Friday, May 27, 2011

The Surprising Science of Motivation!

OK you grand folks, and welcome to Friday. This was a short work week here in Canada, and we were still able to address some of the major issues that affect us all. And my sincere thanks to those of you who took the time to consider the subjects and respond so eloquently.

Now, let me be clear, I actually like you folks. I work to ease the issues and problems you have attracted to yourself with dignity, grace, and a modicum of patience.

Every now and then I just have to tell you clearly that what you`re doing simply will not work. My grandfather nailed this one down for me many years ago when he said, "Peter, success is easy. Just take everything you are currently doing that does not work, and STOP doing it". TaDa - Success!

Now dear folks, the one thing that we all likely have in common is that we are responsible for "motivating" other people in our individual enterprises. Each of you either owns your own company, is a senior executive, is a human resource manager, or are a supervisor of staff in some way. Yes?

So, to finish up this week, as we usually do with a video, I have reprised one that clearly gets the point across. The lessons that Daniel Pink shares with you may indeed disturb your weekend. If he does, my job is done.

I'm in a "mix it up" frame of mind right now and I will indeed look forward to your responses.

Let's watch: The Surprising Science of Motivation

Have a great weekend all.

See you on Monday.


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Acute Excusitis!

Have you ever been caught up in an argument with someone simply because they didn't say or do what you expected. Maybe they promised to do something for you and didn't follow through. Or perhaps, they did something that you asked them not to do.

Did you find that the basis of their point of view was simply to make excuses why they did or didn't do what they promised? Perhaps their reasoning was valid, perhaps not. It doesn't really matter either way. The issue is: why do we get caught up in making excuses instead of just accepting responsibility calmly and quietly and moving on? Perhaps you were the one that was making the excuses in some of those situations. I find myself there too often; trying to back out of an action or inaction, an attitude or a comment.

Why is acute excusitis so prevalent amongst mature adults? Why are we afraid of taking responsibility and simply acknowledging our errors, thus enabling ourselves and others
that are involved to move on? Even when we believe we are right, do we have to "win" the argument just to prove to someone else that we are right? Why not let the other person have their say, whether right or wrong, whether valid or not, and then just let it go? It is actually easier to accept and move on than it is to come up with "reasons" (i.e. excuses) to validate our actions. It takes less effort and energy to concede to your error or to concede to their point of view than it does to fight against it and the other person. So, I ask again, why is acute excusitis so prevalent?

It is easy to understand it in children who grow up in a home environment where consequences carry praise or punishment in order to help shape that young person into a responsible, mature adult. Children want to avoid the punishment, especially if they link it to a loss of love from their parents. However, even with children, learning to accept responsibility completely is an important step in maturing. Despite this, I don't see too many children who do take responsibility for the consequences of their actions squarely on their shoulders. Maybe that's why many adults don't either - they haven't learnt the lessons of responsibility properly in their growing up. Why not? Because their parents never learnt the lessons properly either, so they couldn't pass them on to their children. It becomes a perpetual error, handed down from generation to generation, thus causing acute excusitis to develop and linger.

Why are most of us afraid to take complete, 100% responsibility for our actions at all times? Maybe we don't want to admit (to ourselves or others) that we are not perfect. The ego in all of us seems to be most comfortable thinking it is perfect. Therefore, any indicators that this is not so are to be dismissed. If someone tells me I did something wrong, then I have to prove that this is not the case. It was not my fault - it was someone else's. Or, it was because of circumstances. E.g. "I can't think straight today because you kept me up too late last night telling me your problems. It's your fault I forgot to..." Or, it's because we are sick, stressed, tired, confused, etc. Any of these conditions may indeed be a factor why we have forgotten to do something, or we have said something hurtful to someone, or whatever. However, none of these factors are reasons for us trying to give away responsibility for our actions. No matter how we feel, we are completely responsible for our words and actions at all times. No matter what else is happening, we are completely responsible. No matter what someone else has done, said or avoided, we are completely responsible. No one can take that responsibility away. We can only give it away.

And, one way we try to give it away is by making excuses for our actions. If you find yourself suffering from acute excusitis, the first step in overcoming it is to realize that you have a choice at any moment in time - you can choose to acknowledge your responsibility for your life or you can choose to ignore it. The more you ignore it, the less you feel that your life belongs to you.

The more you ignore it, the more you believe that others rule your life and make your
decisions for you. Once you choose to acknowledge your responsibility, you can move beyond the "need" to make excuses and you can avoid having arguments that achieve no real purpose.

In my opinion, any argument that is not about moving ahead in a situation is not worth having. Any argument that is about who is right or who is wrong is not worth having. Life is not black and white. In most scenarios there is no real right or wrong anyway, only differences of opinion. People who argue about trying to prove who is right or wrong are ignoring the individualism of themselves and the person they are arguing with. Everyone is an individual. Everyone has a slightly different view of the world. Everyone has a slightly different set of beliefs about life. And everyone differs in what they believe is right or wrong, even if only to a very slight degree.

One way you can avoid getting into arguments with others is simply to not move from conversation to argument. It takes two to argue. You cannot have an argument where one
person refuses to move from conversation to argument. Stay emotionally detached from the content and give the other person the respect to express their point of view whilst maintaining your viewpoint only as much as it is absolutely important to do so.

To move beyond arguments more effectively, you can also practice being unconditionally loving. To me, unconditional love means: loving without conditions, loving without strings attached, loving someone despite what that person says, does or infers. To love unconditionally means to let others be their own selves, to give others the respect they deserve to live their own way on their own journey through life. To love unconditionally removes the need to prove you are right and someone else is wrong. To love unconditionally removes the need to receive validation from the other person. To love unconditionally motivates you to allow others to express their true feelings and to accept them no matter how well or badly they are expressed.

To move beyond arguments more effectively, we can practice being more proactive. Proactivity is an attitude where you take conscious responsibility for how you will deal in any situation. Despite how you might initially feel, you decide how you will act. Proactivity does not mean that you won't react to things. However, it manifests as a difference between how you react (or feel) and how you respond (or act). To be proactive allows you to avoid saying something in the heat of the moment. To be proactive allows you to avoid buying into the other persons' emotional state.

What we say is our perspective. What others consciously "hear" is their perspective. The two are not necessarily the same. We go into every conversation or interaction with others with our own set of values, beliefs, boundaries, limitations, fears, concerns, focuses, and agendas. What is said or done to us is filtered through those perception elements. The message that is sent is the message that we receive, however our perception of its' meaning can be totally different. I've heard that 55% of all communication is non-verbal. The words that we hear do not make up the majority of the message that we receive.

There are so many excuses we can come up with for our actions, our words, our attitudes. But, no excuse ever really takes away the responsibility that we have for our own lives.

There is no excuse, good or bad, right or wrong, for allowing acute excusitis to rule our lives.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Avoiding Mediocrity: Do You Dare to Be Different?

“Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity”.

Patti Wilson

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I’m afraid most in life is mediocrity. For me, life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity. Life is a golden opportunity, and we should use it as good as we can. Living in mediocrity means we do not use the opportunity as good as we should.

Unfortunately, many people are trapped in mediocrity. I believe one of the main reasons is they do not dare to be different. You need to be different if you want to be above the average. The question is:

Do you dare to be different?

