Sunday, 30 August 2015

Take an Inspiration Day

By Steve Pavlina

Have you ever felt the urge to explore a totally different field, skill, or interest for a while?

What is it you’d like to try, if you only had the time? Music? Programming? Web design? Entrepreneurship? Camping? A new exercise? A better way of eating? A new social group?

But then of course, you talk yourself out of it, don’t you? You probably tell yourself things like:

I can’t be starting something new right now.

I have too many other things to deal with.

It would take a big commitment to get anywhere with this, and I don’t have that kind of time.

I’m not ready to transition yet.

No one is forcing you to commit though. Commitment is unnecessary at this point. Why not simply taste and sample your new interest? Give it a day to impress you.

Set aside one day to explore your new interest. Say yes to it for one day only. During that day let it guide you, lead you, and make its case for further exploration.

Fire up GarageBand, and try writing your very first song. It’ll probably suck, but so what? It will be your own creation.

Film some video with your phone, fire up iMovie, and make your first movie. You’ll learn a great deal by doing.

Go to an art supply store, tell an employee you want to try painting, and ask for help to buy the bare minimum supplies you need to paint for one day. Take it home, and paint the day away. See what flows through you. Maybe you’re more creative than you realize.

Spend a day researching and reading about a whole new field — the one that keeps coming up for you recently.

Go out and visit stores you wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Talk to the salespeople. Ask all the questions you can think of. Become as much of an expert as you can in one day.

Go vegan for a day, and you’ll save more water than you would by not showering for a year. There are thousands of free recipes online, so use Google to find them. Make a shopping list, cook up a storm, and have a feast.

Read about the equipment in a part of the gym you never visit. Learn some exercises you can do. Then do a full workout there. It will give you a nice sense of accomplishment.

Have you ever played tennis? Disc golf? The equipment is cheap. Go have your first game.

After that one immersive day, you’ll be a slightly different person. You’ll have a fresher understanding of your interest. And you’ll be in a better position to assess and evaluate whether you’d like to explore it further.

Maybe one day is all you need. You satisfied your curiosity and discovered that the door wasn’t for you. That’s a good outcome since you won’t have to worry about those distracting urges for years to come.

Maybe that day triggers many more questions. You got a taste, but it wasn’t enough. You want more. So take more inspiration days, half days, quarter days, or whatever you need to continue your exploration. Lean into it more.

Maybe that day was amazing — full of rapid learning and encouraging progress. You walked through a door and discovered a delightful new path. Wonderful! Keep going. Let the inspiration continue to motivate you.

What if nothing inspires you? Then you’re not listening very well. If you can’t hear the voice of inspiration, turn down the volume of everything else. Turn off the distractions like the constantly buzzing phone, sit quietly by yourself, and take an hour to simply listen. Reflect on your life, your lifestyle, your work or school, your relationships, your finances, and your body. Listen to your thoughts. Hear yourself think. Notice your feelings.

What’s nudging you to change, grow, or shift? Where do you notice a pushing or pulling sensation? Where’s the dissatisfaction? Where’s the disappointment? Where’s the gentle request to try something new and different?

Maybe you have many commitments already. Maybe you’re busy. Maybe you have some great excuses. Give your inspirations an outlet anyway — a small slice of your time. Otherwise they’ll poke you… then nag you… then eventually overload you with regret.

Give an inspiration a day to make its case. Open the box and peer inside. Listen, taste, and explore.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Changing Me to Change Them

By Jim Clemmer

"We must be the change we wish to see in this world." - Mahatma Gandhi, Indian nationalist and spiritual leader who developed the practice of nonviolent disobedience that forced Great Britain to grant independence to India in 1947

I can think of all kinds of ways to change our kids, my associates, my wife Heather, and lots of other people in my life. But that's not the place to start. The place to start is with changing me. The Nobel Prize winning physicist, Albert Einstein, observed that we can't solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it. The same principle applies to influencing and leading people around us. I can't influence others to change what they're doing with the same behavior that contributed to their current behavior.

The longer I've been with others who I'd like to improve or change, the more this applies to me. Something I've been doing, or failing to do, has contributed to their current behavior patterns. If I am going to shift their behavior to a new level, I will need to change my behavior. To change them, I need to change me. As the 18th century French writer, Francois Fenelon, put it, "we can often do more for others by correcting our own faults than by trying to correct theirs."

This key leadership principle is useless if we think that we can control others. It's especially easy to believe this if I am the boss, parent, owner, teacher, coach, project leader, director, or in some similar position of authority. I will always be stuck at the superficial level of "doing my leadership thing" as long as I try controlling others through position power. I am ready to move to the deeper levels of leadership being (and greater effectiveness) when I give up trying to control. I can then shift my focus to influencing and guiding others by what I do as well as by what I say.

