Archive for June 2011
Last week I had a chat with my girlfriend Ronda about some changes to my business.
Like many of us, Ronda leads a busy life and can get caught up in the daily buzz, buzz, buzz. But in this instance, she showed me two very important lessons about important decisions.
I have a tendency to get worked up about an issue, formulate some alternatives in my head, and then ponder them for awhile. But once I make a decision, I stop considering alternatives and I push on towards my chosen path.
Well, last week I took an important decision to my local Mastermind Group. I wanted some feedback and advice. Afterward, Ronda asked me how things went. I started to tell her and she interrupted me: “Actually, let’s talk about that when we’re not in the middle of something else.”
I was a little taken aback. After all, I was pretty excited about the topic, the feedback, and what I think I need to do with my business. Would we really come back to this? After all, I would like to hear her advice.
A few hours later (I think over dinner. Maybe over drinks.), Ronda picked up where we left off. “Okay. So tell me about your big discuss with the Mastermind Group.” I then proceeded to lay out my thinking over the last month, what I brought to the group, their feedback, and where I think I need to go next.
But I was keenly aware of what Ronda had done. First, she took my needs very seriously. She didn’t let me jump into a frenzied report when she wasn’t in a position to absorb the information and listen to me attentively. While it felt like being put off, it was really a respectful expression of her desire to give meaningful feedback. If she let me jabber on when she wasn’t able to focus, then she couldn’t possibly give me as much focus and attention as she would like.
Second, whether she realized it or not, Ronda had given me time to organize my thoughts and present them in some kind of meaningful order. Allowing me time to relax a bit and organize my thoughts allowed me to present my ideas with a little more perspective and precision than I would have been able to provide immediately after the group adjourned.
And then something else happened.
I proposed my rough idea of where I wanted to go with my company, and what the first few steps looked like. Ronda asked a few questions, gave some opinions, but didn’t endorse a course of action. A few days later, in a casual conversation, she said something to the effect of “You were so excited, I didn’t want to encourage you until you calmed down and had time to think about it.”
Ronda realized something I didn’t: When I get excited, I have a tendency to start moving in that direction. I really need to follow my own advice and slow down. After all, when we’re excited about something, we tend to overlook or rationalize the downside. We haven’t looked at the finances. We haven’t considered “what else” can come into play. We haven’t considered the down side of the decisions we are about to make.
It’s funny. When we jump on a new idea, we have this tendency to get excited and want to rush toward it. But just when we’re most excited is the moment we most need to slow down and take our time.
A true friend won’t give you advice for a day or two. After you’ve had time to Chill Out, Cool Down, and consider the big picture.
Ronda gave me this one:
During a recent password audit, it was found that a student was using the following password:
When asked why such a big password, she said, “It had to be at least 8 characters long.”
Where do you get inspiration? I’m a big believer that you find inspiration anywhere you happen to be looking when you start looking for inspiration. You just need one little element: quiet time.
That is, time all by you and yourself. No CDs, no headphones, no radio, no nothing. Just you.
Here’s an example.
Not too long ago I was checking my email early in the morning while putting on my walking shoes. A friend wrote me from Canada about a problem he was having with his business. He asked me to post my thoughts on my Small Biz Thoughts blog.
Then I went for a walk.
I don’t carry a pencil and paper. But I also don’t carry an MP3 player, CD player, or cell phone. I just have my thoughts.
So I walked.
And when I got back to my house, I sat down and wrote a whole blog post on the requested topic.
Time and again, we find that when we stop working on a problem and just “turn our brains off,” the solution comes to us. This is a well-known human trait: Stop thinking about a problem and let your unconscious mind do it’s job.
The piece that seems to be missing for some people is that You can stop thinking whenever you want to. You can schedule daily time to sit quietly for 15 minutes. Or take a jog. Or ride a bike. Or paint, or knit, or whittle.
The key to quieting your mind is that you need to either turn off all distractions or block them out.
Our minds and our lives are filled with busy-ness. Life will rarely slow down or stop unless you slow it down or stop it. Don’t wait for that to happen: make it happen.
Schedule some time to just live quietly with your thoughts each day: You’ll be amazed at what you come up with!
