Find One Good Thing

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Greg, I know I should be grateful for all the wonderful things in my life. I know that gratitude is good for my mental and physical health. I know that it helps me be a better person. But sometimes, I don’t want to be grateful. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have anything to be grateful for.

I hear you. I think we all feel like that sometimes. You have one of those days where nothing goes right. You oversleep, your hair won’t behave, you spill coffee on your freshly dry cleaned shirt, (or “top” for the ladies. BTW, why is it “top” for a ladies shirt and just shirt for us dudes. Things that make me say, hmmm…) you hit traffic on the way to work and it just goes downhill from there.

I’m not grateful right then. I’m ticked off.

Here’s an important question for those times: Does staying in that angry/depressed/miserable state help us or hurt us?

I’m not saying it’s easy to step back and think about that when you’re angry, but it’s critical that we do. If we can shift our focus from what’s going wrong to all the things that are going right, we can turn our day around. Do that often enough and you can turn your life around.

I thought of this today while I was watching the news. A woman from Louisiana who lost everything in the flooding was explaining how she may be down, but she is not out.

The floodwaters had gone three feet deep in her home. It destroyed everything she had. But, right in the middle of the living room, she found her glass angel – with no damage to it at all.

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“Try and find one good thing everyday,” she said. “No matter what happens, if you see one good thing, that’s enough to get you through.”

If a woman who has lost her home, and everything in it, can find something to be grateful for, why can’t we?

Don’t blow this off. Take a second and really think about 3 things that give you the warm fuzzies inside. It made a difference, didn’t it?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Getting Started is the Hardest Part

You have big ideas, big plans, big goals! But, first you have to check your email. Hey, your daughter needs help with her homework. The lawn isn’t going to mow itself, you know. My desk is so disorganized, I won’t be able to get anything done until I fix that. Time to update my LinkedIn profile.

Why do we procrastinate from the things we know will make our lives so much better? Why is it so hard to get started on something we really want to do? What can we do about it?

The first thing to do is make sure this really is something you want to do. Are you procrastinating because this idea/plan/project/goal doesn’t line up with your values? Is it really your Passionate Purpose?

If you know this really is what you want, then why haven’t you started?

Research shows our minds tend to focus on all the difficulties and complexities of a project or task before we start to do it. So, we tend to avoid starting big projects.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter was a perfect example of this. She was having a self-pity party over all the homework, projects, and studying for finals she had to do. She went on for several minutes and even began to cry.

We then acknowledged she had a lot of work to do, but that getting started is the hardest part. We then organized her work, decided what to do when, and came up with a manageable plan. Then we decided she would work on her first project for 15 minutes and take a break. The idea was to just get started, then she would see it wasn’t as hard as she thought.

It worked great! She ended up working much longer on it and didn’t even realize she had gone past her 15 minutes. It dawned on her that it wasn’t as hard as she thought and that she was getting a lot done.

Another great tool to get things started is to use the Zeigarnik effect to your advantage. The Zeigarnik effect is the tendency to remember projects/tasks/goals that you haven’t completed. In fact, research shows your mind keeps coming back to uncompleted tasks. So, once you get started on what you really want to do, your mind has a tendency to keep coming back to it until you complete it.

Isn’t that great? It’s almost like someone designed us to get important things done. Hmm….

I’m using this a lot right now. As I’m ramping up my professional and personal development business I often feel overwhelmed. I have big ideas for my speaking and coaching. I’m working on creating online courses for “Business On Purpose” and “Life On Purpose.” I’m writing my second book. I’m starting to play gigs again with my acoustic guitar.

Each of these ideas will take a lot of work. Many of them will require me to do things I’m not quite sure how to do yet. So, I sometimes find myself doing busywork instead of getting started.

Boo!

But, once I start, I get on a roll.

Yay!

I’ve found the 15 minute trick I used with my daughter works with me as well. Just do it for 15 minutes. I can do anything for 15 minutes. Then I tend to keep going.

Another great technique is to break down the task into smaller bites and just do one bite. Your little successes will lead to big ones.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

You don’t need to know how to do it all before you start. Get started and you’ll learn what you need as you go.

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Being Assertive Right Away Pays Off Big Time

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I can’t believe what that guy said to me.
Wait until you hear what our vendor just did.
That customer wastes so much of my time, I wonder if he’s even worth it.

Do you ever say things like that? Why don’t you do something to stop these problems from happening again and again?

