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Let’s Make Change Easy: 8 Simple Ways


To effect positive change is not as easy as we’d like to think it is. Most people (as not to say all) think of changing to the better one way or another. We think of changing our life style, overcome bad habits or kick in new ones, acquire new skills, or change the way we think, the way we look, react, or behave. We even consider changing our situations and dream of things to happen, but dreams remain mere fantasies. Many times we rightfully postpone the decision until we resolve some other battles first, but we never cross that bridge. At other times, the need becomes beefier and, finally, a shift to action from complaining takes over. We take the first step towards that bridge.

The impetus to change can be triggered by external or internal forces. External forces can be enticing; pushing us or pulling us to seek change. It could be someone else inspiring (or even threatening), or it could simply be an attractive other situation. The more powerful motivator stems from within. No doubt extreme dissatisfaction (and many times pain) can push us more forcefully towards change. And how many times do we wait to hit bottom before deciding that something should be done?

In all cases, change is not simple despite our highest motivation. It means we have to put in some effort; to give up an easier old pattern of living. Leaving the familiar and changing the status quo could be terrifying; so is stretching beyond our comfort of zone. What we need to keep in mind is that the catalyst of change is a moment of decision followed by commitment to effect that change. The “stretching” further can be facilitated through the following 8 simple steps:

  1. Identify what you want to change in a positive manner (your ultimate goal as opposed to what you don’t want). Make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Timed). Work backwards in creating the baby steps (mini goals) to simplify it and keep track.
  2. In writing, list the benefits and reasons for change. This wraps change in a sense of urgency. You need plenty of arguments to outnumber any resistance in expending the effort. Get clear on the advantages and how your life will be transformed. You need to appeal to your cognitive mind. And when that takes place, it starts to “feel right”. Eventually, it will similarly appeal to your emotions.
  3. Observe a role model who has already gone through the process of change. This enables perceiving that what you aim for is doable not impossible. Model what that person did and save yourself some “trial and error” attempts.
  4. Build on your own achievements. You surely have had a success (most likely many) of some sort in the past. Remember those times. Self-coach and self-motivate as hard as you can (see step 8 if you can’t do it on your own).
  5. Visualize yourself “as if” already having changed (how you behave, look like, the whole situation, etc…). The brain doesn’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined. This is a process of instilling a new pattern and it takes time to replace the old one. Fake it till you make it.
  6. Pay conscious attention to your self-talk; to how you’re behaving or feeling. It’s easy to be guided by that same old autopilot and this is where most of the effort resides. You are now on a new mission.  Keep reminding yourself of your new purpose.
  7. Reward yourself on achievements periodically. We do have a tendency to forget to celebrate. “Little wins” and those baby steps have to be acknowledged. These are great motivators. Capitalize on such positive emotions.
  8. Hire someone who can give you an extra push to make it happen. Yes, pay for the service of a coach or therapist (I’m not advertising my services here J Naaah J ). The idea that you’re investing some money in the change process psychologically makes you feel obliged. You also have multiple other benefits beyond discussion here (a change in perspective, a listener, a cheerleader to name a few)

And once change is implemented in one area, other things appear simpler to control. The process kicks in and the momentum snowballs. Gradually, the sense that you are able to turn things round to your advantage makes you more empowered. Change begets change and life fulfillment is but an escapade. The process continues; it’s not another blue- print. You may also need to consider maintaining the change by surmounting the inevitable obstacles you face. These need to be considered mere challenges that are part of your dynamic journey towards change. To those who didn’t know these steps, of course change wouldn’t seem easy. But now you know. Let’s make it easy….

Enjoy the Price Tag of Success: Keep Raising The Bar


“Success”…. Big word …. It can connote minor achievements like eliminating a bad habit, finding the right career, or even working out a good relationship to victory or recognition in a broader sense. It is true success can be a twist of fate sometimes, but mostly it characterizes the hardy ones. Those who plan, persist, take action, are focused, and constantly revise and ameliorate their strategies. It is a culmination of passion to what is being done. It typifies those who are determined to run the extra mile; those who endure the hardship and surpass the challenges. They resist being sidelined and refuse to live on the margins. They’re out there on a mission; determined to make a difference. And when they do claw their way to the top, it feels so good, but could it come at no repercussions? Probably not…..

