Week 20 – If Not Now, When?

Hello Readers.

For the month of February we have been reading Scroll V in Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World” The message of this scroll is presented to us in the first line: “I will live this day as if it is my last.” You hear this statement frequently perhaps you’ve even said it. Do you actually follow through with it? Sadly for most of us the answer is “no”.  I know that I have had that recording playing in my head saying “Tomorrow… I take care of it tomorrow”.  As this class progresses there is a new recording that plays in my head. It says “Do It Now!” Sometimes it even drowns out the old recording!

My mind entertains the idea of how I live my day more than is ever has before.  Perhaps because I’m reading it each day or it could be the fact that I recently celebrated my 55th birthday and I realized that I might have fewer days ahead than behind (or not).  Recently I find myself thinking “what did I accomplish today?”. If it’s gonna be my last day I want it to be… happy, adventuros, exciting, peaceful, loving, successful, productive, all of the above! (Hummm If I manage all of that in one day my cause of death may be exhaustion!)

The lesson I get from reading this scroll is to focus on today, focus on NOW.  It really is all we have. We can look back at yesterday and remember it with a smile or a tear.   We can’t live there no matter how hard we try and just to be clear… we shouldn’t try.  Attempting to recapture that feeling you had some yesterdays ago is an exercise in futility.  You are a different person today. You feel different, you think different, you may even look different, you ARE different. You may find that feelings that fit like an old comfy pair of shoes in the past may be too confining today.   When we focus on the past too much we miss the miracles that happen today.

The same is true when we only focus on tomorrow. I believe that tomorrow is an exercise in patience. You spend time planning for it, then now intervenes and changes your plans.  Today you can carry hope for tomorrow in your heart, but make sure that you leave room for all that is today, all that is now.  Tomorrow is filled with maybes some good some bad but none of them are guaranteed to transpire.

So strive to live this day as if it is your last. Focus on the now. Smell a flower. Listen to a baby laugh and allow yourself to get caught up in the sound of perfect innocence. Experience the serenity of a sunrise. Tell family and friends that you love them. Make a new friend. Reconnect with an old one.  Welcome the day and thank the night.  Do one thing that makes you uncomfortable. Learn something new. Smile!  If today turns out not to be your last… be grateful and do it all again.

Below is one price paid for not focusing on now.
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Week 19 – When in doubt, punt??

 

 

“In seeking truth, we are seeking ultimate cause; we know that every human experience is an effect; then if we may ascertain the cause, and if we shall find that this cause is one which we can consciously control, the effect or experience will be within our control also.

Human experience will then no longer be the football of fate, a man will not be the child of fortune, but destiny. Fate and fortune will be controlled as readily as a captain controls his ship, or an engineer his train.” – George Haanel Master Key 19-2 & 19-3

Hello readers!

I hope this week finds you well. When I read the quote above it sounded like a cry to live your life by design and not by default. When you live life by default your experiences are governed by that which is either unknown to you or that which out of your control.  Each day may be spent thinking “I wonder what’s gonna happen to me today?”. Always going with the flow could lead to flowing off a cliff.

punt

Perhaps one is born into a life of fortune; with everything laid out for them, never wanting or needing.  These seemingly blessed souls can also live life by default.  I ask where is the control, where is the spice, the motivation to grow. Unless the desire to do more, have more, and be more exists within…even those with plenty can compare their lives to the football of fate. They to can spend their days feeling as if they are constantly being kicked and passed around, constantly shifting from one direction to another!

I have lived my life by default. It hasn’t been all bad. There have been some amazing times that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  There have also been some times that I almost wish had never happened. I say almost because I know that life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows and that the experience of life consists of ups and down.  It’s what we do with the ups and downs that define our character.

I learned that a few years back. Oh I had heard it all before but it took time to get through my years of living by default just to really hear it.  Each one of those downs, each thing that doesn’t go the way we want is a checkpoint. At each checkpoint you decide.  You decide if you are going to punt or pass.  Each day is an opportunity to learn and grow. Each time we grow we put more tools in our toolbox. The more tools we have the more options available to us.  We can choose the experiences we desire.  We learn that… …if I do b happens! We learn the cause and the effect.  We have found that truth.  If we can control the cause we can control the outcome.

pass

Now while some things are still by default, I know that I have to ability to create my destiny.  I’m getting better at seeking the truth in life.  Each day I add another tool to my toolbox and grant myself more options. The more I know, the more I grow.  I spend my days reviewing the playbook of life and deciding if I should punt or pass… oh wait there’s a new option… I think I’ll keep the ball and dive into the end zone!

score

Week 18 – What’s Next

questionsHello Readers

Those of us that are part of the Master Key Course were asked a question this week. It’s was a seemingly simple question. At the same time the question was capable of spawning lots of other questions.  Questions that on one hand require deep thought.  On the other hand the answers are usually entirely simple.  The hard part was my willingness to accept the answers I discovered.

