Terminal

It’s terminal.

That was the diagnosis.

The room was quiet except for the rhythmic beat of the monitors.

They weren’t sure how to respond since this was not what they had expected to hear.

But in their hearts they understood the diagnosis and appreciated the candid, honest manner in which it was delivered.

They had a decision to make.

How would they spend the time they were given?

As they held their newborn baby, they knew the countdown clock of life had started.

The race was on. The doctor was right.

The diagnosis of life is terminal.

Until proven otherwise, the clock is counting down for all of us. We all have a terminal condition.

This is not to say that you should focus on death, in fact quite the opposite because it’s guaranteed so thinking about it is wasted time.

Focus on living.

Focus on doing everything you can to really appreciate life and making the most of the time you have. Empty your days, filling your life.

Kryptonite

Kryptonite was the fictional material that was able to drain Superman of his strength.

What is your kryptonite?

What people, environments and activities add to, or drain from your mental and physical energy levels?

How can you experience more of the positive and less of the negative?

You can start by learning to attune yourself to how your energy levels feel when you are engaged in activities or with people. Your body has the ability to read the environment and provide you with sensations and signals that enable you to distinguish between positive and negative energy.

Removing yourself from energy draining activities is an ideal situation but not always possible. So, if you find yourself having to be in toxic environments then you can learn to anchor your mind to thoughts that bring you pleasure. You can also learn to detox your mind after dealing with people that negatively affect your energy.

The key is to learn to listen and feel your energy. Identify your kryptonite. And move away from it as much as you can so you can preserve your superpowers.

Better

What does being better mean to you?

How do you experience your desire to be better?

The desire to look better, feel better, live better?

Everyone you know is trying to get better.

When questioned, even those that look like they have given up, secretly have a desire to be better.

They are trying because it’s the human condition. It’s what has enabled us to survive as a species.

The problem with the constant desire for better is that it can breed discontent. Discontent between how you are today versus where you want to be.

Your ability to deal with feelings of discontent as you work towards being better is skill worth developing because it will be your best friend on your journey to getting better.

Focus

How long does a juggler juggle?

I know, it sounds like a riddle but it’s not.

You’ve probably watched a juggler juggle only for a few minutes before stopping. And jugglers are experts at focusing on many things at once.

So what about you?

How many things to do try to focus on at one time?

Distraction or unfocused attention consumes higher amounts of your brains energy when you are trying to complete a single task. And the quality of the task at hand also suffers.

Try focusing on one thing for as little as 20 minutes. If just the thought of 20 minutes uninterrupted time sounds too long and causes you anxiety then that’s something you should consider looking in to.

Your ability to focus on a given task even for a short period of time without interruptions is highly effective and is a great way to increase your productivity without extra effort.

Bookend Your Days

What are the first and last thoughts of your day?

What are your first and last words of your day?

How do you bookend your days?

Think of the first and last minutes of your day as critical points on a journey that will dictate the direction of your thoughts.

Summoning words and thoughts of endearment, kindness and love towards yourself and others gives you sense of calm and well-being.

Meditating for a moment on feelings of gratitude and love has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, which in turn is great for your overall physical health too.

Make an effort to consciously bookend your days, it doesn’t cost anything but few minutes of daily exercised thoughts away from negative feelings and influences. And that can’t be a bad thing.

You’ve Changed

When was the last time someone said to you “you’ve changed?”

I can almost guarantee that the words were not used in a positive context.

Whenever you decide to behave in a way that confronts how people closest to you view you, you will feel the pressure to remain the same.

You see, the world around you needs you to remain stable so it can categorize you. And you oblige by staying in your groove until it becomes a rut.

Do you know studies have shown in some cases when one partner in a relationship loses weight the other partner can’t handle it. This happens because there is a change in behavior that is outside the norm of the relationship.

This is the reason that if you’ve ever traveled alone or spent time away from your environment you’re able to take on a different persona. Because your new, temporary location doesn’t have any notion or expectation of who you are.

The next time someone tells you ‘you’ve changed,’ you can choose to fight against it and argue why you haven’t, or you can embrace it, knowing that you’re working hard to do so.

Take a Step Back

Take a minute to imagine your perfect day.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Did you do it?

If you didn’t then why not?

“If you want to accomplish something, you must first expect it of yourself.”

Sit with this Wayne Dyer quote for a moment.

Do you take time out to expect things of yourself?

Are you always moving from to do, to the next to do without stopping and asking why?

Constantly moving from one task or activity to the next doesn’t allow you to gain any perspective on the bigger picture of life. It’s like viewing the world through microscope.

If you want to live a life where you feel you have influence over your choices, you have to allow yourself time to stop and take a step back.

Step back to give yourself time to imagine, consider and think about what you want to accomplish and then as Wayne so eloquently said “expect it of yourself.”

The Challenge of On Demand

In a world that this moving towards all your personal needs being met on demand, personalized and delivered instantly what happens to patience?

What happens to your ability to give another person a few seconds to respond to your question before you reach for your phone because they’re taking too long?

What happens to your ability to spend time on a project because it is taking too long?

What happens when you begin to expect everything now?

You see, even though your brain has the fantastic ability to adapt to its environment sometimes the adaptation can become a liability.

Getting used to everything being on demand erodes your ability to exercise patience. And patience is an integral part of being human.

Patience with people, patience with projects and even patience with yourself is a skill that will serve you well and should be practiced.

Perhaps you can learn to summon patience, on demand.

Mastering the Beginner

Who isn’t a professional beginner?

Well, at one time we were all professional beginners and some still are.

When you decide that being a beginner is no longer for you, then you limit your possibilities.

Don’t shy away from being a beginner, embrace it. In fact, be so brave as to run towards it.

Yes, you will feel awkward at first, but that’s part of the process. If fact, when you hear the story of any person that has mastered their field, you will often hear them say ‘at first I had no idea what I was doing.’

Your ability to master the uncertainty of being a beginner will exponentially increase your life experiences because you will not be afraid to try new things.

Remember, you were once a beginner at walking, talking and even thinking for yourself yet with practice and time you were able to master those critical skills that keep you alive.

Becoming a master at being a beginner is a freeing feeling. Own it proudly because ultimately it will enrich your life.

The Invisible Cage

How do you escape from an invisible cage?

If you can’t see it then how do you know it exists?

Well, there’s proof it does exist.

And the proof is in the feeling you get when you hear the little voice in your head say “what will they think?”

Does it sound familiar?

If you listen carefully you can hear it right now.

It’s warming up for the day, just waiting for you to think about doing something. That’s right, you just have to think about doing something and the voice will jump in to action.

You will hear it in its full authority.

“You’re going to wear that?’ “What will they think?”

“You’re going say that?” “What will they think?”

“You’re going to do that?” “What will they think?”

And over time each time the voice says “what will they think?” another bar of the invisible cage will seal your fate. Until finally your entire existence will be based on ‘what will they think.’

And one day you’ll wake up and realize they weren’t thinking about you at all, because they were too busy thinking about themselves and what you think about them.

Power of Conversation

When the last time you were so engrossed in conversation that time became inconsequential and you didn’t’ check your phone or watch?

It’s challenging these days to carve out time because of the number of tasks and over commitments that we’ve become accustomed to. But rushing through every interaction with only the next thing in mind will create a hollow feeling for you and the people you’re communicating with.

Shallow conversations are easy to have, but they don’t allow you experience the essence of the person you’re speaking to.  And it is in understanding essence of an individual that allows you develop empathy, appreciation and bond with another person.

Research shows that making time for meaningful uninterrupted conversations are essential for long term well-being. So the next time you have the opportunity to have a conversation, put away your phone, forget about the next thing you have to do, lean in and enjoy the moment. You and the person you’re with will both benefit from the experience.

X Factor

What’s 2 +2?

100 + 100?

It’s about to get harder.

1+X?

Stumped?

When you see a person behaving a certain way, all you see is the 1 in the equation. The X represents a set of unknowns, the X represents their unique experiences that are driving them to make decisions they believe to be correct.

It’s easy to assume you know why a person is acting the way they are, but what about when it comes to you?

How do you feel when someone makes an assumption about your behavior because that’s all they see in the moment?

Every individual is a complex decision making machine and it’s almost impossible to know why people really do what they do, so ruminating about why a person is acting the way they are is a waste of your imagination.

Remember, the person next to you is just as complicated as you and they are ultimately acting in a way they believe is best for them, as you are too.

Here for a Reason

Where would you be if you weren’t here right now?

Think about it for minute.

There is no other alternative.

You are exactly where you are meant to be.

Once you surrender to the fact that you are here for a reason, life takes on a new essence. You will begin to stop resisting and pushing back against situations that you think are happening to you and realize that life is happening for you.

Surrendering doesn’t mean you give up and stop pursuing dreams and goals. It means that you accept both the good and bad, the wins and losses as you move forward.

The question about why you are here will rarely be obvious, and only in hindsight will you be able to connect the dots and see that you were here for a reason.

Contempt

How do you feel when people fail to live up to your expectations?

Are you familiar with the phrase ‘familiarity breeds contempt?’ What this means is that once you get to know a person for a while you get to know all their shortcomings and weaknesses. And once you begin to focus on their shortcomings then there’s a danger that’s all you will see.

So the person you once admired or looked up to now becomes, less than. They become an ordinary human.

Contempt is a very dangerous feeling to foster towards any individual and if it’s not controlled it will severely damage any relationship.

