Mental Attitude: Get In Shape

August 31, 2009

How often do we in life work on getting fit with our bodies- and forget about our minds? There are so many diet and fitness plans on the market these days, and for the many who succeed why do so many others struggle or fail? I attribute mental attitude as the deciding factor whether you will achieve your dreams or whether you will continually blame, mope and groan about what you don’t have in your life.

Both of my sales jobs that I struggled with after college have everything to do with sinking into a negative mental attitude. I worked as a telephone marketer for a country music magazine in my first direct sales job. A week of training and we were put on the phones, calling all parts of the United States to sign people up to subscriptions.

I knew the product, I knew the bands and musicians behind the music- and yet I didn’t believe in the script we had to deliver to sell the magazine. I averaged 95 phone calls an hour, 5 hours a day, 5 days a week- and would struggle to close 4 sales a day. On a good day when I would be able to relate to the customer and find out more than my interests, I would double my sales.Yet my direct supervisor would coach me to make the transitions quicker, less extraneous talk and stick to the script- so I left after 4 months.

I next went into the newspaper business, selling advertising for a weekly newspaper. I was given a number of accounts that were consistent and others to develop on my own. Once again I didn’t believe in the product (as the content was often based on how much advertising was sold- more ad sales= more content). That meant some weeks there was a 10 page paper and other weeks a 20 page paper. You hear all kinds of opinions from business owners about advertising with newspapers- some believe in the power of keeping their word out there, others think they should get coverage first on the editorial side and then they will take out ads.

Had I known about sales books and personal development back then, I wouldn’t have taken the rejection personally. Once again, it’s all about mental attitude. I didn’t realize that the art of sales has to naturally do with developing relationships and pounding the pavement. Not everyone is going to say yes right away. Not everyone in general will ever say yes. They just might have a need for what you are doing a year, three years, five years down the road. Being courteous and kind go a long way though to making a memorable impression.

I’m bringing the topic of mental attitude up because my oldest daughter believes that she’s going to have a rough year as a sophomore in high school. She fears no teacher will like her- or be there for help if she’s struggling to adjust. Her attitude is one of already rejecting people to protect herself if things go bad. I might as well push people away, she thinks, so that I can’t get hurt.

When it comes to worry, fears, etc.- 90% of the time you have blown the situation so far out of proportion with your imagination. In the grand scheme of things, stop reliving your rejections and start championing your triumphs. Remember the times you won the race- or crossed the finish line even if you felt out of breath. How about the presentations you never thought you would get through- only to get a standing ovation and the account?

I do believe affirmations are important- as well as a success journal where you chronicle all of the good things you’ve accomplished in your life. Spend at least 10-15 minutes a day training your mind, especially when you first wake up as well as when you go to sleep. In their book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill believe you were born to be a champion- and it all starts within the mind.

Let’s achieve monumental dreams, goals and wishes in our lifetime!

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School Anxiety

August 30, 2009

The house fills with anticipation. Excitement abounds with seeing friends you’ve missed all summer long. You wonder what your new classes will be like, along with how your new teachers will treat you. Welcome to school anxiety. My house currently contains two daughters consumed by it.

If it were up to my oldest daughter, she would get the right to touch and pull together all of her school clothes and school supplies in early August. She’s an obsessive compulsive organizer. She so loves to go full force at the beginning of the school year, that by the end of September she has her organizers stacked to the brim with homework assignments she’s proud to hold onto- which must be the pack rat mentality in her.

My youngest one acts like everything is calm, cool and collected as she prepares to enter junior high for the first time. Currently she’s only 10% concerned about her new teacher and school, although the way she’s snapping and bouncing off our apartment walls about any request or demand tells us otherwise. This year one of the friends in her complex will be at the same school, so I do believe her worries have subsided a touch. She’s the kind of student that never presents a problem in class, always polite and respectful- but never asks questions when she doesn’t understand material. Then expects dear old mom and dad to teach her everything she didn’t get while she was at school 6 hours a day.

I loved school. Nervousness never entered my system- maybe projects when I had to speak in front of groups of people, but otherwise I looked forward to learning each and every day. So it’s tough for me to help my daughters feel comfortable and give them the confidence they need to know they will be fine. In our early years with them, due to where we would live in relation to the school system they got used to going to a new school every year- so I would think this year they would be used to change.

I have a number of teachers in different subject areas that probably will read this and be able to provide their opinions on this. How do you ease children and their fears in the classroom the first few days of school? Are there particular techniques that you believe would be helpful when the child comes home (outside of talking about their day… i.e. listening to them give you a play by play)? Because I know it’s been a hard day when the answers I get from my daughters are one or two word answers with little affect in their voices.

In the meantime my day will be spent doing more household chores and attempting to stay out of the way of any verbal outbursts or angry moments that may come up before bedtime. Maybe I’ll work on giving out my 12 hugs a day (thank you Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, read the Aladdin Factor for their research findings on this) to both daughters so that there is plenty of love in the apartment. They should know though I’m always in their corner, hoping that they strive to learn, to be creative and to be excited for the next day.

I so look forward to their return home. I want to hear what they enjoyed, what they’ll be working on this year and the ten thousand forms I have to fill out…


Take a Chance

August 29, 2009

10 year ago today, two people in the world took a chance. In different parts of the state, on different computers, they decided to go forth looking for conversation. Who would have guessed that this one mere chance connection would turn into 10 years later the woman I would marry. On her birthday I first met my wife, winding down from a night of loud music.

Normally after a night of deejaying (or in my case a full day and night, as we played at two weddings that day), it takes me an hour or so to wind down from all of the loud music, plus moving equipment back and forth. That morning I didn’t get to sleep until 4am. I spent 3 hours talking to my wife that day, never asking once for a picture, a description of what she looked like- only getting to know her personality, her beliefs, her interests, her life.

We would send emails back and forth for days, and finally in the middle of the week I took a chance and called her at work. We moved up our first date to that weekend. She handled the fact that I had wrinkled clothes and a genetic skin condition. The nervousness went away after the first hug, replaced by the pitter patter of a heart longing to see her again.

The first month we had to juggle dating between our work schedules. Between us we had 5 full time or part time jobs- so seeing each other more than twice a week was a challenge, but we found the time even if it was only for a couple of hours a day. Slowly but surely we moved from day dates or night dates to full day dates. I knew that she loved me because her work schedule went from three jobs to two jobs to one full time job- as the same did for me.

10 years later on her birthday I still love her as much if not more than the day I met her. I’m very satisfied that I stepped out of my normal shell and took a chance to extend my head and heart to her. I found that when I didn’t look for love and when I just let life happen naturally, my wife appeared. We can’t control when people appear in our lives- we have to accept randomness and chance into our lives and take advantage of the good fortunes that come about. You have to be strong yourself and happy within yourself in order to establish a healthy relationship with another.

Be ready to take a chance as early as today. Find something that you’ve been longing or desiring to do but put off due to one circumstance or another- and take the first steps to do what you long to do. If you’ve had a crush on someone, express your interest in that person. If you want to take a new direction upward in your career, seek out people you admire already in that position, take them out to breakfast and probe their brain with questions to learn about what they did and how they moved into the career you want to be in. Create a vision map with your ideal car, your ideal home, your ideal vacation spots, your ideal job, your ideal relationships- so you can look into it every day and know where you want your life to go.

The more risks you take, the more rewards you’ll savor. With 6 billion people in the world, there are bound to be people who will help you along your journey. Take a chance and I think you’ll be surprised by the positive, uplifting outcomes.


Random Thoughts and Observations

August 28, 2009

Now that my schedule is shifting into the fall routine, I’m enjoying the change in less humid weather and looking forward to my children returning to school. My bowling season started this evening with an up and down league session. The first night of league contains so many varied emotions- anticipation, excitement, nervousness, all wrapped up into one. The desire to perform well out of the gate (which I did, a 268 start) and then the worry over not handling the transitions well (ditto that statement, only finishing with a 623 series). As I get my bowling legs underneath me and better understand my new ball I’m sure I’ll have a more consistent outing for my league nights.

My letter to the editor hit the streets in the October 2009 issue of Success magazine. If you haven’t had the chance to check out an issue, please hit your local bookstore or newsstand and get a copy. The issues are power packed with tools, interviews, an audio CD and features on the best in sports figures, entrepreneurs , money management, personal development speakers and authors. The food for thought and mental fuel alone are worth the price of admission- and you can receive a substantial discount per issue with a 12 month or 24 month subscription. The new issue has features on Serena Williams, Craig Newmark of Craigslist, Lionel Richie, Stedman Graham and a long feature on Taking Charge of Your Money, Time, Attitude, Sales, Personal Brand and Relationships with thoughts from Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Deepak Chopra, Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Ramsey, Stephen Covey, Paul Zane Pilzer, Ken Blanchard and many more. The website is http://www.success.com .

My wife and I are making more of a commitment to establishing a date night at least once a month. I think it’s very important to take a step out of being a parent and remember what made you commit as a couple from time to time. I genuinely look forward to these special occasions, even if it’s only for an hour or two during our evenings. Courting, communication, visions between two are constantly evolving and re-shaping- so we need to make sure that we connect not only on a surface level but also look deeper into what we want, what we think and share with each other. Maybe we’ll take part in a new hobby or two as a result, who knows? I’ll keep you posted on my reflections and observations.

