43. Sometimes you just know that you know.

On Monday morning I received a call from a man I have not had any contact with for several years.

Last Saturday I belatedly posted my weekly blog on habits as I had forgotten to do so the previous Wednesday, and somehow my blog was forwarded to this man by a mutual friend.

He called to invite me to join him for lunch and told me he had an interesting story to share.

Naturally the first half hour or so of our time together in the restaurant was spent reminiscing about the good old days and catching up on what each other had been doing since we had last been in touch.

He then told me the real reason why he had invited me for lunch. He had come to work that morning knowing that he might have to lay off his few remaining staff members.  Shutting down his 18-year-old business was a distinct possibility and yet he also had this strong feeling that something wonderful, something miraculous, was going to happen today.

He explained to me that the last few years had been extremely difficult for himself and his business. Time after time he had submitted proposals and quotes to potential clients in the hope of landing new clients only to be told that the work had been awarded to one his competitors.

As time went on all his resources became depleted and he was dipping into his personal savings and investments in order to keep his office doors open. And last week he had used the last of his savings to meet payroll and to pay the rent on his office space.

Throughout this time his family, closest friends and advisors constantly advised him to pack it in. And yet he knew, he just knew, that if he be hung in there and kept trying and faced each day with the positive expectancy of something wonderful happening, that sooner or later something wonderful word, in fact, happen.

He told me that he had been raised by two parents who embodied the very meaning of the Habit of Optimism and while their own lives were filled with challenge and adversity they greeted each day with a warm smile and unshakable belief that good things would happen if they just kept going.

He inherited that doctrine and through all the dark moments of these past few years he worked hard on “focusing on the light.” He had an unshakeable believe that his business would be salvaged and would prosper if he just “kept the faith” and, as his parents had taught him, remained convinced that “good things will happen.

So Monday morning as he was preparing to tell his remaining staff members that the company could no longer afford to pay them he received an email from the senior purchaser of a company from which, several months earlier, he had received a “Sorry to inform you that you weren’t successful” letter.

This email was to inform him that the company that had originally been awarded this contract had not been able to fulfill their obligation and the client company would like to award a new contract to him.

As the impact of the email hit him he realized that not was he now able to keep those who depend on him gainfully employed, but that this contract was by far the biggest, and most lucrative, his company had ever undertaken.

His first response has been to call his 92-year-old mother and thank her for the gift of the Habit of Optimism that had kept him convinced that “something good would happen” if he just kept trying. Then, remembering my blog from last week, decided it was time to renew our acquaintance over a meal.

I cannot describe how joyful it was to see this man sitting across from his me relishing in his happiness. The self-vindication from “just knowing things will get better if I just keep trying” was a delight to observe.

The Habit of Optimism is indeed a gift. And it is a gift that we should all claim for our own. With this gift all barriers are removed, all challenges are met and all adversity is overcome.

I know I won’t allow this man to become a colleague from my past again. His infectious optimism is far too valuable a resource to keep anywhere but close at hand.

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.

My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  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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42. The glass can always be filled.

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.” 
                                                                                                      Winston Churchill

An interesting discussion a few days ago with a new client caused that me to realize that this is the perfect time to introduce the Habit of Optimism as our focal point for this blog as well as the next two.

This lady, we’ll call her Gail, told me that she decided to adopt the Habit of Optimism many years ago when during one of her down moments a friend suggested she “cheer up, things could be worse.”

With a huge smile on her face she told me that “I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.”

And it was in that moment that Gail’s life changed forever.

She said a light turned on in her head and, for the first time in her life, she understood that cheerfulness in the face of adversity is nothing more than naïve self-delusion, but positive expectation in the face of severe challenge is a springboard to happy endings.

She further explained why the Habit of Optimism constantly guides her response to most situations in in her life.

Gail told me that she is constantly reminded of a quote by Colin Powell that “Optimism is a force multiplier.”

She said she has long understood that every single thing we believe to be true is true for us and that the “truth” that we bring to each and every situation will determine how best we manage it.

She explained to me that when faced with a difficult challenge, the pessimist focuses on the adverse circumstances and can easily conclude that the situation is hopeless – nothing good can, or will, come of it.

The optimist, on the other hand, faces a difficult challenge with strong, positive expectation of a better result.

Believing in the inevitability of this better result drives the optimist to relentlessly pursue those very actions that are necessary to produce that better result and that while, sometimes, the result obtained is not always the result hoped for, it is always, in Gail’s experience, a far better result than what would have been the result had she taken the pessimist viewpoint – the hopelessness of the situation – accepted it and, by accepting it, taken no action to change it.

In other words, Gail explained, optimists do things differently than pessimists. Optimists take different actions and therefore produce different results.

Gail believes, like the quote above, that optimism is a force multiplier and that the more optimism she brings to the task – the greater her sense of positive expectation – the harder she will work.

And, of course, the greater her effort, the more beneficial the result.

It is invigorating being around Gail. She looks for the positive possibilities in everything and her optimism is contagious. It doesn’t seem to matter what happens in her life, Gail focuses on positive outcomes and, with boundless energy and enthusiasm, strives to make those outcomes a part of her reality.

Gail has twice defeated cancer and when asked if she has any fears of this disease returning the standard response is “Bring it on, I’ll kick its butt again.”

The World English dictionary defines optimism as:

 

1.

the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things

2.

hopefulness; confidence

3.

the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of good over evil

4.

the philosophical doctrine that this is the best of all possible worlds.

Gail defines optimism slightly differently. She says “Optimism means that good will always come from bad if you persevere hard enough and sometimes you just have to push extra hard in order to open the door through which the good will enter your life.”

The Habit of Optimism. Pretty hard to disregard.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

MEA CULPA: I apologize for the lateness of this blog. I wrote it on Tuesday evening and some, forgot (it’s this darn aging thing) to post it on Wednesday.

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.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  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.

 

41. Little by little soon equals a lot.

For the past two weeks we have been talking about the Habit of Kaizen – the practice of continuous improvement.

Yesterday morning I was thoroughly entertained by a man named Albert who called to tell me that he has been a master practitioner of Kaizen throughout his entire life and how, his dedication to this process almost cost him his life.

Albert explained to me that the practice of Kaizen works equally well in bringing positive and inspiring improvement to realize as it does in wreaking havoc.

Naturally curious, I asked for an explanation.

Albert described how his weight had increased from 185 pounds when he graduated from high school to over 400 pounds by the time he celebrated his 30th birthday.

He told me this wasn’t easy. This required hard work, dedicated commitment. And he was the perfect man for the job.

He said that over a 12 year period he slowly, steadily, continuously and systematically worked on “improving” his eating habits, gaining 20 – 25 pounds each year, all the while practicing a sedentary lifestyle.

He pointed out that he didn’t really notice his ever expanding girth as the week-by-week changes were so small as to be virtually unnoticeable.

A visit to his family doctor shortly after his 30th birthday proved to be a pivotal point in his life. His doctor plainly and coldly told him that he was eating his way to an early grave and that if he didn’t “radically, dramatically and immediately” change his lifestyle the odds of him seeing his 40th birthday were extremely remote.

Albert was shaken. He truly had not realized what he’d done to himself and made a promise to himself that a new way of life would begin that day. He set a goal of losing 200 pounds in 18 months.

He understood that he had reached his 400 pound mass by gaining 1 ounce at a time and that he would have to lose it the same way.

This was the first time Albert ever attempted to lose weight and wasn’t quite sure where to begin.

On his way home from his doctor’s office he stopped at a store to buy a bathroom scale. It wasn’t until he got home and stepped on the scale that he realized that it would only record weight up to 300 pounds.

He would have to lose over 100 pounds before we could even use it.

Determined to succeed, he called his doctor’s office and got the okay to drop in once a week for a quick weigh-in.

He began to keep a food journal, religiously recording everything he ate and drank. The first week he did nothing other than cut out all foods between meals and the scale in the doctor’s office told him he had lost 2 pounds.

