This is 40…

I haven’t written on this site for a while. I kind of let it go for a job opportunity and to pursue my private practice with a different focus. I love my work. I truly love my work as a coach. Where I struggle, is in loving my life. I’ve decided to write this blog for me. It’s my online journal. I’m using this blog to write about my life and as an experiment to challenge myself to focus on living a GREAT life every day. Most days I do… Recently I’ve found it harder and harder. It won’t be pretty. I’m not a writer. But I need to write. Your invited to follow along. I hope to find some people to relate…

I’m 40.

I recently turned 40. I’m not happy about it. This can’t be what my life has turned into. My life looks good… I should be happy. I’ve never been in such good a shape. I have an amazing job and I love my clients and co-workers. I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself. Something is missing. 

I’m grateful for my life. My health, my family…. my job. I could write a long list. I’m missing connection. I’m missing a deep loving connection. Maybe I’m missing the ability to connect. I’ve never been one to have lots of friends. I don’t date a lot. I’ve always been a bit socially awkward. I’m not great at relaxing and having fun. There are so many areas of my life that are great… but some, I guess, I’ve not been willing to take the time to look at.

Lets test my GREAT life theory.

Gratitude

I’m grateful for my life. I’m grateful for my family and friends. I’m grateful for my job. I’m grateful for mentors, sponsors, teachers… I’m grateful for finding my passion and earning a living doing it.

Recognize Negativity.

* It’s not enough. I live in this negative thought. No matter how great things are, it’s never enough.  This is not true. I have a roof over my head. A car that runs. A great wardrobe. A savings account. I’m in great shape. I’m charming. I have all I need to be successful, happy… I have all I need to get what I want. I have all I needs to not be in want. I’m lying to myself when I think what I have is not enough. In this moment I’m living an abundant and beautiful life. I am enough.

* I’m lonely. This is true in moments where I feel some old, familiar pain. I’m lonely… in this moment. But I’m not alone. I have people in this world who love me. I am loved by my family and a few friends. I love others. People are there for me, and I’m there for them. I am surrounded by people who love me, and I love them.

* I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of falling for someone who doesn’t feel the same about me…again. I’m afraid. This is true. But it’s not permanent. Rejection is a passing part of life. We all experience it… those who haven’t never allowed themselves the gift of vulnerability. I’m blessed to have the courage to be vulnerable. I risk rejection for the fruit of beautiful relationships and experience. 

* I’m afraid this is how it will always be… This is not true. Life is moving and I’m afraid to move with it or move ahead of it… IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS. I can create the change I want to see, in my life, in the world.

Excitement

One year from now I will be in a new home, God willing, with a woman I love. I will be settled into a career that I love. I’ll have hobbies that I enjoy doing with friends I love being around. I will be in the best shape of my life. I will have deep, loving relationships with friends and family.

Action

Today, I will commit to posting this article. I will spend some time with a new good friend. I will do shopping and do a little retail therapy. I will chose gratitude and faith.

Thanks

I’m thankful for some time to sit and write. I’m thankful that I can look back on this site and remind myself I’m an inspiring guy… even if it’s only inspiring me. I’m thankful to have a friend to sit with and get work done with.

I feel much better… Sometimes you just have to sit and work through it… Time to get to work.

Historical map of Milan, Italy.

Need Directions: Why Self Help Books Fail

Self help books are written in a way that is seldom really helpful.  They are often written with too specific a plan or they’re just too vague.  As a coach I sometimes get clients that are very clear about what they want to go.  A cliche definition of coaching is helping clients get from point A to point B.  While I don’t appreciate the oversimplification of my life’s work, that definition is fairly accurate (but trust me it’s more complex!) As coaches we help clients navigate their challenge through some direction and lots of support which is an art, but the ultimate goal is helping direct a client through the obstacles to reaching a goal.

Marshal Goldsmith was my first model of a great executive coach and arguably the leading executive coach in the world and author of numerous best sellers.  One of my favorites books is titled “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.”  It’s a great book, but I don’t like the title.  I believe in coaching their is an important rule to remember; what got you there won’t necessarily get me there.  Think of the millionaire guru who promises to teach you how to make millions.  The trouble is, he made his millions in an internet start up, or another who made it selling bad loans during the housing boom.  The opportunities that some made their fortune in is gone or not as simple as when they were new.  Were is the next gold rush?  The number of “info-preneurs” (information entrepreneurs) may be a clue.  Where else can people who made money in one industry that’s dried up make money?

There was a time when a college degree meant a pretty good job.  There was a time when investing in start up internet company was a great idea. There was a time when real estate was a great investment. As we all know there are no sure-fire steps to success in this world.  Beware of those who direct you through a process that worked for them.  Sometimes modeling success is not a path to get what you want.  Many self help books are written in this format.  They can be dangerous.  Self help should never offer a one-size-fits-all solution but unfortunately that is what is often preached.

