Don’t let an illusion block you…

March 3, 2016

“Life is full of obstacle illusions.”  (Grant Frazier) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

I love this little quote. It reminds me of something that Malaprop Man would say in the Frank and Ernest newspaper cartoon stip. It also sounds like something that Yogi Berra might have said. It is so appropriate to discuss, because so many obstacles in our lives are just illusions; figments of our own imaginations. In cases involving egomaniacs and self-centered narcissistic people, the quote might be changed to read “Life is full of obstacle delusions.”

I think the point of Frazier’s quote is that too many of the things that we see as obstacles are actually figments of our own imagination – illusions. The human mind is a wonderful thing, capable of figuring out and finding solutions for complex situations that defy duplication by man-made alternatives like robots or artificial intelligence. It is also capable of conjuring up fears and scenarios for failure, however unlikely, that give us roadblockspause before acting. We can create our own roadblocks to success in our minds – obstacle illusions.

I think the key to making sure that you don’t get blocked in life by obstacle illusions is to develop a quick mental routine to use when confronted by what appears to be an obstacle. If you ever watched golf on TV (and this applies to other sports, but is just not as obvious as it is in golf) you’ll notice that the gold pros have routines that they faithfully go through before each shot or putt. They are analyzing and visualizing the shot or putt in their minds and recalling the muscle skills that they have developed over hours and hours of practice. They are essentially taking the time to bring to bear on the situation at hand all of the knowledge, experience and best practices that they have trained for to get to that point. They are eliminating the obstacle illusions that might otherwise be in the shot or putt by visualizing a successful outcome and then trying to execute that vision.

We can all do the same thing in our daily lives. Instead of focusing upon the obstacles that we think we see to our success, if we concentrate instead on using our knowledge and experience to visualize a path to success, we might find that many of the obstacle illusions that we thought were blocking our way just evaporate back into the thin air from which our imaginations conjured them. Our focus on the positive things that we need to do to achieve success doesn’t allow us the idle time to imagine every possible way that we could fail.

Sometimes the obstacle illusions that we see ahead of us prevent us from even starting; wemind at work are frozen by the fear of failure. Many times those are fears of things that have no chance of happening anywhere other than in our minds. We may talk ourselves out of even trying, or let the first set-back stop us from continuing to try. Justr remember a quote by that great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar – “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” So, don’t let obstacle illusions prevent you from starting.

Don’t let an obstacle illusion block you from greatness.

Battling the enemies within…

October 21, 2015

Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer –  Sun Tzu

The attribution for that that little phrase is in some dispute. It is attributed by some to Sun Tzu in his book The Art of War and by some due to a bad translation of the letters of Machiavelli. Some even attribute it to the movie The Godfather. Wherever it’s from, I’d like to focus on a slightly different look at the enemy – the enemy within.

 “It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”  (Sally Kempton)

In this little saying it is impossible not to keep the enemy close because the enemy is already in our heads, or at least has outposts there. What does that mean? Let’s assume for the moment that the enemies that you are trying to fight are prejudices or bigotry or any other pre-conceived notions about things that might lead you in a direction that you really don’t want to go.

How did the enemy, which rears its ugly head from time to time in your thoughts, get an outpost in your head?predjuices For most of us the answer lies in our childhood, in our homes and how we were raised. For those of us who are old enough to have lived through the racial ugliness of the mid-twentieth Century (or even earlier), you know that those outposts are there. They were planted by usage in the language of the time of derogatory terms that are politically incorrect today. But it wasn’t just the language. Also planted in those outposts were stereotypes, prejudices, and, in some cases, hatred. Knowing that they are there keeps one on high alert to not let those enemies escape the outpost and get out into your speech and your actions. These days there are new negative outposts being planted in our minds about such things as homophobia, stereotypes about recent immigrants or refugees, prejudices about religious preferences and more.

Other outposts which harbor our enemies within have other labels – fear, uncertainty, doubts, and anxiety. Many afraidof these outposts have names ending in phobia. Some phobia’s have such strong footholds in our minds that they can become debilitating. There are thousands of phobias that people might experience. According to the Web site, the top 10 phobias for 2015 are these:

  1. Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders
  2. Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes
  3. Acrophobia – The fear of heights
  4. Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces
  5. Cynophobia – The fear of dogs
  6. Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning
  7. Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces
  8. Mysophobia – The fear of germs
  9. Aerophobia – The fear of flying
  10. Trypophobia – The fear of holes

There’s probably something on that list that you can relate to in your own life. I know that a couple make me squirm.

As debilitating as phobias can be the outposts in our minds that can lead us into depression are worse because they actually turn us against ourselves. We may have funny comedy skits about a phrase like “I’m not worthy”; but, that phrase, and the enemy outpost in the minds of many,  lead them to dark places. Feelings of being exclusionunloved, unwanted, unworthy can be as debilitating as any phobia. The writings of too many recent serial killers point to the enemies within those outposts taking over and leading the person to take actions that we cannot even fathom. From the outside we ask, “How could they do that?” From the inside the answer too often is, “I had to.” The enemy within took over from the outposts in their heads and made them outcasts in their own minds.

What can we do to help ourselves and others fight off or keep under control these enemies within? Logic and rational thought can only take us so far. I suggest that we keep our friends just as close by giving them outposts in our heads, too. Just as you can have negative or ugly outposts in your head as the result of exposure to teachings and events, you can plant the good things to balance your life out by embracing faith and givinghand reaching for heaven outposts to the teachings of the Bible. You can start small and simply by giving an outpost to the Ten Commandments. You can build an outpost for The Lord’s Prayer and raise the flag over another outpost for The Apostles Creed. Add to that outposts for the messages that you receive when you read the Bible or pray and soon you will find that the enemies that have outposts in your head will keep hunkered down in the holes where they live, because they cannot stand up to the light of the Son.

As I’ve mentioned here before in several posts, one of the most important steps that one can take is to let go of the need to feel in control of everything. The frustration and sense of defeat that comes from not being in control of events in your life can become overwhelming. Let it go. Use the simple little prayer that I’ve offered up here several times – “Not my will; but, thy will be done.” You aren’t giving up. You can praying in different religionskeep trying; but realize that any and all outcomes must be accepted. It’s not your fault. I guess that makes the acceptance of God’s will the ultimate No Fault Insurance policy. Blast that over the outposts of evil that may lurk in your mind and those thoughts will keep their heads down where they belong.

Have a great day and keep building good outposts in your head.

Take your shots today…

September 14, 2015

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky (as seen on a motivational site, while looking for something else). Great athletes are often the source of great motivational quotes.

hockey shotLife is full of opportunities for us all to take a shot at greatness, or at least at betterment. Many of us let those opportunities pass us by because of some fear, usually the fear of failure. We might think, if I don’t try I won’t have to deal with failure. How pathetic is that? Gretzky’s quote is certainly true if that is your philosophy of life.

A life lived without any failures is a boring life indeed; because it is usually a life lived without trying. It results in an old age full of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s, regrets and leaves little to be remembered by.

So, when those shots come up (and they do come up every day) to do something different, something bold, something that is potentially life changing, take you shot. You may fail, but at least you will have tried and perhaps you’ll even learn something about life and about yourself. Maybe you’ll succeed and then you’ll be someplaceask for dance where you’ve never been before, with great new adventures ahead of you, perhaps with new friends that you finally took the opportunity to talk to, maybe with a date that you never thought that you’d get or a new job that you thought was out of reach. You’ll never know if you don’t take your shot. Another great athlete put it this way –

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

So, take your shots today. Look for life’s opportunities; not to avoid them, but to take advantage of them. There is great joy in the successes that you may achieve and even a sense of satisfaction that you can get out of the failures that you will have because at least you tried.

Take your shots today…

What we have here is a failure to change….

May 11, 2015

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be. – John Wooden

There seems to be quite a bit of failure to recognize changes in our society lately, especially in Washington and various state legislative bodies, as they deny and try to legislate against the changes taking place. Perhaps these are really attempts to hold back change, which is also doomed to failure.

afraidChange is very scary to many and confusing to others. Things aren’t as they always have been and that is frightening. Anxieties are fueled not by facts; but, rather, by fears of the unknown. After all, THEY are not like US; and that can’t be good, can it? Their values don’t match OUR values, so they must be wrong, because we know that we are right; RIGHT?

It’s all very vexing, this change stuff. So, the thought process might be verbalized like this – “Maybe there’s a way to hold back change. Maybe if I make change illegal here it will go away. At least that’s my theory. Maybe I can pass laws that make people behave the way the WE behave; or at least I can make it illegal not to behave the way that WE behave. If that doesn’t work I’ll make sure that at least THEY don’t get the same rights and privileges that people who behave like WE do get. That’s OK because we’re in the right; RIGHT? After all WE have GOD on our side; Right? Here, let me show you passages in MY Bible that say that WE are right and THEY are wrong. Shame on THEM; Right? I feel better, now.”

The good news is that these hypocrites are now in the minority. Even though they currently hold economic and political power;  in the long run, there is no way that they can gerrymander the political maps enough to hold on to that power for much longer. The economic power issue will take longer, but they too will change. They have failed to change and theydinosaur are failing. They are in the process of fighting a rear guard action to hold off change for as long as they can; but it is a losing battle. Change is inevitable and unrelenting and patient enough to outlast these holdouts. They will join the dinosaurs as relics of our past.

Rather than spend time searching for Biblical passages that seem to justify their position, maybe they can find a way to embrace the overall messages about love for neighbor and inclusion in God’s kingdom that was the real intent in those same Bibles. Finding a way to embrace change and to value differences would seem to be a much better use of everyone’s time.

As for those who continue to resist change, rail against it and pass laws to stop it; we should continue to try to help them to get over their fears and see the benefits for all of a more diverse and inclusive society. We need not be angry at them (that is a waste of our energy) nor pity them (that is an empty emotion); but rather keep reaching out them with love and helping handsunderstanding. They are afraid of the change and we need to help them get over that fear. Not making that effort and leaving them behind would constitute a failure on our part. Remember to love thy neighbor as yourself, even if he is currently ranting against you. You must continue to reach out to the hands that have been slapping your hands and help them see that they need not be afraid of change.

Have great day and a great week ahead.

Don’t fear success…

February 16, 2015

“Most people we encounter fear success, not failure” – Brian Buffini – from a post on Inman News.

Brian is founder and chairman of Buffini & Company, a life coaching company. It seems counter intuitive that people might fear success more than failure, but Brian went on to make some points about people not doing what they know they need to do afraidin order to be successful. It’s not necessarily that they are lazy or don’t want to succeed, but rather that success to them actually represents the great unknown in a world of failures that they’ve come to know and embrace. For some it’s a matter of not having anyone to hold them accountable for achieving the things that they claim that they want to achieve; which is, of course, where a life coach comes in handy.

As perverse as it sounds, people who fear success might go into situations expecting failure and welcome it as the outcome because they’ve become comfortable with failure. They take the attitude of, “I know I won’t win”, at the start, so the end is pre-ordained and is usually the outcome. That allows them to wallow in the misery that eeorethey had anticipated to begin with. Do you know people like that? They are the eeores of life. Perhaps, in their cases they have attached this tail of constant woe and failure to their own backsides with an emotional pushpin, sort of like eeore’s tail is attached to his rear.

(Ed. – for those unfamiliar with eeore, click here for more on this Disney character in the Winnie the Pooh stories.)

As we start a new week, are you setting off in search of victories and success or do you begin the week sure that it will bring nothing but five more days of failure?  Do not fear success and do not embrace failure as your fate in life.  Rather look at your successes as grand new adventures, taking you places that you’ve never been before. After all, you’ve seen enough of failure, so there must be a better view from somewhere else.

Success can come in many forms from the many experiences that we might have in everyday life. We might start a successful new relationship with someone by simply saying “Hi, how are you” to them, instead of lowering your heading and hurrying by them. You might have a satisfying success during the week by offering to help someonecaregiver with something. It could be something small; like holding a door open for a person behind you that has their hands full or combing the hair of someone no longer able to care for their self. Maybe success will come in the form of making a great presentation at work or doing really well on a test at school. When those successes occur, embrace them and get used to how they make you feel. That good feeling can be yours more often if you approach everything with success in mind, instead of the fear (or expectation) of failure.

Remember the childhood story of the Little Train that Could. He didn’t succeed by littel train that couldapproaching the hill saying, “I know I can’t, I know I can’t.” You need to approach the ups and down in your life with the same philosophy as that little train – “I think I can, I think I can.” After a while that will change to, “I know I can, I know I can” and then a reassuring reflection of “I knew I could, I knew I could.”  I’ve written here before about believing in yourself – see First Believe in Yourself. If you can get there, then you will not fear success, you will expect it of yourself. See; I knew you could, I knew you could.

Have a great and successful week ahead.