Wednesday, January 31, 2007

is it just a number?


A number...yes. But does that number represent the level of our intelligence, ability, mindset, happiness, success, or is it just a number?

As we all know, many people experience growing anxieties as they get older. And often, the main source of those anxieties is just that fact itself - they are growing older. With each passing birthday, each landmark age that we reach, we moan and groan. It is as though we have one eye on death, and are counting down to it with each passing year, fearing that we are running out of time. In truth, it doesn't really work that way, because we don't really know when we are going to die. In reality, it could be tomorrow. So, rather than complain that each passing year means we are closer to death, that we have one year less, shouldn't we rejoice that we survived death, that we have had one year more?

I am not saying that age doesn't bring with it certain physical and mental deteriorations...because it does. Obviously you can't run that fast anymore, climb the stairs that quickly, or finish your mental sums as promptly. But age should bring with it experience and wisdom, and an improved way of looking at the world.

And just because you are getting older, it does not mean that your quality of life will depreciate. It does not mean you must stop learning, and it certainly does not mean you have to be become less happy. Happiness levels are unrelated to age.

Therefore - seize the day, and live every moment. Your life is in your hands. And if there are certain things you had always wanted to do, but feel it is too late now, remember...

Better late than never, better now than later!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing

With the weather changing for the better but most of the population unsure of what mother nature will send their way we can always look to the consistent yet rarely earth shattering Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging world.

Well I have just about had enough of people that whine about ‘rich’ people having a cause. Have you ever been around people that let off blasts like, “Well they wouldn’t be saving the rain forest if they didn’t have all that money?” Every day I hear a variety of callous remarks directed towards the Oprahs, Bonos and the generally successful of our world. Here is my take. They have money; they feel like they can make a difference because of that money and so they try to do just that; make a difference. Let them spend their time and money trying to make this a better place to live. Chances are this is what made them great people and extremely successful to start with. We should all be so driven.

The other thing that is very ironic about the blamers or people that whine are that they tend to be two things: jealous and broke. Do your own test but when you hear someone talking about a celebrity just looking for publicity while they invest millions of dollars in time and money in their favourite charity. Ask them if they are broke? I will guarantee you that 100% are either broke financially or broke mentally…….

From that little tirade let us explore the attitude people have towards money. Ask a room full of friends if they are motivated by fear when it comes to work and money. Largely the group will say that they aren’t because that is the correct moral choice. Who, after all, wants to look like fear is a reason to get up in the morning?

Now as k the same group if security is a motivator for earning money and going to work every day. Largely the group will all raise their hands and say yes.

Here is the thing that makes this all wrong and worth thinking about. Security is based on insecurity and thus is the exact same thing as being motivated by fear. Insecurity is fear. Many of us feel we are working or living to a higher moral standard than we actually are. Most of us live and understand only how to operate on a platform of insecurity. I look to people like the Dali Lama to show me that security is based in personal enlightenment. I also look at people like Donald Trump to showcase that a personal drive can always help you bounce back financially. [Note: The Donald has lost more than a billion dollars and then returned to being a billionaire because he believes in himself and is secure in that belief.]

Moral: Live the life you want without fear. The fear will hold you back from being the greatest person you were destined to be.

Well that’s it; a couple of points to digest and ponder while you rush about. Comments are welcome and we will see you next week for some more Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging world.

Monday, January 29, 2007

when the power goes off.

as much benefit as there is to all of technological advancements, the most obvious detractor is the fact that when the power goes off, we don't seem to know how to solve problems

there was something to be said about the pencil and paper method of recording that can't be 'felt' through syncing our blackberries to our laptops. i can take my i-river on a 5 day tip with me [if i want and need to listen to music)and plug new batteries into it to keep it going. conversely, the i-pod has a finite charge after which i need to plug it in... to what?

on 60 minutes last night, they spoke of computer chips in refrigerators that will create lists for us on when we are low on something. is this really necessary? shouldn't we be headed in the direction of attempting to engage MORE of our intellect rather than LESS?

it seems like all of these things cater to our desire to expend the least amount of energy possible as we work our day to day lives. well, i think the saying you get out of life what you put into it could be used as a useful warning that we should stop consuming this way.

refining, re-inventing, and recycling are great ways to keep us on the cutting edge of life, yet we must venture into this water with caution, otherwise when the power goes off... so too will our ability to function. i'm as big of a gadget guy as there is, yet i also know how to do long division.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cycle of Success

I am lucky in my job because I frequently get to talk to the people I work with about success. There is one thing that consistently comes from theses conversations; the majority of people I know think that success is linear. They climb the “ladder of success” or “work their way up the corporate chain” or “are trying to get to the top”. I really believe that this way of thinking does not set you up for success; in fact it makes the ultimate goal look too far away and gives you no concrete plans on how to make it to the top.

Success is a cyclical process of events that will repeat themselves over and over again until an ultimate goal is achieved. Once that ultimate goal is achieved then the cycle starts over again with a new focus and purpose. There is no top of the chain or final step, just a chance to recreate your success in a new and innovative way. The cycle of success is made up of four parts that happen in order and then regenerate into a new cycle. The four parts of the cycle are risk, challenge, opportunity, and then success.

Anything worth going after in life involves some risk and definitely involves a commitment. This means that you have to commit to the risks in which you are about to take. By taking risks we open ourselves to many different possibilities. It is when we are committed to these risks that the possibility for success really begins. If there is no risk involved, no sacrifice, then there is no success; you are simply doing something that you already know how to do. By staying in your comfort zone you become a rat in a maze and chase the same cheese every day. While you might accomplish what you are searching for, you have in no way achieved a success because you have already been there. But, by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and walking into the arena of uncertainty, you create a challenge, which is the beginning of the pathway towards success.

The challenge is what lies ahead of you and is what causes your uncertainty. This challenge will have you question things about yourself and create certain levels of arousal. This arousal is your body’s way of telling you that you are entering an area that it has not been to before (thus outside of your comfort zone) and if the arousal gets too high it becomes anxiety or stress. The most important part of the challenge is to make it achievable, but not easy; this will allow you to stay away from detrimental stress and anxiety while using your elevated arousal levels to your advantage. A challenge (think goal) where the outcome is questionable but achievable is a positive and motivating entity that will ultimately allow you to really feel your success and therefore learn from your journey. When you hit the point of challenge you have to ask yourself “is this something I can achieve if I apply maximum effort?” When you can answer yes to that then you are ready to face the opportunity you have created for yourself.

Once you have taken the risk to set an appropriate challenge, you now are facing opportunity. Opportunity is something that you create because you put yourself in a position to accept it. Nobody can give you an opportunity. Opportunity is a choice. There are times when opportunity arises through an outside source, but you are the one who put yourself in the position to grab it and it was offered to you because of what you did to get there. Nowhere in history has someone been given an opportunity that they didn’t deserve. They took risks, challenged themselves, and someone saw that and decided they deserved that opportunity to further prove themselves. By accepting the opportunity you face all of the adversity that comes with it. Any opportunity worth pursuing will not be an easy road, as you will face times where you think you cannot get it done, but this comes with the territory. You get the chance to empower yourself and make decisions that will directly lead to the success or failure of what you are trying to achieve.

Success is a direct reflection of your ability to make the most out of your opportunity. Notice I didn’t say that success is accomplishing your goal because it isn’t. Success is learning from the journey you took and walking away from it with more firepower the next time you set out to accomplish something. You cannot learn something new about yourself and not succeed because these lessons will carry over to your next risk. Through your journey you will know certain things about yourself that you did not know going into it and that by all means is a success, if and only if you use this knowledge to better yourself in the future. The “satisfactory completion of something” has nothing to with external accomplishments; it has everything to do with internal conflict and resolution of that conflict. Believe me this is true. You can break a sales record for the month in your office and still come in second to someone who had an even more amazing month. Does this take away from your accomplishment because you came in second? Does this mean you were not successful? In every Olympics someone breaks a World Record and comes in second. Does this mean that they failed? By being focused on outcome alone the answer is yes. By looking back at the journey it took them to get there and the effort it took them to achieve such great heights, the answer has to be no, they didn’t fail, they were successful because they accomplished something and became stronger in the process.

