many things in life you can be grateful for, maybe, just maybe, we can counteract the massive negativity that often seems to surround us from all angles. For one moment in time, as you eat a Zen Rabbit cookie, I encourage you to think of and thank for what you DO have.