Dec 31, 2010

Integrity (part 2)

See part 1 below.

"willpower" will not get you far if

-physically you are not integrated because you are eating the wrong foods or wrong quantities or your sleep pattens are out of sync. "Proper" exercise which bears little resemblance to 99% of what is called such these days. All these will affect your hormonal environment which will in turn affect your energy levels and erode your commitment.

This is why your first "commitment" to integrity is based on this foundation.

A good foundation but still only start. Future blog on mental, emotional and spiritual/ohilosophical. All of them are needed in order to be "truly integrated".

On physical crucial first step: get to bed earlier in a cool dark room (dark as possible) and wake up at similar if not exact same time each day.

Dec 30, 2010


Integrity is the ability to make and keep commitments to yourself!!

Master this and you master much of your destiny!!


hint: developing this is far more than just a matter of willpower (whatever that is)

beating up on yourself for lack of said willpower is not productive.

Getting to work finding out what it to takes to develop integrity is far more productive and involves alignment physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Stay tuned.

Nov 13, 2010

Nov 13, Nautilus Pullover and what's the deal with attitude?

Well, finally, I'm posting again.... if you click on my title you will see the "one set" workout that I did today. In a future post, I will go into detail with my current workout strategy.... but for now....

Attitude.... positive? or something else.

When I first started this blog, I spoke about how much of what passes for "self-help" is often just repetiton of many age old platitudes. This is not to say that there is not some definite value to much of the material, but that there is very little original, and much of what there is, is superficial and overly simplistic.

One of those things is this whole idea of having a "positive attitude". Certainly, optimism can be vastly superior to being an eternal pessimist, but also it can be misconstrued as meaning that you have to always be happy and accepting of everything that comes your way. It also implies that this "attitude" comes out of thin air, in the sense that, one just decides to be "positive" because it seems to be self-evident that it is a better way to be, and that somehow great things will come to us as a result.

However, there are many who preach that we should have a positive attitude who may have an agenda as to some sort of advantage they wish to have over us, and they will use our "positive attitude" against us, by accusing us of being negative if we refuse to put up with their agenda.

A proper attitude isn't just something that we choose to have in a vacuum. A proper attitude is the result of having deliberately chosen certain values, principles and philosophies after having carefully considered alternatives, and having made that choice, are prepared to defend our values, with our lives if we must.

This type of attitude may not always come across as optimistic or "positive" or "nice" and in fact people who have the attitude that comes with havng the courage of their convictions, may come across to some as fighting against status quo's, suffocating bureaucracies and injustices. They may not always be appreciated, and frankly they don't really care.

Patrick Henry displayed this when he said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" The British didn't think he had a positive attitude.

Athletes and businesspeople who have what I call "fire in the belly" or even the "killer instinct" may not be poster children for "positive attitudes" but they are the ones who make things happen in the world.

Ted Nugent, exemplifies it, when he screams out at his concerts, "God Bless, the (expletive) attitude!"

Angus Young, at 5'2"" when he looks out at his audience, and does the famous Chuck Berry duckwalk, shows this attitude....(one of the reasons, AC/DC is one of the top grossing acts in the world.

While some people, will be offended by this attitude, nothing of any value was ever accomplished by anyone trying to please everyone.

Cary Mullen the Olympic skiing champion, talks about "lunging forward" on the hill and in life.

While being positive, can definitely be a part of the formula, people who have the proper sense of life, display an attitude that could be characterized by the statement "Life is short, I plan to make the most of it, and I will not put up with anyone interfering with my right to do so!"

So if you see things around you, that you feel are not correct, don't get duped into the idea that you have to put up with it, by displaying a "positive attitude". Speak out! But, and here is the qualifier... make sure you know what you're talking about! Don't misconstrue my message to mean that we should complain every time things don't go our way, especially if we haven't taken the time to know the facts, and even more importantly, taken the time to carefully choose what it is that we strongly believe in. Most people never do, taking the attitude, "who am I to know?" If we take that stance, then we have just renounced our right to stand up for anything. (since we don't know what it is that we believe in!)

John Cougar Mellencamp's lyrics say, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything!"

Once having done the internal work, that we all have the responsibility to do, that will allow us the courage of our convictions....(you must have convictions before you have courage!), then we have the right, indeed, the responsibility when we see injustices to, "raise a little hell!" (or a lot)

Nov 7, 2010

Workout on Nov. 7

Click on title to see video on youtube...

The plan was to do chins, dips and "stiff" legged deadlift. Goal is to do one big compound pulling, one big compound pushing and one compound lower body movement as part of a weekly "big 3".... (see for more detail).... The technique attempted for upper body was a 90 second, 30 down, 30 up and 30 down. As you will see I came very close with chins but was short with dips but finised with a couple of partial negatives. For lower body, accent was on hamstrings and lower back... even though the exercise is named "stiff legged" deadlift, I do it with knees unlocked and at a slow smooth speed for greater safety. It is also done with a trap bar and 45 lb plates, so range of motion is limited... 20 reps with 132.5 lbs. Failure is defined as when form starts to suffer. Deadlifts of all types are arguable the most effective full body workout you can get both for stimulating muscle mass and getting your heart and lungs going at an incredible rate.

Will be posting more often soon!!!

