Friday, June 29, 2007

Don't Go It Alone

We all need help.

I have recently come to this conclusion after years of thinking that I could go it alone if needed. My reality is I can’t and I’m pretty sure your reality is no different. We all have something that we are chasing (money, fame, greater purpose, etc.) day to day so that we can enhance our lives and extend our personal mission. Many times we encounter people that have great interest in what we are doing so we involve them in our plan only to find out that they are dead weight. We stroke this dead weight and try to mentor it only to find out that they are exactly that, dead weight. We all have said at one point “I would be better off going at it alone”, which is right, you would be better off but you would still have a formidable task in front of you. The reality is that you need others to help you in life. The challenge is finding the right others to help you achieve your mission.

So, how do we find the right other? I really don’t know how to find them, my guess is trial and error, but I do know that once you know the person is incapable or uninterested in making your life easier then you need to drop them as fast as you can. The more time you spend trying to create the right person the more time you spend wasting time. Having confidence in your ability to mold others into who you want them to be is a great skill; not recognizing your inability to change someone who is unwilling to change is just plain harmful to you personally. We can all recognize potential in people, but we can’t always recognize is our role in wasted potential. By doing this we stay with someone or something too long and then are in a position where we have to suffer the consequences, not for their inability, but for our inability to act. What do you have to lose by investing extra time on that person? Simple…..everything.

Life is not a straight line, there are bumps and curves in the road, but in order to navigate the greatest and most fulfilling path you can not do it alone. Just having someone to accompany you along the path is as detrimental a going it alone, which highlights the need to have the right person with you along the way. Creating a coalition of the unwilling is going solo with more responsibility. Fulfillment and empowerment is creating a coalition of the willing who make your job and life easier to navigate.

We all need help, so save yourself some time and effort and drop the dead weight before they bring you down with them, believe me they will do just that.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

You Get What You Get

It is no mystery that input = output. That is, if you give a bank teller 4 quarters, they're bound to only give you one dollar. From the beyond obvious example here, something is lost in the translation when we apply this useful principle to our every day lives...

I interviewed a potential candidate recently who, when asked about their future career aspirations, replied that they'd like to own a chain of successful franchise stores. When I asked if they knew what went in to operating (much less owning) 1 successful store, their answer was no. How is this any different than giving the teller 4 quarters and thinking you'll get a $20 back? It's not. We are plagued in today's society with a real disconnect between our perceived worth, and the effort we put in, with what we expect to be rewarded with.

That is, rather than demonstrate our value with hard work, sacrifice, and building a business, we think because of "who we are" that we will be rewarded first based on how good we are, and then worry about earning said inflated salary later.

I had a customer recently share a similar anecdote... in a real hiring crunch, she thought she'd found the perfect employee for one of the key positions they were hiring. When she offered the compensation plan to a 22 year old candidate, that candidate turned around and said, "I'm sorry, but my lifestyle requires that I make at least $1000 more per month than that".

There it is summed up for any employer or business owner, the plague of entitlement facing our younger working generation today. In any other time period in history, it was common sense that your lifestyle was dictated by how much you made, and if you wanted a more lavish lifestyle, you worked for it and earned it. People today expect the lifestyle first, and are far less willing to actually earn it.

This is making it's way into every sector of our economy - shitty service at restaurants, longer line-ups at any cash register as turnover is at epidemic proportions and someone is always "brand new and just learning".

The lesson then, for the 22 year old fashionista (who by the way did not get the job because of her outragous demands) and for anyone out of touch with reality is...

you get what you get. If you leave your job tomorrow for a $1 raise, regardless of future opportunity, you get what you get. By continuously making short-sighted decisions, you will always be paycheck to paycheck, because you'll never stick around long enough to benefit from profit sharing, advancement opportunities, or part ownership.

For business owners who cave to such ridicouls demands... you get what you get - another employee who feels that your operation exists so that they can make money, and if you ask them to work for it, the middle finger is what you get.

to anyone... you get what you get, You're either part of the problem or you're part of the solution. Demand more from yourself and those around you first, and then opportunities will follow and you'll realize the only reason the nature of reap - then sow has changed, is because we are losing our values and we are caving into the selfish; not because they are right, but because they are the majority.

If you want greatness, but you only demand sub-par...

you get what you get.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


What if you could be like a Tiger Woods, the kind of athlete who comes along not once in a generation, but perhaps once in the history of a sport?

Well, if you ever caught the 60 Minutes documentary that featured Tiger Woods himself, you would have heard Tiger state, “what separates the great from those who are good, is the ability to repeat it again… and again… and again."

The reality is, it’s extremely difficult to be consistently great without adding a new challenge to your repertoire in order to repeat. Being consistent is perhaps the hardest challenge we all face and being the best does not come without sacrifice. As we age, we gain added responsibilities, and by choice or not come new challenges that must be mastered if we expect to continue to operate at a high level.

