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Great approach to life and business!

This week Adam Bryant interviews Marla Malcom Beck, the chief executive of Bluemercury, a beauty products and spa services retailer. I really appreciate her no-nonsense, common sense approach to life and business! Regarding hiring she states, “In about two minutes, I can ascertain skill based on what they’ve done… Will is about hunger so I’ll ask what do you want to do in five or 10 years.”

I talk often about will and skill or desire and ability. Both can be cultivated but there’s no substitute for natural ability and passion. A lot of business owners bring this up: does a prospective employee have the passion and ability to make a real difference in my organization? I look for something similar when I hire too. Do they really care, do they want to be here and do they have the skill sets too? These are important considerations next time you are about to hire someone new!

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Aaron Chang Photography

Brent Frei, the co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a project and software management company, looks for people who are “mentally athletic and agile.” He prefers attitude and aptitude over experience. I like his perspective, a lot!

As a Sports Psychologist and Life Coach I constantly help people improve their mental game and develop a great attitude toward life and everything in it. This is not easy. Sometimes, as we all know, life has a way of knocking us down. That’s why good decision making and perseverance are so important. The more we learn from our mistakes, get tougher mentality, and learn to take consistent action toward our dreams and goals the greater the chance we will eventually succeed!

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Chance at success

An article by David Busis in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times entitled ‘Meanwhile in a Parallel Universe,’ is very interesting. The author is frustrated and uncertain about his career while a college buddy has made millions doing what he loves as an entrepreneur. Mr. Busis and his wife vacation with his buddy and his new flame setting the stage for discomfort as everything seems better for his buddy than himself.

Having lived nearly five decades now I’ve seen suffering in almost everyone’s life. Though some of us seem to figure out our careers and self- love journeys sooner than others, most of us are faced with similar obstacles: finding and creating a rewarding career, creating a happy and healthy family and developing inner peace. None of this is easy but if we learn to avoid nothing, be as present as possible, have outstanding integrity and honor ourselves, we have a much greater chance at success and will tend to feel good about ourselves and our journeys no matter what others are up too.

As an identical twin I know this to be true. My brother has made millions of dollars a year for over two decades while I focused on making a difference in people’s lives. His lifestyle has far outstripped mine in every material way and yet I am happy largely because I live the principles I teach!

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Invest in others

Robert Reid, the C.E.O of Intacct, a cloud-based software company, believes that most issues with execution come down to training and process. He states, “If somebody is not doing what you expect or you have a different viewpoint, you need to seek to understand what’s going on and help them.”

It’s refreshing to see a business owner who values both people and process. I often say I love to invest in others. I will spend money on someone I like who is good at what they do just to support them in being great. Valuing others is a great way to live.

I also love to help others focus on process. As I often say, “if you want success focus on process, if you stress focus on outcome.” We live in a culture obsessed with outcomes when it’s often the journey (process) that brings us happiness!

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Climate change awareness

I really appreciate Thomas Friedman’s perspective on a wide range of issues! In his post in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times, Mr. Friedman summarizes the climate change issue. Essentially, climate change awareness and action as nations is crucial to our future and the future of mankind. He writes, “as the I.E.A warned, “no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050″ – otherwise we’ll bust through the limit of 2-degree Celsius rise in ocean temperature that scientists believe will unleash truly disruptive ice melt, sea level rise, and weather extremes.”

Unfortunately, the same technological prowess that enables us to utilize solar, battery, and wind power has also created a boom in oil production as fracking has allowed oil and gas companies access to hundreds of millions of barrels of oil that weren’t accessible only a few years ago. Inexpensive oil, though seemingly good for the consumer, may be horrendous for all of us longer-term as it makes green alternatives less palatable. Denial and greed are two obstacles to success in combating climate change. As always, education and awareness are pivotal to this issue and many others!

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Thoughts on happiness

The New York Times Sunday Review feature article on happiness by Arthur Brooks concludes that we must learn to love people not money, power, status, or sexual pleasure. This seems pretty evident to some and yet it’s super-challenging for many in a culture addicted to Facebook, Twitter, Reality TV, and video games to name a few. The challenge with happiness is that we must cultivate good habits over long periods of time. Essentially, I teach non-avoidance, a way of living that means we live and express out truth! Wow, that’s not easy. I often tell clients that if they are ready I can teach them how to be happier and more fulfilled but it requires substantial work on their part. The majority of people I’ve coached in over two decades of working with people have quit well before they graduated. In other words, they didn’t want to work that hard.

