Friday, February 29, 2008

Happiness

Ask anyone who has stated that they are unhappy what it will take for them to be happy and they will tell you “I will be happy when….” The “when” in happiness is usually tied to something that is either external or out of their control; or both in some cases. “I will be happy when I get a new car”, “I will be happy when I get desert after dinner”, “I will be happy when I receive a raise at work”.

Happiness is a billion dollar industry. We have pharmaceuticals, books, motivational speakers, and yes, blogs, that all tell people how they can obtain happiness, yet millions of people around the world remain unhappy.

Truth is, there is no universal method to happiness because happiness is an individual state. I know what will make you happy as well as you know what will make me happy; which translates to neither of us having any idea about the other.

The only real fact known about happiness is that happiness through external possessions is a temporary state of being. By reaching out for external objects to provide us our happiness, we further distance ourselves from creating long term happiness. That new car will make us happy until the next version comes out with better performance. That raise we are seeking will create happiness until we realize that someone out there is making more while doing less. In essence, our happiness, when attached to external objects, will fulfill us immediately, but will not have the staying power to create long term happiness.

Our fault in our search for happiness is that we keep reaching for external sources of happiness when everything we need is internally located. Our happiness is an emotion, a state of mind, and directly connected to our ability to fulfill our personal needs. We take the quick fix towards happiness because we don’t have the internal strength necessary to put in the time it takes to achieve true sustainable happiness. Because of this, we take shortcuts and seek immediate happiness through objects and possessions.

One of the realities of life is that we don’t need external objects; they make our lives easier and in some cases enhance our lives, but we don’t need them unless we are seeking an immediate elevated state of mind.

I am not going to tell you what you need to do to become happy, nobody has that ability, but I will inform you that your happiness has less to do with what you have externally, and more to do with what you have internally. How you fill your internal garage in order to find happiness is your responsibility because only you know what will fit inside.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A New Low

Not one to watch a lot of television, I was horrified by what I saw during the little I did watch this week...

There is a new show on called "Moment of Truth"... while flipping channels I caught the premise and, like a train wreck- watched in amazement and shock that it was even on. On swimupstream there are a lot better things to discuss then what is on television, except when we realize a) what is on TV, b) that the average North American youth watches 5 hours of it a day, and c) what time the real garbage is on.

The show featured a 26 year old daughter, sister, and wife who- in the pursuit of money, was hooked up to a lie detector and admitted the following on national TV for the first time in front of her family and husband;
- she was fired from a previous job for stealing
- she had secrets from her mother about her dad
- she was in love with an ex-boyfriend on her wedding day
- she feels she is married to the wrong man
- she has cheated on her husband

Now I am not saying that this is the only trash TV out there... the point is we are living in a society where people drag their most intimate secrets out onto the world stage and kill their relationships for money and so we can cheer. By not bringing this into debate, we would be condoning that sort of garbage behaviour. While many of you may ask, "what kind of person would go on that show?" - which is a great question... we also need to address what kind of a person would watch that show every week- because if we are not careful- the answer will be our children who may think a guy getting his heart ripped out of his chest on national TV is funny, yet those same boys hope that one day their wives will be faithful.

While not lobbying for censorship, today's entry serves to ask us whether or not certain envelopes NEED pushing? Do we need to lower the standard of public entertainment any further? You decide through your actions.

Hopefully we are on the verge of becoming a society where a show like this flops due to lack of interest (and even a little disgust).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Imagine If

we were excited to wake up 95% of the year
we always left all of our baggage out of our lives
we always communicated our thoughts
we consistently formulated a yearly plan and accomplished it well
we constantly strived to be a 'better' something or someone each and every day
we took the time to listen to the advice of others who have walked before us
we followed that advice without fighting the feedback
we were not worried about being 'the star', but made others shine
we saw our efforts and legacy spread to the people around us
we saw others progress by matching their passion with their skills
we were supported by close family & friends when we cross any personal threshold
we treated each human being, as we would want to be treated
we could share our feelings & struggles and no one would judge us
we realize we were responsible for making people's lives better
we realize just how much of our destinies we have the power to control

Where would the world be?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Relentless

It seems that everything I learn these days comes from watching my children. I wonder if there is a lesson in that alone?

Have you ever sat around children when they want a treat? You know, waltzed by the ice cream shop with your niece or finished a meal with your own children and then watched their eyes as their expectation of desert increases. Their little heads go crazy and the filter between thought and action explodes. On come the pleas, the begging and the obsession for "the treat".

