It’s the thought that counts

I’ve come to a point in my life where often-times things are humming along smoothly in just about all aspects of my life. We all wear many hats, as parents, spouses, kids, siblings, bosses, employees, co-workers, customers, vendors, friends… humans…

In each of these aspects there are a range of things which happen, a range of life which transpires and completes the “picture” of our life as we perceive it. These aspects include our mental and physical health, financial health, self-care and ability to relate and create in the world around us.

For some people this matrix of life is a myriad of issues and problems stacked upon each other. For others these pieces of the puzzle come together naturally. I’ve worked for several years to align these aspects of my life. Some have been good for as long as I can remember, others I’ve had to (and continue to) work diligently every day to create a flow.

One thing I have learned, is when something is out of alignment it sticks out like a sore thumb. An easy way to bring it into place is to intentionally focus on a given item. Recently my family has gone to a single income as we take a step back to move a few steps forward.

Removing a full-time income as summer comes up and summer camp kicks in, while we’re experiencing record high gas prices and inflation, is a scary endeavor. There are a lot of reasons I can find why we should do this now, why it’s safer to hold off until the world stabilizes.

The truth is, the world is always changing, and will always be influx. What we believe, will be reality. Initially I wanted to find all the reasons why we need a second income (if you’ve ever paid for summer camp for kids, it’s like having a second mortgage!).

Instead of staying in this fear based thinking, I changed my thought on the concept. I removed the emotion from the process and went through the bills, the budget and realized there are a lot of things I can easily adjust and make this work. As a family we can adapt to a fiscally tighter space for a time, and honestly really not notice what we’re “missing”.

This is but one simplified example and the over-arching concept is powerful. Whenever and where-ever you experience lack and/or fear in life, it is an opportunity to re-evaluate the situation and change the narrative you are telling yourself.

Write down the area(s) you are struggling with and ask yourself why this is a struggle. Think about how you can change the story in your mind, what would a better outcome look like? If you need more money, what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve it? If you need more love, how much love are you willing to give?

When we change our thoughts, we change our actions. When we change our actions we change our habits. Be the change you wish to see, act it out everyday. It all starts with what you are thinking in this moment. Like it or not, the state of our lives is a direct reflection on the state of our thoughts.

Be the awesome in your own story!

Love is always in the air…

In the fourth installment and fourth tool you can use to upgrade your thoughts, I offer the most powerful one yet.

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s what I choose to focus on, but have you noticed how the “love” word is thrown around these days like unnecessary loose change? It’s easy to “love” things these days, from the hearts we tap on social media to telling your kids you love them, and everything in between.

“Love” can certainly be cliche’ these days, an overused term which has lost much of it’s true meaning to many people. The Love I speak about isn’t a heart on social media or a quick “love you!, smooches!!” to your gym acquaintance.

The Love I speak about creates a warming, calming, powerful feeling in the center of your chest. It’s a feeling I can conjure on demand at this stage in my life, when I center myself and focus on my connection to God, Source, universal entanglement.

The Love I speak of is a deeply spiritual energy which permeates my being and releases itself to my surroundings as quickly as I absorb it in. Creating this feeling takes time, practice, patience and more patience with practice…. Learning to truly be grateful for gifts currently in your life, and FEELING the blessing of these gifts.

If you’ve felt it, you know what I’m talking about, even if it was only once for a fleeting moment. If you’ve never felt this, you may well think I’m nuts, or making it up. I spent most of my adult life not feeling this, and only in the most powerful moments of life did I experience a sensation close to it.

The feeling I had when I was first married, when each of my daughters was held in my arms for the first time, in those rare instances when I catch the eye of my wife in just the right light, with the right energy. I spent most of my life voided of this feeling of Love and only in those rare instances did I feel this “strange” emotion I briefly described earlier.

Yet, Love and it’s power is within you and available to be unleashed should you choose. This may be the most powerful tool at our disposal. Once we learn to Love, and sit in the feeling of Love can we begin to fully engage in being in the moment, living in the now.