Success does not have a defining point where someone can look at you and say you are successful, success is something that you feel, that you get to experience, and that you get to share. It is taking a risk and riding it out to a decision that you get to deem a success or a failure and then having the courage to take another risk and start the cycle over again. Don’t get me wrong, you can be the wrong person in the wrong situation and fail miserably. I’ve seen it happen. But does that mean you are a failure? No, it means that you took the wrong risk, the wrong challenge, and the wrong opportunity, but success is to be defined with what you do from the information you gained. Do you sit on your experience and make the same mistakes again, or do you make the necessary internal changes and come out on the other side the next time? You decide.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Oh Yeah!

Do you remember the last time you were out with that great friend you have trouble staying in touch with? You know, the one who, every time you see each other, it always ends in "This was great. It's been too long. Why don't we do this more often?"

Yes, we've all been there, and despite any guilt we may have for not calling or keeping in touch as often as we should, that is not the point of today's entry. Today is about the great feeling you have in that person's presence. It's that, 'oh yeah, I forgot how good this is!' feeling wherein you forget how much invigoration you receive through interaction with certain people, travel to certain places, and engagement in certain activities.

Today is about setting yourself up for an unusually rewarding weekend through unusually simple and effective means. Let's look at some more 'oh yeah!' moments...

  1. Unstructured time. Wake up early (not too early, you deserve your rest) and drive somewhere you normally don't go. Grab a coffee, sit and relax, read the paper, people watch, have breakfast, do a little shopping, whatever comes to mind... just don't go with a plan or a budget of anything less than a few hours you can spend unstructured. If you have a family, plan some unstructured time at home together if this doesn't happen often enough to create a better sense of home and family.

  2. Nature. Hike, river raft or kayak, walk in the trails, see the forest, or ocean, or mountains or plains; whatever is close to you that you may have taken for granted.

  3. Nothing. Lie in bed for the first couple of hours with your spouse. Breakfast and coffee in bed, and enjoy each others' company. Talk about nothing, everything, something, and do nothing. Note: this is only rewarding if you are normally busy doing everything most of the time. If you are lazy, try # 2 instead of this one.

  4. Throw a get together. Invite your closest friends over, and have a great time just because you want to see your friends.

  5. Plan a vacation. It might be 2 years away based on time and budget, but decide today where you want to go on your next epic adventure, and plan it all - where you'll go, how much it will cost, and how long it will take you to save. then break that down and if it is $20 a day, put a 20 dollar bill into your shoebox, etc every day and then take it into a special high interest account you open that you never touch just for this vacation.

  6. Get a life by planning for death. Write out a list of all the goals you'd like to acheive before you die. Break it down according to type (family goals, business, physical/ health, financial, travel, etc). Pick one at a time and start hashing them out.

  7. Learn. see a foreign movie in a smaller theatre, read a book the store clerk recommends, try something to enhance your brain.

  8. Laugh. Go to a comedy festival, rent a stand up comic on DVD, have a family comedy night just for fun, plan a scavenger hunt full of insane concepts. Wear a Halloween costume to a nightclub in May.

  9. Listen. Visit your older relatives in a home, or visit older persons you don't even know and listen. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and listen. Listen to sick kids at the childrens hospital.

  10. Live. Realize that the tenth thing you can do different this weekend to make it special is anything at all. Break the rules, make the rules, do something different and realize that you NEVER have an excuse to say "I did nothing this weekend" unless you planned on it because you never do nothing.

Get busy living this weekend. And then Monday morning, realize that a new list will be coming your way shortly called "Oh Yeah!" for weekdays. Then you can get busy living all the time, and tell everyone you know how easy and fun it was.

Friday, January 26, 2007

be careful with what you know.

knowing things that others don't... but want to, can be an enticingly liberating feeling but must be approached with caution. too often the known information is used as leverage to further oneself instead of a more positive purpose; such as helping out or offerring advice or simply listening and keeping your mouth shut.

my personal train of thought is to be cautious around people who enjoy talking about others. chances are they are talking about you the same way when you are not in the room. in a way you can turn that positioning into your advantage by using them to get information by baiting them with tidbits of irrelevant, untrue or exciting bites they will certainly take and repeat but don't impact you. this way, they get what they want and you can recieve the infromation you want & need.

people who like to position themselves by abusing knowledge have no trouble talking about themselves, hence, stroking their ego is as easy as stoking your pets head. start the conversation by speaking about them and the rest will pretty much take care of itself.

for those who may be reading this asking themselves 'do i do this?'. well, if you have to ask, you probably are guilty and if accumulating knowledge to position yourself above others is your raison detre, know most people can sniff you out like a rotting sardine under your car seat after a hot long weekend.

knowledge is not only a power, its a resource that should not be abused for personal gain.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why Does It Matter?

Sometimes when we have a lot on the go and life gets demanding, we tend to look for the easy way out (let's not kid ourselves- that's not the only time we look for the easy way out). We often ask ourselves "why does it all matter?"

The simple answer is because everyone is watching. Enter our latest customer service superstar, Beverly. Beverly is a manager at Thai Longh Noodle House in Calgary, Alberta, located on the NW corner of 17Ave, and 11 ST SW. The first time I met Beverly, she asked my name, and took time out of her busy day to chat and find out all about me. The next time I met her, she addressed me by name, and asked if I wanted the same things as last time. I tested her, and sure enough she got it right.

I've been back 3 times since (also I've sent 10 people there), and actually interviewed her last time. This is the point of today's entry... how someone from a completely different country speaks the exact same language when it comes to customer service. The interview will be laid out as Q (question), A (answer), and L (lesson)

Q: How many hours do you work each week, and how do you stay so positive?
A: I work 14 hours a day, 6 days a week... (and despite this)... I stay positive because it's not our customers' problem if I have a bad day. It's very important to customer service that we leave our personal problems at home.
L: If you work in customer service, it is your job to be 'on' all the time, and leave your problems at home.

Q: You must love what you do then?
A: I have my tough days but through positive self talk (almost there, just one more hour or this next customer could become a regular) and a positive attitude, there are no bad days.
L: We always have a choice in every situation, and regarding our attitudes. Positive mantras such as 'every day is a good day' help us see the good in any situation.

Q: What is the reward for such hard work?
A: The hard work is the reward, and even more rewards come from hard work. Before this, I had 2 full time jobs, and now I work hard because I make people happy, and the more people I make happy, the more happy people I deal with at work and the more I love my job.
L: Work hard, get rewarded.
L: When you give without expectation of reward, more comes back to you than you gave in the first place.

So perhaps from the above example, the previous entry on Lynnette, and what we reiterate every day here on swim upstream, we may be able to see more clearly that...
  • Service is an international language.
  • Life is simple. Do the right thing and be a good person, and life opens up with possibilities for you.
  • Combine your skill set with your interests and passions, and you will make more money (keep in mind I happy customer has sent her 10 more customers ijn 1 month)

This is not new. It has just been forgotten in our quick fix, easy answer society, but the good news is bringing more postivity to what you do every day actually is a quick fix, it is an easy answer, the challenge is just doing it consistently,....

but we think you're up for the challenge because now you know why it matters.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Just Ask!"

The simple three letter word 'Ask' is the most powerful negotiating tool you will ever have and it is the most powerful persuasion tool that you will ever have.

Why is that?

Simply because the biggest hurdle that we create comes from our own level of confidence. We create our own internal roadblocks for success in the form of self-doubt. We often convince ourselves that we won't get something because of some rationale that we make up for ourselves in our minds before we even get around to asking for it and this self-doubt makes us not ask for what we want. Why? Because no one likes rejection. It's painful.

Humans are motivated in two ways:
(1) We try to get as far away from pain as possible, and
(2) We are attracted to that which gives us pleasure.