Knowing what needs to be done and actually doing it.  That is the battle I have fought for many years. Most times I win…Sometimes I don’t. Regardless of the outcome I persist until I succeed.

How about you… will you persist until you succeed? Start by asking yourself this one question. Then see what other questions surface.  If you can answer those questions most likely you will be able to answer…

What would the person I intend to become do next?

Then you can decide if you will do what needs to be done, whatever that may be!

Week 17HJ – The Hero’s Journey – Mental Roller Coaster

be-the-heroDamn the Mirror.  It’s being held up yet again.  Time to ask and answer the hard questions. Many of us go through life day by day thinking we have this life thing figured out. Then unexpectedly something happens and we are called upon to step outside of our daily routine and pick up the gauntlet for some worthy or necessary cause.

Our initial reaction is sometimes to question our knowledge of or ability to complete the task at hand. Other times answering the call means giving up some part of our lives or ourselves that we are not ready or yet able to relinquish. Being creatures of habit change is hard.  There is comfort in sameness.  There is also boredom is sameness, there is stagnation in sameness.

As humans we tend to be walking contradictions; wanting more out of life but frequently hesitant to implement the change(s) that will give us more. Tired of the same routine but so programmed by our blueprint, so entrenched in our ways that we don’t believe change is even an option let alone an option we are capable of executing. This same type of scenario plays out in movies every day.

The story opens with the star; our hero or heroine living a life of normality.  They are presented with a problem that only they can solve.  For a multitude of reasons the star is in denial about their ability to fix or the insistence that they are the answer to said problem. Attempting to ignore the situation proves a futile effort as something catastrophic forces our star to leap into action and step into their heroic role.

While life is rarely as dramatic and scripted as the Movie of the Week, the message is the same.  We frequently face obstacles in our life that we have the power to overcome.  Even when we doubt our abilities; that power still remains. As humans go we continually wage inner battles with ourselves.  “I can do this…no I can’t, sure I can… I think…Maybe” this kind of mental roller coaster runs all the time.  In the Movies it always gets wrapped up nicely with a bow and our star rides off into the sunset or some such nonsense

 

fork-in-the-road

 

In real life… the back & forth battle does not always end so neatly.  If we choose to we can write the chapters in our lives.  We make the decision whether to walk the hero’s journey or decide to live life by default.  We must remember that even no action is an action however indirect. So don’t curse the mirror.  Embrace it and play through the alternative endings on the DVD of life and decide if yours the the journey of the average human or that of the hero.

 

Week 17 – The Pursuit of…

Hello Readers,

This week while reading Haanel paragraphs 17:28 & 17:29 stood out for me.

17:28 “You may be pursuing the symbols of power, instead of power itself. You may be pursuing fame instead of honor, riches instead of wealth, position instead of servitude.  In either event you will find that they turn to ashes just as soon as you overtake them.”

17:29 “Premature wealth or position cannot be retained, because it has not been earned.  We get only what we give, and those who try to get without giving always find that the law of compensation is relentlessly bringing about an exact equilibrium.”

We are all on a journey, but how many of us know where we are going or more so where we truly want to go?  After reading these paragraphs I began to wonder if I’m focusing on the “having” or the “being”.  As a result of our humanity I am sure that there are times where it is only about the having.  I would like to think if we move beyond the having, beyond the surface of it’s symbolism that we move closer to the “being”. When we want a thing it is because it holds meaning for us. It symbolizes something we want to express to others about ourselves.

Think of the person that just won the lottery and suddenly they wear the fancy clothes, drive the flashy car, and have all the symbols of success.  Then one day you notice they no longer wear the fancy clothes or drive the flashy car if they still have a car.  Seems like a case of premature wealth and an equalization by the law of compensation.

Or the person that cheats their way into a position of power without obtaining the skill and experience to fulfill the role.  They soon find themselves attempting to carry a load that they have neither the emotional strength, mindset or mental fortitude to bear.

Haanel also wrote 17:11 “… There is always the cry to have but never the cry to be. …”

On my journey there with always be something shiny, something cool, something distracting.  My hope is that I have learned enough to know that shiny & cool is alright, in fact they have their place.  My hope is that I remember to look  beyond the tip of the iceberg, beyond the surface, beyond the shiny and the cool and look within. Look within to find what is real, what is true. I pray that my cry is not just to have but ultimately to be.

