What is Important

What is the most important thing that you could do with the next hour? the next day? the next week? If you are like me, it isn’t reading and writing more emails. If you are like me it isn’t watching another youtube video or a binge of Netflix or another tweet, post or photo.

If I think about important, in lieu of productivity, the lens of relationship, or the light of health, I have three completely different lists.
If the most important thing resides and is realized when I am productive then in the next hour, I should be presenting to potential clients and setting up presentations for tomorrow and next week.
If my relationships reign as most important then spending time with my beloved; first in quantity and second in quality. I should be scheduling many hours, spending time, laughing, learning and loving with her.
When my health is most important, I make nutritious meals, enough sleep, and daily exercise my priority number one.

The lists aren’t comprehensive or mutually exclusive. There would be small, detailed, practical steps in each list and if planned correctly they could coexist without concern for balance or harmony.
The most important thing I need to be doing right now is making a decision through reflection and deliberation, what is the most important thing. Rather than answering another 25 emails (which creates a spiral of 25 new emails in my inbox) or retweeting a pithy saying, I need to breathe, reflect and react. Inhale, ask, act. Deep breath to quiet my head and open my heart. What should I be doing right now? Do it.

Make Today Remarkable, by doing what is important,

B

Where Are You Going?

The beginning of a new calendar page and the start of the 2nd quarter of 2017 affords us all an opportune moment to look ahead and reflect back. The quarter that was brought me unimagined opportunities, physical challenges and a two surprise financial commitments (one that I needed to meet and one receivable that lapsed). Despite the unexpected or maybe because of it, I managed to stay on target for my 1st quarter goals. I wrote 295,000 words in three projects. I added five new clients and added value to three others. I needed to adapt my run mileage goal because of a nagging and recurring foot injury but was able to clock the missing mileage on a rowing machine. My health improvement was confirmed by my doctor. My reading goal of 150 books this year remains on target (actually one book ahead of target).

How was your quarter? Did January, February, and March live up to your expectations? Did you? What was the highlight of last week? last month? last quarter?
Could you have improved your performance in any element of your life or business?

What are you looking forward to this term? Spring has officially arrived where I live and longer days, early morning sunlight and the greening of my yard and neighborhood is always invigorating. Spring is my third favorite season but coming off what was and felt like a long winter, I am pretty sold on the possibilities ahead.

My goals for the next quarter are my goals and I doubt that they fit well with your circumstances or ambitions. I try to set reachable goals that I can manage if I follow a plan, in all seven elements of the Remarkable People Life Wheel and do an assessment of how satisfied I am in each today and a check-in at the end of June.
I post my goals here as an example of what kinds of things you might consider and to create a public record that holds me to account.

Family – I commit to spending both quality and quantity time with the 20 people in my life that mean the most to me. Quantity – 1 hour a week for most and 8 hours a day for the most important person. Quality – is a reflection of perspective so I commit to being present with each encounter and doing things that the other finds interesting and fun.

Finance – I commit to collect all debts or set up a payment schedule for receivables. There are some large outflows this quarter as we complete a real estate transaction so I commit to reducing expenses by 10%. There are some opportunities in the next three months to reduce or eliminate personal debt so I commit to taking advantage of 3 debt reduction strategies.

Fun – Most of the other six elements of my life contribute to the fun I have in my life. My relationships make me happy and I smile and laugh aloud a dozen times a day. I play games, read great books, write, run, row, rest, and relate which all add to the fun bank. This would be a 10 in the Remarkable Life wheel satisfaction index but I commit to be observant and ready to take in new fun.

Health – This is an ongoing commitment – a higher order habit to live a holistically healthier life. That means that monitoring and maintaining my current blood pressure. I commit to losing another 5 pounds this quarter (which gets me to a 3 year healthy weight loss goal). I commit to eliminating alcohol for April, sugar for May, and coffee for June – for no particular reason other than making a cleansing commitment is good for my constitution. I am receiving treatment for the foot injury so I can commit to daily exercise and a minimum of 100 km on trails each month.

Work – I have three ongoing writing assignments and I commit to writing every day this quarter, alternating projects. I am best at this commitment first thing in the morning so I am ready to return to writing 750-1500 words before 7am each day.
I have space for 4 new clients starting this month (so take this as an invitation to reach out, if you could see us co-creating value in your life). I will send out three newsletters and finalize the content for an online goal achievement course.

