Insights from collectibles: Our friend time

I am a collector.  Throughout my life what I have actively collected has changed but there is always something that I am “collecting”.  At one point in my life, that “something” was clocks.  I’ve now progressed from collecting clocks to having a collection of clocks.

Recently I realized that when I look around at my various collections there seems to be something underlying them all.  What does my clock collection reveal? I am fascinated by and intimately value time. I remain curious as to why we feel such a need to measure it.

Very few of my clocks reliably work.  Each one has a different time displayed most of the time.  It drives some of my friends crazy.  I gave up trying to keep up with them. They are now a reminder of the gift of time, not a measuring of it.

Time.  A moment. A season. A lifetime. Eternity.

Impossible to fully explain other than to say it is without question one place where everything and everyone is equal.  Time is time.  Throughout history, it has been studied and debated.  It is beyond anything else what we ultimately seem to covet most.  And it is something we cannot create or buy.  Many of the most quoted proverbs and sayings have indeed been about our old friend (or enemy!) time.  Here are two that are among my favorites:

Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side.  ~The Talmud

Man measures time and time measures man.” ~ Italian proverb

Some of the most compelling thoughts on time are found in antiquity and the Bible.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 is perhaps one of the most quoted sections penned by Solomon celebrated for his wisdom. For me, it expresses eloquently the lessons we need to learn and remember: “For everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

It brought to mind a song that is an old favorite – Turn! Turn! Turn!   This video is a wonderful opportunity to experience that music again and enjoy some incredible photography and images at the same time.  This bit of musical nostalgia for me reminded me of another favorite thought on time from an old English proverb: Time has wings.

Time.  A gift.  Invest it well.

 

For those times when you just want to quit!

Have you ever noticed that accomplished people seem to have an uncanny ability to adapt and adjust in just the right places at just the right time? They seem to fluidly keep on keeping on without losing a step.

Since I quite often have to actively convince myself to keep going on some of my goals, the apparent ease of others intrigued me. The reality is that no matter how easy it may look for others, it is in fact a universal challenge. The key is in how we face those times we simply want to quit.

What I’ve discovered is that there are two important and vastly different lenses when looking at these situations.

The first lens is that sometimes it’s okay to give ourselves permission to quit. Surprised? It really is okay sometimes to acknowledge we need to make another choice. It isn’t a choice if we can’t change our minds. And sometimes changing our mind is more than just our prerogative, it is imperative. Personal development expert Brian Tracy defines this as zero-based thinking. We ask ourselves: “Knowing what I know now, would I still…?” Then take the appropriate action if the answer is no. We have to allow for change.

The second lens is about finding our own motivation to keep going and not requiring ourselves to take on an approach that doesn’t work for us. Motivation and methods that work are unique for each of us and they also change for us as we move through our lives. And even when you have that perfect motivation, it doesn’t mean that “keeping on” is always easy. Sometimes it is just hard. But we can do it!

Here are five things to consider when you need to regain your confidence and perseverance power to stay engaged and reach your next goal or level of life mastery:

#1: Keep your eye on the finish line

What is waiting for you at the end? What is that promise? When we stay focused on the end goal, it gives it a magnetic quality that will help pull us through tough times and circumstances. Remember though that it isn’t just the goal — it’s what reaching that goal makes possible. Capture the feeling and lock onto that.

#2: Fuel (feed) your fire

Mother Teresa taught: “To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.”

How are you keeping your commitment vital and alive? What are you feeding to your internal energy furnace? Are you connected with others that have already reached the place you are striving to get to? Are you surrounding yourself with support and positive connections?

#3: Focus on consistent steps — not leaps & bounds

What we do consistently has a much higher impact on our results than what we do occasionally. The stream must be constantly moving to wear down the rock. When you are consistently working on something, you will attract even more opportunities. Use progressive milestones to help with this. No one goes from the white belt level to black without attaining each color in between. And each level achieved is a celebration.

