In celebration of the upcoming re-launch of Life-Engineering, a motivational image..
Over half of the US population uses supplements. Every year that number increases. Interestingly, there’s no correlation of improvement to public health. (Read about the study in Psychological Science here).
Why is that? Is it that supplements don’t work?
No. Looking deeper, what researchers found is that when someone takes a supplement, say a multi-vitimin, they make a mental “check” that they’ve done their bit of good for their body for the day. Then when mealtime comes, they justify bad decisions. Or that when it comes time to exercise, they don’t feel so bad waving it off.
This is a sweeping psychological problem inhibiting real life progress.
We often do small, simple tasks, which have relatively little real impact, to justify putting off substantial tasks of critical value. We get a false sense of progress. We appease our emotions by doing what’s easy, and not what’s important.
There are real barrier surrounding the big tasks. Whether it’s ambiguity, time, difficulty, or fear (little tasks mean little risks), the bigger tasks are the ones that really need to be done.
Buck up and do the work.
(P.S. I recommend Steven Pressfield’s new book “Do The Work“, which is a practical walkthrough of getting the right stuff done. Even better, right now it’s free!).
There are lots of reasons why you might seek change. Often those reasons are centered around yourself. Your personal betterment.
These are noble causes. You are infinitely capable, after all, and you deserve the very best, those rewards earned through the persistent pursuit of positive change.
But there is yet a higher cause. Something even nobler.
Vince Lombardi was the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers, who led them to capture their first-ever Super Bowl. In the wake of his incredible success and obvious leadership, Lombardi was highly sought after for corporate events.
He translated the principles of leadership and motivation he used on the football field into 7 principles for work and life. Chief among these 7 principles was one that was surprising for the rough and tough football coach… love. Love, he says, is more powerful than hate.
“The love I’m speaking of is loyalty, which is the greatest of loves. Teamwork, the love that one man has for another and that he respects the dignity of another…I am not speaking of detraction. You show me a man who belittles another and I will show you a man who is not a leader…Heart power is the strength of your company. Heart power is the strength of the Green Bay Packers. Heart power is the strength of America and hate power is the weakness of the world.”
Lombardi taught that when your efforts are fueled by love, you work harder, persevere longer, invest more, take greater care, and are less apt to give up.
Some years ago the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, renowned for providing some of the greatest care in the world for children battling cancer, was building a new facility on campus.
Something remarkable happened, a love-born relationship between the ironworkers and the children. As the Boston globe reported:
“It has become a beloved ritual at Dana-Farber. Every day, children who come to the clinic write their names on sheets of paper and tape them to the windows of the walkway for ironworkers to see. And, every day, the ironworkers paint the names onto I-beams and hoist them into place as they add floors to the new 14-story Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.
“The building’s steel skeleton is now a brightly colored, seven-story monument to scores of children receiving treatment at the clinic-Lia, Alex, and Sam; Taylor, Izzy, and Danny. For the young cancer patients, who press their noses to the glass to watch new names added every day, the steel and spray-paint tribute has given them a few moments of joy and a towering symbol of hope. ‘It’s fabulous,’ said [18-month-old] Kristen [Hoenshell]’s mother, Elizabeth, as she held her daughter and marveled at the rainbow of names. It’s just a simple little act that means so much.’”
The children and their parents were certainly touched, but think of the ironworkers, each morning in the bitter cold and biting wind. Their project had become more than just another building. Their work now had meaning. They had purpose.
This kind of purpose, when your efforts are somehow tied to something more than yourself, creates powerful, self-sustaining drive that you simply don’t otherwise get.
This year I helped coach my 14 year old son’s football team. The prior season was a tough one, with zero wins. Coming into the new season with that record created a powerful barrier to success – self doubt. What the boys needed was something to believe in. Something to rally around.
That something showed up on the first day of practice. His name was Austin. Austin was autistic. But he had a huge heart and an infectious sense of humor (which was often manifested by his sneaking up on a coach and inflicting physical pain, which delighted the other boys.)
His parents didn’t have much by way of expectations, but were excited he wanted to play. Austin didn’t have many friends. Until now.
The team embraced him. At first he would only practice a few plays at a time before losing interest, when he would go sit on the side and watch (or sneak up on coaches). Over time he would stay in nearly the whole practice, with help and guidance and patience of his teammates, showing him where to stand and what to do.
We decided we wanted Austin to have a lot of play time. He started, every game, as defensive nose guard, and cycled in and out every couple of plays. His parents were ecstatic at the experience.
We ended the season with 7 wins and 1 loss, and went to the championship game, where again, Austin started.
This was the same team that a year prior had not won a game.
While there were several things we worked on to overcome mental barriers, and be better prepared, in my mind nothing played a larger role, at least in gaining our initial inertia, than the fact that we had something to rally around. We had a cause greater than ourselves. We were motivated by love, by loyalty.
Love imbues your change efforts with unparalleled, uncompromising purpose.
Whatever your change efforts are, find a way to let them be led, or inspired by a cause greater than yourself, and you’ll find your rate of success increasing dramatically.
Let yourself be led by love.
(You can read all of Lambardi’s principles in his biography by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Maraniss: “When Pride Still Mattered“.)
So often, the difficulties we face in trying to embrace and pursue meaningful change in our lives, or simply to accomplish something meaningful, can be tracked back to one of the most simplest problems there is to solve.
The lack of sleep.
It’s a fact, sleep deprivation kills performance. Not only that, but lack of sleep kills creativity too, and memory (especially since it’s during REM sleep, the second sleep cycle, that our brains convert memories from short to long term storage).
In fact, sleep deprivation ends up destroying all higher-processing functions within the brain.
Here’s how that happens (in a nutshell).
When you deprive yourself of sleep a number of important things happen on a neurobiological level.
It’s true, your brain is like a sugar addict, it needs lots of sugar to function. In truth, your brain, while processing, burns up energy (stored in sugars) as much as a fully-flexed quadricep (the largest muscle in your body – in the upper thigh).
As the brain burns through your current supply of blood sugar, it lacks the energy stores it needs to function, and so it just doesn’t, or does so at a much-diminished capacity.
It’s why when you’re tired, you crave sugary foods (like donuts and candy). Your brain needs sugar.
It’s been shown that after 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there’s a 6% overall reduction in glucose reaching the brain.
But it gets worse. The loss of sugar-assets isn’t equally distributed. Most of the loss is in the parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex, which suffer a loss of 12 to 14%. Those are the areas most crucial to thinking.
Those areas are responsible for idea discernment, differentiating between good and bad, and similarly, for social control. In fact, it’s much like being drunk.
In fact, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Business School, Charles Czeisler, states “We now know that 24 hours without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%.”
That’s above all legal limits for alcohol while driving. Predictably, 20% of automobile accidents are cause by nothing more than lack of sleep.
That’s right, going a day without sleep, or a number of days on reduced sleep, and your cognitive impairment is equal to being legally drunk.
Interesting then, why doctors in residency, a field in which you’d most value peak cognition, is designed to deliver just the opposite due to intentionally inflicted sleep deprivation.
Charles Czeisler calls lack of sleep “The Performance Killer“.
The areas of the brain responsible for the highest order of brain activity is the parietal and occipital lobes, along with the prefrontal cortex. Unfortunately, with sleep deprivation, these areas are the first to suffer.
The reason for this, is that the thalamus — the region of the brain responsible for keeping you awake — ends up steeling all of the energy as it works in overdrive to compensate for your lack of sleep.
So all your energy simply goes into staying awake.
An adult needs between 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Less than that and sleep deprivation begins to starve the brain.
So if you care about your brain, and your ability to think, and your capacity to employ all your neuronal powers in your efforts to change your life, impact others, or accomplish something meaningful… get some sleep.
(Image courtesy Sang Yu)
Imagine you’ve been given a garden.
