Friday, November 28, 2008


In most cases action can be broken down to a three part process consisting of preparation, performance, and self reflection. This cycle continues itself multiple times a day as we frequently attempt to perform many different actions in many different professional and personal life spheres.

The act of preparation leading to performance is essential because what we choose to prepare for will dictate how well we are ready to succeed. Preparation alone never guarantees us success, but preparation does allow us to put thought into what our plan of action might look like and give us an opportunity to individualize this plan. The greatest plans are those that are created with the desired outcome in mind. This is not the external outcome regarding winning and losing, rather it is the outcome regarding how we will respond internally to a situation.

Primarily we go into performance focused on how we will react when adversity comes our way and don’t allow ourselves to focus on how we will respond to being successful. We all mostly experience failure more than we experience success, partially because we put ourselves in challenging situations, but also because we train ourselves how to respond to failure and never really learn how to respond to success. In doing this we learn how to respond to situations, not how to initiate action within a given situation. Our preparation should focus on acting and not reacting, we should expect success by planning on being successful not by enduring enough to get to success.

Performance leading to self reflection is defined by the space between action ending and self reflection beginning. I came across some material that called this space the “gap”, which makes sense because it is the gap that separates future successes from future failures. At the moment performance ends there is a split second where you feel your primary response without excuses. Our thoughts in the “gap” will have an influence on our ability to self reflect and in what we choose to self reflect on. If our immediate response in the “gap” is a negative one then we will choose to self reflect on the negative aspect of our performance, while if our “gap” response is positive, we can expect a positive entry into self reflection.

Our “gap” response is not uncontrollable and is not unconditionally primal. In fact our “gap” response has more to do with how we prepared than it has to do with how we preformed. If I prepared solely on a time based goal then I can expect only two “gap” responses; elation or disappointment which will eventually skew my ability to self reflect honestly. If my preparation includes defining how I will take control over my success, than my “gap” response will have multiple options because success comes in multiple levels.

Eventually, we then look at the transition of self reflection to preparation as a time for renewal. Cycles end with self reflection for a reason, and that reason is so that we can honestly evaluate not only where we have been, but how we plan to get somewhere else next time around. The better we are at self reflecting, the better plan we can make for our next performance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Your Power is Unimaginable

Hopefully today will provide enough food for thought to prevent you from doing what doesn't make you happy. On the heels of a great self- checklist yesterday by Justine as to whether or not we are charting our own course... today we are examing what can come of that course?

Before we uncover the awesome power of one- let's examine the potentially nil power of millions. How can 1 person have infinately greater impact than millions? Easy. Think of the last time you drove to work in a hurry while in a bad mood. Think about that situation clearly. Did you speak to anyone? If so it was probably to complain. Did you look anyone in the eye and smile or stare blindly at the mess of cars ahead? Did you remember gaining anything from that drive or do you just remember the anger it instilled? This is the rat race; or what we are capable of when we are focused on the wrong things (or not focused on anything at all).

If we don't focus on anything it is very difficult to acheive anything. If we focus on the wrong things (like our anger or things we cannot control) we end up acheiving things we don't intend. We might say we want to help others, but walking into work pissed off and complaining about the markets - impacts others to do the same. We lose all power towards the end we want to acheive and have an unwanted power towards exactly the opposite end.

If - however, we were to maintain as much as possible a positive attitude
If - we were to be passionate about our chosen direction and work hard towards it
If - we were to mentor others to this cause and pay our mentors forward by mentoring others

Then there is no way of calculating the good, the momentum, the positive change - that we are directly responsible for leading. Think about a coach who inspires a team of twenty to be better students, athletes, and people - 2 or 3 of which are inspired enought to volunteer or coach themselves... the positive spiral and trickle down effect of that giving may go on for decades or even hundreds of years.

YOU could be the initiator of positive things to come for hundreds of years. Or we could all just focus on 'me' and see where we all - individually end up. But never use the "I'm just 1 person excuse" - you can be a world changer.

5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

You have no idea where you will be this time next year – or 5 years from now. Sure, you may have ideas and visions, but some things are out of the boundaries of predictability. I’m sure many of us are finding that we are having to choose different paths or go in different directions with the recent world affairs taking place. So how to cope with this – how to learn to take that turn and still be happy with it.

‘Live everyday for what it is, don’t worry about what will happen, the next day will take care of itself, what will be will be, learn to accept and for the next day to happen’ - Unknown

This is a quote from a book I recently came across called The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die. The author, John Izzo, set out to answer that question by asking several thousand people to identify the one person they knew who had lived a long life and found true happiness. After receiving over 1,000 nominations, he interviewed 200 plus people over the age of 60 asking them to reflect back on their lives:

What brought happiness?
What gave meaning?
What did they regret?
What did they wish they had learned sooner?
What did not matter in the end?

These secrets are inspiring and provide a good blueprint or roadmap, for all of us. Especially during times of volatility of where we are going and what the next step is for us – these ‘secrets’ (which really are not secrets at all, but basic life principles), when lived each and every day can bring us an internal happiness. Happiness and contentment that can not be taken away by events occurring outside of our control. The following is a brief synopsis of each secret:

1.Be True to Yourself. You must follow your heart and your dreams, not the dreams someone else has for you. This may mean making a radical change in your life, or simply making small adjustments. The key to continually examine your life is to make sure you are following your own true path.

