Inspiration in a Tube

Beautiful blond girl jumps over green grass
My husband sighed and watched me with his “there she goes again” grin as I skillfully maneuvered another squeeze of toothpaste out of the totally flattened tube. Not really a super frugal person, but getting the last dab of paste out of every tube that finds its way into the Simon household is a challenge I rise to meet.

As I press down hard, managing to anoint my brush with a final dollop of the cool mint fluoride-free paste promising to rid my teeth of plaque while whitening, it brings to mind a speech I heard in a staff meeting long ago. The passionate talk, given by one of my colleagues, did much to inspire a leadership group facing some dim financial results. I do not remember his name, but I will never forget the essence of his message. It was about always being able to squeeze out what you need.

I often use the toothpaste analogy for inspiration. Whether you are running a marathon, or burning the midnight oil trying to finish an important report with an early morning due date, if you push hard enough you can find the extra steam required to complete the task at hand.

Is bringing the last drop of energy to the surface an easy feat? No, it takes a large dose of grit and some solid mental prodding. Stated differently, you must draw on your willpower. defines willpower as a noun meaning “the ability to control oneself and determine one’s actions.” Well, pardon me Mr. Webster, but I think your definition is only half right. Staying the course when you question how to keep going involves the will to power-through (verb).

One way to keep going when you want to throw in the towel is what I call “channel-changing.”
Let’s take running the marathon, or any physical activity as an example. If your negative mental chatter pipes up trying to convince you that you’ll never reach the finish line, forget the finish line and think about a motivating subject. Visualize the glass of cold water waiting for you and the joy of hugging your five year old when the race is over. I employ that strategy with my fitness trainer. When I’m ready to say uncle and he calls for more reps, I conjure up an image of the new sundress I bought. No way can I rock that beautiful sky-blue outfit with flabby arms.

So, the next time you need to power-through an activity when your tank registers empty, change the channel and think of squeezing that tube of paste. I know you can do it!

Bouncing Back

sad girl with a sad smile drawn on paper
One day while listening to a CD I found myself in utter awe of Darren Hardy, the presenter and publisher of Success Magazine, as he spoke about having a pity party. It’s the kind you throw one when you suffer a disappointment that knocks you on your keister, making you want to crawl under the covers with a bowl of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream and never come back out.

We are not talking about serious tragedies. It’s more like not getting a major contract you thought was a slam-dunk, or receiving the seventeenth rejection letter on your book or getting the “I think we should see other people”, AKA break-up call.
Woman tearing contract

Darren said he has whittled down wallowing-in-sorrow from two weeks, to two days, to two hours, to two minutes or back up to twenty minutes if it is a colossal set-back.

This subject frequently comes into play during a coaching session with a client. My standard advice is limit the “woe is me scenario” to 24 hours. Let yourself feel the pain, lick your wounds then get right back up.

Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, who annually invests $1.75 million on the hit show “Shark Tank,” says she takes a chance on an individual only if her gut tells her the entrepreneur possesses the ability to get really hurt and quickly bounce back.

How can you step-up your bounce back rate? First, recognize your negative emotions. Understandably you’re hurting. It is okay to experience those feelings. You may even wish to write about it. Vent away on paper! Try playing some heavy rock while you are pouring out your venom.
Head Phones
Then move on and access the damages. Dig deep. Did you play any role in causing the upset, or was it totally beyond your control? Ask yourself what you could have done differently to skew the outcome. Making some notes on lessons learned helps the healing process.

Lastly, focus on something positive. If you have not quite recovered from your funk using my outlined method, go directly to the freezer and party with Ben & Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta or whatever flavor puts a smile on your face.
gelato al cioccolato fondente
Avoid jumping under the covers. Instead plug in the funniest video you own and lose yourself in laughter.

At the end of the day, some of us may never be able to match a two-minute sulk and recovery, but it is possible to skinny down the time we spend singing the blues. Keep working at it. There may be a day when you stand before Corcoran and the rest of the Sharks. Show them you are a winner who can rapidly bounce back!

Getting Ready to Play Hardball

Hand of Baseball Player with Pink Glove and Ball over Blue Sky
My client sighed heavily as he took a seat in the office lamenting over the multiple projects needing attention and his lack of motivation to tackle anything. I nodded as it was not unusual in my practice to have clients voice that particular frustration. Certainly we all go through periods of diminished energy and experience feelings of not being “up” for the challenge. Long ago I learned a partial remedy for combating inertia is, as Woody Allen so aptly expressed it, “80 percent of success is just showing up.

The fact that the young man did arrive for his scheduled coaching session was indeed a start. Reminding him of this fact, I also shared the story of a baseball player who developed a system to pull himself out of a lethargic funk and ready both mind and body for a win. This pitcher developed a routine that consisted of jogging back and forth on the field, stretching hips and hamstrings, throwing some light warm-up pitches from the mound and then heading back to the dugout. He diligently performed these sequenced movements prior to every game. The routine not only succeeded in getting his body warmed up, it also coaxed out a positive attitude resulting in his pre-game focused mentality.

Most of us do not bound out of bed with the enthusiasm of a four year old at the beach. Our mind and bodies often need a little prodding to get the message that there is work to be done. As adults, establishing a rhythmic series of steps helps inspire action. A friend of mine jumps out of bed and into her running shoes to convince her feet that sooner or later they are heading to the gym. I go through an orchestrated dance when arriving at my desk each morning strong cup of coffee in hand. Rather than immediately diving into a complex project I warm up by reviewing my schedule, reading an inspirational blog or two and then attending to some mundane administrative tasks. The process takes about twenty minutes and by that time I am alert and ready to take on the day.

There are those who may dispute the utter simplicity of just showing up and going through the motions. But just as a prima ballerina warms up at the barre with a series of plies and ronds de james prior taking the floor,
Ballerina 2
or a chef preps food before creating a gourmet entrée, we all need a little windup routine before we can knock one out of the ballpark.