Agressive surrender

Agressive surrender Karen BergNormally, we think of surrender in one way. For example, I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie Life of Pi, but in it, the main character finds himself in the middle of the ocean without food, without water, and with nowhere to go. Eventually, in his desperation, he calls to the Creator and he says, “Okay! I give myself to you! I surrender!”

That’s one kind of surrender. But that’s not the surrender I’m talking about. There’s another form of surrender-aggressive surrender- which is when I can say to myself, “I’m prepared and I’m willing to do whatever I have to do in my work to learn how to get to spiritual elevation, to apply the tools, and to not fall back on my old habits of being a victim and saying things ‘just happen.’ “Because the truth is that things don’t ‘just happen.’ There is no such thing as a coincidence.

The kind of surrender I’m talking about is having the certainty that if we dot all of our i’s and cross all of our t’s and we are on a spiritual journey doing spiritual work, and then life suddenly throws us a curveball, we need to understand that where we are is where we need to be in this moment in time—whether it’s because of something we did when we were younger or in a former lifetime, or because this specific situation will help us become something better than we are.

This isn’t the surrender that comes from a point of failure, although that’s the surrender that most people make. After all, when do most people come to the Creator? Usually it’s when they are missing something, when something happens to them, or when something occurs in their life that they don’t understand.

Dr. Larry Dossey is one of the world’s foremost experts on prayer research. The study I recently heard about consisted of a group of people who came together in a hospital setting to pray for the health of ill patients at that hospital. In this study, the researchers found scientific evidence that the people who were prayed for healed faster than the ones that weren’t prayed for.

The researchers said, “Okay, we get the concept. Prayer works. Let’s see if it works if we have people pray for patients from a distance, with nothing but concentration and a picture of the people they are praying for.” Guess what they found out? It worked! Almost the same result occurred whether the people who prayed were present or absent from the patients they were praying for. So distance didn’t matter.

Then the research team asked what would happen if instead of praying for healing, each of the participants prayed in his or her own way for “whatever the will of God might be.” They followed up on that line of research and amazingly, they found that the patients healed even faster.

Aggressive surrender means having certainty in spite of the darkness. It’s the certainty to know that even when we see or experience difficulty, such as sickness, bankruptcy, a souring of family relations or whatever the problem might be, we can get the energy and perseverance to say, “I accept and surrender my being to a higher power that will drag me from this into something better.” Even if we may not know all of the reasons for the situation, we surrender with certainty.

Karen Berg | Inspire Me Today

Oneness

Oneness Dr. Jonathan EllerbyI want humanity to know oneness. It sounds complicated at first, but it is simple and will change your life forever. It did for me.

Oneness is more than a concept. It’s an experience and a way of living.

In every culture throughout time there have been saints, mystics, sages, shamans and prophets who have come to the same conclusion: all things in this world are deeply interconnected and ultimately are only diverse expressions of the one original source energy.

This was the essential experience and conviction of most of the worlds’ religious founding leaders. They called the Oneness of life different things: God, Allah, Hashem, The Great Mystery and so on, but the idea of oneness is universal. Oneness means we are each united with all of life.

Oneness is not just a spiritual or religious idea. It is now a clear scientific principle. Einstein died trying to prove the unified field theory, a belief that all life and matter are united by an underlying energy or consciousness.

The great quantum physicists David Bohm, Arthur Eddington, Max Planck and many others were convinced that at the very deepest (smallest) level of all things was energy. Deep within each cell, each molecule, each atom and nucleus, breathes an energy so subtle and yet so essential it could be called “spirit.”

The environmentalists and ecologists also are convinced of this oneness. The pollution in one part of the world impacts the climate, air and water in another. The chemicals the smallest animals eat from our waste and farming practices travel up the food chain until large doses of those chemicals appear in our daily diet. Changes in the habitat or population of any one creature send a ripple effect through the world.

Oneness is the law of nature: what we do to others, we do to ourselves.

Imagine it like this: what if the force that preceded all life was like an ocean? In time ice formed and was floating on the surface. The ice is unlike the ocean. It floats on the ocean, and it doesn’t even look like the ocean. But in time, the conditions change, and the ice melts back into the ocean. Was it every really different? Separate?

