In Parenting… Patience is Strength

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner

Tuesday, 7:55 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Starting a strength training regime is exhilarating. Our body begins to feel stronger immediately. The sense of improvement is palpable and real. We receive instant feedback. We can lift more weight or do more repetitions each consecutive week. We feel as if we could go to the gym forever. Then… something happens.

We miss a day here, then a week there. We need to travel for work or we have out-of-town guests or our car breaks down. Soon, what we could do easily the week or two before now feels intolerably difficult. Even if we don’t miss a week, this can happen. This is often the crux of getting ourselves onto a regular strength training program. I have found I can work myself up to a certain level of fitness, and then let a series of external circumstances keep me from making the jump to the next level. I always feel as if I am repeating the same cycle.

How many of you have experienced this? The sense that you are alway covering the same ground, without improvement. It is similar to Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I suspect many of you have encountered this very phenomenon at least once, if not more than once. The truth is, it’s inevitable. Everyone experiences the same sense of let down after the initial burst of improvement and enthusiasm. Our bodies are not designed to develop and improve in a linear fashion. We traverse through natural cycles of highs and lows, of feeling strong one week and weak the next.

This is an important idea to keep in mind… This cycling happens daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly. To become strong physically, as well as mentally, we must be patient. It is like seduction. As soon as you think you have it nailed it slips through your fingers, like grains of sand in a clenched fist.

The harder your squeeze the faster the sand flows through your fingers.

Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t become a 7 time Mr. Olympia overnight. It took time and energy to create his legendary physique. This was not measured in days, weeks or even months. Years of dedication and hard work is what it took.

Becoming strong physically, or becoming a better parent, is not a sprint, it is an ultra-marathon. It requires what the Japanese call kaizen and Anthony Robbins calls CANI — Constant And Never ending Improvement. Kaizen is a Japanese business term, yet it is a powerful metaphor for improving ourselves. It means seeking continuous, incremental improvement. Such an approach takes a long view to being who we want to become. It emphasizes taking small, daily steps — everyday, of every week, of every year.

If you’ve been struggling with sticking to a strength training regime or feel that your parenting has taken a thrashing lately, consider retooling your thinking. When trying to lose an old habit, create a new one and make it as easy as tying your shoe, you may go for weeks or months without positive results. We are the accumulation of what we do everyday.

“How we do anything, is how we do everything.”

Take control of how you act and what you do, today, and you will create significant change in your life. Maybe it won’t happen tomorrow, next week, or even next month, but if you are patient, put in good practice and keep after it, then you will reap the reward.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Saving. Resistance. Flexibility. And Habit.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, thus, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

Tuesday, 7:36 a.m.
Boulder, CO

How many of you save as much as you think you should? If you’re anything like me, not even close. On some level, most of us know we should be saving more money. Currently most Americans owe more than they have saved. Saving money is one of our greatest challenges. Why is that?

Is it because…

“You have more bills then income?” “There’s a new dress, gizmo, what have you that you absolutely must have?” “Your car is in the shop?”

Nope. That’s not it.

The reason why saving money is so difficult is…

RESISTANCE.

Resistance opposes action. It is the little voice inside our head that says, “I’ll start tomorrow, or next week, or when I get a raise.” Resistance is anything that keeps us from doing what we know we should be doing.

One of its greatest allies is RATIONALIZATION.

If you find yourself rationalizing your way out of doing something, anything — whether it’s saving money, finishing that long overdue house project, or increasing your flexibility — then you are saddled with resistance. Everybody experiences it; no one is immune to it. A precious few have discovered how to overcome it.

When we commit to stretching everyday to increase our flexibility, we most definitely experience resistance. Some of us feel it immediately. We never even get off the couch. A few of us begin stretching right away, but then one thing or another pops up and soon we find ourselves back where we started — stiff and uncomfortable. And a couple of us stick with it and reap the benefits. We’re more active, we sleep better, we no longer feel like we’re about to break in two, and we may even lose some weight.

