The Story of the Sun and the Wind

Last night I read a simple story about kindness. The moral is that kindness is more productive than force. Seems like a no brainer but its not quite as easy as you think.

Think of your last several interactions with people who may have done something that didn’t sit quite right. How did you approach them? What was the result? Did you consider the other person’s perspective? If you didn’t, can you, and do you think you may have gotten a different reaction?

The story starts with a debate between the wind and the sun about which is stronger. “I’ll prove I am.” says the wind. See the man in the jacket “down there” sitting on a bench. “I bet I can make him take off his jacket faster than you.” So the sun goes behind a cloud and the wind howls and blows which only makes the man hunker down and pull the jacket tightly around himself. Frustrated the wind gives up and the sun comes out from behind the cloud and smiles kindly upon the man. Soon the man, wiping his brow removes his jacket. The sun reminds the wind that gentleness and friendliness are always stronger than forcefulness and fury.

Gentleness and friendliness are always stronger than forcefulness and fury.

Relationships are arguably our most valuable possession yet they must be nurtured with the utmost attention and care.

Remember that the next time something hurts you or upsets you. It’s ok to say something, in fact I think its critical. Give some consideration to the other person’s perspective, put yourself in their position and think of how you might like the message to be delivered. It’s not easy but its worth it. Just remember that gentleness and kindness are always stronger than forcefulness and fury.

If you Don’t Start, You can’t Fail – Seth Godin

If you look at fear as a learning opportunity and walk right into the face of it you may just be surprised by what you find. Check this out.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/08/if-you-dont-start-you-cant-fail.html

A lot of things can cause anxiety and stress because some things are truly important. If it isn’t life threatening, walk into it because if you don’t you can’t even learn from your failure.

Turn Fear into Opportunity

What are you Afraid of?

Fear plays a significant role in our lives by helping us identify legitimate physical and emotional threats. Many time though, we can feel afraid of situations that are not life threatening. The presentation you have to give this week isn’t life threatening. The meeting with your boss isn’t either.

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you do things that add stress to your life unintentionally. I make a conscious choice to deviate from my plan and it means that whatever was displaced then has to be accomplished later. It’s different from procrastination in that I have made the decision to do something that wasn’t planned knowing that it will involve sacrifice. Even though I know that, I can be disappointed in myself if I don’t follow up and get my plan accomplished.

What separates people that succumb to the anxiety and stress from those that effectively cope and get through is often simple self talk. Something you can say to yourself (in your head) when you feel those tell tale signs that trigger our fear. Find a message that you can tell yourself that will get you back on track. At times one simple deviation can turn into a flood of negative feeling and subsequent unproductive behavior all based on the initial fear of what you were facing. 

Accepting the behavior and coming up with a mantra that you can recite to yourself helps bridge the gap back to peace and calm. 
KeepCalmCarryOn1

Is it Your Perspective?

When you’re afraid, its nothing more than an opportunity to learn and grow. When you expose yourself or your work to public scrutiny it can be very frightening. Instead of dreading feedback, look forward to it as an chance to improve. You’re about to receive critical information to make your work that much better. When people give you information, its a gift. We all have moments when we produce a dud, it happens. The more we screw up, the more we learn how not to let it happen again. It makes you stronger.

Let’s say you’ve just delivered  a workshop and everyone simply walked out to their next event or speaker. You haven’t learned anything. Now if you get feedback about how it was hard to see your slides, you’ve learned how to improve the presentation next time. Granted, the feedback is not always that simple to take. Sometimes it hurts. If that’s the case, it may take some soul searching and honesty with yourself though it is still an opportunity to get better.

Can you think of a situation you were “afraid” of that ended up turning into an opportunity to learn? Share it with us.

Next time you feel that lump in your throat think about embracing it. Step up to the podium and look forward to hearing feedback, in fact I dare you to ask for it.

Practice

prac·tice

verb ˈprak-təs

: to do something again and again in order to become better at it

: to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life

I am proud of myself because I didn’t think I was going to be able to find time to blog today and then I drove by Starbucks and decided to sit and write. Today’s entry is short and sweet but I am practicing making my blog a habit.


hab·it

noun ˈha-bət

: a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way

Miracles for the day

1) The amazing friends I have. I had an amazing breakfast and got to play golf with two great friends and made a new friend today. Then I was able to attend break fast for Yom Kippur with wonderful friends that have made me feel like part of their family.