Week 16 – Flashcards & Rabbit Holes

Hello All!

Thinkwk-16 back, back to when you were in school…grammar school, early grammar school.  Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. I especially remember the Arithmetic.  Learning that 2 + 2 = 4 and 3 x 3 = 9 was somewhat fun for me. (What do you expect from a nerd/geek) One tool that helped me through was flashcards.  I remember practicing my multiplication & subtraction alone and with my great grandmother. I remember them being quite effective in helping me learn and remember. 10 – 4 = 6 and 7 x 9 = 63.

As time went on flashcards evolved.  There were flashcards for:

  • Reading (See Spot Run! Run Spot! Run)
  • Spelling (ch – air chair!)
  • Colors (red, green, blue, yellow)
  • Shapes (triangle, circle, square, rectangle)

Pretty much any list of items one might need to remember could and can be found on flashcards. Thinking erroneously, I figured my flashcard days were over. At the age of 54 enter my Master Key course and flashcards.

Simply put, we use index cards…LOTS of index cards. On the cards we write personal characteristics, accomplishments and daily points of gratitude. While the task of writing who you are, what you’ve done and what you are thankful for in life is more challenging than you might think, the benefit of reviewing those events is equal parts overwhelming and rewarding. There is power in accomplishment.

There are mornings when I awaken and my first conscious thought is ” I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy” or something equally uplifting.  Then there are the other mornings. Thankfully infrequent mornings. The mornings where my mind goes down a dark rabbit hole. In that hole I might find thoughts of failure, despair or worse illness or death of myself or a loved one. (Please remember I said infrequent!)  Climbing out of that hole takes time and persistence.  If I choose to stay in the hole – realize that your mood IS a choice – my day isn’t too productive.  I’m grumpy, snarky or just plain “out of sorts” (kinda like a “temporal displacement” or “phase variance” for my fellow trekkies (remember nerd reference above)).

Recently during one of those infrequent dark mornings, I discovered a new ladder out of that hole. While packing my bag for work one grumpy morning, I dropped my cards and they scattered. Aggravated, I picked them up and inadvertently started reading. I read about things I was grateful for…

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Memories of deceased loved family & friends
  • Walking in the rain on a warm day
  • Loving and being loved.
  • Laughter
  • Sunrises
  • Trees

I read about things I’ve accomplished:

  • I flew a kite
  • Got a tattoo (ok 16 tattoos)
  • Built a snowman (so it only had one ball of snow! I never liked winter!)
  • Viewed the world from the top of Aspen Mountain
  • Given a sermon at church
  • Hugged someone until they felt better
  • Witnessed the birth of both grandchildren
  • Married an amazing woman

I read about characteristics I hope I exemplify

  • Friendly
  • Loving
  • Compassionate
  • Protective
  • Humorous
  • Ethical
  • Helpful
  • Courageous
  • Dependable

These are just a few of the cards I read. Each card represented a rung on the ladder, a step I took out of the rabbit hole.  When the rubber band was placed on the last stack, I looked up. I looked around and discovered that outside the rabbit hole, the day was bright and welcoming.  The foreboding thoughts that threatened to dictate my day had been masterfully defeated by
simple 3 x 5 flashcards.

Next time you run your weekly errands pick up a few hundred index cards & a good marker. Create your own flashcards and use them next time you crawling_out_of_the_rabbit_holedoubt your worth, your ability, or your blessings. Write until you can’t think of anything else to write.  Then ask someone that knows you well “What else have I done?” Create a card for everything they remind you of. Then each day write on at least 3 cards things you are grateful for.  When you accomplish something, create a card for it. If someone compliments you, create a card for it.  Before you know it, you too will have a ladder leading you out of your own personal rabbit hole!

 

Week 15 – Courage

warrior

Hello readers!

This week we were introduced to a way to focus on virtues we would like to improve within ourselves.  The Master Key system has slightly modified an exercise that was done by Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin would focus on a different virtue each week and track when he didn’t live up to that virtue.  Simply said, he tracked his failures! For instance… If he was focusing on maintaining self control and he lost control he would track that incident. At the end of the day/week he could instantly see how many times he failed!!!  Well that’s uplifting… NOT!!

