Over winter break, I got to spend blissful, uninterrupted, magical time WITH my 5 year-old niece Gelly (her nickname) and my sister Miu (her nickname). There was one particular magical afternoon around 4PM. We all decided to go ice-skating in a tiny outdoor rink made for beginners. As we skated around--the first time I had skated since I was a kid, and I tried my darndest with this clunky red skating aid, something absolutely magical happened:
It started to snow.
Then I thought back: I actually hadn't wanted to come, because I don't really like ice-skating. My hubby has asked me on countless occasions to go WITH him, and I have declined much to his dismay. Ok, I'm more of a four-wheeler old skool roller-skating gal myself. But imagine if I had said "no" to Gelly and hadn't come or sat on the sidelines?
Ok, so we've heard that when you assume things, you make an ASS out of U and ME. I think that's quite a clever mnemonic device. But back to assumptions, one thing we do before we create any kind of change is we assume things: Oh, it's going to be hard, it's going to suck, and then we don't even start. As we approach the Lunar New Year, when I usually start thinking about that 6-letter word in terms of New Year's Resolutions, perhaps just simply beginning WITH this question could be a first step in the right direction: Am I making an ASS out of me? Or someone else?
SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE SIZE
Some of the only Cantonese words Miu knows are small, medium, and large size. At school in Hong Kong, she had to learn how to bargain for clothes: sai ma, jung ma, dai ma. I can almost hear her say these words exactly as she did when she was in middle school. Cracks me up. The other thing that is challenging about CHANGE is that big ol' grand gestures generally don't work to impress it. You gotta start witih sai ma (small size). Once you get comfortable WITH your sai ma change, work on a jung ma one, and then when you're super ready, get that dai ma one going. Oh, and you're welcome for teaching you some Cantonese, so the next time you're bargaining for clothes in Hong Kong, you're ready!
THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE
In a phone call WITH my spiritual South African friend Chris, we were getting into some deep stuff about how you know you're on the right path of growth. What does it feel like? How do you know? I mean, there's so much chatter and distraction out there and in your head--not to mention that next Netflix show to binge watch. I told Chris, "To me, it feels like the path of most resistance. It's easy to distract myself by not working on myself, or watching Ellen on YouTube, but the real work...well, it's tough and feels like the path of most resistance."
EGO DOESN'T LIKE CHANGE
At the retreat I went to a few weekends ago, (you can read about it here) one of the many mind-blowing epiphanies I had was when Bruce, one of the trainers said, "Your ego wants you to hold on to guilt and all of those challenging emotions, because who will you be without it? You'll have to actually change and go towards uncovering your true self." Whoa. That's why change is so hard, because your ego likes things to stay the same.
MIU AS A MOM
After Miu had put Gelly to bed, we would usually have conversations over tea in the living room or watch a show on Netflix together. Then we would head upstairs and brush our teeth together in the bathroom, like we did when we were kids. That night, after I had my first fight with Gelly ever, I apologized to Miu. We both started crying and I told her, "I am so incredibly proud of who you have become as a mother. You are such an amazing, patient person. You never yell at Gelly. You're a total WITH Parent." In response, Miu said, "You know, if you ever have a kid, that kid will be lucky to have you as his/her mom." It's been incredible to see my sister CHANGE.
BE A HAPPY PIG
This Lunar New Year, it's the year of the pig. My mom was born in the year of the pig. And as her dementia is progressing, she is in this sweet spot of staying in the moment, not holding on to grudges, sharing her gratitude, and appreciating every single moment she has WITH us. See, change is not so bad after all, right?
*Dedicated to + Inspired by Miu + Gelly*
Do you ever wonder why you intuitively do certain things? Hang out WITH certain people? Choose some things over others? Go on a path that nobody takes but feel like it's the right path for you? You just knew certain things were clearly right for you and certain things were clearly wrong? Well, at a retreat last weekend along the coast of northern California, I finally figured out the WHY behind ME, and thought I'd share.
BE THE MOVIEGOER
The retreat opened up with a meditation: imagine you are watching the movie of your life on screen. You are the main character in this movie. I had done this meditation before with Luke (president of iPEC) at the World Happiness Summit in Miami last March, but this one was deeper. Afterwards we discussed in pairs what we had seen in the first-person and then later on in the third-person. I've always loved watching movies as a child WITH my Popo ("maternal grandma" in Cantonese) and later my mom, but now I understand why it makes sense to begin watching your own life story as a moviegoer. That objectivity helps you to not react to your emotions or get sucked into the drama. The next morning, as I was swimming, as soon as the inner doubter came out, I started saying, "Kyla, you're a F*king badass!" Whoa.
