Principles on Why and How to Create a Meaningful life through Self-Renewal

“The richest, happiest, and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal”–Dr. James Loehr and Schwarz, The Power of Full Engagement

” One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” (Self-Renewal). John W. Gardner “

Let’s start with a speech by John Gardner, who wrote the short but powerful books on Excellence and Self-Renewal  “Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.” 

Personal Renewal is the ongoing and continuous focus on reflection, choice and purposeful action to change your life’s direction.  Renewal is based on learning how to reframe your vision and purpose for an improved “quality of life”. Discovering and learning about new ways to grow and uncover a new sense of being alive. It involves reviewing and if needed re-focusing and adjusting your life priorities. It is opportunity for you to stop living on autopilot and begin to experience how to live a life of fulfillment and meaning in the “here and now”.

Renewal is a lifelong learning and growing process.  We need to be continually engaged in it so as to stay energized, fully present and alive in the ”here and now”.  I had originally thought of renewal as something people do once (or at most a couple of times) in reaction to a crisis like l like hearing you have cancer or been fired from your job of 15 years. Significant emotional experiences like these stop you in your tracks and can be seen as opportunity to change or re-adjust life priorities or as scary moment filled with disillusionment (why me?) or fearful anxious moments where you have loss control of life.  Now I understand it is much more clearly as a proactive process based on choices and how I spent my time.  I’ve found that with each step along the way it remains necessary to re-examine what decisions or choices brought us to this point, to continue asking ourselves reflective questions like– what is my purpose in life? Or how is what I am doing been working so far? And are the choices that I have made leading me to joy and happiness? Or Am I just stuck and overburden by my present life.  Here are 4 ways for getting started on a Self-Renewal process:

  1. Unlock the power of Renewal by identifying and capturing how you spend your time over the next thirty days. See
  2. Renewal provides you with the opportunity to re-assess your life’s direction and meaning. It provides you with a map for being and a reason for getting up in the morning. Fill in this sentence–The reason I get up in the morning is____________________________________________________.
  3. The power of renewal is to help you unlock your strengths, challenge you to grow and learn and to take action by turning your dreams and potential into a higher “quality of life”. List your top 5 strengths.
  4. Renewal Setting:– Reflect on and identify 3 times in your life when you have “Played to Win”. When you gave a 110% and embraced the possibility of greatness.

Want to Change the World? Start with Yourself.

Quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi

Here is another tale that reinforces the best way to start to change the world. This story was supposedly written on the tomb stone of an Anglican Bishop in the Crypts of Westminster Abbey:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.
But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would have then been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.”

This is wonderful advice, because by understanding who we are and accepting the reality of constant change we can position our thinking and acting to take on change by focusing the only person we have control over and that is ourselves.  Ultimately the only person you have any true power over, is yourself.  Most of the research on change and leadership points to the fact that steady and lasting change takes place when we model the change we would like to see from others. So start small and tackle in the next week one personal change you would like to model for others. For example, next week when people ask you to do something for them do it with a smile and joyfulness.

Part 1: Have a Desire to live a more meaningful Life and Career? –Learn to Grow and Make better Choices


” When you are stuck or sleep walking through life, you need to challenge yourself and find new ways to thing and grow, you have to push and pull against excuses and barriers that would stop and constrain you from changing and taking risks. Finding a process that works for you is how you open up to possibilities for growing stronger through learning and effort.” Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D. 

Career Development and creating meaning in your life and work seems like no big deal to a selected few who are lucky to have chosen a career path at an early age and have the ability, resources and opportunity to make their dream come true; for example, they are able to lock-on to a path that fulfills their dreams such as I want to be a fireman, lawyer or doctor when I grow-up. This is not the case for most of us we just float along and life evolves and happens. We find change difficult and avoid it. We don’t have the inclination or time to really map out our life and career. So for this group life and careers just happen without much thought, reflection and planning.  But we all possess an ability to do work that fits our strengths and interest in life if we take charge and ownership of our life at work and away from work. To do this we need to eliminate procrastination, excuses etc. and begin in a pro-active way to take charge of our choices by re-inventing our life and career by finding our own formula or strategy for changes in our personal life and career. The “process with structure” framework is a map that guides and challenges you to put your passions and strengths together to discover and create your unique calling. Career counselor Dr. Mark Hardwick offers a practical and proven system for taking control of your life and career. He provides assessments that raise self-awareness and provide information for identifying possible career alternatives and motivation to make the changes necessary for finding balance and creating a better and more satisfactory quality of life than just letting it evolve in a boring and often mundane way. In the “process with structure” approach to Living and Career Development we focus on living and working from the inside out, grounding the common sense of practically while exploring how to make your career dreams come to fruition. In my next post I will explain the 4 Phases of the life-career cycle process model and structure that can help you discover and create a more fulfilling and meaningful life and career. .

