Monthly Archives: September 2011

be present

Where are you right now?   Are you focusing in on what is on the horizon in the next few days or weeks or are you focused on the past and what has happened.   Being present means focusing in on this moment and this moment alone.

Our culture is focused on “winning” and excelling in life and business and with such a high focus on getting results (or success) we often miss present.   As a result many people are missing out on life and over time they become disenchanted with their life.

Being present is becoming a topic of greater and greater interest and has been written about by Peter Senge and most notably Mihaly Csikszentamihalyi.   With our days being compressed by “duty” we  rarely have time to reflect on the present moment and what is happening is people are feeling like their is something missing.    That missing something starts to grow and grow and there is this moment that causes people to wonder life is all about.

Most people at some point in their life have found a moment in which they were fully present and it was magic.  Mihaly writes, “Yet we all have experienced times when, instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, maters of our own fate.  On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like.”

It is those moments of exhilaration that people are seeking but are finding that daily living is sucking the life out of them and generating more stress than joy in their lives.   The question that lingers in many people’s minds is “how do I start feeling more joy in my life?”

Part of the answer is taking time out of the everyday busyness to stop and really doing something that tests your limits.   Busyness and routine work is draining but something that challenges ever fiber of your soul is what people describe as an optimal experience and this is what causes people to feel most alive.

What challenges the mind and body creates this sense of flow or being in the moment.   The moment is a point in time where the conscious mind reflects on the challenge and has the experience  of control, victory and freedom from the threat of chaos.   That moment is experiential and joyous and fleeting.  It is a moment that isn’t easily regained or easy to live over again through a similar experience.  It requires a new challenge and a new experience and then that moment of reflection.

For example first marathon run by a runner is often the most memorable.   Running the same marathon again even a year later has less of an impact than the first one did.   A new challenge must be experienced in order to regain that feeling.   Yet that experience can be recreated in the mind at any moment by learning how to be present right where you are.  The mind has the ability to generate that feeling of presence.   What will you do to be  present in your life?

Obtaining flow or presence

1. Set goals

2. Become immersed in activity

3. Pay attention to what is happening.

4. Learn to enjoy the present.

Do something important today that will allow you to feel better about you.

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unconscious living

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.”   Charles D. Gill

“But, I can’t” … you’ve heard this before, maybe those are the words you uttered as well, “I can’t ….”, and if you ask why you might hear the words that are tied to a fear.    Often the words “I can’t” are spoken before there is any conscious thought.  It is as if “I can’t” rolls off the tongue with a high degree of practice, and it does.

What does “I can’t” speak to?   It speaks to fear, a fear of failure, a fear of success or a fear of loss.   “I can’t” really says I am not ready to make a change in my life because I am afraid of what the result could be and that result could be less favorable than I desire.   (It might cost money I don’t have, or It might cause me to lose something I can’t afford to lose right now, or It might make me feel bad, or It might make me look bad, or …. ).

In many cases there are words that we speak that we don’t create but rather words that are spoken in reaction to an event or a thought.   When our language becomes a reflex rather than a response we have trained our brain to do something without thinking about it.   It happens every day.  If you drive a car there is a lot of the driving process which has been pushed out of conscious thought to the point that driving can be unconscious.  (Think about the last time  you drove somewhere and don’t remember the journey).

Let’s say you have made a declaration to create success in your life.  To do that means that you are choosing the unknown.   To make a large shift in your life will push you in a direction in which you are not familiar and that generates fear.   To make steps forward means stepping into areas in which you have little or no experience and means making a choice to live consciously by making small effective choices to advance you in the direction you want to go.

To shift from unconscious living to conscious living is having an important goal, a goal that can become a driving force in your life.   What is your big goal that you are working towards?    Are you letting your programmed response to life stop you or are you taking the steps you need to take to grow and succeed?

be a peak performer

“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.”   Dennis Waitley

In the last blog post I talked about performance zones and looked at the definitions of the two lower zones, the excuse zone and the victim zone.  These zones are where many people spend most of their waking hours.   So many people are finding that life is nothing great and living like life is just a great big pain.   I’ll bet you know some people who are just existing and not enjoying life.  Is that right?   What are they saying and what are they doing?

