Friday, May 27, 2016

It’s all trivia . . .

It’s all trivia . . .

Tim Connor

You are born then you die – the rest and everything in between is all trivia. I can hear you now – “are you crazy, don’t you have a clue as to what I have to put up with every day – kids, bosses, customers, spouses, family, financial challenges, career decisions, fellow employees.” – “Yes, I hear you – and - blah, blah, blah, and again – blah, blah, blah.”

Now is a very short time and eternity is forever and I don’t give a rip about what you believe or don’t spiritually – there is more to the life experience than just 60 or 70 years on earth dealing with its trivia. 

Now don’t get me wrong – natural disasters that take your home away, criminals who steal a loved one from you or getting diagnosed with a life threating disease in your teens is big stuff but in the end looking back over your life, let me ask you - did you spend too much valuable time in stress, worry, frustration, anxiety, despair, discouragement, fear etc. on stuff that really didn’t matter or that you came to realize it wasn’t worth the emotional energy, time or resources you gave it?  I’ll bet every one of you, if you are honest, the answer is yes to something or even a lot.

So, what is trivia – well for starters it depends on several factors; your expectations that don’t come to fruition, your time and effort that end with failure or more problems, the money spent on stuff that you recently threw away or donated, relationships that end badly or too soon – I could go on but if you are honest you will come to the same conclusions – in the end when you are getting ready to head over to the other side and your time here is finished none of that will have been worth giving it more than it deserved.

Why do we stress and fret over life’s trivia – is it ego, the need for control, the desire to look good or achieve other’s approval or something else much deeper?

I believe the life approach to overrating trivial stuff that is one of the significant factors is simply self-aggrandizement or the basic need to feel like who you are and what you do – matter. This need includes the ability to accept who you are, no matter where you are in life, to be OK with what you have or don’t have and the belief that what you do is important – from being mother or a janitor, from the sales rep to the CEO, from the retiree to the 20 year-old.

Let me ask you – are you stressing today about anything?  Come on be honest.  OK if not today how about this week or this month or even this year? Or, do you feel in total control of every aspect of your life – I will seriously doubt the latter – that is unless you are living in denial in a cave somewhere in Colorado.

Why not spend a little time creating what I call a “I am in control of - list and a what I am not in control of - list?” You might be surprised at what shows up on both lists but in the end the stuff on your can’t control list is all trivia folks whether you agree with me or not or whether you like it or not.

I won’t bore you with my 50 plus years of career, financial, business and relationship challenges, but looking back now the realization that I gave them more time and energy than they deserved is a far greater disappointment than the actual stuff that happened.

So before I move on to my next trivial matter let me just say that whatever you are dealing with or facing in life now or today over - time will be lost in large wastebasket of regrets.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Life is more than second chances!

Life is more than second chances!

Tim Connor

Ever made a bad decision, mistake or just wish you could erase a previous action, choice or outcome?  This makes you normal, but the real question is – do you still feel the regret or pain of one of these actions and are you still living with the inability to let go – even to the point of missing a second or even third chance that life always offers?

Trust me – I have made more than my share of poor choices and life and career decisions, but life has always come through offering me the opportunity to begin again whether in a relationship, business activity or any number of life areas.

What are second chances and why do we fail to recognize or take advantage of them? The first question is easy but the second one deserves a little more understanding.

Second chances – When life says – it’s OK you can try again even though you screwed up last time.  Pretty simple – wouldn’t you agree?

But the real question is - why do we fail to recognize or take advantage of them?  There are many reasons but I believe most of them fall into one or more of the following categories; fear, ego needs, you are closed off emotionally, low self-esteem, resistance or fear of change, stuck in blame or whining or sustained anger or regret.  Let’s take a brief look at each when it comes to missing second, third or even a tenth chance.

fear – the number one cause of all negative emotions is fear or the mindset that life is giving you something you don’t deserve or want. When we fail or face severe challenges, problems or mistakes we have two choices fear what’s happening and what could or might happen or learn from – whatever – and move on wiser.  Not always easy or for some people even possible but in the end you can choose to remain stuck or begin again.

ego needs – the ego can’t admit mistakes, failure or poor performance or outcomes.  It circles the wagons and draws a line in the sand or often just goes into denial.  But, in the end – it is what it is – and you can accept, admit or face it or pretend it isn’t happening or didn’t happen.  But, in the end it did so none of these tactics will help you grow, improve or change for the better.

you are closed off emotionally – shutting down emotionally and failing to experience, acknowledge or display your reaction to what is happening (tears, managed anger or even laughter) just increases your stress and your method of justification for your responses.  In the end however the emotional pain that you experience is a warning, guide, helper if you will only pay attention and learn from it what it is trying to teach you.

