Provision #250: Get Motivated For Life

Laser Provision


This Provision summarizes and concludes our series on motivation. How can we sustain our motivation over the long haul? How can we enhance the quality of our lives? In this issue we highlight all ten strategies in easy-to-understand, easy-to-adopt, laser-like fashion.

LifeTrek Provision


As you read this, I will be on my way to Rome, Italy and Nicosia, Cyprus. That’s why Provisions is coming out three days early. The next issue will come out on Monday, April 1 (no fooling) and the lead article will be written by Christina Ray of the LifeTrek coaching staff.

Christina, who has a background in HR and whose coach training comes from the Coach Training Institute, will be offering the first of our free monthly teleclasses, specifically designed for the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. I won’t spoil her subject by announcing it ahead of time • but I’m sure many of you will want to sign up for the class. There will be three one-hour telephone conference-call type sessions during the month of April.

For this issue I want to recap the series on motivation that we have been following since the start of the year. Doing so assists me to see where we’ve come and what we’ve learned. The process of writing Provisions is a fascinating one. I do not have every issue of every series planned out ahead of time. If you had asked me at the start of this series, “What are the ten ways to stay motivated for life?” I could not have told you. I discover them as I go through the process of identifying a topic, researching the material, and writing out my thoughts. Before you know it, the series is over.

Sometimes I don’t know what the focus will be until the night before the issue comes out. Take last week as an example. I had to decide upon the tenth way to stay motivated for life and I was having trouble. So I took some books to bed, read a few chapters, thought for a while, and went to sleep. When I woke up, the Provision was there. In one hour, I had most of it written. It was actually very exciting; the process moved me forward in my thinking. Provisions are gifts. I’m not sure where they come from. I’m just glad they come.

Since the start of this series, Ten Ways to Get Motivated for Life, I have enjoyed the double meaning of the title. The title implies both that there are ways to sustain motivation over the long haul and that there are ways to enhance life through motivation. A day without motivation is a day without life. We may not die physically, but when the fire goes out in our belly there’s not much reason to live. Motivation makes life come alive and changes everything for the better.

So how did we suggest that we get and stay motivated for life? Here are the ten ways, from start to finish:

1. Trip Over Your Dreams. I started out the series by encouraging you to modify your environment in order to support your motivation. Want to ride your bike every day? Put it in the front hall (don’t hide it in the basement). Want to lose weight? Donate your food to a food pantry and start over (with just the right amount and types of food in your house). Make your environment work for you (not the other way around).

2. Stop Trying. This Provision was counterintuitive. Want to get motivated? Stop trying. Either do it, or give it up. The experience of mentally trying to do something without actually doing it depletes one’s confidence, energy, and resolve. Embracing what you are actually doing as that which you are motivated to do can get you into the swing of life.

3. Have Fun. This Provision was obvious. It’s motivating to have fun. So identify the things you enjoy and do them regularly. The care and feeding of what some call your “inner child,” the playful part of yourself, can make a huge difference in how you get through the day.

4. Share the Joy. Most people have more fun • and more motivation • when they connect with others. There’s nothing more motivating than knowing that people are waiting for you to go for a run or work on a project. Get connected with people who have similar interests, commitments, or values. Build your relational networks. The motivation will follow.

5. Experiment. People have an inherent desire to learn. We are learning machines. When we stop learning we stop living and we lose motivation. One great way to learn is to treat your life as a science experiment. You don’t have to know the outcome before your conduct the experiment. Make a guess, test it, and see what comes in the laboratory of life.

6. Reframe the Problem. One reason that we lose motivation is that we get overwhelmed and discouraged by the enormity and nature of our problems. It’s possible, however, to reframe those problems as exciting challenges or manageable projects. We get new motivation when we reframe the problem.

7. Get Good Feedback. Good feedback is timely and welcome. It is not negative and judgmental. It does not irritate or nag. It gives us the information we need, when we need it, in a form we can receive. To stay motivated for life, eliminate the feedback loops in your life that do more harm than good.

8. Face the Music. Having just said that good feedback is timely and welcome, it’s also true that sometimes people have to face hard truths, and even hit bottom, before they get motivated to change. It’s hard to go through such disillusionment, but sometimes there’s no better way to get motivated than to face the music about ourselves.

9. Write it Down. It’s amazing how motivating it can be to write things down. Committing your needs, wants, and values to writing can propel you forward. It can make fuzzy things clear and ordinary things exciting. Whether you publish a weekly newsletter or keep a personal journal, writing is important to life.

10. Express Your Values. There’s nothing worse than for your life to be out of sync with your values. It saps the life out of life. Other animals have needs and wants. Only humans have values. Values can motivate people like nothing else can. When values are clear and specific, motivation will not be far behind.

These ten strategies are definitely Provisions for the trek of life. The next time you feel your motivation flagging, take out this list to see what you’re missing. Pick one and practice it for a week. Before you know it, your motivation will have returned and your life will be better.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I just downloaded your site to my Palm today and am “catching up” on the last five articles. I am a gadget hack. So it was easy to go buy a pedometer this evening; and I will use it to do my walking tonight. I will also put on my Walkman and listen to my favorite classical music. Thanks for reminding me of the motivating effect of my gadgets and that I can wrap that AND my health “chores” into one enjoyable experience!


Sorry to unsubscribe. You have some good information it’s just too long.


I have to unsubscribe but I will sign up again. Thank you for your wonderful service


How could you describe the actions of September 11 as reflecting values? They were despicable acts of no value. (Ed. Note: Values can be positive or negative. One person’s value is another person’s crime. I do not accept the acts of September 11 as positive. They were horrible. I do accept the acts as motivated by the values (rather than the needs and wants) of the perpetrators.)


I especially like your Wellness Pathways. I am enjoying drinking red tea and taking flax seed. However, your tip to “Breathe Deeply” is in exact contradiction of what is stated in the book, “Breathing Free” by Teresa Hale. She states that overbreathing (taking deep breaths and taking in too much oxygen) causes high blood pressure. I have been doing the breathing exercises (shallow breathing and holding my breath after exhaling) described in her book for a month or so. My blood pressure has gone down from an average of 144/75 to 138/72. Her results are documented at her clinic in England as well as a similar clinic in Australia. It is based on the discovery of Professor Konstantin Buteyko and more than forty-five years of practical and empirical research in Russia. (Ed. Note: There is some debate here. For the results of a blind randomized controlled trial, see http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/xmas98/bowler/bowler.html.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #249: Express Your Values

Laser Provision


There’s no greater motivation than expressing your core values. When that happens, life has meaning, direction, and purpose. There’s no question as to whether you want to get out of bed in the morning. You are, as they say, “on a mission from God.” So get clear about your values and get going. This Provision tells you how.

