#ProductivityHacks! – A Must Read For All That Are Tired of the Rat Race

Got super inspired by Bethany McLean’s LinkedIn post about productivity (#ProductivityHacks). Or lack thereof. Mainly also because I just finished going through the old classic productivity/efficiency book Getting Things Done, by D. Allen with its 10,000 tips on becoming a lean machine. Although I actually domost of the things suggested therein, I am still only modestly successful. I mean, I am totally successful in that you are reading this, and quite a few more people, but if you ask most people on the street they probably don’t know me.

I also have the attached visual at my desk that shows all the short cuts to a productive day. Yet, I am inspired the very most by McLean’s comments… “sometimes I waste whole days…”

Sometimes she takes apparently wasteful meetings that lead to no particular outcome, or writes things no one will ever read. God, what a breath of fresh air…!

It’s like when Quiet, by S. Cain came out. The entire world of people who had run themselves sick trying to be the life of the party soaked up her heralding of the quiet but smart person…

Where am I going with this…? According to McLean, and myself, conjuring up your inner muse, or having the spirit move you, is where it is at (see Raffi singing about just that to children).

Because when you hit it right, it doesn’t matter much how efficient you were up to that point. I know highly successful people who can’t find their way out of a paper bag. Get into your own paper bag, find out what moves you and source yourself from there. Then come out, if you can find your way, and share it with the world. You will be an instant hit.

Warmly,

Coach Jo

PEOPLE VALUE FREEDOM MOST

Of all the things people say they value, there is one thing, one so transparent, that you only notice it when it is taken away. Not financial freedom alone, but freedom to do with your life what you please…

150 years ago, FDR hoped for the same things for the future that we hope for today. Freedom and justice for all (it’s still on the agenda..!)

What is it about freedom that makes it so important to humans?

Let’s look in FDR’s quote attached at the four different freedoms he mentions:

  1. Freedom of expression – this one is an obvious hot potato. Even in democratic countries where we enjoy freedom of speech, it can sometimes be costly to use it! Even so – Use your voice. If you are not a verbal person, write. If you are not a writer, create art and express yourself in that way. If you are neither of those things, be kind when others aren’t and make your political statement thus.
  2. Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way– how then do we contend with the fact that we are out to obliterate ISIS? Aren’t they allowed to worship the way they see fit too? They would – if worship was what they were doing. They are playing a political power game in the name of their God and that is not worship – that is greed. So no, it doesn’t apply in how they use God for their own benefit. Live and let live. But stop those who stop others from living.
  3. Freedom from want – I had no idea FDR was such a Buddhist! It is hard to grasp in the Western, civilized world that one should not want things. That it makes you chicken-shit somehow, like you are not going for it in life. Or that you have failed and hide behind that you “didn’t have big wants anyway.” Freedom from want is the best kind of freedom. Mainly because you don’t depend on outer circumstances for your happiness ever. And when you do get what you want, it’s a happy surprise. It also eliminates any kind of neediness.Measure your happiness by how happy you are taking your things away.
  4. Freedom from fear – Well, when you stop wanting so much, you lose a lot of fears because now you’re not afraid of losing anything either. Fear can be related to as butterflies in your stomach, and it can be left at that. We invest a lot of thought processes into our fears, when really all it is, is a biological response to the lion around the corner. Fear not. At least try…

       Warmly, Coach Jo

WHEN HAVE YOU ARRIVED?

I am going through a very peaceful time in my life, free of pressures and shoulds… (you realize that it’s mostly freedom from self-imposed shoulds.)

However, it hasn’t always been that way.I have been ridden, most of my life, by the mare of “more” and “not good enough” and “this can’t be It”…

I realize now that my spiritual practice happens, and has to happen, no matter what stage of life I am going through. During tough times – the sleepless first couple of years with two batches of children – the spiritual practice is desperate – clinging to a lifeline as it were. Other times, like now, it is a quiet, run of the mill, as natural as flossing practice that I do just because I do…

The practice, however, remains equally important, no matter what I am personally dealing with.

This is a time when it would be easy to stop. Like I have arrived and don’t need to practice anymore. But I see that now that it’s the time to step it up. When you have saved yourself on some fundamental level, it is ones duty to help others. Otherwise, we sit on gold and we are not sharing. Not right and no fair.

I think there is always a next internal bastion. I may think I have learnt to love myself but perhaps I have only scratched the surface. And when I get to the next level of it I will be infinitely more capable of loving others more and better.

Things are so incredibly unpredictable that when you experience a breathing hole, like the one I am experiencing now, we’ve got to hurry, hurry and help others before some personal life circumstance closes in on us again that we are forced to deal with…

So if you have over flow – of peace, time, money, love – give it.I will do my best to.

Warmly,

Coach Jo

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE UNHAPPY

I have been so unhappy during certain periods of my life that I really never thought I’d feel happy again. During the break up of my first marriage, a falling out with a best friend, the superlatively unhappy post-pregnancy hormones that couldn’t be escaped…

I don’t never become unhappy now, but I have a peace with my unhappiness when it comes. It no longer sentences me to a day, or a life, of doom and gloom. I have to rack it up to having experience with unhappiness and learnt how to deal with it.

You probably have advice for yourself you are not taking when you are unhappy.

There were things you did last time the unhappiness struck that actually worked:

  • Breathe
  • Go for a walk
  • Spend time in nature
  • Contemplate the root cause of your unhappiness
  • Question its validity. Is it really true that everything is shait?
  • Check if you have an undelivered communication
  • Ask yourself if you are getting your needs met
  • What request do you need to make that you are not making?
  • If you are stressed, what can you take off your plate?
  • If you are fighting with someone, how can you reconnect?
  • If you don’t know what is making you unhappy, you could simply ignore it for a while and say, “for the next 15 minutes, I am going to think about something else”
  • Write it all out/get the poison out
  • Give yourself a rule, “I am not allowed to harp on this anymore or I have to clean my neighbor’s bathroom”
  • Humor does work – watch a funny movie
  • Or watch a sad movie to get the tears out if they are stuck
  • Question the mind that says that nothing is going to work – because it once did

I dare you to try all of the things on this list and tell me the needle hasn’t moved.

Warmly, Coach Jo

“THEY HAVE IT SO MUCH WORSE…”

Living in Europe right now is, at the top of the news as well as most people’s lists, the migration crisis. My country has received 28,000 refugees since July alone. I often people hear people say about them, “I don’t have the right to complain about my life, they have it so much worse…”

But here is the deal.

Everyone has his or her own cross to bear.

Someone else’s misfortune doesn’t invalidate your problems.

What we have differently from the refugees, though, is the mental, emotional and fiscal room to work with ours. If you truly want to help and do your part in the migration crisis, whether you are in Europe or not, work with your own feelings. You learn to resolve your own anguish; you will be way more able to help them with theirs.

How do you “work with feelings” many clients ask me.

There are many things you can do. Here are but a few:

Prove the opposite. Sometimes we tell ourselves that everything is crappy. That is the time to ask ourselves how true that really is.

Go deeper into the feelings. Without getting dramatic, stop to feel the stress, hurt or discomfort. See if there are words you can put to those feelings. Can you identify where they started and what is making you so out of sorts? Simply knowing, and not necessarily only the solution, sometimes gives relief.

Get physical. Sometimes there is a problem to which there is no (immediate) solution. All you can do then is to work with the feelings. It often helps to dance, run, and exercise it out. Let the body do the processing.

Talk. Talk to friends, family, a therapist, coach and when you have done all that – talk on paper. Journal, journal, journal. I often tell my clients, “get the poison out”. It feels better and you can also see, black on white, what you are dealing with.

List your issues. In your head, your list of problems is endless. On paper, it is finite. So start listing them. It will come to an end.

Leave yourself alone. If you are down on yourself for something, defend yourself to yourself. Just like you would stand up for someone being bullied who can’t stand up for themselves.

There is more.

Start there.

Report your findings.

Warmly,

Coach Jo

TODAY: INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY…

The United Nations are dedicating this year’s Peace Day, today September 21st, to strengthening ideals. I believe it’s because have an endemic problem, which is that we don’t know how to get along. The excessive warring that is happening right now is not people or politics specific but human race specific. We are not particularly nice.

I also believe that the higher the stress level, the harder it becomes to act decently and peacefully. We no longer recognize other humans for who they are, but view them more like objects in our way. Having lived in New York for 18 years, spent a lot of time in other capitals, and now living in Stockholm, I have observed a lot of eye rolls, push & shoves and scoffing. Sometimes I have been a perpetrator myself. Not so much anymore though as I feel the presence of Karma Kitty strongly…

Here is an International Business Times article on Peace Day for history:

http://www.ibtimes.com/international-peace-day-2015-history-united-nations-day-devoted-strengthening-ideals-2102604

And here are quotes from people dedicated to peace keeping.

(The United Nations may not function perfectly but we ought to be glad we have them):

http://bit.ly/1Pj1tcS

Read, let yourself be inspired and answer a scoff with a smile today…

Shameless Self Promotion

The illustration is from Charles Dickens’ novel where Durdles cautions Mr. Sapsea against boasting.

And here is my promo video of shameless self promotion, created by the ever so fab Erika Shannon.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17836849/JoReelv2.mov

When I grew up, we would laugh at what we called “Polish reichtag” – whomever screams the loudest wins. Racist and stereotypical, I don’t even know how much it ever applied to the Polish. What I do know is I feel we are about to exit the era of “shameless self promotion”. There really was a time, starting in the nineties and ending about now, when you had to be so loud, so brash and brazen, so shamelessly self promoting, that it WAS the way to get business. Today, not so much. Thank God.

Mr Chen Yu-Hsi, a professor of religious studies says that although humility is important to (in his case) Buddhism, ultimately spiritual attainments are associated with such personal qualities as the “middle way,” a balanced personality that is neither arrogant nor “humble” in the sense of self-abasement. Thus a semantic question may be raised as to exactly what we mean by humility. Does it necessarily imply an under-evaluation of one’s own worth and merits that led the Tibetan lama to reject humility as a virtue for practitioners? From a true Buddhist perspective, the answer is “No.” And we may add the following criteria to define genuine humility:

  • Behave without arrogance, self-conceit and other egoist tendencies such as jealousy and an impulse to show off.
  • Respect others and show a genuine human interest in them without a desire to please or to impress.
  • Come up with an objective and honest understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses, with a realization that we are far from perfect and have a lot more to learn, to improve and to accomplish.
  • While we do not recognize self-depreciation or self-effacement as part of humility, we must recognize that our biological self is fraught with frailties and ignorance and that a true self characterized by such divine qualities as love, compassion, joy and wisdom is innate in everyone of us.

With the above understanding, it is safe for Buddhists to speak of humility as a norm of personal conduct and a mark of supreme attainments that is consistent with the Buddhist “middle way.”

I think the Buddhists way is a pretty decent way to look at humility whether you are a Buddhist or not. I think the biggest thing about it is to be genuine in your interactions. If you are, I think you can be free to talk about your accomplishments or be proud of what you do. I am. Humbly speaking.

Coach Jo

No Time to Waste

If you think you have time – you don’t.

Time is life going by.

We all walk around, either most of the time – or from time to time – in a stupor around time.

Like there is a tomorrow when things can be handled, relationships can be nourished or mended, courses will be taken, skills could be learned…

It also includes the things we are avoiding, things we “procrastinate” on.

The news about that? There is no such thing as procrastination. You just didn’t do it. Rather, we pretend we are going to do it tomorrow, that day that never comes…

What we have as humans is a rare opportunity to make a difference. Especially those of us fortunate enough to be born in peaceful countries, with the background of means to enjoy cars, computers and a good education. Given how much there is to make right in the world, there is so much to do to take advantage of that difference that can be made.

We can do so much…and for all that we could and can do, there is not much time.

So hurry. Think about it. But hurry.

Love always,

Coach Jo

Nothing Exists Except as A Creation of Our Own Minds

 A samurai comes to visit a wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.”…

We went from “don’t work hard, work smart” to an era…

We went from “don’t work hard, work smart” to an era where smart people are also working very hard. Which means you work hard AND smart and you STILL can’t get ahead. When my clients want to increase their productivity I tell them their amygdala is already working over time. If they load on anything else, including new high intensity concepts, they will not work smarter, they will work dumber. Because there is a cap to how much we can work until we have burnt too many brain cycles. Reducing stress seems counter intuitive but it is the only way to get to the next level in your business. Promise.