Monday, December 31, 2007

We must do better,

As we approach the beginning of 2008 we must assure ourselves we will do a better job at making 2008 a meaningful year.

Lets call a spade a spade – we dropped the ball in 2007.
1. Our national leadership lied about blatant state of affairs. A) Kyoto accord, B) Weapons of mass destruction, C) our own back yards bottom lines

2. Our media leadership collectively showcased the worst group of role models in years. A) Hollywood train wrecks, B) disgraced athletes & C) corrupt CEO’s.

3. We, ourselves to a great degree went along with this, accepting the fate and news as if it were an essential daily vitamin.

If we come to terms with this as our reality, as well as how & what we can do to do “our part” in preventing a repeat performance, we can assure ourselves of a better 08.

From a swimupstream perspective, wheat we intend on doing is
• Telling it like it is
• Offering alternative methods of thinking
• Tabling solutions.

It’s pretty simple – so welcome to our 2008. The year we create and live in the manner “we” wish

Friday, December 28, 2007

Accidents Happen

As if we need further proof that the apocalypse is upon us, a 60 year old man is suing an 8 year old boy for a skiing collision in Colorado. After the collision this 60 year old man grabbed the then 7 year old boy, who apologized for the accident, cursed at him and then threatened to sue him. A trial is set for early 2008 where this 60 year old imbecile is seeking $75,000.

This incident is a sad reminder that this society is unwilling to evolve past the instant gratification/someone is always to blame mentality that we have been stuck in for decades now. This is the same mentality we are passing on to future generations of children who already feel that they are entitled to everything and have to earn nothing.

The simple fact of life is that there are inherent dangers in anything we choose to do and if we are unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of an accident, it doesn’t give us the right to exploit the misfortune. When we roll an ankle on the sidewalk it is not the fault of the sidewalk, it is a potential danger of walking on uneven surfaces. When we spill hot coffee on our laps while we drive, it is not the fault of the coffee for being hot and burning us. This same principle applies when we do recreational activities in crowded areas. By putting ourselves in this situation we run the risk of having a collision, which is not the fault of anyone, it is an inherent risk we take on when we decide to participate.

Unfortunately our flawed legal system and greedy residents within the system have found ways to exploit any situation for profit. In today’s society it is the fault of the hot coffee as much as it is the fault of this 8 year old boy. We have given empowerment and fostered victimization to those who do nothing but look for situations where they can strike it rich for their own ignorance and greed.

As the New Year approaches we are given the opportunity to change the way we see empowerment and redefine who is empowered. Hopefully the judge in this case does his/her part and exploits the 60 year old for what he is and gives him what he deserves; a good laugh in the face. Our responsibility in empowerment, however, lies internal first, where we begin to understand that we are not victims and the situations we put ourselves in are for our advancement personally first not financially first. If we are able to do this we will then be able to identify what is an accident and what is malicious, therefore allowing us to act in an appropriate manner.

Until we begin to preach personal accountability and responsibility, we will never gain empowerment. Without empowerment we will continue to live in a world where you are one situation from losing everything at the expense of someone who had been inundated with the idea that they are a victim.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Do We Have It That Bad?

Although this is typically a wonderful time of year when families come together, it is also very hard not to be cynical and disappointed in the way we collectively behave as a society. By 8am this morning more than a few conversations were overhears about how "oh, I didn't get what I wanted for Christmas" or "I ate way too much..."... and perhaps on any other day it would be an easier pill to swallow.

But today in light of recent events, we don't have a right to complain. Today Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a campaign rally for the Jan. 8th election where one of her goals was to help put an end to terrorism. She had considerable favor from the United States and Canada, as she was attempting to gain political control over a country whose last leader took power in a coup in 1999 rather than an election. This is a country on very shaky political ground, with nuclear weapons and a support base for Muslim extremists.

The sad thing is; here is a woman who swam upstream and was KILLED for it. How bad do we have it that by choosing to swim upstream we are rewarded, and in not doing so our only punishment is that we miss out on all the opportunities a North American life has to offer. We simply cannot be so callous that we turn a blind eye to other areas of the world that we don't understand. The fact is, there may be precious little that you can or want to do about a dangerous political scene in the middle east.

There is MUCH, however, that you can do about your own life, it's course, and the impact you have on a society that others could only wish to be a part of. In a world where others are killed for exercising their right to free speech and for trying to make a difference... it is baffling that we still care what Britney will do to screw up her life next, or that we complain about exerting a little effort to move ourselves and others ahead, or that we think we deserve a better shot at success than those in Pakistan or anywhere else.

Give your head a shake -- it is called dumb luck; and to think anything else, and to rely on that luck to continue, or that you deserve a better life than someone born into a more hazardous world -- is just plain dumb. We do not have it that bad, so please remember the perch that you speak from in comparison to the rest of the world before you open your mouth to complain about something that really - isn't that bad to begin with.

And to Benazir Bhutto, it is our hope that you have sparked a vision that others will follow, and that your life made a difference in a troubled part of the world - thank you for swimming upstream and being an example of true bravery and conviction for us all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Last Thursday morning, a female tiger was found with it's head, legs and skin missing at the Three Gorges Forest Wild Animal World zoo in central China. During the night, a group of killers had broke into the room, anesthetized the tiger, opened the cage and then dragged the animal out of the room and butchered it.

That's right!

A group of SICK people broke into a zoo to behead and skin a rare Siberian tiger so that they could turn around and sell the skins and tiger parts [which are used in traditional Chinese medicines] on the black market. 

Actions like this to satisfy one thing - greed.

But guess what, actions like this happen on a daily basis, sometimes we are just too blind to see it.  Here are three examples:
  1. Drug dealing & stealing: If you are a part of it, don't think it's not impacting our society each and every transaction. You are one of the [if not 'the'] major reasons for the increase in violence in our cities. You are trying to take the easy way to get YOU [and no one else] further ahead and forget that families are being ruined, lives are being taken and society is being impacted. 
  2. Littering & lack of recycling: If you are one of those that are too lazy to wait to throw your garbage in a garbage can or take the time to recycle Sunday mornings paper in the recycling bin...think twice next time. Because for every time you throw your garbage out the window when you are driving or put the morning paper under the sink in the are adding to the pollution which is ultimately impacting the world and contributing to the negative changes. Take personal responsibility in preventing global warming and the earth from collapsing.  
  3. Over-parenting & lack of consequence: Set your children up for success by allowing them to experience challenges and overcome adversity. If you choose to always do everything for them, they will never learn & grow to become better. In fact, you are actually disabling them for future challenges. Also, when they partake in an action that is inappropriate or uncalled for don't be scared of discipline. Life isn't don't make it harder for them in the future by preventing them from experiencing the challenges & consequences that come with life. 
Start contributing positively. 
By stop being a part of that sickening group.   

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

When All Else Fails

The easiest thing in the world is to illuminate the obvious; to showcase the lunacy if you will.

While there are a few celebrities that make the job to illustrate a point just that much easier it is because of the world imitating those same people that we are scared. It is the mentality that is seeping into society that makes us care to find others that want to help change our patterns. It is why we care about you. We are all visually and mentally focused on those few celebrity individuals because we are all obsessed by the "car crash". Unfortunately we spend too much of our time looking at others when I think we can all agree, we should be taking the time to understand our own short comings and successes.

So then, what of our lives? We spend many of our hours working out why others do things but very few seconds even trying to figure out why we do the things we do. However, it is on days like Christmas, when like or not, the world seems to stop and we are left with little choice but to see what we are surrounded with and by. Family, friends, distance and/or just our thoughts.

Our regular daily life affords us the luxury of melting in and escaping but it is the holidays, when everyone travels to their big dinners and gatherings, our cities are left bare and many people find a state of mind that is less than positive.

We want to help you and are hopefully you will continue to help us. Today is a day to reflect that you can do what you want with your life, you can succeed and be the person you have always dreamed of and you can help us provide solutions to living the types of lives we all want.

All it takes is...

...a platform of hope.

Hope for better.
Hope for others.
Hope that you will take action on your life.
Hope that the sickness of the world will go away.

When all else fails there must be hope. Nothing can happen without it. So, if life feels great or life is getting you down a touch, hold on to the flicker of light in your heart that is hope. It is the start of everything.

You can make the world a wonderful place to live for generations to come. All it takes is a little hope.

God bless and Merry Christmas everyone. Thank you for all the hope you have given us at Swim Upstream and we hope that we can provide you will even just a bit of inspiration for 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

When business loses pleasure.

It begins well-intentioned enough, an idea driven by one who is committed to making it happen against all odds. They pour their soul into making it appealing to others; to deliver – to purchase – to want to be a part of in any way shape or form.

Often, the entrepreneur is so excited, they could give the service away for free, after all it’s not as much about the remuneration as much as it is about the success & reach of the concept in many instances (at least with very successful business / ideas & projects).

Then comes the adversity. The reality of exchanging currency. Currency for helping deliver the idea through venue’s & people and currency for incorporating the idea into said purchasers life. And with the exchange of currency comes the justification, bartering, positioning and rationalizing. As an entrepreneur it can be one of the toughest challenges if one doesn’t have a high degree of self confidence.

It is usually at this point, business loses pleasure.

Historically speaking, we should have learned much from the fall of the Roman’s, or the plight of the Native Indians, Russians, Chinese, American's - pretty nuch everyone at one time or another in terms of the tipping point in business, where greed overshadowed purpose and destroyed communities. It’s greed that propels us to want more / take more / covet more and it usually comes at the expense of something & someone. Greed is a learned characteristic. In fact so much so, there are compensated experts hired by companies who’s job it is to create a false sense of need within yourself.

That’s right, the greed factor has become more prevalent in our civilian lives because its the mainstay behind what drives our businesses. We don't wait until you need something that you determine - we determine what you need.


Kind of reeks of the white man trading furs & alcohol while kicking the Indians off their land doesn’t it. Californian foreclosure people, what did the mortgage broker look like when he stared you in the eye and said “don’t worry if you get behind in payments, we’ll take care of you?” Probably carried the same musket as the contractor who loaded in the 48 inch flat screen – “got to have one – everyone does”. Probably wore the same fox skinned hat as the appliance guy, car dealer, private school canvasser and the list wraps all the way around your vacant cull de sac.

Ironic, how you too are now kicked off your land on the heels of empty promise and barter (and from your own “people”). Tell us, how does that feel. Better yet, understand how the hell this happens.

Welcome to the world of business where you are either following the heard off the cliff, or your making the smart decision to swimupstream. Guess which is harder to do short term? Guess where which is smarter long term?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Your Path to a Successful Resolution

For many people this is the last week before they change their lives forever. This is the last week of gluttony before they begin to eat their new diet, this is the last week of sloth before they decide to exercise, or this is their last week of greed before they begin to spend more time with their families. This is the week of high hopes and good intentions, the week where everyone is planning on becoming better.

Unfortunately, the reality for the majority of resolutioners is that this is the last week you will have hope, because most resolutions don’t make it out of the first month.

This doesn’t mean that we sack our hopes and continue with the status quo. This doesn’t mean that we throw our goals out the window and succumb to the life we are tired of living. This does mean that we need to understand why we fail so that we have the ability to continue once failure happens. Failure doesn’t stop our resolutions, quitting does. One (quitting) we have complete control over and the other (failure) we have partial control over.

