don’t go to the ocean with a thimble…

Many years ago, I had bronchitis. It was one of the worst times of my life.

I remember asking my doctor how do asthmatics feel, how do people with pneumonia feel, because I was having such a terrible time breathing.

I thought about this yesterday when I felt gloomy and out of sorts. I couldn’t see to move past a sea of tears and thoughts of despair. I decided to sit with it. Not try to fight it.

How do people with severe depression feel, I wondered?

So many we’ve lost – Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Alexander Mc Queen…

Countless others that I did not know about, including Bhaiyyu Maharaj – a spiritual guru.

While navigating my doldrums, I felt (quite dramatically I thought in hindsight), I would NEVER come out of this!

It’s as the prophet Isaiah wrote, “We hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men” (Isaiah 59:9-10).

How do we find the light, that glimmer of hope, that it’s possible to cross over each chasm we face and emerge, ready to move forward?

We must vision and re-vision what’s possible.

Nature always provides insight.

I had cut the last of the celery stalks off this heart of celery and placed the off cut in a cup of water. I had no expectations. Two days later…growth.

It really doesn’t matter what has happened. The celery’s vision is fixed – to become more of what it is.

We are the same, but unlike the celery – we forget.

So it’s important for us to retain our vision.

In ‘Road to Riches’ by Napoleon Hill he talks about heading to the mountains to gather chestnuts. He took a gallon bucket to gather chestnuts, visualizing a gallon bucket full of chestnuts. He was prepared to bring back just one gallon and no more. When he got to the mountain he found bushels of chestnuts on the ground, but had to leave them there because he had not thought in larger numbers when he planned the trip.

Never limit what’s possible for you, even when you’re feeling doubt, uncertainty or a lack of self-confidence. Neither has anything to do with what you can achieve.

In his song ‘With Imagination (I’ll Get There), Harry Connick shares

I started with a dream
But came to a decision
I started with a dream
But now I have a mission
I have a goal
To see beyond my vision
With imagination
I'll get there.

I suspect that to control our thoughts when severely depressed, is difficult. This is a journey you cannot traverse alone. Doctors and therapists can provide the necessary guidance and support needed.

I was reminded today to re-read my vision. Remind myself why I am doing what I have chosen to do.

In the relative darkness of my kitchen, a shaft of sunlight covering the teacup filled with a cut stalk, new life blooms.

This alone provides hope.

Be encouraged.

We face locust attacks daily

I’m missing out on a lot of news.

I am not a newsmonger for starters, but between Donald Trump, Covid-19 and the revelation that underneath the “all ah we is one family” blanket, we as a people in Trinidad & Tobago have a closet full of race hatred, I have completely stopped looking at any of the local and International news channels.

On social media, I might recognize that more than 5 people are talking about something but still need to ask exactly what they are referring to.

It means I completely missed that there was a huge hurricane heading to Texas, where my bestie temporarily resides and only became aware when she sent me a text saying

“By the way I am fine. Hurricane did not hit here. Thanks for asking BESTIE!!”

I also missed the video circulating showing Jacob Blake being shot by police and as I sat to write this piece on locusts – that in January millions of locusts were wreaking havoc in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the worst locust attack seen in almost three decades. 

I have only read about locusts but got curious to actually see them in action when I saw this –

According to the UN body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the locust attack poses a threat to food security of the affected countries as an adult locust can eat a quantity equal to its weight of about 2 grams every single day. A single square kilometre of the swarm can contain somewhere between 4 to 8 crore adult locusts. Every single day, if they cover 130-150 km, they can eat the food consumed by as many as 35,000 people, it said.

And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten.

JOEL 2:25

Lost years could never be restored. We all live with regret. “Shoulds” we ought to have taken care of years ago. We watched time pass us by. The fruits of wasted years – the potential of what could be.

No amount of dwelling in the past, simmering in unforgiveness will restore what we lost.

The only place we can change anything is NOW – in this present moment. And we need to be mindful of the thoughts we think – “those locusts devouring our hopes and dreams.”

