99. Don’t expect it of them if you haven’t shared it with them.

Trust is a funny thing.

It is the foundation upon which all relationships are built and when we meet people for the first time we tend to freely give them our trust if, for no other reason, we have no cause not to.

The interesting thing about trust is that as freely as it is given the first time, I’m not sure that if that trust is violated, it can ever go back to the same level it was at before.

Another interesting point to consider is that most conflict is caused by expectations not being met. This means that when a person does/does not do what we expect of them, the potential for conflict instantly presents itself.

I experienced this quite alarmingly last week. I had arranged to meet a friend for lunch and we had agreed to meet at the restaurant at 11:45 AM.

I was raised by a mother who was fastidiously punctual and instilled in me the importance of always being on time.

It is been many years since I left my mother’s home to make my own way in the world and yet, to this day, I constantly hear her voice reminding me to be on time and chiding me when I’m not.

So when my friend arrived at the restaurant at approximately 12:15 PM and did neither acknowledge nor apologize for his tardiness I felt some anger starting to rise within me and asked why he was late.

He explained that he been on a phone call with a client that had lasted much longer than he anticipated and didn’t think it would be big deal if he showed up “a little late” for lunch.

Here’s the point: My expectation when scheduling a meeting is that we both show up on time and, if for any reason, one of us is going to be late, they have an obligation to notify the other.

My friend’s expectation is quite different. He is of the view that “things happen” and we get there when we get there.

Had my friend’s expectation matched mine he would have either cut short his call with his client and/or called me to let me know he would be late.

Had my expectation matched his, I would not have been bothered by his lateness.

And so it is with so many of the things that cause unpleasantness, discomfort, anger and even outright rage in our daily interactions with others.

So this would seem to be the perfect time to introduce The Habit of Setting Clear Expectations.

The Habit of Setting Clear Expectations is a hugely proactive step that we can all take that will serve to go a long way in reducing tension with others.

Expectations are not unconditional rules to be met with harsh punishment. They are simply a way of alerting others to our preferences and informing us of theirs.

Setting expectations requires courage yet by doing this we take enormous strides to improve relationships and increase levels of trust in all of our relationships.

And even greater courage is required to share our concerns when agreed-upon expectations are not met. It is in these moments that our true character shines through and determines the level of risk we are willing to endure. For it is in how we handle these events that will determine whether we subject ourselves to a few moments of awkward conversation by pointing out that our expectations were not met or by saying nothing with the full knowledge that we will experience this very same behaviour again in the future.

I have long believed a few moments of discomfort is a small price to pay in order to avoid repeated bouts of anger and frustration.

The Habit of Setting Clear Expectations. It’s really very simple. If we don’t clearly articulate her expectations, we forfeit the right to whine when they are not met.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours continues to sell well. Please visit us at http://www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.

98. There’s no downside to doing this.

Bob called me this week to talk about how The Habit of Daily Reflection helped him get off blood pressure medication.

I’ve known Bob for some time and he can best be described as a Type A personality.

Bob is hyperkinetic, always on the go, pushing himself to the very limit and doing everything at 100 miles an hour.

He is a driven high achiever who seems to thrive on deadlines, calamity and catastrophe. Bob is at his finest when his back is against the wall and when he is not actually busy doing things, he’s an incessant worrier, constantly anticipating disaster in all areas of his business and his life.

A routine physical several years ago alerted Bob to a problem that is all too common in many of us. It is one that that has no symptoms and yet the consequences of which can be deadly.

On that day Bob’s blood pressure readings were 167/98. His doctor, naturally alarmed by the reading, prescribed medication and cautioned Bob that failure to comply with his instructions would almost certainly result in the direst of consequences.

Bob is a seemingly healthy fellow. Like many of us he carries a few extra pounds, is physically active, a regular attendee at the gym and follows a diet that is, “not quite as good as it could be.”

Bob left the doctor’s office that day, naturally alarmed and drove straight to the drugstore to fill the prescription. While waiting for the prescription to be completed he wandered around the store, found a blood pressure monitor for home use and became quite fanatical – almost obsessed – with measuring his blood pressure day.

Eighteen months ago a friend introduced Bob to The Habit of Daily Reflection. His friend explained that this habit had been of enormous help to him and felt that Bob would benefit equally by taking time each day to become proficient at this practice.

Somewhat sceptical, Bob said out to “give it a try” convinced that The Habit of Daily Reflection was a bunch of touchy/feely mumbo-jumbo and would have no beneficial effect on his life other than take precious time away from important activities.

How wrong he was.

Bob learned very early on that just the act of taking time several times throughout the day to sit, quiet his mind and just reflect in a relaxed manner on how his life was unfolding had not only a soothing effect but also contributed to a substantial increase in his productivity.

To his surprise he discovered that this newly acquired habit was having a powerful effect on his physical health. He noticed his blood pressure remained well within the range of normal and after less than three months after of adopting The Habit of Daily Reflection he visited his doctor to share with him his new secret weapon.

His doctor was impressed enough with Bob’s tale that he reduced his medication by half but insisted he stay on the half dose for at least three more months.

At the end of that time Bob revisited his doctor and was given the all clear to throw the pills in the garbage.

That was more than a year ago and Bob, still fanatical about taking his blood pressure several times each day, happily reports that The Habit of Daily Reflection has played an enormous role in improving his health while at the same time has helped bring clarity to his thinking and greater performance to his work life.

