Self Improvement · Uncertainty

What We Need More Of

What we need a lot more of is exuberance, enthusiasm, and elation. The world around me and the one created by media is vitriolic, spiteful and polarized. I find the atmosphere draining and depressing so I am calling on all my friends, family colleagues, readers and any strangers who happen to encounter this challenge to step into the world today, tomorrow and the next day – Until October 1 with the 3 e’s on your face and sleeve.

Be exuberant. Be ebullient, buoyant, cheerful, jaunty, lighthearted, high-spirited, exhilarated, excited, exultant, euphoric, joyful, cheery, merry, jubilant, vivacious, enthusiastic, irrepressible, energetic, animated, full of life, lively, vigorous, adrenalized; be full of life and optimism. Smile when you are walking down the street, down the hall or through the park. Smile a ridiculously big smile at every person you encounter. Laugh, giggle, snort when something tickles your funny bone. Don’t suppress it because of some imagined social convention.
Sing along with the radio, cd, or mp3. Listen to uplifting, inane, silly songs and join in. Try Mary Poppins, Frozen, or Weird Al for inspiration. Sing loud and like you mean it (even if you don’t).

Stand up with your back straight and your shoulders back as you skip, march, prance and dance through your day. Be an invitation to exuberance for the world that sees you and wonders, sees you and smiles, sees you and joins in.

Be enthusiastic. Be eager, keen, avid, ardent, fervent, passionate, ebullient, zealous, vehement; excited, wholehearted, committed, devoted, fanatical, earnest; go hog-wild, can-do, gung-ho, rah-rah. Cheer on someone who is trying, be first in line to accept responsibility or to try something new. Wear your passion on your sleeve by celebrating a great idea, a small victory, a valiant effort, a team success. Share the victories with others and include them in the credit.

Be Elated. Be thrilled, delighted, overjoyed, ecstatic, euphoric, very happy, joyous, gleeful, jubilant, beside oneself, exultant, rapturous, in raptures, walking on air, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven, jumping for joy, in transports of delight; on top of the world, over the moon, on a high, tickled pink. The other two e’s are easy to see and easy to demonstrate – they exist outside of us and are on exhibit for all to see and experience. Being elated is inside of us and is more difficult to hold on to. But like most things, elation is a choice. I get to decide, you get to decide, we get to decide to feel joyful in difficult times, to be delighted by the blessings we have not dejected by any perceived deficiency and tickled pink with the privilege of relationships we have.

As I reach the end of this post, I do a twirl and laugh out loud. Will you do the same? As I step away from my computer, I commit to smiling and celebrating with those I encounter this morning. Will you do the same? In the moments between my desk and the door, I simply choose joy over anger, glee over anxiety, and appreciation, love, and mindfulness over the messages and images that will likely bombard me this afternoon. How about it, are you ready to be exuberant, enthusiastic and elated?

Make Today Remarkable,

B

Uncategorized

The Unhealthy Consumer: When is it Enough?

I probably have enough of everything.

MakeItUltra™

By Eric Perry, PhD-c


“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” ~Will Rogers

Whereever we look, we are constantly being fed the idea that we need more “stuff.” We have 24 hour television channels devoted entirely to enticing us to buy more and more items we don’t really need. Every commercial break is an opportunity to sell to a captive audience. For those who do not watch television; the internet is always open, perpetually stocked with anything a person can imagine. Magazines flaunt the latest gadgets, cars, clothes, makeup, and anything else they are paid to advertise. Within social media, so-called influencers aim to sway the way we live. We are constantly encouraged to be olympic level consumers. The average American household has $5,700 in credit card debt. If we exclude those who pay their credit card off in…

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Original Thought · Uncertainty

I was Invisible

When I was in the woods today
I had a bit of a start
She walked past
without seeing me

I didn’t blend in or camouflage
she just didn’t seem aware of me
Her big brown eyes were shining
here ears were flagging for noise
The nose twitched and searched
and still I wasn’t there

How many times, in a week, do I make others invisible? Do they know that I don’t see them? Do they care? I was taken aback by the doe’s reminder of my insignificance. She said ” your presence here means nothing to me” “you are of no value and offer no threat so for my purposes, you don’t exist.”

When I pass someone sleeping on a bench, without feeling anything, am I saying the same thing? If a woman is crying and I ignore her, am I signalling that her problems aren’t mine? When someone in front of me litters and I don’t say or do anything, have I also ignored his and my responsibilities?

Being observant is the first step to empathy. If I am able to erase human tragedy, suffering, or delete behaviour that is offside, I can’t possibly begin to understand enough to care or care enough to understand. After observation comes acknowledgement, ” I see you and I see your burden.” ” I feel your pain.” ” I need to say something or do something.”
Step three is deciding. So at this point, you are still off the hook. You haven’t made a commitment to action. I make decisions easily; too easily many would say. So I don’t know what process you go through to choose. You might do a pros/cons list or a cost-benefit analysis or need to do more research (which is really just an excuse). You may find reasons to intervene or evidence to rush away. If you choose to ignore what you have observed and acknowledged, you are likely already dozens of meters past the situation and like the deer in the forest have said ” you are of no consequence to me.”

