4 Tips for Taking Control of Your Life

Tom is a software engineer. He recently got his dream job, working for a gaming company. He had a new girlfriend and life was looking great. Then he got furloughed when work slowed down. His girlfriend found out a dark secret from his past that made her doubt the relationship with Tom, and he doesn’t know where to turn or what to do next. His life is reeling, and it is all because of situations which are completely out of his control.

If you’ve ever felt like Tom and that the world is against you, it is time to end that pity party. Get to work on building yourself into a person who is able to achieve their goals, whatever they are. The world is not against you. In fact the universe is conspiring for you. That’s right. When you can focus on what is within your control and release what is not, you will find that a cornucopia of opportunities are awaiting you. Some you may foresee and others you’ll have no idea existed until they present themselves to you.

Maybe Tom’s work for a game developer was a sample of what is to come through the development of his craft. Maybe his new girlfriend wasn’t meant to be in his life for long. Perhaps she served as a bridge to something better and a lesson for an area of Tom’s life that needs attention. Conceivably life is really on the upswing for Tom, despite the immediate signs suggesting otherwise.

One key in getting to a place in your life where things align for your benefit is to take action that moves your life forward. You can improve your skills, spend time with people who are important to you, and check things off your to-do list that keep you progressing, focusing on what you can make happen instead of what happened to you will have you life propelling forward instead of sliding backwards. Here are four things you can do today to take control of your life.

Stop blaming others

Your life is your responsibility. Despite how it may seem, no one has enough malice towards you (or energy) to spend time plotting your demise. If you think they are, why are you letting people like that in your life to begin with? Be stronger than they are by working on ways to improve yourself daily and choose to take more control of your environment. Most people are too busy with their own lives to actively spend much time trying to disrupt yours.

Take the time to evaluate your situation and consider why opportunities are not coming into view. If you are not getting called for job interviews, your resume probably needs changes. If you are not attracting the right people into your life, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. These are just a couple of examples of the ways you can take more control of your situations and their outcomes.

Release the things that are out of your control

Being laid off, labels others place on you, the economy, or not getting an invitation to go out with people you thought were your friends are all things you have little control over. Dwelling on those will take you down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression. Instead, work to understand what role you have in these things happening around you. Letting go of those things you can not control and making an effort to improve the things you can, will free your mind to focus on more constructive ideas.

This takes more than just flipping a switch; it is a complete change of mindset. As above, there is a fine line between your influence on outcomes and control of decisions. You cannot control who gets promoted at your organization. However, you can increase the odds that it’s you by doing high quality work and being professional. At the end of the day if you are not promoted, realize that you provide your company a high quality service that you are proud of. That is a victory unto itself.

Chose to do one thing that moves you forward

You don’t need a big action or grand result now to be successful. Take a small step towards your goals and the person you want to become. Capture that action on your calendar or in your journal. Over time your progress will materialize on those pages as clearly as the ideas in this story materialized out of my own reading and experiences.

Life moves incrementally, not exponentially. Thus, the small steps you take today are the ones that will pay big dividends in the future. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to move forward one footstep at a time. Taking one step towards your goals everyday will have you 365 steps closer to those aspirations at the end of the year. That is something you have ultimate control over.

Look for an opportunity to make a difference in your own life

If you are not looking, opportunities will never find you. Carefully evaluate your decisions throughout the day and make conscious choices about what you do. That is the basis of taking control of your life. When you consider how simple decisions such as what to put on your grocery list or what to do first thing in the morning shape your life, you will start making choices that are more meaningful. These seemingly unimportant decisions will make a difference in your life over the long haul.

It is widely documented that we make an average of 35,000 decisions every day. Thirty-five thousand! Every time you say, ”I don’t care” or ”It’s up to you,” you are forfeiting a decision. Start being mindful of the decisions that have been placed in front of you. Consciously make choices as an exercise in seizing control of your life. Watch not only the outcomes, but also how your decision-making process changes. As a result, you will make better decisions and increase your confidence in doing so.

A caveat here is to be careful not to dismiss things you think are out of your control but that you do actually have influence over. For example, those friends who don’t invite you out may not like that you become increasingly negative the more you drink. Thus, cutting down on your alcohol consumption and avoiding complaining would make you a more desirable person to spend time with. When you find that many people have the same problem with you, then you are the problem. It takes a brave person to admit that.

Finally, don’t create added obstacles for yourself. Those recurring patterns and seemingly negative cycles you experience are a sign that you need to do something different to get past this life barrier. Look at your approach, your decisions, and your mentors. Then decide if you’re properly equipped to win. If you are not, ask yourself what you need to do to break through. The resources are undoubtedly at your disposal. You just need to consider all your options and ask the right questions. Then do something today to make the change.

At the end of the day, the control you have over your life solely rests in the decisions you choose to make, or to forfeit to someone else. Be mindful of those and choose to be the determining factor in your life. After all, you are the driver of your life.

This article first appeared on Medium.com as Who’s Driving Your Car

An Opportunity in Disguise

It’s only failure if you don’t learn from the experience

I recently completed my six-month evaluation and it has been a year of terrific growth. However, no assessment is complete without looking at how you got there. The road here has not been smooth. In fact, it’s had a lot of ups and downs, that’s true for everyone. But what’s amazing is that where I am now would not have been possible without those trials and tribulations. Opportunities often come disguised as failures.

In the past, I leveraged an interest in marketing into a position as a brand manager, developed a top-rated podcast, managed an international call centre that made $3 million on a single event, and helped clients become confident presenters and meeting facilitators. Yet, there were times I wondered if I’d wasted my life. There were times when I felt absolutely worthless and that I couldn’t go on. Nevertheless, in the last six months, I’ve become a professional writer, started an online coaching business and developed my own website. All the while adding a group of successful people to both my personal and professional networks. And I’m just getting started.

It’s not where you have been that matters, it’s where you are going.

What I’ve learned from these experiences is that life prepares us for what comes next. We may not be able to see what lies ahead. But God knows. Living with trust and faith (regardless of who or what you believe in) I can accept that everything I experience is getting me ready for what comes next. Bruce Lee said, “be like water.” Living that way reveals possibilities.

Viewing my past experiences as valuable lessons for my future allows me to continue growing, and living the entirety of my life without regret. Of course, there are things I wish I could’ve done better, but I can’t do them better. They’ve already been done. But going forward, I can learn how to be more thoughtful in similar situations.No regrets, only lessons to be learned.

This philosophy gives me a different perspective on life’s challenges than many have. When a friend is sad about the passing of someone close to them, I say: “You’re lucky to have had that person in your life.” When looking back on losing a job, I say: ”I’ve contributed all I could to that company. It’s time to make new ripples.” If a colleague is apprehensive about their future, I say: “What can you do today to make your tomorrows better?”

You see, the future is what you create with your present actions. When you choose to binge watch TV all weekend or focus on what is happening in the news, you are choosing to let others control your mind and heart. When you go for a walk in nature and experience your surroundings or spend time discussing how to solve meaningful dilemmas, you are deciding to expand your skills and abilities of perception. Make meaningful decisions.

Not every day is sunny

Days that seem the worst are actually some of the best, in reflection. There were days I felt that I hadn’t accomplished anything. On a recent Monday, no to-do’s were crossed off my list, a new project without clear objectives was added to my responsibilities, and a night out with friends was cancelled.

Looking back at the end of the week I realized when no to-do’s were crossed off I actually moved a couple projects forward and then was able to complete them by the end of the week. The new project dumped in my lap was to develop a personality assessment. In this project, I will use the knowledge and skills I have developed in several of my past jobs and assignments all on one project. Then Wednesday night my boss asked me to do a presentation for one of our top clients on Friday (just three days later). It’s a good thing the plan to meet with my friends was rescheduled. I might not have had time to work on the presentation and gone out. The point is, I did accomplish things that week. But I didn’t see those accomplishments would be possible on Monday until I reframed them in my mind. In retrospect, it actually was a fantastic week!

