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-by Matt Leedham

As many of you know, I injured my back in early May while on the road (in case you were wondering, the ‘regulars’ at Northwestern Memorial ER in Chicago are quite charming). Since that time, I’ve had knee pain and neck pain, and three days ago re-aggravated my back injury. As a result, I’ve needed to take a fair amount of narcotics to ease the pain and the muscle spasms, as well as visit a handful of health professionals including orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and chiropractors (I’ll also be giving acupuncture a run soon).

Regardless of the practitioner I am visiting on any given day, I hear two things that are always the same. Whether it’s the physician, the surgeon, the chiropractor, or the therapist, they take one look at my back and say 1) that I’m ‘misaligned’ and, 2) that my back is ‘not happy.’

Seriously, they say my back is ‘not happy.’ I’m not sure if that’s a medical term they learned in their extensive studies of the human body, but that that’s the term they use. And I’m not poking fun at this term as it very accurately describes what’s going on. I mean, my back is NOT happy. I can tell just by looking in the mirror. My spasms are so bad on the lower left side of my body that my muscles are pulling my spine that way – it looks like an “S” shape. It’s actually quite alarming when you see it for the first time – just ask my wife!

So, as I lay there for hours with heat packs or getting an excruciating deep tissue massage, or am all tangled up in a ridiculous traction machine that pulls my spine apart to relieve pain, I can’t help but notice some similarities between my ‘misaligned’ back and our clients ‘misaligned’ lives. More specifically, if someone is not ‘in alignment,’ this often results in them being ‘not happy.’

When it comes to goal setting, life planning, and dream catching, your own personal alignment is critical or you will not be happy no matter how much you accomplish. There are three components in your life that need to be in alignment to sustain happy progression toward a better life. They are:

  1. Core Values. Everyone has core values, but most people are unaware of them or have not taken the time to define them with great clarity.
  2. Personal Vision. We find that most people have not clearly defined a future for themselves, however when they do, it must align completely with their core values. To define a vision for the future that is contradictory to any or all of your core values is to set yourself up for unhappiness.
  3. Interim Goals. The 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year goals that you set for yourself need to be directly tied to making progress on your Personal Vision and should be reflective of your Core Values.

True alignment among these three components in your life will have you engaging in activities that relevant and productive to both who you are and where you want to go.

Be Authentic

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– by Matt Leedham

Authenticity is an interesting word, but an even more fascinating concept. It has Greek roots from autos “self” + hentes “doer, being.” You could interpret this as “being yourself.”

The first step to being yourself is knowing yourself. Have you asked yourself why you are where you are in life? Why you have the things you have? A few years ago, I really started to notice that question pop up in my head. Why did I go to college? Why did I study Sociology? How did I end up in this career path with these possessions? Was it intentional or was it a result of expectations of other people, one after another, that has led me here? Or worse yet, was it a result of pressure from that amorphous group of “other people,” our society, that has led me here.

I started asking myself the tough questions. I started getting myself aligned. I reflected and defined my core values, and then to took the time to ensure my personal vision and the goals I set were in alignment with those core values.

So, if the first step is knowing who you are, the second step must be “doing what you are.” As Seth Godin says in his post on authenticity, “you could spend your time wondering if what you say you are is really you. Or you could just act like that all the time.” Well said! As we know, actions speak louder than words.

Let go of preconceived categories and labels of what you should be. Reflect on who you are. But most importantly, ACT on what you are. That is being authentic.

Thoughts? Questions? Use the comment section below.

Be Strong

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– by Matt Leedham

“You are only as strong as your purpose, therefore let us choose reasons to act that are big, bold, righteous and eternal.” – Barry Munro

Quick disclaimer: I typically research the quotes I use to be sure that proper credit is given. However, I have Googled and Wiki’ed the heck out of Barry Munro and cannot seem to find a note or description of who this person is or when he said this, but he is credited in multiple locations for this quote. If you have information on Mr. Munro, leave a comment!

Regardless of who Barry Munro is, his words are important to those that seek to set meaningful goals in their lives. In fact, it is perfectly aligned with my post from last week (Dare to be Powerful). The point being, all of us have the potential to be as powerful, strong, and influential as we want to be…all in service of our purpose and vision.

Munro goes on to say “let us choose reasons to act that are big, bold, righteous and eternal.” Don’t be confused. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t think this means that you need to be the next Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa. Your purpose doesn’t need to be ending world hunger, or stopping social genocide (although, hooray for you if it is!). We all have the ability to be strong in our own personal sphere of influence.

Your purpose from which you choose to act may be building a strong family, helping those in your community, sharing your thoughts and creativity with the world, bringing people together collaboratively, or being a great friend to those around you. Whatever your purpose may be, chose reasons to act that are BIG and bold. You might just be surprised how strong you really are.

Please share your thoughts on purpose in the comment section below.