Photo Credit: today.com
For quite some time, I've been doing 'Wednesday Wisdom' posts on social media. I did a recent post on perfectionism, and I want to expand upon what I talked about in it. My intention is to create awareness around the subject and to encourage people to develop systems to protect themselves both mentally and emotionally.
Self-oriented or toxic perfectionism is imposing an unrealistic desire to be perfect on oneself. Almost 300 research studies have found that high levels of perfectionism were correlated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, deliberate self-harm and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Even mild cases can interfere with your quality of life by negatively affecting your personal relationships, education, work and more. Some common traits of a perfectionist include: all-or-nothing thinking, being highly critical of oneself or others, being pushed by fear, having unrealistic standards, being highly results focused, experiencing depression, fear of failure, procrastination, defensiveness and/or low self esteem. Perfectionists usually do not possess all of these characteristics, but many of them in conjunction with one another.
Living with perfectionism my entire life has not been easy. I've struggled with body image issues, self defeating thoughts & behaviors, negative self efficacy/self image and unrealistic expectations most of my life, just to name a few. The internal voice of being a perfectionist is hard to live with, and frankly can be exhausting. For anyone else struggling with perfectionism, there have been a lot of ways that I've worked to overcome toxic perfectionism, but here are 10 tips that have worked for me:
For me, it is all about honor. Honoring my physical and mental health, as well as honoring my time, commitments, priorities and boundaries. Most importantly, give yourself the grace to grow. Change and evolution does not happen overnight. I've been intentionally working on various components of overcoming self-induced, toxic perfectionism for over 15 years. Give yourself time, but please be intentional about it because it is one of the most important things that you can do.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: deviantart.com
Our society tends to overemphasize the importance of passion. Success gurus shout from stage “find your passion and then sell out 100% to making your dreams a reality!” or “Find what you love to do and you will never work a day in your life!” If finding something that is important to you is all that you need, then why has there been a steady rise in job burnout? Why are divorce rates climbing year over year? Is it that these people all just chose the wrong career path, one that wasn’t actually their passion? Was it that these people really didn’t care deeply about their significant others?
The unfortunate side of this advice being continually touted is that it leads people down a path searching for that ever flowing positive emotional energy like it’s the fountain of youth waiting to be discovered. They believe that if they could only find it, they would have this continual energy propelling them towards their dreams and goals. When they finally realize that no matter how deeply they care about something they still feel overwhelmed, tired, distracted, and much more, they believe that there is either something wrong with them or they just haven’t identified their “true passion” yet.
We believe that while passion is important, it’s not the all important ingredient like you have been lead to believe. We submit to you that identifying things that work, options that will yield the greatest return on investment, should actually be ranked higher than passion in regards to importance. We find that when people are seeing themselves creating tangible results from the activities that they are doing, they are more capable of engaging with the things they care most deeply about. It has has been a combination of our athletic backgrounds and the mentorship and guidance that we have had in our lives that has brought us to this realization. Those who are the most successful in athletics are forced to put a premium importance on the most mundane activities. Activities that they clearly are not passionate about and do not enjoy, but yield the greatest results over time.
This is why it is important to identify the things that are most important to us and the future that we would like to experience, while clearly seeing the path forward to creating that future; mundane activities and all. Unfortunately we as humans are averse to looking that those mundane activities. We like to imagine a perfect physique while ignoring the countless tired hours in the gym or sacrifices in cuisine that will be required to develop it. While we cannot see every possible challenge that may arise as we pursue worthwhile endeavors, we can choose to approach them with our eyes wide open. Seeing both the opportunities and the obstacles. Understanding that if we can realize greater returns on our investments, both physical and emotional, we are better equipped to pour what remains into the things that we care about the most.
We encourage you, don’t take things at face value. Dig deeper. Find people who you can trust who have created the results in their lives that you want to create. Learn from them and implement what they teach you. Do the things that work.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: loveisinmytummy.com
"Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.”
