Addiction to Clutter

Clutter is a big problem for many people. At a lecture that I gave, I asked for a show of hands regarding how many people had problems with clutter and disorganization. I was surprised to find that at least half the people raised their hands.

One of my clients told me that she was trying to help her sister get back on her feet after her sister had been laid up with an illness and lost her job. Her sister’s house had always been a mess, and had become so filled with clutter that there was no place to walk or sit. My client, Rebecca, offered to buy her sister a car if she would clean up her house. Rebecca even offered to help her sister clean up the house. Rebecca was shocked when her sister refused the offer, even though she desperately needed the car. He sister was unwilling to get rid of the clutter.

Why? Why was the “stuff” so important to her?

Underneath all addictions lies fear - of emptiness, helplessness, loneliness and aloneness. Addictions are a way to feel safe from feeling these difficult and painful feelings, and an addiction to clutter is no exception. It’s all about having a sense of control over feeling safe. Clutter, like all addictions, provides a momentary feeling of comfort. However, as with any addiction, the clutterer needs more and more clutter to maintain the illusion of safety and comfort.

When my mother died and my son was cleaning out her house, he discovered huge amounts of clutter. While my mother’s house always looked neat and clean, the cupboards and drawers were filled with clutter. My son told me he found 6 broken hair dryers in one cabinet. Why would my mother want to keep six broken hair dryers?

My mother grew up during the depression and always had a fear of not having enough. No matter how much she accumulated materially, she never felt that she had enough. The six hair dryers made her feel safe from her fear, even if they didn’t work.

Carrie has trouble throwing things away, especially magazines with “important’ information in them. She subscribes to many magazines but, being the mother of three small children, doesn’t often have the time to read them. So the magazines pile up and pile up. Carrie hopes at some point to have the time to read them, but that time never seems to come. When asked why she won’t throw them out, her answer is, “Because there might be something important in them and I don’t want to miss it.” Carrie fears missing out on some important piece of information – information that may give her the peace she is seeking. It makes her feel safer and in control to have all the magazines around her with their important information, even if she never gets to read them.

When we don’t feel safe on the inner level, then we try to make ourselves feel safe on the outer level, and clutter is one way of doing that. Whether it’s things, such as hair dryers, or information, such as in magazines and newspapers, clutterers do not trust that they will have what they need. In addition, clutterers may be resistant people who see messiness and clutter as a way of not being controlled by someone who wants them to be neat.


Clutter is created and maintained by a wounded, frightened part of oneself, the wounded self – the part that operates from the illusion of having control over people, events, and outcomes. As long as this wounded self is in charge of the decisions, the clutterer will continue to accumulate clutter as a way to provide comfort and the illusion of control over feeling safe, or continue to be messy as a way to resist being controlled.

Healing occurs when the individual does the inner work necessary to develop a strong, loving adult self. A loving adult is the aspect of us that opens to and connects with a spiritual source of wisdom, strength, and love. A loving adult is capable of taking loving action in our own behalf. The loving adult operates from truth rather than from the false beliefs of the wounded self, and knows that the comfort and safety that clutter seems to provide is an illusion – that no matter how much clutter accumulates, the clutterer still feels afraid. The loving Adult knows that safety and integrity do not lie in resistance. Only a loving adult who is tuned in to the guidance provided by a spiritual source and capable of taking loving action in one’s own behalf can create a sense of inner safety.

Practicing the six steps of Inner Bonding that we teach develops this powerful loving adult.

6 Great Questions that Will Help You Find Your Focus

Copyright 2006 Cari Vollmer

Do you have a ton to do and have no idea where to start? Would you like to know with each step you take you’re heading in the right direction? Would you like to narrow your “to do” list down to a few key items and let go of the rest? Would you like to work smarter, not harder?

The questions below will help you do just that. Answering these questions will help you find your focus so you can do what you want to do and feel great about your life while you’re doing it.

1. What do I care about most? Or, where is my heart leading me?

Only when you allow yourself to do what you care about most will you begin feeling better about your life.

Asking this question will give your HEART a space to speak and be heard. When we get wrapped up in all the “stuff” we have to do we often overlook what our heart wants.

2. What do I really, really want to do? Or, ask yourself “is this what I really want?” If the answer is “no”, ask yourself why you're doing it and then find a way to stop doing it. So much life is wasted doing things we don’t want to do.

Doing what you really want is a process of identifying and letting go of the things that you don’t want and replacing them with things that you do want. Overtime you’ll rebalance your life to include MORE of what you want to do.

This question will give your DREAMS an opportunity to come to life. This one question could set your life on a new course.

3. How do I want to feel while I’m doing what I’m doing? If what you’re doing doesn’t give you pleasure while you’re doing it, you may be on the wrong track. Why? Because “doing” takes up much more time then the result. The result happens once. We reach each goal only once and then it’s over. The journey to our goals is what fills our life with experiences. If you’re not feeling good during the “doing” (aka – the journey) is it really worth it?

This question allows your SPIRIT to come alive – to be experienced. Give yourself permission to do things that feel good and you’ll live an inspired life.

4. What is the “for sake of what” behind what I’m doing? Another way to word this question would be, “In the big picture of my life what purpose does this action serve?” If the answer isn’t clear you may be letting life lead you.

This question helps you CONNECT THE DOTS and make better choices for your life. Basing your actions on a clear purpose puts you in the driver's seat which means you are LEADING your life instead of letting it lead you.

5. What am I going to do? Make a list of all the things you care about and all the things you really want to do and prioritize them with a “1-2-3” approach. Rank your list in order of importance.

Of course we make choices (decisions) about what we’re going to do all day long BUT how often do we make choices after asking questions 1-4? Answering the above questions FIRST will give you the opportunity to bring more of what you really want into your life.

This question requires a CHOICE be made. Now you’ve narrowed your focus!

6. How am I going to do it? After narrowing your focus create a mini action plan for each item. Write down the steps you’ll need to take to make it happen.

Tip: only focus on 1 or 2 things at a time (ex: over the period of 1 month). Don’t try to do everything at once. That will just lead to overwhelm. Give yourself a chance to worker smarter and you will get more done.

This question will inspire you to TAKE ACTION. Nothing happens without it. In order to create the life you want you have to give your dreams, heart and spirit a voice and space in your life. However, this alone won’t make things happen. You have to channel all these things into a clear course of action.

Instead of jumping into your “to do” list, take some time to reflect upon these questions. By doing so you’ll put yourself on a life and/or business path that reflects more of what you really want. Determine your FOCUS first and you'll live a fuller, richer life.

18 Reasons to Volunteer Your Time

We know that volunteering a portion of our time is something we should do. There are reminders all around us that our help is needed. Other people will significantly benefit from any time we contribute. But that is not the only reason to volunteer.

Have you thought about the benefits you will get from volunteering? If you consider the many benefits you will receive, you will be asking yourself why you aren't more involved with helping a cause. Consider these 18 reasons to volunteer some of your time:

1. To make new friends
2. To build personal and profesional contacts
3. To build your self-esteem and self-confidence
4. To develop new job skills
5. To make a difference in the world
6. To increase personal satisfaction
7. To add experience to your resume
8. To develop people skills
9. To develop communication skills
10. To do something as a family
11. To explore career possibilities
12. To feel needed and appreciated
13. To share your skills with others
14. To be challenged
15. To do something different
16. To earn academic credit
17. To improve your health
18. To have fun!

You will get more out of your volunteer experience than you put into it. Don't hesitate to identify and donate some of your time to a worthy volunteer opportunity. You will be glad you did.

10 Simple Steps to Self-Motivation and More Sales

Every day of your life you are selling yourself, nothing happens until you're successful at doing that.

We're all in the selling business whether we like it or not. It doesn't matter whether you're a lawyer or an accountant, a manager or a politician, an engineer or a doctor.

We all spend a great deal of our time trying to persuade people to buy our product or service, accept our proposals or merely accept what we say.

Before you get better at persuading or influencing other people - you need to get better at self-motivation and selling yourself.

Here are 10 simple steps to self-motivation:

#1 - You must believe in the product

Selling yourself is pretty much like selling anything. Firstly, you need to believe in what you're selling. That means believing in "you." It's about lots of positive self-talk and the right attitude.

The first thing people notice about you is your attitude. If you're like most people then you'll suffer from lack of confidence from time to time.

It really all comes down to how you talk to yourself. The majority of people are more likely to talk to themselves negatively than positively - this is what holds them back in life.

It isn't just about a positive attitude; it's about the right attitude - the quality of your thinking.

