Flip The Switch

Flip the switch. What does it mean to “flip the switch”? Flipping the switch means to IMMEDIATELY shift your attitude and mindset to the opposite of your present state of mind. Just like flipping a light switch immediately creates light out of darkness, I believe we are all capable of flipping our own switch when we want to – that is, immediately creating positivity and energy out of negativity.

Is Flipping The Switch Possible For Everyone?

As I have written in a previous article, I want to be known as a consistent person. In order to be consistent however, it is absolutely necessary to be able to flip the switch. The good news is that I believe every single person has the inborn ability to do so.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I would love to be able to immediately flip the switch and drop my negativity. But I can’t. I am depressed. Nothing is going right. I can’t pay my bills. My parents are getting divorced. I just got fired from my job. I am a negative person by nature.” The list of negativity and doubt goes on and on in your mind.

Let me ask you this: if someone had a gun to your head, and demanded that you immediately stop complaining, and instead start expressing cheer, happiness, and gratitude, would you be able to do it? I think you would. Actually, I know you would. We would all find a way to stop complaining.

I believe flipping the switch comes down to the basic element of desire: do we want to flip the switch bad enough? Often times, we don’t. It is easier to complain, so we continue. The cycle never breaks.

The cycle of negativity will only end WHEN YOU DECIDE IT IS TIME FOR THE CYCLE TO END. It’s always up to you if you want to flip the switch. When a room is dark, we always prefer light, so we flip the switch. In the same way, when your attitude and mindset is dark, go ahead…flip the switch.

My Experience

I have a long history of living in a dark place in my mind. For years I allowed negativity and self-doubt to rule my mindset. If I felt sad, I would act sad. If I felt angry, I would act out in anger. If I felt tired, I would act tired. I was a slave to circumstance.

When you flip the switch, you are no longer a slave to circumstance. Instead, you are the ruler and dictator of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. What a great place to be!

Here are some simple ways I flip the switch every day:

  • When I am tired at work, I flip the switch to ENERGY. Instead of acting tired, yawning, and speaking negative to others, my energy switch allows me to carry on with enthusiasm, hustle, and spirit. Guess what eventually happens? When I flip the switch to ENERGY, eventually my brain believes it, and I forget I was ever tired in the first place!
  • When I am frustrated, I flip the switch to PATIENCE. My students will never know when I am frustrated because long before my frustration boils over, I have flipped the switch to PATIENCE. Being patient allows me to talk calmly, sincerely, and respectfully.
  • When I feel unmotivated, I flip the switch to SERVE. Laziness cannot live within an environment of servanthood, and is quickly defeated. When I feel unmotivated, I ask myself “Who can I serve, and how?”

Challenge

All of us give into our feelings and circumstance at one point or another. The key is to SLOWLY begin to change the process…instead of giving into your feelings, your feelings will give into YOUR MINDSET.

To begin slowly…here is this weeks challenge: PURPOSEFULLY FLIP THE SWITCH AT LEAST ONE TIME PER DAY.

My advice to you is to LIVE OUT A SINGLE WORD DURING THE WEEK. When you live out a word, you are required to act like it, even if you don’t feel like it. For example, if you want to be KIND this week, you will need to flip your switch to KIND even if you feel like telling someone off.

Think of a word that you want to be known as. Then, at least once a day this week, flip the switch to that word when you don’t feel like it. Slowly you will trick your brain and begin to rule your feelings.

GET BETTER!

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Temporary Inconvenience = Permanent Improvement

I Hate Traffic

A temporary inconvenience is annoying. For example, I hate construction zones. Although I love cities, construction zones in my opinion, are probably the most annoying trait of city-living.

Although my work is 100 km from my house, I take refuge in knowing that I will most likely not have to deal with construction on my commute through rural Manitoba.

However, recently, my peace has been broken as THREE construction zones have appeared along my route in the past month! Such an inconvenience!! I now take a detour that adds about ten minutes to my drive so I can avoid these monstrosities .

I have recently noticed however, that adding JUST TEN MINUTES to my drive – a very small inconvenience – has negatively affected my mood by the time I arrive at work. Like most people, I am allowing small inconveniences, that are out of my control no less, to sabotage my day.

Microscope Versus Telescope Mentality

When you look at life only through the lens of a microscope, only seeing day-to-day details, you lose sight of the future. Looking into the future requires a telescope-mentality.

So far, I have only been viewing the construction zones on my drive through the lens of a microscope! My mind constantly speaks negativity to me…”This sucks!! I already drive an hour to work, now I have to drive an extra 10 minutes! Poor me! I am a victim! People should feel sorry for me!”

However, I am neglecting to think about the obvious – the purpose of construction is to improve the condition of the road. In fact, for the past year, I constantly complained that the road was in poor condition, with potholes beginning to form. SO WHY AM I COMPLAINING WHEN PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO FIX IT?! I suppose I am a bit of a hypocrite in my thinking…

The point is, if you want to improve, if you want your environment to improve, you will be required to experience inconveniences. In fact, the larger the inconvenience, the larger the growth and improvement.

If the construction crew worked on their project for only one day, the improvement of the road condition wouldn’t even be noticeable. However, if the crew stays working for weeks, or even months, the improvement of the road will be substantial. The temporary inconvenience of the constructions site will create a permanent improvement to the road.

Average People Never Learn To Appreciate Inconveniences

If you want to live an inconvenience-free life, THEN DON’T EXPECT SUCCESS.

I have learned that successful people look at inconveniences differently. Instead of viewing inconveniences through their microscope, successful people use their telescope. Successful people see the big picture, because they have learned this principle…Temporary Inconveniences Equal Permanent Improvement.

On the contrary, average people make every effort to avoid inconveniences as much as possible. Average people only view the inconvenience with their microscope – they only see the pain associated with the inconvenience today, and not the long-term benefit that comes tomorrow.

This is why average people often live paycheque-to-paycheque; because the inconvenience of saving for the future TODAY is not worth the annoyance or pain – the detour of spending money on clothes, vacations, and restaurants  allows them to escape the inconvenience of saving.

Learn to Embrace The Inconvenience

Just like the construction zone is a temporary inconvenience that allows for a permanent improvement, here are some other examples to consider applying to your thinking and life:

  • Fitness: working out regularly is an inconvenience. It consumes time from your already busy schedule. However, the numerous physical and mental health related benefits from exercise are too important to ignore.
  • Reading: I’ve heard it said that you should be afraid of a person whose TV is larger than their bookshelf. Find time to read. Leaders are readers.
  • Studying: It’s no coincidence that students who study more, achieve more. I’d rather be known as disciplined than the world’s best gamer.
  • Nutrition: Many people would generalize that unhealthy foods taste better than healthy foods. Fair enough. However, those who are willing to be inconvenienced by taste can expect to live a longer and more enjoyable life.
  • Saying “No”: Many people struggle with saying no to others – we don’t want to inconvenience the other person. However, when we say “no” to others, we say “yes” to everything else. Try NO just once when you really want to…trust me, it’s very liberating!

Weekly Challenge

This week, I challenge you to shift your mindset. Instead of only using your microscope, use your telescope, and begin to view inconveniences as situations needed for growth and improvement in the future.

Think of ONE inconvenience that you will encounter on your journey this week. Instead of taking the detour, shift your thinking, and welcome the inconvenience into your life. Your future-self will thank you for it!

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Ho Do I Succeed In School? Part 5 – No More Excuses!

Enough with the excuses already! If you are an excuse-maker, I promise you, unless you change, YOU WILL NEVER REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL. Excuses take ownership off of you, and place them elsewhere so you don’t have to be accountable. Excuses are the calling card of the AVERAGE.

Story Time

When I was in school, I ALWAYS used excuses for failure. But, I had one excuse that I used more than any other…just like MJ and his fadeaway and AI’s crossover, this excuse was my GO-TO move.

LACK OF INTELLIGENCE! Yup…my patented “fade-away”. I failed a test? Not smart enough! Did poorly on an assignment? Not smart enough! Low grades on my report card? Not smart enough! Enrolled in summer school courses in back-to-back years because I failed? NOT SMART ENOUGH!!

You get the idea. In my young eyes, failure was never my fault. Instead, it was the fault of my genetics! For whatever reason, I told myself, I wasn’t blessed with intelligence. I was cursed with a low IQ…a crutch I convinced myself I would have to bear for the rest of my life.

Why?

