Tag Archives: Growth

7 Ways to Tackle Your Personal & Professional Development in 2022

Feeding Your Mind- Personal & Professional Development
Feeding- Your -Mind- Personal- &- Professional -Development

In my last post, I wrote about how some people use the new year to set new intentions, goals, and resolutions to improve their lives. Personal and professional development are two areas that they typically focus on for self-improvements. But what is the difference between the two? While personal and professional development are inextricably linked, they are not one and the same. According to Indeed, “Personal development is the ongoing act of assessing your life goals and values and building your skills and qualities to reach your potential.” Personal development efforts are usually geared towards changing mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors to improve individual effectiveness and to increase one’s satisfaction with life. On the other hand, professional development refers to any effort taken to improve one’s effectiveness and performance on the job, increase knowledge and skills and to continue learning/education after entry to the workforce.  

While making improvements in any one of these areas can result in significant progress and provide positive benefits to one’s life, not everyone takes them seriously.

Importance of Personal &Professional Development

There is a popular quote by Albert Einstein that states “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” While the quote might sound morbid, it underscores the importance of being a lifelong learner and being intentional about pursuing ongoing growth and development to stay relevant and adaptable. Yet, one of the common mistakes that some people make is, assuming that their growth and development is a destination that they get to. Truth is that life and the world around you is constantly changing, and your development is dynamic. The skills and experiences that got you from one level or stage will not take you to your next level of success. Areas of strength in one season of your life can become weaknesses in another. And the weaknesses that you considered minor at one time, can become major issues or blind spots that can undermine your interpersonal relationships and overall effectiveness. 

Therefore, to maximize your potential and increase your chances for success and fulfillment in your personal and professional life, you will need to be proactively engage in ongoing self-reflection and seek feedback to pinpoint the hard and soft skills you might need change or improve.

Who’s Responsible for Personal Growth &Development

There is a commonly held belief amongst many employees that their professional development is their employer’s responsibility. And rightly so, since employers have an obligation to invest in their talent and workforce by equipping them with the tools, skills, and knowledge they need to execute their roles in a way that meet or exceed their organization’s productivity standards. With this expectation, many employees go to work with the expectation that their supervisor and/or organization is responsible for training them and equipping them with the skills they need to be efficient and effective in their roles. While this expectation is valid and fair, the rapidly changing nature of today’s work environment now demands that, employees be proactive about their development and not rely only on mandated trainings or wait for the annual performance review where the supervisor recommends training for a performance issue as a cue for development.

This passive and reactive approach to personal and professional development can prove risky at a time when the technologies you use, the way you work, the skills you need and the demands of the customers you serve are changing quickly. The reality is, your employers might not have the necessary supports in place to help you stay relevant and build your skills. In fact, many people complain about getting promotions on the job and not being adequately trained to perform effectively or not having the time to attend trainings due to the volume of work. Therefore, though employers have a responsibility to develop their people, you must become an advocate for your own personal and professional development and ultimately take ownership for it.

Time to Own Your Development

So how can you take action to become more proactive about owning your personal and professional development?

In an age where you have unprecedented access to information at your fingertips, there is really no excuse for not investing in your personal growth and professional development.  Regardless of your interests, how you like to learn or process information, there are many different options and formats that you can use for lifelong learning and self-improvement. Here are 7 ways that you can tackle your personal and professional development in 2022:  