Successful people have a constructive and optimistic way of looking at themselves and their work. They have an attitude of calm, confident, positive self-expectation. They feel good about themselves and believe that everything they do will lead to their inevitable success.

If you're in a sales job or a business owner or a manager then you need to continually work on your attitude. You need to listen to that little voice inside your head. Is it saying you're on top, going for it and confident, or is it holding you back.

If you're hearing - "I can't do this or that" or "They won't want to buy at the moment" or "We're too expensive" then you'd better change your self-talk or change your job.

Start to believe in yourself and don't let things that are out with your control effect your attitude.

Avoid criticising, condemning and complaining and start spreading a little happiness.

Remember the saying of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company - "If you believe you can do a thing, or if you believe you can't, in either case you're probably right."

#2 - The packaging must grab attention

Like any other product we buy, the way the product is packaged and presented will influence the customer's decision to buy.

Everything about you needs to look good and you must dress appropriately for the occasion. And don't think that just because your customer dresses casually, that they expect you to dress the same way.

The style and colour of the clothes you wear, your spectacles, shoes, briefcase, watch, the pen you use, all make a statement about you.

#3 - Smile

No need to get carried away, you don't need a big cheesy grin, just a pleasant open face that doesn't frighten people away.

#4 - Use names

Use the customers name as soon as you can but don't over do it. Business is less formal nowadays however be careful of using first names initially. Make sure your customer knows yours and remembers it. You can do the old repeat trick -"My name is Bond, James Bond" or "My name is James, James Bond"

#5 - Watch the other person

What does their body language tell you? Are they comfortable with you or are they a bit nervous? Are they listening to you or are their eyes darting around the room. If they're not comfortable and not listening then there's no point telling them something important about your business.

Far better to make some small talk and more importantly -get then to talk about themselves.

It's best to go on the assumption that in the first few minutes of meeting someone new, they won't take in much of what you say. They're too busy analysing all the visual data they're taking in.

#6 - Listen and look like you're listening.

Many people, particularly men, listen but don't show that they're listening. The other person can only go on what they see, not what's going on inside your head. If they see a blank expression then they'll assume you're "out to lunch."

The trick is to do all the active listening things such as nodding your head, the occasional "UH-HUH" and the occasional question.

#7 - Be interested.

If you want to be INTERESTING then be INTERESTED. This really is the most important thing you can do to be successful at selling yourself.

The majority of people are very concerned about their self-image. If they sense that you value them, that you feel that they're important and worth listening to, then you effectively raise their self-image. If you can help people to like themselves then they'll LOVE you.

Don't fall into the trap of flattering the other person, because most people will see right through you and they won't fall for it. Just show some genuine interest in the customer and their business and they'll be much more receptive to what you say.

#8 - Talk positively.

Don't say - "Isn't it a horrible day" or "Business is pretty tough at present" or any thing else that pulls the conversation down. Say things like (and only the truth) - "I like the design of this office" or "I've heard some good reports about your new product."

#9 - Mirror the other person

This doesn't mean mimicking the other person, it just means you speaking and behaving in a manner that is similar to the customer.

For example, if your customer speaks slowly or quietly, then you speak slowly or quietly. Remember people like people who are like themselves.

#10 - Warm and friendly

If you look or sound stressed or aggressive then don't be surprised if the other person gets defensive and less than willing to co-operate.

If you look and sound warm and friendly, then you're more likely to get a positive response.

This isn't about being all nicey-nicey. It's about a pleasant open face or a warm tone over the telephone.

Before we can get down to the process of selling our product, our service or our ideas then we need to be as sure as we can  be - that the customer has bought us and that we have their full attention.

7 Steps To Break (or Make) A Habit

We all have habits, some good and some not so good. These are behaviors that we've learned and that occur almost automatically. And most of us have a habit we'd like to break, or one we'd like to develop.

For most people, it takes about four weeks for a new behavior to become routine, or habit. The following steps can make it easier to establish a new behavior pattern.

1. The first step is to set your goal. Especially when you are trying to stop or break a habit, you should try to phrase your goal as a positive statement. For example, instead of saying "I will quit snacking at night", say "I will practice healthy eating habits". You should also write down your goal. Commiting it to paper helps you to commit. It can also help if you tell your goal to someone you trust.

2. Decide on a replacement behavior. (If your goal is to develop a new habit then your replacement behavior will be the goal itself.) This step is very important when you are trying to break a habit. If you want to stop a behavior, you must have a superior behavior to put in it's place. If you don't, the old behavior pattern will return.

3. Learn and be aware of your triggers. Behavior patterns don't exist independently. Often, one habit is associated with another part of your regular routine. For instance, in the snacking example the trigger may be late night television or reading. You automatically grab a bag of chips while you watch. Many people who smoke automatically light up after eating. Think about when and why you do the thing you want to quit.

4. Post reminders to yourself. You can do this by leaving yourself notes in the places where the behavior usually occurs. Or you can leave yourself a message on the mirror, refrigerator, computer monitor or some other place where you will see it regularly. You can also have a family member or co-worker use a particular phrase to remind you of your goal.

5. Get help and support from someone. This is kind of obvious. Any job is easier with help. It works even better if you can form a partnership with someone who shares the same goal.

6. Write daily affirmations. Write your phrase or sentence in the present tense (as if it were already happening), and write it ten times a day for twenty-one days. This process helps make your goal a part of your subconscious, which will not only remind you to practice the new behavior, but it also keeps you focused and motivated.

7. Reward yourself for making progress at set time intervals. Focus on your goal one day at a time, but give yourself a small treat at one, three and six months. The rewards don't have to be big or expensive, and you should try to make it something that's associated in some way with the goal. Doing this provides you with both incentive and extra motivation.
Following these steps is no guarantee of success of course. Depending on the habit it may take several tries to finally make the change. But if you stick with it, you can do it. Good Luck.

7 Great Success Ideas!

Let history's greatest minds help you to find true success and happiness today.

Plato. Socrates. Aristotle. Confucius. Thomas Aquinas. Hundreds, even thousands of years later, the names of the great philosophers remain legendary, their ideas continuing to captivate minds, stimulate thought, and shape the course of human history.

But what are those ideas? Why are they still impacting the way people think, understand, and act? Most importantly, how can they help YOU to live a happier, better, more fulfilling life today?

In The Seven Greatest Success Ideas: 'A-HAs' That Are Guaranteed to Take Your Life to the Next Level, public philosopher, author, and renowned business consultant Tom Morris reveals what the greatest philosophers in human history have to say about what it takes to achieve true success in the 21st century.

With the wit, charisma, and straightforward style that made him one of the most popular professors at the University of Notre Dame and a corporate speaker in huge demand, Tom roars through the wisdom of the ages. He introduces you to the most profound insights that have ever been articulated by the human mind and draws the connection between those insights and your personal, day-to-day experiences in an incredibly clear, powerful, and illuminating way that will forever transform your perspective.

Along the way, you'll also discover that you, too are a philosopher, with the innate power to think deeply and effectively about the things that matter most. With the great philosophers as your guide, you'll learn how to stop chasing the wrong things and start asking the right questions — those that will lead you straight to the answers you seek and the success and happiness that we are all searching for. The Seven Greatest Success Ideas will give you an immeasurably deeper, richer, clearer understanding of the world we live in, your place and purpose in it, and the possibilities for true success that exist all around you.

5 Tips To Supercharge Your Motivation

Motivation is the driving force behind life-enhancing change. It comes from knowing exactly what you want to do and having an insatiable, burning desire to do what’s necessary to get it. It keeps your dream on track as it is the power of motivation that keeps you going when the going gets tough.

Here’s 5 top tips to help you supercharge your motivation:

1. Create a picture board and fill it with images of your desired goals. The car you want to own, the house you want to live in, the area where you want to live yes, they’re the obvious ones. Others could be pictures of holiday destinations, trophies, first-class travel tickets, clothes you want to buy, fine restaurants you want to frequent – whatever you can think of that gets your pulse racing.

2. GET ANGRY. If you want to change your life for the better then get angry about where you’re at now. Having a blasé attitude towards change isn’t what’s needed and it won’t create a strong desire within you. So ask: “Why do I want to change?” Is it because you’re FED UP with debts? Does your job DRIVE YOU CRAZY? Is your life DULL AND PRECITABLE? Are you SICK AND TIRED of doing the same thing week in week out? Are you BORED BEYOND BELIEF by the dull, uninspiring, unhappy people you associate with? THEN GET ANGRY ABOUT IT. And I mean REAL ANGRY. Write it all down, all of the frustrating, unrewarding, miserable lot of it that makes every day a dull slog until your final days. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?

3. Speaking of your final days, start to appreciate the value of time. Time is one of the most precious resources you have and it is also a NON RENEWABLE resource. You can either use it fully or squander it. If you want to create change you’re going to have to invest a lot of time to make it happen. Start to reduce the time you waste on irrelevancies: Television, newspapers, lie-ins, weekends spent shopping, partying, dining out, visiting an endless line of relatives and friends – these won’t help you get what you want and all of them will rob time from you. Valuable time that you can use much more effectively by investing it in YOU. Remember this: You have a finite amount of time here on Earth. You don’t know how much time you have – no one does. But it’s how you use the time you have that counts. So make your time count and that means starting from right NOW.

4. Conformity. Are you a mindless little sheep who’s way too timid to pursue your own way? Do you have to follow where everyone else goes, doing exactly what everyone else does and therefore, who gets the same levels of happiness as all the other little sheep? Seriously, does this describe YOU? Are you too frightened to be different than all of the other sheep because they wouldn’t like it if you decided to follow a different path? So you dutifully trot along following all the other sheep because if they’re doing it then that’s how it is right? But if you do what everyone else does you’ll just get what everyone else gets. Do you want to be a mindless, timid little sheep who blindly follows all the other sheep? Or do you want to be a leader, a warrior who possesses the courage to be uniquely you and to do what you want to do and make your dreams happen? If so then this means you have to be more like a tiger than a sheep. Do you really want to be a sheep? I mean, haven’t we got enough sheep already?

5. Fear your fear. Fear is the force that is determined to stop you in your tracks and rob your dreams from you. But it can only do this if you let it. Are you going to let this cruel destructive charlatan trample on your dreams, steal your happiness and crush your spirit? Imagine this thought haunting your final days: “I didn’t do the things I wanted because I was too frightened to live”. And by then, it’ll be far too late to conquer fear. Refuse to let fear spoil your life and start taking action – now!

The world is waiting for your unique gifts. Why keep it waiting any longer?

“How Great is the Strength of Your Belief?”

Be careful what you believe because that is what you will experience. Your belief system is a mechanism which is uniquely yours. It is powered by your desire and controlled by your thoughts and actions. In other words, your success is measured by the strength of your belief.
What is it that you desire? Often people do not have a clue what it is they want, they just know what they do not want. Now is a good time to evaluate your goals and determine the end result you want to achieve. Put your goals in writing and place them where you can see them throughout the day. Read them frequently to keep them fresh on your mind.

Be inquisitive. Research and learn as much as you can on how you can achieve your goal. Use all possible resources such as books, CDs, courses and people. Yes, people. Talk to as many people as possible who are already successful in what you want to achieve. Ask, ask and ask some more about what they did to reach success. Do not limit your contacts to only the people you already know. Introduce yourself by phone or mail, explain your purpose for contacting them and ask for a tip. The worst thing that can happen is that they ignore you. The best thing that can happen is that they become your mentor and offer support and encouragement. Chances are you will receive at least one great tip from many of the people you contact. This method is the least expensive and most rewarding.

Be unique. Next, take the ideas you learn, embellish them and come up with your own creative process. Think of how you can approach your goal in a way that no one else has. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid to take risks. What do you have to loose? Write out a list showing the worst things that could happen and then list all of the best possible outcomes. Always maintain your concentration on your desired result.

Be better than your competition. When you were a child and saw your older siblings or friends riding a bike (without training wheels), you didn’t look at their scraped knees and elbows and say, “Whoa, I could get hurt doing that.” Instead, you begged to try it for yourself. With a great deal of practice and often pain, you gradually learned how to maintain your balance. Before long you were trying to “out do” your friends with your speed or fancy tricks. When you fell, you would get back on and try again with even greater determination. From your very first effort, you believed in your mind that if you got back on, you would eventually learn to ride. I bet you even knew in your mind you would be the best in the neighborhood, in your school, in the state, in the world!  

Be positive. If you see obstacles before you, then you will also only see problems. If you have hesitations that you plan will not work, then it will not work. If you are influenced by the power of negative people, then you will never be any better than they are. Believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving.  

When your desire to succeed is stronger than the pain, fear or frustration of failing, there is no turning back. I challenge you to view your goals just like you did when you were a child before you learned about self doubt and negative criticism. Remember, anything is possible as long as you believe. Make a commitment that you will not let anything or anyone, including yourself stand in your way of reaching your goals.

A Good Leader Knows The Team’s Colours

Leadership can be a very challenging task. As leaders we don’t always get to choose who is on our team. In fact very often a leader inherits a team, of which most of the members have been there far longer than the leader, and may even know more about the work than the leader. Whatever the situation, one of the responsibilities of a leader is to motivate the team to all work together towards the common goal. This can be a daunting challenge. So often the team is comprised of very diverse members, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and work styles. The team dynamics are also often complicated by internal disagreements and personal conflicts. The leader, not only has work with this group of people, but also needs to achieve the results expected by their superiors.

Leaders can greatly benefit by being able to identify the types of personality characteristics of team members. By understanding the basic personality types, the leader can use individual strengths of members for the good of the team, as well as assign tasks that individual team member’s naturally excel in. A leader can also learn to communicate in a way that is motivating, by taking into account the needs, values and working preferences of different team members.

A good leader will see the greatest results by working and utilizing the strengths and working style characteristics of the personalities on the team. By correctly positioning the individual member strengths and compensating for weaknesses, the leader can bring the team into a productive balance and harmony.

A brief overview of the different values and working styles of the four main personality types demonstrates the importance of this knowledge being part of the successful leadership toolbox. The four types of personality will be described using the colours Gold, Blue, Green and Orange.

The strong Gold employee takes work and responsibility very seriously. Gold personalities want to contribute, be part of the team, and to be successful and productive. They respond well to recognition, rewards and incentives. However Gold team members need well defined responsibilities and structure, firm expectations and timelines as well as being reassured from authority that they are on the right track.

The strong Blue personality needs an open, social atmosphere to be able work well. Relationships are very important for them, and they need the freedom to be able to nurture relationships with coworkers, customers and employers.. Conflict and intense competition are painful for a strong Blue, but they will thrive in a positive, creative, service orientated atmosphere.

A strong Green personality is more noted for expertise rather than people skills. They are excellent working with facts, data, research and analytical projects. Greens shine in their ability for designing, understanding complex systems and strategy. Facts are of utmost importance for the Green, but they have a weakness for routine follow through and are somewhat insensitive in social interactions.

 Orange team members are noticeable by their energy, skill and creativity. A key factor for an Orange is the freedom to be able to use their skills and abilities. If there is too much structure, or their boss is very authoritarian, the orange personality feels blocked and does not function well. Orange personalities like people and work well in a spirit of teamwork, competition and camaraderie. They are action orientated, though and become impatient with prolonged talking and detailed administrative tasks.

A leader, by knowing the colours of his team, can use this knowledge to blend the team members into a unified, well coordinated picture poised for success. By facilitating each team member to function in their areas of natural strength and motivating them by communicating in a way that inspires harmony and team work, the leader is well on the way to achieving extraordinary results.

A Fantastic Award For Good Leadership Programs

The best place to turn to learn more about leadership.

We want to grab your attention to this article on leadership. It not only is interesting, but also has loads about leadership.

Why do organizations come together every year at the 2005 Excellence Fair held by the Professional Association for Computer Training?

You may be filled with astonishment with the amount of information we have compile here on leadership. that was our intention, to astonish you.

It is because something worked well for an organization and valuable information needs to be shared. This year at the 2005 Excellence Fair it was Cargill, the international food provider (located in over 59 countries), that was recognized for their Transition into Leadership curriculum that helps employees transition into leadership roles.

So, what is it about Cargill’s leadership curriculum that has led to such great success? It began when Cargill recognized that great team members also make great leaders. But, the insights, skills, and vision needed to be an effective leader must be developed, practiced, and learned over time.

As such, the focus of Cargill’s leadership development program is to provide new and aspiring leaders with the skills required to confront the challenges and opportunities that a leadership role entails. In the program, aspiring and new leaders learn how to guide, empower, and assist the efforts of others towards greater success. These newly developed leaders are instructed on how to lead people, make a difference in their work, and fulfill leadership expectations.

So how is this leadership development program different from all of the others? This program provides new leaders with the key tools for leading effectively, while at the same time making the program specific to the development needs of each attendee. Most programs on the market do not focus on the transformation process aspiring leaders must go through to maximize their effectiveness.

