Why Rupert Told Reginald He Should Be Grateful His Life Was Crap

Is your life tough? asks coach Tony Inman

“Life? Don’t talk to me about life!”

“My wife just left me, the house burnt down, my dog’s run off and I just got fired!” said Reginald, a miserable looking mouse of a man, his hair unkempt and his clothes crumpled, dejectedly nursing his beer in the darkest corner of the pub. His life sounded like a Country and Western song.

“Never mind mate. You’ve got to look at the positives and feel grateful for what you still have. A lot of people would love to be in your situation! You’ve just got to be more up tempo.” said his friend, Rupert, a man who had been unable to hold down a regular job, and who actually hated his own life, yet who also happened to be a recently qualified ‘success coach’.

Rupert had read ‘The Secret’ and was eagerly awaiting the definitely imminent arrival of his lotto winnings cheque in the mail. He was also a master of ‘positivity’ and spin. He had even had his social media image photo-shopped to make himself appear like a Hollywood star.

You’ve probably heard coaches like Rupert talking about the power of gratitude before, yet if you’re going through a difficult time when you hear that, it’s easy to understand why you might feel somewhat cynical about the well-intentioned advice. You might even tell Rupert to stick his advice where the sun doesn’t shine!

Now to go back to the example – it’s entirely possible that Reginald (a) had drifted apart from his nagging wife and despised her anyway; (b) never really liked his dimly-lit but fully-insured house; (c) never wanted the dog that had originally belonged to his wife and her former lover; and (d) hated that job and his bullying boss and had only just been offered better employment for higher pay, this very week!

bourbon-on-cereal

Are you feeling somewhat challenged by life’s disappointments?

It’s also possible that none of these positive slants existed and that Reginald has every reason to feel like putting bourbon on his corn flakes every day, just to numb the pain.

We never really know what someone else is going through. We can imagine what it might feel like. We can even sympathise with how we think it would feel if we were them, yet we’re not them. We don’t see the world exactly the same way as them and they may not have the same coping mechanisms as us, nor may they have the same strength of character that we believe we possess.

At the risk of sounding a tad ‘Rupert-esque’, it’s fair to say however, that there is always someone, somewhere, whose situation is a damn sight worse than yours. Nevertheless, if your leg is injured and it’s giving you a lot of pain, you can be told that another man’s leg was amputated or that yet another’s was badly burned and you can understand the difference between their plight and your own. You can even accept on a logical level that you should probably feel ‘lucky’. Yet despite this knowledge, it doesn’t stop the fact that your leg still hurts.

Now this is the point in my article where I ask you to indulge me for a moment. You can call me a ‘Rupertian disciple’ if you like, but just for a moment, consider this…

My delightful coach, who is absolutely beautiful both on the inside and the outside, is also a very smart lady. (Yes, even coaches have coaches! We know the value of it more than most.) A while ago, she told me to start a new habit that would have a very positive impact on my life. My coach advised me to get an empty jar and label it my jar of ‘gratitude and happiness’. She instructed me to develop the new habit of writing down each day on little slips of paper at least one, and preferably three, of the things in my life for which I could feel grateful or about which I could feel happy.

My Gratitude Jar

My Gratitude Jar

Knowing that my coach is a smart cookie, and with me being, at least most of the time, an ‘action-taker’, I did it. Now I can openly admit that I wasn’t disciplined enough to remember to do it every day, but whenever I did miss a day, I didn’t beat myself up about it. I just wrote something extra the next day. For example, I wrote things like, “I’m incredibly grateful for having a wonderful girlfriend” or “I’m so blessed to have such amazing children”. It could even be random things like, “It made me happy to give that shop assistant a compliment and to see by her smile that it had made her day.” I even wrote good things down on my crappiest of days. I even smiled at the irony of it sometimes, because yes, it’s true – even a ‘change catalyst’ like me has bad days too!

At the end of the year, I opened the jar and read all my little messages. All I could say was “Wow!” The impact was huge. Not only that, but my girlfriend said she would make it her goal to give me good reason to write even more sweet little messages about her, during the next year, which she actually did.

