Painful Situations: Exposing Your Weakness or Growing Your Strength?

As we begin a New Year, I hope that, as I do, you feel a sense of hope and opportunity to start anew. Sure, the fact that we have turned the page in 2021 and opened the book in 2022 doesn’t change many things that happened and are still valid from the past year. But at the beginning of a new year, I hope you develop the mindset of thinking about infinite possibilities instead of limiting beliefs.

I also want to say that possibilities, opportunities, and real growth do not come easily. It likely will take a great deal of effort. And this is where often the people who make progress get separated from the people who are progressively stuck in the same ruts year after year. As always, it is a subtle difference but with considerable differences in outcomes.

Do you think before you act? Getting control of your subconscious mind

How many times have you done something (nor not done something) and said to yourself, or even out loud, “I can’t believe I just did that!” If I were to rephrase the question to myself humbly, I would have to start the question with, how many times each day? But that’s just me. I am sure that never happens to you.

Research tells us that our minds have somewhere around 6,000 thoughts per day. I have a gift for asking my wife to add a few more related to me each day. That usually goes over really well. Jokes aside, thank goodness that many, no most, of the thoughts we have each day we are not even aware of. If we had to keep up with 6,000 thoughts, imagine how much more tired you would be every night! Fortunately, our subconscious mind works overtime, so we don’t have to. 

Let me share an example of what I mean. If you go to an office every day or have a store, shop, or restaurant frequently, how many times have you been driving to that place lost in thought about all kinds of things? You weren’t paying attention to where you were going, your speed, or anything else. You may have arrived there with almost no memory of anything during the drive. Your subconscious mind took over and led you there without effort.

In many ways, this can be a good thing. Why? Because you don’t have to expend energy thinking about what you are doing. You get in your car, and your subconscious mind takes over and leads you to the place that you’ve been hundreds of times before. This frees you up to think about the people you might be meeting there, the things you’re going to do once you arrive, or any other task on your mind. 

The exciting thing is when your subconscious mind leads you to repeat behaviors or attitudes that are not helpful and work against you; then it’s time to bring those thoughts under control. Again, let me illustrate my point with a couple of examples that hopefully will help you identify areas in your own life where you need to evaluate yourself.

I have a habit of becoming very defensive anytime someone disagrees with me or suggests I may be off base. I’m not too fond of this about myself, but unfortunately, for reasons I don’t even understand, it is a behavior I adopted over the years. I have had to work diligently on myself (with the help of a couple of trusted advisors in my life) to learn to respond rather than react when I face a challenging conversation. I won’t get into the minutiae of the thoughts and behaviors, but now I can often pause, take a deep breath, and gather my thoughts before reacting, which generally comes as anger, dismissiveness, or worse. 

Also, I used to drive like I was in a NASCAR race no matter where I was going. Worse still, in addition to driving at high rates of speed, I could easily be provoked to road rage and doing and saying things that were not part of my core values. I recently learned to slow down, relax, and enjoy listening to music or podcasts that inspire me while driving. I am a much nicer guy behind the wheel now. 

These are a couple of examples of things I have identified as subconscious behaviors that are destructive to who I want and aspire to be. I have had to go through a process of self-awareness and self-discovery to get to this place, but it has been well worth the effort. Are there things in your life that you have been holding onto or doing without thinking for way too long? Are they the source of walls you have built up with those closest to you? I am sure that all of us have at least one thing that we, and those closest to us, would like us to change. 

To get you to commit to training versus trying, l offer the following suggestions. You’ve wanted to do many things in the past but trying harder, rushing through things, and working longer is not the answer. I can’t give you a hard and fast solution that for sure will apply to you. Nonetheless, try to implement these ideas, and you will begin to find the answers for yourself.

First, make commitments to yourself. Schedule time, do it consistently and find someone to hold you accountable. Commitments trump feelings every time. Next, prepare and commit to the change. Again, thinking about doing something is just a dream. Committing and doing it is where change occurs. Finally, put systems in place and evaluate results. Without a target to shoot for and without guideposts along the way, how will you know if you’re on track? As you evaluate your results, I would further challenge you to ask yourself and/or to share with your coach or accountability partner the tough questions that no one else will. This is where real change begins.

Whether you have developed a bad habit during the pandemic the last couple of years or have behavior that has plagued you for most of your life, stop accepting those behaviors, make a plan to change them, and work on them diligently. I would love to hear from you about the things you are working on and the results. I know you can do great things.

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I also invite you to review my coaching page on my website here. I have only a couple of spots left in my Personal Development Coaching Practice. Each week I offer two free strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis to people interested in exploring how to become a person who pursues their goals and dreams. These special hour-long sessions prove again and again to be invaluable to those who participate. You can book these directly on my coaching page – I look forward to serving you.

How Exploratory Thinking Will Lead You Beyond Your Confirmation Bias

In this post, I want to make you uncomfortable. My hope is by you allowing me to briefly do so, that I will challenge you to go beyond your “default mode” thinking and decision-making framework into a deeper, more reflective response to issues that are important to you and others. 

The uncomfortable part is that you are going to have to allow yourself to look at a particular issue, problem, or challenge from a new and different perspective. The challenge I see with this is that if you’re like me and most other people, you have naturally migrated to vetting ideas and expressing opinions with people who, think, believe, and vote just like you do. How vulnerable are you willing to be to venture over to the other side? In answering that question, you may be surprised how positive the results of all of your actions and interactions become.