They are just relentless.

"No, I'm sorry. We can't have sweets every night." They keep coming...
"I said no." And coming...
"Maybe tomorrow." And coming...
"I am not telling you again. No desert." And still they keep coming...
"This is the last time I tell you." And they come back one more time with the pretty please eyes...

The thing is, nine out of ten guardians break down around here [not you of course, but the weaker ones like me].

Something like this,
"Well if we have desert tonight there won't be any tomorrow." The nods of the head and the grubby hands go out. Victory! [Plus lots of time to work on tomorrow, tomorrow.]

They seem to know that if they keep trying, even if they fail this once, the chances of success are at least decent. These kids also seem to know that they can be relentless in areas where there is a sliver of hope. They will never plea to jump out of a car at speed even if they are dare devils. Their hopes are still attached to reality. A reality that gives them a chance no matter how many times they don't get what they want.

Is your idea worth being relentless for? Do you have something you will accept a thousands negative responses for until you receive the "yes" you so desire?

Is your idea based on something people will really want or need even if they don't know it now?

If you know it is, then get out there and start being relentless. It may be the only thing left before your ultimate success. Take it from the kids, just don't stop.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't confuse confidence and arrogance.

the irony is when we keep things inside of us we are labeled introverts / shy and quiet, yet when we begin the process of articulating our thoughts, beliefs and actions we fall under a new label of know it all, cocky and arrogant.

that's pack thinking and if there's one point all of us at SUS are 100% united on and passionate about it's the one that says don't sign up for pack thought. do not fear speaking your truth. if your truth happens to help others affirm their truths - fantastic. if not, do not fear the scrutiny that comes with that denial.

the argument is age old. 'what happens in the family, stays in the family' and after years of suppression - and billions in anti depressant drugs, therapy and treatments - we see where that's led us. now we are in the age of tell it all; facebook, blogs and personal platforms that enables everyone's voice to be heard. it will take awhile to see what will happen with that, yet the stats don't lie and the number of coming out - rebirth and empowering moments seem to indicate - we may be onto something.

during that process - we will develop critics. those who will form an opinion, based on your opinion. and that's exactly what it's all about. no one professes to have 'the' one size fit's all answer, more importantly is that we are providing 'an' answer.

and because we have developed the support and confidence, does not mean we are arrogant enough to think we are always right. nor should you. yet that reality should not keep you from saying anything at all.

be confident.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Boredom

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity”. –Ellen Parr

One lesson we all should have learned from our youth is that there is nothing positive that comes out of boredom. Almost every negative episode while growing up can in some way be directly linked to our inability to self stimulate, which leads to our curiosity, which leads to actions in search for the rush we are lacking.

As young children, when we still haven’t established right from wrong, our curiosity leads to an action with consequences we might not expect, and trouble ensues. As teens our boredom facilitates experimentation at a time we think we are invincible, and our use of drugs and alcohol, or taking inherently risky chances is initiated. During these years we are learning about ways to cure our boredoms, to fill our curiosities, and to figure out what behaviors produce positive and negative results in our lives.

As adults we hopefully have learned positive ways to self stimulate and can maintain high levels of interest, therefore enhancing our morale, performance, and quality of work. Unfortunately this is not always the case and we fall victim to the traps of boredom.

The effect of boredom in our lives is our inability to stimulate our physical, emotional, and social selves. We sit in dead end jobs, let our health slip away, and stay in relationships that have no redeeming value, simply for the reason that we have lost the ability to act on our curiosities. We have gone from the action based mentality we had in our youth, be it positive or negative, to a self created victim mentality in adulthood, which has no positive value to our self.

Our childhood is our arena of learning and practice for our adult lives. We learn that with boredom comes negative effects, yet confuse boredom and comfort in our adult lives until we have sacrificed our happiness and willingness to be curious.

In adulthood curiosity does not have to lead to the negative results it led to in our childhood for one simple reason; we should be able to differentiate good curiosity from bad curiosity. In fact, our curiosity as adults will facilitate the taking of controlled chances, where the rewards are just a probable as the failures.