low self-esteem – If you don’t like yourself or feel you are worthy, worthwhile or special (not in an arrogant way) you will always let what is happening control you and fail to learn or change. Your common response is almost always “I deserve or deserved this.”

resistance or fear of change – Life changes.  Nothing remains the same. Everything ends sooner or later. Change is not good or bad or anything in between, it is simply life unfolding one moment, one day or one year at a time. Resisting what is will never maintain the comfortable status quo – things will just keep changing and you can interpret it as a positive opportunity or something to regret and try to hold on to for dear life.

you are stuck in blame or whining – Get over it. Enough said.

sustained anger or regret – when you are stuck in regret or anger (both negative emotions) you will fail to recognize something new that could be a wonderful next step or potential opportunity.  You are so wrapped up in your feelings that even a slap on the side of your head with a baseball bat won’t get your attention.

So, have you been given a second or third chance lately? Have you honored, it or avoided it or run from it?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Real life begins at the edge of your comfort zone

Real life begins at the edge

of your comfort zone

Tim Connor

Why is it that some people live with a risk mentality and others always play it safe?  For the people who play it safe - is it fear of the unknown, the need for control, impatience, ego needs or some other rationale or mindset? Let’s talk about your comfort zone and its impact on your future.

What is a comfort zone?  My perspective is that it is only acting, deciding or moving only where you feel you can control outcomes, consequences or circumstances.  In other words – you don’t invest in financial markets, you don’t try new tasks or hobbies, you don’t take vacations to new locations, you are afraid to start new relationships etc.  You just go with what you know or feel offers little or no uncertainty and yes emotional comfort.  Well let me tell you – the only thing that is certain in life is its uncertainty – so if this is true and believe me it is – why do people stay stuck in what they know, feel, believe or think even though they live with an inner urge to change, try or do something new or different? 

Here are a few of the common ones – risk avoidance, low self-esteem, insecurity, out of control fear, off the chart egos, arrogance, the need for approval and a pessimistic mindset.

Risk avoidance – life is risk – period.  The only way to avoid risk is to die.  Everyone defines risk uniquely according to their comfort zone but what if your comfort zone is grounded in safe or how you define safe and what if your definition of safe is wrong, outdated or just plain stupid?

Low self-esteem – when you lack belief in yourself you will tend to always play it safe avoiding anything that might disrupt your sense of balance or emotional stability.

Insecurity – insecurity is a lack of self-trust and if this is one of your guiding principles you will tend to avoid risks of any kind simply because you think you are not worthy.

Out of control fear – if you fear something, anything you will always only do what you feel will always turn out positively.  If you feel there is any chance of failure, mistakes, criticism or problems you will settle, avoid and stick your head in the sand.

Off the chart egos – a large ego wants to always look good to others, therefore you will have difficulty admitting mistakes, failures or situations where you might look weak or inadequate.  You may take risks but only when you believe or are confident they will turn out well.

Arrogance – arrogance is a close cousin of pride and pride can never admit weakness. So if something new potentially puts you in a position of risk you will blame, point the finger or go into a state of denial.

The need for approval – if you always need the approval of others sooner or later you will discover that when you constantly live with this as your guiding principle or mantra you will eventually lose yourself and become a combination of traits that you feel will never put you in jeopardy of rejection.

A pessimistic mindset – pessimist’s always see the negative no matter how positive anything can be.  These folks can’t admit to success, achievement or anything positive so when they take any kind of a risk they need an escape plan or something or someone to blame.

So, having said all this why live outside your comfort zone?  Well, I could go on for pages but here are just six reasons – they will give you -

Greater confidence

New friends/relationships

More fun

More positive memories

New adventures

New skills

Let me close with two simple questions – are you living outside or inside your comfort zone in some area of your life? Why or why not?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life’s three essential choices

Life’s three essential choices

Tim Connor

You might think life has more than just three choices and you would be right but the three I want to share are simply some of the biggest ones we will ever make.  They are – change it, accept it or leave.  Let me explain.

Whether it’s a career position, a business, a client, a boss, a relationship or circumstances often we tolerate people or circumstances longer than we should or are even necessary.  There are numerous reasons why we put up with these kinds of situations or people, but in the end the price we pay for staying too long can have a negative impact on our attitudes, self-esteem, life outlook and future opportunities.

Let’s say you have a supervisor who invalidates you, doesn’t respect you and is always criticizing you unnecessarily – got the picture?  You have three choices when it comes to this person – change them, accept their behavior or leave. 

