A Question of Balance

Featured

11,910,000,000

This is how many results Google told me it had when I searched for Starting Your Own Business. It’s a popular topic. It seems everyone has an opinion on what it takes from going to where you are at to getting where you want to be.

Make sense?

A lot of it is sound advice – Incorporation options, types of insurance you might need to carry for your business. Stuff like that.

But ya know what?

I saw nothing about creating balance in your life BEFORE you decided that you’d be be hob-nobbing with Elon Musk.

Nothing.

Cue the crickets chirping

Okay, I didn’t review all 11,910,000,000 results, but you get my drift.

I’ve been doing what I do for the past twenty years. I have helped all sorts of people, all shapes and sizes and all with creative ideas. I’m not sure what that makes me in the pantheon of coaching and I don’t think it’s bragging to say I’ve learned a thing or two during those twenty years.

So………… Before you hop in full-tilt-boogie, print up business cards and sink a ton of money into one of those a-million-dollars-in six months programs, consider doing this first.

Create some balance in your life!

When I conduct a discovery session, I ask a question.

Tell me what you do to cope with the stress in your life? Do you remember the Atari game Asteroid? You moved a cursor back and forth while enemy space ships hurled bombs at you from on high. The more bombs you destroyed, the quicker the next wave came at you. The more you concentrated on destroying all the bombs the more bombs came.

Does that sound like your life? Hint, hint. It sure does sound like mine. Know what I mean Vern?

I get a lot of stock answers. I run, I golf, I take long walks.

I ask if there is time during the day for you to close your eyes for ten minutes or so and focus on relaxing; centering, setting an intention or simply allowing yourself an oasis in time to relax. I ask if they are open to learning how to practice that technique effectively.

It’s called meditation and you don’t have to hover off of the ground and chant or wear a flowing robe while burning incense. Unless that’s your thing. It allows your mind and body to shift into neutral to create a restore point of clarity.

Sorta the drain cleaner of the spiritual realm.

Starting and maintaining your business will require you to test the limits of your internal resources. Imagine if you never changed the oil on your vehicle or never replaced the filter on your furnace. In a while things would break down.

When we are stressed,tired and frustrated we make mistakes.

Lemme tell you a story.

A few years ago I was working on a promotion for Small Business Week. I was offering potential entrepreneurs a special coaching package. I worked on it for a couple of weeks and published it with a link to my special offer. I waited, and waited, and waited.

While I was crafting my path to fame I was juggling at least three other projects and, oh yeah, I was way too busy to shift into neutral and meditate. Too busy! Business is Business. That hippy stuff can wait. Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos don’t meditate. Do they?

After two weeks I had zero responses. Huh! These people must be half crazy not to take advantage of this offer.

The phone rang. (No kidding it really did!) A friend called to ask me if I knew that you can’t insert a link to another page and then save the page as a JPEG file. (I swear to God he was stifling a laugh.) It won’t connect. When I hung up I checked the page. He was right. No one could register because I was too busy to sit down, chill out and think things through.

I’m a By-God-Entrepreneur.

The only person I could blame was me!

Ever done that? Blamed yourself for something and then slid down the murky slide of self doubt. It’s like getting muck stuck on your shoes in the horse barn. The harder you try to get it off, the messier it gets.

I am going to ask you to do something for yourself for one week. I am asking you to remove the distractions when you’re working on a project or offering and turn your phone off!

I learned a technique a few years ago that is a big aid in organizing my time and being productive when I need to be productive.

Yup, it’s an egg timer. When I sit down to work on a project or prepare for a coaching session I set the timer for thirty minutes. When the bell dings I stop and walk away from my desk and whatever it is I’m working on.

I am able to disengage.

That’s one example. I’m sure you can discover other ways throughout your day to take some time and recharge your batteries. You don’t need to become a Zen master or a yoga guru to get the benefit of creating an oasis in time.

Best of luck to you and I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together!

Featured

It Begins With a Dream

Saturday was a gorgeous day in a string of gorgeous days we’d experienced over the past week. I decided it was time for a visit to my local farmers market.

Apparently so did everyone else.

The place was packed – Like wall to wall packed. I drove around for five minutes before I found a place to park. Then I had to walk a block to the venue.

