Don’t Push Too Hard

My father was a policeman. Once he went to a house where the owner hadn’t been heard from for days. He had to break in to check on him. Sadly he found the man passed away on the bathroom floor. He had given himself a heart attack from pushing too hard on the toilet. 

Dad told me about this when in my youth I had gotten a haemorrhoid and didn’t know what caused it. 

“Don’t push so hard. Be patient. It will come eventually,” I remember him saying. 

His story certainly got me to relax in the loo. The burning pain of the haemorrhoid together with the  imagined image of me dying on the toilet did the trick. I haven’t had a blowout since. 

As a bonus, this insight from my Dad’s story seeped into other areas of my life as well. 

Whenever I find myself pushing hard at anything – an unconscious tendency that I still have – I’m reminded to be careful and weigh the risk. 

Success isn’t always worth pushing hard for. 

Even more importantly, just like on the toilet, success can often be effortless when we relax and have some patience.

Don’t get me wrong – I get that there are times to push hard.  For example, there are few greater blisses than collapsing in nauseated dizziness after an intense physical workout. 

At the same time, when in my work and relationships I push hard to get something to happen, it usually becomes more difficult. Sometimes I’ll even blow a gasket and end up with a bigger problem than I started with!

It is in those instances of work and life, where noticing my over-zealousness, I suddenly picture myself laying dead on the bathroom floor and I ease off and just let things be. 

I get patient. And I wait. 

When I do this, the thing eventually happens all on its own. 

COACHING QUESTIONS

  • What are you pushing too hard for?
  • What’s the risk of pushing so hard?
  • Is it worth it?
  • How could easing off actually help it to be more likely to happen?

Stop Using Self-Discipline

For me…the only thing worse than being disciplined by other people is being disciplined by myself.

To achieve things in life, instead of using ‘self-discipline’, my focus is on removing the obstacles between myself and the things that I would love to create. These obstacles are sometimes things outside, but usually though they are my own thoughts.

What if I fail?
What if I don’t have time to also do X?
What if people don’t like me?
What if my wife gets upset? 

When I clear these obstructive thoughts out of the way, creating becomes effortless.
What is it that you would like to create?
How are you stopping that from happening?

If you do not know the answer to the first question, ask yourself every day until you do.

If you know the answer to the first but not the second question, then email me. Talk to me and I will show you how you are stopping yourself.

Once you know the answers to both these questions, you can then remove the obstacles and get on with creating.

No self-discipline is ever required.

 

Stop Creating the Wrong World

“Someone has to collect the rubbish.”

This is a common challenge that comes up when I suggest people just do whatever they love to do and nothing else.

The suggestion is that the world would fall apart if some people didn’t do the ‘dirty’ work. And even more so, that our world would cease to function if at least some people didn’t do stuff that they don’t want to do.

In case you are thinking this way, I’ve got two counter-challenges for you:

1. Can we really know there aren’t enough people in the world who would love to collect the rubbish?

No. We cannot.

However, for the sake of discussion, let’s pretend there just are not enough people who would love to collect the rubbish. If everyone did what they loved, we would then have a rubbish problem! Which brings me to my second challenge…

2.  Do you really want to live in a world whose sustainability depends on some people NOT doing what they love?

Personally, I would prefer to live in a world where everyone does what they love.

Other than for us humans, this is actually how the world works.

When’s the last time you saw an animal doing something it didn’t want to do? (Unless of course at the hands of a human.)

Just as water runs along the path of least resistance, life unfolds in the direction of its greatest desire.

By insisting that not everyone can do what they love, we are supporting the ongoing creation of a world that is inconsistent with the harmony of life.

Such inconsistency creates tension. It is a pendulum rising higher and higher, bound eventually to swing back.

So if YOU are not currently doing what you love – please do us all a favour and stop creating the wrong world.

Stop pretending it has to be this way.

Start creating from your own unique desire.

Right now.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What are you doing that you don’t want to be doing?
  • How is doing what you don’t love creating the wrong life for yourself?
  • How is doing what you don’t love creating the wrong world?

How Your Desire Causes Suffering or Bliss

When in my mid twenties, I told my Mom that I was going to spend some time staying at a monastery in northern India to meditate and study Buddhist thought with monks, she said, “OK, have fun. Just don’t come back as anything weird this time.”

I think she was referring to the six months I spent as an evangelising born-again Christian after a college-roommate fed me stories about the coming rapture and the elite’s conspiracy for a one world government (I should have seen it coming considering he was using heroin and kept a loaded AK-47 under his bed!).

Anyway…I loved learning about Buddhism. It is one of the simplest philosophies I’ve come across for living an enjoyable life and a lot of my personal philosophy stems from it.

One idea has always niggled at me though: it is the idea that desire causes suffering.

The reason this niggled at me is because elsewhere I honour desire. It is the orientation of that which you have the potential to create. When we follow our desire, we can make a better world and a better life.

So how is desire both a good thing and a bad thing?

Buddhists make the distinction that it is ‘attachment’ to a desire that really causes suffering.  Until recently I wasn’t seeing how a desire typically becomes an attachment.

There seemed to be ‘good desire’ and ‘bad desire’, and I couldn’t find an answer to how one becomes the other.

What I now think it is, is something very simple: ACTION.

Desire without action is frustrating. The time and distance between you and that thing you want gets longer and this begins to cause suffering.

Desire acted upon is satisfying. The time and distance between you and that thing you want gets shorter and this feels blissful.

The less we act on a desire – the more we yearn for it from a standstill – the more that desire hurts.

The more we act on a desire – the more we indulge ourselves in the journey – the more that desire fulfils us.

And so, it is within our will to decide whether our desire will cause us pleasure or pain.

It is your choice to act or not act that determines whether your desire will bring you suffering or bring you bliss.

Which will you choose?

Which will you choose right now?

Great Leaders (and Coaches) are Zeroes

The other day I was in conversation with an inspiring coach I know. We were discussing the importance of having no limiting thoughts about what your client can create.

“What is zero times anything?” he asked me.

“Zero,” I answered.

He stared at me and nodded softly. It was a very zen-like moment. I may have even heard the sound of a gong in the distance.

One thing I have experienced, both on the receiving and giving end, is that the coach having ‘zero’ limiting thoughts makes them more effective at empowering their clients to create.

This week, in thinking about leadership, I got clear on how, like great coaches, really great leaders also lead by having zero limiting thoughts.

What may appear on the outside as an incredibly powerful driving purpose, is actually just any old purpose, except that it is unlimited by any contradictory fearful beliefs.

We see the purpose as powerful, but really it’s just that there is nothing in the way of it. When there is nothing in the way of a person creating something, this thing gets created. That is human.

Actually, that is LIFE.

But how does this translate to leadership?

When we are around that nothing-ness, when we see it up close, when we engage with someone who is a ‘zero’ – it rubs off on us.

By experiencing a zero, we become a zero too. It’s almost like magic how it works.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it. You have spent time with someone who has total certainty about something and as a result, just being with them, melted away any doubts you had.

Great leadership (and great coaching) is multiplication. 

If YOU want to be less limited, spend time with a zero.

If you want YOUR PEOPLE to be less limited, be a zero yourself and do some multiplication with them.

Remember:

Zero times anything is always zero. 

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • Where are you as a coach or a leader NOT being a zero for your clients?
  • Who is a zero that you could spend time with that, through multiplication, would help you to be a zero too?

What if Your Life was an Adventure?

You know that thing you want to be doing, but you are hesitating on really diving into because there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not you will succeed in it?

Maybe a new project, starting a business or a entering a new relationship?

Well, I’d like you to consider something for me…

When was the last time you went on an adventure?

Maybe a road trip, a vacation abroad, or even just out on a Sunday drive exploring a part of town you’d never been to before?

When you embarked on that adventure, did you have total certainty about what was going to happen? Or did you have some uncertainty about how things would unfold?

I imagine you had uncertainty.

You see, uncertainty is what makes an adventure, an adventure.

The primary characteristic of adventure is a crossing from the known into the unknown.  In order for something to be an adventure, you need to NOT know what is going to happen.

The moment you know what the outcome will be, the adventure dies.

Now…what if you experienced that new project, business or relationship as an adventure too?

What if, instead of letting the uncertainty be something that stops you – what if you had the uncertainty be the reason why you do it?

What if you did it BECAUSE you didn’t know what was going to happen?

In fact, what if you lived your whole life as an adventure?

What might you create then?

Leadership is a Way of Being

Earlier this year my coach Rich asked me a question:

“Are your clients people who are searching for passion and purpose?”

He was challenging my continuing to do talks and videos on the topic.

My immediate response was about to be a ‘Yes’, but since he was asking me what seemed like an obvious question, I paused and considered.

“Well…not all of them I guess…”

“How many?”

“Ummmm….hmmm…,” I scanned my mind through active and recent clients. My brow furrowed. “Geeze, I guess there is only just ONE really.”

We talked and a new awareness about who I actually coach unfolded. My clients call me their ‘executive coach’, their ‘leadership coach’, their ‘secret weapon’. They were all already on a mission and leaders of some sort, either of their own projects or a business.

It wasn’t obvious for me before because I was afraid to see it.

“Who am I to be a leadership coach? I’ve never run a company with 100’s of employees like my clients do.”

However, once I could see this thought, I could see it wasn’t true.

“You are a leader too, John” said Rich.

“I am not a leader. How am I a leader?”

“Thousands of people follow you, John. You are a thought leader.”

My coach was right. I AM a leader.

But how did I become one without ever trying to be? How did I become a leader without even meaning to?

All I have ever really done is two things:

1. Do what I love to do
2. Share that with the world.

Somehow being a leader happened as a result of this.

My insight:

Leadership is NOT something you do. Leadership is something that happens as a result of you being true and self-expressed.

When you do what you love and you share it with the world, people follow you.

People follow you because, like moths drawn to light, humans are drawn to truth and freedom.

More simply, leadership is not something you DO, it is something you BE.

What I can see now is that it is my BEING LEADERSHIP that has the people who show up as my clients also be leaders.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • How are you holding back your own uniqueness?
  • What could you start doing do that would have you ‘being leadership’ by being more who you really ARE?

You Can’t Want What You Don’t Understand

The other day I was in conversation with a COO who was complaining about his sales team not performing.

“They just don’t want it bad enough,” he told me. “I wanted it so much more when I was selling.”

We talked and he could see that his sales people were coming from a ‘victim’ place. They were complaining about circumstances (the irony of the COO being a victim by complaining about his sales team’s victimhood did not escape me, but I choose not to go there).

He could see that when he was in sales, he came from an ‘owner’ place. He created what he wanted instead of complaining about what wasn’t working.

I asked him how he was going to empower his team to be owners.

“They don’t want to be owners,” he said.

“How the…do you know that?” I snapped, biting back an f-bomb.

“They just don’t or they would be owners already.”

“That’s bullshit. Have you considered the possibility that they don’t know the difference between being an owner and a victim?”

What I shared with him is that he had a distinction they don’t have. He had a conscious understanding of the difference between two ways of being.

Furthermore, I had him see that a conscious understanding of difference is required before someone can want something.

“You can’t want what you don’t understand,” I said. 

His eyes glazed over and our conversation fell silent.

I could see that he was seeing how not wanting it bad enough wasn’t really the problem. The real  problem was that his team – his people – didn’t consciously understand the difference between being an owner and a victim.

If and when they could really see this difference, they were almost certain to want to be an ‘owner’.

Who wouldn’t?

But first they needed to see it. And so he knew exactly what he needed to do.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What are your people not wanting bad enough right now?
  • What distinction are they missing that would give them enough perspective to want something else?
  • How are you creating this – how are you stopping them from having that distinction?

 

Is Your Mission Statement Empty Words?

Too many organisational ‘mission statements’ I come across are empty words drafted only to sound intelligent on a website or the cover of an annual report.

Is your organisation’s purpose and mission a part of the consciousness of everyone involved?  Or is it something you have because you’re ‘supposed to’ have one?

Organisations that excel do so for the same reason that people do – they have purpose within them that drives them.

Some will call this ‘organisational culture’. Culture isn’t strong enough though. I like ‘organisational religion’.

What is your organisation’s religion?

Do you know it? Do you believe in it? Does everyone believe in it?

If you want to lead a wildly successful organisation, then it needs a religion.

Every powerful and lasting religion has a purpose – this is your organisation’s mission. Every great religion also has rules to live by – these are the principles your organisation stands for.

Your work as a leader is to bring everyone into the faith. To have them be devout followers of that religion. To live it.

How do you do this?

Wear the robes. 

Be the example of faith in your religion.

Create a mission for your organisation that you will die for. Create principles for your organisation that you will live by, every day.

Live for this mission and by these principles even when nobody is watching.

Because the god of your organisation – the potential to succeed or fail – is ALWAYS watching.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What are YOUR beliefs and values?
  • Where are you NOT living them?

Be The Creator of Everything

The Victim believes she is at the mercy of circumstance. She is an unfortunate slave to the whims of the world. The world wins and she loses.

The Controller believes she creates her own destiny. She rises up in defiance of the world’s whims and through force and effort, she exerts her will against the world, making her own destiny. For her to win, others must lose.

The Participator sees life as a dance. Recognising that all creation is co-creation, she asserts her will at times, but she also allows the whims of the world to move her too. She aims for a win win, concerning herself always with the world’s win first.

The Creator also recognises life is a dance and yet she chooses to lead the dance. She understands the world has whims and desires of its own. She is empathetic to these whims, but only to inspire her own next step. Win-wins happen because you are always leading a dance.

When you Be The Creator, your reality is that YOU CREATE EVERYTHING you experience – both desired and undesired.

Everything that happens IS your creation – your job, your relationship, your health, even the weather over your head – you created that.

Yes. You made it rain today. You even made the sun shine.

Indeed, this reality is an illusion, but it is one chosen in the included transcendence of illusions that less served you.

Living inside a reality where YOU CREATE EVERYTHING gives you access to your fullest potential in the perpetual dance of co-creation.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What are you currently creating that you do NOT want?
  • What will you create instead?
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