Posts Tagged ‘fulfilment’

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’.

The cynical self

May 13, 2015
I want to break free ...

I want to break free …

Yesterday we had a full day business meeting with international visitors. The meeting started at 9.00am, and we had a working lunch and concluded at 5.00pm, at which time we left for an upmarket city restaurant for dinner.

Our distributers were trying to impress us. They’d brought their CEO and Chairman. Our management team was trying to appear superior to the distributors, while also trying to impress our boss and scoring points on each other in the process. And our boss was trying to impress the guys from head office, who were constantly looking at their watches. As best I could make out, no one wanted to be here.

About 3.00pm I wanted the music to stop. I wanted to scream ‘Why are we doing this?’, but resorted to injecting a few thought-terminating clichés to wind it up. Didn’t work. The show rolled on.

After a day of platitudes and thinly veiled assurances of improved support and performance, which remain the emotional capital of the business world, with little to no action until the next quarterly meeting where we do this dance again, it was difficult to look forward to the impending meal.

At dinner, everyone was toasting everyone else; too many times to be comfortable. Big smiles, forced conversation, more platitudes. The Chairman made another speech reaffirming his commitment to us and the greater cause. As if it matters. So that led me to wonder: do we? Do we matter?

In our daily lives, questions of personal worth are recurrent, if rarely articulated. We’re so defined by work that our identities without it are in question. Unless we have something else to anchor us, we’re in danger of becoming what we do, not who we are.

We find that ultimately unsatisfying. Because as we get older, time spent at work consumes a proportion of our lives we can rarely afford. We go home tired, eat, sleep and do it all again. Holidays come rarely and when they do we wonder why life can’t always be like this.

I want to rebel. Just a minor revolt. I want to grow my hair long, become a hippy and follow the sun surfing. My wife says I can, for one week in the second half of each year. I can’t do more because of ‘commitments’. Commitments that will get me committed.

Deprived of a clear sense of purpose, apprehensive about the significance of our lives, we’re desperate for reassurance that there is a reason behind what we feel we must do. Are we working for the weekend or living in the now?

I don’t know. I’d rather have it all, and now. So I keep working while I search for the answer. I’ll let you know if I find it.

The naivety of youth and where to find some

March 23, 2015
Recapture your youth ...

Recapture your youth …

There’s something refreshing about the naivety of youth; a time of not knowing it all and having the opportunity and the excitement of finding out. There are so many new experiences, taking nothing for granted and enjoying the moment; enjoying the journey as well as the destination.

It’s ironic because this is exactly what many of us ‘older’ people are searching for. I saw a great example this morning. As I waited in the airline lounge for another flight, I made my way up to the coffee station and there was a young man of 16 or 17, my son’s age, standing there looking at the machine.

He clearly didn’t know what to do and looked like a fish out of water. There were huffs and puffs from the handful of business types behind him, frustrated by the multi-second delay this was causing to their day.

Excruciatingly absorbed in their self-importance, these men and women in their power suits, sporting permanent scowls that scream ‘I’m so important’, were clearly desperate to secure that next coffee with minimal downtime.

I said to the young man, ‘These machines are so complicated, far too many buttons for my liking’ as I helped him to make his selection. He said he was new at this. ‘Great, where are you going?’ He was off to Sydney to race go-carts in the national championships.

‘Wow, that sounds great’, I said as I handed him his cup. I saw him eyeing the biscuits so suggested he’d better grab a few of those to keep him going. We headed back to our seats in the same direction and he told me how happy he was, how this was a great opportunity for him, how excited he was about flying and being allowed to use the lounge.

I wished him luck, told him he was unquestionably the most interesting person in here and that I hoped to see him in F1 one day. I was much better off for talking to him and glad I’d had the chance to meet him.

Here was a young adult that was excited by life, chasing his passion and enjoying every aspect of journey, even the flight. I thought back to my first few flights and how excited I was too.

Many people in this lounge have big jobs, high salaries and flash cars but have lost the passion and excitement. I looked over at the young man talking enthusiastically with his parents, almost bouncing off the walls, while the ‘blue suits’ had their noses buried in the latest Richard Branson article on their iPads.

When you recapture the wonder, you capture the world.

