Workshop: Managing Yourself and Your Stuff

Managing Yourself and Your Stuff

Maximizing Focus to Maximize Results.

When I ask people to rate their productivity from 1 to 10, most answers typically fall between 4 and 7.  I then ask, “What’s your strategy to get to an 8?” Many respond, “I don’t know.”  This workshop provides individuals with a strategy.

You see, it’s not about managing time; it’s about managing focus.  To stay ahead in the game of life one needs to work from both the inside and the outside.  Maximum focus, control, and inspiration toward your personal and professional life are generated when we:

  • Develop a strong, habitual approach, and system. Which allows us to better manage projects, emails, phone calls and interruptions—and get more done in less time!
  • Develop a strong, clear vision
  • Hold strong mindsets about “our world”
  • Understand how & why the principle of “being still” actually supports our well-being, focus and productivity

In this practical workshop, participants will develop a clear vision and identify the mindsets that prevent them from achieving their goals.  They are provided the tools to evolve their thinking and maximize their focus.  Participants will engage in hands-on activities creating a system within Microsoft Outlook® to manage their commitments that come to them via email, meetings, conference calls, interruptions and the outside world in general.


6 quick ways to be happy

Happiness sure seems to be a hot topic these days—come to think of it I guess it always has been. Since publishing Back From Heaven’s Front Porch, 5 Principles for Creating a Happy and Fulfilling Life I have discussed this topic of happiness a great deal. I’m a fan of Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize winning “doer of good deeds”. If you’ve never read about him I strongly suggest you do so here… Albert Schweitzer.

Recently, our son and I are were touring Chapman University in Orange County, CA and I noticed many busts of famous people along the campus walkways with wonderful quotations beneath them. The one that I spent the most time with was Schweitzer’s.

DB _ Schweitzer at Chapman

So I offer you six ways to generate some happiness in your life:

  1. Imagine something really good that’s going to happen in the future
  2. Write down three people you are thankful that are in your life…and why?
  3. Visit one of your favorite places
  4. Create a few minutes in a quiet place and be still…and connect to that something bigger than us
  5. Watch one of your favorite and funniest movie scenes
  6. Do something nice for someone you don’t even know…

Because as Albert Schweitzer said…

”I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know:

the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

Be well


DB _ aspen

3 Steps to move through fear

I woke up very early one recent morning filled with fear—not as an emotion, but rather as an idea to write about. I’m certain this was a little because of being on “East Coast Time”, and more so from spending a day recently in Santa Barbara working with friends and colleagues at the Hudson Institute of Coaching. This was much better than the many times in the past I’ve awoke with fear as an emotion


And so I offer you these thoughts. Over my life and coaching work I’ve seen fear arise for many reasons: perhaps the fear of going to school, or graduating and leaving school; perhaps the fear of getting into a relationship, or getting out of one; perhaps the fear of moving into a new job or a new neighborhood. Whatever the catalyst for fear, it is many times associated with change—and movement into the unknown.

When faced with fear there seems to be three options available for us. We either do nothing and freeze; taking no action. We fight through it. Or we retreat from our movement into the unknown (often called ‘flight’)—we simply stay where we are or we backpedal.

So I offer these 3 steps to move through fear:

  1. Expect it – Don’t wish for it not to show up, it almost always will. I’m not certain how we evolved to this point, I’m sure there’s a ton of research out there on this. What I do know is that when we are born and we are just little tiny people we are afraid of two things…loud noises and being dropped. Not sure about you, but these two still linger for me, and I’ve come to accept them. I also know that when fear shows up I recognize it and acknowledge it; and trust me it then becomes more workable. Think about the first time you ever went through a haunted house and a guy in a hockey mask with a chainsaw jumps out at you…yes, a good scream and “flight”. If you go through again this guy will almost certainly jump out again, but now you expect it, and are more in control of your emotions. The third time you will likely jump out at this guy before he gets to you—turning the tables and giving him a good scare. So don’t resist the arrival of fear, expect it.

