Category Archives: Persistence

I tried once and nothing changed

“I tried to play the guitar once.” “I tried to drive a car once.” “I tried to use a smart phone once.” “And when I was really young I tried to walk once. I also tried to use a fork once, to use the toilet once, to say my first word, etc.” When I begin coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the above words about the people they’re leading. “I tried to change their behavior once, nothing changed. I tried to change the culture once, nothing changed.” Yep. I bet so. That’s not how change works. Or more specifically, that’s not how change succeeds. It’s important to initiate change. But the next step is more important. How do you persist after initial failure? If you can walk upright, use a fork and use words to speak you’ve got what it takes to keep trying.

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What if my spouse is not happy about my change?

  If your spouse is not happy about your change attempt you get a first-hand look at why most corporate change attempts fail – no buy-in. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes. If change is happening around you whether you like it or not there is going to be resistance. Try these five tactics. Curiosity and empathy If you were your partner, why would you prefer things to stay just the way you are? Why might this change be threatening or at least annoying? Ask. Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know the answer. That’s just a leading tactic and people sniff that out. Real questions trigger the frontal cortex – the smart part of our brain that looks for connection. Faux questions and a lack of curiosity trigger the amygdala – the dividing part of the brain. ‘Us vs. them’ becomes ‘me vs. you’. You also might get curious about what change they might want to make in their own lives so you can support each other. Let yourself be vulnerable Vulnerability is the cornerstone of trust, something essential for a team, and a marriage is a team of two. This means not having such heavily fortified positions facing the enemy also known as the love of your life. Vulnerability might look like: “I am not happy about this part of me and here’s why I want to change it” “This is important to me. I realize I can’t do this alone – I can’t stick with this change without you.” Get clear about why you want to change and how it could help the relationship Your partner’s resistance might force you to get clearer about why you want to change, not just for you but for both of you – and your kids too. Change works best powered by purpose – making a change for something larger than just you alone. You’ll want to be able to answer the other person’s unspoken, “what’s in it for me?” Disconnect to reconnect There is a time in the evening we can safely call, “no good will come from an argument now” time. You’re both worn-out. When we’re tired the amgydala in the brain is ready to call anything a threat. If it’s heading downhill fast, pause. Stop. Then… Schedule your time to talk When is the best possible time in the day for you both to connect? Every couple has a block of time that’s the sweet spot. Midnight after a long hard day at work is usually not it. Tomorrow in your sweet spot time is a better time to have this conversation. It’s worth it to wait.

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40 days of coming home

“So, what have you gotten so far?” Mike asked me halfway into this year’s 40 Days to Change For Good. (How’s yours going? Tell me about it.) I’ve been reviewing my first fifty years alive and pondering what is most important for me to aim myself for my (hopeful) last fifty. The first intuitive words that came to me are “coming home.” I’ve notice core threads of what I love running through my childhood into this moment. And I’ve noticed how I’ve strayed from those ‘golden threads’, how I’ve put away parts of me, covered them up with the dust of everyday life. And how I’ve been pulled from my passion core by cul-de-sacs that seemed like highways at the time or listened to fear’s bad advice. This noticing is helping me make bolder, wiser choices for the second half, helping me to ‘come home’ to who I am meant to be. What is there to lose? It’s these pauses that make us smarter and wiser. This is what happens for teams in the locker room at halftime. It’s a chance to see a bigger picture, notice what is true to our identity – ‘who we are’, and reorient back to that. In short, the locker room pause is the best chance for us to come home. Let’s be honest about Decembers. No work is really expected of anyone the last two weeks. There’s a two-week last push and then the foot comes off the gas pedal until after New Years. You have a two-week window to get the locker room wisdom of the pause. Review this year. What choices made are aligned with your core passion? And what pulled you away from home? What reorienting is needed to follow William Blake’s ‘golden thread’ to who you are meant to be, for you to come home for the holidays, and come home for 2019? I give you the end of a golden string; Only wind it into a ball, It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate, Built in Jerusalem’s wall -William Blake PS: the photos are my wood shed – this year’s and last – one way I come home…and keep that home warm.

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What’s better than producing?

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi   I wrote recently that if you want to produce, stop consuming as much – information, news, Facebook, stuff, drama. Even better than producing? Simply…being. Just simple enjoyment of this moment. Awake. Alive. At ease. Engaged in NOW. Here’s our order of priority: Fully alive Producing Consuming Where are you giving your time and your attention? Where do you want to instead? What needs to change?   “If you have time to chatter, Read books.   If you have time to read, Walk into mountain, desert and ocean.   If you have time to walk, Sing songs and dance.   If you have time to dance, Sit quietly, you happy, lucky idiot.” – Nanao Sakaki

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The consumption fast

If you want to succeed at 40 days to change for good, you’re going to need time, energy and focus. That doesn’t just show up. Good intentions don’t automatically produce additional time and energy in a crowded life. Something has to give. Try a consumption fast. We each have our consumption habits – news, Facebook, Netflix, podcasts, TV shows, and on and on. There are endless possibilities to consume. Our modern culture would love us to keep our head down, keep on ‘eating’. Like the caterpillar about to go in the cocoon, perhaps we’ve eaten enough now. Every caterpillar has to stop eating in order to take the next step towards flight.

