Mom, I Want to be a NASA Astronaut

By Susan Ford Collins

I was speaking about the power of children's dreams, and the even more awesome power adults have to make or break them, when a woman in the audience raised her hand. "Susan, I've got the perfect story for you to share."

"When our daughter turned five, she told us that she was going to be a NASA astronaut when she grew up. She would sit mesmerized in front of our TV during every space shot. And while her father and I were sipping our soup at dinner one night, we realized simultaneously that she actually saw herself as a member of the crew.

Suddenly we moved beyond the glaze of day-to-day living long enough to realize that we were at a crucial decision-point: Was this a passing fancy or her mission? We could continue silently pooh-poohing her dream as something a boy could do but not a girl—a feeling we both knew was definitely there inside us. Or, we could line up with her.

We decided to line up with her. So when she asked us what she needed to do to become an astronaut, we took her seriously and found out. When she needed help completing elaborate science projects, we made time to support her. When she wanted to go to science camps instead the camps her girl friends attended, we remembered her dream and continued to nurture it."

"And you'll be happy to know that our daughter is a NASA astronaut. She was aboard the last shot. And as the roar of the rockets blurred our words that morning at Cape Kennedy, my husband and I shouted agreement that we had made the right choice."

Our children's dreams are the seeds of the future, precious future solutions to the problems we face today and tomorrow. As we build our children's self-confidence, the second most important thing we can do is to nurture their dreams—agreeing with their possibilities, arguing for their success... not their failure, and appreciating their greatness in advance.

(c) Susan Ford Collins, 2016. All rights reserved.

* For more on Success Skills 3 and 4, Dreaming and Co-dreaming, read The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

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I Was Awakened Underwater... by Golden Light

By Susan Ford Collins

I received a text message that severe thunderstorms were moving into our area. A moment later the sky opened and we seemed to be in the midst of a hurricane punctuated by flashes and crashes. My dog Honey was shaking. An hour later the storm had passed but the power was still off so I decided to walk Honey before it got dark. A quick jaunt around the block and we headed into my side gate and across the stepping stones in my banana jungle just as we had hundreds of times before. But this time was different.

Midway across the water, my right foot suddenly slid out from under me. There must have been algae on the rain-covered surface. The next thing I remember was the thunderous sound of the back of my head cracking hard against the edge of the round concrete stepping stone.

I wasn’t aware that I had fallen in the water until my eyes opened and I saw a bright circle of golden light with glistening air bubbles rising from my mouth to the surface. I realized in a flash I would drown unless I could raise my head and take a breath... now! 

Knowing how hard my head hit and the sound it made, I was unsure whether my arms and legs were still working. But with one life-intending push I lifted my head out of the water and breathed! The banana pond is 5 feet deep and the bottom and sides are sharp coral rock. How would I get out before I lost consciousness? I realized my shoe had fallen off so I rummaged around until I found it and began grappling my way out of the dark water. Once standing, I remembered I had my cell phone in a pouch around my waist. It was wet too so I couldn’t call for help… besides my husband was away on business and completely unaware of my predicament. When I got in the house, I lit a couple of candles to see how badly I was injured and figure out what to do next.

I pulled off my wet clothes and touched my hand to the back of my head and was shocked to see it come back covered with blood. And that I had “an extra kneecap” on my right shin… or so it seemed because of the rapid swelling in that area. Was I neurologically OK? I tried talking and I could. I tried moving my arms and legs up and down and they worked. I seemed to be mentally alert and functional but I was so used to speed-dialing people that I couldn’t remember their phone numbers, and it didn’t really matter because, with no power and an internet phone, I had no dial tone. Now what? 

I was focused on one thing… getting to my friend’s home 10 miles away. Barbara is a doctor and I knew she would know exactly what steps I should take. She had been my medical savior in the past so I was eager to get her input this time as well. I found Honey’s leash and made sure I had my wallet and medical cards, then climbed in my car and carefully headed south to where she lives. They had a new gate installed that afternoon so her first thought was, oh good, Susan’s here to see the gate. Then her teenage son met me at the door and noticed blood streaming down my neck. “Are you okay?” And I said, “No. I’m not, and I began to explain why I hadn’t called from home so they could come get me (the power was off), why I hadn’t called from my cell phone either (it went in the water with me). Then someone handed me an ice pack and a blanket and Barbara came up with a plan. She would drive me to the Urgent Care Center where she sometimes worked. I felt bad about sending her back to work after ten straight exhausting days, but this was a crisis and she assured me she wouldn’t sleep a wink if we didn’t get my injuries assessed.

When we arrived at Urgent Care, I felt safer. After filling out forms and handing over my insurance cards, we were guided back to an examining room and Barbara checked to see who the radiologist on duty was. A friend she deeply trusted so we both relaxed as the nurse took my blood pressure which is typically athletically low but had shot up to 202. The doctor came in and parted my still-wet hair so she could see where I was cut and whether I would need stitches. Yes, but first a CAT Scan of my head and a plain film of my suspected broken right leg. I kept saying, “No, I can walk fine.” But, by the looks of “that extra knee cap,” the evidence seemed to indicate otherwise. When Barbara’s colleague read the X-rays, and she glanced at them too, my right leg was whole and there was no bleed in my skull. Whew!

