Daily Quote and Reflection: Fulfillment vs Success?

Daily Quote:  “ Success is developed and measured by an external focus and fulfillment comes from the inside and is displayed on the outside.” Victor Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning


This is my favorite book for examining many of my existential questions about life and provides many insights in to how create a purposeful legacy and meaning for living the life that I want to live. This book has made a difference in millions of people’s life and is rated as one of the top ten most influential books by readers in America. The reality and first hand experiences of  Viktor Frankl, a renown psychiatrist, has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for living a more meaningful and life. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he examines why some people collapse under these horrific circumstances and how others learn to cope and actual thrive in times of personal suffering or just day to day living?

In his coming to grips with the fact that we cannot avoid suffering in life but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose provides a basis for his  approach to therapy called logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”) holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud proclaimed, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Many times students and seminar participants have asked me to answer this question –What is the best way to guarantee success in their future life? Of course if you are a follower of this blog, you know that I don’t think it is helpful to give advice or reassurance to others on the way to live their life.  I am true believer when it comes to self- discovery and creating a personal vision or solutions to human problems. So in answering this type of question I usually reflect and direct them to an important process of answering a few questions for themselves.

So  the challenge I present to you, as your own coach, is to stop and take some reflective time over the next answer these questions:

1. How can you be sure that you will  be happy in your chosen career? 2. How can you be sure that your relationships with your spouse or partner or your  family become an enduring source of support and happiness? 3. What do you want your legacy to be?  Though the last question sounds a little dark because it projects you to the the end of your life, it’s not.  None of us are going to get out of this thing called life without dying and leaving some kind of footprints in the sand.

Daily Quote and Reflection–Filling time or leaving a footprint in Life?

Quote: We exist only to discover meaning and purpose in life; all else is a form of filling time.

Reflect: Often wonder what it means to be free to choose your destiny because so many of us are just going through the notions. Life is so hectic we seldom take some moments of solitude and reflection to contemplate what this thing called life really means. How do you get your  centered and focused on leaving a “footprint” ? What drives your work and play in life?

Daily Quote and Reflection: Meaning in life not something you stumble across…

Daily Quote: 

“You just don’t know what’s ahead for you. And remember the words on the bronze plaque “Some men and women make the world better just by being the kind of people they are.”  To be that kind of person would be worth all the years of living and learning… Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”  John Gardner 


Power of Courage and Connections –Secret to Love,Worth and Meaning in Life

“In order for connections to happen we must be vulnerable and show our true selfs to others. ” Dr. Beren Brown

I recently came across an outstanding talk by Dr. Berne Brown at TED.  She talks about the power of being connected, vulnerable, courageous and whole heartiness. What make people vulnerable is what makes people beautiful and happy. To find meaning we need the  ability to empathize, belong, love.  This is humorous talk by a truly authentic person.  She shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. Her insight about  shame and vulnerability answer many questions on the meaning in life and joy of life. I think here concept of how we try to avoid pain through denial and by numbing  our emotions can be a real break through. My take away is that we are all worthy of love and worth. Tweet or respond to this video by telling me your definition of vulnerability and how you handle it. Enjoy. https://ted.com/talks/view/id/1042

Meaningful Living through Smart-Step Change Process– Focus on thinking and Doing.

“Secret to meaningful life–Being Present, Pleasant, Respectful and Engaged.” Mark W. Hardwick , Ph.D.

1.  Affirm your ability to continue personal change and develop a no excuses focus by repeating this  affirmation: “Focus on living well regardless of how you are feeling at the moment.”  And complete the following Reflection Activity Daily:

  • Pick one action that you want to change—for example, your physical health–running or walking, eating healthy foods, self-improvement through meditation, stop smoking or reduce drinking alcohol, etc. Chose a set time of the day and do the activity at the same time each day for one week. Record the day, time, activity, your thoughts, feelings, obstacles and action in your Daily Journal. 

2. Focus on positive behavior and ignore self-sabotaging thinking and accept your feelings. With clear thinking and specific change goals your behavior will follow. Make you goals challenging but not too difficult to complete. I call this the Meaningful Constructive Living (MCL) Smart-Step process. It is all about establishing clear thinking, meaningful purpose, acceptance of feelings and staying focused on positive self-talk, establishing realistic goals and then execution plans. Continue reading “Meaningful Living through Smart-Step Change Process– Focus on thinking and Doing.”

