Monthly Archives: July 2011

the tipping point … predecessor for change

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela
 Are you living the life you really want to live?   What creates that urge to become fully real and alive?

What does it take to go beyond those excuses and reasons for not achieving your goals to realize your dreams?

What are you passionate about?

What do you love to learn?

Take a moment and write the things you love to learn.

What do you love to do?

Take a moment and write down the things you love to do.

How do you want serve others?

Take a few seconds and write down, how you can serve others.

Ask yourself “Why” these things are important to you.   Understanding what makes you come alive will allow you to start moving towards a life that you want to really be a part of.

So, what is your “Why”?

Now what is stopping you from living your “why”?

If you wrote down a list of things that are stopping you from achieving your goal then look at that list.  What on that list is really stopping you?   Is it really that list of things?   That list is your “why not” list.     It is the list of reasons you aren’t reaching your goals, but that isn’t all of it.

Are you clear on what your purpose is?    What is the reason you wake up in the morning and get out of bed?   It is to do something isn’t it?   Then what is it that make you feel totally alive, that is your tipping point.  That is your tipping into taking action and living the life you were meant to live.

Why not take that step today.  Take the action you need to take to start living a life in which you are feeling totally alive.

Now, say out loud, “I AM ALIVE“, say it again I AM ALIVE“.  Start living today.

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”   Joseph Campbell

“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

face the enemy within

“Keep my word positive. Words become my behaviors. Keep my behaviors positive. Behaviors become my habits. Keep my habits positive. Habits become my values. Keep my values positive. Values become my destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Good habits are hard to keep, bad habits are hard to lose.    Why is that?  Why is it so difficult to do what you don’t want to do and so hard to do what you do want to do?

Our habits stop us from being the person we could be.     It is easy to be tempted by “habit” to do something we know isn’t in our own best interest.   Take smokers for example.  Many of them would love to quit but they don’t feel they can.   There are people who would dearly love to quit drinking but don’t.

At some point it is as if our emotions are hijacking our lives.    Where do you feel like you’d love to make a change but your emotions say, “don’t do it”.   It is almost like saying if you help yourself you won’t be safe.   The amygdala (that small part of the brain that controls how we react) loves crying out, “Don’t change … don’t change”, because it is afraid of what might happen.   The “what if” is the fear is holding back the change that could be made when dealing with a destructive habit.   “What if I fail, then what do I do?” , well if you hear that often enough how inclined would you be to making the changes your want to make?  Most people aren’t very likely to make a change if they think it won’t stick or happen.

There are a lot of people working in a toxic environment and by toxic I mean environments that are disempowering, demeaning and have bullies managing the organization.   I am sure you have seen some bad environments in which to work.   While the pain of working there is high there is a thought that says, “Stay here because you don’t know what is out THERE”.   That is fear and habit that is holding you back from making a needed change.

Our lives are largely run by habit, a programmed set of rules that we live our lives by.     Think about the habits in your life.   Which ones have you tried to change and how successful were you at creating that change?

What is the enemy within?  It is the habit that still has a place in your life and one that isn’t making your life better.   What do you want to do about it?  What is it costing you to keep the bad habit?

“Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.”   Stephen R. Covey

choose your emotion

“Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.”
Og Mandino

Who controls your emotions?   Do circumstances control your emotions?   Think about it for a minute, are external events taking control of you.

When was the last time you had an outburst of anger over how someone was driving?   What were you saying about the driver that just stopped right in front of you without any reason to do so.  Or when the driver just sat there at a traffic light when it turned green, what were you saying.   So, what made you so angry?  Was it the other driver that made you mad or was it “you” that made you mad?

What made you angry or upset was the fact that your expectations weren’t met.   You were upset that you didn’t get your way in the situation.  Isn’t that true?   Now, if you were thinking in the driving situation that the other driver could have killed you or caused an accident perhaps that would be true and at the same time how many of those events were merely an interruption of your own expectations.

How many times has those “car” incidents followed  you around the whole day.  You’re mad when you get to work, you’re mad at lunch, you’re mad going home and you’re mad when you get home.   That event hijacked your emotions for a full day and was it worth it?

How are you choosing your emotions?

What emotions are ruling you?   Are you falling prey to mild depression, too much stress, or something else?   What would you like to change?

It is easy to let our emotions rule our day and in many cases ruin our day.  There are steps that you can take to regain control of your day and your emotions.

1. Take a deep breath, a deep one,  and exhale slowly.

2. Observe, was this really a big deal.  If someone else made a mistake forgive them, if you made a mistake forgive yourself.

3. Regain a sense of control and calmness.   Slow it down.

4. Think, what really happened to your emotions, was it worth it to get upset.   In most cases it probably wasn’t.

5. Reframe – look at the issue from a different point of view, perhaps the other person’s point of view or just look at it from a different angle.  What did you see different.

Take the time to just step back, observe and notice what happened.  Your emotions may have been hijacked so allow them to get settled back down and let it all go.  There are more important things in life to deal with than what someone else did.   See if this strategy brings more peace into your life.

