If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
That’s one of the most popular concepts in business. While it is a partially true maxim in business, it holds even truer in your personal development.
When we are young, our brains are exploding with new growth. Literally everything a baby does is a growth challenge. Whether they are trying to walk, crawl, make their first sounds with their mouth, it is all an immense challenge.
As an adult, we become much more stagnant. After we get the basics of life, too many of us just simply stop moving forward. We get enamored with our routines. We slog through weeks to get through to the weekends where we just kill time. We coast through jobs that often become too easy for us.
In the pandemic, I’ve fallen victim to this, and I’ve talked to many clients where this is becoming a problem.
It’s easy and cliché to say that 2020 was a difficult year because it obviously was. However, I watched countless people stand up and wrestle 2020 to the ground no matter how formidable of an opponent it seemed.
This happened on a large scale. Walmart, Amazon, and toilet paper companies all had to re-organize how they did business at a breakneck pace or people wouldn’t have been able to get the basic necessities that make it possible to sustain our lives. They did it.
The government, in conjunction with the pharmaceutical industry, turned around a vaccine that is rolling out in completely unprecedented time. Those vaccines are rolling out to our society’s most vulnerable as I write this.
Those are the big stories that we all watched unfold in the news every day.
Unless you are also a coach, you might not have seen as many little victories in the lives of our friends and neighbors as I have.
I got to work with countless clients as they started businesses, jumped into new careers (sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity), rebuilt their romantic relationships, created art and music, and started over against what many would call insurmountable odds.
The Real Estate website Redfin recently compiled an article about how to create a more productive home office setup and they included many experts on productivity.
As someone who is obsessed with productivity and increasing everyone's impact, I was happy to contribute some of my favorite advice.
Here's my hot tip:
Ditch the video calls. Go old school and do your meetings on a regular, old-fashioned phone call. No video means you can get up, move around, and even get outside. Remember, motion creates emotion and sitting around slumped over your desk in your house creates some pretty weak emotions.
If you're one of the many who are working from home, check out the whole article to see how you can stay productive and happy while working from home.
It’s almost every day that I’m trying to help people appreciate, even thank, the pain they experience.
I know it sounds odd, but pain really does exist to serve us. In the most primal sense, pain is a gift to tell us to move away from damage – a mechanism built in to protect us from the dangerous world. Think about it, without pain you’d leave your hand on a hot stove and a minor, irritating burn could turn into serious third degree burns that leave your hand non-functioning. The pain protects you.
In the bigger picture, pain and discomfort are stage 1 for your transformation.
Think about a time you went to grab your favorite pair of pants. You take them off the hanger or out of the drawer and you go to put them on. Only this time, they’re not sliding on quite as easy. You jam yourself in there and go to button them up, only realizing the button no longer buttons. Or if it does, it digs deep into your skin and squeezes the inside of your body.
This is a disturbing moment for most people. It can be painful and depressing. Remember, those feelings are there for a reason. They are a call to action to start acting on your goals right away – to make a change.
In my business I work with a lot of “type A,” overachievers who are obsessed with production.
These people are driven by a mission and often a fear of failure.
Sometimes this type goes as far to feel guilty about every second they aren’t being “productive” – generating revenue, knocking items off their to-do lists, or otherwise tangibly making effort at accomplishing their goals.
I was recently on a call with one of these clients who had just crashed after months of constantly grinding and spent a week mostly resting, recuperating, and enjoying things like Netflix. Being a hard working guy, he felt guilty for taking time to breathe after getting some big wins in his new entrepreneurial career.
I asked him a simple question:
“If you did pushups all the time, how strong would you get?”
Believe it or not, 2020 is almost over.
It’s odd because it feels like yesterday that I was thinking about the idea of New Year’s resolutions and the commitments we make to ourselves at the beginning of the year.
This year has thrown us a ton of curveballs and it’s been an honor to be on the frontlines of your lives with you throughout the year. I’ve worked with young people who are starting their professional lives in the most uncertain of times. I’ve worked with established business owners who had to fortify their business against a global pandemic and an economic shutdown. I’ve worked with couples who found themselves navigating an entirely new dynamic at home as schools and offices were shut down.
Through it all, I’ve watched all my clients grow, stay committed to living with passion, and stay committed to their results.