The first reason our resolutions don’t work is because we fail to talk to ourselves correctly. When we make resolutions we frequently use the word “don’t”. “Don’t eat too much food”, “don’t miss the day at the gym”, “don’t waste the day”. When it comes to focus, your mind doesn’t recognize the word “don’t” and because of this we create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy which empowers exactly what we are trying not to do. If we put a purpose to our thinking then we have a more powerful thought process. "I am going to the gym today because………” allows us to focus on why we are doing what we are going to do and takes out the passive nature of “don’t”. When we speak to ourselves powerfully, we create powerful thinking, which then creates empowerment.

The second reason resolutions fail is because we attach our goals to people outside of ourselves. “I am going to spend more time with my family because they need to see me more often” is a great resolution but is essentially generic and external. Half of this resolution is dependant on the idea that your family will be around to spend time with you. Any changes we make in life need to be selfish acts. This does not mean that you are a selfish person; it just means that you need to take control over you before you can become anything to someone else. When we act on the behalf of others, they have the control. When control is outside of ourselves then we don’t stand a chance to make the change because we don’t have the investment in change.

The final reason resolutions fail is because we are afraid to fail. Our fear of failure allows us to back out once things get tough. By doing this we are able to justify to ourselves that we chose to quit, we didn’t fail the task. Your reality is that if you are making a resolution, at some point you will fail, temptation during the initial stages of change are just too great. Failure however is not the end point of the journey, instead it is a new beginning where you are able to start off smarter then you were the last time you started. If you are unwilling to accept your role in failure then you are destined to repeat the same exact failure. If you are willing to see your fault, then you are willing to go beyond fear and enter empowerment, which ultimately will create the change you are seeking.

If you are among the millions of people who make resolution at this time of year, remember that without the power of you, your resolutions don’t stand a chance. If your current state of mind won’t allow you to commit, then save yourself the time and don’t try to fake the commitment. If you are seeking change in life you need to understand that resolutions aren’t a once a year thing, resolutions are an every day effort that ebbs and flows with the demands and changes of your life; once you are ready to accept them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You Don't Get Defensive If You're Right.

This post today goes to all the teenagers out there who swear at their parents when they don't get their way...

It goes out to the girls who cut off contact from their families for trying to get them to dump their abusive boyfriends...

It goes out to the employees who make every excuse in the book for not doing their job...

It actually goes out to all of us at some point or another in our lives...

You don't get defensive when you're right. What this means is that when you know you're right, and other people fight your point of view, you will try every approach to get them to come around. You listen, try to understand their contentions, and then constructively educate them on how they may be missing the point.

When you're right - you know it, so it is just a matter of time, patience, and wrapping your delivery in such a way that other people see your valid points and come around.

When you're wrong - you fight tooth and nail because deep down you don't want to admit it. You take feedback emotionally, and you fight it defensively. You halt any and all progress by resorting to the spoiled kid throwing a temper tantrum in the toy store.

We all need to remember humilty and that we are not always right. Sometimes the right answers may be scary and require a lot of work. Sometimes we settle in a relationship and it is easier to fight your family and tell them they're wrong than it is to be alone.

But deep down we know that the person who shouts the loudest is NOT always right, and we know when WE are wrong. Fool everyone else, but you must sleep in that bed tonight beside the abusive boyfriend, or with your troubles still firmly in your mind.

Drop the excuses and justifications. Allow people who care about you to have their say. Don't halt all progress by throwing a temper tantrum. You are better than that. We all deserve to be happy, but in order to do this, we all have things that we can improve in ourselves that we may not like to hear at the time.

If you find yourself getting hot under the collar and acting rash and senseless, remember that you could be wrong, and someone else may have your best interest in mind.

Perhaps you should listen to them instead of pushing them away.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Here are the FACTS

  1. An estimated 66% of North Americans are either overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  2. About 60% of North Americans drink alcohol, and about a third of drinkers have five or more drinks a day. 
  3. And about a quarter of all North Americans take no leisure-time physical activity.

For all of you North Americans that this applies to...get your head out of your ass and realize that although we drink alcohol similar to the Europeans, there are a large % of us that don't do ANY daily activity.

This is OUT of CONTROL & ridiculous.

We are not doing ourselves any favors by being fat, out of shape, and drinking machines...besides getting our money's worth out of the couches we bought.

Look to change this today or at the very least in 2008. And here is a way to start:

  1. Start setting realistic health and fitness goals - starting with a long-term goal or destination and working backwards with short term goal to help you stay consistent throughout the year. 
  2. Don't believe the hype - the entire New Years Resolution cry has turned from a well- meaning motivational tactic to an opportunistic marketing campaign. You don’t ‘have to’ rush out and enroll in everything today! This will only lead to overload, short circuit and a defeated outlook. Give yourself some time to recover from the holiday season and then print the roadmap that’s realistic for you. 
  3. Be multi-dimensional. When setting goals, take all of the spheres of life; physical, social, spiritual, emotional & intellectual into account and make sure to address each one. Often, we focus on one sphere and quickly realize we have lost the balance needed to be happy across the board. 
  4. Set timelines for all of your goals. One of the largest problems with remaining on track is not having specific quantifiable timelines to support the many qualifying goals. 
  5. Include family and friends. Not only for the balance point previously mentioned, but the inclusion of children, spouses and friends in your rebirth will serve to strengthen these relationships while doing something that’s healthy. Win / Win. 

Taking the time to think about effective strategies for accomplishing your goals in 2008 will increase the likelihood of crossing your personal finish line safely and in the time you desire. On the way, you will have experienced many small personal victories and have steered away from the all or nothing phenomenon that traditionally accompanies well-intentioned resolutions.

