“Your mind is a garden…”

“Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Flickr by My Photo Journeys

Image from Flickr by My Photo Journeys

At this time of year, the northern hemisphere is harvesting many crops. Due to advances in farming technology, our ability to grow food throughout the year has greatly expanded.

Today’s quote suggests that our minds are always very fertile. We can all do a better job selecting and planting only the most optimal and positive thoughts to help us harvest a healthy and abundant life.

EXERCISE:

Examine how much time you commit daily to your own growth and development. Be specific in minutes and hours. Examine, too, how much time you spend in the weeds of negative or toxic thinking, in your personal and professional worlds.

What actions can and will you take today to harvest far more flowers and considerably less weeds in your world?

“The world is full of…”

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

—W.B. Yeats, Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature

Image from freger.weebly.com

Image from freger.weebly.com

Take a moment to examine your current ability to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.

Did you know that:

      • A Silvertip Grizzly Bear can smell you from 18 miles away?
      • Jumping spiders can see four primary colors versus the three that humans see?
      • Some birds have an internal GPS that acts as a compass, to help them find their way home?
      • The bat uses echolocation to navigate and catch its supper?
      • Catfish have 10 times more taste buds than humans (100,000 versus 10,000)?

EXERCISE:

How can you capture more of the magic life has to offer by sharpening and focusing your senses? One way to develop these capacities is to focus on each sense separately, whenever possible.

“The grass is greener where you water it.”

“The grass is greener where you water it.”

-Neil Barringham, Community Development Trainer

Photo from Flickr by Todd Morris

Photo from Flickr by Todd Morris

As we approach summer here in Michigan, many of my neighbors and I engage in the ritual of turning on our sprinkler systems to water our lawns and keep them green.

Unfortunately, the previous owner of my home put in the sprinkler system himself and used four zones in a yard that requires six.

This shortcoming results in brown spots and dead grass – areas that simply do not receive the water they require to grow and thrive.

EXERCISE:

Where would a bit more personal or professional “watering” in the upcoming days and months help you achieve the greenest, most lush life possible?

“It’s not always that we need to do more…”

“It’s not always that we need to do more, but rather that we need to focus on less.”

—Nathan W. Morris, Author & Personal Financial Expert

Photo from Flickr by M. Dales

Photo from Flickr by M. Dales

As part of my coaching process, I conduct behavioral, achievement, cognitive, and leadership surveys, in order to set a baseline of each individual’s approach toward achievement.

An initial exercise I share with my clients is called More, Less, Start, Stop, which allows them to sort their actions moving forward into one of the four categories. It is an exercise that many find easy to apply and manage in their daily lives.

EXERCISE:

Consider today’s quote. Where would giving more attention to fewer initiatives produce the greatest benefit in your personal or professional life?

Feel free to play around with different combinations of these four words, to discover even greater value in this exercise.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

— Mahatma Gandhi, leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India

Photo from Flickr by John Talbot

Photo from Flickr by John Talbot

Have you noticed lately that the pace of life has picked up considerably? Wall Street and large organizations capitalize on the critical factor of speed. Everyone wants what they want bigger, better, and faster—but at what cost?

Evaluate your own organization and examine the level of stress and overall job satisfaction for yourself and those around you. How much more are you expected to accomplish these days compared to a few years ago?

With the internet, smart phones, and other technical wonders that make communication instantaneous, the world expects us to speed up proportionally, and be available 24/7, as if we were computer microprocessors ourselves.

EXERCISE:

Based on what is most important in your life, determine the optimal speed at which you choose to operate, and make the necessary adjustments to your world. Do you need to speed up, or will your life be better if you slow down?

Feel free to reply to this post to share your thoughts and perspective on this important issue.

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure…”

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion, Pennsylvania Teacher and Writer

Photo from Flickr by Jan

Photo from Flickr by Jan

Have you ever sat in front of your TV, eating chips or another favorite snack, only to find your fingers at the bottom of an empty bag, searching for more, and wondering how you could have possibly eaten your way through all those treats?

Just like food we consume mindlessly, our days, months, and years sometimes fly by unnoticed, because we think there’s plenty more “in the bag,” or simply because we do not cherish each moment as a precious gift.

EXERCISE:

If you knew your days were numbered (which they are) how would you spend this “normal day”?

“It’s easy to get people’s attention; what counts is getting their interest.”

“It’s easy to get people’s attention; what counts is getting their interest.”

-Philip Randolph, Civil Rights Activist

Photo from Flickr by Kathleen Donovan

Photo from Flickr by Kathleen Donovan

If you haven’t been sleeping the past few years, you, too, have experienced an onslaught of technological, attention-and-interest grabbing resources, such as:

  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn
  • Mobile Apps
  • Skype, Facetime
  • YouTube, Video Games, Satellite or Cable TV
  • Blogs, email

Observe people in any mall, shopping center, or restaurant, and notice what percent are heads-down, looking at their smartphones.

What percentage of these attention-grabbing pursuits also engage people’s sincere interest and make some meaningful contributions?

EXERCISE

Given that the speed and amount of attention-grabbing choices will increase dramatically in the years ahead, what strategies have you found useful to sort through the abundance of options, to find and select the items that are of interest to you in your professional and personal lives?

Please reply to this post with your most helpful strategies.

“The most precious gift we can give anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

“The most precious gift we can give anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk

514Image from Flickr by Uli Emmanuel.

When I am coaching, I strongly believe that my clients deserve my complete attention. They become the center of the universe around which our discussions revolve. How often do you get or give such a level of focus when you’re with your family, friends and colleagues?

Unfortunately, we are all often distracted to some degree by the deluge of information and interruptions that find their way into our world.

Exercise:

Whether you are engaged in a coaching session, a performance review, a staff meeting or simply a discussion with a friend or family member, how will you be even more mindful to give others the gift of your fullest attention?

Pay particular note to how this effort brings forth even more of their greatest capacities and qualities.

The Seeds You Plant

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and poet

image from Flickr by Andrew Shieh

image from Flickr by Andrew Shieh

Harvest time is only a small part of the growing season. My wife and I grew tomatoes last summer, and really enjoyed harvesting them at the end of August.

The process of growing them, though, was a bit more involved and time consuming than we expected. It included purchasing seeds, preparing the soil, watering, providing sunlight, adding plant food, watering, adding more plant food, more watering… you get the idea!

Exercise:

What seeds can you plant today? What care and attention will they need daily, so that you can have a successful harvest in the future?

Make sure you enjoy the process of gardening and not just the sweet fruits of life.