Posts Tagged ‘zen’

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?


A force for good

June 25, 2013
Finding your ki

Finding your ki

You may have heard the term ki. It’s a Japanese word for ‘energy’ or ‘life force’; it’s the natural energy in the Universe that makes up everything. Think about it as positive energy that we can tap into and use in our lives.

You’re already doing it, so it’s nothing too mystical, but actively applying it to your life can create fantastic results. For example, it’s amazing the energy boost you can get from associating with excited and motivated people, being excited by the possibilities of a new project or challenge achieving a major goal.

In Chinese the term is chi and they have a saying that ‘chi follows yi’ where yi is the mind or intention. So logically when you associate with positive people and ‘charge’ your energy you can focus it in the areas that make you feel unstoppable.

If we think of ki or chi energy as a kind of life force then it makes sense that it gives us a feeling of vitality, of wanting to get the most out of life. When we allow this positive energy to combine with the power of the mind, specifically focusing on the good and a positive mindset, then the result is not just a vague happy feeling but directed positivity.

If our thoughts create our reality, or at the very least our perception of that reality, then doesn’t it makes sense that we’re better off when the majority of our thoughts are positive?

Buddha said ‘All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think is what we become’.

Our past doesn’t define our future so we can start with a clean slate. Learn from the past but don’t let it define you. If you’ve made mistakes, failed, given up early, not chased your goals or procrastinated, that doesn’t define who you are now. Likewise past successes don’t guarantee future ones either.

Approach the day with a clear mind, a positive outlook and a sense of wonder that means anything is possible. Find your ki and harness its power for success.

How do you get what you want?

December 12, 2011

Getting what you want - it's your move!

My last post explored how creating a success mindset allows your subconscious to help form your reality. We also discussed why believing in yourself is so important.

This is an important foundation, but in reality you can’t simply wish something into existence. Deciding what you want, setting a plan, beating procrastination, being prepared to try, dealing with failure and trying again is what makes it happen.

Unfortunately this is where many people get it wrong. Creating the correct mindset is vital but so is action. Understanding that there is no traction without action is the second part of the equation. Positive affirmations, vision statements and creating an emotional bond to your desires are not enough.

Take your list of goals and write a one-page plan for each; a plan on how you’re going to achieve that goal. This is a list of action steps that you take sequentially to reach your objective.

The great benefit in doing so is to break your task down into individual activities which are smaller, achievable and can be done within a specific time frame. And then you start. When you have a plan you create an intention and that leads to action, which in turn creates progress.

Review your plan after completing each step; it will change as you learn, so don’t be afraid to make adjustments and improve your program. Grab your diary and write an action step in for a specific day. Hold yourself accountable. Success is the result of many small steps moving towards a clearly defined goal.

When you start, interesting things happen. First you’ll experience a wonderful sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Second you’ll realise the value in your history. When you take action you’ll find your experiences, even those you thought were bad or a waste of time, will help you. You’ll start to understand the wisdom of your journey thus far, and how this accumulated knowledge can help you to reach your goals.

This is a great reward of life. We’re here to grow, achieve and to reach our full potential. We’re far greater than we ever give ourselves credit for. The human spirit is boundless. Most of us have barely begun to understand what we’re capable of. So get to your action list and make it count!


Making your dreams feel real

November 28, 2011

                                                            From dreams to reality …

In the last post I challenged you to write down what your ideal life looks like in five years. I hope you enjoyed the process. Now it’s time to take the next step.

This is to look at what you’ve written and find within it a list of goals. Without considering ‘How I will achieve these’ just yet, highlight the statements on your list that work as goals.

The vision of ‘I will start a business to work on timber boats, my true passion, so I can live in a beautiful old home in a small town by the ocean, have time for writing and spend more time with my children to experience the pleasure of life …’ becomes a list of specific goals:

– I’m working towards starting a boat restoration business within the next three years

– I’m starting to research, locate and will purchase an older home in Surfbeach with ocean views

– I work hard in the spring/summer season to allow me time (four months per year) to travel with my children during the holidays, and also pursue my writing. I also structure my day to be free by 4.00 pm to spend time with my children when they get home from school.

These are great goals and are aligned to what you really want in life. If you had just sat down to write goals without a vision, you may have come up with a more traditional list that didn’t reflect your true desires. The more specific and detailed your list the better, as this enables you to paint a clear mental picture of what you plan to achieve.