2. Fight it – Fighting fear is seldom done alone. I recommend you seek support (a wonderful jckrbbt principle) from some strong friends and allies. Talk with them about the fear…where you believe it’s coming from, how you feel when it shows up, what you’re saying to yourself about it. I’d invite you to think back to a similar situation where you overcame fear and created a wonderful outcome for you, your family or team. It can also be a great idea to engage with a professional coach from time to time.

 3. Develop Vision (another jckrbbt principle) – It’s been my experience both individually, and as a coach, that fear is often the result of us developing a vision of all the negative outcomes that might arise as we cross the threshold into our unknown. It could be, “What if the other kids don’t like me.”, or “What if I cannot find a god job.”, or “What if this doesn’t work out?, or “What if I don’t like being married?”, or “What if I get stuck in this job?” or “What if my coworkers are not what they seem to be?”, or “What if we don’t like the house?”, or any number of the negative things that may get our focus. Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about….yes, there you are. And I’m with you. This vision thing is powerful, trust me, check out my thoughts on it and how it impacted me at a low point in my life Vision—for me—is the ability for us to imagine something that is not real…yet. So experiment with this the next time fear shows up at your party….stop, acknowledge the fear, and then imagine everything working out. Go a few months into your future and see in vivid detail the unknown, now known and familiar…and it’s really good and enjoyable. You’re happy; it’s all working out. Do not let fear be the result of your being focused on the wrong side of your vision. Turn it around…as George Bernard Shaw offered us, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”


Be well.






Know Thyself

“This know thyself thing is what Socrates used to talk about.” Brendan motioned to the other chair and I settled in. “It was actually inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Socrates defined it this way when he wrote:

Know thyself; know your strengths and weaknesses;

your relation in the universe; your potentialities; your spiritual heritage;

your aims and purposes; take stock of thyself.

I pointed to the papers on the table. “So what are those all about? Part of the lesson?”

“Ah, yes. I was reviewing them before you came in. They’re my notes on know thyself.” He took them off the table and pulled a paper from the small pile. “This is one my favorites, heck, they’re all my favorites. This one’s from one of the most interesting thinkers I’ve studied, Dr. William James, the grandfather of American psychology, who taught and researched at Harvard.” Brendan read it out loud, slowly.

Seek out that particular attribute which makes you feel the most deeply
and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says,
‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.

He scanned down the page. “And another one. ‘A happy life is one that is in accord with its own nature.’ That’s by the Roman philosopher, Seneca.”


The above exchange is between Brendan and Jake in my book, Back From Heavens Front Porch. It’s one of my favorite pieces of dialogue in the book. The jckrbbt principle to know thyself appears simple on the surface, but like the other four principles it is much deeper when one makes the conscious choice to go deeper; to the place where the seeds for growth germinate.

In this blog, we’ll reflect on the above quote that was inscribed at the Temple of Apollo.


know thyself

We are given the opportunity each day to gain knowledge and insight into who we are—who we really are. I believe our ‘self’ has two sides, the one we like and the other one. I read once that when two people are together there are really six. Each as they see themselves, each as the other sees them and each as they really are. Happiness and fulfillment are increased when we get to know our “real” self—both as we see ourselves and how others see us—and then align our lives to it.  This alignment is best done for all areas of our life—where we live, where we work, the type of work we do, what we believe in terms of “God/Spirit” and how and where we choose to practice this belief, and in our close relationships.


know your strengths and weaknesses

So? What do you do well? Are you good with numbers? With technology? Do you connect with people and put them at ease? All people, no matter how well you know them? Do you like to create things? Houses? Interior designs? Art? Music? Do you like to think about new ideas and possibilities? Are you good at taking the ideas and possibilities that others come up with—that you could never come up with—and turning them into products and reality? Do you like to work in a large company or small?  Are you a romantic, or not so much?

What do you not like doing? Oh, what the hell, what to do hate doing? And how much of your daily engagement in life calls on you to do the things you hate? I know, my Mom also told me not to use the word hate. But I think she meant not to hate people; things we didn’t like to do are okay to hate. And here’s something to consider…if you’re doing things you hate…stop!

