Don’t Lose Your Mind

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ADP News, American Dream Project, Leadership

Science is making us stupid.

Not real science. Fake science has infiltrated our culture and filled our minds with nonsense. Stephen Colbert cornered the phrase “truthiness” to describe assertions based on flimsy evidence posing as truth. If some outrageous claim is confidently repeated over and over, many of us will accept it as truth. Yes, it’s the basis of talk radio and “crazy news” on TV. But it’s worse than that. It’s all over the media in stories reporting on correlation studies performed by two-bit academics posing as scientists. And it makes us stupid.

Here’s the problem. Real science proves a hypothesis by discovering the true cause-and-effect principles of our physical world. Experiments are created that duplicate results over and over again. These results must have no exceptions to be considered scientific fact. This approach works best in hard sciences, like chemistry and physics.

And even that is hard because, as quantum physics demonstrates, the physical world is full of unanticipated and presently unexplainable surprises. A genuine “scientific fact” is 100% true, 100% of the time. Otherwise, it’s just a theory.

Today, theories of all kinds are asserted as facts. But you shouldn’t fall for fake science.

Here’s how falling for fake science makes us stupid.

  1. Correlation is not cause. Recently, a study was promoted saying eating red meat or processed meat (like bacon), in any quantity, substantially increases our risk of heart attack. The study compared mortality rates of daily red meat eaters and non-red meat eaters. But it did not factor out other risk factors. So a deeper look showed that the meat eaters in the study also had much higher rates of smoking, fast food intake, and low rates of exercise. So attributing heart disease to red meat alone is misleading to say the least.Want to know something more bizarre? A Stanford study called “A to Z” examined health risks of five popular diets ranging from Atkins to the Zone. The only diet that significantly lowered cardiovascular risk was the high meat-and-bacon Atkins diet. It actually lowered bad cholesterol. I know—you can’t believe it—but look it up for yourself. (See Stanford Diet Study Tips Scale in Favor of Atkins Plan)
  1. Predicting human behavior is named “social science.” But it’s not real science. Psychologists claim to predict human behavior by conducting small studies of less than 100 college students. Most of these students are under 25. This means the test subjects’ brains are not fully formed.

    For instance, until age 25 most young men and women seek to increase pleasurable stimulation and excitement for the least effort. You don’t need a PhD to notice that “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” is a very appealing lifestyle to college students. The last part of the brain to develop is our higher centers of judgment and the exercise of free will. So nearly 90% of studies of human behavior are based on tiny samples of hormone-crazed frat boys and society girls. No, I am not making this up. The fact is that social science is largely based on studying people who act like the cast of American Pie movies.

  1. Personal bias runs amok in science. It’s always been a problem because scientists have size XL egos. When you’re smart about things most people don’t know much about, you can get away with promoting whatever your ego wants to prove. For instance, brain scans used by neuroscientists have been frivolously used in hundreds of studies to “prove” all kinds of pet theories. What is never reported are all the exceptions to evidence presented to support the theory.For instance, a merry band of scientists are hell-bent on proving all the higher motives and experiences of human life are nothing more than brain synapses and chemicals. Feelings of love, compassion, and heroic acts of charity are drained of spiritual meaning, and explained as simply the biology of evolution motivating us to act in some ultimately self-serving way. So a soldier’s sacrifice to give up her life to save members of her patrol is not a selfless act of heroism, but only the expression of social biology. Free will is dismissed in favor of us being biological robots programmed by complex evolutionary forces we don’t fully understand, but are sure to “explain” every unexplainable thing we experience.

    A closer look at the materialists who attempt to use brain science and evolutionary biology to explain the mysteries of consciousness, spiritual experiences, and free will make great logical leaps to connect their insistent assertions based on scientifically untestable claims. These are people who claim it’s impossible for humans to retain conscious awareness if we are brain-dead. Yet there are a growing number of cases documented by medical doctors of patients being fully aware and completely alert even when their brains and bodies are clinically dead for extended periods of time. But scientists still claim this can’t be true, no matter what contrary evidence is presented.

