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Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

Opening to Life

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

These few words are enough, if not these words, this breath…
If not this breath, this sitting
This opening to the life we have refused
again and again until now. Until now.
In this moment of epiphany
This opening to the life we have refused
again and again
until NOW”
{By David Whyte}

What opening have you refused? Are you ready to open to your life?

Now is the time to open to life, again, and again, and again.

{Photo taken by Mary Anne Flanagan}

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Lead With Passion

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Great leadership demands passion.

Passion is a quality that projects vitality, joy, and enthusiasm for all the tasks at hand.  If leaders can show their passion in an authentic way, then the effect will show to the rest of the team and the result can be profound.

Passion is the way you show what you think of your job, and your role.  If you are passionate, your team will know that you care about your job, and that gives them high hope that they can care about their jobs too.

I discovered a long time ago that I loved being a leader.  And so, showing passion was never a problem.  I went into my workdays full of positive energy and feeling like I had the best job on earth.

Did it make a difference? Yes, it did.

When I received feedback about my leadership, the most fulfilling comments were the ones along the lines of “you really inspired me with your energy and enthusiasm“.

Great leadership demands passion.

It’s also a very personal thing to put yourself “out there” like that – it can put you in a vulnerable position.  That’s why passion isn’t a trait you see in every leader.

It takes some fortitude to bring emotions to the surface like that, but the benefits are well worth the risk.

And besides, passion brings something else into play that goes beyond leadership – an enjoyment of life.

Great leadership demands passion.


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My Creative Process (on a Napkin?)

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Some of my most productive meetings have taken place in bodegas, street corners, coffee shops, and at times, the ladies room. I have found that engaging in visionary conversations is easier when in it’s in an informal environment. Everyone, including myself, lets their guard down. Informal meetings and conversations have provided many rich and vulnerable exchanges.

Capturing my most creative ideas happens the same way – in free-spirited places and with inspiring people. I write my ideas on whatever is in my pocket – my iPhone, a business card, a napkin, my hand, a notebook. It’s fun to have to translate various scribbled notes on papers stuffed in my pockets or in my bag. Years ago, I had a boss in the South Bronx who drafted his best ideas and proposal outlines on paper towels or napkins. When he had an idea, he wanted to make sure he captured it. I remember many meetings with his ideas scrolled out on paper towels.

Twenty years later, and I still find myself writing ideas and notes on napkins. I love capturing my creativity in the moment with whatever is at hand. I know there are many good ‘apps’ that would probably work just as good as the napkin method. Then again, maybe it’s time for a napkin app.

How do you capture your best ideas? What is your creative process?

And if you see me, I may just need to borrow a scrap paper or napkin.

Mary Anne

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Failure That Matters

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

The author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields recently posted a blog, Why Failure Must Be on the Table, which describes the experiences of failures as gateways to opportunities. He writes, “Entrepreneurship–or any process that seeks to evolve the status quo–requires you to regularly test commonly held limits and beliefs. The natural outcome of this is that sometimes you’re right, other times you’re wrong. Either way, you never know until you get out of your head and take action in the world.

The potential not just for failure, but failure that matters, failure you feel, must be on the table. If it’s not, then what you’re setting out to do is either so safe or so devoid of the potential for impact that success might allow you to check a box on a piece of paper, but beyond that, nobody’ll care. Including you.”

We must know that what we are embarking on has the capacity to fail and yet give us as entrepreneur’s incredible lessons to grow and stretch. It’s the learning process and taking the leap that distinguishes the success stories to the stories that never get told. At times, it may feel like ‘a leap of faith’ but it brings us closer to the edges of our dreams. We push ourselves and do it afraid, because not doing it is more painful – and we fail ourselves.

Fields adds in his blog, “So, yes, living, acting and deciding to move forward in the face of potential failure isn’t easy. Especially when it requires you to go all in. And especially later in your lifecycle when you’ve got more on the line. To risk success in art, in business, in love, in life is, indeed, a bit terrifying.

But really, what’s the alternative?”

What is the alternative? Take the risk – and be willing to leap into failure that matters.

Mary Anne

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Are You Listening?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Are you listening to the voice calling within?

Are you listening to the voice asking you to stretch?

Are you listening to the voice that is dreaming bigger?

Are you listening to the voice challenging you to be bold?

Are you listening to the voice declaring that you are ready?

Are you listening to the voice reminding you to do it afraid?

Are you listening to the voice that recognizes you are growing?

Are you listening to the voice that says now is the time to start?

Are you listening to the voice that is telling you to take that big leap?

Are you listening?

Mary Anne

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12 Books for 2012

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Here is my list of 12 books I have on my reading list for 2012 – Enjoy!

