Decisiveness is the Elixir to Get Unstuck

Decisiveness is the Elixir to Get Unstuck

I heard from a sage that if ever you are not sure, or not clear on a decision, you should not make one. Isn’t that making a decision? I am not saying this to be a wise ass, I am just stating the obvious.

No decision is a decision, but it isn’t a decisive one. I think what the sage meant was that if you don’t feel confident in standing by your decision, don’t make one.

The problem with this stream of consciousness is that it doesn’t take into account the possibility that some people are holding on to narratives in their minds about themselves that cause them to lack confidence all together.

In the final analysis the advice is prudent and valuable, but for people who are stuck, and have been for a long time — it doesn’t serve them.

de·ci·sive /dəˈsīsiv/ Adjective: producing a definite result. Having or showing the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.

Making decisions quickly that are effective is an art. Not everyone can or should make them. However, not being able to be decisive, and sitting on the fence is not going to serve you either.

My guest, Bill, on the recent Rant & Grow podcast, has made indecisiveness a lifelong practice. One that has caused him to live in a permanent stuck state of being. To be fair, this didn’t just happen without cause.

Bill was in a dysfunctional family dynamic with a father who didn’t exactly create a safe environment. His father would yell at him and undermine his child like exuberance for life. Over time a child gives up trying, because he/she feels suppressed.

“While we are not responsible for our upbringing, we are responsible for the choices we make as adults.”

It’s very dangerous to settle into a narrative that becomes our lives. For Bill the familiar narrative was one of manifesting bosses who screamed at him and didn’t make him feel worthy or safe. Bill stayed in a relationship long after it was over, because the discomfort of feeling less than worthy, is familiar to him.

For those who have never experienced manifesting the same things over and over, like in a the “Ground Hog Day” movie, it might prove difficult to understand why a negative experience is familiar to someone. Makes no sense. The truth is we all manifest familiar situations. Good or bad. It’s a matter of accepting if they work for us, or not.

In the case of Bill, manifesting lack isn’t’ something he wants to continue to do. Someone who’s books and teachings I’ve admired over the years, Rav Berg, used to say: “When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain to change, people change.”

When I speak to guests on my new podcast, it’s difficult to keep it together at times. Sometimes I just want to cry for them. Some of their experiences I learn off-the air, are heartbreaking. Nonetheless the choices we make as adults, are ours and ours alone.

This brings me to the climax of the conversation with Bill. Every choice we make is a decision. Staying stuck is a decision. Moving forward is a decision. Not making a decision is also a decision.

Over the years working with 100s of men, coaching as a volunteer some rather dysfunctional people (some out of choice), I’ve learned that there is no other elixir more powerful than decisiveness.

This isn’t just an elixir for men, this is the cure to what ails most of us. If you don’t like the situation you are in, decide to change it. If you don’t like your career, decide to change it. Change is going to happen anyway. It’s truly the only constant of life. Wouldn’t you rather be the cause than the effect?

Every internal mind chatter about why you can’t do something and so on, is simply a narrative you’ve been selling yourself for a long time. I am not saying it’s easy to be decisive, to move forward, and to honor your self-worth. It’s hard work when your childhood experiences have been stacked up against you. It’s also sacred work.

It’s sacred work because whatever we’ve manifested from our upbringing, we will pass on to our children. Therefore, breaking cycles that aren’t very favorable becomes sacred duty.

There is no shortcut, magic pill, meditation, mantra, or magical ayahuasca tea ceremony with a shaman that will have a more profound effect on your life, than to decisively be in action towards manifesting your life’s purpose. An ayahuasca ceremony might open you up to see the truth behind your masks, behind your ego, but you’ll still have to take action on what you discover to effectively impact your life moving forward.

At the end of the podcast I stress to Bill one simple concept. Do the f_@&ing work! Stop monkeying around, and do the work. As we courageously move forward it gets easier. It’s like getting fit. It hurts initially, and then over time as you get stronger, and more confident, it becomes a source of empowerment and pleasure.

Doing the hard work to change and evolve, becomes a source of pleasure over time because you begin to experience life on your terms, not a familiar robotic loop of a narrative that doesn’t apply to you as an adult, and more than likely never did even as a child.