Side Hustle – this is my personal category for element 6 (you can pick something that resonates with you – some have opted for travel, projects, relationships, spirituality…)
My side hustle basket is empty right now. I am not testing the waters, surveying, scanning, budgeting any interesting projects. Two ongoing civic hustles are on hold until the October municipal election. I have committed to assist three candidates with their campaigns for election and need to firm up expectations and time needed.

That is the simple accountability and reflection process that takes a couple hours because I keep an inventory running through the quarter and use technology to keep track of achievements.

If you could use some assistance in creating your Life element goals, I would be happy to offer a complimentary one hour Skype session to readers. If that is of interest, please comment here or reach out to bob@remarkablepeople.ca

Soar

What is rising from your ashes? Have you been hit with a series of unfortunate and unimaginable circumstances that have you reeling? Have you been given the opportunity to seek employment, relationship, fulfillment elsewhere? Has your world exploded? Did a relationship or project get consumed by flames?

phoenix

Take time, a few days or a couple weeks and recognize the reality, accept the finality, do some bargaining with yourself, feel hurt and angry and then come out the other side. The measure isn’t in what you lost but in what you learned and what you are doing to embrace and use your circumstances?

We all suffer tragedies and trauma and when we ruminate in it and then use the experience to flourish and bloom into something we never imagined.

If a long or short relationship has come to an end, embrace being single. Love yourself and the chance you now have to make decisions that are good for you. Start ticking off the list of things you wanted to do but the relationship prohibited. Spend time in the world in awkward situations. Go to places that you wouldn’t usually consider. Talk to people who aren’t in your ‘loop’. Learn something new every day. (curious.com has a wide menu of possibilities)

If you have been underemployed or unemployed for a while, take advantage of the time and develop new skills, volunteer with organizations, visit family and spend time outside enjoying the fresh air. Look for new ways to be seen and known. If you have been a geologist for years but are interested in food, take a class, visit a foodie event, reach out to the chef you most admire. Whether you are 30, 40 or 60, beginning anew isn’t a failure, it is courageous. We will all start and end numerous careers throughout our lives and many of us will continue to add value in some employment arrangement well past what was once considered retirement age.

For every pyre, there is a phoenix waiting to arise. As long as we don’t douse the embers with disappointment and defeat there is a new you waiting to be born. When the egg hatches, fly as high as you can and be okay if/when the next challenge settles you back on the ground with a thud. Starting over is an opportunity and a testament to your courage.

B

Live the Adventure

Are you living your adventure? We have an opportunity to lead an abundant and exciting journey. With about 675,000 hours, we have a chance and a responsibility to make the most of them. I have lived almost 550,000 hours ( I shouldn’t have done this calculation but that is 80% of my allotment). In the remaining 20% or whatever number you calculate, what am I going to try? where am I going to go? who am I going to meet? what am I going to learn? what will touch me? what will scare me? what will challenge me? what will make me laugh? cry? love?

I am feeling wistful and jealous as good friends set out on a two-month adventure. I look forward to hearing the tales of travel, food, drink, sites, problems and relationships. There is a side of me that wishes we were joining them but a deep realization that this is their trip and their test.

adventure
I/we need to make each day an adventure regardless of where we/I land. Living in one of the best countries in the world (Canada was again rated #2) in a city that gets the highest honours for liveability and opportunity(Calgary) , in a neighbourhood that has again been voted one of the coolest places to live (Inglewood), we/I shouldn’t need to go far to be showered with possibilities.

We have an average of 2396 hours of bright sun each year, spread over 333 days. Our weather is variable but for the next five months, it will be temperate. We/I live along the shore of two rivers and have hundreds of miles of walking/biking trails. We are within a fifteen-minute walk of two large urban parks and have urban excitement and a bird sanctuary within fifteen minutes on our bikes.

From early spring to late fall, there are festivals almost every weekend. Some are large multi-day events like Folk Festival, Opera in the Village and The Calgary International Children’s Festival. Some festivals are one-day and local to communities like Lilacfest, Sunfest and Chinatown Street Festival. There are events that celebrate ethnicity – Serbian Fest in May, Greek festival in June, Fiestaval Latino Festival in July and Carifest in August. Some featured food and beverage – Taste of Calgary, Circle the Wagons and Alberta Beer Festivals. There are celebrations of the arts, parties for local and national holidays and the amazing Beakerhead; a smashup of arts, culture, and science.
Even when there isn’t an organized party, there is still so much to see and do.

If we/I took in some of everything that I listed and a day at the Calgary Stampede, we could spend 200 hours laughing, learning, listening, lingering and letting go. Sounds like there are adventures waiting for us and we just need to step outside and breathe them in.

We/I are heading off to the Outdoor Show today, to be inspired and encouraged by what adventure awaits outside the boundaries of our great city.

Find your adventure for today and be ready for tomorrow’s,

B

Warning – Rant Ahead

I often feel compelled to comment on the state of the world or the news of the day. I recognize that by opinion and my interpretation is personal and based in the sum of my experiences, education, and other biases. Most days I resist the urge to use this platform and share my outlandish views on social media and in speaking opportunities. This is mostly to honour the unwritten agreement that I have with subscribers to Make it Your Problem. For long time readers, you will have recognized dozens, maybe hundreds of times that I stepped into the fray and ranted away. Let this introduction serve as a disclaimer – if you don’t want to hear my latest rave, it would be best to exit this page and head over to my Patreon site for something completely different.

pof

 

The headline reads ” President Suffers Third Degree Burns When his Trousers Spontaneously Ignite.” The rant is regarding alternate truth and what we are to do when someone we need to trust disregards the facts and says whatever serves his self-serving agenda. Do we say ” Oh, that’s just Donald.” Should we continue to ignore everything that flows from his lips? Can we hold up a light and shine truth on his statements? What could/would we achieve?

To be clear, not everything that is spoken is a lie, and not everything that turns out to be false is a lie either. When, he/we misspeak and are careless about how he / we tell a story, it may be wrong, but without malice aforethought, it is just bad practice and poor preparation. But there comes a time when the glaringly ridiculous isn’t negligent but rather malicious. When the statement is meant to manipulate and deceive, forgiveness and concessions shouldn’t be available.

The line was crossed with mean-spiritedness in statements about Mexican rapists, 911, NATO commitments, wiretapping, Russian involvement and election fraud. Reputable officials and appointees as well as media have continued to discredit conspiracy theories, self-aggrandizing assertions, and ‘woe-is-me’ whining.

Back to the question ” What do we do?”. I wish, we could just ignore the diatribes but the ramifications and consequences that these may have would mean that I am dangerously naive to ignore the message and therefore the messenger. Holding him and his utterings to a lower standard is a disservice to the country, the planet and ourselves and the danger is still that they inflame and conflate tension and do nothing to bring back a level of hope and truth.
So, by my reckoning, we are left to challenge the recklessness with all ammunition at hand. We have a voice, in face-to-face conversations. We have an audience in our blogs, podcasts and social media channels. We have friends and colleagues that we can recruit to speak their voices. With the power we have there is a responsibility to exercise good judgement and check the veracity of our message. A lie that is meant to defeat a different lie only serves to perpetuate the downward spiral.
If you read something, see something, feel something check it against at least three disparate sources before you forward, retweet, or share in any form.
It may be prudent if we return to Descartes 17th century Method before creating personal havoc by haranguing with only suspicions.
1. The first precept is never to accept a thing as true until I know it as such without a single doubt.
2. Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.
3. The last rule is to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so comprehensive, that I should be certain of omitting nothing.

After working through the Cartesian process, I/we should be capable of creating with brevity and clarity (and humour if possible), a well reasoned and compelling rebuttal that makes sense to and resonates with our specific audience.

I can’t be sure that I won’t go flying off the deep end and react to something that I believe to be inaccurate or venomous or even mischevious. I will attempt to hold myself to a higher standard of verification and thought. I will try to hold the importance of truth over the urgency of being heard. I will do my best to gather information, data, and opinion from a variety of sources with a variety of positions. I will use my voice to shine a light when I have done my diligence. I won’t ignore and I won’t minimize.

As Edmund Burke said, and JFK restated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

B

Happy Pi Day

Pi Day 3.14 π

A small symbol π provides us with a glimpse of an ordered world and a view of beauty and efficiency that is unrivaled. 3.14159265358979323… goes far beyond mathematical calculations. After all how often do I need to know the circumference of a circle. Pi shows herself in our DNA and the spiral double helix. She predicts the path of a river and the total distance traveled. She foresees and designs our communities and helps us understand our reciprocal relationships. Pi wasn’t a Eureka moment. Archimedes carefully calculated her value based on 2000 years of other’s estimations. About 2000 years later we are still enthralled with her power.

In honour of Pi Day, I am offering you the opportunity to make your own calculated discovery – about yourself and your larger world. If you are struggling to understand the meaning of your life and are hoping to discover a personal purpose, this opportunity may be for you. If your circle of influence and relationship is skewed or broken, this proposition can help you redraw boundaries and recalculate your position.

