Your Best Year Ever!

Posted May 12, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

How would you like to create your best year ever?  I’m not kidding, exaggerating, or loosely using a cliché.  In fact, I’m being dead serious.  How would you like to stop for a few moments right now and arm yourself with the critical few tools that will give you a competitive advantage over the rest of the world like you’ve never seen before?  The steps I’m going to share with you have the power to do exactly that – if you apply them exactly as I lay out.  But I should warn you before we begin: these steps are so ridiculously simple that you will be tempted to follow them only casually.  If you casually apply them, you will see casual results (at best).  However, if you take these to heart, memorize them if you need to, and stick with it until you’ve mastered the process, you will look back twelve months from now and see a life that has become unrecognizably different.  Are you ready?  We have no time to waste.

Step 1 – Set a crystal clear goal that is both measurable and memorable.  You must be extremely passionate about this goal; so hungry that you can actually taste it, smell it, feel it, and see it.  And this doesn’t have to be a specific business goal – it might be a personal dream that your professional accomplishments will help you achieve.  A vague, ambiguous goal will not get the job done.  If I were to wake you from a dead sleep, you should be able to instantly tell me what this passion and purpose is.

Step 2 – Start with the end in mind.  Do some number crunching and educated guessing to estimate how long it should take to accomplish this goal with consistent effort, but accounting for life.  Then work backward – do a little reverse planning to put your strategy together.  What kind of activity and effort would be necessary across this timeframe you have identified to deliver you to your finish line?  (Let’s assume for this discussion that your goal would take roughly a year to reach.)  Break this down into monthly benchmarks and write your plan down so that you can refer back to it frequently throughout the coming year. You may want to seek the counsel and input of a mentor to solidify and confirm your plan.

Step 3 – Get a 13-month calendar.  The brand doesn’t matter, just so long as it shows one whole month per full page.  I actually have one created on the computer that we just update each year.  I print it off, punch holes in it, and keep in my three-ring binder that goes everywhere with me.  Make sure that all major holidays and national events are included, then go through the entire calendar and add any significant details that will affect your life in the coming year.  Here are some different types of events to consider: birthdays, anniversaries, business trips, family reunions.  If you’re married, you and your spouse need to track down any of this information that would affect you or your family schedule.  If you have kids, contact the school or their community leagues to get their schedules and calendars for as far out as you can.  Next, consider what types of events or activities you would like to add to the calendar: perhaps a weeklong vacation, a few couple-day getaways, professional or personal development seminars, church retreats, etc.  This exercise allows two things: 1) Nothing important to your life and values will get overlooked, omitted, forgotten, or left out due to a lack of scheduling; and 2) You have a clear picture of how you’ll need to work toward your goal around your life instead of always letting life get in the way of your goals.

Step 4 – Choose your weapons.  This is where you will prepare in advance to defeat the enemy of mediocrity that is absolutely guaranteed to secretly ambush your plan and wage war on your life in the coming year.  To prepare for this battle, ask yourself two questions: 1) Are there any skills I’ll need to develop, strengthen, or master in order to reach my finish line?  2) Would my odds of success be higher with some private instruction and accountability built in?  I’ve learned through trial and error that my results are light-years ahead when I employ two specific weapons: self-study and private coaching.  Let me explain them both briefly and why I advise using them together.  Some of the skills I’m lacking can be picked up through reading books, attending seminars, and listening to audio training – those are all different types of self-study, and I incorporate them into my battle-plan almost on a daily basis – to keep me fresh, sharp, and dialed-in for success.  But the private instruction and personal accountability give me a quantum leap advantage that I could never get on my own.  The perspective and outside counsel of a mentor who is wiser, more experienced, and more accomplished with a proven track record of success can provide game-changing insights and drastically shorten my learning curve and implementation time.  Combining these two weapons together is like purchasing an insurance policy or warranty on my pending victory.  If I start to slip or fall short of my goal, these two elements of support help me get back on track.  In fact, I’ve often found they are more like the ounce of prevention that keep me from slipping.  These resources actually help me stay ahead of the game – firing through the air directly toward my bullseye.

Step 5 – Problem-solve potential deal breakers ahead of time.  What annoyances always creep up and rob you of your power, energy, purpose, clarity, and joy?  Make a list of those things that keep getting in the way of your victory.  Let me just give you one quick example to get your wheels spinning here.  If you have young kids at home, does a lack of childcare keep you from performing the necessary duties to take you to your finish line?  What could you do to solve that problem?  Would it help to go back to your 13-month calendar and line up childcare for every event and business trip you know is coming for the entire year?  Would it help to build a file of reliable babysitters so that you have multiple back-up plans?  Would it help to create a job description and list of character traits you want in quality childcare providers to make your search and interview process easier and more thorough?  Remember, there is a solution to everything if you’re willing to dig deep enough.  There are literally dozens of examples I could give here of common recurring problems that I see tripping up thousands of women across North America.  The good news is that these problems don’t have to trip us up!  So, just make a list of the things that constantly frustrate your success efforts and invest a little time to brainstorm some possible solutions.  Keep in mind, every frustration has a solution, and every solution has a price tag, but the frustration costs more than the solution every time.  Of course, you can’t know what every problem will be ahead of time, but you can guarantee that you will encounter struggles.  So, decide to have the mindset that you will not be derailed; you’ll simply take them in stride and deal with them as they come – one at a time – all the way to victory.