Remember high school: the days of sports, homework, sleep and late nights, and then university: the days of sports, homework, sleep and later nights. When our careers came, some of us gained weight from less activity, experienced less time with friends, and committed more time trying to become great at something that was foreign to us.

In today’s society there are two clashing ideologies. We have the “echo boomers”: the products of the baby boomers, who you may hear say, “Hey, I am going to renovate my house so that we can play “all in” no-limit Texas Hold’em, while listening to my Apple iPod and cruising in my pimped out ride”, and the baby boomers, who are more focused on the protectiveness of family and long-term gratification of a career.

The point is, when distractions are so rampant, the ability to achieve greatness in different things has become less realistic. So, understand this and when the opportunity to celebrate your own amazing successes presents itself, you need to do just that.

Tiger is just one example of greatness. For the last decade, he has dominated professional golf so completely that he has changed the game and come to exemplify the pursuit of excellence. Tiger has been ranked #1 in the world longer than any other golfer and is the youngest ever to win 10 major championships. This all stems from his passionate pursuit to never rest on the laurels of greatness.

Instead of believing he’s there, he tweaks an element of his game that puts himself ahead of…. himself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Time Is All Relative

Arguably the single greatest idea in history was developed on a bicycle. In 1905 a document containing one of the greatest efforts of human ingenuity was presented. The information read like an essay not an educational document as its critics expected. It was nonchalant and psychological yet it caused some of the worlds largest revelations and revolutions. The writer was considered a daydreamer and below average by his teachers and peers. His friends saw him as dedicated to the furthering of the world. His discoveries and observations would change the direction of the world and it would inspire other phenomenal minds for generations to come. The document contained only about five thousand words and the time this massively influential paper took to complete was less than five weeks. Yes the world was altered in five weeks.

The idea: "I thought of that while riding my bicycle."

Questioning everything and confident in his pursuit of what he saw as the answers to nature as we know it, a modest electrical engineer’s son created world altering theories by spending some time on his bicycle. As a brand new father and on top of a full-time job our genius, without the aid of a professional scholastic placement or academic resources, was able to produce four telling scientific papers. The first paper won him the Nobel Prize while two others were well received by his peers. However, it was the fourth paper that would forever change the world. Now we aren't suggesting that taking a stroll on your two wheeled steed will somehow make you an intellectual revolutionary but we are imploring you to take notice of one value that makes this story so relevant.

Time. That is what can be taken from this example. Spend some time with yourself. More powerful than money and more important than politics, time is ignored far too often. With a little time you too can change the direction of your life. Think, explore, and focus because time to do these things is a gift. Spend time on your bicycle because you never know what may come of it.

The world was introduced to the 'Special Theory of Relativity' and consequently the atom bomb because of a little spin on a bicycle. The inspiring physicist you know as Albert Einstein. You may have heard of his now famous equation e=mc2 which Einstein thought up while spending time with his thoughts on his bicycle.

Are there really reasons you don’t have the time to ride your bicycle?
Are you capable of changing the face of the world?

Ride your bike, spend time meditating, read, ponder or just do something alone. You owe it to yourself.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Are the right people in your band?

Alas, no children, significant other, cell phone, email and for the next ten hours, no distractions. Although I fashion myself as somewhat of a homebody, I believe the intermittent business road trip is a healthy way to rejuvenate the psyche.
Throwing myself on a clean bed I grabbed the converter and settled in for a vegetative evening of meaningless television and started flicking through the channels. I landed on the series ‘behind the music’ featuring U2. U2 had become a favorite because they applied their skills to more than just music. They utilized their collective talents for a greater good and social consciousness.
As I watched the rise of U2 throughout the decades, I realized one blatant reason they became a success. They had engaged and worked to maintain the right people. Through their humble beginnings and their triumphs and tragedies they were able to weather the harshest of storms, the deepest of depressions and continue to define their own destinies because each made a personal decision to maximize their ability and not worry about anything else.
When the concert was announced in our city, the decision was unanimous and we couldn’t wait to see the magic. For myself the band and their music represented more than just great lyrics, they were a great success story. From a business parallel, U2’s concerts followed the gamut of what they were “supposed to be” by reflecting the times. From humble beginnings in pubs and taverns, to opening acts, headliners and the colossal & ostentatious shows of the early 90’s, it seemed the band and business had finally crested the tipping point where they focused less on the revenue and more on cause, (ironically generating much more revenue than they could ever imagine).
The live concert experience was empowering. It wasn’t good. It was great. The music was great, the message was great and the entertainment was great. I walked away from the evening with reinforcement that with the right people in any life dynamic, there was no reason any group representing anything could not be a success. After the right people are in place, the rest is consistency of implementation plus modifications divided by growth.
This seemingly simple equation is backed through mountains of post 90’s “empower everybody, money no object” literature from the likes of Jim Collins [Good to Great], Jack Welsh [Winning] and Brant Weisel [Capital Instincts] who write the success of any organization depends on having the right people first. Even before the vision. It has legendary merit through tales of Jim Pattison removing the least productive salesperson on the team each quarter because keeping that person did not benefit either party.