Ok, this is going to sound, well...I won't preempt anything for you. So when Bruce (Founder of iPEC) began asking us to see ourselves in others (literally), I scanned the room and found confused looks. We were just as confused as each other. He brought up Agent Smith from The Matrix, and how he replicated himself. "Imagine you are Agent Smith," he coaxed gently. I closed my eyes and started seeing not myself in them, but seeing things through their perspective. And then two other major epiphanies hit me:
1) ON EMPATHY
Those of you who are empathetic will be able to empathize WITH me deeply on this point. Have you ever thought that it just makes sense to be empathetic? Like when someone else cries, you cry? Or when someone else feels pain, you feel sensations of phantom pain in your body? Well, I've always been an empathetic person and drawn to other empathetic people, but now I understand why! Because we are all one. I am you and you are me, therefore, it makes sense that I would want to empathize WITH you. Whoa.
2) ON JUDGMENT
I am a super judgey person--I will admit that. On the first day of the retreat, I was silently judging everyone in the room. I think I do it so much it has become an auto-pilot habit of mine. Something shifted in me though after we did the Oneness-Meditation-Agent Smith thing. When I would see people in the bathroom, or pass people during break time at the retreat, I began smiling at people. Because I wasn't just smiling at a stranger, I was smiling at myself. Whoa.
THE POWER OF WITH
"You're like that Simon Sinek guy...you know, The Power of Why (Start with Why), but instead yours is the Power of WITH..." Lee semi-joked. She was a fellow participant and made this comment after I had told her about my book and my whole WITH vs AT communication philosophy. I always knew that the way we communicated AT ourselves and AT others was wrong, but now I understood why. When you connect WITH your true self, that is who you truly are. Not what the world outside projects on to you, nor whatever identity has been created AT you. Whoa.
SILENT LUNCH -> SILENT DISCO
On Day 2 we were tasked with having a silent 1.5 hour lunch. My friend Lisa made funny faces on the walk to lunch. We took to creative ways to communicate WITH each other in silence. Then something amazing happened: Millie (one of our friends) started teaching us the Floss Dance. A new friend Kara joined in. Then before you knew it, we were all running towards the beach, tearing our socks and shoes off, and running to the ocean water like kids.
Kara and I held hands as if we had known each other for years. I had never felt more alive. There were so many life metaphors jam-packed into a silent lunch turned disco, but it came to me when Bruce said, "You know, I work with jail inmates and CEOs. They are no different from anyone else. They are all just kids who want to be loved and treated WITH love and kindness." And in that instant on the beach, I understood why I had always embraced my inner child.
There was a moment of hesitation when I saw everyone taking their socks and shoes off. I worried about ruining my perfect outfit, getting sand in my socks and shoes later, but what an incredible teaching: life is messy and beautiful all at once. Embrace it. And your inner child. If you look closely at the first photo above, you'll notice my sock is pulled above my ankle boot and my legging isn't rolled down--imperfectly! Yeahhhhhh!
COURAGE + RADIANCE
11 minutes. The length of time we had to stare into a fellow participant's eyes. I have to say, it was one of the more challenging activities that we had to do. After a while though, I began to see who my person really was: his inner self. We were asked what one word came to mind after the 11 minutes were up. For me, I saw that my person had had a sad childhood, but had overcome it, so I said, "COURAGE." And for me, he said, "You remind me of one of those Buddhist statues, you just radiate light and energy, so I would say RADIANCE." After our deep connection, I told him about what I saw in his childhood and he said, "You are right. I was bullied as a child because I was short, but I have since overcome it."
Maybe in life, in order to see our true selves in our life movie and uncover the WH(Y) behind YO(U), all we really need are two things: COURAGE and RADIANCE. Ok, and a rainbow sprinkling of silent discos, running like a child into the ocean, and other COURAGEOUS and RADIANT humans like my fellow retreat participants to reflect who you truly are.
*Dedicated to + inspired by the incredible OIA Retreat Team + Participants *
The other night at dinner, "Congrats on your book! One day I'd love to hear how you wrote an entire book!" One of my friend's hubbies exclaimed. Another friend's hubby said, "You've got some balls. You're really doing it!" He was referring to how much I put myself out there. Gotta love supportive hubbies.
THE JOURNEY WITHIN THE JOURNEY
They say, writing a book is like a journey. For sure it is, but I kind of see it as like a marathon kind of a journey. But the real journey begins within. All that stuff people say about "mind over matter," well, it is really true. During this journey, the internal journey was the most grueling. There were days, I didn't want to get out of bed let alone write. There were days, I couldn't confront myself or communicate WITH myself. Then there were the Netflix binge days on the couch. And the worst days were the ones filled with self-doubt: What if nobody reads my book? What if nobody buys it?
