Okay, so most of you probably know I’m up north visiting the folks. And most of you also know I love life in the fast lane. But up here at Cooly, sure there’s lots going on but there’s also another opportunity presenting itself… the chance to go a little slower.
Take yesterday for example. Instead of giving in to the temptation of getting straight into work Mary and I made the choice to go a little slower. Putting away the phones and laptops until we’d done a few things for ourselves. Prioritising the time for meditating before getting outside for a bit to walk along the beach. It’s one of Mary’s favourite things. With a great breakfast at the other end before we walked back.
The thing is we achieved all of this before 9am.
An awesome way to set ourselves up a great day ahead. And we felt so good.
The thing is when we slow down it’s like we have more time. Time moves slower, we think clearer and things fall into place so much better. It’s about connecting – with world around us, with those we love – and filling up the well so we can then go about our day with a better energy, a clearer more focussed mindset, more centred. It’s about minimising the distractions.
And there are millions of distractions around us. But it’s up to us whether we choose to let them grab our attention and control our lives. Or whether we choose to do something else. To take back control and connect with what’s really important. Our relationships, our values, ourselves.
As Jim Rohn said, either you run the day or the day runs you. So before you start your day tomorrow, take a few moments to work out what you want your day to look like, then work backwards and make some choices to ensure that it happens.
So my 89 year old mother placed her first ever bet on the cup yesterday. And you guessed it. She backed the winner. With odds of close to 100-1 it was a huge return for a very small investment on Prince of Penzance. She’s figuring now on giving up share trading for horse racing.
And for Michelle Payne, it was another couple of firsts. Her first cup win, not to mention the first female to win the Melbourne cup ever. Needless to say the champagne was flowing.
Life is full of firsts.
The thing is when we first achieve something either for ourselves or as part of the human race, it opens the floodgates of possibility. Because if one person can do it, they make it possible for others to see they can too. Of course you need to prepare, take action, train relentlessly and sacrifice a whole shitload of other things you might love to be doing. But once you see that someone else has achieved ‘the impossible’ it makes it so much easier doesn’t it.
Like running the 4 minute mile.
Like building the first car.
Like landing on the moon.
But firsts don’t need to be public to make an impact. Maybe your first is simply to be the first one in your family to break the mould of poor financial decisions or bad relationships. Just think of the impact for the generations that follow.
It doesn’t matter what you want to achieve. There’s always a first. So start with the end in mind and it may well be you.
A wise man once said, ‘any fool can complicate things, it takes a genius to simplify them.’
Yesterday Mary shared a touch of genius with our staff. Simply put, the massive benefits to be had when you focus on increasing your income by only 10% while at the same time decreasing your expenses by the same 10%. Can you imagine the benefits? With cash flow the life blood of any family and business it’s gonna make a massive difference.
But the genius didn’t stop there. How do you decrease your expenses by 10%? Well there’s all the regular ways of shopping around, going without, making different choices, being happy with less. And then there’s Mary’s way… she simply asks the question. Magic thing is when she puts her focus into reducing expenses people often respond with more than a 10% reduction. Yesterday she achieved a whopping 30%.
The thing is we can and do make things complicated. Why is it we’re afraid to ask for the things we need, the things we want. In our relationships, in our finances, in our work. What I’ve come to realise is how well people respond when we have an open and honest discussion about what we need or want and ask them for their help in achieving it. Straight shooting.
But why stop just with the money? How would a 10% increase in time in your day with a 10% decrease in work make a difference in your life? Or how would a 10% increase in fun with a 10% decrease in stress affect your health and happiness?
A 10% shift isn’t much. But when it’s a 10% drop in the negative stuff with a 10% gain in the stuff you love, it’s going to make one hell of a difference to your life.
Juicy Fruit®, Doublemint®, Spearment® ring a bell? We’ve all chewed them. Wrigley’s gums are a part of almost everybody’s childhood. And the story of William Wrigley Jr is nothing short of inspiring.
What budding entrepreneur hasn’t been bored at school? Expelled at a tender age, Wrigley Jr went to work in his father’s soap factory. But with a flare for sales, it wasn’t too long before Wrigley Jr went out on his own, starting his own company selling soap. With a stroke of entrepreneurial genius, he did something different to dad and added a bonus freebie of baking powder to every sale. And sales boomed. But once he realised the baking powder was more popular than the soap, he switched to selling baking powder with a different freebie thrown in. You guessed it. A stick of gum with every sale. Very soon he noticed the gum sales out did the baking powder and so he switched track again to producing his own line of gums.
The thing is Wrigley Jr never started out selling gum. But as he saw new opportunities he grabbed them. Through times of economic depression and war, Wrigley continued to adapt and reinvent his products. Taking calculated risks with marketing while his competitors pulled in the belt. And they paid off. Where other company’s sales dropped, Wrigley’s thrived.
Adaptable and tuned in to the wants of his market Wrigley Jr’s success as an entrepreneur means that his gums are still available today. Over 120 years later.
Adapt or perish. And it’s as true in business as it is in other areas of life. Wrigley Jr was a genius at it. Kodak stuffed it. And Australia Post – well time will tell. The thing is as times change, new markets open and old markets close, technology jumps ahead at lightening speed and the traditional ways of doing business become a thing of the past, we must adapt in order to survive. I’ve heard it said it’s like turning a big ship around. First you’ve got to be looking ahead and see the need. Then you’ve got to take action. Then you’ve got to be patient while it all comes together. Sometimes easier said than done.
One thing is for sure. Change happens. And there will always be upturns and downturns.
Julz and I spent a fantastic two days in Sydney this week. We had the chance to attend someone else’s gig and so we did. But as things go what we thought we’d get out of the two days just didn’t happen.
We got something even better.
Bucket loads of inspiration as our brains got a chance to enjoy time out from all the usual day to day stuff. And while most of the information was not new, hearing it again meant an opportunity to do something different with it, something we hadn’t thought of before. Something pretty damn awesome.
The thing is inspiration, innovation, those brilliant flashes of insight happen when we combine ideas. When thoughts come together in new ways. The aha or eureka moment when we really ‘get’ something in a new and different way. And it’s exciting, isn’t it. Because when that happens a whole world of possibility opens. New potentials and new opportunities are created in a flash.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. It might be someone you know. It might be something that’s said. It might be something you see or feel or experience. But you’ve got to stay open. And you’ve got to be willing to take time out and do something different. Because when you’re stuck on autopilot you’re just firing the same old neurons. And when you’re doing that it’s a sure thing that nothing’s going to change.
So if you want to create something different in your life, you’ve got to shake things up a little. Rather than just going through the motions, any moron can do that. To make changes you’ve got to get out of your daily routine and give yourself the space to see things differently. To enable your inner genius to come out and play.
And while things might not always happen as you expect them too, stay open to the possibilities. Because it just might be there’s something better up for grabs – if you’re open to it.
Have you taken a moment lately to realise how privileged we are? Living in a place where we don’t just have to focus on survival. Instead we actually get the chance to thrive. The opportunity to see what’s not working in our lives and take steps to change it. Of course, there’s always the choice to continue living on autopilot. But for those people who want to take control of their lives and actually create their own future, consciously and deliberately, as humans we have the mental tools that enable us to do just that. How good is that!
This week we received the most awesome letter from a woman who’s been coaching with us and one our great coaches for the last couple of years. And she has made the most incredible changes in her life. Financially and personally. Which makes sense when you realise one is simply a reflection of the other.
But the thing that really sticks out in her letter is how she became comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because learning to do something different, learning to be someone different, really is uncomfortable. All credit to her.
As I’ve said before, change is like learning to drive a car. The first time you do it you can’t concentrate on anything else. You have to be fully focussed. You can’t talk to the person in the passenger seat or listen to music at the same time as concentrating on the road and all those dials and pedals. And talk about having to have eyes in the back of your head. Everything is new and it all feels wrong. And that’s because it’s unfamiliar. You haven’t got the wiring in place yet. But as you practise it all becomes easier. Much easier. How many of you have driven somewhere and got there without realising how you did it?
Change IS uncomfortable. And that’s because we’re turning our back on old familiar habits in order to create something better. But the problem is many people give up when they feel uncomfortable choosing instead to stay stuck in old patterns. Because it feels easier to stay stuck with what’s familiar. And even if we don’t like it very much we’ve learned how to do life that way. But when we realise that discomfort is actually an awesome sign that you’re now doing something new, it makes it easier to stick with it. To do it again and again until it becomes automatic. Because the discomfort means you’ve broken away from the old habits and now anything and everything is possible.
So the next time you make a change just notice how uncomfortable you feel. And celebrate.
We had a great coaching telelcass last week. It was all about how our food cravings have nothing to do with food. We learned heaps about how it’s really our emotions driving those cravings – and what we can do to change that – and there were some real gems that came up that stretched our thinking in other directions too.
They always do.
One of those gems was all about how we approach all the things we have to do in our lives. You know, the stuff we don’t really want to do. There’s tons of it isn’t there. But how we think about it has a huge impact on how we feel. And really it all boils down to our self-talk. What we say to ourselves about the things that need to be done. Because we can either feel like we HAVE to do something – which can make us feel resentful or miserable or angry (or… you name it) – or we can instead CHOOSE to do the very same task which gives us back control and with it the opportunity to feel something more uplifting.
One of the best examples I can think of is Mary’s Mum Lou. She lived with us for many years and one of her ways of loving us was to do the ironing. A pretty dull job in anyone’s book. But Lou turned it into something else. She would whistle while she ironed turning this boring chore into something joyful. Or she’d listen to her favourite country music. It was always done as a labour of love. Seen as a privilege, not with resignation. And she was like that with all the housework. All of us felt that joy with her and in the same way we all learn things from our parents Lou has passed that gift on.
The thing is we get to choose how we look at the world. We can judge stuff we have to do as bad and make ourselves feel like crap. Or we can choose not to judge, and just approach everything we have to do as an opportunity to create something more uplifting or joyful or peaceful or happy for ourselves.
So you’ve got to hand it to them. The Red Cross do an awesome job both globally and locally. And the other day when they cold called for donations, my daughter (and boss) Julie wanted to give the guy a job. Because he was brilliant.
Cold calling is just about the world’s most terrifying part of being in sales. Up there with the fear of public speaking, most people would choose to do almost anything else if they could to avoid it. The fear of rejection is a huge thing. But this Red Cross guy, well he was all over it. Calling late one afternoon, he had Julie convinced he was one of our clients. Opening with a bit of general chit chat, Julie was primed to listen to what he said next. And of course he was after a donation. A donation to help fund a phone service where lonely people stuck at home get a daily call from a Red Cross volunteer. While a worthwhile cause, Julie responded by letting him know we have our own charitable arm. But he was ready for all the usual reasons why not and countered with some brilliant arguments that left Julie no where to go. ‘That’s okay, we can talk about your own individual contribution’. Following up with ideas of it being Julie’s Grandma stuck at home alone she just couldn’t say no.
So impressed by the brilliance of his call, Julie agreed to a donation.
And afterward wished she’d asked him if he wanted a job.
Cold calls are notoriously unpopular for both the caller and target. But there are ways to make the job so much more effective, leaving both parties with a good feeling. Stop thinking of them as cold calls for instance. Warm yourself up before you even begin. Smile, stretch and stand or sit in a power position. Get your own mindset set for success. Then pick up the phone and have a chat. Remember you’re talking to a person on the other end of the line. Imagine it’s a friend and your whole conversation changes for the better. Don’t script it. While it’s important to have some thoughts on what you want to say and how to counter objections, don’t just read it. Boring as bat shit and guaranteed to fail. And my favourite idea to counter the fear of rejection. Robert Smith suggests you lean into it. Set your target for ‘no’ responses rather than chasing the wins. As I see it, in chasing the ‘nos’ you’re under less pressure to get the ‘yes’s’ and guess what! You’ve overcome the fear and you’re enjoying yourself more which means you’re more likely to get the sale. It’s the law of reversed effect.
Cold calling tips aside, when was the last time you donated to a worthwhile cause? Or if finances don’t allow, how about lifting the spirits of someone you know by taking the time to call.
So there was a show on recently about the world’s most expensive food. Coffee at $700 per cup for instance. So rare because it is eaten and pooed out by a critter in the Sumatran jungle as part of the processing. Needless to say a flavour all of its own. Or the Beluga caviar at over $50,000 per tin. So pricey because you have to wait 12 years to get your first eggs. Or then there’s the ice-cream made from melting glaciers in Africa or you might prefer the gold leaf from Dubai at over $1000 per scoop.
But of course if you’d prefer a meal in the world’s most expensive restaurant, you are welcome to book a seat at nearly $3000 per person. And you’ll have to fly there.
Prices like these show there’s more than enough money to go round. And it’s not just in the food industry. How about the client who rang me yesterday. Bored on a Tuesday afternoon so thought he’d go out shopping and buy a bit of furniture. Came home with a Ferrari all because his ‘old’ Audi needed new tyres.
Quite an insight into how the other half live isn’t it.
But the thing is there’s a market for it and smart people are positioning themselves to be in the business of selling to the people who can afford to buy. And making a handsome profit in the process. And while some people will sit in judgement of the lavishness of this lifestyle, it pays to remember that the wealthy are sharing their fortune with those ready to receive it every time they make a purchase.
It’s an exchange of value.
When money’s not an issue, the rich are looking for something else. An experience. A story. And any astute entrepreneur will see the opportunity to fill that gap.
Really it’s all about choice. The choices we make that bring money and opportunity our way. Or keep us struggling. And whether our choices are conscious or not, we are all making them, all the time. We can choose to be judgemental about the way other people live. Or we can choose to be in the business that provides goods and services to the rich and famous. It just takes a bit of know how, a good strategy and the confidence and mindset to make it happen.
We spent the last week with our business clients doing just that. Developing their entrepreneurial skills as they create profitable solutions to other people’s needs. And it’s exciting times.
The world is your oyster. There are some great opportunities out there. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the one ordering the caviar. After all, that’s how my client got his Ferrari.
It’s expensive being a loudmouth. How about the Orange student fined $105,000 for badmouthing a teacher on twitter. Or the Sydney couple fined $15,000 for a facebook post that suggested a neighbour may or may not be related to Satan. And that’s just for starters.
The thing is being a keyboard warrior is a pretty dumb way of dealing with your personal issues. Because once posted those words are there for the world to see for a long, long time. And if you really p*ss someone off it can be very expensive.
With the world changing at lightening speed, now more than ever we need to develop emotional intelligence. And while teens with only half a brain really need to learn these skills, it seems quite a few adults do too. Because behaving badly online is just not smart. Not only won’t it sort out your problems, it can cause even bigger ones.
So what are some of the tools we can teach our kids?
What EQ tools can we learn for ourselves?
One of the most important tools to master is the GAP. Because when you’re being emotionally intelligent it means you take a gap before you act and consider the consequences. How the other person might feel for example. Or whether your words will come back to haunt you. Or what it might cost you in terms of your own reputation. Or how to work out a better way to deal with the issue. Emotional intelligence means you might stop to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes rather than just sledging them. Maybe they’re acting like a jerk because something is going on for them that you have no knowledge of. Or maybe you’ve just got the bull by the tail and haven’t got the whole story anyway. Being emotionally intelligent may mean that you deal with your dirty laundry privately and upfront. Rather than air it in front of the world. Emotional intelligence may mean that you find a way to forgive someone for being a jerk rather than let them get control over how you feel. After all, the way we choose to respond is always our choice.
Feelings come and go. But words sent out into cyberspace have the potential to stick around for years to come. Because mud sticks. And the only winners in the increase in online defamation cases are the lawyers.
Emotional intelligence is one of life’s greatest skills. Not only can it save you a lot of grief it helps you create a lot more happiness.
So how can you develop your emotional intelligence?
So it’s one of my greatest regrets. Selling our home on a double block in the leafy suburb of Strathfield in Sydney. And while I don’t regret our move to the country, keeping the house would have been a great business decision. Looking at those Sydney prices it’d be worth millions now. That hurts!
And while Sydney may seem out of reach for most first home buyers, an article that came my way about four sisters that busted $182K dollars worth of debt in just 2 years shows there’s a way to deal with those big dollar issues.
And the solution is in joining forces.
Story has it that these four 20 something year old girls were sick of their debt. All the usual stuff. Car loans, student loans, credit cards. And doing it on their own was going to make it a long, slow process. But then one of them had a brilliant idea. If they combined their income to blast out that debt, they’d be debt free so much quicker. Getting rid of the smaller debts first so they could whack all that money on the next biggest debt. Exactly what our Beyond Success Debt Terminator is designed to do. It’s not rocket science, but it does take discipline.
As one of the four sisters said, emotional setbacks were overshadowed by the amount of traction they were hitting with their debt. Today the girls are debt free and enjoying a holiday together with their parents – paid for upfront and in cash.
European families have been doing this for years. Generations banding together to help each other get ahead. And it seems to me if you want to get into the property market, and it’s a stretch on your own, banding together is a great way to go. Maybe you put the deposit together to help your kids get a foot in and then they pay you rent to pay off the mortgage. One day it will be theirs anyway. Maybe you buy a dual occupancy with your inlaws and you get into the suburb of your dreams but you’ve each got your own space. Or you live in one and rent out the other. Maybe as a family you all band together to buy one investment property, build the equity super quick and then do it all again.
The options are limitless when you start to think about the buying power that comes when you join forces. Just ask any IGA.
So what are your financial dreams?
How can you make them a reality?
PS: Make sure you watch our facebook page in the coming weeks for a great read on how the sisters beat their debt.
Have you seen it yet? Inside Out? Such a great little movie about all those emotions we have running around inside our heads. And how important they all are. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. Turns out the ‘bad’ aren’t so bad after all and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll just have to go see it for yourself.
With Disney in on the importance of emotional intelligence, kids around the world now have a chance to learn something better than the stiff upper lip of previous generations. And that’s a great thing. Because as Jill Bolte Taylor puts it we are feeling beings that think. Not the other way round as most of the world wants us to believe.
Just stop and think about that for a moment.
We are feeling beings – that think.
So we really need to learn to manage our emotions if we want to succeed in life.
The thing is when we stick our heads in the sand or up the proverbial trying to pretend we don’t feel something it doesn’t work. Because the basis of our biology is emotional. Which means incoming information that enters your body every second of every day is processed by your emotional brain first. Only then does it hit our conscious awareness so you can think about it. So trying to pretend we don’t have emotions is no different to pretending we don’t have legs. And unless you’re a double amputee, we all have them. And we all have emotions. So it makes sense to learn how to manage them. How to master them.
It will be a great day when our kids report cards measure EQ as well as IQ. Maybe Disney has taken us one step closer. Our emotions, the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ are there to protect us. They need to be felt. Not rationalised. Not ignored. Not suppressed. Emotions need to be felt.
So one of my staff was up in Sydney on the weekend and she happened to catch the news. And she couldn’t wait to share it. Because word is they are selling an entire street in the Sydney suburb of Castle Hill.
It seems a genius couple have got together and talked their neighbours into selling 20 properties all in one line. A massive 1.9 hectares. Talk about creative thinking. A developers dream and cash cow in the making. Projected returns are huge. Last year when 8 neighbours got together in Epping the properties sold collectively for $30 million. They made $3.75 million each on houses that would normally have sold for $1.2 million stand alone. Pure genius. That’s money in the bank.
And the best thing about these situations is that it’s win-win. The abundant thinking of a couple willing to share their idea with others is a win-win for all involved. The neighbours. The developers. And the very lucky agent.
Getting away from being locked into traditional ways of thinking can open up so many opportunities that you might not otherwise see. And sometimes the best ideas come together when we are prepared to join forces with others. When we are prepared to network. In business circles it’s called a joint venture. And it’s a great way to make things happen by leveraging the best of what we all have to offer.
I was at the bank the other day and noticed their new advertising campaign. Invest in yourself: The right mentor matters.
It sure does.
Their poster boy of choice is Jamie Oliver. As they say, even Jamie has a mentor. Italian chef Gennaro Contaldo. And it makes sense doesn’t it. To achieve that level of success, there must be have been somebody to guide him. Somebody to teach him the skills he needed to make it all happen. Somebody wiser and more experienced.
While mentoring is an age old practice, it’s becoming increasingly popular in the modern world. Because mentoring is one of those great life-hacks. In business, in sport, in career development, in fact in every aspect of life. When you have a burning desire to create something in your life, having another person to learn from short cuts your path to success. With someone to show you the ropes you can avoid many of the mistakes that come with inexperience.
So how do you choose a great mentor?
Jamie Oliver had a burning desire to make the world’s best pasta. Now that’s quite a goal when you consider he’s not Italian. He wasn’t after fame and fortune. He just wanted to make the world’s best pasta. And with his passion, drive and crystal clear focus, that goal led him to find Gennaro Contaldo. But finding Gennaro was one thing – getting Gennaro to agree to be his mentor was not so easy. It took persistence, strategy and making himself into the best mentee possible so that Gennaro couldn’t say no. Gennaro had so much experience and here was a young man who valued what he knew enough to want to learn from him. And because he believed in him, Jamie’s passion lit a fire in his mentor too. A win-win situation. Now as a celebrity chef with a string of restaurants spanning the world the rest, as they say, is history.
So if you’ve got a burning passion to do something, get really clear on what you want so you can find a mentor that’s the right fit. You might be amazed at who will turn up in your life when you really get focused. Then make yourself into the best possible mentee so when you approach them they can’t say no. Be persistent, be creative, be willing to sacrifice time wasting activities, be willing to listen, be willing to ask and be willing to be accountable – not only to your mentor but yourself as well.
A good mentor – mentee relationship is a winning combination. Terms like life-hack have become common place, but have you stopped to consider what they really mean?
To hack, or short cut, your way to success by using someone else’s knowledge and experience. To avoid pitfalls, to play to your strengths and improve your weaknesses because a more practiced eye is watching over you. What an idea!
Obviously that’s something we wanted to be a part of, so we set up a mentoring program of our very own. The basis for that program is to provide proven strategies for success, in any area, at a price that makes the decision a ‘no brainer’.
Because that’s how passionate we are about helping people, and we truly believe mentoring is at the heart of that.
If you agree, give us a call now.
Imagine how far you could go…
One of the most regularly touted success tips is ‘get a mentor’. And with good reason. Countless über successful sports stars, business men, politicians, developers, artists and entrepreneurs have stated that a great mentor has been a critical factor in their success.
Obviously you need to find a mentor in your area and work with them. We can’t recommend that course of action highly enough.
While you’re working on that, check out our list of success tips from some of the most successful individuals of the last 50 years.
Work even a few of the strategies below into your daily life and you’ll be rocketing toward incredible success before you know it!
He’s the only entrepreneur to have built eight separate billion-dollar companies in eight different industries — and he did it all without a degree in business.
Branson recently released his top ten tips for success. Here’s the cliff notes:
Follow your dreams and just do it
Make a positive difference
Believe in your ideas and be the best
Have fun and look after your team
Don’t give up
Make lots of lists and set yourself new challenges
Spend time with your family and learn to delegate
Turn off the tv and get out there and do things
When people say bad things about you, just prove them wrong
Do what you love and have a sofa in your kitchen
That’s a pretty solid list from a man who really knows what he’s on about.
Oprah once famously shared, “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”
She believes that the key to achieving your dreams is to not focus on success itself.
“What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can’t make success your goal,” says Oprah. “The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant – and the success will naturally follow.”
“You become what you believe,” she adds. “You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.”
Oprah also thinks it is important to recognise and seize opportunities. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” she says.
We don’t conquer the mountain, it’s us we need to beat.
And watching Nick Kyrgios in action this week the truth of that is pretty clear. Because the very thing that makes Nick such an awesome tennis player is the very thing that causes him so much grief. That “nothing will get in my way – go for it” attitude, which has him going for shots no-one else would even think of, is also his Achilles heel. Causing him to behave in ways that on reflection won’t be his proudest moments.
Being a Canberra boy, our local radio station has been kinder than the rest of the media. And yesterday they made a good point. That Nick’s biggest opponent is not the guy at the other end of the court. His biggest opponent is himself. And what’s going on between his ears. By his own admission, Kyrgios will be the first to tell you there’s a lot of stuff going through his head. It’s hard enough to work yourself out even without the pressure of the world watching your every move.
When it all boils down to it, the real game in life is the one you play when you go up against yourself. And when you’re not centred, not in control of yourself, your game will always be less than your best. Unfortunately for Nick Kyrgios he is learning this on the world stage. But watching Nick reminds me it’s a lesson for all of us.
I came across a headline the other day. How to make millions out of idea sex. Great title. It sure grabbed my attention. And reading on the article described how G.I. Joe came into being. The action figure that has made millions for the company that owns the rights and is now a movie. It all started like this. Two separate ideas that got together.
A doll + action = G.I. Joe.
That’s idea sex.
And that’s where great ideas often come from. Bringing things together in new and never before thought of ways. And there are heaps of examples. As daggy as it is there’s the American Spork (we have the Splayd), a combination knife, fork and spoon that does the job perfectly. For us blokes we’d probably prefer the Bar-B-Mate which slices, dices, pierces and scrapes those steaks to perfection. And speaking of steak, a good red goes well. The screw cap replacing good old fashioned cork. Getting away from food for a minute what about Crocs – waterproof clogs that began their days in European day spas and now span across the globe. And then theres the Cronut. The brainchild of chef Dominique Ansel, it’s a donut crossed with a croissant and it’s taken the world by storm. There’s even a page on his website dedicated to how to get your hands on one of these. It’s not easy and that’s a genius part of the marketing that has caused the Cronut to go viral.
Great ideas are often just a combination of two other elements. It’s not rocket science. Maybe you have to work your way through a few combinations before you find a winner, but persistence is everything. Did I mention the original G.I. Joe prototype sold at auction for $US200,000?
Learning to handle stress well is one of the most important life skills to master. If we can stay true to the best version of ourselves during difficult or stressful periods, then success will come a lot easier.
Until sitting down to make this list I hadn’t thought about how many challenging times I’ve lived through.
So far I’ve managed to survive…
Forty amazing and challenging years with my beautiful wife Mary. If you’re married – you’ll know what I mean.
Living in a caravan with no running water and no electricity for 18 months.
A bushfire that ravaged the 50 square kilometres of native forest our wooden house was built in the middle of. Mary and I ended up on the roof of the house listening to the deafening roar of the wall of flames rushing at us.
A terminal illness. In 2003, I was diagnosed with cancer and given three years to live. I’m cancer free and delighted to be 12 years down the track.
31 years in the same business, doing what I love, despite often being close to the edge of the cliff.
The death of my little sister.
I imagine that list isn’t so different than the average person’s. Perhaps it just feels big because it’s mine.
Of course, those are just the ‘big’ events. Daily life can be pretty stressful when you’re flying all over the country, speaking to hundreds of people at a time, running a business and juggling a family life.
So – what do I do to keep myself stress free?
Here’s the five things that work for me, without fail. Try them out and see how you go.
“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.” Eckhart Tolle
There is nothing like ‘just being’. It’s a fantastic way to centre and relax yourself and can be particularly great during busy, stressful times because you only need fifteen minutes. It often brings with it desperately needed perspective.
Here’s an excerpt on stillness from my book, Beyond Success.
“Stillness is close relative of mindfulness, though we don’t have to focus consciously on the moment – it’s a method of just being. Silence is often a critical aspect of any practice involving stillness. This almost simultaneously defies definitive description and is stunningly simple.
For example, many people visit our home and express how beautiful it is. Yet when pressed they are unable to answer exactly what it is that has struck them.
Of course it’s not the house itself – it’s the 250 acres of native Australian bush surrounding it that hits them. Standing in the middle of a paddock that appears to be endless, timeless and serenely, silently, still can have a profound effect on someone used to traffic noise, streetlights and the frenetic need to do something, whatever that might be. The impact is even greater on those who visit on a clear night and see the Milky Way in the sky.
We can lose our connection to our spirit by being away from nature too long, but even people that are lucky enough to live in magical environments can let them become familiar and fail to notice them at all. Strange as it may sound, this trap is one I have fallen into more times than I care to mention, so now I grow veggies in a patch out the back. Tending the garden drags me out there when I think I don’t have time and causes me to slow down and connect with what I call the Great Spirit. Watering, weeding and wondering can’t be rushed. Sometimes I think growing the veggies does me more good than eating them.
I have two other favourite ways to practice stillness.
The first is that every now and then I take the dog up into the top paddock (15-minute walk), light a fire, boil the billy, make and drink a cup of tea. The time required to gather the firewood, get it cranked up and then boil the water is enough to slow me down and lower the pressures of the day to the correct level. Drinking the tea without burning my mouth can’t be rushed either.
This kind of contemplative time revives, refreshes and renews. I take the dog because it can’t talk and loves me just as I am. It’s happy and eager to go wherever I decide, and coming back home is as big an adventure as leaving. This kind of companionship might be ruined with words.
The second is that I keep a Zen (kind of) calendar on the bedside table. One of my children usually gives me one for Christmas. It is designed to display one day at a time, and I rip yesterday’s off each morning to look at today’s. Each page has a short piece of wisdom written on it, in addition to the date.
On arising from bed, I like to grab the top one, read it, and then contemplate the message of the day for a few moments before heading off to the shower. It usually takes less than a couple of minutes, but it sets up the entire bathroom-thinking time to run along a sequence inspired by that original insight. It’s much better than dwelling on how many jobs there are on today’s schedule and winding up on the day before it has even started. Not only is it a better way to start the day – because I travel inwards instead of into the future – but it also means I turn up for breakfast in less of a rush and much more at peace.
I should add that these two little routines have provided me with tremendous insight because my most inspired thoughts turn up during this still time.”
What does that look like for you?
Only you can really answer that. Suffice it to say you need to find at least three ways you can practice stillness that really do it for you.
Remember – stillness does not necessarily mean being physically stationary. Stillness happens when you are experiencing harmony with yourself and the world around you. It can be discovered any time there is total, uninhibited participation in the current moment.
Here’s a few ideas:
Find a spot in nature you can just sit and enjoy the view
Get a ‘zen garden’ to play with (one of the tabletop sand and stone setups you can play with)
Take ten minutes at least two times per day to just sit and breathe deeply
Find a place where you can have quiet time (i.e. actually seek out a lack of sound)
Disconnect from your technology and devices for an evening
Give Tai Chi or Qi Gong a go
Spend uncluttered time just being totally present with a pet
The (many) benefits of meditation have been scientifically proven over and over again. From improved brain function and a better mood to better physical health and everything in between, meditation is the king of personal effectiveness tools.
There’s little new I can add other than this: find a version of meditation that works for you and get it into your daily routine.
My personal experience is that meditation consistently delivers calmness even when there is a storm raging around me.
There are plenty of free meditations available on the internet. You can even just play some peaceful music while you close your eyes and breathe deeply. The key is to find a quiet place, sit comfortably, focus on your breathing (it needs to be slow and deep) and stay in the moment. If your mind wanders, just gently bring it back. Don’t judge.
Creativity is an excellent way to tap into the part of your brain that doesn’t ‘wind up’ with stress. It forces a step away from the pressures of the daily grind and brings you into the moment. Creativity is also an excellent way to get in touch with yourself.
Try whatever works for you – painting, drawing, writing, designing houses, DIY, playing music or dancing. If it’s something creative you can get lost in, it’s perfect.
I spent a few years in oil painting classes, but my lack of talent halted any genuine desire to stick with it. Creative writing has become special for me and I’ve been lucky enough to find an avenue to make some money with it via my books. That said, the process satisfies the part of me that yearns to contribute far more than the money ever will.
Here’s a few ideas:
Get into DIY projects
Try learning an instrument
Go to a dance class
There’s something about getting your hands in the dirt and being a part of nurturing growth that defies description. Gardening gets you connected in a way that is difficult to replicate with other activities.
I absolutely love to grow tomatoes. I’m quite content buying everything else at the Farmers Market. My entire garden is planted with tomatoes because when there’s too many for me to eat, I find great joy in making tomato sauce to give to my friends. I couldn’t pay enough for the look on their faces when they get a bottle of sauce. The cost per bottle on that sauce is ridiculous if you consider my time, but that’s part of the fun.
So find a way to get your hands in the dirt! If you’ve got the room, start a garden. If not, find a local plot you can use, or try gardening in pots. You might even find someone who doesn’t have time to garden but will let you use their yard for a share of the crops.
Find Excitement, Adventure & Joy
I cannot tell you how important this is. Find something that makes your heart swell and your face split with a smile so big it hurts. Then do it as regularly as you can.
This is a fantastic stress reduction technique, because it’s hard to be stressed when you’re having so much fun. Sure, the things that were putting the pressure on are still there, but you’ll handle them much better when you’ve balanced them out with some fun.
I own a stupidly powerful, absolutely gorgeous, unreasonably loud Harley that sits in our back yard constantly begging to be ridden. For me, there’s nothing like cranking that bike over into a bend and scraping the pegs while it bellows and scrabbles for traction on the limit.
Obviously that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it makes my heart sing. When I’ve been for a ride, I feel refreshed, reinvigorated and absolutely liberated.
Find whatever makes you feel like that and do it often!
It’s hard to write a list of helpful ideas on this subject because it’s such an individual thing. Just keep trying new things until you find the right feeling, then stick with it.
Remember – just because the world around you is in chaos, doesn’t mean you always need to join in.
So it was a great Sunday in Brisbane mastering stress with Nicholas de Castella this week. And while there are so many ways to diffuse from the pressures in life, the take home message is you’ve actually got to do it! No point in knowing all this stuff if you don’t actually put it into practise.
One of the best ways I know is to live in the moment.
Not worrying about the future, not agonising over the past. Just being in the present moment.
Nicholas gave us a great way to do this. And standing in the rain waiting for a cab this week my boss (and daughter) Julie was able to put it into practise. With it bucketing down in Canberra and Parliament sitting there wasn’t a cab to be seen. Despite the booking nearly 40 minutes earlier. Can’t have those pollies getting wet, can we. So Julz had a choice. She could stand there getting cranky, worrying about where she needed to be and all the things she needed to do… or she could stand there and experience the present moment. The chance to enjoy the sound of rain while she sheltered under cover. The chance to enjoy the luxury of time to breath deeply and just be there. The chance to notice her car getting a good wash. And she could do all of this just by standing in the rain. Not judging the experience. Just being present to it.
No surprises which choice made her feel better and more in control.
What will you choose?
Mastering Stress – tickets still available for Sydney June 28, Melbourne July 5, Adelaide July 26. Call the office (02 6247 8336) to grab your seat.
So what do you do when you’re so successful that you’re limited by your own success?
Well known as THE hangover cure, Berocca have become so successful that they’ve positioned themselves into a corner. Getting back your B-B-Bounce after a big night out has become such a successful marketing campaign that their market has become limited to the brightsparks that drink themselves into oblivion on a regular basis. But what about the teetotallers or those who indulge occasionally but know when to stop short of the drink that will take them into tomorrow’s hangover?
I was watching a new Berocca ad on tv the other night and it’s a stroke of pure genius. Because whoever is driving their new advertising campaign has got it right. What do you do when your product is so successful that you’ve shot yourself in the foot? You get people to view the product in a different light. With just a slight shift in focus, Berocca is now being advertised as the perfect start to a high performance day. And with the option of a hit of Guarana for that extra kick, Berocca’s now got all bases covered. The hangovers and the high performers.
Sometimes a small shift is all that’s required to open up the market.
Have you tried it yet? The Cadbury Chocolate Vegemite combo?
While the jury is still out on whether it actually tastes any good, it’s got me to wondering how many people actually know the real story of how Vegemite got off the ground in the first place.
Because it wasn’t an overnight success.
In fact people hated it.
Almost a century ago, when the war made imports difficult, food entrepreneur Fred Walker saw an opportunity to produce a home grown alternative to Marmite. They called it Vegemite. But it wasn’t popular. A copy cat spread just didn’t seem to impress the public.
Not to be put off, production continued, and to keep things afloat the company diversified into processed cheese by signing on with the US company Kraft (now you know why Kraft appears on the label). This smart move took the pressure of Vegemite to perform. Lucky they did because it wasn’t until another 15 years later that Vegemite actually took off! Some might say a stroke of luck, but perhaps it was sheer bloody-minded persistence that meant Vegemite got added to the WWII soldier’s ration packs once the health benefits of this great Aussie icon were finally established. Not too mention a great advertising campaign.
Sometimes it’s all about the timing. But when you’ve got to survive in the meantime you often need to diversify.
Got some brilliant ideas that aren’t quite coming together yet?
I came across a story of a woman last week. Her name is Leigh Erceg. And while Leigh grew up living a normal life as a bit of tomboy who loved her sport, at 41 she suffered a traumatic brain injury after a fall.
But here’s the rub. Instead of becoming a vegetable she has become a genius in arts and mathematics. How does that work?
The downside is she can’t remember anything of her life before the fall. So I don’t recommend this as the best way to find your inner genius. But it begs the question… how many hidden abilities are waiting there to be discovered inside all of us?
And Leigh’s not the only one.
What about Melody Gardot who became a legendary singer after she got knocked off her bike when a Jeep ran a red light. The accident left her with a serious brain injury and constant pain but out of desperation she found music heals. And now she gives the world a gift she might never have found otherwise.
Or then there’s brain researcher Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. A chance to study her own brain from the inside when she had a stroke. But instead of a life-sentence it became an opportunity to find her true self. A Nirvana we can all access when we live in the present moment and let go of our emotional baggage. When we discover our connectedness.
Stories such as Jill’s and Leigh’s and Melody’s are just more evidence of the fact that we all have hidden abilities. For some people it takes something tragic to find them (or maybe we just label it tragic but there’s something much greater at work). Others are more fortunate.
Never underestimate your own abilities. My bet is there are many gifts inside you haven’t discovered yet.
So did you see Insight? The stuff that dreams are made of. Winning money, discovering priceless antiques, inheriting a small fortune. Fascinating how many ways you can come into money and the different responses people have, isn’t it.
What about the guy who found $30 million worth of artwork stored in the dirty old garage of the house he’d just bought? Or the couple who won a cool $4 million in the WA lotto with a ticket that was a birthday gift.
So many different reactions both from the winners and their friends and family. All because there are so many different beliefs, different values, different judgements around money.