If I want to go to the Santa Monica there is a list of directions I need to follow to get there.  I need to know how to get from point A to point B.  Some self help books are written from the perspective of how to get to point B without knowing where your are starting!  You can’t give me directions if you don’t know where I’m at!  We all heard it before; you cannot get to where you are going if you don’t know where you are at.  If you can’t tell north from south, east from west, then finding where to go is impossible.  It’s not all bad and books written from this perspective might get you moving in the right direction, but often, in my experince, they do more to discourage than get you closer to your goal. 

Then there are those books written to explain the mechanical functions (for lack of a better term) to help you reach your goal. I want to get to Santa Monica, can you tell me how a car works?  Do I need to know how a car functions to get to Santa Monica?  I have to know how to drive, but do I need to know how it functions?  Do I need to understand how a combustible engine or braking system works?  Or What about the suspension? Do I need to know about the different vehicles that exist?  I want to get to Santa Monica would I take a car, some people have a convertible.  Some people take the bus, some people go on a motorcycle, some even walk!  This is all interesting information but this information doesn’t get me closer to my destination.  Yet hundreds of books think if they tell me how the brain or the body functions in relation to thoughts, emotions, and behavior will help me get from point A to B.  It’s interesting stuff but it doesn’t get me closer to Santa Monica.  If my car doesn’t work I don’t open the hood and start messing with it… I’m not a mechanic!  I’ve learned over the years of painful trial and error, I’m my mind is not functioning, if I am paralyzed by my thoughts or emotions than I seek professional help; not a book.

I love the notion of simplicity.  “If you can’t explain it simply then you don’t understand…” as Albert Einstein said.  If I want to go from A to B, I’m asking for direction.  Sometimes just taking a step in the right direction should be the goal for any book that claims to help people.  But, for those who hope to reach their destination, take my advice and ASK for direction.  Get support and be led by those who will be with you in your journey and not someone who wants you to go on their journey.  I’m not saying that experience counts for nothing.  I ask the advice of others who reached their goals for their advice.  After all, all wisdom comes from experience.  But wisdom is not direction, and those brave enough to follow their own path are often the wisest.

thumb up, i like it

Are You Living a Great Life… On Facebook?

“I aspire to be the beautiful, together person my Facebook profile suggest I am.” Unknown (most of us)

I only want to show the good things in my life when posting to Facebook.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that; I’m not trying to hide anything.  However, I do catch myself posting with the intention of wanting my life to look better than it actually is.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life but it’s not perfect and I do wish it was as good as my Facebook profile would suggest even though my Facebook profile sucks! When I started this site, I started it with the intention that the GREAT LIFE is not supposed to be perfect.  Living the GREAT LIFE doesn’t LOOK any particular way…  The GREAT LIFE is sometimes lived with lots of fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability.  There is risk, but there is also the daily reward of presence when you live and allow yourself to be seen.  Our Facebook persona often doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable or to be really seen.  Lets be honest, who wants to see that?

Many people have carefully crafted messages, and post only the best pictures. Some of us use Facebook to promote ourselves professionally and wouldn’t dare post the pictures of a fun night out for fear of what our clients or coworkers would think.  Facebook allows us to show our best side. Even when that side is not very good.  Pictures with a spouse suggest a happy loving relationship that in reality is lonely and disappointing.  Pictures of a new car don’t show the stress of financial insecurity and crushing debt.  Christmas pictures show happy family, but really it’s just a couple drunks, a drug addict, spoiled kids that only want more, and someone on the verge of a breakdown. There’s nothing wrong with what you don’t show, it’s human.

Facebook for most of us is what TV use to be like, showing only the best of people. When I was a kid TV was an example of how life was supposed to be.  Shows like The Brady Bunch, Family Ties, and The Cosby show use to set an example for family life, and often set the bar high.  To me those were lives that I couldn’t relate to. They existed in another world that did not remotely look like mine.  Certainly nobody I knew had relationships with their family like that, nor did they solve life’s difficult challenges in the time it took a sitcom…  Then came shows like Rosanne then Married With Children and most of us could relate.  Families struggle in a lot of ways.  We loved those shows because they didn’t set the bar very high, yet they still had the values we all share, love for family, even when it’s hard to be around them.  Then reality TV came and showed the darker side to people, self-serving, greedy, vain, unconscionable… Still these shows are popular because we see people do and say the things we wish we could if we were raised by wolves.

Facebook gives me an opportunity to show you my life’s version of The Brady Bunch.  Which again, I don’t think is bad.  Just so long as I remember that when I see your profile, I remind myself that you are showing me the best version of your life, not the whole realty.