I remember Joel Osteen talking about this man who kept reliving the tragic death of his wife, by looking at the newspaper clippings of the tragedy daily. He lived in pain and torment bringing it into each new day.

You may have experienced unhappiness in a past relationship. Is it still making you unhappy?

You have a choice.

Will you continue to harbor feelings of resentment, of loss, thinking it was a complete waste of time? Will you let the years that this “relationship locust” ate continue to torment you and cause you unnecessary suffering now?

Or will you choose to learn from it and grow? To be wiser, perhaps more discerning? To understand your own shortcomings and perhaps chart a way forward for self-improvement?

The only way to change anything is to give new meaning to the experience. And as you augment the meaning to serve you favorably, your emotional state will also shift positively.

Change your past by changing your attitude towards it and watch as years lost to the “locusts of your mind” are restored unto you.

the oyster understanding

iStock

Oysters weren’t really in my head today, until I wished a two year old “Happy Birthday” on Facebook.

Ellie was sitting atop a table as if she were in charge with a firm handle on her two year old life.

“Congratulations!” I told Ellie. “The world is your oyster.”

For someone so young, with so much runway in front of her, I thought my salutation appropriate.

Then there was the word “oyster” again.

For some reason I selected ‘A House of My Own’ by Sandra Cisneros, from my library. A birthday gift in 2016 that I had not yet read.

There it was, in the middle of a blank page:

The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography – FEDERICO FELLINI

Whenever a word appears more than once in my day, I know I need to pay attention.

On page five of the introduction, Sandra went on…

Often I had to tell the story over and over till it felt complete. When this happened, it’s likely I couldn’t remember the “true” event anymore, but I could understand myself better. I think it’s like this for most people. We tell a story to survive a memory in much the same way the oyster survives an invading grain of sand. The pearl is the story of our lives, even if most wouldn’t admit it.

I sat with this for a bit.

So what exactly is it that the oyster does to survive an invading grain of sand?

In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk’s shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.

We tell and retell stories, each time, taking the sting out of the story, making it more palatable until we can present to the world “the pearl” we are finally comfortable with. It’s our augmented truth. It’s the way we can survive pain, tragedy and despair.

So what’s my takeaway today?

There is beauty in irritation.

Just shy of perfect are the really great, but slightly broken moments that make up a truly marvelous existence.

JOHN CARLTON

There are many grains of sand in Ellie’s future as I’m sure there will be in mine and yours. If we spend time trying to keep those irritant grains out of our oyster, we are going to expend a lot of energy playing defensive.

What if we didn’t resist?

Especially now, we need to do the best we can in a VERY unpredictable world.

Will the Real Entrepreneurs Please Stand Up!

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit’.

Who comes to mind? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg or Alan Sugar? Maybe Bill Gates or James Dyson?

If we were talking about entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago who would we select? Maybe Derek Chin, or Mario Sabga Aboud?

Continue reading “Will the Real Entrepreneurs Please Stand Up!”

It doesn’t matter your level of success…

No matter your level of success, if you encounter a challenge, the solution comes from asking the right questions, digging deep, being truthful and discovering what works for you.

Franchises have figured out operations and product – marketing is up to you.

You may take onboard a tried and true consultative approach but it’s still up to you to build real relationships.

There is always work. Nothing is ever “all figured out.”

joshua-hoehne-jAomkJlKwPI-unsplashSuccess in any business is found by solving solving solving the riddles served up – all the time! Your answers are not going to be found in any book, or doing a course.

It’s found inside you and you need to be prepared to deep dive for your answers. Sometimes when you think you’ve found the answer, that may be just the tip of the iceberg for you. You may have solved a part of a much larger, more pernicious disease operating in your business.

My point – less reliance on “the other”, “the guru”…

The skills we are going to need now and in the future are in the invisible realm:

  1. Alignment
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Curiosity
  4. Self-awareness
  5. Self-discipline and
  6. Opportunity discernment
 

There is Pain in the Present but will there be the Same Pain in Your Future?

