Posts Tagged ‘achievement’

Ready, Set, Start

August 26, 2015
Push past inertia ...

Push past your inertia …

What are you waiting for?

I can tell you.

Permission from others to be who you want to be.

Why should you need that?

You don’t.

Then why haven’t you acted to make the changes you know you need to make?

Whether you admit it or not, you’re probably waiting for approval, encouragement or a helping hand to get you started. It doesn’t come because most people are so concerned with living their own lives.

I was talking to a colleague about his plans for further study and how, once again, he had put it off. He clearly felt bad about it and was, I believe, looking to others to make the decision for him.

The sluggish resistance of inertia is powerful. But you must resist. You can’t wait until you feel like doing it. You can’t wait until others do it. You can’t wait until others do it for you.

There’s something in the human psyche that believes that if something is hard to do, or doesn’t feel comfortable, it’s better not to start it yet. Perhaps it won’t feel so daunting tomorrow, or in the summer, or perhaps next year, or when I have more time.

The point is, many things that will create positive results and change in your life will be hard to do at first. When you do them, they will almost always be worth it – that’s the payoff. As a society we value the ‘self-starters’ and ‘go-getters’ but rarely do we self-start ourselves.

It’s a strange phenomenon that life seems to take a natural drift toward what we don’t want, toward what will actually steal life from us. Easy is easy, but easy is rarely best.

It’s easier to sit on the couch and watch TV than to spend time talking with your family, or to read a book that will stimulate your mind, or to start that project that you beat yourself up for continually putting off.

If you push yourself to do, it’ll feel really good. Accomplishment is a reward in itself. But at first, change won’t be easy. In fact, getting yourself out of your rut may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, even if in theory it should be simple.

Push hard against the inertia holding you back and create the life that you want.

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The Power of Personal Perceptions…

July 14, 2015
Do you care what others think about you?

Do you care what others think about you?

Last weekend we caught up with friends and were discussing their daughter’s wedding, held the month before. It was a very pleasant event with an enjoyable reception and nice meal. They told us how I had inadvertently caused a last-minute panic on the seating arrangements, which they confessed was very strange.

A friend of theirs, whom I’d met infrequently over the years, expressed a vehement dislike for me and didn’t want to be seated anywhere near me. He also expressed the same sentiment to someone else at the wedding (who later shared that with me in amazement).

I was bemused by this. I’d rarely spoken to this man and never perceived I’d been in a position to create this level of distain. There’s the rub. For years he’d professed to be the best at everything; he had the fastest car, was the best sportsman, and owned an established business. He surrounded himself with sycophants who worshipped his every move.

I don’t buy into that game, and I guess that must have annoyed him. He wanted to make life a competition and I didn’t feel the need to respond. I prefer to take people on face value: who they are, rather than what they have.

Recently he’d been caught cheating on his wife, his business faltered and he had to sell the fast car. That doesn’t change who he is, but it certainly changed his outlook. He now saw me as ‘winning’ in his game, by his rules. So he found reasons to belittle me to others. He failed to notice (again) that I wasn’t playing. I feel sorry for him; he has some challenges to face.  He’s created benchmarks that define who he is and now, at fifty, they can’t be maintained. Clearly he is unhappy.

As for me, as much as I say I don’t care what others think about me, I don’t think anyone likes to be disliked. But I can’t change this guy’s opinion. And I don’t need to try. I just won’t focus on it.

In a timely post, Seth Godin this week said ‘We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us. Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter. Carrying around a list of everyone who thinks you’re not good enough is exhausting’.

Lucky for some

June 2, 2015
How's your luck?

How’s your luck?

Do you know any lucky people: the ones where fortune favours their every move? Are you lucky in love, business, life or at the casino? Are ‘winners’ lucky or is there something more to it?

We see people who win and say ‘What a lucky guy!’ There is, in my opinion, a big difference between luck at the casino or winning the lottery and luck in life. One is a random chance and the other is a measured journey where opportunity meets preparation.

I have friends who gamble and I hear about their luck at winning five thousand dollars at roulette. I don’t hear about the many multiples of that invested to find their ‘lucky streak’. In the big picture, where randomness reigns, anything can happen. Calling winners lucky is simply sticking a label on after the fact.

To examine luck as a concept raises an interesting question: how can we explain what happens to us and whether we’ll be winners, losers or somewhere in the middle at love, work, sports, gambling and life?

Is luck, good or bad, more than a phenomenon that appears exclusively in hindsight, or is it an expression of our desire to see patterns where none exist, like a belief that your red shirt is lucky?

I believe luck, in a predictable form, can be created by our attitudes and actions.

Lucky streaks are real, but they are the product of more than just blind fate. We can make our own luck, though we don’t like to think of ourselves as lucky: a descriptor that undermines other qualities, like talent and skill.

We can see someone with a lovely home and a successful business and say they are lucky. We often don’t see the 20 years of hard work and sacrifice invested by them to be in this ‘lucky’ position.

We may pray for it or wish others ‘Good luck’ but we’d prefer to think of ourselves as deserving; the fact that we live in a society that is neither random nor wholly meritocratic makes for an even less precise definition.

I believe that ‘lucky’ people adept to creating and noticing chance opportunities, listen to their intuition, are confident to act in risky situations, have positive expectations that create self-fulfilling prophesies, and have a resilient attitude about life’s trials.

So, make your own luck and remember – things could always be worse!

Save me from corporate speak

April 4, 2015
Keep it simple ...

Keep it simple …

Having just returned from four solid weeks of customer and international collaboration meetings, I’m up to pussy’s bow with corporate speak.

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or, at the end of the day, move into a new space, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it like that.

No longer the province of consultants and business-school types, the annoying corp-speak trend has infused businesses everywhere. Used as a means of corporate elitism, such talk, along with obscure acronyms, make people feel part of the club.

Well, here’s a cliché to kick us off: talk is cheap.

Because sincerity requires more than lifting something from a business magazine in an airport lounge. Anyway, to get you up to speed (sorry), here’s a far from exhaustive list of corp-speak, with a few [comments] along the way. Some on this list are clichés, others are aphorisms, but they’re all equally irritating. I’m sure you’ll have many more.

  • What the mind can conceive, it can achieve [But can you fly like a bird?]
  • Winners never quit [But to become winners, they do change their approach – a more subtle argument.]
  • What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger
  • Teamwork to make the dream work [Pass me the bucket.]
  • Money can’t buy happiness [Oh yes it can.]
  • There’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’ [What about healthy teams that appreciate constructive individuality? By the way, there is a ‘me’ in team.]
  • Good things come to those who wait [Why wait?]
  • It was meant to be [Then why did we bother trying to make it not be?]
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results [Sometimes you have to do the same thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice.]
  • Let’s take that offline [Are we really that digitally focused?]
  • We’re moving into that ‘space’ [It’s not cool when everyone is saying this.]
  • Everything happens for a reason [Who decides the reason?]
  • Innovative, solutions orientated, service focused [You get the picture … blah.]
  • We’re going from ‘good’ to ‘great’
  • Blue ocean, red ocean
  • People are our most important asset [Yet most businesses certainly don’t act like they are.]
  • It is what it is
  • Live each moment like it’s your last
  • Follow your bliss
  • It’s just my personal opinion [No, tells us what someone else thinks.]
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  • I’m a thought leader [Not if you have to say you are.]
  • It’s not rocket science [Unless you work for NASA!]
  • It’s all good [Usually said when it isn’t.]
  • The time is now! [Of course it is. When else!]
  • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Bespoke solution [Great for Rolls Royce, silly for almost everyone else.]
  • Don’t assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME [Another bucket please.]
  • What’s done is done
  • Greed is good [Finally, one I agree with.]
  • Pushing the envelope [Air Force to Corporate, a giant leap …?]
  • Nice guys finish last
  • Paradigm shift [Has no meaning but people like to pretend it does.]
  • Go with the flow
  • No offence, but … [We know what’s coming next.]
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • We’re all in this together [Group failure is always so much better.]
  • Everything always works out in the end
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • It could be worse [From whose perspective?]
  • Think outside the box
  • The best things in life are free [Do you really believe that?]
  • Work hard, play hard
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same [No they don’t!]
  • Fail harder [Whatever that means, but I’m not inclined to try it!]
  • Perception is reality [What about when your perception is psychotic?]
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm [How about winning occasionally. Talk about a negative mind set!]
  • At the end of the day [My most hated. Never again.]