We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how. — Paulo Coelho

Just put it out there

If there is one takeaway from all of this, it is to seek opportunity. That is how we truly grow and are presented with the experiences that will make us better people. Don’t wait for the stars to align, they never will. Don’t doubt your own skill or abilities. The tools you need to succeed will find you. Don’t get discouraged when you get downsized or fired. It’s time for something new. Have a dream, make a long term goal, expect the unexpected and believe with all your mind and heart that it is possible. Finally, look at each detour as a learning experience. Though they may come disguised as problems or failures, your dreams will find you. Be ready.

This post originally appeared in ILLUMINATION

Why Do You Need Art

Van Gough Irises

The other night I caught Gillian Anderson in A StreetCar Named Desire from London’s National Theater on YouTube. During the COVID 19 lockdown they, and other theater companies across the globe, are presenting different plays from their archives every week. Watching Ms. Anderson’s performance as Blanche Dubois made me really appreciate the artistry that goes into live performances. It was a pleasant reminder that art is a deep level of communication that we rarely get in the world around us.

Watching Blanche transform from a woman down on her luck to one experiencing a psychotic breakdown, I could feel the depth of emotion that Ms. Anderson poured into that performance. I could not only see but also empathetically sense the triggers that sent Blanche past the point of no return, and the role that each of the pivotal characters had on her descent.

The performance brought to the forefront how we, knowingly or unknowingly, affect the lives of others. This play wasn’t just about a house disrupted by neurosis. It was also a reminder of the role we all play in the lives of others. Art helps us to consider such questions and get in touch with our emotions.

Rather than looking for distraction and a world far from reality, art gives you the opportunity to explore your own feelings and build your skills of understanding the thoughts and feelings of others. It gives you access to experiencing the pure emotions the artist is sharing. Surgi Rachmaninoff said that music is communication from the heart of the musician to the listener. No need for language to dilute the emotion. 

No musician epitomizes this more than Pat Metheny. Watching and listening to him play guitar, you feel he is reaching out and sending you joy with every note and chord he plays. He and his band give you a bath of exhilaration as you experience the emotion that goes into every bar of a tune, not just from him but every member of the band as well. Like in this clip of As It Is.

Paintings and sculptures can affect you in a similar way, if you take the time to let them infuse you. Consider your mental and emotional impressions. Art may even give you a physical response such as shying away from or drawing you into it. Let the artwork wash over you. Think about what the artist and their art is saying to you. Consider their state of mind as they worked on their creations for days, weeks, months and sometimes even years. What compelled them to share this image from the thousands they had in their mind? 

On a visit to the Getty Museum in California, I saw a woman looking at Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises with opera glasses. At first this seemed odd. That is one manic art lover, I thought to myself. Later, as I considered the scene, it dawned on me that she wanted to ingest every stroke and fine detail in Van Gogh’s work.

Maybe she was imagining him putting oil to canvas, in the field and then in his studio as he recalled the image from his mind. Perhaps she wanted to connect with the emotion he was feeling as he intricately detailed each leaf and petal. Perhaps she wanted to imprint those strokes and the finished painting in her mind as a living experience. Like with theater and music, the painting was delivering a message to her directly, from the artist’s heart to her own. This deep appreciation made her one with the painter as she interacted with his masterpiece.

Van Gough Irises

Rather than just considering art a pleasant diversion from your daily life, take the opportunity to interact with it deeply and intimately. Experiencing these works on an emotional level and considering what the artist’s heart is communicating to you will leave you with a new perspective and a lasting impression that you can relive over and over again. 

This article originally appeared on Medium

No Comparison

Why comparing yourself to others is futile and what to do instead

Whenever we evaluate our personal development, we often find ourselves in an underappreciated situation as we compare ourselves to others. There’s no way to be satisfied with those results. There will always be someone better, smarter, and more skilled than we are. If there isn’t, you’re fooling yourself. Our experiences and time commitments are quite different from those around us. As a result, where we see difficulties others may see success. So it is better to measure your success against yourself.

 

Using ourselves and our personal goals as the measuring stick of success allows us to realistically chart our course. We can envision what comes next and the path to move ahead. We can also be more open to seeing others achieve what we seek. We can then be appreciative of their success and offer praise for their well-done work. So how can you become more aware of your progress? It all comes down to three things: measure, communicate and sprint.