Step 6 – Carve out time to manage your success.  Most people make the fatal mistake of thinking they don’t have time to plan.  What we fail to account for in that skewed thought process is what I’ll call the “archery” factor.  An arrow shot from the bow of a skilled archer is a deadly weapon.  But without the knowledge, strength or skill to first properly position the arrow on the string, and then pull the string back to create the compounded-force launch, there is no power involved whatsoever.  The arrow would just fall to the ground like a lifeless stick.  Pulling yourself out of the action to plan, strategize, and tweak your efforts on an ongoing basis is like this pull-back step for an archer, or a pit-stop for a racecar driver.  It allows you to come back stronger than ever before, laser-focused on your goal and repositioned for success.

Revisit these steps constantly and follow this process at all times.  If you will start with the end in mind, maintain laser focus, and apply consistent effort that you’re constantly improving, you will absolutely blow your own mind – and blow your results right out of the water.

One final note: These really are the simple secret weapons to set you apart from the rest of the world.  If you want to dig deeper in order to fully explore this process, come join me!  I’ll conduct a 3-hour seminar in each of the cities below to explain all the nitty gritty on exactly HOW to execute these secret weapons in your own life.

Check my website for complete details and make plans to join us in the city nearest you!

Allison’s Upcoming Digging Deeper Workshops:
El Paso, TX – May 24
Portland, OR – May 26
San Jose, CA – May 27
Raleigh, NC – June 10
Manassas, VA – June 12
Denver, CO – June 17
Chattanooga, TN – June 19
Richmond, VA – July 8

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Reposition Yourself

Posted May 5, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

Blah! Does that describe the feeling that you’re fighting right now? I woke up on Monday morning with that exact same feeling myself. After a week on the road, I was having a hard time mustering the energy to get back into the swing of things at home. Strangely enough, several of the businesswomen I work with were struggling with their own versions of that same “blah feeling”, and it seems to be sweeping the country this week. This reminded me of a Digging Deeper column from last year that specifically addresses this funky feeling.  So, I’m going to share it with you again now, we’ll overcome this feeling together, and then we’ll be back to our “original” discussions next week.

Have you felt the funk? I think we could all agree that it would be very easy to let a case of the “blahs” take over right now. But don’t let it! In fact, let’s focus today on how to do just the opposite. Today you’re going to give yourself a “mental flu” shot so that you don’t become a statistic to this sweeping epidemic of apathy. The news stations aren’t broadcasting it, but there is a very dangerous virus spreading around like wildfire this season. No one is immune to it, and it’s extremely contagious. It threatens to infect us with an odorless, tasteless, invisible poison that makes us behave like rat-race zombies. It’s time to vaccinate yourself with a vitamin called vision. It’s time to buck the trends, break the mold, and shake off the funk that has you sleepwalking through life. It’s time to reposition yourself!

The concept of repositioning yourself is one of the single most productive things you could ever think about. Average people resign themselves to their situation: “I guess this is as good as it’s gonna get, so I’d better buckle in.” Repositioning yourself is what wealth-minded people do. This is how normal people become successful and how successful people remain successful. How did Chris Gardner go from welfare to millionaire in The Pursuit of Happyness? He repositioned himself. How did Ashton Kutcher go from goofy kid actor to wildly successful and well-respected producer? He repositioned himself. How did Oprah go from poverty and child abuse to talk-show host, media mogul, worldwide philanthropist and self-named empire? She continually repositioned herself. How can you go from mediocre to mind-blowing? Bored to brilliant? Reposition yourself.

The value of repositioning yourself has life-altering implications regardless of the stage of life you’re in. However, as a society we tend to buy into generational limitations on this concept, so I’d like to discuss our repositioning by decade to dispel some of these lethal myths:

20s—Wanna know the single biggest mistake we make in our twenties? We think in terms of “someday”. At this age, we’re still ten feet tall and bullet proof. The life skills of proactive planning, wealth management, and strategic thinking aren’t taught in most high school and college programs, so we skate through the first decade of independence assuming that one day we’ll figure it all out. This is one of my favorite ages, because we’re young, energetic, brilliant, and full of life. But unless we learn the lesson of compound interest in this era, we can waste much of the next 40 years on regret. And I don’t just mean the compounding interest of money. I’m also referring to the compounding interest of time. For all of you who are under the age of 30 reading this right now (even if your well-meaning although highly irritating parent shoved it in your face), please take my advice on this: To get a jump start on the successful life you deserve to live does not mean that you have to give up your fun! Don’t listen to the goofballs who are just as broke and directionless as you are. Study the people you want to emulate and ask for their advice. You can make education fun, find a job you love, learn to make money, manage money, and invest money wisely ALL while having the time of your life—if you’re willing to reposition yourself.

