Mom, I Want to be a NASA Astronaut

By Susan Ford Collins

I was speaking about the power of children's dreams, and the even more awesome power adults have to make or break them, when a woman in the audience raised her hand. "Susan, I've got the perfect story for you to share."

"When our daughter turned five, she told us that she was going to be a NASA astronaut when she grew up. She would sit mesmerized in front of our TV during every space shot. And while her father and I were sipping our soup at dinner one night, we realized simultaneously that she actually saw herself as a member of the crew.

Suddenly we moved beyond the glaze of day-to-day living long enough to realize that we were at a crucial decision-point: Was this a passing fancy or her mission? We could continue silently pooh-poohing her dream as something a boy could do but not a girl—a feeling we both knew was definitely there inside us. Or, we could line up with her.

We decided to line up with her. So when she asked us what she needed to do to become an astronaut, we took her seriously and found out. When she needed help completing elaborate science projects, we made time to support her. When she wanted to go to science camps instead the camps her girl friends attended, we remembered her dream and continued to nurture it."

"And you'll be happy to know that our daughter is a NASA astronaut. She was aboard the last shot. And as the roar of the rockets blurred our words that morning at Cape Kennedy, my husband and I shouted agreement that we had made the right choice."

Our children's dreams are the seeds of the future, precious future solutions to the problems we face today and tomorrow. As we build our children's self-confidence, the second most important thing we can do is to nurture their dreams—agreeing with their possibilities, arguing for their success... not their failure, and appreciating their greatness in advance.

(c) Susan Ford Collins, 2016. All rights reserved.

* For more on Success Skills 3 and 4, Dreaming and Co-dreaming, read The Joy of Success or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

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Dreams Are Destinations in Your Internal GPS!

By Susan Ford Collins

Here’s something you need to know about your brain and the brains of the people you live with and work with..

Like the GPS in your car, your brain contains a Search and Find function. Before you head somewhere in your car, first you must enter the details of the location you wish to reach… in your mind and in your GPS… the city, house number, street and the zip.

When you head for a destination in life, you must do the same thing. Before you begin taking action, you must the first enter the precise sensory details of the experience you want to have. Then when the details coming in through your senses match, you’ll know “You’ve arrived.” You’ve successfully created the experience you wanted.

A word of caution… not all of the destinations we enter in our internal GPS are really where we want to go. All too often, we unconsciously program destinations we don’t want to reach… fears, failures, arguments, upsets… mistakenly thinking that our brain will somehow magically translate that “don’t want” into what we “do want” instead. But our brain can’t and won’t and so we keep “arriving at the same unwanted destinations” again and again… job situations we dislike, relationship issues we don’t want. And, instead of taking responsibility for our role in getting there, we blame fate, bad luck or other people.

And we mistakenly program what we don’t want in other people’s brains too… our spouses’ and friends’, our employees’ and kids’ … don’t be late, don’t play with matches, don’t drink and drive, like don’t forgot to call… believing our strongly stated “negative instruction” will head them in a positive direction. But it won’t. And here’s why…

Like it or not. we have a Positive Command Brain

To the human brain, all statements are positive. All statements are based on sensory input. Don’t think about a hot fudge sundae immediately requires you to think about a hot fudge sundae, that scoop of luscious ice cream, the warm chocolate dripping down the sides. “Not” is ignored so the sensory words can be processed and understood. But hopefully you remember the “not” quickly enough to think about what else you could eat… a crunchy apple or your favorite healthy bar.

So if you hear yourself saying “I don’t want”, you need to quickly catch your mistake and turn your instruction around…” I want”… then, with s positive destination in mind, your inner computer will begin programming steps to get there. Instead of “don’t play” with matches, we need to say “do play” with your new video game. Don’t drink and drive needs to become… if you choose to drink, select a designated driver to take you home safely.

What positive destinations do you have in your life? What negative destinations do you need to rethink, pre-experience and take appropriate action to enjoy.

Are you as clear about the details of your dreams as you are about the destinations you enter in you GPS? From now on remember this…

What you think is what you get, like it or not.

So make sure you think about what you do want… instead of what you don’t want.

And make sure you communicate what you want in detail too.

Then your brain will direct you, and others, there and, like your car’s GPS, it will suggest alternate routes when obstacles occur. Recalculating… recalculating…

Something else life-changing for 2019

Take some time to consider this life-changing question: Are the destinations you have in mind really your destinations? Or, are they destinations other people have in mind for you… your parents’, your teacher’s, your bosses’, your spouse’s. Are they destinations you never wanted before, and don’t want now either?

