Pillows to rest your greatness

Last week I had the great pleasure of listening to David Greene’s NPR interview with DJ Khaled. While Khaled’s starred resume as a media mogul, producer, record executive, solo artist and Snapchat celebrity is impressive, it was actually one of the life lesson keys from his new book, The Keys, that gleefully inspired this post:

Have a lot of pillows

“I’m talking about, you have to rest your greatness, you know? Pillows are important. When you’re supposed to sleep, you’ve gotta sleep like a king or a queen. Every time you turn, there should be something comfortable to greet you.” DJ Khaled

This is fabulous. And funny.

One of my favorite sayings to clients is “step into your greatness”. And clearly Khaled gets it. Because when we step into our greatness not only is work better, everything and everyone else around us is better too. There’s a positive ripple effect. Our greatness is always there, but sometimes it’s elusive. Or suffocated or restrained.

This post is to inspire your greatness. In six unexpected ways.

1. DJ Khaled nailed the first onehave a lot of pillows.

All jesting aside, what he was doing was using pillows as a metaphor for sleep. And he’s right on two accounts. First, when we are great, we are living luxuriously. And vice versa. This doesn’t mean that we are on the A-list or that we have royal lineage. It means that we have a mentality of treating ourselves to the luxuries in life. Second, we need our zzzs.

You cannot be great without sleep.

Sleep is one of the most underrated basic needs. Many people pride themselves on getting little or no sleep. This is ridiculous. They swing from using lack of sleep as a badge of honor – or an excuse. But really, can we be at our best, stay in our greatness without it?

Heck, the CDC even calls lack of sleep a public health problem. Just a quick glance at the research will make you shut your laptop and go to bed: loss of concentration, memory, health, driving safety, and job performance, just to name a few.

When we truly honor this need, we show up better, we giddy-up with pep in our step, we have a sense of humor, we feel optimistic. This is where greatness can grow.





2. Get a big mirror.

I’m not talking about self-absorption or staring at an inflated ego. I’m talking about self-awareness. The mirror represents a willingness to take an uncensored, unshrouded look at yourself.

Because self-awareness is the singular secret to leadership greatness and success.

With self-awareness you see what is authentic, what is true about you. You see the behaviors that hold you back and can let them go. You lose the attachment to how things should be and see them as they are. There’s an easiness that comes with this clarity. So by all means, use your big mirror as a reminder to reflect on yourself. Look hard. From all different angles.






3. Remove the rocks.

I talked about this one in my last post, How to navigate 2017 with more ease. If you don’t have time to read it completely, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Let go of what is not serving you.

Have you ever worked in your yard or garden? If so then you understand the need to clear the rocks and till the soil. It’s no different with our lives. The heaviness, or rocks, of our lives come in many disguises; physical clutter, emotional baggage, coping behaviors, habits of thought (like worry)…. It’s the list of things that weigh us down.

True greatness comes not by adding more skills, accomplishments, experience or letters behind your name, but by removing what does not belong there to begin with. So start by chucking (or maybe heaving?) the rocks that weigh you down. Remove the residue. Let your greatness shine.





4. Cherish your checklist.

While it’s lovely to be highly enlightened, at some point you have to get up off your zafu and take action. We love checklists. They provide clarity, and ooh, the sense of accomplishment when you check that box. The other thing about checklists is that they keep you on track. They get stuff out of your head and onto paper where you can prioritize, organize, categorize. They inspire movement.

Let’s put it this way… You decide to lose weight. You pay for the gym. You hire the trainer… This is all well and good but you still need to get up, get out, and work out!

Yes, you need to honor your basic needs. Yes, you need to reflect on who you are and then free up anything that’s holding you back. But you also need to get moving. Greatness is expanded when you do more of it.

5. Rinse and repeat.

In other words: practice, practice, practice. Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book, Outliers: The Story of Success showed that true greatness was honed after 10,000 hours of practice. 10,000 hours! That’s the equivalent of 5 years of work at your craft (assuming an 8-hour day and 2 weeks of annual vacation).

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

I’m not saying that you can’t be great from the start – you already are. But like anything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get. Practicing in your wheelhouse of greatness is a good thing.





6. Build a kick-ass playlist.

Humans are motivated by two things – pleasure or pain. Favorite playlists are a means to pure pleasure. Great music can lift you, it can move you, and, most importantly, it puts you in a state of play. And play = pleasure. All greatness is underpinned by a sense of play.

Sadly, all too often we adults fall into more drudgery than play. The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious. We have responsibilities after all. This is pure nonsense. Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, describes play as  a “state of being”. I call it greatness. Being playful is magnetic. It is engaging. It’s how we connect. Solve problems. Express creativity. Stay sharp. So whether your version of play is rugby, concerts, or cornhole, do more of it. It energizes your greatness.

Your greatness is your brand. Find it, use it, release it. The world will be better because of it. I’ll wrap up by sharing one of my favorite quotes on this subject:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Enough said.

Now I’m going to find my pillow.


Julie Schaller is co-founder of M-Power Coaching and architect of the Career GPS System, a professional coaching program that enables you to find and land a career ideally suited for you. To gain confidence on your career path, join us for the 1-day Clarity in 2017 workshop February 10th in Redmond, WA. 

Related Posts