 

Set quantifiable goals

Setting quantifiable goals allows you to objectively measure if you are making the mark. These checkpoints can be evaluated with a yes/no answer.  For example: run 3km twice during the week, use a new word you have learned four times in a day, or write 500 words every day for a month. Through the use of these clear goals, you can accurately monitor your progress in two ways.  First, you can readily understand if you have achieved your goal. Secondly, it’s easy to track your progress. If you are using a system like lessons learned – which I discussed in an earlier article – look back to discover opportunities to apply what you had hoped to do. Then, do better next time. You may even try a three step grade: attempted, competent, and confident as a way to honestly evaluate your performance. Write this information down. It will help to motivate you the next time you face a big challenge.

 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

 

Talk to others

If you’re having difficulty understanding how to succeed or your progress is slow, ask others who have cleared similar hurdles how they did it. This will provide you additional options for success that you may not have considered before. While their situations are undoubtedly different from yours, their approach may be a novel one you never considered. 

Additionally, by talking to others about what you are working to achieve, you create a sense of urgency and accountability to make progress.

“You should never try to be better than someone else, you should always be learning from others. But you should never cease trying to be the best you could be because that’s under your control and the other isn’t.” ~ John Wooden

 

Use the Scrum Approach

I love scrum because it requires the practitioner to break up progress into actionable steps and achieve them one by one. It focuses on making progress in sprints. So, rather than gazing into the unknown, you tackle the milestone you can see. Those sprints require demonstrated proof of concept. With scrum you reach success incrementally. 

 

If you are setting your goals too high, you are probably also expecting to reach those achievements too quickly, and also unsure of exactly how to get there. Using the scrum approach you consider what level of improvement would make a noticable difference (maybe 5-10%) and how to achieve that. Once you have cleared that goal, work on the next big thing to move you forward to your desired level of improvement. Consider all the actionables necessary to achieve that initial goal. Move through them step by step. Then proceed on to the next phase. Just like the proverb says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

 

In the end, the only way to make true progress is to take it step by step. There are no shortcuts. Don’t feel discouraged because someone else does with ease something you are struggling with. They also struggled with it at some point. Just be ready to put in the work. Stay focused and celebrate your progress. Life is a marathon not a sprint. You should run to complete the marathon, and not just make it up the next hill.

 

“How do you become better tomorrow? By improving yourself, the world is made better. Be not afraid of growing too slowly. Be afraid of standing still. Forget your mistakes, but remember what they taught you. So how do you become better tomorrow? By becoming better today.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

 

5 Reasons to Work With a Coach

Are you stalled-out in achieving your goals? Have you come to a dead-end and don’t know what to do next? If so, a professional coach could be the answer. While you may find yourself wrestling with the idea of paying for something you should be able to do yourself, there are distinct advantages to hiring someone to help you achieve a higher level of success. Here are five reasons to work with a coach.

  1. A coach will take you farther, faster than you could go on your own. 

Coaches have already seen the pitfalls you are experiencing, they have made the mistakes and learned the lessons. As a result, a good coach will help you navigate your way around those obstacles and reduce missteps that could slow your progress by months or years.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear 

– Bruce Lee

  1. A coach will give you objective feedback 

There is no reason for a coach to sugarcoat your feedback. That does not drive results. Instead, they will tell you what they see based on your explanation of the situation and elicit information that will enhance your understanding of what you are experiencing and how to grow from it.

  1. A coach will not let you live a life of excuses 

Coaches are paid for success, your success. If you are not moving the needle, they are not being effective. As a result, a personal development coach is firm but fair. They want you to succeed. Sometimes it may seem like they want it more than you, but in reality, they want it FOR you.

To excel at the highest level — or any level, really — you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching. – Stephen Curry

  1. A coach will understand your situation better than friends or family

Because your coach is a confidant, they will have a clearer picture of your motivation and characteristics that both help you to succeed and appear to sabotage your efforts. Your coach will keep your information confidential and spend time searching for solutions for you, using their experience and network.

