Sunday, August 31, 2014

There are three types of people

There are three types of people
Tim Connor

Yes, there are lots of different types of people but let me focus on just three for now; committers, quitters and vacillators and the winner is . . . read on.

I know, these words might not be found in the dictionary but they certainly should be clear when you consider their meaning.

Committers – these are people who decide, act, persist, believe, don’t quit and just keep on keeping on in spite of mistakes, challenges, obstacles even failure.  They are committed to their goals, purpose or mission with passion, courage, confidence and resilience.

Quitters – these folks stay with the plan only as long as it looks like they want it to look, the outcomes are what they expect and there are few obstacles or problems.  They expect the trip to be easy and without struggle, pain or disappointment.  They lack patience and stick – too – it – iveness.  They are easily discouraged and often like to go into blame or complain mode. 

Vacillators – these people can’t make up their minds.  They sway back and forth from try and do it to quit and give up.  Their actions and reactions are driven by emotions and not faith and comfort and not pain.  They want it their way but they are not always sure what their way is.  The hem and haw, wait and see, hope and don’t try.  These folks buy lots of tickets hoping to hit the jackpot.

When it comes to life and success, happiness and contentment no one gets there in the end travelling the easy path.  Struggle, pain, adversity and challenges are a normal part of life – relationships, health, career, business or finances.  No one gets out of here without sooner or later having their goals, plans, needs or desires sabotaged by the world, others, life or just chance.

Committers face just as many, if not more obstacles, than the quitters or vacillators but their response is to dig in, get creative, learn, ask or study every aspect of what is happening and ask themselves – why?  What can I change?  What caused this? What can I do better, different or faster?  What do I need to learn? Should I just be patient and keep moving forward one step or day at a time or refine, improve or modify before taking another step.

Committers don’t like pain or obstacles any more than the other two groups but they understand that anything worthwhile never happens easily, quickly or without some challenges or failure.  They use failure as a tool to grow and improve.  They use obstacles to find a better or different way and in the end if they chose to stop the forward momentum it is usually because there is something else in their life that brings them more satisfaction, feelings of success or contentment.

They don’t quit, they just change direction but their ultimate purpose is the same – to win, to overcome and to achieve a sense of joy and pride with whatever their outcome or accomplishments were.

Vacillators on the other hand stop and then go, go and then stop, at every turn.  They lack a sense of long term purpose or desire for a certain outcome.  They don’t have specific guiding principles that determine their attitudes, activities or actions.  They define success as a temporary satisfaction and they justify their results, regardless of whether they achieved their goals or not, with excuses, rationales or meaningless statements.  But, in the end they have this constant feeling of uncertainty as to what can I or should I do next?

Then we have quitters, what can I say?  These folks want it their way.  They lack any sense of dedication, responsibility, loyalty or enthusiasm. When an obstacle appears they throw in the towel, start something new or just point the finger at someone or something.  They fail to grasp that life and how it turns out is not up to our; customers, boss, parents, the weather, competitors, the economy, the government or anyone or anything they can think of.

We inherit what we work towards.  We live the consequences of our choices, actions and decisions. We experience what we focus on and give energy to.  We live in a personal world that we create.

So, the winner is . . . well, I’ll let you decide but in the end how we choose to define winning could be the culprit or reason why we have the overall mindset we have and how it impacts our life, our relationships and our future.

Which category would you put yourself in?  And I’m not referring here to just a particular situation, event or circumstance but your overall approach to life?

“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit."
Vince Lombardi

Friday, August 29, 2014

Believing and acting are two different things.

Believing and acting are two different things.
Tim Connor

If you don’t act consistent with what you believe are you a fraud, in denial or just driven by negative emotions or agendas?

In the face of adversity and obstacles it is often difficult to remain true to what you believe – I get this – but in the end if you let circumstances or others determine your responses, decisions or actions  what’s the point in even having beliefs, values or purpose?

I have previously written extensively on the concept of purpose, in this brief overview I would like to focus on the difference between belief and its impact on actions.
Our beliefs are the foundation for our attitudes and mindsets and ultimately are the major contributor to our actions and behaviors.  When there is a lack of consistency between these it is usually due to a few factors.  These are fear, external pressure, uncertainty or some agenda that sabotages our ultimate actions.

