Posts tagged with ‘motivation’

18 sep

Every No Gets Us Closer to a Yes

WEJMDConsider this example: Using a hypothetical number (since I am not aware of the statistics involved in car sales), let’s assume that for every 10 prospective customers that walk through the showroom door, one will be converted into a sale.

That being the case, a car salesman can expect to get a no from nine people before he closes a deal. Consequently, when he gets one no after another, there is no need for him to get depressed, anxious or angry. He doesn’t need to take it personally by interpreting it as a failure on his part. He doesn’t need to get discouraged or demoralized. He doesn’t need to perceive it as a setback or an obstacle. He doesn’t need to look at it as the universe giving him a hard time.

He simply needs to remind himself that it’s all part of the plan; that it’s all part of the law of averages; that every time he gets a no, he should actually be celebrating, because it brings him closer to the statistical number that equates to a yes.

Oftentimes, we get frustrated by things not happening on our timetable. Rather than seeing each “no” as one step closer to our goal, we interpret the “no” as a delay holding back our success. This speaks to our desire to control the universe so that it will do our bidding as we think it should and when we think it should.

The problem with this is that we can’t control the universe. People and circumstances that will eventually cooperate with us have their own timetable that we need to accept. Any attempt to manipulate and accelerate the process is oftentimes a mistake. It can lead us to either a burning bridge that could have been an appropriate path, or finding ourselves heading down a path that, in the long run, will prove to be a road to nowhere.

Acceptance & patience
It is better to accept that it takes time for people and circumstances to come together in a beneficial way for all concerned and to try not to force outcomes. Sometimes it’s best to accept the ebb and flow of things. Sometimes it’s best to not paddle furiously but rather to row our boat gently down the stream. Sometimes it’s best to let things happen at their own pace and have faith that when things don’t happen the way we think they should, it doesn’t mean that they never will.

Bottom line: We needn’t be afraid of rejection and failed efforts — take Thomas Edison, for example. Every time the universe said no to one of his attempts to invent the electric light bulb, he saw it as a help rather than a hindrance. He saw it as an opportunity to put aside an ineffectual approach he was taking so that he could redirect his attention to an alternative approach that might yield the success he was looking for. Every failed attempt brought him closer to success by enabling him to eliminate a wrong way so that he could eventually find the right way.

There is a right way for all of us, regardless of what goals we have set for ourselves. But we will not find it if we get derailed by perceived setbacks, obstacles, rejections, delays and outright failed attempts. Best that we be okay with every no we get and every failed attempt, seeing each as a positive stepping stone to our ultimate success.

Best we stay true to our vision. Best we stay confident and positive. Best we be flexible and stay open to alternative paths so as to modify and adapt our plan when necessary. Above all else, we don’t give up. We keep on trucking. We remind ourselves that it’s never over till it’s over.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 18th, 2011 in Career | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

01 jun

Embracing Change

MikeRobbinsNewWe recently went into escrow on our house, but don’t yet have a new house to move into. As excited as we are about our move (just across the San Francisco Bay from Concord to Marin County), it feels pretty scary to not yet know exactly where we’ll be living next month.

With this big change and a few others coming soon, I’ve been noticing how I deal with and relate to change. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship to change. I love the excitement, growth opportunity, and newness of change. But, at the same time, I can easily fall into states of worry, fear, and overwhelm when facing change, especially big ones.

How do you feel about change? While it may depend on the specific change (i.e. one we want versus one we don’t want, or one that seems exciting versus one that seems hard or even “bad.”), most of us seek and fear change simultaneously. Even positive changes can be unsettling or even downright upsetting. And, while each of us has a unique personality and perspective, many of us tend to be creatures of habit.

Change is one of the main “constants” in life, ironically. However, we don’t usually spend all that much time thinking about our relationship to change or specifically expanding on our ability to adapt to change – we usually deal with it from a place of survival, reaction, or necessity.

What if we embraced change more consciously and learned how to not only “manage” it, but thrive through it. Whether you’re someone who enjoys change and handles it quite well, or you hate it and get totally stressed out by it, all of us can benefit from embracing change more deliberately and supporting those around us as we all go through the big and small changes of life – especially these days.

Here are some things you can do and think about as you deal with change in your own life – so as to more effectively and peacefully deal with it when it shows up.

1) Become consciously aware of your relationship to change. Knowing how you deal with change, what stresses you out about it, what allows you to navigate it most effectively, what kind of support you need as you move through the change process, and more, are all important elements of embracing change. It’s rarely the circumstances themselves that cause us stress or difficulty; it’s our relationship to them. By altering our relationship to change, we can become much more peaceful and successful in dealing with it.