Taken a step further, learning to Love during every part of our day is where the rubber meets the road. From getting up in the morning, to doing laundry, creating reports at the office, sitting in traffic on the way to the office. Love is found when taking out the garbage, washing the car and even during an argument with you spouse, child or co-worker.

My youngest daughter has the assignment of vacuuming the house. The other day I asked her to vacuum and she griped she had just vacuumed two days ago!! Why does she have to do it again? It’s such a chore! I smiled at her and asked if she preferred to live in a place which didn’t have a floor which needed vacuuming.

Perhaps dirt floor hovel would be easier to care for. Perhaps we wouldn’t need to do the laundry if we had no clothes. If we didn’t have food to eat, we wouldn’t ever have to worry about cleaning the kitchen or emptying the dishwasher!

“Fine. Now your just guilt-tripping me!” declared my nine year old daughter as she went to grab the high powered, cordless vacuum. If only she had to use a vacuum with a cord… the horror!

The bottom line is this. Love is in our life, right now in this moment. I don’t care what’s happening this moment, how down you feel or how the world has been cruel. Love is in your life, in this very moment. Choosing to focus on the blessings, the daily miracles we experience yet often never realize.

I challenge you to find love in everything you do for a week straight. If you can’t find something to love about it, perhaps that aspect of your life should be changed or removed.

It’s not you, it’s me.

The third edition or tool in this blog series is understanding nearly all our interactions are not personal, meaning it’s not about US, it’s usually about the other person.

This practice can help you reframe context in the moment and shift your perspective instantly. Practicing this can elevate your communication skills at home, work and your social life.

There are a few things to consider as a baseline for this tool. Firstly, if you look at a road map it can give you a good idea of where you are, or where you want to go from a routing standpoint, which streets to take and direction to go. A map though will not tell you where the pot-holes are, or stop signs, or “no left turn”, or “one-way” roads.

A map will give you guidance, but the terrain is a much different animal. Our perspectives on life are very much the same. Many of us have heard the axiom “perception is reality”. This is true as far as the individual who is doing the perceiving.

When we are communicating with others, our thoughts and perceptions are very different from theirs, even with friends and loved ones. We may see eye to eye on most things, but you’ll notice a few areas where you an even your closest relation have differing opinions.

Understanding people have very different perceptions than our own, and that “perception is reality”, we can see how a simple mis-understanding, or saying something a certain way can trigger us or the other party.

When we trigger somebody in this way, it has nothing to do with us and is a chance for us to learn a touch point, and gain further insight into the reaction. More on this on another day.

If we are triggered by something, then we have an opportunity to learn a touch point about ourselves, and we get to work on healing it. We get to see where we can grow mentally in these areas as they are highlighted to us.

Another baseline concept is that people are always making the best choices available to them, at that moment. People want to be good, and often they do what is perceived to be the best thing for them even when it’s at the expense of someone/something else.

Ever wonder why that co-worker threw you under the bus with the boss? It wasn’t about you, it was about them advancing their own agenda.

Lastly, the mirror effect is a well known concept which can be a tough one to accept for many. Essentially, what we see in this world is a mirror of what we are giving, putting out into the world. Imagine if all you see is sickness, misery and a world falling apart? That’s a hard pill to swallow and accept it’s not the world who’s crumbling, but you.

The mirror effect though is a real thing. This isn’t to say it’s fair, nice, considerate or compassionate to your circumstances. It can be magical, it can also be brutal. The good news is we have a choice in the matter.

What we experience from other people is a mirror of what we are displaying. It’s never about how we’re being treated as much as it is how we are treating others. It’s not personal FROM others to us, though it is entirely personal from us TO others. This brings us back to perspective. A nice clean circle.

When we are being treated, or experiencing things we don’t like we have to look inward to ourselves first.

The world we live in, the perspective we have, the live we create is entirely up to us and only us to adapt as we choose. When we allow ourselves to be persecuted, attacked, and get down on ourselves and our surroundings we will simply have more of this.

When we realize the world is doing what the world does, and people are doing what people do, and it will all happen whether we are here to experience it or not.

If you’ve ever missed an event you were invited to, a birthday, a recital, a wedding, a baseball game, you name it. The even still happened even if you didn’t show up. That is the world we live in. It’s not personal unless we take it personally, which all to often many of us do.

