Archive | April, 2015

Life Begins at the Edge of your Comfort Zone

The big idea behind building your brand, reaching your potential, and presenting the best version of yourself?

In my last post, I shared how a simple behavioral experiment with children and marshmallows revealed the single most important trait in creating lifetime success. In similar fashion, a marine biologist’s research using a barracuda and bait fish revealed a perfect metaphor for living life to the fullest.

Years ago,while listening to one of his early podcasts, New York Times best selling author Michael Hyatt shared a simple phrase that resonated with me:

“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.”

When I think about the times when I’ve disappointed myself by under-performing, falling flat, or simply settling for less than what I am capable of producing, this quote reminds me that the greatest obstacle to presenting the best version of ourselves has a lot more to do with internals than externals. Let me explain.

The Barracuda Experiment

Image: ©Planet

After placing a barracuda in a large tank, the biologist released bait fish into the same tank. As you would expect, the barracuda attacked and ate the smaller fish. Then the researcher inserted a panel of glass into the tank, creating two separate chambers. He put the barracuda into one and the bait fish into the other. Again, the barracuda immediately attacked. This time, however, he hit the glass and bounced off. Undaunted, the barracuda kept repeating this behavior multiple times. Meanwhile, the bait fish swam unharmed in the second chamber.

After numerous attempts, the barracuda stopped attacking.
The biologist repeated this experiment several times over the next few days. Each time, the barracuda got less aggressive, until eventually he got tired of hitting the glass and simply gave up. Then the researcher removed the glass. The barracuda, now conditioned to believe it was impossible to get to the bait fish, never moved. The bait fish swam freely around the tank unharmed.

The point of the experiment? Too often, we act like the barracuda. The barrier isn’t “out there.” It’s in our heads, in the self-limiting beliefs — the false assumptions — we hang onto.

Throughout history, there have been numerous barriers that, once broken, turned out to be mere mental obstacles. For example, in the first half of the 20th century, many medical experts believed that running a mile in under four minutes was physiologically impossible, asserting that the cardiovascular system was incapable of processing the oxygen necessary to maintain such a fast pace, even in highly trained athletes. Then, rather ironically, in 1954, a medical resident named Roger Bannister ran it in 3:59.4. Within months, other runners throughout the world broke this seemingly impenetrable barrier.

As author Todd Henry says, “If assumptions weren’t challenged, innovation would cease. We wouldn’t have jazz, the personal computer, or the entire field of quantum mechanics.”

What about you?
The reason why many of us get stuck is because we set our goals and aspirations inside our mental barriers, where it’s safe. That’s why it’s called “the comfort zone.”

But if you want to get unstuck and start getting traction again, you have to set your goals on the other side of the barrier. You don’t have to get crazy, but you do have to stretch yourself and push past the invisible barrier in your head.

This is the secret to achieving break-through results!

Question: What unfulfilled dream or goal do you have that is on the other side of the barrier? What would it mean to you — and to the quality of your life — if you could expand your comfort zone and go after that dream or goal? What is one step you could take today to start?

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Difference-Maker: How a Fifty Year Old Experiment Reveals the Most Important Key to Success

If there was one personal quality, one character trait, that turned out to be the greatest predictor of success and fulfillment in work and in life, regardless of intelligence, upbringing, education, etc. would you want to know what it is?

If you are raising or planning on raising children, what if you could nurture one quality in your kids that would nearly guarantee that they would be successful, fully functioning people? Would you want to know what it is?

An Interesting Experiment

Don't Eat The Marshmallow…Yet!

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University, pioneered a fascinating behavioral research project that become known as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. Here’s how it worked: researchers took children 4 – 6 years old, put them in an empty room and offered them a choice between one reward provided immediately (usually a marshmallow) or two rewards if they waited without eating it for approximately 15 minutes. Its considered to be landmark experiment on delayed gratification — and how it can predict future success.

What happened and what did the researchers conclude? Watch this entertaining clip from a recent TED talk delivered by motivational speaker Joachim de Posada — with priceless video of kids trying their hardest not to eat the marshmallow.

This experiment has been repeated hundreds of times since the original work by Professor Mishel — many of the researchers did follow up studies on these children well into adulthood — and the results were strikingly similar.

The challenge: Think of one way to harness these findings to improve your life — and the lives of those around you.

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11 Reasons to Do More Than What is Expected

The most successful people I know share many common qualities of character and life experience, one of which is the impact of mentors in shaping their careers… and their lives.

Tommy Gibbs, a highly respected automotive consultant, trainer, and friend, recently shared one of the most valuable lessons he ever learned from his former business partner. The lesson, simply stated, is Do More.

“He taught me the importance of always doing more than is necessary, more than is fair,” Tommy recalls. “It’s simple: when in doubt as to whether you’ve given enough, give some more.”

Becoming a Mentor image via Keith McMean

Below are Tommy’s 11 traits of leaders who do more. Whoever the people are in your life whom you influence — who look to you for wisdom and guidance — share with them this simple mantra, Do More:

1. They do more than they know is necessary.

2. They do more than they know is fair.

3. They do more because it’s the right thing to do.

4. They do more not expecting anything in return.

5. They do more even when they know it still may not save the day.

6. They do more even when they know it may not save the customer.

7. They do more because they know it’s a teaching moment.

8.They do more because they don’t want to leave this earth owing anything.

9. They do more because they can.

10. They do more because they see the big picture.

11. They do more because if not them, who? Maybe you!

Here’s my challenge: Think of one area of your life where you can do more than what is expected. Maybe it’s a home project this weekend, a customer you’re working with, a community service initiative, or a personal goal you’re pursing. Whatever it is, commit to doing a little more. Let me know how it goes!

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Change Your Breathing — Change your Life

We breathe an average of about 20,000 times per day without even thinking about it. Yet a growing number of health experts contend that most of us do it poorly, depriving ourselves of energy, mental focus, and emotional resilience.

How can that be?

via PixShark

If you’re like most people, your breathing consists of short, shallow breaths that keep you functioning throughout the day but don’t cause your diaphragm to fully contract and fill your lungs completely. So while you may feel like you’re getting plenty of oxygen, you’re really not, and that keeps you from performing at your best.

How can that be? Your lungs are designed to deliver precisely the amount of air to maintain your bodily functions and keep your internal organs operating. In our sedentary society, most of us adapt our breathing to meet this bare minimum requirement. But what this means is that there is little oxygen left over for more complex functions like mental focus, emotional control, even creative thinking.

The good news: You can change it in an instant. Here’s how:

First, check the status of your breathing by placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your sternum (the long, flat bone located in the center of your chest). As you breathe, the hand on your stomach should move significantly more than the hand on your sternum, signaling that your lungs are filling.
Second, learn a simple technique called Box Breathing, which, if your breaths have been shallow, will flood your lungs with oxygen and produce immediate positive effects, like tension release, increased energy, and emotional control. In a moment, you can change your physiology, making you feel more alert and energetic.

Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as changing the way you breathe can improve your performance? For a quick Box Breathing tutorial, check out this video by former Navy Seal Mark Devine.

And here’s a challenge: Practice this simple technique 5 to 10 times a day for the next seven days, then send me your feedback — I’d love to hear about the changes you experience!

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