Why do we invent excuses? Because the excuse makes us feel better about ourselves…even if the excuse isn’t based on reality! As a teenager, I was able to justify my poor grades and academic average on my perceived lack of intelligence. I graduated high school having never taken ownership over my poor performance…a regret I live with to this day.

For whatever reason, excuses allow failure to seem more understandable. But what most don’t realize yet, is that failure is a necessary component for growth and success (more on that in a future article).

The Truth

What is the real reason that I didn’t achieve high grades in school? The answer is very simple…I didn’t try. At all. To be completely honest, I can count the times I did homework on one hand – this includes studying for tests, exams, finishing projects, or reviewing lessons.

But…my excuse of low intelligence set me free from my laziness and poor work ethic. The excuse made me feel better about myself. It was my REASON for being lazy and not achieving.

Ownership

Ownership is another characteristic that separates  average people and excellent people. Like me in my high school days, average people don’t want to hear the truth about WHY, instead they fabricate stories (excuses) that justify and place blame elsewhere on their failure.

Late? “It’s because of the traffic.” “It’s because my alarm clock ‘didn’t go off’.” Stop making excuses, and take ownership. Leave earlier next time, and don’t let it happen again.

Didn’t finish your homework? “It’s because I had to work.”  “It’s because I had chores to do.”  “It’s because I didn’t know how to do the assignment.” Stop making excuses, and take ownership. Make time in your schedule, ask more questions, and don’t let it happen again.

Side note…If you don’t make time for something, it just means it’s not important to you. The time excuse is the lamest of them all.

It’s only when you begin to eliminate excuses and take FULL ownership over your failures that you will begin to reach your full potential.

If you are satisfied with mediocrity and never realizing what you truly are capable of, then by all means, FIRE THOSE EXCUSES OFF! However, the fact that you are still reading this article is probably an indication that you aren’t satisfied with average. Keep reading…

Are Excuses Ever Valid?

I have learned that YES, excuses can be valid! Woo-hoo!! How do you know? Here is the rule…

The next time you have an excuse, look around and check to see if anyone else has ever succeeded despite being in the same situation you are in. If nobody has ever succeed, your excuse is valid! However, it is rare.

Example…you are rude and condescending to people because you are tired. Being tired is your justifiable excuse for being a jerk! It’s not YOUR FAULT. Your rudeness is the fault of your tiredness. Phew! All good, right!!?? Nope. Why? Because there are thousands of people everyday, in locations all over the world, that are able to be kind and respectful to others despite being tired. Excuse failed. It’s lame. If others have succeeded anyway, your excuse needs some work.

Example…you cannot be successful after high school because you grew up in a low-income household and have few resources to succeed. Let me think…Jay-Z, Jim Carrey, and Shania Twain all grew up in low income families that struggled financially for years. Jim Carrey even spent a period of his life living out of his van. Shoot. I guess that excuse isn’t valid either.

Stop using your excuses as a crutch! Which brings me to my last point…

Reaching Your Full Potential

To reach your full potential, you have to eliminate excuses. It’s 100% essential to do so.

If I was honest with myself in high school, I would have had a 90 average. But instead, I chose to believe I wasn’t smart and blamed my laziness and poor grades on my intelligence. As a result, I wasn’t successful in school, and never realized my full potential.

What is your “GO-TO” excuse? I challenge you to be completely honest with yourself. Reveal your excuse, then trash it forever. It is the only way to climb higher.

I have learned that “GREATNESS IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUR EXCUSES.”

Use this week to get rid of your excuses forever. The best already have. Get better.

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How Do I Succeed In School? Part 4 – Be Consistent

Be consistent. I’ve always believed that consistency is one of the greatest attributes of success. During my first week of school, this belief was confirmed to me more than ever. Let me explain…

The experiences one faces at school are very dramatically inconsistent from day to day. Some days are great, some days are horrible, and most days are forgettable and average. You don’t have homework, your classes were interesting, and you have plans to go out with your friends after school – great day. Your partner broke-up with you, you failed your test, and your shift at work got cancelled – horrible day. You arrived to school on time, completed most of your work in class, and enjoyed volleyball practice – average day.

The key is to speak and act the same to others, no matter what type of day you are having. This is was separates the average student from the excellent student.