Creating power in your life means taking ownership of everything you experience. If you don’t like it, find a way to change it. It’s not easy, but it is simple by design.

When you start to use these tools together inside of your daily life you will begin to see shifts in how things transpire. It doesn’t happen overnight, and this is a practice which will take time to learn, hone and improve upon.

Choosing to shift our thoughts is one thing. Consistently practicing over the long term to create lasting change in us, and therefore around us is another thing. The good news is the choices are ours, and when we regress we can always shift back on track again.

Stay tuned for part 4 of this series of tools to upgrade your thoughts.

Finding the good all around us.

As the old saying goes, life is often stranger than fiction. Most of us can relate to this through our experience, and these last few years have hammered this principle home!

There is a silver lining in all of it, where we experience bad, there is also good.

I firmly believe everything comes with a lesson, and if we can find it within us to learn the lesson, nothing is wasted. I will be the first to tell you, there are times where you simply won’t see or understand what good (or lesson) can possibly come from a situation.

I can also tell you in my experience, sometimes learning to deal with the pain of an event is the lesson. When we can resolve ourselves to stand in the harshest of times, we will be prepared for the next evolution in our life.

If you think of love and fear for a moment, I’ll provide an example of finding the good, the lesson in everything. Love and fear are two opposites of the same emotion. In fact, ALL of our emotions, the entire spectrum of what we feel stems from either love, or fear.

Pictures this, If this emotional spectrum was a line, a dot on the left side is fear, a line connects to another dot on the right which is love. Exactly where does love end and fear begin? At the halfway point you say? Now measure it, what emotion specifically is the zero point between the two?

On paper you can pinpoint a dot. In reality there isn’t a single emotion which separates the two, just a grey area which bleeds into each other. We all have a different opinion on this, a different emotional spectrum by which we judge it.

It’s the same thing with cold and hot, large and small, fresh and stale. All open for interpretation as to where cold becomes hot, large to small, fresh to stale.

Both sides of the spectrum must be present and accounted for in order for it to BE.

Now apply this concept back to life. If a thing happens and we perceive it to be bad, then by nature there has to be an opposite effect. We can’t have love without fear, or hot without cold. What I perceive to be bad is a blessing to another.

Using this simple tool in my everyday life I can shift my perspective on anything which happens around me. I can take the “bad” thing and try to understand the opposite of it, which is equally real.

When I can see the opposite, I can often learn the lesson and grow from the experience. When this happens, it’s no longer a “bad” thing but a blessing and needed event to teach me a lesson about something.

When I learn, I appreciate and stay in a focused and grateful state of mind. There is always good in the world, no matter how dark it may seem. While we don’t always have the ability to see the good in the moment, knowing it is there helps to light the way.

This is an important step in growing mentally and spiritually. The more we can practice this the more we see how this world works FOR us, instead of against us. No hustle and grind required.

A practice in presence

A simple and highly effective way to upgrade your thoughts, part 2.

Following up on my last blog post, this is the first of four follow up posts diving just a bit deeper into a few concepts. These four protocols as I have come to know them are simple, proven concepts and when applied individually yield great results. Though when used in concert with each other, consistently the results can be truly powerful.

I’m going to focus today on being present in each moment. We’ve all heard this before, and the idea of being present in the moment has been a topic as far back into history as we can find. It’s for good reason too. The best things always stand the test of time. The best things are often also simple in concept and powerful in result, yet not always easy in practice.

I’m going to focus on the practice part today instead of the value behind being present, you’re probably aware already of the benefits of being present. However, to give a similar example between of the difference between knowledge and practice, just because you understand how an airplane flies, doesn’t mean you can actually fly one.

Why is it so hard to be present, and in the moment? For one our society basically programs us to be anything and everything BUT present. We’re taught to worry about the future and plan for what’s to come. Think about the concept of retirement, work your whole life so you can spend a few quality years of “enjoyment” at the tail end of life. The entire idea is rooted in future tense.

Advertisements bombard us from billboards, to online ads, print, TV commercials etc. of things we need to have to be happy. Social media is a another platform(s) which by it’s nature creates a thought pattern of comparing ourselves to others, of wanting to have what the “influencers” have, be it a rockin’ body, a custom car, or the latest fashion or the new vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soyless, what-cha-ma-call-it-but-its-not-meat-substitute!

All of this and we still haven’t walked out the door and interacted with people yet!

Our brains are moving a billion miles an hour, slowing them down, even for a short time takes patience and practice. Even when we do slow them down we tend to still think about all the things we should be doing, want to do, forgot to do, etc…

Now I ask you to notice the thought(s) you are having right this moment.

Stop reading and notice if you are only reading this, or if you are reading this while thinking of something else. Notice what is going through your mind in this moment, without judgment of good, bad, simply notice it and be ok with whatever it is.

I am going to challenge you to practice something for one day. Once you do this for one day I ask you do it for two, then three, then four, all the way to ten days, one day at a time.

Pick a thing you do each day, for instance driving to/from work. Pick something where you have a defined period of time allocated each day, and take a five minute chunk of that time and dedicate it to noticing what is going on around you, and nothing else.

When you first try this, and realize in less than a full minute your mind has already moved on to something else, notice you are thinking of something else and bring yourself back to what you area doing at that moment. DO NOT JUDGE yourself or be harsh, simply notice the mind wandering and come back to what you are doing. Peacefully and calmly.

Even when your mind wanders 30 times in a 5 minute span, simply notice it and come back. Judging yourself for a wandering is counter-productive. If you do reactionarily judge yourself, notice this too, notice the act of judging yourself. Notice it for what it is, a reactionary emotion which is neither good nor bad in this moment.

I like to do this while driving because I can turn off the radio and it also helps me release my judgement of how others drive, which gives me a much calmer and more peaceful trip to the office and back. The idea though is to pick a segment of time, the same time (roughly) and activity everyday to practice noticing your thoughts.

This will help build consistency and a habit of doing this while you do the activity everyday. This won’t be as easy as it sounds, and even if you think you “failed” at it don’t give up, it’s all the more reason to keep trying. Practicing a thing means you will get it wrong, alot, before you start to get it right.

Notice, without judgement your thoughts. While you are practicing being “in the moment” focus on the smells you are smelling, what you are feeling physically (like the material of the seat, steering wheel, clothing) and what you are feeling emotionally.

Are you happy, sad, frustrated, joyous, something else altogether? Notice the scenery around you and the details of it. If you’re driving you can notice the other cars around you, how is the traffic flowing together, or is it stop and go? What kind of cars are travelling with you?

If you’ve taken note of all these things and then simply sit with the feeling you are having, the emotion you are experiencing. Feel it, breathe it, welcome it.

The simple act of noticing our immediate environment is the best way to begin the process of presence. Soon, you will find yourself in a conversation with something totally engaged with this person or persons and thinking of nothing but the person in front of you.

This is easy with an “important” person. It’s more difficult when you find yourself interrupted unexpectedly by someone who you want to blow off, but now you notice your desire to blow them off, and instead of reacting on this desire, you engage with them wholly.

This is where the miracles of life happen, in the most unexpected places, and they happen often when we are paying attention.

I’d like to hear from you on how your practice is going, I invite you to send me a note directly at roger@powerfullifeinc.com to tell me about your experience with this.

Stay tuned for the next installment, which will focus on finding the good in any event.

A simple, highly effective way to upgrade your thoughts

Finding happiness in life is a state of being, a state of mind in which we live each moment of our lives. Happiness can be an emotion felt in a certain moment, we’ve all had those moments when we feel happy, joyous, excited, elated… A life lived in happiness is a much broader concept.

Many of us are “happy” with our lives. Perhaps not every single area, but altogether we feel things are pretty good. As we all experience life in it’s various forms, our career and home life are two very different areas generally. You may be very happy in your relationships with your family and friends, yet not so happy with your current work environment. Perhaps you love your job but your finances aren’t where you’d like them to be.

Our mental and physical health are two more areas to consider, as well as our hobbies and activities, parenting, learning, teaching, we humans have a lot going on. Experiencing happiness in all of these areas at once is a challenge few of us accomplish.