LifeTrek Provision


Now I understand why Steve Chandler entitled his book on motivation, “100 Ways To Motivate Yourself.” We’ve come to our tenth and final installment on Ten Ways To Stay Motivated For Life • and ten is just not enough. There’s so much more to say. But having to pick just one more, I want to focus on what may be the most motivating factor of all: our values.

I said at the outset of this series that motivation arises from at least three sources: our needs, wants, and values. It’s not hard to understand how needs work. Hunger motivates us to look for and eat food. Cold motivates us to look for and find shelter. Pretty basic stuff. We don’t have to work hard to find this motivation. It simply comes upon us, from our primitive, reptilian brain.

Our wants work pretty much the same way. They arise either as impulses or goals, depending upon whether they accommodate immediate or delayed gratification. Marketing professionals know all about this. Consumer products focus on impulse buying. Immediate gratification. Where do you want to go today? See. Want Now. Buy. Financial and dating services focus on strategic buying. Delayed gratification. Where do you want to go tomorrow? See. Want Later. Buy. These too simply come upon us, but from our limbic, mammalian brain.

When we enter the world of values, however, the landscape begins to change. Instead of welling up from within, either naturally or in response to stimulation, values introduce us to the world of choice, morality, self-actualization, and transcendence. They lie at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy and they distinguish us from other creatures. Needs and wants are a dime a dozen. Values are uniquely human, coming from our neo-cortex or “thinking cap.”

Perhaps that’s why we have such a hard time understanding and expressing our values. They don’t well up from within, in quite the same way, as do our needs and wants. They are also not quite as universal. The conflicts in our world today make this abundantly clear. What can we say about the sanctity of human life? Is it never to be violated (pacifism)? Is it to be violated reluctantly (just war)? Or is it to be violated actively (holy war)? Enquiring minds want to know.

All three positions represent values. All three positions can motivate the most dramatic and sacrificial of acts. That’s the power of values. Needs and wants will come and go, all on their own. If you have hunger pangs, and if you don’t find food, the hunger pangs will dissipate • usually in about ten minutes. If you are lonely, and you don’t find a partner, the loneliness will dissipate • usually in about three days. Both will eventually return, of course, until, once again, they pass. So the cycle goes.

But when it comes to values, if you either do nothing about them or if you violate them, there arises a more profound and sustained form of cognitive dissonance. You have the lingering sense of not being true to yourself and you can actually lose your passion for living. Values have the ability to take us to tremendous heights and depths. They can be the most motivating and demotivating of human attributes.

What are your values? Unfortunately, most people only have a vague and generic understanding of their values. When asked, they may come up with honesty, fairness, or compassion (to mention only three). But they never do the work to get clear and specific about their values. What does honesty look like? How does fairness play out? With whom do I choose to suffer?

It’s not until we express our values, in clear and specific ways, that we get really motivated by them. Otherwise they just sit on the shelf, gathering dust. But when we identify clear and specific strategies that express our true values, they suddenly have the power to give life meaning, direction, and focus. That’s what got people to fly airplanes into buildings on September 11. That’s also what gets people to hold vigils in front of abortion clinics and defense installations, to stay up all night with sick children, or to take a week of vacation in humanitarian service. They are motivated not by their needs and wants, but by their values.

Perhaps that’s part of what keeps us from acting on our values. We see their power to motivate both demonic and heroic action. Most people do not see themselves as either demons or heroes. They are content to just go to work, do their job, come home, raise a family, and go to bed.

But every once in a while, over the course of a lifetime, there are occasions when people get tired of the same-old, same-old. A life based on needs and wants is fine for alligators and apes, but passion • as someone once said • is the sign of God with us. It answers the questions of why we are here and where we are going. It may, in fact, be the principal gift of our earthly, human lives.

So stop making excuses as to why your life seems empty and void. Focusing on your values will turn things around. There are a myriad of values: beliefs and activities in which people have an emotional investment. Choose one as your theme for the year. Then, design what Coach U calls a “Values Expression Project.” Finally, reorient your life around that value in concrete, visible, and unambiguous ways.

Some people find this thought, of reorienting their life for a year around a core value, to be incredibly intimidating. “I can’t do that,” they say, “that would be too selfish.” Or, “If I were to do that, I would have to change my life a lot.” Or, “What would other people think?” Or, “Who’s going to pay the bills?”

But once you get past your objections and finally get started, perhaps with the assistance of a coach, life will begin to look very different indeed. Instead of drab and dreary beige, life will take on the rich hues of light and dark colors. There will be the proverbial “thrill of victory and agony of defeat.” You will be larger than you are now. You will be motivated by your values • and there’s no greater motivation than that.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thanks much for adding me to your newsletter distribution list and the free coaching session! Very kind.


I have to unsubscribe, but I’ll sign up again! Thanks for a wonderful service.


My company recently discovered the value of “coaching.”


Congratulations !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on the marketing of your e-Books. I’m very glad for you!


Thanks for the emphasis on writing • glad to hear yours is going so well! On the sleep research, isn’t there a fairly broad range of what different people need, some 9+ hours, some 4-? (Ed. Note: 6-7 hours is quite well established as a baseline for all people. Those who think they need less are usually working on adrenaline.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #248: Write it Down

Laser Provision


To stay motivated for life, sometimes you just have to write things down. The process of writing things down clarifies your thinking, keeps you on track, and moves you forward. This works for individuals as well as groups. The next time you’re feeling stuck, take out your pencil or keyboard and start writing.

LifeTrek Provision


This past week I had two motivating experiences, and they both involved writing things down. They also involved sharing the joy, which was the fourth Provision in our current series on Ten Ways to Stay Motivated for Life (See the archive on the Web for past issues). There’s nothing better than getting excited about something with friends and then committing that excitement to writing.

Allow me to tell you the stories. Last week in the bulletin board section of LifeTrek Provisions I mentioned that I had written a book entitled “Flesh and Spirit: A Holistic Approach to Losing Weight and Living Well.” I also mentioned that I would be marketing it as an e-Book. Several of you wrote to ask where you could buy a copy. The only problem: I had not yet found a distributor.

One reader and friend immediately took up the cause. I sent him the book and he converted it to the standard DOC format for the Palm Operating System. He then sent it back and pointed me in the direction of several outlets. Within 24 hours, the e-Book was available for purchase from Handango. 

It was very motivating and great fun to pull that together so quickly. At one point my friend was chatting on line while my family was looking over my shoulder. We would write down and submit one version of our promo material, critique it, change it, and upload a revision. We would have a new idea, only to start working on that as well. How about a free demo version of the book? How about bundling past issues of Provisions as e-Books? How about a Pocket PC format? Once the ideas started to flow out of our fingers, there was no stopping them.

