Category Archives: Motivational

Contrarianism by Clayton Clifford Bye

Contrarianism in action: Spock and I prepare to take on some invaders. Note: I’m 6′ 1″ tall

 

A True Story.

I came home one evening from a fourteen-hour workday, having had three hours of sleep the night before. I was tired, cranky and hungry.

My wife met me at the door and said “Can you take us over to the church for Kid’s Club?”

My gut-level response? Gripe!

Yeah, that’s right. I wanted to say no. I wanted to remind her that if she had a driver’s license she wouldn’t need to ask. I wanted to say that the kids could skip their meeting this week. I wanted to ask “What about my dinner?”

But what I wanted wasn’t the best response. It wasn’t even the right response. It was a typical response.

Here’s what I forced myself to do instead: I smiled. I said “Sure.” I trudged out into the cold, scraped the frost off the windows of the car, started it up, went back inside and gave everyone a hug. I did this because it was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do.

This story took place several years ago, yet similar choices are required of me every day. It’s something that will never change. Success demands you choose actions that are out of the ordinary–every day. Are you prepared to make that commitment?

The Incredible Power Of Contrarianism.

You want a better than average life? Stop doing what most people do. Begin right now. Don’t wait until later today. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Make some different choices–right now.

I’m serious about this! Change is one of the most universally hated events. You should be prepared to welcome it for that reason alone–just because most other people won’t. Call it Contrarian Thinking or Contrarianism. It’s a way to force yourself to look at your choices from a different perspective.

Here’s the drill… When you want to generate better results than you’ve been getting, consider choosing a behaviour opposite of what you (or most people) would normally select in this particular situation. Now, I’m not saying you have to follow the course of action this exercise points you toward. Just give it serious consideration. Does this choice offer the possibility of better results? Do you have anything to lose by attempting this task? What other alternatives can you think of that might lead you away from the ordinary and toward the extraordinary? Make the best decision for you, based on the results you’re after.

In concise terms, Contrarians believe that the average person isn’t overly healthy, wealthy or happy, that these people just don’t make the right choices, or take the right actions, that lead to a better lifestyle. Contrarian philosophy also suggests outstanding achievement might be as simple a matter as choosing behaviours exactly opposite the average.

Emulate the exceptional not the ineffectual.

Let me ask you a couple of direct questions. Do most of the people you know deal with change well? Do you? If the answer was no (and it should have been), then there’s the justification for becoming a Contrarian. Simply put, if the results most people obtain in a given situation aren’t outstanding, why would you want to behave the way they do?

Let’s use this article as an example of what I’m talking about. A lot of people tend to read self-help literature passively, using the same approach they’d choose when sitting down with a novel. Be a Contrarian; do the opposite! Stop reading the moment you finish this paragraph, and act on what you’ve learned so far. Do something that opposes your normal choices. Not overly affectionate toward your spouse? Get up and give the guy or gal a hug. Say “I love you.” Better yet, put on the coffee, get them something to read and do those dishes they were about to do; show them you love them. It’s the opposite of what you’d normally do, and yet it makes sense, doesn’t it? We all know intuitively that better behaviours lead to better relationships. So, try what I’ve suggested… Put the article aside for awhile, and do something that’s out of character, that’s the exact opposite of what you usually do.

Convinced? Probably not. But that’s alright. Success is a journey, not a destination. The key is to keep moving in the right direction, to make more good decisions than bad.

Let’s look at another example of the kind of success-oriented movement that can be generated through Contrarian thinking. This one deals with procrastination, a problem of epidemic proportions.

Most people, I’m sure you’d agree, have problems with their to-do lists. I know I did. The pressure of things left undone was a constant in my life, and there were always tasks that seemed to get put off until they became so urgent they superceded everything else, wreaking havoc with scheduled work, interfering with more pleasant pastimes, threatening the quality of my life. Solution? Using Contrarian philosophy, I began to do the exact opposite of what I’d been doing. Specifically, I made the commitment to do my unpleasant tasks at the beginning of each day. After these tasks were completed, I’d go through the rest of the day working on a list of prioritized goals, refusing to worry about items shelved for another day because of time constraints. The results not only astounded me, they changed my life.

A Powerful Contrarian Technique.

Step 1: Find the most distasteful job on your to-do list and get it done. Why? The choice represents contrarian philosophy as well as any example I could give you. There’s something invigorating about clearing a repugnant task from your list of things to do, and it’s uncommon behaviour. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.

Step 2: From now on, begin each morning by doing the least preferable job(s) of the day. Chances are you’ll feel so good about yourself procrastination won’t seem half so attractive.

