Obstacles? Let's say stepping stones!

I learned an interesting way of viewing obstacles in life from a CD I was listening to recently. It talked about how if you keep tadpoles in a container of nothing but water, they will never grow into frogs. But if you put in a rock, an obstacle that they have to climb over, then they will be able to develop their legs and become frogs. In other words, in order to become all they're meant to be, tadpoles need obstacles in their environment.

The CD went on to explain how the same goes for humans. If our lives were always smooth and easy and free of any type of resistance, we'd never feel the pressure to rise up to greater levels of achievement - to overcome and become.

Yet when we're faced with obstacles, it can be intensely difficult to keep this in mind. All we see is the obstacle and not what lies on the other side - a stronger, better, wiser version of ourselves.

However, if we make the decision to consciously change our attitude towards life's obstacles - if we choose to see them as necessary for us to become more, to become all we're meant to be - then the negativity and strife that we associate with them will gradually fade away and we'll see them as stepping stones instead.

We tend to try to run away from obstacles, but when we do that, we are actually running away from a better version of ourselves and a fuller, grander version of our lives. As Robin Sharma so wisely said: "Your greatest life lies on the other side of your fear. So run to the things that frighten you."

Mr. Shoaff’s Simple Strategies to Success by Jim Rohn

My first mentor, Mr. Shoaff, over a five-year period of time when I was age 25 to 31, taught me some extraordinarily simple things, before his untimely passing at age 49. He only went through the 9th grade in school. He never finished high school, never went to college, never went to a university. So he put his experiences and ideas in very simple language, which, I think for me—a kid from the farms of Idaho—was so important.

When I would say, “This is all the company pays,” Mr. Shoaff would say, “No, that is all they pay you.” I thought, “That is a new way to look at it.” I told him things cost too much. But he said, “No, you can’t afford them.” Well, that was a new concept for me. He promised that if I would improve, then I would qualify for more money. So I learned that we don’t have to work on the company, we have to work on ourselves. Now if it had been technical, I would have missed it. If it had been mystic, I would have backed away. But it was just basic, blunt “a-b-c” stuff that I hadn’t thought of before. For me it was the beginning of what he called “personal development.”

Mr. Shoaff also taught me that life puts some of the more valuable things on the high shelf so that you can’t get to them until you qualify. If you want the things on the high shelf, you must stand on the books you read. With every book you read, you get to stand a little higher.

And the “biggie” that forever had an impact on me: “Success is something you attract by the person you become.” That phrase changed my life. Success is not to be pursued, but to be attracted by the person you become. Put your energy into becoming a better you, the best you. Learn the skills. Practice the skills. Attract the success.

Those few simple strategies and ideas helped change my life, forever, for the better. Thank you, once again, Mr. Shoaff.

How your to-do list is failing you.

This is one of the books that I'm currently reading. I bought it after catching a review that explained how the author, David Allen, makes a case against the traditional to-do list.

This caught my attention because I make a to-do list almost every day and it is rare that everything gets checked off - which is more than a little frustrating. To-do list enthusiasts would say to simply transfer unfinished tasks to the next day, so this is what I'd do and it works to a certain extent. Some projects just never seemed to get done, no matter how many times I'd write it down for the day, and after a couple of months I'd have a whole list of stuff that just wasn't getting anywhere.

What's a girl to do?

One of the reasons that David Allen says that our to-do lists don't work is because the stuff we're writing down isn't actionable. For example, writing "Get Project X done" in your planner is not going to work. Why? Because you can't actually do a project; you can only do the actions related to it. One project can equal 5 different action steps you need to take to actually complete that project. So next time when you're writing up your to-do list, ask yourself, "Are all these items actionable?" because you'll probably find that there's plenty of stuff that needs to be broken down.

For example, I really wanted to mail a package to somebody, but I couldn't get myself to take action on it.  I finally broke it down:
- schedule day when I can actually get to post office before they close.
- bring cash to buy stamps.
- go to grocery story and buy the right sized envelope.
- take time to sit down and look up the address of the person.

All these things needed to get done before I could "Mail Package." 
In other words, mailing that package wasn't an action step, it was a project that I need to break down into action steps.

Since we often don't take the time to consciously simplify our to-do stuff into clear and actual steps, our subconscious is silently driving us crazy trying to work on all the projects we have buzzing around in our mind, draining precious mental energy. This is what was happening to me. So I'm glad I've found a solution. I'm only on page 50 something in the book and it gives plenty more valuable pieces of advice. I've only shared one of its tips. Hope it helps. :)

Jack Canfield: Personal Power

Jack Canfield's Top Success Tips

1.) Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life. One of the greatest myths that is pervasive in our culture today is that you are entitled to a great life-that somehow, somewhere, someone is responsible for filling our lives with continual happiness, exciting career options, nurturing family time and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist. But the real truth is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live. That person is YOU.

2.) Be Clear Why You’re Here. I believe each of us is born with a life purpose. Identifying, acknowledging and honoring this purpose is perhaps the most important action successful people take. They take the time to understand what they’re here to do-and then they pursue that with passion and enthusiasm.

3.) Decide What You Want. One of the main reasons why most people don’t get what they want is they haven’t decided what they want. They haven’t defined their desires in clear and compelling detail...What does success look like to you?

4.) Believe It’s Possible. Scientists used to believe that humans responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, they’re learning instead that we respond to what the brain, based on previous experience, expects to happen next...In fact, the mind is such a powerful instrument, it can deliver to you literally everything you want. But you have to believe that what you want is possible.