Apparently a lot of people appreciated our efforts. In the first few days on the market, 61 people downloaded the free demo version. That’s fun too. But it was even more fun to write down our ideas and see them evolve, in lightning speed, at their inception, right before our very eyes. Click Here to See For Yourself.

I had the same experience this weekend, as the LifeTrek coaching staff went on retreat to talk about, plan, and jumpstart the evolution of our company. Four of the six people involved with the company are looking to transition to full-time coaching as soon as possible. Since we last met, all four have either enrolled in or completed their coach training. This fact combined with other external factors made the gathering electric.

Once again, it helped to write it all down. With newsprint and markers we generated a slew of new and expanded ideas. To mention seven:

  1. We will offer a free teleclass every month to you, the readers of LifeTrek Provisions.
  2. We will share more of the leadership for writing Provisions on a weekly basis.
  3. We will develop new consulting and coaching programs for use with corporations and organizations.
  4. We will expand our repertoire of assessment instruments, including the Discovery 360 process.
  5. We will market more coaching products on the LifeTrek Web site, with a standard shopping cart.
  6. We will use more portals, such as AvantGo and Handango, to spread the word about LifeTrek coaching.
  7. We will organize our first LifeTrek coaching retreat, open to the public, before the end of this year.

The energy in the room was palpable as these and other ideas were put down in writing. It wasn’t enough just to speak them out loud. They had to be written down in order to crystallize and take full form. “Offer. Share. Develop. Expand. Market. Use. Organize.” Those powerful words of action became even more powerful when we saw them and many others written down on paper.

At one point we reviewed our work from the last retreat regarding our values and mission. Reading what we had written down four months ago was freshly motivating. “Inclusive. Open. Affirming. Balanced. Flexible. Trustworthy. High-Quality. Courageous. Spiritual. Practical. Individual. Corporate.” “Did we say that?” we asked ourselves with renewed appreciation. “That is definitely our vision. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we have to contribute to the world through the coach approach to personal, professional, and organizational development.”

I’m sure our work on this retreat will impact many of you in the year ahead. But right now I want you to be impacted by the process rather than the product. What made this such a motivating, energizing, and productive time was that a group of people shared the joy and wrote down their ideas. In my experience, that formula works every time. If we hadn’t written it down, some things would have stayed fuzzy, slipped through the cracks, or been forgotten. As Confucius once said, “The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.”

The point is that writing things down serves not only the mind but also the motivation. Nothing brings things into focus better than having to write them down. And once they’re down, you can use that writing in all sorts of ways:

I keep a personal mission statement taped to my computer monitor. From that convenient vantage point, it’s easy to review and rehearse my core values on a regular basis.

  • One couple enjoys the surprise, even after many years together, of putting or finding love notes in new, unexpected places.
  • Many people keep daily logs in order to stay connected to their patterns and energy flows. The logs become sourcebooks for motivation and change.
  • Reflective journals go beyond awareness to the inner conversations themselves. In reflective journal writing, we ask not only “What’s happening?” but “How do we feel?” “What are we learning?” and “What do we want to be happening?”
  • Art is a kind of writing that comes from the other side of the brain. When you get tired of writing things down, try drawing them out. This can be very powerful.

Want to stay motivated for life? Write things down. Do this on your own and with others. The process of writing things down will clarify your thinking, keep you on track, and move you forward. It will solidify your preferences and build your confidence. It will make a difference in the way life goes.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Congratulations on the 20,000 and 110 nations • what a bully pulpit! And now the Rome marathon! Keep on keeping on! And thanks for allowing Gordon Cosby to preach to your readers.


Thank you for your dedication, coaching, and tremendous service. Please send info on the electronic version of your book. Thanks! (Ed. Note: Click Here.)


It is really amazing how far flung your messages are going around the world. I am so happy for you. You offer so many valuable advice and tips for better, healthy living. I know because I really know how important it is to take care of myself. It is well worth every effort that I give. Recently my chiropractor offered me a knee cuff with magnets. Do you have any information about magnets? (Ed. Note: Will comment in a future Wellness Pathway.)


I would be very interested in the e-Book on weight control. Have you considered a digital format for the reading of your book? Audible.com distributes material like this. (Ed. Note: Thanks for another great idea! Will pursue.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #247: Face the Music

Laser Provision


Last week I wrote about good feedback as a great motivator. I defined good feedback as timely and welcome. That does not mean it’s always pleasant, however. Sometimes we have to wake up and face the music in order to get motivated to change. Sometimes that takes a crisis. Other times that just takes the truth.

LifeTrek Provision


We’re more than halfway through this series on Ten Ways to Stay Motivated for Life. The series would not be true to my own experience if I did not include the advice no one wants to hear: face the music. This idiom means to accept the unpleasant truth about ourselves and our actions. It represents the other side but does not contradict last week’s Provision on timely and welcome feedback. In a word, welcome feedback is not always pleasant. We sometimes have to be disillusioned in order to get motivated to grow.

In 1998 I thought I had a heart problem. I certainly had a weight problem, although I didn’t “know it” at the time and had refused to face the music for years. Finally, my body decided to give me some welcome but unpleasant feedback. For several days, I had chest pains, numbness in my right arm and leg, neck pain, and shortness of breath. At times, when I was driving the car, the chest pain and shortness of breath was so bad that I had to pull over and stop driving in fear that I might pass out.

Did I go to the doctor immediately? No. Tough guy that I was, I figured it would pass. But my body knew what it was doing. Day after day, I experienced symptoms that said: pay attention to me, take care of me, and figure out what’s going on. So off I went for EKGs and stress tests. Eventually I discovered that I do have a heart problem, but it’s a congenital problem that was not causing my symptoms. As far as the doctors could determine, my symptoms were caused by my being overweight, out of shape, and stressed out.

Sound familiar? Many of us live that way all the time, but many of us live with the illusion (A) that it’s not so bad, or (B) that it will get better soon, or (C) that we can handle it, or (D) that there’s nothing we can do about it, or (E) all of the above. So we continue on our self-destructive path until one day, to no one’s surprise except perhaps our own, we self destruct.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can face the music and change our ways before we self destruct. I remember Gordon Cosby of the Church of the Savior in Washington, DC once speaking on the subject, “Tougher, Disillusioned Leadership.” That phrase has always stuck in my mind. What illusions do you live with? About yourself? About your relationships with others? About your work? Your problems? Your potential? Until we face the music, chances are we will not find the motivation to change.

Our bodies are wonderful storehouses of wisdom. They can help us find that motivation. I like Wayne Dyer’s now classic quip: “You are not a human being having a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being having a human experience.” (You’ll See It When You Believe It: The Way to Your Personal Transformation). In other words, we have these bodies for a reason. They are a gift, with all their limitations, obsessions, pains, problems, and, yes, even their deaths. They can help us face the music, if we but choose to listen.

Unfortunately, our bodies do not always speak as loudly as mine did back in 1998. We can treat them badly and they can suffer quietly for years on end. Then suddenly, at the age of 42 and with three young children, we end up dead on arrival. Wouldn’t it be better to face the music before reaching such a crisis? Wouldn’t it be better to be disillusioned and disabused of our life-denying and life-defying ways while there’s still time to make amends?

You probably agree, in theory. But in reality you have a lot to do and probably can’t bring yourself to think about this for very long, let alone to reorganize your remaining time and energy in life-affirming and life-supporting ways. That’s why I say we have to face the music. It may take a rude awakening, but if we can bring ourselves to face the truth, all things become possible.

Listening to our bodies is only one way to face the music. They are playing a salubrious tune right now, however quietly, if we but choose to listen. Another way to face the music is to bottom out socially or emotionally, as many successful people in 12-step and other recovery programs know all too well. After years of counter-productive, self-destructive, and addictive behavior which teeters on the brink of disaster, often supported by codependent enablers, it’s not uncommon for people to hit bottom, admit they have a problem, and then start the long, hard journey of rebuilding their lives.

Bottoming out represents the social or emotional equivalent of a heart attack. Sometimes it proves to be just as fatal, including suicide and homicide. Other times it proves to be just as motivating, as people get to the point of listening and responding to the dysfunctionality of their lives. But one does not have to wait for such high-volume, high-drama feedback. Our families, friends, and associates can see what we are not willing to face, long in advance of our ultimate demise. The question, once again, is, “Are we willing and do we choose to listen?”

Most of us aren’t and don’t. When the feedback is unpleasant, most of us just get obstinate and defensive. We’re going to do it our way, regardless. This can, of course, motivate us for a time with resistant energy. But pushing back on the basis of an illusion can only be sustained for so long and will not bring life to our lives. It will bring death, just as surely as if I had gone on in my overweight, out of shape, and stressed out ways.

Want to get motivated for life? Face the music. Listen to your body. Listen to your life. Where are the pressure points and the pain? What are they trying to tell you? It’s not impossible to get and to receive helpful feedback from your families, friends, and associates. All you have to do is to make yourself vulnerable and ask. Once in a while, they’ll even take it upon themselves to share their thoughts, uninvited. If the feedback is honest without being bitchy, if it’s true without being judgmental, listen up. Such feedback may represent the gift of life.

What will it be for you? Tougher, disillusioned leadership centered in truth? Or obstinate, intractable stewardship centered in self? Will you have to bottom out before you face the music? Or will you choose to hear the more delicate strains, which are playing each and every day of our lives? The choice is up to you.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


This is an awesome service you offer! What a great way to reach tens of thousands of people looking to improve their lives. I look forward to using your site often. Thanks for your well thought out services.


Where can I get the Diet and Exercise Assistant? (Ed. Note: Go to http://www.keyoe.com. The handheld version works with the Palm OS only. The desktop version retrieves and stores data with every synchronization.)


Great provision as always. How about putting your book suggestions (like on your web site) as a category on the Palm version? (Ed. Note: Done. You will not be able to order from the Palm version, but you will be able to review the titles of our recommended reading list.)


Information on stress management, child development, and general family help matters as a routine would be helpful to many people.


Interesting how we are finally beginning to understand what we have been taught since the days of Adam … it’s not good to be alone.


I hate to unsubscribe, but ill heath prevents the daily use of a computer for any length of time. Hopefully, I will be able to subscribe again in the future. Thank You.


What do you think of flax oil with lignan? (Ed. Note: Here’s what Udo Erasmus has to say: “Beware of a marketing gimmick that offers ‘lignan flax oil.’ This is simply crude flax oil as it comes out of the press. The ‘mud’ it contains is fine seed material. The manufacturer simply did not let this fine seed material settle out of the oil. Because such oil takes less work to make, it should be cheaper than clear oil. ‘Lignan flax oil’ provides only about 90% as much oil, the remaining 10% being the seed ‘mud’ settled from the oil. If you want lignans, use freshly ground seeds, which are far cheaper and contain far more lignans.”


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #246: Get Good Feedback

Laser Provision


It’s no fun to be nagged about something. It’s not motivating to have either an external or internal voice harping continuously about what we should do. But there are ways to design timely and welcome feedback loops that can assist us to stay motivated and on track with our best intentions. Read on to learn how.

LifeTrek Provision

Many people are all too familiar with the critical voices which destroy motivation, self-esteem, and life energy. Yet there is a place for timely and welcome feedback. Indeed, without a clear and specific awareness of what and how we are doing, in the present moment, our motivation will gradually slip away. It’s that important.

What’s the difference between motivating and demotivating feedback? Motivating feedback is both timely and welcome. When too much time passes between the action and the feedback, the feedback stops being a source of motivation. It may be interesting, but it loses the power to impact our decisions. It may be worth pondering (and writing a Provision about), but if we don’t receive the feedback in real time, on the fly, in a manner we can hear and respond to, it becomes either more of an academic exercise or more of a guilt trip than an opportunity to self-correct.

That’s the principle behind how they orient the satellites that orbit the earth or keep an airplane on autopilot. Spinning gyroscopes create the necessary feedback loop to continuously detect and correct even the slightest deviation from the spin axis. Physicists refer to this effect as precession: the gyroscope wobbles as its axis of rotation moves out of alignment. And that wobble tells the computers what to do in order to stay on course.

So too when it comes to motivational feedback. We need feedback loops in our daily lives that create a discernible wobble at even the slightest course deviation, so we can make the necessary course corrections. The more we can automate the process, the more sustainable they will be over the long term.

One example of such a feedback loop is the Diet and Exercise Assistant. This utility for handheld devices with the Palm operating system calculates your daily calorie intake based upon your body size, food intake, and activity level. It comes with a built-in database of common foods, including restaurant meals, as well as a calorie calculator for a wide variety of activities. There’s also a desktop version that retrieves and stores your data with every synchronization.

With a few simple clicks you can input information. The Diet and Exercise Assistant does the rest. Want to maintain, lose, or gain weight? The Diet and Exercise Assistant makes the calorie calculation and gives you continuous feedback throughout the day as to where you stand. Go for a 30-minute run and you get to eat a little more. Splurge with a decadent dessert and you may have to stop eating for the rest of the day • or go for another run!

I can tell you from personal experience that I eat better when I get this timely feedback. In the era of super-size portions, many of us have lost the ability to look at our food and know how much we’re eating. We also fail to appreciate how even small deviations add up over time. Calories are like degrees on a compass. With enough time or distance, you can end up way off course.

Getting feedback as we go through the day assists us to make better decisions, early on, before we get in trouble. Since the Diet and Exercise Assistant maintains your eating history, you can easily make course corrections from day to day. Such feedback can also bring real pleasure. It’s a great feeling to get to the end of the day with room to spare for an extra treat.