The Transition into Leadership curriculum was designed to:
Introduce the best ideas and practices in leadership today

25 Leadership Maxims

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link.  Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to:

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25 Leadership Maxims
by Brent Filson

"We will never know how really good we are as leaders unless we are leading people to be better than they think they are."

"Poor performance is less harmful to a leader than mediocre performance disguised as good performance."

"Most leaders are striving to get the wrong results or the right results in the wrong ways."

"The lowest forms of leadership involve rewards and punishments."

"Getting along is not necessarily getting results."

"If you can't feel it, you can't lead it, and they won't do it."

"Leadership is the trim tab of all careers."

"Leadership is seeing hope in any adversity."

"To make a difference, be the difference."

"In leadership, you don't have to expect the worse, you just have to make the most of it when it happens."

"The best leaders make use of the simplest of ideas."

"If you are always right, you are usually wrong."

"The best way for a leader to communicate an idea is to bundle it in a human being."

"The most persuasive art of leadership is to hide your leadership."

"Refraining from action is sometimes the best action."

"It's not so much what you say as a leader that's important; it's the action the people take after you have had your say."

"In leadership, the value of every need is in its use."

"Leadership is not about living a easy life for ourselves but a hard life for others."

"We ourselves are our own biggest obstacles to becoming better leaders."

"Leadership is showing people not that they must take a certain action but that they GET TO take that action."

"Half the art of listening is waiting."

"To get the best out of people, embrace the best in them."

"People are often unaware of the best that's in them.  When you show it to them, you are half way down the road to motivating them to be your cause leaders."

"Achievement needs three things, the leader, the cause leader, and the moment."

"In the long run, the most important results of leadership are not what we achieve but what we become in that achieving."

10 Reasons Why Friendliness Is A Leadership Necessity

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10 Reasons Why Friendliness Is A Leadership Necessity
by Brent Filson

We've heard it many times, "It's a dog eat dog world."  The trouble is, some leaders actually believe it.  They conduct themselves like the alpha dog in a pack, holding sway through intimidation. This instinctive behavior helps insure survival in a dog world, but applied to the human world of organizational dynamics, it can lead to disaster.

Alpha dog leadership can eventually turn out to be destructive to the people, their organization, and the leaders themselves. To use another common metaphor, "That dog won't hunt."  

After all, leaders do nothing more important than get results; and the best results are what I've been teaching for more than two decades, "more results faster, continually."  An alpha-dog leader might chew up people to get more results and get them faster, but I submit that it takes a far different personality trait to engender the "continually" aspect of the imperative.  That trait isn't the despot modeled by so many leaders, it's ... well, friendliness.  

Having a friendly attitude as a leader means eschewing the alpha-dog way of leadership.  It means being gentle, kind, helpful, and cordial in your relationships, even in times of anger and stress -- ESPECIALLY in times of anger and stress.  Here are 10 reasons friendliness gets far more results than an alpha-dog way.

(1) We stay in control.  Apha-dog leaders seek to control others.  But they misconstrue what control really means.  In truth, such leaders are really out of control much of the time, since they're at the mercy of their emotional outbursts and the reactions of others to those outbursts.  In leadership, the best way to control a situation, i.e., the best way to get great results, is to put the people in control.  Don't constrain them through short-term compulsion but liberate them by playing the "longer game."  Unleash their initiative and creativity by allowing them to make free choices, and they will be under your "control" in more profound and effective ways than the alpha-dog leader could imagine.  

(2) People respond more openly and positively to friendliness.  Humans seek happiness; and friendliness is a great way to spread happiness.  It enables you to communicate much more effectively because it bonds you with others in ways that anger, coercion, intimidation can't.  And that bonding is the stuff that great results flow from.    

(3) We are modeling good interactions, bringing the future into the present.  Whether leaders know it or not, their words and actions are carefully watched by the people they lead.  People have an instinctive need to model those words and actions; or if they disagree with them, speak and act in opposite ways.  By radiating friendliness, leaders are being the means that are the ends in the making.

(4) We make real issues relevant factors, not false issues like anger and intimidation. Friendliness tends to clarify issues; intimidation, because it is associated with fear, obfuscates them.  So often intimidating leaders make themselves and their tormenting ways the issue.  Whereas the real issues should be, how do we get results, how do we get more results, how do we get faster results, and how do we get "more, faster" continually?  The fear they provoke is like crack cocaine, temporarily stimulating but addictive and in the long run destructive to the leader and the people.

(5) With friendliness, we set the agenda.  "A good offense is the best defense" applies with friendliness.  You should be on the offense with friendliness, displaying it even in challenging circumstances when it may take an act of disciplined courage on your part.  This helps you set the agenda in terms of how people respond to one another in these circumstances. Of course, your friendliness will not affect some people who may be determined to subvert your leadership no matter what your attitude is; however, friendliness can, like the clearing of brush-lines to contain a forest fire, keep rancor from spreading deeply into the organization.

(6) We increase the chance that others will support our cause.  The truth is that leaders can't motivate anybody to do anything. The people make the choice to be motivated or not.  Friendly leaders have the best chance of creating an environment in which the people make that choice.  As Abraham Lincoln said, "If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.  Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing him of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause is really a good one."  

(7) Our opponents can be put off balance.  As a leader, you'll often have people working against you, spoiling for a fight; and when they encounter a friendly attitude on your part, they may be thrown off balance in benignly effective ways.  Furthermore, your friendliness can encourage others to take up your cause against them.  

(8) With friendliness everybody has an opportunity to win.  Unfriendly leaders often win battles but lose wars.  They may compel others to get on board; but if those others do so out of compulsion and not genuine conviction and motivation, the fruits of any victories can become ashes.  Most people welcome friendliness -- even if they disagree with and even dislike the leader.  Furthermore, our friendliness can prompt the people we interact with to reflect on their own character, a prerequisite for their choosing to be motivated.  In an environment of friendliness, all parties have an opportunity to achieve something positive.  

(9)Friendliness is fire prevention equipment against your burning bridges behind you.  An opponent may seem to be your opponent today but in the future you may need him to be your partner in implementing changes.  Friendliness gives us an opportunity to have productive relationships even with those who oppose us, enriching both the present and the future.

(10) Getting results through friendliness can take a lot less energy than getting results through coercion and intimidation. Friendliness isn't an absolute necessity in leadership.  I've seen great leaders who were terrific curmudgeons.  It's just that unfriendly people have to go through a lot more trouble getting people motivated.

Two caveats.  One, friendliness can be mistaken for weakness.  In fact, friendliness can BE weakness if it manifests as a way of avoiding challenging people to do the hard things to get great results.  In leadership, friendliness has a clear function which is to people achieve constantly improving results.  This entails your challenging people to do what they often don't want to do.  Anybody can be nice to them and let them do what they want. But a leader must continually be challenging people to struggle mightily for extraordinary results. If friendliness doesn't help you fulfill that function then it's simply a lifestyle choice, not a leadership tool, and ultimately in terms of leadership, a weakness.

Two, even if you do use it as a strong leadership tool, you certainly can't be friendly 100 percent of the time.  If you try to be, you'll find yourself becoming a rather one-dimensional leader.  One of the most difficult accomplishments facing any leader is simply being who you really are – especially under pressure. To force-fit friendliness in a situation where you might not ordinarily exhibit it or to use friendliness to manipulate people into conforming to your wishes is not the best leadership uses of friendliness.

It may be a dog-eat-dog world; but by progressing in the Way of friendliness, leaders can invest their lives and this world with moments of beauty and meaning -- and get more results in the bargain.

2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.   All rights reserved.

8 Steps Towards Becoming The Leader You Need To Be To Succeed

An important part of success in life is the ability to lead. It is important that we not only be able to lead others but be willing to lead ourselves. No one succeeds in life by simply following others. Sometimes we simply must strike a bold new path for ourselves.

Being a good leader is more than simply being at the forefront of the crowd. A leader must act. Too often in America, we simply accept that someone looks or sounds like a leader and too rarely do we actually look at the actions that leader performs -- and that is the true test of leadership.

However, in order to become good leaders ourselves, we need to concentrate on actions rather than simple appearances. The title of this article refers to eight steps, but do not think of these as progressive steps like so many recipes or instruction manuals describe. Instead, think of these as actions that you must take on a regular basis.

First, be alert to new potentials. "Reality" is not absolute but rather subject to constant change. Think about inventors, explorers, and agents of social change who have achieved greatness. Some might simply say that certain people are successful because they are lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe so, but if they hadn't had their eyes open for the opportunity, then it wouldn't have mattered if they were in the right place.

Second, accept inspiration from wherever it comes; even your opponents. The wisest leaders constantly study their competition. In war, politics, and business we constantly see examples of this research and reconnaissance. Too many times though a certain study, many concentrate on finding a weakness to exploit. If you want to a be a leader of positive change don't fall victim to this trend. Instead, if you find a weakness, make sure to avoid that pitfall yourself. If you find the strength then find a way to strengthen your own qualities to match.

Third, learn something new and promote in new ways every day. This means you must continually seek to expand your horizons, internally and externally. Feed your mind with new lessons and knowledge, but constantly expand your social horizons as well. Seek out and meet new people and immerse yourself in new social situations. You never know when these new experiences will help you in your leadership role.

Fourth, search for and find answers in subtle clues. Look beneath the surface and constantly question. This is an extension of the third step in that you are seeking new knowledge. But this also means that you will need to step off the traditional paths of knowledge. Don't simply read books in the literary canon or the bestsellers list. Take seminars rather than classes as there is more room for questioning and debate. Seek out the unconventional thinkers, teachers, and writers.

Fifth, improvise if no existing solutions are available. No excuses. Necessity is the mother of invention. How do you know it won't work if you've never tried it before? Remember, not all approaches need to come from the front. Look at your problem from all sides and systematically attempt different solutions in various combinations.

Six, make at least one person you care about happy every day. If you make it a point to be thoughtful and caring for one person every day then soon this thoughtful, caring behavior will become a habit and that habit will spread to the others around you. Making someone else happy also feeds your own personal happiness. Just imagine how much better the world would be if we all did a little bit more to spread happiness.

Seven, offer help, even if there's no apparent advantage to you. This means more than writing a check. It means giving of your time and energy and yourself. Sometimes it will mean helping someone you don't know and sometimes it can be a very personal action.

Finally, never let negativity be your last word on the subject. If your final words are negative than no matter how hopeful you may be about the potential of a project or action the lasting impression you give to others is one of negativity. Accentuate the positive and you are more likely to see a positive outcome.

If you follow these eight action steps not only you will be a better leader but also lead yourself to a more successful life.

8 Steps to Effective Christian Leadership

1) Probably the most important thing you can do as a Christian leader is to clean up your act---if there is anything in your life, moral or ethical, which would not stand up to scrutiny if the entire world found out---you must eliminate it immediately.  Do not give anyone an occasion to think that you are a hypocrite.

2) Be sure that every decision you make is honest and ethical.  You cannot effectively lead, as a Christian or not, when your decisions and actions are not above-board, fair, and honest.

3) As a Christian leader, commit to telling the truth no matter what.  As a Christian leader, when you lie or tell half-truths, people tend to feel that your entire faith is a sham.  In fact, if you are habitually lying and telling half-truths, your faith may indeed be a sham.

4) Learn everything you can about the tasks at hand, even if it means working in the trenches for awhile.  No one likes to be led by someone who has never done what they are doing.  This doesn’t mean you have to become an expert, just participate in the menial work long enough to understand the frustrating aspects of the work.  Another benefit to this is, when you have actually done the work, you can more effectively brainstorm solutions to challenges when they arise.

5) Lead by example.  Do you expect your employees or secretaries to arrive on time for work, and dressed well?  Then you must do the same.  Sometimes it is so easy to think that you have earned the right to come in whenever you feel like it, or to return from lunch whenever you wish.  Sure, you may have earned the right, but you gain far more by setting the example for performance.  Do you expect others to work overtime when a project is behind projections?  Then you must be willing to do the same.

6) Although you may feel you have earned the right to delegate away all the work, continue to be involved in productive tasks.  By doing some of the work, not only do you gain the respect of your employees, but also you keep in touch with the flow of things.  As a leader, it is easy to become disengaged from the actual productive segment of your business, and resultantly make decisions that look good on paper and sound good around the boardroom table, but are actually worthless when the rubber hits the road.

7) Constantly reevaluate your own performance.  Often, you may spend so much time correcting the actions of others and solving crises you didn’t create, that you develop a sense that others aren’t as capable as you.  Consequently, you may not recognize when you are falling into bad habits that also need to be corrected.  Be the first to recognize and correct your own short-fallings.

8) Avoid pride.  Once in a position of leadership, especially if you are good at what you do, it is easy to begin to feel that you are invincible.  Once that occurs, you become vulnerable to pride, and may make decisions you would frown on if your subordinates made the same decisions.  Maintain full responsibility for your actions, and keep them above-board at all times.

Bonus Step:

9) Learn to manage your time.  When you are in a position of leadership and find yourself delegating away most of the time-consuming tasks, it is easy to lose control of your time.  Again, when your employees see you wasting your time, they will tend to do the same.

"He Hate Me": Turning Their Bad Attitude Into Your Great Leadership Results

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"He Hate Me" was the nickname of Rod Smart, a leading rusher in 2002 for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the now defunct XFL pro football league. Looking for an edge, the XFL allowed players to put nicknames on their uniforms.

"I was always saying, 'he hate me,' all through camp in Vegas," Smart said. "If I didn't get the ball, I'd talk to the other running backs and say, 'He hate me, man; this coach hate me.' I was always saying that."

Smart put He Hate Me on the back of his number 32 jersey, and now the name lives in lore, though XFL has been out of business for years.

When I first saw Rod Smart play and his "He Hate Me" jersey, I thought, "Forget about football. That's a leadership lesson!"  That's because "He Hate Me" and leadership often go hand-in-hand.

Clearly, leadership is not about winning a popularity contest, it's about getting results -- not just average results but more results faster continually.  To lead people to get the latter, you often must challenge them to do not want they want to do but what they don't want to do.

That's where "He Hate Me" comes in. When you move people from being comfortable getting average results to being uncomfortable doing what's needed to get great results, strong feelings, hatred and anger, are often triggered. Having people resent you, even hate you, comes with the territory of being a leader.  In fact, if you are not getting a portion of the people you lead angry with you, you may not be challenging them enough.  

This does not mean you consecrate their anger and let it fester. You absolutely must deal with it.  After all, you can't motivate angry, resentful, "He Hate Me" people to be your cause leaders.

Here is my four-step process to help you deal with angry people you lead.  (1) RECOGNIZE. (2) IDENTIFY. (3) VALIDATE. (4)TRANSLATE.

RECOGNIZE: Recognize that if you don't face up to the anger of the people you lead, that anger will eventually wind up stabbing you in the back.

Many leaders could care less about people's anger.  They say in effect: "People should do what I tell them to do. Period. Their feelings are irrelevant."  If 'my-way-or-the-highway' is your way of leading, don't engage in this process.  I submit, however, that such leadership is far less effective than the leadership that motivates people to be your ardent cause leaders.

Making motivation happen involves first understanding if people are angry with you or not.  Often, people won't tell you they are angry.  They'll try hide it from you either out of embarrassment, trepidation, or wanting a sense of control.

Here are ways you can recognize that people are angry with you. The first is that you can see it on their faces or their body language. The second is that you can tell it in a drop off in their performance. The third is that you hear from other people they are angry. The fourth is they actually show you and tell you they are angry.

IDENTIFY: Identify the causes of their anger. This may not be as simple or as easy as you think. They may be angry, but they may not want to talk about why they are angry or even admit to you that they are. Don't back them in a corner. Don't make judgments. Don't get angry yourself. Get interested. Don't say, for instance, "You're angry ... " Instead, ask open-ended questions like, "Are you angry with me?" -- a question that seems on the surface only slightly different but that will make a big difference in the consequences of your interactions with them.

Once you and they have identified that they are angry, come to an agreement as to the actual reasons why. Drill through superficial reasons to the bedrock of why. They may say they are angry because you are giving them more work to do. But digging further, you may find out that they believe the supposed extra work will set them up for failure, and they might lose their jobs. So, they are really angry not simply for work-load reasons but for job security reasons.

VALIDATE: Validate their anger. Their anger is real and important to them. It's who they perceive themselves to be (at the moment they feel angry) in their relationship with you. Many people embrace their anger. They may see it as the one thing that they can control in an environment in which they feel out of control. If you try to ignore that anger or belittle it, they will feel you are belittling them.
Tell them that you know they are angry and that you want to find out why. Avoid saying things like, "I know you're angry ... but ... " That "but" can harden them against you. Saying, "Help me understand why you feel angry about what I'm doing." can get you farther than the "but." This is not to condone their anger nor approve of it but simply to come to an agreement with them that it exists and that you intend to do something about it in a way that will be mutually beneficial.

TRANSLATE: Their anger is your opportunity, an opportunity to translate their anger into your results. Because, as you'll see, their anger can be great raw material for results.

People get angry for many reasons. * Their time is being wasted. * Their individual worth is not respected. * They feel threatened. * Their efforts are not appreciated. 5. They are not given voice or choice in their work. * Their values are not recognized or given credence. * Their leaders cannot do their jobs well. * Their leaders focus on their own needs. * Their leaders don't understand and acknowledge their needs. * Their leaders don't provide clear direction. * They are being overworked. 11. They are being set up to fail.

Here is a process for translating their anger into your results.

I call it the problem/solution/action process. The key to this process is that people's anger usually stems from an unresolved problem. A. With their help, identify the problem. B. Come to an agreement with them as to the causes of that problem. C. Help them find a solution. D. Challenge them to take action to solve the problem. E. Link that action to increases in results.

You can apply this process to any of the aforementioned reasons people get angry. As an example, let's apply it to the first reason. Often, a key challenge in getting others to take new action is their complaining you are wasting their time.

A. Draw up two lists, one composed of the aspects of their job they believe waste their time, and the other of the aspects they feel are crucial.

B. Come to an agreement with them on which aspects are truly a waste of their time and which aren't. Without such agreement, they may remain angry with you. For instance, they may feel that their having to complete a particular report or aspects of that report wastes their time. If you think that such reports are absolutely essential, you cannot continue this process unless you convince them that the reports are essential or that you will change them to make them essential.

C. Once you come to that agreement, work on each aspect in the "waste of time" list by applying this analytical tool: Decide if you want to leave it alone, change it, or eliminate it. There is no fourth choice!

D. If you have chosen to change it, have them suggest actions they will take to do so. Note the sequence here. Your first step in changing an aspect is to elicit from them what needs to be changed and the actions required to affect the change. If need be, you can always veto their choice. But if you first let them make that choice, you may find that they have delineated actions that tap a new vein of results. At the very least, they will be committed to those actions, since they go right to the heart of solving the problem of their anger.

E. Link those actions to increases in results. For instance, now that they have reduced, eliminated or changed a particular aspect of their job that was a problem for them, how will that translate into money saved/earned?

Be advised: You may be confronted by "professionally angry" people who will be angry and stay angry no matter what you do. Just being you or just being a leader or just being you as a leader gets them angry, and nothing you can do or say seems to change that.  But keep working the four-step process.  It's your best way of remedying even the "professionals" anger.

2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc.   All rights reserved.

A Silent Night — Not At My House

People say, as they get older their hearing is not what it used to be. I have found this to be true for myself. The older I get, and I plan to get as old as I can, the more I hear noises in the middle of the night. Noises, I might add, that I have never heard before.

I’m not against noise. Personally, I try to make as much noise as possible. I’m just against noise not orchestrated with my sleeping habits.

And at this juncture of my career, sleeping has become a habit. In fact, I might describe it as an addiction. I tried breaking this addiction once but my wife complained I was just becoming crotchety.

When I was younger, I didn’t need as much sleep as today. Some experts opine that as a person gets older they don’t need as much sleep as they used to. I find this absolutely, positively untrue. I need more sleep today than I have ever needed in my entire life.

Actually, what I really need is to be able to sleep all night without disturbance. My definition of disturbance is anything I hear when I am trying to go to sleep — and I demand everything to be quiet. I will not mention any names, but this also includes persons who have the annoying habit of trying to talk while I’m trying to sleep.

It is not that I’m not interested in what this unnamed person has to say; it’s just that I don’t want to hear it when I’m trying to go to sleep. People have all day to get whatever is on their mind all talked out. That is why God gave us daylight hours.

It seems of late that no matter when I go to bed or how long I have actually slept, in the morning I always need just one more minute of sleep. That one minute more of sleep is the most crucial aspect of my nightly siesta.

Personally, I do not believe in alarm clocks. I think they have evolved over the years from some Neanderthal idea that it is important to get up at a certain time in the morning.

I’m of the opinion that getting up is a relative thing. One man’s wake-up time is another man’s “please, don’t disturb me yet.”

If God wanted me to get up at a certain time every morning he would have made it a little more appealing. As far as I’m concerned, I know I have slept enough when my wife is standing at the bedroom doorway, both hands on her hips and saying to me, in that wonderful voice of hers, “Are you ever going to get out of that bed today?”

I suppose I would be more willing to get up earlier if wasn’t for all the noises in the night. I believe in silent night, and not only at Christmas.

It is amazing to me how intelligent these nighttime noises can be. They are absolutely quiet until I’m just about ready to drift off into La-la-land, then there is a medley of screeching and yelling and screaming right outside my window.

It is not that I hate cats; it is rather I abhor cats making noise when I’m trying to catnap. Cats are wonderful creatures. For the most part, these cats mill around throughout the day and refuse to pierce the daytime with any fracas.

They stay out of my way and I reciprocate by staying out of their way. They keep quiet all day long but when I’m just about ready to drift off to sleep ,they start a Hullabaloo concert right out my window.

Show me a cat that is silent all night long and I will show you one that has been run over by a truck. Cats do not know how to be silent at night. This confuses me because all day long you don’t hear one little whimper from these creatures.

It does not matter what time I go to bed, all of the cats within a 10-mile radius of my bedroom are alerted to this pertinent information. All I can figure is there must be some sort of a feline union, or maybe it is tabby-telepathy for all I know. Just two nights ago, I counted 2,972 cats outside my bedroom window, all fighting each other at the same time.

Perhaps, and this is pure conjecture on my part, these cats are working in shifts, which is why the entire night can be thoroughly covered with screeches, squawks and meows that grate on my fragile nerves.

When the neighborhood cats finish their nocturnal routine and settle down for the night, quietness settles over my backyard, which is conducive to sleep. At this point, the only bird the neighborhood cats have not successfully chased out of my backyard awakens to serenade a new day.

If it is not the night noises keeping me awake it is worrying about something n anything.

But a verse in the Bible gives me some encouragement. “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” (Psalms 127:1-2 KJV.)

Not all the cats in the neighborhood can take from me what God delights to give me.

A Gift of Energy

"When attack becomes dance, everything is seen as a gift of energy."

That sounds great, doesn't it?

Couldn't we all use a little more energy from time to time? I know I could. Right now, for instance, as I sit with a blanket over my shoulders, sipping lemon tea and hoping that the next coughing spasm is not as ferocious as the last two, I could use a gift of energy. The tickle that started in my nose and chest a few days ago has blossomed into a full-blown, body-wracking cold, complete with chills and fever.

The martial art Aikido (The Way of Harmony) teaches us to see everything that comes our way as energy to be danced with. By centering and extending our ki (life energy) we connect and blend with the energy of attack, making it a part of us. We redirect it from center, keeping ourselves and our attacker safe from harm.

How this elegant metaphor applies to situations in our personal and professional lives is a continuing source of study and fascination for me. One of the ways I work at integrating Aiki principles into my life is by sharing the philosophy with others. My workshops use physical exercises which help our bodies remember how to do things like center, extend, acknowledge and blend. We begin to dance, flow and move with the energy of conflict instead of blocking it.

So I sit, wondering how I can dance with this attack. Even centering doesn't stop the incessant coughing. I have no ki to extend (it seems to have retreated to the innermost recesses of my system). The only thing I can think to do is to acknowledge and embrace.

But that, at least, is a beginning. In years past, I would not acknowledge being sick. When I was sick, I'd often go to work anyway. I plowed through what needed doing with half a spirit and wore myself out. I probably infected half a dozen others in the process. I was sometimes ill-tempered, depressed and depressing to be around. If I can't acknowledge what's going on, whether it's a cold or a problem at home, I surely can't embrace it. By this I mean make it a part of me, connect with it so that I can begin to look for solutions.

Most of our conflicts, internal or external, would resolve themselves if we would only take this first step - acknowledge them! But because we see them as negative, we immediately resist by fighting or fleeing. If I can see what comes my way as energy, with no positive or negative charge other than what I give it, I can be more curious about it. As unwanted as it may be, there's definitely more power in dancing with it than in resisting it.

As for my cold, I'm still trying to learn if there's a gift here somewhere. Let's see - I've already read a book I've been putting aside for months, started another, and gotten some much needed rest (in between coughs!). I may not always know what the energy offers, but when I can ask the question "Where’s the gift?" I've taken a step in a new direction.

