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Why Crossing the Line is the Right Choice

On October 8, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Cross The Line - Don't Just Stare at it.

I recently had a conversation with a client of mine regarding what he truly wants. He had so many things to say about what he wanted. And, he had even more to say about why it’s too hard or impossible to make happen. There are all these “reasons” for how it just can’t be done, or it’s too scary, or what will happen if it doesn’t work out – and every last one of them is made up.

We’re all dealing with a myriad of lines we’re afraid to cross. Taking the big leap of faith to start your new business venture, or having the courage to make that pretty girl your wife, or investing in yourself after years of investing in everyone else – these are lines we’ve drawn and need help, encouragement, and a good push to cross.

Consider this a little push. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is right now. You will regret every chance you didn’t take when your life comes to a close. If at the end of your life, you met the person you could have been, would you regret not taking more chances?

Of course you would.

It’s better to cross the line and manage the consequences than to stare at the line for the rest of your life.

What are your thoughts? What line do you wish you had the courage to conquer? Share in the comments below.

Commitment Over Criticism

On September 16, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, News, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Diana Nyad

I write a column for the Garland & Rowlett Messenger in Texas, and with the paper coming out last week, I think it’s only fitting to share the column with you all here. If you click the link here, you can see the photo copy I’m all kinds of proud of.

Faced with a seemingly insurmountable goal, nearly every last one of us quits the fight.  Then there are the select few that reject the hand-me-down rules of what we are capable of. These individuals change the landscape of human achievement, and they don’t do it for medals, awards, or recognition. They do it because they feel it in their bones as something they can do when the world tells them it’s impossible.

Diana Nyad did the seemingly impossible over Labor Day weekend by swimming, without a shark cage, across the Caribbean Sea from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys. 110 miles of open water, hordes of box jellyfish, and the ever-present threat of sharks weren’t enough to deter her from reaching her ultimate goal.

Nyad is no stranger to defeat and the pain of failure, having finally completed the swim 36 years after her first of five attempts. At 64 years old, she swam for 53 hours straight, fueled by unshakable vigor. It begs the question, what drives someone to do such a thing?

In her 2011 TED talk,  she explained her commitment and drive, saying, “I want it to be difficult. I want it to take passion. I want it to take an unwavering commitment to be able to get to the other shore.” She spoke volumes when the first few words out of her mouth after finally reaching that shore were, “we should never, ever give up.”

This is a shining example of having a vision and commitment to making it become a reality, regardless of what obstacles come before you. In my workshops and personal coaching programs, I meet countless people with big dreams and big reasons for them, but not enough strength to keep forging ahead when it becomes difficult.

The great Roman philosopher, Lucius Seneca said it perfectly: “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” The journey is almost certainly going to be difficult at times, but you must keep pushing if you wish to shine.

You have within you the power to create an absolutely extraordinary life if you simply give yourself permission to do so. Since we were little, we’ve all had those voices telling us to be more realistic and practical in what we set out to accomplish. For some of us, the voices were those of our family members; others learned to aim lower from their coworkers, friends, teachers, or spouses.

This is the great lie of the human experience. Fear of aiming too high and failing was instilled in us based on the opinions and experiences of others. We carry around other peoples’ assumptions about life as our own. One of my favorite questions to raise is this:

If you never learned failure – if you never learned to be realistic, what would your life look like?

Give yourself permission to throw out all the conclusions you’ve been given about life, and goals you’ve been told you can and cannot reach. The greatest innovators, athletes, leaders, and performers in the world share the same chemical makeup as you – they just don’t believe the same things about life, and it allows them to create extraordinary successes.

If I told you a 64 year old woman was going to swim for 53 hours straight, 110 miles across the Caribbean Sea from Cuba to Key West, you might not believe it. You might think it couldn’t be done. She, however, never learned that lesson.

My invitation to you is to examine your beliefs about what’s possible for you in your life. Take a closer look at where you may have learned those beliefs and give yourself permission to throw out assumptions that no longer serve you. Focus on what you truly want to believe and experience, and notice what begins to happen when you do.

Until next month, stay brilliant.

—————-

Nourish What Matters – a monthly column of empowerment, clarity, confidence building, and challenges from inspirational speaker and coach, Blake Alexander Hammerton.

