Rickety Bridge

Don’t Look Down…

We’ve seen this in the movies a million times, and maybe we’ve been in a situation or two in our lives where we’ve heard this:

DON’T LOOK DOWN…

If you’re not supposed to look down, where the *$#& are you supposed to look???

LOOK WHERE YOU’RE GOING!

Keep your eyes focused on your goal, and your mind focused on making the next step.

This thought came to me as I caught my mind running away from me this morning.  You see, I challenge myself as much as I challenge anyone I work with – to develop themselves, reach higher, get out of their (our?) comfort zones.

And this was one of those mornings where a few challenging areas of my own life started to percolate up to the surface.  I felt that fear inside… and heard that inner voice…

What if I can’t…

What if this doesn’t work out…

I have to figure this out, but I don’t see how…

I could feel tension in my body building up.

I meditated…..

One of my favorite Aikido instructors was Sugano Sense…He lost a foot to diabetes.  He returned to teach, and was more powerful than ever.  He described working through the loss as “an interesting challenge“.

I love thinking of that when I’m faced with something difficult…

IT’S AN INTERESTING CHALLENGE…

Meditating when your mind is running away from you is exactly that… it’s an interesting challenge.

A challenge is something I can deal with.  I’ll never back down from an interesting challenge.

Then I had this image come to mind of crossing a rickety foot-bridge… high up…where someone that is guiding me across would say:

DON’T LOOK DOWN

I immediately felt some of the tension diminish.

Here’s what I told myself:

Don’t look down.  Don’t focus on problems or issues that might be around you now, focus on where you are going… Focus on taking the next step… and then the next… and then the next.

Changing my focus, I felt good…

Taking that next step, I felt great.

Taking the step after…and the one after that, I’m on my way and nothing can stop me.

It’s an interesting challenge!

OCTOBER OFFER:

Do you have an interesting challenge???

Being fed to the sharks of fear

Why I Cause Myself To Fail…

At some point in my life I realized that some part of my brain doesn’t want me to be successful. You may have experienced something similar.  I see it all the time with people I interact with – usually completely unaware of what’s going on… I still catch this happening within myself all the time, but it’s the awareness that allows me to overcome the limitations.

Self-sabotaging behavior is just one way this can manifest from our subconscious.  And rather than preach from some high altar like I’ve completely surpassed these issues, I thought I’d just raise some of your awareness by sharing some things about myself…

For me, negative patterns of behavior crop up when I’m doing something challenging, something new, and there’s some fear in the back of my mind around failure.  I take on too much work when I really need to focus on the one thing that is truly important to me.  Somehow as a means of protecting “myself”, my subconscious mind (seemingly way smarter than my conscious brain) outsmarts every rational aspect of my behavior with some kind of override button as a means of protection.  Protection from what?  Failure for one.  More accurately, the FEAR of failure, because the failure hasn’t happened yet, and might never happen.

Here are a few other things I’ve seen in myself from time to time that you can look out for:

  • Forgetfulness – Believe it or not, your subconscious can make you forget as easily as it can help you remember.  You might forget to reply to that important email in a timely manner – and you never know what it might be that life-changing person that can connect you to the next level.
  • Tardiness – Instead of waking up on time like a kid waking up to go to Disney, you might forget to set your alarm… or not give yourself enough time to prepare / make it to that interview or presentation.  You set yourself up for failure due to ‘circumstances’ that were ‘beyond your control’.  You fail, but you are not a personal failure.
  • Procrastination – I’ll write more about this later.
  • Perfectionism – Have you ever worried so much what someone else might think, that you never finish something?  It might be writing a book, publishing a blog post (like this one! :)), finishing that final cut of a demo music track to send to a contact.  You eventually you forget about it.  It’s something you worked on but never finished, and you failed but never “failed”.
  • Wrong Priorities – “Things” come up.  Work calls you in for an extra shift when you have an important meeting the same day.  You *could* have said “I’m sorry, I can’t make it” and have chosen yourself, as James Altucher would say (I’m a big fan of his stuff – check out his book, “Choose Yourself”).  But you didn’t.  You just HAD to go in because you need the money, or you “might” lose your job.  You didn’t choose yourself, and you failed but you didn’t “fail”.
  • Laziness – Working to create something while working a full-time job is NOT easy.  It can be demanding, draining, challenging… and sometimes you just want a break.  It’s very easy to talk yourself into justifying “time for myself”.  Now, I’m all for time for myself – it just has to be in the right way, and at the right time.  Whenever I feel that urge, I don’t just ignore it and try to “push through the pain”… I go deeper.  I meditate.  I find out where that urge is coming from.  If I find a connection to fear related to something I am working toward, that gets me fired back up to squash that fear.  Without being able to discern the cause, you will either work yourself to exhaustion or you will not get your sh*t done… both are paths to failure by not doing.
  • Getting Ready to Get Ready – Oh, this was me (sometimes still is).  Wanting to learn everything and know everything before leaping out there.  Think fear of failure / risk aversion might have something to do with it?
  • Negative Thoughts – “It’s probably not going to work anyways, and I could really use the [insert one of: time, money, rest]”… “I just don’t think I’m ready”… “I’ll be ready as soon as I [ insert one of: graduate, take this course, go to XYZ training]”