  1. Do a SWOT Analysis: This process will require you to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and to take intentional actions to address them. Ask trusted and objective friends, coworkers, and family members to provide you with feedback that will help you to identify behaviors you need to Stop, Start and Continue.  
  • Invest in Continuing Education:  Depending on where you are in your career, this could involve going back to school to pursue a degree or diploma to gain new knowledge or to help you switch career paths. For others this could mean attending webinars, conferences, enrolling in a course or certification program to develop a new skill or improve an existing one. Remember ongoing learning is a great resume builder.
  • Attend YouTube University: YouTube is probably one of the most underutilized or underrated ways to access learning for free. If you can think of a topic, there is content on YouTube that can help you learn more about it. So, find a topic or skill you are interested in learning about, look for credible people speaking on the topic and get learning.
  • Read, Read, Read: In this social media age where attention spans are short and people are overwhelmed with snippets of information and tweets on their timelines, it is easy to become lazy about how you access and acquire knowledge and information. Rather than relying on your feed, join a book club, read books, articles, and blogs that are related to your industry and interests to ensure that you are staying abreast of current ideas and insights to improve your personal effectiveness.
  • Listen to Podcasts: Podcasts have gained popularity in the last few years. They provide a convenient and flexible way of learning on the go. If you are not a fan of reading, you can listen to podcasts as you exercise, complete chores, do errands or while driving. And like YouTube, you can find a podcast hosted by experts on any topic for free. So, search for podcasts apps on your devices and start listening.
  • Volunteer: Whether it’s at work or in your community, volunteering to serve on project teams or committees can be a great developmental tool and a way to build your network, learn new skills, help others, and pay it forward.  
  • Follow Subject Matter Experts on social media: Apart from showcasing the highlight reel of your life and that of others, social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Meta can also provide you with access to thought leaders who teach and share content/ideas that can inspire you to action or provide resources you can use for your development. Be sure to find these experts and follow them.

In conclusion, pursuing a path towards personal and professional development will require deliberate effort on your part and changes to how you spend your limited free time. Although it might seem overwhelming at first, enlist the support and help of trusted and objective coworkers, friends, and family members to help you figure out areas you need to focus on.  But ultimately, you are in the best position to act on the changes you need to make, chart your career journey, identify your next job opportunity, identify the skills and talents you need to hone to keep growing and achieve satisfaction with your life.

Until next time, “Remember ItsALearningLife! “

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How to Get More Happiness into Your Life!

Two Balloons with Happy Smiles
Two Balloons with Happy Smiles

Everyone wants to be happy, and everyone deserves to be happy. But on a scale to 1-10 (1-Low and 10-High), how happy are you? How satisfied are you with your life?

According to the World Happiness Report 2021,  the happiest people in the world live in Finland, followed by Denmark. The report suggests that these two Nordic countries have figured out the secret formula for happiness that so many people yearn for in their personal and professional lives. To determine happiness levels, the report assessed people’s happiness based on six factors: levels of GDP, life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, and corruption. Finland scored high on all these indicators because if you live there, you get to benefit from a great healthcare system, free education, five weeks of paid holiday every year. Your sick leave is paid and both maternity and paternity leave are guaranteed. With all these needs covered, it should come as no surprise that the Finns are happy indeed. But what about the rest of us? And what does happiness mean?

The Importance of Happiness

In her book The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky defined happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” Research suggests that happy people are kinder, more helpful, more productive at work, more creative, enjoy better health, and are better able to cope with stress and trauma. Additionally happy people are better able to build and maintain healthy and positive relationships in their personal and professional lives. However, unhappy people find it much more difficult to turn outward and to consider others beyond themselves. 

With all the obvious benefits of happiness, why are so many people unhappy? In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shaw Anchor explains that in today’ society, there is a commonly held assumption that if you work hard you will be successful. And if you become successful, you will be happy. But Anchor argued that this formula is backwards, since success does not lead to happiness, instead happiness fuels success.  He explains that every time we achieve success in an area of our life, we move the goal post to the next milestone we want to achieve. And if happiness is on the other side of success, happiness becomes an elusive thing that we are constantly in pursuit of- but remains constantly out of reach. He argues that if we reverse this formula, and change the way we think, we are much more likely to achieve happiness.

