Category: Blog

Why Planning Works (Always)

Anything worth doing is worth planning (at least once).

Lest I lose a potential reader who may think “Why plan small tasks? They’re small… ” let me say that even small tasks can benefit from a careful – albeit quick – planning session. Maybe there’s a better way of doing things, or maybe new resources are available to make a rote task quicker/easier/better?

Of course, there’s a balance to be struck between moving through the mundane and recurring with swiftness and taking time to examine and plan (every little thing… ). Let these first paragraphs be an invitation to look at some small things you’ve been doing anew, or to be careful when starting something small. It can be as simple as asking yourself: “Is the way I am approaching this in accordance with my values, ethics and goals?”

Then pausing… and continuing on, integrating any wisdom that comes up.

But what about medium-to-large tasks, projects and goals?

Taking the time to carefully examine and understand the complexities and ingredients of something, and committing that process to paper* is invaluable.

Not that you’ll have that paper in your hand every second of the task, pausing repeatedly to consult your plan.

Hardly.

Most often, it’s the process of planning that creates informed progress.

When something is well-planned, we program our sub-conscious on our – and our goals behalf – to work both when we’re “awake” and doing, but also when we sleep.**

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* The pause/review/notice method I propose for small/rote/mundane tasks doesn’t require paper, only use it if it’s particularly helpful.

** So much sorting, processing and refining happens while we sleep it’s amazing. But it only happens when we give our sub-conscious “good stuff” to chew on.

How to Make Courage (Largely) Unnecessary

Courage is not limited to the battlefield. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like enduring pain when the room is empty or standing alone when you’re misunderstood. – Charles Swindoll

You know, I’m not sure I agree with this quote. It caught my eye because I recently posted about courage and what it really is, in real life.

It’s not that reject Swindoll’s notion, only that it elevates “courage” to a less-than-useful place.What I mean is that, instead of needing “courage” to deal with empty rooms, misunderstanding or whatever, what if we recreated our ways of thinking?

What if the way we thought about these things didn’t create discomfort, upset or fear?

What if the way we thought about most everything didn’t create negative feeling-states?

I submit that our energies are better spent examining our thinking (our values, beliefs and “rules”) and find out where the “friction points” are. Those places where our thinking rubs up against – and often conflicts with – reality.

I prefer to believe that the great many things that “cause” us pain, or feelings of being misunderstood – or whatever “thought/reality conflict” you can imagine – are the result of using our Minds* and Thoughts* less-than-constructively (and, may I suggest, improperly).

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* For more on how thought creates feeling and feelings are our experience of life, see Syd Banks, George Pranksy and Michael Neill (et. al… ).

Creating Resources for Audacity

Most of us don’t believe we can ask for what we want – especially if what we want is amazing, even audacious.

Well, we can. You can.

There are two ways you can ask: 1) create a mind-shift whereby you just decide to; or 2) if that doesn’t seem possible, create the resources required for audacity.

People often think they will be judged as “not enough:” not smart enough, not expert enough, not experienced enough, not loving enough, not caring enough or not attentive enough to ask for exactly what they want (and what most would consider “audacious”).

Well, in the vast majority of cases you are the only one who thinks you aren’t “enough.”

So, all you have to do – if you can’t shift your mind as I suggest above* – is demonstrate to yourself that you’ve earned the right to be audacious.

How?

Contemplate what “they” would say about you if you dared ask for what you want. Whether it be in business, in family, in a relationship… whatever. Imagine what the “judgers” and the nay-sayers would say if you were clear, authentic and uninhibited in your request(s).

Then, develop a plan, say over three months, to do what is required to create the “legitimacy” required to make your ask. (And you get to decide what is sufficient in this respect; have no fear, you’ll get this calculation right… )

And then do it.

Day in and day out…

Hew to the plan, when it’s fun and feels good and when it’s drudgery.

Again, the only person you really need to convince is yourself – but you’re likely a serious skeptic (at-least/especially when it comes to “audacious” requests).

So do “it.”

Do the work of developing the skill.

Do the work of “being” a certain way with yourself or others.

Do the work of becoming

Show others, the Universe and yourself that you’re no poser.

And then, when you’re feeling a little less scared, a little less apprehensive – and even – a little bit confident, then you’re ready.**

You’ve done the work.

You’ve asked yourself what really needs to be in place and you’ve made it happen.

Then, ask.

Ask for what you want.

Once you’ve demonstrated your resolve to the toughest critic (overwhelmingly, and in most every case: you), you’re ready to ask for what you truly want.

Then you can start making the contribution you’re here for.***

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* Just deciding to doesn’t mean you don’t ask intelligently, and honestly. It just means that you have a “perfectness” inside of you (as we all do) that can’t diminished, regardless of our imperfect behavior. The “shift” is finding a way to hear – and feel – that perfectness and come from that.

** Remember, you are always ready to be fully who you are, you just have thoughts that get in the way.

*** Of course, again (in almost every case) you can shift your mind and get started now. But if you “can’t,” then a few months of preparation is a small price to pay (for a lifetime of audacious self-expression and authentic living).

The Beauty of Crucibles

Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape. – Charles Dickens

Everything we experience has the potential to be a learning and growing experience.

It is up to us to be open to the possibilities and make the most of them when (not if… ) they appear.

Of course, the heart-breaks and the tragedies are difficult to process as “opportunities-for-learning-and-growth” when they’re happening, but the possibility always exists.

I believe that the sufferings that Dickens references above are the most important opportunities, and the ones that mustn’t be squandered.

On the one hand they (usually/generally) teach us the greatest lessons about life and its impermanence (and the joy that lies in each moment, and no where else… ).

And on the other, they show us where we need to learn and adapt and grow. (Lest we make the same mistakes again and again.)

Ask The Right Question(s)

You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not? – George Bernard Shaw

These words have often been attributed to one Kennedy or another, but I’m pretty sure it was Shaw who said them first.

They’re a great “re-frame” and offer us the opportunity to look at our lives anew, and, instead of lamenting the way things are, imagining what we want them to be – and to do so in a way that is expansive and maybe a little scary.

What are the “never were-s” in your life and what – really – is stopping you from taking action?

Let me be the one who gives you permission and encouragement to find something in your life that “isn’t yet” and make it a “now-it’s-here.”