Will the REAL You Please Stand Up?: 7 Spiritual Strategies to Help You Discover Your Purpose and Live It with Passion

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9780757305498: Will the REAL You Please Stand Up?: 7 Spiritual Strategies to Help You Discover Your Purpose and Live It with Passion

An authentic, joyful life can be hard to find. Fortunately, Fran Harris has written the map—in 7 steps anyone can take.

Successful, self-actualized and blissful: how many of us can say that about ourselves?

Fran Harris sure can. She's a national television personality, WNBA Champion, international inspirational speaker, life coach and consultant to Fortune 500 companies. But ask her about her greatest accomplishment, and she's likely to smile and say, "That's easy: I found the REAL me."

Because she believes we should all experience that journey, Fran's new book reveals her secrets for scrapping what we think we know about authenticity so that we can see and live up to our own potential. Her "7 Steps" are unconventional—and maybe controversial—but they work.

Dr. Harris teaches that we'll only find our real selves by shedding all the layers of institutionalized belief, dogma and practice that we pile on in life—eschewing ritualized adherence in favor of a deeper, more spiritual view of the world and ourselves. This, she contends, is what "God" wants for us. According to Harris, when we become unburdened by society's expectations, we are free to experience true joy, more capable of tapping into our own genius, and more likely to attract abundance and prosperity in all areas of our lives.

A life of passion and purpose is everyone's birthright. Get yours!

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About the Author:

Fran Harris, Ph.D., (New York, NY) is an ordained minister, life coach, business strategist, national television personality and international speaker whose messages have been heard in over thirty countries. She's appeared on numerous television shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and CNN Headline News. She has also appeared on the Learning Channel and the TV Guide Channel. A former ESPN, Lifetime Television and FOX Sports announcer, Harris was a member of the Houston Comets' first WNBA Championship team in 1997. In 2005, she founded the 100 Women Entrepreneurs and Millionaires Challenge, an accelerated business and wealth-coaching program. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Will the real you please stand up?

The summer I retired from the WNBA I was at a major crossroads. I was coming off of the inaugural championship season with the Houston Comets. It was 1998, and I was deciding what I wanted to 'do' for the next phase of my life. I'd played for the Utah Starzz that summer and hadn't had the most joyous of experiences with that organization. Yet because I believe every experience carries both lessons and blessings, I was able to walk away from that time in my life with greater self-awareness, fond memories, and more important, a whole new set of friends whom I truly love.

The biggest takeaway from my minicrisis, which I now affectionately call my 'Salt Lake Days,' is a book that I conceived during one of my 'keep my sanity' meditation sessions while looking out over a majestic set of mountains in Park City, Utah. The book, at the time, I called What on Earth Am I Doing Here? It was precisely the question I was asking myself at the time. I had no idea what the book was going to be about, but I was definitely digging the title. One night as I packed for a road trip, I got inspired to work on the book. I jotted pages and pages of notes on various topics as the information came to me. Who was I, really? How had I come to be the person I was, and more important, was who I'd become who I wanted to be? My life felt like a giant jigsaw puzzle with more than a million little pieces. It was clear that I was on a journey of self-discovery, which I didn't mind, but the answers weren't coming to me in a neatly wrapped package, as I'd hoped. The answers were coming at me the way sand flies into your eyes on a windy afternoon at Venice Beach―from every direction and faster than I could keep up with. I found myself asking, 'Why, of all questions, is God asking me to answer 'Who am I?'' The answer I repeatedly got was: because to do the work you were born to do, you need to know who you are. So I bought a WOEAIDH (What on Earth Am I Doing Here?) journal and started to record the details of this new journey.

The premise of the book was going to be about self-exploration and spiritual awareness; that much I could tell. I would go to bed writing and I would wake up writing. I would be standing on the sidelines during practice thinking about THE question: who am I?

On the plane to our game versus the New York Liberty (a long flight from Salt Lake City), I wrote a book proposal and started to churn out the details of the content. I was sure I could get the book sold fairly quickly, but then, as it has a tendency to do, life got crazy, and the book project got tossed aside. It became like that pair of pants we buy 'because they're on sale,' but we never end up wearing. Still, I never forgot about it. And the question 'Who am I and why am I here?' stayed with me. I kept the proposal tucked neatly in my filing cabinet in the 'great ideas' folder, where it stayed for three years.

In March 2001, I participated on a panel of successful businesswomen and international leaders via satellite in the Second Annual WomenFuture.com global businesswomen summit that was aired on PBS. After a long day of energizing and encouraging 200 women and men of various ages, professional disciplines, and socioeconomic backgrounds to step into their purpose and passion, I looked out into the eager faces and posed what I believed to be a simple question: 'How many of you are truly living your life's purpose?'

