Perception is in control

Perception is the meaning we make of different information based on how we look at it. Other people perceive reality in different ways based on their interpretations. Perception is the basis for emotional intelligence and is very powerful.  When we were going through our series on emotional intelligence, we were driven by events.  Perception has a lot to do with interpreting events, but there is more to perception. We also use it to analyze and judge people.

Perception is not reality, but it can become a person’s reality because perception influences how we look at reality.  I have my reality, and you have yours. Have you ever thought of yourself as being very positive, and someone said to you – why are you so negative?  Hold on and tamp down that negative self-talk. My first reaction was, are you kidding me – and goes downhill from there. Remember our emotional intelligence class? This was my interpretation of an event. Your reality and their reality are not the same.  Don’t ignore it because there may be some good clues on how you can be better, but don’t let it steal your joy.

You have more control over your life than you think. When we looked at emotional intelligence, we learned that we could change our responses to events by changing how we interpret the event. We can also control how we feel and the joy in our life. Consider this chain of actions, I am old, so I am weaker, don’t remember things, or am no longer the cool dude I was. While some may be true, it does not have to be your perception. The chain continues: if I am all those things, I must be less appealing and probably not long for this world. This is like a self-fulfilling prophecy which is simply the outcome of a situation being influenced by our thinking, either positively or negatively.  Well, consider the last part of this definition, positively or negatively.  What if I concentrated on positive self-talk and positive perceptions?

I am going to change my chain of actions without ignoring reality.  My new chain is I am older and wiser. I have experienced eighty years of learning and have many stories to tell. With all this wisdom, I start each day with a positive thought and will not let anyone rain on my parade. I still have experiences waiting to be discovered and lessons to learn.

Most people have good intentions and, often, good advice, but they do not control your emotions.  If a single comment from someone upsets your day, imagine what your negative self-talk can do.

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Are you Positive

When you started your day, who did you say you were?  Is that who you wanted to be? We have a choice. The bigger question is, does it make any difference? I believe It does make a difference. The same goes for how you say you feel, how the day will go, or what you can accomplish.  The more positive you can be, the more positive the results will be. The problem I had was that it did not sound authentic.  I can affect the future, but I cannot see it. If I don’t know for sure what the future will bring, then it may as well be positive. 

You want to be right, so whatever you think or say, you work on making it true.  The way I interpret events has a significant influence on my feelings and emotions. What I tell myself has a significant influence on my feelings and emotions.  If I choose a positive outlook, I will work on creating a joyous event.

When I woke up this morning, my legs hurt.  OK, I need to accept reality, but my interpretation of this event will impact my day. I decided to do two things. First, I had a full day or opportunity ready for me, and second, I am eager to start. This is where it gets tricky for me. What is it that I want to do?  To keep it positive, I want to be joyful.  I want to contribute to my legacy and bring joy to those around me. This all sounded artificial when I was first introduced to the idea.  Over time I gradually changed my thinking to focus on the positive.  Most of the research I read told me it would take about two months to reprogram my thoughts. I discovered that it started to expand once I accepted this new philosophy. 

I used mindfulness meditation to discover what I, and others, needed. I used positive and today-focused self-talk to change my ways.  If I thought, I should stop eating cookies, my brain said – great, sounds like a good idea but now let’s sample the cookie jar.  This became, I do not eat cookies.  Of course, your thoughts will be in turmoil for a while and say you are crazy – of course, you eat cookies. Hold the course, and you will establish that you do not eat cookies over time. This works for all our fears and negative thoughts. Want to be a great speaker, writer, or builder (fill in the blank with your purpose)? Then start the positive self-talk.  I would add that actions also need to be positive.  Want to be a writer, do what writers do.

When I was promoted to management, I was sent to management school. I remember many of the lessons learned, but one stands out.  Our class was dismissed for lunch, and when we got back together, the instructor asked us – how many of you went to the management dining room to eat. Only three out of the class said they did.  The instructor said he was surprised because he thought we were all managers. This was a setup, of course, to teach a valuable lesson. Want to be a public speaker? What do public speakers do? Want to have a life full of joy? What do joyous people do?

