211. Create results, not excuses.

“I don’t have time,” is the preferred, and default, excuse many of us rush to when requested to explain why we can’t, won’t, didn’t or don’t do what is being asked of us.

And boy, what a handy excuse it is. Except for one tiny problem – it is simply not true.

We all lead busy lives. We often feel like we’re being pulled in many different directions and there never seems to be enough time to do all things we would like to do.

But the reason for not doing these things has nothing whatsoever to do with time; rather, it has everything to do with the importance.

I was recently conducting a workshop when several people presented the, “I don’t have time” excuse to explain why they had not met certain commitments they had made the last time we met as a group.

As I listened to the excuses I was reminded of a young couple I met many years ago.

Immigrants from Vietnam, they arrived in Canada with the one suitcase of clothing between them and $250 in cash.

Within a week of their arrival they had each found a job and within a month were both working two jobs. They also found the time to attend ESL classes and spent what ever free time they had reading books in English.

Over a number of years, they were able to set aside enough money to buy a small business. They purchased a food store and went to work.

He opened the store every morning – seven days a week – at 7 AM and closed it each night at 11 PM.

He then drove home and spent three hours making jewelry.

They had three children and his wife’s mornings were taken up getting the kids ready for school. She would join him at the store at around 10 AM on weekdays and then manage the store while he visited suppliers to purchase inventory.

He would typically return to the store at around noon and she would then spend the next few hours calling on jewelry and gift stores to try and sell them the jewelry they had made the previous evening.

She would then pick up the kids at school and bring them to the store where they would do their homework before attacking their designated chores in the store.

She would leave at around 7 PM to take the children home and prepare them for bed.

On weekends the entire family opened the store together at 7 AM and worked together as a family until early evening when she would take the kids home.

Neither of them were ever without a warm, welcoming smile and over time they built a bustling business with many regular customers.

One tragic evening two drugged-out pieces of human garbage walked into the store, armed with guns. One of them pointed a shotgun at his wife and he immediately stepped in front of her to protect her.

His action did not stop one of these scumbags from pulling the trigger leaving him severely wounded.

He spent a few weeks in hospital while his wife continued to operate the store and manage the family at the same time. She would leave the store for a short while in the trusted hands of a few loyal customers who had offered to help while she visited her husband in hospital.

His wounds required several skin grafts and his recovery was lengthy and painful. Through all of this he did not let up on his schedule and his warm smile never left his face.

One day, while enjoying a cup of his fresh brewed coffee, I asked him why they worked as long and as hard as they did. He didn’t hesitate before answering. “It is important for my family, and where I grew up I learned that if something is important, you must always do it no matter what the price.”

This man understood The Habit of Making It Important and never allowed himself the luxury of making excuses.

Nor did he ever allow pain or fatigue to stand in the way of doing what he believed to be important. He shared with me that he often felt exhausted and that at times the pain from the skin grafts was so excruciating that he could barely stand straight. Whenever that happened he would think of his family and picture himself standing proudly with his wife as each of his kids graduated first from school and then from university.

The Habit of Making It Important that drove him to relentlessly pursue his dream has paid off handsomely for this wonderful couple.

They sold the business a few years ago but not before they were able to show their regular customers those precious graduation photos taken when one of their sons completed medical school and the other two, dental school.

It’s been a number of years since last I saw them, but I know in whatever endeavour they have undertaken since, they would’ve done so with the same zest and commitment because they truly understand the strength behind The Habit of Making It Important.

And they are living proof of its power.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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210. Make it important.

”If it’s important, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”  Author unknown

A common and frequent part of my day job is to listen to why-not. By this I mean the time spent listening to clients explaining to me why they didn’t do the things they had committed to do at a previous session.

The explanations are always sincere. The most common reason offered is, of course, a lack of time. My clients lead busy lives and time for them, as for many of us, is at a premium.

Many of my clients are parents and I always ask them to think back to the days when their children were very young, perhaps even before they could walk. And I ask how often the children were not fed because, with all the demands being placed on them, there was just nowhere in their busy schedules to find time to feed their children.

