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.
I get this question a lot. What exactly do you do? What can you do for me?
There is also an underlying question: What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?
Check out my quick video and leave a comment below. What other questions have you got for me? What would you like a coach to do for you?
“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.
I 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
The real reason you’re not achieving those goals of yours? Short answer – your goals are lame. Sure, they might serve a great purpose in the long run, but you struggle to find the motivation to get them done when they don’t really mean that much to you.
“I want (fill-in the blank), but I can’t seem to find the motivation to make it happen.”
You don’t need motivation. Your goals are impotent. They don’t excite you. They don’t resonate inside you. The impact of achieving them isn’t that important, so doing the work to achieve them isn’t important either.
You only have to do one thing to reach your goals:
Only set goals in which the impact of achieving them thrills you.
It’s really that simple. If you connect to WHY achieving the goal is what you want, you’ll find it inspire you. What about achieving it resonates in you? What’s the ultimate reason you want to achieve this?
“I want to lose 25 pounds because I want to feel sexy when I step out of the shower and my husband can’t take his eyes off me.”
“I want to write my bestseller because I want to impact lives around the world with my words.”
“I want to make more sales because I want to have my dream wedding in Santorini.”
What’s the WHY behind your goals. Tap into that, and I promise you, you’ll reach every goal you put out there.
Leave a comment. Let me know what you think. Is this working for you already? Share it!
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,
ONLY A FEW SEATS REMAIN
TIRED OF JAMMING IN THE GARAGE? GET INTO THE REAL MUSIC SCENE.
The Continuing Education department at Harper College in Palatine has a music program designed to give you all the tools, resources, and know-how to take your talent to the next level, and I’m honored to be a part of it. The first in a four-class curriculum is a coaching course I lead – one that’s totally focused on getting you clear on what you want, and what it’s gonna take to make it happen. Let’s not waste anymore time and get down to the details, shall we?
We designed this program for those that want to create something with their music. Do you have a passion for the music industry, but not sure how to get your music heard? Do you get discouraged and/or quit trying before you even get started? Are you tired of the balancing act it is to create music, promote it, get exposure and recognition, and still find time to sleep at night? I know what that’s like.
STOP SPINNING YOUR WHEELS.
This program is designed to answer the hard questions, and get you on the right track to creating success with your talent. As your coach, I’m going to challenge your belief pattern like it’s my job – because it is my job. The course is titled Get Out of Your Own Way, and that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you how to do. You’ll be empowered, challenged, pushed, pulled, and set into motion. It’s been said that we’re out biggest critic, and I’m going to teach you how to change those reviews.
Look, the music business can be tough and frustrating to navigate, which makes it crucial for you to clearly define what you want to achieve and set goals to help you get there. Even more critical is understanding the why behind what you want. This class is designed to help you create your Musician Mission (how your music will impact the world), identify potential obstacles, release negative self-judgment, and create action plans for your success. You will learn how to get out of your own way so opportunities can come to you.
We’ll have a lot of fun exploring your vision, and you’ll get answers to burning questions like:
• What does Justin Beiber have that I don’t? I mean, honestly… (it’s not his hair, by the way)
• I don’t want to be the next Lady Gaga, is there still place for me in the industry?
• I’ll be a success when I get a record deal, right?
• How much does recording a studio album really cost?
• How do I get thousands of people to hear my music and promote FOR me?
We had an amazing introductory panel night on Wednesday, and enrollments are coming into the program, but time is running out! I know this course, and the Marketing & Money, Social Media & Promotions, and Recording courses that follow mine in the program are incredibly valuable. What you’re going to get in the 6 weeks with me is worth over $400 in coaching. If you wanted this opportunity with me privately, that’s exactly what it would cost you. Register for the Harper course, and save yourself $250 instantly.
What do you have to lose? Evening classes begin Thursday the 19th.
Let’s make this the year you make it happen.
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.
An earlier post prompted some commentary about the “voices in one’s head” and the negative influence they have. In my response, I noted that we all have these “voices” that influence us. The truth is:
You are your own saboteur.
As many of you know, my coaching style is one part nurture, one part nature, and one part “in your face, this is the reality of life, wake the hell up to it” honesty. This is no exception. We sabotage our success. You do it. I do it. Even successful people do it! To coin a very cliche phrase and quote Henry Ford:
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
The truth in this is that a large portion of the world automatically believes they can’t even before trying. This is the result of the saboteur within us. It’s a voice that keeps us in familiar, albeit boring, predictable, and possibly miserable situations in order to keep us safe. Many coaches and therapists also refer to this as the Inner Gremlin or Deep Risk Manager. I call mine Clark.
