Lifestyle Category

United Kingdom (Part One)

August 25th, 2011 by Liz in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

I have to admit that I hate travelling. I hate sitting around for hours, the barely edible airplane food…not to mention the pain of having to get over jetlag afterwards!

Okay, so if I hate travelling that much, why do I still do it? That’s because all the things that I hate about travelling disappear once we actually reach our destination. Earlier this year, I endured all that torment with Ric and the boys, and landed in the United Kingdom.

The weather was absolutely beautiful and sunny (seriously) – it was enough to make all my travel blues disappear the moment we landed at the airport! Everyone kept saying we must have brought the weather with us from the US, and I think we did.

The weekend after we got there, when it was nice and sunny in UK, it was snowing sideways back home in Charlottesville!

Our first stop in the UK was London, of course. Almost everyone who flies to the UK goes through London, but unlike most travellers who explore London once they get there, we barely had time to explore the city. We stayed there for three days, but spent most of that time getting over jetlag (I did mention that I hate having to get over jetlag, right? ), getting our phones and finding internet access, and trying to find an ATM that would accept our American credit cards.

In the short time that we spent in London, we did get to visit some interesting places though. As we were leaving the train station on our way towards the Tower of London, we saw a building that is commonly referred to as the Gherkin or Cucumber building because of its odd shape (Chandler thought looked like a torpedo, though ). This building was actually designed to be environmentally friendly, and has won several architectural awards thanks to its innovations in ventilation and lighting.

We also visited London Bridge (yes, that same bridge that you’ve heard of thanks to that infamous nursery rhyme), where we had a really good view of the Tower Bridge and the mighty river Thames. We also got to have afternoon tea near the Tower of London, and Ric enjoyed doing a couple of conference calls “From the Tower”.

We had to leave London at 6am the following day to get to the cottage in the Cotswolds that served as our base that month. There was a big horse race in a nearby town (Cheltenham Spa), and the deluge of spectators made it difficult to book a cab – we actually had to hire a van so the four of us, seven bags, and four computer cases could all fit! Since our entire trip was scheduled to last for 6 months, we essentially had to pack our entire lives into our luggage!

Despite our cab troubles, our accommodations in the Cotswolds made it well worth the effort. It was a quaint little cottage built in the original stables of the Lower Mill Estate, and is the first nature preserve in the UK that people are actually allowed to live in too . The entire place had this natural yet otherworldly beauty that we couldn’t have found in a modern hotel. There was a lovely orchard in the back, hundreds of birds, and beautifully preserved lakes and right behind the house ran the mouth of the Thames. It was really kind of cool having just been in London and seeing the majestic river as it raced to the English Channel, then seeing its humble beginnings in our back garden.

What made our stay there even better were our next door neighbors. They had just come home from a trip to Argentina, but had to stay in the cottage next to ours while repairs were being made to their house – they’d come home to find the water tanks in their attic had burst while they were away, pretty much destroying half of their 300-year-old-home! Karen and Ian had a gorgeous dog and three little boys who became fast friends with Chandler and Stefan.

From our cottage in the Cotswolds, it was easy enough for us to travel to the nearby historic Roman town of Cirencester by cab. We always hired cabs from the same company, so we got to know our drivers pretty well and they even gave us a silly nickname: “The Millionaire Americans from Lower Mill”. At one point we had the whole place in a tizzy because they sent the cab to the wrong place (there are 2 Tesco Stores there), and they had half of their crew out looking for us! When Ernie finally found us he radioed in saying, “I’ve got ‘em lads – we can call off the search!”

The drivers we met there were awesome and had some truly interesting stories to share…

Our first driver, Steve, runs half marathons in his spare time and takes care of his nephew on weekends. Ernie (the one who found us when we were “lost”), told us of his many trips to the States (I’d SWEAR he’s been to more places there than I have!) and always gave us the best restaurant recommendations. Ernie actually drove us on his last day before retirement and gave us the low-down on at least a half-dozen pleasure trips he had booked for the coming year, from Las Vegas to Spain! That’s one heck of a way to celebrate retirement, don’t you think?

When it came to interesting stories, though, no one could beat the driver whose father was a screenwriter for the original Star Wars movie. And as if that wasn’t a great story in itself, his grandfather was an American Fighter Pilot at the Battle of Briton while his grandmother was a code breaker during WWII – she was engaged to his best friend over there but broke off her engagement after our driver’s grandfather had left. Future Grandmother and Grandfather met up again on the street in Alexandria Egypt and were married that week! I kept thinking this story sounded like a REALLY good script in and of itself!!

Aside from visiting Cirencester, we made plans to take the train to York. Unfortunately, the whole family having some bad luck with rails. Our first train was cancelled, the second was delayed, and then my aunt and her brother’s train got cancelled…it was an absolute mess – but we all managed to get there safe and sound!