So, there are a few phrases to throw into the mix and see what sticks so you can transition your brand trajectory, without offshoring, to leverage your core competencies to drive efficiency and ensure client-centric solutions for a valued added experience.

Please, try something new.

New Year: a time of change

January 30, 2015
How do  we achieve meaningful change?

How do we achieve meaningful change?

Often the most important things in our lives remain hidden in plain sight, obscured by the rush of routine or the pull of commitment. Sometimes, the most we can do is simply focus on the next task, whatever is most urgent. In so doing, we slowly become oblivious to what’s most important.

At other times, we succumb to the temptation of believing that progress means change. If you haven’t yet started then you will need to change; however, it’s easy to forget that, in choosing what you have already chosen, you may have chosen well.

Sometimes you choose badly and embrace the wrong set of values or pursue the wrong purposes. When that happens, you need to have the confidence to make other choices.

But we also need to learn the value of staying true, of choosing again what we chose before.

Commitment and success

January 20, 2015
Commitment means taking action

Commitment means taking action

This is my 200th blog post so a very opportune time to talk about commitment.

We all know that some people find it easier to commit than others – taking action to move into a committed, full and happy life – while others find commitment to anyone or anything a struggle.

The usual explanation of the uncommitted is that something ‘better’ might be just around the corner. This can only be part of the equation because it’s not only what you commit to, it’s how you commit that defines your success.

Only the smallest part of committing is the passive process of ‘deciding’ what you have committed to; the main factor that will make the choice successful or not is the work you put into it. ‘I will start a blog, I will start exercising, I will improve my education’ – all count for very little unless you take action.

The key determiner of how you commit (or not) is the script that dictates how you live your life. Often the positive self-talk or initial excitement of the challenge isn’t enough. There’s a difference between what you want to believe (‘I can change’) and what you actually believe (‘It’s no use, I will never change’). Compare this to an internal belief system that supports ‘I always finish what I start’ to ‘It’s no use, I always give up or fail.’

Perhaps the best response is to prove it to yourself. Make small changes and keep at it. Don’t try to change everything all in one go. Set small tasks that you know you can achieve and build on them. Set achievable stepping stones that support your progress and build your belief system.

 

 

A man walks into a bar …

August 18, 2014
The Zen of doing what you want ...

The Zen of doing what you want …

A man walks into a bar …

and strikes up a conversation with a Zen monk drinking tea.

The monk asks him what he wants more than anything else in the world.

The man says, ‘I’d like to have a million dollars’.

‘What would you do tomorrow if you had a million dollars’, the monk asks.

The man thinks about it for a moment, and says, ‘I’d go surfing.’

The monk replies: ‘You don’t need a million dollars to go surfing. Just go.’

What do you really want to do? Are you satisfied with the number of hours you work? Are you doing what you really want? How much money do you need? Why aren’t you doing it now?

If you could change your job to 4 days a week and drop 20% of your wage would you do it?

Strangely, it’s often lower income earners who jump at a chance like this, and higher income earners are more uncertain. Perhaps that says a lot about how we create our lives, what’s important to us and our perception of what, or how much, we need to live.

What would you do tomorrow if you had several million dollars today? Do you really need millions of dollars to do it?

Or would you give up a portion of your income for more time to do what you want?

Even if you wouldn’t or couldn’t, can you make some changes to your life to make more room for what you really want to do?

The meaning of happiness

July 22, 2014
Does meaning create happiness?

Does meaning create happiness?

People often say ‘I just want to be happy.’

It’s more unusual to hear ‘I just want my life to be meaningful,’ yet that’s what most of us seem to want for ourselves. We chase meaning without really knowing what it looks like. When we lose a sense of meaning, we feel something important is missing. We fear the void.