Listen to the latest podcast right here, and experience Bill’s transformation in the making. Maybe, just maybe you might discover something valuable for your own’s life journey.

Letting Go of Blame Will Set You Free

Letting Go of Blame Will Set You Free

When I was a kid, I had to ask permission to leave the dinner table. My parents were loving human beings who were also old school. It worked for them, and it worked for me too. I was also of a generation where your behavior was considered a direct reflection of your parents’ reputation. The pressure was constantly on, to behave properly, do the right thing, and to please my parents.

I remember my mom would often remind me that I represented her and my dad, and if I behaved badly, it would cause the parents of other children to think poorly of them.

For the sake of this blog, we are not going to discuss the merits, or lack thereof of that style of parenting. We are going talk about the impact that kind of pressure can have on us as we become adults.

I recently had Daniel as a guest on my new podcast Rant & Grow. The entertaining and heart-centered show is a life coaching session. Guests rant about situations and people that upset them, and then we dig into the personal root cause of the rant which helps the guests become more self-aware so they can break free and grow.

Daniel is a fairly successful 59-year-old man, born and raised in Los Angeles. He didn’t come from much, financially speaking; therefore, success was defined in terms of making money. His parents worked hard, and much like my own, they did whatever it took to take care of their families. Often doing work they didn’t necessarily like.

Self-sacrifice was the motto for them and their parents too. That motto has been around a very long time for many generations.

The problem with self-sacrifice is that eventually you end up not valuing yourself enough, and you could sell out your own terms as a human being.

In the case of Daniel, he spent years blaming his business partners for a decision “they” made without him. The decision had negative impact on the company the three of them built from scratch. Without realizing it, that moment took the air out of Daniel’s tires. He lost his zest for the travel the job required, and he wallowed like a victim for years.

After digging in a bit, it became clear to Daniel that his pointing fingers was actually a distraction from taking responsibility for the fact that he had actually participated in the decision. He participated by saying nothing, by not taking a stand. By not speaking his truth he was complicit with the decision, but conveniently decided on a narrative in his own mind, that the decision had been made without him.

“I sold out my integrity by not speaking up” Daniel acknowledged.

What was the root cause of him not speaking up when he really needed to? Going back to the self-sacrifice mindset, he didn’t value himself high enough to put his foot down. He learned from his parents to work hard, and keep his mouth shut.

The consequences were detrimental to the business, and to Daniel. The business lost clients and lots of money. Daniel lost his mojo.

The gift of self-reflection is in your ability to take full responsibility for where you are in your life. Daniel did that as we ended our Life Coaching session.

There are two main themes that emerged in the session with Daniel.

First: Self-sacrifice doesn’t serve anyone, and in the end, you end up being a martyr. Everything we do has to be of value to all parties involved. As discussed in a previous blog, being selfish serves everyone best.

Second: Blaming others and playing the victim card is a sure way to avoid accountability, and to suffer for no reason.

Speaking your truth, standing up for your beliefs is not only healthy for your own state of being, but in the case of Daniel it would have helped his company avoid major losses, and would have not robbed him of his zest for the work he loves.

By the end of the podcast Daniel was excited to forgive himself, and his partners — to stop blaming, and renew his zest for his work.

Forgiveness is about taking responsibility for our feelings, our reaction to how others may have wronged us; forgiveness is removing the blame for our own feelings from others. It is no longer blaming another person for our own reactions; it is about taking responsibility for ourselves and our reactions, it is about recognizing in ourselves the opportunities for improvements.

When you look into a mirror and you see a scar, do you blame the mirror? Do you say, I hate you mirror for causing the scar? All the mirror has done is given you a chance to see what is part of you, the mirror is just the messenger.

Often people who seem to wrong us, push our buttons, challenge us, they are messengers trying to help us recognize where we need to transform our own state of being.

Daniel also realized that he doesn’t need to impress or please his parents anymore. He can be his own man in his own right and live a more fulfilling existence void of self-sacrifice.

Most people pleasers are desperate for validation and appreciation. People-pleasing can have serious risks to your health too. It’s a lot of pressure and stress on you, and you can make yourself sick from doing too much.

