ALL IN HOW WE LOOK AT IT

Challenges. We all go through them. Some are small, like leaving your cup of coffee on top of your car as you drive away. Some are big, such as a breakup or losing someone. We have little or no control over most of these. Who would voluntarily give up their dose of caffeine just to decorate the outside of their car?

What we all have in common is the fact that our lives include challenges. Some may appear to have more than others, but if we look closely we discover we all have them. What separates us is how we respond to challenges. How come some of us walk away bitter and some walk away better? This can even happen differently with the same person depending on the situation. I can say that I do not always respond best from challenges and often it takes the help of others to put me on the right track.

What makes the difference? The key here is perspective. As the picture above notes, some people have muscles and some have wounds. It is not a matter of minimalizing your pain or struggle, but putting it to work for you. As Eric Thomas, one of my favorite coaches reminds us, don’t waste your pain. It is bad enough that terrible things happen in life. Let us do our best to make use of them by gaining strength from the struggle we have survived or in some cases are currently going through. Print out this picture or maybe even just write it down for some good motivation!

THE MAGIC FORMULA

Half of my time engaged in my writing career includes observing the ideas of others. After all, finding ways to live a positive rewarding life should include as many successful resources as possible. Today’s post was learned watching a talk given by Jack Canfield, one of the authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Jack was speaking about his great book The Success Principles. One of the things he mentioned that really grabbed my attention was a formula you can use to determine and control the success and joy experienced in your life.

A formula for figuring out life? If you are picturing a chalkboard full of equations do not worry. This formula only has three parts and can be used by everyone. The beautiful thing about researching is that a great deal of the information you come across is very similar. The unique thing is how it is presented. This formula is such an example. It can be difficult or at the very least not very motivating to try and remember some esoteric phrase or cliché quote. A formula is simple and easy to adjust. Let us take a quick look at the formula and discuss how we can use it to change our life and the level of joy we experience in it.

E (Event) + R (Response) = O (Outcome)

Using a math comparison let us say this equation is 2 + 2 = 4. Sounds pretty simple, does it not? The first part of the equation – Event – we often to not have control over. It is like the first number ‘2’ in our example. Let us say we are not thrilled with the outcomes in areas of our lives. That would be the ‘4’ in our example. If we have no control over the first ‘2’ and we are not happy with ‘4’ as the outcome, we must change the second ‘2’. This is also known as our response. This we have complete control over. It may not be easy, but when we learn to control our response to any event it will change our outcomes. This will change our life and the amount of joy in it. I suggest printing or writing this formula somewhere you see it every day.

Let us take this one step further. In our equation let us use negative numbers to represent negative aspects. If the first number or the first ‘2’ is negative, that is a negative event. These often happen to us and again are beyond our control. We get fired, the love of our life finds they love someone else or a million other situations can happen. We have the choice of not responding, or making the second ‘2’ a ‘0’, that leaves the situation equally as negative as when we began. We can also respond with negativity. This could range from anger, sadness, revenge and depending on the severity could be anything from a ‘-1’ to a ‘-100’. The great the number behind the negative sign, in other words the more negative our response, the more negative the outcome will be.

On the other hand, we could also respond positively. Perhaps the situation was mildly negative, like a long wait in line at the store. We will say this is a ‘-1’. We could use this time to send our spouse a text message letting them know how much we love them and how proud we are to be with them. That would be a positive response to the situation. We could say this response was a ‘+3’. -1 +3 = 2. The situation could still turn out positive by the time we get home. Our spouse could be filled with love and gratitude for our gesture. If, on the other hand, we spend our time thinking about how much this is an inconvenience on our day and get ourselves all worked up we would be having a negative response. We will say this is a ‘-3’. Again, that would depend on the level of anger. Now our formula looks like this -1 + -3 = -4. We have taken a bad situation and made the outcome even more negative. What could this mean? Perhaps we treat the cashier harshly, or come home to our spouse in a bad mood and jeopardize the chance for a romantic evening.

