Category Archives: Change

Passivity Paralyzes

With eight months of the year behind us, how would you say you’re growing? In what areas are you really satisfied about your progress — and in which ones would you, in all honesty say, there’s been real blockage — even passivity?

Why should we beware of passivity? Because passivity is a usually a sign that we’ve been entertaining thoughts like:

  • I’ve arrrived. Although most of us would never actually say such a thing, it’s suggested when we sit, cemented in place.
  • I’m comfortable. Comfort says, “I know my marriage could be better, my relationships are few and weak, my fathering is part-time at best, my job performance could be great instead of average…but the discomfort I have now might be preferable to the discomfort I might experience from going on in those areas.”
  • I can’t. At my age…with my background…as busy as I am….(insert favorite phrase here) no one could expect me to make big changes in my __________ (fitness, marriage,  attitude toward work, spiritual life).

The key to breaking free from passivity is intentionality. It’s a clear and workable plan to get around growing people, to find and incorporate some new resources, maybe to add some accountability.

What kinds of passivity can you identify? What would be the first, best steps out of it for the rest of the year?

Habits of Growing People

For most of my life, I’ve witnessed it: some people are content to remain at their current level of understanding, education, development and maturity. It’s true in any facet of life where growth is possible. At some point, for them, growth became optional. So there they sit, seemingly in a recliner, on a plateau. It might be on the job, in their marriage, in the spiritual life and the like.

Others though, seem to always have a book at hand or they’re telling you about something they’ve just learned. They might be the person who always seems ready for another sharpening relationship, more input or an app they can download and put to use.

What can you observe in the attitudes and practices of people who grow and keep growing?

1. Growing people have a plan to grow.

Oh, it may not be complicated. Their plan might be as simple as a bucket list, a book club or a gym membership. Streaming entertainment excites them less than personal interaction. They prefer face time to Facebook and thought-provoking discussion to quoting sound bite.

2. Growing people have growing friends.

They associate with others who aren’t content with the status quo in their own lives. They attract the kind of people who also engage in thought and learn new skills. They might together pursue weight loss or health goals or DIY projects. They practice mutual challenge and encouragement.

3. Growing people take advantage of growth resources.

Invariably, growing people are readers. They’ll often have a book or device at hand, so when they’re waiting, they’re reading. They go to conferences, engage a mentor or take a class. They study areas not associated with their profession. They read select tweets and blogs. They listen deeply, learn intuitively and pass on what they’re learning!

4. Growing people practice growth habits even when they’re not motivated.

Motivation slows, even for growth-oriented people. But they know that growth isn’t an option. They’ve experienced that when growth ceases, the downward slide begins. People committed to growth understand that daily habits and small steps will both keep them moving forward and kick-start their motivation again.

You likely wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t committed to your own growth.

What attitudes or practices have helped keep you moving forward?

Leverage Your Discontent

Thomas Edison said, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” When I consider change (almost any change) the risks associated or the pain (i.e. discipline, work) required by that change can keep me firmly fixed in place. Two views can give me the motivation to “move out”:

One view is the vision of your preferred future. When I paint a clear, vivid, compelling picture of what life will be like (a deepening relationship, growing sales, financial freedom, increasing health) I suddenly have a powerful tool which gets me moving and keeps me motivated.The second view is what Edison described. It is the real and honest view that comes when I evaluate my present state. It is coming to terms with where today’s path will get me if I continue on it! It likely will feature descriptions of my future which – when I see them on paper – will repeatedly get me “unstuck” and move me into a growth mode.
If you want help to think about where you really want to go, click or call! I love helping clients redesign their futures.

What could you do about it today?

Pythagoras must have known about human nature as well as mathematics. He wrote: “The beginning is half the whole”.

Not having “enough” time or energy tends to make us hold off until there is “enough” to begin a new or major project or tackle an issue (in a relationship for instance) which we know will be involved. The mathematician’s word would encourage us to just get started. Then, we make a discovery: once a first step is taken, movement in the same direction becomes more fluid!

What’s on the back burner and has been for a while? I’ve got a couple of those – and I’m reminding myself today, “You cannot finish something you don’t start!”

Need help getting started?

What questions could you ask and answer to take the first steps?

Whatever you decide

Ralph Waldo Emerson described what happens when we decide on a course of action or goal.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

You’ve likely experienced the “fruit” of critics in your life. From family members at an early age to co-workers and “friends” later in life, we often have a ready supply of those who tell us how unlikely it is that our goal or plan will come to fruition. Summoning courage at those junctures means putting ourselves “out there” and it means operating without the encouragement of people who ought to believe in us.

What an appropriate time that is to:

  • Get with someone who’s been there, who’s been experienced a similar journey. Examples might be a business owner who’s taken signficant risk or one who’s worked through huge financial hurdles. A key individual might provide the need of the moment: mentor, counsel, encouragement, prayer or challenge. Be ready for the response that’s right!
  • Write out a clear and compelling vision. Answer for yourself the “why am I doing this?” question. Spend time yourself in meditation and prayer. Ascertain that you’re not doing the wrong thing your critics asserted.
  • Keep the vision connected to reality. Great visions rarely come together in the time and manner we’d prefer. Put realistic and measureable goals together, get them into your plan and work your plan.
  • Get some coaching. Coaches specialize in listening and we believe in our clients. I believe what God has put into people — by way of vision, purpose and passions — is what needs to “come out”. In nearly every session, I hear a clients discuss things they are hestitant to share even with spouses, best friends or co-workers.

 

 

In need of some new motivation?

Goals are highly motivational the first few days or weeks after they’re written. Then come the “lag times” – when we’d rather do just about anything than what the goals require of us daily or weekly, to see the goals achieved. Here are some good ways to find some new motivation.

1. Review how far you’ve come since you laid out the goal. Looking forward at a goal can be daunting – but observing the climb you’ve got behind you will often encourage you to stay the course!

2. Re-write your goal in new terms and read it aloud several times a day. If the goal doesn’t excite you, recast it in terms that do. Then remind yourself of it verbally again and again; let it become part of your thinking.

3. Revisit your vision statement. The goal might be for something 6 months away, but keep asking yourself, “What will life look like 5, 10, or 20 years from now if I keep to this course and keep improving it?” My immediate goal might be lowering my blood pressure through working out 6 days a week; my vision might be running a “senior’s marathon” when I’m 75!

4. Recruit 2 friends or colleagues to provide you with weekly check-ups. Find people who are also pursuing some goal – you need challengers and encouragers!

5. Record you progress on a graph or chart and post it where your family or co-workers can see it. A public record on the refrigerator or bulletin board or blog might be just the thing to kick your motivation into high gear again.

And, if you need help, not just with vision and goals, but with the elements which will get you moving toward them (support, encouragement and motivation) call me!

I’d love to help.

Any Incentive?

A few years ago, a Michigan State University study centered on 2 groups of faculty and staff. In both groups, individuals had committed to a 6-month exercise program. The difference in the 2 groups was simple. In one, individuals willingly bet $40 that they would stay with the program. Members of the other group declined to place bets on their own success.

97% of the faculty members and staff who had placed personal bets were successful. With the non-betting group, only 19% completed the program!

What incentives do you put alongside your goals to insure changes in your thoughts, decisions and actions?

As coaches, we assist clients not only in setting great goals, but in understanding the reasons they want to reach them: most often those reasons flow from their purpose, passion and core values.

Today’s Comfort Zone…

There’s a powerful truth that should push us forward to grow in all of life’s dimensions: Today’s comfort zone becomes tomorrow’s confinement zone. The atrophy of all our “muscles” — physical, mental, relational, spiritual — even the creative “muscles” of growing in business or influence — that atrophy always results from disuse. Ever hear of “The Wild Duck of Denmark” — a story told by Soren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian and philosopher.

It seems a wild duck was flying northward with his mates across Europe during the springtime. En route, he landed in a barnyard in Denmark, where he made friends with the tame ducks that lived there. The wild duck enjoyed the corn and fresh water. He decided to stay for an hour, then for a day, then for a week , and finally, for a month.

At the end of that time, he contemplated flying to join his friends in the vast North, but he had begun to enjoy the safety of the barnyard, and the tame ducks had made him feel so welcome. So he stayed for the summer.

One autumn day, when his wild mates were flying south, he heard their quacking. It stirred him with delight, and he enthusiastically flapped his wings and rose into the air to join them. Much to his dismay, he found that he could rise no higher than the eaves of the barn. As he waddled back to the safety of the barnyard, he muttered to himself, “I’m satisfied here, I have plenty of food, and the area is good. Why should I leave.?” So, he spent the winter on the farm.

In the spring, when the wild ducks flew overhead again, he felt a strange stirring within his breast, but he did not even try to fly up to meet them. When they returned in the fall, they again called to invite him to join them, but this time, the duck did not even notice them. There was no stirring within his breast. He simply kept on eating corn which made him fat.

In which dimension do you most need the challenge to fly?

 

Turning Down Time into Wow Time

It’s the time of year when we’re preparing to hit the road, the beach or the mountains and recharge our batteries so we will be able to hit things hard for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, in our “down” time, we often don’t benefit, mostly for a couple of reasons.

   1. We’re still too “wired” to gain much from the experience. Stress isn’t resident at our desks, it lives in us! We take it along–rather than maximizing time off to learn skills to deal with stress in healthy ways.

   2. We don’t plan the time away, so the vacation adds stress (by doing too much, adding to our debt load, or traveling too far for instance).

 I’d suggest 3 goals to make sure your down time is really that.

Reconnect with people (spouse, children, extended family, close friends). Relationships often are sacrificed for work; this is a great time to reestablish bonds.