Where to find success

February 18, 2015
The zest of success!

The zest of success!

Work in a corporate with more than 100 people and you’ll find such a diversity of people, performance levels and expectations. There are great people, top performers who are well rewarded and provide excellent value for the business. However, there are many who expect to be rewarded at a level far above their effort and results. Their self-perception is mismatched with their performance. Often it’s not ability, but effort and motivation that holds them back.

So where does success meet personal power? Here are some tips:

In order to succeed you need ambition, which means you need to work hard, make sacrifices, and keep going when things aren’t going well. It’s easy to get discouraged or side-tracked; success comes in the last 10% that most people aren’t prepared to do.

Successful people are energetic. They act and talk with passion, bringing people along on the journey. Stamina counts: you have to be willing to work harder and longer than those around you. ‘Wanting’ and ‘doing’ are very different; be your own action hero and people will feed off your energy.

Ambition and energy need to be channelled toward a clear goal. ‘Busy’ and ‘efficient’ are two very different things. There are many choices when focusing on what’s important, so don’t make the mistake of not choosing.

The drive toward success must include ongoing analysis and assessment. Many people think they have 10 years of experience, but they really have one year of experience repeated 10 times. In order for experience to lead to growth, you must review your progress objectively and be prepared to make appropriate changes.

Successful people exude confidence, which increases their influence and power. Confident behavior is often associated with actual power, so you’ll have more influence if you come across as confident and decisive.

Do you have the capacity to tolerate conflict? Most people don’t; they prefer to avoid difficult situations and difficult people. Since change often provokes resistance, standing up for your beliefs can be challenging. Sometimes you need to fight for what you want.

To find success, I’m not suggesting you dedicate your life to your ambition. Balance is important and provides perspective. Use your time wisely and, when working, be present, focused and motivated. Don’t expect others to provide this, it comes from within. Take initiative. Do more than expected. Do this and you’ll stand out in a world where striving for mediocrity is the norm.

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.

No regrets. Well, perhaps just a few …

November 26, 2014
Living your life

Living your life

My last post discussed regrets and how we process them. It got me thinking about how we handle them and what we can do differently.

I read an article about a hospice nurse who recorded the common regrets of the dying patients with whom she worked. The two top regrets are interesting and relatable. First, people generally wished they’d had the courage to live a more authentic life. They looked back on life and realised the many occasions in which they had capitulated to external pressure. They wished they’d taken more opportunities to follow their hearts.

The second regret was wishing that they hadn’t worked so hard. In a world where success is often measured by what we do and how well we do it, the correlation between job and identity appears not to be fulfilling in the long run. If deathbed wisdom is any guide then people would prefer to have taken off more days and spent more time with friends and family or to pursue their passion and purpose.

In this regard, life really can get in the way of living. Most of us can’t simply ‘chuck it in’ and live a life to our own rules and pursuing our passions, regardless of how inspiring that sounds. But imagine we made space for some of that now, rather than doing nothing or putting it off until retirement or when we have time? Plan some time to make a start. Even a few hours a week will make you feel better, provide more balance and allow you to deal better with the not-so-inspiring requirements of life.

When you think about your regrets, consider what you might do to avoid them in the first place. Are you willing to take a day off occasionally to spend time with those you care about? Are you willing to take it a little easier at work and leave a little earlier? What would happen if you left work at lunchtime and turned up at your child’s sports day?

Regrets about regret

November 3, 2014
Life's too short for regrets

Life’s too short for regrets

My wife and I were driving home from a weekend away and were talking about some of the things we regret. Fortunately, for both of us, marriage was not on the list! The conversation stemmed from the passage of time, and now, with our children becoming adults, where the childhood years went.

My wife regretted not letting our children be ‘freer’; allowing the girls to wear their fairy dresses as much as they wanted and not caring if they became dirty or ruined from overuse. And taking them to ballet, despite the fact they hadn’t show any interest in dancing.

For me, it was putting my career first in the misguided notion that my success in the business world would pave a better life for my family. It took me twenty years to realise the folly in that.

We both agreed that we were better parents to our son, child number three, as we were older, more experienced and, then in our thirties, applying a more balanced perspective on life. Now, as grandparents for the first time, in our fifties, we’re in the ‘sweet spot’ of life and have the time, energy and patience to be awesome in this new priority-leading role.