Most of places that we visited in York looked like they were pulled out of a history book – oh wait, they pretty much were…. But you can probably imagine our surprise when we saw a 200 year old bridge and defensive tower turned into a modern day café (that’s the picture right there!). In the States we would have that area closed off so that nobody could even breathe on it !

The amazing walls of old York were the perfect setting for Stefan to play at being a heroic defender of the castle. He had a blast playing archer on the walls, pretending to shoot passers-by with imaginary arrows.

We met up with my aunt, her brother and sister, and her brother-in-law while we were there and had a great time going on a ghost tour through the city. York is said to be the most haunted city in Europe, and with over half a million people buried within the city walls I can understand why! Despite the creepy ghost stories, I think that York is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen, and Ric completely agrees. That’s definitely something special coming from him because as a general rule, he hates cities!

So far, this post accounts for half of our tour of England, and I can’t wait to tell you about the rest of the trip! You’ll get to read all about our trip to Glastonbury, Bath, the famous Stonehenge, and about a wonderful little artifact that we call the Heart of Tintagel.

To be continued!

Liz



What’s Your Code?

July 6th, 2011 by Adaire in Lifestyle

I recently watched a rerun of Fast and Furious 4 on HBO. My favorite line in that movie was from O’Connor: “Nothing really matters unless you have a code”. This one line made me look at my life and how I am living it. Am I working towards having a code? Am I working towards something that I can proudly claim as my signature or something that I truly stand for? When people think of Adaire, do their impressions of me really align with who I really am?

In today’s marketplace, you really need to stand out if you want people to notice you. Competition is getting more intense everyday and there is absolutely no room for mediocrity. The trick to winning this competition is to build up on your personal strengths and use that to beat down your opponents. Now before you start asking “Adaire, what the heck does this have to do with having a personal code?” think about it this way: if you don’t know yourself and don’t have a personal code, how can you know what your strengths really are?

Each and every one of us is good at something, and what that something is differs from person to person. Sometimes it takes a while before you figure out what it is you’re good at, but don’t ever think that you’re not good at anything. Perhaps you’re good with calculations, or at writing convincing copy…or maybe you have an amazing singing voice. Whatever it is, even if you aren’t aware of it yet, that strength is there – all you have to do is figure out what it is.

So how do you discover what your strength is? It varies from person to person. Some people just need to just sit down and assess what they’ve achieved so far and what they think they’re capable of. Other people need to hear what their friends have observed about their skills, and have to be pushed in the right direction…like me.

I believe that my main strength lies in my ability to start and run small businesses, but I wasn’t always aware of that fact. I knew I could set up businesses and manage them well, but I never viewed it as anything special. I just thought I was doing something mediocre that everyone else could do if they felt like it. I never really took this talent seriously until a good friend of pointed out how difficult it is to do what I do, and that it’s definitely something that I can use in my career. I believe you are all familiar with this good friend of mine – she happens to be an inspiring lady named Liz Thompson. :)

While most of us struggle to discover what our hidden strengths are, some people seem to have been born knowing what their skills are. For those people, it’s only a matter of waiting for the right opportunities to arrive so that they can show the world what they’ve got. In a sense, it’s kind of like how Hollywood works – many brilliant actors and actresses go unnoticed until they get into a film that serves as their big break, and then boom! They skyrocket into superstardom! :)

To help illustrate the importance of focusing on what you’re good at instead of being pressured by society or your competition into doing the same things that they do, let’s consider the case of Lisa Peck, the author of several success guides.

In her article “Achieve Leadership Excellence No Matter Where You Go” from Healthy Wealthy nWise, Lisa tells us about her own personal experience with struggling to do something that she wasn’t meant to do. Lisa was pursuing a career as a business coach, and she was in a slump. She couldn’t seem to land any clients, and she couldn’t figure out why. And then, in a stroke of horribly bad timing, her coaching school required her to have seven paying clients within one month, or else she would be kicked out. She only had one client at the time, and she felt like giving up.

Then she received a call from an older, more experienced business coach, and it was during that call that she realized what the problem was. In her attempt to sell herself as a coach to corporate males, she was taking a more aggressive, masculine approach to coaching. This wouldn’t have caused her problems if she was naturally good at it, but the truth was that she wasn’t. Being a mother of six, Lisa’s talent lay in her skills as a gentler, more maternal coach. When she realized that and started using that skill to her advantage, her career started picking up, and she no longer had any trouble finding clients.

Being aware of your talent isn’t enough to ensure your success. It’s also important to put in 100% of your efforts into pursuing your goals. Dreams are not achieved overnight, and they certainly don’t come true by themselves. Like most things in life, they require time, patience, and perseverance.

