Rule 12: It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Elliot

this is one of my favorite quotes.  He reminds me that we are never finished developing into who we want to be.  Who we are becoming is a constantly changing and developing piece.  We are always growing, changing, and becoming more and more of who we are.

Were reading about how Michelangelo talked about his creating a sculpture.  He said that he looked at the rock,  decided what was in it, then chipped everything else away.  In other words, he was looking to see what the rock was supposed to be.  That’s what we do.  We are constantly seeking to find what we are supposed to be.  Then our job is to get rid of everything else.

We grow up becoming who others want us to be.  Then one day we look around, realize that the path we have been on has not been ours, and we have to make a decision.  We have to decide whether we will continue following someone else’s path or whether we will start our own path.  Sometimes, people decide that it’s too late in life to change paths.  Too bad.  When we realize that we were on the wrong path, then we have a chance to take the right path.

Sometimes, we just know that were not on the right path, but we don’t know what the right path is.  That’s when we have to get rid of the things that are in our way of discovering a new path.  That’s when we have to chip away all that doesn’t belong.

Once we do that, our path becomes much more clear.  In fact, what we discover is that fear has kept us off the right path.  Fear has kept us from doing and being who we want to be and what we want to do.

Until we face that fact, we keep ourselves from being who we could be.  More importantly, we keep ourselves from the being who we want to be.  Perhaps, we even keep ourselves from being who we should be.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.  Decide if you are on the path you want to be on, or if it’s time to change paths.

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 9: Mistakes Don’t Matter

OK, let me say just a bit more:  “Mistakes don’t matter.  How you deal with them does.”  You see, we often get so caught up in fearing that we will make a mistake that we don’t stretch.

We stop ourselves before we even begin, or we freeze up in the midst of trying, all because we might make a mistake.  But that really is the nature of life.  We make mistakes, pick ourselves up, learn from the mistake, then move on.

Well, that SHOULD be the rhythm of life.  In fact, when we don’t live that way, we have trapped ouselves into what Carol Dweck refers to as a “fixed mindset.”

Dweck distinguishes between the fixed mindset that refers to our expectations that we have innate skills, natural abilities.  A mistake would seem to be an indication that we lack in skills or ability from this frame.  So, for instance, a child is told that she is a “natural athlete.”  As time goes on, the child fears that she cannot live up to that, so she either quits trying or constantly works to prove others right.  In either case, she comes to fear making a mistake.

The “growth mindset,” on the other hand, is the (correct) belief that we are all growing, developing individual capable of learning new skills and ideas.  In that frame, a mistake is just part of the process of learning.  In fact, mistakes may be one of the best ways of learning!

I help teach SCUBA classes.  In the beginning, I ran around trying to make sure the students made no mistakes.  Then the instructor pointed out that the students needed to make these mistakes in our controlled environment, so that they did not make them when it mattered.  I broke myself (mostly) of that habit, and instead turned to the idea of helping the students learn and recover from the mistakes.  I believe they are much better divers now.

As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Start taking the shots!  Make some mistakes, then decide what to do about them!

Rule 8: Ask “What’s The BEST That Can Happen?”

In the last rule, I proposed that the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” can be a useful “reality check” when fear grabs and limits you.  This rule goes from the opposite end.

My wife brought this question to my attention, and even if I tease her (when my son said he was nervous about a basketball game, my wife asked this question, “what’s the best that could happen?”, I suggested that my 12 year old son could be spotted by an NBA scout and called up!), she is right.

Too often, we get caught in the fear and dread.  And while asking “what’s the worst that can happen?” helps us stay in reality, it can also keep us on the down side of a situation.

What about the upside, the opportunity?  The question “what’s the best that can happen?” brings the upside into perspective.  It provides an openness to possibility.bungy-jump

For example, you are thinking of that bungee jump.  Your fear grips you, and you find yourself unable to step up to the edge and take a leap.  So, you ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?”  The outfitters have only stellar reviews, the cord is in good shape, the harness is secure.  Given the safety record, it is safe to say the worst would be a little soreness tomorrow from the swing.

Still, you find yourself rooted in place, unable to command your feet to move.  Now ask “what’s the best that could happen?”  And you find you might just prove to yourself that you can tackle your fear of heights.  You can get a huge adrenaline rush.  You get a t-shirt.  You get to jump off a bridge with no injury!  Now, we are into possibilities.

In the previous rule, we talked about speaking in public, given how high this fear ranks.  So, let’s take a look at that one.  You have already established the worst that could happen, and you know you will not die giving the talk.

