Archive for December, 2007


A Lively New Year?

With the symbolic change of years comes the desire to change our lives.

If you’ve committed to “new year’s resolutions” you may want to find a copy of Seth Godin’s book The Dip and seriously evaluate whether you are willing to push through the Dip or if you should stop before you start. [Update: Godin thinks so too.] Rather than resolve and renege spend your January planning, acting, and testing.

And if you are like so many and your resolutions require motivation or some other emotional state then stay tuned this week as we explore states — emotional, mental, and physical.

What feelings do you desire out of your resolutions?
How many other ways could you elicit those feelings?

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Boogered Blog

I was inspired by Sansi’s 3 minute upgrade and spent the last hour messing around to get this blog back to where it was (mostly) and I still haven’t upgraded! I am glad that I paid attention and did a full backup, unlike Jim.

If you notice random question marks in past posts that is an artifact of my upgrade/destruction and subsequent restoration.

Now I’m off to ponder de-boogering the archive and possibly attempting another upgrade.
Wish me luck!

[Update: If you manage to get odd two-byte characters in your restore it may be that your database character set was latin1 when you exported and the default on the import is set to utf8. Gotta love when internationalization meets geek speak!]

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan | 2 Comments »

Be Valuable

I just ran across a flippant comment about using “nlp patterns”. The comment seemed to blow off the use of “nlp patterns” and it got me thinking.

First off, there are no such things as “nlp patterns”. There are advanced language patterns derived from the modeling that Bandler and Grinder refined into NLP. The funny thing about NLP is that all the patterns existed before Bandler et al codified and named them — people just didn’t have a way to identify and analyze the patterns.

Secondly, there seems to be a commonly held confusion regarding what NLP is or is not. Most common seems to be mistaking the techniques and patterns for NLP. The patterns occur naturally in the course of human communication. As far as I’m concerned NLP is all about the awareness of what is happening and what the alternatives are to the current pattern.

For example, I hear parents (myself included) telling their kids what not to do. “Don’t run around the house!” And what do the kids hear? “… run around the house!” If they are really paying attention they will even hear the whole sentence. Now they are focused on the thing you don’t want them to do and are left on their own to figure out what you might want instead. The difference that my NLP background makes is that when I inadvertently say something like that I immediately turn the negative command around with a positive direction. “Slow down. Walk in the house.”

My third major thought is that many people assume that using NLP somehow means you are being sneaky. These may be the same people that use complex equivalences like “being a lawyer means over charging those in need” or “hammers are not safe because I can hit my thumb and hurt myself”. (And I’ll bet they find a pricey lawyer to sue the hammer manufacturer when they do hit their thumb.) The NLP mindset and the resulting techniques are just tools. And like any tool they have the capacity to do useful work or to cause harm to oneself or others. The factors in safely using any tool are intent, skill level, and context. Poorly chosen intent, lack of skill, or inappropriate context often lead to disaster with even the simplest of tools.

All of which led me to the idea of integrity and value. Set aside any moral or ethical concerns — acting with integrity and generating value are profitable (in money and more importantly in relationships). When you generate value with your words and actions you encourage others to “pay” you for that value by generating something of value to you. The value of serving others is extolled equally in the Bible and in secular business circles. By creating value we raise life above the level of a zero-sum game and create a positive upward spiral.

For example, I created my Presentation Primer video in order to help others produce better presentations. By combining my PowerPoint experiences with those of people like Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin I can help people improve communications with their audience. By increasing the quality of your presentations and your communications I am helping you create more value for your audience. The upward spiral continues as long as everyone continues to create more value in the lives of others. (That is an embedded command in case I was too subtle.)

So, to recap:

  • we all use “nlp patterns” (or more accurately language patterns) because they are a natural part of communicating,
  • NLP is a tool for improving communication and like all tools should be used with positive intent and sufficient skill in an appropriate context, and
  • the world becomes a better place when we create value for others with integrity.

What value are you creating for your family and friends, business community, neighborhood, country, and across the world?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan | 1 Comment »

Path of Least Resistance

How have you gotten to where you are now? Did you make conscious decisions about every action you’ve ever taken? Or have you allowed circumstances to carry you hither and yon?

I would venture to guess that a large number of your choices were made by taking the “path of least resistance” and like water you are finding yourself in the marshy areas of life.

Examine for a moment a small habit. Pick one, any one.

Under what circumstances did you develop that habit? Or to ask the same question in a different way: when was this behavior useful to you? Is that behavior still useful to you? Is it useful every place you apply it now? Where are you not applying it now that it might be useful again?

After answering those questions you are likely to have some changes in mind. Now is the time to put the path of least resistance to work for you instead of against you. Like a child with a pile of pebbles we can redirect the stream of life onto the path we would prefer.

The “secret” is to make the behaviors you no longer want more difficult and the behaviors you want to replace them with less difficult. Artificial constraints, forcing functions, and necessary conditions are a few of the “pebbles” we can use to redirect our lives. Are you using them?
Where are you settling for “come what may”?
What would be an ideal outcome in those situations?
How will you make that outcome more likely and the status quo less likely?

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Call to Arms — Quit!

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)This weekend while traveling to a family event I read Seth Godin’s book The Dip. Don’t let this little 80 page book fool you. There are a ton of crucial ideas in here, and very few (if any) limited to business.

Some of my favorite lines:

  • Quit the wrong stuff.
    Stick with the right stuff.
    Have the guts to do one or the other.
  • But I don’t care about the long tail right now — I want to show you the short head.
  • Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. And in the world as in: their world, the world they have access to.
  • People settle. They settle for less than they are capable of. […] For good enough instead of best in the world.
  • Mostly I’m angry that it took me this long to be able to describe how simple the solution is.
  • The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quiting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.
  • You’re Astonishing How dare you waste it.

Godin illuminates, educates, and enrages between passing reference to Zipf’s law, challenging our school system, and intimating that “first to market” only works if you push through a Dip that is long enough and deep enough. (And Hugh Macleod’s illustrations make a great counterpoint with lines like “But what if I fail?” “We all get to laugh at you.”)

My inner neuro-linguist cringes at the use of the word quit, but Godin’s whole book is one big reframe of “quitting”. My inner mathematician cringes at the poorly labeled “graphs” and yet they demonstrate nicely the difference between a Dip, a Cul-de-Sac, and the dreaded Cliff. And it all leads up to the punch line — if you can’t be #1 then quit before you’ve begun.

Go order The Dip and while you’re waiting for the package check out these serendipitous posts:

What do you need to quit in order to be #1 and reach your goals?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan | 1 Comment »

Artificial ‘nog Constraints

As I was drinking some more eggnog today I realized that my wife and I do something unique with our eggnog consumption that might help you in other areas.

Along the same lines as forcing functions and necessary conditions we are using what I call an artificial constraint. There is, of course, the typical way that people use artificial constraints — to create barriers that don’t really exist. A classic example is running the four minute mile. Until Roger Bannister broke that artificial constraint many thought it to be impossible.

In our case we aren’t breaking any records, just unconscious patterns. We have a stack of dixie cups in the fridge next to the eggnog with the sole purpose of limiting our consumption. By only pouring a few ounces at a time when we could easily pour a large glassful we are artificially constraining ourselves. This has the benefit of making our limited eggnog purchases last much longer through the season by allowing our stomach to catch up with our eyes. We still have to option of drinking the same amount either way but the artificial constraint of the small glass makes it more likely we will be aware of when we are consuming larger quantities.

Where are you artificially constraining yourself to your detriment?
Where will you artificially constrain yourself for your own benefit?

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Christmas Gratitude

Christmas is always an emotional time of year. As this year ends I realize how very focused I am on how I am being blessed. Thanksgiving came and went with no sentimental blips on the radar but now…
I don’t know if it is just the extended nature of the Christmas season or too much eggnog.

As harrowing as life can be at times I am eternally grateful for my family and friends. Like ’em, love ’em, or lump ’em — they are the reason for striving and achieving.

And I have been blessed with great interactions with incredible people on-line and off. Inspired by Robert Phillips’s post I want to share the love with some of those who have inspired and assisted me this year.
Beside Robert I’d like to thank and acknowledge Aaron Brandon, Dr Martin Russell, Pat Doyle, Chris Shouse, Patricia Ritsema Van Eck, Steven Lohrenz, Jim Sansi, Richard Lee, Tom Brownsword, Fred Black, Steve Pavlina, James Brausch, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Tim Ferriss, and Mark Joyner.

Where will expressing your gratitude release and renew you?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan | 1 Comment »

Goal Getting “Exercise” Plan

Building on yesterday’s post and going beyond the original context here are my extended suggestions for getting what you truly want from life.

A) Decide what you are really good at and what you want to do in the next year. (Hint, they should probably be very similar!) If you need help setting goals check out this book.

B) Decide what you are going to do specifically. Both the goal book and Simpleology 101 walk you through the process of breaking your goals down into specific tasks. Take the first couple tasks and look at what resources you will need to accomplish them — time, money, energy, people, software, advertising, etc.

C) Postpone (permanently?) anything that does not directly add towards the tasks at hand (unless it bypasses steps and gets you closer to your goal directly). This includes unsubscribing from mail lists, minimizing interactions with people who take you away from your goals/tasks, and ditching your TV until further notice.