Growth and Mentally Tough Mindsets– 4 ways to help your kids develop their potential and overcome obstacles for growth

Daily Quote:

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
Carol S. Dweck

As a parent, you want your kids to grow up to be confident, happy, and successful adults, able to face the world head-on and make the most of every opportunity. But what can you do to help them overcome the fears that might hold them back? It’s worth remembering first that fear serves a purpose; it’s a natural human emotion to warn us of possible harm – a call to action to protect ourselves. However, in our modern world, fear often tends to be out of proportion to risk and can prevent us from achieving as much as we would like, and are capable of.

Growth and Mentally Tough Mindsets– 4 ways to help your kids develop their potential and overcome obstacles for growth and development.

  1. It is okay to fail and try again. The most important thing to teach your kids is to remind them that thry don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Provide a strong support system and deliver the message that they don’t have to face difficulties and fears by themselves. Build on their natural nature of helping and cooperation. Send the message we are a team. If they feel secure in the knowledge that you will be there for them whatever the outcome, this will grow their mental toughness mindset and help give them the confidence to keep trying and learning.
  2. Build trust by teaching the lesson of small steps for change. Show them how learning usually takes place in small-deliberative steps through challenging, effort and perseverance.

Sometimes the best way to overcome a fear is to jump right back on the bike when you fall, other times though it’s better to tackle a new challenge slowly and with persistence. Be guided by your child on this, if the fear is overwhelming for them, and then show them how it can be approached in small stages, only moving on to the next phase when a certain comfort and competency is reached. Plan the stages with them ahead of time so that they are clear on expectations and what is going to happen, and don’t spring surprises on them or they won’t trust you next time.

  1. Remind them of previous times they learned something new and overcame their fears and doubts. Reminding your child of a previous occasion where they were afraid to try something, but ended up working hard to learn and finally learned to be successful and enjoyed the challenge. This approach will boast their self-efficacy and believe in their ability to try new things and overcome discomfort and fears. This will boost their confidence in their own abilities.
  2. Avoid comparing them to others

Focus on your child, and what fears it is that they are aiming to overcome. Making continual comparisons to their brother or sister or other kids can be unhelpful and may make your child feel inadequate and lower their motivation for tackling new challenges that encourage a “growth” rather  than “fixed” mindset .

Finding the “trigger” point” for motivation to create a Growth Mental Set

Daily Quote: “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success


So what can you do to find the right “trigger point” for developing a more open and flexible Growth Mindset.  Here are 5 suggestions:

  1. Listen to your intuition. Tuning into your gut feelings helps you focus on possibilities.  Act on the ideas that inspire your passion or as the DOORS song goes “Come on baby, light my fire.” Use your best energy for your best results.
  2. Find a challenging and yet achievable, tasks to tackle. Find the right balance between failure and small success ( PLUS ONE) by identifying the right challenge for increasing motivation. There is little learning without challenge. Make it your standard for operating: “In this running club we challenge ourselves and support others to do better by giving their best effort.” It’s critical, though, that you believe in your ability to meet these challenges, not on the first try, but with sustained physical and thoughtful effort.
  3. Set clear expectations. Pick a task that pushes you to a new level of awareness or strength. Instead of “Let’s start with an easy exercise today” say to yourself “Let’s try running some hills today that will be more difficult and I will feel better when I am done.”
  4. Move the needle forward. Questions are a powerful way to increase your options, and gain leverage. You can use questions to challenge your views, and to switch to more empowering mindsets. Ask yourself, “What’s a better way?”, “How can I jump that hurdle? ”, “How can I have fun while doing it?”, etc.
  5. Share stories of physical, psychological or intellectual struggle.Thomas Edison tried 1600 different combinations of filaments before he got the right one for his light. You have your own stories to share about learning and motivation. Make sure to focus on barriers or behaviors that you can control and change. Most of us have more control over situations than we think. Be aware of the different circumstances you are in then weigh the choices facing you and the alternatives available to you.
  6. Be a good role model. Own your mistakes and show how you learn from them. You can set the standards in regard to your own acceptable behavior. “Wow a screwed that order up. What a mistake. Let me review what I did. I’ll try to slow down and pay attention to the details so that doesn’t happen again.”
  7. ” Praise getting smart not being smart”.  Intelligence, expertise, and genius are all built through EFFORT AND HARD WORK. Set the the expectation or norm for praise at finding and fixing mistakes not getting things done quickly. As Carol Dweck says to students making the effort to change “I love the way you reviewed your steps and tried new strategies.

Looking for a Powerful Personal Change Method? Learn Plus One Performance Technique.

Plus One Technique 

“Learn, compare, collect the facts… Always have the courage to say to yourself – I am ignorant.” — Ivan Pavlov

At some level self-coaching is all about change. Changing how we spend our time and energy is so important for personal habit changes. If we focus our limited time and energy on one change at a time we increase the odds of effective and permanent behavioral change. When we are more focused and aware of what we are trying to change in our day-to-day living change becomes less frightening and more productive. Doing more of what’s working in our lives (strengths), and doing less of–or stopping entirely–what’s not helping us reach our desire results and not changing things that are okay is the mindset for plus-one change technique.  Taking this growth point of view may even increase our ability to take more risk and increase our ability to snap back from failures or setbacks (resilience). When this takes place it becomes easier to manage our resources and time which then provides the space for more comprehensive self-development. Remember all large changes are usually the result of a series of small smart steps using the Plus1 performance technique. Here is a simple review of the Plus One learning sequence and  process:

The building block of the technique comes from Aristotle’s four laws of association, especially the law of frequency.

Plus One Mastery Learning Sequence:

  • The sequence starts by breaking down a complex skill into small steps. Then learning in each step one at a time while adding each new step to the preceding learned steps until all steps are mastered.
  • The “chucking principle” is a key component of the Plus-One Mastery Learning sequence. This principle suggests that a complex skill can be learned most efficiently when the skill is broken down into small doses or parts.  Each part is mastered separately and then the parts are practiced together adding one “chunk” at a time until all of the chunks are integrated and the complex skill is mastered

Want to Stop Arguments? Clear the Air by Confronting in a Caring Way your Relationship Pinches

Remember, confrontation is about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger.”
Dale Partridge

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”  John Lennon
Do you seem to keep having more and more conflicts over things that upon reflection don’t matter that much? What is behind this unproductive way to grow strong and effective partner relations? 

Self-Reflection: Your dad was right counting to ten or twenty is a good idea when an argument starts escalating. By getting rid of pinches – yes, this is really important. How do we do that? This is where time release conversations come in. Dr. John Gottman’s research on how the “Masters of Relationships” manage conflict, indicates that 70% of couples problems are perpetual, ongoing issues and unresolved over the years. These problems are related to differences in personalities, styles of interaction or preferred ways of doing things, learned habits, poor listening and problem solving skills, trigger words, inability to actively listen, low tolerance for differences and so on that set your mind off on the wrong path. The “masters of communication” seem to have developed a way to deal with these irritants in their relationship by having open and constructive conversations every once in a while about the same issues that inevitably show up again and again. They talk about how and why these issues are bothersome at this time; how they feel about the issues; what their concerns, feelings and hopes are about these sticky issues (usually about topics such as sex, money and family relationships) and what they want to have happen and what an effective resolution looks like. They learn to develop new mindsets and emotional filters on how they perceive the issues and how they can collaboratively solve these problems with their partner.

Self-Coaching Challenge: I believe that pinches in relationships of any sort are signs that we need to stop and re-kindle or establish more effective ways to communicate.  If your relationship has a lot of pinches, think of the pinches as a sign that you and your partner’s need to “clear the air” on this subject and something needs to be talked about and dealt with in a productive and caring way. Research shows that out of conflict and with caring, respectful conversations opportunities for greater closeness and understanding can be developed.  Understanding what the real causes of a relationship pinch provides time and means of going beyond the surface to discover  how the pinch impacts each other and what it  really means to each individual. Timely and caring conversations can provide an important path to preventing relationship erosion and go a long way for renewal and re-establishment greater openness and closeness.

This weekend take your own relationship audit and identify one issue or recurring problem you would like to work on and resolve with your partner. Then sit down and have a caring confrontation over a pinch that has been bothering and build a plan to move forward. Good Luck and remember no one cares what you have to say until you show them you care.