What’s the point? It’s that a closed mind is a dangerous weapon in the hands of arrogant and influential people. When you hear someone make the case for their convictions as something absolutely true in all cases, be cautious.

The happiest, least fearful of us are curious. We are happy to live with mystery. We don’t need certainty to have contentment. One of the greatest joys of living is retaining our ability to change our minds.

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

More with Less

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ADP News, American Dream Project

I just got back from national conference of Gap store managers. I love the people who manage Gap stores. They are so full of positive energy. It’s amazing to me how much meaning they pack into their jobs. Yes, many of them like fashion and popular culture, but the deeper reason most are so committed to a hard job with long hours is that they love to develop the people who staff their stores. That’s right—in retail the turnover is quite high. But for these Gap managers, all that means is a bigger opportunity to positively impact more people. I find this to be a very inspiring way to look at one’s work.

I gave a presentation to this group of managers about nine months ago. This time, one of them recognized me, and she stopped me in the hall. She said that something she learned had really made her much more happy and productive, and she wanted to thank me. It was the power of being present. She related to me that since I last saw her, she given birth to a new baby, and was feeling overwhelmed with the demands of work, home and husband. But as she reflected on the power that comes from being fully present, she decided to try it out .

She told me that when she was home, she was completely home. She amplified her loving feelings for both her baby and her husband, and disciplined herself to simply not think about work. That’s the great thing about our brains. We actually can decide what to think about, if we apply a little disciplined attention.

She also told me that at work, she was fully present with her work team. It turned out that it was especially important to her staff members to recognize more vividly how each of them have different needs and motivations; different skills and commitments. She told me that her awareness of these differences made her a much better manager, and make the staff much happier and motivated. Because she was able to deploy her team more in ways more aligned with their strengths and interests, she quickly produced better results. In fact, she concluded, “I’ve got the best review from my boss I’ve ever got. It’s amazing—you really can do more with less.”

I would put it this way. We can do a lot more with less distractions and more focused attention. A recent study concluded that our smart phones and social networks are making it easier to stay superficially connected to more people than ever. Yet there is increasing evidence that our truly intimate connections are fewer. Brain scientists are already mapping biological changes in our highly trainable brains that make focused concentration more difficult. This is, of course, the essence of being fully present. Hmmm…

So let’s look at this as a new opportunity. Let me suggest we all try this experiment over the next 24 hours. The next time you find yourself with a loved one, try to drop your agenda, become an intentional positive advocate, put away your cell phones, and intensely put all your focus on the other. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes with 100% singular positive focus. As you get into the conversation, say silently in your mind “I love you.” Say this silently three times during the conversation. Now, don’t expect some miracle love rainbow to suddenly appear in the room. I just want you to experiment with trying the power of presence even for one day with someone you really care about, and see if you don’t accomplish much more with less effort. More connection…more feeling…more intimacy. Imagine how you might feel after a month of doing this. And don’t concern yourself with how the other will feel. That is out of your control. Just focus on how you are transformed. Please check back in and let us know what is happening.

Our team continues to work feverishly on getting prepared for the launch of Thought Rocket. I can’t believe how much time and effort it is taking, but we are trying to do something really extraordinary. In fact, as soon as I quit typing this, I have to go over the presentation of a new, simple tip that is designed to help people discover whether the Boss you may be working for is worth your effort…or if you need to find a new boss or new job to reclaim your best potential. Ironically, it’s hard to make things quick, simple and easy.

 

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

 

Your Best Hope

10 Comments
ADP News, American Dream Project

It turns out working for Goldman Sachs requires selling your soul to the devil. At least that’s what was said in a recent resignation letter, published in The New York Times by Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith. He wrote that the investment bank creates a culture of aggressive exploitation of the clients, where bankers seem to try to make their clients money, but cynically sell them out by misleading them to buy Goldman investments destined to lose value. Of course, they run their clients’ investment portfolios the way Las Vegas rigs their slot machines. You win just enough to dump more money in the slots. But the house always wins by profiting on your losses.

