Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stress as your friend

Most of us know stress can be bad.   "He's stressed", "you look stressed", "don't stress over this" and similar things we say all focus on bad stress.  Did you also know that stress can be good for you?  That there is a type of "good stress"?  I just published an article on "good stress" to  You can read it here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Take Control of Your Life

I see it a lot.  I hear it almost every day.  "It" is people complaining about their lives and the role government, employers, "the rich", unions, banks and other people have played in making their lives the way they are.  It's sad, really.  It's sad because of two things.
  1. As I have said before, each of us is where we are in our lives because of the decisions we have made up until right now.   Period.  If I want my life to be different from this point forward I must learn to make different decisions.
  2. It overestimates the influence outside forces have over my life while underestimating the influence I have over my life.  Consider the following questions:
    1. If the party you favor comes into more political power, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
    2. If employers become more of how you think they should be, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
    3. If "the rich" are able to keep more (or less) of their money, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
    4. If unions, banks and other people change and do things the way think they should, what difference will that make in your life if you continue to do things like you have up until now?
The answer to those questions is "not much."  Think about this in terms of finances.  There was a time in this country, when the tax rate on the highest income earners was greater than 50%...and 60%...and 70%...and 80%...and yes, even greater than 90%.  And, yet, people became wealthy anyway, under each of those rates.

Or, think about this:  There have been well-funded schools with a largely white, upper middle class student body that turned out well-educated graduates who were prepared for college life.  There have also been well-funded schools with largely white, upper middle class student bodies that have turned out an amazing number of poorly educated graduates who were prepared for neither college life nor life in general.  There have been both poorly funded and well funded schools that had student bodies consisting almost exclusively of truly poor minorities that produced well-educated graduates who excelled academically, not only in high school but in Ivy League universities.  Likewise, there have been those who produced poorly educated and ill-prepared graduates.

There have been people raised in horrifically dysfunctional families who eventually had healthy, happy and functional families of their own.  Likewise, their have been those from solid, stable families that turned out to be grossly dysfunctional individuals.

None of this is to downplay the influence of many factors on how a person's life turns out.  Certainly, it isn't to ignore the fact that some people will have to work much harder than others to overcome the obstacles they face. Rather, the point is that the single greatest factor is a person's choices; a person's decisions.  To give my take on an often heard quote, successful people make a firm and lifelong commitment to doing what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.

The idea that your your life is the way it is because of outside influences is a trap.  If you accept it, you will remain trapped in your life, the way it is now, until you either change what you choose to believe or until you die.  This idea says that the stuff around you must change before your life can change.  It says that your life can only change when the right combination of people, events and circumstances come along.  Here's the question:  What if those people, events and circumstances don't show up?  What will you do, then?  The answer, if you continue to buy into this trap, is "not much."  However, if you choose to change what you believe about how to go about changing your life the answer to "what will you do?" becomes "whatever it takes!"

Please, take control of your life.  Make decisions that take you where you want to go.  You do not have to remain where you are.  Regardless of how your life is right now, remember this: You do not have to live that way, anymore.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Giving back

Every month I present a free workshop at our local library.  The topics vary, but they focus on helping people achieve more.  That achievement may focus on time, money, health or some other aspect of life.  For instance, the next one will deal with stress and stress reduction and management.  There is no charge for these workshops and there never will be.  The content is identical to what I share with and teach my clients. So, since this is what I do for a living, why would I offer this content for free?

I believe the information I have to share is of value to everyone, though I know that not everyone will avail themselves of it.  Some people will never be my clients simply because they cannot afford my services or because they don't recognize the value of coaching.  They need the information, anyway.  Contrary to what some have suggested ("you'll put yourself out of business doing this") it has increased my exposure and that's a good thing.  So, it has the potential to expand my practice.  But that's not the only reason I offer these free workshops.  It has to do with being part of the community.

I tell my clients that the key to their success is becoming more than they are.  I've not yet had anyone suggest that becoming more and better involves viewing other people as sources of income to be exploited.  Instead, they speak of helping others, contributing more and being part of something bigger than themselves all while benefiting their own lives as well.  I encourage them to become involved in giving back to the community in some way.  After all, they live and work here.  Why would they not want it to be a better place?

Let me suggest you do the same thing.  You don't have to host free workshops or seminars.  You might find that you prefer to help out through a local service organization.  You may participate in fundraising for a charity or cause.  Perhaps you'll quietly volunteer your services in a way that contributes without anyone ever knowing (though the word will eventually get out, trust me).  However you choose to do it, get involved.  Be a part of your community.  Help make the place you live better than it is.  That's part of making yourself better than you are.  Success isn't all about what you get out of life.  It's also about what you put into the lives of others.  So, help out.  Contribute something of yourself.  Give back.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Motivation. It's not what you think.

Have you ever listened to a "motivational speaker?"  They can be pretty exciting.  By the time they've finished speaking it's pretty normal to feel as if  you can do anything!  Filled with excitement and enthusiasm you decide to make major changes in your life.  From the way you approach your career to the energy you invest in your relationships, everything is going to change.  Stepping out bravely, you institute grand and sweeping plans to dramatically change and improve your life.  And then, something happens.  After a month, a week or maybe even later the same day, the motivation begins to fade.  The enthusiasm dampens and the will to change seems to just...disappear.  Which leads me to my belief that motivational speakers are a "dime a dozen"...and worth almost that much.  Just to be clear, there are some very talented speakers who talk about the same things as motivational speakers, but who are not motivational speakers themselves. Instead, they are men and women who have, often through hard experience, found what works and are eager to educate others about it.  For these people I have nothing but admiration and respect.  Jim Rohn was a good example of a gifted speaker who was far more than merely "motivational."

One problem with motivation, and motivational speakers, is that motivation cannot be truly given to someone. While it's true that people are motivated by different things, the motivation to change must ultimately come from the person who is trying to change.  A speaker can excite you, move you and temporarily share his or her emotion with you.  Those feelings are only temporary.  You can't borrow them permanently.  Instead you have to find your own.  After all, your reasons for changing your life, or some part of it, are yours.  No one should be as interested (or as excited) about those reasons as you.  If you're waiting to find the right person to motivate you to change, you could be waiting your entire lifetime.  Jim Rohn put it this way: "Don't wait for someone to motivate you.  What if he doesn't show up?"

Secondly, it's a mistake to confuse motivation with commitment.  Motivation may be "why" we change, but commitment is what keeps us doing what we have to do during those periods when the excitement isn't there and when we feel like giving up.  While it's vital to keep in mind why we've started down the road to change, it's equally important to be committed to the process, especially when it's appealing to quit.  Motivation can be thrilling, exciting and emotionally charged.  Commitment is strong, solid and tough.

Finally, motivation and education go hand in hand.  In fact, motivation without education is pretty worthless. It's education that gives my motivation direction.  It's education that teaches me not only how to change, but what to change and that change is even possible.  If I don't know that I need to change, that I can change and what to change, all my motivation and excitement are meaningless.  Jim Rohn, again:

  • "Life change does not begin with inspiration.  Life change begins with education."
  • "Motivation alone is not enough.  If you have an idiot and motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot."
If you want to change your life, you can.  If you want to make things better for you and those you love, you can.  Get the knowledge you need.  Find your reason and drive to change and then go make it happen.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

3 Steps to Greater Focus

We hear a lot about focus.  "If you want to succeed you need laser-like focus" is a pretty common comment, often from those who are trying to help.  That sounds good, but how do you get this "laser-like focus?"  Once you get it, how do you keep it?  There are a few steps that will help you achieve greater focus.

  1. You get focus by changing your perspective.  Far too many people have the "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome.  While it's often important to attend to the many details of life, they can easily grab most or all of your attention.  Periodically, it's important to step back and take a good long look at the big picture. In practical terms, this means revisiting your dream sheet (you do have a dream sheet, don't you?).  Is there anything you want to add?  Anything you want to remove because the idea doesn't thrill you anymore?  It also means double checking your values.  Have any of them changed?  Are your values and dreams congruent?  This process gives a big picture perspective.
  2. You get focus by being crystal clear about your goals.  Once you have the big picture you can look at your goals and action steps.  Do your goals support your values and dreams?  Do your action steps support your goals?
  3. Now you can have focus.  You've moved from the big picture down to the close-in, immediate picture.  Now you have the clarity to focus on the things that matter.  The things that matter are your goals that move you toward your dreams and the action steps through which you achieve your goals.
As a rule, when we lose focus, it's because we're no longer clear about what we want and how we're going to get it.  If you've lost your focus, change your perspective, get crystal clear about your goals and actions and focus on what really matters.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The power of politeness