Questions to ask yourself: Did this week or day feel like my kind or week/day? What would make tomorrow or next week feel more true to myself?

2.Leave No Regrets. Although all of the people whom Izzo interviewed had some regrets, people who had the fewest were the happiest. A common theme for happiness was that people don’t regret risks that failed; instead they regretted not having risked more.

Questions to ask yourself: Did I act on my convictions this week? How am I responding to the setbacks in my life right now? Am I stepping forward or retreating?

3.Become Love. The more you focus on acting with love, the more you will find happiness. This begins with choosing to love yourself and breaking away from thoughts that are self-defeating and self-critical. You must make loving relationships a priority in your life.

Questions to ask yourself: Did I make room for friends, family and relationships today or this week? Did I spread love and kindness in the world at each interaction?

4.Live the Moment. Living the moment means living your life now rather than simply planning it. “We must always live in the present moment, the only moment in which we have any power.”

Questions to ask yourself: Did I fully enjoy whatever I was doing this day/week? What am I grateful for right now?

5.Give More Than You Take. Each day you have the power to give without limit. Giving connects people to something larger than themselves – whether it’s a supreme being of the entire human experience and journey.

Questions to ask yourself: Did I make the world a better place this week in a small? Was I kind, generous, giving this week? How can I be more that way tomorrow?

Perhaps the most important message to take away from this is that it’s never too late to start leading a meaningful life. Age doesn’t matter. World affairs don’t matter. All you need is the knowledge and the will to change. Not only know the above, but live to it – so when you have to take a suddenly different path or life throws an unexpected twist down in front of you, you are better able to deal with it and adapt.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Cup of Tea

There just is never any end to the things that one needs to know or learn. There is no shortage of new ideas I want to explore and goals I want to accomplish.

The whole concept is beginning to stress me out. What should I start on next?

In fact, there are so many things to do that sometimes I'm paralyzed by the sheer volume of the things I want to get done. Signing a mobile phone contract makes me feel like I should have paid more attention in university. At times it makes me feel like I should go back and take a law degree!

I make lists, scribble in and out of my day timer and PDA, triage my week and then look at what I really want from life. For me it can get staggering. One of my goals for this year is to learn to meditate. Simple really, until I try to fit the time in to actually do it. Where do I go so my kids won't jump on my head or a list of chores at home won't get in the way? Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems.

Do you ever feel like it is all too much? Maybe we should go to Tibet. I'm sure we could learn to mediate there. I doubt the kids could climb that high anyways. Perfect.

No. Not there yet and quite frankly I actually like my life. My family is great and I have fun almost every day. Today, and maybe for the next little while, I will have to compromise. A cup of tea and a park bench. I don't drink it for the caffeine. I drink for the peace. 15 minutes without anyone bothering me and some time to think about the world. Some how I always find time so therefore it must be available to me...and if I can find that time to think then maybe my "to do" list is possible after all.

All it takes is a cup of tea and everything seems better again.

Take a moment every day to think and calm yourself. Even if all you can do is grab a cuppa. I promise that life will get a little less serious, even if just for those few minutes of personal time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Are Your Motivators?

Have you ever thought about what makes you want to work hard? What gets you up each morning with a smile on your face and ready to take on the world? When we know WHY we do something, we can use that information to accomplish more. Knowing what motivates us will help us achieve our goals, both personal and professional.

Many of us believe that the only reason we work is money. Although there is no question that money, or what it buys (mortgage, food, etc) is a prime motivator, money alone does not create the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that many of us are seeking.

For example.

Have you ever looked at someone with all the money in the world and asked yourself, how on earth could they be so unhappy? What on earth do they have to be down about - they have everything! Well if you think about it, it is the difference between people who do what they do for money vs enjoyment. People who do it for money only have money to reference as their measure of accomplishment. People who do it because they love what they do have stories, memories and usually like sharing the riches of their passions with others.

I wanted to learn more about this phenomenon and researched some reasons for what makes someone motivated in life. Funny enough there are so many reasons other than money it would make clear sense why someone with what you thought “had everything in the world” would actually be unhappy.

LIMRA International, a research association, suggests you prioritize the following motivators for yourself. Once you've identified what works for you, share it with your boss. If you're the boss, ask your employees to prioritize their motivators. Whether you're the boss, the employee, or it's just you (a work-at-home mom or a solopreneur), this is important information for you to know.

RECOGNITION: The tangible rewards you get for doing a job well, such as being singled out in a publication or speech. How important is winning to you? How do you feel when others receive recognition? Do you go out of your way to win awards?

ACHIEVEMENT: The feeling that you get from successfully accomplishing a job...overcoming obstacles and obtaining goals.Is your performance relative to your effort? How do you feel when you have completed a task? What kind of goals do you set for yourself?

LEISURE TIME: The amount of time that you have free to use as you wish and the extent of enjoyment that you get from this time.Do you find yourself neglecting things? Have you postponed a desired activity? Do you really enjoy your leisure time?

POWER: The sense of control that you feel you have over your destiny and the destiny of others...your feelings of influence to direct the behavior of others.Do you feel that you have control over your destiny? Do people tend to lean on you, ask your approval? Do you find yourself doing things you'd rather not do?