You see, there’s a high price for success (a downside) despite its entire lure. To make it, the hard work entails incurring a physical tax and some psychological drainage. This is one reason why many would want to “play it safe” and not engage in the battle. Let’s consider those who become really noticed (i.e. prominent figures in their field, celebrities, etc…). They eventually become a smoking hot topic in circulation. They are either admired (by the mature), or resented (by the jealous). The latter category represents an additional toll. Successful people raise the bar; hence, become easy targets of envy, attacks, and undermining. If others are unable/don’t want to catch up with similar standards, they downplay the successful achievement by ignoring, searching for pitfalls and flaws, or vilifying. Those are considered the typical “kill-joy”.

Does that mean you give up attempts to thrive (even at minor matters)? Avoid all these costs? “To fly we have to have resistance” Maya Lin once said. Expect the “price tag” and along the way, take care not fall off the cliff edge. Keep in mind 3 detrimental expenses that can befall the unwary heading the path of great accomplishments: your relationships, your health, and your sanity:

 – Your relationships: Embrace those who admire you and don’t drift by deceit or arrogance. They look up to you as a leading example. Deal with those who envy you. Either ignore them as the nuisances coming with the new package, or team them up on your side. You can transform the battle from being combative to more cooperative strata.

–  Your health: Monitor your physical health routinely (take time to refuel). Too much hard work and focus can make you lose sight of bodily symptoms warnings. You need to intermittently fan the flames of your passion; and this only works if you’re physically fit to endure the battle. When signs of “strain” are not attended to, it can result in “burn-out”.

Your sanity: Above all keep your sanity in check. Emotional exhaustion from leading the battle can bleed you dry. You feel you want to chisel your success in stone, but fear of losing the achievement can enslave you; and the constant attacks can get to you. Resist attempts at isolation to escape it all. Expect, analyze, and arm yourself with insight at how things go and how best to cope. Make time for enjoyable activities and ask for a laugh here or there.

Lastly, with the above in mind, you don’t need to stay standing at the edge of life just because there’s a price tag to succeeding. Re-interpret the price of success from “paying” or “enduring” to “enjoying” the ride. The attraction is still out there. It still brings you a lot of satisfaction and admiration by the mature type. You’re a role model, an inspiration and a leader with many followers. Hard work cannot seep unnoticed. Yes…. Be there…. Illicit a “WOW! I want to be like that!” Keep raising the bar. And remember: “A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.” ~ David Brinkley. So, where do you want to make your mark?

Do You Want FOCUS? Try The “Mini Hulk” Exercise!


It has been said that around 65,000 thoughts cross our minds daily. It is no wonder, then, that we find many ideas wondering about in our psyche each calling for attention. Some of these seep into conscious awareness and succeed in being recognized; others just creep up to the surface and then retreat unnoticed. Normally you wouldn’t mind it, but if you’re pressed with time to have a specific mental task done, you find that the more you toss away irrelevant thoughts, the more they forcefully fly back. What needs to take an hour, is now consuming two. You can’t concentrate and that gets you more inundated. You may have too many things on your plate and there’s no running away from multi-tasking. You keep thinking of the next things you need to be doing, but you still haven’t finished what you’re working on. Whether you’re down the wire, or not, it is total absorption in an endeavor that differentiates those who are efficient from those who are not. They have insurmountable “focus”; always at the heart of what they do. So how can you stop this mental chatter?