Throughout this course I’ve learned that what we think about increases.  Why would you ever want to increase your faults.  Where’s the improvement in that, where’s the growth?  The Master Key twist???  Yes, focus on the virtues you are striving to improve. But rather than tracking the failures, keep track of when you see that virtue displayed in others and in yourself. Feed and attend to each virtue as if it were your favorite plant and witness it growing and thriving.

This week I focus on courage. dictionary.com defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”  I spent the beginning of this week looking for it. No I’m not looking for the hero running into the burning building to save the toddler who is in turn saving the kitten. While that would be an amazingly courageously act,  I’m looking for and finding everyday quiet courage.   I’m looking for the courage that doesn’t get news coverage but might be talked about at the water cooler at break time.  

I’m seeing the courage it takes to drive in Chicagoland rush hour traffic everyday. I see the courage in the eyes of people that awaken each day knowing that they are and will continue to be in pain. I am witness to people risking it all in pursuit of what they want out of life.  I have friends that I consider courageous social justice warriors. I honor them here…Angel, Ashley, Charlotte, Foo, Katherine & Jean, Paul & Dorothy, Jeannie, Warren, Chuck and sooo many more) I see courage in the woman that finally acts upon her decision to leave the abusive partner.  It takes courage to look your partner in the eye and truthfully say “I love you”.  I’ve found that it even takes courage to look yourself in the eye and utter those same words. 

My Master Key guide Nancy O. recently told me that she thought I was courageous when at work I pick up the phone knowing that the person on the other end has a problem.  I felt as if I was just showing up.  She said that showing up takes courage.  In the past I’ve thought about the requirements of my job as a Desktop Support Analyst  I never realized that courage was one of them.  Courage is evident in those willing to trying new things or let go of what no longer fulfills them. I see courage when people come out of whatever closet they find themselves in and decide to live life as their true selves.  Courage is required just to be You. It doesn’t mean that you have no fear. It means acknowledging that fear and pushing through anyway.

I feel like I should go do something monumental.  With the right perspective, looking for courage is an empowering experience. Take a few brief moments from your busy day and look for courage in others. Then take another moment and look in the mirror.  You will find it there as well.

Week 14 – Ooooo! I’ve Uncovered a Secret!!

covered-secret

Hello Readers,

This week I listened to Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret” again.  I have listened many times before. It seems that each time I hear something new or a concept gets reinforced.  This time around few things stood out for me.

This time I saw the parallels between The Strangest Secret and our Master Key course.

  • Law of Growth…
    • EN – We become what we think about.
    • MK – Whatever we think about grows. What we forget athropies.

If we consistently focus on sickness we find ourselves sick. If we consistently entertain the thought that we are whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy over time we become whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy!

  • Your subconscious mind is like the soil in a farm.
    • EN – Nightingale uses the example a farm with 2 crops.  The first Corn the second a poisonous plant called Nightshade.
    • MK – Subby doesn’t know the difference

We’ve learned that the subconscious doesn’t know the difference between good & bad, or the truth from a lie.  It takes what we tell it and in return gives us more of the same. The soil in Nightingale’s example performs in the same manner.  You plant Corn you get Corn. You plant poisonous Nightshade… you get poisonous Nightshade! The soil doesn’t know the difference.  You reap what you sow.

  • The use of Cards
    • EN – Advises us to write the thing you want more than anything else on a card, carry it with you at all times and look at if often.
    • MK – Service Cards, POA Card, Movie Trailer Card, Accomplishment Cards, Characteristics Cards, Gratitude Cards.

The idea is to have a quick easy way to keep your goal(s) (DMP & PPNs) front and center in your mind, and the ability reinforce them by way of repetition. (Remember the Law of Growth. Don’t you just love the interconnectedness of it all.)  Let’s just say I’ve got at least 150 index cards in my backpack that I refer to frequently.

  • The belief that you have to do the work
    • EN – Discussing the price to be paid for the life you want Nightingale says: “Action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.”
    • MK – Knowledge does not apply itself.

You can read all the books, take all the courses and attend all the seminars but NOTHING happens until you put into practice what you’ve learned.

The final tidbit was actually a quote from Psychologist – Rollo May: “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity. How often have you heard someone say or even said yourself “…because that’s the way it’s always been done!” With conformity comes mediocrity. Mediocrity leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Where mediocrity prevails there is no spark, no anticipation, no purpose to strive for… no growth!

Lastly I urge you to realize that we must set conformity aside. We must step into our courage and add excitement, anticipation, purpose and growth first to our own lives.  Then as we live courageous lives we shine a light that inspires others and shows them the way.

 

Week 13 – Thankful

What’s up Peeps!?

