Saturday, May 29, 2010

No Excuses -- Brian Tracy

Every-so-often I get review books. Some I really like (I know, everyone I bought copies of Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else can remember my thoughts on that book), others I give to other reviewers who sometimes can't believe their luck to get a copy of the book I thought was a step below trash. (True story about one book).

I liked No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy enough that I caught myself doing the hesitate and rewrite the review again.

There was once a kid whose artist parents believed in "free range" raising of their kids -- the one time the truant officer caught up with them they sold the kid into indentured servitude to a street magician for a year to get their pre-teen son out of going to school. When he was twelve, he and a neighbor kid taught themselves to read by breaking into a neighbor's house and stealing books (which they returned so as not to get caught) and then reading them as they herded goats.

When I knew him (as my client) he was almost thirty -- but he was starting to study engineering at Duke. His sister started from scratch, taught herself to read, went to college, and got an MBA at age 28.

There are people who start from nothing and create themselves.

Which brings me to a manual laborer named Brian Tracy, in a dead end job, no education, no skills, just hands and a back. Who woke up one day and rebuilt himself from scratch. Then, after a number of things (and making a lot of money) he wrote this book on how to rebuild yourself from scratch.

Most of those books are either too simple or too complex, and they are not "tangible" -- they don't connect the dots and the steps. This book does. Each chapter discusses and approaches a set of principles. Each chapter ends with checklists and action exercises. You can work through what he has to say a step at a time, a bite at a time (as a secretary of mine once said "I'm not doing this one day at a time, I'm doing this one hour at a time" -- and she found success in remaking her life).

What Rhadi Ferguson is to Judo and "chump repellent" (taking people from third class competitors to the Olympics -- so he is not hot air, but real results) Brian Tracy is to remaking your life.

The essay of his I posted, and the one below, are good, but they don't do the book justice.

I can recommend this book to a lot of people, though I'll probably end up buying more copies of it to give away. A down side to reviewing books (maybe I can get a credit from the guys who send me review copies towards buying more copies of them?).

The following is used with permission:

Building Your Network
By Brian Tracy,
Author of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline

We live in a society, and as a member of that society, it is likely that every change in your life is strongly influenced by other people in some way. The courses you take in school that shape your career are often at the instigation of a friend or counselor. The books you read, the tapes you listen to, and the seminars you attend are almost invariably the result of a suggestion from someone you respect.

The occupation you select, the job you take, and the key steps in your career are largely determined by the people you meet and talk to at those critical decision points in your life. In fact, at every crossroad in your life there is usually someone standing there pointing you in one direction or another.

According to the law of probabilities, the greater number of people you know who can help you at any given time, the more likely it is that you will know the right person at the right time and in the place to give you the help you need to move ahead more rapidly in your life. The more people you know, the more doors of opportunity will be open to you and the more sound advice you will get in making the important decisions that shape your life.

Dr. David McLelland of Harvard did a 25-year research study into the factors that contribute most to success. He found that, holding constant for age, education, occupation and opportunities, the single most important factor in career success is your "reference group." Your reference group is made up of the people with whom you habitually associate and identify. These are the people you live with, work with and interact with outside of your work. You identify with these people and consider yourself to be one of them. They consider you one of them as well.

When you develop a positive reference group, you begin to become a member of the in-crowd at your level of business. The starting point in this process is to develop a deliberate and systematic approach to networking throughout your career.

People like to do business with people they know. They like to socialize and interact with people with whom they are familiar. And they like to recommend people they trust. Fully 85% of the best jobs in America are filled as the result of a third party recommendation. The best networkers are never unemployed for very long.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they begin networking is scattering their time and energy indiscriminately and spending their time with people who can be of no help at all. Even if they attend organization meetings, they often end up associating with people who are neither particularly ambitious or well-connected.

When you network, you must be perfectly selfish. You want to become all you can over the course of your career. You want to rise as far as you can. Any success you could ever desire will require the active involvement and help of lots of other people. Your job is to focus your energies and attention on meeting the people who can help you and the only way you can do this is by staying away from the people who cannot help you at all.