Now, what is the best that could happen?  Perhaps you could make a difference for the organization?  Maybe someone will see you give the talk, be impressed by your willingness, and give you even more opportunities.  Or at a minimum, the best would be you face your fear, do the talk, and walk away more confident.

So use this question to balance the fear.  It helps us to both test our reality (risk assessment in Rule 7), and think about opportunity.

Rule 7: Ask “What’s The Worst That Can Happen?”

Today, the question that can help you challenge your fears when thinking about doing something.  You see, fear pretends to befriend and protect us.  So it whispers into our ear all kinds of thoughts about not doing something because “something could go wrong.”  But in actuality, there isn’t much fact behind the images of utter destruction.grand-canyon-jump

So, the question is “what’s the worst that can happen?”  Then think through the answers.  Are they really that bad?  If they are, and it isn’t your exageration from fear, then perhaps you shouldn’t do it.  Say you are standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and you want to jump to a rock outcropping 6 feet out from you.  You are scared, but still thinking about it.  You ask the question:  “what’s the worst that can happen?”  And you answer “Oh, I don’t know, a 5000 foot drop.”  Then, your fear was well-intended!

But let’s face it, that is not the typical situation.  No, our fears are normally about non-lethal situations.  In fact, our fears often only serve to constrict our lives, keeping us from growning and developing.  That is when the question is magic!

How about this one:  someone asks you to give a short speech during a business gathering!  Fear whispers in your ear “I’ll mess that one up. . . that’s scary!”  Quickly, you find a conflict on your schedule, a reason why that is not going to work out.

But what if you asked the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” and you were realistic?  The worst may be that your words don’t come out as clearly as you would like.  Or people won’t agree with you.  Or you will die of embarrassment (there has never been a verified case of this!).

OK, so maybe your words don’t come out as clearly as you would like.  Maybe your tongue gets tied, but haven’t you seen others do the same in a speaking situation?  Even presidents get tongue-tied and say the wrong things.  But they are still presidents.  In other words, there is likely far less risk than you think.

You answer the question, you face your worst fears, realize that they aren’t so bad, and you decide to take a risk.  That is the nature of life, growth, and learning.  That is how we develop into better humans.  So ask the question, question the answers, and see that fear isn’t the friend it pretends to be.

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.

Rule 4: Fear Is A Fact Of Life

Fear is a fact of life.  We may as well get used to it.

I say that because we all spend an inordinate amount of energy avoiding fear.  For what?  We still feel it.  In fact, very often when we avoid fear, we really only grow that fear.

Let me be clear:  I am not talking about the fears that keep us alive (our survival instincts), but about the fears that rule our lives.  Someone gets anxious around others, so he or she stays away from people.  Someone fears speaking in front of others, so she or he turns down a great job to avoid that.  Someone fears a broken heart, so he or she avoids getting close to someone.

Fear pretends to be our friend.  It whispers in our ear that it is only protecting us, but fear restricts us.  It keeps us from living a full life.

Unless we learn to accept it and move on.  As Susan Jeffers says, “feel the fear and do it anyway.”  What powerful, and counterintuitive, advice!

This rule fits into the previous rules about thoughts because fear is tied into our thinking.  We use our thoughts to stay caught in our fears.  In this way, we misuse our thought capacity.

Just for a moment, let’s think about fear.  Remember the old “fight or flight response” from Biology 101?

Imagine yourself living millenia ago. The world was far less safe to you than it is now. Replace our city streets with small paths running through the jungles or forests. Imagine miles and miles between safety. Imagine not being at the top of the food chain (that’s a big one!). You are, literally, at the mercy of the elements! In some ways, it is amazing that our genes are even still around.

Through the process of natural selection, those capable of getting away, steering clear of danger (in other words, quick to feel danger and fear) survived to pass on their genes. Those more reckless or those unable to detect a threat no longer have genes to pass on. Those genes became extinct.

Now, in evolutionary terms, it has only been a blink-of-an-eye since then. While we have used our intellect to tame the wild, pushed back nature and its threat to the edge of town, we still live with those genes that were selected way back! In other words, we are wired to have a fear response.

Not only are we wired to have that response, it is a response that happens automatically. Remember that class when you heard how animals have a fight-or-flight response? That response is also a part of our make-up. Not only is it a part of our make-up, it still happens as automatically as it does for that animal.

For survival’s sake, our bodies do not need for our minds to take the time to consider a risk analysis. It needs for our minds to go on automatic while our bodies get out of the way. Imagine again, being alive millenia ago. Imagine walking down that path we mentioned. Imagine seeing a shadow move across the path. Our body does not need for us to have this thought: “Hmmm, I wonder if that was a saber-tooth tiger? Or maybe it was just my imagination? Perhaps a bird flying by?” By this time, if it were a saber-tooth tiger, our questions would have ceased, and a very satisfied tiger would remain.

