Friday, March 16, 2012

What there are no obstacles?

I have been writing about why obstacles are your friend.  That is all very well but have you ever noticed that when you do eventually reach your goal, it can all seem a little surreal?  It almost seems too good to be true and that there must be something you are missing?  Left feeling a little uneasy?

That has happened to me today, I have achieved something that I have been striving for over the past six months and now I have done it, it all seems a little too easy.  I can’t quite believe it.

Maybe I am addicted to the obstacles?  Relying on them as sign of progress is a great strategy but when you get to your goal, there are no more obstacles and that is the same feeling as you get if you are not moving forwards so how can you tell the difference?

Well if your goal was something you truly love then you should find it reasonably easy to know that you have reached it.  You should be very happy.  But what if you are not?  Does it mean you have not actually reached it?  Or maybe you have but you don’t like it?

So a few questions today to which I don’t have the answers to hand.  You might like to think about it yourself too.

I thought I would write this down and sleep on it (my standard technique when I am stuck).  I will then be able to resume this train of thought tomorrow with whole new pearls of wisdom!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why obstacles are your friend - Part 3

Hi. Back again with reason number three for why you should be liking those obstacles in your life. 

So far we have: because they are a sign of progress and because they get you fit enough to enjoy your goal when you get there. Reason number 3 is taken from the world of philosophy and the arguments for free speech. A leading voice in that world is Berlin who put forward a number of arguments. 

Some of the key areas relate to its purpose in helping you understand your point of view. If you were to follow a particular point of view without ever having the chance to discuss it with somebody of a different view, then these factors might arise: 

1. You might actually be wrong. If you are not willing to listen to the other view, you may not discover this and you would therefore miss out on the opportunity to correct your view. 

2. Being totally closed to any view other than your own amounts to dogmatism. Even if you are right, the other point of view may be correct too. You are missing out on the chance to weave the two views together in order to create an even better one. 

3. Even if the other view is wrong, you will at least have had the chance to argue the case for your point and that will have helped you understand and appreciate your own point of view even more than you did prior to the discussion. 

I personally think these are excellent arguments for free speech but, in line with the arguments, I am happy to discuss that! 

It has occurred to me though that maybe obstacles can be thought of in the same way. Let's map them to the points above and see how they play out. 

1. An obstacle may simply be an alternative goal to the one you thought you were headed for. This is perfectly feasible. You probably set your goal based on the options you thought you had available to you at the time. If you have hit an obstacle then by definition you must have now moved to a different place. Hitting the obstacle may just be a prompt to take stock of the situation and recheck that now you are where you are, there is not something better that you want even more. 

2. The obstacle may just present the opportunity to add to or enhance your existing goal and weave a whole new better one 

3. Hitting the obstacle gives you a chance to review your goal and the obstacle together in context. There is a strong chance that the obstacle is not the thing that you want. Hitting this close up gives you the chance to remind yourself why you have the goal that you do and to reinvigorate your efforts to head that way.

It seems to me this does fit the messages of the free speech world. So now we have three reasons to be happy when we hit an obstacle: 

- We will know we are moving forwards 

- We will know that we are getting fitter ready to enjoy our goal to the max when we get there 

- We will have been reminded why we have our goal and we might even have weaved in a whole new aspect to that goal. 

Sounds pretty good to me. The question is, will I have thought of a fourth reason by the time I write my next post?!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why obstacles are your friend - Part 2

So, a weekend off after some extensive DIY rendered me rather tired!

Reason 2 then for why Obstacles are your friend.

Think of an obstacle course, the ones that you might see if you were watching army training.  Now there is a set of obstacles!

But what are they training for?  A war does not involve climbing up nets or crawling through drain pipes. 

They are of course training to get fit.  Without the obstacles, they could still run the 800 yards or so that represents the distance of the obstacle course but if they did that, although there would be some fitness increase, it would not be as great as it is if they have the obstacles to get through.

The obstacles on the course are not just about making the person aerobically fitter either, the obstacles build up strengths and agilities that the person conducting the course would not have simply by running further and faster on the flat.  In other words, they provide added benefits.

So, even though the war itself is not about the obstacles, they do however make the soldiers fit to carry out the war.

Obstacles in life are just the same.  If you reached all of your end goals today, you probably would not know what to do with them, you would probably be overwhelmed. 

