What An Easy Life

I once heard someone teach, “the moment you start giving excuses, is the moment you turn over your power and ability to actually turn things around in your life.”  Here’s a wonderful story that teaches this important life lesson.

Two cousins grew up together in a small village in Southeast Asia. Both boys were the same age and came from similar backgrounds. But as they matured, small differences in their attitude toward work became more and more evident.  One cousin eventually became an advisor to the king, while the other found employment as an oarsman for the royal canoe service. One evening, as the king and his court were making their annual tour of the kingdom, the canoe was landed for the night and the oarsmen were gathered around their cooking fire. Tired, sore, and sunburned, the oarsmen grumbled as oarsmen sometimes do, with the one cousin doing most of the talking.

“What an easy life those advisors have,” complained the cousin. “We strain our bare backs in the hot sun all day long, while they sit under the canopy and talk. We can talk as easily as they! Do not we have intelligence, and wisdom and experience? We would make fine advisors to the king! And yet it is we that toil to the point of exhaustion, and they who relax in the shade!”

The cousin went on like this for several minutes, not knowing that the king, who had paused during his walk in the trees, and could hear everything the oarsman was saying. Later that night, when the whole camp was asleep, the king awakened the oarsman.

“A mysterious sound interrupted my sleep,” said the king. “Go up the hill and find out what is was.”

The oarsman obediently set off up the hill, then came back a few minutes later to report. “It is nothing of concern,” he said, “just a mother cat who gave birth to a litter of kittens.”

“What kind of cat?” asked the king. The oarsman hadn’t taken notice, so he went back up the hill, and returned a short time later.

“Siamese,” he reported.

“How many kittens?” asked the king. Once again, the cousin trekked up the hill, for he hadn’t bothered to note the size of the litter. Soon he came back to the king.

“Six,” he replied.

“How many male, and how many female?” was the king’s next question.

Another hike up the hill, and the obedient oarsman returned with the answer: “Three male, three female.”

“Very good,” said the king. “Now come with me.” The oarsman followed the king over to the sleeping advisors, where the other cousin was shaken awake. “A mysterious sound interrupted my sleep,” said the king for the second time that night. “Go up the hill and find out what it was.”

Quickly the advisor went up the hill to investigate. After several minutes, he returned and addressed the king. “It is of no concern,” he began. “There is an overturned barrel at the top of the hill. Inside a Siamese cat has given birth to a litter of six kittens: three male and three female. The cat belongs to the mayor of the local village, who apologizes for the interruption of your sleep. He would be honored if you took the pick of the litter as a royal pet.”

Based on human nature, it probably took several of these incidents before the oarsman got the picture. But did you get it? The attitude you take toward any venture directly affects your approach to it. How you approach any endeavor greatly determines your likelihood of success. And your success – or lack of it- has an equally direct effect on your attitude. It’s all tied together, and it can be a spiral staircase up, or a spiral funnel down.



You’re Going to Believe This

Have you ever felt like your goal was just a dream? It’s something you want, and on some level you know you can do it; it just feels a little out of reach. It’s not something you’ve accomplished before, or maybe it’s been a long time since you did, and there’s an element of doubt.

So this time, how are you going to make that dream really happen? I’ll tell you what my daughter Micah did once. She was unhappy in her job and needed a change. She said she had been looking for something else but just wasn’t finding anything that paid as well. She knew she needed to find her next job before she could leave the situation she was in.

So I helped her work on a vision statement. She wrote it as a vision, not as a goal, because goals are worded as though you don’t yet have the thing you want. Vision statements speak as though it has already happened. She put feeling into it and wrote all the details about her new job: what kind of job it was, what skills it was helping her build, what it paid, and the date by which she started—she wrote down a date that was only a month away.

Micah was diligent about reading her vision statement every day, morning and night. I saw the paper; it was well worn. Within about 10 days, she landed a fantastic job in an entirely different industry. Not only that, but it was a job normally reserved for existing employees within the company. She had actually passed over that requirement to get the position.

The key to my daughter’s vision statement working was her consistency in reading it. She kept it at the top of her mind and was committed enough to it that she believed it.

I have an amazing friend, Richard Brooke. He’s a leadership coach, public speaker, and author who teaches how to achieve a plan. He says that if you keep reciting your vision to yourself, your subconscious mind will hear it and begin to feel as though that vision has actually happened.

“The amount of time it takes is different for everybody,” Richard teaches, “and it depends on what we’re looking to take on, but somewhere between 30 and 100 movements, that powerful part of us starts to believe what we’re telling it is true, and so it starts to dance in alignment with it.”

Keep focusing on what you want. Do it over and over again until you believe it. Even when you have thoughts like, “Oh, this is ridiculous. I’ve never done anything like this,” keep feeding your vision. Write it down. Say it out loud. Your creative mind will start to listen.

Before you know it, your vision will feel so real to you that you will feel like you’re already there. You will naturally act like you are, and you will start to perform at a higher level. That’s when that thing you want happens.

Your goal is not a dream. Now is your chance to dismiss whatever disbelief in yourself you’re hanging onto that’s keeping you from already having what you want. Envision it, believe it, and make it happen.



What were you thinking?

What were you thinking? You weren't were you.

What were you thinking? You weren't were you.

What Were You Thinking?

Years ago after a business meeting I hopped into my car to head to my next appointment. The phone rang. It was my wife. She told me that our 16-year-old son had just been in a car accident. I quickly asked, “Is he OK?” She said yes. I asked, “Was anyone hurt?” She said no.

After a sigh of relief, I asked what most any insurance premium-paying father would ask: “How bad is it?” She said he had hit the curb so hard that the rear wheel came completely off.

Well, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but Continue reading “What were you thinking?”