Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did.

I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong. In fact, my difficulty is that I know I suck.

We generally seem to gravitate towards doing those things we are good at and shy away from our areas of weakness. This is a big problem. When trying to develop a new skill or hobby, we are usually unsatisfied with the results that we are getting. Not only that, but we will continue to perform poorly at the new technique until we have enough experience to feel confident, or we decide to leave our egos behind and just make a go of it. Here are four things we can both do to make some progress.

Give yourself some time

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. To make tangible improvement takes effort and time. No time invested results in zero gain. It’s that simple. Start with scheduling time to work on your new skill. Develop a practice routine and stick to it. I find it easier to do this if I put it on the calendar as a recurring task. To get from where you are to where you want to be you’ll need to invest your time, lose your fear of failure, and learn to enjoy the process.

Lower your expectations

It’s not uncommon to give ourselves unrealistic timetables for seeing remarkable progress. Slow down, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. For me, that means learning to play the super-easy tunes from memory. No fancy strumming patterns just simple down strums to the beat from beginning to end. Once I can do that, I can add some upstrokes to make it sound more interesting. What is the most basic level of achievement that lets you know you are on the right track?

Look for incremental improvement

I’m not going to go from complete beginner to improvisational virtuoso in a year, and neither are you. Whether you are growing your spreadsheet skills, learning a foreign language, or have picked up a new musical instrument. You will go further if you are observant of signs that you are getting better. Analyze your progress and identify what you are doing better this week compared to last. That will help you to remain motivated and continue to try.

Choose the tougher road

There will be slips too. You may have a comparable skill that you can substitute for the one you are learning. That makes it easy to revert to your previous habits. Unfortunately, you won’t improve that way. You need to challenge the new skill. Sometimes it means taking a step backward so that you can take two forwards.

In baseball, switch hitters are usually better from one side of the plate than the other. For example, the greatest switch hitter of all time, Mickey Mantle’s batting average was 50 points higher from the right side of the plate (.330 vs. .281 from the left). Just having the ability to do both sent fear through the opposing manager regardless of where The Mick stood (372 home runs lefty and 164 batting right). Would you rather pitch to a right-handed hitter that gets on base an awful lot or a left-handed power hitter? There is no correct answer to that question.

Currently, Shohei Ohtani probably spends more hours practicing his craft than any other player in the majors. Because he needs to be both a good starting pitcher and a hitter worthy of a place in the lineup on the days he is not on the mound. That’s a tall order.

The same is true for you. The only way to develop new skills and abilities is to work at them and put them on display.

Being good at new skills and abilities is fun. Going through the learning process is not. For me, it means not letting my guitars collect dust, and playing easier versions of the songs I like. It also requires that I add guitar time to my schedule and find joy in my improvements, no matter how small. I could write about music. I am pretty good at that. Though I think it would be more fun to play. I know the older, wiser version of myself will thank me for sticking with it.

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

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The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did. I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong.

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand

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How to Do Better Live Video Events

Hosting my first live video event.

Recently I hosted my first Facebook Live. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I did, however, learn how to do better live video events.

In this story, I’ll share tips for having a successful live video event. Whether you use Facebook, YouTube, or another channel these strategies can help you before, during, and after your event to ensure success. Not just this time, but in future events as well.

Before

Prior to my live, I organically marketed the event both in the Facebook group and to my own friends. I also got my more influential friends to invite people. Because my group is private, one needs to be a member to participate. So I saw my community grow due to this activity.

I have supporters all over the world. Therefore, choosing one time for my event was difficult. I decided to do the same program in the morning and in the evening. This was a big plus (more about that later).

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same.

My email list is modest, and many of the people on it are also in the group. Nevertheless, I did send out a reminder about the event. My mom emailed me back and told me the links to the event didn’t work. This was true for non-members. So I had the opportunity to send out an “Oopsie email”. Saying there was an error in the initial email. An “Oopsie email” is one where you admit you made a mistake in the one you sent out earlier. This email allows you to re-engage an audience and piques interest for those who may not have seen the first one. It worked! This text-only email actually had more opens than the first fancy one that included images and stylized formatting.

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same. This event was to introduce my book and show appreciation to people for their support. My plan was to read an excerpt from Win the Day then explain the format and finally take questions. I practiced reading, made a simple deck, and practiced about ten times.

No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.

Checking RSVPs, I found that my morning session had about ⅓ of the participants registered as the evening. A quick check of the morning audience allowed me to more specifically target the presentation and provided a smaller audience to test my content on.

During

The first thing that happened was that my frame rate was too low. Facetime would not let me access my video. So I immediately switched to my phone. That did work. However, the text was so small that I couldn’t tell how many people were actually watching, nor could I read their comments. To remedy that, I turned from portrait to landscape mode about five minutes in.

Ha ha ha, the video was sideways. It turns out that the platform will use your initial video to lock in an aspect ratio, So I was literally sideways for the remainder of my video.

Whatsmore, on the iPhone, I was unable to use my slide deck. I couldn’t read some of the questions and comments either. Luckily my reading glasses were on the desk. So I put them on and was able to read the scroll. That helped the Q & A session to go ok. There were a lot of personal questions about the journey that I hadn’t practiced answering. As a result, I was overly emotional. I am glad I had that first run with a small audience before doing it again later in the day.

For the second session, I had a friend help me to check my video and I had access to the Facebook dashboard. That was helpful, because 35 people attended, and all told there were more than 300 comments. That’s what I call overwhelm. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone with a larger following would manage the constant feed of questions and comments on their own. Talking, planning the segue ways, and reading comments all at the time could have led to panic. Fortunately, my preparation and practice had me prepared.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.

Due to having an earlier run at the same content, I was more confident and less emotional in the second session. While I didn’t answer every question, there were more than enough to get me through the sixty-minute session.

After

I received feedback from members of my inner circle and deconstructed the event. It was definitely successful, and I met my goals of authentically engaging with my followers. It would have been better if I had a handle on how to manage the comments and questions. When I watch live events, it seems kind of funny that the presenters are squinting to read the screen. I discovered that is the result of the limits on technology. Having the audience start their questions with “I have a question” helped find those needles in the haystack.

I didn’t really enjoy that the only engagement was messages, and the focus was all on me. Being more familiar with virtual meeting software, maybe using Zoom or a similar platform in the future, would provide a way to better engage the audience.

While not directly related to the event, reading my introduction aloud helped me to find some areas of it that could have been written better. Following this event, I went back and edited the introduction again. As far as writing and editing go, reading stories or chapters aloud definitely helps to write in a tone that is more fluid. After all, most of us silently speak the words we are reading.

Conclusion

Doing a live event is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend you promote your event to get people excited. Encourage your connections to invite their friends and colleagues. They will only share your event if the topic is clear and has value to them. Plan and practice several times, on video if possible. Planning will help you handle adversity and practicing will help you to sound more authentic. Get a friend to do a trial run with you, and expect the unexpected. Then when the time comes to turn on your camera, take a deep breath and prepare to excite your tribe. It’s showtime.

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How to Create Effective Training

A guide to avoiding training that sucks

As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things you will do is bring new people on board to work your vision. The business has been your baby since its inception. Now you need to dilute that passion with employees. Not only that, but they also need to understand your expectations and systems. That calls for training that doesn’t suck.

I told them a hundred times, but they still don’t get it!

Providing proficient training means you need to understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to have a handle on their communication styles and how they learn. You can’t expect everyone to think and act the same way you do. That kind of top-down training leads to unmotivated and unproductive employees.

Having a clear vision of who you are training and what makes them tick will allow you to modify your training so that it meets your objectives and has you feeling confident in delegating tasks to the new members of your team. 

Are your employees’ visual learners? They will need you to demonstrate what you want them to do. Are they kinesthetically focused? They will need hands-on time to grasp the concepts you had planned to lecture them on. Do your new employees do better reading? For those folks, creating a manual would be sufficient. And if they are verbal learners, having them explain how to do the task will help to stimulate their minds. There are seven different learning styles and their variations. Each type of learner will benefit most when the training is adapted to their learning modality.

You will also want to consider your team members’ DiSC profiles. Are they leaders or followers? Are they perfectionists or is it sufficient that the tasks are done acceptably? Understanding your employees’ working style preferences will help you to adapt the training. DiSC knowledge will also enhance your ability to decide strategically who to assign tasks, and how to hire for specific roles. You can learn more about DiSC here.

What do I teach them?

You have a wide view of the tasks and how those benefit your company. However, your new employees may only see those as chores that they need to complete in order to get a paycheck. You’ve got to change that perception. Employees are highly motivated by the sense that they are contributing to the organization. Therefore, don’t just tell them what to do, also include some background information. They’ll want to know why. That makes them feel like they are part of the process.

When you consider how you are going to explain the tasks, break them down to their smallest elements. Don’t miss a single detail, because some people will need to niche it down that much. While others will take a more holistic view. Those people will do better by learning as they go. Remember, you are managing people, not tasks. Keep the needs of your staff in mind as you dispense new assignments.

They are now performing the basic functions, but I want them to do more

Congratulations, you created an effective training program, and your staff is meeting about 50% of its expectations. That’s a big win. But now you want them to raise their collective game. It’s time for feedback. Feedback is better done one to one. You will get more authentic communication that way. Ask the employee to evaluate their performance. Talk to them about how they feel the process and their productivity could be improved. Ask for their advice about adjustments to the system. Then give them the freedom to do their best work.

If their answers are not so free flowing, try suggesting performance enhancements you would like to see and create a plan together for improving productivity. It may feel like you are spoon feeding solutions to this type of person, but that is the level of engagement they will need to achieve the results you envision. Regardless of the employees’ working style preferences, make sure that both of you are evaluating the performance. That way you can agree on expectations, what constitutes success, and continue to improve the system. These were the goals of your training when you decided to conduct it.

Tying it all together

Training is an investment in your business and its people. It may seem that the process is labor-intensive, but after doing it a few times, you will have a system you can use for any employee doing the same task and more easily create new trainings as well. Furthermore, educating staff on the whys for your processes and spending time on feedback will make them feel like they are more than hired help. For any business, this builds loyalty and lays the foundation for great business culture. Finally, once your employees have demonstrated competence in these skills, it is one less thing you need to worry about. That will free you up to work on other needs, like growing the business.

Originally posted on Medium.com

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Get More Out of Your Physical Workouts

Apply what you learn in the gym to other aspects of your life

There are some activities we do in life that hold the key to success in several seemingly unrelated areas. Weight training is one such activity for me.

I started going to the gym about 3 months ago. During that time, I increased my strength by 21%. That is incredible. Over these last three months, I have rekindled my enjoyment of weight training, something I had not done in the last 6 years or more.

After achieving new thresholds, we rarely reduce our performance expectations. When we have breakthroughs in life we forget that we had to struggle to achieve them.

One thing I came to realize was that making gains in weight training is very similar to developing yourself in life. One way this is true is we are always pushing to our max, whether that be reps, weight or commitment to a project.

Success enables us to set new performance norms. After achieving those new thresholds, we rarely reduce our performance expectations. When we have breakthroughs in life we often forget that we had to struggle to achieve those. We expect this new norm to be the standard not just for us, but those around us too. However, it is through struggle that we learn how to achieve. In the gym a new weight means starting the process all over again. In life achievement comes with a new set of expectations.

I do three sets on each machine. The first two sets are at a weight where I can complete 12 reps. Then I raise the weight by 9 kg (20 pounds) and push out the reps to exhaustion. If I can do 10 reps of the higher weight two sessions in a row, I raise the base weight by 5 kg (10 pounds).

The first time I do the increased weight it seems impossible. I often think, “What an accomplishment it would be to lift that amount of weight 10 times.” I am lucky if I can complete three reps. In life, we may feel discouraged by such a low level of accomplishment. Gradually, however, that number climbs and your skills develop. Three this week, five the next couple of weeks, then eight and finally ten. It may take weeks or even months to reach the next weight, but with persistence it is achievable.

There are some things we need to do continuously and without seeing the results we desire to get better.

In most cases, I have only increased the weights I am lifting once in these initial months. In a few rare cases, I raised the bar twice or more in that time. Just like in life, some things we have more aptitude for and make progress in faster than in others. My strengths are torso rotations, leg extensions, chest press and pull downs. I make regular gains in those areas.

This is similar to the development I’ve experienced in my writing. Through the experience of writing a book, I have made substantial gains in the amount of content I am able to produce on a daily basis too. From struggling to write 700 to a 1,000 words in a day to now being able to push out upwards of 5,000 on a good day. In what areas does progress seem to come easily to you now?

Maybe I am measuring the wrong thing here. Perhaps I should evaluate my ability to reach down and tie my shoes without shortness of breath instead of counting the number of leg presses I can do at 300 pounds.

Conversely, I have made very little gains on the shoulder and leg press machines. Initially the reps always seem easy and like today will be the day I break my ten rep requirement. However, when I get to that last set I am lucky to complete seven reps. Some days I lift less than I did the last time I worked out. Just like in life, there are some things we need to do continuously and without seeing the results we desire to get better. I may not be lifting more weight on these machines, but my quads and shoulders are getting bigger, my balance is better and I have a feeling of accomplishment when I finish these two stations.

Maybe I am measuring the wrong thing here. Instead of looking to advance weights perhaps I should evaluate muscle tone or the ability to reach down and tie my shoes without shortness of breath. The shock that I couldn’t do that was one reason I started going to the gym again after such a long break.

Making improvements in life is not easy. It requires us to undertake challenges that are painful, seem insurmountable and sometimes even appear to be counter-productive. Then, suddenly we achieve a major breakthrough, and experience joy and pride in our accomplishment. Likewise, muscle training requires us to believe that what we are doing is making an impact, even if we can not always see the results.

If you are wondering about your progress, measure your results. Evaluate and consider if you are measuring the right things, then look for signs that you are moving in the right direction. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Improve yourself today and you will reap the rewards tomorrow.

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How To Fight Back Against Power Harassment

Don't be a victim

When it gets tough, your options seem to shrink

Recently, a friend of mine started a new job. As to be expected, they were initially assigned all the tasks that no one else wanted to do. Considering these tasks part of the training process, they did the work with a smile. Though they came home exhausted each night, they felt they were getting a better understanding of the job and its requirements.

Now, three months later, my friend has settled into their position and their smile has turned to a lump of stress that they can’t get rid of no matter what they do. The work is fine. It’s the people that are the problem. A pair of her coworkers (can’t exactly call them colleagues) have decided that she is a threat to their control of the work environment and set out to destroy her reputation through false accusations and nefarious behavior.

Relying on a friend to listen without judgment or proffering their own opinions will help you to get your problems out of your head and into the open.

We have all been in toxic situations and oftentimes there is no help available from the outside to deal with these bullies. The solutions need to come from inside of ourselves and the support of our friends. Having someone to talk with about the situation can help.

Finding an empathetic ear will allow you to voice your perception of what’s happening and the solutions you find viable. Relying on a friend to listen without judgment or proffering their own opinions will help you to get it out of your head and into the open. This will help you to analyze the situation more clearly and raise points you may not have thought about previously. Tell your friend what your expectations are for the conversation so they know how to listen, the types of questions to ask and how to interpret your body language.

As you get it all out in the open, you have some decisions to make, should you pursue some kind of retribution for the bully’s behavior, change your working style to smooth the situation, start looking for a new position, or just keep going forward accepting this harassment. Each of these has repercussions.

Taking your issues to your boss or further up the corporate ladder could provide you peace of mind that you are reporting a disturbance in the workplace and may get you some help in the form of counselling or a transfer. The bully could get reprimanded or dismissed and all will be right at work again. Or...The company could choose to do nothing, even worse they could leak the fact that you launched a claim to the perpetrator. That would make matters much worse. Here in Japan it is often the one that stands up seeking justice that is seen as the problem. So it is vital that you consider your options carefully before starting an internal probe.

Oftentimes what is perceived as conflict in the workplace can be attributed to working style differences. These can be defined using a behavioral model like DISC. Explaining the intricacies of DISC is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find a detailed description of it and how to use DISC to understand your work environment here.

Basically DISC relates to four primary working style preferences, Ds, Is, Ss and Cs. Ds are dominant. They are take charge people who expect to see progress and have little time for reasons or excuses. The senior managers in a company are usually high Ds. Is are Influencers, they like people and enjoy conversations. If you are a high I, you will be quick to volunteer to help but may forget what you’ve signed yourself up for later. High Is are often sales people. Ss are steady. They find serenity in helping others and being a part of the team. Ss rarely push back, instead they choose to go along with the flow. You’ll find Ss in administrative and support roles. Cs are conscious. They prefer facts and data to people. Tell a C what you want done and by when, then leave them to their devices to figure it out. Cs like rules and are skilled at using systems. You will find Cs in detail oriented work like accounting and writing code.

If you are an I and your colleague is a C. They will have difficulty understanding your friendly and carefree style. Likewise, you may find them unwilling to listen to your ideas and opinions as those are speculations and not based on hard data.

Similarly, if you are a high D and you work with a high Ss, you may be frustrated that they seem to never make decisions or that they are unwilling to take a lead role in any project. While your colleague may see you as mean and overly direct, expecting the impossible.

These differences in working style can lead to caverns of misunderstanding. So what can you do? Adapt. Adapt to your role and the responsibilities of your position. If you are offering an opinion to a high C, for example, include some hard data to support your suggestion. The high D boss could make expectations clear to the I and S so that they know what is expected.

Before choosing an option that allows you to stay at the company, consider if it is really a problem with just one person or a toxic company culture.

Using excuses like “it’s not my style” when faced with conflict management or new assignments, is not acceptable in the professional world where you are paid to get things done. You need to learn to style switch to accommodate the needs of others just as you expect them to change to make collaboration smoother. As an entrepreneur, this style switching is even more necessary to create good relationships with the clients you have but also to take advantage of new opportunities that come your way.

Your other solution is to leave the company. This is where having savings and a good network come in handy. The benefit of having money is that it provides you with solutions. If you are struggling to make ends meet and this job is all you have, then you are in a vulnerable situation and the bullies can smell that. To avoid this situation, start putting aside an emergency fund, if you haven’t done that already. Keeping your network warm with regular contact and doing favors will provide you with an asset you can utilize in looking for a new position down the road. Another option for exiting the situation could be a transfer. Before taking this option, consider if it is really a problem with just one person or a toxic company culture. Will your complaint stain your reputation? These are things you will need to think about carefully before choosing the internal options.

Toxic environments do not bring out the best in you. They usually result in diminished results and feelings of inadequacy. Contrarily, positive environments will help you to achieve more than you ever thought possible. Work environments at the extremes of the spectrum are few and far between. You usually get as much out of the culture as you put in. 

Finally, before you choose any of these options, it is a good idea to take a look in the mirror and consider if the problem is you. If you have experienced the same harassment in many roles, then it is possible that you are misinterpreting the situation. Consider your role in the problem and if there is anything you could have done to mitigate the predicament. Is there some way you could come to an amicable understanding with the other person? As mentioned above, a high I may think their boss is a bully, while a high D boss is just after results. An increased understanding of your coworkers, the way they work and the situation may help to alleviate the problems.

Bullying and power harassment are unfortunately prevalent in many work environments. They don’t reveal themselves in the interview and it is only after you settle into a job that the real culture is exposed. Take some time to understand your colleagues and what makes them tick. Despite finding a new position, keep your options open by maintaining a strong connection to the people in your network, and keep your bank account stocked. Then look for what you can do to contribute to a positive atmosphere. In the end, if the job doesn’t work out, re-enter the job market. After all, it’s a job, not your life.

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Pin Collecting at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Today will be my 13th day of volunteer activities, and along the way, I have enjoyed every day. You can check my previous post for evidence of that. One thing that has really become an interesting measure of the ability of each one of us volunteers to make a difference is the number of pins we receive.

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Don’t Surrender to Your Fear

Fear has the ability to halt your progress if you let it

As I walked out of my boss’s office one thing she said stuck in my mind above everything else, “We are downsizing, so your job and department are being eliminated.”

What!? After spending my entire career getting to this position. One I really love. I am now being pushed out the door. I really had no idea what I was going to do. Afterall, I had invested most of my professional efforts into this company and building skills that allowed me to move up the corporate ladder. Now the rungs have been cut and I’m seeing myself speed down the ladder, like a terrified teenager plunging to their death in a bad horror movie.

