The Integrated Journey

We should not fret for what is past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with the present moment. – Marcus Aurelius

Wednesday

2

October 2013

1

COMMENTS

Meaningful Vulnerability

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When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.

Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

 

I watched the video below just this morning that reminded me of how much we try to edit and curate our lives. We try to be what we’re supposed to be, and our increasing use of social media as a communications device is making easier today than ever before to appear perfect in front of all of our ‘friends’. We’ve strived to grow the size of our social circles at the expense of the depth of our circles. We choose to stay connected rather than develop true relationships that require real-time communication because it’s safer, less vulnerable.

We seek to minimize uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Meaningful relationships require vulnerability because they involve humans who may or may not reciprocate our feelings. Humans who may be fiercely loyal or may betray us on a whim. Humans who may choose to stay in our lives and retain the connection or may leave with a moments notice to protect themselves rather than protect the relationship.

Its only through being vulnerable, the thing we’ve been taught to fear most, and not through perfection that we can truly connect with each another in a meaningful way.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

Tuesday

4

December 2012

0

COMMENTS

The right time…

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Everyone waits for the right time. They want to be ready. There’s always more things to get done before taking the next step.

The reality there’s never a right time. The only time that you have is now.

Don’t put it off.

Do it now.

Monday

3

December 2012

0

COMMENTS

Less time

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Less time spent worrying about what other people think of you equals more time spent being true to yourself.

Be present in what you do, and stay true to the things you believe in even if it’s not the easiest way.

It’s easy to say, and even more difficult to do.

But it’s the difficult things in life that carry the greatest rewards.

Friday

30

November 2012

11

COMMENTS

Athletes vs Exercisers.

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It’s dawned on me recently, that there are many parallels between what life in the gym and life outside the gym.

The difference between an athlete and an exerciser is simple. The athlete is dedicated to their goals – they will manipulate their diet and choose salad instead of a burger when they go out. An athlete will train when they don’t want to, sleep early instead of going out so they can wake up at 6 to make time for the gym. An athlete has goals that don’t change from week to week, and they will do whatever it takes to reach their goals. If that means gaining weight they’ll do that, if that means losing weight they’ll do that too. The goal comes first and everything else needs to support the goal, things that don’t support the goal are removed from the equation.

Exercisers workout because they find it fun or social. They come in and do what they want and listen to their feelings above all else. When there’s a problem it’s often someone else’s fault. Exercisers change programs more often than they go shopping, because they’re looking for something and when they don’t find it they figure it’s the programs fault. There’s always a reason why they can’t achieve their goals, they’re too busy, the timing isn’t right, they have too many outings planned this month.

Most importantly is the following observation:

For exercisers the problems and solutions are always external.

For athletes the problems and solutions are always internal.

Now, for the gym this doesn’t really pose a problem. Ideally you realize which of the two camps you fall into and you adjust your training accordingly, after all not everyone needs to have physical goals beyond being healthier than they were yesterday.

But in there are many parallels that extend beyond the gym and into peoples personal lives. They difference is that if you take that exercise mindset and apply it to other parts of your life (business, career and personal relationships included) you’ll end up like chaff in the wind. Tossed back and forth by your circumstances rather than taking charge and moving forward to your goals.

Which one are you, and what are you gonna do about it?

It’s never to late to start living like an athlete.

Tuesday

27

November 2012

0

COMMENTS

Lean Into Discomfort

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It’s hardwired in our nature to play it safe.

It should come as no surprise, really. Our ancestors lived in situations where survival was paramount. They honed their instincts to survive, often the bravest most fearless ones died on battlefields, in cold winters, or exploring dangerous seas. Those who played it safe, generally had a better chance of surviving.

Today it’s quite a different story. Our day to day lives are safer than they’ve ever been in human history. With a lack of natural predators, the development of cures and treatments for many diseases and ailments that would have destroyed entire continents in the past. Most of our problems these days can be summed up as ‘first world problems’.