This question might not be easy to answer, but how you answer it will make the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

Here are some more specific questions to help you check yourself and take actions:

1. Do you have a dream?

This is the first question you should ask yourself. I believe one of the main reasons people just follow the herd is they don’t have a dream. If there is nothing to pursue then why bother being different?

But a dream is what sets you above the average. Not having a dream means going to mediocrity on autopilot.

If your answer for this first question is “no” then start searching. I’m sure you have a dream deep inside of you. It might be something from your childhood. Maybe for long time you have been too busy to let the little voice of your dream be heard. This is the right time to heed that little voice.

If you have found your dream, the next question is whether or not you have the courage to follow it. Questions two through five will deal with that.

2. Are you doing what you want or what you should?

There are often implicit “rules” about what someone should do in a particular situation. For example, when there are two job opportunities, the “rule” says that you should take the one with higher pay.

But is that what you want? I mean, does it help you achieve your dream? Maybe the job with less pay will help you achieve your dream while the one with higher pay doesn’t. Do you have the courage to be different and follow your dream?

3. Do you worry more about being loved than being what you love?

Another reason why we don’t dare to be different is because we are trying to meet other people’s expectations. We often worry more about what other people say than about what matters to us. But living someone else’s life is a bad way to live your life. Why should you lose opportunity just because of what other people say?

4. Do you choose what is safe rather than what is right?

Maybe you are not trying to meet other people’s expectation. Maybe you just don’t want to take risks and therefore you choose to play safe. But this is exactly what many old people regret. When they were asked in a study about what they regretted most and what they would do differently, most of them answered: “I wish I had risked more.” Don’t let the same regret happen to you.

5. If you had only six months left to live, would you do what you are doing now?

You can only answer “yes” to this question if what you are doing matters to you. Doing what matters to you is a sure way to excellence since you will do it with all your heart. But you need the courage to be different and follow your heart. Do you have it? I hope your answer is yes.

Life is too precious to be lived in mediocrity.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What's Stopping You?

To get this week off on the right note, I suggest to you that the follow quote by Dan Zadra be the focus of your day.

“Always know in your heart that you are far bigger than anything that can happen to you.” – Dan Zadra

You've heard if before... sometimes, bad things happen to good people. People get sick, lose jobs, get divorced, have financial problems, raise troubled kids, suffer from depression and there are a multitude of other things that can go wrong in life. Sooner or later we all face some kind of trouble.

What does it take to get past some of the heartache that we all surely experience? I recently saw the movie “Men of Honor” and was engrossed with one man's quest to be all he could be in his life. Many seemingly insurmountable obstacles were thrown in his path and, yet, he kept finding ways to go where he wanted life to take him.

What does it take to keep the faith, find the good in circumstances and continue on your journey through life? In my work as a coach, and from personal experience, I have found it takes healthy doses of the following elements to press on.

1. A sense of purpose. People who continue on know who they are and what they bring to the table. They also know that success is cumulative and that a person is not the sum of his successes or failures, but rather a total sum of his how his mind, body and spirit operate.

“Self-esteem--an estimation of who I am apart from what I do.” – Nathaniel Branden

2. The ability to see the big picture and keep a positive attitude. Troubles and turmoil are often the steppingstones to greater and bigger dreams. This is difficult to see in the midst of trouble, but having even the smallest mustard seed of faith will help propel you forward. Think positive!

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." – Helen Keller

3. Perseverance and support. When you know who you are meant to be, the only way to be that person is to keep pressing on. Find a way. If there is not a path, then make one. And don't go it alone. Get the support you need. Find someone you trust. Ask for their feedback and support. Why make life harder than it has to be? When you go it alone, you make it that way.
Keep on keepin' on!

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.” – John Quincy Adams

“It's never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Elliot

I urge you now to take some to time to reflect and do a check-in with who you are. Are you happy with yourself? Are you in integrity? Who do you want to be? If something or someone has been stopping you from taking the above steps, just simply begin and watch what comes your way. Be true to who you are and expect to have a delightful future!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Be Aware of Your Patterns.

If you're like most people, you've probably noticed some patterns in your life. By "patterns," I mean situations that seem to show up over and over again; the cast of characters may change a bit, but the end results remain the same.

In and of themselves, such patterns aren't necessarily good or bad. They can be the source of boundless joy or tremendous frustration, economic abundance or financial struggle. In fact, it's quite likely that you have both positive and negative patterns in your life right now.

For instance, maybe you've worked for numerous bosses who have been very critical of you. No matter what company you're with, the same result occurs. This is a pattern.

If you honestly analyze your life, you will see that you have created (and continue to create!) many patterns -- some that serve you and others that hinder your progress.

At the root of most patterns is a belief system (your expectations about what you can achieve) and your level of self esteem (how you feel about yourself). For instance, if you don't believe that you are capable of earning more than a certain amount of money, you'll go from one position or career to another and find that in each case, you earn only as much as your expectations will allow.

Similarly, if you have relatively low self esteem, you'll find that in one relationship after another, (both personally and in your career) you will tend to attract people who will put you down.

Let's look at some specific steps you can take to create new patterns that will improve every area of your life:

1. Identify your current patterns. Take stock of the results you've produced in the following areas: your career, financial circumstances, health status, professional and personal relationships.

Are you steadily advancing in your career ... or are you bouncing from job to job or stagnating in a position you hate? Do you feel that colleagues appreciate your efforts or are you regularly criticized "for no good reason"?

After identifying your patterns, ask yourself: What beliefs do I have that contribute to these outcomes? For instance, you may believe that "You can only earn money after a lot of struggle" ... or that "People will ultimately let you down."

Make a list of your beliefs.

2. Stop placing the blame on others or on external circumstances. If you've identified any patterns you don't like, the solution is not found in blaming your parents, your employer or your spouse. And, guess what? It won't help to blame yourself either! You'll just feel worse. Simply acknowledge the fact that you are perpetuating the pattern because of your thinking and your behavior.

3. Visualize the new pattern you wish to develop. Your mind is now filled with pictures that support your existing circumstances! To break free from this, you must substitute images of what you choose to become.

So, if you want to be more confident, imagine yourself acting with more assurance. For instance, you might think of yourself delivering an effective presentation in front of a large group in your company.

4. Watch your words. Be very careful about what you say, both to yourself ("self talk") and to others. Words and phrases that put you down or describe your limitations will keep you from establishing a new pattern.

5. Distance yourself from those who exhibit your "old" pattern. If you want to break a dependency on drugs or alcohol, you can't continue to hang around people who abuse these substances, right? Similarly, if you want to break a chain of negative thinking, don't keep company with negative thinkers.

6. Take action that supports the new pattern. If you have been putting off regular exercise for years, make the commitment to take a walk every day for the next 30 days. In just a few days, you'll start developing a new pattern of exercising. Perhaps you'll choose to read a book for an hour or two in the evenings instead of watching TV. Get a book today and start reading tonight. The time to start your new pattern is now. Action creates momentum.

Pay attention to recurring situations in your life. They aren't happening by "accident;" rather, they are a reflection of what's going on inside of you. When you elevate your thinking about what's possible -- and feel good about yourself -- you'll begin to produce miracles!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Be Disciplined in Small Things!

