Sunday, March 26, 2017

10 Beliefs You Will Gradually Let Go of Over the Next 20 Years

The belief that waiting until tomorrow makes sense – We know deep down that life is short, and that death will come to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it comes to someone we know. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, so you find yourself off balance, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is. Truth be told, someday there REALLY won’t be a tomorrow! And this harsh reality needs to be respected.

The belief that you must find your motivation somewhere outside yourself – The most common problem with motivation, often not understood until later in life, is that when we say we’re looking for motivation, it implies that our motivation is somehow hiding behind a tree or under a rock somewhere. But that’s far from the truth. The truth is, our motivation comes from doing the right things. When our efforts have meaning behind them it motivates us to take the next step. For me – and we’re all different – I am motivated primarily by two core ambitions: first, knowing more today than I knew yesterday, especially as doing so relates to meaningful projects and desires, and second, easing the pain of others. Living by these two core ambitions on a daily basis, and regularly reflecting on the progress I’m making, invigorates me, personally and professionally. So think about it: Underneath all the things you say you have to do, at the end of each day, what is the significance and value you hope to create?

The belief that everyone else knows what’s best for you – Give yourself the space to listen to your own voice—your own soul. Too many people listen to the noise of the world and get lost in the crowd. But YOU can choose differently! Don’t watch too much TV, don’t read every fashion blog, and don’t consume too much mass media news. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about the Kardashians or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You’re giving your life away to marketing and media hocus-pocus, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to look a certain way and be a certain way. This is absolutely tragic, this kind of thinking! It’s all just a distraction from what is real and good. What is real and good is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, and your dreams. You know this already! Listen to what your heart is telling you! Eventually, one way or another, you WILL. Because there will inevitably come a day when you’ll finally be wise enough and strong enough to do so.

The belief that all the instant notifications and distractions are worth it – Distractions are in the palms of our hands these days, but we need to remember to look up more often. We need to learn to be more human again. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. You can’t connect with anyone, including yourself, unless you are undistracted and present. And you can’t be either of the two when you’re Facebooking, Instagramming or Snapchatting your life away on your smartphone. You just can’t! If you are constantly attached to your smartphone and only listening with your ears as your eyes check for the next social update, you are ripping yourself off of actually experiencing real relationships and real life. The same is true for texting too. Yes, someday you will be slapped with the reality of a missed MEMORY being far more unsettling than a missed TEXT!

The belief that being busy is beneficial – “Am I making meaningful use of this scarce and precious day?” It’s a simple question Angel and I challenge our course students to ask themselves anytime they feel busyness overwhelming them. And it’s a question that seems to gain relevance as we gain life experience. Time gradually shows us how fleeting our lives really are. Filling every day with busyness makes no sense, and yet it’s tempting to do just that. Resist the temptation! Leave space! Your ultimate goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the distractions people fill their lives with, leaving you with space for what truly matters. A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing, and resistance, but instead mindful contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects you truly love.

The belief that knowledge alone is enough – Learning by itself is great in the near-term, but it doesn’t cut it in the long run if you plan on making positive changes in your life. It’s one thing to know all twelve steps necessary to recover from alcoholism, for example, but it’s another thing entirely to dedicate yourself to actually carrying out each one of those steps. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes how you live. At some point we all learn this lesson, often the hard way, by realizing that we haven’t made any real progress. But then we take action, because that’s how real progress happens… and everything changes, for the better.

The belief that faster is better – In our youth it seems like faster is better, but in time we gradually witness the power of ‘slow and steady’ at work. We come to learn that no act of love, kindness or diligence, no matter how small, is ever wasted. The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a tree, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, is proof that YOU can make a big difference in life and business, even if it can’t be done all at once. So don’t break your back today. Remind yourself that you can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once. Yet you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times, especially when you spread the lifting over a series of days. Tiny, repeated, daily efforts will get you there.

The belief that comfort is the end goal – A very popular and harmful addiction in this world is the draw of comfort. Don’t be someone who never asks, “how?” or never pulls back further to ask, “why?” Too many young people don’t ask these questions because they know the answers would require substantial disruption to their comfort zone, and they don’t want to endure it. But that’s how the human mind grows, and eventually we all learn this, one way or another. When our minds are stretched with new questions and resulting experiences, they never shrink back to their previous dimensions – we are forever more competent and capable. Truth be told, emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of us away and deposits treasures we never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness. And so on and so forth…

The belief that you are at the center of the universe – When we’re young, we all have the tendency to place ourselves at the center of everything, and see every outcome from the viewpoint of how it affects us personally. But as we grow up and broaden our horizons, we begin to see that our self-centered thinking has lots of baggage that comes along with it – from feeling sorry for ourselves when things aren’t going exactly as expected, to doubting ourselves when we fail to be perfect. And we realize that shifting our focus onto others for a while can help. It’s one of life’s great paradoxes: when we serve others we end up benefiting as much if not more than those we serve. So whenever you feel stuck, try to shift your focus from your circumstances to the circumstances of those around you. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” ask, “How can I help you?” Find someone who could use an extra hand and make a small, reasonable offer they can’t refuse. The perspective you gain will guide you forward.

The belief that everyone is capable of being kind and loving – Not everyone will appreciate what you do for them, and not everyone will do for you as you do for them, because not everyone has the same heart as you. That’s reality. And you’ll eventually realize that you’ll be endlessly disappointed if you expect things to be different. So be kind and loving to people because you want to be, and don’t let your expectations get the best of you. With that said, however, you do ultimately have to figure out who’s worth your long-term attention and who’s just taking advantage of you. If your time and energy is misspent on the wrong people for the wrong reasons, you can end up in a tedious cycle of fleeting friendships, superficial romances that are as thrilling as they are meaningless, and a general sense of wondering why you always seem to be running in place chasing validation and affection.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Always Send Back The Elevator!

It is a clich̩ but one laced with truth РNo man ever achieves success all by himself РAt some point in our lives, we have all seen farther because we stood on the shoulders of others, seen clearer because others provided fresh eyes for us, and walked faster because we ran with more accomplished runners. Indeed, it is true that success doesn't come easy, but no one manages to make their dreams work without a combination of hard work and others opening and holding the door for them from time to time.

Sadly though, some press the ‘close door’ button on the elevator permanently as soon as they get to the peak of the building. They keep the elevator on their floor and never send it back. As you reach your goals and benefit from the opportunities others afforded you, don't forget to pass the good sentiment along and help those coming up behind you. The stories of a vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are underpinned by one constant – ‘someone took a chance on me’. In your journey of life, people will cut you some slack, believe in your dreams, give you a job even when you are not the most qualified and take a chance on you. Every one of us has a burden of responsibility to pass this on to others. It's only right for us to extend a helping hand back to the people who need it the most, especially when we're in a position to do so. Yet, while sending the elevator back is one thing, someone must be available at the right floor to get in once it arrives. Too many people complain with asperity about others not lending them a helping hand but the reality is that history is replenish with cases of misused opportunities. As they say, timing is everything.

However, even if no one sends you the elevator always remember that there is a twist in this metaphor. The actual point is good, but the subject takes a slant and pales in thorough logic. The elevator sends itself back down when its needed, so in the best case you're just making something that was already going to happen slightly faster and in the worst case you're making it slower for someone who wasn't where you expected them to be. The point here is that people will not always be gracious to send back the elevator, but ‘time and chance’ has a way of sending it back to us. The big question is are we always there to get in? Do we hear the beep when it arrives?

In the final analysis, no one gets to where they are on their own. We all owe our success, in part, to someone who gave us our first opportunity, believed in us enough to put us in a role that was a stretch, or pushed us to speak up when we would have preferred to stay comfortably quiet. What’s the best way to thank those advocates? By following their lead, paying it forward, and lifting others up as we climb. As Kevin Spacey once said “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

Sunday, March 12, 2017

An Open Letter to Those Who Always Put Themselves Last

Once upon a time, many moons ago, there was a village of people who lived in handcrafted wood houses. And like other villages in this era, fires were a very real and present danger at all times. One small flame could burn the whole village into ashes within a few short hours. So the villagers developed a clever fire fighting system. A rotating group of volunteers kept watch over the village from a lookout tower at all times, day and night. At the first sight of smoke, a volunteer would turn on a loud siren that was only ever sounded when warning the villagers about a fire.

The moment the siren sounded, all villagers would drop everything and run to a pre-assigned location for firefighting. Young, strong men and women would pump water as fast as possible from the village wells, teenage boys and girls would fill big buckets with water as it was pumped up from the well, and all the rest of the villagers would occupy designated locations and ultimately form human chains leading from the wells to the fire. The bravest men and women would stand next to the fire and heave buckets of water until the fire was extinguished.

One day a traveler from a distant village heard the siren and asked someone on the street about it. The woman – who was rushing toward her designated location – quickly explained, “Whenever there’s a fire, the siren is sounded and the fire is extinguished!” The traveler was amazed, and decided to bring this remarkable siren technology back to his own village, which also had dreadful problems with fires. Days later, he returned to his village with a siren that perfectly matched the one he witness in action on the lookout tower. He gathered all his villagers together, and he said, “You don’t need to fear fire anymore, my friends. I have found a new way to extinguish it. Watch closely, and I shall demonstrate.”

The traveler lit a large bale of hay on fire that was sitting next to his own cottage. The flames quickly began to spread closer and closer to his home. Then he took out the siren he’d acquired and sounded it. The fire only grew in its intensity, so he sounded it again. The fire continued to grow rapidly.

“Just be patient, everyone! It should happen any moment now…” In a panic he sounded the siren again and again, but still the fire grew and blazed with even more intensity. Within hours the entire village burned down to the ground… because, of course, the traveler had misunderstood the purpose of the siren. It wasn’t used to put out fires. It was simply a signal that directed the villagers to take positive action.


There’s a lookout tower in your life too. In that lookout tower, the siren has sounded. If you continue to do nothing when you hear the siren, your life, in many ways, will ultimately burn to the ground (dramatic, and true). For a siren extinguishes no fires on its own. But if you listen to the siren and let it motivate you to take positive action, you can save your own life… and create a sense of purpose, peace and resolve for yourself and those who depend on you.

The steps you need to take next won’t be easy, but they will be worthy. You will be one of the strong ones who know what it takes to fight and extinguish even the hottest fires that burn from within.Truth be told, sometimes we have to learn (or re-learn) to be our own best friends, because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies. We love the idea of being loved and listened to by others, but we forget to love and listen to ourselves.

It’s time to stop putting yourself last. Make yourself a priority today. Challenge yourself to listen to what your heart and mind is telling you. Resisting and ignoring your own feelings and emotions does not serve you. It leads to stress, illness, confusion, broken relationships, fits of anger and bouts of deep, dark depression. Anyone who’s experienced any of the above knows that these states of mind are horrifically unhealthy… and when you’re in the habit of self-neglect, it’s nearly impossible to escape.

Refuse to ignore your inner siren any longer. Refuse to neglect yourself. Choose to take up lot of space in your own life. Choose to give yourself permission to meet your own needs. Choose to honor your feelings and emotions. Choose to make self-care a top priority…

Choose yourself!


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Romance and Business: The Case for Football

First it was the Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, taking off the financial limits on football in the Premier league. For all the blatant cynicism that greeted it, his model has proven to be successful. 15 trophies in 13 years can only mean one thing in football: Success. But there is a dark side of this unprecedented wealth. Managerial attrition at Stamford Bridge is simply ludicrous. That it has been a tale of 12 managers in 15 years is less of the issue. What perpetually boggles the mind is that the club’s revolving door on managers haven’t necessarily led to failure. The facts will suffice here. Chelsea have won 15 trophies since the reign of the Russian billionaire; more than any other premier league club in the same period. But the Chelsea model has opened the floodgate to the Sheikh Mansours of this world to acquire City and the Thai billionaires to take over Leicester City. With the infusion of capitalist funds came capitalist tendency. Part of the romance football had, died. It was 'Owners power' that prevailed and in this new world there is little room for sentiments. Football managers more than ever before now live and die by results. Past achievement are relegated to the dustbin. The mind is senile to remember previous glory and all we do is live in the moment.

The world was unanimous in its outcry against the sacking of Italian tinkerman, Claudio Ranieri, by Leicester City owners. How could they even dare? This was a man that wrote what is arguably the greatest ever football narrative ever told when he led lowly Leicester to the trophy last season. They didn't just win the league, they did it at a canter. If 10 points gap at the end of the season was not a procession to the trophy I don't know what is. Yet, barely nine months after this fairy tale, Claudio was axed. His sin? Leicester were languishing in 17th place, 1 points beyond the relegation zone. You'd think he has earned the right to have a season in hell after last season's achievement, but such is life in modern football. Club owners are trigger hungry. They know when all is said and done, this sport is business, and business is about winning...And winning I should add is relative.

What does this all mean for the football lovers who see their club being run like a ruthless fortune 500 company? They learn to live with it. One reason for this is that football fans move on too quickly. For all the love fans have towards a manager or player, they are not so deluded not to know that it is just mere passion for them (at least for the most part). Hence, they always move on. Increasingly too, the place of ‘fans power’ is diminishing while the role of ‘player power’ is on the rise. For all the rantings that happens on Arsenal Fans TV daily on how Arsene Wenger is everything detrimental about Arsenal, he has remained the manager; even with a 13 years spell without the trophy.

Make no mistakes about it, we still love and will always love the game. It is the idiosyncrasies and unpredictability, it's ruthlessness and allure, its lows and highs, that still make us love the game. However, it is just that these days it is less romance and more of a demand to win. Our following is increasingly premised by success...And this success is majorly for bragging rights and business reasons (betting etc). We still genuinely love football but for slightly different reasons these days. The romance is not entirely divorced but fans like the lover who goes into a relationship with his head are now a bit more careful.

In football as in life, the show must go on. For a moment after Brexit, it appeared like the moon was going to drop off the sky. For a split time after Trump won, it looked like the apocalypse will come. For a span of time after Ranieri was sacked, it appeared like football will never remain the same again. But alas, none of those doom tales happened. The sun rose the next day. The pound steadied itself, America accepted the reality of president Trump at the oval office and the Foxes fans turned up en masse at the King Power cheering their team on to a resounding victory against Liverpool barely 4 days after their most successful manager was axed. One thing is clear: The show must always go on.