Our instincts however are still wired to find and eliminate all forms of danger, but in light of the near disappearance of all mortal forms of danger, our brain has to find other things to categorize as danger. With many people this stems from anxiety, or as I like to call it ‘fear of what people will think of me’, because in my experience anxiety is often more self induced than we realize. (That is, unless you’ve been dull enough to borrow a few hundred thousand off a mafia bookie only to lose bet on a sure thing, then it’s the fear of your knees being broken. Odds are, however, no one reading this is in that position.)

It’s always going to be more comfortable to keep the boat even keeled, rather than rocking it and risk making some waves. Do as your told. Follow the rules. Don’t take any risks. Because after all, look at what might happen? You might look stupid infront of that person you have a crush on, or that new business idea might not workout the way you expected. Wait, now that you think about it it’s DEFINITELY a bad idea, it’s better to just play it safe.

Unfortunately, safe is where things maintain. Nothing awesome ever happens with safe. It’s only once you get outside of your comfort zone where awesome begins to happen.

Don’t think that the solution here is striving to make what’s uncomfortable now feel comfortable in the future. Many things will never get more comfortable for you, you’ll just get better at doing them and not being so anxious about them. The solution is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, lean into the discomfort because that’s where the magic happens.

 

Monday

26

November 2012

2

COMMENTS

Focus vs Rush

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Most of us live in a continual state of rush.

The rush to get where we’re going.

The rush to get from point A to point B.

The rush to get the project done on time.

The rush to no longer be the student and be the master.

What if we traded rush for focus.

Focus on the moment. Focus and enjoy it.

It’s easy to forget that we live in moments, not in the future, not in the past – they are where we are going and where we came from but they aren’t where we are now.

Focus on the failures – they are what make it possible for you to achieve greatness one day. If you never get to where you fail you’ll never learn what doesn’t work.

Focus on your relationships – they have the power to make you a better human. Choose wrongly and they will do their best to keep you mediocre. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, the grass is always greener where you water it.

Focus on your day-to-day – it’s really the only guarantee. As Kanye says ‘nothin ever promised tomorrow today’.

Lastly, direction of focus is important – the grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. Direct your focus where it can be the most beneficial and you’ll reap the rewards. Allow your focus to drift and be captured by the next new shiny thing and you’ll spend a lifetime chasing greener grass.

Tuesday

25

September 2012

9

COMMENTS

Do Deep Discounts Attract Loyal Customers?

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About two years ago the Groupon phase was just booming. After much debate I decided to take the plunge. We set up a Groupon deal with enough restrictions in place to satisfy my fears of becoming a Groupon Slave. We sold just over 100 Groupons, and that afternoon people started coming in. At first it was great to see new faces in the door, people excited about trying out our service, the buzz of a busier gym was palpable and we were excited about our opportunity to showcase the awesomeness we had brewing in our box.

Imagine for a moment that you the owner of a BMW dealership (insert any other premium car or product retailer if you wish). As a provider of a premium product you don’t compete on price, in fact price is one of the things you keep high to ensure you can keep your quality high. Now imagine for a moment, your BMW dealership is having a hard time selling cars. Racking your brain for what the problem is you decide that you’ve found the perfect solution! You’re going to offer short term leases, for cheaper than a regular lease costs. Brilliant! For only $99 dollars you can drive a new BMW M3 for 21 days. Take it home, show it to your friends, go on a few dates in style and then bring it back when you’re done. A savings of  79%.

The thought process behind this is that attracting more people to try the product will make more people interested in buying the product. Now, how many of these people who bargain hunted a deal do you think will be interested in paying full price for the BMW M3 after their 21 days of glory?  If not, is it the fault of the manufacturer or the dealership? Did we give them a lemon car? Perhaps the customer service wasn’t great (especially considering we had hundreds of people lined up to pick up their car all on the same day. Do you get where I’m going with this? In this situation the problem isn’t the product/service. The problem is the customers!

These deal-finders are no more likely to become loyal customers than a random person walking by your building. Why you ask? Because they don’t value your product. Simple as that. Can many more people afford to lease or purchase an $80,000 vehicle than currently do? Sure they can. The difference is they don’t want to. Their values are not aligned with yours. They might value going on two nice vacations a year with their family. They might want to own two or three vehicles. They might even want to own a Smart Car instead because it’s ‘good for the environment’, or plunge money into Retirement Savings Plans.

Your most loyal customer has values that are aligned with yours. They see the value in what you offer, and it fits into their lives because they have made that decision, often without you. You’re filling a need, or solving a problem. More often than not you’re not winning the game simply because you offer something for cheaper than the competition.

Seth Godin often talks about the race to the bottom. As he says “the biggest problem with the race to the bottom is that you might actually win”. The customer you want isn’t the one that wants to buy the cheapest car, or the cheapest tv. The one that drives around town wasting $2 of gas to save 20 cents filling up their gas tank.  You want the customer that drives across town spend an extra $2 in gas to come see you instead of your cheaper competitor!

Discount focused people are rarely loyal, because they value low prices. Instead, spend your time improving your customer experience. Treat your customers like family. Give them more, focus on improving your service and refining your product until you’re at a point where you can pick and choose your customers to make sure they’re the right fit… for both of you! When you and your customer are on the same page, that’s when you can really make awesome things happen!

Do I regret running Groupon? Nope. It was an experience that taught me a lot, and we gained some awesome members from it. Would I ever do it again? Hell no. There are significantly better options to attract customers, the difference is the better options take more work than a simple click.

Monday

7

May 2012

0

COMMENTS

Risk

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It’s easy to get in the habit of playing it safe. Letting past experiences, other peoples experiences or even worse – what ‘they’ say – jade your view of situations.

The greater the risk the greater the potential reward.

The world is full of people who play it safe. People who follow the rules that ‘they’ tell you to follow.

They tell you to that low-fat sour cream, whole grain bread and that walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week is enough to get you in amazing shape.

They tell you that post-secondary education is the key to all your dreams, you’ll be happy once you graduate… or once you land that dream job… or maybe it’s when you buy that dream house… or when you renovate the dream house? It’s so hard to keep track.

They tell you following a map is important and the only way to make it in life.

They tell you that the way to get ahead in life is to be like everyone else, don’t stand out and by all means minimize risk as much as possible.

I for one am happy the world is full of non-risk takers, because that makes the reward for taking a risk that much greater for all those of us that refuse to listen to what ‘they’ tell us.

Don’t lift heavy weights because you’ll get bulky.

Don’t date co-workers because it’ll end badly.

Don’t set so many goals for yourself, it’ll only end in disappointment.

Don’t start your own business, you won’t make it without a pension or benefits.

Only you can decide if you’re going to choose to be one of those people who does or you can be one of the people who doesn’t. I won’t complain either way though, because those that don’t make it better for the rest of us.

Friday

30

March 2012

0

COMMENTS

Cut the Fat.. or Your Pennies

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The Canadian government announced yesterday that they’re phasing out the penny this year.

It costs them 1.5 cents to make each penny, and in aggregate over $100 million a year to keep the penny in circulation.

This is a great reminder to look at all the behaviours you engage in and taking the time to identify which of them in aggregate cost you more than they should.

Wasting 30 minutes a day adds up to more than full week by the end of the year.

A $5 specialty coffee a day adds up to over $1,800 a year.

Conversely small positive changes also make a big difference in aggregate.

Cut the fat, and stop the slow decline of your success.

 

Wednesday

21

March 2012

1

COMMENTS

Stick to Your Guns

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Trying to please everyone is a sure path to failure.

Take great care to distinguish who your target audience is and work like hell to delight them. That’s all that matters.

Too often people spend too much energy trying to work to please the wrong crowd.

Changing a product to silence critics.

Changing who you are or what you want to appease your parents.

Changing your views to fit in with a certain group.

Changing your standards to please someone else.

It’s not that other people are always wrong. It’s not just about blocking out outside noise and distractions, although that can be a big part of it, it’s about sticking to your guns.