Category Archives: Self Improvement

Use Feedback to Your Advantage

Listen
Listen

Many times there are those that are “kind enough” to give us feedback. Unfortunately that feedback sometimes comes not from a constructive place but rather from a place of jealousy or even worse I need to put you down so that the provider of the feedback to put themselves up there.

And many times, or perhaps less times if you will, the feedback that is given to us is sincere. It comes from a place of really wanting to help you. Whatever the case may be and whatever the motivations are of the person giving the feedback you can learn from both. Whenever someone is speaking with you, and it does not even have to be within the framework of feedback, pay close attention. There’s always something to learn. When somebody gives advice pay close attention.

It is not always easy to do but try and keep your mind on two things when someone is speaking with you. On the one hand and he can only do one do this one, they close attention to what they’re saying so that you can respond appropriately. And of course you need to be really listening, and not just preparing what you have to say in the time that the person in front of you speaking. Truly listen to understand, to share, to be with the person that is expressing themselves to you, perhaps even better said, with you.

If however you can think about two things while the person is speaking with you then please by all means do this. The second thing to think about is how you can learn from your own personal growth from what is being said to you at that moment. And all this is within the framework of the discussion. It is not necessarily a conversation in which you are being provided feedback.

A third area that warrants very sharp, very attentive focus, is that of receiving feedback. Whether the person delivering the feedback is doing so from a positive and healthy place or from negative and destructive place listen to feedback. There is a message in there for you take that message in whatever form it comes to improve yourself and improve your outcomes.

Sometimes the feedback will be painful to hear that perhaps that is even better. It means that the words being spoken to are actually right on target.

Believe It’s Possible

It's Possible!
It’s Possible!

No one, and I mean no one is so much smarter than you that you cannot achieve the same of levels of success in any area(s) of life that you choose, if not more. Yes, there is a full spectrum of people with vast amounts of knowledge. And perhaps there is some “genetics” to being smart, or skilled in certain areas, but all human beings are capable of achieving pretty much the same levels of knowledge, intelligence, and skills.

Certainly we are all born into circumstances that are more conducive or less conducive to acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to achieve the success we envision. BUT, and that is a BIG BUT, everyone can, should they choose to, be successful.

And so, the first thing you must do is believe. Believe that your dreams can be achieved. Believe its possible, even if its never been done before, not only by you but by anyone else on the planet either. Once you believe that your dreams, your visions, your “success” can become reality in this world then it surely can happen.

We have been blessed with the gift of imagination. And if the imagination can piece it together, so too can reality. So too can your own reality.

After your dream becomes “real” within the realm of the imagination, the next stage is to develop, to “evolve” those images to include the real world. Take it step-by-step. Look at final picture, imagine yourself giving a speech building that home, living in the home, having a wonderful relationship, and then take several steps back within your imagination and simply put together the very achievable, but very reachable and tangible steps you “actually” go through in order to reach your destination. Your dream!

Steps in the belief process:

Believe in the imagination – trust that we as human beings have been given the gift of being able to paint our own picture.

Believe in your capability – along with the gift of imagination comes the gift of our ability to bring about in the real world, all that we can imagine.

Believe in your ability to take the next step towards the dream – in order to solidify your belief in being able to reach any goal you set for yourself, very simply look at the next step needed to move in the direction of attaining that dream. Simply believe, without even taking any step at all, that you were able to take the next step.

Believe in your ability to reach completion of each small step – then, in order to perhaps overcome any fears that he might have, to complete that next step.

Since this section is about belief, about feeling, I will not mention the next obvious step which is to take action.

As each step/stage is successfully completed, not only will your self confidence begin to skyrocket, but your vision will become more and more believable. You will also find that it becomes easier and easier to believe in yourself, the most important person you may want or need to prove anything to.

Why Are You Here?

Why?
What is our life purpose?

It is my firm belief that we are all here for a reason. Now when I say the word “all”, though I also mean that we as a collective of human beings, as humanity, are here for a reason, my specific point here is that each individual, you, me, and every individual that we know is here for a reason. Each one of us is here on a mission. And before we look into how to find our own specific purpose, it’s important to realize that just as I and you are here on a specific mission in their lives, so too is every individual that we come in contact with.

The question is in essence “why” am I hear. Once we can identify the why, we can then build a plan that will allow us to put it into action. To create the physical change in the real world that is a reflection of our purpose. That is in essence the “success” we are supposed to achieve.

Now let me be clear. When I say that that is the success we are “supposed” to achieve, it is up to each individual to decide, to dictate what we are supposed to do. No one else can nor should decide what is right for us. As will be discussed later successful people choose their own life.

So how do we decide what our life purpose is? How do we decide what our own individual “why” is? I think it is our own personal or inner guidance system. An airline pilot or rather an automated self pilot on a transatlantic flight constantly monitors its course. Though the plane is traveling thousands of miles it is never exactly on course. As a passenger, and if you are pilot, you will notice that the plane is always making adjustments on its path to its destination.

So too in life. We set our goals, we find our reason, and we launch into life on a trajectory toward success. But along the way we are given guidance. That guidance comes by way of many indicators. We get feedback from those around us. We get reminded that we might be slightly off course by failures or limited successes along the way. Add to these our own internal gut feel, along with logic and common sense, that allow us to correct, and we have a complete guidance system. All these indicators, or rather feedback mechanisms also help us determine our purpose.

There is one other aspect needs to be taken in to account in our search for our own purpose.

It is quite helpful to think of not only the “corrections” on our path to success but perhaps more importantly the joys that we have experienced since childhood. If we put together a list of all the things that are or that have been joyful to us and combine those with a list of our strengths we can begin to identify what our purpose, our mission is.

Once you identify your purpose aline everything that you do with that purpose. In doing so you will begin to live in harmony both internally within yourself and externally in the universe and be well on your way to achieving success and happiness.

100% Responsibility

Who's Responsible?
Who’s Responsible?

Among the many “single most important factors” on the road to success is the one of taking 100% responsibility for all that not only has occurred in our lives but more importantly, what will occur in our lives.

It is quite easy to find all the reasons in the world why we either have not progressed, cannot progress, or will not progress towards a better life. Whether that better life be in the area of relationships, health, finance, what have you, we always find an excuse, some way of pardoning ourselves from a more satisfying, rewarding, or even acceptable life.

Yes, as any successful person will tell us, the only way to achieve what we want in life is by taking 100% responsibility. When we look at the word “responsibility” we see a clue that can guide us on our quest. It is the “ability” to “respond”. In every situation that life presents us we have the free choice to respond how we wish. That response is what will shape our future in the short and long term.

Should we “choose” to blame the economy, our spouse, children, boss, weight, bank manager, parents, what and who ever, we in essence choose to allow others to design our lives for us. In the words of Jim Rohn “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

When we choose however to design and create our own outcomes then we choose the path of success, in all areas of life. Of course, all the external factors play a roll in what we can do to a certain extent but they can never determine the final outcome. No, we cannot change others. If we have truly done our best and are still “stuck” in that bad relationship, that depressing job, that toxic neighborhood, that not-so-great financial situation, then we very well may not be able to even set the positive example needed in the hope that others will change. We may need to make some very hard decisions and change the environment we are in by leaving it.

There’s a story about school boy who would open his lunchbox every day and complain, “Here we go again, I always have tuna sandwiches for lunch!” One day, his friend asked, “Why don’t you ask your mom to prepare a different lunch for you tomorrow?” The boy replied, “My mother doesn’t make my lunch, I do.”

Do you have a “tuna sandwich” in your life? A situation you complain about every day but don’t do anything about? Don’t do anything to change your outcomes?

  • Do you hate your job so much that you get chest pains every morning before work?
  • Are you in a relationship that makes you cry more than it makes you laugh?
  • Are you aware that you’re carrying some extra weight, but planning to start exercising tomorrow? Next week? Next month?
  • Do you know that incorporating fruits and vegetables to your diet is beneficial, but you never buy fruits and vegetables?

The reason people are living “tuna sandwich” situations is because they are not taking full ownership of their lives. 100% responsibility, 100% of the time! In my own personal experience I’ve learned that the most important step a person must take in order to create the lives of their dreams is taking 100% responsibility of their lives. Not 99%, 100%!

The word “rationalize” come to mind. When we stop “rationalizing”, making “rations” of the amount of personal responsibility we have for our own outcomes, and start understanding and “knowing”, that the only person who can truly bring a better life to ourselves is ourselves, we start moving towards that better life.

The Happiness is in the Progress

The Road to Happiness
The Road to Happiness

I, as have many, have searched for happiness. Many times we hope that the “happiness” will finally come when we have attained that certain something. We spend countless hours, sometimes countless money, energy, and emotion in pursuit of that happiness. And yet when that great day comes when we finally achieved our goal. Buy that new thing, that new widget. Attain that great relationship, after a little bit or perhaps more time, we awaken to realize that the happiness is just not there. Or at least, that it has come and gone.

How then can we in the end achieve happiness? I think the first question to answer is, what is happiness? And if we can define happiness, is it really achievable? Before writing this post I was not quite sure that that answer can be attained. I then recalled a great definition that I had seen written by Steven Reiss:

“Harvard social psychologist William McDougall wrote that people can be happy while in pain and unhappy while experiencing pleasure; To understand this, two kinds of happiness must be distinguished: feel-good and value-based. Feel-good happiness is sensation-based pleasure. When we joke around or have sex, we experience feel-good happiness. Since feel-good happiness is ruled by the law of diminishing returns, the kicks get harder to come by. This type of happiness rarely lasts longer than a few hours at a time.