When you network, your aim is to meet people who are going places in their lives. You want to meet people who are ahead of you in their careers and in their organizations. You want to meet people you can look up to with pride. You want to meet people who can be friends, guides and mentors. You want to think ahead and meet people who can help you move into your ideal future more readily. For this reason, you must sort people into categories: helpful vs. non-helpful, ambitious vs. non-ambitious, going somewhere vs. going nowhere. Remember, your choice of a reference group in your networking will determine the success of the process.

You begin your networking process at your place of work. Look around and identify the top people in your organization. Make these people your role models and pattern yourself after them. One of the best ways to start networking is to go to someone you admire and ask for his or her advice. Don't be a pest. Don't tie up several hours of their time. Initially you should ask for only a few minutes and you should have two or three specific questions. When you talk to a successful person, ask questions like, "What do you think is the most important quality or attribute that has contributed to your success?" and, "What one piece of advice would you give to someone like me who wants to be as successful as you some day?" You could also ask, "Can you recommend a particular book, tape, or training program that would help me move along more rapidly in my career?"

There is a law of incremental commitment in networking. It says that people become committed to helping you, or associating with you, little by little over time. In some cases the chemistry won't be right and the person with whom you would like to network will really not be interested in networking with you. Don't take this personally. People get into, or out of, networking for a thousand reasons. However, if there is good chemistry, if you like the person and the person likes you, be patient and bide your time. Don't rush or hurry, just let the networking relationship unfold without over-eagerness on your part. If you try to go too fast, you will scare people away.

Instead of asking your superiors for more money, ask for more responsibility. Tell your boss that you are determined to be extremely valuable to the organization and that you are willing to work extra hours in order to make a more important contribution.

There is nothing so impressive to a boss as an employee who continually volunteers for more responsibility. Many people have the unfortunate goal of doing as little as possible for as much money as possible. But not the winners. The winners realize that if all you do is what you're being paid for today, you can never be paid any more in the future. The person who continually volunteers for extra assignments and does more than is expected gains the respect, esteem and support of his or her boss.

Whenever you do something nice or helpful for others, they feel a sense of obligation. They feel like they owe you one. They have a deep subconscious need to pay you back until they no longer feel obligated to you. The more things you do for people without expectation of return, the more they feel obligated to help you when the time comes.

We have moved from the age of the go-getter to the age of the go-giver. A go-giver is a person who practices the law of sowing and reaping. He or she is always looking for opportunities to sow, knowing that reaping is not the result of chance. You will find that successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, "What's in it for me?"

The surprising thing is that the more of yourself you give away with no direct expectation of return, the more good things come back to you in the most unexpected ways. In fact, it seems that the help we get in life almost invariably comes from people whom we have not helped directly. Rather, it comes from others who have been influenced by people whom we have helped directly. Therefore, since you can't control where your help or assistance is coming from, you must establish a blanket policy of giving with complete confidence that it will come back to you in the most wonderful ways.

Whatever your job or occupation, there are trade and industry associations, business associations and service clubs that you can join. Excellent networkers are among the best known and most respected people in the community. To reach that status, they followed a simple formula. They carefully identified the clubs and associations whose members they can help and support and who can help and support them in return. And then they joined and participated.

When you look at the various organizations you should join, you should select no more than two or three. Target the ones with the people that can be the most helpful to you. When you join, your strategy should be to look at the various committees of the organization. Volunteer for the committee that engages in the activities that are most important to the organization, such as governmental affairs or fundraising. Then get fully involved in your chosen responsibilities.

You will find that the members of the key committees are usually key players in the business community as well. By joining the committee, you create an opportunity to interact with them in a completely voluntary and non-threatening way. You give them a chance to see what you can really do, outside the work environment. And you contribute to the committee as a peer, not as an employee or subordinate.

Remember, in any committee 20% of the people do 80% of the work. In any association, fully 80% of the members never volunteer for anything. All they do is attend the meetings and then go home. But this is not for you. You are determined to make your mark and you do this by jumping wholeheartedly into voluntary activities that move the association ahead. And the key people will be watching and evaluating you. The more favorable attention you attract, the more people will be willing to help you when you need them.

Networking fulfills one of your deepest subconscious needs -- getting to know people and being known by them. It fulfills your need for social interaction and for the establishing of friendly relationships. It broadens your perspective and opens doors of opportunities for you. It increases the number of people who know and respect you. It makes you feel more in control of your career. And it can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of your life.

