Blog Post # 182 – Four Questions, Modified

Will we make the jump?

Will we make the jump … today?

Name the one thing that we can do – today – to advance our progress.

Whether it is the first step or the last step of our master plan, what can we do this day to make progress.

Do we trust ourselves?

Do we trust ourselves …. enough?

We have failed before. We will fail again.

This does not mean that we have to stop taking risks. In fact, our prior errors require us to keep trusting enough to take another risk.

We learn so much more from our failures than from our successes.

Can we be strong?

Can we be strong … in this moment?

Some of our worst decisions are made because we feel anxious and fearful about tomorrow or regretful and bad about yesterday.

When we are present in the here and now, knowing that we are safe and that we will survive whatever challenge awaits us, we are free to make the best decision possible in this moment.

No regrets, no fear.

Do we love ourselves?

Do we love ourselves … that much?

For today, let us love ourselves enough to make the jump, to trust our instincts and to be strong in the moment. If we do, then we will have really accomplished something … today.

Blog Post # 181 – A Land of Bounty

Note: Due to Computer Error, this post did not post yesterday.

Have you looked around a grocery store lately?

The other day, I stood in front of the shampoo aisle at Wal-Mart.

There must have been 200 types of shampoo. Maybe 300.

Every variation of shampoo and conditioner, crammed into the shelves.

Our stores stock aisles and aisles of different flavored foods, spices and drinks.

Unlimited choice.

When I stand in these stores, I often ask myself what it must be like to be an immigrant and to see the massive selection at QuikTrip.

In many, many countries, people wait in line for bread. Or milk.

We take so much for granted.

We have so much to be grateful for.

Heck, we can have all of our groceries delivered to us by UPS if we are willing to pay for it.

We are spoiled by our choices.

We live in a world of bounty, selection and options.

Yet we complain. We get angry. We lack appreciation.

For today, let us look through the lens of an arriving refugee.

To see all of the beauty that America has, the freedom, the choices.

Let us appreciate all of the blessings that we have been given, no matter how hard life has been lately.

This is not to say that America does not have problems, but geez our level of complaining seems way out of proportion to all of the blessings that we have.

We have a safe place to sleep, good food to eat, clean water and we are generally protected.

Thankful for that today.

Blog Post # 180 – Space for You?

It is okay to relax.

Okay to think. Reflect. Discern.

The smartphone can wait.

You have permission to have quiet in your life.

Time to be bored and introspective.

Life is not a series of unending tasks.

Yes, your life is hectic.

But can you find space for you?

We are telling you that it is okay.

What if you turned your cell phone off when you came home at the end of your day?

Left the twits to tweet amongst themselves.

Facebook can wait until morning.

The little red circle that makes you pant like Pavlov’s dog.

The number will only be bigger the longer you are away from Facebook.

Email can wait. The world will not burn down if you wait until morning to respond.

So hard to find mental space in 2016.

Too many choices, too many candies to crush.

And yes, putting down our phone may force us to face our inner thoughts.

And to be present with our loved ones.

Egads. The humanity!

For today, let us consider the invitation to unplug. To listen. To be present.

Could be fun.

Blog Post # 179 – The Hardest Day

The first day is the hardest day.

Whenever we try to break a habit, the first day is usually the hardest.

On the day that my father quit smoking back in the 1980s, his mother-in-law (my grandmother) totaled his car on her way to 905.

I remember my father lying on his bed face down, moaning.

When I quit sugar 3 years ago, it seemed like an insurmountable task and I struggled mightily the first day.

But I thought to myself – today will be the hardest day. Tomorrow will be just a bit easier.

Of course, there are ups and downs whenever we give up a bad habit.

Tomorrow may end up being harder than today, but if we tell ourselves that this is the hardest day – that this is the worst that the universe can send our way – it makes it a bit easier to soldier through.

My friend Julie suggested picturing one tiny cell in our body that wants to break the bad habit.

On the first day, there is just one cell.

On the second day, two cells. On the third day, four cells, etc.

Jeff Olson talks about this in his book – The Slight Edge.

He tells the story of the water lily. How for many days, it is impossible to see the incremental growth of the water lily.

One day, by the force of cell multiplication, a lily pond appears.

This plan to concede that today is hard – perhaps the hardest day to come in giving up a bad habit – allows us to sit with the sadness of giving up a habit that has served us for some purpose for some time.

It also frees us to envision a world without that habit and allows us to take a small step towards that new life.

For today, let us acknowledge that change is hard. That today may be the hardest day.

Safe in the knowledge that we will survive.

Blog Post # 178 – No Regrets

No regrets.

Regrets are meaningless and useless.

We may have made mistakes. Offended, slighted, erred or overstated.

Regretting the decisions that we made yesterday or in years gone by does nothing.

Learning from those mistakes is what we should be doing instead.

Tweaking, improving, revisiting and thinking of other possible responses are all ways that we can improve.

But regret – true regret – does little to make us a better person.

We all have events in our lives that we wish we could have handled differently.

A redo, if we had a choice in the matter.

But we don’t. And that is the point.

Spending a lot of time regretting past decisions is time that is wasted.

We may reflect on those decisions to see how, if at all, they are affecting our present.

If we want to use knowledge gained from that reflection to impact future decisions or to get us out of a negative situation in this moment, that is time well spent.

