Aliveatwork's Blog


Divisive or Decisive … It’s Your Call!

DIVISIVEIt’s easy to get caught up in the barrage of divisiveness that seems to be running rampant in our world.

The politicians in Washington D.C. can’t seem to get pass the bipartisanism that divides us … even when the future of our country is at stake.

And if you consider the magnification of this divisiveness by the media who seems hell bent on exaggerating either the US side or the THEM side, it could lead you to feel quite hopeless … if you let it.

Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who said …

In truth, the world is neither for us or against us: it is but raw material in our hands, and can be heaven or hell according to what we are.

The level of success you have in your life will not be determined by which side of the aisle you stand on. It will be determined by the actions you take, based on the priorities you have in your life, with the resources’ you have in front of you, at this moment in time.

Wasting your time and energy debating, fearing, or condemning others or their ideals will not help you to achieve the level of success you want and are capable of.

What if …

  1. What if today you decided that you were going to get clarity on what it is you really want to accomplish in life?
  2. What if today you decided to stop filling your mind with all the bipartisan garbage and media trash and instead, focused solely on achieving your goals in both business and in life?
  3. What if you made a detailed list of actions to achieve the results you wanted and then prioritized them in order so that you had a plan to follow that would keep you on track?

You have the power to create your life to be anything you want it to be. You simply have to decide what it is that you want and then prioritize your action steps  so that you can achieve the results that you want.

Two final thoughts …

  1. Don’t allow someone else to determine your level of success.
  2. And for god’s sake … don’t allow someone else to determine what your experience will be while you are living and breathing on this good earth!

 



Purpose: Are You Being Called to Play a Bigger Game?

The other day I was conversing with a colleague and fellow coach by the name of Barry Zweibel. We’ve been friends and have had a Mastermind of sorts since the day we met about 12 years ago.

We were talking about life in general when Barry, as only Barry can do, pulled out a 2 x 4 and walloped me upside the head with a question that challenged what I believed about my purpose in life. He was challenging me to embrace my purpose at a much higher level.

Now if you asked me, I would tell you that I am living my dream, I love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point in my life (speaking, coaching, and consulting).

But Barry was challenging to go deeper into my purpose and look into the recesses of my heart and soul for any remnants of old beliefs, ideas, or defense mechanisms, that were holding me back.

And of course I found them. I won’t bore you with the details, I will however tell you that I had to search deep in the recesses till I discovered some leftover remnants of good old-fashioned … fear!

Now I’d like to tell you that as a Professional Speaker and Executive Coach that I have overcome all my fears and I am completely self-actualized … but the truth is I am not. I am not perfect, I bump up against things that slow me down and temporarily hold me back. I guess the key words here are slow down (not stop), and temporarily (not permanently).

Fear can cause you to drift from your purpose, it can stop you in your tracks, and it can kill your dreams. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown fear that is evident to you, it can hide in the deep pockets of your mind and actually disguise itself as reason, logic, security, or limited success.

That said I want to share with you a quick way to get out of your fear and moving forward again so you can achieve the level of success you want.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself To Put Fear Behind You:

  1. What am I afraid of losing? Fear is always associated with loss and the quickest way out of fear is to identify the loss.  I refer to these fears that can occupy your mind as Fear FILLERS ™ – Loss of  F-reedom, I-income, L-ife, L-ove, E-go, R-eputation, S-ecurity.
  2. What is the truth? Will I really lose my freedom, life, etc.? Remembering that 93% of the things we fear never happen!
  3. Now that I know the truth, what action do I need to take to move forward.

This a simple process that will take you from a fearful place (emotion) and move you into a more logical place where you can move into action.

So … got any leftover remnants of fear hiding in a corner in your head, heart, or soul?



10 Things You Need to Know About Purpose …

Every since the beginning of time humans have searched to find their purpose in life.

Thousands of  books have been written and hundreds of thousand of speeches, lectures, and discussions have been given on the topic of purpose.

And yet, how many people do you know, if asked, could succinctly complete the following sentence, “My purpose in life is to …”

So I thought I would share a few insights I have gleaned over the years regarding this life altering topic.

 10 Things I’ve Learned About Purpose:

  1. Without purpose, people drift from one thing to the next or they wake up one day feeling trapped in a situation or place they don’t want to be in.
  2. Purpose leads to clarity and clarity leads to focus … focused energy, focused actions, and focused results … and that leads to happiness.
  3. When a person loses their purpose in life they soon atrophy and their desire to live diminishes. (think about someone you know who retired and lost their desire to live).
  4. Finding your purpose in life doesn’t mean you have to find a cure for cancer or quit your job and move to Africa and work for Feed The Children.
  5. Discovering your purpose begins with being crystal clear about your strengths, talents, gifts, and brilliance and then showing up with them in all you do.
  6. You will never find your purpose in life if you spend your time watching Honey Boo-Boo, Redneck Island, Pawn Stars and the other garbage on TV.
  7. You will know you’re on the right path if when you embrace your talents, strengths, and gifts and others begin to consistently recognize you for them.
  8. The number one cause of Death of Purpose is fear … fear of success, failure, loss, dying, surviving, disappointing, poverty, etc.
  9. The single most important factor in finding your purpose is Belief, believing that you were put here on this earth for a reason and discovering that reason needs to be the number one priority in your life. Living out your purpose needs to be the second priority.
  10. Discovering your purpose is an inside job, it already exists inside of you, you just have to clear out the old beliefs, lies, and junk that are preventing you from seeing it.

Need a kick start?

Go online an order the StrengthsFinder  2.0 book by Tom Rath. It contains an assessment that will give you your top five strengths. It is extremely accurate and will start you on your path of discovery.

Obviously the list is incomplete, feel free to add your wisdom in the comment section

One last question: So … how would you complete the sentence, “My purpose in life is to …”



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!



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?



And the Truth Shall …

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to work with a  group of Leaders. At one point in the day we arrived at a fork in the road.

Path A: Ignore the elephant in the room and continue to pretend that everything was “fine,” even though everyone knew it was not!

Path B: Own the truth about themselves and each other and speak it directly and without blame. Not from a place of anger but from a place of  ownership, responsibility, and intention.

They chose path B,  and I have to admit there were some very intense moments as we worked through the process. There was hesitation, fear, doubt, and all the things that normally prevent people from speaking their truth.

And when it was done …

There was relief, a lightness, a sense that a 100 lb weights had been lifted off of their chests … in a word … freedom.

No hiding, no pretending, just the truth.

So many time we are afraid to speak the truth, we fear the worst, because we fear loss of some kind. And yet time and time again when Leaders are courageous and speak the truth from a loving place and not a place of fear  … amazing things happen.

Teams become closer, walls come down, leaders get clarity about themselves and their colleagues.

Maybe that John guy was right, “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

So what about you … need a little more freedom in your life?



The Power of a Smile …
August 17, 2012, 5:45 am
Filed under: Alive @ Work, Aliveness, Joe Contrera, Leadership | Tags: , , ,

Occasionally I feel the need to share a personal experience with you especially when something impacts me in a profound way.

Yes, I know this is a business blog …

And yet in my day-to-day life I find it nearly impossible to separate the closely intertwined personal thoughts and emotions from my business.

The other day I was thinking about my dad who passed away last Thanksgiving weekend after years of battling various ailments.

As I thought about him and how close we were, I began to reminisce about moments that we shared as his life was winding down.

One of those moments took place last fall in his room at the nursing home. He was sharing a story about a prank he had played on one of his coworkers when he was a young man.

I had heard the story many times before … it didn’t matter … I could listen to his stories a thousand times over.

What struck me most about that particular time was that he was telling the story as if it was the first time anybody was hearing it AND it was the first time he had ever spoken what had happened some 50 odd years before.

He was smiling and laughing so hard he could barely get the story out.

It was in that moment … the smile and laughter on his face had erased all signs of age or ailment. In that moment … he was 28 years old again.

A smile is a powerful thing …

A smile can melt away sadness, erase the effects of age and disease, and can stir your heart .

It can remind you to appreciate the ones you love who are still here … and it can momentarily bring back the ones you love who aren’t.

The Power of a Smile … what an amazing thing!

Maybe today … you can remember something or someone to smile about?



L-O-V-E: What You Do …

A survey of nearly 11,000 employees by Blessings White showed that only 31% of those surveyed stated they were engaged at work.

That means 69% are not engaged and when you’re not engaged you probably don’t like what you do!

If employee engagement and job satisfaction are directly linked to profitability you would think that most leaders in an organization would have a plan in place to improve it and they would be held accountable for implementing it and yet …

A survey of leaders showed that 75% of them had no engagement plan or strategy, even though 90% said engagement impacts business success. (ACCOR)

The Truth …

If you don’t like your job … it is NOT the responsibility of your boss, your company, or anyone else to make you happy … it is up to you!

The way I see it … if you don’t love what you do you have 3 options:

  1. You could quit, walk away, throw in the towel, surrender, give in, and find a position that is better suited for you, your values, and your needs.
  2. You could stay put stay where you are and keep focusing on what you don’t like, what’s wrong, and what other folks should be doing so you can be happier at work.
  3. You could shift your perspective and what you believe about your work.

Want to be a little happier at work?

7 things that you could do to improve your happiness level @ work:.

  1. Focus on what works and what is good about your job.
  2. Make a list of all the things you are able to buy with your paycheck for you and your family.
  3. List all the reasons you’re a good fit for this job.
  4. When you are at work … work … and when you are at home, be home and focus on your family, friends, and the other things that make you happy.
  5. Answer this question: If I was giving a 110% effort at work what would I be doing … and then do it!
  6. Set a target productivity level, a sales goal, or a promotion, and then focus all of your energy on achieving that target.
  7. Set a realistic time frame to accomplish your target. And when you hit them, one of 3 things will happen: a) You will be rewarded for your achievements. b) You will be happier simply because you were more focused and more productive. c) You will be crystal clear that you need find a position and a company that works better for you.