Well, the customer is always right. I don’t want to be difficult, or rude, or impolite. I was raised to be nice to people.

I get all that, but are you confusing being nice with being a doormat?

You can be polite and nice while still being assertive. When you do, your life will get so much easier. People will respect you more – even the people who are mistreating you – and you will start to be treated preferentially.

When I was in 7th grade I got into 13 fights. I didn’t start any of them. I was a short, scrawny kid with braces, glasses and acne. I looked like I had a sign on me saying, “Please pick on me.” The bullies did.

I didn’t win any of the fights. But I never fought the same kid twice because I stood up for myself. When someone started to hit me, I hit him back. But I didn’t just hit him back, I went CRAZY! I yelled, screamed, punched, scratched, kicked and did whatever I could to let him know I was not an easy target. He might win, but he would be licking some wounds in the victory circle.

It took a while for word to get around the bully clique, but after 13 fights no one ever picked on me again. The bullies didn’t become my friends, but they respected me.

Greg, um, I don’t think it’s good advice to beat people up.

I’m not saying it’s time to beat up everyone who mistreats you. But the idea that you have to take people’s garbage and smile is ridiculous. Don’t be aggressive, be assertive.

When someone is speaking rudely to you kindly, but firmly, let them know you’ll be happy to speak with them when they’re calmer and can be civil.

When your vendor isn’t living up to the contract, politely but firmly remind them of the details and hold them to it – or change vendors.

When a customer is more pain than he’s worth, let him know that while you appreciate his business, it seems he isn’t happy with what you offer and it’s time he takes that business somewhere else.

Start being assertive right away and watch how things change. You will end up being happier, more productive, and probably make more money by doing away with so many problems. You’ll also be treated better by everyone you interact with.

Try it and tell me how it goes.

One Habit That’s Hurting Your Relationships and Career

Most of us focus on what we need to do. That’s good. But, what if some of the things we do are holding us back? Shouldn’t we work on those?

I realized this week how much I avoid people who complain. Then I realized that Icomplain too much. So I started thinking. Am I losing friends and influence every time I complain? How about you? And, what can we do to complain less?

I have a friend who likes to complain to me. I have been an empathetic sounding board. I have tried to help him generate solutions to his problems. I have simply nodded, said mmm a lot, and reflected back to him what he says. I’ve tried it all.

None of it seems to help. It’s the same thing every day. I now find myself looking for ways to avoid him. I think his boss is starting to feel the same way.

Doesn’t he see how this is hurting him? Doesn’t it make him miserable? What could he possibly get out of it that keeps him doing it?

As I was enjoying the view from my high horse it slowly dawned on me that I sometimes do this too. (And I’m a guy who blogs about personal development all the time!)

We all complain at times. It can really hurt our relationships in and out of the workplace. So why do we keep doing it? Complaining does have some positive outcomes.

  • It may make us feel better by “venting”
  • Someone may validate our feelings
  • It occasionally leads to someone else fixing the problem
  • You fit in with the other complainers

But the short and long-term consequences of complaining are way worse.

  • You lose friends and people avoid you
  • It leads to difficulty in your home life
  • You’re passed over for promotions or fired
  • You get fewer clients and sales
  • It contributes to a bad attitude and miserable life

I’m sure you can add to these lists.

Hold on, Greg, sometimes I need to complain. You don’t know what happened to me today!

Hey, I’m not the complaining Nazi. I get it. But how about greatly reducing your complaints and only doing complaining in a way that will help you?

Action Steps:

1) Keep track of every time you complain for one week. You need to know if this is a real problem for you. You might be shocked.

2) Start the day with the right mindset. Focus on all the good in your life. Who loves you? Who do you love? What makes you smile? You can find time to do this right when you wake up or on your commute to work. List what your grateful for. Pray. Before you poopoo this, try it. (I will not be poopooed!)

3) When you are about to complain, stop yourself. Use the A-B-C techniques in Rational Emotive Therapy to make sure you are thinking logically about the problem and responding rationally to it.

4) Turn your complaint into an idea for a solution. What can you do to fix the problem? Are you talking to the right person to fix it? Friends, family and bosses love people who have solutions. You’ll be surprised how often your solution, or something close to it, is implemented. Even if it isn’t, people will see you as a positive, solution oriented person instead of someone who complains all the time.

5) Find a complaint friend if you really have to vent. My wife and I do this for each other. We use each other to vent the big things that really tick us off. That way we don’t complain to everyone else. (Be careful here, we still limit how much we complain to each other or we will drive each other crazy.)