Fortunately, I had the sense to invite my fear to lunch. We considered the past, did an inventory of the present and made a plan for the future. When our lunch was over, fear and I shook hands and went our separate ways. Your meeting with fear may not be so cordial. You may feel him taking a firm grip on you and heisting your hopes and dreams of a comfortable future. This doesn’t have to be the case. You can find a way past fear. A way to develop confidence and not just survive your travesties but to prosper through transcendence of the experience.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Often we find comfort in the past, even a confining one. We know the past, and it doesn’t hold any surprises. We believe the past offers us stability. This is, however, not true. The past restricts us. It limits our growth and stifles potential. While living with the limits of your situation provides a sense of stability, it will never transform you. Surrendering to your circumstance will keep you bound to a life of subservience. You deserve more than that!

Life consists of ups and downs. It is a series of peaks and valleys that bring you both joy and sorrow. Realizing that your existence is fluid, always changing, will help you to free yourself from the obstacles that are holding you back.

Looking out over the horizon, we see a vast unknown. As a result, it is natural to gaze out into the void with anxiety and fear. Even though you are moving into uncharted territory, you are not doing it alone and unprepared. You have experience, skills and a network of people to help you through these trying times. You need to take inventory of your resources, plot out how to use them efficiently, and take action. This is your opportunity. March into the future bravely, accepting your fears and finding a way to navigate a course beyond them.

One of the greatest discoveries a person makes, one of their great surprises, is to find they can do what they were afraid they couldn’t do.

What are you afraid of?

As you look at the road that lies ahead you, may have hopes and dreams of what your life could be. Maybe those ideals end with, “but someday,’ or ‘if only.” This limiting self-talk blinds you to possibilities. It keeps you static in a rapidly moving world. Why not take a few steps down the road to discover if you can see your future with better clarity?

Fear causes you to become immobilized, unable or unwilling to take the next action. You may be apprehensive about your future. Maybe you feel that failure is inevitable. That there is no sense in trying to get beyond it, so why even try. You can be better than that. How can you know what you are capable of if you don’t even try? Dip your toe in the water. Then take some time to honestly evaluate the experience. This is the way to discover the solutions that work best for you. It’s all trial and error, correct and make another attempt.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Of course, you are going to fail, that is how you learn to succeed. Naturally, it won’t be easy. Nothing worth its weight ever is. Nevertheless, take the moment for all it’s worth and wrestle your success from it. You are the master of your life, in spite of your fear and shortcomings. It is through this process of facing your fears that you will reduce apprehension and build confidence. As you build confidence you will gradually begin to understand that you are where you need to be at this moment, doing what you have to do, in order to become the person you are meant to be. Seize the moment.

I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom — how great is that?

Accept failure as a by-product of the process. A chance to develop, become more intelligent, stronger and more prepared for the battles ahead. Failure does not equate to surrender — It is an indicator that you need to learn more. In that process you will comprehend how to succeed.

You don’t have the benefit of hindsight. As a result, you do not know the reason for the experience you are having, what you are to take from it and how it can help to guide you to a better existence. You need to complete your due diligence, have faith and jump. No regrets.

Make fear a colleague

Understanding your fears and what feeds them is vital to overcoming them. We tend to fear what we do not understand. Learning about your fear and why you are experiencing it will help you to overcome the anxieties that accompany your strong feelings of apprehension and maybe even terror. This knowledge will better equip you to manage not only the situation, but also future dilemmas.

Examine your fears and anxieties. Learn to identify what triggers and feeds them. Then educate yourself with solutions for overcoming them. In time, instead of looking for avenues of retreat, you’ll be confidently proclaiming: “Been there, done that!” And chalking up victories big and small along the way.

This ability to face your fears head-on will eventually lead you to freedom. Freedom to stand up and be recognized as a person of value. Freedom to live your life on your terms. Freedom to unleash the talents and abilities you have locked inside for too long. This all starts with looking your fears in the eye and considering the message they have for you. Fear is not a bad thing, it comes with a message of the need for you to take action. You need to be the one to manage your fears. Control them, don’t let them control you.

Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person. Seth Godin

It's your life

This life is the only one you have. You can choose to peek through the peephole when opportunity in the form of a problem or conflict knocks at your door and lock the deadbolt. Or you can open that door and greet the experience with a firm and friendly, “Hi, how ya’ doing!?” It’s completely up to you.


Letting an abusive partner control you is not ok. Accepting to work in a situation where you are unappreciated isn’t acceptable. Believing that you are not worthy of achieving your goals or that someone has it better than you, will never allow you to unlock your potential. When trouble knocks you down, get up and force a smile, Then punch it right back. Accept nothing but the best from yourself each and every day. Like weight training, you will grow stronger with practice. The key is to keep working to combat your fears. If you fall off the horse, get up and try again. You won’t get today back, so do what you can to win this day.

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Tokyo 2020 – Ready to Serve

Yesterday was my first day of volunteer activities for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and it was full of intrigue. From the start to the end, it was all an enjoyable learning experience. Step 1 – Leave early, just in case I learned Murphy’s law, If something can go wrong, it will, very early in my

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Feeling Stressed Out? Get Back to Nature

forest

It’s easy to get absorbed in the day to day of your life. You get up, go to work, come home, do your evening routine, and then it’s time for bed. Do this over and over, and soon you’ll feel as if you’re just a cog in the machine. This is amplified when the view from your window is a concrete jungle, your commute is typified by trains packed to the breaking point or traffic jams that go on for hours. There must be an escape from that insanity, a way to be more connected and alive.

No matter where you live, there’s most likely nature nearby. Getting out into nature provides an opportunity to recharge your batteries and ease your nerves. In fact, there are so many benefits to getting out in nature that making it a part of your weekly routine is essential to creating and maintaining good mental health.

Getting yourself out into nature will help you to refocus, relax and realign yourself to who you are and your greater purpose. After all, you are more than just a cog in the machine that gets a day or two of rest before you have to go out and do it all over again.


According to a 2019 study by Matthew White, getting out in nature for as little as a couple of hours each week can have powerful health benefits. Those benefits include: reduced stress and anxiety, better physical and mental health, and increased cognitive power. No special skills required. Just get outside and experience nature around you.


About 10 years before this study came out, I produced a video podcast called Relaxation Media. The purpose of these video programs was to give the viewer a few minutes of calming nature on their smartphone or computer and to simulate the feel of being out in nature. I believed then, as I do now that experiencing nature even virtually, has healing qualities. The podcast ended up becoming the #1 video podcast for wellness worldwide with thousands of downloads of each episode.


Today you can put on a pair of VR goggles and become immersed in a nature experience that’s so realistic your brain will actually believe you are outside. While this is a good way to reset, it’s even better to physically explore nature in your own area. Smell the trees, the grass, and the flowers. Hear the different bird calls and the gently flowing stream, if your park or recreational area has one. Even watching people play with their dogs and children will help to bring about a feeling of serenity.


Here are seven activities you can do to touch nature regularly:
1. Mindful Observation
Sit on a bench or somewhere that you can be still for some time. Then, just watch your surroundings. Listen to the sounds and tune into the smells around you. Experience it all. You don’t need to analyze or think about anything. Just be in the moment, a living part of the habitat. Breath deeply and feel.


