Thursday, October 31, 2019

This Week's Quote and Commentary

“Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.” – William James

So true, yet so avoidable.

Procrastination zips you of energy. You use up your energy thinking about the task, thinking about how hard the task will be, thinking about how much you do not want to do the task, thinking about everything else you would rather be doing than the task.

Get it. You are actually wasting more time and energy NOT getting the task accomplished than you would if you just buckled down and got the job done.

This quote reminds me of another that (and I am paraphrasing here) if you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning and nothing worse can happen the rest of the day. Point being, get the bad thing out of the way and your day can only improve from there.

Procrastination is a silent and insidious disease. You put something off and nothing horrible happens. SO, you put something else off and nothing horrible happens. It seems to you that it’s not a big deal. BUT – the more you put things off, the more the problems start to build.
You don’t see the problems at first but they are coming. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But trust me, sooner or later you will have to deal with a much larger problem than you realize.

I had a boss that would bring me a task to do. I would tell him “let me get right on that”. He would almost always reply with “you don’t have to do it now.” The problem was that I already had a full plate for the day, week, etc. My standard response was always “If I don’t jump on it now, it may never get finished.”

I would jump on that task right away and get it done. That way, I was not thinking about, or worrying about, getting something done that my boss directly asked me to do. Win-Win for me. I looked good for making his request a priority, and I did not have the stress of worrying about it throughout the day or days to come.

If you have a list of things to do (and who doesn’t), I encourage you to jump in with both feet and challenge yourself to see how quickly you can start crossing things off the list. I promise you that you will find that each task you have been avoiding will actually take you less time than you think.

And when that list is done, you can truly relax without stressing over having this or that to do.

You can assassinate the assassin, and get some energy back in the process.   

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Choosing Healthy Relationships

Each and every day you have choices to make. What to eat for breakfast, what lane to choose driving the highway, what tasks to do first at the office, where to stop on the way home, etc., etc. The list can go on and on infinitum. But the only choice I want to focus on today is choosing to have healthy relationships.

It is always your choice to make. How are you going to interact with the people in your life? Your friends, your lover or spouse, and your co-workers to name a few. This is an everyday decision and a course of action not to be taken lightly or just left to chance.

Are you happy with the quality of relationships you are having? If not, it’s probably time to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and zero in on the attitude and energy level you are bringing to the relationship. The energy and attitudes you put out oftentimes are reflected right back at you. If you are negative, the people around you are going to be negative back. If you are angry or nasty, most likely you will get the same directly back at you.

Conversely, if you are happy and loving you will likely receive the same.  

Positive attracts positive.

Make it a daily habit to stop and consciously think about where you are emotionally as well as what type of relationship you want to have with whomever you are about to be with (could be a business meeting or home with the family for the evening). Take a few deep breaths to relax and center your thoughts. Remind yourself that your goal is to nurture and build healthy relationships throughout your life. Put a smile on your face and walk thru the 
door. You’ll feel better and your relationships will be better.

When you pull into the garage after a long hard day at work, sit for a moment in your car. Remind yourself that you are home and that your loved ones are the most important people in your life (I trust I am correct on that one). Commit to focusing on nurturing the relationships before you walk through the door. The few seconds or minutes that you take can change your evening and your life.

Always choose healthy relationships. And by doing so, you are making your world and the world of those around you better. Be the change. Make the world a better place. It all happens one interaction at a time.

Monday, October 28, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

If you want to arrange it, this world you an change it. - Paul O'Neill

Another favorite of mine. It is part of the lyrics from a song called Old City Bar by Trans Siberian Orchestra. The photo is my left forearm. I have it in plain site to remind me each and every day how I want to live my life.

We all have the power to change the world around us each and every day.

Simple acts of kindness make a difference and a change. Holding open the door for a stranger coming or going from a store or paying the difference for someone who is a bit short on cash at a fast food restaurant counter. Each of these brightens the receiver's day but also brightens yours.

Volunteering at your local school, church or synagogue. Joining a local civic organization. Running for public office. Even mowing the lawn or blowing snow for an elderly neighbor on your street.

Changing the world does not mean some grand gesture or huge financial endeavor. I am not suggesting you have change the world at large (although I am not talking you out of it either). I am talking specifically about your part of the world. The world that is right outside your door and in the city where you live.

Small miracles happen when you do for others; when you are focused and looking for ways to make a difference. Your heart beats a little stronger and those you have touched feel it as well. When you are focused on making a difference your problems just do not seem as big and your energy level improves. Helping others feeds the soul. Your soul and their soul.