Russian dramatist Maxim Gorky said, “When work is a pleasure, life is joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery.”

When it is all said and done, nobody is responsible for your happiness at work.

The decision to love what you do is up to you … so choose wisely and choose often.



How to Increase Your Time & Energy R-O-I

I was flying home after attending an amazing conference, the National Speakers Association Annual Convention. For the last 4 days I have been expanding my knowledge base by studying and listening to some of the best speakers in my profession.

As I poured over my multiple pages of notes on the flight home, I came to the realization that not one single idea matters … until I take action to implement it into my business.

It’s been said that knowledge is power. If that is true, then we should all be powerful beyond measure. The internet allows us access to more information now, than at any other time in the history of the world!

The truth is that most of us possess more knowledge than we need to be wildly successful. And yet … so many people wallow in mediocrity.

Why? Because they fail to consistently execute on the actions that really make a difference in their businesses. It is easy to get distracted by the “other” things that dilute their results.

So that got me thinking …

What if … you agreed to limit your focus on the 3 most productive ideas or actions each and every day?

I know what you’re thinking … 3 …. just 3 … you mean like 1, 2, 3 and stop? Are you serious?

The key to getting a higher return on investment (R-O-I) of your time and energy (T & E) is to consistently take action on the most important and impactful tasks.

Here’s how …

7 Steps for Increasing your Time & Energy  R-O-I:

  1. Make a complete list of all of the things you want and need to accomplish for today.
  2. Mark a letter D next to all the things you can delegate, along with the  person’s name who can take ownership of the task (delegate it)
  3. Prioritize the remaining tasks in order of importance by placing an A, B, or C, in front of each task according to its importance (you should have multiple A’s, B’s, and C’s) If you have all A’s you have a serious problem … start over!
  4. Now rank the A’s in order according to their impact and importance. For example A1, A2, A3, A4, etc. You should only have one number for each A. Then do the same for the B’s (B1, B2, etc. and the C’s).
  5. Now as Nike says … just DO IT! Start at A1 and work your way down the list.
  6. Complete this exercise daily for the next 2 weeks.
  7. At the end of 2 weeks … do it for another 2 weeks!

The idea here is that if you are consistently taking action on the 3 most important tasks each and every day, the most important tasks will continuously rise to the top. The less important tasks will be pushed to the bottom or need to be moved off the list.

And when you do … 

Not only will you accomplish more than you ever have, you will experience the ultimate R-O-I on your time and energy.

Yes knowledge can be power … ONLY when it is combined with ACTION.

So now that you know this … what are you waiting for?



What If … ?

You, you may say, I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

John Lennon

Years ago there were a series of Hewlett Packard commercials whose tag line were “What If …”

Since then a number of folks have done similar “What if” campaigns, Nike and Michael Jordan, the NHL, even the Cleveland Indians (now that’s a real what if!)

The idea is to get people to imagine something beyond what is in front of them.  To imagine something more than what they are currently experiencing or to ignite their hope for the possibility of something better. Especially if things are not going too well at the present time ( i.e. the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a world series since 1954).

As I thought about how powerful the “what if” question is, I realized that for many people the “what if” question actually has the opposite effect. In fact for some folks the “what if” question can actually suck the power right out of their idea or worse yet … themselves!

How many times have you had a truly great idea until you started asking yourself the “what if” question. What if things go wrong, what if I fail, what if I lose, what if I make a mistake, etc.

So that got me to thinking … IMAGINE if for the next 10 days you looked at every decision or situation from a more positive perspective?

I am not saying you should ignore glaring negatives and forge ahead blindly. However, I am challenging you to look at the possibility of what is good, possible, and true.

Below is a list of  10 Positive “What If” questions  to ask yourself the next time you have an idea, are stuck trying to make a decision, or just not sure what to do:

  1. What if I succeed beyond my wildest dreams?
  2. What if this is the perfect decision?
  3. What if I already have the perfect partner for me?
  4. What if I wasn’t afraid?
  5. What if I believed I was enough … more than enough … in fact way more than enough!
  6. What if I loved my spouse, my kids, my brother, neighbor, sister, as much as I love myself? (yes the golden rule)
  7. What if I knew I was brilliant, smart, and amazing?
  8. What if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  9. What if I trusted myself?
  10. What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? (Yeah, I know but it’s worth repeating!)

So there you have it!

Use this list for the next 10 days every time you have a decision to make or dilemma on your hands and just watch what happens to your life.

You just might find … “It’s easy if you try …. and It isn’t hard to do!”