Personally, I don’t like to wait until late December to start thinking about progress and the new decisions I must make - especially in a year as disorienting as this one had the potential to be.
I encourage you to do the same. Whether you are a client, or just someone out there looking for ways to improve, start thinking about your 2020. Did you continue to grow? Did you decide to live in a great state of mind? Did you experience more good emotions than bad ones? Did you see opportunity, or did you only see challenges?
The truth is, making huge changes in your life comes down to one relatively easy concept: raising your standards.
Everything else, all the tips and tricks, exercises, and strategies are only useful if you’ve set the appropriately high standards for yourself.
When people hear this for the first time, they often get defensive. They’ll say something like “if that’s all it takes, everyone would have whatever they wanted.” To some extent – that’s true. And that’s true because most people here in the United States do have whatever they truly want.
This can be kind of tricky because part of you is reading this saying “well I want a Porsche and I don’t have that.” Or “I have 20 thousand dollars in credit card debt and I want it to be 0 dollars.”
It’s true, you may want those things, but you also want to only work 40 hours a week and to go shopping and out to the bars every weekend with your friends. The Porsche and paying off the credit card take a level of discipline and sacrifice that you absolutely do not want.
A coach is not a licensed mental health professional and any advice or commentary here should not in any way be considered medical advice. Depression can be a serious, medical issue. If you are experiencing depression, please seek out a qualified mental health counselor and do not use this discussion, or any other article, blog, or material on the internet as a substitute for a qualified mental health professional. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide call one of the suicide hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (888-487-0468) and 800-273-TALK (866-699-0189). If you have a plan for suicide then go to the closest emergency room immediately for medical treatment.
As a life coach, I’m frequently compared to therapists. I suppose I get it. We have some similarities. Our core mission is to help clients be happier and function better in their world – more or less.
There are major differences though and there are a lot of aspects of therapy that I think can actually get in the way of people thriving in their lives.
Often, I work with clients who have either done therapy or that do therapy alongside their coaching. From their experience, and from the knowledge of those who have taught me (therapist Cloe Madanes, the Peyshas, and Tony Robbins), I can see a lot of ways that therapists can get in the way of their clients’ success.
Here are a few examples:
Tempus Fugit. Memento Mori. This is an old phrase in the Christian Faith that you don’t hear often anymore. Even in the world that deals with the afterlife, death is an unwelcome subject for so many.
Translated from Latin it means this: Time flies. Remember death.
To Christians, this phrase is used to help focus the followers of Christ – a reminder that this life is very temporary when compared to eternity; and that while it is easy to get swept away in drugs and alcohol, or Netflix, or one-night stands, remember that you only have so much time to get it right before your time is up and your judgment comes.
The phrase has a sort of whimsy to it that caught my attention when I first heard it. Often paired with skull and crossbones, I could imagine a Jack Sparrow type character saying it to me while winking. Like most people, when I first heard this phrase, death wasn’t something I thought of regularly. Nor did I want to. Death is an uncomfortable thing and we tend not to like to think that we too will meet our ends.
But then it occurred to me that even in the secular world, this phrase lives in the works of artists, musicians, filmmakers, and philosophers alike.
Think about it for a minute. How many times have you been asked, if this were the last day of your life, what would you do? How would you live your life?
For years I resisted the idea of detailed planning since I so highly value variety and I was convinced that planning would cost more time than it would create.
Recently I’ve been re-working everything I know about planning. I’ve been a meticulous digital calendar user, but I recently switched to writing in an actual planner with pen and paper – the Tony Robbins RPM system to be exact.
I’m deep into my journey and it appears I was right on some level – planning does take a significant amount of time. It may save me some time in the end but that’s not the real benefit to me. The REAL benefit of a high-level planning system isn’t the 15 minutes you spend doing it every day. The real benefit is the clearing out of the mental cobwebs and the reactivity that dominates our brains every day.
So many of us live with this daily sense that we’re not doing enough, or we’re doing the wrong thing, or we’re doing too much. Most of us don’t take the time to think about it in detail like this, but that nagging anxiety that plagues many exists precisely because you haven’t come up with a clear, concise vision for your life or your day (you can’t have a clear vision for your day without a clear vision for your life.
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: