This post is a summary of the MIT Raising Teens report which is available on the MIT website (links provided below the post).

“An extraordinary body of research exists on the powerful ways in which parents and families make a difference in the lives of teens. Yet, little of this knowledge has been reaching the media, policymakers, practitioners, and parents.”

Dr Rae Simpson, Director of the MIT WorkLife Center

The 10 Tasks of Adolescence

There are 10 major adjustments that need to happen as a child moves through adolescence towards becoming an adult.

  1. Adjust to maturing bodies and feelings – Teens are faced with adjusting to bodies that as much as double in size and that acquire sexual characteristics, as well as learning to manage the accompanying biological changes and sexual feelings and to engage in healthy sexual behaviours. Their task also includes establishing a sexual identity and developing the skills for romantic relationships.
  2. Develop and apply abstract thinking skills – Teens typically undergo profound changes in their way of thinking during adolescence, allowing them more effectively to understand and coordinate abstract ideas, to think about possibilities, to try out hypotheses, to think ahead, to think about thinking, and to construct philosophies.
  3. Develop and apply a more complex level of perspective taking – Teens typically acquire a powerful new ability to understand human relationships, in which, having learned to “put themselves in another person’s shoes,” they learn to take into account both their perspective and another person’s at the same time, and to use this new ability in resolving problems and conflicts in relationships.
  4. Develop and apply new coping skills in areas such as decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution – Related to all these dramatic shifts, teens are involved in acquiring new abilities to think about and plan for the future, to engage in more sophisticated strategies for decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution, and to moderate their risk taking to serve goals rather than jeopardise them.
  5. Identify meaningful moral standards, values, and belief systems – Building on these changes and resulting skills, teens typically develop a more complex understanding of moral behavior and underlying principles of justice and care, questioning beliefs from childhood and adopting more personally meaningful values, religious views, and belief systems to guide their decisions and behavior.
  6. Understand and express more complex emotional experiences – Also related to these changes are shifts for teens toward an ability to identify and communicate more complex emotions, to understand the emotions of others in more sophisticated ways, and to think about emotions in abstract ways.
  7. Form friendships that are mutually close and supportive – Although youngsters typically have friends throughout childhood, teens generally develop peer relationships that play much more powerful roles in providing support and connection in their lives. They tend to shift from friendships based largely on the sharing of interests and activities to those based on the sharing of ideas and feelings, with the development of mutual trust and understanding.
  8. Establish key aspects of identity – Identity formation is in a sense a lifelong process, but crucial aspects of identity are typically forged at adolescence, including developing an identity that reflects a sense of individuality as well as connection to valued people and groups. Another part of this task is developing a positive identity around gender, physical attributes, sexuality, and ethnicity and, if appropriate, having been adopted, as well as sensitivity to the diversity of groups that make up American society.
  9. Meet the demands of increasingly mature roles and responsibilities – Teens gradually take on the roles that will be expected of them in adulthood, learning to acquire the skills and manage the multiple demands that will allow them to move into the labor market, as well as to meet expectations regarding commitment to family, community, and citizenship.
  10. Renegotiate relationships with adults in parenting roles – Although the task of adolescence has sometimes been described as “separating” from parents and other caregivers, it is more widely seen now as adults and teens working together to negotiate a change in the relationship that accommodates a balance of autonomy and ongoing connection, with the emphasis on each depending in part on the family’s ethnic background.

The 5 Basics of Parenting Adolescents

What role do parents play in helping teenagers make these 10 adjustments?

The Raising Teens Project identified 5 significant ways in which parents can influence healthy adolescent development:

  1. Love and Connect – Offer support and acceptance while affirming the teen’s increasing maturity.
  2. Monitor and Observe – Let teens know you are paying attention.
  3. Guide and Limit – Uphold clear boundaries while encouraging increased competence.
  4. Model and Consult – Provide continual support for decision making, teaching by example and ongoing dialogue.
  5. Provide and Advocate – Provide a supportive home environment and a network of caring adults.

This post is a summary of the MIT Raising Teens report that can be found here: MIT Raising Teens. Learn about the 5 Basics of Parenting Adolescents here.

If an oyster keeps all the sand out of his shell, he lives a life of comfort. At the end of his life, you find a dead oyster… in an empty shell.

If a grain of sand enters the oyster’s shell, he loses his life of comfort. In order to protect himself from irritation, the oyster will begin covering the sand with layers of nacre. Layer upon layer cover the grain of sand until the pearl is formed.

When an oyster is bothered by a grain of sand, it creates a pearl.

If the oyster lives this uncomfortable period in their life, at the end of his life you find more than a dead oyster… you find a pearl.

Don’t wish for less problems.

Our problems allow us to create our pearls. When we remove challenge from our life, we remove growth from our life.

If you liked this post, you will also like Notes from Cicero and 4 Steps to Stop Self-Sabotaging.

I am listening to Mandy Hickson sharing her life story with Vistage this morning. Mandy was the second ever female pilot flying combat missions for the British military. She shared her dream as a young girl of flying fast jets, and all the obstacles that she needed to overcome to make that dream come true.

Every Pilot has a Blind Spot

Mandy shared that a pilot cannot see their “6 O’clock”… directly behind you. There is no physical way that you can see what is directly behind you.

That is why you fly with a wingman.

A wingman flies 3/4 of a mile off your wing. This way they have a very clear view of your 6 o’clock. They can see what you cannot see.

We can only see 360 degrees with the help of the people around us.

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.