In my work it’s not uncommon that people talk about looking a friends social media profiles and feeling envious.  I admit, I can relate.  Early this year I did a lot of “compare and despair” seeing what I perceive as these perfect lives the people I grew up with.  I had one friend in particular who had the life I wanted.  He had a wife and a daughter and just two weeks after his son was born he suffered a major stroke and died.  When I saw his posts on on Facebook, I saw a perfect life; I didn’t see the stress he may have been under at work. I didn’t see his stresses or struggle. I didn’t see health issues that led to his death.  He was just 39 years old.  I’ll never see the pain his death caused his friends and family. We don’t share that on Facebook.

The point to living a GREAT LIFE daily, is to learn to live in today, to not regret, to not live so far in the future that we aren’t present, and most important to live your own life without shame, regret, or envy.  While Facebook and other social media make a poor substitute for a real life, it’s also a place where those who are courageous enough to be vulnerable inspire others to live more authentically.  Despite what I might see is great about your life, I remind myself that today I have more than I could ever need. When I begin to feel that what I have is not enough, I pray for the courage to truly live my own GREAT LIFE… not just one on Facebook.

 

loving people

We Choose The LIFE We Live

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.” – Wayne Dyer

The most important key to a GREAT life, in my opinion, is the ability to choose the world we want to live in.  Do I want to live in a hostel world, or do I choose to live in a loving world?

I believe the choice is simple but not easy.  I choose to live in a loving world but I struggle in practice.  In practice living in a loving world means offering and receiving love.  I fear loving, I fear being loved, I fear loosing love.  I fear connection to what I believe can be lost or taken away.  Perhaps having the experience of living in a hostile world for most of my life, I’ve become use to it.  A hostile world is predictable.  One thing you can count on is loss, disappointment, and pain.  So in a hostile world you disconnect.  You never want or love anything or anyone so much that you never experience loss.  A loving world is unpredictable and therefore can be very scary.  Still I choose to live my life today in a loving world.

How do I make the choice to live in a loving world?  Daily I commit my life to it.  I struggle and I accept that while I choose a loving world, fear draws me toward the predictability of isolation, disconnection, and loneliness.  Today, I commit myself to love, connection, and fellowship even when my every instinct is to protect myself from the fear of loss.  I am open to love and accept and offer love knowing that it is not always retuned or appreciated and sometimes it is taken away.

The GREAT life is lived in a loving world.  This is not an option.  If I want to live the GREAT life then I must be committed to living in a loving world.  The GREAT life is not easy.  Living in a loving world it not easy.  I risk, I feel rejection, loss, disappointment and at the end of the day I am thankful!  I feel blessed and look forward to another day choosing the world I live in.

 

 

 

jeune athlète

The Psychology of High Performers

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” – Henry Ford

What is the psychology of a high performer?  I’m not taking about the habits or what do successful people do that make them that way.  There are lots of books outlining the behavior of high performers. A better question might be, with so much information on how to be “successful,” why don’t more people have the life they want?  On a psychological level what is the difference between high performers (those who get what they work toward) and low performers (those who are constantly stuck in the same rut)?

On a side note, this is not a discussion on how we measure success.  Although it is important that you identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s a phrase commonly used in business).  If your goal is to be healthier what would be your KPI’s? A smaller waste, weigh less, muscular definition, lower blood pressure, maybe you’d like the endurance to run a marathon!  When we are talking about health there are a number of KPI’s.  KPI’s could be goals, or signposts that we are headed in the right direction. KPI’s are the objective results that are part of a larger vision.

I would also like to point out that many higher performers I’ve worked with are not happy.  I don’t want to suggest that the psychology of a high performer is necessarily better than a low performer in terms of health, fulfillment, joy or happiness. We all hear about the famous actor who struggles with drug addiction, the successful executive who commits suicide, or the politician caught up in a sex scandal.  High and low performers alike have their fair share of problems.

I am developing a pragmatic model for Performance Behavior/Performance Psychology based on my experience in trying to transform my life and as a coach helping my clients to so the same.  I’ve come up with what I perceive to be a linear path of thinking that leads to high performance behavior after listening to hundreds of people.  The Five Questions model is a framework I’ve developed in working with my clients. It’s a homework assignment that I ask my new clients to do before our first session together. This exercise allows for me to gauge their level of performance and the barriers to achieving goals.

The Five Questions

1) What do you want?

This is a simple question that I find most people answer like a kid writing a letter to Santa Claus.  I’ve heard many times the idea that we work hard to buy things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like.  What is it YOU really want?  This question for many is not easy.  Of course there is the standard, financial security, love, joy, acceptance, etc. but what does that look like to you? Knowing what you want must be objectively clear. High performers are very clear about what they want. They set goals and constantly measure success.

2) Why do you want it?

Are you driven by fear or purpose?  I find that many wants are driven by fear, greed, social expectation, or sometimes a personal expectation that is meant to make one feel “GOOD ENOUGH.” What do I want, is not the same as what will make me feel OK about myself. The reason why we want is more important than what we want.

When we follow the GREAT framework, Rejecting Negativity comes before Excitement (Visioning) because we don’t let our negative factors influence our vision of ourselves or let it direct out actions. Why do you want what you want, should be in alignment with your LIFE purpose. It should be directly linked to what you LOVE, what INSPIRES you, a practice of FORGIVENESS, or what you ENJOY. Most important is should be free of social expectations that don’t make you happy.  For example, you may become a doctor to help people, however if that vision is one your parents encouraged your whole life, it may not be the vision that makes you feel fulfilled because it may be covering a greater desire.

High performers are driven by purpose. They may be motivated by fear, greed, a desire to be enough but those who are most successful are in alignment with a purpose. They are driven by a higher purpose.

3) Do you believe what you want is possible?

This is not a YES/NO question.  This is an introspective exercise. Dig deep.  Is there any doubt?  The slightest doubt in your ability will grown into negative thoughts that stop you from pursuing what you want!  If you don’t believe you can get the job of your dreams, you might not apply. If you don’t believe the partner of your dreams will go out with you, you won’t ask him/her out.  If you don’t believe in yourself than who will?  If you don’t believe you can get what you want then what is stopping you?  If you answer is yes than move to the next questions.

It goes without saying that high performers believe they are capable achievement. They have no doubt in their abilities and “act as if” when their confidence weakens.

4) Do you believe you are worth the time, effort and investment?

Again, not a yes/no question. You may believe what you want is possible but do you invest your time, effort and investment to get what you want? Or Do you make excuses. I don’t have time; I don’t have the energy.  Our time is the most important resource and we give it away. We waste our time on TV, the internet, other people!  You may believe you can accomplish your goals but you won’t take the time or investment to do it, or worse, you make the time and make the investment but you don’t put in the effort! You go through the motions blaming outside conditions for your poor results. You get the job of your dreams and you show up late, make mistakes, and lose your job!

High performers invest in their future. They work long and hard and invest in their education and often hire people to help them build skills.  They put in the time, effort, and money to make their dreams come true.

5) Do you believe you are deserving of the reward and recognition?

At the heart of self-sabotage is the belief you are undeserving of what you want.  These people believe they can get what they want but don’t try. They go through the motions always falling short of their goal.  Then there are those few who know what they want, they are connected to a passion that drives them. They believe in themselves, they take the time, put in the energy and make huge financial investments in themselves and achieve their goals! Then they self-sabotage all their success.  They got the thing they thought would make them happy. They got the job, the relationship, the recognition… then took it for granted. Or they didn’t take care of what they worked so hard to get. These people celebrate losing weight by going out to dinner and ordering desert and soon gain all the weight back. These are the people who get the degree and never go after a career they studied for. These are the people who get the relationship, then fail to nurture and cultivate their partnership. These are the people who deep down inside don’t believe they are deserving.

At some level those that sabotage their success are people who thought success would bring emotional rewards. A sense of love, belonging, accomplishment, pride… These people might have played the WHEN-THEN game. When I’m successful, then I’ll be happy. When I make more money, then I’ll feel less worried. When I get that relationship, then I won’t feel so lonely.  When the goal doesn’t produce the feeling we self-sabotage.

This is why knowing what you want and why you want it is so important.  If we are driven by our wants that are motivated by fear, greed, or a need to “be enough” getting what we want will not produce the feeling we truly desire.

High performers not only feel deserving of all they work for, in some cases their history of success makes they feel entitled to more.  High performers are driven by passion, it is a game they enjoy playing. 

The five Questions is a great framework to understand where you might be stuck.  Don’t be surprised as your confidence, worth and esteem grow, what you want and why you want it will change. Continuous growth is when we constantly challenge what we previously thought was not possible. I’ll leave you with the most important advice I try my best to follow, that is remember to enjoy the journey and let faith guide you toward your destination.

 

I think I'm lost

Redefine Masculine: Ask For Directions.

“My ancestors wandered lost in the wilderness for 40 years because even in biblical times men would not stop to ask for directions” – Elayne Booster

I’ve recently attended a couple personal development workshops let by up and coming experts Gabriel Berstine, Mastin Kipp, and most recent Lissa Rankin.  While I’m motivated by the content of the speakers at these events, it’s nice that these events are filled with beautiful women!  My most recent workshop hosted by Mastin Kipp to promote Lissa Rankins new book Mind Over Medicine.  In attendance were approximately 15o women and 4 men, not including the 3 men on the speakers panel.  I will say that the high attendance of women is more than likely due to the combination of workshop with the practice of Kundalini Yoga.  A form of yoga that I’ve recently fallen in love with.  However Marianne Williamson, best selling author and internationally sought after speaker, offers lectures every Monday night in Los Angeles and I have found that those events also have a greater number of women to men in attendance.

It seems like you hear more and more how women are becoming more successful in every aspect of life quicker than men.  The number of college degrees including graduate degrees are awarded to more women, and women are outperforming men in the workplace.  Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men and Rise of Women describes in our pop culture a proliferation of strong women characters playing opposite the male “slacker/lovable loser.” For me Hanna’s work is a disturbing insight… I don’t want to be a “lovable loser!” I don’t want to be part of the good old boys club that can’t quite get it together in today’s modern world.

I have to admit… I don’t get it.  I go to these workshops, I spend quite a bit of time focused on personal and professional development and it’s rare that I’ve experienced an audience where the women didn’t outnumber the men. It’s no wonder why women outperform men! I’ve read Hanna Rosins book, I’ve seen the gender gap flip in many of my friends where the woman is the bread winner, often more educated and overall more successful.  I don’t get why more men don’t actively seek personal development at the rate women seek it.

I understand that throughout history women have gotten the shit-end of the stick. It’s about time things are changing… or should I say just in time! Societal problems are getting worse and the world is needs a hero, a feminine one! I say feminine because we don’t need another woman who imitates a man. Unfortunately many of those women who paved the way for today’s modern feminist movement were women who adopted management practices that don’t differ from from their male counterparts. Thanks to them however, the creation of women support groups are everywhere! While women are enjoying the benefit of years of social, personal, and professional growth, men are lost.

Are we (men – women feel free to stop reading) really so dense that we still are unwilling to ask for directions? In my years of working as a coach most of my clients have been women who stick with coaching for longer engagements than any of the men. It’s possible that it is something about my coaching methodology that is more supportive to feminine traits (cooperation, collaboration, nurturing, vulnerability). Most of my women clients are driven by their passion, while most of my male clients have been motivated by a passion for money, power, and prestige and what they think it might get them. I’m not judging my men clients, but when we start to discuss the roadblocks that keep them from their goals, a discussion of fear and vulnerability is inevitable and I can see their discomfort is sharing their feelings of insecurity.

I strongly believe that the key to getting social, personal and professional development is in creating a safe environment to be vulnerable. Women and some minorities have created forums to discuss the struggles they face and offer a community to lend support toward growth and development.  Men, in this country have no such support systems. I believe that its in our competitive masculine nature to ask for support is still seen as a sign of weakness. There is a stigma in taking care of yourself, asking for help, and needing support.  It’s not hard to admit we don’t know what we’re doing but nobody does!  We can all, men and women, use a little help and support.

I don’t believe that it’s as difficult today for men to reveal their fears and insecurities… Frankly, there are so many men that don’t quite have it together that it’s easier to find someone who can relate. But it’s still not socially acceptable! There’s a reason Hanna Rosin addresses the growing number of “lovable losers” in film and TV. Lovable loser is how we see men who don’t have it together.  We don’t see them as eccentic or creative wanderers… There losers in our culture.  I’m not saying thats right. It’s not.  But get use to it… It’s going to hurt and masculine pride is going to sting. Socially there may be no safe place for men to get support, but get over it! I don’t go to workshops to meet women.  I go to workshops to grow into the man I want to be for myself and for the woman I love. Yes it sometimes sucks to reveal my vulnerabilities in a group of women but I’m not there for them I’m there for me! 

I’ll end on and idea.  There needs to be an evolved definition of masculinity.  Our understanding of what it means to be masculine can’t be limited by some antiquated notion of machismo.  I believe the role of the masculine is to hold a safe place for the feminine to grow.  Unfortunately in this view there is a cap on how far the masculine model will take us.

When we were cavemen, we provided safety and security for our family and communities.  Over time safety and security is synonymous with financial security. Well now that feminine qualities are the skill sets that employers favor, it’s great that women are now dominating new opportunities in the workplace. The role of the masculine is to hold a safe and secure place for a woman to grow and that might mean financially.  Get over it guys. If you have a woman who loves you who also earns more than you, your job is still to provide emotional safety and security which is what our role as men has always been.

Many good men are lost. J.R.R. Tolkien said, “not all that wander are lost.” I believe those that wander aimlessly can use some direction. Be a man, don’t be afraid to ask for directions, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and most important don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.

newly transformed butterfly

Change and Transformation

“Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” – Marianne Williamson

I believe that an individual or an organizations difficulty with managing change comes from the confusion between the terms change and transformation. Not knowing the difference is why we fail at realizing our goals or achieving the results we want.  If we do achieve the goal, it’s often short lived. By understanding the difference we can better manage the actions that need to take place to achieve long lasting success.

