To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you

When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall.

However, if you are working as a solopreneur or a freelancer, your clients are not going to bend their deadlines just because you are not performing at your best. They expect results regardless of the situation.

I faced a similar dilemma recently when I launched the Discovering Your Ikigai course and had 30 new clients waiting for their first seminar. I could feel my throat tightening and my temperature rising. But calling in sick was not an option. And in most cases, it shouldn’t be for you either. Here are three reasons why.

You can still get some of the work done even at less than your best

Choosing tasks that require less mental power, and adjusting your priorities will allow you to get something done rather than having work pile up while you are away. That will make your work more manageable in the long run. While you may feel a sense of worthlessness in being a body at the desk, you are still getting something done and that makes all the difference.

Work from Home

Since the onset of COIVD, there have been more opportunities to work from home. For better or worse, this means that when you are in a contiguous state, you could theoretically work from home too. In addition, if you have sick kids, you could spend some time on the job even if that is from home. Getting some work done is better than zero production.

Most bosses expect you to work, even when you are sick

58% of managers thought that employees should come to work with flu-like symptoms. Additionally, more than 60% reportedly expected employees to work while experiencing severe physical ailments like back pain or recovering from surgery, according to this article by the BBC. It may seem unbelievable that managers are so unsympathetic to their staff, but this is a byproduct of our results-driven society, where meeting deadlines is one of the most key important performance indicators, KPI.

There are, of course, times you should call in sick. If you work as a manual laborer and feel dizzy or have a high fever that leaves you disoriented, are infectious, or have a high fever, you should visit a doctor and stay home. Usually, if you can be productive at all,  do your best to make a contribution.

In game five of the 1997 NBA finals, Michael Jordan played despite having food poisoning. He had been throwing up all night, and he was feeling very weak at game time. Yet, he still found it in himself to suit up and play. When asked about being on the court for 44 of the games 48 minutes and scoring 38 points, including the game-winning three, he said:

 

I didn’t wanna give up, No matter how sick I was or how tired I was, or how low on energy I was. I felt the obligation to my team, to the city of Chicago, to go out and give that extra effort.

Few of us will ever experience life on the level of a professional sports championship. Yet, we will all have times we are depended upon. Times when we can not bring our best. It is in those moments that we need to dig deep, relying on the knowledge, skills, and intestinal fortitude that is inside to make a difference in our work. It may not seem like a big deal to miss time, and maybe you think it’s your right. After all, we do get sick days, but the people you serve depend on you. What is your sense of obligation to them? For me, 30 new clients were glad I did not call in sick.

 

If you do need to work when you are sick the last thing we usually want to do is eat. However, finding foods with rejuvenation powers could have you back to some version of normal quickly. Here are seven superfoods that can speed your recovery. And a bonus at the end.

 

Garlic

Garlic helps to boost immunity. Many people swear by garlic’s ability to help maintain good health or quickly get you back to normal. I was sick recently, and a couple days of cooking with extra garlic helped me.

 

Onions

Cooked onions are high in antioxidants, vitamins B & C. Onion soup is one of my favorite ways to eat them when I am not feeling well. Onions are also good for your blod circulation. When you are sick, eating cooked onions makes them easier to digest.

 

Fish

Fish skin is full of nutrients, like Omega 3 and B vitamins. Simply fry it in the pan or bake it in the oven. I choose cuts with more skin or salmon which is a fish that is easy to prepare.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is high in antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins C and K. It is also contains a wealth of nutrients, but is low in calories. Broccoli improves digestion and helps to reduce inflammation that commonly occurs when we are sick. 

 

Nuts

Nuts are high in fiber and protein. They contain high quantities of minerals. Don’t feel like eating a full meal because you’re under the weather? Nuts and a meal replacement drink are a good alternative.

 

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics that help relieve an upset stomach. It also has vitamins and minerals that rapidly become depleted when your body is fighting illness. Yogurt is good to mix in smoothies for a power-packed liquid meal that is easier to digest than whole food when you’re not feeling well.

 

Soup

Warm and soothing. Soup is easy to digest and warms your body from the inside out. Choosing a clear soup like broth or onion is easy on the digestive system. Vegetable soups can provide you with most of the nutrients your body needs to recover from illness and it is a meal that you can keep on the stove and heat up all day long.

