Category

Personal Thoughts

Category

The Madness vs The Wisdom Of The Crowd

The crowd is a tool that can inspire or mislead.

The crowd can project judgement or uncover more.

The crowd can be manipulated or given the opportunity to add value and thought.

The problem is that without knowing, the crowd gets used to serving the goals and objectives of someone else. Fake news, clickbait, posters on your coffee shop bulletin board.

Last week a friend re-posted an article with a shocking headline. If you only read the headline and his comment you could be easily swayed toward his opinion, which was full of bias. My concern was that he hadn’t even read the article or researched it further than the headline before sharing. That’s the judgement of a crowd.

But the crowd can also choose to be curious. Let me click the link, let me see the sources of this information, let me respond versus reacting. That’s the wisdom versus the madness.

Mars, the $37B candy company, reported that chocolate can improve memory. A few shares down the line and chocolate is reversing the effects of Alzheimer disease. Except it’s not. The research had shown that a concentrated supplement of flavanols (found in cocoa) helped a small group of people remember a pattern better than a control group who did not get the supplement. In order to get that same amount of flavanols one would need to eat 5 kg of chocolate a day. Just like our friends online, industry inflates results to support their claims.

So, next time you read that headline, be curious.

If We Eliminated Just This One Bad Habit

There’s a bad habit that the majority of us participate in everyday without realizing the negative impact on others and ourselves. It’s something I’ve been personally working on for a few years. The results were not what I expected.

I’m talking about gossip and the act of gossiping. That little conversation about someone else’s private affairs that takes place when they are not there. It’s idle talk about someone else for our own pleasure and often involves words you would never say in front of that person.

It’s a habit born out of a lack of self confidence and our our society’s acceptance and promotion of peering into and discussing other people’s lives and problems.

When we participate in this bad habit, we damage our fragile empathy muscle and become less trustworthy with those around us. It helps us escape the unease and dissatisfaction of life that is intrinsic to the human condition.

Gossiping is often characterized as casual conversation about others, the details of which are often not confirmed or true. But what if you know it is true? Is it gossip? Is it then OK to take part? I like to think about it this way, true or not: how much do I really know about what is going on in this other person’s life, in their head, and how they are feeling? And what’s my motivation to talk about their situation?

When I was younger, empathy and responsibility were these nebulous concepts. They didn’t fit in with my world view, nor my need to feel secure. I now see that gossip is a crutch in our world of insecurity. Gossiping makes people lacking confidence feel better in the same way a drink temporarily makes an alcoholic feel better.

Part of me wants to think that gossiping really isn’t that bad. What’s the harm really? However, I’ve come to realize in the last year that the thought pattern is even there in the first place simply because gossiping is so addictive.

Gossiping can be harmful in a few ways. I’ve seen how that it encourages people to make sweeping judgements about others with very little information. This is because when we don’t have all of the facts we fill them in ourselves to support our argument. The result is that the opinions of others surrounding the person being discussed can unjustifiably be negatively impacted. Secondly, the time spent gossiping could instead be used to focus on the people you are with, learning about them, filling in the gaps of the stories you hold about them. It’s the ultimate game of being present.

It’s worth asking yourself if your time could be better spent, not discussing the faults of others when they’re not even around, but examining your own faults in the presence of others.

What’s most important to consider is that the mind in which gossip originates, a negative energy pervades. That negative energy doesn’t stay locked in, it needs to get out and it becomes a form of self destruction.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last year about gossip and its impact on me.

1. If the urge to talk about someone who is not present comes up, I ask myself “is it true, is it kind, and most importantly, is it necessary to discuss?”

2. There’s no value in speaking of someone else’s faults and mistakes. The result has been finding less faults in others and instead, becoming more empathetic.

3. My compassion has grown and it has permeated into all aspects of my life, whether dealing with a call centre operator in the Philippines or inside my household.