In each instance, these proven leaders confirm the right people;

1. Understand and embrace the vision of the band.
2. Do not need to be managed. [guided, but not managed].
3. Are comfortable and confident in their roles

In each instance, these proven leaders attribute the lack of staying power in bands comes from

1. The wrong people empowered into the wrong roles.
2. The wrong people remaining in the wrong roles.

The band analogy is not limited to the business parallel. It can be applied across a broad spectrum of family unit to sports team with unlimited examples to support the ideology. In no way does it infer we need to rush to rash decisions about those around us, rather, it simply suggests the key to continued success lies in surrounding yourself with those who are singing the same song.

Rock on!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Supply vs. Demand

Look up economics 101 and the first thing you will learn is about supply and demand. This basic principle defines supply as how much of something is available, while demand is how much of something people want. The more people want the more value you can get for supplying it to them. The great majorities of us deal with supply and demand daily in our work environment (we are all salesmen so get over it) but rarely apply it to our “self”.

Our “self” is the most valuable asset we own, for without it we amount to nothing, but generally is the least invested entity we put our focus into. So when we fill ourselves with great quantities of worthless information through simply existing, we diminish the demand others have for us. On the other hand, when we fill ourselves with enriching and impactful qualities, we create a great demand for us as a person, therefore expanding our value and opportunity.

When we are young we are told not to be selfish and to think of others before ourselves, to be a team player. This is a great general concept, but I would argue to great lengths that when we are not selfish we don’t allow ourselves to create a demand for who we are. You cannot create demand for you until you take the time to supply yourself with useful tools. This means that you first must invest in yourself before others will ever recognize value in you, let alone demand anything you have to offer. In order for this to happen there is a great deal of selfishness that needs to take place. So what do we do? We educate ourselves to the point where our “self” is desirable to us first, before it can have any value to others.

When we do the opposite we become a great “yes” person, filling in the voids for others while generally having no value, therefore becoming expendable. Once we are not worth preserving we simply become irrelevant and are outsourced the minute a cheaper and younger product is available.

Let’s face it, we live in a personal and professional market economy and when it comes to “self” that market value is dictated by the person we allow ourselves to become. Feel that the world is against you and that is the result you will get. Feel that you are the hottest stock in the market and that is what you will become because you will make that initial investment in yourself. When your time is up on this earth your value is not based on how much you had, but how much you had to offer, and that cannot be achieved until you create a demand in your “self”.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Brink

What goes up, must come down. Not too many people would disagree with that statement ever since a very famous apple hit our friend Sir Isaac Newton oh so long ago.

The funny thing is, how when we lay out a set of circumstances from, say, our history textbook in high school, we can always dictate the outcome. Somehow, this same intuition is lost on ourselves, as we engage in similar behaviours and are yet shell-shocked by the same inevitable outcomes.

Take the Roman Empire for example, or the first British empire, or US RIGHT NOW!!!

Any 'empire' to date has been built on technology, victory at war, or some other kind of political, financial, and populous advantage. And they have all beeen squandered by either a) greed or b) greed.

The Roman empire, for instance, began it's decline after the death of the emporer Commodus. Pertinax was made his successor, and he tried to tighten discipline after the evils of Commodus, only to be slain with the throne offered to the highest bidder.

The first British Empire declined in a less obvious and direct amnner, but effectively over the 2 world wars it's citizens were less and less concerned with their global position and more with their local welfare (safety). That is, the leaders of the day could no longer force the goals of the country to align with their own personal agenda...

... which brings us full circle to today;

the wars that have been fought for oil.

the technologies that have been squashed to bring alternatives to gasoline.

the damage we 'developed nations' are doing to our earth...

we are headed for a monumental crash... and to not see it is either to be ignorant, or to be just as blind with your own perceived power as the leaders in those stories who woke up to their own rude awakening.

How many times must history repeat itself???

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Define T.E.A.M.

For those of you that think that a team is just people who play a game on the same side or who work at the same time in the same place...

A team is actually a group of very different and unique individuals who share a commitment to working together to achieve common goals. Most likely they are not all equal in experience, talent or education, but they are equal in one vitally important way, their commitment to the good of the organization (whether it be family, business, or in sports).