The first question one needs to ask is, am I looking to change or transform? There are a lot of articles on philosophical ideas about the differences but I believe they fall short of a pragmatic definition.  On a side note, I believe that change and transformation at a personal and organization level are the same.  There is no question in my mind that an individual who has experienced managing transformation in their life make the greatest leaders in organizations managing change.  For this article I will discuss what I believe is the difference between change and transformation through personal perspective.

Change is the act of focused effort to modify or adjust one area of an individual life.  Transformation happens when change in all the areas of an individuals life occurs to support lasting change in one area.  It is critical that the difference between change and transformation is understood at the individual level. All the areas of an individuals life can be broken wond into what I refer to as the Human System.

The Human System breaks down into three levels are: Personal, Relationship, and Environment.  By taking a deeper look at each of these areas of our life we get a clear picture of how one affects the other and we can create a plan for a balanced approach achieving change that last.

At the personal level people seek to change Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Intellectual characteristics.

At the level of Relationships a person seeks to change Personal, Romantic, Social, and Professional interactions.

At an Environmental level people seek to change their Personal Space, Shared Space, Social Space, and Work Space.

If you want to change one area of your life you have to change all the areas of your life that support change in that one area.  If you want the change to be lasting, or sustainable, you must transform.

I believe an area people struggle is in personal health.  Many people focus on weight loss through diet and exercise with short-lived results.  The results are short lived because change usually occurred at a Personal level with diet and exercise.  Diet and exercise can impact all the areas of an individual’s life but the focus is rarely on relationships or environment.  Dieters who don’t tell anyone they are on a diet fail to foster relationships what can offer support and accountability.  Dieters who don’t structure an environment that fosters healthy behavior can fall into traps of habit.  For example dieters may spend hours in front of the TV when a healthier choice may be to go for a walk.  The truth of the matter is we don’t begin to make physical change that last until we change every area of our life to support the lasting change we desire.

Business professionals understand managing change is a systematic process.  When organizations transform they change business structure (environment), policies and procedures (dictate relationships), and they offer training (personal – Intellectual level support).  Where business fails is in their understanding of how transformation affects their associates personal lives.  People struggle through organizational change because they fail to see how change at work impacts their whole life.  By understanding how change in one area of our lives affects all other areas we can create a more comprehensive plan at managing transformation.  That is of course, if transformation is required for change to last.

If you want to change some area of your life, or if some area of your life is changing (environment or relationship), ask yourself, how can I manage each the areas of my life so that I can have the lasting change and transformation I want?

Purpose of life

Finding Purpose in LIFE

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

What do you want? Make a list. What do you want? is an easy question.  We’re programmed to respond. Usually with a long list of things. I’ve had that list. I wanted an expensive watch, a cool sports car, money, a sexy woman by my side, a great loft apartment in a luxury high rise, a great body and wardrobe to go with it. I want everything everyone else wants because that’s the game, right?  I want stuff I don’t really want because that’s how great marketing works… to make me want things I really don’t need to impress people I really don’t like.

Luckily, like a child, I’ve learned to ask WHY? Why do I want what I want? The more I asked why the more I discovered I don’t know what I really want.  I know I’m supposed to want stuff.  Capitalism doesn’t work if nobody wants stuff… I want stuff to fit in. I want stuff to feel good enough. Somehow I want stuff that everyone else wanted for me.  The more I questioned why I wanted the things I wanted I didn’t want it anymore.

So, what do I want?  Maybe I want is to choose what I want myself.  I rarely have made choices in my life that were truly my own.  I chose to pursue things, goals, etc. Many of my achievements have been note worthy but to me disappointing.  While I should have celebrated, I usually just started toward another goal that inevitably led to another disappointing accomplishment. It became clear. My goals are not my goals, and my wants are not my wants. They are the wants of my fears… Then what are my wants and how do I find them?

I’m at a point in my life that the more important question is what is my purpose? A far more difficult question to answer than, what do I want? After a lot of thought and writing, I came up with a simple acronym that encompasses fairly well the purpose of a GREAT LIFE.  I believe the purpose of LIFE is to Love, Inspire, Forgive, and Enjoy. In searching and finding who and what I love, what inspires me and how to inspire others, a practice of forgiveness, and enjoyment through pleasure, connection, and meaning, I’ve found my purpose to life. Today, for me, what I want is directed by what I feel my LIFE purpose is.

I offer you this simple exercise in finding your purpose.  Simply answer some of the questions to uncover the LIFE you may choose to pursue.

LOVE. Try writing about it. What do you love? Who do you love? Who loves you? What are you passionate about? What excites you? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What could you do if you had no fear? How much time do you spend with the people you love, doing what you love? What are you willing to do to spend more time in love?

INSPIRATION. What/who inspires you? Do you inspire others? How? Does your life inspire others to follow their dreams? Are you an inspiration to those who love you?

FORGIVENESS. Do you have a practice of forgiveness? Do you hold onto resentment or anger?

Enjoyment. Where do you find pleasure? Who do you enjoy connecting with? Who’s presence makes your heart beat? What brings you a sense of challenge and fulfillment? When are you most excited?

How much time do you spend in your purpose? Are you actively pursuing the LIFE that would bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment, meaning, and joy?

What do I want… I’m a broken record. I want to be successful in my career, I want to be married to a beautiful, loving, considerate, passionate, intelligent woman, and God willing, a healthy daughter or son. I want to have time to spend with people I love.  I want the people I love to have all the I could wish for myself.  I want to help people through my writing, workshops, speaking and coaching. I could go on…  I know what my LIFE purpose is and everyday, I choose to live my LIFE.  

The GREAT LIFE is driven by commitment to purpose. I strongly feel that if you uncover your LIFE purpose and have the courage to choose to live your LIFE everyday, you will one day look back on a truly GREAT LIFE.

self sabotage

Self Sabotage: You Only Have Yourself to Blame

“You only have yourself to blame.” – Dr. Albert Castanon

First, let me clarify the idea that you are to blame for your problem… As adult we choose the story we want to tell.  We choose the story we want for our lives.  As adults, free to make choices, we are the willing victims of those who would keep us from our highest potential.  As children we might have been victims. And NO child is to blame themselves for abuse that causes scars that in adults result in addiction, self abuse and self sabotage.  Yet as adults we are free to find help to cope with the past if it keeps us from living the life we desire.  As adults we choose self sabotage when we choose to not seek help or support.  As adults we choose to hold onto stories that somehow always seem destine to be repeated.  To those not willing to change your story, self sabotage will surly find you no matter how successful you become.

I am a self proclaimed expert in and on the topic of self sabotage.  I’m fascinated by it.  I’ve not only actively engaged in the process of sabotaging areas of my life but I’ve had the fortunate experience of watching others destroy their lives while working for many years in the casino industry.  I’m not taking this topic lightly… in fact I believe self-sabotage is the single greatest problem facing people today.

Self sabotage is the leading cause of death among Americans.  I’m making a generalization, but if you take heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, addiction related causes of death, and suicide together are leading causes of death among different demographics.  While many of these causes of death are very different one thing they have in common is these are diseases related to behavior.  Many of these causes of death are the result of poor choices that resulted in crippling diseases or sudden death.  But the disease is not what killed the person.  What kills people are the choices we make on a daily basis that leads to poor health.  The choice to overeat, drink to much, smoke, or the lack of willingness to get help, from a therapist, coach, or any number of professionals is the very definition of self sabotage.

Self sabotage is when we know what we want to do, we know how to do it, but we are unable to take action toward what is best.  Take for example, lunch…  When I go to lunch, I know the chicken salad is what my body needs.  I know it would taste great.  I really like chicken salads!  But I choose the burger and fries. Make this choice over years in one’s life and don’t be surprised when the doctor says you have heart disease, or diabetes, or hypertension, all caused by consistent choices that hurt your health.

Self sabotage is knowing what to do but unable to take action on the behavior that will get us what we want.  There are a number of factors that contribute to this but taking an open and honest appraisal at behavior that is personally harmful is a great start.

In another blog post I wrote that commitment to personal growth means there is no right or wrong, only honest evaluation of what works and what doesn’t and the willingness and courage to try something different. Self sabotage is often the result of not willing to change.  Identifying behavior that has long term negative consequences is the fist step.  Practice these 4 steps to start the process of overcoming self sabotage:

1. Get Honest.  We engage in only two behaviors every day, behavior that keeps us stuck or falling backward, or behavior that keeps us pushing forward.  Honestly look at your day and ask yourself do I spend more time moving toward my dream or away from it?

2. Take Responsibility.  For a while I use to meditate on the following affirmations: My life is my responsibility; Nobody is to blame for the life I choose as an adult;  I am the only one responsible for my life. I’m 38 years old, if I’m not happy it’s my choice.  If someone is keeping me from the life I want, I get them on my team for support, or I cut them from my life.  My life is my responsibility and I own all the good and turn lemons into lemonade.

3. Get Support. Even the greatest athletes in the world have a coach.  Support can come from anyone so long as you create healthy boundaries and you clearly articulate your vision and how the other person can support you.  Ask for the support you need, not the support someone offers.  I recently went to a trainer to work toward some health goals.  I asked for what I needed and he proceeded to tell me what he offered. What he offered was not what I needed so I found someone new!