If we are dealt a terribly negative situation, say a ‘-10’. Let use our lover leaving us for this example. It was beyond our control. We have already seen by responding negatively, such as spreading bad gossip about them or trying to do something vengeful, will only lead to a greater negative outcome. What if we can use this to our advantage? Perhaps we can learn lessons about modifying our own behavior for future spouses? Maybe we can take notes as to what type of people to avoid dating in the future? These positives could only amount to say a ‘+5’. Plugging that into our equation -10 + 5 = -5. You could see the situation may still suck, but not quite as bad. The ability to create the most positive responses can increase our ability to overcome, or at the very least lessen the effect, of the most negative situations.

Lastly, there is what to me is the most puzzling of all equations, but one I witness far too often. That is where we have a positive event. Let us say we get a raise which could be a ‘+4’. Again, the number could depend on the amount of the raise, how  bad we needed the raise or even how expected the raise was. A normal response would be joy or gratitude, let us say a +3. That equation would be 4 + 3 = 7. The outcome would be made even more positive by our response. There are those who do what I consider baffling. They receive their raise a +4 and instead of adding positivity to that event, do the very opposite. Perhaps they complain it wasn’t enough or how long it was overdue. They might even end up feeling dissatisfied or even angry with getting more money. This response could be anything from a ‘-4’ to perhaps a ‘-6’. Our equation now looks like this 4 + (-6) = -2. You can take a positive event and turn it into a negative outcome!

So, print out this equation and work on controlling your response. The more positive your responses, the more positive your outcomes will be. Lots of positive outcomes lead to a positive life. It will help us cope better with the negative and only intensify the positive!

HOW TO MAKE 2019 YOUR YEAR

Let us clear something up going into the new year, we need to act. I am a big fan of the Law of Attraction. I know it works and personally use it. What some people who see the movie The Secret, or read books on attraction misconstrue is the fact you have to act. You can use vision boards, recite affirmations, journal and meditate, but if you do not follow that with inspired action nothing good will happen. Kind of a bummer I know.

The good news in all of this is once you do the things mentioned above, it will be come more clear and easier to know what actions to take. Those listed in the pictures above would be a great place to start. I particularly like the ‘smile more, be excited’ line. A smile can not only improve the lives of those around you, but will elevate your mood as well. Even when you don’t feel like smiling, give it a try anyway. Often by changing our physical state we can influence our mental and emotional state as well.

Action does another great thing for us, it gives us joy. Tony Robbins said progress equals happiness. I have found that to be very true. If you are working towards a goal and taking steps you are being successful. Another favorite author and speaker of mine, Earl Nightingale, defined success as the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. The word to notice in that definition is progressive. You are not just a success when you achieve your goal, but even as you are working towards it. In other words, if you know where you want to go and are working on getting there you are a success. Even if the steps you are taking do not work out this time, you have just eliminated something that would not work.

This year let us put our minds to work, but we cannot forget to get off the couch and make it happen as the picture above reminds us. Try a few of the items listed above and see how they change your life. I would love to know what action steps all of you are going to take in the new year!

RETURN SOME GIFTS THIS YEAR

I love receiving gifts. It is not that I am materialistic, but the fact someone thought of me, and then acted upon that thought means the world to me. It can be something they made, a poem they wrote anything really. This is not the gifts we are talking about today. If you have not read the little comment above, I may suggest you do so now as it will make everything you read from here forward a lot more sensible.

As kind and compassionate as I try to be, there are still some who chose to offer me the ‘gifts’ mentioned in the picture above. Working 3 nights a week in the bar setting I witness a good deal of insults, he said/she said and gossip. It would seem a lot of people get terribly upset if others do not speak of them or see them in just the right light. This reminds me of a saying I came across a while back. You might work as hard as you can to grow the perfect peaches, but some people just don’t like peaches. I come across this when people report this website as offensive. I think to myself, how can anyone find reducing stress, increasing joy and improving yourself offensive? Then I remember, some people just don’t like peaches.

This is a good thought to keep in mind. Others will not like you because of many different reasons. Your skin color, your beliefs, who you are friends with and a million other reasons they will come up with. Remember that speaks more about them, than about you. They will insult you, gossip about you and even make up terrible lies about you. Just like the picture above says, “If you do not accept something given to you, it belongs to the sender.” If you are honestly working to be the best person you can be, your actions will speak a lot louder than their words. In fact, the only way to counter insults truly is to act at such a high level, that the one insulting you looks foolish.

