14 Aug 2011
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward
I was reminded of this brilliant principle last week when I spoke to one of my business coaching clients. There can be no doubt that we are living in interesting times…. the global financial crisis has impacted overall spending and consumer sentiment – and this has hurt many small businesses around the country. It’s no good hoping that circumstances will change – in order to survive we all need to dig deep and find creative ways to work smarter not harder.
Jim Collins, in his book, “Good to Great,” talks about this very interesting paradox that he calls “The Stockdale Principle”. According to Collins, “you have to be realistic about your current situation and yet, stay optimistic about the future”.
General Stockdale was the highest ranking American prisoner of war in Hanoi, Vietnam. Over the years he began to notice an interesting phenomenon – optimism could in fact be a liability. His fellow prisoners (who were the eternal optimists) constantly set themselves up for disappointment. They set huge milestones – “we will be rescued by Christmas” – but those milestones came and went year after year and with it… their will to live.
Conversely, the prisoners who looked at the painful day-to-day reality they were in and channeled their energies to the right places survived. This is not to say that the second group were pessimists but rather realists that maintained an unwavering faith in the end game, and a commitment to survive despite the brutal fact of their incarceration and torture over a period of years.
Here’s how Stockdale put it in his own words:
“I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
How many of us would look back on seven years of detention – with regular torture, dismal living conditions and an uncertain future – as an experience we would not trade? Do you regard the greatest obstacles or challenges in your life as the defining moment that shaped who you are today or do you choose to look at them as an excuse or reason why you have not achieved more?
Have you ever sat back and thought how this distinction between optimism versus reality could apply to your business/career or your life in general? Where in your life are you ignoring reality in favour of being optimistic and missing a crucial opportunity to take action?
Take for example my business coaching client that I mentioned above. She has an employee who doesn’t take responsibility for her actions, doesn’t pay attention to details and is often defensive and reluctant to take direction and feedback. This employee is negatively impacting the entire work environment as everyone gets caught up in the drama of it all. My client doesn’t want to let the employee go and is resisting doing what she knows that she must. She hopes that it will somehow improve without any action on her part – she is now learning the distinction between reality and optimism. When she sees the difference for what it is, then and only then, will she become decisive and take action.
Another area where it’s easy to be blinded by optimism is in the financial arena. Do you have detailed financial reports, KPIs and cashflow forecasts in place to drive your decision making or are you simply relying on your optimism instead of reality? Failure to effectively plan in this area (especially in these tough times) could lead to a cash crunch and the demise of your business.
Take a moment today to examine your relationship to optimism, pessimism and realism. Success belongs to those who operate from both sides of the Stockdale Paradox. The key is balance – knowing when to accept reality and take appropriate action AND never losing faith in the end of the story. If you can walk this delicate line of balance and responsibility, you increase your odds of making good decisions and this will lead to your inevitable success and breakthrough results.
In life, we will all experience setbacks, disappointments, loss and challenges. What separates successful people from the rest is how you deal with those inevitable struggles. This is a very important distinction and it is what divides the winners from the losers. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which is something that you can never afford to lose sight of – with the discipline to confront the brutal facts and reality of your current situation, whatever that might be.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2884021
Many different factors have the potential to cause stress in a person’s life. If you take a look around you will see that some people have learned to manage and control their levels of stress much better than others. Even though there is no 1 specific key or “secret” to managing stress, the answer lies in learning to balance of a combination of little things and your physiology.
High levels of stress can lead to various medical conditions, negatively impact your daily routine and impair your ability learn and recall. The hormones which the brain releases in stressful situations are meant for fight or flight situations only – over use of these can actually be detrimental to the health of your brain and body.
Work (whether you own your own business or not) is filled with challenges, obstacles and opportunities that have the potential to cause stress. Knowing how this impacts you physically is the first step leading you to new insights and understandings on how to manage and control your reactions in an empowering way.
Your body language is a powerful indication of your ability to handle stress and problems. When your body encounters a stressful situation, hormones are automatically released into your adrenal glands to counterbalance the cortisol in your brain. Equilibrium is established when these stimulating and tranquilizing forces become equal. When one is greater than the other, you will experience a sense of imbalance, commonly referred to as stress.
In fact, your body goes to great lengths to prevent you from experiencing imbalance or stress. Your sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system essentially battle each other to bring your body back to equilibrium. This fight or flight response to stress also necessitates the shutting down of many of the other key systems in the body – which makes it much more difficult to reason, react and communicate while in this agitated state.