Naturally, all of us want to be part of something bigger than we are...and team relationships fulfill that basic need. They are an immensely powerful force, yet they always need to be nurtured. When they are not, ego's and individualism may develop which can lead to team separation and failure. So, be sure to show each team member exactly how far reaching his or her contribution can be. Be aware that trust, communication, and support are key pillars in the development of any team. And most importantly understand that nothing else will achieve greater results than working as a team.

So then...what makes a team?

Individuals who are not equal in talent, experience or education, but equal in...


It is not realistic to think we can live or work with others without some conflict, but by communicating about the differences, focusing on the common goals and ensuring that all members in an organization are rowing in the same can dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time!

The result : greater success.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Don't Miss the Forest Through The Trees

We've all heard the expression "You can't see the forest through the trees", and usually we can relate this to focusing so closely on the little details that we miss the big picture.

Today we are going to discuss what happens when great opportunities arise right in front of people who can't see opportunity amidst their responsibilities... people who can't see the forest through the trees.

In essence, we attract what is coming to us. This is called the "Law of Attraction" and is the basis for books/ DVD's like "The Secret", or "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".

The Law of Attraction states that whatever we focus on the most will be brought back to us full force via the universe. Believe it or not, if all you do is bitch about traffic problems, even relatively minor traffic will abide by this law, as 3 cars in front of you at a red light will be enough to piss you off.

As it relates to opportunity, we often get so mired in our 'inbox' or 'to do' pile that we bury our head at our desks, and miss a) opportunities to help others that would result in unkown opportunities as they look to reciprocate a favor (and they will), b) personal opportunities with our significant other or children because we come home drained, or c) we miss out on years by keeping on 'autopilot' and reacting to our days rather than dictating them.

Even the Law of Attraction tries to bend the rules to make breaks for "the little guy". Those people who always complain about how much work they have create more work for themselves, all the while they could prioritize and focus their energies into the work that would create opportunities, or lift their head once in a while and see what's out there.

I actually had that conversation today with a bright and talented young man who 'pulled the shoot' (his words) on a great opportunity because he felt overwhelmed. What he didn't realize was the only source(s) of pressure on him were opportunities that were begging him to act upon ONE of them: med school, physio school, national sports coaching, people leadership and a great lifestyle career.

He completely missed the forest through the trees that were 2 feet in front of him, because life happens fast and if we don't have a plan, we don't have a prayer...

Monday, June 18, 2007

who are you angry with?

for all those who have lent their friends money, without hesitation or condition - who then have to chase, remind, beg & harass that friend to repay their debt only to be made like YOU'RE the ass. this one's for you.

for all those who have been on the end of an open ended question where the person is seeking an answer (and you didn't know they only wanted one answer) and they make you feel bad for being honest. this one's for you.

for all those who try to do something nice for someone else, only to hear a complaint, whine, bitch and then have the entire ordeal be turned around and thrown in your face. this one's for you.

in fact, this one is for all those who have tried in any way shape or form to bring happiness, ease, calm, promise, compromise, into someone else's life only to have that effort turned around to make you feel like the ass, we've got advice for you.

....lean into your screen

fuck em.

yup, walk away as fast as you can, do not look back, do not use their one example as the benchmark for all other favors, good deeds & kind gestures you may bring in the near or distant future. just archive that person in the poopy pants hall of shame and do not ever enable them to bring their home brew to your party.

we have a problem these days differentiating between the good and the bad. that problem is only compounded by the fact we have just under zero ability to take responsibility for our own shortcomings, hence we quickly defer to best defense is offense.

well, to all those who lash out at people who are even attempting to do good. be angry with you, for being a loser that has to be reminded you asked, needed, borrowed, took, accepted, and needed, and then failed to return the favor.

you are the shmuck.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why We Waste Time

I came across some information regarding why we procrastinate the other day and while I did not like the information in the article, I did like the reasons they gave for procrastination. Defined as “to postpone something, especially as a regular practice”, procrastination is simply spending time wasting time and is something that most of us frequently find ourselves doing. The five reasons listed are:

1. You Haven't Really Committed to Doing the Job
2. You're Afraid of the Job
3. You Don't Place a High Enough Priority on the Activity
4. You Don't Know Enough to Do the Task
5. You Just Plain Don't Wanna!

If you haven’t really committed to doing the job then you might just have accepted or been given the wrong task. The problem here is that we accept these tasks knowing that they are wrong for us, so to get to the root of the problem we need to ask ourselves “why are we doing this?”, “what is our purpose?” Until we can find a purpose in everything that we do, we will never find the motivation to do the job the right way. Instead we slowly work our way through the task delivering sub par results that our name is attached to. What we forget to remember is that we have the power to say “no”. As difficult as it might be, if you aren’t committed to the task that you are doing, find someone who is and save the people around you the extra work of making up for your disinterest.