D) Quickly (very quickly) skim through the giveaways and offers you get while on this “exercise” plan. If you see something that is on your list of needed resources then act on it immediately. If you find something that looks like it is even better than your plan beware!
Take your plan seriously, commit to following through, and ignore the rest. I’m paraphrasing here: decide and take action quickly, change your mind slowly. By doing the opposite of everyone else, who decides slowly and changes quickly, you will get things done and know what is working and what isn’t working.

E) Pay careful attention to opportunities to barter and bargain rather than blindly buying. Put on your thick skin and ask people for an exchange of services/products. Only make offers based on your strengths and talents (remember step C). Only offering from strength means you are actually offering value and you can be confident about it. This also makes it more likely they will accept your offer if it fits their needs. Keep that thick skin on until you get a “Yes!” because you may have to go through many “no thank you”s before finding the right fit for everyone involved.

F) Periodically review (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly — depending on the type of task) what you’ve done and the results that have occurred. You are not allowed to beat yourself up over external results. You may chide yourself (very briefly) for not taking action or not sticking to the plan but then immediately get back into action.

G) Based on the actions and results tweak your plan as appropriate. If you have been taking the correct actions for long enough to get useful feedback and the results are not sufficient to reach your goal then (and only then) are you allowed to significantly modify a task or replace it with another possible task. Be careful about passing judgement on actions/results that have a cumulative effect — be certain you’ve given enough action and enough time for the results to occur or your feedback will be skewed.

H) On a much longer time scale you will want to periodically review your goals by starting this whole process over again. Think about doing the goal review no sooner than 6-months, probably on the scale of years. Again, Simpleology 101 gives you the tools for setting and reviewing your goals (short, medium, and long term).

While these steps may seem simplistic and matter-of-fact they have the power to transform your life. The symbolism of re/starting with the new year can encourage the work necessary to begin developing momentum. There is about a week until the new year which is enough time (even if you are busy) to use the goal book or Simpleology 101 to chart out your goals and a plan for reaching them.

How simple is it to create your ideal life?

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Quick Giveaway Advice

One of my readers headed over to the Christmas giveaway I linked to last post and responded with some questions.

But what am I suppose to be doing with the free gifts and stuff?  Do I add them to my website? Blog? Am I trying to sell them?  What is it all about?

The short answer is only pick the gifts that will help you right now or fit into your overarching plan of how you are helping your clients (or friends, or family).

For all email subscriptions I recommend using a separate email address from your main address. That way you can read the messages in batches and the rest of the time you can work without getting distracted by random emails.

When batching you are always keeping the question in the back of your mind “is this person helping me reach my goals?” When in doubt unsubscribe (yes, even from my list). If you really like the content stay subscribed, but assume you’ll unsubscribe at the end of the next month unless you’ve taken some action on what they have sent. (What have you done for me lately?)

These suggestions may sound horribly self centered — because they are. Remember that you are not indentured to anyone just for accepting their gift, especially if you “traded” your email address to get the “gift” in the first place. If they are not helping you they are only slowing you down.

Next time I’ll share the more extensive advice I gave. While the original context was marketing related you can apply this “exercise plan” to any goals you wish to reach.

What are you going to release that was useful in the past but is holding you back now?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan | 1 Comment »

Season of Giving

The end of the year is a time of transition and of giving. Here are a few gifts to help you transition into the new year physically, mentally, and emotionally strong.

Physical – The first gift is part of a campaign to improve lives by alleviating poor sleep habits. The biggest habit that Dr Martin Russell is campaigning against is the (mis)use of sleeping pills. Anyone who has struggled with sleep knows how your whole life is impacted by that one-third of our lives supposedly spent sleeping. He has graciously decided to freely share his medial expertise on the topic of sleep and the correct use of sleeping pills.

Mental – Surely you’ve discovered by now that I’m a big fan of Mark Joyner’s work, especially anything delivered via Simpleology. What you may not know is that I’ve recently been synthesizing blogging into the teaching/learning process. When you combine these two with MJ’s newest offer of another free Simpleology course I jumped on it. This one is on the topic of blogging. MJ once again demonstrates that you do not need to be an expert on a topic to teach it, you can explicitly “stand on the shoulders of giants” even if you aren’t Newton (Issac, not Wayne).

Emotional – This gift is one that I created myself. I know what an impact emotion has on the mental (and physical) processes that happen from day to day. I also know that many people mistakenly believe they are slaves to their emotions. I created a short walk through to support your best mental process by granting you some control over when and what you feel. At the risk of distraction I’m sending you over to a site where this is one of many gifts. Here is a chance to exercise your focus and get what you came for as directly as possible.
I debated just linking to my gift rather than sending you through the hoops to sign up at the giveaway site. I’ve finally decided that since I explicitly created this for my friend Harris’s giveaway I would send you over there. If you have trouble signing up or finding my gift among the cornucopia I will be happy to share the direct link to my gift — just visit the support desk and let me know.

Which aspect of you life will you boost first? Physical? Mental? Emotional?

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