How to Double Your Success in Everything

 

How would you like to double the quality of what you write? Or double the depth of your personal relationships? How about doubling your overall success? You can double the success of anything you want by using this technique proven by neuroscience. It’s called Positive Intention.

I am all about getting a higher return on anything I can in life. My time, my investments, my kids activities, or my experiences. Why do something with half the results? The sad fact is many people choose to live this way. They don’t take the time to optimize. If they did, their results would outperform the best Wall Street stocks. photo_success_redrocks copy

If you are a network marketer, a business person, an athlete, a speaker, a mom who is CEO of the house, or most anybody who is trying to improve, embrace this technique with everything you have because it will change your life. `

 It’s called “Mind’s Eye Rehearsal,” which is about using your mind to capitalize on the strengths of past events in your life. The idea is that if you have really excelled at something in the past, you can repeat it again in the future with similar or better results. The best thing is that what I’m about to tell you is backed by tons of research so you be assured of its value. It’s also one of the greatest ways to strengthen the neural pathways in your brain, making it easier to repeat the behavior next time.

There are two reasons for this according to Caroline Webb in her book, How to Have a Good Day.

  1. Our brains activate in a similar way when we’re visualizing something as when we are living it for real. Researchers have found the overlap to be between 60 percent and 90 percent.
  2. The more you rehearse a certain behavior, the stronger the neural pathway becomes in our brain. That’s why practice makes perfect. It’s behaviourally driven.

Why? Because neurons in your brain make connections with one another. They communicate through something called synapses. As you grow and learn new things those connection begin to change. The more you make the same connection, the easier it is to reactivate that behavior or skill. This is one of the reasons our brains continue to change throughout our lives because of something called neuroplasticity. I’ve written more about it here, “How Positivity Rewires Your Brain.

Practicing Mind’s Eye Rehearsal

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How to Increase Creativity in Anything You Do

 

Creativity is the key to great writing, meaningful work, deep relationships and inspiring leadership. The key to knowing how to be more creative lies in understanding how our brains work. It’s more simple than you might think.

Everyday our brains are scanning the horizon of our circumstances in order to know what to do. Every email we read, each Facebook post we scan, and every conversation we engage, tells our brains what to do next and engages the appropriate behavior. photo_lightbulb copy

Our brains are built to function in one of two ways: (1) Threat or (2) Reward. Everyday we are constantly trying to avoid threat and embrace reward. The more we condition our brains to see less threat and more reward, the more creative we will be.

There is a simple reason for this. Stress and threat release hormones that shut down our creativity called adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. These hormones are good for you when you are fighting or running for your life. But, they don’t work in your favor if you are trying to be creative.

When we see the world through a reward based framework, our brains release “happy chemicals,” such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. These chemicals help us to feel more creative and motivated. We are more likely to accomplish our goals such as, coming up with a brilliant idea, finish writing the next chapter of a book, excel at your next athletic event, or just simply having an incredible day with your family. (more…)

Why You Need the Michelangelo Phenomenon to be the Real You

Just under the surface of your life is a person able to fulfill your deepest longings and dreams. Someone incredible who is filled with love, peace and joy. It’s who you really want to be when you are completely honest with yourself. This is who you really are deep down inside. But it is difficult to let that person emerge from their shell so they can be fully seen. This is called, ‘the authentic me.’ Michelangelo knew how this felt.photo_artist_paint_copy

Understanding this truth, helped him become one of the greatest artists in the world and he applied this principle to specific sculpture he called, “David.” He is known as the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance and among his other works are the Sistine Chapel frescoes in Rome, Vatican city and Pietà which depicts the Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus who is lying on her lap after the Crucifixion.

The realization of what Michelangelo discovered became known as The Michelangelo Phenomenon.

David was sculpted out of a block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces. What’s interesting is that this same block of marble was twice rejected by other artists and sat 40 years waiting for the hands of Michelangelo. Like many of us, people lied about its potential and kept in the shadows of false pretenses and unworthiness.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Everyone of us is like that block of stone, there’s greatness inside, but it has to be released. It has to be carved out through hard work. It has to be sculpted by the individual who can perceive their own greatness. You must recognise it in yourself, but you can’t do it alone. You have to enlist the love and care of others.

