Leaders Helping Leaders

Friday, April 3, at 10:30 AM CT I’m inviting you to join me for a community discussion about our response to COVID-19.

I’ve been talking with dozens of small business owners who are up against the wall. We need to pull together to help each other.

This session will have NO SALES pitches, no products being sold. It’s my idea to allow people together online to talk about what they’re doing to get through this crisis.

You must register though because zoom seats are limited. You can register on my website at DougThorpe.com or click this link now.

https://dougthorpe.us/2xGtWMk

Consciously or Unconsciously – Live Well

The following is shared by permission from a dear friend, fellow coach, and down-right classy human being, David Norris.

I hope you find this to be of value to you today. David writes:

unconscious conscious

I recently posted this quote on several social media platforms and received a number of requests to translate and explain further.

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all driven to grow. We see a future that we want to live in, and we are either able to intentionally get there, or we cannot.

A major determinant of whether you will get there or not is simply that you actually believe that you can.

We carry around a huge amount of personal baggage from our past experiences that inform our attitudes about the future. In many cases, we develop a sense of learned helplessness that causes us to believe that we will never be able to get the future we want.

Self-Defeating Logic

FOCUS

This self-defeating logic is reinforced by our own inaction toward overcoming this baggage from our past. It becomes a pattern. We get used to not getting what we want. We come to believe that it’s normal and simply the way things are.

Before we can overcome these issues, we have to understand what they are. This is by no means an all-encompassing list of issues that characterize bad past experiences that can prevent you from realizing your own ability to move toward your desired future, but if you recognize yourself in any of these, it’s time to get to work.

  1. You have historically associated closely with, and strongly feel a part of a group of people who are not finding success in love, life or work.
  2. You have been so focused on simply getting by that you felt like you were unable to actually learn new ways to be better.
  3. You were brought up in a religious tradition or other circumstance that instilled you with strong feelings of guilt and shame but never focused on positive qualities like love, intimacy, vulnerability, and learning.
  4. All of your past relationships have caused tremendous pain and ended badly, leading you to believe that is simply an inherent quality of all relationships.
  5. You have plateaued when pursuing your goals, and you come to believe that you are simply not the kind of person who is capable of achieving the success you want, incapable of understanding why others are able to reach their goals.
  6. You have believed that you are just not trying hard enough when it comes to your goals, and later when you do try to commit stronger to achieving your goals with the same mindset and more effort, you expect things to turn out differently.
  7. You associate change primarily with things turning out badly. Therefore change is scary and something to be avoided. You may not be happy with the way things have been, but they could likely be much worse.

What these dilemmas all have in common is that they use the past as a basis for constructing the future.

They cause us to forget our own talents and abilities, to undermine our own skillfulness and resourcefulness. They squash our ambitions by prioritizing fear over risk and reward.

Universal Experiences

The experiences described above are universal. Every successful person has faced some variation or combination of these scenarios, and yet they have managed to get wherever it is that they were aiming at.

How does that happen? Is it that others simply have greater abilities or possess more potential? No. It is that they have not allowed the past to become a myopic lens for viewing the future. They have distilled experience into wisdom. They have recognized that failure and difficulty are necessary opportunities for stretching our abilities to enable growth.

The essential thing that you must do is to take the lessons you have learned from the past and put those lessons into practice by actually doing something. You will not overcome any one of these by letting the clock run out. There is no way forward in doing nothing.

Try Something Different

If what you have tried in the past has not worked, try something different. We are often drawn to work harder because we are choosing the more familiar path. That path is our default setting. It is often our first idea and the one we feel most comfortable setting forward with.

But growing is not about feeling comfortable, it is about moving forward through the thick grass toward foggy vistas and breaking through all of that to discover new territory.

The future does not live in the past unless you stay stuck where you are. The future is where you are going, not where you have been.

Wake up! Take control and consciously create your own fate. Live by design. Live today well!

Live today well!
David Norris

Three Stages of Life: Wage, Page and Sage

We make plans and have dreams, but then life happens. The day to day takes over, having a mysterious way of clouding those great visions we have for ourselves. Here’s a little bit of life coaching for you.

Compared to many of you who read my articles, I sit with a few extra trips around the sun. From that bonus advantage, I want to share some basic observations. For the really big things in life, I see three distinct phases or cycles. I call them WAGE, PAGE, and SAGE. Let’s explore each one.