Circle back to where we started, what or whom do you want to be? If you want to be sick and tired, ready to end it all – That is who you will become. If you want to be full of joy, that is what will happen. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

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Wake up full of hope

You can do many things if you would stop the negative self-talk and start. You could make videos, buy a boat and sail around the world or write a best-selling novel. Whatever it is, you have to start. It is all about the journey through life. 

Well, they say to wake up with a smile and a positive attitude, and I agree that would probably be an excellent way to start your day. But for me, it was not as easy as I thought. I am a planner, and when I wake up, I have negative things on my mind. For example, this morning, I woke up with my legs hurting, I had trouble walking, the alarm on my ventilator was going off, I had difficulty breathing, and I thought about the biopsy scheduled. It is kind of hard to be optimistic with all this going on. But I kept thinking about the cause of my pessimistic worldview. I determined that I seem to be dwelling on the past, what is it that I forgot to do, and what is it that I should have done. Then I dwell on all that I have to do today. But the more I thought about this, the more I realized that the first step is simply acceptance. Figure out how to accept what my world is like. I have muscular dystrophy, which is causing leg pain and breathing issues. This is progressing. I already know that. But have I accepted that? I can’t change it, so I may as well accept it. It seems like a small step that changes your point of view when you wake up and your legs hurt. The biopsy is in the future.  What if I woke up thinking that something wonderful will happen?  

To accept, I must have some idea of what’s going on. Well, I have that since I’ve got specialists focused on me all saying the same thing, so I know what’s going on. If I can get to acceptance, I can eliminate many questions. For example, it doesn’t make sense to wake up and say I have no idea what is happening. I may not like it, but I know what is going on. Acceptance removes a whole bunch of wasted time and stuff like that, but you got to get there. I got there with the help of a therapist for about a year, which was good. I had a partner that supported me. That was good, and I learned mindfulness meditation.

This may be a confusing thought, but acceptance does not define all that you are. I am not just a person with muscular dystrophy.  In the support groups I have been part of, I met many people focused on their illnesses.  That is easy to do because it is always in your face.  But if that is all you are, your life quickly becomes focused on the negative. I believe you can accept what is and still believe that you are so much more. Who I am changed over time, and this is who I am today.

I am an 80-year-old man who has overcome more than most. I have had triple bypass heart surgery, knee replacement, and spine surgery. I am one lucky dude.  I met and formed a relationship that completes me. I have a family that cares about me. I like the sea, boating, and nature. I have my challenges trying to walk without falling, I am overweight, and I have this head drop going on. I still have a life better than many. We are all connected.

What about being focused on potential future problems that never happen? What if I run out of money, the biopsy was no fun, or the car won’t start?  None of these has happened yet. I am all for being prepared, but what if this will be a great day?

Most people don’t go through this until they have a significant event in their life. Of course, mine was the diagnosis of muscular dystrophy. The interesting point is that I had triple heart bypass surgery, which didn’t cause this shift to happen. It made me focus on life and slow down a little, but it didn’t have what they call an awakening effect. Muscular dystrophy is slow-moving and is in your face every day, and I think that’s why it became my major event. So, my awakening, as they call it, was not overnight. It was about four years of meditating, therapy, going to doctors, and getting second and third opinions. So now I’m kind of at acceptance. What’s the next step? The next step, in my view, is embracing life. What the heck does that mean? To me, embracing life involves figuring out what you want to do or why you’re here. However you want to express that.

Embracing life is not as easy as it may seem like anything else. First of all, it involves a change in most cases. Definitely, in my case, it requires change. The way I see it, I have a couple of ways I can go. I could wake up in the morning and be miserable and don’t know what to do. The next option is I am unhappy, but I’m afraid to make a change. In the third option, I’m not sure I’m doing what I want to do, so I will make a change.

