Monday, September 23, 2013

Let's Start a Revolution

Reading the news this weekend was an exercise in frustration. Though statistically we are supposed to be living in the most peaceful epoch of humankind the examples of barbarism, extremism, isolationism and selfishness are rampant. Additionally there is an undercurrent that hope is dead, compromise is not even considered and working for the greater good is something we read about in history books. It would be easy in the face of all this depressing news to give up and give in to the monomaniacal mindset that since everything is so bad, it's every man and woman for him or her self. Screw everyone else, it's about me! Welcome to the world of 2013.

Enough of this crap. It's time to start a revolution. There are enough of us who hope, who work with others and who want to change the world for good. Perhaps the challenge is that we have not screamed louder than the chorus of nay-sayers, nor have we pushed them aside in our building of a great world. But what do we need to dispel the darkness that obscures possibilities? I read a quote over the weekend that placed things in perspective:
"Optimism is the greatest form of rebellion."
In the face of all the negative news optimists are laughed at, ridiculed and shunted aside. Yet the belief that there are new possibilities, new ideas, and new energy is a rebellion against the tide. Rather than succumb to the overwhelming negativity or at best, apathy, we want more. By thinking of options and possibilities they don't magically appear, but we are more likely to see and grasp them when they do appear; more importantly we are willing to work for change because we believe it can happen.
This will take personal committment on the part of many of us. But what will that cost? Last Friday I spoke to a room of professionals of the power of optimism, the success it brings and the change it ferments. The claim is that optimists don't see reality as it really is. Well that's BS. The difference is that we see reality as it really is but don't allow it to win. We believe we can change reality for the good. Yet to many people optimists are obnoxious. So I asked the audience to become "obnoxious optimists." That may be the only way the world will hear another voice, another way and a powerful energy toward positive change. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Weather Forecast for Greatness

Doesn't weather amaze you? The variations of each day; the multitudinous minuscule changes that accompany each shift in the atmosphere. Yet underlying all of the variations is an incredible consistency that we rely on. The sun rises each morning. We rotate around it in annual patterns and mostly we can predict what will happen during the various seasons because of this consistency.

Pursuing a goal, learning a skill, or ascending to the next level in anything runs according to this pattern. Yes, we need intensity to achieve great things. But if we only rely on intensity we will burn out, give up, or frustrate ourselves eventually. We need both consistency and intensity to learn or achieve anything. However

Consistency is more important than intensity.

I've learned this important lesson many times in my life as I attempted new skills, tried to attain the next level of ability in an area, or worked to achieve a goal. I'd start with incredible intensity, work for hours in a day only to have the discarded carcasses of goals, dreams and tasks litter my little office. I'm really good at intensity... for a short period. 

Studying individuals who have succeeded in amazing ways I've noticed they start with consistency. Each day, or every other day they pursue their goal, practice their skill or chip away at their project. The consistency takes on a routine and the routine propels them to completion. It is only with the foundation of consistency that intensity works. When there are those inspired moments, when you have the time to dedicate a full day to a project, or when you are driven to complete a certain phase, that intensity only helps take the consistency to a higher level. The important thing is not to give yourself a break the next day, or the next week because you have accomplished so much. Return to your practice the next day and return to your consistency. 

Predictions in weather happen because we know averages, norms, seasonal changes and conditions that drive change. Achievement and personal greatness can also be seen the same way. Whatever you want to do, develop a consistent pattern of working at it every day or every other day. Allow the intensity to arise when it will, but return to the consistency. That pattern helps forecast your success. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Put Your Sneakers By The Door

I'm a runner. Okay, really I'm just a jogger and I usually plod along. But I'm most days you will find me outside running three to five miles. My friends ask me how I do it, how I get the discipline to run every day. Honestly, that's easy. It's become a habit. I automatically lace up my sneakers (mostly in the morning) and trek out just because it's become part of my day. I don't often think about the health benefits, or the extra food I might be able to eat. Running is just part of me.

I'm also a writer. Well, not really. I'm a blogger, who has written a few articles, a couple of books and most recently a chapter about Positive Psychology and high performance teams. However my writing, unlike my running, comes in fits and starts. At times I have to force myself to sit down and write something, anything, just to get going. But unlike those writers who say they have to write every day I havent' gotten in the habit. Why? I haven't put my sneakers by the door.

No, I haven't lost my mind. I've heard that in running one of the toughest things to do is lace up your sneakers. I disagree. The toughest thing is to put them on. When you place them where you can't miss them they are a constant reminder that they want to be worn. When I first went back to running a few years ago I put my sneakers in a very visible place as a reminder every day. Now I don't need to do that.

But what about something else you want to do? Whether you are a writer, a parent, a professional and there is something you want to improve on, or at least work at every day you can create habits. The easiest way to create a habit is to develop a ritual that you do on a consistent basis.

I've not created a ritual for my writing. For those who follow me on this blog I you know I haven't written for about a month. Though I know I write best in the morning I always find myself reading the news first, or scrolling through my emails and the next thing I know the morning has disappeared. Even running can be a distraction from my writing. A fellow artist told me the other day that he wakes up and starts writing. No distractions, no checking email. He has created the time and the space where he immediately puts words to paper (or words to screen). That might work for me. I need a visual reminder of what I want. As I open my laptop in the morning, or unscrew the top of my fountain pen I can enter a world of words and get lost in them.

Putting your sneakers by the door is a ritual reminding you to put them on. Placing your laptop or pen in a quiet area and going there the same time every day is equally as ritualistic. What is your ritual to the next thing you wish to do?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Announcing The Greatness Project Channel on Youtube

Well, it's time to try something new. What the heck, that's the way we learn right? So we are launching The Greatness Project on Youtube. We will still blog for those of us who are into the written word, but for those who like visuals we will try to place a weekly video about the latest research, findings or scientific studies that help all of us achieve our personal greatness.

Here is the link to the first video.  We are very open to feedback and suggestions, and we want to get our information out to a wider audience.

Scott and Jan