Regardless of whether we believe in the Garden of Eden or the big bang, something came before it all, a vast, endless, infinite, eternal something. That same source-force is here right now. It gave rise to all things, and it is inside you, around you and will exist long after we are all gone, which means we are all related through this origin and oneness.

If you truly understood this, you would not need to be told to be kind you would not need to be told to recycle or forgive or love or respect yourself. You wouldn’t worry about who wins you’d be sure that no one loses. You would love others as yourself, and you’d see the spark of the divine in all things. You’d know that every experience is a lesson, a chance to grow toward understanding ONENESS.

Dr. Jonathan Ellerby | Inspire Me today

Life is but a dream

Life is but a dream Robert ThompsonMany of us have had the experience of awaking from a vivid dream or nightmare and being certain that what we dreamed really happened. Then, as we awaken more, we realize we were only dreaming.

It didn’t really happen. Or did it?

We can have the reverse experience too—dream-like moments happen even though we are awake. One day, while holding my grandson Kai on my lap, I had a waking dream. As if it were yesterday, I remembered sitting on my grandfather’s lap. In a dreamlike way I wondered how I had become the grandfather, and so quickly too. In some moments, life seems like nothing more than a dream.

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

What is a dream if not a sequence of images that evoke emotions and reactions that come and go? Is this not true of our waking life as well?

Life is but a dream.

The dreams we dream while sleeping are the other side of the dreams we live while we are awake. Two sides of the same coin. Awake or asleep, it’s all a dream. Awake or asleep, life is a succession of images and experiences that give rise to feelings that come and go. Row, row, row your boat.

Ironically, to wake up is to see life as a passing dream. I am in a dream but I am not the dream. I am in a nightmare, but every nightmare passes. To wake up to life is to awaken to the deeper dreamer.

The changing landscape of our lives is nothing if not unpredictable. Ask yourself what it is that remains constant in the ever changing dream of your life—is it not the dreamer?

Think of the times you have simply shown up for others. Maybe you didn’t know what to say or what to do—but you showed up and sooner or later they told you that your presence was just what they needed to go on. Together, you were in a dream but your living breathing presence was real. It made all the difference.

The power of Presence.

I talk to a lot of people whose lives are in upheaval. Sometimes they say they want God to defend them against pain, suffering, and uncertainty. But this wish is just one more dream. Sooner or later we realize what we really need is not someone to protect us—but a Presence to share with us the dream of this moment.

The joke is that life is full of Presence—but we can’t always see it—we are asleep to the Presence. This mysterious and miraculous Presence lives in nature and it lives in every living, breathing creature and every human being.

Whenever we awaken to this mysterious, miraculous and compassionate Presence that lives ubiquitously within and among us we awaken to see that even though life comes to us as a dream—we are dreamers but not the dream.

I don’t know about you, but I take my waking slowly. But sometimes I get a glimpse. Beneath the broken surface of our lives there is a hidden wholeness, a profound Presence that is holding everything together. And every now and then, I touch this hidden wholeness, this unseen Presence and for a moment I am awake.

Robert thompson | Inspire Me Today

Dream your dream

Dream your dream Marcia Wieder“Can you believe in something simply because it matters to you? Then act on it to prove you really do.”

These are my quick tips for living an inspired life:

Set an Intention: Understand the power and importance of intention as the rudder to steer your life.

Maintain Integrity: Intention and integrity together form the key building block for manifestation. Live with integrity by keeping agreements with yourself and others. It is essential to clear up aspects from your past that can get in your way now.

Live on Purpose: Standing in your purpose, the quality of your dreams will change. Without purpose many climb to the top of the mountain, only to realize, ” wrong mountain.”

Access Your Dreamer: Create a dynamic relationship with the dreams that you are passionate about. Reality is an important aspect but consider what being realistic has cost you.

Learn From Your Doubter: Left unattended, this can sabotage your dreams. But when you create a powerful relationship with your doubter, others people’s doubts actually become the opportunity to deepen your commitment.

Believe in Your Dreams: If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either. Prove you believe in your dreams by taking action.

Failure Can Lead to Success: Use all of life’s lessons as powerful tools and create daily practices to deepen what you want to change or develop.

