Change Your Life Using SSC

StartStopContinueHave you heard of Kaizen?  It is the principle of continuous improvement.

Continuous improvement is a great model for change.  It is based on constant changes toward a better outcome.  No need for sudden upheaval or change (although that is sometimes necessary).  Instead, course corrections are made along the way, nudging something toward improvement.

That “something”?  It might be a product (like Japanese automobiles, where Kaizen became the method of them becoming excellent automobiles), companies, or even individuals.

But how, you might wonder, do you actually DO that continuous improvement?

Let me offer a super-simple tool that you can apply to your own life, to your company or workplace, or even to a relationship or organization.

SSC – Start, Stop, Continue

Three benchmarks:  What do you need to Start?  What do you need to Stop?  What do you need to Continue?

In this week’s episode, I discuss how to apply SSC to your own life… and to other areas in your life.

Listen in for a new tool.

RELATED RESOURCES
Dealing with Change
Why We Avoid Change
Paradigms
Limiting Beliefs

Raising Thriving Children

Raising Thriving Children Series

Raising thriving children. A new series on parenting resilient kids.If you are a parent, you know that hope/fear.  You hope to raise a wonderful human being, and you fear making a mistake on the way.

This week, we begin a series on raising thriving children.

During this series, we will look at the goals of parenting, the limits of parenting, and what a parent can do to help a child learn to thrive.  Thriving is not an innate skill.  It is learned.

But it can also be lost in the shuffle of life.

I believe there are two paradigms of parenting:  children are like eggs or children are like balls.

Since eggs can shatter, they must be protected and insulated.  Balls, on the other hand, bounce.

Which model do you see in your own life?

(By the way, if you missed it, I challenged our common understanding of self-confidence just last week.  You can learn about that by CLICKING HERE.)

Listen below for the two theories of parenting and an introduction to this new series.

4 Steps To Changing Your Limiting Beliefs

Unstuck Series

Here's how to change your limiting beliefs and get unstuck.Within you, lurking just below the surface, there are some beliefs that are limiting you.  Your Limiting Beliefs influence your thoughts and your perspective.  They mold your paradigm and keep you held hostage.

You can break free from those beliefs.  You don’t have to be held hostage.  There is a simple 4-step process that will allow you to defeat and destroy those beliefs, once and for all.

Here are the 4 C’s steps:

C-onscious
C-hallenge
C-hange
C-ommit

And once you know the secret to uncovering the beliefs, you just apply the steps, one-by-one.  The limiting beliefs dissipate, replaced by your aspirational beliefs.

Try them out and tell me what you think!

GETTING UNSTUCK SERIES
Intro To Getting Unstuck
How You Get Stuck
You Are Not As Stuck As You Think
Give Up Your Goals & Get Unstuck
Loops
Shift Your Perspective
When Fear Has You Stuck
The KNAC Protocol For Getting Unstuck

Why Is It So Hard To Forgive? And How To Do It: Episode 11, Thriveology Podcast

How to forgiveMany of us agree:  forgiveness is a good thing.

Then why do we find it so hard to forgive?  I believe it is because the reasons to forgive (or not forgive) tend to flip in our minds, even when we know better.

There are two very clear and different paradigms for what forgiveness is, and even what is forgivable.  One paradigm keeps us stuck.  The other frees us.

Which paradigm do YOU carry around?

And if you choose to forgive, how do you do it?

In this week’s podcast, I tackle forgiveness and offer a structure on how to forgive.  I also take on some “myths” of forgiveness.

Take a listen and tell me what you think!

Rule 10: Be open to having your beliefs challenged.

Be open to having your beliefs challenged.  In other words, hold loosely to your outlook.  That does not mean that you have no beliefs, only that they will change and evolve over time.  That is the nature of everyone’s outlook or “worldview.”  Perhaps authors are more aware of this than others, since we have our words recorded for us to see as we evolve.  I often read what I wrote in the past and just sit and wonder “what was I thinking?”  Funny thing is, I don’t ever really remember choosing a difference in my beliefs.

Paradigms (a big, overused word for our worldview or outlook) are like that.  They are ever-changing and evolving.  As we process more information, we tend to make shifts along the way, many quite invisible.  Sometimes, but not often, we have our belief system turned upside-down, an event we often refer to as “life-altering” or “life-changing.”  So, setting those brief moments of life aside, I am thinking more about those small shifts.  The ones that move us closer to clarity and reality, those are the ones I am pointing toward.