You can counter contempt by focusing on the positive traits of an individual and by re-evaluating your expectations. Empathy is also a powerful tool to use against the feeling of contempt.

Lastly, keep in mind that everyone has shortcomings and best amongst us has a ‘shine’ that eventually wears off. And if you’ve been contemptuous towards others they will have a hard time being empathetic towards you.

Possible?

What is really possible?

No one really knows because this word is only based in the realm of activities that are able to be done with the current set of known capabilities. But people will be quick to tell you what can’t be done because they see the world through what they know and experience.

Impossible things are being done on a daily basis, just read the headlines of a news outlet or checkout Guinness world records and you’ll find a list of what was once considered impossible.

There might be real limitations that are temporary and currently prevent certain activities, but many make the mistake of seeing temporary as permanent.

What is possible will always be in a state of constant change and it’s up to you to keep testing and pushing all your current known boundaries in order to find out what you are really capable of doing.

Research and Development

What is your personal R&D budget?

It’s no coincidence that Google, Samsung, Toyota, and several other companies that are leaders in their industry also have the largest R&D budgets.

What do they know at a company level that you should know on an individual level?

They know that spending a portion of their resources, think time and money, towards researching and developing new ideas and products is a key to their success.

Since you are your own product, do you have a plan on how you will improve yourself or do you leave it to chance?

How much of your time and money do you intentionally spend on improving yourself?

Do you think improvement will happen by accident?

You can rapidly improve your health, relationships or any other area of your life in a relatively short amount of time if you make a concerted effort.

Perhaps you don’t give it the formal term of R&D, but you should seriously consider allocating a portion of your own resources to improving whatever area of life is important to you.

Know Thyself

Socrates said “man know thyself.”

Do you think trying to find out who you are is time well spent?

Do you believe that you are worth the investment?

Being selfish is often associated as a negative behavior trait, but that’s not true in all cases. Especially if being selfish and prioritizing time for yourself makes you a better person to those around you.

Investing time to know who you are at your core, knowing your strengths and weakness, your likes and dislikes, what makes you thrive, will make you a better person to be around. It will also enable you contribute at your highest level.

A professional in any field will tell you that one of the keys to their success is identifying their weaknesses as soon as possible. And the only way to this is by taking time for introspection and self-reflection.

Knowing yourself doesn’t have to mean that you go off in to the woods for years, unless you really want to. It does however mean that you take a few minutes out of your day or week to reflect on situations and interactions to understand how you behaved and felt during those times. This will help you learn what you should do more or less of.

Taking time to know who you are is an investment that will compound over time and the sooner you find out, the greater your returns will be, not only for yourself but for others too.

Not Done Yet

What kind of punctuation are you?

I know this might sound a little confusing but stick with me for a minute.

The period, also known as the full stop. If you’re reading this then the great news is that you’re not a period because you haven’t come to full stop yet.

The comma. We’re all commas at times. We all slow down to rest for moment and catch our breath before we continue.

The ellipses. I realized that this is my favorite after my five year old daughter came home from school last week and shared that she had learned what the three dots meant. She raised her eyebrows, smiled and said “it means, I’m not done yet.”

We’re all on our way to becoming periods, but it’s a nice reminder to hear once in a while that I’m not done yet and neither are you.

SWAG

What’s a good way to start something new?

I’ll give you three clues.

  1. It’s an unscientific method
  2. Almost anyone can do it
  3. You’ll probably be wrong

Did you get the answer?

Did you take a guess?

Well if you did guess then that’s the answer, a guess.

When you’re not sure about how do to something one of the best places to start is with a guess.

SWAG is a very ‘sophisticated’ term used in many industries. It stands for Silly Wild A** Guess, essentially your best guess with the information you have at hand.

So the next time you’re thinking about starting something new but are not sure what to do first, just ask yourself this question, if I HAD to start now what would I do first, and proceed with your best guess. It will at least get you started.

A Key to Learning

Do you know that there is a short yet powerful phrase that you can learn which is both liberating and empowering?

It’s a phrase that you’ve probably said before, but with hesitation.

It’s a phrase that when used correctly can be your springboard to learning and opening your mind to new opportunities.

However, this phrase requires you to be confident. It requires you to be humble.

It will be obvious once you see it, but when you do, don’t just read it, say it out loud.

Are you ready?

Wait! First a quick promise between me and you that you will say it out loud.

Okay, here’ goes.

Say, ‘I don’t know’ out loud.

Did you do it?

How did it feel?

Admitting to not knowing is your opportunity to learn.

I know that there are times when you feel like you’re expected to know everything and it’s very easy to pretend that you do, but the reality is that none of us have all the answers.

So the next time you’re asked a question and you don’t have the answer, admit to not knowing and follow it up with, but I can find out. Not only will you find this freeing, you will also find that you will be more open to trying new things.