It seemed like a logical enough question, but immediately a hush fell over the previously raucous room. So I posed the question again―this time in Italian, since it appeared that either I'd asked a really difficult question or I'd asked it in the wrong language! The audience laughed as I continued to speak to them in Spanish, broken German, and pathetic French in an attempt to get a response. 'C'mon, let's see a show of hands,' I continued. Nothing. 'Then just what are you doing with your lives?' I asked. They were speechless. On that day, I realized I wasn't the only one who needed to answer 'the question.' It was also on that day the book began to truly take shape. It was clear that I had to write a book about purposeful living. A lot of people were struggling with discovering their purpose. This book, I believed, would help them.

As I sat on stage looking out into the faces of people who by most standards had achieved phenomenal success and amassed incredible financial wealth, it became apparent to me that as much as we've evolved as humans, a vast majority of us are still roaming the earth in a zombielike state. No passion. No purpose. No joy. No light. 'How did we get here?' I asked myself. Oh, it wasn't rhetorical. I knew exactly why the audience had been so silent. I could look at my own life and answer that question! The audience's silence was confirmation. Now, everything was falling into place.

There's something to be said about the time you spend alone with God. As I look back on the blessings from my Salt Lake Days, I realize that that was exactly where I needed to be to learn some of the lessons I'll share later on in the book. I knew that my spiritual walk was going to take an accelerated turn for the better when on my first Sunday in Salt Lake, I drove to the shopping mall only to discover that it was closed on Sundays. That's when I started going to the mountaintop, literally. And that's when I realized how spiritually lethargic I'd become.

I had been allowing my ego to dictate my life that summer so it shouldn't surprise you to learn that I found myself in some precarious situations on more than a few occasions. I was engaging in some serious spiritual aerobics with the Utah Starzz management and coaching staff over things that I was never going to convince them to see differently. My fear was that if they didn't see things differently (read: the way I saw them) that I was going to have a hard time surviving in Utah, and, therefore, have a miserable summer. Well, they didn't budge and neither did I. And the very thing I feared happened. They stood their ground, I stood mine, and I ended up having a miserable summer! Sound familiar? No? Keep reading.

Like many of you, even in my fear during that fateful summer, I sought a deeper connection to God, to myself, to my family, to the world, to my reason for living. And, like many of you, I wanted to seek answers from my spiritual community. I'd learned as an adolescent that church was a building where people went to 'be fed' spiritually, yet what I saw in church were contradictions to the things we were taught in the sermons. As a twelve-year-old, I can remember vicious emotional warfare going on between church members. I saw blatant unkindness and disregard for human life. I saw people who lifted their hands in reverence to God in one moment, and then use the same hands to point their fingers in judgment and condemnation immediately after the service was over. And this wasn't just at my church. This was in every 'church building' I stepped into. As you can imagine, I was a very confused adolescent. I thought church was supposed to be a place of love, acceptance, and spiritual nourishment. What I saw was anything but the Christ-centered love we learned about in Sunday school. One of my favorite Bible verses growing up was, 'You will know they are Christians by their love.' I wasn't seeing a whole lot of love sometimes on Sunday!

I wasn't satisfied with what I saw in church, so I began to seek out God―and spirituality―for myself. I began to read books on enlightenment and spirituality, although I had no idea what the words meant. I began to introduce myself to other spiritual paths besides Christianity. I wasn't looking for a substitution but rather an expansion of my faith.

I had been trained to believe that it didn't matter what you did on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, but on Sunday your butt needed to be in church. And it was. It was in church all day on Sunday, from sunup to sundown. Yet as much as I was physically in church, there were things about church and God that I still didn't get. I enjoyed the stories and metaphors. I loved the singing and praising. I could recite the books of the Bible faster than an auctioneer reels off the bids at Sotheby's, but I still didn't get the relationship between how God wanted us to treat each other and how we were actually treating each other. I couldn't comprehend the often-conflicting messages about abundance. Was it okay to be rich as long as we gave God a percentage? I didn't understand why some people were upset that certain people drove certain cars. Or how much chatter there could actually be around a 'good' teenage girl who mysteriously ended up pregnant. My teenage years were confusing enough as it was, and the dynamics of 'church folk' made it even more confusing.

Still, nobody questioned what was taught at church. And if they did, they did so in private. The Bible was the most important book in existence, and we were told that if you wanted to know the answer to something, the Bible was the place to look. This didn't stop me from having a zillion questions. Since I can remember, I've always had a zillion questions. I have a curious nature.

