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Becoming the conscious observer: How thoughts had limited my possibilities

Don’t be so quick to give into your thoughts!

“Sometimes our thoughts do not have our best interest in mind” – Dali Lama

Dalai LamaWhere your attention goes your energy flows.  And where your energy flows, whatever you focus on grows.  Interestingly, only you, through your attention, can give thoughts value and power.

What thoughts are you holding onto?  Whether anchored in the past or focused on the future, “Are they making your life today better or worse?”

Our potential weighs so heavily on what we think – literally our thoughts (those we choose to pay attention to) shape our life.  When we place enough attention to a thought it eventually turns into a belief.  And our beliefs either empower or disempower us.  Essentially, what you think about and tell yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Seems simple enough yet our brain is innately programed with a negativity bias.  We have strong tendency to place our attention and energy on things like “what could go wrong” and “our perceived limitations.”  This mental loop of planning for the worse tends to have us view the present as not good enough.  It’s as if we live with one foot in the past saying, “If only things had been different.” And the other foot in the future saying, “When this happens, things will be better.”  Meanwhile we completely ignore the present which is the only place where life actually exists.neuroplasticity

“Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy.  Too many people live habitually as if the present moment were some obstacle they need to overcome in order to get to the next.  And imagine living your whole life like that, where always this moment is never quite right because you need to get to the next one.  That is continuous stress.”  – Eckert Tolle

They say that stress is a byproduct of obsessively thinking about the past while anxiety results when we try controlling or forcing outcomes in life.  Admittedly there are valid moments where past analysis and/or future forecasting is beneficial (mostly in our professional lives).  However, too much time spent thinking about what’s already happened or what might happen is toxic to our livelihood and potential.  The point I am trying to make is this.  Whether you are predominantly anchored in the past or lost in the future, thoughts lead to beliefs and beliefs shape reality – the life you live.

Make no mistake, we have little to no control over our inner thoughts.  On the contrary thoughts cannot just take over your mind.  Only once you place attention on a thought can it materialize and influence (empower/disempower) your livelihood and potential.  This is your responsibility, you have control over the thoughts you hold onto, placing energy and attention on.  A thought is just that – a thought…until you rest your mind on it, dwell on it, and choose to believe it.  Once that happens your thought has the power to become life changing.

Think of it this way.  If Kennedy thought landing on the moon was impossible (which you can bet was one of the many thoughts he had) it would have become his belief.  And that belief would have changed his presidential legacy, the country’s legacy, and all human potential for that matter.  Make sense?

Here is my straight forward advice… When negative thoughts or feelings come into your mind, simply observe them, and but for the rare instance of life/death situation, let it go.  Depending on life’s circumstances it is perfectly natural to “feel” worried, stressed, doubtful (thoughts)…but you do not necessarily need to “be”  worried, stressed, doubtful (beliefs, state of being).  Beliefs define what we are capable of and the quality of our lives.  Our perception of who we are, of the world around us, situations we face – when we adopt them as (truth, a belief) they literally shape our reality.

“Once you notice you are feeling a particular way, then you generate more thoughts equal stressto how you’re feeling, and then you release more chemicals from your brain to make you feel the way you’ve been thinking.  And since the hormones of long-term stress down-regulate the expression of healthy genes and create disease…you must stop placing attention on any feelings related to stress…” – Dr Joe Dispenza

Your attention is the mind’s spotlight.  What you chose to focus it on will become the picture of the life you live.  The best way to predict your future is to create it.  Leverage the power of choice.  What thoughts you choose place your attention and energy on.  Unleash your human potential and turn those dreams into reality.  You got this.  The choice is yours and yours alone to make.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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Where your focus goes, energy flows…

…And where energy flows, whatever you focus on grows.

After several days of shooting abdominal pain, I finally gave in and went to an urgent care center.  Within minutes of seeing the Doctor I was told, “you need to be admitted to a hospital.”

They called the ER and notified them that I would be coming.  The next thing I know, I am in the ER.  Before I could even give them my insurance card, I hear my name being called.  Next came a barrage of blood work, an injection for the pain, an ultrasound and then waiting…waiting…and more waiting.

ambulanceFortunately, there is a happy ending.  No issues with my appendix.  The cause of my pain…self-induced, over production of cortisol (stress hormones).

For weeks I had been accepting the wrong self-talk, that inner dialogue we all have between our two ears.  Being obsessed with all that could go wrong, rather than all that could go right, was wreaking havoc on my nervous system.  Literally, my emotions (thoughts and feelings) brought on phyical pain.

The underlying truth here is that when we constantly analyze and place our attention on what “could” go wrong – we are contributing to things going wrong.

I learned a valuable life lesson – how to predict my future…

The best way to predict the future is to create it.  Make sure your self-talk is focused on daily possibilities rather than potential disruptions.

What thoughts will you pay attention to when you get up tomorrow?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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The Greatest Gift is…

The greatest gift of all – your presence.

birthday bow box card
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Are you already feeling some stress at the very thought of the upcoming holiday season?  If so, you are not alone. And, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Instead of being overwhelmed or exhausted by the many demands of the holidays, take a different approach—one that involves involving more “being” and less “doing.”

According to research* from Harvard University, you are happier when you are present, and the ones you are with experience a greater sense of wellbeing.  When we are not centered in the present moment our minds are torn between two worlds – the past and the future.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times to reminisce and/or daydream, but when we habitually are thinking of something other than what we are doing, life can pass you by.  That is why we must stay focused on our presence in the present.

Develop the mental fitness to let go of distractions and overcome the mind’s natural tendency to wonder.  Don’t let a long to-do list of the holiday season distract you from what really counts.  Be present when talking with family and friends.  Be present when working with your JFC team.  Be here now and be fully present!

Challenge yourself to be in the moment.  As you do, you will surely be home for the holidays, and your family and friends will receive the greatest gift of all – your presence.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.  Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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What makes the most successful teams truly tick?

Many of the best teams – the ones that deliver results, wow customers, and always hit their goal – share a few key traits:

  1. They share a common promise for a customer.
  2. They coordinate action to fulfill that promise.
  3. They take care of each other.
low angle photo of people doing huddle up
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

When each team member understands their role in the big picture, great things happen.  They share a common promise, meaning there is unified agreement on the objectives and how each individual brings a unique set of skills to the mission at hand.

Teams coordinate to fulfill a promise always looking toward the end goal.  When they have healthy relationships consisting of high-quality interaction, characterized by trust, open communication, and a willingness to embrace “constructive” conflict – they become great.  These teams willingly assume and embrace both personal and shared responsibility for fulfilling their common promise.

They take care of each other – the environment is supportive, open, and expressive.  Make no mistake, successful teams don’t agree on everything.  When disagreements arise, they tackle them in a respectful and constructive way, with appreciation for the ideas, skills, and perceptions of their team members.

In our professional life teamwork plays a vital role.  We engage with and depend on others to accomplish virtually every task.  Don’t leave it to chance, follow the formula above (the three traits) and be part of a great team!

What will you personally do to help improve your team for the better?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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How many hours will you work in a lifetime?

A quick Google search will reveal that we can expect to spend 90,360 hours on the job, working.  That is 1/3 of our lives!  How do you spend each of those hours?  Are you engaged in what you do?  Another Google search, and you will find that 70% of U.S. employees are not engaged by their jobs.  The scary fact is that 7 in 10 people are exhausting 1/3 of their lives slogging into a job feeling stuck on a treadmill of emptiness.  Sounds nonsensical, right?

While there are numerous aspects to fulfilling work that engages our hearts and minds, I pose that it boils down to one essential factor – purpose.  The desire for purposeful work is a fundamental human need.  It is a need just like love and belonging.  When we lack a sense of purpose in our jobs we disengage; we join the masses stuck on that treadmill of emptiness.

steps

First step:

My advice is that you start infusing your work with purpose immediately!  Identify with your company’s mission.  If you can’t or don’t then it is time to seek out a truer calling (employer/job).  A role that has you working towards a big picture.  One that brings fulfillment to you and the many others your job will impact.

Second step:

If you DO identify with your organization’s overreaching mission…Take two minutes each afternoon to think of one purposeful moment you had that day. If you do this for a month you will find that you are doing more things everyday that bring you purpose and that you also come to appreciate them more and more.

Know that the possibilities of creating purpose in your work/job are vast and growing.  Start with the big picture (mission) then work backwards tying meaning to every task.

Make that 1/3 of your life worthwhile…make it count…start today what you should have started yesterday…ACT!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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Make your current job a DREAM job!

“Your job comprises a set of building blocks that you can reconfigure to create more engaging and fulfilling experiences at work.” – Harvard Business Review, June 2010

refocusThink about the lens through which you view those less favorable tasks of your job. We all have them!  Rest assured in the fact that there is a way to make these necessary “to do’s” more meaningful and intrinsically rewarding.

How? 

Choose a new outlook!  Look at those less favorable tasks and begin to consider how to incorporate your own unique personality/strengths into them.  Often it is not the task itself that’s daunting, but rather the way you view it.

Take for instance the many phone calls experienced each workday…

Sales calls – Scrap the idea of them being “sales” calls, and instead approach them as learning calls.  After all, the intent is to inquire, gather facts, and build rapport – sales will be the by-product.

