Category Archives: Courage and Persistence

Clear Thinking

Sometimes problems can play havoc on our productivity.   I am not talking about the oil light going on in the car.  That one is easy.  Just add oil and you are done.  I am talking about problems that are impacted by the emotions of ourselves or others.  If the oil light were to go on in the car in a desert 100 miles from nowhere in 105 degree heat, then the situation can become emotional.
How about situations where a manufactured product fails a customer?  How about when a software program on your laptop fails to do what you were expecting it to do?  How about those situations where someone choose not to do what you think they should do?
In my experience, many times, emotions become part of the problem.  We make the mistake of focusing on symptoms in an attempt to solve problems.   Our emotions can hold clarity captive.   Unbridled they can lead to worry which disrupts our focus.  It’s part of being human.  Ever been to the point where you cannot focus and think about one issue or task at a time?
Lack of clarity in thought is confusion,  a word that evokes an uncomfortable image in my mind.  Confusion is intelligence on hold.  I know, I have found mine on hold many  times.  The issue (problem), whatever it may be has been clouded by worry, doubt, fear or negativity.   How does one arrive at a place of clear thinking when the entire landscape is covered in fog?  How do we enable the light of day to shine through?  Obviously emotions have to be under control.    There are probably many methods of clearing the mind. I have employed several.
One is quiet time. That could be sitting in front of the fireplace early in the morning and meditating upon one topic at a time accompanied by prayer.   I like to write my thoughts down as I think through issues. Another way I have of clearing my head is long walks.  Using the recording function of my phone I will often record the clear thoughts that come to me.   Many people  utilize some form of meditative technique.   The key is to free up the mind, relax and, for a time, step outside of whatever the problems are and allow our brains to ponder our problems in thought.  Sometimes analytically, sometimes by patiently  drifting a bit.
Personally I try to indulge in these moments regularly.  The pulling and tugging of negative emotions, big or small, requires almost daily maintenance.   Problems can trigger emotions associated with worry.  We can however establish a pattern for handling problems.  The challenge is to keep thinking clearly . Many years ago I learned from the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie, to define a problem, determine possible solutions and make a decision on the best one and implement it.   More often than not this works for me.
Clear thinking, it is so necessary for keeping our focus on attaining whatever goal we have in mind.  I recommend Carnegie’s book.
2016 Copyright © Jeff Shoop, All Rights Reserved.

Becoming

I would like to introduce you to someone that could change your life from this day forward. In their eyes you might see the confident look of a person who has paid the price to get where they are, a person that looked at where they were and then into the future at where they wanted to be, what they wanted to do, what they wanted to have.  And they got it!  That person is you.

Let me give you a personal example of what I mean. When I was a young teen just starting high school my father would take me to varsity football games.  It fostered a dream in my heart.  One day I wanted to be one of those guys.  In fact I wanted to be one of the best of them.  But I was thin, slow and not very strong.   Fortunately there came into my life a man that could introduce me to the Jeff that I had to become and how that gap would be bridged.  He was a neighbor named Jack.  Jack had been an NCAA All-American football player drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He told me I could become good at football and even gain a college scholarship.  He taught me to grow, to plan and to have passion for my dream.  He taught me to focus and to work toward it.  He taught me to persist no matter what.  Through his efforts I could see what manner of man I needed to become.  Through the three years that followed I became swift, strong and skilled.  A dream became reality.   I became one of the best in our area and gained scholarships for the achievement thanks to Jack.

We all want to become something.  Have you caught a glimpse of the person you would like to become?  Skilled, confident and able to share your talents as well as any of those you look up to?  We all deal with lack of experience, doubt, fear, nagging voices in our heads that tell us, “no not you, that will never happen for you, you can’t do that”.   None the less here we are.  We choose to move forward.  How do we bridge the gap between who we are and who we will become?

  1.  We grow. How?

We have a purpose. Our desire to be, our ‘why’ behind the work.  As a boy the feeling I got when I focused on my dream drove me.  I had a vision and my ‘why’ was my family and friends being proud that I had succeeded.

We also have passion for our purpose. We love what we are doing even when sometimes it is hard.  JK Rowling had a purpose in writing the Harry Potter novels.  With that a passion.  She loved her stories.  I too loved practicing football.  Now I love sharing my message with others.

Also to grow, we develop a plan to do so. A plan to cover the days, months and years all progressing toward our end goal.

2.  We act!

In acting we work, we practice, we perform. The key is focused effort.  Harry Potter didn’t happen overnight.  It took a lot of writing and rewriting.  Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or any other person you want to name had to focus, practice and work on their craft.

