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Posts Tagged ‘Personal Development’

Finding Your Why

We have a new year coming at us, and it will be here shortly. Think of all the possibilities. Think of all the good things waiting for you. Think of all the things you’re going to accomplish over the next twelve months. I’m sure you have a list of resolutions already prepared.

All too often, we write out our resolutions for the coming year, and file them in the garbage can shortly after the First of January. Our intentions seem to start out enthusiastic, but wane quickly with all the other things we have on our plate. We can’t seem to get the ‘how’ of our resolutions knitted into our agenda.

Someone once gave me a few great words of wisdom on this very subject. Once you determine what it is you want, figure out why you want it, and the how will fall into place. It’s one of the orders of the Cosmos.

Here’s an exercise to help you find your why. Take the first item from your list of resolutions, and write it on a separate piece of paper. You should do this with all your goals, but we’ll just focus on one for this exercise. The next step is to ask yourself why you want that item to come into fruition. Write the reason down. Next, ask yourself why that reason is. Write it down. Next, ask yourself why the previous reason is. Write it down. Do this at least four or five levels deep. The object is to get right down to the core motivation for your desire. Why do you really, really want this, and, do you really want it at all?

If nothing else, you may be surprised at what you find out about your particular desire. I was. I conducted this exercise with an all time favorite resolution, ‘I want to make a lot of money.’

I wrote down on a piece of paper, ‘I want to make a lot of money.’ In the first place, I should have specified an amount, and also specified a deadline, but that’s all another lesson for another time.

Next, I asked myself, ‘Why do I want to make a lot of money?’ I answered, ‘Because, I want to be able to pay for stuff when I want it.’ I wrote that answer down.

Next, I asked myself, ‘Why would I want to be able to pay for stuff when I want it?’ My answer, ‘Because, I don’t like being without things when I want them.’ I wrote that answer down.

Next, I asked myself, ‘Why do I not like being without things when I need them?’ ‘Because, I’ve already been there, and I’ve already done that, and I don’t want to go through it ever again.’

Next, I asked myself, ‘Why would I not want to go through ‘it’ ever again?’ I answered, ‘Because I’ve been cold, and I’ve been hungry, and I’ve worn rags, at the same time having other mouths to feed, faces to warm, and bodies to clothe, a burden on my friends and family.’

I will be honest with you, this particular exercise did conger up several unhappy memories. However, this was a small price to pay to get at the core ‘why’ of my goal. My analysis tended to indicate to me that my motivation was not necessarily to become flamboyantly rich, but to make enough money to be independent and free from excessive discomfort.

The point is, my core ‘why’ does not necessarily match my goal. I honestly would love to be filthy rich. I’d love to be able to run out on a whim and buy a brand new bass boat fitted with all the bells and whistles. Knowing my core ‘why,’ I am able to guide, and tweak it in such a direction that someday I may be able to do just that. However, for now, such activity, even on a much smaller scale, would contradict my core ‘why.’

Determine what you want from life; explore the reasons why. Fine tune your list. Get what you really want. You are spectacular.


From the Tiny Acorn Grows

There is an old saying. You’ve probably heard it. ‘From a tiny acorn, the mighty oak tree grows.’ It is a truism, oak trees grow from acorns; ‘acorn’ being the name given to the oak tree seed. This old saying is used as an analogy to demonstrate growth, or growing into. It is most often applied in my culture to give heart to children feeling diminutive, and insignificant.

This is a good saying to encourage children to look forward, to hope, and to dream about what they may turn out to be. However, there is much more wisdom in this saying than is commonly gleaned. It demonstrates much more than the potential for growth and greatness.

The acorn already knows what it’s going to be. It doesn’t even think about it, it is genetically programmed to become an oak tree. The acorn is not distracted by the glories of becoming a fireman, nor an astronaut. An oak tree is what it will become, come Hell or high water.

