34. $1,000 sure goes a long ways these days.

Last week’s blog on the Habit of Extreme Flexibility caught the attention of several readers who called or emailed to share with me how adopting this habit has paid huge dividends in their careers, relationships and life in general.

As I reflected on these stories, the one I kept revisiting in my mind was Kathy’s description of how using the Habit of Extreme Flexibility helped kick her career into high gear.

Kathy works for a company that produces and sells high-tech hardware and software to residential, commercial and industrial properties. These products include electronic access systems, monitoring panels, alarm systems and CCTV cameras.

Several years ago she was given an insider’s tour or of a particular high-rise office high-rise tower and was astounded to discover the poor quality and state of disrepair of the systems in use in the building.

She immediately attempted to establish contact with the head office of the company that owns that, and many other commercial properties in the city, all to no avail.

All her attempts at setting up a meeting with the Vice President who oversees security for their properties were met with a resounding “No.”

In the intervening years she had repeatedly attempted to gain access to this person and had never been able to penetrate the wall around him further than several conversations with his assistant who, time after time, impatiently reminded her that “he has no interest in talking to you.”

Kathy, if nothing else, is one determined lady. She had read about something called the Law of Requisite Variety which, loosely interpreted, states that in any interaction the person who displays the greatest flexibility will ultimately control that situation. In other words, the Habit of Extreme Flexibility.

So Kathy began pouring over books on sales, articles, magazines, anything that might suggest a creative different approach and, after much research, she found one.

Kathy had done her homework. She had visited as many of this company’s properties as she could gain access to and walked around lobbies and parking garages and ridden elevators all as part of her information gathering research. She was confident if she could just have a few minutes to present her case, she could make a compelling argument as to why this VP, who she had nicknamed Mr. Big, should devote further time exploring whether his company should invest in greater safety and protection for their buildings.

Kathy put her plan into action.

Rather than calling yet again to attempt to secure a conversation or a meeting with Mr. Big, she went to his office building and asked to speak with his assistant.

When his assistant materialized Kathyapologized for hounding her all these past years and explained she only did so because her reason for wanting this meeting with Mr. Big was vitally important. 

She then handed the assistant an envelope and spoke the lines she had spent several hours rehearsing. “Please tell him that it is so important that I meet with him that he can keep the contents of this envelope in exchange for a five minute meeting with me today.” 

Inside the envelope were 10 crisp, new $100 bills.

Kathy told me the assistant was flabbergasted. She didn’t know how to respond and quickly disappeared down the hallway into an office. Kathy waited for what seemed a lifetime, but in reality was no more than three or four minutes, when a man emerged from the office, came up to her and introduced himself as the person she had been trying to meet for many years.

He ushered her into his office and the five minute meeting she requested lasted almost an hour. She left with a commitment on his part to meet with her two weeks later and review a building by building proposal for upgrading and enhancing their systems.

She also left with an envelope containing 10 crisp, new $100 bills which he had returned to her with a smile at the end of the meeting.

That meeting took place three years ago and since then his company has become not only her largest client but also a steady stream of referrals to other clients.

Kathy laughingly told me that each time he prefers another client to her it is always with the words “you may as well meet with her now because she will hound you till the end of time until you do.”

Kathy had tried the same method for several years of getting into see that client and had experienced the same result each time. When she attempted a radically different approach she experienced a radically different result.

The Habit of Extreme Flexibility. A simple, yet powerful message. When what we are doing is not producing the result we desire, it is simply a clue – a really loud clue – to try a different approach.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

 – After three years of research, my company recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching oportunity. Here is our Ebrochure for the “Boot Camp for Your Brain” experience.

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

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33. If at first you don’t succeed, try a different way.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”

While the identity of the original author of that quote is up for debate – Henry Ford is one of the many people to whom it has been attributed – the powerful lesson behind those words is a message for all of us, for all time.

Over the course of my career I have met many people who shared with me that their repeated failures in attempting to produce certain results had ultimately led to them giving up. Some of them told me that they had “tried for years and years” before concluding that their search for success was futile.

I believe one of the reasons these folks experienced repeated failure is because they had not adopted the Habit of Extreme Flexibility.

In other words, when they confided in me that they had “tried for years and years” what they were telling me was that they’d reached the conclusion that what they had been trying to achieve was not achievable.