– Joel Osteen
I think it is easy to get caught in the cycle of feeling bad for ourselves. We start to go down the path of pessimism and wonder why 'things' keep happening TO us. We feel deflated and helpless, think 'why me' and even throw ourselves pity parties. We start to give negative or neutral/ negative responses like "It's going" or "It's ok." We see ourselves as a victim. Negative self talk is easy, comparison is easy and being unforgiving is easy. I'm going to encourage you to STOP.
There is ALWAYS someone that has it harder than you and is going through more than you are going through. I do feel it is important to be empathetic and I am not downplaying what people are going through/dealing with, but I do believe that people have the tendency to feel sorry for themselves. I believe it all comes down to perspective, and often we need to shift our perspective.
What is perspective? Perspective is the way that one looks at a situation, circumstance and/or an occurrence. I want to discuss how to maintain a healthy perspective, the importance of gratitude, and some tips to support a positive perspective.
A Healthy Perspective
A healthy perspective, I believe, begins and ends with faith. This is not necessarily suggesting faith in a spiritual context, but instead having a moral and ethical foundation and compass. For us, it has been through the development of a strong spiritual foundation, however, that has enabled us to grow in other areas of our lives as well. A healthy perspective allows us to have inner peace. It has also been a good interpersonal network that has provided the proper environment to have a growth mindset despite circumstances. Having self-compassion, proper expectation and practicing gratitude on a daily basis are keys to maintaining a healthy perspective. When we have a healthy perspective, we can assess situations more accurately and make decisions quicker. This helps to see what is happening in context. Developing a clear vision and a good planning process enables us to make better decisions and adjust when things go awry. A couple of things that have helped me along the way is having a clear vision statement and long term goals to maintain the proper outlook.
One of the most helpful practices that has assisted me in maintaining a proper, healthy perspective is gratitude. Implementing a daily gratitude practice helps to maintain positivity and purpose. Robert Emmons, Psychology Professor and Gratitude Researcher at the University of California-Davis, explains that there are two key components of practicing gratitude:
Here are some practices that can help you maintain a positive perspective in your life:
- Have a daily gratitude practice
- Start a mindful minute
- Record positive self-affirmations
- Have a regular physical activity regimen
- Keep a journal
- Take time for reflection
- Write about thoughts, feelings & emotions
- Read daily, especially literature that focuses on intentional areas of growth
- Listen to positive audios/podcasts
- Find music that is positive & uplifting
- Focus on self care
- Invest in counseling
- Find a mentor/guide that you can mastermind with
"Gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions. Once expressed, it changes attitude, brightens outlook, and broadens our perspective." -Germany Kent
Greatness is a choice so is perspective.
Amanda & Brandon
Photo Credit: rhondacooper.org
General Electric is widely regarded as the first company to established a culture around SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals. As a result, they had numerous portions of their company grow at an unprecedented rate. What most people don’t know, however, is that there were other sectors of the company that struggled greatly with SMART goals. This isn’t because they didn’t know how to implement them, on the contrary it was because they were so focused on hitting their SMART goals that they were setting the bar too low. You know these people, the ones who write something down on their to-do list after they have already completed the task just so they can get the satisfaction of crossing it off. Heck, maybe you are one of these people. This is the byproduct of never setting audacious goals. Goals that stretch you to the limit. Goals that make you reimagine what is possible. The rub in all of this is that both SMART goals and audacious goals are important if you want to create massive success.
Fortunately for General Electric they had legendary CEO Jack Welch at the helm who realized that something was amiss. While on a trip to observe the operations of various companies in Japan, Jack Welch learned of how the engineers behind the famous Japanese Bullet Train were constantly stretched by their superiors to build something that they thought was physically impossible. The result of this constant challenging of what was possible combined with the SMART goal approach is what helped them to create a train that could travel twice as fast as any developed previously (over 120 mph). The setting of audacious goals and stretching of what they thought was possible, was exactly what these departments at General Electric were missing. Jack Welch came to the realization that SMART goals were only one half of the puzzle and that his company needed to take the lid off of what they thought they could accomplish, set more audacious goals, and then combine them with the SMART strategy to systematically move themselves towards what they previously thought was unattainable. The result? Over a decade long dominance in the market as one of the most valuable companies in the world and Jack Welch being named by Fortune magazine as the “Manager of the Century.”