Rejection is 'embarrassing' and it 'hurts' our ego, hence it is painful, so we try to get as far away from rejection as possible by choosing the safe route and walking the other way. We tend to justify walking away from a rejection by telling ourselves that if someone wanted us to have something, they would offer it to us. The downfall in this thinking is that we do not know why a person might not offer us something. There is a chance that they will say no, but most of the time, it is because they do not know that we wanted something to begin with.

For example, a girl may not wake up thinking about going out on a date with you. So, if you ask a girl out and she says "No," then realize that you did not have the girl before you asked her out and you don't have the girl now, so really what has changed?


You have already lived your entire life without dating this girl, so now you know how to deal with it. Simply move on to the next one and play the numbers game. That is what life is. Because if you don't ask, you will never receive. Just like if you don't shoot, you will never score. Don't fear rejection, unless you wish opportunities to float past you daily.

It is not a secret that the most successful people out there ask for things that they want to seize. When you want something, simple ask for it. If you don't ask, then you will ABSOLUTELY 100% won't receive. If you do ask, then there is at least a chance that you might receive. Either way, you stand to lose nothing by like Nike's slogan

just do it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing

On a gloomy, dark and wet evening we present to you as always the Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging world.

I had originally presented the idea of discussing observations about the integrity of our word but a more intriguing document floated across my desk this week from none other than the local Member of the legislative Assembly [MLA in these parts]. The title: A Strategy for Combating Childhood Obesity and Physical Inactivity in B.C.

First we must note that in order to combat these problems of obesity and inactivity we have to all first agree and realize that there, indeed, is a problem. As mentioned here in the swipupstream blogs we have seen these problems in there varying forms for ages now.

Here are just a few of the 36 total recommendations [just recommendations that should be acted upon] that the Strategy decided over a one year in depth study.

  • Promote fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Expand farmer’s markets
  • The government utilize is recently formed ActNow BC agency to coordinate fitness, diet and wellness plans
  • Ministry of health to create and put into place a Type 2 diabetes plan
  • Remove vending machines serving junk food from schools
  • Remove all food designated as “not recommended” from schools and only have foods that follow guideline
  • Remove the tax benefits on soft drinks and candies and all unhealthy food
  • Negotiate with food providers/manufacturers that they voluntarily reduce sugar, fat and salt content in their foods
  • Work with manufacturers to enhance corporate self regulation on food marketing
  • Ministry of Education promote and grow programs that educate children on healthy eating habits
  • Expand school fruit and vegetable snack program
  • Expand hot lunch subsidies so everyone can have a nutritious lunch if they need it
  • Develop a school physical activity program and encourage physical activity in school
  • Create a safe routes to school program so children can walk, run or ride their bike to school
  • Create a Cycling Infrastructure partnership Program so more people use sustainable transport that has a healthy benefit
  • Develop annual awards for developers and urban land managers to recognize best practices in terms of recreation, densification and zoning practices that encourage physical activity
  • Develop positive marketing programs that encourage physical activity and healthy nutrition

Okay, there are some of the recommendations [edited for brevity so you can all get the point but get back to work soon] that have been presented by our local government. This took them a year to make these possible solutions. Some are great and I really hope some took little more than the committee sitting in the room taking notes. Removing junk food from schools doesn’t need much studying in my opinion. Just get it on the list, then use the money we saved talking about it to actually get into the schools with some fork lifts and get the damn vending machines out.

As for actually increasing physical activity in schools we should have probably all thought about that when we started cutting funding and P.E. from the program. How much will it cost us to re-start the programs we used to have, which were already working. But I digress.

As of this writing 29 of the 36 total recommendations have been acted upon in a variety of forms. Of course at the government level it is never as fast as just going out and getting it done but I must confess that I am proud of this effort and happy to report that things are moving forward including an initiative to have over 20% of our local Vancouver [or British Columbian] population fit and active for the 2010 Olympics. Bold in this day and age but very impressive.

Our businesses have been asked to help implement some of these changes in any way that we can and as a swipupstream contributor I am more than happy to assist. Is there any way you can be involved? What action can you take to assist?

After all if a government and all of the red tape generally associated with it, is showing more forward motion than you are then how little are you doing? Whether it is global warming issues, health and nutrition or acting on issues you feel need to be brought forward into the public consciousness take action and get busy. Go from recommendation to personal solution as fast as you can.

It is wonderful, no matter how long it has taken, to see action being taken to curb the onslaught of obesity and inactivity in our children. Looks like the government has put its flippers on and gotten in the water; we are all going to benefit from a little more power as we swim up stream.

See you next week as we bring you another addition of the often amusing, sometimes enlightening and rarely masterful Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our swimupstream world.

Monday, January 22, 2007

trans am and the long road of life

remember the high school days where the kid a grade before you graduated, took up a trade, immediately to work bought all the beer and drove his new trans am around the school yard? you'd be at a party when he'd stoll over and say, ya... college and university suck,
i'm 20 years old and making tons of money. suckers.

fast forward 15-20 years and you run into that guy again at a reunion, party or bar. same guy, same habits, same car. he'll likely come over to you in his drunken state and proclaim.

"i'm so proud of you, you made it out of here. you know, i knew you were smart. i got a dead end job, make the same money, hang with the same people, shit... i still drive the same car" "man, how did you do it".

3 words bra.


see, there are those who live for the moment, and that's cool but there's a need to plan for the future. this is a huge challenge for todays instantly gratified youth / society who have an unconscious incompetence of what life will be like for them then... if they maintain the attitude they have now. their inability to think long term, and accomplish things in a step by step fashion, will eventually catch up with them and could render their habits, lifestyles, and automobiles.


think : plan : execute : live.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Path to a Destination

More and more often these days, you hear people say that they are concerned about the journey, not the destination. Funny, we all have the same destination…death. It should be obvious that the journey is the important focus in our lives, but as the world gets faster and more demanding, most of us lose focus and become destination driven. Our focus is driven by our goal orientation; we either have an outcome goal orientation (external) or process goal orientation (internal).

Outcome goals are defined as “goals that represent standards of performance that focus on the result”. This is what we deal with on a daily basis in our professional lives: get results, get recognition, get rewarded. It is no wonder that we have passed this on to our children, who walk into the work force expecting rewards and recognition for even the smallest of results. This is also why we have more corruption, cheating, and backstabbing in the workforce. Look at politicians, large corporations, and even major sports teams who consistently lie, cheat, and steal to achieve their envisioned outcome. They do not see anything but the finish line and will run over all who are in their way, feeling no enjoyment for anything other than their expected outcome.

Relying on an outcome goal orientation doesn’t mean that you are predisposed to being crooked; it just means that you are missing out on everything that makes up your success. Tunnel vision towards the end result leaves you only with the end result. There is no room for evaluating your actions and reactions, because you were either successful or you weren’t. In other words, you cannot grow because you don’t have the vision to see where you can make more efficient and productive decisions.

Process goals are defined as “goals that are focused on improvements relative to one’s own past performance”. These are goals that are introspective; they focus on the journey. You must first know something about yourself in order to use performance goals effectively. These are the goals that allow us to take success and make it more efficient. These are also the goals that allow us to take a failure and learn from it, so we are less likely to make the same mistakes we have already made.

Relying solely on performance goals does not make you an enlightened human. It is not realistic in this society to eliminate competition and so, by competing against yourself alone, you fail to prepare for the world and can become a more timid and less confident person. In focusing primarily on performance goals, you set yourself up to choose only the tasks in which you will be successful because you fear failure, or the idea of competition intimidates you.

The general idea is to have a balance between outcome and process goals. This is not a 50/50 balance because we spend much more time working towards goals then we do accomplishing them. The balance is loaded heavily on the process side, as this is where our focus consistently needs to be in order to be aware of the journey. So as we all near closer to our final destination, figure out your balance before the journey passes you by.

trans am and the road of life

remember the highschool days where the kid a grade before you graduated, took up a trade, bought all the beer and drove his new trans am around the school yard? you'd be at a party when he'd stoll over and say, ya... college and university suck,
i'm 20 years old and making tons of money. suckers.

fast forward 15-20 years and you run into that guy again at a reunion, party or bar. same guy, same habits, same car. he'll likely come over to you in his drunken state and proclaim.

