Have you been watching the Olympic Games? I certainly hope so!!! Nothing can inspire as much as seeing human beings striving to do their best no matter the result or consequences. We are all Olympians/Paralympians when we strive to do our best and therefore we all have lessons to learn from these awesome people - todays lessons all start with the letter "D".
For some of us drive comes naturally, for others it is difficult to muster. BUT, we are all capable of cultivating drive, it's just a matter of developing techniques and habits that help. For Olympians and Paralympians drive seems natural. You see, Olympians and Paralympians all have one thing in common, they know how to set goals, and they know how to focus absolutely on achieving these goals - this focus is called drive. To develop drive you have to set yourself attainable goals and develop a reminder system of these goals. With reminders in force, drive develops, drive thrives, drive becomes second nature.
Dedication is closely related to Drive - the difference being that drive is a more internal aspect of goal achieving process. For me, determination is the physical act of the journey to a goal. It is the every step taken, every jump jumped, every lap swum. An Olympian and Paralympian has great dedication to their sport. They train day in and day out - "dedicated" to their sport in such a way that no matter the physical hardship of training they are prepared to do it. Are you prepared? Are you dedicated to your goals? To make the effort needed to do your best? Dedication combined with drive makes a killer combination to achieve.
Determination is the culmination of drive and dedication. Setting the goal (determining the result) and working for the result (resoluteness in purpose) exemplifies what determination means. All Olympians, Paralympians, and aspiring elite athletes have determination. They know what they want to achieve and they know what they have to do to reach their goals, and they are "determined" in their approach. Have you set out your goals and plotted the journey? Are you on your journey with a resolute attitude - "determined" to get the results you want? To carry your life with determination is to live with drive and dedication - be determined and your life can be what you want it to be.
We have much to learn from the Olympic attitude - many lessons that can be taken into all aspects of life. Watch, analyse, learn, apply, and succeed. I can cultivate drive, dedication, and determination in my life, can you?
Yes, I have a mentor . . . or two, or three - but one that is actually called, in all official capacity, my mentor. His name is Alan Stevens and I tell you now, he has been a great inspiration to me (and will continue to do so). You see, Alan has been in the business of public speaking for over 20 years, he knows the "ins and outs" and he has no qualms in sharing this knowledge with others. To have a mentor (or two or three) is to acknowledge that you only know what you know, and that to get ahead you have to constantly learn from those that have come before you. Alan has walked the track, knows the pitfalls and the successes and I am lucky that he is willing to share his bucket loads of knowledge with me and others. Do you have a mentor? If not, I highly recommend finding one asap - mentors = knowledge = growth.
So, what does insomnia have to do with mentors? Do mentors cause insomnia?
My mentor has caused me insomnia . . . but in a very, very good way. You see, a few weeks ago I was down in London for a speaking gig that was organised by Alan's lovely wife Heather. It would be the first time that Alan would see me speak and I was very nervous - but this wasn't what caused my insomnia! After I did my talk, Alan drove me back to Kings Cross Station and gave me some much needed feedback - both positive and critical. But he also gave me ideas, ideas on how I could improve my speaking range and one of these ideas has been the cause of my insomnia.
An Ideas Journal . . . an ideas journal has been keeping me awake at nights!! Perhaps it is residual from my swimming days, but I do have a very GOOD habit of visualising what I have to do - in this case speaking. I can be daydreaming, laying in bed, driving???!!! and I will be visualising a talk. How I speak, what I speak about, how the audience will react, how I will adapt to the audience, how I will incorporate "dramatics" (i.e., acting) into my talks. Anyway, since my talk with Alan I have been developing an Ideas journal and in this ideas journal I write down any quotes, snippets of conversations, events that happen, memories, or inspired epiphanies that leap into my thought processes. I seem to have developed a habit of having inspired epiphanies at night, just as I am about to pop off to the land of nod. So there I am, dragging my eyes open, grabbing my pen and paper (or iphone) and scribbling the thought down. Then, the idea that I scribble down triggers other thoughts that have to be recorded, and so on and so forth. Insomnia . . . mentors . . . inspired epiphanies!
