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Look Ahead

April 21, 2014

A little over two years ago, I began mountain biking. What began, as an activity to replace playing basketball when my knees began causing me problems, has become a passion that I can’t seem to get enough of. In addition to the health benefits and the low impact on my knees, I love the many challenges the sport has to offer. One of the challenges of riding off road trails is effectively negotiating all the obstacles. This requires riders to look ahead.

I have learned from experience that when I look back while riding, even for a moment, I almost always go off the trail. When I look ahead, I am able to see and avoid obstacles. Looking ahead works best when you look where you want to go. I also notice when I look ahead and I focus on the obstacles instead of where I want to go, I often run into those obstacles.

Looking ahead applies to life as well as mountain biking. As we look ahead and focus where we want to go, we have a much better chance of achieving our desired outcomes and goals. There are reasons to look back while riding and in life. I look back when riding to know if another rider is coming up behind and wants to pass. This must be done very briefly to avoid crashing. Another reason to look back is to compare current times with past times to measure improvement.
Mountain Bike CrashMountain Biking

Out of six of our 2.5 day intensive leadership classes, we have only one class that looks back. All the other classes are focused on looking ahead. When a student brings up challenges of the past, the trainers ask, “What will you do differently?” They ask the student to look ahead and to focus on desired results. In our Power Communication class we encourage the student to look back for a brief moment for one purpose, to help the student look ahead.

Let us look ahead to individual and organizational success. Look for the outcomes you wish to achieve. There are and will be obstacles to overcome. Keep your eye on your goal. Look back to measure your growth. If you find you are hitting obstacles and going off the trail, refocus and look ahead.

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10 Stress Reducing Habits

February 12, 2013

Healthy habits can protect you from the harmful effects of stress. Here are 10 positive healthy habits you may want to develop.

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  1. Talk with family and friends.
    A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.
  2. Engage in daily physical activity.
    Regular physical activity relieves mental and physical tension. Physically active adults have lower risk of depression and loss of mental functioning. Physical activity can be a great source of pleasure, too. Try walking, swimming, biking or dancing every day.
  3. Accept the things you cannot change.
    Don’t say, “I’m too old.” You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, love and help others.
  4. Remember to laugh.
    Laughter makes you feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you’re alone.
  5. Give up the bad habits.
    Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, decide to quit now.
  6. Slow down.
    Try to “pace” instead of “race.” Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.
  7. Get enough sleep.
    Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. If you can’t sleep, take steps to help reduce stress and depression. Physical activity also may improve the quality of sleep.
  8. Get organized.
    Use “to do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time. For example, start by organizing just one part of your life — your car, desk, kitchen, closet, cupboard or drawer.
  9. Practice giving back.
    Volunteer your time or return a favor to a friend. Helping others helps you.
  10. Try not to worry. The world won’t end if your grass isn’t mowed or your kitchen isn’t cleaned. You may need to do these things, but today might not be the right time.
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Change Your Altitude

December 10, 2012

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Imagine flying in a balloon and looking at yourself and your situation from a higher altitude.

 

An intelligent and motivated executive may be negatively impacting their co-workers without realizing it. A small business owner may have a vision of what is possible; they invest countless hours and energy to achieve their vision, along the way that vision may get clouded in the din of day to day operations. In both cases, a different perspective can be very effective.

 

This lack of clarity may cause the impact of your actions to not be aligned with your intentions. According to a 2010 study, “senior leader reputation can drive employee commitment by as much as 41%.”

 

In these cases it is helpful to partner with someone who can help us see more clearly.  A trusted adviser or coach can work with you to change your perspective. Executive coaches use a process to help you take an elevated view of things. A skilled coach can help you see with your mind’s eye, your interactions at work or in your personal life. With practice you will be able to adjust your approach to bring your behavior in alignment with your intentions. 

 

In addition to working with a coach there are others ways to change the altitude of your perspective. One highly effective way to get an elevated view of your reputation and to see things more clearly is through a 360 evaluation. This formal process allows you to compare your perspective of your reputation and compare it to up 16 other people. You may choose from among direct reports, peers, family members and more.

 

A less formal method of seeing yourself and your situations more clearly is from trusted and honest advisers. Work with people who know you well and ask them to lend their unbiased feedback.

 

Executives will benefit from taking time to gauge the impact they are having within the organization. Working with a coach or trusted adviser will provide the change in altitude necessary improve your results and will help you be more effective in whatever role you are in.