Anchor also points out that people who are rich aren’t necessarily happier. While money is required for well- being and happiness, it doesn’t guarantee it. Because once you get to a certain amount dollar amount, money doesn’t result in higher levels of happiness. People who pursue only money, nice things or surroundings aren’t happier than people without. Therefore, balance is the formula for happiness

How to Deal With Happiness Blockers

It is important to note that humans are complex beings with a range of emotions, and no one is happy all the time. The absence of happiness isn’t sadness and not being sad doesn’t mean you are happy. In fact, the Happiness Rule states that  “50% of our happiness is determined by genetics, 10% by our circumstances and 40% by our internal state of mind.” This means that to a large extent, happiness is a choice and our overall satisfaction with our lives is influenced by how we think and our mindsets. Our happiness isn’t determined by external events, but by how our minds process them. Therefore, just as we focus on the negatives around us, we can change and train our brains into having a more positive mindset. So, are your thoughts getting in the way of you being happy?

According to M. J. Ryan,  author of the book Happiness Makeover,  each of  have particular mental habits that keep us from experiencing the maximum happiness we could feel at any given moment. She points out that some the most common blockers of happiness are:

  • Negative self-talk and perceptions of the world around you.
  • Feeling discontent with what you have and where you are in life.
  • Worrying about things you cannot control
  • Regretting decisions and experiences.
  • Being envious of others or comparing your life to others.
  • Focusing on failures and disappointing outcomes.
  • Holding grudges against others or being in conflict.
  • Striving for perfectionism.

So, which of these blockers do you struggle with?

As a “recovering hyper-achiever”, I have repeatedly been told by friends that I don’t celebrate my wins long enough. As soon as I have reached a personal goal or professional achievement, I move to tackle the next one. While this works for being ambitious and driven, the dark side is that, this can produce a feeling of discontent, as I don’t always pause to celebrate or savor the moments/achievements despite how hard I worked to get there. As a result, the moments of joy and happiness are short lived or never fully acknowledged or celebrated.  

Happiness Loading..Please Wait
Happiness Loading..Please Wait-Image

How To Improve Your Happiness and Well-being

I’ll be the first declare that I am no happiness coach, nor do I have happiness all figured out. I am on my own journey to discovering and doing more of what makes me happy to improve my overall well-being. So, while happiness is a subjective and emotional state and your source of happiness might be different from mine, there is consensus that happiness is something we can all cultivate and is not just a benefit to be enjoyed by the rich, successful, or famous.  

So here are some suggested tips from Action for Happiness that you can use to improve your happiness and get more satisfaction in your life:

  1. Do things for others: Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them; it’s good for us too. So, if you want to feel good, do good.
  2. Connect with people: Our relationships with other people are the most important thing for our happiness. People with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
  3. Take care of your body: Our body and mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as healthier. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of depression.
  4. Keep learning: Learning affects our wellbeing in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged.
  5. Have goals to look forward to: Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these have to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable.
  6. Find ways to bounce back: All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. How we respond to these events has a big impact on our wellbeing. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to what happens.
  7. Take a positive approach: Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration and pride – don’t just feel good when we experience them.
  8. Be comfortable with who you are: Nobody’s perfect. But so often we compare a negative view of ourselves with an unrealistic view of other people. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got (See previous post)– makes it much harder to be happy.
  9. Be part of something bigger: People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. You might find meaning and from doing a job that makes a difference, your religious or spiritual beliefs, or your family. While the answers vary for each of us, they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.

At the end of the day, it is not what is happening that makes us happy or unhappy. It is how we respond that determines that. Don’t outsource your happiness to other people and external circumstances. Our happiness is our responsibility.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

Want to Take Decisive Action? Try The 5 Second Rule!

Compass- Pointing- to -Take- Action
Compass- Pointing- to -Take- Action

Typically, when you hear about the 5 Second Rule, it is talking about the amount of time you have to quickly pick up a piece of food that has fallen to ground. This article is not about that 5 second rule but my latest summer book pick – The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. In her book the 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins offers up a new tool that we can use to take decisive action, overcome procrastination, hesitancy, and self-doubt to improve our lives, relationships, happiness, and work. Robbins points out that the 5 Second rule can be particularly helpful in situations where people are struggling with changing behaviors, finding the courage to do things that are new and scary and with controlling emotions and negative thoughts.

What is the 5 Second Rule?