Bringing out the Best of Yourself

The Michelangelo phenomenon is about others bringing out the very best of what inside you, in order for you to reach your fullest potential. You are the block of marble containing greatness inside. But you need the people who are in your life to chip away the excess and help shape the beauty within.

The world tells you the lies. You can’t reach your dreams, you are a failure, you cannot be the person you deeply desire to become. The list is endless. These lies are there to greet all of us around each corner of life’s road and they steal the hopes and passions of who we want to become. (more…)

Why This Is the Best Thing for Your Health

How you wake up in the morning sets the stage for the rest of your day. If you can’t get into a rhythm out of the gate, you will struggle to feel right and be focused. This 1 simple practice will help you change everything physically and mentally.

Many of my leadership clients are shocked when I tell them about the power of drinking a minimum of 16 oz of water as soon as they wake up in the morning. There are serious health and physiological benefits linked by science to this practice. Here’s why it’s a must and the reasons your body will flourish if you do. photo_water_sea-man-person-holiday copy

This is part of my Start Well/End Well Series.

You may have heard that the Japanese are known for living longer than most any people group in the world. One of the reasons they attribute to their longevity is drinking two full glasses of water when they wake up. These 7 reasons explain why they are so committed to drinking water and why you should be too.

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Is Comfort Causing Slow Death in Your Life?

Comfort sounds like such a wonderful word, doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t want to sit in their favorite chair, wrapped in a down filled comforter, in front of a crackling fire while watching their favorite TV show? There is nothing wrong with comfort until comfort becomes a way of life. Sit in that chair for too long, and you’ve got a problem.

I want to see your leadership go to a completely different level and help you be a person of depth. So often, leadership is focused on what you are doing. Things like goal setting, vision statements, and productivity. The better question is what are you learning? How are you being stretched? What new experiences are you forcing yourself to engage in? In what ways are you breaking out of your comfort zone and engaging in learning a new skill, a new language, or visiting places you’ve never been with the people you care about? True leadership is about who you are and who are you becoming201H
Living in complacency and comfort can leave us in a place where our creativity, adventure and vision are completely wiped out. Instead of helping us to feel rejuvenated, it often has the opposite effect and causes stagnation. If I’m not learning, I’m dying. According to Robert Quinn in his book, Deep Change, we are only moving in 1 of 2 directions. We are either in the process of deep change or slow death.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” — Abraham Maslow

The antidote to this is to create avenues in our lives where change is inevitable. In his book, Quinn says that, “one key to successful leadership is continuous personal change.  Personal change is a reflection of our inner  growth and empowerment.  Empowered leaders are the only ones who can induce real change.  They can forcefully communicate a level beyond telling.  By having the courage to change themselves, they model the behavior they are asking of others.” (more…)

How You Can Be Great at Anything

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Think about this: if you could be great at almost anything, what would it be? A sport? A skill? Leadership? Teaching? The guitar? So often people believe you have to be born with some genius level skill and that’s how you become great. But that is false.

What if I told you there was science proving that if you follow some important steps, you could actually be great at almost anything? Well, it’s true. So start dreaming. By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to do it. photo_soccer-men-grass-sport copy

I’ll never forget the time I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called, Outliers. It was the first time for me to hear of the 10,000 hour rule. Basically the rule is this: Gladwell states research based on many genius level performers, Mozart, The Beatles, Bill Gates, and other famous people who all became experts in their fields. How did they become great? They put in over 10,000 hours into their craft – 2.74 hours a day for 10 years. He called it, “the magic number of expertise.” This reseach wasn’t actually his. It was developed by a man named Anders Ericcson who has just released a new book called, Peak – Secrets from the new science of expertise. I highly recommend this book.

Why is it important to understand the truth behind this rule? Because you can be great at almost anything if you apply what’s below. “Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born. These conclusions are based on rigorous research that looked at exceptional performance using scientific methods that are verifiable and reproducible.” Or, perhaps you have a child who is particularly talented at music or sports and you want to help them become the best they can be. Here is the truth about how to reach those goals and become great:

The Myth of the 10,000 Rule

Gladwell wasn’t quite accurate. There’s no magic to 10,000 hours. Let me explain. If you text on your smartphone for 10,000 hours, it doesn’t mean you will become a great author. If you swing a baseball bat 10,000 times, it doesn’t mean you will make it to the major leagues. True, you will improve. But you need something else to be great. Here’s are 3 things that will help almost anyone be great at something: (more…)

Harness the Power of the Underdog

3 Ways you can implement the power of success

We don’t speak of the underdog too often. We speak about the powerful, the influential, the idea-makers, game-changers – the world class leaders. That is, unless the underdog becomes famous, then we talk about how amazing they are because they’re not underdogs anymore.

If you are an underdog, you should be grateful. If you feel like your vision, your idea, or your call are in obscurity and that no one is listening – I have good news for you. You could be in one of the best places in life. You are a secret weapon. Why? Because you will do things differently than everyone else. You will work harder. You will do what others will not. And, with persistence and hard work, you will eventually emerge from the crowd, your vision will become reality, and you will live your passion. photo_2giant-33507_1280

I love underdogs. That’s why I’ve spent much of my life helping widows and orphans. It’s the ‘weak things of the world that confound the wise.’ And I also love researching why certain people find ways to achieve extraordinary results.

“When you are an underdog, you are forced to try things you would have otherwise never attempted.” – Gladwell

People who come from the shadows into the limelight of all apply certain principles responsible for their success – and you can too. Take Howard Shultz for an example, now a billionaire. He grew up in the projects in Brooklyn before he founded Starbucks. Or, J.K. Rowling, a single mother in England who was living in abject poverty and was laughed at by publishers for her crazy book, Harry Potter. Or a little soccer team most people had never even heard of until this year that most people can’t even pronounce called Leicester City.

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Making Meaning Out of Your Mess – 4 Things I Learned While Shipwrecked

How do you find meaning in the mess?

What do you do when life doesn’t go quite according to plan? After years of hard work and tedious effort, you reach a place you never thought you would be – tired, burned out, and unhappy.

That’s what happened to me.

The good news is that this is one of the greatest places in life to find yourself. I know it’s counter intuitive but it is true.

Why? Because it is the place to rebuild and resurrect. What I mean is this: when you come to the end of yourself all of your defenses and pretences are down. There’s not much left to protect. Somewhere deep inside, you’ve resolved that you must change because life isn’t going according to plan. You must transform into the real you that’s been hidden.photo_man_water_rainbow_copy

You become like the mythological Phoenix who has come to an end of itself and is ready to be reborn. There is nowhere else to go but to turn inward and to God – it’s a perfect time to rediscover your passions and the things that matter most. You are finally in a place where you have the courage to blow up the old wineskins of your life that use to work for you and make way for something beautiful and new. Something amazing rises from those ashes.

The psychological notion of this is the ‘death of the ego.’ Richard Rohr says, that we live out of our egos the first half of our lives and spend the second half learning to live without fear and pursue the things that really matter to us. Or, “When you get your, ‘Who am I?’, question right, all of your, ‘What should I do?’ questions tend to take care of themselves, as he writes in his book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

Are We Going About Life the Wrong Way?

The idea is that we spend much of the beginning of our lives trying to find ‘containers’ that help to answer critical questions we face in life. Who am I? Do I matter? How can I support myself? Who will go with me?

In this ‘first half of life,’ we spend most of our time doing our best to answer these questions and then placing boundaries around them because they have become our identity. We get stuck.

This was similar to my predicament. I absolutely loved what I did. What I didn’t realize is that too much of my identity was wrapped up in it. Tom the author, Tom the speaker, Tom the orphan advocate and justice guy. None of these things are wrong by any means, I had just allowed myself to put too much stock in them. And the truth was, I really didn’t want to be some of them. Traveling all over the place was conflicting with the time I needed to spend with my wife and family. I ignored those signs and the issues got bigger. I was trying to protect containers, not what was inside of them.

Whatever identity I had was actually good and it was true. But now its not because my life has changed, the seasons have changed and what stands in front of me has changed. I had to dig deep and find the courage to walk a road that I didn’t know and that would only be made by walking. (more…)

Creating a Life You Won’t Regret

How to always live with meaning and purpose

What is most important to you in life? After years have passed, will you have lived for what really mattered? Sadly, many people will ask these questions too late because they weren’t internally driven and they didn’t take the time to create a life they really wanted.  Our society has become one gigantic scare tactic against what really matters. And it can squeeze your true self and your true purpose right out the window. I am going to tell you how to make a very important personal change so you can live a life with no regrets. Making this change changed my life.

Everyone tells you what you have to do to be successful. You have to go to college when you graduate. You have to get a good paying job at a respectable company. You have to make friends with important people to catapult your career. You have to be popular and get tons of likes on Facebook. The list is endless. 
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The problem comes when we focus on what we “have to” do according to what other sources have said, and we lose track of the things that genuinely matter to us. We are no longer living our dreams, but someone else’s.

Are you Living the Life You Want?

All of these, “have to’s,” start to spin ridiculously out of control and most people find themselves doing things they don’t like with a life they really don’t want to be living. That’s why so many people are unhappy. In fact, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work, according to a new report by the Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group.

Yet, the path to happiness and fulfillment lies in our hands. According University of California PhD researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky states: “40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.”

But many won’t do what it takes to change. They choose ‘things’ over people – stuff over what’s really important. According to another research team who recently published their findings online in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, materialistic people find it more difficult to be grateful for what they have, which causes them to become miserable. In other words, the more we get, the less fulfillment there is in our lives.

This is why living your values are so critical to your personal happiness and fulfillment. I spoke about this in some detail in this article and want to drill deeper into how it looks. I asked my readers what would help them from these posts and they said, “more examples,” so here it goes.

Creating a Successful Life on Your Terms

I went through a really amazing values discovery session with Jo Bell, one of my mentors. She helped me uncover the five values that were at the heart of every decision I made – they define who I am. They are: (1) Faith/spirituality, (2) Family, (3) Hope, (4) Freedom, and (5) Vulnerability.

These are so deeply engrained in me that I could sit down with you and talk about each of them for hours. I can define them for you and explain them in detail. We all have at least 5 values. If we start making decisions and living a life against those values, all kinds of turmoil will break out. Let me explain.

I experienced an incredibly painful time in my life a few years ago when my life became misaligned with my values. I was the CEO of an international non-profit that helped widows and orphans. It was amazing work that I really loved. But all of the travel began to adversely affect me and caused my family to suffer – and it caused me to suffer. I wasn’t myself. I became angry and irritable and when I was home, I just couldn’t relax and enjoy life. (more…)

Lacking Purpose and Motivation? You Don’t Know Your Values.

Values. After 20 years of executive coaching and being the CEO of a multi-million dollar non-profit, I am convinced of this truth: Most people struggle to achieve their life’s purpose – and lack motivation to do so – because they do not live their values. In fact most people don’t even know their values. This happened to me and it led to a severe case of burnout.

If I asked you to name the 5 most important values that direct every decision you make, could you do it? In other words – could you tell me, without hesitation, why you do what you do? If you can’t, you are not alone. photo_catholic_church_oldman copy

Whether you know it or not, you are directing your life by a specific set of values. But they may not be the values you want. Why? Because most of us adopt the values of our parents and the dominant values of our society. The values you internalized as a child remain with you through adulthood, according to Jim Taylor, PhD in this Psychology Today article.

This is true because many of our values were shaped before the age of 5. As a 5 year old child, you are incredibly vulnerable. You are learning about the world and you are receiving information about right and wrong, fear and safety, and a host of other important issues about life. You can’t even filter this information. What you see and experience shapes your values Those who grow up in abusive homes adopt different values than those raised in a more stable environment.

How about society? What do they teach us to value? Turn on the TV or open your internet browser. Sex, money, fame and body image. Those pursuits don’t seem to get people very far down the road towards their life’s purpose and what’s really important.

What about the values of our children and this generation? A recent research study reveals that one of their key values is materialism and money, but they are not very motivated to work for it. So, give me the money while I sit on my butt. You can read about it here. I’m not a child psychologist, but I don’t think that’s going to work. Could this be one of the reasons so many millennials are moving back in with their parents according to this Wall Street Journal article?

Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent. — Parker Palmer

My son has recently been struggling with his purpose in life. He has spent a lot of time in his life focused around a certain sports activity – and he has been incredibly successful. He’s loved it and it has brought him a lot of joy. But lately, he has found himself losing his vision and passion for it. (more…)