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What Do You Value?

I often talk about how important it is to prioritize your daily tasks based on your values… but what are values?  I’m not talking about morals or ethics.  Values are literally the things that you VALUE most in your life.  Most of us are unclear about what is most important, and therefore, we lack the ability to PRIORITIZE based on our values.  This gives us crazy days where we are putting out fires and living in survival, rather than being proactive and moving forward the things that wvaluee value as most important.

Therefore, to help you take control of your days, you have to clearly define your values.  Here is an exercise that will help you do exactly that:

ASK YOURSELF: What do I value most?
Select 10 items from the following list that are most important to you.  Feel free to add any of your own that aren’t listed.

Achievement Friendship Integrity
Advancement Growth Pleasure
Adventure Family Power
Affection Contributing to Others Fame
Art Politics Service
Being Challenged Honesty Faith
Variety Independence Influence
Intimacy Privacy Quality relationships
Community Peace Recognition
Competence Being know Freedom
Competition Intellectual status Reputation
Cooperation Involvement Responsibility and accountability
Country Job tranquility Security
Health Knowledge Self-Respect
Decisiveness Leadership Serenity
Democracy Location Sophistication
Ecological awareness Loyalty Stability
Security Education Status
Effectiveness Meaningful work Management
Efficiency Merit Time
Ethical practice Money Truth
Excellence Nature Wealth
Excitement Teamwork Wisdom
Fame Order Work under pressure
Fast living Personal development Excitement
Fun Rewards Creativity

 

ASK YOURSELF: What Can I Eliminate?

Now that you have identified ten, imagine that you are only permitted to have five values.  Which five would you give up?  Cross them off.

Now imagine that you are only permitted four. Which would you give up? Cross it off.

Now cross off another, to bring our list down to three.

These are your top 3 values.  Everything in your life should be designed to move these forward.  When you master your ability to do this, you will be amazed at how fulfilling, organized and joyful your life is!

CALL TO ACTION:  Examine your daily structure and align your schedule to reflect your 3 most important values, discovered above.

2

Get Your A$$ In the Game!

failureI love to talk about failure.  I love to talk about all of its gifts; about how failure really is the source of growth in life.  But there is something that comes before that… it’s called participation.  In order to fail, you actually have to be PARTICIPATING in your life.  You need to be out on the skinny branches, asking for what you want, making it happen and sometimes looking like an idiot.

“Duh,” you say?  Look at your life.  Are you really a player–ON THE FIELD?  Have you really pushed, balls to the wall, to make your dreams and desires happen.  I doubt it.  Not everywhere.  If we all were really playing full out, we would all have everything we really want in life. Unfortunately, human beings seem designed to be spectators.

spec·ta·tor
/spekˌtātər/
noun
1. a person who watches at a show, game, or other event.
synonyms: watcher, viewer, observer, onlooker, looker-on, bystander, witness

This is why the internet is so fun.  We can travel all around the world, exploring all of “life” while sitting at home in our underwear.  We can stand for equality and demand the end of hunger or the fair treatment of orcas at Sea World… all without really DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT.  This is not being on the playing field.  This is typing 140 characters that make you feel better about yourself but accomplish very little in the real world–ON THE FIELD.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love (really, LOVE) social media, and there is real power in using it to create and cause conversations that can change the world.  But it’s just a start.  Eventually, you have to put on pants, leave your home and actually DO SOMETHING.

 

Watch this (then hit the back arrow to rejoin me):

We are spectators because we are afraid.  We all have areas in our lives where fear controls us.  We don’t want to fail so it becomes easier to judge the people who are really out DOING life: living their dreams, making stuff happen.  It becomes easier for us to just stay safe and remain in the stands.  The problem here is that all of us have at least one area where we are doing this, but few of us are willing to admit it.  We may be producing great results at work, but failing in our relationship.  We may have a terrific family, but have no integrity on the job.  Success and balance come when we are truly living for our dreams and doing the hard, scary work that makes them real in the world.

Whether  you are committed to inventing something that revolutionizes the quality of life on the planet or you simply want to find your soul mate, you can’t get results until you get in the game!  Wake up!  Turn off the computer, put your phone down and get away from your tv… life is happening all around and if you don’t have the things you really want, you are probably still in the stands.

CALL TO ACTION:  Evaluate your life.  Take a good, hard look.  Where are you being a spectator in your life?  Commit to taking 3 actions in the next 24 hours to get you what you want!  Put your pants on and go outside.

