Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tip#25: When One Door Closes Another Door Opens - Erin Brockovich

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
Alexander Graham Bell

Exactly one week ago today I opened up a copy of Toronto's Metro News and saw a photo of myself featured in the column, "On The Move". It felt so good to see my name in print along with my job title of Motivational Speaker! It was exciting and that moment reminded me of the quote above. It also reminded me how the column interview would not have happened had I not trusted in my gut at the time.

To understand more I need to take you back another week before the Metro News feature came out. It was the same Wednesday I had a bomb drop on me that a dream project for my motivational speaking services I'd been working on for months had been terminated by my client (see Tip#22). I was in shock and easily could have slipped into a depressed, reclusive state. Thankfully, a friend of mine offered to cheer me up by taking me to lunch at The Stem on Queen St. West.

Two hours later I was crossing an icy street corner to meet my friend just outside the restaurant when I recognized Toronto media personality Enza Supermodel standing there. Still feeling down and unsociable I chose to walk by without saying hello.

Now let me take you back just two days earlier because I had just met Enza for the first time at a book launch. We had a nice chat and I told her how much I liked her newspaper column 'On The Move' that featured random people she interviewed on the street. Secretly though I always wanted to be in Enza's column!

You can probably see some magic unfolding here. Thankfully I have trained myself to recognize that synchronicity and serendipity is always at play and that it was presenting something bigger here.

So as I walked by Enza on that chilly street my gut told me to turn around and say hello. Despite my depressed energy I turned towards Enza and mustered up a mumbled greeting. She recognized me and enthusiastically asked if she could interview me. I was a little surprised but willingly did the brief interview and had my picture taken. This all seemed surreal because two hours before I was feeling extremely rejected and worthless and here was someone wanting to share with the world the value of me and what I do!

Erin Brockovich (2000)

The biographical drama, Erin Brockovich, is about the resilience of a single mother persevering with a class action suit against a corporation that damaged the environment and the health of a community. Erin, played by Julia Roberts, is an inspiring example of a woman demonstrating inner strength, tenacity, passion and perseverance. And though she can be abrasive, rude and angry at times she still shows how she can stand up for herself when confronted by people and even large corporations.

The feeling of rejection can be debilitating as anyone has experienced. My failure at work was a blow to my self-worth and confidence. What inspired me to move forward and when things appear hopeless are movie heroes like Erin Brockovich who always maintained her self-confidence and self-esteem in the face of adversity and rejections. This is shown in a montage early in the movie of a series of rejections as she inquires about jobs over the phone. Erin's strong proactive attitude eventually got her the job that led to her amazing history making success with environmental causes.

Inspiring Themes:
• Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem
• Passion & Perseverance
• Resilience
• Leadership
• Career Transitions
• Indestructible Optimism

And so last week's news article was not only a dream come true but a testament for finding my inner strength to go through the open door in front of me when one had shut unexpectedly. It reminds me that there is a silver lining to every cloud. Imagine all the hidden opportunities that are waiting for you if you just stay alert and open.

Be inspired by movie heroes like Erin Brockovich who remain confidence and resilient when faced with unexpected challenges. Keep your head up despite the weight you feel upon you. Wipe off the mud slung at your face to keep your eyes clear. Rise above your feelings of rejection and watch for your own doors opening in front of you!

“Look, I don't know shit about shit but I know right from wrong!” 
Erin Brockovich (2000)

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tip#24: See 'Groundhog Day' over and over and over...

February 2nd is Groundhog Dayand it is just around the corner from this entry so allow me to celebrate one of my all time favourite movies. If I got to choose a series of movies to be part of a 'How To Have A Better Life On Planet Earth' collection I would definitely include Bill Murray's film, Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day (1993)

The romantic comedy Groundhog Day is about a self-centred weatherman named Phil (Bill Murray) that finds himself living the same day over and over again. The film is both hilarious and deeply insightful on how he learns to break out of his time loop by thinking more of others and by becoming a better person.

I remember seeing the movie when it was first released in 1993 and enjoyed it for it's comedy and intriguing twilight zone type story. I loved all the fun possibilities of redoing a day over and over again which is hilariously explored in the movie. Imagine eating whatever you wanted and being completely fearless with getting anything you desired. It wasn't until years later that I began to see Groundhog Dayin a new light that I was, in fact, stuck in my own loops of unpleasant life situations and relationships.

