From the Life Coaching Deck (5): Making Money Addiction

Money stackWhen I was about 15 years old, I learned the hard way that sometimes you want things and only when you get them, you realize they were not what you wanted. Addiction is like this too – you want something and shortly after you get what you want, you realize it was not what you wanted.

As a life coach, I talk a lot about wanting. I believe wanting is essential in life. It is the driving force of our existence. But today, I want to tell you about a session on my life coaching deck that reminded me again why the question “Why?” is as important as the question “What?” Chris, one of my wonderful clients, taught me a wonderful lesson about what happens when you do not know why.

All I knew about Chris was that he was a businessman in his early fifties, married, with no kids and a lack of motivation who was looking for a life coach. Nothing special. We all have those periods in our life when we just find it hard to get up in the morning.

This is what I told myself when I prepared for his session. The first time he came, when I opened the door, I saw from the corner of my eyes a classy Mercedes Benz parked outside. Well, the first thing I could think of was “Oh my god, what a beautiful car”. I have to say it made me more curious about the reason he came. I thought that car was the result of lots of motivation.

“Why are you here, Chris? What do you want?” I asked him.

He looked confused. “I really don’t know. I think something’s wrong with me”.

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How Time Flies

Girl at 4 agesLife happens so intensively and so rapidly we do not get many chances to reflect on it. Parenting children is a long and important part of our life, so when we live it every day, it is easy to feel things will always be this way – homework, bedtime stories, teaching new kills, the heavy responsibility and the fantastic moments of joy.

But it is not. Time flies when you are having kids.

In the past few weeks, Ronit and I have done some reflection and some planning. Last week, we went away on our own for a couple of days and spent most of that time dreaming about the future and coming to many important realizations about how our life will change.

In 3 weeks, Tsoof will be graduating from high school. In 5 months, he will be going to university. In less than a year, he will get his driver’s license.

In just over a year, Eden will finish her Bachelor’s degree and start working in psychology, while she continues to study. Shortly after that, Noff will start going to high school (she is our baby and she is only 10 now, but this is what will happen, whether we believe it or not).

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3 Kinds of Happiness

Happy mother and daughterOne of my clients runs a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Personally, he has been through every drug and drink known to man and suffered emotionally before, during and after his addiction periods.

He describes a drug user’s life as the chase of highs that never ends. He says that highs last less and less time and the in-between periods become more and more difficult and stressful.

That made me think about the way life seems to be going for many people these days and about how we are being encouraged from every direction essentially to live the life of drug addicts or alcoholics. Our drugs are legal, but we are no less dependent on them and they do us a very similar amount of harm.

Our drugs are money, fame, gadgets, brand names, number of followers on Twitter, number of fans on Facebook, trophies and grades, our kids’ trophies and grades, rank or title at work, the size of our house, the model of our car, being up to date with the latest gossip, our highest level at some video game and so on. They may not be chemical, but they are all addictive. We chase them, they give us a short “high” and then we need to go after the next “hit”.

People who live like this are never happy. Not really. They are very happy occasionally for a little while, but most of the time, they feel frustrated, stressed and depressed.

But is the way to happiness not through reaching a comfortable life with all the trimmings?

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Purpose: To Be a Great Dad

Happy whacky dadIn the hierarchy of needs, survival comes first, then comfort and then meaning. We perceive purpose as a luxury that can only be based on a sufficient handle on life. But sometimes, we go through a strong experience that makes us change this order and brings us to choose meaning over comfort.

It just so happens there was a strong experience in my life that changed my priorities (see 35-hour baby) and brought me to the conclusion that being a great dad is what makes my life meaningful. It did not happen quickly, though. I carried sadness in me for nearly 10 years and had to see a therapist to get out of it.

But the final change happened while I was training to be a life coach. We had covered goal setting, beliefs, values, rules, needs and long-term goals. We had experienced great personal growth and refined our coaching techniques. Then, we got to Purpose.

To many religious Western people, purpose seems almost obvious: to serve God or maybe to be good enough to make it to Heaven. To many Eastern religious people, it might be to be kind or to reincarnate as a higher being.

But when you sit down and try to write a clear description of your life’s purpose, you can scratch your head for a really long time and then realize you have simply never thought about it. It is one of these things we associate with big words and famous people, like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, but seem too big for us mere mortals.

Yet, there is a way to come up with your purpose in life, which I would like to share with you. After that, I will make it even easier still.

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Borrow from Tomorrow

SunriseAs every philosophy will tell you, we live in the present and every decision we make today affects everything that will happen to us for the rest of our lives (and even later, according to some philosophies). This makes decisions difficult, because we are simply surrounded by the present, with its pressures, people and events, sometimes to the point of drowning.

When my oldest nephew turned 18, everyone congratulated him on becoming an adult. When my turn came, this is what I said to him

The main difference between kids and adults is that kids live for today and adults know there is a future. Becoming an adult doesn’t happen when you turn 18. It happens when you decide to take responsibility for your own future

Let’s say you have a leak in your roof. At first, you see some signs of moisture in the ceiling after heavy rains and those signs disappear some time after the rain stops. If you do nothing, you can keep going like this for months, maybe even a couple of years.