All that remained was cleaning the wound and stapling it closed. (Barbara said they look just like office staples. And they do.) The bleeding stopped and they gave me a tube of antibiotic cream and told me I could take a quick shower when I got home… one of the advantages of stapling she added.

On the ride back to Barbara’s, she told me how much better she felt now that the worst possibilities had been ruled out. I was blessed! I would spend the night at her home. Her younger son stayed at a friend’s house so I could sleep in his bed. I was exhausted and sleep sounded wonderful, but when I tried to lay my head on the pillow, a sudden new reality set in. The very place where my skull touched was the very place where the staples were, and turning my head to either side didn’t work any better. I had wrenched my neck too. It ached and pulsed. I drifted off for a couple of minutes but suddenly woke up in terror again.

I had left two candles burning in my house! I had to drive home and check! So I woke Barbara and told her I needed help turning off their alarm and finding my keys. I gathered up Honey and headed home with a clear agreement… I would call her as soon as I arrived home.

But when I got there, the power was still off even though I had been told it would be on by 9 pm. I tried plugging in my wired phone… a painful process involving moving the bed, bending down and plugging the phone connection in tightly so the circular cover would snap closed… but there was no dial tone. I kept praying for the sound of the AC going on, or the sudden burst of light from a lamp I may have left on when the power went off. But nothing.

At daylight I walked Honey, hoping to see a neighbor so I could use his or her phone but no one was up and no lights were on. When I started a second loop, a friend came out of his house to pick up the paper and I waved and shouted, “I need help.” I used his cell phone to call Barbara, but she had finally fallen asleep and didn’t answer. At least I had done everything I could to keep my agreement. An hour later the power came on and the air conditioner and those lights I had left on. And I could finally call to explain what had happened, that I was safe and OK. The candles had burned out on their own, leaving a long wine-colored trail of wax on the table as evidence.

Now I could look back and rethink what had happened. I walked over to the stepping stones to figure out how I had fallen back-first into the water. And one life-saving memory kept blazing in my mind… that bright golden light-filled image of glistening bubbles coming up from my mouth as I lay in shock in the water. The golden image that alerted me to lift my head and take a breath… now! I wondered where that golden light had come from. When I fell it was dusk and overcast and the banana pond was under a huge leafy sapodilla tree. Why wasn’t it dark when I looked up? With a chill I knew the answer… that golden light was Spirit coming to my rescue, empowering me to take action to save my life. Reminding me that I still had work to do. It wasn’t my time to leave!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Committing to Outcome, go to Success Skill 7 in The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Becoming a Grandparent... a Hard to Believe Moment!

By Susan Ford Collins

Exhausted from a 14 hour day, I had been asleep for 15 minutes when a call from my daughter Cathy suddenly woke me up, "Mom, I think my water just broke."

Those words took me back to 31 years before. I had been baking cookies with one eye on late news, when a sudden gush of warm water rearranged our evening’s plans. Grabbing pre-packed bags, my husband and I immediately headed for the hospital and, in less than two hours, I was holding Cathy in my arms.

With that memory prodding me, I packed quickly and drove an hour and a half north to West Palm Beach, praying I would arrive there before the baby did, and rehearsing what I'd say if I was stopped by a state trooper.

But what happened to me didn't happen to Cathy. After two hours, anesthesiologist Dad-to-be Alan and I were still tossing and turning on lumpy cots in her room. At sunrise we took pictures of her sitting up in bed, ready and beautiful. But she wasn't in labor. The birth was 34 days early, so the doctors ran tests to determine her baby's maturity. Twelve hours later, the results were all positive. They would induce labor the next morning at six.

After 20 minutes on Pitocin, a printout of high spikes and low valleys confirmed that Cathy was in labor. Alan stood to her left, breathing through the pains with her. Her sister Margaret and I took turns on the right.

The pain increased and she needed anesthesia, but the anesthesia failed to work for this anesthesiologist’s wife… despite three painful attempts at correctly inserting the needle in her spine. My doctor-daughter Margaret and I winced as we watched her husband stand helplessly by observing a procedure, he had done successfully 200 times, go wrong on his wife. Having instantaneously assessed that jumping over the bed and jerking the needle out of that doctor's hand was illegal and inappropriate, he remained as calm as those circumstances allowed.

Cathy rose to the occasion. Focusing on her breathing, she managed herself masterfully for 12 grueling hours with only a minute between pains. As the baby’s head crowned, the obstetrician shouted, "Keep your eyes open!” On the next push, he helped Cathy reach down and deliver her own baby. At 5:47 p.m. Dylan's cone-shaped head and slippery supple body finally emerged, and Cathy pulled him up to her chest lovingly, gasping and sobbing as she glimpsed their new son for the first time. We all stood awed by the miracle of birth.

