Original Thought · Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Adventure

Life can be lived as a straight line, but why would we. The straight path begins at birth and ends at death and society suggests a certain prescribed direction and milestones. Following the recipe leads to accolades and improvising is met with criticism. Staying the course delivers routine, predictable, mediocre while stepping off the trail and seeking out a life, less conventional, brings adventure and unexpected opportunities and challenges. If you have read this far and can’t imagine why anyone would stray from the safety of the formula you have been following, you might want to click through to Facebook or Daily News where comfort is waiting.

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Well, welcome to my adventurous friends. One of the definitions for adventure on Urban Dictionary is; For some, it’s a new pair of underwear, a different route to work or a new pizza topping. For other’s it’s a life-threatening outdoor experience that makes life worth living. The experience usually involves loss of digits, limbs, friends or all of the above. Just to be clear, I am not counseling the loss of anything important. If you lose your breath for a moment, your confidence for a second, your sanity for a while, or your insecurity for a week, I would be thrilled.

An adventure has a beginning and probably has an ending even when we aren’t sure of the destination. For me, the start is a reflection and assessment of me. Where am I right now, what skills do I have and what do I want to learn are more important than what others might think. I try not to worry about how others may define it; if it feels like an adventure to me, it qualifies. While I strive to be unique, I recognize that there is very little new under the sun. I find inspiration and instruction (but not prescriptions) in the lives of those I admire. Whether reading history, fantasy or mystery I am tweaked by the choices and actions of protagonists and antagonists alike.I don’ want to be them or live their lives but there are elements that I steal and synthesize for my current journey. I am encouraged by characters, real and imagined, that are curious, courageous and caring. I am amazed by the distance they will go and the effort they will expend to learn. live and love. At the onset of all adventures, I feel some fear and the inertia is strong. I ask myself lots of why questions to free myself from the gravity of familiar. ” Why do I want to do this?” ” Why am I stalling?” ” Why can’t I take the first step?” ” Why do I need to take this uncertain path?” Before I venture too far, I wonder if there is someone to share the experience with and/or someone who will help shoulder the load. If yes, then I extend a transparent clear invitation to them and provide them with a schedule including a deadline to respond. As I go through life, I am also open to receiving requests to join. My tendency is to lean towards saying “yes” so I sometimes overcompensate away from the default. The collaboration serves to temper my exuberance and hopefully, a second, third or fourth set of eyes will see any real danger that I might ignore.

I don’t let the backup support network make decisions for me but I do heed their counsel. I have enough latitude to ensure that I will play free and easy enough to make numerous mistakes and learn numerous lessons along the way. I get to choose to do the unexpected along the way even if it is obvious that there is a ‘better’ way or maybe because I am not looking for the obvious better way.

In the end, when I reach the destination or when I am sure that I am not going to get there, I try to celebrate. Adventure allows for gratitude in both circumstances and if I am willing and patient it offers information and data that can change the approach in subsequent attempts or act as fodder to create another opportunity.

Seeking out adventurous in our daily life can be difficult and daunting. Starting with smaller challenges might not be worthy of someone writing a book or movie, but they can act as momentum for something bigger. Read an online blog or journal written by someone you disagree with and then take an issue or position that you ‘truly’ believe in and write 250 words debating your firmly held position. Try cooking something new. Google Icelandic recipes or Bolivian food and try creating one of the dishes. Take a child to a trampoline centre or mini golf course. Sign up for a fitness class at the Spin or Rowing facility. Drive a completely new route to somewhere that you regularly go. Leave your phone at home for one day. Apply for a new job, even if you aren’t looking. Apologize for something that you have neglected. Start a side gig. Create a business that you are passionate about (small scale) and figure out how you can deliver something of value and add some new money to your wallet.

This early list isn’t exhaustive or comprehensive but don’t let the list or your indecision stop you. Do something manageably adventerous, today and get ready for something bigger.

 

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Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Its Up to You (believe it or not)

Are you optimistic, pessimistic, neutralistic? Is the world abundant, scarce or three bears just right? Is your view of the world about how you perceive the truth, your disposition, and/or your experiences? I can find myself feeling ‘hell-in-a-handbasket’ like my father, my grandfather and I am sure on occasion my grandchildren or I can deliberately expect and demand a different perspective from myself and different results from the world. My tendencies are a matter of wiring and if I don’t want to continue wallowing in self-pity I can undertake to rewire my brain to observe the magic, beauty, and mystery alongside the tragedy, hatred and vitriol.