And if we determined that it was, indeed a tiger in time, our mind does not need for us to ask the question: “should I run away? Or perhaps I should climb that tree? Or maybe I can scare the tiger away?” Our body needs us not to think, but to act. And in order for it to act, our body goes on automatic. It responds in ways that are almost impossible (notice the “almost” part) to control.

We see the shadow, and our pulse quickens, our breathing becomes more rapid. Our stomach tenses, and our palms become sweaty. Perhaps we even feel our feet take on a life of their own: they want us to run, move, get clear of the danger!

Our brain and body need for this to happen nearly instantaneously. That is what is necessary to survive. So we perceive a threat, and we respond.

Now, fast-forward those millenia. There are no saber-tooth tigers. Rarely do we find ourselves below the top position on the food chain. And our threats have become much more difficult to ascertain. Who is the enemy? Is it that person around the corner? Is it the boss? Is it our spouse? We still feel that immediate and automatic response to a sense of threat, even if that threat turns out to be nothing more than someone who had a bad day, someone who is not a threat but a grouch!

We have this automated system that scans for threats.  That is true for all crawling, flying, swimming and walking creatures.  There is only one difference for humans:  we add our thoughts into the process.  We feel some natural anxiety, but decide there is a threat.  Then we move into fear mode.

Think about two events for a moment.  Recall something that made you excited, gave you an adrenaline rush that you would seek out.  Now recall something that scared you, made your stomach do flip-flops and that you would avoid.

Got it in your mind?  For your body, there is no difference between those two reactions.  Your body is doing the exact same thing in either case.  The same chemicals are being released.  Your muscles are responding in the exact same way (including your heart)!  The difference between those two events?  Only the thoughts you attribute to each item.

And the same event may be interpreted in opposite ways by different people.  For example, I SCUBA dive.  I love it.  I find the experience to be exhilirating and freeing.  My wife does not care for the water.  The thought of being 80 feet below the surface is more frightening than exciting.

The task is to work through whether the fear is really protecting us, or if we are adding our thoughts in.  In other words, it is once again about becoming aware of our thoughts.  Once we are aware of the thoughts, we can choose to act in spite of feeling fear.  The presence of the fear is non-negotiable.

Rule 3: Memories Are Just Thoughts

OK, this one can be controversial, so hear me out.  A memory is merely a thought.  It is a thought about something that happened in the past, which we then pull into the present.  Some of those thoughts are helpful, but others are not.

I am NOT saying that you should ignore painful events from the past and pretend they did not happen.  That is denial.  I AM saying that we all can acknowledge that our memories are not entirely accurate.  That is what I mean in this rule.  Thoughts are always our perceptions and interpretations of reality.  And memories are those perceptions and interpretations brought into the present.

We never have an accurate portrayal of an event.  If you understand what I mean in the last paragraph, you may find my first sentence to be a rather strong assertion.

Here is why some people have a strong reaction to this rule:  people often define themselves by what has happened to them. Some people view the most tragic events as self-defining.  I often hear people say “I am a survivor of sexual abuse.”  Or “my family was dysfunctional when I was growing up.”  Or “we were broke when I was a child.”

Again, I am not saying that these events did not happen, that there is not truth in the events.  It is just that we tend to believe that we:  1) accurately remember those events (we do not), and 2) we cannot let those events go (we can).

So, let’s take those in order.  First, we do not remember events as they happened, but how we interpreted them.  We missed some facts, created other facts, and misinterpreted many facts.  That is just the nature of our memories.  It is neither good nor bad, just how our minds and our brains encode information.

More than that, plenty of research shows that memories are actually quite malleable. In other words, memories themselves change over time.  We interpret memories based on what is going on now.  In other words, we may find ourselves using memories to fit what we want to believe, not with what happened.

A friend of mine in graduate school, in his dissertation, said this:  “we create the past and remember the future.”  I love that!  It gets to the essence of what I am saying.  We would so love to be creating the future and remembering the past, but that is not the case.  We live out our future course partially based on what we believe has happened to us.  And our memories are created in ways that facilitate our current beliefs.

Which leads to the second point:  we hold onto those events.  This is where the real power of this rule comes in.  If we let go of the illusion that we remember events with historical accuracy, then we can accept that we cannot define ourselves merely based on events in our past.  When we act assured of our accuracy of memory, we get to pretend we are the victim or victor in a particular situation.  Not very helpful.

When we can acknowledge that a memory is flawed, we are less tempted to keep pulling it out as proof of who we say we are.

