The Thing About Barney

He sat at the bar, a Guinness to his left, next to a neatly stacked sheaf of paper. With an expensive looking pen in his hand, he wrote. Longhand. Slowly. Deliberately. With care. From time to time, he would stop and appear to ponder and reflect, sip from his Guinness, and write some more. A letter clearly; to whom, I couldn’t say.

He wasn’t more than 30, clean cut, nicely dressed. But this behavior… so aberrant; so weird!

No tablet. No computer. No smartphone.

Just a pen and some paper. (And a Guinness.)

So jarring to us was this sight that we called him over to our table as he was leaving the pub.

Barney was his name.

Barney was a visitor to our little village in Co. Cork. He grandfather had bought a place some 50 years ago. And Barney liked to come to enjoy the solitude, he said.

“And what about this (weird) writing thing?” I inquired.

“I like how it feels,” he said. “I like how I get to really think about what I want to say. I love that it takes time. And that it goes off in the post; and someone gets to open it and hold it in their hands and read it.”

We had a wonderful conversation with Barney on those lost arts of writing and connecting and deep communication that have been subsumed by email and text messaging.

Barney is a rarity (an oddity?) indeed.

There is a never-ending, ever-growing panoply of methods to communicate what you’re doing and how you’re feeling at any given moment.quotescover-JPG-27

I am a lover of technology. It allows me to live and work and serve my clients anywhere in the world I might be. I don’t want to be a Barney. But I do want to connect powerfully, meaningfully and deeply. And that’s difficult to do when we’re always on.

It is the great paradox of connection: That more hyper-connected we are, the more scattered and fragmented and disconnected we become.

So here are some recommendations on how to reclaim a sense of well-being, without resorting to being a Barney:

  • Pick a primary mode of communication. Unless you live in a little village in Ireland and have no clients or business interests to serve, it won’t likely be the post. But there is nothing more disconcerting to have a chain of communication that starts as a message on LinkedIn, continues as an email, and then morphs into a series of texts or Facebook messages. Putting aside the “paper trail” necessary in business communication, this is just crazy making and an invitation to error. You teach people how to treat you and how to work with you. Teach them a way that leaves you sane.
  • Be deliberate. Just because your technology allows you to communicate instantly, doesn’t mean you have to. You can take the time, like Barney, to slow down, to think and reflect on exactly what it is you want to say. It’s ok to step back, allow the dust to settle, formulate your thoughts, and get clear on your desired outcomes.
  • Don’t check your email (or smartphone) constantly. On average, folks check 150 times a day. There’s a huge time cost to doing this. Recent research suggests that we are interrupted (or interrupt ourselves) every 3 minutes of the day; and that it takes at least 11 minutes for us to refocus, to re-attend to the task that we were doing. If this is true, not only do you have the sensation, the feeling, that you can never catch up, you actually never really do!
  • Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Your email inbox is someone else’s agenda for your day. If you are clear on what you value most and what your high value targets are for your day, do those things first. No one dies if your email waits until mid-morning.
  • Go off the grid. Experience what is like to not be hyper-connected. Connect with yourself; connect with those you love. Have a tech-free dinner; a tech-free weekend; maybe even a tech-free vacation. Talk! Read, write, reflect. Reclaim that still point within you. In that stillness is your power.

Our businesses and our lives rise and fall on our relationships. And as humans, we are hard-wired for connection. But real connection doesn’t happen in a 140 characters or via Snapchat.

I don’t want to be Barney. But he’s definitely onto something.

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Are you ready to become more deliberate with your career, your business and your life? Let’s connect. Really connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

I Almost Needed An Enema

We prescribe the medicine all the time to our clients: Take regular breaks. Take time off. Take your vacations. All of them.

You’re not a machine. You can’t go 24/7/365.

You can’t focus on your work to the exclusion of everything else.

You can’t stay at the net responding to constant expectations and demands, responding incessantly to emails and text messages and notifications and alerts.

You can’t play full out day after day without a break.

You wouldn’t run a high performance car for 10,000 miles without a pit stop; without changing the oil; without switching out the tires; without letting the engine cool.

Except that’s what way too many of us do.

Because busy has become a badge of honor. Busy means something. Busy means that we’re important; that we’re significant; that we’re  indispensable.

We buy into the cultural lie that to be successful, we need to be busy; that we need to work more; that we need to work longer, harder, faster; and that to do otherwise somehow means that we’re weak or not motivated or not a team player.

We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us,” Brené Brown suggests.

Because to stop opens up an existential abyss.

Who are we really if we are not doing and achieving?

So we keep going. Like hamsters on a wheel.

Because we are afraid to stop.

And the collateral damage is huge.

We lose the capacity to create space for ourselves.

