Aliveatwork's Blog


How Do You Solve A Problem Like …

At any given time in life we are all faced with problems and challenges.

It’s a fact … you can’t navigate through life and avoid having problems.

Problems will come no matter how hard you wish them away. What you believe about problems and the actions you take as a result of your beliefs will determine your level of happiness as well as your ability to work through them towards a solution.

That said … here are 6 lessons I have learned about problems:

  1. Whatever problem you are experiencing … chances are someone else is dealing with one that would make your problem look like a sneeze in comparison.
  2. While it is our inclination to immediately try to resolve the problem, sometimes it is best to sit in it for a short spell. Why? Just to make sure you are understand and address the cause of the problem and not just the symptom(s).
  3. You can ignore a problem and bury your head in the sand. However, it is just a matter of time before it rears its ugly head  again. Only this time the head will be a little bigger and a lot uglier.
  4. At some point after sitting in a problem (for too long) and not coming up with a solution – the only way out is to take the focus off of yourself and serve others. Self-centered-ness can lead to depression.
  5. You can change your perspective on problems by asking yourself, “What can I learn from this experience? and “How can I benefit from what I am learning?”
  6. If the problem exists … the solution exists simultaneously … you just might not be able to recognize it in the moment. Step back, breathe, and walk away for awhile. When you come back there is a good chance you will see things in a different light and the solution (which may have been there all along) will be more evident.
  7. (Your turn … fill in the blank)

Obviously the list is incomplete. Maybe a great question to ask at this point would be … “So what lessons have you learned from your problems?”

Would you be willing to share your wisdom with the rest of us?

Who knows,  your wisdom might just influence someone who needs a little help today and besides we’d love to hear from you!



Faux Praise … Faux Pas
November 8, 2012, 6:45 am
Filed under: Aliveness, Authentic Leadership, Joe Contrera | Tags: , , ,

Much has been written on the positive effect that praise can have on a person.

Whether it’s an employee, coworker, or your children, healthy praise can help a person to feel good.

Yet there doesn’t seem to be as much written about the negative impact that false praise can have on an individual. This typically happens when the intent is to manipulate or to selfishly serve the needs of the person who is giving praise.

Recently I listened to an audio book written by Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) in 1938 entitled, Outwitting the Devil. It was held back from publication for 73 years because of what Hill wrote about the the church, the government, and the media. It was finally released in 2011 at a time when the challenges our country was facing in 1938 are eerily similar to those we are challenged with today.

In a later chapter Hill writes that one of the most powerful ways a person can drift  from their definite purpose in life and get off-course is if they have an inflated desire for praise and admiration. Hill labeled it as the ego of men and the vanity of women (the word metrosexual wasn’t invented yet).

Now regardless of whether or not you believe Hill is being sexist, the point here is that faux (fake) praise can lead you down a path to faux pas (mistakes).

Think about it … if a person’s sense of self worth and value is tied to external factors such as praise and admiration from others, they are setting themselves up to be redirected by those same outside factors. Some of the greatest con men who ever lived used faux praise as a powerful tool to mislead their victims.

So what about you? How is praise impacting your life?

3 Things Ask Yourself About Praise:

  1. Do I seek praise from others (external) so that I can feel a sense of sense of self worth and value (internal)? Granted everyone needs a pat on the back. However, if you don’t feel valuable on the inside nothing anybody can say from the outside will give your life meaning.
  2. Do I feel a differently when I receive praise from someone of the opposite sex?  Yes, we all like praise, but if you get a much bigger buzz off of a compliment from the opposite sex you might want to pay attention and ask yourself why?
  3. Do I ever give praise in order to manipulate others so that I can get what I want? A good rule of thumb here is to give praise to an individual with no strings attached. Simply give them the compliment and walk away. Hanging around and then asking for something in return will give the other person a sense that they are being manipulated.

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you’re sincere, praise is effective. If you’re insincere, it’s manipulative.”

And that’s all I have to say about that!



Socrates, Plato, and Puppies …

When you think about the great philosophers, who comes to mind?

Aristotle, Socrates, Epicurus, Confucius, Contrera???

Wait a minute, hold the phone, stop the presses, kill the power!!!!

Contrera??? What impact did he have on the world?

While the likes of Socrates and Plato may have changed the way we view the world, it is our personal philosophy that determines how happy we are in our current world.

Why? Because your personal philosophy is simply the culmination of your beliefs. What you believe about money, relationships, education, government, success, love, etc. determines the actions you take and therefore the results that you get. If you aren’t getting the results you want in your life … chances are you’re probably not all that happy.