The 3 Crucial Components to Achieving Any Goal

As people head into the new year, typically they are focused on setting goals for themselves.  Over 50% of Americans make a New Year’s resolution of some sort; that’s over 156 MILLION people trying to do better.  Some set work goals and some set personal goals.  In a recent study by the University of Scranton in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 goals made this year were:

1. Lose WeightLadder up
2. Get Organized
3. Spend less, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Staying Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in Their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time With Family

Americans are goal-oriented people; we like to set them but when it comes to putting “the rubber to the road” and striving to create a REAL change, we often give up.  Out of those 156+ million people trying to improve, only 8% will succeed–8%?!.  What the heck?  Only 8% will succeed.  This statistic shows that we have real hope and desire to change, but OBVIOUSLY do not have the skills, determination and the accountability to produce the results.

What are your goals for 2014?  Mine include losing weight, having more joy and peace in my family and building a business with a bigger online presence.  In order for me (and YOU!) to make our goals transform into an actual result, we must have 3 crucial components:

1.  the skill set to accomplish the goal.  Ask yourself – Do you know how to accomplish it and do have the tools/resources you need?

2.  determination and discipline to follow through – What is your structure/system to accomplish your goals?  

3.  accountability to kick us in the butt, when #1 and #2 wane – How will you be held accountable when you fail, and what will push you to move passed quitting?

I challenge you to re-examine your annual goals.  Build in these three crucial components and be intentional about setting yourself up to win.  If we all took on building a solid plan around our goals, we’d actually be driven to succeed rather than set up to fail.

Success is not about accomplishing the goal the first time you attempt it.  It is about NOT quitting until you succeed.  If all of us structured our goals with the three crucial components in mind, that national percentage of 8% would be more like 80-90%.

CALL TO ACTION:  Re-examine your goals and build in structure that answers the three questions in the crucial components above.

Once Upon A Time In a Land Called Failure…

There was once a man who was an entrepreneur and inventor.  He had big ideas and dreams, but struggled for some time to get any of his ideas off the ground.  He experienced failed attempt after failed attempt.  Finally, after failing to get multiple businesses and product lines off the ground, he had a success.  He took on a partner and created a business that slowly began to increase in profitability and influence in his chosen market.  Yet, after just a few short years, he had a power struggle with the Board of Directors and was forced out of the company he had created.  Faced with yet another failure, he got back on his feet and founded yet another company and began to grow it.

The entrepreneur was Steve Jobs and his powerful relationship with failure led him to become one of the most influential inventors and businessmen in history. His perseverance allowed him to leave a legacy unmatched by few others in the world.

Jobs did not allow himself to wallow in self pity or defeat when he was forced out of Apple. He never stopped. No matter the failure, he put it behind him and moved on. In 1985, Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets, most notable because Apple later bought it. Jobs struggled to make Pixar a hardware company and failed miserably, until finally selling it to Disney for $7.4 billion. Jobs brought Apple from near bankruptcy to profitability by 1998 and revolutionized the computer industry as well as bringing us products like the IPod, IPad and IPhone. He knew we needed things we had no idea we needed.

He was a visionary… and a failure. But the thing that set Steve Jobs apart was his ability to learn from his failures, tweak, and try again.

I love the quote: “Failure is simply stopping before you have reached success.” Steve Jobs is a perfect illustration of this point. He succeeded because he never stopped trying. We don’t remember his first failure, or his fifth one that went belly-up. Remember Lisa? Neither do I… it was his first go at designing a personal computing platform. We remember him for his successes. We remember him for his legacy of an unstoppable innovator that change the personal computing market.

In a country that thinks there are things “too big to fail,” we often cheapen our ability to transform because we never get the opportunity to learn from our failures. Failure is your friend.

CALL TO ACTION: What do you want to be known and remembered for? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Where do you need to STOP stopping and push ahead to success without looking back? Put a plan in action today to keep moving forward.

Do You Know the Source of Your Employee’s Failure?

Inadequate communication from employees is the biggest source of frustration for most managers and business owners.  Poor communication is also the biggest source for lack of productivity in the work place.  If your employee is failing, it is because they are not communicating properly… and if they are out of communication with you, it means they aren’t being managed effectively.  So, you know what that means?  The source of your employee’s failure is YOU–POOR MANAGEMENT.

When you own a business and you are truly committed to meeting your goals, the only way to do it is to be the source of everything that happens in it.  Now, what do I mean by “source?”  The Webster’s definition is:

source /sôrs/

 noun – A place, person or thing from which something comes or can be obtained.