So, if you think you’re just feeling a bit down or that life’s not so special, give this a try – I promise you it works. If your life is really as bad as Reginald’s in my little story above, then maybe you do need to talk things through with an experienced coach, or a counsellor or a psychologist even. Sometimes life does hand us really tough challenges, it’s true, and sometimes you do need some external help to get you through it. If that’s the case, then let me encourage you to seek help without delay from the appropriate professional. (I fit the first of those descriptions, so feel free to contact me if you’re feeling stuck, or over-whelmed, or you just know that you could really benefit from having a professional sounding-board.)

I’ll finish though with this thought. Actually, it’s more than a thought, it’s commonly accepted as a proven fact by those who have successfully conquered many challenges in their lives… (and I can vouch for it myself).

“When you focus on the things in your life for which you can feel grateful and happy, you will automatically empower yourself to be better, to do more and to have better outcomes.”

~ Tony Inman, ‘The Change Catalyst’

If you don’t believe me, just try it for one month. I now write mine in a journal and that’s another topic for another day, but do whichever works for you. Do please let me know how you go and do remember to have an awesome month, filled with gratitude and happiness.

Overwhelm – Why it Happens and How to Deal with it

Do you find it all goes wrong at once?

Do you find it all goes wrong at once?

“Why me?” you shout loudly inside your own head. “Why am I in this mess and why is everything happening all at once?”

They are good questions, but do you stop your brain from whirring around in circles like a hamster wheel long enough to answer them?

Some people have a great relationship with themselves, while others don’t. Now that might sound really bizarre, but let me elaborate.

Firstly, you may be relieved to know that it’s quite normal to feel overwhelmed, especially with the pace of our modern world and the often unreasonable expectations that we allow society to place on us sometimes.

I find many of my coaching clients start off by engaging my services because they are simply swamped with everything that’s going on in their world. A lot of this is because they are unwittingly lumping all of their problems together as if it was one massive, all-consuming and life-threatening blob. I understand– I’ve been there myself.

Stress head

 

Part of why people struggle to deal with this tsunami of anxiety is that they haven’t learned how to ask themselves better questions. Another factor is that most people simply don’t think, and by that I mean that they don’t step back away from their crazy life and review it as if they had temporarily stepped outside of themselves. That’s one advantage I have straight away as their coach – I’m not them, so I can perceive it differently.

 

So let’s go back to the question of your relationship with yourself. Here are a few key questions:

  • Have you ever taken the time to reflect on who you are?
  • Have you thought about your own strengths and weaknesses?
  • Have you asked yourself ‘What are my core values?’
  • What do you like about yourself?
  • What do you dislike about yourself?

There are many more I could ask you, but that’s enough for now to make the point. The better you know yourself, the more resilient you become. That immediately means that you increase your ability to cope with stress and adversity, including a sense of overwhelm. It’s like putting on a life-jacket and sailing over the top of that tsunami I mentioned.

So part of dealing with overwhelm is realising that you CAN. Recognising your own capacity for having competently handled previous situations builds your confidence for dealing with this latest blob of yukky stuff.

Secondly, I’ll go back to an old tried and trusted question – “How do you eat an elephant?” Don’t worry I’m not actually proposing that you do! The answer though if you were to undertake that task, would be “A mouthful at a time”.

In other words, the reason you are often overwhelmed is that you are looking at ‘everything’ as one monstrous problem, when you’d be better served by breaking it down into bite-sized morsels. If you’re a visual person or a kinaesthetic learner (more attuned to feelings than images), write down your problem on a big piece of paper, then separate it out into smaller problems, even tearing off the separate pieces and moving them around on a table. If you’re a person who learns through audio, speak these problems out loud and ask yourself (and answer) the full range of five ‘W’’s and one ‘H’ question:

Who? What? Why? When? Where? And How?

Now here’s the secret gem that you deserve for having read my post today. Ask yourself this:

“What would be a better question?”

The key here is to separate the ‘problem’ into smaller ‘problems’, then examine them in turn to see what can be done about them.

Here’s another nugget – If they still seem like problems, ask yourself:

‘What lesson or lessons is the Universe trying to teach me here?’ and ‘How could this be seen as an opportunity?’

Going through those processes doesn’t always make the problems disappear, but it certainly helps you to look at them differently and perhaps to seek alternative resources. In the best examples, you can turn them around completely and wonder why you ever felt overwhelmed in the first place.