I encourage all of you to leave your tips for dealing with insults and negative gossp. The more ideas we have, the better chance of success we have. I am going to leave you with this quote from Frank Sinatra.

“The best revenge is massive success.”

TRANSFORM TOGETHER

There are many good places to meet friends for social reasons.Here is one that not only accomplishes that, but has an added bonus of science. The science behind making good friends? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me back up and talk a little more about the social pluses of today’s place to make friends. Today’s place to make friends and generally improving your life is the gym. Before you start rolling your eyes and clicking off this website, let me assure you I can relate to your doubts.

At the gym I am usually in a state close to hyperventilating, dripping with sweat, smelling less than ideal and in short, not my ideal self. Why on earth would this be a good place to meet someone? First of all, chances are most people there are in a similar state. Second, all of you already have one thing in common, you are chasing the goal of being healthier. Sure, your goals may be different. It may be you are facing a serious health condition, maybe you are trying to get in shape for your Jamaican vacation or you just want to fit into the clothes in your closet better. That gives enough variety to start some interesting discussions.

Here comes the science. The first one has to do more with working out than making friends, but it good to know just the same. It would fit under the category of psychological science. When working to obtain our fitness goals having a workout partner dramatically increases our chances of success. We find it easy to make excuses to ourselves, but most of us tend to feel a lot worse if we let someone else down. Having a partner that can not only talk us into the gym when we don’t feel like going, but hold us accountable when we don’t make it, will have our butts cursing on the treadmill far more often than when we try to go it alone. Adding to the fact two heads are always better than one when it comes to figuring out how to use that complex machine you never see anyone on but looks like it could really help your fitness.

The second half of the science as to why the gym is such a good place to make friends is even more impressive. When we exercise the brain releases ‘feel good chemicals’. These chemicals are called endorphins. No, they are not the cute animals that swim around the ocean. Those are dolphins. They do, however, cause very similar reactions in our bodies and brains. Endorphins, again the chemical not the aquatic animal, interact with receptors in your to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. They have been compared to a natural form of morphine.

Imagine everyone you meet being on morphine. There would be a lot less conflict and a lot more mellow happy people. That is exactly what happens after we work out. It is also something I recommend couples try working into their routine. Spending time around someone who has just experienced the rush of chemicals compared to natural morphine should be pretty easy. If both parties are experiencing that feeling such as a workout partner or your loving spouse, great feeling are bound to occur. As the new year approaches lots of your friends will join gyms and those gyms usually run specials to get people to join. Why not find a friend to make that commitment with you? Can’t find a friend who is looking to get healthy? Join yourself and begin to talk to people there. Trust me when I tell you most people would be more than happy to talk about their workouts, diet and fitness routine. I don’t know if this is due to endorphins or just the fact they love to have people working with them.

Try taking and making friends at the gym. You won’t be disappointed. As an added bonus, you will become healthier and happier yourself.

THE LATEST SUPERHERO I MET

This is one of my favorite quotes. Someone who is physically capable has no reason to at the very least return their shopping cart to the cart corral. I stand corrected. There is only one reason – laziness. If you are so inconsiderate to other shoppers and parkers, not to mention the store employees who have the job of collecting these carts, then perhaps you should try doing their job for a week. It also shows a pattern. If you are too lazy to return your shopping cart, what other corners are you cutting in your life? That is the thought behind the above quote.

A successful person is one who will do what is right and what should be done even when it may not be the easiest thing to do. They will not only think of just themselves, but of the others who could be impacted by there actions. Can you imagine how you would feel if your brand new car was dented and scratched by a shopping cart someone carelessly left in the parking lot? What if you had a sore back and had to park further away because all of the close spots were taken by random carts left by strangers. Maybe you might not even have a cart to use because they were spread throughout the parking lot? Careless actions like this also cause prices to rise. Stores must replace or repair carts that have been damaged or stolen. That price is often passed on to all consumers. Something I am guessing our lazy friend had not thought about.

