FROM UNOPENED GIFTS TO UNSTOPPABLE BREAKTHROUGH
By James McPartland
It’s remarkable how the narratives we tell ourselves about what happened to us, who we are, and what we’re capable of will carve out a path for our lives. I was told at a very young age I had nothing to say, and for the early part of my life I believed that story. I allowed what happened to me to define who I was and what I was capable of. I spent years facing the challenges of life with a wealth of unlocked potential inside of me.
As time unfolded, I came to understand that the setbacks I’ve experienced along the way in life and business were gifts. These gifts were bestowed to teach me that the opposite of the story I’d believed for so long was the truth: I had a whole lot more than just something to say and an obligation to inspire others to an awareness that they had something to say too. I accepted the responsibility that with whatever time I’ve been gifted, I have a “life assignment”, and the path I take to execute that assignment is to be traveled with eyes wide open, searching out and discovering the gifts that are within and all around me. I’ve come to know that if I will both receive the gifts life gives, and always be willing to give my gifts away, I can rest assured that at this moment, I am always right where I am supposed to be.
Through my work as an executive coach, author, and keynote speaker, I help leaders understand that:
Lasting professional growth best emerges through personal development.
Time and experience has shown that organizations don’t get stuck-- people do, and what they need is a breakthrough. I am dedicated to using the platforms I’ve been given to help people get unstuck, discover their greatest gifts, and identify what stands in the way of achieving their goals.
THE GIFT OF ADVERSITY
Part of this process includes seeing the benefit inside of perceived setbacks, understanding that people who come into our lives and even some of the things that have happened to us, are actually gifts. With this shift of perspective, these gifts can change our story, how the world occurs to us, and the future we live with intentional purpose.
Psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, believes that accepting these setbacks, our own failures and defeats, is one of the only ways we are able to lead a honest and meaningful life. We can and should learn from all experiences, positive and negative, since adversity is by far the best teacher most of us will ever encounter. This contradicts society’s current prevailing message: Excellence must be aspired to—and we had better not
People have become so caught up in the pursuit of success, moving at such a fast pace to get to where they think they need to be that they forget to give a winning performance its proper context:
Adversity is a fact of life.
If we will look at our most trying challenges through the right lens, we will ultimately gain wisdom. Even when life is hardest, there are meanings to be found, riches to be harvested, and gifts that can last a lifetime.
PATHWAY TO BREAKTHROUGH
In my work, I encourage individuals to ask themselves:
What am I best in the world at?
What type of person inspires me?
What sort of person frustrates me?
If success were guaranteed, what would I pursue?
I have been honored to work with CEO’s, organizational leaders, and world-class athletes to break through the barriers that have blocked the achievement of their corporate objectives and life dreams. Together we’ve labored to recondition their minds, uncovering and discarding the narratives that had played over and over in their thoughts like a broken record.
As each individual got unstuck, momentum was created. A force stronger than willpower shined through, and the clarity they needed to achieve the results they passionately wanted to see came forth. A new path was carved out through the gift of breakthrough.
Stephen Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority and author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People series, asserts that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness. He explains that a "paradigm shift"--a change in perception and interpretation of how the world works is key. This process affects how you perceive and act regarding productivity, time management, positive thinking, and much more.
But what if you have struggled with pain and insecurity in life and business? What if you have been searching for value, longing for success, and have tried yet failed to find it through worldly measures?
Remembering that optimal professional growth proceeds from personal development, I encourage those I work with to find their authentic self and come to the realization that there is a plethora of unopened gifts ® inside of each of us— including ones delicately wrapped inside of perceived setbacks. Open these gifts, and you hold the key to your next breakthrough.
Knowing that my life assignment requires reaching as many people as I can, I’ve written a series of books called Unopened Gifts ® to help people find their voice, give away their gift, and unlock greater depths of their potential. Each book in the series is loosely based on some of the occurrences of my own life, and demonstrates the personal growth and professional development of the main character, Kyle Fitzpatrick. Kyle occasionally speaks in my voice as his experiences reflect the victories and obstacles I have had to overcome in my own life.