2) Acknowledge and express your true feelings (especially your fear). When change occurs, there are usually a number of different emotions we experience. We tend to focus most of our attention on the details, specifics, and circumstances, not so much on our emotions. However, it is our emotional experience and reaction that dictates much of our effectiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with change. Whether it’s something we consider “good” or “bad,” fear is almost always associated with change, because we’re moving into something unknown and often uncomfortable. By acknowledging and expressing our fear (and other emotions) in an authentic way, we can take back our power from the situation, get real about how we’re feeling, and move through it with more ease and grace. There’s nothing wrong with any of the emotions we experience during change, the problems begin to arise when we don’t express our emotions authentically.

3) Get support. As with most things in life, change is much easier to deal with when we get help. We don’t have to go through it all alone and there are probably many people in our lives who have gone through similar changes before and can support us in the process. Asking for and receiving help from other people can be challenging for many of us and can feel quite vulnerable. However, one of my favorite sayings is, “The answer’s always ‘no’ if you don’t ask.” Getting support not only makes dealing with change easier for us, it allows other people to be of service, which is something most people love to have the opportunity to do in life.

4) Look for the gold. There is “gold’ in the midst of every change – even the most painful and difficult ones. When change is more “positive,” it can seem easier to find the gold in it. However, positive change can also be tricky because we don’t understand why we still may experience fear or discontent and sometimes won’t acknowledge these and other feelings due to our own embarrassment. With change that is more “negative,” it can often be hard to find or see the gold. When dealing with difficult changes in our lives, being able to authentically get in touch with the gifts, blessings, and growth opportunities available to us can help as we navigate our way through the experience and also allow us to evolve in the process.

Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others in going through change. It’s not easy for most of us. By embracing change we become not only more effective in dealing with it, but more peaceful, present, and powerful in our lives.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on June 1st, 2011 in Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

18 mar

Live Like You’re Going to Die (Because You Are)

MikeRobbinsNewYou’re going to die. I’m going to die. Everyone around us is going to die.

The reality of death is, of course, both obvious and daunting for most of us. With the recent tragic events in Japan and some very serious health news I received from someone close to me, I’ve been thinking about life and death a lot this past week. I was on a run a few days ago and thought to myself, “I wonder what it’s like to know you’re going to die?” Then I thought, “Wait a minute, we’re all going to die – we just don’t act like it.”

As simple as this thought was, it was profound for me. I don’t live my life all that consciously aware of my own death. My own fears about death (mine and others) often force me to avoid thinking about it all together. I do catch myself worrying about dying; sometimes more often than I’d like to admit, especially with our girls being as young as they are – Samantha’s five and Rosie’s two and a half.

I also don’t talk about death that much because it seems like such a morbid topic, a real “downer.” I worry that it’s too intense to address or that if I focus on death I will somehow attract it to me or those around me superstitiously.

And, as a culture we don’t really like to talk about death or deal with it in a meaningful way since it can be quite scary and is the exact opposite of so much of what we obsess about (youth, productivity, vitality, results, beauty, improvement, the future, etc.).

But what if we embraced death, talked about it more, and shared our own vulnerable thoughts, feelings, and questions about it? While for some of us this may seem uncomfortable, undesirable, or even a little weird – think how liberating it would be and is when we’re willing to face the reality of death directly.

Steve Jobs gave a powerful commencement speech at Stanford in 2005 entitled “How to live before you die.” In that speech, he said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Contemplating death in a conscious way doesn’t have to freak us out. Knowing that our human experience is limited and that at some mysterious point in the future our physical body will die, is both sobering and liberating.

The reason I’ve always appreciated memorials services (even when I’ve been in deep pain and grief over the death of someone close to me) is because there is a powerful consciousness which often surrounds death. When someone passes away we often feel a certain amount of permission to get real in a vulnerable way and to focus on what’s most important (not the ego-based fear, comparison, and self criticism that often runs our life).

What if we tapped into this empowering awareness all the time – not just because someone close to dies or because we have our own near-death experience, but because we choose to affirm life and appreciate the blessing, gift, and opportunity that it is.

Here are some things we can think about, focus on, and do on a regular basis that will allow us to live like we’re going to die, in a positive way:

1) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – As my dear friend and mentor Richard Carlson reminded millions of us through his bestselling series of books with this great title, life is not an emergency and most of the stuff we worry about, get upset about, and obsess about is not that big of a deal. If we lived as if we were dying, we probably wouldn’t let so many small things bother us.

