When the King of Personal Development Blogging Steve Pavlina announced he was writing a book that promised to reveal the core underlying principles behind all personal growth, you can bet I got pretty excited. I’ve always been curious about the whys behind what we human beings do, and I was curious about what Steve had to say about the differences between people who grow and people who don’t.
I enrolled in his offer for a review copy of Personal Development for Smart People, and happily got it (mine was an e-book version – his publishing house got so many requests from overseas they couldn’t ship everyone a hard copy). I’ve sat with it the last two weekends to read, and this is what I got.
Most of us know chef Gordon Ramsay from his TV appearances; giving hell to contestants on Hell’s Kitchen or roasting restaurateurs on Kitchen Nightmares. Watching either show is a stark example of schadenfreude – German for ‘enjoyment taken from the misfortune of someone else’ – it’s painful sometimes but you can’t tear yourself away.
Ever since 37signals introduced me to Gordon and his show, I’ve enjoyed watching Kitchen Nightmares, not just because it’s entertaining, but because you can learn so much from it. Gordon’s not just a one-trick pony who’s getting famous on being egotistical, loud and overbearing, he’s also a great chef and entrepreneur.
I had always prided myself on my ability to make good choices and I thought this was one of them. A lifelong quest for the secrets of happiness; the years of studying and reading about attaining goals, human behavior, spirituality and psychology, had helped prepare me for this moment. And yet, I still did not have an answer.
I decided to sit at one of the beachside cafés and ponder the question. It occurred to me that a book I had recently purchased called Practicing the Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, was in my bag. I took it out and flipped through the pages, hoping it would give me a clue. I came upon this passage:
The fantasy soon faded as the viciousness of this crime forced me to recognize the polarities of Dominican Republic. Everyone was talking about this senseless act and adding their own incidences they had either experienced or heard about; robberies at gunpoint, misconduct by the police, medical mistreatment and others.
My perspective on my new country was rapidly shifting from positive to negative. This new reality was hitting me like an oncoming train. The six-month honeymoon with my new home was now over. My dark feelings were self-perpetuating, and what’s worse, I didn’t know how to stop them. It was a downward spiral, as each negative thought attached to the next negative thought like links on a chain. The more links, the heavier the chain and before I knew it, I was a prisoner, captive of my own feelings.
A memorial was held at my daughter’s school to honor the short life of one of her schoolmates, a fourteen-year-old boy named Marc El Wafi, who was shot in the head while defending his friends. The memorial described a child who sounded like a living angel. Friends and teachers shared their stories about his acts of kindness, his wonderful sense of humor, and his jovial spirit.
In just eight months at the school, he had touched their hearts deeply and made an imprint that would last a lifetime.
After this great run of posts by guest blogger Carey Powell, I’m very pleased to introduce Karen Parsons, President of Successful Solutions Life Coaching who will be sharing a beautiful true story with us next week.
To get to this place, you had to make many changes. Some were small, some were large, some were trivial and some were absolutely life altering.
Now comes the job of maintaining those changes and keeping that goal alive in your life. You’re riding high right now, but what will happen when real life creeps back in (bad habits included)? What will you do when day-to-day pressures or complacency threaten your new found habits and lifestyle? You can plan ahead and come up with a maintenance strategy that will meet those challenges head on.
While on my recent 2-week journey across Japan, I had the chance to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. And because I underestimated how much time I’d have on the trains, I ended up reading it not just once, but twice. And yet, I enjoyed it as much the second time round as the first.
Eat, Pray, Love is the story of Elizabeth’s travels through Italy, India and Bali as she struggles out of a recent divorce and turbulent love affair, in search of the three things she has been missing in her life: pleasure, devotion and balance.
I don’t claim to have all the answers on how to create a successful blog – in fact, I’d be wary of anyone who’d say he does. I don’t claim to have a wildly successful blog either, so investigate what I say. But there have been lessons along the way, running Life Coaches Blog for near 3 years now. And these 9 points are how I’d summarize them.
1. Know What You Want Out of It
To be successful, you have to define how you’re going to measure it, or you’ll always be chasing after rainbows.
How are you standing in the way of your dreams and goals?
It’s time to stop telling yourself lies, stop making excuses and (gulp) take a long hard look at what role you are playing in your current situation.
If you’re willing to ask yourself the hard questions now, you can save yourself from facing them as even bigger roadblocks in the future. But if you skip this step, you’ll keep coming up against these same issues over and over again, no matter how hard you work.