Oct 8, 2010

The Art of Balance

You can call it balance, or time management, prioritizing or what have you.... but in the end, it is not easy. Of course, there is some irony in that I've actually found myself getting obsessive about being balanced.
Is being "extremely balanced" an oxymoron?
Part of it requires being focused, and by that, I believe that few people, certainly not me, can juggle the various parts of their life by "going with the flow"... it requires planning and also progress tracking, the latter being another way of saying journalling. Everyone has heard the cliche, "if you don't have a destination than any port will do" to speak of the importance of goals and planning, but also, if you don't look back as well as monitor where you are now, you can't tell whether you're getting closer to your goal or not.
All this, of course, will be resisted by many as losing the spontaneity of life, and in fact, that is why part of my mission statement, refers to "focusing AND having fun", (in order to avoid being obsessive about being balanced)
The other risk, I believe is to allow one's self to become stressed because, inevitable interruptions ("Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon)seem to make it impossible to even start on some of the priorities that you have painstakingly established for yourself. Those are times where I have to remind myself, that I am accomplishing things, just not the ones I originally set out to do, and perhaps some of these may be even more important. But then again, perhaps they are only distractions from what is truly important and the "art" is knowing when to guiltlessly abandon your plan, and when to exercise self discipline in sticking to your guns.
All of these involve an ongoing evaluation of what is truly important, and being true to the values and principles that you've established, and commitments that you've made. After all, most things "work if you work them" by which I mean to say, if you make a commitment, do not let things distract you, but remember, "easy does it" should also mean, make commitments very carefully and ensure you can keep them.
Three principles that have served me well, Reason, Purpose and Self-Esteem can be used as compasses to always check one's actions and direction. To hold reason as an absolute, means that you refuse to engage in any type of rationalization. Remembering your ultimate purpose, always reminds you of what your true priortities are. (I am assuming that a person has taken the time to identify what that is for them specifically, but in a general sense, your purpose is to have a happy life.) Self-esteem reminds you that you deserve to be happy, and that working to that end is right and should not create any conflicts in your mind.
Being happy means juggling, family, health, finances, creativity, personal growth etc. Not easy, but worth it, and hey, I will never get it perfect, but I will have fun getting closer and closer!!!

Aug 12, 2010

Five observations from today... (or just random rambling)

1. Sleep is the most important factor in overall health, above nutrition, above exercise, because even if you're doing great with the latter two, sleep deprivation will undo that good, and may even make them detrimental. Exercise without rest will eventually kill you. Also sleep regulates neurotransmitters which have an extremely powerful effect on mood, so all the positive thinking in the world won't do you much good if you're sleep deprived.
2. Purpose rocks! When you have something that excites you, the day flies by!
3. Communication first and foremost involves the willingness to not judge people solely by their actions, but taking the time to find out what their intent is. (and what they may be struggling with at the time.) If someone takes an action with bad intent, they deserve to be judged, if someone makes an error of judgement with good intentions, it can be forgiven... but you have to take the time to find out which it is, before you judge.
4. Referring to 3., if someone seems to behave irrationally, see 1. Sleep deprivation is often the cause of that as well. (note most "chemical imbalances" cited for causes of depression, bipolar etc. are neurotransmitters that get regulated during proper sleep, and which psychiatrists try to artificially bring back into balance using drugs.) Sometimes, we just need a good nap. :o)
5. Sleep deprivation or bad judgement, note, still don't justify bad behaviour, but they make it more understandable, and that knowledge can be a tremendous first step to correcting.

Oh and my grandson's cute eh? (that's at birth, he is now 21 months old! :o)

Aug 5, 2010

Honesty.... what is it really?

Most people would probably say that they already know the answer to this question.

It would certainly seem to be self-evident. People will speak of not lying, cheating or stealing, and of course, that would be hard to argue with.

However, on a deeper level, I would suggest that honesty means "loyalty to the facts" and that means that we are honest, most of all with ourselves. It has been said that, of all the people we can fool, the easiest is ourselves.

Many times, facing stark reality can appear to be quite daunting. We will minimize our shortcomings, for example, so we can feel better about ourselves, (and also because it saves us from doing anything about them.)

We will rationalize and justify those behaviours that deep down we know we should change.

In the end, though, this behaviour may seem advantageous, and arguably it is comforting, in the short run, but the price to pay in the long term is very high.

Once formed, the habit of evading reality, can lead us to disaster, including, but not restricted to, losing touch with the distinction between reality and illusion as well as a total loss of self-esteem.

People will speak of the need to develop acceptance, when it comes to reality, and I would agree that this is a great first step. Of course, people always say acceptance is the first step towards change. However, I would suggest that we want to go further, to realizing that reality is our greatest friend and ally, and the quicker we deal with it head on, the greater the odds of a favorable outcome, so I will sugggest, not "accepting" but "cherishing" reality. The good stuff is awesome, but the scary stuff is all sources for personal growth so bring it on!

Alternatively, avoiding dealing with reality will only make things far worse in the long run, and that is why one of my very favorite quotes...(I may have used this in a previous entry) is "I'm not brave enough to be a coward!" (Ayn Rand)

Heroes live Life on Life's Terms!

Jul 26, 2010

The Harder I Work, the "Luckier" I Get!

Two books I would highly recommend, The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Both books for me had a similar message: there is a lot more luck, or randomness, if you will, to life and "apparent" success than we would like to admit. This was quite challenging to me at first.

Like many of us, I really bought into the idea of the "self-made person" who "succeeds" because of following some given formula for "success" and happiness.