You probably have realized this by now – you cannot “spin” your way out of a bad situation. You can’t just tell a better story about how things are, and then hope that life will take the shape of your thoughts. Life doesn’t work that way. I know many might think I’m flying in the face of the Law of Attraction but I’m not. I’m saying that words alone are useless if you simply aren’t telling the truth.

The first step in any crisis situation is to tell the truth – the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It’s important that you tell it all and it is equally important to tell it first!

Many business owners, both self-employed, and those with employees, are lying to themselves. This is not good.

Before Covid-19 many businesses were already in crisis. As Warren Buffet, (an American investor, business tycoon, and philanthropist), famously said:

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.”

Basically, Buffet was saying that things may look good and rosy up to a certain point, but if a company is leveraged too much expecting a wave to come, but instead the tide goes out, everything will be exposed.

Well the tide went out with the advent of Covid-19 although its effects felt more like a tidal wave hit the economy with a force many may not recover from.

What Covid-19 did was expose many of us to truths that we didn’t want to or chose not to confront earlier.

Buffet was also alluding to a much larger truth and that is – we have no control.

When I was much younger, I thought success was a destination. That you had to jump through hoops, scale hurdles but once you got to your success point, all your troubles will be over.

Today I’m more practical. Sh*t happens and not just to me – to EVERYONE!

You can take every precaution, prepare in every conceivable way, and despite all that, there will always be major setbacks and failures.

I’ve come to appreciate that life has cycles. There are both ups and downs. There no life on this big blue marble that has only positive things going on without the negative.

Adverse events aren’t obstacles to a “normal” life; they are a part of it.

The key to living with and through this Covid-19 crisis requires that you be flexible and open to new opportunities.

Many businesses have been forced to re-strategize, temporarily shut down or pivot offerings to stay afloat during these times.

There are many businesses that need to shut their doors permanently. I don’t say this lightly but the truth is that the longer you stay open the more likely you are going to bleed to debt, more debt probably, especially if alternative ways to operate are not immediately obvious to you. My suggestion if you find yourself in this situation is to ask for help. Don’t be scared of looking stupid or being vulnerable. You need emergency surgery and you need it fast. The longer you stay with your head buried in the sand, the more the effects of this virus will spread in your life. Now is not the time to pretend.

It’s like your health. If you ignore tell-tale signs long enough you will end up with a major health scare. Be wary of what you’re ignoring right now in your life and what it could cost you later.

Regardless of the crisis, there are always opportunities to learn and grow. But you will only see those opportunities if you have the right attitude. Now is not the time to struggle and try to swim upstream. It is not going to work. You can try but I guarantee you will be exhausted before you conquer life and where it needs you to be right now. Only when you surrender will you end up learning what YOU need to grow.

aaron-blanco-tejedor-VBe9zj-JHBs-unsplash

If your business is suffering right now because you had poor financial metrics, now is the perfect time for you to learn why you need them and why you need to look at them regularly.

  • Pain is par for the course. Not this Covid-19 course but your life course.
  • Pain with a purpose, direction, and destination is a growing pain. It is temporary.
  • Pain that’s completely pointless is suffering. Suffering can be perpetual.

When life gives you difficult circumstances, you can choose to grow from the pain and struggle through it, coming out on the other end with new learning, OR you can choose to continue suffering.

Covid-19 has not given us a choice about pain in the present; however, we do have a choice about whether we’re going to experience the same pain in the future.

Choose wisely.

If you’re waiting for normal to return, you’re courting disaster! Normal is never coming back so it’s best to learn How to Pivot in Turbulent Times. Send an email to possiblity2profit@gmail.com for you FREE e-guide

What’s your Hidden Opportunity?

When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves – Victor Frankl

What is it really going to take for you to succeed in this new economy?

Whatever rules you’ve been taught in the past don’t apply anymore.

EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED!

It’s adapt or die in this new economy and the first step is acceptance.

You cannot change what’s happening. You cannot WILL it to end quickly based on your desire for it to be over. You can resist it but eventually you will lose that battle. It is what it is.

Giselle IGNext you need to consider what’s your best “next step”. Not what anyone else is doing but what is YOUR best next step.