Some of us have been angry for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like not to be angry anymore.
We’ve become so attached to our anger that we think it’s who we are. But it’s really no more a part of you than an old wound is, when it’s time to finish healing you just have to let the scabs fall. It might leave a scar, but even that fades with time.
You might have to change so much that you’ll have to become a different person. And that can be scary. The unknown usually is. But what is it that you’re so afraid of losing by hanging on to your rage? What will you lose if you let it consume you? And what will you gain when you finally move on?
Finding gratitude is a fundamental step in the self-improvement process. You can’t expect anything new to come into your life without first having a genuine sense of appreciation for what you have now.
Gratitude invites a sense of humility and a focus on what truly matters – which can be especially challenging in our materialistic society. It helps you to see that while you may not have everything you want, you do have more than everything you need. Gratitude brings everything into balance and gives you a proper perspective.
Just 3 links this week, because they’re each so rich with nuggets of wisdom.
Derek Sivers interviews Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Workweek, which turns out to be a must-read article for anyone who has something they’d like to be doing if they didn’t have to do anything. Here are some of my favorite bits (and there are so many).
Long life is not guaranteed, folks. It’s important to really question this deferred-life plan that saves all retirement for the end. (more…)
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
If you have a vision of what you want to achieve, it’s essential to create an action plan of how and when you’re going to do it. This is the time to set specific goals, assign timelines and watch as quantifiable results begin to manifest.
You’ll break down each action item into manageable tasks, to guard against overwhelm. And when you meet each of your own self-imposed deadlines, plan to give yourself a special reward. This will help you follow through and stay committed.
Life Coaches Blog has been quiet for a while, but starting tomorrow I’m pleased to introduce guest blogger Carey Powell of Fearless Coaching who has a great series of articles lined up for the next few weeks.
Last week, Life Coaches Blog’s server on Site5 broke down and we became inaccessible for a few days. To their credit, Site5 has apologized and given half a year’s worth of free hosting for all sites that were affected.
While that was going on, I was in Shanghai for a working trip and couldn’t be online to check for updates. Thanks to all my friends who messaged me to ask about what happened to Life Coaches Blog, I appreciate it.
My life’s been shifting the last few months, as I found myself feeling dissatisfied and thoughtful. Questions like; what’s really important to me? with the limited time and energy I have left on this planet, what do I want to commit it to? and ; what would make me happier? ran through my head.
Who do you think of when you picture someone talking in monotone? I personally think of Ben Stein who did the Clear Eyes commercials a few years back. His voice remained at the same tone throughout the commercial. He did not show any excitement whatsoever in the product he was selling. He was just straightforward, to the point, and the commercial was over. Many people would probably describe him as boring.
Albert Einstein once said; “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” I’ve been going on about the simple life lately, but what exactly is simplicity and why is it such a big deal?
In this series, I want to explore simplicity through the eyes of different people. Hopefully, this will enrich our ideas about simplicity and help answer those questions for both you and me.
It is sad but true that as a person ages their skin starts to look rather like an old and wrinkled apple. It might have spots and blemishes, or it may just be covered in wrinkles – or worse still it is more likely to have a combination of both. If you are concerned with the shape your skin is in, it could be time to do something about it, like having IPL Skin Rejuvenation.
Collagen is a natural product that keeps your skin looking smooth and youthful. As you age, the amount of collagen under the outer layer of skin tends to reduce and your skin develops the texture of crepe, or it wrinkles badly, especially on the back on the hands. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
The process of decluttering is a lot like GTD. For the uninitiated, GTD or Getting Things Done is the time-management process taught by David Allen, but I like to think of it as a decision-making process instead. In GTD, you make choices about what things that come into your life mean, whether and where they’ll find a place in it or not – a process that comes in very handy when you’re cleaning up your clutter.
Why Get Things Decluttered?
David Allen, a founder of GTD, likes to make the point that the stuff in your life occupies psychic RAM – the problem is that most people don’t process that stuff properly and so it creates unnecessary stress. (more…)
I went through a cupboard full of old things last weekend as part of decluttering for Chinese New Year, and ended up throwing away lots of old stuff.
But it wasn’t easy. In fact, I dug up books that I hadn’t seen in years, and if you know me, you know I have a great fondness for books. I grew up with some of these books and boy, did they bring back some memories.
Have you ever found yourself feeling fine one moment, and suddenly lousy the next? Has a rotten memory ever come up for no good reason, and made you feel bad the whole day? Have you ever wondered why you sometimes irrationally imagining how badly the future could turn out – and wish you could stop doing that?
Your Mind, Your Body & a Thing
A lot of us use a computer almost everyday. It helps us get things done, communicate with people and learn new things. It is a source of pleasure but also pain. But you know when a computer breaks down, you wouldn’t say that ‘you’ were broken. (more…)
It’s that time of the year again when we Chinese prepare for the Chinese New Year. If you’re not that familiar with the festival, it’s the beginning of the new year for us based on the lunar calendar, and involves a lot of eating, visiting and especially cleaning!
For days before the new year, we sweep out the house, wipe down corners that haven’t been seen for ages, throw out old stuff and buy new ones. It’s an old tradition to start off the new year with a clean house and new clothes, and there’s a Chinese saying that translates to; ‘if the old doesn’t go, the new doesn’t come‘. (more…)
So what did I get from 10 days of keeping absolutely quiet, without any books, TV, internet connection and writing materials, sitting in meditation from morning till night?
Without any external inputs and any way to output my thoughts, I was forced to observe. Forced to observe me, my own thoughts and feelings.
I saw the inordinate amount of rubbish that went through my mind every day, and I found a way to be aware of it and be pulled along unawares. I saw old mental patterns emerge and new perspectives on old misgivings. (more…)
While the days inside the Vipassana center blurred into each other, I remember that day 3, 5 and 7 were especially difficult for me.
While there were days of deep concentration and peacefulness, these were days when my mind’s old habits fought back to re-assert themselves. Doubts, agitation, aggression, my mind threw everything at me to rebel against this insistence on quietude and focus. (more…)
The next stage of my journey saw me heading to the Vipassana center in Prachinburi. After reaching Bangkok from Udon Thani, Paiboon and I parted ways as he was going to another Vipassana center.
While waiting for the bus, I wasn’t quite so sure what to expect. 10 straight days of meditation, starting at 4:30AM in the morning, without any books, music players, TVs or writing materials allowed â€“ not to mention no talking at all?
Christine Kane has a better way for you to start your year: choose a word.
Just one word.
And this word will be your guiding focus for the next 12 months.
Last year, I chose the word courage. Looking back, I think I’ve done pretty well. I faced my fear of talking to strangers over and over and even made friends with a few. I also kept stretching the boundaries of my comfort zone by doing new things like getting my driving license, and facing my fear of heights by jumping off trees.
You’re probably already aware that confidence plays an enormous role in business success. When you exude confidence, you naturally attract others. People listen to you, follow you, and even buy products from you. Displaying confidence assures people that you know what you’re doing.
Even people with the highest levels of self-esteem feel unsure of themselves at times. Consider how difficult it is to be confident when you first start a new job and you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you don’t feel fully comfortable with the routine, and you haven’t developed strong relationships with your co-workers yet. You probably don’t appear very confident.
Most of us go through our entire lives reacting to our own interpretation of the happenings and events in our lives. We live in fear, we fall asleep in quiet desperation and we do anything we can to protect what we think is ours. Under the guise of personal power, we falsely believe that we are able to control everything in our lives by holding the things we cherish most so tightly that we are never threatened by their loss.
Your False Ego Makes You Afraid
In the Vedic scriptures, this is referred to as ‘False Ego’. It is our desire to lord it over everything in our lives in order to maintain security, control and a false sense of power over our material existence. It is completely fear-based and referenced from our perception of events in our pasts. It is unreal, yet perceived as real and therefore given the power to manipulate our life experiences. (more…)
A traditional Japanese tea room is exceedingly simple, with a bare minimal of decoration, helping the participants of the tea ceremony to focus on just what is at hand. In other words, the room and the ceremony are made to help people just be.
I think there is great value in this being. Lately, I’ve noticed myself getting more and more anxious, more and more worried that certain things wouldn’t go well, that things just weren’t good enough. (more…)
Today I mourn the loss of a dear friend, a good brother who never failed to warm your heart with his cheerful disposition, lend a helping hand when you were down and give generously to those in need. He inspired me through his actions, his accomplishments and his struggles against all odds, to be a better person. Therefore I beg your indulgence for a few moments as I share with you my personal impression of him.
I remembered that during one of the difficult periods in my life, he was there encouraging me. He would say, “E, you’re still young, you have plenty of good things waiting for you, so don’t let this thing bog you down, never give up on yourself”. (more…)
I finally finished my vision board a couple of weeks ago with some pushing from my mastermind group.