No matter what your strengths are, the road to fulfilling your dreams will be a long and bumpy one, and you’ll need a strong will and the support of the people around you to survive. Going back to Lisa’s own journey, she tripped so many times and suffered from one failure after another, but that didn’t really stop her from getting back up. Sure, she had someone help her get out of the ditch of despair that she found herself in, but it was her own determination that enabled her to make use of that help. If Lisa had truly fallen down in defeat, then she wouldn’t have bothered listening to the advice that was given to her. She would have missed out on many opportunities to further her career, and would have probably forced herself to be content with being a housewife and a failed coach.

Determining your strength is definitely a milestone but finding out how to utilize it to give your life a deeper meaning is a higher level of self-realization that requires constant work. Maybe that’s why O’Connor from Fast and Furious 4 said “I’m working on it” when someone asked him about his code. You’re not only required to find out what your code is, but you are also required to keep working on it in order to achieve your goals.

Adaire


Image by: Idea Go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



How to be wise

June 6th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

“Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.”

The exact words may seem a bit harsh, but the point is clear. We can learn so much from others that can help us avoid their mistakes. Sure, nothing drives a lesson home better than personal experience, but the lesson probably doesn’t change anyway – it just stings a bit more.

Annetta Powell explains this better than I can in her Healthy Wealthy nWise article listing Five Good Reasons for Having a Mentor. One reason she cites is that “a mentor can help you reduce mistakes.” She explains that “you do not need to fail to learn and gain wisdom. A good mentor will show you that his failures are enough for you to avoid mistakes.”

The catch is that “it takes a lot of introspection on your part to fully absorb the depth of failure.” Like I mentioned, personal experience is a great teacher, but with the proper attitude and a bit of introspection, you can learn a lot (and save yourself a lot of pain) by listening to your mentor.

This, of course, begs the question: who is your mentor? Quite possibly, the better question might be this: who should be your mentor? Bill Bartmann has some suggestions on How to Select Your Mentor, also up on Healthy Wealthy nWise.

1. Identify the right mentor for you.
Bill wants you to ask yourself this question: “who’s a knowledgeable expert doing what I want to do who would be kind enough to share what they have with me?” You want to find “someone who knows something, or has done something that you want to know or that you want to be able to do. The idea is that you want to learn something – and you have to find a mentor that can teach you that.

2. Do your due diligence.
When somebody asks Bill Bartmann to be his mentor, Bill asks “why would I want to do that? What would be a compelling reason? What would be my incentive?” His point is that your relationship with your mentor is not a one-way street. Your mentor has to know what you bring to the table too. Do you belong to the same groups or organizations? Do you support the same causes or have any shared interests? Basically, what reasons would he have to spend a significant amount of time with you

3. Determine your specific request.
Bill shares two possible requests he could receive. The first is this:
“Bill, will you be my mentor?”

The second: “Bill, I want you to be my mentor; I want 10 minutes a month with you. And, if you’ll spend 10 minutes a month mentoring me, I promise you that I will in turn spend 10 minutes a month mentoring someone else in the future.”

The difference between the two requests is that the second one quantifies the request and at the same time addresses the mentor’s goals and interests.

Bill explains that asking for 10 minutes a month means that “you’re not going to be calling me every day, interrupting my life, and taking up my time with my wife.” You are asking for something specific. As the relationship grows, the time you spend with your mentor could also grow, but at the beginning, the boundaries must be clear.

Bill emphasizes that he is “on a mission to help people.” The second request makes it clear that you want to help him achieve that goal. Your prospective mentor may have different goals, and your request should address those specific goals.

If you clicked through to read Annetta Powell’s reasons for having a mentor, you probably don’t need to be sold on the merits of having a mentor. However, I’d like to share a few more with you. Ann Rolfe explains why Mentoring Makes Sense in another Healthy Wealthy nWise article.

“It always helps to know you’re not alone and someone is one your side,” Ann explains, “so having a mentor when entering unknown territory will reduce any sense of isolation or overwhelm you may be feeling.” This may be the second greatest thing a mentor gives you.

You’re probably asking, what’s the greatest thing a mentor gives you?

Ann says that “a good mentor understands that you need to make your own decisions.” Your mentor “may offer hints, suggestions, encouragement, support and a different point of view,” but ultimately allows you to choose what you want to do.

This means that your mentor allows you to learn from his mistakes, but also allows you, if you insist on it, to make your own. The question is, who would be foolish enough to do that?

Until the next lesson,
Ric


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



The Truth About What You Want

May 24th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

“Three things cannot be long hidden; the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
- Buddha

Susan Russo starts off her article Tell Yourself the Truth up on Healthy Wealthy nWise with that quote, and I can’t think of a more appropriate statement. Somehow, like the sun and the moon, the truth always comes out.

The truth Susan talks about, however, isn’t a juicy piece of news, or a government secret. The truth Susan talks about is something much more personal – it’s about me, it’s about you, and it’s about all of us.

The truth Susan talks about is this: we can live any way we want if we choose to.

