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Banish Bad Thoughts.

Our minds are so very powerful. Anyone who has been cured with a placebo can attest to that. They're given sugar pills, but because they believe that something positive is happening, their disease disappears. 

It stands to reason, then, that negative thoughts can cause you harm. They crowd your brain with doom and gloom, when what we all need is as much light and positivity as possible in order to be happy, creative, and productive. 

If you're having trouble ridding yourself of negative thoughts, try these techniques from Corrine Pikul to banish them for good: 

Show Them The Door 

We've all had the frustrating experience of going into another room to get something and then realizing that we've totally forgotten why we're there. What's happening, say scientists from Notre Dame University, is that the act of passing through the doorway serves as a cue (an "event model" in science-speak) to your brain, telling it that it's finished with the immediate task and to move on to something else, freeing up space and energy for new memories.

You can take advantage of this mechanism in order to help you "forget" more strategically: If you find yourself getting worked up about something while you're preparing dinner, stop and exit the room. And if you happen to have an open-plan layout, keep on walking right out the front door (just come back in before the water boils and the pot overflows).

Wash That Thought Right Outta Your Head

Decisive people have no idea how lucky they are to be spared the kind of second-guessing that can lead to sleeplessness, queasiness and general obsessiveness. But the rest of us now have a secret weapon against waffling: soap. Psychologists at the University of Michigan found that washing your hands with soap and water can help you stop questioning your judgment. The study authors explain that the act of washing up serves as a powerful metaphor of "cleaning the slate" and helps us mentally wipe away doubts and misgivings.

Go To Your Happy Place

When our brain insists on reminding us of that awful thing we said at the party last night, most of us react by suppressing the thought (and perhaps groaning). This often works, found British neuroscientists Roland Benoit and Michael Anderson, who used an fMRI machine to trace the brain activity of people who were trying to forget something. In a study published in the journal Neuron, they explained that when we push a memory out of our head, activity in the hippocampus, the region of the brain critical for remembering the past, is inhibited. However, there's always the threat that the thought will pop up again... and again.

One trick that the scientists tested was thought substitution: Whenever you start rehashing the night, tell yourself instead to think about your vacation to Aruba, or reimagine every bite of a meal you enjoyed. Doing this will induce frenetic activity in the parts of the brain that need to work to retrieve memories and along the pathways to consciousness. The two thoughts will literally compete for your attention, so make the substitution memory engaging and pleasurable enough to win.

Toss Them

Those troubled souls who vent their grievances on paper are on to something, found Ohio State University psychologist Richard Petty, Ph.D., and his colleagues. In one of their studies, high school students who were asked to write down thoughts about body image and then rate their own figures were only affected by their thoughts if they were asked to hold on to their papers and review them. Those who were told to chuck the papers in the trash showed no difference in how they rated themselves, regardless of whether they confessed positive or negative thoughts.

"By physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts," Petty said. So write them down and then—this is key—be sure to shred them, burn them, toss them in the compactor or drag them into the trash can on your desktop—and empty it.

Squash Them With a Challenge

You're surprisingly vulnerable to negative thinking when you're doing something that's practically second nature to you, says psychiatrist Rebecca Gladding, MD, coauthor of You Are Not Your Brain. When you're in the flow - say, knitting your 24th scarf - the brain's prefrontal cortex, which handles executive function, kicks back and lets the basal ganglia, or the habit center, take over. This is when the toxic thought sneaks in and gains control, while your knitting needles continue to clack away rhythmically.

Get your prefrontal cortex to refocus by turning your attention to a challenging activity that requires your full attention, like listening to Coffee Break French podcasts, playing Words With Friends with a responsive pal or whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen. Gladding says that it's important to do this as quickly as you can when you feel your bad thoughts approaching, because the more time you spend dwelling on things, the stronger those mental pathways become. "Then every time you get anxious, you'll automatically switch into obsessive mode," she says—and that's something you definitely want to avoid.

Work Them Out 

At any road race, you'll find dozens of running enthusiasts who have successfully kicked bad habits (as well as chronic bad moods) by following a regular training schedule. And intense physical activity has been shown in studies to raise serotonin and dopamine levels and lower the stress response. But while distance running, biking and swimming can boost general mental wellness, these solitary, repetitive activities can be the worst thing when you're dwelling on something specific and unchangeable. They can provide you with uninterrupted time to obsess, and that may reinforce negative thought patterns.

Consider seeking out physical activity that makes your brain work as hard as your body, like a class (spinning, Zumba, Bikram or Ashtanga yoga), a group sport (community soccer, pickup basketball) or a team activity (rowing, a running group, a master's swim team). 

Now Feel Like Yay!

The end. 

(Adapted from an article by Corrine Pikul in O Magazine)

5 Steps to Being a Leader.

Find Purpose

Purpose is the one thing all great leaders have in common. Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose, while average leaders just show up to work. Purpose fuels passion and work ethic. It is these characteristics that afford great leaders a competitive advantage over those who don’t understand the dynamics of this linkage.

People First

Leaders are nothing without people. People will make or break you as a leader. You’ll either treat them well, earn their trust, respect and loyalty, or you won’t. You’ll either see people as capital to be leveraged or humans to be developed and fulfilled. You’ll either view yourself as superior to your employees, or as one whose job it is to serve them, learn from them, and leave them be better off for being led by you.

The best leaders don’t put people in a box – they free them from boxes. Ultimately, a leaders job isn’t to create followers, but to strive for ubiquitous leadership. Average leaders spend time scaling processes, systems, and models – great leaders focus on scaling leadership.

Develop Awareness

Great leaders are self aware, organizationally aware, culturally aware, contextually aware, and emotionally aware. They value listening, engaging, observing, and learning over pontificating. They value sensitivity over insensitivity and humility over hubris. Leaders who come across as if they know everything haven’t fooled anyone – except themselves.

Great leaders avoid the traps, gaps, and blind spots average leaders so easily step into. Leaders who choose to live in the bubble of their own thinking rather than understanding the benefits of seeking others input and counsel make things harder on everyone. The willingness to allow your positions and opinions to be challenged is a sign of strength not weakness. I’ve often said the most powerful and overlooked aspect of learning is unlearning. Leaders never willing to change their mind ensure only one outcome – a lack of growth and development.

Shun Complexity

Complexity is a leader’s enemy not their friend. Great leaders live to eliminate or simplify the complex, while average leaders allow themselves and those they lead to be consumed by it. Complexity stifles innovation, slows development, gates progress, and adversely impacts culture. Complexity is expensive, inefficient, and ineffective.

I’m not minimizing the fact we live in a complex world, and I’m not suggesting that profit cannot be found in complexity. But great leaders understand opportunity and profits are extracted from complexity through simplification, not by adding to the complexity. While many think it was Einstein who said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” the statement was actually borrowed from Leonardo de Vinci – both gentlemen were correct.

Get Personal

If I only had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.” Great leaders understand nothing is more personal than leadership, and they engage accordingly. The best leaders understand a failure to engage is in fact a failure to lead. Average leaders remain aloof and distant – great leaders look to know and care for their people.

The best leaders understand it’s not a weakness to get personal, to display empathy, kindness, and compassion – it’s the ultimate strength. Peak performance is never built on the backs of others, but by helping others become successful. Treat your people as if your life depends on it, bevcause it does.

(By Mike Myatt via Forbes)

Don't Give Up!

We've hit the halfway mark in the year. The summer weather begs you to slack off and lose focus of your goals. But whatever they may be, you can achieve them.

Don't give up!

These people didn't: 

  • Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. He was defeated in every public office role he ran for. Then he became the British prime minister at the age of 62. 


  • Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was "too stupid to learn anything." Edison also famously invented 1,000 light bulbs before creating one that worked. 
  • Harland David Sanders, the famous KFC "Colonel," couldn't sell his chicken. More than 1,000 restaurants rejected him. But then one did, and today there are KFC restaurants bearing his image all over the world. 
  • R.H. Macy had a history failing businesses, including a dud Macy's in NYC. But Macy kept up the hard work, and ended up with the biggest department store in the world. 
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from his dream school, the University of Southern California, three times. He sought out an education somewhere else and dropped out to be a director. 
  • Marilyn Monroe's first contract with Columbia Pictures expired because they told her she wasn't pretty or talented enough to be an actress. Monroe kept plugging away and is one of the most iconic actresses and sex symbols of all time.

  • Soichiro Honda was passed over for an engineering job at Toyota, and left unemployed. But then he began making motorcycles, started a business and became a billionaire. 
  • Vera Wang failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure-skating team. Then she became an editor at Vogue and was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. She began designing wedding gowns at 40 and today is the premier designer in the business, with a multi-billion dollar industry. 
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas." Several more of his businesses failed before the premiere of his movie Snow White. Today, most childhoods wouldn't be the same without his ideas.
  • Albert Einstein didn't speak until age four and didn't read until age seven. His teachers labeled him "slow" and "mentally handicapped." But Einstein just had a different way of thinking. He later won the Nobel prize in physics.
  • Sir Isaac Newton was tasked with running the family farm, but was a miserable failure. Newton was sent off to Cambridge University and became a physics scholar. 
  • The first time Jerry Seinfeld went onstage, he was booed away by the jeering crowd. Eventually, he became a famous comic with one of the most-loved sitcoms ever. 
  • In Fred Astaire's first screen test, the judges wrote: "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." Astaire went on to be the most famous dancer of all time and won the hearts of American women forever.

  • After Sidney Poitier's first audition, the casting director instructed him to just stop wasting everyone's time and "go be a dishwasher or something." He went on to win an Academy Award and is admired by actors everywhere.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporting job because they told her she wasn't fit to be on screen. But Winfrey rebounded and became the undisputed queen of television talk shows. She's also a billionaire.
  • Stephen King was initially so frustrated with his first novel, Carrie that he threw it in the trash. King's wife found the manuscript in the trash and took it out. To date his 49 novels have sold 350 million copies. 

  • Charlie Chaplin's act was rejected by executives because they thought it was too obscure for people to understand. But then they took a chance on Chaplin, who went on to become America's first bona fide movie star.
  • J.K. Rowling was unemployed, divorced and raising a daughter on social security while writing the first Harry Potter novel. She is now internationally renowned for her 7 book Harry Potter series and is the first person to become a billionaire from writing.
  • While developing his vacuum, Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes and his savings over 15 years. But the 5,127th prototype worked and now the Dyson brand is the best-selling vacuum cleaner in the United States.
  • Dr. Seuss' first book was rejected by 27 different publishers. He's now the most popular children's book author ever.

(By Ashley Lutz and Noah Plaue via Business Insider

Wisdom, by Kareem.

Great insights by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, originally published in Esquire

When I was thirty, I was living my dream. I’d already accomplished most of what I’d set out to achieve professionally: leading scorer in the NBA, leading rebounder, leading blocker, Most Valuable Player, All-Star. But success can be as blinding as Bill Walton’s finger in the eye when battling for a rebound. I made mistakes. Plenty of them. In fact, sometimes I wish I could climb into a time machine and go back to shake some sense into that thirty-year-old me. If I could, here’s the advice I would give him:

1. Be more outgoing.


My shyness and introversion from those days still haunt me. Fans felt offended, reporters insulted. That was never my intention. When you’re on the public stage every day of your life, people think that you crave attention. For me, it was the opposite. I loved to play basketball, and was tremendously gratified that so many fans appreciated my game. But when I was off the court, I felt uncomfortable with attention. I rarely partied or attended celebrity bashes. On the flights to games, I read history books. Basically, I was a secret nerd who just happened to also be good at basketball. Interacting with a lot of people was like taking someone deathly afraid of heights and dangling him over the balcony at the top of the Empire State Building. If I could, I’d tell that nerdy Kareem to suck it up, put down that book you’re using as a shield, and, in the immortal words of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (to prove my nerd cred), “Engage!”

2. Ask about family history.

I wish I’d sat my parents down and asked them a lot more questions about our family history. I always thought there would be time and I kept putting it off because, at thirty, I was too involved in my own life to care that much about the past. I was so focused on making my parents proud of me that I didn’t ask them some of the basic questions, like how they met, what their first date was like, and so forth. I wish that I had.

3. Become financially literate.

“Dude, where’s my money?” is the rallying cry of many ex-athletes who wonder what happened to all the big bucks they earned. Some suffer from unwise investments or crazy spending, and others from not paying close attention. I was part of the didn’t-pay-attention group. I chose my financial manager, who I later discovered had no financial training, because a number of other athletes I knew were using him. That’s typical athlete mentality in that we’re used to trusting each other as a team, so we extend that trust to those associated with teammates. Consequently, I neglected to investigate his background or what qualified him to be a financial manager. He placed us in some real estate investments that went belly up and I came close to losing some serious coin. Hey, Kareem at 30: learn about finances and stay on top of where your money is at all times. As the saying goes, “Trust, but verify.”

4. Play the piano.

I took lessons as a kid but, like a lot of kids, didn’t stick with them. Maybe I felt too much pressure. After all, my father had gone to the Julliard School of Music and regularly jammed with some great jazz musicians. Looking back, I think playing piano would have given me a closer connection with my dad as well as given me another artistic outlet to better express myself. In 2002, I finally started to play and got pretty good at it. Not good enough that at parties people would chant for me to play “Piano Man,” but good enough that I could read music and feel closer to my dad.

5. Learn French.

My grandparents were from Trinidad where, though it was an English-speaking country, the school system was started by the French. Whenever my grandparents wanted to say something they didn’t want me to know, they’d speak French. The language seemed so sophisticated and mysterious. Plus, you earn extra James Bond points when you can order in French in a French restaurant.

6. Get handy.

I always wanted to be one of those guys who, whenever something doesn’t work, straps on a tool belt and says, “I’ll fix it.” I like the Walden-esque idea of complete self-reliance. Build my own house, clean out the carburetors, find out what carburetors are. Recently my washing machine broke and flooded my entire downstairs. I was forced to stand idly by waiting for a plumber to arrive while water rose around my ankles because I didn’t know how to shut off the water. That’s the kind of experience that makes you have your testosterone levels checked.

7. Be patient.

Impatience is the official language of youth. When you’re young, you want to rush to the next thing before you even know where you are. I always think of the joke in Colors that the wiser and older cop (Robert Duvall) tells his impatient rookie partner (Sean Penn). I’m paraphrasing, but it goes something like: “There's two bulls standing on top of a mountain. The younger one says to the older one: ‘Hey pop, let's say we run down there and screw one of them cows.’ The older one says: ‘No son. Let’s walk down and screw 'em all.’” Now, to counter the profane with the profound, one of my favorite quotes is from the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: “Talent hits the target no one else can hit; genius hits the target no one else can see.” I think the key to seeing the target no one else can see is in being patient, waiting for it to appear so you can do the right thing, not just the expedient thing. Learning to wait is one of my greatest accomplishments as I’ve gotten older.

8. Listen more than talk.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

9. Career is never as important as family.

The better you are at your job, the more you’re rewarded, financially and spiritually, by doing it. You know how to solve problems for which you receive praise and money. Home life is more chaotic. Solving problems is less prescriptive and no one’s applauding or throwing money if you do it right. That’s why so many young professionals spend more time at work with the excuse, “I’m sacrificing for my family.” Bullshit. Learn to embrace the chaos of family life and enjoy the small victories. This hit me one night after we’d won an especially emotional game against the Celtics. I’d left the stadium listening to thousands of strangers chanting “Kareem! Kareem!” I felt flush with the sense of accomplishment, for me, for the Lakers, and for the fans. But when I stepped into my home and my son said, “Daddy!” the victory, the chanting, the league standings, all faded into a distant memory.

10. Being right is not always the right thing to be.

Kareem, my man, learn to step away. You think being honest immunizes you from the consequences of what you say. Remember Paul Simon’s lyrics, “There’s no tenderness beneath your honesty.” So maybe it’s not that important to win an argument, even if you “know” you’re right. Sometimes it’s more important to try a little tenderness.

11. Cook more.

After I got divorced I missed home cooked meals and the only person I had to rely on was the guy in the mirror. Plus, I found it impressed women if you could cook a good meal. Once, very shortly after I started cooking for myself, I had a first date with a woman I really wanted to make a good impression on. Of course, I could have done the usual celebrity thing: fancy restaurant, signing autographs, wait-staff fawning. But I wanted this to be special, so I decided to cook for her, everything from soup to dessert. Some women get a little freaked seeing a 7’2” black man with a carving knife and butcher’s apron, but she appreciated the effort. Which was good because the soup was a little salty, the steak a little overcooked, and the flan a little watery…

12. When choosing someone to date, compassion is better than passion.

I’m not saying she shouldn’t be passionate. That’s a given. But look for signs that she shows genuine compassion toward others. That will keep you interested in her a lot longer.

13. Do one thing every day that helps someone else.

This isn’t about charity, this is about helping one individual you know by name. Maybe it means calling your parents, helping a buddy move, or lending a favorite jazz album to Chocolate Fingers McGee.

14. Do more for the community.

This is about charity, extended to people close by whose names you don’t know. You can always do more.

15. Do one thing every day that you look forward to doing.

It’s easy to get caught up in the enormous responsibilities of daily life. The To Do List can swallow your day. So, I’d insist to my younger self to make sure he has one thing on that list that he looks forward to doing.

16. Don’t be so quick to judge.

It’s human nature to instantly judge others. It goes back to our ancient life-or-death need to decide whether to fight or flee. But in their haste to size others up, people are often wrong—especially a thirty-year-old sports star with hordes of folks coming at him every day. We miss out on knowing some exceptional people by doing that, as I’m sure I did. I think the biggest irony of this advice is that it’s coming from someone who’s black, stratospherically tall, and an athlete: the trifecta of being pre-judged. And I have a lifetime of hurtful comments to prove it. Yet, that didn’t stop me from doing the same thing to others. You have to weigh the glee of satisfaction you get from arrogantly rejecting people with the inevitable sadness of regret you’ll eventually feel for having been such a dick. A friend of mine told me he routinely attends all of his high school reunions so he can apologize to every person he mistreated back then. He’s now on his fortieth reunion and still apologizing.

17. When breaking up with a woman, you can’t always remain friends.

I have managed to stay friends with many of the women I have dated because I truly liked and respected them. But sometimes emotions run too deep and efforts to remain friends, while that might help you feel better, actually might make the other person feel worse. Take the hit and let it go.

18. Watch more TV.

Yeah, you heard right, Little Kareem. It’s great that you always have your nose in history books. That’s made you more knowledgeable about your past and it has put the present in context. But pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.

19. Do more yoga.

Yes, K, I know you do yoga already. That’s why you’ve been able to play so long without major injuries. But doing more isn’t just for the physical benefits, it’s for the mental benefits that will come in handy in the years ahead, when your house burns down, your jazz collection perishes, and you lose to the Pistons in a four-game sweep in your final season.

20. Everything doesn’t have to be fixed.

Relax, K-Man. Some stuff can be fixed, some stuff can’t be. Deciding which is which is part of maturing.

Meh.

Don't let it getcha!

Stay Creative!

Best seat in the house.

Punctuate It.

Time for some new standards, no? 

Just one thing.

Or, we can do it for you. 

In the clouds.

Today, strike a balance between dreaming and doing. 

Recharge.

Give yourself a break this weekend! Studies show that taking time to relax and recharge rather than constantly pushing yourself to work will result in up to 16% higher awareness & focus when you do work.

Your moments.

I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.

-Georgia O’Keeffe

Thoughts on success.

 

It takes a lot of hard work to get life right.  

MaryEllen Tribby, inspired by hearing a speech from Steve Wozniak, made this list that she calls The Success Indicator.


In this new year, it's a great reminder to work with focus and an open, positive attitude.  

Successful People

Have a sense of gratitude 

Forgive others

Accept responsibility for their failures 

Compliment others

Read every day

Keep a journal

Talk about ideas rather that people

Want others to succeed 

Share information and data

Keep a "to-be" list

Keep a "to-do/project" list 

Exude joy

Set goals and develop life plans 

Embrace change

Give other people credit for their victories 

Operate from a transformational perspective

 

Unsuccessful People

Have a sense of entitlement 

Hold a grudge 

Blame others for their failures

Criticize 

Watch TV every day

Talk about people rather than ideas 

Secretly hope others fail

Horde information and data 

Don't know what they want to be

Exude anger 

Fly by their seat of their pants

Never set goals

Think they know it all

Fear change

Take all the credit for their victories 

Operate from a transactional perspective

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