Take the guy who found the artwork. Savvy enough to recognise the potential and establish clear ownership before having it valued. Now that’s level-headed and makes for handling the $30 million he came into that much easier. And the best bit is that his good fortune had a spin off for others so they too came into some big bucks. He sure had an abundance mentality.
Or the lotto winner that won a half share in £22 million (British pounds that is – just work that one out in Aussie dollars). Twenty years ago it was worth even more. And instead of handing over his fortune to a financial advisor to play the money market he decided to have a go at it himself, have some fun with it and if he lost he’d only be accountable to himself. Now that’s detachment.
And then there’s the young woman that wouldn’t even let herself be identified. Sworn to secrecy by her family over a relatively small inheritance. A nervous breakdown because inheriting money ran so against her beliefs that she should earn all the money that comes to her. Such a tragic example of the power of beliefs around money. Beliefs passed down through generations of a working class family. And the money’s still just sitting there. Imprisoned by their own beliefs it’s not doing anyone any good. Not even the local charity.
In order to resolve the money riddle the first lesson to understand is that it’s not about the money.
Is it time you join us at Resolving the Money Riddle?
Have you ever realised that goals are meaningless when compared to who you have to become to achieve them? That’s the thing. It’s great to set goals, but really it’s all about what you achieve on the way to reaching them.
Because to reach a goal you’ve never achieved before you have to do something different. You have to break out of the habits that have been getting in the way. The things holding you back. The old beliefs. The old ways of thinking. The old ways of responding. You have to become someone different. You have to reinvent yourself in some way becoming a new and greater version of yourself.
Because to create something new in your life you first need to create something new within yourself.
That’s the great thing about having goals. Not only do they give your life meaning (which creates greater health and happiness), goals create the opportunity for personal growth. Because in striving for that goal we have to let our limitations go.
As Sir Edmund Hillary said, ‘We don’t conquer the mountain, it’s us we need to beat’.
Goals give us the chance to realise how really incredible we are. And that means you will ‘get’ a lot more than the goal – but only along the way.
If a 30 second ad can sell you a product, could a 30 minute soap opera sell you a belief system? You betcha it can.
The whole industry of advertising is based on the fact that as humans we are suggestible. In other words, we are capable of taking on other people’s ideas. But it doesn’t just happen in advertising. How many of us have taken on our parents’ ideas, our teachers’, our cultures’, our religions’ without really examining if those ideas are of benefit to us or not.
After all there are so many ideas and beliefs that can sneak in there and really screw us up so it’s really worth checking them out for ourselves.
The problem is we often don’t even realise that those beliefs are there. Taken on board without us even noticing they just tick away at that subconscious level, influencing our thoughts, our actions and in the end the world we create for ourselves.
So how do you uncover the beliefs running your life? You could start by listening to your self-talk. Become the observer. Notice what you say about different aspects of your life. Pick one area, for example let’s say relationships, and begin to notice what you say to yourself about the people in your life. Your feelings, your thoughts. And then notice the patterns. What seems to keep happening in your relationships with others. What do you keep attracting? What do your bust ups, what do your arguments reveal about what you believe?
As Gandhi said, ‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny’. Makes your beliefs pretty important then doesn’t it.
Knowledge is power and once you know what you believe if you don’t like it, you can do something about it.
Are you living your life or someone else’s?
What beliefs are you passing on to those around you?
When Denzel Washington was a younger man an intuitive woman told him that one day he would travel the world and speak to millions of people. Of course, we know that’s exactly what he does… through his movies.
Mary and I learned a really important lesson very early on. We had a goal to give our children a country childhood and we spent a lot of time working on the ‘how’ of making it happen. How we could escape the city and live our dream. The ‘how’ for us was to save like crazy. Saving to purchase our 200 acres, then saving again to build our dream home while we lived in a caravan and washed in a dam.
Being new arrivals in a country town we got ourselves involved in the local country ball held on what is now Dick Smith’s property. You can imagine just what a place this is. It was quite a shindig. And Mary ended up dancing with the gardener. He was living rent free with a small wage to boot and cared for the massive garden in return for his board. It’s amazing how candid people can be. And the truth is he was living the same dream we had only he hadn’t mortgaged himself to the eyeballs to make it happen. It was a huge wake up.
As I’ve heard Mary say so often many people have goals, but give them up because we can’t see ‘how’ to make them happen. But life can be very creative. And it seems life has a way of delivering exactly what we want when we’re really focussed. After all, there are many ways to make something happen. Often the ‘how’ takes care of itself. And often it’s in a way we haven’t even thought of.
Have you ever stopped to watch TED talks? A showcase of the world’s most brilliant thinkers, stretching our minds in never before thought of ways. It’s well worth the time.
I was watching Sir Ken Robinson the other day talking about education. He’s an expert on creativity and he challenges the way we educate our children. The way that most of our schools focus on the analytical subjects like maths and science as the holy grail while devaluing the creative such as art and music. And he made the observation that our education system is designed to mine our minds. All the good stuff stripped away just like you strip a mine of its gold. A terrifying thought. But take a child at a young age, contain them for hours on end, teach them what you want to teach them, repeat it over and over until they know it by rote, test them on it and voila! You’ve implanted a particular way of thinking. And all the good stuff, the natural urge to play, to explore and to create has been stripped away. You’ve created one perfect drone.
And here’s the rub. When you can get a child to think in a particular way, let’s call it a mindset, you block creativity. Because they can only see things the way they have been taught. There’s nothing else on their radar. But creativity is essential to life. It drives everything. It is the source of everything. Take invention. It’s difficult to invent something you haven’t first imagined. And while some people hold up scientific research as the be all and end all, they don’t stop to think that it’s actually creativity that drives the science. After all, you’ve got to have an idea worth researching in the first place. Just look around and you will see the power of creativity at work.
When we’re locked into a particular mindset – about money, about relationships, about our health, about the way we raise our kids, about anything in life – we literally can’t see any other way. Which means we can’t create something new.
So if you want something new in your life, challenge your mindset. Challenge the way you think. Challenge the beliefs you have that have probably been drilled into you by somebody else with another agenda anyway. The good news is that with the right training, those rigid, limiting mindsets can be overcome.
We (like millions of others round the world) were at the Apple Store on Saturday to check out the new Apple watch. And with true Apple genius, the marketing made sure that the April delivery was sold out in record time. Come lunchtime Saturday, our designated appointment time, and less than 24 hours after the sales gate opened, we now have to wait until June to get the goods. They only started selling these babies at 5.01pm the day before.
It seems the world can’t get enough of technology. Devoting hours to waiting – online, in queues, on the phone – to not only get the latest and greatest in the world of technology but also devoting hours to learning how to drive these things. And they are incredible, aren’t they. The world in your pocket. Now it’s on your wrist too.
But have you ever stopped to think that your brain trumps a smart phone, tablet, fancy watch hands down? How crazy is it that we have the most sophisticated piece of technology ever designed sitting right here between our ears, at our disposal 24/7, but few people ever really think about it. Let alone learn to make the most of it. I often wonder what would happen if we spent the same hours using our brains to their full capacity as we do downloading apps and catching up on facebook? I reckon we’d be unstoppable.
After all, there are so many things the brain can do that a bit of man-made technology could never do. Emotional intelligence for instance. Gut instinct has saved many a life. And what about imagination? Mentally rehearsing what we really want in life makes it so much easier to achieve. And while they may be intuitive, these little devices will never be as switched on as the real deal. It’s probably important to remember that the brains behind the leaps in technology are actually real people.
So if you want to learn to make the most of your brain then come, spend a few days with me. I promise you’ll never see the world the same way again.
So I came across a great article last week. A story about a doctor who worked tirelessly around the clock to save the life of a baby boy born prematurely and only given a 50% chance of survival. The boy survived, a medical miracle. He grew up, became a paramedic and now has a family of his own. That was 30 years ago.
But here’s the clincher. That very same doctor all these years later was involved in a car accident. Pinned inside the burning wreck, a paramedic came to his rescue. You guessed it. The very same guy whose life he saved as a baby all those years before. They both saved each other’s lives. Nothing short of incredible. Talk about Karma.
Over the years I’ve seen heaps of examples of this. You know, what goes around comes around. A greater force at work. And regardless of your religious persuasion there seems to be a universal law that what we put out comes back to us in some way, shape or form. Just understanding how the human body responds to love as opposed to hate or fear, it’s clear that when we love another we too experience love and when we hate another, well that takes it’s toll on us too.
What goes around comes around. It makes our thoughts, words and actions important, doesn’t it. No matter how big or small.
Okay, so everyone’s probably heard of six degrees of separation. The theory that every person in the world can connect with any other person in six steps or less. It can be a bit of fun working out just who you’re connected to. I’m two degrees of separation from Lisa Curry Kenny for example having spoken on the same stage.
And then we’re all probably familiar with the idea that emotions spread like viruses. If you’re happy you infect those around you with happy feelings. Unfortunately it’s the same for the chronically cranky. They call that emotional contagion.
Taking these two concepts together you’ve got something pretty incredible.
I heard retired Admiral William McRaven put it like this recently. In a commencement speech at the University of Texas, he talked of creating positive change in the world. How the 8000 graduating students could go out there and make a difference. But not in some general sort of way. Instead he gave solid figures that make great things possible across generations, across the entire globe.
Bascially he said this. That in our lifetime we will on average meet 10,000 people. That’s a lot of people. But if we change the lives of just 10 of those people and those people each change the lives of 10 people and those people another 10 each and so on, then within a hundred and twenty-five years, we would have indirectly contributed to the betterment of 800 million lives. Go one more generation than that and you can change the entire population of the world.
That’s pretty incredible isn’t it.
Touching another person’s life for the better is an incredible gift to both the giver and the receiver.
So you want to get your sales up? Time to get noticed and do something crazy. Just have a look at what some of the giants are doing this week.
Take McDonalds for example. Falling sales because people it seems are (finally) making better food choices. Not to mention the challenge of other competitors in the market stealing some of their market share. So what have they done? Well March 24, they launched a global campaign. Imlovinit took off with 24 different bits of fun in 24 cities around the world over 24 hours. If you were in Sydney you might have got the chance to jump in their giant ball pit in your business suit before being handed a free coffee. Then there was the pyjama party in Italy where people brave enough to be seen in public in their designer pjs (well it was Milan) got VIP treatment McDonalds style. In NZ Big Mac boxes got musical and played a tune when you opened the lid. A pop up library in Paris got attention from the small ones. And my personal favourite, Brazil… the ice ticket carved with the golden arches dispensed from a vending machine at the beach you had to redeem before it melted. Needless to say people were running to the store. Pure genius.
While back home in downtown Canberra we have the retail giant IKEA finally opening it’s doors. No more trips to Sydney to bring home the flat packs. And this week the big yellow letters on the bright blue store are the lead news item. But IKEA are leaving nothing to chance. They’ve done their research and they know exactly what Canberrans want in their homes. So they’re stocking the store and to guarantee the customers you can bet they’ve got a grand opening campaign on a massive scale in the making. It’s anyone guess what that could be. They’ve already done in-store weddings, in-store sleepovers, giant ‘rock-climbing’ walls made out of IKEA furniture. Crazy stuff and lots of fun. Guaranteed to get people interested. Guaranteed to get people excited. Guaranteed to get people wanting to buy.
In business, you’ve got to engage people. Because people buy for emotional reasons. All sorts of stuff and not necessarily because they need it or want it. But because they want to be part of the action. They want to belong.
So what sort of fun could you put together to get your business noticed?
Have you seen Shark Tank? It’s got me hooked. And my GM (aka daughter Julie) tells me the US version is even better. Budding entrepreneurs who pitch their dreams to a panel of seasoned players who’ve made it big in the business world. It’s fascinating to watch as these guys learn what works… and what clearly doesn’t.
And while it’s important to know your numbers when you’re standing in front of a panel of potential investors, it’s equally important to know your market. What strikes me in watching this show is just how many people have failed to do their market research. Sure they might have a great product, but is anyone asking for it? In other words, do they even have a market. Take the coffee guy for instance. Obviously he loves his coffee. But how many kids are going to want espresso written across the front of their teddy bear?
In developing a new business idea one of the most important things to consider is what the market is asking for. What do your potential buyers actually want? What is it that will meet their need, fix their problem, take away their pain. And it may be that the brilliant idea you thought you had is actually not a goer at all. Because nobody really wants it.
Having your own business is the best way I know to break free of selling your time for money. But as Stephen Covey says ‘First things first’. Before you go throwing thousands of dollars at your great idea, check out what people are asking for. And if they’re not asking for your product, chuck it away now – and go get another one they really do want. Only then can you begin to develop it.
How much fun did you have as a kid that you don’t have now?
I was a teacher once. And looking back I reckon kids have so much to teach us as adults rather than just the other way round. It’s just so tragic that we can grow up and lose so much of our natural born curiosity and energy for life. Doesn’t happen to all of us, but it does happen far too often.
So what do kids know about how to do life better than most adults?
First of all they are SPONTANEOUS
As Nike says Just Do It! And kids sure do. Okay so they don’t always stop to consider the consequences but at least they have a go. As adults, how many of us take so long to work out if something is the right thing for us that we miss the whole damn opportunity? Kids are spontaneous. They know how to shake things up. And that keeps life exciting.
Being spontaneous, they know how to LIVE IN THE MOMENT
How good would it be to be so in the moment that nothing else matters? And sure it drives us crazy but what a fantastic way to be. So absorbed in what you’re doing that you lose track of time and place. Now that’s really living, not just existing.
And then they’re PERSISTENT
How great are kids at nagging you for something they want. Wearing you down like dripping water. And they won’t give up until you give in. They’re pretty smart. Even when you say no they find a way to persist.
That’s because they’re SINGLE- MINDED
When they want something they just go after it with both barrels. And nothing will distract them.
Not to mention they QUESTION EVERYTHING
Until they get their own way. Sure it another thing that drive’s you crazy. But I reckon one of the greatest attributes of leaders is to challenge the status quo and bring about change for the better. So questioning is something we should encourage don’t you think.
And I guess kids are just NATURALLY INQUISITIVE
Get into everything don’t they. We’re all born with a zest for life. The naturally inquisitive gene is there, it just gets hidden over the years as the day to day grind wears us down. But just stop and watch any kid pull something apart to find out how it works. Do you remember ever doing the same thing?
Last and probably most importantly kids know how to PLAY
And if we do more of that too, it will keep us young and vibrant and healthy.
Learning to let go of the seriousness of life even for just a little while is so good for us.
So what can you do today to let your inner child in you come out to play?
While the debate continues over the rights and wrongs of the death penalty for Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, something quite profound was said earlier this week that’s really relevant to our personal development journey. That these two men are so much more than just their crimes. The integrity they’ve demonstrated in their last ten years behind prison walls seems to confirm this too. Young men with heart that in their youth made a terrible and stupid mistake.
That’s true for all of us isn’t it. Because we’re all guilty of stupid mistakes. Doing things that are not in line with our real selves. Maybe not to the same degree. Or then again maybe we have. Caught up in a moment of temporary insanity making rash decisions that we later regret. Doing our best to balance the competing emotions that drive us but not thinking things through in the heat of the moment.
But we are all so much more than our actions aren’t we.
One of the most important aspects of healing is to learn forgiveness not only for others but for ourselves. What is done is done. Nothing can undo it. But owning our mistakes and then letting them go allows us to move forward and live a better life.
Understanding that we are ‘perfect’ human beings regardless of the things we have done or failed to do is so important.
What do you need to forgive yourself for in your past?
I had my windscreen washed again the other day. And as I stopped at the lights and admired the agility of this humble man dancing between the cars on Northbourne Avenue, I thought of the lessons he is teaching all of us, if only we are open enough to stop and realise.
Each day at the lights washing windscreens for example you might not consider him a business man. But that’s exactly what he is. Talk about committed, he’s out there in almost every type of weather. The freezing cold right through to the stinking hot days that are this city. And he’s probably earning more per hour than most, with very few overheads. Now that’s smart. And simple. Sometimes it pays to keep things simple.
But even more than the simplicity of his business I am struck by the way he mirrors back to us our own version of humanity. Some people are uncomfortable with a man washing windows on one of the busiest corners in the city centre. Even to the extent of hurling abuse and condemnation. And then there are others who see a fellow human being, acknowledging him with a smile as they agree to the wash or not. I know who I’d rather be around.
Isn’t it interesting how the same situation, the same person can cause such different responses? I’ve come to the conclusion that it really all boils down to our beliefs about what’s right and the judgements we attach. It’s simple really. The more tolerant and accepting we are, the happier we are. Because when we live like this, there’s very little to get worked up about really.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others is to learn acceptance. Of other people, of other beliefs, of other situations. So the next time you find yourself in a situation that rattles your cage, just take a moment to find out what the lesson in it is for you.
Are you locked into the habit of easy judgement? After all, does it really matter?
How much better could life be if you responded differently?
There was a collective sigh in Canberra yesterday. The relief of parents with their kids finally back to school. Even if it meant getting up extra early to deal with the morning chaos. The happy dance as you give them a kiss and drop them at the front gate and head back into the traffic that reflects the return to school. The peace that descends as you can finally take a moment for yourself and release that sigh.
I remember those days. A chance to be able to gather yourself again and pick up where you left off last year before all the fun of Christmas and kids at home for the long haul that is the great Australian summer school holidays. And it dawned on me that for all these parents TODAY is really the first day of their new year. A fresh start to rediscover who they are and the little voice of wisdom inside that we have to go quiet to really hear clearly. So Happy New Year! I wonder if you’ve realised that this is your opportunity to take stock, get clear and refocus without the distractions that necessarily come with the pitter patter of tiny feet. As welcome as they are most of the time.
So if you think the new year has started and you’ve already blown the chance to set some goals, think again. After all, every day is a new beginning. And the beginning of this school term may well be the very best time you will ever have to refocus and dream about where you want to be this time next year.
So where will you be this time next year?
What will you look back and see that you have achieved?
Just down the road, in the middle of Canberra something special happened on Sunday. Because January 25, on the eve of Australia Day, we stopped as a nation once again to recognise those people who are contributing something significant to the country. Our Australians of the Year. And while there were many deserving nominees, I know there are many more who are working quietly and tirelessly for the good of others. Just so incredibly inspiring.
And as I hear the stories of Rosie Batty, Juliette Wright, Drisana Levitzke-Gray and Jackie French, it occurred to me once again how many extraordinary ideas come from ordinary everyday people. People just like you and me. People who see an opportunity to make a difference. And do it. To give what they can however small. Even out of their own grief and pain or challenge.
The benefits in giving are there for both the giver and receiver. The joy and satisfaction in knowing that you’ve made a difference. That you’ve helped changed someone’s life for the better. Most people don’t stop to think about the fact that you can actually see the brain register this chemistry of joy and all the good feelings that flow from it. These are life-giving benefits. It’s no wonder that studies show people with meaning and purpose live longer.
Australia Day is our day to remember just how fortunate we are. We are still the lucky country. And as one proud Australian so beautifully said, we all have a gift and if we each focus on utilising that gift for the benefit of others how much more extraordinary will our country – and our world – be.
A civil war is never a good thing. A country divided will always lose. But that’s exactly what’s happening when we’re fighting against ourselves. Those hidden beliefs that keep us locked into patterns we no longer want in our lives. Picking the wrong partners, jobs, investments. Unable to break through those unwanted feelings. Continually missing those goals we strive so hard to achieve.