The 5 Second Rule  is based on the idea that “there is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind killing it. This is the 5 second window and it exists for everyone. She explained that “the moment you have an instinct to act on a goal (See post on SMART Goals) you must count down 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move to act on it or your brain will stop you. This is because when you need to act or have important decisions to make, your brain will kill the idea or impulse to act as you become overwhelmed by fear, doubt or become paralyzed by overthinking.   

To overcome this, Robbins recommended that you count backwards (5-4-3-2-1) as this mentally shift the gears in your mind. This mental shift then interrupts your default thinking and do what psychologists call “assert control.” By counting, you distract yourself from your worries, excuses and you can focus your mind on a new direction. And when you physically move instead of stopping to think, your physiology changes and your mind falls in line.

So, think of that one thing you truly want to do, that goal that you know you should be pursuing or that decision that you have been hesitating on and use the 5 second rule to count down 5-4-3-2-1 and then act. You can apply the 5 second rule to something as simple as making the decision to get up off the couch and exercise, to applying for a job, speaking up in a meeting, having that difficult conversation or deciding to move forward in your life.

 5 Second Countdown
5 -Second -Countdown

How to Use the 5 Second Rule

According to Robbins, you can use the countdown of 5-4-3-2-1 to push yourself to take simple actions towards your goals which will create a chain reaction since each actions improves your productivity and builds your confidence. This in turn increases your belief in your ability to control your life and make meaningful progress with your goals. So, whenever you feel an instinct fire up to act on a goal or a commitment, or the moment you feel that yourself hesitating to do something you know you should do, use the 5 second rule.

How to Apply the 5 Second Rule?

According to Robbins, here is how you can apply the rule to change your life:

  • First: “The moment you have an instinct…”

The first thing to note is that “An instinct is not a rash, irreversible decision. It’s not destructive, illegal, or harmful behavior.” Mel Robbins defined an instinct as any urge, impulse, pull, or knowing that you should or should not do something because you can feel it in your heart and gut. These are instincts of the heart. They are moments when your heart speaks to you. We all have our own unique brand of wisdom, made up of our experiences, intuition, and DNA. In those small, 5 second moments, when this wisdom bubbles up inside of you, the urges are your instincts. They are the “knowing” that you should do something even if you don’t “feel” like doing it. 

  • Second: “To act on a goal…”

The second element of the Rule that is critical for you to understand is that it’s not just about acting on any instinct, it’s an instinct that’s tied to a goal. For example, you might have an instinct at get from the couch and go for a run. In this case, if you act on this instinct, you bring yourself one step closer to your dream of transforming your health. Research has shown that our gut is our “second brain.” Do you ever get a feeling in your gut telling you what to do? We get these “gut feelings” when our hearts and minds are trying to tell us something. And usually, these gut impulses are tied to greater goals.

  • Third: “You must push yourself…”

The third element of the 5 Second Rule is that you must push yourself. The Rule is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone even when you don’t want to. It’s about taking control of your own life, one push at a time. When the moment comes where you feel the instinct to do something related to that important goal, this becomes your window of opportunity. But if your brain senses fear or doubt, it will shut this instinct down in an effort to protect you. Nevertheless, you can take control to do what you need to do to change your life and move towards your goals.

  • Fourth:  Move within 5 seconds…”

Physical movement is key. All you need to do is move in the direction of your instinct. If you do not take physical action within 5 secondsyour brain will kill the instinct. So just start your countdown at 5 and then go take action. Robbins also stressed that while the rule is simple, it isn’t easy and will only work if you do it.

  • Fifth: “Or your brain will kill it.”

If you don’t physically move within 5 seconds, your mind will kill your dreams. According to Robbins, your brain is like an overprotective, irrational, “helicopter” parent. It thinks it’s keeping you safe when in fact it is keeping you from growing as a person, stretching yourself in your business, and fully experiencing life. One of your brains most basic job is to protect you. It does this by keeping us away from anything that feels scary, hard, or uncertain.