As I was approaching the market I heard music. Not recorded music. Live music. A voice and a guitar. Huh, that’s new, I thought.

I came over a small rise and saw a sea of people all angling for the best spot to get their onions and tomatoes.

In the corner was a young woman sitting on a stool, oblivious to the throng around her. She sat with her eyes closed playing her guitar and singing. When she finished one song she took a drink of water and launched into the next song.

I noticed something. No one else was listening to her play. They were pushing, shoving, waving to friends and neighbors and floating past her. No one seemed to notice, much less care.

While I watched her perform I noticed the crowds reaction didn’t appear to phase her. She wasn’t playing for anyone but herself. She knew that one day, in some way, maybe someone else would notice and then a whole bunch of someone else’s would find her message and find that her style resonated with them. She was living her dream and it was her dream. No one else’s. You could tell by the look on her face that it gave her great joy.

We talk a lot about joy and passion and stuff like that but I wonder do we really tap into who we are and what we’re doing in our own unique way?

I’m driving home and thinking about all the times I stuffed my dreams in a neat receptacle and followed the flow of the crowd. I mean, it made me some money but it didn’t feed my soul. Being a child of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I realized, much to my chagrin, that I’d sold out.

I fell off the tracks when I didn’t immerse myself in my dream. I kept it at arms length. That way, it couldn’t challenge me. It couldn’t laugh at me. I stood back and poked at it, refined, made excuses for it but never asking it to dance with me.

I was an observer, not a participant.

That was my ah-ha moment.

I’ve taken a step back and paused. For someone who’s been working since he was twelve years old that’s a damned hard thing to do. It’s not in my DNA.

For the past six weeks or so I’ve been on a conscious journey to get back to my roots, back to where the dream began. It’s getting back to where I started. A kid sitting in a park, writing poems for people. Someone who believed in the shear joy of life and everything it entailed. Someone who got excited and all jazzed up about the smallest of things that caused other people to whisper about his sanity.

Someone who is happy and fulfilled.

Someone who drinks in the small things in life and unpacks their joy.

In his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, author Joseph Campbell shares something called The Hero’s Journey. It describes our journey from the known into the unknown and creates a new known. That journey, the journey each of us makes a dozen times or more in their lives is a journey fraught with danger, perils and dissappointments.

It’s also a journey filled with amazing discovery and unbridled joy.

I don’t expect you to be as jazzed as I am, but if you are – Welcome to my dream.

Stay tuned, there is more to come.

The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone, And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Featured

To Thy Own Self Be True

The last full conversation I had with my dad was a joke.

Seriously, it was a joke. It was a groaner and I guess I should have locked it in my memory for posterity and tender memories and all that stuff but I didn’t. That wasn’t my dad.

Six days later he went to be with the Lord. He’d been living with a host of ailments for the last 6 months and contrary to those stories you read about 95 year old’s running their first marathon your body begins to wear about when you are getting ready to turn 88.

His was. Wearing down that is.

He called me on a Saturday evening and said he had a joke to tell me. He’d heard it from my sister. It was unusual for him to call. My mom always made the phone calls and when you’d ask how dad was feeling she’d pull the phone away from her ear and shout:

Tommy, John wants to know how you’re feeling!

Get my drift.

So I was taken by surprise. He told me his joke, we talked about sports for a few minutes and he said That’s all I needed. Talk with you soon.

But we didn’t. three days later my sister Mary called and said those words I didn’t want to hear. You probably need to come up here. I don’t think it’s going to be much longer.

I am not for certain how many years I have left. I hope quite a few, but when you’re almost 66 you start thinking about your end game.

I don’t act 66. I prefer to associate with younger people and I’m not much for sitting around thinking about the old days. There are folks I hold in my heart but I’m always looking ahead not backward.

That’s who I am. That’s who I’ll always be

I had a good teacher.

My dad was one thing, consistent.

You always knew where you stood and he was easy to anticipate. He never changed. Ask him a question and in most case you already knew the answer

He was we are fond of saying comfortable in his own skin.

I thought about him the other day. I was talking with a coaching client and he told me that one day he just wanted to be like…….

My in box is full of people wanting me to be just like them and for a kings ransom they will show me how it’s done.

But really, they can’t.