  1. A coach is paid to focus on you and your success

 Your coach is invested in you, just as you invest in them. To keep you moving up that slope, they will be thinking long and hard about how to help you, not just while you are in front of them but continuously. That kind of service comes at a price, but its value is immeasurable. After all, two can achieve much faster than one.

A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and a worse student. 

– Henny Youngman

 

If you are ready to unlock the power to be your best or see the finish line but do not know how to get there, consider hiring a professional coach. Trust that you can achieve your vision. Then find the best people and tools to help you get there. Working with a coach could end up being the best investment you have ever made.

Hang in There, Success is Achievable

journey to success

Everyone wants success, but few are willing to scale the mountain for it. Victory requires thousands of hours invested in sweat equity, countless hundreds of times spent on difficult or repetitive tasks when you would rather be doing something else, and the ability to fail over and over again then get up to try again. To achieve, you’ll need to stretch beyond your limits. Face situations that will seem insurmountable, but never be impossible. Don’t give up. Many failures line the incline to triumph. Make sure you are not one of them.

You will face many obstacles as you navigate your learning curve. There will be trials and doubts, but also serendipitous moments of joy when you attain more than you thought you could. Take a moment to savor those, then get back to climbing. Never get too high or too low, just keep that energy moving forward.

On your road, you will meet folks with similar ambitions. Some will attempt to raise themselves by pulling you down. Others will walk beside you, sharing the journey for a while. You will also meet some beacons, who will launch you forward, faster and farther than you would have gotten on your own. It is all part of the journey.

When you have doubts, keep going. You have reasons for achieving your goals. When you fall, remind yourself of those reasons. Then get up, dust yourself off and keep going. There will be times that you don’t know what to do next, take a break, regroup and refocus. You will get there if you are persistent.

Great achievement requires more than just effort. You’ll also need systems and feedback. So you can repeat what you are doing right and avoid those actions that are not getting results. From time to time it will be helpful to get the bird’s eye view too. Ask those you trust to truthfully give you their perspective, no sugar-coating please.

To reach the mountain top sometimes you need to surrender. Give up those bad habits and unsupportive people. Let go of distractions, they won’t help you in your hour of need. Surrender self-doubt too. Instead, be laser-focused. Don’t forget that you also need to take breaks along the way. Relax, retool, and recharge then resume your journey.

You will find the road most difficult as you get near the peak. You will have to utilize all your skills and experiences as you steer through these final twists and turns. Stay sharp and fixed on achievement. Your bounty is waiting at the summit.

And when you finally get to the top of that mountain, savor your success, relive the challenges and remember the process. Be joyful for both the wins and losses you experienced along the way. Those are all part of what led to your triumph. Then look forward. In the distance is the next challenge, waiting for you to scale it. Climb down and start the journey anew.

Need some help achieving your goals? 

Click here to get a free consultation

Avoid Boring Zoom Meetings

Engaging meetings

6 Tips for Improving Virtual Meetings -

As more and more meetings go online, the world is learning what Silicon Valley has already known for a while now. Virtual meetings save time and money. However, with these savings come tradeoffs. The biggest one being that we just don’t engage with others in Zoom meetings as we did in face-to-face ones. This is a real problem for getting to know your colleagues and building alliances.

In-person meetings provide us stimuli that allow us to understand more clearly not only the information we are hearing but also the reactions of others to it. Like it or not, virtual meetings will be part of our post-shelter-in-place working life. Below are six tips to help you embrace and maybe even enjoy your virtual meeting experiences.

Schedule a social

All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl.

Meetings can be more than business. Try scheduling a virtual coffee break chat or happy hour. Informal gatherings like these allow you to get to know each other and explore a wider variety of solutions to challenges everyone is facing.

Start with a chat

There won’t be any donuts to incentivize you. But, taking a couple minutes to start with an informal discussion about interest, plans, and non-business topics will help everyone to get to know each other a little better and build a good rapport.

Nudge quiet folks to speak up with a private message.

There are always quiet people in the meeting, and encouraging them to speak up through a private message may help to raise their confidence to share their opinions. So remind them of the great idea that they explained to you the other day and ask them to share it with the group.