Isn’t it tiring to listen to someone who is always telling you the reasons why they just couldn’t get it done (whatever that is)?    They always have a story of why they couldn’t and they certainly “would” have if ….

Notice the language that people use.   Is it filled with “Only if” or “If I …” or “I wish …”.   That isn’t the language of high performance that is the language of victim level performance.    Victim level performance takes energy away from others rather than elevating the energy.

What are the attributes of a performer or a high performer and how do you know you’ve met one?   One of the attributes is “energy”.  What kind of energy are they producing?   Performer’s generate energy and give it away and it becomes this infectious smile or attitude that radiates outward.

High performer’s exude energy and charge up others.   Even their bad days are only moments in time rather than most of the time.    High performers have bad days and they know that bad days aren’t the rule.   Low performers think that good days are unusual rather than the rare occasion.

The big difference between a top performer and low performer is the direction the energy flows.   It is a choice that each person makes on what direction their energy flows.   If it flows inward you’re not living your full potential.  If  your energy is flowing outward then you are giving your life meaning.

How do you create high performance?

1. Reduce stress in your life.

2. Increase personal learning

3. Feed  yourself positive material  (turn off the TV, the radio, the email, …)

4. Serve others … give your time.

5. Be clear on your mission/purpose in life.

6. Being intentional about creating high performance.

7. Develop your mental view of yourself – your personal psychology.

8. Being present … being in the moment (not the past or the future).

Eight steps to reach greater performance and all it takes is putting those ideas into practice.   Do you believe that living in performance or high performance is living a better life than living a life of excuses?   If you said, “Yes”, then what is stopping you from being the high performer that you can be?

“It’s not the mountain we conquer-but ourselves.”
Sir Edmund Hillary

peak performer …

“Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour?s duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What do you think is your normal operating zone?    By zones I mean “victim zone”, “excuse zone”, “performance zone” and “high performance zone” where you spend most of your time.

What zone do your thoughts and actions reside in most of the time?

With stress increasing daily and more and more jobs being lost in an anemic economy many people (over 10%) have lost hope, at least the hope that they would fit into a job that would pay the bills and offer some type of security.    When hope is lost the focus is in making excuses about “why” they are in the position they are in.   As time passes the feeling moves from excuses to being a victim.   The victim mindset is characterized by withdrawal and giving up.   At times the victim will lash out in anger with that anger being directed externally (it is someone’s fault) and with a strong need for sympathy.

What we need today is fewer victim’s and excuse makers and more performers.    Shifting the mindset from victim to owner (performer) takes work and a lot of work.    It takes recognizing that there are opportunities and it takes a desire to step towards opportunity rather falling into the pit of despair.

John Milton wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”    What we feed our minds we soon become.  If we feed our minds and endless stream of excuses that is what we become.  If we don’t believe we are good enough we will shortly become that as well.   If we rise to the level of our thoughts then when are thoughts are decidedly negative our results will be as well.

We choose our thoughts as we choose our performance.   Even though our circumstances may be challenging or very challenging we have a choice to make about out thoughts.   Are our thoughts going to meet the challenge or be beat back by the challenge?

Maybe you know someone who has given up and fallen into the mode of being a victim.   You might know someone with similar circumstances finding opportunity and taking action.   The difference between a performer and a victim are the thoughts rather than the circumstances.

Take a look at Louis Zamperini’s life and see how he was able to overcome  physical and mental abuse by keeping a positive attitude, a high performance attitude.

Next time, how to become a peak performer.

where does the time go …

“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
M. Scott Peck

Are you being robbed?    Most people are being robbed of time.   Time bandits steal chunks of the day away from you in many ways.  Some are disguised and others are very noticeable.   What are the time thieves in your life?

Some people are easily distracted by email, by the news, weather, or a simple game.   Before long a good chunk of time has been removed from your day and once it is gone there is nothing you can do to bring it back.   The best you can do is optimize what remaining time you have in your day and make the best of it.