 

When you are not feeling well, it is easy to go to the drug store or medicine cabinet and look for a remedy. But eating your way back to health is gentler on the body and may see your condition change for the better more rapidly and consistently.

One new recipe I learned when I was sick last time was roasted garlic. Not only did it make my house smell great, cleansing the warm uncirculated air that is common when you are  trying to stay warm, it was also super easy to prepare. You could eat a head of garlic every day with no adverse effects. Here is how you make it:

Roasted Garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 or more heads of garlic
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C (350 F)
  2. Cut the top off of the head(s) of garlic
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic, making sure to get some on each clove
  4. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil
  5. Cook for 30-45 minutes until garlic is soft

Eat cloves whole, smash and spread on toast or crackers or use in your favorite recipe.

 

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To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being

Read More »

Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can manage overwhelm with these 4 tips.

 

Prioritize

Order your list from critical to not essential. What are the few things that absolutely must be done? Are there tasks or assignments that would be nice to accomplish, but are not essential? And I’m sure there are also some that just seem like busywork. This list is going to keep you focused as you realize that only a few of the items on the list will actually get done.

Is there anything on your list that you can delegate? If necessary, you may need to call in some favors. You should focus on the things you are uniquely suited to handle or need to do for your peace of mind. That list is shorter than the list of everything you hope to do. In my Discovering Your Ikigai course, many participants say they do not have time to develop their skills. This is something that no one can do for them. So I stress the fact that they need to schedule time to enhance their abilities on a regular basis, and not give it up. That is much more important than vacuuming the house. Someone else could do that instead of sitting in front of the TV, computer, or checking social media on their mobile phone. Another example is preparing the children’s lunch on the weekend. Train them to do that simple task for themselves.. 

 

Keep your top priority front of mind

Keeping your essential priority at the front of your mind will allow your brain to work on that in between tasks and when you’re doing things that don’t need all of your process power. A sudden gap in your schedule will provide you the opportunity to spring into action and give your top priority the undivided attention it requires.

 

Look for opportunities

You may have a postponed meeting, extended deadline or canceled appointment. These changes in schedule provide opportunities to get busy on priority number one. Since you’ve already thought through what you need to do, you can get a quick start and be productive from the beginning of your newly available time. Use this time, but not a minute more. That way, you are not cutting into the time you need for another important task. Before you move on, reassess what the next steps are and be ready for the next opportunity to work on those.

 

Knowing when enough is enough

When you have finished a task, it is usually good enough. In most cases, spending extra time on it won’t dramatically improve the quality. For example, when I’m creating a presentation, it is good enough to make the slides and have the information in the deck. I will work on accurate wording, animations, and design elements during my rehearsals.

 

Tying it all together

When you prioritize and only work on your most critical tasks, you can consciously take control of overwhelm. That will dramatically reduce your to-do list and help you fit the key tasks and projects into your schedule. Finally, be satisfied with the results you have created. In most cases, no one else will realize the difference between your good enough and excellent work. So be satisfied with your effort too. In this way, you will find opportunities to manage overwhelm and make what seems impossible possible.

 

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How to Improve Your Life Through Ikigai

ikigai chart

A guide to unlocking the best within yourself

To perform at our best making the most of our abilities, talents, and time it’s vital to focus on the areas in which we are most qualified to contribute. This is the core of ikigai.

What is the concept of Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese expression 生き甲斐. 生き (iki) means life and 甲斐 (gai) means reason. Roughly translated then, ikigai is the reason for living or your life purpose. Living with ikigai equates to doing what best suits your skills, interest, and abilities for the betterment of society and also yourself.

What are the benefits of ikigai?

Living with ikigai is being at ease with your surroundings. Being grateful for life and the potential to make a difference. Connecting to your universe also requires embracing your ikigai: the people in your life, the work you do, and your interactions with the environment. 

Living ikigai for me is being grateful every morning. Once I’m up, I’m going to reflect and broaden my thoughts. Making contributions throughout the day that positively impact the world around me, and celebrating that day as I lay down to sleep. This kind of existence is a gift, and it instills a sense of contentment that lasts no matter how terrible circumstances get.

