Your Most Valuable Asset

Your biggest happiness will come from knowing you’ve lived your potential in all areas of life.

But how do you live your potential?  Just the word potential refers to something that is always beyond where you currently are.

It’s a balance.

I want to be doing today what was my potential yesterday.  Not matter how small the shift, I want to be always gaining greater levels of my potential.

The biggest moves towards reaching potential come from being stretched.  The bigger the stretch, the bigger the personal growth.

Sometimes you get stretched beyond breaking point.  Then you have the task of putting yourself back together.  Getting stretched also means going beyond your comfort zone and dealing with the uncertainty that goes with that process.  Getting stretched often means having more questions than answers.  It may also mean having to deal with the loss of things you wanted, or thought you wanted and then having to deal with the challenge of understanding why you thought you wanted them.

Throughout all of it, you get an opportunity to grow; to reach your potential.  The person that you become in the process is your most valuable asset. Continue reading

My most valuable resource

My most valuable resource is energy.  I used to say it was time.  When I discovered that energy was my most precious resource it became glaringly obvious.  Yes, my time very important.  Once it’s spent, it’s spent and I’ll never get it back.

My energy is more important than my time because it is the most influential factor on how my time is spent.

When I look at the achievements of people I admire, they all have at least one thing in common; they all have 24 hours in a day.  It’s how I spend my hours that determine what I achieve and, I repeat, how I spend my hours is influenced by my energy.

Energy issues in two forms: physical energy and emotional energy

So if I want to make the most of the limited time I have in this life, then managing both of these forms of energy is imperative.  The two forms of energy have an impact on each other too.  If I take steps to improve my physical energy, then my emotions move in a positive direction.  If I take steps to improve my emotional energy, then I’m more inspired and feel more in the mood for doing thing that will positively impact my physical energy.

With understanding all of this about energy, one of the most ironic things I hear in coaching is the reason why people don’t spend as much time tending to their physical and/or emotional energy as they say know they should… they don’t have time. Continue reading

Work-Life Balance

I often encounter questions like: What do I need to do to have more work-life balance?

More important than what you are DOING is who you are BEING and what thoughts you are taking with you wherever you go, whether it’s to work or somewhere else.

Many people’s thoughts include things like ‘if I worked fewer hours’, or ‘if I go get a massage when I’m stressed’, or ‘if I had some new piece of technology to assist me with time management’, or ‘if I had a nanny to help look after the children’, or [insert here whatever it is that you think you need] then they would have a great sense of work/life balance.

Having any or all of these things will make no difference if you don’t get your thoughts sorted; if you don’t get your thoughts working FOR you.

While discussing this with a client recently, I told her about a quote that profoundly changed my understanding of myself, my work, my goals and, as time went on, I also saw how it changed my concept of work/life balance… Continue reading

Some things aren’t meant to last

Last week I was speaking with a cherished friend who lives overseas.  I struggle to believe that it has been seven years since we’ve seen each other.  The memories of that time in my life are so vivid.  At a moment’s notice I can be right back there, feeling the uncertainty about the future while simultaneously enjoying the freedom and joy of that time, the international friends, karaoke, expanded awareness and the enchantment and curiosity of Japan.

In many ways, I’d run away from home.  I’m not the first person who packed up and moved to another country when life hit a major turning point; Elizabeth Gilbert crosses my mind.  I was feeling estranged from my sense of identity, I had very little idea about what I wanted to do with my future, and I carried with me a heart that was still feeling broken after the end of a relationship that was very special to me. Continue reading

The Power in the Gap

Between stimulus and response there is a gap.  The concept of the ‘gap’ keeps coming up in coaching sessions lately; it’s uncanny the way certain issue can keep reappearing like that.  So now I feel compelled to write about it.

Everything you do has a stimulus.  Even going to the fridge to get something to eat was likely stimulated by a message in your brain that your body is hungry for some energy, or maybe an advertisement that had you thinking about food.  For some people the stimulus is an emotional need and their usual response is to head to fridge/cupboard to grab something to eat.

