Friday, February 20, 2009

Pay Attention!

You may have heard this joke in one form or another already, but here it goes:

There was a man who deeply believed in God.

One day a flood was approaching his house. A car came, the driver said come with me and be saved from the flood. The man refused saying "No I will wait here, God will save me."

The waters rose to his porch. A boat came, the captain said come with me and be saved from the flood. The man refused saying "No I will wait here, God will save me."

The water rose to the roof. A helicopter came, the pilot said come with me and be saved from the flood. The man refused saying "No I will wait here, God will save me."

The flood raged and the man drowned. At the pearly gates he asked God, "Why didn't you save me"

God said "I sent you a car, then a boat then a helicopter"

Most of us go through life wanting things to be better or changed in some way. We want more money, better health, improved relationships, a nicer house, a new job... and the list goes on.

The problem for most of us is that we spend so much time focused on the distractions in life that we don't see the solutions when they arrive. Life, or if you believe as I do God, sends us answers all of the time. He'll send you that little hint here or there. Or a big event that demands we do something. And we go frantically cruising through life, never catching the clues as they come along. We get so focused on what we don't want that we don't ever see that what we really do want is passing right in front of our eyes.

I decided that after twenty some years I wanted to change careers. I felt I wanted to make a difference in peoples lives. I was inspired to follow my life long love of fitness and become a personal trainer and personal coach. I spent a fairly substantial amount of money buying the best training programs I could find. I bought the "home study" versions because I had a very busy career and felt this would be the best way to get things done.

I still remember when the first kit arrived. I was like a kid in a candy store! Eyes wide open, jaw dropped, I rifled through the package. I was absolutely beside myself with excitement. I had a couple of things to do around the house before I could get down to it, but I decided I would get started that first night with my studying.

And study I did! That first night, I literally studied through the night. I mean I found myself at the kitchen table still going strong at 5 o'clock in the morning. Soon though, the studying became too much. As the material became more difficult, I found myself spending less and less time moving towards my goal. The other study materials arrived and received the same treatment. Soon they became nothing more than a cluttering distraction on the kitchen table.

Deep down inside, I knew that this was what I really wanted. I knew it was time for a change in my life and the time was now... or maybe I should say when it was convenient.

I did what most of us do when we want change to happen in our lives. I got all excited and certain. Made my plans. Took a couple of steps in the right direction... and then faded like somebody an overused light bulb. Soon I stopped paying attention to opportunities. I mean I had the chance to do some really great things. I literally had people coming up to me and asking for my help with personal coaching or personal training (you think those might have been clues I was moving in the right direction?) and we'd talk for a few minutes and then the subject never came up again.

A Myth...

"Before you can do whatever it is you want to in life, you must be fully educated and prepared, before you get started!"

With a few exceptions, such as, if I needed brain surgery, (I would prefer someone who spent the time getting the education prior to the operation), it is more important to get going than it is to learn more. Too many of us spend too much time being prepared. In fact, we spend so much time focused on preparation that we miss the opportunities when they arise.

A Question...

"Do you think if I had taken on one of those people who had asked me to help them with personal training that I would have screwed them up because I wasn't completely finished with my certification?"

The answer is a resounding, NO! The truth is I have been involved with weight training and running all of my life and have a pretty strong knowledge base to begin with. The certification for me is really more of a trophy to hang on the wall. Maybe more of a "Proof of Who I Am" that people can look at hanging on the wall or posted on my website to add a little bit of credibility to those who don't already know me. Certainly for me who has been training people in a different environment for a whole lot of years, that certificate would not suddenly make me a different person more knowledgeable and capable than I was without it. I already had those qualities.

I have over analyzed myself to death and in the process, missed opportunities that have been knocking on my door which could have ultimately resulted in much greater results. I am as guilty as you are of ignoring the "Hints and clues" of life which lead to the life we really desire for ourselves.

So what do we do?

I believe there are two things that happen;

One is we finally come to the understanding that we need to do more than we analyze. If we let ourselves be open to what's going on around us, many times the answer will come right up and sit down next to us (sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically). Being a even a little less analytical will allow you and me to go with our first instinct instead of waiting until everything is exactly perfect before we do anything. It will open us up to the subtleties of life, allowing us to get more guidance from our daily living. This in itself will empower you as you move through life.

Sometimes we just don't get it and the clues and hints of life aren't sinking in. For me personally, I believe that if it's important enough to God and we aren't paying attention, the type and severity will increase.

I am case and point. After everything I shared with you earlier about changing directions in my career and life, I found myself fluttering aimlessly back towards the profession I had been in for almost twenty-five years.


Any number of reasons could fit here. Perhaps, "Path of Least Resistance" is the best description. And then... I had a heart attack! No, not metaphorically, literally! When I talk about the type and severity increasing, I think now you can understand what I mean!

My personal belief is God sent me a car, a rowboat and a helicopter and I ignored them so He then sent an aircraft carrier to snatch me out of the water whether I wanted it or not!

Now let's say for a minute you don't buy the fact that this was the doing of God. I'm sorry if you don't, but let's make that assumption. Let's look at it from a purely psychological perspective... shall we?

We all operate primarily in two planes. The Conscious and the Unconscious. I have witnessed these two at work and at times at odds with each other.

When I ran my first marathon, at 252 lbs, after literally training ten times over the course of a year in preparation, my conscious mind thought I was nuts. Your conscious mind is that part that deals largely with the here and now, in the moment kind of stuff, based on all of the latest data.

The data for that first marathon looked kind of like this:

This is really cool!

Look at all of these people!

If that guy can do this, so can I!


I've only gone a mile!

I'm thirsty!

More pain.

I'm never going to make it.

Is my leg really cramping at only mile 10?

I can't do this.

Did we make the right turn here, cause there's only about three runners as far as I can see?

I'm happy.

I'm sad.

I'm stupid.

Call your brother, he's got to be finished already.

I want to run but all I can do is walk.

I don't think anyone will finish behind me.

Two more miles to go, I don't think I can make it.

Last quarter mile I better run to the finish line.

Hey there's my brother.

There's the finish line.

I'm going to make it!

I want to cry at this point.

I'm never going to do this again!

When's the next marathon?

At some point in time over the years leading up to my first marathon, I had committed to myself that this was something I absolutely at all costs was going to do. When my brother finished his first marathon in March of that year, there was simply no turning back. At that point I had permanently and indelibly planted in my unconscious mind that this was a MUST not a should for me. In fact, I signed up for my first marathon on the day my brother completed his first.

The unconscious mind is that infantile part of our mind that takes what we truly believe and firmly implant as a must, and not knowing anything but this is what we are supposed to do, makes it a reality.

In the case of the marathon, my unconscious mind would have run me into the ground if that's what it took to do something it believed was a life imperative for me. In the case of the career change, speaking purely psychologically and knowing how powerful the mind-body connection is, I got the same result.

My unconscious went; "Tim, we're going to do this and if you won't slow down and change directions... I'll do it for you!" "Ignore this if you can!" And obviously, it's kind of hard to ignore a heart attack.

Psychologically, if you implant something deep enough in your belief system, your unconscious mind will do whatever it takes (sometimes even dangerously) to make the belief a reality.

So which ever theory you subscribe to, the bottom line is the same.

Pay Attention! Allow yourself to be open to the hints and clues of life. Act on them knowing that the knowledge and answers will come to you along the way.

And know that if you really believe it should be... the "indicators" of life will continue to grow in intensity until you do something.

Personally, these days I prefer to take action on the simple inklings or nudges in life instead of waiting for the "Big Events"!

I want my "Big Events" to be celebrations, not major traumas!

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