#4: Make everything serve the goal

This is not just fortune cookie wisdom. Determined focus is what delivers destiny. That means you must bind together all your resources and deploy them as a single force of power. This is the secret revealed by Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich. Get everything working in harmony with the same result and you will get there.

#5: Don’t be afraid of setbacks

What scares you? For most of us, it is failure. To move past the fear, we just need to redefine failure. Failure is rarely a valid judgment. Your plan is going to change. That is not failure. That is intelligence at work. Define attempt as research. It is welcome progress. Embrace that thinking and you will re-channel the fear and stay on track.

Be strategic about choosing and staying your course. And always, live today like you want tomorrow to be. Choices get really clear when we start there.

The Myth of Indecision

Do you struggle with making decisions? I didn’t consider myself particularly challenged in this area until some significant and disruptive changes occurred. I began to second guess myself at every turn. I doubted my ability to make good choices, even small ones. After all, some I had made certainly didn’t seem to be working out as planned. Indecision started settling over me and with that, a marked loss of confidence.

In very short order I recognized that there is a definite myth when it comes to indecision.

It isn’t indecision at all. It’s a surrender of choice.

When we fail to decide, we are in essence letting someone, or something else direct the results. When that happens, rarely will those results be what we would have chosen ourselves.

It was clear that I needed to take back the reigns and get on with it!

It is often said that we don’t truly appreciate something until we’ve lost it or at least faced the threat of losing it. That was certainly true for me here. I had taken my ability to make decisions for granted. It came easily to me. I needed to restore that ease and confidence.

How did I do it? It started with the recognition that decision making is not a talent. It is a skill. As with any skill, our confidence comes from the doing. I began to just decide, to make a choice. Big ones, small ones and many that were in between. The confidence came from the return to knowing that with each decision also comes the continued opportunity to evaluate and adjust.

Over time a pattern began to emerge that showed me where decisions were happening with greater ease and confidence. As they say, success leaves clues. In this case, a simple four step process had emerged that worked every time.

Step 1 – DETERMINE the real question or need

This is essential. If we think we are making a decision about A – but the actual issue is B, something is going to get missed and the decision is going to be made with a false sense of need. By drilling down with questions and getting to what the decision is really about, all of the distracting debris falls away.

Step 2 – Allow (and limit) an appropriate amount of time and effort for DISCOVERY

Big seems little and little seems big. When perspective gets out of kilter we can tend to over-analyze everything. Be brutally honest with yourself about the impact of the decision and respond proportionally. The way to do that is to consider is how long you are going to live with the consequences of the choice. It can be easy to forget that most things, including our choices, are temporary anyway. By putting limits on discovering what our choices will be in terms of time, effort and other resources we contain the situation effectively.

Insight: I also found a +3 rule invaluable. If I needed to make a decision, instead of allowing any of them to be between just two options, I would apply the +3 rule. If someone said choose A or B, I would challenge myself to come up with C, D and E. If there were 3 choices, I came up with 6. Sometimes the decision is tough because the right choice isn’t there. Instead of agonizing over which to choose, create the choice. Just do it within a process and time frame that doesn’t allow it to drift away from you.

Step 3 – Make a choice – DECIDE

When it’s all said and done, the skill can only develop as we practice it. For us to have confidence in our choices we have to make them. It’s really that simple. If we understand the situation and have an adequate array of choices, this step gets much easier.

Step 4 – The decision is only truly made when we take action. The fourth step then is to DO.

Non-action negates the decision. Implementation is the key to everything in life. We can fully understand our need, create truly innovative approaches for the solutions and make brilliant choices. But all of that will not accomplish anything if we don’t ultimately take the action.

The most critical insight for me was recognizing that how we handle the small things in life is the best predictor of how we’re managing the more significant things. If we aren’t making good choices within our day, ultimately that shows up as ineffective choices for our lives. Personal leadership and responsibility is the key.

Live (decide) today like you want tomorrow to be. Live (decide) well!