Whether it be incoming or outgoing phone calls, don’t be nerve racked, just change the way you look at them.  See each call as a pursuit of learning about the other person.  After all, have you ever heard of anyone getting in trouble for being a “good listener?”

It is important to successfully execute even those less favorable work activities (ring-ring-ring).  Now you know how to make them meaningful and intrinsically rewarding.  You simply just choose the lens through which you view them, whatever they may be!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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Pay attention to your attention!

Pay attention to your attention! – Really that is not a typo!

To achieve our goals and dreams, the ability to harness our power of attention is critical. This has never been truer than in modern time.  Our ability to focus is constantly impeded by pop-up notifications, alerts, texts, emails, and so on.  Each one threatening to hijack us away from the task at hand and derailing our forward progress to success.

Fortunately, attention is a skill; and like any skill it can be strengthened.  You simply need to pay attention to your attention.  Consciously choose where to direct your efforts and take back control. pay attentionHere are some tactics for winning the war on distraction:

  • Each morning jot down your “focus” list. Set multiple reminders for referencing it.
  • Do less, then obsess.
  • Push back against distractions as they arise.

In any moment, we can choose to be successful by giving our 100% focus to the most essential tasks at hand.  Be mindful, be deliberate, and always be strengthening the power of your attention.  Distractions will begin losing their power and you will be on a straight track towards achieving those goals and dreams.

You got this…take charge of your attention!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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You have options – work hard or work smart?

 “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I can move anything.”  – Greek mathematician Archimedes

That’s working smarter – that’s quality activity!

smart kidLet’s apply this concept to a modern-day project.  Imagine this scenario, you must move a heavy piece of old furniture out of your garage and to the curb.  You have options – work hard or work smart!

One scenario, working hard, would be to solicit a group of friends/family to tackle this project with you.  This would entail having to select and contact multiple people, coordinate a date and time among their varying schedules, and (if you are a good friend) providing some adult beverages afterward for their effort.  This is a perfectly viable option that will provide the desired result, yet it requires a lot of steps.

Another scenario, working smart, call that one friend or family member who owns a dolly and ask to borrow it.  Then you can do the job yourself and save those coveted adult beverages for the remainder of the weekend.  Another option producing the same result but this one demands far less time, energy, and effort – and keeps the fridge well stocked for the weekend.

Admittedly parts of every job will have tasks we can’t just eliminate.  Still, most jobs do have parts we can combine, delegate, or remove.  Ask yourself, “What existing activities of little value should we eliminate?  What existing activities of high value should we increase? What new activities of high value should we create?” 

Reflect on the questions posed above then take action!

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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“Work smarter not harder.” – Duh!

The way we approach annual goals, meaning our specific work practices as opposed to sheer effort, does indeed provide greater results.  Think about those goals you have previously identified for the year.  Are you making forward progress?  Is your pace of progress on track?

Confined only by walls you buildWith the mid-year mark approaching, circle back on those goals and key activities being engaged.  Are you working harder? Smarter?  Neither? Both?

If you find yourself working harder, be aware!  You are spread too thin and falling into the complexity trap.  Thus, working smarter holds great truth.  Confirm that you have clear direction, reclarify your goals, and literally focus on “fewer” activities.

The smart way to work is literally “do less, then obsess.”  By no means does this imply slacking off – quite the contrary.  Author of Great at Work, Moten Hanson, sums it up perfectly – “As few as you can, as many as you must.”  By this he means we should do everything possible to discard non-essential activities.  Take the fewest steps – while retaining everything necessary to do great work.  Rather than “do more, then stress” we should “do less, then obsess.”

Reconfirm those goals.  Recognize the most critical activities needed.  Invest huge efforts into each activity and obsess over them!

What will you obsess about?

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Visualize this…

What does a successful tomorrow look like for you?  No really, what does it look like?

VisualizeThe most successful athletes and business people can tell you. They take the time to actually visualize success of their next goal.  Do you ever take the time to visualize what a successful tomorrow will look like for you?  You should – it’s a great exercise!

And once you have that picture in your head, you’ll see that you start planning to make it happen.  It’s just the natural progression of how your mind will flow.  That picture of “success”, whatever it might be, becomes your goal, and one that you don’t want to fall short of.  So, close your eyes – picture success for tomorrow – and start mapping out how you will achieve that success!

Mentally rehearsing success is both easier and more difficult than it sounds: easier because the ability to do so is entirely within your control; more difficult because it requires discipline and perseverance.

Your thoughts matter.  Give more attention to this practice.  Make it your morning routine.

No matter what your goals are for tomorrow, if you want to increase the chances of success, give   visualization a shot.

What dream/goal/ambition will you start with?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

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