As I said at a recent workshop, when you go up against something self-generated it will nail you.
And that’s why we need to get our subconscious minds on the same page as what we want consciously. Because otherwise all those early learned beliefs and experiences, that are probably not even relevant anymore, could be the very things that are keeping us from what we want. Holding us back when we are striving so hard to move forward.
Fact is, no matter how hard we try to achieve those things (conscious level effort), if we’re working against our own deeply held beliefs (subconscious processes) we’re just never going to get there. It’s a mind divided.
And while it may seem that your subconscious is out to get you, it’s not. That part of you is just doing its best to protect you. But doing its best may well be based on out dated information you no longer need that’s just getting in the way.
So as you set your new year goals, it’s essential to ensure that you get your subconscious on the job too. Because when you change what’s going on at that deeper subconscious level, life has no choice. It must change around you.
Did you know you people are twice as likely to cough at a concert than they are in day to day life? How weird’s that! And while it may be that people are just strangely uncomfortable at some level with sitting in silence (and cough to break it up), perhaps it’s because they are actually trying so hard not to cough that it actually makes the coughing worse. In some concerts they actually put a message across before the start telling people not to cough. No pressure there.
Have you ever tried not to do something?
It’s called the law of reversed effect. And basically this law states that the more we consciously focus on trying NOT to do something, the more we’re guaranteed to get it. In other words, what we resist persists. And of course when you’re ‘trying’ are you really going to achieve it anyway? Trying is just plain hard work.
How many of you know someone desperate to achieve something and when they finally give up trying it all just seems to fall into place?
Understanding how the mind works is so important if you want to achieve your goals. Just think about it for a minute… if you’re trying not to do something where’s your focus? It’s on exactly what you don’t want to be doing. It’s on exactly what you don’t want to happen. And there bang in the middle of your mind is exactly the picture of what it is you don’t want! Talk about sending yourself the wrong message. How many people live their lives focussed on exactly what they don’t want? No wonder there’s so many unhappy people out there.
But what happens if we focus on what we do want instead? Get really clear on what we want out of life. What we want to achieve. We send ourselves a different message, don’t we. We give ourselves a different picture to go after. And once we have that in mind, and we’ve taken all the action steps we need to, letting go and trusting our subconscious to go out there and make it happen, it really does take all the hard work out of it.
So next time you’re trying not to do something, take a minute and rethink it.
I heard a baby boomer having a go at a young entrepreneur the other day. Money for nothing he called it. And he would see it that way. Because his beliefs blind him to the work that goes into developing your own business. The investment of time, energy, money, ideas. The cost and challenge of franchising. The responsibility for everything. Not to mention the risk that it won’t work. But as a typical Aussie he is blinded by his work ethic and dislike for tall poppies. In his belief system, much easier, much safer, more morally right to sell time for money as he did. Talk about being imprisoned by your own thinking.
But this business has triumphed and is working very successfully making its young owner a great deal of money for all her hard work and efforts. And in the reward of these great profits, this young entrepreneur is perfectly placed to give something back to the community. Because she now enjoys a greater freedom of time and money for which she has worked hard. Which means she is free to share this with others.
The good news is this is happening on a global scale. Take the Pathway from Poverty programme in the States. The giant IBM teaming up with a New York high school to help kids in poverty learn real life skills to take them into the workforce with starting salaries of $40K and a mentor to boot. An apprenticeship programme within the school curriculum. Smart huh! I heard they’re in the process of launching something similar in Australia. But it takes money and time to pull this off and that is something successful entrepreneurs have where government coffers may not.
And what about actor Paul Newman? He built an awesome business that continues to give millions to charities all around the world even after his death. Something like $USD 400 million to date. How many lives has that changed for the better?
When you think about the fact that in Australia alone stats show 60,000 low income working families in Australia go without meals and one million children go to school without breakfast or to bed without dinner every day I think we all have a moral obligation to be as successful as we can be so we can make a difference. Don’t you?
Where can you help out others through your success?
During our recent coaching tele class we touched on the importance of meaning and purpose. Of finding our reason for being. And it’s so important to have something in our lives that’s significant, isn’t it. Something significant that’s outside of us. Something greater than ourselves.
I think Viktor Frankl probably puts it best ‘Ever more people today have the means to live but no meaning to live for’. That makes it a pretty empty life, doesn’t it.
So how do you find your meaning.
How do you find your reason for being?
After surviving years in a concentration camp, Frankl came to the conclusion that meaning can be found in a number of ways. And probably the most obvious is in giving something back to the world. In other words contributing your energies to something significant outside yourself for the benefit of others. The men in the camp for instance who comforted others rather than giving in to the horror of their own situation. All great people do this, don’t they. The return on investment in heartfelt giving is beyond measure.
But meaning can also be found by interacting authentically with others. Being true to ourselves. Being real. I guess you might call this meaningful interaction. And we’ve probably all had the experience of connecting deeply and meaningfully with another person. It’s precious beyond words.
And then there’s the meaning we can allow ourselves to experience when we change our attitude toward a situation we cannot control. If we can’t change something we can change the way we look at it. And the insights can be mind-blowing.
Brass tacks… to live with meaning is to ensure your own health and wellbeing.
Mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
So how do you get there?
For those of you haven’t discovered it yet the answer’s really simple. Just keep doing stuff. After all, stagnation leads nowhere.
So just keep doing the things you love and it might just be the meaning you seek will find you more quickly than you realise.
You get out of it what you put into it. Remember that old adage? It’s a recipe for life, isn’t it. If you want to be fit, you’ve got to put aside the time for training. If you want to be a success in business, you’ve got to invest in developing a solid strategy. If you want to have great relationships… well you’ve got to turn up.
But what if you invest too much? Or in the wrong direction?
Could you be barking up the wrong tree?
I’ve seen people frustrated with what they’ve achieved or failed to achieve despite all the hard work they’ve put in. Have you ever reached a goal only to realise it’s not actually what you wanted to achieve? While intention and action are important, even more so is the course of your action. Because you need to check if the effort you are putting in is in line with your values.
Could you actually be overdoing it with too much effort?
Is that even possible?
It is if you’re headed in the wrong direction.
Take a successful business exec for instance. A massive income with recognised success but at what cost if working a 100 hour week is not what he values. Yes, he’s putting massive effort in, but is it directed toward getting what he values most? Maybe not if all he wants is to be around to see his kids grow up. Or the business owner investing lots of energy into developing the next ‘great idea’ only to find out later it’s already out of date. And then there’s the frustration of putting heaps of time and effort into loving the people around you, but if you’re not speaking their love language, you might miss the mark completely despite your best intentions.
While results are often proportional to the investment, massive effort on its own is certainly not a promise of success. Because you need to check that you’re actually on course. That your actions and efforts are aligned with your values and the very best strategy for achieving your goals.
Just like with sailors who have a destination in mind, we often need to adjust our sails to get there. Repeatedly.
Perhaps it’s time to take a look at what you’ve achieved. Is it where you want to be? If it is, congratulations! If it’s not, maybe this is a great opportunity to check on what you’ve been doing and tweak things a little to help you get to where you actually want to be.
There’s a silent protest going on this morning. With a police presence of two, it’s not what you would call disruptive. But it is impactful all the same. It’s hard to ignore people of Chinese background dressed in yellow with large banners calling for the persecution of Falun Gong to end. And for the illegal trafficking of human organs to stop.
Witnessing the protest this morning reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in a country that allows us to pursue our own spiritual beliefs and way of thinking with relative freedom. Some things we take for granted. Standing there silently, allowing their presence to speak for itself, it is difficult to comprehend the persecution of people that uphold truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. But then, that’s the history of the world, isn’t it.
Watching these people, I am reminded of Mary’s take on things when things are not right. ‘Be an immoveable object’, she says. Respectful yes, but grounded and immoveable when things just have to change. From first hand experience, the power in that is quite a force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen many people back down under that energy.
Sometimes the greatest strength is not physical. You only have to look at some of our greatest leaders to see that in action.
Where can you make things better by becoming an immoveable object?
I spoke with someone struggling last week with an unjust situation. It’s been going on for a while now and was coming to a head. Not surprisingly feelings of powerlessness and being out of control were letting resentment in. And while that’s just another feeling and needs to be validated, in my experience it’s not one we want to hold on to for very long either, because it can cause us massive damage internally.
My words to her – let the universe take care of him.
Not always easy I know. And I don’t mean do nothing. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and those you love. But know that the other person in the situation is here learning their life lessons too.
When we trust the universe to take care of things it takes a whole lot of load off our own shoulders, doesn’t it.
In trusting the universe to take care of them we can also protect ourselves from the damage that comes with resentment and anger. Not to mention the fact that the other person is already getting their just deserts… they have to live with themselves. And while the consequences of that may not be apparent at first, when you treat another human being with anything less than respect and love in the end it takes its toll.
I remember reading about a man in an horrific situation. One of the worst you could ever imagine. It was war and he watched helplessly as his family was shot dead while he was left alive. But he refused to hate the people that took his family from him. Instead, he practised love. Just how he did that remains to be told. But somehow he did it through all the years that followed while he was kept prisoner. At the end of the war the people that liberated him thought he must have only been there a short time because he was so much healthier than the others. But he’d actually been there for quite some time. The difference… those who felt anger and hatred, a very natural human response in those circumstances, aged more quickly than the man who despite everything, somehow found it within him to practise love.
Where can you let the universe take care of things?
You may never know how far a good deed will reach…
Last week, I heard that Sir Nicholas Winton was awarded the Order of the White Lion for saving hundreds of Jewish children from almost certain death in Nazi concentration camps. Now 105 years old, his heroic actions took place so long ago, we can actually see the impact it has had. Generations of impact.
And it all began with a thought. A simple decision to take a trip to Nazi occupied Europe because he was concerned with what was happening there. He wasn’t an official, he wasn’t a peacekeeper, he wasn’t involved in Amnesty International. He was an ordinary bloke who was concerned for his fellow man, woman and child. And what he found was so disturbing to him that he decided to do what he could to help. What he did is nothing short of astounding. Because Sir Nicholas organised the rescue of 669 children, taking each of them by train to Britain and finding foster homes to care for them. I’m pretty sure most of their parents weren’t so fortunate. And he didn’t give up when the going got tough. So strong was his conviction that something must be done, he found a way forward… and he succeeded.
Time has allowed us the gift of seeing what this act of love and bravery has achieved. There are today an estimated 6000 people around the world that owe their very existence to this one man. The Czech government has honoured Sir Nicholas because he gave their children “the greatest possible gift: the chance to live and be free”.
Think you’re too small to make a difference?
How many lives could you touch with your love in action?
I work on the motto that if something is not impossible,
Sometimes it’s the small things that make all the difference, isn’t it. You know, those days that are going pear shaped but we come home to a loving smile. Or it might be a random act of kindness from a complete stranger.
In this case, it was a new pair of thongs. Sparkly diamante ones to be exact. Not my taste. Wouldn’t be a good look. But you should have seen the smile when the gift was given. Hers and mine. She’d been having a hell of a day but something as simple as shifting her focus to the gift of sparkles on the bottom of her feet lifted her out of it.
When we’re having a shocker, it’s easy to go from bad to worse, isn’t it. They don’t call it a downward spiral for nothing. But it seems that if we can pause for a moment to reset ourselves, reset the energy we feel inside, we can change what’s happening around us. That’s a pretty powerful thought, isn’t it. That just by shifting what’s happening inside of us we create the very best opportunity to change what’s happening on the outside. It’s basic psychology really. When we feel like s**t our focus is naturally drawn to more of the same that confirms the way we feel. But when we’re feeling more positive, it’s easy to see the things that make us even happier.
What many people don’t realise is that the reality we experience is directly related to what’s going on in our heads, not what’s happening in the world outside. So I think there’s a lot to be said for finding the silver lining. Or at least something positive to fixate on when it’s all gone to crap. Maybe it’s as simple as taking time out to walk the dog, ride the bike or enjoy the garden. Or looking at a photo of someone we love. Or making the time to pamper ourselves in some way.
As we shift our energy we shift the way we respond to the world. And while we may not be able to change the world, we can change ourselves.
There’s good and bad out there all the time.
What are you focusing on?
What random act of kindness will you do to uplift someone else today?
“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”
Emotional intelligence. If you’ve got it, it’s guaranteed to make your life smoother. But in a world that worships left brain logic, many people don’t even know how to engage their emotional intelligence. Reacting impulsively to the world around them rather than responding intelligently. Being held to ransom by their emotions rather than respecting and managing them appropriately.
Did you know that when it comes to success and happiness, EQ is heaps more important than IQ? Bet they didn’t teach you that at school.
And while you might not be able to do much about your IQ, the good news is emotional intelligence is something you can develop at any age. It’s all about becoming more aware of your self and others. It’s about developing the skills to use your emotions as your guide rather than your master.
If you stop for a minute to consider the energy in any emotion, you’ll realise just what a little power-house you have tucked away inside.
To give you some idea of the importance evolution puts on our emotions just think about the fact that the emotional brain develops second only to the part of the brain that keeps us alive and breathing. It’s the thinking brain that develops last and only out of our emotional brain. How’s that for putting things in perspective?
But how many of us have been taught to harness the power in our emotions?
Any number of people I talk to have grown up in families where emotions are off limits. To survive, you need to bury what you feel. You don’t go there. But like with anything, how can you get good at something you don’t get to practise?
Learning to be able to just sit with your emotions (both the comfortable and uncomfortable) is one of the first steps to emotional intelligence. Being okay that you feel is just what you feel – without judging it good or bad, right or wrong. After all, it’s just a feeling. It’s what we do with it, or because of it, that’s important.
So while the myth that we only use 10% of our brain runs rampant, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we only use a small portion of our intelligence. They don’t call them emotions for nothing. E-motion, that’s energy in motion.
It seems the world has gone to crap at the moment, doesn’t it. Just pick any channel and when it’s not fear and terror, war and invasion seem to be the lead news items.
And it seems to me it all boils down to this… one group of people who have beliefs that are different from another group of people. But they feel so strongly that they are right and the other people wrong that they are prepared to kill or be killed.
Now I’m not in the business of making people right or wrong so I’m not getting into an opinion on it. I’m just looking at it from the outside perspective of seeing that it’s the thoughts in people’s heads, the beliefs they hold, that are causing a whole lot of suffering. For them and those around them. And we can become so locked into our beliefs can’t we. So attached to them we are willing to pay almost any price to defend them.
But it doesn’t just happen on a global scale, does it?
While we’re busy pointing the finger at the wars in other countries how often do we forget the wars we create in our own lives here at home. Family feuds or communities in conflict simply because we have a difference of opinion. But it doesn’t have to be a case of right and wrong, does it. Why can’t we just have a difference of opinion? Why can’t we live and let live?
Tolerance, understanding, acceptance. These are keys words that will make all the difference if we practise them. Creating peace in our lives and those around us. That’s a sign of true inner strength.
As they say, walk a mile…
Where can you practise understanding and acceptance of another’s point of view even if you don’t agree?
So there’s a bit of debate about bucket lists. You know, those lists of all the things you want to do before you kick the bucket. Some experts say they’re essential because they help you to focus on the things that make you happy. A great form of stress relief. And we all know how good that is for you. Giving you something to look forward to and getting the happy juices flowing. It’s about focussing on the things you want to do, rather than letting the things you feel you should do take over. It stimulates creativity, helps you dream bigger and opens possibilities you might never have discovered otherwise.
And of course the fantastic thing about actually writing your bucket list down, is how much easier it becomes to make these things happen. In writing them down those goals actually become tangible. That’s one big step closer to making them real. It’s amazing how things can just take on a life of their own when you set your intention.
And how good do you feel when you actually get to tick them off? I’m all for good feelings. Keeps you healthier. Did I mention that learning new things actually wards off dementia? That’s another big tick for the bucket list.
But then there are other experts who are nothing short of critical of the bucket list. Labelling it as yet another list in a life already dominated by ‘to dos’. A superficial list devoid of true meaning and purpose. Hedonistic, competitive, trite. Striving for happiness outside of ourselves, rather than finding true happiness within. Living for future goals rather than living in the now.
You know, they might have a point.
But I reckon there’s a middle ground.
Because just like with any goal setting, a bucket list is your opportunity to get in touch with your values. Those things that are important to you. And while swimming with dolphins may be something you’d like to do at least once in your life, it may be that saving the reef is also important to you. And while the thrill of skydiving may be your thing, perhaps donating blood once a month is also something you value. Or maybe it’s to start a business that puts shoes on kids feet for free in the parts of the world you’ve discovered on your travels.
Rather than being purely hedonistic, a meaningful bucket list can actually be the means by which to connect with another human being at an even deeper level.
For some people their bucket list is about leaving a legacy.
Take this guy Patrick Soon-Shiong. Ever heard of him? Well just in case you haven’t he’s the world’s richest doctor. Doing all this fancy stuff with the human genome in an effort to eradicate the world of diseases like cancer. But on the side he shoots hoops at home and is a part owner in the Lakers. I often wonder if a bucket list with this sort of balance – passion, purpose and an outlet for just enjoying yourself – is actually the fuel by which you can create the very legacy you want to leave behind. Because when we take time out to just enjoy ourselves we refuel for the longer journey.
The thing is when we are living a life aligned with our true values we can reach a depth of feeling much greater than happiness. It’s called fulfilment. And while you might not achieve everything on your list I reckon you’re guaranteed to get more out of life than if you never did the list in the first place. And leave more behind.
Apple has just released the iPhone 6. And with it the frenetic rush of avid fans desperate to be one of the first to sample the new kid on the block. Talk about creating your own market.
So what makes this giant so successful?
Really it boils down to a very simple philosophy that will catapult any business into greater things.
They create an experience… they create raving fans.
In the words of Steve Jobs, they put a ding in the universe.
And it doesn’t matter what touch point they have with their customers. They are all about creating a positive experience that make people feel so good they keep coming back for more. After all, why wouldn’t they?
Emotional engagement is what it’s all about. And there’s a few key ways in which they do this. One of the first things that gets me in is that Apple keeps it simple. And that makes us all feel good. Easy to use for Gen Z right through to the baby boomers and even beyond. Because it just makes sense. Intuitive they call it and it is. There is elegance in simplicity.
And then there’s their customer service. If I can’t work it out there’s a genius who can and it costs me next to nothing. Some of the best and most accessible customer service anywhere in the world in drop dead gorgeous stores they’re quite an experience in themselves. And they’re flooded with applicants desperate to gain employment. Fans who want to take their association with Apple one step further because they love the experience. I’m told any prospective employee is grilled extensively about their leadership and problem solving skills. After all, they don’t sell their products. Rather it’s Apple’s philosophy to solve customer problems… even those they don’t know they have.
Then they do quality over quantity. Rather than develop everything from fridges to televisions like their competitors, Apple stick to a recipe that works and just keep improving on their four basic products. They are leaders in their field. They don’t make anything they don’t want themselves. They are iconic. And almost everyone wants a piece of the action.
At the end of the day, Apple invests in creating such a positive experience that their customers become customers for life.
