The Power of Choice

Rohn: Change Begins with Choice... 

If you don't like how things are, change it! Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to make important changes in our lives. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.

We can also do nothing. We can pretend rather than perform. And if the idea of having to change ourselves makes us uncomfortable, we can remain as we are. We can choose rest over labor, entertainment over education, delusion over truth and doubt over confidence. The choices are ours to make. But while we curse the effect, we continue to nourish the cause.

As Shakespeare uniquely observed, "The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves." We created our current circumstances by our past choices. We have both the ability and the responsibility to make better choices beginning today. Those who are in search of the good life do not need more answers or more time to think things over to reach better conclusions. They need the truth.

They need the whole truth. And they need nothing but the truth. We cannot allow our errors in judgment, repeated every day, to lead us down the wrong path. We must keep coming back to those basics that make the biggest difference in how our life works out. And then we must make the very choices that will bring life, happiness and joy into our daily lives.
And if I may be so bold to offer my last piece of advice for someone seeking and needing to make changes in their life: If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. You have the ability to totally transform every area in your life—and it all begins with your very own power of choice.

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Turning Dreams Into Reality

Turning dreams into reality involves some luck. Organizations often discount the role of luck in strategic outcomes. You can’t plan your way into getting struck by lightening. Luck does play a roll in our success, but luck was never meant to be a strategy.

If you are using luck as a strategy you will soon be living a fantasy.

“Dreams plus Luck” is in the same camp as winning the lottery.
“Dreams plus a Learning Agenda” is a commitment to a reality.

Dreams are highly beneficial when accompanied by action.  But dreams without action enable people to live in a world of make believe.  A dream without a plan is soon exposed.
“When the tide goes out, you discover who’s been swimming naked.” – Warren Buffet
Dreaming with a learning agenda directs our intention towards what’s most important to us.  John Kotter has said there are two kinds of people in the world:
  • those who accept their life, and
  • those who lead their life.
Some people just get up, look at their life, and hope something good will happen. They are saying, “I hope I get lucky.”  The successful person says, “I’m going to make something happen.  I’m going to build on trust; make that relationship work; take control over the things I have influence over; lead my life; create a personal learning agenda that will help fulfill my dreams. AND, I’ll be alert to, and take advantage of all the lucky breaks that come my way.”
Their thought process goes like this:
  • Clearly noticing what’s possible
  • Seeing specifically what I want to achieve
  • Building upon good decisions along the way
  • Strategically thinking about tactics to get things done and change minds
  • Valuing the trust and respect of the people around me
So how do you create a learning agenda that will help you fulfill your dreams? For starters, ask “What is the gap between what I know or the skills I have and the information or the skills I need to actualize my dream?”  Then follow these five steps:
  1. Determine your goals and ask yourself: Where do I want to be next year? What do I need to do to accomplish these goals?  Your answers become your learning agenda.
  2. Assess the skills or knowledge you’ll need.  Some goals won’t require new skills or knowledge, but others will.  What specific skills do you need to make your dream(s) come true?  What skill that you already possess needs to be improved?
  3. Explore the best sources.  Is it going back to school?  Enrolling in a training course offered by your employer? Developing a relationship with mentors and/or coworkers who can teach you new skills or insights? Look for that optimal source for every skill you decide you need to learn.
  4. Create your learning agenda. You now have the information, so start creating your learning plan.  It should lay out the skills and knowledge you need to acquire.  It should include a timeline and be in writing.
  5. Execute.  Let the fun begin. The sooner you get going, the sooner you’ll learn the knowledge and skills you need to enjoy and achieve your goals!
Be aware of some subtle traps. Avoid these….
  • I’m too young. 
  • I’m too old. 
  • I don’t have the time. 
  • I don’t have the money.
These doubts are common to all of us.  One of the best ways to fight your doubts is to be clear on where you want to go.  Life’s what ifs will move you towards your worst nightmare.  Clarity will move you towards your dream.

You are putting a stake in the ground. It’s solid.