Be aware that a skilled facilitator will be able to see these comments. So keep a professional tone to them.

Sum up key points visually

Use the chat box to summarize important points of the discussion, capture deliverables, and share files relevant to the topic. That will help with comprehension of the points, especially important when not all participants have the same language skills. These notes will also be downloadable after the meeting. Which will save the minutes taker time in completing their report.

Live questions

Encourage everybody to type questions into the chat box as they arise. There are two benefits to this. First, the speaker can quickly assess what is essential to the audience, making adjustments along the way. Second, participants can ensure they don’t forget their questions, improving the value of the talk for everybody.

Use pictographs 😀

A common complaint people have about virtual meetings is the inability to read non-verbal communication such as body language and tone of voice. Pictographs are a quick and easy way to react in a way that others can understand. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then pictographs are a priceless communication tool in virtual meetings.

Online meetings are about as similar to face-to-face meetings as TV is to the theater. So, don’t expect the same experience. It’s just different. We are only at the beginning of what will be possible in virtual meetings. Learn the technology, adjust your agendas, and experiment with new things. Incorporating social aspects and utilizing the chat box may turn you into a virtual meeting maven.

Here are three other resources for improving your online meetings

The Power of Silence

andraz-lazic-64sgR8HV_68-unsplash

Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. – Wayne Dyer

Overstimulation is a big problem in today’s switched on, tuned in, and notification distracted world. It’s enough to make you blow a fuse. In fact, as Dr. Dyer’s quote above implies, you need silence to be creative, find your voice, and maintain your mental health. In their 2013 study, Is Silence Golden?  Imke Kirste, Zeina Nicola et al. found that neurons actually increase with prolonged exposure to silence. That means, to a degree, you get smarter and reduce the risk of mental illness as you improve your ability to use silence.

When your mind is receiving so many inputs that there is little time for processing information. The result is your mental filters cannot function correctly, and you begin to lose your sense of self. Quietly sitting in reflection, even for a few moments, can help you to process the situation, your options for solving problems, and makes you more creative too.

Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born. – Nikola Tesla

Stillness has the power to focus you in on the moment, on dreams and possibilities, allowing you to more deeply understand your environment, the situation, and your place within those. That stillness helps you to find balance in an otherwise chaotic world.

Silence is also a great communication tool. In a negotiation, for instance, silence after an initial offer may lead your less skilled counterpart to think you are unhappy with their proposal and have them countering offering in a way that is more beneficial for you. This is called negotiating against yourself.

Silence allows us to see and hear what we might otherwise miss. Things like facial expressions and body language, for example, tell us a lot about what others are thinking and feeling. We can then respond in a calm and insightful manner. All we need is to do it be silent and observant.

6 tips to more effectively incorporate silence into your daily routine.

Listen

Listen to your environment. Whether it is inside or out, what sounds do you hear? Are the rhythms fast or slow? Are the frequencies high or low? Is that bird singing to his flock or his love? Slowing down and listening makes you mindful of the here and now. Once you are in the moment, you can think clearly. We can’t change the past or the future, we only control the present. So, be focused on what you can do right now and its impact on the future.

Journal

Write down whatever comes to your mind. This gives voice to your right brain. The silent partner is waiting for their opportunity to speak a chance to do so. Set a time limit and be consistent. This habit will help your mind to autonomously prepare to communicate with the paper.

Music

Pick one of your favorite pieces of music and listen to it for the details. Are you able to pick out the instruments? Can you identify the emotion the artists are expressing? 

Imagine being in the recording studio and hearing that for the first time. This will bring out a deeper aspect to the music than you may have ever experienced.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. ― Aldous Huxley

Mindfulness

Even if you are new at creating mindfulness experiences, you can achieve more control of your situation when you are entirely present in the hush of the moment. Imagine there is no future and no past. Think that all you have is now. Then use that context to view what is happening around you and make decisions that lead to a better future.

Brown and Pink Noise

Why it is not technically silence, brown noise with its low frequencies sounds like a rushing river and pink noise, which sounds like rain or rushing leaves, create a sense of relaxation that is good for turning your thoughts inward.

