Category: Blog

The Power of Sleep

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” – John Steinbeck

I know a thing or two about computers and I laugh (a bit, inside… ) when people chafe at the magic of the computer reboot.

They howl (not actual howling) and complain about how it should just work and are frustrated when restarting the computer fixes the problem.

They both want the computer work problem-free and they don’t understand why the reboot solves so much (and are annoyed by computer techs who answer the question “Why did a reboot fix it?” with some version of “I don’t know exactly, but it works now right?”)

The reason why the reboot works is it’s like a good night’s sleep for the computer. Computers, unlike humans, don’t need seven-to-eight hours of sleep to be refreshed and energized, but they do need the equivalent.

A reboot allows the computer to test every aspect of it’s hardware and reload all the files and settings it uses to work. There are millions of lines of code in a modern computer’s operating system and if a couple of them get loaded improperly something isn’t going to work.

The same (sort of… ) can be said for humans. The point, and the greater truth, is that we need rest, and a good rest is often all we need to figure out a tough question (or problem, or issue, or conundrum, or… ).

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And, while this is a topic for a longer blog post, for another day, the truth is everyone needs at least six hours of sleep per night, and most of us (the vast majority of us… ) need between seven and eight hours.

Don’t believe me? Test it: Abstain from caffeine after 3:00 PM, eat a light dinner, take no alcohol for 21 nights and sleep 7.5 hours – your energy, mood and productivity will be transformed (for the good!).

How To Move Forward With Ease

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

In a way, what Steve is talking about is whether one is on authentically chosen path, and is part of something larger than one’s self – or something else.

The “something else” is a more than a complex question.

Someone recently asked me for some “deep” questions to ponder and the first one I offered was: what is your life energy worth trading for?

If we understand our time, effort, attention and intention as our “life energy,” then we can examine what it is we’re trading it for. Question is: do we agree with the bargain we made?

I think the answer is (at best) a mix, at least for most people, most of the time.

I am not advocating an abandonment of one’s responsibilities, and roles, but a careful examination of both 1) the substance of those things and 2) our conception of them.

You see, it’s not as simple to say that if one radically changes their life that their life will radically change.

Most of what drains you of joy and passion is how and what you think about your life. (Everything starts with thought, the rest is execution – and the percentages are not equal.)

Without getting into particulars of a vast subject, let me suggest that there are some things you would do well to excise from your life (the “substance” of things), and there are some things that merely need a new mental approach (i.e. your conception of things).

Figuring out which is which is what I do with my clients and it’s the easiest and hardest (and often most rewarding) work they ever do.

What Kind of Farm Is Your Life?

I recently read a powerful story, recounted by Earl Nightingale, about a preacher traveling the countryside and a beautiful farm:

There’s a classic old story about a conversation between a farmer and a preacher. The story goes that the preacher was driving down a country road when he  came upon the most beautiful farm he’d ever seen in his lifetime spent traveling rural roads. He could only compare it to a beautiful painting. It was by no means a new farm, but the house and buildings were well constructed and in perfect repair and paint. A garden around the house was filled with flowers and shrubs. A fine row of trees lined each side of the white gravel drive. The fields were beautifully tilled, and a fine herd of fat dairy cattle grazed knee-deep in the pasture. The site was so arresting the preacher stopped to drink it all in. He had been raised on a farm himself, and he knew a great one when he saw it.

It was then he noticed the farmer, on a tractor, hard at work, approaching the place where the preacher stood beside his car. When the farmer got closer, the preacher hailed him. The farmer stopped the tractor, idled down the engine, and then shouted a friendly “hello!” The preacher said to him, “My good man, God has certainly blessed you with a magnificent farm.” And then, there was a pause as the farmer took off his cape and shifted in the tractor seat to take a look at his pride and joy. He then looked at the preacher and he said, “Yes, He has, and we’re grateful. But you should have seen this place when He had it all to Himself.”

Well, the preacher looked at the strong, friendly features of the farmer for a moment, smiled, and with a wave of his hand climbed back in his car and continued on his way. And he thought, that man has given me my sermon for next Sunday.

Every farmer along this road and in this country has been blessed with the same land, pretty much, and the same opportunity. Each has worked his farm according to his nature. Every farm, every home of every family in the country is the living reflection of the people who dwell in it. He understood that the land we’re given was not the acres we buy for our farm or the lot on which we build or buy a home, but rather the life we give it, what we do with what we have. Our lives are our plots of ground, and that’s the land we sow and from which we are then obliged to reap the resulting harvest. And the way we’ve sown will be reflected in every department of our lives.

I share such a long excerpt with because what we do with the wonderful and amazing opportunity that is our life, is vitally important.

Our lives are the farms to which this story refers. We can know how well we’ve honored the gift and opportunity of life by what we have created thus far.

How is your health? Are you fit, strong, flexible and vibrant?

How is your mental life? Do you continue to explore and learn, keeping your mind and skills sharp?

What about your emotions and relationships? Are they healthy, nurturing and sustaining?

What about your spiritual life? Do you daily consider your place in the world, both privileges and responsibilities?

You can have a wonderful, intentional, life, or you have something else.

Which will you choose?

The Secret to Contentment

“Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” – Epictetus

I’ve heard this put another way: happiness is not getting getting what you want, but wanting what you get.

Your thoughts… ?

The Nasty Middle

There’s a place between not taking consistent action on a goal and being unable or unwilling to release said goal. I call this place the Nasty Middle.

If I can get real with you for a minute I find myself in the “nasty middle” on something.

My weight.

I say I want to weigh less… that my Ideal Weight is 178 pounds. And it is, and I do want to weigh that, but it’s really, really hard sometimes.

Sometimes I ask myself why I focus so closely on my weight (and my fitness*)? Why not just let it go?

I don’t let it go, because that doesn’t really work for me.

Truth-be-told, I need the consistent focus on my weight, and how many push-ups and body-weight squats I can do, and how challenging my Pilates routine is… because if I didn’t I would eat too much crap and not exercise enough.

So I find myself in the “nasty middle” sometimes, a place where I am struggling with my goal, but unwilling to abandon it.

Just knowing that such a “place” exists is helpful in that once I name it, I can leave it.

(By the way, I am pleased to report that I am making progress and doing well with my journey to my Ideal Weight. Since I renewed my focus in mid-October 2012 I have shed 15 pounds, am about 10 pounds away from my goal and increased my strength and flexibility.)

* Please know that my goal really is a holistic one: to weigh 178 pounds and be lean, strong and flexible.