Depending on how we were raised (conditioned) and our genetics, happiness is something we must learn and cultivate over time. In addition to avoiding nothing, I teach presence, honoring thyself, integrity, and intuition as a basis for success in life and business. Presence, for example, means a commitment to live in the here and now as much as possible. This means learning how to observe and pay attention to the mind without getting caught up in self. Again, not easy and yet like the other principles, it is a foundation for well-being!

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Take Personal Responsibility

Adam Bryant interviews Hannah Paramore, president of the Digital Agency. Several things she said resonate with me: one is how important it is to take personal responsibility. I am working with a client now who has a pattern of running the negative emotions of jealosy and envy. I’m trying to teach him to shift his thought process and change a devastating cycle of emotional states that leave him weak and ineffectual. Taking personal responsibility for our emotions is at the core of successfully navigating relationships in business and intimacy. If you blame others for anything you are effectively giving your power away and acting like a victim. Powerful people make tough decisions and do something about situations that are not working for them. This may not be easy but it is the only way to take control over your life and business.

Ms. Paramore ends her interview by stating the value of trusting one’s gut. I am a huge believer in developing and trusting your intuition. It is my fifth principle of living successfully! To develop your gut instinct you must practice slowing down and listening to yourself by bringing yourself constantly back to the hear and now, the essence of mindfulness and good decision making.

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The importance of communication

Gina Centrello has a great attitude! It’s obvious from her interview with Adam Bryant, the New York Times Corner Office guy. Ms. Centrello stresses over and over the value of hard work, curiosity, and teamwork. She believes that the success of the organization hinges on the harmonious interaction of its key members and strives to create an atmosphere that fosters teamwork!

As a sports psychologist and life and business coach I foster teamwork for a living. I do this by teaching others the value of and know how of graceful communication and the importance of communication in general. Yesterday, I worked with a high school pitcher on communication issues with both his coach and girlfriend. The better we communicate the less drama and distraction we have and the more synergy we create and experience! My argument to this 18 year-old is to practice as often as possible for the more we address problems and potential conflicts in a straight-up and real manner the more we find our lives working and the easier it becomes! The time is now. Trust your intuition and learn to communicate straight-up. It is simply the best way to live!

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Training the mind is as important as training the body

I’ve been coaching more and more athletes on the mental game over the past several years! A reoccurring theme is what to do with criticism. It’s part of a larger discussion on mindfulness. When we are able to slow down our thought process and become more aware of our mental and emotional states we then have the capacity to unhook from our reactions and change our thoughts. This applies to parents as much as business people or athletes. Suppose you are pitching a solid game and have one rough inning and your coach comes to the mound all pissed off. He says a few words, goes back to the bench and kicks the water cooler. Do you let that rattle you? Get under your skin? Or do you pay attention to your breathe, settle down and redirect your thoughts to throwing a strike on the outside corner? It’s similar in extreme examples like road rage? Do you let someone’s idiocy get you going or do you pay attention to your breathe and redirect your thoughts to the possibility that this other person is dealing with an emergency?

Training the mind is as important as training the body. The more you practice the better you get. So the next time you find yourself overreacting to one of your children breathe, pay attention to your thoughts, and redirect them to something positive or something you appreciate about them. This works!!

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The importance of good leadership skills

Ron Kaplan, the C.E.O. of Trex, a manufacturer of outside decks, learned from his father that the number one job of a leader is to “make the staff feel secure” which comes from your presence, integrity, and reliability. Being focused, fun, and real the mantra of my website communicates a certain presence, style, and way of being! I love congruency and authenticity as a way of guiding others and living successfully!

Mr. Kaplan prefers to give advice by asking questions, a style I prefer as well. When I used to teach at a community college, I preferred to ask questions instead of lecture feeling that students learn more by having to think and be proactive about learning than rote memory.

As a marksmen, Mr. Kaplan learned the power of focus and concentration, a necessity in a sport as precise as shooting! Focus responds to presence and a quiet mind. To quiet the mind, it’s fundamentally important to meditate and practice mindfulness, something I work on daily and practice over and over. In my last blogpost on sports psychology I talked about holing out from the fairway to end a golf match in style. I have no doubt that shot went in from nearly 140 yards out largely because I continually practice meditation and mindfulness!