Typically, people-pleasers are afraid of being rejected or abandoned, often preoccupied with what others think, fearful of saying no with no boundaries.

They are often stuck in relationships where they do all the giving. They are often overworked, exhausted, overcommitted and burned out trying to take care of everyone, with little to no self-care practices.

If that sounds like you, or someone you know… listen to latest Rant & Grow podcast right here — There might be a lesson or two from Daniel’s example and breakthrough.

The Most Powerful is the Most Vulnerable

The Most Powerful is the Most Vulnerable

Growing up as the youngest of three often felt as if I had to catch up with my siblings. There is a rather large age gap between us and being one of three boys made it fairly competitive between us. Don’t get me wrong I love my brothers, and today the age gap is irrelevant but at the time I felt like I had to get it together fast in order to keep up.

That’s a lot of self-imposed pressure for a kid which continued well into how I’ve led my adult life. As I’ve become more self-aware over the years, I‘ve learned to let go of the need to look good, or know it all, or be the smartest person in the room, and have embraced the power of vulnerability.

I didn’t get here on my own. I had access to tools, mentors, and people who didn’t sell me out along my journey of self-growth. One of the ways I got in touch with my deeper emotions was through a push.

The Push

A push is a methodology I was introduced to about 11 years ago. It’s a way to physically move against a barrier, while being prompted about circumstances that are causing distress. Women tend to be more evolved than men when it comes to being in touch with their emotions and being willing to be vulnerable.

Change is definitely in the air for men learning to be more open, but it does not come easy to all men, and in some cases women too. I was very angry one time with a situation that had happened with a business partner. I felt taken advantage of and was a mix of depressed and pissed off.

I had so many emotions tied up in a ball, I didn’t even know where to start to unravel all of them. I knew I was angry at the individual, and at the outcomes. A group of 10 men stood in front of me, held me and challenged me to push my way through them.

The need to push and to break through was a physical initiative tied to a conscious action. They were pushing me to also say what I really felt, without filters, without fears, with no risk of retribution. I was free to scream, be angry, curse, and do say whatever I needed to say to off-load all the pent-up anger, pressure, and shame.

The combination of physically having to push and being pushed emotionally cracked me wide open. I could finally unload the burden and be free of it.

After I was done doing all that, I was interviewed about my feelings, and since I was raw and open, I was vulnerable and through some good coaching I connected to the real source of my pain.

I felt not good enough, not worthy enough, I felt shame, and I was really angry at myself for not having enough self-worth to have handled things differently to begin with. In the final analysis I had created the outcomes and my feelings.

That was a hard pill to swallow, after having pointed the finger at someone else for the “cause” of “my feelings” for so long. As I say that today it sounds funny to me. It sounds absurd. How could anyone be the cause of my feelings? They are my feelings; I am in charge of them.

I was also lucky that those men did not sell me out. Sadly, we sell people out all the time. We don’t reflect the truth to them out of fear of conflict, or loss, and when we do it’s not always from a place of love, but rather anger.

Those men loved me deeply, because they knew one simple truth. I was a mirror for their own growth opportunity. My vulnerability gave way for them to be vulnerable too. While some would see the scene as me being the student in need of help, the truth is I was being the teacher, and the student at the same time.

“The secret behind being vulnerable is that the one most vulnerable becomes the teacher, and the student. That’s when real growth happens and that’s living a fully self-aware life.”

The Healing

The push gave way to being open to seeing the truth. The truth had nothing to do with the other person at all. That’s the beginning of healing. Healing starts in becoming fully self-accountable.

I was so moved by that experience, and many more since then in the past 11 years coaching people on a volunteer capacity, that I decided to create a podcast show and make the same tools and methodologies available to anyone willing to be courageous.

I created Rant (the push) & Grow (the self-reflection and awareness) to make these tools available to the masses. It is my desire that people listening will not feel so alone in their situations, and more importantly not feel shame from being in difficult situations.

When I was younger, my ego wanted me to look good all the time, as a result I was not authentic, I carried lots of shame around being willing to ask for help. I was disconnected from my inner-self and could not be vulnerable. Being vulnerable was scary.

Today when I coach people in groups, I always lead by saying that the most powerful is the one willing to be the most vulnerable.

When you are vulnerable you give permission to other to do the same, and this enables more authentic relationships based on trust and mutual respect. That’s when life really flourishes, and we begin to experience bliss on a regular basis. That’s when we break free of self-imposed ideas about ourselves that are not rooted in self-love.

“Vulnerability is the beginning of the most rewarding love affair of your life. A love affair with the real you. The authentic, beautifully imperfect you.”

 — 

Please check out the latest episode of Rant & Grow right here. In this episode I describe the show with my friend Eric. Just hit the play button and enjoy it.

Mastering our Thoughts and Actions is the Key to Happiness

Mastering our Thoughts and Actions is the Key to Happiness

Society often defines success as fame, fortune, and achievement as perceived through the eyes of others. We convince ourselves that we will be happy when we finally make our fortune, find the perfect spouse, graduate college, or end up at the top of our business. But most people who define success in these terms are unhappy.

Happiness comes from within. There are some principles that can serve as a map that will lead us to true inner happiness. However, in life’s journey, our natural feelings of peace, love and joy frequently become clouded by negative misguided beliefs.

Our mind is constantly justifying why we create a feeling, and then because of our five senses we convince ourselves that it’s real. We become slaves to the feelings we create. We begin to believe our own mind chatter rooted in fears.

Built up stress and insecurity are often due to self-created thought systems, influenced by external inputs. For example, you are at the checkout line of your favorite food grocer, and your emotionally aware consciousness might allow you to let someone go in front of you, perhaps because he/she is in a hurry, and only has 2 items.

Conversely, the fear of being taken advantage of could take over. Perhaps as a child someone tricked you, or stole your favorite toy, and you created a belief system of distrust and a need to be guarded. You may reason with yourself; I am in a hurry too, we are all in a hurry, he/she can wait like the rest of us.

Now imagine, you walk out of the store and strangely you get into some kind of accident that you might have avoided because you were in the store an extra 5 minutes.

Sometimes we are given opportunities to alter the outcome of our life in a positive way, but we let our fear-based thought system take over, and the actions we take as a result end up causing us chaos. We don’t often see the logic and perfection to an otherwise imperfect life, because the mind chatter is tuned into the station “fear fm”.

We Build the House

Negative moods are created by acting on negative thoughts. We build the house we live in, and we often build with negative bricks. The secret is knowing that the moods we experience are a result of the actions we took or did not take.

A quiet mind allows us to choose our course of action on the thoughts coming in; our mood depends on this. This requires great discipline not to let fears and judgmental thoughts run their course; meaning they can happen — but we should not always act on them. This is where meditation and the practice of mindfulness come in very handy.

Sometimes the simple realization that it is just a thought that requires no action be taken will be enough to immediately raise your level of consciousness. Sometimes the thoughts cause people to act in an out of control fashion, and the resulting moods can be devastating.

If you find yourself having raging thoughts of anger, resentment, difficulty focusing, and the actions you take on those thoughts cause chaos in your life, don’t dismiss the possibility of neurotransmitters imbalance of the brain, and as such I am advocating taking properly prescribed medication or treatments by a professional.

In the past two decades there has been an increase of 400% in Bi-Polar Disorder, mostly because unlike years ago when it was demonized, science is beginning to find treatments for imbalances that cause people to act in ways that creates chaos in their lives.

These same people are often geniuses who lead extraordinary difficult lives. People like Sir Isaac Newton, Mark Twain, Galileo, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso, President Lincoln, and countless others were all manic depressive; they made amazing contributions to the betterment of mankind, yet I side with how difficult it must have been to live in their own minds, and within themselves, yet still choosing to be value creators.

Most of us aren’t in need of medical medicine to manage our stress and fears. There is a free medicine that does wonders in altering a bad mood, it’s called gratitude. Just by appreciating your health, talents, children or simply a beautiful object, you begin to want to emanate happiness and love, rather than fear.

Let Go of Destructive Ideas

Most of the pain people endure have roots in relationships gone bad. Everything about life is about relationships, but we frequently hold false assumptions about relationships. Here are some false ideas:

Love is blind: Love is not blind. When in love, we notice differences and see them as interesting, and endearing rather than faults. We see things as we should every day. We see things without judgment. Imagine if we could do this in our relationships all the time. We would be in love all the time.

It is important to be compatible: The notion that people have to think about and enjoy doing the same things to be compatible is simply not true. It is another illusion our fears create. By respecting differences, we all have the ability to be compatible. When we remove judgment, and let go of our fears, our consciousness will find all kinds of ways to be happy in a relationship. This holds true even at work. The notion of hiring for cultural fit is limiting and lacks respect for true diversity, which includes beliefs and lifestyles.

We will be happy when circumstances change: You cannot experience happiness by focusing on circumstances or what isn’t there and probably never will be. Get rid of the should, and the should nots, and start seeing what is. It’s like the woman who complains about her husband snoring at night, and then wishes she could give anything to have him back when he has passed away.

Jealousy: This is my favorite; it took me 14 years to overcome this one. Jealousy is imagined fear, insecurity and possessiveness caused by unfounded assumptions or imagined ideas about how another person thinks or feels, which leads to distrust or blame. All barriers that limit clear, real, happy thinking.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well: Like many ideas we fabricate, this is just not so. If doing well simply meant putting your heart in it, or enjoying it, the saying would be a positive. But most often we define doing a thing well as executing it perfectly. It is always best to focus on excellence instead of perfection.

We are constantly judging everything. Where does judgment come from? Fears.

“The greatest life treasure — joy and happiness, only happens when we replace the need to judge.”

Happiness Matters

When happiness is more important to you than anything else, you will be happy. How is this possible? There will be no room for thoughts that can jeopardize your happiness.

Understanding this changes how we see things. Everything and everyone in our world looks different. It may often seem as though others have changed. However, it is our thoughts (our consciousness) and thus our reality and our feelings that have changed.

When we give love, we get love. Not necessarily because others give it back to us, but because love will emanate through us and within us. We experience what we channel through us and outward to others.

“What we act on is a manifestation of our thinking, and what we manifest is who we become. We are the thoughts we act on!”

All that having been said, sometimes we just need to rant. If you find the need to rant, I would like to invite you to contact me to be a guest on my new experimental podcast called Rant & Grow. You can check out what it’s all about and listen to the trailer below.

The ROI of Democracy in the Workplace

The ROI of Democracy in the Workplace

I recently asked people at my company Nearsoft, what kind of topics might be of interest for me to write about. One of the comments came in as a question: “In a traditionally hierarchical organization (i.e. not Nearsoft), as an individual contributor, what’s the best way to make a meaningful change to the culture? In a big organization, is it even worth it or is it just simpler to change jobs?”

I came across a quote this week that really makes the point of why companies really need to break away from command and control operating systems, and adopt radical cultures that are co-managed, and co-owned.

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher … is to be able to say: The children are now working as if I did not exist.” ~ Maria Montessori

The same can be said about leaders. You know your organization is humming along when an individual leader is no longer needed to lead it. The people are co-owning the vision, the goals, and the execution.

You don’t have to wait for a company to adopt radical leadership principles in order to make your mark. As an individual you can begin to act as if you are the CEO, as if you are accountable to everyone. You can do that by proactively doing what needs to be done, so that no one has to come ask you to do it. 

For example, if you are in sales, proactively make your activity visible. Share you progress, update the CRM system without having to be asked to do it. Create success and progress metrics, measure them, and report them. Run yourself as if you are running the entire sales organization. Be proactive.

Evolving Towards Co-Ownership

I want to acknowledge however that this will only take you as an individual contributor so far, in an environment that isn’t set up to run democratically. I am not talking about political views here, but the real meaning of the word democracy.

de·moc·ra·cy /dəˈmäkrəsē/ a system of government by the whole population. Control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.

In order for an organization to evolve from a command and control structure to a more co-managed, co-owned environment, you have to do away with the need for bosses. If are a boss, you need to be ok with being a servant to the organization, accountable to the organization, not the other way around. Most importantly you need to be ok with no longer being the boss. This isn’t an easy transition. There are egos involved, not just rationally good common sense business reasons.

I can best equate this type of change to what happened in the late 90s when the vast majority of outsourcing initiatives failed. Companies were not ready to go from departments having their own teams, to suddenly working with some external third party to get things done.

I remember spending a considerable amount of time educating Fortune 200 companies on how to shift into decentralized models, like shared services. 

By creating internal organizations that provided services to the various departments, companies began to get used to the idea of having to scope work, do better planning, and having a third party deliver services. 

Albeit the third party was an internal services team. As soon as that became a natural way of doing things, it could just as well be an external team. That’s when outsourcing became more feasible and accessible.

That transition took time, in most cases it was a 2-year long process. It was a change in the operating system of a company. A significant change from kingdom owner mindsets to developing strategic alliances. Alliances work via enrollment, not commands.

It’s clear that for organizations to move to a more democratic work environment, there needs to be a bridge, but more importantly there needs to be a mindset shift from training people to develop skills, to developing people’s emotional intelligence, with a major focus on self-awareness and leadership skills.

Self-Awareness Unlocks Greater Potential

Where there is great leadership, the people talk about the organization and about each other with a sense of pride. It feels more like a family who support each other through life. In an organization with not so great leadership the people talk about each other with a sense of judgment. It feels more like the current political landscape in America.

When employees (or citizen for that matter) are not positively engaged, the problem is with the leadership. The issue however doesn’t get solved by simply replacing the leadership. The issue is bigger, it’s systemic. It’s wide scope.

Rather than putting forward programs to increase employee engagement or trying to buy the employees affection with perks and toys, organizations would be best served to work on developing better leadership, and self-awareness skills with “everyone” in the organization.

With more self-awareness, comes more self-accountability, but more importantly comes more self-esteem and belief in one’s ability to affect change. In other words, the finger pointing stops, and the desire for resolution and mutual understanding begins.

People are Not Resources

Most organizations don’t invest enough on the health of people’s mindset. Mostly because people are treated like property.

When shopping for a vehicle, we test it. When shopping for a home we test the appliances, and we have the home inspected. When we buy clothing, we try them on to test how they fit. We test potential “property” and we ask for warranties.

Sadly, without being consciously aware of it, we test employees and potential employees the same way … as if they are property.

We give them literal tests to check competence, and cultural fit, and after we hire them, we test them some more during a probation period.

How do you feel about being property? Does that feeling encourage more engagement and loyalty? 

People are not resources. People are not property. People need to be treated with respect, with dignity. People are the highest expression of the Universe.

If things aren’t running so smoothly where you work, more than likely it’s a serious disconnect with how people are treated, vs. how they should be treated.

For decades this has been ok. Let me rephrase that, it’s never been ok to treat people like property, but companies have gotten away with it because we have family obligations, and “compliance” has been the mode of operations, instead of “reliance”.

Reliance means that you don’t need me, and I don’t need you, but we choose to rely on each other out of our mutual desire to achieve a goal, a purpose. Reliance is based on mutual respect. It’s based on inter-dependence, not co-dependency. Reliance is founded in human-dignity.

“Companies need to move towards being more purpose driven tied to human values, and then set up operating environments that enable people to bring their very best and brightest selves freely into the success equation.”

The accountability needs to be moved from employee-to-boss, to co-owner-to-co-owner. This future of work operating model will ensure that anyone and everyone is free to make a difference, encouraged to do so, and develops a sense of responsibility that everyone is relying on each other to proactively be engaged towards everyone’s success.

“You simply can’t compete with a company where the people are united and committed to each other, founded on human-dignity and mutual respect.”

We are talking about conscious capitalism, where people come first, and genius comes out of a collective free people who are valued as co-owners, co-contributors, and co-leaders.

Worried this kind of people centered operating model will hurt your bottomline? Fact is, companies operating this way have been outcompeting the growth of S&P 500 companies by a factor of 7X for the past 3 years. 

This isn’t just a model good for people, it’s the most successful, profitable, competitive, and growth oriented business operating model in production today. Period!

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