Yes, this is something we all know already, but do we really live by this truth? “Think of all of the excuses you’ve heard people tell themselves to avoid facing reality,” Susan asks. “People don’t exercise because they don’t have the time. They drink because they’re stressed. Children are neglected because the parents are too busy to take 5 minutes out of their days to give to them.”

We all make excuses to avoid things we simply don’t want to deal with. We also make excuses to do the things we want, even when we know those things are bad for us.

Let’s be real here. You don’t smoke or drink because you’re stressed. You do it because you enjoy it, and for a few minutes at least, you feel good.

The reason you don’t exercise isn’t a lack of time. The reason you don’t exercise is that you don’t enjoy it, and there are plenty of other things you’d rather do.

Susan stresses that it’s time to live without excuses. Susan shares the following examples of cutting out excuses: “I’m fat because I don’t exercise and I eat what I want.”

“I’m stressed because I let life and all of its complications upset me.”

“I am in debt because I’m wasteful and don’t cut back in the many ways that I can.”

This list goes on and on, but the idea is clear – you have to face the truth about why you are where you are today. Until then, “until you quit making excuses as to why you can’t;” says Susan “you will continue to have what you’ve got.”

“If you really want to lose weight make the time to work out,” Susan suggests. “If you’re stressed, learn stress management or meditate. If you are struggling financially; create a budget and adhere to it.” If you really want something, stop making excuses, and go out and do something about it.

Another Healthy Wealthy nWise contributor, Debra Kasowski, seems to describe the next steps in here article How to Take Responsibility For Your Own Actions, sharing a few tips on getting what you really want. She shares eight different tips, but I’ll be sharing only a few of my favorites here:

Get Clear on What You Want.
“You can have what you want,” Debra explains, but “many people do not get what they want because they are not always clear on what exactly it is they want or expect from themselves or others.” You have to know what you want, otherwise you don’t have a goal or a direction. What many sometimes forget though is that you also have to make sure the people around you know that too. This way, others can help you achieve your goals, or at the very least not get in the way of them.

Set Your Priorities.
It’s easy to get frustrated when you encounter obstacles to your goals – we can all relate to that. The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is pretty simple: those who stop fail, and those who keep going succeed. Debra gives as an example being unable to block off an hour and half for the gym. Some won’t bother going anymore. “Going to the gym or for a walk for 30 minutes is still better that you coming home to sit on the couch,” Debra explains. “Do something toward reaching your goal instead of nothing.”

Go and Get It.
The tip is Debra’s, but I’ll go back to Susan’s quote for this: “until you quit making excuses as to why you can’t; you will continue to have what you’ve got.” You are responsible for getting what you want. If you really want something, you have to take action and go get it.

To get what we want, we have to stop making excuses, and we have to start moving. Otherwise, we stay right where we are, and that’s the truth.

Stay true,
Ric


Image by: sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Let Go and Move

May 17th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle

My boys Chandler and Stefan are growing up so fast. Chandler is 14 while Stefan is five. I know they are still several years away from their twenties, but after reading James Gladwin’s An Open Letter to Those in Their Twenties and Thirties over at Healthy Wealthy nWise, I couldn’t help but think of my two boys. They’re still my boys, but they’re quickly growing into young men who make their own decisions and make their own marks in this world.

You see, James’ letter may be addressed to the twenty- and thirty- somethings, but I’m sure his message also resonates with people older than that too. I’m sure anybody it also strikes some notes with anybody who has children learning about maturity, responsibility, and independence.

The good news for today’s youth, as James puts it, is that they “have been given so much. It’s probably been the same for every generation, but maybe the stakes are higher, more exciting, more rewarding, more exhilarating and – yes – more scary,” My boys probably don’t feel that fear much (at least not yet), but Liz and I are probably scared enough for the both of them right now.

James’ letter isn’t about fear and the differences between our era and theirs though – his letter is about attitude. James talks about how to approach life, and I believe his advice holds true whether you’re in your twenties, your fifties, or your teens. His first piece of advice:

“Become interested in moving away from meeting expectations. Question the degree to which you are living the life you love, or one that has been designed for you by (well meaning) parents, or your social group.”

This is advice Liz and I give, but when I think about Chandler and Stefan, this same advice scares me a little. I want my boys to do what makes them happy. At the same time, they’re still my boys, and I will always want to protect them and help them in whatever way I can.

The idea that you have to let your children make their own mistakes comes to mind. To live the life you love, you follow your own plan, not one by somebody else. My boys know this already, or at least I hope so. Liz and I know this too, but actually following it and letting go of our boys might prove a bit more difficult.

For the twenty- and thirty- somethings reading this post, I know this piece of advice isn’t very easy to follow either. Your family and friends play a large part in molding you into who you are now, but they don’t define everything. At some point, you have to figure out the difference between the person your parents, teachers, and friends expect you to be, and the person you want to be. It’s not easy, and being a father to two fast-growing boys, I don’t expect your parents to make this easy either.

