Better IS Better

AT&T’s “Better” campaign is pretty entertaining. There are a number of them out there, but this is one of my favorites:

There are two things I like about it. First, who can deny that “better is better”? Who doesn’t want better work, better relationships, a better life or a better phone network? The instinctive response is “everyone!” In my experience this answer is not true. Most people will say they want a better life, but when you ask them what they are willing to do to get a better life, the truth is revealed in their actions.

The second thing I like about this commercial is that not everyone is going to get your joke, or your life choices, or you. Guess what – that’s OK. In fact, it’s preferred. If you want to be unlike the masses, you will need to be different than the masses. What you do want to do is surround yourself with people who ARE different than the masses. Be with people who are the persons you want to become. That’s where real growth, inspiration, support and change for the better comes from.

Yes, better is better. Now the question is this: what are you willing to do to get to better?

What is one thing you want to improve and make better? Share it here and get growth, inspiration and support to get there!

Dangers of the Pat Answer

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Image courtesy of sirikul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pat answers have a place in my world.  When I am asked, “How are you?” I have a pat answer to reflect a positive attitude and bright outlook.  My pat answer is intentional, thought out, and the same almost always.  It works extremely well until I need to engage the mind and engage the questioner.  When this engagement is required I usually see it coming from a mile away; my close friend is asking how I am over a cup of coffee.  My boss asks me how I am during a weekly update meeting.  These answers are less memorized, less automatic, but far from impulsive.

I have pat answers for almost all questions from people I do not know.  Paper or plastic?  Would you like a receipt? Would you like to donate to our cause?  Pat answers are safe and predictable.  Pat answers get the same reaction from the people asking the question.

Pat answers are not infallible.  In my experience, pat answers are to blame for a lot of missed opportunity.  The partnership that could have been.  The sales call that should have been a success.  Recently I gave a pat answer to someone asking for money while I was standing on the sidewalk.  In fact, I even had some pat questions to ask back to this person.  She answered them all correctly, and I still gave my pat answer.  It wasn’t half a minute after she disappeared that I knew I missed an opportunity.  I had been caught unprepared for her question, unprepared to serve.  Unprepared to be generous and loving.  I was unprepared to be blessed by the opportunity to take action and give.

Had I been without a pat answer I would have been able to see in real time what is now clearly seen in retrospect.  Someone was in need, and I was unprepared to help.  If I see her again, I hope I am prepared to ditch the pat answer.  I hope to look beyond the comfort of the pat answer and capitalize on the incredible opportunity right in front of me.

Do you have a pat answer that is preventing you from taking advantage of a remarkable opportunity?  Share it here.

Freedom Comes From Discipline – 5 Tips To Reach Any Goal

A few years ago I was duped into running a half marathon.  Sounds ridiculous, but tis true – duped.  My wife and her best friend agreed to run a half marathon and knew they needed their husbands to participate with them.  Here’s what the conversation sounded like in my house:

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Salli: “James is running the half marathon with Kristen and me.  Are you in?”

Me: “James is running it?!”

Salli: “Yep.”

Me: (Pride in tact) “Absolutely.”

Unknown to me at the time, here’s what the conversation sounded like in James’ house:

Kristen: “Salli and Aaron are running the half marathon with me.  Do you want to run with Aaron?”

James: “YEAH!”

(Note: James’ response was much more enthusiastic and supportive because he is one of the most humble and gracious people on the planet.   Also understand that neither James nor I had run in about…ever.)

So that’s how James and I were duped into running a half marathon. Now that we were on the hook to run this thing, it was time to get running.  Running requires a lot of discipline particularly for someone who despises the activity as much as I do.  But if I wanted the freedom to run 13.1 miles, I needed the discipline to train for the event.

How do you stick to a discipline routine to gain the freedom you desire?  Here are 5 tips:

1.      What if analysis

-         What will be gained if I stick to this discipline?  I will have accomplished something that only a fraction of people ever accomplish.  I will be healthier.  I will have more energy.  I will have a stronger bond with my good friend.  Write it down on the left hand side of a sheet of paper.

-         What will be lost if I do not implement this discipline? Status quo.  Disappointing my wife and friends.  Missed joy of finishing the race.  Write it down on the right hand side of the same paper.

2.      Put a start and finish date to your discipline routine

For my half marathon training the start date had to be tomorrow, and the finish date was race day.  There is a very powerful motivator to pull on the shoes when you know the starting pistol will be going off in 12 weeks whether you’re ready or not.

3.      Overcome hurdles to sticking with it

Start to really analyze what will prevent you from the activity the next time you are scheduled to do it.  I get up early to work out.  The night before I lay out my socks, workout clothes, shoes, and even put a full water bottle in the refrigerator.  None of these prep tasks seem very big obstacles but with the sleep still clouding my eyes and competing priorities of sleep over strenuous activities, any one of these might be enough to cut the legs out from my workout routine.

4.      Set up a reward system

Put a goal in place and when you hit it celebrate!  Mini goals along the journey with a big goal at the end will keep the adventure attractive.  Did you complete a full week of getting up early?  Then reward yourself with a day to sleep in on your rest day.   The reward for our half marathon training was participating in the race itself and also seeing our dear friends James and Kristen who live 800 miles away.

5.      Have a partner

Knowing that you are not going through this alone can be enough to keep you going when it gets difficult.  Having someone to call who can relate to what you are experiencing, hold you accountable to doing the work, and encourage you along the way will make a big difference in your discipline routine.

One final thought: if you are serious about making strong healthy changes in your life to bring about the freedom you desire, choose one at a time.  Your freedom may require multiple disciplines.  It probably will.  But wait to get one new freedom into a habit before adding the next.  And don’t worry about falling off the wagon.  Expect yourself to fall off course from time to time.  If you need to lament your loss, do it quickly and get back into the race with the determination to win.  You can do it.

What freedom have you been toying with and need to establish some disciplines to finally break out of the chains you are in?  I would love to hear about it!