When I lived in Southern California one of my least favorite places to spend time was the line at the DMV.  It wasn't at all unknown to spend 45 minutes to an hour (or longer) waiting to be seen.  Then, once you got to the counter, you had the joy of speaking to a person whose approach to his or her job was one of less than boundless enthusiasm.  Sometimes these folks deserve the reputation they have for being rude and unhelpful.  I've been chastised and insulted by more than one public employee for things as ridiculous as resting my elbows on the counter and thus "invading" his or her personal space.  One day, I had an idea.  While I waited in line, I spent my time watching the interactions between customers and other customers, between staff members and between staff and customers.  I noticed that there was often a lack of politeness on the part of all parties, especially between customers and staff.  So, I decided to try something every time I went to the DMV.  I spoke politely to the staff and other customers.  If the person ahead of me had been rude, I made it a point to say something like "I'm sorry you had to put up with that behavior.  It must make your job harder."  I'd thank them for helping me.  An amazing thing started to happen.  While I still had to spend more time in line than I wanted, my interactions with the staff began to improve.  They became more willing to go a little further than required to help.  They smiled more.  They started saying things like "you're welcome" and "thank you" in something other than a monotone.  It didn't happen every time (there are, sadly, some people who just don't value politeness) but it happened often enough to be noticeable.  I tried the same thing with other customers and got similar results.

Perhaps you're old enough to remember hearing someone actually saying "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."  The point was that politeness is far more effective than rudeness in getting people to cooperate with us.  Taking the time to listen to others.  Asking questions about them.  Using their name when we speak to them.  Saying "please" and "thank you."  All of these are examples of what I call basic politeness.  Dale Carnegie's book entitled How to Win Friends and Influence People spends a great deal of time encouraging this politeness.  It's easy to look at his book as a primer on manipulation, but it really isn't.  Instead, it's a good guide to treating other people in a way that acknowledges their worth and value. In fact, one of the points made in the book is that if the things it teaches are used for manipulation, the manipulator is virtually guaranteed to get caught!  It's not about manipulation, it's about treating others with respect.  I had a conversation about politeness with my daughter.  She was upset that she had said "please" and hadn't gotten what she wanted.  I explained that politeness isn't to get what we want.  Politeness is about treating others the way we want to be treated (I seem to recall there is a Golden Rule that says something about how to treat people).  Does it have benefits?  Yes, it does.  If I'm not committed to treating other people with common courtesy, chances are I won't do it consistently enough to experience any of those benefits (another reason to not try to manipulate people).

Are people not responding well to you?  Do you find your interactions with others to be marked more by conflict than by cooperation?  Maybe you'd just like to have more pleasant interactions.   I'm certainly not saying you're impolite.  Still, since you can't control others, but only yourself, you might want to consider giving more attention to politeness a try.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What methodology do you use?

Recently, I had a person ask me "What methodology do you use in your therapy?"  I have to admit, it caught me by surprise.  Let me tell you why.  I'm a coach and hypnotist who also happens to be an RN (licensed in 3 states, currently).  I have extensive education and over 20 years experience in each of those areas. Question: With my credentials and experience, what therapy am I legally entitled to offer?  Answer:  None at all.  That's right.  None.  Zero. get the idea.  I am not a therapist.  I offer professional hypnosis and coaching services to my clients.  Now, I have experience in leadership.  I've done extensive work in mental health nursing.  I've led counseling groups and provided one-on-one counseling to mental health patients under the guidance and auspices of the institutions where I worked, but I am not a counselor or a therapist. On my website I note that what I provide is "vocational and avocational coaching".  Now, that certainly covers a lot of ground and it allows me to help a lot of people with a lot of different things, but it isn't therapy. For some reason it always catches me by surprise when people refer to it as therapy.  That's one reason I refer to myself as a hypnotist rather than as a hypnotherapist.  I want to help my clients avoid that sort of confusion.

Now, back to the question.  What methodology do I use?  This is how I answered the question.

While I've not been able to come up with a clever sounding title, my approach to coaching is to increase a client's awareness. That sounds sort of vague and “fluffy”. Since I try to avoid both vague and fluffy, let me explain.

In my experience, most people, regardless of how they define success and how much of it they have enjoyed, are profoundly unaware of:
  • Their basic values
  • Their passions
  • How their underlying beliefs and attitudes affect their chances for success
    • How these same beliefs and attitudes have limited their success so far
  • And the impact of their subconscious, acting in its capacity as a protective mechanism, on their lives
You'll notice that, at their heart, these are really “why” type questions (coaches are notorious for these, are we not?). This is where many of my clients wind up doing a significant amount of work during the coaching relationship. I use and teach specific tools and techniques to help them through what many people consider the least comfortable part of the process. It's after this that the “how” and “what” become not only easier to see, but far less tedious (or even enjoyable).

I hope this answers your question without being too long.

Thanks, again, for your comments.


A good portion of what you'll read on this blog reflects that approach.  I really believe that for most of us, being more aware of why we do what we do, why we want what (often think) we want and why we haven't achieved more than we have will bring us much close to achieving our goals than focusing so much on "how" and "what."  After dealing with the "why" questions, the others are easy.

Change your mind...change your life

Stay tuned...