 Here is an exercise I offer my students to help them through the drudgery of studying for multiple exams. You can use it for any other time consuming project that necessitates you to be both fast yet efficient in your mental capacities. The exercise takes you about 8 to 10 minutes, but it could save you hours of inefficiency. I use the analogy of the well proclaimed “Incredible Hulk” hero. You might have read about him in the comic magazines, or seen the movie. It’s about this scientist who upon trying to experiment accidentally becomes subject to radiation. Eventually, whenever his body is highly aroused, he gradually transforms into a green hulk with omnipotent physical powers. You need to have such mental invincible powers that render you all-too focused. No distractions; only full mastery and time efficiency. Why not make time to play a bit before the hard work? Let’s start:

 Sit in your work area and start visualizing that you are about to deploy and attract the entire world’s energy through the top of your head. That’s right…take it easy…. Focus… It’s all coming to you from different directions….pouring…. filling you up with green energy….That’s it…. You’re filling up from your toes, going up your legs, knees, thighs, up to your abdomen, chest, and spreading to your arms, hands, shoulders, neck, and up to your face. Your color has changed into green radiating energy and now you start transforming slowly…Each part of your body is growing and specifically your mind has doubled in size. It became immune to any noise’ and hears only the sound of your firm voice speaking affirmatively. Things like:

–          I will start now on this task and will stop only when I consciously decide to.

–          I have total focus on this and will be wading my way through with utmost energy.

–          I have put away all distractions (my mobile, my computer, turned off the landline phone, etc…). So, my internal force is the guiding hub for action now.

–          I will be doing a great job in having this done perfectly, in no time, and will have full mastery over this.

 Tailor your self-talk to the specific task you’re handling and keep talking. Imagine further that you have shut the doors to any extraneous thoughts that do not serve what you’re working on. Are these doors locked? Look at you…..Now you are the “Mini Hulk” and you can have that full focus you need. You have gong-ho pace and kick-ass energy. Start working on what you set your mind on doing.

 Take your time to do this mental exercise and then assess your focus. You’ll see the difference. You can also condition yourself to be in that state without taking those 8 – 10 minutes later on. In neuro-linguistic programming, it’s called “anchoring” yourself. That means, as you repeat the exercise a number of times, give yourself a pat on the shoulder at the end of each ritual (alternatively you can choose to say any word or statement you like; for instance I am a “Mini Hulk”). Simply associating that pat on the shoulder or that statement repeatedly at the end of the exercise would make a link in your mind. When you will it, and in no time at all, just give yourself that pat; and alone it would render you in that invincible state of focus without having to go through the process. It just needs some practice. Many of my students have implemented this exercise and reaped the benefits. Call it an investment. I call it a gift for all of you; would you turn it away?

 

The Multifold Power of Giving


How many times do you bend backwards attempting to do someone else a favor only it does not get reciprocated when you are the one in need? Does it happen often enough to discourage you from being a giving person? You wonder: This is not in line with the “norm of reciprocity” (i.e. the social expectation that people respond to each other in kind)? Consider this: the expectation that you receive back from the same person may be the norm, but never the rule. You will receive back in return; albeit, from multiple other sources. Don’t be reluctant to keep giving as you are bestowed at least ten fold. How is that possible, you ask? 

1. Giving feels good. You have been a positive impact. You took part in someone else’s life. In return, you reap a positive psychological reward (i.e. I am useful). Caution: buffer your disappointment by not expecting a repayment in kind. Do it for the sake of getting that “helper’s high”. 

2. Giving enhances your physical health. When you feel good psychologically, it feeds into your physiology. It is a known fact that psychological and physical states are interrelated.

 3. Giving others can offset being totally self-absorbed. That is very applicable in times of distress or even success. It is a distracter from over-indulgence in one’s own misery on one hand; and a source of redirecting the overflow of positive emotions to others in need on the other hand. Why hoard the pleasure of accomplishment to ones’ self? Share it.

 4. Giving fosters a sense of abundance. You are wealthy if you are able to provide and give. Have the conviction that your reservoir will not dry. Hey! “There’s more where that came from”. 

5. Giving shapes your life with meaning. Yes, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose. Giving is life enriching.

 6. Giving satisfies the need for social connections. We all have this need to connect with others; and sometimes those interactions are not so satisfactory. How about turning things round when that’s the case? Make your relationships and interactions beneficial one way or another?

 7. Giving makes you nicely remembered. We are not going to live forever (and that’s another fact). Ask yourself: How would I like to be remembered? Wouldn’t it be nice to leave positive prints behind?