Refocus on your purpose and passion. This isn’t just about work. It’s some concrete time when you’ll strategize for the long haul, praying and thinking deeply about where life ought to be headed and where it in reality is.

Refine your direction. Midcourse correction think time might just be one of the greatest benefits of down time. No one is aiming precisely at long term vision and goals. In your down time you will discover courage to make necessary changes—courage that’s hard to summon in the whirlwind of everyday.

If those are my goals, what facilitates reaching them while enjoying time away? I’d suggest:   

Unplug with intention. Consider going digital free for a major part of your down time! Studies say that despite the great convenience of connectedness, technology raises stress levels! So, consider going somewhere (a cruise or remote cabin for instance) that offers no or very expensive cell coverage. Make a decision ahead of time that you’re unplugging except for emergency situations.

If you can’t completely get away from your devices, agree with the office (or family members) on how much you’ll be available or at what hours of the day. Set your email with a vacation auto response. Include the contact info of who can help during your absence). Commit with the individuals with whom you’re traveling that you won’t check email more than a certain number of times during the days you’re “unplugged.”

Discuss a “no TV” plan (or other limits on your digital drugs) and discover how much you can enjoy being unplugged.

Unwind with recharging in mind. Figure out how to include some rich times with the people you love and who love you. Ask yourself: what would deepen conversation, add fun experiences and memory-building? Think and plan ahead for both fun and serious times which will build unity in relationships.

Instead of planning to just relax, add some activity or exercise which will charge you physically and mentally. Studies reveal that exercise increases cognition. It stands to reason that no movement and lots of rich food won’t refresh you, nor prepare you for the challenges when you return to responsibilities.

Spend time with activities you deeply enjoy. Example: read something you normally don’t read, but know you’d enjoy. Novels that challenge and free your thinking can be good; “fresh approach” or motivational books will invite reflection. Nonfiction that’s outside your area of expertise or experience will stretch your brain. Plan time reflecting on how things are really going in all the areas of your life. Early mornings alone might be a perfect time for some reflection and reorientation time.

Do some re-capping, listing, journaling. The idea isn’t to fixate on “what’s back home” and what you’re trying to get away from–it’s to download your mind and heart in some kind of orderly fashion, so as your mind won’t be occupied with random thoughts, feelings and ideas. Our minds get satisfied that “things will be handled” when things are on paper. Random thoughts won’t pop up nearly so much then, while you’re on a break.

 Plan for your down time and it will provide amazing benefits.

How could you gain the widest variety of benefit from your down time this summer?

Extra credit question: How can you take some of the above and apply them to some down time every week and every month?

Time Away

Carisa Bianchi said, “When people don’t take time out, they stop being productive.” Do you find the tyranny of the urgent driving you forward, even when you know you need some time out? When that’s the case, creativity, effectiveness and productivity get lost in the shuffle.

What would “time away” look like? And to what ends? 

How could you use some physical “time away”? A friend of mine has the habit 0f, every day, leaving his office and walking to a covered bench outdoors. In the walk and the “bench time” he simply sits, breathes fresh air and gets in 10 or 15 minutes of relaxation. We need physical rest and relaxation as well as exertion and exercise to counteract the tendancy to sit all day. Working out positively impacts the brain as well as the heart; we get de-stressed and a shot of oxygen which we don’t get by sitting. How could you add some physical time out to every hour, to each segment of the day (morning, afternoon, evening) and to your week (month, year)?

How could you use some mental “time away”? Most of us so engage with the “mental” in business and work that we’d rather escape it when we’re “away”. The need here is breadth and variation. So how could you stretch your mind by something different than what occupies it day by day? How about a documentary you’d normally not choose? How about tackling a project outside your expertise? What value would there be in reading and discussing a serious book with your spouse?

How could you use some spiritual “time away”? The spiritual area of life often occupies the bottom of our priority lists because we don’t recognize: we are spiritual creatures. Because that’s true, it stands to reason that ignoring this vital area creates deficits in how we function, relate and live. In what areas of the spiritual life could you get stretched? Are there disciplines you’ve always wanted to pursue (prayer, meditation, reading Scripture daily)? Is there someone with whom you could interact or who might mentor you?

How could you use some relational “time away”? When I think of significant friendships I used to enjoy (ones separated by long distance and time) I realize again the power and value of real friendships. For me (and most men?) they are rare — but all the more necessary. Relationships bring balance into our lives; they are the source of much “added value” to each person. Relationships help us avoid pitfalls and do well in life. So what would time away look like? A long lunch in the middle of a busy week to bounce ideas off a friend? Date time each week with your spouse to communicate, dream and make plans? An annual vacation with close friends you don’t regularly get to see?

How would you benefit if you’d choose one or more of the above and carve out even a bit of time for them? Here’s hoping you get some serious time away this week in one or all of the above categories!