It’s not surprising to me.

I’ve been working with high-level business leaders for three decades. There are two kinds. First, there are narcissistic materialists who are smart, charming, and see themselves as entitled to be rich and successful. They often say they care about their employees and their customers, but they don’t. Not really.

Believe me. These people are not fictional Hollywood creations. They are all too real, and they run both large companies as well as family-owned enterprises. Business itself attracts these personality types because businesses are mostly dictatorships that offer the promise of wealth and privilege.

The other type of leader I’ve had the opportunity to work with is up to something more than just making money. They want to build great enterprises that genuinely contribute to a better future. These people really do exist. Doug Conant, the just-retired CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company, sincerely wanted to nourish his customers and his employees. He successfully revitalized their company’s culture and built a fast-growing new category of healthier soups and foods.

But Doug is an exception. My experience is that most business leaders and owners don’t think much about what they can do to improve their employees’ or customers’ lives. They mostly think about how to make more money, how to amass more power and status, and how to insulate themselves and their families from the uncertainty of the economy and the nasty effects of an amoral business culture. So we have medicine that makes us sick, cigarettes that kill us, fast food that isn’t food, and banks that rob us. This kind of colossal misbehavior is deemed acceptable because the mythical “free market” rewards short-term exploitation with all the goodies of success. And our super-consuming society seems to worship material success above anything else.

The only answer for people like you and me, I’ve observed, is to create our own personal economy. The truth is that we are not dependent on the man, whether the man is your employer, the government, your family, or any other source of economic support.

We are all wired to be self-sufficient if we want to be. Maybe not right this minute, but in two years for sure. That’s what I’ve seen. Everyone can change their life circumstances, get control of their debts, create a healthy stream of income, and live under decent circumstances in 24 months’ time. And we already know what to do. In developing countries where micro-businesses are financed by tiny $200 loans, over 90% of such businesses succeed, with many people doubling their standard of living in two years. Virtually none of these new entrepreneurs have any formal training. It is instinctual to create value, earn a reasonable profit, reinvest in creating more value, and become self-sufficient.

In the US, 7 out of 10 new businesses become self-sustaining. 7 out of 10! So becoming economically self-sustaining is not a mystery.

My point is that many enterprises that want to employ you are designed to make money by asking their employees to play a version of Goldman Sachs. Fool customers and exploit you. And the new age of intelligent robots is just around the corner. In ten years, R2D2-type speaking robots will be working in factories, retail stores, and hospitals. The robots are coming, and coming fast. No, I am not kidding. Read the new book Abundance and you’ll get the picture of the ultimate business use of technology.

The only answer I see is to create your own career, one that is based on your personal wisdom. Wisdom is the intersection of knowledge, judgment, and values. It’s what makes you unique, whether you create your own enterprise, become a consultant or contractor, or search and find an authentically great employer. Your future will depend on you creating unique value with your unique wisdom.

I am doing everything I can to help people develop and harvest their personal wisdom. It’s our best hope.

It’s time to get busy for the new future.

 

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

Stress Testing Your Love

9 Comments
ADP News, American Dream Project

Stress—even relentless, frustrating, eye-watering stress—doesn’t have to be destructive to your love life. Recent university research (and none other than e-Harmony) have discovered that life stressors such as job loss, financial pressures, or forced household moving can actually deepen loyalty, amplify appreciation, and increase mutual attraction.

No, not usually. Usually, stress rips couples apart because each person blames the other, either for the problem or for not being nurturing or supportive. It’s true; when our response to stress is to blame or withdraw, we become relationship destroyers.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As yhis new research discovered, it turns out that in relationships what doesn’t kill you actually makes you stronger together. Here’s what we’ve now confirmed:

  1. Social support is a major stress reliever. And the most appreciated ways to offer support are:
  • Comforting and encouraging
  • Showing interest by listening
  • Sincerely expressing confidence that your partner will ultimately triumph
  • Expressing a belief that you can both be happy even if ideal circumstances change. (This is the assertion that whether we live in a mansion or a trailer, living together is more important than where we live.)
  1. Men and women generally deal with stress differently. Many men want to be listened to if they want to vent, but often don’t want to be advised. Independent problem-solving is a strong style for many males. Many women want to be comforted and jointly work out new strategies to reduce stress. Of course, everyone is different, and there are many exceptions to stereotypical gender behaviors. But being tuned into your partner’s coping style is a key to strengthening stress resilience rather than ending it.
  1. Happy marriages and committed relationships “over-focus” on the positive events of life and positive characteristics of the other. This super positive approach to your mutual experience forms a psychological armor against the ravages of stress.

For instance, the happiest, highest-functioning couples create an optimistic bubble around their relationship. They frequently express gratitude for even small positive life events, and affirm the small positive daily actions of each other. They are grateful for a fresh cup of coffee, a kind word, the pleasure of watching a movie together. In short, they consistently look for things they are genuinely grateful for, and openly express their positive feelings. One common mistake they avoid is trying to balance each other’s sunny view of their lives. It seems that often when one partner is expressing optimism, the other expresses caution. This may be done with good intentions to keep things “real”, but it’s a relationship killer.

This doesn’t mean we need to encourage a partner’s reckless risk taking with rah-rah encouragement. Rather, it means pointing out, magnifying and affirming the positive aspects of your loved one and your life together. This makes you more stress resilient and strengthens ties of loyalty and appreciation.

Oh, one last thing the research notes—stress can kill our sex drive. Science suggest we shouldn’t give in to our discouragement. In fact, healthy sexual expression generates bonding brain chemicals, such as oxytocin that make us feel emotionally connected, and dopamine that stimulates both well-being and pleasure. These brain stimulants strengthen our stress resistance and don’t require a prescription!

In facing stress together, keep communicating, amplify the positive, and stay intimately connected. And always remember, life is long and there are many cycles of both stress and joy. It’s all a part of the ride. So keep pedaling.

(We are getting closer and closer to our first full private unveiling of ThoughtRocket 2.0. we have been creating a new learning engine to help you turn research findings like what I just wrote about into permanent human habits. It takes time to create something really new, different and we hope, better. With your continued interest and help we’ll get there. Stay tuned…)

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

Live Big

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ADP News, American Dream Project

There are five common regrets people express before they die. That’s the message of a new book written by a hospice nurse named Bonnie Ware. The first regret is perhaps the most potent.

Regret #1: “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.” 

This is not surprising. It is the common advice given by seasoned, older folks to their grandchildren. It’s good for sure.

I’m just not so sure that simply living out loud by “Carpe Diem-ing” your way through life is the answer. Seizing every day can be a fancy excuse for letting go of your impulse controls.

Our American Dream Project research reveals a path to much deeper satisfaction than what you can get by just declaring your current emotion and following your bliss. If we look at people who are deeply satisfied with their lives, we get a much richer picture than just being jolted by the electricity of deathbed regrets.

It seems that deeply satisfied people spend a great deal of time reflecting on what being “true to oneself” really means. They come to a clear understanding of what choices make them feel stronger, happier, and give them a sense of inner dignity and self-respect.

Sometimes those choices require being quiet and patient, while in other circumstances our essential selves ask us to express our convictions, ask for what we want, and be impatient for things to change. Wisdom is the judgment to know when our personal integrity is served though silence and when our courageous voice is required.

Gaining that wisdom takes both self-examination and an openness to feedback. It requires us to reflect on what we do when we get what we deeply desire and what we do when we cause life to explode in our face.

Getting back to Regret #1, if we lived many decades into adulthood without investing our time and effort to gain self-wisdom, it seems to me we might be missing our essential reason for this entire experience we call human life.

These days, I am doing a lot of leadership coaching, as well as career counseling. It is always revealing because so much of our deep dysfunction comes from a lack of soul-awareness. We seem to be very aware of our superficial selves. I call this our “self-concept.”

A concept is an abstract idea. And we all have an idea about who we are and what we want. But research is clear that this self-generated idea of ourselves is seriously distorted. We see ourselves like we see the wavy pattern of a fun house mirror.

On the other hand, soul awareness is clarity about our “essential” selves. This is the you that is revealed when all our illusions of ourselves are shattered. People must often discover their essential selves through intense suffering. Concentration camp survivors are an extreme example. But personal suffering caused by illness, loss of a loved one, and betrayal all provide rich opportunity to see our own core. Most people begin to see themselves more clearly through meditation, reflection, and simply paying close attention to their authentic interests and reactions.

I’ve had a challenging personal journey that has given me ample opportunity to encounter my own inner “me-ness.” I can only report that it was the greatest liberation of my life. What I discovered is that when everything is lost—money, security, status, even love—we have infinite worth. Transcendent worth that is beyond all human expression.

My insight is that the way to be true to ourselves is not so much about quitting a dreary job and moving to Maui. It’s not so much about saying what we think in any emotional moment. It’s not about blowing up relationships that used to excite us but may have lost their zing.

Us being true is much more simple. It comes from knowing we have nothing to prove. There is nothing we can achieve that will validate our importance because our importance is beyond any achievement. There is no pleasure we can experience that will satisfy our longing for wholeness.

Instead, being true requires us to be attentive to the positive difference we can make moment to moment in our unique lives as we are living them. All of us have something unique to bring to the world we inhabit today. We have the capacity to make all work sacred and every human encounter enriching.

What I have learned is that we all have a difference to make right here. Right now. Our calling is to make our difference. As much as we can. As often as we can. When we do, we have no regrets. A friend of mine said our life’s purpose is to continuously discover and contribute our authentic best.

For me, that’s it. And that is very, very big.

 


What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

What’s Your Calling?

4 Comments
ADP News, American Dream Project

I love the movies. I see one nearly every week. Forty to fifty a year. I most often enjoy the wildly popular and well-advertised movies but also invest a little time searching for the just right independent film. The ones that have something to say worth saying.

I was sitting with Debbie and our youngest son waiting for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close when a preview started playing of a new Robert De Niro film in which he plays something of a homeless poet. I was stunned by the simplicity of a line he delivered to an artsy, confused, younger man. De Niro’s long-distance voice bellowed down a corridor saying “We are here to help each other…that’s the point.”

That was a nugget of pure spiritual protein. It flashed across my mind. There are really only two ways to live life. Help ourselves or help others. We can pretend we don’t have to make such a stark choice. If we choose to make ourselves the focus of our lives, we can appear to be nice, affable, and mesh well into the social machinery of life, but at our core fear is always the driver. When fear is our prime motive there are so many things to be afraid of. Fear of not having enough money, friends, recognition, good health, or happy children. We can be afraid it might rain on the weekend or whether a Republican or Democrat (you choose) might be elected. We live primarily for our own benefit if fear always lurks. Fear drains us. Our capacity for optimism, resilience, learning and loving are all diminished. Our daily opportunity to make our difference is flushed down the drain.

Of course the good news is we are free to choose love instead of fear as a prime motive. We can follow De Niro’s line that “We are here to help each other.” This doesn’t mean that we enable others’ weaknesses or that we become fools for any parasite that demands our help. Rather it’s a calling to create as much value as we can in every moment. The greatest way to create value is to develop our passionate talents, the ones that intrinsically motivate us to improve the quality of the lives of the people who make up the social universe of our lives. It also means that we view our work as a means to express our unique talent to create value for others.