James shares another, related piece of advice:

“Become interested in moving away from pleasing others. So often that’s how we defined ourselves, pleasing parents, teachers, employers and soon, rather than defining ourselves by what we feel, in our heart’s core, to be authentic.”

It’s natural for us to try and please our parents, teachers, and other authority figures – it’s almost ingrained in us. Trying to please others isn’t in itself a bad thing, but it has a tendency of getting in the way of living your own life. Again, this is about figuring out who you are, and not letting others define that for you.

James also shares with this piece of advice:

“Above all, why not become interested in moving away from ’shoulds’ ‘oughts’ and ‘musts’.”

I don’t think this really needs much explanation – I believe that being true to yourself and pursuing what you love ensures that you will end up living without regrets.

He closes with this idea, explaining how moving away from these, and other things, works:

“When you start ‘moving away’ you are – using the analogy of the river – moving away from the river bank, the shallows, the rocks, into the faster, deeper water, which can carry you further and faster to where you want to go.”

I hope, someday, my boys find themselves further than they ever dreamed they could get.

I also hope, wherever they find themselves, they always find their way back home.

Ric


Image by: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



How Green is Your Home?

April 19th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle

One of our goals with this blog is to “pay it forward,” to make a difference in other people’s lives. We do this by sharing stories, tips, and advice on improving our outlook on life, achieving success, and other topics. Basically, we want to help you Make More and Live More like we have.

As much as we can, we want you to Give More too. We want you to make a difference in other people’s lives. Liz wrote in our first post Why We are Here that “often we’re conditioned to think that we can’t make much of a difference…yet.” She debunks this, saying “that’s just not true.” Back then, we addressed this with the GIVE MORE SALE that funneled your contributions into care packages for abandoned babies in Africa, US troops in Iraq, and school children in Rwanda, among others.

Sending aid out to foreign countries isn’t the only way you can give more though. You can make a difference by taking care of the environment, in the process giving to your neighbors, your children, and possibly, everybody on Earth.

Sorting and recycling your waste as well as reducing your consumption of water and electricity are just a few of the ways to give more to this planet. Maxwell Jason has an article up on Healthy Wealthy nWise entitled Why Choose A Green Home? In his post, he lists a few reasons you want a green or eco-friendly home. I think going green is a great way to Give More. In the process, you probably make your home more comfortable, meaning you Live More too.

1. Lowered Utility Bills in a Green Home
Maxwell explains that “one of the most noticeable differences of living in Green home is the significant reduction in utility bills such as water and electricity.” So you give back to the planet, you live more by living more comfortably, and you make more by saving on utilities too? Isn’t that great?

2. Better Temperature Control
One of the most important aspects of a Green home is proper insulation. This keeps the temperature inside the house fairly constant, regardless of the conditions outside. This leads to savings on air conditioning and heating.

3. Cost Effective Use of Solar Power
Free electricity from a practically unlimited source – need I say more? This feature is one of the more expensive aspects of eco-friendly living, but if you can afford it, it’s one of the best things about a Green house.

4. Aids in Waste Reduction
“In order to reduce the dependency on water treatment plants, these homes use waste water from dishwaters or washing machines for irrigation purposes for the garden or washing cars and toilets,” Maxwell explains. He also adds that “many homes come equipped with rainwater collectors which are used for similar purpose.” If you can reconfigure your piping, or if you’re only starting to build your house, you can start recycling “gray” water, and once it’s all set up, you won’t even have to think about it.

5. Improved Quality of Air
“Many traditional building materials emit toxic gases,” Maxwell says. “Environment friendly homes avoid them completely because these gases are hazardous to health and can severely harm infants and little children.” If that isn’t a reason to go Green, I don’t know what is. Maxwell also explains that some Green homes “come fully equipped with adequate ventilation and air filtration for all rooms of a home especially the isolated ones such as the kitchen,” and this leads to improved indoor air quality.

It would be great if we can all buy or move into fully Green homes, but even if you can’t go Green all the way, there are ways you can improve your home to make them more ecologically friendly. Using glass with insulating features for your home, installing a rainwater collector to irrigate your garden, and replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL (compact flourescent) or LED lights are just some of the ways you can go Green, and give more, in your own small way.

How Green is your home? Can you think of other ways to help your house Give More to your neighbors, your children, and your planet?

Keep giving,
Ric


Image by: Idea Go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



The Truth About What You Want

March 29th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

“Three things cannot be long hidden; the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Buddha

Susan Russo starts off her article Tell Yourself the Truth up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise with that quote, and I can’t think of a more appropriate statement.  Somehow, like the sun and the moon, the truth always comes out.