Start the new year with the motivation to do more - and this isn't the motivation to get off the couch and get another bag of chips!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What Happened to Hugh?

When Hugh was young his daily life was full of taking risks. He rode his bike with "no hands", climbed impossible trees, and jumped off of swings at ridiculous heights. There were go carts built from broken palettes, cliff jumps into uncharted waters and exploration was used in discussion that casually replaced the word "lost".

Then as Hugh grew older , and presumably wiser, he became more cautious. Caution turned into fear as he came into his teen years and fear turned into paralysis. Hugh didn't ask a girl to the school dance because he was afraid she might say, "No". He turned down the chance to play his guitar at the talent show, because he feared he might make a fool of himself. Hugh was scared of being wrong, getting hurt or falling short.

Hugh decided the best way to avoid risk was to blend in with the crowd - you know - to fit in. he hid the parts of his character that were unique and invented a personality that he thought would be acceptable to everyone. Brilliance became blandness.

Perhaps, you've seen Hugh. He's the bank teller you've been going to for five years who still thinks your name is "Next!" He's the waiter who shrugs when you ask about the specials. He's the service manager, who makes you feel like an interruption, the doctor that seems disinterested in your concerns, the person behind the counter with the vacant look who say, "nope, your order's not ready," and doesn't offer a time frame for when it might be. He is also the parent that just presses play on the DVD player when his kids want so desperately to go outside and spend some time playing swords or Peter Pan. In short Hugh is just average.

But this isn't a bad story because after looking in the mirror Hugh saw his inner light for the first time in many, many years. He longed to cliff jump again and get lost in the mountains. He bagan to ride his bike and do fun dates with his wife. Hugh got uncomfortable and began to enjoy what life had to offer. Hugh was so pleased that he had so much of his life still to embrace and his on regret was that he just wished he had never left life for so long.

Do you think you might be like Hugh? If so...

It is time to look in the mirror and ask yourself, "What happened to Hugh?"

Monday, December 17, 2007


How do our anthems end again? – is it land of the stupid and home of the knucklehead or is it we sit on standby for me?

We remember blogging about 1.5 years ago about the autoworkers unions and how they were going to be absolutely mess things up over the next couple of years because of what we saw as a pretty obvious reality; a) entire nations were willing to work harder AND smarter than us and b) we had run our operations into the ground with our arrogant “WE DESERVE MORE” North American attitudes.

We were so detailed in our timeline of what was going to happen, a couple of diehard readers even asked us “didn’t you forecast this recession – and yes, you are heading towards a recession so stop lying to you?’ Absolutely, two Harvard Greenspan’s over here making about 25 cents / hour conducting our 2 minute independent study over beers in the den. Oh my, did it really happen…. Get out of here. You mean you can’t get something for nothing long term? There’s no shortcut to success? C’mon our countries have been marketing the hell out of the fact the well was as infinite as my imagination.

Here are a few other NO WAY’S that just… well… really knocked us right off of our seats when we finally heard ‘the truth’.

1. Marion Jones took steroids. NO…. WAY…. You mean…. – no – I won’t believe it still. You are lying. And there’s no way you will convince us there are more? Especially in the USA.

2. 80 major league pitchers took steroids too. Again, GET OUT OF TOWN. Those men who started playing at 175 pounds, and finished at 260 with 2 foot foreheads – breaking bats over there legs when they struck out – were juiced? Man, did they pull the wool over my eyes.

3. There were not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? COME ON. Seriously, space shuttles, satellites that can zoom into my house and get my shoe size from my closet as I sleep – not your guys fault. Thanks for the spin doctor or work. The whole axis of evil - Austin Powers / deck of cards - texas-hold-em thing. If we were any smarter…. right over our heads.

4. Canada and the Unites States are going to renege on the environmental accord. NO WAY. You mean when the chips are down, money IS more important that talking the lead on saving the world? Totally agree - $@%, we’ll only live till 70 anyways, leave that problem to someone else. Great work Al Gore, all those awards – sounded compelling in theory.

5. North Americans are the most OBESE society in the world. YOU LIE!! (belch)..Fast fried food shouldn’t’ be our staple? Say it ain’t so! What if we just take steroids and run on the treadmill like our hero’s and mentors?

6. People around the world are starting to hate us. COME ON, WHY? All we do is talk when it benefits, renege on the world platform, invade peoples space and substitute the word "policy' for dictatorhsip. What’s so wrong with that, happens on Survivor every week.

7. The housing market is going in the tank. GET OUT OF DODGE. You mean we can’t really afford to borrow on top of borrow and not expect someone to eventually come a callin? Hey… that man in the fancy car and swishy add on the back of a bus lied to me.

8. This generation is inherently lazier than those of the past. WHAT, WHEN DOES THIS STOP! How could this be #8 on the NO WAY list. You mean if we just keep giving our kids accolades and baseless kudo’s while we expect zero and prevent any adversity from landing in their laps – they’ll not be motivated to try and accomplish something on their own? whoa, that’s heavy. Plus, revisiting 1-7 above and the stellar example we are setting – how is this even possible?

9. We are in a me society. REALLY? Is this why no one can say hello, everyone’s plugged into their preference and people would rather watch someone get killed in front of them than rush to the aid because it’s “not their problem” – makes sense…. But I don’t believe you.

10. Humans are the deadliest virus on the earth. NOW YOU”VE GONE TOO FAR. Just because we consume with little regard, deplete entire regions and then move on, abuse the worlds ecosystems, kill other species because they inconvenience us and find ways we can live longer so as to exert more damage doesn’t mean we are deadly!

Now, it’s an embarrassing reality that even saying this will have little effect on the masses, but we have a couple of words for those directly responsible for the above.