5.) Believe in Yourself. If you are going to be successful in creating the life of your dreams, you have to believe that you are capable of making it happen...Whether you call it self-esteem, self-confidence or self-assurance, it is a deep-seated belief that you have what it takes-the abilities, inner resources, talents and skills to create your desired results.

6.) Become an Inverse Paranoid. Imagine how much easier it would be to succeed in life if you were constantly expecting the world to support you and bring you opportunity. Successful people do just that.

7.) Unleash the Power of Goal Setting. Experts on the science of success know the brain is a goal-seeking organism. Whatever goal you give to your subconscious mind, it will work day and night to achieve...To engage you subconscious mind, a goal has to be measurable. When there are no criteria for measurement, it is simply something you want, a wish, a preference, a good idea.

"Some people can't hold much happiness because they're too small..."

The Key to Making Life Unique and Worthwhile by Jim Rohn

The key to making life really unique and worthwhile is to share. Sharing has a certain unique magic of its own. Here’s what I learned in sharing ideas.

If you share an idea with ten different people, they get to hear it once, and you get to hear it ten times. So here’s part of self-interest for yourself, getting you even better prepared for the future. Share ideas. Share with your family, share with the people around you, share with other employees, share with your colleagues.

Because, by sharing, two things happen. Here’s what we call it. I don’t know how to explain it, but I do know it happens. And I don’t know all about how it happens or why it happens, it just happens.

When one person shares with another, two things happen. The audience could be transformed, and so could the speaker. If you share with someone else, they could be transformed. You may have dropped in at the right time. This may be their moment. They’ve got three numbers dialed into the lock already, and if you say it well and say it right you’ll be the fourth number that they can dial into the lock of their personal experience and the door will come open and there’s opportunity they never saw before. The person who hears could be transformed.

But here’s what else is exciting. The person who speaks could be transformed. Guess what we’re all looking for… transformation for our new life. The new life tomorrow, the new life this month, the new life next year, the new life this year.

The caterpillar one day says, “I think I was made for more than this crawling on the ground.” So the caterpillar climbs the tree, attaches himself to a leaf and spins the cocoon. Who knows what disciplined effort it takes to spin a cocoon. But something inside the caterpillar says, “I was designed for something more than being just a caterpillar.”

And then when the cocoon is ready and it opens up, out comes a butterfly that flies away, maybe singing, “I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky! I used to be a caterpillar on the ground, now I fly.”

I’m asking you to go through such a metamorphosis. I’m asking you often to go through a period where you say, “New skills, new things are waiting for me,” and part of this will come if you’ll translate for other people what you feel in your heart and in your soul. As awkward as your language might be at first, don’t hesitate to do it.

Here’s what sharing does… makes room for more. Key question: If the glass is full of water, can it hold any more? And the answer is yes. Yes, if you pour some out. So jot that down. If you want more, you’ve got to pour out what you’ve got, and then you have the opportunity to receive more.

Now, unlike the glass that remains the same size when you pour some out, it’s not so in the consciousness of human beings. Your capacity will increase the more you share. You’ll get bigger and bigger and bigger.

Now, why the self-interest wish to be bigger? Here’s why: to hold more of the next experience. Some people can’t hold much happiness because they’re too small, their thinking is too small, their activity is too small, they’re too small in their ability to share, they’re just too small. Can’t hold much. They’re too small.

But the bigger you get, the more you will receive. When happiness is poured out, you’ll get more. When joy is poured out on the nation, you’ll get more. When bounty is poured out from the economy, you will get more, if you share what you’ve got and become bigger and bigger and bigger.

A different (and more productive) perspective on keeping a journal.

What to Write in a Journal

Jim Rohn was the master of the journal. "If you're serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique individual—keep a journal. Don't trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down," Rohn said. As such, a journal can be many things to many people. Here are a few ideas for how to use a journal:

  1. Keep a tally of your daily 'wins' or accomplishments.
  2. Keep notes on an ongoing problem you're facing.
  3. Write down ideas. The Magic of Thinking Big author David J. Schwartz writes, "Every day, lots of good ideas are born only to die quickly because they aren't nailed to paper."
  4. Maintain your lifelong goal file. Writing down your aspirations in a journal helps build a file so that you can review your ideas over and over.
  5. Keep a to-do list for big projects. Day-to-day tasks can be scheduled in Outlook, but larger-scale projects are perfect for recording in a journal.
  6. Jot down inspirational quotes and why they impact you.
  7. Keep a dream journal bedside.
  8. Handwrite important facts, statistics or phone numbers to help cement them in your mind.
  9. Tear out a page and write a note to someone important in your life.

Why personal development?

Look at this picture. Why is that yellow ball smiling? He's smiling because he's discovered the power of personal development in helping him live a tangibly better life that moves him toward his goals.

Well, that's my interpretation of this picture anyway.

Here's what my favorite personal development coach has to say on the importance of continuous self-education:

"What and how we think determine much of what we are and what we become. This is why it is so important to continually, until the day we draw our last breath, develop our intellect. Sadly, for most people, the learning stops when they get their first job. But imagine what could happen if you kept up an accelerated learning curve for the rest of your life. What could you do, what skills would you develop, what unique philosophies would you adopt if you were one of the few who developed an appetite for constantly looking for good ideas, for new ways of looking at things, etc.? Commit today to that exciting process and see where it will take you."

Here we go!

"You do not simply exist, but always decide what your life will be and what you will become in the next moment."
- Victor Frankl
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