Is Happiness a far off dream?

Happiness is to….?  “The notion of happiness has become tenuous and misleading and too frequently associated with transient wants and needs” – Dr John Demartini. If we are honest with ourselves, we all experience feelings of unhappiness periodically, and all we long for is “to be happy”.
Maybe finding happiness should rather be seen as seeking fulfilment.  Eudaimonia is the word that Aristotle used for this state of fulfilment. Referring to goals of Wholeness, Wellness and Wellbeing. A translation would be “Human Flourishing”, as opposed to hedonism and gratification. Meaning that happiness is the fulfilment of whatever is perceived to be important and partly missing in your life.
There are a few basics that are common to all people, although each have a unique set of voids and values. Let’s ask ourselves a few key questions to start with:
1. What is the issue that is causing my unhappiness
2. What perceptions and attitudes do I have about this issue?
3. Where can I actually exert control over it or contribute?
4. Therefore, what decisions or actions can I take?

The common issues, based in our psychological needs for fulfilment are:
Unhappy about Politics and society? – One has to ask a “re-appraisal” question such as “Are there really more drawbacks here in South Africa than in other countries in the world?” – Most of them has their own set of challenges with a lot of insecurity about the future. Make an effort to talk to other people with different opinions than yours, expand your awareness and keep an open mind. There are many different ways to see the world or a challenging situation and we have the ability to reframe of perception which brings perspective and a level of acceptance and calmness.

Unhappy about Humanitarian crises? – If there is something concrete you can do to help, do it! If not, make a difference in your own world, at community or city level. Expert a positive impact on your environment. If you can’t do anything about the Syrian refugees, find a smaller issue you can do something about, and contribute there.

Experiencing financial hardship? – We are expecting financial freedom without saving. For Financial freedom, you need to develop a source of income and practice outstanding work ethic. You need a motivation to save and the right investment vehicles. Financial freedom means work. Ask yourself the question –“ Am I waiting for someone or something to save me?” How can you serve more people more effectively? – this is the way to make money.

Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded? – Once other people can access and take up your time, you can’t get essential things done. Look at your day and week and schedule dedicated chunks of time for all your commitments. Assess those commitments in terms of the longer term impact they will have on your goals. Remember is you say “Yes” to something or someone, you are by default saying “No” to an infinite number of other opportunities. Delegate and delete more often.

In summary…
Remember that every event is Neutral – until you decide to make a heaven or a hell out of it. After defining the issues that are making you unhappy, use it as an opportunity to serve more people in a way that’s meaningful to you (with credit to Dr John Demartini)

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Turn the Page…

Better the devil I know than the devil I don’t! – Sounds familiar as thoughts you might have had, the basis of a self-talk recently?  How often havent you been stuck in a job you loathed, dreading Monday mornings? Or endured a tired relationship because the idea of being alone or finding someone new seems worse than coming home to the sloth on the couch? What we quickly forget is that the comfort zone we are currently in , was also once unkown territory . We’ve once had to transform in order to arrive at where we are today.

It is fear that stops us from experiencing growth, fear that keeps us from making changes that could reinvigorate the humdrum and re-energize a body and soul bored with routine . Yet we resist and fight change, anything to stay with what we know and what makes us feel comfortable.

Why do we fear change so much? – I think its because our natural tendency is to look at change from a “scarcity mentality” – What am I going to lose, instead of an “abundance mentality” – what do I stand to gain? We will never know the full story until we’re prepared to turn the page!. When we are in the midst of difficulties, that call for change , it’s helpful to be “open” because where we are headed could be wonderful.

When events happen that tilt our world we’re, in effect, being given a chance to re-examine our habits, and the way we think, to re-evaluate , so we can make changes that leave us better off than before.

Rules and Tools for Positive Change…
We can either be “at choice” (where we choose to make changes according to what we want) or we can be “at effect” (Where life forces change on us.
It is impossible to become what we are meant to be, or even want to be, by staying unchanged. When we stop changing, we stop growing.
Treat Fear of change as an imposter – the only fears you were born with (according to Dr Dennis O’Grady – Clinical phsycologist ) are a fear of falling and a fear of loud noises. As babies we didn’t know how to be fearful of change – we moved forward because that was what felt natural and right. From crawling to walking, from grade 3 to grade 4, from school to varsity. Adapting to change is what moved us forward!

Right – Time to be Courageous…. We have some decisions waiting!

Multiply your time… Don’t just Prioritise !

How is it that we have more tips and tricks, tools and technology, calendars and checklists that ever before and we still always seen to be behind? How is it that we know more about time management than ever before, yet stress is at an all-time high?

There is strictly speaking no such thing as time management. Time marches on irrespective we like it or not. There is only self management. BUT there is something we forget  – How we choose to spend our time isn’t just logical, it’s also emotional. Our feelings of Worry, frustration, guilt, fear etc. – dictate how we choose to spend our time, as much as anything that’s on our to-do list our in our calendars. Let me take a step back in explaining:

Early time management Theory started in the fifty’s – during the industrial revolution – it was very One dimensional and based on Efficiency. The idea was that if we could develop new technology that will help us do things faster – it will give us more time!

In the eighties Dr Stephen Covey brought in two dimensional time management strategy. The X axis was Urgency and the Y axis was Importance. It gave us a system for scoring our tasks – based on how they scored, we prioritised them. Prioritizing is focussing on what matters most. For the last 20 years, this has been the pervasive thinking around time management. It has become the buzz word – “get your priorities right,or get your priorities in order” – but that’s not entirely the case. There is a massive limitation to prioritizing those no-one talks about: There is nothing about prioritizing that creates more time!

All it does is take item No 7 on your to-do list and bumps it up to No 1, it does nothing to help you achieve the other items on your to do list either. Prioritizing is like juggling – We even talk about us “balancing or juggling a lot of activities” In this paradigm we can only do things faster and do more things. We cannot solve today’s time demands with yesteryears time management thinking (Rory Vaden – Procrastination on purpose)

Instead of thinking how we can fit in more in the available 24 hours we have, we should multiply time by giving ourselves emotional permission to spend time on things today that will give your more time tomorrow. This “significance calculation” changes everything .

While most people make decisions on Urgency and Importance, “Time Multipliers” think also of “Significance” of a task or time demand:
If Urgency is – How soon does it matter?
If Importance is – How Much does it matter?
Then Significance is – How long does it matter?

We normally think: “What is the most important thing we can do today ?” Multipliers think “What can I do today that will make tomorrow better?”

How can we do this practically? How do I make the decisions then?

The “Focus Funnel” (as proposed by Rory Vaden),  is a thought process when decisions about time and activities have to be made.

When your tasks all come into the top of the funnel – first question is – can I Eliminate them? Is it even worth doing – my results may be driven by what I don’t do and not just what I do! It’s the permission to Ignore. Anything that I say “No” to today creates more time tomorrow!
The challenge is emotional – feeling guilty when we know we should say no, but afraid of hurting others’ feelings etc. Every time we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to an infinite number of other things.
Second Question is – if I can’t eliminate it, can I Automate it?  If there is a process in place, it will save me time tomorrow. Online Bill payments for instance – might take an hour to do initially but then save 30 mins per month consequently. ROTI – return on time investment!

Third Question if it can’t be automated is –Can it be Delegated? Can I teach someone else how to do this? Most of us would probably say – ” but they just can’t do it as well as I can”. That may be true once or twice – but eventually they will do it just as good as you. This is giving you permission of “Imperfect” for a little while to have ROTI.

If it can’t be eliminated, automated or delegated, that means I must Do it. Question is now or later? If now – concentrate and focus – and just do it. It can wait till later – we Procrastinate on Purpose and put in back in the 3 question loop a few days later. Soon enough, one of the other strategies will fit the action.

Most often – we do eventually what we should have had the courage to do in the first place – Eliminate!!  However if we keep on postponing a task that we SHOULD be doing, it obviously will have negative results in our life.

Click on the link below for a complete summary of the “Managing the Internal universe

 

At wits end with managing people ?

Whether you’re a manager trying to develop your people or trying develop yourself and build a career, you need to know that one of the key ways you can have a positive impact on the business is by operating more as a “Coach” than a “Manager.” This approach is also helpful if you are a sales person, helping clients to make decisions.

A study conducted by Bersin & Associates showed that organizations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently improve their business results by 21 percent as compared to those who never coach.