By Peter Comrie

Your future life is governed by a series of choices which you make. Little choices. Hourly, daily, weekly choices.

Most people always choose the “candy now” option. This route leads to failure, I promise you that. Every little choice they make is an “instant gratification” choice - to watch another hour of TV, to sleep late again, to go down the pub again, to have some entertainment, to lie in at the weekend, to buy some more goodies, to book a holiday they can't afford, and so on.

Life, you know, is incredibly short. Those of you over forty will know this already; those between 30 and 40 will be glimpsing the truth of this, and those under 30 probably still think they are immortal. I certainly did!

But, you know, the rewards of life come to the doers, not the talkers. This is so true. You receive riches from life in direct proportion to the amount of effort you put in. True again.

There is no “miracle” short cut to wealth - basically, it's about getting off one's backside and actually fighting, daring and winning against the system.

That's really it.

It's a fight now, just as it was a hundred years ago, or a thousand years ago, for that matter. The rules have changed, but the game remains the same.

You need a better life and more money? Here's an important key to wealth:
Life doesn't respond to needs, wishes or desires. It laughs straight back in your face. Only your disciplined effort right now will plant the seeds of future crop which will meet your needs.

To complain that your needs should be filled right now is effectively to say: “I have needs. Someone else should work and slave so that my needs might be provided for.”

What would the soil say to your statement “I need some corn”? Why, the answer would be “Bring me your seed and your sweat!” The soil would not care a finger snap for your needs. Who cares about your needs? Nobody. Furthermore the seed alone is not enough, is it? You must also plant, tend, water and hoe it.

These activities can be summed-up by the phrase “disciplined effort.” Effort means the sweat of your brow; discipline means meticulously and regularly applied. A little each day. Gradually. This is how the rewards build up over the years. Not in a rush. You don't hoe, weed and water all in one day and expect a bumper crop the next. No, it doesn't work like this. You hoe a little one day, weed the next, water when it's dry, then go right back to hoeing.

Sounds like hard work? Welcome to the real world, it's what makes us great.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are YOU Your Own Leader?

Perhaps you are wondering: what does it mean being my own leader? Well, among the aspects of being your own leader are that you are your own authority, you think independently, you live your life on your own terms, and you are authentic. And this regardless of whether it is popular or not, regardless of whether it is cool or not, regardless of whether it is trendy or not, regardless of whether it is common or not, regardless of whether your friends, family and peers think in the same way or not.

If you are your own leader you will find the inner freedom to be who you really are, and you will begin to know what your power is.

Sometimes we forget that on this planet we are more than 6 billion people, and that there has never been, there is not and there never will be another you. You are totally unique in your qualities, characteristics, likes and wants. You have a magnificent mind, a mind that would enable you to be, have and do anything you truly want in your heart of hearts.

But some people are so afraid of what other people think that they do not use their magnificent mind, they do not use their power. They are afraid to be unpopular, to be alone, not to be liked, not to be accepted for who they are, and they compromise their identity, their own unique magnificence, in order to be someone they are not.

And so they do things they later regret, they say things they later regret, they behave in ways that are not true to themselves; and later in life they realize that actually they have betrayed themselves in doing that. And the reason why they do this is simply because they do not like themselves enough to refuse to compromise on who they really are.

So, do you like yourself? And I am not speaking about superficial vanity, but about love. Do you cherish the most important person in your life; yourself? Do you cherish yourself enough to be who you really are, to stand up for who you really are, to treat yourself with kindness, to brush yourself off every time you fall, to keep going even when it is tough and it seems that you are alone?

If you are your own leader you decide what you believe in, you decide what is right for you, what feels right for you, you decide your values, your code of conduct, your ethics, and your morals; you decide what you think about things; you think with your head and think critically about all that is offered.

You do not believe blindly everything you hear or see, but you carefully evaluate them, you choose what you believe in; you choose your thoughts, you choose what you say, you choose your life. You decide what you are going to do in your life, what you are going to create in your life. And your values, your choices, and your thinking will be the foundations of your life.

And there is nothing that you "should" do, have or be; you choose everything. You are your own authority. And this means taking the risk of being alone, of not being liked, of not being popular, of being rejected, but with the enormous treasure of being true to yourself.

And the funny thing is that when you are true to yourself, and it seems that you are unpopular, the truth is that people will actually like you more, because you are authentic, because you are doing something that they wish they could do themselves, and you are also showing them courage and the possibility that they could be able to be themselves as well.

Sometimes it might seem easier to follow rather than to lead yourself, less effort, but this is just at the beginning, and once you learn to be your own leader, everything is effortless. There is a quote that sums it up wonderfully:

"If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning." --Carl Rogers

So, what are you going to choose?

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Give Up The Story!

Shared by Karen Wright

There is a story you've heard many times... so many that you've memorized it by heart. Yet, it's not always a story you like and it's even sometimes a story you hate. It's also a story you feel compelled to tell everyone you know - over and over and over again.

What is this story? It's YOUR story. You know, the one that fills in all the background on why you and your life are the way you and you life are. The story of your difficult childhood or your cheating spouse. The tale of your failed business or addiction to carbs. It's the story you wrap around you like a tattered wool coat hoping that it will protect you from the chilly inquisitions of critical eyes. The excuses you hide beneath for not living up to your potential.

As wretched as your story may seem, you reluctantly embrace its jagged edges. For it has become so much a part of you that you can't imagine who you'd be without it. And, if truth be told - your story has POWER! It can garner sympathetic solace and soften harsh judgments. And if it's a really good story, one that tugs at their hearts, can even remove all expectation of recovery.

It's a good bet that, over time, you've perhaps embellished or exaggerated your story to enhance its impact. After all, those who've heard it all before have become a bit bored - you needed more drama to keep their attention. But, the one who is most affected by the telling of your story is you. Each time you tell it, you make it more real. You add weight to its blow to your self-esteem.

Eventually, after the ears go deaf and the sympathetic smiles turn to rolling eyes, you realize that your story is neither unique nor particularly interesting. It's just a story - one of millions that all sound pretty much the same. We all have our reasons and excuses and justifications for not being or having or doing what we want. The story is yesterday's news and has undoubtedly been told more eloquently by someone more renowned.

So, now what? What story do we tell ourselves if this one's outlived its flimsy purpose? How about a story of promise and commitment? One of passion and potential. How about a story of the future, not the past? That's a tale waiting to be told - longing to be dreamed and brought to life. It's a story we can really do something with. One we can get excited about. And yes, it's a story that will create expectations - ours and theirs. Telling a future tale takes courage and imagination. But, we were born with warehouses full of the stuff!

What will your story be? What exciting plot will you weave in? What fascinating characters will be in your tale? On what distant short is the sunset that you will ride off into? This is so much more exhilarating than resurrecting a dead past! You have life-giving breath. Breathe it into your dreams. Dreams are not just flights of fancy. They are not foolish kid-stuff. Dreams are the soul's inspiration and the future's best-seller.

This is why you are here - to bring your true story to life and let the world rise in a standing ovation. Imagine taking that bow! The theatre is filling and we're waiting with anticipation for the curtain to rise. We're here for you and we can't wait to shower you with adoration. You're a star!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to stay STUCK!

