How To Escape the Trap of Survival Mode

If you learn this one simple truth, you will move from Survival mode to “Thrival” mode. Survival mode will be something in your past, not your present or your future. You can finally start living your life the way you’ve always wanted but just didn’t have the tools to change. The secret to changing from Survival mode to “Thrival” mode is found in understanding your brain and the incredible power of small decisions. 

What Is Survival Mode?

For most of my life I’ve lived in survival mode and I never understood why. I felt like most people were against me and not for me. The only time they were for me is when they wanted something from me. And inevitably, someone would screw me over and my greatest fears would be confirmed. Then, the cycle would repeat itself.

Relationships weren’t the only areas where survival mode flourished. I was in survival mode in my job, with investments, and with my wife and children. I feared there wouldn’t be enough money to pay the bills, not enough time to spend together, at the end of the day I didn’t do enough to get my work done. There was never enough. I was always short-changed. In fact, if I was honest, I felt like I wasn’t enough and might never be.

BUT WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING?!

I finally discovered the truth: Our brains aren’t built to help us be happy or fulfilled, they are built to help us SURVIVE. That skill may work great for a hunter-gatherer, but it wasn’t helping me in the here and now.

The Two Parts of Your Brain

There are two parts to your brain: First, is the flight or fight response. The second is the part of the brain which understands how to help you THRIVE. It happens when you feel love, joy, connection, inspiration, hope, peace, or wonder.

No one enjoys feeling angry, stressed, frustrated, self-pity, fear, and a host of other negative emotions. But we’ve all learned to live with them. In fact, we’ve lived with them so long that when negativity isn’t a part of our lives, we feel like something is wrong. So, we go right back into flight or flight mode and the cycle continues creating more fear, stress, and anxiety.

Whenever we feel any kind of pain or emotional distress – whether it’s self-pity, for example, or guilt, or shame – we’re thrown, operationally, into a state of survival mode according to a Psychology Today article.

“Most people live this way since it’s the path of least resistance. They make unconscious decisions, based on habit and conditioning, and are at the mercy of their own minds. They assume that it’s just an inevitable part of life to get frustrated, stressed, sad, and angry—in other words, to live in a suffering state.” – Tony Robbins

So how do we CHANGE?

It’s time to kick Survival Mode out of 0ur lives and it comes down to taking control and making 4 different decisions:

  1. Commit that you will choose to be happy no matter what happens to you. This means that no matter the circumstance, you will choose to find the good in it. You will change your focus from fear and suffering to hope and prosperity. This means you will commit to enjoying life even when things don’t go your way. You have to become a master of spinning negativity into positivity.
  1. Fill your life with POSITIVITY not negativity. This has been a huge game changer for me. Did you know that 80% of the information you take in everyday is negative? This fuels the survival mode of your brain. It tells you there is a threat around every corner. There’s suspicion in every relationship and conspiracy in every decision you don’t like. DON’T GIVE NEGATIVITY POWER. Make a commitment to not let any negativity into your brain. Inevitably some will sneak in, but being vigilant and focused on positivity with immediately change how you feel and how you see the world.
  1. Make a MASSIVE investment in yourself. Start living a proactive life focused on being happy, positive, and the best version of yourself. Buy motivating books, enroll in an inspiring leadership course, get into a mastermind group. Set your focus on learning and growing in the areas that help you move to a place of health. Don’t settle for being a reactive, passive, negative human being. You have every resource within yourself to begin making change now.
  1. Remove yourself from toxic people and toxic environments. Sometimes we just need to learn how to put an end to things in our life that need to die. Reduce or eliminate your time from people that make you feel worse when you’re around them. If your stuck in a rut, you may need to make a massive change. Move across town, change the city you live in, or find different social circles.

Survival mode is only a temporary way of life. You arrived there because of specific decisions you have made that got you there and kept you there.

Thrival mode is about creating a thriving lifestyle filled with the positive things you want in life. They don’t come by accident, they come by intentions. As you begin to implement these simple changes, life moves out of the black and white into a beautiful explosion of color that changes who you are and what you see.

“Drop all the doubt, worry, stress, and anxiety that has been causing you to lose sleep at night. Decide to life your life looking forward, no backwards.” ~ Les Brown

How 2017 Can Be the Greatest Year of Your Life

The thrill of the Holidays are over. New Years resolutions have come and gone. The lure of the “new” is beginning to fade. You’re already failing in your new year commitments and 2017 isn’t turning out like you hoped. Is there anything you can do to change that really works? I have good news for you – the answer is an absolute, YES! This is how to make 2017 the greatest year of your life. Man posing in front of beautiful sunrise by the medieval house in rural countryside of Slovenia

I have failed at resolutions and goal-setting so many times it hurts. In fact, 92% of people who set goals do not achieve them. So don’t feel too bad.

But after years of studying human performance and personal change, I’ve finally found what works and it’s simple for you to implement.

3 Simple Things to Create Change in 2017

  1. You Must Have a Compelling Vision.

Many people think that a dream or a goal is good enough to accomplish what they want. But if that’s all you do, you will likely fail like the 92%. It’s not strong enough to keep you focused.

To help you succeed like the top 8%, you must have a vision. A vision is a compelling picture of the future. It’s what you will do, who you will be and what must happen in your life. It’s not up for negotiation. For a deeper dive on how to create a vision statement, read this article on How to Discover Your Vision.

People fail because they aren’t clear enough with their personal vision. If you are vague regarding your vision, everything else in your life will seem vague. The clearer your vision is, the greater the opportunity to accomplish it.

If you don’t believe you have the ability to take responsibility and create the world you want to live in, the world will create you in its image. A vision helps you be the victor of change not the victim.

2. Systems not Goals

Goals are important, but alone, they fail 92% of the time.

A goal is, “I want to run a marathon.” The system is to run 1 mile 5x a week the first week, 2 miles 5x the second week, 4 miles 5x the third week etc. You build the system to achieve your goal.  (more…)

How To Discover Your Vision

Clarifying your vision is one of the most powerful ways to bring immediate change to your life. But many people struggle to discover their vision. Follow this simple roadmap and you will be on your way to creating and living a vision focused on the most important things to you on the planet. photo_beauty_sky_parachute

When you live by your vision, everything changes. But without a vision, you’ll be stuck in the mire of boredom and mediocrity. Hope will dwindle, work will be monotonous, and relationships will be shallow. Don’t let that happen to you.

Creating Vision – Where to Start

The reason so few people live out of their vision is because they don’t know where to start. Vision begins with dreaming. Not ‘pie in the sky’ dreaming like, “I want 100 Ferrari’s and 10 vacation houses.” Things do nothing to motivate people to live their lives.

A real dream is about living for something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s your life’s purpose, your mission, the reason you were created. How are you going to change the world? What kind of legacy will you leave? What impact do you want to make in the lives of others?

I’m also a firm believer that discovering, and living your vision is a Spiritual Experience. What do I mean? There is something very special hidden inside your vision and when you discover this treasure, it changes you forever. That treasure is the reason you were created and put on this earth.

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” – Jonathan Swift

All Your Life You’ve Been Fighting Yourself

Here’s a scary reality: when you are not clear on your vision you are living against yourself. You’re living in opposition to who you really are and what you’re supposed to be doing with your one and only amazing life! (more…)

Anyone Can be a Visionary

It’s the time of year where everyone begins to think about what they want to accomplish in 2017. Better health, more finances, dream jobs, exquisite vacations, and spending meaningful time with family. But we live in a world where most people who think about a better 2017 won’t be able to accomplish what they desire. One of the main reasons for failing is because they don’t see themselves as visionaries. I have wonderful news for you, ANYONE CAN BE A VISIONARY and living that truth is the first step in the direction your success. photo_vision_eye

“The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

 

When you think of a visionary what comes to mind? Most people think of CEO’s who lead great companies or iconic leaders and inventors such as George Washington, Steve Jobs, or Anthony Robbins. When we put these kinds of people on pedestals as visionaries, then it’s impossible to see ourselves in that category.

The truth is we’ve all been visionaries in our lives. Think of a time when you had “an idea” about something you dreamed about but it didn’t exist. Maybe it was a degree, a career, a family, a home, a vacation or an article you want to write. And now that dream has become a reality. See, you are a visionary! You just need to start seeing yourself as one. The key to great vision is seeing something we desire in the future and to start making plans for it to become a reality. We have all done it and we can do it again.

One of my favorite visionaries is Thomas Edison. He saw what others didn’t see and had a vision that was so grandiose, others thought he was crazy. Who dreams about creating light out of darkness when light doesn’t exist?! It made no difference to him what others thought. There was an internal compass in his soul that burned in the direction of his vision. He saw the vision and he did small things everyday until that vision became a reality. This is why I wrote an article about the power of being an internally directed person versus and externally driven one. An internally directed person is a visionary and they and 10x more successful in life. (more…)

1% Change Proves that Results are about Thinking Small not Big

 

Leadership gurus say to live the kind of life you’ve always dreamed about, you have to make massive changes. THAT’S JUST NOT TRUE. The best way to make personal improvement is to create small wins, or 1% marginal gains. Finding tiny improvement in several areas of your life will yield big results that lead to sustained change and science proves it. photo_dandelion_small_wins

The first time I heard about 1% incremental change was the story about Sir David Brailsford and the British Cycling Team. The team couldn’t produce a rider able to win the Tour De France in its entire history. Brailsford felt that by improving small areas by 1%, Team Sky could produce a British cycler who could win the Tour de France in 5 years. He was wrong. In only 2 ½ years Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012 and British riders have won the completion 3 times in the last 4 years. They’ve also accumulated a total of 16 gold medals in the last 2 Olympics.

How Did They Do It?

They made 1% improvements in areas you would think of such as nutrition, aerodynamics of the bike, and comfort of the seat. But what’s incredible about this story is that Brailsford produced 1% gains in areas others didn’t think about. Through research they found a pillow that provided 1% better sleep and traveled with it. They discovered the correct sleeping posture which produced another 1% sleeping gain. Then, someone found a massage gel that worked 1% more effectively, and a sanitizer that was 1% better at killing bacteria and preventing sickness. When you take all of these 1% gains and add them up, they deliver maximized benefits.

The simple idea of marginal gains is this: by making small incremental changes in your life, you can benefit from huge gains over time. The people who have discovered this hidden truth and applied it, are some of the most successful people in the world. You can be too.

The reason most people fail at achieving their goals is because they aren’t able to be consistent over time. They start with big plans and giant goals but they give up way too soon. This is why health clubs are filled with people in January and empty in March.

I learned an incredible truth from Robin Sharma, “Intention is the mother of mastery.” What you do everyday is more important than what you do once a month or once a year. Over time, you experience huge benefits and the compound effect begins to reward you.

Take a look at what you do everyday. Your actions dictate what is most important to you. Sure, you may say that you want to get into shape but when it comes right down to it, the bed is more comfortable than the run and the unhealthy food tastes better than the salad. What you do today is simply your life in miniature. Change your daily decisions and you will change your life.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn

This is exactly why I have created a habit called, “Begin Well, End Well.” What you do the first 5 minutes of the day and the last 5 minutes of the day can create gigantic gains in your life when you stay consistent. Creating the kind of life you desire is a gradual process of improvement rather than knee-jerk, radical changes.

Creating 1% Marginal Gains Immediately

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Never, Ever Settle for Normal. Unless You’re Driftwood.

Can I encourage you to never do something? Don’t make peace with the status quo. Ever. And never settle for normal. It will be the death of you and everything you care about. Normal is what everyone wants you to do. Normal is what society forces us to do. Your life is worth extraordinary value, so live that way. Be wild. Do something crazy that creates amazing experiences and builds memories that last a lifetime. You’re unique, you’re gifted, and you may not be able to walk on water but it’s a lot more fun swimming in the Mediterranean than looking at pictures of it. (By the way – that picture is me jumping into the Mediterranean!)img_2891

You are a wonder of creation. Scientists say the very chances of you even existing are about one in 400 trillion. This means that there is no one like you. You are incredibly unique with gifts, talents, and answers for the people on this planet that only you can deliver. You cannot afford to be stuck in a rut.

“Each human being is unique, each with their own qualities, instincts, forms of pleasure, and desire for adventure. However, society always imposes on us a collective ways of behaving, and people never stop to wonder why they should behave like that. They just accept it, the way typists accepted the fact that the QWERTY keyboard was the best possible one. Have you ever met anyone is your entire life who asked why the hands of a clock should go in one particular direction and not the other?” ~ Paulo Cuelho

Deep Change vs. Slow Death

Leadership expert and author Robert Quinn says that we are in one of two places in life, the place of deep change or slow death. We are either changing or shriveling up on the inside.

This is in agreement with the 2nd law of thermodynamics which states that all things lead to entropy – decay and disorder. It’s a natural system. It’s really easy to get stuck. Stuck in our comfort zones, habits, normalcy, negativity and routine. We are either changing or dying, growing or decaying. It takes a strong, willful, and soulful choice to go against the flow and take a leap of faith into the land of the unknown. A phrase I love to describe this is, “Walking naked into the land of uncertainty.” Don’t worry, it’s not literal. Keep your clothes on. 🙂

Moving Our Family to Europe

I’ll preface this by saying that you probably don’t need to move, but you do need to change and do something different. Maybe something really big and completely out of the box. Get out of your comfort zone. Take risk, not simply for the sake of risk but out of the yearning to truly live for what matters most to you.

For my family that meant moving overseas, learning a new language and building an adventurous life filled with a calling, and the things and people we love. We lived in a wonderful community at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The beauty was indescribable and the weather was my favorite of any place in the world. We were there for 14 years. So many incredible friends and experiences that were simply magical. (more…)

You’re Dying on the Inside Because You Don’t Live out of a Personal Vision

If you don’t have a personal vision, You’re on the Path of Slow Death. Statistics show that less than 3% of people live out of any kind of person vision. This is a modern day catastrophe. If you are part of the 97% not living out of your vision, not only are you doing yourself a disservice, you are cheating those of us who need you to live in the fullness of your passions, talents and energies. It’s time to grow up, take responsibility and start living your visions now.photo_vision_binoculars-copy

The sad philosophy of a visionless life is: Ready…Fire…Aim. There is no target to aim for. Visionless people aren’t sure where they are going so any old target will do. This is the modern day dilemma.

WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIVE OUT OF A PERSONAL VISION?

Fear, lack of knowledge and distraction are all reasons at the top of the list to why visions don’t exist in our lives. They are real and we need to address them, but under no circumstance can we make peace with these excuses and live in any form of mediocrity.

#1 Fear. Fear is the great pretender. It pretends to keep us safe and out of harms way but it does the exact opposite. It causes us to cower when we are uncertain of our path. Worst of all, many times it keeps us from taking any risk whatsoever and so often the risk we need to take propels us into the life we’ve always desired.

#2 Lack of knowledge – Most of us don’t know how to find our vision, we’ve never been taught. We’ve gone along with the crowd and tried to play it safe. We get an hourly job, pay the bills, and hope something better comes along. People don’t know how to live out of vision because they don’t know their vision. They’ve never taken the time to go deep inside and uncover their buried treasure. It’s time to invest in yourself. Do whatever it takes to get your vision out from the inside. It might be difficult, birthing a new baby is rarely easy, but it’s the most beautiful thing to show the world when the process is over.

#3 Distraction – we are the “Generation of Distraction.” The latest research proves that on average, we are exposed to 63,000 words per day, we are distracted every 11 minutes, and we check our smartphones 110 times a day. When we are this disconnected, there is no way we can fulfill our dreams and live out any kind of vision. That’s a waste of an amazing life.

We are hardwired on a neurological level to come fully alive once we start living out of our visions and passions. What’s a cause so important to you that it keeps you up at night? What have you always longed to do that could make a huge impact in the lives of others? What kind of life would make you feel incredible fulfilled and satisfied? Once you are compelled by your visions at an emotional level, nothing will stop you from seeing those visions come to pass.

Think of some of your greatest heroes, people like Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Jesus, or Steve Jobs. Every single one of them had one thing in common: they were “cause-fueled.” They believed in something so compelling to them, they gave everything in their life to see if fulfilled. They lived out of a personal, compelling vision. When your “WHY” is big enough, the “how’s” in your life will line up.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

How Can I Live Out of My Personal Vision?

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A Life Filled with Purpose and Meaning Come from these 3 Things

 

How do we build lives of purpose and meaning? You and I have one life to live. There are no mulligans, do overs, or rewinds. Yesterday is gone and the only things that matter are in front of us. But most people leave their lives completely up to chance. They know very little about the most important principles that will help them live a purposeful, fulfilling life.

We don’t mean to live this way. We just don’t know what else to do. Sadly, I have lived this way for years. We don’t know how to be intentional about our lives and we don’t know what to focus on. Our default is a life ‘up for grabs’ to the highest bidder. So what’s the highest bidder? photo_lighthouse copy

Pain, busyness, and reactive living.

For some, just the thought of stopping to take an honest look is painful. We are disappointed with ourselves and we don’t like what we see. It reminds us of wasted time. Time we wanted to spend with those we love most, time doing the things that were in our heart but we neglected. We all get trapped in the disappointment of past failures and choose the path of avoidance. It’s just easier.

Our lives are filled with constant activity. We are overwhelmed by the swirl of must do’s, schedules, and phone calls. Our brains feel completely scrambled so we ignore our deeper needs and hope that somehow, they will just work themselves out.

The urgent clouds our mind so we run to our distractions.

We’ve all been there so don’t lose hope. I have GREAT NEWS for you. All of this has a remedy. Choosing to make a shift in 3 key areas will have profound impact in your life. You can a person that no longer leaves their life to chance and live for the moments and activities that define what is most important.

Missing first steps

Get this clearly in your mind: every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. The real question is, “Are you saying yes to what matters most?” Pain and regret come from saying yes to what doesn’t matter.

I will make you this promise: YOUR BEST IS YET TO COME. So let’s start making the changes that create the kind of life you really want to live. The first thing you have to focus on are your values.

Let me help you as much as I can in a blog post. When I do one on one coaching with clients, I take them through this process I’m about to share a with you. (more…)

Who You Are Is More Important than What You Do

 

Who are you? Many of us struggle to answer that simple question. The immediate response most give is to describe their job. “I’m an accountant,” “I work in the sales division of my company,” “I am a coach.” But that’s not the question. What we do is not who we are and it’s normal for people to get the two confused.

It takes time and commitment to do the deep work of really knowing who we are.

To become someone others believe in and in order to live with integrity, you must know the deeply held beliefs that drive you. What are the values, ideals and standards that make up the essence of who you are inside? When these things become clear, you will have the courage to live them. photo_man_suitandtie copy

Performance Driven vs. Principle Driven

A person who is performance driven is focused on results. It’s all about what they do and what they accomplish. How well they do on a task speaks to them about their value. For example, If I excel on a project (or for kids, if I excel at sports, school, music etc.), then everyone loves me and I get all kinds of positive attention. If I fail, or don’t do well, then it seems like others don’t value me as much. The internal message is that I am only as good as how I perform. People only care about me when I’m a winner so I become addicted to activity.

People in this category typically complain that their lives are out of balance, they don’t have time for anything and they are burned out. Their relationships are shallow and fractured. There is little margin for personal reflection and spiritual awareness and they cope by withdrawing or staying excessively busy and distracted. I know this type of person well because this is my propensity and it’s exactly where I found myself a few years ago. It was miserable.

I learned to value myself by results and performance as a child. Many of the messages we’ve come to believe get handed down to us from our childhood. Whether our caretakers knew it or not, they taught us how to value ourselves and those internal messages took deep root.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Plato

The truth is that we are all driven by results on some level. But how results affect a person who is centered on their principles (who I am) is much different. Results are simply what they do, it doesn’t define who they are.

When you are principle centered you have a deep sense of gratitude about your life and your gifts. Therefore you steward those gifts in the best way you can and you see them through your values (which you can learn more about here.) They shape you they don’t define you. Who you are is more important than what you do.
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Stop Short Changing Yourself and Create a Meaningful Life

5 things to do that make life beautiful

I’m wondering if you’re like many people I speak with who don’t have the kind of life they really want? What does it take to create a meaningful life? How do you focus on doing things that are important and meaningful to you?

According to a recent survey, only 33% of Americans feel happy, content and satisfied. I’m sure results are similar in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.

photo_littleboy_beach copy

People feel trapped inside jobs they don’t like, too much time is spent on things they don’t care about, they aren’t living for what matters most, and they have almost lost hope that it will ever be any different. In short, they’ve thrown in the towel and have come to terms with being a ‘spoke in the wheel.’

Have you ever felt this way? First, I understand those thoughts can seem very real. But they are what I call, “victim speak.” Saying these kinds of words over and over is what gives negativity power in your life and makes you feel discouraged and hopeless. Victim speak occurs whenever you believe that someone or something is responsible for your unhappy state of affairs. For example, “I’m stuck in this awful job because I can’t get anyone else to hire me,” or, “I can never get ahead because I can barely bring in enough money to pay my bills,” “I can’t succeed because of the bad economy.”

There’s only 1 way to defeat this kind of negativity. Take your power back! Whenever you allow these thoughts into your mind, you give them power over your life and circumstances. Power to control what you think and who you are becoming. Taking your power back is acknowledging that although you may feel this way now, your have the power to reject those statements and do something IN THE PRESENT to create a more meaningful life. The kind of life that matters most to you.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from the most successful people I know on how to create change NOW and have more meaning in your life:

(1) Cast a HUGE vision for your life and do 1 thing everyday that gets you closer to it. (more…)