His waxy face looked exactly like Cathy's had when she was born—the same tiny nose, the same peachy complexion. But this baby was my daughter's, not mine. Our babies looked alike, but our deliveries were quite different. I had been taken off to labor alone, comforted only by a call button and overwhelming anesthesia. My husband paced the halls while my mother, recovering from electroshock therapy, sat limply by in the waiting room, knowing I was her daughter but not remembering my name.

As Cathy began to nurse her new baby, I reflected on the profound changes that had occurred in the generation between these births, changes in my life and my society. Today I can ask for what I want, and, even when I'm told No, I still hold my outcome. And I've long since learned how to avoid individuals who try to manipulate and control me—attempting to get their way by blocking mine.

But I hadn't known how to ask for what I wanted when I was Cathy's age, and even if I had, the hospital staff would have told me no. What I wanted didn't matter to them, bound by procedures, right ways and wrong ways, have tos and musts. So I simply did what I was told.

This birth was different. First and foremost, Cathy and Alan focused on their baby's safety and health. Second, they expected their staff to perform effectively and efficiently. Third, and most satisfying, Cathy and Alan had made choices. Dylan's birth was their creation. They had been preparing for months—visiting local hospitals to discover the one they wanted, interviewing obstetricians, pediatricians and delivery nurses to ensure their personalities would be compatible. Cathy had chosen a room with a sunrise view of the water.

It had never occurred to me to look at rooms when I delivered, to find which ones I liked and I didn't. So when Cathy asked me to walk through the halls to check out rooms with her, I was constrained by a certain residual compliance. I had taught her to make choices and she was comfortable doing it—even more comfortable than I was at times.

Cathy and Alan chose to leave the phone turned on during labor so friends could check on her progress. Nurses came as needed, doctors did too. There was no secrecy, no separation or aloneness. Anyone could hold her hand. Anyone could brush her hair, not just genetic family but family of heart. The entire birthing process took place in her room. Alan and I slept there the whole time. Dylan stayed there too, his tiny rolling glass-sided bed always within eyeshot. We bonded as a family in those precious first days.

I had reached a new level—The Grandparent Level. My leadership responsibilities had expanded again.

The Grandparent Level

My children are now asking me how to raise their child—how and when to feed him, when and how to bathe and pick him up. I am no longer just parenting, I am teaching them to parent.

Cathy and Alan are temporarily dependent on me, not knowing how to handle their screaming child in the night. Not knowing what to do when a fever spikes suddenly, or a rash erupts painfully. Their phone calls have increased. Their visits have increased. And my perceived value has increased as well. Oh how I wish I’d known about this stage when we were going through the rebellious and unappreciative teenage years. The years when I was viewed as "stupid and out of touch.” The years when my only value seemed to be paying their way.

Soon we will be teaching Dylan how to deal with new experiences—which ones are safe for him and which ones are dangerous, which things he can reach for and which ones he should draw back from. What’s possible and impossible for him, temporarily. We are installing his “basic life program.” And we’ll be responsible for updating it as he grows.

By the second week, I began noticing Cathy's resistance to my input. Her self-confidence was building and she was beginning to feel competent again. I was already backing off, remaining nearby in case she needed me. Even when there was nothing she needed, I was busy holding the vision of Cathy and Alan as successful parents and looking forward to Dylan's creations and inventions, to what he will teach us, to what he’ll contribute.

For the 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent, go to the Resources page or The 10 Responsibilities of a Leader... a Parent or Grandparent.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

 $14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins


But I’m Not Exactly Sure How

By Susan Ford Collins

An unexpected phone call stopped me in my tracks. The sound of my friend John’s voice immediately told me he was upset. What’s wrong? I asked. “My life is in chaos and I am calling to ask if I can stay with you till I get reoriented.” And of course, I said yes.

Once John settled in, he started going on morning walks with me so we could have some quiet time to talk. Around seven each morning, we hitched up my dogs, Mica and Mango, and headed out the gate. Within a few steps John started asking questions… not ordinary questions but big profound ones like… “I’m trying to figure out how to keep moving ahead in my life, but I’m not exactly sure what to do next.”

And I replied… first of all, let’s look at the word exactly in more detail. Because you are never going to know exactly in advance, any more than a farmer sowing a field of wheat knows exactly which grains will land on rock and which will fall upon rich soil, germinate and thrive. But if that farmer throws enough seeds, he knows some will prosper.

Exactly is about scarcity... I only have one seed and I have to make sure I put it in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. Well, that sounds plausible and prudent, but it simply isn’t ever possible to know exactly... in advance. When I talk to people who have been successful at realizing dreams, at leading successful families or building large companies, they laugh and chuckle when I ask them if they knew how to get there in advance.

The idea that life is laid out in a straight line is a limit because life isn’t straight. It’s more like a maze. So every once in a while, it’s valuable to relook at your relationships and career so you can have a good laugh over how little you had to do with how it all happened. How divinely it occurred.

It’s not as much about making opportunities as seizing them

Let’s take you, for example. How exactly did you come to manage 110 people at Quotron? Was it a straight-line or were there all kinds of bends and twists and turns in the river, backwashes and crazinesses that got you to that point?