Both books show that many "successes" or "outliers" can be shown to have, in many cases been in the right place at the right time. That is not to say that these people did not work very hard or not deserve their success, but rather, that many others worked just as hard or harder, were just as talented or more so, but simply did not become household names with their respective level of success. They may have achieved very significant results nonetheless, or in some cases not at all, but those who became household names, the Bill Gates', Michael Jordan's, or Wayne Gretzky's had in many cases many circumstances that worked in their favor.

You would have to read the forementioned books to truly appreciate my point, but for one quick example, consider that Bill Gates happened to go to a high school in the late sixties that actually had computers, and just happened to have a teacher that allowed him access to these computers with his own key 24 hours a day. Without taking away the fact that he spent literally thousands of hours on them, others may have as well, but simply did not have the opportunity. Very few high schools had computers in the sixties.

Taleb refers to Black Swans, (unpredictable events that change the world, or, on a smaller scale, change an individual's life) some of which are bad (9-11, World credit crisis) and some of which are good (Google), and points out that a strategy for living in a world of randomness and in which there is far more that we don't know than what we do know, involves a couple of simple instructions.

First off "insure" against bad Black Swans, which is interesting, because as a financial advisor, it struck me that with insurance I am in the "bad Black Swan" business. After all, most people who purchase insurance don't believe they will ever need it, or tragically, most people who don't purchase it.

Secondly he suggests we should try to "get in the way" of as many "good Black Swans" as possible. What does he mean by that? Get out of the house! Meet new people, make new connections. The next person you meet may change your life completely... if not them, then the person you meet through them, or the person you meet through the person you met through them. Maybe today, or maybe in 10 years from now!

This is why I named this entry, "The Harder I Work, the "Luckier" I Get". I used to think of this saying as a mockery of the concept of luck, but after having read these books, I believe it may be literally true.

I've heard it said, "Activity, even the right type of activity will not guarantee success, but success is impossible without it!"

Please note that above I used the term "apparent" success, and I put the word "success" in quotations. The reason for that is that I believe the actual goal of living a Heroic life, is not the actual "success" that it brings as in how we may surpass others in a given field, or how much money we make (both of which are worthwile goals to have) but to be truly HAPPY.

Leading a Heroic life greatly increases the "odds" of achieving "outer" success, but no guarantees on that, however, here is the really great part in all this:

If you live a Heroic life, you will be happy regardless of any actual outcome, simply in the knowledge that you've done your best, because what you will achieve, regardless of circumstances, is your own personal growth which is truly life's greatest reward.

The person who relies on outer evidence of success for their self-esteem is left with nothing if they ever lose those things.

The person whose self-esteem is based on their own knowledge of their adherence to their carefully chosen values and principles, enjoys all the "rewards of success" they may earn, but even in their absence remains whole and intact and most importantly happy!

So can all of us become multi-millionaires and achieve every goal we set for ourselves. Sorry to all the people selling self-help advice who may claim this, but, no, there are no guarantees.

But can all of us lead truly happy lives? You bet! (get it luck... betting...)

Best of LUCK to all reading this and as far as work, I always love the quote: "It Works if you Work it, so Work it, You're Worth it!"

Jul 24, 2010

Travellin' Man!

I'm off in a few days for a new adventure. After 5 wonderful years in Moncton, New Brunswick, my career is now taking me to Ottawa, Ontario.
While this is a terrific opportunity, and the people I've met there so far seem great, as I am now just days from actually driving away, the reality of what I'm leaving is becoming extremely clear and a little scary.
My time in Moncton has been truly amazing. I had my greatest career successes, made some true friendships, had and recovered from major surgery and also competed and placed in bodybuilding contests! And this only a partial list.
I have much to be truly grateful for, mainly for the fact that in my middle age, my life continues to improve!
Now, I take off for a new adventure, and while it is exciting, it is also daunting in leaving the familiar for the new and untried; it is also sad, in that I am leaving people that I love, and, although I know we will keep in touch, there is no denying the nature of our relationship will change. In short, Lorraine and I are beginning a new chapter in our lives. ("The Continuing Adventures of Rick and Lorraine!")
Years ago, I learned that it is important to continually remind myself to "Do my very best, just for today." This has served me well so far. No one knows what their future holds, and there are no guarantees in life, but I have always found comfort in the knowledge that whatever challenge or reward I encounter, the answer is always the same, "do your best just for today"....
This has prevented me from wasting time pondering, "what will I do, if "blank" doesn't work out?.... or what if "blank" goes wrong?... because the answer is always the same: "do your best just for today".
The title of this entry is from the song by Bob Seiger, and the lyric that reminded me of how grateful I am to have experienced what I am leaving now, and what I've left behind with other moves, is
"Those are the memories that make me a wealthy soul"

I'm a very lucky man.

Jul 19, 2010

I'm back!

I have been delinquent in blogging and am getting back to routine as of today.... Recently found out that I'm relocating to Ottawa, and life has been chaotic, but... enough with excuses... will be striving to blog more often but shorter.... Three things today that came to mind:

1. Seek first to understand, THEN seek to be understood.

2. Align myself with cherishing reality, so that I may be aware of, and profit from all aspects of reality, especially those golden opportunities that could be disguised as problems or hardships.