30s—Why is becoming an adult so hard? Because we fight an ongoing internal battle of being the kid versus raising the kids. Now, I’m fairly new to this role, but here’s what I can tell you so far. The crowd is very enticing. Peer pressure is just as strong in this age group as it was in high school. It could be very easy to wake up at 35 and wonder what you did with the last 10 years of your life. But you can make up for it and then some—if you’re willing to reposition yourself.

40s—You may be a forty-something male. You’re married with kids. You find yourself working at a job which you try to convince yourself daily that you don’t hate just to maintain your sanity. You go to work everyday out of a deep sense of responsibility for your family whom you love very much and would do anything for. But what if you could find a job that you love and that pays well? They do exist. And if you can’t find one, you can create one. But you must be willing to reposition yourself. Or, maybe you’re a forty-something female and newly single mom. If you allow yourself to be washed down river with the popular socio-economic trends, you could easily spend the next fifteen years barely scraping by financially and having no life whatsoever, because you spend every last dollar and minute you have trying give your kids the life you know they deserve. But what if you didn’t allow yourself to be washed away with the current? What if you repositioned yourself and swam upstream? You could break the generational curse of mental and financial scarcity for your family. You could create a legacy of abundance and freedom for your family—freedom of both time and money—but you must be willing to reposition yourself.

50s—Are you in your fifties? Research has proven two very interesting facts about people in this age group.
Fact #1: The fear of old age is one of the six major fears of modern man. In the timeless classic, Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill cited two common symptoms that will help you diagnose whether you suffer from this fear. The first is a “tendency to slow down and develop an inferiority complex, falsely believing one’s self to be ‘slipping’ because of age”. The second tell-tale sign of whether you’re buying into the fear is a “habit of speaking apologetically of one’s self as ‘being old’ merely because one has reached the age of forty, fifty, or sixty”.
Fact #2: The truth is that man’s most useful years, mentally and spiritually, are those between forty and sixty. To paraphrase Hill’s words, individuals rarely “arrive” or succeed greatly before the age of forty, In fact, observation of thousands of successful men and women proves that the most fruitful years for a person are between forty and sixty. This should encourage us to reverse the rule of fear and instead express gratitude for having reached the age of wisdom and understanding.
So, a person in this age category could choose to become old, simply by passage of time. Or they would choose to capitalize on their wisdom and experience, through application of life lessons learned. This would start with one decision—a willingness to reposition yourself.

60s and beyond—Our Golden Years will only be our Golden Years if we are willing to reposition ourselves. It’s not a rite of passage or a phase of life that is guaranteed to be golden. Anyone who successfully reached this stage of life to find it truly golden will tell you they did so through proper positioning of themselves along their journey. But what if you hit this stage without proper positioning? Is it too late? Not until you inhale your last breath. Ben Franklin said that we die from the neck up when we stop dreaming. You can reinvent yourself, create a new dream or bring the old one back to life, and find a way to live that dream—if you’re willing to reposition yourself.

Have you been buying into a lie? Have you accepted the false reality that you’re too old, too tired, too broke, or too stuck in your old ways? Did you accidentally buy a membership into the club that says you’re not smart enough, educated enough, talented enough, tough enough, or pretty enough? You may not be able to get your money back, but you can certainly exchange that old belief for a new one! Is it time to adjust your lenses on life? Would you prefer a new perception of reality? You see, “realistic” is whatever you want it to be. You’re never too bankrupt to become wealthy. You’re never too obese to become healthy. You’ve never failed too miserably in business to become successful. Telling yourself, “It’s too late for me” is like voluntary checking yourself into an insane asylum while trying to convince yourself it will be like a weekend at the spa. IT MAKES NO SENSE! And you can turn it all around…if you’re willing to reposition yourself.

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Lemonade Recipe

Posted April 28, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

I’m coming to you from the Big Apple today where we’re concluding our seven-day stint of back-to-back workshops across North America. It’s been a true joy and privilege to Dig Deeper with many of you in person! James and I are going to spend the next few days playing around NYC, so if you have recs on dining or shopping faves, send ‘em on over. Speaking of sharing ideas, THANK YOU for all of the tips you sent me for getting over my allergy-or-cold-or-who-knows-what funk I’ve been fighting for the past 10 days. We should take all of your ideas and compile them into a “recipe” book! But seriously, I simply could not afford to be sick, so I think I tried almost every single suggestion you sent my way. My sweet assistant made a new run to the grocery store with just about every new idea that came in – you should have seen some of the concoctions I gulped down this week! Thank you for sharing your family secrets with me. It’s comforting and refreshing to know that we’re all on this crazy ride of life together!

How many of you made time this past week to compile your list of the changes you want to create in yourself? If you’ll remember with me from last week, I challenged you to evaluate yourself from the inside out and ask what would make you a better you? This exercise is different than goal-setting or making dream boards because we’re not envisioning what our perfect world would look like. We’re deciding who we want to be and become within this less than perfect situation we’re living in. To recap from last week, we came to the conclusion that we can’t control the weather, the economy, or even the state of affairs in our own home all the time, but we can control who we are and how we respond to the world around us. And that will often become the catalyst to every other result that has seemed to elude us for so long. So, you spent the week examining exactly what needs to change within you instead of wishing and waiting for things to change around you. Whatever character traits you identified, we’re going to take them this week and do the reverse engineering that I promised. Remember, this is going to be fun. Making lemonade is always fun. We may get sticky, and it may sting a little in the open wounds, but the end result promises to be very profitable. So, let’s get started!