3.  We persist.

High School Football was only a beginners training ground for reaching goals. The real challenge came at age 17 when I decided I want to be a salesman.  I was a shy, self-conscious introvert.  As a matter of fact around my high school they called me stone face because I was so quite I was even afraid to smile.  At 17, while still in high school I stepped into my first sales position.  I quickly learned that I had to do more than just show up, I had to grow up.

It took me years to succeed but following the formula in the acronym I just gave you, grow, act and persist, GAP I eventually bridged that GAP between who I was and who I wanted to become. This time, rather than Jack, my mentors were the greats of motivational speaking, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Anthony Robbins and many others.  But the ‘P’ in GAP is perhaps the hardest thing because failing is part of leaning and growing.  He who doesn’t persist doesn’t succeed.

‘G’ Grow in it with purpose, passion and follow your plan.  ‘A’ Act by working at it with focused effort and ‘P’ persist.  If you do you will get a little bit closer to your goals and the person you were meant to become.

Say hello to who you can become!

China

I had the opportunity during the last week of June to visit Beijing China to provide training to a small group.

Check one off the bucket list!

The training sessions were vibrant and full of discussion and growth.   We discussed everything from sales tactics to service  and processes.

It was my first time to China.  I loved it!  What a vibrant city!  I went not knowing what to expect but I would have to say t that I expected less technology and industry than I found.  Highways, cars, buildings, everything as modern as home.  The subways were packed with people, young and old, actively communicating via their mobile devices.  Some things have no boundaries.

Thanks to my hosts!

 

A Podcast Honor with Dr. Paul Jenkins

Last week I had the honor and privilege of doing a podcast with Dr. Paul Jenkins,  Mountain West Chapter National Speaker’s Association President .  I am now part of what he calls his “human collection” of other guests.   You can find him on Live On Purpose Radio:  http://liveonpurposeradio.com/.

I also read his book Pathological Positivity three times!   I highly recommend it!

Life is a total challenge in battling the positive and negative influences in life.  We talked about what he teaches as well of some of my experiences with those concepts.  I am reminded of a speech I gave recently.  Here’s the digest version:

“What is it you want, Mary? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. ”

Have you ever seen “It’s a Wonderful Life”?

Lasso the moon is a metaphor for dream big. George Bailey, the main character was a positive dreamer.

I like to dream big. Do you? Don’t we all aspire to do meaningful things? To leave our mark in the world?  Is it building skyscrapers like George Bailey, writing a book, building a business and career?

Have you ever had anyone ask you “what makes you think you can do that?” Have you noticed that in life we struggle with the negative and the positive? The “cans” and the “cannots”. When you are a dreamer you have to protect it from negative influences that will sap it, steal it and kill it.

Sometimes those influences come from other people.  Sometimes they come from the whispering angel on our right shoulder with messages of “you can, you are a child of God”!  And sometimes it’s the shouting little devil on the other shoulder with, well let’s just say, the opposite message.

Voices are choices. Which ones are really looking out for you? The one that says live your life to the fullest or the one that says “hide, stop, be afraid, you can’t”?

Don’t hide. Don’t stop. Dreaming without action is just day dreaming and negative voices can stop action if we let them.  Dreaming with action is power, its force, its imagination, its determination, its will power. And it is momentum, the best tactic for fending off those negative influences. So get out your lasso and capture the moon.

Remember voices are choices!

 

2016 Copyright © Jeff Shoop, All Rights Reserved.

Facing Problems Head On

Facing a big problem head on can be pretty tough.   It seems easier to avoid it, at least for awhile.   Can you think of ways we avoid problems, either consciously or unconsciously?  Here is what I have come up with:

Denial:  You would think that if it is big it is not easy to deny.  Well, I think my mind has done a pretty good job at times in not accepting something as a problem.

Minimizing it:  OK so we admit we have a problem but hey, “no big deal”.    This is a cousin to denial.

Under react:  We take action but in a half hearted fashion and with steps that will not completely solve the problem.

In all three of these cases, in my experience, the problem festers.  If anything it gets bigger and hurts more.

I had to make a choice today.  I had a problem that has been festering for awhile.  I think I may have employed all three tactics above until finally, today, I said enough is enough.

Finally, I chose to be honest with myself.  Festering does increase pain little by little.  The only question is when we will reach the point that we decide to face it.

I think I was fifteen years old when I first read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.   See Chapter 4.  I have read it many times since.  He put a lot of good ideas into how to deal with problems in that book.

In management, in sales, in coaching everywhere I have found one of his simple formulas to work quite nicely….when I get to the point that I am ready to face the problem head on.

  1. “Get the facts”. Define the Problem.  How could we possibly solve a problem unless we can accurately articulate what that problem is.
  2. “Analyze the facts”. Consider possible solutions.   There are often a number of solutions to a problem.  Think them all through.  This requires some effort, some time and a quiet place perhaps to ponder how things might play out.
  3. “Arrive at a decision”.  Pick the best solution.  Trust yourself.  Again, if we have integrity and are looking out for the interests of all concerned, for those problems that affect others, it will probably work out.
  4. Put that solution into action.  At this point just move forward.  Procrastination is a step backward.  We need to watch out that delay does not nullify the thought and effort we put into solving the problem.

Facing a problem head on as you can tell started when we chose to look at it almost objectively, from outside ourselves.  I think to some degree we have to put some emotion aside perhaps, especially if that emotion is fear of facing the problem.  This might sometimes take courage.  Don’t discard emotion though.  It is who we are but don’t let anything negative rule the day.

Dale Carnegie listed three basic steps.  The third included taking action.  The only thing I might add to these four points is first to decide, no matter what, with courage, to face the problem head on.  And frankly if it takes some wisdom from above to solve those problems, especially those that seem “unsolvable”, then do it with full purpose of heart.

 

Thoughts on Failure

We have all heard phrases like “Failure is never final” and “You only fail when you quit”.  Those statements are true, however too often many of us internalize failure.   We are harsh judges of ourselves when we do so.   Any event that we might call a failure is only a moment in time, an event, a coming short of some goal or expectation, but failure is never a person.   As a matter of fact every failure is a step toward victory.  I have failed thousands of times during my lifetime whether it was in school, athletics or in my career.  But every failure was only a part of a learning experience and a step forward in those spheres of life.   Every failure and every victory were the bricks and mortar that made me successful.   It is a matter of perspective and attitude.   If you are afraid to fail and internalize each attempt that comes short of expectation you need to re-frame how you look at that event.   I recommend a journal.   Write how you feel and what you think about the event.   Think it through.  Keep writing.   Point out to yourself as you write what the affect your errant thinking can have on you, how it can hold you back.   Then write how you should be thinking about the event.   Create within yourself a new expectation and map out how you will take action.   Then take action!

Seattle

We were meant to experience joy in life.   At times though we don’t get the results we want.  We don’t achieve as much as we thought we could.  We fall short.   We can’t seem to rise above our failures.   Life feels mediocre, stagnant.   Sustained happiness eludes us in our careers, our social and personal lives.

My experience has taught me to look to the man in the mirror in order to assess why.   In moments of introspection and insight I have found that the fruit of my life is the result of the seeds that I planted.   As I have looked at my successes and failures the fruit of my actions grew from my own choices-seeds of thought, vocal expressions, action and habit.   The right fruit, an indicator that I am on the right track.  The wrong fruit invariably indicates the need for change.

Change of this nature always starts within.   If our thinking, speaking and our actions lean toward the negative, if our self image has become weakened due to habits of negativity, laziness, timidity or lack of discipline it is time to change.   The word ‘change’ may not be the most welcome to our ears, however, if our dreams are bigger than what our lives are dishing out to us now, our perspectives on change should be one of excitement.   You see, change is a choice and it can re-open the door to our dreams

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Change is never immediate but like a fork in the road, a change of direction is!   When we determine to re-assess our habits, feed our minds with positive conversations and reading, manage our time in a disciplined fashion, turn off the TV or video games when there is work to be done, then change starts to happen.  When we find that new attitude of power over our lives and our direction, we will experience hope, joy and happiness in the process.   Success may take some time but with determination to do the right things that lead to success even failures and disappointments can add to our strength because the right attitude demands that we learn from them and keep pushing forward.

We were meant to experience joy but there is a price to be paid and that price is growth through sustained effort and work with the right mental attitude born of habit.man-298595__180

I have enjoyed a couple of particularly playful speaking opportunities this month in which I really let my hair down.   On the topic of pushing our limits intellectually, spiritually and physically I enjoyed talking about the growth that happens when muscles are pushed in the weight room.

I first stepped into a weight room a good 41 years ago.   I learned that when you push those muscles to their limits they grow in mass and strength.   Even now, though I am a casual lifter, I still lift more than most high schoolers that step into the weight room.   I remarked that I am probably one of the very few 56 year olds you could see doing one armed push ups.

I enjoyed it when I was challenged by a member of the audience each time to prove it.   Certainly though I couldn’t do it without everyone providing the music to the theme of Rocky, “Gonna Fly Now”.    Silly though it sounds, the audience loved it and those speech were home runs!  I will get it on video sometime.