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Filtering by Tag: purpose

Stop Seeking A Balanced Life! Clarity #31

Alan Andersen

My family’s annual camping trip to Bucks Lake, CA was the 4th of July weekend. It was awesome! In addition to swimming, hiking, and lots of sleeping, I relaxed in the warm sunshine on my parents’ boat and read six books!

A highlight was a five-mile hike to a beautiful vista point overlooking our campsite and the smaller Thompson Lake. A friend of my mom, who had done the walk many times, told her about it and gave her directions. So off we went.


Near the top, my mom stopped to rest. I offered to scout the trail ahead. Of course, there was a fork in the road. So I ran down each way, and based on the direction and worn path, guessed we should go to the right. When Mom caught up I told her my plan and she interrupted me saying, “Oh look there’s a marker, Terry said at the top to just follow the rock markers.”

Well, that was the first I had heard of the markers, and yes I had a “high D” moment of exasperation. Without that knowledge I would have led us down the wrong path and who knows where we would have ended up. Luckily, stacked rocks indeed marked the remainder of the trail. We were on the right path.

I found it ironic that the markers for “the right path” were rocks perfectly balanced on top of each other. They just sat there serving their purpose. I couldn’t help to draw out the parallel, as I had come to the lake to be refreshed — to get back into “balance.”

The experience crystalized something I’d been thinking about for a while. I don’t believe that balance should be utopia, the Holy Grail, the chief end in life. Here I am a life coach and I don’t think people should be obsessed with balance.


That sounds heretical, doesn’t it? Everyone knows that we need to keep balance in our lives, or there’s heck to pay, right? Here’s what I mean. When people are seeking balance, I think they are searching for something more. I think they are looking for what those rocks had: purpose. Their balance enabled them to be markers.

Mom and I felt relief every time we saw those markers on the trail because they saved us hours of wandering. Many times we had to go searching to make sure we were not on the wrong path (and a few times we were). By showing the way, by fulfilling their purpose, they brought us joy and helped us accomplish what we came to do.

Yes, of course everyone needs a good mix of professional and personal efforts, of work and rest. We all know it’s a constant battle to protect the restful personal and family time as a priority. No one gets kudos and raises for being rested and energized in their personal life.

But think about those people you know who are living with purpose — those who look balanced but actually are so passionate about their values and purpose they are everything but “balanced.” They’re over the top in one area of their life. Why? Because they have fully integrated their values into their being and intentionally living those values out moment-by-moment, day-by-day. They are engaged. They are talking about their passion all the time and can lose themselves in their sense of being.


I’m like that. Everyday, I live with purpose, and my clients know it. They know I am as solid as a rock and able to guide them as they journey to their next level.

At the same time, I get out of sync because I let fear get to me and lose sight of who I am and what I am about. (That’s why I have my own coach!) I get out of balance. I need some markers to get me back on the right path.

Back on the hike above Bucks Lake, there was one point where we were very confused as to which way to go. We went back and forth wasting a lot of time and energy guessing. Then I saw a pile of stones, and at the same time glanced down the path 100 yards. I got it. Down there was a marker, and here was a pile of what used to be one. Now it was a heap of useless stones.

That’s how I can get sometimes. All it takes is for a mean person to kick me, or an unexpected windstorm to knock me over. I lose my bearings and collapse into a pile.

The good news is it’s simple to repair. Note I didn’t say easy. You just remember who you are, what your purpose is and get some help to get back on track. That’s what I did for that sorry little pile. I bent down and stacked the rocks and carefully balanced them on top of each other restoring their usefulness. Yes, they were balanced, but that wasn’t the goal. Instantly they were back in action fulfilling their purpose.

I invite you to evaluate if you’re on “the right track” and seeking balance in your life so that you can fulfill your purpose. Let me know what you think here.

Your coach for clarity,



This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Once You Find Your Purpose, Run Your Race Clarity #28

Alan Andersen

Do you know your purpose? Everyone wants to know the answer to this question. Don’t you? Leaders must seek the answer to have any lasting legacy.

My purpose is to help other people find their purpose.

To get a clear and true understanding of my purpose took a lot of time and revisions. Then, once I was finally able to articulate it, my purpose seemed so, well, plain.

I think that is why so many people miss their purpose. It’s right there before them. Yet they keep looking for something with a bigger headline. Cure Cancer! World Peace! No, your purpose statement should be simple, so clear that it might seem boring. However, living your purpose is anything but boring, it is the essence of life.

Purpose is always about helping others or being in service to another. It’s being of use for others as only you were designed to be. Like this Starbucks cup in my hand. It was created for a purpose. In this case, to hold a warm beverage.