I’ve always wanted to write, which I never did because I told myself I couldn’t write. While, of course, that’s not true. I could write, maybe not good. So I joined a group of new writers, and no big surprise, their number one item was to start writing. It does not make a difference whether it’s good or bad or anything else; start writing something. Once you start writing, you gradually improve. So my first writing was not so great, but I learned, and I redid it. It took me a few tries to get to the point where I was willing to show anybody what I wrote. What was the big problem? I was afraid of the feedback I might get. So I didn’t write publicly because I was worried people would read what I wrote, but the purpose of my writing was for people to read what I wrote. It took a while to get enough confidence to write my first blog. All that happened about a year ago: then I started getting better because I was getting feedback and I was noticing my own mistakes. Things went from there. So, the advice of the day is to do something. To make any difference, you have to start.

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What came first?

Several people have asked me what the big deal is about having a strategic plan. I believe that you need a starting point before you start planning, a resource that documents your intentions and desires.  The strategic plan is a living document that changes over time based on your experiences. The starting point for a strategic plan is your values.  The conclusion of a strategic plan is your operating plan.

In the beginning, we started with a blank page. We may have been born with some internal values, but we are easily influenced.  As we grow, we have experiences, are introduced to a culture, accumulate family traditions, and are exposed to many beliefs and religions. We all eventually merge all these elements into a set of values that we will use to mold our life. With all these variables, I can say that what works for me does not always work for you. Our influences are all different.

Once we develop a belief system, we look for reinforcement showing what we believe is right. As this bond grows, it becomes more challenging to modify your belief. A conflict may show up as we move to another culture of venture into a business. We are now faced with having to decide to change. We should be looking for information to expand our belief system while we remain aware of our existing belief system.  The concept is to accept small changes that can improve your outlook, not a wholesale replacement.

When writing a strategic plan, you combine your existing belief system, skills, and resources to form a purpose or mission. That can be for a business or a life.  Once you start to execute a strategic plan, you will be exposed to new experiences and beliefs that can suggest improvements to your plan.

The key that I take away from this is to keep an open mind. Seek new skills and experiences. Don’t be reluctant to ask for help or share your plan with others. This will create additional sources for information.  Stay focused on your plan.  Accept advice as information, not a directive.  

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Fake News

After several audits proved that the election results were correct, a group in Arizona raised 6 million dollars to have their team audit the ballots. This four-week audit stretched into several months as they redid the audit several times. That was crazy, but what got me was an interview with a high-ranking state official. He was almost in tears, saying, I can’t stand this. I still do not know who won this election, he said. While this is crazy, the concern is more extensive than one state election.

The news is full of controversy over fake news, Facebook, Instagram, and wild conspiracy theories. It’s enough to drive me crazy. Ever wonder how did that happen? So I thought that this morning what if I wrote a blog post that said the sky is green. As long as I say that’s my belief or my opinion, perfectly fine. No problem. So now I go one step further, and I research to see if any others believe that, or if there’s another test or a study or anything. Sure enough, if I search long enough and hard enough, I’ll find someone or a test that supports my theory. So now I will write an entry in my blog and say I found a test that shows that I was right. The sky is green. And I refer to the test. Okay, still no problem if that was an actual test. But I notice that nobody else believes that.

Now I get upset, and I get emotional, and I start embellishing a little bit. I write a blog to say, millions of people have noticed that the sky is green. This is probably fake news right there. I made that up, but I am so emotional about the issue that I want people to believe me. So, I start this conspiracy theory or rumor. Not only is the sky green, but millions of people believe this, and I am just shocked that I don’t see this on the news more often. Eventually, I started getting people on my webpage writing comments saying they have noticed that or think the skies are a bit green. My readership grows and next thing you know, I have many people believing that the sky is green, not blue. So the problem that I see is that if you get emotional about an issue and start creating your own news writing fake stories, that is a problem.

I’m not sure why it is so difficult for these companies like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, whatever. Why they can’t discover that there’s an entry out there telling a false story and either put a disclaimer on it or take it down. Same thing with politics. Same thing with whatever topic you want to choose, like sports is another good example. Sounds like a simple solution, but for some reason, it is challenging for these big companies to determine that what was just posted on their site is totally fake.