So why hold loosely?  Because we usually notice and look for events that confirm our beliefs, and we ignore or undervalue and avoid that which contradicts our beliefs.  That is “confirmation bias.”  We look for what confirms our bias.  And we all have biases, as much as we would like to think otherwise.

We are awash in information, and our senses are only able to process so much of it, so we all take shortcuts.  These mental shortcuts end up molding and shaping our beliefs as time goes on.  It then becomes what we notice, and don’t notice, that creates our bias.

Being open to having your beliefs challenged (not the same to “let your beliefs be changed”) means that we accept that our perceptions are just that:  perceptions instead of reality.  There are others with different views of reality.  We may not accept them, but we do need to be open to the challenge.  It is too easy to merely dismiss someone as “irrational,” “crazy,” “senseless,” or any other dismissive label we tend to us.  The challenge is to let them be a challenge.  What if they are correct?

A lack of our own imagination does not negate the imagination of others.  Think of our current financial situation.  The “tipping point” was the risky bundling of even riskier assets by financial institutions.  Few people saw the crisis coming.  The few that did were somewhat quiet in announcing it — they knew that in those boom years, their voice would be underappreciated and seen as pessimistic.  Now, looking back, we see that the signs were there.  It is all-too-obvious now, but we missed it then.  Lack of imagination.  Unwillingness to have a belief challenged.  Either way, we were not noticing what was going on until it became inevitable.

Paradigms are like that:  our own incapacity to imagine something else keeps us from seeing what might be coming.  It is nothing new.  Even with mounting evidence, many (especially the religious leaders) refused to hear that our planet was circling the sun.  As observation after observation mounted evidence on top of evidence, it took a long while for the shift to happen.  But once the Copernican Revolution finally happened, it became nearly impossible to see things the other way.

So, Rule 10:  be open to other possibilities.  Let your beliefs be challenged.

Rule 5: We All Have Some Basic Fears

We share fear with every living creature. The difference is that we are able to add emotion and thought to the feelings. Sure, some animals are capable of emotions –anger in particular. But as far as we know, no other animal reflects on their fears.

Because we are thinking creatures, we take a fear and weave it into a story about ourselves. And this leads us to some basic fears. These fears rotate around the following:
1) Not having enough.
2) Not being good enough.
3) Not being loved enough.

Not Having Enough

One of our most basic fears is that of not having enough. Unfortunately, this is a fear that afflicts almost everyone, regardless of how much he or she actually has. In fact, some of those suffering the strongest pull of this fear are those with plenty. In fact, this fear is very creative. We often believe it is only about money. It is not. It is having enough of anything: friends, time, toys, health, you name it!

This fear drives in us a need to find more and more. For some, this is the root cause of tendencies to hoard. We look at people in the news whose homes are stacked from floor to ceiling with junk, trash, magazines, whatever. But we fail to notice our own ways of hoarding –hiding money in accounts or under beds, having friends that we never contact and don’t really have anything in common with, gadgets that don’t meet our needs yet lure us to buy them. We hoard rolls of tissue paper, as if there will never be more, or at least more on sale! We move to bigger and bigger homes to hold more and more of our stuff.

We are predisposed to want to hold onto things. In fact, just look at the design of our bodies. The vast majority find it very easy to gain weight, to have our fat cells accumulate the extra calories. But we find our bodies very resistant to letting the weight go. Even at a cellular level, we end up hoarding!

Our bodies have lived through times of feast and times of famine. Those able to efficiently hold onto those extra calories got to pass on their genes. Bodies quickly burning through the available supply perished.

But it is our fear of not having enough that leaves us scrambling through daily life, so close to our work that we miss the destruction of this drive. Few people arrive at the end of their lives with regret for time they took in leisure. But many bemoan the lost time spent in work propelled by fear.

Many would argue that perhaps it is this very fear that has led us to great successes. And in many ways, they would be correct. It is another bit of irony that humans are much better at running away from something than running toward something. In other words, we are often more motivated by fear than by a goal.

It is also unfortunate, then, that this fear extracts a heavy toll on the individual. In some sense, it is society that profits from the motivation of fear, but at the expense of the individual. Look at it in a corporate sense. The bottom line of a corporation is often directly related to the degree of effort exerted by the individuals in that corporation. If fear is nipping at the heels of these individuals, more effort is exerted. This effort pays off for the company, but rarely for the individual. The reward for extra effort and extra time spent at work? Often, it is more responsibility, more stress, and more time required.