© 2009 Brian Tracy, author of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline

Author Bio
Brian Tracy, author of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, was born in eastern Canada in 1944 and grew up in California. After dropping out of high school, he traveled and worked his way around the world, eventually visiting eighty countries on six continents. His extensive personal studies in business, sales, management, marketing, and economics enabled him to become the head of a $265 million company before he turned his attention to consulting, training, and personal development. He is now the president of three companies with operations worldwide. He is married, has four children, and lives in San Diego, California.

For more information, please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

Applied Behavioral Economics

Really neat stuff.

I'm doing a fair amount of reading on this topic in connection with ethics readings I'm doing.

More later.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Revisiting the Past, Pondering Made me think, especially reading the comments.

Again. Revisiting what was said there and the perspectives and thoughts I had six years ago in response to the article made me realize that there are still areas of life where I am unsettled.

Also made me think of my aunt Nike. My daughter Heather Nicole was named (in part) after her.

Guess that is how it should be. Thought and reflection.

Friday, May 21, 2010

No Excuses

It is terrible. I have this book I got a review copy of. I really like it and have drafted a review that I have not quite been able to finish. So I find myself thinking of excuses for not getting a review done of a book titled "No Excuses." I'll probably end up buying some copies to give away.

Until then, I have an article, used with permission:

Accessing Your Inner Guidance
By Brian Tracy,
Author of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline

You've heard of Murphy's Law, which says that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Well, there's another law, which says that left to themselves, things have a tendency to go from bad to worse. When something is making you unhappy, for any reason, the situation will tend to get worse rather than better. So avoid the temptation to engage in denial, to pretend that nothing is wrong, to wish and hope and pray that, whatever it is, it will go away and you won't have to do anything. The fact is that it probably will get worse before it gets better and that ultimately you will need to face the situation and do something about it.

There's an old saying that you can't solve a problem on the level that you meet it. This means that wrestling with a challenge is usually fruitless and frustrating. For example, if two people who are in a relationship together are constantly fighting and negotiating and looking for some way to resolve their difficulties, they're attempting to solve the problem on the wrong level. Dealing with the problem on a higher level, those people would ask the question, "In terms of being happy, is this the right relationship for us in the first place?" As soon as you begin to use happiness as your measure of rightness, you begin to see a situation entirely differently.

Many people work very hard and experience considerable frustration trying to do a particular job. However, in terms of their own happiness, the right answer might be to do something else, or to do what they're doing in a different place, or to do it with different people -- or all three.

Ask Yourself

Following are a few questions for you to answer in this arena of happiness. Many people refuse to even consider these questions because they're afraid that if they do, they won't like the answers. But nevertheless, have the courage to clearly define your life in your own terms. Here are the questions; write them down at the top of a sheet of paper, and then write as many answers to each one as you possibly can.

The first question is: "What would it take for me to be perfectly happy?" Write down every single thing that you can imagine would be in your life if you were perfectly happy at this very moment. Write down things such as health, happiness, prosperity, loving relationships, inner peace, travel, car, clothes, homes, money, and so on. Let your mind run freely. Imagine that you have no limitations at all. Write everything down whether or not you think you have the capacity to acquire it or achieve it in the short term. Your first job is always to be clear about what it would take for you to have your ideal life.

The second question is a little tougher. Write down at the top of a page this question: "In what situations in my life, and with whom, am I not perfectly happy?" Force yourself to think about every part of your day, from morning to night, and write down every element that makes you unhappy or dissatisfied in any way. Remember, proper diagnosis is half the cure. Identifying the problematic situations is the first step to resolving them.

The third question will give you some important guidelines. Write down at the top of a sheet of paper these words: "In looking over my life, where and when have I been the happiest? Where was I, with whom was I, and what was I doing?"

By asking and answering those three questions, you begin to delve deeper and deeper into yourself and your feelings. You begin to accept your own happiness as a legitimate standard by which to evaluate everyone and everything in your life. You begin to develop the wisdom, the courage, and the foresight to organize your life in such a way that you become a much happier person.

