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Overcoming Life's Challenges and Difficult Times
"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing; it was here first." -Mark Twain
If you are not facing some kind of challenge in your life today I would be surprised. Why you ask? Isn't life supposed to be easy, joyous and filled with fun and achievement? Yes, it is but that doesn't mean that while hoping and waiting for these that we can't enjoy the process in spite of life's difficulties.
I love the opening line in the book, 'The Road Less Traveled' by Scott Peck. "Life is difficult." But he goes on to say, "That life is only difficult for those people who expect it to be easy."
Life is not easy, hard, challenging, fun, rewarding or any other adjective you can think of. Life just is, what it is. The desire to have it be something else is nothing more than wasted energy. So you say, "Why do some people have it easier with more money, better relationships, successful careers, a lot of playtime and travel? Why do I struggle to pay my bills and balance all of the requirements as a mother or father, business owner or employee?
Would you be willing to trade your eyes and the ability to see for one million dollars? Would you trade your freedom for a debt free life? I doubt it.
For years I have struggled with a simple concept - why are some of my friends or peers better off financially than I am. I have been at the speaking, training and writing business as long or longer than they have? I am as good as they are. I am as smart as they are and I work as hard as they do. Why are some people happier than I am? I am not whining just questioning. I have had a good life and career. I love what I do so - what's the difference. What I have learned after thirty years of questioning is that the difference is in outlook, focus, acceptance, effort, patience, gratitude, self promotion and trust.
Each of us has what we have earned. Each of us gets to keep what we deserve. Each of us loses what we no longer respect, cherish or take for granted.
I can't speak for you, but I can tell you from my personal experience in life that I am finally coming to grips with one of life's critical core ingredients and that is - that everyone has their own challenges and everyone who has them reacts to them differently and handles them uniquely. Some people handle them with poise while others rant and rave. Some people handle them with dignity while others deal in blame.
I hope you always have a challenge in your life; be it your career, financial, relationship or even a health one. I am not wishing poor health on anyone but we don't always get to choose which challenges come into our lives. But we can always choose our responses to them.
What difficulties are you facing today? Would you trade your children to have them removed from you're life? (Well if your kids are teenagers your answer might be different.) Would you trade all of your relationships for a life of solitude? Would you trade your health for financial independence and wealth? You see, each of us has been given those circumstances to help us grow in the areas of life where we need the most growth. If you have relationship challenges you may need some relationship growth. If you have financial challenges you most likely need some financial growth.
The secret to a happy and peaceful life is to understand that your personal challenges are in your life for a reason - to help you grow. If you choose not to grow from them you will remain stuck in their consequences and are doomed to repeat the same challenges again and again.
Relish your challenges. Thank God for them. Learn from them. Grow because of them and move on to the next ones with positive anticipation and gratitude.
The cost of failure and the price of success
Do you know the price of success? Have you ever paid the cost of failure? Which price are you paying now?
The cost of failure is always higher than the price for success. The cost of failure in a relationship, job, career or any area can cause a great deal of disruption and chaos in your life. Here are just a few for examples, the need to:
- find a new place to live.
- reduce your living standards.
- start looking for a new relationship.
- make new friends and leave old ones behind.
- start over in a new job with new rules and expectations.
- manage the stress or pain of the loss.
Sooner or later each of us must choose to pay the price of success or pay the cost of failure. On several occasions I have, due to immaturity, arrogance, ignorance or stubbornness, had to pay the price of failure in my career and life. Although there are lessons and learning in failure there is a better way to learn and that is from O.P.E. (Other People's Experience). You can read the books people have written about their struggles and lessons and what they learned. You can save a lot of time, energy, expense and trouble if you are willing and able to learn from O.P.E. You can meet people for lunch who are where you want to be or are doing what you want to be doing and learn from them. You can study the lives of people who have passed on and learn from their lessons.
Yes, sooner or later we are all going to fail at something. If you never fail you are playing far too safe for this lifetime. If you live on the edge of life, I guarantee that from time to time you will take a miss-step or stumble. But, always remember there can be learning and growth in the failure. I pity the person who has never failed. There is no way to truly enjoy the thrill of success unless you have something to compare it to.
What is the price of success?
It is doing what is right, necessary or required in a job, relationship or career. And it is doing it with love, positive expectation, joy and gratitude. It is doing it with consistency, integrity, passion and resolve and commitment.
If you compare the ultimate cost of failure with the price that is required for success I guarantee you there is only one obvious conclusion you can come to and that is - no matter what the price of success - it is always less than the cost of failure.
It would appear that some people would prefer to continue to pay the cost of failure rather than pay the price for success. Why is this?
- Some people are just unwilling to pay the price of success.
- Some people never understand the difference between the price of success and the cost of failure.
- Many people feel that luck will carry them through.
- Many people feel entitled to success without having to pay the price.
- Some people like the drama and trauma of the consequences of failure.
- A great many people have been programmed for failure by their environment.
- Most people are unwilling to study the laws of success and then routinely implement them.
Do you know the price you must pay for success? Are you paying it consistently?
The perfect relationship
"Security is a superstition, it does not exist in nature. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure." Helen Keller
Is there such a thing as a perfect relationship? If so what does it look like? First let's define perfect. Perfect - excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. Want more? Flawless, ideal yada, yada, yada.
If you tell me you have a perfect relationship what you are saying indirectly is that both of you are perfect. Relationships are independent entities that are created when two people come together whether in marriage or any other type of arrangement. A relationship can't be perfect because everything in nature has flaws or could improve in some way. Sooner or later we just have to learn to find joy in an imperfect sunset, mountain vista or child. Ask any grandmother and their grandson is perfect in every way. Ask anyone in love and they will say their mate is perfect. Compared to what? Is it really perfection or is it our view, attitudes, outlook, experience etc. that makes things perfect?
Perfection is a perception and perceptions depend on a variety of factors; age, experience, gender, life outlook, goals and attitudes to mention just a few. When a lover looks into the eyes of his or her new love they see only what they want to see - perfection. They tend to be willing or able to overlook perceived (personal opinions) flaws or faults in the beginning. But as time passes many of these same issues, traits or behaviors can become a source of aggravation and even conflict.
If all of this mumbo jumbo is true, and I believe it is - my perception - then there are no such things as perfect relationships just degrees of perfection based on the people's willingness to overlook certain factors.
When I have asked if people have an ideal or perfect relationship I hear things like:
- He/she understands me. (All of the time? Every time? Come on let's be honest here.)
- We have everything in common. (This can get a little boring don't you think!)
- We never argue about anything. (Give me a break.)
- Our relationship is in a good place now. (What about last week or last year?)
- Flexibility and compromise are the bywords of our relationship. (Every time - right!)
- I love everything about him or her. (Some stuff just hasn't surfaced yet, just give it time.)
- We can talk about anything without conflict. (I hate to call people liars, but.)
So, are there perfect relationships? No, because there are no perfect people. Are there successful relationships? Yes, millions of them. What is the difference between perfect and successful? Re-read the previous paragraph and you will now see the difference. Here, I'll help you.
- He/she understands me. (No - he or she doesn't but can accept you for who you are anyway.)
- We have everything in common. (It is the ability to manage differences in relationships that counts.)
- We never argue about anything. (We can have conflict without invalidating each other.)
- Our relationship is in a good place now. (Good is defined as the present. We stay focused on what is now - not what was, has been or could be.)
- Flexibility and compromise are the bywords of our relationship. (We keep our ego in check.)
- I love everything about him or her. (I don't like everything but it is who she/he is and I can learn to love unconditionally.)
- We can talk about anything without conflict. (We have learned to be honest with feelings and opinions without the need to be right or challenge each other.)
Don't tell me you have a perfect relationship. Tell me you have a relationship that is getting better every day because each of you are learning the skills necessary to improve it.
Corporate Disconnect, its causes and cures.
One of the concepts, that is an integral part of my new book, Lead, Manage or Get Out of The Way, is the simple fact that there are three fundamental levels in every organization and that the view from each of these is distinctly different and often out of touch with the overall reality of the business.
There is the view from 40,000 feet. This is senior management; the CEO, President, COB, COO and any other senior level executives. Or this can be the owner of a small business. Then there is the view from 20,000 feet. This is middle management and mid level supervisors. And there is the view from 500 feet. This is where the work in any organization gets done. This is the bulk of any organization - its salaried, hourly or commission based employees.
Corporate disconnect is the result of the different views from each group. This disconnect can cause or contribute to any number of corporate dysfunctions. Let me give you just a couple. Let's use the illustration of flying in a 737 jet aircraft.