 8. Giving can trigger a multitude of positive thoughts about yourself. Again, as long as you’re not expecting anything in return, your thoughts will rotate around those positive attributes you possess. You are charming in so many other ways.

 9. Giving entails superiority. You have the upper hand. It is your wish and will to do the things you do. Think of it as your choice; no one coerced you into doing anything.

 10. Giving characterizes those who are self-actualized (i.e. those who have reached their utmost psychological development like Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and Albert Einstein). Self-actualized people are only motivated by personal responsibilities and ethics; and not by what they receive in return.

 So, you see, giving spirals up into a great deal of life and self-satisfaction. I can think of many other alluring reasons for giving, but the above suffice to endorse it as a life philosophy. I am in awe when I hear of those who stretch their giving to that of self-transcendence. They give others because it makes them more fulfilled; they transcend the egocentric focus. They are so lucky to be there. Others give so much, but that has its bases in their “inability to say NO”. Giving becomes distressing, so one has to really consider if negative emotions surface. For me, I keep few things in mind as I adopt a giving attitude: it’s about being a positive influence. It is about the value it adds to my own personal growth and progress. I am able, then, to give back at least double what I receive…..

Guard Your Reputation With All Arms


oaktreeGlass, China, and Reputation, are easily cracked, and never well mended.
 ~ Benjamin Franklin

 

A quote well thought of indeed. Businesses, groups, and foundations all try to establish a cutting edge reputation to advance forward. Wouldn’t you, as an individual, work on developing your own reputation on both levels: personal (or perceived character) and professional (in terms of achievements)? Your reputation represents your social evaluation; and hence, constitutes a portion of your basic identity. Because you are not invisible and are bound by civil interactions, your reputation matters. Like it or not, it follows you like a shadow everywhere you go; consequently, is one of those assets you need to maintain well-polished.

 I started pondering about this concept as I observed an interaction that took place between one of my colleagues and her superior. The latter was aggressive, sarcastic, and haughty as she denounced my colleague with reprimand over a really trivial matter. I stood there speechless about the notorious image that superior was portraying. I wondered why she degraded her own personal worth as such despite being professionally at a competitive advantage. It made me realize that some of us don’t really care about having a well-rounded reputation. In some aspects, they act on whim and let themselves be driven by uncontrolled inner forces. A little thing like that told a lot about that supervisor. Despite the many finer professional qualities of her in hindsight, I couldn’t but become myopic and map the shortcomings of her in that brief encounter. If I am asked to assess her now, I would say: she is professionally outstanding, BUT…so and so…. That BUT, being said, negates anything that preceded :(.

 Have you ever considered that your reputation maybe the only immortal aspect you have? Not only do you form judgments of yourself, others similarly form an impression of you. These accumulate to form your reputation. It forms in the past, is maintained in the present, and continues to compound in the future. You will forever remain a target for evaluation, as people take short-cuts in describing the person you are. From mere chatting, to gossip, to scandals most people might entertain, warn, or take your case as an example as they converse. Keeping that in mind, you might as well plant the seed for a sound reputation and nourish it with your attitudes and behaviors. It’s not something ephemeral; rather, becomes like an oak tree taking years to grow, but once well-rooted, stands tall and endures.   

  Some people are not concerned with social evaluation. So what if I deviate from social norms this one time, or do the things that I consider right despite opposing social consent – some would be tempted to say. Ones reputation is very fragile and it would take painstaking efforts to restore a crack there. I, personally, would rather remain alert and guard my reputation with both hands. My reputation determines how others will relate to me in any role I partake. I do care about being consistently held in high esteem. My reputation is among the few things I’ll pass on to my off-springs. I do care about nourishing that oak tree – strong, enduring, and ever green. I live with others and for others.  I, therefore, formulate a set of standards to abide by in my behaviors and deeds; would you want to do the same too? After all, don’t you think Benjamin Franklin was right when he said:

 

It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

I Got Promoted… Oh, Shsh-t!!