Now I’m not suggesting that you throw in the towel quickly or easily but in the end is staying in this situation longer than necessary hoping they will change or improve or would your future and life be better served to just accept that they are who they are and you will just have to deal with them. 

However, if you can’t change them and you can’t bring yourself to accept their behavior as it is wearing you down and having a negative impact on other areas of your life or relationships – well the only other option is to leave.

Personally I have put up with bad bosses on a few occasions in my life and just decided I would rather go broke working for myself than get wealthy working for someone else.  Again I am by no means suggesting that you should do the same as I have done as each of us has our tolerance levels for other’s poor behavior but when you are staying longer than you know you should for the wrong reasons – you know it in your heart.

How about a personal relationship?  Let’s say you have been dating or married to someone for several years and you just can’t deal with their pessimism, intolerance, nagging – whatever - and it’s starting to affect other relationships at work, with friends or even total strangers – so you have a choice – you can try and change them – good luck.  But, if you can’t and putting up with their issues is wearing you down emotionally, spiritually or even physically then your next option is to just accept who they are and how they behave knowing that they will not improve or change.  But, if accepting them or it is beyond your level of values, tolerance, compassion or understanding all you have left – you got it – leave.  Again, I’m not suggesting that as soon as someone behaves badly or upsets you that you should walk away from the table however you have to decide the consequences of staying too long or leaving.

I might add that the biggest times of stress in your life are when you can’t change something or someone but you refuse to accept them or when you can’t accept them and you won’t leave.

So, there you have it – change it or them or accept it or them and if you can’t do either your choice is deal with it without complaining and whining or leave.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Start strong or finish strong. Which approach do you think is better?

 Start strong or finish strong.

Which approach do you think is better?

Tim Connor

And your opinion is . . .

Since I’ll wager you already have an opinion the real question is – are you open and receptive to another viewpoint?  If not – get back to work or play – whatever – but if you are read on.

During the early years in my career as a speaker I was told by many of my peers that I needed a strong start as the end of my career was many years into the future – “Don’t worry about that now” they would all say.  Then as the years passed people started telling me it was how I finished that mattered. OK so which is it – or is it both?

In sports they call it the “quick start” approach.  In other words, the team that scored first tended to win the game – call it momentum or whatever.  Many coaches still teach this concept.  Now, I’m not saying they are wrong but if you start strong and your competitor regains momentum – then what?

Yes, starting strong will tend to create positive momentum but the real challenge is keeping it going.  But, here’s the issue - if you start strong and then stuff happens; a recession, economic uncertainty, buyer trends, new products or technologies, new competitors etc. are you able to overcome these and keep moving strong?

Since the beginning of my speaking career in 1973 – yes long gas lines if you are old enough to remember – I have weathered four recessions or whatever you want to call them.  I started strong but four times my momentum slowed down and even almost came to an end on two occasions. Keeping momentum wasn’t easy or in some cases took everything I had just kept plodding along.  So, my strong start at this stage meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. So, now what?  Well, all I have left is to end strong.  Does that mean starting over? No. But it does mean a “reinvent” mindset or mentality?  Yes.

OK, so you are in the sunset years but not quite ready to call it quits as you still have some years in front of you.  Can you still finish strong or even finish at all?  It depends.  On what you ask?  It depends on courage, confidence, skill, perseverance and a willingness to “reinvent” yourself, your life, your career and/or your business.

Or, you are in the early stages of your career or a business and filled with hope, optimism and big plans.  Trust me – sooner or later you will have to deal with some kinds of obstacles that can derail you or even cause you to consider quitting.  It’s a choice folks and often not an easy one.

So the answer to the title question from my perspective is – both.  Start strong and end strong and in between – just keep evaluating, revisiting, improving, growing, changing and never letting go of your goal, dream or desire no matter how the years may change or modify it or how circumstances cause you to consider a “reinvent” option.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Want consistent success - ask yourself 3 simple questions!

What are you doing that’s working? What are you doing that’s not working?  What did you used to do that used to work that you have stopped doing?

I ask myself these three questions every month to help me ensure that I am effectively using my time and resources.  I also ask these three questions of every audience asking them to consider effective changes that could or should be made and what they can continue doing that is contributing to their growth, improvement and success.  Let me explain a bit further the process and incredible benefits of this simple approach.

What are you doing that’s working?

You choose to define working but be careful that you don’t let your ego, insecurity, the need for approval and old emotional baggage get in the way.  Ask yourself - what am I doing in my – life, career, thoughts, beliefs, business, money management, relationships, health and personal development etc. that is working?

What should you do with the stuff that’s working?  Simple – keep doing it, thinking it or believing it. It’s working.