When I say “be the source,” it means take 100% responsibility for what your team is creating (and for what they are not.)  If they are not meeting goals, the question to ask yourself is “What am I NOT DOING that would motivate them to produce results here?”  Being the source of what is produced gives you power in affecting change.  If you blame others, you cannot impact the results.

Notice, however, that I said “the question to ask YOURSELF.”  This is a conversation for you and your business coach, not for your employees.  In their world, they need to be held 100% responsible, but in yours, the buck stops with YOU.

Once you take full responsibility for the results your team is, or is not, producing, getting them to perform is simple… not always EASY, but certainly simple.

CALL TO ACTION:  This week, take on being the SOURCE of every result that gets produced in your business.  If you need more help motivating employees, check out my step-by-step system that will have you fulfilling your goals in no time.

5 Traits of Businesses That Are Coming Back BIG

With a slow economy, there is no end to clients for a business coach.  Big or small, lots of businesses are suffering right now.  Still, my passion is small business owners.  I love the possibility that they create: from nothing but an idea to a brick and mortar business that thrives.  Anyone can start a business, but not all who begin are business people.  Businesses thrive easily in a bull economy, but when a downturn happens, what shows up is all of the areas in which a business owner is weak.  Many fail to address these issues and end up closing their doors on their dreams.

Yet, many others succeed.  Successful business owners cause a transformation.  They stop, rethink their business and reinvent themselves to grow rather than decline.  What is their secret?

In my experience, businesses that have come back big from poor sales and slumping profits have 5 things in common:

  • The owner had a “wake-up” call.

In order to turn around your failing business, you need to stop arguing that your business is “fine.”  You must stop denying that there is a challenge to face, and face it.  Facing your failure is the first step to healing it.  You must become determined to lead your business to growth, greater profits and better customer service.  You can no longer be satisfied with “just getting by.”

  • The owner developed clarity in his vision.

Most failing businesses are focused on ONLY the bottom-line and not the big picture.  As Simon Sinek would say: “they were busy with the “what” without addressing the “why.”  Get your vision in line and speak it loudly.  Share it with your staff and customers and make it happen as a community.

  • The business owner re-organized his workforce.

Re-organization is the solution to a company that is stagnant.  You must re-examine your team and fire the dead weight.  Bring in new employees that are passionate and who can align with your vision for the business.   A thriving business MUST have team players who are energetic and excited.

  • The owner developed a spirit of tenacity and a commitment to real leadership.

A turnaround doesn’t take place overnight.  Once the people are in place you need to be consistent with your brand message, your delivery and your customer service.  You must become a strong leader, providing energy and vitality to your workforce.  Consistent innovation produces consistent results.

  • The owner invested more time in himself.

Work less!  Delegate!  Your overall well-being and balance create your attitude, and your attitude creates your business.  If you are drained, burdened and burnt-out, your business will fail.  Creating an authentic attitude of joy and expectation of growth for your business will increase vitality, which will increase profits.

 

4

Change Your View, Change the Moment

I woke up this morning to my third rainy, gray and cold day at Seaside, Oregon.  My fantasy of a sunny, exhilarating Memorial Day weekend filled with bonfires and shell-hunting had crashed head-on, 100 miles an hour into a concrete block wall; there were no survivors.

It was 6 a.m. and I started to contemplate what should be on my daily agenda… maybe just roll over and go back to sleep… the kind of throw-in-the-towel mentality this weather deserved.  Yet something drug me out of bed, propelled me to get dressed for the weather and head down to the beach.  It was in the 50s, overcast, foggy and misting a light rain.  The wind was cold on my face as I pushed closer to the water’s edge.

It was low tide and when I started to look around at the mile-wide beach, the pounding surf and the litter along the shoreline, the symbolism was screaming at me.

Life is so much like a beach.  Sometimes we are at high tide where the water is warm and soft and the tide playfully licks at our toes… beckoning us to play.  The sun is shining and the light reflects warmly off the whitecaps, throwing a prism of colors into the sky.  All is right with the world and the beauty of life is generously presented to us on a silver platter.  The only thing required of us to to bask in its perfection and breathe it all in.