I remember once asking one of my Sunday school teachers why most of the books of the Bible were men's names. 'Because that's the way God made it,' she answered. Hmmm. I didn't buy that. I still don't. But that's what I mean about questioning what you've been taught. Did they really think that a kid who questioned every decision (mostly in my head) that my parents made would actually buy that God, the Divine, the Spirit, who loves us all the same, would actually sign off on a book that discriminates against half the population? Come on! I was young, but I wasn't dense! And, thus, my journey to truth, spirituality, and the real me began.

I'm convinced that going to college was my University of Spirituality because it is there that I truly saw the vastness of God and how important spirituality was to people from all over the world. I attended and played basketball at the University of Texas at Austin, a 50,000+-student metropolitan college with a huge international population. Diverse cultures and ethnicities spread over the campus like lava. It was amazing. And with each of these groups came their respective 'takes' on God and spirituality. It was like a spiritual Baskin Robbins―31 Flavors on campus!

I'd been raised in a traditional Baptist church that followed a Christian doctrine that taught that Jesus had died for my sins. Sins? I thought I was a fairly decent child. I was a bit precocious at times, but a sinner? That didn't add up for me. Anyway, as I was saying, college opened my eyes to many things, chief among them was the fact that I'd been led to believe that Christianity was the be-all and end-all and that anything else was just plain nonsense. Again, it wasn't adding up. God wouldn't want me to be confused and conflicted about divine messages, as I had been feeling for so long. There had to be more.

In college, before each game, we gathered in a circle and prayed to God. Not to the Christians' God. Not to the Muslims' Allah. Not to the Jews' God. Not to Jehovah. But to God. To Spirit. The Oneness that united us all. Because of these prayers, in my freshman year in college (when we think we know everything anyway), I figured it all out. God wasn't a man, even though we prayed to the Father. The Lord's house wasn't a place to deify men―although there was, and still is, a lot of that going on, but God was Spirit. Infinite. No beginning. No end.

It was that year, at seventeen years old, that I noticed how people responded to the word 'God.' It was also that year that I learned that God is called many things, depending on who's talking. Why were people so triggered by God and spirituality? Why were people so upset when someone spoke of The Divine, rather than using the word 'God'? That year I learned that there is rampant ego (fear) among religions. No wonder our world was in such a mess! Every religion wanted exclusive rights to God! That's when I truly started to learn about spirituality and God's love. I learned that God was not watching over just me, but the entire world. That God didn't favor me over my non-Christian teammates. And most important, God wasn't waiting for me to screw up so that I could be punished with a plague of locusts. God was love, nothing but pure love. Were I and the little girls and boys at the campus nursery the only ones who got that?

I wish I could say that my life was transformed at the ripe old age of seventeen, but it wasn't. That was only the beginning of the journey to my personal spiritual enlightenment. The first thing I had to get used to was not going to church on Sundays―a trek that was about to be filled with some interesting plot twists and turns. It was a major adjustment. You see, college was not anything like high school. We had basketball practice on Sundays, and I would soon learn that not only were we going to be practicing on Sundays, but we might even play a few games on Sunday, too! I don't know why this seemed so farfetched. I'd grown up watching the Dallas Cowboys every single Sunday during NFL season. The concept of sports on Sunday wasn't new; however, missing church was a concept I'd have to adjust to. Because even though I'd watched football on Sundays, I watched the games after I got home from church.

I remember the turmoil I experienced as that first Sunday during my freshman year at UT loomed closer. I had to face the fact that I wasn't going to be sitting on somebody's pew listening to the parable of the fish and loaves because my coach had some silly notion that basketball players need instruction and conditioning.

My other church-going teammates and I researched the area and found a church that held an early service. Phew! I was relieved. And even though the service did little to stimulate me, I was glad to be in the midst. We'd arrive at the church in bunches of threes and fours. And everyone knew who we were because, as most of you know, athletes are rock stars on college campuses. Most of the people in the congregation always looked impressed that we were in church. I always found that kind of funny. We'd participate in the services like the other congregants, and as the clock neared practice time―12 noon―we'd tiptoe out the side door, stop by McDonald's or 7-11 for something we had no business eating, and zoom down the street toward the gym. Even though we might have gotten to be in service for only thirty minutes, we felt so much better about ourselves. At least we were 'there,' we'd say. God rewards us for being 'there,' we thought. We had a lot to learn.

Then one day I was talking to one of my teammates who never went to church except for funerals and weddings. She asked me why going to church was so important to me. She couldn't believe that no matter how late I stayed up on Saturday night, I always dragged my tired butt out of bed to go to church the next morning. Our conversation took an interesting turn after she asked me why I went to church 'only' on Sunday. Wow! What a great question. I stared at her for a moment. She was genuinely interested in my answer. She admired my diligence and commitment a...

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