If the cure for boredom is curiosity, then we must trust ourselves as adults to be curious, to take risks, and to expect more from ourselves. If we are unable to act on our curiosity constructively, then we must be able to accept the fate of boredom in which we have created. Unlike our childhood, as adults we have to accept this without excuses.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Take A Risk

There are those who beleive that you cannot regret anything you do in this life so long as their was no malicious intent going into the action, and so long as a lesson is gained through doing so. Personally I find this line of thinking hard to argue with.

There are many things I would not do again at this point in my life, but to truly regret having done them? I don't know that I can say that. The inspiration for this line of thinking comes from a very refreshing source... a 21 year old girl who has just joined our workforce in Calgary via Owen Sound, Ontario.

This is a girl who was unhappy settling for domestic bliss due to a lack of options at 21 years of age... so she told her boyfriend she wanted to move west, he dumped her, she saved up $1000 and took a job in a foreign city 25 times the size of her hometown! She is rooming with a teammate temporarily until permanent housing can be arranged; she doesn't have a vehicle, and she has no idea what to expect, or what tomorrow will bring...

and she is loving it! What many young (and not so young) people need to realize - you can always start over. If it doesn't work in Calgary she can try Edmonton, Vancouver, the United States, or she can move back home with her family and start over.

Some people consider the prospect of moving back to their hometown after a venture doesn't go as planned as failure, or returning with your tail between your legs. What these people may be missing is that what may be missing financially in such a situation has likely more than been replaced by perspective and life lessons that are going to lead to greater success in business venture number 2,3,5 or 37.

We have probably all heard that success is getting up one more time than you fall down... what we sometimes forget is to live this advice and take risks that may lead us to fall down and have to get back up again. In the scheme of things we can live a life free of risk by avoiding chance (and avoiding rewards and new experiences and avoiding - FUN) or we can get scarred up, raise a few eyebrows, and look back one day and proclaim...

"I Lived Life! Damn that was fun!" choice is yours... take a risk or take a nap.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Share the Penny.


What would happen if you saved a penny and it doubled every single day for 30 days?

Let's do the calculations:

Day 1: $.01
Day 2: $.02
Day 3: $.04
Day 4: $.08
Day 5: $.16
Day 6: $.32
Day 7: $.64
Day 8: $1.28
Day 9: $2.56
Day 10: $5.12
Day 11: $10.24
Day 12: $20.48
Day 13: $40.96
Day 14: $81.92
Day 15: $163.84
Day 16: $327.68
Day 17: $655.36
Day 18: $1,310.72
Day 19: $2,621.44
Day 20: $5,242.88
Day 21: $10,485.76
Day 22: $20,971.52
Day 23: $41,943.04
Day 24: $83,386.08
Day 25: $167,772.16
Day 26: $335,544.32
Day 27: $671,088.64
Day 28: $1,342,177.28
Day 29: $2,684,354.56
Day 30: $5,368,709.12

In other words, if anyone was to start with a penny and double it each day, in 30 days anyone could have over 5 million dollars!

So where am I going with this?

Well, we see examples of this everyday, one being those pyramid money making scams. Where people recruit x number of friends to donate x number of dollars in hopes that it will eventually exponentially grow so that they can eventually get an x huge payout. And guess what, it works if everyone follows the concept and no one f*&^s it up. Although there are those that have reaped the reward from this concept, there are millions that received the short end of the stick! All because somewhere down the line someone was either GREEDY and self absorbed OR had their head so far up their ass they forgot to find the people to keep the dollars flowing.

And this involves $$$

Can you imagine if we did something nice to 2 people and every person that received this nice gesture had to pay it forward...in 30 days 5 million people would have something nice done for them. What a concept. Wait a minute, a movie was made on this concept called PAY IT FORWARD and it still isn't done.

Let's wake up and smell the coffee people. Whether we want our businesses to be better, our friends and family members to succeed further, or our kids to become more than what we are...let's pay it forward to all those that come behind us / beside us / infront of us. We have the ability to pass on valuable information & become intellectual wealthy...all we have to do is

SHARE the penny.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If a Tree Falls in the Forest

"Integrity is doing something that is right when nobody is looking."

Have you ever watched children playing in a group. Slowly they become oblivious to you being around and just interact with one another. You can watch as they talk to on another, discuss plans for the day, the colour of a dolls hair and if spider-man was their Dad how strong he would be. You know, the usual stuff. You watch and watch and then the spider-man discussion heats up.

Crack!

Someone takes a truck to the head or has an eyeball scratched. Are you aware of what happens next? The eyes look up to find out if anyone saw their indiscretion. They look in fear to see if there will be consequences.

