What Time Is It?

What time would you like it to be?
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

It’s a cynical view of consultants that they’ll tell you what you want to hear! Not necessarily, what you need to hear.

But what if they are right? What time do you want it to be?

Consider this: the future is literally made up!

Every invention we have today started as a thought, a concept, an idea. Nothing more.

Edison may have been credited with inventing the light bulb but today, the question isn’t, “What light bulbs do you have?” It’s, “What light bulb do you want?”

When I offer to buy someone a coffee, the second question is: “What coffee do you want?” Not everyone wants a long back with cream! 🤷‍♂️

So, what kind of day do you want? If that’s too long term, what would a good hour look like? (Half hour? Moment?)

The point is, going back to the consultant question …

What do you want?

The real challenge for the consultant, and for us, is whether we have the efficacy to bring the goal to pass?

Efficacy: the ability to produce a desired or intended result.

It’s one thing to want a thing. It’s another thing to bring it about.

I would suggest though, that most of us, have that ability.

  • Want a new car? Do you have the ability to save?
  • Want to have a good day? Do you have the ability to plan and stick to a schedule you plan?
  • Want a peaceful demeanour? Do you have the ability to block out calamity?

I’d suggest we all have the abilities. Most of it comes to a choice. To do or not to do. (I seriously didn’t mean to channel Yoda! 🙄)

A lot of this comes down to moments. What will we do in the moment? What is our choice?

My current moment

I’m sitting here having a coffee (long black with cream, if you’re following along) and sourdough! I shouldn’t be having the sourdough for health reasons. Some can, I can’t! But it is so delicious. But there was a moment where I could have decided not to indulge. I chose to do so.

I’ll have the opportunity to choose again tomorrow. One moment at a time.

Back to the beginning
Imagine I am your consultant. You’ve come to me looking for some clarity, some guidance on where t from here.

You ask: “Who and what am I?”
My response: “Who and what do you want to be?”

My “who and what”

I have a list of items I read every day. These are my affirmations. They cover who and what I want to be. They are not true at the moment. They are my goals.

Reading them every day imprints them in my mind. It’s a subtle mechanism to re-orient how I see myself. Maybe that sounds woo-woo. Except it’s based on how the mind works.

Everything we believe about ourselves to be currently true has occurred the same way, either consciously, or subconsciously. The constant imprinting of a belief that becomes true!

James Clear writes about it this way (if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe James! 😉)

In Atomic Habits, he mentions a situation with two smokers (note they are both currently smoking).

They are each offered a cigarette.

One responds with, “No thank you, I’m trying to quit.”

The other? “No thanks, I don’t smoke!”

And so …

The question isn’t, “Who are you?”
The question is, “Who do you want to be?”

And then, like every human invention in history: you make it up!

No Comparions

You be you!

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

A quick back story:

Years ago I was in a church where there was the discipline of morning prayer. You could do this at home but, if you were a “disciple”, it was better to be seen at the church building praying, anywhere from 6am to 8am.

The discipline of a morning meditation* was really good. The need to be seen? Not so much. In fact, if you missed attending for a couple of days you got the “didn’t see you at morning prayer, brother!” So there was this expectation and, as young me, there was always the pursuit of trying to be better. Again, nothing wrong with that.

One day, I overheard a friend say he got up at 4am to pray. Holy prayer mats, Batman!

Not to be outdone, I also got up at 4am to pray.

This was hard! Partly because of another church custom: fellowship.

This was coffee and food after church to be friendly to others, encourage each other and build relationships. Another plus for church and similar communities.

But going to bed after 10:30 and getting up at 4am was a tough gig. Not to be deterred, I stuck it out for a couple of weeks. But in the end, it was too much. I had to pack the 4am starts in and try and be a normal person.

A month or so after that, feeling like a failure in my prayer habits and clearly a very unspiritual disciple, I mentioned my efforts to my friend.

He laughed: “You obviously didn’t hear the whole conversation!”

“Oh?”, I responded, wondering what I had missed.

“Yeah, what I was saying was I had got up at 4am one time to try and it was hopeless. It was stupid. I get up at 6:30 every day!”

Needless to say we both had a good laugh!

It’s obvious to say we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others but we tend to do this without thinking.

Here are some things to consider next time you’re scrolling Social Media:
  1. What is their background? What do they bring to the situation you don’t know about?
  2. What do they not say? This isn’t the sin of intentional omission, it could simply be they have information, skills, knowledge they take for granted they wouldn’t even think to share. For example a blogger with experience in journalism.
  3. What effort do they put in that we can’t see? We only get to see the end product in many cases. I like it when people on YouTube give us a behind the scenes look at their set up. It brings a whole lot of context.
  4. Don’t be a literalist. This is taking everything at face value. It becomes a binary argument: this OR that. Rarely is that the case. There are so many shades of grey! (More than 50, I’d say!)
What to do:
  1. What do you admire about the person? Admiration is great, we need role models. What attributes do you see that you would like for yourself. Write them down.
  2. Allow space for yourself. You are not, and cannot, be them. You can be you. What does that mean? Write it down.
  3. What are your goals in this area? Have you defined them clearly? Write them down.
  4. What tasks need to be addressed for you to fulfil #2? (you be you)
  5. What actions can you take to start completing those tasks? When can you do the first of those tasks?
To Finish

Another erroneous comparison I have made.

