“I haven’t felt this happy in 5 years…”

I was in conversation with a family who was about to sell their business. They also happen to be very dear friends of mine.

The parents and son couldn’t find agreement on whether to overcome their differences and keep growing this successful venture together, or part ways and sell the business because they couldn’t see eye to eye on certain details. They had lost sight of the beautiful vision they’d set out with.

They had been unable to communicate openly about what they really wanted. One would have a tendency to blow his lid, and the other two didn’t want to deal with it. So they kept passing the buck to one another, avoiding the elephant in the room and dragging out making a decision.

And yet, the love they have for one another is so obvious by how they speak about each other.

I offered to mediate between the parents and the son. My sole focus was to assist them in making a decision together on what to do with the business going forward. A decision that felt good for all.

I was there to help them focus on solutions, not the problems.

I asked them these kinds of questions:

What is important to you about your family business?

What do you want to see going forward for yourself in this business?

Why do you want what you want?

Are you willing to tell a new story about each other so you can get back on track with the excitement you started the business with?

Are you willing to tell yourself a new story about yourself, knowing that each one of you plays a key part in the success of your business?

After 2 hours of conversation with some heated moments (and a pleasant surprise) they finally put their armour down and made peace with the past. They agreed that they want to keep the business in the family, and they understand that each one has to bring their best self to the table in order for that to happen.

The following day, I saw their son and asked him how he felt after the meeting…

“I haven’t felt this happy in five years,” he replied, with a huge smile on his face. We high-fived to that.

The next day, his mother sent me a text to say they had taken the business off the market, and she shared her excitement. My heart filled up with joy.

Two days, they had their first brand strategy meeting with their new team members to decide on the story they’re telling together as a family owned business. I’m excited to see what they come up with.

This is how fast things turn around when we make ONE decision to feel good about what we’re doing.

What decision will you make today to put a spring in your step and move forward?

Karin

Which is the REAL one?

This is a barn owl…

And this is a barn owl…

barn owl

Which is the REAL barn owl?

I’d like to share a personal story with you about how we create and believe our reality.

I used to spend a lot of time with my friends at our local “Cheers” – a quaint little bistro on the outskirts of Old Town Marbella, where everyone knew our names, and we rarely had to call each other to see if we’d be there after work, because we usually were. The bistro was co-owned by a lovely couple, whom we’ll call Abby and Claire.

Around the same time, I teamed up with a marketing agency located 30 minutes away in Malaga. Their branding clients wanted SEO genius, and my SEO clients wanted additional branding genius. It was win-win for all.

I would drive out early in the mornings, and return late in the evenings because the office was in the basement of the agency founder’s townhouse, and I would often stay on to enjoy dinner with his family.

As a result, I didn’t see my friends regularly, and wasn’t up to speed with what was happening in their lives.

One Monday morning, Abby called me in a panic and asked if she could stay with me for a couple days. Apparently I was the only one she felt she could trust at the time. I called the office and told them I wouldn’t be in that day or possibly the next, and that I would be working remotely from home to take care of some personal business.

Abby arrived at my place and told me that Claire had cheated on her the night before. I was shocked, even though I knew they had experienced some rough times. My home became her safe haven for the next three days while we figured out her next steps.

Abby wanted to return to the UK immediately – she’d had enough of the tumultuous relationship. However, she was petrified of flying, so I offered to fly up with her if that would help her feel at peace during the 2 1/2 hour flight to London. She was overwhelmed at the offer, and graciously accepted it.

We flew up together, and I held her hand while she managed to relax and sleep through most of the flight. I had lunch with her at the airport in London and flew back to Malaga, returning home within 8 hours. Mission completed.

A week later, Claire invited “the gang” out for dinner to tell her side of the story. She told us the relationship had been over for quite some time, even though they were still living together and running the bistro together. Claire admitted she shouldn’t have been open about her budding new relationship yet because of those circumstances, but she also said Abby was living in denial.

I was confused. These two stories were like water and oil, yet equally delivered with powerful conviction.

I knew that if Claire had come to me asking for help first, I would have done exactly the same thing for her. Such was my loyalty towards either of them, and I share this with Claire. She was thankful that I took care of Abby. We were good.

However, I kept wondering… Who had lied? Who was telling the truth? 

Then I came to a powerful realisation.

They were both telling the truth… as they believed it to be true.

It wasn’t up to me to decide who was telling the “real” story, because each one perceived their experience based on what they believed.

The stories we tell ourselves create our reality, and we’ll feel good about it (or not), based on what we believe.

This is why I am so passionate about focusing my mind and what I tell myself, so that I can be the best version of me at all times. I am insatiable in the expression of the REAL me, because I know how empowering this is.

The REAL Me is a loving, kind, generous, well-meaning, powerful, thriving human being… Doing her best in this world to inspire others to be their best. I believe that is the REAL You too, but you have to be willing to believe that about yourself. Right?