The Gallup Organization reports that over half of American workers are not engaged with their jobs  Going to a job every that you are less than engaged with is “living hell”.  I’ve been there and I’m not ever going back.

Some great resources where you can gain insight into your worldly strengths are the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI); and Gallup’s strengths finder

Here’s a great piece of advice I got from a wise woman one day when I worked at a huge credit card company, “Danny, get real clear on what you do well, and what you enjoy doing. And then do that as much as you can.”   Yes, great advice.


your relation in the universe

So? What’s the big picture? What’s your big picture? When I was 28 I experience a tragic event that took the life of a friend of mine, who was a wonderful husband and father…he was 38. When the dust of that tragic event settled, some 4-5 years later, I realized I was also given the gift of a glimpse into what lies beyond the heartbeat of our human bodies—I spent some time on the other side in what I believe is Heaven. Some of you reading this know me, some don’t; but here’s the deal…when our bodies stop working, there’s a part of us that I call, Soul, that continues on. It may be good to focus on this possibility. Friends, this is not all there is. Trust me.

Questions to consider:

  • Do I believe in God/Spirit? (I mean really believe?)
  • Is my relationship with my God as strong as it can and should be?
  • What action(s) can I take today to strengthen it?


your potentialities

So? What are you capable of achieving? What is your potential? If you’re 18, what can you create by the time you’re 23? If you’re 30, what can you create by the time you’re 35? If you’re 45, what can you create by the time you’re 50 (remember, it’s just a number)? As I stand on the doorstep of “50”, I really like that saying that 50 is the new 30.  Ha, ha!  If you’re 60, what can you create by the time you’re 70? If you’re 75, what can you create by the time you’re 100? Why not? My Nana was 101 when she passed away. And almost up until the end she was still knitting, and even continued to allow me to buy her a bottle of Tia Maria for Christmas that she kept on the floor of her closet. I was always amazed that she made that bottle last 365 days. Every Christmas, she’d always open the gift and smile and say: “Thank you, Danny, I just finished my stock this week.” I guess wonderful wisdom occurs as we move into our 100′s.

Stop for a moment, and throw logic and reality and all that aside, and dream and imagine…what could you reallycreate?


your spiritual heritage

See ‘your place in the universe’ above.  Then ask yourself if others experience you as a “loving person”.  For me, this one is all about operating as much as we can from our core..from Love. I’ll be the first to say that it ain’t easy; but it sure is great to pursue everyday.


your aims and purposes

What to you want to produce in your lifetime and what do you want people to say about you?  Now…when you’re still here, and when you are not.  Why do you exist?  Interesting here that the word purposes above is plural.  I love that.  So much is written about connecting to your purpose.  All good, but I like the plural because I believe we have many purposes.  What’s my purpose as a Dad?  Husband? Son? Writer? Speaker? Friend?   What are we building?

There’s a great story I read about the ancient Roman arches that were built over 2,oo0 years ago—many are still standing.  It was said that the Romans had an interesting ritual after the arch was finished. They’d have the engineer in charge of the project stand under the arch as the scaffolding and supports were removed, thus ensuring he’d be the first to know if it was not built properly.  This is just like our lives, we must be diligent about “building” them properly, full of our values of love, faith, truth, fun, forgiveness, integrity, and so on…

Be well,


Be Still

I offer to you with great conviction that stillness is what we all crave and need; and it’s the most elusive of all we need to move to greater levels of happiness and fulfillment.  be still is the second of the 5 jckrbbt principles that I’ll write about in this new year.

While technology, and the social media that has come with it has many cool things about it, one thing is for certain–it compromises our ability to create stillness in our lives.  I believe the ability to be still is fundamental to happiness and fulfillment for 3 reasons.

