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What Were You Thinking 3 Months Ago?

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” – John Green

The future always is pleasing and attractive. Full of promise for better. However when we arrive there it’s something all too common. Challenges, frustrations and problems still abound.

We worked for that promotion believing it would bring contentment and financial gratification. We pushed for to acquire that business loan hoping to be free from a 9 to 5 that stressed us out.

It never truly works out exactly how we pictured it to be. That’s because the future tends to always be perfect without fault. And we come to realize the present is imperfect and has many flaws. Which then leads us on another pursuit for perfection.

The cure: gratitude. Only gratitude for the present will end this cycle. It involves continually taking your mind back to when you pictured the future you longed for and being aware that you’re in that place today.

In other words gratitude can be summed up by asking yourself: What were you thinking about 3 months ago?

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Embrace Failure Over and Over

Super heroes from comics and movies always seen invincible. It’s pretty obvious how the story will end every time. They will win.

But we watch anyway to catch those small moments when they’re on the ropes and at risk of losing it all to a villain who has no business being in the ‘lead’.

Beyond there brilliance, they fail. Over and over in every story. It’s significant because what they learn from the experience of failing is the very thing that sets up the dramatic ending.

How we react to our own failure will decide what our continued success, or lack there of, will look like.

When launching a business or getting a promotion to a new role, don’t be surprised when failure revisits time and time again. Begin to appreciate failure as a key part of personal and professional growth.

Failure is unavoidable on the road to success.

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Match the Right Intensity

If you’ve ever played organized sports at any level, you would have experienced your coach telling you to “match the intensity level” of your opponent. If they played hard in the trenches, you would need to do the same. If they trashed talked after a play, you’d trash talk back showing you aren’t intimidated.

Physical displays of domineering fortitude are commonplace in the athletic field of play and often provide a physiological advantage against your adversaries.

The same can’t be said in the professional workplace or when engaging in entrepreneurship leadership.

Contrary to popular opinion, matching the intensity from a physical or vocal standpoint in the boardroom is more of a sign of insecurity than it is a display of strength.

Stirring you passions away from an emotional reaction, and into making a strategic impact should be the focus. A well developed strategy that highlights the disadvantages or weaknesses of other suggested options (fact based of course) is the best way to match the intensity of your professional opposition.

In other worlds, intensity in the the workplace is more about brains than brawn.

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Shift Your Energy from Mistakes to Skill Sharpening

50 presentations in 30 days.

That’s the test I’m currently facing in my new role. Repeating the same information to 50 different companies.

There’s bound to be mistakes made with that many meetings. Brain freezes, missed information and voice cracking like a teenager in puberty.

The good news? I can mess up on 6 of them and still have 44 chances to create excellence.

Don’t give mistakes the time of day they haven’t earned the right to get. Shift that same energy to sharpening your skills and kill the next one.

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What Real Hero Work Looks Like

We love superhero movies. There’s something about them that we can relate to. Good overcoming evil. The afflicted getting the justice they deserve. Peace being restored. All narratives that resonate with us. There’s no better example of this than last year’s box office hit Avengers Endgame.

Released in Spring 2019 to much fanfare, Endgame went on to shatter box office records becoming the highest-grossing movie in history on July 21, 2019, after 89 days of release. It was the climatic ending we all have been wait for after a decade of Marvel films building the anticipation.

One of my favourite scenes in the film comes near the end. Steve Rogers aka Captain America stands alone in the battle field as thousands of enemy soldiers, aircrafts and beasts begin to approach him. Looking at the overwhelming task in front of him, Captain America, in true Cap form, grits his teeth and tightens his iconic battle shield strap preparing to seemingly die honourably in battle.

We can sometimes allow the fantasy of superhero life clash with our reality and influence how we approach issues on a global scale. To clarify, we all have a small inherent desire to be ‘superheroes’ to save the world and the problems it’s currently facing.

At first glance this idea doesn’t seem problematic. Having a desire to do good is the essence of humanity. The problem lies in the area of how we scale what real effective problem solving looks like. One against a thousand is a romantic idea, but is often not practical or provides meaningful impact. As well the idea that the only means of achieving something significant is to approach large scale issues head on can lead to missing more optimal opportunities for progress.

If personal circumstances won’t allow you to participate in a march for racial inequality, donating to organizations that have been in this fight for sometime may prove to be more beneficial. Signing petitions, sharing legitimate information on social media and participating in progressive conversations aren’t massive undertakings but can lead to positive change.

Don’t be fooled by society’s perception of what real ‘hero’ work looks like. Simple, unassuming actions done consistently over a period of time build a stronger foundation to the ultimate goal. Recognition will be hard to come by, but is that the real reason we desire the hero status?

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Easily Upgrade Your Skills

I’m not the best negotiator, possibly because it’s never been a large part of the career roles I’ve occupied.

So when I accepted a new role at a company that involved negotiating at a larger capacity, I immediately looked for training and tools to improve that skill set.

I gained some insight on negotiating from a free online Ivy League course, but most of the knowledge I collected came from the popular book: Getting to Yes. Through Amazon i purchased the book for only $11 with shipping. $11 to upgrade a skill that led to me being more effective and valuable in my role.

We shouldn’t avoid situations or opportunities because we lack the appropriate skills. It’s those skills we need to spend the most time upgrading and practicing so we’re more effective in our businesses, workplaces and communities.

Most soft skills can be learned or improved with minimal financial commitment. We just need to be up to the task of seeing it though to the end.

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Record it, Always

A few years ago I read probably one of the most epic bedtime stories ever told to my four kids (their words, not mine). But it didn’t come from a book.

The story took several days to finish from beginning to end and it all came creatively from the top of my head at that very moment. The entire storyline, character development, scene depiction, plot twists and story action never existed previously on a written sheet of paper or electrical document.

To say the least my kids were entertained each night and often refer to the story of ‘Prince Edward’ as the best story I’ve ever read.

Too bad I no longer have any idea in what the story was about. I made the mistake of not recording or writing down any details of the story. Nothing. Not even jot notes. At the time I was just trying to get my kids to sleep not realizing a literary master piece was being created. Any chance of passing the story to my grandkids was now zero to none.

Ideas, thoughts, plans, names of new network contacts and where you met them, and yes stories you tell you kids – write/type/record it all down. Trust the capacity of your mobile phone note app over the capacity of your mind in remembering hundreds of hours of creative thought in detail.

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Share Your Ideas to the World

I’m here sitting on my living room couch thinking of what to write while watching the Sonic the Hedgehog movie with my young kids.

It dawned on me that the Sonic brand has been around for over 30 years. A single video game concept idea ended up creating dozens more video game titles, for major consoles and mobile phones, several TV series, books, toys, other random merchandise and now a full length feature film.

It’s not unusual to think that the original idea of Sonic was probably rejected a few times or shunned as being ridiculous. But once given the chance to flourish, the character Sonic has been infectious for at least 2 generations of fans.

If a blue, wise-talking, cartoon like hedgehog with blazing speed can evolve into multimillion dollar merchandise empire, then our ideas shouldn’t seem so outrageous that we’re afraid to share them with the world.

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Welcome Complex Ideas

The other day my teenage son was sitting in our living room with his portable gaming device, fully engaged in the application he was playing.

I glanced over to quickly see what was so fascinating. The game was a simulation of a surgical procedure. A voice would give critical directions on the next step and he, acting as a surgeon, had to execute it virtually with his gaming stylus on the screen.

I was intrigued and continued watching him for a few more minutes. The game seemed complex and the fact that he used his leisure time to partake in what looked to be a stressful endeavour was pleasantly surprising.

Sometimes we avoid complex ideas or tasks because they come cloaked in stress. Stress because we can’t figure it out or we don’t hold any pre-existing knowledge of what we’re about to do.

That stress is actually our fear of failure. But we should always run towards complex ideas because it’s the only way we achieve personal growth. When we stick to only concepts that are ‘black and white’ and don’t entertain layered or more complex ideas, not only will our personal growth suffer, but our impact on a much larger scale will be minimal.

That’s assuming you want to have a greater impact in the personal and professional circles you frequent in. If that’s not the case then you will continually avoid the difficult, uncomfortable and complex discussions/actions that we sometimes need to take.

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Restoring Creative Energy

Being creative is an unknown and sometimes an unspoken energy that arrives on us at moments notice and at other times is nowhere to be seen when we need it most.

When we experience creative motivation everything in life is good. Our person expression through our work or art can be felt my others. But what happens when we don’t ‘feel’ creative?

How do we re-energize that part of us so we can continue to manifest the ideas and thoughts that come to us?

Of course there’s no one answer to that question and that may be the point. Re-energizing creativity will take you through multiple trial and error activities. Reading books, watching documentaries, scrolling through social media and talking with friends.

Writing, drawing, building, updating your creative space at home will all lead to taking action for the creative staleness instead of wishing you were more creative.

So the simple answer to restoring creative energy is to just do something, anything. I know it sounds too simplistic but sometimes the simplest ideas and actions are the ones that drive the best results.

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