The acorn is focused on becoming an oak tree. It is genetically programmed to be so. In every moment of every day its every action is taken to become an oak tree. It doesn’t care about the weather, nor the Stock Market, nor its neighbors opinion. It will become an oak tree.

The acorn gathers to it all the resources at its disposal, and applies them to becoming an oak tree. It is genetically programmed to do so. It doesn’t bother with what it doesn’t need, nor does it waste the resources it has. If an acorn doesn’t need a second blender, it doesn’t buy one, no matter how shiny it is, nor how much it’s on sale.

Humans are not like acorns. Humans have so many things from which to choose, from what to become, from what to own, from what to do. While it is impossible for the acorn to become distracted in any way from its end result, it is difficult for the Human not to.

Conversely, the acorn can only become an oak tree. It can not become an astronaut, nor a fireman, nor a butcher, nor a baker, nor a candle stick maker. It will never be able to calculate a trajectory to the Moon, nor Mars, nor the Crab Nebula. It will never be able to write a book on stamp collecting, nor playing marbles. It will never be able to look up in the night sky and wonder of what the stars are made, nor how much force it would take to throw a rock from the Earth to the edge of the Cosmos, nor even question whether there is an edge to the Cosmos or not.

What can humans become that an acorn can not! The choices are theoretically endless. However, we need to make those choices if we are to become our own oak tree. We need to be our own type of acorn. We need to take a dream we have, and say ‘This is the one.’ We need to turn that dream into a goal. We need to stay focused on that goal, no matter what anyone says, and no matter what else is going on around us. We should apply our resources toward that goal, and not be wasteful of them. We may admire other endeavors, but we should stay diligent toward our own.

We should also remember, the acorn does not turn into an oak tree over night. It takes around 30 years for an acorn to become an oak tree; and even then, it’s still considered to be in its youth. It takes time to become an oak tree, but not to worry. The oak trees growth is marked in stages. It’s an acorn, and then it’s a sprout. Then it becomes a sapling, then a little tree, then a bigger tree, then a bigger tree still, and then, a dominating, prolific, majestic oak tree.

Dream a dream. Turn that dream into a goal. Plan to reach that goal. Work on that goal, stay with it, do not become distracted. You are spectacular, and how much more than an oak tree?

Dream a Little Dream

A while back, the blower on my old van wore out. I’m one of those old guys that don’t like to spend money unless he has to. I just let it go, as I really didn’t need it replaced at the time. However, winter is coming on out here in Nebraska, where one will often go outside to find a quarter-inch of ice on their windshield during the winter months. There is a need to have hot air blowing on ones windshield out here during winter, and, subsequently, and operating blower.

I’m not going to put a new blower in a twenty-one year old van. There’s a junk yard out here in a little town called Utica which seems to have just about any spare part for any vehicle a person would drive. Utica is about 25 miles West, and another 10 miles or so North of where I sit. So, off I went to secure myself another blower for the van.

The most efficient way to get to Utica from where I live is to get up on the interstate, and exit at another little town called Gohner. Gohner has all of 192 people living in it. Nebraska tends to be pock-marked with micro townships all over the place. Anyhow, one needs to get off at Gohner, drive a few more miles North, then West again several miles till one makes it to Utica.

I hadn’t been out that way for three, or four years, so I was really enjoying the view. Where I live, the land sort of roles in long, lumbering hills that one often can’t even tell they’re going up unless they’re on a bicycle. Out there toward Gohner, and Utica, the land gets flat as a pancake, and one can see trees balancing all the way out on the edge of the horizon.

I’m driving along, taking in the landscape, when the Gohner exit comes up on me, and I need to get off the interstate, and get on a regular state road. Just off the interstate, on the outskirts of the little town of Gohner, someone had constructed a frontier village. The village wasn’t very accurate historically for the area, as the buildings were made of logs, and not sod. I’m guessing sod is pretty hard to come by these days, so logs must have had to suffice. Anyhow, there was a livery stable, a saloon, a general store, all set up for tourist to stop in and recreate, including what appeared to be a frontierish looking playground for the kids.

Sadly, the project must not have worked out for the projector. Leaning up against the fence lining the frontier village was a large piece of plywood. Painted neatly in large letters on that piece of plywood leaning up against that fence were the words, ‘A dream died here.’

Seeing this sign didn’t ruin the rest of my jaunt, but it did make me feel sorry for whatever entities put this project together. There is something I may never have the opportunity to tell them, but I am going to take this opportunity to tell you. Dreams don’t die, they get abandoned. They may run into all kinds of problems, and setbacks, and oppositions, but they do not die. They get abandoned along the side of the interstate like a dog your landlord tells you you’re not allowed to have in the apartment.

Dreams don’t die. They are composed of thought energy, and sort of bounce around the Cosmos like radio waves. Leonardo da Vinci dreamt of a flying machine, but it didn’t come into fruition till a couple of hundred years later … others along the way picked up on the dream, and did what they could with it. Thomas Edison dreamt of illuminating the night, and he picked at it till it happened.

The idea that dreams die is defeatist. If you have a dream you can’t get put together, someone else will pick it up, and run with it. Go get another dream, and see how far you can take it.

You’re spectacular, dynamic. Stay that way. Get a dream, and work it.

Wrestling the Muse

I took a writing course once. It wasn’t very expensive. It was a distance learning course, mostly conducted over the internet. One of the features of the course was periodic on-line chat sessions with the instructor. For all the course cost, the instructor had to have been dedicated to producing writers … she couldn’t have been earning much for her efforts.

During one of the chat sessions, the subject of writers block was breached.

“I keep getting writers block.” one of the students chatted, “What can I do about it.”

“When you get writers block,” the instructor advised, “sit down and start writing.”

That didn’t make a lot of sense. How can one write something when they’re writers blocked?

“Ya, but,” the student continued, “shouldn’t I go traipsing through the daisies, or something like that?”

“You can do that.” the instructor responded. “You do need to harvest experiences, relax, and find inspiration. However, when it’s time to write, put your fingers on the keyboard, and start writing.”

The young Bill Stewart was the line coach for my High School football team some 30 odd years ago. One hot, humid late August day we were out there in a pre season practice on the field along the banks of the beautiful Ohio River. We weren’t having a good practice, very apparently. At the end of the practice, Coach Stewart had the linemen form up in a school circle, and he gave us a pep talk.

“When you don’t feel like practicing,” Coach Stewart advised animatedly, “that’s when you need it most!”

If you’re going to write, you need to write, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to paint, you need to paint, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to play football, you need to play football, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to study, you need to study, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’re going to chop wood, you need to chop wood, even if you don’t feel like it. Get in there, and do it anyhow.

Practice makes perfect, and sometimes you have to wrestle the muse. If you don’t, she might just wander off, forgetting about you and your dreams, and aspirations entirely.

Till next time, stay in there. Keep at it. Whatever it is you do, I need you doing it.

Goals

A year or so ago I read a book. It was a book on goal setting. Most of the books I’ve read on the subject, and the lectures I’ve attended, and the people I’ve talked to give up the nuts and bolts … go get a piece of paper, write down your goals, and tick them off as you accomplish them. Some even go so far as to say to fold up that piece of paper, put it in your pocket, carry it around with you, and refer to it often. Sage advice, but not very comprehensive.

This book, written by Brian Tracy, is comprehensive. This book digs deep into the whos, and whats, and whys, and hows of setting goals. The book is called, simply, Goals!, and is very good reading. Following are my chapter notes for the book, and I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Unlock Your Potential – Remember that your true potential is unlimited. Whatever you have accomplished in life up to now has only been a preparation for the amazing things you can accomplish in the future.

2. Take Charge of Your Life – You are completely responsible for everything you are today, for everything you think, say and do, and for everything you become from this moment forward. Refuse to make excuses or to blame others.