My question, I know, is preposterous and yet the answer is always the same, never.

I ask this question not to be a smartass but rather to point out the primary reason why we so often fail to live up to the commitments we make to ourselves and others.

The reason the kids are always fed is because feeding children is of utmost importance. Nothing will ever stand in the way of a parent making time to feed their kids.

And yet the number one reason we offer for not living up to our commitments is a lack of time.

And when that excuse is not appropriate, we are extremely adept at inventing others.

I am not preaching.  I am not the person who invented excuses, but I have, through much practice, perfected them. I am as guilty as my clients in committing the soul-destroying offense of creating excuses.

From time to time we all set goals for ourselves. These goals may well pertain to different areas of our lives, but their successful completion always requires us to stay the course until we succeed.

And yet the available data on successful completion of goals is rather disheartening, in fact, few of us successfully achieve the goals we set for ourselves. While there are many reasons that explain why we don’t, there is one that stands out above all others.

It is this: we don’t finish what we start.

We join a health club and make a strong commitment to use its facilities three times per week.

The first week is an exciting one and we eagerly attend the gym. Sometimes our enthusiasm lasts beyond this week and for several more.

And then we stop going or perhaps we go twice in one week and just once the following week before stopping completely.

What was important to us when we first started is no longer important; we humans are gifted when it comes to rationalizing as we easily form a justification for not continuing.

It may be time, workload, that niggling pain in our lower back, a headache that just won’t quit or a cat that needs to be brushed, but the moment it is no longer important to us we inevitably have a handy excuse at the ready.

And when we don’t finish what we start, we have to come back and start again, and again, and again.

Which is why The Habit of Making It Important it is not optional if we are serious about creating new results.

The Habit of Making It Important, when deeply ingrained within us, will assist greatly to keep  important things important, while reducing our dependence on excuses.

The Habit of Making It Important is what insured your children were always fed. If you reconnect with it, your soul will never go hungry again.

Sounds like the best eating regimen to me.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

209. Placebo anyone?

Last week’s conversation about Mr. Wright caused my phone to start ringing a lot more than usual

Mr. Wright, as you may recall, was suffering from advanced lymphosarcoma. His doctor administered a dose of Krebiozen, an experimental drug. Mr. Wright experienced a near miraculous recovery before reading a report suggesting that Krebiozen did not provide any benefit to those patients taking it as part of a research project

Mr. Wright’s cancer returned almost immediately. His doctor advised him that he had come into possession of an extremely pure form of Krebiozen and would like to administer this purified drug to him. Mr. Wright agreed and his doctor injected him with distilled water.

Once again, Mr. Wright experienced dramatic recovery and was declared cancer free. Shortly thereafter he came across an article published by the American Medical Association stating that this drug had been proven to be ineffective in the treatment of cancer.

Mr. Wright died two days later.

Since posting my blog last Wednesday, I have spoken with many people who have contacted me to share their stories, or the stories of close friends and family members, who experienced spontaneous remission from challenging and even terminal illnesses.

 

The common theme among these conversations was the power that lies within The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories. Each person I spoke with talked of their never-ending conversations with themselves and their relentless determination to recover fully from their illness.

Susan spoke lovingly of her mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. The oncologist explained to her mother that fewer than 5% of patients diagnosed with this illness survive longer than five years and most will pass away within 3 to 12 months of diagnosis.

Susan said her mother walked out of the oncologist office with a huge smile on her face and proudly announced to her family that she just joined a tiny, exclusive club of 5% of pancreatic cancer survivors. She refused to even discuss the possibility of anything else and constantly told herself – and anyone else who would listen – of her plans to live a long and cancer free life.

Susan and her family helped her mother celebrate her 75th birthday this past weekend.

I heard similar stories of improbable and seemingly impossible recoveries. Tumors shrinking, organs repairing themselves, and even a story of a broken leg healing itself in three weeks, in time to “dance at my son’s wedding.”