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If you want to produce more…

Consume less. Imagine that your production and your consumption add up to 100%. If 70% of your available energy is devoted to consumption that means you have 30% maximum left. That’s all that’s possible to give to producing what you’re meant to produce in the world. Flip those numbers around and you’ve got a lot more space to contribute what you’re put here on earth to contribute. If you consume more, you are less able to produce. You have less time, less energy, and less internal guidance. If you consume less, you are more able to produce. You have more time, more energy, and more internal guidance. What do you need to say NO to in order to say YES to what matters? Try any of the following: Turn it off. Shut it down. Lift your head. It’s a simple equation. Not easy, but simple.

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A small, clear creek

“Constant, slow movement teaches us to keep working like a small creek that stays clear, that doesn’t stagnate, but finds a way through numerous details, deliberately.” -Rumi (from the poem Deliberation)   Having trouble keeping going? Are your work and family commitments overwhelming? Try constant, slow movement. Movement always helps. Even more helpful is the speed of the movement. Yet this speed of movement isn’t actually the process…it’s the teacher, read that first line again. It teaches us to keep working. And not just continuing to work any old stressed-out, exhausted-will way. Work like a small creek, a clear creek. Not a raging, muddy river. Not a dam-burst torrent. Not a dried up puddle. A small, clear creek. Whether you’ve been lucky enough to spend quality time next to a creek like this recently or not, we all know intuitively what that looks like. “I’ll take that right about now!” we say longingly. Anything is better than the current approach to the fire-hose of work. Constant, slow movement – keep going and go slower – is our calm, deliberate path through all those details tugging at us today.

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Get ready for 40 Days to Change For Good 2018

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.  Curious about what I’m working on this year? Revealed next time! What will you change? We’d love to hear.

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How did Gordon Hayward get back on the NBA court?

In the first game of the 2017 NBA season, Boston Celtic Gordon Hayward suffered a horrific leg injury, breaking his leg. It ended his season just as it began and put his future ability into question. How would he come back? Could he come back? He worked tirelessly on his body for 365 days of course, just what you’d imagine he’d do. But he did some other things to help him as well. Ros Gold-Onwude asked him about getting back on the court for the first game of the 2018 season, one year later. She reported, “Gordon has visualized this very moment with a sports psychologist. He’s visualized walking out in front of fans, making a pass, making a shot. He’s visualized making these simple basketball actions without mistakes and without pain. He also journals. He told me after the game he can not wait to write about the joy of being back on the court.” He’s done a great job of using the three-legged stool to make positive change happen: action, feeling and thinking. Action: 365 days of rehab. For example, when unable to run for months he was in the weight room “every single day.” Feeling: Journaling the lows and after this very special game the highs Thinking: Visualizing a pain-free return The ATF trio drives personal change in a powerful way. It brought Hayward back to this moment, even though he said, “I lost a year in my prime of my career. I mean, it’s very frustrating. It’s something I can never get back. But I’ve gained a lot throughout the year.” Seeing a video montage of his progress that played on the Jumbotron before the game he said, “It brought back a lot of memories, a lot of dark memories and a lot of dark times. But to be honest, it was cool to see some of the progression. They showed just a little bit of everything of me and then finally being back.” Dark times are what we all are given in life, sooner or later. And the desire to change – to be better, to be the person we were born to be. Action, thinking and feeling will get us there.

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The next 50: My 40 Days to Change For Good 2018

I’m turning 50 in 2019. When I was a kid I always imagined I’d live to be 100. It was my number I kept in mind when I made big decisions like: do something you love doing, make sure you have enough money for the life you want to live, be active, eat right, listen to the heart instead of the worried mind. I may be rounding up by a few years. The average life expectancy of the US male is 76.9 years. “Dead by 77”, that’s our manly motto! If you’re a US female add five years to that number. (If you’re curious, we’re 31st on the list, just below Costa Rica and just above Cuba – full list here.) However, since I consider myself –and you dear reader – decidedly above average, I’m sticking with the 100-year number. And I’m banking on good genes – my 87-year-old father was out on the tractor last time I visited. That means this year is (hopefully) my halfway mark. It’s the perfect time to dedicate some focused time and ask some big questions about what I want the next/last 50 to look like. Questions like: What do I carry with me across this threshold? What do I leave behind, no matter how enticing or safe feeling? What essential parts of me do I reclaim that I’ve lost track of over the years? I can think of no better way to spend my 40 days to change for good this year. I’m inspired! Also alternately scared, calm, enthusiastic – that’s a good mix of feelings for another powerful 40 days challenge. Won’t you join me? As always Day 40 begins November 11, Veterans Day and Day 0 ends on December 21, Winter Solstice, the day the sun begins to return. What’s your 40 Days to Change for Good? Let’s inspire each other to be the people we were meant to be.

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