The individual is not benefitting in the same way the corporation does. In fact, the cost can be rather heavy. Our bodies are designed to live with stress for short periods of time –not for entire careers! In the short term, stress creates a readiness in the body for that flight/fight response. But in the long term, our bodies begin to break down when exposed to a constant level of stress. High blood pressure, diabetes, even cancer all have been attributed as outcomes to stress.

As is often the case, sometimes a fear has a basis in reality. Perhaps there really is a shortage, that there really isn’t enough. But sometimes a fear is irrational. It is not a reflection of reality. We come to believe there is not enough, but that exists only within the paradigm we weave within our mind.

Not Being Good Enough

Our second basic fear is not being good enough.

This fear is one of comparison, competition. We tend to judge ourselves against another standard. This standard is often a comparison between what we “know” about ourselves and what we “believe” about the other. In other words, we end up comparing all the negative stuff we think true about ourselves to the positive image others portray to us (and we portray to them). We end up seeing “the yuck” of our own lives, but fail to see it in the other.

When this is the case, there is no way for us to measure up. I know my internal world, but not that of the person I use for comparison. So all my faults end up being placed against only the strengths of the other.

Our fear of not being good enough, in evolutionary terms, is the reality of the survival of the fittest. If I am not good enough, I will not get the resources I need (or mate I need) to continue my (and my genes’) survival.

Here’s the problem: all living organisms are in this struggle. But day to day, moment to moment, only humans seem capable of making themselves miserable over this. It is merely a long-term question for other organisms. We humans, on the other hand, constantly underestimate our individual selves (while overestimating ourselves as a species).

Not Being Loved Enough

We humans really are “pack animals.”  We need connection.  We seek community.  Studies show that when people do not experience enough affection and love as infants and children, their long-term development is negatively impacted.  In other words, when we don’t get enough love, we suffer.  That need never goes away.

In fact, one of the highest ranking determinants of life satisfaction is having loving relationships.  That may not be a spouse or partner, but we all have the need to feel a sense of belonging.  Friends and family may fulfill that role, or it may be a spouse or partner.  Notice how we build communities with clubs, churches, social organizations, informal gatherings, even lunch groups at work.

So this fear of not being loved enough strikes deeply within us.  It is a fear that this basic need to be a part of a group, to feel accepted and loved, will not happen.  This is the fear that has us worried about our relationships, our love life, what people think of us, and influences how we interact with people.  The stronger this fear, the harder we work to not be rejected.  Sometimes this ends up being a very needy approach to relationships.  Sometimes this ends up being an act of not needing anyone.  If you know people who reject others before they are rejected, that person is as much caught up in this fear as someone who will do anything to maintain a relationship.

The Basic Fears Just Are

In other words, we all have those basic fears.  Most of us have one of these fears that is more potent than the others. If you take these three categories, begin to look at those thoughts that break you into a cold sweat or wake you up in the middle of the night.  Which category does that fear fall into?

Just being able to name the category is not going to end the fear.  It really is like anything else, though.  Once we expose it to daylight, it often loses its power.  Once we realize what is filling our sails, we may not be able to stop the wind, but we can learn to steer with it.  The fear may always be your basic fear, but knowing that allows you to avoid being run by it.

The Rules: A Starting Point

OK, so let’s set some parameters for these 99 rules of thriving.  You see, these rules are not pulled out of thin air.  They come from my frame for what I understand are the elements of a thriving life.

As I have studied this, four areas of concern emerge in the pursuit of a thriving life.  Each area is important, but it is the presence of all four that really put the whole thriving life into motion.  Here are the four areas:

thriving life graphic

thriving life graphic

So here is a brief overview, and we will begin to enlarge as we move through the rules:

Thoughts and Mind: This broad category basically means that a thriving person understands the role that thoughts play in creating our reality, weaving our paradigm.  In fact, I maintain that the majority of people misuse a major resource in life:  their mind.

I believe that we have come to have very poor mind hygeine.  We let our thoughts rule us, not us ruling our thoughts.  We fail to notice that we are just thinking, and instead believe that our thoughts are reality.

