How To Get It All

There is a fundamental success principle: What we focus on expands.

  • When we focus on what’s working in our lives, we get more of what’s working.
  • When we focus on what’s good, we get more of what’s good.
  • When we focus on our blessings, we get more of what blesses us.

Of course the principle works in the inverse as well.

  • When we focus on what’s not working in our lives, we get more of what doesn’t work.
  • When we focus on what we don’t want or like in our lives, we get more of what we don’t want or like.
  • When we focus on the negative, more negative stuff shows up.

This is the law of attraction at work in its most powerful sense.

So here’s how to get it all: Be grateful.

Focus on the good.

I start every coaching session with these questions: What’s been working well? Where have your ‘wins’ been since we last talked?

And a practice that will absolutely transform your life? A gratitude journal. Every day, writing down three things that you’re grateful for.

We all have things to be grateful for, regardless of our circumstances, regardless of our challenges: our hearts that beat in our chests; our lungs that breathe in the air; our minds that have the capacity to process information faster than any super computer on earth; the sun that rises every day to warm us; the rains that fall gently on the earth to sustain us. We do nothing to deserve these; and yet they are blessings beyond measure. 2013-11-19 03.14.37

Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Surrounded as we are by the demands of our work, the stressors that overwhelm us, the inescapable economic pressures, and the global turmoil of politics and terror, it’s easy to become pessimistic, it’s easy to ‘go negative.’

But there is so much beauty in the world. So much to be hopeful about. So much to be grateful for.

Deepak Chopra teaches: “Gratitude is the doorway to abundance.”

And it is.

So today, and every day: Have an attitude of gratitude. And you will have it all.

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This is an encore of a post first published on November 28, 2103.

How Many People Are In Your Shower?

Mindfulness is mainstream it seems.

CBS. 60 Minutes. Anderson Cooper. Doesn’t get more mainstream than that.

It’s a movement, Cooper says.

I’m not sure about that. But I sure hope so.

Because, you see, culturally, we’ve lost our focus; we’ve lost our edge.

We’ve lost our ability to be present; to be here now.

We dwell in a state of distraction.

We’ve become addicted to forward motion; we keep on going like hamsters on a wheel.

We’ve become addicted to the stimulation and outside input, checking and re-checking our smartphones and our tablets and our emails; responding incessantly to the phone calls and messages and notifications and alerts. Overwhelmed and inundated by the expectations and the deadlines and the demands, endeavoring to pay attention to everything and succeeding only at a continuous partial attention.

We’ve become addicted, as Jim Collins, author of that wonderful business book, Good to Great, says… we’ve become addicted to the undisciplined pursuit of more.

The greatest crisis of our age is not terror in the world; it is the terror that we allow within ourselves.

The greatest crisis of our age is not that we don’t have enough, but that we have too much: too much information; too much noise; too much stimulation; too much to do.

The greatest crisis of our age is that we have lost touch with that that place of quiet, that still point within us.

We’ve lost the capacity to create space for ourselves.

We’ve lost the capacity to sit still, to be still, to know the beauty and the grandeur of the here and now.

We’ve lost the capacity to be: To just be.

Mindfulness calls us to slow down; to stop; to show up in this moment; to be present.

To be. Here. Now.

Mindfulness is fitness for the brain. It is a powerful tool that allows us to laser focus our attention; and beat overwhelm.

Cooper, on 60 Minutes, interviewed the grand daddy of the mindfulness movement, Jon Kabat Zinn. Zinn’s seminal book: Wherever You Go There You Are.

Zinn, who has been at it for forty years, teaches that mindfulness is simple (simple, not easy as Jim Rohn was fond of saying). It’s about being aware of where you are, of what you’re doing in this moment, of being aware of your breath, of focusing in the present moment itself… rather than constantly thinking about the next one… and the next (Zinn, only half jokingly, says that when we live continuously focused on the next moment, we miss the present, only to end up dead.)

He says we wake up thinking about our calendars, our appointments, of all the things we have to do, rather than to appreciate the fact that we’ve woken to a new day of our one and only life. Screenshot 2014-12-16 19.04.50

We get into the shower… and rather than just enjoying the shower with all of its wonderful attendant sensations, we think about all the people we need talk to and see. And suddenly, in that moment, we’re no longer alone in the shower. But rather unwittingly, we’ve invited that entire rabble into shower with us.

