LIFE LONG LEARNER

I am a big advocate of life-long learning. What I like about this quote is that it reminds us of something very important. When someone tells you that you can’t do something it is time to be grateful. Doesn’t that sound very confusing? Why would you be grateful somebody is basically telling you that you are not enough?

This day and age if there is anything we have an abundance of it is information. It used to be that if you wanted to learn anything you could go to the library and with a little effort and some research you could find an answer, free of charge! Today it is even better. When you have a question you can just ask google, Suri or whatever online search tool you use and there is the answer! If words are not your thing you can even pop over to YouTube and watch a video of someone doing the very thing you are trying to learn.

What this means is that we can choose to be an expert in just about anything. One important thing to remember is this – you can’t pay anyone to do your push-ups for you. That is a quote I took from Zig Ziglar. It means there is a certain amount of effort to be put into anything, but with today’s technology you have the best chance of succeeding and showing anyone that you can do anything!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM A FARMER PART 2

If you recall a while back I wrote a post about what I learned from a farmer. WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM Here is another thing we can learn from a story I have heard about an old farmer.

This farmer was asked about what he was doing to address that squirrel problem. He was asked, “What are you doing about these squirrels? They are eating half of our crop! Are you trapping them? Are you poisoning them?” The farmer just smiled and shook his head as he replied, “nah, I’m just planting twice as much.”

You see that farmer discovered something I was just reminded of recently. We can fight against what is holding us back, or we can work twice as hard and still succeed. The farmer could have trapped or poisoned the squirrels and just been faced with more. That is not to say we should not address challenges, just remember to work on what we have control over as well. Like the farmer let us plant twice as much.

So, if your business is struggling make twice as many calls as you normally do. You and the spouse not getting along that well? Instead of focusing on what you think they might be doing wrong, focus on being twice as loving yourself. Feeling more stressed out lately than normal? Do twice as much to take care of yourself. Maybe add a second stress relieving activity to your day or meditate twice as often?

Even taking control of our lives gives us a boost knowing we are not leaving the quality of our life up to outside circumstances and people. While there will always be ‘squirrels’ in life, we must always remember to plant twice as much.

*disclaimer* I am actually a fan of squirrels and no squirrels were harmed in the writing of this blog.

YOU NEED TO ARM YOURSELF

Arm yourself? Is this turning into a blog about gun control? Certainly not. If this phrase sounds a bit to confrontational for you, let me remind you of one thing. We are in a fight. Some of us may not look at it that way, but that is truly what it is. We are in a fight for control of our mind, our body and our spirit. Daily we are exposed to negative influences on social media, in advertising and even through the people and situations we come in contact with.

If we are honest with ourselves, hasn’t there been a day where stress and overwhelm has stolen our day? You had things you wanted to get done, but then something happened that just left you feeling totally drained and overwhelmed due to some stressful situation? Maybe it has even stolen some joy out of your day. You had a nice party to attend or lunch to enjoy with a friend and because of something you are overwhelmed by you can’t fully enjoy it? Sometimes it can even make the littlest thing seem so stressful. 

Have you ever noticed when you are totally stressed out that is when everything seems to fall apart? You are running late for work because your car won’t start, and because you are rushing you spill coffee on your lap. Then halfway to work you realize you forgot your cell phone and cannot tell your spouse you will have to stay a little later at work resulting in them being upset you will come home late without telling them.

Whew! I don’t know about you but that makes me tired just reading that story. So how do we keep from getting overwhelmed? I am going to share something I do that not only helps from getting me too stressed out, but also helps me improve my life and learn more than I ever thought I would. Care to find out what that is? I have developed that habit of asking two very important questions. Yes, that is it. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. All that is required is remembering two questions. You may even wish to write them down on a piece of paper because during stressful and overwhelming times trying to remember those two questions Neil told you to ask to keep from being overwhelmed can be…well…overwhelming. The ‘difficult’ part about this is learning to come up with constructive answers. There is no shortcut that I know of to being able to do this. What I recommend is to begin doing this today. You do not have to wait for stressful situations either. You can ask these two questions about any event in your life and the result will be more knowledge and more productivity.

So what are the two magic questions? I was beginning to think we would never get to them myself. Here is the first question, “What else can this mean?”. Let us say we were supposed to meet a friend for lunch at noon. Here it is 12:30 and we are sitting alone with no call or text. Our first reaction may be that our friend is rude, that they do not respect our time. These options could be true, but if we ask ourselves “what else can this mean?” we open ourselves up to other possibilities. Perhaps our friend was in an accident? Perhaps they are having a day like we described above? Maybe they are stuck in bad traffic and do not want to use their phone and are more worried about getting to us safely. Maybe we didn’t communicate the time correctly? Maybe they just do not understand how important being on time is to us? When we start to explore these other options it not only prevents us from being stuck in a feeling of anger and frustration, but surely prevents the friendship from taking too much of a blow even if we have to explain when we say to meet at noon we would really like to do so. Coming up with positive alternatives to negative situations can be tricky. Especially in the beginning when our brain is not used to it. To help it along we can pair it up with the second question.