What you choose to believe today,  in this moment,  has a far greater impact on your life than than what Socrates  may have said 2,480 years ago.

So what is your personal philosophy? What choices are you making in your life?

Below are 3 situations and 3 possible reactions that may help you to gain some clarity on your own personal philosophy:

1. When someone you love makes a mistake do you: A) Get angry and tell them to get there act together. B) Say “don’t worry about it, we all make mistakes.” C) Say “don’t worry about it, everyone makes mistakes” and then spend the next hour lecturing them on how they could avoid making mistakes in the future?

2. If someone shares bad news about a person that you really don’t like do you: A) Think to yourself … good they deserve what they get. B) Think to yourself even though you are not fond of them you still hope they are okay. C) Think to yourself better them than me!

3. When your driving and someone cuts you off do you: A) Slam on the horn and yell an obscenity. B) Smile and let it go. C) Yell, smile and give them the finger as you pass them.

If you answered B to all of the questions than chances are you have a healthy personal philosophy and are reasonably happy. If you answered everything but B to all 3 questions you might ask yourself … how’s that working for you? Are you truly happy?

Sometimes happiness comes down to having a personal philosophy that is based on enjoying the simple things in life and letting go of all the things that create frustration, angst, and that you don’t control .

Maybe the great philosopher Charles Schultz (the creator of Charlie Brown) was right when he said …

“Happiness is a warm puppy!”

I guess if you can’t lick ’em  … might as well join ’em!



An Opportunity of a Lifetime

Webster defines op•por•tu•ni•ty as:

1. an appropriate or favorable time or occasion:
2. a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.

So what might be stopping you from taking advantage of a favorable time or occasion?

Maybe you’ve heard this before …

I would … if it were only the right time.

I would if the economy, situation, recovery, timing, circumstances, or situation were … right!

When I reflect back on some of the greatest opportunities in my life,  it always seemed like at the time, it was never the perfect time to take action.

February 8, 2000. I am sitting on a beach with my mentor overlooking the Sea of Cortez, it’s a turning point in my life.

I want to be a professional speaker and yet I am afraid of unlocking the golden handcuffs that had me locked in to a highly paid job that I had outgrown.

My mentor says to me, “So when will you leave your job and follow your dream?”

“September …  I will resign in September,” I reply.

He asks again only this time louder, almost shouting, “So when will you leave your job and follow your dream?”

I was shaking, I was scared. He was challenging me to walk away from my identity, my security, and everything I had worked toward for 17 years!

23 days later I resigned and my life has never been the same!

And why am I telling you this?

Chances are you have a dream or an idea that you haven’t acted on … yet!

Maybe you hear that inner voice whispering that you are not living the life that you want to live or being the person you know you can be.

Do you find yourself saying, “I will jump when the economy turns around, the election is over, I feel more secure, the stars are aligned, or when things feel more right?”

The truth is …  there is no perfect time, right time, safe time, etc.

There is now! Right now!

Right now is the perfect time to make that move, to start that business, to play big, to take a leap of faith, knowing you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

NOW is an opportunity of a lifetime … you just have to open your eyes and let go of your fear.

So are you ready for your opportunity of a lifetime?



It’s not my Fault … it was the At – titude ….

You’ve heard them …

On television, in the news, at your office, your church, even your kid’s volleyball game!

People complaining and blaming others for their short falls and failures.

It surprises me that they actually believe their failures have nothing to do with themselves. They believe the fault lies with some – thing or some – one else.

I believe the reason many people do not succeed at the level they desire is because they have blocked their path to success with self-imposed obstacles.

Self-imposed obstacles can show up in any number of different ways, however most of them originate from our internal thoughts and beliefs.

So is it possible your path to success might be littered with a few limiting beliefs?

Below is a short list of 10 self-limiting beliefs (obstacles) that could be stopping you.

  1. Believing that your past will determine your future.
  2. Believing that everyone else has what it takes to succeed .. everyone BUT you!
  3. Believing that there is not enough abundance in the world and you must take from others to have enough for yourself.
  4. Believing those old, worn out lies that were handed to you as a child. Beliefs like … “You will never amount to anything because you are not __________ enough or your too _________ (fill-in-the-blanks).”
  5. Believing that other people knows what is best for you.
  6. Believing that you shouldn’t ruffle any one else’s feathers so it’s best to play small to keep the peace.
  7. Believing that you must play the cards you were dealt for the rest of your life (hey, if they can change decks in Vegas … you can change the deck you were dealt … you just have to change what you believe).
  8. Looking at the resources you have and seeing them as obstacles.
  9. Believing that you are responsible for someone else’s obstacles or self-limiting beliefs (thanks to my friend Richard for sharing).
  10. Forgetting that you are extraordinary and powerful beyond measure … yes you are amazing!

