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Monday, March 28, 2011

Deliberate Practice....the key to change

Want to change something? Practice the change. Be deliberate and practice the change. What does that mean? Well, if you wanted to change a behavior, like smoking or drinking or comfort eating (those are ones that come up often) you would practice where you think. Thats right where you think. You have the urge to smoke, where is that urge coming from? It's coming from the emotional control center of your brain, the Amygdala, which is a small region of the brain that is responsible for releasing the neuropeptides that create the feelings you have associated with each emotion you experience.

Why is this so important to changing a behavior? Because we literally become addicted to our emotions. The neuropeptides that are released dock on the cells of your body which is how you feel the different emotions you "Feel". If you want to change a behavior, especially a habit, change where you think, which will change how you think, which will change how you behave. The change you want to make in where you think is from the Amygdala to the the Frontal Cortex of the brain which is often referred to as the executive region of the brain. This area of the brain has the ability to discern the future consequences of current activities and has the ability to suppress urges that otherwise may lead to unwanted outcomes.

Can you see how where you think is critical to changing behavior? The minute you move to emotional thinking, you are screwed when it comes to changing a behavior, that is why Deliberate Practice is so critical. Practice when done right, changes where and how you think resulting in a lasting change. When you are emotional, you react, literally you re act behavior that you have acted out in that same emotional behavior in the past. Deliberate Practice changes the behavior that you re act, or act out in the future.

My good friend and mentor Bob Beck taught me this years ago as he was teaching me to play the game of golf. We were out at the range one day and he asked me what I did when playing and my ball ended up in a divot (a hole created by a previous shot) in the fairway. My reply was "if we didn't have a game on the round, I would move it onto grass". He went on to explain to me that in a tournament you couldn't move it, and you would probably get frustrated or down right mad, which would leave you with two things working against you pulling off a good shot. Emotion and lack of practice hitting a shot like that. But if you practiced those shots, you wouldn't get mad and you would be much more confident in pulling off an adequate shot. I Didn't know it at the time but he was teaching me how to change "where" I was thinking.

So how do you change where you are thinking? Engage in an activity that kicks in the Frontal Cortex, which is where Deliberate and Practice comes in. You have to be deliberate with this and practice it. Take for an example, you have the urge to eat a chocolate covered donut. The urge is coming from an emotion and the desire to experience that taste, which lets face it, is pretty good. Your practice would be to catch yourself when the urge kicks in and to think "I can get the immediate satisfaction of the taste of that donut, but it really is not very nutritional and will have a very short term affect on my appetite, will turn to sugar very quickly resulting in me being hungry again really quickly, what is an alternative that I could enjoy? I could have a Pro Bar which is full of nuts and complex carbohydrates which will give me lasting energy and is much more nutritious, I'll eat that instead".

Simple, but not easy. Not easy because for most people satisfying the urge is auto-pilot. But the point is not satisfy the urge, its changing where you are thinking which is what halts the urge. By engaging the frontal cortex and thinking through the consequences downstream you are addressing the urge. The more you practice this the more it becomes part of your subconscious mind and in time you will just eliminate the urge from coming up. Make sense? Simple, but not easy.... but it works!!!

But don't take my word for it, check out The Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco. Mimi Silbert is the founder and since 1971 has been helping criminals change behaviors that landed them in the court systems and prison to behaviors that allow them to live productive, responsible and socially acceptable lives. Oh, and by the way she does this without counselors, doctors or therapists. The residents (criminals) help each other change bad behavior to healthy behaviors with success rates achieved nowhere else. Check it out.

Start with small changes and then gradually work up to bigger life changing behaviors, the more you change the more benefit you realize and the internal motivation for Deliberate Practice becomes very empowering. It makes it much easier if you have an accountability partner that you can work with and discuss what and how you are doing.

Deliberately practice where you are thinking, take the position of observer and just watch where your auto pilot goes to in different situations. If it is not serving you in a positive way, change where you are thinking. What have you got to lose? Auto pilot behaviors that don't serve you? Decisions that in hind sight, you think, "why in the world did I do that?".....be Deliberate and Practice and see what changes you can make for you and everyone else that you interact with......as you change in positive and productive ways, you change the world.....You know that right? Be the Change......