FROM BROKEN -> BEING
When I began I needed an outlet. I needed a judgment free space where I could just get my thoughts out on paper/computer. I always feared judgment from others. I feared nobody would read my stuff, or nobody would get it, or nobody would care. But once I started writing more, especially within the last several months, like a bird with broken wings, I began at first to timidly fly, and then I came into my own. I realized I didn't need outside validation, even though it felt good to hear from people how my writing had inspired them or see so many friends around me inspired to write their own books.
BLAME -> COMPLAIN -> JUSTIFICATION
In my Happiness Coach Certification program I learned of this paradigm that we humans fall back on. I found myself in this vicious cycle, and I would hear it from others as well. There was so much that I wanted to change about the way in which we communicate, but my blaming this or that, then complaining about it, and finally justifying it was not going to solve anything. I found myself having the same conversations with like-minded and well-meaning humans, but I wanted and needed to move forward.
THE GIRL WHO WANTED TO CHANGE KOREA
I've always loved Korea. I've always felt at home in Korea, like nowhere else in the world. It may sound strange to hear that someone who has no Korean blood feels this way. When I got my Permanent Residency in Korea a few years ago, I was so stoked. Whenever my students and later clients would have a lightbulb moment, I was ecstatic. One of my Korean friends once asked me, "Why do you think you can change Korea?" I answered, "Korea has been so good to me, how could I not do my part?" Turns out, the challenges people face in Korea are actually universal, so even though my book is coming out in Korean first, stay tuned for the English version on Amazon.
THE BOOK I WANTED TO READ
Throughout my 20s and 30s, I read a lot of self-help books written by western authors for a western audience. Having been educated in the west during my high school years and beyond, I understood where they were coming from. However, I didn't see any non-fiction authors who looked like me. It was kind of like when I was out on the global speaking circuit, I didn't see any men or women who looked like me. I wanted advice, I wanted tips, I wanted heck anything, but I couldn't find it in a book, so I wrote one.
THE GREATEST GIFT
It took me more time than I ever would have imagined, but I knew I wanted to give something back to my students in the form of a gift. All my time I had spent learning, growing, teaching WITH my students, all of the times they had encouraged and supported me, all of the times we had laughed, cried, and created change together both inside and outside of the classroom. I always told them, "You can do it, you can do whatever you want to," but I realized that if I didn't finish this book then I wasn't true to myself nor the message I always told my students. Moreover, the greatest gift I could ever give myself or my students and anybody for that matter was my internal validation of myself. Even if nobody ever bought my book, it didn't matter, because the greatest gift was me becoming me.
I am one of the biggest Taylor Swift fans out there. There, I said it. When I was teaching at Yonsei University, I would often play her music videos to get students excited and to better understand what our theme for the day was. There was "Shake It off" to help students deal WITH those challenging times in life, there was "Fearless" to help us navigate and speak about the dreaded F word, there was "New Romantics" where I pulled out the lyrics "I could build a castle with all the bricks they threw at me" to empower them and remind them how awesome they truly were. Taylor was always there. On particularly rough days, even now, I would go home and watch as many YouTube videos with Taylor in them as possible.
I haven't always been able to admit to people that I have been a big Taylor Swift fan. I thought, I'm not young enough, I'm not in middle school, I'm not and the list continued. Last night, looking out into a sea of LED bracelet lights, I had an LED light epiphany: Isn't that what Taylor always told her fans? No matter who you are or what you do you are just awesome the way you are? And isn't that what you in turn told students by playing her music at the start of each class? Oh yeah, I need to take my own advice.
Recently, I got invited to speak in Italy, and my contact asked if I would need to change certain aspects of my workshop because there would be more people in the room than expected. Something I always try to do, no matter how many people there in my workshops is make them as WITH as possible. Last night, I learned a few lessons from Taylor. Ok, so she had a few million fans there last night...who's counting? I'll get there one day!
WITH HER FANS
At the beginning of the show, she played a clip of "Look What You Made Me Do" and alongside it, she played clips of her various fans' reactions to this video. Everyone knows it is no secret (pun intended) that she has these sessions called "Secret Sessions" where she invites her fans to the different houses she owns in the U.S., and plays the entire album for them before she releases it to the public. They get to dance, hangout WITH Taylor, she bakes them cookies, and just be WITH her. How cool is that?
GRATITUDING WITH US
So Thanksgiving is around the corner and gratituding is a-flowing. While playing the piano before "New Year's Day," Taylor shared her gratitude around the fact that she wouldn't have been there playing if it wasn't for us. I started crying because I thought of my book (my greatest creation thus far) and how it wouldn't have been possible WITHout the many people who have supported me both in the book and on the sidelines of it. I remember looking around at the millions of people who had come out to support Taylor on a week night and thought to myself, Yeah, she would not have been here if it hadn't been for us.