Once you have the answers to those questions, think about what you can do, starting immediately, to begin creating the kind of life that you dream of. It may take you a week, a month or a year, but that doesn't matter. Every single thing you do that moves you closer to your vision of happiness will be rewarding in itself. You'll become a more positive and optimistic person. You'll feel more confident and more in charge of your life.

Happy vs. Right

And now here's the most important exercise of all. It is from the advice of Dr. Gerald Jampolsky, who asks, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" He recommends that you set peace of mind as your highest goal and that you select and organize around it all your other goals in life. You hold up each part of your life to this standard of peace of mind, and you either get into or get out of anything that adds to it or detracts from it.

The most important part in this process of getting in touch with your feelings is to begin to practice solitude on a regular basis. Solitude is the most powerful activity in which you can engage. Men and women who practice it correctly and on a regular basis never fail to be amazed at the difference it makes in their lives.

Most people have never practiced solitude. Most people have never sat down quietly by themselves for any period of time in their entire lives. Most people are so busy being busy, doing something -- even watching television -- that it's highly unusual for them to simply sit, deliberately, and do nothing. But as Catherine Ponder points out, "Men and women begin to become great when they begin to take time quietly by themselves, when they begin to practice solitude." And here's the method you can use.

Method of Solitude

To get the full benefit of your periods of solitude, you must sit quietly for at least 30 to 60 minutes at a time. If you haven't done it before, it will take the first 25 minutes or so for you to stop fidgeting and moving around. You'll almost have to hold yourself physically in your seat. You'll have an almost irresistible desire to get up and do something. But you must persist.

Solitude requires that you sit quietly, perfectly still, back and head erect, eyes open, without cigarettes, candy, writing materials, music or any interruptions whatsoever for at least 30 minutes. An hour is better.

Become completely relaxed, and breathe deeply. Just let your mind flow. Don't deliberately try to think about anything. The harder you "don't try," the more powerfully it works. After 20 or 25 minutes, you'll begin to feel deeply relaxed. You'll begin to experience a flow of energy coming into your mind and body. You'll have a tremendous sense of well-being. At this point, you'll be ready to get the full benefit of these moments of contemplation.

The incredible thing about solitude is that if it is done correctly, it works just about 100 percent of the time. While you're sitting there, a stream, a river, of ideas will flow through your mind. You'll think about countless subjects in an uncontrolled stream of consciousness. Your job is just to relax and listen to your inner voice. At a certain stage during your period of solitude, the answers to the most pressing difficulties facing you will emerge quietly and clearly, like a boat putting in gently to the side of a lake. The answer that you seek will come to you so clearly and it will feel so perfect that you'll experience a deep sense of gratitude and contentment. You may get several answers in one period of quiet sitting. But in any case, you'll get the answer to the most important situation facing you every single time.

When you arise from this period of quiet, you must do exactly what has come to you. It may involve dealing with a human situation. It may involve starting something or quitting something. Whatever it is, when you follow the guidance that you received in solitude, it will turn out to be exactly the right thing to do. Everything will be OK. And it will usually work out far better than you could have imagined. Just try it and see.

That brings us to the final point on getting in touch with your feelings: You must learn to trust yourself. You must learn to take time to listen to your emotions and your feelings as to what makes you happy or unhappy, as to what feels right or wrong. You must absolutely trust that what is right for you is the right thing to do. You must never compromise on what your inner voice tells you to do. You must never go against what you feel to be correct. You must develop the habit of listening to yourself and then acting on the guidance you receive.

When you listen to yourself and act on what you hear inside, you are setting out on the road to personal greatness.

Read "Accessing Your Inner-Guidance Part One".

© 2010 Brian Tracy
, author of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline

Author Bio
Brian Tracy, author of No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, was born in eastern Canada in 1944 and grew up in California. After dropping out of high school, he traveled and worked his way around the world, eventually visiting eighty countries on six continents. His extensive personal studies in business, sales, management, marketing, and economics enabled him to become the head of a $265 million company before he turned his attention to consulting, training, and personal development. He is now the president of three companies with operations worldwide. He is married, has four children, and lives in San Diego, California.