All sorts of other wonderful things happen as a result of the cup fulfilling its purpose, though. My hands are warmed as I hold it; I am refreshed when I drink it; other people want one when they see it.

Discovering Your Life-Race

Once you discover your purpose, the next question is, how will you go about fulfilling it? Think of it as putting legs on your purpose.

I refer to it as your life-race. What race are you to run? This is so important that I write about it in my book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters, and I teach it in our Life 301 workshop.

Years ago, I used to wish I was a runner mainly because it is convenient and all my friends run marathons. Alas, poor ol' Shandel kept ending up with twisted ankles, shin-splints, and daily icing of hurt body parts.

That is until one day, a wise physical therapist told me I didn’t have a runner’s body, I had a swimmer’s body. Well, swimming isn’t convenient for a girl like me. From the hair issue to the travel dilemma, it is a pain! Still, if I am going to train to do something, I might want to consider focusing on swimming, don’t ‘cha think?

A huge lesson was learned that day. I was doing the popular, convenient, cheap thing — and it was not my thing. My race to win was a swim meet, not a marathon. The same is true with our lives. We were made to do and be something specific and spectacular. An individualized life race that is ours and that we were made to figure out, train hard, compete diligently, and win in the end. Think about your gifts, talents, strengths, and opportunities.

Are you doing life like everyone else around you, with no sense of the WHY? Are you working 80 hours a week, with no satisfaction? Or is there a deep driving purpose behind all of it that is truly and uniquely you?

What life-race are you to run? Let’s put it all together.

How Deep the Impact?

My race is to coach leaders. Here is how it works out in my world. If my purpose is to help others find their purpose, then the most impactful route I can take is to coach leaders who will pass the wisdom, skills, and tools down to their sphere of influence.  If I help five leaders find their purpose and run their life-race, and they each influence and lead five others to do the same — that is a good ROI on my time, talent and treasure. Thus, I am running my race by coaching leaders to find their purpose. What about you?

The race analogy can morph with time, while your purpose never does. My Starbucks cup originally designed to hold coffee, can hold green tea, chai tea, or hot chocolate. My body that won swim meets as a kid now swims laps (well, should be at least!) to keep me healthy and strong. In my 20s, I helped teenagers find their purpose; in my 30s I helped entrepreneurs; and in my 40s I am helping leaders of leaders. 

I influence thousands of leaders where my mom concentrated on one: me. So who has the more purposeful life? If I got married and had a child tomorrow, I would be helping future generations by being a stay-at-home mom and raising my kids to live with purpose, as my mom did.  It’s not about how big the reach; it’s about how deep the impact.

Think about what matters for a minute. What if you are missing the one person you were put on earth to help? You must get in touch with your values, what motivates you to action and then stand up and stand strong for what you believe in!

Purpose is finding out the reason you are here on earth. The answer will be to be of service to another. The solution will be to figure out your specific niche of a life-race and to run it … and win!

If not now, when?

This article originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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Alan Andersen

Finally, after four years, my fruit trees have produced results! It’s as if the recession that hit the economy had also walloped my orchard. Now, with a wonderfully abundant crop of fruit, I have been able to restock my freezer, share with my neighbors, and eat to my heart’s content. Way better than the four apples and eight peaches I harvested the year before!

Now I must prune.

Here is the conundrum in business and in life. After a time of fruitfulness, results, and profitability, you must prune. And it hurts.

Prior to this year, I never bothered to prune my fruit trees. I just cut down the “suckers” and cut off the “runners” and walked away. Now that I have seen what they can do, I want more. What will it take to have more fruit next year?

The same question can apply to your business. If you want better results in 2013, you need to re-evaluate operations now. The question is, how?

The Down Side of Bush Whacking

Yes, pruning can be painful. But it’s essential to future growth. Here’s what I’ve discovered. To get the results I want, I have to invest. My time, money, and energy.

The worst thing you can do is to just cut to cut because that’s what your peers are doing. To hack away at the PNL because you have to produce profit now! You’ll end up doing what I did on Saturday. Not good.

There was an overgrown bush in my flower garden. I got in there just to thin it out a bit. Well, I had no vision, and I certainly didn’t seek counsel, except in a veiled self-reassuring question to my mom, “Don’t you think I should trim that overgrown bush down a bit?” So with my long green pruner in hand, I started “trimming” and I whacked off one wrong branch too quickly. Long story short, I had to cut the entire bush down to the base. I just hope I didn’t kill it and it will come back in the spring.

That’s what happens without vision and expertise.

If you’re dealing with something that’s valuable, you can’t be an amateur about it. My fruit producers are precious to me. So I need to hire someone who knows and loves trees so much that they have vision for their future. Someone who with knowledge, wisdom and experience can make each cut confidently and carefully in the spirit of long-term growth, sustainability, and, yes, fruitful results.