Sometimes we are given a task that we are afraid of. Fear in performance comes in two parts, fear of failure and fear of success. Either root of fear produces the same debilitating results and decreased performance. If you are afraid to fail then really take a hard look at the task and your ability to achieve it. Many times just being realistic about our abilities will let us know if this fear is reality or created in our own minds. When the fear is created then we must focus on internal performance rather than what other will think of the end result. There is nothing wrong with giving your best effort and failing, which is a much better alternate then giving little effort and achieving the same result. If your fear is of success then you are probably not emotionally ready to take the next step in responsibility. People who fear success are constantly questioning themselves on what will happen when they succeed. Typically when we are successful we gain new responsibilities and challenges, sometimes greater then we think we are capable of. Remember that you have the power to accept or deny those challenges and we only have top make those decisions when we have proven the ability to be offered them.

If you are in a position where you don’t place a high enough priority on the activity then it is time to find someone who will. We have all had the job that has no emotional attachment to us, but it is a necessity. To let it go means that you are ultimately making the pending process longer and more tedious therefore it is our responsibility to find someone who has an emotional attachment to the task. There is nothing wrong with outsourcing your task therefore focusing your efforts on something that will stimulate you personally. When we have no investment in the work we are doing then we have no investment in the outcome of the event, which will ultimately reflect negatively on our ability to perform.

If you don’t know enough to accomplish the task then it is your responsibility to collaborate with others who do. Great managers know their weaknesses and find others strong in those areas to complement their strengths. This way the job gets done with high quality and integrity. When we are afraid to admit to these weaknesses and move forward with no idea of what we are doing our end result suffers and again we look bad for the result. It is simple to just ask, admit your faults, and move forward. In fact your peers will gain respect for your honesty and you will learn new skills in the process.

If you just plain don’t wanna, then don’t. There is nothing worse then watching someone do something that they don’t want to and it ultimately means that the crappy job that they will do creates more work for the people around them.

Procrastination is something that can easily be avoided when we finally are able to become accountable for our faults as well as our strengths. Once we are able to do this we can then stop pretending to be better than we are and put the task in the hands of someone who can get things done. Time is precious and there is nothing better than having more time because we finally decided to work smarter rather than harder.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Pillars can do more than support the roof that is directly affixed to them.

Pillars, in the sense we use them here, are those things that are solid that create a foundation for your life. Pillars are those things you put your own roof (the life you create) atop.

The great thing is, even if you've never thought about it, and you feel lost or alone right now... chances are you have at least one pillar and that's a great start.

A few examples of pillars are;

Forest (ie the beauty of the great outdoors all around us that can inspire with but a glance)
Fitness (moving your body releases endorphins and can change your perspective about your current situation anytime even if it doesn't make your problems go away).

A few examples of things commonly mistaken for pillars are;
Material things

Keep in mind that you pillars are always there. Your work can change, you could lose passion for what you do if your life isn't in balance, money comes and goes, material things are superficial, and popularity is a circumstance, not a constant.

By identifying the state of the 5 F's in your life, you can see where you need work (on you), who to spend more or less time with, and whether or not you are remaining true to you and the ideals you uphold.

Pillars are called pillars because they are always there. When I moved cities for the first time, I knew I could always rely on those 5 pillars, and the rest would take care of itself so long as I tended them (kept in contact, got outdoors being active, etc).

Because of knowing what was real (what my pillars were) and what was superficial, I can now proudly state that I have a solid roof built on a solid foundation in both Calgary and Vancouver.

Are you frustrated because the roof is leaking? Has it caved in altogether? Time to check the foundation, and see if you have even noticed, let alone appreciated your 5 pillars. Spend time there... when you are at your wits end, and life seems too tough at times, it is your pillars that will support you as well as the roof you are trying to build.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You Can Lead a Horse to Water...

But You Can't Make It Drink!

In today's society there seems to be some confusion about whose fault it is when various individuals and groups fail to reach their potential. So then, what is required to achieve this full potential?

Well, in order to flourish in anything, people need opportunities to do so. However, opportunities are not given...they are earned. And once an opportunity is earned, it is up to an individual or group to take and have the initiative to make the best of it. If they fail to do so, they forfeit their right to complain and have no one to blame but themselves.

Nowadays...some of the the younger generations seem to believe that if they fail to be given an opportunity, it's our fault (manager, owner, parent, etc); if they fail to take advantage of an opportunity that they have earned or given, it's our fault. When really, if a door is opened, it is not the opener's responsibility to browbeat them and attempt to compel them to come in...

it has to be their own initiative and a 'want' that will get them through the doors!

Unfortunately, we have too many people nowadays who constantly make excuses for those who fail to take advantage of their opportunities. Instead, they blame the opportunity providers for not making those opportunities enticing or attractive enough.

That brings up one question - when are we going to return to the time when we put the blame for this kind of thing in its proper place?

