If you're busy building your family or your career (or both), chances are you might wake up one day and go, "Wait, this is not the life I ordered; this is not how I thought it would turn out!" Maybe you're at a crossroads or turning point and you need a reminder that you can always HIT THE RE-SET BUTTON! Life is about trying, messing up and trying some more. Everyone deserves a chance to start over...whether you got fat or fired; you're dealing with depression or divorce or maybe you just got stuck...you can always call for "Take 2!" I've done it and have never looked back. I think life is a series of holding on and letting go. The trick is to know when to do each one. I have found that anytime is a good time for a re-do. This is your life and you should be living it based on your rules!
Sometimes we need to let go of who we were so we can make room for who we are becoming. It's easy to fall in love with a former version of ourselves; when we were younger, or thinner, or married, or had a different job. We get stuck there. The key is knowing when to walk off the stage and on to the next. Sometimes we forget our music and the steps to life's dance seem to feel awkward and we trip all over ourselves. That's when we need to rely on others to play our song back to us and to know that when we figure out who we are NOW. Look, you can always hit the reset button and be stronger than ever.
- You say it may seem indulgent to restart your life, but as women we need to learn to PUT OURSELVES FIRST. Why is that so important?
This is the constant lesson that keeps coming back to us as women, because we still don't get it! As women, we get stuck in that comfortable place of nurturing, loving, pleasing and giving. And that's great - it's one of our greatest joys. But we forget that when we empty out on all of those things, we do a disservice not only to ourselves, but to those who love us. You become resentful. It builds up to the point where if you're not at the top of your list, no one gets the best of you.
Sometimes you have to stop achieving and start receiving. You have to vote for yourself first. When I was growing up, I was a cheerleader at my school. After the girls were elected by the students, we had to vote on the head cheerleader. Well, I was "Little Miss In Charge," and I really wanted to be the head cheerleader! But when we wrote our choices down on secret ballots, I voted for someone else instead of myself. And then I thought, "Oh no, what if it comes down to one vote?" You know what? In life, it often comes down to one vote. If we don't even have enough confidence to vote for ourselves, we're basically teaching our coworkers and children and mates not to value us either if we don't value ourselves. It's crucial that we value who we are enough to put ourselves at the top of the list and make sure we fill up on the resources we need - mind, body, soul and spirit- so we can give as much as we want.
I like to say YES. We all do, but often we agree to something and then we feel overwhelmed or resentful and we begin to berate ourselves for not having the guts to "just say no." Here's how I've figured it out. Make sure Y-E-S stands for Your Empowerment System. Think about what you need to feel empowered. For me, I need to feel confident and capable, valued and secure. When an opportunity comes up where I have a choice, I filter the decision through that lens. If it fits into my YES, then I agree. If not, I can say no without having a second thought.
- You also talk about the importance of IDENTIFYING PACESETTERS in your life. What do you mean?
Pacesetters are the people who literally set the pace for you. The ones who have the work you want or the relationships you desire; maybe they have the body you want or the patience. Success leaves clues, so I began to watch people who had what I wanted. I created a little team of women who set the pace for me. Some of them have been on my list for a long time.
Olivia Newton John is one of mine. Since the 80's, I wanted to be her! I even cut my hair like hers from the Physical album and wore headbands like she has on in the cover! I never dreamed I would one day be friends with her. She invited me to join her on the Great Wall of China for an international fundraiser for her wellness center in Australia. It was just after I finally decided I'd throw in the towel in a marriage that wasn't working. I signed the divorce papers and the next day I was on a plane to the Great Wall. On that trip, she said some things to me about trusting where I was in that moment and being present. It was about opening up and softening up. I saw her do it. She was in love again. I saw her recreate her career and her happiness. I was really inspired and let her example remind me that I could have that, too.
And one of my Barbie dolls growing up was Barbara Walters! She's on my list, as is the queen of reinvention, Jamie Lee Curtis. I think it's helpful for women to come up with a list. We borrow from each other. It's about being open to learning and growing. And then you have to ask, "What am I doing to pass it on to other women?" I looked at other women, either ahead of me in career or in age, and through them I found the confidence that I could get there, too.
- One of the best ways to inspire change is to BECOME UNPREDICTABLE. What are some ways to do this?
Sometimes we have to change our energy and the way we respond to the world to become who we want to be. You know what they say, "If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done." Starting over is a good time to lighten up and shake things up. If we think everything is serious and everything is an emergency, then our vibe will be way too heavy for others to want to be with us and eventually we lose excitement for everything. One of the great things about getting older is looking at life backwards and in my rear view mirror, I can see where "light" therapy always works. Sometimes all you have to do is lighten up and laugh! Kids are great for this, because they force you to be spontaneous and get you out of your head. And doing that -- being fun, being silly sometimes -- that's what causes us to fall in love with other people AND ourselves. We don't want to be around heavy people with toxic energy. And that's the energy we produce for ourselves when we go down the path of drudgery and sameness.
The unpredictable thing I did when I turned 50, was doing Dancing with the Stars. It forced me to let go of all the "controlling" I thought I was doing! It gave me another lens through which to see the world and I respected myself for taking it on. You only earn respect from things that are difficult. There are a million things I do for work every day that are easy-breezy. I could do them with my eyes closed. But when I climbed Machu Picchu, and drove a race car , when I jumped out of a plane -- those are the things which allowed me to see myself differently and to become more courageous in every aspect of my life. And it doesn't have to be these kind of thrill-seeking activities. You grow your courage when you pick up the phone and talk to someone who is going to fire you, or break up with you, or whom you haven't spoken with in years. You respect yourself a little more every time you call and book a mammogram or face bad news. You have to give yourself opportunities to grow your courage, and often that comes from being a bit unpredictable.
- In the book you recommend CREATING A "RETRO APPROACH" to life. Explain that.
A retro approach is just really getting honest with yourself and simplifying things. It's about being clear on what your values are and then pledging allegiance to them. If you're overburdened, rewind. When in doubt, "cut it out" - delete the things that are just in your orbit because we live in a cyber-world where everything seems relevant. It's not. Ask yourself, "What is it that makes me happy? What causes me to slow down?" You have to think about the basics. If your body is tired, exercise your mind. If your mind is tired, exercise your body. Look for sanity sanctuaries - for me, my bath every night is my sanctuary. It's my ritual. My chance to feel I'm washing away the troubles of the day and soaking up warmth and nurturing energy. Create these ritualized moments and life becomes more manageable. My mother did this when I was a girl and would come home from school crying about something, she'd say, "Honey, let's make a chocolate cake." We called it the 'Crisis Cake.' It wasn't so much about the cake; it was the process, the ritual. By the time we cracked the eggs, mixed the ingredients, and talked it out, I felt better. Give yourself the gift of knowing that feeling better or reinventing can be a process of taking time to reconnect with what really matters to you when you strip all the clutter away.
- For years we've been told to find balance in our lives. You say it's time to BUST THE BALANCE MYTH. What do you mean?
Balance is bogus. Trying to achieve balance just forces you to feel like a failure; there is no actual balance, no middle of the see-saw. I spent my twenties and thirties looking for it. The biggest pressure comes off when you can stop pursuing this phantom.
Now, I say I don't even WANT to be balanced, because that would mean that every day is the same and all the people in my life get the same amount no matter what. When the kids were little, there were days I knew I wouldn't be balanced. I knew I'd be on assignment and out of town for bedtime. Rather than beating myself up, I'd navigate the next two days investing in them. Anyone with kids knows you can't balance it out with them. You have to love them differently, based on what they need at certain times. When I chased balance, I was trying to breast feed my daughter, go on assignments, be a good wife, find time to work out, hang with my friends, be a mentor, change the world....STOP. The way I got through living my life from high atop the balance beam was just not to look down. Well, how long do you think that works? I found that knowing my non-negotiables helped. For me, navigation became the goal -- not balance. Effort became the objective. I use the first five and the last five minutes of every day to deep-breathe and stretch. I go over some basic thoughts in my head, "Who am I? Who am I in the world? Here's what I did well today. Here's what felt bad. Here's what felt great. And now I'm going to let it go." Navigation for me always means bringing my ship to shore when the day is done and walking away. It will always be there tomorrow should I decide to jump back in, and then I can chart another course.