Message for Difficult Times–Accept Consequences of Choices

“Nobody ever did or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” Harry Stack Sullivan

  1. Living on purpose. Figure out what’s really important to you. This will help drive rational choices rather than impulsive decisions. For most of us, it’s creating a life based on exploring our interests and loves. This discovery process is called the “journey of living”. Figure out the lifestyle that suits your talents, do what you love, identify your top priorities and then choose.
  2. Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is a killer when it comes to finding your path.One of the best ways to break this habit is to tackle life in mall chunks, using tiny steps to move forward. Break time into blocks for relaxation, work and reflection. When there’s an end in sight, it’s a lot easier to get going.
  3. Stop giving power over to others or the past. Be clear on your purpose, accept your feelings and do what you need to do. In the long run it is better to face life’s difficulties and problems; rather than ignore or try to wish them away.

Exercise–Identify three things you want to stop doing and three things that energize you over the next week. And from these observations craft your purpose in life and get on with living a constructive and fulfilling life or pick one problem you have been been avoiding or not facing and solve it. For example, doing a family budget or making a will.

The Hero’s Journey: Archetypes provide meaning to life

“The process of listening to our own desires and acting to fulfill them is fundamental to building an identity…the happiest people always are the ones who risk enough to be fully themselves…these people don’t feel trapped by the choices they have made.” Dr. Carol Widick

Recently, I was re-reading a classic in Psychology by Carol Widick. My experience was as good if not better than the first read. I guess with age comes wisdom.  Dr Widick  provides insight and accessibility into  themes that Campbell et.al have focused on. The book is called: The Hero Within. The main adversity and metaphor is the dragon and what he means  in regard to creating or blocking our journey to find identity and a pathway to meaning.

While Carl Jung’s focus on personality types and how they prefer to think, process experiences and act, archetype show us why we do what we do and what life lessons are blocking or encouraging growth and  learning as we try to develop and mature during different life cycles.

According to Dr. Pearson “Archetypes provide the deep structure for human motivation and meaning. When we encounter them in art, literature, sacred texts, advertising—or in individuals or groups—they evoke deep feeling within us. These imprints, which are hardwired in our psyches, were projected outward by the ancients onto images of gods and goddesses. Plato disconnected these from religion, seeing them in philosophical terms as “elemental forms.” Twentieth-century psychiatrist C.G. Jung called them “archetypes.”

So what are the benefits from studying and identifying different  “archetypes” ?  Carol Pearson has created a system of ” archetypes”  that help those struggling with establishing mature and satisfying identities. She puts  a human face on the “structures of meaning”, tells stories and provides insights that are powerful in helping to solve the existential problems blocking many people from feeling happiness and fulfillment in life.  Identifying and understanding archetypes can help you:

  • Better understand your own journey in life through simple common language
  • Provide opportunity for greater sense of meaning and fulfillment in your life
  • Inspire and motivate others
  • Cope more effectively with difficult types of people
  • Increase awareness of unconscious thinking and action
  • Have greater flexibility to respond to the difficulties and challenges of life
  • Be more effective communicator with family, friends and people at work.

Life’s Blueprint 4 Meaningful Living–You are the Architect

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five or six balls in the air. You pick the number and name them. The balls could be named self, work, family, health, friends, and spiritual. But remember you are keeping all of these balls in the air. You will soon understand that some balls when dropped bounce back and others if dropped, will get scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” Brother Edmond 

There are no guarantees in life. It isn’t fair and it can be difficult. No one promised you a “rose garden” or that it will turn out the way you want… but you have a better chance of it turning out how you want if you know how to create a more meaningful life.

I like the image of an architect designing a building by first laying out the blueprints. The ability to create from scratch is a powerful feeling. The house emerges from conversations between home owner and architect and capturing these dreams on a “white board” and then turning them into drawings that fit the contour and environmental requirements. The house takes shape from the co-creation of many. Can you really design your own life in much the same way the architect designs a house? I don’t know if we can design every aspect of our lives because we have certain fixed (genes)  and certain variable aspects (environment/experiences).

For example, we cannot change our upbringing: the parents, siblings, education, childhood diseases or accidents and other life experiences, and all that went on before you came to this awareness of your ability to imagine, dream and choose your life design. All that happened in the past has shaped who you are today, so you will need to start designing your life from this point forward.

And you can have the best laid plans and still have them go wrong, get off track, or encounter obstacles. So since we can’t control the past and we can’t control the future, what can we control if we want to design our own life? Well, we can make a plan today, we can work our plan each day, we can modify our plan as necessary, and we can make the best of what shows up even when it’s not what we want.

Let me recommend some tools I think every life architect should have in their toolbox as they take on the project of creating meaning and purpose in their life. See if these work for you.

1. Blueprint

The blueprint for your life can be like the architect’s house design or  business plan. You set out with a certain picture or vision for the future, strategies and goals for getting there and them map out a plan of actions that will get to each one of your goals and eventually your end vision. Maybe you start with your ideal career and strategize how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. Then you can design your personal life, intimate relationships, friendships, children, pets, home, lifetime sports and recreation, and whatever else fits in your plan.

2. Focus—Be Mindful

After you’ve created your blueprint, and before you take action, you need to get into the right mindset. The power of your thoughts, your positive mindset, your committed focus on your goals and your plan will improve your chances of success in each area you take action in. You must believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You must become aware of your beliefs and thoughts. Then prioritize and  maintain the ones that will support your getting what you want. You must eliminate distractions and obstacles by focusing  on the end result.

3. Take Positive and direct — Action

With your plan in place and your mind-set on success, you’re ready to take the actions necessary to build your life as you desire it. If you want to change careers, your first action may be to create a list of contacts who could introduce you to other people who might know of some opportunities available for you. Then setup information interviews with people in that career who you can share what it is like to work in this field or profession. The next action may be to sign up for classes that will increase your skill level necessary for the career move. And so on. Just keep following the action steps you outlined in your blueprint. When you become frustrated or depressed about your lack of progress remember the Meaningful Living mantra–Be clear on your purpose and goals, accept your feelings and challenges and do what you need to do.

Want to find meaning in life? Try “Playing to Win”

“All life, whatever its present form, is seeking to pursuit meaning and purpose so we mustn’t put boundaries on our own potential. Our limitations are nothing more than our own expectations to limit ourselves.” MWH

When I was coach of a middle school basketball team, one of our fundamental team principles was to focus on the fundamentals of basketball: learn to dribble with your head up, shoot with both hands, keep your elbow in when shooting, move your feet on defense, talk to each other, and practice these techniques outside of practice. To my surprise one day after practice a player approached me and said: coach, if I am to practice at home, can you show me how to shoot? Continue reading “Want to find meaning in life? Try “Playing to Win””

Challenges of Self-Renewal or Mummified life: Assess Your Readiness for Job Change

“Men who have loss their adaptiveness resist personal change. The most stubborn protector of his own vested interest is the man who has loss the capacity for self-renewal.” John Gardner

You have invested in yourself and earned your degree and are now bored or feeling unfulfilled in your job. Is it time to reassess where you are going and if this job is right for you? As a result, you’ve saved countless hours of learning the hard way and your career has progressed but now it seems to have flat lined and dipped. Your enthusiasm and energy is low. And your sense of purpose has become foggy. You are feeling “stuck”.

You’ve invested in a new health regiment. After the market crash you are seeking new financial advisors. You’ve switched love interest and partners. You seem out of sorts when interacting with clients. Could it be time to switch paths and try to find happiness and fulfillment in life? Are you ready to tackle this existential crisis? Assess your readiness for a job change.

Here are some signs it’s time to change jobs…

When you find yourself…

  • Daydreaming and fantasizing during work tasks.
  • Sleep and relaxation is difficult to find.
  • You dread your ride to work..
  • Distracted easily during meetings and team project sessions.
  • Annoyed with your boss and colleagues style of management and communication.
  • Complaining about what they are paying you.
  • Making sacrifices to always accommodate your company’s  schedule.
  • Feeling your promotion path is blocked
  • Relationships are not satisfying and arguments are increasing.
  • You seem to be treating water and are feeling stuck.
  • Having little energy and new insights in a long time.
  • More and more fearing failure or loss of job
  • You feel like a stranger to your self
  • Zoning out on weekends in front of T.V.
  • Joy of life is at a real dip
  • More anger and frustration with spouse, friends and co-workers.
  • Feel unloved and not listened to.
  • Dread Sunday nights in preparation for work on Monday.

Finding Flow–Reduce Stress and Change Your Life

Many participants at my workshops ask me to recommend learning resources and books I refer them to for more studying and understanding. So I have decided that i will start doing short review of some of the books that have influenced my thinking and snd point of view improving performance, finding meaning in life, how to embrace change and improve communications and connections with others. So here is my first recommendation with a few
comments to encourage you to take action to change your life. Clicking on
the link provided will take you to the author’s info or to Amazon.com profile for that
particular book. Mihaly Csikszentmihal

Finding FlowFinding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihal. This truly is an evidence based book. After 25+ years of research Dr. Csikszentmihal has capture the essence of satisfaction and building a productive and fulfilling life. This book is inspirational. Don’t miss the 5 C’s for creating a fulfilling life. This book may change your life. It is worth the investment.