At first, this will be extremely difficult. You may be able to mindfully observe your surroundings for only a few moments before reaching for your phone, wanting to take a picture, or otherwise disengage from the situation. Keep practicing and soon you’ll be focusing for 5, 10, 20, even 30-minutes at a time, just you and the nature surrounding you.


As I was sitting on a bench one afternoon, three lizards, a large spider, a centipede, and five different kinds of birds all stopped by to visit. These are things I never would have experienced if I’d had my face in my phone or been walking. Sitting still and letting nature come to you will reveal pleasant surprises.


2. Blind Emersion
For this exercise, close your eyes and let your other senses guide your experience. What do you hear? Is it approaching or receding? Which way is the wind blowing? How does the air smell? Touch the ground and just experience it, don’t label it. Just feel. This heightening of the senses brings me back to simpler days of playing in the park and letting my imagination run free. I hope it does the same for you.


3. Forest Bathing (Shinrin-Yoku)
In this Japanese practice, all you need to do is take a walk in nature and immerse yourself in the environment. Notice the terrain, plants, and wildlife you encounter as you walk. As above, soon you’ll have a sense that you’re connected to the environment surrounding you. That feeling provides both power and serenity.


4. Explore A New Natural Area Near You
If you are well acquainted with one park or natural area near you, look for another one that is close by. Set a date and time to explore this new area. That can make it feel like you’re going on a new adventure. What’s even better, if you have a friend that also likes being out in nature arrange to meet them there. Then you can enjoy the outdoors together. This is a great opportunity to strengthen your bond.


5. Sketch
Regardless of your artistic ability, sketching requires you to really observe your subject to capture its essence on paper. Whether you sketch the landscape, or the grass under your feet. Drawing your experience will help you to connect to nature t and experience a personal relationship with it.


6. Journal about your outdoor experiences
If you don’t like sketching, you can also do a bulleted journal about what you’re observing in your outdoor environment. How do you feel when you’re outside? What animals, insects, plants are you seeing? Are you seeing any people regularly? You may be inspired to write poetry or explore other creative outlets while you’re in nature too. Many of the greatest poets, writers and musical artists throughout history were inspired by nature.


7. Observation Over Time
If you visit the same spot on a regular basis, you’ll begin to recognize subtle changes. Noticing the differences from month to month and season to season is an experience you’ll carry with you. That recognizable ambiance is something that you can recall through meditation whenever you need mental or emotional realignment.


Tying it all together
Touching nature will increase your peace of mind, and it only takes a few minutes a day to engage with your surroundings. Whether you head to nearby open spaces or out to your own backyard, taking some time to connect with nature will help you to understand yourself and your environment in ways that are engaging and empowering.

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How to Understand If That Job Is Right For You

What is your DISC Type

Gaining a competitive advantage with DISC

Ever chosen a job you thought would be a good fit and later found that it wasn’t your cup of tea? Or maybe you are job hunting and looking for that position where you can continue to grow over the next 5-10 years. If you are looking for some insurance that you are applying for the right positions, you might want to use the DISC process to measure the opportunity and your fitness for that job?

What is DISC?

DISC is a natural work style preferences assessment that groups workers into four categories: D – I – S – and C based on traits like task or people focused, and whether you are assertive or reserved. DISC considers that your past behaviors and tendencies are a good indicator of the way you will prefer to work in the future. 

While this may not always be true, it is such a reliable tool that some companies have included DISC tendencies as part of the internal job description and use the assessment as a portion of the initial screening process. The ideal person for a position in the finance department may be a high C or conscientious type and if your assessment shows you to be a high I or Influencer, you may be immediately screened out of further evaluation for the position. That being said, it is not advantageous to game the test as you will only find that you dislike the work in the end.

You will, however, have a distinct advantage by knowing your DISC profile and the jobs that align with your strengths. So let’s take a dive into understanding DISC.

There are four quadrants to DISC moving from top left clockwise those are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Conscientious (C). Ds and Is are assertive, they will make decisions and feel that they have power over their environment. Ss and Cs, on the other hand, are more reserved and feel that their environment dictates what is and is not acceptable. 

At the same time, Ds and Cs often feel that they work in an unfavorable environment, while Is and Ss are generally more optimistic. Is and Ss also prefer to work with people and believe that there is a person who can solve any problem. However, Ds and Cs are task focused and think that people execute on well planned and developed solutions. Now that you have an understanding of DISC basics. This chart will help you to solidify the differences between the personality types.

Disc Characteristics

Defining Work Style Preferences

D (Dominant)

Dominant types prefer to focus on accomplishment. They feel that there may be several answers to a problem, but only one right one (theirs). For a high D, recognition comes in execution of the plan. They act quickly and welcome risk/reward situations. Ds will often challenge the status quo and don’t go along just because “that’s how we’ve always done it. If there is a problem, a high D wants a solution. You can keep your reasons and logic to yourself. Just give them the solution. Quick, clean and without drama. That is how Ds operate. 

The Dominant person wants to work in an environment where they are given authority and challenged to succeed. With that success will come prestige and the opportunity for promotion. As a result, many top managers have strong D traits. Ds like direct answers and will throw down a challenge to test their counterpart’s resolve and commitment to a solution.

High Ds like to work with people who weigh the pros and cons before making decisions. Once that is done, they prefer their counterparts to, like themselves, decide and take action quickly. Since Ds are risk takers, they like to make a decision and move on to the next activity. As a result, they may have a wide knowledge base and enjoy many types of activities. They are leaders, not followers. So they really have little need for others except to execute plans that have previously been decided on.

Colleagues and direct reports of Ds may see them as being overbearing and with a need to always be right. Ds want conversations to be brief and to the point. This can be difficult for those who are more personable.

I (Influence)

(Is) like people. Unlike Ds, (Is) believe there is a person who is right to solve any problem. They feel that influence is gained by winning over the crowd. A high I’s strength is the ability to communicate persuasively and motivate others. They are eternal optimists and will trust others to a fault. As a result, (Is) may be overly indirect to avoid offending others.

(Is)will quickly volunteer for any project and love team work. Unfortunately, they are not the best time managers. As such, they may overextend and forget that they had made a commitment to help. It’s not malicious. It’s more a matter of being over zealous.

Is like public rewards and will be quick to share others success stories, as a way to promote colleagues they like. They may be involved in several clubs and organizations outside of work. (Is) are always building their networks, and they enjoy meeting new people. They favor giving everyone a say before a decision is made and love brainstorming ideas. As a result, (Is) may be slow at making decisions. 

For Is, freedom means no boundaries or controls. A world without rules because everyone is naturally kind and considerate of others’ best interest. This is par-I-dise. The belief that everyone works with the best intentions of the group leads Is to be over-trusting and more hands off in working with others. Additionally, providing an environment of freedom means that a high I will instinctively trust their gut, not worrying so much about the details or consequences. This can occasionally lead to poor or underdeveloped plans and decisions.

S (Steadiness) 

Steadiness types like to work within the framework of preset systems and expectations. They have a need for structure and predictability. This allows them to exhibit extreme patients when things don’t go as planned. They also are very tolerance of others, so long as they are benefitting the team.