As we stopped and started with the dogs, John told me his life story in fits and starts, darting ahead and then circling back again, trying to piece it all together. Then, neatly ordered and assembled, I played it back to him.

So, John, when you grew up you attended a technical high school in your neighborhood. Your grades were OK, but, according to you, not great. Then you went to a community college where you signed up for electricity and electronics with computer science as a minor. But the computer screwed up and majored you in your minor. So the truth is a computer chose your major for you, and you did quite well, much better in fact than you had in high school!

When you graduated from college, you couldn’t exactly have known that The Burroughs Corporation would be on strike and, in an extremely tight job market, the only job you could find would be replacing striking workers. So, even though you didn’t like being a scab, you took the job and spent the next two years getting some experience under your belt and onto your resume. Then, because you were injured in a car accident and couldn’t drive to meet clients for several weeks, Burroughs sent you to attend a conference on technical writing and taught you a new operating system.

Next a headhunter called just when you were sick-and-tired of getting high praise but not getting rewarded for being the “Dirty Harry, always working long hours, pulling rabbits out of hats, keeping impossible customers happy” kind of guy that you were. So you worked for Digital for two years, handling the most difficult accounts in your branch, and started to notice that besides technical skills, you also had people skills and so you kept moving up. But what finally got your goat was you trained someone so well that she made supervisor before you did. And, outraged at the unfairness, you quit. When they asked where you were going, you told them, “I don‘t know. I just won’t work here anymore.”

Next you called a couple of headhunters, one of which found you a job at GE... with the big raise you’d been looking for… plus a company car. Yes, you loved the money, but you hated the work, which quickly taught you another life-changing lesson. “Money’s nice but I also want to enjoy my job.” Six months later that same headhunter called again and set up an interview with Quotron... the right job plus another 50% raise. Soon a manager was promoted but the assistant managers who worked for him weren’t qualified to fill his shoes. So they made you assistant manager and, within two months, you were manager of the biggest, most-high-profile department at Quotron. And, interestingly enough, the clinching factor in that promotion came way back when you were at Burroughs, when you had a car accident and attended a course in technical writing and learned a new operating system. These were the very skills that landed you this job.

John, my purpose here is to shoot the word exactly in the head and prove to you, here and now, how absurd needing to know exactly in advance really is. Absurd? Yes, absurd. Complete idiocy!

So here’s the secret: Throw in enough seeds to assure a prosperous crop. Keep taking action and using accumulating feedback and knowledge. And, right from the start, know that you will never know exactly where you’re going, or exactly how you’ll get that. And realize the best parts of life are those computer glitches that guide you, those strategically-timed strikes that provide unanticipated jobs, those phone calls that come out of the blue, those people you bump into just when you need them, those courses you take because of an accident, those managers who get promoted at exactly the right time—all the puzzle pieces you weren’t looking for when they were lowered into your lap unexpectedly.

The intention to get to a specific destination is a huge prayer. God, I can see this, hear this, feel this, I can even taste and smell it, but I don’t know how to get there. Please help me find the way.

Yes, its’ true. If you pin down the destination, God will provide the transportation. So, here’s the bottom line... you will never know exactly how to get to your dream... in advance. You just have to keep praying and dreaming and taking appropriate action. You just have to keep responding and trusting and believing. You just have to keep accepting divine guidance.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

When Your Success File is Full, You Feel Success-Full

By Susan Ford Collins

While I was shadowing highly successful people (HSPs) for more than 20 years, I discovered they were using 10 Success Skills consistently. The first and most important is Success Filing.

HSPs made time each day to acknowledge themselves for what they were accomplishing, time to build their Self-Confidence (their faith in themselves, in their ability to change their lives and world) so they didn’t have to rely on others to praise or agree with them… so they didn't need Other-Confidence.

Most HSPs Success Filed once a day. Others filed more often. Some wrote their successes on paper. Others  created a Success File on their computer or cell phone. Some simply wrote them in memory. HSPs told me they had been Success Filing for years and they were surprised to realize other people didn't do it!

Success Filing is the key to building Self-Confidence, the confidence you need to lead yourself and others through the periods of doubt, confusion and disagreement that are a inevitable part of creating anything new, anything disagreed with, anything impossible. (Keep in mind, impossible probably just means it hasn't been done before, by you or anyone else… like electricity, cell phones or amazon.com! Jeff Bezos left his job, sold everything he owned and moved his family across the country to start amazon.com. Some people thought he was crazy. Yeah, crazy like a foxy creator!)

Success Filing will give you the Self-Confidence you need to start dreaming again, not stingy, little, "been there and done that" dreams, but big, juicy, exciting dreams like those you had as a child, dreams that wake you up in the night excited, and propel you out of bed eager for your day.

How, and when, to Success File

Pick a time of day that works for you—in a car or train, at dinnertime or bedtime. When and where you Success File is up to you. Who you Success File with is up to you too. (Make sure that person is a Codreamer!) What’s important is regularity. Build the habit. Do it every day!

Rewind your "inner recording" to when you woke up, when you started thinking and doing, and ask yourself this question: What successes did I have today?