Technically, if we’re being honest – and let’s be honest, we are – I have a committee. There are a lot of different voices and personalities screaming things at me from time to time. If you’ve ever seen an episode of South Park, you’re probably familiar with the way Trey Parker and Matt Stone portray mobs and politicians – they’re a large group of characters that simply yell, “Rabble Rabble” over each other until it creates this incomprehensible noise and nothing gets done. That’s essentially how my committee behaves if I let them.
No, I’m not crazy. Let me explain.
The Saboteur inside you will say things to you to keep you in a place that it can control. The upside is that it prevents you from taking ultimately life-threatening chances (read: playing hopscotch on the expressway), but the flip side of that coin is that it also prevents you from taking risks that could really have us living out loud.
The voices say things that include, but definitely not limited to:
- “You’re not smart enough to do that. Who do you think you are?!?”
- “Yeah right, fatty. There’s no way you stand a chance.”
- “He’s never going to call you, you ruined it.”
- “She’s out of your league. Give up and go home where at least nobody has to see you strike out.”
- “They’re never going to hire you. You just don’t have that “thing” everyone keeps talking about.”
- “You don’t deserve it. What did you do that was so great?”
- “Don’t try… you’ll only fail and get hurt again… we all remember what that was like.”
Pretty depressing, right?
We continuously find ourselves in crappy situations and wonder how it happened. The truth is, our Saboteur told us it was a bad idea, killed our confidence, made us believe that it was better (and safer) to not stick our neck out and go for it – and that voice went unchallenged.
Ready for a heaping scoop of hard truth?
“You cannot make the same mistake twice. The second time it happens, it’s no longer a mistake – it’s a choice.”
Did he really just say that? That can’t be true.
I did say heaping, remember? This was big. Chew on it for a second. The way to pull yourself out of self-sabotage (read: not challenging those negative voices in your head), is to acknowledge what’s happening, and consciously choose your next step. For example, let’s imagine you’re unhappy with your job, and you’d like to change careers, and possibly move out of state and away from everything you know. The thought of this may trigger some of the responses in the bullets above. Hear them. Write them down. Now ask yourself, “is this thought helping me, or hurting me? When I believe this thought, do I feel good, or do I feel scared? Am I powerful or powerless?
If it makes you feel the latter of all of those options, acknowledge it. Then choose to do/feel the opposite. I know it’s often easier said than done – especially when you first start rebelling against your inner gremlin – but it does get easier. Here are some tips:
Attitude Adjustment – How is your attitude? Are you always searching for things to promote your negative outlook? A bad attitude and negativity is paramount to self-sabotage. Breathe deep, and turn the page on it today. Try seeing only the positive side for a week. It will make a HUGE difference.
Have a Plan & Work it – One of the major contributors to self-sabotage and letting the voices go unchallenged is not having a plan to support you. Make a plan for your success. Write out your goals and why they’re important to you, and start taking steps to make them happen.
Procrasterbation – Sometimes there isn’t anything quite like sitting around and doing nothing, but remember that every time you choose to procrastinate, you are also choosing not to go after what you want. If you get too comfortable being idle, you’ll sabotage projects just so you can subconsciously go back to being idle.
Fear of Failure – Many, many, many people have such a powerful fear of failing that they never really start anything. The beauty of failure is that it’s only feedback. If you learn something from it, you actually gain traction to make it happen next time. The old adage is, “If you’re not failing, you’re not really doing anything.” Get out there and do it!
Ask for Help – One of the greatest, and most often overlooked options in the pursuit of success is asking for help. How many of you are struggling, but don’t ask for help? There are people out in the world that have been in your shoes, and are full of insight and examples to help you get where you’re going. Open your mouth and start asking for help. We love to help each other.
I know this is an incredibly long post, but it’s important. The bottom line is that it’s completely normal to have negative voices in your head keeping you down. It’s almost routine to sabotage your own success from time to time. The point here is that once you know about the committee in your head, you can start consciously choosing to create different outcomes.
In the immortal words of Devo (and I use the term immortal very loosely), “When a problem comes along, you must whip it. Whip it good!”
Do you have an inner voice or gremlin you’re trying to tame? What do you do? Share you story in the comments below!
There has been a lot of negative discourse in the world these days – in case you missed it: “the economy is terrible, everything is getting too expensive, you’re not getting any younger, there’s nothing you can do, terrorism is taking over” – it’s all thrown at us every day in the media and sometimes in relationships with those closest to us.
I know, like every last one of you, I’ve found myself in situations that were not the way I’d planned them to be. Whether it’s the unexpected end of a relationship, a surprise visit (from anyone good or not-so-good), failure or falling-short of goals, or financial burdens, when things don’t go as planned it can turn us all upside-down (even if only for a few moments).
So what’s the answer to all of it? What’s the other side of this cursed coin?
There are a lot of little things you can do to shift your game, and level the playing field. They may never prevent the unexpected (it’s called unexpected for a reason), but they’ll definitely help to change the way you influence the world around you, and how it impacts you. Here are some keys for helping you through “what to do when my plans don’t go as planned.”
Tune out the “it’s never gonna get better” voice
The moment things do not go our way, we instinctively begin rattling off all the far-fetched and overly melodramatic details of how “this is just one more terrible thing” in our lives – exaggerating how the situation truly affects us. A previous post of mine [Bad Publicity] talked about this voice a lot. The messages we tell ourselves have a very serious impact on how we view the world.
Ready for a little nostalgia? Remember when you were little and upset about something and your mom told you it would be okay? You believed her! Coincidentally, she was right, wasn’t she? When did you stop believing it would be alright?
When things don’t go as planned, take a moment and listen to that voice in your head. Notice how it makes you feel to believe all the negative and depressing ideas that voice is pushing on you. If you don’t want to feel that way, choose not to believe it. 90% of the time, we blow things out of proportion. The big question is this:
Did my plan get derailed or just delayed?
Take the hint – something is trying to emerge
When what you want seems to elude you, pause for a moment and look around. What appears instead? There’s something trying to emerge in all conflict – which is exactly what happens when plans go awry! I remember working in sales a few years ago, and I found that toward the end of that job it was getting increasingly difficult to smile and stay motivated. The job wasn’t terrible on the surface, but beneath the visible, my heart was crying out for escape. I was not supposed to be there any more.
I know you’ve had moments where you suddenly saw/felt a sign that changed your perspective or brought you clarity. In fact, you may have even asked the sky/God/Universe for a sign. Well, they’re all over the place and it’s high time you gave yourself permission to slow down and see them.
As an example, let’s imagine you’re unemployed and feeling pretty down about it. Maybe you even feel like the victim of the economy. The media is posting record unemployment numbers and it’s all doom-n-gloom well into the future.
Pause. Let’s look around for a moment.
Let’s imagine that other people around you have modified their searches and have found work. Let’s even go as far to say they took risks to get the jobs they now have. What’s this sensation? Maybe the sign here is that changing your plan or taking a risk will deliver the reward you’re looking for. Are you too focused on something that’s not coming? Are you so focused on the tree in front of you that you miss the engulfing wildfire around it?
What’s trying to emerge in your struggle?
Play the Bigger Game & return to the basics
This is probably the most important piece in the equation. When plans fall apart or don’t go as expected, and you feel the weight of it all pushing you off track – discouraging and demotivating you – get back to basics. The Bigger Game is all about knowing who you are and why you do what you do. If you don’t know what it is that makes you come alive, then everything can almost taste the same. If, however, you’ve discovered what you want – what fulfills, thrills, motivates, calms, and creates you – then all you need to do is return to the why behind it.
A perfect example of this is my friend Joe. He works in his garage building custom motorcycles on weekends and most weekday nights (often well into the early morning hours). He also works 40 hours a week in a corporate job pounding phones in a cubicle in the suburbs. When things don’t go as planned, he knows it’s just a delay in his real place in life – building custom bikes.
Joe is so infinitely clear about what makes him feel most alive that he simply doesn’t let anything get in his way. His why is pumping through his veins. Motorcycle building and customizing is Joe’s “Adrenaline of Purpose.” What’s yours?
When it’s as crystal clear what you want as it is with Joe, a calmness comes over you when the unexpected happens. Instead of reacting to the stress, you get curious about it. It no longer threatens your future or happiness. You know what you want and why. That’s the first brick to lay in your foundation.
If you want help discovering what your Adrenaline of Purpose is, contact me. Let’s discover what pumps through your veins.