I remember one day during a low period of my mid-life transition I happened to catch Groundhog Dayon TV. There was a scene in the movie that hit me hard for the first time. It's the scene where Bill Murray's character Phil was lying in bed utterly depressed with a complete sense of hopelessness. You could see he had finally surrendered to his situation and that his day may repeat over and over again forever. For me it was like a big mirror reflecting the dark state I was in.

If you have ever felt lost like that then you know what I mean when I say there can be a sense of comfort witnessing someone else go through similar pains. You feel you are not alone in your situation and that can be a helpful source of energy. And any drop of energy can be gold when you feel you are at the end of your rope. So as the movie hero faces his challenges and learns how to rise above it, that too can become powerful fuel for finding your own strength to keep moving forward.

Celebrate Groundhog Dayby watching the movie. And ironically like it's story, repeat viewings of this movie can reveal so many of it's motivating gifts to you at different times of your life. Let it mirror the situations in your life that you feel caught in repeating over and over again. You will be reminded that no matter how bad things get that a day will come where everything will be okay.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Albert Einstein

Emmanuel Lopez© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tip#23: Synchronicities From 'The Pursuit of Happyness'

There's this man drowning. A boat comes up to him and asks if he needs any help. The man says, "No, I'm waiting for God to save me. Another boat comes up to him and asks him if he needs help. The man says, "No thanks, I'm waiting for God to save me". Finally the man drowns and goes to Heaven. He asks God why he didn't save him. God says, "I sent you two boats, you dummy."
The Pursuit of Happyness

Little Christopher tells his father this tale in the biographical drama movie The Pursuit of Happynessand it's a wonderful metaphor for recognizing synchronistic events that occur in the film. You get to see how his father, Chris Gardner, follows his gut and passion and grabs every opportunity that comes his way to overcome the challenges of poverty. I wrote a little about this movie in my last blog entry and wanted to inspire you more with a few of it's synchronicities that eventually led to Gardner's real life success.

Synchronicity #1:
Gardner happened to be walking by a red Ferrari parking. He asked the well dressed driver what he did for a living to get that beautiful car and he said he was a stock broker. That event helped Gardner visualize what he wanted in a profession and it became a passion that fueled his drive.

Synchronicity #2:
Gardner accepted the opportunity to share a cab with a potential employer and made an impression on him with a hidden talent. The potential employer was not interested in Gardner's resume but more in solving a rubik's cube he was playing with in the cab. Gardner happened to have a talent at solving this puzzle and did it quickly to both their amazement. I loved that scene because it can remind you that people are just people even if they happen to be in high powered job positions.

Synchronicity #3:
Gardner took a chance during his sales call training and called a major company's CEO. Within seconds he had an appointment with him. Soon after, Gardner and his son get invited by the CEO to join him and his own son to watch a ballgame in his private box. Gardner ended up not getting his business but met the CEO's friends in the private box, made a genuine connection, exchanged cards and eventually got them as clients.

These chance encounters and opportunities happen all the time in real life. The key is to stay open to the possibilities in whatever form they arrive. Be alert to the signs that come more than once to you. Just go with the flow for what synchronistic events offer and stay open to the people and the messages that come your way. They are like magic arrows pointing you towards all your goals.

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tip#22: Get Back In The Saddle ASAP! - The Pursuit of Happyness

I wish I could tell you about the unexpected bomb that dropped on me recently leaving me in utter shock. Two big projects I'd been working on for 9 months were suddenly snuffed out the day before the public unveiling. One day I will share the details of this experience but for now the important thing to share is how I got back in the saddle asap (as soon as possible).

I'm sure you know how it feels when unexpected situations knock you off your saddle. You feel shocked, confused, angry and even start to question your value and belief in yourself. I went through those waves of emotions and discovered I moved through them much faster because I've gone through similar situations. Life has a way of throwing things at you over and over again to see how you will react.

One of the first things I've learned to do is step back from a stressful situation and not do anything rash or I'd regret later. What I do to clear my head is treat myself to a new movie in the comfort of a big movie theatre.

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The film I saw was The Pursuit of Happynessand the timing was once again magical. It was based on a true story about Chris Gardnera homeless single dad and his young son who slept in shelters and on bathroom floors but rose to multimillion dollar success as a stockbroker. Gardner's story was full of messages that spoke deeply to me and I could feel my inner strengths remind me to be patient and that everything was going to be okay in my current situation.

