“Forgetting what you are not enables you to remember what you are”

-A Course in Miracle

I sometimes wonder if we’re hardwired to hate discipline. I think exercising discipline is to adults what eating veggies are to kids… we do it because it’s good for us. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it!! And we’ll try anything to get out of it!

It wasn’t until my interviews with women who make millions that I had a stunning realization. The key to disciplined action is disciplined thinking.

When I shifted my focus from making myself do something to monitoring my thoughts, my behavior changed (almost) automatically.

I started using a technique I call Constructive Denial. That meant I began consciously and deliberately denying any limiting beliefs, irrational fears or feelings of inferiority about how small, inadequate or inconsequential I was.  As a Course in Miracles explains: “Denial is as capable of being used positively as well as negatively.”

For instance, when that voice in my head says (as it often does) “you don’t have what it takes to do that!” instead of caving in, I come back with, “Thanks for sharing, but I absolutely DO have what it takes.” That one retort dramatically reduces my resistance to taking action.

That’s what these successful women told me they did. They carefully observed their conversations (internal and external), making sure they didn’t lapse into—or catching themselves when they did—automatic self depreciatory or negative patterns.

As a long time mega earner explained to me, “You have to remind yourself: I’m OK. I have strengths. It’s hard. But you have to!”

They made themselves focus on their strengths and successes, talk about their achievements, and reaffirm their value to themselves.  They were constantly giving themselves pep talks, and repeating positive affirmations.

I found a terrific affirmation in a fabulous book called The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel: “I am that which I will to be.”  When I feel stuck, scared or small, I repeat that phrase, followed by “I have everything it takes to be a stellar success,” or “I am bursting with creative ideas for my next blog”.  Then I act as if it’s true.  It may seem contrived. But it actually works.

I suspect a lot of you do the same thing. Share your affirmations by adding a comment below.

Oh, the irony of it all.

I haven’t blogged in awhile.   And I’ve got a good reason—I’ve been really busy. I mean, I was preparing for my first Sacred Success Retreat.  I had house guests visiting. I flew to California for my grandson’s 6th birthday.  Yada, yada, yada…..

But you wanna know the real truth? I went oblivious to what I’d been blogging about—DISCIPLINE. I wasn’t making myself do what I needed to do, when I needed to do it….because I bought into my excuses. I actually believed them!!

Excuses are to discipline what cheating is to diets…a sure fire way to undermine your success by letting yourself off the hook.

And we all do it. We make a commitment. Stuff comes up. We get side tracked. It comes with the territory. Discipline isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being persistent.

As of today, I’m making it official. I’m getting back on the Discipline Train. And I’m inviting any of you who’ve fallen off (you know who you are!) to join me.

What that means to me is that I’m back to writing regular blogs. I’d love to hear what it means for you.

“Self discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think you can’t control what you do.”

~~Napoleon Hill

In Sacred Success™,  discipline is far less about doing and all about thinking. Mental discipline paves the way to disciplined action.

When you discipline your thoughts—ridding yourself of any self depreciation, pessimism, or worry— disciplined action becomes so much easier that it may even feel effortless.

I was struck, during my interviews with women making millions, how fiercely—to the point of obsession—they practiced Mental Discipline.

For example, one woman told me: “I don’t use the word ‘can’t’. And I started fining my employees a dollar who did”

Virtually every woman I interviewed  consciously and deliberately monitored the words that went into her head and out of her mouth, in all areas of life.  These women were so vigilant, that what started as a discipline, eventually became a habit. That’s just the way it works!

There are 4 specific forms of mental discipline I want to share with you: constructive denial; creative separation; situational reframing; and strategic thinking.

I’ll be blogging about each one, right here. If you have any to add, I’m all ears!

Finding your purpose is one thing. Pursuing it is another.  And that’s where the “D” word comes in. You know, Discipline.

Oy…I can almost feel you recoil at the very mention. “Not the ‘D’ word…anything but that!”

Hear me out.  Discipline has gotten a bum rap.  Discipline is not a means of punishment. It’s actually the source of pleasure, the essence of power and  the path to Greatness.

Think of it this way. Discipline comes from the latin word ‘disciple,’ and means ‘being a disciple unto oneself.’  Discipline asks you to become your own biggest fan, viewing yourself in the very best light, being kind to yourselves when things don’t go well, doing what needs to be done, as best as you can.

Discipline is Step #3 of Sacred Success™. And it’s especially important to women.

In  my interviews with high earners, I noticed that success tends to be a very emotional process.  Unlike men, we haven’t  been groomed for greatness.

Practically every woman I interviewed made the same observation. In the world of work,  men assume they’re competent,  feel entitled, and tend to risk big.   Women assume they’re inadequate, feel apprehensive and tend to hold back.

So many aspiring women, especially in the beginning, described  feeling:

  • guilt (Do I really have a right to this?)
  • doubt (Can I handle it? Am I on the right path?)
  • fear (Am I doing it right? Will I fail?)

For many, these questions are like quicksand, keeping us stuck, sucking  us under.

What I wanted to know was what enabled the most successful ones to keep going higher? The answer became obvious—the “D” word .

I’m going to talk more about discipline in blogs to come. I’ll tell you about 4 techniques that are anything but traditional. But now I’d love to hear from you. What’s your reaction to the “D” word?

Whoa…I must have struck a chord.  Since I announced my Sacred Success™ retreat, I’ve been flooded with emails…most saying the same thing: “I wish I knew my purpose, but…..”I’ve found that, among those women not reaching the success they desire or the fulfillment they crave, most have only a vague idea of their purpose, if that.   A lack of purpose can be disheartening. Having one, however, is positively galvanizing. This is the work of Step #2.  This is the essence of Sacred Success™. As I learned from women  who make millions—a woman with a purpose is  a force to be reckoned with. I’ve been blessed. I’ve known my purpose for 30 years—to empower women. But for those of you wishing to find—or redefine—yours, let me give you some ideas on where to look, based on my own experience.