You see I cant be anyone other than who I am, and who I was meant to be. It’s like our DNA. There may be similarities with other folks but basically you and I are one of kind.

No matter how hard we try to emulate fill in the blank, we never will.

Look, I been there and done that and I can tell you the main reason I was so attracted to someone elses success pattern: It’s a whole lot easier then carving out your own path.

But in the end I was never as successful as the other guy.

We invest a lot of time and resource in running away from ourselves and becoming something we were never intended to be to begin with.

The key to your success is pulling apart your own DNA and seeing what suprises it has in store for you.

A Look In The Mirror

I saw Brandy this morning.

That’s right. You probably don’t know who Brandy is.

Brandy is a trainer at my gym.

A few years back I took a class she taught called Ab-Blast. Mostly, it was a grueling hour of contorting your body into all sorts of strange positions twice a week for 5 weeks in an effort to strengthen your core muscles.

I was ready to quit after the first class but I’d paid sixty dollars to be there and a small voice inside of me that sounded an awfully lot like my dad kept shouting You made a commitment!

I was the oldest person in the class. Oldest by a few miles. My partner for our warm ups was a twenty something who had enough energy and enthusiasm to light up a small town.

She told me I reminded her of her grandfather and kept telling me to take it easy.

I toughed it out until the last week. The last week was devoted to forming and holding a plank. If you aren’t aware, a plank is when you put your entire body parallel to the ground, lift up about six inches and hold it for thirty seconds. It’s supposed to strengthen your core muscles. Build character and all that stuff.

Uhm Okay.

It wasn’t working too well for me. I kept falling flat on the mat after about 3 seconds, so I devised a work around, so -to-speak.

I sorta scooted my butt up in the air a bit so I looked like an bridge rather than a plank. It took the pressure off of my core muscles and made me feel a bit more comfy.

Comfy not healthy

Brandy was walking around encouraging us and when she got to me she leaned over really close and whispered

The only person you’re cheating, John, is yourself

With that she firmly put her foot on my lower back and pushed.

Embarrassed?

Humiliated?

Sure was.

What happened early that morning long ago has never left my thoughts for very long.

Taking the short cut, cheating, phoning it in – call it what you will only provides us with a false sense of who we are or what we can do. I’ve come to discover it is one of the more selfish things I can do.

There have been times I’ve been tempted to take the short cut and when I do I remember what she told me. The only person I am cheating is me. I’m robbing myself of an opportunity to grow.

I’ll leave it there

Oh yeah. I don’t see Brandy very often anymore but when I do I make it a point to thank her. She just smiles.

Wisdom comes when we least expect it

Namaste.

5 Reasons to Meditate (And how it can help your life and career.)

I have learned that everything – our successes and our failures; our hurdles forward and our reluctance’s to grow – all emanate from the relationship we have with ourselves. It is the bruises and bumps that our soul’s endure that either motivates us or holds us back in our lives, and our careers

I heard this a number of years ago when I was on a retreat. I found it to be true. When I choose to be open and explore who I am and why I am – no matter how painful that may feel at the time – it allows me an opportunity to heal and to grow.

When I have a discovery session with someone I ask is if they have a meditation practice or carve out some quiet time for themselves to reflect on what’s going on in their lives. When they learn to seek themselves through meditation, they are always surprised how things begin to flow for them.

Over the years I have discovered five benefits of creating a successful meditation practice

Meditation can help deal with stressful situations  I have practiced meditation since the late 1980’s. It is my go-to remedy when I feel the muscles in my shoulders and lower back slowly start to tighten until I am the last person you want to be in a room with. Stress breeds stress which……… wait for it……….. breeds more stress. When I’ve worked myself into a dither over something I probably don’t have any control over to begin with I take a pause.

Okay, on top of being really good looking I read minds.

So you want me to leave my workplace and go off in a corner and chant for an hour?

Well, not exactly.

Close your eyes, inhale a deep breath, hold it until the count of five and then slowly exhale, five times.

But isn’t stress natural and inevitable? 

Yup, it is but if we learn how to deal with stress and create strategies to control it we are in control of how it affects us.

While you am concentrating on your breathing it disengages your mind for a short period of time. The whole exercise takes less than a minute.

Which leads me to my next point.