Look for a teacher or guide who can help you. Someone who understands growing in challenging times. Someone who has experience in rallying through previous economic upheavals in the past. If you can’t find an actual person, then search Google for stories and lessons you can learn with regard to growing in times like the one we face together right now.

Find teachers who don’t share your world view. The more uncomfortable you are, the more you will be challenged and the more you will be forced to clarify your thoughts and become a more effective thinker. 

This will also make you a less gullible researcher.

And please don’t choose based on fame, celebrity or glitter.

This is a monumental moment in the history of your life. You have a fabulous opportunity to engage your critical thinking skills, mine the gold within, and come forth with your own newly forged version of greatness!

What’s In a Name?

The short answer to that question: EVERYTHING!

Ask yourself: “If I did not have a name, how could I identify myself? If I had no name, who would I be?”

Your name is extremely important. Your name is your life! It is how you identify yourself. It is how others identify you.

Sometimes we don’t recognize the powerful influence of a name and what went into how we were named in the first place.

Nigel is Scandinavian for champion but additionally people named Nigel often have a deep inner desire for travel and adventure, and want to set their own pace in life without being governed by tradition.

5If you know Nigel J. Wall you will understand how well aligned he is with the meaning of his name.

He is an ultra-distance runner, cyclist, Ironman tri-athlete, kayaker, multi-sport athlete musician, leadership coach, facilitator, motivational speaker, author, photographer, glider pilot, boat captain and entrepreneur.

Very early on in his life’s journey Nigel was heavily influenced and inspired by his Grandfather Arthur, to do great things. Arthur wasn’t a talker either! He was an amazing architect, got involved in antique restoration, played golf and was an avid stamp collector.

Nigel remembers being intrigued as his grandfather went from hobby to hobby, interest to interest, with an overarching desire to be the best he could be. At 80 Arthur got his History degree and went on to write a book, two years later!

He was also guided by his father David who was the catalyst for him entering the Aerospace industry as a designer and analyst. David was also the person who introduced Nigel to long distance hiking and sailing so as a young lad, he hiked for over forty miles across the Yorkshire moors, learned to sail, and subsequently learned to fly.

Nigel was encouraged by these influencers not to look to routine, but instead to seek adventure.

When Nigel got to about 30-35 years old he realized that most of the people around him were living very limited lives compared to what he was doing even though at the time he didn’t consider his adventures “big stuff”. At 33 he was already a glider pilot and he didn’t know of anyone else who had done that in as short a time as he had.

In 2007 when he came back from his first ultra marathon in South Africa, where he’d run 56 miles in 9 hours 37 minutes he didn’t realize the magnitude of what he’d done until he returned to what he now called home, Trinidad and Tobago, having moved there from the United Kingdom, the country of his birth, in 2003.

The Trinidad Guardian did a 2 page interview, and he even got fan mail including one from world record holder Ato Boldon!

Nigel’s thought at the time was “that was pretty big what I did” yet he didn’t just think of it in the context of it being a huge achievement. Instead he examined what led him to do it in the first place.

“I had a strong, burning desire to do it, there was a process and I reasoned that if I followed the process and then took action, I would get what I was after.”

This was both an “aha moment” and turning point for this man of extreme action.

Looking back at some of the stuff he’d done, he realized that most people didn’t get to do that and so he decided to integrate his own “learning through experience” into his coaching and leadership programs.

A father of three, and Grandpa to five, he’s learning from his kids, grandkids and coachees. He began observing changes in the behaviour of those who interacted with him.  Several people left their jobs and started their own businesses; many became 5k runners or ran marathons including his daughter Anna. “Many people decided to become triathletes”, Wall said, “as they followed my lead, learned to swim, bought a bike and did it”.

Often he’d hear people say “it was because of you.”

Feeling better for it, he finally understood that this was “purpose” stuff – it was what brought him fulfilment – it was what he was destined to do.

Nigel is often ticked off by some things he might occasionally hear or read about on social media especially if he hears this encouragement: “Stick with it; it will work out in the end.”