For today, let us not wallow in the pit of regret. Let us instead use those past errors and omissions to fuel ourselves in the decisions that we make today.

Let’s focus on living better in the here and now so as to cut down the number of possible regrets that we might have tomorrow and beyond.

No regrets.

Blog Post # 177 – As If

Let’s act as if.

We want to be a runner? Do the things that runners do.

Act as if we are already a runner.

Get up early, hit the track, stretch, cool down.

Even if we don’t feel like a runner today, eventually we may.

We want to be a successful person with successful friends?

Hang out with successful people.

Obviously, it is not just this simple.

But there is certainly something to be said to getting our bodies, minds and spirits into condition by acting as if.

Change is very hard. Positive change especially.

When we act as if, it allows us to jump over our mental blocks and cut through the lies that we tell ourselves.

Acting as if allows us to leapfrog all of the reasons that we feel we might not be able to succeed and conditions us for success.

This approach also allows us to speed up success.

We get used to being the way that we want to be and the old habits fade away.

This is a very powerful mindset shift.

For today, let us act as if we are already living the very life that we wish to live.

And leave behind the things that are no longer serving us.

Blog Post # 176 – As They Are Meant to Be

Feeling sorry for ourselves achieves nothing.

It is surprising how long and how deep the pity parade can run.

The tapes we play in our mind become self-fulfilling.

If we see the world as screwing us over, we find the evidence that we need to keep believing that.

Every slight, every tense moment, every frustration occurs because the world is conspiring against us.

We can find such evidence any time that we want.

And if we become aware of this frame of reference, we may decide that we don’t want to live that way any more.

We may decide to look for the good, look for the positive and to try and find things that bring us joy.

Certainly, it is more enjoyable to see the beauty of the world as opposed to the grey negative fog that we may find ourselves in.

But perhaps this should not be our goal.

What if our job is not to springboard out of negativity into a false positive rosy-colored world, but rather to be here in the moment where things just are.

They are as they are supposed to be.

To surrender to the reality of our existence and to accept that this might not be “all bad” or “all good,” but rather the things as they are meant to be.

For today, let us accept things as they are in this moment as we are alive in this moment. Everything else is folly.

Blog Post # 175 – “Don’t mistake effort with results”

“Don’t mistake effort with results.”

So said my friend and mentor Dan McMichael to me this week during a nice lunch at Sushi Station.

Too often, it seems, we give ourselves credit for doing, doing, doing the work without thinking through whether that effort is yielding quality results.

Our effort should, at the very least, produce an equivalent level of positive results.

Anything less than a one-to-one ratio of effort for results is foolish.

Our goal should be to leverage our work so that our effort yields 5x or 10x the amount of effort that we put in.

We may build ourselves a ladder to overcome a high wall, but if that ladder is leaning against the wrong wall, all of our effort may be for naught.

Getting bogged down in email, straining too hard to get a message to be 100% perfect or chasing down a deadbeat who is never going to pay us are all examples of effort that may not be yielding actual results.

One step towards better results may be thinking through the desired outcome and reverse engineering our stated goal.

We must know where we want to go before we take a step in that direction.

Otherwise, we will get lost, delayed or misrouted. And our goals will suffer.

One reason that we may mistake effort with results is that efforts can be so much easier to measure.

We know we did A, B and C to try and achieve goal X. The goal may be harder to quantify.

We can make ourselves feel good about checking things off our list, but if those things are not worth doing, we don’t really improve the situation much.

Today, let us sit and discern a bit before engaging in too much effort. Focus on the results we want and think through the desired outcome before sweating too much.

Blog Post # 174 – Not Too Late

What are our unique gifts?

Are there things that we do better than anyone else?

Maybe there is just one thing.

This is the thing that we are supposed to do.

Young people are often told to follow their passion.

While it is certainly important to bring passion to our work, I think that this puts the cart before the horse.

We must first try and discern our unique talents before infusing those talents with passion.

In grade school, some of us were given aptitude tests.

An aptitude test is a rudimentary measuring of traits that we have which are then translated into the job that we are supposed to have.

My aptitude test said that I was to be a janitor, which was strange because I was (and am) generally loathe to engage in physical labor.

We are not talking about an aptitude test.

Today, wherever we are in life, we need to discern what we were meant to do.

It may be late in the game, but as long as we are breathing, it is certainly not too late.

Not too late to make a change.

Not too late to shift our focus.

Not too late to change our realities.

This is true for each and every one of us.

We choose to be the people that we are. We choose to live our lives a certain way.

What do we choose today?

Blog Post # 173 – A New Reality

Get off of the pity pot.

Quit the complaining.

No one is listening.

Nobody needs it.

Continuing to feel sorry for yourself gets us nowhere.

Okay, something bad happened.

We get it.

You have had plenty of time to grieve this reality.

Obsessing over and reliving it does no one any good.

Instead, we need you here.

In this moment.

Doing what you can to heal.

Building something new.

Creating, designing, implementing a new reality.

A reality that may be impacted by the past but that is so much more than that.

Our present reality. Our future freedom.

The forces of negativity, defeatism and sadness swirl all around us.

But the past is what it is. It is not going to change. No matter how many times you choose to relive it.

Come over here by us – the lovers, the creators and the dreamers.

Help us build this new reality.