Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who wrote your script

Who wrote your script
Tim Connor

Having acted in a number of plays during my life I learned the importance to sticking with the script of the role I was playing. One – to maintain the integrity of the theme as written by the author of the play and two – to enable the other actors to play their parts correctly so they can follow their scripts as well.  As I was recently thinking about the parallels between acting and life in general it occurred to me that most of us are just performing our parts as we move through our lives.  We are just playing our parts and living by the scripts we were given by a variety of directors, producers and writers.

Let me explain.

There are four elements in rewriting your life script if the one that is currently dominating your life isn’t working for you.

What’s true –

The scripts actors follow are designed to create certain outcomes – laughter, uncertainty, suspense etc.  The lines are crafted to create these outcomes or reactions.  Much of the scripts we were given by life (parents, schools, churches etc.) were only what either these people believed or what they wanted us to believe.  The problem is that their agendas for us might not have been in our long term best interests.  It’s not about truth from them but what they wanted us to believe, how they wanted us to behave or feel.  Yes, these sources were like the directors of a movie or play – they had an agenda but the question is – should we follow it or as many actors do during performances – improvise – bringing their own interpretation to the lines they say or the circumstances they face during a performance.

Most of what we have been given as our scripts is not true; yes it might have been true for others but not necessarily for us given our own dreams, talent, goals or circumstances. Most of us need to improvise and only keep the elements of the scripts that were given to us that make sense or work for us – given the realities of our life.  We need to discern what is true and what isn’t.

Some of the values, beliefs etc might be of tremendous value and we need to hold on to these but the question is – do we really know what is true or what was just their perceptions or interpretations of truth?

What’s untrue –

As I consider the information that was given to me by the sources mentioned above I have come to realize that mush of what was given to me was not true but grounded in someone else’s agenda for me.  For example.

When I became a self-employed author and speaker - this went against the desires and teaching of my parents.  They wanted me to get a regular job with a regular paycheck.  It was their opinion that this was the only way to have financial security.  During my early years they did everything they could to discourage me from pursuing my dream for my life.

As a teenager I attended the church of my choosing and was given a great deal of religious dogma (do’s and don’ts) but over the years I have come to believe differently based on a great deal of reading, personal experience and prayer.

Religious beliefs about God vary greatly depending on a particular church’s views and interpretations of scripture.  A number of years ago I decided it was up to me to get to the truth by carefully and routinely reading scripture and bringing my Spirit into the process.

Unlearning –

Unlearning is often more difficult than learning.  Learning only requires exposure the new material and then accepting its value or relevance to your goals, needs or life. Unlearning is a much more difficult process, but the two are related in many ways.  For example if you don’t know what you need to unlearn it is difficult to discover what new learning may be available or necessary or how to go about new learning to change mindsets, opinions, values, beliefs or attitudes.

Let me give you a quick example.

One of the things I have needed to unlearn during my life was the attitude of control.  I wanted control, I needed control and therefore when I didn’t have it I often made stupid mistakes taking actions too soon or too often that ultimately ruined or even destroyed relationships or the potential for new opportunities.  Over time I came to realize that this need for control, which by the way I developed very early in life, was counterproductive to the outcomes I was trying to achieve.

Unlearning requires courage, patience, effort and a willingness to let go of something you may be very comfortable with, but just isn’t working in your life.

Rewriting your script –

To re-write your script requires six simple (but not easy) steps;
1)   Learning to let go of old habits, beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that are not contributing to the outcomes you want to achieve.
2)   The awareness that something needs to change.
3)   The willingness to make the appropriate changes.
4)   The decision to make them.
5)   Taking appropriate actions until the changes occur.
6)   Start.
What do you need to learn?  Unlearn? Let go of?

“Men must decide on what they will not do, and then they are able to set with vigor in what they ought to do.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The journey from success to significance

The journey from success to significance
Tim Connor

Significance - the quality of having importance or being regarded as having great meaning.  Does this help? Not for me.  My take – taking success to a much higher level where your actions, behavior, attitudes and beliefs have a lasting positive effect and impact on others and the world as your life journey unfolds.

Success – over the years I have read hundreds of definitions of success, I have even developed my own, but with some recent evaluation and study I have come to the conclusion that success can’t be described or defined.  Let me explain as I am sure you will take issue with this statement.