Today was not one of those days.  The beach was empty and the cold sea air stung my cheeks as I pushed forward toward the surf.  The wreckage left behind the low tide extended miles beyond my view… beaten disemboweled bodies of crabs and clams lay before me.  The beach was strewn with crushed shells and sand dollars mercilessly smashed to pieces.  The seaweed and plant life had been torn from its roots by the unforgiving surf and mixed with bits of driftwood and an occasional bottle cap, crushed aluminum can or piece of trash.  As the tide had retreated, it left devastation in its path.

I’ve found myself in the low tide of  my life many times: during my cancer treatment, after the sudden death of my 34-year-old brother due to a drug overdose… even in the less descript daily monotony of children, famly and finances.  But even in the devastation of those moments, life required me to push on, just as I did this morning as I stepped over the litter and continued toward the water line in the gray weather.

It was difficult.  My body ached.  I was breathing hard.  I’m too fat, I was thinking… I should be in better shape by now. Even though I’ve been losing weight, I haven’t been working hard enough… haven’t been pushing myself like I should. The negative conversations polluted my brain as I walked along, mentally beating myself up… breathing hard and wishing I was 100 pounds thinner.

It was just a few minutes later when the sand became darker, almost black.  It was pristine.  Covered with less than an eighth of an inch of sea water, it looked like black glass.  Slick and beautiful all the way up to where it met the crashing waves.  It looked so placid and slippery that I almost expected to be able to skate across its hard surface, slipping and sliding the whole way to the ocean.  A seagull screeched above my head, breaking my trance-like plodding, causing me to raise my eyes from the ground.  “Wake up!,” it called.

As I jerked my head up, the extraordinary view caused my breath to catch.  A foggy mist had settled around Tillamook Head.  The lighthouse on the rock just out from the shore was being assaulted by the thundering Pacific coast waves.  The crushing power of the surf was softened by the foggy mist that had settled around the point and the hundreds of beachhouse that speckled the coast.  Dozens of small groups of clammers had begun to emerge from the dunes and dotted the water line hunting for razor clams, hidden a foot below the sand.  People were bundled up… some even had waders on.  Nothing was going to stop them from securing their 15 clam limit.  Despite the cold, and the rain and the gray weather, the clammers were out in force.

The beauty of the moment was incredible.  As I extended my view down the huge beach, I realized hundreds of people now dotted the landscape, searching for buried treasure.  I later found out that this is one of the best clamming seasons on record.  People flock to the beach in the morning during low tide to collect their razor clam prizeload.

It’s powerful to realize that when you change your perspective and surrender to the moment, your whole life can change in an instant.  Surrendering to the moment, to the weather, to the beach… I suddenly felt exhilarated and all of the negative “suffering” conversations in my head disappeared.  The ocean was magnificent.  I was fully present, awake to what was going on around me, and my heart was full.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.  I became flooded with appreciation for my life and for this day.  It was literally as if a switch was flipped.  And all it took was a change of scenery and a moment of awakening.

What will it take this day for you to flip your switch?  For you to surrender to the perfection of the moment: if there are tears, taste them as they fall.  If there is sunshine, bask in its warmth and feel the heat on your skin.  If you notice you are not present, change your scenery and wake yourself up.

We all have low tide moments in our lives and the key is not to wait for high tide, but rather to embrace the moment in which we are standing and experience it to its fullest.  This moment is your life.  What will you make of it?

To find out more about  mastering the Power of Perfection, check out our courses & workshops.  Alter Your Life is offered this month.

Defining Bravery – Superhero Style

Captain SmashI am writing this on location in the heat of Tennessee.  There are two things I’ve concluded on this vacation so far – I love my Garmin and I frequently entertain the idea of selling my son to the gypsies.  I choose gypsies just because that’s what my Mom used to say.  My Mom also used to say “Son of a Biscuit” and “Dagnabbit” which I took to be very serious words at age four.  She probably would have handled my son better than I do at the moment.  After raising six boys, she could handle quite a bit.  Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s took her mind prior to his birth.  Then, it took her life two years ago.  There is no doubt that she would have treasured him.

 My son is three and I often think that he would give Nanny 911 a run for her money.  He is living his life working to get on Santa’s Double-Secret Probation Naughty List (which is much worse than Dean Wormer’s in Animal House).  He screams.  He spits.  He says “Shut up” and “I’m going to put Mom and Dad in jail!”  He hits.  He kicks.  He stomps on the ground of complete insolence.  He argues about clothes all the time, as well as any topic when in the mood.  I just had to carry him out of a bookstore when he grabbed a Spider-man book and refused to let go, then ran around screaming about his ultimate desire for it.  “Stubborn” or “strong-willed” lack the appropriate meaning to capture his essence, while choice profanity comes much closer.  You are never bored in the presence of such dramatic company.