Get off the grid

Even if it is for just a few minutes, turn off the Wi-fi and the notifications. Then be completely present in the physical world, only you, your thoughts, and your feelings. Spend a few moments, or hours, with your favorite person…You.

Our minds need rest. We need the silence between the notes to make the music beautiful. To put what happens around us into context and to enjoy the lives we have. Give your mind the gift of occasional silence.

To Strengthen A Relationship Give First

You will get more if first you learn to give

The power of reciprocity

It’s all about putting others first

People today are concerned about what is in it for me. How they can get the most out of any situation, focused on winning regardless of the circumstances. However, these victories will always be short term unless they create value for others in the process. To do this, you need to use the law of reciprocity. Quite simply, if you do something nice for me I’ll do something nice for you. I feel obligated to reciprocate. Says motivational speaker Brian Tracy, There are enormous benefits to using reciprocity as a means of cultivating good relationships. Three ways to start the cycle are; give first to establish goodwill, give to build credibility and receive graciously to create reciprocation.
Just last week I took my college-aged son to lunch. We sat and talked, enjoyed our meal and I picked up the tab. Later, as we were going our separate ways he gave me a hug and said, “Thanks, dad.” A hug? In public? That was worth more than ten meals! Needless to say, we both won that day.

If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence.

Lao Tzu

Establishing Good Will
Consciously giving first demonstrates that you have the other person’s best interest at heart. That you have the ability and foresight to empathize with their situation and needs and are not simply focused on what is in it for you. It also shows that you want to engage, collaborate and share, rather than control or dominate.

Look for opportunities to assist those around you. What value can you give that will make their day a little brighter, their work a little better or less ponderous? Helping a colleague to meet a tight deadline or sharing your expertise to help a teammate enhance their skill set will and deepen the relationship and pay dividends when you have a need for support down the road.
All relationships are built on give and take; it is the lifeblood of good ones, irrespective of if the relationship is with a partner, family member, friend or business colleague. So, if you want to succeed, it is good to make an investment in the other person by giving first.

Reciprocity helps us balance the need for self-determination and creative individuality with mutual hope and, therefore, what might be described as ‘solidarity.’

David Blunkett

Building Credibility
By giving first, you establish that you are serious about finding answers that work well for both parties, not just now but also into the future. This allows you to increase the value of the final solution, your contribution, and the relationship as a whole. In the examples above, the offers served as a demonstration and reminder, “I’m here for you.” That gracious act has a long tail effect that grows over time.
Each person has a different valuation of the offering, and in many cases, that significance is higher to the one who receives it. But make no mistake; as the provider, you must acknowledge the value for both you and your compadre. As such, consider what value your counterpart places on your assistance by asking thoughtful questions and suggesting insightful solutions that move towards an amicable resolution. Because you gave first, you will find reasonable people more open and friendly towards your request, just as you have been to theirs.
With my partner for example, when she has had a bad day or is just feeling blue something as simple as putting on her favorite music (especially if it’s at the bottom of my playlist) demonstrates that I value her as a person and how she feels is essential to me. This also has her thinking and feeling that I am empathetic towards her needs. You can see how this benevolence builds stronger relationships.

We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Receiving Reciprocation
One thing you may forget to do, which is equally important to give is to ask for something in return. This does not need to be immediate; in fact, you can let your request sit in trust, waiting for an opportunity to be balanced with the contribution you made previously. You must give the other person know you recognize the merit of your accommodation with a phrase like, “I know you would do the same for me.” Or “You owe me one.” This back and forth builds trust in a relationship and allows both people to feel good about helping the other. Assisting a friend in with sage advice, for example, could lead to your next career opportunity. When they reach out with a job opening, they know you would be suitable for. Reciprocal favors are the lifeblood of any healthy relationship.
Your relationships are out of balance when one person yields to the wants and needs of the other repeatedly. In this weakened state, the relationship is more susceptible to one person choosing to walk away. So, if you give more than you take, look for ways that you can start to make withdraws on some of the value that you deposited earlier. Likewise, if you feel that you have taken too much in your relationships, and you have a contribution debt, it is time you started giving back.

