According to legend, King Solomon shared this with a sultan who requested a sentence that would always be true, in good time and in bad. His answer:

This, too, shall pass

We are in quarantine here in Spain. A state of emergency. We are now in week 9, and happily there have been some relaxing of the lockdown over the last 2 weeks. Exercise and kids going out for a walk are now allowed.

When times are good: this too shall pass.

When times are difficult: this too shall pass.

Change is the only constant. Our ability to adapt is the question.

What I find hard: Letting go of the visions that I have had for this year… summer adventures, growth of our business, conferences that I love speaking at around the world… It is hard to let go of that life that I had planned and accept the life of Zoom calls and homeschool.

This last week I have hit a patch of unfocussed, unmotivated… a sense of groundhog day… days losing sense of which day it is and what happened last week or yesterday…

How are you coping? What’s going well? Where are you stuck?

I heard David Meerman Scott share this question in a recent Elevate podcast episode with host Bob Glazer. He was asked by someone “Imagine you are in a room with 2,000 people. What could you confidently say you are the best in the room at?”

Take a moment to reflect on this question. I imagined myself in a room full of entrepreneurs, leaders, teachers… and wasn’t sure I could give a completely confident answer.

Now imagine that you have 20 years before you step into that room… What do you want to be able to say in 20 years that you have done the work to truly be a master, to have established a reputation for excellence, to have made a difference? Write that down.

If you liked this post, you will also like Excellence: the Path to Mastery and Finding Purpose.

“You can’t free anybody else and you can’t serve anybody else unless you free yourself” 

Nelson Mandela

You are not an accident.  You are a singular piece in the giant jigsaw puzzle that is this world.  This jigsaw puzzle is not a 50 piece puzzle, nor a 250 piece puzzle…  it is a 7 billion piece puzzle.  I find it frustrating when my daughter and I put together a 50 piece puzzle and find that there are only 49 pieces.  We can’t finish the game.  The great puzzle needs your piece.  Whatever you are given, you need to pass it on with integrity, humility and generosity.

You are not a Cog in a Machine.  Photo: iansand
You are not a Cog in a Machine. Photo: iansand

The greatest anger is the anger at ourselves for not living up to what we know we are capable of.  Hell is not after death, hell is the moment before death when a human being looks back on all the wasted potential.

“What you can be, you must be” Abraham Maslow.

Honestly expressing yourself.

The greatest gift you can give to those around you is your own shining self belief and glorious sense of meaning in what you do.  If you don’t have it, only you can do the work to get it.  If you have it, only you can keep doing what it takes to keep it.

The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.  Love is not easy.  Love is hard.  Doing the work that needs to get done, overcoming the devil in me that avoids the work is the course of love.  Allowing the resistance, the procrastination to win is the course of apathy.  Apathy leads to self-hate, which builds to resentment and then is shared with others in bitterness and cruelty.

The 3 Escuses

The Resistance

Stephen Pressfield speaks powerfully about the Resistance. It is a force within each of us that stops us from doing the work that really matters.

The 3 big voices of my personal resistance are:

  1. Comparison
  2. Pointlessness
  3. Fear

The Last 5% is the Hard Part

Starting is easy.  There are no prizes for starting the marathon.  You get the medal for finishing. Most people I know are good at starting.  Few people I know are good at finishing.

The closer you get to the end, the stronger the Resistance grows.

“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”

Pablo Picasso

Here are a few of many ways I bring these voices into my life to procrastinate and avoid finishing important work.

  1. They won’t let me
  2. I am too young
  3. I am too old
  4. I am only one person
  5. I don’t know enough
  6. I am not a guru
  7. This could be embarrassing
  8. This will be embarrassing
  9. This is too touchy-feely
  10. I won’t get paid for this
  11. This isn’t business stuff
  12. I have to finish the things I have already started
  13. Seth Godin has already said it better than I can
  14. I’ll do it tomorrow/later/after this coffee
  15. Who am I to think I know something special about this?
  16. I’ve got plenty of time next week
  17. I’ve got plenty of time this year
  18. I’ll do it this summer
  19. I’ll do it after the summer
  20. I need to do a little bit more research
  21. Who’s going to read this anyway?
  22. [¡¡¡ insert your own excuse here 😉 !!!!]