And for the rest of us who continue to be passively & pathetically swept along because after all “what can I do”

WAKE UP. One day you too will pay the price for our national IGNORANCE, wait a second, did that already happen?

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's Their Bad Day, Not Yours

I’m guessing, but on an average day each person must come in contact with at least 100 people. We are surrounded by people commuting to work, while at work, in the supermarket, and when walking the streets. Within these 100 or so people we meet, it usually only takes one to ruin our day. You get cut off in traffic, your coworker calls in sick, a shopper has more than 12 items in the express lane, or someone accidentally bumps into you. No matter what the cause, the effect is that our mood is altered for the worst.

“I was having a great day until…….” is the opening line of someone afflicted by another’s negativity. Instead of keeping the negativity to themselves, they recruit more people to join them in their misery because it is their responsibility to make others feel as bad as someone made them feel. They are a part of the cycle and feel that it is their obligation to continue its flow.

We do not have to give in to negativity when it presents itself to us; we choose to give in to negativity when it presents itself to us. One thing that is expected of us as adults, in fact it separates us from children, is that we have the ability to control our emotions. This control is granted to us through the choices we make and when we make the choice to react we then give control externally to the person we are reacting to.

The path to success lies in our ability to keep our focus on what is relevant to our success. When our focus shifts from internal to external we give up our greatest power; control. The longer we can keep our focus internal the greater chance we have of maintaining control, therefore freeing up valuable brain space to make positive choices. This is the difference between having a positive day and a negative one. By remaining present within ourselves we negate the chance of being sucked into the negativity black hole because we are so focused on what we have to do we realize that we don’t have the time to spend on someone or something that will steer us off our course to success.

Negativity stunts our ability to succeed by creating stress, anxiety, and self-doubt, while our ability to remain positive gives us the ability to stay optimistic, calm, and focused. Both states will remain with us for prolonged periods of time and affect the way we interact with others throughout our day, therefore either enhancing or prohibiting our ability to succeed.

The path to success is filled with many obstacles and is difficult enough when you are focused and in control. This is all the reason more to not let someone else’s bad day become your own.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Better Get Behind The Eight Ball.

On the heels of a week in which we are discussing moving yourself forward (and especially after Curtis' blog yesterday re: how YOU must do for yourself) - time to set yourself up for success in 2008.

Do you know how to set goals? Do you know how to plan long term? Do you have long term life goals, but no tangible path to move you closer to those goals this year? Well then this one's for you!

A. Big Picture. This is where you determine a theme for your year, or a Personal Mission Statement (PMS). This gets all the easier with practice, and you may want to actually hit step 2 before step one if planning a year in advance is a new process for you. The reason is your PMS should help align all of your goals. If you are entering this process like a blank chalkboard; alignment will be tough until you list your goals and pull out the common themes. My personal mission statement of "set the pace for others to follow" has many connotations regarding the pace of my own self development, and the pace at which we on swimupstream plan to lead others; but this is only derived through a strong relationship with what I hope to achieve this year.

B. Long Term Goals. These should be set ambitiously, but realistically for what you hope to achieve in 12 months time. You should set these goals for every area of your life. One model to use and a few examples of each are as follows:
Business Goals: Increase annual revenue by 15%; improve customer retention by 12%
Physical Goals: Hike the Grand Canyon April/ West Coast Trail May/ Bike Moab October
Social Goals: Spend more time with quality people who I can learn from
Spiritual Goals: Make a habit out of meditation; spend more time in nature (or go to church every Sunday for some)
Intellectual Goals: Take 1 course on leadership; read 8 books that will teach me a new skill or improve the ones I have
Emotional Goals: Leave the past in the past by re-tracing where I came from and identifying and eliminating my personal baggage.

While some of these goals may be very tangible (business and physical), others may be more subjective (spend more time with quality people, deal with personal baggage). Nonetheless, it is very important that you set meaningful goals in each area. You will see that the goals that seem very subjective actually turn into very tangible actions and targets over the shorter term. Include as many dates, numbers, and details as you can here, so that you always have a) specificity and b) accountability for yourself in the planning and follow up process. Once the long term goals and accountability for them have been established, we are on to...

C. Short Term Goals. This is usually 3 months at a time. The trick here is to take those big long term goals and turn them into bite-size chunks where you are not overwhelmed by the big picture. Using the above example...
Business Goals: Implement customer retention strategy a,b and c (include dates). Roll out customer survey by Jan 12th. Keep every customer this quarter (insert tracking system here). Increase revenues by 5%.
Physical Goals: Cross-country ski every weekend to build fitness base over winter. By end of quarter transition to hiking to prep for Grand canyon/ west coast trail. Use bike during weekday fitness sessions to make Moab transition easier.
Social Goals: Evaluate every meaningful relationship in my life in terms of what each partner is bringing to the table. Make an informed decision regarding where every relationship is leading each other and re-invest time accordingly - active and well-communicated process. Done by x date.
Spiritual Goals: Meditate 10 min every morning/ church every sunday/ get out to Banff or Whistler or Aspen, Colorado next month for 3 days (book this week).
Intellectual Goals: Book leadership course by Jan 15th. Read book xx and yy to improve my personal accountability and organizational habits (dates). Perhaps swimupstream is that book (BUY Volume I of the Swim Upstream Book Here)
Emotional Goals: Write out the story of my life including every strong influence. Go into detail on the important events that have shaped your life. In what ways do you still hang onto the past? Getting this done will help you understand why and then how to stop this as per your annual goal. Set a completion date, but know that this is a process that may morph into something bigger and should not be rushed so long as you are actively attacking it.