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My Truth and Your Truth

We learn first by experimenting because we haven’t learned how to trust yet. Eventually, we discover learning that way is painful, and we learn about trust, usually from our parents. Our trust is built on relationships with people and organizations. As we trust people, we listen to them and believe that what they are saying is true. We start to accept that truth as our own. Over time we will modify that truth based on our experience, but the base is developed through the relationship. First, it is with family, then school, and finally work.  Along the way, we add in church, groups, and news.

We again rely on trust and believe what we see and what we hear is true and start to accept. As we discover conflicts between our truths, we work it out based on who we trust the most and what makes logical sense. I have been in situations where someone will say something so far removed from what I believe to be true that I am amazed.

The problem we have today is information overload. At least I am discovering many conflicts and having a more difficult time reconciling those conflicts. As I was growing up, I was in a Christian environment. My baseline for truth was Christian values. That set of values was reconciled as I grew older, and I saw that they were the correct way for me to live. Now I begin to see conflicts and question what it all means. There are sources that I have learned not to trust based on the evidence available.  Even that is becoming a challenge with video accounts being altered. Firsthand knowledge is hard to fake.  If the evidence is a news story, I tend to look for multiple, different accounts.

So how do you sort this all out? One of the things I do is I see actual events happening. Not hearsay, not someone’s opinion, but actual events. I use that to determine if people are telling the truth, or if they should be trusted. As I discover more and more conflicts with the actual event. I mark that source as no longer being truthful. It is somewhat surprising to me to see politicians saying things that conflict with the public record, not hearsay or someone’s opinion, but actual filming of the event. That can be verified by multiple reports of the event. It’s not clear why they think they can do this, but the result is something we are now calling fake news. This is growing to be a large amount, and the noise factor is quite confusing.  The problem I see is that there are some that have never built a truthful base through trust.  If the only source of information they receive is through a single source, they build a truth based on that.  There is limited potential to correct or expand their truth.

One example I was exposed to was from a seminary course I took.  I was always interested in Christian values and history and wanted to see how this all developed.  The first course I was required to take before exploring the New Testament was a world religion course.  Each professor was a representative of a different religion. The idea was that we should be exposed to all the religions before we narrowed our focus. I was surprised to see how similar all these religions were. I was more surprised to see how, over time, all the religions were biased by the experiences and perceptions of the people practicing these religions.  In my opinion, there is generally a small set of facts or real events and an extensive set of different interpretations and perceptions of what they mean.

The same is happening today. A simple event will generate many diverse perceptions in a short time. Those perceptions will be used to fortify beliefs. It is enough confusion to influence my decision to get a cup of coffee and go meditate on the deck. My father would say that he yearned for return to a simpler life, and that was back in the 60s.  Now I know what he meant.  

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

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Let’s Revisit Teams

Our last entry started a discussion on teams, so this week I am starting a series about team dynamics. A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Teams typically have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort, which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Team members like to feel like they are a valuable member of the team, and each has a perceived and real assignment within the team. Ideally, the perceived and real match.  When that all works its magic.

The primary difference I see between regular teams and High-Performance teams is how ridged they stick to the rules. High-Performance Teams have well-defined goals that are in agreement with the overall expectations or vision for the team. This is often not the case, and a team is just a gathering of skills to get a job done. Just as important as the mission of the team is the culture of the team. High-Performance Team members identify with the team and are proud of it. Members place the team first and know that team effort is key to overall success. They celebrate the accomplishments of the team and recognize the contributions of members. This is different than regular teams. Notice that a High-Performance team celebrates the team’s success but only recognize contributions. 

High-Performance Teams are constantly learning and continuously improving. True transparency allows a team to quickly adapt to unexpected events. Each member knows what is important and each member is committed to action. They are clear about what results they are committed to and they review and measure results frequently. They quickly resolve conflicts and move forward. A key element of the culture is the realization that trust is an essential ingredient. They communicate openly. They believe in a feedback culture, actively giving and seeking feedback. Many times I have seen teams that are not like this, especially in “professional” groups where each member is seeking success and recognition for themselves.