Because until we do, we will continue to produce an overabundance of "wait and see'ers" and "underachievers" who are more than willing to point the finger of blame at someone else for their pathetic condition.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Security or Freedom

You can choose between security and freedom.
Choosing security will give you neither.

There are few things in life that are truer than the statements above. About 95% of people have bought into the myth that security is the top of the mountain, the attainment of victory or the goal. We struggle to get the job, to pay the bills, to get the house so we can tuck our loved ones in at night and sit in front of the fire drinking a cup of herbal tea. It is a dream that many of us have. Maybe not in this exact scenario but one close no-doubt to this concept of warmth and security. Simply put, it is a picture of safety.

It is the false belief that we have built our culture on and the reason that so many are crushed when beset with an unforeseen circumstance.

A spouse is struck down by a drinking driver, the youngest one of the children is diagnoses with a life threatening disease that will bankrupt the family, the family just can’t live together anymore and a divorce is the only way. The safety net is pulled from underneath and what once was considered the secure route feels far from it.

To choose security is to join a rat race of people all building futures on foundations of sand, as each and every person believes their warm bed is secure when it is really the farthest things from it.

Choose freedom and you will have that warm bed; fire place and the peace that comes with knowing the dream cannot be pulled form underneath you. It is harder, requires more effort and thought but it is the only real path. Freedom is building a platform of multiple passive incomes. Freedom to choose to do whatever you want in peace is security. It is the more rewarding result but certainly the road less traveled.

You get to choose between security and freedom. Which do you choose?

Monday, June 11, 2007

we are peons!

its easy to understand why some of us actually believe the universe was born into us instead of the other way around. its what makes the economies go round. like black flies in eastern canada, marketers & their messages buzz around you telling you how good you are and what you deserve. hear a lie long enough and you will start to recite & then live it.

hate to burst the bubble, but its not the case. the focus of today's blog isn't directed at people with money, or power or nice homes, its directed at all of us. yes, even those who play the victims, can't catch a break, and / or believe they are owed, entitled, oppressed, just can't, too busy etc.


the world isn't "our oyster", its our saline drip and we need to start treating it as such. we, are ALL insignificants who will one day manage to eradicate ourselves (and generations to follow)if we continue to operate through our misguided intelligence. think about how many times, things have not been able to flow (as they naturally should) because someone had to make it about them. from the simple, to the important.... there is always "one". (remember, don't be the one?)

now we aren't about addressing problems without highlighting solutions, so here are 5 great methods of getting over you.

1. understand you are really not that important to the big scheme of things. shocker i know, but if you kick it, someone else will take your place and you will be forgotten quickly.

2. don't try to impede any sort of forward progress that doesn't really involve or impact you because of a self serving agenda. zip it.

3. be humble. try not to take yourself so seriously in any situation that you bring decision making back to something about you. bottom line is regardless of job, stature or payroll we are all SALESPEOPLE selling something to someone for something.

4. the minute you start to get that itchy rash called 'drama'. cream it up with the reality of 1-2 & 3 and move on quickly.

5. think about others. and really, this is the clincher. start putting yourself in other people shoes and actually seeing it from their vantage points before responding or making the call.

when you are able to get over yourself, the world will present as the cohesive ecosystem its supposed to be.
and you, us and generations to follow will be happier & better for it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Need to Achieve

David C. McClelland, of Harvard University, did a lab experiment where he had people throw a ring over a peg from any distance that they wanted. Most of the people started very close to the peg and then gradually worked their way back, a very smart yet very safe approach to the task. Then there were those that carefully measured the distance where they believed they would achieve mastery, a little risky but potentially an achievable task. Finally there were those that tried to make the toss from very far away, a dangerous throw where chance determines the success.

So what do we learn from such a simple study? Basically everything you need to know about achievement and an individual.

We all have a need to achieve, but feed this need differently. There is a group of people who play it safe, never take a risk, therefore protecting themselves from ever making a big mistake. These people make very low risk decisions therefore receive very low rewards. The polar opposite of this is the group of people who constantly take high risks where they have little control over the outcome. When these people succeed they get great accolades for pulling off the impossible, yet when they fail they can easily brush it off saying that the probability was zero to begin with. These people take high risks, have great (although seldom) rewards, and have little accountability for when things go wrong.

The group that interests me the most is the group in the middle, the group that basically keeps everything moving while the safe people play it safe and the high risk people continue their gambling ways. The group in the middle is the highest achievers because they have the greatest internal motivation, which means that they are driven by the journey, not by the outcome of the project. Their need to achieve doesn’t come out of fear of making mistakes or accolades for landing one huge deal, their need to achieve comes from challenging themselves to improve. This group of people knows that through realistic challenges, they will personally have a greater impact on the outcome of whatever it is they are trying to achieve because they constantly are thinking of ways to get better.

