Aliveatwork's Blog


Purpose: Are You Being Called to Play a Bigger Game?

The other day I was conversing with a colleague and fellow coach by the name of Barry Zweibel. We’ve been friends and have had a Mastermind of sorts since the day we met about 12 years ago.

We were talking about life in general when Barry, as only Barry can do, pulled out a 2 x 4 and walloped me upside the head with a question that challenged what I believed about my purpose in life. He was challenging me to embrace my purpose at a much higher level.

Now if you asked me, I would tell you that I am living my dream, I love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point in my life (speaking, coaching, and consulting).

But Barry was challenging to go deeper into my purpose and look into the recesses of my heart and soul for any remnants of old beliefs, ideas, or defense mechanisms, that were holding me back.

And of course I found them. I won’t bore you with the details, I will however tell you that I had to search deep in the recesses till I discovered some leftover remnants of good old-fashioned … fear!

Now I’d like to tell you that as a Professional Speaker and Executive Coach that I have overcome all my fears and I am completely self-actualized … but the truth is I am not. I am not perfect, I bump up against things that slow me down and temporarily hold me back. I guess the key words here are slow down (not stop), and temporarily (not permanently).

Fear can cause you to drift from your purpose, it can stop you in your tracks, and it can kill your dreams. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown fear that is evident to you, it can hide in the deep pockets of your mind and actually disguise itself as reason, logic, security, or limited success.

That said I want to share with you a quick way to get out of your fear and moving forward again so you can achieve the level of success you want.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself To Put Fear Behind You:

  1. What am I afraid of losing? Fear is always associated with loss and the quickest way out of fear is to identify the loss.  I refer to these fears that can occupy your mind as Fear FILLERS ™ – Loss of  F-reedom, I-income, L-ife, L-ove, E-go, R-eputation, S-ecurity.
  2. What is the truth? Will I really lose my freedom, life, etc.? Remembering that 93% of the things we fear never happen!
  3. Now that I know the truth, what action do I need to take to move forward.

This a simple process that will take you from a fearful place (emotion) and move you into a more logical place where you can move into action.

So … got any leftover remnants of fear hiding in a corner in your head, heart, or soul?

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10 Things You Need to Know About Purpose …

Every since the beginning of time humans have searched to find their purpose in life.

Thousands of  books have been written and hundreds of thousand of speeches, lectures, and discussions have been given on the topic of purpose.

And yet, how many people do you know, if asked, could succinctly complete the following sentence, “My purpose in life is to …”

So I thought I would share a few insights I have gleaned over the years regarding this life altering topic.

 10 Things I’ve Learned About Purpose:

  1. Without purpose, people drift from one thing to the next or they wake up one day feeling trapped in a situation or place they don’t want to be in.
  2. Purpose leads to clarity and clarity leads to focus … focused energy, focused actions, and focused results … and that leads to happiness.
  3. When a person loses their purpose in life they soon atrophy and their desire to live diminishes. (think about someone you know who retired and lost their desire to live).
  4. Finding your purpose in life doesn’t mean you have to find a cure for cancer or quit your job and move to Africa and work for Feed The Children.
  5. Discovering your purpose begins with being crystal clear about your strengths, talents, gifts, and brilliance and then showing up with them in all you do.
  6. You will never find your purpose in life if you spend your time watching Honey Boo-Boo, Redneck Island, Pawn Stars and the other garbage on TV.
  7. You will know you’re on the right path if when you embrace your talents, strengths, and gifts and others begin to consistently recognize you for them.
  8. The number one cause of Death of Purpose is fear … fear of success, failure, loss, dying, surviving, disappointing, poverty, etc.
  9. The single most important factor in finding your purpose is Belief, believing that you were put here on this earth for a reason and discovering that reason needs to be the number one priority in your life. Living out your purpose needs to be the second priority.
  10. Discovering your purpose is an inside job, it already exists inside of you, you just have to clear out the old beliefs, lies, and junk that are preventing you from seeing it.

Need a kick start?

Go online an order the StrengthsFinder  2.0 book by Tom Rath. It contains an assessment that will give you your top five strengths. It is extremely accurate and will start you on your path of discovery.

Obviously the list is incomplete, feel free to add your wisdom in the comment section

One last question: So … how would you complete the sentence, “My purpose in life is to …”



How Do You Solve A Problem Like …

At any given time in life we are all faced with problems and challenges.

It’s a fact … you can’t navigate through life and avoid having problems.

Problems will come no matter how hard you wish them away. What you believe about problems and the actions you take as a result of your beliefs will determine your level of happiness as well as your ability to work through them towards a solution.

