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

Geometry is Wrong

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line or so my high school geometry teacher convinced me. A  to B shouldn’t run through C,D or R. As the crow flies will get you there in less time, if you could actually fly and if crows were plain geometry wizards. I do understand that the Pythagorean theorem shows that the diagonal is shorter than going round the block (so to speak). But what if shortest distance, fastest time, or least effort isn’t the metric we should be striving to meet? What if honouring curiosity, lifelong learning, answering wicked questions and exploring life were the expectation, would A to B still make sense?
Is this the same sentiment that leads us to confusion between urgent and important?
Do you respond to urgency with a goal of short circuiting the immediacy? When you get a call or a text from a customer, a client or a colleague with ” we need to talk, right now” as either the tacit or implied message,do you put everything else aside and connect with them? Even if what you are doing or working on is important to you and you are in an important flow state towards important goals? If you answered “yes. Of course” you may have an issue that will eventually consume you and your quest for creating meaning.
A healthier response and one that allows for the foundation of boundaries might be ” I appreciate your call, I am working on an important assignment at the moment. Can we schedule time in 3 hours (or tomorrow)? Is there something I can prepare for before we connect?” Creating a respectful boundary and acknowledging your respect for their needs/concerns should be enough of a response. If they get ‘huffy’ or excessively demanding, it may be time to reframe or disengage from the relationship. If you understand that shortest distance only measures expediency rather than innovation, creativity, productivity, and doesn’t allow for as yet unimagined possibilities to bubble up.
On the days that I take a moment to meander, I see differently and find new insights that inform the assignment differently. I get to test a different path and even when it doesn’t lead anywhere that I can justify, it isn’t a wasted effort.
It takes courage to be an adventurer, checking out trails and backwoods, but a single minded focus on black and white, linear highways regardless of how fast it gets you there or how many others are using the same path only creates more of what you already have.
If you have been the person at the other end of the conversation above – the instigator of urgency. Stop it. Be respectful. Honour boundaries. Explore less ‘efficient’ paths.

Make Today Remarkable,  by meandering towards an adventure,
B

What is Your Urgenda

I know, I just made up another word but I hope that it prompts you to consider how your are spending your time. By combining urgent with agenda I want you to consider if you are only reacting in the moment rather than attempting to follow your ‘plan’.  Plan is in ” because as readers here know I believe that in our ever changing world plans can’t be rigid do I guess I’m asking are you following your flexible life agenda to your preferred future?

Yesterday, I needed to remind myself that the urgency I was feeling needed to be examined and found that I was reacting to the reasonable expectations of someone else. Their expectations (demands) were reasonable for them to reach their shot term goal but unreasonable for me because it took me off my change agenda and pulled me away to do something that wasn’t important (to my goals).

I am not sure how we deal with these external challenges or the internal procrastination voices that create false urgency when we should be focused but examining the moment is worthwhile. Yesterday, I was able to say ” I am working on something else right now but will make time after 3 to take a look at your request”. They were a bit surprised that I didn’t jump to their request but seemed to accept my response.  I then turned on Pomodoro and did four 25/5 sessions that quieted the voice of delay and guilt in my head. I got a lot accomplished and then returned to respond to the urgenda of someone else.

Make Today Remarkable by recognizing what is important,

B

Clear Your Head

The idiom “clear your head” usually means relax so you can think clearly. This morning on my run, I realized that my head was crammed with schedules, appointments, problems, worries, opportunities, crazy ideas, unspoken concerns … Crammed full and it weighed on my shoulders and back. I started tossing them by the side of the path. One at a time they were examined and discarded, with either complete faith that they would find their way back into my head/heart, if important or would lay abandoned if they weren’t.

distraction

I lost track of time and distance but surrendered to the process and gave up holding on tightly. I could feel my mind uncramping and tension melting. There were moments of anxiousness as I flicked things into the grass that I worried I wouldn’t recall and then I flipped the worry onto the other side. Some challenges leaped off me of their own accord and piles of concerns spilled out as I turned at about the mid way point.

I ended up at home energized and relaxed. Paradoxically, I feel ready to take on a new today and a bunch of tomorrows.

 

Make Today Remarkable, by finding a way to clear your mind,

 

B

Is Busy an Excuse?

When asked “how are you doing?” do you respond with something like ” Good, busy but good.”?  What does that mean? Is it a ‘pat’ answer? What are you busy at?  It seems busy is laudable. Busy is respected. Busy is expected? But is busy meaningful, productive or healthy?

What would happen if you change the response? What if you said ” Good question. Let me think about that.” ” I am really enjoying my time at work and feeling like we are accomplishing all our goals. I get to spend time with family and friends and much needed time alone. My health is good and I am in a great place emotionally.” Too much? Maybe, but certainly more meaningful than ‘busy’.

busy

My confession is that I don’t feel busy. I don’t strive to feel busy. I love the pace that I am able to live life at. Am I missing anything? Likely, but in this moment I get to treasure the blessings and look forward to opportunities. Will I regret not being busier? I doubt it, when my time comes I hope there aren’t any regrets.

Can you become un-busy? Easy to say, harder to do. In this case(maybe in most cases) saying it is the beginning. Try not saying the B word for a week and see what unfolds itself. Observe where your priorities shift. Is watching another reality tv program or checking Facebook again still as urgent? Did you find time to get important stuff done and find time for you to enjoy the blessings in your life?

