Category: Blog

Success Is Simple

In a way, life – and success – is simple.

When you’re clear about what you want – and it’s what you deeply, truly, authentically, want – and you have a flexible, iterative and properly supported learning process for moving towards your goals* all you need do is the work.

The day-in/day-out work.

And that is easy enough if you get the “deeply, truly, authentically” part right.

We are made to do “the work.”

We are made to use ourselves for something worthy.

This world and our lives are gifts.

Honoring these gifts is what energizes us. It makes us feel as if there’s a reason for it all.

We are made to serve. To give of ourselves and receive from all sorts of places – without expectation.

When we are aligned with who and what we (truly) are there are no problems, only challenges and opportunities (and irrelevancies).

So, there you go. Success is simple. Just know what you want and design the best possible plan and process you can at the outset and get to the doin’.

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* Now, it may have sounded like I was over-simplifying things here, but it is very possible to develop that framework, to come from that place – it’s what I do as a coach. I work with my clients to get clear about what they want and help them create and execute an authentic, flexible, iterative and supported plan to get it. Want to know more? Click here.

Life Without Coaching & Life With Coaching

I was listening to Tripp Lanier interview Mark Divine on his New Man podcast (good stuff… ) and Commander Divine talked about how life is sort of like business, or the economy, in that it’s a progression, over time, with peaks and valleys.

Life – but certainly not a successful, satisfying, joyful, useful life – can be linear and predictable.

Normal, standard, “acceptable,” conventional lives might be linear-ish, but they are certainly not lives worth living.

To make this point visually, and to show how impactful coaching can be, I found a graph showing the Dow Jones Index over time.

I want you imagine the the first graph is a okay life, one without any real risk, or aspiration, and one where the person never gets any coaching:


Healthy Person without Coaching


You can there’s some little ups-and-downs, but no real spikes or valleys – and no real growth over time.

This is the sort of life many people live.

But there’s a different way. A way where you get some outside help. Where you enlist the services of someone who is expert in creating long-lasting, positive change. Someone who will help dig deep and find out exactly what you want in life and help you create a plan that will get you there.

Imagine you’re living the life below, and ’95 is when you hired a coach… you’re life might look something like this:


Someone Who Uses Coaching


Now that’s a life.

Sure, there’s more ups and downs, but that’s what life is for. Life is for taking intelligent risks and sometimes failing. But as you can see above, failure is never fatal.

The life pictured just above isn’t reckless and foolish, but it is bold.

When you know you have the support of someone who won’t accept your excuses and desire to play small and safe, you live more – more deeply and more fully.

I caution you not think of the graphs as representing only money. Imagine the graphs show how much you lived, and loved, and contributed.

If you look at the first graph, you can estimate that it would have risen to 8,000 or so by ’13, and that would be okay.

But if you want the kind life that gets to 16,000 in the same time-frame, you do what so many high-performers do:

Get. A. Coach.

Expectations and Agreements

One of my mentors (Steve Chandler) offers a powerful distinction useful in just about every area of life: expectations vs. agreements.

Most of us have expectations. Expectations about how life should go and how people should behave.

Invariably, many of these expectations are not met. As a result we are disappointed, frustrated and upset. We can begin to think that life is unfair, or doesn’t work, people don’t like us or can’t be trusted or that we can’t be successful.

Expectations breed the following: (dis)stress, anxiety, feelings of betrayal, (over)reaction and fearful and negative thoughts – just to name a few.

Most perniciously though is that expectations create external blame. When expectations are not met it is because of something “out there.”

There’s an alternative though: Agreements.

Agreements are way to regain one’s power. To take responsibility for one’s life and state of mind.

Agreements are co-creative mutually-agreeable arrangements between the key players in a situation.

In an Agreement the stake-holders come together and establish what is desired and when it will be delivered. Often-times the how will be spelled out. But mainly it’s the WHAT by WHEN.

Agreements work because they are promises made by people with their eyes wide-open. They are created from mutual respect and not coercive. If necessary, consequences for deviation from the WHAT or WHEN, or HOW are spelled out.

Consequences are rarely necessary in a true Agreement however, because they are people’s “word.” They are vows made with the best information available and honorable intention. If an agreement isn’t met it’s something beyond the power of the stakeholder. There’s no blaming the person, just acknowledgement that the Agreement was insufficient – not enough was known about the WHAT, HOW or WHEN to make an accurate Agreement.

The wonderful thing about Agreement is that they can be re-made, with better information and a more accurate target. If an Expectation isn’t met we blame a person or an entity (focusing externally), however, when an Agreement proves insufficient we can point to flaws in the creation of the Agreement.

Expectations are for the weak and Agreements for the strong: strong of intention, energy and character.

Going forward, will you harbor Expectations or create Agreements?

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If you find that people don’t honor their Agreements you’ll know two things: you could never have expected anything of them anyway and 2) you need to find others with which to create Agreements.

The Truth Will Set You Free – Part 20 of 20

I recently read a post on Johnny B. Truant’s blog that really hit home. So much so that I wanted to do two things: share it with my readers and 2) think on and write about each piece of his post. The post is “20 Truths About Life No One Wants To Believe” and the next one I am going to tackle is:

20. Your worst-case scenario is seldom very bad. Here’s a fun game: Ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” about the thing that worries you most, and then keep asking it until you can’t ask anymore. Then, when you’re at the bottom of that chain of questions, ask yourself how terrible that end result would really be. Here’s an example: I might lose my job > I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills > I would lose my house and car > I’d have to declare bankruptcy > I’d have to move in with mom/dad/grandma or bum on a friend’s couch and have a bad credit rating. Now: is that scenario really THAT bad? Did you die? Are you ruined forever and ever? Will you be tortured? The truth is that most “worst case scenarios” are merely inconvenient, uncomfortable, or embarrassing.

It’s amazing how we conflate the loss of “creature comforts” with real loss and pain.

If you’re reading this chances are the likelihood that anything truly catastrophic happening to you is very low.

Sure, tragedy can strike anyone, but the odds are long. If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely well insulated from the vagaries of human existence.

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And to dream smaller, or to not reach for what you really want, because of the “risk” is the true tragedy.

So, having put aside the risk of extraordinary tragedy or accident, we need only concern ourselves with what might happen if our plans completely unravel. And, as Johnny says so well above, it’s really no big deal if they do.

The Structure/Freedom Paradox

I read a Early To Rise newsletter (penned by Craig Ballantyne) recently that really put into sharp focus something I’ve thought about, and had an inkling about, for a while now: how do we get the things we really want to accomplish done and have more freedom?

Craig states: “The More Structure You Have In Your Day, the More Freedom You Will Have in Your Life.”

A paradox indeed.

How can we have more freedom, if we have (more) structure?

Well, because there’s a bit more to it than that.

We want freedom, but we also want to get certain things done – things we value that we’re not willing to let slide.

Ballantyne goes on to quote Paulo Coehlo:

Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.

At the two ends of the scale, there’s chaos and absolute rigidity.

No one wants either of those, but we so often err on the side of chaos.

And that’s what gets us.

And that’s how adding, intelligently and thoughtfully, structure gives us more freedom.

When we know that we’ve taken care of the things that matter, we can enjoy the time left.

The interesting thing is that when we’re intentional about creating structures that support completing what we see as valuable, we have more time left than we might have guessed.