A+

On a recent coaching call, my client John expressed frustration at falling into “same old same old” behaviours. He had set some action steps on our call the previous week and had failed to follow through on them. When I asked him what happened he said, “I just don’t feel motivated around this.” (Motivated, shmotivated)

We talked a bit more about feelings, and how they can’t always be trusted. If we waited to “feel like” doing most things, we wouldn’t get very much done at all. (But we would get lots of sleep, get caught up on a bunch of Netflix series, and eat a lot of junk food!)

I remembered some Powerpoint slide pictures I had used in some workshops a few years back.

“John, since I can’t show you the pictures right now, I’m going to do my best to explain them to you. Picture a well traveled walking trail in the woods – the dirt and brush patted down from hundreds or thousands of foot steps. It’s super easy to walk along because it’s flat and wide.

Now picture trying to walk off the trail and through the woods – stepping over branches, hacking away at small trees and brush trying to forge a way through.

The first path is kinda what your brain looks like when you follow a habit. Your brain makes shortcuts when you repeat a thought or behaviour. But when you try to change it, it’s like forging your way through the bush. So it makes sense that we fall into old habits. It’s so much easier and more inviting to walk the easy path.

BUT, if you continue walking on the new path even though it’s more challenging…it will eventually become patted down and easy to travel. And the old trail will become overgrown.”

John really liked the analogy so at the end of the call, as part of his homework for the week, I told him to find a picture that represents each of the paths so he would have a visual reminder. A few days later I received this picture in an email. (Yes, he had it printed and framed!)

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If coaching homework were graded, I would give him an A+ 🙂

 

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Put the book on the table

A few years ago, a friend of mine was really struggling. She was going through a season of change and was so upset by her current situation that she was obsessing about it. She felt overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do.

I listened to her share the details and she asked for my advice.

“Pretend this book is the problem”, I said. “This is what’s upsetting you.”

And then I held it directly in front of my face.

“When you look at the book from this perspective, what do you see?”

“I see the book,” she answered.

“What else do you see?”

“Nothing”, she said.

“But here’s something interesting,” I continued. “When I put the book here on the table, its not gone.  It’s still here and I can still see it. Clearly in fact. But I can also see my cup, this table, the window, other people around us and so on. All of those things represent everything else in your life that is NOT the problem.” I explained.

“You don’t need to ignore the problem or pretend it’s not here. But you can see it in the context of everything else. The truth is, you get to choose what you focus on. And sometimes you get so zoomed in on your problems that you lose sight of everything else. In those moments, you need to take a step back and put things in perspective. This puts you in a better position to work toward a solution.”

This simple enactment resonated with her and she shifted her perspective almost immediately.

Put the book on the table. It just might help.

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Eat green veggies

There are opposing views in every area of life. It’s exhausting and confusing.

Drink milk. Don’t drink milk.

Eat meat. Don’t eat meat.

Apple. Android.

Hawaiian pizza is delicious!  Fruit should not be a pizza topping.

Conservative. Liberal.

Figure skating – a sport?

Gluten.

Guns. (Let’s leave it there).

BUT…I have never, ever, ever, ever read or heard anyone, anywhere say we should NOT eat green veggies.

So there you go. We can stand together in unity around something.

Eat green veggies and make the world a better place.

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We’ll see

I blame the invention of the microwave.
I can have a baked potato on my plate 56 minutes faster than my grandmother could.
So, is it really my fault that I’ve become impatient and short-sighted in life? I hardly think so.

When I am upset now…like today…in this moment, I don’t remember that yesterday was a good day as was the day before that and the day before that. When I face a problem today, I don’t recall the many times I have made it through similar challenges in the past.

Most days my default mood is a combination of happy/content (thank God for that!). But when I go through a period of discouragement or frustration, the current circumstance can swallow up my focus and shift my outlook. It’s like the theme song playing in the background of my life switches from “What a Wonderful World” to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

My hard day or hard week can start to feel like my hard life.

I. Lose. Perspective.

A few years ago I heard this simple but helpful fable…
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living.
One day, the horse ran away and their neighbours exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well.  The neighbours shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg.
The neighbours cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, a group of thugs marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for their gang. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury.
The neighbours shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!”
The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

No event, circumstance or season of life can truly be judged as entirely good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate. Only time will tell the whole story.

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Mental blueprints and giant erasers

“Do you think that’s air you’re breathing now?”
This is definitely one of my favourite lines from the movie The Matrix! How often do we make assumptions and impose unnecessary limitations on ourselves?

Now, as you’re reading this, I doubt that you are plugged into a VR simulation. But do you think about the fact that at any given time you are living in at least four different realms at once?

The physical world
The mental world
The emotional world
The spiritual world

And what most of us don’t realize is that the physical realm is just a “printout” of the other three.

Let’s suppose you have just written a letter on your laptop. You hit the print key and ta-da…the letter comes out of your printer. You look at your hard copy, and lo and behold you find a typo. So you take out your trusty eraser and rub out the typo. Then you hit the print button again.

What the heck? The new copy has the same typo. How can this be? You just erased it!

So this time you get a BIGGER eraser and you try even harder and longer. You even study a three hundred page manual called Effective Erasing. Now you’ve got all the tools and knowledge you need. You’re ready. You hit print and…there it is AGAIN!

“No way!” you cry out, stunned. “What’s going on here? Am I in the twilight zone?”

What’s going on here is that the real problem cannot be changed in the “printout”, the physical world; it can only be changed in the “program”, the mental, emotional, and spiritual worlds.

Our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs are the blueprints of our results. Your “outer world” is simply a reflection of your “inner world”.

Beliefs & Thoughts → Feelings → Actions → Results.

If you aren’t happy with your results in life, ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”
(but not in the judgmental, smack your forehead kind of way)

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(I borrowed this story from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker)