Today I attended a seminar and one of the speakers was Pat Mesiti, who is sometimes known as Mr Motivation. Pat’s enthusiasm and his (sometimes off the wall) sense of humour had us all listening intently to what he had to say.
I filtered out the money, money part of his talk, together with the mentions that a man should be the main provider (that’s always going to get my back up!), and focused on the essence of this message. My favourite phrases from his talk were:
1. You control your life
This seems like such an obvious statement yet its amazing how many times that we forget that we are in control of our own lives. No matter how many excuses you might come up with, why you are staying in a relationship that is bad for you or why you are continuing to plod along in an uninspiring job, it’s still a question of choice. Even when you feel like you have nothing else, you always have choices.
2. You cannot change what you tolerate
This resonated with me as identifying and eliminating toleration is a large part of building a solid personal foundation in a coaching context. Tolerations are those things that you are putting up with. They can be small (the pile of ironing that always sits in the corner) or large (an unhappy relationship or unfulfilling career). You may not realise just how much tolerations can sap your energy away until you start to identify and eliminate them. Do you wonder sometimes why you are so grumpy by the time you get to work? Take a look at what you are putting up with in your morning routine (bad nights sleep because of snoring partner, shower going from boiling hot to freezing cold, no milk for coffee, burnt toast in old toaster, unironed clothes…) and you may be able to start to remove some of the tolerations that are draining your energy.
3. Understand the value of your time
When I worked as a lawyer I was required to account for every 6 minutes of my time. That’s right, every single 6 minute block that I was at work had to be recorded. This can give you quite a warped view of time (I stopped wearing a watch as I found myself constantly checking it when I was out with friends) but it does give you a very good discipline of knowing how you are spending your time and how productive you are being. Time is so easily spent yet is our most precious resource as we can never get it back.
It’s not only the amount of money you receive for each hour of work; the value of your time goes much wider than that. Ask yourself, “What do you value most, and how much time are you spending on it?” It might be time with your kids; hours spent writing a novel or some down time for yourself. It you want more time for those activities then took a look at where can you grab back time. Can you pay someone to mow the lawn so you can watch your son play soccer (or football for those in the Northern Hemisphere) or do the ironing once a fortnight so you can write a few pages of that novel?
I think that too much of our lives if filled with activities that are unimportant but that we feel must be done! Do those dishes really need to be done tonight or is a walk along the beach with your partner more important?
4. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want
Other quotes on this theme were “Where your focus is today, your future is tomorrow” and “There is no going forward if you are looking back”.
Focus is essential to be successful; whatever your idea of success may be. When I’m focusing on the negative aspects of a job or relationship I am blinded to the positives. If you are constantly whining about your partner what space is there in your mind to see the wonderful influences that they have on your life? Instead of gossiping around the water cooler about your job or co-workers try to come up with as many positives as you can. If the list is very short, it might be time for a change!
5. Lack of focus equals failure of some type
Think back on the failures that you’ve had in life and consider if your focus was lacking. Have you every had a relationship, of any kind, fail because you stopped focusing on making that relationship the best it can be? I know that I’ve taken people for granted and assumed that they would be there for me even when I was no longer there for them.
6. Don’t complain about what you permit
This is a concept that I’d not heard of before so it was great to learn something new. This idea really comes down to taking personal responsibility for what is going on in your life. If you are being a doormat (Ladies – we do this all too often!) in a relationship and allowing someone to treat you in a way that is less than what you deserve then you can hardly complain when it continues can you? I’m not saying that you need to take extreme measures; simply that you take a look at what you are permitting in your life and take steps to change it rather than allowing it to continue. My classic complaint is the way that my family communicates with each other; yet I am part of that problem as I allow it to continue. In order to change a situation it’s not a case of changing others (next to impossible) rather you need to take a look at yourself. I’m working on improving my communication skills (with many failures along the way) and no longer falling into the trap of only being the little sister.
7. Make a commitment
It can be a scary thing to fully commit to someone or something. What if something goes wrong? I’m starting to believe that it’s a far worse thing to only make half hearted commitments throughout your life; you will never know what you are truly capable of if you don’t commit 100% to something, to anything! Why do we do it? I think its because we want an excuse, “well I tried but it didn’t’ work out.” I found myself doing this on the netball court and it took an observer to point out that I wasn’t fully committing myself to defending the ball. My first reaction was to get a bit defensive, “I’ve been playing for years, and I know what I’m doing!” I’ve found that when I meet resistance in myself like this that the other person usually has a point! The observer was right. I had only been going so far in one direction to get the ball, just in case I was going in the wrong direction. The result was that I wasn’t playing the best game that I could. By fully committing myself I got more balls in the direction I was going. Sure I missed a few balls going in the other direction but I enjoyed the game a lot more and the other team thought twice about throwing the ball when I was around.
Instead of holding back try giving it 100%. If you fail, so what? In the grand scheme of life it probably won’t matter but the lessons you learn may be invaluable.
8. What are you waiting for?
Ahh yes, that question! I’ve had to bluntly ask myself that question on many occasions. Partly my delays were good old fashioned procrastination but mainly there was fear of some description causing my delay. I stayed in corporate law for a couple of years longer than I should have because I had no idea what I wanted to do next. That indecision became my excuse, “If I knew what I wanted to do then I’d get started tomorrow, but I don’t so I won’t”. Instead of exploring any other options I stayed stuck in a career that I was no longer enjoying. In the end I had to make massive action, moving from London back to New Zealand, to shake myself out of the situation that I had created. If I had addressed my fear earlier I think I would have been much happier and had a much smoother transition into a new career.
This phase from the career transition bible, “What colour is your parachute?” by Richard N Bolles, always sticks in my mind:
“If not now, then when?”
If any of these thoughts made you think about your life situation, or you want to share your own thoughts, then I would love to hear from you.