4. Less delusion. I find that in all parts of my life I’m creating less self delusion, helping me arrive at the facts quickly.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should never talk about other people. But we should consider the intention of our speech and its impact. Let us not speak of other’s faults, shortcomings, and personal troubles unless it’s with them and with the intention of helping them.

Have I Really Not Figured This Out Yet?

I was dripping in sweat, but feeling good. Then the teacher came over to correct my downward dog. What? Seriously? How can the most basic yoga pose still be alluding me after nearly 20 years of practice?

This summer I was golfing in a tournament and won the two closest to the pin holes. Yet, last week I couldn’t land a shot on the green on any of the par 3 holes to save my life. In fact I was playing most of the game from the bunker.

I’ve been married, I’ve had many long term relationships and I’ve cohabited with several women over the years. This week after months of harmony I had an argument with Meg that made no sense to me, I think I’m still mad. Have I really not figured this out yet?

When I look back at my yoga practice I’ve made incredible and meaningful progress over the decades. The way I connect my breathing with my movement is really meaningful. The alignment of my standing poses is night and day from even one year ago, and I now have zero pain in my shoulders even though I have labral tears from countless wakeboarding falls. I want, NO I need those adjustments from teachers. I want to hear what they think in order to progress.

Golf, like many things in life is about two steps forward, one step back. The more steps, the further forward I progress. The steps backwards are as important as the steps forward, in fact they can accelerate the steps forward. Michael Jordan famously said; “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Everyone is irrational in comparison to ourselves. Completely bonkers. Of course there will be arguments with the people we are closest with. No one matches our worldview completely and even if you find someone who appears to share many of your beliefs and values, people change. In order to find long term meaningful relationships we must accept everyone’s irrationality as our own issue, not theirs. We need to stop searching and start accepting. We can serve and surrender without submitting and find ourselves in others when we really listen, when we are fully present. Love is not a feeling, it’s an ability. Abilities can always be improved.

I don’t know anyone who has ever built anything truly meaningful that hasn’t taken a massive amount of time and effort. It’s about progress, not perfection.

Why You Might Consider A Solo Vacation Every Year

Today as I drove from Port Renfrew to Victoria on Vancouver Island, with endless old growth forest on my left and Washington State’s Olympic Mountain Range over the water to my right, I was reminded the many positive impacts long periods of alone time have on me.

I had just completed a six day hike along Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail. Easily the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. It was my 20th solo trip in the last 25 years, my first was across Indonesia when I was 19. My days on The West Coast Trail were made up of 6-7 hours of carrying a 60lb backpack down fog covered beaches, up and down an aging ladder system, through muddy bogs and winding along forests containing thousand year old cedars. While I hiked I was thinking. While I set up camp I got to think further and every night and morning while I prepared and ate my meal I ruminated on things that came to the forefront. Then it repeated again the next day

Solitude is a crucial and underrated ingredient for creativity. Susan Cain

When you are alone with your thoughts for multiple days in a row, you discover whats really important ,because it comes to the surface day after day. It finds you and doesn’t let you run away. It’s telling you something and with nothing to distract you, there’s not much choice but to listen.

Being alone is frightening for most of us. With little to distract us, it’s scary to be alone with our thoughts. It’s uncomfortable, but potentially game changing if you let it be. Learning to sit with discomfort leads to life changing discoveries that power our relationships, first with ourselves, then with others.

When you have the opportunity to take care of only your needs for a week, you are reminded of what you need, what you’ve been ignoring and how you might better focus on these things in order to grow. Time alone allows us to order our priorities according to what we need, rather than the needs of others. Most importantly, when you get to the source of how to best take care of yourself, you become more attentive and responsive to other’s needs.

Time alone to think and do and be as you please, is a gift, a gift to be treasured.

Jealous Of Me?

You’re jealous of me? But wait, I’m jealous of you. This doesn’t make any sense.