Let’s face it:  our mind was designed to think, to create thoughts.  But it is up to us to decide on whether this will be a productive or destructive process.

Letting Go and Moving On: Our capacity to let go of something that is on our mind, has happened to us, or has not happened to us, is in direct ratio to our capacity to thrive.  I would use the term “forgiveness,” but there is a great deal of extra baggage attached to that term.  So I will say that forgiveness is a subcategory of this.

And in order to thrive, we must be able to take the next step past letting go of something; we must move on.  People who thrive have discovered how to keep moving forward, regardless of the circumstances around them.

Gratitude and Appreciation: A hallmark of thrivers is the ability to experience gratitude.  No, let me change that:  to choose gratitude.  Not only do they live in gratitude, they live in appreciation, the application of seeking out gratitude.

This is a choice in the stories we tell.  Am I upset that I don’t have a big bank account, or am I grateful I have been able to pay what is necessary to keep going, for instance.  This is partly about optimism, but is slightly different.  Optimism is about how things will be in the future.  Gratitude is choosing to be grateful for what already is.

Gratitude and appreciation helps to shift us out of the scarcity “what I don’t have” model to abundance.  This keeps us from feeling desperate, which then leads to creative responses.

Meaning and Purpose: This is the final element of my model.  It is the most important, and yet the most difficult to master.  It is not the question “what is the meaning of life?”  Instead it is the question of “what is meaningful to me?”  Having a sense of meaning keeps us moving ahead, regardless of what is going on around us.  Purpose is the way we live out that meaning.

When we have discovered our sense of meaning and how we find it, our purpose, then life becomes a joy to live.  Too often, we pursue happiness, forgetting that this grows out of a meaningful life, lived with purpose.

Misunderstanding Forgiveness

A recent AP Story:

Families can’t forgive Nebraska mall shooter

Nebraska Mall Shooting

Nebraska Mall Shooting

OMAHA, Neb. – Christmas decorations are in place and holiday music fills
the atrium, yet a gloom punctuates the shopping season at the Westroads
Mall.

Employees, their families and friends planned to gather Friday at the steps
of the Von Maur department store in remembrance of the eight people killed
a year ago in the deadliest mall shooting in U.S. history.

“I carry the visible signs of Dec. 5,” said 62-year-old Fred Wilson, who
nearly died that day. “Other employees saw things I didn’t. They may carry
their wounds on the inside.”

Wilson went back to work part-time at the mall after Memorial Day. He says
there was never any question in his mind that he should be there.

He can no longer wrap gifts at work – his right arm is still in a sling,
and he can barely move his fingers.

“I came to a degree of forgiveness … when I was in the hospital,” Wilson
said. He tries to help others learn how to forgive, speaking at churches
and schools and seminars.

“I was blessed to have lived,” he said. For those whose loved ones did not,
he understands it’s a different story.

Nineteen-year-old Robert Hawkins gunned down eight people on Dec. 5, 2007,
before turning the gun on himself.

Hawkins entered the Von Maur department store in west Omaha and briefly
looked around before exiting. He returned a few minutes later with an
assault-style rifle hidden under his sweatshirt.

He took an elevator to the third floor and opened fire.

Police found no connection between Hawkins and his targets, only a suicide
note that said he wanted “to take a few peices (sic) of (expletive) with
me.”

The upscale department store, decked with Christmas decorations, lost six
employees that day. Two customers also were killed.

Ron Jorgensen lost his wife of “50 years and three months.” Her voice
remains on his telephone answering machine. The American flag continues to
wave at half-staff in his front yard.

“I’ve lost everything,” he said. “I will never forgive Robbie Hawkins or
his parents.”

Greg O’Neil prefers not to even speak Hawkins’ name.

“I don’t know when, or if ever I’ll ever be able to forgive him,” he said.
“I can’t even put those words into a sentence including that person.”

O’Neil worked at Von Maur as a loss-prevention manager for nearly five
years before finding a new job in 2006, so he knew most of the people
killed or injured. He left his job so he could date employee Angie Schuster
without violating company rules. They later got engaged.

“Just remembering her smile. Oh, her smile,” he said. Her belongings still
fill his home. He visits her grave every couple of weeks.

On Friday, Von Maur employees have the option of taking the day off, said
company president Jim von Maur.

“We don’t want to put pressure on those employees who don’t feel they can
do it,” he said.