To create something we must be something. For example, becoming a parent is easy; being one is tough. We can't teach our kids self-discipline unless we are self-disciplined. We can't help build strong organizational teams unless we're a strong team player. We can't help develop a close community if we're not a good neighbor. We can't enjoy a happy marriage if we're not a loving partner. We won't have a supportive network of friends or colleagues until we're a supportive friend or collaborative colleague.

In The Heart Aroused: Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, David Whyte writes, "all things change when we do." Writer Gautama Chopra elaborates, "by changing our beliefs, our perceptions, we cause our experience to change, and in this way we change the world around us. There is no true boundary or limit to the self; there is no separation from the world that encircles us. When we master the forces within, we influence the forces without."

In The CLEMMER Group's leadership development work we use a simple exercise to help participants connect the changes they'd like to see to the changes they need to make in their own behavior. Draw a line down the middle of a page. Title the left column "Changes I'd Like Them to Make." List the four or five biggest changes you'd like to see in others.

OK, that's the easy part. Now title the right column "Ways I Can Exemplify These Changes." Brainstorm ways you can influence "them" with your personal behavior. This is the hard part. It means I must face up to what I have or haven't been doing to influence their behavior.

It's much easier to be a victim - to blame all their behavior on them and refuse to accept any responsibility at all. But how honest and true is that, really? I may need more feedback from them to clearly see my role in their behavior. I likely need to reflect further and deeper on our relationship. Is my Influence Index weak? The big (and often painful) leadership question is; what do I need to change about me to help change them? Instead of just wishing for a change of circumstance, I may need a change of character.

Follow Me: Leading By Example

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American writer and poet

Most of us put leading by example high on the list of key leadership characteristics. We use phrases like "walking the talk" or "connecting the video with the audio" to express this core leadership concept. That's authenticity.

We recognize real leadership when we see it in others. What we often don't recognize is our own behavior reflected back to us. For example, children act like their parents despite all attempts to get them to love learning. Teams act like their leaders, despite attempts to train them otherwise. Customers yawn about the indifference of our service despite all the catchy slogans and advertising. Family members feel unappreciated despite (unexpressed) feelings about how much they mean to us. Conflict creates tension and misunderstanding despite realizations that issues should be confronted more effectively.

Good intentions are useless if they stop there. Unless we act on them, they're nothing more than warm, fuzzy thoughts in our own heads. When it comes to leadership, the messenger must be the message. That well-known biblical story of the Good Samaritan would have no meaning if all he did was look with sympathy at the badly wounded traveler lying by the road. He acted on his compassion and made a difference. One of the biggest differences between most people and authentic leaders is action. Real leaders make it happen.

About The Author

Jim Clemmer

Excerpted from Jim's fourth bestseller, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. View the book's unique format and content, Introduction and Chapter One, and feedback showing why nearly 100,000 copies are now in print at Jim's new companion book to Growing the Distance is The Leader's Digest: Timeless Principles for Team and Organization Success. Jim Clemmer is an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, workshop/retreat leader, and management team developer on leadership, change, customer focus, culture, teams, and personal growth. His web site is

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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Leaders are Learned Optimists

By: Jim Clemmer

"People often say that this or that person has not found himself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something one creates." - Thomas Szasz, 20th century American psychoanalyst who founded the 'anti-psychiatry' movement

Effective leaders are "unreasonable" optimists. Optimists refuse to live in "the real world." They live in a world of hope and possibilities. They see an opportunity in every calamity. The pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity. Optimists excite and arouse others to action by helping them see, believe in, and reach for what could be.

If you haven't already read Learned Optimism, put it at the top of your reading list. Learned Optimism was written by Martin Seligman, professor of social science and director of clinical training in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. In it, he reports on decades of pioneering research he and others have done on the effects of pessimism and optimism, ways to assess the degrees of either, and how to change a pessimistic style to an optimistic one. His work adds an important new twist and depth to understanding the timeless principles of leadership action.

He writes, "The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is just a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad luck, or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder."

At the core of Seligman's findings are the interconnected concepts of "learned helplessness" and "explanatory style." Seligman explains, "Learned helplessness is the giving-up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn't matter. Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events happen. It is the great modulator of learned helplessness. An optimistic explanatory style stops helplessness, whereas a pessimistic explanatory style spreads helplessness."