 

story

“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.”
Salman Rushdie

What is the truth about that quote you just read?

What is your story?   What from your past great, exciting, memorable, fun or filled with happiness?   Find two or three things from your past that you found some real enjoyment in and write those things down.  To help fill out these sentence stems:

1. In the past I have really enjoyed _______________________________.

2. One of my most memorable events was __________________________.

3. My best day ever was ______________________________________.

4. My best day will be _______________________________________.

What is your story?   What do you want your story to be?

If you story is currently not filling you with joy and happiness then maybe it is time to rewrite the upcoming pages in your journal of life.

Here are some ways to get back into your story.  If you are feeling depressed, anxious, uncertain, worried, or  you just don’t feel like you have much energy then take a moment and (turn off the TV, listen to the silence):

1. Stand up, yes stand up right now.

2.  Take in a deep breath, in through the nose, make it deep, make it full, make it filling.

3. Let that breath out through the mouth and feel the air pass by your lips.   Let it whoooooosh out of you.

2. OK, take another deep cleansing breath.   Breath in deep, breath in long, fill up those lungs with air… all the way now.   Fill and hold for a few seconds.

3. Let the air whoooooooosh out … feel it go, and push out the air that is at the bottom of the lungs, just let it all go out.

4.  And one more time, let that living giving air in, in all the way.

5. Pause, and let it rush past your lips, feel that air move by and feel what it did for all the cells in your body.   You cells were asking for oxygen, and you gave them something that they really needed.

With new air in your body see if you can create some new positive thoughts.   Think about a favorite sunset, or a favorite bunch of flowers, or a favorite sceene.  Imagine being there right now and watching that sceene unfold before your ideas.  Feel the warm embrace of the wind and let the moment settle in around you like a light coat.  Smell the fragrance of the flowers, let that smell linger right on the edge of your mind.   Listen to the beating wings of a butterfly, hear the sounds, hear that gentle whisper.

Now lift your self up, push up yourself with your feet, push upward, push, push and raise your height.   Look, you can see just bit farther.   What do you see in your mind.   What scenes are you sensing?

Take in another deep breath, let the air flow in, let it flow in and then let out the air with a whoosh …. let it all go.

Now take a moment and smile, think about those times you have smiled before.  What are the stories behind those smiles, those times of intense laughter.   Live in those thoughts right now.

If you are creative take those thoughts and use them to make something new.  Carve new words in a journal.   Splash some color on a canvas or create something using your hands.   Create something with your mind.   Read something new.   Try something new and start writing your story today.

Sunset Thinking by Marilyn Lott

Do you ever watch the sunset
And just sit and think about things
Just you and the sky and darkness
Giving your thoughts some wings

Perhaps you’ve got some troubles
And don’t know what to do
Or you just plain need to get away
To spend a little time with you

Sunset beauty makes you feel as though
Your life has meaning after all
To see a sight so extraordinary
Makes you feel capable, strong and tall

It’s funny how flashes of color
Like a sunset or sunrise can inspire
It can calm your inner self a bit
It’s a scene you can never tire

The serenity gives you a chance
To put things in perspective
Life can be overwhelming at times
And a sunrise can be reflective

So when the sky lights up next time
Let your gaze do some drinking
Soak up all the amazing sights
And do some sunset thinking!

chase the fear away

Olusegun Jegeda writes, “Fear is like a virus that wrecks havoc in our lives. It develops into mistrust, anxiety, worry, hopelessness, and other negative emotions. It paralyzes us and hinders our progress in life. When fear grips you, you become powerless. It’s the greatest obstacle to personal success.”   Psychology Today

Fear starts with the statement “what if …”.

What if I don’t get that new job.

What if I don’t have the money to pay the bills?

What if my manager gets upset with me again?

What if they fire me?

What if they keep me?

What if my company goes out of business?

What if my relationship ends up in divorce?

What if I don’t finish college?

What I am not smart enough?

What if I don’t look good enough?

What if I don’t get a promotion?

What if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to?

What if I fail?

What if I succeed then what?

All those  “what if” statements that we create in our mind generate the sensation of fear or stress.   Your body’s reaction to that stress or fear is the release of hormones into your body so that it will react.   These hormones are powerful and that is the reason our heart elevates in rate, our breathing increases, our language changes and we begin to react rather than respond to the situation.

Think about where you are right now, what is holding you back?  What “what if” statement is running through you mind and what would you like to do about it?

it’s your questions

“In fact, the most effective approach is simply to ask questions. We can ignore directives, but questions force us to attend to them. In the corporate world, most of us are so used to being told what to do that when someone asks us what we think we should do, it stops our automatic processing in its tracks.

Rather than telling people, we should ask them, whether it’s deciding how to implement a strategy, setting objectives, or evaluating performance. The effect of a question may not be as stunning as glasses made out of burning cigarettes, but it will activate the brain and get it working the way we need it to.”    Psychology Today

Those two paragraphs that were printed in Psychology Today represent the new model of leadership.   In the past leadership was in many cases more of a request than a question.

