Falling in love with saying NO

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In the age of ridiculously abundant information, it’s so easy to develop infomania and feel like you can’t stop researching and learning more about a topic. 

Nurturing and protecting your ability to create is more important and more difficult than ever.  

Falling in love with the power of no helped me learn to focus.  Instead of feeling like I’m giving up, I’ve taught myself to connect my power to say no to a feeling of freedom , liberation and power. I think of saying NO as actually enabling me to say YES.  

My power to say no to something “interesting” is what makes it possible for me to say YES and devote time and energy to what I’m truly passionate about.

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“Stop. I’m not going to take any more input until I’ve made something with what I got.”

– Merlin Mann

 

 

Top 3 Reasons Agile Self-Leadership beats Self-Control as a Peak Performance Strategy

If you are like most people today, daily living is full of unpredictable events requiring you to constantly rethink, replan, and reprioritize.

One of the most commonly recommended strategies for getting things done today is to cultivate more “self-control.” The idea is that if you had more self-control you could get more done — and operate at “peak performance” level more often — because after all “normal” successful people have a lot of self-control, right?    That’s the common working assumption in our culture.  Rarely do you hear anyone talking about self-leadership or leading yourself to get things done.

But when you really think about it…what is self-control? Every one has their own definition, and many usually say something like “we don’t really mean “control.”  Are we just too lazy to find a more accurate way to describe how we get ourselves to do things?  I propose that Agile Self-Leadership is a much more precise, meaningful and inspiring way to think about how we cultivate and optimize our own performance.

I love the way NYU Professor and author of the excellent book Ungifted: Intelligence RedefinedScott Barry Kaufman  defines self-control.

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AgiliZen in Action: How We Converted our Front Yard from Dreaded Weekly Lawn Chore to Daily Garden Delight

Wanna see how we transformed our front lawn from a time, resource and energy drain to a low maintenance, agile, perennial garden where we love to hang out with friends and neighbors?  

Check out the video below!  Not only is our former lawn now an extension of our home and living space, we’ll also get fresh vegetables including lettuce, tomatoes, snap peas, and herbs.New Video - AgiliZen Lawn & Garden Work

We start renovating the front of our home after we bought it in 2001.  My very first gardening project was to install window boxes. A few years ago we lost our big oak tree and suddenly had a VERY sunny yard.  So we planted a tree (prairie fire crab apple) and then started replacing most of our lawn with garden.

This year we are initiating phase 1 of Continue reading

Resisting the War on Resistance. BOOK REVIEW of “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles”

I don’t usually write about what I disagree with, but I think it’s time for me to express my opposition to cultural metaphors and myths that feed the growing epidemic of stress, anxiety, powerlessness, and feelings of inadequacy that so many people are experiencing today.

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What better place to start resisting than with a best-selling book that has 309 5-star reviews and declares something as untrue as  “Resistance is Evil?” 

If resistance is characterized as evil…no wonder our culture destroys the confidence and self-respect of anyone who dares to be different, express dissenting ideas, or disagree with dominant values.  

Today, I’ve decided to resist openly and honestly. I’m not going to be “nice” or “quiet” just to not make waves.  Our cultural obsession with the idea that self-control and battling one’s inner resistance is the only way to “break through” procrastination or creative blocks must be challenged.   Continue reading

5 Steps to Cultivating the Power of Habit with Agile Thinking Habits

 

Cultivating the power of habit is the ultimate productivity tool.  Learning how to shape your habits is like learning how to fly a plane — once you know how, you can go just about anywhere you want to go — much faster.   But first, you’ve got to learn how to fly the plane.

The thing about habits is they have different characteristics and ingredients.
 How you cultivate them requires understanding the features of the habit and using strategies and tools appropriate to that habit.  For example, habits range from simple to extremely complex. Some are easier to change than others.

Some habits are composed of many smaller habits and so can’t be changed all at once. Some were learned on purpose, most are learned by accident, without you even being aware you are learning them. Most habits can’t be learned on a time schedule. In fact, putting time pressure on yourself to learn them actually makes them harder to learn.  That old adage that it takes 21 days to establish a habit is actually a myth. Continue reading

Agile Life Lessons: Dealing with Setbacks

Agile Life Lesson: Bouncing Back is the Key to Self-Confidence

There will ALWAYS be setbacks. Our greatest accomplishments are in the moments of bouncing back.  Our self-confidence is the trust that no matter how frustrating and horrifying our challenges may be, we can and will bounce back and rise to the occasion with a new design or strategy.  It’s the only thing in life we can count on really.



Agile Life Lesson: Acknowledging Yourself is the Key to Bouncing Back

Every day that you keep trying and making steps, even though they are so microscopic it can feel excruciating, YOU are worth acknowledging.

Those teeny tiny steps are what add up to the bigger accomplishment. Acknowledge yourself and they will keep adding up.

Self-acknowledgement is the difference between stuckness and progress. It’s what puts the gas back in your tank.