2) Let Go of Grudges - One of my favorite sayings is, “holding a grudge is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.” Everyone loses when we hold a grudge, especially us. If you knew you were going to die soon, would you really want to spend your precious time and energy holding onto anger and resentment towards those around youor people from your past (regardless of what they may have done)? Forgiveness is powerful – it’s not about condoning anything, it’s about liberation and freedom for us.

3) Focus on What Truly Matters – What truly matters to you? Love? Family? Relationships? Service? Creativity? Spirituality? Our authentic contemplation of death can help us answer this important question in a poignant way. If you found out you only had a limited time left to live, what would you stop doing right now? What would you want to focus on instead? And while we all have certain responsibilities in life, asking ourselves what truly matters to us and challenging ourselves to focus on that, right now, is one of the most important things we can do.

4) Go For It – Fear of failure often stops us from going for what we truly want in life. From a certain perspective (the ego-based, physical, material world) death can be seen as the ultimate “failure” and is often related to that way in our culture, even though people don’t usually talk about it in these blunt terms. However, this perspective can actually liberate us. If we know we’re ultimately going to “fail” in life (in terms of living forever), what have we really got to lose by taking big risks? We all know how things are going to turn out in the end. As I heard in a workshop years ago, “Most of us are trying to survive life; we have to remember that no one ever has.”

5) Seize the Day – Carpe diem, the Latin phrase for “seize the day,” is all about being right here, right now. The more willing we are to surrender to the present moment, embrace it, and fully experience it – the more we can appreciate and enjoy life. As John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Living like we’re going to die is about remembering to fully engage in the present moment, being grateful for the gift that it is, and doing our best not to dwell on the past or worry about the future. If today were your last day, how would you want to live?

Death can be difficult and scary scary for many of us to confront. There is a lot of fear, resistance, and “taboo” surrounding it in our culture and for us personally. However, when we remember that death is both natural and inevitable, we’re reminded that everyone’s life (whether it lasts for a few days or a hundred years) is short, precious, and miraculous. This awareness can fundamentally and positively alter the way we think, feel, and relate to ourselves, others, and life itself. Living as if we’re going to die (and remembering that it’s guaranteed) is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and those around us.

How can you start living your life for more conscious of your own death, in a positive and empowering way? What can you do right now to let go of what’s not important, focus on what truly matters, and seize the day? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more on my blog below.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on March 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13 mar

OperationsRx: The Gap Nobody Knows

MichelleKerriganThe gap between promises and results is widespread and clear. The gap nobody knows is the gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organization to achieve it.”—Larry Bossidy, former CEO, Honeywell International and General Electric

The gap nobody knows is bridged by day-to-day operations. Everything comes from it. It’s where your company lives and breathes–where ideas spring to life in the form of people, process and teamwork. It is the heart of execution–where strategy succeeds or fails. It’s a space I’ve worked in for over 25 years, and where I help leaders and teams succeed today.

Day-to-day operations comprise roughly 80% of most organizations, making it one of their largest investments. Yet this asset is often overlooked. Not leveraging its value widens the gap and means your company is leaving money on the table. In today’s economy, where resources are at a premium and you need to organize and expedite at the speed of change, can you afford to do that?

So why is it undervalued and underutilized?

I’ve asked a few leaders this same question, and they all focused on strategy as the one thing that mattered most. In fact, one leader, when asked about day-to-day operations and execution, waved his hand in dismissal and said “that’s management’s problem.”

As dieting is a favorite topic of mine, I asked this leader to compare business strategy and execution with a personal goal of losing weight. You want to lose 20 pounds. You plan on joining a gym, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, controlling food portions and counting calories. That’s your strategy—the direction you wish to take. You can repeat it a thousand times, make promises to your doctor or spouse, clip out photos of the ‘dream figure’ and attach it to your refrigerator door.

But unless you take the necessary steps to incorporate your plan into your everyday routine, nothing happens. No change. Not one pound shed. Your weight remains the same—you don’t move forward and you don’t reach your goal. Promises don’t yield results without day-to-day execution.

So, what does it really take to affect positive change?:

Have the right resources: Healthy food, personal trainer, scale, calorie calculator.

Develop realistic timelines and expectations: 2 pounds a week for 10-12 weeks. The greatest mistake most dieters (and leaders) make is being unrealistic about how long things take. Being realistic limits risk and disappointment.

Decide a deadline: Your svelte cousin’s wedding. The holidays. It’s amazing how activity levels rise as deadlines loom.

Get support: Choose the best people to help you stay on track: friends, family, personal trainer.

Take action every day: Go to the gym, exercise, eat lots of vegetables, count calories.

Stay motivated and energized: Keep your eyes on the prize—what success looks like (remember that picture on the refrigerator?)