Even though stretching is only one aspect of becoming more physically flexible, it is the one that creates the most resistance. It can hurt and feel uncomfortable. It is far easier to sit on the couch then spend 10 to 15, or even 20 minutes stretching our overly tight limbs. It is difficult to stick with it. There is always something else to do… something more SEDUCTIVE.

These are all lies trying to convince us that they are more important than taking care of ourselves. They are ALL manifestations of RESISTANCE. So when you begin feeling resistance, as you certainly will, here are few ideas to overcome putting it off until tomorrow:

  • Remember, that the world will resist your efforts to better yourself. So you must remain vigilant. Do not get sucked into that black hole of apathy and rationalization.
  • Schedule a time to stretch everyday. If you schedule it, you are more likely to do it.
  • Commit to yourself in writing or tell someone about your plan. You’ll have more incentive to stick with it.
  • Find a stretching partner. If someone is counting on you, then you’re less apt to rationalize your way out of it.

Stretching is like saving money. We all know we should do it, but there is always something we’d rather be doing. Stretching, like saving money, produces geometric returns. When you stretch you don’t have to spend as much time at the gym because flexible muscles are naturally stronger than inflexible muscle. You know the saying…

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

If you stick with stretching everyday for the next 21 days you will start to view your life in a different and new light. 21 days is all it takes to create a transforming life habit.

NOW is a perfect opportunity to start. Be Stubborn. Don’t succumb to temptation. Make a commitment TODAY to stretch everyday for the next 21 days. Mark it on your calendar. Do whatever it takes to make it happen.

You’re body will thank you!

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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I will act now

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world — that is the myth of the atomic age — as in being able to remake ourselves.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, 7:31 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Why is it so difficult to change? What are we so scared of? It’s the only constant in our lives, yet most of us do everything we can not to change and then wonder why we keep getting the same crappy results again and again. We hope our situation will change or the government will change or the economy will change. Well they will change, but you’ll be the same. So unless you prepare to take advantage of that change, you’ll keep on doing what you’re doing.

It takes flexibility, strength, responsiveness and resiliency in all areas of your life — body, mind and emotions — to succeed in our ever-changing world. When your butting heads with your teen for the umpteenth time and wondering, “When is this ever gonna change. When is he (or she) going to see that’s it my way or my way?”, remember what Jim Rohn said…

“For things to change you must change”

YOU CAN ONLY CONTROL YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR!

When you change your behavior, the people in your life — spouse, children, relatives, friends, co-workers — must then adapt to you. You create an opportunity for a different result. In other words, by changing yourself you change the dynamic between you and your teen, spouse or co-workers. It is this shift that breaks the routine and creates the opportunity for change.

One big problem though, is most of us, even if we’re willing, don’t know how to change. We’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for so long that we don’t have a clue as to how to do anything differently.

Everyday a dad comes home and grumbles about his boss. What do you think his son says about his teachers?

Over the past twelve weeks I’ve offered some ideas on how to change. My guess is that most of you have done nothing. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s pretty normal. Less than 10% of the people who buy a “self-help” book ever read past chapter one.

But LOOK… You can’t just keep filling your head up with information and hope and pray that your life will change or your kids will change. There is no magic wand or solution that will all of a sudden make everything right with the world. Change takes effort and it takes time and it’s been known to be extremely painful. That is why so few of us manage to change our lives. Sure, we may change little things, maybe even some big things, but how many among us can really say, “I’m a completely different person from who I was 3 years ago?” Not many I imagine.

Now I’m not saying that you have to change. Anyone can live anyway they want, and that’s OK. But if you want to change your life, I am here to tell you that can. If you want more love in your life, then you must first learn to give love. If you want more respect, you must first learn to give respect. If you want your teen to listen to you, you must first learn to give your ear to your teen.  You get nothing, without giving. Everything you give, you get back… multiplied.

If giving is all it takes, then what stops most of us from creating change in our lives? What’s keeping us from remaking ourselves?

ACTION!

TO GIVE is a verb. It is an action word. To give love is to take action. To give respect is to take action. To lend an ear is to take action. Taking action is paramount to success. All the knowledge in the world wont change a dollar bill into four quarters.

And this is where most of us get stuck — we FAIL TO ACT.

Even when we do act sometimes things just don’t work out, but that’s the risk we take. However, if we sit back and do nothing we risk even more. We risk the opportunity to create greater connection with our children. We risk wishing we could do it all over again. And, we pretty much guarantee that things won’t change for us.

So say to yourself, “I will act now.”

When you balk at heading to the gym or going for a walk or run, say to yourself, “I will act now.” If you find yourself saying, “I can’t,” or “I’ll never,” say to yourself, “I will act now.” As you begin to see red, because your teen is exploiting your emotional weaknesses, say to yourself, “I will act now.”

Don’t go another day without committing to remaking yourself into a flexible, strong, responsive and resilient person. Say to yourself, “I will act now! I will act now! I will act now!”

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Life is not fair. It’s just life.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” — Rudyard Kipling

Monday, 7:45 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Do you ever find yourself taking something personally, when you know shouldn’t? Do you have a difficult time receiving constructive criticism? Do you often seek revenge after a perceived slight, thinking to yourself, “I’ll show them?” Not to worry, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there at one time or another. It’s really part of our DNA — the survival instinct. Fight or flight came long before our ability to choose how to act. Emotionally resilient people aren’t different from you or me, they have just discovered how to move beyond the fight or flight response and choose how they want to act at any given moment.

Emotional resiliency is not just the ability to get up and keep going after being knocked down, put down, embarrassed or ridiculed, to name a few. It is also the ability to keep a cool head in the midst of conflict and direct the interaction to where you wan it to go. It is possibly the most difficult part of developing emotional balance and power.

In this blog, I will give you some tips on how to develop your emotional resilience. In doing so, you will experience more influence, more personal power and less conflict at work and at home. You will no longer be sucked into petty turf wars at work or be goaded into arguments at home by your teen.

Life isn’t fair. It’s just life.

I don’t think their is a person among us, no matter how tough, who enjoys being made fun of, laughed at, ridiculed, embarrassed, told their work isn’t good enough, etc. It just doesn’t feel good to hear or experience that venom. If we let our emotions run the show, then we risk saying or doing something we’ll regret later–maybe for the rest of our lives. We must continually exert energy to keep things moving in a direction we want them to go. We must act POSITIVELY for OUR BEST INTEREST.

It is natural to want to defend yourself. Instinct is powerful stuff. Fight or flight, it’s been around for millions of years. Our reasoning skills not so long. It takes immense effort to ignore our instincts and choose not to loose it in front of our boss or on our kids.

Emotional resiliency helps you keep it together when your insides are seething. It also helps you play fair and be “friendly” when everyone else is doing just the opposite. I am not talking about pushing your emotions away. I am talking about choosing a higher path. I am talking about making decisions that are in your best interest. I talking about keeping your cool when everyone around you is losing theirs and blaming it on you. When you can do that, you’re invincible — no one can touch you.

Here are some tips for keeping calm and carrying on when all you want to do is blow up.

Smile – smiling for 3- 5 seconds after someone has just finished ripping into you will help deflate and diffuse tension. You give yourself time to respond without losing your cool.

Breath – breathing delivers more oxygen to the front of the brain and helps you think straight. The more you consciously breath when emotionally charged, the more you quell the flight or fight response. Those extra seconds help you choose a better option, and, unless it is a true life or death situation, there is always a better option than fight or flight.

Count from ten to one — This requires focus and concentration. It takes your mind off the immediate threat and gives you time to formulate a response.

Plan your exits — If you know that there are certain people in your life or certain situations that really get you emotionally unwound, then pre-plan how you want to respond. Pre-plan how to get out of the situation, fast. Practice what you’ll say and how you’ll say it. Do this seven times out loud in front of a mirror. Doing this will work miracles.

Home turf advantage — don’t get pulled into a land war on someone else’s turf. They will have the upper hand and it will be harder to keep your cool. Also use home court advantage to get the edge when you need it.

Focus on the other person — shifting focus from ourselves to the other person or the situation, naturally helps us chill out. Focusing on our own feelings when in the heat of the moment, generally intensifies them and only serves to add fuel to the fire.

Acknowledge emotions — acknowledge yours and other people’s emotions. It helps deflate them and makes them less scary.