In A Journey to Gratitude (the first book of the Unopened Gifts series), Kyle is a business executive at the pinnacle of success who is forever in pursuit of the brass ring. But as far as the rest of his life is concerned, everything is falling apart. His pursuit has locked him in a bitter emotional prison of envy for the successes of others, while internally raging over the personal failures caused by his workaholic life. And if he doesn’t find a way to change things, he risks losing everything- his family, health, relationships, integrity, even the business itself.
Kyle soon begins the journey of self-discovery and the story that unfolds is a compelling one. Through the relationships of Kyle’s personal life, he comes to understand that rather than chasing after the ever-eluding ideas of what success should look like, true success lies in the practice of gratitude and contentment with what one already has.
In the second book of the series, It’s All About the People, Kyle’s transformative journey continues as he seeks to apply his newfound understanding to the relationships he must nurture in the workplace. With the help of an Executive Coach, he begins to navigate the complex and versatile communication processes required for each individual on his leadership team. He comes to learn invaluable lessons about relationships and communication, discovering what it truly means to lead by example. We witness Kyle achieve breakthrough as he strives to develop himself personally and professionally, honor his word, equip his team, and sustain his company’s leading position.
Within the plot lines and cast of compelling characters of the Unopened Gifts series, there are growth principles and powerful messages for every reader, ones that further open our eyes to the Unopened Gifts around and within us. Each message is a unique gift, wrapped with potential to impact differently from one to the next depending on where we are and what we need the most. The lessons within the story are sure to remind us that at this moment, we are always right where we are supposed to be.
CHOOSING GRATITUDE HARVESTS BREAKTHROUGH
Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Finding gratitude for challenges and trials is a choice—one that requires a shift in perspective. From a scientific and psychological perspective, gratitude is more than saying or feeling thankful for something. Gratitude is a deeper appreciation for someone (or something)-- a positive emotion that serves a purpose and produces long lasting positivity in one’s outlook, desires, and achievements.
A more helpful definition comes from the Harvard Medical School defining gratitude as:
“A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives …”
See it’s a choice we have to make to acknowledge the goodness all around us in life-- particularly in the midst of hardships and setbacks.
Robert Emmons, a positive psychology researcher, has authored several papers dealing with the psychology of gratitude. He contends that choosing to be grateful can lead to increased levels of wellbeing, happiness, comfort, and security. The result is a higher level of self-esteem, less depression and anxiety, and stronger self-control. Those who practice gratitude regularly are more pleasant and tend to believe they are on the right road in pursuit of life satisfaction. This in turn makes them less narcissistic, and more willing to forgive others as resulting in the establishment of healthier interpersonal relationships.
Life and business hold amazing outcomes for us when we choose gratitude, nurture relationships, and learn to interpret our world in a new way. The gifts that presently surround us are the stepping-stones to experiencing fulfillment, passion, and purpose. When we open up and share the unique gifts inside of us, identify who and what our teachers are, and become willing to remove the interferences that come between what we say we want and actually obtaining those results, we receive the gift of breakthrough.
ACCESS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH
Winning is an outcome that means nothing if we have injured ourselves so badly we can’t play the next game. When the trophy we end up holding is something that we never wanted in the first place, we settle for a score of zero satisfaction and a realization that the real loser is the man in the mirror.
True victories in life and business arise out of the work that’s done from the inside out, the relationships we nurture, and the choice we make to shift our perspective. This is what allows us to achieve empowering, lasting results, accelerating the real wins in the main event—the game of life.
Each of us has been given an array of gifts, and for many of us there is at least one that stands out among the rest. Do you know what your greatest gift is? Have you discovered and activated the potential inside? What unopened gifts lie dormant inside of you waiting for a breakthrough?
If you’ve been reading this and think that you as an individual, or your organization as a whole needs help in discovering the gifts that lie within, I believe working with our coaching and consulting team using the tried and true approach I’ve developed can help propel you and your business to the next level. Give yourself and your company’s core leaders the gift of breakthrough - the key to unlocking their greatest potential for business success, and for living a life of fulfillment, passion, and purpose.