This leads me to share an amazing story I witnessed the other day. I was picking Margie up from the local craft store as she was picking up supplies for her business while I was writing. As I got out of my car I saw a lady who was easily in her 80’s walking with a walker. Do you know what she was doing? Pushing both her walker and her cart up to the store to return it. My only regret is I did not arrive sooner to help her. She laboriously made her way back to her car with her walker. She had every excuse to leave her cart in the middle of the parking lot, but she didn’t. To me, that woman is a superhero.

Ask yourself next time you are tempted to do a job half way, “What does this say about my character?” Chances are if you are skipping things you deem unimportant, you are also cutting some corners in your life where it really matters. Remember character is built by the actions we take when nobody is watching.

A NEW AVENUE EXPLORED

Recently, I had the honor of being part of an inspiring publication. See Beyond is a wonderful magazine that tackles the gritty issues facing our youth and does so while encouraging and inspiring them.

In this issue, I had the great pleasure of joining other authors while sharing the challenges I face in my career as a writer. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of such a unique and thought-provoking publication. I am already looking forward to contributing more.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO READ MY ARTICLE ON PAGE 32 OF THIS MONTH’S ISSUE

STOP WAITING!

Last post we discussed enjoying the process. That is, whatever goal you are chasing, whatever you are trying to accomplish, whatever outcome you are working towards, remember to focus on the enjoying the journey. Celebrate small victories. Understand challenges and what may seem as temporary failures are really learning opportunities and stepping stones to where you wish to go.

Why is this so important? It is paramount! Up to 90% of our life is spent on the journey from one point to another. If you catch yourself uttering phrases like, “I will be happy when..” Stop right there. By stating that you will only be happy when the goal is achieved, the destination is arrived at, you are postponing your happiness. Who decides when you should be happy? You do! You do this by assigning meaning to daily events. The difference between happy, successful people and those who feel life is hard are whether or not you do so consciously.

We do not get to decide what circumstances arrive daily, but we do get to decide 100% on what it means to us. It is the difference of life happening to you or you happening to life. If you are living in reaction you are giving up control of your emotional well-being to other people, other circumstances, the weather and a million other sources. It is our decisions, not our circumstances that should control our life. Do not wait for the weekend, do not wait for graduation, to not wait until you are married or get that dream job. Decide to be happy starting today, starting right now.

If you wait to be happy in your relationship until you are married, you may never get there. Decide to create as much happiness in your relationship starting today and when wedding bells chime, your heart will be exploding with more joy than you can imagine. Postpone your happiness until that dream job arrives and you may not only be passed over for a more enthusiastic and cheerful candidate, you may even lose the job you are not enjoying now. Decide to find even the smallest things to enjoy and be grateful for in the job you are in now, and you will find yourself receiving praise from those around you and you will find in a short time you will have outgrown your position!

The most important benefit of this decision will be the improvement in the quality of your life. You will have good days and bad days. What is for certain, when you adopt this attitude, you will grow on each and every one of them. You will also find your hardest days will be your greatest blessings. Develop an attitude that says ‘Either I will win, or I will learn’

YOU ARE A CHAMPION

Recently, I had a discussion with a coworker about Billy Alsbrooks, an author and motivational speaker I enjoy. The subject was on being a champion. Mr. Alsbrooks states in his videos that we are all champions. This gentleman took a slight issue with that. “I am not always a champion. Some days I lose my temper and act in ways I shouldn’t.” he informed me. I would like to share with you my reply to him.

I do not pretend to speak for Billy Alsbrooks, but instead will give you my interpretation of his message and how it spoke to me. The first thing that came to mind was the definition of a champion. When people hear the word champion they think of the person holding up the trophy. Someone who did not lose. If you have read my writing for any length of time you will know I look at a champion differently.

To me, a champion is someone who is always learning, always growing. We consider a baseball player with a 300 average a champion. A 300 average means they ‘failed’ 7 out of 10 times! Think of people we call champions today. Lebron James was on a team in Cleveland that could not win a championship. He did not give up. He ended up playing in Miami where he won and then went back to Cleveland to win one there as well. Michael Jordan, who many consider the best player of all time did not make the cut on his high school team. He used that for motivation to work harder and won 6 championships. Tom Brady had to wait until the sixth round to be drafted. Then he was on a team who had a star quarterback. Instead of feeling dejected, he practiced twice as hard. When his time came he took full advantage and has won several championships.

This is not limited to sports. What if I told you there was a child who grew up with a mother and father who were alcoholics and mentally and physically abusive. At one point even having dish soap poured down his throat for something he said. Growing up poor eventually having six fathers and leaving home at 17 what would you predict for his life? Failure? Poverty? Surely there would be a general anger and distrust of people. That man was Tony Robbins who has gone on to be one of the best selling and most inspiring success coaches of all time.

The point is this. Champions are not people who win all of the time. They are those who learn and grow from their challenges and so-called failures. There are days we all don’t live up to our own standards. We lose our temper, we don’t follow through, we are not as productive as we should be. Those things do not mean we are not champions. All they mean is we have lessons to learn and chances to practice improving ourselves. It also serves as a great way to remain humble. Remember other fellow champions have their off days too. Be understanding and use those moments to remind them that they too are champions.

A true champion is not about their standing or their situations, but more about what they do with them.

THE LANGUAGE OF CHAMPIONS

This is a picture of my lady, Margie, and myself. It was taken at the “Best of Milwaukee” awards put on by Shepherd Express magazine. Both of us were runner up in our categories. Even the bar we DJ at, actually all three, were nominated as well. How did we manage to accomplish all of that? By speaking the language of champions.

What on earth is that, other than some fancy catch phrase? It is a set of standards that people who excel in any field adhere to. Have you noticed that giants in different industries can often be seen together sharing ideas? Have you ever wondered what on earth can Bill Gates and Aaron Rogers talk about other than ways to spend large amounts of cash? I can’t imagine Bill gates in shoulder pads any more than I can imagine Aaron Rogers running a Microsoft board meeting.

What they do have in common is the way they approach their craft. The same way the couple above, an author and motivational speaker with a cake and floral designer, can discuss strategy. Margie has a hard time reading more than a page without falling asleep, and if I tried to design a cake it would have to be explained away as an example of what not to do. That being the case, I believe given time and desire both of us could learn to excel in each other’s field. Not to the level we are both at, because I believe there is something to be said about natural talent, but I do believe we could be successful. This is not to sound narcissistic, for anyone can learn to be this way too. We all know famous people who seem to go from the movies, to music, or perhaps the other way around. These people are not just lucky or extra talented, but know the secret language of champions. It is the language I am going to introduce you to.

This is the first secret. In the last 3 months I have been not only nominated for the award mentioned above, but have been featured in 2 publications, and the guest on a national podcast. My website now has followers in over 100 different countries. All of these milestones have been reached in the last 3 months.

That sounds like a lot of success for a short period of time. What is not mentioned is the 6 years I have been writing blog posts, the 5 years since my book was published, and the seminars I gave where at one point only 10 people showed up. Was I tempted to give up? Sure, several times, but I didn’t. I kept writing, I kept speaking and promoting. Later this year I will be flying across the country to speak to a industry convention. (More on that in a future post)

I know I will be successful because of all I went through. Champions look like champions on game day because of all the hours they put in at practice. My lady’s cakes look like masterpieces because of all the years she spent developing her craft. I swear she can do things with a spatula I never imagined.

Do things ever go wrong for her on occasion? Absolutely. I recall one day coming home from my day job while she was decorating a cake and asking her how it was coming along. She looked up from the cake, spun around and with a look that spoke of a mix of insanity and frustration began to explain to me what happens when it is too hot and humid and frosting melts as it is on the cake. Being that I am a fan of hot humid weather, I felt it would be best if I pondered this cake lesson…while working out at the gym.

What makes her a champion is she learned from that experience and has updated her freezer, checked the mix of the frosting and some other cake magic involving unicorns, fairy dust and other things I will never understand. That is what makes a champion, the work. Jim Rohn once said “You cannot pay anyone to do your pushups for you.” Champions know that and enjoy the pushups. They learn and understand everything they go through can either make them bitter or better and they choose the latter way more often than the former.

Enjoy the process. Learn and use what you are going through right now. In other words, work harder in the preseason and when the championship comes, you will be ready.