What are you doing that’s not working?

Ask yourself - what am I doing in my – life, career, thoughts, beliefs, business, money management, relationships, health and personal development etc. that is not working? I repeat you get to define – not working. 

Why are you still doing it? Why can’t you let it go?  Why can’t you change?  Not easy questions but vital ones if you want to stay on the road to success, happiness and contentment. Let it go, change it, stop it, start something new.

What did you used to do that used to work that you have stopped doing?

Ask yourself - what did I used to do that used to work that I have stopped doing?  Same topic areas as above.

Have you let technology replace the human connection?  Have you lost relevance in the marketplace or your career? Have you started something new letting go of what has worked in the past because of fear, pressure or political correctness?

Let me give you one quick example.  When my first book Soft Sell hit the market in 1981 there was no internet, I couldn’t get it into book stores and my funds were limited.  So my approach was to send ten autographed copies to company presidents nationwide every week – week after week.  Within 5 years the book had sold over 250,000 copies (over 50,000 copies every year).

OK, my point. For some reason after several years I stopped this approach and replaced it with social media, the internet and emails. Yearly sales dropped dramatically. So, when I asked myself this question several years ago, I decided it was time to reinstate this strategy.

These three simple questions can have a dramatic impact on every area of your life if you will take the time to seriously consider your answers.  As a side note if you run a business why not ask your employees to answer these questions – you might be amazed at what you learn.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The question should be – why not me rather than why me!

The question should be – why not me rather
than why me!

Tim Connor

Have you ever said “why me”?  Come on – be honest here – sooner or later everyone feels like some area of life has not been fair to them and their usual response is “why me or why now.”

Why not look at these life situations or circumstances a little differently with a “why not me”.  Let me explain.

Think about it – no matter what has happened or how bad something seems consider that there could possibly be someone in the world who has it worse.  I could give your dozens of global statistics when it comes to poverty, sickness, death, the shortness of life, poor income etc. but I’m sure you are familiar with some of them unless you are totally immersed in yourself without a care in the world for anyone other than yourself.  I’ll give you one – over 795,000,000 people in the world suffer from hunger without enough food to sustain a healthy lifestyle.  That’s about one in nine people. Are you one of them? I doubt it.  But I’m sure you may have an idea where this article is going – if not – when you consider all of the disease, poverty, hunger etc. in the world I’ll bet you don’t face any of these every day so back to the title the question should be – why not me rather than why me in difficult circumstances?

I will focus on just three areas although there are many – careers and or business, general happiness and health.

Careers or business – The average income globally for individuals is $795/month.  Are you making more than that? Thousands of people die every day due to hunger and disease. So, why are you whining? We spend over one third of our life working in our jobs or careers so if you do not have peace in your career – well – it’s simple - one third of your life will be unfulfilling.  I’ll bet you know dozens of people who have been terminated or just lost their jobs to circumstances they couldn’t control – are you one of them? If you are reading this – probably not.

Over 1500 businesses fail every day in the US – is yours one of them?

It’s not complicated – I’ll bet if you ask yourself a simple question – why not me rather than why me I’ll wager that you will come to realize the many blessings you have in life every day.  Over 40,000 people die in their sleep every day – are you one of them?  Doubt it.

I have failed numerous times during my life but my response was always – OK what can I learn from this and what can I do now - not, poor me, life isn’t fair, I don’t deserve this or some other lame negative reaction.  Ever failed at anything – what was your response – point the finger, get all stressed out or just have a pity party or did you just move on – smarter and wiser?

General happiness – Research indicates that only one in three Americans are happy and less than 50% of the population are happy in their careers or jobs. Happiness is not nor will ever be what you have, do or enjoy but the ability to be happy regardless of what life brings into your days and years.  Happiness is a mindset and this is not who you are or what you have but your life philosophy. 

If you want to be happy it won’t happen with a bigger house, more money, nicer car or more toys or travel.  Research over the years has proven time and time again – money, wealth, power, fame or stuff doesn’t make people happy.  Sure all of these are great but if you are doing them for greater happiness – you will be disappointed.  Do you think someone who is starving in the world gives a rip about having a nicer car or even a car?

Health – There are numerous studies over the years that have validated that the number one contributor to sickness and death is unmanaged stress and do you know the major cause of stress?  It’s a lack of patience or control.  So, why not ask yourself – is a roof over my head enough?  Are three meals a day enough, is having health insurance enough or do you whine about what’s missing?

So let me close with a quick question – are your issues, challenges, concerns, worries or fears even close to the general negative global statistics when it comes to these areas?  If not – get over it and just be ok with what you have and stop complaining about what you don’t have.