…or in other words;

"How to remain miserable, unfulfilled, and unhappy for the rest of your life."

Here are the steps -

1. Blame everyone else. This includes, your spouse, your children, your past, your parents, your education, and even your environment and living situation.

2. If that doesn't work too well for you - then you can start to blame yourself. i.e. I am too stupid, too old, too sick, too poor, too slow and so on.

3. Never ask for any help - in other words, try to do everything by yourself.

This includes, Raising the kids, cleaning the house, planning the holiday, earning most of the income and so on.

4. Make sure you never get enough rest, so that you are tired all the time, and have no energy to do anything else.

5. Make sure you have no plans to make anything of your life - just go from day to day, coping as best as you can.

6. Make sure you can come up with really good excuses as to why you cannot change anything. Some examples here may be;

I can't afford to educate myself further,
I can't afford to move house,
I never get anything done,
My spouse would never agree,
My parents would never agree,
I'm just too lazy,
I'm too sick,
I am too old and so on- ;

7. Make sure you are as stressed as you can be, never practice any relaxation skills, self hypnosis, meditation or similar stress relieving activities - these may include, getting some exercise, following a yoga or meditation class, purchasing some really good relaxation tapes/CD's.

8. Live from day to day, totally unfocused on any great aims or goals.

9. Never read any self help books, or inspirational guidance, from anyone.

10. Watch the news as much as you can, this includes, on the Television, the radio, and the newspapers. Fill your head with doom and gloom and all the troubles of the world as much as you can.

11. If you should so much as have a good idea for something, here are two things you should do.

A) Put down the idea and yourself.

i.e. It would never work,
I could never do that,
I don't have the skills,
I don't have the knowledge,

B) Never ever at any cost, act on these ideas.

This means, avoiding carrying out any action of any kind. Find plenty of excuses why this should be the case.

i.e. I don't have the time,
I don't have the money,
I am not really that interested,
I don't know enough about it,
I simply couldn't do that.

12. If you do so happen to agree to yourself or someone else that you are going to act on something, whatever you do make sure that you don't do too much of it.

This means only acting on it for a few days or a few weeks. Make sure you don't have enough motivation or enthusiasm to pursue these actions, and that you give up in the same way you always do.

13. Ensure that you never have any high hopes or outrageous dreams of happiness, prosperity, satisfaction, achievement, love and contentment. If they should arise at any time, whatever you do, you MUST quash them as soon as possible.

Don't at any cost - let your mind or imagination follow the natural flow that these dreams and hopes might take you.

14. At all costs remind yourself that you don't deserve a better life. If anyone did, it certainly wouldn't be you!

15. Develop a habit of never following through on anything - that way you will never be disappointed by failing at anything.

16. Always listen to, and carry out to the letter your doctor or physicians advice. After all they know more about you than you do! Make it a habit never to listen to your own instincts or inner gut feelings.

If the doctor says you need medication for this or that - never challenge them. After all, it's not your fault your miserable depressed or anxious is it? It's life, and the circumstances and background or whatever that makes things the way they are does it not?

17. Make sure you never get any professional guidance or help from a therapist, life coach, counselor or similar.

18. Make sure you stay as miserable and unhappy as you can by never finding time to do anything which you remotely enjoy. This includes watching a good movie, going for a walk in the park, going out for a nice meal, reading a good book, taking up a new and interesting hobby, or simply finding time to be quietly alone.

19. Make sure you are firmly convinced that it would be way too difficult to change anything about yourself. If you're not completely convinced, then practice on a daily basis, telling yourself that you can't change, this is just the way you are, and always have been.

20 That should do it! You are now well on the way to being able to stay stuck - or in other words;

"How to remain miserable, unfulfilled, and unhappy for the rest of your life."

Well done! But don't congratulate yourself too much, after all you may not be able to keep it up ;)

Submitted by James Middleton. James is author of way too few books to list here, including the soon to be #1 best-selling book "Miracle of Meditation," the best non-selling e-book "Miracles of Words - Inspirational Quotes," and the not even sold, totally unpublished, "Zen and the art of Skydiving." His latest books are only in the pipeline - and totally unwritten. He's being called "The Hypnotherapist and Meditator from Nowhere."

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Who is Really in Control of Your Mind?

Few people are aware of the thoughts that pass through their minds. Thinking is performed like a habit, in an automatic manner. If the thoughts are positive, then it is all right, but if they are negative, they may cause trouble.

The mind is like small child, who accepts and takes for granted whatever it sees or hears, without judgment and without considering the consequences. If you let your mind behave as it likes and give it complete freedom, you lose your freedom.

We are constantly flooded with thoughts, ideas and information coming through the five senses, other people, the newspapers and TV. These thoughts, ideas and information penetrate the mind whether we are aware of this process or not.

This outside flow influences our behavior and reactions. It influences the way we think, our preferences, likes and dislikes. This means that we let outside powers shape our lives. So where is freedom?

Most people think and believe that their thoughts originate from them, but have they ever stopped and considered whether their thoughts, desires, likes and dislikes are really theirs? Maybe they are outside influences that they have unconsciously accepted?

If there is no filter to process the thoughts that enter the mind, there is no freedom. Then all actions are like the actions of a puppet on a string, though no one will admit it.

You may object and say that the thoughts that pass through your mind are yours, but are they? Have you deliberately and attentively created every thought that entered your mind?

Why let outside influences control your mind and life? Why be a slave to other people's thoughts? Do you want to make your mind free or do you prefer to enslave it to other people's opinions and thoughts? If you leave your mind open to every thought that passes by, you put our life in other people's hands, and without realizing it you accept their thoughts and act in accordance with them.

Each person is more susceptible to certain kind of thoughts than others. Certain thoughts and ideas we ignore, and others spur us to immediate action. Thoughts concerning subjects we love have more power on us than other thoughts, but even thoughts and ideas that we don’t care about, if we are frequently exposed to them, eventually sink into the subconscious mind and influence us.

Everyone has desires, ambitions and dreams that he or she may foster from childhood. They may be the thoughts of parents, teachers and friends, and which have lodged into our minds, and are carried around throughout our lives. Are they necessary? Do we need all this excessive baggage?

In order to reduce the power of outside influences and thoughts on your life, you need to be aware of the thoughts and desires that enter your mind, and ask yourself whether you really like them, and are willing to accept them into your life. Analyze your motives and actions, and you will be surprised to find out that many of them were triggered by outside influences.

You do not have to accept each and every thought, idea or information. Think and find out whether you entertain certain thoughts because you decided to do so, or because they just popped into your head due to outside influences.

Learn not to accept every thought that you encounter. Find first whether it is for your own good to follow it. It may not be so easy at the start, because the mind will revolt against this control. If you want to be the master of your mind and life, you should not let other people’s thoughts, desires and motives rule your life, unless you consciously choose so.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shame On You! - Your Ancestors Would Be Shocked.

Today's post is a reprise of a piece I wrote a few years ago after I returned from a series of lectures and seminars to entrepreneurs that focused on one of my very favorite topics - Personal Responsibility. The other day I was asked by a friend, who is a pretty famous public speaker, if I would give her permission to add this piece to her handout material on an upcoming lecture tour. Of course I said "yes".