Imagine just how wonderful the world could be if everyone would take this thought to heart. We can only control how we act and interact. But if each of us works to make a difference in the world each day, over time others will follow. Imagine what that may lead to....

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

True success only comes after you break this habit

Successful people share a common trait; they are positive and forward looking. It is generally not intelligence, passion or focus that holds people back. The number one thing that holds most people back, and the number one habit you need to break, is negativity.

Negative thoughts can be focused in many areas: negativity about yourself, negativity about others and negativity about the world around you.

You can’t be negative about your abilities and be beating yourself up mentally if you desire to become successful in any area of your life. That self-doubt and those negative conversations have to come to an end. You have developed a bad habit that you must, and can, stop.

Additionally, you cannot be negative about people in your life and the world around you (family, friends, co-worker, neighbors, work, the shopping mall, etc.). Whether you realize it or not, those negative thoughts are affecting your actions and the decisions you make. They cloud your judgement and hold you back from stepping boldly forward, trying new things and from asking others for assistance. The game of life, and especially a successful life, is not a solo endeavor. You need the input and help from others in order to reach the heights you are capable (Don’t believe me? – There is that negative self-talk again…. Sneaky bad habit isn’t it?)

You mind needs food as much as your body does. Healthy, nutritious food. To break the negativity habit you have developed over time you need to consciously start feeding positive thoughts, ideas and energy into your mind. TED talks, inspirational books and videos, romantic novels, seeing a therapist- whatever you can do to feed your conscious and subconscious mind a healthier and more positive diet will make a difference.

Want another difference maker (Stay with me on this one). Stop binge watching the news (24/7 news channels) and eliminate Twitter/Facebook, etc., for at least 30 days. I know, I know, I sound like a crazy man. But if you really stop and think about it, these information sources primarily plant seeds of negativity.  Yes, there are feel good posts and stories but overall social media and mass media news are designed to get an emotional reaction. Unfortunately the negative gets more attention than the positive.  You want to replace your “negative diet” with a more positive and inspirational diet.

You can break the negativity habit. You just have to admit that you can be negative at times (can’t we all), but make it a goal to catch yourself when you start to think or speak negatively and stop/think. If you really try, you can find something positive in almost any situation. And by taking control of your own thoughts and internal dialogue you have already started the process of retraining you mind and breaking the negativity habit.

It will not happen overnight. But it will happen.  You have the mental fortitude to become a more positive thinker, a more positive person and to see just how much the world has to offer to you and to your future.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

In other words: preparation, preparation, preparation. Too many people want to “get busy” or “get to work” when they have an idea in their head, or a task to accomplish.

Sometimes we jump in because we are excited. Sometimes we jump in because we just want to get it over with. Sometimes we jump in because we really don’t know what to do and think we will figure it out once we get busy.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Without proper consideration and planning you will often times waste both your time and your energy. You might even waste your hard earned money (buying supplies for instance that you end up not even needing).

Take the time to sit, think and plan. Think the task through as much as you can. When you have put together a plan, stop and ask yourself if there might be a better way. When you review your plan you might just realize that you overlooked a vital part or step, or that there is a more efficient way to accomplish your goal.

This applies as much to physical tasks, such as building a shed in your backyard, as it does to mental tasks, such as planning an investment portfolio to build your nest egg for retirement.  

Spend the hours sharpening your axe and then, and only then, go ahead and chop down that try. I promise you the task will be both faster and easier if you do.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Have you thought about your Legacy?

What you do for or a living, or, if you are a student, what you are studying is not as important as how you go about it and just what you are accomplishing on a daily basis.

At first glance, that may seem like a mouthful of a sentence but it really is quite simple. The quality of your work makes a statement to the world each and every day. The quality of your work, along with your focus and dedication, is your daily legacy.

Your work represents your character and your commitment to excellence. This is a commitment both to yourself and the world around you.

Think of this a different way. If you died tonight and will be remembered for both how you acted and what you accomplished today, would you be proud of your legacy?

None of us know how long we have on this planet. We all hope to live a long life and grow older with our loved ones, but we really do not know if this will happen. We have to live each day to its fullest and put the best of ourselves into each and every day. That is the only way to ensure when we do reach the end of our lives (no matter when that is) we can look back and know we did our best.

I can think of no valid reason to hold back, to not give 100%, to not attempt new challenges and experiences. Fear is not a valid excuse, and fear is what holds you back. Fear of the unknown, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure. But failure is often times the best teacher. It may not feel great in the moment but the best lessons, the most ingrained lessons, come from trying something new and falling on our face.