Perhaps it’s time to shower alone?

Naughty or Nice

Make your list; and check it twice.

Decide what’s naughty… and what’s nice. Screenshot 2014-12-08 19.29.57

I’m not talking about your Christmas list or your holiday card list or your To-Do list.

No, I’m talking about your most important list of all: your Stop Doing List.

We get caught up in the myriad tasks we have; we lose ourselves in the vortex. We forget that, as Mark Devine, author of The Way of the Seal, says, there are really only a few “high value” targets.

Think Pareto. Old Vilfredo was an economist. He was also a gardener. One day, Pareto looked out at his peas and made a stunning discovery: 20% of his peapods had 80% of the peas. Well Pareto, being the intellectual that he was, decided to explore whether this ratio could be found in areas other than his garden. And lo, the Pareto Principle, also know as the 80/20 rule, was born.

Here’s what’s true: 20% of your clients lead to 80% of your profits; 20% of your products are responsible for 80% of your revenues;  20% of your team is responsible for 80% of sales; 20% of your efforts yield 80% of your outcomes. (And, oh, by the way: 20% of your customers cause 80% of your headaches!)

So why not focus on that significant 20%… and chuck the rest?

Think back over the last year. There are certain efforts that didn’t yield any measurable results. Stop doing them. There were certain networking functions that didn’t yield any real viable leads. Stop going to them. There were certain customers that were way too high maintenance (or dangerous) to work with. Stop working with them.

Now think back to the last holiday season: There were certain gatherings you went to that left you wondering why you ever went. Don’t go back this year. There were certain functions that left you feeling drained and down. Don’t do them again. There were certain toxic, soul-sucking people that were just unpleasant to be around. Stay away from them!

Just because you’ve done something before doesn’t mean that you should keep on doing it.

Stop running around giving everything the same level of import.

Focus on what matters most. Focus on what’s high value.

Apply Pareto. Ruthlessly.

Make your Stop Doing List. Today.

I’d hate to have to send you coal.

Cruel To Be Kind

It was a pretty hefty litany of challenges.

“If one of your team came to you with this long, sad story,” I asked, “what would you say?”

“I’d say to her… take the rest of the day off. In fact, take a long weekend. Do what you need to do to take care of you; and feel better.”

I paused to let it seep in. “So can you do that for yourself?” I asked.

My colleague, a c-level exec, had come to me for some coaching. She was struggling with illnesses in her family, and challenges in her business. She had been “on” for a long time. She hadn’t been getting enough sleep. She had been doing little to nurture herself. She was worn down, stressed out and spread thin. There was nothing left.

“Yes,” she said. “I can do that. I don’t know why I couldn’t see that that’s exactly what I need to do.”

It’s because, as entrepreneurs and professionals, we are often harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We hold ourselves to incredibly high standards; even higher than those we hold for our people. We demand of ourselves sustained, uninterrupted peak performance. We are highly intolerant of our own weaknesses; and unforgiving of our shortcomings. We drive ourselves longer, harder and faster than we would ever reasonably expect of others.

And then we wonder why we’re flagging; why we’re flailing; why we’re not making progress; why we can’t get traction; why we’re stuck; why we’re not meeting our goals.

We can’t seem figure out what’s gone wrong.

Because we’re in our own way.

Taking care of ourselves, nurturing ourselves, being kind to ourselves… these are core success principles! The basic fuel. Screenshot 2014-12-02 19.00.11

For me this means adhering to my basic daily practices: my running, my journaling, my sitting meditation. It means eating well; and getting lots of sleep. It means going off the grid on a regular basis because, as an introvert, that’s how I recharge. And it means taking lots of time off to re-ground and re-create.

You already know what you need to do for you. The trick is to acknowledge that doing so is not wasteful but, rather essential to the work you do in the world.

Of course, like everyone, I drive too hard, and fall off the cart from time to time. (We teach what we most need to know!).

But I’ve learned that we can be cruel to ourselves… or be kind.

And kind works out so much better. For everyone.