Monthly Archives: May 2012

Getting Your Life Back from the Insane Digital World

This piece by Tony Schwartz on taking back your life by managing all the ‘digital devices’ in our lives was too good to not post.

While doing some spiritual reading this morning I came across this passage by spiritual life writer, St Paul in a letter he wrote some 2000 years ago to people living in the area we call Turkey today.

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are…So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!17Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

I hope you will enjoy this and also take massive action to regain some balance in your life, work, recreation, and relational worlds.

Seven Simple Steps to take Your life back–by Tony Schwartz (Harvard Business Review)
In my most recent blog, I wrote about how we’ve allowed technology to take a pernicious toll on our attention, and in turn, on our creativity, our resilience, our relationships and, ultimately, our productivity.
This week I’m turning my focus to how to wrest back control of your attention, so you can make conscious choices that provide long term satisfaction rather than instant but fleeting gratification.
What follows are seven steps, but you’re vastly more likely to succeed if you limit yourself to one or two at a time.
1. Start to focus on what you’re doing with your attention. You can’t change what you don’t notice. For three designated hours during the next 24, keep careful track of how frequently you feel compelled to check one or another of your digital devices, and to move between activities.
Begin by getting a notebook or a pad. Each time you feel an impulse to go online — or to shift your attention to something else when you’re already online — make a check in your notebook. If you decide to follow your impulse, circle the check you’ve made.
At the end of three hours, you’ll have a clear picture of how intense the pull is on your attention. The number of checks will tell you how frequently you feel distracted, and the number of circles will tell you how often you succumb to your impulse. Just by paying attention, you’ll give in less often than you ordinarily do.
2. Take a few minutes every day — either just before you leave work, or just before you go to sleep — to define and write down the two or three most important things you want to accomplish tomorrow, and when you intend to work on them.
3. Do the most important activity first in the morning, for a designated period of time no longer than 90 minutes, with every digital device you own turned to silent. If you can do this, you’ll accomplished more in that time than most people do in an entire day (including you, when you’re constantly moving between activities.)
4. Eliminate as much “insecurity work” from your life as possible. My friendScott Belsky came up with this brilliant phrase to describe the aimless things we do over and over to reassure ourselves we matter — Googling your own name; checking your number of Twitter followers or your Klout ranking; peeking at your website’s analytics; and looking up your Amazon ranking if you’ve written a book.
5. Keep a running list of everything that’s on your mind — in order to get it off your mind. Our working memories have very limited capacity, so the more things you’re thinking about, the fewer of them you’re likely to remember.
I download everything from “to do’s,” to ideas I’m having, to people I need to email or call, to issues that are bothering me. Writing all this down, as it arises, literally clears space in our working memories for whatever most deserves our attention.
6. Each time you go online to do anything, ask yourself “Is this best use of my time?” Sometimes, of course, it will be. Often, however, it’s something you do automatically, or as a way to avoid more difficult work. If you realize it isn’t the best use of your time, ask yourself “What is?” — and do that.
7. Systematically, train your attention. A simple way is to read more books, preferably good ones. Deeply focused, uninterrupted reading is a very good way to train and sustain your brain’s capacity for absorbed attention.
A second alternative is to practice a breath-counting meditation — in to a count of three, out to a count of six — for two to five minutes several times a day. It’s not just a way to teach the brain to focus on one thing at a time, but also a very effective strategy for relaxing physically and emotionally. In as little as one minute of focused breathing, it’s possible to completely clear the bloodstream of the stress hormone cortisol.
Above all else, build back into your life stopping times, finish lines and boundaries. That’s what we’ve lost in our digital world. When you’re engaged, be fully engaged, for a defined period of time and then stop. When you do take a break, chill out and truly renew. Earn it, and then enjoy it.

Pioneering vs Following

While having an espresso with my son and dialoguing about ‘the big stuff of life’, I shared this powerful line with him from Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I asked him, ‘Mikey, do you feel more inclined to follow paths other people create, or to mark out your own trail, free of other people’s (including me) expectations and influences?’ I knew his answer. This boy craves and breathes originality. He’s my inspiration of someone who is not afraid to be the self he really is.(Soren Kierkegaard)

‘Of course, I prefer to create and be the author of my own life,’ he said.

We’re wired to doing what other people expect of us. We learn (from parents, teachers, and other influencers) that we should try to fit in and not stand out.

Yet many of us regret that we did not follow our own muse, passions and visions.

Barry Demp suggests we ask ourselves these questions if we are inclined to create our own path.

Ask yourself:

What inspires me?
What am I passionate about?
Where do I lose all my sense of time?
Where and when am I the happiest?
What are my unique abilities and talents?

Today while sipping my espresso, I am wondering, How will I find the courage to chart my own life journey? Where will I go and what will I do? At age 59 am I willing to step more courageously into unknown future and uncharted path?

I’m still sipping…

PS If you need assistance flip me an email. I am seeking to coach myself and others into an exciting new adventure.

Mamma Yolanda

Mom’s Day is always emotional for me. My Mamma has been gone since May 2001. No day passes where I don’t think of her. I loved many things about her but mostly my mom would always ‘take my side’ even if I was wrong. For whatever reason, that memory lingers.

She also always reminded me to treat my wife Rosetta ‘come’ una rosa prezosia’. Treat your wife ‘like a precious rose, which I hope I have done and continue to do.

Mamma, I will never forget you. Your smile, red ‘always’ done up hair, having a coffee with you, eating the pasta you made with ‘polpetta'(meatballs), your love for my wife and sons, your reminders to our ‘kids’ to always ‘love mummy and daddy’. All these and a thousand memories fill my heart and mind today.

You would love ‘le ragazze’ ( the girls) your grandsons brought home.

I pray you are more alive today than ever and dancing with the angels.


My 59th birthday

Yesterday on my 59th birthday duty called and I had to be in Vancouver B.C doing some work for the organization I work with. I started the day with a very early morning run by the bay. I just thought how after all these years what a blessed man I am.

I struggle with the BMW ‘sindrome’ of ‘bitching, moaning and whining’ but as my beloved wife rosetta of 36 years says ‘Luch you have a great life and so little to complain about. You have a wife who adores you, sons who want to be like you, daughters in law who cherish you, and extended family and friends who feel wonderful to have you as their uncle , brother in law, son in law, and close buddy. You are blessed! ‘

In the spirit of that ‘being blessed’ I spent a better part of the day reflecting on William Arthur Ward’s poem about The Blessed Man’. This is the kind of man I want to be ‘when I grow up’.

Blessed is the man for whom a good woman lives, to whom his work is a pleasure, by whom his friends are encouraged, with whom others are comfortable, in whom a clear conscience abides, and through whom his children see God.

Blessed is the man who strength is enhanced by his tenderness, who wisdom is empowered by his faith, and whose courage is made complete by his compassion.

Blessed is the man who looks at life with joyful optimism, who listens to his children with eager attentiveness, who enriches his community with creative enthusiasm, who loves his country with grateful loyalty, and who worship his God with unswerving fidelity.

Blessed is the man who brings honor to the word “father,” who is a credit to the word “brotherhood,” who is a quiet example of the child’s perfect image of the word “manhood.”

Blessed is the man who confidently builds bridges of understanding, who generously lightens the loads of his fellow man, and who cheerfully brightens each day with words of hope, inspiration and assurance.

Blessed is the man of whom his children often say, “We’re glad he’s our father”; of whom his wife often say, “I’m glad he’s my husband”; of whom his parents say, “We’re glad he’s our son.”

–William Arthur Ward

All for the Run

I have been around athletics all my life and watched all 3 of my sons excel in their respective sports. In the early years when our sons were ‘kids’ we had them run a lot, so naturally they took up ‘the sport of endurance running’ which branched them off into long distance running, competitive running, and triathloning—all great ways to maintain one’s shape.

Recently my son Michael took on a project as director of this cool video called All For the Run, and teamed up with Canadian Olympic bound athlete–Reid Coolsaet and musician Shawn Brady–to help get this video out to a wider viewing audience and give folks of the running world and beyond a taste of the passion Reid and people like him have for this grueling sport, and also provide a way to get some resourcing to the athlete and the project.

Check this cool piece and consider participating to make someone’s dream even more achievable.