But wait! To Success File skillfully… to get the greatest benefit… you need to be clear about what success is, and it isn’t. And never will. (* When I coach people one to one, I start each session by Success Filing to accelerate the growth of this essential habit. And to clarify how to apply it in their lives, and their children's lives.)

Some people mistakenly Failure File at the end of the day, thinking about what they didn't do, couldn't do, what they don't want to happen. Affirming that things never turn out for them. But they can.

What is success… really? How are you defining it?

One of my most cherished memories is of Marjorie, an elegant, slightly built, sixty-something woman who attended one of my early seminars. She had been sitting quietly listening to a hundred or so people sharing their successes when she abruptly raised her hand and stood up. With tears streaming down her face, she blurted out, "You've all had lots of successes, but I've never had any. I was never an A student, I’ve never had a job, I’ve never made money or won prizes or earned bonuses or plaques." Then she sobbed openly.

As I asked questions to discover more about Marjorie's life, she told us she had raised six highly successful children... teachers, lawyers, writers, even an inventor. And her children were raising successful families as well. Marjorie happily listed her children and grandchildren’s prizes and achievements, but she didn't see how their accomplishments had any relevance to her. All her life she had felt like a failure. In fact, that was the reason she was attending my seminar: Her HSP kids had sent her!

During breaks I watched to see how Marjorie was doing and saw her in the hall with people all around her talking and sharing. They were relating to Marjorie’s story, to her lifelong struggle to feel confident and successful. The next day was the same and the next. Finally on the last day of the seminar Marjorie raised her hand again. This time she stood up proudly and spoke, "I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. I came here a failure. But I leave here a success. My new thinking about success has changed my life forever!"

Here’s what Marjorie learned in my seminar.

Success has three essential parts…
1- Success is Completion

Success is being able to complete what you have in mind. Getting up early. Lacing your sneakers and running your route. Emptying the trash. Eating a healthy breakfast. Calling your child's spelling words. Getting gas in your car. Returning phone calls. Completing items on your to do list. Following through with salad for lunch instead of your usual pasta. Speaking out about a concern you have with a project or timeframe. Stopping to pick up groceries and dry cleaning on the way home. Reading your child the story you promised. Sharing your day with your mate.

Without daily successes, your life falls apart. Your body gets out of shape. You run out of gas and arrive late for your meeting. Your clients abandon you and find others who can serve them more skillfully. Your boss constantly points out your lack of follow through. There's no food in the refrigerator. Your trash is piling up. There's no clean underwear in the drawer. Your electricity is turned off. Your car isn't running right. Your child is upset and insecure, hostile and acting out.

Without daily successes your Self-Confidence falls apart too, because completions like these are what the life experience is all about. Long term goals are realized in tiny daily steps. Long term relationships are enjoyed in daily conversations. Long term careers are the result of day to day completions. Long term dreams come true because you take steps each day with those dreams clearly in mind.

Marjorie, you are indeed successful... Highly Successful in fact! Lifelong parenting, like yours, requires years and years of daily completions… whether you feel like doing them or not! Remember all those sleepless nights you spent taking care of sick kids, and all those times you had to help your teens do projects and assignments they'd left till the last minute?

2- Success is also Deletion

But defining success as only completion sets us up to be "productive robots" always needing to do more and have more. Higher scores, higher profits, more exciting sex and adventures. Faster cars, planes, bodies, lives. Bigger TVs or far smaller ones. Higher mountains to climb, deeper space to explore. Always desiring and aiming at but never there. Never satisfied. Never feeling Success-Full and whole.

Any skillful gardener will tell you that a healthy tree needs regular pruning. That's true of success too. Success is also cutting out, down or back. Like completions, deletions release energy—energy you’ve had tied up and unavailable for years—so you can begin using it to create the experiences you want. So you can enjoy a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.

Deletion Successes include: Being able to eliminate old habits, outgrown ways of thinking and reacting that no longer work for you. Letting go of an outgrown relationship you’ve tried everything to improve. Or a well-paying job you’ve done too many times to enjoy. Success is quitting smoking, drugs, sugar, wheat, caffeine or whatever else you choose. Or it's rethinking your society-rewarded addiction to long hours, money and power.

Remember this: Each time you acknowledge that you complete or delete a creation cycle ( I want to... I do... I experience) a new quantum of energy is released for your use now.  

3- Success is Creation… and ultimately creating your own life

The most joyous part of success is also the most challenging. To stop looking back, to what others did and didn’t do and start looking ahead to creating what you want moment-to-moment. What do I want to eat today for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? What kind of exercise would work best for my body? Do I want to go to that noon meeting or have lunch with my friend? Do I want to stop to handle this phone call now or respond to a message later? Do I have the time and energy to take on a new project, or do I want to tell its creator, No I can't do it now? Do I want to go out to dinner with friends or stay home to rebalance? To plan and dream my life?

The new parent, new manager dilemma

New mothers (and fathers) face a success crisis at the birth of their child. Suddenly, instead of enjoying the successes they’re used to... getting up and exercising, taking a shower, heading to work, staying late if they need to, going out in the evening—they are at a loss for success as they’ve known it. Sleep deprived, shower deprived, independence deprived, or home on maternity leave, they are hard pressed to Success File. After a few weeks, they feel down not just because of hormonal changes but because of success changes as well.

As parents we need to realize that what we can include in our Success Files has multiplied. Not only can we file all the new successes we are having as parents—preparing food, changing diapers, giving baths, smiling and cooing back, making our baby feel safe and acknowledged, making our child’s needs a higher priority than our own. But we can also file all the successes our child is having—the first time she grips our hand with those tiny, perfectly formed fingers; the first time he looks us straight in the eye and smiles knowingly; the first time she sits up or crawls or walks or rides a bike or sings or reads, or does any of these activities a little better; the first time he sleeps without a pacifier, rides without training wheels, or crosses a street without holding your hand.

Yes, as parents, our children’s successes are our successes too. But ultimately, our greatest successes will be supporting our children as they differentiate between our ideas about success, their society’s ideas, and their own. Our greatest successes will be living and modeling the skills they will need to lead their own lives.

Top producers experience a similar success crisis when they step up into management. Suddenly the criterion for their success changes from what they are able to do all by themselves… to what everyone they are managing is able to do. Suddenly there is the opportunity to jump from satisfaction, which comes as a result of our own efforts, to fulfillment, “to realize all one's potentialities as a person” (New Webster’s Dictionary) which comes as the result of our leadership.

We humans are like seeds that produce plants that produce seeds that produce hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of plants and seeds more. Make sure you file not just your successes but the successes of all those you lead at home, at school, at work, in your community and world. ... including those that may appear to threaten your current view of the world. The very ideas that could transform your life, our children's lives and their children's lives...!

How successful do you feel? That depends on two essential things: How you define success and how willing you are to make time to Success File. Success is not just aimed at or desired. Success is feeling satisfied and fulfilled by what you choose to do, and be, on a daily basis.

Marjorie, my dear, creating a successful family requires millions and even billions of daily completions, deletions and creations. So now that you know, you can feel as Highly Success-Full as your kids do!

Remember:

When your Success File is low, you feel dependent and needy.
When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full and confident...
ready and able to lead your life, your way.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 1st Success Skill, read The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

The Inevitable Question... Where's Dad?

By Susan Ford Collins

I learned something life-changing as my mother lay dying in the hospital.

Her doctors told my two sisters and me that she was brain dead. There was nothing more they could do. There was no hope for recovery. All the specialists agreed. All the X-rays concurred. All their explanations aligned. We all cried and grieved.

A week later they told us they were going to move Mom to a minimal-care ward where they expected her to die in a few days. But as they were wheeling her down to that floor, they bumped her gurney hard against the elevator door and my mother sat up and asked, “What time is it?”

We were all amazed. Mom was back, a bit disoriented and asking catch-up questions like, Where am I? What happened? Will I be OK? Nonetheless she was back, and she was Mom.

All the doctors were red-faced. They couldn’t explain what had happened, or why. They kept relooking at their X-rays and rereading their reports but, given the reality sitting right there in front of us, their lack of explanation didn’t really matter.

Now her miraculous recovery presented another potentially life-threatening problem. When would Mom ask us the inevitable question, “Where’s Dad?”

Throughout the hospital we were referred to as “the poor girls who had both parents in comas.” Everyone knew what our mother didn’t yet remember… that our father had a stroke precisely twenty-four hours before she did. He had been sitting in the same chair. He had been taken to the same hospital, in the same ambulance. And now, two floors above her, he lay in a deep coma not expected to live either.

Dad was on life support. A noisy machine was breathing for him and plastic tubes were entering and exiting his body in all directions. His doctors told us he wouldn’t be able to breathe on his own, and this time they were right. Weeks later when he was finally unplugged from all this apparatus, as the three of us stood by praying for another miracle, his breathing slowed to a stop and he died peacefully. And once again we grieved.

Fortunately by then Mom was doing well. We were relieved that “the inevitable question” hadn’t come right away. Yes, she had asked us little questions like, Where’s Dad today? Or, What is keeping him so busy? But she never managed a full-blown assault... There’s something you three girls are not telling me! And I want to know now!

Some part of Mom must have known not to push so hard, some part that wasn’t ready for the full impact of our answers or the strength of the emotions and physical reactions they would produce. Over time she recovered fully and gradually adjusted to Dad’s death and all the implications it had in her life. And ours.

Once Mom was home again, tending her beloved dogwoods, daffodils and lilacs, her life began to bloom as well. She had always imagined herself as an artist, but she was “too busy raising us and taking care of Dad” to ever lift a paint brush or sharpen a sketch pencil. But during those “twelve divinely gifted years” she started studying art seriously. She bought supplies and practiced every day. The smells of oil paint and turpentine, as well as tiny piles of colorful pastel dust, were always somewhere in the house or yard.