Barack Obama announced yesterday he was sending 3000 troops in to support West Africa in the midst of the current outbreak of Ebola. In my book, every one of those troops deserves a medal for bravery right now just for making the decision to go. Because the thing is Ebola doesn’t discriminate between those sent in to help and the civilians on the ground. It will strike anyone down. The doctors and aid workers, the troops and engineers, the journalists covering the tragedy as it unfolds, all at risk themselves as they seek to help control the epidemic.
One of the saddest things to grasp is because it spreads through human contact, they can’t even meet the basic human need for touch. No hugs to reassure the children they are treating. No holding a dying person’s hand. Just too dangerous. It’s a horror hard to imagine.
So what does it take to make such a decision? To be willing to go into the outbreak zone and put your life on the line for others.
Among other things, I think it takes great courage.
At its core, courage is all about having heart. It’s about the willingness to act according to our values despite the presence of fear. It’s not about a lack of fear. It is about judging what is most important and then acting on that realisation. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway for the greater good.
Fortunately for most of us in our rather more sheltered corner of the world, the courage we need on a daily basis is not life-threatening even though it might feel that way. And while we may not be called upon to put our lives on the line, there are many times in our life where we must dig deep and find our courage in the face of adversity. After all, life is full of challenges and many of them will take great courage to overcome.
Next time you need to dig deep and find that courage, perhaps it might help to put it in perspective. Just turn on the news any given night for a bit of that.
Do you have the courage to live according to your values?
Mary and I have had the great pleasure of meeting up with a lot of people recently who’ve been attending our courses, sometimes over many years. And it’s such a beautiful opportunity to share with people on a deeper level. One of the things we hear most often is how people have begun to live more consciously as a result of our workshops. Becoming aware of how they are thinking, how they are feeling, how they are responding rather than just living on autopilot, day in day out.
Most people don’t realise this is one of the great secrets of change… becoming aware.
Why? Because when you become aware, you give yourself the opportunity to step back from a situation and make a different choice. Awareness is one of the first steps to change.
Unfortunately the world is full of people living on autopilot. Taught how to act, and think in a particular way from a young age. Never questioning. Never noticing that the life they are living, the thoughts they are thinking are not really theirs but somebody else’s. What a waste of precious life.
But once you’ve mastered the ability to notice what you are thinking, notice how you are feeling, notice the choices you are making, in other words observing yourself as you would somebody else, it doesn’t take long to make massive changes. Just this weekend we had the pleasure of talking to a woman who tells me she is now unrecognisable as the woman she was 12 months ago. Her life has opened in wonderful ways she could not even have dreamed of.
I salute everyone on this journey to awareness. It takes great courage to be honest with yourself, being open to noticing your strengths and weaknesses. So much easier to blame the world and those around you.
But what do you gain by blame?
What could you gain instead by becoming more aware?
It’s not everyday you almost cut your leg off with a chainsaw, is it?
Since my close encounter with the blade of that awesome beast I’ve rediscovered there are two types of people in the world. Not quite the glass half empty, glass half full, but a take on that. Those that believe I’m lucky and those that respond with ‘How awful’. Roughly 40/60.
And it’s been an interesting thing to watch. Because what I’ve noticed is that those people with predisposition toward seeing the good in life apply the same to me. They see me as lucky. A massively deep wound across the knee but miraculously I didn’t hit either bone or any major blood vessels. But then there are those people who have a predisposition toward the negative. And their response is always about how terrible this injury is.
The triage nurse probably put it best. Waiting for 5 hours in a fair bit of pain is not the way I normally like to spend a Saturday evening. And I don’t think the hospital staff would have taken too kindly to the bottle of red (I would have preferred to be enjoying at home with friends) as medicinal. But as she said when we enquired about the wait, you don’t want to be in there behind the closed doors. Why? Because the people in there are much worse than you. Take the guy who busted his leg with the bone sticking out. Puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it. They want to put a sign up in emergency only the hospital won’t let them. Something to the effect of ‘If you’re still waiting, be grateful, because it means you’re not dying’.
In the days following, I have learned even more. I could have cancelled the gig in Adelaide and stayed at home for instance. But with nothing to distract me I’d only have felt every throb for four days straight. Much better to be out doing the things I love to do. Of course I had to explain my leg elevated on a bar stool. Bit hard to ignore. But as it happens there at the gig we had a woman trained as a nurse offering to help me dress the wound each day. Armed with compression bandages and sterile dressings she dressed my leg each day as only an expert can. What an incredible gift. But the thing I am most in awe of, is that she spoke of how much she valued the opportunity to give back to Mary and me for the things that she had learned over the last five years and how it had changed her life. I am truly humbled. If I’d stayed at home and moped I wouldn’t have received this gift… and nor would she.
So there are times in my life where despite my very best intentions, goal setting and strategy, things just don’t come off. Yep, it happens to me too. And for years it left me perplexed. But looking back I now see that there is a master plan at work. And given time with just a little bit of patience, okay, sometimes a lot of patience, things have a habit of falling into place perfectly.
So now I don’t sweat it so much. Well most of the time. Because I know that I just need to put out there what it is I want. Be really clear. And stay focussed, not waivering from what it is I really want. The things my soul yearns for. Might need to tweak things a little, but for the most part just stay focussed.
Of course there have been times I’ve wanted to compromise because it’s just not happening quickly enough. It’s a huge temptation, isn’t it. To compromise on what’s really important to get things moving. But really it only sells us short on both happiness and that awesome feeling of satisfaction we get when we create a space for the things we really want… to actually happen.
One thing I’ve learned is the wisdom of the universe in its timing and delivery. And how perfectly my plans dovetail in with the intentions of others. Sometimes that’s what the waiting is all about. The universal intelligence at work.
In the end it all seems to work out just perfectly if I just stay focussed, give thanks and remain patient.
What’s your focus?
Will you stay the distance?
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”
There was a woman some years back who was dying to get to one of our fire walks. And she came with a very specific intention, something problematic in her life that she wanted to resolve.
Only problem was she arrived a day late and missed the whole event.
So after expressing a bit of frustration she got over her disappointment, got back in the car and drove home. Only to realise half way home a shift in her thinking so radical, she resolved her own problem.
You might wonder how this happened?
Well it’s all about intention.
Because intention creates opportunity.
Most people don’t realise that whenever you get a breakthrough, someone has just triggered your own inner wisdom. And that’s why you can learn something anywhere, anytime. And anyone or anything can be your teacher. Because when you set out to learn something, somehow or other you will. They don’t teach you that in school, do they!
The point is, you’ve just got to demand from life that it will deliver what you want.
But the flipside is that means you’ve got to know what you want.
You’ve got to spend time getting clear.
So a programme you attend will deliver whatever you intend for it to deliver. That’s why it’s so important to be clear on what you want. And why we ask people to prepare for our programmes by setting their intention. Just as I do. That you will get what you came for. Because just like the rest of life, if you’re vague, you could get anything.
I want you to count how many times you yawn before you get to the end of this post.
Weird, isn’t it. That you can start to yawn just at the mention of it, or the thought of it, or the sound of it or an image of someone or something else yawning.
It’s the why of it that fascinates me.
I yawned six times just finding the picture for this post. And it’s not that it bored me. Far from it. I love this stuff. The inner workings of the human psyche.
Fact is it seems I yawned because I have developed my ability to have empathy for other beings.
In another stellar bit of research they took a bunch of psychologists and a bunch of engineers. Then they had a person yawn 10 times in front of both groups. Then they recorded how many times each group yawned in response. Needless to say the psychologists won hands down… reason being, it seems they have a greater sense of empathy. Given their choice of profession that’s no surprise.
But why is this important for us?
Because empathy, that closeness to others, is so fundamental to the development of compassion. And compassion is love made visible. It’s about moving out of judgement and walking a mile in another’s shoes. Understanding that they might be struggling in ways we can’t even imagine. And when we are compassionate toward others, regardless of whether or not they are in pain, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience things we would otherwise have not had the chance to. Being compassionate, enriches not only the lives of others, but our lives too.
As the Dalai Lama says:
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Given the current happenings in the world, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world is not a safe place. With moment to moment coverage of all the hot spots it can be a little unnerving, can’t it. It may even make you rethink some of your plans. Or perhaps cancel them and just stay in doors.
But at what cost?
To hide from life’s opportunities because of the ‘what ifs’ doesn’t make sense to me. Obviously, it’s important to weigh up the risks, but allowing yourself to miss out on the wonders of life simply because of the thoughts in your head…? How many of us do that?
The thing is we are all going to move on to a different plane one day. A basic fact of life. And when you’ve come face to face with your own mortality it’s not something you can ignore. But in this culture it’s not an idea we like to think about. Not one we talk about. And it’s pretty hard to get comfortable with something we try so hard to forget. But if we can gain a sense of peace around the fact that our physical bodies will one day give way to whatever awaits us, it gives us the freedom to embrace the adventures of life, risks and all. It gives us the freedom to live. Minute to minute. Living in the now. Making the most of each morning we wake, the most of every opportunity that comes our way.
Life IS in this present moment.
We all have a choice, don’t we. Hide from life out of our fear of losing it and miss out on all the good stuff. Or embrace life, embrace the risks and live the adventure for as long as our days allow.
So as I listen to one of our most experienced coaches, I hear her repeat time and time again… it wasn’t an overnight success. I took the time to design my life.
She sure did. I’ve watched her over the years. Focussed, prioritising, chucking the stuff out of her life that’s not in line with everything she values. Five years down the track she’s living life exactly how she designed it.
Now there’s a thought!
But for so many people, they’re more like driftwood, just floating through life going where it takes them. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Unless you’re not happy about it. And there’s plenty of people that whinge about the state of their lives, isn’t there. But what are they doing about it?
I often wonder why they don’t teach a ‘design your life’ class in schools. How much more engaged would our youth be? Seems to me it would be a much smarter use of time than more maths they’ll never use again or books they wouldn’t pick up if you paid them. And I reckon they’d be easier to teach if they realised they had some control over where their lives are going. They might even be more interested in those other subjects.
How different would all of our lives be if we took the time to design them?
Like with most things, people want the life of their dreams right now. But what are they prepared to do to make it happen? Too comfortable in their current reality, truth is many don’t do anything at all. But if you look at the people who’ve ‘made it’, if you look at the people who live a life they love, those that engage in work that sets them on fire and do incredible things for the benefit of others, these people weren’t content with being driftwood. They went out and made it happen.
They call it ‘Flow’. That effortless state of being in which we can find true happiness. That state of focus where we are so engrossed in an activity that we lose track of time and all other distractions. Maybe it’s being engrossed in a book. Or in the zone through physical activity. Or it’s your work. Or doing something you love.
What most people don’t realise is that our subconscious minds take over when we’re in the state of ‘Flow’. Thinking stops and the creative mind takes over. We are simply being. Fully present to the moment and the experience. Fully engaged. An effortless state. And the result… research shows it’s pure happiness.
But ‘Flow’ doesn’t always just happen, does it. Sometimes we need to make it happen. And we can do this by giving ourselves the opportunity to experience this state of being. Making time for the things we love. Prioritising what gives us meaning and purpose.
In the heavy demands of life, we need to be ruthless sometimes in protecting this private space for ourselves in which we can recharge and create for ourselves the opportunity to experience our own happiness. And it’s not selfish. In fact, it’s a community service. Because the happier you are the happier the people are around you. It spreads like wildfire.
Lots of moments in flow, equals a life in flow. And the more I discover and practice this, the easier my life becomes. Even through the rough times.
So last night we had great plans. A rare chance for a night in with a warm fire and a bottle of red. Just me and the girlfriend.
But as we all know even the best laid plans can come unstuck. And unstuck they did.
Being late home was just the beginning.
By midnight it seemed a lost opportunity.
As Mary reminds me, great expectations can set us up for disappointment. Because expectations set us up to believe things should be a particular way, don’t they. And in reaching for how we believe something should be, when clearly it’s not, we use a lot of effort. Effort of course sets up struggle.
Not a happy picture.
And while it’s important to know which direction you want to travel, being prepared to go with the flow makes it all that much easier to achieve. Much better to allow things to unfold rather than demand that things ought to be a particular way. Only to be disappointed when they’re not.
Which brings me to the whole point of the story… the way I handled the disappointment. Because that’s the only thing I really have any control over, isn’t it.
If I choose to be that person always looking back, I’d be stuck in the story. The feelings of frustration at the waste of an opportunity going round and round in my head. And in my body. I might lose another day over it. And if I’m really stuck, it could be a week or even longer. But if I choose to be the person who looks forward, I can be real about it and admit that it was a pretty shitty situation, but then ask myself, what can I do now? After all, there’s always another opportunity, isn’t there.
But opportunities can only be seen when I’m looking forward…
I once met a man who was paid to think. That’s right. It was his job to come to work each day and think. Just think. And while it sounds like a bit of a have, it turns out it was a really important job. Because this guy sat there all day and thought about the business. And how it could be improved so that it became more efficient. More profitable. This guy saved and made this company millions.
He wasn’t Einstein. He was just an ordinary bloke that realised the value of thinking.
Did you know that many of the most extraordinary ideas come from ordinary people?
Take the first lift ever built on the outside of a building. Story has it a bunch of architects were meeting with the hotel executive and discussing how to incorporate a lift into the hotel without losing too much business by closing down. The janitor was cleaning the room at the time and happened to have a flash of brilliance. What about putting the lift on the outside of the building? But do you think this simple brilliance was well received. After all, what would a janitor with a room full of ‘experts’ know. But then… well the rest is history.
Sometimes it only takes a slightly different perspective on a problem to open up a whole new world of possibilities. A little trust and time given over to the creative part of your mind to come up with something new. Most people don’t realise that creativity is subconscious. And it’s a powerhouse we all have.
What could a new idea mean for you?
What could a new idea mean for your business?
It may not even be a big idea. Sometimes the smallest tweaks make the biggest impact.
This week, Meriam Ibrahim narrowly escaped death for her beliefs. Her crime… refusing to renounce her personal religious beliefs that were different from the law enforced beliefs of the country in which she was raised.
This woman was willing to die for her beliefs.
A belief in free will.
A belief in free thought.
A belief in basic human rights.
Terrifying isn’t it. That they would hang this young mother simply because she believed in something different. Didn’t hurt anyone. Just believed something different to the cultural norm.
How many of us would be dead if that happened here?
Makes me feel especially blessed that I live in a society where I am free to choose my beliefs. Free to change the ones that don’t work for me. Free to subscribe to the ones that do.
In this country we have the ability to choose what we believe. But how often do we actively exercise that ability? Or do we just run with the crowd. Believing what other’s believe. Beliefs we’ve picked up along the way, but never challenged to see if those beliefs are truly worthy of believing. Worthy of who we are.
While few of us have to fight for lives over what we do and do not choose to believe, they are nonetheless a powerful influence. Affecting everything we think and do not think, feel and do not feel, do or do not do, see and do not see, choose and do not choose. There’s even science to show that beliefs affect our biology.
It’s so important then that we choose our beliefs carefully. And as free thinking beings we get to do this. Getting rid of the beliefs we’ve just picked up along the way. Beliefs that belong to another person, another place, another time. Choosing instead those beliefs that are aligned with who we really are and what we really value now. And what we want our life to be.
Don’t know what your beliefs are?
Just look at your life. Your beliefs will be reflected back by what’s around you.
I wonder how many of those beliefs you actively choose for yourself?
When was the last time you took control of your beliefs?
Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.
There’s no doubt there are some things we have to fight for. Intolerable wrongs that need to be made right. And there have been plenty of these over the years, haven’t there. Both in the world at large and in our own lives.
But there is also a place for acceptance.
And sometimes I think we can forget this. Because there are some things in life we simply can’t change. And to continue to rail against them, to resist, to put up a fight is only expending energy we could put to better use in other ways.
So what is acceptance? I like to think of acceptance as finding peace with whatever is your current reality. Not necessarily liking it. But no longer resisting it either. And there’s a certain grace to this. Not always easy I know. But it can give us clarity to see other possibilities.
And the key to acceptance? In my experience it’s to quit the judgements. We judge everything, don’t we. Right or wrong. Black or white. I believe acceptance is about seeing shades of grey. Because when we decide in our own mind something is wrong, and we pass that judgement, we make it not okay. And this can set up the fight.
I often find looking at the bigger picture can help. The benefit of hindsight. Or just trusting that there is a greater good at work. If I’d made my cancer wrong for instance, I would have missed out on the gifts it gave me. But in practising acceptance, I find my peace and that can only be a healing place physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
They’ve recently opened a new bar in Canberra. It’s called Molly’s. A speakeasy whose whereabouts remains to be found. With only a mysterious set of co-ordinates and a naked light bulb above an unmarked door to identify it, this place fully engages the human psyche with its intrigue… and begs to be discovered.
Needless to say talk about Molly’s is spreading like wildfire.
Contagious is what they call it and it works.
And then there’s the mystery tweeter #hiddencash, hiding money in San Francisco. Talk about creating chaos and instant happiness. A hundred bucks or so hidden in envelopes around the city with clues to the location given via twitter. And now the movement is heading around the globe. Last look the mystery tweeter had 610K followers (that’s 610 thousand folks) in just on a month. And the most awesome bit is the mindset of abundance that grows as people who find the money pay it forward.
Everyone loves a mystery. It’s in our nature. Because let’s face it, the humdrum of day to day life can get boring, can’t it. Mundane and predictable our senses dull and so too does our zest for living. But the great news is it only takes a bit of mystery to lift us out of the daily grind and into the arena of the new and exciting. And that’s a pretty easy fix, isn’t it. Doesn’t need to cost much but gives so much in return. I’ve seen it happen countless times. Relationships for instance on the verge of collapse recharged simply by introducing the excitement of uncertainty. A slice of mystery reigniting the romance and the spark burns bright again.
Business, philanthropy, relationships… adding a bit of mystery can work miracles. The excitement that comes with the uncertainty spicing up what we once thought lost.
Where can you add some mystery to spice up your life today?
Okay, so we’ve all had those times when we we’ve been impulsive, haven’t we. Maybe buying that shiny new toy ‘we just had to have’ but regretting it later when we saw the credit card bill. And then there are those situations where someone’s pressed our buttons and whoa, there you have it, the automatic response we’re ashamed of when we know we could have responded much better. The benefit of hindsight and a cooling off period is a wonderful thing, isn’t it.
So how do you learn to respond differently in the moment?
Well it’s a simple little tool called ‘The Gap’. And while it’s simple, it does take a certain amount of awareness to use it. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it immediately. Intent is what counts here. And after a bit of practice you might be surprised at how easy it is to use.
How does it work? Well basically, it’s about putting a gap between an impulse and an action. Pausing to take stock, so that our actions become responses rather than re-actions. So when you see that shiny new toy that demands you buy it, it’s about noticing that feeling of want but not giving in to it immediately. Instead, taking a breath, or walking away if necessary and then deciding whether you really have to have it, or whether you’d rather use your money for something else. Sometimes of course you’ll buy it, but it’s with a clear head rather thanas an impulsive purchase.
And the Gap can work magic in relationships too. Taking a moment to pause as you catch yourself reacting allows you to pull back from the heat of the moment and respond in a way that is respectful to both our feelings and the other person’s.
The beauty of the Gap is that it allows us to consider what is the best thing to do in any given moment. It’s about living consciously rather than just sleep walking our way through life on auto-pilot. Mindfulness meditation puts it like this… when you feel that urge to react just STOP before you do anything.
So are you the kid who came home with 99/100 on the report card. And your parents asked ‘What happened to the other 1?’. Kind of sucked didn’t it. After all, looking back on it, what difference would that one mark have really made? Bugger all probably. But we felt deflated anyway.
I’ve spent a good part of my life helping people overcome the feelings of ‘not good enough’ that this can set up. Well meaning parents I’m sure who really only wanted the best for their kids but just stuffed up the message.
But there are times when that 1/100 can make all the difference.
And it is a bloody big deal.
And that is where we need to focus our energy.
When you understand the boiling water analogy it makes perfect sense. Because as you know water doesn’t boil at 99 degrees. Not at sea level anyway. At 99 degrees you’ve just got hot water. Bloody hot water. But just hot water all the same. Good for cooking all those spuds I’ve been eating.
But think about it for a minute.
Just one more degree and you’ve got steam.
Blow the spuds, steam has the energy to power engines.
Sometimes when we hit a plateau in reaching our goals, it’s important to realise how far we’ve come. To take some time to look back and see the huge things we’ve achieved. And then to take a deep breath… and keep going. Because at 99 degrees you are so close to the tipping point it’s almost tangible. You just mightn’t realise it yet. Just one degree more and you’ll be across the line and a whole new world of possibility arises… You’ve just got to hang in there to watch the magic unfold.
Hot water to steam in just one degree.
Now that’s what I call a quantum leap.
Where do you need to focus to find your one degree?
We ‘wowed’ our Entrepreneurs Master Class this week. An awestruck audience watched on as we built an entire business in just two days.
That’s right. Just two days.
Well 26 hours to be exact.
It’s been a dream of mine for years to do this. And this week we made it happen. One of our clients with a business idea we transformed into reality in a matter of hours.
And I’m talking building a business from the ground up.
We didn’t even start with a business name. Brainstorming everything from scratch. The name, the logo, the domain, the youtube channel, twitter, facebook, website content, graphics. And in 26 hours it’s all up and running with the likes pouring in. We even managed to film and upload our first video and write an entire e-book.
Not bad for 26 hours work huh!
So the business is up and running and the list is already building. Needless to say we have one very happy client and a bunch of others signing up for the same.
It can be done.
And we just proved it!
So many people stuff around for ages trying to make this happen. Waiting ‘til things are perfect before making anything happen.
But is anything really ever perfect?
You could be waiting forever.
The secret… to gather together the collective creative genius of an awesome team. It makes the impossible possible. Peers, strategists, writers, designers, IT. And to buy what you don’t know. Because going it alone can cost you dearly in both time and money.
Most people think they need to build a business on their own. Jack of all trades and master of none. But we couldn’t have done it without the incredible support and skills of our brains trust.
So you want to start a business?
We’ve set the bar.
In October this year we’ll be taking sixteen budding entrepreneurs to Thailand. And in just ten days we’ll have sixteen businesses fully up and running.
How come for one person the world is full of arseholes and they attract them like magnets? And it’s everybody else’s fault. While for another life is just peachy.
Most people don’t realise that what we put out is exactly what we get back. It’s one of those universal laws. And that’s why two people can have the very same thing happen to them, but experience it in completely different ways.
It all comes back to mindset.
And that’s a direct reflection of our beliefs.
If for example, we see the world as a dangerous place, all we’re going to do is hone in on the dangerous stuff. It’s like we set our subconscious the task of singling every bit of danger out just to prove to ourselves what we already believe is true. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, doesn’t it. Every dumb arse out to get us.
But another person, who believes the world is just this great big awesome adventure will attract quite the opposite and the very best of everything.
We can do ourselves, and other people, other situations, a great disservice by being locked into a mindset that doesn’t allow us to see something else entirely.
As they say, if you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
The magic of this is that in changing the way we think about something, we often find the problem simply disappears. Because everything starts in the mind.
Ghandi was right. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Embody it and it will come back to you.
What situations is your mindset attracting?
Who in your life could you set free by being willing to see them differently?
Is it time to get your check up from the neck up?
There’s no time like the present to change your mind.
A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.
“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”
“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.
Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.
Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.
“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.
“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”
“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
You might know it as moonlighting. That work that we do after hours. A side project that fulfils our need to create something for ourselves. Perhaps it’s a hobby. Perhaps it’s a second job. Perhaps it’s building a business. After all, with the technology we have today it’s never been easier.
Time and time again it’s become glaringly apparent to me how important that bit on the side is. The way I see it, the need for multiple streams of income is no longer an option, but a complete necessity. And it’s because everything is changing so rapidly. Whole industries can vanish overnight. And if you’ve got all your eggs in the one basket, you’re gone.
Last weekend we enjoyed the fruits of somebody else’s labour. After all, those who know me know I’m going vegetarian. Well, in this instance it was fruit actually. Mostly grapes. Without their skins or flesh. Just the juice. Fermented for easy digestion of course. And it came about because four friends, having a beer after work some years ago wondered if they could build a wine business on the side. Didn’t know if it would work. Didn’t know if it would make money. But they decided to give it a go anyway. To build something for themselves beyond their day jobs. Something outside the world of teaching and plumbing.
A decade and a half later and they’re taking out medals. And yes, they sacrificed (a lot of) nights and weekends. And yes, it took blood, sweat and probably many tears. But fifteen years down the track they’ve built something worthwhile for themselves.
Something that reflects their creative energy.
Something to give them more than just a pension in retirement.
Something that has given them that sense of fulfillment we all crave.
I reckon looking back they’d feel pretty good about that decision to give it a go. Because pursuing their passion has paid big dividends.
Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil, set off a tornado in Texas?
For the uninitiated, this is the question that defines the Butterfly Effect. How a seemingly insignificant action can influence a large-scale future event.
Pretty incredible thought, huh.
But is it?
After all, back in 1886, the simple curiosity of an Atlanta pharmacist led him to create a new soft drink. Today, Cocoa Cola Amatil is worth hundred’s of millions of dollars.
While some years ago a young lawyer could see a better future for his people. Never giving up on his vision, Nelson Mandela defied the odds and turned a country on its head.
Back here in the office only a month ago, our Angela made the decision to train part-time in an industry she’d only dreamed about. Now she’s working in 5 star hotels and with high-end weddings. And she’s loving it.
Isn’t it incredible how everything starts with a single thought, or step or action. And we never know how far reaching any one of these will be.
So the choice is yours.
You can sit there only dreaming about how you want things to be.
And you may not go anywhere.
Or you can take little steps in the direction of your dreams. Little steps that may not seem significant at first. And then one day, looking back, you might just be surprised by the greatness of what you have achieved.
All it takes is one action every day.
That’s a massive 365 actions every year.
And that’s significant, isn’t it.
So how much closer to your dream will you be this time next year?
Listening to the news is bittersweet. While I love to stay on top of the latest and greatest, there are the stories that break my heart.
Take this week’s tragedy. Two young boys found wandering on the highway after seeing their dad killed by a train. To know such pain at only 5 and 6 years of age. Who knows how they will process the trauma of that.
What I do know is that they will never be the same again.
And it puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it. You know, those first world problems we all worry about. They pale into insignificance, don’t they. And as painful as it can be to hear these stories, if we stop to process the gravity of what other’s have to deal with, it can help us to be so much more appreciative of all that is right in our lives. Grounding us once again in the now which is the only place to really be. Helping us get clear on what’s really important. Connecting us, one human being to another.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to shape a person’s destiny. I have to trust this is true for these two little boys.
So as you send this family your loving thoughts, take a moment to gain some perspective on the big and small things that may be troubling you and give gratitude once again for all that is good in your life.
I was talking with my good friend Nicholas de Castella the other day. And we were discussing overwhelm. You know, that feeling when it’s all too much and you’re just about to explode. Or perhaps you’d rather run away. I guess your response all depends on your default coping strategy.
But the thing about overwhelm, and stress in general, is it’s only a reflection of our feelings of being unable to cope. So it’s not really about the overwhelm. Or the things happening outside of us. It’s really all about our reserves within and how we perceive them. It’s all about our mindset.
Most people don’t realise it’s exactly the same for worry.
Because we only worry about things if we don’t think we’ve got the reserves to cope with them. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother us, would they?
The human species is quite amazing in its ability to conjure up worry out of nothing. The monkey mind they call it. Always busy. Makes stuff up just for the hell of it really. And we can create the end of the world right here in our minds, a thousand times a day.
Not really living is it.
And that’s why taking time out to be quiet is so important. Because it helps us to pull back. And gives us the headspace to see what’s really going on. To get things in perspective. And to realize that if we’ve made it this far, then we really do have some reserves in there, don’t we! I’m amazed how often people forget this.
And another thing… have you ever noticed how much easier it is to cope with what life dishes up when you’re feeling happier? Much easier, isn’t it.
So if we focus on creating happiness for ourselves and those around us, even our real worries are that much easier to handle. Makes sense then doesn’t it, to focus on what’s going right in your life, rather than what’s going wrong.
So what’s worrying you?
If you knew you had the reserves to cope with it, could you look at it differently?
And if you took the emotion out of it, what would your next step be?
As the man said… Don’t worry, be happy. It’s a great philosophy.
Learning to move forward one step at a time with emotional intelligence, helps to move us through the worry and back to a state of happiness.
Sometimes I’m dumbfounded by how mind-blowingly stupid some people can be. But then we all have our moments don’t we.
Last week, my boss (yes I have one, she’s my daughter!) Julie searched Canberra for over 3 hours trying to find a very particular food. An import from the USA, hard to come by. And while she criss-crossed Canberra to track it down, it wasn’t until shop number 16 that she found it. A whole shelf-full. So, as anyone with any common sense would when you’ve searched this hard, she put the whole shelf-full in her trolley. After all, you can take the Costco mindset anywhere.
So far, so good. But on reaching the register, the checkout-chick was… how could we put this… somewhat confused and overwhelmed? Staring down the barrel of a great sale, she obviously couldn’t handle it. ‘Are you buying all this?’ She clearly thought Julie was nuts even after Julie explained this was the 16th shop she’d been to. ‘But I don’t know how to ring up a bulk discount’ was next. To which Julie reassured her she wasn’t asking for a discount. Quickly followed by ‘What if someone else wants to buy this?’ Julie was, needless to say, gobsmacked. Was this a business in the business of making money or not? After all, the sale was in the bag and you can always restock.
But the piece de resistance was the response to Julie’s comment about buying online if it was all too hard. And can you believe it… with the store manager beside her the check-out chick gave Julie all the details of the online stockist. You should have heard us as we all fell about laughing back at the office.
These days I’m very careful who I choose to be around. Because I’ve come to realise that who I hang out with has a major impact on what I think and how I feel. Some people are beneficial and some obviously aren’t. And I guess it’s a sign of how much we care for ourselves when we limit the negative and seek out the positive wherever and whenever possible. And that means some tough choices sometimes, doesn’t it. Not always popular ones.
And there’s nothing selfish in this. In fact, quite the opposite. Because they’ve shown that emotions spread like diseases. Pretty incredible, huh. That we can ‘catch’ being happy. And ‘catch’ being sad. Harvard University we’re talking. Not some pseudo-science piece but hard arse research. The scary thing is it’s twice as easy to catch the ‘sad’ bug than it is the ‘happy’ one. But when you catch happy it lasts longer. Emotional contagion. It even has a name. And it spreads like wildfire between people in frequent close contact. Like families. Like workmates. Anyone we hang out with really on a consistent basis.
Take a friend who lives a mile away from me. If that friend becomes happier, I have a 25% chance of becoming happier too. If my neighbour becomes happier then it’s a 34% chance. Huge! And the thing is the happier I am, the happier people are around me. Because I pass it on. So when I am happier, because someone around me is happier, then I spread that on to all the people in my life too. And that’s the sort of contagious I’m in favour of.
Happiness gone viral. And because I want to spread happiness to those I love, I am really conscious of who I spend my time with.
Happiness. It’s so important, isn’t it. For health. For leaving the world a better place. So it pays to be careful who’s in your inner circle. Who should you avoid? And who should you hang out with more?
They’ve got an aggregate wealth of $6.4 trillion. Forbes 500 richest people on the planet and at $76 billion Bill Gates is back on top.
What’s a few bucks between friends?
But when you read their bio’s, you might notice something.
Almost all of them made their fortune through business.
Did I mention there’s a bit of money to be made in beer?
And while some on them did, yes, inherit their millions, most of them are self-made men and women who simply had an idea. And did something about it.
Take Keiichiro Takahara. He made $3.5B out of nappies. Nappies full of **** you throw away! Couldn’t have done that in the days of cloth. Or the Mars duo. They have a combined wealth of $40B out of the humble lolly (and because we’re talking US dollars, AUD$ it’s even higher). Then there’s Mark Zuckerberg. He was probably wearing Takahara’s nappies when he made his $28.5B fortune with an idea about bringing people together. In case you haven’t heard, it’s called facebook.
But when you’re talking that much money, it really doesn’t matter, does it. What’s more important is an understanding that it can be done. And people, young and old, do it ALL the time.
I wonder how many of those businesses started as a great idea around the kitchen table? Or a thought kicked around over a game of pool? Or just something that popped into their head while catching a train? J.K. Rowling knows what I’m talking about. Or as Einstein said, he got his best ideas while shaving.
But what we don’t see on the list is the blood, sweat and tears, the guts and stamina, the determination and drive, the investment that it takes to pull something like this off. Not an overnight success, but sometimes years in the making. Persistence. Passion. Vision. Strategy. Single-mindedness. Wisdom.
And an entrepreneurial mindset.
But they didn’t do it alone. They knew when to ask for help.
Learn what you can.
Buy what you need.
Apply it all diligently.
It’s a winning formula.
What will YOU do with your next great idea?
“Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” – William J. Cameron
How crazy would it be to walk into a deli and tell them what you don’t want. After all, they’d think you were nuts if you walked in and spent half an hour telling them you didn’t want the salami, and you didn’t want the Roquefort, and you didn’t want the caviar and you didn’t want the pickles or the olives or the pastrami or the swiss. In fact they might be showing you the door. A sale in the ‘too hard he’s a nutter’ category.
But in my line of work that’s what I constantly see people do.
Worrying over all the things they don’t want…rather than getting clear on what it is they do want.
After all, the deli is just a microcosm of real life, isn’t it. Because everything that happens in the deli happens on a larger scale in life. Relationships, choices, transactions, fulfillment, disappointment. And the really great thing is when we realise we attract what we put our focus on we can do something about it.
Because if we spend our lives focusing on what we don’t want, is it any wonder it keeps turning up?
But on the other hand, life has a wonderful way of bringing to us the things we get really clear about. It just requires clarity and patience and trust.
Most people don’t realise life’s a smorgasboard. And there’s so much to enjoy.
So what do you really want out of life? And what do you need to get clear about today?
There was an interview some years back on Enough Rope. And it was the kind of interview that just stays with you. Andrew Denton interviewing a former leader of the Klu Klux Klan. And he tells the story of how one old black preacher man defeated them all.
The Klan were out to get him, but he never missed a beat. When they set fire to a cross, he asked them if they’d like marshmallows. When they turned up in white robes outside his house, he just laughed and told them Halloween was still months away.
But the piece de resistance… the old preacher in a restaurant about to eat a plate of chicken when he was surrounded by 30 Klan members. Threatening to do him whatever he did next to the chicken.
And so he took a moment to think… before picking up the chicken and kissing it.
As MasterCard would say…. priceless.
The Klan leader didn’t know what to do as the rest of the members fell about laughing. And they never harassed him again.
One old preacher man who used his mind – and his heart – to defeat the KKK.
Such power to be found when you just stop, look around and think…
They get their claws in early. Programming our kids for a life of debt. Online games that get kids younger than 10 already in the mindset of shopping for stuff they don’t need, and on credit. The crime is it’s legal. And while the legal age for a real credit card is 18, they hand out virtual credit cards from the age a kid is old enough to read and work a mouse. And that’s the perfect age to programme them.
How about this game…
This young stylista feels like going shopping today, but there isn’t enough money in her wallet! She will have to work first, so how about giving her a helping hand? Play the “Gain Money For Shopping” skills and dress up game and help this cutie gain enough money to buy all those designer clothes and stylish accessories catching lovely flowers and yummy fruities falling from the sky. Good luck and have fun!
Bet you’re rushing to sign up. Tragedy is the kids are. And there’s another one that’s caused a stir in the office. This one hands out credit cards to kids with budgets of almost $1000 to blow on.. yes wait for it… more designer clothes! Not a down payment on an investment property. That would be too smart. One of the mums in our office freaked when she saw what her kids were playing. And the filters don’t stop this online threat from reaching our kids. In fact they allow it. And while the games don’t even resemble real life for most people, they easily succeed in brainwashing a young mind into a lifetime of debt and misery.
And because most parents are similarly programmed, they hardly even notice what their kids are playing. Or what they’re learning.
What if instead we taught our kids about the importance of business skills? Of investing. Of growing passive income. And we made it fun. If you don’t have a family business, you could create one, even if it’s just on paper. Spending a bit more quality time with them playing the game of money. Perhaps that is the type of homework our kids should be doing. So much more relevant to the real world ahead of them than some of the homework they get now. True survival skills.
I often wonder how many lives could be made happier with a good financial education? How much happier we would all be with a sense of financial control. Understanding how to make money work for us instead of selling our soul for money just to survive. But if we are to teach our kids something different it starts with us. In order to teach our children, we need to learn something different for ourselves.
How much do you know about getting money to work for you?
What about your business skills?
How will you develop your own financial intelligence to create a better future for your kids?
I wonder if you’ve ever realised the average adult has around 12,000 thoughts per day? That’s over 4 million thoughts per year.
Imagine that! Four million different ideas in just one year!
It doesn’t take Einstein to realise the power in this.
Moving one thought at a time in a particular direction. It’s only a matter of time before you get there. Makes you think about what you’re thinking, doesn’t it. What direction you’re headed.
But one of the things I’ve discovered is how often we fail to act on these thoughts. The good ones that is.
Incredible as it may be, one of our greatest human fears is to look like an idiot. And we do everything we can to avoid feeling stupid. To avoid being laughed at. Heckled. Jeered. Ducking those rotten tomatoes. And because it’s a fear bigger than Ben Hur, we so often do nothing about those great ideas. Sweet FA. Despite the possibility of success.
And where does that get us? Keeps us right where we are, doesn’t it.
But let’s say in all those millions of thoughts, 90% of them are duds. Could you be okay with that? Take just one million of them and 90% are duds. So what! You’ve still got a lot of good ideas in there. More than 100, 000 to be precise. Do you reckon there’s some gold in there?
So what have you really got to lose? What could you gain?
And no it’s not a misprint. I’m not referring to Eckhart Tolle’s book on spiritual enlightenment. I’m talking about the word ‘how’.
I wonder if you’ve ever realised it’s one of the most important words in the English language.
Want to know why?
Because it opens the mind.
Let’s say you want to go on an overseas holiday. Teased by those tv adverts, or posters in travel agent windows that scream ‘book me now’ you want it so bad you can almost feel it. The sand, the mountains, the castles, the cocktails, the cruise. Whatever takes your fancy.
But there’s a problem… no money in the account.
So often the default pattern is to simply give up and say “I can’t afford it”.