Gratitude… one of those buzzwords that has been done to death.  Or has it. Can we really be reminded too often to be grateful for the blessings in our lives?  The latest reminder for me came in the form of our Week 13 assignment.  Each day write 3 things you are grateful for on index cards. Mix them in with our accomplishment & characteristics cards… review them often.

This exercise initially feels mundane…hopefully we are all grateful for family, friends, home, health etc etc. the usual. Don’t get me wrong we should be grateful for these.  Even in this “land of plenty” there are multitudes that are without these blessings. I have a journal that inspires me to write 3 things I’m grateful for twice a day, once when I wake up and again before bed.  So I got past the easy ones pretty quickly.  This exercise has forced me to stop and think to myself “What else am I grateful for?”.

The exercise is inspiring me to stop and smell the proverbial roses, to think twice before allowing frustration and anger to set in. It is helping me to simplify and look for what is good and right.  It is teaching me that gratitude can be found when & where we least expect it. An example of this happened to me before leaving work yesterday for this much needed holiday break.

I stopped in the Building Management Office and simply said “Merry Christmas” to the lady in the office. I went on my way and didn’t think about it again. Later when checking work email I noticed that I received an email from her.  I opened it and discovered that she was thanking me for saying Merry Christmas.  She said that she was having a horrible day and that I made her smile.  She told me that she really appreciated my words.  WOW!

We never really know what the other person is going through.  We never really know what effect a simple act will have on a person or situation. I am grateful that I was able to brighten someone’s day, even though I wasn’t aware of the impact of my actions.   I now have 3 new cards to write.

  • Today I am also grateful for –
    • the good manners taught to me by my great grandmother
    • the ability to bring a bit of happiness to someone’s day
    • the lady in the office that made me realize our potential for impacting others.

As you enjoy the holiday season, remember to be thankful for the little things.  Little things sometime have a huge impact.

 

thank-you-1191350_640

Week 12 – Talking to Myself

Hello readers!talking-to-myself

Throughout my life I have talked to myself.  Slow down!! There’s no need to call for professional help, there’s good reasons for it! I was raised as an only child by my semi-strict great grandparents. The limitations impressed upon me as a kid were done more out of caution & fear than anything resembling mean spiritedness.  They were both born in the late 1800’s so even though they watched the world change, they didn’t always understand it.  The closest cousins near my age were 400 miles away and I didn’t meet my 2 amazing half sisters until I was 17.  Kids in school usually tried to pick on me, so I spent a lot of time ignoring them.  Luckily, I was a smart kid and usually I found myself hanging with and defending those that would have been known as the misfits.  So you ask why I talked to myself!?  Playtime at home as an only child required imagination.  Imagination leads to pretending leads to role playing leads to talking to myself!

Enter adulthood… working with computers all day will make you talk to yourself.  You know what I mean; when the computer tells you that it “can’t find the printer” in frustration you lift the printer over your head in front of the monitor, shake it vigorously and yell “It right here you stupid piece of %#$^*&!!@”.  You tell others that you are talking to the computer (as if that makes it better!).  They give you that slightly concerned half smile… and move their desk & chair a little farther away!   This has gone on for most of my adult life… I no longer care if people are scared! (LOL) My computer speak now consists of me calmly informing the machine that it will do my bidding or else I will format it’s hard drive and rebuild it!

Enter September 2016 I find a group of people that not only don’t care if I talk to myself… they actually encourage and in some cases require it! Nirvana!  They want me to read the current chapter out loud every night.  I walk through the house singing/speaking emotionally charged affirmations like “Do it Now!”, “I can be what I will to be!” and my personal favorite “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy!”  I stand in front of a mirror reading a poem and declaring my love for… me!! The latest pushed even my limits of talking to myself.  It was an exercise where I read a one sentence declaration of my DMP (Definite Major Purpose) in the mirror for 50 that’s FIFTY minutes out loud!

Fifty minutes seems like a long time to do such an exercise.  Actually it goes pretty fast and you go through a lot of feelings and different phases in that time.  First there’s the “What the hell? Am I really doing this, I feel like an idiot!” phase. Next comes the “impostor syndrome” phase. In this phase you don’t believe what you are saying so you wonder how can you expect anyone else to believe it. If you persist you find yourself in the “believer” phase.  In this phase you believe what you are reading and you know without a doubt that you can achieve and in fact already have achieved your DMP.  It is likely that you may flip flop between the imposter & believer phases.. If you keep going the final message is You persist…You win!

Let’s all have a conversation with ourselves and WIN!