CategoriesObserveReframe your thoughtsThink About It

Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories are often easier to remember than just the facts on their own. Additionally, stories tend to have more depth and nuance than facts, so they tend to invoke specific feelings. Stories can also be embellished, intentionally or unknowingly. With stories, we can highlight different elements depending on our mood, our audience or our intent.

A simple example of this is how you describe the big party you attended Saturday night. It is usually a little differently highlighted when retelling it to your friends rather then your boss or mother-in-law.

Stories are also personal. Those that strike a chord with us are more easily remembered. Given that decisions are based on emotions first, and personal stories are in our lives because they invoke an emotion, we probably allow stories too much influence over many of our own decisions in life.

“I would do that, but I am not smart enough.” “I have always struggled with my weight.” “My mother always said I was like that.” “I won’t go for that promotion because my teacher said I wasn’t very good at public speaking.” “I’m too old.”

These are all examples of the type of stories that hold people back from achieving their personal potential.

However, as with a tv (or website), we can change the channel and thereby the story that it is playing. Although we can choose to stay on this channel, while we believe and live out the current stories we tell ourselves, we can also choose to change the channel and change the stories we tell ourselves. You always have a choice.

Listen closely to those unhelpful stories that swirl in your head and are too readily voiced.

Then, create new, more empowering, and exciting stories for your life. And repeat.

Go on. Change the channel.

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CategoriesProgressReframe your thoughts

Restarts

Sometimes we drop the ball. It happens to everyone. We’re going along nicely with our skill or habit and then boom, we lose it. People always fall off course, either from something they do themselves or because of some event that affects them.

The secret is in quickly restarting. Don’t wait a day or two until you feel like restarting or trying again. Don’t let the pressure or guilt get to you.

When you fall off a bike, you get back on it quickly and try again. Same with diets. If you have something to eat that wasn’t going to help you reach your ultimate goal, don’t say, “I’ll start next week”. Or tomorrow. Say, I made a mistake but my goal is important and I am getting back on track right now,

James Clear, author of the NYT bestselling book Atomic Habits, says it quite simply, “Never miss twice”. So you can miss a habit once and that’s just life. But if you miss twice, you’re actually starting a new habit. And it doesn’t sound like a good habit either.

I’ve talked about getting started with Start Me Up, being clear on The Finish Line, and now how to Restart. These are three cornerstone components to building great habits.

Remember, never miss twice, and restart immediately.

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CategoriesProgressThink About It

The Finish Line

Where is the finish line? For many things, it’s hard to tell where the finish line is. If you were running in an athletics event on a track, you would know where the finish line was. This is important. Knowing where you must push hard to, before you can rest, is usually critical in getting the best result.

In athletics, I was taught to run through the finish line. It was suggested that I run an extra meter or two so I didn’t let up at the line and allow someone to pass me by a nose.

Life’s like this too. You should make sure you know where the finish line is: precisely. Then you need to go really hard at it and run through it.

Without a finish line, you could find yourself going around and around (like on a track) and not ever feeling finished. This can become disheartening.

With a finish line, you know exactly what you need to cover (100m, 200m, 3,000m, etc.). Like in athletics, you should be clear with your activity and what you must complete to cross the finish line.

When you cross the finish line, celebrate!

Life is a series of 100 meter sprints which, when combined, are the distance of a marathon (or ultra marathon). Remember to celebrate completing each one, not just the very last one.

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CategoriesActionProgressThink About It

Start Me Up

The first step often can feel like a giant leap for mankind: Too big. Getting started can be such a challenge. And yet, it is instrumental in getting to the second step and then ultimately success.

There are different ways to get started. You can countdown if you are NASA or Mel Robbins – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… You can put it in your calendar and block a specific time on an exact date. This is described as the Seven Day Success Cycle in my video “ETRR 13” on the Videos page of this blog site. There are other ways too.

Whichever method you use to get started, remember that your environment should help support you. If you go for a run in the morning, make sure your clothes are out and ready and your shoes are at the door before you go to bed. Any other items you need for the run should also be set out neatly the night before. Set up your environment for absolute success while the intentions are high. Do not wait to see how you feel in the morning, you’ll rarely feel like it.

Once you’ve taken that first step, be sure to celebrate. This is the hardest step so it deserves the most celebrating. Every time you start something new or start on the next step, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Well done.

Now Get Started! With a little momentum you’ll start to feel unstoppable: Like a rolling stone.

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CategoriesGoals, Results & New ThinkingReframe your thoughtsTime

New Beginnings

Setting off in a new direction can be both exciting and intimidating. The future could bring untold opportunity or challenges.

Regardless of what is to come, or how the change has come about, or whether you wanted the change or not, the best thing you can do is to take a deep breath, stand tall, smile and go forward, with an open mind and the confidence that things tend to work out well for those looking for things to work out well.

We can focus on the past, the “what could have been’s“, the plans you had, etc., but that is over now and new paths are to be forged. Allow yourself 5 minutes to mourn your loss, and not more, because every minute of life is too precious to dwell on unavailable paths.

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CategoriesActionProgress

Do Your Own Pushups

The optimal way to change something in your life, is to make the effort yourself.

Sure, you can watch Tiger Woods play golf everyday and that might help your golf game a little. But to make, lasting and significant progress, you need to go do it yourself.

Whether this means getting up early to travel through rain or snow to get to the gym and do a challenging workout, put in the work to build your business or put the gruelling extra effort in to progress your career, only you can do it. If your personal trainer, competitor or work colleague put in the hard yards and focus on the results, they will get the benefit, not you.

It’s nice to have supporters and people cheering you on and hoping you get the work in and the results out, but only you can make it happen. No well intentioned effort from your Mom, Dad, spouse, friend, neighbour, etc will make your body, business or career better. You have to grind it out and win those results for you. And you will feel amazing for it!

Go! Do your pushups.

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CategoriesObserveThink About It

Sample Size Of One

There is incredible power in one data point.

One data point can shift people’s views, swing elections, give great hope, inspire, raise spirits, destroy ambition and generally mess with your mind.

I am sure many of us will have come across the sample size of one in every day use. “My friend said she knows him and that he’s a bit of a psycho. She wouldn’t date him.” This one data point could steer you clear of your soulmate. Or maybe you’ve heard something like, “My brother went and he said it was fantastic. You’ve got to go!”. Or perhaps even, “The man said he knew someone that tried that once and it didn’t turn out very well”.

In these scenarios, a person has referenced only one opinion and yet it can create quite an impression. This is exacerbated when the sample size of one is an extreme example, either good or bad.

Very often the sample size of one is based on unsubstantiated claims, with no context and you are unable to assess the source’s bias. However, despite these limitations we can see people frequently use just one data point to their advantage.

It’s fascinating to watch yourself, or others, get convinced in a conversation or while consuming media. Listen to people use it to strengthen their argument. Many of us will have done this frequently over the years.

Seven billion-ish people on the planet and we can use one data point to sway a position. It may not be right or wrong, but it is fascinating. And powerful.

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CategoriesActionReframe your thoughts

Grouping Can Be Misleading

Canadians are, Brits do, Americans like. Africans think, Latinos say, Asians believe.

I can’t change how everyone communicates, but I’m sure global communication would improve if people made more realistic statements about the group of people they were actually talking about.

I saw a tweet about how, “Canadians criticise Trudeau” for buying $4 doughnuts that were locally sourced, and made, in Winnipeg. It was just some Canadians, not all 37 million. The headline wasn’t clear how many Canadians were criticising, but I tend to read these things as “all” rather than say two hundred. There is a big difference.

Perhaps media rules could be implemented so that when referring to a group of people, the headline must indicate proportionality. So the headline could have started with “100’s of Canadians criticise Trudeau”. This headline doesn’t excite or intrigue as much as the other, but then it shouldn’t.

While we’re at it, perhaps media outlets, and all providers of content, should also be required to include phrases like, “in my opinion” or “in this papers view”. And wouldn’t it be fun if there was a little penalty for those that say things like, “it’s a well known fact” – when it is actually an opinion or simply made up.

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CategoriesReframe your thoughtsThink About It

200 Years Ago

History repeats itself. Or, more accurately, as Bon Jovi sang, in his 1980’s mega hit, Wanted Dead Or Alive, “It’s all the same, only the names will change”.

People, things, events, activities and outcomes, tend to be very similar to those in the last 200 to 2,000 years. We still eat, communicate and travel, though maybe we’ve swapped hunting for grocery stores, telegraphs for mobiles and horses for aeroplanes. It’s all the same thing, just faster, better, shinier – but you still get the same outcome.

I have to look back about 200 years, at least, to remind myself of a truer sense of the basics of life: how things were without the modern world overlaid on it.

If you only looked back 50 years, you’d still think Final Salary Pensions were the norm and home ownership should be in the region of 70%, etc. You could fool yourself into thinking that things are getting worse or that this new generation is missing out on all the great things that the last one had.

The reality is though, that the last several decades have dramatically skewed many people’s view of the world and what expectations people might or should have. Now if you want to suffer the deep challenges of the Expectation versus Reality Gap, go right ahead and think about life based on recent history.

However, if you want to overcome this ER Gap trap that can lead you into darkness and a depressive state, then I highly recommend thinking about things through a 200 – 500 year lens to remind you how far things have actually progressed. And yet, it’s all the same.

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CategoriesActionThink About It

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

  – Andrew Carnegie

I love this quote. It is such a useful thought. It is a great way to understand people’s intent, sincerity and desire.

Replace “men” with “people” and it’s even better.

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