So why do we share all of this with you? It’s simple, the same goal setting strategies that helped General Electric can be applied in our lives as well. At the end of the day, a major corporation is just a bunch of individuals who have their goals tied into one another. We find that people are generally good at employing one of these two strategies but rarely combine the two like they should. Most people are either setting big goals, talking a big game, and then never developing any sort of daily rhythm to systematically work towards them, or they are setting goals that are so easy to hit so that they can feel good about completing the task that they never actually get anywhere. The magic is in the combination of the two, but here is the rub: it is going to take more intentionality and focus to do both of these together than to do them separately. So even though much more energy is going to be required of you, it is also one of the most important things that you can invest that energy into in your life. Having a mentor who has either already achieved the goals that you are looking to achieve, or is at least further down the road towards achieving them, will give you a leg up in setting these goals and also greatly enhance your chances achieving them.
Don’t allow yourself to go week after week, month after month, and year after year of your life not accomplishing the things you ultimately want to achieve. Dream big, set incremental SMART goals, and find a mentor to guide you. These are critical factors in helping you take the steps toward creating ultimate fulfillment in your life. You've got this.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: 80000hours.org
I was recently listened to an episode from Simon Sinek's 'Optimism' podcast and he said something that really got me reflecting. Paraphrasing, he said, "There is this entire section of the bookstore called 'Self Help' and not a single section called 'Help Others.' We are all so obsessed with trying to find that elusive thing called 'happiness' that we aren't reading books on how we 'can be happy' and impact other people." I thought this was so powerful. A while back, I wrote about why people should stop chasing happiness and instead start seeking fulfillment. Our belief is that the greatest path to fulfillment is serving, helping and impacting others. This is not a destination, it is a journey; it is an infinite game. If you want to create and ultimately leave a legacy, your work is never done.
In Simon Sinek's book, 'The Infinite Game," he discusses that in an infinite game, you can change the rules, help other players and evolve together instead of trying to hold each other down. Simon Sinek explains the five essential practices to adopting an infinite relationship:
These are really good reflection pieces to make the shift from a finite to an infinite mindset. That evolution takes time and takes intentionality. That evolution encourages us to clearly define our values, mission and purpose. When we operate in alignment with our values, mission and purpose, we can start to move towards a 'help others' paradigm and away from a 'help myself' commonality.
"When your life gets to the stage of being mindful and concerned with impacting and blessing lives, then you are pursuing wholeness as an individual."
-Sunday Adelaja, The Mountain of Ignorance
Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in personal development. I also believe, however, there has to be purpose-driven action; there has to be service to others, or we simply become constipated with information, but lack the application and intention. Society has built this very numbers-driven, results oriented, question/answer approach. We are pushed to focus on the finite instead of the infinite. If we are aligning values, mission and purpose with our activity, our journey and our processes; I believe, we can find much more joy and fulfillment in life.
"In weak cultures, people find safety in the rules. This is why we get bureaucrats. They believe a strict adherence to the rules provides them with job security. And in the process, they do damage to the trust inside and outside the organization. In strong cultures, people find safety in relationships. Strong relationships are the foundation of high-performing teams. And all high-performing teams start with trust."
-Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game
Culture = Values + Behavior
When we focus on relationships, built on trust, integrity and transparency; the shift becomes more clear from 'me' to 'us,' from 'help myself' to 'help others.'
Enjoy the journey,
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: cdn1.neurohacker.com
Recently I posted an Instagram Reel on Brandon and my approach to setting goals on an annual business and what that process looks like. I had some people ask about it, so I wanted to give some more content to readers. To preface, we don't just set annual goals, we look at these different aspects monthly, weekly and in a lot of instances, on a daily basis. I do understand that setting goals at the New Year is cliché, but for us, over the past 10+ years, it has been a paramount reflection exercise. Also a disclaimer: our approach may not work for you, this is what works for us. I am merely sharing our strategy and mindset.
Every New Years Eve, Brandon and I sit down and have a quality conversation and self analyze our previous year's goals. We look at which goals were wins for us and which provide an opportunity to grow or reset. We are a bit old school with this, but we physically write out our goals on paper and color coordinate it. We do that so that we can post our goals on our vision board. This puts our goals out in front of us and serves as a daily reminder.