3. I'm a creature of habit, and I need routine, or I am in danger of losing focus.

"Seek first...." I messed up today, didn't know all the facts, filled in the blanks and lunged out at someone verbally, only to find out that person needed support, not criticism. I should have known better. Now I have some amends to make....

"....golden opportunities that could be disguised as problems or hardships...." I realize in the last week, of trying to juggle my job from two different areas, selling and buying a home and helping out at home while my wife recovers from achilles tendon surgery, that I am capable of far more than I was honest with myself about. I wasted a lot of time, especially in the morning..... this is extremely valuable insight that will serve me... thank goodness for challenges!

"... I NEED routine...." I simply can't just go "with the flow"... I have to continually create accountabilities for myself, and I suspect, I'm not alone.... daily inventory of my actions to see if they are aligned with my values, mission and goals is indispensable! (example of reminding myself, one more time, of things I already know, but sometimes allow myself to lose sight of...

Best to all in your HEROic exploits!

May 9, 2010

What is a HERO and .... Are HEROES happy?

Webster defines a hero as,

1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage.

When I speak of being the HERO of YOUR life, am I using the term in the same sense as above?

Essentially, yes.... let me take the definition one part at a time;

"Mythological or legendary figure" might imply that a hero has been created as in literature or folklore or that exploits have grown over time as the legend grows. The literal precision of the description of such a character or his (use of male pronoun from here on or in any of my writings implies both genders, but leaving in male to make writing/reading less tedious) is besides the point that the reason myths and legends endure of heroes, is because they exemplify the best that man can and should be, and that we all, deep down, aspire to be. Whether we have the courage to do so openly and purposely is another matter.

"Often of divine descent". My spiritual convictions are of a very secular nature, however, I do believe that for man to even perceive of a supreme being, is very revealing of his own true nature in striving to reach for the highest possible value. My only distinction would be that man is reaching for this highest possible value WITHIN himself, rather than OUTSIDE of himself.

"Endowed with great strength or ability". Whether we are referring actual physical strength, strength of character; ability as in developed skill or ability to act with consistency to one's principles, these are obvious traits of HEROES. My book will deal with the best methods to develop each of these.

"An illusttrious warrior". The nature of life, survival and happiness is such that all values are accomplished by overcoming adversity or challenge. As such, the term "warrior" is certainly apt.

"A man admired for his achivements and his noble qualities". While this is true, one point to make is that the admiration of others is never a hero's main or even important motivation, except if in a leadership role, because this will be an important aspect of having others wish to follow a vision that he considers worthy for all concerned. In fact, in many cases, the very essence of heroism is to act with integrity despite being ridiculed, and attacked for doing so.

"One that shows great courage". Courage is, as cited above, an essential element of being a hero, because, tragically, the proper philosophy of reason, purpose and self-esteem is rarely understood and even more rarely practiced. This leaves the hero to "swim upstream" in most cases.

To the second query in this post's title, Are HEROES happy? .... When I speak of reason, purpose and self-esteem, I do so in the following context:

Reason: The hero recognizes that the full use of his reasoning mind, which is his tool of survival and happiness means that he accepts reason as his only absolute.

Purpose: He also accepts that his highest purpose is his own happiness. Because his means to this end is reason, he fully realizes that he can never achieve true happiness through any type of fraud or exploitation of others.

Self-Esteem: His purpose in achieving his own happiness can only be possible with a self-esteem that assures him that he truly deserves this happiness.

In fact, heroes choose, very early on, to love life and they choose happiness as their natural state. Even when faced with hardships or challenges, any pain they feel does not disturb this basic view of life. Howard Roark, the main character in Ayn Rand's novel, The Fountainhead, when asked how he is able to deal with personal losses he is continuously subjected to in the story, responds, "it only hurts to a certain level" (paraphrased from memory). When asked by Ellsworth Toohey, who has been the cause of many of his setbacks, to honestly tell him what he thinks of him, he responds, "but I don't think of you".

A hero does not see pain as an essential element of life, but rather a temporary annoyance in an otherwise joyous existence, that joy being the result of his consistent application of logical principles.

So, summarizing: HEROES ARE happy by definition.... the idea of a self-sacrificial hero, living some sort of miserable existence as though his misery made him more virtuous is a contradiction in terms.

Being the HERO of YOUR life is the means AND the end to living on earth!

Stay tuned for next entry which will deal with acknowledging the full challenge of obstacles to doing so, and why underestimating these by thinking that one can overcome them through sheer willpower rather than through the proper application of reason in knowing how to properly deal with each one is one of the main reasons why people fail in their quests.

I would also like to acknoweldge my debt to the philosophy of Ayn Rand in the ideas expressed above and highly recommend all of her writings.

Apr 17, 2010

What is Financial Planning really about, Alfie?

There have been countless books and articles written about this topic.

What I'd like to talk about today, is what is the ultimate purpose of financial planning, (and the ultimate obstacle). Financial Planning are buzzwords in themselves, so why not just say, what is the ultimate purpose of (and obstacle to) achieving financial security?

Some may say that the purpose is self-evident, and to some degree it is, however, as with many goals in life, they are not ends in themselves but simply means to ultimate ends.

As we spend our short time on this planet, the ultimate goal is to be happy, period! While some will argue about the need to make a difference, or to create empires or find cures for cancer, or produce great works of art, in the end, all those are simply means to the ultimate end of living a happy life.