Regret is a strange beast. Our children grew up with every opportunity; wonderful holidays, excellent education, love and support and we enjoy a close relationship with each of them to this day. So what is there to regret? As we drove and talked, we realised we were looking back based on the values and experience we have now.

Back then, money was tight; we couldn’t afford the ballet lessons or to replace the fairy dresses so we prioritised swimming lessons and a family holiday. My wife gave up her career to be a full-time mum, a goal we had set very early on. Our mortgage seemed insurmountable and I thought striving for the next career rung would make that easier.

And of course it did. And then we did the best with what we had. We were the best parents we could be with our relative inexperience.

So perhaps now through older and more experienced eyes we need to give ourselves a break on the regrets and focus on making today great. So when my nearly three-year-old grandson tells me that I’m the best grandpa in the world, well, I believe him.

Where is the meaning in the tragedy of the world?

September 22, 2014
Sometimes we need to accept things as they are ...

Sometimes we need to accept things as they are …

In my last post I discussed the need to look within to find the meaning of life rather than waiting for someone to provide the answer or show us the way. Yes, but how can we possibly reconcile personal meaning when the world is in such turmoil?

Perhaps the answer is that meaning and turmoil must co-exist. Can we expect to wait until the world is perfect before we seek our own, and very personal, meaning?

Why should we believe that wherever there is a problem there must also be a solution? As unpalatable as this may be to accept, it may be reality. So wouldn’t it make sense to start with ourselves and hope the benefits from discovering our personal meaning spread, or are we content to sit here forever waiting for the lights to change to green?

Let’s face facts. For many, the world is only fitfully penetrable by reason, and past deeds weigh upon present aspirations to extinguish them. The pressures of the world can even threaten to emotionally destroy us.

You may not think in these terms, but look around. What if it’s only by keeping our heads down as we pick a path through the minefield of existence that we can we hope to survive, paying homage to cruelly capricious gods of our own creation who scarcely deserve respect, let alone veneration?

Are you ready to give up and allow this level of thinking to direct your life?

Perhaps ignorance is bliss after all.

I believe there’s more to life’s meaning than wishful thinking, sentimental humanism or an idealistic panacea.

But you have to work for it.

Most aren’t prepared to do that.

Skynet, penguins and the meaning of life

September 8, 2014
I think I'm self aware ...

Navigating self awareness.

In the Terminator movies of the mid 80s, Skynet was an advanced artificial intelligence that became self-aware at 2:14 am on August 29th, 1997.

Earlier, upon its creation, Skynet had begun to learn at a geometric rate, and removed humans from its decision-making processes, making them irrelevant. Once self-aware, Skynet saw humanity as a threat to its existence, triggered a nuclear holocaust, and deployed an army of terminator machines against the very people who built it.

Are we really afraid of computers becoming self-aware or are we using stories, books and movies to process our own self-awareness? Such storytelling is successful when it addresses our deepest fears, and ‘self-awareness’ rates highly among them.

Why is that? Perhaps this is a key component of our quest to understand why we’re here. Humans are distinguished from other animals by our capacity to bring our existence into question.
Immediate situations may be problematic to a penguin, but, as the theory goes, humans are the only animals who confront their own mortality; and therefore life’s meaning – as a question, source of anxiety, ground for hope, burden, gift and most commonly as a source of fear – is amplified with each passing year.

And this is not least because we’re aware, as penguins are presumably not, that our existence is finite. We talk about the ‘human condition’, whereas it’s unlikely that penguins, tucked away in their burrows at night, brood on the purpose of being penguins. They live in the ‘now’, which, in recent times, has been promoted as a means to mental serenity and spiritual awakening.

Does that mean that penguins are ahead of humans in becoming spiritually enlightened? Perhaps. But if we’re burdened by the ability to think beyond our bodily senses and speculate on our demise, shouldn’t we use that to our advantage?

Knowing, and ultimately accepting, our finality provides us with the context to enjoy life and not float along aimlessly. We can use this knowledge to enjoy the ‘now’ and direct our lives, and the time we have, to live in a way that expresses purpose and meaning.