Those two words sum up my volunteer experiences at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Based in Whistler, BC, for 25 days I was a National Olympic Committee Assistant. Initially assigned to the Chile delegation, I was reassigned for the final 10 or so days to the delegation from San Marino. And in between I helped out the Israeli delegation.
Working and being among the best athletes and coaches in the world moved my game up a lot of notches.
Everyday there were smiles. Big smiles. There was joy in the Athlete’s Village and in Whistler. People were smiling. They were happy.
The athletes and coaches were very focused and the volunteers could sense that focus, that determination, that drive to be the best; to outwit the cold, the snow, the rain, and whatever obstacles were put in their way.
I learned a lot about teams, about competing, about competitions, and about life. And I experienced and felt Pure Joy.
I will be blogging about how my Olympic experiences can be transferred to successful and strong businesses. I hope you’ll join me.
It’s the New Year! It’s time to celebrate!
So, how many times in a year do you celebrate?
Oh sure, you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates. But many of these are one-offs. They happen only once a year.
What do you do on the other 364 days? Can you imagine what it would be like to have a celebration (however big or small) every month? Or every week? Or every day? You can.
Celebrations don’t have to cost money nor do they have to take time to plan.
One very important activity I am learning (and continue to learn) is to celebrate. Some pundits say, “Celebrate all wins”. Me? I don’t want to wait for the “win”. I’m learning to celebrate when I finish a task, or even a section of a project.
For instance, I celebrate every time I deposit a cheque. I celebrate every time I “do what’s hard” no matter what that is.
Many of these celebrations are “out loud”. I sing, I dance, I hum, I whistle a tune and do a multitude of other activities to celebrate.
I also celebrate (usually quietly) every time my almost-86 year old mother answers her phone.
In learning to celebrate I discovered another way to conquer Business Attention Deficit Disorder.
If I celebrate the end of every task of every project, then the work involved in those tasks and projects doesn’t seem as onerous. I work with the end in mind. And the end is a celebration!
“That’ s fin”, you say,”but what types of celebrations do you have, how much do they cost and how do you prevent getting bored with your celebrations?”
My first choice for celebration is playing Kool and the Gang’s Celebration video. I have a short cut on my desktop. And I’ll be playing it once I finish this post even though I just played it because I accomplished another task.
It may sound corny but here’s how I customize the song. There’s lots of instrumentals in this song so after the band sings and the instrumental section starts I add the words “I finished <task name>” Then when there’s an opportunity while the band sings, I add “I finished <task name>”.
A MINIMUM of 10 times during the song I add in the words â€˜I finished <task name>â€™. The combination of singing the words <I finished <task name> and dancing reinforces in the cells of my body and my mind, what I accomplished.
It makes me feel good. I have energy. My spirits are lifted and I’m ready to take on another task or project so I can celebrate again! Oh yeah, and I get up off my chair and dance too. It’s fun.
And if life isn’t fun and if work is’t fun or if I can’t do something to make the un-fun part of life and work fun, I procrastinate and avoid that part of my business as long as I can. And when I avoid those un-fun parts of my business, my business will suffer from Business Attention Deficit Disorder.
So now you know my first choice for celebrating. Try it yourself. Watch Kool and the Gang’s Celebration song on YouTube or download it onto your MP3 or iPod and next time you have a bank deposit, play the song once the transaction is complete. Who cares if you’re dancing out the door of the bank or bopping in your car? Celebrate! You deserve it!
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
How often does your list of ‘to do’s’ exceed your capacity to actually get the tasks completed? Does the list seem overwhelming, or do YOU feel overwhelmed by the list?
Understanding the difference between the two and then learning to manage the overwhelming feeling is one key to surviving and conquering Business Attention Deficit Disorder.
In the 14th century, the verb ‘overwhelm’ literally meant to turn over, to cover up and to cover over completely. In other words, a ‘thing’ could be overwhelmed. An army for instance could be overwhelmed by another army, they would be overcome by a superior force or by greater numbers and be defeated.
Today, ‘overwhelm’ has been expanded to include a force that overpowers someone, either someone else or ourselves, either physically or emotionally.
So what is this force; this feeling of being overwhelmed? The force is an emotion linked to a feeling that whatever is to be done is more than what can be accomplished either by time or people or resources. That emotion is fear.
We create feelings of fear that there’s not enough time or enough resources based on what we think which may or may not be the reality. The feeling of being overwhelmed is directly caused by us, ignoring or avoiding that which we fear.
This nagging, annoying, struggling, overwhelming feeling can continue to haunt us every day, and sometimes every hour or every minute. And that’s when stress and pressure start to show on us and in our business.
This pressure, this constant state of worry and urgency, often means we stall. We stall about making the decision on that which is overwhelming us. We procrastinate because it’s the THOUGHT of tackling the work, the project, the task that causes us to feel overwhelmed, to feel stressed, and to be fearful.
This feeling, if left unchecked, builds mind fatigue and eventually, body fatigue. And when we’re fatigued we’re not at our best and our business is not at its best. By not tackling the work, the project, the task, our business suffers from Business Attention Deficit Disorder.
What can we do to help us fight through the overwhelming feeling? What strategies that will allow us to work through the fear without becoming overwhelmed by the fear.
The process that works for me involves taking one baby step. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I take a deep breath and state what I’m feeling overwhelmed about. Then I state the first, easy result I can get by doing something. And you know what? The overwhelming feeling I had, starts to disappear.
Once I’ve completed the baby step I need a reward (and you should have one too!). My personal favourite is Kool and the Gang’s Celebration video on YouTube. I play that video every time I take a baby step. Someday I know that having played the song enough times I’ll associate all my overwhelming feelings with a celebration of how good it feels to take those steps.
It seems to have taken me a long time to figure this out. Some days it’s slow plodding through the procrastination to break free of the fear. But I know it’s worth it. Not only do I celebrate my steps, I’ve discovered the loss of the overwhelming feeling, the loss of the fear, has become another victory in the fight against Business Attention Deficit Disorder.
One summer I spent a week at Peak Potential’s personal development Warrior Training camp. Of all the content and reinforcement I received that week, the expression, “Do what’s hard and life will be easy,” seemed to trigger a nerve.
Why? Because it’s directly related to Business Attention Deficit Disorder. People with Business ADD will often ignore parts of the business they don’t like, or don’t do well in, because, well, they don’t like it or do it well!
Why don’t they like it and why don’t they perform that part of the work in their business? Because it’s hard. And when we believe something is hard we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on how hard it is rather than looking at it objectively or just plowing through and doing it.
This past week I noticed some of my new found Warrior traits were falling victim to my conditioned mind. I wasn’t practising all I learned because it was ‘hard’. It’s hard to get up at 5:30 and go for a 5 km walk in the dark. It’s cold too. I thought of every good excuse and some pretty poor ones so I could stay under my warm covers and go back to sleep.
In my business, I was finding it harder and harder to get bookkeeping caught up. And of course, each week more receipts and cheques come in, more invoices and cheques go out and the paper pile is growing.
Now it’s really hard because I have to spread all the papers out on a large table and sort by month before I can even consider sorting by credit card and bank statement and matching invoices to customer statements.
And then I heard it in my head.The booming voice I heard every day for 5 days this summer. And all it said was, “Do what’s hard and life will be easy.”
Since what I was doing (which was nothing) wasn’t getting my bookkeeping done I decided to choose one ‘hard’ thing, do it, and see how life could be easier.
Sorting out paper receipts and invoices and then matching them to bills and statements is one of the hardest jobs for me. It’s picky detail work and I don’t like it. [surprised are you???]
I chose sorting out all the paper, receipts, invoices and statements. And it was hard. I had to read receipts that were smudged, interpret dates [does 07/06/09 mean July 6 or June 7, 2009 or is it one of my left over receipts from June 9 2007?] and then sort them into months. Then I had to take each month and sort by credit cards and match invoices to statements.And then match all the deposit slips to the bank statement.