For those area(s) of life which do need some work, I’ve found a few key concepts which have helped me. These are four protocols which you’ve heard before in some shape or form, yet when used together, and repeatedly they are very powerful tools for change.

I’m going to overview these here and expand upon them in later posts.

Be present in each moment

Look for the good

It’s not personal

With love in my heart

Being present in each moment is certainly not a new concept. Practicing it however is something altogether foreign for many.

Most media we consume on a daily basis, whether online, radio, print or TV is filled with messaging about things we need to have in our lives, things we are missing out on by not having it.

New cars, the latest prescription meds for the hot topic illness, pain medication for body aches and soreness, and of course the sugar-filled drinks and snacks which will bring you joy. Many movies and shows have the same underlying messaging, this is not limited to commercials.

All of these things pull us from what we are presently experiencing and put us in a state of mind of desire, which is a state of “lack” in the mind. We are only present if we are seeing the programming for what it is, and simply experiencing the act of witnessing a thing, like a wind blowing the leaves of a tree.

As we know, we can’t change the past, the future isn’t here yet, so now is what matters. What we do in this moment will guide what happens in the next. We can sit or soar, the choice is ours and it is now time to choose.

Looking for the good in each moment is another concept we’re very familiar with, yet difficult to apply and practice. We are responsible for what is happening in our lives, and that is a good thing. Even if some very bad things have happened, and those things weren’t your fault, (being abused as a child for instance) we are still responsible for what is happening now.

We cannot control everything which happens in our life, yet we are none the less responsible for how we respond. Being present in each moment, and taking responsibility for everything in our circumstance creates a powerful duo for positive change.

It’s not personal is one of my favorite to practice. Most things in this life happen and it would happen if we are here or not. Like your boss pressuring you on that deadline, the person who pulled out in front of you in traffic, or the cashier at the store who didn’t even acknowledge you.

You just happened to be there, yet it actually has nothing at all to do with you. Most times when we are in an argument with a spouse or co-worker and we’re confused as to why they’re so upset. It’s because they’re reacting from something else and venting it through us. We just happen to be there.

Live with love in my heart. This is another favorite I use as I drive to work, vacuum around the house, fold clothes and in the midst of a meeting with a customer where I’m loving the creativity we’re exuding together.

Ever have the “what about me!” feeling when you’re the doing “all” the chores around the house and not getting any help? How about when you do all the work on that big project and at the last minute the rest of the team wants to jump in and take credit and share the glory of your work?

When we do things with love in our hearts, when we start with love the rest falls away. This took me a long time to come around to, and it’s worth however long it takes you.

I’m grateful to have a home which needs to be cleaned, clothes to be washed, customers to visit with, employees to manage. I’m even grateful for the bills I get to pay, and I pay them with a sense of love in my heart.

These four simple protocols enacted together and consistently will change your life one moment at a time. Of this I’m certain because I’ve already put them to use several years ago through much trial and error.

Choose an area of your life you’d like to upgrade and try focusing these four protocols into this area of life. Pay closer attention, release your expectations of others, be responsible for what you perceive as the good and the bad, and act in love in all that you do, especially when it’s the last thing you want to do.

Stay tuned as I go deeper on all these areas in the coming posts, and comment on your experience as you apply these into areas of your life.

What’s Your Purpose

While tucking my daughter in to bed the other night she asked me a question. “What if you found a genie lamp, and when the genie came out he only gave you one wish instead of three? With only one wish, what would you wish for?”

In the blink of an eye a thousand possibilities streamed through my mind and only one was clear and easy to choose. “I would wish that I am living my purpose on this earth.”

“That’s it?” says my little girl. “What else do I need?” I respond.

“Hm, that does make a lot of sense” she responds while I can see her pondering the scenario.

Thankfully I’ve done a lot of internal work over the last several years so I don’t have to wish to be on my path, I know inherently I already am. This quick yet powerful interaction between my daughter and I was yet another reminder of the simplistic nature of the world we live in.

The truest answers are almost always the simplest.

I could have wished for more money, a bigger house, to be forever healthy, to travel the world… and while all of these are valid responses and all serve good purposes, they all leave other areas in life lacking.

None covers all the bases.

Yet if we find and actively pursue the purpose for why we are here, all of those other areas in life fill themselves in effortlessly.

Our purpose may or may not have anything to do with what we THINK we want to do. The discovery process for many, myself included can take years of persistent trial and error. For those willing to put in the time and learn to embrace the process, the reward is far better than can be imagined at the start.

It is a journey free of a specific destination and full of surprises, risks, accomplishments to be enjoyed along the way.

If you haven’t found your path yet, or are trying to force a path you think is right, take a step back and evaluate what feels forced and what flows naturally. Lean into the natural flow and release those things which create friction.

Learning is all about perspective, and each “failure” or “hardship” is only a course correction and a grateful heart will notice this and quickly adapt a change on the path.

Carry your flag.

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone where you are truly confused as to how they can hold the position they do? No amount of trying to convince them to change their mind has even budged them, AND their side of the argument is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

Most of us can easily conjure up a few quick examples of this, be it from our relationships, talk of politics and/or religion with friends and family, perhaps in discussions with co-workers about how to move the company forward. If you can’t think of anything, flip on some sports talk radio after the local football team looses, or find a local political talk show and you’ll quickly be brought up to speed.

Perhaps it’s something closer to home, maybe your a parent trying to get your kids to stay on track in the midst of the chaos of a teenagers world. Perhaps its’ trying to get your significant other to see the benefits of changing some habits to create a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps we’re trying to help a friend see the relationship they’re in is toxic, yet their blind to the concept. It can be hugely frustrating to watch someone we love and care about do (or not do) things which are ultimately hurting themselves. Often times this makes us try even harder to get our message across, even to try and force our perception onto them so they can finally see the light!

Perhaps though it’s us who need to see the light in instances such as this. I’ve come to realize people need to come to their own conclusions, in their own time if they are truly to learn the lessons. Perhaps the best we can do as we care for those we see heading down an unhealthy path is to give them space to experience what they must. (To be clear I’m not talking about a physically abusive or life threatening scenario, these obviously need to be handled with a more direct urgency.)

I am talking about guiding our children to create their own path in this world. I am referring to relationships where we feel we can help a spouse or friend to begin exercising or eating healthier. I am speaking about someone who needs to realize on their own they are far better than the current relationship is treating them. I am speaking about creating a long term sustainable change for the wellbeing of those we care about.

If you’ve ever noticed, life is lived in patterns and tends to repeat itself until we learn the lesson in the pattern. Many people find themselves in and out of relationships, yet when evaluating the relationships they realize they’ve all been the same, simply the other person changed and the scenarios are all too similar. The same goes for jobs, financial health, mental and physical health. Perhaps you’ve been working towards financial freedom for years and feel like you’ve made progress, you have a better job, a nicer home, a new car. Things are good! Yet you still don’t have any money in the bank, you still can’t afford to up and quit your job… Things really haven’t changed, only the scenery.

These patterns are in all of our lives and in all kinds of ways. Try as we might many of us will never even realize these patterns exist. These souls are the ones who end up beat down in the long run, who’s luck “ran out” on them. Our education system sure isn’t going to teach us about these things, neither is any of the mainstream educational outlets. People who notice these patterns, and find them in their own lives are the ones who actively sought the cause of what was holding them back in a certain area or areas of life.

When we try and provide our perspectives to others we are giving them the benefit of our experience. This is a great tool when we share this in a way which allows for the listener to make their own choice to utilize our experience for themselves, or not. When we try and force our opinion or perspective onto someone, we are much more likely to drive them away from us and towards the very thing we are trying to save them from.

“if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t it was never yours in the first place.”

When we give somebody the space to make their own choice, (especially when we think it’s wrong) we give them the opportunity to learn a life lesson and shatter the pattern, thereby giving the ability to fully move past it. This is a tough concept to accept, and even harder to apply in the moment it matters most. It is also a powerful one which can benefit all when done right.

In my last blog post I talked about acceptance of self, and therefore the world around us. Letting go of what we think others “should do” is a continuation of that thought.

In the past I used to joke how I liked to “learn lessons the hard way” which was by going through the painful experience or process on my own, even when so many people around me told me exactly what was going to happen. More often than not they were right and ultimately I would give them the old “I should have listened to you” line. A few times though, things turned out so much better because I went through it and found a new way to accomplish what I wanted, when no one (even myself sometimes) saw the path.

These times which went my way where always meant to go that way, yet there is no way to know on the front end. These are all lessons I would have had to repeat over and over again in some way until I succeeded. For all the good intentions of others, had I listened I wouldn’t have walked my path, but theirs. In each case creating a repeatable pattern in my own life.

When we truly love somebody we desire only the highest and best for them. Yet we know not what that actually is. As a father, husband, brother, son, business owner and so much else this used to be a very painful approach for me. The more I practice it and understand it though, the more I know my fear of what might happen is nothing compared to the growth and long term development of everyone involved. All will be exactly as it should, and I accept that.

I choose to carry my own flag, as I support others to carry their own.

Leader on Duty

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have noticed when most people talk of leadership it’s almost always referred to in the environment of a board room, the workplace or sports.

I say this with due humility, as I am a natural leader and have been in management/leadership roles professionally since I was about 19 years old. Now in my early 40’s I have more experience managing people than most people well over my age and based all of the feedback I receive I am a good leader. Feedback to me comes in the moral of my team, the results we deliver to the customers, the observations of customers, vendors and people in and around my company.

Leadership in my experience isn’t just something you do at the office. It’s not a role to play while in front of your employees and customers. Leadership to me is a lifestyle lived in each moment and applies as much to parenting and gardening as it does in our professional lives.

Gardening? I imagine you’re trying to connect the dots on this. Parenting is an easy connection though often not obvious, but gardening? Yes, in the sense of an example. As leaders, when we do a thing like gardening we tend to do it well, with intention of a quality outcome. It may or may not actually turn out well, but the effort and intention is on display as we do the thing we have set to do. This can be exercise, painting, washing the car, cooking, anything we choose to do, great leaders apply themselves to the experience.

This intent-full approach resonates to those around us often in a sub-conscious way. As leaders we don’t turn off this switch when we go home at the end of the day. We are wired to do things the best way possible, and to help others grow in a similar way.

We get to be the example we want to show to others. For me leadership flows effortlessly from the workplace to the home, to fitness and nutrition. Balancing the areas of our lives in a successful way provides the example for others to follow, and is what a new generation of leaders are doing more and more.

I for one treat my employees and my kids with the same level of appreciation and respect, and I expect from them much of the same things. While I certainly don’t believe employees are children or child-like, or that my kids are employees and have measurable expectations for performance, I do believe in treating people with one foundational starting point. I treat everyone as I would want to be treated. This simple and powerful starting point for my interactions in all aspects of my life allows for all my relationships and interactions to draw a clean and consistent pattern through them all.

My job as a father is to mentor and cultivate by kids own unique natural talents. I get to tend the garden of their little worlds, while they grow and eventually flourish in their own light. When we think of leadership in the workplace and employee development, is it really different? In scope certainly, but the concepts are the same thing. No two kids are the same, as no to employees are the same and each must be uniquely tended to.

The world is changing as it always has and will. This means everything gets to shift into focus anew. As we shift gears to the ever-changing world we can update a few definitions. Two stand out for me at the moment, which are the definitions of “Success” and “Leadership“. Leadership is no longer simply a professional capacity and success doesn’t have much to do with a bank account these days.

My definition of leadership is this: A leader is being the example of success in relationships, business, lifestyle, and mental and physical health.  Leadership is the state of being the result of how to balance all of these things with sustainable, healthy results for all persons directly involved with and around the leader.

My definition of success is this: A consistent state of being in harmony with oneself and the world we experience, while we experience it in real time.

To me being successful in leadership and in life is when you can remain calm and collected in the best of times, and the worst. Being the rock everyone else can cling to when the world (or the business, or the relationship, etc…) goes a bit crazy. By being the rock for ourselves, we can truly be there for others.

A little less… stress.