The truth Susan talks about, however, isn’t a juicy piece of news, or a government secret. The truth Susan talks about is something much more personal – it’s about me, it’s about you, and it’s about all of us.

The truth Susan talks about is this: we can live any way we want if we choose to.

Yes, this is something we all know already, but do we really live by this truth? “Think of all of the excuses you’ve heard people tell themselves to avoid facing reality,” Susan asks. “People don’t exercise because they don’t have the time. They drink because they’re stressed. Children are neglected because the parents are too busy to take 5 minutes out of their days to give to them.”

We all make excuses to avoid things we simply don’t want to deal with. We also make excuses to do the things we want, even when we know those things are bad for us.

Let’s be real here. You don’t smoke or drink because you’re stressed. You do it because you enjoy it, and for a few minutes at least, you feel good.

The reason you don’t exercise isn’t a lack of time. The reason you don’t exercise is that you don’t enjoy it, and there are plenty of other things you’d rather do.

Susan stresses that it’s time to live without excuses. Susan shares the following examples of cutting out excuses: “I’m fat because I don’t exercise and I eat what I want.”

“I’m stressed because I let life and all of its complications upset me.”

“I am in debt because I’m wasteful and don’t cut back in the many ways that I can.”

This list goes on and on, but the idea is clear – you have to face the truth about why you are where you are today. Until then, “until you quit making excuses as to why you can’t;” says Susan “you will continue to have what you’ve got.”

“If you really want to lose weight make the time to work out,” Susan suggests. “If you’re stressed, learn stress management or meditate. If you are struggling financially; create a budget and adhere to it.” If you really want something, stop making excuses, and go out and do something about it.

Another Healthy Wealthy n Wise contributor, Debra Kasowski, seems to describe the next steps in here article How to Take Responsibility For Your Own Actions, sharing a few tips on getting what you really want. She shares eight different tips, but I’ll be sharing only a few of my favorites here:

Get Clear on What You Want.

“You can have what you want,” Debra explains, but “many people do not get what they want because they are not always clear on what exactly it is they want or expect from themselves or others.” You have to know what you want, otherwise you don’t have a goal or a direction. What many sometimes forget though is that you also have to make sure the people around you know that too. This way, others can help you achieve your goals, or at the very least not get in the way of them.

Set Your Priorities.

It’s easy to get frustrated when you encounter obstacles to your goals – we can all relate to that. The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is pretty simple: those who stop fail, and those who keep going succeed. Debra gives as an example being unable to block off an hour and half for the gym. Some won’t bother going anymore. “Going to the gym or for a walk for 30 minutes is still better that you coming home to sit on the couch,” Debra explains. “Do something toward reaching your goal instead of nothing.”

Go and Get It.

The tip is Debra’s, but I’ll go back to Susan’s quote for this: “until you quit making excuses as to why you can’t; you will continue to have what you’ve got.” You are responsible for getting what you want. If you really want something, you have to take action and go get it.

To get what we want, we have to stop making excuses, and we have to start moving. Otherwise, we stay right where we are, and that’s the truth.

Stay true,

Ric


Image by: sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotso.net



Ask Away!

March 1st, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle

My boy Stefan (and to lesser extent, Chandler) asks me and Liz about a million questions each day. Daddy, how come you can grow a mustache and I can’t? How do hummingbirds stay in place while they fly? Why does cutting onions make me cry? I could probably fill pages with his questions, but that means I’d have to remember them all – that would take too long.

I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m thankful. Having to very inquisitive boys keeps me and Liz on our toes, and helps keep us asking our own questions too.

Kenrick Cleveland has a post up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise entitled Cultivate Your Curiosity where he highlights the value of staying curious. Kids are naturally curious about anything and everything, but somehow lose this curiosity bit by bit as we grow older.

Kenrick doesn’t quite outline these things in his article, but I picked up on three reasons to stay curious:

Avoiding Stagnation

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” – Walt Disney

Kenrick describes how some people, as they get grow older, “they lose a certain passion, their hunger for achievement begins to wane.” The Walt Disney quote above tackles this pretty well – as you find new and interesting things to do, you may find ways to get back the hunger and passion of your younger years. At the very least, you’ll probably find new hobbies and activities to occupy your time.

Persuading Others

“The best way to persuade people is with your ears – by listening to them.” -  Dean Rusk

Curiosity allows to “learn, understand and know our clients in such a way that we can combine what we have to offer them with their view of the world, their criteria.” The more you know about others, the more likely it is that you can sway them to your point of view.

Lifelong Learning

“You learn something every day if you pay attention.” – Ray LeBlond

“When you’re curious,” Kenrick says, “you can turn the mundane into an opportunity to learn something.” Do I really need to say any more than that?

Something that Kenrick seems to point to in his article, but never quite mentions, is that curiosity leads to creativity. That last quote really captures the idea quite well – the most mundane things can be great opportunities for learning, and also for inspired ideas.

