03/11/2010

By Paul Hunting

Being stressed virtually defines ineffectiveness. We’re either relaxed and focused or stressed and distracted. Our best decisions come from a calm, centred place. The paradox is - the more calmly we approach a task, the more dynamically we are operating.

Here are eight simple practices, based on timeless wisdoms; you can do alone or with your teams:

1. My number one priority

This can be fun. Ask yourself (or your team) to say or write down the most important thing in their lives right now. They’ll typically say their wife, kids or being at the beck and call of the CEO!

Then ask them to hold their breath for two minutes!

This brings the real number one priority into sharp focus — your next breath. Then spend a minute with your eyes closed enjoying and savouring this free, simple, but critical, energy force. Observe your breath coming in, imagine the oxygen feeding the blood and the body, breathe out any toxins or negative feelings. Let the mind and body relax. It wants to. It will.

2. Don’t worry — be happy

Energy follows thought. If there’s something you’re worried about, write it down in as much detail as you can. Then write down how you would like it to be. Then burn the first version. And read the new, positive outcome every day till the solution is manifest.

3. Clear out the unconscious debris

The unconscious mind stores everything. Everything that is incomplete is demanding your energy so it can complete itself. If we ignore this inner drive, the energy backs up on us and makes us sick and tired.

Make a complete list of all the things in your life that are incomplete — from files, emails, reports, broken shoe laces and unresolved regrets and resentments. Then either declare them complete or do what’s necessary to complete it.

This can be a long project in itself — so if you don’t have an ongoing ‘incompletions’ file in your organiser, then now could be the time to start one. Simply making this list will make you feel instantly more alive and positive — unless you stuff it in a drawer and forget it!

4. Create meaning

Life itself seems not to have intrinsic meaning. It means what we want it to mean. We have a choice. Not choosing is also a choice. The smart rat chooses a meaning that makes what he’s doing more fun. Fun is healthy. Anything can be fun with the right attitude. Anything can be crap with the wrong one. We have the power. It doesn’t care how we use it. Why not use it for, rather than against, ourselves?

5. Build better relationships — risk more honesty. There are only three simple parameters for effective, loving relationships — trust, respect and understanding.

Why should anyone trust or respect you if you don’t trust or respect yourself? How can others understand you if you don’t understand what you really want and how you’re coming across?

Few things in life are certain. This is one of them. Every time we lie or break an agreement, we deplete our self trust, self respect and self understanding. There’s no choice about it. It is automatic. Guaranteed. Gravity.

The risk we take by being honest when a lie seems like the easy way out, pays dividends in ways that dramatically exceed the paltry payoffs we get from the lie or broken promise.

Promise yourself you’ll keep more promises and not make false promises — even for a day — and you will automatically improve and enhance all your relationships — I promise.

6. Forgive yourself

We all have expectations programmed into us from birth. All the ways we should or shouldn’t behave. All the ways ‘they’ should or shouldn’t be....etc.

Most of these expectations are bullshit. We can never live up to them. They can’t either. We’re all doing the best we can, making the best choices we have in our awareness — always. This is a fact. It often doesn’t seem this way but it is. So when we make mistakes we have an opportunity to learn — unless we make it wrong. Every time we make ourselves right or wrong we kill our ability to learn from our experience.

We can stop this pointless and cruel way of treating ourselves and each other. It’s called forgiveness.

Do it as much as you can. You will feel so much better — it’s such a relief to let go of pointless, futile guilt and resentment.

7. Give some money away — with no strings.
If you really want to have some fun and liberate yourself from fear of loss — give away some money!

It doesn’t need to be much. Think of creative ways to give money away anonymously. Don’t do it for the ‘approval’. Just do it. Pay a stranger’s bill in a restaurant — and leave. Put a quid in someone’s expired parking meter. Leave the pound coin in the supermarket trolley — everyone then can get a free push! Pay the toll for the car behind you as well. And on and on.

8. Make a microscopic change

If you were firing a rocket at Mars, a microscopic change in the trajectory would mean, by the time it had travelled millions of miles, the enormous difference between success or failure. It’s the same with changing self-destructive habits. It’s often futile and stressful to attempt major changes — but tiny ones grow large over time. What habit of yours would you like to change? What microscopic step could you take that will eventually lead to success without stress?

Paul Hunting is an entrepreneur, author, leadership coach and horse whisperer. He’s the Managing Director of The Natural Leadership Centre Ltd and author of ‘Why talk to a guru? When you can whisper to a horse’. For the past 25 years Paul’s focus has been to awaken clients to the true self within and to their higher purpose and potential. He is an author, speaker, facilitator, executive coach and creator of Horse Assisted Leadership. His work is always at the cutting edge - challenging our self-limiting paradigms. www.horsejoy.com. Read Paul's often controversial posts on the Huffington Post website. As part of the Academy Community, professional speakers such as Paul provide excellent, practical and, in many cases, hard-hitting topics for Managing Directors and CEOs. They know that by inspiring the leader of a business to change his or her thinking and to help them motivate themselves and their people for the future, they will develop and grow their companies. For more information visit www.chiefexecutive.com
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