I was born in the "Land Downunder" - yes, that sun soaked land of endless summers and extremely mild winters. My memories of Australian summers as a kid are filled with baking hot asphalt, "bombing" in the pool, and fresh, salty, hot chips under the carport. Life was so filled with enthusiasm and verve.
These past few days, in the hot, summery heat of northern England, I have been reminded of those childhood summers - the eternal optimism and "living in the moment." Perhaps we can learn from those heady child days, take that excitement, wonder, and contentment and apply it to our everyday life.
How do I intend to apply these lessons to my life? I am trying more to live in the moment, to take today and live it with contentment and joy. Realise that the moment is what it is, and whether it's "bombing" in the pool, relaxing at the park, writing a blog post, or talking to a large group of people about setting goals, it is a moment to be enjoyed and celebrated. Think positive, enjoy the summer sun, and draw energy from your good time memories - and then share, love, and care this moment with those around you (or yourself). Life can be very good peeps, very good indeed.
I put work aside today and took advantage of the gorgeous day to go for a drive to the Dales in Yorkshire. I don't often let go of work like this, but I think the occasional flight of fancy is good for your moral and your creativity - I have returned very inspired and ready to start tackling client lists, Logo design, and book writing. Went right up through to Malham and had a yummy lunch at the local pub and then went for a drive to Middleham and then back down through Ripon and finally back to Leeds. It was a great day and one I would like to repeat often . . .
Then I got home . . .
and there, waiting for me in my inbox was a rejection email from the BBC for the Presentable training program. I admit, my heart sank and disappointment dwelled heavy in my throat . . . but, only for a moment did these feelings overtake all other thoughts. You can't avoid feelings of disappointment, in fact it's perfectly natural to be disappointed when something you particularly want doesn't come through. We all set our hearts on things that we think will be good for us, great for us, take us in another direction, and when you don't get it, what do you do then?
Well, what do I do? I remember that it isn't the be all and end all of my world. I am not defined by the "wanted" thing and my career isn't over just because one particular element hasn't come good, in fact, I am more defined by the way that I deal with the moment and the emotion. So, instead of getting down I get up! I look at all the other things I have going and I focus on what is working and what is happening now. Just because the BBC placement train hasn't arrived doesn't mean I am not leaving the station on a better, more creative train on my own exciting journey.
So my message today is - make, get, take your own train; you are on your own journey and sometimes things may not come through for you, but you are more that just that one event, you are every possibility that you make, every creative step that you take. Don't get down, get up,
(image via norm_p)
As a swimmer I learnt the pretty obvious rule of - hard work and consistent training will give results. Of course this is true, in anything we do in life, whether it be sport, cooking, writing, speaking, etc. It make sense that the more you do an activity at a greater level the better at it your will get - this is what creates experts, specialists and professionals.
(image via Aerial Photography)
When I was a swimmer I would train the same time, every week, with a cycle of training sessions. Each session would focus on a particular aspect of swimming, whether that was a particular stroke, length, drill, style, or starts/turns/finishes. All of these aspects were then bought together in the racing, where each stroke, each turn, each kick was so ingrained in me that it seemed almost easy to race. Your body knew what it had to do.
When I speak now I notice that the more I do it the more it is becoming almost like second nature to me. Don't get me wrong, I get nerves (just like I did before a race), but they are productive nerves (productive nerves - another blog post?). I know, however, exactly what I am going to talk about, I know how I am going to stand, how I am going to interact with the audience, how I am going to open dialogue at the end of my talk. This all comes with practice, repetition, and consistency. Building up a consistent standard hones your skills, gives you the confidence that, each time you can nail that talk, nail that race, nail that recipe, article, photograph, etc.
Now don't get me wrong, consistency doesn't mean you can't change, or open yourself to growth. Nope, in fact consistency can allow you to see where you can improve, where you can alter and change things for the better - to create a new level of consistence.
Just know that being consistent means you are reliable, people know what they can expect from you, and you can be at your best. Be constantly good in every thing that you do and the effort will pay off. The results will come and you may even suprise yourself with what you can achieve.
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