Personal Development

Focus – on Giving

Selected Life Lesson
You can keep on giving even if you don’t always feel that you received.
-Janet V’s Life Lesson from Fairfield, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
The old saying that it is better to give than to receive is — and always will be — true. I make a commitment every year to donate a certain amount of money to charity. In politics, money can equal access. For me, that money to charity is not access. I have no problem giving to my selected charities because I believe in their causes.

The same can be said when you give time, energy, and effort to someone else. In a lot of ways, these weekly FOCUS messages focus on you and how you can be better for yourself. This week’s is all about giving of yourself to others.

To give really is to get. In my two-plus years of working with The Trevor Project, I received infinitely more than I gave. The same can be said for my work with Habitat for Humanity and the Youth Task Force. Give of yourself. Eventually you will receive.

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Getting What You Seek

Fact: We get what your brains are focused on. Nothing more and sometimes much less.

Gorilla Study Image

37Signals recently summarized the infamous Invisible Gorilla study where researchers found that 83 percent of radiologists, in reviewing x-rays of lungs, missed a superimposed image of a gorilla. Why?

Because they weren’t looking for it.

When I lead team building workshops, that lesson is something I drive home in how I give directions and it is a lesson for leaders:

The less you direct in black and white terms,
the more freedom your team has to discover new and great things.

The same is true in life:

The less you focus on one tiny thing, or the end goal,
the more likely you are to find amazing opportunities
and experiences along the way.

Open your eyes, uncloud your path and see what is out there.

Newsletter: Start Climbing

This is part of my monthly newsletter (which is free, by the way)! Sign up here to get it delivered to your mailbox each month

Over winter break, I took three hours and locked myself away to review 2012 and plan for 2013. This includes goal review, life review, deep reflection on what went well and what went poorly, budgetary reviews and then 2013 goal setting for all areas of my life.

And on that point, I can see that there are a lot of unknowns that I am going to find the answer to this year. Some will be harder than others, but not any less worthy of my time.

That’s why I do the quarterly and yearly review … to find what is worthy of my time. To make this fun, I have found 13 things that I am unsure of going into this year.

  • Health: Can I manage my health better for a full year without marathon training?
  • Knowledge: Can I manage all my reading that I dream of doing?
  • Budget: Is my plan solid enough to hit a great goal by 30?
  • Creation: Do I have the energy to create two books this year?
  • Web: Can I increase my visibility?
  • Politics: Is my random idea something with validity?
  • Love: Where does it take me?
  • Creative: Can I produce the short film I’ve written with a great director?
  • Happiness: How do I maintain happiness in the Big Apple?
  • Kindness: What can I do to be more kind to friends and strangers?
  • Time: Have I learned my lesson from poor time management?
  • Darkness: Have I seen enough darkness recently to remain in the light?
  • Hope: How do I keep hope alive and thriving in my life?

I control some of those things, and some of them I don’t. And that is the key.

I don’t – and can’t – control everything. And neither can you. Once you understand that and let go of the notion that you can, life really and truly begins to happen for you.

Life is a series of ups and downs. It sounds overly simplistic, and it is, but it is also true. There are going to be some amazing high moments in your life and there are going to be some amazingly low moments in your life. But to get to the top of whatever goal you’re dreaming of chasing, you’re going to have to go through the valley. And it is in the valley where the demons lay waiting for you. My advice: keep going.

So you’re climbing up the mountain and you slip down. Or maybe you stop climbing for a few months. In my world, that is okay. We all need a break. We all need to stop and re-focus sometimes. That is when failure is okay. But it is when you stay down, you don’t pick the goal back up and you don’t keep climbing. That is when we and you have a problem.

Are you ready to start climbing?

Be Original

In the land of so much noise, we have to pick and choose what messages we actually pay attention to and let into our lives. I have actually become pretty strict with what I let into my life now, and it is a goal of mine here in 2013 to be super-focused.

But it is hard with all the noise that bombards my e-mail inbox and news feed. However, as our world get noisier and noisier, the spammers and junk mail continues to flow in at seemingly faster and faster rates.

I can hardly keep up with it. But one piece of spam I got last week was the last straw for me:

Spam has to be originalThis came to me via Twitter, and I laughed as I read it. I get this message a few times a month and I’m tired of it.

Not because it is annoying (it is). But because it is unoriginal. Seriously. Get creative. Do something to make me click on the link if you’re so desperate.

But this Twitter spam message isn’t the last straw. We all do it. We do the same thing everyone else is doing. We Tweet what we’re eating even when our resolution is to eat healthier. We bitch about politics without understanding policy. And we keep doing it.

I think that is why I don’t post 3-4 times a week, but rather once or twice. I want whatever I create to be original. To be new. Each time I sit down and write, or paint, or sing, or whatever, I want it to be amazing and not boring and over-done. I have one chance in my life to be original and amazing. So do you.

FOCUS: Be Open!

Selected Life Lesson
My husband and I walked into a store we don’t shop in and we were quick to judge this girl — we were both ashamed. She was very sweet and helpful.
-Lori R’s Life Lesson from Des Moines, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Last week’s lesson was about assuming. How did your reflection on that lesson go?

When we assume, we make decisions that are not based on rational thought and reasoning.
Sure, I recently wrote that I am a proud conservative, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get along, or encourage friendships and relationships among those who think and view the world differently than myself.

It’s tough to not judge when you have a history built up. But just try it.
People can and often do surprised us.

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5 Lessons from “The Summer of Richard”

Sure, I involuntarily departed from my previous full-time job and sure it was depressing. But after 110 days on my own, I joined a new team here in New York City and I could not be more excited about the future.

But in what I am now calling, “The Summer of Richard,” I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned. And in case you were wondering, yes, I stole that line from Seinfeld:

1) Goals Keep us Focused. Without question, having the marathon (link) as a goal kept me moving forward. It is easy to get stagnant and frustrated and depressed without goals and targets in mind. But knowing that at the start of June I was going to be traveling to sunny San Diego to run a marathon with my family supporting me, kept me focused on the goal. And even after achieving it, that high carried me forward. Always have goals in mind.

2) Tough Moments Reveal Our True Desires. It is true. When you are down and out and frustrated, you begin to see what you really want in life. I spent the “Summer of Richard” re-developing some of my workshops, building out a new book idea and writing a short script.

3) Embrace the Opportunity. I finally had time to write. So I did and got published in RSi Magazine and PRSA Tactics. Had I not embraced the moment, that would not have happened.

4) True Friends Stay Close and Get Closer. When you are at your lowest, your closest friends and advisers get closer to you. They push you and hold you close when you need it. I will never forget my friend Kade who one day was offering his support and six weeks later, basically telling me to get off my ass and make it happen.

5) Rest. Boy, did I need the rest. It was honestly, a blessing to have the summer to myself. I needed to let my body rest, not because of the marathon, but because of life. I had been working at some level since I was 15 years old. I am now 28. I have only had one real vacation in four years. And barely take days off. I needed it.

In the end, I learned more about myself in those 110 days than I could have doing nearly anything else. I thank you all for going on the ride with me.

Here is to tomorrow!

FOCUS: Lifelong Learning!

Selected Life Lesson
I learned that grades aren’t the definition of my outcomes in eduction.
-Teresa E’s Life Lesson from Wichita, Kansas

Richard’s Thoughts…
Many of my subscribers are either students or work in the education field and it is “back to school” season! For someone like me who is no longer involved in “formal” education, my schooling never ends, and yours shouldn’t either.

In fact, this year, I’ve had some tough lessons including loosing a full-time job. What grade do I give the past eight months? I’ll say a B-. I’ve learned a lot and made some mistakes. But I also know, that despite the grade and the setbacks, I am going to keep reaching for the stars. There is no other option for my life – and there shouldn’t be other options for yours either.

Education is all about learning and I come from the belief that anything is possible! So as the school-year gets back underway for millions, remember to try to learn something new every single day. Don’t worry about the grades because you’re going to fail more than you succeed … the key is getting back up again, picking up the book and embracing the challenge.

FOCUS: Be the Solution!

Selected Life Lesson
If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
-Peggy S’ Life Lesson from the Des Moines, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Peggy is definitely sharing a true life lesson this week, and it can be true for work and life. I wish I had some profound addition to the lesson, but all I can say it this: Be an asset.

Have you ever sat in a meeting with no direction or end in sight? Waste of time, right?

Or feel like you or your company was not doing enough to be amazing? Waste of energy and resources, right?

That ends now for your life. It’s time to be willing to go after your goals and dreams and be a part of your own solution. What do you want? Tell me.

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