“Curiosity is the key to creativity.” -  Akio Morita

The way I see it is that asking questions is like letting your brain go free. Curiosity requires allowing your mind to wander to different places and explore different possibilities – the same things you need to come up with creative ideas.

Confused? I’ll borrow ideas from another contributor to Healthy Wealthy n Wise, Bob Proctor. In his concisely titled post Imagination, Bob introduces the concept of “Fantasy – Theory – Fact” and explains that “everything has its origination in the form of fantasy, which some adventurous souls dare turn into a theory and then boldly turn into fact.”

Everything started with somebody’s fantasy, Bob explains, citing how “communicating by email, traveling on jets, cellular phones or wearing synthetic garments were, a very short time ago, sheer fantasy. Today, they are considered commonplace.”

The fact is that almost all of the life-changing inventions started with somebody asking questions. Why did the candy bar in my pocket melt all of a sudden? Why do these burrs keep sticking to my clothes? How do I keep the people from accidentally ripping the pockets off off their work pants?

You probably have questions of your own swimming in your head, and some of them just might lead to some fantastic ideas. Turning those fantasies into theories and facts – that’s something we have to tackle some other time.

Why? I’d like to share with one more quotation with you to explain:

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers” – Voltaire

You may not have the answers you’re looking for yet, but if you’re already asking the right questions, you’re on the way to finding them.

So, what questions have you asked today?

Stay curious,

Ric


Image by: Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Attitude – That Little Thing That Makes A Big Difference

February 3rd, 2011 by Adaire in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.  ~Dwight Eisenhower

I have always found myself gravitating towards the side of the room where the sun seems to be brighter, the flowers taller, people’s energies higher, moods lighter and smiles wider.  I noticed this about myself whenever I attend business conventions.  When it’s time to step into the hall, scan the crowd for familiar faces, and choose a direction to move towards to, I would always  choose to seat myself with people who are positive and light. :)

Thinking back, I now believe it’s the attitude of these kinds of people that “invite” me to move towards them.  It’s the kind of upbeat energy that they carry, and the vibe they send out that makes talking to them interesting and time well-spent.  I am certain that it’s that little thing called attitude that makes a big difference. :)

I say this now as I recall an article I read in Small Business CEO Magazine online magazine last July.  This article was written by Brian Tracy, one of the leading authorities on personal and business success.  Brian gives fast-moving talks and seminars on ideas and strategies for better results in both areas.  His article entitled Attitude versus Aptitude, sites the 80/20 rule on success:  80% being determined by attitude & 20% by aptitude.

Brian’s article speaks primarily to salesmen and business people.  Skill and knowledge are important to sell, but a big cut of the success pie will come from the salesman’s attitude. Brian encourages sales people to develop a good attitude:  A positive mental attitude, or a constructive and optimistic way of looking at yourself and your work, goes hand in hand with sales success in every field and in every market. The development of this unshakable attitude of cheerfulness and enthusiasm is your springboard to greatness as a salesperson, no matter what is going on around you.” :)

Bright & sunny vs. dark & twisted

We all have friends who seem to be heavy to be around with.  I have a couple of them who make me feel gloomier whenever I need cheering up, or less encouraged whenever I need motivation.  It’s the exact opposite feeling I would like to end up with whenever I need a good talk.  They’re not helpful at all and I realized these are the kind of people that will weigh me down.  They’re the ones on top of my “to avoid list”. :)

My bright and sunny friends, on the other hand, are the real keepers.  Though admittedly, sometimes, they can get too bright and sunny for me, I just love their attitude and outlook.  I go to them when I need a quick picker-upper, encouragement, or simply positive viewpoints in life. :)

Let’s talk shopping.  J  Is it just me or it’s true for everyone else that you tend to buy more (even stuff you don’t really need! J) when you’re attended to by a salesperson who’s cheerful and upbeat?  Whose smile takes away your fatigue and worries of the day and whose comments just make you feel so much better?  I tell you, I’m a real sucker for bright and sunny.  Just the thought of adding to cheerio-saleslady’s commission makes me happy to walk out of the store with packages I enjoyed spending on.  :)

A song in your heart

In Brian’s Attitude versus Aptitude article, he recommends two exercises that can help develop a positive attitude.  The first is to, “resolve today to develop and cultivate an attitude of calm, confident, positive expectations towards yourself, your customers and your career. Expect the best!”

Sometimes, it’s easier said than done, but it is really so much better when we live our lives carrying a song in our pocket and a heart full of hope and positive energy.  It makes our step lighter and our work load less stressful, our outlook in life so much more hopeful, the possibilities limitless! :)

A positive mental attitude

“Second, take complete control of your thinking and concentrate on the solution rather than the problem. Look for the good in every situation. Be positive and cheerful, no matter what happens.

