Don’t Let Your Inner Chimp Ruin the Party

Sometimes it feels like life is just one giant test.  If you studied, you’re ready to pass with flying colours.  But if you haven’t, everything feels harder than it actually is.

Last week, I started to have some problems with a relatively new computer.  After several hours on the phone with tech support, I eventually had to go to an Apple store nearly an hour away.

With our level of dependency on technology, not having a functioning computer can really set you back.

I had planned on doing some final planning for 2019 and had clients to serve -- with no main computer.  I ended up losing almost two whole days of business time.

We all have situations like this.  We plan and often have a very fixed idea of how our day is going to go, but then life intervenes and we have to quickly react to a new situation.

And then the thoughts creep in. They’re always there, thoughts. We have literally thousands and thousands each day.  Sometimes, when under perceived pressure, they can turn people into a schizophrenic chimpanzee.

This situation had woken up my chimp, and he was ready to party!

Some of the things I was ‘thinking’ (and that’s all they were, just thoughts) were crazy.

I was judging the people trying to help me for being inept (in my mind), moaning about how crap life is because of my business interruptions (in my mind).

I was creating dramas about the very real impact this downtime would have on my business for 2019 (yep, that’s right, in my mind). And so on and so forth.

You’ve probably guessed I was frustrated that I couldn’t do what I had planned to do.

My chimp was having one hell of a tea party.

Then I slowed down.  Took a few breaths.  Got some perspective on the actual situation.

I asked myself, ‘What are the benefits here?’

One of the answers that came up is that this was a little test to see how I cope with challenges.  To see if I can walk my talk as a coach.

Suddenly, I was able to approach the malfunctioning technology with calmness and acceptance.  I realised that getting angry, impatient and lashing out at those who helped me wasn’t making the situation any better.  In fact, they could have made it much worse.

“Remain calm, serene, always in command of yourself. You will then find out how easy it is to get along.”
-- Paramahansa Yogananda

And that’s not who I want to be in the world.

I chose to ruin my chimp’s party.

There’s no magic to this. It’s patient, consistent work over a long period of time.  My practices in meditation and mindfulness help me get through situations like this. I do the homework, so that when the test appears, I know I’m ready.

This is true for all people classified as high performers.  They have a level of commitment that brings with it the discipline to practice consistently at a certain skill or set of skills.  Think about someone like David Beckham, or Jonny Wilkinson, or Michael Jordan. They all had one main thing in common -- they practiced day in, day out. When everyone else had gone home for the day, they were still there working on their game so when the time came to take that pressured free kick, conversion, or three pointer at the end of the game, they were ready.

They had their chimp under control.

I’m sharing this because you could do this too.  You could choose to take 10, 15, 20 minutes out of each day first thing and do some mindfulness practice.  I’m really no expert in this, but I’ve found a lot of value in apps such as Oak (Apple only) and Headspace (Apple and Android).  They’re really easy to use.  Functionality, or which app to choose, isn’t the issue with meditation -- it’s about commitment.

Commitment to doing the practice to help you slow things down and get in touch with reality when things don’t pan out as you hoped.  Commitment is often the problem when it comes to growth.

How many times have you joined a gym and then never made the most of the membership?

Things happen every day in life that test us.  That’s what life presents. Challenge and support.  Two sides of the same coin.

Life really is just one big test of how you’ve developed yourself, how you approach life.  One big opportunity to grow and learn. One way of seeing what your practice is like.

That’s the game of life, for me anyway.

Or you can play the role of victim and curse the fates that put you in a frustrating situation.  You can always find someone to blame. I often do, when I let the chimp out.

But does that approach get you anywhere?  Getting angry doesn’t solve the problem. Blaming others doesn’t solve the problem.  Judging people and situations doesn’t solve anything.

It merely adds more caffeine and sugar to the chimps’ party going on in your mind.

We can all agree to this in theory.  No one wants to get mad when things don’t go to plan.  Of course we want to be calm and measured in our approach.  But theory doesn’t mean much if you don’t practice.  You can’t read one book about mindfulness and expect a magical transformation.

You have to work on being calm and mindful consistently.  Slow your reaction times so that you can approach a challenge with the aim of getting it resolved -- not getting angry at everyone around you.

Working on your inside -- your approach to life, how you deal with challenges -- always benefits your outside.  At work, at home, in relationships, in parenting.

When you’re with a fussy child, use your calm approach to help settle them.  If you get angry and ruffled, it will only add emotional fuel to the child’s inner fire.  It will give their chimp even more energy.

When you have a frustrating team member, be mindful of what they are experiencing so you can help them.  Be the change you want to see in them. If you judge, blame, and get angry, their chimp will join your chimp and bring extra cakes laden with sugar.

Don’t choose to have a tea party. Choose mindfulness and being present.

It’s not always easy.  It takes hard work: small, consistent actions every day to build your resilience.

Once you’ve learned that skill, you can approach your whole life with more acceptance and gratitude.

See it as one big growth game.  When you do that, it becomes far more fun.  And, chances are, you’ll be ready to take the winning opportunity when it presents itself.

The computer is fixed and I’m back on track.  I even got an upgrade that’s made my tech setup far better.  Every cloud, eh?

And I’m still doing my homework consistently.  My chimp is taking a nap … for now.

What do you need to work on, on your inner game, in order to create a better year for yourself in 2019?

With love and wellness,

David.

Note: Image courtesy of The Daily Mail


It's All About Who You're Being ... Not What You're Doing

Life can be such a wonderful teacher if you’re open to learning. I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks back called Everyone Is Watching and how important it is to lead by example. Something happened recently that was a brilliant reflection of this in my own life -- without me even knowing it.

I’m an early riser. I like being awake when the rest of the world is still sleeping. With a young family, this time is sacred to me. I can get up early and work on myself before the hustle and bustle of our regular family routine kicks in. I have some simple healthy habits that I practice every day.

My typical routine is to rise at 5:30 a.m. I meditate, write in my journal and either read something inspirational for about 30 minutes or do something creative before I get the rest of my day started. It helps me begin the day with a really solid mindset. Then, I wake up my boys (7 and 5) at 7:00 a.m and I go into ‘Dad mode’.

One morning not too long ago, I heard the telltale patter of little feet coming down the hallway. I glanced at the clock only to realize it was about 6:30 a.m.

Those little rascals, I thought. What are they doing out of bed so early?

When I asked them that exact question, they answered in the only way children can: “We ran out of sleep, Daddy.”

Immediately followed by: “What are you doing, Daddy?”

I couldn’t help but smile. Their innocent way of explaining why they’d woken up early was beautiful and it immediately dissolved any annoyance I had at having my routine changed. I explained to the boys that I meditate, journal and read every morning to create a good start to the day.

They surprised me with their next question:

“Can we read with you?”

Always ready to encourage my children to read, I answered of course, and they ran off to get their school books.

Even before they came back, I was becoming aware of something magical unfolding. Rocco, my older son, has been somewhat resistant to reading since he started school. The fact that he wanted to read -- most likely because Daddy was doing it -- was a huge revelation for me.

I was providing an example of a healthy habit without even realizing it. There was no push from me to get him to read. It was a natural desire and curiosity that emerged inside him to want to read -- because he’d seen me doing it and something inside him clicked.

Because of who I was being, it directly impacted what my sons were doing. This is an important distinction that can really serve your whole life if you understand and practice it.

We all sat there on the sofa. It was such a lovely moment. Rocco read his book and Enzo sounded his letters and words out loud (he’s still learning), I thought about how showing instead of telling was making such a difference. Telling a child who doesn’t particularly like reading is a challenge. Showing that child what you can gain by reading is much more effective.

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

It was a frequent quote from my mother. You may have heard similar during your upbringing, perhaps? Usually, it means we want people to follow our words, not necessarily our actions. It’s the polar opposite of leading by example, and I always used to challenge people in my life who said that but acted differently, even when I was little.

But what happens when your words and your actions are in conflict? What effect does that have on the people around you?

If you’re constantly after your team members to be on time for meetings but then you stroll in five minutes late, what is the message you’re giving to them?

If you insist on prompt communication with clients, but ignore the emails from your own team, what is the message?

If you tell your team that they should all respect each other, but then you talk about them behind their backs, what is the message?

If you tell your children to be kind to each other and then always argue with your partner, what is the message?

Your words and your actions need to be in alignment. That’s what you signed up for when you chose leadership.

Always be conscious that others around you are paying attention to what you do. It could be because you’re the boss or their father or their friend -- but in some way they respect you and look up to you.

Raise your own self-awareness so that the message you are sending out is consistent. Think about how you can provide a healthy example for the people around you to follow because it will be far more powerful and effective than the ‘Do as I say not as I do’ strategy. And, as with everything in your life, you get to choose how you show up each day. The power is in your hands to create the example you desire -- one tiny moment at a time.

Practice being vs. doing. You’ll see more rewards than you can imagine both inside yourself and outside yourself.

Love and wellness,

David.

P.S. A big thank you to everyone who attended my annual Get Clarity event last week. Such a great day and I appreciate you all playing full out to help get clear about what you want to create in your life in 2019.


The Perfect Plan

I thought I had the perfect plan. We were taking a trip to see my wife’s family. There usually aren’t any problems on the motorway, so we packed up and headed out. The journey should normally take a little over an hour.

It took three hours!

There was work on the motorway, diversion signs that were inaccurate and when I eventually stopped to get some directions, we still made a few wrong turns before finally getting on with the journey.

I was pretty calm in the moment, though my wife was a little less so. And the boys were clearly getting tired of being in the car (they’re five and seven). But we enjoyed our visit and I found a much quicker route home.

Afterward, instead of thinking about the joy in seeing family members, the thing I spoke about the most with others who asked how the trip went was the stress of getting there.

When I asked my two boys about the trip the next day, they had completely forgotten the extra hours in the car. They only remembered seeing their family and having a good time.

Same situation -- different recollection of events.

My children are my best teachers. Their ability to completely let go of the negative part of the day and only remember the positive shows how much we can learn from them.

They didn’t get ‘hung up’ about something that didn’t go their way. They dealt with it and moved on.

They were present vs. living in the past.

Back to the journey. I didn’t actually plan, check the traffic, or look for roadworks before we left because it’s a journey we have all done many, many times. I assumed it would be okay.

Even if I had planned, we would have still hit challenges on the way due to the signage being placed incorrectly.

Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.”

We can plan down to the smallest detail, but there is always the possibility that our plans will not work out as expected. Sometimes it’s a mere inconvenience. Sometimes it feels like a punch in the mouth.

It’s healthy to plan, but if we’re too attached to those plans, we can overcompensate by letting the diversion get the better of us.

Planning is one thing but it’s actually more important to work on what you can control -- your own reactions to situations outside of yourself that don’t go to plan. This is what’s sometimes called ‘working on yourself’ and, for me, life is one HUGE feedback system showing what we need to work on personally in order to grow and transform.

How you react to the deviations in your plans is entirely up to you. You can let the fact that it didn’t work out as planned throw you off and affect the rest of your day.

Or you can understand that life is full of unexpected events. Accept them, revise the plan and move on.

Much like my children did. They didn’t keep talking about the roadworks, the traffic, the wrong signs, the delay … they became present and had fun in the moment with their family.

Children have a resilience that we tend to lose as adults. As we grow up, we think we have more control over the things that happen to us. Sometimes we do, but sometimes we don’t. But we always have the ability to control how we react to events.

As the year winds down and we get ready for 2019, we’ll all be making plans of some sort. I encourage you to think about what you want next year.

What do you want for your relationships?

What do you want for your health?

What do you want for your business?

Go ahead and make your plans. At the same time, expect that your plans won't always go as you wish. You will get punched in the mouth, and, that’s okay, as long as you learn how to get up and go again.

How can you prepare yourself for life’s unexpected events? You can’t … that’s why they’re called unexpected … but you can work on yourself to learn how to stay calm, be present, and make better choices when things don’t work out as you imagined they would. This, for me, is one of the best uses of time you can invest in.

What elements do you need to work on inside yourself to help you improve the way in which you react when things don’t go to plan?

With love and wellness,

David.

P.S. If all else fails when your plans fail, you could always take Sean Stephenson's approach ... watch this video to be inspired!


commitment

Are You Truly Committed To What You Want?

 

Commitment and accountability are closely linked in several ways. How? Unless you’re fully committed to following through with your top priorities, you won’t get to create the life you want. If you’re not committed to learning about how to master accountability, nothing will change.

Being committed to things that matter to you in life helps you turn your dreams into realities. Being committed allows you to tap into an extra fuel source to follow through with the things that will help you achieve your key goals in life - even when you don’t feel like it. In this age there are literally millions of distractions pulling us from side-to-side to grab attention and time.

Because of this, the skill of commitment is dwindling inside of ourselves, leading to constant busy-ness, but lack of progress in key areas of our lives. Learn how to commit to what matters most to you, and how that will lead to a more fulfilled and successful life.

Take a moment to consider this question:

What have you committed to in your life consistently?

As in:

All in.

100%.

All the way - truly committed to.

Commitment gives structure to do all the things you care about and helps you follow through.

Commitment isn’t something you can choose to turn on and off, if you want to be the best you can be. It’s compulsory, all the time.

There will be positives and negatives along your journey when you commit to something all the way, but that’s the deal.

Now, take a moment to do a simple exercise. Take a blank piece of paper, or a notebook, Word doc, anything you can capture writing on.

Divide the paper into two halves vertically so you have two columns. Make a list of all the things you have fully committed to in your life in the left-hand column.

Then, next to each item on your list, write down the benefits associated with committing 100% to these things.

Now create two columns on a fresh piece of paper and then in the left-hand column write down all the things in your life you wanted to commit to, started with good intentions, but then stopped, for whatever reason. Opposite each item write down what the downside has been of falling short of being fully committed.

This simple exercise isn’t a silver bullet to your commitment challenges, but it should start to raise your level of awareness about the benefits of being 100% committed to things. It should also help you start to see what happens when you’re not fully committed to things, how much energy it can use, and the impact on your overall life.

The list should also highlight what your relationship to commitment is like. Maybe your first list is literally 1 item, and your second list is 50 items long. What clue is this giving you about you and your relationship to commitment? Maybe you find it hard?

Maybe your first list is full to the brim and your second list is minimal. What is this telling you? Does commitment come easy to you?

There is a wonderful paradox as far as commitment is concerned. It’s kind of like a little secret that could really help you if your relationship to commitment is not as healthy as you’d like. Want to know what it is?

Okay, so here goes.

Commitment = Freedom.

Yes. It’s true.

Most people think the other way round – that it takes away the freedom.

Nope.

How?

The structure and control of being committed to things help you have more freedom in the long run, because you can say no to the things that fall outside of the items you’re committed to.

In your life at the moment, where have you agreed to commit all the way but your actions and behaviours are telling a different story?

Maybe you’re avoiding committing to being the best partner you can be, or the best parent.

Maybe you’re not committing 100% to your career, or health ─ even though, if you did, the positive impact on your life, and the lives of those close to you, would be huge.

If that’s true to you, you may have a values gap – where what you say you value and what your actions actually show have a chasm between them.

For example, you may say you value being a parent, however, you actively find ways to avoid spending time with your kids and use work as a smokescreen because it’s more comfortable for you.

Whatever you truly value you should fully commit to, otherwise you can’t value it as much as you think.

What do you truly value in life and how are you committing to it?

Are you showing integrity in how you behave in line with your values?

To paraphrase Gandhi, “Integrity is saying what you think and doing what you say”.

How committed are you to behaving with integrity and fully committing to it. Remember, commitment = freedom.

Are you up for a challenge?

Pick one thing from your list of items you’ve not fully committed to in your life (even though you want to) and choose to go all in with it over the next 90 days.

Only pick one thing; the biggest changes start with small baby steps consistently over time. Maybe you want to commit to being a more patient and present parent. If that’s the case, start practising it now, today. Small incremental improvements over time make for massive gains.

What impact would committing to this one thing have on your life?

Bill Gates once said, “People overestimate what they can achieve in 12 months and underestimate what they can achieve over 10 years”.

Slowing things down and being very clear about what you need to be committed to in your life, the things that matter to you most, will help you achieve everything you desire ─ even when the going gets tough. Be it 12 months or 10 years, you’ll be amazed at what going all in with commitment can do for you and those close to you.

Wishing you health and happiness,

David.

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*A version of this blog post previously appeared in my ebook, Mastering Accountability: Getting Sh*t Done In A Busy World


Everyone Is Watching

We sometimes forget that we’re in the spotlight.  Whether you’re a parent or an entrepreneur – and particularly if you’re both – you are always on display.  Your behaviour is always under scrutiny. And sometimes we see it reflected back in unexpected ways.

At a gathering of friends recently, I met up with Greg, who I hadn’t seen in quite some time.  He has three children and the youngest is his daughter, Sophie. We talked about what it’s like being a dad, all the challenges, all the ups and downs.

After a few minutes, I realized Greg was a bit frustrated with Sophie.  He thought she was hard to handle and said was “something else!” Greg told me that when he had accidentally dropped a cup of water the other day, Sophie had stomped to him, wagging her finger, saying, “No, Daddy!  No more. Be careful! Very dangerous!” Greg was gobsmacked, saying she had “such an attitude.”

We chatted for awhile and then drifted into other conversations.  A short time later, Sophie did something her father didn’t like. I watched Greg go over to her and scold her about being careful just the same way that she had scolded him.

Greg couldn’t see that her habitual behaviour and mannerisms were a direct reflection of the way that he was leading his child.

No matter what you do – as a parent, as a leader -- you are being watched every minute of every day.

The people around you are taking their cues from you.  They are watching every miniscule detail about how you show up in the world.  Whether you have a team you lead or a family you lead, you are setting the tone for how those around you behave.

If you turn up late to a staff meeting, you’re telling your team that your time is more important than their time.  Is that how they will treat your customers?

If you send curt, short replies to email without any warmth or heart, guess what you’re doing?  You’re telling those around you it’s okay to treat others that way – again, maybe your customers.

If you criticize someone in public in front of your team, you’re giving them permission to do the same as opposed to praising in public and giving feedback and making agreements in private.

If you are whispering behind their backs as a leader, you are basically saying that it’s okay for any team member to do that about anyone.

It’s very difficult for people to see that their business is a direct reflection of them and their leadership style. The same way that children can pick up on every little thing you do, your staff is the same way.

You need to be consciously aware of your behaviour and how you are treating others.  It’s a double-edged sword. If you’re a conscious leader and setting the right tone for your team, you’re in great shape.

But if you’re not a conscious leader, having your team follow your lead can be dangerous.  You need to be committed to raising your own level of awareness – as an entrepreneur, as a parent.

The more aware you are, the more you can model the kind of behavior you want to see.

Think about how your teams – or your children – behave. Where is that behaviour coming from?

Where are they getting their cues?  It might be time for you to ask yourself some hard questions about your leadership and how you are leading your own life – as a parent, as a partner, with your health, with your business.

The new year is coming.

What do you want to transform in 2019?

With love and wellness,

David.

P.S. This TEDTalk about having a coach is a must-see.  Great insight about how getting coached can significantly increase your performance. It's not how good you are now; it's how good you're going to be that really matters.


Going All In On Fatherhood

I happened to catch something on TV a couple of weeks ago that really got me thinking.

Fatherhood is one of the most difficult things you'll ever do in your life. Some men can't see the incredible gift that fatherhood can bring.  Yes, it's hard.  Yes, you'll feel like you have no idea what you're doing.

But the rewards you get from being involved in your children's lives from the very beginning are priceless.

Wishing you love, health and happiness,

David