"i'm so proud of you, you made it out of here. you know, i knew you were smart. i got a dead end job, make the same money, hang with the same people, shit... i still drive the same car" "man, how did you do it".

3 words bra.


see, there are those who live for the moment, and that's cool but there's a need to plan for the future. this is a huge challenge for todays instantly gratified youth / society who have an unconscious incompetence of what life will be like for them then... if they maintain the attitude they have now. their inability to think long term, and accomplish things in a step by step fashion, will eventually catch up with them and could render their habits, lifestyles, and automobiles.


think : plan : execute : live.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Generation _____________

Fill in the blanks:

XXL - Obesity at an all time high and only getting higher. Foods of choice - fries & gravy, pop, candy bars, chips - all empty calories. 26% of schools getting daily physical activity?? Full page spread in Sat. Globe & mail on our youth and their increasing health problems and girth.

Debt - Young people accumulating debt at a faster rate than any other generation - all with the justification that they are searching for happiness (thus not working jobs they don't like yet wearing designer this and designer that). If you missed the PBS special on this - you need to check it out.

Y - The children of us Gen X-er's --- but Y really should be written WHY - Why should I do this? Why should I do that? Why me? Why should I try? Why work, when everyone else will carry me? Why worry about the planet - no one else does, or I am not going to have to live with the damage? Why think for myself - when everyone else does it for me? Why move out - when my parents are paying for food and rent? Why save - when every credit card company or FAST CASH company will loan me money at 75% interest per minute (which I don't understand anyway).


Think about it fellow Gen X'er - look at what we are passing on to our kids. Obesity & Sloth, Gluttony and Complacency to name a few. Looks like a start to the Seven Deadly sins (Note: we have already talked about Greed, Envy at swimupstream!). Stopping the cycle starts with you...then with your kids. They will mimmick you! Just look at my 7 month old. I smile - she smiles. I eat squash - she eats squash. Simple really.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Exclamation... without the mark.

The conversation was free flowing with sharing, collaboration and laughter with the exception of one corner where there came a constant jab. We had anticipated its arrival from the moment the perpetrator stepped in the ring. Nervous and insecure as hell, it was all they could do to join right in and make that ‘lasting impression’, which had little impact beyond annoyance. As quickly as they injected themselves into the conversation, they retreated on their own accord leaving many of us pondering their point and purpose.

Increasingly, modes of communication have swung from the empathetic to the selfish, the interesting to the predictable and from the enjoyable to the frustrating through the medium of sarcasm. Sarcasm is loosely defined as ‘a form of wit intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule’(1) and is used predominantly in response to a question, statement or sentiment in conversation. However, sarcasm is also being inserted into the front end of interactions, seemingly in an attempt beat others to the punch by poking fun at our self before they get the chance. In either scenario, sarcasm is an inappropriate and unnecessary tool in our daily interactions. Could it be that we are becoming less skilled listeners? Has the pressure to ‘outdo’ become that pervasive, or do we simply lack the confidence to express ourselves without making fun of ourselves, or others? All three suggestions probably hold some merit to the epidemic, but none has more truth than the last. Lack of confidence.

By using sarcasm, we are exposing the fact we are low in confidence before its determined by others. Only then can we retreat into our safe haven on our own volition and not worry about making mistakes. We have all heard the phrase ‘I was just joking’ after a line or sentiment of sarcasm that has gone too far. Well, clinically speaking, everything that passes through the mouth, has to originate in the mind so what we really meant to say was “I just said something really silly and I am sorry”. Lets explore five easy ways to stifle sarcasm before it makes its way into our conversations.

1. Think before you speak. What impact does your response have on others? Is it positive or negative? Remember, if you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything.

2. Speak when you have something to say, rather than to say something. Is there legitimate opportunity to contribute or are you forcing your thoughts in?

3. Express more – impress less. Chances are if people don’t enjoy you for who you are, they will not enjoy you for who you aren’t.

4. Don’t bring sarcasm onto yourself. You will distance yourself from people who see self- confidence as a strength and make yourself an easy host for others with low self confidence.

5. Address sarcasm appropriately. If the option of calling people on their behavior is not comfortable, there is always option of walking away.

Keeping sarcasm at arms length, be it towards your self or others, will lead to healthier and meaningful interactions. In an era where interactions have been lessened by many contributing factors, it is imperative that we take as much from each of them as we can.

(1) Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Want a pick me up?

This blog today is very short. The meat and potatoes is found in this link . Read on if you like to be inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Guaranteed to change your outlook on your day if not your life....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

what do others say?

Everyday the swimupstream group educates and shares a positive and educational message, a perspective and/or a lesson with anyone that wishes to read. The daily blog may touch on leadership perspectives, world events, or even daily thoughts to assist in moving readers lives and the lives of those around them forward. If the information and perspectives inside this blog help someone learn, gain the confidence or live a fraction of a measure of a better life, it has been a success.

Athough the information in this blog may go against the grain of conventional and contemporary thinking at times, most of the thoughts and persepctives that are delivered by the six of us are also communicated by many other successful leaders of today. These similar thoughts may not be verbalized in the same manner but many of the underlying messages are NOT a secret.

Below are some quotes from successul leaders of today's society that share similarities in beliefs of the swimupstream group AND are saying the saaammmmeee thing.

FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS NOT PROBLEMS – “I'm a positive thinker who does frequent reality checks. Negatives turn into positives, problems can be solved, things can turn around. The image of success is important, but even more important is the ability to focus on solutions instead of on problems.” - Donald Trump - Chairman, Trump Organization

FIND YOUR PASSION AND PUT 100% INTO IT- "For me, the past 20 years have been practice for tomorrow. Someone who's successful in any area has figured out at least two things: how to get the most out of themselves, and that attention to detail matters. Having a career that lasted that long in my sport explains the sort of personality that you have to have. You have to treat it as a marathon. You have to understand who you are and figure out a way to communicate it. It's about what pumps the blood through your veins, what makes you excited, what pushes your buttons. And then discovering the best way to communicate that, no matter how big or small; it's what you stand for, what you believe in, and what reflects who you are." – Andrez Agassiz - Professional tennis player

TEAMWORK - "Cooperation and conciliation and compromise and teamwork are all arts, and like all arts they require practice and commitment. In a complex world, success is not possible without teamwork." Malcolm Gladwell - Author, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference"

DON’T BE INTERESTING - BE INTERESTED - "If you want to have an interesting dinner conversation, be interested. If you want to have interesting things to write, be interested. If you want to meet interesting people, be interested in the people you meet -- their lives, their history, their story. Where are they from? How did they get here? What have they learned? By practicing the art of being interested, the majority of people can become fascinating teachers; nearly everyone has an interesting story to tell." – Jim Collins - Author, "Built to Last" and "Good to Great"

PRACTICE HUMILITY - "An important lesson I learned from my father, who was the first great leader I observed. He taught me that you have to keep your perspective and have a sense of humility. As he used to say, "Tell me what you brag about, and I'll tell you what you lack." - Carlos M. Gutierrez - Former chairman and CEO, Kellogg

BE HONEST - “You can't cheat an honest man. I don't know exactly why that is, but it's true for me. My honor is unquestioned in poker, and if you have perfect honor in poker, it's better than having it anywhere else in life because everyone remembers everything from 15 or 20 years ago. If you cheated then, they'll remember.” -
Phil Hellmuth – Poker world champion

HARD WORK OPENS DOORS - "My first boss -- he was the building superintendent, and I was a janitor -- watched me sweep floors and wash walls for almost a year before he mentioned that I could get tuition for college if I got a job with the phone company. When I asked him why he'd waited so long, he said, "I wanted to see if you were worth it. The message: Work hard, have high standards, and stick to your values, because somebody's always watching.” - Ivan Seidenberg - Chairman and CEO, Verizon

YOUR ATTITUDE IN ANYTHING IS YOUR ATTITUDE IN EVERYTHING - “Approach what you do as a leader, not a participant. I'm talking about life. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to run a huge company, your family, a church choir, or the Indian Princess outing at your kid's school. You will see that the most successful people are the ones who approach whatever they do with the mind-set and qualities of a leader.” -
George Shaheen - CEO, Siebel Systems

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SMARTER PEOPLE THAN YOURSELF – “Surround yourself with amazingly intelligent men and women. The people I work with not only are smarter than I am, possessing both intellectual and emotional intelligence, but also share my determination to succeed. I will not make an important decision without them.” - George Steinbrenner - Owner, New York Yankees

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing

Well as always the Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging world are rife with things that always amaze me. See what you think….

