Why ideas fail or succeed? Listen to story by Malcolm Gladwell : The Big Man Can’t Shoot.

Don’t miss this good weekend reading. Hear the story of the greatest foul shooter in basketball Rick Berry. Then listen to the story of the basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain who had only one flaw: He couldn’t shoot free throws. In 1962, Chamberlain switched to making his foul shots underhanded—and fixed his only weakness. Then because he didn’t want to be seen as a “granny” or “sissy” he switch back. 

Gladwell address the idea in this pod cast about The Big Man Can’t Shoot” Wilt Chamberlain . “The story is  a meditation on the puzzle of why smart people do dumb things—why excellence is such a difficult and elusive goal, even for the best-intentioned.”

Malcom Gladwell in his new Revisionist History podcast uses these basketball greats to help you understand why good ideas like the underhanded foul shot never catch on or take such an effort for people to try it or adopt it as the standard practice for foul shooting. Gladwell’s podcast is entitled The Big Man Can’t Shoot.  The key is not in changing beliefs but in understanding the social psychological theory of Threshold of Collective Behavior developed by Mark Granovetter, Ph.D.

Secret to Personal Change–Art of Intentional Living or Sleep Walking through Life

Daily Quote: As Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian said, “A good coach will make a player see what he can be rather than what he is.”

Reflection: To create a strong and clear purpose in life means doing things purposefully or intentionally and not just letting things happen.  It means doing what you want to do. Learning to say “no” to things that do not fit your values or goals. To me experimenting with a new strategy or activity means actively pursuing something of interest to see if you enjoy them and are good at doing them. It means that you must stop sleep walking through life, so that you can create a life of purpose and fulfillment. Stop wondering what you have done with your life and start creating it with intention and purpose.

I say this because many people I coach lack the understanding and motivation to make personal changes and commitment to change things that are not working for them. Many people settle just for things in life because they mistakenly believe that successful people are either lucky or “have” an inborn sense of greatness or “god” given talent. It is my believe that our mindset and lack of a strong belief in self (self-efficacy) are the critical factors that many of us overlook when it comes to changing our life circumstances.

More often than not, a change of mindset from fixed to growth needs to take place in order to create new habits and behaviors that support your goals for change. In order to make personal changes that “stick” you need to LEARN and GROW in a number of ways to support yourself both mentally and emotionally to take on personal challenges and self-directed change plans.

What does research tell us?  We need to coach ourselves so as to create strong self-efficacy (belief) and a Growth Mindset to get what we want in life. A strong belief in self is not sometime you have or don’t have (fixed mindset)  it real is something you create through effort, failure, feedback and deliberative practice.

Self-Coaching Challenge: This weekend or next week identify a personal habit or activity you want to change in order to create a better quality of life. Use the Smart Step and Plus One techniques to accomplish your goal. 

Daily Quote and Self-Reflection: Embracing Change and Openness

Daily Quote: “Things do not Change: We change.”  Henry Thoreau

Self Reflection: When “IT” comes to change and upsetting the “status quo” I am a searcher. Searchers look for problems that can become opportunities. They are open-minded about how to solve problems and do not think they have all the answers. The main tools searchers use are a “growth mindset” seeing problems as challenges, experimentation and piloting potential solutions.  Their change mantra is:: “Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins.” Always be open to try new ways to find the right answers. I believe one must never lose time in vainly regretting failures nor in complaining about the changes which cause us discomfort, or making excuses because the essence of change is shaking things-up.

Self-Coaching: What are you facing in your daily life that needs changing and you have been procrastinating from doing it. Listen to Graham Hill, feature speaker at TED, talk about how to create more happiness in your life. Then reflect on the TED talk and pick one thing in your daily life that will make your happiness soar. Good Luck and have fun.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Asking Questions and Living with Uncertainty

Want to  Be Open and updated on Reality—Try asking questions

Daily Quote: ” Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.” -M Scott Peck.

Reflection: If it is obvious that asking questions is such a powerful way for learning. So why do we stop asking questions and give more advice or try sell our arguments at any cost. Self-protection? Fear of cognitive dissonance? Or are we just lazy learners? Most people in order to create a comfort zone and reduce unknowns in life assume they know all the main things they need to know on a subject and then go through life looking for examples and evidence to reinforce our own beliefs and view of the world. They don’t bother to ask questions because they do not want to upset their views and beliefs about life.  So they don’t ask questions because would require change and pain for them. They cling to outdated beliefs and remain certain in their assumptions – yet they often end up being viewed as inflexible, dogmatic and rigid–  saying stupid things like the world is flat or all those “people” who are on  food stamps are lazy or do such and such. This inability to be open-minded and flexible leads to absolute thinking and limits our ability to deal with the uncertainty and inevitable changes in life.

Other people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them in a poor light. In fact asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers.

Finally some people are in such a hurry to get with things that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong off the cliff.

In many situations,  checking-in by asking questions and challenging our  assumptions provides us with more information and leads us to gain a better appreciation of the issues.

Action Challenge:

So how do we improve our skills and ability to ask better questions? Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding. Open questions are excellent – they give the other person or people chance to give broad answers and they open up matters. Examples of open questions are:

  • What business are we really in, what is our added value?
  • Why do you think this has happened?
  • What are all the things that might have caused this problem?
  • How can we reduce customer complaints?
  • Why do you think he feels that way?
  • What other possibilities should we consider?

Over the next week try out your skill in asking questions and then see if this doesn’t improve your ability to see people and situations with a more open-mind. Keep us informed of your progress and we can start a dialogue for all of us to feel more comfortable in living with uncertainty and change.  

Daily quote and reflection: Power of Self-Efficacy and Suspension of Disbelief


Daily Quote: “It is very important to understand that change is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.”  David Caruso

Reflection: One constant in life is change. How we learn to live with change depends on our experience and mental-set. An unpleasant or painful experience may program your mental-set  to either avoid or see new experiences as an opportunity and a challenge. It all depends on how we perceive the original event and process it into our long-term memory. Some of my clients are bored or “stuck” in their marriage or career, or their lives in general. By remaining in their habits and status quo ways, they are denying themselves opportunities to see the possibilities in their life and fall short of their full potential. Self-mastery is knowing when to learn new skills or take on new responsibilities, when to hold on to beliefs that serve you, and when to let go of beliefs, thinking and behaviors that do not fulfill your potential and serve you.

Self-efficacy is the context-specific assessment of belief in our personal capabilities to organize and execute what is required so as to achieve the intended goal. It is concerned not with the skills we have, but rather with our control over our own level of functioning. People with high self-efficacy choose more demanding tasks. They set higher goals, put in more effort, and persist longer than those who are low in self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy grows through personal and vicarious experience, discipline, and valid feedback. Although usually considered in a single context, there may also be a generalized effect reflecting a person’s abilities across a broad array of difficult or novel situations. For instance, if someone is loved by a supportive family on the home front, then that person will display a greater confidence on the job. This will be reflected by peer and management feedback, which will, in turn, show up on the home front, perpetuating the cycle.

How can you better address change in your life? Here are some tips:

  • Envision. Look at the big picture—what the end result will be. That way you won’t become so overwhelmed with the small details.
  • See change as an opportunity to try something new or to do things in a different way.
  • Do your homework. Find out all you can about what is changing so that it will make you feel more confident as it happens.
  • Believe that no matter what happens, you can deal with it, and that in some way you will learn from it.

What are you turning away from personally or professionally that needs to be addressed? In the end, if you don’t make the changes in your life, life will make them for you.

Daily quote and Reflection: Communication Our Greatest Achievement or Our biggest Deficit ?

Daily Quote and Reflection: Man’s supreme achievement in the world is communication from personality to personality” Karl Jasper

Reflection: I do agree that communication is man’s greatest achievement but the problem is that most of us are not very good at it. Our technical advances in communication have been far and wide, and people still struggle with the most important form of communication–face to face conversations. Many find it difficult to do in their places of work and others find it most difficult to accomplish with those we love and live with. Maybe this situation has been with us forever but I have been increasing worried and aware of the ineffectiveness of most of our interpersonal communication. It is rare to find a friend or group of colleagues who opening and sincerely share what really matters. My belief is that this situation has evolved  because of the hectic pace we are now living, or because we are just unwilling to share our feelings or truly listen and understand others and possibly it is because we have never learned how to effectively communicate. I have never seen a class on listening and communication in our public schools but a lot of emphasis on reading, math and science.  Yet communication has been seen as one of the biggest problems for failure in marriages and the workplace.  This interpersonal communication deficit in modern times affects the all the major institutions of our life from politicians to constituents, unions to management, doctors and patients and most of all parents to children. Communication is the lifeblood of every relationship.

Action Activity: In the next 24 hours pick a communication skill like listening and reflecting feelings with someone who generally you ignore or tune out. Capture your observations and learning.  Remember the Rule of Change says” Things do not remain the same. If they don’t get better, they get worse.”  Good Luck 

Daily Quote and Reflections: Thoreau’s take on problem solving and “root” change

Daily quote and Reflection: 

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” –Walden 

Reflection: Thoreau was certainly a man who march to his own drummer. Cities and towns and urban life did not inspire or ignite his curiosity and creativity. It was nature and all its beauty and wonderment that trigger his perspective on life. I wonder if most appreciate nature so as to change our perspective of what is important in life? Maybe taking 10 minuets a day with nature would slow us down and provide space for renewal and soulful serenity. His ability to observe and become aware that most of our problem solving was superficial ( a thousand hacking at the branches) vs. real critical and deep thinking (striking at the root) provides a vision and a road map for us to stop and look at real causes to climate change, health care issues and equality which are tearing at the fabric of our Democracy

Action Challenge–Are you a root cause problem solver or  a superficial traveler in life?  What ways can you influence more profound change to save our freedoms and gian more personal grounding of what is important in living a Meaningful and Constructive Life?

Want more support in Meaningful and Purposeful Living: Learn and Practice Naikan

These ideas are not new to Meaningful and Purposeful Living (MPL). This awareness can be found in many philosophies and spiritual disciplines. Meaningful living ‘s perspective derives from a Japanese practice called Naikan. This practice has been popularized in the West by the translator and writer of Constructive Living, Dr. David Reynolds. Living (CL) is a Western approach to mental health education based in large part on adaptations of two Japanese psychotherapies, Morita and Naikan therapy.

Meaningful and Purposeful Living is an expansion of CL beyond the Japanese philosophies by incorporating ideas on mindfulness, learning, mental toughness and rational living developed by American psychotherapists and behavioral science researchers and authors such as, Dr. Albert Ellis and Maltsby (RET and RBC) Dr. William Glasser (Reality Therapy)  Tim Gallwey and Dr. James Leoher Inner Game and Mental Toughness) Carl Rogers (Client-Centered therapy) and many others. In essence Meaningful and Purposeful Living principles are an educational method for approaching life realistically and rationally.  The action planning and execution phase  of Meaningful and Purposeful Living emphasizes accepting reality (including feelings), creation of personal vision, focusing on life goals , and doing what needs doing to achieve your full potential.   The gratitude and appreciation aspect of enables us to understand who in the past or present clearly guided and supported us in life. Naikan urges us to  live in recognition of the support we receive from others. One of the techniques used to open up awareness to Naikan’s power is the  use of  questions to help us gain a clearer understanding of reality and clearer view of life. The questions may be asked with reference to a person or an event in ones life. You are encouraged to use these questions as a daily reflection or action for change item. Called “Daily Naikan” practice, these questions provide a frame for assessing the day. I recommend keeping a Meaningful Life Experiences  journal to capture the details of the specific gifts, issues and ways to show gratitude and repay others.

These are the questions for reflection:

1. What have I received from ____?

2. What have I given to ________?

3. What difficulties and obstacles have I caused _____ ?

4. In what way can I show gratitude  for things done for me?

Try them out and add your own questions to see how this practice of giving back and gratitude practice will energize your life and help you stay on purpose.

More on Meaningful Living Manifesto–Exploring a New Mental Framework

“You are on the track to Meaningful Constructive Living (MCL)  when you know yourself, craft a meaningful purpose and do what you need to do.”

Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

“You don’t get to choose how or when you are going to die. So decide how you’re going to live.” Joan Baez

Building on  the Meaningful Constructive Living (MCL) Manifesto I want to talk about how this process is related to the need for continuous improvement and personal change through self-coaching and reflection. Knowing the process and methods for self-coaching and personal change provide  powerful motivation for learning how to life a more fulfilling and meaningful life. The MCL process provides practical tools  that can be used to become more decisive and effective in many choices in different situations.

Change seems to happen when you have stopped “efforting” after what you think you should be and accept and experience–what you are. As you become aware of what is, and of what you want, you become more at ease in establishing a meaningful dialogue with yourself. You need to develop flexibility in tailoring this process to fit your unique situation.  The key to success is for you to become more and more aware of how you are in charge …and all the options and choices that are yours to make in living a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

You can start to take action on your plans; by choosing and doing small changes.  This process will provide a simple structure for self renewal and personal coaching. In order to change– the new behavior must be put in place of old habits and this takes time (thirty to forty-five days). And never forget the old adage—Be the change you want to see happen.

Remember when you have an emotion, you first perceive it. Next you think and believe something about your perceptions. Then you have a gut feeling caused by your thoughts about an idea, person or situation and then you make a choice and act accordingly. Key concept is that actions usually follow feelings (positive or negative) not facts or events. In essence your thoughts cause your feelings so to change your behavior you must think differently. So in order to gain momentum for self-renewal it’s time to start to think rationally about your thinking so you can live a more constructive life. As Maxie Maultsby, M.D. once said “You have to think better before you’ll feel better”. What are you doing today to think clearer about your problems and opportunities in life? Commit today to identify one thing that can improve your life circumstance and do something to change it.

Poem and Reflections: Live it Now…

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”-S.Kierkegaard

Poem: Live it Now…Love through Acceptance by Mark W. Hardwick

My words go unheeded

Appeal for healing and help

Listening is fleeting understanding loss

Is this just an experience in futility.

There appears a chasm between loving and daily living.

Game playing hides self-delusion and mistrust.

Working out ways to build trust are fleeting

By letting you grow in your own way

With time. change happens.

Trusting you means risk and a leap to unknown

Both require courage

There are no guarantees when molds are formed,

Moving targets are hard to hit

Anger is attempt to place blame and

invoke guilt and shame…

After time criticism and fears surface…

We are lost in our selfish “point of view”

Seldom are we “present ” as confusion reins

No rainbow is emerging …

What to do becomes center stage

And no one finds room to let go…

To let go… and provide caring wrap in a hug

Can we find room to move on…move on…

Or are we stuck in this illusion called LOVE.

Only you know the answers to these judgments.

A weapon against self-awareness…it separates us

Sets in motion a spiral to the bottom…

Forgiveness opens the window to who you are

Let’s try acceptance.

Relinquish weapons that push us apart

Self hate reduces and shortens happiness as

Time and others move on as REALITY AND LOVE SLIP AWAY…

Love needs to be experienced –Life needs to be lived…

Live it now…Live it …Live it …

Challenging Old Mental Maps and Perceptions: Act on objective reality

“Life is full of problems and difficulties, the secret to handling them is to handle problems and not  expect to have no problems in life.”  MWH

An event happens–you get fired or you don’t get the job offer. Your brain goes in to overload and you begin to make interpretations, assumptions or make stuff-up about what just happened. The meanings we pile on to event can be accurate (objective) or false, incomplete and inaccurate. Some might even start to play the game of awfulizing. Awfulizing goes like this. A an event happens, B you start making stuff-up mostly negative and C action and results flow from your negative thinking. i’m worthless, poor provider, never  will find another job, my wife will divorce me, and I will be homeless , and finally life isn’t worth living because it is tough and so unfair. In order to be emotionally healthy you need to stop awfulizing.  The technique which I have found helpful in these situations has three parts:

1.  “Stop” take a deep belly breath and focus on relaxing for a few seconds (5-10)

2. Confront the stuff you are making up and reset your rational thinking.

3. Choose a response based on reality and your best interests for the interaction or situation. Ask yourself–What is reality and inconvenient about this situation. Don’t create disaster fantasies or awfulize.

Try the exercise below to help you sharpen your thinking and positive responses using the STOP-CONFRONT-CHOOSE PROCESS Continue reading “Challenging Old Mental Maps and Perceptions: Act on objective reality”

CHANGE is one Certainty in Life–Embrace it with new Mindset

“Winners understand that when the price for maintaining the status quo is higher than the price of not changing–they choose change .”  Darly Conner, Managing at the Speed of Change

If you feel “STUCK” it may be the result of not just sleep walking through life but your inability to envision a better life and deal with reality of change. You may be one of those people who wants to get through life a unscathed and without pain. My message is to not be paralyzed by other people’s negativity, apathy or fatalism. Learn to understand the benefits and energy that change can provided for creating an exciting “life of imagination” by embracing the realities of a changing world..

Continue reading “CHANGE is one Certainty in Life–Embrace it with new Mindset”

Daily Quote and Reflection–Pain and Personal Change

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~Victor Frankl

The process of change begins with a moral grounding and solid reflection on who we are and what we are trying to do in making a difference in life. The ability to look in the mirror and see what we want to see must change to seeing the things in the mirror that are less obvious, like an undesired wrinkle or skin blemish.

It is this craving for meaning that I hear so loud and clear in many people . Despite all your doubts and fears be true to yourself. The searching you are doing is painful but necessary. It is a step on your path of self-discovery and a sign of growth.  It is also a great investment of positive energy. The seeker must learn to accept and live a life of authenticity. Remember–Victor Frankl’s words– “The only lost cause is the one we give up on before we enter the struggle.”

Reflection: When will the time come when we do more than just speak these words but actually implement them in action? Maybe we all need to just start with ourselves. I mean in all situations try to think first about others, be kind , respectful, tolerant, non-judgmental  and accepting of differences. These small interpersonal changes might get the ball rolling to “ the civil state” most of us want and need to live healthy and productive lives.

Message for President Obama– Inspirational leaders listen,tell stories and assert beliefs.

“A story can translate dry, abstract numbers into compelling pictures of reality and relevance for listener. Storytelling is a critical skill for all those seeking to be an inspirational leader.”  – Tom Peters

New role for Obama–Facilitator and Assertive Story Teller . Continue reading “Message for President Obama– Inspirational leaders listen,tell stories and assert beliefs.”

President Obama arrives as Advocate In Chief

Our advocate has arrived. Finally, there is some listening and action on the needs and expectation of all Americans at the White House—solve our problems and produce results. By being an advocate the President can rebuild trust and credibility with the folks who elected him; ensure positive change by meeting and exceeding constituents expectations and adding value to their “quality of life” not pain; and build an empathic government through listening and acting on priority problems; such as HCR and more jobs… and more Continue reading “President Obama arrives as Advocate In Chief”

Let’s Get The Record Straight

When the interests of business subvert the public good, courageous leaders step forward speak truthfully, clearly and concisely on behalf of the greater intergenerational politic.  This goes against the grain of today’s quarter to quarter wall street point of view.  The forces aligned against the voices who dare to speak the truth will effect change only so long as they are willing to speak up.