I follow Yiannis Christodoulou, on Twitter (@Yiannis_83). With 83 being in his profile I assume he is 20 years younger than me. He is quite the accomplished triathlete in his age group. But I assumed he had been doing this since he was a kid. I assumed he’s been brought up swimming, running and riding for decades!

If I compare myself to him, I probably can’t emulate his feats.

Au contraire!

Read his tweet of 4 days ago:

Used with kind permission from Yiannis


He only started swimming 10 years ago! And he started to run! And yet he has achieved so much!

We can be very fickle.

We see people who have made it and we think we can do exactly the same, without knowing their background.

We also see people who are accomplished and we think we can’t emulate them, without knowing their background.

If that isn’t an endorsement for you be you, I don’t on know what is.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Admire their feats, sure and now start where you are.


*Funny that back then we referred to meditation as new age woo-woo! (Maybe they still do!) 🙄

Also, thanks to Yiannis for allowing me to mention him and his success in his journey!

Being Happier?

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Have you noticed your self talk? Is it predominantly positive or negative? For most people it’s negative. Over 80% of our thoughts are negative, according to one study.

We beat ourselves up constantly over little things that don’t matter. What’s more, we do it over and over. So one possibly bad event, turns into multiple bad events simply because we repeat it. According to this article, your subconscious can’t tell the difference between a real or imagined event.

So we can literally make shit up and the mind and body will react as if it is real. Seriously, the truth is, you can make this shit up!

I often have conversations in my head about real and imagined scenarios. We all do this, don’t blink at me as if I’ve lost my mind. Off we go on our little, pointless tangents, often over inflating the situation and you can feel your heart rate increase.

We feel ourselves getting angry, anxious or even depressed. It’s like we are in a hole and the world is closing in on us. Hope is futile and we look for a doughnut shop, a couch and a soppy movie! Or a beer!

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What to do

When I was listening to Sam Harris’s meditation app Waking Up, Sam would lead me through a meditation and the challenge, or suggestion at the end, was to notice the “moments” between commitments. Say between meetings, or conversations, or when moving from one room to another, or heading out to lunch or coming back from lunch. Simple, everyday moments we all have.

Sam would instruct me to take a moment and determine to respond, rather than react. To take a breath and notice the breath. To be mindful rather than be on autopilot and rush to the next thing!

To be honest, it took me a while. I’d get through my day and and realise I had missed all the opportunities to “notice the moment”. You can imagine what that self talk was like!

But then, one day, I did notice. I literally caught myself saying, “I am leaving this meeting and I’m heading out to get something to eat.” Bingo! I had slowed down enough, or become aware enough, to notice a moment.

Noticing moments allows you space to take conscious action.

In terms of working on your self talk, take notice of your internal conversations. Determine the difference between a real conversation you are working through versus a rant that will never see the light of day.

When the rant is in full swing, notice it, and shut it down.

I do this all the time now and it really helps my mood and reduces my stress or anxiety.

I will literally notice the conversation in my head and call out the exaggerations. I’ll say to myself, “That didn’t happen, drop it!” and I stop the conversation in my head. I then put on the “half smile” I talked about here to move away from the dark clouds in my head to the sunshine.

We can’t always control what happens to us and we can all get caught out by impulsive self talk. But if we start to notice these moments, we can begin to respond and not react.

Sometimes just reading something like this is enough to trigger the ability to stop and notice.

Other times we need to be more conscious about this.

I suggest writing something down to read each morning. Or, as I have also done, I write what I want to be conscious of at the top of the page in my notebooks where I write my notes of meetings during the day. This way it’s always in front of me.

On days I forget, I simply remind myself I get another chance tomorrow!

Start Happy!

We can choose to do a reset … any time we like!
Photo by Eilis Garvey on Unsplash

“Start Happy” is a way to take stock every day, every moment and turn our attention to the positive things that are happening, if we are prepared to notice them. 

This doesn’t mean everything will be perky 100% of the time but the good thing is we can reflect on challenges and difficult times and learn from them, even if that learning is simply: I survived.

When I first wake up, I decide to be happy. Just decide. Nothing more. No writing out a mantra or reading a passage of an inspirational book. I can do those things of course, and often do but, even after doing those activities, I still need to decide

Being happy is a decision I make. And I can make that decision multiple times a day. Even in the midst of a storm. In fact, even better in the midst of a storm.

As I go through my day today, I’m conscious of my mood and feelings. Then, at those times when I feel myself getting frustrated, angry, tired, worn out, flat, I …smile. 

Just a small one so people don’t think I’ve checked out.

There is a practice which the Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh calls a gentle half smile, which can indeed brighten our day, without needing to pretend that life is all wonderful.

MIYANDA THERAPY AND TRAINING

Try this. I’ve been doing it for months now and, each time I think to do it and wonder if the “magic” of the half smile will wear off – it doesn’t. 

Start each day with a decision to be happy.