The response can be very instinctual.  It can happen so automatically that the moment (the gap) between the stimulus and what you do in response isn’t even consciously registered.  This is what I encountered a lot of this week in coaching… people reacting so quickly to a feeling, or a comment, or a request (or perceived request) and on each of these occasions the response they gave wasn’t the most appropriate or the most useful.  It was just instinctual and habitual.

Not sure if you’ve been missing the gap?  If you are prone to doing a few or more of the following on more than a regular basis then it’s likely you’re practiced at ignoring the gap: Continue reading

The most useless emotions

Some emotions are just useless.  Probably the most useless of all emotions is: Wilt.

Yes, wilt.  And yes, I made that word up.  It’s a combination of the words ‘worry’ and ‘guilt’.  I’ve blended these two words because I view guilt and worry as the same emotion except for one key difference; one relates to the future and the other relates to the past.  Other than that, the two emotions are the same and equally useless.

That the blending of these two words results in the word wilt is just perfect.  The dictionary gives one of the definitions of the word wilt as:

To lose strength, vigor, assurance, etc;

Spend excessive amounts of time in guilt or worry and you will lose strength and assurance.  Doing wilt takes up a lot of energy.  Ask yourself: How much extra energy and time would I have if I didn’t spend energy and time on guilt/worry? Continue reading

Your Realm of Possibility

You have a realm of possibility.  Everything that you can imagine is possible for you is inside it.

Everything else… well, you can’t even imagine it yet.

I mean REALLY imagine it for yourself.  I speak with people regularly about the things they say they want for themselves.  This may include a different career, or a new relationship, or a better relationship with someone important to them, or more financial freedom, or [insert what you want here].  They can talk about what they want but I don’t have to dig very deep into their thoughts to find that what they want is actually outside of their realm of possibility.

And then there are the things that you have never really even imagined…

The evidence of that is it’s happened in the past.  You have things in your life now that, once upon a time, you never even imagined having them.  You have some ways of being that, in the past, you couldn’t even have imagined being.

You have people enter into your life that you never imagined.  And yet they appear and your life is changed forever.  You will be that person for someone else too. Continue reading

The car battery in my head

I had an interesting time this week with my car.  I’d moved into my new home and decided I need to go to the shops to get a few new things for the house.  So I got into the car, turned the key and nothing…

First thought that goes through my head: Thank goodness I wasn’t about to leave for an important event.  I don’t like being late.

When the Roadside Assistance person arrived and checked the car, it was diagnosed as having a flat battery.  This is often an easy problem to fix; you simply connect the flat car battery to a battery that has charge in it and then start the car.  Relatively simple (especially when the roadside assistance person turns up with all the necessary gear).

The next part was, interestingly, more of an inconvenience for me… I actually had to take the car for a long enough drive to recharge the battery with enough power that it would also start the next time I wanted to use it.  A five minute drive to the local shopping centre (which is what I had been planning to do) wasn’t going to cut it.  The time that would be required to drive a longer distance felt like an inconvenience.. Continue reading

Walking to Perspective

“All the truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

I think Nietzsche was right.  I’m a walker.  I feel the need to take time out every day for a walk.  Putting on my walking shoes is a way of plugging into the universe.  The movement of feet across the ground is such an integral part of the conversation and the awareness created of the world around me is a reminder of my connection to it.

The shift in perspective is instant at the commencement of a walk.  This is most true when walking for walking’s sake.  It’s often not the same when walking to get somewhere, like when I walk to the shops to get food.  The real magic happens in the walk that has no destination.  We get betrayed by destinations. Continue reading

Consciousness Versus Fate

Several times a year I run a training course on coaching skills.  At some point during the training I’ll say, “Ignorance is bliss.  I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement and… you don’t get to do that anymore.  If you’re not getting the results in your life that you want, you no longer get to blame others or circumstance for that.  You have to go inwards and do the work of taking on yourself.  It is not blissful, it’s work.”