These are children. They don't know any better and the only outlet they have is to just follow their emotions. They haven't totally learned how to act and handle themselves.

It is amazing how many adults act the same. When they aren't being watched they do just what they want.

Are you playing to the crowd and pretending you are a great citizen, husband, wife, father, mother...? How do you act when you are all alone?

Read the first line again and then answer the above.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stop the clock and start your life!


When we are born, there is a hypothetical clock that begins to count down towards the inevitable end of the game called life. We have no idea when the timer will reach half time, no two clocks will expire at the same time and there are no guarantees that can predict the final buzzer.

For the first 5 years of our life we are presented with coping strategies that imprint onto our hard drive and dictate behavior patterns for the rest of our lives. If we are fortunate, those examples will contain the necessary tools for us to experience intrinsic satisfaction relating to success. If we are not fortunate, we will receive corrupt data, and spend a lifetime attempting to quarantine, delete, or at best decipher the information.

Much has been made about the nature vs. nurture debate in terms of which has a greater influence on our growth, happiness and general well being; who is responsible for why we do x & y? Very little is educated about what and how we can set our own game clocks.

We spend our lives punching in and punching out waiting for someone else to tell us what to do and why we need to do it a certain way. More tragically, we wait for others to bring us joy and happiness. And we wait… and we wait…We believe our boss will motivate us to achieve great heights in the workplace. We believe our spouse will bring happiness our marriage. We believe accumulating things will bring rewards to our day to day. Chances are, they won’t. Statistics tell us, they don’t. Certainly, those things can contribute to… but they cannot replace our own sense of wellbeing. Only one person can accomplish the aforementioned with any lasting effect. Us. In spite of our genetic imprint or behavioral predisposition, we have the ability to dictate game strategy.

Waiting for someone/thing else to provide us with the happiness we seek, absolves us of the responsibility of doing it for ourselves and deprives us of the experience of understanding how great the risk – reward trade off is. When it comes time to pass that important information on to our children, we have no basis of reference and statistics show, they will continue our game on their time as we continued someone else’s game on ours. If your life is great and you are leading it, you have no worries. If you are stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it. Worry.

We don’t need to fear setting our own game clocks. We don’t need to fear not being a member of the family-religious-social-professional team. That’s peer pressure, pack mentality and like we educate our teenagers, we have a choice. Otherwise, by the time we realize all the things we should’ve, could’ve and would’ve done. WHAM. The buzzer sounds. We are out of time. The game is over.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Persistence

I overheard a conversation between two people where they were talking about the difficulties one of their coworkers was having in becoming more successful. They were sharing their thoughts on what needed to be done in order for success to happen, “change XYZ” and “try ABC”. Before they left the spot where I was sitting they said “ultimately he will get it, he is a persistent young man”.

From a young age we are told of stories of persistence and success, about the sales person who would just not take “no” for an answer, about the athlete who was cut from their High School team only to become a great professional. We are fed the wonders of persistence and its instrumental role in our success to the point where we believe that if we just “continue despite problems”, ultimately we will become successful.

In reality, persistence has no relation whatsoever in our success, in fact persistence has the ability to derail our chances at success more than it has the ability to facilitate our success.

By definition, persistence is “existing or continuing for an unpleasantly long time”. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it?

If our goal is to be successful then we have to look at how we go about achieving our success. If we are to achieve success through persistence then we are paving a road where we will outlast our competitors despite how unpleasant the road is. Our other option is to achieve success through action and beat our competitors to the end result.

In real terms this is the difference of a sales person using the same sales pitch to 1,000 people so that they can sell 100 items and the sales person changing their pitch to meet the needs of the consumer and selling 100 items in half the time. Persistence allowed one sales person to continue despite hearing the word “no” 900 times, while changes in action allowed the other sales person to produce with better time management and less stress.

Our ability to persist without adapting will grant us rewards, but at the cost of time and effort. Settling for problems and difficulties with the idea that our persistence will make them go away, is taking a passive approach towards our success and we will ultimately watch as others pass us by.

If we are wanting to create our own success, to facilitate our happiness, then we need to understand that our success depends on our ability to act and adapt. Our success depends on us knowing what we want and being willing to make the necessary adjustments to achieve. If we fail to do so, if we just aim to ride out the storm and persist, then we must also be willing to victimize ourselves and settle for less than we are capable of achieving.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What is Valentine's Day?