For the uninitiated, a vision board is a poster with images of what you want to have, do and be in your life. The idea behind this is the same as putting your goals, tasks and intentions in a place where you see them everyday; you make it easier to attract these things into your life.
It was easier and more fun than I thought. I bought a cheap board from Ikea, a few magazines, printed some inspiring photos, got it done and now it’s hanging in front of my desk.
I’ve been wondering lately about what decluttering really means. One of my favorite designers John Maeda, author of The Laws of Simplicity, says in his (ironically rambling) TED talk that the simplest definition of simplicity is that ‘simplicity is about living life with more enjoyment and less pain’.
That rings very true. So how do we get more enjoyment and less pain in our lives? The art of decluttering is obviously about removing all the unnecessary bits of our lives that cause us more pain than we need; the undone task lingering in the back of our minds for two weeks, the stiff doorknob we keep putting off oiling, the pile of old clothes we refuse to throw out.
I was reading Marc Allen’s The Millionaire Course and wondering why I’ve always seemed to have problems with money. Growing up, my family turned from being well-off to struggling and it seemed like I got stuck with this ‘poverty consciousness’ along the way.
Then I got to wondering about difficulties at work. Why was it that something I could have finished in much less time took much longer for me to complete – and why was it such a struggle to get it done?
Self-awareness is often the first step towards growth. But is there any drawback to being a person who’s keenly aware of his environment, his actions and the people around him?
It’s a tendency to kick himself in the ass for all the mistakes he’s seen himself make throughout the day.
You see, the more aware a person is, the more he’s able to notice when he flubs up.
That’s when his critical voice kicks in; ‘how could you have done that, I can’t believe you said that, you should have known better, yadda yadda yadda now no-one will ever love you and everyone in the universe will know you’re such a total loser!’
I was stressed. Somehow I kept feeling like there was something bugging me…what? Then it hit me – and I had been staring at it all day long for weeks. It was my desktop clutter.
This is a screenshot of my desktop at work. I thought it’d be a great idea to have my task list displayed (via Samurize, method here), together with my calendar appointments and the local weather via widgets (my office has no windows). And a kick-ass wallpaper.
Is it email? TV? Fame? Money? Is it what you drive? What you have or don’t have? That new toy you just can’t live without? Is it your past? Someone you haven’t seen in years? Is it what people say you are? Is it what others think of you? Is it what you believe? Is it your own voice or the voices of others?
Watching Spiderman 3 reveals a part of the Hero’s Journey that is not often seen; the hero’s downfall.
If you’re not familiar with the previous steps of the hero’s journey, download my free Hero’s Journey ebook. If you’re familiar with the 10 steps, you’ll know the Spiderman movies are wonderful metaphors for the hero’s journey (although the Lord of the Rings trilogy kicks so much more ass!).
The hero’s downfall can happen anytime after the Supreme Ordeal. After the hero’s faced down his biggest enemies, and possibly Claimed His Treasure, his ego gets inflated. Having had a taste of his own power, he mistakenly begins to think he’s the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread. He becomes an arrogant pain in the ass.
What’s the difference between someone who’s led around by the nose and someone who does the leading?
In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we learn about the Law of Prerequisite Variety: the element in any system that has the most flexibility will end up leading the system.
Think of little children, they have incredible flexibility. To get you to do something, they’ll tease, cajole, beg, lie, cry, laugh, use logic, use emotion, jump up and down, be adorable, be funny, and they’ll keep doing it until they get what they want.
Adults seem to have 2 or 3 patterns they keep coming back to 😛
In Getting Your Life On Track Part 1, we discovered a way to find out if the things we spend our time on are really that urgent and important.
In Getting Your Life On Track Part 2 we revealed how you could use that understanding to develop clear and important goals for yourself, so you’d always know you’re doing what you could best be doing. (more…)
Ever feel like you’re caught up in doing, but not sure if you’re doing what you should be doing? It’s scary to think we could be throwing all our time and energy into climbing a ladder, only to find at the top it’s been leaning on the wrong wall.
In Getting Your Life On Track Part 1, we discovered a powerful way to find out if the things we spend our time on are really that urgent and important. (more…)
I had a blinding flash of the obvious the other day: I realized why I’d been falling behind on my commitments and feeling more stressed out the last few weeks.
I’d fallen for the lure of the urgent important and been chasing shiny trinkets of faux productivity. And it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough time, although that would have been a convenient – and irresponsible – excuse. It was because instead of leading my schedule, I’d let myself by led by it. (more…)