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The 5 Things You Can Do to Lower Your 2012 Business Taxes

December 10, 2012

Spencer Horn:

Scott is an exceptional tax adviser. I highly recommend him!

Originally posted on Scott W. Taylor, CPA:

The sun is setting on the 2012 tax year and there are many changes to the tax code on the horizon. Business owners all across the country should be aware of the changes that lie ahead. This is not the year to sit on the fence about tax decisions.  Taxpayers should coordinate their tax planning immediately with a tax advisor to plan for the new tax laws that are going into effect or not being extended from 2012. There will be a lot of surprises if taxpayers don’t plan appropriately for their respective circumstances. There are five points in particular that I am advising clients to consider as we go into 2013, with expected uncertainty and change that is pending:

  1. One of the surprises for taxpayers is the drastic changes to Internal Revenue Code 179 deductions related to property, equipment and improvements placed in service for businesses.  Deduction levels are…

View original 581 more words

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Remember that overnight success usually

September 10, 2012

Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years. -Anonymous

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10 Ideas for Your Pursuit of Happiness

August 19, 2012

If you are like most of us on the planet, you are searching for happiness in your life. Where do you believe we find happiness: fame, riches, power? Do you know someone that has these things and is not happy? Or conversely has none of these things and is supremely happy? I believe that each of us has it within our power to be happy. How is it done? Here are a few simple rules which I find make a difference:

1. Increase your gratitude: Increasing your feelings of gratitude can impact your happiness and so much more. When I am frustrated or upset, I am thinking about what is wrong in my life. Since we get what we focus on, dwelling on frustrations will only erode our happiness. The next time you are experiencing frustration that robs you of happiness, I invite you to focus on an event in your life that brings you intense feelings of gratitude. It could be the birth of a child or an act of kindness that was proffered on your behalf, etc. Our minds cannot focus on negative and positive feelings at the same time. If your gratitude feelings are strong enough, they will quickly chase away your frustrations and negative feelings.

2. Do something for someone else: For many, the pursuit of happiness is a self-centered process. However, when you take a moment to stop thinking about how events and people impact you and think about how you impact others, you will be much closer to your goal. Helping someone else will allow you to take your focus off your own challenges. It will energize you, give you a sense of value and contribution. Focusing on others who may have needs greater than your own will also increase your gratitude for what you have. You don’t have to look far for opportunities to help someone else. Nor do you have to go to great lengths to make a difference. Take time to notice someone in need. Listen, console, give of your time and labor, write a note or letter, give a gift, etc.

3. Look for the good: Look for the good in every situation. No matter how bleak things may seem, there is always good that may come. I know from personal experience that when something I perceive is negative happens to me, I have a choice. I can feel self pity and become depressed, or I can use my creative energy to focus on what good may come. I found that that as I look back on events that were challenging, I invariably gained experienced or developed talents that I might not have had, but for the challenging experience. Looking for the good puts our creative energy to work for us in our pursuit of happiness.

4. Surround yourself with good: Be very careful about what you put into your mind. make sure what you read, watch and listen to reinforces your happiness. Our minds are the most powerful computers in the universe. They search and find whatever we program them to find. This means everything we put into our minds will take us further or closer to our goal of happiness. Surround yourself with good people who will hold you accountable to your goals and will let you know when are off course. Make sure you read good books, listen to good music and watch only media that reinforces good.

5. Find life balance: I know many people who feel great fulfillment in their work, so they neglect other areas of their life. The best way to find happiness is to find balance in many areas of life including: financial; emotional; spiritual; physical; relational; recreational, and intellectual. You may find that all of these pursuits are interrelated. I personally find my self out of balance often. However, when I take the time to work on life balance, I feel greater happiness.

6. Exercise: This is a part of life balance. Exercise releases chemicals that can help us feel great and think more clearly. Remember life balance. Some feel that since exercise makes them feel good, more is better. An excessive focus on any pursuit may take us further from our goal.

7. Develop your talents: Learn something new. improving your abilities brings a sense of satisfaction and increases your ability to help yourself and others.

8. Avoid criticizing others: Along with looking for the good, avoid criticizing others. We find what we look for. More importantly, how we treat others has a way of coming back to us. Call it karma, law of the harvest, universe or what you will. Thinking good of others will do much to bring those good thoughts back to us.