A newsboy was standing on the corner with a stack of papers, yelling, “Read all about it; Fifty people swindled! Fifty people swindled!”
I was curious, so I bought a paper, and said, “Hey kid, this is an old paper, where’s the story about the big swindle?”
The newsboy ignored me and went on yelling, “Read all about it; Fifty-one people swindled!”
Recently I found myself in two very different settings that resulted in similar, uncomfortable results. Both were business networking and “master mind” settings of truly amazing people.
In each setting the following scenario played out:
- People were given the opportunity to ask a room full of experts to help them with their businesses. Name any problem with your challenge and we’ll all brainstorm about how to help you.
- More than one person in this situation simply falls into a daze. “I’m not sure what to ask for. I wish people really understood the value of what I bring.” This was then followed by a stammering, flat sales pitch about their business.
- Some people are very excited to have the opportunity for feedback, but are simply lost about what they want.
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It’s true in business and in your personal life: You can’t GET what you want until you can ASK for what you want. And you can’t ASK for what you want until you KNOW what you want.
Sometimes when we are overwhelmed and feeling “lost,” it can simply be a reflection of what’s going on at a deeper level. We know we can get up every day and do what we did yesterday. But that just continues the surface-level activities. It may not reflect the important decisions and beliefs that are changing at a deeper level.
When your day-to-day activities no longer align with your underlying values and vision, you begin to feel that some thing’s not right. But you can’t describe it, explain it, or even ask for help. You can’t ask for help because you haven’t figured out what’s wrong and what you want to do differently.
Think about it like the earth’s crust. Every day it’s pretty much like yesterday. But underneath the earth’s mantle there’s all kinds of activity. It changes all the time. And sometimes those changes have to work their way to the top. The earth shifts and groans. A minor earthquake here, a volcano there. The crust changes so that it sits more comfortably on the changing mantle. Then things settle down for awhile.
Quiet time allows your brain to start making these connections between the “new” changing you under the surface and the conscious you that has to get up tomorrow and live on the surface.
We all change all the time. Period. You can’t NOT change. But you can choose to ignore it and pretend it’s not happening. Or you can spend some time thinking about what’s going on and tuning into the changes that take place constantly.
Once you’re in tune with change, even if it’s unexpected or uncomfortable, you can describe where you are, where you want to be, and then ASK for help to get there.
And change is constant.
So you need to keep thinking about life and goals and happiness. Otherwise, the ground will have shifted again.
Teacher: What does your father do for a living?
Student: He’s a magician.
Teacher: What’s his best trick?
Student: He cuts people in two.
Teacher: Do you have any siblings?
Student: Yes. I have one half-brother and two half-sisters!
I did a Relax Focus Succeed presentation in Portland earlier this year. Afterward, Jonathan sent me an email. Since I get these questions a lot, I thought it would be helpful to post the answer here for everyone. Just remember that meditation is very person and what works for one might not work for another.
I’ve been attending your seminars every time you come to Portland for the last 3 years. EVERYTHING that you have recommended has been a winner. I thank you for that. Since your last visit earlier this month, I have been researching Meditation after you shared your personal testimony. I am ready to commit to giving it a shot for the next 90 days, beginning with your MP3 I downloaded from the website.
Can you please give me a couple of recommendations as to what I need to buy? There is so much info out there about it, I just am not sure where to begin or find the correct resource? If you have some authors or cd’s you can recommend, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks in advance!
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For starting meditation, I think the best thing to use is an audio program that focuses on breathing or relaxation. It’s hard to know which to get before you buy them. Normally, a CD costs somewhere in the $10-$20 range. If you go to Amazon and search for Meditation CD you’ll find lots of them. Some are kind of whacky, but most are just focused on guided meditations, relaxation, stress reduction, or
If you have pain you want to control, the Shinzen Young meditations are excellent.
For more mundane stuff, I really enjoyed Zen at Work by Les Kaye.
Beyond that, a class or a meetup (www.meetup.com). You’re primarily looking for intro Mindfulness or
Relaxation meditation. There are lots of places in the Portland area.
Have fun. Let me know how it goes.
I hope this helps.
“How long have you been working here?” one employee asked to another.
“Ever since the boss threatened to fire me.”