WITH Charlie XCX
Usually the opening singer is just that--the opening singer. You usually see them at the beginning of the performance, and then you don't see them again. Last night, Taylor brought Charlie XCX out again during "Shake It Off," thanked her profusely in front of everyone, and then danced WITH her on stage. Taylor further said, "Charlie XCX is not just a great singer, but a great friend, and it's been awesome to tour the world WITH her."
WITH HER DANCERS
At the end of the performance, she sang "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" and danced around WITH her dancers splashing around in the fountain they had brought on stage. Whaaaat?! It was neat to see that instead of just bowing by herself, she took the hands of two dancers, and ran around various parts of the stage WITH them and bowed WITH them.
So there you have it...my night WITH Taylor Swift.
Is there anything you're doing or holding yourself back from doing? There is still a little over a month left in 2018 for you to truly be WITH yourself, and as the great Taylor Swift says, "Shake it off" and just do it!
On a webinar WITH some awesome European women last Thursday night, one woman asked, "How can we deal WITH negative people or negative co-workers in a WITH way?" I was taken aback. She had asked the question in such a WITH way, and wanted a WITH solution. How cool is that? Following that webinar, a friend of mine posted a FB Live asking for similar advice. This is a sign from the universe, I thought. Oh and I had a shower-piphany (shower + epiphany) about all of this, so here goes.
DEAL WITH YOUR OWN SHIT FIRST
I know you're thinking, this is about the other AT person, not about me. Just like Forgiveness, it never really is about the other person. It is about YOU. When I was at my women's retreat in Bali in December of last year, there was a woman who was particularly challenging to deal WITH. One day when we were out surfing, she made fun of me in front of the other women and the surf instructors: "Hahaha...Kyla actually thought she was surfing on her own!" She was referring to the fact that the instructors would give us a little push, so we could ride the wave easier/faster. I was so pissed. Later talking WITH my friend Nikki (who is also a life coach) about it she said this, "You know, I think you have to ask yourself why this person has come into your life and what it is saying about you and where you are." Nikki was right. People come into your life for a reason and they reflect back what you haven't dealt WITH.
I was asked to write an article for April Magazine (an online magazine by Asian women for Asian women) about corporate bullying. It was telling that I ended up writing about being my own inner bully. I think we all have our own inner bully somewhere that runs wild WITHin us. Before dealing WITH other AT people, we have to deal WITH that inner bully. You know the one that says you can't do something or that you're not good enough. You can check out my article about the Inner Bully here. Remember: You are not alone. One of the key takeaways from that webinar I had on Thursday night: Wow, we all have similar AT voices WITHin us.
LIGHT THEM UP
Ok, so I'm not talking about dropping a match, burning down the AT person's cubicle and walking away Die Hard style. Although believe me, I have thought quite seriously about this with various corporate bullies I have had to deal WITH. But in seriousness, they say people who hurt others are the most hurt inside. Yes, it is cliche, but it is very often true. The very AT people who you want to be AT back to, actually need as much WITH behavior as possible. So find out what it is that lights that person up, what makes their heart sing, and talk WITH them about it. One of my former corporate bullies loved talking about her daughter playing violin. So that is what I would talk WITH her about.
The guru of positive psychology, Martin Seligman came up with something called the VIA Strengths Test, which you can take online for free. Far too often, we focus on negative AT behavior, rather than the AT person's strengths. We all have strengths, sometimes we choose to see them and often we don't choose to see them at all focusing on what we can improve. Just as much as the AT person has stuff that lights them up, they also have strengths. In working WITH a personal trainer, or in my case bootcamp class, my strength training involved building my upper body strength. It wasn't that I didn't have any upper body strength, it was that I had to work hard to build more to strengthen my upper body.
A few weeks ago I was talking a friend into joining an upcoming FemEntrepreneur panel I was putting together. Here's how that conversation went:
Me: Hey, I am putting this panel together, and I think you would be great!
Friend: Ohhhh...I think I have a lot to say, but not much to give...
Me: Imagine if you could empower just one other woman to become a fementrepreneur WITH your story...
And then from there, the conversation took a different turn. Her fear of not having enough to give or speaking in front of an audience was trumped by the empowerment aspect of it all. I think the idea is when you find an AT person, ask yourself: "How can I empower MYSELF and that other person as well?" Oh, and you've sidestepped FEAR without even having to worry about it (!).
Along the same lines as empowering others, what I realized was so powerful during that webinar was that the other women had so many great ideas. Whether we were talking about AT emotions during PMS, or how to deal WITH men in a WITH way, or just how to be kinder WITH ourselves, they were eager to share what had helped them. You realize you're not alone, you realize you can help someone (GROW x2), you trump fear, and you've been able to use a seemingly challenging AT situation to help someone else. Drop the WITH mic!
Ok, I often tell this to clients: GTFO! If none of the above is working, and you've given it your best go, and you'll know deep down, then let go and go. When I was going through a particularly challenging AT corporate bullying experience, a lot of friends would say, "Oh, just stick it out. It will look bad on your resume if you leave before the year is out." What I would say is your mental sanity is so much more important than your resume. Without your mental sanity, there will be no more resumes, right?
CREATE YOUR OWN BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
"It's too long! It's more than 3 minutes long. No one will play it on the radio. It's like opera. Nobody listens to opera anymore..." The words coming out AT Queen, mostly directed AT Freddie Mercury, the lead singer, haunted me. Then gave me HOPE. It was true that nobody had heard a song quite like Bohemian Rhapsody before. It was also true that at 6 minutes, it was longer than the average song. It was true that it had some operatic components. It was hard to disagree with the record label producer. Just because something is DIFFERENT, doesn't mean there's no value. It brought me back to my meeting with the Korean publishing company. My translator lamented, "There are too many pictures. There are too many QR codes." The publishing company's director added, "It's too many pages."
I AM DIFFERENT. I HAVE VALUE. I WILL STAND WITH MY WORK. I CAN #LIVELIKEQUEEN.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO START BELIEVING IN YOUR OWN WORK?
I was catching up WITH two friends from grad school on Zoom. One friend was finishing up her Ph.D. program in the U.S. and was finding it challenging to find meaning in her work. It had been 6 long years, and most recently one of her committee members had committed suicide. Yikes. I could tell that the struggle had been an uphill battle for her. "Should I tell myself that my work has meaning and lie to myself?" she asked us. Then I recalled a conversation I had WITH my other friend in the Zoom call back in March about my book. She told me point blank, "It doesn't seem like you believe in your work. You need to get behind what you're doing, Kyla. Otherwise, other people won't get behind what you're doing either."
WHOA. I HAD TO BELIEVE IN WHAT I WAS DOING.
I then asked my friend point blank as well, "What do YOU need to do to start believing in your work?" You can #LIVELIKEQUEEN.
EMPIREMENT (EMPOWERMENT + INSPIRATION)> FEAR
In a text message WITH a friend, I was trying to convince her to join a fementrepreneur panel I was putting together. She is a seasoned fementrepreneur: she owns three restaurants, has a single out on iTunes, and is starting a sock business. "Well, I have a lot to say, but nothing to give." I reframed it for her: "What if you could inspire just ONE woman to start her own business?" It seemed to trigger something WITHin her. It really wasn't about her. It was about the EMPIREMENT. Back at that record label office, Queen was willing to walk out on their record label, because they didn't believe in their music. It wasn't about them. It was about the music. #LiveLikeQueen
ARE YOU WEARING YOUR FRISKY PANTS?
In most of my coaching calls WITH my coach, she will inevitably ask me, "Are you feeling frisky?" I totally blush and say rather sheepishly, "Yes..." I have asked her what she means by "frisky" and she has said it's whatever I want it to mean. I kind of see it as embracing my inner Kylility--something we ended up talking about on our recent call. I feel like Freddie actually embraced his inner Freddility: wearing whatever he wanted, singing what he wanted to, not changing his teeth (the upper teeth jutted out), and just being himself on stage. As someone who has struggled to be herself and embrace my inner Kylility, I came up WITH an idea. What if in those moments of self-doubt, harsh criticism, unwanted feedback pop up, what if you imagine yourself jumping for joy in your frisky pants? Just as Freddie Mercury had done on stage many a time. #LiveLikeQueen
The great thing about being vulnerable and authentic, and being yourself is somewhere out there, you may just inspire someone else to do the same. The thing with inspiration is that you can't see it, or maybe you refuse to see it, but you can feel it. It's that unbelievable high when someone says, "Hey Kyla, you've inspired me to write," or "Kyla, your blog post made me cry." But really it isn't about them, it's about you. Because the more you inspire yourself WITH yourself, the more ripple effects of inspiration will follow WITH others. You just never know how many countless others will be inspired to do the thing that scares them the most, be the person that scares them the most, and #LiveLikeQueen.
Last night, my friend Alison interviewed me for her awesome podcast called "Permission to Play." In her words, "I interview people who are interrupting their industry, breaking the rules, and following their heart's curiosity." I absolutely loved the idea. Then it got me thinking about how to incorporate more play in our lives as adults. You can catch the podcast in which she interviews me here.
So here are my thoughts on how to incorporate PLAY more in your life:
Yeah, we know all of the research about how it's so bad for us to multi-task and how single-tasking is the new multi-tasking. We know that LED light before going to bed makes it even harder to fall asleep at night. We know that checking social media and keeping up with the Joneses makes us more depressed. Did you know that hunching over a screen also makes you less assertive? So unplug for just 10 minutes a day and create some space in your mind to even begin thinking about PLAYING.
2. THE ART OF DOING NOTHING
When was the last time you did PURE, AWESOMENESS, ELATED nothingness? Be honest. When you just sat and had nowhere to be, nothing to do, no appointments, no agenda, and you just were? I totally catch myself grabbing my phone when I'm waiting for someone or in between appointments. I feel you. Recently, I've been trying to catch the beautiful sunsets I can see from my apartment. I try to savor and capture the beautiful reds, oranges, and sometimes purples that are left behind even after the sun goes down. Try doing nothing. It'll further help create space and ideas for PLAY.
Do you remember when you were a child and you would just while your time staring up at the sky or imagining some wild and crazy adventure? Which then led you to actually having a wild and crazy adventure? Those were the days. Did you know that daydreaming is actually good for us?! Hallelulujah! A new study came out that showed daydreaming is actually not a sign of ADHD but that we are creative and smart! Whaaaaat?! Get your daydreaming caps on.
4. CREATIVE CONFIDENCE
In most of my workshops, I have participants draw something. Invariably, there will be one or two participants who will say, "I'm not good at drawing," or they will try to hide their drawing as I walk by. I get it, I've been there. I used to feel that way all the time, up until I read this book: Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. It's written by two brothers; David founded an awesome global design company called Ideo (pronounced like idea but with an "o"). He also founded the Stanford Design School otherwise known as the d.school and gave a great TED Talk about how to build your Creative Confidence. And no, you don't have to be an artist to be creative and PLAY.
5. USE YOUR HANDS MORE
My dad recently took up woodworking after retirement. He has since built my niece a rocking horse, he has built my mom a 1940s Packard car (similar to the one her grandfather used to drive), and his latest project is a Woody: a station wagon that was popular in the 1960s (!). In a recent phone conversation he admitted he always wanted to use his hands to do this kind of work, and he is so grateful he gets to do it now in retirement. I think there is a certain level of satisfaction to make something WITH your hands. For me, baking and cooking is that something. It makes the meal taste that much better.
6. SCHEDULE PLAYDATES
I have a lot of friends who have kids, and I imagine they also schedule playdates. One of my girlfriends came over with two of her daughters a month ago, and they asked me point blank, "Do you have daughters? Where are they?" They were looking for play dates. My friend laughed it off, but it got me thinking that we adults could do the same. After all, play takes on a whole new meaning when you have play dates.
7. GET GAMING
I don't mean on a device or video games. I mean in real life. Last weekend, Edgar and I pulled out Taboo. For those of you who haven't played it or heard of it, you have to describe a word without using the list of words on the card. Edgar and I had so much fun using inside jokes, being a little bit competitive WITH each other, laughing like kids, and PLAYing.
8. EMBRACE YOUR INNER CHILD
It's funny how as children, we spend so much of our time trying to "grow up" that as adults we often forget to "grow down" and embrace the inner child within. Sometimes when I interact with my niece, I realize that in her world, everything is uncomplicated and simple: she just wants to PLAY and enjoy life. That's it. Wait, life can actually be that simple. We just overcomplicate things.
9. DON'T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY
Last night I watched a movie about J.D. Salinger's life called Rebel in the Rye. After The Catcher in the Rye came out and Salinger became more well-known, people started approaching him and asking him about his novel more. At a dinner party, where he met his future wife, she asked him, "Why are you taking yourself so seriously? It's just a book. I mean, I didn't really even like it that much." Yeah, Salinger, you need to incorporate a little bit more play in your life.
10. COMFORT ZONE
When you play, you're exploring, you're pushing yourself to stray from the norm to the new. Even though initially being outside of your comfort zone feels scary and nerve-wracking, it is actually good for your brain and helps you build new neural pathways! We can actually change our brains.
So what are you waiting for? PLAY more!
*Dedicated to + inspired by my friend Alison who inspires others around her to PLAY.*
I love telling the story of my friend June's 9 year-old son, Brevyn. The story of how he stuck up for his friend Claire who got shoved by another boy, and how Brevyn came to Claire's aid saying, "We don't hit girls." When I asked June how she thought he learned that behavior, she said, "It started early...like in pre-school. He knew and all of my kids know that even if someone hits you, you don't hit back. And you always stand up for someone who is littler than you--boy or girl."
GRIT > GRADES
At Starbucks, after a warm bowl of yukgaejang (spicy beef soup), I sat and asked my friends (two incredible moms) how to create "successful" humans. June immediately said, "Well, it's about grit, isn't it? Research shows this and proves this." I instantly recalled Angela Duckworth's book Grit in my mind. "Kids model your behavior. Beyond grades, you wanna raise kids who will persevere through the tough times, through those extreme times of adversity." I thought of how her father-in-law, their grandfather had just recently passed away. I admired how they were all holding up in their own grit.
