Do you want to make the change or keep the belief? (Part 1)

Let’s say you want to be a runner. You want the health benefits that come with it: losing weight, looking good at the beach, lowering your blood pressure, having more energy, thinking more clearly, etc.

But you don’t start. Or you do start every now and then, but never follow through on a consistent basis. Why not? You say you want to be a runner! Do you? Then why don’t you run?!

The last time I took a run seriously was a half marathon in 2013. (Nearly five years ago.) Prior to that, I had quit running around 2006, while in the best running shape of my life. I told myself I didn’t feel like it anymore.

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Who are You Becoming Today?

It’s a simple question.

You’re becoming someone a little more every day. Who is it? If we are the sum of our actions, the things we do create who we are. So what’s the story of your actions?

Who are you becoming? Write it in your task list. Let it guide you one choice at a time.

Forget about what you did. Most of all, forget about what you didn’t do. Ugh. So noisy. And not helpful. You don’t want to fight those emotional battles.

The choices you make define who you are: the outputs (the actions you took), not the outcomes (the results of those actions– and the emotions that follow those results!) Every now and then, you do have control over outcomes, but less often than you think. What you always have is control of your choices– how you choose to engage with and react to the world.

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To Have Focus is to Begin Again… and Again and Again

Always beginning.

I understand: You focus so you can finish. But focus is hard. We aren’t built for perpetual laser focus that blocks out the world and shines a spotlight on the one vexing problem we want go deep on for hours at a time. It’s physiological.

We’re built to make quick judgements and move on. Attention is expensive and in the world of our ancestors, it could cost dearly. It’s expensive in that your brain is the most energy-intensive organ in your body, consuming half of the sugar your body uses in a day. And not just any of the dozens of sugars our bodies use– only glucose, which it must pull from the bloodstream. Think a lot and your blood sugar drops.

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Mind Games

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

–Marcus Aurelius

I’m often reminded of the wisdom we all possess when talking with kids, including my daughter. She was troubled by how often another girl in her class was awarded “Outstanding Owl” by her teacher. It’s the highest honor a student can achieve in a given day and, let me tell you, they covet each and every “O-O” bestowed upon them.

But Ella didn’t think the other girl deserved all the recognition. And she thought the teacher was overlooking her. It wasn’t fair. It made her angry with the other student, even her teacher.

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If You Have to Hack the Holidays, You’re Doing It Wrong

Lifehacks are great. We all want faster/cheaper/easier/smarter ways of doing things. I can appreciate a good hack here and there.

Sometimes, however, we want to implement those hacks for their own sake. And that’s stupid. It is. Shut up. It’s stupid. I’m seeing too many e-newsletter and blog article subject lines that cater to and reinforce the harmful idea that you can “win Thanksgiving” and some shit.

Win your next feature release. Crush your workout. Balance your damn checkbook like a boss. Awesome.

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5 Reasons Habits are Magic

I have baggage around the idea of habits. “Creatures of habit” are boring, are they not? They’re the ones who make good marks for con men and assassins in the movies because they’re predictable.

Personally, I like to keep my would-be assassins guessing.

Of course, I don’t live in a movie and nothing so exciting is likely to come my way– not unless I lay the groundwork for exciting things to happen. So, although habits do not appeal to me emotionally, I know rationally they carry tremendous power. Some might say habits have all the power.

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Frozen Yogurt?! Don’t WASTE my time!

This is one of my favorite quotes ever. It sums up my feelings of owning your choices about as clearly as anything could.

Several years ago, a student in a training I was running relayed a story about one of his colleagues walking up to the soft serve dispenser in the company cafeteria. She was after a satisfying treat to wrap up her lunch break, and apparently was less than enthusiastic about what she found.

“Frozen yogurt?! Don’t WASTE my time!”

Frozen yogurt to me (and clearly others, like that disgruntled cafeteria diner), is a half-measure. It’s pretend ice cream. There’s no point. If you’re going to half-ass a solution and pretend it’s the real thing, better to skip it altogether.

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An Experiment: Listen Better Immediately

I’ve got listening skillz. If I really concentrate, exercise self-control and call on my training of long ago when I was a counselor for troubled kids… or my consultative sales training after that… or my dog behavioral therapist training after that…

OK. I should have listening skillz. Because I was really good at all of those things.

But I don’t employ my skillz nearly as often or as well as I should. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe because I’m a middle child of five. Who knows. Doesn’t matter.

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How to Never Waste a Meeting (Part 2)

Yesterday, I shared the TTAP method, a simple way to get clear on meeting structure. TTAP helps to reduce frustration for everyone involved by creating some “ground rules.” Of course, ground rules don’t get anything done.

Today, I want to add the juice that makes meetings really work. It’s not fail-safe (because people aren’t), but it’s damn close.

Oh, and it’s super-sexy, too.*

Ownership

Who owns the meeting? The next task? The outcome? If you aren’t prepared to make one individual responsible for the outcome– or take that responsibility yourself– what is it you’re meeting about? To gossip? Complain? Talk in circles?

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How to Never Waste a Meeting (Part 1)

Why do meetings get such a bad rap?

The very idea that two or more people sitting down to talk about something is inherently flawed, is silly. It says more about communication skills than it does about the act of communicating face-to-face. I happen to like meetings because they can accelerate progress.

No joke.

More than 10 years ago, I was taught a trick that serves me to this day, so long as I commit to using it. It’s kind of magical, really. (But only if I use it.)

Thank You, Time, Agenda, Purpose

It’s called TTAP, pronounced, “tee tap,” and there are several ways to use it.

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