Yearly Archives:2015

The Choice is Yours

MGM smaller fileBy Mary Grace Musuneggi

“Everything happens for a reason. Some times that reason is that we acted stupid and made bad choices.” -Unknown

I read this quote some time ago and it immediately made me laugh. But then after some more serious thought, I realized how true it really is. When I look back at times where I made mistakes, or found life confusing, or felt my world was turned upside down, in many ways those moments were the result of having a choice and not making the right one.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to have dinner with Jack Canfield, motivational speaker and author. He is best known as the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. During a discussion of his books, he expressed his belief that wherever we are in life is because of the choices we made. And wherever we go from here will be the result of the choices we make going forward. We can’t do anything about the choices we have already made, except learn from the bad ones and applaud the good ones.

Now you may be thinking that some choices were made for you. Someone else made the decision. But in those times you made the choice to accept the decisions that were made for you. Or you think that some things in your life happened that were totally out of your control–the things that happen by chance or accident.  It’s just life: a car accident; illness; death of a spouse; loss of a job.  But there is still a choice…not in what is happening, but in how you respond to what is happening.

There are stories in the news every day of people who have experienced horrific life changes and have risen above the problem to lead amazing lives. All because of the choice they made in response to their experience; all because of the choice they made to accept the challenge.

Thankfully most of us will never face these kind of ordeals, and our choices are more of the day to day, how to get through the day kind of things. We can make the choice to live each day like Winnie the Pooh or like his friend, Eyeore.

Winnie the Pooh was my son’s favorite character when he was a child, and Winnie the Pooh is one of my heroes. Pooh knows what will make him happy, and he pursues it with passion. When he goes in search of honey, he makes the choice not to be diverted by anything that gets in his way—not bees, not blustery days, not getting stuck in a tree. No matter what life brings, he is persistent, single-minded, and chooses to make the best of every day.

On the other hand, Pooh has a donkey friend named Eeyore who makes the choice to spend his days worrying, complaining, doubting, and insisting that nothing good will ever happen. At the end of the day, Pooh is reveling in a pot of honey, while Eeyore has had the kind of day he had made the choice to have.

If we make the choice to be an Eeyore, we can choose to worry about everything, complain that we will never have what we need, blame others for our plight in life, and pronounce at every turn that life has treated us unfairly. If we do decide to do that, then it really all does come down to the fact that there is a reason for everything. And the reason is, “sometimes we acted stupid and made bad choices.”

I Want To Be Alone, But…

MGM smaller fileBy: Mary Grace Musuneggi

As the Russian ballerina, Grusinskaya, in the movie Grand Hotel (1932), the melodramatic actress Greta Garbo said, “I want to be alone.” These words also became associated with her in her private life.

But in a rare interview she clarified her intent: “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be left alone!’ There is all the difference.”

Once a year I go on a private retreat. I leave the city, leave Tom and the dog, and leave the office. I escape. I have been doing this every year for a very long time.

I want to be left alone, I want to be alone…but what I don’t want to be is lonely.

Sometimes women don’t know how to differentiate the left alone, from the alone and the lonely. Too often they think these are all the same.

But being left alone means that no one is making you crazy at the current time—not your kids, your dog, your spouse, your relatives, your boss…not the world at large. “Left alone” can happen at any moment in time and on any day, even if it is just for an hour. It can be an escape to the bathroom for a long shower; an appointment at the local salon to get your hair done; or a visit to the neighborhood spa for a massage. To make this an exceptional momentary escape, don’t tell anyone where you are going. Or leave the cellphone in the car. Before you go home, stop for coffee at a quiet bistro or sit on a bench in a nearby park watching the birds or reading a book. The very joy is having some time where you are truly “left alone.”

Being alone is another dimension. It is beyond just having a few moments or hours where no one bothers you. Being alone is a deliberate decision to spend time with yourself…to spend time with your thoughts. It is going on retreat. There are no cellphones allowed. It is a time to restore your sense of self and your sense of well-being. It is a necessity, and it requires a few days, not just a few hours. It requires planning: Sitters for the kids and the pets. Days off from work. Money. But the reward is worth all of the time, money, and planning efforts. The reward is a kinder, gentler, happier, healthier you. And that is a reward that all the members of the family or employees of your company can also enjoy.

Now the irony of this is that too many women think being left alone and being alone equate to being lonely. Interestingly, it is those women who are so very “not lonely” who most need the time to be left alone and need the time to be alone.

Being lonely is depressing. Being left alone is refreshing.

Being lonely requires therapy. Being left alone can be life changing…being alone is therapy.

Being lonely sends some women into a tailspin where they reach out for the first (often unsuitable) relationship that shows itself. Being alone sends you into a relationship with yourself that reminds you all you have is all you need. And if some other person enters your life, they could be a nice addition.

Being lonely is typically not a choice. Being left alone can be a quick decision…being alone is a conscious choice.

To maintain your focus, carve out some time in every day where you are left alone. To maintain your sanity, plan an extended time to be alone. To maintain a happy life, make an effort to not be lonely. Join an organization; take a class; volunteer in your community; invite a co-worker out for dinner. Enjoy the company of others…then enjoy some time alone.


Success & T.E.A.M. Work

 MGM smaller fileBy: Mary Grace Musuneggi

When I think about success, I recall Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Definition of Success”:

 To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

I appreciate the way this poem gets to the heart of success–it’s not just about one person existing alone; success is about people connecting and sharing their experiences. In professional environments, I have often seen people find greater success solving problems when they work with a partner. Better yet, it’s important to have a T.E.A.M mentality: Together Everyone Achieves More.

Some of us are self-motivated, and once we make the decision to go after something, we do it. For others there needs to be a person behind us moving us along – a coach. Besides the obvious sports coaches, today there are people to coach us in every area in our life. There are career coaches, life coaches, fitness coaches, business coaches…

Sometimes they are called consultants; people who you can consult to get good input on how to reach your goals: financial consultants, marketing consultants, investment consultants, make-up consultants…

To reach your personal goals, make a list of people you think would make a good coach or consultant to help you find (and take!) the right steps to your life goals.

Chances are that what you are trying to accomplish in your life has been done before. Who do you know that has been down the road you want to follow? What qualities do they have that you need? How did they do what they did? Would they be willing to share their knowledge? Can you follow in their footsteps?

Read the “Richest Man in Babylon.” Learn the value of having mentors – a group of like-minded people who can inspire and fill the gaps in what you can and cannot do on your own.

Build a mastermind group. In Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, he demonstrates the value of having his own special group of people who have an interest in his success. If you don’t have all the skills you need—and most people do not—gather together a group of talented people who can complement your talents.

The best people for your group will be those who have a vested interest in you—people who will also benefit if you are successful. For instance, in my business I have people we count on to provide us with products and services for our business. The more successful we are, the more of their services we use. That means our success helps their success. So we have asked them to be part of our team. We also started a program many years ago called “Friends Helping Friends.” We ask our clients and business associates to introduce us to their friends, family, organization members, and business associates. When they do and these people become our clients, we reward the introducing client with invitations to special events including our “Friends Helping Friends” Gala event that is held every October.

Most of us already know many people who can help us, but for some of us we will have to go out and find those people. This is “networking,” a process to get you out in front of the people who have the information and skills you need to reach your goals. Sometimes networking starts by joining a group with similar interests to yours. This can be a social or business group. Sometimes networking just means being out in your community, getting involved in your church, attending classes at the local community college, or working to raise funds for a charity.

But the fact is, we never have to go it alone. When we meet a challenge and we know we can’t move forward without more information or experience, we need to find the people who have it and make them a part of our team.

The most successful people know what they know and what they don’t know, and they surround themselves with a T.E.A.M. of people who fill in the blanks.