It is not politically correct to admit to having selfish ends, and some argue that goals are more worthy if they have selfless ends. That argument, however, is so easily disproved as to make it laughable; because if helping others with "no regard for yourself" makes you happy, then you've defeated the argument. Helping others, (or any other goal) would have to actually make you unhappy to be truly "selfless".

Unless you believe the goal of life is to suffer (some people do!) than I think you'll see the obvious fallacy of reaching for "selfless goals."

So achieving financial security is simply another of many stepping stones, albeit a crucial one, to achieving our happiness. Financial security simply means to be self sufficient, and not need to rely on others for our survival! And that brings not only happiness but dignity.

Some will argue that family, health and ethics are more important than money. The problem with these arguments is that they represent false dichotomies. In other words, it's not 'either/or' its both! To provide for your family requires money. The biggest cause of divorce today is financial stress. One of the biggest causes of health problems is stress, and a major cause of stress for people is financial worries. Health care, of course, costs money! Ethical considerations will show that whenever people compromise these, they will rationalize and justify doing so, because of the need to provide for their families financially. Happiness is achieved when all aspects of life are in balance and money which is simply a way to measure our individual productivity plays a part in all of them.

How do we achieve financial security? Well first and foremost, we must be productive in some way, shape or form. Each of us has some talent or skill which uniquely endows us to produce some value that other people are willing to pay for with the money they have earned by producing a value with their own unique talents or skills. Once we produce the value, then managing it is next. (I acknowledge that some people may be born with physical or mental limitations to this, but they are very rare, particularly in our modern age of technology where almost everyone can contribute; for the unfortunate minority who cannot, they are the responsibility of their parents, and will also benefit from the volitional aid of compassionate individuals)

The three threats to personal financial security can be summarized simply in the following: dying too soon, living too long, or becoming ill or injured somewhere along the way. One or more of those events will be part of every human being's existence.

Additional risks include loss of property through fire, natural phenomenon or theft.

Dying too soon results in someone's productivity being cut short, as well as the resultant income. If no provisions have been made through insurance for this, that person's dependents or life partners will be seriously impacted. In fact, our earning power, is our largest asset. Many people will think of young people starting out, as having no significant assets, but it is at that point in our life when our future earning power is greatest.

Living too long, is a matter of outliving our savings. When a person retires from productive endeavours, if they so choose, then again, income stops. If adequate savings have not been accumulated, then that person will be forced to continue working beyond the age they had hoped to stop, and quite possibly in failing health, often contributing to a reduced life span or see themselves dependent on the charity of others in their final years. None of these outcomes are conducive to living a happy life.

Unforeseen illness and/or accidents can limit or terminate a person's ability to be productive, and again, if no insurance is in place for this, the result is that any accumulated assets will need to be used for bare necessities and will not be available for their stated purpose. (usually to provide for the eventuality of living too long stated above). Not only will those assets be squandered to replace lost income but also in the attempt to finance the additional medical costs that are invariably associated with these events. This loss of assets will lead to the same misery outlined in the last paragraph, which no one wants.

I also mentioned the loss of assets through fire, natural phenomenon or theft and again, failure to insure against these losses can also result in major impediments to financial security.

Now, none of what I've mentioned above will be new to many people, but what may be new, is "keeping it simple". So much of what is written about financial planning dwells on whether mutual funds are better investments than stocks for example or what type of insurance is better than another. These topics have some validity however, I will suggest that they are to financial planning what the choice of colors or options are to the proper choice in purchasing an automobile. These are generally the small details!

Most people who fail to achive financial security don't fail to do so, because of these details. (this is a generalization that admittedly has exceptions, but is true far more often then not, I assure you.)

Most people who fail to achieve financial security are defeated by the very same enemy which prevents most of us from living full, happy lives in virtually every aspect of our lives and that enemy is PROCRASTINATION.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it is a sign of intelligence to think LONG TERM. I did have a comment from a reader that some people believe in "living in the moment" or "one day at a time" in an attempt to show that my statement was not necessarily true for everyone. The fact is that, living "in the moment" does not, in any way, contradict the concept of humans thinking long term. Animals live in the range of the moment, because they do not have the mental capacity to evaluate future consequences of future actions (or inaction), but humans have this capacity and need to use it. (or suffer the consequences) Living a happy life requires in fact, that we are grateful for and enjoy the present, but also that we plan for the future.

It is a topic for another post, as to why, in fact, procrastination is so common, and whether or not people "should" not do this; for now, I would suggest simply that it is a fact, that it is extemely common, not only for financial planning but health choices and in relationships and the consequences are serious in all aspects of life.

This is the main reason that people use "coaches"; other people who will make them accountable and save them from their own tendency to procrastinate or not to give their best effort.

Ironically, the people who are the most self-disciplined, and are less guilty of this then most, are most likely to recognize that they still haven't mastered procrastination, and who will actually seek out coaches to "push them" just a little harder than they are already pushing themselves. Witness that world class athletes virtually always have coaches.

Tragically, many of us, who are less disciplined and actually have a greater need for this, resist very strongly someone "telling us what to do" and avoid what we need the most.

In the field of financial planning, that "coach" is the financial advisor, who, while educating us to the proper choices in the "details" mentioned above, most importantly helps us to avoid the procrastination that is the true obstacle to our reaching the financial security that will give us happiness and dignity we all seek.

As such, good financial advisors contribute significantly to people achieving happiness and dignity and avoiding misery which is the alternative. Many people are extremely grateful to their advisors for helping them to reach their goals and consider their partnership with this individual to be critical to themselves and their families.