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For me, it begins with morning meditation. I use a guided application called “Simple Habits” and practice is the first activity I schedule after my feet hit the floor. It isn’t a spiritual exercise as much as a consciousness and mindfulness kick start. This morning’s meditation was about gratitude for discomfort and how the aches and pains I feel physically and emotionally are likely my body and brain attempting to protect me from additional harm. Without feeling the twinge in my left Achille’s tendon, I might run until something snaps. If I didn’t feel anxious, I might jump off the next cliff without some measure of investigation and reflection. If I didn’t feel regret for not saying something to a loved one in a time of trouble, I might become callous and distant.
I don’t have any chronic conditions that cause me distress do I am not sure how someone could feel grateful for that kind of infliction but I encourage you to take a moment to understand and appreciate your stress, aches, or anxiety. Don’t allow yourself to wallow in it and don’t just accept the situation if there are options to improve or dissipate them.

My tactics for reframing are ecological, entertaining, and explicit. If I want to change my patterns, thoughts or actions I need to be aware of the surroundings that I find myself in and the surroundings that fit with how I see the changed self I want to become. In order to be more grateful, I can’t be surrounded by ungrateful or selfish people. I need to be surrounded by light, love, and learning. I can’t continue doing the same things in the same places in the same way that brought me to the valley of distrust and disappointment. For the circumstances to change, I need to change my where and how and who. Escaping from stinking thinking is essential. It means that there are people in my life today that can’t be in my life tomorrow. There are places I need to stop going and actions that I must stop undertaking. We all have a preferred or imagined ecology that fulfills more of our aspirations and unfortunately, it won’t manifest itself. We need to seek it out through our actions.

I can be shallow and unfocused and unless the change process is fun, I know that I might retreat to the depths that I am trying to escape. Fun need not be onerous or expensive. Meeting with uplifting people for an activity, a meeting, a coffee, a walk will put a smile on my face even when or because the conversation is an adventure. I met with three friends this morning for ninety minutes and we ranged across the sublime and inane to the profound and debatable. We laughed, we shared, we disagreed and we hugged. We expressed our gratitude for each other and the time spent and booked another gathering for a month from now. I left inspired, thankful and challenged. The stimulus of camaraderie and conversation caused neurons to fire against my hippocampus and began nurturing new pathways.

My final tactic; explicit is really an e word for intentional. ( I love alliteration so much that I always trying to catch it in my lists – ecological, entertaining, and explicit). In my worldview, nothing happens organically. Or nothing will predictably happen without intention. I must invest my resources and time in creating a V2.0 or V11.5 of me and I need to be vested in the outcome.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” ~ Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Make Today Remarkable, by choice,

Bob

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Original Thought · Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Wow

Where is your wow? When are you wowed? In all the inequity of our world, we all have a special something that we can do to make others think and say ‘wow’. A great smile, a gentle touch, a kind word can lift others up. Remarkable service to clients and customers, inspirational writing to an audience (large or small), and demonstrated caring for family or friends would be wowing. Can you make the best cheese biscuits, paint an uplifting canvas, or can you perform some amazing or unusual physical feat? Have you considered how you can wow others and are you setting out every day to do just that? If you commit to being the sparkle in someone else’s day, I guarantee that you will find many times throughout your day that someone will intentionally do something that has you saying “wow.”

This isn’t mystical, karma, spiritual but rather it is practical. When I am genuinely interested in uplifting someone else, I give off vibes, aura, permission for others to choose me (rather than some grumpy, unreasonable customer) as the beneficiary of their goodwill. It is just easier to be nice to nice people. I don’t apologize for recognizing the connection and have decided to invest my time, my resources, my gifts and myself in the company of pleasant folks. I have tried to be the wower for complainers, naysayers, and nothing is ever good-enoughers but it is too exhausting, and I get dragged to their level and find myself nitpicking, whining and underappreciating.

Most days, my wow resides in an ability to gather disparate ideas and synthesize their essences into the big picture. The big picture isn’t always what everyone else is hoping for, expecting to see, or are happy hearing. The wow doesn’t have an exclamation point after it as in ” Wow! That is remarkable.” but more like “wow, that wasn’t what I imagined would happen.” I can elicit the former, but with my disposition and tendencies, it is probably insincere and unsatisfying. Your way of creating wow and hearing will be different from mine (as it should be) but can be equally inspiring and valuable. When I hear ” I didn’t like hearing what you had to say about the project but it was something we all needed to hear,” I take it as an acknowledgment of the contribution and my ego hears it as a compliment.

Today, I said “wow” to a colleague when they presented an analysis complete with spreadsheets and decision trees. The response wasn’t because of the work and due diligence but because we both know that this work required hard work that doesn’t come easily for him. The three letters put a smile on his face and inflated his chest more than anything I have shared with him over the last three years. ” I really appreciate that!” was inspiring for both of us.

Wow, can come in the unexpected, the unneeded, and the unappreciated. Wow can be delivered without being acknowledged but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t remembered. A door held open, a smile, a pay-it-forward coffee that is consciously and intentionally delivered doesn’t evaporate into the ether. It lives on through moments and people and can arrive in unimagined moments to raise your spirits, boost your confidence and offer encouragement.

Make Today Remarkable, by giving your best and biggest wows,

B

Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Transitions

Do transitions maker you anxious? Do you have trouble moving from one activity or environment to another? Do you prefer to stay home after a busy day and long commute rather than going out on the town? Even when I am in control of the circumstances, I still need to self-motivate and self-regulate in times when I need to transition from a comfortable situation to an unknown opportunity.

Imagine how anxious you might be if you weren’t in control and didn’t have a voice in where you were expected to go next. Predictability is a strategy that many employers use but that level of familiarity breeds contempt and boredom. A better approach would be to design respectful, productive, shifts from one approach, assignment, or expectation to something different.

Today I witnessed anxiety, pain and discomfort from an employee who is living with uncertainty and anxiety about where and what they need to be undertaking in the next phase of their employment. I also saw a small child fall to the ground and flail and scream when it was time to go home.

Whether working with a team or shepherding a family these 6 tactics should be part of the plan.

1. Don’t undermine, deride or deny the feelings that are being experienced, even if you don’t feel the same way or understand how someone else might be feeling. observe the body signals and listen to their words with openness and curiosity. Acknowledge the feelings and encourage everyone to safely express their concerns. It may feel that being a command and control leader or parent would be more effective and productive and it may be in the shorter term but the anxiety, emotional upheaval and health challenges this can cause will be more costly in the long run. Be the type of leader who leads with consistency, compassion and care will give you real authority and license to hold high expectations and be respected for helping them through the awkwardness rather than pushing them into a chasm.

2. Offer a clear, brief explanation as to why the change is needed. ” I understand that you are busy calling all our accounts receivable but I need a weekly sales report to give to the president” ” I can see that you would like to stay at the park but we need to leave in five minutes so that we can get home to start supper before mommy gets off work. She is working very hard and will be very hungry. Can you help me make supper?

3. Even in moments of anxiousness and distress don’t behaviour that is unacceptable or for expectations to be lessened. It may seem counterintuitive and callous but in stressful situations and transitions, consistency is more than ever.

4. Be generous with gratitude and judicious with praise. They need to know that their efforts are appreciated but lavishing too many accolades creates neediness.

5. Be patient. Be patient with the people and the process. Let reality sink in and leave time for reflection and understanding. Through our patience and trust, we give employees and others that we support a safe place to air their concerns, acknowledge that they are heard and still lead them through the rocky change.

6. The hardest thing to practice when faced with resistance, is determination. Don’t backtrack, don’t concede, don’t surrender or your leadership/parenting will become suspect.

This isn’t a silver bullet that will work in every situation (nothing is) but if you follow these steps and master the listening and negotiation skills that go along with them, you will have fewer tantrums, rebellions or productivity drops.

There’s a little bit of pain in every transition, but we can’t let that stop us from making it. If we did, we’d never make any progress at all. ~ Phil Schiller

Make Today Remarkable by leading rather than pushing,

Bob

Original Thought · Self Improvement

Arrogant

Over the past month, I have been accused of being arrogant on at least four occasions. The accusers didn’t say I was arrogant but that what I was saying was arrogant. According to Meriam Webster’s definition of arrogant;

1 : exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner an arrogant official
2 : showing an offensive attitude of superiority : proceeding from or characterized by arrogance an arrogant reply

I concede that what I said was controversial and worded in a way as to provoke debate but the only dog I have in the race is my opinion. I didn’t exaggerate or express superiority in my position even knowing that the people I was talking with held, a strong polar position. Am I responsible for how my views make you feel about yours? Can I express a differing proposition and allow you to express yours without delving into accusations of assumptive presumption?

