Monday, July 29, 2013

Unlocking Your Big Ideas

We all have Big Ideas, Big Goals, Big Plans... those ideas that could change our lives, if not the lives of

The challenge for most of us of course lies in recognising them.  We sometimes fail to give weight to the value of our ideas, simply because they are our own.  We look further afield, expecting that there should be a bold stroke of inspiration, a lightening bolt of the mind, that highlights or precedes the Big Idea's arrival.  More typically though, we are sitting right on top of the idea, keeping it company, failing to recognise it for what it is.

Russell H. Conwell, in his well-known book Acres of Diamonds, tells the story of a farmer who, though wealthy by others standards, wanted even greater wealth.  When hearing about Diamonds for the first time, he came to realize that owning a diamond mine would be infinitely more profitable than a farm and so he promptly sold his farm and went off in search of diamonds.  However, that farmer had no true knowledge of diamonds, or skills in mining, and ultimately found himself destitute and starving.  The farmer who had purchased his farm from him however, was watering his animals in a river on the property one day and discovered a strange rock - which turned out to be a diamond.  One of the largest diamond strikes found in the area.  The moral of course, is that we are often sitting on Acres of Diamonds.  We just need to dig for them.

It would be great to think that knowing we already possessed our Big Idea, our Diamond, was sufficient and that we merely had to uncover it.  However, this knowledge alone doesn't seem to be enough to offer the push that many need to begin digging.  It's often been said that the greatest book ever to be written is lying in a graveyard somewhere.  Many people's greatest work, greatest gift, is often taken to the grave with them.  Is there a sadder thought than this?

In a recent Success article, Darren Hardy tells the story of Evariste Galois, a brilliant mathematician, born in France in 1811.  At age 20 Galois made the unfortunate mistake of falling in love with a French officer's fiancee.  That officer, as was typical for the time, promptly challenged Galois to a duel.  Not being in the least bit skilled at firearms, Galois anticipated that he was not likely to be successful and therefore spent the night before his duel writing down every thought and algebraic equation he had in his head.  He wrote for hours, even recording thoughts that just occurred to him in the writing process.

Unfortunately, Galois' predictions about his duelling skills proved accurate and he was killed.  His notes however, live on.  Galois recorded over 60 pages of mathematical ideas which were published after his death.  These pages revolutionized not only higher algebra, but impacted most other areas of mathematics as well.  His ideas proved to be amongst the most important ideas in the history of mathematics.

Galois had not recorded any of these thoughts previously.  It was only the impending deadline (in his case... possible death!) that led him to push himself.  What's your deadline?  The belief that we have time, that we'll get to it, can be our biggest downfall.  We fail to take action today because there is always tomorrow.  Consider though, that if we don't begin digging for our diamonds today, then we can't reap the benefit and reward tomorrow.  That 'better' tomorrow will remain outside of our grasp.

What are the diamonds that are waiting for you in your backyard?  The Big Ideas that are waiting to be discovered?  Don't wait for tomorrow to come to begin digging, create a sense of urgency and get out there now, lest you lose out to someone who begins today.

Make - TODAY - your new mantra.  Create the urgency to get started now.
A year from now you will wish you had started today      Karen Lamb

Friday, July 26, 2013

Life Lessons from the Movies - The Legend of Bagger Vance

If you haven't had the opportunity to watch the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance... do.  There are a number of life lessons that may serve you (plus... it's a good movie!).  In this clip from the film, Will Smith is a caddy providing advice to his golfer, played by Matt Damon.

What's your authentic shot?

What is your true calling in life?  We all have a perfect shot out there, one that is in perfect harmony with all of our gifts and talents, but we have to get out of its way and let it choose us.  Too often we get caught up in the 'shoulds' (what we 'should' be, do and have) and wind up following someone else's prescribed path for us, rather than our own.  Sometimes we continue along a path we chose for ourselves (perhaps as far back as high school) simply because we feel we have invested too much time, energy and money in the path to simply walk away from it.  Sometimes we force fit a path into our lives because we like the sound of it, the money we get from it, or the prestige that goes along with it. Regardless of the reason, we are cluttering the field and throwing obstacles in the way of uncovering our authentic shot.  We get so caught up in living the life we have designed that we fail to hear or respond to the signals we get that clearly tell us that we are destined to walk a different path, that our passion and calling lies on a different field.  We need to still the voices, still the noise, clear the clutter and get out of the way of our authentic shot.  Allow it to choose and flow into you.  That's where you find your passion, where you enter flow and...
Where everything that is... becomes one

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stepping into our Passion

I'm writing this post as I am attending the Millionaire Speaker Camp in Chicago. This time around I am here not as a student per se (though when can you truly avoid being a student in any situation?) but as a speaker and coach to those formally going through the process.  I have the opportunity and luxury to watch these individuals struggle to uncover their message, to give voice to their why, to push beyond their existing barriers, to carve out something 'new' for themselves.  These people inspire me.  They should inspire you.

The attendees in this program are looking for a way to give voice to the knowledge, expertise and passion inside of them.  They have something to share and are struggling to create a process for doing so.  Many have never spoken in front of groups before.  Many are introverts who are not comfortable in doing so. Most are not looking to create a speaking career to create celebrity or fame but simply because they know this is the venue they require to reach the most people with their message.

In short... these are people with a mission and the passion to make it happen.  And they are willing to push through the barriers and fears that would hold them back and prevent them from doing so.  They have small wins, they have setbacks but they keep bouncing back and plugging themselves back in.  I have been given the gift of being able to share in a small part of their journey.  They are making me laugh, making me cry and making me applaud until my hands hurt.

I want the same for each of you.  I want you to be kicking your fears to the curb, standing up and saying 'I will not settle for less any longer.  I will not BE less any more'.

But... you have to be willing to take action.  You have to be willing to take a step, however small, that moves you into your voice and your passion.  We all have a passion and purpose.  We all have a reason that we are here, for ourselves and those around us, that requires us to play big.  Certainly bigger than we likely are right now.  Even one small step begins to create a desire for more.  It gives you a taste of what could be that creates a hunger for more.  What are you hungry for right now?

I am blessed to be spending time with a group of individuals that are hungry.  They are out to change the world and it is inspiring to watch them reach out and grab onto what they need to make it happen.  Fears are shaken and sloughed off, barriers are broken and left shattered in the wake of their growth and their change.
I wish the same for you.  You need to wish the same for you.  You need to not only wish for the same but to step up, step out and start.  This is your time to make things happen for you and there is never a better time than NOW!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Building Habits - One Step at a Time

If you're like most people, you've likely got some bad habits kicking around that you would like to change,
or perhaps have some 'good' habits you'd like to adopt.  Possibly you have even tried stopping a bad habit in the past (or starting a new good one), only to abandon the attempt as it proved too difficult for you to achieve or stick with.  For some people, the all-or-nothing approach works.  They define the 'new' habit or system they want to adopt, replace the old ineffective one with it, and... keep doing it until it is comfortably ensconced as the new habit.  They make it seem easy.

For many of us though, it's much more of a struggle.  We want to lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, meditate, read more, get up earlier... we have endless lists of things we'd like to do that prove almost impossible for us to make happen.  We then get demoralized by our attempts and settle in trying to 'live with' the fact that we just aren't cut out to be thinner, healthier, smoke-free...

In these cases, we need to try a different route to our end goal, not to abandon it as unobtainable.  We need to take a more counter-intuitive route.  Consider the following.  When IBM had the most dominant sales force of any organization, they did so by assigning their team the lowest sales quotas of any of their competitors.  The thinking was to give their sales force quotas that weren't daunting.  They wanted their people to feel that the goal was obtainable, not to be too intimidated to even begin.  They found that not only did their sales people pick up the phone and start calling, they worked to exceed the assigned quota.

The idea then is to start small.  Give yourself a target that is so easily achievable that you can't help but to exceed it, creating an instantaneous win.  By the time you have reached that point you have likely created enough momentum that you continue a number of steps beyond your target.  Reaching a goal is always motivational.  Exceeding your targets... more so.  It becomes self-perpetuating.

If you want to... start flossing your teeth every day, start out by planning to floss only one tooth.  Odds are... once you've flossed one, you can't help flossing them all while you're at it.  Finding the time in your morning routine to floss your teeth every day can seem like too much time that you don't have.  Flossing one tooth?  Much easier to fit into your schedule.

If you want to... begin running 3 kilometres every day, start out by planning to just run around the block.  Odds are... you'll begin to find that once you're dressed and out there, you'll run further.  Perhaps not every day to start but you'll hit days where the sun is shining, your stride feels smooth... and away you go.

If you want to... write a book, start out by planning to write 2 crummy pages a day.  Not good pages, crummy pages.  Who couldn't write two bad pages?  Odds are... once you sit down to write you'll find you hit a groove and write more, and better.

In each example, we have set a low enough target that it is not intimidating.  Often, the biggest hurdle for people to face is simply in starting.  Make the target low enough that beginning isn't an issue, that you are excited to start because you think... 'I can do that!'  Once we start the second biggest hurdle kicks in which is sticking with it.  When the goal is set too high we can easily become discouraged or demoralized.  It becomes easy to abandon our attempts, believing we'll never make it, that we aren't cut out to do it.  We quit before the new habits have a chance to take hold.  If we get our wins early in the game though, if we build it in such a way that we exceed our expectations consistently, then we have built in the positive reinforcement of our efforts.  We continue.

When we're looking to change our habits what is important is not how fast we make it happen, but that we make it happen.  If the all-in approach works for you... great!  If not, try the approach described above.  Both paths get you to the same end destination.  Which route you take to get there will only be questioned by those who want to replicate your success.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Stop Hijacking your Emotions

When your emotions get the better of you, taking control of your actions and words, you have allowed
yourself to be Hijacked.  Daniel Goleman, well known author of Emotional Intelligence, uses the term emotional hijacking in his work to describe those moments when our emotions take over control of our reason, our behaviour and our words.