In Moline, Ill., the family of the youngest victim planned to gather to
remember the good times they had with Maggie Webb, who also worked at the
store.

“We’re going to encourage friends and family to light a candle,” said
Webb’s sister, Bre Clark. “And we’re going to light a bonfire and shine a
light to her in heaven.”

But forgiveness isn’t likely to be mentioned. Clark doesn’t believe she
could offer that to Hawkins.

“I honestly believe forgiveness is something that the killer needs to ask
for from the Lord and not from me,” she said.

Hawkins was well-known in the state’s juvenile courts and social services
agencies. A habitual drug user and troublemaker, he was in and out of
foster homes.

During his time as a state ward, he was diagnosed with depression,
attention deficit disorder, impulsiveness and a malady characterized by
hostility toward authority figures. He was convicted of third-degree
assault and attempting to sell drugs at school.

Hawkins spent four years in a series of treatment centers, group homes and
foster care after threatening to kill his stepmother in 2002. Before the
shooting, he had broken up with a girlfriend and lost his job at a
McDonald’s.

A year after Hawkins’ deadly rampage, Von Maur employees try to busy
themselves with the holiday shopping season. Security guards stand on the
balconies. A plaque at the bottom of the escalator memorializes the victims.

By ANNA JO BRATTON and JOSH FUNK     Associated Press Writers

First, let me say that my topic today will upset some folks.  But I will be upsetting most of them out of a misunderstanding of my thrust.  Let me say that I feel great compassion for people who have suffered tragedies.  In fact, I feel so much compassion that it pains me on how much hurt is added to ourselves.

I am not “picking” on the folks involved, and certainly not wanting to make an example out of the victims.  Because the truth is, what I am addressing is so widespread that I would say it is a rampant belief.

Here is the belief:  “I can’t/won’t forgive ______ (fill in the blank) because,” then pick your reason:

  • They don’t deserve it.
  • That lets them off the hook.
  • Then I have to forget it.
  • Life isn’t fair.
  • I want justice.
  • etc., etc., etc.

Let me point out what is behind the belief:  somehow, forgiveness is FOR the other person.

And that is the problem, the fallacy of this.  After helping people to move toward forgiveness, thinking about the topic, teaching on the topic, and trying to apply this to my own life, I have realized their are two paradigms of forgiveness.

  1. I forgive for the other person.
  2. I forgive for myself.

Many of us keep getting caught in paradigm #1.  So let’s explore that for a moment.  This assumption is really built on several factors.

The first factor is biological.  Your brain is designed to keep you alive.  It holds onto threats, locks them in, and is unhappy about letting them go.  So, our biological design is to keep a filing cabinet full of potential and past threats.  But when our thoughts, our mind, grab hold of those threats, we shift them to resentments.  We store them as memories to play over and over in our minds, with a commentary about how we were hurt.

It is one thing to have a brain watching for threats and a mind constantly playing through our hurts.  One is protective.  The other weighs us down.  The first keeps us safe, the second keeps us captive.

Then we have all the religious and cultural messages about how we “have to forgive.”  In other words, our culture betrays us and tells us we have to forgive the other person for that other person.  It misses the true message of forgiveness.  Too bad.

You see, in this case, the truth is behind door #2.  We forgive for ourselves.  We choose to forgive so that we can move forward.

I am reminded here of one of Buddhism’s understandings:  every life has joys and every life has pains.  They are inevitable.  Suffering is optional.  Suffering is becoming attached to the pains.

That is what NOT forgiving is about.  When we refuse to forgive (it is a choice, whether we recognize that or not), we are attaching ourselves to our pain.  We end up suffering.

Forgiveness is about refusing to be held captive from what has happened.  It is choosing to move forward, to take back our lives from tragedy.  It is refusing to lose ourselves to what has happened.  It is about choosing the life we want to live.

In this context, there is nothing that is unforgivable, because it is no longer about holding the other accountable (in this case, a dead man), but in choosing to move forward.

The whole notion of something as unforgivable is caught in the paradigm that forgiveness is for the other person.  That traps us.  And generally, it has no effect on the other person.

Let me be clear:  people have to work through their grief at their own pace.  At some point, for there to be real healing, forgiveness must be part of the process.  And anytime we slow that process down because we have convinced ourselves that forgiveness is for the other person, we have merely increased our pain.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.—Unknown

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.–George Herbert

Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.—Unknown