Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No, really, what do you WANT?

I got home last night from a meeting and watched an Oprah episode from within the past week which I had on my overloaded DVR. I happened upon the episode where Oprah highlighted lessons we can learn from people who are dying. Sounds a little morose ... but you know that old saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear? Well, this is what I needed to see last night.

I'm working with several clients on the distinction between setting goals and achieving goals, and I'm also leading several groups studying the book Think and Grow Rich, where we talk a lot about goals and what we really want in our lives. (By the way, I'm still looking for folks who want to get into a virtual master mind to study this book - email me your contact info so I can get in touch with you if you're interested!)

Although we are very clear on our objectives for those classes and the study group, very few people ever really get serious about dreaming about what they really want in their lives, whether that's at work or outside of work. We seem to be more content to just drift along in our lives, fully expecting that someday we'll figure it out.

But the reality is that we never know when our days will end. There is no guarantee for anyone. I'm sure you've heard by now about Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who gave his "last lecture" in September. The idea for this series used to be that professors would give a lecture for the audience based on what they would say if it were to be their last lecture. For Randy Pausch, who has late-stage pancreatic cancer, the lecture really is probably one of his last.

This video is the complete lecture (about 90 minutes) - but please take some time to watch it and let it inspire you to decide, once and for all, what you really want in your life. Stop waiting until tomorrow to determine what you want to do, be and have and take charge of your own awareness. You can decide TODAY - NOW - to be the person you've always wanted as a best friend.

After all, what more is there to this thing we call life?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Milestone

OK, I know I've been traveling a lot doing all kinds of speaking and training and promotion - today was proof. I've officially driven this car more miles than any other car I've ever owned - and I've only owned it for 2 years (I bought it in October of 2005)!

Last night as I was driving into my garage, I noticed that the driver's side headlight looked dim. Sure enough, the bulb was burned out. So I took that as a sign that my trusty CRV was winking at me for getting me through this many miles!

So today I have a new number on my odometer and my car has a new headlight - and I'm back on the road again tomorrow.

Life is GOOD!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Anything is Possible!

I am getting ready to design a new set of learning opportunities for a client which I'll be delivering every other week for three weeks starting on October 29. These learnings are around achieving goals. As I'm putting the finishing touches on Session One, I receive notification of my friend Lisa Haneberg's latest post on her blog Management Craft and it's really gotten me thinking about what I can share with this client from her wisdom.

I won't be able to do justice to Lisa's original thoughts, so please read her post and just think about her observations. Her post brings up several questions for me.

1) Do most of us know what we really want so clearly that we could write it down and go after it on purpose?

2) Or is it more of a feeling we want to have when we wake up one day and realize that, even if we didn't write down specifics, we might just kind of realize one day that where we are is where we wanted to get?

3) Is it really important to achieve the milestones on our written goal charts? If so, is it so we can be right about achieving the specific goals we've set? Or is it in the way we've set the goals?

I'm thinking now that if many of us set goals at all, we probably set them low enough so they are reachable in a certain amount of time and with minimal effort. After all, we are conditioned to set goals we already know how to achieve. The boss will reward us with a bonus if we achieve it - our sales goals are always there as measurement of our progress and our worthiness. It's no wonder we don't want to set a goal we have no idea how to reach.

But Lisa reminds us that absolutely anything is possible. If we've reached a goal quickly and without much effort, the goal probably wasn't big enough. If we're worried about how to achieve a goal and that's what stops us from even thinking about it, that may be where we're stopped.

I know over the course of my life I've heard the phrase "don't get your hopes up" more than once. Why not?? Disappointment is just part of the journey and it can be a wonderful teacher for many reasons.

What is the outcome you'd like to experience in your own life? How about for the next 3 months? I know I'd like to get back to the gym and get back in shape. I know I could see amazing results in 3 months if I were committed to that outcome. I don't want to think about getting up earlier every morning, putting on the shoes and the gear, making my way to the gym in the dark and actually getting on the machines and treadmills, etc. That's what usually stops me: the "How." If I concentrate on the "Why" and really keep my attention there, the "how" becomes much less of an obstacle. I've just got to make the "Why" big enough and the "How" will take care of itself.

So that's my goal - and Lisa reminds me that anything is possible. As I get back into shape and use the discipline I have to support my clients on myself, I'm excited to think about how much more effective I will be - for them and for myself.

What are you putting off in your own life - for you? Reading a novel? Going to a play? Cleaning the garage? Set that as a goal, and concentrate on how you'll feel when you get it done. Make the "WHY" the focus and forget about the "HOW." Let's compare notes!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Actually, Awareness is Bliss!