For me though, the term is a bit of a misnomer because you aren't actually being taken over.  Hijacking implies that you are not in control, someone or something else is.  However, you are always in control of your responses.  You are not being hijacked by your emotions, you are deferring to them.  They are not taking control of your responses, you are giving over control to them.  This very real, and very distinct, difference means that we are capable then of choosing not to lose control, of not giving in to our emotions, of not being at the mercy of our response.  We can choose differently.

Yes people will say stuff and do stuff that drives us crazy, makes us angry, upsets us, hurts and wounds us.  But... it is our choice to either defer to that emotional response or to choose a different, better and more personally helpful response.  However, just like biting our nails, over-eating  may have become habits in our lives, so too have many of our emotional responses.  Just as we can, in fact, change our habits and gain control over our nail-biting and over-eating, so too can we change our responses to situations.  We don't have to be at the mercy of any choices we have made in the past.  If they don't serve us in moving forward then we need to open ourselves to the desire to choose differently in the future.

Here are a couple of suggestions to help you pull back your conscious control of your emotional responses...

1.  Reduce the size of your 'Board'.  In my book, Choose the Life you Really Want, I outline an exercise called the Board of Directors.  The idea here is to identify all those individuals that you have invited over your lifetime to sit at your personal board table. These individuals are those that have an influence on the decisions and choices you make, whose opinions matter to you, who you make an effort to please.  Most of us have far too large of Board that we are trying to please.  Additionally, because they hold the position of Board member they have not only the power to influence us but the power to hurt and upset us.  By strategically working to reduce the size of our Board, to contain only those who serve us today, we reduce the potential for losing control of our emotions.  If our Board is cut in half, so too should our emotional episodes.  People are on your Board to serve you and guide you in some capacity. They are not on your Board to be served.  Reduce the size of your Board to contain only those that matter for you.  Basically... remove the others and, if they no longer matter, then you will no longer mind!

2.  Keep a log.  Maintain a log of all of your emotional episodes detailing; who was involved, what was it about, how did you feel, what was your response.  Over time you will gather enough examples of these episodes to truly be able to identify your biggest triggers.  Knowing and understanding your hotspots allows you to begin proactively developing your strategies for responding differently to them in future.  These prevent you from simply allowing the old emotional 'habit' to kick in.

3.  Know your desired responses.  This becomes a key component for anyone attempting to change any behavioural habit.  Know what you want instead.  You need to clearly define what your desired response is. In order to forestall the habitual behaviour from simply kicking in, you need to have a clearly defined alternative.  Give yourself something definitive to choose in that moment of anger or hurt. This allows you to break the previous habitual pattern and begin establishing a new one.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Embracing Limitations

There is a lot of focus in business on the need to 'improve' our weaknesses, to overcome our limitations.  The
assumption being that we don't want weaknesses of any kind, that our weaknesses will hold us back and limit our opportunities.  What if, however, it is not our limitations that hold us back but the way that we think of them?

As long as we perceive our limitations as weaknesses, our limitations as a negative, we put our effort into masking or hiding them, into trying to turn them around or to at least become 'competent' enough in the area that others might not notice.  It becomes a cyclical game in which we put our energy into become stronger in an area that will never be a strength.

What if we put our energy instead, into finding other avenues to getting things done, while working WITH our limitations rather than around them?  We tend to think of creativity being synonymous with the need to think outside of the box.  However, kickstart your creativity by thinking a little closer to home.  Try thinking within the box.  Enhance and spark your creativity by learning to embrace your limitations.

Don't hide your limitations away, pull them out.  Examine them.  Define what the limitation means to you.  Often this definition is accompanied by a 'can't'.  There is something you feel that you can't do as a result of this limitation.  The key question then becomes...  how else might I do it?  Consider...

  • If you are an athlete who loses their legs in a car crash, do you stop engaging in your sport?
  • If you want to become doctor but don't get accepted into medical school, do you give up on your dream of being a health practitioner?
  • If you draw detailed, realistic pictures but develop severe hand tremors, do you stop making art?
  • If you stutter, do you avoid speaking in public?
You can't do things as you once did or would want to... what can you do instead?  Don't dwell on what you can't do... focus on what you can.  What is another option or possibility?  If you only view the limitation one way you will only get one answer.  View the limitation from as many different angles as you can to unlock different answers and possibilities, many of which would have been hidden from you had you not shifted your perspective.  

Sometimes we must first become limited to then become limitless

Instead of viewing your limitations as a roadblock to your success, view them as a source of creativity.  Your dream is not gone because of the limitation, you are just required to shift your vision of it or to walk a different path to get there.  Embracing your limitations liberates you from their confines, opening new avenues, new possibilities.  It is from thinking inside the box of our limitations that we end up opening the box fully.