Don’t stew — have a way to release your emotions. Give yourself two minutes to vent — in private or to a close friend.

Address conflict immediately — address misunderstandings as soon as possible. It shows that you care and are conscientious.

The benefit of developing these skills, is that you when your child yells, “I Hate You!” for the umpteenth time, you’ll be able to keep your cool and address the situation objectively. You’ll have control of yourself and the situation. In addition, you’ll be modeling behavior for your teen that will help them make better choices in the face of conflict and peer pressure. It’s an investment in THEIR future.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Anger May Be The Right Response… Or Not.

“Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to
be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the
right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way –
this is not easy.” Aristotle

Monday, 7:39 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Have you ever had an experience with another person when it felt like they totally got you? That they knew exactly what you were feeling, even before you did? Somehow they knew exactly what you needed, when you needed it?

How would you like to develop that type of rapport with someone automatically? What would relating to someone in that way do for you? What kind of opportunities would it create?

Would you feel more at ease in unfamiliar social situations? Would it grease the rails of promotion in your career? What about your relationships with your kids? Would it ease the tension in your house and create more harmony, because you are no longer yelling and arguing?

All of this is possible. It doesn’t require any fancy footwork or talking, fancy equipment or knowhow. In fact we all have what need to get started right now. All you need to do is this one thing. If you do it, and you don’t even if have to do it right, it will create miracles in your life.

Do you know what it is…? Would you like to know what is?

LISTEN.

That’s right… LISTEN

Listening creates more opportunities than you could ever imagine. It calms more frenzy and lifts more spirits than anything you can say. LISTEN. Listen to yourself. Listen to others, and keep listening.

Listening is important because it is a compassionate act and is the foundation of what Deepak Chopra calls spontaneous right action.

Emotional responsive people respond and act appropriately in every and any situation because they actively listen to themselves and others at all times. They don’t need to think about how to act or what to say. It just happens, spontaneously.

Recall a time when it felt like someone or something was speaking for or through you. Remember how easy it seemed. You didn’t think about what to say or do, you just did it or said it, and it was spot on. That is spontaneous right action. That it is how it feels to be emotionally responsive. All you need to do is… LISTEN.

If you cultivate your listening skills, your WORLD will change.

Now most of us think we are good listeners, just as 95% of us think we are better than average drivers. To really listen and try to understand another person, means that we must redirect our focus from ourselves to the other person. We must listen to listen, not listen to respond. If you find yourself, as most of us do, thinking about what you are going to say when the other person’s mouth stops moving, then, you are not listening to listen, you are listening to respond. Your focus is on you.

When we actively listen, we respond spontaneously. When the opportunity presents itself, we speak, but often, it’s not even necessary. If a picture says a thousands words, so does listening — much more than anything you can say. When you listen, what you are telling the other person is that they are important, that what is going on with them matters to you. And don’t we all want to feel important? So learn to listen.

Listening also diffuses tension. It is like water, it is self-leveling. listening brings people down from their frenzy and lifts them up from their depression. Without saying a word you can completely turn a persons day around, from bad to good.

Here are four ways you can become a better listener:

  1. Ask questions. Stephen Covey says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Ask questions to be sure you understand what the other person is trying to say. Summarize what they said and ask if you are understanding them correctly. If you’re confused, ask questions. A little clarification will go a long way to reducing conflicts due to misunderstanding.
  2. Forget about you and focus on the other person. When you do, you stop thinking about what you are going to say or how the person doesn’t know what he is talking about. You are listening to listen, not to respond. You are giving power to the speaker and they feel important because of it. So forget about you. It will be your turn soon enough.
  3. Pick your Time and Place. Whenever possible carefully pick the time and place for any important interaction. This will minimize distraction and help you be a better listener.
  4. When the opportunity presents itself, begin by briefly rephrasing what the other person said to be sure you are both on the same page. Then ask them a how, what or when question. “How would you like this to turn out? What do you think is the right thing to do? When would you like to start?”

Just because we hear the words another person speaks doesn’t mean we are listening. Emotional responsive people are control of themselves and how they interact with the world because they listen to themselves and all the people they come in contact with. Emotionally responsive people act spontaneously and rightly because they LISTEN. As a result they have more love, more success, more everything.

Emotional Responsiveness = Listening = Spontaneous Right Action = More Everything.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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A Thousand Thanks

Yesterday, my 2 1/2 year old son gave me a homemade Father’s Day card. It was done on a piece of french vanilla colored construction paper. Around the edge of the paper is a squiggly red line. On the left side is an imprint of his right hand in blue paint, on the right his right foot. At the center is the outline of a heart in red felt tip pen ink. Within the heart is this poem:

Happy Father’s Day

“A Dad is a person
who is loving and kind,
And often he knows
what you have on your mind.
He’s someone who listens,
suggests, and defends.
A dad can be one
of your very best friends!
He’s proud of your triumphs,
but when things go wrong,
A dad can be patient
and helpful and Strong.
In all that you do,
a dad’s love plays a part.
There’s always a place for him
deep in you heart.
And each year that passes,
you’re even more glad,
More grateful and proud
just to call him your dad!
Thank you, Dad…
for listening and caring,
for giving and sharing,
but, especially, for just being you!
Happy Father’s Day

As it turns out, I had the rare opportunity to spend Father’s Day with my dad and my son. My parents were visiting from the east coast. The visit wasn’t planned this way; it was just coincidence. Yet what a treat to have them here, especially my dad, for Father’s Day. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learned from him.

No parent is perfect. My dad isn’t perfect and neither am I. Everyday we make mistakes. We do the best we can with the tools we have. Some parents are fortunate enough to have amassed more tools and skills than others. I believe this is most often due to luck of the draw, more than anything else. Yet it’s important to recognize the parts of us that we took from our parents — the good and the bad.

From my dad I believe I’ve learned patience and humility (at times). I’ve learned to be kind and how to love unconditionally. I don’t feel I learned how to be open and comfortable with my emotions and feelings. I don’t feel I learned how to be assertive. I did learn to exaggerate… just a bit.

Just as it’s important to understand our parents role in who we are, it is equally important to choose what we wish to pass onto our children. Here are few things, I wish to hopefully teach my son.

I want to teach him to be patient and humble, kind and loving. I want to him to take risks, but know that with risk not only comes reward, but defeat and heartache and pain. I want him to trust himself, and others. I want him to work hard and do the best he can at whatever he puts his mind too.

Most of all I want him to be happy. I want him to be happy with who he is and what he does, not for what he has. I want him to be happy because he is fully engaged, not because he won. I want him to be happy whether he succeeds or fails.

From my experience, these are not easy lessons to learn. It takes time and support and love. So I ask you, “What are the lessons you’ve learned from your father? What are the lessons you wish to teach your children?”

If you’ve never thought about this, maybe it’s time to start. As a son and a father, I am humbled and exhilarated by the awesome responsibility of raising a child. It is both a terrifying and joyful experience. One I wouldn’t trade for anything else… not fame, not fortune… but maybe a good night sleep every once in a while would be nice.

I thank my dad for all his efforts and wish that my efforts bear a bountiful harvest. And for you I wish the same. Good luck with your children, because as Jane Goodall said…

“Children can change the world.”

Happy Father’s Day

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

 

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You can only control your own life.

“The daily challenge of dealing effectively with emotions is critical to the human condition…” — Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

Monday, 7:35 a.m.
Boulder, CO

I imagine that most of us have let our emotions get the better of us at one time or another. I know mine have. At such times we often feel utterly out-of-control. Sometimes it even feels like our emotions take over without warning. At other times, we feel the surge of emotions coming on like a wave and yet seem helpless against them.

How would it change your life if this were the exception rather than the norm? Just because it happened in the past, doesn’t mean it needs to happen in the future.

Emotionally strong people have learned to sense and read their emotions. They have also discovered strategies for not letting their emotions take over and run the show. Emotionally strong people don’t necessarily have strong emotions, or even no emotions, it just means they are familiar with their emotions and how to work with them to get what they want.

Remember EMOTIONS are MESSENGERS.

They alert us to feelings of imbalance in our life. This can be physical imbalance — not enough exercise and too much work. It can be an emotional imbalance — unfulfilled needs or dissatisfying relationships. Whatever the imbalance, we learn about it through our emotions. By discovering what our emotions are telling us we can make more informed choices.

Here are some benefits of becoming friendly with your emotions:

  • You’ll make friends more easily, because you won’t be concerned about what people think about you. You’ll be secure in who you are as a person.
  • You’ll be more trustworthy. When we are comfortable with ourselves we don’t need agendas when relating with other people. As a result, you will commit to what you can commit to and say no to the rest. In that way everyone knows where you stand and will respect you more because of it.
  • You’ll be more proactive. Proactive people create their world. Even though you’ll be confronted with the same difficulties and opportunities that face everyone, you’ll handle them differently. You won’t react or overreact.
  • You’ll have more peace in your life.

Even though the benefits may seem like they are enough to motivate you, it is rarely that simple. Our emotions have millions of years of programing behind them. They have survived intact for a reason. In order to counteract their fight-or-flight response, you need to develop your own emotional muscle.

Here are FIVE ways to develop emotional strength.

  1. Become mentally and physically strong. When we feel good physically we tend to have a better outlook on life. We have more confidence. The two feed off one another in a positive feedback loop. The beneficiary of this exchange is our emotions. We tend to have less negative emotions when we are physically and mentally strong.
  2. Learn to say, “No.”
  3. Write a personal mission statement. This has been mentioned before, with good reason. A personal mission statement helps clarify who you are and what is important to you. When making decisions you can use your personal mission statement as a compass to tell you if you are still on course or not.
  4. Map out your exit (or avoidance) strategies. We all have favorite ways to avoid dealing with our emotions, good and bad. Common ones are drinking or exercising or distracting ourselves with television or reading. None of these are bad in and of themselves, but when used to avoid facing emotional issues, they become crutches. Knowing your exits can clue you into when you are avoiding something.
  5. Purposefully put yourself in emotionally challenging situations, but only after mapping out exactly how you plan to behave. It’s easy to be Mr. Nice Guy when everything is going OK. It’s not as easy to stay calm when confronted with a disgruntled customer or angry teen. This is when we need a plan on how to act, or our emotions WILL get the better of us.

If you’ve come this far, then you’re ahead of 90% of the people you interact with everyday, so don’t stop now.

Here are three things you can do right now to begin developing emotional strength:

  1. Make a list of things that are important to you (e.g., kindness, friendship, family, giving back to the community, strong relationships with the key people in your life). Now put them in order of importance. A list of five to ten is great. When a big decision comes up weigh it against this list. You’ll be amazed at how many things you used to do that had nothing to do with what’s important to you.
  2. Next, list three things that get you upset and how you typically try to avoid them.
  3. Finally, make a point to put yourself in at least one uncomfortable situation, each week, that you would normally try to avoid.

If you actually do the things I am suggesting, you will be on the road to improved emotional strength. Remember, an emotionally strong person doesn’t get tunnel vision and therefore can see more while the rest of us see are seeing red. And that’s all the advantage you need.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

 

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Could you survive a shark attack?

“Being totally positive all the time isn’t normal.” — Toughness Training For Life, by Jim Loehr, Ed.D.

Monday, 7:25 a.m.
Boulder, CO

What would you do if you were suddenly confronted by a great white shark while surfing off the coast of California? Would you freeze and become the victim of a shark attack? Or, would you, like Butch Connor who survived just such an attack, control your fear, fight back, and eventually make it to shore?

We can control our emotions, and yet too often we let them control us. We can control our emotions, through our body and our mind. If we feel low, we can get up and go for a walk. Moving our body helps clear our low feelings. If we feel sad, we can remember a happy time and our mood will change. All we need to do is smile, think a happy thought and our body chemistry changes automatically. To do this on cue is often referred to as Emotional Toughness.

Emotional Toughness does not mean we are hard, or insensitive, or cold. Emotional Toughness means we control our emotions, rather than the other way around.

When we control our emotions we make better choices and have greater influence over our lives and the lives of others. We are seen as role models for others and we are looked up to. We can even survive a shark attack.