Wage

In our early years, much of what we do is about the wage; finding a job to earn a paycheck so we can survive. Having a steady paycheck or not has its way of defining us. At least that is true very early in adulthood.

Those who are blessed with high paying jobs right out of school become the upper crust so to speak. Others who struggle with mediocre jobs do OK but live with a burning desire for more.

Then there are those who by chance or by choice do little to find meaningful work and become downtrodden; perhaps even welfare recipients.

A distinct class system develops. I don’t say any of this to start a socio-political debate but merely state the obvious. These conditions are something seen in most parts of the world. The wage we find defines us in many ways whether we like it or not.

In addition, much of our focus in this phase of life is about the wage. How much do I get? How far can it go? What are my essential expenses versus things I’d like to have? Choices about money have their own compounding effect. Smart choices make the money work to grow and prosper. It is said, “Don’t work for your money, make your money work for you.” Too few of us make the opportunity to live that kind of life.

Page

After we settle into the Wage portion of life, we begin the next phase. We start writing chapters in our own book of life, turning pages day by day. Relationships, marriage, childbirth (wedded or not), deaths of friends and family, relocation, social affairs, community involvement, and on and on.

Occasionally you’ll hear people talk about defining moments; those events in life that cause a radical change in perspective or circumstance. These too are stories we write.

Each page tells a story about who and what we are becoming. In a perfect world, the story being written follows some grand plan we devised. Sadly, in most cases, even that is not true.

Rather, the collection of pages seems almost by chance; pure opportunity or failure as things come along. The busy-ness of life writes the story rather than us writing it with an intention or specific direction.

Turning the page can be a celebration of a need for new direction. Prior choices may have written chapters you want to walk away from. So turning the page is a new lease on life. Finding a new way. That, of course, is good when it becomes necessary to do so.

Sage

Lastly is the Sage phase. Most world cultures have the notion of honoring the elderly. Age brings wisdom, right?

On one hand, it should. Life experiences, like those above, allow the building of a wealth of experience that can be a valuable teaching. Elders who have properly processed all of those life experiences should have good insight to share.

If the knowledge is shared with generosity and grace, then “sage” wisdom is the outcome.

However, far too many old people are just pissed off. Their choices and the pages in their books don’t tell very good stories. At least not the story they wanted to have happened. These folks miss the mark for becoming the sage advisor they could be.

Rather than being sought out, they are avoided. Younger people don’t even want to be subject to the hostility that is present.

The Really Interesting Pivot

If you think about it, you have choices at each of these stages. For your wage, you can choose to go or stay in a situation that is less than fulfilling.

For page, you get to choose how short or long most chapters of life may be. Sure some events may be beyond your control, like the onset of some disease that causes permanent health issues, but for the most part, you decide how long a chapter might be and when you should turn the page.

With becoming sage, again you get to choose. Will you let your life experiences be inspiring messages to the next generation or will you become some difficult personality? You choose.

Ultimately, this journey we call life is a series of choices. Choose wisely, my friend!

Question: Which stage do you see for yourself right now? Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

10 Things You May Not Know About Procrastination

procrastination

Yes, PROCRASTINATION. We all deal with it at some time or another. Have you noticed that the degree of procrastination often is directly proportional to the size of the task? Well, it is for me.

procrastination

So there I was, inside of 12 hours before press deadline. Normally, I am well ahead of these articles by now. (You see, I really do feel an obligation to deliver something of value in return for your time reading my posts.)

On the way home from church, I mentioned to my wife that I was behind the deadline. She said, “I have an idea for a topic.”

To this, I responded, “Great, let me hear it.”

Procrastination!” was her reply.

Ouch, really? “Is that what you think I have done here?” was my manly retort (said in a tender, loving way of course).

She smartly said, “No, but it’s a good topic you don’t write enough about.”

OK, deal! I agree. Inspiration!

Here’s the Truth

Psychology Today reports:

“Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available. Procrastination in large part reflects our perennial struggle with self-control as well as our inability to accurately predict how we’ll feel tomorrow, or the next day.

Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that’s their way of justifying putting things off. The bright side? It’s possible to overcome procrastination—with effort.”

In an article written by Hara Estroff Marano [first published in August 23003, later reviewed November 20, 2015]  she writes:

“There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.