Sometimes ego gets in the way. Since all the members have knowledge of all elements of the mission assigned, sometimes a member will expand their role beyond their assignment. Gradually they start to take over roles. I have found teams that were really one active member with a lot of assistants. It is no longer a team. As this happens, members become disenfranchised and dropout. It was not unusual to find members waiting for orders and doing nothing. The team starts to lose synergy, and effectiveness drops. The perceived or real leader pushes harder for control, and the team dissolves.

It is the job of the leader to make sure that all members are participants, and it is the team that gets external recognition. Both overzealous and nonparticipants should be removed or reassigned from the team.  That is why I see skilled people pulled from teams. They can be valuable assets, just not team players.

I believe that becoming a leader is a journey.  You start as an employee. If you know how you will have a job is a saying that I remember from college. As an employee, you would have skills, and you would understand the job.  As you excel in the job, you get promoted to a management position. A manager understands the business plan, has a common purpose, good communication skills, and maturity.  The saying that goes with this would be if you know why you will be the boss. 

That brings us to leadership. If you can see the future, you will be the leader. That means you understand the strategic plan. A leader will have team spirit, passion, and empathy. Team spirit is when you really feel invested in reaching a goal together and are there to support each other.  Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards the vision expressed in the strategic plan and the mission of the team. Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference.

The leaders will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your business, team, or even a country.  The managers control resources and will have a direct impact on the efficiency of your business. While leaders and managers impact all aspects of your business, the skill level and attitude of your employees or staff will have a direct impact on your return-on-investment.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

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Who is on First?

I used to say that no single event would define me. And then, about six or seven months ago, I decided to take a course on spirituality. I was looking at mindfulness meditation, spirituality, Bible study, and a less complicated life. A lot has changed in six months since I started that. Today I lean towards spirituality and often remember my upbringing. My view of adherence to a process is less strict, my view of people is more forgiving, and my opinion of myself is a bit humbler.

Early on, I went back into mindfulness meditation for this study.  This was introduced to me several years ago and seemed like a perfect fit for my study. When I started meditation, I had a lot of trouble paying attention to even one breath without my mind going off into all kinds of directions. I found myself having thoughts about everything that happened during the day. Then I remembered the training I had where I had to think of three things. What three things did I hear, what three did I feel, and what three did I smell. I would go through that routine two or three times, trying to come up with different answers until my mind settled down, and I was no longer thinking about checkbooks, arguments, or whatever. It was pretty humbling to see how hard it was to pay attention as the thoughts came tumbling out. Once I got under control, things started to turn around. The experience of being overwhelmed by thoughts is hardly unique, I’m told. Most people who begin meditating will find this very thing to happen to them.

The first things I learned were, everyone likes to be right, we all want to be part of something and be recognized as a contributor, and we all want to have some control. Well, as far as being right, I now realize that there are often many ways to do the same thing. What we desire is to be recognized for our way being right.  When it comes to contributing to a team or group, it is often a struggle to be the leader, not just being known as contributing. Now for the last item on my list, I realize that I often have no control. I may have contributed sometime during my life, but I had no control over open-heart surgery or being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.

Meditation does not have to be formal with a private space on a schedule.  I have learned through self-mastery training that when I get agitated, frustrated, mad, or just pissed off, it is time to slow down and calm down.  Since I am the only person that can cause my reaction to events, I may as well do something about it.  I will often put on headphones and listen to music.  Sometimes it is as simple as a quick decision to back off and stop a confrontation.  I often find a discussion starting about why it is better their way or my way.  That is a clue to stop.  I will often say, no big deal let’s get it done.  If the other person insists on proving they are right, it happens, I say fine let’s do it your way.  If this happens a lot, I realize that a confrontation will be hard to avoid, and I head to the headphones. 

Several people have told me that this is just giving up. Always giving in, and you end up working on someone else’s dream, not yours. That is where defining a purpose comes in. Part of meditating is a focus on your purpose. What is it you want to accomplish? What do you want to be known for? As you look at what is causing your frustration, you are also looking at your path to success. Are you still on the path?

