Category Archives: Growth

20 in 20

I’m sure I’ve written about this tool, trick, hack before but it definitely is worth repeating. It is probably the most useful bit of homework that my clients enjoy. Well “enjoy” might not be the right word. Maybe “productive”.

Basically it is a free writing exercise with a few bounds. It can be used to push for creativity or for honesty. It can bring world peace. Ok, that might be a little hyperbole but it is a great tool that can help you push back limitations.

Go to a quiet place with few distractions. Put your cellphone on silent. Set a timer for twenty minutes. On a piece of paper (yes I recommend paper for this task) write across the top the problem you are trying to solve. Well it could be a problem or a challenge or an exploratory question. Then for the next twenty minutes write out as many responses as you can. Aim for twenty responses. To get twenty, you don’t have time to judge, edit or criticize your responses. Don’t put a lot of thought into any response because the clock is ticking. Remember you are not looking for quality responses, just a lot of them.

After the alarm rings, put the paper away without reading it. Let a day pass. Do things that allow your thoughts to flow. Really how many great ideas come to you in the shower or waking from a dream. Then go back to the paper. Read over your responses without editing or judging them. Set the timer for another twenty minutes. Try to add more responses or flesh out the responses you’ve already wrote down. At this point, you are adding, not editing. No criticism.

Let one more day pass. Go for a walk. Now reread all of your ideas. Circle anything that speaks to you. Pick the three best responses. Also pick the wildest response and the most “out there” response. Set your timer on last time. Now take those final five responses and add as much to them as you can. Include things you circled on responses that didn’t make the cut.

This is a great tool for “questions” like:

1.) What do I want to accomplish this year?

2.). Why do I hate my job?

3,) How could I get more customers?

4.) Why is my boss acting like a jerk?

5.) Why should I take this job?

6.) What would make me happy?

As you can see, it has a wide range of uses. It helps you tap into your subconscious and trap your underlying thoughts in writing.

Are you really asking for help?

This came up again recently with a client.  He is looking to find new connections (networking) on the road to landing contract work.  He’s having a bit of a blockage making those phone calls.  I’ve had other clients who had similar blockages asking for introductions for a new job.  There is something about making those calls that is blocking these professionals because it feels like they are asking for help.  These otherwise talented and skilled professionals have a weakness.  They are used to being the ones to offer help.

A simple shift of perspective can help.  My client is a confident, talented professional.  He is not asking for help.  He is offering to help.  The greatest need of businesses and organizations is talent.  Finding that talent can be very difficult.  My client has done the hard work of finding a skilled professional for the person he is calling…….himself.  He has already saved them a lot of effort.  He is now offering to bring his skills and talents into their organization.

Are you having a hard time reaching out to someone?  Are you really asking that person for help or are you offering your services?  Share this link if you know someone who’s having a hard time networking.  Comment below if you want to share your stories or get another point of view.

Pleasure with Pain

If you break motivation down into it’s simplest form, we are motivated to either seek pleasure or avoid pain.  Now I know many of you are rejecting that, saying that you are much more complex than that but stick with me for a minute.  Pleasure can include everything from a taste of a delicious juicy hamburger with tempura fried bacon on it (yes, tempura fried bacon exists, I’ve had it and I’m obsessed) to love.  Pleasure includes security and peace.  Pleasure can also include spirituality.  Pain on the other hand isn’t just limited to physical pain.  It can include fear, embarrassment, social rejection, insecurity, hungry, loneliness, etc.  The list can go on quite a while.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t so simple as that.  How do you stack up pleasure that will happen six months from now vs. pain happening today, for example dieting and exercising for six months so that you can look good for the upcoming high school reunion?  How do trade off one pain vs. another, for example my back hurts right now and I know 30 minutes of stretching will help…..but I don’t really like the stretching either?  How do you exchange one pleasure for one pain, for example spending on a big celebration when money is tight?

It is ok to allow our subconsciousness to handle these decisions of which pleasure to seek and which pain to avoid as long as we are ok with the outcomes.  Really, your subconscious is making hundreds of decisions a day and you don’t want to get stuck in trying to analyze each and everyone.  When you are not happy with your situation, whether it be financial, relationship, health, etc., stop and consider which decisions are leading you in the wrong direction and why you are making that decision.  It might be helpful to try to frame those decisions in a trade off between pleasures and pain.  You might have to ask yourself “why” a few times because most people are slow to admit what is really going on in their decision making.  Once you understand the tradeoffs, then work to enhance different pleasures, minimize different pains and (frequently) work to pull future pleasure into the moment.

Examples help.  I was telling the truth, my back is killing me right now.  It is a chronic issue that comes back a few times a year.  This one is as bad as it has gotten in probably the last five years.  Nothing to do but stretches.  My wife has a yoga video that does wonders for my back…….but I really don’t enjoy it.  So I have a literal pain, my back.  Seems like I should be able to jump up and fire up that video.  Why aren’t I?  Well, I know from experience the yoga tape won’t make my back feel better right away.  So the pain avoidance isn’t really an immediate pay off.  I find yoga to be pretty boring.  I know my yoga loving friends tell me I’m not doing it right if I’m not loving it but I don’t love it.  There is a certain level of mental pain that comes along with doing yoga for me.

So how do I motivate myself to go do those stretches, well in this case I brought in another pain, social embarrassment.  By writing and posting this, I sort of have to go do the yoga.  If I don’t, I’ll be a bit embarrassed that I let my laziness and procrastination let me sit here in pain.  Alright.  I’m going to go do some downward dogs.

Comment if you need some help affecting change.  Please share.  Imagine the pleasure you’ll get if this helps someone you know.

How were my houseplants doing?

I’m reading The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention by Pamela Mitchell.  I’m not that far in, so I can’t really give you a book report yet but there was one point that I felt was particularly poignant.  Pamela wrote about how someone, Stacey, was so excited about Pamela’s job at the time.  Stacey loved the idea of Pamela’s job but Stacey was focused on business class tickets to Japan on the company’s dime.

Pamela’s point was that Stacey looked at Pamela’s job as a fantasy, oh all those trips to exotic sounding places and not having to sit behind the curtain with the commoners as she did it.  Stacey didn’t ask the real questions about the job.  From The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention, “How long was I usually away?  How much of that time was spent working?  Did I enjoy reading through hundreds of pages of contracts?  When was the last time I had seen my friends?  How were my houseplants doing?”

You have to be careful about letting the fantasy, both good and bad fantasies, prevent you from making an informed decision.  The international travel sounds good but conference rooms around the world largely look the same.  When you are considering a change, stop and consider as many details about the potential reality as you can.  What is a typical day like?  What is a typical week like?  Will you be able to afford the things in life that are important to you?  Will you have the free hours to actually enjoy your life?  Will you be able to plan and make commitments?  Should your houseplants all be plastic?

Common areas to consider:

1.) Financial – this is an obvious one but be sure to consider both short term and longer term goals

2.) Consistency – there is no right answer here.  It comes down to whether you like to always live without a plan on one end of the spectrum or to have predictability.  If you are planning on taking classes, volunteering for your kids or even having Tuesday night bowling league, a lifestyle that requires you to travel at the drop of a hat.

3.) Variety – Even if you can go bowling every Tuesday, does the change give you enough of the spice of life to keep you engaged for the long term.

4.) Growth potential – what you are considering may seem perfect for you today but what about next year?  What about ten years from now?  Does this change launch you in the direction that you want to go?

5.) Authority – as a manager of mine told me years ago, what ever role you have must either have the authority to fulfill the responsibility of the job or the person you work for must have that authority.  If the authority necessary for you to succeed is more than one level away from you, than you probably won’t succeed.

6.) Flexibility – if you really need to drop everything and disappear for an afternoon, can you?  Can you choose which task needs to get done in what order?

You can do anything but you probably won’t

Only 8% of people succeed in their New Year’s Resolutions.  That is 92% of people create a goal that is important to them, commit to themselves to go after the goal and then fail to achieve it.  25% of them don’t even make it through the first week before they give up on their goals.  Most people simply aren’t willing to commit to their dreams.

One of the most common reasons people fail to achieve their goals is that they are afraid of failing.  One study showed that a significant percent of people don’t even apply for jobs that might be a bit of a stretch.  They are too embarrassed.  What if they get the interview and aren’t qualified……how embarrassing!  I hope you read that with as much sarcasm as I intended, because I intended a lot of sarcasm.  Buckets and buckets full.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you were not afraid to fail.  The reality is reality isn’t likely to be holding you back.  It isn’t your education or your looks.  It isn’t your speaking ability or your financial resources.  These are obstacles but other’s have overcome them, why not you?  Tom Petty is a singer?  Some people think Keith Richards was a sex symbol?  Donald Trump is the president?  Think about that one for a minute.  If these people achieved their goals, why not you?

Achieving a goal is like building a bridge.  Slow down.  Take a step, just one step today, and work toward your goal.  Don’t worry about the end.  Don’t worry about other people’s impression.  Just take a step today and then another.

Do they really have to meet you halfway?

When a loved one is hurt, lost or just anxious, do you really need them to meet you half way?  Right now, while they are in pain, do they really need to move to meet you at all?  Love them unconditionally.  Go to where they need you to be and love them.  Just be available.  Don’t put preconditions, obligations or expectations on your love.  Simply accept them, not only who they are when they are at their best but accept them for who they are when they are at their worst.  There is no score to keep in love.

 

 

“That’s what I was doing!”

We were at a pool over the weekend and a child was getting a private swimming lesson from one of the lifeguards.  The kid was working to pass the deep end test but couldn’t quite get his backstroke right.  The lifeguard told the boy, “Point your toes, when you kick.”  The boy yelled, “That’s what I was doing!”  That is the point when the boy stopped learning and improving.  He was insistent that he was doing everything right, despite not getting the results he wanted.

How many times do we do that as adults?  Whether it is from a boss, spouse, friend or co-worker, how many times has someone given us a positive critic but we took it as criticism.  Sometimes it hurts to say that we aren’t doing something right.  Sometimes it is hard to admit that we need to do better.  Growth is hard but we can do it.  Sometimes all we have to do is listen.