Just and Only

In his book “Relentless”, Tim Grover (trainer to Michael Jordan and other world class athletes) examines two words very carefully. The words are “just” and “only”.

Compare the following two statements a business owner may make when losing one client:

  1. “It’s just one client”
  2. “It’s a client”

When you describe the loss as “just one client”, you are smoothing the situation for yourself. When you minimise the impact of the loss, you are unlikely to take action or conduct analysis to recover your position. In this state of mind you will not make preparations to go to war against your competitors.

Compare the following two statements made by someone trying to exercise more frequently and deciding whether or not to complete a training session in the afternoon:

  1. “It’s only one session”
  2. “It’s one session”

“Only one session” negates the value and importance of the session. It gives the person an out.

What if instead of seeing the upcoming session as just another one of many that could be made up for another time, they saw it as irreplaceable.

The completion of this session would strengthen a positive habit, and build further momentum towards the achievement of goals.

Consider each moment as special. Each sales call as unique. Each interaction as an opportunity to accomplish something meaningful.

Here are some other places where these words and rationalisations might pop up:

  • “It’s just one slice of cake” (when trying to lose some weight)
  • “It’s just one cigarette“(when trying to quit)
  • “It’s only one drink” (when trying to cut down alcohol consumption)
  • “It’s only one dress” (when rationalising spending money frivolously)
  • “It’s just one day” (taking a day off when you don’t feel like doing anything”
  • “It’s just one time” (rationalising any unethical behaviour)

Be mindful this week and begin to eliminate the words “just” and “only”  from your vocabulary.

On philosophy

Jack and Jill went up the hill.
Do you know why they went up the hill?
Do you know what they did when they got to the top of the hill?

There are many reasons for why they might have gone up the hill. Maybe they were on a treasure hunt. Perhaps there was a helicopter waiting to rescue them from a flash flood, and the top of the hill was the last safe place for evacuation.

It’s also possible that they just wanted some exercise, or to see the sunset in all it’s glory.

Any action you take is based on your values, which are derived from your philosophy. Philosophy refers to  your system of thinking, making decisions and taking action in this world.

You can choose your philosophy, or you can adopt the dominant systems of thinking that permeate through your network and society. These are often flawed, and misaligned from your core values.

To develop your philosophy you need to decide what you are about.

  • Are you an achiever?
  • Are you driven towards self-mastery?
  • Are you here to serve others?
  • Are you here to heal?
  • Are you here to dominate?
  • Are you here to learn?
  • Are you here to love?
  • Are you here to destroy?

Pick one. Or write your own. That is your core purpose for being. You chose it.  Now embrace it. Make everything else that you do serve that purpose. Congratulations, you have a philosophy.

I am driven towards self-actualization. Every day that I grow and learn, I become better equipped to help others achieve their goals. This means that in my capacity as a author, teacher & friend, I am able to make a greater contribution.

I’ll discuss some of the tools I use to support my core purpose in a future post.




Do you ever feel a little displaced?

Just a little odd in your own body. No, I’m not referring to the feeling that you get when you shelve 5 ecstacy pills and lose your concept of self for 3 days. I’m talking about the more subtle sense of ” not at home-ness”

How does it feel? Annoyed. Itchy skin. Restless. Neurotic. Uneasy. Mildly agitated. Cranky. Bored.

What does it signal? Some disharmony between your life and your dreams. Some unresolved conflict or situation. A dissatisfaction with the present moment.

What’s the solution? Accept the situation first. Find a quiet place to sit and try this meditative technique called a Body Scan.

Locate your attention. Where is it? Get a sense for whether it is focused or diffused.

Try to narrow it down into one laser beam and rest your attention on the top of your head.

Now imagine that your attention is a gentle wave and calmly allow it to sink downwards from the top of your head until it reaches your toes. Take 1-2 minutes to do this. Feel each body part fully.

Breathe slowly while you do this. Repeat as necessary.

If you are not fully at home now, you should at least have your feet in the door.

Now you can ask yourself:

“What’s the one thing that contributed most significantly towards this mood”.

Don’t obsess over it if you can’t determine a cause, life has unavoidable lows and this might just be one of them. If you can identify something, change if immediately. Home is essential. We need to feel comfort in our skin so that we can thrive despite the chaos outside of it.


With compliments

Try this as an experiment:
Give someone in your life a compliment and see how they respond.

The person should just say “thank you” or something similar, and receive your compliment wholeheartedly. They shouldn’t feel obligated to pay the compliment back, getting rid of it so quickly, as if they were playing hot potato.

What I have noticed is that very few people can accept compliments. The majority tend to downplay them, ignore them or provide reasons for why the statements you have made are incorrect. When this occurs people grow further apart, instead of closer together.

When you tell someone that they look beautiful, you are speaking your truth. In your eyes they do look beautiful. You want them to know how you feel and what you see, so you tell them. But when they deflect your compliment away  you feel deflated and confused.