The fact is that procrastination is so common that the vast majority of life insurance and retirement savings programs are the direct result of an advisor "selling" someone on the idea of putting these prgrams in place sooner rater than later. (avoiding procrastination)

Knowing this, one would think that advisors would be in high demand. They are in fact, in extremely high demand by financial services firms like Sun Life with which I am associated, because these firms appreciate people's tendencies to procrastinate and realize that consumers will not, in the majority of cases, purchase our products of their own initiative, and so they need advisors to show people a "sense of urgency" in planning for the future.

Because of this same procrastination habit, advisors also face, from their prospective clients, on a daily basis, rejection! The very people who have the greatest need are the ones most prone to procrastination. Successful advisors are able to deal with this and in so doing, provide a great value to their clients, thus maximizing their personal productivity through exchanging value for value.

That is why in a recent post, I referred to advisors as heroes, and talked about our financial centre's vision of HEROES, CHANGING LIVES FOREVER!

Thanks for reading..... The title of this has a link to my personal web page including video testimonials of people who have chose this great career!

Apr 4, 2010

Salespeople, Leaders, Parents, Coaches, HEROES!

The first four terms above have many commonalities. For example, they are buzzwords that are frequently used. Secondly, there are no shortage of books, courses and presenters aimed at teaching people how to be better at all of the above. As such, there are no shortage of "experts" in each field to whom we are to look for direction in each area.

One of the things, however, I noticed some time back, is that in many if not most of the material on these topics, you could simply substitute either of the words, "salsperson, leader, parent or coach" and the material would still make perfect sense.

This made me realize that, in fact, they are all referring to the same thing using different terminology! Interestingly, each term has varying levels of prestige associated with it. Being a leader for example, sounds a lot cooler than being a salesperson, and yet, if you look at what either one accomplishes when done properly, you will see that it is virtually identical. (as would be the case with coaching or parenting)

Another disctinction that I've made in my life, is that, virtually all of us, already know, at least in principle, many (most?) of the things that we need to do in order to lead successful, happy lives. Our challenge is generally not ignorance, it is procrastination!

Leaders/Salespeople/coaches/parents roles are simply to get us to do the things we already know we should be doing but are putting off till later!! (OK, in the case of parenting of small children, there will obviously be a factor of education as well.)

This is accomplished through various methods including inspiration, motivation, making people accountable, values clarification and role modelling.

The latter, role modelling, is one of the most powerful; we all know the saying, "lead by example"... and in previous posts, I've talked about "the greatest gift one human being can give to another is the sight of an achievement". Seeing someone role model, the "ideal man", the "hero", opens up the possibility for us to do the same, and helps release us from the self created bonds that are at the root of the procrastination habit.

That is why I suggest a better term for all of the above: HEROES! (my blog is called this for a reason!)

Ayn Rand's quote, " My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.", summarizes everything I am trying to say better than I ever could.

With that, I will end by making a shameless plug for my efforts in recruiting "Heroes, Changing Lives Forever" (the mission statement for my Financial Centre.

This blog entry is a perfect description for the type of men and women Sun Life pays me to find, in order to be make available to them the career opportunity involved in the very noble activity of helping people reach financial security by helping them "to do the things they already know they should be doing but are putting off."

It is a given that the more intelligent a creature is, the more long term is their perception of reality. Animals live in the range of the moment, as unfortunately some people seem to as well, but wise men and women look to the present and the future, having both short and long term goals, and it is difficult to think of a more noble activity then helping those people to reach the financial goals that will change not only their lives, but those of generations to come.

All those interested in finding out more should go to

If you are reading this from another province, just go to and if from another country, look into many of the fine financial institutions in your country who may be offering a career opportunity that has been called by many in our industry, as "one of the best kept secret opportunities anywhere."

Apr 1, 2010

Sleep: even more important than you think!

or click on title

Mar 27, 2010

Running make you Ill?

Title is link to good article. Comments are especially interesting.

Mar 26, 2010

Earth Day?

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform." Mark Twain

follow the link that this blog title "Earth Day" leads you to.

Mar 18, 2010

Why we shouldn't eat Wheat!

Check this great article out... click on title.... or

Feb 27, 2010

He who is good with a hammer thinks that everything is a nail!!

As I write this blog, in preparation for an upcoming book... (presumably of the same name... "Being the Hero of Your Life"), I've struggled with the fact that my subject matter is so diverse, and whether not I should focus on a narrower scope.
However, upon greater reflection, I believe that the way to achieve "being the hero of your lfe" (meaning achieving your personal best, with the ultimate goal being to achieve happiness which I believe is our ultimate purpose on this earth), must be multi faceted,
There are, of course, no shortage of people offering an endless variety of "success formulas", many of whom are simply spouting platitudes and repeating the same old messages from countless self-help books written in the last several decades.
Admittedly, many of these people, do in fact offer some useful information, however, it is most often biased by their particular field of expertise or personal experience. (he who is good with a hammer thinks that everything is a nail!)
While the motivational speaker will talk about the power of positive thinking, the member of the clergy will expound on spirituality and the philosopher will talk about having a proper grasp of reasoning and reality. (I'm kind of partial to the latter).
The athlete will sing the praises of physical fitness, the recovering addict will promote the 12 steps and abstinence while the dietitian or nutritionist will speak of proper diet as being critical. And there is considerable evidence in my opinion that proper sleep and alignment with circadian rhythms have a considerable effect on virtually everything in our lives. Of course, the psychologist and/or psychiatrist will speak to their field and the physician will talk about health care.
In the end, I think I have a unique perspective in that I am not an "expert" in any particular field, and I have come to the conclusion, that while all these forementioned contributors have something to offer, it's not a matter of them being wrong or right but being incomplete because of their personal biases and myopic perspective.
I'm not claiming ot have it all figured out just yet. I continue to make additional distinctions, and believe I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
I remain confident however, that the distinctions I have made thus far in my life, will present an original and more importantly, effective approach to achieving happiness, both because of the diversity of sources, and because of revolutionary (I believe this not to be hype) ideas in many of the areas that will be discussed in the book.
As I had hoped, as I write more entries in the blog, my final vision for the book continues to be clearer all the time.
Thanks for reading....