Everyone today should be thinking about themselves as a leader and a person who asks questions.   Questions allow the receiver of the question to create (notice “create”) an answer in response.    The old way was “request” and “react” and the new way is “question” and “respond”.   Think about it, what makes you feel more empowered?   Is it a request or is it a question that you get to answer.

Think about questions in the workplace.  When do you feel empowered?   Do you feel empowered when you are “told” to do something or do you feel empowered when you are asked, “How could you solve this problem?”.  For most people it is the second approach, it is their idea, it is their solution and that is empowering.

Look at any organization that is not functioning at their full potential.  What do you hear?   Do you hear questions or requests?    More than likely you are hearing requests more than you are hearing questions.

New managers want to manage.   They are being asked “lead”  your team to success and immediately they are requesting rather than asking empowering questions.

Now, take this to your world, your sphere of influence, what does that look like to you.   Is it a world of questions or requests.   If it is requests see what you can do to change it to questions and see what happens.

“Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What’s good about this? What’s not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?”   Charles Connolly

your story … what do you want it to be?


“Everything you now do is something you have chosen to do. Some people don’t want to believe that. But if you’re over age twenty-one, your life is what you’re making of it. To change your life, you need to change your priorities. ”
John C. Maxwell

Maybe you have met this person.   This person is the person who is constantly reminding you of how bad things are and how broken the world is and it is only getting worse.   There are wars, this is crime, there is unemployment, there are only bad people, the taxes are too high, the only jobs are minimum wage jobs, you can’t have fun anymore, there are too many rules, the cat got run over yesterday and on and on it goes.   In a few minutes all the energy you had is sucked right out of you and the world does look a whole lot worse.

The “victim” sees the world and the people in it as some great failure rather than a great success.   A victim wants their words to create your world.    Some people by into their story and start adding more to that victim story.   When was the last time you said, “enough already”, your story is never going to make things better, your story is only about inaction rather than action.   Taking action is the only way to change the story.

Taking action is the only way the dirty streets can become clean again.  Taking action is the only way to make the stalled economy take off again.  If the world is broken the only way it can be fixed is if people take action.

Taking positive action

To shift from victim thinking to “owner” thinking is to start with a series of questions.   Explore each question and write out the answer in as much detail as you can.

What do I really want?

Define and create a crystal clear picture of where you want to be in a few years (5 years works as a good horizon goal).  Describe in detail what you want for yourself.   What will it look like when you get there?

What do you want your life experience to be?   Define it!

What do you want to experience when you reach the goal?  This is a description of what you will feel like when you reach the goal.  It might be daily excitement, satisfaction, joy, comfort with a definite pull towards something bigger, an internal smile that spills out on your face.
What am I missing or avoiding in my life?

Understand what is missing today and put that  into your definition as part of your future goals.  Make sure you aren’t avoiding or holding back from something.    It might be that you are avoiding change because where you are right now in your head is a safe place to be.    The reality is your reality is in your head and nowhere else.  Change is what will set you free so understand what you are avoiding if you aren’t making the changes that will make your life better.

What questions should I ask myself?

I normally ask people questions, that is what I do.    Eventually my clients start asking those questions before I do.   What questions are going to move you forward?   There is a question right on the tip of your tongue right now and you want to ask it, so ask it.
What can I do?

At this point  you recognize there is a reason to make a change.  It might be a whole host of things that aren’t working for you right now and you’d like one more chance to change it and today is that day.    The first thing you is make a commitment to you for change.   Want a better job  then change.  What a better relationship then change.  What more money, then change.   Want more happiness then change.   It is your choice to make the changes you that lead in the direction you want to go.  No  one is forcing you to feel the way you do.
Where are my thoughts right now?

You got to this question and you’re wondering if you can really do more and have more.   You’re doubting yourself and thinking, it can’t be for me.   Life isn’t like winning the lottery.  Life isn’t a matter of chance it is a matter of choice.   What choice do you want to make for you?   Write it down.

What action steps can I take ?  

Write down what you want to do.  Write down in great detail where you want to be in 3-5 years.   Then think about what it would take to get there.   If you are like most people you’ll write it down and think about it for a couple of days and drift right back into the place you don’t want to be.   It takes a certain fortitude to make change happen.   It takes discipline.   We unfortunately live in a society where everything comes to us in a box in a couple minutes or less.   We live in a nation of convenience and instant gratification.   If we want entertainment we flip on the TV and select from over 100 possible choices.   If we want some food in a few minutes there is a fast food joint just around the corner.   We don’t even have to get up out of our seat for most things anymore.   A remote will handle the TV and a driver will bring the food right to the front door.

Change takes time and it takes work.   It takes  a willingness to believe that something is greater for us out there if we want it.   Do you “want it”?  If you don’t someone else does.

Now, what are you going to do?

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”  Carl Rogers