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hey dumb ass, I'm talking to you!!! Redux

I just realized I have not had that thought in some time. I used to affectionately call my self "dumb ass" when I realized my true self was trying to tell me something but I wasn't listening. I'm going with the theory that I listen to my true self so much that I don't have the opportunity to use that phrase anymore.

Do you ever think about the meaning behind your words or thoughts? I do, and I strive to be as deliberate as I can about my thoughts, words, and actions as well as the intent behind them. How important is this? Here is a real life example.

At my office, another company has been hiring some of our entry level managers and paying them fairly significantly more than they were making with us. I have walked up on a number of conversations that revolved around maybe our company will make adjustments to our salaries as a result of the recent "jumping ship" for more money. I usually tell them not to worry about that happening, but ask how they are doing in earning their monthly incentive bonus, and generally, the answer is "I haven't made any the last few months" or "not much lately". The meaning behind the commentary of these managers is that "I should be paid more, but I don't have control over what I am paid" or some variation on that theme.

If we get what we are, and we do, what are those managers? They are managers that get what they are "given" rather than managers that earn what they are worth by delivering on their potential. And how limiting is that belief? Very. So what if they changed their belief to be something like "I'm a talented developer of people and the people I am responsible for deliver high performance as a result of my development"? If they truly believed that, their actions would be congruent with the belief and their people would deliver high results and the incentives they earned would be higher. Sound simple? It is simple.

I have a group of newly hired employees that just finished training this week. I make it a point to be very involved in new hire training and Thursday I covered the incentive plan for this class once they begin their job after training. The first question I asked them was "why do you want to know about the incentive plan?", and the response was "so we know how we can make more money". This was my reply "Good, I'll tell you how you can make more money and then I'll tell you about the incentive plan".

Essentially I told the class for the next 90 days not to look at their statistical results, i told them to not even look at reports. The reason for this is I want them focused on the process of their work, learning and building confidence in interacting with their customers because that is what will impact their incentive earning. The numbers or statistics are the residual effect of the work they perform, exactly as the "current" experience you are having is the result of the thoughts and feelings you had sometime previous to "Now". Make sense?

So if this approach of focusing on the process results in better performance in your work, and it does, then is it much of a stretch to think that it might work with your thoughts? No it is not!! When you are deliberate in your thoughts and the resulting feelings, your experience will be in line with what you want because you were deliberate in creating the "You" that is resonant with your desires. I reincarnate myself at least several times a day by doing this. Literally, I reincarnate the version of me that will create my desires, just by aligning my thoughts with my "True Self"

I make no bones about the fact at I do not manage by numbers. And I work in a results oriented environment, where everything is measured. I actually had one of my managers tell me not to say "I don't manage by numbers" because it makes people feel uneasy. He actually told me that. He went on to say, "keep doing what your doing, your delivering great results, just don't talk that way in meetings". Well, I get way to much enjoyment out of communicating what I do to stop talking "that way" in meetings.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"The drive is the most important shot in Golf, it sets up the hole" Ben Hogan

Anyone that knows me understands my Love for Ben Hogan, and not just because he was the best golfer to ever play the game, and he was! Yeah, Nicklaus was great and Woods is dominant, but Hogan played a different game and while there are a few players that have more Major wins than him, nobody has a better performance for the amount of Majors he played in. Nobody!!!

I love the Man, because of the lessons I learned from him. The lessons on a life well lived. The deliberateness with which he took in preparing himself for tournament play can and should be used in everyday life. Life can and should be practiced. The key is to be very deliberate in your practice.

"The Drive is the most important shot in golf, it sets up the hole." What Hogan meant with that fact is that to have the best chance at hitting an approach shot to a pin tucked in the back right of a green, you need to hit your drive to the left side of the fairway. You also need to be able to work the ball either way, curve it from left to right or right to left in order to avoid trouble.

What does that have to do with real life when your not playing Golf? Well, say you need to have to have a difficult conversation with your Boss. You want to provide some feedback to them that they may not be particularly fond of. You know what you want to accomplish, but do you think about beforehand the after affects of the emotion that may arise from it. Sure they may not be open to it, but how will that make you feel? And if you are frustrated by it, do you think about how that may impact the way you behave after the fact? If your like most people, probably not.

This happened to me recently, and I haphazardly hurt somebody that I greatly respect by not catching myself in a frustrated moment. While I made amends, I am fortunate to have a great mentor that pointed out my mistake. what I took from this is to be deliberate in thinking about not only what you want to accomplish with a particular interaction, but thinking about the outcome as well and how that may affect you.

So how do you overcome a negative emotion? Be aware of "where" you are thinking! Literally "where" you are thinking is the key. Emotive thinking is coming from the Amygdala, and depending upon the emotion, rarely can an individual stop a reaction from the emotion being experienced. However, you can recognize that you are in a state that is different than "Normal". If you do recognize your state as different than calm, clear and confident, all you need to do is engage your frontal lobe which allows you to make time based decisions. In other words, the frontal lobe allows you to contemplate future consequences from current actions or re-actions and you wont do or say something that you will later regret.

How do you engage the frontal lobe? Engage yourself in a puzzle or a problem solving exercise, even play Solotaire!! The point is that you want to shift your thinking from reactionary (reptilian) thinking to cognitive thinking so that you remove the emotion out of the mix. The easiest way to do this is to be deliberate about where you are thinking, which is in essence is thinking about where you want your drive to end up in order to give yourself the best approach shot into the green.

In order to accomplish this, you need to be deliberate in thinking not only about the outcome you want, but where will you be if you do not achieve the outcome you are looking for. You do not get what you want necessarily, you get what you are!! Is there a theme forming here in this Blog about being deliberate in your thinking? Yes there is, and I got it from Ben Hogan and it applies to everything you do......next, how this concept can be applied to addictive behaviors....stay tuned!!

And not as an after thought, but genuinely I want to thank everyone that is reading this Blog, I started this for myself, but I'm humbled and glad that so many people from around the world are reading this. I hope it finds you well and is beneficial in your time reading it!!

Lastly, a huge outpouring of admiration and well wishes for the people of Japan. You are a light of inspiration for how the collective of humanity can come together in times of need.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Inner wisdom.....always there!!!

It's been awhile since my last post, been doing some inner work that is wonderful and perplexing at the same time. Eldon Taylor has some great books, and his latest is titled "What Does That Mean?". I use that question frequently being careful not to get obsessive with the question but just to ponder whatever it is that I am questioning. It's most useful when something does not go as I had planned, or with parenting or with co-parenting with one of my best friends, or when I realize I am inspired to do something that I thought about but have not acted on. And the question always, if I allow it to, brings me in awareness of my inner wisdom. Brings me in alignment with my higher self and the answer always comes. Much like creative writing where you just write without any pre thought about what it is you are writing and the result is insight into something in your current thought patterns. Have you ever done that? Try it!

Take for instance, de-cluttering your home or office. When you have been inspired to do this what does it mean? For some people it might mean getting clarity around a situation. For others it might mean simplifying things is a wise thing to do right now. For me it has to do with energy, the energy of stuff and I have been all of a sudden focussed on the energy of my home. It's time, for the past four years I have been focussed on the energy of my thoughts and what they create. Not a bad thing, it's been one the best things I have ever embarked upon and life has improved immensely. What has a happened is that other facets of my life have changed or been put on the back burner, like relationship, my physical fitness that was a very big part of my daily life.

So what does that mean? Well, for me what that means is that getting a working understanding of how your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions (they are all interconnected) create your experience was that important for me to get a grasp of. Important for moving forward and growing, not just for me but everyone that I have interactions with. How do I know? I can tell by how I feel? How I feel in my heart as opposed to my head. That's the inner wisdom.

Now all of a sudden, eating right as nourishment and becoming active again with weight training, riding my bicycle, hiking, and even yoga are becoming part of my thinking. For instance just this morning the thought popped into my head, "today I am going to eat nourishing foods, there is always tomorrow for non nourishing foods". How easy is it to eat for a day nourishing foods and stay away from unbalanced foods? Easy! And tomorrow, the same thing. And probably on the weekend, I'll have some chicken wings or a greasy cheese burger with my son.

The point with this post is two fold. On one hand it's about listening to your inner wisdom which is always available to you and the second is that when you have inspired thoughts, run with them, because as with any thought, they are attractive and will attract more of the inspiring thoughts that will serve you the most. Thoughts are nothing more than energy, and like attracts like. When you are inspired by your thoughts, act on them, you are having them for a reason. The opposite is true, when you have thoughts but are not inspired to act by them, don't act!!! Seriously, do NOT act on uninspiring thoughts.....it won't serve you.

Something you can do when having uninspiring thoughts is ask the question, "What does that mean?" or "What if it were different?" and then let it go and see what comes to you......if you allow (by not getting fixated on the thoughts) inspiring thoughts will come. We are divine ineffable beings here for expansion not contraction to make manifest anything we want to have, be or do.....including the manifestation that comes from uninspired thoughts because ultimately those move life toward inspired manifestations (through the contrast they create), but why go through that when you can spend so much more time in inspired manifestations. Be deliberate in your thinking, the cycles of life will take you out of alignment, that's part of the process. Everybody walks through the valley of death and darkness at some point, so just walk out, don't pitch a tent there and call it home........you know some peeps that do that, you know you do.......don't be one of them.

Today, I eat for nourishment, there is always tomorrow for greasy cheese burgers and fries. That reminds me of a sign I saw in a bar and grill recently. It read, "Free Beer, Tomorrow Only". All you have is today, which is all you need and it's so much better when you create your today with inspired thoughts as opposed to uninspired or haphazard thoughts.

One of my favorite Stories about getting what we are!!

Recreating yourself can at times seem to be spontaneous, but regardless of your perspective, be it deliberate or not, it is life changing. Here is a story from a mentor of mine at School. He had a student that was in an abusive relationship, with her recieving the verbal, emotional and physical abuse from her husband.

This particular event took place one evening. She and her husband were a young married couple that shared a car, she was running late finishing up an interview she was doing and was unable to contact her husband to let him know. She knew he would be upset with her and when she came out of her office and found that he was not there, she knew he left her and would be irate (so she was choosing her internal state based on a perception she had of their relationship). Sure enough, when she arrived home, he was waiting for her with a leather belt in his hand, and began yelling at her which led to him hitting her as he had so often done. She went into feeling victimized as she normally did in his attacks.

This time was different though, aside from the extremity of the attack, she went within rather than having a focus on the physical experience, and something literally in her words "clicked". Based on what I know about Beliefs, it was a shift in the energy of beliefs that she was holding, she changed her perspective. She said that time slowed down in relation to her thoughts, and she heard a voice inside her clearly say to her, "You know he's crazy, but you must be crazy too for putting up with this." And in that moment of realization she was transformed from a victim of an abusive husband to a woman who had choices. She said at that moment, even though she did not know how she would accomplish it financially or emotionally, that she would leave the relationship.

She said that she never said a word to him or even tried to defend herself, but at that very moment the most amazing thing happened. He stopped hitting her, he stopped screaming at her and simply walked away. The two, never spoke of the incident, and he never raised a hand to her again. She related that to her, at that moment she took personal responsibility for her well being and had changed at a deep fundamental level. Shortly after the incident, she moved out and the two divorced........and in her words, she had changed the world by changing herself.

This is a powerful example of vibrational resonance. Her internal state changed in an instance because of the shift in energy associated with the change in her Beliefs about her situation. Her internal state is what caused her ex-husband to immediately stop his actions, the two (her internal state & his) were no longer in resonance..............she changed from expecting him to be irate and abusive to a state of being in control of her life..............the sense that time slowed down relative to her thoughts was a mental shift which was a result of the energy associated with her old beliefs changing to the energy of her new belief that she was in control of her experience............Very Powerful!!!!

Do you see that? Can you imagine what was going through his head.............he probably had no idea why, but he just had the urge to stop...........that is how pwerful your feelings are!!!! Do not under estimate how what you are feeling in your body changes your experience...............So what was it about this parrticular incident that sparked this change? Well, to me it is very much like a spontaneous remision of cancer after Doctors tell a patient that there is nothing more that medicine can do to prevent their Cancer from spreading..................The shift from having your health be in the hands of somebody else, to "okay, so if I have only so much time left, this is how I'm going to spend it"..............You take back control of your experience, and by doing so allow your higher self to come through. Her higher self was the voice she heard................Like my higher self that usually starts with "hey Dumb Ass....." I love it being called Dumb Ass, its my trigger to pay attention..............and its never wrong!!!!.........so spontaneous? I don't think so, If its your higher Self giving you guidance, how could that be spontaneous...............There are no random acts, you know!!