What is this thing we call meaning, and why do we need it so badly?

Is meaning a type of order that sits above the mundane functions of daily life? Perhaps it’s a contextual construction to offset routine and provide an arcane answer to the question ‘Is this all there is?’ Because that’s a question we don’t like to answer. And even if we never find more, perhaps accepting the question as valid suggests there is more to life than this.

Is that knowledge alone enough to make us happy? And alleviate the feared fruitlessness of daily life? Is it a metaphysical ‘get out of jail free card’ for the unrelenting sameness of existence? Does the idea of meaning make understanding it irrelevant? In short, can the idea of meaning actually make us happy?

On the surface that may seem crazy: to be happy because of the possibility of something, even though we may choose not to find it. Like the belief in life after death, is it enough to temper fear?

I believe that happiness and meaningfulness frequently overlap. Perhaps some degree of meaning is a prerequisite for happiness. If that were the case, people may pursue meaning only as a stepping stone towards happiness.

If that was the case would there be any reason to want meaning for its own sake?

My belief is stronger than your doubt

July 2, 2014
Breaking free of self doubt

Breaking free of self doubt

I had a very interesting weekend away recently. A friend, who I suspected was going through a difficult time, spent almost the entire two days putting me down. Enthusiastically, aggressively, relentlessly, maniacally: finding the correct description of the gusto he brought to the task is difficult.

The putdowns started with my recent modest weight gain. I admit that I’m somewhat touchy about it; it’s the chink in my armour. My friend pounced. All good-natured ribbing? Not really. After more than a hundred references to it (yes, really!) my wife uncharacteristically told him to drop it. He didn’t. His wife told him to stop it. He didn’t. So another description: obsessive.

At first I laughed, then I got annoyed, became weary and finally just felt sorry for him.

We love to think that what others say or think about us doesn’t matter. We say that it’s their problem, not ours. But it’s not true. I did care. Why? Because it questioned my self-belief and my carefully crafted perception of myself.

It made me doubt myself. And that was depressing.

The paradox is, the more we say it doesn’t matter, the more it does. We’ve all questioned our self-worth. That’s normal. So how do we maintain our self-belief in the face of sometimes relentless and overwhelming criticism? By understanding who we are and what we’ve achieved. Accept that we will, at times, have a bad day. Bounce back. Believe in yourself, overcome doubt and carry on.

The wave of success

June 6, 2014
Surfing is life

Surfing is life

Last week I enjoyed a week’s holiday on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, where I spent time in the warm Noosa waters surfing with my son. With a busy work schedule it was a great way to have a break and surfing is my meditation; a time to feel totally free.

Surfing is a challenge and every wave is different. For the best ride, I adapt to the changing conditions, anticipate the best place to take off and commit by paddling hard. Get it right and I’m rewarded with a ride across the wave, effortlessly gliding ahead of the break using the power of the ocean to drive the board forward.

Some days are brilliant and others frustrating. There are so many variables and the challenge makes it interesting every time. I was thinking how much this is like life. To succeed, we must position ourselves as best we can, read the environment, trust our skills, commit and put in the effort up front. Only then might we be rewarded with a great ride.

Not everyone is prepared to paddle; some prefer to sit on their board and allow the wave to pass beneath them. They sit in the line-up all day without ever catching a wave, not prepared to make the commitment or expend the energy to succeed.

If you wait for the ‘perfect’ wave before making the commitment to paddle you’ll surely miss it. Don’t wait. Catch several small waves before tackling a larger one. Often you’ll miss it, sometimes you’ll fall, and that’s all part of the learning. Just paddle back out and commit to the next one.

If nature throws rough water at you it can be best to ride it out. If you fight against it you expend your energy and still go backwards. Sometimes you have to just have to know when to stop pushing and wait for the storm to pass.

When we’re prepared we catch the wave and are rewarded with a long, effortless and flowing ride, at one with the elements and ahead of the break.

We all end up on the beach anyway, but how we get there defines the quality of our lives.