Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The #1 Missing Element in Self-Help

Everybody has problems. Yes, everybody. It's true, even those people that you look at and wonder if they have any problems at all, they have problems, too. What's the difference between them and you? Those other people are probably doing something about their problems. They are helping themselves, taking action, making things happen, not sitting back and letting their problems control them or get the best of them. That's the difference, right there.

It's far easier said than done to "do something about your problems." But, let's define "doing something" more clearly first. One person may hate their job, and they are actively sending out resumes, building contacts, and seeking new opportunities. They have a positive mindset that there is a job out there that will make them happy and they are completely open to that opportunity when it arises. How about the woman who is extremely unhappy in her marriage, but worried about her children and finances? Maybe she's taken on a side job to save some money and secure her own and her children's future before she leaves? These two people are taking action to help themselves. The simple answers of "just quit your job" or "just leave your husband" are not good ones, and these examples of happier self-helpers who are taking action illustrate that more clearly.

As the story unfolds, you would see that the two people in the examples above are happier, because they have helped themselves conquer some problems and some unhappiness in their lives. They took control of the situation, and acted in a way that furthered their personal growth. Those people that you see that never seem to get away from their problems are missing a critical component in the self-help process: ACTION. Without action, nothing happens.

Talking about your problems starts out as helpful, but without the action component, talking about your problems soon becomes whining about your problems. Taking action is critical to succeeding in solving your problems. Too many people just sit around feeling sorry for themselves, wallowing in their own pity because they cannot solve their problems effectively. Again, for the record, those people that seem "problem-free" are not! They are just people that have learned to solve their problems effectively and remain positive in life. They are not more "lucky" than you, you are not "down on your luck," there are no excuses like that. They are working hard and taking action!

Want to solve your problems? Begin by clearing your head of all negativity. Work hard at establishing a positive mind set, for both your conscious mind and your unconscious mind. Take a few steps back from those people in your life that foster negativity. Watch those people that seem to conquer their problems, in ways that seem effortless to you. And, begin to take action toward solving your problems. Imagine your life without a specific problem that troubles you. And, focus on reaching that place in your life. Seize opportunities to make changes that are necessary. Stop talking, start acting!


Justin Blake


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Avoid Uncertainty at Your Own Risk

Of all the columnists in The Washington Post, one of my favorites is Shankar Vedantam who writes "Department of Human Behavior." He's not only a good, clear writer, his research is excellent, and he has no axes to grind. He tells it like it is. In his recent column entitled "The Power of Political Misinformation," he explores how information affects different types of people. When exposed to misinformation, people with more traditionally conservative views tend to believe it more readily than people with more liberal approaches. The fascinating part happens when evidence is later produced that contradicts the misinformation. Liberal thinkers tend to return to a belief only slightly more negative than what they originally held. Those with a conservative viewpoint actually became more negative.

How does this apply to guys going through the midlife transition? Since the mechanism behind this unexpected behavior is directly linked to a person's comfort level in dealing with levels of uncertainty, I think that we can expect these tendencies to be strongest during midlife, when external uncertainties only exacerbate the internal uncertainties that run wild during this period of life. When your emotional world is already being turned on its head, what could you expect other than a frantic grab for more certainty from those who are fundamentally fear-based?

I know that, to some, I may be going out on a limb here; but evidence strongly suggests that people with conservative views have a much more difficult time dealing with uncertainty, and that this difficulty is most often neurologically fear-based: a sort of cultural PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). So far, I haven't heard of any studies on the subject, but I'd be willing to speculate that people who are culturally conservative (rank high on the cultural 'uncertainty avoidance' scale as defined by Geert Hofstede) have a more difficult time with the midlife transition than their counterparts. After all, the midlife transition is that time when, in an emotionally healthy individual, all foundational beliefs and values come under scrutiny and question. It's a time in life when, very often, there seems to be no certainty at all, because the old paradigms have crumbled under the weight of ennui, and a new, more authentic belief and value system has not yet taken its place.

The plight of those who, for whatever reason, are more inclined to believe misinformation after it's been debunked provides only a particular example of a much more wide-spread tendency: people who are very uncomfortable with uncertainty tend to adopt a worldview that's based more on wishful thinking than on fact and actuality. Although it's evidently a survival tactic in a world that's perceived as threatening and dangerous, it's equally evidently a maladaptive response. Living in a world of your own creation - where you set yourself up as the unique meaning-giver - could be characterized as being culturally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually paranoid schizophrenic. Although that world may appear internally consistent (after all, it's designed to be that way), it consequently relegates all contradictory evidence to the realm of conspiracies: those who don't agree with you are up to no good.

Life as we know it is already rife with maladaptive defense mechanisms. Systematically getting rid of (or at least learning to manage) these once-necessary defenses, which have long since turned on us, makes up the bulk of the maturing process. The midlife transition marks a watershed in a man's life: you have the choice whether to go forward and build for yourself a workable and authentic personal foundation based on discernment of core spiritual principles (like the on-going search for your unique purpose and meaning), or to return to the black-and-white world of artificial certitude (laws, rules, and regulations).

