Resistance is Futile

October 4, 2018

PizzaYou have always dreamed of opening a pizza parlor. You drive by the perfect vacant building for your business and see a “For Lease” sign in the window. This is it! Time to make your dream come true. You create a vision board with photos of pizzas, of people laughing and enjoying life with a slice in one hand and a brew in the other. You research everything you can about opening a small business in this industry. You do some self- analysis. Do you have the knowledge and skills necessary to open and run a successful pizza parlor? If not, you read books, take a class or two at the local community college, perhaps even go to work in a pizza joint to learn the trade from the ground up. You are so ready and so confident that you quit your high-paying job in the securities industry and begin taking actions to make your dream happen.

Because you’ll need a use permit from the city, you prepare a detailed, thoughtful presentation for the planning commission meeting. To your dismay, the commission turns you down, based primarily on the testimony of several local merchants who show up to protest that pizza parlors promote juvenile delinquency with their video games and loud music, not to mention the health issues created by all that cheese, pepperoni, sausage and lard. The merchants want something more sophisticated in the location like another dress store—which would be #31 in the downtown area.

Just like that. Rejected after one meeting. Do you respond with resistance or acceptance?

Resistance Response: The contrast between the actual result—no pizza parlor—and your idea of an idyllic unfolding of your lifelong dream hits you like a ton of mozzarella. Your ego rails at this horrible injustice. You go home and tell your wife how you’ve been treated. She leaves you. Well, hey, you did leave a good job and failed to deliver on the promised replacement. You decide to have a bottle of rum for lunch, write a scathing editorial in the local paper about “scumbags” on the planning commission and get sued by the city. To prove the merchants wrong, after hurling dog-poop bombs onto all their storefronts, you open a pizza place in a ratty, rundown part of town where no use permit is required. You fill it with video games and a loud jukebox. The cops arrest you for promoting gang violence; you receive a 10- year sentence that gets extended to 15 because they find your fingerprints on the bags that held the dog poop.

Acceptance Response: You accept the conclusion of the planning commission, understanding that they were only responding to the wishes of many dissenting merchants. You hire a land use attorney and begin planning for your appeal to the city council. In the meantime, you schedule meetings with several of the merchants who spoke against your plan. You share with them research as to the positive community effects of pizza parlors, invite them to a taste testing, giving them a role in the selection of your menu and make concessions about the number and types of video games you’ll provide and the style and volume of the music. No gangster rap allowed. You obtain a permit and open shop.

When you accept an outcome, you are merely acknowledging how life works.


Who is Steering Your Boat

October 4, 2018

Steering BoatGoogle personal responsibility and you will find a variety of definitions, most of which appear to be synonymous with blame

“You have to take responsibility for your mess!” Assigning responsibility, however, is not the same as blame. Blame is a judgment after the fact, a witch hunt, the pointing of fingers. Taking responsibility is a way of approaching life. Whether or not you are taking responsibility for your experiences during this lifetime can be determined by answering one simple question: Who is steering my boat?

Victims might say that the current location and condition of their boat is the result of a strong wind, the changing tides, or perhaps being sideswiped by someone else’s boat. They believe their experiences are the result of external causes—people and circumstances beyond their control.

Self-directed people would acknowledge the wind, the tide and the errant boat, but attribute the location and condition of the boat to how they chose to turn the wheel, rig the sails, and respond to threats like swerving to avoid an imminent collision. They know that their experience is based on their response to what they observe in the world—not the object of their observation.

By accepting responsibility for your life up to now, you empower yourself to  mold  your life going forward.


The Necessity and Joy of FEAR

July 23, 2018

Fear Here’s some good news: You don’t have to conquer, avoid, eliminate or defeat fear! Just learn when and how to use it to enhance and expand your quality of life.

Fear is not a real thing; it doesn’t exist in nature. It is you. It is your way of protecting yourself when you’ve decided you need protection. No more than that!

Fear is the signpost we plant to block our entry to any place we believe we cannot or should not go: STOP! DANGER!! Keep out! Attack Cat! Trespassers shall be arrested, reported, towed, shot, fined and eaten! Big cat! Fear alerts us whenever we’re about to travel from the known to the unknown. It is a by-product of our beliefs—an enforcement tool we utilize whenever our subconscious finds a conflict between what we believe and what we encounter in the “real world.” It is the wall we construct that blocks access to any place, person or situation that is outside of our self-constructed, limiting comfort zone.

There is no such phenomenon in the universe except within our imaginations. So, stop thinking of fear as a big, dark monster lurking around every corner.

If I believe that I am a great swimmer, will I feel fear at the prospect of getting into a friend’s backyard pool? Of course not. But if I firmly believe that I cannot swim, that I will sink like a rock in any water deeper than 5’8” (my height), you can bet I am going to conjure up a fear response to keep my body on dry land. My fear of swimming protects and perpetuates the belief that I cannot swim—a belief I was given by my dad who told my brother and me that the men in our family have some rare “specific gravity” that causes us to sink rather than float. I think that means we’re dense. That was, of course, crap—my dad’s way of rationalizing his fear of water. But, I was a kid, he was my dad—so I don’t swim.

Some fears keep you safe, like the fear of growling dogs. Others motivate you, like fear of poverty. These fear markers keep you moving safely along your life path. Some fears, however, restrict life unnecessarily. They don’t facilitate progress as much as they impede. While my fear of water protects my old belief that I can’t swim, that belief is based on bad information. This fear-block is preventing me from enjoying the water—swimming, snorkeling, scuba, time with friends. If I modify the belief that I can’t swim, create and absorb affirmations that I am a great swimmer, perhaps take some lessons, I can retire that fear-response.