It may seem odd to say, but I realized this week, that as a teacher, there are actually some students that I am afraid of. I don’t necessarily mean “afraid” in the literal sense, but I am definitely unsure if I want to approach them sometimes. Why? Because of their inconsistency. Just like a rollercoaster, forever moving up and down – to new heights and lows, and everything in the middle – their words and actions also make dramatic shifts depending where life’s path is taking them on any given day. Basically, their feelings are their primary source for how they communicate with others.

 

What Type of Ship Are You?

The reason many people are inconsistent with their actions and behaviour is because they allow storms to get inside of them, and destroy their peace.

A ship can be cruising in the middle of the ocean, with water surrounding it for miles in all directions. It will be fine, serving its purpose, until a storm blows in its direction and begins to allow water on the inside. Because of the water, the ship will eventually sink once it can’t handle the weight. It will be destroyed.

Consistent people, however, don’t allow water to get on the inside. They have  an incredibly strong foundation that will not allow a storm to have any substantial impact. The wind can blow from all directions, and be surrounded by violent waves crashing all around them, but the consistent person will stay strong. Water has no way of filling the inside.

This simple analogy is the same for life. Those that are able to keep problems on the outside will be happier, stronger, and more successful. Just like the ship, the ACTIONS of consistent people will remain unaffected – they will remain strong, steadily cruising the same course as they were before the storm.

Those that allow problems to attack and destroy their inside, will eventually sink once the weight of the water becomes too great. The symptoms of allowing too much water on the inside manifest themselves in anger, depression, isolation, low resiliency, and quitting. Unfortunately, in a sea of ships at school, I have witnessed far too many sinking. When too many ships are sinking at the same time, there aren’t enough lifeboats to save them all.

Consistency and Success at School

It’s actually quite simple to see why consistent people are much more successful than those who aren’t…

  • Inconsistent people daydream in class when the lecture is boring. Consistent people take notes.
  • Inconsistent people escalate problems by screaming at their friends when they are upset. Consistent people speak calmly and resolve issues.
  • Inconsistent people are rude to others when they are upset. Consistent people earn trust and respect by controlling their feelings and always responding kindly.
  • Inconsistent people don’t study when they don’t feel like it. Consistent people study anyway.
  • Inconsistent people skip class when their friends influence them to do so. Consistent people attend class, ready to learn, leaving their friends in the hallway. It won’t take long for those same friends to stop asking you to skip, because your consistent refusals will train them to stay silent.

Aspiring to be Consistent is the Mindset of the 1%

Consistency is very difficult to achieve. Why? Because most people are inconsistent. Most people associate exclusively with inconsistent people, and most people allow their moods and feelings to dictate how they act. However, consistency requires the opposite: your thoughts, words, and actions need to be in control – then your feelings will comply A consistent person cannot be a slave to their feelings. It also really helps if you surround yourself with consistent people.

You are angry because your teacher went back on their word? Speak positively to him/her anyway. You’re upset because your friends cancelled on you, talk to them kindly anyway. You’re angry because you failed a test that you studied hard for? Speak softly to your teacher anyway. Accept responsibility.

When your thoughts, words, and actions are in control of your feelings, welcome to the 1% club, my friend. You are now consistent. You are now one of the most trustworthy people in your school. Probably in your community.

Conclusion

Get into the habit of reminding yourself to be consistent. I once had the word “consistent” as the wallpaper on my phone. When you wake up, remind yourself to be consistent. Post it in your locker. Write it on the back of your hand.  Get others to remind you. Do what you need to do to to be successful.

I challenge you to act differently this week. If you haven’t already done so, begin to chase consistency by taking control of your thoughts, words, and actions. Post it somewhere highly visible so you will be reminded of it often. Be that strong ship that stands out in a sea of mediocrity.

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How Do I Succeed In School? Part 3 – Problems Are Really Opportunities in Disguise

My Problem…or Opportunity??

The next problem you face, shift your mindset, and view it as an opportunity. Go ahead…I dare ya!

Let me explain…My personality can be a little extreme at times. I don’t like fears getting the best of me. In general, I don’t like being defeated by anything. Obviously I am not indestructible, so circumstances often do challenge and defeat me. For example, all of my life I have been afraid of heights and for some reason, being attacked by a wild animal. Wild animals range from geese to bears. Basically, I am afraid of wildlife. Wow…I feel a lot better having revealed my secret shame!