A side benefit of The Habit of Daily Reflection is that Bob no longer reacts as harshly or angrily as he once did and has found and calm peacefulness within himself that has converted the way he deals with life’s challenges into a stress and anxiety reduced process.

The Habit of Daily Reflection is a simple, effective tool in helping us raise the quality of our lives in more ways than we can possibly imagine.

It costs nothing and brings much. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

We should all make this part of our daily lives.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours is selling very well. Please visit us at http://www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.

97. If it works for them …

An interesting week it’s been.

In the few days since I posted my blog on The Habit of Daily Reflection I have received three calls from people attesting to its awesome power.

Two of those callers contacted me to share the immense success they have both enjoyed in their chosen fields is directly attributable to a habit acquired by both many years ago – The Habit of Daily Reflection.

The third caller is a long-time assistant to an extraordinarily successful Canadian business person. The caller would not identify her boss by name but did tell me that he is a household name and that she has worked for him since the early days of his career more than 40 years ago.

She told me that many years ago he shared with her a famous quote by Henry Ford which stated, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it,” and explained that this was going to be the secret weapon that would propel him to huge success.

While both the other callers identified themselves – one explained she had been sent a copy of my blog by her granddaughter – they both asked me to respect their anonymity as keeping a low profile has always been of great importance to them.

After completing the third call I spent some time in quiet reflection replaying each of the conversations in my head to ensure I understood the common theme from each.

What I learned is that there is no more important activity to be placed on the To Do list of a high achieving person than the one that says, ‘Think.’ I learned that each of these three folks are strongly disciplined to ensuring that this habit is present throughout their day.

The common theme from all three conversations was that they each devoted several hours each day to this practice and had done so for many years.

The behaviour common to all was that their Think Time is for that purpose only and during that time they do not interact with others in their organization, answer their phones, respond to email or in any way communicate with anyone.

That time is an interrupted brain time during which they allow themselves the latitude of judgment free thinking to address and resolve present challenges and to determine future strategy.

In each case I heard several examples of powerful flashes of inspiration that occurred while practising The Habit of Daily Reflection and how those ideas have helped catapult each of these three folks to lofty heights. I also learned how that time is often spent in developing creative approaches to present-day problems that are used convert challenges into opportunities.

I was flattered to be contacted by such people whose calls validated for me that the old axiom, “I’m so busy I don’t even have time to think,” is an assured way of ensuring mediocrity reigns supreme.

The trick to this I am learning is to work at de-cluttering our minds and to try and focus on just one item, one topic, one thought at a time. I am told by those who have done this for years that the ability to quiet their voice in our heads and to de-clutter the thoughts in our minds is simply a function of practising The Habit of Daily Reflection.

It’s hard, having heard from three such remarkable people, not to adopt The Habit of Daily Reflection into my own life.

So I’m gonna.

Will you?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

96. I tried to think but nothing happened.

My client John brings an interesting approach to increasing his workplace productivity.

John is the general manager of a family owned investment company. His bosses live overseas and rely on John’s expertise to manage their substantial investments and produce significant monthly income for their family.

John manages three direct distinct investment streams for bosses: a small but growing portfolio of income producing residential and commercial properties, a blue-chip stock portfolio and an investment arm that helps start-ups get off the ground.

He is extremely well compensated for his efforts but the longevity of his career is constantly being measured against his ability to meet or exceed the growing expectations of those to whom he reports.

John has a staff of eight people to assist him in his endeavors and his small office is a hive of nonstop activity.

Much of his time is spent reviewing potential investments which have been vetted by senior staff members who also passed on to him mountains of data necessary for him to absorb in order to make quality decisions.

You would think with all these responsibilities and relentless pressure to deliver John would be an adrenaline fuelled, hyperkinetic soul whose days are filled by maintaining a frantic pace, without any breaks, while striving to stay ahead of an ever-growing workload.

And you would be wrong.

John is one of the calmest and most laid-back people I know.

And he has a secret weapon that helps him stay that way.

His secret is called to The Habit of Daily Reflection.

His first 15 minutes in his office each morning is spent in quiet reflection. His staff know to leave him alone, his phone is left unanswered and his emails unread.’
John uses this time to place himself in a relaxed state from which he creates ‘laser focus’ on what he intends to accomplish that day, on what obstacles he anticipates and how best to overcome them, and to ready himself for all tasks at hand.

This is John’s preparation time. He plans his day with great detail and ‘tests’ it in his mind to ensure that ‘it feels just right’.

Then he opens his eyes and hits the ground running. His entire day is spent executing on the plan built during his few minutes of practising The Habit of Daily Reflection.

Two or three times throughout the day he closes his office door and repeats the process to check his progress, make course corrections and, frequently raise the bar’s on his expectations for the day.

John first learned of The Habit of Daily Reflection more than 20 years ago and has been an adherent ever since.

He will tell you the he never runs low on energy as his time spent in deep reflection serves to ensure that “my tank is always full” and his head always brimming with new ideas.

I have had occasion to talk with each of his staff members and they marvel at his abundant energy, constant good mood and overall sense of self fulfilment.

Collectively they describe him as “the ideal boss” and several of them have become devoted followers of The Habit of Daily Reflection.

John explains his devotion to The Habit of Daily Reflection this way, “If it’s true that you can’t love another until you first love yourself then it stands to reason that you can’t make time for all you need to do if you don’t first make time for yourself.

“And you won’t have the energy you need to get everything done if you don’t make time to refuel.”

John believes there is no better way to start each day than by thinking and he often quotes Henry Ford who famously said,“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

Tough to argue with success, isn’t it.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.