Could questions be more powerful than answers? Is it possible that there are questions powerful enough to change the course of our lives forever? Are there questions that can shape or reshape our destiny?
I have found that the asking of potent questions is like the 'Thomas Edison Attitude'. Ask not once, but ask until the answer reveals itself - even if it takes a thousand times. By using the Thomas Edison Attitude certain questions have transformed me over the years.
At some point, I discovered that there is a gap between a question and its answer or answers and I had to be willing to enter that gap. I had to allow the tension (that arises between the question and its answer) to pull me forward towards a newly emerging me.
Below are some of the questions that I still live with and I invite you to join me in the process.
- How can I live my life in a way that it means more than a flash of momentary physical existence ?
- How can I more fully express my potential in a way that contributes to the lives of all those around me?
- What are my core values?
- Is my behavior in alignment with my values?
- Where are there gaps?
- What do I need to do to close the gaps?
I invite you to get a little notebook and enter the answers to these questions. Become a journalist, an archeologist on a dig, or a scientist exploring the wonder of your own life. Then track the answers to these questions in your log book with date and time of your entry.
Reflect and revisit these questions daily or whenever you can, and add to your log. (My little log book is on the right. The saying in the center reads, "Think of the world you carry within you." By Rainer Maria Rilke)
Make it easy! Make it fun! Make it fast! Five minutes a day will deliver a positive transformation in your life!
I teach programs in Leadership and I coach business and school leaders. But I've noticed that 'oyster glue' often gets in the way of people's goals, plans and intentions! To me, oyster glue represents the old habits, beliefs, anxieties and fears that stick in the subconscious mind. So what's the big deal?
The secret to all of this is that our subconscious mind runs our behavior. The conscious mind would like to think it runs the show but it doesn't. In every case, the subconscious mind will direct our behavior.
In fact, Dr. George Pratt in his book, Code to Joy, compares the conscious mind to a flea riding on the back of an elephant (the subconscious mind). If the flea (conscious mind) wants to go to the ocean, he says, and the elephant (subconscious mind) wants to go to the mountains, it's obvious where they'll end up. And the flea will have no choice about it!
Further, neuroscience tell us that the subconscious mind is a million times faster and a million times more powerful than the conscious mind. It takes over and reacts instantly to events and situations moving us into action or causing us to say something we may regret.
Our conscious mind may have a lot of desires for change:
- I want to lose weight
- I want to make more money
- I want to stop procrastinating
- I want to improve my leadership skills
- I want to improve my communication skills
But in the moment, as life happens, the subconscious programming from the past, will run our behavior. These are the old habits, beliefs, anxieties or lack of self-confidence stored deep in the recesses of the mind. Once one of these is triggered, the amygdala lights up and causes a cascading of cortisol or stress hormone into the system.
However, the pearl in the oyster is that the scientific laboratories around the world are giving us an in depth understanding of how the brain and body work together. This is like having a manual for your car. Through fMRI scanning we can see inside of the human brain as a person is thinking.
Plus, or maybe as a result, new books as well as tools and techniques are showing up every day. So how do we free ourselves from the 'oyster glue' in the subconscious mind so that we can be everything we want to be and do everything we'd like to do?
It does take self-work. So I thought I'd share some of my eclectic readings as well as the tools I use for my own development (after all you can't teach what you don't know or don't do). I invite you to look into any of them for yourself based on your interest areas and needs.
Oops! As I started to do this, I ended up with 40 books on the list. So I took out all of the business books and kept it to brain change books for success!
Here's the really short list of the books that have touched me:
- Jack Canfield - "The Success Principles"
- Eckart Tolle - "The Power of Now"
- Norman Doidge - "The Brain That Changes Itself"
- Andrew Newberg & Mark Robert Waldman - "How God Changes Your Brain"
- George Pratt, John David Mann, Peter Lambrou - "Code to Joy"
- Nick Ortner - "The Tapping Solution"
- Marvin Oka & Grant Soosalu - "mBraining - Using Your Multiple Brains To Do Cool Stuff"
Here's the really short list of tools and Techniques I use for clearing subconscious barriers (for myself and others) that arise in the day to day living of life:
- Breathing (and other) techniques from Yoga
- Byron Katie's "The Work"
- Dr. Roger Callahan - Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT
- Nick Ortner - Tapping
- The 5 Step Clearing Method
- Meditation and centering
- Self coaching questions
Although I cut both lists markedly, this should give you a good start. I would add my book Learning to Learn: How to Maximize Your Performance Potential to your list. If your lifestyle, your relationships, or leadership style is being cramped by 'oyster glue', you may want to check out some of the books & tools I've listed.
And I'd love to hear about you - your challenges, the things you're doing on your journey... as well as your use of any of the things I've shared.
The more I think about oyster glue, the more captivated I become. I first heard of it in a radio interview with a scientist at Purdue University.
