The number one killer of creativity is distractions and dealing with life’s challenges requires a lot of creativity.
Recently, I spotted my young son Andrew running on our couch. Andrew said he was getting in the required daily four thousand steps because his Fitbit device said he was behind. He was so serious about the arbitrary goal that it worried me a bit. I didn’t think a Fitbit should be dictating Andrew’s daily activity, so I took the device away and suggested he focus instead on school, friends, being a big brother and, well… being a kid.
It got me thinking about how easy it is to let random things distract us. In this era, few of us can escape distractions. Our attention is constantly being pulled in so many directions it’s tough to focus on our life’s mission.
And while the news can often present a compelling storyline, even following macro-issues in the economy or politics can leave us feeling powerless. Sooner or later, we project...
Our life path is the sum of all available opportunities, our socio-economic status, the choices we make, our personal narrative and countless other factors.
We’ve all made a New Year’s resolution. They sound like a good idea at the time. But a frivolous resolution is a perfect example of expecting critical change to come from making one decision. They are a symptom of a society that has developed an unrealistic attitude of demanding instant gratification. Few want to hear the truth that positive habits need to marinate over time.
A better way of thinking about good habits is that you are not trying to improve your life today. Rather, the larger goal is to change the trajectory of your life.
For instance, most people recognize that going to college will certainly limit your short-term earning potential. But they also know that over the long term a college degree can drastically increase one’s pool of contacts and boost their earning potential. The result is...
Sports are rich in lessons about personal development, and I love listening to sports talk shows unpacking a team’s strategies, tactics and training. So, I’d like to share some of my sports thoughts that also offer excellent insight into achieving amazing success.
Use luck, but don’t depend on it
Luck will always influence success, especially in sports. For instance, a key reason the Milwaukee Bucks won the 2021 NBA championship was the team’s comparatively low number of injuries. Of course, the Bucks still needed to put in plenty of hard work to win the games, but the team masterfully figured out how to capitalize on its fitness luck. This is an excellent lesson for personal development.
A major factor in my own success is because my parents enrolled me at a small school in a suburb of Los Angeles. At the time, most school districts would not have accommodated my disabilities, but the Las Virgines Unified School District took good care of me. I was...
When pursuing a goal, many people think challenges must be slain, like a dragon. That is simply not true. All challenges come in two broad types – external and internal – and it’s important to understand the dynamics of both and how best to deal with them.
Every year, I learn a little more about how my disability affects my life. It would be easy for me to believe that if I didn’t have this disability everything would be okay. However, that kind of narrative doesn’t help me understanding my challenges and is a recipe for stagnation.
I have been there before. It was tough for me to find a job after graduating college because even if I found employment, it was a logistical nightmare to get to work. Over the years since, I have hired many people and I always gauge whether the logistics of bringing that person on board makes financial sense for both of us. So, I cannot imagine what my old interviewers were thinking as they sat across from me, pondering what...
What’s the point of having an amazing life if it isn’t happy and satisfying? Advertising bombards us with images of what should make us happy, but too few of us take the time to define what happiness truly mean for ourselves. We just assume that happiness will one day arrive on our doorstep, like in a fairytale.
Our happiness is also constantly under attack from every angle. Little things like unexpected bills or rude people can pop up at inopportune times, clouding our happy feelings. Of course, human beings are in some ways wired for negativity which means if we’re not consciously creating happiness all the time, we can end up successful but unsatisfied. It’s a fine balance. Just as there are plenty of joyless millionaires, there are those who own nothing but always seem to be smiling.
While the key to an amazing life is aspiration, it is important to balance ambition with contentment. While my disability robbed me of some of life’s joys, I am still a...
Feedback is crucial to achieving amazing success and there is an art to giving and receiving feedback. While feedback often has a negative association, some people are naturals at offering feedback and don’t seem to mind when it comes their way.
But it’s an odd person who actually enjoys feedback. More often, people react like they are under attack or consider honest criticism to be just nitpicking or nagging. But good feedback can drastically improve the other person’s performance and help both parties accomplish mutually beneficial goals.
Below are some helpful tips on the art of giving natural feedback.
Set Expectations Early
Every new relationship is like a dance with both parties gently testing the boundaries and expectations. Each is looking for subtle indicators about whether the other party values being on time, if they will overlook white lies or what kind of language is acceptable. If expectations are not set early, the relationship can be muddled....
Searching for good feedback is a key part of success. Every athlete depends on a coach’s advice and CEOs always need the input of a board of directors before making a big decision. Feedback systems are everywhere, so why are they rarely discussed?
Top performers know that setting up a personal feedback system will help to hone their decisions, habits, routines and processes. Improving each of these factors will have an enormous impact on their success. Of course, “going it alone” is highly prized in our modern culture. But feedback can exist in harmony with individuality. However, getting the right feedback from the right people at the right time is an art.
The reason people are shy about the topic of feedback is that humans don’t really like change. Rather than grow, we prefer the comfort of our status-quo. We sense that every piece of feedback – solicited or unsolicited – will only mean more tough work at best and giving up something we love at...
While there’s still a lot of work to do, it looks like we will all emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic stronger than we went in. Everyone seems excited to get back to normal.
Unfortunately, the restrictions tied people down for long periods and created plenty of pent-up energy – and not all of it good. The media is showing video of unruly sports fans. Some folks on airplanes are also acting like fools by assaulting flight attendants (how can you get mad at the person handing out soda and snacks?). Airlines are now toying with the idea of banning alcohol service on flights until the restless post-pandemic energy dissipates.
For me, these reactions stem from a lack of perspective. Instead of looking at what was taken from us by Covid-19, we should look for what we will get back once it passes.
Our collective ways of life were attacked. We were all scared and dealt with a lot of uncertainty. But instead of looking at the pandemic as a tragedy, think about what was avoided...
Why does reaching a goal so often leave us with a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction, as if it wasn’t enough? It seems far too easy to nitpick the amazing success we achieve.
There’s a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the human brain is wired for negativity because it wants to keep us safe from threats and help us avoid being eaten by predators. That’s a good thing, but this neurological wiring has not evolved much since the caveman days. So, when the car in front cuts us off, a waiter acts in a rude way or we are forced to deal with the daily tribulations of digital life, our brains think we are being chased by wild bears and react defensively.
The second reason is that there is no such thing as the perfect experience. Every positive comes with a downside. My favorite place in the whole world is Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. However, to get there requires an hour and a half drive to the airport, a three-hour wait in the terminal, then a five-hour...
Achieving success is a bit like calibrating a constantly evolving machine. This machine is the complexities of human behavior and understanding them can drastically improve your chances of success. If you want to do more, go with the flow rather than against it. After all, it’s much easier to swim downstream than struggle upstream.
Let’s explore some of these natural tendencies.
Habits are so much more than just repeated actions. That’s only the start. Habits are the brain’s way of conserving and optimizing energy brain energy so you can focus on critical tasks. Normally, the thousands of cues and special routines performed by our unconscious aren’t a problem – in fact, we rely on them to get us through the day. But forming a new habit is more about your environment than the diminishing resources of discipline or willpower. For instance, if you switch the silverware in your kitchen even one drawer over, you will almost...