The life of a coach, or someone wanting to design their life, is of walking the talk and high responsibility.   It’s an ongoing choice between being at cause in my life or being at effect (see this past article if you’re not sure what I mean by that).  It’s a constant exploration of the role I play in the results I get.  It is ongoing error-correction.  It’s a willingness to be vulnerable.

Over time, I’ve gotten better at it.  Sometimes I’m great it.  And other times I have… well let’s call them ‘incidences for growth and learning’.  I’d like to discuss such incidences like they were a while back in my past but the truth is it was only last week that I failed spectacularly.

By that I mean I broke virtually all my rules for taking responsibility, effective communication, assertiveness, managing my ego and creating meaningful relationships.  I let memories of negative past experiences play out in the present moment, was overrun by fear and subsequently sabotaged any chance of meaningful connection with the person I was communicating with at the time.  Hmm, I think I’m forgetting something.  Oh yes, I was also being completely stubborn and at least half conscious about all of it while it was happening!

Not my finest hour.

Continue reading

Don’t believe everything you think

When I look back on my life ten years ago, one of the comments that comes to mind is:  ’Wow, I really didn’t know anything back then’.

Of course I don’t mean that literally.  I had a tertiary education by then and I’d travelled across five different continents.  There were many of things I’d learnt, lots of life experiences I had and plenty of opportunities I’d taken advantage of.  And yet, I still look back at the person I was and many of the beliefs I had and think I really didn’t know that much back then.

Ironically, one the key differences between who I was then and who I am now is that, back then, I thought I knew everything.

Now, looking back ten years ago and realising how much I didn’t know, I also realise that ten years from now, I may well look back to 2013 and think ‘wow, I didn’t really know much back then’.  That thought is so humbling and very freeing. Continue reading

Your guarantees in life

There are a few guarantees in life.  One of them is that time passes.

Whatever you do, or don’t do in life, time is going to pass anyway.   This thought helped create a life that I love (though honestly, I think it was a bit of a fluke at the time).  One of the key turning points to getting to where I am today was going back to study.  Making the decision to do that wasn’t really easy.  One of the biggest limiting beliefs I had running in my mind was about the time that it was going to take to complete the study.  I calculated that if I studied part-time, it was going to take me six years to complete my degree.  “Six years!”  I thought.  And then, by some stroke of wisdom, it occurred to me…

The time is going to pass anyway.

In six years time, you’ll be six years older.  Guaranteed.  That left me with only one question:  Is six years time, are you going to have a completed degree or not?  When framing the question like that, the only answer for me to that question was ‘yes’.

Be very wary of letting go of your dream because of concern about the time it will take to accomplish it.  The time is going to pass anyway. Continue reading

My year of channelled energy

Happy New Year!

I’m feeling very excited about all the things I plan to create in my life in 2013.  Hence I spent most of January 1 ensuring my goals and targets for the year were clearly listed.  I’ll continue to work on it for the rest of this week (because I’ve created some big visions and I’m planning to add lots of pictures to help keep me inspired when the inevitable challenges arise) but the vision is well underway.

I’ve decided that my theme for 2013 is…

Channelled Energy

This would also include ‘channelled time’, ‘channelled money’ and ‘channelled attention’.

With so many things and people creating avenues for my energy, time, money and attention to travel down, it became clear to me as 2012 was drawing to and end that this next year I would need to clearly pre-decide where to direct these valuable resources.

One of the expected results of my planning will be faster decision making which will have a direct impact my most valuable resources.  Requests for my energy, time, money and attention will come up every day for the next 365 days.  Being very clear on my goals means that every time I get a request I will ask myself this question: Continue reading

The first step is probably smaller than you think

Wherever you want go in your life, you always get there in the same way… one step at a time.

I spoke in last week’s article about how common it is for people to get visionary and think about what they want for their life and then, almost as quickly as the vision had appeared, it gets shut it down by all the reasons why it won’t work and all that could go wrong if they make those changes in their life.