Why would people do that? I talked to two of the world’s leading experts on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Neither one is a procrastinator, and both answered my many questions immediately. [Here are the answers]”

  1. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don’t pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don’t cash gift certificates or checks. They file income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.18496652_s
  2. It’s not trivial, although as a culture we don’t take it seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other countries because we are so nice; we don’t call people on their excuses (“my grandmother died last week”) even when we don’t believe them.
  3. Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. “Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up,” insists Dr. Ferrari.
  4. Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What’s more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.
  5. Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to—a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse.
  6. Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact, they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately, they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.
  7. Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don’t take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.
  8. There’s more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:
    • arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait until the last minute for the euphoric rush.
    • avoiders, who may be avoiding the fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
    • decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.
  9. There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.
  10. Procrastinators can change their behavior—but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn’t necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.

47216650_s

Here’s the Fix

For many of us dealing with the occasional bout of procrastination, we just need to turn up the self-discipline. For me, I need to do these things:

1. Eliminate distractions; refocus. I need to remind myself of the significance of the task at hand.

2. Reduce the rationalization that happens when I make excuses for letting something slip. The better answer is ‘NO, there is no excuse. Get busy!’ As for this article, my rationalization sounded something like ‘Gee, it’s the holidays, there are bowl games and family…’. Nope, all bad excuses.

3. Ask for accountability. I did this today by sharing with my wife that I was off schedule. Getting her input got me jump started toward the goal.

For anyone who has committed to a new plan for 2016, procrastination may be the very first obstacle you face. Take these ideas to heart. Be ready to battle this enemy right from the start.

Think about these quotes:

[shareable cite=”Victor Kiam”]Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. [/shareable]

[shareable cite=”Denzel Washington”]I’d be frightened by not using whatever abilities I’d been given. I’d be more frightened by procrastination and laziness. [/shareable]

[shareable cite=”Don Marquis”]Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. [/shareable]

[reminder]What do you do to fight procrastination?[/reminder]

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

If you enjoyed reading this article, please recommend and share it to help others find it!

Call To Action

If you want to increase your influence as a manager, business owner, or community leader and learn some valuable life hacks, then subscribe to my private mailing list.

Click here to subscribe right now!

The Margins in Life

Life Margin - Changing Lives

Do you think about margins in life like a business thinks about profit margins?

For business, the different between its total/gross revenue (income) and its expenses is its margin. Without margin, you can never grow. Clearly a negative margin means you are going backwards, headed to bankruptcy or liquidation.

Life Margin - Changing Lives
Life Margin – Changing Lives

Life follows a similar paradigm. While few of us think about margins in life, the dynamic is still present.

Life margins give us a better sense of balance between work, life and faith. Rather than seeking the elusive notion of life balance as its own end game, you can seek margins and a sense balance becomes a pleasant reward.

In his excellent book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson, M.D. describes margin like this:

Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.

Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin. Most people are not quite sure when they pass from margin to overload. Threshold points are not easily measurable and are also different for different people in different circumstances. We don’t want to be under-achievers (heaven forbid!), so we fill our schedules uncritically. Options are as attractive as they are numerous, and we overbook.

If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. But we don’t have such an indicator light, and we don’t know when we have overextended until we feel the pain. As a result, many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life pre-scheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.

When we run at full speed all the time, we burn out. Our tanks get empty. We suffer mental and emotional breakdowns. I’m not trying to over-dramatize this issue, but talking about these extremes gets us to a better understanding.

Here’s an example. I am overwhelmed at the number of young people who, when asked “how are you doing?”, respond “I am so tired!” Is that you? I ask tired over what?

Yes, maybe you have filled your time with countless obligations to do things, running here and there. Young, growing families feel the tug of this tiredness for having chased little kids all day long. I get that (been there, done it).

Creating margin starts with better management of obligations. The first key is to say “NO” on a regular basis. Just stop taking on all the commitments that others may place on you.

Here’s why this is important

Being a man of faith, I submit to the idea that we are all here for a bigger purpose; a divine appointment. We need to be good stewards of the things God has given us. This includes not just money, but time, relationships, knowledge, and wisdom and so much more.

We all have the mandatory commitments; job, family, and perhaps church. On top of those demands, if our days are consumed with less than meaningful trivia, we are not being good stewards. Saying no to certain people and events gives us margin to use for the greater good, which, ironically, often involves other people and events.

Therefore, having margin means we still have something to give to the greater good; our family, our friends, or our communities.