It’s time to grab the steering wheel of your life, reset your Internal GPS, and drive and arrive where you really want to be! Where you will find the joy of success!

c) Susan Ford Collins susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Self-Confidence, read Skill 1 in The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Listen to Caroline Dowd-Higgins interview Susan Ford Collins on Your Working Life.

When Your Success File is Full, You Feel Success-Full

By Susan Ford Collins

While I was shadowing highly successful people (HSPs) for more than 20 years, I discovered they were using 10 Success Skills consistently. The first and most important is Success Filing.

HSPs made time each day to acknowledge themselves for what they were accomplishing, time to build their Self-Confidence (their faith in themselves, in their ability to change their lives and world) so they didn’t have to rely on others to praise or agree with them… so they didn't need Other-Confidence.

Most HSPs Success Filed once a day. Others filed more often. Some wrote their successes on paper. Others  created a Success File on their computer or cell phone. Some simply wrote them in memory. HSPs told me they had been Success Filing for years and they were surprised to realize other people didn't do it!

Success Filing is the key to building Self-Confidence, the confidence you need to lead yourself and others through the periods of doubt, confusion and disagreement that are a inevitable part of creating anything new, anything disagreed with, anything impossible. (Keep in mind, impossible probably just means it hasn't been done before, by you or anyone else… like electricity, cell phones or amazon.com! Jeff Bezos left his job, sold everything he owned and moved his family across the country to start amazon.com. Some people thought he was crazy. Yeah, crazy like a foxy creator!)

Success Filing will give you the Self-Confidence you need to start dreaming again, not stingy, little, "been there and done that" dreams, but big, juicy, exciting dreams like those you had as a child, dreams that wake you up in the night excited, and propel you out of bed eager for your day.

How, and when, to Success File

Pick a time of day that works for you—in a car or train, at dinnertime or bedtime. When and where you Success File is up to you. Who you Success File with is up to you too. (Make sure that person is a Codreamer!) What’s important is regularity. Build the habit. Do it every day!

Rewind your "inner recording" to when you woke up, when you started thinking and doing, and ask yourself this question: What successes did I have today?

But wait! To Success File skillfully… to get the greatest benefit… you need to be clear about what success is, and it isn’t. And never will. (* When I coach people one to one, I start each session by Success Filing to accelerate the growth of this essential habit. And to clarify how to apply it in their lives, and their children's lives.)

Some people mistakenly Failure File at the end of the day, thinking about what they didn't do, couldn't do, what they don't want to happen. Affirming that things never turn out for them. But they can.

What is success… really? How are you defining it?

One of my most cherished memories is of Marjorie, an elegant, slightly built, sixty-something woman who attended one of my early seminars. She had been sitting quietly listening to a hundred or so people sharing their successes when she abruptly raised her hand and stood up. With tears streaming down her face, she blurted out, "You've all had lots of successes, but I've never had any. I was never an A student, I’ve never had a job, I’ve never made money or won prizes or earned bonuses or plaques." Then she sobbed openly.

As I asked questions to discover more about Marjorie's life, she told us she had raised six highly successful children... teachers, lawyers, writers, even an inventor. And her children were raising successful families as well. Marjorie happily listed her children and grandchildren’s prizes and achievements, but she didn't see how their accomplishments had any relevance to her. All her life she had felt like a failure. In fact, that was the reason she was attending my seminar: Her HSP kids had sent her!

During breaks I watched to see how Marjorie was doing and saw her in the hall with people all around her talking and sharing. They were relating to Marjorie’s story, to her lifelong struggle to feel confident and successful. The next day was the same and the next. Finally on the last day of the seminar Marjorie raised her hand again. This time she stood up proudly and spoke, "I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. I came here a failure. But I leave here a success. My new thinking about success has changed my life forever!"

Here’s what Marjorie learned in my seminar.

Success has three essential parts…
1- Success is Completion

Success is being able to complete what you have in mind. Getting up early. Lacing your sneakers and running your route. Emptying the trash. Eating a healthy breakfast. Calling your child's spelling words. Getting gas in your car. Returning phone calls. Completing items on your to do list. Following through with salad for lunch instead of your usual pasta. Speaking out about a concern you have with a project or timeframe. Stopping to pick up groceries and dry cleaning on the way home. Reading your child the story you promised. Sharing your day with your mate.

Without daily successes, your life falls apart. Your body gets out of shape. You run out of gas and arrive late for your meeting. Your clients abandon you and find others who can serve them more skillfully. Your boss constantly points out your lack of follow through. There's no food in the refrigerator. Your trash is piling up. There's no clean underwear in the drawer. Your electricity is turned off. Your car isn't running right. Your child is upset and insecure, hostile and acting out.

Without daily successes your Self-Confidence falls apart too, because completions like these are what the life experience is all about. Long term goals are realized in tiny daily steps. Long term relationships are enjoyed in daily conversations. Long term careers are the result of day to day completions. Long term dreams come true because you take steps each day with those dreams clearly in mind.

Marjorie, you are indeed successful... Highly Successful in fact! Lifelong parenting, like yours, requires years and years of daily completions… whether you feel like doing them or not! Remember all those sleepless nights you spent taking care of sick kids, and all those times you had to help your teens do projects and assignments they'd left till the last minute?

2- Success is also Deletion

But defining success as only completion sets us up to be "productive robots" always needing to do more and have more. Higher scores, higher profits, more exciting sex and adventures. Faster cars, planes, bodies, lives. Bigger TVs or far smaller ones. Higher mountains to climb, deeper space to explore. Always desiring and aiming at but never there. Never satisfied. Never feeling Success-Full and whole.

Any skillful gardener will tell you that a healthy tree needs regular pruning. That's true of success too. Success is also cutting out, down or back. Like completions, deletions release energy—energy you’ve had tied up and unavailable for years—so you can begin using it to create the experiences you want. So you can enjoy a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.

Deletion Successes include: Being able to eliminate old habits, outgrown ways of thinking and reacting that no longer work for you. Letting go of an outgrown relationship you’ve tried everything to improve. Or a well-paying job you’ve done too many times to enjoy. Success is quitting smoking, drugs, sugar, wheat, caffeine or whatever else you choose. Or it's rethinking your society-rewarded addiction to long hours, money and power.

Remember this: Each time you acknowledge that you complete or delete a creation cycle ( I want to... I do... I experience) a new quantum of energy is released for your use now.  

3- Success is Creation… and ultimately creating your own life

The most joyous part of success is also the most challenging. To stop looking back, to what others did and didn’t do and start looking ahead to creating what you want moment-to-moment. What do I want to eat today for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? What kind of exercise would work best for my body? Do I want to go to that noon meeting or have lunch with my friend? Do I want to stop to handle this phone call now or respond to a message later? Do I have the time and energy to take on a new project, or do I want to tell its creator, No I can't do it now? Do I want to go out to dinner with friends or stay home to rebalance? To plan and dream my life?

The new parent, new manager dilemma

New mothers (and fathers) face a success crisis at the birth of their child. Suddenly, instead of enjoying the successes they’re used to... getting up and exercising, taking a shower, heading to work, staying late if they need to, going out in the evening—they are at a loss for success as they’ve known it. Sleep deprived, shower deprived, independence deprived, or home on maternity leave, they are hard pressed to Success File. After a few weeks, they feel down not just because of hormonal changes but because of success changes as well.

As parents we need to realize that what we can include in our Success Files has multiplied. Not only can we file all the new successes we are having as parents—preparing food, changing diapers, giving baths, smiling and cooing back, making our baby feel safe and acknowledged, making our child’s needs a higher priority than our own. But we can also file all the successes our child is having—the first time she grips our hand with those tiny, perfectly formed fingers; the first time he looks us straight in the eye and smiles knowingly; the first time she sits up or crawls or walks or rides a bike or sings or reads, or does any of these activities a little better; the first time he sleeps without a pacifier, rides without training wheels, or crosses a street without holding your hand.

Yes, as parents, our children’s successes are our successes too. But ultimately, our greatest successes will be supporting our children as they differentiate between our ideas about success, their society’s ideas, and their own. Our greatest successes will be living and modeling the skills they will need to lead their own lives.

Top producers experience a similar success crisis when they step up into management. Suddenly the criterion for their success changes from what they are able to do all by themselves… to what everyone they are managing is able to do. Suddenly there is the opportunity to jump from satisfaction, which comes as a result of our own efforts, to fulfillment, “to realize all one's potentialities as a person” (New Webster’s Dictionary) which comes as the result of our leadership.