I was chatting with a friend from Orlando a few months ago over dinner. At one point they looked at me and said, “So let me get this straight, there are days where you don’t have any kids, no one to make dinner for, entertain, or corral into a bedtime routine?”

He continued “I don’t have a free night, ever! Unless I’m traveling on business. Man that’s awesome you get kid free nights.” And finally he ended with “I guess there’s some benefits to divorce. I’m jealous.”

However, the days I don’t have my daughter I walk past her silent bedroom and stare. Sometimes there are things strewn all over the place, other times it’s neat and tidy, but it’s always so quiet. It’s as if she was just plucked from the house, abducted by aliens. I feel lonely and wonder what she did that day, if she’s missing me, if she’s OK. I’m jealous of my friend who gets to see his kids everyday.

There are very few lives being lived, of which there is not someone who is jealous. But it doesn’t need to be that way. If your life is good enough for someone to be jealous of, surely it’s good enough for you to be happy.

The situation I outlined above is illustrative of the fact that the state of our lives is not really the problem. The real problem is we are not paying attention to the lives we lead and all that we have right in front of us.

A Pattern I’ve Noticed In All Of My Role Models

I examined my most influential role models from both my personal and professional life and I found a number of interesting patterns.

What I noticed in all of my role models is that;

They ever gossip or complain

They are contemplative, they aren’t afraid of space without answers

They see what’s possible and are not discouraged when others don’t

They consistently read and learn, they are lifelong learners

They don’t take themselves too seriously

The are always executing, they understand there are results or excuses

They are generous, give without expectations

They possess a strong authority but remain humble

They consistently catch people doing things right

They take more blame than credit

They are articulate writers and communicators

They are patient

They rest, and encourage rest in others

They uncover the bigger picture beyond the current constraints of a situation

They are resilient and don’t let rejection stop them

I think it’s a worthy effort and I’d be satisfied to be recognized for half of this list.

When Things Get Complicated

When things get complicated go back to why you started, what got you to say yes to the project, what made you fall in love in the first place, what was the motivation for taking the job, why did you commit in the first place? What were the positive emotions that were present when you started?

When things get complicated sit still, stop being busy and let the feelings overwhelm you. That’s the only way you will really understand the feelings. We tend to create distractions that keep us from truly understanding what is complicated versus what you yourself are making complicated.

When things get complicated commit to simplifying things and ask yourself two things; What’s the end result I want and what is within my control?

When things get complicated don’t forget they won’t always be complicated.

I double dog dare you

I dare you to not check email for an entire work day, sunrise to sundown, JUST ONE DAY. You won’t believe what happens. I double dog dare you not to check email for an entire weekend.

I dare you to book a weekend away, by yourself, and leave your phone at home. Take a novel, take a colouring book, but don’t take your computer. Does this scare you? Well, if it does maybe you should consider it even more. A weekend away by yourself is a game changer.

Grab your phone right now and permanently delete one person from your address book, Facebook, whatever. You know who this is. A negative person, a girl or a guy you hooked up with 15 years ago, someone you don’t need occupying your limited brain capacity. Just start with one, you can do it.

I dare you to book four afternoons off, one afternoon for each of the following four months. Take your kid out of school and do what ever they want to do, go to a movie alone or with your best friend or have a lazy afternoon on the couch reading with your spouse. It’s just one afternoon a month.

Write down the five things that make you happiest and plan one day for each by placing them in your 2016 calendar. Too much for you to handle, choose one and book it. You love golf, book a lesson. You love cooking, book a Sunday to cook all day, you love music, book a day to sit and listen to music all afternoon.

I dare you to not set a single goal for 2016, NOT ONE. But, instead write down five non negotiables. It’s your stop doing list, not your start doing list. This naturally leads to the results you want.

I dare you to not use a credit card this month, at all. Only cash or direct withdrawal. Who cares about the airline points. For just one month either pay cash or use a debit card. You will be amazed what happens.