Question: What techniques do you use to minimize complaining?

Positive Thinking Isn’t Lying to Yourself

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Because I generally have a positive outlook, I frequently have people ask me, “Greg, you’re not one of those positive thinkers looking at the world through rose colored glasses are you?”

Well, yes and no.

I am a positive thinker, but I’m not someone who ignores problems and pretends everything is perfect. That’s not being positive and optimistic. That’s being stupid.

The optimist throws the curtains open and says, “Good morning, God!” The pessimist rolls over and says, “Good god, it’s morning.”

If you are having trouble paying your bills and instead of doing anything to fix the problem you simply think positive and hope your bills get paid, they will eventually come take your car and foreclose on your house.

But that doesn’t mean the only thing you can do is focus on your poor financial situation. There is always more than one reality.

Reality 1: You don’t have enough money coming in.

Reality 2: You have a good job. You have opportunities for advancement. Maybe you can ask for some overtime work. You have skills to earn extra income. You could start a side business via the Internet. You could cut back on some of your expenses that aren’t necessities, etc.

The reality you focus on will greatly affect your mood, actions and outcome.

Remember, you aren’t lying to yourself or ignoring reality. You are choosing to focus on the reality that will help you the most.

Research shows that to get the best results you need to focus on the positives three times as much as the negatives.

It’s something all of us can start doing today.

When I do it, I move forward and feel better.

Let me know how it works for you.

What Would Happen If You Assume It’s Possible?

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You can’t do it. It’s impossible. Can’t be done. There’s just no way. You’re wasting your time.

When you say that, your brain doesn’t even try to come up with options. It just says, “OK, guess I don’t need to think about how to make that happen. I’ll just move on to trying to figure out the next thing they should stuff in our pizza crust.” (Maybe that’s just my brain.)

If you believe it can’t be done, you will never do it. You will never even try to do it.

But what if?

What if you assume it is possible? What happens then?

You start to imagine how it could be done. Your brain starts a new kind of innovative, inventive, creative and productive thought process.

You’ve asked your brain to find a solution so it’s working on it.

Remember the Apollo 13 space mission? After the fire and oxygen problems, imagine if the astronauts and engineers had said, “There’s just no way we can fix this.” Not good.

Instead, they said, “Failure is not an option.”

Is there anything recently that caused you to say it can’t be done?

A potential customer you don’t think you can land?

A new business venture you really want to try but you don’t see how you can make it work?

Creating a lasting relationship with someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with?

Buying that new house?

Taking on a new project?

What would happen if you assume it’s possible, say failure is not an option, and start some imaginative thinking on how to do it?

If you start asking the right questions, you might be shocked by the answers your brain comes up with.

Let me know.

Would You Rather Be Redirected or Reprimanded?

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Is this a trick question, like does a one-legged duck swim in circles? Or is this just semantics and being redirected is simply a nicer way of saying reprimanded?

Neither. This is a real question and there’s a big difference between the two things.

Most bosses, managers, and even some parents tend to reprimand you when you’re not doing what they want you to do. Very few redirect you.

I’ve been reading The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, and this is how they explain the difference:

Reprimand:

The boss/manager/parent tells you that what you did was wrong. There is a punitive feel to it. It tends to make you feel bad about yourself or get angry with the person reprimanding you.

You usually don’t receive the feedback until your yearly review (unless you did something really wrong). This gets you frustrated because you could have fixed the problem if you were told about it.

It creates an “Us v. Them” mentality.

I had a basketball coach who reprimanded us all the time. The slightest error and he would yank you out of the game and yell at you. The team played tight because we were afraid of making a mistake instead of reaching to play our best.

Redirect:

The boss/manager/parent re-clarifies your mutual goals to make sure you’re on the same page.

He explains to you what you did wrong and gives the feedback as soon as he can.

He lets you know he is truly concerned and pauses to let you reflect on why this should concern you as well.

He then explains how he values you, knows you’re better than the mistake, and still expects great things from you from now on.

When the redirect is over – it’s over.

I also had a basketball coach who worked in a style very similar to this. He would tell you when you blew it – even yell at you at times.

Then he would give a quick instruction on how to do it the right way and encourage you.

Then he would let it go.

I played way harder for him than I did the other coach.

“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”

– Unknown

Does any of this resonate with you? What can you do to use redirection instead of reprimands in your daily life?