So what are EMOTIONS?

Emotions are messengers. They give information. How we interpret that information is what gives emotions meaning. We can interpret the information anyway we choose. We can view it as negative, neutral or positive. The meaning we give our emotions, is what gives them power. If we control the meaning, we control our lives.

Emotions are biochemical reactions that stem from both positive and negative physical and mental stressors. A hard day at the office can create a high level of mental and physical stress that we often feel as fatigue, or malaise, or let down. If we succumb to these feelings, we may try to block them out with alcohol or drugs or other destructive habits. Or we may try to suppress them, only to have them manifest themselves later as illness, such as ulcers, arthritis or even cancer.

On the other hand, we can choose to be aware of our emotions and listen to what they are trying to tell us. So first, we must learn to be aware of our feelings. Then we must try to understand what they are telling us. This is how we become emotionally flexible.

Many people have one or two “go to” emotions. These emotions feel comfortable and give a person a sense of self-control. Unfortunately, this fixed mind-set does the opposite; it actually decreases our options. Emotionally flexibility, on the other hand, creates opportunities. If your normal reaction is to defend yourself any time someone offers you constructive criticism or advice, then you lose the opportunity to learn and grow. It is natural for us to want to defend ourselves, but often that immediate reaction only creates misunderstanding and problems.

An emotionally flexible person understands that how she sees the world is not how everyone sees the world. So she adjusts how she acts based on other peoples behavior. In doing so she often finds common ground from which to create positive outcomes.

An emotionally inflexible person, who can only respond with anger or cynicism or unbridled optimism for example, cannot adjust her response to the behavior of other people. As a result she often finds herself pigeonholed. She can only get so far ahead and can only relate to certain people. She is limited by her inflexibility.

To become more aware of our emotions and how we avoid them, we must ask ourselves questions. The next time you become emotionally charged, take a moment to inventory your body. What is it telling you? How are you breathing? Fast or slow; shallow or deep? Area you sweating? Is your stomach clenched? What’s your immediate reaction? How do you avoid your emotions?

Answering these questions will help you become emotional flexible, a key to Emotional Toughness and surviving shark attacks.

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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Happy Memorial Day

“Nothing endures but change.” — Heraclitus

Monday, 7:35 a.m.
Boulder, CO

Today is Memorial Day. It is a day to remember and honor all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. It is a reminder of the price we must sometimes pay to protect and keep alive what we hold dear. If we are willing to die for what we believe in and value, then there is not a single person in this world who can control us. There is not a person who can take away our freedom.

Freedom is a state of mind. Even prisoned within a cell a man (or woman) may still count himself as free. CHANGE may, and often does, feel like a prison, keeping us from what we really want. We find ourselves blaming the world and other people for our lot in life. Many of us are imprisoned by our minds while we walk freely through our lives. While others are totally free though confined to a 6 by 6 cell.

Change can be our greatest difficulty or greatest opportunity. It all depends on how we look at it. To the resilient mind, change is opportunity. It is not to be feared. It is to be embraced.

“If you don’t like the weather, then just wait ten minutes.”

If you live in Colorado, then you’ve most likely heard this phrase or something like it. The same is true with life, with one great difference. As individuals, we have no influence over the weather, yet we have a great deal of power and choice as to how we direct our life. Therefore we need not wait ten minutes; we can create our own weather right now.

If you don’t want to think about oranges, think about bananas.

This is the hallmark of a resilient mind. The ability to direct ones thinking despite the mayhem and confusion all around. Resilience is not just against the bad, but the good too. A resilient mind does not become overly distracted by the bad or the good. The mind that is engulfed in unrealistic optimism, is just as weak as the mind that is dwarfed by unrealistic pessimism.

To develop a resilient mind we must learn to reframe; we must learn to view every situation, every encounter, every mistake as an opportunity to learn and to grow. Your boss yelling at you for something you didn’t do, is an opportunity to find common ground. Your teen missing curfew, again, is an opportunity to discover more about yourself, your fears and your emotions. Dropping the ball and costing your team a championship, is an opportunity to learn about how you handle failure.