During my speaking tour I challenged my audiences in ways that most speakers would happily avoid. In the dialogues we really mixed it up by focusing on the "modern" behaviors versus those of the intrepid pioneers who forged this continent with dreams of a better life. The media reports of the impact of my talks generated an entire plethora of responses, many from folks who were not even at the events. It was pretty interesting.

I wrote the piece as a bit of relief for myself from the myriad on individuals who felt it their right to share their "victimhood" as an excuse for not taking "personal responsibility" for their life experience. I expect you'll have some feedback from:

Shame On You! - Your Ancestors Would Be Shocked.

For many of us Europeans, North America, (United States and Canada) held the promise of many early generations of immigrants who uprooted their families, gathered their meager packages, and set out on unsteady crafts to follow a dream of freedom and a better life.

These intrepid souls entered this land primarily through the ports of New York and Montreal. They arrived to no fanfare, no homes, no jobs, little to no money, no welfare system, no food-banks, no social security, no health care system, no organized school system, few prospects, fewer friends, but with one magnificent promise, they were free.

Today, in the 21st Century, if these folks of long ago were to see what we have become, they would drown in their tears.

For all of the technical advances that positively affect our lives, we are turning into a fearful, racist, bigoted, whining, whinnying, and sad example of humanity. Praying and wishing to discover that one safe, sure thing that will pay us hundreds of thousands of dollars per year while we sit around on our rotund posteriors.

This entitled generation of North Americans, for the most part, will decry and sully the efforts of those few who hold the ideals of the founding residents of this amazing land. They will criticize, condemn, judge, and try to shame anyone who breaks free of the mass mentality to build their individual dream, carve their own path, and create their own future.

We no longer celebrate our heroes, welcome the downtrodden, and acknowledge the bravery of those who seek better lives. Instead, we waste this magnificent thing called our “self” by medicating it with television, manufactured news, self-perpetuating media, drugs, instant gratification, and the most addictive, our self-righteousness.

While sucking up our next sugar-laden coke, and chomping down the next burger that’s on sale, we sit in judgment of the few spirited entrepreneurs who commit their energies to offering the one thing that everybody needs to progress, hope. These great folks who study their business, learn the craft, drop the idiot box, and venture into the “lions den” of collective mediocrity to offer their adventure, should be hailed as today’s heroes.

The founding generations of North Americans understood clearly what “risk” was, they counted on it, for it kept them sharp and alert. They knew that to grow great crops not only did they have to plant at the right time in prepared soil; they had to find it first. They journeyed, often for months, to find a place to settle. First thing then they had to do was find the materials to build a shelter, find food, and a way to cook and preserve it. Then they had to fashion many of the instruments they would need to prepare the land for planting, wait for the exact right time, and then lay in the precious seeds they carried with them. While waiting for harvest they had to contend with intruders, all manner of bugs, weeds and weather.

Finally after all the traveling, preparation, work and care, they harvested the riches of their efforts. Celebration time, commonly known as “Thanksgiving”.

These days however, a whole new story emerges. After being educated to be a good employee, our current citizen celebrates with a six-pack and a pizza delivered by a six dollar an hour immigrant. They watch the tube to get “informed” by one of five companies that own the entire media world, and then they switch channels to “relax” by watching some violence filled programming that numbs them into the thinking that the “law” always wins. They complain bitterly about sex on T.V. all the while their kids see the violence hourly and it get perpetuated and glorified in their video games.

They bitch, moan, and complain about everything from high taxes to the price of gas, from the length of their commute, to their football teams latest defeat. This group of over three hundred and thirty million souls, only three percent of whom own a current and valid library card, bemoans the terrible fact that only 5% of them will be wealthy enough to retire at 65. They sit in front of their computers wishing and praying for a get-rich quick scheme to jump off the screen to them, and then they judge negatively anyone who is making it happen for themselves by offering a legitimate and workable financial solution to today's economic woes, it's called "work". All the while criticizing folks who steadily work their businesses on realistic, ethical and integral terms.

Oh sure, there are con artists among them, always have been, always will be, we know that. Get over it. Yes, we have all heard the stories, the tales, the scams, the letdowns, the exaggerations, and often the outright lies. And that’s just from our governments.

Wake-up North Americans, now.

Stop pretending that there is such a thing as job security. It doesn’t exist. Wake-up to the fact that it is small business owners and free-enterprisers who hold the power of the economy. Get off your assets and switch off the damn T.V. and read something you can learn from, and set a proper example for your kids and grandkids.

Quit your whining about your life, you’re only attracting the same stuff over and over again. Get your butt out there and find or develop a business that you love and get behind it full steam. Stop listening to all media, it’s all rubbish anyway.

Stop giving your power away to anyone who has a loud opinion. Opinions are a lot like bums, and both should be used for the same purpose. If you can’t control your self-righteousness, stay indoors and away from people who are working to better their lives. If you haven’t read anything on personal growth and self-improvement in the past month do not speak to anyone about your views of life.

If you are poorer than you would like to be, remember this, you got to where you are by your highest and best thinking. Should you learn nothing new, where do you suppose that thinking is going to keep you? Yes, you know exactly where you are.

You have not earned the rights your forefathers worked so incredibly hard for. Your ancestors would judge the life you are experiencing right now, regardless of your present conditions, as “luxurious”. They would take you behind the woodshed and paddle your butt severely for the state you have allowed your continent and yourself to get in. They would be shocked to their core to see the opportunities you have had, and have frittered away, by your laziness, and your attitude, and your self-righteous judgments.

And lastly on this subject, it is time for taking personal responsibility for your entire life experience. You are not owed anything. Blaming your father, your mother, your school, your first boy/girlfriend, your college, the system, your boss, the economy, the war, terrorism, 9-11, Mexican immigration, the IRS, the crowd of trough suckers in Washington, Enron, Katrina, Network Marketers, Amway, the church, or anything else that it is popular to blame, will not negate you from your own responsibility. You are not now, and never have been, a victim.

Fred Kofman in his piece titled “The Victim Virus” says, “Victims try to maintain their self-esteem by proving their innocence. Their explanations focus on factors outside their control. When something goes wrong, they delude themselves into thinking that it’s always either fate or somebody else’s fault. These explanations work as tranquilizers, helping the victim not to feel bad”. He also said, “Unlike victims. Players’ focus their attention on those factors that they can influence. Players’ self esteem is based on doing the best possible instead of appearing innocent. Players’ do not feel almighty. They understand there are external factors outside their control, but they take them as challenges, inviting their response”.

According to Don Juan, the Mexican shaman in Carlos Castaneda’s novel, “the difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that for the ordinary man everything is either a blessing or a curse. For the warrior, everything is a challenge. And challenges are neither good or bad, just challenges”.

Going from victim (ordinary man) to player (warrior) entails a change of consciousness that requires we leave behind the attachment to “being right” and stop requesting that others take charge of our problems

Get yourself out of the way of those who are working to live the pioneer spirit, the warriors; they are making it a continent worth living on. The job of the settlers, the ordinary man, is just that, settle.

For those of you who are still here, there is great hope in this land, but it has to be worked for. Do not be put down or discouraged by the nay-sayers, the critical, or the unqualified. Stay your course, read the books, take the courses, dream the dreams, make the plans, vision the future, and most of all, believe that you are just one great person, because you are.

The idiots and the lazy will attempt to pull you down, oh they’ll say, “it’s for you own protection” and they will offer up all manner of “I’ve heard” or “they say” stories to validate their position. But all you have to remember is this, if they are not entirely happy and successful themselves, they have absolutely no authority to speak to you. Completely ignore them

This is a time for pioneers to stake their claim, not in land that needs tilling and planting, but in minds that need tilling and planting, with new truths about how the world really works. This is the time for the entrepreneur, the businessperson, the reader, the thinker, and the one who believes in themselves. Trust me, it’s a small but magnificent group.

So people, think on this: Would your ancestors be proud of you and what you have made of your world? Will future generations of your family look back fondly on you and say, “I want to be just like them”.

Do not let them say, Grandpa or Grandma Who?

“The New Colossus” is a magnificent poem that American poet Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) wrote in 1883 for the Statue of Liberty. It should be on posted on the door of every entrepreneurial company in North America, and I can’t think of any better way to conclude this note.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
with conquering limbs astride from land to land;
here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Take care all you amazing pioneering and entrepreneurial souls.


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Monday, May 9, 2011

Decision and Action -The Paradox!

When all is said and done, more is said than done. (Lou Holtz)

Three frogs were sitting on a log. One decided to jump into the pond. How many were left? Did you answer two? Think again. You see, I didn't say one jumped in; I just said one DECIDED to jump in. It's not a technical point that I'm debating, but a sad fact of life. For there's a big difference between deciding to do something and actually doing it.

How many New Year resolutions did you decide to make that never came to pass? How many items on your ToDo list have just been lingering there, but never brought to life? A decision without action is no more powerful than indecision or no decision. Decisions are powerless unless we follow through. And when we follow through with action, we will be greeted with success. In fact, the etymological meaning of "succeed" is "that which follows," for success is what follows action.

Decisions without action are preparations for living without living. We need to act to experience life. We either make things happen or let things happen to us. Here's how Edward Rickenbacker (1842 ~ 1914) expressed why follow through is important, "There's a six-word formula for success: Think things through, then follow through."

Some people live as though their life credo is "Ready, Aim. Aim. Aim ." But once a decision is made, it is time for action. For as Theodore Roosevelt (1858 ~ 1919) said, "In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." After all, if we do the wrong thing, at least we can learn something from our mistake. But inaction teaches us nothing, other than regret.

Often, the cause of inaction is the fear of failure. But isn't it better to try to do something and fail than to try to do nothing and succeed? Consider for a moment the life of a lobster. When it grows to be about a pound, it faces a crisis. For it has grown too big for its shell. To continue living, it'll have to shed its shell and grow a new one. But this takes about two days. So, until then, it remains vulnerable to attack and being eaten. Yet, there is no choice. To continue living, it must risk life itself. We are no different, for life is synonymous with growth. To develop, we need to shed our limitations and grow new powers. To refuse to act doesn't protect us, but suffocates us.

Our decisions are the clay we use to make bricks. And our actions are the bricks we use to create ourselves. We also choose the material to work with. Whether it's shoddy or high quality is up to us. Consider this story (author unknown) that I'd like to share with you:

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked him if he would build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."

The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently. But we cannot go back."

Maya Angelou wrote, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." We, too, are birds that have a song. Our song can be melodious, sweet, and jubilant or screechy, savage, and vapid. It all depends on our actions, for they are the notes of our song. Our song should be rapturous not only for our own good, but for the good of the world, for the world needs us. Here's how Martha Graham (1894 ~ 1991) elegantly makes this point:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is on a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others." And I'd like to add that we should behave as if our actions make a difference because they do.

One of the complaints we usually make is that we do not have enough time to do everything we would like to. Of course, it's true that time is limited. But here is an interesting paradox: the more we do, the more we can do, and the busier we become, the more free time we create. If you experiment with this premise, you'll quickly discover how true it is.

The American Founder of Atari Computer, Nolan Bushnell, summarizes today's topic this way, "The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true leader is a doer, not a dreamer”.

So, don't sit up and take notice, but get up and take action, for the secret of getting ahead is getting started.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Make the Difference: The Koh Panyee Football Club

This is the true story of a football team that lived on a little island in the south of Thailand called "Koh Panyee". Koh Panyee is a floating village in the middle of the sea that does not have an inch of soil. The kids that lived there loved to watch football on TV, and really wanted to play for themselves.

Watch this short film on how they used innovative thinking, hard work, and determination to make their dream come true. And then this weekend, give some thought to what difference you can make, and what dreams could come true for you.

Have a wonder-full weekend.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's All About Personal Responsibility!

Responsibility is not a burden, it's a blessing

Today's subject is responsibility. Not social responsibility, which is a separate issue, but personal responsibility. When we take responsibility, we admit we are the ones responsible for the choices we make. We, not other people or events, are responsible for the way we think and feel. It is our life, and we are in charge of it. We are free to enjoy it or disdain it. No, we are not responsible for all that happens to us, but we are responsible for how we think, feel, and act when they happen.

Why did Spirit make us so fleet-footed? Some would argue it is to allow us to dodge, duck, and run from responsibility! Why would anyone want to do that? Well, many people associate responsibility with duty and obligations, which, in turn, are thought of as burdens. But personal responsibility is not a burden, it is a blessing. This becomes clear when we understand that PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IS NOTHING OTHER THAN THE FREEDOM TO CREATE OUR OWN LIVES. Yes, responsibility is equated with freedom and power. Once we awaken to this fact, we become liberated and empowered. Once we become aware of this truth, we shed our victim mentality and gain the power to transform ourselves.

The other day it was pouring rain. Some waved their arms in exasperation and complained that their day off was 'ruined' by the weather. How can a free car wash and watering of the lawn 'ruin' one's day? The complainers are not free. They are in prisons of their own making. They 'can't' enjoy life simply because it's 'too' wet outside. Instead of choosing to be miserable, why not choose to rent a hilarious video, play indoor mini golf, visit the library or bookstore, see a friend, or dress properly, take an umbrella, and enjoy a walk in the rain? Why reject the roles of creativity, flexibility, and resiliency in order to play the role of victim? Why choose to be weak when one can be strong? Why choose to be sullen when one can be thrilled?

Let's get personal and talk about you for a moment. Are you perfectly happy with the way things are at this time, or do you wish things were better? Chances are you are neither perfectly happy nor completely unhappy, for most of us lie somewhere between both extremes. However, if you're not totally satisfied, what are you doing about it? If you continue to do the same things, everything will remain the same. Nothing will change until you do.

If a change in your life is warranted, why not begin by recognizing that your present situation is not the result of your genes, parents, education, job, luck, timing, health, or environment. Rather, it is the choices you have made and the actions you have taken that have brought you where you are today. Change your choices and actions and you will change the results that follow. This understanding is the first step in personal transformation. The second step is the action that follows, for as Dietrich Bonhoffer (1906 ~ 1945) wrote, "Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."

