January 22, 2016
About two years ago, I rededicated myself to physical fitness in order to lower my blood sugar and improve my mental performance. I joined the David and Barton Gym in my office complex, hired a trainer and started going three or so times a week. While the whole point of working out was mind-body fitness, I learned some life lessons that have enhanced my professional performance as well. Today, if I don't work out, I feel like there's something lacking from my day. That's how any life-changing performance-improving process works. Here are the four lessons that I've taken away from the gym:
I'm curious: What life lessons have YOU learned in the gym? I'd love to read them in comments and am willing to append this post to add the best.
December 05, 2012
Sometimes, it's a computer on a desk. Others, it's your iPhone by the bedpost. Any device will deliver your email, a constant string of welcome and unwelcome chatter. And your curiosity kills you, just like a kid watching the post man stuff the mail box. You can't help but check it over and over again all the day long.
And right before you go to bed, just before you brush your teeth or tuck in the kids, you steal a glance at your Inbox. You just can't help yourself. In most cases, the chatter is innocuous. In the rarest of cases, something needs your attention before the next morning. And I mean, rare.
But then there's the monthly or quarterly sleep killer that never fails to show up: An email that pisses you off. Maybe someone has been sipping and sending, being curt when they should be kind. You read the note, wonder, "why would he say that to me!?" and either tap back a salvo or trudge off to bed to mutter to yourself. You rehearse how you are going to tell her off tomorrow.
It sneaks into your sleep psyche too, sometimes your dreams. You complain to your partner or friends at the gym the next day, getting worked up about a stupid email you read at 10:30 last night. Then you go off on the culprit the next day, who often sheepishly replies, "jeez, I didn't mean any thing by it!" Does this read familiar to you?
Email is a horrible way to express your intentions, so of all media to eat before bedtime, it's the worst one for your soul.
Lately, I've been passing by my laptop on the way to bed. It's not there. I don't drag the iPad to bed, I read out of my Kindle instead. And I'm sleeping better too. Nothing's gone wrong, either, so turns out, it was a waste of time. The next morning, over a cup of coffee, last night's email never reads that badly.
For more, check out this video, from one of my keynotes.Tweet
November 21, 2012
We were passing out gift certificates to employees, having some cake in the break room and knocking off early the Weds before Turkey Day. My admin got into a conversation with one of our maintainence employees about how much she was looking forward to Thanksgiving. She asked him, "what are you doing special tomorrow?" and he softly replied, "It will be another day, with too much food cooked, which we'll share with our friends and neighbors. Besides the sharing part, it's a typical day for us, because every day we give thanks for this bounty."
He and his family had moved to California from central Mexico several years before, and he was now a citizen with gainful employment and a way to send his two kids to college. "We never thought this could happen for us, and when it did, we made the decision that every day was Thanksgiving," he continued. "Except Nov 25, and that's the day we make more than we need. Then we have a ball feeding others with it. We can afford that once a year!"
This is the true spirit of what the Pilgrims meant when they set aside a day to give thanks. They never thought they'd find a new home, with so much bounty to feast on. Here's my takeaway: as Billye taught me, 'gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. If it were a feeling, you'd be feeling it all time!'
I'm going to find a Thanksgiving signal in every day, from home to work or even as I run errands. I'll rethink Nov 25 as a day I demonstrate my gratitude by helping others find their bounty. This way, my focus will be on what I have to share, and not what I lack.
What are you thankful for, every day of your life!? Tell us in comments and exercise your gratitude muscle.Tweet
January 10, 2012
The above image is taken from a great infographic on Techcrunch.
It's message is simple: The more you sit, the worse you'll feel. Recent studies suggest that of all of our bad contemporary habits, sitting all day is a killer. With the rise of the information age, more of us earn a living sitting down, working on computers. Our parents were more likely to sit less than a quarter as much as us and their parents more even less sedentary.
So why isn't this post titled, "Cube Farms Are The New Coal Mines" ???
Because sitting all day is your choice, not your fate. You can beat this disease risk by tweaking the way you work. It's my 2012 resolution to sit at least fifty percent less than I did last year. That's just as good as kicking my weekly french fries or losing ten pounds! Here are several ways you can sit less and live longer:
1. Stand Up While Working On Computers. There are several great standing desks, including hydrolic ones where you can sit (during meetings with others) or stand. My old boss at Yahoo, Anil, had his desk permanently setup where he stood while he worked. He had a tall stool for those times he needed to take a load off. He also had a foot rest, as this is the proper way to work on computers while standing. If you can't do any of this, yet work on a laptop, occassionally pull it out of your docking station or off your desk and work on a bar counter or some other standing friendly surface.