A Century of Hope

What would one initially think about someone who dropped out of school at the age of 16? Would there be any hope for this person? This person is Bob Hope. Comedian Bob Hope starred in over 50 movies and lived past the age of 100 years old.

Hope was born in England and his family moved to the United States when he was four. What can we say about our past? Have we let things from our past get in the way of achieving what we want and living a life we love? Where you came from is out of our control. Where you’re going is up to you.

1. Bob Hope held many odds jobs before becoming a comedian

Long before Hope became a successful comedian, he held many odd jobs selling newspapers, was a delivery boy, worked in a soda shop, a shoe salesman. Newspaper reporter and was an amateur boxer.

Many of us have had to work at odd jobs in order to make money. Working at odd jobs gives us opportunities to discover what we want and don’t want to do as a career. The skills you obtain through your experiences of working at odd jobs may prove to be valuable in your future career. For example, any job that can strengthen your communication skills is invaluable.

2. Hope took dancing lessons

Hope received on-the-job training while appearing in vaudeville. To hone his skills, he took dance lessons. Hope was such a good dancer, that he took over some dance classes to help his teachers.

Do you have a passion that you would like to expand? Do you like to write or draw, but don’t know where to start? Do you like to play a particular sport or instrument, and want to get better? There numerous classes that are offered to help those who desire to improve oneself in a particular field and topic.

3. Bob Hope was versatile

Bob Hope was a successful dancer, singer and actor and comedian. Bob Hope was an enormously successful comedian. His ability to dance, sing and act very well made him a much better comedian because his options broadened on how he could entertain people.

Many of us are good at what we do in our careers. Becoming versatile could only make us better.

4. Hope entertained Military Troops from World War II to Operation Desert Storm

Hope did a major service to increase morale among military personnel. For almost sixty years, Hope toured many countries to show his appreciation for the men and women of the armed services.

Is there something that you have been considering to give back to your community? Is there a charity in which you would like to raise money for them? Would you like to encourage youngsters to explore a particular career? Bob Hope was a great example of giving back to his community. Bob Hope was a great example of not settling to be great in only one area. He was a success at so many areas in entertainment. Bob Hope did not let his past dictate what he could do in his future.

5 Powerful Reasons Why INSPIRATION Should Be a Part of YOUR Success Strategy

Copyright 2006 Cari Vollmer

Let’s face it. Life can be difficult. It just can be. Work pressures mount, family demands become overwhelming, health suffers, stress builds.

I have to admit, it happens to me and when it does, when life gets to be too much or too hard, I put up a “CLOSED for business” sign and seek out a little inspiration.

Inspiration looks good (a beautiful photograph), smells good (a bed of roses), sounds good (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons) and feels good (family photographs, your favorite movie or book).

Surrounding yourself with inspiration helps you get and keep your life on track because it returns you to YOUR spirit – to your center. When you feel inspired, it’s a sign you’re touching a place deep within yourself. From this place, you can create, plan, and simply live a life that feels better. And when you feel better, everything runs a bit more smoothly, creativity increases, things get done, you feel happier.

1. Inspiration is Heart Opening.  Think about the last time you read an inspiring story. Did your heart feel 10 times bigger than normal? Inspiration opens your heart and when your heart is open you become more accepting of yourself and others. You feel more patient. Your general outlook improves. Connecting with your heart reduces stress.

2. Inspiration Inspires Greatness.  Have you ever seen a beautiful painting and had the urge to stop by your nearest art supply store for a canvas and oil paints? Inspiring works of art touch within us our innate desire to create art that’s unique to us. (art = an outward expression of your deepest joy)

3. Inspiration Calms and Restores Nature.  Fresh air. Wide open spaces. Sunny, hot beaches. Don’t you already feel more relaxed? Exactly! Mother Nature is ready and willing to share her inspired works of art with us. She’s made it highly accessible and totally free!

4. Inspiration Energizes and Refreshes.  How did you feel watching Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France for the 7th time? Did it make you want to jump on your bike for a 2400 hundred mile bike ride on steep mountain roads? Maybe! Did it make you want to do something greater with your life? Inspiration is powerful because it touches the part of us that knows, deep inside, we’re made for so much more.

5. Inspiration Spreads Joy.  Inspiration makes you feel good. Just think of the last inspiring chain-email you received and passed on with a note that said, “I never do this but I had to share this with you!” When you feel good, when the joy in you comes alive, and you share your joy with others, you impact the world in a thousand positive ways.

The next time life feels difficult, put up a “CLOSED for business sign” and get out for a little inspiration. You’ll love the results.

5 Great Ways To Start A Super Conversation In A Group Situation

Starting a conversation is not always easy. Especially when you don´t feel comfortable with the people you are conversing with.

There could be an eerie feeling of awkwardness at the start of the interaction unless you know the five secrets...

Here are five secrets to starting a great conversation with a group of people:

1. Get everyone involved.

When starting a conversation, introducing people to each other could be necessary. That is if you don´t know each other or some of those present don´t.

Then, connect one of your group to the topic you are talking about by inviting him to contribute. Or you might simply relate one person to another with their commonalities to encourage dialogue.

2. Choose a topic.

When starting your conversation, choose a general topic. One that everyone can relate to. This will let everyone feel that they belong. This is a great way to encourage everyone to share ideas.

3. Do not drill with questions.

This should be avoided especially when asking one person only. The person may feel that he or she is facing a firing squad. Asking too many questions to a person may let him or her feel uncomfortable.

By doing so you might give that person a reason to leave the conversation. The others may also feel uncomfortable with this - they might think that they will be asked next!

4. Break the ice.

At first, there may be awkwardness among the group. You can work to break the ice. Each one of the members is just waiting for someone to do this. You can do this by cracking a joke to make them laugh. You can also start by telling a story. This may lead them to share their story, too. Then, everything will follow.

5. Ask open-ended questions.

These require a more than yes or no answer. These questions will make the flow of your conversation much smoother if done intelligently. These questions can even lead you to another topic.

Asking questions allows you to quickly test the waters to see which topics people are interested in discussing. Just be careful to ask with a pleasing tone.

It is not necessary that you use all of these tips or to use them in order. You can simply choose which ones are most appropriate for the situations you find yourself in. What matters is using these tips to kick off a conversation on a positive upbeat tone.

Once you start experimenting with new ways to start conversations you will noltice what works best for your personality. At this point it will all be much easier and before you know it you may even enjoy meeting new people.

3 Simple Keys to Getting Rid of Fear

Fear is your enemy – no other way to describe it.  I’m not talking about that natural life preserving action along with a major boost of adrenalin that happens if a wild animal is coming at you.  I’m talking about the fears people live with day in and day out.

Fear is your enemy.  Someone once described fear as, “Sand in the machinery of life.”  Fear doesn’t help you, it hinders you.  Fear doesn’t get you through an open door; it keeps you in the hallway.  Fear never helps you put your best foot forward; it just keeps both of your feet in cement.

The psychology of today is, “Learn to live with your fears”, “Embrace your fears”, “It’s normal to have fears – everybody does.”

It’s true; lots of people do have fears. And there are people who are trying to learn how to live with their fears, and embrace them.

But if it’s “normal” to have fears, then why would the Bible talk about being delivered from all your fears?

Think about it - if it’s normal to have fears, and you had no fears, then you would be abnormal, right?  Well why would God want you to be abnormal?

He doesn’t.  He truly desires for you to be set free from all your fears.

There are many facets and aspects of fear.  One of the big ones is having fear of what others think of you.  People do things, say things, and even buy things because of the fear that they have of what others think.

Many times people join clubs or organizations because they are afraid that if they don’t, others might think badly of them.

People say things and talk a certain way because they are afraid that they might not say the right thing in front of the right people.

People purchase items because of fear not measuring up to those around them.  And on and on it goes.

You don’t have to live with fear.  Here are 3 simple keys to getting rid of fear.

First, start by realizing that God truly loves you and that His love for you is unconditional.  The Bible teaches that nothing can separate you from His love. Nothing.  His love for you does not change, ever!

Second, ask God to help you to get rid of all your fears.  He has promised to deliver you from all your fears.  That is His desire for you – a life without fear.

Third, make decisions based on what is best for you, not how it may or may not appear to others.  You’ll never, ever be able to please everyone, so stop trying to.  You’ll never, ever be right in everybody’s eyes, so stop trying to.

When you make a decision, ask yourself, “Why am I making this decision?  Is it based on fear?”  Make decisions based on what is right and best for your life, regardless of what others think.

You can live without fear.