Beliefs are grounded in a great deal of history which includes our early conditioning by parents or caregivers, our early influencers such as; teachers, relatives, friends and clergy or our experiences and our responses to them and the outcome of these responses.  

All of this has become a significant part of your brain or mind memory bank. As a result our first reactions to something new are driven by these beliefs but if we fail to act in congruence with them there is always a reason.

Actions can be driven by our need for approval of others, the need for control of our circumstances, the result of other emotional triggers such as anger, resentment, jealousy, guilt or grief or our ego’s need to rule our world.

In the end if we fail to take action consistent with our beliefs maybe it’s time to reevaluate the beliefs we have and their indirect control over our actions.  If we continue to act contrary to what we believe, these beliefs may serve no further purpose in our life as we move into the future.

Here’s a quick example.

A belief that I developed early in life due to my conditioned environment was that I should always do what is right according to the world’s (others) expectations.  Over the years, after continuous disappointment and frustration that in many ways was due to the world (others) expectations of me I discovered that I was losing my identity, self-esteem and passion for whatever I undertook.

After I started speaking around the world I found that the need for acceptance or approval of others was a dysfunctional way to live since it was utterly impossible to be accepted or approved of by everyone I met or who was in an audience or a reader of one of my many books.

The pressure continued by others to tow the line and behave in a way that was according to their rules, the right way to live and behave.  But, come on, do you think that everyone has the same rules? No.  So what’s the answer?  Well, mine was to start living according to my rules and to be willing to accept the consequences of these behaviors.  The result – a great deal more inner peace, less stress, less frustration and the ability to be me whether you like me, accept me, agree with me or not.

As a result I was able to live out my beliefs with consistent action that validated these and when there was a need for a change the change was made not because of others but because I realized a change in some way was necessary or timely.
How about you?

Living consistently with your beliefs as your foundation or constantly compromising them for some reason?

"Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought."
Henri Bergson

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The idol of certainty

The idol of certainty
Tim Connor

“The only thing in life that is certain is its uncertainty” – Oswald Chambers.

Need more control of your life? The future? Good luck with that. Yes, there are many aspects of our life and future we can control – I challenge you make a list!

You eat right, exercise every day, work hard, respect others, save routinely, spend wisely etc and you assume with these “right” behaviors you will have a long, prosperous and healthy life.  Wrong.  Yes these behaviors improve your chance of a long, successful and worthwhile life but let me ask you – do you think there are thousands maybe even millions of people who have followed these rules who suddenly had a traumatic situation in their life they didn’t expect or see coming?  Like – a hurricane, flood or tornado that destroyed everything they owned in a matter of minutes?  Like an auto accident where they were an innocent victim? Like a job loss due to a company downsizing or merger or acquisition?

These examples are numerous and are all outside of our control.  So why do so many people keep themselves in stress mode over all this stuff they can’t control and hope won’t happen to them?

To be honest, I would love to have more control over many of my life and career circumstances but over time and due to continued situations that I didn’t expect or want I have learned to surrender to God the things I can’t control and ask for his guidance to better handle the things I can.

Think about it for a moment – the concept of control – what really is it?  Is it the need to predict outcomes, the desire to determine the results of your decisions, the ego need to believe that in the end you have total power to manage all of your life circumstances so they all turn out according to your expectations?

I believe that the need for control is a form of Idolatry or addiction driven by fear, a lack of faith and little confidence or self-belief.  Stuff happens to all of us and a lot of this stuff on the surface can appear to be dramatic, traumatic or negative but I ask you to look back at areas where you had no control and things over time worked out.

Yes, there are many situations that have happened to all of us where we feel they were unfair, unwarranted or even unjust causing us to feel like victims but I believe that stuff happens for a reason and we may never know the reasons, but in the end we have a choice – whine, complain, agonize or let these situations strengthen us, help us to learn or just become wiser.  These are not always easy, but over the years I have studied the lives of numerous people who have had significant positive impact on the world and human life and in every case these people often faced significant challenges and even heartbreaking circumstances but used this uncertainty to grow, change, improve, learn and begin again.

What is your life approach to uncertainty? Do you use it as a tool to improve or as an excuse to blame, wait or withdraw?

Do you know someone that is addicted to control?  Are they happy?  Stressed? Angry? Filled with regret? Spend a great deal of emotional energy in disappointment?

Control is an obsession for many people and it often takes a great deal of pain even failure for them to finally realize that life isn’t always the way they think it should be or they deserve or want.  But in the end like it or not – life or God is in control of most of our life’s opportunities, challenges and outcomes.  We can resist or we can flow.  My experience has taught me to take aggressive control of what is within my power and to let go of all of the stuff that isn’t like – other people’s reactions or responses, goals that for whatever reason are not achieved, disappointments that just keep on coming, emails that are not responded to, telephone calls that are not returned, promises by others that are not honored, drivers who cut me off, lines I didn’t expect – got the picture – life happens - in spite of all of my effort, prayer and hope.

How about you - surrendered yet or still spending time in stress mode trying to manipulate the actions of others and the world?

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is absurd.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When was the last time you . . .

When was the last time you . . .
Tim Connor

When was the last time you (I could ask hundreds of questions here but I’ll stick to a few);

-Thanked God for all of your many blessings?
-Told someone special how special they were?
-Read a good book to improve your life?
-Re-connected with someone in your past?
-Did an act of kindness for a stranger?
-Forgave someone for some behavior or action?
-Laughed, had fun and just enjoyed another day?
-Let go of something in your life that needed an ending?
-Set a goal and worked toward it till you succeeded?

There are so many more questions like this but my point is to ask you to focus on or consider any area of your life that may need some upgrade, changes, surrender, gratitude, energy or resources.

I know this topic could be a book but for now let’s consider why people wait, don’t act, procrastinate or are in denial regarding some of life’s important decisions and actions.

Why do we wait?

Hope is a wonderful mindset but hope without some kind of positive action can be a useless exercise. I believe in hope but the Quakers have a great saying, “Pray, but move your feet.” Waiting is sometimes a useful activity when you can’t control outcomes but waiting when you have some control again, can be a waste of valuable time.

We sometimes wait because we feel we have no control or because we fear what our proactive attempts might produce.  We are living in the future when this is our strategy and you can’t do anything tomorrow.

I believe in the power of patience however patience is not an excuse not to act even in small ways to gradually move forward, get results, overcome obstacles or learn in the process.

We are in denial?

No one likes negative circumstances, well, let me rephrase this, people who lack confidence, courage, self-esteem or self-belief don’t like negative circumstances.  Over the years I have studied many great examples of people who exhibited courage whether political, social, sports, scientific or any life area.  I could give you hundreds of examples where obstacles motivated these people to greatness that they might never have achieved if their journey had been easier.

Nothing of significance is created without effort, sacrifice, time and courage – I don’t care if it’s raising good kids or inventing technology that changes the world, in the end success comes from the courage and willingness to face obstacles and find creative solutions regardless of their discomfort or difficulty.

When we are in denial about reality – what is – we set ourselves up for disappointment, discouragement and just more obstacles in the future.

Denial – why don’t you define it. For me it is simply the inability to face circumstances that we didn’t want, don’t like or don’t feel we can handle or overcome.

Back to the title – when was the last time you . . . Are you avoiding some action or decision - from a simple thank you to a heartfelt admission that might improve someone else’s life or your own?  Why?  Fear? Ego? Regret? Anger? Resentment or some other emotion that is preventing you from finally taking action.

I’ll close with a simple example.

Recently I was on a plane and was sitting next to a woman in her 70’s who admitted that they hadn’t talked to their daughter in over 20 years.  They had had a disagreement years ago and they all decided that they would just no longer keep in touch.  What a shame.  Imagine the pain during all these years simply because no one could forgive?

Does this happen?  Yes, unfortunately thousands if not millions of times every day.  Are you guilty?  Do you need to do something you have been putting off maybe even for years?

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything.
If you want time - you must make it.”
Charles Buxton