• Procrastination: The Next Action Habit

    This month on our Blog and Podcast we are featuring a deep dive into the world of Clarity.

    One of the struggles to having clarity, and probably its biggest hurdle, is often the practical realities of tendency to procrastinate. Now, I know that it’s human nature to put off uncomfortable or undesirable tasks, or to make the easy choice in the moment. But the reality is something will have to get it done eventually — and sooner is better than later. So how do we deal with the tendency to procrastinate?  

    First off, I invite you to listen to this week’s episode of our Podcast “You Can Make it So”. Episode 17 discusses 4 Ways to “Put Away Procrastination” – check it out here. If you are a Full Service Coaching Client then you also can access additional resources on this topic in our #Makeitso Platform. If you are not a Full Service Coaching Client then just know it is never too late to join.

    In this Blog post though, I want to do a deep dive into one of the 4 Ways to Put Away Procrastination that I mention in the Podcast …… The Next Action Habit—focus on something do-able.

    In his book, Getting Things Done, David Allen discusses the power of figuring out your very NEXT ACTION for any given thing you’re working on. It’s one of the most powerful ideas in the book — just figure out the next specific action you need to take in order to move yourself closer to completion, then DO IT…

    Now, it’s no secret that procrastination causes lots of stress and pressure… but the way in which we relieve this pressure is where the secret comes in.The key to this tip for avoiding procrastination is to figure out the very next physical action—no matter how small—you need to take to move something forward; be it a task, a project, a phone call, or whatever else.

    Want to learn how to stop procrastinating? Learn how to shift your focus. Shifting your focus to something your mind perceives as do-able makes the difference that makes a difference. Let me explain:

    Think about something you’ve been procrastinating on; like, finishing a presentation for work. Now FOCUS on how it makes you FEEL whenever you think about how you have to do that presentation. Think about all the work involved. Sucks right? How’s it make you feel? Overwhelmed?

    Now shift your FOCUS to ONE SIMPLE thing you can do right now to move this presentation even the tiniest bit closer to ‘done.’ Maybe you need to google some images to include in the presentation. That’s do-able, right?

    Make that you’re NEXT ACTION. Do it.

    The rationale behind this Next Action method is simple: when you do something your mind perceives as do-able, your energy will go up, your sense of direction and drive will increase dramatically; and you’ll be able to motivate yourself to get whatever you need to get done—DONE!

    Here is a practical tool: Anytime you feel the procrastination creeping back up again, you should take it as a trigger to CHUNK down whatever you feel like procrastinating on into something simple and do-able… Even if it’s something as small as naming your presentation…

    One small step leads to another… and another… and another… and before you know it, you’ve got momentum.

    It’s human nature to put off uncomfortable or undesirable tasks, or to make the easy choice in the moment. But if we want to Start Living in a Way Today that will Help You Thrive Tomorrow, then we have to accomplish the meaningful goals and tasks (even the ones we are not too keen on doing)  — and #Makeitso.

    BTW – You may also want to check out Episodes 1-3 of our Podcast “You Can Make it So” where we discuss Habits – an important foundation – these episodes also contain our Podcast Guide and discussion questions as a special bonus.


  • Ask the Coach

    What is your morning routine?

    I’ve become an increasingly early riser, currently waking up at 5:00am without an alarm. After waking, I meditate for ten minutes, then prepare a cup of coffee.  While the coffee is brewing I drink twenty ounces of water and make something light to carry me into my workout. As I sip my coffee, I write whatever comes to mind for ten or fifteen minutes. When writing, I use pen and paper (no laptop – yep old school).

    I tend to work out first thing in the morning. This involves going to the gym in my building (mostly cardio) or walking about 5 kilometers around my neighborhood here in Toronto. I probably should give more time to this but I am usually back before 7:00am and at my desk.

    With coffee in hand, I give myself 60-90 minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on deep work. This might include reading or researching something for a client, following up on client connect documents I sent from the day before, it might be writing script for a webinar, Mancave session or blog post, preparing for a meeting or interview, or just something for one of the other projects I am involved with. I then take a break, grab breakfast, listen to the news, review messages from clients, make note of ideas that came to mind that I want to revisit or research.

