“Life is a series of choices. Intentional choices create impact, so you can find fulfillment, serve others and influence change in the world.”
As I walked into the room, I felt instant discomfort. It was clear that I did not fit in. I was dressed in a fitted pair of designer jeans, a crisp white blouse, a great pair of heels, a smart blazer and a stunning diamond necklace that I had worked very hard to acquire. As I sat with over 100 trainers from around the globe on the first day of a year-long Train the Trainerprogram led by the legendary Jack Canfield, I thought I had made a huge mistake. No one looked like me. I felt like I had just walked into a spiritual tribe meeting and I was clearly not part of the clan. As part of me considered my exit plan, the curious part of me did not allow me to flee.
As a mortgage executive, I expected the training to teach me to be a better leader, focus more on smart business techniques, and help me better train my mortgage troops. However, I got more than I bargained for.
Little did I know that just three short days later, my life would change forever and in ways I could have never imagined had I stayed in my comfort zone. The choice to stay in that training was the single greatest decision of my life.
Sometimes, we’re really ready for a big change and we simply don’t know it.
I seemed to be close to achieving my perfect picture of success. I had married the perfect guy, the star quarterback, while still in college. I had three beautiful children, two boys and a girl. I had an enviable career. I had broken through the glass ceiling and was earning an income that would impress most top executives. But something was “off.”
As the primary breadwinner in the family, I had taken on the serious commitment of maintaining my family’s comfortable standard of living. However, my income fluctuated greatly and I lived in constant fear that my success would not last. I put tremendous pressure on myself to be the best at everything. I was constantly exhausted trying to be the perfect mom, businesswoman, wife, friend, sister, lover, and so forth. Balance was not a word in my vocabulary. I also felt my husband beginning to resent my success, and the health of my marriage became a growing concern. I secretly yearned to leave the high pressured life of a successful businesswoman to raise my kids and be a stay-at-home mom. When I realized that I would never be able to step back in time and play that role, I cried for hours, feeling scared and trapped. I was in serious need of a wake-up call.
I knew that I needed to make changes and that I wanted to invite new opportunities into my life. I was seeking “something more,” yet the clarity of the “what” still felt elusive to me.
I had already been coached by numerous leaders in the personal and professional development industry. I had mastered certain practices, including daily disciplines such as my 60-minute morning practice, with 20 minutes of meditation to ground me and calm my overactive mind, 20 minutes of exercise to strengthen my body, and 20 minutes of education on best business practices. In addition, my personal development work had helped me build a very successful mortgage business. I had been a “Top 100 Mortgage Originators” in the U.S. for over 10 years, and more recently, I had been named one of “The Top 100 Most Influential Mortgage Executives in America” by Mortgage Executive Magazine.
In fact, it was the “influential” award that became the catalyst that led to my transition. As I opened the blue satin box that had been delivered to my desk, I had no idea what was inside. To my surprise, it was a beautiful crystal award honoring me as one of “The Top 100 Most Influential Mortgage Executives in America.” In all honesty, my first thought was that it may have made its way to me by mistake. I think it is interesting that I immediately went to self-doubt instead of excitement.
Yet quickly, I transitioned to my “ego driven” happy dance. I was wowed at the magnitude of this award and, for a moment, allowed myself to completely drop into my ego and relish in the accomplishment.
So, as I allowed myself to truly receive the award in the spirit in which it was given, I began to think about how I could utilize my influence, my revived passion and my newly-found clarity about my gifts, talents, and abilities to instigate positive change – not just in the mortgage industry, but also in the world. As I so profoundly learned, sometimes the life we think we want, isn’t that fulfilling when we actually achieve it. Financial achievement, acclaim, and popular success may feed our egos, but it may not truly feed our soul – and deep down we know it. So, I began to lean in to my dream and vision of launching my own coaching and training company, The Defining Difference.
The imagined ideal seems to be wearing off for a lot of people these days. In the groups I lead, and with clients that I coach, people are seeking more meaning and purpose in their lives. They seem to be asking more questions about how to get clarity on the “something more” they need to fuel their souls. Moreover, people seem to want to make a difference in the world and serve a greater purpose with their lives. This inspires me because it was precisely this conversation that I had in Jack Canfield’s seminar that turned my life around. And now I have the opportunity to support others in their awakenings and on their journeys.
When you begin to pay attention to that little voice inside your head that wants to give and contribute more to the world, you instigate a powerful shift; from success to significance and from intention to impact. You shift your personal and professional orientation to living on purpose. And that shift changes everything.
We all have the ability to rewrite our stories and to create our lives by design; we just need a roadmap to follow, along with the courage and support to make the change. As we all know, change is hard and many of us resist it. In fact, many people resist it with such fierce intent that they spend much of their lives living in regret for what “could” be. But to have an impact in the world and to achieve true fulfillment in our lives, change is required. We need to consciously shake up our lives and take deliberate risk for the sake of our growth and expansion.
