Should you be meditating?

By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on February 4th 2016 on



“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”  - Zen proverb

Should you be meditating?

The short answer is yes. Yes, yes, and yes. And in case that wasn’t clear, yes.

The long answer is: contrary to popular belief, meditation is not just a health trend like kale smoothies and spin class (not that there’s anything wrong with those things).

Meditation is a necessity.

This is a fact that has been acknowledged and practiced by other cultures for centuries, but only recently has there been published research that has encouraged the Western culture to embrace it in the same way.

For one thing, meditation increases your capacity for happiness and empathy. By engaging the brain through meditation, you have the ability to change, re-wire, and optimize your neurochemistry. This was shown when NYU researcher Zoran Josipovic conducted a study of the brains of Buddhist monks during meditation. The fMRI results revealed that their brain activation was at a level never documented before.

As shared by Richard J. Davidson, this full throttle brain activation can be attributed to an effect that is similar to how a dancer’s performance is enhanced by practicing dance. Meaning, meditation enhances your brain in the same way practice enhances performance. Davidson’s research also confirms that mediation creates neuroplasticity in the brain, which opens the door to more compassion, joy, and empathy. It also helps us to clear obstacles that keeps us from building valuable connections.

In short, "Meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree," says Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard. "It completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are.”

And it does this in all the right ways, I might add.  I have practiced Transcendental Meditation for 4 years and after a recent retreat at the Chopra Center, I am reminded of why I think meditation must be made a priority.

It is good to note that meditation is not about spiritual attainment or setting quiet time aside for yourself (though both will likely happen as a result). Meditation is also not about becoming more wealthy, popular or cool (though I’ve never heard of anyone becoming poor, disliked, or unsexy because they meditate, either).

For me, meditation is about three things:


We have somewhere between 60-90,000 thoughts every day. I don’t know about you, but for me and most of my coaching clients, few of these thoughts stem from inspiration and love. In fact, most thoughts sprout from fear and a belief in lack and limitation. Often the thoughts that hold us back and cause us emotional pain can even keep us from pursuing and achieving our life’s true potential.

Through meditation we become a mindful observers of our thoughts. This helps us discern what supports our own happiness, joy and success, and what does not. Daily meditation is like a regular detox for our active and (usually) negative minds. The regular detoxification and clearing of mental habits such as fear and scarcity results in the ability to live a conscious existence where there is always a choice in how to feel about the hand we are dealt.

The Field of Pure Potential.

Remember when you were a kid, free of judgment and full of hope for a bright future? This is the field of pure potential, and it is what we are all born into.

Meditation takes us to this field again where anything is possible — where we have the potential to heal, forgive, design, create, call forth, and flourish.

Many meditation teachers also call this the “gap.” The gap is always open to welcome us, but we seldom visit because we are too “busy.”

Remembering who I am.

Meditation reacquaints us with our soul. This is so important because most of the time we’re thinking, speaking and acting through our egos. The ego believes that our happiness, love, safety, money, opportunities and self-worth come from somewhere outside of ourselves. It is mandatory to connect with your soul on a regular basis, because the soul never forgets who you are and what you are here to do. And when you remember who you are, you can overcome life’s challenges with grace and ease.

Simply put, meditation is about the complete transformation of your life. For anyone wanting to create real, positive change in their world, meditation is not just a good idea; it is mandatory. Making meditation a priority will not only improve your day, it will improve your life.

Getting Started:

Begin by scheduling a regular time to meditate. I prefer first thing in the morning, after I’ve splashed water on my face, and before I do anything else.  

Once you’ve found your meditation time, incorporate the following four steps:

  1. Sit with your back straight and supported and your head free.
  2. Begin by observing your breath.  Inhale, exhale.  Keep it simple.
  3. When thoughts come up, bring your attention back to your breath. Do not judge the fact that you are thinking, it doesn’t matter. Just come back to the breath.
  4. Do this for 5-10 minutes. You want to work your way up to 20 minutes a day.

You will be surprised by how quickly this simple practice will create a profound shift in your experience of life.  And remember, when you don’t think you have time to meditate is when you need it the most!

If you’re ready to study with an unbelievable teacher, I highly recommend Jack Kornfield. His loving kindness meditation is one of my favorites. You’ll find it here.

“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It's like the ultimate rest. It's better than the best sleep you've ever had. It's a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.”  - Hugh Jackman

Resistance: An Opportunity

By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on January 19th 2016 on



Thanks to my duaI-faith family, I once carried the guilt of both the Jewish and the Catholic religions.

For years I felt like I could never do enough or be enough to appease the judgment of God. As a young boy growing up in Italy, the seeds of belief were planted that said God and I are separate, and I must always strive for His approval.

If I failed to meet God's expectations, I learned to believe that there awaits a pit of never-ending fire. That I must confess to my sins, lest I be sent into that pit forever. I learned to believe that beautiful Heaven will only welcome me if I live a life deemed worthy by this Hebrew God and his Holy book.

That's heavy -- especially for a young boy -- and by the time I was an adult, the roots of those beliefs had taken hold. They were very, very deep indeed.

I'm not saying guilt stems only from religion.

In fact, religious or not, most families have their own, personalized systems of guilt and shame distribution that get passed down for generations.

Often these systems look something like parents who strongly reprimand their child's past "wrong" for the purpose of preventing a future one. This system is typically fueled by a deep parental fear about who their child might become without the intervention of heavy-handed discipline. It's not conscious, however. Often, employing guilt and shame as a primary parenting technique is all the parent knows.

This results in both children and parents not understanding why the discipline is happening, but feeling guilty nonetheless. Both sides are stuck in a loop of guilt and punishment, both sides deepening the pattern of resistance to living their truth.

Once the seed of guilt is planted, it sprouts roots that manifest in a number of ways for many years to come. That is, unless we strive to know our guilt and release it.

Here is an example from my own life:

It was always expected that I would take over the family business. I'll never forget the guilt I experienced when I rejected my family's expectations and left Italy for the United States in pursuit of an unrelated career. For days and weeks and months I felt fear of going into the unknown.

Resistance showed up in many different ways. In my limiting beliefs and self-doubt, in the fearful voice that kept telling me I would fail, and finally, in my health. While making this life changing decision I was knocked off my feet for 10 days with the worst illness I have ever had.

My guilt caused fear, which caused resistance and stress, which caused illness. In other words, my resistance was giving me the opportunity to recognize that I was putting my fears before my calling. So much so that it landed me on my back for ten days.

To this day, I am forever appreciative of the financial and emotional support that was provided by my loving family. But, I had a calling. In the depths of my soul, I KNEW I was meant to do something else. I couldn't honor their vision without completely dishonoring my own.

As a coach, I look back on this decision and recognize its value.

At the time I felt so much resistance in making a choice in favor of my own desires and dreams. Yet, even though facing down my guilt was gut wrenching, by deciding to follow a path created by me, as opposed to the one prescribed by my family, I opened the door to progress in my evolution. I opened myself to the possibility of a greater version of who I really am. I created forward movement and growth in my life.

Why am I telling you this?

Because guilt begets fear. Fear begets resistance. And resistance offers a choice.

Resistance asks us a choice to retreat -- or to explore.

Resistance is a call to action. It's a call to discovery driven by wonder.

A fearless inquiry as to why you're resisting what's in front of you is an opportunity to unveil exactly what holds you back. Exploring your resistance will likely bring you to a moment in your ever-impressionable childhood that is so deep-rooted and hidden, you had no idea it held any power over you whatsoever.

But here's the deal: until you address your resistance, you will be forever paralyzed by the guilt that is beneath it. And when this happens, you stunt your evolution and growth.

Examining your resistance is like looking through a window to your soul. Resistance is here to teach you about who you were, who you are, and who you can become.

I understand that it's not easy to live in the spirit of openness, wonder, and consistent learning about yourself all the time. Sometimes doing so brings awareness to things you don't want to remember, or that you don't want to deal with.

That said, it's in these moments of exploration that I have been awarded the most courage.

Had I listened to my guilt when met with the desire to move to the United States, I would have never known the joy that would come from following my heart.

I would not have tasted the success and satisfaction that came with studying at University of Santa Monica.

I would not have experienced the growth that comes from stretching myself, or the fact that my family would eventually come around and feel pride for me and my path.

I would not have experienced the deep peace that accompanies knowing that I pursued and conquered my fear in the name of the person I'm meant to become.

In the process, I learned something valuable:

The strongest way to pursue a life with courage is to set strong intentions.

Intentions connect us to our source, which has a ripple effect that allows our source and the Universe to conspire so that our intention is fulfilled. At the same time, we're training our minds to create a connection with divine intelligence, a field of power within all of us, whose loving nature is at the center of creation and manifestation (a concept I consider to be a friendlier version of God than the Hebrew God of my childhood).

Here's a daily intention exercise to help.

At any time of day, and as often as it comes to mind, say this Louise Hay affirmation to yourself:

I am in the rhythm and flow of ever-changing life.

Soon you will start to pick up on the "eddies" and "snags" and even "dams" that hold up your flow. You will start to recognize that your resistance is guiding your inner awareness to something that needs to be unwound or released. You will align your being with divine intelligence and by one with the natural ebbs and flows of life as a result.

Because remember: it's not necessarily the change that you're resisting. (Often times you want change!)

What you're experiencing are the patterns of fear and guilt beneath your resistance. Your inner self then gives you the opportunity to free yourself and never have to face the same fear or guilt again.

So seize the opportunity.

Question your resistance.

Put fear in the back seat.

Forgive yourself for having guilt.

And CHOOSE a life of joy, love and possibility.

"Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance." - Steven Pressfield

Grow Your Comfort Zone, Prolong Your Youth

By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on November 19th 2015 on



As babies, we enter the world brave, vivacious, adventurous and courageous. We frolic naked, make messes, throw our food, shamelessly demand what we want, fearlessly express love, and never deny the urge to cry.

Within a few years, we find ourselves in school with a developing ego. This means we start to understand the concept of approval and begin to seek it out. Discomfort becomes our compass: if something is uncomfortable, we retreat. We feel most safe when we're validated by our parents, teachers, friends and other members of society. It's at this point when we begin to prioritize the comfort of those around us over our own.

The older we get, the less we venture outside the familiar. Where once we enjoyed an occasional meal with friends in a nearby city, we now prefer to stay in town, where we frequent the same places over and over again. As time passes, our bubble of comfort shrinks even further. Eventually, we rarely leave our block, then our home, and finally, we spend our days sunk comfortably into our couch in front of the TV.

It appears that the older we get, the less we stretch. The less we stretch, the faster we stop growing. The less we grow, the more we deteriorate mentally, emotionally and physically.

Which, my friends, brings us to a powerful method for serving your greatness (and it also happens to be my favorite anti-aging remedy):

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable will stretch you in ways you didn't know were possible. It will keep your mind -- and often body! -- supple. It will train you to succeed where once you did not.

If your purpose is to be your best, you must take full responsibility for your comfort zone. We often run from situations that cause pressure or anxiety due to fear-based resistance, when really, we should be facing the situations with gusto.

It is, in fact, the moments when we find comfort within the discomfort that our essential self (that one in us who is in charge of our purpose, desire, and highest good) can bring us face-to-face with an opportunity for deeper growth. It is when we are most likely to be offered a stepping-stone to success.

By choosing only what's comfortable, however, we insure that we never seize an opportunity to surpass expectations, succeed at our dreams, and assume our power.

To be clear: I don't find this easy.

I have certainly had my own experience with facing discomfort, and I know that the feeling of being judged or disapproved of by another is not an easy one to overcome.

But if we want to live the big, beautiful lives we crave... overcome it, we must. Here are 6 steps for finding comfort when facing the uncomfortable:

1. Take a breath.

Facing your fears can invoke the fight or flight response, which is your body's way of dealing with "danger" or, for our purposes, stress. During the fight or flight response, your breath will become shallow and rapid, which increases levels of anxiety and affects your ability to think clearly. Bring yourself back to a focused and stress-free state by taking a few long, deep, slow breaths. This simple act will begin to shift you from your sympathetic nervous system into your parasympathetic nervous system. Once there, you will actually feel the stress dissipate and can recover a sense of calm.

2. Recognize how safe you are.

Take a moment to remind yourself of how safe you truly are. Most likely, you have everything you need in this moment. Recognize that you are prepared. Whatever has come your way has done so because you're ready for it.

3. Separate yourself from the situation.

Who you are, and what your purpose is, will always be bigger than the situation you're facing. Whatever your circumstance, it does not have the power to cripple you (unless you say it does). Rather, see the scary appearance as a sign that you are on the road to achieving your dreams. Facing fear will help you grow until eventually you realize there was nothing to fear in the first place. In other words, that which you fear is actually an aspect of your highest good honing you for successs.

4. Get to the root of your fear.

With some space from the situation, you are more easily able to speak to the part of you that is afraid.

Ask yourself: Why am I experiencing resistance?

Oftentimes, resistance comes from the fear of being judged negatively, or rejected. If this were to present itself during a session with me, I'd speak to that part of you, directly.

I'd ask you why you were valuing the opinion of others more than your own.

Why are you living life based off of another's approval? Why do you choose to meet expectations set by another, versus expectations you set for yourself? Why are you giving someone else control of who you are and who you might become?

How disappointed would you be if, one day, you find yourself sunk into your couch with the realization that you never prioritized your calling? That you didn't push yourself as far as you could go? That you didn't live a life recognizing who you are and how you can serve the world? What will happen (or not happen!) if this couch becomes a literal representation of your comfort zone?

How will you feel if you reach the end of your life and know in your heart of hearts that you never met your greatness?

5. Choose your path, not an outcome.

If you stay focused on a result -- which no one can predict -- you will face self-inflicted fear of failure. As a result, you will give your power to an outcome that doesn't exist, instead of keeping it for yourself.

Instead, be loyal to your path: what you're after, how you're feeling, who you are, and how you're showing up. These are the only things that are ever in our control.

By focusing on your path alone, you'll create consistency of quality within your work, and always create opportunities for success.

Here's a mantra to help with this: "High engagement, low attachment.”

6. Go for it.

There is always something to feel, to do, and to be. If you've followed these steps, you have honored your feelings, done something to access your truth, and now you must honor who you are and who you want to be.

The discomfort we call fear will always show up. It's up to you how you face it.

In the name of your greatness (and staying younger, longer!), I challenge you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable on a consistent basis. I hope you seek to stretch your comfort zone daily, honor your path, and never find yourself on your couch asking, "what if?”

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsh 

The Empowerment Shift

By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. - This article originally appeared on September 11th 2015 on



"The world will be saved by the Western Woman."  -- Dalai Lama

I love coaching women. Holding a clean, masculine, loving presence for women to deepen into their empowerment is important to me because when the masculine and feminine energies of the world come into true alignment (within ourselves and between one another), we will see some dramatic upgrades in life on this little planet of ours.

In order to succeed and lead in the current world paradigm, most women have felt they need to be primarily in their masculine energy.  There is evidence of this tendency in even the subtlest, most personal aspects of a woman’s life -- like her habit of overriding the flow and rhythms of her own body in order to show up for her worldly demands.

But what if women could stay connected to their feminine essence and be taken seriously as leaders?  What transformation could this usher in for all of us, men included? I am excited to find out, and have some ideas about how to get there.

Reverend Michael Beckwith identified a model of the four primary stages of leadership, which the Conscious Leadership Group, founded by Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman, uses as a guiding principle. In my experience, understanding these stages can greatly empower a woman to both shift into her feminine essence AND show up powerfully in all areas of her life. For our purposes, we will focus solely on the first three stages.

1. Life Is Happening To Me.

Most of us must pass through Stage One before we get to the other stages. Here we find ourselves at the effect of life. Complaining and criticism are common symptoms. We are usually somewhere on the Victim/Villain/Hero triangle, where the villain is in constant blame, the victim feels wronged, and the hero sees others as incompetent or "less than" and swoops in to save the day.  This is a very expensive stage, as the tariff is our own, true nature.

The antidotes to Stage One are wonder, curiosity and personal responsibility. In order to shift out of this stage, we can ask ourselves "What do I want from this situation?" Or "What I am learning here?" The moment we become willing to take responsibility for ALL the circumstances of our lives and commit to seeing others in full responsibility of their lives, we are free to move on to Stage Two.

2. Life Is Happening By Me.

This is a very exhilarating stage, because here we experience a sense of control, responsibility and power.  Our focus shifts from being perpetually outward into the rich terrain of our internal landscapes.  We see ourselves co-creating with life. Both hands are on the steering wheel.

This can be a very empowering stage. We feel a sense of control like never before. But, as life teaches us again and again...control is an illusion.  And once we get current with that fact, we can move on to Stage Three. 

3. Life Is Happening Through Me.

Here is where the real magic starts to happen. The big difference between stages two and three is that we have moved from a sense of control (a masculine principle) to a deep sense of surrender (a very feminine principle).

When we are in Stage Three, we are fueled by wonder. A common question we ask ourselves is: "What wants to happen through me?" We commit to maximizing our energy by honoring rest and renewal; we commit to creating a life of play and to seeing all of life unfold with ease. Stage Three is where the feminine principle comes to life, and it vibrates at a much higher frequency than most of us are used to.

Stage Three is where a woman can rest into herself and trust the cues her body gives her for clarity on where to go and what to do next. She can cite her innate creativity and intuition as main contributors to her success. She can commit to something big without the fear of losing too much of herself along the way.

Be Aware of Shift & Drift

Once we commit to shifting into Stages Two and Three, it's very normal to drift back into our old ways once in awhile.  You'll know this is happening if you find yourself complaining, criticizing, or refusing to delegate because you don’t want to impose.

The key to shifting out of this pattern is to accept where we are, take some conscious breaths, change our posture, and ask the direct questions, "What am I learning from this?  What is my role here?"  "What do I want to create next?" And  "How do I surrender and let go?"

Certainly there are women in the coaching world who hold a clean, feminine, loving presence for men to find balance between their masculine energies too. These principles would, undoubtedly, be of service from this perspective as well, as who amongst us couldn’t use a little finesse in the art of surrender?

In this spirit, I’ve got some exciting news!  Beginning August 27th, I’m kicking off a six-month course just for women called The Empowerment Shift.  This coaching program is for women who are ready to call in and manifest all that they want in life.

To learn more visit, and if you know a woman who is ready for deep transformation and wants some expert, loving support in navigating her journey, please send her a link to this post.

Why You Need Self Acceptance To Be Happy

By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on March 12th 2015 on



I used to think that my ability to relax and enjoy life would come once I got everything on the outside just right.

Can you relate?

Then I was introduced to four principles that changed my life.

You are responsible for your own happiness.
Your outer experience is a reflection of what’s going on inside.
What's going on inside is usually a reflection of the quality of your mind.
The quality of your mind is directly related to how deeply you accept yourself.

The first time I heard these principles was the first time I felt authentically empowered.

That is, I felt empowered once the despair wore off from the realization that I could no longer blame my parents, girlfriend, teachers, friends or anyone else for my own unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Once I really began to examine my suffering, I realized that underneath the projections I created about what others were “doing to me” was a need to accept myself.

The big secret to taking full responsibility for my experience has been self-acceptance—though the process certainly hasn’t been a straight shot.

At first my ego resisted like hell. It’s so much easier to blame the world than it is to really change our insides.

But when I finally woke up to the desire to take full responsibility for my own happiness, I couldn’t ignore that what was bothering me was only my perception of what was happening… not what was actually happening.

Whenever I want to make a shift in my life, self-acceptance is where I’ve learned to start.

For example, as a kid I was self-conscious, aware of my “defects,” and scared of life. My family probably didn’t help much, as I had extremely critical parents and grandparents. In my home, “perfection” was the name of the game.

Growing up, I constantly judged myself for how uncool I thought I was, how athletically un-skillful I was, how I didn’t like my hair, how I didn’t like the way my body was developing. Oh my god! I had so many judgments.

Naturally, this internal struggle was reflected in all my relationships.

The less I appreciated myself, the less I was appreciated—but I didn’t have the awareness to see it that way; I just saw others not appreciating me.

It took nearly 40 years to realize that the acceptance and appreciation I craved had to come from within. It also took me that long to reclaim the parts of myself that I had totally abandoned and get willing see the good I have done and am.

Ending my suffering meant seeing life with different eyes.

I’m talking now about the eyes of my soul, the eyes of my true self, the eyes of a pure, loving being.

For me, self-acceptance is about taking a pass on judgments and self-recriminations.

This doesn’t mean bypassing healthy regret or letting myself off the hook. To the contrary; it’s about radical self-honesty and abstaining from expectations based on the outmoded and unconscious beliefs I’ve been lugging around for too many years.

It's about forgiving what happened.

And what didn’t.

To paraphrase Lily Tomlin, it’s about abandoning all hope for a better past.

I’ve learned that when things don’t go the way we think they should, it’s an invitation to get even stronger and go even deeper into self-acceptance. It may not feel like it in the moment, but every opportunity we get to see a part of ourselves that we have still not accepted is a blessing.