FIVE OF LEEZA'S TOP 20 RULES FOR SUCCESS ( In business and life, as excerpted from Take 2)
"Write what you know" is what they tell you, so that takes me to my self-taught, trial and error business strategies for work/life satisfaction. I do have tips on how to build a career you're proud of, a family you love, a reputation that honors you, and still manage to be sane and grateful as you move ever forward. I preface this by sharing my definition of success, which is: Having choice about how I spend my time; contributing something of value that makes me proud while not compromising my standards and honoring my need for putting my family first.
I know my mom would be happy to know that after 30 years of working in a very competitive, public business I still have my feet on the ground. But as, Oprah says, now I just wear better shoes! There are no secrets; just strategies, so here are mine.
1. Be flexible on your dream. I thought when I started working that I would be in charge of my destiny. I brought with me to the work force my "fondness for being in control," as my mom used to say. Imagine my shock when I started my journalism career and I wasn't running the newsroom or covering world events like my Barbies had when I played reporter…I was called the newest anchorette…they said I was cute as a speckled pup and if I would wear tight sweaters and peroxide my hair, I'd probably make it—no one ever said that to my Barbie! I wasn't in charge of anything, not even the way I looked. I had to change my thinking. I decided to be flexible on my dream and find another way in.
Enter Entertainment Tonight where my motto became: Don't fight it, light it! And they did. My legs were featured next to Mary Hart's legs buffed up and shined up, made to look miles long. I had never expected to be on the second string, but I was second fiddle to Mary, and it actually gave me a place to stand out. I kept my eye on the prize and tried not to block the blessings along the way and after 10 celebrity-crammed years as co-host of Entertainment Tonight I got my own talk show where I could call the shots, book the guests and run the format. A control freak's paradise! Know your non-negotiables, but be flexible as much as you can. The road to the top of your mountain probably has detours, bends and even a few dead-ends. This is your sign you're on the right path.
2. Be fearless with change. This is different than flexibility. I mean get ready to have the rug pulled out from under you and master the change by facing it down. I can't tell you how many times I've had new bosses come on board, contracts that didn't happen, opportunities that went belly up, promises that weren't kept. You either get bitter or you get on with it and you face the change. Why do we need to be masters of change? I think it's because the quality of your life depends on the decisions you make and your willingness to embrace forward-moving change.
In order to change you have to be fearless. Change means letting go of fear. Fear is that thing that keeps you in your comfort zone. It keeps us static and immobile. It helps to think how fear decreases as value increases. You may be deathly afraid of public speaking but if I paid you a million bucks you might get over it. I'm terrified of sharks, but if my child fell into shark-infested waters I'd dive in without a second thought. So would you.
In business, focus on the value you get from the change. There is always an upside.
3. Prepare, Prepare and Prepare some more. With all due respect to the "naturals" out there and to those who thrive on the pressure of deadlines (myself included) there is really no shortcut for being ready. Learning your lines, doing the research, reading the reports - whatever your job entails, make sure you have given it proper respect. Of course there will be times when you'll have to wing it, and do things on the fly, but usually if you look behind the curtain, you'll find successful people have prepared to be successful.
4. Be an Optimist. This is where my friend Jeff says I get into trouble. He would also admit, it has worked for me. It's my natural view of the world, but even if you are a cynic who believes that "just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you," hear me out. You have a choice on how to view things. Always. I'm not saying be unrealistic or Pollyanna, but when you choose to look at the positive side, you tend to save time and energy. Being a pessimist just muddies the water longer.
People like those who think positively. It inspires others to reach higher, too.
The Optimistic black hole is where you want to avoid - where my friends have seen me lost. That's where you continue to see the best in a person or situation long after the ship has sailed.
5. Be Grateful and Gracious. Eckhart Tolle says, "Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." I believe that 100%. If you can't be grateful where you are, you'll never get where you want to be. Maybe it's not the "end of the rainbow" job for you. So what? Show gratitude. This is the foundation upon which you build more. Not showing gratitude makes you miserable and jaded; jealous and petty.
It is not a sign of weakness to be nice. There is an honorable way to say no, walk away, conclude a relationship, disagree or even be in litigation. When I have a choice on whom to hire, I always tip the scales in favor of those who were grateful and kind and who are known to show respect. It is the secret weapon for getting things done. Offer encouragement and show gratitude through texts, e-mails, notes and other offerings appreciate which show your graciousness. Cheer on others. Really root for them. You will be part of their jet stream of success.