I left the theatre being thankful for all the things I had in my life and knew tomorrow would be a better day. And it was. By treating myself to things I am passionate about I was able to get back in the saddle within a day. I was able to clearly assess the new directions and opportunities that actually accumulated during the course of the cancelled projects I'd been working on. Like Chris GardnerI chose to keep going towards my dream and let my passions jumpstart my positive energy and attitude.

So remember when you get stuck: Treat yourself. Yes, just treat yourself to something you love or love doing. Here are examples of what I did recently and what I suggest when you get the rug pulled from under you:

A) Treat yourself to laughter:
First step is to clear your mind. I watched auditions for the latest American Idol which made me laugh. Those hilarious auditions are excellent medicine for me. Find something that gets you laughing.

B) Treat yourself to a movie or a passion:
I went to see a new movie I knew would inspire me and later treated myself to 3 kinds of delicious, creamy chocolate. Heavenly! But remember always indulge in moderation!

C) Treat yourself to your imagination:
I just pictured my ideal future which movies or magazine photos can help me do. The movie I saw helped me visualize what I wanted for my career and life goals. Your imagination can be a powerful tool if you let yourself activate it.

All these steps are designed to help you refocus from your negative feelings to a positive attitude. Only then can you fully assess where you've been, where you are and where you want to go. There is great value in how you deal with the challenges you find yourself in. With practice you'll be moving much quicker through unexpected situations and building your self-esteem at the same time.

So remember to treat yourself instead of hitting yourself for your 'failures' or unpleasant situations that are thrown at you. Think about the little things that bring you joy and re-energize yourself with those treats. At the very least have a bite of your favourite chocolate!

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tip#21: Food For Thought - Stranger Than Fiction

Synchronicity once again surprised me right after I posted my last blog tip entry. Just hours afterwards I finally got to see a movie on my list called Stranger Than Fictionand loved it. I mean really loved it! I had no idea that it celebrated the same 'comfort food for the soul' theme I just wrote about. I knew right away I had to share what inspired me about this insightful and funny film.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

The comedy drama fantasy, Stranger Than Fiction, is about an IRS auditor (Will Ferrell) who begins hearing his life narrated like a book. This leads to him to making changes in his life, career and love life that are funny and moving at the same time.

Comfort food is one of the many themes in the movie and revolves around a baker who shares with Will Ferrell's character the deliciousness of her baked cookies. Much to his resistance for trying something new she convinces him to taste homemade cookies for the first time. The scene is wonderful because you can see the subtle transformation of Ferrell's character as he takes his first bite of that chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven. You see it in his face and body language of the change that occurs. It's a truly tantalizing scene.

The baker, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, later goes on to describe an inspiring story of how she was on a very different career path only to discover her true calling in life with her delicious baking. She was studying to be a lawyer because she wanted to make the world a better place. What ended up happening is she would bring her home baked goodies to her study sessions and everyone loved her cookies. She became more excited about finding new recipes and making people happy. So she dropped out of school.

She decided that if she was going to make the world a better place she'd rather do it with cookies. It's a great scene to help motivate someone who is not happy in their current job and is yearning to spend more time on a hobby or passion they think more about.

Gyllenhaal's character wanted to make a difference in the world and believed she was now doing it with her true passion. Let that be food for thought for you to follow your own passions. Not only could your personal interests be what you were born to do as a career but you could also be making the world a better place. Take a chance and take a bite out of the possibilities!

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tip#20: Comfort Food For Your Soul - Meet Joe Black

There is an old style greasy spoon near me called The Stem Open Kitchen, which to me, is a Toronto landmark I hope never leaves. It still has its original neon sign outside faded over time with some letters in the name burnt out. And thankfully the warm, timeless atmosphere and decor hasn't changed in the two decades I've known and loved the place.

Meet Joe Black (1998)

The fantasy romance drama, Meet Joe Black, is about a wealthy dying man (Anthony Hopkins) who makes a deal with Death/Joe Black (Brad Pitt) to prolong his life long enough to make sure his company and family are safe. There are powerful and moving performances by all as well as a strange yet beautiful love story.

A scene in the movie that captures that warm comfort food feeling is an opening sequence where Joe meets his love in an open kitchen diner. That scene was full of morning light and magic and you could almost smell the hot coffee in the air.