Value-based happiness is a sense that our lives have meaning and fulfill some larger purpose. It represents a spiritual source of satisfaction, stemming from our deeper purpose and values. We experience value-based happiness when we satisfy any of the 16 basic desires–the more desires we satisfy, the more value-based happiness we experience. Since this form of happiness is not ruled by the law of diminishing returns, there is no limit to how meaningful our lives can be.” (The full article is here)

To take this one step further and as Tony Robbins has been heard to say, it is in the progress. Every time we move closer to our goals. Every time we become a better “self” we are in essence experiencing happiness or rather we have the opportunity to experience happiness. That is a topic on its own. The “happiness” that we experience in that fleeting moment of having achieved a goal, is dwarfed by the happiness that we feel internally as we evolve, as we become the better and better person we can become. That is where the happiness lies. In the pursuit!

Be a Creator!

This is a movie (The Kumbaya Movie, 3:15 min) that has inspired me for years. When we realize that we are in essence the creators of our own destiny, we are then empowered to create our lives the way we wish. Along the lines of James Allen’s “As a man thinketh”, our outer life (character and circumstances) is a result, an outcome, of our inner thoughts. This short clip from Mary Robinson Reynolds is right on:

Say Yes to Life

Are you saying YES to life? This is such a great concept yet sometimes difficult to use.

Sometimes in life we come across things that aren’t exactly the way we would like them to be. We wake up in the morning, having our day planned, and then all of a sudden “life” hits us. We plan on picking up the dry cleaning at a certain hour only to find out that it will not be ready until the next day. We call our spouse and are blindsided by an onslaught of “questions” that sound more like an interrogation than a search for “understanding”. Or, we planned our monthly budget only to find out that a not so minor repair will be needed at home which blows the budget. Or G-d forbid we receive news of an illness or tragedy in the family.

The question is, how do we look at these things? Should we take them as a bullet to the chest? Or can we take them somehow in some more positive light?

The answer quite simply, and as I mentioned above, is just a YES! That is, we can of course say NO to the circumstance, and either way we will feel pain. We will feel the pain as we fight our emotions, and engage the situation. And we will feel the pain even if we accept the situation (by saying Yes). But, when we say “no” we are trying to fight the reality that just cannot be changed. When we say yes we are in essence accepting the reality, albeit with the pain that goes along with it, but by saying yes we are now empowered to do something about it. That something may well include a plan and the ability to change the reality were presented with. Or, it will be simply to accept that reality and find ways to positively cope with the things we did not plan on and would rather do without. One comes from a point of being a victim, the other of being a creator, a person with power.

So just say yes to life and feel the relief that can bring along with the inspiration.

The Resilience Grid

I just finished my first reading of Susan Jeffers’, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. In it she describes her “whole life” approach to resilience. Basically what it says is that when “life” hits you in one specific area of your life, for example, your relationship with someone very important to you, if you look only at that aspect of your life, or rather, if your life is literally based solely on that one area, you are surely going to be not only very upset but quite likely quite traumatized and very much unstable.

Quite simply, if your life is made up only of one aspect, such as the current relationship failure you are in, then should that relationship fall apart the following will happen.

At first your entire life looks like the following picture with your relationship being a label of your whole life diagram.


Then should that relationship fall apart your life that appears to be empty.


A healthier approach to life would be to realize that there are many aspects that make up your life. The following diagram, taken from Jeffers’ book shows how you can find joy and stability within many many areas of your life and especially in the collection of them all together. Then, using the same example as above, should one aspect become “broken”, i.e. the broken down relationship, you can easily see how the rest of your life is still quite full. It also helps you feel very much stable.

Stable Life

The additional point of course is that not only is a this much healthier outlook, and makes life more promising, but that we begin recognize and realize all the good there is in all blessings that we truly have.

Pushing Air Out of the Way

There are times in life (if not always…) when we should just go with the flow. In this short clip from a short while back from Building 43 the focus is on Solar Energy driven cars. I was intrigued by a sentence in the middle of the clip at marker 1:55 in. The line? “60% to 80% of the energy of a car is used to push air out of the way”

I find this line most intriguing. Is it not true that we seem to spend so much time and energy just “pushing air out of the way”?I believe it comes down to simply making the right decisions. Living a life of our higher selves. Once we are in line with the “truth”, that is the truth of our own integral life. Then and only then will we stop pushing air. Then and only then can our energy follow the Pareto Principal, or the 80/20 rule, in a more positive way and rather than spending 80% of our energy pushing air the way we spent 80% of our energy making progress in the most efficient way possible. Here is the clip: