As a young boy I often heard senior people talk about how important information is. It actually took me years to appreciate the depths of what they were talking about. But you know, listening to CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, I believe very few of us - if any - really understand the deep implications structured information handling will have on our lives.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the most dramatic change that the 21st century holds for us.
One of the privileges of being a parent is the opportunity to revisit all the challenges from our own childhood. Only this time, we have the chance to facilitate, rather than "solve".
Even this morning our oldest daughter and I had a long and meaningful conversation about all the things that happen at school and in other settings. How easy it is - as a parent - to jump in with solutions and conclusions (because everything our children say usually brings us straight back to our own early years, right..?!). On the other hand, how much quality is added to the interaction when we leave the talking and the problem solving to our kids. They have the answers. All we need to do is listen and reassure. Don't you find the same?
Here's what I believe really matters when young people are faced with challenges:
Sometimes it's good for us to remember that we're not happhazardly subject to coincidence when it comes to the people we mix and interact with. We can choose our friends, just like we can choose to be a friend. Why not help our kids make up their minds as to what kind of a friend they want to be, as well as what kind of friends they want to have. The people around us powerfully influence how we feel about ourselves. I believe it makes ALL the difference!
(2) Develop a talent How we feel about ourselves determines how active we are. And vice versa, how active we are determines how we feel about ourselves.
A talent does something with the way we perceive ourselves, and thus it directly affects our ability to lift ourselves out of any pit we might fall into. Like we've heard so many times before; the difference between success and failure is simply by how a successful person keeps getting up. Both the successful and the unsuccessful fail, but failure is only failure if at some point we decide not to keep trying.
Here are the lyrics of an inspiring song I learnt many years ago:
I'm not judged by the number of times I fail but by the number of times I succeed and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail, but keep trying
Keep trying, keep trying, keep trying I will succeed if I keep trying Keep trying, keep trying, keep trying I will succeed if I keep trying
But not only me. Another 125 other people were simply blown away by his perfect mix of great content, yet down to earth approach. He made web 2.0 or "Social Web" as a topic come alive to everyone. I can really recommend Even as a public speaker. He has brilliant stories to share and exemplifies what a lot of people should learn and hear about these days.
Just think about it. Tradition, history, memories, heritage, sudden ideas, good advice or inspiring words, discovered purpose, dreams, goals, plans or even newly acquired skills and training or whatever it may be. How do you remind yourself of the things that are most important to remember in your life? Where do you store it? How do you make it come back to you when you need it?
To illustrate, goals are per definition goals only when they are written down. Why? Because if they're not in writing we will tend to forget and lose our focus. I keep my goals in front of me constantly - in my pocket, above my bed, on my desk, my desktop and in my journal. Focus! Focus helps me to spend my strength on the most important and spontaneously serve in the moment.
I was going to list all the good reasons why I get my exercise during the morning hours. But you know what? The details really don't matter.
Bottom line is, when I exercise early morning, I just feel so much better than when I do so towards the end of the day. Conclusion: Evening exercise makes for an OK day. Morning exercise makes my day a great one!
Life can be challenging. Sooner or later everyone "get's it".
When I'm tempted to get emotional and bugged down with negative thoughts I automatically switch into a three step process:
(...and I just recently discovered this is what I'm doing)
(1) I look at myself from the outside First I admit that I'm hurt and that I'm feeling down. If it's really bad and I'm in the middle of what seems like a serious crisis I might even express my feelings out loud. It helps to hear myself complain, because I quickly see how pathetic and self indulgent it sounds.
(2) I find a reference point At this point I will think of all the people around me that are much worse off. I might think of people that are abused, physically disabled, hopelessly alone or even struck by terrible disaster. This kind of thinking makes me appreciate all the good things I still enjoy.
(3) I leverage from strength Once I've caught hold of a positive thought or two, I leverage strength from this to consciously decide that my pain and frustration will not affect the people around me, but that I will do eXactly the opposite; lift and build others quite contrary to how I might feel. This helps me refocus on the people around me, which is so much more inspiring and productive.
On that day, youth ages 10-16 will compete in different fields, all based on a team effort. Our hopes are many, but most of all a) to trigger a keen interest for learning and b) to establish a closer relationship between business and local schools and their education programs.
The LEGO robot needs to complete a series of tough challenges! (Click the picture to get a feel for what this is all about.)
The other day I just realized... I hardly watch TV anymore. Now I'm wondering what happened?
I guess in many ways I've replaced TV time with time on the web. What I used to watch on TV was the news and maybe the odd movie now and then. Sometimes, when there's a major sports event I might actually be in front of the TV, but even sports is offered with greater sophistication online than via the TV these days.
I guess for me it comes down to proactive living and "control". I can control the web, my phone, the DVD player... TV is just so reactive. Given today's time pressures - yes, I've grown up - my schedule and goals are just not in support of leisure left to coincidence.
Who knows, maybe the rise of interactive TV or the merging of web and TV will bring "the big screen" back into my life to some extent. It'll be interesting to see. What about you..? Do you watch TV?
To find more quality in life I have two specific suggestions to what can be done:
(1) Learn to say no to the good
You may have received this advice many times before, but it certainly is worth repeating.
A major source of happiness is giving. Giving is a matter of focus, because it allows you to deliver your very best. Thus, to obtain that focus, there is little need to learn to say no to bad stuff. Most of us handle that pretty well. Far more important is the ability to say no to the good. Today's toughest challenge is deciding what is most important and then stick to it. All the good around us, and there's plenty of it, is the biggest enemy to pursuing that focus. Learn to say no to the good. That's where you'll find the time to spend strength on the most important.
(2) Always dispute deadlines
Making and keeping commitments can really hurt. If you want to be free of other people's agenda in your life, one of the habits that comes in handy is to always dispute deadlines. You'll find that 90% of all deadlines are fictitious, i.e. they're only there because someone feels you should be doing something for them. Next time someone gives you a deadline, make sure to ask: "What is the reason for this deadline?" Once you get the reason (and they don't really want to give it to you) then state: "This does not fit my schedule very well. Can we discuss an alternative deadline or even not decide on one?"
p.s. Deadlines can cause an unnecessary sense of urgency. Of course deadlines are good, but if you're governed by urgencies, this might be a way to get your life back on track. My two cents ;-)