Friday, July 23, 2010

Is Summer So Bad? It’s Perfect!

So it’s July. A hundred degrees by breakfast. We start to consider moving to a research station at the South Pole. The heat becomes a droning monotony.

So let me ask you: how have you done with all your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions? Not making much progress right now, are you? Using the heat as an excuse? If you wait until it’s cooler, you’ll find more excuses. It’ll be autumn and you’ll be too busy. Or there won’t be enough time left in the year, so why not wait till January to start over?

This is the perfect time to START! Start establishing new habits, start working toward your goals, start being pro-active. You’ve got nothing better to do anyway, right? As Henry Ford reportedly said, you can’t build a reputation based on what you’re going to do. That means you actually have to do something. What are you really waiting for?

How does it feel when you look back over the last six months and see how far you are from where you wanted to be right now? Do you really want to keep feeling like that, year after year? There will always be another “next year.” There won’t be another “now.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Egocentric? Oh yes you are!

It’s okay. So am I. So is every human on the planet. Egocentric thought simply refers to our natural tendency to not examine our own thought processes too closely or critically.

But there are times when you ought to be aware of the tendency. It can manifest itself in many ways. If you were ever on the debate team in school, these might ring a bell.

• Egocentric blindness – ignoring facts and evidence that contradicts our beliefs or ideas. Basic denial, but in the more extreme dysfunctional forms, this is delusion.

• Egocentric hypocrisy – ignoring obvious discrepancies between what we say we believe and how we act. This could look like denial.

• Egocentric immediacy – over-generalizing immediate feelings and experiences to the extent that when a few things stand out as positive or negative, all our life seems positive or negative. Drama, anyone?

• Egocentric righteousness – seeing ourselves as completely right and possessing all Truth. For most people, this means playing “Yes, But” sometimes, because we’re convinced we know better than others. Taken to the extreme, this is a control freak who probably leaps to (incorrect) conclusions at light speed.

Recognize any of those? If you only see characteristics of others, read them again!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hey, Caffeine Junkies!

We all know by now that caffeine is technically a mind-altering drug, right? But it’s so easy to build an immunity, and the effects seem to mild that nobody really thinks of it that way.

Well, as with alcohol, there is apparently a limit – beyond which it really does begin to impair your mental functions.

If you’re consuming 250mg or more per day, it’s enough to mess with your sleep. It might not keep you awake at bedtime, but it might be preventing you from deeper sleep states, which means you’re waking up more during the night. For me, those are the nights when it seems like I’m always looking at the clock and rolling over and drifting off again. And again.

At 350mg, though, the brain actually is less able to focus on a specific task for a sustained period of time. How many students take on late-night study sessions, fueled with coffee or energy drinks? I know I did! It hasn’t killed anyone yet, but then studying is a lot different from brain surgery or rocket science – and those people are just as likely to be “under the influence.”

Kinda scary, huh? That much caffeine also makes it harder to manage stress, as if the lack of concentration wasn’t putting enough pressure on us!

FWIW, the average cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine per 8 ounces. The average cola has 45mg. Starbucks “De-Caff” coffee has20mg per 12 ounces, and their 12-ounce Frappuccino ® has 90mg! Every Excedrin has 65mg, while No-Doz has 200mg.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a job to do, and I need to concentrate when I do it. I’m not about to quit, but maybe it’s time to cut down.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Unappreciated At Work?

A recent BusinessWeek article had me nodding in agreement. Here’s the link:

The irony is that the companies who are the guiltiest don’t see these things as problems – they don’t feel a need to implement change even though they whine about poor performance and constant turnover. I’ve worked for a couple organizations that really could have benefitted from this article, and I’m sure many of you have, too!

So c’mon, people. Share your best example of organizational mediocrity with us. Don’t name names, please, but at least let us know how the company is slacking. If you’ve already left for greener pastures, tell us about their epic fail. If you’ve managed to open corporate eyes to the issue, tell us your secret!

Monday, July 5, 2010

If You Stopped Now (9 Milestones to Look Forward To)

According to medical experts, the benefits of stopping smoking begin nearly immediately, and don’t stop for over a decade! If you’re craving a smoke right now, take a deep breath and keep reading, instead.

• Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure decreases, your pulse drops to normal, and your circulation improves. In other words, your craving will mellow out. If you just had a ciggie, your body will try to start healing itself right away.

• Within 8 hours, the oxygen levels in your blood go up to normal and the carbon dioxide drops to normal.

• Within just 24 hours of your last smoke, you decrease your chance of a heart attack.

• After a few weeks, your circulation and lung function improve. No more wheezing!

• Within a few months, the hacking, fatigue, and huffing and puffing have decreased.

• Within a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by half.

• After five to ten years, your risk of stroke is the same as someone who never smoked!

• After ten years, your risk of lung cancer is cut in half.

• After fifteen years, your risk of heart disease or death from smoking is the same as someone who never smoked.

I know it’s hard. I know. But I know it’s worth quitting!

For info on quitting, contact your local Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart and Lung Association, or your physician.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Games

No, I’m not talking about any Olympics. Remember all the summer games you used to play as a kid? I remember going to Grandma’s house sometimes and all the cousins were there – we’d play Red Rover, Red Light – Green Light, Hide-and-Seek in the acre around the house, and by twilight, we’d have jars to collect fireflies in like glowing treasures.

Those old games can teach us a lot now. I’d like you to think about Red Rover. Remember that? Everyone would form two lines, facing each other, and link arms. Then one line would chant “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Brian (or April or Kevin or whoever) come over!” That person would have to leave his/her line and try to run through the other one. If he broke through, he could bring one person from the line back to his original line with him. If not, he joined the opposing line.

I present to you the idea that we all do this. A friend or coworker calls our attention to what might be a good idea. We leave our routine to try this new thing. It might work, and so we take it and introduce it to our other friends. But it might not work, and we get stuck with it anyway.

How about Hide-and-Seek? Adults play this too, and it doesn’t work, either. How many times can you go looking blindly for a simple answer to a problem? How often were you able to find everyone in their hiding spots? Rarely. Which is why we always had an “In Free” call – so the people we just couldn’t find could come in when we gave up. If a solution is evading you, it’s because you’re looking in the wrong places, alone.

One of my mentors, Gary Ryan Blair, has suggested we approach goals through a Red Light – Green Light perspective. He says that if we really look at our daily routines, we can easily see what things we should STOP doing, and other things we should START doing to make more progress. For example, I think I need to RED LIGHT hitting the snooze button so many times every morning. On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt to GREEN LIGHT more fresh produce in my diet! You get the idea.

As you plan for your day, consider what you can Red Light and what you can Green Light. Perhaps, at the end of the day, you’ll find you’ve created your own treasure. Bask in its glow!