2) The way my children just want to be good at things that are difficult like learning to play an instrument.

3) Sunny September days in the 70’s.

Gratitude is a Practice

There is a lot of information about reinventing yourself. Self help books are everywhere. Magazines are constantly telling us how to do all the things that we think will make us look and feel better. 

Reading a book or magazine may be temporarily motivating but it takes practice to turn that motivation into something substantial. I read to learn and often I feel excited by the possibilities that I imagine. In my experience it can just as quickly turn to disappointment if I don’t follow through. 

Gratitude is a practice.

Gratitude

James Altucher writes in his blog “The Altucher Confidentiial” that it’s important to connect the mundane with the miraculous. He goes on to say that he makes a list of 10 miracles in his life every day. I’m sure that it didn’t start that way. At one point in time he decided to start making a list of miracles as a practice. 

Read his blog and tell him your miracles and then please come back here and tell me.

A few of my miracles:

1) My daughter told me after the first day of school that she “thinks this is going to be the best year ever” There is no better feeling than to hear the excitement in your children’s words.

2) My son starts guitar lessons today and I was able to change my work schedule so I can take him.

3) I learned that a friend was written up in a local magazine and I woke up to an email with a link to the article this morning. Farming Inside the Box

This can become a habit because thinking about the miracles in your life makes you feel happy.

Please take the time to write about your miracles because you will feel better if you do.

Tips for Surviving Game Day

 

With football season in full swing and countless excuses about eating nachos and wings and why we don’t have time to eat healthy. Let’s take a moment to reconsider the connection between the game and the food we eat.

Snacks11

Hardly anyone needs to be told the following foods aren’t healthy.

  • Buffalo “anything”
  • Anything served with liquified cheese
  • Chips
  • Hot Dogs
  • Pizza
  • Chinese Appetizers

 

While there may be vegetables in a quesadilla, its not likely to offset what else is in it. Frankly many times the only green you can see on the table of “football food” is the green frosting(grass) on the football themed cupcakes.

Cupcake

It doesn’t have to be a nutritional train wreck.

When you get invited to a a friends house to watch the game there can be a lot of social pressure to not be the “party pooper” who doesn’t want to eat junk food. There’s teasing and “good natured” ribbing etc. that can make anyone feel like they can make an exception “this” time. There’s an exceptional article in this month’s issue of “Experience Life” Magazine that talks about one woman’s (Courtney Lewis Opdahl follow her blog Coming Clean) struggle with this issue in detail. There’s no doubt it can be difficult but it’s not impossible and it can have a positive effect on the people you care about.

It can be hard to feel like the odd ball, especially among friends, a lot of whom are less than sympathetic to your feelings. Embrace the way you choose to be. In his blog Zenhabits, Leo Babauta writes a great piece called “Overcoming the Social Costs of Being Different.”

Here’s what to do when your friends invite you over.

  1. Ask them what you can bring. If they say “nothing” or “we’re all set, just bring yourself,” simply tell them that you don’t feel comfortable coming empty handed which gives you permission to bring anything you want.
  2. Say “I’d love to come, I’ll bring the veggies/salad.” This way there’s at least one healthy choice on the table.
  3. I saw this recipe for insert recipe name I want to try. If you don’t have one in mind, try this recipe for loaded sweet potato skins or one of your own. There’s thousands of good recipes online. If all else fails or the cooking doesn’t go well, you can always stop at the supermarket and on the way over.

It takes willpower and perhaps a little courage at first but you can do it and in my experience, most of the time people appreciate it and over time may even adopt some of your healthful ways.

Good Luck

Who’s Deciding What You Should Look Like?

We get it. Belly fat is undesirable.Is our view of what we should look like realistic? When you look around, do you see any people that look like the cover models?

If you said yes, I want to live where you live. 

On a serious note. What you get out of your body is very much a product of what you put into it. This isn’t about what you should eat or which exercises are going to get rid of your love handles. Those are 3 consecutive issues from 2 different years.

Its a simple call to action. There’s no magic pill, not yet anyway. There isn’t an easy way. Walking isn’t going to reduce belly fat.

