written by Mick Ukleja

3 Essential Mindsets To Make Your Twenties Count!

I recently did a training session for the leadership team and staff of Special Olympics of Southern California. One third of the participants were Millennials.  Their attentiveness to career development and life choices was personally encouraging.  These 2 things are also at the core of the present day topic of Extended Adolescence. Just as the category of adolescence was inserted between youth and adulthood around the beginning of the 20th century, so also extended adolescence has today been inserted between adolescence and adulthood.  All this has lead to the popular notion that “30 is the new 20.” But is this the case?

The answer is both yes and no.  Let me explain.

YES. It’s true that leaving home happens later than it used to.  Parents helping their 20-something children financially is commonplace.  Parent-child relationships are more connected than past generations.

However, the question that arises is this:

  • Does extended adolescence have any long-term negative effect on 20-somethings?
  • Where is the line of harmless connection to home and parents and a mindset that becomes toxic?
  • Is there an attitude that causes 20-somethings to get stuck?
  • What is harmless, and what can become harmful?
  • Is it possible that some important growth steps could be stalled, negatively impacting these emerging adults.
  • Are there steps  that Millennials in their second decade cannot afford to miss?

Even though there is nothing wrong with having a close connection to home, that does not erase the need to grow into adulthood.  There is still the need to become productive, and take advantage of future opportunities.  Thinking it will work out by starting in one’s thirties has created personal disappointment, often referred to as expectation hangover.

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written by Mick Ukleja

Reflection: 5 Valuable Questions That Will Guide Your Journey

ReflectionThe famous Irish poet Oscar Wilde once said, The final mystery is oneself.” But how do you unravel the mystery that is you? This can’t happen without self-awareness, and self-awareness won’t happen without reflection.

Yet what does reflection really mean?

Reflection is different from introspection.

Introspection is simply looking in. Stopping there not only limits your perspective, it can also diffuse it. In fact it can lead some to pessimism, or even depression. Introspection is a one-way street. Reflection goes two ways. Let me explain.

The word, reflect in Latin means to refold. Take the example of your reflection in the mirror. When you look in the mirror the image goes in, refolds, and reflects. In the same way, taking the time to reflect on circumstances or events in your life will bring you new insights. There is no real learning process, sense of discovery, or insight without reflection.

Reflection is looking in so you can look out with a broader, bigger, and more accurate perspective.

Without reflection your life becomes happenstance—activity without insight. Our experiences will not become insights without evaluating where I am, and why am I here? This in turn will help us to get to where we want to go. In other words we become more authentic. Authenticity is about getting closer to our true identity.

As kids we loved going to the carnival. The fun house was particularly exciting. We would run through the maze of mirrors, totally confused as to which way we should go. We would leave with knots on our heads and bruises on our knees from running down what we thought was a hallway into an immovable glass wall. On the way out the tiny lobby was lined with wildly curved mirrors with distorted images of the real us (the iPhone distorted photos app is it’s modern day version). Those mirrors made us look tall and skinny or short and fat. Our faces were totally warped: big ears, bulging eyes, large nose, and fat cheeks. Sometimes our heads were shaped like an hourglass.

We laughed until we cried because we knew what we saw was distorted. It was not the real us—the authentic us.

The point? We all have an internal mirror that reflects how we see ourselves. What you see determines your behavior—often subconsciously. But these distortions are not funny! It actually minimizes who you really are and what you really want. Without honest self-reflection, you can spend a lot of energy trying to find the right image to project to others. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being honest with who and where you are, and what you really want.

It leads to a more accurate picture, and accuracy leads to authenticity.

Warren Bennis reminds us that the word authentic comes from the word author. The more authentic we become the more we are authoring our lives, and not simply living someone else’s script. And the more authentic you become, the greater is your sense of well-being.

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written by Mick Ukleja

7 Ways To Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

When our dreams collide with reality, reality wins!

Dreams without action is a world of make believe.  Consider the following:

  • 96% of college professors believe they have above average teaching skills.
  • 50% of high school students believe they will attend law school, medical school, or grad school.
  • Time magazine asked in a survey, “Are you in the top 1% of wage earners?”  19% said yes! And 36% expected to be.


A dream without a plan is soon exposed.

“When the tide goes out, you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Warren Buffet

John Kotter has said there are two kinds of people in the world:

  • Those who accept their life, and
  • Those who lead their life.

Some people just get up, look at their life, and hope something good will happen.  The successful person says,

  • I’m going to make something happen 
  • I’m going to build on trust
  • Make that relationship work
  • Take control over the things I have influence over
  • Lead my life
  • Create a personal learning agenda that will help fulfill my dreams

The obvious lesson?  The key to transforming dreams into reality is to set goals that can be broken down into doable steps.

“The secret to change is one step at a time.” Mark Twain

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