Take Serious Steps Forward: Plan the essential strategies to insure your success. In the end, it all comes down to moving forward on the projects and practical steps for making your dream real.

Build Your Dream Team: Ask for help and make it easy for people to say yes. There are resources that you know (and do not know) who can open doors to help you play a bigger game and accomplish your goals with greater ease.

Live as a Dreamer: Once you are clear about your purpose, dreams and beliefs, look at all areas of your life and decide what you really do and don’t want. You choose. This process works on any personal or professional dream.

Nine steps to happiness

Sandra Beck Nine steps to happinessI would offer my 9 steps to a happy life….

1. Build something that you believe in – a relationship, a family, a company or a project. Focus on what you can do today to get where you want to be.

2. Learn the art of letting go. You will have to let go of friends, family, beloved pets, money and objects during your lifetime and sooner you accept change the easier life becomes.

3. Smiles and compliments are free and they make all the difference in the world as our connections with people are relational and have a ripple effect.

4. You can change the way you respond to things, but you can’t change the things that happen to you. Keep your responses simple, clear and to the point so people understand what you are saying.

5. Love expands the human experience and everyone has to experience the full pain of love to really appreciate the full joy.

6. Do your best to solve your troubles. Then go to sleep, as things always look better in the morning.

7. We don’t always have to know why. Spending too much time on the why takes away from figuring out what to do next.

8. Funny is everywhere. It’s just waiting to be noticed and when you do life becomes very entertaining.

9. Life is disorderly, unexpected and messy. It’s never neat and tidy, which is why this list contains 9 life lessons and not the predictable 10.

Sandra Beck | Inspire Me Today

Don’t think too much

Grahak Cunningham Don't think too muchSometimes we think about things too much.

We need to be more in the heart. The mind is a part of our existence that causes real problems when we are attempting something. Everybody on earth has experienced the stream of endless and meaningless thoughts that crop up in the mind.

Think back to a time when you have been lying in bed unable to sleep. Never-ending banter and thoughts make you agitated and restless. As a result you toss and turn and cannot rest. The mind will do this 24/7 unless you learn to invoke silence, to access a deeper part of yourself.

Distracting and uninspiring thoughts, self doubts and negativities directly affect our mood and performance. Marathoners call it hitting the wall, business people call it stress, most people know it as a ‘tough day’.

We are deeper than this; in the core of our being, strength, power, poise and silence all exist. If we can tap into this inner source, nothing can stop us moving forward. Defeated by our own determination and effort, problems drop away.

This determination doesn’t come from the mind, which changes its opinion every minute. It comes from our hearts and souls which take and carry us to the most wonderful of places, where in the field of life, everyone can be victorious. True joy can flow through us and we can enjoy the wonderful moments in our life.

Think to a time when you have been awestruck. The power of a mountain, the setting or rising sun or the simple smile of child. They invoke good qualities from within our hearts. We aren’t thinking of bills to be paid, work tomorrow, or problems with the family – we just identify with the beauty around us.

Taking up a challenge is a good opportunity and example of when you are going to have to go to battle. If you take up a challenge in life, people will often throw cold water on your inspiration and you will also have your own doubts. “I will start tomorrow” or “maybe next year” are common thoughts. There’s no point listening to this kind of distraction from others or yourself, so why bother with it?

If you are inspired to do something, run with it. If you want to do anything great or different or positive, you can’t sit around waiting for other people’s approval. The heart’s motto is always ‘here and now’ and making positive changes to yourself with ultimately benefit the world at large.

Grahak Cunningham | Inspire Me Today

Love in action

Margot Potter LoveI’m a restless sort of a gypsy soul and I have found that following my intuition and my heart has led me on a fascinating journey. I have come to understand in the course of my lifetime that the only thing that matters, the only thing that is real is love.

When I speak of love, I mean absolute unconditional love. When we love unconditionally, we are reaching our highest purpose. When we learn to love unconditionally we also learn to forgive. When we learn the power of forgiveness and come to understand that forgiveness isn’t a sanctioning of bad behavior, but a releasing of our attachment to it, then we are truly free.

In my mind, God is not a noun. God is a verb. God is love in action. When we love unconditionally, we know God. When we can find the compassionate heart and learn to love everyone, even those we might consider our enemies, we experience the divine.

I think it’s incredibly difficult to love without attachments, I know it is for me. We all filter everything through our own experiences. We all have these unspoken desires, attachments and expectations that shade our reality and our relationships with others. No two people will ever see the same situation in the same way.

If we can understand that and try to move beyond that, we can begin to create real communication and forge real connection. It’s human nature to judge or fear those we deem to be unlike ourselves. Fear of “the other” is the thing that drives hatred, wars, violence, racism, sexism and those who promote this kind of fear know that it is powerful.

Love is more powerful.

My current path is about creativity. When we “create without filters,” we are channeling a powerful force. If you think about it, the opposite of creation is destruction. When we create without judging ourselves or the result of what we are creating, we are standing in the face of that destruction and defying it. That’s powerful stuff and that is in my mind an act of unconditional love.

It is my goal to help others find that creative spark and ignite it. It is my hope to inspire others to explore their creativity and to be more interested in the process than the result. There is so much to be learned from the process, and ultimately the moment is all we really have. What remains as soon as it is created is a shadow of the moments it took to create it. If we can live fully in each moment, we experience the full power of the creative force.

Margot Potter | Inspire Me Today

 

Dare to dream!

Jeet BanerjeeWe all have the ability to live life on our terms, but yet many of us don’t realize this till it’s too late. What would you do if you had one day to live? Would you pursue your dreams and do all the things you haven’t done yet?

But, why wait til the last day of your life to do what you love?

Don’t wait. If you want to pursue your dreams, there is no better time to start than right now. We do not have anything to fear, but fear itself.

Our surroundings, circumstances, and society tell us exactly what we must do, who we must become, and why we must act a certain way. But why? Why do so many people fall prey to this lifestyle?

I’m here to tell you today that you can escape this lifestyle and it’s a lot easier than you think. If you don’t like it, change it.

Don’t live the dream. Live YOUR dream. Do what you love and follow your passions. Whether it’s a hobby or a career, do what keeps you smiling at the end of the day.

We aren’t scared of heights; we’re scared of the fall. When pursuing our dreams, failure isn’t an option. Failure only becomes an option when you give up and decide against doing what you love.

Failure is something everyone deals with, even the greatest people in the world. However, failure does not define you or your dreams. It’s simply an event, something that takes place at a certain time on a specific day. As long as you get back up and try again with the same enthusiasm as before, you will never fail.

What are you going to be remembered for if you left the world today? Would you be proud of yourself? Would your name be remembered for years to come?

Steve Jobs, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., and so many other people are remembered years after their passing because of the impact they delivered to the world. They served a purpose through their dreams and changed the world because they were passionate enough to do so.

Life is short and it should be spent doing something that is meaningful to you. Create a legacy for yourself, something that your children’s children will share with their kids some day. Be the person everyone else wants to be.

Anything in life can be yours if you’re willing to pursue it. Don’t wish on stars or hope it will just show up because it won’t. However, if you work towards your dreams, it’s just a matter of time till you achieve it.

Everyone dies, but not everyone lives. I’m here to tell you today that you need to truly live. You can live by pursuing your dreams and having the courage to do what others aren’t willing to do.

If you’re an artist, paint a mural. If you’re a singer, deliver a concert to hundreds. If you’re an entrepreneur, go build a business that will change the world. It doesn’t matter what your passions or hobbies are, it matters that you put them into action!

Dreams only come true when have the courage to put them into action. Dare to dream!

Jeet Banerjee | Inspire Me Today

A waste of energy

Greg HickmanWhen you realize that happiness is a choice a lot of things change. They get easier. It’s easier to have fun, relax and move forward in your life with the things that matter.

Realizing that happiness is a choice didn’t come easy though. I believe that having a strong sense of self-awareness really allows you to see how achievable happiness is and what happiness actually means.

When I could really understand myself and my goals and really not let others people perception of me or my goals bother me…being happy got a lot easier.

For a while I was too busy comparing myself to others and what those people had in life. I got hung up on what other people thought of me and let it dictate my actions.

It’s easy to let that get out of control and lose all sense of yourself and what YOU actually want. It gets masked by what you think you want, because you’re just comparing yourself to others.

I will tell you that the second you can release yourself from your constant self judgement and measuring what you have against the next person….you’ll see things in a new light.

You’ll approach life differently with a new sense of joy and fulfillment.

I challenge you to make a list of all the things that make you happy now and all the things that you think would make you happier. Then make sure the things that will make you happier were not subconsciously added based on someone else’s desires.

We’re unfortunately our own worst enemies. When we can acknowledge that we’re the only one standing in our way we’re able to push through and progress.

I once let a relationship that went south own me and I found myself in a dark period of my life where I realized that I had not been putting myself first. It was rough to get out of it to be honest.

The truth is nobody can provide the value to others as they’d like until they put themselves first. I’m glad I realized this before creating a family, as how can I expect to take care of a family if I can’t take care of myself?

You can’t be the best “you” that you can be until you take the step of putting yourself first. For me that came by investing in myself, having dedicated “me” time, and participating in activies that made me feel better and happier.

That was riding my mountain bike and being outside away from all the technology and commiting to working out 3 times a week for 30 days.

That 30 day commitment put me in such a rhythm that it’s maintained for the last year and half.

I now try to give myself different 30 day challenges to try new things such as meditating for 5 mins before I start every day, holding handstands as long as I can before jumping in the shower and walking my dog right before I go to sleep.

Those activities give me time to think and reflect on the day to see where I can improve.

Cheers to your personal growth.

Greg Hickman | Inspire Me Today

Life’s Top 10

Sir Richard Branson1) The Most Important Thing in Life is Family

Our relationship with our spouse, children and parents is the most important thing in life. Richard was part of a close-knit family, raised in the countryside of England. From a small boy he was strongly influenced by his parents, who still remain an integral part of his life today.

When I asked Richard about the influence of his mother, he smiled and said his mother was and still is “impossible to keep up with”. When Richard was a small boy, his mother was determined that he should stand on his own two feet. At 4 years of age, she put him out of the car and told him to find his own way to his Grandmother’s house. Still a memorable event for Richard, he attributes his mother’s determination that he should find his own way in life as a great part of his success.

Richard and Joan, his wife of 32 years, remain happily married and very close to their adult children. Although his children “have had it a bit easier than [he] did”, Richard and Joan have instilled a sense of responsibility, while surrounding them with closeness and love.

“What you’re really doing is bringing up your children to continue onwards after you. It’s finding the time to be really close to your children. Finding the time to be sure they have 100% love and commitment from a father or a mother.”

In business, unlike many who may just say the words for good PR, Richard believes that running a company is also like a family. “For the people who work with Virgin – it is their home.” And just as he’s created a happy, close multi-generational family, he has done the same thing with his global business family.

2) Live Life As An Adventure and Have FUN!

Life is not meant to be lived as a spectator sport. Whether in our personal life or business ventures, life is meant to be lived as an adventure and, equally as important, we’re meant to have FUN!

No one epitomizes this more than Sir Richard Branson. While he may not be the best businessman or the wealthiest person in the world, he certainly would rank on the short list of those having the most fun. Even George Clooney said he’d trade places with Richard Branson because Richard has so much fun!

Perhaps best known for his record-breaking adventures, Richard, who was raised without television, has always had to be out there doing things rather than watching them. He’s been rescued from the sea by helicopter six times (so far) and loves testing himself through “the great adventure of life” to see what he and others are capable of.

In business, he does the same thing. He’s enjoyed being crazy – living life to its fullest, believing that time is valuable and not wanting to waste a minute. In both his personal/adventurous life as well as in business, pushing the limits has become his way of life.

And, he has fun doing it. “The fact that I have a lot of fun doing what I’m doing means that the 60-70,000 people that work for Virgin enjoy what they’re doing and they’re proud of what they’re doing and they know they can do it with a smile.”

3) Always Look For the Best in People

Richard has created his Virgin team of people by always looking for the best in people. Again, this goes back to his upbringing. “If I ever said a negative word about anybody I was sent to look in the mirror for 10 minutes. That soon stopped me from saying negative things about people. As a leader I think it’s critical that you’re always looking for the best in people. Don’t say anything bad behind someone’s back and you certainly don’t say anything bad to anyone (directly) – they know when they need to pull their socks up a bit.”