One reason it is so difficult to maintain an even keel is that we have grown accustomed to external validation of our own self-worth. One of the greatest benefits of a resilient mind is that we develop a high self-regard for ourselves. In other words, we don’t need other people to tell us how great we are. In fact a resilient mind and high self-regard are foils to one another. With a resilient mind we don’t let little things, or big things, keep us from doing what we want. As a result we try more and we do more and thus overall we are more successful. This feeling of success feeds our feelings of self-worth which gives us the courage to try and do more.

In the end we keep expanding. We keep growing and developing as a person. A resilient mind creates more opportunities because it is not afraid of failing.

Sun Tsu, in the Art of War, wrote

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

The person with the resilient mind, garners more opportunities and thus more recognition, more wealth, more everything, exactly because she is not afraid to make a mistake. She is not afraid to fail. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in a season and he set a league record in strikeouts the same year. He didn’t do that with a non-resilient mind. He didn’t do that because he was afraid to strike out or he was afraid of making others look bad. He did it because he believed in himself and because he wasn’t afraid to risk looking like a failure.

“‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?… Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine…” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love, pp. 190-191

The person with a resilient mind handles the ever changing world by controlling his (or her) thoughts, reframing the world, having internal measures for success and not being afraid to fail. Our nation was founded on these principles. The founding fathers would not have gotten far if they lacked the resolution  of a resilient mind. On this special day let us pay tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters who have given their lives so we can enjoy the opportunities and abundance we so richly deserve.

Semper Fidelis — Always Fatihful

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The Secret Sauce of Success

“Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.” unofficial motto of the United States Marine Corps

Monday, 7:30 a.m.
Boulder, CO

In just twenty-five years Henry Ford went from Nowheresville to being the wealthiest man in America. How did he do it? He responded creatively to his environment and he didn’t take “No” for an answer. One story goes that Mr. Ford came up with the idea for the assembly line in his Ford Motor Plant after visiting a meat packing business, where he witnessed the opposite in action – the disassembly line method of packing meat.

Another story says that Mr. Ford’s engineers repeatedly told him the V8 engine was an impossibility. Ford didn’t listen and kept his engineers working on it until they figured it out. Though must of us will never become a captain of industry, we can still benefit from the lessons gleaned from those few among us who do.

Henry Ford had tapped into one of the keys of mental toughness — a responsive mind. Someone with a responsive mind continually monitors his or her thinking patterns, feelings, and psychological and physiological needs. In doing so, he, or she as the case may be, can detect and head off small problems before they become big ones. In fact such a person may regularly carry a bag of nuts or something else to eat, because he knows he becomes irritable and loses concentration when hungry.

Moreover, a person with a responsive mind is inherently proactive, continually seeking for creative solutions to everyday challenges. Henry Ford and his competitors all faced a similar challenge, and opportunity — how to produce more cars, more quickly and more efficiently? Ford looked outside what he knew for a creative solution and found one. By reversing the method used by meat packers, Mr. Ford created an enormous advantage for himself and revolutionized the auto industry.

Jim Rohn said, “the same wind blows on us all. It is not the wind that determines our future, but the set of our sail. It is the set of our sail that determines where we end up two, three, five years from now.” People with responsive minds are continually adjusting the set of their sail.

The greatest benefit of developing a responsive mind, is better control of your life. You determine where you go, by properly setting your sail, even when the wind is unfavorable. Henry Ford didn’t make his own wind, he merely harvested the wind by setting a better sail.

To set a better sail we must be aware of our surroundings and how we fit into them. We must also know our bearing, or have an idea of where we want to go. We must be like Henry Ford. We must not limit our awareness to our own neighborhood and we must have a clear vision of what we want. These are the hallmarks of a responsive mind.

Ford devised the assembly line from the disassembly line and created the V8 engine because he did both. He responded to to his environment and to his own needs with creativity and determination.

To develop a more responsive mind we must learn to:

  1. become more aware;
  2. set our bearing (or set goals); and
  3. set a better sail (or be more proactive).

To learn more about our teen mentoring program and to set-up a FREE consultation Click Here.

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