Minimize distractions: Especially procrastination and perfectionism. Try to avoid wasting time on the wrong activities and getting discouraged if you veer off course now and then.

Allow for setbacks and unforeseen events: Parties that involve red velvet cake. Need I say more?

Monitor for results: Be accountable and follow through. Have someone record your weight and measurements on a regular basis. Monitoring is the key to successful change.

Link rewards to performance: Reinforce progress by celebrating milestones with small rewards and work towards that new wardrobe when you reach your goal.

The leader appreciated the analogy: Strategy only works when you take the necessary steps every day to move it forward. That’s how you turn promises into results.

Leadership is not just about pointing the way—it’s about being an integral part of the process from start to finish. It’s about dealing with the realistic issues of the day. It’s about tapping into your greatest asset–day-to-day operations–to get your company where it needs to go.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll lose a pound or two along the way.

Copyright 2011 Michelle Kerrigan

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at www.MichelleKerriganInc.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on March 13th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

02 feb

Let Go of Worry

MikeRobbinsNewHow often do you catch yourself worrying?

When I was a kid my mom used to say to me, “95% of what you worry about never happens.” I think she recognized that I was the “worrying type” and was trying to help ease my mind. Although this rarely worked, I appreciated her sentiment and know now that she was right.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been prone to worrying. I continue to work on this, let it go, forgive myself for it, and choose different ways of being in the face of my fear. And, I still catch myself worrying more than I’d like – about the future, about my body, about how things will turn out, about what people think about me, about money, about the well-being of my loved ones, about the state of the world, and much more.

However, no matter how much we worry, it never really helps. And, as we look deeper at what worrying actually is – a set-up for failure, a negative attractor, and a denial or avoidance of feeling our true feelings – we see that it can have a damaging impact on our lives, our work, and our relationships. When we worry, we’re simply preparing to be upset or angry – assuming something won’t work out in the future.

Worry not only creates stress, it has an impact (usually negative) on what we create and manifest, and on our experience of life in general. Worry is a superficial emotion. It’s clearly something that many of us are all familiar with, can share with others in a way that will garner sympathy, empathy, or even pity, and is easy for us to go through daily life experiencing. However, underneath our worry are usually deeper emotions like shame, fear, guilt, hurt, or anger; many of which are more difficult for us to feel and express.

If we’re able to tell the truth and face our deeper feelings, we won’t have to waste our time and energy worrying. We can then deal with the root of the issue, not the superficial impact of it (which is what worry usually is).

There’s nothing wrong with feeling scared, angry, hurt, and even “worried,” in and of itself. These emotions, like love, gratitude, excitement, joy, and others are very important to our human experience. Emotions that are felt deeply and expressed appropriately give us power (regardless of what they are). Emotions that are not felt deeply, that are denied or avoided, and are not effectively expressed, can be damaging to us and those around us.

Worry is always a sign that there are some deeper feelings or issues for us to address. It’s often a good reminder for us to get more real, take better care of ourselves, and pay attention.

Below is a list of some things you can do when you get worried. These simple ideas can help you move through your worry in a positive way:

1. When you notice yourself worrying; stop, check in with yourself, and take a few slow deep breaths (all the way down to your belly)

2. Ask yourself, what’s underneath my worry? (i.e. why am I really worried and what am I really feeling?)

3. Face, feel, and express these underlying emotions – get support from others in this process if you need it.

4. Once you have felt and expressed these emotions, choose how you want to feel and what you want to create, instead of playing the role of the victim.

5. Appreciate yourself for the courage it takes to be honest and to deal with the challenging situations or emotions you’re experiencing.

6. Focus on the good stuff in your life (i.e. be grateful for what you have, who you are, and what you’re going through)

7. Be of service to others – generously put your attention on those around you who can benefit from your help. It will be a great gift to them and to you. Service can allow you to shift your attention from your worry to what you have to give, which is a true win-win for everyone involved.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on February 2nd, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 jan

The Importance of Flexibility

MikeRobbinsNewHow flexible are you? For me, it depends – on my mood, how much fear or resistance I have about something, how attached I am to a particular outcome, and various other factors.

However, as I look throughout my life (now and in the past), I realize that the situations, relationships, and experiences that cause me the greatest stress and frustration, are almost always the ones where I’m not being flexible. And, on the flip side, the more flexible I am – the more peace, ease, and fulfillment become available.

Today, more than ever, we are challenged to be flexible – in our work, our relationships, and in every other important aspect of our lives. However, due to our own fear, arrogance, resistance, stress, and obsession with being right, we often end up being inflexible to our own detriment and to the frustration of those around us (or so I’ve been told).