So obstacles in life build your capacity and your ability to be able to enjoy your goal once you finally reach it.  And, just like the soldiers, the obstacles do not necessary have to directly relate to the end goal itself, they are just life’s natural way of getting you fit to really enjoy those goals when you finally get there. They are literally your personal training course – and you don’t even have to pay a fee like you would have to if you went to the gym!

So there you have it, Obstacles are:

1.    Your sign that you are actually moving towards your goal
2.    Your personal trainer to get you nice and fit to really enjoy that goal once you get there.

I still have more reasons, but for those you will have to wait for tomorrow!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Why obstacles are your friend – Part 1

OK, I currently have three reasons why obstacles are your friend and so that is my theme for the next few days.

I have been talking about choosing what you love, and how to push on when you are feeling frustrated.  One of the reasons you might be feeling frustrated is that what seems like obstacles keep getting in your way.  For reason number 1 as to why this is a good thing, we have Topher Morrison to thank.  I have used this reason lots over the past few years to motivate myself to carry on with things.

Imagine you are at the start of a challenge or new direction in your life.  You can see your goal in the distance but there are a whole set of obstacles between you and your goal.  So, what is stopping you getting to your goal?

The obstacles right?    


There is absolutely nothing stopping you getting to your goal.  Why not?   Well because you haven’t started yet!

So, you make a start and pretty soon you reach one of the obstacles.  Now you can say that the obstacle it is stopping, or at least hindering, your progress.

The critical element here though is that you had to start progressing towards your goal before you started to reach the obstacles.  Given that most things you do for yourself in life are going to have at least few obstacles to get there, then the sooner you can get to them, the faster you are progressing towards your end goal.

Now provided you don’t turn away at that point you hit one, you can be happy that when you hit an obstacle, it is purely a sign that you are making progress.  When you can see them like that, they suddenly take on a whole new light and an indicator that you are heading towards your goal.  No obstacles probably means no progress.

So that is reason number 1 to rejoice when you hit an obstacle.  Reason number 2 tomorrow.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It May Not Be Quite As You Think

This week I have organised to leave my current job role and move back to a roll doing what I love.  When asked why I have done that, I replied that it was because I enjoy doing the original roll so much more than the current one.  “We all have that feeling” was the reply that I got, “you just have to accept it”.   “Only when you choose to” is the answer I gave.

That was all a couple of days ago but I have been musing on it ever since.  It is astonishing how easily we fall into the trap of thinking that we cannot have what we want and that we ‘have’ to do the things other people are expecting us to do – even when we think that we are consciously choosing to for our own reasons rather than theirs.  In my case I was jumping through all sorts of hoops to get a promotion which I was going for.  I knew that I wasn’t enjoying it but I thought that I was choosing to do these things because it was my choice to go for promotion and that I was free to choose to stop in the end.  So I thought I was doing it all for myself.

Eventually, it made me so miserable that I chose to stop going for the promotion and go back to the work that I love doing.  Suddenly a much sought after trip overseas is on the cards and now all the people who created those hoops have changed their minds and told me that the work I love doing is actually good enough to go for the promotion anyway!

So, one simple choice to do what I love has flipped my employment world on its head!

It got me wondering how many other aspects of my life that I might be letting this happen.  I suppose we only realise we don’t love something when it has gone so far as to make us miserable.  Mediocre is therefore likely to result in us keeping with the status quo and carry on with the same old mundane life we have grown used to.

The tragic irony though is that the life you love is easily possible.  When we choose what we love and announce this to those around us, they are going to see somebody with real conviction and somebody who knows where they are going.  When you have seen somebody like that, have you even attempted to stop them doing what they are doing?  I certainly haven’t.

So choosing what you love actually clears obstacles out of the way, certainly not all of them, but it does make for an easier ride and you can love it along the way too – and we all want that don’t we?

I guess the point of writing this was to make you think about each aspect of your life, be honest with yourself, your true self. And make sure that you are not just accepting the mundane without even realising it.  Make a list of each area of your life and work through them - anything that you are not absolutely raving abut deserves your attention.  You only need to make a change in one area and you will be surprised how the momentum builds up.  Sure, there will still be obstacles, I will talk about those tomorrow as they are your friend for a whole host of reasons.  But in the mean time, do the stock take, you don’t need to accept mundane.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blog, Blog, Blog The Pressure To Blog

ok so a few days in to starting my blog and suddenly I can't think what to write today. The pressure! But hang on, there is no pressure, it is ok to miss a day, nobody will shoot me and the world will not stop.

And there you have it, suddenly I know what to write about. I genuinely wrote the above without knowing what to write but when that happens to me during the day, I just start doing whatever I was trying to do and suddenly intuition takes over. And it just happened again.

In a world in which we are all trying to be creative and let our freedom of expression flow, I think the pressure of trying to get it flowing can often be the biggest blocker. And as that flow stops, the pressure mounts, the flow dries up further, the pressure mounts and a nice viscous circle then ensues.

I think pressure is probably the biggest blocker to most things that we want to do in life. Somebody said to me today that I am always so calm even under extreme pressure. I joked that I may be on the outside but if you could see into my head they might think differently. It's true, it is often exceedingly difficult to let the pressure flow over you. But it is possible to 'Keep Calm and Carry On'.

Now the NLP world would coach you on visioning the end result like you have already done it, speaking to yourself only in words that move you towards your goal rather than away from failure and many other techniques. it works but it is not easy. What if there were a technique that allowed you to acknowledge the pressure and succeed in spite of it? A bit like the book 'Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway'.

I think there is a different way. Unlike the famous phrase, it is not necessary to 'keep calm', it is only necessary to 'carry on'.

Written like that, it seems a bit obvious, if you carry on, then of course you will get to wherever it is you are 'carrying on' to. So why don't we do this? Why do we stop and get stressed?

Well when we are stressed we start to think of failure. And that leads to more stress. A different approach may well be to carry on regardless and completely ignore those feelings of impending doom. But it's not so easy is it?

Try this....

First think of the most negative person you know. It is ok to imagine somebody and make them even more negative than they really are.

Now think of a time that you were in a nice positive mood and were trying to discuss a topic with them. They were so negative about it that you could see how crazy they were being and in fact they were so crazy, they made you laugh. Again, it is ok to make this up in your head.

Now think of them being like that for every issue in their or your life. So crazy in fact that every time they speak you think 'there they go again'. A bit like Victor Meldrew from the TV show 'One Foot In The Grave'.

Now make this image really clear in your mind so that you can remember it whenever you want to.

Now, the next time you realise you are stuck, stressed and beating yourself up, just step back from your thoughts and say to yourself 'there he goes again' and imagine yourself as the person you visualised earlier.

Laugh about it (you may get some weird looks) and then just get on with what you were doing without even considering what the outcome will be.

Because you have carried on, the stress subsides, the flow restarts and off you go. It really doesn't matter if what you have produced by carrying on is not much good, it will soon become good and the you can go back and fix or change it.

i know this sounds weird but it works for me.

Alternatively, I regularly say to people when I don't know how to do something that it's fine, I will do by the time I wake up in the morning. It takes the pressure of the moment away and normally I know before the morning. i have always known by the morning So, if you are really stuck, try that. I know it sounds crazy but it certainly works for me. All you need to do is be open minded enough to accept that it might work - you don't even need to think or know that it definitely will. Just go to sleep expecting to know the answer when you wake up.

Go on, give it a go!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today I am discussing principles.  It has occurred to me that principles might be a trick of your ego to bypass any opportunity to consider a decision from the point of view of your true self.

PPPPP?  If you are a project manager and reading this you will no doubt be familiar with the 5 P’s of Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

But what about Poor Principles Produce Poor Patterns?  Or equally bad, Poor Patterns Produce Poor Principles?   A real chicken and egg situation.

What has occurred to me is that when a decision comes up that plays to a principle you carry around with you, you are going to make that decision without really thinking about it.  I know I do.  I am even proud of the fact that I stick to my principles no matter what.  

But what if that principle is a product of your ego?  You may be using really poor principles that are causing repeating poor patterns.  Or, bad things that have happened in your life my be creating yet more principles that do not serve you.  A bit of a vicious circle.  

What is worse is that you are likely going to act on these principles without giving them much thought.  So you might consider them evil tools of your ego which bypass your true self's feelings and the chance that they might otherwise have had to influence you. 

As my partner pointed out to me, it is of course possible to use some of the techniques I discussed recently to evaluate a principle and assess if it is one that is coming from your heart or one that is coming from your ego.  Having done that, you can choose to ditch the ones which are ego based.  But, and this is a big but, is that enough?

Most principles and your adherence to them is a subjective matter.  My ‘I always act with integrity’ may mean something very different to yours.  So, even if your principle is from the heart, your ego can still disabuse your heart of having its say when it comes to the judgement call.  It can trick you by coming up with an ego based decision and claim that it is based upon a heart based principle.  Oh dear!

So, where are you now on the concept of principles?

I am now thinking that I need to make sure that for every decision I make, I need to make sure that my true self has had its say, even if the decision looks like it is based on an obvious principle.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Its all just a little piece of history repeating

My intuition is telling me to leave the negotiation theme where it is for a while.  I am feeling the need to move on to the topic of resistance.  I did however think it would be worth just summarising where I have got to over the last few days with a few key pointers – especially since just writing this blog has moved my thinking on too.  

Number 1 – the most important.  Make sure that when you are making a decision in your life that you have brought you true self to the game and that you are not running on ego.

Number 2 - Being in two minds is a good thing as a starting point.  It shows you have brought your true self to the negotiation.

Number 3 – With your true self and your ego in play you can use negotiation techniques to help resolve the tension between the two and do so in a way that tips the balance in favour of your true self.

Number 4 – Negotiation results stick best when both parties have a win, in other words you are looking for a win win situation.  You can use Negotiation Aikido techniques to get your otherwise blocking ego to start helping the dreams of your true self become true.

Number 5 – Your happiness is much more concerned with overall concepts than specific details.  You know when it feels right and ignore the details.  Abstraction is your friend.  Use questions beginning with what, for example ‘what am I trying to achieve?’, to take out the details and you will reach a much clearer decision point.  Avoid using why.

Number 6 – To conduct a successful negotiation between your ego and your true self depends on being able to hold both points of view in your head at the same time.  You can help achieve this by imaging the two points of view as two figurines, one in each hand and conducting the negotiation as an observing facilitator.  Do this and you will know where your heart lies.

That’s it.  I’m off to dream up a whole new stream if wisdom.  Until tomorrow.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

But I'm in two minds

We are conditioned in life to think that being in two minds is a bad thing, that it is indecisive and that it makes it difficult to make a decision.

I say different, I say being in two minds is an excellent thing!

I have been writing this week about how we might employ negotiation techniques to resolve the differences between our true self and our ego in order to tip the balance in favour of our true selves.

To do that though, it absolutely requires that you can hold both points of view in your head at the same time - your true self's and your ego's. Literally to be in two minds!  If you cannot see both views then how can you be sure which mindset you are running your life to?

So if you are in two minds, then celebrate!

If you have reached this happy state but it is not feeling like a happy state then I genuinely think that some of the negotiation techniques I have discussed could help you. Give them a try - they work for me!

But what if you are not of two minds?  What if you can only see one side of the argument?  That means you are going to have to face up to the dilemma that you can't be sure which mind you are in, your ego's or your true self's.  Now maybe you feel you don't need to, maybe whatever choice you are making right now is making you happy - but are you really sure?  Are you sure that you are not being duped by your ego? 

The opposite scenario is sometimes clearer, if you are feeling pretty crappy about yourself then you probably are stuck in your ego. Imagine the relief if you could step back from that and hold a whole different point of view where you can see that things are not quite as your ego would have you believe.

Whichever way round it is for you, I hope you can see the argument for having both views in your head.

So how to get there if you are struggling.  I find this approach which I got from a whole different subject area works for me ....

Whichever frame you are starting from, happy or sad makes no difference - because remember that neither is an indicator of true self or ego.  Hold out your two hands in front of you palm up and open.

Now imagine that the decision you are wrestling with and your current single point of view is sitting as a little figurine on the palm of one of you hands.

Now imagine a different figure sitting on the other hand but one which has the totally opposite point of view to the one you feel attached to.

Now remember that neither of these two figures are you,  so whatever advice you are about to give them is nothing to do with you.

Next, go to a place in your heart and give your advice to the two figurines. Remember my negotiation theme, the job is to give a win win to each of the figurines, not just to one. So dispense your advice accordingly. If you think you cant find a win win, then have a read of my blogs for the past few days, it might help.

By the time you have done this, it will be very clear to you what your true self wants, your true self will be hugely inclined towards one of the figurines.  That’s the one to go for.  And you will have done it without even having to consider yourself or your ego. Job Done.

Try it!