15 Styles of Distorted Thinking

On July 17, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Distorted Thinking

Lately it seems like all I’ve been hearing are assumptions and conclusions on how the world really works. When I pay attention a moment longer, I can hear the blaring battle cry of distorted thinking. Distortion is a cunning and seductive beast. If you don’t give pause to your thoughts, you’ll completely miss her sleight of hand. Here are 15 styles of distorted thinking:

Filtering

You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For example, let’s say you blew a tire on the way to work, but after changing it you were given a free coffee for your troubles at the local coffee shop. You’ll tell the story of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day – completely forgetting the free coffee and smile.

Polarized Thinking

Things are black or white, good or bad, possible or impossible. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground. You cannot compromise…on anything. You find all the options irrelevant because your mind is made up already… about everything.

Overgeneralization

You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. This happens after broken hearts. “All guys are douchebags. I’m just going to get my heart broken.” People are often quick to jump to conclusions after only one incident.

Mind Reading

Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you. This is because you, much like the rest of the human populous, has a Ph.D. from Make Stuff Up University.

Catastrophizing

You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start throwing out “what-ifs” about it. What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you? What if it’s too risky and you die?!?!? Knock it off. Your blood pressure doesn’t ever need to go that high on a what if. And yes, catastrophizing is totally a made-up word.

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28 Powerful Questions for a Happy Life

On June 13, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Silhouette-of-a-Man

“Keep your head clear. It doesn’t matter how bright the path is if your head is always cloudy.” ~Unknown

This is an article I wrote for Tiny Buddha last year that was published January 1, 2013. If you’ve not heard of Tiny Buddha, I highly recommend venturing over there and taking in all the goodness.

Have you ever noticed that your biggest “aha” moment comes from someone asking a powerful question? Suddenly everything seems to make a little more sense, and you know what you need to do from that point forward, right?

That’s exactly how it is for me. Someone will ask me a seemingly trivial question and bam! I’m suddenly overflowing with answers, emotions, solutions—I’m practically made of clarity!

I remember a friend of mine asking me over coffee one rainy afternoon a few years ago, “What are you avoiding, Blake?”

“What? Nothing. I mean, I guess I don’t want it to fail.” I eventually replied.

“Yeah, and…” She quips back. “What happens then?”

I came to her because her willingness to face challenges head-on amazes me, and I needed her to facemy challenge and give me that sage advice I knew she could. I wanted to leave corporate America and venture out on my own, and I wanted her to somehow make that sounds less crazy.

I wanted to throw caution to the wind and follow what I most passionately believed in.

I wanted to be my own success story.

also wanted someone else to tell me it was going to work.

Calculating, weighing, analyzing—these things can only take you so far. I subconsciously needed something to get me out of my head and into some clarity. I needed that push.

We bounced back and forth for what seemed like eternity. When most people have conversations like this, one party inevitably snaps out of the pattern and either says something oddly profound, or simply gets frustrated and tells the other to bugger off.

I was lucky enough to receive the former rather than the latter.

“When do you stop calculating risk and rewards and just do it?” she asked. “Because it feels like you’re building a magnificent ship you’re too much of a baby to ever sail. What are more committed to, dreaming it or doing it?”

Holy cow, I was stunned. She was right. What was I more committed to? What a brilliant question.

As a coach (yes, I made the leap and ventured out on my own), I make my living asking these questions to help clients get out of their own way.

The beauty of these questions is there are no right or wrong answers. They are just meant to get your wheels turning, and maybe help you see the decisions you’ve been making, and the ones you’d like to make from now on.

These are 28 of my favorite questions:

1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you?

2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail?

3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength?

4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life?

5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it?

7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

8. What do you most connect with? Why?

9. What one piece of advice would you offer a newborn child?

10. Which is worse—failing or never trying?

11. Why do we do things we dislike and like the things we never seem to do?

12. What are you avoiding?

13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now?

14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

15. What are you most grateful for?

16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world?

17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you?

18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing?

19. What are you committed to?

20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things?

21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy?

22. Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one?

23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed?

24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

25. What permission do you need/want to move forward?

26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it?

27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world?

28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing for your story or for someone else’s?

Powerful questions can change the very fiber of our construction. They give us a chance to challenge our own ideals and perhaps shed some light on what we are and are not committed to.

It’s important to understand that we’re always committed to something. If it’s not success out on our own, it’s staying safe in the comfortable success of someone else. If we’re not committed to creating our opportunities, we’re committed to floating around, hoping, waiting, and wishing for circumstance.

Are you more committed to dreaming it or doing it?

Ask yourself some of these questions when you feel stuck. What comes up just might surprise you!

Peace, love, and a million successes to you, my friends!

Photo by Tobias Mandt

Clarity and Conviction: Your Simple Recipe for Success!