As you look at your dreams, don’t choose the hardest or the easiest.  Choose the most important.  When you create dreams that align with your purpose you will discover overlap in a number of areas of your life.

In the words of Seth Godin:
“Change that’s worth doing is change that most other people are afraid of. It’s change that other people fear won’t work or that will lead to ridicule. You know you are onto something when you find the tension, when you find the dissent, when you find people who say ‘that’s insane.’ You were taught in school to do what you were told. But you will not be rewarded for that going forward.”
“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.” – Douglas MacArthur
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Replace Negative Thoughts With Positive Thinking

Positive and negative thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies: What we expect can often come true.  

If you start off thinking you will mess up a task, the chances are that you will: You may not try hard enough to succeed, you won't attract support from other people, and you may not perceive any results as good enough. Positive thinking, on the other hand, is often associated with positive actions and outcomes. You're drawn to, and you focus on, the positive aspects of a situation. You have hope and faith in yourself and others, and you work and invest hard to prove that your optimism is warranted. You'll enthuse others, and they may well "pitch in" to help you. This makes constructive outcomes all the more likely.  When it comes down to it, positive, optimistic people are happier and healthier, and enjoy more success than those who think negatively. The key difference between them is how they think about and interpret the events in their life.

So, how do you think about your successes and failures? Do you think you have a predictable thinking pattern?

The first step in changing negative thinking is to become aware of it. For many of us, negative thinking is a bad habit – and we may not even know we're doing it! 

Consider these examples of negative thought patterns: The guy on the subway who just made a face is surely directing his behavior at you. When the receptionist doesn't greet you in the morning, you must have done something to anger her. again! You go straight to the coffee machine, because it's Monday morning and you just know you'll be solving problems until lunchtime. When you finally get to your desk, your assistant is waiting for you. "Oh no," you think. "What has he done now? The first problem of the day.”

Imagine how it makes you feel to constantly surround yourself with negativity. Then ask yourself if this is the way you tend to think in your own life? Dr Martin Seligman, who has been described as America's most influential psychologist, has done extensive research on thought patterns. In particular, he looks at the impact of an optimistic versus pessimistic outlook on life and success. He uses three basic dimensions of Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization, with optimistic people on one end of the scale and pessimistic people on the other.

Believing that something we are experiencing is either permanent or temporary. The pessimist statement implies that you think bad times will carry on forever. 

Pessimist: I lost my job and I'll never find one as good again. No point even looking!
Optimist: I lost my job. Thank goodness there are other opportunities I can explore!

Believing that situational factors cause an effect or that the effect is evidence of more universal factors at work. The pessimist statement shows that you tend to think that if you've experienced a problem in one place, you'll experience that problem wherever you go.

Pessimist: I lost my job. Companies are all the same; all they care about is money. I don't know why I bother putting in any effort at all.
Optimist: I lost my job. It's too bad our company has to reinvent itself to stay competitive. Thankfully I learned some great transferable skills!

Believing that something about you influenced the outcome or that something external to you caused it.  The pessimist tends to blame himself for bad things, rather than attributing the cause to more general factors. 
Pessimist: I lost my job. If I had been a decent employee they would have found a new job for me.
Optimist: I lost my job. I gave it my all, however they just can't use my skill set right now.

Re-shape Your Thinking
The way you view what happens around you can show whether you have a positive or negative pattern of thinking when you become more aware of your thoughts - and the effect they have on your life. 

When you're more aware of the way you think, you can take action to use positive situations to your advantage, and re-shape the negative ones. The goal is to think positively, regardless of the situation, and make a conscious effort to see opportunities instead of obstacles.

So if we look at one of the examples listed above, if you immediately think the receptionist is mad at you because she didn't say hello, how rational is that? Now change that thought to more rational outcomes like, she have been busy or distracted when you walked by or did you say hello to her? Maybe she wasn't feeling well, or she was in a negative mood herself. These are all more rational reasons for her behavior than simply assuming that you did something wrong.  Persistent negative thinking can cause mental health problems, including depression. While these positive thinking techniques have been shown to have a positive effect, they are for guidance only, and readers should take the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they are experiencing persistent unhappiness.