That’s what makes this feedback not only timely but welcome. You can actually have fun with this thing • and with all good feedback loops. Unwelcome feedback is destructive. I agree with Thomas Crane in The Heart of Coaching: there’s no such thing as constructive criticism. All criticism tears down some aspect of our self. It is destructive, even when it’s well-intended.

Of course one can argue that there are times when things need to be torn down before they can be built back up. Tearing down our illusions about ourselves, others, and the world is healthy and necessary for growth. But unwelcome feedback does not achieve this end. It simply makes us defensive, holding on to our illusions even more tightly and stubbornly.

That’s why it’s important to design feedback loops that you control and that you receive with joy. Once again the Diet and Exercise Assistant can serve as a case in point. I control whether I bother with it or not, the accuracy of the information I enter, and how often I look at it throughout the day. It never provides its feedback with an emotional edge. It’s always a charge-neutral, non-evaluative statement of fact. It gives me the information I want, the way I want, when I want.

We can learn many lessons here for both motivation and our communications with others. Continuous and welcome feedback is highly motivating. It can assist us to stay on track with our best intentions and truest selves. When I use the Diet and Exercise Assistant one day and I’m more interested to use it the next. When I use it for an entire week, I’m more interest in using it for two.

That’s the way good feedback loops work. They don’t get old, frustrating, or oppressive. They give us useful information about critical areas of concern. They reinforce our goals, needs, and values. They build us up and keep us on track. They teach us what’s important.

Design your own feedback loops to increase your awareness of what’s going on in life. They don’t just work for diet and exercise. They work in every area of life. Make sure the loops are both timely and welcome; when they are you’ll notice the difference in how fast they move you forward and set you free.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Is there a charge to subscribe to LifeTrek Provisions? (Ed. Note: There is no charge. So forward at will and spread the word!)


I love your newsletter. Thanks! I was wondering why your telephone area code is 614 while your fax area code is 561? I happen to live in the 561 area code. (Ed. Note: Our coaches use e-fax to receive faxes electronically. That’s why the area codes are different.)


I thought you might be interested in the new biweekly journal I have just started. You and LifeTrek Provisions encouraged me to proceed ahead. I thoroughly enjoy your letter and have forwarded numerous copies. I plan to try out the pedometer exercise suggested in your latest issue. I hope you enjoy my efforts and continue your outstanding efforts.


I once had an extremely difficult relationship with a surgeon with whom I worked. This relationship was significantly affecting my career, and for that single reason I began disliking my work. Until…a friend of mine suggested that I should view this person as a benefactor, because God had put him in my life so that I could acquire a new skill that I currently did not have. That was tough for me to believe! But I acted on that belief, and that comment changed everything, particularly my reaction to the surgeon. Of course as MY behavior changed, so did his, and the relationship settled into an acceptable one. Since that “reframing” day when I acquired that new skill, every relationship has brought me a new level of understanding of the individuality of people, and the relationships have transitioned anywhere from acceptance to pure joy.


What do you do if you’re stuck in a wheelchair and need to reduce your waist, stomach and hips? (Ed. Note: The same principles apply: control your calorie intake and move your body. Are you able to move at all? Stretch frequently. To get your heart rate up, find exercises you can do with your arms. Wheelchair road racing has quite a following.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #245: Reframe the Problem

Laser Provision


There’s no way to completely eliminate the challenge of getting and staying motivated for life. But it is possible to reframe the problem so that the challenge becomes easier, more enjoyable, and more sustainable. This Provision gives you three practical illustrations of how to make this work.

LifeTrek Provision


One of my early mentors, Tex Evans, was a master at motivating people to do dirty jobs they might not have otherwise considered doing. Each week during the summer, volunteers from around the United States would come to the Appalachian mountain region in order to do repairs on the dilapidated homes of mountaineer families.

From time to time, a particularly terrible case would come to our attention. Perhaps the job itself was incredibly hard, grubby work. Or perhaps the family situation was especially heart wrenching. That’s when Tex would go to work.

As the jobs were being discussed, he would casually mention that he had one job that he really couldn’t ask anyone to consider doing. It was just too difficult. Then he would go through the rest of the jobs. This one needed to have the roof worked on. Another one needed new screens. Still another needed to have the walls in several rooms repaired and painted. So who would like to do what job?

Inevitably, one or more group leaders would ask about the especially difficult job that he had seemingly forgotten to describe. “Oh, that one,” my mentor would say, “I’m really not sure we’re up to that.” “Tell us about it!” would be the unison reply. At which point, with them already eating out of his hand, he would go into the details of the job that was really his number one priority. Soon the volunteers were fighting over who would get to do the worst job of the summer • and the job would get done with pride.

What I learned from this experience, which I witnessed and replicated on multiple occasions, is that one trick for staying motivated for life is to reframe the problem. Are you unable to get yourself going on a particularly difficult job? Are you procrastinating on something that will make your life better? Are you having a hard time staying with something that works only as a daily habit? Then it may be time to reframe the problem.

More examples will serve to illustrate the technique. Everyone knows that daily exercise is critical to our long-term health and well being. No one can age gracefully without such a habit. It keeps us fit, flexible, and fertile. Yet many people think of this as a chore that they only get around to sporadically. Who has the time or energy for that? Reframing the problem can help.

One such approach is the “10,000 Steps a Day” program, developed in Japan and recently endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine. All it takes is an inexpensive pedometer that clips to your belt or waistband. The program’s goal is just what it says: take 10,000 steps a day. Unlike other exercise programs, this one goes all the time. From the moment you get out of bed in the morning to the moment you get into bed in the evening, every step counts.

Without any real effort, and just by reframing the problem, daily exercise becomes a daily habit (unless you never get out of bed). Your focus becomes the movement of life instead of finding 30 minutes to exercise. Everything shifts and becomes effortless. Suddenly you’ll start taking the furthest parking space, in order to add steps. You may start taking the stairs rather than an elevator or going for a walk with a client instead of doing lunch. And at the end of the day, when you show 8,000 steps, you may go for a short walk in order to top off the count.

In other words, you’ll start doing all the things the doctors want you to do • but you’ll do them your own way, in your own time, and with your own wisdom. That’s how reframing the problem works. It gives you the time, energy, and motivation that you have heretofore lacked.

Or take all those boring meetings that you have to go to at work. How much more productive you could be if you didn’t have to waste your time sitting in meetings that always seem to talk about the same issues without ever making any real progress! How much more fulfilled you could be if you didn’t have to make an appearance at events that really have nothing to do with your primary interest or concern! Or so it seems.