It is never the falling flat that should embarrass you. It is only if you do not get up and start again that you should be embarrassed. If anything, you should be proud that you had the guts to challenge yourself and try when most people would shy away.

Don’t be most people. Always be the best version of you. See yourself as strong, brave and willing to push out of your comfort zone in order to try something new and to grow. Now that is a life worth living and a life that will leave behind an inspiring legacy for others.

You are stronger than you know and more resilient than you realize. Embrace life and all it has to offer you. Leave behind a legacy that leaves no doubt you put it all out there and pushed yourself to grow and give back to the world more than you even realized you could. What you accomplish each and every day is your personal signature to the world. Make that signature big and bold!   

Thursday, October 10, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

It’s not what happens around us that determines where we end up, it’s what we do and how we respond that makes that determination.”

This quote is all about personal responsibility. YOU are responsible for how your life turns out. Let me repeat that. YOU are responsible for how your life turns out. Events will happen that you cannot control, but YOU can control your reactions to those events.

I generally don’t talk about myself in this blog but I do believe some of my experiences are relevant to this post.

I have been let go from a job. 

Three times in fact. 

The first time was very scary. I was newly married and had a one year old son. How was I going to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table? Would it help to blame the company that decided to make changes? Of course not. The only thing to do was make some phone calls (network) to find a new opportunity. Was it a little embarrassing to call friends and business associates to tell them I was out of work? IT was, but that didn’t matter. I had a family and myself to support. 

The second time was a little unnerving, but not nearly as scary (sort of a been there, done that sort of thing). I had been in this position before and it had all worked out. I went through the same drill as before and within 6 weeks I had found a new position with a great company and great people. The next 20 years were some of the most productive years of my life. 

Number three was frustrating just because of what was happening in my personal life. My wife was undergoing chemotherapy for appendix cancer that ultimately took her life. Talk about feeling like the universe was screwing with me. Long story short (way too long of a story for a blog post) I find myself again gainfully employed and happily married to a wonderful woman.

Why share all this? To help make my point – life will throw you curve balls but it is how you handle those curves that determine where you end up. I always say that my story is the proverbial when one door closes another opens. 

Did I have some bad days? You bet I did. We all do. But you cannot let those bad days take over. You have to find a way to take back control. 
You may find that you need some help (a doctor, a therapist, some medication, a support group). You have to find what works best for you at that moment. My wife loves the saying “Suck it up, buttercup”. She uses it more as a joke but it is both blunt and true. It all comes back to ultimately taking responsibility for your life and how you deal with those curve balls.

You have more resources inside you than you even realize. When push comes to shove you are stronger than you know. Yes, there will be tough times and sad days. But you cannot let them overwhelm you or become the narrative of your life. Even if you can’t see it today, this world has so much to offer you, and YOU have so much to give to the world.

Take responsibility and take action when those inevitable curve balls come your way. You will find yourself on the other side of the challenge a stronger, wiser and happier person than you were before the curve ball came your way. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Taking Flight to Success

Achieving success in any area of your life is much like taking a flight. You start from a standstill with a destination in mind and finish moving having built up speed and momentum.

Initially you are at the gate sitting still. You have done your planning and are ready to get moving.

Much like starting to execute a plan for success, your flight starts with a little backward motion as you get pushed back from the gate. It takes the help of many people to get you started on the trip. You are perhaps a little unsure of where you are going, but your ground crew (family, friends, co-workers) help to guide you in the right direction.

After push back it is time to taxi to the runway. This can be a frustrating time. You are anxious to get going but often times you end up following a meandering path. You know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line but that line might run you off track. Although you cannot see it, often times the circuitous path is actually the best.

When your plane arrives at the start of the runway there is often a pause. This allows the pilot one last systems check and to make sure the path ahead is clear. The same applies for your success journey. A pause to make sure your direction and intention are aligned with your goals will help ensure you will arrive on target.

After a pause, the plane starts rolling forward, picks up speed and lifts off the ground and into the air. In your success journey you will also find yourself picking up speed and moving at a faster and faster rate as you learn more, gain experience and become more effective and efficient.

During any flight the combined forces from the wind and turbulence force pilots to make corrections and adjustments. You will find yourself doing the same. There are always a variety of factors that will impact your trajectory. You can encounter forces from all directions that are trying to slow you down or push you off course. Your job is to stay focused and continue to keep moving forward.