              A dear friend of mine recently got promoted to the position of the CEO of this reputable huge firm. I met with her just yesterday to discuss the great news only to find out that she was terrified by the news. Shock waves of worry were still coloring her perception of her pinnacle  professional accomplishment. Instead of being a chest-thumping Tarzan, she was dejected. I found her gritting her teeth mulling about the tantalized situation that firm was in. She thought that the prospects of enacting a directional shift towards growth were poor as demonstrated by the successive CEOs handling that same post. I saw things differently; and started dissecting with her the different aspects of her worries. She was disempowering herself with negative thoughts and bleak attributes of the situation; and that needed to change. She can’t decline such an opportunity and has all the right to worry, but whining about the problems surrounding her added responsibility did not serve her much. We first changed the term “problems” into “concerns”. We then started focusing on how to dissolve or solve those concerns. She had already begun that, and as we sat there more solutions surfaced.

                  Our dialogue led to an attempt at adopting a more empowering stance; thus, allowing more reign for positive thoughts. What she needed more than ever, now, was to muster all her energy and arm her self with few pivotal basics:

a) Faith. Fate/life (not the board members) has chosen her to have this post. There is something precious in there for her (a lesson, a reward, or an experience). She needs to trust what the cosmic energy is giving her! It is meant for a reason. A more “let’s look at it as a challenge” stance is to be adopted. Why not explore the marvels of having achieved and have a taste of being there at the top? She has worked real hard for a post that by now she deserves. She has all the expertise and the right credentials.

b) Positive beliefs about her yourself. Henry ford once said: “Believe you can, and you can; believe you can’t and you’re right”; and this is not just a quote. Accumulated research suggests that those who believe in themselves (and their capabilities) do succeed; those who are hesitant and are doubtful don’t often make it. Even if she had doubts in some areas, she is better off in focusing on what she is good at. Weak areas can often be delegated to subordinates to handle, or rectified with time.

c) Knowledge. She needs to get hold of all sorts of information needed for that new post. A gradual expansion of her knowledge data base was a requirement now more than ever. She needed to allow herself sometime to recap on filling the necessary gaps. She can’t possibly know all the details in the world, but can surely be selective. A supportive team can be the perfect back up providing her with the required essentials.

d) Experts, family, & friends: She, lastly, would need to contact those who were in a similar position and learn from their mistakes. Consultations with field experts were to be prioritized; Furthermore, modeling professionally the success stories of prominent figures would be an asset and a good guideline. At the same time, she needed to stay surrounded by family members and friends. She now needs additional eyes and ears to redirect her once she drifts away with the added responsibility. Family members and friends love her; and she needs to be open to their suggestions on a personal level.

                In addition to equipping herself with the above resources, she needed to utilize additional strategies to succeed on her new endeavor. Our discussion touched on:

1. Having a clear vision of what that new role entails. Moreover, it was important for her to establish the legacy she wanted to leave behind. All outstanding organizations have clearly stated “Vision” and “Mission” statements. They hang these everywhere. Why wouldn’t the same apply on us as people? She needed to write these in her journal. It facilitates goal setting in order to achieve the mission. Research suggests that 97% of those who achieve their goals actually write these down. It keeps one focused and organized. No one has to be overly rigid once the goals are specified (reassessment and revision can be undertaken as the need arises). Clarity is a key to success.

2. Added responsibility might lead to over-working herself. She needed to keep an eye on “her-self” as a person (with all her extended roles as mother, wife, friend, etc…..). No one on his/her death-bed ever wished having worked more. All regret the precious moments not spent with loved ones. Some work-family balance needs to be struck and stays in check.

               We discussed more specifics that worried my dear friend; and addressed each in sundry ways. When one impregnates action steps to any area of concern, the seeds of more solution focused coping emerges. It’s OK to acknowledge worries, but more importantly to process these and de-emphasize their grandiosity. As my friend and I departed, I deeply wished my friend to have become more galvanized to face a “challenge” not a “nightmare” as she perceived it to be. I assured her of lending my full support. I know it is really difficult to coach friends, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to be there with my “coach hat” on. As I mentally reviewed the points we discussed, I considered these applied not only to the case of her promotion per se, but to handling our professional roles any time along the way of progress…..

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