In a later scene, Joe tries peanut butter for the first time. You can see his childlike expressions of sublime delight indicate that he has discovered why many others consider peanut butter as a favourite comfort food.

Over the years at The Stem I've enjoyed having their tasty breakfasts especially when shared with a friend. And it helps that the taste of everything hasn't changed in decades. Recently I was there having my regular sausages and eggs breakfast. I casually dunked my buttered toast into my fresh coffee and tasted it. The taste triggered such happy memories and I was suddenly transported to my childhood.

Happy Childhood Memories

Dunking toast in coffee reminded me of when I was little and seeing my dad do the same during breakfast. I could feel the morning weekend sun warming the dining table; the aroma of coffee and sizzling bacon filling the air; the love of my parents and siblings. And of course I'll always remember my dad letting me have a taste his buttered toast dipped in coffee. This experience always takes me back to a warm and safe and happy period of my life.

These happy memories are like little packets of positive energy that can lift you up in seconds. They are keys to re-igniting a positive attitude when you need it most. On the flipside negative memories of the past can bring your energy and enthusiasm down. The key is learning to change your focus back to happy, re-energizing memories. You are filled with a personal catalog of happy moments within you that you can access like files on a computer. All you have to do is choose the positive ones.

So think about what your comfort food for your soul is. What childhood aromas do you remember loving? What tastes do you remember that you simply must have once in awhile in your adult life? What sights excite you instantly to make your mouth water? Whatever your answers are this is what passion feels like!

We store inside ourselves an abundance of juicy sensory experiences from our early formative years. Treat yourself once in awhile and allow this positive energy to send your senses and spirit soaring.

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tip#19: Unleash Your Inner '007' & Tenacity - Casino Royale

Tenacity: persistent determination

Pure animal aggression and assertiveness and can be powerful allies. In healthy doses these proactive qualities can help you achieve anything your heart desires.

I love the numbers of this New Year because I see '007' which reminds me of James Bond.It's a great metaphor because this is the year I plan to unleash my inner double 'O' seven status when it comes to dealing with issues and challenges. I am going to unleash my tenacious energy to achieve my goals.

Casino Royale (2006)

The action film, Casino Royale, is a reboot of the James Bond series starring Daniel Craig as a grittier version. The story is filled with high action scenes, beautiful locations and, of course, Bond girls.

In this latest film, Casino Royalegoes back to when James Bondfirst received his '007' status and presented his character at his grittiest and toughest. There's a relentless chase sequence at the start of the movie that was thrilling to watch. It's simply one person chasing the other over multiple obstacles of a construction site. The energy on the screen was raw, powerful and uncompromising in tenacity. Wouldn't it be great to have that kind of energy when dealing with ongoing problems in life?

One way of doing that is learning to remove your 'victim hat' when faced with unexpected adversity. This default behaviour for some can be difficult to change especially if it has become a comfortable pattern over many years. So you become programmed to continue being a victim because you're not aware of other options.

Being in victim mode is very debilitating, confusing and most of all you feel a big lack of self-confidence. To change you first have to be aware that you CAN change and reprogram yourself for a better response facing adversity.

The solution that I've discovered is:
A) Become more aware of when you slip on that 'victim hat'.
B) Keep working at believing you have the ability to deal with anything.
C) Remember movie heroes like James Bondcan help the mind visualize and motivate a positive attitude for yourself.

I know that life and career challenges can sometimes be unrelenting. But most of the time it is just your mind stopping you from seeing your own capacity for change. The change can only begin when you believe in your hidden strengths. Somewhere inside you is the same tough resilience that is embodied in all movie heroes like James Bond.

So unleash your inner '007'. Believe that there is a way out of the holes you fall into or the people standing in your way. Tenacity is defined as persistent determination. Unleash your own tenacity and grab hold of your goals.

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tip#18: When Life Looks A Little Too 'Rocky' - Rocky Balboa

For years people laughed at the idea of the Rockymovie series going on forever. I even laughed when I read that 'Rocky 6' was in production in early 2006. And when I saw the preview trailer for the movie everyone in the theatre thought it was a joke. But that laughter stopped and turned into genuine cheers when the film, Rocky Balboa was released in December. It garnered rave reviews and a big positive buzz from audiences. And now I'm one of those people who is cheering for one of my favourite films of 2006.