One family I started working with a while ago were in complete turmoil. They were trying to build their business but it seemed to be going wrong. They felt as if they didn’t really know how to run their business. They had staff who were not really the right people for the job. They were in the middle of renovating their home, whilst living in it, so they had builders and tradies coming and going. They had two very young children – you know how demanding that alone can be. They were battling and feeling chaotically swamped.

Do you see the glass as half-full or completely full?When I started asking them about their aspirations for the business, I continued to ask how that business would fit in the overall context of their lives. I asked them what was on their ‘bucket list?’ They answered with, “We don’t like to think about those things because we know we’ll probably never make them happen!”

Long story short, we separated the issues. We figured out a long-term and exit strategy, re-branded their business, recruited a new team, identified and worked on their skill-sets and rebuilt their self-confidence. Today they are way ahead of that dark day. They now have a swimming pool and play areas in their back yard for their children. They are taking holidays with their family and their business is in far better shape.

It starts with asking yourself better questions, like changing “Why can’t we have that lifestyle?” to “How could we make that happen?”

If you need any help with it, feel free to contact me via this website for a chat or call  0419 860 382. 

 

 

 

The ‘Ahaa’ moments that make you wonder why you don’t listen to yourself!

The 'Ahaa' Moments

The ‘Ahaa’ Moments

Have you ever had the experience of having one of those ‘Ahaaaa’ moments while you ponder how to solve your problems, only to realise that you already knew that answer?

The funny thing is that you perhaps knew it on a sub-conscious level, yet somehow your conscious mind seemed to suppress it or cloud it in a veil of mysterious brain fog. Why does that happen?

Sometimes it can be a case of what Steve Jobs referred to as ‘connecting the dots’. In other words, all the information that was required to reach the conclusion was already there, yet somehow there was a missing link from one snippet to the next – you just needed to make that connection.

What came up today at a workshop I attended was that you might know the answer but you apparently suppress it, because in order to enjoy the gain of achieving that goal or dealing with that problem, you also have to be willing to give up something else.

In some instances you would be giving up something that you didn’t want anyway, so that is a much more palatable option. For example you buy the new car and are glad to get rid of the old rust-bucket.

Inner conflict

Inner conflict

In other instances though you would have to be willing to give up something positive, something that you might miss. For example, in order to buy that dream home that might be modern and stylish, you would also have to give up the old fashioned but comfortable residence that has been your beloved retreat for many years. This can then create an inner conflict and while you’re having an inner conflict, guess what happens?

Usually, not much happens. It’s not that surprising when we remember the way our mind (and the Universe) works. When we set a goal and focus on our desired outcome, we bring to bear the power of our reticular activating system (RAS). This amazing inner resource sets in motion a mental magnetism (the Law of Attraction) that attracts to you all the resources you need to achieve your goal. The resources can be skills, knowledge, equipment, tools or people – whatever you need to ‘make it happen’.

If you want an example of a RAS effect, consider the process of buying a car. You set the goal to buy a new one; you start to fine tune which make and model are appealing. Suddenly that car is everywhere on the roads and in every car yard you drive past. Then out of the blue, there is the very car you want at the price you are willing to pay. Sometimes it is found for you by a friend or a salesman you have come across. In other words, the resources to lead you to the goal have appeared. Those cars were always there – you just weren’t looking for them before.

Goal-setting - a piece of cake?

Goal-setting – a piece of cake?

The setting of a goal not only activates the RAS though, it also usually sends you a little test from the Universe. On Saturday you set a goal to diet and lose weight. No sooner have you set the goal, than on Sunday your next door neighbour knocks on your door and says, “Someone just gave me this double chocolate cream cake and we won’t eat it. Would you like it?” It happens to be your favourite, so you say, “Okay, thanks. We’ll just use that up first and start the diet on Tuesday”. On Tuesday, you visit your mother and she says, “I’ve made you your favourite – a big chocolate pudding.”

 

Whenever you set a goal, the Universe likes to test you out to see if you were actually serious about following through with it!

So what else would stop you from having your ‘Ahaaa’ moment?

You might just suppress the answers because you realise that to make the changes you say you want in your life would require that you step outside your comfort zones. Motivational author and speaker Jim Rohn used to say that “The things that are easy to do are also easy not to!”

The comfort zone blockage might not just be a case of ‘easy to’ versus ‘easy not-to’. It can also be the case that to step outside your comfort zone will lead to another conflict or with having to deal with something painful. For example, emigrating to a new country to take up a new opportunity might mean leaving a partner or a family member behind.

Thus what often happens is that we freeze. We become stuck, confused, frustrated or even angry.

There is however, hope. Working with a sounding board, such as a good coach, can allow you to step back from the problem or break down an apparent problem into what might potentially be many smaller elements, requiring smaller, simpler decisions.

Find the time and space to THINK

Find the time and space to THINK

The biggest thing you can do to help yourself is to allocate the time and space for you to be able to think. Most people simply ‘don’t think’. They become stuck on a treadwheel and keep on repeating the pattern that isn’t working, instead of doing something to change it. Alternatively, worse still, is that they do nothing. They justify their indecision and inaction by blaming circumstances or other people, or they just put it off and they will make a decision ‘later’.

So I urge you to consider this…

If you want to design and live the best life you can, don’t hold on to those problems or they will become like pebbles in your shoes. Create some ‘me’ time – that’s time invested in yourself; time that will enable you to reflect on what you really want versus where you are presently stuck. Seek out the resources you need. Figure out what the price will be, both the physical price and the emotional price. If there’s a conflict, get advice and consider your options, but whatever you do, act in accordance with your values.

If you don’t know what your values are yet, then you really do need to create more personal time for ‘YOU’ because ‘YOU’ are your own greatest asset. That’s another story, but until then, ‘Be happy and work on developing and listening to your own intuition.’

Do You Suffer from ‘If-only-itis?’

Do you ever ask yourself 'If only I'd..."At any dinner table, at any barbecue in Australia, or in any bar conversation, have you ever heard these words come out of your mouth? – “If only I’d…”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, pretty much most of us have uttered these words in frustration at some point. We’ve all had that business idea we were going to start, that bargain property we should have bought, that person we ought to have spoken to; the list of ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’s’ is endless.

Equally, we may have the other list: the idea we shouldn’t have followed through with, the car we should never have bought, the moron we wish we had never dated. Our list of perceived ‘failures’ may equal or even exceed our list of perceived ‘successes’.

I use the word ‘perceived’ because it’s my belief that we are in a world of constant change, both external and internal. That which you perceive as a disaster today may just turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you! You may be fired from a great job today – ‘a disaster’, only to be offered a better one tomorrow. Suddenly the firing was no longer a ‘disaster’ but a life-changing opportunity. It’s all in how we choose to look at it and how new information and ideas can change our perception.

This may make sense to you intellectually, but then you might say to me, “Well, what about my Father passing away or my wife leaving me?” When you are emotionally distraught, it’s pretty hard to swallow the concept that this may yet turn out to be a good thing in terms of your personal growth as a human being. I understand completely and I’m not in any way belittling or demeaning the grief or pain that someone may be going through. I’ve been through enough myself to ‘get’ that.

What I am saying though is that we always have choices.

I didn’t choose for my wife to leave me, though in the end it was a relief for both of us. I didn’t choose for my father to die, though in the end I felt it was a relief that his suffering from illness was ended. I was devastated for a while and that’s normal. There is a time and a place for processing your stages of shock, denial, hurt, anger and eventual acceptance. That’s all part of being human. The key point there is that some things are beyond our control, like our mortality and that of our loved ones. That’s when and why we have to dig deep inside ourselves and remind us of who we are and of the incredible potential that each one of us has.

Each one of us is a miracle – just by the very fact of our existence. I’m not addressing religion here, just the nature of life itself. We all have an opportunity to choose, perhaps not everything that happens ‘TO’ us, but definitely ‘HOW WE RESPOND’ to what happens to us. Funerals, though they are about grief and loss, have evolved to remind us of the joy we can give each other – they have transformed into a celebration of the life of a human being and the way in which they touched the lives around them. That is a source of great comfort that helps ease the pain of loss.

We alone can choose how to respond

We alone can choose how to respond

We can either allow ourselves to be crushed by external events or we can choose to respond internally and bounce back, set a new course, learn from our experiences and create change.

There are enough examples all around us of people who have seemingly lost everything that they cared about, yet they bounced back. Why?

Perhaps it’s because they accepted that what happened, happened and instead of being stuck with the affliction or disease of ‘If-only-itis’, they chose their own response. They chose change. They chose life.

Nelson Mandela chose to forgive his captors after ‘losing’ 26 years of his life in prison with his crusade to transform a nation. Gandhi chose to fight occupation and perceived injustice with passive protest to transform a nation. Muhammad Ali gave up a world championship title, won in a ‘controlled’ violent sport, to oppose conscription to fight a bloody war against people with whom he had no personal conflict. With that decision he gave up everything he had fought for to stand for something greater – for his core values of peace and harmony in the world.

You CAN create your own ripple of change

You CAN create your own ripple of change

Your battles may be less dramatic or may seem way less significant to the universe. You may justify maintaining your status quo by saying that those people were exceptional. Yet, they were just people. Had they stayed ‘stuck’ and muttered ‘If only…’ we would probably not have noticed them. You may not believe it now, but you may be Just like them and your personal choices just might have a ripple effect beyond anything you have yet imagined.

If you know someone who is suffering from that dreaded curse of wallowing in ‘If-only-itis’, maybe you can help. Perhaps you can give them a call, possibly invite them somewhere that might encourage them, or simply be kind in whatever way you can.

If you are stuck, whether in your business or in your life, feel free to contact me for a chat, using the website form or by calling (08) 9328 2203.

There are always strategies you can develop and choices you can make. The world is changing constantly, with you or without you. Every setback, every challenge, every disaster, is at the same moment an opportunity to change, to cope and grow stronger, to evolve as a human being, perhaps to change other lives. You might not see that right now if you are stuck, looking at ‘If only…’

Change the thinking, change the words you say to yourself and ask yourself different questions. “Why, how and in what way could this ‘if only’ lead to something useful? How could this event turn out to help me grow and move forwards?” Remember that a choice to do nothing is still a choice.

Mother Nature does not allow a vacuum to occur. When one ‘thing’ is taken away, ‘something else’ will take its place. What the ‘something else’ is however, is up to you. You can repeat an old pattern that was familiar and comfortable, but kept you stuck, or you can shed that skin and grow a new and better version of ‘YOU’.

Which Are the Right Questions to Ask Yourself?

Ever driven the wrong way?!

Ever driven the wrong way?!

Have you ever found yourself driving somewhere and suddenly realised you’re in completely the wrong place? You’re in traffic; you’re day-dreaming about what to have for dinner, whether to buy a new car and where to go on holiday this year; and you suddenly find that you’ve taken a wrong turn and automatically followed a route that you habitually take – e.g. you were meant to go the shop but instead you’re on the road home!
When it happens to me, I either get cross with myself or laugh at my own idiocy, or if I regain control of my mushy brain and re-focus, I realise that I have merely taken my eye off the ball, become distracted and gone onto auto-pilot. The great news is that you can usually make a U-turn, get back on track, fulfill your objectives and complete your mission. This also applies to life in general.
The great thing to embrace about life was described so aptly by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, when he said that ‘Change is the only constant’. In every second of our existence, we are changing. Our body is changing, growing and maturing before commencing a steady decline. So too our mind grows with our experiences and hopefully we learn from life’s lessons and become wise, just in time before our brain begins its downward spiral. I apologise if that reality sounds a little sad.

“Change is the only constant”
Heraclitus

 

Change is the only constant

Change is constant – embrace change

Wisdom is not guaranteed however – it has to be acquired. Some people repeat life’s more destructive patterns in the same way that procession caterpillars will follow each other unquestioningly into the abyss. That tendency to surrender to the ease and comfort of merely following the crowd is what leads us to those clichéd statistics where we talk of the 95% who are regrettably only average, as opposed to the 5%, who will be exceptional. Even the 5% is split between the 4% who are ‘comfortable’ and the top 1%, who are the ‘crème de la crème’ of humanity.
Those statistics whilst clichéd are alarmingly applicable to most things in life. They are not exact of course, they are generalisations. Yet we know from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and various insurance companies that approximately 4% of Australians will retire financially independent, 1% will be rich and the rest will be less financially comfortable. In general terms and approximate percentages, the top 5% will be the most educated; the top 5% will have the best medical facilities, will live in the flashiest houses, will drive the best cars and so on – you get my drift I’m sure.
Does that make you a failure if you’re not among the cream of the crop? Absolutely not. The old adage is a true one – that neither money nor possessions will make you any happier, though they can without doubt make a miserable person more comfortable!