If you want to lose belly fat develop a plan that you can stick to.

Start walking every day at lunch and eating 3-5 servings of vegetables a day would be a good start. It won’t happen over night but if you are consistent you will start to see results and before you know it your plan will become habit and then you can take the next step. 

I read about mobile phone app called “Streaks” for tracking how many days in a row you do something. It’s totally customizable so you can make the topics whatever you want. I started with working out and reading at least 30 minutes a day. Honestly I didn’t think much of it but I have to admit, its surprisingly motivational to be able to open it up and check off the little box and see my streaks increase. It’s only been a few days but I quite enjoy using it. 

Remember, any distance can be covered one step at a time.

Awesome Avocado White Bean Dip

Avocado

If you like avocados you have to try this. Even if you don’t, whip it together the next time you’re entertaining. 

6 Ingredients

  • 1 Avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 Can of White beans
  • 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ground cayenne (optional)

Cooking Instructions:
  1. Add all of the ingredients except for 1 tablespoon of oil to your food processor:
  2. Blend until smooth…. EASY AS THAT!
  3. If necessary, drizzle as much of the remaining olive oil into the mixture while blending until smooth.

The Three Most Important Things not on your to do list

TodolistChances are that the average person’s “To Do” list includes various work related tasks, a few personal errands, maybe someone’s birthday or family related responsibilities. Are you like most of the people who put themselves at the end of the list of things to take care of? 

The top of your to do list should read, in fact, 3M should make post its that have these three items at the top followed by several empty lines.

  1. Eat nutrient dense food
  2. Hydrate
  3. Sleep

Nutrient dense food will be more filling and provide your body with much needed energy. The very basics you should aim for 

Proper hydration improves the way your body functions by facilitating oxygen and nutrient transport to all the cells of our body.

  • Aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water every day

Sleeping more than 6 hours a night may improve

Once something becomes a habit it is simple, it’s something you just do. Adequate preparation is the key to nourishing yourself. When you eat well, properly hydrate and get enough rest, you are more productive.

I said simple, not easy.

When we fail to adequately prepare we rely on our over tired, undernourished body to remember what we need/want to get done. We rely heavily on caffeine and fast food, eat on the run and grab what we can whenever we can and develop undesirable habits.

Starting as soon as you can, prioritize the three things that will make the rest of your to do list more attainable. In his book “The Power of Less” Leo Babauta says break long term goals into actionable daily or weekly steps and focus on one thing at a time.

Start putting nutrition, hydration or sleep goals on your “to do” list and you’ll be on your way to creating good habits and greater productivity today.  
 

We’re Going Streaking!

How we spend our “free” time is a choice. “But I don’t have any free time,” you say. We may like to think we don’t, but even the busiest people find time for the things they love.
 
I know from my own experience that when I am productive I feel good, I’m filled with positive energy and optimism. Conversely when I am unproductive I feel badly and my head can fill with self directed frustration. 
 
Our lives are filled with good times and bad. I’ve heard hundreds of stories about great achievements that require focus and discipline. I’ve heard thousands of rationalizations, reasons, and excuses why something didn’t happen. I’ve made my share of them so I include my own achievements and excuses among the group.
 
Every person has their own definition of productivity and it can vary substantially. 
 
Here’s a few examples of things that make me feel energized.
spending time with my family and kids
getting a good night sleep
reading
exercise
eating nutritious food
sharing a client breakthrough
 
What makes you feel productive? Do you know? Make a list of 10 things that fill you with energy and optimism? Once you have that list, figure out how many of them you have time, or can make time for. The goal should be to make the list as long as possible and fit as many items as possible from the list into your life. 
 
My point here is that you have a choice. Knowing what makes you feel good is the first step. Next choose something both important to you and realistic and start a streak. There’s an mobile phone app called “streaks” with a calendar that tracks how many days in a row you’ve done something. Making that checkmark is like a little victory every day.
 
In his book “The Power of Less” Leo Babauta recommends focusing on one thing at a time. Start with one thing and see it through. Most likely everything on the list is important to you but start with one.
 
The longer your streak the better your feel so what are you waiting for? Make your list and START STREAKING TODAY!!!