When we don’t succeed it is easy to point our finger at something else and say … it was the altitude, it was someone else’s fault that I … lost, looked bad, didn’t deliver, or didn’t win.

It takes a courageous person to own that the reason they are not winning is due to their own self-imposed obstacles.

Zig Ziglar once said that “it is your attitude not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.”

Let me just say in the spirit of Zig …

“Your ability to fly is determined by your ability to remove the self limiting obstacles(beliefs) from your path. The fewer obstacles in your way … the higher you will go!

So what altitude are you cruising at these days?



It’s a Manner of Respect …

I was raised to “respect my elders.”

I was taught that “children should be seen and not heard.”

And if I did those things I would be a well-mannered, well-behaved child.

Not saying it was perfect or right … just saying it is what I was taught.

Nowadays it appears that the pendulum has swung 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

We seem to have very little respect for our elders almost as if they don’t deserve respect. Seeing what teachers have to tolerate in classrooms from students these days is appalling.

Watching a 4 year old in a shopping cart having a melt-down because they can’t have what they want and then smacking their mother while the parent tolerates it simply seems absurd to me. Children are seen and heard so loudly that they seem to be the ones running the family.

I am not saying we should go back to the draconian ways of the past, I just think we need to find a balance, a center when it comes to manners and how we treat each other.

It all boils to respect and the golden rule:

  • You can’t be a parent who doesn’t respect yourself and then demand respect from your children
  • You can’t demand respect from the younger generations if you don’t respect them or model respect for the older generations.

Children want, need, and deserve to be taught self respect. They want, need, and deserve to know that they have self worth and value and that they can make a difference. It’s in our DNA. They need to know you believe in them and sometimes that means not giving them everything they want.

Throwing money at your kids so you don’t have to spend quality time with them or so they don’t have a meltdown is just one way of disrespecting them. It sends the message that they are not valued and they can be bought for a few bucks.

Well mannered individuals are individuals who respect themselves and therefore have the capacity to respect others as well.

So what are you modeling?



Dollars and Sense …
September 20, 2012, 9:01 am
Filed under: Alive @ Work, Alive at Work, Aliveness, Joe Contrera | Tags: , , , ,

Money is an extremely powerful force and much has been written about its impact on people and society.

The current presidential election seems to be juxtaposing the endless greed of the wealthy against the poor less fortunate who struggle to make ends meet.

Yes, money can corrupt and yet on the other hand money can also heal.

As with all things it really boils down to what you believe.

So what do you believe about money?

What did you learn about money growing up as a kid?

For me, money was always something everyone else had. It was something that you earned if and only if you worked extraordinarily hard. And most importantly … there was never enough!

Based on those beliefs, I found myself always working extremely hard and never feeling like I was making the amount of money that I really wanted. After all there is never enough!

It took a lot of reading and learning to realize that what I believed about money were simply old beliefs handed down that were based on false information. In other words my premise was wrong!

It took awhile, but I now have a different belief system and it seems to be serving me well.

Here’s what I have learned (now believe) about money:

  1. You have two choices when it comes to money. You can believe in scarcity and that there will never be enough. Or you can believe in abundance and that there is enough for everyone.
  2. Your level of income is directly proportionate to your level of self worth and value.
  3. If you want to make a million dollars … find a way to provide a million dollars worth of value first.
  4. The Beatles were right … money can’t buy you love.
  5. The more I give away the more that comes my way.
  6. Having a scarcity mentality when it comes to money only attracts more scarcity.
  7. Sometimes you have to invest in people instead of equipment.
  8. No one else is to blame if I am not making the amount of money that I want … not the government, the president, congress, my clients, my mother, or my kindergarten teacher Misses Shunk who told me there was no such thing as a green flower.
  9. Money can’t buy happiness, joy, self worth or value but the pursuit of it can cost you those very things.
  10. Money is not evil; it can heal, fix, create growth, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick. It all comes down to whether you are coming from a place of love or a place of fear.

So there you have it … and what about you … what do you believe about money and how is it impacting your life?