From here again include days/ week that things are to get done, important dates, and accountability for each (be it written in your planner or your electronic reminder, etc). Just as you break down the quarter, now you can take these goals and further break them down into each month, week and each day. The trick is to start with BIG goals - why would you PLAN mediocrity? Once you effectively break down the big goals into little things you can do every day instead of huge things you have to do once or twice, it actually becomes easy to be great and achieve mountains by taking one little step at a time. There is more detail of course when it comes to planning out each day, but we can go into that - the trick is to hit yearly planning and inform you ahead of time so you can use it (it's not what you know but what you do with it).

The key is; do it NOW; before 2008 starts and other people (ie your boss) start throwing deadlines at you from every corner. If you don't prioritize yourself and your own life - no one else will. This is very common, and instead of taking accountability for their own lack of planning, people often blame their boss as being too demanding; when planning ahead could mean meeting all of your bosses deadlines plus all of your own.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if this were the case? Do you have a good reason why 2008 can't be that year? Didn't think so... get busy planning... get busy living!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Leverage Yourself Off of Yourself.

In life, there are those individuals that, for every moment in time, try to get ahead & reach their goals to be the best that they can be. Although this type of attitude is inspiring and positive [and something that is promoted here on swim upstream], unfortunately during this process some people [unconsciously and even consciously] try to leverage themselves off of other people or other people's connections.

This isn't right. And in fact, is unhealthy. What we must learn to understand is that in order to get ahead, leveraging yourself off of yourself [and not others], is the positive path to follow.

Here is a start and is probably nothing different than what you have heard before:

• you work hard & give 110% = increase in return/opportunities [work hard = get rewarded]
• maximize the people you are surrounded by & follow the systems = see quicker & better results [shortest distance between 2 points is straight line]
• expose yourself to risk & adversity = increase opportunity to grow [no risk, no reward]
• understand that we are only as good as the members in our teams [together everyone achieves more]
• take advantage of every opportunity [every play of everyday]
• focus on the $ & you will never make it to the level that you want. focus on your passion & you will make more money than you initially desired [follow your passion]
• share with those coming up & leave a legacy [twice the beauty is seen when shared]

When you follow the basics & 'common sense' [even though common sense isn't common at all], you build

1. credibility - that will open up more doors, opportunities & avenues of growth
2. experience - that will allow you to take on further responsibilities with a greater skill set & knowledge to do so
3. results - that will provide you with the tools [time/money/people/etc] to do more with

When you leverage yourself, off of yourself, professionally [start at the bottom of a company, take on added responsibility as a leader in the company, become a manager in the company, invest as an owner in the company, take on future opportunities, etc.] it is NO different than when you leverage yourself personally [take out a mortgage & buy a house, pay off your mortgage & buy a recreational property...and the list goes on]. Remember, if you are not in debt [smart & healthy debt] you are not growing [and building equity].

You have an opportunity every single moment of every single day to work towards a long term vision. This vision does not have to be set in stone and can change along the way but you must work hard everyday to contribute to that vision if YOU want to see YOU excel in what YOU want to do in LIFE.

Don't take advantage of those around you to put you further ahead. Leverage yourself off of yourself to take advantage of YOU in order to get ahead.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh, The Places You'll Go

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Dr. Seuss

Swim Upstream note: This was the last book ever published
by Dr. Seuss himself. First set in print in 1990 it is a book I
read weekly for my son...but really I read it for myself.

p.s. The first ever Swim Upstream book is now taking pre-orders
for delivery in about two weeks. Volume one is full of insightful prose,
controversial subject matters and advice for proceeding in life.
We are proud to offer this coffee table volume and if you want to
make your bathroom reading an incredible experience for all that
visit then click here and start swimming.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The path of least resistance.

The day was getting longer and the trek (originally scheduled for 2 hours) was well into hour 5. Descending a rolling hill, we came upon a fork in the road with two very distinct & separate paths. On the right was a trail marked “the high way”. The high way was a knurly trail, eclipsed by a dense undergrowth that wound its way through (what appeared to be) torturous terrain through rocky outcroppings. We could clearly make out the silhouettes of people moving very freely into the low levels of the horizon. As we stood there, a man emerged from the trail and walked towards us. Sweating profusely, he stopped to offer his take. “the trail gets much better after you make it through the bush”. “I made it all the way up and the vista is breathtaking”. He continued by explaining the reason he had backtracked was to get his brother off of the trail to the left. A trail marked “the path of least resistance”.

The path of least resistance stretched as far as the eye could see in a straight, flat line. It was 5 feet wide by a million feet long and it was jam-packed with people. To get on the trail, there was a one month wait (simply bcs it was not moving), yet people were taking numbers to stand in line. A small town had been created where people had set up make shift homes along the side of the route. Luckily, a few of the people who ventured up the high way doubled back to provide all the necessary services for those waiting to get on the path of least resistance. There was a small Home Depot (from which people could purchase all the necessary camping supplies), Starbucks, (so people could fill up on java and discuss) and mega complex under construction, just to put just about everything else under one roof.

As we headed up the high way, we spoke in awe of how and why so many people choose the path of least resistance. If the high – way offered so much more in terms of accomplishment, perspective and vista, why was it being so under utilized? We deduced that the first cost to venturing onto the high way came in the form of sacrificing convenience. The high road was overgrown, challenging and in some spots clearly dangerous, making it inconvenient to many travelers. People enjoy maximal returns on the heels of minimal investment and to compound that problem, societies brightest have spent countless hours of study and research to ensure we can profit from lazy people. The only problem with such over-convenience is that it comes with a lifetime warranty, when really there is no such thing. At any given day, the power can go out and when we are not equipped to be inconvenienced, we suffer immensely. We need to get more comfortable at being uncomfortable for growth to occur.

