Outstrip Yesterday by what you do Today

October 6, 2010

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”  – Stewart B. Johnson

 When I read this it seemed like an echo from the past – words appropriate to another time and place – weird. And sad. So many people have been beaten down by the length and depth of the recession that optimism has become increasingly difficult.

And therein lies our conundrum: the more we are beaten down, the more difficult it is to draw upon the very resources we need to bring us back up. Oh, we could wait for a serendipitous occurrence to turn life around – a big sale, a new relationship, a sudden, spontaneous improvement in the economy (right). But to do so puts our lives in the hands of chance. You certainly don’t want it in the hands of the government.

If you want your swagger back – NOW; if you want to feel good about life, optimistic, anxious for each day to begin, confident in your ability to achieve, it has to come from within. The question is: how do we reclaim our confidence when reality keeps slapping us in the face? I hate to quote Madison Avenue, but the short answer is: Just Do It!

Wayne Dyer uncovered a clever truth about the old saying “You’ll believe it when you see it.” Turns out that it is true in its original form and when you reverse the meaning, “You’ll see it when you believe it.” The difference is that the original version requires a serendipitous occurrence while the revised version requires only a change in beliefs.

Our power to choose and change our attitude comes from the simple truth taught by Emerson and many others, “You are what you think about all day long.” We don’t need to wait for life to turn around, we can take control, decide what we want and take the actions required to make it so. The key is in the simple quote above: what do you think about? If you focus on past failures, you pull them into your present and forward into the future. To break any destructive cycle, you must replace the old, destructive images with positive thoughts of achievement, prosperity, happiness, confidence, success. If you’re thinking that this is too difficult, stop thinking so much. Just do it, do it now. It might help to remember a time when you did feel powerful and confident. Focus on that time until you “get the feeling,” then hold on to it as much and as long as you can. Practice this every day and miraculous things will happen. Your external reality will evolve in the direction of your intentions, your belief in what you can accomplish, where you are going. Have a good trip.

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Bathroom Mirror Quote

June 16, 2010

“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.”
Doug Firebaugh
 

This is one that should be on everyone’s bathroom mirror – a reminder each morning to be true to who you are and who you are becoming. Why waste even one more day on the past. I mean, you were there, right? You did what you chose to do and life unfolded. Try as you might there is not a single thing you can do about it. (Well, unless you have a working time machine, in which case, call me.) 

Think about it. A life focused on the present and future is a life free of guilt (because we haven’t done anything yet to feel guilty about) – it’s a life full of possibilities, an endless feast of fun, fulfillment and prosperity. So, what’s stopping you? Oh, yeah, you haven’t let go of the past yet have you? Or, maybe you have, but you haven’t formed a clear vision of the future? Well, gee, what are you doing this afternoon?

 If you have a couple of hours, here’s what you can do (2 things guaranteed to transform your life.):

 1. Decide to let go of the past. Make a covenant with yourself that every time your mind tries to relive and redo past “mistakes,” say CANCEL! Bring your mind back to the present and focus on what you can do NOW to live a better life and move closer to your goals.

2. Create a clear vision of the life you want. Take a pen and paper and write it down. Sound silly? Why? If you wanted to buy a new car, wouldn’t you think about it all the time, cut out pictures and tape them on your steering wheel, focus on it until you figure out a way to make the purchase. Well, good news, all life is just like that.

You get what you focus on.

Or, as Emerson said:

“You are what you think about all day long.” 

If you get that, you get everything – and I mean everything.


Expand your “Fear Zone”

March 21, 2010

“Comfort Zone” is a dreadfully inaccurate term, the product of a mind in denial.

“Fear Zone” is far more evocative of the self-imposed prisons in which most people choose to hide. 

 

You tell me: is it comfortable to live within boundaries fashion by fear and self-doubt? 

All but a small number of fully enlightened humans live without a fear zone. Within the zone are all of the experiences you are willing to incorporate into your life. Perhaps you are willing to swim in a fresh water pool but would never swim in the ocean (you know, sharks, jelly fish). You may be comfortable calling friends but become anxious and physically ill at the thought of calling strangers. Swimming in the ocean and calling strangers are activities that many people do in complete comfort but they are simply outside your fear zone. 

Every fear zone is different, molded by complex combinations of beliefs we’ve accumulated since birth. These beliefs are neither right nor wrong. They are simply decisions we have made about what we can and cannot do. 

There is good news: Once we understand how we constructed our fear zones, we have the power to adjust them, to expand our boundaries to incorporate activities, relationships, experiences that we previously considered unimaginable. 

Transformation of what is possible begins by knowing that you can change. Once you have that down, create a blueprint of what you want your life to become—set goals. Then, using tools such as affirmations, visualization, meditation, whatever works for you, convince yourself that you are transforming into the new you. When you reach the point of knowing that the process is irrevocable, it will happen. Your new, expanded beliefs will allow you to participate more fully in the world. As a consequence of completing this process, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your self-esteem. Recognizing and moving beyond fear is one definition of bravery. And, man, does it feel good.


Forgiveness

March 12, 2010

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on earth. Applied generously, it can provide relief for both the giver and the receiver.

For the receiver, the effects are pretty obvious. Being forgiven can ameliorate feelings of guilt for what it is they have done, and worry over the future of their relationship with the giver. It can have a positive effect on the receiver’s self-image, and infuse them with a general sense of  well-being.

Oddly enough, the same benefits are available to the giver. In general, we forgive people because we perceive that they have wounded us in some manner. We judge their actions as wrong. The “projection” effect tells us that when we criticize others we are criticizing ourselves. What we object to in another’s actions are actions that we have taken and regret or that we have imagined taking but believe are inappropriate. So when we forgive another we are, in effect, forgiving ourselves.

And forgiving yourself is very powerful medicine.


On the Necessity of Failure

February 28, 2010

           

Half of the failures in life come from pulling one’s horse when he is leaping.” Thomas Hood

“Failure,” if understood and appreciated, is a critical step in the growth process. It allows us to hone our skills, test our assumptions and find our true paths. Not understanding the benefits of failure can lead to a life filled with lost opportunities. 

Here is my concern: The current market can present more rejection than some of us are used to. When failure becomes something you strive to avoid at all costs, it can actually attract more failure. Fear of failure can keep us from taking risks, force us to play it safe or not get into the game at all. Or, after taking the leap, it can cause us to pull our horse in mid-air.    

Embrace failure as a necessary step on life’s path. Plow forward, test your limits, act in the face of fear—grow.


Do You Control Your Life Or Does Life Control You?

December 4, 2009

“Failures do what is tension relieving while winners do what is goal achieving.”
– Dennis Waitley

This quote can definitely change your life!

It is the difference between you controlling your life or life controlling you.

When we allow our priorities to be dictated by external pressures, we turn control of our lives over to chance. We become like a ping-pong ball batted back and forth by bosses, parents, spouses, children, politicians… The list is endless. Our attention is drawn to the situation currently creating the most pressure. Once that tension is relieved, we move on to the next source of pressure. Priorities are further refined by our personal boundaries as defined by our self-image. Ex: You feel pressured to make another sale and have decided to call people from your open house guest lists. You also feel pressure to balance your stock portfolio. If you are uncomfortable calling strangers, the stock portfolio may move up on your priorities list. What a mess!! A life dictated by external pressures and limited by doubts and fears? No thanks!

Another option: “doing what is goal achieving.” Instead of reactivity, pro-activity. Understand, for most of us, this does not come naturally. Reactivity is our default program. Yes, we all have goals in the back of our minds, but on a moment by moment basis, they take a back seat to reactivity.

So, do you want to take control over your life, become the writer of your story? Here’s how:
Start from where you are now. For a week, take detailed notes of every action you take each day.
At the end of the week, mark each action with an R (if it was a reaction to external pressure, or a G (if it was undertaken to achieve a goal). Count up your R’s and G’s and see how you are currently prioritizing your time.

If you would like to spend more time working on goal achievement:

  1. Write your goals down. Be clear and specific. Follow all of the rules of goal-setting that you’ve learned in the past.
  2. Create a business plan. Work it down to the tasks you will complete each day for the next 12 months.
  3. Make a contract with yourself that you WILL complete every task on your calendar. If an emergency arises and a task cannot be completed, it moves forward to the next day. Your commitment has to be that every task is completed.

That’s it in a nutshell. Successful people know where they’re going and spend the majority of their time completing tasks designed to get them there. Either system, reactivity or pro-activity, will get your somewhere. The trick is: will it be a place that you’d like to be or where other people think you should be.

It’s good to have choices.

–  Steve Dickason


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

November 27, 2009

“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and it’s all Small Stuff.” Richard Carlson

Today was a challenging day. By 3:30, I was pretty exhausted and was heading home a little early. When I climbed into my car I saw a pile of green glass shards covering the front passenger seat. Then I noticed that the passenger window was gone except for some jagged patches of glass around the perimeter. It hit me that someone had broken my window (I’m very quick). I looked down and noticed that my video Ipod was missing from where I’d left it—cleverly visible by all passersby. Ah-ha—it finally dawned on me—someone had broken my window and stolen my Ipod. More than that, they stole my daughter- Moorea’s- music, other albums I cherished and the audiobook I was in the middle of listening to. If that weren’t enough, they opened my trunk and stole…… I have to tell you, I had been waiting for the Star Trek movie DVD to come out every since I saw it in the theater. I’m a huge fan and, well, when I saw it at the Metreon on Imax, we got there late and sat in the front row and, while it was exciting, we missed most of what went on in the upper portion or the screen. It came out on DVD today and I was there at Best Buy at 10am to buy my copy. It was gone, swiped by the window-breaker.

I should have been really mad. I wasn’t. It surprised me at first. And then I just went with it. I realized that I am so fortunate to have a loving family, a great job where I’m surrounded with wonderful, supportive people, good health… well, that’s enough. It occurred to me that if some kid needed that Ipod more than me, then what the hell. It only cost me a deductible to get the window replaced and my Iphone will work just fine as a replacement Ipod. I’m not telling you this because I think I’m anything special. I just want to share a perspective that was very helpful to my well-being today. Like Carlson said, Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. I’m still kind of surprised that I’m not hopping mad. But, I’m glad. Who needs it? Anger is a very unhealthy emotion. Not good to stuff it, but nice to just let it slide on by.

Postscript: I wrote this the same day as the break-in and published it in an e-newsletter I send to all of the people I work with. The next day one of them brought me an Ipod Touch that he’d been given and had never used. The next day another co-worker gave me a new copy of Star Trek. Does life always work like this? No, at least I don’t think so…humm. All I can say is, this time it did. I accepted the damage and the loss and moved on, shared with my friends the positive lessons I’d gained from the experience, and everything I’d lost reappeared. Like magic. I’ll have to try that again.