PRESTIGE: The respect accorded you by your peers and by business or community others feel you compare with your peers.Is prestige important to you? Do others tend to hold you in esteem? Do you find yourself performing to gain esteem?

PRESSURE: The constant feeling or need to show continuing improvement in your job performance.Do you feel guilty about not exerting enough effort? Do you continually feel that you must do more? Do you want continual motivation from superiors?

SELF ESTEEM: Your feeling of you feel you measure up to your peers.Are you confident that you do as well as you can? Do you feel guilty about poor performance? Are you satisfied with your performance?

FAMILY LIFE: The amount and quality of family activities that you engage in.Do you spend enough time with your family? Is time meaningful when with them? Do they talk about the time that you spend with them?

SECURITY: The certainty that you feel of maintaining your position...the feeling that tomorrow will be at least as good as today.Is job security important to you? Are you afraid to try something new? Do you do things that tend to secure your job?

PERSONAL GROWTH: The feeling of growing as an individual or becoming more competent, more efficient—a better person.Do you think that you have grown over the past year? Do you do specific things that result in improvement? Do you have plans for doing more?

Now that you've prioritized this list, you have clear idea of what motivates you. It's not just money, is it?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Horses

Two horses were carrying two loads. The front Horse went well, but the rear Horse was lazy. The men began to pile the rear Horse’s load on the front Horse; when they had transferred it all, the rear Horse found it easy going, and he said to the front Horse: “Toil and sweat! The more you try, the more you have to suffer.” When they reached the tavern, the owner said; “Why should I fodder two horses when I carry all on one? I had better give the one all the food it wants, and cut the throat of the other; at least I shall have the hide.” And so he did.
~Fables, Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910

There are two very important dynamics at play in this fable; one of great work ethic and one of great leadership.

Work ethic is a learned trait, meaning it is something we gain from observation and trial rather than a given skill at birth. In this fable one horse is given an extra load of work and without complaint or resentment, takes on the work and does their job. Why? Because it was a load that they could handle despite being more difficult than the original load they were given. In putting in the extra work and completing the job, the horse was recognized and rewarded for their efforts, therefore being given the chance to prove itself again with greater responsibility.

Leadership is also a learned trait and the owner of the horses acted in a fashion by which all great leaders act. First, the owner noticed the exemplary efforts of the lead horse and gave it the recognition and reward that was deserving of its actions. Secondly, the owner recognized that he had the wrong horse for the job he needed and cut ties with that horse immediately (and literally).

As employees we will be given tasks that will test us emotionally and physically where our leaders will be watching to see how we perform. We will be given extra loads sometimes where we are given the opportunity to either accept the challenge or complain about being challenged. What Tolstoy really hits on in this fable is that with opportunity comes consequence and the choice we make within the opportunity we are given can either lead to promotion or termination. What we need to take away from opportunity is that our decisions will not always be easy ones, but when we make the decision to put all of our efforts into a task, the end result will always have some type of positive undertone.

As leaders we must be able to recognize our faults and take action on them immediately or we will suffer greater in the long run. By recognizing that he had the wrong horse for the wrong job, the owner cut his losses immediately and did not have to invest more time and money into an employee who had neither the attitude nor motivation to succeed in their job. By identifying his mistake in making a bad hire and empowering his employee who did have the right attributes, the owner now put himself in a win/win situation. The first win being that he had an employee who would lead by example and the second win being that through leadership he made it very clear what his expectations as a leader are.

Minus physiological actions of the body, everything we do in life consists of traits that have been learned. If we expect excellence from ourselves then we must learn from those who are excellent. If we want to be a great employee then we must ask questions to those we deem great employees. If we plan to be great leaders then we must study those who have proven their greatness in leadership over time. If we plan to succeed in life then we must gain the skills necessary from those who are successful. Positive observation and action lead to work ethic and leadership, which ultimately distinguishes us from those that are fed well and those that are taken for their hide.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Find The Opportunities

These days, it's tough to walk by a tv without seeing a stock price drop or some potential crisis on the horizon. Studies in a Calgary day care show stress levels in day-care aged children are on the rise, and health and wellness are becoming national concerns. It's at times like these, a lot of us throw our hands up and ask "where do I have to turn to find good news?"

Glad you asked. The fact is, there are a lot of scary things going on in the world, but from another perspective - the world as we know it has a whole lotta promise.

- the stock prices may be dropping, but oil is hovering at $50 a barrel. It's high not that long ago was $147 a barrel. People do not own fewer cars or live any closer to work, so a commodity everyone needs is on sale for 66% off right now with the potential (if things go back to where they were) to triple your money (keep in mind the price predictions fro oil were that they were/ are going to go even higher).
- we may be finding new things like BPA's that arm potentially harmful to the environment, but at least we are getting that information. Between 1931 and 1960 in Deline, NWT, 35 people who were working in a mine transporting uranium ore had no idea there were potential risks involved in their lucrative new opportunity. 15 of those 35 died of cancer. I think we have it pretty good today because at least we are being informed of the risks; even if it may be a bit of overkill.
- the great will always find a way. Yes, some businesses will be scaling back, perhaps even shutting their doors for good - however this time of global recession is forcing the doers to step up and is mulling over those that sit and wait. It is literally a new kind of evolution- an evolution of the workforce where the best have to get better and the good have to be great. This is an opportunity; because if you are reading swim upstream - you don't aspire to a job where you hate the work and get paid maximum wage for minimum input- you are willing to roll up the sleeves. The great news here is that you are going to have more colleagues like you, and fewer parasites who hold you back.
- perspectives are changing. If people are losing their shirts in the stock market, or their business is seeing smaller profits, their priorities are shifting- or they will be the captain going down with the Titanic. More family time and quality interactions and less time with Paris Hilton as she searches for a new BFF.

all told, there are a lot of reasons to smile - after all, the stock crisis is in large part exacerbated by the law of large numbers - the more people who panic and hold their equity liquid- the more the stock market crashes. The more people who invest in oil or other stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs, the more money everyone makes as we recover even back to par.

The big takeaway is that the point of today's entry is 1% financial and 99% on perspective. Look for the silver lining- the opportunity in every situation, as that mindset will always reap better results than panic (which is usually characterized by poor decisions or inaction/ missed opportunities anyways).

Oh, and go forward today looking for reasons to smile amidst some nay-sayers, and spread those reasons to others- that's what swimming upstream is all about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Best Friends

The following story is about two best friends.

There was a running coach who educated, motivated and inspired the athletes he trained to compete in running events from 10k’s to marathons. He himself would train, sometimes with the athletes, and together they would travel to locations around the world to participate in different running events. The coach would call everyone he trained an athlete even though none of them, including him, were professionals at elite levels. Most of the athletes were middle-aged people who wanted more out of life by accepting challenges like marathons, that in the end were small personal accomplishments.

There were two women he coached that were inseparable. They were best friends who did everything together including traveling, training and going on summer vacations together. Not only did they share these common pastimes but the coach also noticed that they trained the same way. When one would stride with the right foot, so would the other and if one friend had to take a drink of water, the other would wait. There was such a similarity between the two, almost like twins, that if one friend was away from training it did not feel right for the other friend or the coach.
Last year the coach and the two best friends trained for and ran a marathon. The coach finished first and waited for the best friends to finish. With his camera in hand, he awaited them to cross the finish line. Sure enough just past four hours of running, the two, wearing matching clothes, crossed the finish line together as expected. In less than a year they were training for another marathon. This marathon was more important than the first because both were trying to finish in less than four hours so that they could qualify for one of the most highly regarded marathons in the world - The Boston Marathon.

Leading up to the qualifying race the best friends trained as usual - together. On the day of the qualifying race, the two best friends were ready to run together and achieve their goal time to be accepted to Boston. The coach did not run the marathon that day and waited near the finish line with camera’s awaiting them to cross together with their goal time. The coach kept a watchful eye out for his two athletes and was ready to encourage them across the finish line. It was 3:55 when the coach saw two figures in the distance that looked to be the best friends. As the runners came nearer, the coach saw that only one best friend was running and the other was nowhere to be seen. What was once exciting anticipation had now turned into disbelief! The coach was shocked and could not help but wonder what had happened to the missing friend. Why was she left behind? Did she injure herself and have to be pulled out? Did she give up entirely?

Moments later the friend came to where the coach was standing and through tears said that it was not right to finish alone and that she was going back for her best friend. The coach with his knapsack and video camera ran after the friend but fell behind as she swiftly ran through the crowd and back onto the marathon course. She had just finished a marathon and despite being exhausted, was determined to go back and find her dear friend. The coach, bewildered, was also overcome with joy. He walked back along the course for two kilometers until he found a spot to wait again for them to approach the end of the marathon together. Thirty minutes had almost passed and still there was no sign of the best friends. The coach was still wondering if something terrible might have happened. Finally he saw them! They were coming around a corner smiling and chatting with each other as usual. The coach watched them finish together and it brought a tear to his eye knowing that one would run back and add another five kilometers to finish with her friend. Both best friends qualified for the Boston Marathon that day. One got under four hours while it turns out the other best friend, being a few years older was able to qualify with a time over four hours. The two will run in the Boston Marathon next year and complete another personal achievement with the support of each other.

The most memorable experiences in life are not done alone but shared with someone.

“Don't run in front of me, I may not follow. Don't run behind me, I may not lead. Run beside me and be my best friend.”
-Anonymous Author

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Becomes Too Easy

"There can be no member of this team that takes us off the end of road and over the cliff. It is my job to continue to find the best and replace the rest. Our operation cannot be undermined by people who truly think they can do the job when we know otherwise. We must find them out."
- anonymous CEO

On goes the turmoil in the United States. Recession, market trouble and an endless stream of main stream media commenting on the doom and gloom.

I am of the opinion that the sheep, those that just follow along, are being led of a cliff and even exacerbating the situation by talking about it so much. I both blame the media and defend them. Of course they must report the news but the problem lies when they add opinion and drama to the news. The media becomes the pied piper and those who are too lazy to question their assessments adopt the problems as their own.

They begin by being led over the cliff's edge.

Soon, these problems become bigger than they might have been. In the financial crisis it means that the public acts in an odd and unpredictable manner. Taking cash out of the banking system to keep at home, selling stocks when they are at an all time low, storing food and water as if the end of the world was here. Bizarre and exacerbated by constantly "selling" the idea that tough times are ahead.

What is needed is strong leadership to help people begin to buck the trend. Leadership that will not tolerate "recessionary times" as an excuse because that is too easy. We need business leaders and political leaders alike to stand up and cut out the positions in their hierarchy that aren't doing the job. It takes tough decisions and hard choices to make things better but people will follow. They will walk to the cliff and jump over if the leader is the right one. The difference is the right leader won't take them to a cliff.

Economic hard times is too much of an excuse. We need to look in the mirror and decide what we actually believe and what we are willing to do about it.

Don't get lured to the cliff's edge without thinking about why. Because if you'll do it in hard times, you will for sure do it in good times...and that can have much worse consequences. Just ask the former house owners of the United States what the bottom of the ravine looks like.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Be a better leader.

In the continual advancement to become better leaders we know to be effective one needs vision, energy, authority and strategic direction. That goes without saying. But we need to ensure that we are consistent with working on these areas while becoming more inspirational leaders by sharing these other qualities:

The ability to show weakness.
  • By exposing some vulnerability, we can show our teams a sense of realism and that we have faults that are being worked on and that we didn't get to this position without any bumps in the road.

The ability to utilize intuition to effectively time what and when our actions will be.

  • We need to be able to constantly gathering data and information about everything that can relate to our business so we know when and how to act.

The ability to manage our employees with tough empathy.

  • If we strive to be inspirational leaders, we need to empathize passionately and realistically with people and really care about what our employees do.

The ability to reveal our differences.

  • What makes people drawn to others is their ability to lead by the qualities that make them unique.

Leaders have to continue to find ways to say the same message over and over again. By utilizing these methods on top of having the ability to come up with different ways to deliver these messages to get the same points across is what will make our leadership effective.

You can't do anything in business without followers and followers in these "empowered times" are hard to find. We better know what it takes to lead effectively because we need to continually find ways to engage our teams to commit to our vision.

Friday, November 14, 2008


A virus is a non-independent living organism that has a corrupting or poisonous effect. On a daily basis we are unknowingly surrounded by viruses just waiting to find a host cell to attach to so they can spread their poison. In most cases, the virus cannot find a host cell, or are met by our immune system which does not allow the virus to attach and we go on about our daily lives unaffected.

There are however viruses that we allow into our lives, in fact we welcome them in by not rejecting them once they are noticed. While we would never willingly sit in a cramped office space with a group of people who have the flu, we do willingly put ourselves in positions where we listen to, acknowledge, give merit to, and follow people who expose us to their virus of negativity every day. In doing so, we let their virus of negativity become our virus of negativity, and therefore become infected.

To truly understand this, we must understand how a virus works. Initially, a virus is absorbed so that it can gain entry into its desired target. Once granted entry, a virus replicates itself so that it has strength in numbers and is allowed to assemble. Ultimately the virus is working towards its release where it can do the damage it was designed to do.

In real life we give merit to those who wish to share their negativity with us by listening without rebuttal to the point where their negativity is absorbed in us. We then make the mistake of processing their negativity and grant it entry into our subconscious. The more we think about someone else’s negativity the more we gain ownership over it and allow it to replicate in our own mind to the point where it becomes real. In allowing negativity to assemble we grant it access to our whole self through the act of releasing and ruining our moment, day, week, etc.

Exactly like the common cold, we begin to spew our negativity onto others so that they too can become infected with the virus we allowed ourselves to acquire.

When searching for empowerment we need to understand our role in disempowerment. When we allow others to have a negative effect on us, we give our power away and become the victim every virus is looking to infect. By deciding to listen to negativity or by trying to “fix” the negativity of others we in choice expose ourselves to becoming negative.

A virus does not have to own a negative connotation. If we choose to surround ourselves with the kind of people that we wish to become, their positive virus can become ours. Their motivation can become our motivation and their power can lead us to empowerment. All we have to do is to decide what people we allow to affect us and how we allow their effect to manifest in us.

Individually we have the power to allow our brain to either be a sponge or a filter. If we want to soak up information then we allow it to enter one ear, replicate, assemble, and then release into our body. If we want to filter out information we allow it to enter on ear and then exit the other before it has time to absorb. Ultimately we are the ones who have to own the information we let absorb, enter, replicate, assemble, and release so that we have control over our mental, physical, and emotional health. Our empowerment is dependant on our ability to knowingly surround ourselves with viruses that will enhance our being, not unknowingly debilitate our souls.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's Your Scoreboard Measure?

We've all heard "life is a journey, not a destination". Personally, I believe this to be true. We don't know where the journey will end, everything it will entail, or the turns it will take. We don't even know if we are on the right journey at times.

If life were a destination, we could easily define our success with a set of metrics like - did you get there, when did you get there, did you get there ahead of schedule or behind, etc. We could easily measure the success of our destination, our life - on a scoreboard if you will.

Because life is not a destination, and because we still are searching for something- be it meaning, belonging, a personal legacy, whatever - we still need a scoreboard. This is hard for a lot of people.

Some people put "1 million dollars" on their scoreboard yet feel empty upon attaining their goal, as they realize what they really wanted was to be part of a happy family

Others place their kids achievements on the scoreboard, yet have no metrics of their own, and they risk burnout, or that awful feeling of looking back and wondering where the last 30 years went and what became of their dreams for themselves.

Yet there are some who have small scoreboards with 1 - 2 numbers that are BANG ON for them: maybe going on 1 family trip a year, seeing a Yankees game in person, and staying married happily to the same person for 50 years is the ultimate scoreboard for some.

For others, they may have very detailed scoreboards for their personal, family, business, social, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional elements to their life.

There is no right or wrong way to go about a scoreboard- as long as the numbers/ targets/ goals represent what is truly important to you and representative of what you want to achieve and be in your lifetime.

So - what does your scoreboard measure? Are there any points up there? Better get at it, because we all have to be aware that on all of our scoreboards... the clock has already started and the game is ON.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

yes - change IS tough

Change is not easy – if it were, we’d be constantly changing ourselves all the time – we would live in a utopian society because we’d all turn onto the wrong path, quickly realize the ramifications of this, and turn around and head back in the right direction. It’s often easier to continue doing what you are doing, rather than challenging yourself to become a better person by changing the bad habit – an abusive relationship, a drug addiction, bad eating habits, lack of physical activity, shopaholic, workaholic, alcoholic - whatever your personal demon may be.

People often ‘choose’ not to change due to fear – fear of being pushed outside their comfort zone, fear of success, fear of finding solace and peace. Change is scary – it requires you to realize there is a problem in the first place that needs addressing, and then digging deeper to figure out why you have that problem– often not an easy process because many don’t like opening the doors to their past. Change takes time and patience – it does not happen overnight. And most likely, on your path to change, you will come across many setbacks and ‘fall down.’ This is inevitable and the sooner you come to accept and realize that, the faster you will get back up and keep pushing forward. Rather than thinking ‘see I can’t do it, what’s the point in trying’ realize that ultimately, the important part is the ability and know-how to actually get back up and say ‘tomorrow will be a better day’

Yes, Change is tough, very tough – there’s a reason so few actually succeed at change - but that’s what makes it worth it. Because those that refuse to remain complacent and do something rather than accepting their carousel existence of continual patterns of self destruction are the ones that will get to their ‘promise land.’ So rather than whining and complaining about your awful life – change it! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and instead say ‘Yes, I can.’ Believe it yourself first, and then make it happen. Know that it will never be simple – you will always have to work on not taking that wrong turn again. Make the choice for yourself, because that’s all it is – a choice to be better then yesterday, and start taking the steps to get there – they don’t have to be large steps, just as long as they are forward steps. Don’t wait for tomorrow, next month, or next year – do it now! It does not get simpler as time goes on, and eventually you’ll realize you wasted many days, months, and years of your life by allowing your fears to control you.

Change requires YOU to be tough, to be resilient, to refuse to be a victim and come up with excuses as to why not. But it IS possible, and the biggest mistake you could make is truly believing that this is what and who you’re supposed to be – because you’re not! We all deserve happiness and personal satisfaction – but you don’t deserve it until you decide you’re worth it and take the difficult and necessary steps to get there. So unless you can look at yourself in the mirror and honestly say you are 110% happy with who you are and how your life has turned out – change ... today!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Grass Roots Leadership

Today is a momentous day for a few of here at Swim Upstream. Grab a coffee and snuggle up for a few minutes of videos, explanations and inspiration. As swim upstreamers, riders and organizational volunteers from the original Guinness Record setting Team H2V cycling team the legacy that has been promised has finally arrived.

We are proud to announce the global platform called:

Accu-Chek Cyclebetes: the biggest bike relay in the world.

What is Accu-Chek Cyclebetes. It is the work of many and the most inclusive cycling event ever created, spanning the world in hopes of helping find a cure for diabetes. It is fun, exciting, and extraordinary. Be captivated by the scope of Cyclebetes.

Students across Canada, the United States of America and Australia will ride their bikes for 24 hours honouring the spirit of the "Can do" attitude showed by our original national relay team, Team H2V. Their efforts to create a fun and incredible atmosphere in their school gymnasiums will be a spectacle to behold.

These spin-a-thons, which were modeled off of the original West Vancouver 24 hour team spin-a-thon, where the name Cyclebetes came from, bring togetehr students, teachers, athletes, and community figure heads all to help eradicate diabetes in an incredibly fun and action filled environment. Just look at the leadership these students have displayed. Do you know a school that might want to help build our leaders of tomorrow?

These students are well beyond their years. They hope to have every school in North America and Australia involved in an Accu-Chek Cyclebetes event. Watch and then pass on their message please.

Are You Going to Take Action? Will you get involved and create a team? Take the 100km Challenge and do it with the kids. They have even done the work for you...It is as simple as doing steps 1 to 10!!!! Accu-Chek Cyclebetes is the biggest bike relay in the world.

We are looking for parents, students, cyclists, and friends to help spread the word to their schools and local communities. Together you can help us create lasting change, unite the spirit of our young people and provide a legacy of health, wellness, charity and leadership.

All while having serious FUN!

Sign up your school here or request more information.

Join in on the action wherever you are in the world. The website has the full scope. let us know what you think and drop us a line.

Thank you,
The Accu-Chek Cyclebetes Team

p.s. And in case you forgot, a favourite poem of many that unites us on this day of November. Remembrance Day 90 years post World War I. May those we have lost never be forgotten and their souls rest in peace. We all thank you for the world we live in.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The president's job is just like yours and mine

I was having a very interesting conversation with one of my friends yesterday as we sat at his house and watched a few interesting You-Tube documentaries about the economy and the presidential election. The most interesting point I took away from this experience was that at the end of the day the president of the United States has a job just like we do. The only difference is that the decisions he will make will affect the entire world. Crazy - the entire world. Isn't that wild?

In all the hoopla surrounding the election of the United States next president, it occurs to me that what Barack Obama won is a job. The world's most powerful job, yes. But it's a job like yours and mine. He'll wake up in the morning (even if it is after a 3 a.m. wake up call on a red phone), get dressed, eat breakfast, and go to work. Just like you and me.

He'll get paid, just like us (not that I make what he does: I hear it is close to $400,000 +) but he faces possible unemployment like you and I, though not for another four years.

I'm being facetious because, of course, his job is nothing like yours or mine. Every move he makes will be dissected and assessed; every decision will have impact. Every meeting will have a point, and its outcome will actually matter. Well - come to think about it – maybe I'm wrong about that. The more I think about it, the more the highest office on Earth looks a lot like yours and mine. Every meeting we have, whether it be role lunch, our staff meetings, 1 on 1’s etc are just as important to us as individuals and our own lives. I guess it is all relative.

Interesting concept to make you think.

Friday, November 07, 2008


According to folklore, the mosquito is the reincarnation of jealous or greedy people in the form of Jiki-ketsu-gaki or "blood-drinking hungry ghosts." At only 16mm and 2.5mg, the mosquito can fly for 1 to 4 hours continuously and travel up to 10km in a single night. Despite their size, mosquitoes are the most deadly disease vector known and kill millions of people per year by the spread of infectious disease.

The average U.S. male is 5ft 9.2in, female 5ft 4in, and weigh 189.8/162.9 respectively. Despite the difference in size, a single mosquito has a much larger impact on the world than the average U.S. citizen. If you don’t think this is true, go backpacking near a stagnant watering hole without mosquito repellent and tell me how you feel the next day.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Everything.

Size does not matter when we allow ourselves to excel at what we were chosen to do. For the mosquito it is easy, their life path is chosen for them from birth, and without thought they immediately know what it is they need to do to survive. For us it is a little more complex. We are born with choice, we are born without a single life purpose, and our duty is to find out what we can do well and then allow ourselves to exploit the opportunity and become excellent. We do not have the luxury of having millions of others just like us striving for the same goal, so we lack strength in numbers, but remember that it only takes one mosquito to ruin your day.

Personal size is not relative to the impact that can be made. If we understand our purpose, believe in that purpose, and dedicate our lives to that purpose, then like the mosquito, we have the ability to make our impact on our surroundings.

Our genetic flaw that separates us from achieving the success of mosquitoes is that we have thought and no immediate direction. This creates fear and because we have fear we sometimes create excuses as to why we can’t find our place in life and excel. We convince ourselves that we are only one person and the scope of what we would like to excel in is far too large for just us to accomplish. Instead of acting instinctively, like the mosquito, we outthink our ability to succeed by succumbing to the idea that we are too small to make an impact.

Our route to success has less to do with individual or group size and more to do with understanding our individual purpose in life. When we understand our reason for being allowed to walk this great planet, then we allow ourselves to fulfill our purpose and contribute to the planets greatness. Our ability to understand that our impact is essential in the survival of our species is no greater than the mosquito understanding their impact to their species. In order to continue the pursuit of purpose, we, like mosquitoes, must understand that no effort is too small, and that every individual can make their impression felt in this world.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

There is hope for change

Amidst a credit crisis and potential economic recession, increasing gun violence in major Canadian cities, war abroad and some negative news that we can't seem to avoid these days...

We have the first African-American President-elect in US history. More important, we have a US population that a) chose that and b) chose the right man for the job

We have the greatest intentional consideration of the environment the modern world has known. It may be that it's on the heels of the greatest disregard fro our planet; and that it's not enough, but we are reversing the trend. Progress has made it's way from concerned 'radicals' (as they seemed at the time) to governmental policy. The up and coming generation is leading the charge on protecting our most valuable resource for the future and they're just getting started

The world has become so inter-connected that developed nations (who have the largest impact on our planet's resources) are being forced to learn the impact of their actions collectively and whether they are financial, environmental, or philanthropic; we are seeing those actions being more carefully measured and the intent is to do good.

In short, our naivete as a people is being forced to dwindle, and our leaders are being charged with resolvement of real issues (economy, environment, crime) rather than being allowed to spin-doctor a failed campaign. That is, we are calling a debacle a debacle in the case of George W rather than by any other name. The platform is there for Barack to succeed or fail but it is more transparent to the people which is what we are asking our leaders.

Amidst some scary times, history has tried to teach us we don't have it so bad. Not only are we in charge of our own destiny... we are seeing the iceberg coming before we board the Titanic; if we choose to broaden our perspective.

