“Don’t try to teach a whole course in one lesson.”

“Don’t try to teach a whole course in one lesson.”

—Kathryn Murray, Ballroom Dancer

Photo from Flickr by Shaver Ross

Photo from Flickr by Shaver Ross

Two months into the new year and already I see a large number of people frustrated, slowed down, or completely stopped in the pursuit of their personal and/or professional goals.

One of the most common reasons for setbacks is the desire and attempt to do too much too quickly, which results in being overwhelmed, losing focus, and of course, a lack of the anticipated results.

It is appropriate, in such situations, to regroup and establish a new course of action with far fewer steps and far more finite and reasonable expectations.

EXERCISE:

Select one – and only one – important professional or personal project that is not going as you desire where you have tried to do too much too quickly.

Break this project into smaller, more digestible nuggets and spread them out over a longer time frame, to achieve the results you wanted the first time.

Life is like a ten-speed bicycle…”

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”

—Charles Schulz, American cartoonist, creator of ‘Peanuts’

Photo from Flickr by Glory Cycles

Photo from Flickr by Glory Cycles

Have you ever ridden a 10-speed bike? What did you experience as you proceeded through the gears? When you were in first gear, how easy was it to pedal? How fast could you go? As you moved through gears 2-5, what effort was required, and what speed was possible?

How often did you use gears beyond #5? How often did you exert the required effort, and how comfortable, exhilarated, or even terrified were you?

EXERCISE:

What gear are you in most often as you travel your personal and professional roads? Notice the terrain, including the twists and turns, the hills and valleys along the way.
What gears will be called for if you wish to climb higher mountains or reach your destination in record time?

If you haven’t tried it, consider attending a spinning class at the local gym, and be open to the instructor pushing you beyond your normal limits.

“You can do anything if you have…”

“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hope rise to the stars.”

—Henry Ford, American Industrialist

Photo from Flickr by Soren

Photo from Flickr by Soren

When I was in my late teens, I worked at the Country Club bakery/restaurant in Philadelphia. My first job was to wash pots and pans in the bakery. It wasn’t such a bad gig, since I got to eat a lot of sweet treats and good food from the restaurant.

I’ve always been motivated and driven, so it didn’t take me long to realize that being a baker was the “cool” job.  With that realization, washing the soiled pots and pans was not in my cards for long.

I made a deal with the bakers. If I could complete my dish washing duties quickly and completely, they would teach me how to bake.

The good news is that it worked, and one of my first duties as a baker’s apprentice was to make what we called water bagels. This meant putting the yeast-filled dough rings into a vat of boiling water to create the rapid rise that makes bagels so tasty and popular.

EXERCISE:

Summon your intense eagerness for an important task or job today. Allow this heated enthusiasm to help you achieve new heights in either your professional or personal worlds.

“If you wish to be out front, act as if…”

“If you wish to be out front, act as if you were behind.”

—Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese poet and philosopher

Photo from dreamstime.com

Photo from dreamstime.com

How competitive are you in your personal or professional life? What factors motivate you to do your very best and achieve remarkable results? Some people are motivated to avoid pain or punishment. Others are goal or future oriented, setting their sights on pursuing and achieving a worthy objective ahead of them.

La Tzu’s coaching is to set our sights on just such an external person or objective, to create a “come from behind” victory, and be out front.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently behind in the race to achieve some worthy goal or objective? How can you use this position to motivate you to pursue and surpass your highest expectations?

Remember: when you are are out in front, find something else to pursue, or others will quickly be on your heels.

“Life is fragile, handle with prayer.”

“Life is fragile, handle with prayer.”

—Harold B. Lee, eleventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Photo from Flickr by NASA

Photo from Flickr by NASA

I am constantly amazed by life. Here we are, living on our beautiful blue planet with the perfect set of conditions that support an astounding diversity of plant and animal life. From the deepest oceans to the highest mountains, from the frigid cold of the poles to the searing heat of the tropics and deserts, life abounds.

Yet, if we look back in time, we see events that eliminated a wide variety of Earth’s creatures.