How often do you define yourself by your memories?  How often do you pull out your memories of events as a way to remind yourself of what you believe about both yourself and the world?  This is an invitation to hold those memories a little more lightly.

Rule 2: Recognize a Thought is a Thought

The second rule ties directly into the first rule.  In fact, it is probably step 1 in watching our mind.  What is going on in our mind?  Thoughts.  What trips us up?  Thoughts.

The problem is not the thoughts.  The problem is that we don’t recognize they are just thoughts.  Thoughts are merely constructs of our mind.  And it is not that a thought is right or wrong, good or bad.  I would prefer to ask the question of whether it is helpful or unhelpful.

First, let’s challenge the Right/Wrong illusion.  Our thoughts are our interpretation of reality.  They are not reality.  As has been said by others, the map is not the road.  The map is a representation of the road.   A specific type of map leaves off details.  Another map is based on those same details.  The details are information, and we either process or ignore information every second (millisecond) of every day.

We get caught up in believing that we “see things for what they are,” but we don’t.  Wayne Dyer titled a book “you will see it when you believe it.”  That is the truth.  Our thoughts are woven by our beliefs, not by reality.  How often have you been completely convinced that you were right about something, only to get some more details that helped you see you were wrong?

Again, thoughts only have the possibility of being partial reflections of reality.

How about Good/Bad Thoughts?  Well, we all have thoughts we are not proud of.  That, again, is the nature of the mind, and probably a good reason to not want to read someone else’s mind!  It would be one loud, ugly, noisy place!  Thoughts are just thoughts.

And that is the realization here.  We can get caught up in a thought so much that we continue to find ourselves pulled away from experiencing life.  We become spectators through our thoughts.  And when we forget it is a thought, we start acting in ways that represent a thought.

Let’s take a quick example.  Let’s say I walk into my boss’s office for a meeting.  I see him reading my report with an expression I view as critical or angry.  I think “he didn’t like my work.”  This leads to thinking “what if he fires me?  What then?  How will I explain it to my wife?  How will we cover the bills?”  Within a few seconds, I have woven a story about how worthless my work is, then how worthless I am, then the fact that I am soon to be homeless.

Too bad I didn’t notice that my boss forgot his reading glasses today, and going over some spreadsheets has already given him a headache, so he is doing all he can to concentrate on the excellent report he is reading!  Too bad!

Too bad, because I begin to talk with him from my assumption that he doesn’t like my work. I begin to excuse my poor writing, my lack of ideas, my lack of creativity.  Then my boss pauses and looks up at me.  He is still thinking about my great idea, but can’t process it because I just told him it was terrible.  His thoughts start rolling.  Then, we are both caught in our own thoughts, no longer relating to each other.

Now rewind it.  What if I had walked into his office, saw the same expression, and had the first thought.  But when I noticed my stomach knotting up, I asked myself what I was thinking about, realized I was writing a story in my mind, and chose to realize a thought is just a thought?  I wait for him to tell me what he is thinking.  I wait for reality to continue.

That story ends very differently.  And the difference is merely because I recognized that a thought is just a thought.  It may be correct, but it may not be.  Either way, it is still just a thought.

99 Rules For Thriving

Well, time for my own challenge.  This one crossed my mind some time back, but in a very un-thriving way, I find myself caught doing what “needs” to be done, versus what I “want” to do.

On a slight detour, let me unpack that.  We are often caught spending our days doing those things that seem to need to be done.  I say “seem” because there is an endless list of those items.  As Richard Carlson said, “the inbox is never going to be empty.”  So at some point, we have to make the distinction that Stephen Covey makes between urgent and important.

Now the next part of my sentence.  It is not that I think we ought to be doing whatever we want to do.  Instead, I am thinking about that inner yearning, that urging to do something that pulls us toward purpose and meaning.

To put a little flesh on that, I would love to be laying on a beach in the Caribbean about now.  That is a plain want, but I feel a sense of urgency, even calling, to look at thriving.

So, onto this project:  My goal is to post what I consider 99 rules of thriving.  They are not the only rules, and some may be more important to you than others.  But as I have been thinking and working on this topic, these are what strike me as important rules.

Understand, I do not see myself as the most thriving of people.  In fact, as I write this, I am writing more for myself than anyone else.  I do hope you enjoy reading over my shoulder, and find it useful.  That would be an honor.

My business card gives my title as “Full Time Thriveologist, Part Time Thrivealist.”  I am always studying the subject, and I am doing my best to become a thriver, but that is always a learning task.

Finally, I don’t expect or intend on writing a rule-a-day, or really any other time.  I would love to promise that, but my goal is only to, on a consistent basis, share the rules as I see them.