Patience as a Habit

Historically, I’ve had trouble dealing with delay. I don’t like it. It’s especially challenging when I have to wait to get what I want. It’s as though my ego doesn’t allow me to see anyone else’s perspective, and I want what I want now. I don’t want to wait. I’m inherently impatient.

That’s an unattractive quality, and I’ve been working for years to change. I’d rather possess quiet, steady perseverance and emit calm assertive energy. I’m happy with my progress, but there’s always room for improvement. In fact, I’m tested daily. Most of the time nowadays, I pass the test, but occasionally fail. Those are learning moments and opportunities to develop the high patient tolerance level I crave.

To develop patience, I decided to treat it as a habit I wanted to form. After all, a habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary and that’s what I wanted, for it to become second nature.

So here’s what I do now for every difficult decision. I give it as much time as needed until I know what the right thing to do is. The mnemonic, CNA, helps me to remember the behavioral process:

  • Confess that my natural state is selfish and impatient, driven by my ego and not what I want. I need to be forgiven, and my mind and heart need to be opened to see other perspectives.
  • Get my attitude in Neutral about the decision by clearing and calming my mind and committing it to God’s will, not mine. This is analogous to putting a car in neutral gear. Not drive, nor reverse, but neutral. Have an attitude of not caring which direction the car goes as long as it’s the direction God wants it to go. This can only happen in neutral gear.
  • Ask God to reveal his will by giving my spirit a desire to do the right thing. For this to happen, I need to give it time. I need to wait. I need to be patient.

Confess. Neutral. Ask. CNA.

It’s how to develop patience as a habit.

The Habit of Doing the Right Thing

We are controlled by our habits. Some are bad and some are good. They form when our brain forms an automatic pattern response to a trigger. Our brain learns to remember the pattern because there is a reward at the end of the routine. The habit is a closed-loop cycle: trigger, routine, reward; repeat.

This awareness is the cornerstone of habit change. The only way to truly live is to throw away bad habits and replace them with good ones.

Now, if you’re like me and have a tough time sifting through the ginormous amount of self-help stuff on habits, then I’m going to tell you a secret: you only need to master one good habit.  That is, the habit of doing the right thing.  Once this is a routine, you will know what it means to find life.

To do the right thing over and over until it becomes automatic takes grit. You’ll need to be a mudder. You’ll also need to know the difference between right and wrong. There are absolute rights and wrongs, but there’s also a lot of gray areas. For those, you need a framework from which to operate. This is where many people struggle. Their ego, anger, bitterness, need for revenge, etc. are hurdles that get in the way. Their hurts, hangups and bad habits cloud their judgement.

Trust me when I tell you I’ve been there. I can empathize. However, by staying focused on mastering the only good habit that matters, i.e. the habit of doing the right thing, I got there, and now I am truly living life.

If you too crave this, but need help, it’s ok to admit it. My right hand is stretched out for you. Take it. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. I will help you.

Click here to fill out the confidential “do the right thing” form, let me know what “right vs. wrong” issue you’re struggling with and how I can help.

Grit

I just learned that my grit score is 4.75 out of 5, which makes me grittier than at least 90% of the US population.

I’d like to thank Bill Hybels and The Global Leadership Summit Podcast for telling me about the Grit Assessment, a research study and voluntary online survey published by The University of Pennsylvania.  If you’d like to know how much grit you have, click here.

Grit

Grit is one of the key intangibles of leadership. The dictionary defines it as an indomitable spirit, one that cannot be subdued or overcome.

In his podcast, Pastor Hybels has this to say about grit …

  • Grit is unrelenting, long-term tenacity.
  • Grit is the willingness to utilize every last drop of human effort to move something ahead and then to keep on expending that full output of energy until you cross the finish line.

… and this to say about gritty people …

  • Gritty people play hurt.
  • Gritty people don’t whimper or waiver or quit … ever!
  • Gritty people expect progress to be difficult, yet believe to the core of their being that they can overcome whatever obstacle stands in their way.

The first 15 minutes of the podcast are worth a listen this holiday season.  Click here to listen.

The Little Engine That Could had grit. He willed his way to get over the crest of the mountain by thinking and believing he could do it. He would not be stopped.

As he was ascending the mountain, he chanted, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And as he descended, he affirmed, “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”

Grit can be developed both personally and organizationally. If you’re unhappy with your level of grittiness, you can acquire that character quality by merely thinking you can do it.

We become what we think about.

Merry Christmas.

Pressure vs. Stress

People often confuse pressure with stress. They are different.

Pressure is a compelling force or influence. It is good for you. It will push you toward a course of action. It enables the right thing to be done. Pressure is a positive multiplier, the catalyst for maximizing your brain power. Pressure will always direct you to “figure it out”.Pressure v. Stress

Stress is a specific response by your body to a stimulus, such as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with your normal physiological equilibrium. It is bad for you. It disrupts the right thing from being done. It causes anxiety, which is a negative form of distraction. Stress makes you stupid.

I hypothesize when your will is aligned with the will of your creator, it is impossible to feel stress. I’ve arrived at this through 48 years of trial and error.

When I’ve asked my creator to reveal his will by giving my spirit a desire to do the right thing, and I give it time, then my will is aligned with the right motive, thereby producing a good result.

When I am not as discerning, humble and patient, when my spirit is selfishly aligned with the wrong motive, when satisfying my ego is the primary objective, then inevitably I do the wrong thing.

Therefore, I’ve concluded I feel stress when my spirit’s desires are misaligned with his will. Moreover, I feel pressure when my spirit is aligned with his will.

Pressure is good and produces confident, calm, steady action. Stress is bad and disrupts my mind-heart equilibrium and the harmony I seek in my relationships with others and quality of life.

Mindwork

Top-of-mind is a term referring to something that occupies a privileged position in memory. It’s the first thing recalled. In marketing, it’s what brands attempt to achieve in consumer minds.

Top-of-heart is a term referring to a bond of loyalty based on emotional factors in preference to rational or intellectual factors. I have this type of bond with brands such as Amazon, Apple, BMW, and First National Bank.

Which concept do you think is more meaningful? Can something be top-of-mind without being top-of-heart? Can something be top-of-heart without first becoming top-of-mind?

When I hear the word “soda”, I think of Coke.  However, I don’t drink Coke. When I hear the term “car insurance”, I think Geico, but I don’t insure my cars with Geico. Top-of-mind is important, but it does not always result in action.

When I need to buy something, Amazon is the first place I go. I can not imagine using anything other than an iPhone and driving anything other than a BMW. I love seeing First National Bank‘s logo, feel very patriotic as one of their customers and am so proud to be an employee. Without hesitation, I spread my love for these brands. Top-of-heart is a stronger, more sentimental appeal.

I would submit a combination of the two is particularly transformative when applied to who we are as human beings. Let’s call the concept top-of-mind-heart.

Top-of-mind-heart contends we become what we believe, and we can alter what we believe by creating habits around what we feed our mind. And it works both ways. If we feed our minds junk food, we will become unhealthy and unattractive and won’t like ourselves. If we feed our minds healthy, nutritious food, we will become more likable, attractive, happy and successful.

So it all starts with what we feed our mind. Make a conscious daily effort to trim out the stuff that has “empty calories”, and “eat” better. Let’s call this our daily mindwork. Do mindwork, day in, day out, and it will eventually become a good habit that will spawn more good habits. You’ll slowly notice the loss of appetite for the mental junk food. You won’t crave it anymore. You’ll only have an appetite for nutritious mind food.

For your first mindwork assignment, do this. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle to make two columns. Label the column on the left “Mental Junk Food” and the one on the right “Nutritious Mind Food”. Write down all the stuff that you know or believe has a negative influence on you. Then write down the corresponding better alternative.