If I state, as I did, that “I have easily and comfortably moved from an agnostic to an atheist”, which carries with it a challenge to understand am I pretentious? In these cases, I am sure that if I had said ” I am a follower of Christ”, these individuals may have seen pious sensibility rather than arrogance. Are superiority and inferiority built into differing opinions? I recognize that I see confidence in some leaders, who I share some agreement, while other people that I know look for high-handed pompousness. If I disagree with a policy, I can view the politician as mean-spirited while a supporter sees practicality.
Are my monikers and labels just laziness and laxness? Do I choose mean-spirited for its impact? Should pompous, haughty, proud, insolent, overbearing and arrogant be saved for circumstances that warrant their definition? Have I resorted to a logical fallacy when I create a straw man by invoking a fascist or pervert label when the words or behavior that I am critical of is neither? Did I get a taste of my own exaggerated medicine?
When I make a comparison between two things that share some characteristics, I need to be careful that the analogy only stretches to the common ground. When I am tempted to make a point by extending a ‘guilt-by-association’ inference I need to step back onside. I hold some strong views on equity, social justice and economy that are shared by people that I find detestable. Does that mean that I am detestable too?

Are the phenomena new or have we been shortcutting and caricaturing for centuries? My sense of awareness around the behavior is heightened, and I would like to blame it on the models we see from world leaders in government, business, and charity. But I am not sure that is a valid assessment. I have found examples of biting political satire from the 15th Century, so maybe this can’t be blamed on President Trump, Prime Minister May, Kim Jong-un, Silvio Berlusconi or Robert Mugabe.

Changing how speechwriters, editors, journalists, and pundits choose to describe ‘the other’ is outside my span of control. I can take everything with a pinch of salt, and I can consider how I choose my descriptors and match my intent to my words. That still leaves me a lot of latitudes and obviously, I can ignore the stated intent and be rancorous and obnoxious, but maybe this will force me to acknowledge my intent and accept responsibility. As in many things that I think and write about, this is easy to say and harder to do.

I keep learning, adapting, improving, faltering and getting excited, disappointed, confused but it id the only way I know I am alive.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Football

Sports metaphors lack grace, but I will begin the year with one that those who are fans (casual or rabid) of North American Football. You have just been given a fresh set of downs – what are you going to do with them? If you are a Canadian, you have three new opportunities to move the ball to a new marker at least 10 yards away. If you live in the United States, you get four attempts.

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You can run, pass, handoff, lateral, fake, pound straight ahead or use finesse. The choice is yours and will be dictated by your comfort with risk, your flair, and how easily you make decisions. The clock is running and time doesn’t stop often. What you do first will impact how close you are to the next goal, and the results of the first try will influence the second, third, and fourth. There is a bit of pressure but being in the game means that you need to be willing, if not ready, to play.

I am a fan of some razzle-dazzle and appreciate daring offense. The sum of my experience and acquired tendencies would have me throwing down the field on all three attempts on the first series. A new game has started today, and if I take a risk and I fail, there is still time to learn from the results and adapt my game plan. If I complete a throw and score, I will take that information and refine my expectations for the next opportunity that I get. In football, you can create additional opportunities to play offense by playing strong defense and stopping your opponent from scoring. I can’t make stretch my metaphor that far, in life, without adding aggressive competition. I don’t believe that when someone else succeeds, I lose (except in game theory and practice). I favor a more collaborative approach. In this time, in this place, with these people, we should be expecting remarkable results. If we all pull together and apply our energy, intellect, and determination to any problem, I am confident that together, we can find an as yet unimagined approach and solution.

That doesn’t mean that we acquiesce. We should be ready to respectfully defend our position and to challenge the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of others. If I do that right, I allow my curiosity to observe, reflect and adapt to new and shifting information and circumstances.

While I am part of many teams and I appreciate the skills and dispositions of others, I need to be the quarterback of my own life. In those situations where the circumstances are fully within my control, and the impact won’t adversely harm those around me, I can/must make my own choices. If I am not observing, reflecting and adapting my own life someone else will be dictating every how, where, when, and who.
My health and happiness depend on my acceptance of and responsibility for the autonomy. I am also accountable for the results that my choices deliver. When they are as good or better than expected, I should celebrate. (Not with some ridiculous touchdown dance but with a moment to acknowledge to myself the accomplishment). When the results are less than expected, I should learn from the moment. What variables didn’t I consider? Do I need additional skills, training or coaching? Is there a nuanced approach that I should try next or do I need to rethink the plan? The key to success is observe, reflect, adapt, and try again. Even when I succeed I can look for ways to add value to the choice and then watch to see if there was an improvement. A 1% increase (whatever that means) for even half my attempts could mean a significant difference after 100 tries.