Goals work best when worded in the present tense and in a style that feels right to you. This allows your subconscious to accept them as real and to begin working on them for you.

As you work through your five-year vision you may find you end up with many goals, or perhaps just a few. If you have many, the next step is to prioritise these to the six most important, 10 at the most if you have a few small ones in the mix. This is important because you can’t do everything at once. If you attempt too much you will lose the clarity and focus you require.

Don’t be concerned; you can revisit these goals when you have achieved the first ones. This provides for healthy and stimulating growth and a wonderful sense of achievement for many years to come.  In our next post we’ll look at how we turn these into reality!


Who are you?

September 26, 2011

Who are you really?

Do you know who you are?

No longer an impressionable teenager, indeed now on the high side of forty, I’m expected to know exactly who I am, what I want and how to be ‘comfortable in my skin’. But I rarely feel that way. Try as I might I’m continually bombarded with instruction on how I should live my life.

The world has a plan; what we should be doing in our twenties, what thirty looks like, where we should be by forty, and a different set of expectations for when we’re over fifty. Each decade nicely packaged like the days of the week – seven incremental steps to the final curtain call; and a celebration at each transition point, that reluctant stepping stone of birthdays ending in a zero.

Life’s like the days of the week. We start on Monday fresh and new, hoping the next few days hurry on by. Wednesday is mid week and we reflect on what we have done and what’s left to do. Thursday is our most productive day and Friday the most enjoyable, where the work is done and we can relax. Saturday is time off for us and our family and Sunday is a day of rest.

And each decade of our life means something different. As we grow we proudly proclaim ten, finally a big kid, double figures. We rush to twenty wanting the world; thirty is the checkpoint for what we’ve achieved and what’s left to do. By forty we feel the loss of youth and reflect on which of life’s boxes we’ve managed to tick. Fifty is to see if we’ve made it, sixty is time to take our foot off the pedal to reflect and seventy is Sunday, the day of rest. If we’re really lucky it’s a long weekend so we get to enjoy another day off to sleep in; eighty.

When the world dictates how we should live our life, it becomes harder to be true to our authentic selves. How exactly do we align ourselves to what we’re meant to be?

Maintaining the mojo, baby!

August 24, 2011

Leaving the everyday behind ...

There’s a dark and frightening place that most self-help gurus won’t tell you about.

It usually creep ups when you’re busy being busy.

It is this: Have you lost your mojo?

It’s when you wake up one morning and realise you really want to do something different but don’t know what. And that your current work feels empty and meaningless. Afterall, you’re not getting any younger and is this all there is?

Sometimes it’s a side effect of success: you’ve strived for years to get to a certain position, you achieve it, and the euphoria wears off. Perhaps you just need a Xanax and a good lie down.

It may be a temporary plateau that needs to be crossed. It may be a signpost to look further and make changes. What was right yesterday may not be right tomorrow.

A good place to start is to examine your life as a whole. Perhaps you have put so much time and effort into work that you’ve let other things slide. It may be time to rekindle friendships, take up that dormant hobby or have a holiday with your family. It can be fun to ‘reboot’ your life!

We become complacent when things are going well. Take stock of your life and see what you’re thankful for: you enjoy your job and the people you work with; you’re paid well and have a certain level of freedom. You’re family life is good and everyone is healthy. There are lots of people that would love that level of ‘normality’.

Now look at what you still would like to achieve both professionally and personally. Set yourself new goals; goals that can benefit you, your family and your business. Be thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved, then go and find out ‘what’s next’. A charity, hobby or helping others may provide the meaning you’re missing and will again provide relevance to your life. There can be great satisfaction in sharing and giving back.

Such activities aren’t a distraction from a productive life, they make a productive life! This is called work-life balance. So go and get your mojo back, baby. Oh yeah!

Making the break

August 12, 2011

Relax and enjoy life ...

Aloha from Waikiki beach Hawaii, a truly beautiful place. I’m sitting on the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the beach and feeling totally relaxed and realise this is the first time I’ve felt like this for a very long time.

The tropical paradise setting certainly helps and it’s a very different state to what I’m used to experiencing at home. Of course the week before we left was mayhem; far too many things to get done and can I really leave work in the hands of others for 2 weeks?

By the second day I was relaxed and feeling great, reconnecting with my wife and enjoying the many wonderful activities available. The things I was  concerned about last week have faded into insignificance, at least for the time being. Early morning surfs, relaxing on the beach, reading by the pool and enjoying leisurely meals all adding to the relaxed lifestyle. Quite a contrast to grabbing a sandwich between a seemingly never ending schedule of meetings.

And of course the business keeps running and people are doing what they need to and everything works just fine. For many years when I took a holiday I would constantly be on the phone and email believing this was necessary to keep things going. It’s not. I now leave my phone in the room and spend just a few minutes looking at email in the evening.

Already after 4 days I feel renewed and will return with a fresh attitude, a new perspective and lots of great ideas that come from clearing my mind of the day to day clutter. When was the last time you truly got away from your job or business? Are you willing to let those around you step up and show you what they’re made of? Think of the benefits to your health, life and motivation to allow some down time to recharge?

It’s difficult to make the break but worth it when you do. Last night was a wonderful dinner cruise; today we’re swimming with dolphins, tomorrow a trip to the north shore and a visit to Pearl Harbour. That, and a lot of white space, is all I have in the diary for the week. When will you allow it to be your turn?

The structure of success

July 25, 2011

Go hard or go home!

Success is a continuous journey to better ourselves, overcome our limitations and work towards our goals and aspirations.  There are no shortcuts; the journey requires perseverance, patience and constant work to lead the life we really want.

I’m amazed at the number of people who consistently fail to take action over many years and then wake up one morning and expect it all to happen immediately. They run around looking for the secret to success and expecting it to be easy. It doesn’t work that way.

It’s easy to spend time talking about making changes to your life. It’s good to talk and articulate what you should do, but the real test is whether you’re prepared to take action. Sometimes you just have to start. Try, fail, try again, have a small win, build on it; it will take time, usually years, so don’t allow yourself to be discouraged. The good news is that it’s never too late to start.

Success is not something that you can have just when you feel like it. Success requires discipline and regularity. Discipline is the motivation to continue doing the right thing – after a while it becomes a habit, a way of life, and you enjoy the benefits.

Success is exponential. The more you experience it the more you get. The first requirement is a desire for something better. Even if our goals and dreams are very modest, it is vital to have something to aim for. Try writing down a list of five items you would like to improve and give them priority in your life.

What’s luck got to do with it?

July 21, 2011


Good luck or good management?

The choices you make directly influence your results.  Which means success comes down to deciding what you want and then taking focused and consistent action towards it. Luck has very little to with it.

Some people make choices to be CEOs. Others make choices to do what they do. There’s no good or bad luck either way … there’s just living out those choices. Being a CEO or business owner is not for everyone, and that’s fine: people have diverse goals, aspirations and interests.

However, anyone can run into trouble if they set goals they ‘must’ achieve to be successful. The problem is wanting something but not doing anything about it. This is called dreaming, or waiting for success to find you. Often for such people, others’ success must only have been through good luck.

Successful people don’t require luck; they create success through positivity. They do whatever it takes to be in the right place, prepared, at the right time, as often as possible.

Persistence is a key; success doesn’t often present itself on the first try.

But some don’t see all that, they just see the results of others through envious eyes.

Successful people seek out opportunities that align with their goals. Once they find these opportunities they pursue them relentlessly. If opportunities don’t present, successful people create them.  What’s luck got to do with that?

Time and white space

July 12, 2011

white time

In an earlier series of posts we explored why time appears to pass quicker with each year. Time seems to fly by and we feel the pressure to accomplish more in less time.

For many of us, time is a commodity. We talk about using time, buying time, saving time, spending time or wasting time. We’re experiencing a time compression effect that makes us think we’ve less time to do the things we want to do. This contributes to more stress and less space for recreational activities. We have no white space in our lives, with every minute accounted for.

We mistakenly try to save time by eliminating the activities that add meaning to our lives: time spent on hobbies, leisure pursuits and even family. No white space for anything meaningful.

The cult of productivity dominates our work culture.  The philosophy of productivity is to do things we don’t enjoy doing as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to have more time for what we do enjoy. But strangely enough, the upshot is that we actually spend less time enjoying life.

Treating time like a commodity doesn’t create white space, but mindfulness does.

When we’re completely in the now, we have no awareness of time. When you’re doing something, especially something you enjoy, remove the guilt and thoughts of what else you should be doing. Allow yourself this mental time out Be present, with a clear mind and an appreciation of  now, life and the spaces between.