Meditation can help increase focus and attention. The phone is ringing, your smart phone is dinging, and three people are impatiently waiting to dump their issues in your lap. Your head is spinning.

I used to drive myself crazy trying to win a war I had no business fighting.

I started taking time at lunch to relax and rest my mind. I didn’t have a smart phones with apps. I had a cassette recorder with some guided meditations on tape and I’d sit in the car and take some time to reboot.

A smart phone and a good set of ear buds can get you focused and back to dealing with priority issues quicker than you think.

Meditation can boost your creativity Contrary to centuries of mythology the quickest way to advance your career is not to marry the bosses children or suck up to an executive vice president. It’s learning to think and approach an issue from a different perspective.



It’s a great way to get noticed, but…………… (There is always a but ain’t there!) you have to clear out all the useless traffic that’s cluttering your mind like the 405 on a Friday afternoon! When we’re not thinking clearly, we cant focus on creating solutions and we shut down and rather than having the confidence to take a risk with a suggestion or solution that no one else has thought of.

The operative word here is thinking clearly. Daily meditation can help you locate that nasty old clutter and remove it so you can focus on your natural creativity.

Meditation can help overcome anger and confusion I cant’ think of anything worse than being stuck!  First we get frustrated, then confused and if we don’t work our way through the issue, we get angry.

The anger is directed at ourselves because we haven’t figured out an answer to our dilemma. (Even though we like to think it’s because our fourth grade teacher never called on us.)

There are all sorts of modifiers we use when we want to describe being angry. What they mostly say is that our internal field of vision is cloudy and uncertain. Meditation allows us the opportunity to explore our inner self and create ways to deal with our anger and confusion. C

Meditation is a practice not an event. Okay technically this isn’t a benefit but if we don’t embrace this notion right from the beginning we are apt to crash and burn – big time.

When I began meditating some thirty plus years ago I almost stopped after a few days. I had this notion that I should be deep in some foggy thought process for at least an hour each day and wipe my mind totally blank during that time. Otherwise, I wasn’t doing it the right way.

Fortunately a good friend set me straight.

Like everything new, meditation takes time to get the hang of. I started with five minutes each morning and worked my way up to ten. Some days I was surprised when the my clock went ding and some days I kept wondering if the darn thing was busted. Ten minutes! It seemed like 10 years. 

Today I meditate for no longer than thirty minutes each morning.

Clearing our minds? Some days its a breeze. Some days it’s a struggle. What I’ve learned is to hang in there, brush my thoughts away very gently and focus on my breath.

I’d suggest you begin with some guided meditation. It’s like learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The key is to create a practice that benefits your life the most. When you do you will begin to see some positive changes in your life:

You’ll have more energy

You’ll focus on your goals

You’ll open yourself to more self development. 

I promise.

What “New Marketing” Really Means

Can we talk?

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the “new” marketing for some time.

Why?

I know some really honest people, chock full of integrity, not so much concerned about earning seven figures as they are getting paid for the value of what they share with the rest of us and as importantly making a contribution. Remember that passion and enthusiasm that got you started?

Then, there are the others.

I thought they’d largely vanished. They are the folks who still poke and prod, get up in our faces and suggest that we never really belonged at the cool kids lunch table anyway. They’ve located our pain and they have the answer.

I had an experience the other day that caused me to write this post.

YouTube videos are my friends. Any time I’m stuck I’ll do a search and viola, there are a host of experts willing to share their thoughts with me. Some of them have made me look like I knew what I was doing , especially when it came to fixing things around the house

The other day I was interested in learning how people were using YouTube videos as a way to build their email list. After a few abortive tries I found one that looked pretty interesting. I hit pause, went for a cup of tea, settled in and punched “resume.”

The content was exactly what I was looking for and I even registered to receive the free gift the presenter offered if I’d share my email address.

I did. I know the drill. To get something you have to give something. No problem.

I knew what was coming next. It’s called the squeeze. You have my attention, you’ve plied me with all sorts of free stuff, now it’s time to reach into my pocket……….. Again, I do not have a problem with this.

It’s called sales and it is not a dirty word.

I read the landing page I was sent to. Again, good stuff. But………….Not anything I needed right now. I book marked it for future reference. Just in case.

