Category Archives: 40 Days Change

The slow glasses

Ann-Marie the optometrist cautioned me to go slow with the new progressive glasses. (Thanks for inventing bifocals Ben Franklin!) I ignored her advice, moved my head around normally and immediately felt sick to my stomach. It was going to take some time to get used to this new way of seeing.  My 40 Days to Change this year has focused on efficiency. And these ‘slow glasses’ were making me more efficient. No more throwing my head and gaze around willy-nilly. While adjusting, my head movements have been slight and slow.  That’s efficiency for you. It’s not moving faster, going harder and launching yourself at the work. Small and slow movements counter-intuitively instead get us to maximum efficiency. 

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Who do we appreciate?

Yes, the title may be a familiar chant to you from sixth grade. I’m tickled also by Microsoft Word chiding that it really should be, “whom do we appreciate?” That’s the upper-crust British version.  Instead of giving a bunch of cheap plastic gifts from China this Christmas that will end up in the landfill next year, give your partner/parents/friends/kids appreciation.  Appreciation engages the frontal cortex – the connector in your brain. And it quiets the amygdala in the limbic system – the alarm bell in your brain. Target your appreciation with characteristics that fit and give specific examples of how it shows up in their life.  Here’s a cheat sheet to help you, based on the work of John Gottman. And how are your 40 days going? I’m continuing to work on getting what needs to be done efficiently without panic or pushing. And other readers are doing great work. The best day to start your 40 Days to Change for Good was November 11. The second best day is today! Jerry says: “My 40-day focus is on experimenting with habits for self-care. That looks like: – walking at least 20 minutes/day – meditating at least 10 minutes/day and the big one… – in bed by 11 pm.” Lou says: “Count me in, so busy but I’ve got so many songs started my 40 day journey will be to work in unfinished songs an song ideas each day for 40.  Not necessarily to finish one each day but to work on some.  That’s the journey.  Excited about this, thanks for the push.” (You can check out Lou’s jug band here.) Laura is working on “discipline – being mindful of doing things on a disciplined basis. I can achieve a goal but what I lack is a consistent discipline. It’s not a specific thing, I just want to be more mindful about whatever it is I choose to be disciplined about.”

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What was the original intent of labor-saving devices?

Vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines, electric irons, hay thrashers, computers, the wheel, the rifle, the iphone…all have been touted as labor-saving devices. Why? Why did we want to save labor? Why do less? I’ve been pondering this on my 40 days to change for good this year. I’m focusing on efficiency – doing the work that needs to be done ‘good enough’ and not trying to make it perfect. Emails back and forth to clients are shorter for example. It has worked out pretty well so far, although accompanied by some old fear that something’s not quite right, as if this new way of doing the work is somehow dangerous. Why would I want to be more efficient? It frees up time I used to not have. Now what? There are two choices. I can do more work, or be done and go enjoy myself. Or work on filling the wood shed (which is a strenuous version of enjoying myself) or a thousand other non-work-related ‘things-to-do-when-you-own-a-house’.  I’ve been experimenting with choosing to not do more work. That leaves enjoying myself. What a concept! This was the original intent of selling labor-saving devices to the harried housewife of the 1940s. Get the chores done and enjoy yourself. At least that was the concept the Mad Men sold. Think of the Jetsons. In the future everything onerous will be done by robots. The only thing left to do is to get into wacky misadventures or sit on the couch eating bon bons. The computer really helped, and the smart phone really helped. No more faxes, letters typed and sent. No more traveling face-to-face. No more filing cabinets. The list goes on and on. All that time freed up. Well, how are we doing with enjoying that time? Everyone I meet out in the world, every team I work with, every executive I coach – there’s not enough time to get everything done in the day. There’s a greater scarcity of open time than any in modern history.  We took that time and…filled it up with more stuff to do. I think modern advertisers realize this and have given up. Labor-saving devices are now sold as productivity tools. So we can be more productive, get more stuff done. The treadmill speed can increase. If this is you and your life? If it is, is it working for you?  What would you like instead?

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Readers just like you are on the 40 Days to Change For Good Journey

You’re not alone. You’ve got company as you try to change something that matters to you. Here is what some readers are working on. I hope it inspires you to have fidelity to your 40-day journey or to start yours today. Jerry says: “My 40-day focus is on experimenting with habits for self-care. That looks like: – walking at least 20 minutes/day – meditating at least 10 minutes/day and the big one… – in bed by 11 pm.” Lou says: “Count me in, so friggin busy but I’ve got so many songs started my 40 day journey will be to work in unfinished songs an song ideas each day for 40.  Not necessarily to finish one each day but to work on some.  That’s the journey.  Excited about this, thanks for the push.” (You can check out Lou’s jug band here.) Laura is working on “discipline – being mindful of doing things on a disciplined basis. I can achieve a goal but what I lack is a consistent discipline. It’s not a specific thing, I just want to be more mindful about whatever it is I choose to be disciplined about.”