What are the 4 components of ikigai?

Your ikigai, or reason for living, can be found at the intersection of your personal evaluation of four key questions: What are you good at? What do you love? What can you be paid for? And what does the world need? 

What are you good at?

Consider all the things you are good at now or have ever done well. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not. Hobbies, professional skills, technical abilities, chores, for example; make a list of everything that comes to mind.

What do you love?

What are the activities or things that you love? This question asks for your interests, so you do not necessarily have to be good at these things. For example, I love playing basketball, but I am not very good at it. In this area, also reflect on things. Do you have a spiritual connection, a love of music, or something else that makes you happy? 

As with every one of these questions- document everything.

What can you be paid for?

Here, consider everything you could do to make a living. I know people with PhDs that are janitors. Anything and everything you could personally do to earn money goes here. 

One caveat: these income sources need to align with your values and sensibilities. If you don’t like small children, you probably wouldn’t be able to make a living working at a nursery school.

What does the world need?

Apart from the other questions, this one focuses on your perception of areas that need attention in your community and the broader world at large. Consider the benefits of service in this section and the gaps you perceive in the types and quality of products and services.

OK, you’ve done the evaluation. What comes next?

Now that you have your lists, examine how the four areas intersect with one another. What are the parallels between what you love and what you enjoy doing? Those are your passions. Make an passion list that includes those. Your potential professions are the things you are good at and can get paid for. Choosing work in one of these areas will provide stimulation as you continue to enhance your professional skills. Your mission equates the combination of what you love and your perception of what the world needs. Finally, your vocation, the kind of contribution you believe you are destined to make, is at the intersection of what the world needs and what you can be paid for. The kind of contribution you believe you are destined to make. 

You will now begin to see areas where your passion, mission, vocation and professions come together. This is your ikigai.

What is an example of ikigai?

My life mission is to leave people in a better state than when I first met them (I love educating, and the world needs that). As a teacher, trainer, and coach, this is my compass. It’s a job that I enjoy. I’ve developed into an accomplished trainer over the years, and I’ve been able to make a living doing it. I transitioned from teaching English as a foreign language to coaching and am now building an education-based organisation with courses that help people achieve their goals. However, I couldn’t live within my ikigai unless I took the time to reflect on each day and celebrate the ability to live another, while also improving the lives of others. The opportunity to impact lives is my reason to wake up every morning and get out of bed. Even when it’s cold or I don’t feel so great, I wake up excited to serve the world.

A butcher who can talk about the difference in cuts of meat all day long and slices of the most beautiful steaks every time you visit him is also living his ikigai. Similarly, the salesperson who finds joy in providing solutions to their customers’ problems and aiding their success has found where the elements of ikigai merge for her.

What do you get lost in and get a sense of contribution from? These are elements of what comprises your ikigai.

How can you apply ikigai to your daily life?

These six tips will help you live your ikigai not just in the work you do, but also in your everyday life.

Smile

Your life will definitely be better if you choose to smile.

Live in the moment

The past is behind you. The future is unwritten. All we have is this moment, so do your best with it.

Take it slow

When you rush, you create two problems: 

First, you can not fully embrace the moment. If you eat your meal too quickly, you may not even remember the taste, for example. If you spend an evening out with friends and are constantly checking your phone, you are not giving your friends the pleasure of your company.

Secondly, rushing through an activity inevitably means you are not giving your best effort. You will miss details, and the sense of pride you feel from a job accomplished expertly will never materialize.

Surround yourself with good people

You will be more optimistic and create a sense of accomplishment when you choose to be around people who lift you up rather than finding faults. These people generally value life a great deal and want to be part of the solution rather than the cause of the problems. 

Have gratitude

Being thankful for what you have in life, no matter how insignificant, will make your life fuller and more noteworthy. You do not need to have the biggest house or the nicest car to feel gratitude. It’s better to celebrate your health, the people in your life, and your opportunity to serve.

Connect with nature

We are all animals and part of the larger environment that surrounds us. Working in an office building all day and then commuting home creates a disconnect from the natural world. However, we can regain that sense of connection by taking a walk in the park or a hike in the woods. Even listening to the sounds of the sea or a mountain stream on YouTube will take you closer to nature and help to recalibrate your connection to the world around you.

Embrace imperfection

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese expression that means embracing imperfection.  What this suggests is that in everyday life we should be content with our efforts.  Things will never be perfectly the way you want them to be. Celebrate that  you’ve done your best with what was available.  

You may be making a meal for your family, and the vegetables come out overcooked while the meat got cold because it was finished too early. While your family will be perfectly happy with the meal, you find many reasons to complain about it. Instead, you can choose to feel joy by looking at their smiles, appreciating the conversation, and knowing that you are providing energy for their minds and bodies.

Summing up

Applying ikigai to your life will give you a heightened sense of purpose. You will meet each morning with joy and go through your day with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you have made a difference in the world and to yourself.

Want to discover your ikigai, and live in balance with your environment? Join my discovering Your Ikigai workshop here.

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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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To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall. However, if

Read More »

Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can

Read More »
ikigai chart

How to Improve Your Life Through Ikigai

A guide to unlocking the best within yourself To perform at our best making the most of our abilities, talents, and time it’s vital to focus on the areas in which we are most qualified to contribute. This is the core of ikigai. What is the concept of Ikigai? Ikigai is a Japanese expression 生き甲斐.

Read More »

Four Ways to Grow Your Digital Business

Growing a small business from a creative streak and a laptop into a trusted company isn’t what it used to be. With competition fiercer than ever and the cost of everything from supplies to marketing on the rise, bootstrapping isn’t really an option. What can you do then if you have a vision but very

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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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Meet The Me You Don’t Know

Social situations can be difficult unless we bring the right mindset and social skills. Here are three ways to do that. As the holiday season approaches, we will attend more social events than we have in a long time. Whether with friends, family or business associates, we will be in the company of people we

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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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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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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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Four Ways to Grow Your Digital Business

Growing a small business from a creative streak and a laptop into a trusted company isn’t what it used to be. With competition fiercer than ever and the cost of everything from supplies to marketing on the rise, bootstrapping isn’t really an option. What can you do then if you have a vision but very

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You Need Someone to Talk to

happy friends on camper van roof

There are so many important  things going on in our lives that we really need someone to talk to and share ideas in order to understand their purpose.  Whether those things are good or bad, it helps to talk about them with someone who will give you their undivided attention, even if it’s only for a few minutes. These dreams and difficulties we hold inside for fear that no one else could possibly understand us need to be shown the light of day. When you talk about your joys and concerns you make them tangible, and getting them out in the open you will give you a fresh perspective on them, allowing you to inspect and evaluate these issues in clear and vivid detail.

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am I will be there. You’ve got a friend.

But I can’t share my deepest thoughts with just anybody

It may seem frightening to let those deep secrets out of the closet. But there is no better way to face the issues that plague you and find viable solutions than to talk about them. Explain what you want your friend to do. For example, if you want them to listen, you might say, “I’m so frustrated that I need to tell you what happened this morning.” Or if you need  some advice, you might start the conversation with, “I am having a problem communicating with my daughter and need your advice.”  Start the conversation with your expectations for the conversation. 

Find someone you can share your deepest thoughts with. This  may require you to hear what is burning inside them too. Welcome the opportunity to build a bond and improve your communication skills. In discussing their issues, you may gain deeper insight into your own as well. Understand that if they are a good listening partner but don’t want to share their secrets, you should also find someone else to help and pay their support forward. This allows their kindness to create a ripple.

Trouble shared is trouble halved.

Be ready for direct feedback

The best feedback is actionable. It tells you something you can do right now to move forward. Often actionable feedback is direct and harsh. You may wince because it is something you don’t want to hear or have been avoiding, but take your medicine all at one time. You asked for the advice and you trust the person you are talking with. Keep in mind that it is through compassion and good intentions that they are providing you advice.. Don’t take them, or their time, for granted. 

You should also ask questions to understand the motivation and perspective they used to devise the solution. You may not agree, but at least listen graciously and consider what they said. Before dismissing the ideas, consider  how you would apply  the advice. If you are not sold on their suggestions, create an alternative option that moves you forward. It is vital that you consider some solution to work with from these types of conversations, otherwise it’s just a pity party. Those don’t serve anyone’s interest.

5 Places you can turn to with your problems and concerns

Friends

Friends can be a great resource for talking through personal growth and persisting dilemmas. Real friends care about you and your progress. You have a shared history that may provide a basis for deep understanding of your situation. Friends may be inclined to present ideas in a manner similar to the way you do because of the commonalities. For these reasons, they are a good resource for talking through your issues. 

However, friends may not always listen deeply or they may be dealing with their own overwhelming problems. They may still perceive of you as the kid from their childhood, or their drinking buddy whom they shared their woes with on Friday nights a few years ago. They may not see the version of you that exists today. That can be frustrating when trying to clear your current hurdle or get a fresh perspective on next steps to achieving success.

Trouble is part of your life - if you don't share it, you don't give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.

Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors are all trained in the understanding of the human mind and how we handle crises, These people can help you cope with issues now based on conquering roadblocks in your past. They may show you new techniques for overcoming recurring problems and guide you to overcoming challenges one step at a time.

Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors are all trained in the understanding of the human mind and how we handle crises, These people can help you cope with issues now based on conquering roadblocks in your past. They may show you new techniques for overcoming recurring problems and guide you to overcoming challenges one step at a time.

Coaches and Mentors

Professional-minded coaches and mentors differ from counselors and mental health experts. Coaches and mentors are concerned with your future progress, not your past. As a professional coach and mentor, for example, my concern is where you are going, not where you have been. To me, you’re the total sum of all your previous experiences, and you will carry that baggage with you wherever you go. This outlook is very different from what you will get when speaking with mental health professionals who often apply familiar labels for your situation in order to identify your predicament or friends who may see things through their personal point of view.

Coaches and mentors are more mindful of your development. They will work with you on where you are going and don’t pay attention as much to where you’ve been as mental health professionals do. Since their relationship with you is professional rather than personal, they are motivated to see you succeed. Unlike talking to friends, coaches sole objective is your progress with no hidden agendas. 

Mentors have often been through similar situations as your own. They acquired  wisdom through hindsight. This knowledge can help you avoid pitfalls and speed up your development, because you can learn from their mistakes. Working with a mentor can help you lay the foundation for success or be an ongoing relationship that sees you through valleys and over the peaks too.

A coach, on the other hand, will help you improve a specific ability. You may seek a coach for public speaking and presentations, to manage conflict, or improve your relationships. Their advice will be more specific and directed at solving the crisis of the moment. That is not to say they will not help you through other situations down the road. Some coaches will, while others are more specialized in particular issues.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

Groups

Counseling and self-help groups are focused on bringing people together who are experiencing similar issues. They are also good places to discuss your concerns with like-minded people. Because they have walked a similar path, they will be more empathetic to you and the resources at your disposal to manage this phase of life.

These groups are often anonymous, so you can share your deepest thoughts without concern for who may find out about what you said later. Some groups like AA are beneficial for keeping on a path and handling struggles that last a lifetime. While others, like masterminds, will help you to climb to the next peak. If working with a group sounds appealing to you, try it out and see if it is a good fit. If it’s not, try another one. Good groups are about chemistry and they will all be a little different, even if the programs are the same.

Virtual  Mentors

Virtual mentors are people who you learn from via books, websites, podcasts, etc. Some people like reading biographies and find insight from the lives of others. Listening to talks and reading books from motivational speakers like Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar or Dr. Wayne Dyer may also help you tap their experiences to find answers on your journey. 

Virtual mentors have made available hundreds if not thousands of hours of content you can use to develop yourself and find solutions to the dilemmas you face. While not communicating directly with these thought leaders, you are gaining a wider base of understating to apply in moving towards where you want to go. Digital mentors help you know that you are not alone and that others have walked a similar path to your own. 

If you choose to utilize this do it yourself approach, you may want to write about your dilemmas and what you’re learning through their insights to give voice and consideration to how they would respond in your situation. Many good solutions start with the words, “What would Ben Franklin do?”

Summary

You need not carry life’s burden alone. There are people you can talk to that will provide you a fresh perspective on those predicaments you are facing. Consider what kind of help you need, an ear, advice or a model. Then seek out a friend, mental health professional, group or even a virtual  mentor. The clarity you find will have you wondering why you didn’t do this before.

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