Monday, July 28, 2014

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable


It’s a funny irony about life.  If you want to be good at a lot of things, you need to be willing to be bad at a lot of things.  If you have ever tried to learn something new, you know what I mean.  The first time you try to skateboard, or speak a new language, or write, you will have challenges.  You will fall down and flub up and fail.  When we are young, we really don’t mind so much.  That’s just a part of the process.  But as we get older, we get uncomfortable being uncomfortable. 

That’s a shame because that’s how we learn.

Dr. Carol Dwek talks about the two different mindsets about failure in her book “Mindset.”  Dr. Dwek explains that Fixed mindset people believe their abilities are set.  So if they have already been deemed “smart” for example, they don’t want to challenge themselves because they might prove that wrong.  Growth mindset people on the other hand understand that life is about constantly learning and changing.  Your abilities (in anything in life) are not set.  You can improve.  

But you have to be willing to get “uncomfortable.”  You have to be willing to fail. 

But by allowing yourself to “be uncomfortable” (if just for a while), you open yourself up to a life of great experiences, learning and wonder.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  You will be better for it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happiness Is A Choice

This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time in a Mexican paradise with my family.  What a gorgeous location.  The resort had awesome food, great views, fantastic weather and free food and drinks.  What could be better, right? 

And of course everyone is always happy here, right?  Wrong.

The term “happiness is a choice” is never more evident than in a place like this.  Despite the absolutely surreal surroundings there continue to be people that are not at all blissful.  They seem grumpy, moody and rude.  Not many mind you, but some.   So it begs the question, “if you are not happy here, then where?”

The fact is, happiness really is a state of mind.  You can control it.  Regardless if you are in a humble dwelling in Ohio or a paradise in Mexico, you have the ability to choose happiness.  You also have the ability to, well, not.

The good news and the bad new is, it’s your call.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Live in the Present

Regardless of where you are in the world, there is likely beauty all around you.  There are things to learn and see and experience. 

Take a deep breath.  Set down your device.  Look around.  Listen.

Live in the present moment and be "all in" on that. 

Always Be Looking To Learn

Too often in life, I have spent time being impatient about "getting there."  Whatever the destination, I want to get there now.  When it comes to goals, appointments, or even going to vacation, I am often the equivalent of the 7 year old in the back seat saying "Are we there yet?"

Now, partially I suppose, you can say this is because I am excited about the destination.  I am excited to reach the goal, or go and "do" or yes, even relax.  The problem, of course, is that I often hurry through the lessons of the journey.

The way I have chosen to try and improve in this area of my life is simply to look for ways to learn through each of these paths.  Sometimes there are stumbling blocks on whatever path we choose.  Sometimes there is nothing that can be done.  But often, there are lessons that can guide future paths are less bumpy.

What can I learn from this?  What can I do better next time?  How can I make this situation better?

And remember, even on smooths roads, the sights can still be worth taking in. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

When in Doubt, Try Something New

There is nothing in the world that I find more relaxing and fun than a vacation with my family.  When done right, it's a chance to re-connect, laugh, and truly focus on one another.  It's priceless time.  In addition, it's often a chance to really try new things. 

I don't know what it is about vacation, but it creates a sense of adventure that you sometimes don't have in your every day routine.  People try new foods, activities, meet people and experience cultures that they can't or won't at home.  I think there is a metaphor for life in that.  There is more than one reason that vacations are fun.  One of them is that we are learning, experiencing and trying new things.

Now don't get me wrong, you won't always like the new thing!  But then you know!  When you try a new food that ultimately gets spit into the napkin, you know the next time.  And it's a really funny story for your family to tell later!  :)  But sometimes you will discover something you don't only like...but really love!  And by opening yourself up to a life of "new experiences," every day can be an adventure.

So when you are faced today with a choice between the way you "have always done something" and a new one...try the new one. 

You can start small.  Drive a new way to work tomorrow.  Try a new drink in the morning.  At a break, simply take a walk.  Then maybe it will translate to bigger things in life. 

Be "vacation you."  Try new things.  You will almost always be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Asking For Help

One of the hardest things I have learned as I have grown up (still working on that!) is that sometimes I need to ask for help.  I have always been an "If it's to be, it's up to me" kind of person.  I felt like I didn't need any help.  I took pride in that. 

But the more I grow as an entrepreneur, business owner and adult, the more I truly understand that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  It's a show of strength.  By opening up and asking for help (or even just perspective) I get better ideas. 

Operating on an island can take you a long way.  And frankly, there is something to be said for being self-sufficient.  But when you get stuck, it's important to understand that there are people that have been where you've been (or are going through it now!). 