Of course, letting go of the hope for a better past doesn’t mean condoning the harmful behavior of others, but it does mean that we get forgive ourselves for the negative judgments we placed on the event.

And then we may accept ourselves and the circumstances of our lives with a clear intent to make peace and to move forward.

Once I began this process of self-acceptance, I realized that I wasn’t as uncool as I thought I was in my early years. For example, I had carried the painful perception that my athletic skills were not good enough. In fact, they are actually above average to the extent that I have been able to do a full Ironman and six half-Ironmen. I am also an amateur club golf champion.

When I finally took these facts in, it was as if I received permission to stop waiting for someone or something outside me to validate my existence. No one was coming to rescue me (except me), and what a relief it was to fully absorb that truth!

My sense now is that who I am is a collection of imperfect selves. And it is because of those imperfections that I’m divinely human and lovable no matter what.

So who am I when I am not judging myself?

I am a divine being having a human experience.
I am a whole and complete man with a big heart.
I am a peaceful and lovable person, doing his best to thrive, to be kind, and to care for others.

So often we work backwards by striving to change our jobs, our relationships and the amount of money in our bank accounts through our efforts on the outside.

We exhaust ourselves by constantly reaching to the external world, not realizing that the most effective step we can take to change every single aspect of our lives is to place kindness, love and acceptance inward, toward our own human experience!

Without the practice of self-acceptance, I inevitably struggle and push away joy. I unconsciously conspire against myself.

With the practice of self-acceptance I experience more prosperity, healing and love.

I, for one, would much rather live with myself from the mind and heart of self-acceptance, than from judgment and criticism. Wouldn’t you?

Lean In to the Mystery of Your Life

By Nicola Albini, J.D., M.A. -This article originally appeared on February 17th 2015 on



Is It Safe to Go Where I'm Going?

Every so often I ask myself the same questions: Where am I going?  What am I getting from the experience I'm having presently?

Why is that so? 

These are powerful questions, worth checking in with once in awhile. And yet, time and time again I am humbled by the realization that expecting them to be answered on demand is not necessarily in my best interest.

Matter of fact, I rarely have answers to many of my fascinating, thought-provoking questions (I hope you're smiling with me now). And what I'm learning is that it's okay not to have all the answers.  In fact, hanging out in the uncomfortable space between the question and the answer is really where all the good stuff happens.  It's the place of creation and wild expansion. It's what we signed up for as human beings. 

The Buddhists call this "groundlessness," and recognize it as a very natural, normal state of being. Culturally, we are conditioned to seek immediate solutions and logical answers, which is partly why we find this "not knowing" place so damn uncomfortable.  We want reassurance that we're safe to take risks in pursuit of our dreams. We want to know for sure that our choices will take us in the direction we want to go.  We are very interested in outcomes. 

Truth to be told (I'm sorry to break it to you), the answers we seek to those kinds of questions usually never come. Or, rather, once they do we have landed safely in the embodiment of those answers and have moved on to the next iteration of our lives where we are asking the questions all over again.  In this way, I'm learning that the answers don't actually exist. They can't because the questions are based on a false premise. The questions imply that we are not safe to pursue our dreams and desires without knowing for sure that our efforts will yield the results we are seeking. The truth is that not only are we safe to live full-out without knowing what will happen, we are meant to. 


I was blown away the other day when I stumbled across an article saying that many of the most profound scientific discoveries happened as a result of serendipity. In many cases, scientists tried to find answers to a certain question and the results were totally different (and often better) than the ones pre-imagined. In other instances, brand new discoveries were made while scientists were looking for something completely different altogether. 

What if life is simply a series of events that are consciously driven (for some) and (unfortunately) unconsciously driven for most? AND what if the results we experience are just a series of beautifully co-created events, leading us to places that we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams?

What if?

I like to think of life this way because when I do, openness and receptivity become my natural attitude. I'm convinced that these qualities are the keys for improving our lives because they allow us to live from the mystery of the questions (life itself) rather than rushing toward the certainty of the answers (which is a kind of death). 

Albert Einstein said it perfectly when he wrote: 

The most beautiful experience we can have here is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.


Not surprisingly, once I really began to contemplate living in uncertainty it brought me to more questions.  For example, does this mean I need to stop looking for the answers or have a passive attitude? 