For more information, please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A mother's day letter

From the letter from my oldest to her mother on Mother's Day:

I was just thinking about you and wanted to thank you for teaching me how to
raise a garden
patch dry wall
walk in high heels
vaccinate small animals
lay tile
remove a wall
wear makeup
listen to and help someone in pain
stand up for myself
work hard
and to succeed and fail with grace.
I couldn't ask for a better teacher or example.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dealing with painful emotions

It is not a matter of whether or not you “should” feel something. In severe grief you feel emotions you can not control, urges that are foreign. The pressure and pain of grief forces everything to be reconsidered, at a primal emotional level, regardless of what you want.

It is not a matter of what you feel, but what you do and what you linger on. Denial only makes it worse. Acceptance of your feelings is part of acceptance of life and of moving on from what you are feeling now to what you want to feel.

Your survival is not found in fighting or denying feelings. Honesty, not denial, acceptance and then surrender to God’s will – not surrender to the feelings – that moves you to healing.

You take inventory of yourself, accept reality and create a foundation of truth to build recovery. The pain, the emotions, assimilate with time and honesty. You can’t avoid the tempest, but you can survive through it to tomorrow. Just like you had these emotions and feelings before you knew what feelings were (everyone cycles at a very young age) and they passed as you grew, so that can happen again as an adult, if you let it happen.

I’m not sure this puts it right. Basically, the principals are: (a) in grief there are uncontrollable surges of emotion and feelings, often ones a person has outgrown, never felt, or that just don’t fit, because the force of grief subconciously causes you to cycle through everything trying to find a solution that works; (b) you can’t deal with them by denial, but you don’t have to embrace them; (c) instead you accept that you are feeling painfull or inappropriate emotions, don’t linger on them, and honestly work towards building recovery.

"Shoulds" are toxic. "What is" is only the past that creates a lesson learned, upon which recovery follows.

In my personal life I had a time when I wished I had spent more time on my career, more time focused on the office and writing. My work was still there, three of the children I had given my heart to had died. Was that painful? Of course. Was it appropriate? No, but it was what I felt. Only by accepting the pain and the reality of what I felt could I move forward (and back at the same time) to feeling that my children should come first, that family was more important than career.

There are lots of other examples, better than mine, from other people's lives. But that is my story.

Friday, May 07, 2010

On climate

Temperatures since the last ice age. From which the individual who did the graph concludes:

In other words, we’re pretty lucky to be here during this rare, warm period in climate history. But the broader lesson is, climate doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t even stand stay on the relatively constrained range of the last 10,000 years for more than about 10,000 years at a time.

Does this mean that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas? No.

Does it mean that it isn’t warming? No.

First analysis to make sense of both the global warming and global cooling materials I have read.

Bottom line, "In fact for the entire Holocene — the period over which, by some odd coincidence, humanity developed agriculture and civilization — the temperature has been higher than now, and the trend over the past 4000 years is a marked decline. From this perspective, it’s the LIA that was unusual, and the current warming trend simply represents a return to the mean. If it lasts"

I've wondered. The solutions I keep seeing for the current problems don't match the predictions. They are all "deck chairs on the Titanic" sorts of things.

That is the temperatures that include the medieval warm period -- note that the current rise is still well below those temperatures.

That doesn't mean that there are not potential problems, etc. It just puts them into a different scope. Read the article for the graphs and the fact summaries.

The loss of childhood

From Suzette Haden Elgin's Lonesome Node:

"A University of Michigan study found that from 1979 to 999, children on the whole lost 12 hours of free time a week, including eight hours of unstructured play and outdoor activities. . . .One consequence of these changes is the disappearance of what child-development experts call 'the culture of childhood'. This culture, which is to be found all over the world, was best documented in its English-language form by the British folklorists Peter and Iona Opie in the 1950s. They cataloged the songs, riddles, jibes and incantations ('step on a crack, break your mother's back') that were passed on by oral tradition. Games like marbles, hopscotch and hide and seek date back hundreds of years. The children of each generation adapted these games to their own circumstances. Yet this culture has disappeared almost overnight, and not just in America. For example, in the 1970s a Japanese photographer, Keiki Haginoya, undertook what was to be a lifelong project to compile a photo documentary of children's play on the streets of Tokyo. He gave up the project in 1996, noting that the spontaneous play and laughter that once filled the city's streets, alleys and vacant lots had utterly vanished."

There is no way for us to know what the effects on our society of a cultural change as extensive as this one might be. It's disconcerting. The article is at .