Striving for Imperfection: Stop Doing Nothing Perfectly and Do ANYTHING Well!

I have an interesting take on the pursuit of “perfection.”

Striving to be perfect is at best a barrier to actually getting “better,” and — in many cases — an excuse or a justification to avoid having to change one’s bad habits.

A bold or unusual view? Maybe; but, as an example, let’s take a common scenario. Suppose you decided to do something about those “few extra pounds” you’ve been carrying around lately. With fierce determination, you emphatically announce that you’re giving up anything sweet, fried, gooey, crispy, brown, sugary, or with even a hint of alcohol. Furthermore, you will start writing down everything you eat, cook with only organic ingredients, read all labels, consume unprocessed nutrients only, count all calories — and, on top of all that, start a daily 5AM walking program.

“I’m going to be perfect on my program,” you boast, with chest proudly swelled, to anyone who will listen.

And you are – until the end of the first day.

By nightfall, the constant drone of annoying phone calls, interruptions, cranky constituents, unmet deadlines, and various other unexpected events has you drained. You drag your tired soul into the house, drop your purse on the table, collapse on the couch, exhausted, and tell yourself, “One beer won’t hurt. Besides, after a day like today, I deserve it.”

That’s true. Those 20 pounds weren’t caused by “one beer.” The extra weight was actually caused by the thought that follows.

As you lick the last remnants of golden foam from the glass, you are reminded of the promise you made yourself. The thought immediately explodes into the forefront of your mind: “Oh-oh, I blew my diet!” There is a pause while you consider your next step. But before you can tell yourself it’s only a minor slippage and get back on track, the next spark that scampers across your tired gray cells is, “Well, as long as I blew it, I might as well REALLY blow it. I can always start again tomorrow.”

Once the dam has broken loose, the remainder of the evening consists of “one last night” of scavenging the kitchen, finishing off the ice cream, tearing into the bar of chips, eating the peanut butter from the jar, swallowing a pound of cheese slices, and — oh yes — making sure the six pack of beer will be gone before you go to bed. You do all these (or at least you tell yourself), “so you won’t be tempted tomorrow. If I can get it all out of the house, I’ll be OK.”

It sounds good in the moment. And when the alarm buzzes the next morning at 5AM, reminding you to do your walking program, you think, “Oy, it’s so early. I’ll start that on Monday.”

You head to work, face the same day you faced yesterday. (After all, aren’t most days pretty similar?) And, at days end, you come home, collapse on the couch — and repeat the process.

So it goes…

The problem lies not in drinking a beer or having some ice cream, but in the thoughts that lead to the actions; as well as those that follow.

It’s the belief that I have to be “perfect” that gets in the way of actually making improvement.

For example, if instead of perfection, the goal had been to be “better about my health,” the diet would have been off to a great start on day one. Yet, since the measure of success was all or nothing – perfection or failure – day one fell within the loss column. In a world made only of blacks and whites, a near miss is as bad as big miss. There is no difference. Since we can never be perfect, we will always be falling short. Since we’re falling short, we’re a failure. Since we’re a failure, why even bother to change?

Labeling events “success” or “failure” is more than semantics.

When we “fail”, we seek comfort. Although “bad” behaviors might not be healthy, they are comforting. That’s why we do them; for emotional support. It’s ironic, but focusing on our failures therefore actually increases the odds of engaging in those very “failing” behaviors.

On the other side of the coin, if we can focus on successes — no matter how small they seem — we are inspired, which sharpens the senses, allowing new feelings and, therefore new ideas to move to the forefront of our thoughts. As a result, new patterns are generated; negative behaviors are reduced. There is as much truth to the statement that “success breeds success” as there is to the truism I share in my seminars and keynote speeches, “If guilt and shame were motivational, we’d all be happier, healthier, and more successful.”

This is not to say ignore what doesn’t work.

That’s just plain stupid. However, to change the results we get, we first have to change our view; because the reality is we cannot change anything but that and our own behaviors. Our co-workers, family members, constituents, council members, might — and I say might — make minor changes to accommodate us, sure; but the bottom line is we will still have to adjust what we do. It is imperative, especially in the challenging times in which we now find ourselves, that we must find ways to congratulate ourselves whenever possible and be less hard on our ourselves when we mess up.

Success only comes in small steps. That’s frustrating, sure; however, failure arrives in a great big clanging, bang, and all at once. The choice of what we call the results of our actions can make all the difference in how well we do what we do.

Strive for Imperfection: Don’t try and do it all, just do one thing more than you did before, congratulate yourself for that. Repeat as necessary.

This post gives an overview to one of Scott’s most popular presentations. You can find out more about it – and you can hire Scott to do it – at  scottqmarcus.com/TopicTitles/StriveForImperfection.html

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Effective Communication Skills: The Key to a Happier and Healthier Lifestyle

Note: This article is from ezinearticles.com. Contact and bio information about the author are included.

By Christopher Sheppard

Effective communication skills can benefit any person at any stage in their life.

These types of soft skills are highly sought after in the workplace, and are integral in maintaining a happy and long-lasting home-life. Improving your ability to communicate can have a tremendously positive impact in many areas of your life. You can expect an increase in happiness, confidence, and successful social interaction.

It is important during the communication improvement process to break down communication barriers. It is often the case that people construct barriers and fears based on past communication shortcomings, and these hurdles are often difficult to overcome. A person may rush when speaking due to confidence issues, or rarely make eye contact when listening. They may steer clear of conversation with strangers or avoid conflict with a family member or colleague. An improvement in your communication skills can help you better express your opinion or feelings. These improvements can help you everywhere, from the boardroom to the bedroom.

When asked what effective communication skills mean to them, the average person often forgets about the role of listening. Being a strong and proactive listener is integral in communicating effectively. Effective communication skills are as much about listening as they are about speaking. Active listening is an important component of understanding the person or people you are communicating with, and allows you to better reach out to them. By effectively communicating feelings of grief, happiness, or remorse, the individual improves their ability to empathize and sympathize with those around them.

By increasing his or her ability to communicate, the individual greatly enhances their opportunities for personal growth.

[Read more...]

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How to Advance Your Business and Career by Doing Your Own Retreat

Note from Scott: One cannot separate his/her personal life from his or her business life. Try as you might, if one is not going well, it will spill over into the other. This detailed article, from Tim Richardson, helps you move forward in your career and personal life at the same time.

Here is an idea that can revolutionize your business and your life.

Many organizations have retreats but how many professionals do you know that take time to go offsite and do some thinking and strategic planning about their career and life?

How about planning some meaningful time to go away all by yourself and put some focused effort into your career? This process is commonly called holding a retreat though I like to refer to it as an advance – after all you want to go forward.

Your thinking, concentration ability and focus will be enhanced when you can get away to an environment that is conducive to creative thinking and planning. Find a place where there are no ringing telephones, pending projects, or distractions of other kinds. To maximize your productivity, leave behind your beeper, turn off the ringer on your cell phone, and block out some time where you don’t feel rushed by other commitments. If you completely clear your calendar and don’t call in for messages, your productivity will be greatly improved. I read recently that Bill Gates even copied my idea! Except Bill does a whole week and calls it his “think week”.

He was quoted in USA Weekend:

Ours is a very fast-moving field. You have to be able to step back from it. Many years ago, I decided to take a week every year and absorb myself in thinking many years ahead. I get colleagues to put together what Ph.D. theses I should read, what products I should play with, what memos I should look at. So, it’s been, except for sleeping a little bit, day and night all by myself uninterrupted.

If Bill Gates can do this, I would hope that most of us could find at least one day to spend in proactive thinking and planning. I did my first session on a beautiful remote beach in the panhandle of Florida. I spent some time working on the beach and some inside at the beach cottage I had rented. That one day advance resulted in more career growth and action than any other single thing I have done in my business. Since then, I’ve had a one or two-day session every year. I have done my advances in State Parks, at Bed and Breakfast Inns, on a camping trip, and in hotel rooms. Think of an environment that you enjoy and one that stimulates your creativity. You might try the mountains, a quiet park, at the beach or lakeside. Before you leave, give some thought as to what you want to accomplish on your planning retreat.

Here are some things to consider when you advance: [Read more...]

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Breaking the Eating Cycle: Why Bad Habits Trigger Bad Habits

It’s important to understand that bad habits trigger bad habits.

I call it “The Eating Cycle.”

In a nutshell, here’s how it works.

Something “happens.” We react to the “something” with a variety of feelings (listed under reaction to the event). Our way of dealing with those feelings is to eat. When we eat too much, we gain weight. Because we do not like gaining weight, we have a reaction to the weight gain, which is usually one of those listed. That triggers us to eat, which causes us to gain weight. You can see the cycle goes on and on.

How to break the cycle?

If we eat too much, we’ll gain weight; there is no way around that. So, we can only break the cycle by reacting differently to the weight gain. In other words, reminding ourselves “it could have been worse,” or “we don’t do it as often as we used to,” or “realizing on the grand scale of things, a minor weight gain is not the end of the world.” That will minimize the urge to eat.

The other option is that we learn how to handle our reactions differently. So, if we’re frustrated, we call a friend (instead of eat). If we’re depressed, we take a walk (instead of eat). If we’re angry, we do some activity to work it out (instead of eat). We don’t have to do it very long, just for a few minutes, long enough to break the cycle.

Remember, you cannot drop a habit, you replace it with a different habit. What will you do to fill the void left by changing your habit? (If you need help, I’m here.)

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Unplugged: Getting Back to What Matters Most

It’s time to take back some time. I’ve lost irretrievable time – sucked away into the black hole of technology. Of course, it’s my fault for not managing it better but I am claiming it back. Starting today, Mother’s Day until Father’s Day I am going cold turkey. No Facebook, no Twitter, no personal email and no other social media of any kind during this time. While I THINK there are some business benefits, I haven’t realized enough to warrant the estimated 4-6 hours a week I spend on it – hours I’ll now spend doing other things. Of course, there are some benefits of social media and technology but I think there is a great deal of time suck too. There are three things that inspired my action to go on a technology diet Sabbatical (which also includes a diet from the codependency I have with my cell phone).

  1. An intense desire to connect more deeply and personally with family and friends
  2. The hectic pace in which my life has been for most of this year (for which social media, in particular, has only contributed to the hurry)
  3. Efforts led by Oprah for a No Phone Zone (watch this video clip and print this No Phone Zone sign to put in your car).

The last few months I haven’t been helped but rather hindered by 24/7 access to email and social media. In the last month alone, I have witnessed or participated in the following:

  • Spending most of a 2 ½ hour flight from Denver online (while missing an incredible sunset outside.
  • “Complaining” to a flight attendant when Gogo (Delta’s in flight internet) wasn’t available on a short flight to Detroit last week.
  • Stopping at a rest stop that had free wireless while driving from Iowa to Minnesota….just to try it out.
  • Twice seeing men in public restrooms texting while using the urinal
  • Conversing with a couple who, while she read Live The Life You’ve Always Wanted, he talked on his Crackberry Blackberry (he admitted in our conversation that sometimes at dinner with the family, he’d check email or respond to a text while waiting for the food to arrive).

I’ve had enough (at least for awhile). So I am quitting… cold turkey. Yeah, I’ll travel with my phone if I am away on business but I have taken the Oprah No Phone Zone pledge and have  printed it out, both to post in my car and in my luggage, as a reminder to pull over IF I have an URGENT call. I figured I survived until my early forties without a cell phone so I certainly can make it for 41 days. Extreme measure? Perhaps. Unnecessary? I think not.

My technology avoidance may not work for everyone but it’s a needed step for me to re-connect. Here’s what I expect to happen while on my temporary social media and cell sabbatical: [Read more...]

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