Freedom vs Liberation

It’s natural to desire freedom.

Freedom to make your own choices, spend time the way you want it, spend money as you please, freedom from oppression and manipulation and restrictions… all good things.

But freedom is an abstract, it’s not tangible. I mean, you couldn’t bring me freedom and put it on the table, point and say: ‘That. That’s freedom’.

And if that’s not enough, there will always be things that prevent us from being truly free.

You’ll always be subject to the rule of law, for example (unless you’re a maffia boss or other kind of outright crook, and even then you won’t be free, because you’ll be hiding from the law).

Freedom is elusive, impossible to define, and non-existent as a ‘thing’ or a state of being.

Even in alternative circles or hippy culture, where the idea of being completely free is so popular. Simply try showing up there in high heels and a miniskirt, or a business suit, and you’ll quickly see how people there are not at all freeeither.

This might all sound very gloomy, but worry ye not for I shall proceed to hand you a mental ninja-move:

Forget about being free or the desire to be free, and contemplate on liberation instead.

For one thing, liberation leads to increased freedom, and even better:

Liberating yourself from things is something tangible and practical – it’s something you can DO.

Some things, you’ll never be free of.

Having children, noise in your street, traffic lights, earning a living, breathing and eating, having to sleep, aging, and so on.

But beyond that type of thing, there’s a million things in your life that you can liberate yourself from.

Each time you liberate yourself from something, you become a little bit more free – which is a lot more fun that living with the frustrating desire to be ‘free’, whatever that means.

Freedom isn’t a thing – it’s a sliding scale.

You move up it the more you liberate yourself from things, and the easiest way to get started is by eliminating stuff.

Because we’ve all got too much ‘stuff’ in our lives, be it people, places, habits or things.

The struggle to be free will always be that: a struggle.

But the process of ongoing liberation?

Fun, effective, and yeah: liberating.

Let me know if you’re ready to start taking action – i.e. start making decisions on which things you want to get rid of.

It’s easier than you think, I’ll show you.

Cheers,

Martin

Can’t Have the Good Without the Bad? Rubbish. Here’s How to Shift the Baseline

It’s a common notion, especially in relationships: that in order to have the good times, we also need to accept the bad times.

A thing which is usually said by someone who’s been a jerk and uses it to justify causing a bad situation, I think. But I’m not a relationship expert.

I am however someone who doesn’t need the bad in order to have the good.

Not in relationships, not in life, and not in business.

(I’m open to influence though, so anyone who wants to make a case about why good and bad have to go together, feel free to write in and make your point. You’ll have a hard time persuading me though.)

Seriously though: good compared to what? Bad compared to what?

Here’s the thing:

Everything in our experience of life has a baseline, a ‘normal’.

For someone who’s constantly stressed, their ‘normal’ or baseline, is constantly high.

What’s relaxation for that person, would be a high level of stress for others.

Someone pessimistic has a low baseline in terms of outlook on life – and even their most optimistic moments would seem gloomy to folk like me (and I hope, you).

The trick to not having the bad, is to adjust your normal. To shift your baseline.

Because there will always be ups and downs, that’s just life.

Your experience has peaks and troughs, a constant sine wave.

And logically, if you shift your optimism/pessimism baseline up, the troughs won’t be as heavy.

If you shift your stress baseline down, the stress-peaks won’t wear on you as much.

And, in terms of relationships: if you shift your harmony-baseline up, the bads won’t be quite as bad. (3 hints to make that happen: 1: don’t try to change the other, 2: actually listen properly, 3: never treat the other as if your view of them is correct and factual. It’s not, not ever).

Anyway, our ‘normal’ baseline becomes a norm over time, and we behave and experience as if that’s just the way things are – but they’re not.

Your baselines are under your control.

Optimism, stress, motivation, enjoyment, abundance, wealth, productivity, friendships, communications, habits, conscientiousness:

You name it, and there’s a baseline present in your life, and around that you get your peaks and valleys.

So how do you shift the baseline?

Well, you can hire a coach, or get therapy, or learn to meditate, but really, the solution is simple and already in your reach.

First, become aware of where your baseline in any given area is at. Compare to how others experience or operate.

Next, analyze to learn which people, places, habits or things keep your baseline too high or too low.

Finally, eliminate those disruptors that keep your baseline where it is.

You’ll see it shift by itself.

What baseline is too high or too low in your life?

What do you plan to do about it?

Cheers,

Martin

All This, to What End?

Sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated, to stay on task, to keep moving forward.

What usually happens is that we start beating ourselves up, and we use our goals as the stick we do it with.

Want to write that book. Have to pay those bills. Need to find more clients. Must get this project done for once and for all.