I once started to discuss how best to do a load of laundry. I thought that through and realized that this had nothing to do with my path. When you look at events, it is about much more than the immediate discussion. There is a bigger picture to consider. Does this fit into the picture?  It is possible to have a few side trips, and you just have to prioritize your time.  If you are not sure what your purpose is, consider this exercise.  You are working in your garden when a phone call comes in, asking you to interrupt what you are doing.  If you stopped what you were doing, who or what called?

This can go on for several layers.

  • You are gardening, and your son calls.
  • You stop and help him and your spouse calls
  • You stop and the office calls
  • You stop and go to work.

Something else can happen here; you get so many layers away from your primary purpose that you forget, and you are now off your path. This is a whole other area of discussion, so let’s get back to today’s interrupt.

The most complicated problem I have seen is when both people in the discussion believe they have the same goal, priority, and authority.  You have now created a situation where both think they are the leader or at least in charge.  Neither side wants to give in and potentially shown to be wrong or not in control.  At this point, you must look closely at your big picture. Is this going to have a long term effect or is this a short-term bump in the road.  My father would say, chose your battles.  You must consider the impact on your path as well as the overall effect on the team that started this question.  Some people have all kinds of issues, and it may be better for the team to surrender this battle. When the dust has settled, the team leader must decide what the impact was or could be. I have removed talented people from teams in my past so that the overall effectiveness of the team can be improved. Another great memory from the past is Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler.  You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, and Know when to walk away.

I had said that I now lean towards spirituality, and this belief system changes your focus.  You become less focused on being right and more focused on pleasing a higher power. The team you want to be part of consists of your lifetime partner, your family, and your spiritual family. Your definition of success is much more focused on contribution than it is being right, rich, or powerful.  As you become involved in local teams, at work, or home, you become focused on contribution instead of recognition.  There will be people that take advantage of this view, and it is up to you to decide if you want to play their game. Again, chose your battles.

I think we sometimes overly complicate our life. We never figure out what we want out of life and every day try to please everyone.  At some point in life, we figure out that time is short, and we have no path defined. Many of those people that we helped are grateful but are now on their path to success.  That does not have to be an end-of-life discussion. It happens on the job often. I have talked with those left behind, and they are trying to figure out what happened.

Take some time and figure out why you are here. What are your values? What is your purpose? Become aware of the side trips and have a plan to get back on your path.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

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Get on With Life

One of the challenges you discover once you get past that magic age (for me it was 75),  is the recovery of permission to own your own life, to feel what you feel, desire what you desire, and pursue whatever you want to pursue. For most of us, that permission is still very conditional, and you can’t get it from someone else. My current condition, combined with the current virus pandemic, presents an enormous opportunity for me to grant that permission. I live in a materialistic world with the fantasy that if I acquire enough things, somehow life will be meaningful and satisfying. If that worked, I would have seen it by now.

We tend to impose a lot of things on our life independently from what we want to do. For example, I tend to get upset if my trash didn’t get picked up again this morning. Now, of course, we’ve all been through a lot because of this virus, and now our life is upended. I think everyone has to figure out what they want to do and what their values are. My default position has been to please everyone and schedule my time last. Time for that to change.

I believe that we are accountable for our journey. We will have several things happen to us that push us in one direction or another, and we can spend a lot of life blaming others. If you remember our self-mastery discussions, we are responsible for our life and how it unfolds from the choices we made. Although life can be a huge burden, it is also an invitation. If you woke up this morning, you have just received permission to live life.  The big question is, will we accept this gift.

Is there an ideal kind of life that you dream about? Perhaps your ideal life consists of more money, more friends, or more time to do the things you love. Maybe the ideal life is one filled with less work and more vacations. Having the ideal life can be as simple as starting to exercise more, losing weight and becoming healthy again. Whatever kind of life you dream about having, I guarantee that it will take a little more than fate to get you there. Many, many people believe that fate will take them where they are supposed to go. While I do believe that everything happens for a reason, I also believe that you have an important role in making your own life amazing. I believe that creating the ideal life is not so much about fate as it is about making better choices every day.

