People frequently ask me “How do you do it?” – meaning, since I’m totally blind, how do I do all I do – speak, coach, practice law, serve on boards, invest in real estate, how do I pick out clothes, dress myself, and , yes, even, how do I pick up my Seeing Eye dog’s poop. Because, yes, I do that too – no matter how successful you think you are, there’s always sh*t to shovel and to keep you humble.
Do you want to know the secret to my success? It’s simple, but admittedly not always easy. Here it is… I finally allowed myself to OPEN to life.
These are what I call the four master keys to happiness and success. They are interrelated and interdependent concepts – you can’t have just one, you’ve got to have them all working together. Focusing on these four master keys unleashed my true potential and allowed me to tap into the power of the human spirit. Once I accessed the power of the human spirit – something we all possess, but don’t always know how to access, I was unstoppable and couldn’t help but to be the best and most purposeful me I could be. I don’t believe everyone can do what I do; just as I can’t do everything everyone else can do. But, I do deeply and undoubtedly believe that each of us has a best, highest purpose that we can reach only by opening to life and tapping into the tremendous power of the human spirit.
The moment I realized my vision loss would affect my life, I understandably sank into a deep, dark, lonely and seemingly endless depression. I thought going blind meant I would never have or experience all the things I wanted – love, happiness, freedom, independence, success. And without those things, I thought what’s the point of life? I didn’t just lose my sight, I lost all hope and vision of a future. I disengaged from everything – family, friends, my studies, my hobbies – everything.
You see, after three years of depression and several more years of being socially and emotionally withdrawn, I was tired. So tired, that I was fed up and tired of being tired. I realized that I had a monumental choice – to test what was actually possible or to simply accept what I feared was true; a choice to go out and live and experience what it really meant for me to be blind and discover all I was capable of achieving or to be consumed by fear and just lay down and die. Everyone has this choice.
I chose to live. I chose to open the door and open myself to life. Why not? I had nothing and therefore nothing to lose. Allowing myself to open and rediscover myself and the world was not only liberating, it was a total game-changer. And, guess what? I proved my fears wrong on every level.
Happiness and success is not just for me; they are for you, too. Of course, your success and happiness is unique to you, and, inevitably, will look different than mine. But, it is your happiness and success and you not only deserve it, but can have it.
Here’s the quick rundown on what it means to OPEN:
Outlook is how you choose to see yourself, situations, other people and the world. By shifting your outlook, you change your world and how you live in it. Selecting an outlook that enables you to realistically see your strengths, gifts, talents, challenges, flaws as well as the strengths, gifts, talents, challenges, flaws in other people and in situations, empowers you to break free from limitations (either self-imposed or so called societal norms) and connect with what’s truly possible.
Plan is having a goal and working your way, step-by-step, toward that goal. The magic comes in choosing the right goal for you. Unfortunately, many people have the wrong goal in mind and may get to where they set out to go, but never really get what they want. That’s why setting and connecting with the right goal is critical. Also, having a plan doesn’t mean you rigidly follow one step after the other because you will encounter detours and obstacles. Having a plan with the right end goal, helps and motivates you to always stay on course – even when you detour.
Education – Education is much more than formal academic education and technical skill and expertise. Education is the continual acquisition of knowledge and understanding about yourself, other people and the world. You’ve got to consciously know what you know, recognize what you don’t know and be aware and eager to discover the areas that you don’t even know you don’t know. Right education is a balance of technical skill and training, self-awareness, self-discovery, curiosity, reflection and emotional intelligence.
Network – There are two major parts of networking- your own personal support network and your broader communication network. The latter generally gets the most attention – it’s who you know. But, you’ve got to know who you are before you can effectively network because it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you and for what. The second part of network is identifying your core support team. These are the people who teach, advise, guide, challenge, comfort and cheerlead you. An effective support network usually consists of a combination of friends, family, mentors and professional expert consultants.
That’s the secret to my success. Obviously, there is a lot more detail on each of the master keys and how to use them in your own life (that’s what I talk about in my speeches and work on with my private coaching clients), but this is the essence of it. SO, how open are you now? And, how much more room is there for you to OPEN further?