When 1 = 0

Who are you without the striving? Who are you when you’re not accomplishing?

Who are you when you’re not busy?

Many of my executive coaching clients feel anxious and untethered if they’re not in the thick of it, if they’re not juggling a multiplicity of projects, if they’re not moving at the speed of light. Their coach too. Birds of a feather and all of that.

One of my very favorite books is The One Thing: The Surprising Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller. Gary postulates that Pareto – the dude who came up with the 80/20 rule – that idea that 20% of our efforts lead to 80% of our outcomes – was overly generous. Gary suggests that, in most circumstances, there is just One Thing that matters.

The question that he recommends for consideration is this: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

I came back to my Hillside in Ireland after two weeks in the States. Nine cities. Two transatlantic flights. My body and my mind were buzzing. I was depleted, exhausted, fried. Yet, I had dozens of things that needed and wanted my attention; people that I needed to connect with; and events that I had to prepare for.

I got out my journal and starting writing frantically: What’s the one thing? What is the one thing? For god’s sake, what is the one thing? quotescover-JPG-74

I couldn’t focus. My mind swirled.

And, then, almost as if I were on a Ouija board, I found myself writing: “The one thing is no thing.”

I needed to rest; to recover; to sleep; to be. To do nothing.

Stephen Covey calls it sharpening the saw, “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you.”

The one “habit” that is most challenging to “do” for achievers.

But sometimes 1 = 0.

Wealth Beyond Measure

On my first day at the Big Firm, I walked into my new office and there on my polished mahogany desk was a stack of time sheets. And on top of the time sheets, my mentor had left a little yellow sticky note that said, “Remember, your time sheet is your Bible.”

“Time is what we sell,” he would remind me. And like many young lawyers, I became obsessed with the billable hour, neurotic about capturing my time, measuring myself (and my worth) in tenths and quarters of hours. Driven to inquire in every moment, “Is it billable?”

Happily I have left the billable hour behind. But I realize that my mentor wasn’t completely nuts.

Time is all we have. clock-melting-salvador-dahli

I picked up my friend Kevin at the quay; he had anchored his beautiful sloop out in the harbor of the tiny village in Ireland where we spend half the year. Kevin is about 10 years older than me; and about a decade ago he had cashed in his chips from a career in financial advising, bought a sailboat and sailed to the Caribbean; then, single handed, had sailed across the Atlantic to Ireland.

“How are you?” I asked.

Kevin looked directly into my eyes and grinned. “Wealthy,” he said.

I didn’t quite know what he meant… had he hit the lottery?… had he made a great play in the market?… so I let the statement just hang in the air for a moment… .

Kevin’s eyes sparkled. “I am wealthy in time,” he said.

Those of us who are driven to succeed (yes, of course, I’m talking to myself here too) often measure our self worth by our net worth. We forget that wealth is not just about our bank accounts. It’s about our health and wellness, about the quality of our relationships; it’s about our spiritual and emotional grounding, and our capacity to reflect; it about the lives we touch, and about the impact we are making in the world.

It’s about how we value and spend our time. As Annie Dillard writes, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

We’ve come to the last quarter of the year. How will you spend it? What will the bottom line look like for you when you come to the end?

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And while we’re at it, HOW is 2016 shaping up? Would you like to make it your best year ever? If you’re ready to take your business, your career, and your life to a whole new level, let’s have a conversation and see if coaching might make sense for you. Email me at: walt@walthampton.com

Why You Need To Act Out

One of my fondest memories from my early years as a young single dad is of watching my boy, clad in his yellow slicker and red rubber boots, stomping in the puddles, standing in the rain. He always liked being out in the ‘mess’ of it all. Still does, I dare say.

Being out in the mess, of course, is where the action is; where it’s all happening; where our lives unfold.

Not in the house; not where it’s warm; not where it’s dry and safe.

Out there. Out on the field.

Out where it’s rough and tumble and muddy.

Out where it’s cold and wet… Out where we might get hurt.

It’s always interesting when coaching clients come to me with things they say they want to do: projects they say want to pursue; goals they say they want to achieve; and these ‘things’ they say they want to do have lived in their heads, in their minds and in their hearts… often for years… decades sometimes… as thoughts… as hopes … as ideas… as wishes.

Of course, all great things start in our minds and hearts. There wouldn’t be an electric light bulb or Sistine Chapel or car or democracy or computer or iPhone were it not for an idea that once lived only in someone’s consciousness.

The tricky part is that next step.

The tricky part is getting out there and doing something.

The tricky part is: Taking Action.

There’s a reason that comfort zones are called that…. They’re pretty damn comfy. Not much is at risk. It’s easy imagining a new relationship or a fresh career. It’s fun to think about being a published author or an award-winning photographer. The idea of an advanced degree or a successful business is alluring… and exciting.