It’s you’re garden, and your responsible for its care. You decide what grows in it. You decide what it looks like. And you get to partake of the fruit that comes from it.
Like any garden, it’s gonna be prone to sprout weeds. Undesirable seeds will occasionally be blown in, and you won’t know it until they sprout. But you get to decide how long those weeds stay. How tall they get.
But be careful, because left untended, weeds have a way of taking over.
In fact, it’s often the case that after prolonged neglect, we look at our garden and see nothing but weeds.
In these times, it’s easy to curse the garden we’ve been given.
It’s also easy to look at the weeds in our garden, and think that it’s too late, or that this is how it was meant to be, and that there’s nothing we can do about it, at least not now.
When you look at your garden and see only weeds, it’s hard to forget that it’s still a garden. The weeds do not define it. They are merely the visible evidence of what you’ve allowed to grow there.
If you don’t like it, change it. It’s your garden.
(This post inspired by long time favorite author Seth Godin’s post here).
(image from **Mary**)
There’s a new Facebook hack that is just now flying through Facebook and it’s very dangerous. Please share this post with your friends so their accounts are not compromised, or if you’ve seen this video from a friend, point them here so they know what to do about it.
How does it work?
You’ll receive a post on your FaceBook wall that looks like this:
First, DO NOT CLICK ON THIS VIDEO if you see it on Facebook.
Here’s what happens if you did. When you click to watch the video, it takes you to a Facebook page (http://apps.facebook.com/lovetoseelines/), which automatically (and quickly) redirects you to another URL outside of Facebook (http://www.flashpuddle.com/usa/index29.php).
The page is “spoofing” Facebook. It looks like Facebook asking for your password, but notice from the browser URL that it’s clearly NOT Facebook. Here’s a screenshot.
It looks very official, and even pre-populates with your Facebook email (which I’ve starred out for privacy purposes). It clearly looks as though you just need to log in again, but if you do, you’ve now given them your Facebook email AND password, allowing your site to be compromised as well.
Presumably, that’s how this virus is spreading around Facebook. A compromised account is bad enough, but it’s all the other information they’re able to get from your Facebook account that is really concerning. Even worse if the password/email combination you use is one you use everywhere else, like with your bank.
WHAT DO I DO IF I’VE ALREADY BEEN COMPROMISED?
If you’ve already fallen victim to this spoof / hack / phishing attack, then you should do several things.
Hopefully, we can quickly get Facebook to remove the offending page and it’s associated originating account.
Be sure to share this with your Facebook friends to keep them all safe.
Okay, so if you haven’t yet heard of Ted Williams, you need to. It’s a great story.
At the beginning of this week Ted Williams was homeless. He was begging on the streets, panhandling at intersections.
Early this week he stood by the side of Interstate 71 in Columbus Ohio holding a sign that said “I have a God given gift of voice”, asking for help.
A reporter for the Columbus Dispatch saw the sign, and chose to video the interaction. He posted the amazing video on YouTube and it instantly went viral, getting over 13 million views in just around 48 hours (an unprecedented explosion of popularity).
Here’s the video:
What happens next is nothing short of motivating, inspirational, and just plain amazing.
Seeing the video, he’s invited onto several shows, including the Today Show, CBS Morning News, and numerous others. He was flown to New York, his home town, by the Today Show, where he was also able to meet his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in more than a decade.
Williams tells his story of starting out as a radio announcer, but falling into alcohol and drugs, to the point where they took over his life, and he lost everything. His family (9 kids – 7 daughters and 2 sons), wife, home, job, everything.
Living in a tent, he finally decided he needed a change. He’s been 2 years clean now.
In the aftermath of the viral video, thankfully captured and brought to YouTube, he’s been offered numerous jobs, including becoming the official voice for Kraft, an announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, and Quicken even called him up and gave him a fully-paid mortgage to buy a house or apartment.
Through it all, he’s keeping God in the center, repeatedly offering up his gratitude in these public interviews.