The planet doesn’t care whether you spend your life in fear, worry, and debt, or in harmony, love and prosperity. In the end, it will take back your molecules and energy whether you had a happy, loving life or one of suffering. Taking your licks doesn’t even buy you an extra hour on the planet. No points for martyrdom. May as well be happy and relatively free of fear. It is your choice!

If you think you would prefer peace and joy over suffering in fear, when will you make that choice? When will your actions reflect that choice? What are you waiting for?

To learn more about controlling fear (rather than the other way around), check out Chapter 3 in my new book, Ignite Your Dormant SuperPowers, available soon in bookstores and on Amazon.com.


How Long Does it Take to Change a Habit?

June 12, 2018

I’ve learned from experience that a lot of what I was told by seminar leaders turned out to be. . . well, wrong. I realized that some (though not all) trainers oversimplify a process so that it is more marketable. For instance, I had read/heard that I could change any habit in 21 days or 30 days, depending on the trainer—sound familiar? If you have heard these or any other “magic” time frames, they are about as useful as a steering wheel on a dirt bike. In fact, they are worse than that. If you expect to experience a change in behavior in 21 days and nothing happens, it can be very disappointing – make you wonder what you did wrong – lead to guilt and disillusionment.

The truth, in my experience, is that a habit or belief of any kind can be changed in an instant, a week, month, year or perhaps never. The time it takes to alter a habit depends on many factors: your desire to change, your belief in your ability to change, how many and how strong the conflicting old beliefs, and your commitment to diligently work the transformation process, just to list a few. In general, I recommend a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to personal growth trainers—including me. If you are drawn to a philosophy or program, experiment with it, test it out. If it works, great. If not, eject and keep searching. No program fits all, but there is always a way if you know what you want and expect to find it.


Go To The Window!

May 31, 2018

Window scream

Self-Examination: Are you willing to look within and ask whether you are doomed to lead an ordinary, mediocre life, or meant for something better, something special? Do you want to change? Are you willing to change?

I’ve been to a few AA and Al-Anon meetings: they are wonderful organizations where attendees describe “hitting bottom” as a primary catalyst for their recovery. The basic idea is that, for things to get better, they must first get worse. Only then can they admit they have a problem and seek help.

We need not fall to rise, but it does seem to strengthen the resolve to change. Whether you’ve hit bottom or not, you must at least get pissed off enough with your current state that you will do almost anything to change.

Hitting bottom doesn’t have to come in the form of your 4th DUI or your spouse walking out on you with the UPS delivery person. Your bottom might be when you realize that your favorite chair is the one you constructed out of old pizza boxes and duct tape, or perhaps when you notice that you have dedicated an entire drawer in your kitchen to little packs of parmesan and red peppers. It doesn’t matter what your bottom looks like (unless you’re into yoga) if it creates a reaction as we saw in the 1976 Oscar-winning film, Network:

“I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot: I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’ So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND AM NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

Ah, go ahead, do it. You know you want to; who cares what the neighbors think. They’d like to do it too. Maybe you’ll start a trend in the hood. Go to the window!


Mediocrity is Like Gravity

May 22, 2018

LIfe is GoodThe world is overrun with people living mediocre lives, just getting by (or not), and mediocrity is like gravity – it attempts to pull down everyone it encounters. Just listen to some of the banter between check-out clerks and customers at your local grocery store.

Clerk: “How you doing?”

Customer: “You know, different day, same shit,” or “Fine, but it’s still morning, give it time,” or simply, “Don’t ask.”

Since my awareness became focused on these shared-misery conversations, I’ve made a habit of answering the clerk’s query with something like, “Just great. How are you?” I’ll usually get a slightly confused, non-committal response like, “fine.” Sometimes nothing, like my excited, positive response does not even register it is so unexpected – now that’s sad. Occasionally, though, the clerk will look up and beam, “You know, I’m pretty great myself.” Good to note that:

Excited, positive attitudes are just as contagious as grumpy ones.

I now challenge myself to positively affect at least one person each day. It is a precious gift to them, to me, is easy to do and feels great! Make a commitment make at least one stranger smile today: you can thank me later.


All Things are Created Twice

May 12, 2017

“All things are created twice,” is a quote by Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

cute-twin

The first creation is what Stephen Covey calls the vision we form of the thing we wish to create. The second creation is the physical manifestation of that vision. The second creation is a matter of choosing the behaviors, the actions that will lead to the manifestation of your vision. The true creation is the forming of your vision. This can be tricky. If we do not take responsibility and consciously create our first creation, we empower others to do it for us – parents, friends, teachers, or societal influences such as magazines, movies or T.V. commercials.

To truly fulfill your personal wants and needs, and to assure that your goals are congruent with your fundamental (core) values, it is critical that your vision is selected by you. History is filled with individuals who successfully manifested someone else’s dream at the expense of their personal values. Success in this circumstance is hollow, leading all too often to some form of self-destruction – drugs, alcohol or other risky behaviors – even suicide.

According to Covey, “Personal Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success. Personal Leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” To assure that your ladder is in the right place, maintain an awareness of your fundamental values and make them the criteria by which you create your vision. That achieved, you can manage your second creation, choosing behaviors and actions that are congruent with your vision.