PEAK PERFORMANCE JOURNEY SCOTT FITE INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................4 THE BIKE............................................................................................................5 BECOMING A LIFE ARCHEOLOGIST ...........................................................6 PEAK NOTES.....................................................................................................7 PEAK EARLY RISER ........................................................................................9 MIND MAPPING ...............................................................................................10 PEAK MUSIC....................................................................................................11 LIPSTICK ON A PIG ........................................................................................12 THE POWER OF REFRAMING......................................................................13 I QUIT! I DIDN’T! .............................................................................................14 SETTING BOUNDARIES ................................................................................15 NEEDS OF THE WORLD................................................................................16 FAÇADE............................................................................................................17 CARING AND A BUSINESS ATTITUDE.......................................................18 THE COLONEL ................................................................................................19 BEGIN!! .............................................................................................................20 BUT I DON’T WANT TO HAVE GOALS! ......................................................21 A SMALL GARDENER....................................................................................22 ROOT BOUND .................................................................................................23 WRITING FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE .......................................................24 THE 3 WEEK BARRIER..................................................................................25 TAKING RISKS ................................................................................................26 WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK? ..................................................................27 PICKING COTTON...........................................................................................28 WHITEWATER .................................................................................................29 COVEY ISN’T FOR EVERYONE!...................................................................30 TREASURE MAPS ..........................................................................................32 The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 2 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. REINVENTING OURSELVES.........................................................................33 BE THERE ........................................................................................................35 PROTOTYPING................................................................................................37 EYE OF THE TIGER ........................................................................................39 OLYMPIC ATHLETES AND SELF TO SELF COMPARISON....................40 THE GOAL TRAIN ...........................................................................................41 YOUR MASTERPIECE....................................................................................42 THE EXPOSED ZONE.....................................................................................43 THE PRESSURE COOKER............................................................................44 MISTAKES........................................................................................................45 CAPTURE THAT THOUGHT!.........................................................................46 GRAB THAT TOEHOLD! ................................................................................47 ONE EVENT, TWO VIEWS .............................................................................48 SPIDER WEBS.................................................................................................49 CONCLUSION..................................................................................................50 The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 3 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. INTRODUCTION Thanks for reading Peak Performance Journey. I hope this ebook benefits you on your journey to reach peak performance in your life. This is a collection of thoughts and articles that I’ve written and distributed over the years as part of my personal/life coaching newsletter, Peak Performance Now. To signup and receive the free newsletter via email, visit http://www.lifedesigncenter.com I love personal coaching! It's a wonderful opportunity to help others achieve greatness! For the last several years, I have witnessed the benefits of coaching in people’s lives. Clients have included corporate executives, writers, entrepreneurs, clients involved in multi level marketing, college students, people in career transition, homemakers, and retired individuals. Coaching can make a difference to a very wide variety of clients. The principles are universal. I have worked for corporations (large and small), worked with governments (state and local), worked in retail, taught at the college level, worked as a consultant; as a manager, have led; as an employee, have followed. From working at one of the world's largest technology companies, to selling pumpkins on the front sidewalk as a child, I've seen many of the different colors of life. The stages of life may change, but many of the themes remain the same. Even though I learned a great deal and was successful in the corporate world, I have changed gears, and currently live in the southeastern United States, in a beautiful rural community with my wife, 2 kids and a dog. For fun, I run 5 miles every day, am an avid whitewater kayaker, and love all kinds of books. I love to travel and explore new and different cultures and places. My current coaching work, stems from a desire to help others reach a higher level of peak performance in their lives. I strongly believe that a coach can motivate others and help them achieve much higher levels of performance than they could achieve alone. I hope you enjoy the collection of stories that I’ve written! Please email me with your comments! And, consider sending a copy of this book to your friends via email. Live Your Dreams! Scott Fite email@example.com The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 4 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE BIKE I bought the bike to get more exercise. In my mind, I imagined losing a few extra pounds, and feeling healthier. But, my experiences with the bike proved to be far more fascinating and multidimensional than I could ever imagine. I went to the bike shop and picked out a sleek looking, black, 10-speed racer; added a few additional accessories; loaded it in my car; and headed home. Once there, I jumped on the bike and began pedaling down the road beside my house. As I rode through my neighborhood, on a road I had traveled hundreds of times before in my car, a new world suddenly appeared. On my bike, I could smell things. On my bike, I could hear things. On my bike, I traveled slowly enough to really see things. In the past, I sped down these roads in my car; which was an insulating bubble. Windows tightly rolled up. Radio blasting. Going as fast as the speed limit allowed. But now, I could smell freshly mown grass. I could hear animal sounds. I could feel the wind on my face. I could see subtle details of old weathered barns, variations in the color of tree leaves, and many small things that had been invisible before. I had stepped out of the bubble of my car and began to rediscover my neighborhood. Traveling down roads at slower speeds, I found I could now shout greetings to my neighbors, and could easily pull my bike over to the side of the road and spend a few minutes chatting with them. If I saw something really interesting, I could stop and explore. My physical fitness improved, and I began to ride and explore further. My senses became heightened and sharpened, and I began to see, hear, and feel, more details and textures. I rode my bike frequently that summer. There were dogs that liked to chase me, cars that passed too closely, and swarms of bugs that suddenly appeared near dusk; but overall the experience was wonderful. I ride my bike less frequently these days, but many times when I'm traveling down a back road in my car, I'll slow down, turn off the radio, roll down the windows, and really enjoy my journey. That summer, I learned there was a tremendous amount of beauty and diversity I routinely passed by, unnoticed and not experienced. Before, I had been so intent on reaching my destination in "the bubble;" of my comfortable vehicle, that I missed it. The bike also taught me a larger lesson: Today I strive to make sure I don't live my life in a bubble. Frequently, I make myself slow down, roll down my mental windows, turn down my mental radio, and experience the beautiful colors and details of my life journeys more intimately. Life is a series of journeys. We are all constant travelers, and time spent at destinations is all too brief. Enjoy your journeys. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 5 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. BECOMING A LIFE ARCHEOLOGIST Our lives are a montage of events. A flurry of activity. Running here and running there. Details. Details. A blur. Lots of movement, but how much accomplishment? Of all the activity we engage in, how much of our energy do we direct toward fulfilling our central mission in life? How much of our lives is fluff and noise? How do we cut through all this noise to find direction? One way is to become a life archeologist. Archeologists sift through rubble and undergrowth to find treasures from the past. With careful attention to detail, they dig through debris and construct meaningful patterns and bring order to artifacts and material. Using the tools of their trade, they dig up objects of great beauty and historical value. Shovels, hand trowels, toothbrushes, and sifting boxes all are used to retrieve ancient artifacts. In our lives we can also become life archeologists. Digging through ourselves to find treasures buried deep inside. In my coaching practice, I employ a technique called “coactive coaching.” This coaching method assumes that clients already know how to better their lives, but the noise and flurry of everyday existence makes it difficult for them to see the way. So, I too become a kind of archeologist, helping people dig through themselves to find their true direction in life. Like a field archeologist, a life archeologist has several tools. One powerful tool is journaling. Journaling is a way to dig out thoughts and place them on paper. The act of journaling causes deeper reflection on issues. Putting thoughts on paper allows us to see patterns that would otherwise not be apparent. Journaling is a time for focused thought. A way to really be able to dig deep in areas that otherwise are only probed lightly. Consider journaling thoughts every day. Another life archeologist tool is questions. Questions are a wonderful cutting tool. They cut through issues and problems quickly. For example: Let’s say, I want to begin an exercise program. A fine goal, but not thoroughly carved out and polished. Let’s use questions to do this. Question: OK, So what will this exercise program do for you. Answer: Improve my health. Question: How much would you need to exercise to improve your health? Answer: 4 times a week. Question: What would these exercise programs consist of? Answer: 30 minutes of aerobics and 20 minutes of strength training. I know that asking questions seem to be a trivial thing, but it is so powerful. I see it time and time again in my coaching practice. Clients have very broad desires that haven’t been cut into appropriate size chunks. The large chunks are many times too large to bite off and chew, so nothing is eaten. Chunking down goals through questions is an extremely important activity. Ask: why? Ask: how much? Ask: by when? Ask: when exactly? Ask: why not? Ask yourself questions in your journal. Create morning power questions, such as: What am I happy about today? What am I excited about today? What am I proud of today? Use the power of questions to focus your energy like light can be focused into a powerful laser beam. Becoming a life archeologist means searching yourself for the things that matter to you. What gives you the deepest sense of satisfaction? What makes you happy? What are your goals for the next month; the next year; the next five years; for the rest of your life? Why are you here? Why does your life matter? Digging up these core issues takes work, but the beautiful treasures unearthed more than make up for the effort involved. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 6 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. PEAK NOTES On our journey to achieve peak performance we encounter many teachers, mentors, and situations which have the potential to greatly influence or lives. A particular speaker at a seminar may offer an inspiring message. A religious leader may deliver a deeply moving sermon. A relative may share a fascinating story of overcoming a life obstacle. How much of the detail and texture of these events do we truly remember? Our minds can hold a great deal of information, but without reinforcement and without some type of assistance, this information can soon become lost. Our minds can remember the basic theme and structure of an event. Think of this like a human body. Our skeletons form our basic structure. But, a skeleton is not very interesting. The flesh and blood of our bodies and all the other details that make us human result in us being very different than just a collection of bones. When we think back on a life-influencing event, our minds may remember only the skeleton of the event. How do we remember more? How do we capture the event in our minds so that we can remember it with flesh and blood? One of the best methods for helping this problem is note taking. Many of us have had points in our lives, maybe in school, where note taking was done on a regular basis. Most everyone in a class took notes while listening to a teacher. These notes were referred to later, after a lecture, or in preparation for a test. In school, everyone around me took notes. But, with many of us, this is the only area in our lives influenced by note taking. Recently, I attended a Sunday morning religious service. While listening to the sermon, I thought about note taking. I looked around the church and saw that nobody was taking notes. I remembered back for many years and realized that in that environment, I couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone taking notes. I decided to take notes. I discovered that when taking notes I listened better. My focus was more intense. My mind didn’t drift. I was forced to see different patterns. But most of all, later that day, when I reviewed my notes, I could remember the flesh and blood of the service. Details that I had already forgotten that day were there in my notes. And reading my notes allowed me to see a central theme. I could better see how particular stories told that day were related to the central theme. Reading my notes burned details into my mind. Later that week, I reviewed my notes again. Each review burned the details deeper and deeper into my mind. Now, I can think back on that particular religious service and remember details, stories, and an important theme that could have been lost. What a difference note taking can make! I now take notes while watching inspiring TV programs. While surfing the net. When I hear something anywhere that is interesting. Note taking helps to capture those thoughts, situations, and occurrences for later reflection. Do you practice effective note taking? When involved in an event, it doesn’t seem important to take notes. We think we will remember the details forever. But our minds don’t work that way. Short-term memory quickly gets dumped and replaced with new events. Take notes. But don’t just file them away and forget them. Review your notes immediately after an event. Clean up and add details to note items. Burn the information in your mind. Develop a good filing system that allows you to retrieve information quickly. Consider using technology. I’ve recently started using one of the new palm computers. It’s small enough to carry everywhere. I can pull it out, take some notes and put it back in my The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 7 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. pocket. I’ve set up different files for different type notes. Later, I can load the information into my word processor and clean it up. The next time you find yourself someplace where you wouldn’t normally take notes, pull out your pen or your computer, and start writing! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 8 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. PEAK EARLY RISER I typically get up around 5:00am. By rising early, I have a tremendous amount of quiet time in the morning. Time for personal reflection. Writing in my journal. Time for planning. Nobody else is up before at least 6:00am. Nobody calls on the telephone. Other activities never interfere. This time is always mine. At 6:00, I exercise. Typically, a 5 mile run. By 7:00am, I’ve had a full morning to physically and mentally prepare for the day. This early preparation makes the rest of the day flow much better. Becoming an early riser is not easy. For some reason, most of us want to sleep until the “last minute.” But, we end up jumping out of bed, rushing through breakfast, dashing into the shower, and running out the door to work. By the time we arrive there, we already feel stressed. Consider setting an alarm clock far away from your bed. It’s too easy to roll over and turn the alarm button off, or press the snooze button if it is on the nightstand close by. The hardest thing about getting up, is actually getting up! The first few minutes are the barrier. Once you’re past it, the process is not very difficult. Adjusting your bedtime may be necessary, in order to get an appropriate amount of sleep. I challenge you to try getting up earlier for at least one week. Even if it is just 15 minutes earlier. Take this time and use it for personal reflection, planning time, or just sit alone quietly. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 9 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. MIND MAPPING When I work with coaching clients, there are many tools and methods that can be used to help people better design and plan their lives. Without these tools, planning is difficult, and a life can resemble a falling leaf; floating in the breeze; no charted direction or self determination. At the mercy of outside forces. But, some order and design can be introduced into our lives to help us meet goals and reach higher levels of peak performance. Just as an architect has tools for designing structures, we can use tools to help design their lives. One simple tool that works great is called Mind Mapping. Select a simple word or concept and write it in the middle of a piece of paper. Radiating from that, draw lines to other simple words that relate to the central concept. From these new words, continue the process, branching off to other words. You create a large tree-like structure. Each main branch flowing from the central concept should be drawn with a different color. Also, each main branch directly connected to the central concept should have a small picture associated with it. It also helps to use different styles of text on different main branches. Because our brains work with pictures and associations, in addition to words, a mind map gives us the ability to see things from a different perspective. Because all topics radiate equally from the center, there is no perceived ranking of branches, as is sometimes assumed from simple lists. Mind maps can be used for a variety of things: note taking, brainstorming, group discussions, project planning, weekly planning, and others. One great advantage to mind mapping is the ability to quickly memorize the map. The different pictures and colors allow our brains to imprint a very vivid mental picture of the information. I’ve used this technique very effectively when giving presentations. I mind map the presentation on a single sheet of paper and spend some time memorizing it. I generally work around the map clockwise. If I get stuck, I can quickly glance at my mind map and see where I need to move next. One of the very best uses is for mapping lives. Specifically, place your name in the center. Radiating from that, create branches for each of your roles in life. (Father, Manger, Spouse, Friend, etc) Radiating out from each of these role branches, create multiple goals. The resulting map can be a blueprint for more effective living. Also, for more information, Amazon.Com carries several good books on the subject. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 10 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. PEAK MUSIC During my college years, I was fortunate enough to date a girl for several years that majored in Music Therapy. A major I had never heard of at the time. But, quickly I began to understand it. I began to see how powerful music could be. She showed me how musical tunes could dramatically impact moods of many types of people. Nursing home patients who heard songs from their youth could perk up, and remember fond memories of years gone by. Severely mentally handicapped people could be touched by music, even if it was simply beating two sticks together to the beat of a toe tapping song. I also began to realize how important music is to everyone’s life. Music can greatly impact your journey to peak performance. Think of songs that really motivate you. Perhaps “The Theme from Rocky” or “The Theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey.” How about music from a movie like “Titanic?” Music can be a powerful motivator and greatly impacts emotions. Think of your favorite movies. How would they seem without the musical scores that accompany them? The powerful love songs, the scary songs, the triumphant songs? A lot less interesting I’m sure. We can greatly impact our moods by playing motivational music. What kinds of music are extremely motivating to you? Could you build a library of this music? Make a list and consider adding a song a month to your motivational audio library. Whenever times are tough and goals seem elusive, take out a song and play it. Notice how it impacts you. We also have mental musical jukeboxes. Internalize the notes and sound of your favorite music. Whenever your mind begins to play fearful tunes, turn down the volume, change CDs, and crank up your motivational songs. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 11 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. LIPSTICK ON A PIG This week, I’ve been preparing for a presentation to a trade association on the use of technology for time management. Technology can help tremendously with time management. Many examples of this are seen everyday: It can make changing calendar appointments effortless. Also, with the click of a button, many people can be emailed an announcement of a meeting change. Potential uses are enormous. But, time and time again, in my personal coaching practice, I frequently see folks simply using technology to automate a poor time management system. They are in effect, paving the cow path, or putting lipstick on a pig. Putting lipstick on a pig makes the pig a little prettier, but underneath it, the pig is still a pig. Cosmetic changes don’t result in underlying structural change. Technology can be used like lipstick, or to support a more fundamental realignment of a time management system. Using a handheld computer to manage appointments is great, but if we aren’t making the correct appointments it doesn’t help much. Most of us are very busy. Automating the tracking of all the harried appointments we keep during the day is nice. But, at the core, do the appointments tie to achieving goals within the roles of our lives? Is there some planning mechanism that results in using the time management system to bring our lives more in line with a personal mission statement? Email results in quicker communication, but is the communication more effective? Faster technology speed creates quick movement. But is the movement in the right direction? An old saying applies well here: If you are in a race, but are going down the wrong route, it doesn’t matter how fast you are. Technology can help us go faster, but in the end, it may not matter much, if we aren’t effectively accomplishing our personal goals. The next time you use technology, think about lipstick on a pig. Do you really want to put lipstick on that big, old, ugly, smelly animal? Or would you rather invest some additional time and get rid of the pig completely, replacing it with something that will more effectively assist you on your journey to peak performance? The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 12 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE POWER OF REFRAMING A friend recently shared an inspiring personal story. As a child, she suffered severe verbal and physical abuse by her father. She grew up withdrawn and shy, in a perpetual state of fear. From that experience, she decided to make a positive difference in the lives of young children. She is now a teacher, and works with underprivileged kids, making a positive difference to those young lives. She says at least while the kids are with her, they are safe from any bad things that may be happening in other areas of their lives. Her desire to be a teacher was a result of traumatic childhood events. Her ability to reframe her past situation was summed up best by a comment, “I’m a better person now, because of the abuse that happened to me when I was younger.” She has completely reframed the situation, which takes away much of the emotional trauma she could still be experiencing. Reframing a situation is important. Turning a negative into a positive; pessimism into optimism; seeing the glass half full, rather than half empty; are wonderful life skills. What situations could you reframe today? Look at them from new, different, creative angles. See them from another person’s point of view. See them positively, rather than negatively. What are the situations trying to teach you? Slow down a little and see them from all sides. Pick a situation up, turn it around in your hands. Carefully study it. Maybe there is a side you’ve never seen. Maybe the new side looks very different from the one you’ve always seen in the past. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 13 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. I QUIT! I DIDN’T! I recently saw a poster. On it was a picture of two men. The first was sitting down, hunched over with his face buried in his hands, obviously very sad. Underneath this picture were the words: I QUIT! The second picture was of a man standing on a mountaintop with his arms raised up toward the sky in triumph! Underneath this picture were the words: I DIDN’T! We live in an age of instant gratification. Instant email. Instant soup. Instant stock purchases. Instant software downloads. A world that moves faster and faster. But, this instant mindset can be a huge impediment to achieving peak performance. The “I want it now” attitude keeps many from reaching long term goals. Long term goals take time, requiring steady persistence for days, weeks, months or perhaps years. Many get discouraged. The initial enthusiasm associated with goal creation may begin to wear off, resulting in the gradual straying away from goal attainment. Small strays at first, but becoming larger and larger, until the goal no longer appears to be attainable. Think back to the poster. The reason the first person failed was because of one word: QUIT. A failure of persistence. Because there was no instant, or short-term gratification, the journey toward the goal seemed futile. So the first man sat down and stopped. The second person kept going, maybe moving slowly at times. But always headed toward the goal, until he achieved victory. This is one reason I began personal coaching. Staying with a client over a long period of time helps them keep up their momentum. To really get unstuck. To grow their business or careers. To make a difference. To achieve more life balance. Long term weekly phone sessions keep the focus on goals. To keep momentum up, it is absolutely necessary to break large goals into sub goals. Achieving small victories periodically, satisfies some of the need for instant or short-term gratification. Think of the way that whales are taught to jump out of water through a hoop. Trainers first put the hoop in the water and reward the whale whenever it swims near the hoop. Then, they require the whale to swim closer to the hoop to get the reward. Later, the whale is only rewarded if it actually swims through the hoop. Then the hoop is gradually raised out the water, with reinforcement given when the whale jumps through it. Small intermediate goal attainment over a period of time results in achieving the larger goal. What would happen if a trainer simply came over to the pool, held a hoop out in the air and expected the whale to jump through it? Pretty soon the trainer would probably sit down and think to himself, “I QUIT.” What kind of person are you? If one of the pictures on the poster was you, which picture would you be? Would you be the person who said, “I QUIT,” or would you be the person who said, “I DIDN’T?” The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 14 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. SETTING BOUNDARIES Over the past few years, I have had the privilege to coach many people. One topic that frequently comes up is “setting boundaries.” What are boundaries? Why are they important? Why do they need to be defined? Most folks have weak boundaries. Remember the story of the three little pigs? One pig built his house from straw. One pig built his house from sticks. One pig built his house from bricks. Then the big bad wolf came around, and he huffed and puffed and blew lots of houses away. He blew away the houses that had little strength. The straw house and the stick house. But the brick house stood firm. The pig in that house had established strong boundaries. In our lives, many things invade our boundaries. Other people expect things from us. They move inside our boundaries. Life “shoulds” invade. Many of us aren’t accustomed to saying no, and continue to agree to serve on committees or activities that aren’t central to our life mission, because we have a fear of saying “no.” In the final analysis, only those who stand firm with their boundaries are able to claim enough life energy to truly make a difference in the world. Establishing boundaries is critical for success. Whether it means only working with a certain level of customer, or accepting certain levels of performance from family members or ourselves; establishing standards of performance is vital. But, have some flexibility. The pig with the brick house still had windows and doors. Giving it the ability to allow parts of its boundaries to be lowered, if only temporarily. But this flexibility is controllable, the doors and windows can be locked, or swung open for a period of time. The basic structure is still sound. Buffeting winds from life’s multitude of demands can howl, but we can stay committed to our true vision. Our true purpose. Safe from being overwhelmed by outside forces. Consider writing down your standards. Review them periodically. Reinforce them in your mind. What boundaries have you established? How firm are they? How tall? How strong? Are they made from sticks and straw or bricks? When you find yourself being overwhelmed, think of your boundaries. If they get knocked down, build them back up. Nobody has enough time these days. By establishing boundaries, you gain more time for the activities that really have meaning. Setting boundaries may sound selfish, but by setting them, we are better able to have a more powerful impact with our lives, and experience more fulfillment. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 15 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. NEEDS OF THE WORLD As a peak performance personal coach, one of the first things that my clients complete is a Client Profile Form. It is a great way to ask them to perform some personal exploration, and forces self reflection time. Many questions on the form require in-depth personal thought. Many comment that the form made them think deeply about certain issues for the first time. One question on the form is this: “What needs in the world are you moved to meet?” Most of the time, people come up with very similar answers. Wonderful humanitarian answers such as: Feeding the hungry. Helping the needy. Helping children. Teaching others. Helping the elderly. Helping the homeless. The common theme seems to always be “helping others.” Over the past few months, I’ve reviewed many, many Client Profile Forms, and the commonality of answers to this question is always striking. But……just as striking, is the lack of movement toward meeting these desires. Few seem to be doing anything to help with the issues they express as very important. I find very little actual work toward helping with these world needs. There always seems to be more pressing issues such as work problems, family problems, and money problems. The time spent addressing these primary issues seems to take most of the time from helping with higher level issues. Imagine how effectively we could deal with many world issues, if everyone used only a small portion of their time to deal with them. But, this time gets put on the sidelines, possibly never being called into play. We express a desire to help with many world needs. To make things better. But few seem to have an action plan for really making a difference. I know that many of you have a deep desire to really help others in many ways. But, most of you don’t really take action. Imagine how your self-esteem would improve if you filled this need. I’m not trying to preach right or leftwing social causes, but impacting the world in a positive direction, whatever that means for you, is extremely important. So, consider increasing your contribution to your church, if you are religious. Consider finding ways to make a difference with children. Consider becoming more politically active. Consider finding ways that you can contribute to human service agencies in your community. Consider ways that you can leave your mark.. Then, act! Make that difference! The good feelings that come from making the difference will increase your energy level and self-esteem. Enabling you to have more energy in all areas of your life. Many have heard the expression: “We help ourselves, by first helping others.” There is a lot of truth to that statement. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 16 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. FAÇADE A façade is defined as the front of a building, especially an imposing or decorative one. We all maintain personal facades. The manifestation of ourselves to others. Our external presentation. Many times this is of a confident, self-assured person, showing little signs of questioning internal turmoil. As a personal coach, I’ve had the opportunity to see behind many facades. Frequently, clients look at others, and see strong confidence. Many clients have commented that while they also may project confidence, inside they are not so self-assured. There may be a constant questioning of abilities. Feeling that they are running full speed; playing a game of charades; afraid of being “found out.” We tend to think that others have everything under control. But we don’t see the whole picture. Great examples can be seen on many of the biography programs that air on TV. Many famous movie stars, rock and roll singers, and others project symbols of success, but many don’t experience the inner peace, and happy well-balanced lives they would like. Looking at the façade of others can be frustrating. We may feel we cannot measure up to that projected image. We cannot compete with them. But, remember that nobody is as confident and self-assured as they seem. Everyone has self-doubts. Remember the Wizard of Oz? The great powerful wizard was merely a projection. The little man behind the curtain was the true wizard. We all are behind our curtains. Projecting ourselves for others to see. By all means, project yourself powerfully; but remember that the projections of others are only facades. They may appear to be great and powerful, but behind their curtains they are frantically pulling levers and throwing switches. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 17 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. CARING AND A BUSINESS ATTITUDE We are human in the workplace. The “make money” missions of corporations sometimes collide with human problems. How many of you have known someone who wasn’t pulling his or her weight in an organization, or who had a negative attitude that impacted the climate of the organization? Many times these people have personal problems that contribute to their situation. It’s not uncommon for managers or sponsors in a corporation or direct marketing organization to be faced with this issue. Knowing that personal problems may be contributing to a performance problem, but unwilling to address the performance problem, because of fear of making the person’s personal problems worse. This is particularly difficult if the person is a personal friend, where there is the possibility that addressing the issue could strain or break the friendship. I’ve seen this problem many times over the years. The resolution may be difficult. The hard- nosed business approach may be to get rid of the person and find someone else. The human approach would be to understand that personal problems are very real, but it may not effectively confront the problems that the individual is causing for the business. The poor performance could drag on for an extended period of time, never adequately addressed. If poor performance does become an issue, have enough backbone to address it, but at the same time, offer to help that person build a bridge to a resolution of their personal problem. Many corporations offer Employee Assistance Programs that cost the employee nothing to utilize. A change in work schedules, or work demands may help. Just talking with the person may be enough to help relieve some pressure. It is many times easier to maintain the status quo. But when the status quo results in sub optimal business and personal performance, something needs to be done. Make your organization a peak performance organization. When there are performance problems related to personal issues address them immediately! Not addressing them quickly is unfair both to the organization and the individual. Address them with a heart, but not with so much heart that there is no resolution to the problem. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 18 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE COLONEL This week, while preparing a positive mental attitude presentation for a senior citizens organization, I came across the story of Colonel Sanders. Colonel Harland Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant chain in the 1950s. While operating an automobile service station, the Colonel decided to open a restaurant for travelers. One of his specialties was fried chicken, but the preparation time for the chicken was too long. Colonel Sanders heard of a new invention called the pressure cooker, and began to experiment with it for chicken preparation. He found it substantially reduced cooking time and caused his herbs and spices to become deeply embedded inside the chicken. His business flourished. Then, in the early 1950s, when he was 65, a new interstate highway bypassed his business and forced him to sell his business to pay off bills. Instead of “retiring” and living off his social security benefits, the Colonel decided to kick his life up a notch. Knowing he had a wonderful chicken recipe, he began traveling across the United States, attempting to sign up franchisees from whom he would receive a portion of the money received from each chicken sold. The Colonel was tireless. Some stories say he was told “no” 1009 times even before his first sale. But, by 1964, the Colonel had signed up more than 600 franchisees, and sold his business for a great amount of money. He continued on as a spokesman for the restaurant chain until his death in 1980. Several lessons can be learned from the story of Colonel Sanders: Colonel Sanders looked for new ways to do things. By taking advantage of new technology, the Colonel substantially reduced cooking time, reducing wait time for his customers, allowing him to serve more customers with existing restaurant space, which increased his revenue. Colonel Sanders would not be defeated. A new highway bypassed his business. An event that was beyond his control. But, the Colonel used this setback to achieve even greater things. Colonel Sanders was persistent. The Colonel was a successful salesman. Receiving a tremendous number of rejections did not deter him. He kept selling. He believed passionately in his product, and in his ability to sell it. Colonel Sanders did not use age as an excuse. At age 65, most people think of retirement. They feel like they have done their life’s work, and contemplate a life of relaxation and leisure. Many think they are too old to begin an exciting productive new chapter of their lives, and are intimidated about starting challenging pursuits. Not the Colonel. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 19 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. BEGIN!! As a personal peak performance coach, the biggest problem I see consistently, is the failure of people to BEGIN! Many times we know the first step that needs to be taken to begin the journey toward a very important goal. But, that step sometimes seems SOOOO BIG! It seems easier to stay with the status quo. To allow inertia to rule. Staying in the same place seems safer. But, as Admiral Grace Hopper once said, “A ship in port is safe, but this is not what ships are built for.” The saying, “Begin and you are halfway there” wonderfully describes the results of taking action. Just as a rocket uses most of it’s energy to break through the earth’s atmosphere, we must summon great energy to begin our journey to our highest goals. Once that energy is released, and the journey begins, we develop forward inertia that propels us to our goals. Find some easily reached step that you can take toward your goal. Pump yourself up. Summon energy from deep inside to help you take that step. And TAKE IT! Don’t sit on the sidelines watching others achieve their dreams. The difference between failure and success is many times the ability of achievers to not be afraid of that initial step. Remember about the ship and the port. A port may be safe, but over time feels small and boring. So, RAISE YOUR SAILS! Steer your ship towards new and exciting harbors and interesting lands. BEGIN your journey today. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 20 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. BUT I DON’T WANT TO HAVE GOALS! This week I made a presentation before a Mental Health Association. When making presentations, I’ve found there is usually at least one person in the crowd who frequently speaks up to challenge points I try to make. But, being challenged can be a great way to go into more depth on a topic. To really bring out additional points to clarify positions. To make sure that audience members really understand. In this presentation, one lady kept challenging the whole concept of setting goals. Her point was essentially that she wanted to live her whole life “being free” and doing what moved her at the moment. She did not want to practice any time management techniques for fear of living a “planned” life. I certainly agree with her that planning every minute of one’s life can quickly lead to the feeling of being imprisoned by a schedule. But, not planning at all leaves us drifting through life. Floating from one thing to the next. Drifting, without a strong star to steer by -- with no challenging, compelling goals. To accomplish great things in this life, goals are absolutely necessary. They draw us out of ourselves. They cause us to push ourselves harder. To improve ourselves. Think about a football game. There is a “goal line” and a “goal post.” How long would the game be interesting if the two teams took the field and just ran around on the grass for a while with no goals? The players would probably get some exercise, but would not really push themselves hard if no defined scoring objectives had been established, and no game plans created. Achieving goals does require some underlying time management and planning. But, it doesn’t mean that every minute of one’s life needs to be planned. Build time in your schedule for relaxation. Leave blank “free zone” areas or days. Leave plenty of time for being spontaneous. But always schedule in time for activities leading to important goals. If you schedule time for these activities, you will be much more likely to reach your goals. You may not always be able to spend time on these activities when you have allocated time for them, but by scheduling the time, you will be much more likely to spend time on them. We are all here to elevate ourselves. The Japanese principle of kaizen, a term used in business for constant and never ending improvement, also applies to our lives. We are all climbing personal mountains. But mountain climbing can be hard work. Make sure you have some personal “plateaus” scheduled into your mountain climbing work. When you reach these plateaus, take some time to look around and enjoy the view. Take a breather. But don’t get stuck there. Continue to elevate yourself. The lady at this presentation was right. Too much planning is no fun. But neither is no planning. There is a continuum between these two points. Find your personal balance point. But, don’t fall into the trap of not planning at all. Or, you will likely not make it very far up your personal mountain. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 21 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. A SMALL GARDENER A couple of days ago, my 5 year old and 9 year old sons decided to plant their garden. With great excitement, they went out to the garden to plant their seeds. The 9 year old dug the whole and planted the seeds. The 5 year old covered them. What fun they had! …….for about 10 minutes. Then, the 5 year old came inside and said that he was “really tired.” I looked out, and they had planted only 25% of the garden. The newness of the experience had worn off, and the garden planting no longer was fun. What if they had stopped at that point? How much smaller would their harvest have been? Instead, I told the 5 year old that if he planted all the garden, he could go over to his cousin’s house to play. Immediately, he brightened up and darted out the door to continue covering seed. They worked for an hour, planting their garden, with no more complaints How can you apply this story to your life? Do you stop activities when the newness wears off? Activities that if continued, could result in bountiful harvests in the future. Have you tried an alternate reward system? For example, if you successfully exercise 3 days a week, for 4 weeks, is their a reward that you could give to yourself? How about a great dinner at a favorite restaurant? New clothes? Or just a lazy weekend? The newness of things is attractive. When the newness wears off, many of us have trouble continuing activities. How else could you make things new? How could you vary an activity? How could you change the color and texture of a task? Could you change the traditional location of an activity? Could you change the time of day you perform it? Harvesting a bountiful crop requires work. Gardens don’t sprout up by themselves. Spend some time this week planting your personal garden. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 22 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. ROOT BOUND Ever taken a root bound plant from a pot? Boy, those roots sure look unhappy! All knotted together. Intertwined in an attempt to grow and develop. Their shape, when removed from the pot, matching the characteristics of the pot. The health and growth of the plant, is a result of the health and growth of the root system. When the roots can’t grow, the plant doesn’t grow. Roots are important. How are your roots? Are your roots root bound? Is your “pot” too small? Most of our pots become too small at various points in our lives. But, it is work to transplant ourselves. To place ourselves into a new environment. Many, many people don’t expend the effort, and remain root bound for the rest of their lives. How can you increase the size of your pot? Is your current job too constrictive? Would achieving exercise and weight loss goals free you to expand in other areas? Would just fun exploration cause you to break the bonds of your current restrictive pot? There are many ways! Transplanting yourself will require some more effort. Just as the transplanted flower requires more water and fertilizer. Take this into account as you contemplate your new environment. But, think of the consequences of not transplanting yourself! I’m a passionate believer that we are all on this planet to elevate ourselves! The Japanese concept of “kaizen,” constant and never ending improvement should apply to lives as well as products. Our journey to peak performance never ends, but the journey is fascinating! It’s pretty boring, sitting in the same pot, day in and day out, stagnating. No growth. Look for your new pot! Plan your transplanting process today! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 23 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. WRITING FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE Does your mind ever feel noisy? Busy with thoughts? Flitting from thought to thought? Changing subjects? Following rabbit trails? Our mental processes can spin out of control quickly. When thinking about an issue, alternate paths develop. Much like circulatory systems or the World Wide Web. Our thoughts can quickly branch to different areas, and then on to different areas still, pretty soon they are far from our original purpose for thinking and reflection. Many of us have trouble really focusing on an issue to the depth necessary to really work it out; to really dissect it and analyze it. Our minds quickly flick on to other things, leaving the central jugular issue only partly resolved. How do we focus our thoughts? One of the best is to write them down. Writing them down forces focus. It helps keep our thoughts on topic. It crystallizes thoughts. When thoughts are in our minds, they may be only half-baked. If we write them down, we work harder on creating complete thoughts that are ready for prime time. The next time you are faced with an important decision, or really want to make a life change, fill a page with your written thoughts. By forcing yourself to fill a page, you keep your mind focused for an extended period of time. Don’t allow other thoughts to intrude. Get into an effortless flow. Keep writing. Every thought put on paper leaves mental processing power for other thoughts. Writing them down sort of puts them on the shelf for later use. After you finish, go back over your sheet of paper and review what you’ve written. I bet you will see patterns that you would not have seen if they had remained in your head. You should be able to organize them into different combinations and possibilities more easily. Try it out! Seems so simple, but it really is powerful! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 24 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE 3 WEEK BARRIER Ever have trouble making life improvements last? Most people run up against what I call the 3 week barrier. Many of us successfully stick with things like new exercise schedules, new parenting methods, or new time management techniques easily for several weeks. But the newness quickly wears off. Old patterns die hard. Past ineffective ways of living develop deep ruts. In the beginning enthusiasm helps pull us out of the ruts. But the ruts are still there. Shortly after beginning change it is easy to fall back into the ruts. The 3 week barrier is a major reason why I recommend working with clients for at least 3 months in a coaching relationship. I have found that personal coaching is key to enabling clients to blow past the 3 week barrier. It gives clients that extra motivation and support required to break through the barrier and stay out of the ruts. Have you ever experienced the 3 week barrier? Most of us have. By recognizing that it is there, and defining and labeling it, I hope you are better able to defeat this enemy. Whenever you begin change that will further you on your path to peak performance, build in ways to overcome the 3 week barrier. Have extra reward incentives. Add things to keep the new change interesting. When positive life changes become habits, they are much easier to maintain. Habits exist on autopilot. They do not require lots of mental effort to maintain. You can do it! Plan some long-term changes today. When you get to the 3 week point, remember this newsletter. Get past the 3 week barrier! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 25 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. TAKING RISKS Recently, my oldest son talked me into sliding down an incredibly huge water slide at Walt Disney World. Summit Plummet towers over Blizzard Beach, inviting and intimidating riders with a near vertical body slide that propels them at 55 miles per hour down the slide. The 120 foot tall chute is very scary, particularly for first timers and tends to draw a fairly young male crowd. While waiting in line, I noticed two older ladies, behind me. As the line slowly snaked up toward the top, one suddenly became aware they had mistakenly gotten in the wrong line. They thought the line was for a gentler ride beside Summit Plummet. Looking somewhat embarrassed, they started to leave the line. But, others close in line began offering encouragement. "Come on, do the big slide." "Think what your kids will say when they find out their moms took the big plunge." "It will be the ride of your life." They hesitated leaving. After several minutes of discussion between themselves, they talked each other into going ahead with the big ride. Several times before taking the slide they again had second thoughts, but each time folks in line continued to offer encouragement. After forty-five minutes of waiting, we reached the top. Butterflies flapped their wings in all our stomachs, but one by one we took the plunge, the ladies just behind me. At the bottom, I looked back up the hill and watched as they came flying down, hitting the splash down area with great speed. One looked a little shaken. The other had her bathing suit partially pulled off, but they had huge grins on their faces! How did these ladies accomplish something that they would not have considered possible only an hour earlier? First, an accident set them up. They were in the wrong line. Chance occurrences happen to all of us in life. They are a time of opportunity. Second, lots of folks were actively encouraging them. People they had never met formed an impromptu support network for them. Third, these ladies supported each other. Many times we are more courageous when we walk hand in hand with a friend in a similar situation. How can you use the lessons from this story in your life? How can you take better advantage of life accidents? How can you cultivate a better support network when you are facing challenging circumstances? How can you find others to be your close friend and ally for more personal support? Taking calculated risks and overcoming challenging circumstances can make life more interesting, and lead to higher levels of peak performance. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 26 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK? Many times we have obstacles in our lives that hold us back from reaching important goals. These obstacles may keep us from moving forward, or they may slow our progress, making us feel like we are dragging along a large anchor. One exercise that I sometimes ask coaching clients to complete, and may be beneficial for you to do, is to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side make a list of 10 things that are holding you back at work. On the other, make a list of 10 things that are holding you back at home. Spend some time on each list. By specifically listing these items, you have attached labels to these inhibitors. When you label something, you create a specific target. Without a specific target, energy used to remove things holding you back is ineffective. Look at the items on your lists. Some can probably be eliminated without much work. Some may take some time. Some may require major life changes to overcome. Consider starting with the easier ones to build momentum. These items are low hanging fruit that can be gathered quickly, resulting in short term wins, which can help provide positive motivation to eliminate more difficult items. I hope this tool provides you with some additional insight. Many people read exercises like these, but don’t complete them. I challenge you to do this exercise. It’s very simple and can be done fairly quickly. It’s a small investment of time, considering the large payoff you could achieve if you eliminated some of the things that are holding you back. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 27 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. PICKING COTTON I grew up in the American South, where hard farm work was a way of life for many families. Cotton was an important crop for many years. Before machines were designed to pick cotton, people had to pick each piece by hand. It was hot, unpleasant work. Most of my ancestors talk of the long days in the cotton fields; the seemingly endless rows of cotton; and the boredom that set in while working the fields. The heat and humidity made it feel like working in a hot oven. But, my grandfather had a cotton-picking secret. Each spring, when they planted the cottonseed, he would sprinkle in a few watermelon seed. Then, in late summer, when the cotton was being gathered; big, juicy watermelons had grown, scattered throughout the cotton field. Eating them made for a wonderful break from the picking chore and served as periodic rewards and a break from the hard work. Many of us live our lives working hard. We keep our nose to the grindstone and work relentlessly to get ahead. But, burnout and frustration can result. Have you sprinkled a few watermelon seed in your life? Have you consciously planned for periodic breaks and rewards over the next week? The next year? The next 2 years? Break times help keep our batteries recharged. They serve as intermediate goal points to break up long, seemingly impossible tasks. Watermelons don’t just grow by chance in cotton fields. They don’t just sprout up without a planter. Neither do most rewarding breaks and special treats in your life. Be proactive, and consider planting some seeds that will bear fruit for you in times to come. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 28 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. WHITEWATER As an avid whitewater paddler for over twenty years, I’ve learned that large, scary rapids cause different reactions in people. Many times in business and in our personal lives, we come upon situations that are similar to huge rapids. Our reactions to these events have a large impact on our ability to reach peak performance levels in our lives. Whitewater paddling is dangerous, but exciting. The rocks and water conspire together to form dynamic obstacles in the riverbed. Their dance kicks up giant roller coaster-like waves, forms fast chutes of water, and sometimes fashions hidden death traps. Many times when paddling a river, a roar can be heard in the distance. The roar slowly grows louder as the rapid is approached. Similarly, when difficult life events are about to present themselves, there is frequently some foreboding, some feeling in the air that something difficult lays ahead, some inkling that a challenge will soon present itself. This is the point where one of three different reactions starts happening inside people's heads. Reaction 1. Some paddlers approach a rapid, and based upon stories told about it's intensity and the roar of the water, immediately pick up their boat and carry around without even looking at it. In their minds, they've already closed the possibility that they could safely navigate the rapid, and don't even bother to try to find a path through the exploding waves and large rocks. Reaction 2. Faced with a difficult rapid, most of the other paddlers generally get out of their boats, walk down the river bank, and search for a safe route through the whitewater. Finding the correct route may be difficult. Gauging the intensity of water at various points, the force of the waves, and the strength of the recirculation of water at the bottom of a drop can be complicated. Sometimes there are undercut rocks and large holes that can be extremely dangerous. Selecting a path that intersects with these can easily result in death. Reaction 2 paddlers spend too much time looking at the rapid. Faced with so many possible routes, they stare at a rapid for a long time, guessing possibilities, and then second-guessing themselves. Over time fear slowly begins to trickle in, and builds to the point that they too decide to pick up their boats and carry around the rapid. Reaction 3. These type paddlers select the middle ground. They recognize the need to look at a rapid before blindly proceeding through, but don't analyze the situation so much that fear and second-guessing rise to critical levels. They get out, take note of the really dangerous spots, and select the route that appears to be the best, then walk back to their boats and begin the descent with focus and determination. Most of the time they run the rapid successfully, and experience the thrill and exhilaration of overcoming a challenging obstacle. What type of reaction do you generally have when faced with a life challenge? Do you spend so much time worrying that when the challenge presents itself you have already decided you are defeated? When the challenge presents itself, do you spend so much time trying to analyze all the possibilities that you are also defeated? Or, do you take the middle ground? Life is like a river trip. You can pick up your boat and carry around the most intense sections, but that would be boring! Enjoy your ride through the rapids! Your life is a river you can only paddle once!! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 29 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. COVEY ISN’T FOR EVERYONE! As a personal coach, I work with people with different personality types. Some people are very logical and very structured. They work well with details. This personality is great for “Covey” type stuff. For those who don’t know, Stephen Covey is one of the recent popularizers of detailed weekly planning and daily scheduling of events. This method works fabulously well for those who have a mental framework that harmonizes with the Covey approach, and I find that my personal coaching helps to hone these skills to a razors edge. But, there is also a personality type that doesn’t harmonize with as much detail. I find probably half of my clients fit this definition. For those of you who have not met Stephen Covey, he tends toward the left-brained, logical, analytical personality type. His methods seem to be geared to help expand upon the planning capabilities common with this personality trait. While he is very analytical, Covey can exhibit great emotion. I once watched as he played a video detailing the life of Helen Keller, a person who had few sensory inputs, but accomplished great things in life. There was a table of blind people in the presentation, and I watched as he sat down in a chair near them and watched with rapt attention as the film touched parts of their lives. While most of the audience watched the film, I studied Covey’s response to this table of blind people. He had a big smile on his face and emotion washed over him, as he understood the impact that the film was possibly having on their lives. He seemed to be in a great state of mind, right until an autograph seeker broke the state by sticking a book in front of him for a signature. Analytical people can feel great depth, and great depth feelers can experience analytical ability. I’ve found in my years of coaching that the right-brained, artistic, creative types can be repulsed by the Covey approach. Covey isn’t for everyone. The Covey system, when intersecting with these types of people, can introduce forced structure that inhibits creativity and introduces such a level of detailed planning that creative impulses are suppressed. These types of people sometimes relate stories of walking into a Franklin-Covey store, picking up a day planner, and then running from the store when confronted by the complexity of the planning methodology. But, the people repulsed by the Covey approach can short change themselves. By not introducing any degree of focus in their lives, they may not be truly powerful. They may not be able to concentrate their energy consistently, which inhibits the ability to perform great tasks. During coaching calls, they sometimes relate stories of performing daily tasks, but little progress in the direction of their dreams. They need some structure, but not too much. They need to have some areas of consistent focus, but not so much detail that the planning interrupts their desire to be creative and somewhat spontaneous. My approach with these clients is to focus on a few goals, rather than a larger range, typical of the Covey approach. This is a hybrid approach, one that attempts to take the best characteristics of several life philosophies and inherent mental patterns and personalities. Concentrating energy in a few areas seems easier for them. Too many goals create noise, and when noise develops, a structured planning approach may be abandoned. My job is to help focus them on small, weekly tasks that lead to large-scale goal attainment. I’ve seen the conflict that can develop between “detailed planners” and “free spirits.” Both personality types have advantages. But, both can benefit from enhanced planning and goal setting techniques. The approach may be different in each circumstance, but the fact remains The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 30 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. that goal setting and motivational techniques can make a huge difference between achieving great things and simply living a life of mediocrity! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 31 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. TREASURE MAPS Treasure maps are captivating! As a young child, many of us read stories of pirates and great hordes of buried treasure. A tale of jewels, rubies, gold, and pieces of eight buried in a secret location on some remote island tugged at our imagination. And in most of those stories, the pirates created a treasure map, describing in great detail, the steps necessary to find the loot. A large X typically marked the spot. And we could picture ourselves finding the treasure, if only we had the map. To help them on their journey to peak performance, I sometimes suggest to clients that they create their own treasure maps. These maps are easy to construct. Find some magazines, or computer images related to goals you want to achieve. Post these images on some type of backing. I use a board with pushpins to post my goals on my treasure map. For example, if you have dreams of a tropical island vacation, you might want to find a beautiful picture of a sunset, framed by towering palm trees. Post this picture on your map. Then, create a goal date to post along with the picture. Almost any goal can have a corresponding image associated with it. Post pictures associated with all your main goals on your treasure map. Fill it with visually compelling images. Images are very motivating. They tap into areas of the brain that mere words can’t excite. The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is very true. A major corporation that studied the effectiveness of their sweepstakes ads, found when potential entrants received promotional material that described possibly winning a great amount of money in just words, the response rate was much lower than when they also sent a picture of a luxury automobile with money overflowing from the trunk. Treasure maps can be very motivating. But, when you create yours, don’t forget to also include the dates when you will dig up your treasures along with the images. This makes them much more effective. Also, when you create a goal associated with numbers, stick a plus sign on the end of the number. Maybe you have a sales goal of 1,000 units. Instead of just writing 1,000, write 1,000+. This helps establish the goal as a minimum amount, rather than a potential ceiling. I’m sure to many people reading this newsletter, treasure maps seem like a trivial exercise. But, I challenge you to create one. Make it beautiful. Make it inspiring. Use your creativity. Post it in a very conspicuous place so you see it frequently. I think you will find it helps increase your motivation and will help keep you on track! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 32 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. REINVENTING OURSELVES A while back, I had dinner at a wonderful little Spanish restaurant with Ted Gaebler, co- author of the best selling book, “Reinventing Government.” In the book, the authors question many of the fundamental assumptions government has made over the years about itself and its roles in society. The book served as a catalyst for some governments to take a critical look at themselves, and attempt to “rethink” the way they did business. Ted has spent a lot of time traveling around the world since the book was published, serving as an advisor for reinvention projects and evangelizing reinvention. He talked at length about specific projects, and was absolutely passionate about the need for critically examining every area of government operation for possible change and improvement. The next day, I happened to be at an event where Tom Peters, author of many best selling books such as “In Search of Excellence” was speaking. Peters preaches reinvention of business. With the rise of the Internet and global competition, Peters acts as a cattle prod, shouting for businesses to reinvent themselves to meet the needs of the new global marketplace. REINVENTION….Government….Business….Two days….Two evangelists. Gaebler and Peters know each other and Gaebler had given me a note to pass to Peters when I saw him the next day. To me, it was an almost symbolic link. Even though these men preach reinvention primarily in very different organizational units, reinvention is a common theme that connects them. I believe there is another level of reinvention we all need to practice: personal reinvention. From time to time, we all need to take a time-out from the world and examine ourselves in detail and ask some questions: Am I heading in the right direction? What do I really want out of life? Have I really set high personal, career, financial, and spiritual goals? What can I change in my life? It’s easy to fall into a rut; to live the same pattern day in and day out; to not set challenging and compelling goals. Many of us jump in a rat wheel and start it spinning, or start marching like soldiers, but at some point find we are marching in place. We may be creating movement, but not forward movement, and we soon find that there is little progress toward goals and dreams. How can you shuffle your deck? Stir your pot? Reinvent yourself? Have you seen a bottle of oily salad dressing that has been sitting in the same place for a long period of time? It soon separates out; leaving a separated mixture in the bottle that would taste poorly if poured straight on a salad. But, when the bottle is shaken, the dressing remixes, and becomes a tasty topping. How can you make sure you are periodically shaken? Reinvent yourself at regular intervals. Examine all areas of your life. Do you already have a time management/goal setting system? If so, consider overhauling it to meet your current situation. Consider sitting down for several hours and really thinking through your presuppositions about your direction in life. Question everything. What’s working in your life? What’s not? Try new things! Read a different type of book. Meet and talk with people who are totally different from your normal circle of friends. Travel someplace new! Consider taking a reinvention vacation, or maybe even a sabbatical. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 33 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. When I coach clients, I typically suggest they set what I call “spice goals,” wild and crazy things that are just fun to do! Spice goals can help keep you shaken. They are like spice on food. If your life is becoming bland, sprinkle in some spice goals to help reinvent the taste! Periodic reinvention is important at many levels: government, business, and personal. Consider personal reinvention today! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 34 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. BE THERE For many of us, the traditional separation between work time and home time has all but disappeared. With the advent of new technology, and occupations that can be pursued almost anywhere, our lives have become well mixed. I’m a prime example. My office is completely portable. With my cell phone for voice communications, my wireless palm computer for email and Internet connectivity, and my pager, I can work anywhere, anytime. For many years, work time and home time had distinct boundaries. But, no more. Now, it’s not uncommon to handle work tasks in what was traditionally family/personal time. I think it’s safe to say this is a situation that will continue, if not increase. The new demands of working in an Internet economy have changed work rules dramatically. We have entered a new age, with exciting possibilities, but also sobering demands. The rules of the road have begun to shift at Internet speed. Faced with conflicting demands from personal and work pressures, how do we respond? Some respond with multitasking -- working on multiple activities at the same time. But multitasking can be inefficient. When we have begun focusing on an activity, we tend to soon get into flow, attaining a momentum that allows us to get a great deal of quality work done on a task, usually in a short amount of time. If we multitask, we may have little chance of achieving flow in any of the tasks, our focus shifts back and forth between tasks, potentially resulting in less quality outcomes. Example: This week, my five-year-old son was required to read a small book one night for a school assignment. A task that would require about 15 minutes of time. Great! I thought. I could work on some important things in my home office while he read to me. A multitasking approach. He came in, got down on the floor beside my chair on his stomach, propped up on his elbows and began to read. And I continued with my work. I heard him reading, but didn’t concentrate on the story. Pretty soon, he came upon a word he didn’t understand, and asked me what it was. Being deep into my task, it took me a short while to respond, causing him frustration. After I told him about the word, I had to then find my place back in my task. Pretty soon, he hit another word he didn’t understand, and we went through the same scenario again. Frustration on his and my part began to mount. Then, the third time it happened, I could tell something needed to change. My multitasking approach was failing miserably. I slid out of my chair, got down on the floor, propped up on my elbows beside him, and began to really be there with him. We had a marvelous time, enjoying the story together. He was happy and so was I. After the story, I got back in my chair, and began to really be there with my work task. I soon got into flow, and produced some good quality work. The quality of outcomes would not have been nearly as good in either area if I had continued to multitask. This story illustrates one approach to dealing with our new world. Knowing that work and home tasks have been mixed together in many of our lives, there are some steps we can take to make this merger work more efficiently. Time management tools and abilities have become more critical. As a Personal Coach, I spend a great deal of time working with clients on time management training. If we are going to effectively be there for our work or home tasks, we have to develop the ability to parcel out slices of time for these activities. If we don’t consciously plan time for both types of tasks, then frequently one area of life will overshadow another, resulting in an out of balance feeling. This article takes it a step further than traditional time management. When you have time scheduled for a task, really and truly “be there” for that task. Having dinner with an important The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 35 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. client or a good friend? Send your cell phone to voice mail. Focus your concentration on your present conversation, not on all the tasks you need to do tomorrow. Attending a kid’s soccer game? Leave the laptop at home and really be there for the game. Is your mind full of to dos? Get them out! Write them out on a piece of paper. Plan some time for them. By scheduling time to complete other important tasks, you will feel better about spending present moments really being there for the current task. We’ve all experienced people who are “not there.” They are easy to spot. Hurried looks. Eyes darting all over the place. Frequently looking at a watch. With these people, you may talk a lot, but get the feeling you aren’t being heard. Developing rapport is difficult, making a business deal more difficult or personal conversation much less satisfying. “Being there” is foundational to effective listening. Listening is foundational to increased sales, better interpersonal relationships, being a better manager, being a better parent, and being a better person. I know there are times when multitasking is required and can sometimes be effective, but the next time you are with a customer, with a coworker, or with an employee, really “be there.” Whenever you are with a neighbor, a family member, or a friend, really be there. Whenever you have a very important task to complete, be there. Be there for better understanding, to increase your personal flow, and to make the activity more productive. Be there for the people and tasks in your life, but most of all, be there for yourself. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 36 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. PROTOTYPING Do you practice prototyping? Prototyping is a fabulous way to quickly test a concept, product, or potential new project! Many of us imagine large business projects when we think of prototyping, maybe prototyping a new model automobile, or a new type of engine. Prototypes are typically cheap, quick ways to determine if concepts work. In today's economy, rapid prototyping is key to driving quick evolutionary change. Prototypes that fail are refined, discarded, or completely overhauled. If a prototype proves successful, it is turned into a full-fledged product. Perhaps the greatest benefit of prototyping is that it allows a concept to get started; to get off the ground; to be crystallized into something tangible. Getting started with anything in life can prove to be difficult, particularly if we are moving toward a complex goal. Even though prototypes are typically associated with business, they can be applied to all areas of our lives. Here is one example: Let’s imagine you are interested in public speaking. How could you prototype becoming a great public speaker? Yes, things like Toastmasters and studying public speaking are wonderful, but I suggest you practice prototyping. Find a way to get out and give a quick speech to a group. Learn from your mistakes. Then give more speeches. Refine your prototype until you create a masterpiece! Another example: I can remember my first web page, produced several years ago. I struggled a considerable amount of time with how I wanted it to look. I looked at all kinds of fancy websites produced by big companies, and wanted to imitate that look, but didn't have the knowledge to produce it. After weeks of searching, I finally decided just to pull something quickly together and get it on the web. I prototyped my site. In a day or two I had a working home page. At the time I thought it was pretty cool, but looking back, I now know it really stank! But, then I began constantly improving the site. Trying things out. Some worked, and some didn't. After several years of work, my site has matured into a pretty decent place. Looking back, just getting something out there proved to be very important in beginning my website design. As a personal coach, I work with a lot of clients who have trouble getting started on a life challenge or goal. They feel as though they need to acquire all the information necessary, about the goal, before they begin. In many instances, they never get started. It's almost impossible to control all the variables and predict all the potential outcomes associated with a complex challenge. Planning can be important, but taken to an extreme, it can lead to paralysis. I suggest you consider prototyping. Moving forward on a quick, inexpensive (both in terms of cost and risk) prototype can start your momentum and can give you a tremendous amount of feedback toward refining your product. Got a new sales method? Create a low risk prototype by testing out the concept quickly on a small subset of your customer base. Want to get started on an exercise program? Before you go out and invest a large amount of money in a health club membership or home gym equipment, prototype your program in some way. Test it out for a few weeks with a friend’s equipment or a trial health club offer. There are lots of ways to grab that first toehold and begin the process. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 37 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. In every area of your life, find a way to prototype some changes. You may need to be creative, and you will experience some failures, but you will also achieve great victories. And with inexpensive prototypes, failures are easier to absorb. With prototyping, you will be able to move forward, maybe sometimes two steps forward and one back (or maybe even two or three back on occasion), but overall you will be moving forward toward your ultimate goals and dreams. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 38 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. EYE OF THE TIGER Have you ever felt the magic of “eye of the tiger” focus and concentration? When you feel this intense experience, others see and feel this state energizing you. They see the determination in your eyes, hear the self-assured way in which you speak, and feel confidence and success radiating from you. You feel “in flow” -- in an effortless zone. Things somehow seem easier, as if you've tapped an unlimited source of energy. You are “on,” and challenges and obstacles seem small. Most of us feel eye of the tiger determination at times in our lives. But its appearance may be fleeting and infrequent. How can we make it a constant companion? A rich resource available upon request? Here are some suggestions: Practice anchoring. Do certain scents bring back particularly strong memories? How about certain songs? Most of us “anchor” feelings to external environmental cues. When a cue or trigger presents itself, certain feelings and emotional states follow. Practice anchoring eye of the tiger feelings. The next time you feel yourself entering this zone, perform some physical action, like making a fist, and mentally relate it to your feelings. If you do this consistently, you can begin to anchor those strong, determined feelings to the physical action, and will soon be able to call these feelings on demand by performing the action. This isn’t uncommon in world-class athletes. They can frequently be seen accessing an anchor before a sports event, perhaps closing their eyes and making two fists with their hands, or performing some pre- performance ritual that has led to success in the past. Eliminate distractions. Our minds are like computers, and can only process a certain amount of information at a time. When life distractions, that aren't central to our core mission, consistently intrude, the eye of the tiger is hard to maintain. Distractions can intrude in many ways, from watching too much television, to having few or weak boundaries for our personal lives. Weak boundaries can result in a tremendous drain on our mental computers as we attempt to satisfy the desires of others for our time, energy, and computer processor time. Stick close to your core life objectives. Exercise. Perhaps nothing does as much for eye of the tiger determination as physical exercise. This activity not only allows our bodies to function more efficiently, exercise also results in mental functions becoming easier and less stressful. Our minds seem to lose some of the “flitting” around characteristics that makes concentration more difficult. Exercise also promotes focus in and of itself. A hard workout focuses the mind on the intense workout task, allowing us to rehearse and feel the eye of the tiger feeling more frequently. Eye of the tiger focus can help increase sales, increase attainment of goals, grow a personal business, create better relationships, create a better employee or manager, and achieve peak performance in many areas of life. As you turn your attention to your different roles, and the goals you have developed for those roles, remember to develop your eye of the tiger, and bring its power to bear often. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 39 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. OLYMPIC ATHLETES AND SELF TO SELF COMPARISON Aren’t Olympic athletes absolutely incredible? Their focus, determination, intensity, and athletic ability have been honed to a razors edge. They are the best in the world in what they do. Every four years we watch as summer athletes push themselves to the edge, and sometimes beyond. Most of the time, we get little perspective on the years of work required for these athletes to achieve world-class form, but we can sense somewhat, the amount of preparation time it must require to attain this level of fitness. The journey from a child who watches Olympic events to a participant in the Olympic games is long. One key to achieving these types of long-term performance gains is self to self comparison. We can all use this tool to improve our lives. When I work with coaching clients, they frequently describe frustration with the slowness of the change process. They want to redesign their lives at warp speed. To achieve change immediately. To live their lives as successfully as a role model. But most of the time change doesn’t happen that way. Olympic athletes don’t become successful overnight. The Japanese principle of kaizen describes constant and never ending improvement. Improvement is relative to a prior state, no matter how long ago, and in comparison only to oneself. Improving even a small amount over a long period of time, results in large changes. Successful Olympic athletes focus on increasing their abilities over time for many years. They may start out “slow” as young athletes, but gauge their improvement against themselves for years, until they achieve peak performance athletic levels. How many of us look at the “Olympic athletes” of our profession and wish to have their level of performance? How many of us look at these top performer’s abilities, and measure our improvement efforts solely against their level of performance, becoming frustrated in the process and perhaps giving up, because it’s taking so long to reach that level! Use long-term goals as motivators, but practice continuous small improvements in your life. Keep records of your performance or personal journals describing your current level in life. Note the small improvements you make over time. Compete with yourself! You always have a competitor that way! Keep moving forward. Practice personal kaizen. Don’t give up! As an old saying goes, when you find yourself staring up at a mountain, you can decide to go around it, or to climb it. Going around it may be easier, but you completely miss the beautiful view from the top! Become a world-class performer! Maybe a world-class salesman, a world-class mom, a world-class project manager, or a world-class artist! The journey may be long and intense. But with each step you become stronger. One day you will look back from a position of strength and know that it was worth it! When you watch a world-class athlete perform, use it as motivation for your life! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 40 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE GOAL TRAIN Have you ever seen a train leaving the station? It moves SLOOOOOOOOOWLY at first. Gradually increasing speed as it moves down the track, building an incredible amount of momentum! It follows the track flow through cities and the countryside, speeding toward it’s destination. But what happens if a track switch is thrown the wrong way? All the speed and momentum of the train keeps it moving forward….but in the wrong direction. The train races ahead, and if the engineer doesn’t realize what has happened quickly, the train soon may be a great distance from it’s intended destination, making on time delivery of passengers and materials impossible. How many of us work hard to get our personal goal trains up to speed only to find that a switch throws us off course down the line? As a personal life coach, I see many who work hard initially to achieve their most desired goals, only to be sidetracked a small distance down the path by some event that throws their switch. How frustrating! My job is to help them keep away from sidetracks. It takes a great deal of work to get the momentum started. To summon the energy to move our personal goal trains out of the station. But many track switches are ahead. It takes only a small amount of energy to throw a train track switch, and soon our personal goal trains can be moving down the wrong path. What are some switches in your life? Ever started a diet and decided to cheat a little? Then found that you ended up cheating a little more the next time? And soon you discover that you aren’t on a diet anymore! You threw a switch when you allowed your self to cheat in the first place. That small diversion moved you a little further from your goal, and then more diversions followed, and then more still, until your train eventually ran out of fuel, and slowly came to a grinding stop, not even remotely close to your goal! The first step in eliminating switches is to know they are there! Anticipate them beforehand. Realize that small diversions from your goals soon become big diversions. Life experiences and past failures teach us many of the points where potential diversions await. Being prepared to deal with them beforehand can make the difference between achieving incredible dreams and achieving little. Brainstorm possible points of temptation. Steel yourself for them. Rehearse possible reactions when faced with the temptation to become sidetracked. Visualize yourself successfully moving down the main track to your goal. Another step is to look around and realize early on that a switch may have sidetracked you. It’s much easier to get back on your original path if you catch diversions quickly. Like train momentum, the speed and forward propulsion of life can move you down the wrong track very, very quickly. You may even need to slowly stop your train and back it up to get it back on track, but do it! Get back on track! Now! You may soon find it extremely difficult to negotiate a path back to your main goals. Get ready to ride the goal train to increased sales, increased personal fulfillment, better health, better relationships, and a better life. Have a wonderful adventure as your train passes by beautiful sights and you experience wonderful things along the main track. But, remember switches await that can divert you into swampland, desert land, and failure land. The goal train is sitting at the station, waiting for you to board. Jump on, fire up the engines and begin moving toward your dreams. As you notice switches up ahead, know you will stay on the right course. Blow your horn in triumph, and stick your tongue out at the sidetracks as you pass them by! You are in control of your destination. Don’t let a small switch throw the incredible amount of positive life momentum you have developed off track. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 41 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. YOUR MASTERPIECE Coach John Wooden was one of the most successful athletic coaches the world has ever seen. As the head basketball coach at one of the United States top universities, UCLA, Wooden compiled a record of 620 wins to 147 losses. Even more incredibly, Wooden’s teams won the US national championship 10 out of 12 years, including a string of 88 straight victories with no losses, and seven championships in a row. How did Wooden achieve such success? I believe one reason was his relentless pursuit of excellence in himself as well as his team on a daily basis. One of Wooden’s most quoted sayings is “Make each day your masterpiece!” Making each day a masterpiece requires drive and commitment. Not just living through the day at a mediocre level, but committing oneself to making it an exceptional day! A Picasso or Rembrandt day. A Michelangelo day! A day committed to achieving more. To raising the bar on personal excellence. We can all commit to making each day a masterpiece! Whether we are in sales, athletics, business, or government. Whether we are moms, spouses, friends, adventurers, builders or educators. We can all commit to living each day as if we are creating a fantastic work of art! Imagine how different your life could be if you committed each day to creating something powerful and wonderful! People are creating masterpieces all around you. Look around. Olympic athletes work daily to achieve great dreams. But masterpieces can be made at all levels of life. Just this week, I was talking with a friend who is a stay at home mom. She was creating spider cookies for her daughter’s birthday. She described with pride the work it required to really make them incredibly special! The carefully detailed bodies. The complicated and delicate little eyes. The licorice sticks fashioned into crinkly looking spider legs. I asked her several questions about her motivation for spending so much time to make a small event in life turn out so beautifully. Her response was that she tries to do everything in her life superbly! She gets it! She is making masterpieces! As a personal success coach, I see many people standing there with all the paint, the canvas, and the talent to create great masterpieces. My challenge is to help them get to work! To help push them. To be a starter motor for their personal engines. The potential energy in all of us is enormous. The actual energy we expend tends to be only a small fraction of that. So many of us live day to day at a hum drum level. Never really pushing ourselves to be excellent! The end result is living life at 10% of our potential, rather than 90-100%. How can you do everything in your life superbly? How can you take it to the next level? What difference would it make in your current situation if you did? Here’s a quote by Erma Bombeck from the quotes section that I want to emphasize this week! Think about it! “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” We are all here to elevate ourselves. Coach Wooden was onto something powerful! We are only dancing on this earth for a short while. Compared with the immensity and enormity of eternity, we have relatively few days of life. Don’t waste a single day! Achieve great things! Fill your life gallery with beautiful daily achievements and accomplishments! Push yourself to make each and every day your masterpiece! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 42 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE EXPOSED ZONE Welcome to the EXPOSED ZONE! The zone where change happens, where growth occurs, where great things are accomplished, where champions are made, where mediocrity is transcended! You’ve experienced it before. Remember a time when you made a change in your life? Perhaps when you decided to seek that new job or try out for a team in school. You stepped out into an area of risk. An area where you had less certainty. The exposed zone is the area where you decide to change something in your life, make that change, and then transition into the new life state. The exposed zone can be scary and intimidating. You leave your comfortable place of existence and launch out into a new area of life. In your more comfortable position, you had the answers to most questions, knew the ins and outs, and could predict your days in advance. But the thought of entering the exposed zone keeps many in a stagnant position. The fear of being exposed to new and uncertain risks can paralyze people, confining them to a life of mediocrity, living the same day week after week, year after year. Spinning the same rat wheel of life, perhaps faster and faster, but never making bold moves forward. When making a life transition, things feel disorderly, not known, somewhat confusing. But this is a time of great opportunity! You may feel as though you are in a giant mixing bowl, with new and confusing ingredients being added, beaters stirring the mix, a feeling of incompleteness. But, like the ingredients in a mixing bowl, you will soon reconstitute yourself into something very different. This should be a time of feeling as though opportunity is arising, that great things will soon be achieved, rather than fearing the disorder and uncertainty. Great achievements require a transition through the exposed zone. Just as a home remodel requires a period of messiness and construction, transitioning through this zone results in dust being thrown up, lots of noise being made, and things being torn down, in anticipation of creating something much more beautiful. How do we enter the exposed zone? For some, we are forced there. A job is lost, a loved one dies, a significant friend leaves us. Others seem fearless, and plunge into the exposed zone with gusto. But perhaps most of us fit into the third category. This category consists of those who are somewhat more fearful of change, but decide to venture into the zone, bulletproof the path through the zone, develop contingency plans, and find a way to begin the process with small steps. With my coaching clients, this is the method I often recommend. Many feel better able to move into unknown areas and less exposed if they explore a little at a time and have backup methods. If you were to walk a tightrope for the first time, it would sure feel good to have a backup net underneath you, and not to have the rope set too high! But sometimes people feel that they must move forward with the rope set at maximum height, and because of the potential risk involved, take no action! Take some risk. Be exposed at times in your life. Not being exposed is safe and secure, but can be boring! Living a life of mediocrity is a path chosen buy many. Don’t be mediocre. Move forward and explore the unknown. Take small steps at first, and run back to home base for refueling when needed, but learn to appreciate being exposed. When you feel uncomfortable in situations, know that you are on the cusp of creating something new and exciting in your life. You have stepped out from your everyday experience and are opening yourself up to see knew paths and possibilities from your exposed vantage point! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 43 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. THE PRESSURE COOKER We are all pressure cookers! Knowing how to manage our personal pressure cookers can have a huge impact on our level of performance in our jobs, our families, and other interpersonal relationships. Pressure cookers gradually create higher and higher temperature and pressure inside themselves. Over a period of time, continued exposure of heat builds the pressure to cooking levels. But, without proper control of the temperature and pressure release mechanisms, the pressure can reach dangerous levels, resulting in a catastrophic explosion! When in your life do you feel your pressure approaching dangerous levels? After long hours at the office? Days on end with your kids? When you are frustrated because you continually have failed at an activity or task? Repeatedly missing workout sessions? What do most of these situations have in common? Like pressure cookers, our personal pressure level tends to rise gradually over time with continued exposure to certain life situations. Without appropriate release mechanisms, the pressure builds and builds and builds. How can you build more release mechanisms in your life? Release mechanisms to not appear from thin air, as if by magic. In the normal hustle of day-to-day life experiences, most of us don’t take the time to implement mechanisms for regulating our pressure. Take some time today to design your pressure release valves. Consider things that you know have worked for you in the past, and schedule time for them! Activities such as physical workouts, mini vacation breaks, changing surroundings, engaging in hobbies, taking mini personal retreats (for several days, or even for 30 minutes each day.) There are many ways to keep pressure within acceptable levels. Pressure cooker explosions can create a huge mess! Learn to effectively regulate your personal pressure! In our fast paced world we are all faced with pressure inducing events! Most events only create a slight increase in pressure. But without effective release mechanisms, the slight increases are cumulative. I challenge you to write down five ways that you can vent your pressure level this week! Schedule them on your calendar! Our minds and bodies tend to function better when they are not subjected to continued high pressure. You have all the tools and materials to build pressure release mechanisms! Go out and BUILD THEM! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 44 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. MISTAKES Many of us have a great fear of making mistakes! This fear keeps us trapped in our current situation, afraid to take risks, preferring the safety and security of present circumstances to exploring the unknown. But growth requires venturing into the unknown -- taking leaps of faith at times. The fear of making mistakes is powerful! Mistakes can be embarrassing. But the results of trying to live a life free of mistakes can be devastating; resulting in a life not fully lived. A mediocre existence, trapped in a small antiseptically cleansed boring little life room. Don’t let the fear of mistakes hold you back from your dreams. If you make a mistake, bow deeply and apologize to those it may have impacted. Acknowledging a mistake quickly can ameliorate the long-term impact of the mistake and allow you to continue toward your goal via another route. As the old saying goes, “Two steps forward, one step back.” Mistakes may cause you to take that one step back, but the two steps forward more than compensate for the mistake. Begin walking today! Don’t be paralyzed into sitting in a corner paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. You may avoid taking steps back, but you will never move forward. How boring! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 45 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. CAPTURE THAT THOUGHT! Have you ever had a great thought or idea, but later forgotten what it was? Maybe it was a new sales idea, a new way to increase the quality of your family time, or a new way to increase your personal or business productivity. Thoughts fly around inside our heads at the speed of light, hopping from brain cell to brain cell. When we first have the thought and focus on it, the new idea seems in our grasp. We have it in our sights. A new goal, challenge, or possibility has semi crystallized. It’s right in front of us. But our minds aren’t very good at following through and capturing the thought permanently, resulting in no specific, tangible outcome or goal for implementation when “the time is right.” Our minds tend to quickly shift to other mental tasks and thoughts. The original thought burrows down deeply into the back of our mind, perhaps never to be found again. We somehow lose the hook that allows us to recall the thought when later needed. How can you capture these thoughts so that you can act on them later? One of the best methods is to write them down or record them immediately! Put them on paper. Create entries in your palm computer. Record notes on a handheld recorder. Leave yourself voice mail messages describing your thoughts. Totally crystallize them. You don’t need to necessarily record all of the details of your thought immediately, but log enough information to create a hook to the thought for later retrieval. Always have a mechanism to capture your thoughts with you. Our minds believe a thought will stay in our memory long enough to record it “when we get home,” “when we get back to the office,” or “when we get to the next stop on our drive.” But thoughts are ephemeral and generally have a very short life. They can vanish quickly without a trace, possibly never to be recalled again. Don’t lose your thoughts. Make sure you capture them for later implementation. The more positive thoughts you capture, the more chances you have in life of taking steps that greatly increase your personal level of performance. Pull out your thought net. Capture some thoughts today. Create a huge collection of interesting and varied thoughts. Then, get to work and implement them! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 46 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. GRAB THAT TOEHOLD! The cliff on Crowder’s Mountain looked imposing! I was 14 years old at the time. An outdoors person, but inexperienced at mountain climbing. This would be my first experience! As we approached the cliff, it looked completely vertical -- a sheer rock face -- impregnable. Wow! How in the world were we going to climb something like that? Scary stuff! But we did climb it! I vividly remember roping into safety ropes at the bottom and starting my ascent. As I considered my first move, I noticed there were lots of irregularities in the rock – places to grab handholds and toeholds. The sheer rock face was not invincible; it had weaknesses that could be exploited. Slowly I climbed; higher and higher. Constantly looking for new toeholds: little outcroppings or indentions in the cliff face that would allow me to climb higher. Sometimes I felt stuck. I remember being halfway up, feeling strange. Knowing that I was equally distant from the top and the bottom. Stuck on the side of a cliff with no easy and quick exit. But, each time I felt stuck, I would analyze the rock face and find a new toehold. Maybe one that wasn’t obvious at first, and I would move higher. After considerable work, I pulled myself up on top of the mountain. The view was magnificent. A seemingly impossible cliff had been conquered. But, what a lesson! When I encounter obstacles and challenges in my life, I think of that first mountain climb. I remember feeling it was an impossible task – overwhelming. But, I almost always find little toeholds in the problems I now face. Little places to gain purchase. The next steps for moving forward. Sometimes I may not know where the next toehold will be, but I grab the nearest one, pull myself up and then look for the next one. Do you ever encounter mountains? How do you react to them? I remember an old timer once told me that if you encounter a mountain, you either go over it, or go around it. Going around it may be easier, but if you do, you miss the wonderful view from the top! Climb mountains. Find those first toeholds, and begin. Secret toeholds are hidden throughout your routes. Don’t let the mountains defeat you. Imagine the wonderful views from the mountaintops! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 47 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. ONE EVENT, TWO VIEWS Ever have the experience of seeing an event or having an experience with someone, but feel as though you didn’t see the same thing? Maybe you experienced a movie that you enjoyed tremendously, but the other person hated! One event……..two views. It happens a lot! We all see the world through different lenses, and most of the time aren’t even aware of them. We assume we have the “true,” “undistorted” view of things. When others don’t see things the same way, our natural reaction is to try to win them over to our view. We expend a large amount of energy trying to convert their views. But, few of us really try to understand the other person’s view. We jump in immediately, and start trying to convert others before we understand why they see things differently. We never try to see things from their vantage point. We don’t get inside their head or try on their lenses. Taking some time to understand the other person’s position may make us see things differently. We may change our views. But, even if we don’t, we have more information to use for the attempted conversion. If you are selling to a customer, understanding their view about buying your product is essential. If you are arguing with a family member, understanding the view of the loved one can allow better communication and promote better understanding. We discover details about other views by asking questions: Why do you feel that way? When will you be in a position to make a purchase decision? How do you see things? After basic questions are asked, drill down to the core level of an issue. Ask detailed questions. Seek definition of terms. Ask for further clarification. Dig down deep! Seek the core reasons for a view. Peel away the outer layers of the onion. Human beings will never all see things the same way. We have many independent, varying views. It can be frustrating at times, but attempting to understand others is the first step to achieving that sale, getting that book published, or having better communication with a loved one. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes today. Look out at the world through their eyes. Don’t immediately start converting. Gather information first, and then convert if you still think it is possible and necessary. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 48 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. SPIDER WEBS Do you feel like you are hanging by a thread? Just barely hanging on in some areas of your life? Are you dependent on a single source of support for an important area? Dependent on one person? Dependent on one job? Subject to falling if a support fails? Let’s talk about spiders and their webs. An unusual metaphor, but one that’s simple to remember and apply to your life. Spiders can hang by a single web strand. They can move up, move down, or be blown around by the wind in many directions. It’s a pretty interesting way for spiders to hang around in the world, except if the strand breaks. So, most spiders develop intricate web networks, both for shelter and for capturing food. The carefully designed and constructed structures are made from many intertwined single threads. If one thread breaks, the rest of the web remains intact, requiring a little repair work, but otherwise it's not a major disaster. The spider’s craftsmanship makes life much easier. Many of us live our lives hanging from a single web strand. We place great weight on a relationship with another person, weigh heavily on a single job, or cling to a single, limited view of the world. With a single thread relationship, if the relationship fails, we have few backup support mechanisms to compensate for the loss. If we depend too much on a single job, the job could someday vanish, with few support mechanisms in place to cushion the blow. How do we prevent this? By spending time designing our lives to have reserve capacity and support mechanisms. If we just "blow through" life, there are usually many times when we hang by a thread, dangerously exposed to severe setbacks if our support network fails. It’s sometimes exciting, and necessary, to hang by a thread; but consistently exposing our lives to these small insecure threads may prevent us from larger growth and achievement possibilities. Even if your personality is the "live on the edge" type, consider spinning at least a few extra support webs. The extra support will allow you to reach much greater heights. If you are very dependent on a single, or a few, relationships in your life, consider spinning webs to many others. Develop an intricate web network with multiple support points. Develop and strengthen interrelationships. Make new friends. Increase the number of contacts in your Rolodex. Increase your financial reserves. Strengthen your mind. Strengthen your body. In financial areas, recreational areas, family areas, work-related areas, physical/mental areas, consider how you can weave a strong web structure to assist you on your path to peak performance. A spider works to create a beautifully designed web, which takes persistence and planning to complete. If a spider lived its life like many of us, it would hang by a thread, spewing web in all directions, hoping, by chance, to accidentally weave a complicated web, while being at constant risk of its single thread failing. A support web doesn’t come by accident. Begin strengthening yours today! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 49 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. CONCLUSION I hope this ebook provided you with additional insight into life circumstances. Please pass this ebook on to a friend. To take it to the next level, and explore personal/life coaching with a free introductory session, stop by my website at http://www.lifedesigncenter.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Feedback about this ebook is appreciated!! Send your comments to email@example.com Live Your Dreams! The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 50 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session. The Life Design Center. http://www.lifedesigncenter.com 51 Signup for a FREE weekly newsletter and FREE introductory personal coaching session.