The children are away with relatives again before school starts next week. August can be a harsh month in our household- and we’ve learned that if they can blow off steam outside the home, they’ll be all the better for it when they get back into the school routine. We encourage Wii Fit and Resort play as well to burn off excess energy- or taking laps in our pool complex.

As the end of summer approaches and the fall is on the horizon, take time to reflect back on what you’ve been able to do these past three months. If you feel like your life isn’t going in the direction you desire, resolve to seek out help and set a new course of action. Enroll in college courses, find a Toastmasters meeting near you, seek out a mentor in the field of your interest, form a mastermind group with other like-minded people seeking success. It’s one thing to say you want to change- it’s quite another to actually document your plan of action and then execute and implement day by day.

I hope you are having a wonderful day as you are reading this- and live life to your fullest potential!


Certainty: Think Things Through

August 27, 2009

Information overload. Everyone seems ready to give us their thoughts when we seek out opinions about ideas or future purchases we may be making. In the end I believe it’s very important to be able to weigh all sides of an issue, seek out counsel yet keep in mind that we have to remain certain in our beliefs and convictions.

Even as an adult I’ve become swept up in an impulsive want and paid a certain price for not thinking things through. I believe when you buy a car for instance- especially if you don’t much about the make and model of said car- it’s best to leave the deal on the table, seek out trusted opinions and do your own research to see if this will be a good fit. When today’s vehicle loans lock you into 4-6 year terms, you want to make sure you are getting high quality and high value based on what you can afford.

Relationships are another area where it’s ok to make sure your needs are being met and not settle for anything less than what you know you deserve. Where in the rules of life does it state you have to be in a relationship every waking moment of your life? If you feel like you are being neglected, unappreciated and not feeling the same level of commitment that you have, leave. Find someone new. Spend more time discovering yourself, your friends, your family.

10 years ago this coming Saturday I met the love of my life- my future wife. The previous 10 years before her, I had maybe 5 other relationships, and at best they lasted no longer than 4-5 dates a piece. We both took the time to get to know each other, not having a full date that lasted more than 6 hours until the second month of our relationship. I’d limit the amount of time we spent on the phone- and we took the time to get to know more about each other question-wise through e-mail.

I love the fact that we can talk about anything at any time of day or night. We will converse about the evening news, events in our work lives, how things are going with our families and children, dreams, goals, aspirations, fears, and so forth. Or I can quietly read a book and enjoy her sighs as she’s chatting with someone on the computer. I enjoy the child-like enthusiasm she has for the computer games that she’ll play- or the way she’ll tear around a grocery store as her head is spinning at a million miles an hour.

We were both certain we were soul mates and meant to spend the rest of our lives together. We felt certainty with each of our adoptive daughters when they came into our lives. Although the game plan may have been two boys while we were going through adoption classes, meeting both of these girls developed a feeling through the core of my body that I can be more nurturing, more comforting and help these girls live healthy, fulfilling lives with us as parents.

When I make a commitment, I stick with it through thick and thin. I’ve been reading Cash In A Flash from Robert Allen and Mark Victor Hansen this week, and I love the concept of Wow Now. It’s a process where you go into the future and create a vision that wows you- making a virtual world of your dreams by using your five senses. I have so many ideas bursting through now and they start with what I want for my next car, the multiple sources of income I will have, the vacations I take on through to where I see myself living and what I want to be doing to help others in this world.

In contrast I want people to remember that if one person decides to criticize what you are doing, realize that it’s only one person’s opinion. Consider carefully the source. I had professors in college who thought I’d never amount to anything in the writing world. I didn’t let the limitations of my music instrument skills deter my ability to contribute with my skills as an interviewer and music critic. If there’s a passion or interest that comes easy to you- find a way to unleash that ability through teaching, writing a book, starting a blog, offering to coach- leaving a legacy in some way.

I’m certain everyone is special in this world, and as we contribute we leave our mark for the better.


Self Full- Or Selfish?

August 26, 2009

Reflect back on your growing up years. I’m sure you remember the battle for control and power with your parents. The times when you had to have that special toy or desire for one on one time with your favorite relative in your preferred hobby or activity. At what point did you relax and realize that you could have more fun when you trusted adults, accepted boundaries and structure and didn’t let the little things in life get to you, learning that life didn’t necessarily revolve solely around you?

I propose that until we are fully happy with ourselves, we will struggle with our place in the world- and probably angle for our own selfish needs at the expense of others.