There is trouble in the world...
but there is also hope and that lies in all of us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life Answers Back

A father took his son on a camping hike into the mountains high above the town they lived in. They walked along yet occasionally the son would trip on the rocks and fall to the ground. It was towards the end of the hike and they were nearing their camping site when the son was becoming increasingly fatigued and the falls more often. Almost there, the son fell down a small embankment and yelled “Aaahhhhhh!!!” To the boy’s surprise, he heard a voice repeated from the hills: “Aaahhhhhh!!!” The father helped him up and encouraged him to continue. The son frustrated by all the times he fell yelled out “you are a weakling!!!” Sure enough the hills surrounding the father and son yelled back: “you are a weakling!!!”

The son took notice of what he heard back each time he yelled and asked his father what that sound was. The father said: “Son, pay attention.” The father then yelled out: “You are strong!!!” and the hills answered by saying: “You are strong!!! The son was surprised and did not understand. The father went on to explain: “What you hear is called and echo, but really it is life. And like an echo, life will give back everything you say or do.”

The lives we life are simply reflections of our own actions and words. Whatever you want in life begins with you. If you want more love in this world then create more love in your heart. If you want more competence from your team then improve your own competence. It applies to everything in all aspects of life. Life will give back to you everything you give to it and this is inclusive of your thoughts, choices, words and actions. Your life is not a coincidence. It is a reflection of you!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Brand New Day

Was America ready?

Ready for a change?
Ready for an African American in the Oval Office?
Ready to roll up their sleeves and get back to work?

They have answered the first two a resounding YES.

Welcome Barack Obama. Congratulations.

Now it is time to deliver on the third. Time to get back to work. Time to stop worrying about will happen and get back to doing something. Change will happen if we all stop analyzing what could be, and just be doing something.

Tonight you will drink in the success as the victor. Tonight you will celebrate the slaying of your enemy. But tomorrow; tomorrow you must unite the country. You must bring both sides of the country, all races, all genders and all kinds together to do the hardest thing you will ever do. You will have to bring America back from rock bottom and do this by delivering on your promises.

American citizens; it is going to take a lot of work. There will be tears. There will be hardships. Change is hard. However, the free world will support you if you all stand next to us and stand up as the leaders of the free world to say that you too will sweat for the betterment of your country and thus, the free world.

The gravy train is over. America the beautiful is now America with open wounds and terrible flaws. What will you do to bring your team back to the front?

Today is a brand new day, one with new hope, and one that we know everyone walks into with a little trepidation.

Welcome Mr. President. Now go deliver on that promise of change. Swim up stream. Swim hard.

We support you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Don't jump the gun

It’s the one thing no athlete wants to hear. That injury they just suffered through a short time ago is serious enough that they will miss upcoming events.

It could be any type of injury: a contusion, muscle strain, sprain or a torn ligament. Actions that the athlete could previously perform with ease are now difficult or next to impossible. The only way back to a full recovery is through rehabilitation.

An injury can be a traumatic experience for any athlete. Each has their own personality and will deal with an injury in their unique way; which won’t always be the best choice. Some ignore advice of trainers or even doctors who have had much more experience as athletes and/or coaches in dealing with injuries.

For those athletes who are open to accepting an injury and want to get better now will begin the long process of rehabilitation which so many may have already endured. So why is it so many athletes struggle through this experience? Why do athletes risk their health and play through their injuries instead of taking time off?

To me, dealing with an athletic injury is on a smaller scale to the process of losing a friend or experiencing a loss. That is because as athletes our training schedule, our competitions, our training group and our coaches shape our very existence. It is a significant and important part of our lives. When this is taken away without warning, many athletes have trouble coping and deny that there is anything wrong. The commitments to important competitions or goals that have been previously set are so powerful that they can cause an athlete to think they have to keep going and push through the injury. This, of course, only makes things worse.
There are usually five stages an individual will normally go through in a time of grief (“The 5 Stages of Grief” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1969) that can equally be applied to an injury:

1. Denial and isolation – the refusal to recognize the injury, and the difficulty of not, being able to talk about it. The athlete feels alone in their struggles.
2. Anger – the athlete feels a need to punish or get even with; to make others hurt as much as they do
3. Bargaining – “I will do anything to be able to go to N.Y… please let me run”
4. Depression – this is the “all is lost” stage when the feelings of loss and gain are confused and the world looks lonely and isolated. “I will miss the competition”; “I will never get back in shape”. There is nothing to look forward to.
5. Acceptance – this is the final stage where the athlete is facing the reality of the situation and willing to deal with it. They are now ready to move forward and make a plan to get better, sticking to that plan until their injury is healed.

It all depends on the individual as to how long they spend in each phase. An early injury is not going to have much effect on performance ten years down the road. There is plenty of time to recover and carry on and be a successful athlete.

The key is to understand what he or she will go through with an injury and to come to acceptance as quickly as possible. By being aware that athletes have feelings of denial, depression, anger, etc. helps considerably in the process. By dealing with emotions, using common sense and really wanting to heal an injury, even in the event of an upcoming major competition, the athlete will recover much quicker and be back in action doing what he or she loves and enjoys.

Written by: Chelsea Raymond