Richard has a genuine love of people and loves learning from people. “I love surrounding myself with leaders who are great with people, who care about the person cleaning the floor or the switchboard operator as they would their fellow directors.”

4) Follow Your Heart

Many wonder what makes a man like Richard Branson tick. What makes him so much more successful than others? After all, he doesn’t have an impressive degree or lots of letters after his name. As a middle-class British kid with dyslexia who nearly flunked out of one school and was expelled from another, he left school at 16 years of age, with the goal of building a national magazine to protest the Vietnam War. As Richard says, he was just following his heart and “doing what young people do”.

My favorite thing that Richard said was this – “Interestingly, it sounds strange, but I’ve never been interested in business. I’ve just been interested in creating things that I could be proud of. The bi-product of creating things is that you have to pay the bills, so somebody has to add up the numbers at the end of the year to be sure that the bills are being paid, but a good entrepreneur isn’t really thinking about pounds, shillings, pence or dollars. They’re trying to create this beautiful picture – something which people love – something which will make a difference in their lives and something that they can be proud of. The end result can be that the bills get paid and you build a billion dollar business. But if you think, ‘How am I going to make a billion dollars?’, you’ll never be successful. Your principal interest has got to be creating something that will really make a difference to people’s lives.”

5) Don’t Forget the Humor

Humor is an important part of success and makes life much more enjoyable. Richard shared several examples where he used humor in business, with astounding results.

When he discovered that passengers were stealing the salt and pepper shakers from the Virgin flights, he turned this into a marketing tool by adding “”Pinched from Virgin Atlantic”” to the bottom of the salt and pepper shakers. Now these “pinched” shakers are conversational marketing tools scattered through homes around the world. (I have a set!)

But perhaps the best-known use of humor came at the expense of Virgin Atlantic’s arch rival, British Airways. When BA experienced problems that led to the initial failure to erect the British Airways Millennium Wheel, Branson dispatched a Virgin airship, complete with a Press Association photographer, to fly past the wheel with a banner simply proclaiming ‘BA can’t get it up!’. Virgin’s use of humor upstaged BA’s massive publicity for a mere fraction of the cost.

Richard isn’t afraid to bare his assets either. For the launch of Virgin Mobile, he was lowered into Times Square by crane, wearing nothing more than a cell phone to cover his “private parts”. When I asked him about this event, Richard was quick to point out that “I did have quite a big cell phone, in fact, a very big cell phone”, as he flashed his killer smile.

6) Saying “YES” is a Lot More Fun Than Saying “NO”

Richard Branson remains a corporate iconoclast, yet he continues to defy conventional wisdom, pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, playfully teasing the big guys, saying exactly what he thinks and doing exactly what he wants to do. He’ll say “Yes” to almost anything, once. He lives by his “Screw it, let’s do it!” attitude every day.

Is he crazy? Perhaps. But if so, it’s most definitely “good crazy”. As Richard says, “Saying ‘YES’ in life is a lot more fun than saying no. The nickname I have at the head office is ‘Dr. YES’. In fact, I have a board of directors who are there just to try to stop me saying ‘YES’ to everything, because I just can’t resist new challenges. It’s just more fun to say ‘YES’!”

Richard makes it look easy – Just say “Yes” and then be the best at what you do. “The best never fails. The best airline, night club, hotel, etc. never fails. The key is – get out there, do it with panache and style but create the best!”

7) Failure is Nothing More Than Another Way to Learn

Many never say “Yes” or take the first step because of fear of failure. According to Richard, “There’s no way that you can create a lot of successful businesses and not have failures on the way. If you’re afraid of failure, you’re not going to create anything.”

Eight times Richard tried to be the first to fly around the world in a balloon. And although he wasn’t the first to circumnavigate the globe, he was the first to cross the Atlantic and the first to cross the Pacific.

And although he technically “failed”, still, he has no regrets. “I crossed the Himalayas, had incredible adventures – and survived to come back to Necker to be with the family. That’s helped me understand that there are more important things than being first.”

“I think anyone can do what they want to do if they try to do it and if they give it their best shot. They won’t necessarily succeed and they may well fall flat on their face but they’ll have a lot of fun trying. Just be the best at what they can do and not worry about failure. I’ve actually learned more from people who’ve tried and failed than necessarily from people who’ve tried and been successful. We can learn a lot from people who have tried and failed, because you can also learn the mistakes they made and how to avoid them.”

“If you’ve failed, just pick yourself up and start again the next day and learn from the experience. Be bold and be brave.”

8) Go Make a Difference in the World

Richard is no different than many successful people I’ve met who attribute their success to having a desire to make a difference in the world. Whether in business, personal or philanthropic challenges, he has a way of looking at a particular situation and seeing how it can be done differently. “We can use our entrepreneurial skills to look at the seemingly intractable problems in the world and then see whether we can make a difference.”

In his business: “Virgin looks after your needs throughout your life. Virgin goes against the normal business philosophy of going after one segment and focusing there. Rather, Virgin finds areas that ‘need to be shaken up a bit’ and does just that, improving life in various sectors. The reason I think we’ve strayed (from one sector to another) is that I love learning about life. I see things in life that aren’t being done quite right, where we could go in and make a difference.”

In philanthropy: At this point in his life, Richard is using his entrepreneurial talents for a philanthropic good to make an even bigger difference through his foundation, Virgin Unite. “We unite people to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way. Our aim is to help revolutionize the way businesses and the social sector work together – driving business as a force for good.”

(Virgin Unite’s overhead is covered by Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group, meaning that 100% of donations received go directly to the frontline where they are needed most.)

But he doesn’t stop there. In a conversation between Richard and musician Peter Gabriel a few years ago, they wondered… in an increasingly interdependent world – a global village – could a small, dedicated group of independent elders help to resolve global problems and ease human suffering?

From that, a group of 12 Elders was brought together from all corners of the globe. Nelson Mandela announced their formation in July 2007, stating, “The Elders can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes. They will reach out to those who most need their help. They will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.”

9) Dream Big!

For a man who has built eight different billion-dollar companies, Richard Branson knows how to think BIG. From a magazine to a record label, to an airline to a telecom giant, one has to wonder what’s next for Richard Branson.

Virgin Galactic will unveil their space ship on December 7th, 2009, with rides into space coming soon. “I’m inquisitive. It’s such fun to think, okay, I enjoyed seeing other people go to the moon, and it doesn’t look like NASA is going to let us go to the moon, so maybe we should try to get a spaceship company set up ourselves.” You gotta love the mind and spirit of Richard Branson.

In addition to exploring miles above the world, Richard shared with us his passion for his next venture, Virgin Oceanic. He plans to build a submarine that can probe the depth of the 28,000+ feet deep Puerto Rican trench, located just 10 miles east of Necker Island. “This is a tremendous challenge that no one has done yet, but in 2-3 years time we hope to be exploring the depths of the oceans.”

He’s been around the world in a hot air balloon, soon he’ll blast off into space and then probe never-explored depths of our planet. One thing is for certain: Richard Branson doesn’t live a boring life. He takes action on his ideas and brings his dreams to life and most importantly believes that we all have the ability to act on our dreams.

He summed up his philosophy perfectly when he said, “A critical thing is not to waste a minute of life. Throw yourself whole-heartedly into it. I think that if you can positively have made a difference to other people’s lives when you actually end up on your deathbed, you can most likely be at peace with yourself. Don’t waste a minute and try to make a positive difference in as many other people’s lives as possible.”

10) Be Humble and Stay Grounded

In the midst of extreme wealth, privilege and enormous success, what struck me most about Richard Branson was his air of humility. He is a very down-to-earth guy with no pretenses. In fact, he even seemed a bit shy, which was quite endearing.

Sir Richard Branson | Inspire Me Today

My take away from this is simple – We are all the same. If 99.9% of our DNA is alike, we’re much more alike than different.

When I asked Richard about the temptation to believe all the stories written about him, he smiled and proudly shared that his wife keeps him grounded. After more than 30 years together, he still credits her with being the loving, grounding force in his life that helps him stay on track.

He ended with, “In the end of the day if anyone gets too big for their shoes I think it’s good to just picture them sitting on the loo and you realize they’re just the same as all of us. That can bring people down to earth with a bump.”