9. Let go of the past: While it is true that we have control over out thoughts, we can’t always control what happens to us. When something bad happens, it is hard to think of the good. Holding on to negative feelings about something or somebody will only rob us of reaching our goal of happiness. We have the power to give meaning to thoughts. They can only control us if we give them power to do so. Letting go of the past requires us reframe our thoughts. For some, this process may be difficult and require professional assistance. Being willing to get help if you need it is a good thing and will help you get one step closer to being happy.

10. Live by a morale code: Some people believe anything goes when pursuing happiness. When you choose to be disciplined in following a moral code, you are closer to finding happiness. A friend of mine shared his experience with this principle with me. When his children were young, he and his wife set boundaries of behavior. They had friends that took a different approach with their children. They chose to let their children behave without boundaries or restrictions. This couple would criticize my friend for being strict with their children. My friend and his wife were more interested in being parents than friends. As the children grew older the results of the two approaches was clear. The children of my friend loved their parents and respected them. They had a strong rewarding relationship. Their friends children did not respect their parents. They were self centered and spoiled.

It is not the events or situations of our lives that determine happiness. Rather, it is our own behavior and thought process. I am sure there are many more ways to be happy than I have listed above. I would love to hear from you. What have you found that makes you happy?

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Happiness is a Choice?

August 16, 2012

I have heard that events that happen to us in life are neither “good” nor “bad”. These are only titles we choose to assign to how we feel about things that happen to us. Further, I have learned that our happiness depends on our assignment of the “good”or “bad” titles we assign to these events in our lives. Do you believe that?

It is my opinion and experience that our happiness absolutely depends on how we decide to feel bout the events in our lives and consequently the actions we take or don’t take in response to those feelings. This is not to say that I do not believe in good or bad, I do. I believe there is great good in the world and I believe there is terrible evil. What I have learned that our happiness does not depend upon only good things happening to us all the time. Thank goodness for that, because I do not know of a single person that has what most would interpret as good things happen to them all the time. Since we all don’t have good things happen to us all the time, why are there happy people in the world? Why aren’t we all unhappy since bad things happen to all of us? The answer is choice!

Let me illustrate by using a few personal example: My father had a very successful business. He provided a specialized color separation service for the printing industry for over 20 years. He was looking for a new accountant. At the time, I was seventeen and I knew that one of my church leaders was an accountant. I told my dad that this man was an accountant and he must be a good man because he was a member of our church. It turned out that this man saw an opportunity in my father’s trust and worked to take control of the company. Because of the stress of the situation, my father had a massive stroke at age 59. He was in intensive care for a month. He lost his business, his home, his wife and almost all his earthly possessions. We were devastated as a family. There were some member of the family that criticized my father for his poor decision to hire this account after he began recovering from the stroke. Personally, I was devastated because I lost the father I knew who loved life and loved being active. I lost the future opportunity to run the business and reap the rewards of family succession. Our family felt by all accounts, these events were bad and we had reason to be unhappy. My father certainly had reason to be depressed and feel sorry for himself. Instead, he taught me a very valuable lesson.

My father chose to look at these events as good. He recognized that he could be angry at the person who defrauded him. However, that would just make him miserable. Instead, he decided to forgive the person. This took a huge burden off his shoulders. No longer did he waste precious thoughts on revenge or anger. My father had worked very hard his entire life. He rarely took time for himself. Now, he had time to study and learn. He took time to do much of what he had not done up until now. After these events, my father was almost always happy friendly and outgoing to people he met. Even though he was partially paralyzed from the stroke, he chose to laugh at his awkwardness and slurred speech. He chose to look at every day as a gift.

I believe this is an example of an event that could definitely be interpreted as bad. However, since my father decided to look at the event in a positive light, he took the opportunity to use his time in ways that he never did before his stroke and loss off business. Because of his choice, he was happy until the day he died at age 79 on February 16, 2008. I miss my father, and I am grateful for the valuable lesson he taught me about choosing happiness. There are some members of my family who have decided to look at these events as negative. To this day, they hold resentment and frustration that robs them of happiness. How can the same event produce such different attitudes and feelings of happiness? It has nothing to do with whether the events are good or bad and 100 percent to do with how we choose to interpret if events are good or bad. In fact, I believe that events that many would interpret as bad can have the biggest opportunity for good and even happiness in our life. The choice is ours.

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