At 40,000 feet you can see a long way off to the horizon, but the detail is very confusing and unclear. At 20,000 feet the view of the distant horizon is not quite as evident or clear, you can't see as far, but the detail is beginning to get clearer. At 500 feet you can't see very far on the horizon, but the detail is crystal clear. At 500 feet as you descend you can tell that the object moving is a green truck. At 20,000 feet you see something moving, but is it a truck or a cow? At 40,000 feet it is a speck on the ground.
Now, corporate disconnect.
Let's say that the CEO is very clear on the direction of the organization and shares that information with her management team. Let's also assume that some people on the management team have a different perceptual filter and hear the message differently. These managers now share their 'perception' of this message to the employees at 500 feet. So, some departments hear one message and another hears a completely different one. The outcome: confusion, performance issues, communication challenges and so on.
Let's say that the people at 500 feet are secure enough to share honesty or reality of what is really going on in the organization or the market place with their boss at 20,000 feet. The boss is also secure enough to encourage this honest bottom-up feedback. However, the manager knows that his boss can't handle or doesn't want reality or bad news - just good news. So, he must now edit this bottom up honest interpretation of what is really going on and re-package or edit it so that the CEO is comfortable with it. Now the CEO makes decisions based on this less than accurate information and is surprised when his decisions go badly. Da!
One more quick one.
A manager at 20,000 feet is insecure in his position and doesn't want to look bad to his boss. He tells his employees directly by mandate or indirectly by subtle behavior or conversations that he doesn't want bad news - to give bad news is to be a trouble maker, not a team player or always negative. Now, the employees must take internal or external reality and edit it so that her manager is comfortable with it. And, it may in no way resemble the truth. Her manager now takes this information to his boss as gospel. The CEO takes this information and makes decisions on it. Decisions go badly and the CEO asks the manager why and the manager says, that is the information I received from my employees. The blame game has begun.
Remember it is not who, but what that matters in your organization. If you want a successful enterprise stop looking at who did what or didn't do whatever, but what was done and why.
Relationship's six T's
Let's keep our relationship simple. Easy to say - difficult to accomplish. Every relationship has demands, expectations, problems, disappointments, failures, frustrations, anxieties as well as happy, fun, joyous and productive times. For years I have wondered why people just can't seem to get along. There are any number of reasons, if you ask the relationship professionals, why relationships go south. I don't have space in this tip to list them all but here are a few of the common ones.
1. A lack of a safe environment where people can share real fears, hopes, dreams, frustrations and fantasies with the fear of criticism, judgment or retribution.
2. Poor communication skills or a lack of clarity. Conversations are filled with assumptions, personal perceptions, hidden agendas, misunderstanding and a lack of congruence between verbal and non-verbal messages.
3. A lack of understanding, awareness or acceptance of the other person's real wants, needs and desires in the relationship.
4. Always thinking - that there is - or should be someone or something better out there.
5. A lack of acceptance for who the person really is and who they are becoming.
6. The breakdown of trust and or respect in the relationship.
7. The desire for the other person to make up for some lack that you feel in yourself.
8. An unwillingness to accept change or change.
9. Poor self-esteem in one or bother people.
10. Constant invalidation of the other person.
11. Seeing the other person's behavior that you don't like, can't accept or disagree with as a fault.
12. Poor listening skills.
13. A lack of emotional maturity in one or both people - always dealing in - blame, guilt, anger or other emotionally manipulative behaviors.
What can we do to ensure that relationships last longer, are more nurturing and each person can become all that they can be without earning the criticism, rejection, emotional manipulation or scorn from their partner? There are 6 T's in all positive relationships. If these are nourished, you can go a long way to ensure a life filled with love, acceptance, compassion and harmony. They are:
Trust, Time, Touch, Talk, Tenderness and Truth
Seems simple enough doesn't it? A)Learn to trust your partner and conduct yourself in such a way as to nurture a higher level of trust. B) Spend quality time together. C) Learn the importance of touch. D) Spend time in intimate dialogue and the exchange of feelings, fears, hopes, dreams, wants, needs, goals etc. E) Show the same tenderness for your partner that you do your pet. F) Always deal in the truth no matter how painful or difficult it might be.
How is your relationship doing in these 6 areas? In which area do you need to improve in order to improve the chances of success in your relationship? Click here to purchase a lifetime subscription for Tim’s weekly Tips for only $15.