Another reason the path of least resistance was so popular revolved around the lack of education of critical points. What was the exact degree of difficulty? How long was the undergrowth before the path cleared? What could people expect ¾ of the way and at the end of the trail and how did that differ from what they could expect on the path of least resistance? As there was no one there to direct people at the fork in the trail, many of the decisions were based on the movement of the masses. In the case that someone did ask, they were given vague or un-assuring answers based on the personal bias of those experienced on the high way travel. People need to know ‘all the facts’ prior to making critical decisions. Again, because arriving at the answers was not convenient we need to make it a priority to supply them with this information before they choose to take the ticket and head into line. (Perhaps a bookstore in the mega complex)

Lack of confidence rounded out the ‘big three’ as far as reasons. As we spoke to many of those who were standing in line to get in line, we were amazed at how so many had drawn their own conclusion simply out of looking at the initial terrain for the high road. “Too much work”, “In a hurry”, “All these people can’t be wrong”, “I heard this was as shortcut” and “There is just no way I could do that” were the top five justifications for not even attempting the trek. We wondered as to what these people had been predisposed to have such a low level of confidence. Basically, it sounded as though they sought comfort with others in the same boat. People seem to migrate towards social conformity as a way of enhancing their own self - confidence without even realizing the sacrifice they are making to their own standards. We need to recognize and reward individuality in our ‘democratic society’ instead of paying so much mental rent to corporate presidents.

As we made our way to the top of the last rock face, we looked over the vast landscape and incredible view. It was truly spectacular. We pulled out our basket and found an expansive meadow to get set up for lunch. To the left, in the distance, we could see the enormity of the path of least resistance and it reminded us of a statement my grandfather once shared about being the lead dog. He said “the view only changes when you are the lead dog, otherwise you spend your entire trip staring right at the ass in front of you and after awhile, that gets depressing”. We chuckled about that and all we had learned while taking the high way and just how valuable the experience was to our overall development. It made us re-evaluate how we wanted to continue to live our lives as well as how we wanted to influence the lives of our children. We made some mental notes and finished the trek on our own time. We didn’t need to wonder how long it took everyone else

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pre-Order Now!!!

Our fellow Swim Upstreamers,

In October of 2006, the 5 Swim Upstream team members came together to write a daily blog to share insightful information which may go against the grain of conventional & contemporary thinking. Our intention was to provide daily articles on leadership perspectives, world events, and motivational thoughts to help & encourage people to move your own life and the lives of those around you forward.

With some great response and numerous requests, the swim upstream team are pleased to announce the release of our first book Swim Upstream - Unsubscribing to Conventional 'Wisdom'. Ideally, it is a coffee table book, written by the five of us, of over 100 inspiring and thought provoking articles that will have you wondering why you do the things you do.

This book can be pre-ordered now by clicking here.

Lastly, we wanted to take the time to thank everyone in advance for the support each and everyone of you have provided the swim upstream team in making this possible. Whether it be your feedback and advice, your subscription to our daily blogs, or even yourselves being the inspiration behind our articles, all of it is greatly appreciated.


The Reason is Legacy.

The past 2 weeks have been very cool. Of course you expect us to say this on swim upstream, because we have the best jobs in the world - live by example and apply the principals of leadership daily. So why were the past 2 weeks cool or special compared to others?

Because is the journey of swimming upstream, I swam up to a friend of years past who was swimming as hard as he could upstream. Mike is a 2nd year high school physical education teacher in possibly the toughest postal code in Calgary.

He works with kids who other teachers are glad they don't have to... and he loves it. As a second year high school teacher he implemented a high performance sports performance class (akin to 'advanced mathematics' or 'discovery science'). Considering the red tape to implement ANYTHING through something as large and diverse as a school board, and the fact that this is athletics (which is always being downsized) - this is a monumental achievement.

After watching Mike deliver the class now two times, it was apparent that he meant what he said regarding the inspiration for the class...

"I did this because I wish someone did it for me when I was 15". It sounds so simple, but when you think about execution, this 30 year old husband and father takes (A LOT of) time away from his family to give to kids who he has barely met. The reward? Some thank him and stay after class to ask a question, but that's not it.

The real reward is in the giving in the first place... and the effect (that cannot be measured, estimated, or calculated later) is that I guarantee you a new breed of mentors will arise amongst the 'ME' generation because of the proven fundamentals he is teaching in that class instead of padding more egos and leading more kids astray.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Missing Link.

If you were to closely take a look around at all the successful people that we all are surrounded by it becomes abundantly clear that their achievements are directly related to the enjoyment they derive from their work. These successful individuals have found their passion, devoted themselves to it and have prospered because of it. Chances are, every single one of them is doing what they love to do.

Think about it. How many people do you know that has made a fortune doing what he or she dislikes? How many people have created happiness in their lives doing what they hate doing?


And that is the missing link. Let me explain.

The choice of how to make a living is perhaps the single most important of all our decisions, yet it's often the one most neglected. Why? Because sometimes we feel we have to take a job because of financial needs, or we are steered into a career because our parents have ingrained it into our minds that this is what we should be doing...when really our heart isn't in it. What we must learn to understand is that everyone has his or her own specific mission in life. It cannot be replaced by something else, nor can someone else do it for you [including your parents]. It is everyone's task to discover his or her uniqueness and find an opportunity to implement it.

At the same time, there is no amount of money, no matter how much it is, that will ever compensate you sufficiently for remaining in a job [particularly one that prevents you from fulfilling a dream or follow your passion]. The reality is, people's whose whole objective is making a million dollars, usually don't.

What you must do is find a product or a service that you believe in passionately, because without that you will never be successful. Let alone enjoy life. Start by believing in yourself & believing in your talents, strengths, and likes. Then search out to see how you can best use these interests & abilities. Very often it's a lack of self-confidence that keeps us in positions we don't like. If this is the case then embark upon a daily program designed to build self-confidence. Make this your first priority, and once this is achieved, your perspectives too will change.

