“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
—Robert M. Pirsig, late American writer and philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Gia Iris
The paralysis of analysis is very real.
When we examine all the needs of the world the options appear endless.
Where do we begin? We always have the option of working on ourselves first, and then expanding our work outward from there. If we all choose to do this, all those other worthy endeavors would be covered by the remaining eight billion others doing the same.
In what specific ways can and will you work to improve your heart, head and hands? As you do, where else will you choose to make a difference in the world beyond?
“How are you tending to the emerging story of your life?”
—Attributed to Carol Hegedus
Image from Unsplash by Aaron Burden
Today’s quote is a challenging question for most people. Upon close introspection, many of us realize that we are not doing the best of jobs tending to our life. We can be like a shepherd who falls asleep and notices upon waking that a good number of his flock have wandered off — or God forbid — were taken by a wolf.
Where have you been sleeping on the job or dilly-dallying through your days just letting the world pass you by, or following paths mapped out by others?
If you were to tell a stranger your life story up until today how likely would they stay riveted and engaged?
How can you do a far better job tending to the story of your life as you pen your upcoming chapters?
Consider reading the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller for ideas and inspiration? Another book worth exploring is Someday Is Not a Day in the Week by Sam Horn.
“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to level yourself up.”
—Thomas J. Watson, Founder of IBM
Image from Unsplash by Ruffa Jane Reyes
In how many ways are you a better person today than you were a year or two ago? If you can confirm that you are, it is likely because of the company you keep.
To what degree do you admire, respect, and wish to be like members of your family, friends and colleagues?
In what ways do they set a good example for you to strive for in your personal and professional efforts?
Alternatively, where do you see yourself plateaued and slipping into bad habits, or falling behind your former self? How have your close relationships played a role in your losing your edge in your pursuit of being your best?
Where are your friendships and key relationships in need of a reboot or upgrade?
How and in what ways can you help those around you level up and benefit from your friendship even more?
“What comes out of you when you are squeezed is what is inside you.”
—Wayne Dyer, late American Self-Help Author and Speaker
Image from Wikipedia
How many times each day do you brush your teeth to keep your pearly whites pearly white, strengthen your gums, and freshen your breath? Did you know that there are numerous additional uses for toothpaste that can be realized with a few more squeezes? Alternative uses include:
- Cleaning your hands after cutting smelly foods such as onions
- Cleaning jewelry
- Cleaning crayon marks from painted walls
- Defogging sports eye wear
- Treating acne and other skin conditions
- Nail care
- Removing carpet stains and shower slime
Where and how would a few more squeezing situations bring out even more of your unique talents and abilities? How would a bit more squeezing bring out more of the best in others in your personal and professional communities?
“There is no greater education than one that is self-driven.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson, American Astrophysicist
Image from Unsplash by Glenn Carstens-Peters
Elementary school, middle school, high school, and college are what we call traditional education. If you were lucky, perhaps your upbringing included books, encyclopedias, and of course, highly committed parents who emphasized education as a key doorway to a bright future.
For many, once we complete our traditional education, we slow down or even stop our efforts for continuous learning. Somehow that song, “No more teachers, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” was ingrained in us, and we decided we were finished.
Consider yourself as your own home-schooling professor, creating the perfect curriculum just for you. The topics you choose are both important and relevant to a fully engaged and happy life. What could this self-driven education include that would result in a PhD in Thee?
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
Image from Unsplash by Sabri Tuzcu
In his book, Give and Take, author Adam Grant points out that in many situations, the givers of the world are more successful and fulfilled.
There is, however, a particular exception to his observation. He makes a clear distinction between two types of givers, which he calls “Selfless,” and “Otherish.”
A critical difference between the two is that Selfless givers give to the point of being an empty cup, while Otherish givers put on their own oxygen mask before assisting others.
Where in your life are you running on or near empty?
What Otherish strategies can you use to retain some reserves for yourself, so that you can continue your generous and contributory efforts?
“Exhaustion is not a status symbol.”
—Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston
Image from andtodaysidiomis
Do you ever hear yourself or others making statements such as:
- I work 24/7
- I work 60, 70, 80 hours per week
- I only need 4-5 hours of sleep
- I can’t remember when I took all of my vacation time
- I usually eat at my desk, and sometimes in my car
- I bill more hours than anyone else in my firm
- I’m burning the candle at both ends
Somehow, many of us took the idea of hard work, and got carried away. Some of us have gotten to the point that our self worth and value equates to “giving it my all,” taking it to the point of endangering our very lives.
The evidence that we need to conserve and recharge our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energies before it is too late is overwhelming.
Select at least one personal or professional activity that you will do less of or stop entirely, so you can step back from the ledge of exhaustion. See if you can reclaim at least one hour each day, and then consider reducing or eliminating a second activity.
I highly recommend reading The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr if you want to take this concept further.
“When you say, ‘YES’ to others, make sure you are not saying, ‘NO’ to yourself.”
—Paulo Coelho, Brazilian Author
Throughout the seven years I’ve been writing The Quotable Coach blog, I’ve posted numerous times about saying, “Yes” and “No” to requests made by others in our personal and professional communities.
To add a bit more bite to this subject, I’d like to add the words, “Oh,” “Heck,” and even “Hell” before the No’s and Yeses, to see if it creates a bigger shift in how you react and what you agree to do.
Where would saying, “Hell No!” to others and “Hell Yes!” to yourself a few more times make the biggest difference in your world?
You may consider using the concepts from the book, The Power of a Positive No by William Ury to find more polite ways to communicate your decision.
“Your life only gets better when you get better.”
Image from Flickr by Bart
Personal and organizational development are multi-billion dollar industries. It is estimated that the coaching profession is somewhere near the three billion dollar mark.
What causes this trend to continue pointing upward?
Perhaps it is simply that we all desire better lives, and that bettering ourselves is the easiest way to influence and control our own destiny.
When we work on bettering ourselves, we give our lives direction and set forth goals to pursue and achieve. This “creative tension” literally pulls, or draws us, to the realization of a better future.
Where can you or are you actively working on yourself to realize the better life you desire? Consider discussing this question with a coach, mentor, or close friend who will hold your feet to the fire and increase your chances of success.