We humans are like seeds that produce plants that produce seeds that produce hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of plants and seeds more. Make sure you file not just your successes but the successes of all those you lead at home, at school, at work, in your community and world. ... including those that may appear to threaten your current view of the world. The very ideas that could transform your life, our children's lives and their children's lives...!

How successful do you feel? That depends on two essential things: How you define success and how willing you are to make time to Success File. Success is not just aimed at or desired. Success is feeling satisfied and fulfilled by what you choose to do, and be, on a daily basis.

Marjorie, my dear, creating a successful family requires millions and even billions of daily completions, deletions and creations. So now that you know, you can feel as Highly Success-Full as your kids do!


When your Success File is low, you feel dependent and needy.
When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full and confident...
ready and able to lead your life, your way.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 1st Success Skill, read The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

The Inevitable Question... Where's Dad?

By Susan Ford Collins

I learned something life-changing as my mother lay dying in the hospital.

Her doctors told my two sisters and me that she was brain dead. There was nothing more they could do. There was no hope for recovery. All the specialists agreed. All the X-rays concurred. All their explanations aligned. We all cried and grieved.

A week later they told us they were going to move Mom to a minimal-care ward where they expected her to die in a few days. But as they were wheeling her down to that floor, they bumped her gurney hard against the elevator door and my mother sat up and asked, “What time is it?”

We were all amazed. Mom was back, a bit disoriented and asking catch-up questions like, Where am I? What happened? Will I be OK? Nonetheless she was back, and she was Mom.

All the doctors were red-faced. They couldn’t explain what had happened, or why. They kept relooking at their X-rays and rereading their reports but, given the reality sitting right there in front of us, their lack of explanation didn’t really matter.

Now her miraculous recovery presented another potentially life-threatening problem. When would Mom ask us the inevitable question, “Where’s Dad?”

Throughout the hospital we were referred to as “the poor girls who had both parents in comas.” Everyone knew what our mother didn’t yet remember… that our father had a stroke precisely twenty-four hours before she did. He had been sitting in the same chair. He had been taken to the same hospital, in the same ambulance. And now, two floors above her, he lay in a deep coma not expected to live either.

Dad was on life support. A noisy machine was breathing for him and plastic tubes were entering and exiting his body in all directions. His doctors told us he wouldn’t be able to breathe on his own, and this time they were right. Weeks later when he was finally unplugged from all this apparatus, as the three of us stood by praying for another miracle, his breathing slowed to a stop and he died peacefully. And once again we grieved.

Fortunately by then Mom was doing well. We were relieved that “the inevitable question” hadn’t come right away. Yes, she had asked us little questions like, Where’s Dad today? Or, What is keeping him so busy? But she never managed a full-blown assault... There’s something you three girls are not telling me! And I want to know now!

Some part of Mom must have known not to push so hard, some part that wasn’t ready for the full impact of our answers or the strength of the emotions and physical reactions they would produce. Over time she recovered fully and gradually adjusted to Dad’s death and all the implications it had in her life. And ours.

Once Mom was home again, tending her beloved dogwoods, daffodils and lilacs, her life began to bloom as well. She had always imagined herself as an artist, but she was “too busy raising us and taking care of Dad” to ever lift a paint brush or sharpen a sketch pencil. But during those “twelve divinely gifted years” she started studying art seriously. She bought supplies and practiced every day. The smells of oil paint and turpentine, as well as tiny piles of colorful pastel dust, were always somewhere in the house or yard.

And, just as she had always imagined, she was really good at art, so good in fact that she began having shows and exhibitions of her still life pastels and oil portraits, even earning a brief write up in the newspaper that declared her “an outstanding local artist”… a clipping she would always keep and treasure. She was colorful and passionate. She was loving and profoundly sensitive. Her portraits captured the personality of the person posing for her in a few brush strokes. Her drawings simplified and abstracted the essence of flowers and shapes, the patterns of light and shadow. Through these final works of art, I found my mother. And I loved her deeply.

Here’s what I learned from my Mom. No matter how bad the circumstances look. No matter how hopeless the situation seems. Even if all the experts agree that nothing can be done, that death is imminent and certain. As long as you’re breathing, HOLD ONTO YOUR DREAMS and KEEP LIVING THEM.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 7th Success Skill, read The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Why Couples Argue… Relationship Gears are Clashing!