3 Positive Steps to discover the purpose of life.

In this article we will discuss the concept of life and its underlying principle. We will be going through a step by step procedure, exploring your feelings and options, and by the end of this article, you should have a fairly solid tool you could immediately employ in your life, to give it a meaningful direction.

There are three steps to the process of discovering the purpose of your life:

Understanding the principle of choice
Creating your underlying principle
Aligning your life with the underlying principle

Understanding the principle of choice

Norman Vincent Peale has this to say about the power of choice. “The greatest power we have is the power of choice. It is an actual fact, that if you have been groping under unhappiness, you can choose to be joyous, instead. And, by effort, lift yourself into joy. If you tend to be fearful, you can overcome that misery by choosing to have courage. The whole trend and the quality of anyone’s life is determined by the choice that are made”.

Choosing is the most important activity of your mind, because by making a choice, you are proclaiming your desires to your subconscious mind. Once the subconscious mind get to know your desires, it is going to do anything to manifest them in your life. The choices you make in your life become your goal. And, if you are sincere in pursuing them, there is no reason why you should not accomplish them.

Indecision, on the other hand, not only creates frustration and anxiety, but can also confuse the subconscious mind about what you want. But it is important that the choices you make are made by you, in accordance with your true desires, purposes and aptitude. A lot us of let others make choices for us, or make our choices according to what we think is ‘correct’, even if that means that we go against our wishes. What is right for someone is may not be right for you, and the way to know this is listening to what your heart says.
So, begin with, make a list of things which interests you; things which you have always enjoyed, which makes you feel better, which inspires you to surge ahead, no matter what obstacles you face. Do you like doing something creative, or something artistic? Do you enjoy nature, do you like the sea? Do you enjoy helping others? Do you get pleasure out of making a difference in other people’s life?

What ever it is that interests you, go ahead and make a list under the following headlines:

Things you love to do:


What is it that you love in this thing and why? How you could do this for money, and make a living out of it?



Creating Your Underlying Principle:

The next step is to examine the list you just made and find out if there is any recurring them. Maybe, it is the contribution that keeps coming up, or an effect to seek or give love, or helping your parents cope with old age. Whatever it is try to identify the central them of the things you love to do, and try to put it in a short and precise statement. This will be your ‘Mission Statement’. It may even be a quote by a famous person, or a philosophy that has influenced you. Of course, as you grow up, this statement could evolve, but its soul will remain the same. Now, write down your Mission Statement.

Aligning your LIFE with the Underlying Principle:

The final step in this journey is to map your path to your ultimate purpose. Make the little changes in your lifestyle that would accommodate this principle in your life. LIVE this principle each and every day. It might take a few days, but you will certainly feel the difference in your enthusiasm for life. If you realize that you love being amidst nature, plan out your holiday. Maybe an outing with your children could be enough to recoup with your energy. On the other hand, you might even want to change your job, or start a new business, that is more in line with your mission.

Remember – “Do what you love, and money will follow”.

Innovation Is A State Of Mind

You probably know the myth of innovation as a sudden flash of insight that comes from nowhere. We read about that "aha" moment, or that light bulb turning on in the mind of some inventor or innovator, and this is true to an extent. Einstein really did get flashes of insight while shaving in the morning. However, he was of course working on the particular problems he had insight into, and he didn't suddenly have ideas for new kitchen gadgets or movie plots.

Einsteins innovations, in other words, no matter how "sudden" the original ideas were, came from past and present mental work. It is like a singer who works at his craft for ten years and then becomes an "overnight success." Innovative people only have "sudden" new ideas because they have habitually worked and thought in certain ways for some time. If you want to become an innovative thinker, then, why not start cultivating those mental habits?

<b>Mental Habits Lead To Innovation</b>

Problems can be opportunities. "Problem" may have a negative connotations, such as being a hassle or stressful, but any problem can lead to an innovation that improves our lives. Not knowing the time lead to clocks small enough to put on our wrists. Nasty diseases lead to sanitary sewer systems. Start looking for opportunity in every problem. Even a mundane problem like not having enough storage space could lead to a new innovation. You may just build a plywood floor in the attic, but you could invent a new type of outdoor storage unit.

Innovation begins with understanding the key elements. Metal, wood or glass are not key elements of a door to an innovator. A way to get in, a way to keep others out - these are key elements. Begin with these, and soon you're imagining new ways to make a door. You could design a door that is opened by your voice (nice when your hands are full), or one that shuts and locks itself when anyone else approaches. Think of the key elements in things.

Attitude helps innovation. The creative problem-solving technique of concept-combination involves combining two ideas to see what new idea or product results. The crucial point is that you assume there will be a useful new idea. Starting with that assumption, your mind will work overtime to produce something. A shoe and a CD have nothing to do with each other, but it took just a minute to imagine a CD player with headphones that only plays the music correctly if a jogger maintains his ideal pace. When you assume there is something there you'll often find something.

Playfulness helps innovation. A playful mind is a creative mind, and while high IQ doesn't correlate with creativity, put it together with playfulness, and you have an Einstein. Remember, he imagined himself riding on a beam of light in order to arrive at his theory of relativity. Why not start playing with ideas and things, in your mind and in your surroundings. Innovation should be fun.

Innovation: The Life Blood Of Your Business

If you’re running or managing a business and want it to be around for a long time, you need to spend a good part of your time innovating. That’s because, in a fast-moving world, where people expect things to get better and better, and cheaper and cheaper, innovation is your route to getting ahead of your competition.

Here are 7 ways to put new life blood into your organization through innovation.

<b>1. Create An Innovative Climate. </b>Goran Ekvall of Lund University in Sweden has defined three conditions needed for a climate of innovation. They are: trust, dynamism, and humour. One of Ekvall’s case studies was a Swedish newspaper where the team working on the women’s section consistently outperformed all the other teams. The reason? Quite simply, this group trusted one another, had a high level of energy and shared a common sense of humour.

<b>2. Develop Washing-Up Creativity. </b>According to the Roffey Park Management Institute, most flashes of inspiration come to people when they are away from work and not forcing their conscious brains to find solutions to their problems. For some, ideas come while mowing the lawn or taking the dog for a walk or playing golf or waiting on a railway station. For Isaac Newton, it was an apple on the head while sitting in the garden. For Archimedes, it was in the bath. For others it’s while doing the dishes; that’s why Roffey Park calls these flashes of insight: “washing-up creativity”.

<b>3. Make New Connections. </b>Making new connections between existing features of your product or service is a popular way to innovate. Akio Morita, chairman of Sony, said that he invented the Walkman because he wanted to listen to music while walking between shots on his golf course. His team simply put together two seemingly incompatible products: a tape recorder and a transistor radio.

<b>4. Find Out What People Need. </b>Necessity is a great spur to innovation. Take, for example, writing paper. The Chinese had already made paper from rags around the year 100 BC but because there was no need for it, nothing came of it. When it did reach Europe in the Middle Ages when writing was all the rage, the supply of rags and worn-out fabric soon dried up. That’s when a French naturalist made the discovery that wasps made their nests by chewing wood into a mash that dried in thin layers. Within 100 years, all paper was made using the idea of wood pulp.

<b>5. Test, Test, Test. </b>Product testing is the way most inventors and organizations go about innovation. It may not be the quickest route to success, but it is often the surest. Jonas Salk, for example, discovered the polio vaccine by spending most of his time testing and testing and continually finding out what didn’t work. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the filament light bulb, recorded 1300 experiments that were complete failures. But he was able to keep going because, as he said, he knew 1300 ways that it wasn’t going to work.

<b>6. Adopt and Adapt. </b>One relatively easy approach to innovation is to notice how others deal with problems and then adapt their solutions to your own. It’s known as “adapt and adopt”. It’s what watchmakers Swatch did when they realized that the more reliable their watches became, the less people needed to replace them. Their solution? Borrow an idea from the world of fashion and collections by turning their watches into desirable fashion accessories. Now people buy Swatch watches not just to tell the time but because it’s cool to do so.

<b>7. Take Lessons From Nature. </b>If you really want to be inventive, you can’t beat nature. The world of nature gives us an endless supply of prototypes to use in our own world. Take Velcro, for example. Velcro was patented by Georges de Mestral in 1950 after he returned from a hunting trip covered in tiny burrs that had attached themselves to his clothing by tiny overlapping hooks. De Mestral quickly realized that here was an ideal technique to fasten material together. A whole new way of doing things was suddenly invented.

The history of the world is the history of innovation. Thomas Kuhn called each acceptance of a new innovation a “paradigm shift”. For once a new innovation becomes accepted, the world has changed for ever and can never go back to the way it was.