What action should we take? Start by taking a personal inventory. That is, examine your life to learn the extent that you are either already taking responsibility or evading it. This is best done by asking yourself a series of questions and writing the answers for later study. Here's what I mean. Do you ever say to yourself or others any of the following? Life is so unfair. I'm unlucky. No one wants to help me. It's not my fault that I'm the way I am. Life is an endless struggle; there are too many burdens to bear. Terrible things are always happening to me. My parents (spouse, friends, coworkers, boss, health, the weather, or the political situation) make me depressed (angry or frustrated). I feel overwhelmed and helpless. Some people get all the breaks; I'm just unfortunate. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. There's nothing I can do; it's just the way the world is. I can't succeed because of the corrupt government, blood-sucking corporations, greedy employers, and back-stabbing coworkers. I'm unsuccessful because of the prejudice (age discrimination, sexism, jealousy, hatred, stupidity) of others. I would be successful if it weren't for the idiots holding me back. Self-help books, positive thinking, or the advice of others can't help me.

Can you see where I'm going with this? All the above thoughts express the mindset of a self made victim. Instead of taking personal responsibility and taking charge of one's life, that kind of thinking is used to blame others or life for one's own failures. That type of thinking is dead-end thinking, self-defeating thinking. With these thoughts in mind, and tongue in cheek, Ambrose Bierce (1842 ~ 1914) defines responsibility in his "The Devil's Dictionary" as follows: "RESPONSIBILITY, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star."

Yes, it's easy to shift the responsibility and blame others or events. But what good is that? All it does is keep us in a rut. We cannot make any real progress until we admit to ourselves, "Only I can hold myself back. Only I can stand in my own way. Only I can help myself. Only I can take personal responsibility. Only I can transform myself from a victim of circumstances to a reasoning, choice-making, action oriented person. Only I can make the decision to stop acting like a victim and start taking charge of my life."

One of the first 'people' we greet each morning is our reflection in the mirror. Don't we want to be accountable, answerable, and responsible for the life we are creating for it? By accepting that responsibility, we unleash great power and transform ourselves. It may be convenient for a caterpillar to have so many legs, but it remains earthbound. It is far better to make a dramatic change and transform ourselves like a butterfly, so we can take flight and explore a new world.

Let me end by saying, all this emphasis on making the right choices and accepting personal responsibility is for your benefit only. That is, use these ideas to improve yourself, but not to judge others. You can never enter the mind, heart, and body of another, so you are unaware of the reasons for their failures. Not everyone is as ready as you are to change. That's why it is written in the Talmud (Rabbinical writings of the 1 ~ 6 centuries AD), "A man may not be responsible for his actions in an hour of tribulation and pain."

On the other hand, if you are racked with pain, saddled with poverty, or deprived of other blessings most take for granted, use your experience to have compassion for those who are even worst off than you, but do not use your burdens as excuses to remain in a negative frame of mind. You have enough problems already; don't add to them by endlessly complaining, for that only entrenches them deeper into your life. Rather, look for the good, appreciate it, and take responsibility by making the most of what you have.

Happiness is a choice, just like misery is; we all have the responsibility to make the right choices. We owe it to ourselves to do so.

Go make this one amazing day.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Proven Set of Principles to Guide You!

It’s May already and how many of us in January set New Year's resolutions or goals for our lives that have been forgotten or put aside until the next year? Take heart, the following set of principles will help you achieve your resolutions and much more. Read them over carefully. Challenge them, as at first reading you may not fully understand or agree with some of them. Now, select one of these principles and put it into action for a full week. Notice how things in your life improve and move you closer to achieving your desires. At the end of each week focus on a new principle until all seven are a way of life for you.

1. There is no failure, only feedback.
Have you ever done something that didn't work out the way you had planned? How often have you interpreted this as failure and possibly beat yourself up or blamed others? Far too many of us have been trained to judge our results as either success or failure. How would your life change if you viewed failure simply as feedback - an opportunity to learn how not to do something and become flexible in developing new ways to achieve your intended outcome? The next time something does not unfold as planned accept it as feedback, get curious and ask yourself questions such as, "What do I need to learn about myself, others, my work or family environment, so that if a similar situation were to occur in the future, I can get a better result?"

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." —Thomas Alva Edison, scientist and inventor

How different would your workplace be if failure were viewed as feedback? Would you, and others, be more inclined to explore new ways to get your work done more efficiently and effectively, with more fun?

2. You cannot not communicate.
Often we think we communicate only when we speak or write. This is not so. Consider the following situations: You are in a staff meeting sitting off to one side, with your arms folded and an angry look on your face, and not participating in the discussion at all. Or, you have chosen not to respond to telephone and e-mail messages in a timely fashion, if at all. Even no communication sends a message, and it is often not a positive one. Who are you really hurting?

Through your tone of voice, actions, facial expressions, gestures and body language, you are always communicating. Take time to step back and see the impact of your actions on the larger system. Is this really the impression you wish to create or the message you wish to convey?

3. Be flexible
If what you are doing is not creating the results you desire, do something different. Have you ever been stuck in life, doing the same things repeatedly and each time expecting to get a different result? This is the widely known definition of insanity. If you want your life to be different, doing the same things more often, harder, or louder is not the way to change it. You must choose to do something different. If you try one key in a lock and it doesn't fit, would you keep trying the same key repeatedly? Or would you be flexible and try other keys until you find the one that works?

It is the same for your life. Be flexible; explore different behaviors and strategies to unlock what you truly want in life or who you are destined to be. If you are a parent, consider the following: there are no resistant children, only inflexible adults.

4. The meaning of communication is the response it produces.
Your intended communication is not always what is understood by the other person. And what is more important - your intention or what is understood? It does not matter what your intention is, what matters are the results you generate from your words, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. By taking the other person's response as feedback and being flexible, you can change how you communicate until you achieve your desired result.

Consider the following situation: as a man, I notice a female co-worker is wearing a new dress, so I decide to pay her a compliment (my sincere intention). I say to her, "My, you look terrific in that dress." However, her reaction isn't what I expected. She seems annoyed and leaves the room. I do not know what is going on in her mind, but obviously she heard my message very differently from what I had intended. Perhaps from her experiences and beliefs, she interpreted what I said as "hitting on her" or being suggestive. The next time I see her, I can continue with the same behavior, or simply ignore her and harbor all manner of bad thoughts about her. Or I can recognize that my remark did not produce the result I had intended and find different ways to communicate with her so that we can have a productive working relationship.

5. Every behavior has a positive intention.
No matter how strange, hurtful or inappropriate a person's behavior may seem to you, for the person engaging in that behavior, it makes sense from their perspective - their beliefs and values - and is predicated upon satisfying a positive intention for them.

The key is to appreciate that there is a positive intention behind the other person's behavior - for them, maybe not for you. This does not mean that you must view the other person's behavior as positive or acceptable. On the contrary, you may find it quite distasteful. You need to look behind the behavior to discover the positive intention or, if it's not apparent, look for an intention that makes sense in their reality. This intention may be for themselves, for you or for someone else. Once you have an understanding of their intention, you can explore alternative ways to help the person achieve it.

As an example, let's say you are having a discussion with someone and he suddenly raises his voice, knocks things off the table and runs from the room. From your perspective, this certainly cannot be viewed as positive behavior. What could possibly be the positive intention behind this kind of behavior? Now look at it from the other person's perspective. Given his background - his experiences, beliefs and values - perhaps he felt unsafe or overwhelmed in the conversation with you. Given the resources he had available at that moment, this may have been the only option he felt he had in order to create some space or to flee to a place of greater safety.

What can you do to avoid a similar result next time? You can accept what happened as feedback, respect his perspective, explore the possible positive intentions behind his behavior and look at other ways to achieve your outcome while satisfying his positive intention. In other words, be flexible.

It is useful to take stock of your own behaviors on a regular basis. Notice the results you are achieving, identify the positive intention behind these behaviors and ask, "Is there a better way to achieve my positive intention that minimizes the negative side-effects?"

6. Everyone does the best they can with the resources available to them.
People already have the resources they need to succeed. However, their perspective of the world (beliefs, values and limiting constraints) or temporary state of mind (overwhelmed, sad or angry) may prevent them from seeing what is really possible or prevent them from fully accessing their capabilities and resources. In these situations, a person may make decisions or take actions that, from another viewpoint, are much less than they are capable of and that may even be experienced as hurtful.

With hindsight, that person could have done many things differently, but it was deemed the best choice at the time. We do not always make the "right" decision or take the "right" action; simply, decisions and actions are taken based on what resources we have available to us at the time.

7. You are in charge of your mind and therefore your results.
It was you who chose the beliefs, values and decisions that determine your perspective of the world and how you experience different events. It is also you who can change these to gain a different perspective and thus reap the benefits of results that are potentially very different, bringing significant changes to your life.

In conclusion: you can simply read the above principles or you can begin to put them into action and make them a way of life. In doing so, you have the opportunity to change your reality, your results and your life!

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Notes on Dealing with Adversity!

A life without difficulties is a classroom without lessons

Life is difficult, thank God. The problems we overcome allow us to experience the richness of life and its accompanying joy. Adversity adds spice to life and makes a wonderful teacher. Don’t the hardships we undergo create the ability to bear them? Is it possible to live through a disaster without growing stronger? I’ll let you answer these questions for yourself.

Before emerging from its chrysalis (cocoon), the young Monarch butterfly has a fat body and folded, limp wings. It is hardly an image of strength and beauty. It cannot free itself from the chrysalis without a long struggle. As it pushes, strains, and convulses, liquid from its body is forced into the veins of its wings. Bit by bit the wings extend and grow stronger. Bit by bit an increasing amount of pressure is placed against the walls of the chrysalis. At last, a slim Monarch with robust wings breaks free.

We are Monarchs. Our chrysalis is our comfort zone. Do you expect to break free without a struggle? Do you expect to fly before extending and strengthening your wings? Can you see how the obstacles we face are not our enemies but our friends?

Our physical eyes weaken as we grow older, but our spiritual eyes should improve with age. What was seen as a devastating disaster in our youth, later appears as a less threatening but worrisome obstacle. As we grow in experience and wisdom, worrisome obstacles become less fearful and are reduced to difficult challenges. Later, difficult challenges are viewed as valuable lessons. And valuable lessons become wonderful opportunities. At last, we reach the point where every ‘misfortune’ is seen as a blessing in disguise. Each obstacle that comes our way is like a delicious fruit with a bitter skin. We don’t complain that we have to peel it before we can enjoy it.

It is our attitude that determines whether we benefit from misfortune. The same furnace that melts gold also hardens clay. With each affliction, those who have a hardened attitude grow harder, more callous, and cynical. Yet, those who willingly allow themselves to be forged, hammered, and shaped by adversity, endlessly grow into a better person, endlessly bloom into a flower to bright to behold.

The greatest lesson suffering has to teach us is how others feel when tragedy hits. Our experience makes us more compassionate. Some learn at an early age. For example, the young girl who climbed the hill with a baby on her back. When someone said to her, "The baby is too heavy for you to carry," she replied, "It’s okay; he’s my brother."

More considerations on adversity

a) "Here is a rule to remember in the future, when something tempts you to feel bitter: not, ‘This is a misfortune,’ but ‘to bear this worthily is good fortune.’" (Marcus Aurelius, AD 121 ~ 180)

b) Adversity builds character. The challenges we face teach us resourcefulness, self-reliance, courage, patience, perseverance, and self-discipline

c) Struggles makes us heroic, for heroes and heroines are made by scaling mountains, not molehills.

d) Cold winters, heavy downpours, and scorching heat are unavoidable. So is adversity. So, why fight it? Accepting its inevitability and resigning yourself to it — before it strikes — is the first step in overcoming it.

e) Appreciate how much suffering as been averted by comparing yourself to those who are far worse off. If you fill your moments with thanks, you’ll have no time for moaning, whining and complaining.

f) Don’t try to avoid pain by wrongful means, as inappropriate conduct can lead to what you seek to avoid. For example, trying to escape poverty by stealing could lead to a jail sentence, making things worse by separating you from your family.

g) Live with hope, for to live without it is to live with despair. Resurrect yourself from the tumultuous storm as a glowing rainbow. Become a ray of hope and a beacon of light for others to follow.

h) Use the lowest point of your struggle as a fulcrum to rise above it. When you feel nothing could possibly be worse, you have nothing more to fear, so do whatever you can, for you have nothing to lose. Many alcoholics and drug addicts did not get motivated to change until they sank to the bottom. So, finding oneself in the gutter can be a blessing in disguise, for it may prove to be the way out.

i) Use the PPPP program. First, don’t PANIC, for all it does is immobilize you. To escape the clutches of fear, PLAN. That is, ask yourself what steps can be taken to improve the situation. Next, break down those steps into smaller tasks that are easier to carry out. Set a completion date for each task. Finally, work your plan by carrying out the action steps. As you do so, you will start making PROGESS. Keep building on your progress until you reach the level of PROSPERITY you desire.

j) It is often desirable to change, yet we may avoid doing so unless absolutely necessary. Soften the blow when calamity strikes by recognizing it as a call for change. It is not a suggestion, but an order. It forces you to change. Welcome its loud voice, for whom among us will not be strengthened by wrestling with adversity?

k) Tune out your imagination, which blows everything out of proportion, and focus on the real world. Remember, the misfortunes hardest to bear are those that never happen. And our fear of harm always exceeds the harm we fear.

l) Reduce the sting of hardship by studying the words of Henry Ward Beecher (1813 ~ 1887), "Affliction comes to us all not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but wise; not to make us despondent but by its darkness to refresh us, as the night refreshes the day; not to impoverish, but to enrich us, as the plough enriches the field; to multiply our joy, as the seed, by planting, is multiplied a thousandfold."

m) Adversity usually leads to loss of one kind or another. The greatness of our loss is determined not by what we have lost, but by our prevailing attitude, for they who despair after losing little have lost much. But those who remain courageous after losing much, lose little. After a disaster, it is not the amount of our remaining belongings that counts, but the amount of our remaining strength, courage, and determination.

n) Remember the words of Bias, a sixth-century BC Greek sage who was considered one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece: "The greatest misfortune of all is not to be able to bear misfortune."

I’ll end with a poem for you to ponder. Although Australian Adam Lindsay Gordon died 141 years ago (d. 1870), his words remain as a monument:

"Life is mostly froth and bubble;
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own."

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