Friday, December 4, 2009

Tweeking attitudes

It’s easy to end up in a rut and comfortable, even if you’re someone that regularly strives towards self-improvement. Routine and time in a job can inure and insulate in such a way that you become less effective. That’s where self-awareness comes in. Successful people recognize that tendency and take steps to guard against it.

Several weeks ago, I was asked to speak to a group of professionals about reinvention. I have given several presentations on the need for reinvention, so I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t the “slam dunk” I expected, however. Actually, I walked away from my talk realizing that it has been awhile since I have taken a hard look at where I’m at and where I’m headed. I’ve certainly taken some positive steps forward on the physical front in my own life, but the frantic pace of the past three months has left my psychic batteries in need of recharging.

A trip to the library several weeks ago to visit the self-help section put me in touch with writers like Stephen Covey, Po Bronson, and a few others. I also discovered Dr. Gordon Livingston and his wonderful book, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now.

While Covey got me refocused on the importance of moving beyond merely striving for excellence to seeing the necessity of fulfillment in life’s journey. Covey talks about “finding your voice and inspiring others to do so.”

In that same vein, Livingston, a psychiatrist, uses short essays to highlight how each one of us, regardless of circumstances, limitations, and setbacks, has the potential to move beyond these things. Things like relationships matter. We have the power to revise our personal narrative.

When Livingston writes, “we are what we do,” he puts happiness in the context of being under our control.

How do you create happiness? According to Livingston, the three components necessary for it are “something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”

When he touches on, “we are afraid of the wrong things,” he nails American culture in seven words. Our fixation on fright keeps far too many people imprisoned. So much that is valued in our culture is in fact, fatally flawed. Often, fear of failure prevents many people from even trying. Fear is a lousy motivator.

My time away from work over the Thanksgiving break was put to good use.

Being back in the saddle with a renewed focus feels good and has me anticipating a rousing finish for 2009, and limitless possibilities in 2010.

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