 On the flip side, he often argues about clothes because he has to match Daddy as much as possible, especially in superhero T-shirts.  He will kiss you out of nowhere when the mood strikes him.  He will hunt you down just to share a snack.  He has a smile and laugh that illuminates a room.  He is often hilarious.  One time, we were coloring dinosaur pictures together and when we were transitioning to fresh ones he started to say that he “didn’t know how to color.”  I held up his last picture and gave him my most rehearsed sarcastic tone indicating how he seemingly knew then.  He responded by displaying a little devilish smile and retorting: “Oh, calm down Dad.”  Hilarious.

Balancing life with a child who needs so much energy is tricky.  Things got out of whack when he was a colicky baby – my wife and I allowed ourselves to cocoon far too tightly to the absence of other needs.  Now that he’s older, we are finding some movement from caterpillar to chrysalis, finding some individuality again.  It’s bumpy, but change comes whether you like it or not. 

 These experiences inform my work.  I think one of the overt values I tend to impart as a therapist is about allowing things to happen with some acceptance; like change.  This goes along with my current niche of mindfulness therapy.  Mindfulness practice requires moment to moment attention without judgment.  It also requires bravery to allow things to unfold that you would otherwise want to control.

 This bravery is as important a necessity for those struggling with a trauma, as it is for the parent trying to change the behaviors of their willful child.  Sometimes the brave thing is letting things unfold and being willing to sit with the chaos and discomfort (and often pain.)  When I’ve kept my son in time-out or last-resorted to holding him in the midst of a major tantrum to contain his escalation (I was trained to do this when working with emotionally disturbed children in the past,) I have had to learn to continually monitor and drop my own ego in the service of the situation – be firm without personalizing his behavior (or know when to switch off when I do find myself getting angry.  )I don’t know if I consider myself brave in this endeavor, but I do think that I’ve had to stretch myself and grow in ways that I never would have without him.

 In our many conversations where I try to promote good behavior, I have defined bravery to him as “Doing the right thing (and helping others) even if you don’t want to or when you are mad or scared.”  I have used his love of superheroes to illustrate this, using examples where the Man of Steel or Caped Crusader acts with this kind of bravery, including using restraint.  On the morning that I started writing this, he recalled the definition to me almost word for word unprompted.  Nice to know some things stick. 

I think there are a lot of different kinds of bravery, the most blatant being that of soldiers who make the commitment of their lives in service to our country, or the fireman or police officer sworn to protect us.  Having worked with veterans, I have a profound appreciation for their sacrifices and hope that whatever I write about the subject doesn’t diminish that.  However, I think this definition works in its simplicity and honors what people who devote themselves to the service of others often do.

If I could name one thing I want my son to learn from me is this definition of bravery.  Doing the right thing even if you don’t want to or when you’re mad or scared.  I think when he’s a teen I’ll add on: “or if unpopular or against what your peers think.”  I hope it will stick.

 Funny thing.  We decided today that on our drive home we will be stopping at the Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois which glorifies all things Superman.  He’s going to love it.  Upon our departure, I will pity the staff and patrons who will be hearing him scream: “I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE!   I WANT TO STAY HERE WITH SUPERMAN!”  All this while he runs around the store with some action figure we said he couldn’t have.  Ah, the good times…be brave…be brave…

 Christopher David

August 21, 2009

1

A New World is A New Mind

This is one of my favorite quotes by William Carlos Williams, a physician and renowned American poet.  It speaks to the fact that whenever a human being chooses to evolve, he may do so by first declaring it.  In order to grow, you must first have the desire to change.  In order to change, all there is to do is to choose it.  What do we need to give up to be successful?  What attitudes are holding us back?  We are powerful beyond our understanding, and when intention is put behind our dreams, anything is possible.

 

new-worldOne of my favorite “motivational gurus,” Matthew Ferry used this same quote in his blog a couple weeks ago.  In the post, he says

Your life is nothing more than the thoughts, ideas and perceptions you are focusing on.

This is so true, but most times, we forget that if we are suffering, unhappy or angry, it is within our power to change it!  If you’re suffering: put your integrity in check, if you are unhappy: change your focus; if you are angry: go to the core of the emotion and find its source and then release it.

The choice is in your hands, today and every day, what do you choose?