Now, people respond to rejection one of two ways:

When I get notice through my provider that someone didn’t click though or left in the middle of reading something I’ll respond by telling them I’m sorry they aren’t interested and one last time in an appropriate way, share the benefits of what I am offering. I close by telling them I hope they enjoy my newsletter or blog or whatever it is they gave me access to their email for.

See, that email address is gold. They may not need the program I am currently offering but down the road something may be of interest to them and they may investigate further.

(Did I tell you one of my motto’s is “Measure progress with a calendar not with a stop watch!”)

The second way of responding to rejection was how I was treated. I received an email that suggested I’d never reach my life or business goals as long as I made the choice not to enroll. As a matter of fact, I was told I was now part of the 99% who didn’t want to work hard and make commitments. It was my loss.

The cool kids lunch table was getting father and farther away.

But ya know what? That’s how they wanted me to feel. They wanted me to feel hurt. They wanted me to lift my tear stained eyes and admit I had it all wrong.

They were my hope and salvation.

There was still time to act.

Let me ask you something?

How do you want to be treated?

Do you want a thank you, see you later, hope we can connect down the road and if not no worries.

Or

Do you want to be told you’re a quivering mass of failure who’ll never amount to anything.

The old way of marketing suggests I find your pain and exploit it. The new way of marketing suggests I find your strengths and passions and celebrate them.

There might even be a happy dance involved.

New Career Creations blends the disciplines of business, career and life coaching to assure their clients have the best opportunity to be successful in all areas of their lives and careers. We partner with you to create those possibilities. A Heroes Journey is published on Tuesday at 7:30 AM CST. You can contact us at John@NewCareerCreations.com

The Wisdom of My Father

I never heard him drop the F-Bomb

He didn’t need to.

He never went along with the crowd and if the prevailing notion of the day lined up with what he believed, so be it. If it didn’t, as he often said, “tough toenails.”

He knew a lot about a lot of things but you never heard him make you look bad. If he thought you were wrong he’d put it in the form of a question and allow you the opportunity to back track a bit and save face.

In the fifty seven years that I knew him, he only recommended one book for me to read. It was Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. He, himself, never had a problem in that area.

When I was old enough I worked summers in the factory he began his career in as a timekeeper. When people saw my name they’d ask me if “Are you Tom’s boy?” I never heard a negative word about him. This high praise came from men who found fault with the good Lord himself.

Don’t ever try to negotiate something with him when he believed his position was the right one. He was never mean or nasty. He simply held his ground and if you didn’t agree, after awhile he’d shake your hand and walk away. No hard feelings.

You could never convince him to do something he didn’t believe 100 percent in. Contrary to my mothers exhortation NOT to have opinions, my father had them and he held firm to them.

If you are thinking I am beginning to make a case for sainthood you’d be wrong. I came of age in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He and I disagreed on a lot of things especially the War in Vietnam. It made for some interesting dinners.

Looking back, as loud as those arguments became he never made them personal. He would tell me my thinking was flawed but he never attacked me as a person. He told me when I was older I’d look at things differently.

My dad believed in three non-negotiable things.

Your faith in God,

Your family

Your career.

Those were the three things that came before anything else.

I was working third shift when Joan called to tell me my dad had been hospitalized. He’d become violently ill in the middle of the night. It could be his heart. They were running tests. (Turned out to be his gall bladder.)

That morning I reached him in his hospital room. I told him I was going to pack, rest for a bit and head for Milwaukee. He stopped me and said, “You have a family and a job. You take care of them. They come first.”

The last words he spoke to me came two days before he went to be with the Lord. He had an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth and every word was spoken softly. He pulled me close to him, raised the oxygen mask and said

It’s been a good, long life. But gosh, it’s gone by so fast

He was 87.

There was always a sense of who he was and what he had to offer this world. He made no apologies for how he felt or what he believed and deep inside of him was a strong sense of compassion and understanding for just about everyone he met. You didn’t have to agree with him to be his friend.

He’s been gone for seven years. When I look back I’ve always wondered how he came to be so resolute and firm in who he was and what he believed. I believe it was the unshakable confidence he had in himself.

There’s a lesson there.

Four generations My dad, me, my son Matt and my grand daughter Ava-Jo

A Heroes Journey is published each Wednesday morning at 7:30 AM CST