Now, I am not saying every budget line should NOT be evaluated. In fact as we roll into Q4 I would recommend it! What I am saying is you need vision first.

Yet as leaders we Google how to “prune” and off we go. And of course, we are either too cheap to get help (that’s me), or we are to prideful and think we can figure it out (that’s me too).

What’s the price of this strategy? Unlike my bush whacking, the cuts you make affect people — a lot of them. And nine months from now, you get only half the fruit you could have gotten had you invested.

The Core of the Issue

No doubt about it. The season of pruning, whether in our personal and business worlds, is awkward, isn’t it? Most of us avoid it. But if you don’t intentionally prune, then life and circumstances will force you to do it. Then when we do end up doing it, we make a mess of things when we try to do it alone.

Where to start? It’s been my experience that you need to start in an area most leaders are weak at. You have to celebrate (and taste if you will) the fruit of your labors. Then you will have more courage to contemplate the VISION for the upcoming year.

To give you a sample of where to start pruning, begin to ask yourself a series of questions. (If you’re reading this for your personal life, just change the wording!)

  • What is the core purpose and value of this business?
  • What unique value does it add to the customer?
  • In your company, what/who produces the best results and why ?
  • Where are you not getting maximum ROI?
  • What areas are you settling for good vs. going for great?
  • What are three things that worked for you in the past that need to be re-examined for the future?

How do you prune? Get back to the core of who you are and why you are here. Revisit your values and strategic life plan. Mostly, you need to ask for help from your team, your family and your coach. What are your blinds pots? Where are you settling for a few dozen peaches when there are hundreds available to you.

This is the time to invest in your leadership, your team and your business. It’s time to evaluate, prune, and plan. Most of you know that pruning is stage 5 in our coaching process. Putting The Process into book form has been on my to-do list forever — as I continue to prune my own life, I will get the dang book written one day.

In the meanwhile, I would love to help you in any way I can. Let me know how I can serve you and your team as you prepare for the fruitfulness of 2013.

Your Coach,

This article Fruitful Thoughts on Pruning originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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What’s Your Personal Foundation?

Alan Andersen

Who doesn’t want to accomplish more in life? Don’t most of us want more time? More money? More love? More satisfaction? Yet, isn’t our tendency to go for it rather than simply having it all come to us?

A strong personal foundation includes 10 distinct stepping stones which, when linked together, provide a solid yet personalized base on which to build one’s life. And, in a world which sometimes appears to be built on quicksand, we all need a personal foundation on which to depend.

These 10 stepping stones of a Personal Foundation are:

  1. A past which you have fully completed.
  2. A life which is based fully on integrity.
  3. Needs which have been identified and fully met.
  4. Boundaries which are ample and automatic.
  5. Standards which bring out your best.
  6. An absence of tolerations.
  7. Choosing to come from a positive place.
  8. A family which nurtures you.
  9. A community which develops you.
  10. A life fully oriented around your true values.

Anyone who is living a meaningful life must have a strong personal foundation so they can afford to look up at the stars instead of down at their feet. Having a strong personal foundation allows a person to fully use their skills and resources, because instead of constantly worrying about the fundamentals of their life, they are free to focus on the task at hand. The process of building a personal foundation also teaches a person how to eliminate and prevent many common problems that are usually thought of as an expected part of life.

A skyscraper doesn’t start at street level. In fact, the taller the building, the deeper the foundation. This holds true for people, too.

What is YOUR personal foundation? If you need help defining your values and purpose, we are here to help! Visit us at

Your Coach,

The article What's Your Personal Foundation? previously appeared at True Life Coaching, a subsidiary of Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel's book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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Never Waste A Moment

Alan Andersen

I have had the joy of being in my Reno home for 30 days straight!  Longest stretch of sleeping in my own bed in five years. As most of you know, I split my time between Seattle and Reno, add to that the travel to speak and facilitate retreats, I'm not “home” much. Some people call me crazy but I call it intentional.

You see, I grew up in Quincy, CA and Reno, NV is the closest city to my hometown.  My entire family (maternal) lives within this 72 miles radius…seriously from my 2 year old niece to my 106 year old grandfather. Until 5 years ago, I had a full life and thriving business in Seattle, thus the only renegade who lived outside the circle.

That Was Until….

When my niece Kylie was born I knew I had to be a part of her life. Since then I have five nieces and nephews to love on.

What looks crazy to most has been nothing but sheer delight to my soul. It has taught me great lessons about the time, sacrifice, and cost to live an intentional life.  I have learned to never, ever, waste a moment – they are all precious!