Now, we work to set goals for the next year. We always start first with writing down our personal vision and mission. This is critical, so that we can align our goals with what we are ultimately looking to create. We set specific goals in 10 areas. In each area, we set 1-3 subgoals. We look at:
Regardless of what areas you may choose to set goals within, write them down. We believe it is important to internalize your commitments. I frequently share that change is inevitable, but growth is optional. We encourage people not to mindlessly let a year pass by, but get strategic and systematic about what you are looking to accomplish.
“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own."
-Mark Victor Hansen
We wish you and your family an abundant New Year.
Brandon & Amanda Wood
Photo Credit: reward-strategy.com
The predominant thought amongst many immature individuals who are success-driven in their given field, is that ultimate success will require them to be cutthroat and emotionally detached from those around them. This couldn't be farther from the truth. It is possible to hold high standards for yourself and others while still treating people with the respect that they deserve. This is much easier for us to wrap our minds around when we understand that while people do have unequal value in the marketplace (i.e. education, experiences, etc...), we are all of equal value has human beings.
Think about the last time you felt anger or hatred towards someone. This occurred because internally you were dehumanizing them. You likely boiled them down to a certain set of actions they took or things that they said. You then established a story in your mind about who they were and came to the conclusion that they were internally "bad." Humans can only feel real hatred of people they are dehumanizing in their heads. It is when we are reminded of the full humanness of someone that the hatred fades away and empathy begins to pour in.
Empathy does not mean agreeing with everyone or their actions. And just because we are empathetic towards others does not mean that people won't cast judgements on us...no matter how unfair they may seem. The only way to avoid shade is to never go outside. Don't let other people's shade prevent you from stepping into your destiny.
As important as identifying what you want to accomplish is determining WHO you want to be. When you know who you want to be, the path to what you want to accomplish becomes much more clear. We believe that if you are acting out of your true self, and leading from the heart, you will create a much bigger impact on the world around you. This is the way to living a fulfilling life, regardless of what you are called to do.
So while we all crave success in our endeavors (whatever that definition means to you), HOW we arrive at those destinations in life and the way that we treat people along the way are just as important. Set boundaries, establish your standards, but always remember to lead with empathy.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: tlnt.com
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Growing up, I had this perception that either your a success or your a failure. I spent my childhood pursuing avenues/ ventures that I was good at and really avoiding what I was not good at. This is human nature. Failure, however, is necessary for growth. Every failure is an opportunity to get better and grow, especially if you are learning and implementing feedback.
So where does this 'failure is fatal' mentality in our culture stem from? I believe it stems from an unwillingness to change; to shift the paradigm and implement corrective measures. It is easier to remain stuck sometimes than it is to pivot and change.
The reality is this: failure teaches you in ways success cannot. It shapes you as a person and makes you more resilient. Failure also teaches responsibility. We become more responsible and aware of our actions and begin to understand the order of consequences.
Inc. Magazine wrote an article, "7 Powerful Ways to Turn Every Failure Into Success," and I remember reading this article years back in a time when I needed a 'check-up from the neck up.' I wanted to introduce to you the 7 strategies and how I've implemented them over the past 5-6 years:
1. Mistakes are not a problem, but not taking the opportunity to learn from them is.
*SELF REFLECTION has been key here. Not to beat myself up or over-analyze, but to implement better systems and to reset.
2. Be careful how you talk to yourself, because you are listening.
*AFFIRMATIONS are a must! One thing that I recommend to people that I mentor is to record 'I am' statements in your own voice and play them to yourself on a daily basis. Literally speak what you want into existence.
3. It's far better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.
*I stay in ACTION MODE. I believe that an idle mind and body is the breeding ground for negativity and chronic stagnation. I'd rather do something then do nothing at all.
4. We are products of our past, but we don't have to let our mistakes define us.
*Get COUNSELING. There is a lot of stigma around 'counseling,' but to be completely honest, you cannot do it on your own. I believe you can't help others if you don't first help yourself.