Key Points
Becoming more positive is always a good thing. The more aware you are of your thoughts, the better you'll be able to change them to emphasize the positive.  Positive thinking usually attracts positive people, events, and outcomes. If you want to create an environment where you're successful and satisfied, you'll need the power of positive thinking on your side.  You may not be aware of all of your negative thoughts and the effect they have on your life, however, by taking some time to understand your own thought patterns, you can challenge those irrational, negative thoughts – and replace them with more positive, optimistic and empowering messages.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world." - Buddha

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Are you connected to your emotional self?

For many of us, it can be hard to properly express our emotions. We tend to either keep our emotions bottled up and not show them to anyone, or they overflow and spill out in unhealthy and unexpected ways.

In our society, emotions are often seen as a sign of weakness. They are viewed as the opposite of “rationality” and “intelligence,” and this stigma is part of what makes it difficult for people to express their emotional self. We don’t want to be seen as weak.

However, emotions play a huge role in how we understand the world and communicate to others. It is therefore very important that we learn how to connect more with our emotional self.

Be aware of signs of emotional repression.

The first step in connecting more with your emotional self is to be aware of signs of emotional repression. One common sign that you are repressing your emotions is that your emotions often erupt unexpectedly. For example, you spend a long time not telling someone about this little thing that bothers you, and then one day you just explode at them. When you don’t allow yourself to express or release emotions in a healthy way, they can build up to a point where you can no longer control them.

Other signs of repressing your emotions include lots of stress, anxiety, fatigue, and even insomnia. Keeping emotions bottled up is draining on your body. When you try to keep your emotions all to yourself, you often feel physically worse.

Ask yourself how you feel everyday.

One simple way to connect more with your emotional self is to give time to ask yourself how you feel every day. Just spending 5-10 minutes sitting down and questioning your feelings, can make a big difference in how well connected you are to your emotional self. We often see our emotions as part of the “background” of everyday life – so taking just a bit of time and making them your main focus can be a very healthy and refreshing thing to do. And if you practice meditation, consider spending a whole session just using your emotions as the object of focus.

Don’t try to rationalize away every emotion.

Often times people who aren’t connected with their emotional self feel a constant need to “rationalize” their emotions. They can’t just “feel” for the sake of “feeling.” There needs to be a reason, a purpose, or an explanation behind every feeling they ever have. While it can be useful to analyze our emotions sometimes, it’s also nice to just let yourself experience an emotion without needing to find some underlying reason behind it. Not every emotion is going to be explainable. In fact, often times emotions express a special kind of “knowledge” about ourselves and our world that can’t be translated verbally. You need to sometimes accept emotions as a language of their own.

Talk to other people about how you feel

Emotions can be difficult to share with others, but they are still good to talk about on a regular basis.

Talking more about your feelings allows you to be honest about your emotional self, and gives others the opportunity to offer insight that you may have not considered. Many emotions are emotions driven by our relationships with other people – social emotions – like love, anger, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, guilt, and pride. By openly sharing our feelings with others, we fulfill our emotional expression at a much needed social level.

Find ways to express emotions creatively.

Talking with others is one way to express your emotions, but another healthy alternative is to find creative outlets. This can include any activities such as music, writing, photography, painting, film-making, dancing, or whatever you are passionate about. Often times art gives you a way to communicate your feelings in a way other than just words. It allows you to connect more with the physical and visceral experience of your emotional self. Having creative outlets also gives you a chance to digest your emotions at a unique and personal level that can’t usually be achieved through only introspection and conversation.

Use movies, TV, books, and music that elicits strong emotions.

Another great tool in helping you connect more with your emotional self is to watch movies or TV, read a book, or listen to music that elicits strong emotions. Often times consuming movies, TV, books, and music can give us an emotional experience that we don’t always have in our “real world” lives. For example, a movie can take you into the life of a character who lives a vastly different life than you – and goes through struggles that are different than your own. In this way, these forms of entertainment can broaden our emotional flexibility – they give us a chance to experience a more “full range of human emotions” that isn’t always available to us. Horror movies give us a chance to experience terror and fear. Romance novels give us a chance to experience lust and love. And dramas give us a chance to experience sadness and grief. All of these provide a safe and healthy way to tap into different emotions.

Becoming self-aware of your emotions and the importance of actively expressing those emotions will allow the body and the mind to regulate itself towards a healthy, balanced existence. Achieve your full potential! Book a complimentary session at Business and Life Management Coaching to get the support you need to excel in your professional and personal life!

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs are everywhere and a part of all of us, to greater or lesser degree. The keys to overcoming many of these are first recognizing them, then understanding how we got them, and take action to banish them through sustained activity. Start by taking these steps.

“Self-limiting beliefs are everywhere and a part of all of us, to greater or lesser degree,” says Bruce Frankel, author of What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life? “The keys to overcoming many of these are recognizing them, understanding how we got them, and then banishing them through sustained activity.” - See more at:
“Self-limiting beliefs are everywhere and a part of all of us, to greater or lesser degree,” says Bruce Frankel, author of What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life? “The keys to overcoming many of these are recognizing them, understanding how we got them, and then banishing them through sustained activity.” - See more at:
Isolate The Belief
First consider what the belief is that is limiting you. Many of us make limiting choices without realizing that they are based on flawed, limiting beliefs.

Find times where you have done something (or not done something) that seemed to limit you in some way. Then ask 'What beliefs led to this choice?' Keep digging, asking 'What belief underlies that belief?' until you come to the limiting belief or beliefs.

Also consider what concerns or frightens you and so limits you. What do you fear? Why? What beliefs lead you to such fears?

Seek The Source
Think back to when you first had the belief. When did you first belief this? What happened for you to believe it?

Were you told to believe it by someone? Was it a parent, teacher, or maybe someone who was not thinking kindly about you.

Was it based on an experience? Did you try something once, failed and then formed the belief that you were incapable? Or that 'other people' think in certain ways?

Recognize The Falsehood
In doing the above steps, you may already realize that the limiting belief is just that: a belief which is both limited and limiting. You are holding it because you were told to or because it helped you once.

Take time to reflect on this and recognize the full extent of the belief, how false it really is and especially how it has limited you in the past. Feel free to get angry about this.

In doing this, you may need to accept that you are not perfect, which can be disconcerting (beware of limiting beliefs here also). You must be open to learning and ready to change.

Form Empowering Beliefs
When you want to change a belief, you may well need an enabling belief which will replace the old one.

Be careful with these, making them realistic and not setting yourself up for disappointment. It can be more effective, for example, to believe that you can do public speaking than to immediately believe you are world-class at it. If you lack a skill that needs to be learned, believing you now have it is likely to lead to problems. It is better to believe you are able to learn (which is one of the most empowering beliefs you can have). Believing 'I can' can be more powerful than thinking 'I am'.

In a similar vein, if you thought you’re not smart enough, notice the different between thinking that as opposed to being intelligent. The trick is to consider where the belief will take you, what will it let you think and do, and what evidence will it create, as in the next step.

Create Evidence of Success
The most powerful and unshakeable beliefs are those that are based on lots of evidence. So now you have recognized and challenged you limiting beliefs and found empowering beliefs, then you need to start creating evidence.

Depending on what it is, you may be more sensible to start small. If you believed that you could not talk with strangers, try starting with simple politeness, saying 'thank you' and 'after you', which immediately show that actually you can talk to strangers. Then build up with brief small-talk, such as about the weather or sports.

When you see a success, no matter how small, use this affirmation. Tell yourself 'I did it!' and reflect on how you are now a changed person, with no way back. When you have done something new, it cannot be undone.

Keep building evidence until the limiting belief seems daft and you are now comfortable in your new belief. Determination and persistence are critical in this. 

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