4. Protect Your Success. You can’t outrun self sabotage.  Self sabotage is a powerful addiction… You may easily outrun it and cover it up with achievement after achievement but it will catch you when you least suspect it.  It starts with a tiny voice that says: your not good enough; your a fraud; you don’t deserve it… If you have a history of self-sabotage, keep a close eye on the negative thoughts. Particularly the one’s that tell say you don’t deserve success.  This includes the thought to share or give away the rewards you earn.

In the blog posts that follow I will cover the concepts behind my framework for understanding and building High Performance Psychology, motivation, the change cycle, emotional response to change, and understanding change vs. transformation.  A clear understanding of these principles will help you to crate a map to overcome your resistance to having a live filled with love, inspiration, forgiveness, and enjoyment.

Fuck it

Finding MY Voice

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

Its been a couple months at writing this blog, and while my site statistics are a little flat, I accept that this is all part of the process.  Since there are so few readers of my blog, I thought I’d share very open and honest about my process so far.  I’d have to say that my most difficult struggle so far is in finding my voice.

I’m beginning to realize that I speak from three very different voices.   There is the image of Albert that I want you to see who is “normal.”  There is Dr. Albert, the expert and passionate professional.  The most open, honest, and vulnerable of the three is the Albert who struggles with the same worries and problems that we all have.  No one voice is better than the other and they all have a place in communicating my philosophy of the GREAT LIFE.  The struggle I experience in my writing comes from the fear of not being good enough.  This fear causes me to be who I think you want me to be.  The ultimate sign of people pleasing and the key to failure. 

How do I need to be so that you like me?  It’s a question we all ask…  I think we all know the more important question is, How do I need to be so that I like me?  I don’t like myself when I’m not me.  I don’t like having to pretend to fit in.  The number one reason I love owning my own business is getting the opportunity to work with people I like and with people who like me.  When I worked in a traditional corporate setting, I didn’t always like myself.  I loved my work and loved the people I worked with, but the corporate culture created social “norms” that didn’t feel normal.  I went to work and tried to behave in a way that made me fit in to the culture and realized working in a traditional corporate environment wasn’t for me.  Leaving was an expression of my voice.   

So here I am, trying to find my voice, again.  Am I saying what I think you want to hear so you like me?  Or am I being open and honest with you because I like me?  Day to day it changes.  As I grow, I’m dealing with the pains of uncertainty.  Who am I as I continue to grow?  Who will I meet?  Who or what will I have to let go of?  Will I like the person I become?  Sometime, I don’t like who I’m becoming.  I feel a loss of control.  Albert Einstein said “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”  In my case everything is new and I’m afraid of making mistakes and often do.  I don’t like it… I’m afraid, you might not like me if I were not perfect. But I realize, I’m not perfect but neither are you.

We are not not perfect.  I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who was.  I’ve known lots of people who present an image of success that is pretty perfect.  I’ve learned through my work with some of them that they are not.  I’ve had incredibly successful people come to me and let me tell you, things aren’t always what they seem.  Some of the most successful people don’t have the luxury of being themselves because the’re too busy managing the way others see them.  I know that is not the life I want.  Yet fear of not being good enough for the life I want causes me to lose my voice and speak from a voice and perspective that I hope will gain your approval.  I can’t… I’m sorry. So fuck it.

Here are the steps I followed to find and express my voice.  I hope you follow them and find freedom in learning to speak from your most authentic self. 3/4 steps to finding my voice:

1. Choose it.  It’s either this life that I love for me, or I choose a life I don’t want for you.  I can’t make you happy if I’m not happy.  So I’ve chosen to follow my bliss and find my voice and share it with those who care.

2. Own it.  This is my LIFE.  This is my purpose.  The GREAT LIFE is not for everyone… Those who want you to live their way of life, probably aren’t living their own.  You define your GREAT LIFE and it’s all yours. Own your GREAT LIFE with pride.

3. Nurture it.  Your voice will evolve.  Challenging old beliefs, opinions, thoughts, may leave you rethink your own position.  Be flexible and open.  Identify when you are holding onto an old belief and question whether YOU actually believe what you believe.

4. Fuck it.  Fuck it because I don’t want to use this word because I don’t like the word but sometimes I need to say it.  Fuck it.  Because those of you who are offended by the word don’t need to be here; because FUCK is a feeling you will have if you pursue the GREAT LIFE, because it’s not easy and you will struggle.  You will make mistakes, you will be disappointed, you will feel scared, you will want to turn back and settle… Fuck it.  I’ve come this far, and there is no turning back.  The GREAT LIFE is my life and I want to live it, learn to accept it, and enjoy it.  I hope you do the same.

Sending you all lots of love and wish you a long and blessed GREAT LIFE.