On September 19, 2012, in Coaching, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

 

There are a lot of people working very hard and still not getting anywhere. They’re spinning but not moving. Sound familiar? In this week’s video, I’ll speak to that struggle with three key points:

  • Stretching yourself too thin (what it means, and what to do about it)
  • Clarity and an exercise to get some of it
  • Conviction and what it can do when you trust it.

If you enjoyed this video, have comments or questions, or have a request for next week’s video, please leave a comment below!

Peace, Love, and a million successes to you,

Blake

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Video: Commitment & Choice

On September 13, 2012, in Coaching, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

 

Please share your thoughts. What are you saying yes to these days? What would you like to say yes to?

If you like this video, please share it!

Thanks! Stay brilliant!

Blake

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30-30 Challenge: Thirty Days to Thirty Years on Earth

On February 17, 2012, in Coaching, Events, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

30 days until 30 - Challenge Accepted!

 

Holy Mother of God, it’s actually happening. I’m turning 30 in a little over 30 days. I haven’t burned the city down, and I haven’t been elected Presidente del Mundo. So, what have I done? Is it enough? Have I struck out more than I’ve home-runned? What am I missing?!?!

The past few weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of actually turning 30 – like it wasn’t actually happening to me. Suddenly, I felt the impact of this transition during my morning protein shake:

I am a month from closing my twenties… FOREVER. 

When faced with suck a pickle, it can feel overwhelming, and it challenges people to reflect and assess the life they’ve been living up to this point. I am taking it a step further and announcing the 30 Day Challenge. Can you say, “Bucket List Beta Test?” It’s essentially a kick-ass-scavenger-hunt-of-awesome, completed in 30 days. It’ll be a scramble to the very end, and I’m inviting–nay, I’m challenging you to do it with me!

Here are some of the things people want to do before they turn 30:

  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Backpacking across Europe
  • Climb a mountain
  • Run a marathon
  • Get married
  • Get divorced (maybe?)
  • Skydive
  • Bungee Jump
  • Food fight
  • Take a road-trip
  • Start a business
  • Sell that business
  • Fall wildly in love
  • Heal from a broken heart
  • Sing karaoke
  • Flowers for no reason (give and receive)
  • Buy a car
  • Buy a home
  • Fly a plane

Look, this list can go on forever. In fact, if you google it, these lists actually do go on forever. I’ve done a LOT of really cool things, and I’m now in the last month of my twenties. It’s time to man the harpoons, because I’m grabbing life by the horns and going for a whale of a good time. How’s that for mixing analogies?

I don’t have the time or money to drop everything and backpack through Europe tomorrow, so that’s out. What I can do is the scary things I’ve thought about, but put off. Well no more!

This challenge is more than just doing things. It’s about experiencing things. Experiencing emotions, thrills, spills, chills, perhaps even ills. It’s all in the name of progress, right? So, readers, I challenge you to follow along. I will send an email reminder every morning to let you know what I’m planning, and invite you to look at how you can do that too. I’ll share my story as I try to knock out all I can in the next 30 days.

There’s a fact of life many of us miss: We’re all going to end up in the record books whether we like it or not. By default, we are recorded as a statistic. If we choose to chase our dreams, stand for what we believe, and push to live deliberately, we can all change how we’re recorded. At the end of your life, are you going to leave a statistic or an impact?

That, my friends, is a damn good question. I am choosing to leave an impression on the world, and right now I’m choosing opportunities that leave a lasting impression on me. Sometimes you have to learn before you teach, right?

What are you choosing?

Leave your comments below!

 

Heart vs Head: Who Has The Upper Hand?

On February 8, 2012, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Sometimes the heart makes the brain look stupid

 

The other day a friend of mine posted this picture on her Facebook wall, with the followup comment of “story of my life.” It immediately got me thinking:

How many people feel this way?

More importantly, I instantly felt curious about how many people took it a step further and decided to no longer let the heart make decisions – after a breakup, mistake, fallout etc. Many of us experience something that alters our outlook on life to such a degree, that it can sometimes take another life-altering experience to switch it back.

I’ll be turning 30 next month, and I have been that guy – the one that lead head-first into everything, and refused to let his heart make any decisions. You see, I got my heart broken in high school (as most of us did), and in true teen-angst fashion, questioned whether love was even worth it anymore. I went to college and fell madly, stupidly, wildly in love again. Then that fell apart. Well, that was it for me. My brain told my heart he was no longer allowed to make decisions.

My heart was cutoff.

No more decisions from that guy.