5. The enemy of success is fear of failure.
*CHALLENGE YOURSELF. I'm super competitive by nature and the only way I know to conquer fear is by stretching your comfort zone. Do something, ANYTHING on a day to day basis that challenges you. How can you get 1% better today?
6. Consistent action creates consistent results.
*BOOKENDS have changed my life. You can't control what happens everyday, but you can put structure into your morning and evening routines that will set you up for better success day in snd day out. I truly believe that people that fail to plan, plan to fail. PERIOD. You are a product of your habits and systems of implementation.
7. You can't do it alone--and you don't have to.
*ACCOUNTABILITY keeps it fresh. Whether it is a gym partner or a mentor, having systems of accountability is key. Brandon and I always say that will power is not on will call. Let's face it, it is easy to make excuses to ourselves. We need people to back us up through successes and through failures.
Recently I heard that it is not about becoming the best version of yourself, it is about loving and learning through every version of yourself, so that you can have a journey of growth. Let that sink in. That journey is going to be filled with successes and failures, setbacks and comebacks, positive and negative, but it is ultimately your journey. It is an opportunity to grow into the next version of yourself and still appreciate the last version.
Thanks for reading!
Amanda & Brandon
Photo Credit: nationalgeographic.com
Life doesn't care about the validity or righteousness of your excuses...life is going to continue to move forward regardless of what happens to you. There will be some days on your journey where this statement will ring true more than most. From the seasons of the year to the stock market, life is all about ebbs and flows. The trick for most people is knowing the proper way to react when they are in an ebb or flow. Unfortunately we find that many times people do the exact opposite of what they should do when they are in one of these seasons of life.
Most people make decisions based upon the whims of their emotions in the moment instead of gaining perspective and properly disseminating the correct move to make. Therefore they have a tendency to stop doing the things that were helping them to gain positive traction and now begin to coast when they are on the peaks, and make brash irrational life altering changes when they are in the valleys. Some of the best advice we ever received from our mentors was to never make major decisions when we were on a peak or in a valley in our lives. The practical application of this, however, is easier said than done. So what are things that you can do to help you gain perspective?
1. Think - This is easier said than done. Most people don't take the time to critically think because it's hard. It is important though that you mentally and physically slow down for a moment and critically think through all of the ways that you can proceed forward. This will allow you to see all of your options so you can determine the best path to take.
2. Gain outside perspective from people with the results you want - 'The results you want' is a big key component to that statement. It is easy to gain advice from people who have an emotional tie to us, but it is more important to seek advice from the individual who has the results that we want because they have most likely gone through similar peaks and valleys on their journey.
3. Take action - It's easy to use strategy as a disguise for non-action. Don't allow yourself to indulge too long in the feeling of how great it is going to be. Instead, once you have a plan it's now time to get into the action mode. It's action that makes us intensely happy. It's the pursuit of a worthwhile dream or goal that brings us joy. As General George S. Patton once said: "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."
Throughout your life there will be many peaks and valleys that you will go through, but this is also what makes the journey of life so worth it. Without the peaks our valleys would cause life to be and arduous existence, but without the valleys our peaks would not be as special as they are. Whether you find yourself living on "Cloud 9" or stuck in a rut, remember that these are all part of what makes life as beautiful as it is. Then utilize the 3 steps outlined above so that you can move forward in the most efficient manner and create the life that you are looking for.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: nesslabs.com
In September, our baby girl turns one. We are fortunate to be able to spend every day with her and have been blessed to see her hit milestones throughout this past year. We wanted to write a post in honor of her first year. There's a quote by Paulo Coelho, "A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires." It got us reflecting on how much insight, and frankly foresight, we've developed over the past year. This is 12 life lessons we've observed for these 12 months we've been blessed with this special little lady in our life.
Life Lessons From a One Year Old
Honestly I could go on and on, but I'll just stop here. Becoming a parent, has helped us grow mentally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Truth is, we need her just as much as she needs us. We are lifelong team in each other's growth. We believe we are destined for greatness!
“Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” –Lady Bird Johnson
Thanks for being part of our life,
Brandon & Amanda
Happy Birthday, Precious Jade!
Love, Dad & Mom