By Susan Ford Collins

Happiness and satisfaction, as well as upset and disappointment, are sourced in something very few people understand… the Three Gears of Relationship!

Like cars, romances start in 1st Gear. Connecting with someone new is scary. You don’t know that person’s rules yet… his or her rights and wrongs, goods and bads, have tos and musts, preferences and dreams. You slowly get to know each other, spending hours together learning what each of you likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want so hopefully you will be liked or even loved. And your relationship will last.

Years later happy couples look back to 1st Gear nostalgically…“Honey, do you remember when we first met, when we talked half the night and spent all our free time together.” They keep pictures of their precious 1st Gear startup memories in scrapbooks or on their computer screens.

When the relationship shifts into 2nd Gear, things speed up. You’ve been obsessed with each other for months. Your friends have been asking whether you’ve fallen off the earth or moved out of town. But all that initial time and conversation was well worth it! You are happy together, compatible and in sync. Now it’s time to de-focus on each other and re-focus on the rest of your lives. Time to straighten up your homes, reconnect with friends, catch up on your workload, finish your now-dusty sales proposal or mid-year review. (Thank heavens relationships don’t stay in 1st Gear forever. We’d never get anything else done!) In 2nd Gear it's more-better-faster and more-better-faster still. Productive, efficient, competitive, you work longer and harder to afford your upcoming wedding or trip, to establish your home, to afford children, fund IRAs or 401Ks, buy stocks and put aside money for college or retirement. Wow, you’re accomplishing so much together!

Well, not really together. Now you're spending more and more time apart… living in different worlds, roommates passing in the night, picking up kids from school, babysitting so one or the other can attend a meeting or take a client to dinner. You continue moving farther and farther apart, spending less and less time in the same place at the same time.

Until Boom! You hit a shifting point. That 1st Gear feeling is gone! Do you love each other anymore? Do you even like each other? (Ironic, isn’t it, since all relationships shift up and down through these three gears? So, even if you start over with someone new, sooner and later you’ll be accelerating ahead in 2nd Gear in that relationship, too.)

What do you do now? Do you stay in the relationship the way it is and sink into anger or depression? Do you separate and start again with someone else? Or do you shift into 3rd Gear and get creative together? Honey, I do love you. What can we do to re-new our relationship? To make time to talk again, to get to know each other again, to plan and dream again? Maybe we need counseling?

Oversimplified but nevertheless true. Let’s look at an overview:

1st Gear is for starting anything new.

2nd Gear is for doing more-better-faster, for accelerating into efficiency and productivity.

3rd Gear is for dreaming, innovating and renewing, for becoming creative.

In every relationship, understanding the gears matters! Sometimes you’ll be in the same gear at the same time… learning together, producing together. or creating together. But sometimes you won't, and there'll be Mis-Gear-Matches... or upsets. Like when you’ve slowed your energy down to a quiet purr and finally gotten your baby off to sleep and your husband or wife rushes in (still in high 2nd Gear from his or her work or workout) and wakes up your sleeping child. Arggg!

Special note... upsets between you and your spouse frequently occur when you’re in 2nd Gear and your kids are in 1st Gear. When six-year-old Sally needs you to slow down and listen to the upset she had with a friend who didn't speak to her on the playground. Or three-year-old Tom’s frustration over not being able to fit his puzzle together. Or thirteen-year-old Harry who has just come up with a new way to run your business. Keep in mind, his creativity might even work!

Here's an important heads up... don’t expect your kids to shift gears. The responsibility for gearing up, or down, is always on you! That's what makes parenting even more gear-challenging than romance and work.

Slowing down and gearing down is challenging in today's more-better-faster 2nd Gear world. It takes high intention and tremendous caring to manage the 2nd Gear pressures Corporate America exerts on us, to constantly push longer and harder, to produce more quantity and quality and profits, to stay revved up day after day, quarter after quarter... not just 9 to 5 but 24/7!

Remember, to avoid arguments and disappointments, it’s important to truthfully and sensitively acknowledge what you can’t do, or haven't done, and arrange a time when you can do it. “Honey, I know you want me to slow down and talk right now. I know you asked me yesterday and I was busy then too. But I promise I’ll make time this weekend." Yes, that's a great start! But be sure you keep your word… or the upset will get worse. Much worse! And you won't be believed next time you promise anything else!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Success Skill 2, Shifting Gears, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins