Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Embrace the Uncomfortable

Real growth requires change. And real change can be scary. Think about the first steps for a baby learning to walk. His entire life he has watched all the “big people” walk instead of crawl. The baby wants to walk. It is almost instinctual to first stand up and then to take actual steps. But it is also very scary. What if I fall? What if I get hurt? (I know, I know – the baby is not thinking in such terms but you get the point). The baby has to overcome fear, has to overcome inertia and overcome lack of total muscle control. Despite what could seem an almost impossible task for such a “small person” to overcome babies do learn to walk. And then walk fast. And then run. Once they have pushed beyond the known and into the previously unknown they are unstoppable.

That same pattern has repeated itself throughout your life. Think about how you felt learning to ride a bike. You pushed past the fear and then felt the joy of the wind as you pedaled faster and faster or as you stopped pedaling and picked up speed down the local hill. It was the same when learning to drive a car. You wanted to learn but felt some trepidation the first time you sat in the driver’s seat. After driving down the country road or across a parking lot your confidence grew and soon you wanted to drive everywhere. Once you got your license you went where you wanted and when you wanted (depending upon how good you were at convincing your parents to actually give you the keys on Friday or Saturday nights).

That is what growth for everyone is. Pushing beyond the known; pushing beyond the comfortable. If you never venture outside your comfort zone you’ll never discover just what you are capable of. You never grow and you never really change. Sure you’ll get older and your outward appearance will change, but deep inside you will remain the same. No one ever comes to the end of their lives and says they should have done less or should have tried less. The common reflection is to look back and wish to have done more, to have moved more boldly and to have taken more risk.

Growth is risk, but as the saying goes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. When you come up to that point where a little voice in your mind tells you to back off, that you are pushing smack up against the unknown, go ahead and push forward. Embrace the uncomfortable and see where it will lead you. You will be surprised at just what you can handle and just how much you can accomplish. The more you push the more skills you will develop. The most powerful of which will be the courage to demand more of yourself and to move ever forward.

Uncomfortableness is just your minds way of telling you that a new life lesson is straight ahead. Move forward, embrace it and let the education commence.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quote for the week

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” – Benjamin Disraeli

You Must Get Rid of the Good in your Life

Over the years I have become convinced that the word “good” is holding us back. Successful people have learned that good is not enough; the goal is to be great. Great at being you and great at what you do.

For years when I was asked “How are you doing today” I would answer “Pretty good”. What the hell kind of answer was that. It occurred to me that if I was going to have great day, a successful day, I needed to be doing much better than “pretty good.” Pretty Good leaves it unsaid that I could be doing better, and if I could be doing better than I should get after it. I no longer answer with pretty good. I answer with great, fantastic, fabulous or something similar. Even if the day has not gone as well as expected my response when asked how am I doing can actually change the rest of my day.

It all goes back to mindset. Successful people are positive and optimistic. Everyone encounters challenges in their lives but forward thinking people move through and deal with the challenges. They do not wallow in self pity and they do not procrastinate. They dig in and get moving.

The other problem with the word good is that it lets you off the hook. If you accept that your work is good it can quickly slide into “good enough”. That becomes a slippery slope. “Good enough” is like cholesterol building up in your arteries. As you except more and more “good enough” in your life (more cholesterol building) the level of success you can attain starts to drop (your blood flow gets compromised). Over time the excess cholesterol can kill you; over time “good enough” kills your creativity, your productivity, your skill level, and ultimately your ability to attain all the success you dream about.

You need to strive to be great. Successful people put their full effort into everything they do. Is that report you are going to turn in to your boss the absolute best you can do? If not, why would you turn it in? Your work is a reflection of you. Are you giving your full focus and energy to building and strengthening your relationships with family and friends? How can you expect to enjoy deeper and more meaningful relationships without putting in the effort? You are only as great as the work you produce and the effort you put into the relationships around you.

Banish the word good from your vocabulary. Substitute the words great, awesome, fantastic, superb, outstanding, extraordinary, fan-freaking-tastic, excellent, outstanding, superior, fantabulous, amazing, excellent, etc, etc. Don’t let yourself off the hook. Successful people demand the best from themselves at all times.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Your Response is Always a Choice

You are the controller of your reactions, emotions and attitude. You can let yourself be run by knee-jerk reactions or you can slow down and really think about what is going on and then make a conscious choice on how to respond to any event in your life.

We all get bad news from time to time. You find out your car needs repair, you learn about an illness, or you receive a reprimand or an unflattering review from your supervisor. Now what? You can dive deep into your own pity pool, you can get angry, you can take it out on the next unsuspecting person you encounter, or, just maybe, you can stop and think.

Choosing to be angry or upset is easy. But easy doesn’t lead to personal growth or teach you tools for expanded success in the future. You need to hear what was said and think about it at an objective level. This means you need to leave your emotional side out of it. Emotions cloud both your judgment and your reasoning skills.

A negative response serves no purpose. You are telegraphing to all those around you to stay out of your way. Everyone can feel the negative energy. Negative attracts more negative and pretty soon you will find yourself spiraling downward into a worse and worse mental state. At this point no one is going to want to step in and help you with whatever the problem is.

I am not saying that you have to have a positive response to bad news. That would be a pretty tough request for even the most optimistic person. But, you can respond from a neutral position and ask yourself a few questions.

What is the real issue here and what did I do to influence it? Except for rare occasions your past behavior has had something to do with your present situation. Car repairs likely have to do with overlooked routine maintenance or poor/risky driving practices. Poor health news likely relates to poor diet, exercise or lifestyle habits. Negative supervisor feedback is related to performance and/or communication issues.

What can I learn from this? The lesson is in the answer to the first question. If your current thought/behavior patterns are causing an unpleasant outcome, you need to change your patterns. It is you that has to change. The world around you is not going to make special accommodations just for you.

How am I going to change moving forward to help prevent this from happening again? Here is the key and the moment where you can take the event and make your response positive. Admit that you are a contributing factor to what has happened (not the only factor, but a contributing factor). Make a commitment to changing your behavior and start immediately. If your driving is the issue put your cell phone in the glove box when you get into the car. If your lifestyle is a factor, go home and throw out the junk food and start an exercise routine. If communication is the issue, have a conversation with the other person and let them know you are committed to making things work. There is always a change that can be made to help improve any situation.

How you respond to the events in your life makes all the difference. It has always been your choice. You likely just need to learn to separate the emotional reaction from the intellectual. Unchecked emotions pull you rapidly away from a success mindset. Intellectual thought and lessons learned push you back into a personal growth mindset.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quote for the week

"Success means having the courage , the determination and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be". - George Sheehan

5 Ways to Guarantee Failure

Sit Still

The other day I was scanning though my TV channels and I found this exercise channel. I never knew it was part of my ultimate platinum cable package. What a waste. This channel features a variety of on-demand workout routines to follow along with. If I wanted to work out I’m sure I could find a freaking gym around my apartment. Why doesn’t the cable company run on demand programs that someone would actually want to watch? Why not a MacGyver on demand? How about Miami Vice on demand, or even Baywatch on demand. Now that would be awesome TV. Not some stupid show with some guy or some chick telling me to keep moving.

Those shows are for suckers who think they have to be super thin to be cool. Give me a break. I know I am cool and I look good. And shopping is easy for me. Unlike people with a weight problem I have no problem finding 46” waist paints at my local big and tall store. I know when the chicks look at me they see more of a man to love. And one of the days some lucky lady is going to get the chance to find that out.

Make Excuses

Did you ever notice that the people talking about being success and “planning” for success are the ones with the all the money. They have this huge staff of people to make sure they look good on camera. They have no idea what us “normal” folks have to deal with. We do not have the luxury of a staff; we do not have people all around us to do our work. We have to deal with real life.

I could be just as successful, probably more, if I had their time and their money. But I don’t. I have a real job and real bills. I don’t have time. When I get home I’m tired. I have enough energy to throw some food into the microwave and then sit down with a couple of brews and relax in front of the tube. If I had a personal chef my life would be different. If I had a hot girlfriend my life would be different. I not complaining you know. I have a great life. Who else can say they have the high score on every video game they play online. I kick ass my friends, I kick ass.

Think Today

The other day my mom told me I should be thinking more about my future. With everything I have to deal with in my life today I don’t have the time for the future. Besides, if I could control the future I would win the lottery. I deserve a few million bucks. I would go out and pick myself up a red Corvette convertible, or maybe a Ferrari, or maybe a Lamborghini. Hell I’ll just get all three. And wait until you see the house I get. It’ll be off the hook.

I got enough things to deal with today. My landlord just raised the rent again. Cigarette, gas and beer prices keep going up. The big wig company fat cats just keep making more and more profits while sticking to us little guys. It’s just ridiculous. Think about the future my ass. I got enough to deal with in the present thank you very much.

Ignore Development

I can’t believe all the suckers around that think they need more school, need someone to teach them new skills. If you want to learn something just pick up a wrench and learn how. That’s what I did and I’m doing fine. I pay my bills and I have enough cash to have a good time.
Why waste all that time in class learning from some teacher-nerd that never could get a real job. Pick your skills up in real life. That’s where the real learning is. If you want to learn about getting what you want out of life then you should be watching Survivor or The Apprentice. Now that’s the real life education you need.

Fly Solo

I can’t believe how many people think that they need to know so many other people. It’s like that game “Seven steps to Bacon” or something like that. It’s about knowing someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. I know enough people already. They call it networking. My networking circle is just fine. I have a great relationship with HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Fox and the FX channel. On top of that I have my regular Friday night game with my poker buddies.

I don’t need anybody’s help. I found all my jobs by myself. I saw the help wanted signs in the window and I went in and got the job. I got my first job flipping burgers by myself, I got the job at the car wash by myself, I got the job loading freight by myself, and I got my job at the garage by myself. There is nobody looking out for me the way I do.

(Obviously this was written a bit tongue in cheek. No one is trying to fail, but some people sure make it hard for success to find a way past the walls they put up in life. Hope you got a little chuckle.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Positive Mental Attitude is not Enough

You are likely familiar with the concept of a PMA; if you have a positive mental attitude you can achieve your dreams. This certainly sounds nice but I am sorry to tell you that it just does not work.

I can have the most positive and upbeat mental attitude, be always thinking forward and always seeing the best in every situation and everyone around me, but none of that will move me any closer to my goals.

Why you ask. The answer is because attitude does not equal movement. Action is required to move forward. Without action change is impossible. What you need is PMA coupled with POA.

Purposeful – A clearly defined plan to get from point A to point B
Ongoing – Success is a journey and not a onetime event
Action – Physical and mental activity

Focused, continual, repetitive actions over a period of time will move you forward. Success in any area of your life requires focus and sustained effort. I can’t spend eight hours in the gym and then declare myself physically fit. I can’t send my wife one hundred roses and then declare that we have a solid marriage. It’s not the singular events that make the difference; it is the repetitive connected actions over time that moves the needle.

I am a firm believer in the importance of a Positive Mental Attitude. But I know from experience that until you get off your behind and start taking Purposeful Ongoing Action you’ll find yourself in the same spot tomorrow that you are in today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quote for the Week

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” - Michelangelo

Release Your Inner Beast

Each of us is born with a beast inside. This beast will try anything and is not afraid of failure. This beast includes unique gifts and interest that are woven in to our DNA.

The problem is that as we start to grow up we let fear take control. Fear starts asking questions like what if I fail? What if I look foolish? What if no one cares? And fear starts telling you that you do not have the right skill, you do not have anything unique to contribute, or that you really have nothing to contribute. Fear holds your inner beast in a cage.

Think about a very young boy. Give him crayons and he starts to draw, give him blocks and he starts to build, set him in front of a piano and he starts playing. Okay, maybe it’s scribbling, stacking and key banging, but the point is that fear of failure has not caged his beast. He is open to explore and try new things. If someone set you in front of a canvas with paints or at a piano today most likely you would say “but I don’t know how to paint” or “but I can’t play the piano”. Maybe you can’t, but maybe you can. That funny little thing called practice works wonders, but only after you get over fear of failure.

I paint. I took art classes when I was young and then I stopped. For years (decades) I did not draw or paint. I forgot how much I enjoyed that creative release. I had to learn to let go of the fear of a blank canvas and release my creative beast. Are my paintings the quality of a Picasso, Rembrandt, or Warhol? No they are not. They are the quality of Kamm, and that is all that matters to me.

The beast is more than just the artistic side of you. It is also the practical, goal minded side that yearns for success. Your beast wants to make things happen. Your beast wants to be challenged and to grow and improve. Maybe there is a project at the office that you want to take on, maybe there is a need that you see but is not a formal project yet. Put together your ideas (the what, they why, and the how) and approach your boss. You may be pleasantly surprised how receptive your boss can be when you do your homework and present a fully thought out plan. I’ll give you 10 to 1odds that this is what he/she is waiting for.

Unleashing the beast is moving down the road to fulfilling your potential. Successful people let their beast roam free. The share their passion with the world around them and they stop letting fear limit what they think they can, and what they ultimately do, accomplish.

Your beast is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. Your beast is the true you, your authentic self, in all your glory. It has been inside your entire life, just waiting for you to face any fear you have and unlock the cage anyway. Let your beast out. Share the awesomeness that is you with the world. That is your purpose in life. To bring to the world all that you are.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Quote for the Week.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world” - Unknown