Here’s the thing – when you’re not looking for these behavior patterns, they rule your life and you have no clue you’re being manipulated like a puppet by your subconscious.

BUT! … HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS!

As a wise man once said.. I think it was GI JOE… “Knowing is half the battle”.

Once you’re aware of these patterns, you can’t help but see them.  The above list is from my own personal experiences, and you’ll begin to see even more over time.  As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking of a few right now.

There are only two ways to handle these patterns that I’m aware of, and I do both.

TACKLE THEM HEAD ON:

This is what we do by default, and we should.  It helps, but it doesn’t get to the core (I’ll talk about that in a minute).

For forgetfulness, you might start to use reminders or to-do lists (like I did… and if you’ve done this on and off periodically, keep reading – you’ll need the “GO DEEPER” section for sure).

For things like procrastination and laziness, you might get an accountability partner.

For tardiness, you make it a habit to add things to your smartphone’s calendar and set 3 reminders like I do sometimes (one for an hour before an event.. one for the day before, and one for a week before!).

But only going head on at these things will make your life a living hell because it doesn’t get to the root CAUSE… For that you have to GO DEEPER.

GOING DEEPER:

Since the ‘head on’ approach is fixing the symptoms and not the CAUSE, you can do that forever, and it’ll never get easier.  You’ll go through a life filled to the brim with some amount of self-torture trying to deal with these things on the outside, until you GO DEEPER.

Going deeper gets you to the cause… usually rooted in some form of belief or values that we may or may not even know exists in our minds.

An short example from my life will be better than a 200 page explanation…My fear of money.

For a while, I despised people with money.  This was because of experiences in elementary school, where I was frequently the subject of a lot of mean comments based on my family’s financial status.  It was an elementary school that my parents struggled to keep my sister and I in when my family had lost everything at one point – their business, our childhood home.. everything.  My mom and dad are very resourceful, and somehow they were able to keep us in the same school to try and do what was best for us.  But during that time, I still remember some of the kids making fun of my mom because of what she wore.  Others made fun of my dad because of the kind of car he drove.  Partly because of that I got into countless fights at that school and never really fit in.  As I grew older, I realized how hard it must be to raise good children that can really appreciate what they have when they have everything…where money isn’t the most important thing in life.  I didn’t want my kids to grow up to be ‘those’ kinds of kids, and part of my mind was protecting me from that outcome by completely avoiding the problem of ‘having too much money’ altogether.  Is this making sense to you?

This revelation took me a while to discover…But going deeper allowed me to change that ‘belief’, which was one of the reasons that my mind would sabotage success.  Part of my mind.. part of me, at a very deep level, did not want to succeed.  I was able to realize that I can be immensely successful and that can give me more of a chance to raise wonderful children.  One of my dreams now is to teach by example for one (think philanthropy), as well as by exposing them to the world – other cultures… that we are all humans, all different and all the same.

