Talk Takeaway: Self Improvement with Leeza Gibbons

Posted on Jan 3, 2013 10:45am

From her new book, "Take 2: Your Guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings" Leeza Gibbons offers advice on how to restart your life.

Put yourself first.
This is the constant lesson that keeps coming back to us as women because we still don't get it! We get stuck in that comfortable place of nurturing, loving, pleasing and giving.  And that's great- it's one of our greatest joys.  But we forget that when we empty out on all of those things, we do a disservice not only to ourselves, but to those who love us. When I was growing up, I was a cheerleader at my school.  After the girls were elected by the students, we had to vote on the head cheerleader.   Well, I was "Little Miss in Charge," and I really wanted to be the head cheerleader! But when we wrote our choices down on secret the ballots, I voted for someone else instead of myself. And then I thought, "Oh no, what if it comes down to one vote?"  In life, it often comes down to one vote.  If we don't even have enough confidence to vote for ourselves, we're basically teaching our coworkers and children and mates not to value us either if we don't value ourselves. It's crucial that we value who we are enough to put ourselves at the top of the list and make sure we fill up on the resources we need.

Identify pacesetters.
Pacesetters are the people who literally set the pace for you.  The ones who have the work you want or the relationships you desire; maybe they have the body you want or they patience.  I began to watch people who had what I wanted. I created a little team of women who set the pace for me. Some of them have been on my list for a long time. Olivia Newton John is one of mine.  Since the 80's, I wanted to be her! I even cut my hair like hers from the "Physical album."  I never dreamed I would one day been friends with her.   She invited me to join her on her trip to the Great Wall of China.  It was just after I finally decided I'd throw in the towel in a marriage that wasn't working. I signed the divorce papers and the next day I was on a plane to the Great Wall. On that trip, she said some things to me about trusting where I was in that moment and being present. It was about opening up and softening up. I saw her do it. She was in love again. I saw her recreate her career and her happiness. I was really inspired and let her example remind me that I could have that too. I think it's helpful for women to come up with a list. We borrow from each other. It's about being open to learning and growing. And then you have to ask, "What am I doing to pass it on the other women?" I looked at other women, either ahead of me in career or in age, and through them I found the confidence that I could get there too.

Become unpredictable.
Sometimes we have to change our energy and the way we respond to the world to become who we want to be. You know what they say," If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done."  Starting over is a good time to lighten up and shake things up.  If we think everything is serious and everything is an emergency, then our vibe will be way too heavy for others to want to be with us and eventually we lose excitement for everything.  One of the great things about getting older is looking at life backwards and in my rear view mirror, I can see where "light" therapy always works.  Sometimes all you have to do is lighten up and laugh. Kids are great for this because they force you to be spontaneous and get you out of your head. And doing that -- being fun, being silly sometimes -- that's what causes us to fall in love with other people AND ourselves.
You only earn respect from things that are difficult. There are a million things I do for work everyday that are easy breezy.  I could do them with my eyes closed.  But when I climbed  Machu Picchu, and  drove a race car , When I jumped  out of a plane -- those are the things which allowed me to see myself differently and to become more courageous in every aspect of my life.   And it doesn't have to be these kinds of thrill-seeking activities.  You grow your courage when you pick up the phone and talk to someone who is going to fire you, or break up with you, or whom you haven't spoken with in years.  You respect yourself a little more every time you call and book a mammogram or face bad news.  You have to give yourself opportunities to grow your courage and often that comes from being a bit unpredictable.

Create a "retro approach" to life.
A retro approach is just really getting honest with yourself and simplifying things. It's about being clear on what your values are and then pledging allegiance to them. You have to think about the basics. If your body is tired, exercise your mind. If your mind is tired, exercise your body.  Look for sanity sanctuaries, create these ritualized moments and life becomes more manageable. Give yourself the gift of knowing that feeling better or reinventing can be a process of taking time to reconnect with what really matters to you when you strip all the clutter away.

Bust the balance myth.
Balance is bogus.  Trying to achieve balance just forces you to feel like a failure, there is no actual balance, no middle of the see-saw. I spent my twenties and thirties looking for it. The biggest pressure comes off when you can stop pursuing this phantom. Now, I say I don't even WANT to be balanced because that would mean that every day is the same and all the people in my life get the same amount no matter what.   Anyone with kids knows you can't balance it out with them. You have to love them differently, based on what they need at certain times. When I chased balance, I was trying to breast feed my daughter, go on assignments, be a good wife, find time to work out, hang with my friends, be a mentor, change the world....STOP.   The way I got through living my life from high atop the balance beam was just not to look down. I found that knowing my non-negotiables helped. For me navigation became the goal, not balance.  Effort became the objective.   I use the first five and the last five minutes of every day to deep breathe and stretch. I go over some basic thoughts in my head. Navigation for me always means bringing my ship to shore when the day is done and walking away.  It will always be there tomorrow should I decide to jump back in and then I can chart another course.  

Web exclusive, Leeza offers five extra tips on how to take stock of your life!

Be flexible on your dream. 
Know your non-negotiables, but be flexible as much as you can. The road to the top of your mountain probably has detours, bends and even a few dead-ends.  This is your sign you're on the right path. 
Be fearless with change.
Get ready to have the rug pulled out from under you and master the change by facing it down.  

Prepare, prepare and prepare some more. 
Learn your lines, do the research, read the reports- whatever your job entails, make sure you have given it proper respect.  You'll find successful people have prepared to be successful. 
Be an optimist. 
You have a choice on how to view things.  People like those who think positively. It inspires others to reach higher too.
Be grateful and gracious. 
Show gratitude.  This is the foundation upon which you build more.

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