For all the challenges being connected online present, one of the things I am grateful for is Class Dojo. It's a website that allows me a sneak peek into what my 5 year-old niece is up to in her kindergarten class. Some pictures that have caught my attention recently are a behavior-based evaluation system. Each student is given a secret number, and each number is placed next to a chart which tells them how well they are behaving. In September, Alexandra won a "Shining Star" award for "exhibiting integrity by doing the right thing when no one is watching."
Imagine if our workplaces actually evaluated employees the same way? I think perhaps we would have less corporate bullying and crazy CEOs slapping their employees and making them kill chickens with a bow and arrow? Ummm...recent true story that has come to light in Korea. Read about it here.
ENVIRONMENT > "SUCCESS"
Chenoa chimed in, "It depends on your definition of success. You know, that's going to be different for everyone. I just want my kids to look back on their lives and be able to say that they lived a full life--and be able to appreciate their lives. It's not about money or the superficial things either." I thought about how she lived her creed, as she was about to embark on a mission trip to Japan the following week. "All we can do is provide a loving and supportive environment in which they can be as successful as they want to be."
A good friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that one of her elementary school aged daughters had woken her up in the middle of the night with a nightmare. "Mom, I had a nightmare of the lockdown drills, but they were actually real, and there was a bad man who was coming to get us." My friend asked for love and support not knowing quite what to tell her daughter. Would grit be enough in this case?
On my weekly call with Dom, a fellow coach, she talked about a woman she serendipitously ran into. She was a total badass. She had written a book but didn't want to promote it locally. As I listened to the story of this woman, I thought of all of the women I had coached, and so many other women I had met who were all badasses, as well as myself. Yet there was a holding back when it came to their own success, my own success. "Kyla, you know what I think? I think you fear success," Dom boldly gave me feedback. I couldn't disagree with her. Is that something I learned as an adult? Because I certainly don't remember fearing success as a child.
POLLUTION of the MIND
As we said our "goodbyes" outside Starbucks, June put her mask on. It was an apocalyptic day: Air quality readings were at 167 (RED)--similar levels to the ones in China. Chenoa commented, "I just don't feel like I have energy with this pollution." I began thinking about how on a micro level, these women were going back to being "productive members of society" in their own words. They were really moulding future generations of leaders. On a macro level, something had gone seriously wrong with the current leaders that had allowed and created this pollution. It was nowhere near a successful or sustainable model for anyone. Perhaps our minds were polluted as adults to believe that success looked like money at the expense of everything else and everyone's health (mental/physical).
I learned about Mindvalley, a global school that delivers transformational education that is powered by the community. The guy who started it Vishen Lakhiani talks about how Mindvalley began as just him offering classes on meditation. He had quit his corporate job at Microsoft and everyone told him that he had gone mad. He and his business partner were trying to scale the business by going to all of these classes on strategy, marketing-- all of the classes they thought they needed in order to succeed. Then one day, they happened upon a class on mindset. They thought they wouldn't need it in order to succeed, but went anyway. And that is when things started happening. Now he has more than 100 employees and his company is a multi-million dollar company. Oh and they are creating more successful humans in the world through transformational education. Not too shabby.
FriYAYs WITH Kyla + Special Guest Anna Koj | On Change + Happiness | November 2, 2018
I have wanted to write and communicate WITH you for several years now, but I am not sure I knew what I wanted to say nor how to say it. You should also know, I avoid confrontations like the plague, I always have. I would rather go around doing something or saying something, anything, just so I can avoid saying what needs to be said or doing what needs to be done. Today that ends here WITH this letter to you.
I first met you when I was in elementary school. I was taught that if I avoided you, I would have a (false) sense of safety and even security. If I didn't follow the school's rules or society's rules for that matter, I would feel you breathing down my neck in the form of a stern talk or a scolding. So I always tried my best to avoid seeing you.
As I grew older, I found that you were inextricably linked to success. My idea of success was all about getting good grades so that I could eventually get into a good college, get a good job, then a good ____, and a good _____, and so on and so forth. My parents didn't push me, they weren't tiger parents per se, but my sister and I always knew that we had to get good grades. I recall in middle school and even high school, how my heart would beat faster and I would feel you creeping up on me when I'd get a report back or a homework assignment back.
In high school in the U.S., you taught me to fit in. I would sense you coming, intuitively, when I'd say something different in my British accent like "bin" instead of "trash can." It was at times subtle-- a glance here, a whisper there. And at times not so subtle--not getting invited to weekend outings, not having people to sit with at meal times, and not having anyone to walk to breakfast with in the mornings. I grew to avoid you by losing my British accent so I could conform.