No it won’t! If you keep doing what you’re doing, you won’t get different results. You must be prepared to do things differently or do different things.6

Nigel spends much of his days coaching others in the art of goal setting and personal success. He has however, had to develop the ability to sometimes say “no” to people who want his time but don’t necessarily deserve it. It frees him up to do things that are important to him.

This doesn’t mean that he says no to every request. Usually on a gut feel, Nigel would meet with professionals for a coffee, to answer questions or guide them through a process, where they arrive at their own answers.

He never, ever, ever GIVES advice.  “It’s not my job to give advice. It’s my job to get people to open their eyes and do the things most important to them.”

Nigel is first to admit, he’s not perfect, though many may put him on a pedestal because of his achievements.

He often has to wrestle with the monster called distraction and sometimes needs the guidance of his own coach, to keep him on track. Often a quick run in his neighbourhood clears his mind, and allows him to return to his project, refreshed and refocused. If he doesn’t have the time to go exercise, he revisits his goals and reminds himself why he’s doing what he’s doing.

Nigel is not above laughing at his own guilty pleasure. “I coach people to turn off the TV yet I find myself sometimes rushing home to watch Netflix,” he laughs. “It’s true” he says “but I usually do it after doing the stuff I need to do.”

If he could put up a billboard with any message it would be his signature “Live, Life, Now.”

When he was still in University, a one pound fifty, used book, changed his life. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach. It caused him to think about limitations. He went from a B and C student to being the second person in a class of a 100 to graduate with a first class honors Engineering degree.

That book caused him to shift from thinking that to graduate at the top of his class was impossible to thinking, “Why should I settle? I could do this.” He applied what he learned, worked hard and succeeded.

He encourages everyone to invest in themselves regardless of age. Nigel walks his talk of course, having recently invested $15,000 USD to learn from the infamous John C. Maxwell, the art of presenting, speaking effectively and influencing from the stage.

Nigel’s most recent adventure took him across the transatlantic, sailing into Cape Verde after six seven days at sea. “It can feel as if you’ve gone to hell and back after sailing for six to seven hundred nautical miles, not seeing land, hardly sleeping, with huge waves attacking. Heading to St. Lucia sailing for another 15 days after that experience was both ridiculous and sublime.”

Only when you’ve actually done something, do you ever get the lesson. The world is huge and there’s lots to see, but sometimes it can be scary as shit! “Being in that boat challenged me because there is no such thing as “routine” in a boat except for : I have to eat at these three times otherwise I’ll run out of energy; I need a bit of social time; I’ll sleep when I can, relax when I can….it changed my entire outlook of twenty-four hours.”

Nigel is adamant that he’s not just chasing stuff. He keeps challenging himself however and will probably never stop choosing daring adventurers over quietly desperate activities.

He encourages all of us to use him as a role model. See him for who he is – an ordinary guy, choosing to do different things, some more challenging than others.

When you think of the name Nigel J. Wall think that regardless of your age, you can live your life now. You don’t have to wait. It’s never too late for you to embrace the attitude of “Let’s do this!” and most of all live intentionally and ask yourself this one question right now: “What do you like most about what you’ve read about Nigel’s story and what are you going to do differently based on what you’ve learned”

**If you would like to share your story or know of someone whose story you think should be shared then send me an email here

How to reopen the economy: Do we optimize to save lives or save livelihoods?

In a very general sense, we all feel that this too shall pass. Yet unlike the dot com bubble burst in 2001, and the recession of 2008, Covid-19 has us facing one of the worst times in the history of our lives.

Many companies are trying to figure out what to do. Projects and campaigns are being put on hold or cancelled. Everyone is worried about their future, their jobs, their income; and what makes it worse is that unlike any other crisis faced before – people are dying.  This has left most of us feeling exceedingly uncomfortable as we worry about our kids, our food supplies, our recent loans, our families and most of all our own health.

I thought for some reason about the D.C. sniper attacks 18 years ago. Fear ruled as John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, brought Washington to a standstill over the course of 23 days in October of 2002, randomly killing people engaged in everyday activities such as pumping gas. Only a year earlier, the area had weathered the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, which killed 184.