Feb 19, 2010

Leadership in Dance, Business and Life

Recently, I heard someone say that a leader's job is to take responsibility for solutions. Often, when there is a problem or challenge, there is a tendency to look to who caused that problem.

However, unless that particular information will form part of the solution, the energy spent assigning blame is a complete waste at best, or actually contributes to delaying the solution or even compounding the original problem.

This made perfect sense to me, but then it occured to me that this applies not just to business organizations or non profit organizations which is the context this particular speaker was referring to, but many other things as well.

In fact, as my wife and I engage in ballroom dancing, I could see the parralel in that, being a strong lead as part of a dance couple was a perfect application of these same principles. From that, I realized that ballroom dancing is an amazing opportunity to learn and apply leadership principles that will carry over into all aspects of my life.

The thing about dancing is that the feedback as to whether you're an effective leader or not is instantaneous and blatantly obvious. (if you take responsibility) When your role in business or as a parent for example demands leadership, your effectiveness in that role, or lack thereof, may not become obvious until you have the benefit of hindsight to evaluate your results. In fact, when the results are less than optimal, it is even easy with the deceptive perspective of significant time passed, to rationalize that the lack of results was justified. (Of all the people you can fool, it is easiest to fool yourself!)

Now, in dancing, I have often seen couples, and I must admit, I've been guilty of this more often than I would like to admit, stopped on the floor, debating which of them is making a mistake. (I've actually seen people storm off the floor!)

This, in fact, as with levying blame in business.... serves no purpose and only makes things worse.

The leader doesn't care whose fault it is, he simply takes responsibility for the solution. If I'm leading, (and I maintain this proper frame of mind), if the dance isn't smooth, it's my job to correct it. Now some of you may suggest that I'm taking more than my share of responsiblity as perhaps my wife is the one who has made the mistake.

I would respond to this in two ways..... first, I would say that, that information, regardless of whether it is true or not, is totally besides the point I'm trying to make. Secondly, those who know a little about ballroom dancing (especially the women) will know that, in fact, if my lead is "perfect", my partner's role becomes relatively easy; actually, it will be more difficult for her to make a mistake then to do it right. To do it wrong would require that she go against my lead to do it incorrectly which will feel very unnatural and forced to her. Conversely, when my lead falls short, the result is not neutral for her, it is an added challenge over and above her just knowing her steps, and just as she would have to resist a good lead to do it wrong, she now has to compensate for my errant leadership when my lead is weak in order to get it right. (almost impossible)

You see, one way or another, I'm always leading her in some direction... that is either in the right or wrong direction, never a neutral one. A leader is always helping or hurting... food for thought.

"Leadership would be easy if it weren't for people!"; "They're so irrational and difficult to deal with!". You may have heard these complaints, only half in jest.

When a musician makes a mistake, he doesn't blame his instrument.... it is an inanimate object.... alternatively, dealing with people is a greater challenge because they are far less predictable, (perhaps however, not as much as most people think.)

Learning to play a musical instrument is, in many ways, far easier than learning how to lead in dance. A friend of mine once told me, "my guitar is always in the mood".

But leadership is not about leading inanimate objects, it's about leading people with all their wonderful diversity of moods and motivations, and, in dancing, the person you are dealing with is right in front of you, and it is a wonderful opportunity (sometimes very humbling) to see just how good you really are with people. (as much or more than how good you are at dancing.)

If you tell your dance partner when something goes wrong, "my fault, I think I can get it better this time.", more often than not, she will say, "no, I think I messed up there, too." Your willingness to take responsibility will bring out her willingness to at least share it. I think you can guess what reaction assigning blame will create. (especially if you happen to be married to your dance partner.)

So, if, as a manager of the Financial Center with Sun Life, I get frustrated with my advisors for not behaving in the way I think they should be, I have to realize that as a leader, their behaviour is a mirror of my own shortcomings as a leader and I have to take responsibility for improvement. As a father, when I catch myself criticizing my adult children's behaviour, if I truly consider myself as a leader/father, then I better be careful in that department as well!

Certainly human beings have free will, and I'm not suggesting that one take on sole responsibility for everyone else's actions but.... as a leader, I will do my best not to waste time on assigning blame, but to look within when it comes to finding the solution.

A bumber sticker that reads "Dancing is Life"... might be closer to the truth than we might, at first think.

Thanks for reading!

Feb 12, 2010

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Sure Do Figure

One of the cardinal rules of management is "What gets measured, gets done!"