I believe the opposite is actually true. As the familiar Latin saying goes: carpe diem. Seize the day -- but do it with the intention of moving closer to how you want to feel and what you want to happen.  Surrender to allowing your edges to be pushed (or your ass to be kicked). 

I've discovered that, ironically (or is it serendipitously?), by not obsessing about my burning need for answers and by allowing life to have its way with me (consciously), I have a much better chance of arriving right at the answers I was hoping would be true all along. 

In response to a fear-based statement I made the other day about a new thing happening in my life, a friend of mine told me to "Lean in bro." 

I thought of the three questions. Where am I going?  What am I getting from the experience I'm having presently?  Why is that so? 

And like he could read my mind, he said it again. "Just lean in bro, lean in." 

It was a powerful and humbling moment.

And it reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago.


A wealthy man once threw a magical party at his beautiful mansion in the hills. He invited all his good friends and family, his employees and all the people he didn't know but who lived in his neighborhood. 

At some point in the evening he asked that his guests join him around the pool, where he had set up a stage with a microphone. Finally, once everyone from the many avenues of his life had gathered, he stepped onto the stage, took ahold of the microphone and made an astonishing announcement.  The pool was infested with many poisonous fish, piranhas and a couple of enormous crocodiles!

The crowd started to feel uncomfortable.  And then the wealthy man made another, even more astonishing announcement. "I will grant a huge prize to whomever swims from one side of the pool to the other. The brave soul that gets out alive will get to choose one of three prizes.  They may pick from $1.5 million in cash, a first class, five star trip for two around the world for two years, or -- last but not least -- one of my many real estate properties in the United States," he said.

And just as he completed his declaration, someone jumped into the pool and swam so fast that Jim Thorpe could not have beat him. Within moments, the swimmer emerged alive on the other side! 

The crowd went crazy. No one could believe what just happened! Against all odds, a brave and courageous guy swam 50 meters in danger-infested waters and made it safely to the other side.  It was a miracle!

The host took the microphone again and invited the man to meet him on stage.

The swimmer seemed very shocked and didn't appear to enjoy what was happening at all. He even refused the towels that the servants had diligently offered him the moment he emerged alive from the pool.

The wealthy man on the mic loudly asked the winner: "What do you want, brave man? You won the prize, but which one do you want? The $1.5 million in cash maybe?"

The swimmer shook his head indicating that he didn't want that. He was shaking still.

"Ah okay," said the host. "You want the trip for two around the world instead. I understand, you want to travel, don't you?"

And the swimmer again shook his head again, saying he did not want that prize either.

The wealthy host shouted into his mic: "Ladies and gents, please congratulate this brave and courageous man who challenged and defeated all the odds and made it through safe and sound! He wants one of my properties. Please congratulate him! Bravo!"

They were excited and very curious to see the response of the brave swimmer who was not reacting at all the way they would imagine the recipient of such a prize might. 

And in fact, the dripping man shook his head again, shouting loud enough for everyone to hear that he didn't actually want to any of that. He just wanted…

And the wealthy man, and all his guests stood in shocked silence, holding their breath as they waited for his answer… 

Finally the host asked: "What is that you want? Please tell us! What are you getting from this experience?"

And the seemingly brave and courageous man finally let all his frustrations and his desire to be heard come out and shouted: "All I want, dude, REALLY, is to know who the hell pushed me into that fucking pool!"

It's a great punch line. I hope you appreciate, like I do, that this story is about being nudged to the edge. It's about letting life push you in the direction it wants you to go without resisting. It's about rising to the occasion even though it's scary as hell and the odds seem to be against you. It's about learning you were safe all along and finding rewards on the other side of your travail.

It's also a metaphor for coaching work. Don't wait for the inevitable push into the pool. Seek it out through choice.  Lean in. 

What do you need to swim in uncharted, dangerous waters? You need the ability to swim, but you also need willingness. You need to be flexible enough to recognize what's present and what's possible.  You need to know where your advantages are and where you require support. And yes, then you need to swim the shit out of that water!

With that in mind, let's revisit my original questions. 

Where am I going?  What am I getting from the experience I'm having presently?  Why is that so? 

My best offering is to suggest that we just stay with the mystery and… lean in, bro. 

Then we let serendipity take care of the rest.