2. Talk Daily Walking Breaks. Walking is great exercise, and according to many doctors, a great prescription for too much sitting. Each day I carve out 20-30 minutes for 'walk-time' either outside or on a treadmill at my gym. When walking outside, I frequently conduct my daily (no-paperwork or web access required) phone calls. It's made a huge difference both in terms of my health and my mood state when I was finished.
3. Convert Work Into Walking. Conduct phone calls or meetings standing up and/or walking around. (You'll have shorter ones as a result!) Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Get up out of your chair to ask a quick question of a colleague, instead of sending an email 200 feet.
Change your habits, and beyond health, you'll be better at work. To be creative and confident, the formula for excellence, you need to feel good. Sitting all day drains your energy, creates distracting physical pain and reduces your endurance. And it's your choice. You quit smoking, and don't miss the smoking breaks - you won't miss sitting either!
April 19, 2011
April 20 has a variety of meanings leading to various celebrations - some in the moment and others for future generations. For me, it's a big day I'm conducting a media tour to support my new book, Today We Are Rich. One of the key points of the book is that you can give your way out of burnout. In principle four, Give To Be Rich, I echo Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's obsersvation: Generosity is a Wonder Drug.
In the spirit of Carpe Diem, I'm claiming 4-20 as a national day of giving, observing and sharing of emotions. Much like Dicken's Scrooge, anyone can lift their spirits dramatically by giving, helping, volunteering or directly donating to those in need. Researches have a name for the medicinal power of giving: Helper's High.
When you share what you have to help others, in that moment, you are worth something - and it will help you ease any pain. Looking for a blanket to throw over your blues? Here's what Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute For Research on Unlimited Love would deal to you: "To rid yourself of negative emotional states, push them aside with positive emotional states and the simplest way to do that is to just go out and lend a helping hand to somebody."
Looking for a buzz? Volunteer. Women participating in a study by the Institute For The Advancement Of Health reported that after volunteering time to help others, they had a physical experience similar to meditation or a vigorous workout. In a compilation of fifty studies recently published by Case Western University's Stephen Post, the exact phenom becomes clear: When we perceive that we've helped someone, we trigger the reward center in our brain, which produces Dopamines, Endorphins and Serotonins. These powerful chemicals give us feelings of profound joy, calmness and spiritual connection. We get as high as a kite, or gain the internal/chemical feeling of true Richness.
We lift off, emotionally, and it lasts for days, sometimes weeks. Researchers found that you could reinject yourself with the WonderDrug Of Helping just by thinking about it (but you need to focus your energies on recollecting all the details to generate empathy). During my book tour stop in Franklin TN, I had a cup of coffee with Sandy Griffin, fellow author and big giver to the homeless in greater Nashville. As she recounted how she secured some corrective shoes for one of her new friends, and the difference it would make to his quality of life - she lit up, high on the loving-giving experience. Proof positive that this research is true!
In his research, Dr. Post also observed that when we are in Helping Mode, our body produces Oxytocin, which is known as the "bonding hormone." When faced with a crisis or a problem, people on Helper's High spring into "Tend and Mend" mode, instead of the more aggressive "Fight Or Flight" mode. In other words, Helper's High brings out the emotion of trust and nurture.
And that's not all, choosy drug shoppers, you also get relief from Helping too! In a surprising study back in 1956, stay-at-home moms had less emotional stress markers than the breadwinners, because their mothering gave them natural relief. Post explains it this way: Helper's High (fueled by the brain's reward center) dominate Cortisol, the stress hormone. Help and you'll conquer stress, and according to research in teens as well as adults: You'll beat most depression too.
Giving is a WonderDrug, the only one to take when you need a dose of Euphoria or a cure for the blues or a stressful life. It lasts much longer, probably costs you less than substance or alcohol and more importantly - converts your selfish approach to 'coping with life' to a life of service and significance. Try it out today, you'll see. Turn up for 'helper's radar' and find an opportunity to do something helpful for someone. The research warns that writing a check or texting a donation will NOT produce the high, you need direct contact with someone you generally care about or feel sympathy towards. Give encouragement, a hot meal, a hand up or some volunteer time. Keep your eyes open for the difference you make and savor the high that will come. Make a note to reinject your psyche with the experience on May 1. It'll work then too!
Here's How To Spread The Word: Retweet this post if you a Twitter-head or click the Like button is Facebook is your thing. After you help someone today, either comment about your emotional experience (document your Helper's High) or share your deed and feeling on Twitter with #HighOnHelping as a hashtag. The more you talk about it, the more you are dealing a new solution to your extended network: Take Giving, It's a WonderDrug.
Thanks to Jon Acuff, Randy Elrod, Ken Coleman, Ron Edmonson and others for joining this campaign via their blogs, podcasts and networks. If you decide to participate, send me a note and I'll add you to the #HighOnHelping bandwagon.
April 04, 2011
It’s a miracle anyone can keep his or her mind focused and clear these days. We have content, devices and ubiquitous distribution all clamoring for our attention.
If you aren’t diligent, it’s easy to get swallowed up by it all.
That’s what happened to my friend Rick. A few years ago, he shared how depressed he was with me – and how we felt like he was losing his grip. When I asked him about his waking to sleeping info-routine, he chronicled a typical New Economy professional’s life: Wake up, check email, surf social stream, post/update, interact, slam coffee, get to work, keep up with the flood, graze on more when you get home, check email before sleep --- repeat the next day. And like Dr. Phil, I had to ask him, “how’s that working for you?” (For the full story, read the free excerpt “Feed Your Mind Good Stuff”)
Breakfast is not only the most important meal for your body, it sets your day’s mental tone as well. And, if you don’t possess some info-recovery zones in your life, you just may come down with NEDS – New Economy Depression Syndrome. A few years ago, I partnered with HeartMath Institute to conduct a survey/study on the impact of too-much-information and too-little-face-time. (read the full results here)
For those that can’t unplug and get real, the results aren’t pretty. Depression, anxiety, decreased performance and relationship difficulties are all outcomes of an insane information life – where technology owns you instead of you owning technology. I’ve found a few ways, as an author and blogger, to avoid this trap:
Pick your battles, measure the results and don’t get sucked into the Innovation Trap of social and new media. Quit something today.
This is from Principle 1 from Today We Are Rich
February 21, 2011
It's up to you: Either stew in your head or snap out of it.
This morning, I woke up in a bad mood. Yesterday, I'd received some get-busy (eg. bad) news and last night I tossed and turned, having nightmares to boot. This AM, I found myself rehearsing what I was going to say and grumbling to my wife Jacqueline. Fortunately, I caught myself, realizing, that being in a good mood is a prerequisite to being effective. So I launched a plan to flip my mood from crappy to happy.
By 1PM, I was well with the world again. Not because yesterday's problem was fixed, but because of a few things I set into motion to reverse my state of mind. If you have a bad mood AM (and you'll know it because you'll have a case of the Mutters), here's what you can do:
1 - Admit you are in a bad mood to your significant other or best friend. Confess that it's likely overblown and will ruin your day's work if you don't solve it. That will paint you into a positive corner.
2 - Get more information about the 'thing' that set your mood off. I know, sometimes a bad mood is more general than that, but often there is a stressor that triggers your negative feelings. Directly confront or engage with the most-responsible-party involved to find out more, and redefine the situation as one of those "I'll have to roll up my sleeves, but I'll live" situations. Focus on solutions, not problems. If you avoid the stressor or it's cause, thinking that today's not a good day for it - every spare moment will throw you back into your funk as you pontificate and guess.
3 - Take a few minutes to connect with family or friends. Focus some energy on how grateful you are for them, and take a walk outside with one of them (or call them on the phone, not to talk about your mood, but to talk about love or friendship). Don't stay alone on a bad mood day. At the same time, don't use this time to dump on those you care about. You might give them the same funk or spin them up into a frenzy. Just be.
4 - Give your body a treat. You mind is sending Cortisol through your system when your mood is bad, and that's not good for the body. Eat something healthy or even treat yourself to something tasty or sweet. Today is had some Pho and green tea and it's really helping.
5 - Focus your attention on purpose. Why are you here? Why are you doing your job? Why is today and important day for you and those you care about. If your focal point is the "Why" and not the "What", you'll find that your stressor or situation is very small in the bigger scheme of things.
This is a concept that's included in my next book, Today We Are Rich. Visit the book page and you can pre-order a copy and receive a free eBook excerpt with an entire principle! You can also visit its facebook page too.
November 20, 2009
I shot this video @ home on Monday, but waited until today to share it with you.
I want you to take some time off this weekend. As much as possible. The more you take off, the better you'll be next week. Check out this video clip for the screed:
July 27, 2009
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power Of Positive Thinking is packed with life changing ideas and easy to implement daily do's. One of them is simple: If you are worried, do something physical. According to Dr. Peale, you won't get any better sitting and stewing!
May 29, 2009
Eat a lunch that gives you energy and health.