I am a part of a small group that meets regularly to talk about our businesses, ideas and lives.  These folks help me gain perspective on business and life...and it's been invaluable to me.  I only wish I would have done it sooner!

Create a relationship of trust.  Ask "what do you think?"  See what happens.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Does Everyone Evolve?

I don't know if you heard about this, but a guy named Lebron James chose to come back and play basketball in Cleveland recently.  Wait...don't leave yet!  I am excited about this because of the economic impact this will most certainly have in Cleveland...but that's not what this is about. 

Much has been made of James' decision to come home.  Much has also been made of the reaction of Cleveland's fans, who four years ago, acted like jilted lovers.  Now a great percentage of us are welcoming him with open arms.  But not all.  I got this email from a really good guy yesterday....

"As a fan of Cleveland in general and their sports, I sincerely hope that a championship comes their way and will be ecstatic for the city and the residents if it happens.

Yet with all of that said, with LeBron now back, I can’t/won’t support the Cavs until he’s no longer there. Perhaps it’s petty, but the whole “Decision” debacle is something, to me as a Cleveland fan, completely unforgivable.

I do understand the sentiment.  The "Decision" was probably the worst professional moment of LeBron's career (and he would say so). 

But it got me thinking.  Isn't it our goal to evolve as adults?  I know that I hope that people don't judge me on the choices I made when I was 22.  The fact is, we all make choices.  We all make mistakes.  I think the goal for any of us is to learn from each "decision" we make and get better for it.

I am not sure if that's what has happened here.  But based on my hope for personal evolution...I would like to think so.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Something Ends, Something Begins

Yesterday, the second of two very old elementary schools, was demolished in my hometown.  The reaction was a mixture of nostalgia, sadness, curiosity and angst.  It's understandable.  Both schools have been a part of the history of Coshocton for many, many years.

If you are (or were) from Coshocton, I understand the feelings.  I personally attended both schools at one time.  I understand some need to keep hold of things that we remember and not have them change.  I don't begrudge you your feelings.

Where I did take exception is when I hear that this is happening because "the town is dying."  So here are just a few key points to remember...

1)  New School:  Please keep in mind the reason we are tearing these schools down is that we just built a beautiful brand new school.  This is not the act of a dying town.

2)  Good For the Community:  Their tear down, though emotionally painful, is WAY better for the community.  It's better to have these properties as greenspace than to have them as abandoned eyesores in the middle of town.

3)  New Land:  Now these properties can be developed.  One of the challenges in a small town like ours is the availability of new land.  Now, potentially, we have some!

4)  Not For Re-purposing:  I heard many voices that "someone" should have used those buildings for something.  No they shouldn't have.  These are being torn down for a reason.  Besides (and this is an important point that no one seems to remember) they were put up for auction and no one bought them!

Again, I understand if you are sad because it reminds you of great memories of your childhood.  I certainly can't tell you how to feel.  But as author Wayne Dyer says, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

We need to change our outlook on this change.  Though painful, this might be a good thing for the long term health of our community.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Saying Yes To Life

Sometimes inspiration can come from funny places.  In the movie "Yes Man" with Jim Carey, his character attends an inspirational conference and is told to say "Yes" to life.  His character is ordered to say "Yes" to everything that is asked of him.  Everything.  Hilarity ensues. 

Though it might only be a movie, it struck me that there is a lesson here.  A lot of people say "No" to life every day.  They see opportunities but decide they might be too hard (or they might fail, or they are inconvenient, or whatever) so they let them pass by.  Then they look back at their life and wonder why it's not what they had hoped. 

Opportunities are out there if we choose to see them.  Sometimes they will be hard.  Sometimes they will have the possibility of failing.  Sometimes we might embarrass ourselves.  But if you say "Yes" to these opportunities, life will give you more.

Recently LinkedIn decided (however these things are decided) that I could now write articles for them.  I saw that opportunity and said "yes."  Here is my first submission for them.

Life will give you opportunities.   Say "Yes" to life today. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Two Steps To Improvement

Last week I was able to take some time to get away from the office.  It's always great to get out and enjoy life.  But as anyone who has a lot on their plate knows, sometimes it's tough to come back to all that is on your desk. 

I was certainly struggling with that yesterday morning.  There were so many things on my "To Do" list that I actually didn't know where to start.  When I find myself in those situations I used to get frustrated and overwhelmed.  Now I do two things...

1)  Take a walk (preferably outside) for about 20 minutes.  I find this time allows me to free my mind from the challenges at hand and come up with a more manageable way to tackle the day.

2)  Take the next right step.  (Then repeat).

This might sound overly simplified.  It might be.  But I find this helps me get my projects moving in the right direction.  So when in doubt...take the next right step.