Exercising from Strength While Accepting our Limitations and Weakness

Recently, I took an online personality assessment that I have heard a lot about over the years but had never done. As part of a leadership group I am participating in as part of my Rotary Club, I took the Clifton Strengths Finders assessment online to help me identify my Top 5 strengths. I cannot say that what I learned from the assessment was surprising, although I could argue it might be aspirational. The great lessons came in learning how to apply them.

Just like any great study or habit, the difficulty is not in learning it or understanding it. Rather the challenge lies in the implementation of it. We can read volumes of books, listen to multitudes of podcasts, and study the habits of great achievers throughout history. In the end, we will have a wealth of knowledge; however, if we fail to implement any of our learnings, I might argue that you have wasted a great deal of time. If that sounds harsh, stay with me, I believe there is an opportunity for everyone in this week’s message. 

Thriving in the Eye of the Storm – Where Peace and Tranquility Rule

I am quite sure that I do not need to persuade you with this post that storms are brewing all around you. Most of us are well aware of the multiple storms we face in every facet of our lives every day. If you don’t have enough that are affecting you personally, you can certainly find plenty to worry about by consulting almost any form of media or communication. It is true that if it bleeds, it leads, and there is plenty of bloodletting to go around these days.

It is also true that as we have all lived through the past couple of years of societal unrest topped off with a worldwide pandemic, we have all become more stressed, anxious, and unsettled in our lives and minds. The subject of mental health is thankfully being addressed publicly now when for years it was hidden and regarded as something to be avoided and discussed only in private. As with each of my weekly posts, however, I want to give you hope and light on how to combat all of this.

Increase Your Influence and Results with Integrity

Integrity is one of those words that many, or most, people use, but they don’t fully understand its meaning or impact on others. Yes, it is a word that many groups, companies, and individuals use to make it sound like they stand for the right things, but their aspirations often do not align with their actions. Similar words get spoken but often don’t measure up as well, such as quality, truth, and best.

Scanning the definitions of integrity on my Dictionary app on my phone, I pick up the following words and phrases to describe integrity: “Adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, honesty, whole, entire, undiminished, unimpaired, and perfect condition.” Again, these words are easy to say and espouse to be our goals, missions, and values; however, they are not easy to implement in practice. 

Your Life, Your Goals: Far from Perfect but More than Enough

Everything I listen to and read these days talks about the anxiety that is pervading our society. Obviously, we are all dealing with a worldwide situation that is unlike anything we’ve ever encountered. That combined with a world that continues to change at warp speed, and some might argue not always in the best ways, is enough to heap stress on even the most at peace among us.

This leads me to encourage you to stop and reflect on the handful, or is it a scarce few, or perhaps only one person, who, despite all of the chaos and confusion around them, seems to chug right along. Not only do they appear unaffected, but they actually seem to find joy in the midst of it all. Or so it seems. I haven’t met a person recently, if ever, who doesn’t have challenges to overcome. The difference between those who show it and those who “go with the flow” is not some magic formula; it is simply the right mindset.

Freedom Thoughts: Accepting, Living, and Embracing It Every Day

This weekend as the United States celebrated its 245th birthday, I was struck by and seemingly surrounded by thoughts and messages of freedom. I confess to being a sentimental patriot. On Saturday I participated as a walking marshall in a local 4th of July parade. As we approached the end of the route, the crowd swelled significantly. , The patriotic music from my Rotary Club’s float that I was walking beside started playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic. And I became misty-eyed.

So many thoughts were racing through my head at once that I was incredibly grateful for. First and foremost, how wonderful it was to be able to even be out in public at a 4th of July celebration after nearly 18 months of quarantining and sheltering at home. The joy on the faces of everyone – from young children to senior citizens was just beautiful to me at that moment. And with the Hymn playing in the background, I found myself thanking God for the freedoms I and that we all enjoy.

Are You Choosing to be Intentional or Leaving Your Legacy to Chance?

Intentionality. It’s something I talk, write, and coach about a lot. Chances are, if you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you have heard this before. So why am I writing about it again? Because primarily, I think it is an evergreen message, and secondarily it is a message that can be relearned daily. 

Whether you know it or not, you are making an influence in the world. When we talk about people who make an influence or who we call an influencer, we think in grandiose terms. But the truth is, we all make a difference and have influence over other people. This week I want to coach you in writing to recognize it and to turn it more positively intentionally. 

The Most Incredible Spring Break Ever I Spent With Time, Alone

I begin today’s post with a confession. I invested the previous two weeks in restoring my mental, emotional, and spiritual sanity. I decided several weeks ago that after seven months of not venturing more than a few miles from my home, I needed a respite and a retreat. I didn’t have to think long to determine my destination – a beach community in Northwest Florida that my family and I have been going to for over twenty years.

I drove down myself and drove home alone as well, which with eleven and a half hours of windshield time one way is a fair amount of alone time anyway. I also had a few days at the beginning and end of my time there when my wife joined me to spend time alone and rejuvenate. I tell you all of this not to brag about my beach and golfing exploits, nor to brag about my beautiful golfer’s tan. I brought back several thoughts with me from my time that I think you will enjoy reading about.