Your dreams and the life you wish to experience depend on the stories you tell yourself.

If the story you’re living doesn’t feel good, start telling yourself a new one. It’s in your hands, and in your mind.

It’s as simple as this:

What you believe becomes what you see. First you tell the story, then the story becomes true over time. (tweet this)

Celebrating the REAL You,

Karin

From Little to Great

I’d like to share a story about what we’re capable of creating when we’re truly inspired. And, how GREAT things can happen FAST.

The largest Niki Owl came to life on July 1st, 2012. I had spent the morning with my friends watching Spain’s soccer team win their second UEFA European Championship in a row. It was also Canada Day, and Canada is very dear to me because that’s where I wrote my first book. And it was a week before my birthday, so I was feeling fully inspired by life.

I had adopted a large canvas from a neighbor a couple months before. And by large, I mean 5.5x7ft large.

I knew I wanted to put Niki Owl on it, and had already pencilled my outline on the canvas.

I knew the caption would say, “Life’s a Hoot!”

It leaned against the wall in the living room, and after my morning meditations I would sit in my comfy chair to contemplate the canvas every day. My thoughts flowed between painting a simple illustrated version of him (black on white) or a full colour version.

I would tense up a bit thinking I had to have it all figured out before I started. And that is the kind of thinking that STOPS the best ideas from flowing. So… I gave my mind space from the thing I most wanted to create.

I filled the rest of my days with meetings, SEO projects, personal development, reading in the park. Every evening I would circle back and gaze at the canvas with new eyes.

Painting the canvas seemed daunting. I was so used to drawing half inch versions of Niki Owl, not painting a 5 foot owl.

However, I could feel myself coming closer to that tipping point of giving life to my vision.

We intuitively KNOW when it is time to act with inspiration. And we instinctively know what to DO in that moment. (tweet this)

It’s no surprise then, that after I got home from watching the game I knew I would celebrate the rest of the day painting that canvas, which ultimately meant painting my largest owl to date. I also knew right then what I was going to do.

For the rest of that afternoon and night, I was switched ON.

I started at 2pm and finished at midnight. I took a twenty minute break for dinner while a dear friend came over to see how it was coming along.

I had a minor moment of panic when I felt the background looked like a mess, yet I reminded myself that sometimes things start out looking like a mess, then everything comes together nicely. Even the Masters messed up their canvases and transformed them into beautiful works of art that we pay millions for today (tweet this). It comes down to our curiosity to experiment, and our commitment to honour what feels good to create.

I felt more and more in awe as I saw the owl take shape.

Hour after hour, I painted his feathers, his beak, his feet, the grass he stands on, the outline… and the words he lives by. The largest Niki Owl literally came ALIVE in front of me – eye to eye.

When the painting felt complete, I signed it and gave myself the biggest inner high five ever. Those 8 hours felt like a breeze, because my Genius was on its best game.

Ever since then I am amazed when I look at this painting… I just want to hug him, he’s so real.

Niki Owl canvas art

What is one of your proudest moments in life? One that made your whole being come alive and think, “YES. Life IS good.”

To your Inspiration,
Karin

Photograph of “Niki Owl – Life’s a Hoot” canvas taken by the excellent Joel H. Mark.

What’s Your Happy Place?

Hello Genius,

You may have heard people talk about their “Happy Place” and I’d like to you think about what yours is for a moment. This is important as it affects everything you do.

By this, I mean your internal Happy Place, that special place where you give attention to the things that feel good to you. The things that make your world meaningful and empower you to live fully.

Your Happy Place is where you feel absolutely free and at home within. It typically involves some activity you do by yourself that is fueled by inspiration. It gives purpose and meaning to what you share of yourself with the rest of your world (including what you create, if your Happy Place means creating things like mine does for me).

My Happy Place is making niki owl and writing. By enjoying time in my Happy Place, I’m more centered and present with those around me – friends, partner, passersby, clients and co-creators.

Our Happy Place is where Genius happens best. Where our best ideas, best creations, best innovations, and best relationships are born and nourished.

You notice quickly when you’re not tending to your Happy Place, because relationships, work, creativity, finances, and your sense of being go wonky (and you can feel it clearly). The default mode is often a panicked knee-jerk reaction to get on track, and that’s tiring, isn’t it?

Just as watering plants regularly makes them grow happily, life is a much brighter place when you regularly take care of You in your Happy Place. I know this for a personal fact, and from talking to others about what makes them come alive and sustain their joy.

To quote one of the world’s most appreciated luminaries of owl time:

“The sun is wherever you want it to be.” (tweet this)

Where does the sun shine within You? And more importantly, what are you willing to do to BE in your Happy Place more?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

(niki owl’s Happy Place is basking in joy and being an Ambassador of Good Will & Celebration… in the photo above you can see him embody this as he greets customers at our favourite espresso bar near Denver).

Celebrating your Happy Place,
Karin