There is a lot of validity to this statement, and, in fact, keeping good records is very important. Measuring progress allows us to evaluate what is working better for our desired objective and what may actually be detrimental. Without proper measurement, people can fool themselves by being busy instead of being effective.

However like many things, even measurement itself can be abused, and in fact can become counterproductive.

I debated whether to name this entry as I have, or something along the lines of "Don't confuse measurement with reality."

By becoming overly concerned with achieving a certain measurement of progress, we can start to manipulate the measuring itself, in order to convince ourselves that our progress is greater than what it actually is. When I state that "liars sure do figure", I would state that in many cses, they start by lying to themselves.

Let me give you some examples.

Success is often measured by financial gain. Financial gain, is in fact, a valid measure of a person's progress in a chosen endeavour, however, if that individual, gets caught up in the measure, in this case, financial gain, then they can start to compromise their integrity in order to achieve the measure, and in so doing, be complete failures. That is obviously the case, if someone achieves wealth through dishonest methods, even though they may have achieved the "measure", their loss of perspective has changed them to someone they would never have started out to become.

Progress in an exercise program is often measured by performance of a certain physical feat, such as lifting a certain weight a certain number of times. This would indicate an increase in strength, logically. However, again, if the person gets caught up in the measure, they can start to compromise the integrity of the form used in the given movement, using momentum, loose form, or "cheating" methods in order to achieve the "feat". In so doing, a best case scenario is the person simply deluding themselves and as a result using ineffective methods to achieve this "false progress". In the worst case scenario, the person, using too much weight unsafely, suffers a serious injury, that delibitates them, and, as with the financial gain example becomes a complete failure in what they originally set out to accomplish.

Finally, in the corporate world, where companies are publicly traded, success is measured by quarterly earnings and balance sheets. We have already seen the headlines where "creative accounting" has caused many scandals and contributed to world economic turmoil.

In the end, there is cause and effect. Again, Ayn Rand, stated that people fool themselves by attempting to reverse cause and effect. In the examples above, people think, if they can get the effect (measure), it will give them the cause (in the examples above, personal worth, strength, or a solid company).

We have to make sure that we use measurement properly, as a tool to facilitate success, and not as a delusion that can have the reverse effect.

In managing a financial centre, for Sun Life, I must remain continually vigilant to ensure that the many measures we use to evaluate progress, are kept in the right perspective in order to ensure that we manage with the utmost integrity, in order to provide rewarding careers for our people enabling them to help change their clients' lives forever which is the true measure of success in our field.

Thanks for reading!

Jan 31, 2010

The Gift of The Sight of An Achievement (in defense of Tiger Wood's accomplishments and others)

Ayn Rand said the greatest gift one human can give another is the sight of an achievement. That is one of my favorite quotes of hers. When one person shows us what is possible, he or she clears the path for the rest of us, if you will, provides us inspiration and helps us to believe in what we can do personally.

One of the things we tend to do to people who give us that gift, unfortunately, is to put them on a pedestal and assume that their achievement in this particular area of their life somehow obligates them to meet that standard in all they do, so they don't disappoint us.

We are then the ones responsible for setting ourselves up for that disappointment when this person doesn't live up to expectations that we have created for them. However, we don't take that responsibility but instead forget the gratitude we had for the incredible gift they gave us in the first place while we are busy pointing the finger.

I believe that achievements stand on their own as entities separate from those who achieved them. They are a testament to what is possible when certain principles are followed by human beings, and how when some one's efforts are well aligned with their passions, something incredibly powerful is unleashed. Finding our own particular passions and aligning our best efforts with these passions, is what helps unleash our true potential and as such is quite possibly THE experience that makes life worth living. That is why, in my opinion, we are so inspired by other's accomplishments, because we can see how fully they are truly living, and the best part of us wants that same experience more than anything else. (which is why the sight of an achievement is the greatest gift)

George Martin, spoke of the Beatles' music as being "bigger than they were". (that is the quote that gave me the idea for this blog.) The Beatles' were kids really, who got involved with drugs, had (in my opinion) naive political views and wound up breaking up over petty immaturity's and jealousies. (actually, considering what they were exposed to in terms of fame, adulation, riches etc. at such a young age, quite understandable, and pretty amazing actually that they stayed together as long as they did.)

Tiger Woods' current headlines speak of his fall from heights, and this blog is not meant to comment in any way on his extramarital behaviour. The point I'm trying to make, in fact, is that it is wholly besides the point. I don't seek to judge him; I don't know him, in fact I don't even want to speak of him, but of his accomplishments as quite possibly the greatest golfer that ever lived. (Incidentally, I'm not even a golf fan)

Whatever, his current behaviour, it does not change what he accomplished as a golfer and the gift that he has given us, in showing us a level of excellence previously unmatched. He, as a person, I don't care to discuss, however his accomplishment in and of itself, remains an incredible gift for which I will always be grateful.

The best within us is inspired by the accomplishments of others to reach for.... well, the best within us.

That part of us that seeks to tear those people down when they fail to live up to some standard we've set for them, (which is their job, not ours) is something lower within us, that seeks to justify and rationalize our failures by bringing others down rather than to seek to bring ourselves higher.

Let's focus on the best!

Jan 5, 2010

Will's Wisdom

This guy is cool... pure and simple.... I may not agree with every last thing he believes, but I love that he knows exactly what he believes and is willing to die for it.... Very cool!!!