On the Today show, just a few days after being discovered, he was asked if he had a newfound appreciation for the homeless, to which he replied:
“Please don’t judge a book by its cover. Everybody has their own little story.”
Here are several videos chronicling the inspirational journey.
Interview with Today Show
Interview with CBS
Bob May had always been different. Small, weak, and slight as a child, he was regularly ridiculed, bullied, and made fun of. He spent his whole childhood like that.
Eventually, he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1926 and married the love of his life, Evelyn. Together they had a beautiful daughter named Barbara.
Bob became a copy writer for Chicago based Montgomery Ward. It was the great depression, and they led a modest, but meaningful life, before everything changed.
Evelyn got cancer. She passed away just days before Christmas in 1938. Bob was 34, Barbara was only 4.
Pressed with grief, and stooped in medical bills, the father and daughter struggled to with each passing day.
At work, Montgomery Ward had been purchasing and giving away coloring books each year for Christmas, and this year they decided to make their own to save money. They approached Bob May and asked him to write a story.
Bob thought of his own life, always feeling different, always feeling like you can’t get ahead. He associated with the story of the ugly duckling. Drawing on these powerful emotions, but fueled by the belief in the hidden value within each of us, he wrote the story of a cast-away, mis-fit reindeer.
Originally named Rollo, then Reginald, bob finally settled on Rudolf. He tested it on his 4 year old daughter, who loved it.
He submitted the story to his boss, who was worried about the red nose (fearing the association with drinking and drunkenness). But Bob believed in his vision, and took his friend Denver Gillen, who worked in Montgomery Wards art department, to the Lincoln Park Zoo to create a sketch of rudolf based on real reindeer.
The illustrations gave life to the story, and it was quickly approved for distribution.
Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of their Rudolf booklet in 1939. In spite of wartime paper shortages, which curtailed printing over the next few years, they still printed 6 million copies by the end of 1946.
Post-war demand for licensing the Rudolf character were enormous, but while May was the creator, he held no copyright, and received no royalties.
Finally, a major publisher approached Montgomery Ward wanting to purchase rights to print an updated version of the story. Knowing that May was deeply in debt from Evelyn’s medical bills, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, Sewell Avery, in an unprecedented gesture of generosity, turned the copyright over to May in January 1947.
That year it was printed commercially, featured in theaters as a 9 minute cartoon, and gained huge popularity. May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for a song based on the Character, titled “Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer”.
The song was originally turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, but was finally recorded by Gene Autry and became a phenomenal success. It sold more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas”.
Bob’s belief in the hidden value within us all became a reality that changed his life, and has impacted millions upon millions of people. His vision and belief had become a reality.
May you recognize the light within yourself, no matter how deeply hidden, and find a way to make it real.
This morning I came out to my office to work, and as I was walking over to my desk I looked up and saw my plant.
It’s a Venus Fly Trap. I found it the other day on sale at a local store and bought it immediately. I bought it because it was a symbol of patience. I like to fill my office with symbols, such as this (see Gravity’s lesson on influence – control your environment).
But I hadn’t watered the plant, or fed it, for, well… quite some time.
I suddenly felt a sense of urgency, but the only thing on hand was a partially consumed Monster Energy drink. Figuring it might not do for the plant what it does for me, I rushed out to get it some water. As if somehow the next 10 seconds were crucial in saving it’s life. (This is called the “all of a sudden syndrome“, explained here). As if suddenly, now aware of the situation, pouring my attention on it would somehow compensate for months (sigh, yes months) of neglect.
As I sat there looking at the sad state of my symbol of patience, trying not to think of the irony of it all, my mind grasped hold of a positive lesson I could learn from this loss.
If you want to kill something, stop feeding it.
Yeah, I know, it sounds simple. But when was the last time you fed your spiritual being? When was the last time you felt a powerful emotion? When was the last time you quenched your thirst for discovery? When was the last time you fed your creativity? When was the last time you fed the relationship with your significant other? Or your children? Or your parents?
If you want to kill something, stop feeding it.