You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

Zig Ziglar

Through giving, you invest in your partner, family members, friends, and colleagues. You increase that value by being gracious in the way you receive concessions. This cycle allows you to continually support each other and generate feelings that the relationship has merit for both sides.

What to do When You’re Trapped at Home

Don't just sit at your desk all day

10 Tips for keeping sane while staying at home

 

Regardless how comfortable your space is, it’s no fun having to self-quarantine.

While the world is on lockdown and you are forced to stay at home, a mixture of emotions is probably sweeping over you. At first, you may be feeling excitement at not having to go into the office. Later as the time spent in isolation lengthens, distractions will try your patience as the kids run around the house with pent up energy. Or maybe you’ll feel the urge to give in to your dog’s joy of having you home 24/7. Eventually, however, boredom with the selection from your favorite streaming service will creep in. Don’t take things lying down. Consider this time as a gift.


The earth is using this opportunity to heal itself. Drastic reductions in flights, factory production, and motorists have all resulted in fewer greenhouse gasses in addition to cleaner air and water. Though experts say the results may be short-lived, cities like Venice, Los Angeles, and Beijing are dramatically cleaner for the time being. We should be looking for ways to improve our quality of life too. 


Regardless of your situation, some things are out of your control, such as the regulations requiring you to stay home or the stall in the economy. So it is time you took some action with the things that are in your control. Here are ten ways to stay sane while staying at home.

  • Read a personal development book – There is no time like now to work on becoming a better version of yourself. An hour or two every day of reading or listening to audiobooks will allow you to get through that book during your lockdown. Here are some of my personal favorites.
    • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephan Covey
    • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
    • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
    • The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
    • Difficult Conversations – Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen
  • Clean your living space – A clean space brings happiness and according to feng shui, good fortune. Take the time to clean out the dust, get rid of stuff you have long since forgotten, and vacuum behind the TV. You will breathe easier, knowing that your life is slightly more organized and dust-free.
  • Exercise – Whether you practice with online videos, have your own routine, or do simple exercise from your living room, getting some kind of physical workout will help you lose weight, improve your circulation and release your feel-good endorphins.
  • Find ways to support local businesses and do some volunteer work – Spread goodness by helping others. Some of the ideas I have seen recently include giving away some of your extra supplies, cooking for neighbors, supporting local businesses by purchasing their gift cards, ordering takeout, or even starting a campaign to help your local restaurants offer meals to those in need.
  • Send thank-you notes – Now is the time to be grateful for the people you have in your life. Send a brief thank-you note or email. It’s a simple way to show your gratitude to the people in your life.
  • Move back burner projects to the front – Take some time to work on those back-burner projects. They are on your list for good reasons. So, using this time to make some real progress on them will help you to get ahead.
  • Resolve to be positive – No reason to be negative in times like these. Turn off the news, avoid drama and paranoia. Put a positive spin on everything. On the other side of this pandemic will be opportunities. Do what you can to set yourself up to win.
  • Have longer conversations – Take some time to interact with your friends and family, either face to face or virtually. Enjoy one of the benefits of slow life: long, drawn-out conversations about everything and nothing.
  • Reconnect – Take time to reconnect with people from your past who have been influential to you. Talk about the impact they have had on your life, about old times, and what is happening now. You will be surprised how quickly the past melts away.
  • Journal, blog, or just write – This is an excellent time to produce your own content. Let yourself reveal those words you’ve always longed to say. Create something new, analyze your past, or just write creative material like poetry, a short story, or a novel.

Above all, find a way to get and stay positive. These tips will help you to do this, but you may want to avoid negativity as well. Stop watching the news and use the World Health Organization’sCOVID live stats, or your national Center for Disease Control’s website to get the facts on what is happening. Find a way to laugh and a reason to smile. Avoid doomsday topics and negative Nellies. Instead, invite positivity and possibility into your home. They are always happy to see you. Then once you are feeling that sense of optimism, share it with the world. We could all use a good dose of that right now.