Finally the plane lands at its destination, only to immediately start preparing for another flight. You will do the same. You will achieve your goal and then set your sights on the next milepost. The more you achieve the more you will want to achieve. You will realize that you are capable of so much more than you thought and after a little celebration (vacation possibly) you will be ready to again put together a plan and head to the gate for another soon to be successful journey.

I wish you a lifetime of success and enjoyable journeys.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

"It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop." – Confucius

Success in each and every one on the five areas of success (Head, Heart, Health, Wealth, World) happens as you grow and move forward. If you stop moving, you stop growing. It really is as simple as that.

Never worry about your speed, just try to take at least one step forward each day in at least one success area. I am sure you have heard the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” While I do not believe that being successful is a race, I do believe that moving forward is true.

Every person is on their own journey through life. And no one really understands exactly what another person is going through. I do not know you, my reader, but I do know two things:

First - no matter what is going on in your life at this moment, you will get through it. You may not even know how yet, or even believe that you can, but you will. You have more strength internally than you realize and you have so much more to offer the world.  

Second – there is no timetable on success. We all have our own definition of what success looks like and we are all moving at our own pace. And that’s the point to make – We are all moving at our own pace. At different times in your life your pace will increase and at other times it will slow down. That is normal. No one maintains a constant pace over a lifetime. We all just need to keep moving. Take it one day at a time or one moment at a time if necessary.

Set small goals. Your first goal of each day may just be to get out of bed. No worries. Give yourself a high five when you get up and then work on the next goal. Small goals over time make habits. Habits become routine. Routines keep you moving. Moving keeps you growing.

Confucius was right on the money. It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. My wish for each and every one of you is that you always remember his words and that you do not stop. Keep moving, keep growing and one day you’ll look back and be both amazed and proud of how far you traveled and how much you accomplished.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Effective Work Time Management

As a list maker myself, I know how productive and satisfying it can be to plow through the day finishing tasks and scratching items off the list. The problem is that you can very often finish the day both mentally and physically exhausted, which is not healthy for you or for the relationships with the loved ones in your life.

Most of us are aware of our energy levels early in the day before being distracted by family or work obligations. Some of us can pop out of bed and hit the ground running. Others need time to wake up and get their motor running for the day. After we are moving we seem to forget to check in with ourselves and our mental energy levels.

Out mental energy levels greatly influence our overall productivity throughout the day, as well as how we feel at the end of the day. Very often the reason we finish the day physically exhausted is that we are mentally exhausted as well. We run our mental batteries down and then the brain robs energy from our body. We are not aware of the energy transfer as it happens, but boy do we feel it after we get home and sit down. We suddenly realize just how tired we are.

What if there was a way to help avoid that? What if we could have both more mental and physical energy at the end of the day?

There is.

Schedule your time into three parts.

Activity Time:
Schedule activity time in maximum 45 minute segments. Set the timer on your phone and focus on working on a specific task. Don’t be trying to multitask – studies have shown that although we believe we get more done when we multitask the reality is that the actual amount and quality of the work performed is lower than if we worked on each item separately.  If the task is going to take longer than 45 minutes – break it up. You need to build in mental breaks.

Recovery Time:
After 45 minutes your brain needs a break. Take 5-10 minutes to shift focus. Get a cup of coffee or a bottle of water from the break room. Chat with a colleague in person or on the phone.  Check email or Facebook (just don’t get so absorbed that time ticks by before you realize). Anything to shift your focus and mind from the previous task. Then after 5-10 minutes, resume or start working on a new task. I call this approach “chunking”. I chunk my way through the day so that I can actually get more accomplished, but am not so mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the work day.

As you cycle through activity/recovery you are letting your mind naturally relax and recharge. (And speaking of recharge – try not to lunch at your desk. You are not really mentally disengaging and likely continuing to drain your mental batteries.)

Thinking Time:
This is quite often the toughest block to schedule for all of us. Try to schedule some time each day to just let yourself think. Having time to think about issues and possible solutions or ideas and ways to implement them may sound like a luxury you don’t have but I can assure you it is time well spent. If you are just go-go-go at work and home all day you will end up in a mental rut, never innovating or coming up with “outside the box” ideas. Free thought is the only way that happens. Try going for a walk. I used to walk around the warehouse a few times just to get both the blood and thoughts flowing.

We all have 24 hours in our day. No more and no less. Successful people schedule and use their time wisely. They work in spurts to maximize productivity and then allow themselves time to recover before tackling the next task.