Think about how your mind works.   Your mind (barring physical issues or chemical imbalances) is fundamentally a rational machine.  We are only conscious of a very small part of our thoughts – like looking at the surface of the ocean, not knowing what currents are going on underneath.  Our rational mind will work to protect us at all costs from any dangers, even if those dangers are, by definition, irrational.  Find out what you subconscious is protecting you from, and you can start to work on correcting those flawed beliefs.

4 STEPS TO STOP FAILING ‘ON PURPOSE’:

  1. Watch yourself carefully. Observe yourself meticulously for self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.  Keep in mind that your subconscious can be VERY tricky, and is way more powerful than your conscious mind.
  2. Outsmart yourself.  When you identify these limiting behaviors, find ways to outsmart your subconscious while you
  3. Go deeper.  Find out the true source of those behaviors within yourself.
  4. Internal development.  Work on correcting the incongruent belief within yourself.

Step 4 may be easy in some cases – awareness may be enough… or may be a big challenge.  You might need to experiment to find out who or what works for you…

This is all about improving… personal growth…getting past your limitations… removing limiting beliefs and thought patters, and eradicating limiting behaviors.

Internal Development for External Success.

scott-dinsmore

Scott Dinsmore – Live Your Legend

I was very distressed to hear that Scott Dinsmore, the creator of Live Your Legend, has passed.  I remember when I stumbled across his TED talk: How to find and do work you love, where he opened up about the beginnings of Live Your Legend.  I was inspired…his ted talk played a large part in my finding my own way to help empower others to find meaningful lives.

Scott recently began world tour with his wife, Chelsea… and they were sharing their adventures with the world…real adventures – desert crossing, tents… bonding with locals everywhere and spreading happiness in the process.

The information seems to point to an accident while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, something I had wanted to do some 20 years ago, but still never have.

The only saving grace that I can fathom is that he lived more in just the past few months of his life, and touched the lives of others, more than most of us will do in our lifetime.

I feel deeply for his wife and the family he has left behind.

He has impacted countless people around the world in such positive ways, and his positive energy will live on and continue to change lives for the better.

Scott Dinsmore was truly an inspiration for how to live life.

 

sunrise

Accept…Surrender…Receive…

Let go of your suffering… Let go of your attachment.  Accept.  Surrender.  Receive.

This does not mean “give up”… or accept your situation and do not try to change things.  In fact, it means the opposite.

Christianity and Judaism teach faith in God… To let go of our worries, that we are being cared for, guided, protected…we are Gods children.  We are to let go and receive what God provides.

Buddhism speaks of enlightenment and non-attachment…If you are going through challenging times, you may be ‘attached’ to what the future holds – yearning for that time to come while you force yourself to suffer where you are now…. Or you may be attached to the past… what used to be.  Your attachment causes suffering as you feel like something is lacking.

The Vedanta teaches that our inner soul (Atman) is one with God (Brahman…the creative principle).  We are meant to have true awareness of our own divinity… How can one worry about anything in this life if one is truly aware of one’s own oneness with God?

Many contemporary writers and spiritual ‘guides’  express similar thoughts in more modern terms.

Eckhart Tolle writes of this in The Power Of Now – how we often live in the future or the past, not  experiencing ‘the now’.

Wayne Dyer writes of connecting with Infinity… becoming one with the Infinite.

In Evolutionary Enlightenment, Andrew Cohen speaks of our own divinity with a unique perspective – that our consciousness is the very consciousness of God…that the everything is one… came from one…is God…Our own consciousness is the consciousness of the universe…we are all part of the same divine consciousness becoming aware of itself.

Across millennia…civilizations…cultures…religions…beliefs…patterns form and reveal fundamental truths.

Let go of your suffering… Let go of your attachment.  Accept.  Surrender.  Receive.

This does not mean “give up”… or accept your situation and do not try to change things.  In fact, it means the opposite.

Accept.

If you are suffering due to circumstances of your life, acceptance is the first step.  Acceptance..moving past denial and resistance…allows you to see things as they are, and take action to change your situation.

Surrender.

Surrender to life, to God, to the Infinite Intelligence…Surrender to put an end to the self-inflicted suffering of your own mind… Trust that you are connected, inextricably to the infinite… to god…to all life… When you see this truth, you will feel a sense of calm… a sense of peace.  oneness.

Receive.

Receive your life fully.  Experience living, whatever it may bring, richly… thoroughly.  Be open to what life.. the universe… existence…God… Brahman…The Infinite…offer you.

I Am The World

Be Limitless!

What limits are holding you back right now?  What limiting thoughts, behaviors, beliefs?  Where do they come from – your own mind? Another person’s voice?  Past experiences, or what you’ve seen others do or not do?

Repeat this to yourself right now, and whenever you hear any limiting thoughts:

I AM LIMITLESS!!!

We’ve all had those moments of doubt, but we’ve also had those moments of accomplishment and success.  We’ve all felt that elation when we were unsure of ourselves, but we persevered and succeeded in spite of our doubts. We’ve surprised ourselves!

As children we begin to see a pattern, the pattern where we don’t yet KNOW that we can do something, but we try anyways…and sometimes we succeed…sometimes we fail.  For some of us, the pattern is predominantly negative.  We become afraid of failure, afraid of being ridiculed.  Others of us begin to feed on the elation of success. Throughout our lives these patterns become reinforced – by our employers, significant others, family members.

These ‘patterned’ limits become our internal thermostat.  They direct our everyday decisions. They are deep in our subconscious, and direct our behaviors behind the scenes trying to protect us from ourselves. The act of procrastination is a very good example… perhaps you never got around to sending in that job application – you were “too busy”, or somehow it slipped your mind… when in fact, that was simply some part of your own mind avoiding the pain of failure that it was falsely predicting.

Repeat this right now:

“I am safe to make my own decisions and my own choices, and I will not limit myself.  I know that my happiness is in my true freedom to choose my own destiny.”

There are countless examples of limitations imposed by the human mind.  One of the most widely known examples is when the world believed it was impossible for any human to run a mile in under 4 minutes.  After an eternity of trying, Roger Bannister finally proved that it was possible.  Then, as if an invisible barrier had been shattered in the minds of the world, within a year another runner repeated the feat… And later another, and another.  How is that possible?  Did the WORLD become faster overnight?  Yes and No.  Physically the runners were the same.  What changed?  The limit in their minds had been removed.

From the very small daily decisions we make, to the life changing… every action we take is governed and throttled by our own internal “thermostat” of what we believe is possible.  While it makes sense to avoid wasting our time on something futile, more often than not the important decisions are in that gray area of the unknown where both failure AND success reside.

Make a commitment to constantly challenge your own beliefs of what is and what is not possible. Push yourself. Inch that thermostat up a tiny notch at first…. and then another… and another. Will you endure failures?  Of course!  That is not only ok, that’s how you know you’re REALLY doing it right!

If you never fail, you are not living anywhere near your true potential for SUCCESS.

You will learn to appreciate how fear and doubt will be transformed into wonder and possibility… that sense of “What if?”. You will no longer see the shadows, you’ll see the light. You will no longer see the chance of failure, you will see the path to success.

You will begin to realize that there are no true limits… that you can achieve way more than you’ve ever dreamed possible… that you truly are LIMITLESS!

 

Finding a path

3 Rules of CHOICE…

1. Realize that you have a choice.  If you’re not where you want to be, and you’re not doing something about it, you’re choosing to be where you are.  Many times the choices we have can be so difficult to make that we don’t see them as choices.  It’s important to take an honest look at where we are and own up to the CHOICES we are making.  Staying in denial and telling yourself that you have no choice is one way to stay stuck for a long time.  Once you admit that there is a CHOICE… even if it’s a difficult choice…THEN you can work on overcoming the fear or difficulty.   You can build up the confidence to make that CHOICE that scares the hell out of you.

2. Don’t limit your options by pre-judging them.  Another way to stay stuck for a long, long time is to take your options and throw them out.  That knee-jerk response in your head that interrupts you and says, “there’s no way”, or “I can’t”… just shut it off.  Usually that voice is driven by some form of fear – a fear of failure, a fear of change, a fear of having to do work or endure sacrifice.  Be HONEST with yourself and look at the fear head-on before pretending like you don’t have an option.  Sometimes the best course of action is the one that you at first think you just can’t do.