I dare you to unsubscribe from everything in your inbox that is useless, including this newsletter if you do not find it valuable. If you do not get value, don’t be afraid to unsubscribe.

I challenge you to take on just one of these. They are all completely doable and can only have positive impacts on your health.

____________________________________

Turn the light switch on

You know that pain of a light being flicked on when you are in the complete dark? You know, like at 4am when you are getting up to make a 6am flight? Who’s idea was it to take a 6am flight anyways?

When that light goes on it’s really painful, it’s a unique type of pain. I hate that pain, it’s shocking to the system, it’s always so quiet when it happens. It’s a lonely pain. It’s a pain we fear before we go into the dark and when that light goes on it’s a shock.

It’s like when someone calls you out on something. It can be shocking, hurtful, embarrassing.

You don’t need to be such an ass about it!” that was the reply from an employee this week to an email I had sent her.

Or instead of embarrassing or hurtful it can be a chance for self reflection, one of an innocent misunderstanding, something that can be turned around, corrected and seen through, as if you were in a dark room and the light went on. Someone flipped the light on in your head.

No matter your level of self awareness you are living your experience 99% of the time, you can’t possibly interpret your impact or understand what is going on inside someone else’s mind. But you can be open to it 99% of the time.

It’s not a sin that we are in a dark room. It’s not a sin we don’t know where the light switch is. But it is a sin if you miss the opportunity when someone shows you where the light switch is.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

If you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything

There’s a belief buried deep inside many of us that is self-limiting. It makes us believe that doing more means producing more and conversely, that being still is unproductive and leads to less meaningful results. After all, how can you create results while you’re doing nothing? 

There’s also this widespread idea that you should have three to five large objectives for the year, and each objective should have multiple goals under it. This idea often overwhelms both individuals and organizations and leads to half assed results. With this in mind, I chose just one thing to focus on to improve this year. One key goal that I believe, if achieved, will positively effect all other areas of my life. 

If you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything. But if you commit to everything you’ll achieve very little. So where does one start? How do you choose that one thing to focus on that will trickle down and impact other important key result areas while remaining confident you’re doing the right thing? The best outcome is that you make the correct decision. The second best is that you make the wrong decision. The worst outcome occurs when you can’t make a decision. 

I looked at what I wanted to achieve in 2015:

– 3x increase in sales

– more meaningful relationships with a smaller group of existing friends and employees

– be able to lead my product team with as much knowledge and confidence as I lead my sales and marketing teams 

– reduce anxiety and increase my general happiness

Then I asked myself, “what is the one and only thing that I can focus on that would impact all of these areas?” 

I soon realized that I needed to destroy something first. I believe that change and improvement comes more quickly when you focus on destroying part of yourself. It’s also always easier to tear down than it is to build up. Destroying something would help me uncover the one thing that was most important to me.

What I uncovered was that remaining connected and busy all the time was negatively impacting the four things on my list. I was embarrassed to admit that my phone was the number one cause of lacklustre results in all areas of life: my health, my sales, my relationships, and my self-worth. I was addicted to being connected and to my phone like a junkie is to heroine. But I couldn’t just say “get focused dummy” and I couldn’t throw my phone away either. 

After careful consideration I realized the quickest way to destroy my inability to focus and become less distracted was right under my nose. It was my yoga practice. 

Reflection time, sleep, and disconnecting was all available from a more consistent practice. 

My 2015 goal is to simply go to two yoga classes a week and do two 20minute home selfpractices a week. That’s it. No other goals, nothing else to hold myself accountable to. I would impact all four areas without directly working on each one, making it much more manageable. 

I’m not suggesting that yoga is the one thing you should focus on, but I am suggesting you narrow your focus. Don’t make this complicated. This could be as simple as playing your guitar everyday for 15 minutes or reading 20 minutes a day or going to bed 30 minutes earlier. 

Choose one goal, that if achieved, leads to the destruction of one thing and results in the important areas of your life naturally improving.