Some days, my instincts, my intuition, and my experience will tell me that today’s conditions would be better served by running north-south and on other days I might recognize that a series short passes will be a better strategy. There isn’t a magic bullet or elixir or formula that is a one-size-fits every situation, but if we wake up determined to play the game and are aware of the current situation, we can draw from our growing playbook and attempt something we never dreamed possible. When we falter, fall and fail, we will pick ourselves up off the field, check for bruises and then call another play. Being in the game is more rewarding and fun than sitting on the sidelines so as you finish reading today’s post, get up and run a few plays.

Make today and every day remarkable,

B

Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

December 30, 2017

Are our best days behind us? Or do you see a promising future? Either way, it is mostly perspective. If I look back wistfully to a better time when I was happier, smarter, taller, thinner, fitter … the view is tainted with nostalgic naivety. I remember the best of times in the past and have conveniently forgotten any discomfort, stress or anxiety. Troubles seem to have melted away, and I see only the high points. This is probably a healthy outlook (back look) because there is very little that can be done to change yesterday and if we narrowed our perspective on the negative, we would find ourselves swimming in the same pool of despair and discomfort. Beginning the next adventure with that cloud hanging in the rear window can suck the enthusiasm and possibilities out of the journey.
When we look forward to moving forward and anticipate remarkable opportunities, we are most likely to be attentive and observant, so we see them as they appear. (they don’t really appear, we create them by intentionally doing those things that are necessary, but if we aren’t looking for them, we pass them by).

As I tear another page off the calendar and hang a new set of pages on the wall, I am aware of a couple of potential projects and need to continue to cultivate relationships and knowledge so I will be involved. I have committed to five daily actions that lead to my five 2018 goals, but none of them will happen unless I am diligent and intentionally habitual. Completing five new tasks every day (none of which are directly related to the work that I do) requires me to change my morning routine and move some current practices to other times or eliminate them from my priority list. I have spent years learning about my disposition and tendencies and recognize that if I don’t apply rigor, accountability, and positivity to my priorities, I am prone to self-sabotage and excuse making. 2018 is the “Year of No Excuses”. I can accept that there are reasons within my control and much that is outside my influence that can and will impact my progress but those reasons can not become excuses for not continuing, for not overcoming and for not finding a different approach. My self-examination and reflection over the past five years have verified that I am ‘destined’ to doing great things when I am prepared for, confident in and hopeful about all my tomorrows, whether I can see them from where I am standing or not.
If you haven’t taken time and exerted energy in examining your life so far, your conditioned practices, and your desires for the upcoming trip around the sun, I encourage you to block a couple of hours today, tomorrow and Monday to reflect, write, plan and ready yourself for the “Year of No Excuses”. Some helpful starting points for your reflection and planning might be in these questions.

1. What action, project or assignment from 2017 are you the proudest to have been involved with?
2. Why does this action, project or assignment from 2017 make you proud?
3. Are there similar, associated or ancillary projects that could be part of your 2018?

4. What work did you undertake in 2017 to improve your physical, emotional and mental health?
5. What resources; people, material, practices were helpful in the improvement?
6. How can you jumpstart the next level of physical, emotional and mental health improvement?

7. Who was your most important relationship in 2017? Do they know how important they are to you? Did you add value to their life in 2017?
8. Did you neglect relationships in 2017 by being too busy to connect? Can you change the situation?
9. Are there people in your life that drain your wellbeing? Do they know how they impact you?

10. What three desires/goals do you have for 2018? How will you feel on December 31, 2108, when you celebrate that you have achieved them?

If you haven’t taken time yet to answer questions like this and can’t/won’t make time to respond over the next three days, don’t throw your hands up in frustration. It is always better to start late than not at all. If you need a kickstart, we can provide you with a Q1 coaching program with an hour session every week until March 31, 2018. We can help you work through these questions and other exercises that will help you with accountability to those things that are important to you. You can join us in the “Year of No Excuses” and make the next 8760 hours the best so far.

Make this year remarkable,

Bob