Why blog? Capture footprints in the sand and share experiences

As the New Year begins, I was reflecting on my blogging for the last year. I write blogs, mostly about leadership and communication in any sphere of life– reflections and ideas about the meaning of life, how to live a more constructive life, developing better conversation and communication skills, poetry when the moment moves me and when I am puzzled by interesting concepts or questions. Mostly, I blog when I want to share my view of life and because my Grandmother once told me to keep a diary because each individual’s life is exciting and the lessons need to be passed on to the next generation.

I like to focus on interpersonal communications and leadership because it has been my passion in life and I think the clue for healthy living.  Many times when I sit down to blog I find myself reflecting, on the same themes or questions, over and over again. I have many unanswered questions and fascinations about life’s complexities and contradictions. Does a life sentence mean life? Does getting old mean losing your excitements about life? Are people suffering from mental illness any different from someone suffering from diabetes ? What is the difference between living a constructive and fulling life vs. a successful life as defined by others? Some of these fascinations grow into to an interest in the whole idea of mental illness or interpersonal conflict or the significance and difficulty of defining leadership or criminal justice, punishment and other social problems. I wrote Split-Second decisions because I began to get stuck or obsessed, with the way that all of us seem to make up our minds about other people in an instant—without really doing any real thinking, probing or reflection. In the case of Empathic Caring, this series of blog post grew out a frustration I found myself having with the way we talk about and explain the ability of some people to connect,  understand and care for others. While others just cruise through life and put it on automatic. You know how you hear someone say of Bill Clinton or Oprah or some friend —”they’re really sensitive,” or “they’re really in-tune with others?’ Well, I know lots of people who are sensitive and caring and they don’t have their own TV show or become President of the US. It struck me that our understanding of meaning and empathy was really superficial —and there was an opportunity to look around and identify the role models and dig deeper into the ideas that make up these two puzzles in life which many are now calling Emotional Intelligence.

One of those models I am fascinated with far more than any others, is Dr.Viktor Frankl. Readers may remember him as a Holocaust survivor, and father of a type of psychotherapy called logo-therapy, and author of books such as Man’s Search for Meaning. Over against other psychiatrists and psychologists who said that the will to power and the pursuit of pleasure are what ultimately motivate human beings; Dr. Frankl believed that the will to meaning is what ultimately motivates human beings. His logotherapy was born out of his own existential experiences in the World War II concentration camps. He once said that meaning in life can be discovered by three ways: “(1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” Even though Dr. Frankl didn’t publicly declare himself to be an adherent of any religion (he was an Austrian Jew, though I’m not aware that he attended synagogue, his wife apparently was a Catholic) nonetheless, he said that religion is concerned with ultimate meaning, or self-transcendence. For me, this has parallels with the idea of living and caring for others.

The key message of Frankl’s book and of my blogging is to discuss how people “live life with meaning” My tag line for this discussion focuses on learning and living– “learn to live, and live to learn”. Your meaning is unique and an individual creation—in other words, your work can make a difference, your contributions make a difference, your life matters! It’s up to each of us to discover our own personal meaning and thus create a more fulfilling life.”

— Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

Finding Meaning in Life: A Different Point of View–Victor Frankl’s Self Transcendance

“Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”  Victor Frankl

According to  the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Victor Frankl’s work is “perhaps the most significant thinking since Freud and Adler.” Beyond Freud and Adler, Dr. Frankl spells out a very powerful approach to finding meaning in life where happiness is a by product of living a life that does not focus on yourself, money or materialism. Continue reading “Finding Meaning in Life: A Different Point of View–Victor Frankl’s Self Transcendance”

Unique Connect

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  Carl Jung



How many people are able to connect very quickly with others? I am sure that at times you wonder why is it difficult to communicate and feel at ease with some people. On the other hand what are the reasons we instantly connect with others?  The answer is all in your style of communicating. How many of us are capable of diagnosing our own style? Not many.  So what can we do to relate more effectively with others? The secret is to become more adept at reading others and reflecting on our tendencies and approaches in communicating.

The secret was initially unlocked by C.G.. Jung, a Swiss paychologist who in the 1920’s wrote the book Psychological Types. This book was started to be translated in 1922 but was translated in its entirety and published in the U.S. around 1975. 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is trying to become more effective in communicating and interpersonal relationships.