Being flexible is not about being weak or passive. Flexibility is a conscious choice, a powerful skill, and a valuable approach to the ever-changing, always-evolving world we live in. We can be firm in our convictions, passionate about our beliefs, and clear about our intentions, and at the same time be flexible enough to make significant changes and be open to new ideas along the way.

Here are some key elements to expanding your own capacity for flexibility in your life -which will lead you to greater peace, joy, and fulfillment:

1) Let Go of Your Attachment – Whenever we get attached to something – a specific outcome, a particular way of doing things, a rigid opinion, etc. – we are, by definition, inflexible. Letting go of our attachment to something doesn’t mean we negate our desire or intention, it simply means we let go of controlling every aspect of it, forcing the action, and our fixation on it being exactly the way we think it should be. This is a process of conscious “non-attachment” (letting go), as opposed to detachment (not caring).

2) Be Willing to Be Wrong – Most of us love to be right and will do and say just about anything to avoid being wrong. Our obsession with “rightness” and fear of “wrongness” often gets in the way of going for what we want, saying what’s on our mind, and letting go of our fixed ideas about how things are supposed to be. When we’re willing to be wrong (not necessarily interested in or intending to be wrong), we free ourselves up and give ourselves permission to take risks, try new things, and approach things (even really important things) with a creative, innovative, and flexible perspective.

3) Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously – Taking ourselves too seriously (something which I know a thing or two about), creates unnecessary stress, pressure, and worry. When we’re able to laugh at ourselves (in a kind way), keep things in perspective, and remember that most of what we deal with on a daily basis in life is not life or death – we can take ourselves less seriously and thus have a more balanced, peaceful, and creative way of relating to things.

4) Go with the Flow – If we pay attention to life, there is a natural flow that exists (although it may not always look like it or feel like it). The more we’re able to tap into the natural flow of life, trust ourselves and others, and believe that things will work out – the more likely we are to allow things to roll off our backs and manifest with ease. As Esther Hicks says, “Most people are rowing against the current of life. Instead of turning the boat around, all they need to do it let go of the oars.”

5) Get Support and Feedback From Others – The support and feedback of others is invaluable in so many aspects of our life and growth, especially as it relates to us being more flexible. We can learn from and model others who are more flexible than we are. We can also give people in our life permission to remind us (with kindness) when we get rigid, uptight, over-attached, and start taking ourselves too seriously.

Being flexible is something that’s often easier said than done for many of us. However, just as with our physical bodies, the more attention we place on expanding our flexibility the more likely we are to do it. As we enhance our ability to be flexible, our life can and will expand exponentially.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on January 25th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

19 nov

Step Out of Your Box

MikeRobbinsNewOne of our greatest sources of authentic power in life comes from our willingness and ability to act – especially in the face of obstacles and fear. To be truly successful and fulfilled, we must challenge ourselves to take bold and courageous actions and to go for what we want. Legendary author Ray Bradbury said, “First you jump off the cliff and then you build your wings on the way down.”

In the summer of 1998 I was in the midst of a major life transition. I’d blown out my pitching arm a little over a year earlier and had gotten released by the Kansas City Royals that March. I was home in Oakland, CA collecting workers comp insurance (and not working), recovering from simultaneous elbow and shoulder surgery that I’d had at the start of that summer, reeling from what was sure to be the end of my dream of becoming a Major League baseball player (even after my arm rehab was completed), and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Throughout that spring and summer, I read numerous self help books that inspired me – both by what I learned from them personally and also by the idea of being able to write books like that and help people myself. I would wander into bookstores and find myself drawn to the personal development section – both to look for new books for me to read and also because I had a deep yearning to be involved in that world myself.

Given my age at the time, twenty-four, my lack of experience, and the fact that I had no idea how one would even begin a career as a self-help author and motivational speaker, I felt discouraged, scared, and confused. Being an author and a speaker one day seemed like a pipe-dream. And, in the weeks and months ahead I knew I’d need to make some important decisions about what to do and what specific steps to take as I ventured out into the “real world” for the very first time.

On July 11th, 1998 I had a conversation on the phone with my Uncle Steve that as I look back on it now, was a pivotal moment in the course of my life and my work. That day on the phone, I shared with him some of my deepest fears, dreams, confusion, and desires for my life and my future. I told him that I thought I wanted to be an author and speaker who could help and inspire people, but that I didn’t know how to do that, where to start, or what I could do in my life right away that would lead me in that direction.

Steve challenged me and said, “For you to do this Mike, you’re going to have to ’step out’ and be bold in your life. It’s not a one-time thing; it’s a day-by-day process. The question to ask yourself today and every day is, ‘What am I willing to do today to step out in life’?”

