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Archive for July, 2014

Don’t Make Assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

 Today I want to share with you a part from the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. In it he shares the wisdom of the Toltec, an ancient wisdom that is most accurately described as a way of life, distinguished by the ready accessibility of happiness and love.


We all want happiness and love. When asking any parent, what they most want for their children, happiness is at or near the top of the list.


The concept of “Don’t make assumptions” helps us see the world in a different light. The author shows us just how pervasive our assumptions are by giving us an example. If we were transported 700 years into the past, with all our knowledge that we have today, it wouldn’t be long until we would be seen as someone to fear who needed to be eliminated. The same way we can imagine that a person from 700 years into the future would see our current distortions and find us backwards and our world full of lies that we are assuming is the truth.


The concept of “Don’t Make Assumptions” is particularly powerful in human interactions. We assume that others think the way we do. We assume that our spouse knows us so well that we don’t have to ask for what we want. We assume that our spouse wants to do what we want them to do for us.


None of us reads minds. It is best when we explicitly ask for what we want. The other person has the right to say yes or no, but we have the right to be heard. Open and frequent communication clears the air of misunderstandings, helps us understand where the other person is coming from, and endears us to one another. We have the opportunity to genuinely appreciate the other person or share how much something they did meant to us. It is said that what we praise we get more of.


So, have the courage to ask questions, get clarification rather than assuming what something meant and ask for what you want.

Set a Goal and go after it

Set a Goal and go after it

Jack Canfield, world famous author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, has also written his enormously successful book “The Success Principles”. In it he shares with us the most important steps he has uncovered for becoming successful in any endeavor. He not only draws on his own experiences but he has taken seminars and workshops from many of the most successful people and has interviewed many others on how they have achieved their success. Jack has boiled down all this expertise into 64 of the most important success principles.


Today I want to share with you his principle “Just lean into it”. When we set a goal we may not know how we’ll achieve it or even what steps to take. We may not even know exactly how our goal will look when we achieve it. The important thing is to get started. Let me give you an example.


I grew up in Germany. When I was in 9th or 10th grade, I was struggling in my English class. I wanted to get better but I just didn’t know how. Then I came across a summer school program in England. I signed up and spent several weeks in England taking English classes and living with a British family. Being immersed in English for several weeks certainly helped but I still needed more. Then my path took a completely different turn.


Next I found out about a program to spend a year in America as a high school exchange student. I applied and eventually not only spent a year in America, but I stayed for life. I am now fluent in English, but when I first started on a quest to improve my English skills, I would have never expected to settle in America. I thought I was just after getting a better grade in my class.


Another example is the story of Martin Luther King Jr. When he started encouraging people to fight racial segregation, he undoubtedly could not have foreseen that less than 60 years later we would have a black president.


So what about you? What are your goals and how can you begin to take steps? How can you find out what other people have done to achieve what you want to achieve? Can you interview someone? Are there books or tapes available to teach you what you want to know? Can you take a course or do you need a degree? In the end you can learn all about it but just like riding a bike – you can’t learn it from reading a book. You need to take action. And that might be scary.


Reasons we might not be willing to take action towards our goals:

  • It never occurs to us
  • It’s inconvenient – we have to seek out information and make time to learn it
  • Fear of rejection – asking others for help or advice – we might get rejected
  • Fear of change – learning something new and taking action will mean change and that might be uncomfortable
  • Unwillingness to work hard – taking actions towards our goals means having to work extra in addition to what we already have to do on a daily basis. Many people are unwilling to put in the extra effort.


Look at this list. Is it worth giving up on your goals and dreams because of these reasons? I hope you make the choice to go after your dreams and goals. Ask yourself, “What is the next step I can take?” And then have the courage to take it.


One of the best ways I know to stay on track towards achieving your goals is to have a coach or at least an accountability partner. We often will do things for others that we won’t do for ourselves. Having someone to support you and hold you accountable may be just what you need to help you achieve your goals. Aren’t you worth it?

Anxiety and What to do Instead

Anxiety and What to do Instead

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

It can also describe a psychiatric condition, which is a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. Medication is available to address this form of anxiety. This article does not address the psychiatric condition but instead addresses that worry and unease that we all feel at times.

There are several categories of anxiety.

1. About the past or the future.
This type of anxiety is about mentally leaving the present and dwelling on the past or the future. We can dwell on the past of what we could have done differently or how we could have avoided certain mistakes. Or how we could have done a better job of getting things done instead of procrastinating.

How often do you worry about the future whether it is next week or next year? Will we be able to take a vacation? Will the kids get good grades and be able to go to the college of their choice? Will there be enough money? Will we like the new neighbors that just moved in next door? Will we get along with the new employee? All these and many more anxiety provoking thoughts will resolve themselves in time. Worrying about them does nothing but rob us of peace of mind and joy in the present moment.

2. Confrontations and conversations.
I remember my mother thinking endlessly about what was said and how she might have said the wrong thing or something dumb. She would worry endlessly about her lack of communication skills. Most of the time this was a complete non-issue. Nobody paid much attention to how she expressed herself. It was all in her head.

Similarly we can fret endlessly about a difficult upcoming conversation. May be we want to ask our boss for a raise, or we have a performance review coming up. May be we are planning a confrontation with a friend who has hurt our feelings and we want to clear the air and let her know how it made us feel. We can fuss endlessly over what to say and how to say it, and chances are, in the end, it isn’t a big deal at all.

3. Duties and obligations of the day.
We can worry about all that needs to get done instead of focusing on the task at hand. Or we start one thing only to think of another task that needs to be done, start that one and after a day of starts and stops have nothing complete and a mess on our hands.

Enjoy the journey

So what shall we do instead? All through life we have goals and expectations. As we achieve certain goals, others come into view. It is easy to keep our eyes on the goal to the detriment of enjoying the present. Make time daily to appreciate the little things and have joy in your heart. Life is about the journey and we miss out on so much if we don’t play and put joy into every day. Create memories every day. Once the day is gone, the opportunity to appreciate and love the day is over. If a day is particularly stressful, just remember – this too shall pass.

And don’t despise the day where small things are happening. Everything starts small. Before we can walk or run we need to learn to crawl. When going to school, we start in first grade, not in high school. When learning to speak to groups we start with small groups and short speeches, before we are ever ready to talk for hours in front of hundreds of people. So enjoy the small first tentative steps in any new endeavor, not only the big successes that come later.

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