In college, I began trying to understand the world around me more. I'd read the news or I'd watch T.V. I sensed you coming whenever I met people who didn't look like me or who may come from a different background from me. I recall meeting people from a different religion who also encountered you and definitely didn't want to hangout with me because I wasn't particularly religious at the time.
You would show up, after college, whenever I wanted to try something new, whenever I wanted to push myself. You were there in all of my travel adventures whenever I would go to a new and exotic destination. You were there when I started speaking globally. You were there in all of my new jobs. For better or worse, you were a constant companion throughout my 20s/30s.
IT'S TIME to CHANGE
In the last year or so, I have been doing some work on myself WITH myself and realized that I don't really need you in my life anymore. I don't mean this in a harsh or negative way. I think I have learned a lot WITH you over the last four decades you have been in my life. You have taught me some incredibly powerful lessons, like that you live inside my mind, and that if I want to change, well, you have got to go. I am grateful for all of our time together, all of the memories, I will never forget you.
Yes, this is us breaking up.
CRUTCHING -> CRUSHING IT
Basking in the fall sun like cats at Coffee Bean, we sipped our green tea lattes letting our Thai lunch warm our bellies. Inevitably with Dom, Brendon Burchard's name would come up. She had attended a conference where he and a bunch of other life gurus spoke. I looked at her enjoying her green tea latte, wondering if I she would be open to feedback on how I thought she had been CRUTCHING IT.
"Hey...you know how you bring up Brendon Burchard a lot?" I started out slowly and cautiously.
"Hahahaha...is it that obvious?" She burst into laughter. You could always count on Dom to laugh WITH herself.
"Well, why do you think you refer to his stuff more than your own stuff?" I asked.
"Oh, I like to learn...I mean I love learning new stuff..." she answered openly.
"Why don't you learn new stuff about YOURSELF then rather than Brendon Burchard?"
CREATE YOUR OWN SHIT
Whenever presenters use stock photos or memes that they didn't create themselves, I would feel myself getting increasingly irritated. I never really knew why, but I would just say in feedback to my past university students or other presenters seeking my advice, "Why don't you take your own photos? And use them? You could create your own meme too!" Ok, I know it's a lot of work to create your own stuff, and it's easier to hit <CONTROL C> and <CONTROL V> but that's only short-term. Long-term, when you create your own stuff, you are learning in the process about yourself.
TIDY YOUR LIFE
At Dom's house, I picked up and quickly skimmed Marie Kondo's book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up." From what I could gather she warns readers not to do a bit of tidying up here and there, but rather she recommends getting rid of stuff that doesn't spark joy anymore. It made sense: from a happiness point of view, I had learned that if we don't have physical spaces in which to be, mentally it would be almost near impossible to invite happiness in. Kondo goes on to say how clients of hers had radically changed their lives after taking her courses on tidying.
Over dinner that night, Dom and I joined Riza for our monthly mastermind. Riza talked about someone in her life that was not bringing her joy anymore. She went on to list reasons (or were they excuses?) as to why she couldn't quite let this person go, even though this person had deeply hurt her. Why is it so much easier to toss out that old pair of skinny jeans than speak your truth to someone who has hurt you? Or is it just perceived as such in our minds?
As most of our mastermind sessions ended--with full bellies, full hearts-- this one also ended with a simple yet profound question: "What can we do to help you or support you?" We took turns answering. The spotlight was on me now. Dom recalled our Coffee Bean conversation and asked, "You know, do you really want to do The Happiness Workshop stuff or have you been using it as a CRUTCH?" My heart stopped. I mean, I had just spent a ton of money on my Happiness Workshop promo video, I knew all this data/research on Happiness, and I had so many more reasons or were they excuses? Was she right?
Our IKEA table in our master bedroom is covered with brown wrapping paper. You know, the kind that you wrap parcels with before you send them off? On that brown paper, I have scribbled my vision board if you will around 3 words. Marie Kondo will be happy to hear, I cleared up a bunch of stuff that was lying on top of those 3 words so I can actually see them clearly now! I began telling Riza and Dom about those three words I came up with: "It began because my friend Tammy asked me what I wanted to do? What I saw myself doing? And I think I just blurted out, I really just wanna travel, speak (my truth), and inspire...I wanna go on my book tour and talk about WITH vs AT. I wanna talk about my own shit."
Riza's two dimples lit up her face and she beamed, "Kyla, you look so much happier talking about WITH vs AT, I really feel like it's the thing that lights you up." I looked over at Dom and she smiled and nodded.
There it was. I had tidied up my life into three words that sparked joy: TRAVEL.SPEAK. INSPIRE. I had been using other people's research and work on Happiness as a crutch, so I wasn't crushing it, and it was high time for me to not just tell people to create their own shit, but start doing that myself.
Thanks Dom + Riza.
SpeakHER. InsipireHER. TraveleHER.