Doing the work: That’s messy.

And overwhelming.

We fear discomfort. We fear failure. We fear criticism. We fear judgment.

We fear change.

We fear success.

And our fears keep us small. They keep us ‘safe’ in the warm, comfy, cozy house that is our mind.

As long as we entertain ourselves with the ideas, as long as we pretend that we’re going to get to it… someday… as long as we delude ourselves that, when the time is right, when the ‘conditions’ are right, then somehow fool we ourselves into believing that we’re actually doing something.

Except that we’re not.

And time goes by… and one year dissolves into the next. And the delusion stays just that.

Here’s the truth: It’s NEVER the right time to act. Conditions will NEVER be ideal. The time will NEVER be right.

There will ALWAYS be reasons not pursue your hopes and dreams and aspirations.

And the clock WILL run out.

The time to act is now.

To overcome overwhelm, to combat fear: Take tiny steps. Really tiny steps. If you want to lose weight, work at losing one pound a week. If you want to start a running program, run around the block. If you want to explore a new career, take a one-week workshop. If you want a new degree, take a course, just one course. If you want to write a book, write a page (or half a page) a day.

A pound a week is 50 pounds in twelve months time. A page a day is a pretty hefty book in a year.

And how fast a year flies by.

Consistency is key. Staying at it… every day… no matter what. Braving the cold, the wet, the fear, the judgment, the discomfort.untitled

An accountability partner helps. Forming a mastermind or peer group might be good. Or maybe you would benefit from a coach. But whatever you need to do to create your ideal life, to make your dreams come true, do it!

Get it out of your head and into your life.

Make it real.

Act out. Now.

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I will have ONE opening in my Inner Circle Coaching program beginning in November, one-on-one coaching that will take your business and your life to a whole new level. Does it have your name on it? Email me and we will set aside some time to see if the time is right for you. walt@walthampton.com

It Costs Too Much

I like to pretend that I can multitask. Except that I really can’t.

No one can. It’s not physiologically possible.

Certain repetitive, habitual type things, of course, can get done at the same time, like tying your shoes while carrying on a conversation. But two or more things that require focused attention simply can’t be done at once.

What happens, really, when we attempt to do two things at the same time, is that we handle them sequentially; our brains toggle between the tasks.

Some of us can toggle fast. Screenshot 2014-10-07 07.50.36

I’m a really fast toggler.

But there’s a huge cost to toggling.

There’s an energetic cost. It’s wearing to toggle. We end up feeling tired and overwhelmed when we’ve spent our day toggling.

There’s an acuity cost to toggling. It’s not possible to focus well when we’ve got a lot of balls in the air. We make mistakes when we toggle; sometimes catastrophic ones.

There’s a time cost to toggling. Studies show that it takes anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes to re-attend to a task once we’ve been distracted by another task. We’re actually less efficient when we toggle.

There’s a productivity cost to toggling. When we’re trying to do lots of stuff, few things get done to completion; and little gets done well. We’re actually accomplishing less when we toggle, not more.

There’s a human cost to toggling. Toggling causes us to be fragmented, distracted and superficial in our relationships. We fail to show up; we fail to be present; we fail to listen deeply. We dishonor our connection with one another when we toggle.

Toggling causes us to live in a state of continuous partial attention. Distracted. Stressed out. Spread thin. Mentally blurred.

“Deep thinking demands sustaining a focused mind,” Goleman writes in his bestseller Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

Peak performers know the power of focus; they harness the power of attention.

They do just one thing; the most important thing. And then they do the next thing. And the next.

If you want to be a peak performer – or if you only want to restore some sense of sanity to your life – stop multitasking.

It costs way too much.

Take A Shower

Take a shower; or a warm bath. Walk in the woods; or along the beach. Sit in a Jacuzzi; or in a rocker. Watch the sunrise, or set; or both.

Get away. Away from the overwhelm.

Get out of your office, out of the maelstrom, out of your head; get off the grid, off the wheel; turn off the alerts, shut down the phone.

Put aside the to-do list; and the demands. Let the worries go; and the tensions.

Allow your mind… and your body… to relax.

Just be.

Here. Now. In this moment.

It may be that reflection has gone out of fashion. It’s certainly counter-cultural. Our model of success is to work longer, harder, faster. And yet the science shows that slowing down and stepping back actually boosts performance.

Think about it: Your best ideas don’t come when you’re stressed out and spread thin, driving forward at breakneck speed, wrapped up tight in Gordian knots.

They come to you when your mind is at ease.

Those moments of ah-ha; that grand vision for your life; that new product; that problem solved; that chapter written. They happen in those quiet moments; that place of peace.

So open up that space for yourself. Often. Screenshot 2014-10-01 07.51.23

Give that gift to yourself.

And to the world.

Because in that space – in that stillness – is your power.