If you’re doing that, it’s because you’re focusing your energy too many steps down the path; you’re focusing the majority of your thoughts on steps twenty-five, twenty-six or twenty-seven, when you haven’t yet even taken the first step.  Sure, there is merit to considering the future (having a long term vision) and the consequences of your actions.  If you find though that thinking about the future and what could go wrong, or what if you fail, to the extent that you’re not even taking a first step, then it’s time to readjust your focus.

Focus on step 1.

And here’s the thing about step 1… It’s probably a smaller step than you think.  Step 1 might be tiny.  It doesn’t matter how small or tiny step 1 is (Step 1 is often as simple as making a phone call, or writing a list).  All that really matters is that you are facing forwards as you take that tiny step.

Let’s do some examples of first steps for goals for the New Year… Continue reading

The Christmas hamper you don’t want

Pic thanks to: http://www.squidoo.com/decorative-pillows-with-quotesIn last week’s article I invited readers to do a ‘pillow challenge’ in preparation for the New Year.  It was a series of thought provoking questions to ask at the very end of the day (or the beginning of the following day).  It’s a good time to ask thought provoking questions, when you’re not right in the middle of all the day-to-day happenings.  It’s when you’re much less likely to be acting on an impulse or reacting to something external.  It’s at those times when you’re likely to admit truths to yourself.

Throughout the day you say and do many things. Some are positive, some are trivial and some you may not be proud of. The things we’re not proud of we may find ourselves justifying.  At the end of the day though, I know.  I know the truth.  I will either know it in my thoughts.  I’d call that a conscious knowing.  Or I’ll know it in my feelings.  That’s an unconscious knowing when I believe I’m right or justified about something but I have negative feelings telling me otherwise.

Similarly, the end of the day is also a good time to get in touch with what you want for yourself. If you didn’t read last week’s article, or didn’t do the pillow challenge but now think you might like to, you can go to it here.

Particularly for those people who did the pillow challenge, I’m going to explore one of the questions in some more detail… Continue reading

Dealing with the inevitable boulder of resistance

It’s December again!?  The last article I wrote that had a December date on it was almost a year ago.  It was also the very first article I wrote for my website.  I’ve now sat down to write my 50th article and I’m reflecting on what an amazing, humbling, stressful and enlightening journey it has been for me…

It has been a very interesting balance between being alone and being part of a family.  By family, I refer to my readers.  And it is a family that has grown over the last 12 months, much to my joy and amazement.

When I write I sometimes feel alone.  Sometimes that is just the way I like it.  At other times I’m faced with a blank page, a blank mind and the voice of procrastination calling at me like an old friend.  It is resistance that I can reliably count on to keep me company for about the first half of every article.  I’ve described the process of writing for me number of times like pushing a giant boulder up and over a hill.  The first half is the sense of work and pushing through resistance.  Then as I get to about the half-way point and most of the words are down on the screen the resistance eases off.  Once the metaphorical boulder tips over the top of the hill it rolls down the other side.  And so the rest of the article is relatively easy.  To get to that point however, I must always first push the boulder up the hill.  Every week.  That has never changed since I began. Continue reading

Your but gets in the way of connection

To maintain a high level of connection with someone you’re in conversation with, get careful about when you use the word BUT.

I often write and speak about maintaining openness to views that are different from your own; to take on a stance of curiosity rather than judgement.  Getting careful about when you use the word ‘but’ is in line with my views of keeping an open mind.

The word ‘but’ is used to signify negation and to create contrast.  In terms of creating contrast and describing events, the word ‘but’ has a necessary place.  Take for example this sentence used by dictionary.com under the definition of ‘but’: She was so overcome with grief that she could do nothing but weep.  In this sentence, the word ‘but’ really emphasises how upset the woman was.

In everyday conversations the use of the word ‘but’ is pervasive.  It is a problem when in a conversation of differing opinions, particularly if you’re intention is to create a common view.  You may want to share your own views and and it may not be your intention to disregard the other persons opinion while you do that.  Given ‘but’ negates the sentence that came before it, and that the word is such a habit for many people, you may unwittingly be disregarding the other person’s opinion.

When it comes to conversations involving opposing opinions I suggest replacing the word ‘but’ with the word ‘and’.  The ‘and’ stance will assist you in maintaining openness and expressing respect for the other person’s opinions and ability to make decisions about their own circumstances while also expressing your own needs.

Let’s look at examples of how this could work… Continue reading

The gift you give yourself

I wrote in a recent article that every feeling is preceded by a thought.  Therefore, to feel better, create thoughts that lead to positive feelings. In this article I am going to tell you about one of my favourite strategies for creating positive thoughts.  I tend to use this one a lot simply because I find that it works.  The strategy is called ‘What else could this mean?’

Imagine a scenario in which someone has annoyed you.  Perhaps they have said something to you that left you feeling insulted, or you felt that they were questioning your integrity.  Or perhaps they had made plans with you to get together and then cancelled.  Or perhaps you did something for a friend that you felt you put a lot of effort into and you feel they didn’t show any appreciation.

There are so many different, possible scenarios for something that has annoyed you, and of course it’s different for everyone because what’s annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else, and vice-versa.  Whatever it was, if it has left you with a negative feeling (e.g. upset, unappreciated, angry, frustrated, alone) it is because you have attached a negative meaning to their behaviour.

To create positive feelings about something or someone that has left you with a negative feeling, practice asking yourself: Continue reading

Curiosity killed the judgement

Walt Whitman said, “Be curious, not judgmental.”

I don’t think it is possible to be without judgement.  Whether you think something positive or negative about something or someone, it’s a judgement.  The dictionary defines judgement as ‘the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind’.

Making judgements are a natural part of thinking and living.

Judgements are usually also at the root cause of issues such as:

  • Poor communication
  • Arguments
  • Unhappiness (either about a specific issue or in general)
  • Violence
  • Relationship breakdowns

So how can we continue making judgements while avoiding such issues? Continue reading

Going for the quick fix doesn’t make you lazy

Every feeling you experience is preceded by a thought.  Hence, feelings are symptomatic of the thoughts you are thinking.  Logically then, if you want to change your feelings about any situation, you need to work on changing your thoughts.

At least it sounds logical.  But if it is logical, then why is it that people often take measures that are really about treating the symptoms (their feelings about a situation) rather than treating the cause (their belief and thoughts about a situation)?

Are you treating symptoms rather than dealing with the causes of your feelings?  Let’s explore… Do you go shopping because it makes you feel better even though you don’t really have the money?  Do you drink more alcohol than you know you should (even if you know you end up regretting it the next day)?  Do you keep saying that you will quit smoking?  Do you find yourself regularly frustrated, angry or upset at another person for the results you have in your life?  Do you regularly set goals and then not follow through on them?  Do you regularly have fall outs with friends, family, colleagues and/or clients?  Do you keep eating poorly (even if you are overweight)?

The list goes on.  You likely see the theme in these scenarios.  Are any of these scenarios playing out in your life? Continue reading

The Fraud in Me

Ever felt like a fraud?  Maybe you’ve done something at work and wondered in disbelief how you manage to pull it off.  Maybe you think people overestimate your abilities.  Maybe you simply feel that the majority of people around you know more than you do.  Maybe most things you achieve go along with thoughts like ‘I hope I don’t get found out.’

In psychology, ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is the name given to the feeling experienced by people who appear confident but secretly feel like a fraud and have concerns about being found out.

The syndrome is not however officially recognised as a psychological disorder.  It makes sense to me that it wouldn’t because the condition sounds to me a lot like a case of ‘low self-belief’.  I see it all the time in coaching and I believe it’s something that everyone, to varying degrees, deals with. Continue reading

Outdated Map? No wonder you’re feeling lost!