And, just as she had always imagined, she was really good at art, so good in fact that she began having shows and exhibitions of her still life pastels and oil portraits, even earning a brief write up in the newspaper that declared her “an outstanding local artist”… a clipping she would always keep and treasure. She was colorful and passionate. She was loving and profoundly sensitive. Her portraits captured the personality of the person posing for her in a few brush strokes. Her drawings simplified and abstracted the essence of flowers and shapes, the patterns of light and shadow. Through these final works of art, I found my mother. And I loved her deeply.

Here’s what I learned from my Mom. No matter how bad the circumstances look. No matter how hopeless the situation seems. Even if all the experts agree that nothing can be done, that death is imminent and certain. As long as you’re breathing, HOLD ONTO YOUR DREAMS and KEEP LIVING THEM.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 7th Success Skill, read The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Success Quiz: Are You Using All 10 Success Skills… At the Right Time?

By Susan Ford Collins

Most people complain about not having enough time, but the truth is most of us spend time doing things that don’t really matter to our success. What does?

Take a few minutes to complete this Success Quiz. Then I will share with you how Highly Successful People (HSPs) answered these questions…

1. How often do you acknowledge yourself for what you accomplish?
Circle one:   daily          weekly              monthly            annually            

2. How often do you fall asleep thinking about what you didn’t get done or you’re afraid might happen?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

3. Are you able to maintain your confidence when obstacles and failures confront you?
Circle one:   rarely   sometimes        frequently

4. Do you pride yourself on doing “more-better-faster”?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

5. Do you make time to learn the basics of new skills before you start using them?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

6. Can you stand up in a meeting and say you don’t agree?
Circle one:   yes           no

7. How often do you push so hard that you can’t slow down to rest?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

8. Do you share your dreams with others or keep them to yourself?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

9. Do you spell out the details of outcomes you delegate?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

10. Would you rather ask an expert for input or figure it out yourself?
Circle one:   ask expert                   figure out

11. Do you need to know how you’ll reach your goal before you take action?
Circle one:   yes           no

12. Can you comfortably move into the unknown when you have a clear outcome in mind?
Circle one:   yes           no 

13. Do methods and solutions come to you out of the blue?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

14. When you are stressed, do you spend time away from the task?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

So now let’s compare your answers with theirs…

1. HSPs make time each day to acknowledge themselves for the successes they’re having. But the successes they have in mind aren’t just the usual ones. For them, success goes beyond finishing “business to dos.” It includes things that keep their lives in balance… eating a good breakfast, exercising, spending time with family and friends, buying gas, dropping off dry cleaning and remembering to pick it up. Most people don’t acknowledge themselves for completing things like these, but what happens to your productivity when you leave them undone? For HSPs, success also means saying NO to actions that violate their values and dreams. Deletion Successes can be the most important ones of all! And how about acknowledging yourself for your creative ideas... even if no one agrees they're possible yet!

2. People who “succeed big” know that the last few minutes of their day are most important. Your brain is in the Alpha State so it’s the perfect time to think about what you want tomorrow and long term. And the worst time to beat yourself up for oversights and failures. As you fall asleep, plan how you’ll make corrections instead. Remember: What you think is what you get, like it or not… so focus on what you do want instead of what you don’t want. That tiny change in focus will enhance your ability to move your life and career ahead!

3. If you are Success Filing—that is, acknowledging your successes each day—you will have the confidence to continue to move ahead when everything goes wrong, when obstacles besiege you and everyone disappoints you. Remember: When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full. When it is low, you feel dependent and needy… at the mercy of others’ opinions and in need of their agreement. HSPs are willing to put off low priority items, but making time to Success File each day is a number one item for them.

4. Constantly priding yourself on doing more-better-faster lands you in The Success Trap, constantly having to work longer and harder to raise the quantity-quality bar higher and higher. It can also land you in the hospital. For staying power, you need to acknowledge yourself for slowing down to learn new skills and technologies, for allowing your mind to wander into future possibilities and solutions. In today's business environment, creativity and innovation are becoming more important than productivity.

5. It is essential to slow down to a stop from time to time. Why? Because unless you do, you won’t be able to gear your mind back to learn new skills and technologies and so you'll slip behind. HSPs schedule time to learn the most efficient tools and approaches available, rather than slogging along with equipment, programs and procedures that weren’t designed to do what you need to do now. Make time to master the basics before you attempt to gear up into 2nd Gear production. Otherwise the mistakes you make will trip up you and your teammates and take more time in the end.

6. To stay ahead, you have to be able to disagree with the pack. For some people, getting others’ agreement is more important than getting their result. Not so for HSPs. They can stand up, disagree and then so powerfully communicate the details of the scenario they see, hear and feel, that other people take on their vision and team up with them. They lead the way by inspiration, not perspiration.

7. When you push so long and hard that you can’t slow down to rest, you’ve gone over the edge. HSPs use this over-the-edge feeling to signal when they’re overusing the 2nd Gear of Success. Yes, success has three gear-like phases and unless you know when to shift, unless you can use all three gears as circumstances require, you’ll burn out your transmission… and that means your body. And the time lost will set your business way back. Read The Joy of Success and Success Has Gears for specifics on the Three Gears of Success and Leadership.