Never Waste A Moment

The gift I have is perspective.  When I am home and with the girls (Kylie's sister Taylor is now two) every moment is sacred to me, because I am leaving again soon.  They change so quickly and time goes so fast that if I don't soak up and treasure all the moments they will be gone forever. 

Last Sunday, I started a fun tradition taking Kylie to the Nutcracker complete with a chocolate milk shake and a trip to the dollar store. My purpose is to build a strong relationship with her full of love, memories, and trust so that when she is older I can speak truth and wisdom into her life. If I want to be heard when she is 13, I need to listen and invest when she is five. The same goes for my employees and teammates.  If I want them to listen to me and produce results, I need to hear what they are saying, invest in their development and care about their personal life.

What About You?

Who needs you to invest in them?  Who needs you to stop multi-tasking and hear what they are not saying?  What sacrifice can you make today that will pay dividends ten years down the road? 

Being intentional about others and living with perspective will bring you more joy than you could ever imagine.  It is truly higher living.  Listening and paying attention is how we earn the right to be heard. 

Never let a moment go by without it being meaningful and purposeful – especially during this season.

The Nutcracker meant way more to me than it did to her but isn't that the way giving goes?

What are you most excited to give away this season?

Your Coach For Clarity,

This article Never Waste a Moment originally appeared at True Life Coaching

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11 Years of Truth-telling, Life-giving Coaching: Reflections on our Anniversary

Alan Andersen

On this exact day in 2000, I started True Life Coaching in the heart of Time Square in NYC.

Today, I am in the heart of San Francisco reflecting on 11 years and investigating our biggest opportunity to date.

Here is what I am celebrating today:

Transformed Lives

Starting with mine. It has been such an honor to serve amazing clients and see lives changed on a consistent basis.  This day is about being so thankful for a purpose filled life and all those who make it possible.  Oh how my cup overflows with…


Publicly, I'd like to draw attention to my faithful executive assistant, friend and cousin – Jennifer Bookamer.  Jenny has been with me for a majority of that time and without her partnership and patience I would have gotten a real “job” years ago.  Thank you Jenny!

Over 11 years, what has changed?

Everything and nothing. We have revamped and challenged how we go about doing business each year.  We add and delete product and services every 18 months.  We never stop learning and always keep growing.  Our ideal client grows and evolves with us. I'm not afraid to grow, but who we are will not change.

The coolest part of True Life Coaching is that our vision, purpose, and values have remained focused, consistent, and intact since day one.  Here is who we are:

We desire that every leader wisely and profoundly impact their sphere of influence.

We exist to inspire leadership and life at the next level. Whatever that might mean for the individual, team or organization in front of us.

We do very serious result oriented work in a very WITTY manner –  Wisdom, Integrity, Truth-telling, Totally FUN (key!), You-centered.

Celebrate True Life with me by living your true life!

What great memory do you have of when you knew you were living your true life?

Thank you for your support!

This article previously appeared at True Life Coaching

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The Summer of Clarity – Accountability, Leadership, and YOU!

Alan Andersen

Accountability is a hot topic right now amongst my colleagues and clients.  Leaders are sometimes the worst at being accountable to their personal and professional growth.  Think about it.  When was the last time you were so honest with yourself that you had that urgent feeling to make a real change?

How long did it last?

I am in a season of personal insight, discipline, and growth.  Part of that is my professional development around my social media disciplines and the other part is taking care of “Shandel” the person for 30 concentrated days.  At the end of that 30 days, we launch THE SUMMER OF CLARITY. Commit for 90 days and experience the power of personal accountability.

Beginning the first week of July, we will initiate a weekly challenge and you are invited to join us each week as we focus on your personal and professional growth. THE SUMMER OF CLARITY kickstarts our 52-week Clarity Campaign and you are invited.


All you need is to purchase the book Clarity: Focusing On What Matters and join in on the weekly challenge.

Clarity has 52 weekly readings so you are invited to read the excerpt (400 words or less) and then enter the conversation for:

 Accountability for your growth

 Additional tips and insights

 Encouragement toward staying focused

 Ideas for your weekly reviews

 Brainstorming and sharing from other True Life Leaders

 And much MORE as we venture together

Each week, True Life Coaching will develop content around the weekly theme showing up in the form of blog posts, podcasts, facebook chatter, and twitter posts #claritytlc all in the name of taking your life and leadership to the Next Level!

You will learn how to be a better leader and impact all of your key relationships – from the bedroom to the boardroom!

1. Buy the book on Amazon or download it to your Kindle or Ipad

2. Follow up on twitter @shandel or @truelifeinc

3. Like us on facebook / truelifeinc

4. Subscribe to our newsletter and blog at

Let me know below you are going to join in.

What is the hardest part of commitment for you?

Your Coach,

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