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Showing posts from June, 2009

Rearranging the furniture

The new furniture is finally in the house, although it won't be perfectly in place until the boys take some of the old furniture to their new homes in September (I hope - I really hope!). Fitting it in has required taking apart two of the most over-stuffed rooms in the house (the dining room and the office) and deciding what parts need to be brought back together and what can be used by someone else and what is just junk. The deciding line is not always clear.

I hate throwing away anything that still serves its original purpose. It seems unfair to me that something that still works should end up in land fill. Yet there are lots of things that would work for me but are not quite appropriate to send off to someone else. Like about a million pens and pencils and various craft supplies. There's no reason to keep them and not much reason to throw them away. So I pack and store and hide and defer.

It's easier to do a clean sweep. It's easier to say: I haven't used t…

Are you happy right this minute?

I remember one day at Sandbanks Provincial park when my oldest son was about 4 years old. He followed a monarch butterfly on the beach with complete delight. He sat so still to watch the butterfly, it landed on him for just a moment - a moment that remains in my mind more than 15 years later.

You might expect me to say that happiness is like that butterfly - something we pursue just so that we can wonder at the grace of its movements and the brushing of its wings against our skin. I almost expect it myself.

Instead, I am going to say that I was happy in that moment of watching my son watching the butterfly, all of us joined in a delicately synchronized chain of focus. My son was free to watch the butterfly because I was watching him. I saw the butterfly because I had, for the moment, the eyes of a delighted, delightful child. Perhaps even the butterfly was pleased in some butterfly way by being the focus for the such engaged attention.

Happiness is hard to hold - except in memory, wh…

Hope and Productivity

Hope is not a business word: it's just that no business runs without it. When organizations and individuals lose, misplace or abuse their hopes, they also stop being effective.

Can I prove this through statistics? I probably could, given the resources of a large university business department. In this blog, I can prove it through your own experience: identify a time in your life when you lost hope, and notice how effective you were. Identify a time in the life of an organization of which you were part when that organization lost hope, and notice what happened to its results.

Hope does not guarantee great results; great results nonetheless require deep and sustained hope.

The dictionary definition of hope includes two elements: a desired outcome and a sense that it is possible. Hope is not a substitute for logistics. Hope is the foundation on which we build ideas into results.

Out of your mind?

I'm pulling together the thoughts for a new e-book: Out of Your Mind - Turning Ideas into Results.

It's always interesting to work backwards. Have you ever walked through a house that was for sale or past a car in the parking lot and wondered what kind of person actually picked that colour? Everywhere we go, we see tangible results that started in someone's (often quite strange) mind.

When we say that someone is "out of their mind" we are not usually complimenting them for turning theories into practice. The truth is probably that you have to be a little bit crazy to get great results. How else would you bend the rules on what is possible to create something that only seemed impossible? How else would you usefully confuse the representation in your mind with the thing that you were representing so that what you imagined seemed like part of the world we call "real"?

It's a little bit scary when we pull ourselves out of our minds and experience som…

The way to improve your blog

I read a tweet that started "The way to improve your blog" and my writer's mind completed the phrase with "is by blogging." It's hard to get better at DOING by THINKING. The way to improve a skill is to practice it.

So here I am, blogging instead of reading about blogging. What are you doing by reading this? Are you changing something in your mind that will allow you to move ahead? You came here looking for something: how will you know when you find it?

If you just wanted to do something you would be doing it.

Check in with yourself. I am noticing that my day started at 5 am and ended about 11:30 pm yesterday and I am actually just tired. There's lots clicking in the back of my mind, but it's taking some energy to pull a little piece of that to the screen. The wisdom of my body is saying I need a workout and a rest so that I can be at my best for this weekend's training. Later, I can make some calls and draw energy from the need to listen w…

What can you do in ten minutes?

The answer to the headline question in my experience is sometimes much more than you think you can do and quite often a little less than you plan to do. It's hard to hit your mark for very short time frames.

Why is it worth becoming more intentional about how much fits into ten minutes? Think about all the people who would gladly share ten minutes with you if they were sure it would really be only ten minutes. Then think about all the spaces in your day when you could get something done - if only the "something" would fit into ten minutes.

What each of us can do in ten minutes will depend on our personal way of organizing our thoughts and our communication. The point is not to achieve what someone else could do in ten minutes but to become intentional about achieving our own ten-minute goals, especially when they are communication goals.

Take the ten-minute challenge. At least two or three times today, catch yourself with just ten minutes and use one of those minutes t…

Why food, exercise and sleep are your business

My personal trainer, Dan, is making an heroic effort to understand that his job is not to push me. His job is to help me withstand the negative effects of stress so that I can work better.

Apparently, it's an odd concept.

We experience stress as a physiological phenomena. We know we have too much stress when we hurt or malfunction in some noticeable way. Our heads ache, our backs ache, our stomachs ache. We shake or crunch or grind our teeth. We respond in tangible ways to whatever input is creating metaphorical pressure.

So why is it strange to manage stress by changing physiology?

It's not entirely strange, of course. It's often-preached; apparently, it's practiced less. One reason for this might be that we assume that problems should be solved in the same realm that created them. If we are stressed by work, we assume the way to manage stress is to change our working conditions. If our thoughts create our stress, our thoughts should also allow us to relax enough…

A state of relaxed focus

Full disclosure to readers of this blog: I am well-known for helping other people to relax but I am not especially good at relaxing myself. Since the winter, I have had monthly sessions with my friend Kathleen at Action Hypnosis. She does an amazing job at putting me into a state of completely relaxed focus.

It's true that I cannot hire Kathleen to follow me around to keep me relaxed and it is also true that quite often I need to be able to relax, focus and DO something. These are two of the reasons people quite often use to keep from doing something that will allow them to relax. It's not practical if it is not instantly transferable.

Here are three reasons it is always both practical and transferable:

1) Every state we create in ourselves is the product of choices about intention and attention. Making the choices gives us more flexibility and reliability in making them again in new contexts. (You have to practice if you want to play - even if what you want to "play&qu…

Relaxed and ready

Doesn't it sound easy? Research says that the best state for performing hard things is relaxed and ready.

Wish it were easy.

It's not as hard to relax, even under pressure, as you might imagine. We have pills and substances, distractions and entertainments, deep breathing and exercise. We have ways to relax.

The problem is maintaining relaxation as we get ready. Get ready. Do you hear the tension? It's not a bad tension, just a contracting of the muscles as they prepare for effort, a slight holding of the breath. Get ready. Get set. The anticipation builds. Anticipation feels a lot like pressure. It's contagious.

You might only need a few muscles, probably only need some balance and a clear head. And yet. Get ready. Get set. You're just sitting there reading this and your breathing is starting to change. After all, if the adrenaline doesn't start flowing, how will you know you're really ready? If you're not on the edge, how will you see both s…

Why training can't wait

You're at a crossroads. It's time to make a choice. You need to know now.

You're in the middle of a process when you hit an unexpected bump. You need the skills and resources to manage it now.

You've been thinking about this problem for years. It runs around and around your head and your life. You're stuck. When do you need to get moving again?

The answer should be now.

You need new learning now, now when you are stuck, now when conditions have changed, now when you need to make decisions. You need to think better, and that means you need to take time and apply effort to change the way you think.

If you think that learning will wait until conditions improve, or the weather gets better (or worse) or the economy gets better (or worse), think again. Yes, you will still gain value from training later - and you'll need it because you will have passed up the opportunities you could have been developing now.

There are good reasons to put off making decisions. There…