Look at Steven Speilberg. For him, making a movie I am sure feels natural from idea to production to theatres and to deny that would be to deny his innate talents and passions. 

By engaging his interests and following his enthusiasm, Spielberg has been able to become the success that he is today. Spielberg not only has passion for the movie making process in general, but for the topics he chooses to cover as well. And that is what makes him so GREAT.

Life is filled with choices and opportunities. Follow your heart and your instinct. Find something you can be passionate about and devote yourself to it. This is where your personal fulfillment as well as your contribution to the world lie. And most of all don't let people [co-workers, family members, friends, etc] tell you that you work too hard or you care too much...because the last time I checked,

no one complains when they receive GREAT service.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fun Is Hard Work

It takes a lot of hard work to have fun. We have reached that time of year where people are ruing their lost summer opportunities. Children, despite their complaints, long for the structure and social atmosphere of school; parents, despite their fake shrills of "I can't wait until they go back", actually think of all the time they should have taken away from work to spend with their children, and for the most part we all wish we had done just a little bit more with our time this summer. You know? Accomplished something to be proud of.

Why is it every time something amazing occurs it has generally stemmed from someone's hard work? Their never seem to be magic wands or fairy godmothers just plain old hard sweat equity.

Think of great food prepared with enthusiasm or theme parties where attention to detail has helped put everyone in the mood. Remember events where spectators and competitors are cared for adding up to increased spirit and fanfare. Even think about when people just want to relax. It's the people that accomplish the most relaxing mood that have struggled to tie up their loose ends so they can focus purely on themselves.

Organizing fun seems like it may be two concepts at odds but that could never be farther from the truth. Actually, fundamentally, humans crave structure and love organizing something so it works well. Why would it change when it came to the meager topic of fun?

This is why it is so strange that the world is so lazy. Why do we procrastinate so much?

"I should go for a ride."
"Maybe tomorrow, this T.V. show on hyena mating calls seems to be really exciting..."

Every one of you/us at varying times have felt the sensations of 'just doing it' only to sloth back into your old ways of procrastinating. That day you forced yourself out on the bike [insert fun idea here] elicited the usual response of "I can’t believe I didn't want to do this two hours ago. What was I thinking?" Adrenaline flowing, mind full of oxygen, and your heart all pumped up, this is when you need to plan your next necessary ride. But you don't and I'll tell you why.

You haven't made any priorities and therefore you don't step up to the hard work. There is nothing for you to follow in your personal life, fitness life, or your business life and the workload just seems overwhelming. Where do you start and how? The T.V. clicker seems like a good place. Maybe a video game or a nice bottle of gin will help me get going...

During the war the term triage came to use on battlefields by army hospitals and you need to become aware of its meanings. In that time triage was a process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for immediate medical treatment. Ever wonder why you go to emergency with a broken arm and sit around for seven hours. News flash; your not at risk of dying so you are de-prioritized. The process is working on you.

Newer meanings have come to light and the dictionary aptly spells out triage stating that it is 'a system used to allocate a scarce commodity, such as food, only to those capable of deriving the greatest benefit from it.' Or another meaning is 'a process in which things are ranked in terms of importance or priority.'

It says a scarce commodity is allocated. Like, perhaps, your time...

Hard work and prioritizing your time; how do the two relate?
Get out your PDA, laptop organizer, raspberry, or old fashioned pen and paper, and start listing your goals. Now prioritize them. What do you want to do and when? Then break them into little bite sized jobs and times so that these goals can be accomplished. Piece by piece you will begin to see that hard work organizing yourself, triaging your life, and getting down to the manageable but still difficult work of every day life, will vastly reduce the amount of procrastinating you do. There really isn't any time to procrastinate because life is waiting for you.

By piecing together small jobs the big goals get attained but by not knowing what you should be doing with yourself, ultimately, your mind decides that 'nothing' is the order or organization it wants to maintain.

So, as the saying goes 'If you want something done give it to a busy person'; give it to a busy, organized, prioritizing monster of a person.

You want to ride more, so organize your day and goals around making that happen.
Prioritize the fun!

Monday, December 03, 2007

karma & bullies

In most fabled stories, the weak and meager rise from tyranny, band together and overthrow the behemoth. David and Goliath, Stand by Me, 300, heck even the little engine that could all give credence to the inevitable reality. Its likely due to the adversity bestowed on the little people that forces them to do things like band together, formulate a plan, lead a role and embrace one for all as they stand victorious atop the grassy knoll.

Without venturing too far to the dissident side, we would like to say this is something a few higher ups (particularly geographic leaders) need to wrap their heads around. You can’t reign as bully forever without an eventual backlash to your behaviors. And when you get that backlash don’t a) be surprised and or b) think that being more of a bully is going to restore harmony in your proverbial playground.

Sometimes we’re shocked… by your shock “we can’t believe this is happening to me & us!” What the fuck did you think was going to happen when you walk into someone else’s house, impose your will (policy) and try to take up residence? If they aren’t strong enough to physically fight back, you can be sure as hell guaranteed, they will capitalize on every ‘little opportunity’ to make your stay HELL until you do leave…. 1 water drop on the forehead all night at a time.

We completely agree, the worlds playground needs order, otherwise you have anarchy, however that order is delivered through smart, calculated, big picture leadership & true diplomacy, not gr 12 johhny blue jeans repeatedly pushing down grade 6 suzy summer dress to prove he’s in charge.

People will only tolerate that for so long before they mace his eyeballs and light him on fire at which point there’s cheering, not sympathy.