Step 3: Go through the rest of your day working from a list of prioritized goals. Recognize that worrying about things left undone is counterproductive, that a steady, energetic and worry-free progression through your most important goals will leave you further ahead at the end of the day than anything else you could do. It’s another uncommon or Contrarian choice.

Remember: When you’re prioritizing, don’t fall into the habit of putting jobs at the bottom of your list because they’re difficult, or boring, or nasty or… You get my drift, right? Arrange your tasks according to their importance and urgency, not by degree of difficulty.

I have many such examples of Contrarianism in action…

Are you, or have you ever been, a couch potato? I have. Here’s how I beat the habit: I made the decision to give my wife $5 for her personal shopping fund every time I thought about turning on the television or renting a movie. The end result was I don’t watch as much television as I used to, and my wife was able to enjoy several months of shopping at my expense.

Do you have the habit of laying blame when something unpleasant happens? You’re not alone. The Contrarian (and difficult) choice is to take responsibility where most people wouldn’t. After all, there’s a staggering probability that at some point in the chain of events there was an opportunity for you to have done something to change the results you experienced. The Contrarian would also find out what it was they could have done to get better results and would make the decision to alter their behaviour next time around.

Have you got the idea? By identifying the things most people aren’t willing to do–then doing those things yourself–you put yourself way out in front of the pack. So, stop wasting time. Make the change right now. Get contrary. Get different. Get on the high road to success.

Stop doing what most people do, and start doing what successful people do.

Is that all there is to it? Do successful people just choose behaviours that oppose the average? For the most part, yes. In general, successful people set goals they’re going to enjoy pursuing, work hard on a daily basis to achieve those goals, do the best they can within the realm of their abilities and spend little time worrying about what they can’t do or what others think. You must know, you must recognize, that the average person doesn’t go through life this way. The average person is reactive, rather than proactive. The average person doesn’t chart and adhere to a specific course but tends to be at the mercy of the winds of change, a statement supported by the lack of preparedness often exhibited when a strong wind blows through.

Think I’m being too harsh? Then consider this course of action: Get a pen and paper and write down exactly what you want from life, when you want these things to happen and the resources you’ll probably need. Break each of these large goals down into smaller and smaller tasks until you get to something you can do immediately. Do this thing. Then do the next task. And the next. And so on.

What? It’s too hard? It’ll take too much time? Well, you’re right. It should become obvious that this exercise is one without end, that will take you a lifetime to complete. But that’s the point. I’m convinced there are few people in this world who make the decision to spend each of the days they’ve been given on this earth “on purpose.” Yet this is exactly what I’ve observed successful people doing! If there’s one ability these individuals share, it’s focus. Successful people “dig in.” They refuse to be daunted by the lifelong challenge implied by the word “success.” Successful people know what they want and go for it.

Be willing to cultivate experiences which will move you relentlessly toward your goals. Why? Because the average person won’t, and the successful person will.

Spend the rest of your days “on purpose.”

The idea is so elegantly simple. At some level, I believe all successful people recognize that the meaning they choose to place on their experiences determines the direction and shape of their lives. It’s like having a pair of magic glasses to illuminate what’s important and to diminish what’s not, and it bestows the power to make the right choices.

This insight is important! If you can manage to interpret your future experiences in positive, constructive or proactive ways, I’m convinced you can accomplish virtually anything you can envision. Why not begin now?

Get On Purpose.

1. Review the patterns in your life, making a list of things you enjoy doing that you’re also good at. If you come up with zilch, go out and try new experiences until you do find a pastime you can enjoy. Reasoning? If you can’t enjoy what you do, you’ll never achieve an enjoyable lifestyle.

2. Lurking within this list of things you enjoy are thousands of opportunities. Your next job is to find a product, service or idea you can sell that’s related to this list. That’s right–sell. The only way anyone ever makes any money is to sell a product or a service or an idea. Every job in the world is, in some way, a service. All businesses sell something. And behind every one of these businesses and services are ideas people have either discovered or bought. It’s something everyone should think about, if not understand.

3. As for achieving outstanding success in the field you’ve chosen, the procedure is simple… Your earnings will always rise in direct ratio to the following:

a) The demand for what you do.

It’s up to you to find this demand, or create it.

b) How well you do it.

This is where the enjoyment comes in. If you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll never put in enough practice time to become outstanding at it.

c) How difficult it is to replace you.

The more valuable you make yourself in the eyes of your direct customer, the more difficult it becomes to replace you.

Alright, that was a global approach for getting “on purpose.” But what do you do about staying focused on a daily basis? I like to use what I call the 4 A’s of Achievement. It’s a system I devised for keeping me focused on the results I want from life. The system has helped me to maintain perspective, and it has led me to some outstanding achievements. I know it can do the same for you.

The Four A’s of Achievement.

Awareness: Know what you want–from life, from this day or even from your current task. Plan each leg of your journey “on purpose” and with daily enjoyment in mind.

This is so important! Specific destinations give you a target to aim for, or a direction in which to travel. They give you that all-important thing called focus. Having fun while you’re at it increases the likelihood that you’ll repeat the behaviour.

Action: Get moving! Small achievable steps, taken on a consistent basis, will get you where you want to go.

Virtually any vision you can hold in your mind can be accomplished in time. And as this is a life you’re planning, the only thing with the power to actually stop you is death itself. So, get moving!

Analysis: Keep your eyes open. Learn to recognize when you’re on course and when you’re not.

Think about it: Those miles you rack up every day will only get you to your next port of call if you’re travelling in the right direction. Look for signs. Write things down! Check up on yourself. Stay on course. Get “on purpose.”

Adjustment: If you find a good vehicle or a good road to travel, stick with it long enough to make some progress in the direction of your goal(s). But please! If you take a wrong turn, never hesitate to make a course correction. All good navigators know that staying on course is primarily a matter of small and continuous adjustments to keep from drifting off target.

Be prepared to modify your behaviour and actions as required.

That’s it. The uncomplicated but never easy path to the good life: Consistent and purposeful action over a lifetime – with a vigilant eye on the results.

To recap:

Figure out what you could enjoy doing with the rest of your life, then put your focus on behaviours with the potential to get you living that way. Pay attention to the results you get, making adjustments when needed. Become a Contrarian. Do what others are unwilling to do. Strive to find positive and productive meaning in each experience you have, rather than thinking, feeling, talking and acting as you have in the past. Dare to be different! If nothing else, you’ll end up with a more useful set of beliefs about what you’re capable of and about how the world works. Personally, I think the ride’s going to be more exciting than you could ever imagine. Have fun.

Copyright © 2017 Clayton Clifford Bye

Personal Goals by Yves Johnson

ppWe must control what we’re doing to be successful.  As we clarify our goals we are able to help steer our organizations.  It’s easy for a leader to lose her way.  The result will be disastrous.  The same can be said for the individual!

“If you don’t have personal goals, you’re controlled by those who do.” – Garrison Wynn

Imagine if we have no goals, or a list of the ‘things we want to do,’ or ‘things we want to achieve.’ Life would have absolutely no direction. That’s why goals become important — because they give our life a definite direction, force us to think about what we hope to achieve in life, and take the necessary steps to achieve the same. It helps us at several levels because while we set about achieving those goals, we also acquire numerous skills and qualities. All in all, setting goals helps in our growth as human beings.

Here are a couple of suggestions I provide participants in my seminars:

Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?

Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?

Once you’ve realized what your goals are, the next step is to list them out. There are a number of ways of going about this. You can list them under categories that pertain to ‘general,’ ‘professional’ or ‘personal’ goals and then further list them out under the ‘long term’ and ‘short term’ goals. Now, you need to put some action to your goals. If you don’t, you’re not going to progress much farther.

One last question.  Are you where you want to be? How far are you away from your goals?

This is your action plan for the week. Simply write out one thing you can do to get closer to your goal. Then, complete the thing you have written down.

I hope this very brief overview can help you get started on the road towards achieving your goals. I am confident you can get there. Now, stop reading this blog and get to work on your goals. I know you can do it.

 

Yves Johnson is a Speaker an Author.  He has written two books and a varied collection of articles and blogs. He is the President of Christ Is My Savior Ministries and CEO of CornerStone Leadership Consulting.  He’s a sought out speaker and offers a wide range of leadership and development seminars for both Faith Based and non-Faith Based organizations. You can find his books at http://ow.ly/B4aGp

The Magic Called Focus by Clayton Clifford Bye

The wind and the waves slammed into us with icy indifference. Air temperature plummeted to near freezing in a matter of seconds, and numbness began to crawl over the exposed flesh of my hands and face. I saw a brief flash of white as terror clawed at the corner of Danny’s eyes, then he turned wordlessly back to his oar. He was right to be afraid.

Things had started out well enough. We stopped at the Big Trout Lake weather office, where we both worked as meteorological technicians, looked over the current reports, got an updated forecast and checked both the barometer and the wind recorder. Everything seemed to be fine. We’d be fishing for walleye on the Bug River within an hour.

And everything was fine—until our motor quit. Even then, we had no reason to be alarmed. The skies were trouble free, and the lake was calm enough for rowing. All we had to do was backtrack in the shelter of a couple of islands and cross the quarter of a mile of open water which lay between them and the mainland. This done, we would be in sight of the village. Rescue would simply become a matter of waiting to be noticed. Such was our plan.

We were about a hundred yards from where we wanted to land the boat when the storm caught us. And even though a fast-moving wall of water (extending from the surface of the lake to the sky and preceded by a seething mass of ugly white waves) is hard to miss, we really didn’t have much notice. It wasn’t just one cell either, but a whole line of thunder clouds. They can move with remarkable speed.

I’ll confess I was concerned when the storm first appeared, but I wasn’t frightened. The fear didn’t really surface until a few minutes later, when we found ourselves being tossed around in ten foot swells that were crested with white-caps which looked like they belonged on the ocean. In the space of less than five minutes, and without moving a single meter closer to shore, Danny and I were blown a quarter of a mile south.

It happened that fast. One minute we were thinking about landing the boat and starting a fire to warm ourselves, the next minute we were being swept south towards thirteen miles of open water. This was something we definitely didn’t want to happen. Big Trout Lake is a killer when rough weather sets in. We both knew that once we hit the main lake there would be no avoiding capsize or the near-freezing water that would seal our fate. By the time a search party thought to look for as at the south end of the lake, instead of the west end, we would be goners. Yes, I think Danny had good reason to be afraid.

I suppose it was because of this train of thought that I just happened to be looking at Danny when it happened. I think I had some sort of notion that by focusing on him I could keep my own fear in check. And I was very much afraid. You see, the waves had gotten so large we could see through the curl of the white caps as they raged down toward us. The sight made my stomach knot up into an iron ball. When our boat was in the trough of a wave, my friend had to stick his oar upward into the side of the thing and pull with a clumsy down and backward movement. Similarly, each time we found ourselves perched at the crest of a wave, I couldn’t draw water with my oar. As for the sudden slip-and-rush down the side of each succeeding monster wave? That’s something I still don’t like to think about.

Anyway, we were at the bottom of one of these boat-crackers, and I was monitoring Danny’s every move. I watched in awe as his oar pierced the wave at no less than an upward angle of 45 degrees. He bunched up into a ball, pushed hard with his legs, rose up off his seat a little and arched backward. The oar snapped.

I can still see it clearly on the screen of my mind: Danny’s feet shot up past the top of his head as if they had been fired from the barrel of a pistol. He did a 360 degree flip in the air and then stopped abruptly when the back of his head connected with the front seat of the boat. I thought his neck was broken. But I didn’t have time to make sure. I checked for a pulse and to see if he was breathing. Yes, he was alive. He was also out cold.

At this point, we were about 200 feet from shore and only 50 feet from the last point of land that could save us from certain death. I have a vivid memory of the sinking feeling I got in my chest when I saw how quickly the remaining shoreline was disappearing. I also remember how angry I got at that response. In fact, I was so angry with my lack of faith in myself that I forced myself upright, stood there with the storm raging all around me and literally willed myself to stare for a long moment at a rock on the shore. I didn’t pay attention to such things back then, but what happened next is etched permanently into my mind. I asked myself a question. I asked “How can I do this?”

As long as I live, I’ll never forget the answer that popped immediately into my mind. It was a crystal-clear picture of me rowing with the passion and speed of a fiend, followed by a phrase that rifled up from the depths of my brain … “Paddle like a madman!”

It’s amazing what a focused mind will do. With no one to lean on but myself, and the only options being death or not death, I found myself determined to do whatever it took to drive our boat onto the rock I’d chosen as a target. I used my oar as a paddle, reefing on it with superhuman strength and the crazed fury of a madman. I dug so deep and with such tremendous force that I was continually lifted off my feet and slammed into the side of the boat. It mattered not. Nothing in the entire world mattered except hitting that rock. And so, I did.

P.S.
Danny was only unconscious for a minute or two and, other than a headache, he suffered no ill effects. We spent the afternoon, cold and wet, working our way back to our intended landing sight – on foot. Shortly before dark, and long before we reached our destination, we were rescued by a native fisherman.

 

Clayton Bye is an eclectic writer, an editor, a ghostwriter extraordinaire and a publisher of strangely different stories in multiple genres. He lives in Kenora, Ontario on beautiful Lake of the Woods. You can find many of his books at http://shop.claytonbye.com

The Proverbial Shoe of Life by Louise Malbon-Reddix

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Finding that harmony in your life, with your own self-balancing of all the components of just you–mind, body and spirit–on any given day is an amazing architectural feat.

At times the heart wants to win and at others, the mind wants to win.  Usually, the heart wins out and off one goes.  Never mind that reason and rhyme do not match, that heart will often fly by the seat of its pants!  The truth within us all is that we desire health, abundance, security, love, peace and happiness.

What then, when life shows you its proverbial shoe?  We all know that at any given point in life, that proverbial shoe can and does show up. It can be a terrible accident of any kind; in a car, plane or on a bike.  Perhaps it will be a tree falling on a roof, or a slip in the bathroom.  Possibly even a turn down a on way street or God forbid as has been in the news of late, a child left in a hot car to die all alone! Or, as in my own case, the unexpected death of a loved one.

Bammm!!!! Just like that and all you see in your face is the leather on the bottom of that proverbial shoe of life, just waiting to step on you and crush you. And not only you, but your hopes and your dreams and your life’s work and anything else it can lay it’s claim too.

What will you do, where will you go? Or maybe the question is, is it even worth the effort? Clearly, the man in this picture has his hands up in the pose of surrender.  And for sure in that moment when that proverbial shoe first raises it’s foot, the surrender is an appropriate reaction.  For sure that is a picture of the first phase of  grief and loss. It is simply numbed disbelief. Shock and horror is another way to say the same thing.  A way to protect oneself from being overwhelmed all at once.   I say, let us take a moment and consider the alternatives.  The picture itself gives us that chance.  The shoe has not crushed the man totally.

It is here that I want to offer you some words from that great poet, Maya Angelou; “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings –  But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams. His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream.  His wings are clipped and his feet are tied. So he opens his throat to sing.  The caged BIRD sings with a fearful trill of things unknown, but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill.  For the caged Bird sings of freedom.” Or perhaps, some of the lyrics from Lynn Anderson’s song, “Rose Garden – So smile for a while and let’s be jolly, life shouldn’t be so melancholy, come along and share the good times while we can.  I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”

We too can take a lesson here from the life of a dog that is bred for fighting.  The roughest part about being a fighting dog is the time between the fights. They are often, just left alone with heavy collars attached to chains. And that is as far as they can go, to the end of that chain. Yes, just like that man sitting there looking up at that proverbial shoe getting ready to drop right into his life. Sitting there at his wits end, not knowing just what to do.  Once he had a dream and a life and was doing just fine.

One has to admit, that when calamity shows its nasty face, for sure all one can do is sit there and stare at it.  And for sure, we are only human beings. The mind can only take in so much at a time.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned earlier in that architectural feat of balancing all of the components of just you–mind, body and spirit–was the will. And yes, we all do have free will.  Free will has been described as a philosophical term for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.  Free will to seems to be a condition on desert for one’s accomplishments–a sustained effort of creativity to complete a work.  Free will then is your autonomy and your dignity!  The main perceived threats to that freedom and will are determinations that may be physical/causal; psychological; biological; and theological–alias, the proverbial shoe.

In the face of any situation then all one needs is a desire for change.  A ray of hope! Perhaps in the form of a repurpose.  Even the shoe in the picture shows us some hope.  Some of the sole is worn for sure, but it has a metal piece on the tip of the shoe for protection and reinforcement.  That part of the sole with no scratches on it shows that even though worn in some places it is still shiny and new and it has a heel on it to protect it too.

So what will it take for you when calamity and danger strike to repurpose or rebuild and restart?  For sure you will need time to process what is happening and go through the whole grief process.  But after that, then what? For sure that proverbial foot is/was there, but you do not have to let it leave a lasting footprint in your life.  Will you accept a lesser quality to your life, or will you repurpose.

Hang on to your memories!  Laugh with the babies. One step at a time. And yes, I have another song that has helped me in all through my life, and I want to share that with you too! When You Walk Through a Storm–When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high.  And don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark.  Walk on, through the wind.  Walk on through the rain.  Though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone! You’ll never walk alone!” Mahalia Jackson singing it or Elvis Presley, it doesn’t matter. Tears hit first, than the inspiration to do just as the song says, Walk On, proverbial shoe never the matter.  “You never stood in that man’s shoes or saw things through his eyes, or stood  and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside of you dies. So help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts for the same God that made you made him too.”  Elvis Presley.  Link to Youtube video  https://youtu.be/8H9T7427EbI

That will thing, Whitney Houston describes it very well in her song, The Greatest Love Of All.  “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow.  If I fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believe.  No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity! Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.  I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.  Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”

And that my friends is what I hope I have done, given you a little hope and inspiration to get through whatever the proverbial shoe has brought into your life. Do not let it leave a footprint!

 

 

Louise Malbon-Reddix is the Author of  Stand In Your Anointment – This Too Shall Pass  Trailerhttp://youtu.be/WfOUVQFaxU0

Available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter @louisereddix