Ah, the second question. This question is one of my favorites and has helped me survive quite a few stressful situations. If I was to be perfectly honest it has probably helped the welfare of the few of the people involved in stressing me out too. What is this question? When faced with a challenge and even one you may not be able to come up with a single positive meaning for, although I promise that will get easier with time, use the second question. Ask yourself, “How can I use this?” If you can find a way to get some good use out of a stressful situation you have, in effect, used it instead of allowing it to use you! How cool is that? When you realize there is something you can get out of a stressful situation it loses its power over you. Take our friend being late for lunch example. We could use that to practice patience certainly, but we can also use it to practice communicating something that bothers us with tact. We could use the extra time to do a quick meditation. Maybe we could read our favorite inspirational blog on our phone as we wait?

When stress comes knocking and bad things happen keep yourself armed with these two questions to fight off the effects of negativity and to keep from being overwhelmed. “What else could this mean?” and “How can I use this?” Feel free to list some of your examples of how you put a negative situation to use for you in the comments below and inspire other readers.

LET’S GET STARTED!!!

Last post we talked about improving our lives. Here is one simple way we can do just that. Work on strengthening our decision muscle. It is true one decision can literally change our lives. The decision to say “It’s over!” or “Let’s begin!”. Can you think of some decision you have made that has totally changed your course of life? Going to work at a certain place of employment? Dating a certain person?

Let us decide to make one new decision that will positively affect our lives. Before we do so, however, let us look at what it actually means to decide. According to membean.com “The root word cis and its variants cid and -cide come from a Latin root which means to ‘cut’ or ‘kill.’ A decision, for instance, is a ‘cutting off’ of all possibilities except for one; if you are decisive you have ‘killed’ all other options.” Think of that, you have killed all other options.

I like to use the word ‘declare’ more than the word ‘decide’. I feel it has more emotional power. If you decide you are going to be more healthy, you could decide tomorrow you are going to eat a whole pizza. On a side note, these two things have both happened to me in the past. When you ‘declare’ something it is like shouting it from the rooftops. You are saying “this is how it is going to be no matter what.” If you are faced with an obstacle you work around it. If you do not succeed at some point, you pick yourself up and start again.

Great lives were created one decision at a time. Let us all choose one decision to change our life today. Feel free to share your inspiring decision in the comments below.

YOU ARE THE CEO

It is amazing how people will but more effort into a work project than a life project. I have the honor of dealing with plenty of entrepreneurs on a daily basis. I see these people take so long to decide who they want to work with, who they will surround themselves with and work 12 to 16 hour days perfecting and growing their business. Which is great. It shows they have the spirit and determination to succeed.

The funny thing is I seldom if ever see these or any other of my friends work this hard and give this much thought to their personal lives. Maybe it is time to treat our lives a little more like a business. This does not mean having our lives devoid of any emotion. Quite the opposite. Emotion is the currency of a successful life.

Let us look at a business. A successful business has a lot of features to it. Successful bottom line, fulfills a need to people, invests in research and development as well as marketing. A good deal of the success of any business has to do with the people in it, especially in charge of key positions.

Now let us look at a successful life. A successful life is measured by peace of mind and heart. We do that by helping others, or fulfilling a need. If we want our life business to grow we need to invest in research and development. That means reading things that will improve or expand us. We also need to market ourselves and our ideas. We also need to make some shrewd decisions as to what people we have in our life business. Remember some people belong in your heart, but not always in your life. Do not sacrifice your emotional well being out of a feeling of social obligation. We only have this one life we need to make the most of it!

Feel free to share your ideas for a successful life business in the comments below.

PARETO MUST WIN THIS ELECTION !

As you’re reading this i can only imagine the questions you are asking.  “Neil don’t you know the election is over?” and “who is this Italian guy your talking  about?”

First things first. Yes I know the election is over. Donald Trump is now the president of the United States. Shocking to some, wonderful news to others. So why am I saying another person should win the election and who is he?

Vilfredo Pareto was a French economist who died in 1923 in Switzerland. So am I advocating dead people to not only vote but win? Not at all. Mr. Pareto was known for many things including a principle named after him. In a nutshell the principle states that, for many phenomena, 20% of invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained.

There are many adaptations of this principle including my favorite that states when faced with a challenge we should allocate 20% of our time, energy and focus on the problem and 80% on possible solutions. This has served me very well both in business and in personal relationships. How many times have you wasted time disagreeing with someone about something trying to decide who’s fault it is, who is to blame and why things are bad? Once you decide who takes the blame you are often nowhere nearer to solving the problem than when you began.

As this election unfolded several issues were brought up and people became divided and hateful. After the election is over these issues still remain and some may save have only become magnified. So now what do we do and what can we take from a dead Frenchman?