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 Chronic Procrastination and Resistance: The Truth Behind Why we Procrastinate

 Top 10 Mistakes People Make when Trying to Change Behavior

 

Agilizing, Resistance and the Art of War



 

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I learned a lot about how to AVOID inner war by reading the “Art of War” by SunTzu.  I read the book because I wanted to better understand why “war” is so commonly used as in our culture as a metaphor for personal growth.  In my opinion, gardening and cultivation is a far more accurate metaphor for how personal growth really works.


To my surprise I found that Sun Tzu actually teaches that war should be used only as a last resort.  How interesting that so many people have misinterpreted or distorted his work or perhaps haven’t actually read the book in it’s entirety.

How unfortunate for us that war metaphors as so commonly used to teach self-development.  Teaching people to use war as a primary way of interacting with themselves, like “Conquering Your Inner Critic” or “Battling your Inner Demons” is a recipe for fostering chronic frustration, insecurity, depression and anxiety.

Another popular example of using war as a metaphor for engaging with the parts of ourselves we don’t understand is the book, “The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He refers constantly to our inner resistance as “our inner enemy.”   This is not just a word problem.  It’s NOT TRUE.

In fact it’s worse than not true, believing you have an enemy inside you feeds and worsens the problem you are trying to solve.  The truth is that you have inner opposition and you NEED that part of you so that you can learn and grow.

rp_Agilizen-think-you-know-250x228.pngEnemies tend to hate you and not have your best interest at heart.  Opponents may challenge you but may also be your friend who cares about you deeply and wants you to succeed.  It is FAR more helpful to your personal relationship with yourself (and to your personal growth) to view your inner resistance as a challenging friend who is trying to give you difficult feedback but doesn’t have the right words.

Listening to that friend instead of fighting or trying to silence it is far more valuable to your personal growth, don’t you think? Even if you disagree with it, there is value in being challenged to fine-tune your thinking, and to become more creative and agile in your problem-solving, isn’t there?

Sun Tzu teaches that the most effective way of winning is never going to war.  It is a far superior strategy to avoid war and to turn your opponents into allies.

Another common myth is that The Art of War is about how to deal with enemies.  Interestingly, I found that he used the term “oppositional forces” and “opponents” rather than enemies. According to Sun Tzu, hate or disrespect for your opposition actually makes YOU weak…not them.

starting overThinking of your inner resistance as your natural opposition to “over-controlling” or “over-pressuring” makes a lot more sense.  When someone doesn’t listen to you and just tries to order you around, you resist, right?

If you are not listening to the part of yourself that isn’t “READY” to do what you are telling it to do, naturally you will resist yourself.  Wouldn’t it be more effective to engage in a conversation with your resistance than to start a fight? 

When you are resisting doing something you think you “should” be doing, try asking yourself one of more of these questions that help you “agilize” potential solutions instead of fighting a war you can’t win.

– What would help me feel more “ready” to do this?
– What time of day might I more naturally be inclined to do this?
– What’ would make this feel easier?
– What is the really value of doing this?
– What will the impact be? in the short term?
– How little of this could I do and call it good enough?
– What assumptions am I making about when, where, how, how much, how long, with who, how perfect, how many?
– What could I redesign to make this more attractive?

Focusing on readiness to do things rather than “pushing” or coercing yourself is much more effective and satisfying in the long run. Try it a couple times.

See how your resistance changes when your creative brain kicks in. : )

http://www.artofwarsuntzu.com/SunTzuEBook.htm

 

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Agilizing is the new Prioritizing

Did you know that the word “Prioritize” was first used in 1972 as part of presidential election? Seriously, before the 70’s people primarily talked about clarifying what there “priorities” were.  It wasn’t until a wave of trendy time management books were published in the 70’s that the word became popular.

inner conflict-war-with selfPrioritizing means to sequence things in order of importance.  The trouble with over-using the word prioritizing is that people have forgotten that prioritizing is only ONE way to sequence things on your TO DO list.  And often, prioritizing is NOT the best way to organize your To Do List!

All priorities are important otherwise they wouldn’t be priorities.
Trying to prioritize tasks requires deciding which priority is more important than another.

MANY MANY people get stuck in procrastination because they have so much trouble deciding whether one thing is more important than another and RIGHTLY SO!

Many priorities are of equal importance, but the fact is you STILL have to sequence and decide what to do in any given moment.   : )

Other strategies to order your To Do list include Continue reading

Agile Self-Leadership – Think of the parts of yourself as an inner team you lead – not control

I find that when self-control is either not an option, or simply not working, thinking of myself as having an inner  team requiring agile self-leadership is extremely helpful in getting things done. My team members are:

1. Inner Visionary – The Imaginative Self and Inner Delegator

The part of me that thinks about what needs doing or what is possible, what could be, thinks ahead and sees so much potential.InnerTeam-agile-self-leadership

 

2. Inner Designer and Agilizer

The part of me that listens to the vision, and to all the other parts of me and designs strategies to manifest the vision.

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