One of my favourite stories was relayed by the person who told me of a time when she was housebound, suffering from a serious bout of the flu. She had been virtually unable to leave her bed for almost 5 days and was forced to do so as she had been booked to deliver a two-hour keynote address at a convention.

She told me she felt so ill she asked her husband to drive her to the event and yet, the moment she began her address, all symptoms vanished, her energy returned and she received “the biggest standing ovation of my life.”

The moment she got into her husband’s car for the drive home all symptoms returned and for the next three days she did not leave her bed.

She told me how The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories played a vital role in her presentation. She explained that she spent the entire 45-minute drive to the event telling herself repeatedly that she was going to be amazing, brilliant, engaging and entertaining.

With a chuckle in her tone, she berated herself for confining her story to her time on stage and not extending it beyond.

She is convinced that she talked herself into being healthy and strong for those crucial two hours.

If you have any doubt or scepticism about the power of the stories we tell ourselves then do yourself a favour and buy a marvellous book Mind over Medicine, by Dr. Lissa Rankin, a practising physician in California.

She uses the word placebo, we use the word belief and both mean the same thing. The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories plays a huge role in everything we do.

If it is true we become the stories we tell ourselves then let’s make sure the stories we tell are of the lives we want to live.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

208. Believing is seeing.

Last week we began to focus on The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories and the importance this habit plays in our lives can best be told by the story of Mr. Wright.

In 1957, Mr. Wright was on his last legs. He had been diagnosed with advanced lymphosarcoma and was not expected to live very long. His body was ravaged with orange-sized tumors in his neck, armpits and abdomen, his liver and spleen were extremely enlarged and his lungs were filling up with 2 quarts of fluid every day which needed to be drained just so he could breathe.

Mr. Wright, however, was a determined man. He had heard of an experimental drug called Krebiozen and begged his physician, Dr. West, to allow him to use the drug.

The protocol for acceptance into this experimental program was that patients needed to be expected to live three months or longer and Dr. West did not expect Mr. Wright to live that long. He told Mr. Wright of his ineligibility to receive the drug.  In addition to being determined, Mr. Wright was also persistent and he nagged until Dr. West relented and administered Krebiozen to him.

Mr. Wright received the medication on a Friday and by the following Monday his tumors had shrunk to half their size. By the time 10 days had passed they were completely gone, his lungs were no longer filling with fluid and Mr. Wright felt like a new man.

Two months later, patients on this experimental drug received an initial report saying that Krebiozen was not working.

Mr. Wright was devastated and fell into a deep, long depression. His cancer came back and once again his life expectancy was measurable in mere weeks, if not days.

Dr. West told him that the Krebiozen he had received prior had been proven to be impure and that he had managed to secure some ultrapure Krebiozen for him. Mr. Wright was encouraged by the news looked forward to receiving a pure and improved version of the drug.

Dr. West injected him with distilled water.

Once again the tumors disappeared and Mr. Wright returned to good health. Not long after he was enjoying life as a productive person, he came across a study published by the American Medical Association which definitively proved that Krebiozen was worthless as a cancer fighting drug.

Mr. Wright died two days later.

When Mr. Wright read the AMA report he immediately changed the story he was telling himself. The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories serves us well only when the stories we tell ourselves are powerful, inspirational and uplifting.

Mr. Wright received a drug that was later proven to be worthless and yet he recovered fully from a terminal illness.

He later was injected with distilled water which he believed to be a purer version of the previous drug and, again, underwent a miraculous recovery.

Neither of his recoveries can be attributed to any medication. What Mr. Wright did was adopt an unshakeable belief that Krebiozen would provide the cure he desperately needed. He used The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories to bolster that belief and yet, despite receiving an ineffective drug and distilled water his tumors disappeared, and for a while he enjoyed good health.

The power behind The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories is incalculable. Everything we believe to be true is true … until it isn’t. Our beliefs are formed from the stories we tell ourselves and those stories shape every moment of our every day.

The Habit of Telling Ourselves Good Stories is the secret sauce for health and happiness.

Take it a minimum of twice a day.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.