What should you do with uncertainty? Learn to live with it! That's the only way forward through the midlife transition. Going back to old (and imagined) certitudes will leave you repeating the same dead-end behaviors over and over again: divorce after divorce, job after job, career after career, illness after illness, disappointment after disappointment. The fear-based person can't move forward because he sees his plight as something that other people (or the world in general, or even God) are doing to him. The victim mentality keeps him stuck in childish fantasies and unable to transition into a mature and authentic life. Uncertainty avoidance is the bane of midlife: practice it at your own risk!

source: H. Les Brown, MA, CFCC
ProActivation® Coaching
Website: http://www.ProActivation.com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tell the Corpse You're Sorry

Why must conversions always come so late? Why do people always apologize to corpses? ~David Brin

Back when I was 21 years old, I'd just been married a few weeks, and I'd started my first "grown-up" job, as the Associate Minister of the Wewoka Church of Christ, a member of the congregation died, and her funeral was scheduled for my birthday. Things went OK, until it was time for the family to have a "last good-bye" with their departed loved one.

A woman, who was probably 50 [but looked old to the me I was then] stood before the body, weeping. Then she spoke to the body.

"I'm sorry, mama," she said. "I'm so sorry. I'll take care of everything, mama." Then the lady reached into the casket and grabbed her mother's body up in her arms and started to pull her out of the box. Of course she wasn't trying to remove the body, but just to hug her mother, but I have to admit that my knees got wobbly, and I had no clue what to do. The people from the funeral home came dashing down the aisle, got the lady and the body separated, and tucked the old girl back in her casket. When I found the Brin quote I was reminded of that incident.

Is it a general truth that we fail to use our time properly? Do we weep at the grave because we realize there is no longer any chance to do or say what we now wish we'd done, and said?

Leo Buscaglia, PhD, used to tell a story about assigning writing assignments to his students about what they would do if they only had one day left to live, or 1 year left to live, or something like that. Buscaglia would discuss the content of those student essays and then ask why they were waiting.

I'd tell my mother that I love her. Then tell her.

I'd write a novel. Start writing.

I'd run naked on the beach. Then strip off.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite. Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance. Everyone is just waiting. ~Dr. Seuss

Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. ~Wayne Dyer

source: tex norman

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Try Weird Combinations

Most innovations are based on combining ideas in fresh ways. What is the greatest invention of all? One contender is Johannes Gutenberg's printing press. Before Gutenberg, all books had been laboriously copied out by hand or stamped out with woodblocks. Around 1450 in Strasbourg, Gutenberg combined two ideas to invent a method of printing with movable type. He coupled the flexibility of a coin punch with the power of a wine press. His invention enabled the production of books and the spread of knowledge and ideas throughout the Western World. In terms of revolutionizing communication only the invention of the Internet comes close.

When you combine two ideas to make a third then two plus two can equal five. In the ancient world one of the great discoveries was that by combining two soft metals, iron and tin, you could create a strong alloy, bronze. In a similar way combining two minor inventions, the coin punch and the wine press, gave birth to the mighty printing press.

A weird combination that worked for the BBC is their celebrity stock exchange, Celebdaq. On this site you can take a future option on the media coverage for your chosen celebrity and then watch your option rise or fall in value. By marrying Hello magazine and financial spread betting the BBC has created a radical innovation that is proving very popular.

Try combining your main product or service with a range of foreign concepts and see what you get. By putting together toys and management training Lego was able to conceive a new corporate strategy technique whereby management teams build business models using Lego blocks. By combining the worlds of pharmaceuticals and fashion, L'Oreal has carved out a distinctive and successful strategy.

How can a concert violinist create an innovation? The acclaimed Finnish violinist Linda Brava has performed with many leading symphony orchestras. She was elected to Helsinki city council in 1996 and became Finnish Tourism ambassador to Sweden. She posed for Playboy magazine and appeared on the US TV series, Baywatch. By combining glamour with virtuosity in classical music she has established a unique brand for herself.

Take a product and think of an absurd way to make it work. Trevor Bayliss is the English inventor who conceived the clockwork radio. What a strange combination! Radios need electricity and clockwork is a mechanical method. Surely batteries or mains electricity are better ways to power a radio. However, in the developing world batteries are expensive and mains electricity is unreliable. Bayliss built a reliable radio that people could wind up by hand. It has transformed the availability of information in many of the poorest regions of the Earth.

You can apply the same process to combinations of partners and think of diverse individuals or organisations who could work with you. Combining your different skills could create an original approach to the market. Think of how Pavarotti performed with the Irish rock band, U2. Or how Mercedes-Benz and Swatch combined to create the revolutionary Smart Car. Who would have thought that a prestige carmaker would collaborate with a fashion watchmaker to come up with the most innovative town car ever seen?

Nearly every new idea is a synthesis of other ideas. So a great way to generate ideas is to force combination possibilities. Get your team together and brainstorm how you could mix your products with those from wildly different sources. Take it to the extreme. How could you combine your key concept with random products, services, places, personalities, etc? The more bizarre the combination the more original the ideas that are triggered.

Study how your customers use your products or services. Do they use them with other products? Is there a combination you could create which would make things easier for your customers? Just like the drinks company who innovated with a ready-mixed gin and tonic.

Remember that :

  • Someone put a trolley and a suitcase together and got a suitcase with wheels.
  • Someone put an igloo with a hotel and got an ice palace.
  • Someone put copier and a telephone together and got a fax machine.
  • Someone put a bell and a clock together and got an alarm clock.
  • Someone put a coin punch and a wine press together and we got books.

So the next time you wheel your suitcase or read a fax or a book you are benefiting from someone's ingenuity in putting together a combination of ideas. Why not try it with your own products to drive innovation in your business?


Paul Sloane