This question that Steve asked me, while simple to understand, challenged me to my core – both inspiring me and scaring me at the same time. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question at the time, but thought about it quite a bit.

I got a job that fall working for a dot-com, but my dream of writing, speaking, leading workshops, and coaching people stayed with me. Over those next few years, Steve would send me notes and post cards from time to time with just the words “Step Out” on them. It became a mantra for me.

Even though I knew the job I had selling internet advertising was not my “calling,” I chose to be grateful for what I was learning and the money I was making. At the same time I began to look outside of my current job for places where I could “step out” towards my deeper passion and dream of helping people. I did this in as many ways as I could – taking workshops, volunteering, reaching out to established authors, speakers, and coaches, talking to people about my goals and dreams, reading books, and much more.

When I got laid off from my dot-com in the middle of 2000 – Steve’s question reverberated within me deeply. I knew that the bold thing for me to do at that point, even though I still didn’t have a clue about how to go about it, was to “step out” of my “box,” take a huge leap, and do what I could to become a speaker, coach, and author.

It wasn’t easy and there were many times I wanted to quit – but I kept challenging myself to be bold and to go for it, even when I didn’t think I could. It took me six months from the time I got laid off to launch my speaking and coaching business, another two or three years before I was able to establish myself in any significant way, and seven years before I published my first book.

Stepping out of our own “box” is essential to living an authentic and fulfilled life. We often don’t think we’re “ready,” we may not know exactly what we’re supposed to do, and we almost never have a guarantee that things will work out.

Will we get scared? Of course. Will we fail? Most likely, especially at first. As the cliche says, “no risk, no reward.” When we’re willing to put ourselves at risk and go for what we truly want in a bold way, amazing things can happen.

Stepping out of our box in life doesn’t always involve something big like changing careers, moving to a new place, starting a business, ending a relationship, or traveling around the world (although it could). It simply means we’re willing to do, say, or act in a way that is new, different, and/or vulnerable. When we choose to push past our perceived limits and go for it in life – we always grow and learn, regardless of the outcome.

As you do this, make sure to get support, have compassion, and be gentle with yourself in the process. While it can be scary and often counter-intuitive – we’re here to grow, expand, and evolve and one of the most important things we can do in this regard to is to step out of our box in a conscious and bold way!

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on November 19th, 2010 in New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

28 oct

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Life

MikeRobbins96With all the excitement of the playoffs and the World Series (which, thanks to the success of the San Francisco Giants, we get to experience directly here in the Bay Area), I’ve been thinking about, watching, and appreciating the great game baseball a lot these past few weeks. As someone who spent eighteen years of my life (from the age of seven until the age of twenty five) playing organized baseball and who has been a huge fan all my life, the game has taught me a great deal.

Whether you’ve played (or still play) baseball yourself, watch it as a fan, or even if you don’t particularly like it, understand it, care about it, or think it’s boring (which I know some people do), the game of baseball can teach us so many important things about life.

The fact that there are seemingly endless metaphors and universal life lessons that can be gleaned from baseball is one of the many things that make the game so interesting, exciting, and magical in my opinion.

Here are some key lessons from baseball I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks as I’ve been following the Giants with passion and enjoying the excitement of the post-season:

1) Appreciate the moment. It’s so easy in life to take things for granted, focus too much on the outcome, and worry about our own agenda or performance – all things I did for much of my own baseball career. Doing this, as we’ve all learned the hard way, causes us to miss the magic of the moment. As I’ve continued to remind the folks within the San Francisco Giants organization whom I’ve had the honor of working with as a client this year, the most important thing to do in the midst of the excitement, intensity, and pressure of competition – whether it’s in baseball or in life – is to enjoy and be grateful for the experience right now. As baseball teaches us, if we hold our breath and wait for it “all to work out,” if often doesn’t and we lose opportunity to appreciate what’s happening, while it’s happening, which is the only way we can authentically enjoy anything in life.

2) Take it one step at a time. As most baseball coaches preach to their players – “Take things one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time, and one game at a time.” While these may be some of the oldest baseball cliches in the book, they’re cliches for a reason – they’re true, and not just for baseball. The better you are at letting go of what just happened, not worrying about what’s coming up, and staying in each moment of your experience as it happens – the more likely you are to enjoy yourself and perform at your best. You never know how things are going to unfold and you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. According to all of the “experts,” the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies were supposed to be playing in the World Series, not the Giants and the Texas Rangers.