It is next to impossible to eliminate stress completely from your life. Some stress is actually good for us. However, learning how to quickly and reliably relieve stress and become focused will enable you to tackle challenges with a clear head, communicate clearly and navigate tense situations. In fact, the best way to reduce stress quickly and reliably is through managing the sensory input received by the body: through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Each person responds differently to various levels and types of sensory input – the trick is to find out what works best for you.
We all have different preferences, tolerances and needs. For example, certain kinds of music or distinctive smells may relax one person but irritate another. Take the time to discover what works best for you at home, in your car, at the office, or wherever you may encounter stress. Simple deep breathing and relaxation techniques also work wonders and they are free, easy to implement and produce quick results.
Harnessing the power of sensory stress-busting techniques will provide you with a powerful technique for staying calm, collected and in control. You’ll have the assurance to face adversity and challenge in every aspect of your life, knowing that you have the ability to bring your body back into a state of equilibrium and ease.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2646119
Life isn’t always easy – there can be no question about that. It’s unpredictable and it’s often hard to make sense of what happens. Some of the events in our journey end up being nothing more than minor irritants, while others are more like being hit by a Mack truck at 200 kph.
Regardless – we have to play the hand we are dealt.
Part of the process of coming to terms with whatever occurs in your life is to find a way to make sense of it. If science indicates that objective reality doesn’t actually exist, it is very much up to us to create a reality that helps us move on and find some meaning. As W Mitchell so accurately points out, ‘It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it that matters’.
I like to think of it as choosing to ‘make chicken soup out of chicken shit’. And it is often in these times of desperation or perspiration that we accomplish our greatest achievements. We play the hand that we have been dealt and in so doing we stretch beyond the finite boundaries of probability and skill into the realm of possibility and inspiration.
For Christopher Reeve a random riding accident changed his life. Everything he was in terms of his career and how people perceived him vanished the instant he hit the ground. And yet he was able to muster his resources and master his own mind so as to find a reason to carry on. I’m sure becoming paralysed was not part of his life plan. I’m sure there must have been times that he was angry and bitter, but these feelings obviously didn’t consume him.
The simple truth is that Christopher Reeves found himself in a wheelchair at just 43 years old. Nothing could be done to change that. There was no way to wind back the clock and no way to repair the damage. His condition was permanent. But his state of mind and any negative emotions he felt were temporary and 100% within his control. He had two options: (1) let the event consume his life and extinguish his spirit or (2) accept his condition and make the best use of his time and influence to advance science in the hope that someday others with spinal cord injuries might walk again. In many ways, he became more of a superhero after his accident than he had previously been in his film roles because he created a vision and a purpose that was bigger than the event that changed his life.
He accepted the cards he was dealt in the game of life and he played with the courage, determination and strength of character of a superhero. Perhaps Christopher himself said it best, ‘I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. They are the real heroes, and so are the families and friends who have stood by them.’
Perhaps today, January 5th, 2011…….yes TODAY – is the perfect time for us to all stand back and celebrate the superhero within ourselves and others. If we choose to play the hand we have been dealt to the best of our ability…I think we will all look back [someday] and agree that the “game” was worthwhile.
We live in a world with a million possible distractions, pressures, emergencies and interruptions, how can we stay possibly stay focused (on our goals) and sane?
There are always going to be several things constantly competing for my your time – marketing campaigns to design, team members to manage, customers to respond to, business opportunities to explore, issues to follow up, personal commitments etc. However, whenever you try to work on too many things at the same time, inevitably none of them ever gets done.
To assist my clients in staying on track and keeping things simple, I developed the following list of 5 simple techniques/questions to put things into perspective. When in doubt – check the list for guidance.
Science has already proven that the brain does not know the difference between what is vividly imagined and reality. If we experience only a fraction of what is possible in terms of the stimuli that we notice or pay attention to, and our experiences are directly influenced by what we value, believe and expect, then it follows that by changing what is happening in our mind we can actually change our entire reality.
If you act as though you are courageous, then you will be courageous. If you act as though you are confident and take on the persona of someone who is confident, then you become confident immediately. Because our mind has such a profound influence on our external experience, adopting and making beneficial emotional states a regular habit is the first step to truly mastering your life.