Mindwork

Here’s an example of something I did. I trimmed out cable TV from my daily routine. Yes, I cut the cable and everything that came with it. No more:

  • live sports,
  • network news,
  • commercials,
  • reality shows, and
  • prime time sitcoms.

It was amazing how much time I found to do other things like:

  • spend quality time with my family,
  • spend more quiet time with myself,
  • research, select and read good books,
  • volunteer in my community, and
  • selectively watch what I wanted to watch on Netflix and Amazon, and
  • choose what news I wanted to get from sources that “pushed” it to me.

These are my new, good habits, and I can’t even remember what it was like before. I’ve lost the appetite for all that old stuff. I don’t crave it anymore.

Make sense?

Do daily mindwork. Good things will become top-of-mind-heart. You’ll become what you think about for the better.

Take 2 “Gratefuls” and Call Me in the Morning

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One of my good habits is my morning ritual. When I wake up each new day, I make a cup of coffee, sit comfortably in my home office, calm my mind, ask myself a series of questions and journal my answers.

The first question is:  What and whom am I grateful for today?

I write down whatever comes to mind. Person, place, thing, feeling, emotion, e.g. my family, Grand Caymen, my circumstances, my job, my colleagues, crisp morning air, sun, warmth, quiet time, the sound of running water in my indoor pond, my purpose.

This question helps me to put my day in perspective, no matter what lies ahead. It keeps me grounded. It enables me to see the good in anything, even in the bad things that happen.

The last question is:  To whom can I reach out and serve or thank today?

This question provides a call to action. It forces me to critically think and consciously seek to serve and thank at least one person every day. It’s therapeutic effect on my spirit has been remarkable.

I’m grateful these simple questions were prescribed for me. They’ve changed me and my life for the better.

Don’t wait any longer to develop a morning ritual that incorporates these two questions at a minimum. Start today.

If you would like to know the complete list of questions in my morning ritual, then please e-mail me at marc@mindwolves.com. I would be grateful for the opportunity to share.

 

What Do You Stand For?

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What do you stand for? Where do you draw the line? What principles will you adamantly defend?

If you want to live life with clarity of purpose, then you must answer these questions. They define the framework from which you operate. Like a compass, they provide direction.

Here’s what I stand for:

  • I believe in chivalry and will always behave chivalrously towards women. I do this with my wife, daughter, mom, sister, nieces, co-workers and strangers.
  • I believe marriage is a covenant, i.e. agreement, between husband, wife and God. It is to be honored and not broken.
  • My word is my bond. If I say it, then I’ll do it.
  • I don’t need things to be in writing to be held accountable. Handshakes work for me.
  • I will always be faithful in any relationship.
  • I will always help the weak.
  • I believe in giving without any expectation of getting in return.
  • I will not wait for someone else to take the first step.
  • I believe the best defense is a good offense. Being proactive is much better than being reactive.
  • I will always forgive. There is no quota.
  • I will always seek forgiveness. I will admit when I’m wrong. I will confess my sins. Confession is like Drano. It will clear the clogs in any relationship.
  • Before making difficult decisions, I will allow sufficient time to ensure my spirit has the desire to do the right thing. I will pray for a “neutral” attitude so that God’s will can be revealed.
  • I will not covet what someone else has.
  • I will not seek revenge. I will let God settle the score.
  • I want to exhibit the character qualities of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control, and I will strive to develop them in my spirit.

This is what I stand for. These principles give me direction. They provide the foundation of my life’s passion and purpose.

Expect It

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Imagine watching a football game with friends and family where you’re the only one that knows the final score. You’re team wins.

Throughout the ebbs and flows of the game, while everyone else is riding the emotional highs and lows, you’re steady. You can confidently watch the game knowing the outcome everyone wants. You expect it because you know it.

Now imagine watching the same football game without knowing the final score. Are you able to watch it with the same confidence and assurance? Can you expect a win? In the game of life, there’s a way to exhibit this.

The key is wanting to know your purpose. If you do, then you can learn to expect it. If you do not, then you’ll be like a rudderless boat aimlessly afloat. There is a transformative process available to everybody, but it’s not for everybody. It requires choice, commitment and fortitude. You’ll need to be a mudder.

It took me forty-three years to start my transformative process. Until then, I had experienced only two major losses in life that triggered grief, the loss of my maternal grandmother and my dog. As pain associated with losing a loved one goes, one might say that’s pretty good. In early 2013, little did I know what was in store for me. I was about to be hurt in the magnitude I would not have thought was humanly possible.

I was naive. My life experiences to that point did not prepare me for what I was about to experience. I was blindsided. I was unprepared. “What is the worst thing I could do to you?,” I was asked. Then I answered the question. In hindsight, I wish I would have given a different answer. However, had I answered differently I would not have been “refined in the fire”, which has been a blessing, albeit a painful blessing.

Five years later, I have become fordriven™. I now understand my life’s purpose and expect it to be fulfilled. I have achieved mind-heart equilibrium.

My life is in harmony with my creator. I’ve aligned my desires with his will. By doing that, I will succeed at doing all the things he asks me to do.

I expect it.

A Differentially Tempered You

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A differentially tempered sword. The center is tempered to a springy hardness while the edges are tempered slightly harder than a hammer.

In his 1940 book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis states:

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken’. Yet if the cause is accepted and faced, the conflict will strengthen and purify the character and in time the pain will usually pass. Sometimes, however, it persists and the effect is devastating; if the cause is not faced or not recognized, it produces the dreary state of the chronic neurotic. But some by heroism overcome even chronic mental pain. They often produce brilliant work and strengthen, harden, and sharpen their characters till they become like tempered steel.

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The various colors of tempered steel indicate the temperature to which the steel was heated.

Lewis goes on to conclude that pain provides an opportunity for heroism and that the opportunity is seized with surprising frequency.

What’s the determining factor in the opportunity for heroism? One must accept and face the cause of the mental pain.

What are the consequences of not accepting and facing the cause of the pain? Fear, anxiety, depression, an obsessive–compulsive disorder or a personality disorder.

The problem with life is that people hurt people. We all will experience pain. Nobody is exempt. Therefore, we need to be prepared to deal with it. And mental pain is harder to bear than physical pain so it requires more energy and fortitude.

To become the best version of yourself, you need to choose to accept and face the cause of your mental pain. Nothing external to you controls you. Don’t avoid it. Take it head on by using The Fordriven™ Process. You don’t need to face it alone.

Choose to refine your character and become like differentially tempered steel. Let your heart be tempered to a springy hardness as it needs to have some give. Let your mind be tempered slightly harder, like the edges of a sword, as it needs to take the brunt of life’s blows.

Doing so will free you to produce heroic work.

Be a Mudder

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A mudder is an athlete that performs well in muddy conditions. When I played football as a running back, I was a mudder. When conditions were perfect, I was not the best player on the field. I was above average. However, when conditions were muddy, I was exceptional. In fact, the muddier it was, the better I was. My coach new it too, and I got more carries.

I now realize that particular element of my character is part of my design. It’s in my DNA. I was not taught how to be a mudder. It was intuitive, yet my skills were refined by playing.

I also realize using the gift of being a mudder is my life’s purpose. I can teach others how to be one. I can coach it because I successfully live it. It can be mastered.

My purpose is to be a player coach equipping others to overcome their hurts, hangups and habits to do the right thing and find life by having a tender heart and tough hide.

Player coach means I’ve walked in your shoes. Hurts, hangups and habits are life’s messy and muddy conditions. Learning to do the right thing and finding life is my definition of success. It’s possible for everyone with the help of The Fordriven™ Process. Even you.

Life is messy. Life is muddy. Be a mudder.

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