So for all of you that think it is boring being in the middle, that you need to be noticed to get ahead, or that by going unnoticed you can just cruise your way through life, think again. What David McClelland also found was that the people in the middle (achievement motivated people as he calls them) tend to get more raises and are promoted faster, companies with more of these people tend to grow faster and are more profitable, and these types of people are the backbone of most organizations.

Achievement is not a mystery, it is a calculated set of events for which you are in control and accountable. Yes there is risk involved. However, taking calculated yet challenging risks without fear will allow you to achieve much more than it will allow you to fail.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The First Step

Ten years ago I attended a conference in which the key note speaker addressed the crowd in a frustrated tone. He actually stated that he was mad at everyone in the crowd for how little thay had acheived. While we on swim upstream consistently coach removing emotion from leadership in order that the focus remain on the message, his objective was acheived. Everyone thought about what he said and was about to say.

He continued by stating that the most difficult physical act anyone on this planet will ever overcome is learning how to walk. Most of us do this between our first and second year of life, and then, biomechanically speaking, life gets easier ever thereafter.

This is where we leave the message of Paul Chek (for now) and introduce the idium of "crawl, walk, jog, sprint".

To learn anything (physical, technical, intellectual, etc) we must start at the beginning. This (I hope) is not news to anyone. The reason we have to revisit this concept so often is because of those terrible words "yeah, yeah"

How many times have you (or your employees or your children) asked how to do something, only to listen to you draw the blueprint, and then do their own thing? The challenge of parents, teachers, coaches, and all other leaders is that we can never say, show, or teach soemthing just once.

Leadership, after all, is saying the same thing over and over (albeit using different methods and modes of communicating) until our pupil 'gets it'. Our objective is to teach others a skill and have them perform it at their highest ability (to have them sprint).

In order to sprint, we need to crawl, walk, and jog. If we miss a step, we affect the eventual outcome and the entire process. It's kind of like learning to give great public speeches before you learn to listen... people will eventually realize that you only care about your own message and not what the crowd wants to hear from you. They may dub you a 'windbag'.

If we learn to crawl, and master this ability, before we walk, job, or sprint, we will break the 10 second 100m dash (we will move our community, our industry, or our family and even our very existance forward).

Paul Chek (who you will recall gave the keynote address) only attained a grade 8 education, but he researched the science of physical training, and crawled for a long time before he put it into practice (I asked him and he's read over 500 books on the subject). He then walked for years (over 20) before he jogged (started his own business) and then sprinted (started his own certification and his students command $150/ hr for personal training).

Before you demand a sprint race from your pupils... ask yourself if you've taught them how to crawl. Have you taught yourself???

Don't "yeah, yeah" one step, and neither will they.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Carpe Diem

Translation - Seize the Day!

Today's blog is about the emphasis on making the MOST of current opportunities and life. Life is short, time passes by, and opportunities are missed if you don't maxmize what you have.


If you find yourself being a victim - know it and do something about it. Too many people become victims of their own actions and fail to realize the control they have in the situation they are in - guess what, you probably have 100% control over it. Because when you take responsibility for your life and your actions, you are no longer are that victim and instead become an individual with the power to direct your own life.

This doesn't mean that the bad things that have happened to you are your fault or that shitty things don't happen to the best of us (ie. cancer) , but it does mean that your personhood and your life are not defined by a single event. Labeling yourself a victim often leads to self-judgment, and to a life of loneliness and isolation. When you move away from identifying yourself as a victim and instead choose to identify yourself as a survivor who takes responsibility for your life, you open doors that were previously closed to you.

Instead of seeing dead ends, begin to see possibilities. Begin to entertain thoughts of taking center stage in your own life and determining your own destiny. When you shed the label of victim, you can begin to acknowledge your value as a human being. And those who have value, take responsibility for every area of their lives, including their relationships, their careers, and their self-worth.

Life is in your hands an no one else's. My suggestion:

Make hay while the sun is shining!

...and don't be the first to say the sun doesn't come out...because it shines everyday.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Initial Motions

  1. The Mission of the Apostle Paul (1st Century A.D.).
  2. The Great Black Death Plague of Europe (starting in 1347).
  3. Napoleon’s conquest of Europe (c. 1806).
  4. The introduction of “The Pill” as a reliable form of birth control (1960).

These four significant moments in history are all tied together. They each appear on the U.S. News and World Report "Nine hidden turning points in history."

It is the ninth member of this list that is regarded as the most intriguing.

In 1950, General MacArthur asked one man to assist the Japanese in rebuilding their war-shattered economy. Within two years, that man had taught his quality theories and methods to business leaders representing over 80% of Japan’s total GNP. Meanwhile, the US focused only on quantity production, turning a deaf ear to the processes, called the Total Quality Movement, and the repeated attempts to introduce his quality wisdom to post-war corporate America.