Without going into super detail, let’s just say that we had an extensive discussion with our daughters over the weekend of expectations when they would be shopping early in the week with grandparents. They know what we approve and disapprove of. Usually if there is a questionable purchase, one or both will call us and discover if it’s worthwhile or the item will be confiscated upon entering the home.

My first clue that something was up should have been the pleasant moods on both children a half hour before weekly therapy. The good mood continued even afterward, until they spoke with my wife in person about their purchases. First guilt, then shame, then anger all came to a head. They let their impulses overpower our rules. They proudly showed their purchases- never expecting a stern response.

I explained to my wife that at least the children are consistent when given free reign with shopping with new people for the first time. No matter what we’ve said, they ignore the rules and go for their long-desired instinctive purchases (be it tight jeans, fake nails, or makeup). She wonders why they do it in the first place- I explain that we wouldn’t have it any other way. We always attract in our lives what we most desire. If both of our daughters are told not to purchase something- it doesn’t matter the logical reasons behind it, their emotions hear the no as a yes- a sign of sticking it to us and asserting their individual freedom.

In the grand scheme of things as pre-teens and teens, they could be squandering their money on worse purchases. We only wonder if they will grow into a mindset of thoughtful purchases versus impulsively acting out when given extra luxury money in their lives.

I gave both of my daughters extra hugs today. I let them know that I still love them and in the end, they didn’t make the best decisions with their purchases today. I want them to realize though that the next time, the rules may be written down in black and white- so it’s better to play within the confines of what you can do rather than always trying to make your own way through the maze of life. I hope for happiness, confidence and the ability to gain self-reliance.

I guess I had an internal voice checking in with me, worrying if my parents would like or dislike my thought process when it came to my purchasing power. I wonder when that voice will carry on through my children. Probably when their heads and hearts are full- when they weigh the consequences with the outcomes- and when they have a better understanding of themselves.


There Are No Bad Kids

August 25, 2009

3 and 1/2 years into parenthood with my youngest daughter, and she still believes she’s a bad kid. Years of attachment therapy, individual therapy, family therapy and a loving, supportive, patient family- and she doesn’t find herself worthy and believes she will always be a bad person because of her previous life circumstances of which she had no control over. This makes me sad.

What makes me sadder is she feels that any attention at this point is probably better than if she risked being good, In her eyes, good people don’t get the kind of attention trouble makers get. The media certainly lives up to that principle. Think about your evening news highlights- what are the first 4-6 news stories about? Are we hearing about the uplifting people in life, or the murderers? If the criminals get all the attention for their 15 minutes of fame, why should a 12 year old attempt to do the right thing, gain empathy and trust and plant her roots down with our family?

She’s not a bad person. When you are born there is no good or bad placed upon you- these characteristics develop based on learned behavior. However due to all of the abuse and neglect she experienced, she really believes she retains some of the responsibility for her birth parents behavior- fueled as well by the next 14 foster care placements that she would go through before coming into our home. The lack of control then becomes a power and control game now. Add in pre-teen hormonal changes and you can tell that my wife and I have more than a few behavioral challenges on our plate.

How do we handle it all? How do we not take the hatred and vicious words personally? A lot of therapy, a lot of training ourselves and the support of extended family and friends has made our life much easier. We could not do this alone. I do believe my youngest daughter wants to make those breakthroughs- she’s still struggling with one side of her brain that enjoys living with us and another side of her brain that believes she can go back to live with her birth family.

She needs to figure out a lot of material and start to take a distant look at things. The whole world is not conspiring against her. If she desires close relationships and friendships, she needs to invest time and effort into them. We’ve often heard where there’s a will, there’s a way. She needs to own that will, own her current behavior and realize that if she wants permanent happiness, it all starts with her own self-worth and value. We aren’t going anywhere- we will be there even if she needs deeper therapy, more time, more love, more support.

I want her to stop looking at the immediate needs and start looking at the deeper payoff for her future. We’ve started to see the seeds of that happen with her sister- and then as recently as this weekend when she felt a friendship would be threatened she quickly attempted to throw that sister under the bus.

Is it wrong of me to want to see a successful transition as my oldest daughter has made? I don’t want a tragedy to happen before she makes that light bulb eureka connection where she has enough of her past and is willing to start a fresh, new life. She knows other “bad” people can become good again- I want her to know that she is a good kid with a good heart, and to show this all the time in private with our family as well as the public persona she displays to others.

You can be upset with your children and their behavior and still love them. Remind them at all times that it’s always best to live in truth. They may do wrong things and make wrong choices, but you want them to come to you first when they need to learn about the tougher sides of life- and they will if they know that you’ll still love them even when they make mistakes.

There are no bad kids- only bad choices. It only takes an instant to change the mindset and set you on a different path.