On the other hand, if you choose to say or do something act quickly and with respect and compassion. Be open-handed, open-hearted, and open-minded. “He who hesitates is lost”. Do or say what comes to your mind. Trust that you don’t need a PhD in Caring or Respect before you know how to be human. You have been training for this all your life even if you have ignored the lessons or avoided using them, you’ve got this. You’ve got this because it doesn’t need to be perfect. ” Are you okay?”, a smile, sit in silence beside someone, be a fellow human, can change the moment. You are saying without uttering ” I see you, I care, Can I help?” or ” We are rotating on this sphere together and we both need to do our part to make it better” or ” today you are down, tomorrow it could be me”

I can’t predict what you will, could or should do because I am not you, in your shoes, in whatever situation you are finding yourself. I can guarantee that ignoring what is in front of you is complicit with the issue that troubled you enough to get to deciding. Caution and neutrality are always complicit with the antagonism or aggression in the circumstances. If I don’t care enough to intervene, I don’t care at all. If I don’t care enough to say something, I become part of the problem.

I hope you choose to see those people and behaviours in your world, today, tomorrow and tomorrow again and that you find the compassion and courage to stand with someone you know or someone you will never know.

Make Today Remarkable, or at least bearable, for someone else,

B

Uncategorized

Capacity

How do you know if you have reached your capacity? What happens when you exceed it? Is that even possible? When I reach a new training goal and exceed my capacity, I just move the line to the new personal best. If I could increase my capacity by 1% 5 days a week, the gains in a month, a year would be remarkable. My squat personal best is 250 pounds of 5 sets of 5 reps. A 1% increase would add 2.5 pounds tomorrow, which seems entirely doable. After 5 days my capacity would be set at about 263 pounds. For my age and frame size, there is likely an extreme capacity. With a little bit of Google sleuthing, it seems that the record for a 64-year-old is 369 pounds. That seems impossible for me to imagine lifting but shouldn’t we strive to reach the outer limits. And if the record holder, John LaFlamme, add 1% a week for a month he would reach more than 390.

What about other workloads? If I write 2500 words today and read 200 pages can I increase both by 1% tomorrow? That is only one more sentence and a couple more pages. If I contacted 6 prospects tomorrow could I contact 7 and then 8 and then 9 or ten a day, by the end of this week. Are we afraid of capacity or is capacity a synonym for fear? Fear erodes capacity; fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of success, fear of commitment, fear of accountability. Let me offer this assurance if you try to improve you will fail, the outcome is uncertain, you may be asked to do more, you won’t have the same excuses, and you will improve (probably not all on the same day but maybe).

What if your potentials and mine are infinite? Well, not technically infinite but so much greater than we are reaching as to seem unlimited. Do you have enough desire and drive to move your needle 5% a week or even 5% a month? What activities and projects are you working on? How could you apply a metric and the set a 5% improvement target? Let’s pretend that you aren’t already walking your 10000 steps a day, like we have been convinced that we should be doing or that you aren’t drinking 64oz of water every day. Improving on these might go hand in hand. If you are walking 6000 steps and drinking 4 glasses of water already you might be able to add 60 steps and an additional 4 oz tomorrow and then repeat and repeat and repeat until you can check the box. Sometime next week you would be up to your 8-8ounce glasses and be pounding out 6500 to 7000 steps. Within a few weeks, you would have increased your capacity and reached the goal through habitual, committed improvement. (Be sure to consult your medical advisors before undertaking any new strenuous activity that could exacerbate an existing condition)

Technology can be a great tool to help remind, prod, coach, and hold accountable our improvement goals and serve as a record of the achievements. I use Duolingo to both encourage and prompt me to continue with my French lessons. Curious.com keeps me learning across an array of subjects by sending an email and then suggesting additional lessons. Noom counts my steps and my TomTom calculates my distances and 5X5StrongLifts coaches me in weight training and kicks my butt when I don’t. In my coaching practice, I act as all of those to my clients and hold them accountable to both the goals and schedules that they have created.

The 1% better every day is credited to Kaizen and in modern terms, this might be the impetus but our neolithic ancestors improved on a daily basis or face dire consequences. Their increase in all kinds of capacity leads us to today where the urgency to improve isn’t as pressing as it was once was. If I don’t learn to conjugate the verb avoir or do 5 sets of bench press and overheads, I probably won’t be eaten by a predator. Where fear once compelled us it now seems to fear detours and derails us from moving forward. The motivation is more intrinsic and inspirational rather than pragmatic survival.
My simple and simplistic analysis would then suggest that capacity is up to me. If I want to improve my fitness, my health, my financial resources, my relationships then it is up to me to participate in the work at the least and design and command at the most. The same is likely true for all of us.

B

Original Thought · Sharing Economy · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Futility

Scale is a terrible metric for excellence. In all the cases I have considered, scalability is a detriment to excellence. Scale reduces the offering to the lowest denominator and celebrates repeatability. Scalability creates mediocrity. When we strive to be everything to everyone or to solve a condition with a grand one-size-fits-all application, we reduce the possibilities to a very narrow band of acceptable options.

absurd

When the Canadian Federal Government attempts to solve senior’s social isolation at a population level, they throw resources, time, and energy at a national program that eventually offers so little inclusion as to be useless. Social inclusion is a local issue, a community problem that requires a neighbour to neighbour solution. I know the boogeyman known as equality will raise his head and shout; “that’s not fair, some will be taken care of very well and some will be neglected. Some will be invited to share Thanksgiving and some will be at home alone.” He is likely tight but isn’t solving a problem for one individual better than solving for none?

The public and charitable sector have created myths and swallowed lies that enshrine mediocre scale over impactful equity. Both sectors have needed to give birth to an enormous bureaucracy that is at once, expensive, ineffective and inefficient. Scale in the public sector relies on grandiose solutions to small problems rather than addressing social change that is necessary to find our way out of the self-perpetuating mess. If they find a way to house one individual who has been street entrenched for years and help her find gainful employment so she can sustain herself or nearly sustain herself, isn’t that a success? Why do we need to create a universal (unexceptional) global program if a local initiative would provide a community-directed (and different from a neighbouring community) service?

The for-profit sector isn’t immune to mediocrity caused by scale. The reason may be more selfish and nefarious; shareholder value and profit, but in the end we never see the best product or service because it needs to be deliverable in Afghanistan and Alabama simultaneously. The made-in movement of artisans, guilds, growers, and artists bring a refreshing, unique product and service to friends, family, associates, acquaintances, and a small loyal following. Each item is different from the next, often designed in response to a specific request or an individual need or preference. Utility, individuality, and beauty are allowed and encouraged.

I can almost hear the hew and cry as I type these words. ” Yes, but what about …” followed loudly by ” cost”, or ” economy”, or “markets”. For many years I believed the myth of a free market and that if it was good for business it was great for the community. I think that at one time, when we had a local tailor, a local grocer, a milkman, one accountant on the block this was, in fact, a true imagined reality. But as we have devolved into corporate megastores serving pablum to droids, the good that was once bestowed in the community is now delivered through corrupt public markets. Even the stock exchanges that were once a place for considered investment are now just vehicles pushing a dying theory to its eventual and inevitable collapse. People are not served by a corporate culture. We become servants to the machine that churns obsolescence and expects obedience to the powerful purchase promises. ” Buy the next crappy thing because it won’t last long (neither inventory nor functionality).

How can I escape the rolling thunder of messaging? The invasive tracks that are everywhere coaxing me to be better, but only if I buy a new dress, a new phone, a new drug, a new temporary icon are fleeting because there is a new and better crappy thing lurking around the corner with its own marketing plan. The cycle seems unnatural to my heart and my head thinks that the perpetual Ponzi of feeding the beast can’t last.

Can I get off the train at Neighbourhood Station and still live in the world? Can I think local, act local, shop local, give local and still contribute to the global pot? I am hoping that I am up to the challenge. For me, the change that I desire (need?) will be a battle with an entrenched 20th C belief structure that until recently I believed had served me well. A redefinition of well, good, great are needed and my understanding of them will be mine. I am going to attempt a life scaled at the smallest functional level. If I am ready and capable of making a decision, then I should be the one to make it. If the family level is where it would be better made because of the impact the choice would have then the family should decide. The same is true for neighbourhoods, communities, cities. I am no longer convinced that we can make important local choices once we expand the range to provinces or states. It already feels like my health has improved and my stress has been reduced when I focus on those things that I can take immediate, relevant and concrete action on. For me, I need to be able to touch them, see them, walk to them for me to understand the issue or offer and have any hope of adding value.

What do you think?

B

Uncategorized

What are You Witnessing?

You are a witness to your own truths. They exist in your head and you get to choose whether to accept them, reject them, alter them. They do not dictate your words or actions but if you aren’t conscious of them, they will influence how you behave and interact with others. As I have allowed my prejudice towards specific positions to soften, I have released one set of ideas and felt them dissolve as my curiousity, compassion or conscience created a new frame to be considered. But, how do I reconcile the probability that my conclusions are wildly and widely different from someone/everyone else? Does the sum of my experiences shape or define how I construct certainty? It is likely if I am not diligent about my reflection and discernment, I will wade the confirmation bias creek and swim my way to a comfortable, possibly biased, conclusion.

When I am open to shaking things up and letting the ideas in my head, that I hold to be real, to evaporate and make space for new pathways to connect I might arrive at similar conclusions or may wander widely and wildly in another direction. Discovery rarely happens if I take the same journey on the same route so I will try to observe different twists and turns along the way.

Give it a try tomorrow morning and let some of your presumptions, assumptions, pronouncements, and postures to melt and make room for an adventure that is as yet unimagined.

B