1.  In Past Pain

I had a line in my book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming, that my editor cut because she considered it corny. “In our deepest pain, lies our highest purpose.” I’m not sure our life purpose has to come from pain, but it’s a good place to start looking. What’s been your most painful challenge in life?

2.  In World Problems

Someone once asked me, way back in graduate school: “If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change on this planet?” I knew immediately: liberate women to work as equals among men (mind you, it was the 70s!). Right after that, I got a job at the Women’s Center on campus, helping women re-entering the workforce. That started the trajectory that’s led me to where I am today.  Look around…what  global problem do you feel super-strongly about? How could you contribute to the solution?

3.  In Childhood Play

When I was little, I always played school with my sisters. Of course, I was the teacher. Later, I organized a neighborhood camp, me being the sole counselor. As I grew older, I dreamt of becoming a college professor. I had babies instead. As we look back at the tapestry of our lives, it’s easy to spot certain threads that continually repeat, displaying an unwavering pattern holding clues to our purpose.  What did you love to play as a kid?

4.  In Secret fantasies

You know, those pipe-dreams you’ve never told anyone about…because they’re so absurd, it’s embarrassing. Mine was to be a rock star (oh god, it’s true).  Once, someone asked me: “If you could have anyone’s job, who would you be?”  That was easy.  Neil Diamond.  When he asked me why, the words just slipped out: “I want to write my songs and sing them.” This phrase so resonated, I’ve let it guide me through a myriad of careers. OK, so I can’t carry a tune.  But I’ve managed to write my songs (books) and sing (teach) them.  If you could have anyone’s job, who would YOU be?

5.  In this video blog

This just came to me while writing this blog, so naturally I had to include it. My good friend and wise minister, Richard Rogers, offers a foolproof suggestion for finding your purpose. Watch his video – “What’s Your Purpose?”

There’s other ways to figure out your purpose. I’d love to hear how you’ve pinpointed yours.

“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”

–Joan of Arc

I wonder… had  Joan of Arc lived today, would she be raking in millions, rather than racing into battles?  She sounds like every mega-high-earner I interviewed (albeit more pithy and eloquent).

They all  possessed an almost divine sense of mission, a fire in their belly, a transpersonal commitment to something larger than themselves.

A powerful purpose seemed to be the prelude to making millions…and the basis for Step #2 of Sacred Success™: Pursue Your Highest Purpose based on Your Deepest Truths.

Much as Joan of Arc discovered centuries ago, a strong sense of purpose creates an almost unwavering perseverance, in a way that money alone never would.

Whenever these high earners were scared, stymied, or faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they immediately went back to their higher purpose.

As a multi-million dollar earner said to me, “When in doubt, I revisit my mission. Why am I here?”

But there’s also another reason why step 2 is so important. Having a higher purpose fosters a life of balance.  There’s a significant difference between drive and addiction. Drive comes from a vision that nourishes one’s soul and enriches one’s life. Addiction arises from fear-based beliefs such as scarcity, inadequacy, and shame, and it inevitably leads to burn out .

Most high earners eventually figured this out. As one young woman told me, “I had a massive inner critic and I pushed myself until I broke down.” Then she said, “I did lots of self improvement work and figured out how to achieve my dream without killing myself.”

In those words, she gives us the key to finding your highest purpose. It takes personal work, a great deal of self reflection.  I’ll talk more about this in my next blog.

I’ve talked a lot about surrender in this blog.  I actually thought I was done with this first step of Sacred Success™ last April. But surrender unfolds at it’s own pace. It can’t be rushed. Though, Lord knows, I’ve tried.

Just this past week, waiting for my daughter to give birth, I’ve experienced a whole new level of–and whole new lesson in–surrender.

I flew to California just before her due date, July 8th, putting my life on hold to be present for the delivery.  She’d be having her baby at home and I wasn’t about to miss it. Nor were her sisters who came from their respective towns, or her father who traveled from a foreign country.

The first few days were exciting…a family splintered by geography gathered to welcome a new member to the tribe.  But after a week, the waiting began to wear thin as we dangled in a limbo of uncertainty. No one felt it more than the mother-to-be. She became  a bundle  of  frayed nerves,  seriously doubting if  there’d ever really be a baby,  sure she’d let everyone down by being late, feeling helpless and out of control.

The metaphor was inescapable. This is what I’d been feeling this past year.  Which is precisely what the first step to Sacred Success™ is all about: waiting to give birth. Since last December, when I started my sabbatical,  I’ve been dangling in a limbo of uncertainty,  consciously relinquishing control, impatiently questioning if  I’d ever be productive again, wondering what other people were thinking of me.

Fast forward to this July. At the very moment the uncertainty became almost unbearable, (as it always will)  I got a message from the Universe…literally. I subscribe to a daily email called TUT… A Note from the Universe tut.com. Out of the blue, came these cosmic instructions for surviving and thriving during a period of surrender:

“So what if you don’t have it yet, barbara?

It’s coming. You’re gonna get it. You’re gonna love it. And then you’re gonna forget there was ever a time when you didn’t have it.

Learning to be happy while you wait, barbara, is worth learning. And to help learn this, just keep yourself busy.”

And now, days after the birth of my granddaughter, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time we didn’t have her. I wonder if I’ll feel the same about the next phase of my career, whatever it may be?? I’ll tell you one thing, I’m determined to enjoy the wait, keeping myself busy changing diapers!!!