Ss find it hard to make decisions. Like Is they want everyone to have input before decisions are made. Even then, they may delay to consider one more thing, or to wait for the opinion of a coworker who missed the meeting. Ss are keen to develop specialized skills that allow them to be more effective cogs of the team. Ss are the go to team members to confront someone who is excitable or having a tough day, because high Ss are good listeners. 

High Ss do best with lots of praise, it makes them feel valued. Unlike Ds who don’t care what others think of them. Ss feel uncomfortable pressuring others to meet deadlines or raise quality. As a result, they may quietly do more work than they need to, finding it hard to delegate. While Ss are completely supportive of the team, they despise conflict and just want everyone to get along.

If there are changes afoot, Ss need a lot of lead time and support to make a smooth transition. They may wonder why systems are changing when the old one worked just fine. As a result, they need a clear understanding of why.

C (Conscientious)

Cs love high quality and accuracy. As a result, their best friend in the office is data. High Cs have little use for others, except to move processes forward. Unlike Is, Cs are more than happy to work alone and without interruptions, only talking to others when they need some something. 

Like Ss, Cs they like to have a solid framework to operate within. However, if you are having a bad day, it is better to stay as far away from Cs as possible. They have no time for emotions and comfort. They have very dry personalities and strive for perfection. This drive often leads to projects that are not completed because they are never good enough. And plans that are never realized, because more data is needed before they can move forward.

High Cs have a meticulous attention to detail and understand the intricacies of things. They are the perfect people to review your work, provided you are ok with direct feedback. Cs don’t mince words.

A C will feel that the deck is stacked against them, so they need as much evidence as possible to prove others wrong and support their own opinions. Unlike Is, they do not rely on instinct. The answers, they will say, are in the data. As such, when giving feedback to a high C is important to have specific examples and desired actions.

Cs need you to explain exactly what your expectations are. They will not interpret what you mean. They need to know that they have control of the elements necessary to achieve success, because they do not like to rely on others.

A D, I, S, & C go out to lunch...

Knowing Your DISC Profile

It is important that you know your DISC tendencies so that you can understand your natural strengths and weaknesses in your position or the ones you are applying for as your job hunt. You may have one trait that is higher than the others or two, some people even have three high traits. There are some suggestions for where you can get your DISC assessment.

While your DISC profile represents your natural working style, it can be adjusted to the situation, environment and even role you are in on a project. As a company employee, my profile is high I, high S. I am a motivator and know that by following the rules I will be more successful working in a big company than a small one with constantly changing norms. However, as an entrepreneur I am more high I, high D and less S. I have very few C traits. Influencing customers and collaborators is essential to successful projects. That’s my I side. Making quick decisions and finding appropriate solutions that propel my business forward align with the D in me.

As you gain insight to your own DISC profile and the definitions of the others, you will begin to recognize the traits of your coworkers. That will help you to more effectively interact with them. Don’t ask a high C how they feel about a new policy. Ask them what they think of it. Avoid giving a problem without a solution to your high D boss, tell them your recommendation and be prepared to tell them why. Though they may not ask for your reason if they agree with you. When proposing a new idea to a high I get them excited by telling them about the benefits. And if you need to get something off of your chest, find the high S in your network and have a chat with them.

Using DISC During Your Job Search

While positions have the same name from one company to another, the responsibilities in those roles can vary drastically. To really know if a job is a good fit for you, you need to read the job description carefully and do some background research on the company. That being said, DISC can be a good starting point to establish your fit.

Companies often use DISC as part of the hiring process to understand you. Why not use the same criteria to measure the job against your working style preferences and what you need to succeed? Here are some general examples of the DISC quadrant popular jobs usually fall into.

Entrepreneur – D

Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs are risk takers. They don’t mind the fact that all the decisions rest with them. They have a vision and they want to lead the way to that success. As is typical of the high D, Entrepreneurs make decisions fast and don’t need a lot of input from others to do so.

Senior Manager / Executive – D

As you move up the corporate ladder, it goes without saying your level of responsibility and the risk you need to take grow dramatically. Senior managers and people in the C Suites welcome the challenge of operating without a safety net. They know that big risks have big rewards and they have become good at assessing threats. These people, however, do not have much tolerance for those who would rather sit on the sidelines and have reasons for not taking action. They want things done and they want them done now, as any high D would.

Management Consultant = I

Management consultants need to be good listeners. Once they have heard where the bottleneck is or uncovered a problem, they need to recommend resources and solutions to solve those issues. Since management consultants need to meet people and make them feel comfortable almost immediately, they really need those outgoing and positive traits that are characteristics of the high I.

Recruiter – I

A recruiter’s skill comes in building networks of companies that are looking for new talent and career seekers that are seeking to leverage their skills and experiences into new and challenging high paid positions. Making connections between these groups is an area that high Is excel in.

Sales – I

Highly effective salespeople are skilled at solving personal problems with their line of products and services. They want you to keep coming back and to do that they need to create long-lasting relationships. Combine that with the recognition and rewards that come with achieving sales targets and you have the perfect job for a high S. 

Technical Writer – I

Technical writers need to learn about a specialized area quickly and share that information effectively. When they are finished with one project, they are on to a new area of temporary expertise. This type of work naturally suits a high I who doesn’t like complicated tasks. They usually garner their knowledge by interviewing others and capturing the expertise of their less outgoing counterparts into content that is accessible to a wider group of people.

Customer Success Manager – S

High Ss make great customer success managers. They want to help people to use their company’s services to the most of its ability. High Ss will listen to the customer explain the problems they are experiencing and be able to gently suggest solutions that meet those objectives. They may need to teach or train their clients on using some part of the system and have the patients to do well in that responsibility. Customer success managers need to make their clients feel they have a friend on the inside, the perfect role for an S.

Teacher / Trainer – S

Teachers and trainers are not always the best decision makers, they need a structure to their work. This makes them feel safe in their environment, a strong S characteristic. Once the teacher has this sense of stability, they can help others to prosper through attentive listening and applying their skills and experiences to customize the educational material to the students and their needs.

Hotel Staff – S

Customer facing hotel staff need to make guests feel like the most important people in the room. Since Ss do not have the need to stand out, like Is do, this is a role that suits their working preferences well. HIgh Ss and hotel staff are team players who realize that each cog serves its purpose.

Office Staff – S

Office staff excel at carrying out orders and following procedures. They prefer to be given a list of tasks and the time to carry them out. The skilled staff member knows everybody and most, if not all of them, like her, because she is a good listener and supportive. Characteristics that are common in a High I. She knows how to get tasks done and will quietly go about doing that, not wanting to make any waves.

Accountant & Auditors – C

It has been said that an accountant’s best friend is numbers. This could not be more C like. These people would rather work on a computational task than attend a party. Their attention to details can save a company millions of dollars. So they are consumed with making sure that everything is in its correct place on the ledger.

Translator – C

Translators work alone and their daily routine is all about accomplishing tasks. These are classic high C working style preferences. Translators are highly independent. Just tell them what you want and by when. Then leave them alone to do the work. They have little time for interruptions and distractions like their high C colleagues.