He goes on to cite research that shows pessimism is a major cause of depression, inaction and inertia, worry, and much poorer physical health (including earlier death). He has also found "pessimism is self-fulfilling. Pessimists don't persist in the face of challenges, and therefore fail more frequently - even when success is attainable... their explanatory style now converts the predicted setback into a disaster, and disaster into a catastrophe."

We can use Martin Seligman's ABCs to assess our explanatory style: any Adversity we encounter triggers our habitual Beliefs, which determines the Consequences of that situation or those circumstances. Learned Optimism has many useful assessment tools to help you understand whether you tend to pessimism or optimism and suggestions on how to become more optimistic.

To see beyond what is to what could be, we need to become "learned optimists." It starts by working with our teams or on our own to "reframe" negative situations and problems by looking for the improvement opportunities buried in them.

About The Author

Jim Clemmer is a bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, workshop/retreat leader, and management team developer on leadership, change, customer focus, culture, teams, and personal growth. During the last 25 years he has delivered over two thousand customized keynote presentations, workshops, and retreats. Jim's five international bestselling books include The VIP Strategy, Firing on All Cylinders, Pathways to Performance, Growing the Distance, and The Leader's Digest. His web site is

Saturday, 8 August 2015

How You Can Become One In A Million

By Christopher Green

Do you ever wonder why millions and millions of people live life in exactly the same way? Fear and a need for security are the driving forces at work here and this combination prevents most people from living their dreams. Terrified to take even the smallest of risks, they experience very little excitement and few adventures. A steady job, married with two kids, a nice home in a decent area and a couple of vacations every year. Make no mistake about it, this is pretty much as good as life gets for the vast majority of people.

Do you want to live like this or do you want to live a happier, more exciting life colored with adventure, risk and big rewards? Few people live this way, and those that do are one in a million. If you want to join this exclusive group, here's 5 tips to help you achieve it:

1. Risk - be prepared to accept that big rewards demand a price. You have to take a risk to get them. Whether it's business, a dangerous job, an extreme sport to name but three areas, you have to balance the risks involved with the rewards on offer. Quite simply, risk comes with the territory and you cannot get big rewards without it.

2. Conformity is doing the same things everybody else does because everybody else is doing them so it must be right, yes? Just one problem. If you do the same things as everybody else you'll get exactly what everybody else gets - minimal levels of happiness, huge levels of debt, the rat-race and a life devoid of any real excitement and achievement. Would you describe anyone who lives like this as 'One in a million'? Also, sheep conform. They do what all the other sheep do because they cannot think for themselves. How about you - are you a mindless, obedient sheep? Resolve to do your own thing and walk a different path to everybody else - if you want to be one in a million that is.

3. Know what you want. People who get the most from life do so because they know exactly what they want. They take the time to think about what they want to achieve and they set goals for themselves. Then they get busy on achieving their goals. Contrast this with the majority of people who bumble through life with no idea at all about what they really want to do. Key difference: Life is either something that happens to you or something you make happen. Guess which attitude you need to be one in a million.

4. No excuses. This is a big one. Because most people have many opportunities presented to them throughout their lives but are too scared to take one. Instead, when opportunity comes knocking, most people will build a wall of excuses to avoid it: Age, sex, education, family, jobs, money, skills, abilities, the cat, the dog, the goldfish and the weather. There's more and I'm not being flippant when I mention pets. You name it, the vast majority of people will use it as an excuse to justify missing out on an opportunity that could drastically improve the quality of their lives. If you want to be one in a million, then throw your excuse crutch onto the bonfire and resolve to never use any excuses to cheat yourself out of opportunity. Welcome it. Embrace it. And then milk it for all it's worth.

5. Don't listen to people who haven't done anything. Be your own person and use your intelligence to make good for you decisions. The problem is that when you do, others will pour cold water on your ideas by highlighting all the negative aspects they can think of. They will do their level best to stop you from pursuing a better life by heaping their fears onto you. DO NOT LISTEN. Unless they've lived an exciting life, full of rich experiences, exciting adventures, successes and failures and true happiness. Such people will be more positive about your plans and will be able to provide you with knowledge to help you on your way. Those who haven't done anything are not in a position to be of any use to you whatsoever and as such, are part of millions. But you want to be different yes? You don't want to be one of millions you want to be one in a million. So why listen to people who are and always will be one of millions?

You want to live life in your own unique way and these 5 tips will help you to do it. You can do it and after all, what have you got to lose? The reward is to be one in a million. Believe me, it's well worth it.

About The Author

Christopher Green is the author of the new book 'Conquering Fear', the acclaimed program that shows you how fear can help you achieve your goals and transform your life. For more info CLICK HERE =>

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