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by On July 25, 2012

by Robb on July 23, 2012

I’m pretty much drowning in post-Tour de France articles.  I’ve been reading all about prize lists and contract speculations, who’s prepping for the Olympics and a TON of (wannabe) tech articles.

Then I found this one about American Tejay Van Garderen.

I had to get to the last paragraph of the article to find the hidden gem, but it is in there.  Isn’t it interesting that arguably the “next great American rider” isn’t focusing on how to totally revamp his training or his form or his focus in order to make himself a better Grand Tour rider.  He’s focusing on “those 1% improvements”.

Imagine if you were the “next great (Insert title here)”.  Where are the tiny areas you would focus on improving in order to take yourself to the next level?  Why not do it anyway?

The Key to Happiness??
by On July 25, 2012

by Jana Owen on July 24, 2012

As human beings, especially Americans, we are always looking for something to make us happy…

“If I get this job….then I will be happy”

“If I lose weight….then I will be happy”

“If I had more money…..then I will be happy”

But the truth of the matter is….we are responsible for our own happiness. Your spouse is not responsible, your boss is not responsible, and your kids are DEFINITELY not responsible for your happiness.

What does your life look like when you are happy? Take a minute and envision what you feel and what is happening when you are happy. You might picture lying on a beach, getting a massage, after sex, or spending time with friends. Chances are you probably have a pleasure oriented contentment – or a hedonic happiness in mind.

Hedonic happiness is no doubt important for your well being. But what about eudaimonic well-being? Eudaimonia is a greek word commonly translated to happiness; though happiness hardly captures the meaning of this word. According to Aristotle, it is the noblest goal in life. The highest possible potential for your spirit. “Personal growth,” in today’s lingo is now the central concept of eudaimonia, which includes recognizing your true purpose and pushing yourself for new goals and challenges.

According to Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “The positive emotion accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being.” Eudaimonia is also good for the body. Women who scored high on psychological tests for it (they were purposefully engaged in life, pursued self-development) weighed less, slept better, and had fewer stress hormones and markers for heart disease than others—including those reporting hedonic happiness—according to a study led by Carol Ryff, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I found this particularly fascinating when I observed my own journey with personal development. I can honestly say, my happiness increased 100 fold since I began my personal growth journey. It has been painful at times, challenging to say the least, uncomfortable on a regular basis, and seem crazy to some…but I have never been so fulfilled. I love improving my eudaimonic self!

How can you improve your eudaimonic well being? A few things that might help…

Make sure you have meaningful goals and a vision for your future

Aggressive mental care is necessary (what are you feeding your mind, what are you reading, listening to, who are you surrounding yourself with)

Gratitude – the root of joy – it is a practice, not a given

Give to others, if you are consistently living a “me me me” life, I will almost bet your eudaimonic well-being needs some TLC.  (I am speaking from experience on this one)

I challenge you… just for a week – do something every day for your personal happiness – for your eudaimonia. That might look like taking time for you, journaling, seeking out a therapist, actively forgiving someone who has hurt you, apologize for a past mistake, listen to motivating audio in the car, or volunteering at a shelter. Anything that will improve your personal growth is going to improve your eudaimonia.

I wish you all Happiness!!

Thank You Mister Gardener
by On July 25, 2012

by dshoup on July 24, 2012

I firmly believe the adage that “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. This has happened to us all on countless occasions during our lives and often from the most unexpected of teachers. Whether it was a lesson learned from a failure, or something a mentor shared that finally took root in our mind; to the day you learned the value of loyalty from Han Solo watching the first Star Wars movie at the age of six…. Okay, that last one might only be specific to me, but there is no way I (or anyone) would learn these lessons without being ready to finally hear the message being sent. My most recent teacher was a proud gardener.

While I was walking in my neighborhood I had the good fortune to come across an amazing garden. Now, I know it was amazing because, I don’t spend a lot of time noticing gardens and if I noticed it, it must be pretty good. This was the kind of garden you see in magazines. Looking at it you would guess the owner spent hours and hours of time each day to keep it in the shape it was. It was truly beautiful.

The reason this is even important is because the next house I passed had a garden that was almost the polar opposite of its neighbor. Simply put, it was a wreck. The owner happened to be at this house and was diligently picking at the weeds, which seemed to me a futile effort because they were everywhere. In passing, she said with frustration that she “waited to long to prepare the garden for the season” and that she “was going be playing a lot of catch up on this garden from hell.” I agreed, and wished her luck in her efforts, but knew she was in for a lot of dissapointment.

On my way back around the owner of the “amazing garden” (who I’ll call Mr Gardener) happened to be out watering his plants. So, after I congratulated him on his beautiful work I asked him what he did to keep his garden is such good shape. He chuckled and said, “this is going to sound crazy, but I don’t do much anymore.” He could tell by my confused expression I didn’t believe him so, he quickly elaborated. “Of course, I spend time on upkeep, but I only need to do a little each day now to maintain what I have created.” I asked him if there was anything else he did to keep it so sharp looking and without a second thought he said “Don’t you know, this is a prize-winning garden?” “Really?”, I asked with excitement. “No, not literally, but I treat it like it was. I believe my garden is the best in the neighborhood and as a result it is.”

Well, I thanked him for his time and, in my mind, I thanked him for the wonderful lesson he gave me and rushed home to write it down. From the most unlikely of situations and the most unlikely of people, thank you Mr Gardener, I learned (re-learned is more like it) these three things:

1) Get Your Hands Dirty Early
The main difference between Mr. Gardener and his counterpart was that he put all his hard work on the front end so, he could reap the benefits on the back end. Albert E.N. Gray says that successful people “form the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” What made Mr Gardeners yard a success was that simple rule.

