Posts I feel are especially worth remembering

Over half of the US population uses supplements. Every year that number increases. Interestingly, there’s no correlation of improvement to public health.

Why is that? Is it that supplements don’t work?

No. Looking deeper, what researchers found is that when someone takes a supplement, say a multi-vitimin, they make a mental “check” that they’ve done their bit of good for their body for the day. Then when mealtime comes, they justify bad decisions. Or that when it comes time to exercise, they don’t feel so bad waving it off.

This is a sweeping psychological problem inhibiting real life progress.

We often do small, simple tasks, which have relatively little real impact, to justify putting off substantial tasks of critical value. We get a false sense of progress. We appease our emotions by doing what’s easy, and not what’s important.

There are real barriers surrounding the big tasks. Whether it’s ambiguity, time, difficulty, or fear. Little tasks mean little risks, but the bigger tasks are the ones that really need to be done.

So if you want to succeed in life, you need to buck up and do the work.

Rusty

(P.S. I recommend Steven Pressfield’s new book “Do The Work“, which is a practical walkthrough of getting the right stuff done. Even better, right now it’s free!).

Vince Lambardi teaches that loyalty is highest form of love, embues change efforts with uncompromising purpose

There are lots of reasons why you might seek change.  Often those reasons are centered around yourself.  Your personal betterment.

These are noble causes.  You are infinitely capable, after all, and you deserve the very best, those rewards earned through the persistent pursuit of positive change.

But there is yet a higher cause.  Something even nobler.

Love.

Vince Lombardi was the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, who led them to capture their first-ever Super Bowl.  In the wake of his incredible success and obvious leadership, Lombardi was highly sought after for corporate events.

He translated the principles of leadership and motivation he used on the football field into 7 principles for work and life.  Chief among these 7 principles was one that was surprising for the rough and tough football coach… love.  Love, he says, is more powerful than hate.

“The love I’m speaking of is loyalty, which is the greatest of loves.  Teamwork, the love that one man has for another and that he respects the dignity of another…I am not speaking of detraction. You show me a man who belittles another and I will show you a man who is not a leader…Heart power is the strength of your company.  Heart power is the strength of the Green Bay Packers. Heart power is the strength of America and hate power is the weakness of the world.”

Lombardi taught that when your efforts are fueled by love, you work harder, persevere longer, invest more, take greater care, and are less apt to give up.

Some years ago the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, renowned for providing some of the greatest care in the world for children battling cancer, was building a new facility on campus.

Something remarkable happened, a love-born relationship between the ironworkers and the children.  As the Boston globe reported:

“It has become a beloved ritual at Dana-Farber.  Every day, children who come to the clinic write their names on sheets of paper and tape them to the windows of the walkway for ironworkers to see. And, every day, the ironworkers paint the names onto I-beams and hoist them into place as they add floors to the new 14-story Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

“The building’s steel skeleton is now a brightly colored, seven-story monument to scores of children receiving treatment at the clinic-Lia, Alex, and Sam; Taylor, Izzy, and Danny. For the young cancer patients, who press their noses to the glass to watch new names added every day, the steel and spray-paint tribute has given them a few moments of joy and a towering symbol of hope. ‘It’s fabulous,’ said [18-month-old] Kristen [Hoenshell]’s mother, Elizabeth, as she held her daughter and marveled at the rainbow of names. It’s just a simple little act that means so much.’”

The children and their parents were certainly touched, but think of the ironworkers, each morning in the bitter cold and biting wind.  Their project had become more than just another building.  Their work now had meaning.  They had purpose.

This kind of purpose, when your efforts are somehow tied to something more than yourself, creates powerful, self-sustaining drive that you simply don’t otherwise get.

This year I helped coach my 14 year old son’s football team.  The prior season was a tough one, with zero wins.  Coming into the new season with that record created a powerful barrier to success – self doubt.  What the boys needed was something to believe in.  Something to rally around.

That something showed up on the first day of practice.  His name was Austin.  Austin was autistic.  But he had a huge heart and an infectious sense of humor (which was often manifested by his sneaking up on a coach and inflicting physical pain, which delighted the other boys.)

His parents didn’t have much by way of expectations, but were excited he wanted to play.  Austin didn’t have many friends.  Until now.

The team embraced him.  At first he would only practice a few plays at a time before losing interest, when he would go sit on the side and watch (or sneak up on coaches).  Over time he would stay in nearly the whole practice, with help and guidance and patience of his teammates, showing him where to stand and what to do.

We decided we wanted Austin to have a lot of play time.  He started, every game, as defensive nose guard, and cycled in and out every couple of plays.  His parents were ecstatic at the experience.

 

Austin was the rallying point, giving the team purpose born of love and loyalty

Austin lines up on defense… ready to take on the world.

 

We ended the season with 7 wins and 1 loss, and went to the championship game, where again, Austin started.