After 50 years of statistical study number 9 pointed out that in every process there is a beginning and an end. When you focus on the first 15% of that process and
get it correct, you ensure at least 85% of your desired outcome. By focusing on the first 15% of anything, the remaining 85% will effortlessly follow.

Not necessarily the first man to ever create a system and reap the rewards of consistently delivering the same result but definitely the first to turn a country bereft of an economy after World War II into a world power by using the power of systems.

What it is interesting is that he believed that the first 15% was the most important. He believed that the initial motions that were taken would lead to the fulfillment of the original idea or goal.

W. Edwards Deming was the man behind creating the Total Quality Movement and like so many who have taken his lead after him, he spent his life showing others that if a process could get in motion and get moving in the correct direction the power to create greatness was virtually guaranteed.

Plan your work, work your plan and get yourself in motion. The rest will surely take care of itself. Just ask the Japanese or our friend, number 9.

Monday, June 04, 2007

talk about it.

it's almost comical how difficult we make things for ourselves at times. we are pissed off about something but we don't say anything. we let that instance be compounded by other instances and before you know it we're blowing up about it all.

one of the most effective ways of ensuring we have less than more stress is to talk about it. granted it takes someone on the other side to listen, more times than not you will feel great because you have got what's inside you.... out. we've touched on this before.

we've also addressed the fact, when you are able to reach a point where it really doesn't matter whether the person on the listening end is listening... you have reached a level of cleansing that is very therapeutic. reason i say this is because at this point, you are disabling others from making their baggage & problems yours. by immediately getting it out of you, you don't allow it to build, fester, metastasize into something bigger.

think about all the small things we absorb every day. the questions we have, the feelings that are generated and the emotions we feel. it's not healthy or practical to keep absorbing all of this day after day after day. ever wonder why your parents and grandparents want to talk your ear off? it's because they didn't have the forum, chance or opportunity to do it when they were younger. years of "stuff" has built up and now they are more than happy to share it all with you. listen to them, hear what they are saying and allow them the privilege to purge. (god knows they listened to you).

same with your kids. ask them what they experienced that day. you will be surprised at what you get back, which enables you to continue a healthy dialogue or learning and sharing. don't let them get overloaded with info without having the ability to express.

communication is one of the most essential survival tools we've got. use it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Flase Idols and Fools

We are quickly becoming a role modeless society and focusing our aspirations on the acts of false idols and fools. We are raising a generation of children that are shown the absolute worst that society has to offer through media tabloids, reality TV, and fear causing news stories that are neither uplifting nor inspirational. Every face they see on television or in the movies continue to make their quarterly trip to rehab, while their sport heroes are creating dog fighting clubs and killing themselves while driving drunk. You think that this would turn people off from this new type of celebrity, yet it has only heightened the interest of our youth and distorted their view of what success in life really is, as well as how it can be achieved. Worse yet, we are losing the battle at home where the message of right and wrong is being ignored by the parents who are more concerned with their professional and social life, therefore forgetting that they, not media outlets and schools, are responsible for the life that they brought into society.

Obviously this doesn’t relate to every person reading this blog, but if you really look at all of the problems children are facing today you can draw a significant link to how they are being parented. I was very fortunate growing up because I was raised in a family where both parents worked so that we had everything we needed, but still made the time to recognize and support each of their five children individually, as well as a familial group. When I say we had everything we needed I mean that we had food, shelter, clothing, opportunity, structure, and love (an iPod, cell phone, X Box, car, and bedroom TV aren’t needs, they are wants, and can be earned through finding a job where you actually have to mow lawns in the neighborhood to purchase them). We had plenty of idols from sport stars to musicians and actors, and when those idols messed up we were talked to about what it meant to go to jail. We did not celebrate their mistake, make petitions to keep them out of jail, or look at their entering rehab for the second time in a month as a positive. We were not given excuses for their behavior; instead we were talked to about personal responsibility, accountability, as well as cause and effect.

My parents were by no means perfect but they were present. They knew what we were watching on TV, what we were putting into our bodies, and who we were hanging out with. When these situations didn’t meet their expectations, we stayed at home until we found better situations to get involved in. Basically they parented us until we had the ability to make sound decisions based on our life path. Ultimately they became our role models while the previous idols we had as children were put into their proper perspective. Unfortunately for many of today’s youth perspective has become reality, and by ignoring them in favor of ourselves just means that they will look to another adult or prominent figure to teach them how to be an adult. Hopefully you would never let any one of the in the news “celebrities” baby-sit your child, but unless you become a parent, your child will look to what they see as acceptable adult behavior through others and act accordingly.

Leave the false idols and fools in the rehab facility or jail that they belong in, and do something to become an idol to your child, better yet do something to become a parent to your child.