Final Thoughts on the 5 Second Rule

If you are struggling with procrastination or are prone to overthinking like me, the 5 Second Rule offers a valuable tool for us use our courage to take decisive action. And while it might seem like a simple or a rash way to make decisions that can have a life changing impact, the rule does not advocate that you do this “blindly” or that you use it to make quick decisions that might harm you. Instead, the rule urges us to consider those long-standing goals that we sometimes get stuck with because of overthinking and doubt and to be intentional about doing the things that we know will make our lives better off. So, the 5 second rule should be applied to those small and incremental steps you need to take to get to that all important goal.

In the words of Mel Robbins, “Life is already hard, yet we make it so much harder when we listen to our fears and convince ourselves to not take action.” So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by fear or doubt about something you know you need to do – give the 5 second rule a try.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

Peaks and Valleys: 8 Ways to Make Them Work for You!

Life is a Journey- Color Sign
Life- is- A- Journey-Image

Are you at a peak or in a valley? If you are reading this article, chances are you might be dealing with a difficult season, have just come out of a one or are heading into a challenging period in either your personal or professional life. But in this age of social media, where we are bombarded with images of people living their “best lives” through their highlight reels, it is easy to believe that some people have all the luck, while you are struggling or feeling stuck. Truth is, nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. Life is a every changing journey, filled with peaks and valleys or highs and lows that each of us go through. Since no one gets to go through life without experiencing peaks and valleys, how can we make the most of these peaks and valleys to make them work for us?

The Peaks and Valleys of Life

My latest read Peaks and Valleys  by Spencer Johnson,  answers this question by explaining that- when people know how to make good times and bad times work for them, they worry less and do better. And ultimately, they become easier to live and work with. According to Johnson, peaks and valleys refer to those high and low moments we experience throughout our lives. The peaks typically represent our successes and the moments we celebrate, feel good and content. On the other hand, valleys are seen as times of struggle, anger, disappointments, unhappiness, and failures. But that is not the sum of it. There is still good in the valleys. Valleys also provide opportunities for development and growth and can serve as preparation for climbing the next peak of our lives.

As I read the book, I found the simple yet deep insights of the peaks and valley approach helpful to rethinking my own approach to dealing with personal high and low moments.  So here are my top 8 top takeaways from the book that I hope might be useful to you as you make your personal peaks and valleys work for you:

Photo Showing Peaks and Valleys
Peaks- and -Valleys-_Photo by Temo Berishvili on Pexels.com

How to Deal with Peaks and Valleys

  1. It is natural for everyone everywhere to have peaks and valleys at work and in life: Personal peaks and valleys are as natural as the physical peaks and valleys you see in the landscape all around you. Peaks and valleys are scattered all around us and are connected in similar ways. You can feel “up” in one area of your life (career) and down in another (relationships). We all have ups and downs, and no two people experience similar situation the same way- we are all different.
  1. Peaks and valleys are not just the good and bad times that happen to you. They are also how you feel inside and respond to outside events. How you feel depends on how you view the situations you are faced with. The important thing is to separate what happens to you from how you feel about yourself as a person. Losing your job does not make you a lousy employee, nor does getting a divorce make you a failure. Separate your emotions from the act/event itself. You are still good, worthy, and valuable even if a bad thing happened to you. You can still feel good about yourself even when bad things are happening to you.
  1. Peaks and valleys are connected. The errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrow’s bad times. And the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times. There is no sharp difference between where the highest part of the valley ends, or the lowest part of the peak begins. Similarly, our physical and personal peaks and valleys are connected. A lot of what you and I will experience in the future will be determined by the choices we make in the present. This includes choices about how we spend our time and money, whether we invest in ourselves and the right relationships. When we waste our resources, make poor choices, and lose sight of what matters most, we are creating your own future bad times.
  1. Peaks are moments when you appreciate what you have. Valleys are moments when you long for what is missing. How you experience a valley has a lot to do with how you spend your time in it. We are all sometimes guilty of turning our peaks into valleys by what we choose to focus on. When we do not celebrate our small wins and the progress we have made and just focus on what is missing or lacking, we can change our personal peaks into valleys. Negative thinking (See previous post) can create valleys in our own minds even when good things are happening to us, and our goals are being achieved. One way we do this is by comparing ourselves to others and using their situations to determine how well we are doing. If you want to have fewer valleys, avoid comparison. Plus, we do not get to stay in our peaks and valleys forever.  The secret is to truly appreciate and enjoy the time for what is while you are living it.
Love Live EKG -Image
Love- Life- EKG-Image
  1.  You cannot always control external events.  But you can control your personal peaks and valleys by what you believe and what you do.  For you to change a valley into a peak, you must change one of two things: what is happening or how you feel about what is happening. If you can change the situation- great. If you cannot change the situation, change how you feel about it to make it work to your advantage. This is especially important in times when you are faced with hardship and adversity. Always look for the silver lining in the dark clouds and choose hope. Choosing to have a positive mindset usually leads to a better result.
  1. Between peaks there are always valleys. How you manage your valleys determine how soon you reach your next peak. It is easy to feel unhappy and demotivated when you are going through a valley moment. Therefore, it is crucial that you find and use the good that is hidden in a bad moment. Manage your attitude and invest in improving yourself and your skills to help you reach your next peak moment. Afterall, if you do not learn in the valley, you can become bitter. If you truly learn something valuable, you can become better.
  1. A plateau can be a time for you to rest, reflect and renew. Just as peaks bring us high moments and valleys bring us low moments, plateaus provide an opportunity for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Personal plateaus are just as natural as personal peaks and valleys and can help you pause or press the reset button on your life.  Because plateaus are a neutral zone, they can help you to assess what is happening in your lives and gain clarity about your next move and steps. The trick is not to stay at the plateau too long since nothing happens there.
  1. A great way to get to your next peak is to follow your sensible vision. Imagine yourself enjoying your better future in such specific believable detail that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there.  Here is where you create the image of your future peak (think about your big dream or SMART goal) in your mind. Imagine what your future peak will look, sound, feel and taste like. When you make your future peak clear, meaningful, and sensible to you, it will serve as the pull that gets you through your valley when you encounter challenges in making it a reality. By imagining yourself enjoying the future peak or in that better place, you will start enjoying doing whatever takes you there.

At the end of the day, it is not about trying to avoid the ups and downs of life but learning how to make the best of them. The valley prepares us for the mountain top experiences.  Challenges give us opportunities to grow. Valleys are our reminders to keep showing up. If you do not appreciate your valleys, you will not be able to fully celebrate your peaks. There is a lesson to be learned from all our personal peaks, valleys, and plateaus.

Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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Who Moved My Cheese? 7 Tips for Dealing with Change- Video

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean- Which Would You Rather Be?

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean - Pic Collage
Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean-Which Would You Rather Be- Pic Collage

On my most recent Library run, I came across a small book called The Coffee Bean (A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change) by Damon West. Curious about the title and cover, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Surprised by the simple story format and cool illustrations, I borrowed it thinking it would be an interesting and easy read. When I settled down to read it, I completed the Coffee Bean story in an hour because of its simple yet fascinating message on how to overcome adversity and create positive change.

The Coffee Bean Story

The Coffee Bean story uses the powerful analogy of a pot of boiling water and how three objects (a carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean) are changed by the heat and pressure when placed into the pot. Though the carrot goes in hard; it becomes soft from the heat and the pressure of the water. The longer the carrot stays in the boiling water, the more it loses its original form, becoming softer and softer, eventually losing its vibrant color and taste. The egg has a hard outer shell that covers its soft liquid insides, but when placed in the boiling water, the soft liquid inside begins to get hard. And if the egg stays in the water for a long time, it becomes so hard that even the hard outer shell cracks. But when the coffee bean is placed into the pot of boiling water, it transforms the whole environment and water becomes coffee. So, as small as the coffee bean is, it is not changed by its circumstances, it completely changes its environment from the inside out.

Pot of Water Boiling over Wood Fire-Photo
Pot of Water Boiling over Wood Fire

Meaning of Coffee Bean Story

The pot of boiling water represents the hardships, challenges, and adversities that you and I face in life. The carrot, egg and coffee bean represent how we respond and are affected by the various circumstances we face. I do not know what your pot of boiling water might look like, but each of us have or have had a hardship or adversity that we have struggled to overcome or are still facing. Your pot of boiling water might be a divorce or separation, a broken relationship, the loss of a loved one, infertility, illness or disease, financial hardships or the loss of a job that defined you.

When life hits you hard or knocks you down, it is easy to throw in the towel, lose sight of who you are, what you believe and to give up on the dreams you hold dear. But at the same time, we also get to choose our mindset (fixed or growth) the attitudes we display (positive or negative) to help us be resilient and overcome obstacles. So how do you respond when you find yourself in a pot of boiling water? Are you the carrot, the egg, or the coffee bean?

When I think about my own life experiences (personally and professionally), I am sometimes guilty of allowing the harshness of certain situations to change how I behave and treat others. I can think of painful life experiences that have weakened me like the carrot, reduced me to tears and left me questioning why me? In other moments, the pot of boiling water I was thrown in hardened me like an egg who became resentful of those who hurt me and even struggling to forgive. Nonetheless, adversity has made me stronger and pushed me to be more resilient(See previous post) and better. So, as a coffee bean, I have also been able to take some of my boiling pot of water moments and transform them into coffee. And in so doing, I have overcame many hardships to have a positive impact on the people and organizations I come into contact with.

Hardships and adversity challenge us and can test our determination and commitment to what we value and believe is important. But we should never allow the circumstances of life to change us (make us bitter) or cause us to act outside of our true nature and what we believe to be wrong or right. We can choose to be a coffee bean by never losing sight of who we are, the power and strength within us and our ability to change our conditions (however difficult).

Whole Coffee Beans Falling-Image
Whole Coffee Beans Falling -Image

Life Applications: Five Rules of Being a Coffee Bean

The main message of the book is that, like the coffee bean, each of us have the potential to change the environments in which we operate or be changed by them. So here are five rules from the Damon West that you can use to become a coffee bean:

1.Get up every day and work out every day:  Here the workout is not just physical, it includes spiritually and mentally.  To get and stay in shape spiritually, West recommends you have a conversation with God and ask the following questions- How did I do today? Was I a good person? Who do I need to apologize to or forgive? For the mental workout, he reminds us that we are what we eat, so pay attention to the kind of books you read, the websites you visit, shows you watch, and the kinds of music you listen to. And for the physical, be sure to exercise, get rest, and pay attention to your nutrition.

2. Serve others:  When we lend a helping hand to others without expecting to receive, we are also helping ourselves. None of us got to where we are without the help and kindness of others. So volunteer, mentor, pay it forward and actively seek ways to bless and encourage others.

3.Remember You Only Control 4 Things:  Some of us like to believe we have more control over our lives than we do. But according to the author (And I agree) the only four things we control are in our minds. This is- what you think, what you say, what you feel and what you do. Outside of that, we control nothing.  So, focus on the things you can control and other people will notice your example and you will be able to make a positive impact on the environment around you.

4.Your past does not define you. Your past is your lesson and not a determinant of your future. We should try to learn from our past but do not dwell there. Your losses and mistakes do not define you. Your present is a gift, and your future should serve as a motivation for you to become the best version of yourself each day. So ask yourself if/how the choices you make today will impact your future self.

5. Energy is about body language– Your energy and body language are what people see before you open your mouth. Pay attention to how you walk, your facial expressions, your tone of voice- we are always communicating. Your energy is contagious and can impact people positively or negatively, so ensure that you are spreading something good. And always remember to smile.

When all is said and done, we will all find ourselves in our own pot of boiling water. No one wants to be the soft and weakened carrot, nor the mad and miserable egg. All of us must strive to be the coffee bean that says, no matter how much heat and pressure I face, I will not allow my circumstances to change me. Instead, I will change and improve my environment and get stronger in the process. So, imagine your most difficult life situation and ask yourself how I can be a coffee bean?

Until next time, Remember, #ItsALearningLife!

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