Telling ourselves all the things we ought to be doing, should be doing – shoulding all over ourselves, and it rarely works.

The reason why those goals don’t motivate, is that they’re not the real, the actual goals.

They’re only milestones, markers of an effort or an accomplishment. But behind them, there’s another goal, and another one behind that, and then one more, and so on.

The why of your doing things always has another why behind it.

So when you find yourself struggling to keep your momentum, it can be very useful to ask yourself what is the why behind the why. And the one behind that.

The one grand question to ask them all: all this, to what end?

The best thing you can do, is figure out what’s the why behind the why behind the why.

Find your ultimate, over-arching motivation, and I promise:

Making money isn’t it. Free time isn’t it either. Becoming famous, or an authority in your niche, or the best at thing X – they’re only milestones. They’re the consequence of action, and an indicator of results – but they’re never *it*.

Meaning is it. A purpose in life. A reason why.

Running your life or your business with a clear search for meaning, or dedicating your efforts to the meaning once you found it: that’s what motivates.

It’s like a magnet that pulls you along, which is a lot easier and more fun than having to push the boulder up the hill all the time.

So what’s your purpose, what gives meaning?

In your life, what’s the answer to ‘all this, to what end?’

Hit reply, let me know. I’m curious.

Cheers,

Martin

Enrollment

It’s easy to miss when we’re doing it: those moments when we’re trying to persuade someone, convince them of the use or validity of our point of view, or indeed, when we’re trying to goad someone else into some sort of action or decision.

And whenever we fall into that attitude, the results vary from ‘tiring and pointless’ to ‘outright disastrous’.

A buyer shouldn’t be persuaded, but instead should be shown an insight about the purchase, that helps them decide whether or not to make it.

A child shouldn’t be forced to eat their greens – your job as a parent is to figure out what makes them want to eat them. (tough job, I know).

When an employee underperforms, threatening to fire them isn’t helpful. Much better to figure out what’s going on that prevents them from being their best. After all, there’s always a reason.

Force and persuasion may work, but at a high cost.

You’ll find it far easier, productive, and fun, to enroll people.

In each of the examples above, you’ll see it’s about stepping into the other person’s world.

Do that, and they’ll feel safe.

In the other person’s world, you don’t have to state your case. All you need to do is figure out what’s happening there, and identify which changes *you can make about yourself* so as to facilitate some process, decision, or buy-in from the other person.

It’s said that ‘nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care’, and it’s true.

It’s why taking the attitude of enrolling people is so effective. They feel safe, they’ll know you care about them, and so they’ll be more willing to enroll in whatever solution you present.

Where it comes to relations and communication, the solution when you meet resistance is rarely ‘more force’.

Using force means you’re making it about yourself, and about how right you know you are. Which you may or may not be, doesn’t matter.

What matters is that asserting that you’re right makes the issue about you.

If you want to enroll people and create the kind of results that everyone benefits from, you’ll need to make it about them.

You do that by stepping into their world.

Oh, and if it’s time for you to bring a coach into your world, just let me know.

Cheers,

Martin

Design the Undesigned

It’s easy to spot good design – whether we’re talking about a car, a kitchen knife or a website.

Good design is a joy to use, literally so.

That’s what good design does: it affects your state.

Bad design also affects your state. Sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes subtly – but even then, it adds up.

Trouser pockets in just the wrong place, a steering wheel that blocks your view on your speed, an off switch in a hard-to-reach location… an annoying aggravation each time you interact with it.

Good design makes life easier, lighter, more efficient.

But there’s a design element that nearly all of us ignore.

And yet, it’s one of the most powerful, influential determinants of your wellbeing, productivity and results.

I’m talking about your mental and emotional state – something that’s fully in your control to design, if you pay a little attention.

How you feel, your grit and fortitude, your creative problem-solving abilities, your level of execution and persistance:

The higher your state, the better you’ll do and feel.

And that state is something you can design, with the lowest-hanging fruit being your environment, consisting of everything from people, to objects, to your planning, your physical surroundings, the music you listen to, the media you consume…

An entire system that envelopes you all day long… and I’ll bet there’s a bunch of things in your environment that do nothing to lift your state. And other things that clearly bring your state down. (News, anyone?).

This system has designed itself around you, and it does so all on its own. Life configures our environment for us.

Smart people work with their environment deliberately.

They tweak, and modify and configure and experiment, until they’ve designed their own optimal environment for living in, and staying in, the highest possible state.

When you do that, when you support your state intentionally, it has repercussions on all levels.

Taskload is easier to bear. Screaming kids don’t get to you quite as badly. Problems get easier to solve. Setbacks and disappointments are much easier to bounce back from. Aggravated relationships get easier to improve. Conversations flow with more ease. You get the uncanny feeling that hey, you got this. You’re in control.

And best of all? A high state is the best protection against damage to your state.

If your environment is the natural hodge-podge that life threw together for you, you’ll find enormous benefit in getting intentional about it.

Bring some design into your environment.

Design the undesigned, and you’ll do wonders for your state.

You’ll see what I mean.

Cheers,

Martin

The ‘Secret’ of the Happiness Outcome

I turn into my street, and there’s a guy with a map under the streetlight.

Nice chap, mid 50s. I stop to give him directions, and we end up chatting.

Turns out, he’s a scientist who was on the team for one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the last 5 years. (this is a true story, but discretion prevents me from saying which breakthrough in particular. Anonymity etc).

And he’s not happy with the achievement. Far from it.

Instead, he’s confounded and rather lost.

He spent decades doing research, finally made the big discovery, and now… what?

What next?

What’s there in life now that he’s completed his life’s work?

This void-after-achievement is far more common than you think, and it’s easily avoided.

We think that the outcomes we work for are the things that will make us happy.

But the gold-medal athlete has no higher to go, while the bronze medalist made the grade, AND he gets to aim for higher. Yay!

Getting a promotion or a big client or getting married or becoming a parent: it’s all very wonderful, but it all brings another set of problems or consequences or obligations.

And we find time and time again that getting the wonderful outcomes somehow, oddly, doesn’t make us happy.

Improves things, sure – but weren’t they meant to make us happy?

Well no. Of course not.

YOU are meant to make yourself happy. There’s a lot of choice in there.

And when you are happy, or at least you’re in a good place mentally and emotionally, your efforts towards creating your desired outcomes become more fun, faster, and more effortless.

And it starts with you and your decisions.

Specifically, decisions around what objectives you give priority.

In making those decisions, it’s good to have an outcome in mind – in business, usually related to some number in terms of sales or revenue – but in order to create that outcome, your objective should be based on behaviour.

Because it’s your behaviour – how you show up to the task at hand – that determines the material outcome you get.

Don’t make ‘attainment’ your objective, but performance.

Not only will it prevent you from falling into a void, you’ll also find that the constant feedback of ‘I’m at it, keeping at it, checking off the tasks’ is a tremendous motivator. It makes you happy.

Because that’s the secret of the happiness outcome:

Happiness isn’t an outcome to aim for in the first place. Instead, it’s a tool to help you get an outcome.

Each time I see a client make that mental shift, magic starts to happen: business becomes more fun, more effortless, and yes: more profitable as well.

And I’ve got a whole bunch of simple&effective shifts like these up my sleeve.

Come and get some…

Cheers,

Martin

The Antidote to ‘Death By Opportunity’

Housekeeping: Sorry about last Friday’s messy formatting – looks like some people had all kinds of weird characters in their email. With me you get typos free of charge, but that mess wasn’t meant to happen.

Onwards:

In a world as big as ours, there’s practically unlimited amount of opportunities.

Every email you open, every streetcorner you turn, each stranger you look in the eye in passing, every book someone recommends – you never know what opportunities you’ll encounter when you make a decision, but one thing is certain:

No matter what you do, you’ll ALWAYS meet opportunities.

Can’t be avoided. Even if the only opportunity at some point is ‘learn and grow from a painful situation’: There’s always something.

And that can be problematic.

It’s hard to figure out which opportunities are the best to dive into.

If you take them all on, you’ll end up adrift and directionless.

Following too many opportunities is a major cause of procrastination and stuckness (i.e. death by opportunity).

And there’s so many of them, all so interesting or filled with potential!

Should you take on that client?

Have that conversation you’ve been wanting to have?

Invest in that coach or that truck or that SEO service?

Accept the invitation to speak at an event?

Dig through your journals from last year?

Read that book that your gut tells you will cause a big shift for you somehow?

Reply to that email you haven’t had the nerves yet to reply to?

Go on that retreat?

Stay home tonight?

With so many choices and each with their own opportunities, how do we decide which of them ought to be in our lives or not?

If ever you’ve felt overwhelmed, or if ever you’ve gotten off course by choosing certain opportunities, the answer is:

Choose those opportunities that are aligned with your objectives. That’s the antidote to overwhelm or ‘death by opportunity’ or unfulfilling results.

Obvious and simple as a concept, but very tricky to put into practice. Works though.

Whatever goes in your mix of objectives (hobbies, revenue, relationships, fun or sales or fame or happiness etc etc), let that mix of objectives be your north star for decisions and choosing opportunities.

Everything that’s not aligned: best ask yourself long and hard whether you want to go for it.