When we give in this way (again, it’s not all about money) we receive the blessing of knowing others have been helped. Getting outside of ourselves and sharing life with others brings the sense of balance. It rewards you with a new found energy for life.

I was fortunate to live this path in 2008. During the U.S. financial crisis and recession, I had to close a company I had worked for 5 years to build. It was brutal both emotionally and financially. At the bottom of the trough, I chose to create a non-profit for job seekers, called Jobs Ministry Southwest (JMS). We were a non-denominational, faith based ministry. While I could have been overcome with grief about losing my company, I chose to adjust my margins. I made an intentional decision to get out of myself and do something for others.

JMS opened in September of that year. Then, over the next several years, we served over 2,500 professionals who were in transition. They had suffered life altering job loss. JMS helped them through those changes.

Creating more margin involves making some tough choices. When those choices are made for the right reasons, not selfish ones, you will be blessed by the outcome.

Thanksgiving at Thirty Thousand Feet

Here are my thoughts as we move into the celebration of the Thanksgiving season here in the U.S.

At thirty thousand feet, so many things seem so clear. The roads that wind across the landscape seem to make perfect connections with each and every stopping point. What could seem to be insurmountable obstacles in the road, like curves, hills and turns, merely melt away when seen from such an altitude. Though the obstacles remain, it becomes ever so clear what and where the paths might lead.

aerial

Unfortunately, our daily lives aren’t readily witnessed from a vantage point such as this. Only God has that view. We, as the mortal souls we are, slide along through this life, bumping and jogging along the trail that has been laid before us not knowing for sure what will be around each bend.

We strive to anticipate with great effort in planning, protecting and prodding to move along. Some people choose to find a comfortable spot along the way and simply stop their journey. The surroundings seem nice, the climate is good and comfort is found. Yet they stop short of an even better place that might be discovered just around the bend if they had only been willing to move ahead.

Others forge ahead recklessly ignoring warning signs and safety markers along the way. These people careen out of control around curves or dash headlong into gullies and ravines along the way. Crumpled and bruised they crawl from the ditches of life only to resume their haste, and achieve full speed once again.

For all the time and energy, all the hassle and waste, for all the success and all the failures, I believe the most tragic of all adventurers along life’s winding way are those who choose to make the journey never seeking nor experiencing deep, meaningful love and peace.

On the outside, they seem so in control. Certain material success, maybe even fame and fortune mark their journey. Others travel quietly, unassuming, never being noticed by anyone else, making no waves along the path. Yet from deep within their heart is a longing for a connection with just one someone with whom they could share the journey.

At first the desire is very real, but then they are able to push it aside or press it deep within their soul so as not to have to speak to it. A pattern develops which some call denial. It becomes easier to say “I did it my way” than to acknowledge the ache that pounds from within. For to admit means having to deal with it.

Yes, it might be nice to see all the answers and know the final destination, just as it can be seem from 30,000 feet above Earth. But somehow, it seems that would eliminate the surprise, making the living of this life just an exercise in locomotion.

I believe God has not made us for the destination. Rather, He has created us, each uniquely and wonderfully made, for the journey. And I also believe this journey is not meant to be lived alone.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for those loved ones, family and friends who make the journey a joy and a blessing. While not every step is smooth, having those good people along for the ride is a wonderful treat. Hug somebody you love or admire. Let them know their worth in your life.

Power Trippin’

As managers, many face the challenge of handling the power that comes with our position. All positions of management have some notion of power attached, whether the person filling the role deserves it or not. The fact that they were selected to be the manager gives them that power.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Use wisely the power of your position.[/shareable]

What happens when power is abused? Power in the wrong hands can be disastrous or sometimes, just comical.

Read morePower Trippin’

New Managers – Begin with the End in Mind

This is one of the wisest teachings I have heard in a long time. Anyone who has been appointed as a new manager should be thinking about this vital aspect of the new role they are playing at work.

Step #2 in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” is ‘begin with the end in mind’. I was thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me that many things do not end well.

There are the obvious examples like divorces, car crashes, job loss, health issues, and financial change (downward). Then there are the things like our favorite TV shows that came to an end. Shows like Lost, Friends, Fraser, and Boston Legal all had pretty good endings. But some very successful and well admired shows had really bad endings; think fade to black on The Sopranos. How often have you seen a movie or read a book and said “gee, I didn’t like the way it ended”?

Read moreNew Managers – Begin with the End in Mind