First, if you missed last week’s edition, I encourage you to go back to the Digging Deeper archives and check it out so that our subject matter is fresh in your mind. Once you’ve done that, we can proceed to the next step. Hopefully, you’ve carved out some time and really analyzed the types of lemons you’re starting with, either from the ones we discussed or your own variety that wasn’t even mentioned. If you really want to take the lemons life has handed you and make award-winning, fortune-building, legacy-leaving lemonade, there are 6 ingredients that must be included for the recipe to work.

  1. Honesty—You must allow yourself to absorb and process the cold, hard truth of reality…no matter how ugly it is. Only when we become aware of the truth of who we are and where we are will we get the green light to move forward freely. If we are living in any sort of denial about ourselves or our circumstances (time, money, relationships, etc.), it will keep us stuck in the traffic jam.
  2. Ownership—We must take 100% responsibility for our situation. Where in life will the “It’s not my fault!” approach get you? Nowhere. We must stop blaming other people or circumstances for our results. Unless we are totally responsible, there is nothing we can do about our future. Also, be aware of dream-stealers. When other people quit or give up on their dream, are you letting them take your dream with them? You don’t have to. Take ownership of your dream and the awareness that you don’t have to put your dreams at the mercy of other people’s decisions.
  3. Closure—Before we can move forward, we must be willing to release the past. This may require you to ask forgiveness, forgive others in your heart, do some serious praying, write a letter to release all of your hurts, angers, and frustrations and then burn it, or whatever you have to do to free yourself from the bondage of your past.
  4. Stop waiting—Period. Stop waiting to get organized, to be prepared, for your family to get on board, for things to calm down at work, for the magic solution, or to feel like doing it. The single biggest difference between highly successful people and everyone else is that they stopped waiting for the magic feather and just did the work in spite of the chaos around them.
  5. Exercise daily management—This is a deal breaker. You will never change your life until you develop the discipline to change your day. One day at a time. If how you approached today—this one particular day—would dictate the outcome of your entire year, would you plan it and treat it differently? When you begin to approach every day with that degree of importance, you will make quantum leaps in your results. Imagine yourself being bathed in self-control like a paraffin wax pedicure. You are the embodiment of self-discipline and self-management, NO MATTER WHAT. Stone wall consistency of character. It’s amazing how much just meditating on these thoughts as you go throughout your day can impact your decision-making.
  6. Trim your rebound time—If you have a disappointment, how long does it take you to bounce back? If your alarm goes off and you wake up late, does it throw your entire day into a tailspin? Are you then tempted to chunk the whole thing, allow yourself to be stressed and frustrated the entire day, and then let all of your plans for excellence slide with the hopes of starting again tomorrow? Or can you take a deep breath, make some quick readjustments, and then decide to live in excellence for the remainder of the day…even if you had to start in a rush?

So, there you have it. The six ingredients to making lemonade. The six components that will determine if this will be your year, or just another year. The ingredients are simple to list, but certainly not easy to come by. Now that you have the list, look back at it and take stock of which ingredients you’re missing. Tape the list to your bathroom mirror and do a quick inventory check every morning, if necessary. If your life and future dreams are really important to you, then you have no time to waste. You can’t afford to let any more weeks, months, and years pass by without taking action toward the new you. Get out there and acquire your missing ingredients!

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More Lemonade

Posted April 21, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

I must start off by saying THANK YOU for sharing all of your responses to last week’s discussion on our Perfect Imperfections. I love hearing your personal insights, and I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry at some of your stories. I’m so glad to know that we’re all on this journey together.

I don’t know about you, but this week promises to be another crazy, wild week in the LaMarr household. Tomorrow I begin a seven-day stretch of teaching workshops across North America, and I’m so excited about the material we’ll be covering and the people I’ll get to spend time with that it honestly can’t get here quickly enough. But yesterday, I was reminded yet again that things seldom go as planned.

Around 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon my throat began to hurt and within thirty minutes my voice was completely gone. For someone who talks for a living, this is not good. I had to cancel an entire day of coaching calls, which I absolutely loathe doing. In fact, I think I’ve only ever done it once before in the past seven years. All the while I’m thinking, “I absolutely can not get sick right nowI’ve got too many people counting on me over the next week.” Then around 8, I began to feel even worse, with cold chills and body aches. As I laid shivering in bed in my long PJs and socks, under a 40-pound blanket with a winter scarf around my neck, Vick’s Vapor Rub in all the wrong places, cuddling my bag of Hall’s like it was a teddy bear, and watching the steam rise from the humidifier next to the bed, I couldn’t help but laugh. What a contrast between this scene and the one with my little black dress on the red carpet with James just a week before.