We've probably all heard the phrase "ignorance is bliss." And isn't it the truth? We don't have to be - no really, we can't be - accountable for information we don't have, now can we?

The definition of ignorance is simply the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information. It's not a judgment, it's just a fact.

But when our minds are stretched by a new idea, as Oliver Wendell Holmes tells us, they can never go back to their original dimensions.

Terms like "raising consciousness" and "becoming aware" might sound "new agey," but it's really not new age at all to become responsible for your own life. After all, responsible means only "able to respond." When we have new information, we now have more ability to respond to that information rather than being stuck in reaction mode, which doesn't require us to ponder or process.

It seems to me that if we are responsible for introducing change or new information into our lives then it becomes easier to manage that change as compared to being blindsided by those changes from the outside.

Charles Handy wrote about the Sigmoid Curve, and I've talked about that here in a previous post called "How's Your Head?". The short story says that instead becoming complacent during the life cycle of anything, be it a project or a marketing campaign or a relationship, and resting on the upswing (point A), we become strategic and introduce a new curve so that when we reach point B we are on the upswing instead of the downslope.

But what if we became strategic in our own lives about introducing ongoing learning and growth opportunities so that we wouldn't be surprised or upset about those changes? How might we be freed up to operate in our own areas of strength and also become more creative?

In that case the model might look more like this where, if we're introducing the changes ourselves, whether that be individuals or teams or organizations, we can plan for management of those down times knowing that we are preparing for the future instead of waiting for it to surprise us.

That way over time we can watch our learning and understanding grow. As curves are introduced over time, the gap might even become smaller as we become more comfortable with those changes. And as individuals are freer to accept changes and to operate in their areas of strength and creativity instead of being fear-based and worried about the competition, there might even be an additional boost that we can't even predict (the red dotted line on the model). George Patton once said, "Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." Who knows what people are capable of when they are free from stress and fear?

I'm finding that my clients and potential clients are very interested in exploring this model and seeing just what they might be capable of producing. The first step to new results is simply to become aware of what's currently going on and then making new choices.

What are you noticing on your journey to higher awareness in your own life? Isn't awareness more blissful than ignorance? At least when you're aware you can enjoy your bliss because you know what you know!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Proof is in the Pudding

I've been thinking about the statement recently: "The proof is in the pudding" and wondering what it really means.

Here's what I found out. The phrase is actually a shortened version of the original "The proof of the pudding is in the eating," which came either from the Miguel de Cervantes novel Don Quixote in 1605 or from these other various sources, according to Ask Yahoo:

Word Detective and the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms note that the phrase came into use around 1600. However, a bulletin board quotes The Dictionary of Cliches, which dates the phrase to the 14th century. The board also mentions a 1682 version from Bileau's Le Lutrin, which read, "The proof of th' pudding's seen i' the eating." A page of pudding definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary also cites the author Boileau (Bileau) as the first to use the phrase. So it seems likely that the phrase dates back to the 1600s, though the identity of its author is disputed.
I even found a blog with the same title.

My point is that if you really want to know how someone is doing, don't ask that person - look at the results in his/her life. That's where the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Many people say they are happy, but their lives speak differently. Change is one of the subjects that brings results front and center and for many people change is very daunting. They are comfortable in their familiar zone, choosing to stay put and fight any external changes by building thicker walls around that zone. It appears as though they prefer being lonely inside the walls they have built; but most of the time these people don't appear to be especially happy.

So what is it about change that causes so many people to bury their heads in the sand? Is it that it's unknown? Would we really prefer a life where we know absolutely everything that is going to happen so we can maintain some false sense of control?

I think the underlying reason some people try to so desperately to disguise their results is fear, however that fear manifests itself in their lives. We want to dress up our pain and our unhappiness by keeping a strong upper lip and bucking up and taking it for the team and all those other cliches that keep us from being honest - first with ourselves and then with others.

I've noticed that many times the people who will fight hardest to keep things the same are some of the same folks who fight against things rather than stand for them. They seem to be people who make others wrong for allowing growth and evolution to take place naturally. "If only things would go back to the way they were when I was a kid (or when I was in charge, or some other place and time of their choosing)," they say. "Now those were the good old days."

They seem to be many of the same people who want everyone else to do the changing to see the world the way they see it.

I subscribe to many daily e-mail messages, and today's from the Nightingale-Conant Company was a wonderful Nelson Mandela quote which really inspired this post today.

"One of the most difficult things is not to change society -
but to change yourself."

So, how might society change if each of us looks at the results in our own lives with an objective eye and determines once and for all that the way to change those results is to change our minds about those results? How might we be able to support each other in standing FOR something instead of fighting AGAINST something?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let's open our minds and ask new questions about our current results. Anybody in?