First, the 20%. We need to all get together and spend 20% of our time on these challenges. There are several challenges facing this fine nation. The first step to solving any challenge is getting clear as to what the challenge is. This may sound silly at first, but how many times have you seen or even been a part of a disagreement only to discover the two parties (or more) were disagreeing about completely different things. The next step is to discover the cause of these issues. Now here is where a lot of people turn to blame. First of all it is very seldom, if ever, only one party’s fault. Often there is a failure to communicate clearly. Perhaps there is a lack of knowledge on a subject or even person. Often if we really spend more time getting to know each other at our very core we would find it a lot more difficult to disagree.

That brings us to the 80%, the solution. When you find yourself faced with a challenge it is very important to know what both sides desire and ask yourself “what is a solution that could make both parties happy?”. Sometimes this is not possible, but when you approach a challenge this way you are far more open to hearing both sides. Explore every option, hear every opinion. Spend 80% of your time on the solution verses the problem and we will be amazed and what we can accomplish.

So although this election has divided many of us, I urge all of us to focus 20% on what our issues may be and 80% on how we can solve them for the best interest of everyone. That includes our newly elected president as well as those who came up short.

I will leave you with a final thought from one of my favorite presidents

“A House divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln

BALANCED GARDENING

garden picture

This blog is not called “Secret2anamazinggarden” but please allow me to dispense with some gardening advice. First you start with some seeds. Some you may have picked out, some you may have just found in the garage or the basement and thought it may be fun to grow. At least that is how it seems to work in my family. Now you must choose a place for your garden to grow. You pick a fine spot one which has both enough shade and enough sun for a good garden needs the right mix of both. Then you prepare the land for the garden. Clearing away debris, rocks and anything else that may inhibit the plants from growing. Then you plant the seeds, water them and begin the wait for them to grow. You know they will take a few days to a few weeks for the plants to sprout so you do not expect to harvest a crop the next day. Now as the days pass you continue to water and take care of what you have planted to give them the best chance to grow. Soon something starts to grow in your garden. If your luck is anything like mine they are called weeds. Sometimes they even sprout before the things we have planted. So you must work on removing them to allow the plants to grow. The next day you come out and sure enough your plants have started to grow! Unfortunately so have more weeds. You think didn’t I just remove these yesterday? So you water the plants and pull the weeds. Then you notice a small little worm starting to eat the leaves of your plants. Great you got rid of the weeds now you have pests to deal with too? So you take steps to remove the pests, water your plants, maybe even fertilize them a bit and pull the weeds. This whole production goes on for weeks, perhaps even months. After which time you begin to be able to pick some fruits and vegetables. Some plants only give you one harvest, others continue to provide as long as you take care of them.

Ok, so what does all this have to do with living an amazing life? The steps to growing a good garden are fairly easy to understand even though they do take a good amount of time and effort. Honestly so are the steps to growing an amazing life. They are also quite similar. Let’s compare. The seeds are like your skills and talents. Some you are just born with, others you may choose and wish to develop. The spot for your garden is like the life you chose. You need enough sun and shade. Time to shine and time to relax. Even if your plot of ground is not ideal with the right effort you can still grow a very good garden. So you plant your seeds or choose your skills and talents you wish to develop. Now here is where some people get off track. They water them once and expect a crop the next day. Everything in life takes time. Sometimes even longer than it normally should. A plant will take longer to sprout if the weather is cool and there is a lack of sun. So a talent may take longer to develop if some key ingredients are missing. Continue to take care of them both and they will surely grow. Now come the weeds which can be likened to the challenges that arise in our life. Often before our talents had a chance to get started. Now when the first weed pops up do we give up on the garden? I hope not or you will never grow anything. Still if we do not do our best to remove the weed it will continue to grow and take over our garden. The same can be true of our challenges and weaknesses. If we do not strive to improve them eventually they will choke out any chance of a good life for us. So now your plants start to sprout, or in the case of your life you begin to see your talents come to light. If you only focus on removing the weeds or improving your weaknesses and never water your plants or build your strengths they will surely die. This is a curse of even the person with the best intentions on self-improvement. They often see it as just “fixing the problems with themselves” That is only roughly 50% of the plan. You must also grow the good that is in you. Develop it fully so you can bring the most to the world. So we come to the pests. What do they represent in the real world? Well, simply put, pests. They are the negative people who come into our lives and begin to eat our dreams and hold us back from our goals. if we do nothing to eliminate them or at the very least reduce their effect on our lives we will have no garden at all. Now much like a garden more weeds and pests will always come up and at times it might seem frustrating but if we keep watering our plants and pulling the weeds quite often they will provide us with far more fruits than we expected. So work on not only removing the challenges in your life and improving your weaknesses, but growing your talents. Try to at least make that a 50/50 effort, but understand much like in a garden both will continue in order for us to continue you reap our harvest