Why has it become so hard for people to accept compliments? I have a few suggestions:

  • False humility
  • Pride
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social norms

The next time someone gives you a compliment simply smile and say thank you. Enjoy it. Someone has noticed something wonderful about you. Out of all the things they could have noticed today – they noticed you. Be grateful for their care and attention and accept their kind words with grace.

If you are struggling with putting this together I’ve included a few Compliments and Responses below to get you started:

C “Excellent work with that project”
R “Thank you. I’m so happy with how it turned out”

C “You look beautiful today”
R “Thank you. That’s so sweet of you to say”

C “You handled that customer like a boss
R “Thanks for noticing”


Every story has a…..

Which of the following statements is always true?

  • Every story has a villain
  • Every story has a hero
  • Every story has an ending

Most stories that we read or hear about have a hero and a villain. Some stories do not. Conversely all stories end at some stage.

Your life is a collection of stories. You first “read” them through experience, and then reflect upon them as memories (placed in your mental bookshelf).

When your capacity to reflect on your stories is taken away from you, your story ends. We call this death.

Since your life is a collection of stories that you either anticipate, experience of reflect upon, why not take a moment to write yourself into some exciting ones.

The end of your story is guaranteed.

  • You can choose to be a hero in your story.
  • You can choose to conquer the villain that disguises itself as your obstacles.
  • You can walk out of an uninteresting story and into a better one.

Finish this sentence: To make tomorrow more exciting I will….

Promote yourself or demote yourself

Let’s start with a question.
From the 7.5 billion people on this planet how many share your dreams and are thus pursuing similar goals?

In a connected world those people are your competition.

Consider the goal of becoming a famous actor in blockbuster movies. The competition will be fierce. It will either push you to practice more or crush your spirit.

Now consider the goal of losing weight. There doesn’t seem to be any competition here. If your friend loses weight it doesn’t shrink the total amount of weight loss available to all people with that goal.

When working towards goals where competition is abundant – you must promote yourself by taking a step forward each day. If you fail to promote yourself; you demote yourself. This gives your competitors room to overtake you. I encourage you to be paranoid about this.

Where there is no external competition you still get to make a choice. In the spirit of promotion you can choose to proceed. You can decide that you in competition with yourself – then find a way to do it faster, better and smarter.

You can also choose to concede.

One my favourite quotes comes from Abraham Maslow:
“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety”

Choose growth.


Working as a teacher I get to make decisions regarding student performance on a daily basis. I assign grades to work, and then rank students in order of academic excellence.

  • A students are the cream of the crop – intellectually superior to their peers.
  • C students grasp the coursework to a satisfactory level and do enough to pass.
  • E students are either incapable of completing the work or haven’t tried their hardest yet.

I am most interested in the thought process of those who haven’t tried yet. My E students. I ask them a number of questions to learn about their thinking. Often times hidden behind the “I don’t give a damn” attitude is a lack of confidence combined with a fear of failure.

Even though our attitudes as adults are generally pretty positive, this doesn’t mean we are immune from self sabotage.

Spend a moment taking inventory of all the skills you hope to develop and haven’t started working on yet. Specifically your skills that sit at an E level that you hope to improve.

Consider the upside of starting the work: you have the greatest room to grow. You can move from an E to a D with little effort, and you only might need to develop the skill to a C standard to accomplish your goal.

Remove (or accept) the obstacle to trying, and put a plan in place to learn something useful. You may be surprised at just how easy the task was once you get started.


What did you miss today?

This weekend I took a walk down to my local shopping centre for the weekly groceries.
I had prepared a shopping list and mapped out a logical route that would allow me to make all of my purchases efficiently.

My usual shopping survival strategy is to keep my head down and just walk quickly. As I got off the escalator and turned left I noticed an elderly woman standing to the side. I only looked at her for a second but it was clear to me that she was upset.

I walked a little further past her then just came to a stop. I ran through the possible problems that she might have in her life and how I might be able to help. She might have lost her daughter in the shops, or be going through a rough patch with life or work. Maybe I could help.

As I approached her, I started to perceive the situation more clearly. Her hair and clothes were dirty & she had a terrible smell. Facial hair almost on par with mine. Torn shoes.

I greeted her with a subdued smile and started a conversation. A rough life indeed; husband died, kids gone, no job, living on the streets. Her pale blue eyes were filled with such sadness. I can’t recall the last time I saw hopelessness like that. I walked her down to the coffee shop and gave her some money for lunch.

I wonder how many other people walked past her that day and didn’t notice. Or did notice, and rationalized her sadness away with mental commentary such as “she’ll be alright”. I think about the many things I miss out on perceiving each day because my attention is elsewhere.

Where you put your attention is a choice. But this choice places limits on your experience. These limits are essential for sanity, but left to solidify, they can harden our ego until the only concern we have is for ourselves. What a wasteful way to live. Open your eyes and look around.