It’s really one’s attitude that makes a big difference when one is deluged with many problems and challenges that need resolving.  The negative person would just slump lower, but the one with the positive attitude will focus on dealing with the problem.  And will still be able to take stock of the many other things that he is grateful for. :)

Having a positive way of thinking is an invaluable asset in time of great difficulty.  This is when you can shout and face your problem and say, “My strengths and capabilities are bigger than you!”  :)

Now let’s not forget about the 20% that Brian talks about in Attitude versus Aptitude – skill and ability.  Of course, no matter how bright and sunny you are, if you don’t fully know what you’re selling and what you’re talking about, you’ll never to close that sale at all.  Part of developing that positive mental attitude is sharpening your skill and honing your abilities.  Know everything you need to know, own your product like it’s the back of your hand.  This will give you the confidence to sell more and do more! :)

The positive soul

I came across another article on positivism by Ken Harness, a success coach that aims to help people take self-improvement to the next level.  He writes about 7 ways to develop a positive attitude:

  • Take passionate action towards living your life.  Don’t just go through the motions.  Truly live each moment. :) you.
  • Act instead of react.  Being proactive makes you responsible for what happens to you.
  • Believe that each moment is perfect regardless of its outcome.  See the good in every situation instead of dwelling on the bad side. :)
  • Learn to always be grateful for what you have.  “It’s a well-known fact among successful people that having gratitude will get you more than never being satisfied.” :)
  • Seize every opportunity that you can get instead of regretting it later.  Develop that sixth sense for opportunities that should be taken.
  • Always keep your sense of humor. Don’t take yourself, or life, too seriously. Learn to laugh and you will be more positive, especially if you can learn to laugh at yourself. :)
  • Believe that you are in charge of your destiny. No one can take your dreams from you except for you.  It’s what you make of yourself and your life that you can control.

In this game called life, it’s the fight in us that spells success or failure.  It’s the positive attitude that we develop that attracts all the good things around us, that make possibilities limitless, and success a mere step away.

The person who successfully develops this kind of right attitude can definitely make more, live more, and give more! :)

Keep your hearts happy and light! :)

Adaire


Image by: Graur Codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



How to Sell Like a Car Dealer

January 25th, 2011 by Ric in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

Most sales are emotional decisions, but car purchases are probably more emotional than most. Yes, numbers for horsepower, torque, top speed, and acceleration are always thrown around, and other things such as safety ratings, insurance premiums, and warranties are usually in the discussion. In the end, however, it’s still an emotional decision. Practically any car can get you from point A to B, but the one that feels right, feels safe, looks good, and of course, fits in your budget – that’s the car that ends up in your garage.

Selling yourself (or anything you have to offer) is not that different from selling a car. You can paint yourself as an expert and list your accomplishments, yet still not make any sales. Like the list of specs on a car brochure, your credentials don’t mean a whole lot to prospective buyers – at least not now. They care about how you make them feel. Trust comes a bit later.

So the question now is, how do you start? I’ve come up with a few tips that might help:

1. Choose your target

In her article How to Get Prospects to Value Your Expertise up on Healthy Wealth n Wise , Allison Babb explains that you want to “discover what type of person or business would be an ideal match for what you offer.”

If, for example, you were selling a 2-seater sports car, you probably shouldn’t pitch it to a couple with 2 young children looking for a daily driver. If they were looking for a second car, then maybe, but a single executive would probably be a better match.

Allison gives an example of a social media marketing expert. “If she’s talking to a person who has zero interest in understanding Facebook or Twitter, it’s unlikely that person would value her expertise.” Somebody who already shows interest in social media would be a much better prospect.

2. Get them emotionally involved

“First, you need to gain attention by using a provocative title.” This is one of the first ideas Cathleen Fillmore shares in her Internet Marketing TNT article entitled Gaining Trust with Your Prospects. You want to appeal to your prospect’s emotions first, whether by presenting them with something they desire, a problem that irks them, or a story that simply grabs them. With cars, this is how the car looks and feels. A car with a shiny paint job and a plush interior invites you to get inside and drive. One that looks dirty – not so much.

“Your promo material is a kind of invitation that needs to have great copy and great graphics and a very compelling promise,” Cathleen explains. By appealing to your prospect’s emotions, you make them receptive to you and what you have to offer. When you do this, then you start answering the question, “why should I pick you?”

3. Blow your own horn (but not too much)

This is when you start talking about yourself and what you have to offer. This is when you discuss your credentials, describe your offer, present testimonials, and basically prove that your prospects can trust you.

This is much like showing off what’s under the hood of your car and going for a test drive. This is when you gain your prospect’s trust. By giving proof that what you have to offer is good, are more likely to make a sale.

I’m sure there are dozens of other lessons we can pick up from car dealers, but I’ve decided to highlight only three of my favorites here. What other tips can you suggest?

Ric


Image by: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net