My observation is that every extraordinary person we admire is driven by love rather than fear. It doesn’t mean they don’t have fears. It doesn’t mean they are without flaws. It doesn’t mean that everything they touch is a success. It just means that they generate perpetual passion for everyday life because their love faucet is flowing. The ways that we can help others is as infinite as our individual circumstance. We don’t need to mimic the life of anyone else or copy their calling. Rather it all starts with a conscious decision–am I a faucet? Or a drain?

I’ve been teaching how our prime motive ignites our careers this past week to live audiences. It’s at the core of “Turn Your Superpower into Your Career,” our soon-to-be-released online course. The audience was made of people ages 30-60, and one thing really struck me. Many people over 45 expressed how much they regret working in careers that are sucking all their energy. The message they want to pass along is that if you’re not pursuing your calling, you are being exploited. And that is soul-killing. It’s never too late to turn on your faucet.

If you have a story of following (or not following) your calling, please share it with us.

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

Life Is Not a Business

3 Comments
ADP News, American Dream Project

Yesterday I spent the morning with several hundred executives and managers talking about their personal health and happiness. Their interest and attention was intense. In the past ten years, global business has turned into a 24/7/365 war. Competition is ferocious and change roars at us in a never-ending torrent. The price we pay is being always overstimulated, first by external stress and second by internal churning over how to create some genuine harmony between our work, our relationships, and our spirits.

In many ways, it seems, we have become great at creating a hollow world with a shell of possessions, achievements and debt, and a core of empty anxiety. Strangely, we keep investing ourselves  by adding glitter to the shell, hoping it will compensate for the cold and drafty core. So many of us, it seems, are hypnotized by things that matter less, while the things that matter most are ignored.

I do not blame the victims of this crazy system. I feel nothing but compassion, and I do my best to offer the new tools of brain science, and the insight of the masses from new research on the causes of human happiness, to the thirsty runners daily sprinting in the race of business.

This brings me to yesterday’s insight.

One of the major skills we teach managers and leaders is how to more efficiently achieve tangible goals. Focus and feedback. These are major emphases of everyone’s workday in a high-performing workplace. That’s because getting the right things done is critical. “Mission-critical,” as they say.

But what strikes me is how ill-suited this skill is with our love relationships at home.

The people we love want us to listen and affirm them. They want us to be gentle, patient and encouraging. They want us to accept them for their intrinsic goodness, and constantly overlook their quirks and unpolished bits.

In many ways, the quality of our love rests on our ability to love, encourage, and root for the people we love in spite of their weaknesses. When we deeply love, we see through the stupid stuff to the genuine, tender goodness of our friends, spouses, partners and children.

At work, however, great management is all about feedback, direction, development and giving candid performance reviews. Too often, I see that the skills of hard-driving leaders are misemployed at home, and end up alienating loved ones.

But enriching personal relationships are not about results. They’re about the relationship.

It’s not about extrinsic performance; it’s about intrinsic connection.

When people at home are not doing what we want them to, instead of trying to manage them like an employee, we might consider investing in the quality of the relationship. Doing some very un-business-like things. Like wasting time together, listening without judgment, and genuinely affirming anything and everything you like or admire, down to the tiny personal details you refuse to take for granted.

Real life is not a business. Real life is love. It always has been. And, thankfully, always will be.

 

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

Trust Yourself

1 Comment
ADP News, American Dream Project, Life

Smart Trust is a new book just released by two friends of mine, Greg Link and Stephen M.R. Covey. It makes a strong case that people who love one another produce more, enjoy more and love more because they trust each other. The same, they say, is true of business enterprise and governments. It turns out the happiest people live in high trust cultures. The problem of course is that much of the world and many, many people are not trustworthy. Self-interest trumps very, very often when the payoffs of betrayal overwhelm commitment and integrity. That’s why, the authors say, we need to be smart about whom we trust and what we invest our trust in.