We are all walking around with fear, not knowing if we would be singled out by the Covid-19 virus “sniper”. We all know we need to keep moving forward, yet this is all new so there is no previous pattern to follow or track record to rely upon.

There’s a big debate going on right now about when and how to reopen the economy. Do we optimize to save lives or save livelihoods?

I’m borrowing here, from the wisdom of Victor Cheng, a former McKinsey & Company management consultant, strategic planning consultant, public speaker, and author of several business books.

The far bigger issue is that we don’t have the data to make a well-informed decision.

Imagine for a minute that we had the ability to test every person in the Trinidad and Tobago to see if they have COVID-19. Imagine everyone takes a 5-minute test every 48 hours for two weeks.

In that time frame, we would be able to identify exactly who is contagious and who is not. With that accurate data, we could separate the contagious from the not contagious.

Thirty days later, the pandemic would be over for us and we would be able to save the maximum number of lives and livelihoods.

(To keep it that way, we would give the same series of tests for anyone entering the islands from another country.)

alexander-sinn-KgLtFCgfC28-unsplash

When you have really good data, you can make extremely effective decisions. You can understand the story and decide quite accurately, what should be done next.

When considering Covid-19, we have a data quality issue. It is very difficult to solve a problem if we cannot even quantify the magnitude of the problem.

That said – we are all dealing with a new experience and so we are all on a learning curve. We can only solve a problem if we first understand that we do have a problem. Then we can set about to solve it.

Many of us are panicking about money.

From a neurophysiological point of view, Dr Maria Nemeth tells us that when you’re anxious regarding money, your amygdala, the seat of fight, flight, or freeze, activates. It then hijacks your creative centers. As a result, it becomes impossible… or at least very difficult… to solve problems or be resilient when you are faced with challenges.

Now is a great time to go back to basics. First ask yourself: what business am I in? Or perhaps, what business do I need to be in, since the current model for my business is no longer working?  Next look at who you’re serving and what problems you’re going to be solving for those customers.  Rethink your web presence. If you don’t have a site, then now is a good time to get one. Check all social media site messaging, especially LinkedIn and ensure that you are communicating clearly so those who need you can find you.

And finally now is the time to persevere, once you’re still operating a viable business. Most people let their battles define them. They see failure as an indication of who they are. Mentally tough people let their perseverance define them. They see setback as an event. Uncertainty is to be expected. A setback is something that happens to a person, not who a person is. This attitude is what will help you through and past Covid-19. Even though we are all surrounded with not knowing, by death, and by seemingly insurmountable odds, our grit will see us through and we will emerge transformed amidst the new normal – victorious!

There is no Single Story

neal-e-johnson-oQC81OHcl4Q-unsplashEaster symbolizes rebirth…a process of dying to the old self and being reborn.

It’s a great time to re-examine our current state of being and then decide what we can continue doing, what needs to alter, what we can start doing and those things we absolutely need to stop.

It’s also a great time to let go of those things no longer working for us. The stories we repeat about how things are, the mantras we recite that are dead and empty…today is a great day for letting go.

A friend recently shared a Ted Talk by novelist Chimamanda Adichie who tells the story of how she found her authentic, cultural voice.

The message to me after I watched her absolutely entertaining delivery was that there is no single story.

Oh how I have tried, and didn’t consciously realize it up until now, to control the narrative of my own story. I spent years campaigning LOL as it were, wanting all and sundry to understand that I was a good person. This didn’t start in the last 4 years. I was a politician from age 5!

Can you even begin to see how exhausting this task was?

If I felt someone was for some reason, telling the wrong story or thinking the wrong story, I’d be in a tailspin. I’d set about talking to them until I felt they understood and agreed to my version.

Yet strangely, this brought me no peace.

There is no single story.

People will always share the version of what they see and how they feel.

I was zealously and fanatically trying to get control of hundreds of people ensuring that once they were talking about Giselle Patrice Hudson – that they got it right!

Ahhhh Easter! Thank you.

Today I draw back into myself all of that energy wasted attempting to control the narrative. I give up. I cannot.

Yet in the knowing, the releasing and the surrendering, I am lighter today and can rise in the true spirit of Easter.