Make this week remarkably un-busy,

B

 

Coaching Can Make You Remarkable

Pioneered and developed by Marilyn Atkinson, PhD, Solution-Focused Coaching is an advanced coaching model that integrates the profession of coaching with a highly developed body of personal growth technologies. Developed over the past 30 years, it provides a comprehensive approach that assists individuals, managers and teams to take action in alignment with their highest individual and corporate vision. Solution Focused personal or business coach, does what a good sports coach, an acting trainer, or a writing teacher does, but with systemic clarity of focus. A Remarkable Coach, will challenge you and help to clarify what you want, and takes the time to find out what winning in life means to you. A Remarkable Coach is a partner in first clarifying your vision and the steps to get there, and then inspiring you to your next level of personal excellence. Through coaching you can discover the life you know as deepest aim; a life of development and accomplishment, both personally and professionally.

A coach will encourage, prompt, provoke and sponsor you towards the ownership of skill-sets that encourage and support your increased creativity, productiveness and effectiveness.

We all face doubts, barriers, personal scripts that slow or even halt our progress. People with high aspirations, move past these ‘gremlins’ through simply partnering with a Remarkable Coach.  Athletes, high achievers, musicians, writers, skilled actors know they get best results with a coach who can help them review aims, set directions, clarify and specify steps.  Their attention can then become relaxed around their ultimate direction towards excellence.  When they commit themselves to work with a personal coach they learn how to focus on their long-range ability sets. A serious performer or serious player in the realm of competitive sports or music would not expect to progress very far without a strong alliance with a good coach.

Contact bob@remarkablepeople.ca for information on a complementary one hour skype coaching session.

Completion

What are you deeply devoted to completing today? On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being completely committed, where are you? If you aren’t at 10 what will it take to get to 10?

Is there something that you have been putting off, procrastinating about, but needs your utmost attention?
We all make lists (at least I imagine everyone else does too) and then cherry pick the easy stuff and transfer the frogs to tomorrow’s list. Take a look at your list for today (or make a list) and rank your commitment 1-10 for each item. Now tackle the biggest challenge first. Whatever you need to do to make this assignment your priority; remove obstacles, write the first line, run the first 500 meters, pick up supplies or whatever excuse you are using should be bitten off.

One of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s most famous quotes ends ” Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now” While inspirational it isn’t all that helpful.
I think the beginning of the passage “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 favor 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.” makes sense of the begin it now challenge.

That is why your commitment needs to be 10/10, so hesitancy doesn’t wrap its warm blanket around your shoulders. It isn’t quite as simple as saying you are completely (10/10) committed but almost. Accountability and practice will improve execution to 100% over a very short time. Holding yourself accountable -good or having someone hold you to account – better will make your statement a self fulfilling prophecy. Not stating your firm deeply held conviction can fulfill a different and dangerous self perpetuating prophecy.

Make Today Remarkable by committing completely.

How do You add Value?

Are you an adder or a subtracter? Most of us add and subtract value every day. At the end of the day, what is your +/- rating? Are you giving excellence to your work, relationships and self?

Having a net positive day, week, life doesn’t happen by accident. It requires intention and action that is pointed to creating value. It requires persistence in the face of convenience. It requires character.

Just being aware that all our choices and actions have consequences, good or bad,  is a great first step. You can make a difference. Your decisions change you, change your relationships, change your relationships and change your world.

I am intentionally trying to be healthier. When I run, workout, play sports, walk, resist temptations I am taking positive steps toward living healthier. As I work to get healthier, others see my efforts. My relationship with my beloved, my kids, my family, my friends is improved when I feel better. My community doesn’t need to have space, resources or energy to devote to my care and can direct it where it is needed most. When I go to the gym today, eat more fruits and vegetables, moderate my vices I can add these to the positive side of my ledger.

When a client requests my services and I don’t do my best, I subtract. When one of my grandkids needs a receptive ear and I am there – I add. When I don’t react to being delayed in traffic or angrily curse at being cutoff – I add.

Are you up to a challenge? Would you observe as many of your intentions and actions as you can for the next 7 days and record whether they are positive or negative. Will you try to add value and excellence in every situation, for just the next 168 hours? If you are up to it, I would appreciate (and I am sure other readers would too) if you would comment on this post or associated tweet with #value and your total?

Make Today Remarkable. Make adding value your problem.

Fight the Gravity of Mediocrity

Sometimes it feels like my world is spinning out of control. Busyness captures me and I resort to tried and true rituals rather than exploring remarkable opportunities. In this place, in this time, with these people we should expect miracles but often seemed mired in mediocrity quicksand. Multitasking my way to bounded rationality where “I have too much to do” has been my refrain and excuse for not shipping my very best. My best intentions don’t seem to produce my best work. Only when I focus and deepen my efforts do I see the quality and results I am known to achieve.

Practice makes perfect – not likely. Poor practice delivers poor results.

My battle with mediocrity is the same one I have with procrastination. My important priorities don’t receive attention because I can always create something urgent (often more fun or easier) that looks important. The gravity pulls me to do something else, almost anything else – the laundry, checking Facebook, … When I set priorities for each day (I started with 3) and don’t just tick boxes but rather complete them deeply, fully and to the best of my ability, I celebrate.

Mark Twain said ‘Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.’ I try get the most difficult task done first and when I succeed the Twain adage is true. I can feel myself pulling away from mediocrity towards miraculous. I feel better, lighter, readier. I am strengthened by the effort. After years of practice, this hasn’t become habitual and I need to remain vigilant or mediocrity invites me back.

Remarkable people use their strengths to strengthen themselves and others. When I am mired in the quicksand, up to my knees in  averageness, I am not strong. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I am committed to being strengthened and breaking away from the pull. How about you, what miracle could you create in three days?

 

Make Today, Tomorrow and the Next Remarkable,

 

Bob

Edit – just received notice that the master of productivity David Allen is hosting GTD Fundamentals next month for those who are serious about getting out of the quicksand.

frogs