The first important step is to take time to evaluate your life and get a clear picture of where you are. Be careful not to idealize your current situation. Commit to being honest with yourself in this process. Look for areas of your life that are going well and look for areas that could use improvement or extra care. If you’ve left your life in the hands of fate, there is a good chance that you’ll have some work to do in the weeks and months ahead.

Once you have evaluated your life, take time to consider the kind of life you want. If fate could give you any kind of life you wanted, what would it look like? Write down everything you think of, even if it seems hard to attain or silly.

Your ideal life will not happen without intentional action. Take the description of your dream life and begin breaking it down into goals that you can work toward. If you desire to have a better job, take steps to find a new job by looking at job postings or by inquiring at businesses in your area. The more proactive you are, the more you can change your life.

No matter how bad things are or how good things are for you right now, things can always get better. Work with fate instead of against it by taking action and moving toward the things you dream about. No matter what the result, your life will be richer and fuller because of your proactivity. I have discovered that life is short.  My parents, teachers, and friends tried to tell me, but I ignored that advice. Add my name to the people telling you.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

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I Remember

Sitting out on the deck this morning, I remember so much. Some brought a smile and some sadness.  It was a melancholy morning. I remember when the starter switch for my car was under the clutch pedal. I remember TV test patterns and looking at that pattern waiting for the TV show to start. We had a 7-inch TV screen and a choice of a few shows after dinner before they signed off.

I remember physical intimacy, running on the beach to fly a kite, putting a reef in my sails during a rain squall, camping, and living as a civil war soldier in the wilderness, just for the experience.  Now I have to rest after I walk up my driveway to get the mail.  I remember when corporate management would greet me, when I published technical journals, when I gave presentations to large crowds, and when I thought what I was doing at work was so important.  Now, I am not sure any of that meant anything in the grand scheme of life.

I remember being taught by my father that my word must be my bond.  A day when the truth was the ideal. The idea of “my word is my bond” reaches back centuries. The books of Matthew and Numbers both contain passages in which one’s spoken vow becomes a sacred commitment. Nowadays, I see fake news and the leader of the greatest nation in my lifetime who has no concept of what truth is.

I remember being a proud member of the Navy stationed on a destroyer. Now I see a commander and chief that tells sailors to rip their ship name patch off and covers up the name of a ship with canvas because he does not like the name. I see countries asking us to leave, we pull out of alliances, and we deploy troops to coral peaceful protesters.

I remember when you worked for what you wanted. I wanted to go on a bare-foot cruise on a sailing ship, so I worked as Christmas help at a department store to pay for it. Now I see adults complaining because I didn’t buy coffee for the Keurig as they sit around.  Which reminds me, I remember when making coffee was a process that I started before I got dressed because it took time. Now I fidget because the K-cup took a minute to brew.   

I remember when I was sought out for advice and invited to attend events, now I only have memories, and the honor goes to the younger crowd.  But not all is lost.  I also see a young, energetic six-year-old that calls me pop-pop and still thinks that I can fix anything.

So many experiences and lessons learned in my 78 years that nobody wants to hear about. That same six-year-old informed me that she was in first grade now and no longer needed to be told what to do.  I just smile and say OK, but don’t touch that hot stove.

My challenge is the sheer number of changes and transitions that start to occur. I try to face my limitations with a healthy dose of humor. I don’t always succeed. I was told that a key ingredient for healthy aging is the continuing ability to find meaning and joy in life. One way to do this is to learn something new. Learning new activities not only adds meaning and joy to life but can also help to prevent mental decline. I was always interested in the historical story behind religions, so I signed up for an online college course presented by a seminary. So far so good. After each one-hour lecture I get excited about something new I learned.

Planning to vote in the next election is my other focus.  It seems to me that they are trying to make that harder to do, but I love a challenge. Those are my thoughts from this morning. Tomorrow find a good spot to watch the day begin and go down memory lane. I would love to hear your story.

Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at dwfavor@catalystgroupinc.com.

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