The Mark Twain quote above is so perfect because we need to stay present to opportunity. Even completely changed or ruined plans can unfold into the most beautiful day in your life. Give it that chance.
What do you find yourself doing/thinking/feeling/behaving when plans don’t go as planned?
Leave your comments below!
P.S. It’s all going to be okay.
I don’t know about anyone else, but it feels to me like it’s getting harder and harder to relax these days. The stress of life can be pretty overwhelming. Especially the daily grind of work. Hell, they don’t call it the daily grind for no reason, right? Many of us simply wind up, and come home exhausted, frazzled, and unfocused. Sometimes we come home to a family that we immediately neglect or pick fights with… or they come home and pick fights with us! Any time you get the chance to relax and get centered at work, take it – it’s time well spent.
I’ve included 5 ways to find a little peace and relaxation at work. These are simple, yet effective, activities you can do without going out of your way and potentially causing you more grief. Check them out, and comment on what works best for you!
Get Up & Get Out!
No, seriously, get up from your desk and walk out for a break. It’s long been said that sometimes you have to walk away from a problem and come back before you can solve it. Many of us get so focused on the minute-to-minute stress of our immediate surroundings, that simply getting away from it for a few minutes can break us free. A brisk walk or some other form of exercise while on that break is even better. Even a few minutes of exercise releases endorphins – helping to elevate your energy and your mood almost instantly!
Tune in to turn on the calm.
Studies have shown music to help with concentration and stress-reduction. Having some of your favorite tunes playing in the background of your days is very powerful in reducing your stress. My own personal advice is to use a service like Pandora or Last.fm for your music, because it offers far fewer ads than standard FM or AM radio, and the musical variety is completely custom tailored to your tastes. Relaxing music like classical is better for your brain (rather than death metal) because it lowers blood pressure and reduces Cortisol – a hormone linked to stress and weight gain.
I often have clients take a break during their day and go out to their car and spend 5 minutes listening to music they can sing to… loudly. Singing and laughing are very similar in the chemical reactions they cause in the brain. If you can find 5 minutes to sing in your car, take them. They’re powerful minutes!
Buddhist monks have been using mindful breathing techniques in their meditation for centuries. Stop for a minute during your day and practice some simple breathing. Sit up in your chair, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on your lap, and begin breathing. Notice the sensation of fresh, clean, rejuvenating air entering your body, filling your lungs. With each exhale, feel the sensation of stress, anxiety, and worry leaving your body. Notice your breath – and only your breath. Concentrate on the pattern of life, calm, centered, focus breathing in, and anxiety, worry, stress exhaling and leaving your body. Do this for one minute each hour.
An additional tool is a Mac App called CalmDown. CalmDown sets up little activities for you to get centered and calm when you need it. It sits in your upper menu bar and is ready when you are. If you select “Calm Down” your screen will fade to white and encourage you to breathe deeply. Other options have more elaborate, yet simple, activities to help you relax. It’s only $.99 in the App Store, and while it’s common sense, this little reminder is a pretty valuable deal at only $1.
Let’s be honest, we could all use a life-line from time to time. When we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or wound up, one of the greatest things we can do is vent. The next time you’re feeling those familiar feelings, take a break and phone a friend, coach, parent, therapist – whatever!
A word of caution: This can be treacherous to relationships if both parties are not clear on the rules. Venting involves just letting everything come out – no need for the other person to “fix” anything – only to listen and offer support. Both parties should lay out rules so one person doesn’t feel like he or she is being “dumped on” by the other person all the time. Venting is healthy when there’s a time limit and reciprocity.
“Can I just vent to you for 5 minutes?”
“Sure, but then I could 5 minutes too.”
Change Your Layout.
I’m a strong believer in Feng Shui – the art of arranging objects in a space to create harmony and balance in the energy of that space. If you have the luxury of changing your work space colors and arrangement, go for it. Bright colors and wood tones balance energy and spark creativity. Stay organized by introducing colorful pen holders, stapler, and stationary. If there’s a way to bring in natural light, bring in as much as you can.
Working in a plain cubicle in a nondescript office building can be a hard space to modify, but every little bit counts. To help, I’ve included some beautiful images to help you. Download them and make one a background this week, one a background next week, one a ba– you get the idea. Keep on the lookout for more inspiring images for use on your home, office, or home-office monitor!
What do you do to relieve stress or find peace at work? Share in the comments below!