Many people are unsure about what is different about a coaching approach, so let me outline some key descriptors:

  • Coaches take an “Ask vs. Tell” approach. Don’t tell the employee what to do, instead ask directing questions. This allows the employee to create their own solutions. When they go through the thought process to get to resolution, they are much more bought-in — it’s their idea!
  • Coaches focus on the employee vs. the task — it’s about their development.
  • Coaches set up a clear accountability structure for action and outcomes. It helps keep the employee focused on achieving the desired goals.
  • Coaching is something that can/should happen as needed and in-the-moment, which is the best way for learning to occur. It’s a great way to reinforce what may have been learned in the classroom by capitalizing on those on-the-job learning experiences.

Coaching is about having Effective Conversations, preferably on a regular basis.What makes a conversation “effective”? It’s about a dialogue (asking), not a monologue (telling). The best coaching questions are:

  • Open-ended;
  • Focused on useful outcomes;
  • Non-judgmental (avoid asking “why?”).

Here are some examples of good open-ended questions compared to the close-ended version:

Open-ended/Inviting Questions

What is the status on your deal or project?
How can I help you?
Knowing what you now know (kwink) – how will you approach it next time ?
Walk me through your thought process?
What other approaches might you take next time?
How are your emotions influencing your perception of the situation?
Close-ended/Evaluative Questions

Are you finished yet?
Do you have a problem?
Did you make that mistake?
Will this really solve the problem?
What made you think that was a good idea?
That’s clear enough, isn’t it?
Didn’t I go over this already?
Why are you not finished yet ?

Great coaching books to read is “Performance Coaching”  by John Whitmore as well as “Co-Active coaching – transforming business, changing lives”  by Henry Kimsey-House

You – The Brand…

What’s the real power of You?

If you want to grow your personal brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power, know what it is and use it!

I’m talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over their colleagues to reach the top or who has the biggest office.  It’s influence power.

It’s being known for making the most significant contribution in your particular area of expertise. It’s reputational power. If you are a real estate broker, it will be measured by the number of times you are referred and past clients come back to do business with you again. If you were a scholar, you’d measure it by the number of times your publications get cited by other people. If you were a consultant, you’d measure it by the number of Clients who has your number on their phone.

One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence influences perceptions about you and says something about you and what you believe in!

It’s the same in the workplace. There are power trips that are worth taking — and that you can take without appearing to be a selfish, power-hungry person. You can do it in small, and subtle ways. Is your team having a hard time organizing productive meetings? Volunteer to write the agenda for the next meeting. You’re contributing to the team, and you get to decide what’s on and off the agenda. When it’s time to write a post-project report, does everyone on your team run like hell? Beg for the chance to write the report — because the hand that holds the pen  gets to write or at least shape the organization’s culture.

One key to growing your power is to recognize the simple fact that we now live in a project driven world. Almost all work today is organized into bite-sized parcels called projects. A project-based world is ideal for growing your brand: projects exist around deliverables and results.  They create measurables, and they leave you with concrete proof. If you’re not spending at least 70% of your time working on projects, creating projects, or organizing your tasks into projects, you are sadly living in the past. Today you have to think, breathe, act, and work in projects. This new way has done away with climbing the corporate ladder to a great extent.

Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking  ” brand You”, you don’t need organization-chart authority to be a leader. The fact is you are a leader. You’re leading You! people will follow you for who you are and what you believe.

Also see the links below for helpful tools and insights:

Personal Branding and Social Media featuring Simon Sinek

8 Rules for Personal Branding and Social Media

 

Dynamic Collaboration … a win-win

A new day has dawn for Organization culture. An era where the definition of “employee” does not have the same meaning as a few years ago. The Modern day “self actualizing entrepreneurial employee” wants something different from the relationship than job security, a promotion or a pension plan.

A new breed of corporate Loyalty is the clay from which a highly evolved and cohesive team can be build and managed. The “us” versus “them” mentality that has been fostered for hundreds of years in the workplace, desperately needs to be replaced by a spirit of Dynamic Collaboration. This Dynamic Collaboration can only be achieved if both Management and Employees are convinced that that each has the others’ best interest in mind.

Sooner or later, both a company and its employees (or an Organization and its members) will gravitate toward their respective purposes. If they cannot do this in collaboration, employees or members will begin to disengage or self-destruct and the organization will pay a huge price.\

When a company’s / organization’s culture opposes it employees/members’ purpose (that is: hindering employees from becoming-the- best- version-of –themselves), the employees will consciously or sub-consciously oppose the company’s goals and purpose. This in turn will prevent the company from achieving its purpose (becoming-the-best-version-of-itself)
This new breed of loyalty will be built on the principle of Adding Value. An employee is responsible for adding value to the life of a company. A company is responsible for adding value to the life of the employee. This is the great unspoken contract that exists between all employees and employers.

Judge the Seed by the Harvest

You always think you are right! If you believe something, you believe it’s right – if you did not believe that it was right, you would change it to something else and believe that rather…

Just because we believe something is right, does not mean that it is. The 19 young men that crashed the planes into the World Trade centre believed they were right – they believed those actions would get them to paradise. The certainly believed it was right, but that did not make those beliefs right.

There are many things in our lives that we have certain beliefs about. Beliefs about money, relationships, health, parenting, education etc. Each of these beliefs influences the actions we take. These actions eventually produce a result in our life… which becomes our lives.
How do we know when our beliefs are right? How do we know what truth is? Jim Rohn said “Sincerity is not the test of truth – life is the test of Truth”. How do you know if you are thinking right or believe the truth about relationships? Judge the “seed” – your thinking– against the “Harvest” of relationships in your life. If you are having a lot of good relationships in your life, the “Seed”, or beliefs about relationships are good. If you are going from bad relationship to bad relationship – you are not thinking right about relationships. The Harvest of bad relationships is proof of that.
Thinking about money – in debt up to your eyeballs ? You might not be thinking right about money, not having the right beliefs about investments, saving, spending etc. …If you want the proof of your “thinking about money” – look at your “Harvest”, your bank balance.

Well, Nothing changes until something moves…
We are where we are in life, because of the way we think, if we would like to be somewhere different, we need to change the way we think. We think a particular way because of what we feed our mind through the entertainment we watch, the people we surround ourselves with, the books we read and the dialogue that’s going on in our heads.
Look at the areas where life is not giving you what you want. Then look for the people and books that will educate and inspire you, changing your thinking in that area.

Courage to succeed through others…

It may be counter-intuitive, but in our modern world achieving through teamwork, is more prevalent than ever before. In a highly evolved business, schooling, social environment driven by technological changes, individuals hardly achieve success on their own and by means of their individual brilliance and effort.

Great teams are made up of people who know their roles, set aside personal goals, willingly help each other and value team success over everything else. Great business teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to make other successful and happy. It takes great courage to make the choice that your happiness and fulfillment will come from the success of others. The learning curve and personal change will be steep, but the payoff is worth it!

The Power of Purpose

It’s not enough to be industrious, so are the ants! What are you industrious about?

Henry David Thoreau

Here is the truth about Achievement…

You don’t have to be smarter than everyone else, or better looking, or more connected or luckier to make it big.  You just have to focus – really  focus – on what you want and how you can get it. The reality is that most people are quite unclear about what they want and their desires for their lives. Sure, they want to be successful and achieve greatly, but when asked what, how, when, who and why, they are pretty foggy about the details.

Remember using a magnifying glass to burn paper?  You could leave a piece of paper in the sun all day and it would be unaffected by the sun’s rays.  But concentrate the sun’s rays with a magnifying glass and within seconds the paper would be on fire. That’s the power of focus. People with a clear purpose are far more focused than the majority.

Purpose – It means the reason for which something exist, is done, used or made. There are three main areas where we need to be absolutely clear  of our purpose

Life Purpose…

This begs the question on a macro and philosophical level – “Why do I exist? What do I aim to achieve with my life? What result would I like to produce through my influence as a person? Most of us can’t answer this – we coast through life, looking for the next small pleasure and try to avoid pain, with little dynamic driving us forward.  Possible life purposes, if you are not clear on yours, could be: Creating a happy family; Be a master in your field; Have enriching relationships with people, Make a contribution to humanity; Help other people; Reach a high spiritual awareness;Leave a legacy or Have amazing adventures.

It does not really matter what your life purpose is, all that matters is that you have one. For several reasons: It will inspire you, get you up in the morning, influence people around you, makes you more effective, clear about what you have to do and how to do it. It will make you grow and unlock your potential and hidden talents.  Make sure you write it down and put it some place where you can see it.