 

 

 

2) Weed Your Garden NOW!
Whenever Mr. Gardener saw a weed he took care of it immediately. He took action and did not let any unwanted plant
take root. The more we wait to accomplish the simple tasks, whether in business or in life, the more pain it causes you in the future and the bigger and more daunting the task becomes.

3) Treat Your Business Like a Prize-Winning Garden
Our hero had a clear vision of what his garden was going to look like and as a result settled for nothing less than a prize-winning garden. When he got it he was not surprised because he had been treating it that way from the beginning. Here is a quote I am bringing back that was extremely helpful as I started my business. “I am the best! Some may be as good as me, but no one is better. I am the best!”

Thank you Mr Gardener.

Why Your Morning Routine Can Make or Break Your Career
by On July 23, 2012

Onlinecollege.org

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Think of your home as your base camp of operations from which you attack the day. Are you adequately arming yourself for the skirmishes you’ll face before sundown? Is your mind sharp and focused, ready to solve problems, prove your worth, and advance your career over the next hill? Whether we realize it or not, all of us have a morning routine. Most of us craft this routine around maximizing sleep: wake up as late as possible to still make it in on time, get ready quick, eat fast, and go. But we’re here to tell you why your work life will prosper when you treat your morning with the respect it deserves.

MORNING IS THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO GET THINGS DONE:

The book on radical leadership you’ve been meaning to read. The online course you’ve been meaning to start. The blogs with the great work advice (ahem) you’ve been meaning to catch up on. All of these are activities that would be so good for you as a person and an employee, and you’re so going to undertake them when you have time. But haven’t you heard, it’s the people who make time who have it? The most successful people recognize that as the day goes on, the number of time-suckers vying for your attention only multiplies. Morning is the best time to do these projects, when you’ve got the fresh willpower and the promise of a new dawn.

 

IT’S A CHANCE TO ATTACK THE DAY PROACTIVELY:

By definition, being proactive means acting ahead of time to plan or strategize for an expected difficulty. If you don’t make a habit of doing this in the morning, you run the risk of dealing with problems reactively and on-the-fly, without the benefit of a solution in mind. The metaphor for this approach is “putting out fires,” which implies some stuff is going to get burned while you’re trying to find the extinguisher. CEO Steve Murphy recommends simply writing out your thoughts for the day on a yellow pad each morning.

IT AFFECTS THE REST OF YOUR DAY’S PERFORMANCE:

Your stress levels are highest in the morning. If your routine consists of waking up rushed, throwing your things together, grabbing coffee and a toaster pastry, and launching out the door, you’ve perfectly prepared yourself to be harried by the time you get to work and need to focus. By mid-afternoon the adrenaline has worn off, and you’re drained. Creating a morning routine that is slow-paced gives your stress level time to come down while you make and enjoy a healthy breakfast (see below), read, pray or meditate, see your kids off to school, and generally prepare for the day. To give yourself more morning time, get chores like making your lunch or ironing what you’re going to wear out of the way the night before.

EXERCISING IN THE MORNING GIVES YOU THE MOST BENEFIT:

Obviously anything that makes you physically healthier helps you in all areas of life, and work is no exception. But exercising after work at the end of the day involves the danger of interfering with sleep: the evidence indicates a tough workout within two hours of bedtime can hurt your ability to fall asleep. Research also suggests people who exercise in the morning are better at making a habit of it. They also get a mood boost that last for hours, even after a 20-minute workout, according to studies.

 

 

MORNING IS HOME TO THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY:

Again, being in good health has no downside for your career. And though some of those old phrases we’ve all heard are bunk, this one is absolutely true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy morning meal improves your concentration and mental performance, both great benefits for work life. If your career involves employing muscles below the neck, there’s good news for you as well, as you increase endurance and strength with the right breakfast foods. In the “breaking your career” category, we have to put drinking coffee. Sorry, but java can lead to higher stress levels, cause anxiety, raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and interfere with sleep. All the more reason to give yourself time to wake up naturally in the morning.

IT CAN HELP YOU KEEP YOUR LIFE PLAN IN MIND:

As we mentioned, morning can be the time you do those things you’ve intended to do for a while. While some of them may be minor odds and ends, some of them may involve major goals you want to achieve in your life, like writing a novel or becoming bilingual. Yes, you can work on these on the weekends if you’re dedicated, but even if you do there are still five days out of the week where you could be making progress on your long-term plans. A solid morning routine lets you step back from thoughts of the immediate future and really consider where your career is headed and what you need to do today to continue moving in the right direction.

 

IT CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CREATIVITY:

If you’re counting on coming up with a brilliant business idea or money-saving practice to get you promoted, you could be hurting your chances by the way you start the day. The best elements for fostering creativity take place, you guessed it, in the morning. A recent study published in scientific journal Thinking and Reasoning showed that in the time after rising when you’re half-awake and unfocused, you often make connections between things that you probably would not make when you’re fully awake. Rushing through this time limits your chances of inspiration striking. Another study in Psychological Science found that “cognitive flexibility” is highest when our mood is positive, as it is when we take our time getting ready and are not stressed.

A HEALTHY ROUTINE REQUIRES GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP:

Once you start cutting into your sleep time in the morning to get up earlier, you’ll have to go to bed earlier to keep from feeling groggy during the day. The beauty here is that many researchers believe each hour of sleep you get before midnight is worth two hours after 12 a.m., meaning you get all those health benefits in twice the proportion when you get to bed earlier, notably your ability to learn and remember, an improvement in your mood, and a healthy immune system so you don’t have to take as much sick time.