This was the same team that a year prior had not won a game.

While there were several things we worked on to overcome mental barriers, and be better prepared, in my mind nothing played a larger role, at least in gaining our initial inertia, than the fact that we had something to rally around.  We had a cause greater than ourselves.  We were motivated by love, by loyalty.

Love imbues your change efforts with unparalleled, uncompromising purpose.

Whatever your change efforts are, find a way to let them be led, or inspired by a cause greater than yourself, and you’ll find your rate of success increasing dramatically.

Let yourself be led by love.

 

 

Austin, the team's rallying point, imbued our efforts with purpose born of love and loyalty.

Austin comes out after a play, ecstatic at playing the game.

 

Rusty,

 

Vince Lombardi Biography - when pride still mattered(You can read all of Lambardi’s principles in his biography by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss: “When Pride Still Mattered“.)

As per my prior post, I was recently laid off, and just had my exit interview. With it comes a distinct sense of finality now. I have 7 kids and no job. It’s kind of stressful.

But stress can be good.  If taken appropriately, it can galvanize your resolve.  It motivates you, and gives you a sense of urgency.

It also tends to cause you to see things objectively, and whenever you are able to step back from your circumstances and view them from afar, you tend to gain valuable insight and perspective that helps you see where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there.

Of course, stress can be debilitating too. It can cause you to freeze in your tracks, or overwhelm your mind so that you fail to focus on what needs to be done.

The key to dealing with stress is in your perspective. If you have a strong foundational perspective of yourself, of where you’re going, and what you need to do to get there, then stress can become fuel that propels you, rather than a gravitational pull that holds you back.

So if you find stress debilitating, it’s a leading indicator that it’s time to reflect on your foundational beliefs, and revisit your life-launch systems.

Rusty

It’s 1943, and Dr. Abraham Maslow just wrote an article entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation”.  It would become one of the pivotal frameworks for understanding individual motivation and happiness.

The article appeared in Psychological Review.  It was an expanse of his book “Toward a Psychology of Being”, and later culminated in his book “Motivation and Personality”, in which it became known formally as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.

Maslow’s motivation theory was that we are motivated by a series of needs, which can be segmented into the following categories.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Layer 1:  Physiological Needs

These are the literal requirements for survival.  The basest and most fundamental of needs, without which, the body itself begins to fail to function.

These consist of things like breathing, food, water, sleep, homeostasis, and excretion.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Layer 2:  Safety Needs

If these needs are unmet, they tend to be the primary motivations for our behavior. We have a strong desire to feel security, balance, and equilibrium in our environment, often as measured by things like security of body, of employment, of resources, or morality, of family, of health, and of property.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Layer 3:  Love and Belonging

For the first time the needs extend beyond the individual to encompass their social network.  We have a strong urge to be connected, to belong, to socialize, and to feel wanted and loved.  These needs consist primarily of friendship, intimacy, and love.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Layer 4:  Esteem

Stemming from our need to associate with others, rises the need to feel accepted, appreciated, and respected.  If we get this kind of feedback, it fulfills our need for a positive self-esteem, develops confidence, and respect of self.

We want to feel valued, self valued and valued by others.  If we don’t, we tend to develop an inferiority complex, we doubt ourselves, lose faith and confidence, which can have a dramatically negative effect on our ability to accomplish things that are meaningful.

Maslow actually separated esteem needs into two sub-groups.  The first, lower consisted of the need for attention, recognition, status, fame, and prestige.  The higher sub-group is the need for self-respect, strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence, and freedom.

He distinguishes between these two sub-groups, because often individuals may end up receiving attention, recognition, prestige, etc., but until their internal view of themselves changes, the higher-subset of needs remains unchanged and unmet.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Layer 5:  Self-Actualization

Self-Actualization refers to the ability of a person to reach their full potential.  Interestingly, your vision of your potential changes as you move through this level.  The more you do, the more you reinforce your appreciation of your capabilities, leading you to reach ever higher, setting larger and larger goals, and accomplishing more and more.  This state of being is where the highest levels of fulfillment and individual happiness are achieved.

While there are some critics of this model, it seems to have largely withstood the test of time.  Much of the criticism is focused around Maslow’s suggested hierarchy, with others claiming that these needs exist and operate independently of each other, rather than being associated hierarchically as suggested.

Regardless, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides an interest foundation and intellectual framework we can use to discuss development, not only of the individual, but of teams, families, and whole companies as well.

Rusty

We need to restore within our lives those moments of quiet reflection.

Those serene periods of consciousness where we can actually hear our own voice, have our own thoughts, and let them have time to go somewhere.

Otherwise, the voices of others in our “data stream” (twitter, FaceBook, email, texts, etc.) so saturate our consciousness that the things we think, believe, and do are more theirs than ours.

We have limited digestive capacity, especially when it comes to information.

Gorging on the words and input of others, leads to a famine of self.

You lose track of who you are.  You forget your own voice.  You have an identity crisis.  You fail to differentiate yourself because you become a reflection of everybody else.  You start to live reactively, and not proactively.

Stop.

Be quiet.  Listen and think.  Step out of the data flow.  Get your bearings.  Hear your own voice.  Remember your own “why“.

Then, you’ll be ready to reengage with purpose, direction, and clarity.

It’s an inescapable principle to living a life of meaning and fulfillment.

Rusty

 

The principle of scarcity is simple.  We tend to only value things that are rare.  Gold, diamonds, vacations, winning the lottery, you get the idea.

We tend to see far less value in things that are more common, or are readily available, but that may actually be substantially more valuable, especially in accumulation.

Perhaps not when held out objectively, or when asked to analyze it, but when it comes down to day-to-day living, we “act” like we don’t value these things as much.  Things like sleep, food, our bodies, our environment, the air, our government, exercise, our churches, relationships, time, our families (parents, children, spouses, siblings).  You get the idea.

These are things that are monumentally more important than some of the things that we dedicate far more time to, or through our actions, seem to ascribe far more value to.

In our efforts to achieve greatness, to accomplish goals, to push ourselves to be better (all of which are of great value), we must be very careful to not forget the value of the things right in front of us.  Very often a more sound appreciation of what we have, is faster path to happiness than trying to acquire something more.

And when you can do both, then you’ve reached a state of perpetual living that is truly worth living for.

Additionally, the principle of scarcity can be reverse engineered.  Remember, the idea of Life-Engineering is not to just understand the principles that govern our world, our lives, our behavior, but to know how to appropriately employ them at the right moment to achieve some worthy objective.

The value in understanding the principle of scarcity is knowing how to use it to increase peoples perception of value in things that are important.

Remember the phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder”?  Scarcity.  It’s because sometimes relationships really do benefit from from a little “time off”.

Have you ever had a friend that felt like they could call you at any time, talk for as long as they’d like, and sometimes take an excruciatingly long time getting to the point.  Try introducing scarcity into the system.  Sometimes don’t be available, or when you are, let them know you’d love to talk, and have 15 minutes free right now before you have to go.  You’ll find that they not only get to the point, but they suddenly appreciate those 15 minutes, because they know free-time must be scarce for you right now.  Interestingly, you both come away happier.

A while back there was a psychological experiment at Harvard University where they had two photography classes.  In each class, students were required to take pictures of campus, then submit three, which would be blown up into gorgeous, huge photographs.  Both classes were told that they could keep one of their finished photos, but that the other two would be sent away.  One class was told that they had however much time to decide which one to keep, and if they changed their mind, it didn’t matter, they could swap at any time.  The other class was told they had to decide immediately, and could not change their mind.

Interestingly, when polled afterward, the latter class, the one with fewer options, expressed far more enjoyment in the class, than the first group.  Fewer choices led to more happiness.

Leaders will find their teams naturally respect them more, value their input more, and look up to them more, if they’re perhaps a little less available (not unavailable, at least not for too long).

The key is, if you find something that people should appreciate, but they don’t, try taking it away (at least for a while), or make it harder to come by.  You’ll find their appreciation for whatever it is will skyrocket, because of the law of scarcity.

Have you ever talked to someone who just found out they have cancer, and only have a few months to live?  I did last week, and it broke my heart.  Never has the principle of scarcity been more clear, when suddenly the thing you thought was most prevalent – time – is gone.  How starkly that tends to change your perception of what is valuable.

Life-engineering is about finding value.  Sometimes we have to make it, but sometimes we just have to open our eyes.

Rusty

Have you ever met one of those people who just always give?  They give and give as though that’s all they care about.

My wife is like this.  Regardless of how tired she is, or how much she’s already given, or how busy she is, OR how late it is, she is always giving.  Giving to our children, giving to me, giving to her friends, giving to the church, and even giving to people that she doesn’t even know.

There are lots of stories of these kinds of people, like this, and this, and this, and countless others.  These people seem to have a particular mindset – I call it Abundance Mentality.  It’s as though they feel like there’s this undiminishable reserve that there’s always enough to give.  Always.

I contrast that to the far more frequently encountered Scarcity Mentality.  Here we feel like we’ve got no more to give, or that we didn’t have enough to start with, or that we’re too busy/tired and we’ll give tomorrow.

The key thing to realize is this. This is not a difference in the availability of resources. It’s a difference of perspective. It’s another illustration of how we can control life, simply by choosing to perceive it differently… of how perception truly does shape reality.

So, do you know someone with Abundance Mentality?  if so, please share, so that we may all be inspired by their stories, that perhaps we can all give a little bit more.

Rusty