For anyone single out there... sorry for the media pressure today. While the 5 of us on swim upstream are BIG advocates of showing love for your significant other in real time and in meaningful ways... there is something fundamentally wrong with a commercial event that makes the unattached person feel flawed.

On the day when the world sells the most flowers...
On a day when chocolate consumption goes through the roof...
On a day basically invented for/ by Hallmark...

we are being HAD if you either feel you need to pull out all the stops for your lover, or feel like a loser for not having one.

Perhaps many of you were waiting for the "why love is so important" or "how to find true love" post today... and while love IS important, that post is not today. Today it is important that you know just this...

- It's okay if you haven't found true love. Find purpose in your own life and make yourself happy. If you aren't happy, you can't possibly make someone else happy: and happiness attracts others to the party. If you're single- cool- focus on you and rock your life the way you think best.
- It's better to swim upstream and find a mate in that pristine lake than it is to settle for a "you'll do right now" hook up floating downstream on your way to the waterfall.
- Alone and lonely do not have to be synonymous. Alone = 1 person. Lonely = incomplete person. Don't let the media blend the two for you.
- The more you define your own path and learn what it takes to make you happy, the more you narrow your drawing crowd... the better the chances of finding someone you may find (or create) mutual happiness with.
- If you are not single and you have found true love... downplay the pressure of a manufactured holiday and exceed the expectations every other day of the year. Not one successful marriage I know of was based on sweeping a girl off her feet on Valentines day... most successful marriages I know of are based on daily expressions of love and livable compromises that minimize any one person's suffering while promoting mutual and individual happiness for both parties at every opportunity. NEVER miss an opportunity to let your significant other know how you feel, or assume that saying so on 'the big day' is enough.

... or you could buy the card that tells you how you're supposed to feel and pass that off as 'romance'.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maximizing Our Potential.

  • we all will face the unexpected & experience challenges in our lives
  • when this happens, someone out there will rise to the occasion to help us out & support us through these times
  • for a second we then will be 'fortunate' for what we have and thankful for who we have in our lives 
  • sometimes this provides us with an everlasting perspective that we are in a better position than most
  • & sometimes this type of reflection only lasts short moments and within no time we go about life like our 'old selves'
  • not to mention, make us realize that we don't have to wait to face the challenge before we maximize our own potential. 
  • and initiate us to start taking advantage of the endless amounts of opportunity that life can bring before life passes us by. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Next Chapter

This morning was the dawn of a fateful day. What had been suspected in many circles and expected in others finally came true.

The largest auto manufacturer in the world, General Motors, announced losses for the year 2007 of over 37 billion dollars. That's a lot of zeros [$37,000,000,000.00!!!].

If the United States wasn't officially in a recession already then this may just push them over the edge. There are just so many commentaries on this it is incredible.

Housing issues, even less jobs based on the 74,000 lost today at GM and a country [continent] void of production capacity at a competitive advantage. these are obviously troubling times but also quite predictable.

What I wonder is what will the young people do? They have grown up in a time of success, excess and at a time where our culture has heaped unruly amounts of praise and feedback upon them. The echo-boomers are a generation that is not familiar with the tough get tougher and the rest get left behind. Principally they are unaware that Darwin observed something called the survival of the fittest. They have always thrived in a group mentality. Even their companies are valued off of grouping rather than profit. Can anyone say Facebook?

What is left of the U.S. economy today will need to hunker down and drag the rest of the population back and to do this they will need to cut the fat, learn to be competitive like China and India, and they will need teams of people that understand there is neither time nor space for hand holding. People will be judged on what they bring to the table, how they maximize their potential, and how much they can help the business earn money.

Shocking. But true.

The paradigm shift towards a transactional shopper and a more accountable work place is nearly complete and slowly it will start to swing back through another thirty year cycle. But for right now, their will be some panic, some savvy investment and a lot of uncertainty. Especially amongst a group of younger people that has never weathered a period of trouble.

So how should these young people, maybe your children, staff at your work place or just friends learn to deal with the paradigm shift.

They will need to be lead. Not coddled and certainly not left to their own devices. Lead.
this will take time and it will take a consistent level of education. Our leaders must bring the realities to their levels and hopefully not sugar coat the problems. Our new political leaders can not promise sea changes that they can't deliver on because truthfully there isn't any more money for their programs. it will take an understanding and team work like shown by the Japanese after Hiroshima.