It’s an ugly job and if I had kids I’d pay them to do it! But I digress.
I accomplished the paper work, put all the papers together and put each month in its own file folder. The file folders went on my desk ready to be entered.
That was Friday last week. Today is Monday. The folders are still sitting where I left them. I did what was hard and then decided I didn’t have to do anything else hard.
Apparently that’s not how the system works.
I decided that ‘Do what’s hard and life will be easy’ needs some fine tuning. For me, it’s now ”Do what’s hard and do it until it’s finished, and life will not only be easy, it will be enjoyable’.
I’m thinking now of all the fun things I COULD be doing on a cool and sunny afternoon. Instead I’m doing what I don’t like – accounting.
I’ve resolved that as of today, I’m finishing what is hard and then life will not only be easy, it will be enjoyable.
And next month this process won’t be hard [because I said it won't be] and I’ll be able to relax and enjoy life.
That’s my story. I’m sticking to it.
William James, one of the founders of modern psychology wrote: “Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.”
Think of your business for a moment. How many ‘uncompleted tasks’ do you have? What about the marketing campaign you were going to start? Or the new employee you wanted to hire but didn’t have the ‘energy’ to train? All of these ‘uncompleted tasks’ can cause Business Attention Deficit Disorder. Tasks that are ‘a-voided’.
Sometimes NOT doing the task is more tiring than actually doing it. Why?
Because our conditioned mind continually reminds us what we haven’t done. Our conditioned mind doesn’t reward us for what we have done because, well, it’s done. Having our mind constantly remind us about tasks left undone is emotionally exhausting.
You don’t have tasks ‘un-done’? Try this:
How many times, have you ‘remembered’ a task deadline or a promise or an event, right in the middle of something totally unrelated to that task, promise or event?
That’s an ‘un-done’ or ‘uncompleted task’.
This morning I awakened early ‘remembering’ that I hadn’t left a cheque for a colleague, where I said I would. I had totally forgotten about the promise. But my conditioned mind remembered. And it reminded me, probably all night. Then my mind kicked back in, beating me up. “Why didn’t you put the cheque where you said you would? Why did you leave this task uncompleted? That’s typical of you, Marilyn, you say something and then forget.”
I was exhausted listening to my conditioned mind beat me up. So I said, “Thank you for sharing, pass and cancel.” I got up from my computer as I was writing this and took the envelope with the cheque and put it where I said I would put it.
Now, how hard was that? Not hard at all. So why did I procrastinate in putting the envelope where I said I would at the time I said I would?
At the time I was Skyping with my colleague. My conditioned mind was telling me, “keep talking and when you’re done then put the envelope where you said you would otherwise you’ll have to go and get the envelope from another part of the house, take to the furthest reaches of the house, go outside in the heat and place it. And then your colleague will wonder why you left the conversation.” “That’s too much, ” said my conditioned mind. “Do it later when it’s cooler,” it said.
And I listened.
Today, I understand that procrastination is a function of my conditioned mind. It doesn’t want me to do what’s hard; it wants me to do what’s easy. But I know if I do what’s easy, I’ll have the same results I have now.
I want better results. I want more. So I have resolved, for today, to look around and see what appears to be the ‘hardest’ thing I can do, and do it. That will stop my conditioned mind from beating me up for what I didn’t do and exhausting me.
Right now my hardest task is making fresh strawberry and fresh blueberry pies. At 9 am on a Sunday morning.
Hey, conditioned mind! Thanks for sharing but I’m not sharing with you! I’m going to be enjoying fresh pie later today and you can’t have any!!!
Be selfish. Talk back to your conditioned mind, either internally or out loud. Thank it for sharing, then pass and cancel what it says, and do it anyway.
Refuse to be exhausted by your uncompleted tasks and work to get them accomplished. Rejoice in the tasks and events and activities that you do complete!!!