They had not spent much, if any, time considering the possibility the problem lay with their method rather than with the result they were hoping to achieve.

They all shared with me that they had done the same thing over and over in the hopes that the results would change in their favour.

The Habit of Extreme Flexibility is a gift to ourselves that conditions us to examine our behaviors in the context of the results they produce, and then to be adventurous enough to modify our behavior – change the way we do things – and then measure the extent to which the results change.

Thomas Edison was asked why he had not given up after 10,000 failed attempts at inventing the first commercially practical incandescent light. His reply, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” exemplifies the Habit of Extreme Flexibility.

A wise teacher once explained to me that there is no such thing as failure, there are only outcomes.

He went on to teach me that life is little more than a series of equations. Each time we exercise a certain behavior, we produce a certain result.

Therefore, according to my wise mentor, Behaviour X = Result Y.

If we require a different result – if we are not happy with Result Y – we need to produce a different behavior – change Behaviour X. The greater the number of behaviours we are willing to exhibit, the greater the amount of influence we have on the result.

In other words, the more flexible we are in our behavior, the more likely we are to produce the results we want.

Hence, the Habit of Extreme Flexibility.

Simply put: if what you are doing is not producing the result you desire, it is a signal to change what you are doing.

In addition to the wonderful quote above, this story is also brought to mind another wonderful quote attributed to Einstein who reputedly stated that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different.”

I totally get this. I have been writing blogs for years and I fully expect that one day someone may read one of them.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

We recently introduced our newest coaching experience. Here is our Ebrochure for the “Boot Camp for Your Brain” experience.

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – a good friend an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

32. An anniversary worth celebrating.

My friend Andrea called me on Monday to let me know that it was the 12th anniversary of the day that she first understood the empowering force behind the Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.

On that day 12 years ago she had been visiting the home of her neighbor, an elderly lady named Gertrude. Andrea had undertaken to keep an eye out for Gertrude and to stop by from time to time to make sure she was looking after herself.

They had been sitting in Gertrude’s living room, quietly enjoying a cup of coffee when Gertrude chose to share with Andrea her thoughts on the evils of smoking. Andrea, like many smokers, had made several unsuccessful attempts at quitting and each time, after experiencing some early success, had convinced herself that it was okay to “have just one.”

Those of you who can relate to Andrea’s experience know that it is never just one, it is merely the first one, soon to be followed by the second, the third and so on.

She described to Gertrude how difficult the challenge was, how stressful each attempted withdrawal had been and how she was beginning to doubt whether she would ever be able to rid herself of this harmful habit.

Gertrude revealed something surprising about herself. She confessed to Andrea that many, many years ago she too had been a smoker – a three pack a day heavy smoker – and like Andrea she had quit many times, always to go back for “just one.”

One day, after yet another failed attempt, she began to wonder what she could do to minimize the discomfort that accompanies this first few days, or even weeks, after quitting.  She came to the realization that were she to have any hope of achieving this milestone, she would need to teach herself how to become comfortable with both the triggers that ignited her craving as well as with the cravings themselves.

She began telling herself she needed to be grateful for those cravings as each craving served as evidence that she was moving closer and closer to her true desire to become a non-smoker.

She replaced the feelings and anxiety that had previously accompanied the cravings with feelings of comfort and gratitude and created an image in her mind that the day of freedom – from all cravings – was becoming closer and closer.

In Gertrude’s mind that “Freedom Day’ drew constantly closer, and the feelings of comfort and gratitude grew stronger. She woke up one morning and just knew that the great day of freedom had finally arrived and has never felt even a twinge of desire for a cigarette since.

Gertrude went on to explain the only way she would free herself of the chains that bound her to her habit would be by becoming comfortable with the discomfort that the cravings would certainly bring.

And on August 12, 2001, while sitting in Gertrude’s living room, Andrea vowed to adopt the Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.

She has never lit a cigarette since. She told me that the more comfortable she became with being uncomfortable, the further apart and milder the cravings seem to be until, after a few short weeks they disappeared completely, never to return.

For the following nine years, on August 12, she would take Gertrude out to her favorite restaurant to celebrate another cigarette–free year and to discuss the magic that accompanies the Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.

Sadly, Gertrude passed away shortly after their ninth celebratory dinner and Andrea has marked this day for each of the past three years by visiting the cemetery and leaving a “Thank You” card at Gertrude’s gravesite.

A teary Andrea asked me to write the story as a tribute to the woman whose teachings had “extended my life by 20 years.” Every time she faces a challenge she thinks of the words of the kindly lady who taught her about the Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable and her determination to overcome the challenge grows by leaps and bounds.

The Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable – a truly powerful tool for removing barriers to success.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

31. Fear is there to be conquered.

They say the fear of public speaking ranks among the highest of all fears. It affects so many people it even has its own name: glossophobia.

In my 25+ year career as a coach, consultant and trainer I have witnessed firsthand the paralyzing affect this fear has on some people.

Last week we talked about the Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable and the article resonated with a reader named Ted who called to tell me how he applied this habit in order to further his own career.

Some 20 years ago Ted had applied for a position in sales with an international software company.

Unbeknownst to Ted, at the time the chosen method of sales for this company was to invite groups of IT professionals to a local hotel, feed them an expensive meal, ply them with alcohol and then present the benefits of their software by way of a demonstration workshop.

In other words,  public speaking.

Ted told me that when he arrived for his interview his expectation, as would be normal for most of us applying for a job, was that he would meet with one, perhaps two people in an office-like environment where he would be seated across from them and would endeavor to answer all questions to the best of his ability.

To his surprise, when called from the waiting room he was escorted into an auditorium-like room, occupied by some 75+ people. He was led to a podium at the front on which three envelopes had been placed.

Ted was told to pick one of the envelopes, open it, read out loud the sentence written on a slip of paper inside the envelope, and then, with one minute of preparation time, he was to “sell” the assembled audience on the topic stated inside the envelope.

Ted explained to me that as he began to understand what was being requested of him, he could feel his heart beating so rapidly he was waiting for it to burst through his chest and take off across the auditorium like a missile.

He gingerly opened one of the envelopes, glanced at a sheet of paper which contained the words “Capital punishment – a good way of ending a bad life.”

He said the 60 seconds preparation time seemed like a nanosecond and he has little recollection of what he did or said  after a booming voice from the back of the room instructed him to “begin.”

He clearly remembered leaving the interview as quickly as possible and heading for the nearest bar where he gulped down several shots of “medicinal whiskey” in the hopes he would pass out, wake up and realize this had simply been a nightmare.

To his utter surprise, he received a phone call the next day with an offer of employment. He later found out that he was hired because, in the words of his boss, his podium performance had been, “the least worst of all the applicants.”

Ted was faced with a dilemma. He knew that in order to succeed in this position he would have to become a skilled, competent and convincing public speaker. He knew he would need to master the Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.

He joined a Toastmasters club and attended every weekly meeting without exception. But one meeting a week was not enough so he scouted, and found different Toastmasters clubs in his area and attended a different club as a guest every day. He never turned down an opportunity to speak and over time, while the fear never left completely, he became quite accepting and comfortable with the butterflies that gathered his stomach.

For more than a year, except when away on business, Ted attended six Toastmasters meetings each week and made himself available as a guest presenter at the many breakfast clubs scattered throughout his city.

The thought of each new presentation brought along with it all the anxiety of that first interview but over time Ted’s constantly improving skill increased his comfort level and his panic button became less active.

Within three years he had become one of the top five salespeople in the organization.

Ted explained to me that the only way to overcome any fear is to face it head-on and conquer it. Learning to force yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable is not an option if you wish to succeed, according to Ted, and to test his level of comfort within discomfort he has bungee jumped and sky dived, all the while absorbing the panic in the knowledge that it exists only in his head and nowhere else and that focus and perspective can become either a debilitating enemy or a powerful, motivating ally.

The Habit of Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable. We choose to either acquire this or to stand forever forlornly in front of the insurmountable wall that blocks us from reaching our goals.

Which do you think is the better choice?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My company recently introduced a new coaching experience for those daring enough to transform their lives. Here is our Ebrochure for the “Boot Camp for Your Brain” experience. Please contact me if you believe it is your time for explosive growth.

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.

    I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

–   If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, please do so by clicking here. You can also check out, or subscribe to my other blog by clicking here.