IT Programmer – C

IT programmers focus on detailed code writing. They prefer to work in silence and can spend long hours writing and analyzing code at the computer. While they are skilled at this intricate task, they are generally not so good at training others to do the work. They tend to feel you either understand or you don’t. And if you don’t understand, go ask someone else, the high C programmer is too busy to help you.

Research Scientist – C

Research scientists like to work within the confines of the scientific method. That structure allows them to control variables within it. In this way they can get engrossed in the details of their work without need for talking to others or getting input from the outside. This type of work environment is paradise to a high C.

How You Can Have Success With DISC

Ali, not her real name, had just come to Japan and was excited to start her new job as an ALT. It had been her dream to live and work in Japan. She felt that was going to come true. However, after a few weeks at her school, she had become disenchanted.

She stressed about all the rules and that she was assisting, not leading, in the lessons. Being an ALT is a good position if you are a high S. the job requires a high level of cooperation and an ability to work effectively as a supporting member of the team. Ali liked the social part of the job. As a high I, having to always comply with the English Teacher’s demands and teaching the same lessons over and over again drove her crazy. 

Ali came to me feeling like she had failed at her opportunity to make it big in Japan. Through an interview and DISC assessment, we discovered that she is indeed a high I and would do better in a role where she can socialize, build relationships and manage her own workflow, so long as she is getting results. Based on our discussions, she began applying for jobs as a recruiter. Not only did she get a job within a few weeks but through additional coaching, she sharpened her professional skills, too. As a result, she excelled in her new position, and she received the award for New Associate of the Year. She has now been working with her firm for three years and is loving her work.


Bryan, not his real name, was having problems relating to his colleagues, as a high C, many found his communication style abrupt and rude. During one brainstorming meeting, he commented, “This is stupid. Why don’t you just make a decision, so I can get back to work.”

This made his high I and S counterparts quite angry and Bryan soon found himself in the boss’ office. His supervisor warned him to respect the ideas and opinions of others, or he would be looking for a new job. The feedback from his boss was a wake-up call to Bryan. He contacted me about developing more effective communication skills.

The first step was to analyze his disc assessment and confirm that he is, in fact, a high C. Knowing that, we could explore the differences between his working style preferences and those of his colleagues. We uncovered strategies that allowed Bryan to switch his communication style to more effectively interact with his colleagues. Before too long, his co-workers came to understand him better, too. They consulted him for his technical expertise and attention to detail. He opened up to them a bit more about the challenges he faced on projects and got some interesting ideas by listening to a wide variety of ideas and opinions. Needless to say, Bryan kept his job and made some new friends too.


Peter, not his real name, is a high S. He has worked in the sales department for the last five years. As one of the company’s top producers, he had been offered promotions several times. Each time he declined. He was happy just being responsible for his own work and unsure if he really had the patients and task focus needed to be a good manager.

A previous assignment had him mentoring and training new sales associates. He found that he liked that aspect of the work. So he took a chance and accepted a promotion to District Sales Manager. At first, he found the work very challenging. Too many administration tasks and not enough time meeting customers or motivating his staff. Eventually, however, he settled in and found a detail focus assistant that helped free him up to do tasks that fit his working preferences and the key roles of his job. 

He became better at making decisions, sticking to deadlines, and holding people accountable. Now he runs the most successful sales region in the company. He also assists his team on sales calls where his direct reports are having trouble closing or meeting client’s high expectations. Though his DISC type has moved more towards D, Peter couldn’t be happier.

3 Free & 1 Paid DISC assessment

So how do you understand which job will be the right one for you? Start with a DISC assessment. This will help you to more clearly understand your natural working style preferences. While you could pay for an assessment, and those offer tremendous insight, why not start out with a free one? There are several available on the internet. In fact, if you took more than one, you could validate the results and feel confident that you have successfully identified your preferred working situation.

Here are some DISC assessments you can take right now

Online Personality Tests – https://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/DISC/

The Online test takes about five minutes and you can take it without providing your email address. It will give you a brief, 1-2 page, report about your DISC preferences and tendencies.

Truity Personality Tests – https://www.truity.com/test/disc-personality-test

The Online test takes about five minutes and you will get a four page analysis identifying your strongest DISC areas. You can’t download this report, but you can print or save the page as a PDF. To get the full Online Personality Test DISC report costs $19 US or about ¥2,000.

Tony Robbins DISC Assessment – https://www.tonyrobbins.com/DISC/

This assessment gives you good insight to your preferences and motivations. It will take you about 30 minutes to complete this assessment. Once you’ve finished the self-assessment, read the 11 page report and the download page carefully to have a better understanding of your tendencies. Then, you won’t need to buy the report upgrade, which is priced from $20 US to $100 (¥2,200 – ¥ 11,500).

The Paid Assessment

One DISC assessment that is really useful, but not free, is the DISC Classic 2.0. This 10 minute assessment provides a detailed report that explains your natural strengths and weaknesses, how others see you and a description of how you will see those with differing assessment scores. It even provides some information on what types of jobs are a natural fit for you. It cost $72 (¥8,000) and is available from Manager Tools – https://www.manager-tools.com/products/DISC-profile#

Wrapping It All Up

Understanding DISC could give you a competitive advantage as you do your job hunting. It will help you know what your working style preferences are, and you can compare those against job descriptions to find a job that suits you best. Once you enter the workplace, knowledge of DISC tendencies will help you better understand your colleagues and provide some insight as to how to work more effectively together.

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Live your life with purpose

Living a life of purpose makes it worth celebrating. It creates wealth that can never be taken away. Living with purpose gives you a reason to get out of bed every morning and leaves you feeling content as you lay your head down on your pillow each night.

Though, you may find it difficult to focus in on what you are meant to contribute in your lifetime. Finding purpose is something important, and you can discover yours by listening for your calling or creating yourself.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

Listen to Your Environment

What were you born to do? Finding purpose from what comes naturally and in areas which you excel at puts you a step ahead. You may feel the need to deny these skills and abilities because they make you stand out from your peers. Don’t!

You were born to be special. Your natural talents are actually just a starting point. They give you opportunities to move beyond the norm and achieve unbelievable success if you are bold enough to embrace that.

Many times in sports the best players not only have the most ability but also the strongest work ethic. They are the ones who show up early and stay late. These players work with private coaches during the off season to get 1% better, knowing that those gains move them from great to all-stars and Hall of Fame level careers. If you are willing to put in the work, you can become spectacular too.

What comes easy for you?

There are things you do easily, and often dismissed as not a big deal, that are difficult for others to accomplish. Consider how you can use those abilities to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Find steps to expand and develop these talents.

What do you like to do?

Consider some things you like to do and how you can make an impact through those. Maybe you are like me, a generalist as opposed to a specialist. I dabble in many areas from music to neuroscience with just a sliver of knowledge in a variety of areas. This joy for education helps me to understand situations and people in novel ways that few others see. I can then transfer information taken from one source and apply it to another. Helping bridge gaps for others.

Is there a purpose hiding in your past?

While traumatic experiences create memories that you would rather forget, you have survived a harrowing experience. As you ponder, why me? Consider what you can do to find a sense of purpose that takes you out of that unpleasantness and into an opportunity to aid others who may find themselves in similar situations to your own.

Your horrific experience is not the end of your life, just a chapter of it. Now discover what comes next and unlock the amazing powers that have been growing inside of you, waiting for the opportunity to be utilized.

Such was the case with Louis Braille, who lost his sight at the age of three. Frustrated by the lack of written knowledge available to those that could not see, he invented the Braille writing system by the age of 15.

Despite the system not being utilized in his lifetime, he continued to perfect it for uses in music, science and mathematics, textbooks, popular writing and correspondence. His system is still used around the world today as the de facto international written communication standard for the blind.

You may be like Louis Braille, finding the strength and purpose in your life through survival. Look those life altering experiences in the face. Then find the courage to make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

If you are finding it difficult to surmount those experiences, take a deep breath and do what you can to put the past behind you. What’s done is done, it’s history. Focus on today, and how you can build yourself a brighter tomorrow.

Sometimes it's just a matter of serendipity

If you have been fortunate enough to find talent and purpose through a serendipitous experience, such as a friend’s suggestion to try a new activity, or perhaps you stumbled on a fresh idea that has meaning for you in a video, article, or class, take the time to deeply explore these opportunities and the life changing effect success in one of these areas could have for you.

This is how I got started in writing. A friend suggested I try writing for an audience, and it has given me a way to share ideas and experiences with more people than I could have ever imagined. It’s possible that you are being guided towards a life changing contribution too.

Above all, listen. Regardless of how it got there, a desire to contribute is sprouting inside of you, and it is up to you to discover and nurture that.

When all else fails, create your own purpose

If you have difficulty finding purpose in your life through listening to your environment and past experiences, you can manufacture it.

Consider how you want to contribute and go for it. Take action every day or week, no matter how small. As you make progress, you will gain momentum. That force will help you through the slow times when you feel like your contributions are insignificant and a waste of time. They are neither. Sometimes the steps and success are visible and rewarding, and other times life is just a grind.

As you work to make contributions, take some time to get the bird’s-eye view. Stop and reflect on your journey. That will help you understand the next few steps forward. Don’t be afraid to readjust your methods and goals. With the clearer vision you have after you have gotten down the road a bit, you can chart more effective future steps.

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

Summary

Reacquaint yourself with those experiences where you felt you had made a difference, even in the smallest of ways. Then focus on how you can continue to have an impact by taking action one step at a time. In these ways, your life will have a definite purpose.

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How you can be more empathetic

pensive grandmother with granddaughter having interesting conversation while cooking together in light modern kitchen

The quickest way to gain credibility is to show that you care.

Treating others with empathy is something we are taught from childhood. Our elders would often say, “put yourself in their shoes.” We have come to believe that listening to and intellectualizing how others are feeling is enough. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Practicing real empathy is harder than that. It requires us to consider not only what but also why, others do what they do. When we can do that, we gain a deeper understanding of the other person, their needs and contributions.

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.

Understand feelings

The first step of acting with empathy is understanding emotions. Our emotions are strong influencers in our decisions, both to attract and distance intended feelings. To get at the heart of another’s emotions is to have a better understanding of your own as well. 

When communicating with another person, consider initially how you would feel in their situation. Then ask questions to understand how they perceive the situation and why. Their view of the situation and needs will be different from your own, so listen deeply. This will help you understand what the person needs and how you can support them. When you understand the underlying cause of their emotions, you will improve your ability to consider the issues from their point of view.

Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.

Consider Preferences, Culture, And Motivations

Beyond the feelings and emotions of others lie their cultural influences, personality and mitigating circumstances. Considering these areas takes a lot of patience. We often want to use our own lense to see the world. But thinking about the other person’s cultural background (family, local, regional, and/or national), their experiences and their level of tolerance for novel and uncomfortable situations will help you to catch the nuances of what the true intention is beyond the words.

We All Act With Good Intentions

The vast majority of us want to see world peace, get along with our neighbors, and make gratifying contributions to our communities. When someone behaves in a way we judge as counter to this, consider how their action works towards those ends (even as part of something bigger). Interpreting the solution from their point of view will help you work together to find more viable alternatives in unraveling bigger challenges. 

Bob is planning on making a new recipe tonight, Chicken breast with roasted tomato. He needs those tomatoes to be soft and ripe. Unfortunately, all of them were a bit hard. So, he left them on the counter this morning with the intention of softening them up a bit during the day. Mary saw the tomatoes on the counter and assumed Bob had forgotten to put them back in the fridge before going to work.

That evening when Bob returned home, knowing that he had left the tomatoes on the kitchen counter, he was sure he had lost his mind, confused by the fact that he could not find them anywhere. When he opened the fridge there they were, just as fresh and hard as they had been this morning. He was more than angry. His plans had been completely disrupted. 

When he asked Mary about the tomatoes, she said that she had noticed them on the counter and thought he had forgotten to put them away. Anticipating a tomato and cucumber salad as part of a nice summer dinner, and that these ones were in perfect condition for that. She put them in a paper bag and set them back in the refrigerator.

Both people had good reason for their action and worked with the best of intentions for making use of those tomatoes. Yet without communication, each person’s action disrupted the plans of the other. Through an empathetic discussion, they will be able to decide whether to have the salad today or the chicken tomorrow. 

We always consider the intentions of our own actions. However, when it comes to others, we focus only on the behavior. We usually don’t take the time to consider their point of view, only considering the results as acceptable or unacceptable. Oftentimes, we incorrectly believe the other person’s action was a deliberate attempt to stir up problems, create conflict, or foster ill will. That is just not true. Instead, we need to take the time to focus on the ideal that they had good intentions when deciding on and taking their course of action. After such consideration, we can work together to discover future steps that lead to mutually beneficial results.

The opposite of anger is not calmness, its empathy.

Servant Leadership

In our relationships, if we focus on how we can serve others and through our service inspire them to pay it forward, we can create positive momentum alongside a sense of understanding of those around us. Doing this builds quality relationships that continue to build deep connections and understanding.

3 Steps to Being More Empathetic

Be in the moment

Focus your attention on the other person.  Watch them as they speak. Listen for the words they choose, the tone in their voice and facial expressions. Really give them your undivided attention. Tune out everything else and focus on the conversation.

Pay attention to body language

Listen not just for what they say, but also how they say it. Look at their facial expressions. Notice the way they fidget and their body positioning. These things are indicators of what is going on inside. 

Test Your Understanding

Use paraphrasing techniques and draw conclusions based on the previous points. Then ask them if you are hearing them correctly. You can use this as a springboard for developing solutions together.

A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain.

Summary

 Practicing empathy requires us to slow down, look others in the eye and consider situations from their point of view. We have to do more than put ourselves in their shoes, we need to live in their skin for a moment. While being truly empathetic can seem hard.. Practicing it at any level of ability will be appreciated by those you interact with.

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