He said he became awe-smacked one day when he was diving at high tide. As his body bobbed in the tumultuous waves, he looked over at a large undersea boulder and there, covering the face of it were hundreds of oysters. They were solidly glued to the rock and none of them moved even in the highest wave.
He was instantly convinced that oyster glue was the most powerful glue in the world and went back to the lab determined to study and try to reproduce it. He ended up getting the blessing of the head of the science department and he's been working to discover the secret of oyster glue ever since.
When I first heard this story I was in my car sitting as the light turned green, spellbound until a car's horn brought me back to reality.
My head was spinning in a metaphor. I saw that oyster glue was like old habits that keep us stuck to the old rocks or old behaviors that no longer fit our goals and dreams. Then I thought of the biggest habit I ever had to change. I was a procrastinator.
Few people believe me when I tell them that. After all I've written four books, and co-authored many more with some of the most successful people in the training industry. I've been in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and written 13 curriculum books and an anti-bullying program.
Yet I was one of the biggest procrastinators ever. I could find any excuse for avoiding the hard stuff - like sitting down to write. I still have momentary flashbacks. I still love to play and that love can usurp my intention at any moment. At those times I have to remind myself of the training. It's back to basics to overcome procrastination:
- Write a list of everything you need to get done in the coming week or two. (This will get the sidetracks off your mind.)
- Set one clear and definite goal, the one that makes your heart sing - Write it down. (I have to write until it is very clear and it is exactly what I want.)
- Visualize the end result. See what you want as if you as if it is done, complete and accomplished in vivid color. Imagine that you can turn the dials on your TV. View it in High Definition on a 72" screen. Then step into it so you are in the vision. You and the vision are one.
- Hear it. Turn the audio up and hear people that you admire congratulating you on a job well done.
- Feel it. Feel the vibrancy of success. Feel it in your heart and in your entire body. Turn it up (HD) until your whole being feels excited, inspired and joyful at a job well done. (This floods the system with dopamine - the potent pleasure chemical that triggers the motivation and drive to change the habit.)
- Taste it. Make the vision so compelling that you can almost taste it. Smile and imagine yourself swallowing the smile till your entire body and mind light up with pleasure.
- Smell it. Imagine that you can smell your success. Inhale and breathe it into every pore in your body. Repeat this many times as you're visualizing.
Don't ever practice this when you're driving or doing something that requires focused attention. But there are so many moments in-between when we have a chance to the flash the vision back up on our inner screen. I find that the more that I do this, the more motivated I become. (That's the dopamine factor - I flood my brain and body with the pleasure chemical and it moves me to action.)
So what oyster stories do you have? What habits have you changed in your process? Or what are you working on now?
Please keep sharing. The stories I've heard from some of you so far have inspired me. Have you turned a great weakness around or overcome procrastination, and how did you do it? To leave a comment, simply visit the blog post page and scroll down to leave a message. Your email address will not be displayed.
You are not what you appear to be. You aren't even who your friends and family think you are. If you were, you'd be stuck in the past: yesterdays images replaying today like a movie you've experienced before.
Instead, consider this: you are a hero in the making. Let me define what I mean by this. To me a hero is anyone who lives the ordinary life in an extra-ordinary way. We've all heard that before. But I don't mean that as some superficial flippant phrase.
I mean it from the depths of my heart. It is the intention to live on the edge of yourself out where the unexplored you exists. It is the willingness to give life to something not yet born in yourself. It is the willingness to discover a new part of yourself every single day.
It is a whole hearted willingness to explore and stretch the preconceived mental and emotional boundaries that I have held for myself. Its the willingness to reignite the inner fire every day in order to become a better human being than I was yesterday.
Let me share about my dear friend Lovell Harris. Lovell was one of the young men that I mentored many years ago in my career. Lovell was born in Saint Louis Missouri and he was raised in the projects. At that time the projects in St. Louis Missouri were one square mile with 30,000 people living in tenement buildings.
Lovell lived in one of these tenement apartments. He was one of six boys. They lived with their mother, who was the only working adult in the family, her mother and his alcoholic father. I don't intend to share the whole story with you as it is in my book GPS for Success.
But the bottom line is this. Lovell said, "I had to decide that I wasn't just a black boy from the projects with an alcoholic father who beat me and called me stupid whenever he was drunk."
Lovell was clear that his birth was not his birthright. It was not what he was born to be. He refused to be conditioned, for the rest of his life, by his early years. He went on to a remarkable career as a speaker and trainer and now runs 3 companies of his own.
So where are the boundaries? Where are the limits? Who sets them? And who said so? You know who said so: the neural pathways in your brain that were laid years ago based on the opinions you accepted about yourself. These have now become habit. Don't let your habits hold you prisoner! Don't let your past determine your future!
Remember to remember who you are. You are not your habits. You do not have to act them out anymore. Do something different.
- You think you're shy? Reach out and say hello to someone. Don't think about it. Do it now.
- You think of yourself as sophisticated? Do something silly. Laugh at yourself.
- You're afraid to speak up? Speak up anyway.