This week I looked long and hard at a few huge things, namely Wikipedia, MySpace and YouTube, to try and figure out what they were about. I also looked at some very small things that I feel have huge impacts; namely your word and how true one is to their word but I’ll save that for next week.

This week I was looking for some clear examples of what the world is really capable of and so I tuned into some of the major community based internet forums. It is really quite frightening to think of the way we use the internet, how much time we spend surfing and the sedentary lifestyle the countless hours clicking seems to promote. However, seeing as every other media source has the monopoly on negative press and ‘culture of fear’ writing I wanted to see if I could find some positive examples that were bringing ‘teamwork’ to the forefront of our culture.

Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia, is definitely an example of the power of team work and how the economy is beginning to shift. Basically Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that, in real time, can be updated and added to by virtually anybody on the planet. This makes it the most up to date, mistakes and additions being corrected in real time rather than waiting for the next run off the presses, and most categorically complete amount of information in multiple languages of any literature on the planet. People can argue the merits or the quality of this ‘publication’ but today I will choose to expose the nature of people around the world chiming in to help others research or learn more about their favoured topic…..absolutely without charge. There aren’t any players that whine about how much they are getting paid and nor are their management levels for things to get bogged down in. It is purely individuals acting for the better good of the whole. Really, the perfect team.

It is interesting how these communities, from Youtube to Google, have little or zero cost yet are globally ruling the world economy. Jobs as we know it are changing and it is up to us to discover ways we as individuals can remain relevant and not just unpaid actors in a ‘reality’ television series. Take a look at some of the numbers for sites like MySpace and YouTube. The millions upon millions of users are staggering. How can we harness that energy?

I delved deeper, online I must admit, to see if others were in fact using these online communities to grapple even tougher issues or problems. Well, it turns out that since the days of the origination of Linux, an open-source operating systems, people are indeed using the masses to solve problems. Some companies are having their problems solved and only fame is the reward for the answers.

Linux was an operating system developed for our computers to run on that was begun, and is still being developed, through an open source concept. Meaning anyone can add and help fix or move the project forward. Today, Linux essentially runs over 40% of the world’s computers and it all started through online communities where people gave of their time and expertise.

The projections are that the Human Genome Project, or mapping of the human gene, is years ahead of where it would be if professors were competing with each other rather than ‘everyone’ being able to add to this research. It is quite mesmerizing what the human spirit is capable of when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

The point: These extraordinary projects are showcasing that we can all add benefit and should all be thinking of how we can help our world, workplace and families succeed. Passion and energy can produce huge results. Where are the areas you need to inject some of your passion and what teams are you willing to work for?

Find them and I’m sure you’ll discover a new and wonderful team, no matter how big. I’m also sure you’ll discover a great new world full of amazing new possibilities.

Check out the websites described above to seethe magnitude of human power and ingenuity.

That’s it for this week’s Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from the swim up stream world. Have a good one.

Monday, January 15, 2007

defining "it"

an intangible word to many "it" is also very personal, happens at different moments, and represents different feelings. in that aspect alone, its an all encompassing marketing tool; is IT in you, just do IT, rock IT, fuck IT, let IT ride, work IT baby, you don't get IT etc.

to me, "it" is the moment where you step out from behind the shackles of oppression & self doubt to catch a glimpse of your true constitution. sounds ambiguous, but i will forever hold true to the belief that anyone can accomplish anything they want to if they really want to do it. that's right. anyone & anything.

and that's the defining point where you experience "IT"

forget about basket weaving 101 in secondary learning institutions, let's put IT101 in the curriculum instead. nevermind spending $372.45 for a meal out, spend $0 trying to understand "IT". and lets get rid of reality television [if its televised, and people know they are being filmed, its not "real"] and put on a show called Come and Get IT.

imagine what this world would look like if more peoople found and believed in their personal "IT'S". it would be a better place.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Childhood in a Different World

There are a lot of challenges that children face in the world today and adults have gone to great lengths to protect them from these dangers. This is a positive to a certain extent, but also has caused great harm to the first generation that will not live longer than their parents.

When I was growing up, I did not have such protections and neither did the friends I grew up with. This has a lot to do with the area I grew up in, but also has a lot to do with how we as children were treated back then (I was born in 1973, so I’m not talking ages ago when children had even more room to move). My friends and I regularly did what is unthinkable to today’s children. Here is what we did:
  • We ate fast food, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it. It didn’t matter because we would burn it off by running around, outside, all day long.
  • We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. That’s right there was no parental supervision, no play dates, we were just gone.
  • No one was able to reach us all day, we did not have cell phones, but our parents knew our friends parents so they would be able to find us.
  • We fell out of trees, jumped off of roof tops with an umbrella, got cut, broke bones and teeth and guess what? There were no lawsuits from these accidents, we were just being kids.
  • We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and anything else our imaginations would allow us to create. This means that we actually made our own set of rules, and if someone didn’t agree with the rules we just kicked them out of the game. We learned to cooperate on our own and you either got with the program or got out.
  • We rode bikes or walked to school. It wasn’t a special “walk to school day”; it was just how we got there.
  • Our sports leagues had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment and play on the B teams.
  • The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. The same if we got in trouble at school. Parents actually sided with the police and principals. We were actually held accountable for our actions.
  • Our parents played outside with us when they returned home from work. They didn’t bring work home and they actually came home at a decent enough time to make this a priority.
  • We had an allowance to help pay for what we wanted to do, there actually were no handouts.

The point of all this is not to say look at my generation and how hard we had it, because we did not have it hard at all. It is to look at the way we did it and what we were allowed to do. Our parents actually believed in learning by living. My umbrella didn’t slow me down when I jumped off the roof, just like my parents said it wouldn’t, but I was allowed to find that out on my own. There was no childhood obesity epidemic because we were always outside moving and actually playing all day long. We had to play because there was only one TV in our house (the average today is 3+ per house) that got 8 channels, all of which were soap operas during the days.

So while you are making sure that your child has the newest gaming system, computer, cell phone, and powered scooter, know that you are killing your child and setting them up for a world that is not as forgiving. You are giving them an unrealistic view of what it actually means to earn something through hard work and planning. When you finally get the time to put down your Blackberry and actually take your child out to play, know that it is a special moment because according to statistics, your child won’t be around to experience such a moment with their child.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


My wife and I often talk about our friends and our relationships with these great people. One thing that easily comes up is when they last wrote or called, who called who last, whose turn it is and "they never write or call, so why would I call them." Life is too short to let this stand in the way of great friendships. I am fortunate to have a group of high school friends who have a unique relationship. There will be a flurry of emails in a two week stint and then nothing for 2 months. But when there is a reconnection, it was just like we left off...talking about old times, or "remember when..." sessions.

I was fortunate over the Christmas holidays to reconnect with people who I used to be paid to train, but who are now "GREAT FRIENDS". Some I would say are more than that - they have become mentors, pseudo-parents, sounding boards and more. These are people who I often lose touch with during the hecticness of life, but when there is a reconnection, there is a genuine interest in the life and events happening at a distance. Friendships are precious, they take a little effort, but they feed the soul. If you have a great friend who you have lost touch with - reach out to them. Plan a meeting - even if it is a year from now. Pick up the phone and call. Send them a note. Don't worry about whose turn it is, take the won't regret it.