Success is many things to many different types of people. Differentiating between a parent that raises a successful child and a CEO who runs a huge conglomerate is a different issue, however success for one can mean something totally different for another.  So, whose definition is right or relevant?  As an author I have written over 80 books and some authors have only written one and have made more money than me and are more well known, but how we each define success can be different.

If I have helped just one person with my writing how is that not being as successful as a someone who has made millions on book sales?  Well, if you choose to define success with money only they are and I am not, however if you chose to define it based on service - is it possible that even though I have helped only a few people am I not as successful?  Again it depends on how you choose to define success. Ask one thousand people to define success (and I have many times during my presentations) and you will get hundreds of different answers.  So, who is right?  Or better still - is a different definition wrong.  See where I am heading here?

Therefore, if you only choose to define success based on set goals and their accomplishments - what if you did something better (that wasn’t a goal) as you headed towards your goals or objectives?  Most people in life don’t set goals and yet many of them accomplish a great deal.  Many people work for years trying to achieve a goal and always fall short.  I have been the recipient of both outcomes.  Yes, goals are a helpful and valuable life strategy, but they are not always a requirement for ultimate success as each of us chooses to define or describe it.

Success is not just doing something better, something more or achieving anything.  What if you achieved a financial goal, but found yourself with less contentment, inner peace or even destroyed relationships in the process.  Were you a success?

I could go on with other examples, but I am sure you are either buying into this by now or you are not and if you are not there is most likely nothing more I can say to change your mind.

So how does one take the journey from success to significance?

There have been many significant people who have walked the earth during the past two thousand years.  I won’t give you a list, but mention a few categories.
Who can you think of that achieved significance (and I’m not talking here about fame, power or wealth) in;

The arts.

See if you can come up with at least one person in each category and then ask yourself – what made them significant?

I’ll bet each of them;
-Made a positive difference in the world.
-Devoted their lives to something bigger than their chosen field.
-Were not interested in nor did they pursue fame or fortune.
-Left (if they have passed on) a positive legacy that will last for many years.
-Were passionate about their chosen field.
-Never let ego or arrogance rule their actions, behavior or decisions.
-Made you wish you could have known them personally.

Where are you on the journey from success to significance?  Stuck in the superficial traits of this lifestyle? Leaving success behind as you travel to the higher ground of significance?  Or somewhere in between.

“The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear."
Vincent Van Gogh

The what, why and when of learning

The what, why and when of learning
Tim Connor

If you are not learning and growing – you are slowly dying – if not physically then mentally, emotionally or spiritually. What does learning have to do with your – body, mind, emotions and spiritual life?  I could go on for pages but let me keep this short and to the point.

Evidence shows that people who have a “life-long learning” philosophy or outlook tend to be more successful, content, happy and healthy over the long term than people who end their learning after high school or college. This isn’t true in all cases, however what do you have to lose to keep learning?  I’m not talking here about filling your mind with endless information available today or even increased knowledge, but the application of knowledge to experience creating wisdom.

The what – There is so much we can learn in life and deciding what has value for us now or in the future can be a challenging task.  I have a friend who is an expert on movies.  Mention the name of a movie going back fifty years and she can give you all of the details.  I recently visited a science museum in Minneapolis and was amazed at the simple facts that have been available for hundreds of years that I was unaware of – what a wonderful experience.

There is career learning, relationship learning and general life learning which includes so many topics.  There is health learning and emotional learning.  There is spiritual learning and learning how to be content and have inner peace. Yes, over the years what was once fact is now often not true, but this shouldn’t prevent us from continuing to expose ourselves to the opportunities that life offers when it comes to learning new information that can contribute to our ability to live life more aware, vibrant and with greater success.

Do you have a daily learning philosophy?  And I’m not talking here about just flowing through life and “learning from daily experience” but a routine approach when it comes to reading, exposing yourself to new ideas and being open to information that you may find valuable one day in the future.

The why – Know someone who is stuck in some area of their life?  Know someone who is struggling with some of life’s challenges or adversities?  Know someone who needs a new life outlook?  Do you need any of these or others?

Everyone I know who has a “lifelong learning” approach has very specific reasons for this philosophy.  They want to serve others whether family members, employees, friends, customers or even total strangers who cross their path. They learn to share.  They learn to help and they learn to increase the value of their life and the years they are given.

The when – This one is easy – never stop learning, growing and discovering.  You will never know how what you learn today will have a positive impact on your life or the lives of others in the future.  Waiting to learn when adversity, challenges or problems show up in your life is a recipe for wasted time, effort and resources.  Preparation vs. reaction is always a better approach to anything in life.  Prudence vs. recklessness is a far better way to deal with any circumstances that you didn’t expect or plan for.

“The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all.”
Harry S. Truman

Monday, April 21, 2014

Are you playing offense or defense?

Are you playing offense or defense
Tim Connor

You don’t have to be an athlete to know the difference between offense and defense.  But let me define them in terms of this article.

Offense – To attempt to gain more. To reach out. To experiment with new approaches or ideas. To take initiatives to extend your success.

Defense – to protect or guard. To hold on to what you have. To observe, detect or watch. Playing it safe and cautious.

You may take issue with some of my above definition points, but read on and you will know why I chose these words. What do these two life approaches have to do with success?

There are two ways to live life – to grow, extend, learn, experiment, try, create and move or wait, hang on, protect, hope and cling to what is comfortable and known. Which do you think;

Adds a sense of adventure to life?
Helps you achieve more?
Is more fun and yes risky?
Prevents boredom, malaise and apathy?
Triggers new answers, solutions and tactics?

If you are not sure, of the answers to these questions I have to wonder if you are locked in a cave somewhere peering out now and then to see if it’s safe to come out in the open.

Creativity is built into each of us, but the demonstration and use of it is often curtailed due to any number of fears, memories or concern for the uncertainties of life.
Victim’s mindsets tend to keep them stuck in a victim mentality and they seldom try anything new assuming it will just bring more of the same – disappointment, failure, frustration, anxiety and stress – so why bother – just stay the same, doing the same things in the same way.

Offense is reaching out and trying knowing that not everything may work out in the end, but it is better than remaining stuck.  Defense is safe, but it prevents growth, new learning and ultimate happiness, inner peace and success.

Show me any athletic team that consistently wins by only playing a great defense.  Yes, going on offense can increase failure, problems and adversity, but consider the opposite – you can’t win if you don’t score and to score you have to go on offense.

No one likes failure, but it is necessary to succeed.  No one likes problems but they can help us grow if we will use them as learning tools.  No one likes adversity, but it is just one of life’s circumstances no matter whether you are on defense or offense.
What’s your life strategy?  Playing offense or defense or playing them both when appropriate?

Yes, there are times when we need to be on defense, but to remain stuck in a defense mindset due to fear will never advance our objectives, goals or agendas – sooner or later you have to play offense to improve outcomes.

Why do some people spend most of their life on defense?
There are far too many reasons, but let me discuss the three most common ones.

Fear –
The number one reason people fail to go on offense is they are unsure whether they can handle what their actions will bring into their life.  They feel safe on defense.  They feel in control, but this control is an illusion as God doesn’t want us to stay on defense – He wants us to make a difference in the world with the talents, skills and opportunities He places on our path.  When we live a life on defense we fail to achieve our potential and live a joyful and productive experience.  Yes, the ability to play defense is vital, but to stay stuck in this mindset is counterproductive.

Uncertainty – Nothing in life is certain nor will it ever be.  To always expect your plans, goals, needs and desires to be accomplished as you have established or determined is to live in denial and emotional immaturity. The only thing we can do in life is live and then handle what comes our way using our wisdom, experience and lessons to address these issues with confidence and faith.

Low self-esteem – We all know what self-esteem is – it’s simply how you define yourself – your ability, your talent, your experience, your life outlook and your self-worth.  A person playing defense tends to have low self-esteem – they don’t believe they are capable of dealing with life’s issues in a positive or productive way.  They believe that the best approach in life is to hope, wait and then react. Yes, life demands this of us frequently, but in the end - always being on defense prevents the expression of free will, trust and self-belief.

In the end life is just that – life.  It comes at us relentlessly each moment of each day.  We can take a protective stance and just deal with stuff as it shows up or we can take initiative and keep moving forward.  It’s a simple choice - but not an easy task.

Lord, grant me that I might always desire more
than I can accomplish.”