So far today, I’ve tried a hot steam shower, herbal tea with honey and lemon, cough drops, and gargling salt water to try and kick this throat and voice problem. I’m not sure if it’s the pollen in the air or that I caught my son’s cold, so I’ve been going back and forth between allergy and cold medicine just to make sure I’ve got my bases covered. None of them seem to be working as fast as I need them to, so if you have any proven ideas, please send them my way!

This morning, as I sat here with my hot cup of lemon tea getting ready to start typing, I thought, “Ok, Allison. Time to take this big pile of lemons and make some lemonade.” And it reminded me of one of our past Digging Deeper discussions on that very topic, and I’d like to share some of it with you again today.

I want you to know that it’s OK to acknowledge the fact that life isn’t perfect, that you’re not perfect, that your situation may be a mess. Whether you created the mess or you had absolutely no control over the mess that was handed to youeverything is going to be OK. In fact, things can be better than OK, fine, or alright. Things can become greatbetter than greattruly phenomenal in your life, either once again, or for the first time ever. Even if you’re feeling paralyzed by fear, apathy, or doubt. Even if you’re having trouble believing that true, long-term change is even really possible because the speakers in your mind are blaring the same old defeating broken record of your past at such a loud volume that you can’t even seem to concentrate on anything else. You can move on to a new song, a great song on the soundtrack of your life. But it’s time to make lemonade.

It’s time to take those lemons in your life and create a new recipe for the most delicious lemonade you’ve ever tasted in your life. In fact, this new lemonade recipe is going to be so good that you may be able to sell it for a fortune. What kind of lemons are you starting with? Are they some of the ones we’ve just discussed? Really evaluate your situation. There are several types of lemons out there that make absolutely legendary lemonade. Maybe you’re starting with regret lemons—regret over a lost relationship or opportunity. You could be staring at lost-time lemons. You know the typeyou’re not exactly a spring chicken anymore and you’re beating yourself up for not getting your act together sooner. Lonely lemons are a special hybrid, you could be absolutely all alone and want someone to share your life with more than anything on earth, or you could be surrounded by supportive loved-ones and still feel like a stranger in your own home. Then there are guilt-lemons—you’re struggling with a sense of guilt over something you did, or something you should have done but didn’t. Are you familiar with burden-lemons? These come when every thing is riding on whether you make this workwhen everyone around you is counting on you to succeed. Or, you may have mourning-lemons—you’ve lost someone very close to you and the pain is so unbearable that you can hardly breathe. There are also anger-lemons. You may be consumed with anger—either at yourself or someone else for a terrible decision. Finally, there is a very special variety of lemon called the what’s-wrong-with-me-lemon. If you’re not familiar with this one, it’s the one where everything is fine in your situation. There is literally nothing holding you back. It’s the “there is no reason on this earth why I shouldn’t be succeeding, but I just can’t seem to make it happen” lemon.

Once you’ve identified the ingredients to your new earth-shattering lemonade recipe, then we can start to make the magic happen. So, here is what I want you to do. Between now and next Wednesday, I want you to make a list of the changes you want to create in yourself. Literally, starting from the inside-outwhat would make you a better you? This isn’t goal setting; we’re not making dream boards or envisioning what our perfect world would look like. We’re deciding who we want to be and become within this less-than-perfect situation we’re living in. We can’t control the weather, the economy, or even the state of affairs in our own home all the time, but we can control who we are and how we respond to the world around us. And that will oftentimes become the catalyst to every other result that has seemed to elude us for so long. Here are a few examples to help you get started. Maybe you want to develop patience for people and situations. Perhaps you want to wean out judgment, negativity, and criticism of others and replace them with kindness, compassion, and genuine love. It may be time to stop taking your own frustrations out on the people you care about most. Are you getting the idea? Hopefully a few of your own are popping into your mind as well.

If you’ll accept my challenge this week and really dig deep into who you want to become, then next week we’ll do a little reverse engineering. This is going to be fun. Making lemonade is always fun. We may get sticky, and it may sting a little in the open wounds, but the end result promises to be very profitable.

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Perfect Imperfections

Posted April 15, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

Alright, my friends…this one’s for the girls.  Allow me to set the stagefor our discussion today.  As I type these words, I’m sitting in a back cornerbooth inside Mi Cocina, my favorite Mexican food restaurant in Dallas, Texas.This is our old stomping grounds, since my husband and I lived here for 5 yearsright after we got married.  We’re here for the world premiere of a film heproduced, so for him, today is a day full of last-minute technical checks,press interviews, and all the red carpet hoopla one would imagine.  For me onthe other hand, it’s a whole other world – one that actually began several daysago – so let me back up.

This week started off with the filming of a new product I’m about tolaunch.  So, of course that involved hair, makeup, and wardrobe styling.During that day of preparation, here is what I learned about myself: I havemore gray hairs than I was aware of, my eyes are aging faster than they should,and one pair of Spanx apparently isn’t enough to compensate for my love ofchips and salsa.

As soon as that was over, we rolled right into preparation for a series ofevents and tapings I have coming up next week.  I was once again reminded of mygross lack of gifts in the wardrobe and styling arena, along with my uttershock at the price tag of “looking good” these days.   For someone like me whohas absolutely zero sense of style, it costs more to pay for someone to tell mewhat looks good than the price of the actual outfit itself.  On top of that, Ifound myself feeling guilty for asking my stylist to stick to a budget whenselecting my wardrobe.  It’s one of my goals in life to overcome my cheapmentality, and I have several friends who are trying their hardest to help meover that hump.

Now, as I sit here safely tucked away in my booth, but watching all of the“plastic” walk by, I am forced to come face-to-face with every insecurity I’veever battled.  What do I mean by “plastic”?  I’m referring to purchased hair,smiles, waistlines, and boobs.  And please know, I don’t refer to them in acondescending way whatsoever.  In fact, I’m making a mental wish list rightnow!

In addition to all of that, in Dallas I discovered a population phenomenonthat I refer to as “broke snobs”.  What is a broke snob?  Let’s be clear:It’s where you are dead broke.  But you deeply hate the fact that you’re broke,you never intended to be broke, and truth-be-told you also have no plan forgetting un-broke, so you shop and spend like you’re not broke, you make fun ofother people for being broke, and at the end of the day it somehow makes youfeel better about being broke yourself.  It’s a form of denial – and it trulytakes one to know one.  How do I know this?  Because I used to be one.  Yousee, just a few short years ago, I made forty grand a year, but was thirtygrand in debt.  My hubby and I lived paycheck-to-paycheck at best, but we feltcompelled to compete with the millionaires down the street.  This is how womenwho make two grand per month are sucked into paying two grand for a purse – inone single transaction.  And as a sort of play on words, another form of“plastic” is the plastic card we use to purchase things we can’t afford toposition us on the playing level we feel compelled to compete on.

So, even though I’ve been out of Dallas for several years, as I sit herewatching the beautiful Dallas plastic all around me, I’m flooded by thememories and temptations of trying to compete on that level.  Oh, and beforeyou begin to look down your nose at Dallas (or defend it as a nativeDallas-ite), guess what?  It has nothing to do with Dallas.  This phenom existsall over our globe today.  From Los Angeles to Phoenix to Chicago to Miami toNew York to London to Paris to Milan to Tokyo, none of us are immune to theepidemic of “Faux Perfection”.  And for all of my small town friends, you runthe risk of being even guiltier of hometown gossip, rumor mills, and keeping upwith the Joneses, so don’t go casting judgment on the city girls for a splitsecond!  Trust me…I’ve lived on both side of that fence, and the grass nevergets as green as we might expect.

By the way, don’t bother pretending like you don’t know what I’m talkingabout.  For any and all of you fighting (or aspiring) women who refuse to letgo of your dreams, I feel your pain!  Every single day, we’re confronted withour deepest fears: Is my hair the right color and style?  If I could only losethis weight.  Gosh, I need someone to come in and completely revamp my closet.Why am I always so tired?  I’m so busy that I have absolutely no time formyself.  Will all of this work pay off?  Are my husband and I even on the samepage anymore?  Do my kids appreciate me?

Can we make ends meet next month?What if I looked a few years younger…would that help?  Why are my legs soshort?  If I suck in just a little harder, do you think anyone will noticethose five pounds I gained last week?  And, will someone please remind me whyI’m doing all of this anyway?!

So, later tonight, as I prepare to don my little black dress with newlypurchased accessories, I’ll just have to laugh at the fabulous absurdity of itall.  I’ll paint on my suck-you-in undergarments, I’ll strap on my power shoes,I’ll hold my head up high and pretend to be completely confident.  But all thewhile, I’ll second-guess every move I make as I compare myself to every otherwoman in the room.  And, at the end of the night, after bursting with pride atmy hubby’s accomplishments, I’ll be equally glad it’s all over.  Because,truth-be-told, I would be just as happy (if not more happy) at home in my fatstretchy pants, old t-shirt, and ratty slippers, with no makeup, funky hair,and my two-year-old crawling all over me.

So, why do I share all of this with you today?  Because we all need to knowthat we are in the same race!  The pursuit of perfection will never produce acrown.  But if we can recognize the absurdity of our own behavior, embrace ourimperfections, and just agree to love ourselves (and each other) across thefinish line, this life would be so much more enjoyable.  Anyone of us couldthrow on a happy face and fake a smile if we had to.  In fact, we must do itvery often, just to keep ourselves moving forward.  But, when we can begin toappreciate the art of collaboration over competition, the harmony of acceptanceand gratitude rather than the chaos of fighting for the next day, to get overthe rat race and learn to relax, then a whole new world will begin to emerge.

What kind of world?  A world of wisdom, an echelon of excellence, and alife of liberty.  So my dear, dear x-chromosome friends…here’s what I want youto do today.  Walk over to your nearest mirror, stand up tall, roll yourshoulders back, give the biggest grin you can muster, and just have a goodlaugh at yourself.  The fallen ‘do from the hairspray that didn’t hold thismorning, the eyeliner that’s already smudged, the pants that seem tighter thanthey did when you put them on, the new zit that just appeared – embrace yourimperfections!  And, what about all of those thoughts racing through your headthat threaten to send you to the funny farm?  Yes…I’m referring to the bills,kids, deadlines, bosses, men, family, emails, housework, and the medicaldiagnoses.  Blow them all a kiss as you stare confidently into that mirror andrepeat after me: “I love you!  I love ME!  I LOVE MY LIFE – and all of thePERFECT IMPERFECTIONS that come with it!!”