But that only serves to reinforce the poverty mindset. Feels pretty ordinary when you think like that, doesn’t it.
So here’s a flash…
What happens if instead you ask the question “How can I afford it?”
Most people don’t realise the use of the word HOW in front of any thing opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
“I can’t” closes things down.
“How can I” opens things up.
HOW can I afford it?
HOW can I make it happen?
HOW can I achieve my goal?
This little word ‘how’ is a bit of magic. Because it enables that brilliant creative subconscious mind of yours to get to work to make it happen. It creates an opportunity.
Visualisation. It’s an incredibly powerful tool. And the athletes have known this for years. Visualising just a few minutes a day to perfect a routine. Or to build body strength. How incredible is it that just visualising an exercise is almost as good at building strength as if you were actually doing the exercise? In a Canadian study a few years back researchers discovered football jocks who worked out could increase the strength of their hip flexors by about 28%. That’s a great result. But the athletes that only thought about working out increased their muscle strength by a massive 24%. Almost as big an improvement simply by training mentally instead of physically. Now that has huge potential, doesn’t it. That something we do in the mind translates to physical changes in the body. And they did it in just two weeks. That’s the strength of our mind-body connection for you.
But how does visualisation work when we are visualising things outside of ourselves? Visualising the future we want to create for instance. Well the reason it’s so important to feed our minds the images of what we want is because of how powerful our minds really are. Because day in, day out, our subconscious minds are processing thousands of bits of information. Both internally and externally. What temperature it is outside, how low our blood sugar is, how fast that car is going as we’re moving into traffic, the conversation across the room. And it only draws our attention to the information that is important for us to be aware of. Ever noticed how you can be in a room paying no attention to what’s being said on the other side until someone mentions your name? And then you’re right on it, aren’t you. And that’s because our subconscious is out there scanning for the stuff that is meaningful and important to us. Allowing only a certain amount of information up consciously. Otherwise we’d go mad… too much to handle.
So here’s the thing. Your subconscious is selective in what it makes you consciously aware of. So if you feed your mind images of what you want, it gets the idea and will include any useful bits of information in what it sends up to your consciousness. Opening up opportunities that will get you to where you want to be. Opportunities you might have otherwise missed even if they were right under your nose.
Best not to dwell then on the stuff you don’t want, isn’t it.
Luckily you don’t have to be a jock to benefit. How different would your life be if you spent just 15 minutes a day visualising your perfect future?
Living in the country it’s hard not to notice the impact the drought is having. What were green paddocks only months ago, are now brown and dusty wastelands. Little to no feed. And they’ve already begun trucking water in.
We received an email in the office the other day. From one of our coaches experiencing the same drought conditions, only in another state. It’s so widespread, isn’t it. Killing livestock, taking people down with it, the drought shows no mercy. His only request ‘Send some good vibes to Queensland’.
It was his trust in a greater power that stopped me. His response to the desperation… employing that old Indian belief of feeling the rain had already happened and giving thanks.
A prayer for rain.
And rain has fallen when people gather together to do that.
But the wisdom of this belief can be applied to any aspect of our lives. Feeling the feeling that what we desire has already happened… and giving thanks. Sometimes patience is required. But looking back, I am blown away by how often this simple trust delivers even the greatest of things.
So, feel the feeling. And give thanks for what it is you want.
And take a moment to feel the rain and give thanks for it too…
The Kodak story reads like a modern tragedy. An icon, forced to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection all because they forgot the art of business.
Whatever you do, don’t get done by a committee.
George Eastman would be turning in his grave.
Because more than one hundred years ago old George created a company that would go on to command 90% of the market in its heyday. Cameras, film and other consumables. It had it cornered and its nearest rivals couldn’t touch it.
Enter the committee. And a few incredibly stupid and short-sighted decisions.
Determined to protect the incredible fortune that had been made through film, they turned their back on the world of digital, despite the fact that it was Kodak who had invented digital in the first place. And those who come first always own the market, don’t they. But few people realize that when you’re in protection you can’t be in growth. Physical impossibility. Because when you’re battening down the hatches, there’s few resources left to use for growth.
And of course the rest is history.
All because these important key decisions were given into the hands of a committee. A committee who were slow to adapt to changes in consumer interest and underestimated their rivals. It has cost this company dearly.
In the development of any business, it’s essential to plan for the future. Because business is ruthless and you need to keep watch.
How will you keep control over the key decisions in your business?
Let’s face it. Red tape. It’s a pain in the ar**. And gets in the way of good business. But if I’ve learned nothing else about business, it’s the power of persistence. Because when you’re in business you have the distinct advantage of being free to pursue anything you want really. And that’s a freedom worth having, isn’t it.
And persistence is just the quality we need to get us there. Because there will always be red tape. Barriers to growth. But we have a choice in how we face them. We can choose the path of defeat. Or we can rise to the challenge, push back those boundaries and thrive. As a wise man once said, nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Just consider the persistence of water in wearing away a rock. It’s always going to happen. It may just take a bit of time.
Over the years I have faced many challenges. But in looking back I realize some of the things I thought were the biggest blocks, were actually the greatest opportunities for growth. Because in meeting the challenge, I was forced to dig deep and discover strengths and abilities I wouldn’t have otherwise known I even possessed. These challenges kept me on my game and ahead of the rest. Blessings in disguise.
In the words of Stuart Zadel, when you’re in business, you are the elite, you are the rule makers, you set the agenda.
So what are you waiting for?
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
There was a study done some years back. A group of teachers and a group of kids. Now the teachers were told they had exceptional teaching skills. They were also told the kids were gifted.
Bullsh*t really, they were all picked at random.
Needless to say at the end of the project, the teachers reported exceptional performance in the kids. But they were nothing extraordinary. Just normal kids doing their thing. Only difference was the teachers had high expectations. Believing in their ability and treating them accordingly.
Bottom line… performance was high, because expectations were high.
So if you really want to live a great life, it makes sense to understand what your expectations are, doesn’t it.
Do you expect life to be easy or do you expect life to be hard?
Do you expect to be rich or do you expect to struggle?
Do you expect to love your work or hate it while you sell your soul?
Do you expect to be healthy or fall apart as you age?
And what do you expect for those you love?
Because without a doubt, our expectations affect our experience. And the experience of those around us. It’s all about perception.
Have you stopped to look around yourself lately? How abundant this world is. We want for very little don’t we. Sometimes nothing at all. Just think about Christmas and the abundance the festive season brings. For most of us a plentiful supply of time, gifts, food.
Still groaning? Not exactly third world are we.
And there are many ways we can look at this concept of abundance. For some, it’s about greed that comes from a place of fear. That feeling of never having enough so we’d better stockpile. While for others it’s about gratitude and the humility of knowing we live in a vastly abundant world that is there to be enjoyed and respected. And that we can have it all without the need for rape or pillage.
Such a difference in mindset makes such a difference in experience, doesn’t it.
The ocean of abundance is all around us. A vast and limitless ocean there to be enjoyed.
So will you take a teacup or a bucket down to the ocean?
I was reading a post by one of our coaches recently. And he shared the thoughts of a guy, recently divorced, who had some tips on how to keep a marriage alive and happy. Brilliant, insightful stuff. Learned the hard way. But when you learn something the hard way, it’s never forgotten, is it. This guy’s next marriage is guaranteed to be awesome.
And he’s really on the mark about the issue of money. After all, financial worries can really stress a marriage, can’t they. Especially at this time of year. And he puts it quite simply. Money is a game. A game you can play together. As Mary says, just numbers on a page. And the thing is, when we look at money from this perspective it does wonders to lighten the stress. Because games are designed to be fun, aren’t they.
When I work with people it often surprises them when they discover just how much their performance can suffer under pressure. Most people don’t realise tension produces poor performance. Well, maybe we know this in the bedroom. But it happens in all areas of our lives. And it’s a scientific fact that when we’re under pressure, most of us don’t think so clearly. And our brains can go to mush as the adrenalin gets the better of our minds, not to mention our bodies. Not surprising then we make poorer decisions.
When it all gets too serious, it’s a sign things aren’t going so well. Time to do something different. Time to lighten up.
Sure there are exceptions. People who actually perform better under pressure. And these are the people who have learned how to manage the stress. Because they’ve discovered one of the great secrets of financial success, in business and in life, is to have fun. And while the business of money can be serious, the people that win the money game are the ones who know how to introduce a lightness into the situation, despite the pressure. Allowing them to see all possibilities. All those opportunities just waiting to be discovered.
Effective listening. It’s such an important skill. Because it allows you to pick up all those little bits of gold that are floating out there in the ether. But few people practise it. Too busy with their own thoughts and the next sentence in their mouth to hear other people’s wisdom. Too caught up in their own lives to pay attention to someone else’s.
But wisdom is all around us if you stop and listen. And just stopping to take the time to listen to other people’s stories can do wonders to enrich your life. Because it brings connection, and that’s essential for the human psyche. Huge rewards in such a simple act. Maybe it’s the woman at the supermarket. Maybe it’s the guy who collects your garbage. Maybe it’s the business man you stand behind in the coffee queue. Maybe it’s the homeless guy down the street. Many people don’t realize just how much it pays to listen. And be in the moment. Because we’re all experts. Experts at doing life our own way. And we can learn so much from each other.
I am fortunate to have friends who don’t know their own wisdom. But I recognize it in them. And when they speak, I listen. And I learn. Pearls of wisdom. Little bits of gold. Brilliant at what they do, but humble too. Not realizing the gifts they have to share. I often wonder just how many successful ideas have come just by listening to other people’s needs and then devising ways to meet them. Or how many casual acquaintances have become life long friendships because someone chose to listen.
The art of listening. It’s such a gift.
What could you gain by becoming a more effective listener?
What would it mean to your relationships, your work, your business and your life?
They do their best to stamp it out of us. Those creative dreams. And with the emphasis on reading, writing and ‘rithmetic it’s no wonder we have so many left brain zombies walking around. Not able to tap in to the creative genius living within.
I was watching a TEDxTalks this morning. And this young dude Logan LaPlante spoke better than many adults ever would. All of 13 years of age. And he talked about hacking. Not hacking in the sense of causing computer chaos. But hacking in the sense of mindset. Because hacking to Logan is simply thinking outside the square. Challenging a mindset that is the status quo with an alternate way of seeing things. Any mindset.
Sensing the creative genius within, Logan’s mum helped him hack his education. Removing him from the constraints of traditional school to allow the creative genius within him to grow. Making the decision to nurture her son’s mind rather than allow it to be held captive by the do’s and don’ts of the normal classroom. Despite the pressure against her. It takes a strong mind to go against the flow, doesn’t it. And most people don’t realize the education we give our kids is predominantly left brain. An emphasis on marks and IQ rather than EQ and creative intelligence. Worship of analysis, literacy and logic at the expense of right brain creativity. It’s a bit like valuing your left hand over your right. Doesn’t make sense, does it. Because we need both. But in a world where we are taught from a young age not to question, we so often sacrifice our right brain for our left. At what cost?
Because it’s creative genius that drives the world. It’s what brought us the age of computers. And space travel. And the humble ‘post it’ note. It’s what brings us cutting edge medicine, and solar energy. And while some people think it’s science that drives discovery, it’s actually creativity. Because behind every scientific development is the creative question… what if?
And when we’re creating, happiness follows. Just watch any child at play.
I love the Far Side. And one of my favourite Gary Larson cartoons is ‘School for the Gifted’. Depicting a studious young man pushing with all his might against a door. Only problem is the sign on the door reads ‘pull’.
Pushing when you need to pull is just so counterproductive, isn’t it.
No amount of effort is going to get him what he wants.
Because no matter what we’re doing in life, our efforts need to be directed the right way, don’t they. Take business for instance. We can put so much effort into marketing but if we’re marketing to the wrong people it ain’t gonna work. And then there’s relationships. We can be putting lots of effort into loving our significant others, but if we’re speaking a different love language it’s not going to get noticed.
And the result is we feel frustrated in our efforts.
But frustration is just a sign that you haven’t tweaked it quite right yet. Remember Edison? He tweaked it thousands of times to give us an efficient electric light bulb. That’s staying power.
Unfortunately Edison is a rarity. Because many people give it all up too soon. Frustrated by missing the mark despite all the energy spent in trying to make it happen. Not realizing that a small shift in mindset, a small shift in understanding, a small shift in the way we see things may be all that is required to make our dreams the reality we long for.
I’m always inspired by a story. And just like a picture, a good story speaks volumes. The resurrection of Darrell Lea is one such story.
But rather than bore you with the details, suffice it to say that a lack of passion, a lack of interest, a lack of good decision making rang the death knell for this great Aussie icon. And it took a Scot, with a fire in his belly to save it from certain perish. Because he could make the hard decisions the Lea family couldn’t. After all these years, staring down the barrel of a gun, they were still operating from a position of nostalgia. Stuck in the past. Ready to fold an icon rather than let go of an outdated business model. Not willing to adapt and survive.
Enter the new players.
A family man with a passion for business. And a fresh set of eyes. A penchant for fun. And the ability to make the tough decisions. Not always popular. But necessary. And testimony to his success are The profits that are now rolling in. A new business model that cuts overheads and turns losses to profit. Successfully leveraging the reach of other retailers. Working smarter not harder. While still paying homage to Harry Lea, the man who founded the empire.
The resurrection of Darrell Lea is a story worth googling. Because life is sweet if you’re willing to do what needs to be done. And above all, have fun doing it.
What decisions do you need to make to reap the profits you desire?
Every week we get together in the office and brainstorm. Because collectively we come up with the most brilliant ideas to make what we do even better. Better customer service, better delivery, and more fun doing it. What more could we ask for? And it helps that we’re all aligned with the same values. That’s paramount isn’t it. That you’re in business with people who hold the same values you do. No point in trying to run a business when you’re all pulling in different directions. Can you imagine a rowing team doing that? You’d just go round in circles.
And the reason the team meetings work so well is because we get to bounce ideas off each other. So not only do we have an awesome team, we are aligned and pulling the same way. And the creative energy is magnified.
And it’s for this very same reason that Mary and I prioritise a significant amount of time each year with friends who also run successful businesses. Millionaires in their own right with a wealth of knowledge to share. And the time we spend together is so incredibly valuable. Because not only do we have fun together, we bounce off each other and brilliant ideas flow. Brilliant ideas that generate and support all of our businesses. And we’ve come to realize that while it looks like a holiday, it’s actually one of our most productive times. Working on the business, not in the business. Because in making the time to relax together with like-minded people, the creative spark continues to burn bright and great ideas take form.
Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the biggest mistakes people can make in business is to think they have to go it alone. Because even if you’re a sole trader, you can still choose to spend time with others in business who inspire you. With others who understand the importance of mindset. With others who know how to think laterally and creatively. With others who can see new ways to do things bigger and better. With others who have set their sights on big ideas and are taking action to make them happen.
It’s a choice isn’t it.
Birds of a feather flock together.
Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Who could you invite into your inner circle?
In a breaking news item, CSIRO scientists have discovered gold growing on gum trees in Australia. In fact, the gold is actually growing in the leaves.
Who said the earth was flat? Who said we could never fly? Who said money doesn’t grow on trees?
Apparently what happens is the tree acts like a hydraulic pump. Sucking up gold from the deposit hidden in the ground underneath. So really, the tree is a pointer to the bigger gold deposit in the ground. And it’s going to save the environment and the mining companies a small fortune. Because they can sample the leaves, rather than having to dig huge holes in the ground.
Busting myths. Busting mindsets. It changes the world, doesn’t it.
And time and time again we need to rethink our beliefs, don’t we. Because some genius must have been thinking outside the square even to sample the leaves in the first place. Asking such great questions like… what if? Opening up the possibilities rather than being locked into everyone else’s restricted thinking.
Everything starts with a thought. And fortunes are just waiting to be found.
The only difference between a prince and pauper is how they think.
Most people don’t realise just how incredible they really are. Because they take everything at face value. Not realising that within us we have this incredible reserve of wisdom that can bring everything together perfectly.
And there are many names we can give this part of ourselves. Unconscious self, subconscious mind, higher self, the God within. But sometimes those terms are hard to grasp hold off, aren’t they. Maybe a bit out there for some people too. So I like to think of this part of myself a little like the silent partner in a business arrangement. There providing resources and support but quietly, from the sidelines. Often without even being noticed.
Take for instance you reading this sentence. How many of you realise you are using your subconscious mind to do it. Your eyes are scanning the words and your brain is making sense of them (at least I hope so). And this can only happen because you have been taught to read, little by little, lesson by lesson as a child. And once you got the hang of it you didn’t have to think about it much anymore, did you? It became automatic, relegated to the subconscious part of your mind, your memory. There to draw on whenever you need to. And the same can be said for walking, and driving and so many other things we take for granted. We really are amazing.
But that’s just the tip of it.
Is anyone watching Redesign My Brain? A brilliant little series on the ABC (its still available on ABC iview) where ordinary people are learning to use their brain in extraordinary ways. And it’s not hard to do. You just have to be open to thinking a little differently, don’t you. As Einstein said, we only use a small fraction of our brain capacity.
I wonder what could you achieve if you used even 10% more?
How would your life be different?
You probably already know I have spent the last 30 years teaching people how to get more from between their ears. Be sure to book your seat at Resolving the Mindset Riddle.
Did you hear they’ve banned goldfish bowls in Italy?
Yep, I’m serious. In the northern Italian region of Monza, home to Italy’s Formula 1 Grand Prix, they’ve banned their citizens from keeping goldfish in bowls.
Because, they argue, a fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality… and suffers because of this.
Because how many people around us have a distorted view of reality? Carrying around their own goldfish bowl of suffering.
But perhaps there is something about fish.
In an experiment years ago they placed a large fish in an aquarium with plenty of little fish to feed on. And eat it did. Until the heartless researchers placed a glass partition in the tank dividing it in two, splitting the big fish off from his food source. And of course he put up a protest. Thrashing around, banging the glass… until he realized his efforts were in vain. So he gave up. Only thing is the researchers removed the glass partition when he wasn’t looking. And the little fish began swimming all around him again. But he didn’t touch them. So convinced was he that they were beyond his reach. And so he starved to death in a sea of food.
Have you ever seen the vault in an art gallery? Sure they hang all this good stuff upstairs. Well some of it’s good. All depends on your point of view, doesn’t it. And then downstairs they have so much more. Paintings stored away for years. Hidden treasures. Some great works of art. For the most part forgotten. But still there all the same.
And our mind is just the same. Upstairs, our conscious mind contains all the stuff we are aware of. Everyday stuff like how to get to that meeting on time. Or decisions like what am I going to eat tonight? Or problem solving those mindboggling issues like how do I deal with my teenager. But it can only hold so much, can’t it. And sometimes it can be on loop. I reckon we’ve all had the experience of having too much in our mind at the one time. That’s when our heads start to spin, isn’t it.
So downstairs we all have the equivalent of the gallery vault. A huge facility to store everything that there’s no room for on the first floor. Everything that is precious and important to us. Because that’s where we tuck away our memories. And the beliefs we’ve picked up over the years. And feelings from long ago. And the programmes we’ve been conditioned with. And the experiences we’ve had. And anything else we’ve learned along the way. Both good and bad. For the most part forgotten. But still real. Just hidden away so we don’t overload the top floor like those other works of art.