8. Highly successful business people share their dreams with Codreamers, people who hold onto the details of their dream with them. People who contribute additional perspectives and information. People they can call when they come out of a meeting so devastated that their dream seems to have literally been erased from their minds. One phone call to a Codreamer can get you back on track. Who are your Codreamers? And who are your Codreaders (the ones who always tell you reasons why not?) Make sure you know the difference!

9. Going so fast that you can’t gear down to spell out the details of a task you’re delegating may seem expedient at the time. But in the long run it could ruin your business. To get the support you need from coworkers, customers and vendors, you need to share precisely what you have in mind. When you provide a sketch, others will automatically fill in the details they have in mind instead of the ones you have in mind. Beware of Sensory Fill-in! Who is responsible for the errors that result? You are of course.

10. Would you rather ask an expert or figure it out yourself? Well, that all depends. If you're climbing up the learning curve, then asking experts and following their directions is what works best… with one exception. When you know next to nothing about something, using a salesperson as your expert may set you up to buy what’s best for him or her, but not for you. Consult an independent expert before you make a major purchase. On the other hand, depending on tried-and-true experts when you are creating something new, may take you back to how it’s already been done. Listen to their input but, as its creator, know that you are the ultimate expert when it comes to your dream!

11. When we were kids, we were rewarded for doing things by the book. But as the head of your own business or life, that simply won’t work. These days, having-to-know-how upfront will hold you back. What you need is a thoroughly detailed outcome… then the appropriate method will find you. Powerful life changes, inventions and new businesses frequently start out as hunches or middle of the night Ahas! Most leaders I interview tell me they rarely know how, but they always know what.

12. The ability to venture into the unknown is essential today. The marketplace is changing so rapidly that top CEOs say they don’t have a ten-year plan or a five-minute plan either. Flexibility is key. Can you think on your feet? Can you seize an opportunity that others fail to notice? Can you abandon your ten-year-ago or five-minute-ago action plan and take the next step to your dream when it presents itself?

13. For years I interviewed inventors and creators and over and over I heard the same comments. I woke up in the night with a clear image in my head or a voice telling me what to do. Or I was taking a shower when my idea hit me. Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon.com, was so sure about his hunch that he packed up everything he owned and moved across the country in pursuit of his dream. And we all know he found it!

14. When you’re stuck, instead of sitting and staring at your computer screen, get up and do something else. Go for a walk or switch to a project that requires another mindset altogether. HSPs constantly tell me their most creative solutions come when they walk away from their desk and WHAM! The solution comes out of the blue… or out of the right brain. They say they strategically use the Alpha State to “program in” their problem at night and they trust their mind to deliver a solution when they first wake up. And it does.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills, read The Joy of Success, Success Has Gears or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins


The Rite of a Leader

The Manager Was Tied Up... Literally... Till He Learned To Lead

By Susan Ford Collins

It was time for a promotion and Jim was called to his manager's office for a chat. Bob smiled warmly as he congratulated Jim. "You've been successful doing your work so now I am going to promote you to leadership." But what followed next was unexpected. 

Bob pulled a sturdy rope from his top desk drawer and tied Jim’s arms together securely in front of him saying, "Every morning for the next week, I will tie your arms in front of you to remind you that your responsibilities have changed. To get ahead till now, you've relied on your doing. But from now on, you must learn how to rely on others' doing. You must rely on your team. You are becoming a leader.

If your team members don't know what to do, you are responsible for explaining it to them or finding others who can. If they don't have the skills they need, you are responsible for helping them develop those skills or find others who already have them. Whatever your people need, it is your job to provide it. From now on, you will be evaluated on your leadership results and how well you facilitate your team.

As a leader...your team's failures will be your failures;

your team's successes will be your successes;

your team's results will be your results;

your team's creativity will be your creativity. 

That first day was tough! It was busy and the rope clearly held Jim back. Oh how he wished Bob would untie it for an hour or two so he could do the job right and more quickly. But no such luck!

The Rite of a Leader was working! Now Jim could clearly see what Bob had already seen... he had "great doer skills" but "underdeveloped leadership skills." It was frustrating to have to explain in detail what he wanted his people to do. He knew how to do it himself, but he didn't know how to effectively teach it or coach it.

Jim started making changes in his thinking and communication. Day by day Jim's team successes were piling up. By Friday he realized that his successes were being multiplied, not just by hisdoing but by the doing of his whole team. Excited, Jim enthusiastically stepped into into his expandedpower as a leader.

We must each choose to "tie" ourselves to leadership, understanding that it no longer matters that we can do it all by ourselves." The challenge now is... can we do it all together? And how?

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills as well as how and when to use them, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Would Fear Prevent Me from Achieving My Outcome?

By Susan Ford Collins

Several years ago, I bought gas at a neighborhood station and headed home. The light was green when I entered the intersection but immediately turned yellow then red. Cars in front of me stopped short. Cars on either side came at me like raging bulls. My only safe choice was to turn left, even though I had been going straight through that no-left-turn intersection for years.