That said … here are 6 lessons I have learned about problems:

  1. Whatever problem you are experiencing … chances are someone else is dealing with one that would make your problem look like a sneeze in comparison.
  2. While it is our inclination to immediately try to resolve the problem, sometimes it is best to sit in it for a short spell. Why? Just to make sure you are understand and address the cause of the problem and not just the symptom(s).
  3. You can ignore a problem and bury your head in the sand. However, it is just a matter of time before it rears its ugly head  again. Only this time the head will be a little bigger and a lot uglier.
  4. At some point after sitting in a problem (for too long) and not coming up with a solution – the only way out is to take the focus off of yourself and serve others. Self-centered-ness can lead to depression.
  5. You can change your perspective on problems by asking yourself, “What can I learn from this experience? and “How can I benefit from what I am learning?”
  6. If the problem exists … the solution exists simultaneously … you just might not be able to recognize it in the moment. Step back, breathe, and walk away for awhile. When you come back there is a good chance you will see things in a different light and the solution (which may have been there all along) will be more evident.
  7. (Your turn … fill in the blank)

Obviously the list is incomplete. Maybe a great question to ask at this point would be … “So what lessons have you learned from your problems?”

Would you be willing to share your wisdom with the rest of us?

Who knows,  your wisdom might just influence someone who needs a little help today and besides we’d love to hear from you!



Faux Praise … Faux Pas
November 8, 2012, 6:45 am
Filed under: Aliveness, Authentic Leadership, Joe Contrera | Tags: , , ,

Much has been written on the positive effect that praise can have on a person.

Whether it’s an employee, coworker, or your children, healthy praise can help a person to feel good.

Yet there doesn’t seem to be as much written about the negative impact that false praise can have on an individual. This typically happens when the intent is to manipulate or to selfishly serve the needs of the person who is giving praise.

Recently I listened to an audio book written by Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) in 1938 entitled, Outwitting the Devil. It was held back from publication for 73 years because of what Hill wrote about the the church, the government, and the media. It was finally released in 2011 at a time when the challenges our country was facing in 1938 are eerily similar to those we are challenged with today.

In a later chapter Hill writes that one of the most powerful ways a person can drift  from their definite purpose in life and get off-course is if they have an inflated desire for praise and admiration. Hill labeled it as the ego of men and the vanity of women (the word metrosexual wasn’t invented yet).

Now regardless of whether or not you believe Hill is being sexist, the point here is that faux (fake) praise can lead you down a path to faux pas (mistakes).

Think about it … if a person’s sense of self worth and value is tied to external factors such as praise and admiration from others, they are setting themselves up to be redirected by those same outside factors. Some of the greatest con men who ever lived used faux praise as a powerful tool to mislead their victims.

So what about you? How is praise impacting your life?

3 Things Ask Yourself About Praise:

  1. Do I seek praise from others (external) so that I can feel a sense of sense of self worth and value (internal)? Granted everyone needs a pat on the back. However, if you don’t feel valuable on the inside nothing anybody can say from the outside will give your life meaning.
  2. Do I feel a differently when I receive praise from someone of the opposite sex?  Yes, we all like praise, but if you get a much bigger buzz off of a compliment from the opposite sex you might want to pay attention and ask yourself why?
  3. Do I ever give praise in order to manipulate others so that I can get what I want? A good rule of thumb here is to give praise to an individual with no strings attached. Simply give them the compliment and walk away. Hanging around and then asking for something in return will give the other person a sense that they are being manipulated.

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you’re sincere, praise is effective. If you’re insincere, it’s manipulative.”

And that’s all I have to say about that!



Socrates, Plato, and Puppies …

When you think about the great philosophers, who comes to mind?

Aristotle, Socrates, Epicurus, Confucius, Contrera???

Wait a minute, hold the phone, stop the presses, kill the power!!!!

Contrera??? What impact did he have on the world?

While the likes of Socrates and Plato may have changed the way we view the world, it is our personal philosophy that determines how happy we are in our current world.

Why? Because your personal philosophy is simply the culmination of your beliefs. What you believe about money, relationships, education, government, success, love, etc. determines the actions you take and therefore the results that you get. If you aren’t getting the results you want in your life … chances are you’re probably not all that happy.

What you choose to believe today,  in this moment,  has a far greater impact on your life than than what Socrates  may have said 2,480 years ago.

So what is your personal philosophy? What choices are you making in your life?

Below are 3 situations and 3 possible reactions that may help you to gain some clarity on your own personal philosophy:

1. When someone you love makes a mistake do you: A) Get angry and tell them to get there act together. B) Say “don’t worry about it, we all make mistakes.” C) Say “don’t worry about it, everyone makes mistakes” and then spend the next hour lecturing them on how they could avoid making mistakes in the future?

2. If someone shares bad news about a person that you really don’t like do you: A) Think to yourself … good they deserve what they get. B) Think to yourself even though you are not fond of them you still hope they are okay. C) Think to yourself better them than me!

3. When your driving and someone cuts you off do you: A) Slam on the horn and yell an obscenity. B) Smile and let it go. C) Yell, smile and give them the finger as you pass them.

If you answered B to all of the questions than chances are you have a healthy personal philosophy and are reasonably happy. If you answered everything but B to all 3 questions you might ask yourself … how’s that working for you? Are you truly happy?

Sometimes happiness comes down to having a personal philosophy that is based on enjoying the simple things in life and letting go of all the things that create frustration, angst, and that you don’t control .

Maybe the great philosopher Charles Schultz (the creator of Charlie Brown) was right when he said …

“Happiness is a warm puppy!”

I guess if you can’t lick ’em  … might as well join ’em!