On behalf of the Swimupstream crew - thanks to all our great friends!!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

the quest to be great

average is as close to the bottom as it is to the top and i'm tired of checking into the status quo of 'good'. e.g. "how was the day?"...... "good"

i want it to be GREAT! why not hey? see if for one year, i have what it takes.

the plan.

a) started out by writing down everything i wanted to do before i died. called it my b.i.d. goals.
b) searched readings on the "magic formula to greatnesss". (more to come on that)
c) decided i would institute a series of great habits that would act as daily precursors to helping me be great.
d) shared my findings and aspirations with those around me.
e) started trying to be great 1 day at a time.

lets dissect b: the "magic" formula for greatness.

i read multiple articles. studied prodigies, researches athletes, and the one trait they all had in common was the ability "to practice the their fundamental skills at a high level on a repeated basis". sounds easy, but its not. by nature, humans look for the path of least resistance and by nurture we are marketed to be instantly gratified. i would have to accept that being great is not just a sequence of highlight reals and news clippings.

i thought, what if those i worked with tried to be great too? how much would they benefit in their lives, hence benefitting us as an organization. LOTS. so, i started by asking the catch 22 question. do you want to be good or great? of course peoples ego's naturally funnel them to 'the best' answer (even if they don't know what it means). they all said great. then, it was about passing on the list, the articles, the mentality and the coaching.

how'd we do?

well, the road to greatness doesn't present like a downhill water slide. if it did, we would all be on it basking in the warm pool of water at the bottom with a cocktail in our hands. HOWEVER, we started taking steps. one person, and then two and slowly the realization that a transformation was happenning became obvious:

a) more personal accountabilty
b) more sharing and caring
c) less taking things personally and whining
d) more focus on the fundamentals and processes leading to succes.
e) more perspective on taking personal ownership
f) ** less bullshit around entitlement and not my jobbing it.

so, 12 days into the new year, we have a solid group of individuals aspiring to be great. we will see where that leads, yet not unlike the greats like tiger woods, pablo picasso & bill gates (to name a few) who execute the fundamentals at a consistent daily basis and have the foresight to re-invent themselves to remain 'on top', i will not be surprised if the 'magic' of greatness works.

what about you.

good or GREAT?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tales From The Crypt: Miserable in Paradise

What a day!

I just saw first hand evidence over a 10 day stretch that money can't buy happiness. But it sure can pay for an expensive venue to complain.

Having just returned from a 10 day Hawaiian holiday/ cruise, I feel more than a little humbled by how lucky myself and my family really are. But wait- maybe if I listen hard and long enough, I may realize that I am not happy and that the cruise was shit... there were certainly enough people repeating this to convince me if I would let them.

We all have to be really careful, or we can easily fall into the sheep mentality of allowing negativity to affect us. Vis a vis;

  • One couple who was "enjoying" their 69th cruise complained about the food, the service, etc etc

  • One fellow on the tour bus in Kona "educated" the whole bus on how our cruise lines sucks, and the other 4 he has tried are better. Worse he is spreading negativity and a spiled attitude to his 4 yr old son who has already been on 5 cruises.

  • The line ups, the price, the length of shore stops, and much more were all cause for complaint amongst the "holier than thous" who jam packed the boat despite their loud objections.

Here's the funny thing- if you do listen, it becomes almost a competition- who has the worst service story, who had a worse experiance, etc.

Newsflash: not inspiring. Keep it to yourself Merryweather Abbeygale Nottingham III. The rest of us are happy to be there. Some of us who HAD TO WORK to get there want to see the sights for the first time, and don't want to be bothered with what they are doing or serving on your yacht.

The sad part is, the hard working mothers and fathers who are going to be paying for that trip for years (or who saved up ahead of time for years by sacrificing). The ones who want their kids to swim with a sea turtle because that is a real one-of-a-kind life changing experiance. They don't give two shits if the prime rib is tough or the lobster is cold.

Not saying money is evil- it is not. But the "holier than thou" approach is evil; it is wrong and hurtful and leads to a negative spiral of blame rather than accountable action. This story does not just apply to holidays, of course... we have an attitude every day as to how we view the world. Are you going to share your pessimistic view with others and bring them down a notch?

Or are we going to think of the young kids beaming with ear to ear grins, and their parents who vicariously share that grin, because they swam with sea turtles? The ones who actually did something rather than sat on the sidelines and bitched about the game or the weather or how the 'ref' was calling it (ie how circumstances are outside their control).

Get in the game, get dirty, and get busy living. Don't bitch about how much "above" the game you are...

More people see through that fake bullshit than you realize...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Dash Between the Years

It is a reality that
  • there will be a day when each of us will no longer be around.
  • some of us will last longer and some (unfortunately) will have to leave earlier.
  • one thing we all have in common is that on our tombstone there will be dates listed from the day of the beginning to the day of the end.
  • those who will remember us, will remember us for the value of the line between those dates and that the line that seperates the dates is more than just a dash.

So, continually remind yourself that

  • it doesn't matter what you own...the cars, the house, the money you have, etc.
  • you have the ability to shape your future and what you choose to do.
  • you most likely have it better than majority of others in this world.
  • what will matter the most is how you spend the years seperated by that dash.

Take the time to think

  • long and hard if there are things that you would want to change?
  • of what you want to do with the people that you have in your life?
  • of who you want to say something to, before your time is done?
  • about goals and items that you wish to achieve before you die because you never know how long is left before the date after the dash.

And then ask yourself,

"Tomorrow, if my eulogy was being read, with my life's actions to rehash...would I be proud of what is being shared and how I spent that dash?"

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing

Another great week but as always some rather interesting tidbits from the swim up stream world. As I write this I also feel it is time to clarify a little something about this blog as well. While I can’t totally confirm the observation I’m about to make, like many we have on the swim up stream world we will just use our strong intuition and gut feelings to address the situation.

I think that some of you may have the wrong idea about who we are and what we are trying to accomplish with this blog. We are not always correct. We are not trying to preach to you, convert you to a cult or even make you feel like we are better or worse than you are.

We are trying to put together thought provoking topics that may help energize our otherwise lethargic communities. An important point to us is that while we relate stories and concepts we re-instill them into our own personal psyches so that the messages are reinforced to us as much as anyone.

By writing these blog articles it helps us grow further and helps us move forward because that is what we are trying to do. Sometimes we don’t hit the nail on the head but on occasion we do. When we don’t we look back and grow from our mistakes and when we do we still look back and see where we could have maybe been even clearer or more positive. It is that simple.

The thing is we always revel in the fact that we accomplished another fine week and we always learn from having gone through the exercise. You could all maybe spend some time and write your thoughts down or at least ponder the world for just a few moments. Just start and pat yourself on the back for taking a moment alone at the very least.

We are all human and we want your feedback. The very fact you read some or all of the articles is a bonus for our personal growth. If anything moves you and you touch someone else that day then we are succeeding to build a stronger community through the messages. That is our long term goal. Help us build that community.

Onwards. So without further a do here are the sights, sounds, speculations and stargazings of the swim up stream world for this week.

I sat down this week and realized that if the world was 100% committed to everything they did we would all be living in an extremely efficient and incredible place. However as it stands we aren’t so I did some math based on what 99.9% compared to 100% meant for our various industries because I wanted to see if being committed entirely really made a difference. Here is what would happen if we committed only at 99.9% quality. Take a look at these numbers:

  • One hour of unsafe drinking water every month.
  • 1 unsafe landing at Vancouver International Airport each day.
  • 2,000 pieces of mail in Canada and 16000 pieces of mail in the U.S. lost per hour!
  • 20,000 incorrectly filled drug prescriptions every year in the U.S.
  • 50 incorrect surgical operations performed each week in Canada
  • 22,000 cheques deducted from the wrong accounts each hour in the U.S.!!!!

I hope you are coming to the same conclusion that I came to. When you do something you must be committed at 100% or else the results will fall substantially below your expectations. Whether love, work, time with the kids, or anything we plan to do, we must all decide to do it with all our heart as that seems to be the only way to truly succeed.