Most people are living their lives with out-dated maps inside their heads, causing them all kinds of frustration.  By ‘map’ I’m referring to the internal representation of you have about your world and which you use to navigate it.

We all have a map inside our head about how the world works.  In any moment, whatever happens to you, or whatever you are doing, or whoever you are with, your decision about what to do next is made by first referring to your map.  It’s all done by the brain very fast and usually we’re quite unconscious about it happening in the moment.

In psychology, there is a concept called ‘schema’ that is related to the map I’m describing.  A schema is defined as:

A cognitive framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information.

Schemas (which are like the building blocks of your map) are really useful because they allow us to take shortcuts in interpreting the large amounts of sensory information we encounter in each moment.  Schemas allow us to avoiding having to think through every step of a decision process hundreds of times a day.

So your map and each of your schemas are absolutely necessary for functioning in life.  BUT your map can become a problem if it becomes out-dated and no longer relevant to your current life. Continue reading

Owing up to Cancer

I wrote an article about a month ago called ‘Better off almost dead?’  I explored the concept of the life half-lived due to avoiding change and how it’s possible to be better off if life throws you challenge that forces you to change.  I even suggested that it’s not hard to find stories about people who say that a life threat (such as cancer) was the best thing that ever happened to them because it forced them to get serious about what was important in life.

Since writing that article I learned that one of my very own clients at Integrity and Values went through that experience when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I asked Alison to be my very first guest writer so that others may learn from her wisdom the way that I have.  If you survive a life threat but learn some valuable lessons, the experience may have been worth it.  If you can learn those lessons from someone like Alison without having to go so close to the edge, even better…

Owing up to Cancer by Alison Bentley

There’s many a time that I’ve been afraid to own up that in 2004 I had an aggressive breast cancer diagnosed.

It’s been in the years following the completion of a year of treatment, that I found it unbearably painful to acknowledge. Yet there was a sense of something not quite right when I would tear up in moments of telling someone. Then in horror I would gulp it back and shut up.  I can see how I’ve been uptight for the last 8 years – hiding it.

So today and from here on, I own that I had cancer diagnosed and I’m so proud as I got to have the best year of my life and see myself as someone totally extraordinary.  I learned many valuable lessons and to not accept and share my experience is to waste what I learned. Continue reading

Would you speak to a friend like that?

William Blake said, “It’s easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”

Similar to the words of Blake, I’d say that it is easier to forgive a friend than it is to forgive yourself because a lack of self-forgiveness is something I often see, to varying degrees, in coaching.  These people are so hard on themselves.  The way they can get stuck into themselves is literally a form of self-abuse.

If you’re one of those people who speak abusively to yourself, then ask: If I saw someone talking so abusively to one of the people in my life that I really care about, how would I react?  The response is usually the same: ‘I wouldn’t like it and I probably wouldn’t tolerate it’.

For what reason do you allow yourself to be spoken to like that?

We tend not to tolerate abuse of others.  When the abuse is self-inflicted however, the boxing gloves are off.

The next best question to ask yourself when you’re doing a bit (or a lot) of self-abuse is:

What do I need to forgive myself for? Continue reading

What’s your payoff?

 

Everything we do in life, we do because we get something out of it.  Sometimes the things we get are logical and obvious.  For example:

 

  • If you go to work every day.  At a minimum you get money out of it.  If your work is fun, interesting and educational, you get those things too.
  • If you spend time with your children.  You feel loved.  You learn.  You gain a sense of contribution.
  • If you exercise every day, you feel better.  You look better.  You also maintain better health each time you put on your exercise gear and begin training.
  • If you study, you gain an education.

The list goes on.

Sometimes the payoff is not so obvious.  These are often the times when we have things, or experiences or people in lives that we say we don’t want, or that we believe create unhappiness or frustration for us.

Think carefully for a moment about something or someone in your life that you say you don’t want.  Then dare to ask the question… What do I get out of it?

What is my payoff?

Struggling to see what I mean?  Let’s explore possible scenarios… Continue reading