3. Be OPEN to conceiving of new options.  Know that at EVERY point in time there are an infinite number of possibilities, and all we need is one that is better than what we have now.  When you tell yourself “I have no choice”, you are turning off the creative part of your mind that would otherwise be searching for options.  Meditate on the fact that there is a better way… you KNOW there is a choice… you just need to SEE it… Call it “Inspiration”… “God”… “Source”… “Subconscious”… something will reveal the answer to you.  One thing seems to be consistent across all the explanations – answers are a lot more likely to come when you’re searching, so don’t stop looking.

Own up to your situation and realize that you have a choice.  Don’t limit your options, even if the choices are not always pleasant.  Always keep an open mind, knowing that the choices that you see are nothing compared to the options that are available.

There are an infinite number of paths to take you from where you are to where you want to be; all you need is one.

Yin Yang

3 Ways to Use Challenging Times

Challenging times, no matter how difficult, can be a portal for development. When you feel anywhere from stressed to hopeless, take some time to see, and feel, what’s happening. In the moment of experiencing where you are, you have an opportunity… an opportunity to evolve your consciousness.  An opportunity to step out of the stress or suffering.  An opportunity that others, in more seemingly “comfortable” situations, simply do not have.

1. Use your emotional energy to change your situation.

Step one is to observe the situation that you are in.  You may feel any number of negative emotions: frustration, anger, resentment, sorrow, hatred, etc.  Feel the situation fully and accept the situation for what it is.  Use the emotional energy to propel you to take action. Action may be internal or external if you are capable of doing something about your situation to improve it… use the energy to push through the difficulty.  If your external situation is truly beyond your control, then go deep into the emotional energy and accept it as it is.  The “stress”, “pain”, or “suffering” you are going through is a result of non-acceptance of your situation.  By accepting your situation you are no longer creating the internal stress, mental pain, or suffering for yourself.

2. Recognize the opportunity for growth.

On a constant basis, recognize even minor challenges and frustrating situations as a time for growth.  As soon as you catch yourself feeling any negative emotion, step outside off the emotion and observe yourself.  Strive to catch yourself immediately – as soon as the emotion starts.  This may happen at work with your boss, at home with your spouse, with your children, with strangers, or even with yourself.  Don’t fight the negativity, but don’t feed it – just observe.  Become aware of it, accept it, then let it go because you know it’s not serving you.  By recognizing the “challenging situations” as opportunities, you will inherently become more mentally balanced, and at peace.  You will also start to notice that many of the negative situations you were experiencing simply stop happening or become much less intense.

3. See the challenge as a catalyst for something new.

Every situation that we perceive of or label as negative does have a positive side effect.  For some, it takes time to develop the ability to re-frame your experiences into something positive.  The positive aspect of your situation does exist – no matter how difficult it may be to recognize it in the moment.  Learn to use your situation to open your mind to new possibilities.  You will eventually be unable to see anything as inherently good or bad… When you catch yourself labeling or categorizing events or times of your life along the spectrum of good or bad, step back for a moment and realize that this is a chance for you to grow.  These experiences are what make you whom you are…they are the catalysts for change.  They are necessary to guide you and teach you.  They are portals for change, providing you with the energy (motivation) to act.  Focus on being open to the opportunities these moments create.

juggling

You can’t juggle without letting go

Ever seen a juggler try to juggle while not letting go of anything???

We try to control way too much of our lives and our surroundings…too many unimportant things.  We try to control ourselves, our expectations, and others.  We have a tough time dealing with the unknown, the unexpected… worrying about all the “what if”s that might come up.  We worry and stress over things that MIGHT happen as if they already have happened, and reflexively we attempt to CONTROL what we really can’t – because we’re afraid of something going wrong, even if we’re not sure what it is.

Even when we think we are in control, we really know that control is just an illusion…

We expose our bodies to a lifetime of stress unnecessarily… Health-wise we’re more likely to over-eat, not sleep well, develop heart disease, depression, chronic fatigue, on and on.  We feel overwhelmed.

Trying to control too much is caused by an inability to discern what is and what is not truly important.

Want to live a happy life?  Learn to let go.  Don’t stress over possible outcomes of the future.  Put trust in others…

More likely than not, the opportunity of YOUR lifetime is going to be a result of something not going exactly as YOU had planned.

Letting go does not mean not trying…it does not mean not doing your best.  It means letting go of fear of what MIGHT happen.  It means letting go of the expectation that everything will always go as planned because we know we’ll be able to deal with it.  It means letting go of trying to do EVERYTHING yourself so that you can accomplish more than you have ever imagined when you enlist the help of others.

It means letting go of the future (what might happen), and of the past (what did happen), so that you can truly enjoy life (what is happening now).

meditatingatthebeach

Be Happy…Now! :D

Almost everyone is waiting for something to happen… Waiting to reach some goal to be happy.  Waiting to find the right person, save enough money for a house, pay down debt… Too often happiness is always around the corner… or, a more accurate metaphor, at the end of the rainbow.

Happiness is a simple conscious choice – and does not depend on your current situation or circumstances.  As soon as you base your happiness on anything outside of your own self, it slips through your fingers and is gone.  If you reminisce on happy events from the past, you’ve lost the happiness of the moment.  You only feel the “missing” of the happy moments of the past that are gone.  If you are waiting for some state of life (graduate, new job, pay down debt, waiting to “get” something or “have” someone in your life), then you are in a position of wanting something to happen…waiting for it to happen…putting your happiness on hold.  You are again feeling things from a position of lack – living without happiness because it lies in the future.  What’s more, the moment you had been waiting for, should it arrive, will at some point be gone.  The happiness that was once coming in the future will be gone in the past…again leaving you empty.  The answer is that happiness is already within you… here…now.

Happiness is an emotional feeling that comes from within yourself, and is not dependent on anyone else’s opinion of you, does not need anyone else’s approval, and does not depend on luck or current circumstances in any way… Happiness is an enjoyment of life – feeling in the moment… feeling connected, feeling alive… There are wonderful experiences and there are terrible experiences, and everything in between…but you are alive and there is an immense and wonderful appreciation that can be had for all things you experience in life… experiences that make you into the person you have become, that have given you the energy to be and do and create… to live and enjoy life.

A very simple metaphor that I like to use is to think of what makes a great movie great….There is no movie that I’ve ever seen where everything happens perfectly…goes exactly as planned…Where everything works out and nothing bad ever happens.  Nobody on this planet would sit through the first 10 minutes.  But cliffhangers… drama… action… excitement…love…loss…everything from tragedies to tearjerking romances…. THAT is what grabs us.  THAT is what makes for an interesting experience that keeps us on the edge of our seats.  Seeing the main character work through the lulls and depressed states, cope with inevitable losses, face challenges, overcome the odds….If that is what makes for a great movie, why would we want anything less for our lives?

 

happypeoplesilhouette

Want Positive, Be Positive

Jim Rohn said it best:

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”

You need positive people in your life.  People that believe anything is possible.  People that support your dreams.  People that are developed enough to not be afraid of your success, that help you think farther and help you stretch your own boundaries.

How do you find positive people?  Be that person to others and they will find you.

Accept people as they are and be careful not to judge or criticize people that may show some negativity or not be as supportive as you would like.  You attract positivity by exuding it, not by forcing it upon others.  Remember, you choose with whom you spend your time.  Just because you would like to spend time with one person or another, and you would like him/her to be supportive doesn’t mean it will ever happen.  Not everyone has to have the same hopes, plans, and dreams as you do, and that’s ok.

When you start paying attention to the “positivity level” of others, positive people will stand out.  Take an inventory of the people in your life right now – who falls into the positive, optimistic, can-do-anything personality category?  What’s even better is a do-er rather than a dreamer…Most people will be hard-pressed to think of anyone…

As you exude and attract positive people, you can’t help but be changed.  Others supporting you, showing you that something you thought was impossible is possible through their own actions… others supporting you when you attempt what some would claim is impossible, unrealistic, or unlikely… You need that when you’re facing those challenges.  The accumulation of subtle shifts of mindset on a daily basis is critical to your success.

So as you finish up this week, and the rest of this year, look for positivity.. use the holidays to make new connections, and develop new personal relationships.

– Want positive, be positive.