Archive for the 'Self-Motivation' category

Just did an interview for RedBook Magazine

I love talking about dogs and dog walking. What a night & day difference from my old career. When you’re doing something you love it’s not work anymore, it’s fun! The article is to be about career ideas for stay-at-home moms. I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

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The fine art of tactful criticism

May 10 2011 Published by under Business, Health, Self-Motivation

Saying things you might say to friend can quickly sour an otherwise congenial business relationship. People who are paying you to be around rarely want to employ your criticism. And so this was the conundrum I found myself in.

I had a client who owned a morbidly obese dog. I found it difficult to deal with this because I felt that the “love” my client had for her dog was really killing him. Make no mistake the physical health of this dog was in my mind borderline abusive. Not malicious, not evil, but still abuse through neglect to use common sense. What was so obvious to me seemed not to have entered her mind. The fact that my client was also quite obese made it even more difficult to address. For her food was love and she slathered it on.

The way I finally managed to bring it up was after she mentioned it herself. I forget how the subject of her dog’s obesity came up but I took the opportunity to say something about my concern that it could be her thyroid. Thyroid deficiency results in obesity and it’s a tactful way of saying, “something must be wrong, because no dog should be as fat as he was.” It offered plausible deniability; that I could bring up my concern without the obvious implication that it was the result of over-feeding and general lack of self-control—in other words, her fault. It allowed us to discuss the issue without it being about blame, self recrimination, or offended feelings.

Sometimes it’s a fine line we walk in this business. You become very personal with your clients and they with you because of the type of work you do. I don’t doubt it is similar to the type of relationship a nanny has with the family s/he serves. On the other hand, friendship and business mix about as well as oil and water.

I’d love to hear how others have or would handle such a situation?

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Obstacles to Success: Fear and The Road Less Traveled

Sep 17 2010 Published by under Out-of-bounds, Self-Motivation

I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the choices we must make in our lives with this photo I took while on a walk with my family today. With any decision comes some degree of uncertainty, and the more unusual the choices the more uncertainty one will experience. There is fear too, make no mistake about that. Will I find food, shelter and clean water, a pot of gold perhaps, or is there some ambush around the next bend?

Can you minimize your exposure—your risk? Sure, but at what cost? Every insurance policy has a cost basis. Everyone knows insurance companies are in business to make money, not lose it. Have you looked at the cost of waiting at the cross-roads while you work out the risks factors? Or worse, taking the well worn path because that’s what everyone else has done?

There is no way of really knowing since every decision is going to be unique to the individual making it. You just have to do like Susan Jeffers says in her book by the same name, Feel The Fear and Do it Anyway.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Obstacles to success: Learning How to Live Out-of-bounds

Obstacles to successLiving out-of-bounds is certainly not just a frame of mind, it’s also a lifestyle. In my book, The Dog Walker’s Startup Guide, I mentioned a great book which has become even more important in light of the current economic times. The book is Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The premise of the book is that you exchange “life energy” for cash. I think that’s a fairly accurate way of looking at it.

Sure, most people know at least at some level that they are exchanging their time for money, but from a broader perspective we become acutely aware that unlike money, we don’t have an infinite supply of time from which to trade. What generally takes place when a supply is limited? The value increases. When looked at in that light, time or life energy becomes much, much more valuable.

The trouble is, humanity, blessed with intellect, knows that death comes for us all but lives in denial of this fact. Which is why we continue to undervalue our time in relation to money. We just don’t want to think about the truth so we close our eyes and pretend that it’s OK to spend hour after hour, day after day, and year after year, doing the same soul crushing work.

If you’re like me, and resist traveling the well trodden path, then you will immediately appreciate any process, plan, or style that takes an innovative look at how to live, not just survive. Since technology has always been a game changer, and since we’ve had some of the largest technological advancement periods in human history in the last couple of hundred years (not coincidentally coinciding with the birth of the USA and for the first time in human history true liberty), then we must understand that the standard by which most people live must change also… but it really hasn’t has it?

Since the industrial age your average worker has been tied to a schedule of about 8 hours per day, Monday thru Friday, with slight variations depending on profession and education. By and large that is the standard work-week and has been for over a hundred years. The plan then, as it is now, is to work till you’re 65, buy a house, raise a family, take a 2 week vacation every year, and then live off your savings and social security till you die. Anyone who thinks that this is going to be an effective strategy going forward—it’s time to close your eyes now, cover your ears, and start humming. The rest of you, read on.

A real eye opener for me was Timothy Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week. In it he describes a landscape of perpetual travel once the traditional tethers of job and location have been severed. He calls these mavericks “the new rich” because they are now free to do on a regular basis the things a wage-slave must wait 65 years (or more) to do. It’s a great read and it’ll get you motivated to start thinking about living out-of-bounds.

