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How is project "Self Development" going?

I love projects. I love the fact that a project has a clear beginning and an end, with a feeling of achievement once it is completed.

For much of my life, I saw various aspects of self development as a project. Once I had achieved these projects, I told myself, I could put a check mark against them. Done! And then move onto other projects.

Here are some examples of my self development projects:

1) Become more patient
2) Become more positive
3) Be less angry
4) Forgive more
5) Be less resentful

It did not, however, work out as I had envisioned. NOT. AT. ALL.

What I noticed what that there were days when I was really positive and patient and then other days, not so much! But this is not how a project is supposed to work is it? Once you have completed a project, it is not supposed to be undone, is it??

It took quite a bit of awakening to realise that working on oneself is not a project. I begun to recognize that all aspects of self development are actually practices.

On days when I...

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Process versus outcome

parenting productivity Nov 27, 2016

Last week we spent some time talking about what is in our circle of control. Let us revisit that concept in some more depth.

When we are working towards something, whether it is a work related project or parenting to raise successful children, it is easy to keep our focus on the end goal. We see the success of others in what we are trying to accomplish and lose sight of the steps that they took to get there.

But here's the thing: the final outcome of our efforts is almost never in our control. We can try our best and our children may still make choices that we do not agree with. We can work hard at a project at work and still have it not be accepted by our boss.

This is why it is much more useful to focus on the process rather than the outcome.

The process, or steps that it takes to achieve any outcome is well within our circle of control.

This changed focus also makes it more likely that we will enjoy the journey to our destination or goal whatever the outcome will be.

Over the...

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Look for what is right

The human mind is wired to scan the environment for what is wrong. We tend to take what is going well for granted and focus on what is not going well. That is what our mind naturally focuses on.

Imagine that you walk into the kitchen and your children have been baking. They did their best to clean up but left 3 dirty dishes on the counter. What does your mind focus on? The 6 pots and pans that are in the dishwasher or the 3 that are on the counter?

But here's the thing: we get more of what we focus on. When we focus on mistakes and things that are wrong, guess what we will get more of? That's right. Mistakes and things that are wrong.

Imagine though, if you walk in the kitchen and take a moment to acknowledge that the children did, in fact, put away some of the dishes.

This kind of focus DOES NOT come naturally to most of us. But we can all learn this by intentional practice.

And it really does encourage people to try harder to do more of what we acknowledge.

Are you ready to start...

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The art of complaining

Have you ever been told to stop complaining? Well, I don't think that we should stop complaining.

I believe that complaining is often a very good way to improve things. Effective complaining gives important feedback to people, it can result in better service from companies and employees and it can encourage people to change ineffective behaviour.

We do, however, need to complain in an effective way that is likely to bring about the change that we seek.

Here are the three essentials to an effective complaint:

1) Complain to the right person. Is the person you are complaining to in a position to make changes to what you are complaining about? If so, go ahead. They are the right person to complain to. This is the ONLY person that the complaint should be made to. Everything else is just whining and venting and tiresome to listen to!

2) Complain at the right time. We often make complaints and requests (demands!) for a change of behavior in the middle of a conflict situation. This not...

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Can you?

Do you ever question yourself about what is possible for you to do?

Leadership and personal growth guru John Maxwell writes in his book, "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth", that how you ask yourself the question about your abilities greatly determines whether or not you will achieve something.

This is how he says it:

"At first glance, the questions Can I? and How can I? may appear to be very similar. However, the reality is that they are worlds apart in terms of results. Can I? is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a question that imposes limitations. If that is the question you regularly ask yourself, you're undermining your efforts before you even begin. How many people could have accomplished much in life but failed to try because they doubted and answered no to the question 'Can I?'

When you ask yourself, 'How can I?' you give yourself a fighting chance to achieve something. The most common reason people don't overcome the odds is that they don't challenge them...

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What responding looks like in real life

The time it takes to respond rather than react is not long.

Pausing to choose a value based response can be as little as ten seconds. The time and energy it saves you in not having to 'clean up' afterwards is immeasurable.

Let's take a quick example:

What reaction looks like: It is one of those mornings. Your 8-year-old took long to get dressed for school and is now rushing through breakfast. He spills the whole jug of milk on the table as he tries to pour it into the cereal bowl. You get angry, yelling at him, reminding him about how he is NEVER ready on time, how you will ONE DAY leave him at home so he will miss school etc etc. Sound familiar?

So now, you have spilt milk AND an upset child. You are feeling awful about yelling and are wondering on how you will make good on your threat of leaving him at home.

What responding looks like: It is one of those mornings. Your 8-year-old took long to get dressed for school and is now rushing through breakfast. He spills the whole jug of...

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Getting in touch with your values

Did you practice pausing over the weekend? How did it go?

One of the ways that we can make the pause effective is to remind ourselves of our deepest values often.

Recently I have become aware of my temptation to become critical in conversations with certain people. This is not serving me at all. It makes me feel bad about myself as it goes against my values of supporting family and choosing kindness in all circumstances.

So whenever I am in a situation that has a pattern of triggering me, I do two things:

1) Before the interaction, I remind myself of my values related to this person or situation. Values that are much bigger and more important than the petty things that are causing me to be critical.
2) I repeat the words "be kind, be kind, choose kindness" softly to myself throughout the interaction.

I am realizing that it is SO much easier to stop myself rather than deal with the consequences of my inappropriate reactions later!

Here are the steps to doing this process for...

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Your human tool box

Once your pause button is activated, it is time to delve into your human tool box and see which of the following tools you can use to respond rather than react:

Willpower: this is the ability to stop yourself. Sometimes we tell ourselves we 'cannot' stop ourselves. Not true. We all have willpower and can strengthen it with practice.

Conscience: we have an inbuilt GPS system that guides us regarding our deepest values. It does this by making us feel good when we act in accordance with our values and nags us when we go against them.

Imagination: we have the ability to imagine ourselves doing something other than what we habitually do. Imagination is a powerful ally in helping us move in the direction that we want.
Imagination also allows us to predict the future outcome of our present actions.

So how sharp are your tools?

Which will you use today to help you respond rather than react?

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Your internal pause button

A powerful way to practice pausing is to intentionally activate your internal pause button.

As human beings we have the ability to stop ourselves before reacting by 'pressing our pause button'.

People use various ways to activate their pause button:

- By imagining reaching for a remote control and pressing pause
- By imagining that there is a pause button on some part of your body and pressing it with your hand to remind yourself to pause rather than react
- By imagining that you are slowing or freezing time

When learning to pause, it is an excellent idea to be intentional about creating and activating your own personal pause button. The more concrete it is in your mind, the easier it is to activate when you need it.

So go ahead.

Where is your pause button? Practice using it in conversation and in your daily interactions. Even when you think you don't need to.

The more you practice when you are not really triggered, the easier it will be to use when you do need it.

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Learning to pause

If we can pause for just a moment and respond with intention rather than through automatic reaction, our lives would be quite different, don't you think?

Learning to pause takes some practice – the more habituated we become to reacting, the easier and more automatic the reaction is and the greater the need to interrupt this pattern.

The first step in learning to pause is to recognize the trigger/s that cause us to react.

Recognizing the trigger means to tune into bodily sensations that signal stress or upset. These signals are always present moments before we react. They are present in the form of 'knots in the stomach', clenched fists, tight muscles, a headache, fluttering in the heart or stomach, perspiration or some other sensation.

It takes practice to connect these bodily signals to what is happening outside of us and recognize them as a warning sign that we are about to (over) react.

Here is an example:

The phone rings, and it is your mother/mother in law. There is a...

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