One way to reframe this problem is to develop your own secret agenda for the meeting. Decide to pay attention to something or someone you find interesting. Don’t just be a participant, be a participant observer. Count how many times the convener of the meeting laughs. Notice people’s nervous habits (fingernail biting, hair twirling, etc.) and observe whether they practice them with more or less frequency as the meeting goes on (you might even time them). Watch the power shifts. Who is aligned with whom at the beginning of the meeting? At the end of the meeting?

When the meeting is over, write your observations down in a reflective journal. Why did you choose what you chose? Was it as interesting as you thought it would be? Did you notice something that was even more interesting? What do your observations say about the organization? About you as person? If you were going to write a novel about someone who goes to these meetings, what could you say about their life that would account for their behavior in the meeting?

It is possible to function on this level and on the level of the meeting itself. One can pay attention to someone or something interesting without losing sight of the agenda. That’s what it means to be a participant observer. Once you make the shift, you may never have a boring meeting again.

I hope these three illustrations will assist you to reframe your own problems. It is not only possible to get and sustain your motivation for dealing with them; it is essential. We all have motivation challenges, at every stage of life. Reframing those challenges is the secret of lifelong success.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thank you very much for the invitation to subscribe to LifeTrek Provisions free of charge. I accept with humbleness and great thanksgiving and am looking forward to more than just a couple of weeks with your newsletter.


What is the difference between values and priorities? I am new to LifeTrek. (Ed. Note: A priority is something you choose to put ahead of everything else. People set their own priorities for their own reasons. If you make your values a priority, then your values will guide your choices. That’s a good way to live, if you ask me.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #244: Experiment

Laser Provision


This week we focus on learning as an effective motivational tool. When was the last time you set out to learn something new? It’s not hard to do, regardless of your age. Approach your life as a never-ending, three-dimensional, multimedia experiment and you’ll master the art of learning.

LifeTrek Provision


Many of you read this newsletter with a careful eye. Last week I forgot to change the title and number of the Provision I sent out by email. A number of readers wrote to let me know of the oversight. One asked about the mistake while another expressed disappointment that I was reprinting a prior week’s issue. Au contraire!

To all those who wondered but did not write, now you know: this was a case of mistaken identity on one line only. The correct number was 243 and the correct title was “Share the Joy.” I was building on my Provision from the week before: “Have Fun.” The point was simply this: want to stay motivated for life? Find something you enjoy doing, and do it. Doing it with others makes that strategy even more effective.

This week I turn to another motivator of human behavior: learning. In many ways, learning works just like joy. It can be a goal, a need, and a value. Some people think of joy as a goal (something they want more of). Others relate to it as a need • perhaps not as basic as food and water, but certainly no less important. Still others make it a point of experiencing joy each and every day • on principle. No trouble can get in the way.

So too with learning. It can be something we seek, need, and value • all at the same time. That’s good, because most people do not find goals alone to be very motivating. Goals only work for about 25% of the population. We know what happens with New Year’s Resolutions: lose weight, get in shape, and make more money. For a few weeks, maybe even for a few months, we discipline ourselves to achieve the goal. Then life moves on and before you know it, there goes the goal. So much for another year!

That’s why, as a coach, I seek solutions that do not require significant discipline and will-power. I like simple, easy, effortless solutions that take care of themselves. Coaches sometimes call such solutions “automatic sprinkler systems.” Set up right, the systems go off, without your even thinking about them, to support you when you need them. They really can work that way to bolster your motivation.

That’s why I like motivators which focus more on the trek than on the target. I don’t like to prescribe norms (e.g., 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 5 days a week) I’d rather experiment with processes. Having fun and sharing the joy are examples of processes that can keep you motivated for life.

So too when it comes to the matter of learning. Learning may not always include joy, but learning is just as fundamental to our being. Some have gone so far as to suggest that our capacity for learning, not only from our own experience but from the experience of others, sets us apart from all other creatures. It certainly ranks at the top of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as part of what he called self-actualization. Without learning, we can never be fully human.

Unfortunately, for many people the passion for learning gets vanquished early in life. The questions “What?” “Why?” and “How?” form the basis of every toddler’s vocabulary. Curiosity leads children to explore, question, and wonder. At certain stages of development, the passion to learn “What?” “Why?” and “How?” is irrepressible (and has tried the patience of many a parent).

By adulthood, the flames of curiosity have diminished considerably. “Been there, done that, nothing new under the sun” cynicism has taken root and taken over. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can learn something new at any age, and taking on the challenge of doing so can make a huge difference in our quality of life.

Many people like to play with the question, “What would you do if you knew you only had one month to live?” A worthwhile question to ponder, to be sure. But there’s an equally worthwhile question: “What would you do if you knew you had 50 more years to live?” Many of us do have that long, but we fail to act accordingly. We fail to learn something new “at our age” because learning is for kids and young adults.

Don’t be fooled. When we stop learning, we stop living. Find something you don’t know how to do and teach yourself how. I know one person who’s taken up snowboarding, another who’s learning Chinese, and a third who’s become a licensed massage therapist • all past 40 or 50 years old. For myself, I’ve taken to memorizing poetry. After hearing David Whyte about 18 months ago recite poetry at an International Coach Federation conference, I decided to learn some poems myself. Up until that time I had not memorized a single poem. Now I have scores of poems memorized. Who says you lose brain cells as you get older!

A great way to learn something is to experiment with the subject. Don’t just sit there and think about it. Do it. Get on the slopes. Take a class. Find a massage partner. Pick a poem. If it doesn’t work out, that’s OK. You’ll still learn something new from the experiment! That’s what the scientific method is all about. Test your ideas. Control the variables. Learn something new for a change. Take that one on, even at your age, and you’ll stay motivated for life.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I am gratified that a bigwig like you personally responded to my email. Congratulations on the growth of your business. BTW, have you heard of a personality test called “The Color Code?” It pegged me better than any other assessment I have ever done. (Ed. Note: See the LifeTrek bookstore (Click) for The Color Code link. PS • I don’t make a very good bigwig.)


Thank you for helping me to understand motivation.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #243: Share the Joy

Laser Provision


Want to increase your motivation? Don’t just have fun, share the joy. Find people with similar interests and do things together. Don’t just do them occasionally. Do them regularly. This can increase your happiness and call out your true genius.

LifeTrek Provision


Long before Pepsi made the slogan famous, people have known that a great way to Have Fun is to Share the Joy. Last week I wrote about having fun as one way to stay motivated for life. Motivation is easy when you enjoy who you are and what you do. This week I want to take that one step further. Motivation is even easier when you have fun with others.

Consider this testimonial from a reader of LifeTrek Provisions: “I grew up in Palos Verdes Estates, and I can tell you that for as long as I can remember (because I was heading off to swim practice at the same time) a group of men would meet religiously at the Palos Verdes Plaza every Saturday and Sunday to run. I went through middle school, high school, and home from college and they were still there, although in later years I saw them finishing rather than starting their runs! For many years I thought they were a bunch of lunatics!”