But most people don’t realise that what’s downstairs affects everything we do.
I was working with someone the other day who swore black and blue he didn’t believe something. Well at least not consciously. But when we checked in with his subconscious (and this is pretty easy to do, you just need to look at what’s happening in your life to work out what’s locked in your vault downstairs) of course the belief was there. Conditioned as a child by watching his parents struggle. Little choice really but to take it on himself. Until now…
Because our real power is when we become aware of what’s tucked away inside and then take steps to change it, isn’t it. So what’s in your vault? And what do you need to chuck away?
So we know that emotions are contagious. But did you know our emotions directly affect what we see in the world? And our actual experience of it.
Take two people. One happy, one sad. Show them 50 slides of mixed emotional content. And then ask them to remember what they saw. The happy person remembers more of the happy slides. And of course the sad person… you fill it in.
Both potentials are there but the emotion is like wearing a pair of glasses that let’s you only see half the view.
And it’s because of this thing called emotional congruence. Which means we pay selective attention to our world dependent on how we feel. In plain English, we focus on the stuff around us that mirrors how we’re feeling on the inside. So if we’re feeling crappy we see more of the crappy dark side of life. Things look blacker so to speak. But if we’re feeling more positive, we see more beauty. And our creative self comes out to play. It’s quite something to think that we all live in the same world but our emotions determine what we see and how we experience it.
And instead of realising the world is just reflecting what’s inside, the temptation is to play the blame game. Gathering evidence to justify why we feel the way we do. Creating a story. Giving away our power. Rather than seeing that it’s because we feel lousy we are necessarily experiencing more of the negatives in life. And it can become a downward spiral.
Because these moods affect the way we think too. In a study out of UNSW, they talked to people who’d just been to the movies. Some people saw happy movies, some people saw sad or more aggressive movies. And then they asked them questions about things like the future, about their quality of life. Needless to say those who saw the happier movie were more optimistic than those who saw the sad or more aggressive movies.
And I’m sure everyone’s experienced at some time or another how much how we feel influences our perception of ourselves and others…
So if you want the opportunities that come with a positive mindset, it’s important to get yourself around happier people and be aware of the mood you’re in when you’re making those important decisions. Because creating happiness is a choice that we make minute to minute and day to day.
So where can you bring greater happiness into your life?
I was out star gazing last night. You know, that beautiful time of night when everything is still and the sky is crystal clear. I’d say quiet too. Except for the hundred of frogs making their incredible racket that you can really only hear at night. And as I enjoyed the night air I found myself contemplating those millions of stars sending their light from millions of light years away. Incredible to think that the star may no longer even exist and yet it still shines its light.
And then I saw the plane. Well more specifically the flashing lights that told me it wasn’t a shooting star. And it got me to thinking how the concept of flight was once just an idea in someone’s head. A possibility that challenged all known beliefs. A dream of something incredible. And where other people believed it impossible, someone held firm to the belief that it could be done. Not letting go. Believing in themselves. Ignoring the naysayers. Persisting until they found a way to achieve what they knew deep within themselves was possible.
And now it is us who get the benefits of their faith in themselves and the possibilities. I often wonder what brilliant ideas are yet to come.
Sometimes it’s the splash that gets in our eyes. And we just can’t see clearly. Can’t see what’s happening right in front of us. Or why things are happening the way they are. Not just our beliefs blinding us, but life’s unfolding. And I find it always helps to get another perspective. To distance ourselves so we can see things more clearly from different angle.
I learned this lesson years ago when I was coaching a kids water polo team. And I just couldn’t understand why the kids couldn’t understand what I was saying. Couldn’t see what I was seeing. It went a bit like this. There I was in the stands watching the game unfold below. But the kids had a different perspective. They were so highly involved down in the game. Going through the motions. Surrounded by waves of water. Trying not to drown in the process of scoring goals. Sounds a bit like life, doesn’t it.
And then one day it dawned on me that I had to show them the game as I was seeing it. So I got them all out of the pool and up in the stand. All save one kid. I left him in the water with instructions to do his thing. And in that moment everyone could see what I had been seeing. ‘So that’s what Steve’s doing!’ And it all became suddenly very clear to them.
Would it surprise you to know those kids went on to be runner’s up in the School Boys State Knockout? How’s that for performance. Second out of every high school in the entire state just by getting a different perspective.
I was looking for a book one day. So sure it was on the shelf. So sure it had a particular colour cover. So sure it was a particular size. But I couldn’t find it. I scanned the shelf three times. And then gave up. Convinced it wasn’t there. That’s when another member of the family came in with a different memory of the book. A memory of it being another colour. And another style. Smart arse found it in one minute.
And it was there all the time. I just couldn’t see it. Blinded by my own beliefs about what it was like. How it should have appeared. And I find this often happens with people. So sure things have to be a certain way that we can miss the very thing we want that’s right in front of our noses.
Beliefs. Some we’d even die for. How incredible is that? After all, beliefs are just thoughts. Thoughts we just keep thinking. Just thoughts we are so sure are true. And that’s what they become for us. Because we keep on thinking them. But I often wonder how many were ever really our beliefs to begin with. Or have we just picked them up along the way? Somebody else’s ideas we’ve taken on as our own. Some we’re ready to die for and they’re not even ours in the first place.
So what beliefs are blinding you? And what beliefs are you better to leave behind…
Every so often you see something that just takes your breath away. And that’s how I remember Liz Hayes introducing her segment on Sixty Minutes four years ago.
Because she introduced us to Braingate. A research and development programme that uses the power of people’s thoughts to give movement to people trapped in bodies that no longer work in certain ways. People experiencing paraplegia for instance.
And it’s just so brilliant. A small electrode implanted in the brain picks up their thoughts and translates these electrical signals into instructions. Much like what happens in our own bodies. But through their thoughts, people can operate robotic arms or send emails or even speak using nothing but the power and intention in their thoughts. It’s quite something to witness people using only the power of thought to drive a wheelchair. Kind of makes you realise at a whole new level just how powerful your thoughts are, doesn’t it. So powerful that there’s a whole discussion going on about being able to use this technology to turn off lights or control your tv remote for instance just by thinking about it.
Because they are so powerful. These tiny little things we take for granted. And I often wonder how much time and how many opportunities we waste thinking crappy thoughts? And what we could be achieving instead. Did you know you could strengthen a muscle just by thinking about it?
So watch your thoughts. Because the power in these little electrical impulses creates both your reality and your future.
Are your thoughts are aligned with the life you desire?
It”s an interesting thing how we attract people into our lives, isn”t it. And some we walk with for a lifetime. Others for just a little while. But always, always I have discovered these people that share my life are there to reflect back to me where I need to grow. Which makes them just the right people at just the right time. My perfect match.
Because it seems that life is one never ending onion. And that makes sense, doesn”t it. After all, if we”re spiritual beings having a physical experience there is always an opportunity for us to grow and evolve. I reckon even the Dalai Lama, as enlightened as he is, still grows daily. That’s just who we are. And how we’re meant to be.
Which brings me to the point that I don’t always like what I see in the mirror. Sometimes it fills me with frustration. And sometimes other uncomfortable feelings. But then when I remember I”m just looking in the mirror I realize the gift I am being given. My next lesson in my spiritual, emotional, mental or physical growth. Sometimes all of them.
So take some time to have a look at your mirrors. Because the people that are pressing your buttons may just be your greatest gift…
So you’ve got those great plans bubbling around inside. A vision for your life and how you want it to be. But sometimes it can seem a long way from where you are now to where you want to be. And for this reason many people don’t even start. Too overwhelming. And the procrastination takes over.
And we can often make the mistake of seeing other people’s achievements as overnight success. We don’t see the hard yards, or the sacrifice that has got them to where they are, one small step at a time.
The important thing with any great vision is to chunk it down. Bite size pieces.
And to ask yourself some great questions.
What one thing could I do today to move me toward my goals?
And then to do it!
Just one small thing each day and in a year you’ve done 365 new things. By that stage you may well be past that goal and on to the next one! And looking back, it might surprise to realise just how easy it was.
So how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
She comes to visit the office quite regularly. This pint sized little person. No more than 2 and a half foot tall. Blond curls to boot. And so gorgeous. She’d fit in her schoolbag no problem at all. She entrances us all. And it’s at these moments the office comes to a standstill.
Five pm and I watched her leave. Her mother had called her. Time to go. She carried a huge pile of things as she headed for the car. Ipad, school bag, pencils and drawings. Pretty impressive effort for a three year old. But as she obediently headed across the grass something caught her attention. And she couldn’t resist it. Stopping to turn back. Reaching down, reorganizing everything she was carrying to capture something that had captured her. A simple dandelion in the grass. Some of us see only weeds, don’t we. But she obviously saw so much more. And I held my breath as I watched her take a moment to respond its beauty. Willing her not to drop the ipad. But she managed it all. And her prize was the exquisite joy the flower gave her.
In that moment, the child became my teacher. It’s so easy to think we know more than them, just because we’re all grown up. But adult eyes can lose their focus, can’t they. Dulled by time. So caught up in our stuff it’s so easy to forget the simple pleasures.
I wonder what beauty awaits you at this very moment in time, that you may not yet have discovered…
Have you ever wondered about the wisdom of those gut feelings we all have? You know, the little voice inside that whispers, and sometimes even screams if we’re not paying attention. Urging us to do this or not to do that. And it’s saved countless people, countless times. It’s such an important skill to have, isn’t it. To be able to listen to this inner wisdom. But I wonder, how often do we act on that wisdom.? How often do we disregard it?
I heard they actually train spies to go with their gut. Not their head, not their heart. But with their gut feeling. Because it’s so important, isn’t it. And most people don’t realise there is a good deal of science behind gut instinct. And how it works. Because the more we discover about the brain the more we understand how it all comes together. Understanding ourselves. It’s one of the last great frontiers, isn’t it. This brilliant mind we all possess. And don’t always make the best use of.
The brain gurus that know all about neuroscience will tell you our brain and our gut are intricately connected. In fact they call the 100 million nerve cells in our gut, our second brain. Can you believe there’s more nerve cells in our gut than there are in our spinal cord? And in any given situation our brain is processing millions of bits of data at lightening speed. Working out the best way forward. Sending it’s chemical messages through our bodies to make sure our response is the right one. Have you ever stopped to acknowledge just how brilliant you really are?
There’s a story of a fireman who saved his entire crew from dying in a fiery furnace. Gut instinct it was. And when you understand that our minds retain the memory of everything we’ve ever encountered, you can understand why a new situation that doesn’t seem ‘quite right’ can set off the alarm bells. And on this day, this firee was listening to his inner wisdom. As he stood within the flames, his subconscious mind scanned the memory of every fire he had ever fought. Comparing it to this one he faced now. Everything happening at lightening speed. He wouldn’t even have been aware he was doing it. But the gut feeling he felt in response told him this one was different. And it took him only seconds to respond to the little voice that said ‘get out’. Ordering evacuation for his entire team just before the backdraft hit, just before the whole building blew sky high. A hero because he followed his gut instincts. Powerful things those.
Is there a situation in your life you need to follow your gut instinct with? It’s so important to listen to our inner wisdom, isn’t it.
Days like this just beckon me to swing in the hammock and dream away a few hours. And while some might see this as indulgent, my experience tells me otherwise. Because when we’re relaxed and in that space the messages we send our subconscious are all the more clear. And it knows what to do. To make it all happen. I love that idea that the conscious mind is like a camera. After all, it’s the part that takes the photos which then imprint on our subconscious. And so I am sure I feed my mind only the images of the future I want to enjoy. Carefully stepped out frame by frame.
And I think back to my younger days I was caught daydreaming in class. Didn’t we just cop it. Or those times when to stop and daydream was mistaken for laziness. As a culture we’ve learned not to dream, haven’t we. Had it beaten out of us. Because being busy is seen as a sign of strength. Not dreaming. What a mistake we’ve made. Because when we slow down we are at our most creative.
So it’s no wonder we all work so hard. Because we don’t take the time to plan it with our minds first. And it’s just common sense that all great creations begin with an idea, isn’t it. That computer or the phone you’re reading this on was once just a thought in someone’s mind. Thoughts made real. Hey, did you know you could strengthen a muscle by visualising it almost as much you can by actually moving it! Not suggesting for a moment you should be just lying around in that hammock all day, but imagine what you could get done in half the time by putting your mind on the job as well as your time and grunt.
So when was the last time you stopped to actively day dream? Where are your dreams taking you?
Last week I was driving behind this truck working its way slowly up the hill. And just as I noticed the unfortunate creature sticking its head over the top (no doubt on the way to the abattoir), a river of effluent poured out the bottom. Completely spraying the front of my car. Of course, two choices presented themselves. And so I made the choice to laugh out loud and drop back a little to prevent a repeat performance. There’s nothing like a good laugh to diffuse a situation, is there.
They say S**T Happens! And it does. Sometimes piles of it. But what is more important than the stuff that happens to us, is the way we respond. Because that’s something we do get to control, isn’t it. And we always have a choice.
This guy who calls himself The Happy Buddha tells a great story about two arrows. The first arrow – those things in life over which we have little or no control, can stab us in the heart. That’s just a part of life isn’t it. But what do we usually do? We pick up a second arrow and stab ourselves in the heart with the thoughts that run through our head. Pretty stupid, huh! The stories we create about the situation. Making our situation and how we feel, so much worse.
Losing a job, a failed relationship. The first arrow can be so many things, can’t it. And I’m not pretending they’re not painful. They are. And they are a part of being human. But what we tell ourselves about these experiences is so much more important. And over the years I’ve come to realise no matter what happens, I can take a moment to pause before responding. And I can check the thoughts running through my head. If I tell myself it’s all useless I will only increase the misery. But if I take the time to notice instead the opportunity that comes with each and every experience, and change the thoughts running through my head, then I give myself a gift.
So take the time to notice your thoughts. Notice your stories about the situations in your life that cause you pain. What are you telling yourself? Is it possible that you could you be telling yourself something better? How would that affect your day? How would that change your life…
I drove in to the office this morning with a strong sense of gratitude. The sun is finally shining again, for Canberra it’s actually warm outside and the day is pure magic. What a trifecta.
And what I found was that this sense of gratitude just seemed to snowball. Because there are so many things we can be thankful for, aren’t there. As soon as I thought of one thing, another one came to mind. And it continued for some time. The windscreen must have felt so good.
But the great thing about gratitude is that it makes us feel good too. Happy, feel good chemicals flow through our bodies whenever we think those thankful thoughts. Not only does gratitude make others feel appreciated, it causes us to shift gear in our brains. And that turns on the happy juice for us too. A pretty awesome bonus, huh. Every wondered why people say grace or a take a moment’s pause before a meal? Because gratitude has physical consequences. Religion aside, the simple act of thankfulness slows us down, bringing us into the present. Enabling us to switch out of our stress and busyness and switch on our happy feelings. Which naturally switches on our digestion. Makes sense, doesn’t it. Such brilliant engineering.
But even more than this, gratitude is the very best way we can affirm our hearts desires, giving ourselves the very best chance of receiving them. Simply by giving thanks as if we have already received them. And by releasing those feel good chemicals, we can lock in the idea of what it is we want. Straight into our subconscious. You know, that awesome gift we all have. It’s a real treasure house so many people are yet to discover, let alone make full use of. And like a dog with bone, an idea once locked in to your subconscious has no choice but to take form in your life. Just give it the idea of what you want, and get out of its way, because it will do everything in its power to get it for you. No wonder they say, be careful what you wish for.
So for what you already have and the good things yet to come, what are you grateful for today?
An attitude of gratitude. It makes sense to practice it daily.
So we have this rooster. He’s kind of adopted us. A runaway from the farm next door. Not surprising. The farmer pens him up, clips his wings and shoots him with rat shot trying to keep him from straying. And they reckon nature’s harsh. Besides, our hens probably look much happier. And so for the past month or so he has ventured over despite the ensuing punishment. Not much point in trying to send him home, he only comes back the next day. Roosting in the trees at night. Cleverly avoiding foxes. And he doesn’t bother us. In fact the girls seem pretty happy about the new arrival. And he’s quite the pretty boy.
Well last week, he decided our place was home as he put himself to bed with the girls. Half his luck. Quite a harem. And we decided it was time to sort this out once and for all. A casual visit to the neighbour and we offered to buy him a new rooster. It seems he had been traded in for greener pastures. But to our surprise the neighbour didn’t want a new rooster. In fact, he was just about ready to end the rooster’s days on earth and send him on to those greener pastures in the sky. It turns out he was just bringing him home any way he could because he thought the rooster was bugging us. But truth is we weren’t bugged at all.
And I often wonder how often we get the story wrong. Make the wrong assumptions (would it be appropriate to suggest we go off half-cocked so to speak?). And it’s only in looking back we realize that what we thought was the case was really something else entirely. Well it almost ended in tears for the rooster. A near miss. He’s one lucky guy.
Is there a situation in your life you need to get clear about? Maybe now’s the best time of all….
I was listening to breakfast radio last week. Driving in traffic, so I had the dial on classical. You know, to keep the calm vibes flowing as I dealt with all the other drivers on the road. It’s incredible how the type of music you listen to affects your brain.
But the thing that really got me was when this very conservative radio station asked a truly awesome question.
‘What’s beyond eternity?’
I bet it had some people choking on their cornflakes. Challenging the here and now. After all, how do you even begin to answer a question like that?
And they began to tell the story of Arthur Stace. A man probably better known as Mr Eternity. A Sydney legend. And yet an ordinary man who had had his share of challenges. For a long time addicted to alcohol, he found faith in a higher source and turned his life around in the most beautiful way. And the gift he gave was to chalk the word ‘eternity’ on Sydney pavements to inspire others. Twenty four times he avoided arrest. But the most incredible thing is he was illiterate. Couldn’t even write his name legibly. It turns out the only word he could write was ‘eternity’ in that hauntingly beautiful script. Even he couldn’t understand it. Because it’s one of those great mysteries, isn’t it. How magic happens when we’re in flow.
Just before the 9am news, I held my breath in wonder at a listener’s response…
‘We are in eternity, we just have to still the mind and live in the present’
It kind of slowed things down. One of those awesome ‘aha’s that made me stop and reassess.
What’s beyond eternity? If we’re already living it I guess that means we have all the time in the world, doesn’t it. And I wonder in realising this, how will you choose to live your life today?
I was taking a moment out last week. Sitting there, looking out across the paddocks. Carving myself out a peaceful interlude in the busy-ness of life. It’s important to do that, isn’t it. And then it caught my eye. An eagle in all its magnificence. Soaring gracefully. Catching the currents. Almost a meditation just sitting there in its presence. Mesmerized by it’s beauty. It seemed effortless.
And I had to laugh. Because in the very next moment a bunch of black and white feathers grabbed my attention. A magpie. Working really hard. Wings beating furiously as it moved across the sky. It was really making very heavy weather of it all. If only it had realized.
Because it got me to thinking. Two birds. Both with the same gift of flight. But using this gift so differently. One choosing to soar while the other is caught in struggle. Blinded to all the other possibilities.
It’s an awesome gift that as humans we have a brain that allows us to make choices, isn’t it. Choices about how we’re going to do life. Because if we don’t like how it’s working, we can always make a better choice, can’t we.
I wonder what you could do right now to make your life a little easier…