Today I went inside for a little break to see what everyone was up to. I walked inside and found my eldest son (13), busily typing away on the macbook pro in the living room. I wondered what he was so intent on.
I let him be and decided to chase a few little ones, playing “who can catch the sussa”. Sussa is the random word my 3 year old invented as sort of a “fill in the blank”. It can mean whatever you want. The game is played by me chasing them down, tackling them, and tickling them as as I shout “Ha! I caught a real life Sussa”… it’s hilarious. At least for me, since I’m not the one getting tickled.
Exhausted, I noticed my oldest had finished his computer project and was down in his room. I decided to pay a visit.
I walked in and found him putting away my sander.
See, he’s been busy working on a gift for a family (who shall remain anonymous, in case they read my blog before Christmas).
He came up with the idea that he wanted to carve walking sticks for each of them. 7 in total, not a small task.
He’s been busy nearly every day, carving intricate designs into the handles of these thick wooden dowels. Each one has been made with great care, following closely the sketches he had made of each handle previously.
Each carving was done using only a pocket knife, while sitting in a hard wooden chair hunched over a bath towel he’s thrown on the carpet in his bedroom to avoid making a mess. I’ve watched him carefully take his shavings outside to dispose of them.
He’s been doing this for several weeks now, and today he finished by carving a common symbol on the top of each walking stick.
To complete the project, he had typed up a note, which was laying on his bed. He said I could read it, and I was touched.
With his permission, I’ve posted it below (minus any info that would give away it’s fortunate recipients).
Merry christmas! I hope you have been having a stellar holiday season!
I’m sure you all know the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, the place of their birth and heritage, to pay taxes. Right when they got there, baby Jesus was ready to be born! So Mary and Joseph had Jesus in a stable. Soon after the the christ child was born, an angel appeared to shepherds and told them to go and see baby Jesus. They did.
But, not too long after the birth of Christ, wise men in a far away land were searching the skies. They saw the star in the east, which as prophesied, meant the magnificent King of the jews, the Messiah, had come into the world.
Now, I’m sure these wise men had very busy lives. They probably had jobs to do, errands to run, appointments to make, and maybe wanted to go see that cool movie that just came out. But, through all that stuff to do, they left their city and traveled for days in the desert following the star. And they finally found baby Jesus and gave him gifts. But I think that the most important gift they gave him was their time. By sacrificing their time, I’m sure that Heavenly father was happy because although they were busy, they took time to seek his son.
The wise men probably had walking sticks, like these that I carved for you. Now, like each of your walking sticks, each of us has an exquisite and complicated life. But each stick is marked with a special symbol to signify your alliance as a family to seek Christ, Just as the wise men joined together and found him. I encourage you to take this christmas season and all the rest of the year to seek Jesus Christ as a family.
How insightful I thought it was, that the greatest gift we can give the Savior at Christmas time, or anytime, is that of OUR time. And what better way to emphasize his point than by spending so much of HIS time, creating an icon for this family to represent it all.
“For inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me” Matthew 25:40.
This Christmas season, I would simply echo the encouragement of my son, to find opportunities to give of yourself, to give of your time, and seek the Lord, at least in part, by serving others.
P.S. Please share this story with others.
The British boyWilliam Ernest Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone when he was just 12 years old. He suffered from the disease until he was 25. Bythen it had progressed all the way to his foot. 13 years.
The doctors then told him that they would have to remove his most severely infected leg immediately, and that if he were to survive, they would need to remove the other one as well.
A strong willed person, he gave the doctors permission to remove just one leg, to the knee, but that he was keeping his other leg.
In 1875, at the age of 25 he wrote Invictus from his hospital bed, the perfect expression of his response to the challenges of life.
Invictus is Latin for “undefeated”.
That’s it, I just had my exit interview with the owner at Agent Image. He’s a really good guy, a lot like me in fact, and it’s been fun working with him.
There’s a distinct sense of finality now. It’s kind of stressful.
But stress can be good. If taken appropriately, it tends to galvanize your resolve. It motivates you, and gives you a sense of urgency.