So on the other side of the coin, does that make it wrong to be wealthy or successful? Of course not! Both success and failure are merely perceptions of reality and my reality is different to your reality. The answer lies in the questions you ask of yourself.

The Answers Lie in Asking the Right Questions!

The Answers Lie in Asking the Right Questions!

If you want to be happier, ask “What would make me happier?” If you’re not doing what it takes or you don’t have what you want, ask yourself “What can I legally and ethically do to turn this around and get back on track?” I put my disclaimer in there because some peoples’ answer might be to rob a bank, or these days, an old age pensioner.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I put it to you that maybe you’re not asking yourself the right questions. If your answer to what will make me happy is, let’s say “One million dollars”, then the questions are, “What could I do to earn one million dollars?”, “By when?” and more importantly, “What skills or talents would I need to develop in order to become the kind of person who is capable of earning that million by that date?”

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net)
There are many other questions that might follow, like “Where would I need to be?” or “Whose help might I need for me to achieve this?” The mining boom of Western Australia bears evidence of those questions – if you want the big money, go and work up North in the heat. The bigger questions though are the intriguing ones, like, “Why would having a million dollars make me happy?” and “What would having a million do for me or for those whom I care about?”
Like my driving example at the beginning, we often find ourselves off track. We’ve switched off our brains and we’re running on auto-pilot. It’s not hard to find yourself living a repeat pattern, like in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’, where Bill Murray’s character finds himself reliving the same day over and over.
My life has been filled with reinvention. I’ve done many different jobs, I’ve set up and run many of my own businesses, I’ve travelled to fantastic destinations, I’ve lived in different countries and I feel as if I have lived an interesting life. Yet when compared with other people I’ve met, my achievements pale into insignificance. So never put yourself down by comparing – leverage yourself up by becoming inspired by their example. If they can do it, you probably can too. Sometimes not even physical limitations will stop you if your mindset is strong enough. History is filled with people doing the ‘impossible’.

Mentoring can help you fulfill your dreams

Mentoring can help you fulfill your dreams

In conclusion then, the questions are not, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “Why am I so far off track?” but rather, “What do I want to change and why?” Once you figure those out, the ‘how’ is a far easier problem to solve, especially if you leverage your possibilities by engaging the help of those who may have already done whatever it is that you want to do or at least know what it will take and can advise you objectively and supportively. That is why mentoring and coaching are so useful and effective.

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net)

If you’d like to read more on this topic, please check out my latest book, entitled ‘If Life’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Well – Finding Sane Fulfillment in an Insane World’.

If you’d like any help with getting back on track or even selecting a whole new path for your life or business journey, please don’t hesitate to call me or contact me via this website.

Tony Inman, Business & Lifestyle Coach, Consultant & Mentor and Author

Tony Inman

Best of luck and until next time,

‘Seize the day!’
Tony Inman

Good or Evil? Which One will Win?

Two_wolves_fighting

The two wolves are constantly fighting

There is an old Cherokee tale of a grandfather teaching life principles to his grandson.

The wise old Cherokee said, “Son, on the inside of every person the battle is raging between two wolves. One wolf is evil. It’s angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud, and lazy. The other wolf is good. It is filled with love, kindness, humility, and encouragement. These two wolves are constantly fighting.”

The little boy thought about it and said, “Grandfather, which wolf is going to win?”

The grandfather smiled and said, “Which ever one you feed.”

*****

Which wolf are you feeding in your mind?

Remember that even when you can’t always choose what happens to you in your life, only you can choose how you will react.

 

I just love the wisdom of esoteric tribal teachings. You should listen to what Grandpa’s have to say…

I know, because I’m now a Grandpa!

Have a great week 😛