If I was going to teach and train The Defining Difference, I knew that I needed to jump off my personal cliff and shake up my own life. It was time for me to transition from who I had been to who I might become, and give voice to my dream.
So, it was time to resign from my corporate leadership role to create the space in which I could live my purpose. As I approached the office of the president of the region within which I had become a superstar woman executive, I could feel my heart racing. As I began to share my vision with my business partner, a surprising calm came over me. When I confided in him that I was feeling scared and uncertain, he was remarkably kind and understanding. He realized that I had longed for this for many years. In fact, we both realized how committed I was to the new and inspired path that stood before me. My business partner expressed how grateful he was for my long term commitment to his team, and offered me his genuine support for my new endeavor.
The Defining Difference began to take form as a success-based training and coaching company devoted to helping people master the power of intentional choice to create a defining difference in their own lives.
Many of us live our day-to-day existence on autopilot. We go robotically from place to place because we think that we have to…not because we choose to. What I have found is that when we turn off the autopilot and take hold of the controls of our lives, we are fueled by an infinite source of energy that has been there all along (we just didn’t tap into it).
It is important to wake up, take stock and inventory of where we are in our lives, and more importantly to consider where our soul wants us to go. It can be scary when we consciously remove the filters through which we view the world, but it can also be profound, and ultimately liberating!
We all make choices in everything we do, each and every moment of every day. Not making a choice IS A CHOICE! We all fall into habits, in our interactions with others, in the planning of our days (or lack of it), in our health habits, in how we “show up,” and how we relate to others.
It is an accumulation of all of these choices that we consistently make that creates our current reality. Changing our lives begins with shifting our choices.
Sometimes just a few small SHIFTS in our day-to-day choices, mental attitudes, and daily routines can have a profound effect on the way we experience life. If we begin to consider the barriers that prevent us from getting what we want out of life, the things that are holding us back, we can easily see that the walls that con ne us are self-constructed.
What if you took a risk and imagined new possibilities for your life? What would happen if you asked, “Who am I here to serve?” What would happen if you moved out of your comfort zone and removed that invisible barrier that holds you back from achieving the things that you really want in life?
When you focus on creating your Defining Difference and creating an intentional life, you start to play a new game. Think about the next year, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. What would you like to achieve over this period of time? What does SUCCESS look like for you? What intentional choices would you have to make to achieve the outcomes you desire? If your life today is not how you envision or desire it to be 10 years from now…the choice is yours to create a new vision for your future, NOW!
I don’t just preach living a life by design and intentional choice – I live it. One of my greatest life challenges, one that put The Defining Difference to the test, was the collapse of my 30-year marriage. It was not something I expected, and it forced me to make choices quickly. The old part of me wanted to lead with anger, blame, and shame – to discredit my soon-to- be ex-husband. But if I was committed to living life with intention, and I understood that I could choose how I wanted to respond to this event, then I was bound by my commitment to do divorce differently – by design. I chose to look through my pain and imagine possibilities on the other side of my hurt feelings and broken promises. I worked to imagine an expanded life, with new and rewarding opportunities. This practice of envisioning positive possibility in the face of heart-wrenching crisis is one of the single greatest accomplishments of my life.
I made a choice to have a friendly divorce and I made every decision from the perspective of the outcome that I wanted to generate for my family and myself. This was not an easy commitment. Some days it seemed almost impossible. But I was deliberate in my choices and committed to a positive outcome. I’m proud to announce that, today, my ex-husband and I are friends. We act as a team in making decisions that affect our children and we sincerely want the best for each other. I firmly believe that I intentionally chose and influenced that outcome.
My life is a living testament to what can be created when we live life by design.
Whether you are fed up with your career path, the state of your personal relationships, or the current condition of your health, you too are a series of deliberate choices away from shifting your reality. At this very moment, you can begin to create a different life by making different choices. With a little support and guidance, you can create a vision and start on a new path for a destiny that is self-chosen.
When we use the power of intentional choice to make decisions that align with our ultimate purpose or the outcomes we truly desire, we create a powerful filter. Our choices are either in alignment with our intention, or they are not. If they are not, and we are committed to our intention (or vision) then we must make a different choice – it is that simple.
We can supercharge our intention and expand our vision by becoming a generous offer in the world. This step is about focusing on a greater good – not just our own fulfillment. When I shifted from thinking that I was in a service industry to a mindset where I asked each day, “who am I here to serve?” my life changed. Suddenly, my choices became more generous and inclusive, and the floodgates began to open.
And when the call comes in – ANSWER IT! Answer the call to “wake up” in your own life and lean in to your true calling to live your life on purpose. My mission is to help and support you on your journey to create a defining difference in your own life. When you transform your own life, it gives others permission to do the same. Are you ready to answer the call? I did, and it opened up a whole new world of possibilities in my life. I’m certain that when I come to the end of my road, I will look back and smile, knowing that I played full out and lived in full expression of myself – with no regrets. I am grateful for taking risks for the sake of growth in my own life and now serve as a role model for others along their journeys.
To Your Success,