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40 Days to Change for Good begins

40 Days to Change for Good begins once again November 11th. This annual tradition (started in 2010) is a simple 40-day ritual of daily working-on-something-that-matters. It has been profoundly helpful to many readers.  Pick something you want to change for good or move ahead on something large that you’re having difficulty persisting with. Day 40 begins November 11 (Veterans Day) and Day Zero is December 21 (the Winter Solstice). Learn more in my e-book (free to you) here. And I’ll be writing more in my blog as well.  Curious about what I’m working on this year? I’m focusing on efficiency. Doing work-related tasks – especially things I don’t love doing – quickly and simply. Less polish, more progress. And more time open to enjoy just being and enjoying this precious life. One of the tactics to make your change project real and for you to complete it is to make it public. What do you want to change for good this year? I’ll make it public for you in the next newsletter. And if you want to help your team make a change for good, book either How To Complete a Project or the 40 Days to Change for Good change leadership team development for January and beyond.

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How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.?

Q: How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.? A: 60 billion That’s enough to pave a coffee cup highway to the moon and back seven times over. Next… Q: Are they really paper cups? A: Nope. Most ‘paper’ coffee cups are coated with polyethylene, a plastic.  Which means they don’t get recycled and they don’t degrade in a compost bin, on the side of a highway or floating downstream. We are powerful beyond our imagining. Especially when what we do is combined with others. And combined with a daily ritual – like buying coffee.  Our actions often reflect a mindless non-choice and reinforces behavior we wish we could change or that the world would change. But we don’t. And the world doesn’t. We change some repetitive action, someone else changes their action because we’ve normalized something that used to be strange, like using our own fancy ceramic cup or travel mug. And it spreads, like Rilke said ‘in growing orbits’.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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What percent of new car sales is electric?

More than one million Americans have bought or leased an electric vehicle (EV). What percent of new car sales is that? 2% You’d think it was more than that right? We may notice: Charging stations in plumb spots in the shopping center parking lot Charging stations in rest areas on the highway That interesting looking Tesla That new article – for better or worse – about Tesla When we think about cars – whether often or rarely – Evs occupy much more than 2% of our ‘car thoughts’. Or at least they do mine. I notice them. I don’t notice most cars. This ‘thinking about’ process is well into the long, slow process of changing minds and changing habits. Thinking about electric vehicles and seeing them used is priming us to also buy an EV instead of a gas-guzzler. It normalizes the leap. If you want to change a habit or influence someone else to change their mind, get those brains thinking about the change. Action won’t be taken, not for a while. The mind isn’t ready for action yet. But the process is now underway.  Someday gas-powered vehicles will be 2% of vehicle sales.  And then 0%.  And it all started today, with us just thinking about something a little more.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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Leo Tolstoy tells us how change happens

“In spite of the fact that science, art, and politics had no special interest for him, he firmly held those views on all these subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and he only changed them when the majority changed them—or, more strictly speaking, he did not change them, but they imperceptibly changed of themselves within him.” –  Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina Change is gradual. Usually so gradual it’s imperceptible. Our environment – both what we consciously chose and what we chose a long time ago and is now unconscious – shapes us, changes us. Like a seashell becoming sand, the exact moment can’t be pinpointed. Two things to remember: 1 – Make your choices wisely and deliberately. We are what we repeatedly do, as Will Durant said. That includes the quality of food, news, interactions, exercise, everything. 2 – It’s pointless to be frustrated that a change you want to make isn’t noticeably happening. Whether it’s something you want to change about yourself, someone else, or a culture, Tolstoy reminds us “they imperceptably change of themselves.”

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“Life is a dance, and we’re dancing on a moving floor.” – Klaus Obermeyer

“To be creative means to be in love with life,” Osho said, “You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”

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Happy from here to a hundred

What if you live to be one hundred years old?  What kind of life would you lead between this moment and then?  What will the quality of those years be like for your? Advertisers would prefer we don’t think those dangerous thoughts. They play on our ‘immediate gratification bias’ – it’s how we’re genetically wired after all. When faced with an uncertain future, take what you can get now.  My 40 Days to Change for Good retreat in 2018 marked my approaching fiftieth year on earth, my hopeful halfway mark alive. We’ll live as long as we live, regardless of our intent. But let’s say that one hundred years old is a possibility for you. The next question we might ask ourselves is, “what do I want the quality of those years ahead to be?” We can ‘just survive’ or we can ‘arrive alive’. One phrase that may help is ‘happy from here to a hundred’. Happiness is a good characteristic to aim for. A deeper happiness perhaps than ‘jumping up and down and yelling out loud how insanely happy I am’ kind of happiness. Perhaps a more quiet happiness, a contentment, a peace with yourself, your choices and your imperfect life.  Persistence needs joy to really activate. And a long life lived with purpose repeatedly redirects and enlivens that life. Here’s to you, and me, and everyone we care about – happy, from here to a hundred.”If I live to be 103, then I will have skied 100 years.” – 99-year-old Klaus Obermeyer

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