Then, the moisture brings in termites or mold or just mixes in with the roof and ceiling material and you start getting the occasional drip. Sure, it is no fun, but a bucket under it can catch the water for a while, maybe until another rainy season blows over.

Eventually, it no longer helps to paint over the moisture spots in the summer and using rags and buckets to capture the water that trickles down from the roof, because the roof just caves in.

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Life Coaching for Kids?

Cute baby going for big cupA few months ago, an Australian reporter called me to ask what I thought about life coaching for kids. She said, “There is now a growing trend of parents taking their children to a life coach. Isn’t that ridiculous? I mean, putting such pressure on kids from such a young age to perform… I see that you offer life coaching for kids. What do you think about this trend?”

Apparently, this topic had been mentioned on one of the morning shows on TV and the reporter cleverly turned it into a debate. She started her article with “Children as young as five are being taken to ‘life coaches’ by concerned parents pushing their youngsters to get their little lives on track”, which immediately set a confrontational tone to the discussion.

The article was then syndicated to other papers and read by other media outlets, which got me on radio a couple of times, in another paper and nearly on TV (we shot the piece with actual clients of ours, but another channel beat “us” to air and it was never shown). The whole hullabaloo was fueled by the inflammatory tone of all those interviews along the way.

So really, do parents “send” their kids to life coaches? Is that a form of performance pressure from the parents? Is it good for the children to see a life coach? How old is old enough for kids coaching? What do they get out of it? Is this something you should consider for your own child?

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Just Keep Swimming

SwimmerIf there is one thing I used to worry about often, it was making the wrong decision. As you may know from previous posts, there is no such thing as a wrong decision. At any given time, we make the best choice available to us. It is only in hindsight that we can say whether the decision was right or wrong, good or bad. More importantly, indecision is often what holds us back, because not deciding is the same as choosing to keep things as they are.

So what we need to do is to “just keep swimming”. We need to make a decision and follow wherever the path may lead us. Along the way, we can adjust, alter, shift, and change, but doing nothing can be worse than picking the “wrong” path.

There is a perfect quote about this:

When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us
– Alexander Graham Bell

My brother Tsoof is going into his final year of high school this year and needs to pick a direction for next year. This is a tough topic and often times when we cannot seem to choose, we do nothing. A friend of mine is also experiencing something similar and even I have a story of my own, so I want to share these with you. This is something that has taken me a little while to grasp and now, the knowledge has served me well. Maybe you will glean some insight and be able to pass it on to your kids too.

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The art of Excellence (3): Risk, success and happiness

Little by little one walks farThere is a beautiful story about 2 sales people of a shoe company sent to a deserted African country to examine business potential. The whiner calls his boss and says, “People here walk barefoot. They do not wear shoes at all. Our sales potential is zero”. The winner calls his boss and says, “People here walk barefoot. They do not wear shoes at all. We have no competition. The whole market is ours for the taking”.

Every success involves risk. It may sound funny, but the greater the risk, the greater the achievement. Poor people consider risk takers foolish, but those who excel will tell you that no achievement is ever accomplished by staying in your comfort zone.

The “comfort zone” is a very dangerous place, because it repels creativity and success. The comfort zone is the place where you welcome your fears with open arms and keep them company. There is nothing wrong with relaxing from time to time and resting before climbing the next mountain, but when we get too comfortable, out choices are eventually limited to getting up or drowning.

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The art of Excellence (2): Fighting poverty

Life is like a play. It is not the length but the excellence of the acting that matters
– Seneca

When one door closes, another door opensYou see, luck has nothing to do with success and all the successful people will tell you that most of their success did not fall from the sky but there was some opportunity they were able to recognize. Developing the attitude to recognize opportunities is mistaken for some mystical luck similar to winning the lottery.

When my son was preparing for a competition, I told him the lottery story. This story is a ticket out of poverty. Take every opportunity to use it.

Every Friday, the archangel Gabriel went down to the Wailing Wall to pick up the notes of requests people stuck on the wall during the week. Every week, he read all the notes and organized them before presenting them to God.

One day, Gabriel want to God and said, “Dear God, there is this old man who comes here every week, rain or shine, for 25 years. Every week, he begs you to let him win the lottery. He is a good, religious man and never asks for anything else. Please God, I have read his requests every week for 25 years and it breaks my heart. Can you please grant the poor man his wish?”

God said, “I would do it gladly, if only he bought a ticket”.

Winning the lottery requires luck, but it will never happen if you do not get into the game. If you complain about not succeeding, if you are jealous of other people’s success, if you have a huge list but do nothing to achieve it, God is waiting for you to buy a ticket.

Successful people do not just wish. They buy tickets.

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The art of Excellence (1): Success with high standards

He is able show thinks he is ableIn the eyes of the average person, there is something snobby in striving for excellence. For some people, possibly for most, excellence is pure luck, almost a luxurious state of living that you are either born with or not. It is no coincidence that those who think this way do not excel at many things in life.

There is a paradox in the search for excellence, because it is the result of an attitude, a habit you need to have in the first place in order to achieve it. There is something frustrating in understating what T. Alan Armstrong said, “Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship act”. It is frustrating, because it makes you think that excelling is hard work.

Excellence goes together with extraordinary success that is higher than all standards. It is frustrating because you cannot reach excellence without succeeding big time.

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