People who seem to navigate life better than most have, at their core, a strong sense of spiritual purpose, faith, and a set of beliefs that guide their lives.

EXERCISE:

As one of over seven billion stewards of this world, how can your prayers, positive interventions, and actions support and sustain our beautiful and fragile world?

“Patience is the Companion of Wisdom.”

“Patience is the Companion of Wisdom.”

—St. Augustine, early Christian Theologian

Photo from Flickr by Thomas Mues

Photo from Flickr by Thomas Mues

When was the last time you watched a great leader give an inspiring speech? If you are like me, you occasionally enjoy a provocative TED Talk. The TED tagline is “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

Over the years, I’ve seen that the best leaders and presenters talk a bit more slowly than most. They measure their words carefully, to achieve the impact they desire. As I listen to them, I find myself slowing down, and leaning in to hear every morsel of wisdom they present.

EXERCISE:

Where would greater patience, and slowing down your busy life help you contribute and capture the wisdom of the moment?

“Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.”

“Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.”

- Author Unknown

Photo from Flickr by Cindy Mc

Photo from Flickr by Cindy Mc

Unless you live in northern Alaska, the Australian Outback, or on some secluded island, you are probably engaged in our hyper-communicative world. Examine, if you will, all the means by which you are inundated by it and drowning in it.

When I was young, people would say, “A penny for your thoughts.” Even then, the value of talk was cheap, and yet we all believe that what we have to say has value and is worth much more than a penny!

EXERCISE:

Pay particular attention today to the value of what you and others share in your interactions.

See what you and others actually desire or demand. Speaking to those matters will likely generate more golden nuggets and pearls of wisdom, which are in limited supply.

“Everyone needs help from everyone else.”

“Everyone needs help from everyone else.”

- Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev,  19th century Russian novelist

Photo from Flickr by Michael Hawkins

Photo from Flickr by Michael Hawkins

In late January southeast Michigan was hit with a major snow storm. My neighborhood got its fair share, with drifts close to two feet in some areas.

At first light the next morning people were out in force with their shovels and snow blowers, beginning to free themselves from their snow-bound driveways.

My neighbor Steve, who drives a modest sedan—not an truck or 4WD SUV—was stuck at the bottom of my driveway, spinning his wheels and unable to move forward or backward.

In an instant, a number of neighbors—including yours truly—came to his aid, releasing his vehicle from its snowy prison.

EXERCISE:

One of my best coaching clients has a mission and purpose statement asserting, “We Help” in all they do. How would an “I / We Help” attitude impact your professional and personal communities for the better?

“Education is not something to prepare you for life; it is a continuous part of life.”

“Education is not something to prepare you for life; it is a continuous part of life.”

—Henry Ford, American industrialist

Photo from Flickr by  CODnewsroom

Photo from Flickr by CODnewsroom

When you completed your formal education – whether it was grade school, high school, college or an advanced degree – how prepared were you for the professional and personal roles you have today?

Henry Ford knew as well as anyone that our education depends significantly on the continuous, iterative lessons we learn through life experiences. This form of education puts us to the test before we capture the lessons we need to live successful lives.

EXERCISE:

When and in what ways can you embrace the idea that lifelong learning, and being a continuous work in progress, is the best form of education to prepare you for your future?

“I always wondered why…”

“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. And then I realized I was somebody.”

—Lilly Tomlin, American Actress

Photo from Flickr by Nomadic Lass

Photo from Flickr by Nomadic Lass

Do you have pet peeves ̶ things that annoy you or drive you to distraction? Most people do.

One of mine is litter. I notice it most often when I’m leaving a movie theatre and see empty cups and popcorn containers strewn about, and in the parking lot of the gym I visit every morning.

Some years ago, I noticed myself complaining about litter fairly often, without my complaints making any difference whatsoever. That day, I promised myself that if I came across an empty water bottle or other not-too-nasty litter, I would pick it up with a plastic bag and place it in the trash.

EXERCISE:

Although picking up a single piece of litter is hardly going to alter the environmental challenges we face, what do you think might happen if you and seven billion other “somebodies” took initiative on the issues you/they assumed were meant for someone else?