What do we live for

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”

—George Eliot, pen name of Mary Anne Evans, 19th Century English novelist

Image of a woman holding coins and a note stating "make a change"

Image from Unsplash by Kat Yukawa

One of my most remarkable clients is the CEO of a local non-profit organization called Forgotten Harvest – the second largest food rescue organization in America. Last year, he and his team – and large numbers of volunteers – provided more than 40 millions pounds of food, valued at over 70 million dollars, to people in the community experiencing “food insecurity.”

Recently, he was interviewed on a top radio station in town about his work and the life journey that brought him to his role in this important organization.

Through this interview, I gained an even more vivid picture of his life and his fundamental purpose to make a positive difference in the lives of others within his communities.

EXERCISE:

What is your life purpose?

How do you currently contribute and make life less difficult for others?

What additional efforts can and will you take to more fully realize an even greater purpose with your life?

If all it took to upend the status quo was the truth

“If all it took to upend the status quo was the truth, we would have changed a long time ago.”

—Seth Godin, American Author

In Seth Godin’s newest book, This is Marketing, he suggests that to be effective, all marketers must have the courage to create tension. Some people actively seek tension because it works to push or pull those we hope to serve over the gap from the present to a better future.

For those who resist change and prefer the relative comfort of the status quo, these influences/marketing messages fall on deaf ears. In such cases, the truth does not set us free, for fear of whatever future we wish to avoid.

Godin suggests that the status quo doesn’t shift because something is true, it shifts because culture changes, and the engine of culture is status.

EXERCISE:

Examine where you and others in your personal and professional communities embrace change and find yourself open and receptive to the abundance of marketing messages coming your way. Where might saying yes and embracing such new ways of thinking or acting improve your status?

The great secret about goals and visions

“The great secret about goals and visions is not the future they describe, but the change in the present they engender.”

—David Allen, American Productivity Consultant

Image of a circle of people looking down at the camera

Image from Unslpash by RawPixel

I hope you had a very happy holiday season, and that your new year is off to an outstanding start. Perhaps you are like most of us in that you set about to revisit your visions for the new year, and establish “stretch” goals for where you see yourself professionally and personally.

What progress, skills, habits, and achievements will put a big smile on your face? Perhaps most importantly, what daily changes will be required to realize what you deeply desire?

David Allen suggests, in today’s quote, that our visions and goals provide the leverage of our commitment to changing our present actions that will have us realize the futures we desire.

EXERCISE:

Consider displaying the following quote by Tuli Kupferberg in your personal or professional environment as a daily reminder to tap into one of the secrets to a better future:

“When patterns are broken, new worlds will emerge.”

Also consider writing it with the second part first:

“New worlds will emerge when patterns are broken.”

Don’t just go with the flow

“Don’t just go with the flow, take some dares through the rapids.”

—Author Unknown

Image of a person standing on a rickety wood bridge over rapids

Image from Unsplash by Benjamin Davies

If your life were a movie or TV show, how likely is it that it would be a blockbuster everyone talks about?

Mine would probably not be a big hit with most people. When I ask people who know me best to describe me, some words that pop up often include: dependable, disciplined, reliable, steady, cooperative, honest, loyal, and friendly.

Being a “Steady Eddie” has served me well, and I consider myself very happy with my reasonable, predictable life.

On the other hand, there are many displays in my office of my favorite quote: “When patterns are broken, new worlds will emerge.” This thought constantly reminds me to keep checking in to see where I am committed to something bigger, better, or just different from “going with the flow.” It’s at these times I periodically jump into the fast-moving or riskier waters of life, and go for it. It’s interesting to note that a high percentage of these times are associated with some of my most memorable and significant accomplishments.

EXERCISE:

What is one important area of your life in which it is time to jump into the rapids and be a bit more daring?

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways you yourself have altered.”

Nelson Mandela, late President of South Africa

Image of an old school room

Image from Unsplash by Jeffrey Hamilton

When I was in college, I took an afternoon to go back to my elementary school in Philadelphia to visit some of the teachers who played an important role in my development and inspired me to always do my best and contribute to others.

As I walked the halls and entered each classroom, it seemed like everything had shrunk to half its size when I was a boy. I had a vivid sense of how I had grown in many ways, where I stood in bigger shoes to pursue my future path.

I was able to look my teachers in the eye as a young adult, and thank them for their contribution.

EXERCISE:

Select a handful of books that have been pivotal to your development over the years, and read at least one of them again.

I hope you will notice that while the words are the same, you are not, and that new lessons await the ever-evolving and expanding person you have become.

Consider reading a few more of your favorite books again, if you find value in this exercise.

Every Small Positive Change We Make in Ourselves

“Every small positive change we make in ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.”

—Alice Walker, Author of The Color Purple

Image of a man buttoning his suit jacket

Image from Unsplash by Hunters Race

Confidence is a quality most of my clients and the people I meet wish to increase. Although some may not always admit it, I’ve observed over time that most people have an inner critic that lessens their self-worth on many occasions.

For some reason, they often compare themselves to others and see big gaps, with others being far ahead of them. The leap to reach that level can often seem daunting or even impossible.

An alternative to giving up is the moment-to-moment and daily positive efforts for change we can all exercise. In doing so, we move closer to the future we see for ourselves – one step at a time.

EXERCISE:

Select one small positive change you wish to make in your personal or professional world, and stick with it for at least a week. Share your intention and specific action plan with others, so that you can be supported and reminded to stay on course.

If you continue this practice in the weeks, months, and years to come, I bet many of your friends and colleagues will admire the confidence they observe in you.

Progress is a nice word

“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator, and change has its enemies.”

—Robert F. Kennedy, 64th Attorney General of the United States of America

Immunity to Change book cover

Image from Amazon

Change or die.

What if you were given that choice?

For real.

What if it weren’t just rhetoric that confuses corporate performance, or life success in general, with life or death?

What if your physician said you had to make tough changes to the way you think and act, or your time would end soon?

Could you change?

The scientific studies in Alan Deutschman’s 2005 Fast Company article puts the odds at nine-to-one. That’s nine-to-one against you.

Progress involves leaving where you are to go to a better place ahead. It is a nice word, and does not appear to have much drama. It does, however, still involve change, and there are forces/enemies that slow it down or stop it on many occasions.

EXERCISE:

Consider checking out the Fast Company article, or look into the book Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan and Lisa Kaskow Lahey for greater insights into this fascinating topic.

The first step towards getting somewhere

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

—J. Pierpont Morgan, 19th Century American Banker

Image of a hand with a large bandaid on the palm

Image from Unsplash by Brian Patrick Tagalog

Pain and pleasure are two of the greatest motivators to mobilize us all to take action. Whether it involves jerking our hand away from a hot stove or pursing our dreams, we get going pretty quickly.

For some reason, pain or negative life situations often win the battle over our desires, making less of an undesirable situation preferable to more of a good one.

Whatever your own experience may be on this issue, please look around at your personal and professional worlds to examine where staying where you are is completely unacceptable.

EXERCISE:

Decide today what first step you promise yourself to take to move away from the pain of being stuck where you are, to a better and perhaps more pleasurable future. Consider doing this exercise on a weekly basis and feel free to get back with me regarding your results.

Be yourself and the right people will love you

“Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love you.”

—Author Unknown

Image of a smart phone showing no signal

Image from Wilson Amplifers

Did you know that in 2016 cell phone usage around the world was estimated at 62.9%? This number is expected to grow to almost 70% by 2019, when more than five billion people will be using them.

The numerous companies fighting for their share of this market all claim the best signals, widest coverage, and fastest speeds to attract more customers.

How often have you found yourself in a dead zone, with dropped calls and few or no bars on your screen? When that happens, most of us simply change our position, driving a bit further until we get back into signal range.

EXERCISE:

Instead of trying to connect with others by changing yourself, how could you boost your own authentic and powerful signal to attract the people who will love you?

Leave the familiar

“Leave the familiar for a while. Change rooms in your mind for a day.”

—Hafiz, 14th Century Persian Poet

Image of a small boy walking on the beach

Image from Unsplash by Andre Mohamed

One of my favorite quotes is, “When patterns are broken, new worlds will emerge,” by Tuli Kupferberg. In a nutshell, it points to a primary reason the coaching process works to support all kinds of professional and personal change initiatives.

Unfortunately, this can be quite difficult due to entrenched ways of thinking and acting that have become habituated over many years.

The good news, supported through today’s quote, is that we all can begin to grow and change by taking baby steps rather than quantum leaps, to better our worlds.

EXERCISE:

Experiment today by intentionally deviating from the familiar in your thoughts and actions. Please consider replying to this post regarding what occurs when you change things up a bit.