A bomb galvanized that country. The U.S. has not seen death like that, thankfully, but one only hopes that their young people see this episode in history as if were a bomb. One hopes that they see themselves as the long term solution.

The U.S. will be back and they will survive; of this I am sure. They have too much pride, too many smart people, and too much belief for that to happen. It is how fast they can lean on a generation needed to help stem the tide that will decide whether the time frame is long or short.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All it takes is 8.



A common complaint throughout North Americas is that there are not enough hours in the day to effectively complete our general daily tasks. Two things immediately come to mind each time we hear this statement.

1. than put more hours on your workday or
2. put more concerted focus on those hours.

Now we know the majority of people would look at us sideways if we proposed working longer hours – especially with North America’s renowned sweat shop reputation, so how about we meet you 9/10’s of the way and suggest doing what you are supposed to do during the hours you are supposed to work.

We know it’s a novel concept – sign a contract that says x and then be held accountable to doing x – but it seems to be working on almost every other economic powerhouse..... except ours.

We are too easily distracted and we have a skewed perception of what ‘hard work’ really is. Ever watch people on any given 9-5 work day under perform? It goes a little something like this.

9:20 am – roll into work “traffic was bad” or “you should have seen the line up at the coffee shop”
9:20-9:50 – check & reply to messages from 20 000 close friends on myspace, facebook, yahoo messenger, etc.
9:50 – 10:15 – take a peek at the work requirements for the day and start to prioritize them. get into a flow when…
10:15 – coffee break. Time to check in on Jack or Jill’s latest gossip.
10:35 – reply to a couple of returned messages from myspace, facebook, yahoo messenger, etc.
10:45 – back to making a few work related calls or completing work related requirements
11:45 – time to organize lunch: small office poll – “where are we heading & what are we eating?”
1:00 – return from lunch reply to a couple of returned messages from myspace, facebook, yahoo messenger, etc.
1:15 - feeling the crunch here work is piling up. Time to get started on making a few calls or getting some tasks done.
2:15 – coffee break – little chat by the cooler about how fricking busy we are today and the ‘just can’t seem to get enough time to get everything done”
2:30 – take a quick personal call ‘can’t talk right now honey – I’ve got to get something done here today”. scramble to make something happen.
2:50 – instant messenger – It’s Patrick or Patti – type in – “can’t talk right now – busy – is it important?”
3:00 – Someone’s coming to check in on what’s being done. Quickly half ass something together (which will only have to be redone at a later time – taking up more time) and present it to them. Feedback isn’t great – back to drawing board.
3:35 – quick call from significant other “what are we doing tonight & what’s for dinner”
3:40 – office gossip – did you hear about…..
3:55 – crap – you’ve only got an hour left before you have to get out of here and beat the traffic.
4:45 – gotta run and beat the line up out of the underground. get to this stuff tomorrow.
5:30 walk through the door completely exhausted from the days work yet supported from the significant other ‘honey, you have to take it easy – they don’t pay you enough to be this stressed!”

Think this is a stretch – come in on one of your days off and watch someone waste time in real time. You'll quickly come to appreciate the saying if you want something to get done – give it to someone who’s busy. legitimately busy.

Reminder:
1. we don’t have (or need) 20 000 friends
2. we don’t get paid for checking on 20 000 friends
3. while we are checking on our friends, messages and personal effects – there’s entire populations pumping out the same products we are supposed to be at a 5-1 ratio (proven).
4. so, very shortly, making your way into your sweatshop for 9:20 will no longer be a concern.

…..But you’ll still have 20 000 friends.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Maximizing Your Living Potential

In April of 2005, Steve Vaught decided that he was going to walk from his home in San Diego to New York City. His reason for taking on this walk was because he had become obese and he needed to do something to “regain his life”. Steve made the walk successfully, received accolades for all he accomplished, changed his life, and now has a movie documenting his journey.

Before his journey Steve was your average person, working a steady job, had a family, and was living his life. His rock bottom moment, which led to his walk, was that he had become dissatisfied with the physical, social, and emotional life that he was living.

There are millions of Steve Vaught’s throughout this world, in fact we all probably can relate to Steve in some sense, but do we really have to wait until we hit rock bottom so that we can begin to truly live?

So much of our time is spent getting through today, that we lose sight of what really is in our best interests. Our lives become so mundane that we forget that in order to maximize our living potential we must first seek to truly understand what we are living for.