Job Purpose…

Test yourself and write down the your 3 most important tasks at work and order them in priority 1,2,3. If you can do this without thinking too much, you have crystal clear job purpose. Once you are clear on this, you will immediately start performing better at your job or business. One of the great diseases of our modern day society, is the overwhelming number of tasks we must do every day. Mountains of e mail, avalanche of meetings, endless to-do lists, etc. Vagueness leads to failure, if we are not clear on the top priorities and get caught up doing the trivial activities we are bombarded with.

Weekly Purpose…

It Involves sitting down once a week and establishing the one main task for the week. This will establish your focus for the week, amidst all the trivial tasks. A few minutes of focussing can lead to a sizable improvement in personal effectiveness. A clear weekly focus on that task will make your mind return  to it again and again until it gets done. Imagine… in a year’s time you would have completed 52 important tasks – 52 big steps towards any big goal, is a lot of progress.

The Amazing RAS

These techniques are effective because they help your brain process information far better than it can when you are not clear about your key purposes in life. This is due to a part of the brain called the Reticular Activation System. It is the center where all outside information pass through, to be filtered by the brain. Because there are millions of pieces of information coming at us every day, the brain has to choose which are useful and which are not. An example of RAS at work is If you are a keen soccer player, your RAS will pick out all relevant information about soccer such as newspaper articles, headlines, matches, scores, games etc, even out of the corner of your eye, or from the TV or radio in the next room.  As this is “important” to you, your RAS dutifully filters out and brings you only the relevant data. If you have no clear purpose or goals, programming your brain with what’s important to you, you will miss out on all this amazing computing power. (Search for this on the Web for more background and explanation)

Clear purpose is an absolute prerequisite for excellence in any area of your life!

Pick one word…

If you put a small value on yourself, rest assured the world will not raise the price…

If you have to pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

There are certain value judgements we make about ourselves and every aspect of our lives is impacted by the way we see ourselves. Zig Ziglar summarizes this well with his saying ” It is impossible to behave in a manner inconsistent with how we see ourselves. We can do very few things in a positive way if we feel negative about ourselves”.

A Low Self Esteem or Self Image is characterized by thoughts, feelings and self-talk  of inadequacy to face challenges, unworthy of love and respect, not entitled to happiness, fearing assertive thought, wants or needs and lacking self-confidence. This self esteem deficiency will limit you, no matter what other assets you possess.

We should not be too concerned about what others might think about us.  What we should be concerned about, is what we think of ourselves. Many people tend to live their lives according to what others believe about them. If the important people in their lives expect them to go nowhere, then that’s what they expect for themselves. If you are surrounded by people who believe in you, that’s fine, but what if you are surrounded by people who don’t believe in you? John Maxwell believes “The value we place on ourselves is usually the value others place on us”…and I experience and see it daily, not only for myself but many people around me.

Is there something we can do to build our self-image? Something practical that we can start doing immediately?

  1. Guard your self talk – Whether we like it our not, we have a running conversation with ourselves all day long. The nature of which is many times criticizing ourselves. Turn this voice around to a positive influence by encouraging yourself. In the book “The Answer”   John Assaraf explains that by the age that a person is 17 years old they have heard “No..You can’t” a 150 000 times. they have heard “Yes…you can” only 5000 times – that is 30 no’s for every yes. This makes for  a powerful
    belief of “I can’t” – hence the negative nature of the self talk.
  2. Stop Comparing yourself to others – Comparing your performance to others’ have two negative effects. Either you feel inferior and discouraged for not performing better or you perceive yourself to be better than the other person and become proud.  Neither of these feelings are good for us. You should compare yourself to you! The mission is to become better than what you were yesterday. Look back and compare the you of today with the you of yesterday, last week, last month or last year. This should encourage you.
  3. Add value to others – People with low self esteem, often see themselves as victims and feel inadequate. This leads to a huge focus on themselves, becoming self protective and selfish because they feel they have to survive. If this is something you have to overcome, start serving others and add value to them. Sounds a little counter-intuitive? Making a difference in the lives of others, even a small one, lifts one’s self esteem. It’s hard to feel bad about yourself when you are doing something good for someone else. Guess what – in addition to that, adding value to others, make them value you more. So the cycle of Value starts.