Yes, there will be days when you’d prefer to sell them all to the gypsiesand start over.  But just remember this: God created you in His likeness.  He loves you just the way you are – and He has more planned for you.  So stopfeeling sorry for yourself, stop beating yourself up, stop wishing you were ina different situation, stop blaming, stop making excuses, and embrace theopportunity to bloom where you’ve been planted.  Because you have an amazingstory waiting to be told – and the world is waiting to hear it.

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Tumbleweed and Dirt

Posted April 7, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

Can I tell you again how much I appreciate you? Knowing that you are coming to dig deeper with me each week energizes me beyond words, and I’m so grateful to know that we are all committed to rise above mediocrity in order to live a life we truly love. Today I’d like to talk about the difference in men and women, and how those differences will affect everything we do, even down to our pursuit of excellence in our quest for that life we love. Yes, we all know that men and women are different, but I think it’s easy to overlook just how different we are. Check out just a few of our common differences, according to relationship expert Dr. Gary Smalley.

Men tend to:

  • Deteriorate physically about 10% every 10 years after age 40
  • Have about 40% of their body weight in muscle
  • Favor the left side of the brain where language and logic operate
  • Be more conquer-oriented and very competitive
  • Be lateral in their thinking, which means they tend to favor one side of their brain at a time
  • Be more interested in facts and information and less aware of relational needs

Women, on the other hand, tend to:

  • Deteriorate physically about 2% every 10 years
  • Have about 20% of their body weight in muscle
  • Be more sensitive to sight and sound
  • Be relationship oriented
  • Be bilateral in thinking, which means they access both sides of the brain simultaneously
  • Favor the right side of the brain, where feelings, nurturing, and the relationship part of life operate

We literally do everything differently. I recently heard about a study discussing the difference between our brains. Apparently, a hormone washes baby boys’ brains in vitro, and this “chemical brain bath” is what causes them to use only one side of their brain at a time (usually the left). This is why men are more apt to focus on one thing at a time, and are better at compartmentalizing than women. This is also why women are generally better multi-taskers and can seem to think about a hundred different things at once. So, if you’ve ever heard me say that men are a simple creature, I don’t mean it insultingly whatsoever. In fact, I mean quite the opposite – I say it out of jealousy. By simple, I don’t mean “unintelligent”; I mean “not complex.” Us women are a complex beast, and if we could only learn not to over-complicate everything, our lives would be much less stressful. If we’re not aware of this phenomenon, our lives can become men vs. women (husbands vs. wives). But that shouldn’t be the case, and this one little insight can be a big relationship saver.

Let me share a personal example of how this scientific differentiation can play out in a normal everyday setting. Girls, tell me if you can relate to this? (Guys, don’t worry…I have James’ permission to share this story.) I’ll often look over at my husband and catch him in a seemingly blank stare. I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve stopped to ask him, “Hey! What are you thinking about over there?” because from my vantage point, there seems to be absolutely nothing going on in his head. Of course that isn’t the case, but we laugh about it, because I’ve jokingly told him on numerous occasions that if we could make a movie of his brain when I catch him in that gaze, it would look like a ghost town from the old west with tumbleweed blowing by. So, we have this running joke that if I ever catch him in that blank stare, I’ll just walk by and make a whirling sound, like dust blowing by, and he’ll snap out of his trance, look over at me, and say “Tumbleweed.” Again, men tend to focus more on one topic at a time, and frequently when I ask him what he’s thinking about, I’ll get a one-word answer in response. Some of his answers have included words like “Football. Movies. Pizza. Money. Maps. Clocks.”

Just to give you one specific example, several years ago we were driving down the road, and I looked over to see him in another one of those thousand-yard stares. This time, when I asked him what he was thinking about, he gave me a one-word answer that left me speechless, and totally embodies the difference between how men and women process information. His answer? “Dirt.” Dirt??? Really? Dirt is what you’re thinking about? How could you possibly put that much focused thought into dirt? But here’s the deal. We were preparing to build some flowerbeds around our house, and we were actually in his truck on the way to check out some home and garden supplies, so thinking about “dirt” was his way of processing our upcoming project. So, strangely enough, I had been thinking about the same thing, just not in so many words. Or, perhaps I should in say more words. Because my train of thought literally was an entire train, and it went something like this: “Ok, Flowerbeds. Gosh, I wonder how much dirt we’ll need. And how many flowers? What about bushes? Guess we’ll need some tools as well…like shovels, rakes, and gloves. We’ll definitely need to consult a garden expert to make sure we’re doing this right…maybe we should have done some more online research first. Hmmm…I wonder how much all of it will cost…and how long will it take us to finish this little project. We’ll probably need to order a pizza later…and we’re gonna need some sunscreen, too…this is gonna be so much fun…I bet we’ll have the best looking flower beds on the whole street!” So, you see, with my entire over-crowded thought train and his word “dirt”, we were actually thinking about the same thing – just as women vs. men.