Today, this reader, who’s become a runner herself, knows they weren’t lunatics. They were just having fun, together. I know how this works. Every Tuesday morning at 6:00 I drive halfway across town to run up and down the Grandview hills with a group of friends. It’s great motivation to have a group of people with whom to share the joy • or the pain, as the case may be. When bad weather hits, it’s tempting to stay indoors for a more conventional workout. Knowing that my running buddies will be standing at the corner of 5th and Broadview gets me out the door and into the right frame of mind. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Runners are not the only ones who get motivated by sharing the joy. People in all walks of life experience this benefit from hooking up with people of similar interests and pursuits. Even rather solitary pursuits, such as Yoga, can benefit from the group experience. Go to a Yoga class once a week and you’ll be more motivated to practice Yoga on your own, in between classes. That’s how sharing the joy works. A little bit goes a long way.

Are there people with whom you can share the joy? It may take some initiative on your part to find and get them together.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the concept of social capital. Capital, of course, refers to wealth such as money or property used or accumulated in a business by a person, partnership, or corporation. Social capital takes that concept and applies it to the realm of human society. It measures wealth in terms of the relational networks between people which add value to life. Unlike traditional capital that gets depleted with use, social capital accumulates with use. The more you give of yourselves to others, the more networks you will have to fall back upon and the greater will be your social capital.

Unfortunately, social capital has steadily waned in the last forty years. Increasing workloads and the growth of two-income families, increasing mobility and suburban sprawl, the increasing use of electronic media (e.g., television and the Internet), and generational shifts in culture have all contributed to a decline in social organization and a rise in human isolation. So here we sit, trying to have fun, all by ourselves • wondering why we’re not more motivated and fulfilled.

I’ll let you in on a little secret • solitaire is a lot less fun than poker. But in recent decades the incidence of solitaire has increased steadily (especially thanks to Microsoft) while the incidence of poker and other organized activities, groups, and clubs has decreased steadily. As Robert Putnam has observed, while more people are bowling today than ever before, participation in bowling leagues has dropped to an all-time low. People are bowling alone.

The decline in social capital means that you may need to seize the day if you want to share the joy. You may need to be the one who takes the initiative to say to your family, neighbors, friends, or colleagues • let’s do something good, healthy, and fun together: not just once in a while, but regularly. It may take some doing to create or find those networks, but the social capital that will accrue to your benefit as a result can hardly be overvalued.

These relational networks increase your motivation by providing both support and accountability. When you know that people are caring for and looking to you in the web of life, you will live into your true genius and your best self. We cannot do this alone. But in connection with others we can stay motivated for life.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


In the book “Baby Steps To Success” by Vince Lombardi, Jr. and John Q. Baucom, Ph.D. (1997) they were discussing accepting responsibility for your success. They quoted the title of Dr. Schuller’s latest book, in which he says “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” I think that’s another way to express your thoughts in this week’s Provision. Well done. Thanks.


I enjoy your weekly notes. Keep up the fine job. In response to this week’s, I must say I have fun, sometimes too much. I enjoy what I do and often feel guilty that I enjoy what I do so much. But then I realize that God has blessed me in this way. The road has not always been easy but as I look back over life I see a huge majority of it that has been just plain FUN. Peace and grace to you


Nice one! The Neti Pot makes a big difference for many of my clients!


I’d like to thank you for your services. It’s nice I can learn from you anytime, anywhere. I have a question for you: I’d like to dedicate my whole life to the training/coaching area. Right now, I’m living in Mexico and I’d like to be trained as a coach. How long, where, and how much money do you think I need to be trained? (Ed. Note: For a list of certified coach training programs, go tohttp://coachfederation.org.)


Thank you for another thought provoking and affirming Provision. I have found the practice of getting involved in things that stir me personally in terms of joy, fun, interest, or fulfillment to be literally lifesaving. By incorporating play with new and interesting learning opportunities, together with family volunteer efforts and the continual nourishment and growth of my faith, I have gained the strength to pursue goals that sometimes seem exhaustingly far away.

The challenges of my health require me to pick and choose activities and pursuits. Having fun, developing new interests, helping others, and other such activities are worthwhile not only for the rewards they carry within themselves and as a result of our pursuing them together. So do go out and have fun. Learn something new and interesting. Take up a hobby you’ve always found interesting. And by all means, go find someone who needs your help! It’s great medicine.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #242: Have Fun

Laser Provision


Did you know it’s possible to have fun in almost every circumstance and situation? That’s what makes us uniquely human. Get connected with the things you find interesting, enjoyable, and fun. Doing so will produce new energy and direction for life.

LifeTrek Provision


The past two Provisions have provoked a lot of reader replies (see below). People were genuinely blessed by the notion that we could get motivated either by making it easy to do what we want (environmental modification) or by changing the object of our affections (attachment modification). Staying attached to something that consistently eludes our grasp destroys motivation, self-confidence, and self-esteem. It’s a hard way to live.

One reader, who’s trying hard to reconcile with his wife, found this notion both challenging and troubling. “If my wife were to stop trying,” he wrote, “if she were to just accept who she is right now and stay that way, a lot of people would continue to be hurt including herself. It’s hard for me to accept that if you are doing things that hurt other people, and you know it, that you should not change your behavior just because it is hard to do. I think that changing is easy, it’s just that not changing is even easier.”

“One of my favorite poems,” this reader continues, “is ‘Don’t Quit.’ I have had it on my wall since college. I have not always lived up to it but at this time in my life I will not quit on my marriage because it is the most important thing in my life today.

‘Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint to the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.'”

This reader certainly represents an important truth. I wrote about the importance and power of persistence just a few weeks ago during my series on courage. You may remember that the “E” in BRAVE stood for Endure. I respect and commend those who take action to reconcile relationships, honor commitments, and endure hardship because of what they want, need, or value.

But that was not the focus of last week’s Provision. I was not speaking to those who take action. I was speaking to those who try to take action, but never or rarely take action at all. Many people say they want to do something, like to reconcile a relationship, quite smoking, lose weight, or change jobs, but they are forever trying and never doing. That’s when it’s time for last week’s Provision: give it up and stop trying. Caught in the gap between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk,” we find ourselves enduring hardship for all the wrong reasons. We end up punishing ourselves, for no reason at all.

So how do you get motivated to do something else? Have fun! Get involved with something you find both interesting and enjoyable. Look for opportunities to expand this circle of involvement. Before too long your life will shift into high gear, purring as though it was a finely tuned engine.

I expect at least two different reactions to this Provision. One will come from those people who can find nothing interesting or enjoyable about life. They may have been trying for a very long time. The hard life is all they have ever known and all they can imagine. “Have fun? You’ve got be kidding! They’ve drained the swamp and the alligators are snapping. It’s all I can do to keep from being eaten alive.”

There’s no simple answer to this struggle. But my experience with a wide variety of life situations, including those of oppressed, low-income peoples, tells me that in even the worst of situations one can nevertheless find things that are interesting, enjoyable, and fun. Fun is a choice not a chance. Those people who make that choice • those people who maintain their sense of humor and perspective • shine as lights in the darkness.

Another reaction will come from those people who do not trust our inherent interests and ambitions. We’ll call this the problem of original sin. “If everyone just went off to have fun, where would we be? We’d be infested with decadent hedonism and unproductive narcissism. Have fun? Forget that! Someone has to take care of business.”

There’s once again no simple answer to this time-honored tradition of distrusting desire. We all know people who suffer mightily, and inflict great suffering on others, at the hands of their self-indulgent lifestyles. But I believe we can trust our inherent ambition. The things we find interesting, enjoyable, and fun are not incompatible with ethics, productivity, and responsibility. Within the context of the things we hold most dear, we can have fun and enjoy life • giving us the energy and direction to make dramatic moves forward.

So to the reader trying to reconcile that relationship, my advice is simple: have fun. Make yourself a more interesting person. Do the things you enjoy. Find ways to not just work on the relationship, but to celebrate the relationship. It’s courtship all over again! Rekindle that spirit, and you may just find yourself surprised by joy.

And to everyone else whose life has reached an all-time low, I invite you to listen to your heart. Get connected with the power of now. Find something interesting, enjoyable, and fun in the present moment • regardless of how difficult that moment may be • in order to renew your reason and energy for living. Get a coach if you need assistance to stop thinking about the “by and by.” Have fun now! There’s really no better way to live.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


This series is very important to us right now. Our son is having trouble finding his focus, so I’ve been sending him the last few of your Provisions because I think they speak directly to his situation. Also, have you read much Parker Palmer? His book on vocation is great. I think it relates to a lot of what you’re saying. (Ed. Note: You’re on target when it comes to Parker Palmer’s work. See the LifeTrek Bookstore.)


This week’s Provision was great • I shall send it on to those in desire! Thanks!


Reading your last Provision has provided me with my first step in understanding how to live one day at a time. I have always understood intellectually what it means but have never known how to do it. Your Provision has given me a way to begin. Ask and you will receive….


Thanks for the thought-provoking and stretching Provision. I’m not sure how your advice fits within the framework of original sin as I understand it. You’re clearly on target about not being consumed by our failures to reach the clouds, but “A soul’s reach must exceed our grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Good mulling.



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
 

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #241: Stop Trying

Laser Provision


This Provision is counterintuitive. Want to get motivated? Then stop trying to do the stuff you never get around to doing. Give it up. Embrace what you are doing, stop being a stranger to yourself, and love what you live. In the process, you may find the motivation to get going.

LifeTrek Provision


Last week I wrote about three sources of motivation: our wants, needs, and values. I then suggested a simple technique to get what you want: make your environment more supportive. If you want to ride a bicycle, for example, do what one coaching client did: put it in the front hall • trip over the thing • until riding it becomes second nature.

But what happens when you bring out the bike, trip over your dreams, and still don’t find the motivation to get going? It just becomes another piece of junk cluttering up your house. That’s when it’s time to take the next step in motivational theory: stop trying. Get rid of the junk, put the bike back down in the basement, and follow a different path to success and fulfillment.

Nothing is more debilitating than mentally trying to do something without actually doing much of anything. It erodes our self-esteem as well as our sense of efficacy. We get to the point of saying, “There’s no way I can do that, I’ve tried.” This works for stopping things (like smoking) as well as for starting things (like running). There’s nothing worse than repeatedly failing at what you try to do. But there is a simple solution: stop trying.

That may seem like an odd suggestion, but it’s actually very profound. There’s no quicker way to become a winner than to stop losing. And there’s no quicker way to stop losing than to stop trying to do the things we want to do but never manage to get around to doing. Embrace what you are doing and life will become a whole lot easier.

I’m not suggesting that we abandon our inherent ambition and give up on self-improvement. I’m simply suggesting that we stop playing mental games with ourselves. To quote Yoda, the Jedi master coaching his young prot•g• Luke in Star Wars, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” If we think we are trying to improve ourselves by saying one thing and doing another, then we fool only ourselves. Everyone else knows the truth.

Better to abandon the “would’a, could’a, should’a” than to walk around with a sense of always falling short. Better to embrace what we’re actually doing than to live continually in the gap between expectation and reality. If you actually work eighty hours a week, then celebrate spending most of your time and energy working. If you actually eat more calories than you burn every day, then celebrate gaining weight. If you actually read to your children every night, then celebrate spending quality time with your children. If you actually volunteer at a local soup kitchen, then celebrate feeding people in need.

The more you embrace what you are actually doing, instead of what you mentally desire or crave, the happier and more successful you will be. The more you jettison the guilt of falling short, the more you will understand and appreciate what Mary Oliver, in her poem “Wild Geese,” calls “your place in the family of things.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

That’s what happens when we stop trying to do what we’re not doing and start trying to do what we are doing. Ironically, the more aware we become of what we are doing, and the more we enter into a positive relationship with those things, the more likely we are to overcome despair as we hear that harsh and exciting announcement regarding our place in the family of things. Surprisingly, it may become a source of new energy and change.

Want to get motivated? Then stop trying to be, have, and do what you’re not. Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Do what you do. Have what you have. Be what you are. In the process you will find the motivation to be the best you can possibly be.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I have been out of the U.S.A. now for almost six months of a 15-month-long world tour. I am a teacher who has been looking for direction. LifeTrek has helped me to focus my desires, needs, and future aspirations. Thank you for your informative and enlightening articles.


I enjoy your articles and would like to continue receiving them at my new e-mail address.


Why did life trek unsubscribe me? Good day to you! I just got your “unsubscribe” note and I must say that I was angry at it. Why should you unsubscribe me? I did not unsubscribe from your newsletter, so what’s happening? Please let me know ASAP. Meanwhile I would like you to put me back on your list. (Ed. Note: “Subscribe” and “unsubscribe” are automated utilities that can be triggered for many reasons, e.g., sending an e-mail, filling out a Web form, or having a full mailbox. Sorry this happened! You’re back on the list.)


Thanks again for the food for thought. I have a bone to pick re: values however. I’m glad you promised, “we’ll spend a lot more time here,” because your comment just before that, “I default to my values,” feels bad (like it’s a last resort). I hope you’ll emphasize how essential values are to your being, a grounding, so that values take the priority • after relationships.



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
 

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services