    Focusing on deep work first thing in the morning won’t work for everyone, especially if they commute or have conflicting priorities; however, I’ve realized that I’m most productive and focused first thing in the morning. Having a few more hours in the morning to do my work is a huge benefit. I feel more accomplished than I used to feel!

    This takes me to about 8:30am, when I begin my workday. I take a look at emails, moving quickly through them. I then begin my coaching work promptly at 9:00am with client meetings.

    I schedule them in blocks, two in the morning, one in the afternoon and the two in the evening. I try to be done by 8:00pm and a busy day would have 4-5 client calls. Most of client calls are Tuesday thru Thursday. These are usually one hour each, and they are pretty intense focus events. On the other weekdays, I have other appointments or respond to inquiries, or take a day to do a creative project like a podcast or prepare for a presentation. Weekends tends to be more “fun” time (if you call laundry, shopping and house cleaning fun).

    How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

    I don’t check email first thing. This was a habit that I consciously had to break. I do send a morning text to some family once I get my phone, usually a bit before 8:00am  If we got up in the morning and the first thing we did was check email, we’d be allowing others to dictate our priorities for the day. The important projects I want to focus on would get pushed back to later in the day, and I would be spending my most valuable mental energy time answering emails that could easily wait for a few hours.

    What time do you go to sleep?

    The key to waking up early in the morning is going to bed early in the evening! I tend to be asleep by 10:00pm. My morning is easiest when I have a good night’s sleep and don’t stare at any screens the hour before bedtime. I really try to powerdown the TV and my laptop an hour before bed (in honesty I don't always succeed but I try).

    Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

    Before bed I identify the 2-3 projects that are most important for me to focus on the following day. Essentially, I write out my schedule for the next day. Scheduling keeps me on track and allows me to be conscious of how I spend my time rather than being reactive.

    Meditation has become part of my evening routine, besides my ten minutes in the morning. Having mediation in the evening helps me calm my mind after a busy day and get a better sleep. It also includes journal time which leads me to reflect on my wins, woes and wants from the day. I find when I invest here, I sleep well.

    Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

    I wake up naturally. If I sleep past 5:00am, it’s because I didn’t go to bed on time, I did strenuous exercise, or I ate a poor diet the day prior. Most days I wake up without trouble.

    How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

    I eat breakfast around 7:00am, a few hours after waking up and my workout is done. It’s a predictable bowl of bran, sometimes a piece of toast, and some fruit.  It keeps me satiated until lunch.

    Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?

    Meditation is the greatest life hack that most people don’t use. I meditate for ten minutes each morning and again at night, I guess in total I give about an hour of my day to this. I also live near a place of worship and sometimes in my morning walk, or during an afternoon outing,  I will drop in.

    My meditation practice started when I was a young child. I stopped meditating regularly when I was in my late teens but then started up again in my twenties. I begin by focusing on my breathing, eventually transitioning to some traditional prayers that have deep meaning to me. I then ponder events and people I have experienced. This practice has been with me for a long time! It’s a profoundly important practice to me.

    Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

    I go through a round of emails in the morning, responding to client emails first. Then, later in the day, I do the same thing. I get about a hundred emails a day. So there are two types to me. First are messages from clients that I coach. They have a unique “ring” on my phone so they get my attention right away. One of my clients got me onto responding to clients email with a voice memo as a reply; it’s a lot more personable. I like that now a lot more.

    The others, well, to be honest I do make a point to read all of them eventually but those don’t get read or answered until late afternoon. I schedule in time for emails during my day, it’s an actual 30 minute “appointment” in my calendar.

    Checking email constantly throughout the day breaks concentration and throws off any possible state of flow.

    Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

    No. I’m not really a fan of trying to solve common life problems with apps and software programs. Some basic, old-school planning and discipline do the job fine. And if you don’t have discipline, an app won’t help.

    That’s just my take. I’m sure some people find value in the apps and stuff. There’s a certain amount of technology fetish-ism that creeps in. How the heck did John Grisham write 37+ novels, 7 Children’s books, 3 non fictions books and 4 short stories without an app? He created a routine and stuck to it. Your habits become comfortable and customary and they lead to productivity.

    How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

    I try not to. If anything I’m working on or doing is high priority or if there is an emergency, people will know how to get hold of me. Again my clients, close family and friends, have a unique ring tone. Otherwise, I try to keep it aside and not let it distract me.

    What are your most important tasks in the morning?

    Definitely shower. That’s an absolute must. Meditating, writing, reading/studying, and drinking a cup of coffee!

    What and when is your first drink in the morning?

    I enjoy a cup of coffee (I keep it at two – use to be a lot more!). I drink my coffee black.

    Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

    Absolutely! I do the exact same thing! Sometimes, I wake up a little later (5:30am-6:00am), but that would be the only difference between a weekend and a weekday. During the weekend I do not have client appointments, but I do a lot more writing and recording of our Podcast “You Can Make it So” for example happens on the weekend.

    On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

    Yes, it’s not an issue. My breakfast might change, but the overall routine will stay the same!

    What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

    I try again tomorrow. Don’t get into the habit of thinking it’s “all or nothing” - just get back on track immediately. I tell my clients often "successful people don't shame, they strive." So if you "fall" on something - get back up and try again. 

    When I wake up early, I end up having a lot of time to take care of myself and think about things (which ends up being a fun exercise for me!). So if my routine is disrupted, I miss out on that. The good news is that I get to start again the next day and pick up my routine again. That’s the cool thing about designing a morning routine - you get to practice it daily!

    Anything else you would like to add?

    Remember that it’s a good day if you go to bed smarter than when you woke up.


  • WHAT DO IF I AM IN A RUT?

    We all have moments when things overwhelm us. So what do we do – well here are 10 things we can do if we are in a rut

    1. Work on the Small Tasks

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Do your laundry, make a snack, take out the trash. Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Do a Fun Task

    Get yourself away from anything that weighs your down, maybe its your desk, your room, and go take a walk. Go for a short walk (even just to get the mail), go out and get a snack. Take a Bike Ride or check out the mall. Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away.

    3. Upgrade Yourself

    Consider learning something new. Lots of apps and webinars are short. Consider a language, a new task, or watch a video about an area of your life you always wanted to learn a bit more about (eg a hobby, task or talent). Does this work – yes, the modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration? Check out this great article by Entrepreneur Magazine

    4. Talk to a Friend about something except what is getting your down

    Talk to someone and get your mind off stuff for a while. Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

    If you are continuously getting in a rut, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward or you have forgotten the one you already have. Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind? Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.  I did a Podcast episode on this - take a listen to Episode 14 here 

    7. Read a Book (Or Blog)

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials. Check out our 22 Books for 2022. My weekly E Newsletter offers suggestions of books, movies and apps to check out – look them up or drop me an email and I will send you a full list.

    8. Discern the Reason for the Rut

    You might recognize that you are stuck in a rut, you might not know what the next step should be. One thing to remember is that not all ruts are the same. Figure out what's causing your discontentment before you make any drastic changes in your life. Consider working with a coach. Don't criticize or berate yourself once you understand the root cause of your feelings.

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your reason. Simon Sinek has a great Ted Talk on this - check it out here 

    10. Find Some Competition

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. Set for yourself small reasonable targets as part of the bigger goal and work toward those small targets and don’t let the big picture overwhelm you. If you want to know if your targets are on track drop me an email.

    Always know that you are not alone…. I am here to support you in One to One Coaching - drop me a line

    #makeitso


  • "What Should I Do with My Life?"

    "What Should I Do with My Life?"

    Ever ask that question? Maybe in a moment where life felt heavy, when direction seemed far or when determination was weakened. Often we sputter in these moments, but with strength we should strive instead to say "What are the things I can do to move one step forward?" No matter where you’re at in your life, you can change, improve, and make a difference. No matter where you’re at in your relationships, you can deepen them. No matter where you’re at in your career, there is so much mastery ahead of you.

    So - here are 5 things to do and 5 things not to do!

    What NOT to do:

    Don’t minimize yourself. All of the story-telling you do that minimizes who you are and what you’re capable of was built in your last chapter, but you can’t build your next chapter while trying to live into the old stories of who you are. Now is the time to take back control of your thoughts and remember your potential. You’re more likely to feel a sense of aliveness when you have self-respect and you’re more likely to be vulnerable and chase your dreams when you’re not doubting yourself. When you trust in your ability to figure things out, you will live a more fulfilling life!

    Don’t minimize others. We have a natural impulse to judge people so quickly. However, the more judgment you issue out to others, the less compassionate, empathetic, open, thoughtful, and kind you are. Acting this way causes you suffering inside and causes suffering externally too. Remember, haters don’t like their life! As I often say: Judge less, feel better.

    Don’t burn out. Burnout is a choice! In building the next stage for yourself, learn how to say no, set boundaries, ask for help when you need it and PLAN ahead, especially when it comes to recharge time. Decisions and habits lead to burnout, which is why it’s so important to start each day with intention. Recharging needs to be a proactive exercise, not something you do when you’re already burnt out!

    Don’t forget to celebrate and integrate the wins. Celebrating means you had a good day so you will reward yourself and share socially. From there, it is critical that you sit with the win, acknowledge your efforts and outcomes, and cheer yourself on to keep going. Integrate into your psyche that you are a person who is successful. It builds a character who knows it is capable!

    Don’t forget adventure. Adventure is something that we all need, whether that’s intellectual, emotional, or physically going somewhere new. This means different things to different people, but it all comes down to stepping out of your comfort zones.

    What TO Do:

    Creative Expression. What do you LOVE to create that makes you feel good when you share it? If you are interested in something, go deeper. Explore to find your passions so you can express something that is a part of you!

    Contribution. Do you feel like what you’re doing has a meaningful impact on people you care about? You need to find your audience and serve THAT audience to feel fulfilled. Know who you want to serve, otherwise you are just running a business, not serving a mission. This is huge!

    Connection. In the act of doing what you’re doing, are you building friendships? When you don’t have friends at work, you might feel less connected to the company and mission. It is so important to focus on culture. Human connection is critical, in all areas of life.

    Control. Believe that you are self-reliant enough that you can shape your life’s agenda and path. You can shape, mold and control your reactions to the difficulties and stressors of life. Having a sense of personal power is key to loving your life!

    Congruence. This is the baseline. Live in integrity with the best parts of yourself and always be authentic. From a base of congruence, we add personal power so that we can be more intentional and more conscientious in how we react. We can then move to explore the world to find what makes us feel alive and expressed, to contribute and to feel connected to those we serve!

    So all this is not selling “hopeium”, but it’s about a Model of Thought that says #makeitso. In my 20+ years now of coaching I know that  – no matter if your C Suite or “Regular Joe” this Model works and is transformative. There is no question it cannot help address. Let me know if you want to know more.

    And check out this week's Podcast Episode 14 on Wins, Woes and Wants - you have to "check in" so that you can "move forward"


  • Inward, Outward, Forward

    Ever had the opportunity for a new job? Or maybe its a role advancement at your current employer? Deciding whether to take it or not is often mixed with emotion and with the fear of experiencing regret. So what should you do? And how do you know if this role is right for you? I have been reflecting on this question a bit, especially after reading Daniel Pink’s new book, The Power of Regret. In this book he features a three-step process that manages regrets effectively. I also think it adds to the tools of discernment we need when trying to decide whether or not to embrace a new opportunity. He calls them “Inward, Outward, Forward.”

    Inward

    You begin with reflecting on how you think about yourself. The way that we talk to ourselves is typically demanding to say the least. The expectations we have of ourselves are often equally as tough. We would never have the same expectations of someone else as we would of ourselves (or at least we would give them more understanding or grace if they missed the mark). First step in discerning is to treat yourself with kindness. Recognize that the flux your are experiencing, the hesitations, the fear of regrets is actually not that special. They are very common. But here is the crucial part - as Daniel Pink says - "They're part of the whole human experience, and that any misstep that you make is a moment in your life, not definitional of your life.”  Love that! Let's reduce the pressure and remain in perspective.

    Outward

    The second step to discernment is to be honest with others in your inner circle about how you are feeling about the opportunity. Daniel Pink puts it this way: “Disclose. If you're comfortable disclosing to other people, that's powerful. Even if you simply write about your negative emotions, that is helpful, too....either by talking about it or by writing about it, we make it less menacing.” So true! The inward fear, or the inner story we often tell ourselves, needs clarity at times so that fear does not take us to a place beyond prudence. 

    This is where one to one coaching aides a great deal. The biggest benefit of coaching as compared to traditional leadership training, reading a book or watching a bunch of videos is implementation and speed of results and change. I’m sure you’ve sat in a day-long training session and learned a ton of new leadership techniques, but then never had the chance to apply them. Coaching holds the participant accountable to come up with their own solutions and when people come up with their own ideas, they are more likely to follow through with them.

    Forward

    Our vision for the opportunity before us is often rooted in only thinking about a chapter of life we can imagine. For most of us that is a few years in the future. But as Daniel Pink nudges, what if you say, ‘I’m going to place a phone call to me of 2026. What does me in 2026 want me of 2022 to do right now?’ That is perhaps one my favourite decision-making tools, and one I teach to all my clients. I envision myself years ahead either being angry with today's me for missing the moment, or doing "the happy dance" because I seized the moment. This exercise moves us forward from fear to the future.

    If you want some help with envisioning 2026  - well  – coaching is what we are about. Please reach out – would love to work with you and help the you of 2026 to be doing a “happy dance” for the choices you make in 2022!

    My coaching philosophy boils down to the word and acronym GROW

    The coaching process down to four distinct stages: 

    GOAL - where we want to be

    REALITY - where we are right now

    OPTIONS - what can we do?

    WILL - what are we going to do?

    With 25 years of experience, certification and professional membership in three organizations along with many successful clients who have also become high achieving friends, I invest in my clients and give them value as they seek to Thrive. Drop me a line – and let’s see if we sync and I can help you to start living in a way today that will help you to Thrive tomorrow.

    The long and the short of it is that opportunities come, and we can choose to embrace them or not. Fear and regret should not hold us back (both are part of life, and hurdles to be overcome). What should aide us in our discernment is if we can see Inner, Outward and Forward notions of our best selves in that future opportunity. Embracing that will help #makeitso.

    P.S. - Check out a "You Can Make It So" Podcast episode  (#13) on this topic - click here 


  • So what, then, is gratitude?

    So what, then, is gratitude? Lets look at this question and why is important, and by the way, check out Episode 12 of the "You Can Make It So Podcast" for more on Gratitude.

    Simply put, gratitude is a habit. It’s a way of looking at the world and all the good things in it with a feeling of appreciation, regardless of whether or not your current situation is to your liking.

    Gratitude is a heart-centered approach to being at peace with yourself and with all you have.

    When you practice this feeling of gratitude, it attracts even MORE things into your life for which to be grateful.

    Gratitude is an excellent path to psychological well-being 

    Psychologists have highly researched gratitude and find it to be among the main focuses of positive psychology. Evidence suggests that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. But how?

    Gratitude changes our brains. Research has found that people who tend to be more grateful have more brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area associated with learning and decision making. This brain activity persisted a month later, suggesting that gratitude has long-lasting effects.

    Gratitude can overpower negative emotions. Feeling grateful boosts positive emotions like joy and compassion while encouraging us to look for and connect with what’s good in life. This helps us switch our attention from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy.

    Gratitude builds over time. A continued gratitude practice starts having long-lasting effects on mood and behavior, which can snowball over time. 

    Gratitude can help combat depression. A study showed that a single thoughtful appreciation leads to an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness and a 35 percent reduction in depressive symptoms. When it becomes a habit, it can help prevent anxiety and depression.  

    So I want to share with you 3 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude – these are great to write down in your #Makeitso Journal – a wonderful tool I encourage you to get and to make a part of your daily habits – again see our website for how to get a copy. 

    3 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

    1. Make it a ritual

    Set up a time to be by yourself.  It could be as little as five to 15 minutes. Just enough time for you to pause and reflect about anything and everything in your life that you are grateful for.

    Do this by reflecting on daily activities, and then write down at least 5 things for which you are grateful. It can be as easy as a bullet point list. It will amaze you when you look back over your wealth of goodness, especially when you are having a bad day.

    This ritual is rooted in something we teach to our Phoenix Men – the Wins, Woes and Wants…. I am going to speak on that more in our next episode and how it can be part of the Daily Fire we teach as part of our #Makeitso Journal

    2. Be open to the truly amazing simple goodness in your life

    The key here is to be open to even the small things in your world that make it a better place.  You will be surprised at what shows up in your life. Take for instance, the smiles you exchange with family members, the water you drink, or the beautiful stroll you took in the park. Once you give yourself permission to take inventory of the (literally) hundreds of miracles that greet you daily, your energy for life can’t help but blossom. Be Open to Truly Amazing Moments

    3. Spread the word

    Once you have had a chance to open the door to gratitude you can amplify it by sharing the idea with others.  You will acknowledge small acts of generosity that fill your life, like being grateful for your partner for taking out the garbage. When you start sharing your gratitude daily you’ll experience more acts of kindness that are being directed your way. When this happens the miracle starts to explode and you see the energy of gratitude coming back from all corners of your life.

    One Habit that I have is that I commit every day to “four thank yous”! :

    I write a thank you note every day to someone

    I saw thank you to at least one stranger daily

    I pause and say thank you to someone serving me daily – restaurant, police officer, doctor, cleaning staff

    I say thank you to my God in a prayer

    If you live in gratitude you become aware of moments, opportunities and you live in a state of abudance not a state of seek every day more…

    Your work become not about more but service

    Your family life becomes not about more but serenity

    Your desire to success becomes not about accumulation but thriving

    And thriving is about become who you are meant to be – without excuses

    Once you start using this powerful, energizing tool, you can lift yourself from the doldrums to a place of endless enthusiasm for life and boundless joy every day

    The hardest thing about tapping into this quiet secret of gratitude is just getting started. Go ahead, try it out right now. What or who do you have in your life to be thankful for? 

    #Makeitso

     


  • Direction is as important as Destination

    Each and everyone one of us has emotions - and we know that there different types of them.

    There is a story told about George and Carl who were hanging out in the wee hours of the morning, with “a bit of the necker of the vine” well consumed if you know what I mean. They got talking about the differences between the emotions of being angry, upset or enraged. 

    So George says to Carl "I know how to show you what I mean."

    So at 1:00am in the morning George took his cell phone and put it on speaker and randomly dialed a number at which a sleepy voice answered and George said “Is Jones there?” The sleepy voice said: “there is no Jones here” and hung up the phone.  So George says to Carl - “that is upset.”

    Then at 2 :00am in the morning George took his cell phone and pushed re dial and the same sleepy voice answered, and George said “Is Jones there?” The sleepy voice raised and emphatically said: “I told you before there is no Jones here” and slammed the phone. So George says to Carl - “that is angry.”

    Then at 3:00am in the morning George took his cell phone and pushed re dial and the same sleepy voice answered and George said: “This is Jones - do you have any messages for me?” and the sleepy voice erupted and summoned every curse they knew upon George before they hung up...... and George says to Carl “that is enraged!”

    Thank goodness I don’t give out my cell phone number! 

    That humourous story demonstrated that there certaintly are different emotions. There is however a deeper emotion which I think High Achievers have in spades, and it is what sets them apart with the same distinction that George was seeking for Carl to understand. That emotion is Gratitude!

    People who summon the emotion of Gratitude in their daily lives generally express it in three sustaining factors:

    People of Gratitude are always discovering. They seek to find moments not only of personal gain, but also personal growth. They are learning, striving, seeking and embracing the determination that life will not become routine but will always be creative and new. They are open to ideas, perspectives and experiences different than their own, and for the life story that brings such to them.

    People of Gratitude are always awakening within themselves abundant sources of strength. They take time to answers such life questions as: What is the morale compass of their life?, Where does their strength arise from?, What is the source of their motivation, their drive, their determination? They also have a clarity about who they are serving (and it's rarely themselves) and “for who” they do all they do (and most admit again it's not themselves or the bottom line of a balance sheet).

    People of Gratitude recongnize that Gratitude is a memory of the Heart. People of Gratitude don’t forget along the way who has aided them, was a mentor to them, believed in them and supported them. I think of a quote I heard someone remark recently: “When you are from poverty you become a first responder. You must go back into poverty and pull as many out as possible.”  Gratitude reigns within those words! People of Gratitude are not into "comparing", they are often about "remembering" and "striving".

    I started with a story so please let me finish with one

    Once upon a time, far away and long ago, there was a salesperson travelling down a very rural road. Feeling lost, and spotting a girl of about 12 years old by the roadside, he asked, "How far is it to the Robinson Farm?" "Well sir," said the bright young lady, "if you keep going the way you are headed, it's about 24,996 kilometres. But if you turn around, it's about four." 

    Determining our direction is as important as deciding our destination. It is not just about getting from “here” to “there.” It is also about choosing Gratitude along the way - go ahead #makeitso!


  • Long Term Thinking

    So my microwave is getting slow! That is what I told myself recently while waiting to warm up a bowl of home made chicken soup. (It was so good by the way).  Now the reality is that my microwave has not changed speeds at all, but my expectation of it has. It’s human nature to want fast results. Now let’s add to that the constant barrage of social media, navigating the results of a global pandemic, outbreak of war, an economic period of re-adjustment, and most of us are not in the mood to pause long in expectation of any result, let alone think long-term. We just want things done (like an item in the microwave), fast!

    Ever since the pandemic came upon us, I’ve been resetting the way I think about time, and consciously embracing long-term thinking. Maybe it was the time working from home, or the solitude of not sitting in a coffee shop, or maybe it was just seeing clients, friends and society in general struggling, but I have been pondering it a lot. Reflecting on our expectations of self, others and timelines, has been something I have done with my clients in their businesses and careers, and been trying to apply it to my own day to day.

    I have been inviting all I meet to start thinking - long term. So what does longer term thinking do for you?

    CHANGES ATTITUDE 

    Re-orienting your point of view to the long-term, you force yourself to ask questions like “In 20 years, will I be proud of this?” Such questions enables you to resist pressure in the moment and make the right decisions based on values and ethics, not immediate gain or loss. It makes you “Pivot, not Ping”, as I like to say. You change not with the wind or a wave, but adjust with wisdom.

    CHANGES YOUR GOALS

    As Jeff Bezos observed, “”If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue.”

    Long term thinking sets you apart. In sets you apart in your career, in your business and in your personal relationships too. You permit yourself sometime to "bask" in wins, to learn from woes and to clairify wants. 

    CHANGES YOU

    When you think long term, its not hours, days or weeks that pause you, but seasons. There are seasons, (and I don't mean weather here), but seasons in our life when some things are expected, and some where not so, and we have to respect them. One season you might focus on work when you start a new job, for instance and then times when you might need to refocus for example likely pull back when caring for a sick relative.

    We have to respect the seasons. And with a long-term mindset, you recognize: There’s plenty of time to shift your focus back to work, or whatever your key projects are. Rebalancing changes you and allows you to grow in gratitude for the moment, especially moments precious to another that may never return again.

    In Episode 10 of my podcast “You Can Make It So”, I touch on this with the concept of the “Bank of Goodwill”. Check it out.  Long-term thinking isn’t just “nice to have”, like a speedy microwave. When we embrace it, it’s a step toward becoming the kind of people we want to be. We begin to live with a serenity that keeps us on purpose. 

    We become a people who have good habits, who are gaining growth, meeting goals, hitting thresholds, but also people who are embracing a gratitude that makes the habits and growth about something even bigger (and more long lasting) than success – legacy.

    Let’s #Makeitso

     


  • The Drive of Life

    I do not generally watch the Oscars - or any awards ceremony for that matter. But this week, on the internet, the news, and even in conversations with colleagues and clients, the interaction between Chris Rock and Will Smith, has been not only on full display; but in full discussion. What does this all tell us about the state of things now, but also how does it offer us as an opportunity to elevate the conversation and shape the future?

    I'm not going to judge or evaluate the actions of Will Smith or Chris Rock. I'll let them do that for themselves.

    Instead, I'm using this event as a way of asking myself how can I continue to be better.

    How can this event help each of us be better to each other?

    First, it reminds us, as a colleague of mine put so well "extreme emotions are the enemy of common sense." When we give into the extreme expression of our feelings, it is serious but often it is also to our detriment.

    Second, it recalls for us that "unfinished business" from our past tends to shut down our ability to reason, to respond (not react), to a situation in a manner that does not trigger the dominance of emotion, but rather permits us to remain calm in the face of anxiety, anger and anguish - a virtue you and your career, family and future self will be grateful for.

    Now, some have said that it is important to be driven, (and I agree with that). I rise every morning at 5:00a.m. not because I don't like my soft mattress and warm sheets, but because I am driven to make the most of my day and the opportunities ahead. But I try to drive in the right direction.

    Some have commented that we must defend ourselves, and others, when words or actions are hurtful or not well placed. True enough, but (to continue my driving metaphor), where the “rubber hits the road” is the manner in which we choose to do that. Will it be a public stage or a private conversation? Will it be a hand slap, or a series of well-placed words?

    As I consider the entire event my mind goes back to something I have noticed missing these days in many circles - civility. It might be an 'olde fashion word', but it is a modern day need. Civility does not imply to 'ignore' events, rather it beckons us 'choose'. To choose the manner of our response in light of the higher virtues we strive for ourselves and for our society. It calls us to give in to our better self, not our lowest form.

    So where do we go from here? Well, first by acknowledging that we have all struggled with anger and frustration (try driving in Toronto without doing so). But that fine dance between tolerance and take down, is the key. Review your own patterns of emotional response to comments, criticism and critique - where do they range on the meter? And then ask what you do with them? To bury our response isn’t the answer is either…. Where do you place that frustration so that it does not 'rise again'?

    Secondly, let us learn from what happened (without excusing it). Let us not judge Will Smith or Chris Rock. It was such a layered moment of emotions, old wounds, conflicting values, sensitive subjects, and more. Suffice it to say that it was a head on collision where personal and professional values collided. But let us ask ourselves what does this incident say about our wider society and – maybe even more monumental – what does it invite us to change - about what we see as acceptable in similar moments?

    I think if we all gave those questions "a good think", we might be on the road to better days of civility – and this drive of life – less of a slap and much more scenic.  

    #makeitso

     


  • How to Cope with It All?

    Most recently, with other leaders I know and coach, conversations circle around the questions of change, stress and the uncertainty of the world we live in today. Can you relate to this?

    These sentiments usually manifest themselves when we begin noticing we aren’t as driven as before and we notice a few other things about ourselves:

    · Your passion fades
    · You don’t feel the highs and lows anymore
    · Little things make you overly emotional
    · Everybody drains you
    · You’re becoming cynical
    · Nothing satisfies you
    · You can’t think straight
    · Your productivity is dropping
    · You are self-medicating
    · You don’t laugh anymore
    · Sleep and time off no longer refuel you

    So what do you do?
     
    1. Tell Someone
    Swallow your pride and let someone else into the stress and anxiety you feel. Someone you trust. Nothing good happens when you’re isolated. When you admit it to others, you finally end up admitting it to yourself. This is where the value of one to one coaching comes in - a mentor to help you through it and to give you perspective in it.

    2. Redirect
    The problem is bigger when we only have our pain to focus on. And pain is selfish, it always demands our attention. So make sure your rest schedule is consistent, and re direct yourself when it becomes all consuming - watch a movie, go for a hike. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. Not giving up on life helps you get back into life.

    3. Don’t make any big decisions
    In this state, often we are tempted to do things that can ruin our lives and the lives of those we love. Don’t do those things. Do not quit your job. Do not buy a sports car. Do not cheat on your spouse. Do not make any drastic changes or moves right now if you are in this season.

    4. Develop a circle 
    Friends who remind us that “Tomorrow the sun will rise” make all the difference. You need people who believe in you when you’ve stopped believing in yourself. This is one of the reasons why our Group Coaching Platform - Mancave - is so powerful. The community, the content and even the coach help to propel us when we are tempted to stall.

    5. Grieve your losses
    Life can be a series of un-grieved losses. It’s hard to know what to do with our losses. The dreams and plans that aren’t happening right now — grieve them. Admit it sucks — it’s part of healing. There is something about grieving that makes the next chapter more enjoyable. 

    6. Live today in a way that will help you Thrive tomorrow
    Rest. Eat right. Think right. Work out. Do the things today that produce results that you will only see tomorrow. Invest in the future by changing up patterns of thought and life starting today. Make sure you are on point in all five areas of life (spiritual, emotional, relational, physical and financial). It keeps our focus forward.

    I tell those I coach, that a chapter is just that... a chapter, it's not the story. I hope this helps you work through a very difficult chapter and if I can help, know I would like to help you #makeitso.