Choosing bluebonnet thoughts

Spring has come to where I live in Texas and the bluebonnets grace our roadsides, waving gently in the out-like-a-lamb breeze. I was on the highway today in this glorious weather glancing at the bluebonnets, the Indian paintbrushes, and that yellow wildflower we have so much of in spring. With all this beauty, this exquisite momentary beauty surrounding me at 75 mph, I find myself thinking about couldas, wouldas, and shouldas. Ugh.

A sliver of God’s bounty that only comes once a year, and I allow my mind to wander off. Remember I mentioned last week about living in a noisy world and most of it is in our heads? I am as prone to it as you.

I am less apt to stick there as I used to be. I am more apt to actively place my thoughts on what is happy, what is joyful, and what is good. You can do it, too, with desire and practice.

Here’s how you train yourself.

1. Decide that it is important to you to learn the techniques to think the thoughts you want to think instead of always letting your mind chase rabbits of its own choosing. Seriously. Write it down somewhere because getting what you want to commit to out of your head and onto something you can visually revisit at your choosing somehow brings substance to your decision to think and do differently.

2. When you catch yourself thinking on thoughts you don’t want to dwell on think on something else. Actively change your mind to other thoughts. I have found that when I first was learning this, I might have to actively choose a new thought every second. Exhausting. I said then and I still say now I wish this changing what we are thinking about burned more calories.

3. Repeat step 2.
4. After that repeat step 2.
5. Go back to step 2.

No fairy magic wand here to wave over you. You’ll have to do the work yourself. Remember this foundation success principle of E+R=O. Event+your response=your outcome. When you respond with active changing of your mind when you find yourself thinking thoughts you don’t want to think at that moment (event), you will get a very different outcome than if you let your wandering mind have its way with you all the time.

Bluebonnets are a happy. Another one is when my daughter comes home for a visit and that is this week. Talk about something happy to focus on!

Can you hear me now?

That famous line from the Verizon Wireless commercial speaks to actual sound reaching someone’s ear. In a totally different vein, we’re going to visit the number one effective communication skill: Listening.

Yep, it ain’t your talking more, better, succinctly, or with more savoir faire. It’s about your ability to tune out all that chatter going on in your head, the smartphone that is calling you even if it is in your pocket out of sight. It’s about you actively focusing your attention on the person who is talking in a way that is known as “being present.” It can be tough work.

I’d be willing to bet that you have found yourself at times where you have totally checked out of listening to someone, even though you can hear them. You catch yourself thinking “Ack! I wonder what they said? Shall I confess I wasn’t listening? Ack!” I know I have. Some times I’ve admitted it. Other times, I refocus to see if I can get the main gist of what has been said and not get caught.

The more important the conversation, we’re usually better at achieving that focus. Other times we’ve got to wrestle our wandering minds down to the mat to pay attention to what we want to pay attention to. The best way to value people is to listen to them.

The rest of this week, I encourage you to pay attention to yourself and how you are being present with your little ones, your colleagues, your spouse, your friends. See how you’re doing practicing the number one skill in effective listening.

Three more principles of success (asking)

As a group, the post a couple weeks ago on four success principles was opened by most of you. Wanting to give you more of what you want, I am revisiting another success principle…one without which you won’t reach whatever goals you have: asking.

There are steps and nuances to asking.

Ask clearly
Ask confidently
Ask consistently
Ask sincerely

And a super fun one: Rubber chicken asking

The most important step is to actually ask!

You might recall that my one thing 2014 is to, at least once a week, do something that causes fear in me. As two months have passed, most of these “fearful” situations have to do with asking. I am getting better at this asking thing and nothing awful has happened.

You can’t fool me. I know there is something of someone you want to ask. Go for it. I am rooting for you.

Listening in a noisy world

Most of the noise is in your head.

Our fascinating, beautiful, mysterious brains have minds of their own. Wandering off when we’re wanting to focus, bringing up memories unpleasant, telling us how we’re going to fix that no good so-and-so. What we don’t need to live our lives with purpose is loading onto the mysterious workings of the brain is this silliness of “multi-tasking.” Once a gold-standard, now it is known to only be shiny.

I once had a supervisor who, most times, would keep doing something else even when I was in the room at an appointment of their setting of time and place. I would get “Go ahead. I’m listening” with their eyes fully on the computer screen, fingers flying. Seriously. This type of behavior makes anyone feel devalued. I hope you’re not doing that.

Stand at the light switch, turning it off and on as fast as you can. That’s what our brains are doing when we multi-task; switching between two tasks at a high rate of speed. The brain works in such a way that when doing that our effectiveness at both tasks degrades. Not optimum. Is the room still lit when you’re switching that switch fast, fast, fast? Sure. The smartest method of keeping the room lit? Uh, no.

Then there is not paying attention.

I am happily involved in a half-day face-to-face workshop locally at the end of April. My co-presenters and I are busily promoting it. One of my co-presenters was at a gathering of friends who are interested in her personally and in whatever endeavor she chooses to pursue. The workshop had been discussed before. They had seen the postcard we’re using to promote face-to-face. This information is expanded fully on the website. My co-presenter was astounded when she started getting questions about and suggestions for this workshop that are fully described and answered. These women who are interested are not listening. This is not atypical.

We’ve all got noise going on inside our head. We can train ourselves to be present in our own lives with whomever we are interacting with. First we have to know we can train ourselves. Now you know and you’ve no excuses.

Yes, listening is the number one skill in communicating effectively. Practice it this week. Take your hand off the light switch.