He made a note of this in his journal.

For the second week he decided to experiment with his portion control and lost a further 1 ½ pounds.

This too was recorded in the journal.

And week after week Albert studied his results – losing between two and 3 pounds each week – and evaluated his progress.

He constantly made small changes to his diet and then measured the results, comparing them to previous weeks.

After 12 weeks he had lost 35 pounds and started venturing outside to walk around the block.

Over time that became walking two blocks, then three, then four, then running one block and walking two, running to walking three, etc.

And every step was recorded, tabulated, measured and each week small changes were made to his diet and exercise regimen.

After nine months Albert was able to begin using the scale in his bathroom and after 16 months the scale informed him that he weighed less than 200 pounds.

That milestone too was noted in his journal.

Five years have now past since that visit to his doctor and Albert’s weight has remained steady at 187 pounds.

Albert laughingly pointed out to me how powerful a role the Habit of Kaizen has played in his life.

He explained to me that the Habit of Kaizen has taught him a sense of discipline that is carried over into many other areas in his life. He has become fanatical about constantly seeking small and continuous ways of getting better at everything he does.

He described the Habit of Kaizen as being addictive and joyously told me how much pleasure there is in constantly getting better and how relatively little effort is required to do so.

In Albert’s words, “the Habit of Kaizen” provides massive return on minimal investment.

He asked me to let my female readers know that he is single, available and attractive.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P 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.

P.S. My Company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  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.

http://actionablebooks.com/summaries/life-sinks-or-soars/

40. Little by little can become very big.

I received a fascinating phone call last week from a lady in California who called to tell me how the Habit of Kaizen had played a pivotal role in helping shape the destiny of her business.

Her story began in 2007 when, within three weeks of each other, she and her husband both lost their jobs. They spent most of the following six months seeking any and every available opportunity for employment but, to no avail.

One evening, to cheer themselves up, they decided to take their two kids out to a restaurant where they had previously enjoyed a meal as a family.

The restaurant was located about a 20 minute drive from home and the entire time was spent listening to their kids debate which dishes they most enjoyed the previous time and what they planned to order this time.

When they arrived, they were quite surprised to find the parking-lot empty and it wasn’t until they were approaching the door of the restaurant that they realized that something was amiss.

A sign on the door informed them that the restaurant was closed and would not be reopening.

They went off in search of a place to eat and the entire evening was spent speculating on why this restaurant had closed.

The next day their curiosity led them to make further inquiries and they discovered that the restaurant had filed for bankruptcy.

Upon learning this she and husband made a spontaneous decision. They decided to take what remained of their savings and buy the restaurant out of bankruptcy. They felt that this was perhaps their only chance to produce income for their family as they had lost all faith in finding new jobs for themselves.

Neither of them had any previous restaurant experience.

They were able to track down the head chef and he agreed to work for them and to forgo a salary for the first six months in exchange for a 10% ownership position in the restaurant.

Within three weeks of making the decision they were open for business and for the next three months they watched in despair as day after day and night after night they served barely enough meals to cover their food costs.

And then one day she had an idea.

As a group of her guests were paying their bill she went up to the table and asked if she could join them for a moment. She told them she and her husband were new to the restaurant business and were working as hard as they could to make the dining experience for their customers as fine as possible.

And she needed their help. Would they each suggest one thing – be it a change to the menu, food preparation methods, ambience, menu, anything – that in their opinion would improve the restaurant?

She quickly gathered their suggestions and before the guests left she obtained their contact information. Over the next few days they implemented each of the suggestions and she then contacted these folks and invited them back to the restaurant for a complimentary meal and to experience the changes they had suggested.

Naturally, as they had suggested they changes, they heartily endorsed them. She asked them to tell their friends how they had helped improve the restaurant and recommend they stop by for a meal.

The very next night three separate groups of four folks each showed up for dinner and mentioned that they were there on the recommendation of the previous evening’s guests.

And so a tradition was born.

Since then every single week, one particular customer or party has been selected and asked to express any recommendations they may have.

For the most part, those recommendations are implemented and those guests are invited back for complimentary meals to experience their recommendations at work.

And as these customers enjoy their complimentary meal a request is made for them to let their friends know how they helped improve the restaurant.

And new customers miraculously materialize.

They are now in their sixth year of business and for the past 18 months their dinners have been by reservation only. Every night is a sold-out event. Customers are making reservations three, four and even six months in advance to ensure that have a table for their special events.

She told me that their commitment to the Habit of Kaizen, the habit of making small and continuous changes and improvements has been the single biggest contributor to their success.

The restaurant has enabled the family to enjoy the lifestyle of their dreams and, in her words, the greatest benefit of their success is the knowledge that she and her husband can comfortably afford to send their children to any college they wish.

She told me there is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that, as a parent, she is able to do everything in her power to ensure herchildren have successful lives, and being able to provide them with superlative education is one of the keys to ensuring that success.

She ended the call by telling me that she and her husband have applied the Habit of Kaizen to their children and that each week the kids are challenged to find one thing –  schoolwork, athletic activity, tasks around the house, anything – and spend the entire week becoming just a little bit better at doing it.

The Habit of Kaizen – tiny steps with BIG results.

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.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  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.

39. It’s better to get better and better.

My friend Howard has often been accused of being a perfectionist. The truth is Howard is far from being a perfectionist; it is just that he is far better at doing things than most other folks.

Howard just seems to excel at everything he does. He is a model of efficiency, an eloquent communicator, a superb manager and a never-ending source of inspiration to those around him.

Success seems to be attreacted to Howard like a powerful magnet and he appears able to accomplish remarkable results with effortless ease.

He is a never-ending source of inspiration to me.

Howard has a secret. It is one he willingly shares with all who will listen and yet by virtue of its sheer simplicity, few seem willing to use it to emulate his success.

Howard will tell you that the turning point in his life occurred many years ago when he noticed a poster hanging on the wall in a bookstore. As he read the words he felt a rush of excitement surge through his body and he hurriedly pulled a pen from his pocket to capture the essence of the message.

The poster read: “Success is not doing one thing 1,000% better; it is doing 1,000 things 1% better.”

To many, a corny cliché, to Howard, a massive moment of truth.

In that moment Howard’s decided that he would examine every tiny nuance of his behavior and seek ways to continually and consistently make 1% improvements.

He began keeping a journal of his daily activities. He recorded everything he did with the intention of using his notes as a debriefing instrument from which he could learn and improve. And he constantly asked himself this question, “How can I do this better?”

He set himself the goal of making three minor improvements to different actions, activities and processes every single day.

And he discovered something interesting. He discovered that when you get a little better each and every day, it is only a matter of time before you become sooooo much better than you could ever have imagined and sooooo much better than the competition.

Howard adopted, and lived, the Habit of Kaizen. Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” and has come to mean a commitment to continuous improvement as a way of life.

For more than 20 years this commitment to continuous improvement has been the driving force behind everything Howard does. He has filled dozens of notebooks with thoughts, ideas and suggestions that he has implemented over the years in his relentless quest to be “just a teeny bit better today than I was yesterday.

And his efforts have paid off handsomely. Howard runs a very successful business that he purchased out of bankruptcy several years ago. He is a leader in his church and community and continues to be a mentor to many.

The Habit of Kaizen has shaped Howard’s view of the world. I have repeatedly heard him say that constantly focusing on ways to make him better leaves him no time to find fault with others and that, in his opinion, our world would be a far better and friendlier place if we all spent more time, energy and focus strived on improving ourselves, in as many different ways as possible, rather than wasting valuable energy focusing (gossiping) about the weaknesses of others.

It really is a terrific philosophy. It doesn’t require much effort to get just a teeny bit better. Interestingly though, a teeny bit better here and teeny bit better there rapidly adds up to a whole lot better everywhere.

The Habit of Kaizen – an enormous return on a really small investment.

Who wouldn’t want a habit like that?

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.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

–  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.