3. Create Your Own Future – Believe that you have no limitations on what you can do, be or have in the months and years ahead. Think about and plan your future as if you had all the resources you needed to create any life that you desire.

4. Clarify Your Values – Your innermost values and convictions define you as a person. Take the time to think through what you really believe in and care about in each area of your life. Refuse to deviate from what you feel is right for you.

 5. Determine Your True Goals – Decide for yourself what you really want to accomplish in every area of your life. Clarity is essential for happiness and high performance living.

6. Decide Upon Your Major Definite Purpose – You need a central purpose around which to build your life. There must be a single goal that will help you to achieve your other goals more than any other. Decide what it is for you and work on it all the time.

7. Analyze Your Beliefs – Your beliefs about your own abilities, and about the World around you, will have more of an impact on your feelings and actions than any other factor. Make sure that your beliefs are positive and consistent with achieving everything that is possible for you.

8. Start At The Beginning – Do a careful analysis of your starting point before you set off toward the achievement of your goal. Determine your exact situation today and be both honest and realistic about what you want to accomplish in the future.

9. Measure Your Progress – Set clear benchmarks, measures, metrics and scorecards for yourself on the road to your goals. These measures help you to assess how well you are doing and enable you to make necessary adjustments and corrections as you go along.

 10. Eliminate The Roadblocks – Success boils down to the ability to solve problems and remove obstacles on the path to your goal. Fortunately, problem solving is a skill you can master with practice, and thereby achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible.

11. Become An Expert In Your Field – You have within you, right now, the ability to be one of the very best at what you do, to join the top 10% in your field. Set this as a goal, work on it every day, and never stop working at it until you get there.

12. Get Around The Right People – Your choices of people with whom to live, work and socialize will have more of an effect on your success than any other factor. Resolve today to associate only with people you like, respect and admire. Fly with the eagles if you want to be an eagle yourself.

13. Make a Plan Of Action – An ordinary person with a well thought-out plan will run circles around a genius without one. Your ability to plan and organize in advance will enable you to accomplish even the biggest and most complex goals.

14. Manage Your Time Well – Learn how to double and triple your productivity, performance and output by practicing practical and proven time management principles. Always set priorities before you begin, and then concentrate on the most valuable use of your time.

15. Review Your Goals Regularly – Take time every day, every week, every month to review and reevaluate your goals and objectives. Make sure that you are still on track and that you are still working toward things that are important to you. Be prepared to modify your goals and plans with new information.

16. Visualize Your Goals Continually – Direct the movies of your mind. Your imagination is your preview of your life’s coming attractions. Repeatedly “see” your goals as if they already existed. Your clear, exciting mental images activate all your mental powers and attract your goals into your life.

17. Activate Your Superconscious Mind – You have within you and around you an incredible power that will bring you everything and anything you want or need. Take the time regularly to tap into this amazing source of ideas and insights for goal attainment.

 18. Remain Flexible At All Times – Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it. Be constantly open to new, better, faster, cheaper ways to achieve the same result, and if something is not working, be willing to try a different approach.

19. Unlock Your Inborn Creativity – You have more creative ability to solve problems and come up with new and better ways for goal attainment than you have ever used. You are a potential genius. You can tap into your intelligence to overcome any obstacle and achieve any goal you can set for yourself.

20. Do Something Every Day – Use the “Momentum Principle of Success” by getting started toward your goal and then doing something every day that moves you closer to what you want to accomplish. Action orientation is essential to your success.

21. Persist Until You Succeed – In the final analysis, your ability to persist longer than anyone else is the one quality that will guarantee great success in life. Persistence is self-discipline in action, and is the true measure of your belief in yourself. Resolve in advance that you will never, never give up!

It is astonishing that most of us tend to plan trips to the grocery store more thoroughly than we plan our lives. Reverse that practice, and start living to your fullest Human potential. Remember, you are among the most spectacularly dynamic combinations of Time, Space, Matter, Energy, and Consciousness ever to grace the Cosmos. Be that way.