Eye of the beholder: Captivated, Enthralled, Awed

When I think about Sundays, what I value is communion, reflection, music, words, and community. These values have developed over a lifetime of Sundays. But in reality, those are my values every day.  Sunday is just the day I set aside to celebrate those values. The day we choose is not important.  What matters is that we take the time.

Taking time to commune and reflect, alone and within a community, is how new perspectives can be born.  We all need those moments that form the genesis of creating a new lens – a new portal for seeing ourselves, our loved ones, our work, our lives, our world.  We all need this now more than ever. A year ago, I posted a music video selection that focuses on the idea of perspective and how things shift depending on what we allow ourselves to see, or even not to see.  It’s an incredible work and worthy of sharing again.

I would encourage you to expand your screen (mind) and let the images and words soak in. Borrowing from the title, make this a moment for beholding the world anew.

What a wonderful moment to take us into the week. As we return to our routines, old and new, let’s once again see that world of our childhood and as the speaker exhorts us: be captivated, enthralled, awed.

Resilience: Asking the other question….

The Other Question

As I am working on Adjusted Sails: Are You Ready For What’s Next?, my focus has shifted to my own next as I consider strategies, plans and priorities.

Perhaps you find yourself here as well.

A productive practice to consider is integrating into our thought processes what I call the other question. I’m always intrigued with inverse statements and questions. There is always another one there.

What we are considering is a fundamental practice in order to experience the full range of possibility thinking. We must be able to look at every side of our choices.

In my work as a strategist over the years, this has proven to be what has made the difference between goals and objectives that are reached with greater ease and those that create struggles or even get lost along the way.

There is always another question to consider. The other question is also what quite often delivers us the greater return.

Questions that drive insight are the ones that move us forward.

Here are three to consider that will help you develop a possibilitarian point of view that leads to creative resilience:

What is the real change I want to achieve?

Know your true objective. Keep asking until you find it. There are several schools of thought on this in terms of how many layers of questions to go through. For each answer, you ask why that is important. My experience has taught me that somewhere between questions five and seven we get to the true answer.

I want to achieve X.  Why? Because XX.

Why do you want XX? Because XXX.

Why do you want XXX? Because XXXX.

Why do you want XXXX?

Because V!

You cannot stay on track if you don’t know where you really want to go. What we want to get to is the core value being served by taking on the work. I just recently went through this practice again myself about my personal values around health. It’s the most powerful exercise we can do to get to our own truth for what we want to achieve. Of note is that sometimes this exercise helps us identify what we can stop trying to accomplish because our underlying reason isn’t of any real value. But in most cases, we get to what will be our true motivation.

The more you practice this, the faster you will get to your core value. When we keep our core value at the forefront, resilience is a natural result because we are not looking at a circumstance without context. We are examining everything against how it can serve what matters to us in our life and work the most.

What options am I avoiding?

This is crucial because quite often what we refuse to consider is our best choice. We all have non-negotiable positions. That’s not what this is about. This is about what we might be afraid to try or think isn’t a possibility for us. It’s about removing limitations, not compromising boundaries.  When we are practicing a resilient lifestyle, how we perceive things will change and what we never considered before can move front and center.

It’s also about tackling resistance head-on.

What is important is that we exhaust every possibility without limiting ourselves to probabilities or what we think we want to do.

What am I missing?

Where are the blind spots? What aren’t we considering that needs to be addressed? What are the risks? If you know them, you can mitigate them from the start or at a minimum, have a plan in place to address them should they happen.  If you do not know the risks, you have not fully defined what you want.  If this is a challenging area for you, start with your assumptions. Your risks will be in your assumptions. What are you assuming to be true? What if it is not? What are you assuming is not true? What if it is?

One of the many gifts I received from my iPEC family where I studied for my certification as an Executive Life Coach was a very special stone. I’ve had it for a number of years and it stays with me as a kind of talisman when I’m thinking through something challenging.

On one side, the word problem has been engraved, covering the entire surface. On the other side is the word solution. The solution resides within the problem itself. We have to examine it from all sides to find it but it is there. The other question is what will take us to the other side.