Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Dark Side of Self Improvement

You’re a goal oriented person aren’t you? You’re probably a self improvement master. You’ve got your check off lists, goal maps, and all the right tools to keep you on track towards your dreams. You get up every morning so excited to tackle another day. You are a pumped up machine right? Probably not.

office1 Let’s face it. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions, sometimes it’s just so damn hard to stay motivated. I mean you’ve watched all the great TED talks and read nothing but motivational classics. So why aren’t you motivated? You’re thinking obviously you’re just too weak and feeble minded. You can’t cut the mustard. You don’t have the right stuff. And, as you’re plagued with the shame and the guilt, you sink into despair. It’s all so confusing. Why can’t you be like so and so?  He’s always pumped. A mudslide could engulf his home and he’d still be focused on his goals as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He is always motivate "and" inspired. Herein lies the problem. You’re trying to rely on self motivation while so and so is being led by inspiration.

A lot of people tend to associate “motivation” with “inspiration” as if these words were one in the same. Actually they are quite different both in definition and, more importantly, application. First we’ll take a look at the root word definitions.

Motivate:  To give someone a reason for doing something or to be a reason for something.

Inspire:   To influence, move, or guide by the divine or supernatural. To breathe or blow into or upon.

pushing  Understand that only motivation can be “applied”. It’s usually accomplished by some kind of prodding and/or conjuring up some inner strength and discipline. You’re being coerced by your emotions. More often than not it’s just a quick fix and the rewards are short lived. Much like a roller coaster it’s just up and then down. Over and over again. This is one reason why most people give up working on a particular goal. You’re always being pushed in one form or another. It usually feels like an obligation of sort. I should do this or I ought to do that and if I don’t I’m just lazy or irresponsible. And that opens the door for more guilt and self-criticism. Yet somehow, after the pity party, you gather enough fortitude and climb right back into the same old hamster wheel. Sound familiar?

 Inspiration on the other hand can’t be applied. Unlike motivation there is no external pressure. The force that drives you comes from inside your inner being. It’s not” I should” or ” I ought”. It’s “I want to. I am compelled by something greater than myself.  Like your own breathing it comes naturally. You don’t think twice about it. Inspiration isn’t shackled by emotions. How you feel at the moment is irrelevant. You just know you have a passion burning inside which gives you a purpose in life. You are driven and the “motivation” comes effortlessly. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Wayne Dyer. He said…

“Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, and inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.” 

So where does inspiration come from? How do you find it? Well you’ve most likely already found it and it’s still there where it was from the start. Someone or something inspired you at some point in your life and at that instant the torch was handed to you. I believe it never left you. Sure the embers may have died down but the spark is still there. Why? Because it was never about you. I believe that true inspiration is fueled by helping others. Either directly or indirectly your purpose must somehow benefit others and your own well being is simply a byproduct. So what quenched the fire to a slow ember?

 Your head. Pure and simple. Your inspiration was born in your heart and not your brain. Goal maps, productivity apps, to-do lists and the like make it feel like hard work. And it is. If the anticipation and the excitement are gone why even bother. You’re supposed to enjoy the ride right? To rekindle the flame you have to get out of your head. Quit working and trying so damn hard. Overthinking usually leads to procrastination anyway. Just step away from your environment for a while. You’re not going to find inspiration where you are right now.

 Being a writer I have to do this all the time. I have to just back away from my laptop for a period of time. I usually go hiking and take my camera or I go fishing. Get out of the office or your house. More than likely you’ve been neglecting some sort of activity you really loved. Go do that. Have some fun with your family and friends. Get some exercise. It can be anything as long as it gets you out of your head and back to enjoying life. After a period of time you’ll be refreshed and you’ll slowly sense that inspiration drawing you back again. After all, it never left you. You left it.

sun1 Remember your inspiration, your passion, and your purpose isn’t only about your dreams but about the hope of others.  Motivation may temporarily help you toward a goal but inspiration guides and empowers you towards your mission.

 Thank you for visiting and leave your comments. I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to tweet and share.  Maybe someone you know could use this right now.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Under Construction: Your Success Club House

Under Construction: Your Success Club House: Remember your private club house as a kid? All your friends would meet there and you'd talk about all kinds of stuff going on in your l...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Your Success Club House

Remember your private club house as a kid? All your friends would meet there and you'd talk about all kinds of stuff going on in your lives. You could talk about anything. Whether it was problems you were having at school or about the big dreams you had for your life. You were safe there. It was great wasn't it?

 But now you're all grown up along with your old buddies. More than likely they've all moved on to chase their own dreams. Wouldn't it be great to have a grown-up clubhouse? Where you could surround yourself with like-minded people? Who had similar goals and aspirations along with the mutual obstacles of achieving success in your lives?  Where strong relationships are built and these people refuse to let you fail? The possibilities would be staggering, wouldn't they? Well they do exist and meet at predetermined times all over the world. They are called Mastermind Groups.

 There are many misconceptions as to what a “mastermind” is. It is not a guru. It isn’t even one person. It is, however, a meeting of minds. Plural. A small community of people, often with diverse backgrounds, who meet on a schedule to help each other toward their individual goals. The term was coined by Napoleon Hill in his classic book, “Think And Grow Rich”. In it he states it is…

 “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”  and that

“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind [the master mind].”

 And he wasn’t alone in his thinking. Benjamin Franklin had such a group. Countless others including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates knew the extreme benefits of surrounding themselves with people of the same mind and purpose. Noted author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, says that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. Now that is a sobering thought isn’t it? Let that sink in. Are your five building you up or weighing you down? Remember iron sharpens iron. I am positive that no one can achieve true success without the benefit of others of like mind who are as passionate as you are. I believe it’s simply impossible. Here are just four life changing benefits of your mastermind group.

 1. Advice:  Looking at yourself objectively is almost impossible. You’ll receive fresh perspective from different individuals in your group. It will be unbiased, impartial, and unique because of the different skills and experience of each member. After all they’re not in competition with you. You are all part of a think-tank working toward the same objective.

 2. Networking:  By joining a mastermind, doors open for you that otherwise wouldn’t on your own. Your group has connections in various industries which may expand your own resources. There is always an opportunity to cross-promote one another especially through social media. We all know how extremely valuable and powerful this can be.

 3. Synergy:  I know that in my own mastermind I’m always excited before our meeting. There is an aura of expectation and energy that’s difficult to explain. Just being around friends who are as committed and passionate as I am in achieving their goals is quite an experience. These are people who care about me.  I’m not alone in my endeavors any more. We challenge and support one another. It’s almost humbling in a way.

  4. Accountability:  Each member in the group shares responsibility towards its success. Your progress is measured by your actions. New knowledge is of no value if you don’t act on it. You will be expected to implement what you have learned in the group. The whole purpose is to bring back exciting results to the next meeting. This is a great motivator and keeps everyone in focus.

 If you’re serious about achieving your goals, whatever they may be, why would you want to go half way? It’s hard work as it is, much less trying to go it alone. Your personality and will power will still be there when you’re still broke, still overweight, still unknown, or whatever it is you want to accomplish. And still alone. Everyone may like you and believe in you. Your friends and family may be supportive, but honestly, they can’t give you the right advice or the proper motivation. You must afford every opportunity available to help you toward your goals. By not doing so you’re just sabotaging your chances of success. I’m just being honest with you. So are you ready to get started?

 First, what is it you want to accomplish? What do you need help with? Is it a professional or personal goal? More often than not they’re both inclusive. Be specific. You might look for groups in your area to meet with or virtual groups online. Which ever you’re comfortable with. I feel online groups are a better way to start. If you do a search for “mastermind groups” you’re going to get more information than you need. Narrow your search to your specific niche. I warn you most of them are costly. Some very costly. The reason why is because they work. But you don’t want to go there yet. You need to get the feel of it all first. Just read up on how they work.

 One of my masterminds is on Facebook. It’s really a good way to get your feet wet. People have groups, forums, and pages for anything imaginable. Many are based on the mastermind principle. You simply need to do some looking. Now beware of any open group. That’s just a glorified chat room most likely. You want a closed group that must accept you to join. Some require an application. Personally I like the stricter ones. It means they’re serious. They have rules and should. It keeps out spammers and those who aren’t committed to their own success much less that that of the group. What’s great about Facebook groups is you can join as many as you want and find the one that fits your needs. Stick to the one that challenges you. You may even feel a little uncomfortable. That’s good. Progress is uncomfortable. Success is luxurious.

 Well hopefully by now you’re seriously considering the idea. This was really just a primer to get you started. The rest is up to you. Masterminds will challenge you to be a bigger and better person. The one you know is inside you.

 Thanks for visiting and please share it wherever you can. If you have any questions are comments I’d be more than happy to help.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Celebrate Your Small Successes

Do you remember that spark? You know the one you had when you first realized  what you wanted in life.  Were you brimming with excitement?  Did it keep up you awake at night? No doubt it did. So you studied all the right books. You laid out the perfect plan.  You were ready to chase your dreams.  You felt invincible.   Life was good.

After a period of time your progress slowed down a bit didn't it?  You became overwhelmed with it all.  This was where the rubber hit the road. When you ran into the inevitable barriers of pursuing  your goal. I say inevitable because no one is immune to them.  Especially in pursuit of something truly worthwhile.  It may be self-doubt, criticism, rejection, or any number of reasons. You felt that it was just too hard or you weren't  talented enough.  You became discouraged and ready to give it all up. Unfortunately most do. If there were a way to help you through these times of doubt you'd be interested wouldn't you?

Often times our attention may be too focused on the end in mind instead of the means. We lose sight of our progress along the way and become distraught. It's much like "the tail wagging the dog".  Success is built on our little accomplishments. One and then another , and then another. Constantly gazing into the future of where we want to be instead of where we are gets us no where. A good way to get back in focus is by recognizing and celebrating our small wins.  To reflect back to where we started and then towards how far we've come.  We most likely will be surprised at our progress.  Sometimes we can be our own worst critic.

Celebrating our small wins reinforce our commitment and bolsters our self-esteem.  It renews our enthusiasm and reinvigorates us.  These little victories are simply plots along our map of success aren't they? Success is the journey along the way and not the destination.  It's these pivotal steps and the celebration thereof that keeps us motivated and determined. You might keep a journal of these or perhaps a photograph to remind you just how far you've come. It can be anything that helps you measure your progress.  Do not keep it in your head! It must be something tangible you can see and feel.

I suggest you go back to your map and point out a specific step ahead of you now. Then decide on how you will celebrate it. A great dinner, a new movie, or anything that you usually don’t do. It must be something special.  These small celebrations are important and will keep you on the right track toward your goals. But don't celebrate too long.
You have another step and a prize ahead of you don't you? 

Thank you for visiting my page.  I hope I've sparked a little encouragement within you.
Please share it with your friends.  One of them may need it right now. Before you leave please leave a comment as to how you will celebrate your next small win!!



Friday, September 25, 2015

Relearning How To Play

Living two blocks away from an elementary school, I see kids every morning. Wearing their new tennis shoes and backpacks they set out for the day. Some run while others trudge along at a snails pace. I remember my early school days. I can still see the hallway to my classroom and the smell of the cafeteria already preparing for the lunch bell just a few hours away. I remember my favorite lesson that would play a big part in my education. Recess!! Running out to play as hard as I can for a few minutes without any thought of my next lesson.

Much research has proven many times over the importance of short recreational breaks in the development of a child's education and well being. The same has been shown in adults. All work and no play makes Jack and Jill lethargic and less productive. A short recess from work whether at home or office gets the blood flowing which is especially important if you're sitting behind a desk or computer all day. Corporations worldwide are catching on because these "time outs" actually increase creativity in there employees. Many have there own gyms or offer paid memberships to one.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."  - George Bernard Shaw

 We must learn how to play again. It doesn't matter what it is. For fifteen minutes just play. Go for a brisk walk around the block or whatever exercise you can comfortably and safely do. Used home exercisers are fairly inexpensive. Maybe you live close to a park. Call a friend and have them "play" along with you. However you decide just play with the total abandonment and glee of a child.

 Thank you for visiting my playground. If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends - I'm trying to get together a kick-ball team.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

4 Advantages of Having a Mentor

Years ago I hit a wall.  I couldn’t see it but I knew it was there. I felt like a hamster in a wheel. I was stagnant.  Going nowhere.  I had pushed myself as far as I could go on my own. I was afraid in 30 years I would still be the same.  If you're like me admitting this goes against the grain of being a self made man. But I was desperate and swallowed my pride. I sought after someone who had been in my shoes. Who had been in my situation and broken through this invisible wall. I needed a mentor.
Asking for help was difficult for me but it was the best decision I ever made.  In fact as of right now I have 3 mentors. One each for a particular area in my life. I'm not talking about "life coaching".  That always seemed a little vague to me.  I didn’t need Dr. Phil or Oprah.  I needed mentors that specifically have had great success in their field. My goals matched to their achievements.  Since that day my whole life changed and a great burden has been lifted. I can never explain to you the tremendous benefits of having a mentor. No one is a self-made success. It's simply impossible.  Let me show you why.

On the left is the learning curve of you with a mentor.  Imagine your path is clearly lit. The thickets have been cleared.  Stepping stones are laid in front of you.  You can see your destination. On the right is you without a mentor. There is no clear path. You have to fight the brambles alone. You're unsure of your steps.  It's impossible to see your destination. You are blind and will continue to make mistakes over and over. Having a mentor is the ultimate life experience.  Here are just 4 advantages.

     1.  He Knows Where You Are. After all he's been there. It's impossible for you to see yourself objectively. Your mentor does. He measures your progress and makes adjustments along the way. He won't coddle you or blow smoke up your ass. If you need pampering call your mother.

     2.   He can see undiscovered strengths as well as weaknesses. He will help you replace old bad habits with good ones. Your mentor can show you a different perspective in how you think. He will instill in you greater confidence and self-esteem.
     3.  Your mentor is a great source of encouragement. You will make mistakes along the way and may feel awkward at times.  He sees your struggles. It's perfectly normal in your growth process. He will reassure you and get you back on track.

     4.  Your mentor has clout and connections. (My favorite)  He can open doors for you that otherwise would never open on your own.  He can introduce you to colleagues in his circle of influence. After all luck is simply when your preparation meets an opportunity.  This alone gives you a much greater advantage over your peers.

I'm sure there are many more but these four had the greatest impact in my life.  Hopefully by now you're at least a little curious and wonder what your next step may be. The important thing is to define your goals. What skills do you have that might need sharpening to achieve them?  Is there someone you admire and respect who is successful in the same area? If you do then you're off to a good start. Your mentor need not be a one on one relationship. Social media and the internet give you a tremendous advantage over someone 30 years ago. Use it.

I want you to burn that infograph into your mind. A week or a month from now will you be the one on the left or on the right?  I hope you choose wisely.





Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Myth of Multitasking

 We see "them" everyday. Usually at the office. We stand aghast marveling at their aptitude and productivity. They can leap over 5 projects in a single bound with coffee in one hand, a tablet in the other, and a muffin in their mouth. They have it all together. So proficient. So productive. We try to be like them. We view multitasking as a badge of honor. Unfortunately it is an illusion. They appear to be multitasking but realistically it's just not possible. The word itself was originally coined for computers not humans. Yet somehow it secretly integrated itself into the business community and our lives. We gladly received it and embraced it much like a Trojan horse.  We all know how that story ended.

 Let's assume you have 5 tasks at hand. Can you focus on all 5 at once? Obviously not. Even if it were possible would you devote 20% of your focus to each one? Probably not. Our brain can only truly focus on one. When you attempt to multitask it usually doubles not only the time to accomplish it but the number of mistakes. And these mistakes you can't simply dismiss. More time is now required and more often than not more money.

The research is almost unanimous that people who chronically multitask show a huge range of deficits. And trying to do many things at once causes the brain to lose the capacity to focused thinking all together. It can even be dangerous such as texting or driving while on your cell phone. Even eating while driving. In some states all of these are illegal. Health factors come into play also. Multitasking causes stress. And who needs more of that? We can lose our concentration, attention, and memory. So what can we do?

 Now what is really happening in your brain is "multi switching". During the day we may be interrupted while performing one task and we must change our focus on to another. That is expected but in itself is difficult to do. It takes your brain a little time to readjust. Much like changing a camera lens for instance. We take one lens out and snap in another. Do we automatically start shooting right away? Of course not. We have to refocus. Your brain may need a few minutes to readjust but that’s much better than just blindly jumping on your next task right away. By focusing on that one project you will be much more productive than your "multitasking" co-workers.

 Here's some things you might do to help you focus totally on the task at hand. Get to work a little earlier and prioritize your work for the day. De-clutter your desk as well as your mind. Remove as many distractions as possible. If you're on a computer shut down unnecessary windows. Forget email, Twitter, Facebook or any other social media that would distract you. Interruptions may come but try to eliminate any you have control over.

 Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it at least encourages you to make some tweaks into your work habits. After clicking like please click share. Most likely you have friends that may benefit from this post. Thanks again and I look forward to your comments.