We really do approach everything differently. We process life differently, so we must understand that we will pursue excellence differently, even when working as a team. Whether it’s tumbleweed and dirt, or an entire train of connected thoughts, we’re still headed in the same direction and working for the same end goal. But if we’re not aware of this critical difference, we can end up at each other’s throats, attacking one another instead of working together. Women can get frustrated and impatient with our men for what looks to us like slow-thinking nothingness. And women, who seem to never stop talking and never sit down, can fluster men. From their vantage point, we can look like the Tasmanian devil, just whirling around from place to place, busy being busy. So, gals, let’s give our guys a break and understand that they’re not necessarily doing or thinking “less” than we are, just differently. And guys, give your girl a hug…with all of that stuff crowding our minds all the time, we could use a big hug just to help us relax!

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Are You a Dropout?

Posted March 31, 2010 by allisonlamarr
Categories: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr…

Are you a dropout? Have you ever quit or dropped out of anything before? Perhaps a more appropriate question would be “How many times have you quit or dropped out of anything in your past?”

Let’s see…in my own personal experience, here’s a list just off the top of my head of the things I can immediately remember quitting along the way. If memory serves me correctly, I was a quitter before I even started kindergarten. I quit ballet during my first season because I didn’t like to hold my leg up for that long during rehearsal. I started and stopped gymnastics multiple times throughout grade school – almost as many times as I quit piano lessons. I quit softball after one season with the Smurfettes in third grade, and I quit band in seventh grade after one season of honking an oboe. I quit choir in the eighth grade – and then again in high school. I dropped out of both Spanish and German, and I even quit the varsity soccer team when my coach wouldn’t let me miss practice during Spring Break of my senior year. (Hmmm…am I missing anything, Mom?) The list of classes, majors, and extra-curricular organizations I dropped out of in college is too long and embarrassing to recount, and the things I’ve quit since college just make me sound old, flaky, and pathetic.

How about you? If you took two minutes and scribbled your list on a piece of paper, how many things have you dropped out of along the way? Many of them may not have crushed your confidence or bruised your belief in yourself – but some of them may have hurt. Do you have any “quits” that you’re still carrying around with you as burdens to this day?

So, what happens if you are a dropout? Is it too late for you, and have you sealed your fate as a failure? NO!! At least, not necessarily. First of all, it’s never too late. Remember, realistic is what you make it. And secondly, if you are a quitter, you can consider yourself in good company. Check out this list of fellow dropouts: Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and Colonel Sanders all dropped out of grade school. Albert Einstein, John D. Rockefeller, and Walt Disney dropped out of high school. Mary Kay Ash and Bill Gates both dropped out of college.

Needless to say, this list of “famous dropouts” didn’t earn their fame until after they dropped out of school. But the important thing to keep in mind is that they didn’t let that label define them or defeat them.

If a typical “unlucky” kid doesn’t make it all the way through college in today’s society, they all-too-often don a “Dropout” status and continue to wear it as a scarlet letter through every job interview and conversation with old friends for the rest of their life.  Shoot, even those of us who do manage to walk the stage, collect our diploma, and switch the tassel to the other side of our cap can just as easily slip into life as just another rat in the race if we’re not super aware and extremely careful about the life-maneuvering steps we take.

So, whether you A) never made it through high school, B) stopped short of a college degree, or C) got the diploma but then dropped in to a humdrum life void of fulfillment, it doesn’t really make a hill-of-beans difference in the grand scheme of things. You dropped out of high school? So what. Didn’t make it through college? Get over it! Stuck in a job (or life) you hate even with a degree? None of that stuff matters – in and of itself. The only thing that matters is this: What are you gonna do about it? As far as I can tell, you’ve really only got two options.

Option #1 – Let it define you, let it defeat you, and resign to live the rest of your life as a failure. Live the rest of your life punishing yourself for choices or situations in your past. Pass down a legacy of limits and labels to your children and their children. But into the lie that this is the hand you’ve been dealt, and you’ve just got to make the best of it. Blame, justify, and complain. Or…

Option #2 – Gain wisdom and insight from it as a lesson learned. See it as an opportunity to reposition yourself. Turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone to climb even higher than you would have reached before. Refuse to settle – decide who you want to become. Write your own success story and live your own legendary tale. Take on the infamous words of Patrick Swayze, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” Or perhaps you could more relate to the fighting words of Patrick Henry, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” Yes, if you want the freedom to live a life of total fulfillment, you must be willing to muster the gumption and push past your pride and fears to fight for it. No one said this would be an easy path, but none of us has ever been guaranteed life on Easy Street.

The bottom line is this: those failures and dropouts along the way don’t have to be you. Maybe you need to go back and earn the degree so that you can claim back your confidence and run your victory lap. Or maybe you don’t need a piece of paper to tell you what you’re worth; maybe you can decide that on your own.

I once heard that “finishing” is a character trait. We all have a track record of quitting in our past, but we don’t have to carry that into our future. Decide to drop the “dropout” status. We can release it today and choose to become finishers from this point forward. Remember, it may take you awhile to build your list of accolades and accomplishments, but you are only one decision away from the person you want to be.

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