As we are on a math excursion today why don’t we just carry on with the trend. Here are some more interesting numbers and of course the editors comments to go with them.

  • I recently read that the average North American watches 6 hours of television a day. 6 hours! Even if that stat is 50% off, we are still looking at 3 hours of t.v. per day. Based on 6 hours a day at the age of 60 the average adult will have watched 15 years of television. Let’s add video games, surfing the net and watching movies into the pile so that all of you who think you are not wasting your time can think about what you would do with 15 years of extra time. What would you do? Write it down and then go do it.
  • A challenge to go with the above number. Watch one hour less of t.v. per day and do something with it. That is 365 hours of anything or roughly translated, about 9 weeks of something. What could you do with 9 weeks? I’m betting you could help change the world. Please email me back and tell me how you are coming with this challenge. If you can’t think of anything to do then pick up a book and start to read. It will make your life better. Guaranteed.
  • Email and cell phones have changed the way the world operates yet certain principles remain the same such as the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule roughly states that 80% of your success [in anything] comes from 20% of your activities. The average executive now spends between 2 and 4 hours per day answering emails. Taking the average of 3 hours that would mean that 783 hours a year are spent answering emails of which it is highly likely on 20% are worth their salt. Cut it in half and get back over two months worth of time! Do something with that time that makes the world a better place or at least makes us like you more because you’re happier….. Cell phones: I don’t know the stats but I bet it is higher and I bet the demographic most abusive of this particular devise is still in high school. I wonder what they aren’t learning while they are wasting two months of their life!

Now I tell you all this because I just took my first real holiday in about 3 years. No cell phone. No emails. No computer [except for the blog…]. I wouldn’t have gone but my Mummy told me to go or she would kill me. Seriously. My Mum made me go and take my family with me. I told you we write this blog as much to help ourselves as we do to impress upon the ever changing world that there is still hope and a way other than the norm.

Anyways, I looked into the stats and in 1997 the average employee took around 8 days of holidays per year. Not much really but hopefully we were maximizing the statutory days we were entitled to receive. In 2006 the average employee took just over 4 days holidays. A drop of 50%. The body needs to rejuvenate and the mind needs fresh settings to gather information. Plan your holidays now and make sure you take them. If your job is gone when you get back, you had the wrong boss and the wrong job anyways. If you don’t have a lot of money, go camping, go fishing, go to a friend’s house but go somewhere. I promise the results will astound you.

Well those are the Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging swim up stream world.

Cheers as always.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

5 Principles for Happiness

I came across an article by David Bach titled Five Principles for Happiness in 2007. I really don’t like to bite off of another man’s sandwich, but there is very good information in this article that I believe is important for everyone to know (or at least for those who are trying to improve themselves). I will give you the original principles from David’s article and then add some of my own thoughts as to how they can immediately apply in your life.

Principle 1: Give Yourself a Break
This is a principle based on the fact that you can’t move forward if you are constantly stuck in the past. This goes for people who have had a favorable past as well. When we are stuck living in past woes or glories we lose what is in front of us therefore letting opportunity pass us by. We have to be able to let go of successes as well as failures and give ourselves a break, start over with a new beginning every day. So, whether you just lost your job or you just made the million dollar deal, remember, tomorrow is a new day and another chance to prove yourself all over again.

Principle 2: Get Connected with Your Truth
If you have ever talked to any of the writers for Swim up Stream, you will know this as knowing your reality. This is important because we all have different truths and the more we try to align ourselves with someone else’s truth, the further we loose touch with our own reality. Your reality requires attention that is specific to you and it is your job to not only know what your reality is, it is your job to accept your reality. All too often we look at what other people have accomplished and then try and emulate their process for success. What we don’t understand when we fail is that there are circumstances (physical, social, emotional) unique to each individual that help play a major role in our successes and failures. When you know your reality, you can then plan for your success.

Principle 3: Stop Judging Yourself
Most of us are harder on ourselves than others are on us. We make mistakes and beat ourselves up until we are dragging our tails between our legs. This is not only terrible on our individual confidence, but detrimental to our path of success. In the field of Sport Psychology there is a simple technique called “self-talk”. This is the way we talk to ourselves throughout the day, and what we say determines in large part how we respond and act during the day. For most people this talk is negative (“I shouldn’t have had that for breakfast”, “I’ll never make it that for on the treadmill”, “I’m too tired to exercise today”, etc.) and pulls us into those negative self-fulfilling prophecies. When this talk is positive it helps us motivate and energize, it also helps us get over our mistakes and find new ways to not make the same mistake again. Failure is a fact of life, we will all do it at times, and it is the person who immediately looks at the way to make the failure a success that will be on top in the end. We can never find success when we are constantly judging and beating ourselves up.

Principle 4: Stop Judging Others
This is a very simple principle. When we are judging others we are giving them all of our attention, therefore neglecting ourselves. It is easy to look at someone else and make judgments on them; it makes us forget about our faults and shortcomings. What it doesn’t allow us to do is move on and enhance ourselves. It might make us feel good to be in the gossip corner talking about a coworker, but I promise you when you are gone people are doing the same about you. Judge yourself so that you can make yourself better. That will never happen when you are always focused on the actions of others.

Principle 5: Pursue Fun with Vengeance
This principle is not possible until you are able to complete the previous four. This is the principle of finding something you are passionate about and pursue it every day with a vengeance. This will change throughout life, as your reality changes, but to pursue a passion with anything less than pure vengeance is doing yourself and those you have the potential to influence a disservice.

When you look back on these five principles you will realize that they all involve your own personal commitment. That is because you can’t have a happier you until you have empowered yourself enough to feel good about you. Remember it isn’t selfish to focus on yourself first, because if you are no good then the people around you will suffer as well. Be good to yourself.

If you want to read David Bach’s whole article go to

Saturday, January 06, 2007

service with a middle finger.

this isn't a knock on big box. that argument cannot be won by the most loyal steadfast diehard consumer on the planet. it simple economics, and as small towns across the land value supporting the little guy, the savings are just too great to compete.

a more scary reality of consumerism is the fact that literaly any commodity will soon be able to be purchased over the net, making almost all storefronts obselete. thats right, prices don't have to be marked up because there is no overhead in delivering them to the customer. click. purchase, deliver. no hassles, no fuss and no muss. pretty decent for the average consumer who has nary a second to spend with their kids, let a lone head to the shopping mall.

but thats not what irks me. what irks me is the same mentality is being utilized in the service industry where consumers come with their bartering chips in attemtps to drive down the price. people, the same tactics do not apply. while its understandible to expect bargain basement pricing (and sure there will always be someone who will bend to accommodate that), the quote goes something like this.

you get what you pay for.

and yes, you should care about what you are getting.
and yes, there is a difference between average / good and great and you likely know that.

so don't come to the service expecting the same big box bargain. decide what you want to spend, research what's out there for your price range, understand the differences and then make an informed decision.

the transition to big box comodity is understandible given the decreasing profit margin from an increasingly inept workforce, and related overhead factors but this will usher in better standards and practices for real "service".

it is at the point where we are able to systemize all service businesses you should start to worry about the direction of our lives.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Be ALL IN, to get out.

Today, we are going to examine #5, of our top 10 bullshit phrases that should eliminated from our psyche, vocabulary and general practice.

1. Prevent defense
2. Show me the money
3. Terrel Owens
4. Upward mobility
5. Exit strategy
6. The American Dream
7. Equal opportunity
8. Bigger is better
9. Paris Hilton
10. Weapons of mass destruction

Yes, exit strategy. That infamous plan you start working on when you begin something… to get out of it with as much as you can. If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, its because the only thing more asinine than writing it is actually practicing it.

Listening to people speak about how they are setting themselves up for freedom 55 says one thing. They are not focused on what they should be which is here and now. Which tells me another thing that is they won’t likely make it to there and later. Ahh easy street, Stan spoke about it awhile back where all you had to do was wake up and count your money… wait a second, what’s that noise? Oh yeah the alarm clock moron, welcome to the real world.