I believe my friends’ case for trust. Imagine how great the world would be if we could trust each other. I know, miniature unicorns might also be fascinating pets if they existed. My experience is that real trust is extremely fragile. Even people with long track records of perfect behavior can let us down or even cut our hearts out. Our entire economy is built on financial Darwinism where “buyer beware” is the only sensible course of action. Remember how we all got scolded for buying houses with too-big mortgages because we trusted both the banks and system? And yet when it all blew up we were told we should have read the fine print and only a fool would trust a mortgage broker. Of course I wish we could de-regulate the economy, and when we quit selling things like e. coli-laced meat and tainted medicine, I’ll be the first in line.

But self-interest is a very hard thing to control with either self-control or a very slow and sloppy marketplace. So it turns out life is scary. Both personally and professionally. We get whacked by bad relationships and are often disappointed by  our bosses, co-workers, and all the rest. What are we to do if we can’t trust?

Well, it’s foolish to live in a state of perpetual cynicism. What I have found is that it’s most important to increase your self-trust. Our core beliefs must be that “no matter what happens, I can deal with it.” Life is terminal in the end. We all end up the same way. So in that sense we have nothing to lose by being bold in our thinking. We are wise not to require trust in others to thrive. Even if they don’t keep their commitments, you can be just fine. The quality of your inner life does not depend on others doing what they should. Whatever happens, you can recover, grow, and move on. One of the great purposes of life is learning how strong we can be. It’s true.

After going through a very, very rough period in my life, a friend said to me, “Wow, you have nothing left to fear. Every unthinkable, bad thing you never wanted to happen has happened and you’re still standing. What a gift!” His words struck me. The nature of human resilience is unlimited. Live with optimism. Act with courage. No matter how bad it gets, it can get better again if you get up and keep moving. You do have a unique Superpower that is your way of creating a better future. Trust Yourself.

Through great adversity we are almost ready to launch our “Turn Your Superpower into Your Career” course. This week we are asking 10 to 15 people to beta-test it online. If you want to follow our progress, join us on Facebook. And as always, if you have questions, email me at askwill@thoughtrocket.com

 

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

A New Year’s Resolution to Keep

No Comments
ADP News, American Dream Project

It’s 2012.  You are CEO of an important company.  What will you invest in?  No, this is not a made-up scenario.  It’s your life, and you are the Chief Executive Officer of it.  So what are you willing to invest your whole self in?

This past year I have invested much in learning about the future of work.  Why 81 percent of American workers say they want to change employers.  Why our economy seems to only create low-pay retail and restaurant jobs, or high-paying jobs for people with exotic technical training.  I’ve also interviewed many, many people who feel stuck in either a drab or dull place.  Here are some of their expressions:

“I am the sole contributor for income, and both of the things I have passion about, I fear would pay little.” –A.

“As a 48-year old, I find myself trapped in an immense identity crisis.   I do a lot of volunteering for the homeless.  I get immense pleasure from giving my time and energy to improve other people’s lives.  The trouble with this is that I was never able to earn a living that supported me. My foray back into the job market has proven dismal.  My ability to adventure further into entrepreneurship is blocked by my financial situation.”  –J.

”One of the best things about me has also been the worst thing about me, and that is I’m interested in so many things, and good at them, too. For years I’ve been working at jobs I hate as a walking, talking, ticking automaton.” –F.

“What percentage of businesses are successful?  Are we ready for constant failure?  Are we ok with not being able to afford decent health insurance?”  –K.

“I have had a deep desire to be a self made man, to escape the shackles of the 9-5, and hustle my way to success. But based on my actions alone, a self made hustler I am not.” –J.

These are all too common and all too real concerns, fears, and inner doubts that plague us.  All of this makes me sick at heart and mad as hell at the same time.

We have created a consumer economy that requires us to continually buy more of what we don’t need to keep all of us afloat.

We’ve created a higher education that’s mostly effective at smothering our children in an avalanche of debt.

And, worst of all, we are squandering our amazing opportunity to create a society of people who work to express their values, their talent, and their passions.

Has there ever been a time in history when humans have trivialized their opportunities and advantages as much as we have?

As Helen Keller said,

“I can’t do everything, but I can do something, and I will not allow the things I cannot do prevent me from doing the things I can.”

That’s my New Year’s Resolution. For the past six months the ThoughtRocket team has reviewed your questions and sought answers. We are now putting the final touches on a new career course called “Turn Your Superpower Into Your Career.”  Did you know you had a specific superpower?  That’s what our research has confirmed.  Our course is designed to help you find it, develop it, and turn it into a livelihood.  You may even be able to do that right where you work today.  It turns out how and why we work is as important to our well being as what we do.

As the time gets close to launch the Superpower course, the pressure to make it as great as it can be grows. Right now, we are going over the smallest details. Even down to the music and sound effects–we’re testing everything from punk rock tracks to angel choirs! What will get people’s attention? What will communicate the message? What will motivate us to action?

It’s important to answer these questions. I’m putting everything I’ve learned into this effort. And I’m working with the most capable group of extreme talents that I’ve ever known. A team that is a live, organic example of how to survive and thrive in today’s economic culture.

Please accept my invitation to follow the ThoughtRocket Story on Facebook to learn about our ups and downs. How we handle resistance (including our own stupidity), and how we achieve our goals. Share your story with us and the rest of the ThoughtRocket community.

In the journey to the career of our dreams, none of us are alone.

 

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.

Invest in Yourself Now

2 Comments
ADP News, American Dream Project

Thank you for all your kind birthday wishes. It’s encouraging to to know that so many of us “think different” when the ever-present media complex seems to want us to think the same.

And yes, I had some zippy birthday waves. The surf on the North Shore is always spicy, so it creates tasty waves even when they are “fun size.”

I am writing this on our way to San Francisco to spend tomorrow teaching some health care leaders how to maintain their own health in our high-stress world. Here are some highlights of what I will say:

Nothing grows or improves without making investments. Living day to day by coping or teeth-gritting self discipline will eventually exhaust you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. So here are some science-based ways to recharge, reset, and grow in 2012.

  • Physically – Eat to keep your blood sugar level throughout the day and night. Eat so you are never over-full, or ever very hungry, because that’s when we eat stupid. When your energy level is constant, you will have better judgement and a better personality. Walk  briskly, take the stairs, just move. Get up every hour and stretch…hell, dance!…do something that gives your body a reason rejoice and feel alive!
  • Emotionally – Tell someone you love one thing you are grateful for each day. It will make your brain look for the positive which will cause you to notice hidden opportunities. This is what research says makes people luckier.
  • Mentally – Opening our minds requires examining facts and evidence which are contrary to our current opinions. This makes us nervous, but also much wiser. When we open our minds, we can play with curiosity, which makes life so much more exciting rather than frightening. Who knows what we may learn?
  • Spiritually – Do what you came to do. When we stop and reflect, most all of  us feel a deeper calling to make our difference. This personal calling resides at the intersection of our passionate interests, our deepest values, and our motivated talents (the talents we most enjoy developing and expressing). When our work is the consistent expression of our calling, it ceases to exhaust us.

That’s the simple message. Live healthy, become happy, think freely, and do what you came to do.

The longer I live, the more I need to do those things.

So what about you? Do you have any coaching for the rest of us? Leave us a comment with what you have learned on life’s journey.

And if you have a question about finding your best career, please write me at askwill@thoughtrocket.com. I am recording some final ” to dos” early next week, and I want to make sure I have tailored the course to whatever you most need. Thanks!

 

 

What does it take to live a better life? Action! Nothing will change until you do something. Sign up for ThoughtRocket’s daily challenges and see action ignite your life. Scientific research and practical inspiration are fused together in quick, powerful messages sent to your email three times a week. Click here to subscribe, or visit ThoughtRocket.com to learn more.