My plan this summer was to defeat both in one shot…by climbing a mountain in Alberta, Canada; which was probably filled with bears, wolves, and who knows what other kind of monsters (at least that’s what I told myself!). We had our trip booked long in advance, but during the months preceding the trip, beginning in April, my left knee started to become painful. However, being the “tough” guy that I am, I ignored the pain, only to have the pain worsen with each passing day. Finally, after seeing a doctor, I was informed that I most likely had a torn meniscus, and would be wise to rest until I could have an MRI in late October.

Well that wasn’t going to happen! I had a mountain to climb! I am a very stubborn person, and when I make my mind up to do something, I most always see it through. This was going to be no different.

When we arrived in Banff, Alberta on August 7th, I was in excruciating pain. In fact, it was the most painful day I had experienced since the knee problem began months prior! No kidding! I needed assistance just to slowly walk around town on a flat sidewalk. I even needed to find respite a few times in the cold Banff River to alleviate the tremendous pain in my knee. Basically put, I was a mess. I should have been lying on a coach somewhere with a giant icepack resting on my knee – certainly not in the Rocky Mountains contemplating climbing my first-ever mountain!

However, in a somewhat cruel twist, Sulphur Mountain, the mountain I intended to climb, is directly beside the Banff River. As I soaked my knees in the river, I stared up at the mountain. I had come all this way to climb the mountain, but my knees begged for mercy. This was a problem. Or… was it an opportunity in disguise?

There are two options if you wish to summit Sulphur Mountain – you can pay $64 to ride the gondola and chill, or you can hike the trail for free. As I stood at the base of the mountain, I stared at a 7,486 foot problem. Mountains are often used as metaphors for problems, and at that very moment, I could definitely see why!

I wasn’t going to pay $64, so I really only had one option – I was going to summit the mountain by climbing the thing! Honestly though, the deciding factor in why I chose to climb wasn’t really about the money, but instead, I needed to create a powerful real-life story that I could share with others about overcoming problems and obstacles, and the incredible feeling of victory that awaits on the other side of the battle.

Climbing Sulphur Mountain would eventually reveal itself to be the most difficult and painful physical challenge I had ever experienced in my life. On tripadvisor, the trail is only described as a “moderate” hike, but climbing uphill for two hours with a torn knee elevated my mental toughness and determination to a level that I didn’t know I had. Each step was painful. Really painful. The only reason I succeeded is because I relentlessly imagined crossing the finish line. Over and over. The finish line. Because the problem was so big – 7,486 feet – the feeling of victory was unforgettable, and worth every step of agony.

I will never forget the feeling of taking my final step, looking out over the Rocky Mountains, reaching my arms out, and taking in the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Had I quit and told myself the problem was too big for me to handle, or made an easy excuse telling myself my knees couldn’t handle the pressure, I would have never have known the incredible feeling of victory. I would never have known what I am capable of. Instead, quitting or not trying would have only confirmed to me that I am not able to defeat major problems or setbacks alone. Each problem you encounter really is that pivotal…the problem can either STRENGTHEN YOU, OR WEAKEN YOU.

Defeating the problem of Sulphur Mountain instilled within me a confidence that I am able to fight AND WIN any battle in my life. It gave me a feeling of victory that I will never forget. The battle wasn’t easy. With each step of the climb, I had to fight with everything within me not to turn around and give up. But, I am stronger because of the fight. The problem of the mountain was an opportunity for my confidence, inner strength, and physical and mental toughness to increase. Thank you problem, thank you Sulphur Mountain, I am stronger now because of you!

Conclusion

On the OTHER SIDE of every problem is a stronger you. However, the only path to the other side IS TO FIGHT, no matter how much pain you are in, or how big the problem is. As I found out, the bigger the problem, the sweeter the victory.

However, on the SAME SIDE of every problem is a WEAKER you. If you don’t challenge the problem, but instead quit or don’t even try to defeat it, you will only confirm to yourself that you are weak and incapable.

Use your next problem as an opportunity. The problem you face is only wearing a mask…shift your mindset, be EXCITED about your next problem, because on the other side of the problem is GREATNESS.

 

 

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