Resolutions

We’re coming up on the New Year fast and furious right about now.  This is a time people project their thoughts and aspirations into the coming year.  New Years resolutions have been a fad for so long they are now a tradition.  Sadly, failed New Years resolutions are epidemic, to the point of being a cliché.

People promise themselves that they will quit smoking, or lose weight, or read through the Bible, or keep their checkbook balanced, or learn to tap dance.  By January 3rd we are still feverishly perusing our resolution.  By the second week of January we have been making excuses not to be so diligent for several days.  By the first week of February, the resolution is usually forgotten till the end of December, when the resolution is reaffirmed.

Why?  Mind you, I am not pointing fingers; I am as guilty of dropping resolutions as anyone else … which makes me doubly guilty because I have an understanding of the dynamics of thought and action underlying the process of personal change.  Why do people make New Years resolutions, then frustraitedly find themselves making the same resolution at the end of the next year as well?

The first thing we have to understand is that we didn’t just fall off the turnip truck fully the person we now are.  During you age you have spent each and every one of your moments sculpting yourself.  However old you are is how many years you’ve spent developing yourself, your psyche, your habits, your physique, your relationships.  Under these conditions, change takes more than wishful thinking.

Jeff Olson tells us that little things, done consistently over time, lead us to our failures as well as our successes.  Furthermore, seed a thought, grow an action, reap a habit; seed an action, grow a habit, reap a lifestyle; seed a habit, grow a lifestyle, reap a legacy.

Get a piece of paper and write five paragraphs.  In the first paragraph, write what it is you want to do, and why.  Be brief, you’re going to carry this piece of paper around with you.  In the second paragraph, describe the end result you want to bring about … this is the pie in the sky paragraph.  In the third paragraph, write what obstacles you may encounter, and possible ways to work around them.  In the fourth paragraph, describe the actions you intend to take in order to bring about the end result you desire.  In the fifth paragraph, outline who is responsible for what, when, where, why, and how.

Fold this piece of paper neatly, and put it in your pocket.  Take it out of your pocket and read it at least once a day, preferably more.  Then, rethink, revise, and rewrite.

Till next time, remember, you can do anything you want to do.  However, it helps a lot if you have a plan.  It helps even more if you have that plan written, and refered to often.

Thank you for reading.  You’re spectacular.

Rosebud

It’s the early morning of November 25th, Thanksgiving here in the United States.  It’s briskly cold outside of the shack I call home.  A little space heater is sitting next to me, keeping me company as I sit at my desk and write.  A disorganization of books, pads of paper and notebooks, CDs, and pen cups balance themselves precariously in the environs of my desk.  An array of coats, jackets, sweaters, and hats hanging from pegs clutter the inside side of my front door.  I’m nursing a pot of coffee, now cold, from my favorite Mason jar, stained brown from constant use.  A small terra cotta Meditating Buddha is holding a burning cone of sweet smelling incense pulled from a hand carved soap stone box sitting next to it.  A vagrant bottle of hot sauce that should be put away.  A smart phone blinking quietly.   A lapel pin crucifix.  A pair of reading classes in their case.  A lint brush.  A tape measure.  A spare bus fuse.  A folding pair of pliers with a knife blade, screw driver blades, can opener, and itty – bitty little wood saw.

Simple things.  I am grateful for these simple things.  These are but a small sample of those things for which I am grateful, great and small.  Yet, the simpler things dearest to us are sometimes overshadowed.

I saw a movie once.  A man had amassed a vast fortune and imperial power.  He had everything any person could possibly want, all at his beck and call.  Yet, in his dying moments, he lamented.  From all of his possessions, and from all the people at his command he yearned for a small toy sled which had brought him much pleasure as a child.  The sled was lost amongst all his other stuff.

Be grateful for what you have, and never lose sight of what gives your life meaning and purpose, because you are spectacular.