3) Focus on what you can control. In baseball, work, and life, there are so many things we can’t control (i.e. what other people do, external factors, and ultimately the results), but we always have control over our attitude and our effort. Remembering what you can and can’t control, and putting your attention on your attitude and effort are key elements in staying focused and positive, and in reducing stress and negativity. In baseball, if you waste your time getting upset about the calls by the umpire, the play of the other guys on your team, the decisions your manager makes, the weather conditions, what the fans and media have to say, and more, you’ll make yourself crazy and render yourself ineffective in the game. The same is true in life – we spend and waste so much energy on stuff we have no control over. When we shift our focus to what we can control (our attitude and effort), we’re empowered.

4) Failure is part of the game. There is so much failure in baseball, even when you’re a really good player or team. Cody Ross, an outfielder for the Giants, won the Most Valuable Player award of the National League Championship Series against the Phillies last week. He had a great series and hit .350, which is a fantastic batting average. However, this means he got out (i.e. failed) 65% of the time. Even when you’re considered the “best,” which he was for that series, you still have to deal with a lot of failure in baseball. The two teams in the World Series this year, the Giants and the Rangers, each lost 70 and 72 games respectively during the regular season. That’s a lot of failure…and, they’re really good! This is also true in life. The question isn’t whether or not we’ll fail; it’s how we’ll deal with it when it happens that’s most important. Remembering that failure is an essential part of the game of life can help us let go of unnecessary fear, worry, and self judgment.

5) Swing hard, just in case you hit it. Our fear of failure and embarrassment often holds us back from really going for it. There were many times in my baseball career that I played tentatively, so as not to fail or lose. However, the best way to approach the game, as well as life itself, is with passion. Juan Uribe, the Giants third baseman, hit the game winning home run in Game 6 of last week’s National League Championship Series (sending the Giants to the World Series). He’s a guy who swings about as hard as anyone in baseball. Sometimes he misses and can look bad at the plate. However, when he hits it, as he did last weekend, he has the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark and win the game in heroic fashion. Swinging hard in life, just in case we hit it, is a great way to approach many of the important things we do. Imagine what your life and career would look like it you weren’t afraid to fail or embarrass yourself?

6) Don’t be a front-runner. During the post-season, there are lots of “front-runners,” (i.e. fans, media, and others jumping on the “band wagon” when a team starts winning games and doing well). We live in a culture that loves winners and makes fun of losers. While this makes sense in baseball and sports, it can be quite damaging in business, relationships, and life. Sadly, we’re often “front-runners” with ourselves – thinking that we’re only as good as our performance or liking ourselves better based on external factors (money, accomplishments, weight, status, etc.). The most successful baseball players I’ve ever seen or known and the most fulfilled people I’ve ever been around, don’t get too caught up in their own “hype” when they’re doing well and don’t get too stuck in their own “black hole” when they’re in a slump. Keeping it real with yourself and others and not being a front-runner is critically important to creating authentic success and fulfillment in life.

7) It ain’t over ’til it’s over. As the great and somewhat quirky hall-of-fame catcher from the New York Yankees Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This is, of course, true in baseball and in life. So often individuals and teams get counted out – which was true for both of the teams playing in this year’s World Series, as well as many of the individual players on both squads, especially the Giants. However, baseball is a game of many second chances and opportunities for redemption – just ask Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. His story of recover from addiction is inspiring and a great example of perseverance. We are confronted on a daily basis in life with opportunities to give up, give in, and quit. Remembering that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” is important for us in those low moments when we feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t give up – you never know what’s going to happen; as we’re continually reminded about through the great game of baseball and the great experience of life.

Whether you love baseball like I do, get into it from time to time (especially at this time of year), or think it’s a ridiculous and boring game – I hope you’re able to watch the World Series over this next week and not only appreciate it for the exciting sporting event that it is, but also look more deeply into the beautiful way it can teach us so much about ourselves and how to live life to its fullest.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

01 oct

The Importance of Celebrating

MikeRobbins96How do you feel about celebrating? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know, you probably enjoy it.

However, I notice that as much as I like to celebrate, I sometimes find it challenging as well. Here are some of the reasons that I use not to do it:

  • I don’t have the time or money to celebrate right now, there’s work that needs to get done
  • Things aren’t yet as good as they “should” be for me to stop and celebrate
  • People will think I’m weird, naive, or obnoxious if I celebrate too much
  • With so much suffering in the world and people having a tough time these days, it’s not appropriate for me to celebrate
  • I’ll celebrate, for sure, but not until everything turns out exactly as I want it to

Can you relate to any of these?

We were recently at Disneyland with our girls. We love it there! One of the many magical aspects of Disneyland is how they fully embrace the power of celebration. Every day at Disneyland feels like your birthday, favorite holiday, and New Year’s Eve – all wrapped into one. The parade down Main Street is even called “Celebrate You.”

I was really struck by this focus on celebration when we were there most recently and realized that one of the main reasons people come to Disneyland (and keep coming back, like us) is that it’s an excuse to celebrate. And while they do an amazing job at Disneyland with the rides, the characters, the shows, the fireworks, and more – the real magic behind it all is the power of celebration.

Too often in life we think we have to have a “legitimate” reason to celebrate – a birthday, winning an award, an anniversary, the completion of a project, the accomplishment of a goal, taking a vacation, or some other “special occasion.” While all of these things can be fun to celebrate, we don’t have to wait for them to happen to feel justified in our celebration.

At Disneyland they celebrate just to celebrate – on Tuesday mornings and Thursday nights, on special occasions and holidays, and on every single day throughout the year. What if we did more of this in our lives – even and especially when things get tough?

While it may seem counter-intuitive, celebrating for “no reason” and counting our blessings when things are hard can literally transform our experience of being alive.

I was in a cab in Houston a few years ago, heading back to the airport after speaking at an event for Chevron. The cab driver and I got into an interesting conversation about life, family, and the state of our culture in America. The driver told me he was from Ethiopia originally, but had been living in the United States for about twenty years.

I asked him, “What’s your take on American culture, given that you didn’t grow up here.” He paused for a long time; then asked me, “Can I be honest with you?” I said, “Of course.” He then said, “I think most people in this culture act like spoiled brats.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked, a bit surprised by his response. “Mike,” he said, “I’m from Ethiopia…every day here is a good day. I don’t understand why people just don’t walk around here with their hands in the air saying ‘THANK YOU’.”

Regardless of what’s going on in our lives right now, we have so much to celebrate and be grateful for. We don’t have to wait until we close the deal, win the game, finish the project, get to retirement, fall in love, reach out goal, or whatever else it is we feel we need to accomplish in order to celebrate.

Sometimes the best thing for us to celebrate is the mere fact that we’ve made it to this point in life, especially if things have been challenging, which for many of us they have been recently and/or at times in our lives.

Celebrating is not only an after-the-fact phenomenon; it’s a way of being and can become a way of life if we choose to live that way. Stop for a moment right now and think of all the things (big and small) that you can celebrate about your life right now. As Oprah Winfrey says, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on October 1st, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

23 sep

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

MikeRobbins96Do you believe your thoughts? If you’re anything like me, you probably do – especially the ones you think and obsess about most (i.e. the negative, critical ones). However, what if our thoughts aren’t true? In many cases, they’re not – they’re just stories we’ve made up over time and continue to perpetuate with our thinking, speaking, and acting.

This past weekend, my wife Michelle and I went to a day-long workshop with teacher and author Byron Katie. The workshop blew us both away. Katie (as she goes by) created a simple, but profound inquiry process more than twenty years ago called “The Work,” which consists of four questions and a “turnaround.”

To utilize “The Work” you identify a specific negative thought (a complaint, a judgment of another person or situation, or something you criticize about yourself) and then ask these four questions:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

After you have investigated your statement with the four questions, you’re ready to turn around the concept you’re questioning. Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and see what you and the person, situation, or characteristic you’ve judged, actually have in common.

A statement can be turned around to the opposite, to the other and/or to the self. You then find a minimum of three genuine, specific examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

For example, let’s say you have an issue with your friend Joe. Your statement might be, “My friend Joe is too critical of me.” If you turn this around, it could be: “My friend Joe is accepting of me,” or “I am too critical of Joe,” or “I am too critical in general.” Then you’d look for multiple examples of where each of these “turnarounds” are true in your life.

The idea with this process isn’t to make yourself wrong or to live in fantasy land, it is to consciously question “reality.” Most of what we deem to be “real” (especially when it causes us to suffer) is made up of negative ideas, beliefs, judgments, and thoughts that we’ve come up with as a defense or justification. By questioning our “truths,” we expand our thinking and begin to see new possibilities. In other words, by not believing everything we think, we take back the power we often give away to our mind.

As I sat in the workshop and listened to Katie work with people one-on-one about some very intense circumstances and situations (grief, abuse, mistrust, guilt, conflict, and more), I was amazed by the freedom they were able to experience by simply inquiring into their negative thoughts and questioning them with an open mind.

It made me realize how many of my own judgments, complaints, and self criticisms go unchallenged and how I let my mind simply take over and run the show in certain areas of my life (especially the most “stressful” ones).

Not everything we think is true, thank goodness! The more willing we are to challenge our own thoughts and beliefs, the more peace and freedom we can create and experience in our work, our relationships, and our lives.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

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Posted by Mike Robbins on September 23rd, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,