Because everything that’s not aligned with your objectives, will very likely prevent you (or at least it’ll slow you down) from reaching them.

And if you’re not clear on what your objectives are?

Then stay tuned for tomorrow’s email, I’ve a tip for you.

Cheers,

Martin

Force vs Power

You’ve got dozens, maybe hundreds of different strengths and traits you can lean into in order to create results.

Resilience, resourcefulness, creativity, exploration and execution – too many to list.

In many cases though, our default is force.

Push harder. Explain again, but better, and louder. Beat yourself into action. Persist no matter the clear ineffectiveness.

Sounds tiring, if you ask me.

I prefer operating from an attitude of power, rather than force.

Using force means you have to exert yourself; it comes with a high cost.

But power?

That feeds you. It’s a practically unlimited source of strength inside.

All you need to do is stop forcing things, center yourself on where your strengths lie, and allow yourself to be pulled forward by your internal, psychological power.

It’s a lot more effortless, and don’t we all want things to be easier, lighter, and not so damn hard all the time?

Exactly.

Here’s how to know when you’re forcing it instead of relying on your power:

Resistance.

When someone resists you, or when the task seems to push back against you, or when something just keeps breaking no matter how hard you try to make it work, you’re very likely trying to force something.

When you notice resistance (including resistance in yourself), ask yourself what it is you’re trying to force.

Next, identify which of your innate, natural abilities can be leveraged in order to create the result you’ve been trying to force, and use that instead.

With a bit of practice, you’ll make power the default, and you’ll meet a lot less resistance and frustration in your projects and relationships.

A simple shift in orientation, with a dramatic effect on your mastery in business and life.

Give it a try, let me know what changes you discover.

Cheers,

Martin

Busyness Does Not Equal Business – Put a Rock in the River

Ever notice how your day fills up with a multitude of tiny tasks and chores, and you just never get around to the big ones – the tasks that actually make a difference in your business?

After all, updating a social media profile or website, filing invoices, emptying your inbox or organizing your pencils does little to drive growth.

What happens when we experience busyness but don’t manage to take care of business, is like filling a bottle with pebbles and sand, leaving no space to put in any nice fat rocks.

I see this with many of my friends abroad: they’ve been saying for years that they want to come visit, but never manage. Because life, job, kids, business – stuff gets in the way!

Other friends though, they pick a date in the calendar some months ahead, and as the day of departure gets closer, life arranges itself around that date. Presto, a friend shows up.

If you want to travel, or if you want to drive growth in your business, you need to place a rock in the river.

Do that, and the water will flow around it.

Or in the metaphor of the bottle: put in rocks first, and then top up with pebbles and sand.

Or, back to cold hard business facts:

Prioritise and plan the tasks that make a difference and that move the needle on your revenue, and let busyness fit in around it.

Not the other way around, because if you let the small and the menial fill your day, you’ll never travel and you’ll never end up growing that business of yours.

One of the things I enjoy most about coaching entrepreneurs, is helping you figure out exactly which activities and projects will have the biggest impact on your bottom line.

If you want to talk and get some help with that, let me know.

Good chance we can find some fun low-hanging fruit that will be fun for you to work on and net you more business fast.

Cheers,

Martin

Unfair Advantage

Bit of housekeeping:

You might wonder what happened to the webinar and the training programme I wrote about last summer (the one called Calibrate Reality Dojo).

If you’re new here: it’s a framework that distills my 25 years of studying psychology and my coaching method into a simple, applicable framework, with the purpose of showing you how to make better decisions, and get better results.

Basically, what you get is Stellar-in-a-tin.

Truth be told, I’ve not been comfortable with the name for a while. It’s too quirky, too cutesy, and much too close to the New-Age hippyish kind of thinking that I’m so far away from.

What we need is not more airy beliefs, but a more sensible way of thinking about our decisions. Makes all the difference.

But as I teach in the programme, a decision should not be made unless it’s a hell yes.

Not until you KNOW that a decision is right, does it make sense to decide something.

And since I didn’t know what other name would work, I’ve not been able to make a decision.

Until last Friday, when my friend & client Paula Mould unleashed her awesome name-giving talent on the matter. (I asked for her opinion, because she’s one of the clients I admire most for the way she implemented the coaching lessons over the years).

And so, in a few weeks, I’ll be ready to re-launch the programme and the webinar, and it will be called The Stellar Edge: Designed to give you an unfair advantage in business and life.

That unfair advantage gives you all kinds of benefits: resilience, clarity, resourcefulness, control over your results, and best of all: the persistent feeling that ‘I got this’.

It’s what I live with most every day, and I SO wish the same for you.

So, stay tuned…

Cheers,

Martin

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