Monthly Archives: December 2012

Becoming

Stock Images: Reading the contract. Image: 71764
© Photographer: Dreamstime Agency | Agency: Dreamstime.com

The other day my friend Alison posted a link to a blog and I was leery about reading it – the language was a little bit harsh. Okay the language was more than a little bit harsh but I pushed past it and I have to say the message was more than a little refreshing. (Read the original post here, but I warn you the language is not for the faint of heart).

David Wong basically drove home the point that its not about how kind or nice or interesting you are, it’s about what you have to offer that makes things happen in your life. His analogy was that if you have a loved one bleeding after an accident and someone is ready to help by performing a medical procedure on the spot you don’t care if he’s a nice guy, kind to his mother, remembers his girlfriend’s birthday, does his own laundry. What you care about is whether or not he has the medical expertise and skill to perform the medical procedure. All the other stuff doesn’t count.

Hmmmm, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our personal development that we forget to develop our skills and let’s face it, no one pays you to be nice. You get paid because you bring a skill to the situation that can fix a problem. The better your skills the bigger the problems you can help fix. The bigger the problems the more you get paid to fix them. Yes, of course if you have great inter-personal skills (you’re nice and play well with others) you have an even bigger winning combination.

In my industry (direct sales or network marketing) not long ago you could come in with a basic set of skills and be wildly successful as long as you were persistent and consistent. Today the industry is changing. It’s not only becoming more main stream (Harvard and Yale teach courses on Network Marketing I’m told) but with the novelty of direct sales/network marketing wearing off if you come with basic skills you will create a basic income. To create a great income you need great skills. To be wildly successful you need to create superior skills.

The good news is this is still one industry in which you can come in with basic skills and with a willingness to learn, grow, and develop them you can create superior professional skills and become wildly successful. There is no other industry that I know of where you can truly get your professional training on the job and succeed at such a quick pace. After all you can’t start on the job training as a doctor with just a first aid certificate.

The challenge is if you don’t have professional skills yet are you willing to learn?

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Greater Good

Over the last few days I have been wrestling with the idea of greater good. Our society seems to favour individual rights over being our brothers keepers. Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating we give up our own rights and freedoms for the greater good of others, but I’m just wondering if maybe we weren’t so hell bent on what was best for me then we could create a safer environment for our children to grow up in

Maybe if we weren’t so dogged about my right to watch what I want, listen to what I want, wear what I want, do what I want, own assault rifle if I want then perhaps our children would never have to know the fear of gunmen entering schools, abductors selling them for the profit that can be made off little bodies, vile and cruel words, looks and actions. Maybe if we were a little bit more willing to consider our choices and actions and how they affect others than just maybe we could finally stop asking why these things happen?

For generations we understood that life didn’t begin and end with me. I was just part of a line of lives who came before me and those who would come after me. I was responsible not only to honour the sacrifices of my ancestors for my present freedom, but I was also responsible to pass on even greater to those who would come after me.

Some cultures still understand this, but even they are losing hold of this truth. Instead we have bought into the lie that it is all about me, my fulfillment, my pleasure, my comfort, my ease. If I leave nothing behind it doesn’t matter, my kids need to make their own way. Just so long as I live a happy and fulfilled life. Just so long as I leave a mark on the world. It doesn’t matter that it destroys the generations coming up behind me or those around me. It’s all about my right to do as I please.

I don’t think we need to go to the other extreme and live miserable existences just so another generation can benefit. What if we thought less about our own satisfaction and a little bit more about how our choices impact others? What if we were willing to give up something that we may enjoy but don’t absolutely need in order to ensure that others aren’t hurt? What if we rediscovered the concept of honour?

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Waiting for the Magic Bullet

So this morning I came across a book review of Dr. Don Colbert’s “I Can Do This Diet” book. The reviewer’s basic gripe was the book talked about sensible eating, eliminating foods that were high on the glycemic index but low in nutritional value and regular activity for balance, but Dr. Colbert didn’t have anything new to say. So what was the reviewer expecting? A top secret magic bullet to solve the weight issue without having to live a healthy life?

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, a few pounds or a ton (figuratively of course) you know that it takes dedication, work and there simply are no short cuts. Even if you seem to find a quick way to lose the weight it comes back on just as quickly because there really is no way around having to change your lifestyle from being solution oriented (go on a diet to lose some weight) to one of being results oriented (eat better, exercise more, become healthier resulting in weight loss).

As a child I never struggled with weight because I was active and food just provided fuel for my activities. But in the tween years food became a means of numbing pain and the added weight a buffer between me and the source of pain. That’s another blog at another time. The effect of that period of my life was that as an adult maintaining my healthy weight has been challenging at times, especially after having two babies within 18 months in my mid 30’s.

Believe me when I say I’ve looked for the magic bullet, the quick fix, the easy to follow system that didn’t take too long and wouldn’t be too complicated. I’ve tried a lot of things. And yes some of them seemed to work quickly but as soon as I stopped following the plan the weight came back on and brought an extra friend or two for good measure.  Deep down I knew that what needed addressing was my using food to soothe myself and a commitment to eating healthy, exercising regularly and choosing health.

At the end of the day I realized no magic bullet exists and never will. There never will really be anything other than healthy eating and regular physical activity – in other words a healthy and active lifestyle. Yet our generation seems determined to find a magic bullet for weight loss and everything else. Fad diets come and go and get recycled under new names. There’s the ketone-, the liquid-, low-carb, no-carb, low-fat, high-protein-, chips & salsa- (I kid you not), detox-, soup- diet and they all work for a little while but when we go back to eating the way we did in order to gain the weight in the first place the results are predictable. As I’ve said before if we focus on solving problems rather than outcomes from the process we end up in this predictable cycle of gain and loss and gain some more.

You know people who keep looking for the magic weight loss bullet. They keep hoping they can have their cake and eat it too. There’s also people looking for the magic debt reduction bullet, the wealth creation bullet, the great relationship bullet, the parenting bullet, the fame and fortune bullet. We all want to snap our fingers and have all our dreams come true without the effort. Guess what, it just doesn’t happen that way. Ask those who have won the lottery in the past. How many of them kept the wealth? Life just doesn’t happen that way. There are no magic bullets but anything is possible if you are willing to work at it, learn, change and grow.

So are you looking for any magic bullets?

Teaching an Old-er Dog New Tricks

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I’m a recovering perfectionist. Yes I admit it, I have this internal need for things to be just right. Nothing less will do. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the standard I measure things by is my own. I love clean lines, finished edges, precise angles and uncluttered spaces. I love order and function. And if you know me at all you know that my life looks NOTHING like the precision I crave.

What my life actually looks like is functional but utilized. The desk is covered with bits of paper that I mean to address in an hour, but never get around to. The filing that sits beside the files and not in them. The laundry that is folded, but not put away. The dishwasher that is clean, but still full! The floor is covered with little bits of train tracks and miniature horses. There are about a dozen notebooks lying around my work space and throughout my home. Each one started but not completed. Each one intended to be finished from one end to the other before the next one was begun. There are drawings and charts and graphs scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, the house is not a complete mess but rather very lived in if you will. You see there is another side to me that craves creativity and must create solutions, systems and discover new possibilities and that side of me could care less about order, neatness and precision. That side wants to take bunny trails in every direction. That side wants to pursue a possibility and capture its every nuance. That side can’t see what’s around me until it notices a moodiness and anxiety rising with me that prevents it from focusing on the latest train of thought. When I stop and notice those signals I realize that the perfectionist in me is feeling overwhelmed by the chaos the creative side of me has made. And so the dance continues.

I take time away from creating to reorganize my space, my life and my things. I determine I will stay on top of it this time. I promise my perfectionist self that I will not allow paper to pile up, but will file it immediately. I will not let laundry stay folded in the basket, I’ll put it away as I’m doing it. I promise my perfectionist self I will finally finish the profiles on all my social media accounts and I will plan out and prepare my blog. I do my best for a few days to stay on top of those tasks and then I notice a sadness and lack of energy and I realize I’ve been maintaining everything, but creating nothing. And the cycle begins again.

But I’m learning. I’m learning to identify those signals before they become so loud they drown out everything else. I’m learning not to let the perfectionist side of me dictate long to-do lists that prevent me from accomplishing them. I am learning to actually enjoy my children and not just plan their daily tasks (we home school). I’m also learning to not let the creative side of me get so engrossed in every bunny trail that nothing gets accomplished. In other words I’m learning to be a peace keeper between the two sides of me.

This old-er (not old) dog is learning some new tricks and giving both intense sides of who I am come out and play. I’m trying to give both sides equal billing and you know what, its kinda starting to work!

Am I the only one who feels like I’m at war within myself?

Problem or Outcome?

The other day I heard a commercial on radio (I know, how antiquated) and it actually got me thinking! This ad was for some weight management program that offered all the bells and whistles. I don’t know what it was and I didn’t even catch the name of the brand so I can’t give them direct credit except to say their ad started me on this train of thought.

Problem or Outcome?

When I am problem oriented in my thinking whatever changes I make are done to fix the problem. So if I diet I’m trying to fix the problem of being over-weight. If I join the gym as part of my new year’s resolution I am trying to fix the problem of being out of shape. I may succeed for a while, but once the problem is fixed more than likely I will go back to the old way of doing things and eventually the problem returns.

Athletes do not think of winning a game as solving a problem. To an athlete winning the game is an outcome of the training, practice and discipline they put in when playing their game or training for their sport. When they win they don’t stop doing what they did in order to win. They keep on practicing, training and perfecting their skills.  They are outcome oriented.

So far I’ve shared the commercial with you. Here is where my brain took off. How many times have I started learning a new skill or attended training in order to fix a problem? Once the problem appears to be fixed I eventually go back to my old ways. I stop following the budget. I eat whatever whenever. I don’t track my sales, prospects, referrals. Eventually the problem resurfaces because the fix wore off.

What could I accomplish if instead of trying to fix problems I focused on creating a healthier lifestyle? Systematic approach to sales or managing my finances? What if I made changes to my outlook? Perhaps the outcome I’m after would be the result of the process and not a solution from a fix?

What about you? Can you recognize times you’ve opted to fix the problem only to have the problem return once you’ve stopped doing the “fix”? Are their any cycles of problem solving you can recognize in your life?