That’s just 21…  I have many, many more…

Original article posted at Forbes 20th January 2020 How to be Happier and More Productive in 2020.

I’ve spent the last 16 years working with CEOs and entrepreneurs to help them get clear on their purpose, get great people around them, execute their decisions and enjoy their life in the process. 

The fact that you are reading this indicates that you are purposeful. The challenge for leaders is how this effectiveness leads to an enhanced quality of life.

How to be happier and more purposeful in 2020 and beyond

Author and Harvard professor David Maister says “success is enjoying your life. If you don’t enjoy what you do, the company of the people you do it with, and the impact you are making in the world… it cannot be considered success.”

A happy life is not the absence of pain. In achieving anything of significance: pain is guaranteed, but misery is optional. Anyone who has climbed Everest has been through a lot of pain. All significant achievements of meaning require the willing acceptance of the pain necessary to make the journey, to do the work, to learn the skills. 

7 mindsets that connect a purposeful life to a happy life

  1. Think about what you can achieve in 10 years, not in a week. We so underestimate what we can achieve in a decade, and we so overestimate what we can achieve in a day or a week. Shift your focus to what you can achieve over the next decade. Where can your health, your relationships, your financial wellbeing, your skill mastery be in a decade? It is far more inspiring to see a decade of achievement than a weeks worth of tasks.
  2. Think in terms of who you will become (character), not what you will have (possessions.) I have been running leadership retreats for many years now. As we come to the end of any year, one of the questions that I ask leaders to reflect and share during the retreat is “what three words represent who you will become in 2020?” It forces thinking about how I will be, rather than what I will accomplish. My three words for 2020 are Generous, Focused and Kind. What three words would you choose?
  3. Think in terms of process goals, not results goals. I spent over a decade leading sales organisations… and we are taught not to let sales people share results, but activity. A results goal could be to grow my business by 20%. A process goal is to make two more calls per day. A results goal is to lose 10 kilograms. A process goal is to leave two bites unfinished on every plate.
  4. Think about changes in your environment, not your willpower. If you want to eat less chocolate, don’t have it in your home. If you want to do more exercise, put your sports gear on as soon as you wake up. If want to use Facebook less, delete the app. High performers don’t have greater willpower, they remove the distractions from their life.
  5. Don’t negotiate with your excuses. As soon as you decide to take any action, your mind will come up with reasons why not to do it. Don’t engage in this discussion. Your excuses have access to all of your intelligence and they will win. 
  6. Fix the little things, and the big things can take care of themselves. Over the last 3 years I’ve had a habit of noting down each afternoon my “love/hate” list. I note everything that has added to my enjoyment of life on the left, and everthing (and everyone) who has detracted from my life on the right. It is often small things that detract. I have acted to remove anything that consistently appears in my “hate” list from my environment. 
  7. Think why, who, how… not what, when, how…. In every Vistage CEO decision coaching process, the first question we ask is “why is this important to you?” And we will stay with this question until we truly understand why… before we move to who can help and how to execute. Start with why. Do what is important, not what is convenient.

There are 3 primary drivers of results in life:

  1. Your luck (randomness)
  2. Your strategy (choices)
  3. Your actions (habits)

Nice tweet from James Clear, the author of the book Atomic Habits.

There is a fourth driver of Results

4. how I respond to what happens

I am reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life at the moment. I love the depth and the conviction that comes across from Jordan’s writing (and his youtube videos).

One of the things that really stuck with me from the early chapters was Jordan’s sense that Heaven and Hell are here with us on earth… and that our response to the events of our life can allow them to truly become Hell.

He shared a story of an old man dying of cancer in a hospital. This is tragic. What makes it hell is what is happening between the adult children of the man in the hospital room as he lies dying. There is a bitterness between them and an anger about how the inheritance will be split. The response of these adult children is to make life worse for each other.

Life is Tragic. Humans can make it Hell.

Old man dying is a tragic part of life.

His children fighting over the inheritance is how to turn tragedy into hell.

There is no situation so bad that we cannot make it worse with our own reaction to it. Do we learn from the event, or do we allow it to push us into an emotional state where we make life worse for others because of our own feelings of hurt and anger and desire for revenge.

The newspaper is full of other people’s problems. Do they bother you?

The world is full of people who don’t know what you expect from them. Does it bother you when they don’t do what you expect?

How can you have a good day when you give 8 billion people control over your state of mind?

It is an active choice to allow my state of mind to be affected by another’s action. I need to decide upon an ideal expected action. I need to compare their actual action to my imagined ideal. I need to allow myself to get angry, resentful, distressed and bothered about their failure to live up to my ideal.

I can change the whole world, or I can be very careful about how I set my expectations of other people.

Choose carefully what you allow to bother you.

Rule 6 “Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world”

Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life

If you allow everything to be a problem, you give yourself a powerful excuse to do nothing about the few things you can actually improve right now.

Further Resources on Becoming Intentional

As we are coming up to the end of 2019, here are a couple of resources to become more intentional about what matters to you in 2020:

Thanks to Dan Sullivan’s recent podcast for this idea… Why Irritation affects your success if you’re not paying attention to it.

There are 3 reasons why a human being makes a change in their habits. If you want to effect a change in your life, or help another with a change that they say they want to make in their life – there are 3 levers that can increase the likelihood that change happens.

The 3 Reasons we Change

  1. Pain – When my perception of current pain is visceral, then I will make the effort required to change. Someone can be in great pain but be unaware of the degree to which they are suffering. If I help myself or other become fully aware of the current pain, change can begin.
  2. Vision – When I can see with extreme clarity where I want to get to, it is more likely that changes will happen. If I have a vague sense of where I want to go, nothing will change. As I make that vision clearer and clearer, more and more believable… change will begin to happen.
  3. Fear of Future Consequences – When I can see the future pain that is coming if I do not change, and I feel it viscerally as if it was a current pain, change can begin to happen. Often I know that there are future consequences, but I haven’t truly taken the time to visualise and feel how bad it will be.

If you want someone to change, including yourself, don’t tell them what to do. Help them feel the current pain, see clearly the vision or feel the future consequences. This is how we help change happen.

This video is about 4 ways to bring more luck into your life.

We Make our own Luck. 

Why do some people lead happy successful lives whilst other face repeated failure and sadness? What enables some people to have successful careers whilst others find themselves stuck in jobs they hate? Can unlucky people do anything to improve their luck?

In the book The Luck Factor, Professor Richard Wiseman (good name for a professor!) shares his research into luck. He has spent over a decade investigating the beliefs and experiences of lucky and unlucky people.

If you think you’re unlucky, that bad luck may be the direct result of you believing you’re unlucky.

The founder of Strategic Coach, and one of my favourite podcasters, Dan Sullivan plans to live to 156 years old. It will allow him to see 3 different centuries (19,20,21).

What will it take for him to live that long? He’ll need to eat well. He’ll need to stay physically and mentally fit. He’ll need medicine to come up with some new techniques to extend life…. but more than all of this, he will need a powerful motivation to remain alive.

What gives a powerful motivation to remain alive? In an interview with Peter Diamandis, Dan and Pete shared the perspective that if you have friends, money and purpose: you’ll have a pretty damn good reason to keep on living.

Here’s the original podcast episode: Living to 156 Years old

If you love podcasts, you’ll like my post The world’s best individual podcast episodes

I was doing some mindless twitter surfing just after lunch today, and I stumbled upon a gold mine. I love the thread that followed this tweet:

and here’s some of the answers that really resonated with me…

If you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will.

When your child wants to have a talk, drop what you’re doing and listen to them.

Only take advice from someone you’re willing to switch places with.

Pay attention to what they do, not what they say.

Don’t complain about what you permit.

The best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing you can do is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing

Run

Don’t ask why the addiction, instead… ask why the pain.

and… Be humble enough to do what you can until you have the strength to do what you want.

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

If you are interested in my answers, I have a couple of posts that are big lists of lessons that I have learnt from others: 17 Daily Personal Habits for a Fulfilling Life and The Complete Guide to Personal Habits: 158 Positive Reflections on Life

What is your answer? I’d love to hear it in the comments below 😉