1.  Man Seeks God – My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner

2.  Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd

3.  Cleopatra – A Life by Stacy Schif

4.  Onward by Howard Schultz

5.  Me by Ricky Martin

6.  Just Kids by Patti Smith

7.  Blue Nights by Joan Didion

8. What the Buddha Taught
by Walpola Rahula

9.  A Moveable Feast 
by Ernest Hemmingway

10. Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1
by Naguib Mahfouz

11. Invoking the Scribes of Ancient Egypt

by Normandi Ellis and Gloria Taylor Brown

12. YOU CHOOSE! What other book is a MUST read for 2012?

As you can see from my list, I enjoy books about traveling, spirituality, memoirs, and of course, stories about Egypt. Happy New Year~

Mary Anne

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Better Than the Great American Novel

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I picked up a copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I am often hesitant to pick up writing books because I am afraid they will be telling me all the things I am doing wrong as a writer. As I opened to the preface, I read, “Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.” The words went right (and write) in. The next thing I knew, I was highlighting page after page and phrase after phrase. I was so lost in the book, I even missed my train stop coming into work. I found myself smiling, underlining paragraphs, breathing slower, and grabbing pen and paper to jot some writing ideas down.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. Could I really write “the Great American Novel?” In many ways, I already have. I have published three years worth of blog posts that include stories, poems, antidotes, and meditations. It is my great American novel. I just keep writing, even when it sounds like gibberish. I have come to discover that it is the processes and the practices that have been the real jewels in my life.

As Goldman says, “Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run.” Do it anyway. And keep doing it.

It’s time to color outside the lines and write beyond the page margins. It takes practice. It takes trusting the voice inside. It takes giving ourselves permission and space to create. It takes embracing all that is around us. Anything we take deep enough will take us to the very place we are longing to go and grow.

What is your Great American Novel that is bursting to come forth? As Goldberg says, “Once you connect with your mind, you are who you are and you’re free.”

Keep going, creating, and drafting-

Mary Anne

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Listening to Fear

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

If fear asks, let love answer. {Morning Meditation}

Last week, I kept waking up with a sense of fear. I had no idea why I was feeling it or where it came from. In the past when I have felt this way, it has meant some big shift is happening. I noticed that I was allowing the fear to flow through me. I picked up my journal with some Byron Katie quotes so I could question my thoughts about fear (The Work).

“Question your mind – then terror and fear turn into gratitude.”

“Open the mind, and the heart opens.”

“You can’t do it wrong. That’s not possible.”

I finished reading the quotes and asked fear to show me what I needed to learn – show me the gift of fear. I realized I was willing to allow fear to be my teacher (Should be interesting homework assignments!).

As I left for work, I turned on my iPod and the song, Not Afraid, by Eminem was playing.
I’m not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you’re not alone
Holla if you feel that you’ve been down the same road

Fear may rise up and love may greet it.
Mary Anne

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Lessons from Lady GaGa

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Lady GaGa stages an incredible live performance. Her shows combine music with theater and cinematic experiences. In between her singing and dancing, Lady GaGa shares positive messages throughout her entire show. “When you leave here, love yourself even more” she shouted to the crowd. Lady GaGa reminded everyone in her audience that we all feel insecure, but that we are perfect the way we are. Her message to all of us was to be ourselves.

As I looked around the audience, I noticed many young people listening to every word she was saying. There were some young people who had tears coming down their cheeks and were full of emotion at her positive messages. I too joined in with tears when GaGa finished her concert with her song, Born This Way. I started singing the song and then I choked up at the lyrics:

Don’t hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Even as an adult, it was nice to be reminded to not hide. As Lady GaGa reminded the audience many times, “There is nothing wrong with you.”

“Just love yourself and you’re set.”

The journey is about remembering and living from self-love every day.

Mary Anne

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What Are Your Thoughts on Reciprocity?

Friday, January 21st, 2011

“There is an ebb and flow, a giving and receiving inherent in all life forms. When you tap into the cycle of reciprocity you are relating and connecting in a universal exchange that simultaneously occurs within you, with others and with the wider universe.

We choose the words, actions, and beliefs to share with our self and others, creating a constant ripple effect in our world.” ~A Course in the Heart of Life, Judy Kinney

I was reading my course work from an on-line class I am taking, “A Course in the Heart of Life” and the word reciprocity jumped off the page. I have spent the past week sending numerous emails to an organization that was unyielding in their refund policy. Once I got past my rants of anger, I realized it was about reciprocity. The situation was about a fair exchange. Everything in life is an exchange. We flow from a place of giving and receiving and when that comes out of balance, we come out of balance.

Reciprocity is how we create and move forward. It’s an exchange of energy of love with our self and others. It creates community. And when it is out of alignment, it separates us and creates fear (and anger/resentment). And for me, reciprocity puts relationships over results and makes for greater contributions in the world.

What are your thoughts on reciprocity?

Mary Anne

P.S. The outcome of the refund situation is that I have agreed to take a larger refund with the understanding that I will be taken off the organization’s list and not invited to any future events/conferences.

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