Maximizing our living potential is about creating an environment where we are surrounded by people with whom we want to share life experiences with. There are things in life that we have to do, but if we are going to maximize our living potential we need to spend the least amount of time on these projects so that we get to a place where we can do what we want to do.

The greatest deterrent we have in maximizing our living potential is that we remain so focused on our have to do’s that we never free up the mental space necessary to ever understand what we want to do. Therefore we take the passive approach, surround ourselves with people who will allow us to get through today, and forget how to separate our haves from our wants.

Un-acted upon ambitions only last for so long before we lose the ability to remain ambitious. Nobody sets out to be ordinary, but there is a lot we do every day in our lives that allows us to become ordinary. Settling for less that you want is giving into the environment your inactivity has created and in no way will lead to maximizing what you believe your life should be.

Don’t get me wrong, stories like Steve’s are inspirational, but we don’t have to hit rock bottom in order to make it to the top. If we start maximizing our living potential today then the climb to the top is much less difficult than if we wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Every Excuse In The Book

We've all heard that life is tough, it isn't fair, and that being a parent, leader, coach, or effective person is a lot of work. This may be true- hell, it is true... but what is also true is that many people use these facts as a cop-out for getting what they want out of life, and setting a better example.

Just some of the excuses heard through the peanut gallery every day that are more transparent than people think...

"That's not my department" When employees use this one, not only do they lose buy-in on behalf of the customer to how the company as a whole is run, they actually lose customers. Better to hear bad news and an apology than B.S. and an excuse

"That may work for you, but not me". While it may be true that one person's reality may differ greatly from anothers, tools to become succesful seldom differ. If you read enough business books, they start to develop common themes (although of course some are better than others). The same is true of leadership, and being effective at just about anything.

"I'm too busy". That's an interesting one, because often the people who complain the most about being busy have the least on their plate- they are just unorganized. Those who acheive the most, have a TON on their to-do list, but they have mastered or are mastering the art of time management and planning.

"The previous generation didn't know what they were doing" This one is perhaps the most dumbfounding... while some younger people out there have a world of respect for their parents and granparents, as a whole we seem to think that today's society has got it together way more than our parents did... despite the fact that divorce rates, pollution, crime, poverty, and basically misery - have all increased.

While there are many more excuses in the book; here are just 4 dangerous ones to avoid if you hope to get what you want out of life- instead of just what you get.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Insanity

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

We all make mistakes from time to time – it is inevitable if we choose to live our life. Realistically, every person born into this world, are sooner or later going to make their first mistake.

Since a mistake can be characterized as something that we have done that we regret doing, you would think that after making a mistake we would learn from it and get better.

Wrong.

Time after time we make the same mistakes over and over again to only fall flat on our faces once again.

Why?

It is obvious; we apparently are not getting to the root of the problem and addressing the issue. It is very similar to the overweight person that seeks every book, magazine, personal trainer, inspirational movie, fad diet, magical weight loss machine etc. on the face of the earth to only realize unless they address the root of the problem (that is causing the issue) they will continue to have the habits they have (ie. poor eating habits) & will never get to where they want to be (skinny & happiness).

So, if you are making the same mistake over and over again, realize this: It doesn’t happen again and again by coincidence and don’t think you have addressed the issue if you keep making the mistake – because evidently you haven’t.

Find for the answer and address it. Don’t fight it or try and find something to mask it. And if you find yourself always looking for an answer – chances are you probably already have it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Less Is More

I am a Dad. It is an interesting job and one that certainly requires reflection continuously.

I watch my son grow up, try new things, fail, succeed and live for the moment. I watch how he interacts, learns to push buttons and aims for the peak always. The peak which, for the most part, is a chocolate cookie or being allowed to stay up a little later.

I also watch how he acts confused, uninterested, and plain bratty when he gets too much of what he thinks he wants.

I think he is a reflection of how we all are. Angling, working and playing to get our new toys, our dream life, and what we think we want all without any real rational.

Toys, things and stuff. We have spawned a powerful business genre of self storage to keep our stuff safe and sound. Yet it is people like the Dali-Lama that live a life free of clutter and thus live in a peaceful state. The clean and organized are the epitome of living a less is more lifestyle. Are we really making our lives better by 'needing' so many material goods?

How can you clean out your life so you leave room in your mind for development?
  1. Purge your cupboards and get rid of at least 50% of what you have
  2. If in doubt don't buy. Keep the money and the space.
  3. Practice enjoying just being. Go for a walk, a run without music, and just live with yourself for a moment.
  4. Give small gifts of thought and respect anything someone gives you, especially at holiday time.
  5. Don't fall in love with material goods. You come in naked, so shall you leave this world.
  6. Clear up every area of your life that isn't organized. Purge.
  7. Teach others to appreciate less so they can be appreciating period. Desert every night is boring...but once in while is fantastic and thrilling.
Learn to live with less and you will live with more. More vibrancy, more appreciation, more time and more spirit.

Monday, February 04, 2008

don't fear standing tall.

friend of ours puts themselves out there by sharing intimate details of his challenges and adversities through his childhood and in the local media stream and hears two distinct responses.

a) thanks & praise. the story hit the mark in terms of being uplifting, educational and motivational. it’s seen as a heroic example and will be used for peoples personal & professional development and a tool for their kids as an example of making choices.

b) scrutiny and criticism. the story is taken out of the overall context and made into a story about said particular reader. they are upset that the media has omitted a few key details about the particulars of this story and cast a more dramatic spin than was realistically warranted.

this, swimupstream audience is the reality of social ‘differentiation’

when you intentionally or unintentionally stand above the rest (figuratively speaking of course) you make yourself a larger target because you don’t blend in, go with the flow, or accept a fate or will imposed on you by anyone other than yourself.

you become the pain in the ass, the ‘almighty’ and / or unreasonable one. truthfully, were it not for the very confidence required to separate you from the status quo in the first place – you’d probably get dragged right back into the wash.

the point of today’s post is to understand the ramifications that come with being your own thinker, an independent doer or one who doesn’t subscribe to the majorities ideals. you will be looked upon as the abnormal entity – but don’t waste your time fighting or fearing it. we can almost guarantee you will seldom change the perception of those who have created a perception of you without taking the time to get to know you first.

there are few people fighting to make their way up the river to the lake – the reason is simple : it’s hard. there will be times where you look at those on the rubber tubes, sipping beers, splashing along who point at you as they laugh, mock, comment & criticize your m.o. but at the end of the day / moth / year & life while your sitting pretty on your peaceful 1 acre waterfront spread – take a guess where they will be at the bottom of?




be confident
think on your own
don’t fear standing apart from the crowd.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Resiliency

Resiliency is our ability to recover quickly from setbacks and is a skill we will all have to acquire if we aim to succeed. To learn about resilience we need to look no further than our own body and the environment we live in. Both our bodies and environment bend, stretch, and are deformed daily, but continue to show resiliency and eventually get back to their original form.

Environmental resiliency is most obvious after a large forest fire. Acre upon acre is burnt and charred deforming what we once saw as a beautiful hillside or mountain and robbing its ecosystem of valuable resources. This hillside or mountain does not remain stagnant for long because within days new growth replaces the old and over time its ecosystems return. New plants and trees replace what was charred and the area is ready to thrive once again.

Our physical bodies are no different. A broken bone is the perfect example of resiliency because once the bone breaks it immediately protects itself and then allows new bone to grow. Over time the new bone replaces the old bone and the structure is once again strong. Muscles work the same way. We break down our muscles on a daily basis so that over time new muscle will grow and make us stronger.

What we learn about resiliency is that trauma happens, and with time we come back to full strength, or sometimes stronger than we were before. We understand that healing happens immediately, but takes time to get back to full strength, much like a forest after a fire or a bone after a break.

Despite understanding that time needs to take its course in order to fully recover from an environmental or physical trauma, we fail to apply this knowledge when it comes to emotional resiliency. Externally, we tell people to “get back on the horse” or to “get over it” when someone faces and emotional trauma. Internally, we try and rush through an emotional trauma so that we can convince ourselves and others that we are back to normal when our reality dictates otherwise.

In rushing the process we never allow ourselves or those around us to fully heal. By not fully healing we prevent ourselves from coming back to full strength and deny ourselves the opportunity to gain strength from the trauma. We lose site of the fact that, yes, our healing must begin immediately, but ultimately time will allow us to get back to fully recover.

For us to lead ourselves and those that we are in a position to lead, we must understand that emotional resiliency follows the same laws as environmental and physical resiliency. To simply minimalize someone’s emotional trauma, or to rush through your own, is not only weakening your ability to lead, it is taking away the opportunity to become empowered.