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

We lose touch with that place of quiet, that still point within us.

We lose the capacity to be: To just be.

So the medicine to stop is a critical component of our well being.

Not only because it is essential to peak performance (indeed, peak performers in the arts, entertainment and athletics often focus on their work for only 4 or 5 hours a day); but even more important because it is necessary for a life that is rich and full and joyful.

But, as we discovered once again, how challenging it is to pull out of the habit of busy.

Just another week; or another quarter, we told ourselves.

There are clients to serve, coaches to train, books to write, workshops to teach,

What will we miss if we go off the grid? What balls will we drop? Who will we disserve?

We stayed at it for far too long. Months without a meaningful break.

Dishing out the medicine with reckless abandon; and not taking it ourselves.

Until exhausted and depleted we finally did. (And thankfully without resorting to any unnecessary means of prescriptive application.)

We’re on our bicycles in the south of France. Staying in cozy ancient villages. Eating bread and cheese; and drinking wine.

Reveling in the open space.

Feeling the wind and the sun.

Soaking in the quiet.

Connecting with one another; and with ourselves.

So that we can come home again rested and renewed to the do the work we love.

“How are you doing with your medicine?” he asks, reminded and chastised.

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My call to action for this weeks blog: Don’t email me. Just stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Out Your Trash

For nearly three decades, a dear friend of mine was a flight attendant on a major airline flying long-haul routes. He would tell this funny story: At the end of an especially long, customer service-challenged flight, when they would come down the aisle for that last time with the garbage bags, saying “your trash, your trash,” what they were really thinking (and actually saying), was “you’re trash, you’re trash!”

This post is not about the joys of flying. It is, however, about your trash. Your head trash, that is.

Because, your head trash is what keeps you stuck; it’s what keeps you from launching your business, writing your book, advancing your career, getting in shape, finding a mate, speaking your truth; it’s what keeps you from sharing your gifts with the world; it’s what keeps you from living your very best life.

Your head trash are those voices in your head that whisper to you: Screenshot 2016-05-11 17.23.03

  • I’m not ready
  • I’m not enough
  • I’m not worthy
  • I need more training
  • I need more experience
  • I need a degree
  • I need another certification

And no one escapes them.

Tony Robbins suggests that the two primary questions that every human being struggles with are: “Am I enough?” and “Will I be loved?”

Brené Brown, in her beautiful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, says that every single one of us comes face to face with self-doubt; that every single one of us questions our worth; that no one escapes that worry that someone will find out that we are a fraud.

So… recognizing that you’re not that “special,” that you’re not alone, that every single one of us struggles; every single one of us confronts these fears and doubts… the only relevant question then is this: What are you going to do now?

Even in the face of fear and doubt: What action will you take? What commitment will you make?

The time will never be right. You will never feel ready. There will always be more that you could do.

But the clock is ticking; and the world is waiting for you.

Don’t waste another moment.

Step up. Step out. Get busy. Start now.

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Want to get started? Let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

About My Beans. And Your Beans.

As I get near to my birthday, I think a lot about beans.

About how many I have; and how I want to use them.

I am acutely aware that I have a limited supply of beans.

I want to be mindful about my beans. I never want to squander them.

Because my beans (and your beans) are precious.

How many beans do you have?

What would you do if you only had a handful of beans?

What if you had just one?

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Are you wondering about what to do with the beans you have? Let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

How Many Can You Spin?

Busy is a badge of honor it seems.

“How are you?” I ask.

“Busy,” comes the reply with that wan smile and shake of the head.

Or more frequently and wide-eyed: “Crazy busy,” as if to convey even more significance and import.

My response: “Oh, I am so sorry to hear that.” (As if they’ve just shared the news that someone they care about has just died.)

This usually elicits a confused look, which I think is good. Because “busy” usually isn’t good.

“Busy” usually means that you’ve lost control of your time; that you’re caught up in the urgent at the expense of the important. 

It’s easy for to buy into the cultural lie that to be successful, you need to be busy, you need to work more, that you need to work longer, harder, faster; and that to do otherwise somehow means that you’re weak or not motivated or not a team player.

It’s easy to become addicted to the forward motion; to keep on going like a hamster on a wheel.

It’s easy to become addicted to the stimulation and outside input, checking and re-checking your smartphone and tablet; 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.

But in the end, you will not wish that you had spent more time in the office, billed more hours, accumulated more miles, closed more deals, seen more clients, sold more product, networked more, Tweeted more, or updated our Facebook status more frequently.

The value of your life will not be measured by the number of plates that you’ve been able to keep spinning in the air.

What will matter will be the experiences you have had, the lives you have touched, the love that you have shared. What will matter is whether you have fulfilled the deepest longings of your heart, whether you have spent yourself not on the urgent, but on the important; whether you have lived without regret.

Slow dance; and slow down.

Take in the sunrise; and the sunset.

Linger more; laugh more; love more.

Spin fewer plates.

Do fewer things well.

This is the path to freedom and joy.
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Want some tips to help you become less busy? Download your free guide HERE.

Find Your BFFs

We traveled across 8 time zones to do it. We’d do it again in a heartbeat.

It was an amazing three days. Days of collaboration and planning. Days of inspiration, learning and connection.

A gathering of entrepreneurs from all around the world. Colleagues filled with passion; and driven by a sense of mission. Passionate like-minded comrades who want to create amazing businesses, who want to make an impact in the world.

Here’s what is true: We are the average of the 5 people we hang out with most. Average in terms of what we want, where we live, what we earn, what we drive, and what’s in our bank account. Average.

There’s nothing wrong with average.

But, if we thirst for more, we need to surround ourselves with others who also want more. We need to seek out new relationships and new communities so that we can be nourished and uplifted, supported and encouraged.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path. It’s easy to get isolated. It’s easy to get brought down by the naysayers. It’s easy to get discouraged and despondent when you don’t see the results you want.

And so it is essential to seek out others who are on the path; to find your people; to surround yourself with those who believe what you believe, who want what you want. To be cared for by those who have your back, who want for your success. To drink at the well of inspiration.

We began our Summit Mastermind Community for that very purpose.

And regularly we travel far and near to be with those who do the work we do, and want to make a difference in the world.

We need that support. You do too.

Because with BFFs, anything is possible.

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If you’d like to join an amazingly supportive community, check out the Summit Mastermind by going HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

What Beavers Know

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. — Isaiah 43:19

I’ve noticed the beavers at work along the river these past few mornings.

It seems that spring came in the northern hemisphere last week. A good thing. It’s been a long and malingering winter.

Some winters are like that.

Winter, for many, means hardship. Storms and brutal cold; grey skies, short days and long, dark nights; shoveling snow, icy roads and heating bills that seem to never end.

Things tend to lay dormant in the winter. Many in the animal kingdom hide out and hibernate.

In the people kingdom too.

Then the spring comes. New life, new energy, new hope. A reprieve; a new beginning.

And so it is in all our lives.

What we do in the springtime of our lives matters. How we till the soil; what we plant; where we plant it; how much we care.

What we build; how we build it.

The summer will surely come. And then the harvest time. It always does.

That harvest, what we reap, will depend on these very moments in our lives: What we sow in the here and now will dictate the seasons yet to come.

  • In our businesses and careers;
  • In our networks and relationships;
  • In our marriages and partnerships and families;
  • In our health and fitness;
  • In our financial lives;
  • In the service of others.

It’s easy to be complacent in the spring, what with the weight of winter finally lifted off. But spring is a time for focus; the time to re-charge, to re-double our efforts. The seeds that we plant, the investments that we make, the care and the attention that we bring to the spring in our lives will yield a thousand fold in the soft glow of our autumn time.

Of course, the seasons of our lives don’t always correspond with Mother Nature. I surely have experienced some desperate winters in the midst of spring; and brutal heat that killed the seeds long after harvest time had come.

But the spring of the year is a good time to remind ourselves of the never-ending rhythm of things; that even in the darkest of nights, the light will return. And that when it does, we have an opportunity to begin again; to create anew; to make our lives the masterpieces they’ve always been meant to be.

Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the seasons; but you can change yourself.”

In every moment – in every spring – we get to choose.

Wherever you are, whatever the season for you, let’s begin again.

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When you’re ready to begin, let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

Why The Destination Matters

We wandered in the fog. For days.

A storm had enveloped the lower part of the mountain right after we had landed at base camp. We had heard that the weather was “nice” up above. So in order to push forward toward Denali’s summit without jeopardizing our supplies of food and fuel, we had decided to traverse the mighty Kahiltna Glacier despite the lack of visibility. StormyWeather

We navigated from wand to wand; and from way point to way point.

At times, I could barely see Ann on the rope 60′ in front of me.

Happily we knew exactly where we were going.

Which was a good thing.

Knowing where you want to go is essential in the mountains.

It’s essential, too, in business… and in life.

Unfortunately, all too often, we lose our direction. We lose sight of the path. We don’t know exactly where we want to end up.

Clarity is key we tell our coaching clients.

You must know your target.

You must be clear on what you want your outcome to be.

You wouldn’t likely wander over to the airport today, saunter up to the ticket counter and say, “Gimme a ticket.”

The ticket agent would look at you a bit strangely and then ask, “Where to?”

If you said, “Barcelona, Orlando or San Francisco,” the agent would likely then query, “Which one?”

Too often we make the mistake in our businesses (and our lives) of not knowing “which one.”

  • Who is your ideal client or customer?
  • What is the product or service that yields your highest return?
  • What do you want your numbers to be this year?
  • Exactly how many hours do you want to work?
  • Where do you want to take your career?
  • What are your specific business goals? And life goals?
  • What is essential to your success and satisfaction?

A GPS will get you within 30′ of your destination. If you go off track, it tells you so.

“Recalculating.”

Always with the destination locked in place.

But without that destination locked in place, you can wander down blind alleys, into “bad” neighborhoods; and you can get pretty far off course: Distracted by the latest in marketing, the hottest of hardware, the coolest of apps; doing advertising regardless of outcome, chasing clients regardless of worth.

Doing things that look “busy” but don’t really get you to where you really want to go.

And you’re ineffective as a leader because, seriously, who wants to follow someone who looks lost?

Worse, you’ll never know when (or if) you arrive.

I love climbing is South America. The Andes are one of my favorite ranges. Unfortunately my Spanish isn’t very good.

The one word I do know is: ¿Donde

Where.

It’s a pretty important one to know.

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Coaching will help you get clear on your destination and, through coaching, you’ll create a powerful, systematic plan to get you to where you want to go. Are you ready? Email me. Let’s have a conversation. Because, seriously, life is way too short to be wandering endlessly in the fog. walt@walthampton.com

Why You Will Become Obsolete

Protectionism is in vogue.

Close the borders, circle the wagons, build the bunkers.

Keep local businesses safe from foreign competition.

Except foreign competition isn’t really the danger.

The danger is much closer at hand.

The danger is you.

The problem is that you – and me – all of us have become shallow in the way we think and act.

We skitter along the surface of things. We allow ourselves to live in a world of distraction.

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.

We’ve lost the capacity to focus, the capacity to do deep work.

Without the capacity to do deep work, we are replaceable.

Amazon has launched a cashier-free store. Uber has driverless cars. Black Rock is using robots to pick stocks. Watson provides complicated medical diagnoses at lightening speed.

Many professionals – my colleagues in the law included – have a vague dis-ease around the rise of artificial intelligence.

They should.

Because the superficial tasks we do – that is, most of the stuff we tick off our to-do lists – can be done better, cheaper and faster by AI.

The gift of our humanity, though, is our ability to ponder, reflect, refine.

Our ability to create.

Our ability to do deep work.

Our ability to focus.

Focus will be the currency of the new economy.

Those who can focus will thrive.

Those who can’t will become obsolete.

Focus is a muscle that needs to be (re)trained.

Cultivate the lost art of focus before you become obsolete.

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Want some tips to help you focus? Download your free guide HERE.

 

 

 

 

How To Live 11 Years Longer

How would you like a straightforward way to add 11 years to your life? It doesn’t require supplements or calorie restricted diets. You don’t need to count your steps or exercise fanatically.

You need to do just one simple thing.

Stop looking at your smartphone.

Recent studies suggest that many professionals check their emails 36 times an hour. Interruption science tells us that every interruption in our day has a “cost” in terms of lost focus and productivity. Researchers have measured the cost. It’s between 11 minutes and 25 minutes.

So work with me here. We’ll go with the lower number and assume a 10 hour day: 36 checks of the smartphone every hour x 10 hours each day x 11 lost minutes of productivity = A lost 3960 minutes of productivity every day. (Yes, you’re scratching your head wondering how you could lose 66 hours a day.)

Another study from the world of interruption science: We’re interrupted or cause ourselves to be interrupted, usually with our smartphones, every 3 minutes of the day. Let’s use conservative numbers again and go again with a 10 hour day. So, an interruption every 3 minutes would be 20 interruptions an hour x 10 hours x 11 minutes = A lost 2,200 minutes of productivity each day.

Whew. That’s a much better outcome. Only 36 lost hours.

But put aside focus and productivity for a moment. The are other costs.  Constant distraction:

  • Prevents us from doing deep, uninterrupted work.
  • Causes stress and overwhelm.
  • Damages our creativity.
  • Isolates us and dishonors our important relationships.
  • Separates us from the natural world.

App developer Kevin Holesh was curious about his daily screen time. He created an app to track it. It’s called Moment. You can download it. On your smartphone. There are over 8000 users.

Holesh discovered that many professionals spend between one and four hours a day on their smartphones; nearly 100 hours a month spent checking emails, texting, gaming and surfing the net.

Eleven years over the course of a lifetime.

Eleven years on your smartphone.

I think there may be better ways to spend your time.

Reclaim your 11 years.

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How about 7 simple hacks that will make you a lot more productive without the stress and overwhelm? Go HERE and download them now.