It also tends to cause you to see things objectively (at least it does me), and whenever you are able to step back from your circumstances and view them from afar, you tend to gain valuable insight and perspective that helps you see where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there.
Most importantly, I’m still very excited about dedicating myself to the Life-Engineering Company.
I derive the most profound joy from trying to motivate people, from teaching correct principles, and seeing the difference they can make in people’s lives.
I have big plans for this website and blog, with products soon to come. I hope you join me for the journey.
True, so they’re undoubtedly sending this out to all their adwords advertisers, but still, I feel special! And how they did it is beyond me, it’s very cool.
Here’s the link to see the video from YouTube, thanking Life-Engineering.com. Notice that with the robotic bees, life-engineering.com is spelled backwards, LOL.
What a great idea. To send a personalized thank you of any sort is just an amazing way to “feed your tribe” and create loyalty, but to do it by creating a viral video customized to you, is just plain awesome.
Google, you’re welcome. And thank you for providing such amazing technology, vision, and opportunities.
I was talking to a friend today about change, and how exciting it is when life forces it upon you (like being laid off before Christmas).
People often feel committed to a particular path, just because it’s what they’re used to, or because they’ve taken it for so long, or because they’ve already invested so much into the it that it seems a shame to waste it all.
They’re so driven by the inertia of their past decisions that they neglect change that could greatly enrich their lives.
This is a psychological, decision-making error called “lock-in”. Companies are guilty of this as well as individuals (if not more so).
That’s where the phrase “don’t throw good money after bad” comes from. But “money” could be exchanged for “time”.
Wherever you’re at in life pick a destination you care about and chart a trajectory to get there. Even if it’s a slow plan that will take a lot of time. What matters most is that you make a plan and start changing direction, even if just by degrees.
As you gain momentum, you’ll be happier, find more fulfillment, and be more successful. Even if it takes a long time. Remember, success, like mastery, is an asymptote.
I think we all tend to look at ourselves and see things we want to change.
For you it might be:
A bad habit to break. A good habit to form. A new approach to something. A new outlook. A new perspective. A new behavior. A new endeavor. A new path. A new way to respond. A new commitment.
For companies it might be:
A new product. A new market. A new message. A new objective. Bigger market share. Better market penetration. Broader market appeal. Better operational efficiency. Higher profit margins.
For families it might be:
More discipline. More fun. Stronger relationships. More education. Better use of free time. More responsibilities. Better sharing. Happier atmosphere. Better grades.
Whatever it is you want to change, whatever it is you want the system (you, work, family, or whatever) to do differently, most often the place to start is not by trying to change the output directly. Usually, the output is the product of the sum of your inputs.
If you want to change the output, you should probably start by changing your inputs.
We’ve often heard the definition of insanity – doing what you always do and expecting a different result.
Sounds obvious, but when it comes right down to applying it in our lives, we forget about it. We struggle to change something, and when it doesn’t happen, we become frustrated, discouraged, and even give up.
Sometimes though, it’s the approach that matters more. A long-jumper doesn’t increase distance just at the jump-line. Distance increase is a product of a lot of things, some of which have to be worked on independently. How strong the arms are, the speed of the approach, getting the timing right, the footing, fast-twitch muscle focus, confidence, etc.
If you want to increase your long-jump distance, you have to focus on your inputs.
Whatever it is you’ve been struggling to change, perhaps you should shift your focus to your inputs.
Often the output side of the equation bears a striking resemblance to the input side of the equation. They’re directly proportional. You just can’t expect an increase in one, without changing the other.
Sometimes your inputs just need a bit of tweaking. Sometimes they need a wholesale overhaul.
Whatever it is, just don’t forget about the inputs.
P.S. Life-Engineering is now my career. Please help support the cause by sharing the site with friends, sharing links on FaceBook, or other bookmarking sites, and by subscribing. Sustained small, incremental support over time has a dramatically cumulative effect, and can ensure more people are able to enjoy these messages. Thank you for being here.