Of course I then fell in love again – just as deeply, madly, and wildly as before, but there was something new happening. I was assessing and calculating like a team of high functioning autistic accountants. At the first hint of displeasure or struggle, my team of “statistical engineers” ran the numbers and determined if my relationship was worth any further effort. I started actually hearing the math being crunched in my brain when things weren’t going well.

Needless to say, my relationships were not going to last very long. And they didn’t. The greatest (read: sarcasm) and most tragic fact around all of this was that I truly believed it wasn’t my problem – the women in my life just weren’t perfect enough to pass my committee. What an awesome guy I was, right? (Again, sarcasm in heaping spoonfuls here).

Then one day my coach changed my life by putting my brain and my heart in opposite corners, and let them fight it out in court. My brain explained exactly what it was doing, and why it was the best way to go. My heart sang its song, and why it wanted out from under the thumb of the committee upstairs. For the first time in years I witnessed the struggle. I heard the cold calculations. I felt the ache in my heart from years of being ignored. I learned something more important than anything else:

My. Brain. Was. Wrong.

You see, my brain shamed me for feeling– not thinking– and causing me (brain and heart included) to experience something that turned unpleasant. My brain shamed me into following its logic. For years I was the reason my relationships were falling apart. I was the reason emotional mediocrity was  the name of the game. My brain, with all its calculations, made-up probabilities, and erroneous statistics, had carved a path for me that turned out to be something so far from what I wanted whenI was younger. My brain made me look like an idiot. And suddenly I felt like one.

You know what the funny part was: My heart forgave me. How cliche is that?

Look, when your heart leads you into a situation that turns sour, it can make you look like a fool. When your brain leads you into situations that prevent you from feeling anything at all, well, that can be so much more devastating. It’s much better to look like a fool and feel something, than to actually BE a fool and miss out.

For the record, I totally know this image is humorous and easily relatable. I get it, and I giggled when I saw it too. There is, however, some pretty powerful truths to this, and I wasn’t about to let it slide. My heart had something to say about it, and my brain knew how to make words appear on screen – go teamwork!

Remember that you’re more than just logical. You’re an emotional being. You’re significant, incredible, amazing, intricate, irreplaceable, and you are always at choice. Choose to feel. Choose to experience. Even if your brains tells you the opposite, let your heart sing.

When has your brain told your heart NO? Leave your comments below!

 

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Stop and Hear the Music

On January 6, 2012, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Washington DC Metro Subway

“In Washington DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After one hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?”

Whoa. These are some hard questions to answer. We just came out of the holiday season, and for many of us it was a stressful time. It was hours, days, weeks, maybe even months of running around, fighting traffics, crowds, and weather delays – not really a lot of appreciating, was there? How often do you get caught up in the minutiae and noise of life, and forget to notice and celebrate the beauty?

Take a moment every day and notice.

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Complimentary New Year Coaching!

On December 28, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

 Welcome 2012 Year - Your Best Ever

 

In a year from now, you’ll wish you started today.

This is one of my most favorite quotes because it keeps me focused on what I’m committing to when I procrastinate. Every time I say no to getting up and getting out there, I’m saying yes to missed opportunities; yes to broken promises to myself; yes to feeling overwhelmed later when I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done; yes to excuses – the list goes on.  When I say yes to those things, I’m also saying no to success; no to opportunity; no to connections; and no to myself.

In a year from now, you bet your ass I will wish I had started today. That’s why I’m starting…. today.

My coaching and hypnosis clients have been breaking down their walls, and giving themselves permission to be active participants in their own lives. They’re waking up, getting clear, and consciously creating like I’ve never seen. It’s A-MAY-ZING. Several of them have mentioned things like, “If people only gave themselves the chance to speak to you for a few minutes, they’d realize how powerful this is.” I’m taking that to heart, and I’m offering a beautiful, wonderful, absolutely free opportunity to do just that – get hardcore, goal-oriented, no-fluff coaching to start 2012 off right.

I’m offering year end completion sessions absolutely free for the next two weeks. This offer is only good until the 11th of January. I know what it’s like to make resolutions for the new year and watch them fall apart by March. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re doing the same thing – same victories, same mistakes – year after year. These completion sessions give you a chance to notice the cycle, break it, and create a new pattern for the year.

It’s too good not to give away.

Look, in a year from now, you’ll wish you started today. And it’s free. And you’ve nothing to lose, right? So, what’s stopping you?

Check out the list of the 15 habits for your best year ever, and  contact me to schedule your free call with me.

You’ve always wanted this to be the year you finally make it happen, right?

It can be. Let’s make it happen.

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