Looking back I realize that starting a dog walking business was just the first step in a progression toward a new way of life. It was an easy decision since I love dogs. At the time, I didn’t know where I was headed, only that I needed to get out of where I was! I needed to sever the chains that kept me rooted to a life that wasn’t mine. I needed to find myself, listen to my own heart, and walk my own path.

Undoubtedly, if you’ve read this far, you understand this necessity in your own life. Stay tuned, in the coming weeks I will post more about my own experiment in living outside the mainstream. Topics will include travel, living, entrepreneurship, business, investing, mental attitude, and more.

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Hidden Unemployment Benefits You May Not Be Aware Of

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. ”
– Andre Gide

As the unemployment rate reaches new heights, and probably is in reality somewhere near 20% if you include those who are out of work and off the unemployment rolls, we must come to a sobering realization. We aren’t living in the 90s anymore. Things have changed. The president’s State of The Union address provided no comfort to me, and he seemed to miss the point the American people were trying to send when they elected Scott Brown (or willfully ignored it). We don’t want to be dragged into deeper and deeper national debt, we want our free market to be allowed to correct itself without the interference of our government. It was bad government programs that got us into this mess, and it’s going to be more bad programs that will keep us here. This further reinforces my belief that our country will recover by the will of it’s people. Americans are a tenacious people, we will find a way.

Indeed they have. Many of the people I’ve spoken to are turning to small business entrepreneurship and are presently unemployed, outsourced, laid-off, down-sized, etc. Whatever you want to call it, it’s not good news, but not all that comes from difficult times is bad. There are always opportunities for progress. Obviously not everyone who loses his/her job is going to become a small business owner, but for many, it’s a great opportunity to explore something you might have been too afraid to consider up until now.

With the economic down-turn business prospects aren’t what they used to be. One needs much more savvy, more information and a bit more will to succeed. Let’s face it, we can’t afford to make too many mistakes anymore, either as country, or as individuals. The economy isn’t as forgiving as it once was. If you find yourself unemployed presently and think a small business might be your ticket, then you should spend the valuable time you have now doing as much research as you can. If you’re thinking about a dog walking business, then talk to other dog walkers, read about the industry, buy some books and get to work. Dog walking, like any other business, will have it’s challenges during this economic down-turn, but as a whole, dog walking businesses are here to stay and are still growing every year. It’s a great first business to try, it doesn’t take long to set up, nor does it take much capital.

The opportunity that exists for the unemployed is that you have been set adrift. You are no longer hanging onto the shore. If you were unhappy at your previous mooring, perhaps it’s time to consider what lays beyond the bar.

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Positive Thinking & Psychology

With all that is going on in the world right now, I think it’s an appropriate time to discuss mental “fitness” and dealing with emotional states that can be triggered by the headlines we read on a daily basis. Starting a business is no easy thing, and it can be herculean in an economy like the one we’re in right now. I stumbled across an article on Fox News about military jobs, and found it interesting that they are employing the use of “positive psychology” for their enlisted, reserve, and civilian members.

I’ve always been very proud of our military and the sacrifices they make on our behalf, regardless of the political party in control of the White House. Being a volunteer member of the USCG-AUX I have a great appreciation for what it takes to serve and risk your life for your fellow countrymen (and women).

I’ve found the training programs I’ve been through to be superior in many ways to the civilian and college educational programs I’ve attended over the years. I currently hold a BS degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY. That said, finding that the US Army is employing the use of “positive psychology” developed by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania got my attention.

The military is VERY picky about the content of their education and training. So the mere fact that they are using this psychological technology is enough for me to want to investigate. So often such technology is filled with useless, irrelevant, or regurgitated information, with little or no actionable, useful information. Books in the “self-help” genre are more often than not, drivel.

I can speak from experience when I say that beating on a pillow with a tennis racket while imagining the face of someone who allegedly did you harm at some time in your life is not only useless, but probably harmful to your psych. Rather than negatively rehashing the past (all the bad things that have been done to you), advocating “escapism or displacement” (leave your spouse, tell your father off, quit your job), the University of Pennsylvania program focuses on building your sense of well-being through positive and enriching concepts.

Fostering such things as:  “strengths and virtues … the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom.” People rarely talk about moderation, self-control, and integrity with much enthusiasm these days, and yet they had been a mainstay of our highly successful culture for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s time to reread the Scouts motto…

“Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.”

You can bet I am going to be looking into this more closely. Nobody is a superhero. We all feel down, sad, or hopeless some times. Being your own boss requires discipline, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Not just the functional kind, but the mental kind as well. We must be able to endure set-backs and move forward with our dreams. We must be able to take a positive attitude about difficulties and for many of us, we just don’t have a good template for accomplishing this. We either never learned how, or we have achieved mixed results from our efforts and have given up.

I cannot endorse this technology because I haven’t used it yet, but I will say that if it’s good enough for our soldiers, it’s probably darn good, and worth a look. Nobody is under more stress than they are. Keep them in your prayers.

Resources used in writing this post:

The Positive Psychology Center

Fox News Story

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