Rocky Balboa (2006)

The sports drama film, Rocky Balboa, is the final chapter in the Rocky series where we find how he is dealing with life in his late 50's. The story is filled with inspirational moments and dialogue about being resilient and persevering in the face of never ending adversities.

There are many emotional and motivational scenes in the movie that Sylvester Stallone again wrote and directed. The heartfelt themes spoke about life hitting you over and over again for years and how to find the strength to keep getting back up. One of the many inspiring quotes I remember was, "It doesn’t matter how something looks to other people. What matters is how it looks to you."

This spoke to me deeply as my own life lessons continue on how not to focus on what others think of me or the choices I've made in my life. Like most people I'd like to please everyone but that isn't always possible. And sometimes I think of not doing something important to me because I feel people will laugh at or that I'll look really stupid. It’s a situation many of us deal with.

Obviously Stallone wrote a very autobiographical movie as he clearly knew people would laugh at the idea of another Rockyfilm. Especially when the character goes back into the boxing ring in his late 50's. Stallone himself turned 60 in 2006. People laughed at him in the movie and they laughed at him in real life. But what mattered in the end about wanting to make this movie was "how it looked to him."

Rocky Balboais a powerful and motivating cinematic experience and it is filled with many life lessons. It will give you hope when life seems determined to pound down on you for days, weeks or even years. You have what it takes to get through anything. You just have to first choose to keep getting up again.

"You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"
Rocky Balboa

Emmanuel Lopez© Emmanuel Lopez 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tip#17: Jumpstart Your New Year’s Resolutions - Memento

It's fascinating that people can be very driven at the start of a new year to make positive changes in their lives. But then that enthusiasm dissipates. For awhile I wasn't very enthusiastic for this new year. In Toronto this past holiday we had no snow which made the season feel less festive to me. On top of that I had a stressful December that tested my faith in my new motivational speaker venture I had envisioned.

Thankfully I was able to utilize my own tried and true methods for getting myself unstuck and re-energize my positive attitude. So during the darkest parts of December I was able to stay motivated and jumpstart my excitement for a new year and a new me. Let me share some of the steps that got me through this difficult time.

1) Your dark and hopeless days would eventually give way to brighter days.
2) You are not alone. There is always someone out there to help if you only ask.
3) Re-energize yourself:
a. Get some rest
b. Be thankful and focus on what you have
c. Treat yourself to your passions e.g. favourite movies, foods, hobbies, etc.
4) Have a goal (see tip#15)

These steps sound simple and they are. The only challenging element is that when you are in a dark place it's hard to see these solutions without a little light. And you need to train yourself to remember what to do when your mind is confused with no sense of direction.

Memento (2000)

The mystery thriller film Mementois a great example of how someone reminds themselves of important information. The main character Leonard (Guy Pearce) suffers from an injury preventing him from retaining new memories. So every few minutes his mind resets to the memories up until the accident. On top of that he is trying to solve the murder of his wife.

To solve this incredible predicament he takes Polaroid pictures of people and writes info about them on the back. He has also tattooed his body with the basic information he needs to remind himself of what he has to do to solve his wife's murder. His methods help him get through his reoccurring mental confusions.

So train yourself to remember the steps it will take to jumpstart your enthusiasm and drive. Write notes to yourself about what to do when you get unmotivated. Pin them on your refrigerator of bathroom wall where you always go. It'll be like emergency lights switching on when there is a power outage in your building.

On the flip side too much information can also overload your already disconnected brain. Bite sized bits of information are always easiest to digest and that's what I enjoy sharing. So throughout this New Year I'll be providing more methods for self-development from my workshops for you to take steps towards your goals. These tools will help jumpstart your positive attitude and enthusiasm and show you there are many options to getting yourself moving when you feel stuck.

It's up to you to do the work and believe in yourself. Achieving your goals can happen as fast as you want it to happen.

Emmanuel Lopez
© Emmanuel Lopez 2007


Movies That Motivate: Groundhog Day
Self-Development Series
Hosted by Emmanuel Lopez

Thursday, January 18, 2007
6:30 - 9:30pm at the Royal Ontario Museum. Cost: $18/ROM Members $15
Includes: Motivational talk before and after screening
Themes discussed: Becoming a better person; Breaking destructive habits; Achieving your goals

RSVP Today
Pre-Registration and more info:
Or call: 416-586-5797