To make the most out of your time look at the value of your time and the satisfaction that the time brings.   For example something could have of high value (paying bills) and low on satisfaction.   There are things that we must do that aren’t very satisfying and there are very satisfying things that we do that are of low value (watching TV ).

Take a look at your day and write down all the things you did, all of them and then rate them in terms of value. ( 1 = Low and 10 = high).   Then rate them based on satisfaction (1 = Low, 10 = High).    Take the two numbers and multiply them together.    What tasks produced the highest numbers?   Those would be things with high value and high satisfaction.     What are you doing that has both high value and high satisfaction?    How much time are you doing those things?   Are they the focus of your day or not?

What tasks are low value and low satisfaction?    Should you be doing those things?    If low value, low satisfaction tasks are removed from your day that gives you more time to do high value and high satisfaction activities.

More and more people are desiring to get more out of each day.  To do that the focus should be on doing things that have both high value and high satisfaction.   What do you think?

What is of  high value and high satisfaction for you?   Write those things down.  Are you doing them?   What is stopping you?

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”   John Wooden

on this fateful day …

[New York Daily News 9/14/01]

The day the world changed.

It was a moment in time when people’s hearts started beating differently.  It was a moment in time when your world shifted.

It might have been a moment when it crystallized in your thoughts how fragile life is.   What changed in you?   What new realizations did you have?  What new actions were you going to take?

Sometimes people change the direction of their lives when tragedy strikes, for others it is a blip in the trajectory of their existence.   For some people it meant ensuring that those closest to them knew that they mattered.  It may have been a time to ask forgiveness or share their true feelings or to recommit to a relationship that had gone sour.   What changed for you?

What moves you to take action?  Does it take a massive and violent attack on your way of life or do you see what is best for you and then take action?

Everyone experiences some type of 9/11 experience in their life.  Some use that experience as a wake up call, a time to start taking action.  For others it means withdrawal and moving backwards and becoming a victim of the event rather than making a choice to take action.   Fear drives withdrawal, opportunity causes action.   What do you do when faced with great challenges?

Take this chance to evaluate where you are today:

Use a scale of 1-10, 1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so

1. My life is close to my ideal

2. The conditions in my life are very satisfying

3. I am satisfied with my life

4. I have most of what I want out of life

5. I have no regrets about my life so far

Add up the score.

My life is very good – ( 40 or above)

My life has opportunities –  (30 – 39)

My life could use improvement  (20 – 29)

My life needs a lot of work   (  less than 20)

Make today the day you start working on your life.   Don’t wait for something tragic to motivate you.

 

 

 

 

i’ll start tomorrow …

“We intend to take action when the idea strikes us. We
intend to do something when the emotion is high. But if
we don’t translate that intention into action fairly soon,
the urgency starts to diminish. A month from now the
passion is cold. A year from now it can’t be found. ”
Jim Rohn

Tomorrow … that is when I’ll start, tomorrow.   It is easy to put off for another day, another week, another month, another year the things you would like to do.  Somehow something else slips in the way.   Maybe it is a good TV show that you really like to watch.   Of course it is easier to watch the show than to exercise.   Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow never arrives.   It is a placeholder in our lives, it is an excuse to put off the hard work it takes to really make the difference in  your life.  I’ve met a lot of people who have put off today the thing that would make their life better. I’ll get to it tomorrow.    Eventually after many years the stories change from the things I did to the things I could have done.   “Only if …,  only if I had more time …, only if I had more money,  only if I was in shape, only if I knew more, only if …”

The “only if” story is the story about putting off today and believing it will be done tomorrow.  Really, tomorrow!    Is it really going to start tomorrow.

One of the greatest regrets that people have is that they “didn’t” go for it when they could have.   That means taking action on the idea when you are passionate about it.   Waiting for tomorrow for most people means not doing it at all.

A great idea can’t wait for tomorrow.   Take action today.

“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 entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. ”   Robert Browning