- You want to interview for a new job and you think you'll fail? Do the interview for the job anyway. Don't think failure is about you. Failure is how we learn. You'll do a better interview when the next opportunity comes up.
This is Core Training for the Brain at it's optimum. It's not just about becoming more positive. It's about deciding who you want to be and then doing what you need to do to become that way.
Every new day provides a new opportunity. Stretch and transform yourself a little bit every day until one day you no longer recognize the you that you used to be. You have become the you that you wanted to be and maybe even more!
Have fun. Be joyful. Be happy. Give thanks, for life is good and so are you!
People ask me, "How do you make sure you have a great day - every day?"
I had to stop and think for a moment. "How do I make my day great every day?"
And then I realized that I have a daily ritual. And it starts the moment I get out of bed. I begin my day by making my bed. In fact, I make my bed every single day.
The first time I was asked this question, I hedged on the answer. I felt as if I was an obsessive compulsive bed maker. But then I realized that my bed is the first thing I see in the morning and the first thing I see when I come home at night.
As I started to analyze my feelings, I realized that I couldn't stand coming home to an unmade bed. No matter how good a day I've had, an unmade bed brings me down. I need to leave it fresh in the morning and find it fresh at night.
So if you don't do it already, start making a new habit tomorrow. It might seem like such a silly thing. But it works for me!
Test it. Try it. See what happens when you apply it. Think of it this way. It's not an exercise in discipline, it's an exercise in happiness. Make your day by making your bed!
Having a great day every day is as easy as 1, 2, 3 -
- Make you bed!
- Visualize a great and magical day with all things in flow!
- Give thanks for 7 wonderful things in your life!
Since the 'Thoughts Turn Into Things' blog, I've received so many comments on Facebook and personal emails that I thought I would follow up. Here are some further reflections on the power of a human being to create his or her own reality.
The key to your success lies within you. All you have to do is manage your mind (or your loose canon thoughts). Then train your brain. Finally, harvest the fruits of your creation. You are harvesting the fruits of your creation anyway. Your mind is the attractor factor. Your past repetitive thoughts have become the reality you're living right now.
If you want to change your reality:
- Wake up and stay awake!
- Start to observe your recurrent thoughts and thought patterns.
- If you find yourself circling back on some of the old negatives:
- Freeze frame
- Take a deep breath
- Change that thought
- Repeat the powerful positive mantra and energize with positive emotions of gratitude (as recommended in my last post).
- Remember to remember to do this every time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought.
Your miraculous brain is under your command! The more you train your brain and manage your mind by focusing on your positive powerful mantra of choice, the more you accelerate the reformatting process. Your brain will begin to delete any old unused pathways and the new neural pathways that you embed will start to take over.
we create our own reality.
What a joy to share with this legend. I had the opportunity to speak on the stage with his wonderful daughter Julie who edited 16 of his 18 books. The lovely lady to his left is his wife, Jean.
Please understand the plight of the writer! Sometimes I'm working on an idea or thought and I put it out before it 'falls into place' exactly as intended.
Is this your final answer? This is my final answer. Enjoy!
The dictionary says that success is defined as "the attainment of popularity or profit," or "a person that achieves desired aims or prosperity."
That may be the world's definition of success, but I define success as a measurement of the heart that only the heart can know. In other words even if the world says that something is successful, if you don't feel successful in your heart of hearts... what is that kind of success really worth?
I have coached hundreds if not thousands of people and many have shared their stories with me. Success is a feeling, an inner knowing, a sense of contentment at a job well done.
To me Success and Significance are sisters, two sides of the same coin. First I feel successful within myself and then I begin to step up and out to support and help others. Remember that success is winning and significance is helping others win.
When you live a life of significance, you feel truly successful. It is the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from helping others win.
Louise Mckay is doing just that. She is one of the three principals that came to my home in Hawaii for a private training. She shared with me recently that she returned to her school to hold their first staff meeting of the year and introduced the word HONOR as the focus word for the year.
Then she invited the entire to team to generate a list of 'honoring words' that could use in addressing one another.
The team came up with thirty or more honoring ways to speak with each other. Below are just a few:
- Would it be ok if…
- If you were in my shoes, what would you want me to say or do?
- Would you tell me what your biggest concern is…
- Can we work on this together?
- How is this working for you?
- What are your thoughts on…?
- Thank you for telling me
Louise is thrilled and amazed at the difference it has made in the atmosphere on campus. I encourage all of you who lead a team of any kind to follow in the model Louise has given us.
- Introduce the word - you might use HONOR or RESPECT or KINDNESS. You choose the word.
- Look it up in the dictionary with the team.
- Brainstorm a working definition that the team can agree on together .
- Divide the room into teams. Ask them to come up with words they could use when addressing each other that would reflect honor or respect or kindness that they agreed on.
And have fun with it. Louise tells me that the entire atmosphere in her school has shifted in a positive way. There is magic and joy through improved relationships and the work flows more easily!