Remarkable coaching will uncover your greatest strengths and assist in finding alternatives to weaknesses. Through feed forward solution-focused sessions, you can discover specific intentions and actions to move you on your adventure.

My Pi Day Offer.

I am opening up 10 spots in April ( the start of Q2 2017) to clients who are interested in creating a significant change for themselves (in work, in life, in love, in health). The Pi Day Offer provides 3 – one-hour remarkable coaching sessions (either in person at our office or on the phone) where a commitment, that is the highest and best use will act as our guide. You will discover what immediate, relevant and concrete first step you can take and how to intentionally calculate and recognize when you complete it. You will be held accountable for your first, second, third … commitments and coached to recognize and reduce barriers that impede your goal. In recognition of the importance of π and your courage to take the next big step in your journey, we are offering this package to the first 10 adventurous and courageous clients for $314. If you respond before March 23rd, I will make you a pie.

Please let us know that you are interested and we can find 3 dates and times that works best. Contact Bob McInnis 5872271449 or bob@remarkablepeople.ca

I Don’t Understand

 

curious

I am a prideful guy and I think that I am a pretty sharp pencil. I like it when people think that I am clever. Sometimes I am clever, and sometimes I wing it. I rarely say, ” I don’t know” or ” I don’t know”. I am choosing to make Thursdays my “I Am Just Trying to Understand’ day each week. Thursday will be the day that I proudly declare my ignorance. I won’t synthesize what I do know and try shape it to fit an unrelated question. I won’t bluff my way through conversations. I will just say ” help me understand” or ” tell me more, so I can understand”. I am trusting that by being transparent and inquisitive, I will learn more about the subject under discussion and the person or people I am in conversation with.

Here are different ways I can say “I do not understand”

“What did you say? What do you mean? Ca you tell me more? Can you say more about that? I don’t understand. Excuse me, I didn’t get it. Excuse me, can you please repeat it? Sorry, I did not catch that. I missed that. That went right over my head. Can you please speak slowly? I don’t get it. Do you mind explaining it again? I’m afraid it is not clear what you saying. Would you mind clarifying what you said? I am sorry, but I don’t follow what you are saying. I don’t catch what you said. Sorry. I am not trying to be smart, I just don’t get it.”

Even writing those words makes me a bit uncomfortable. There is a script, in my head, that tells me that I should know everything or at least not disclose any lack of awareness, experience or education. It doesn’t matter where my scripts came from. I just need an awareness that the foundation informs my decisions. I can’t change yesterday and the actions or inactions that are embedded in my nature but I can move forward, slowly and subtlety altering how I choose to react to familiar and unfamiliar stimulus. Today, I recognize my desire (need) to be right and to be seen as clever and I challenge myself to be open and transparent by asking awkward and clumsy questions to clarify and learn.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

Seems Bill understood that we need to accept that we don’t understand everything/anything. Where we see certainty Hamlet saw other possibilities. I am excited to see what Thursdays bring and whether my horizons will expand beyond what I am comfortable knowing.

Make Today Remarkable, by allowing some confusion,

B

Coping

We have numerous coping mechanisms and self-defense practices to help us get through the day. Many seem innocuous and inconsequential. But like most devices, we can dangerously overuse them and isolate ourselves from our reality and those around us.
To the world, I look like an extrovert and in the sense that I process outside my head, I am. But after spending an afternoon, a day, or a week in the midst of people – I am exhausted and need to retreat to a quiet space where I can ‘be’ inside my head and heart in order to get refreshed. While not quite the dictionary definition of ruminate, I do ponder the intent, the words, and the actions I took today and consider where I may have been unnecessarily harsh, too provocative, or selfish. In my rumination, I review and revisit but I don’t beat myself up. I try to learn from my missteps and I try to do better next time. Connecting dots backwards helps me see how I can be more supple and subtle in the future. On the days that I wrestle with myself and am open to my gentle probing and receptive to being better, I am invigorated.

hive

When I allow distraction or laziness to keep me from reflection, I begin to seed trauma. While I pretend to keep busy with other tasks, my head and heart are using kinetic energy trying to reconcile fragments that require focus to understand. I bury the instance or interaction and insist that it is forgotten but until I acknowledge the emotions, atone for any infractions or forgive myself, I allow the boil to fester. The trauma compiles with and compresses yesterday’s stuff that wasn’t dealt with and the day before and … Before long the stress is too much to bear and I present and resent in unhealthy ways. I either lose my temper, my composure, or I begin plotting some ridiculous vengeance. None are necessary or helpful.

There seems to be evidence (I know not pure scientific research) that when I let the boils of discontent fester without rumination, I suffer from stress and when I reflect, grimace and reconcile I celebrate growth.

I am better when I am better at mulling, accepting, confessing, and remedying. I will reflect on that last sentence tonight before I fall into blissful sleep.

B

You and Your Neighbours Can!

I really like talking with eager, talented neighbors about social change. Maybe, too much. Conversation, discussion, debate, brainstorming, ideation, evaluation, analysis are all great tools but without action and disruption, it is only empty rhetoric or worse self-absolution.

I heard Mark Lakeman speak last night at a Resilient Community event. He made many provocative statements and offered dozens of actions that he and his village have taken in Portland, Oregon. My paraphrase of the one that stuck with me was ” We don’t deserve to talk about sustainability if we can’t solve issues of abuse and injustice towards women.” I would add that we don’t have the right or reason to survive as a species if we can’t solve abuse of children, women, and seniors.

Action

I recognize that issues can be wickedly complicated. But when we use the complexity as an excuse for inaction, we become complicit in the issue and its impact. When we delay our action, hoping to find the best options, we leave people struggling and in danger. Many readers know that I have a significant action bias and that I have made hundreds of decisions that later need adaptation and improvement. But by acting, the ball started rolling and its momentum, direction, and scale could be altered.

I recall seeing a sign in the airport in San Francisco, a number of years ago. ” If you see something, say something”, resonates with my action focus and I would amend it to read ” If you see something, say something, and do something”. Do anything, do the best that you can in the moment, do the least that you can do in the moment, just do something.

You/I may not be able to solve the issue for all sufferers or even solve the problem completely for one person, but we can act. And we can surround ourselves with like-minded, willing and able, neighbours. What if four concerned citizens all agreed that there should be no child hunger at their community school? Or that the two children from their block would always have lunch. Or that the senior, living alone, would have someone to have a cup of tea with and talk with, every afternoon. Or the woman from the house where there is always shouting would have a safe place? If you look at your world and see something amiss, can you ask ” what can I do?” And then can you imagine you and your ‘team’ taking some meaningful action?

Every day in thousands of communities, millions of neighbours have come together to make it their problem. Their ‘it’ is different from yours, their response isn’t the same each time, but they are all acting and in their action they are making themselves and their villages a better place.

Make Today Remarkable, by beginning a conversation with a commitment to act together,
B

The Enemy

At the height of the cold war, most of us in the west; Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Christian or atheist, had a common enemy. And when President Reagan said, in 1987, in Berlin “I’d like to ask the Soviet leaders one question […] Why is the wall there?” and “I call upon those responsible to dismantle it [today]”.

Thirty years later, many of us in the west; Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Christian or atheist, have a common enemy. And when President Trump says, in 2017, in Washington says about his wall “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful.” It is time once gain to learn from history. Isolating ourselves and our misguided ideas is a disservice to the world and harmful to our people.

Under the old common enemy; Communism, a few benefited greatly. Members of the party elite built dachas, statues, monuments and amazing wealth. Oppression was necessary, so the officials suspended freedoms and disappeared citizens. Views contrary to the party line were ridiculed, writers and artists who challenged the regime faced imprisonment and anyone who wasn’t pure white Russian was relegated to secondary and tertiary citizenship.

Thirty years seems long enough for our collective memory to have faded. It seems many of us have forgotten that we opposed the era of Khrushchev through Gorbachev. A time when the ordinary people of the USSR suffered shortages in the most basics of life. A time when ruthless, cynical opportunism flourished and the best liars and fabricators made a mockery of truth.

It seems that Russia forgot the path and hope of “Demokratizatsiya” and have again accepted the iron fist holding sway while stuffing a wallet with gold. A bare-chested leader with bravado and little else, riding bareback isn’t a knight in white armor and cooperation with a bear is a fools game.

When held to public scrutiny and criticism, the power was sapped and the wall did come down.

We have a responsibility and an opportunity to shine a light with voice and deed, calling out narrow-minded protectionism and parochialism whether in Moscow, Washington, Ottawa or London or in the provinces, states, cities and towns.Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Socialist, Christian or atheist, have a common enemy and she is overconfident that we will surrender to the dismantling of values and the construction of barriers to keep ideas out. Show her that she is wrong.

B