Rounders are annoying. Hanging on so they can sell their souls at the lowest opportunity to the highest bidder. Like we need another rounder in our lives. I actually had a guy argue with me that I was stupid not to think of a way to sell our company and make millions “while it was hot”. You’re going to “lose it all and not get yours” he says.

Thanks for the tip Buffet.

Anyways, to the crux of this blog: the exit strategy tip. Get close to your computer, it’s a knock out revelation.

1. pick a job/career/hobby you are passionate about and good at
2. give that job 100% [every day & every play]
3. don’t worry about your exit strategy because you will make more passive and active income than you could have imagined.

Hands down the best way to get out then, is to be all in now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Irony and the Challenge of Leadership

Moments after watching "An Inconvenient Truth" (a fantastic hard truth documentary about global warming), I turned off the DVD and guess what was on TV? An interview with Gwen Stefani, who was asked....

"Gwen, you are a music writer/ have your own band/ singer/ actress/ fashion icon with your own clothing line.... is there anything you can't do?"

Her answer, "ummm, I can't do math, I can't spell... I don't know, I can't think right now".

That is the challenge facing leaders today. A society that...

  • Praises a woman for her looks only. She can't do math but she runs a company. She can't spell but she is a singer/ songwriter. She can't think but she's a role model. In other words, she is surrounded by people who do for her while she is the poster child because that's what counts.
  • There are women who saw this and did not see the irony, or become offended. We have extremist feminist groups, but we don't have women who object to being treated like objects in the media.
  • Guess what the first song to sell over 1 million downloads over the internet was? "What are you waiting for?" by Gwen Stefani
  • The number one selling football jersey in Canada? Terrell Owens, also the biggest cry-baby and the worst team player possibly in football history. Actual comment from my 17 year old cousin, "I love it when he trash talks!". Enter why Eminem was so popular a few years ago when he still had all his angst.
  • Google search words. Money : 750 million hits. Britney Spears: 36 million hits. Personal Accountability: 1 million. People access and search out 'money' at 107 times the rate that they get off their asses and do something to get it.

A few of you will read this and say "ohh, there he goes again", and a few of those people will be potential leaders. There is the problem in getting others to band to your cause right there... WE often don't band behind the most important causes we need to.

If we have learned one thing it is that leadership is an all the time thing and we don't turn it off when we discuss politics or art or music or our friends. We are leaders or we are faking it. We are faking it if we do not choose to lead ourselves in every part of our lives, and then pass it on.

If we have learned 2 things it is that people like to stay where they are. This means as much work as it takes for you to change, you must work twice as hard to get one other person to change even if you have already gone through what they've gone through. Now try leading a team of twenty and we get a glimpse as to what we actually signed up for. Repeat: leadership is an all the time, all-in, thing.

Are you going to be a leader? If so then this information will not stay with you... it will be passed on and we will realize that people don't need to wait until Jan 15th to recover from holidays.

If you are at work... WORK. If you are a leader... LEAD.

starting right now....

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Making Changes ???

On January 1st, 2007 at 12:01am, people around the world made promises to themselves to make changes in their lives. In fact, every year almost everyone world wide is minted up by the desire to plan a wonderful New Year! We plan vacations, we tell ourselves that we are going to make drastic lifestyle changes, and we imagine that any goal can be achieved. We eagerly make New Year's Resolutions and set our biggest goals ever! It's a perfect time to reflect on the changes we want to or need to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. Resolutions, IF carried out successfully not only act as short-term goals to success but also help in improving life and overcoming those habits, which we ourselves do not like.

The unfortunate reality and the truth of the matter, of course, is that for most people the year goes by with little or no change.

DO NOT act surprised...because most of you have been there!

This has happened so frequently that the definition of New Year's Resolution from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia is: A New Year's resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year's Day and remain until the set goal has been achieved, although many resolutions go unachieved and are often broken fairly shortly after they are set.

We continue to do our jobs and live our lives the same way and low and behold our dreams don't come true. Some small things do change, but life doesn't seem all that different. Not like we hoped and told ourselves they would the morning of the New Year.

As Scott Boyle (a fellow 'swim upstreamer') shared in "Motivation Tips for the Weary Resolution" blog, people can increase their chances to stay motivated by:
  • Understanding the stages of change
  • Use visual cues, contracts, and variety in their routine
  • Utilize the SMART principle when setting goals

However, people MUST start to understand that change takes time...and takes effort. If it took little time to change and was easy, the world would continually change for the better and everyone would fullfill their New Years resolutions. But it isn't a reality so don't every kid yourself that it is.

It is also necessary to be aware of the changes that you are making so that you can monitor your own progress in becoming better/fulfilling your goals/changing your lifestyle/etc. The four stages of awarness are:

  1. Unconscious incompetence - being completely unaware of what needs to change
  2. Conscious incompetence - being aware only after you make a mistake and you catch yourself resorting to your old habits
  3. Conscious competence - being aware of the necessary choices that you have to make to make change possible (continually reminding yourself)
  4. Unconscious competence - making the changes without thinking (it is natural).

So, become unconsciously competent in any area of your life you wish to change. But first understand that you cannot get there and make those necessary steps without the TIME and EFFORT required!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing

A Happy New Year to everyone and thank you all for reading our blogs over the last few months. We strive to help each other to continue thinking and asking questions of why we do the things we do so please comment and give us your thoughts whenever you have them as we are but a few that have committed ourselves to swimming up stream.

Without further a do here are some items that having made me think this week.

We really are our own worst enemy. I am currently on holiday in San Diego and for the life of me I am struggling to find healthy food choices. My family and I have walked miles and we are only able to find half decent salads on just a few menus. The normal fare is just caked with pizza, white flour pastas, breaded everything, and just about anything comes with more sauce to dip that lard into. Now here is the kicker. The size of every meal is huge; calorically huge as you might imagine but physically huge as well. I have yet to finish a salad here and can tell you that we are looked at as aliens when we order only a dinner salad. The businesses claim value and the people literally eat it up. It is a full scale calamity in my books. We are actually making it hard to stay physically fit.

In a related note the Heart and Stroke foundation just released a message suggesting that by their stats this latest generation will be the first generation to die prior to the generation that made them. Why? Diseases related to obesity.

When did shopping become a pastime? It seems to me that the meaning of going out as a family has become an outing to the outdoor strip mall. It just seems rather odd that most of the people look like they are buying clothes for the next time they will be seen – ironically, out shopping again. I can’t substantiate any of this but I challenge you to check out the mall and tell me what everyone is doing. Rarely you may see someone getting in and getting out. The rest are just ‘being’ at the mall. Not really quality time with the kids in my books.

Consumerism has reached such a high level that we believe the stuff we get at Wal-Mart is high quality if it cost more than the lowest price item in the same category. News flash; if it is plastic and costs more, it is still plastic and probably sucks. The same thing is happening to our television shows. There are 300 channels and now in order to put out a show the companies have to cut every effect, costume and acting budget to the bare bones. Welcome to the world of ‘b-movie’ television on every channel. Don’t worry and entire generation will think it’s great because the same stations that fire out this garbage are the ones who have the greatest depth in marketing it. Ever wonder how much someone who can’t sing makes on American Idol? Replace the actor with someone willing to make a fool of themselves for free and we can put out a bigger advertising campaign to draw in our faithful viewers. I’d rather have 20 channels and something to watch.

Having read some magazines on the airplane I realized that any of us could put out the next issue of one of the trendy fitness mags. It is only the cover that changes. How can they keep selling? Every issue tells me I can lose ten pounds in just ten days and yet I’ve never met anyone who has successfully accomplished this magazine assertion. Just more mindless garbage with maybe an article inside worth reading. Doesn’t it irk you that we as a population are so predictable?

Printing costs are so minimal now that anybody can make a magazine but saying something is still difficult so for this week I will take solace in that over the last year I have met many people thanks to this blog that actually don’t waste their words and actually say something of importance.

Thanks to all of you and I will be back again next week with my usual Seven Day Sights, Sounds, Speculations and Stargazing from our wonderfully challenging world.

Cheers for now and Happy New Years.