Many of us can juggle a lot of balls at the same time, between family, kids, work, and fitness there isn’t a lot of spare time in the day. While many of us handle these choices and commitments expertly and seamlessly transition between the functions of our day, there is often a constant pressure to perform underlying all of it. Many of us don’t feel this pressure on a regular basis as it’s familiar; we’re used to it and it’s all good most of the time.

Until one day, or one moment it’s not fine. We find ourselves tense, frustrated at seemingly simple or mundane things. Perhaps being short or downright rude to those around us. This tension we often don’t even feel, is a form of stress we carry with us and like all manners of stress it manifests itself in a myriad of ways. So how do we know when this stress is building, or when other stressors will affect us? More importantly even, how can we quickly and effectively deal with this when it enters our consciousness?

One reason we experience these moments of higher stress is because there is a reason for the heightened levels. For instance a major meeting with a customer, a job interview, a fitness competition, unexpected bills, trouble in relationships. We may feel we are handling the added stress loads just fine and in many cases we are, until suddenly we aren’t. We snap at a co-worker or loved one, we get a migraine headache, we get sick and have to shut it down for a day or two.

I’ve found a solution for dealing with this stress on a macro level which is immediate and helps to calm things back down and put things back into perspective. I use this tool to simplify my perception, often these periods of heightened stress elevate our ability to deal with things so we add more, and all of a sudden our lives are more complicated, or at least seem this way. Meditation is always a great option, though I’ve found meditation to be best used on a regular basis and not very helpful “in the moment”.

When I need to simplify things in my life immediately and in a heated moment I quickly think back to who I am. Not in the philosophical way, the meaning of life way, (this we’ll get into another time). I look at the world around me and how I experience it. I focus on my family, my company, my house, car, bills, employees, vendors, customers, training program, grocery shopping list etc…

I think of these things, and I imagine all of them gone. Who am I without any of these things? If my life as I experienced it went away in a flash, who am I then? If I didn’t have to think about paying a mortgage, servicing a customer, ensuring food and shelter are provided for my family, hitting the next PR at the gym…

This may be scary to contemplate, and if it is scary or too uncomfortable to imagine then I invite you to consider just how attached you are to what you “can’t” live without. The truth of the matter is, if everything went away, you will still wake up in the morning, the sun will rise as you will. The sun will set as you will ultimately go back to sleep to repeat the process. What does your life look like without anything in it? Who cares. It doesn’t matter. For this tool we don’t have to spent a second trying to contemplate the “other” side of how we experience life.

I invite you to imagine everything is gone, you have no fear or worries about anything, family, friends, the house, business, job, money you owe the mob for bad horse betting… Simply imagine being you, carefree and released from the weight of what we perceive to be important in our life. Imagine having no thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow, just be in this moment right now, as light as an angel with no strings attached, no commitments, promises or deadlines. Close your eyes and be in this space, you may imagine yourself in a field breathing in the fresh breeze as you stand tall with your shoulders and back straight, like you may just begin to float off the soft grass.

As you practice this it becomes easier and helps to realize something very important. What we think matters a lot, at the end of the day really doesn’t. As Tyler Durden in Fight Club so aptly stated: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f***ing khakis. “

What are you if not all these things? For this article and purpose it’s not important. What is important for now is to understand this tool which is available to you anytime you feel the stress building in and around your life. Use this tool to calm yourself and reset your emotions when you feel like things are heating up. What this does is allows us to see our world from a different perspective. A calm, clean, de-cluttered perspective and even without all these “important” things we are still “us”. Simplified.

In this moment of simplicity as you stand weightless, what else do you need in order to feel fulfilled? (Normally I don’t give the answer, I’ve yet to hear somebody say something other than…) Nothing.

As we simplify our perspective, we already have all we need within us at this precise moment in time. Breathe in this knowledge as you allow the stress to fall away from this moment as you realize whatever is the cause, it’s likely not the end of your world.

We all have the tools within us to make miracles happen, this simple, effective and immediate tool is simply one of the plentiful options we have.

Give it a try the next time your feeling the pressure and let me know how it goes, I’m always interested in hearing how others apply these tools within their own lives.