1.  Mentally – to be still is to quiet your mind

Have you ever had a great idea or feeling of tremendous inspiration when you were thinking about nothing?  Albert Einstein once offered for our consideration this quote, “I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of quiet life stimulates the creative mind.“  Hmmm, wise man, that Einstein guy.  How many of us would argue that we even get close to ‘the monotony of a quiet life.’  Not me, but trust me friends, I work on it every day and I’m getting closer.  Our minds are so occupied with all the actions, thoughts, things to remember, and people to follow up with,  and information from facebook, twitter, instagram and on and on. People tell me they cannot find the time to be still, and I smile, hug them if I can, and tell them they are never going to find the time, they must create the time.  Realize the value of being still, and do it.

2.  Physically – to be still is good for your body

When we slow down and breathe, just breathe, things happen.  Our bodies release chemicals into our bloodstream that genertate feelings of joy, peace and relaxation.

When we slow down and breathe, just breathe, things happen.  Our blood pressure and heart rate drops.

When we slow down and breathe, just breathe, things happen.  I read in an article about the benefits of meditation that it actually reverses the aging process.  Now, come on, who doesn’t want some of that?

3.  Spiritually – to be still is to be with God

And last, but most powerful, is the belief that when we slow down and clear our worldly stuff, we create room for God.  As I stated in my book, Back From Heaven’s Front Porch, “It’s often in the absence of sound that we hear the most.”  Our life in this world is important, but it is nothing without a strong and consistent relationship with God.  Spiritual energy is better than any drug, shot of tequila,  or 5-hour energy drink ever created.

So, be still.  Yes, how do we do it?  I offer below a few ways I and many others practice the jckrbbt principle of be still.

  • pray
  • meditate (here’s a great link on this )
  • take a walk in nature (no phone, no music, just walk)
  • sit in a chair in the sun (no phone, no book, no music…see a theme emerging here?)
  • put your head back in your office chair feet on the floor and just stare
  • go on a retreat
  • take a break from technology
  • play 9 holes of golf in the late afternoon by yourself (walk, no cart)

Be still, and be well.


Develop Vision, Create Reality

Okay, so here’s the first blog of five on the jckrbbt principles.  This principle is a favorite of mine; it’s called develop vision <—> create reality.  There’s a great quote from Thomas Jefferson  in a book my sister gave me;  ”I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”  I can connect with Jefferson as I’ve uncovered the power within the dreams of our futures–of our ability to develop vision.  This ability to develop vision is what actually got me out of the crappy place I was in back in 1992 after an accident took the life of a friend of mine, and caused me to die for a few worldly minutes.  I was depressed and stuck for one simple reason–I had no vision of what it would be like, look like, feel like when I got better. Once I got this vision, I began to take the action needed to turn that vision of “better” into a reality.  It did not happen quickly, but generating momentum in the right direction is vital!

Below is an image of a box I have on my desk.  It was given to me by two young friends of mine who happen to be sisters.  They gave me the box and the round stone last Christmas, and added the smaller stone as a gift this year.  These girls are talented  country music artists… and they have a vision.   A big, bold, strong one.  Then know the power of imagination.  I believe they will create a fulfilling career in the country music business as a result of their vision, and the hard work they’ve done and will continue to do to turn their vision into reality.  They’ve been to Nashville and played at Tootsies, and The Blue Bird Cafe…and they will return there.  Think for a moment about someone you know who is living the life they imagined, or is creating momentum in that direction.  I’ll bet you are surrounded by quite a few.

DB imagine in sand

Vision is our ability to imagine something that’s not real. Well, not real in the sense of our physical world, but very real in our brain–in our imagination.  This vision is real in a profound way.  I see it like this. Why do we feel good when we imagine ourselves on a vacation that is still three months away?  Why does a basketball player imagine the ball going through the basket, why does he feel it coming off of his fingertips, hear it swishing thought the net?  And all before the referee even hands him the ball.  Why does our daughter and her young gymnast friends play their whole beam routine in their mind’s eye before even touching the beam?  Because there is power in our ability to vision.  If provides focus, inspiration, perseverance, resiliency, and happiness.  When I think of people who were great at developing vision I think Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, my best friend Joe, and my wonderful colleagues Joey and Peter.  Who comes to mind for you?   If you’ve ever seen the movie, Soul Surfer, you know that Bethany Hamilton developed a very clear and strong vision to get back to surfing after a shark attack left her with just one arm.  It was not easy, but she is one of the top surfers in the world today, and an inspiring source to many.

So, perhaps you can identify two or three areas of your life that you want to be different in six months, or a year.   Maybe its the quality of a key relationship, maybe your health, or your spiritual connection, your career/job, your financial situation…just to name a few.  Whatever the areas, think about the last six months and then go six months into the future and imagine it different, imagine it really, really good.  Now, you’ll want to write that vision down somewhere, and make sure it has a lot of detail in it.  But, it’s got to be believable.  Be bold, but believable.  It’s best to put it somewhere you will see it on a regular basis.  I put mine as an all-day event in my Outlook calendar and set it to recur every 4 days.  This way I see it often enough that it begins to get into my unconscious.

When this happens I believe it is then that we our brain kicks in and begins to drive us to the actions necessary to move toward making that vision real.  We begin to notice people and other information in the world that may support us. You see, I believe the brain likes completion.  We all love marking something off our list, or cleaning up after a job done around the house.  The greatest completion the brain can receive is that of transforming a vision, an image existing only in your mind, into reality.  This, for me, is where fulfillment comes in.

You’ll notice that this develop vision principle of the jckrbbt model below has a double-sided arrow between develop vision and create reality.  This arrow represents action, and this is where most people fail.  Countless visions fail to become reality because one does not take or continue to take the actions needed.  Once you get clear on your vision, you have to be relentless in asking yourself a very powerful question; “Do the actions I’m taking today move me closer to my vision?”  If the answer is yes, well done.  If the answer is no, stop and course correct.  Life is too short to be focused and exerting energy on actions that do not drive your vision.

So, we are off into 2013.  I’m not so big on resolutions, but I do love when people continually develop new visions of a better life for themselves–you just need to define “better.”  I’ll end here with a quote (you know I love quotes) that captures the power of developing and holding a strong vision.

“If a man carefully examines his thoughts he will be surprised to find how much he lives in the future,  His well-being is always ahead.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be well.


Life is a Journey

Last night I attended a 50th birthday celebration for a high school friend of mine—a lot of those in my world these days.  Ha ha. He’s a great guy and we often discuss and ponder the jckrbbt principles.   I gave him a jckrbbt t-shirt and he gave me the compass medallion and note you see in the this post.  I was touched.  He and I have both had our challenges—haven’t we all?

We talked of this journey called life.  We talked of all the joy it provides…the births, the graduations, the weddings, the family and friends we love, and so on.

We also talked about the challenges…the deaths, the loss of jobs, the broken relationships, and the depression so many of our family and friends experience.  Sometimes this depression is fierce, other times it’s just a lingering hurt, a pain… I call it a funk.

So I’m guessing we’ve all been in a funk before…right?  And I trust we’ve all passed through it.  One of Churchill’s famous quotes is, “When you’re going through hell; keep going.”  Yes, Winston, well stated.  So what is it that gets us out of and through our funks?  I propose that often it’s a strong vision of the other side of the funk, and then of course the action to create a new outcome.

But I’ve also recently been thinking about it another way, sometimes, rather than being busy with action…sometimes we need to welcome acceptance.  Sometimes we have to make choices that do not get us quickly out of the funk.  Sometimes we just need to accept that some funks are a result of our emotion to situations that we just can’t fully control and influence.  It’s during these times that we just need to try with all our might to muster a smile and press on…sometimes “It is what it is.”  But one thing I do know…it will all be okay.

Be well,


Yanked out of “neutral”

I have a nephew who lives in LA and is in the film business. He loves movies and is forever giving me and other family members his recommendations.  A recent one was, The Spectacular Now, starring Miles Teller.  As I watched the trailer (link below) I heard a great line delivered by an older character.  He said to Miles’ character, Sutter, “I thought she’d be the one to yank you out of neutral”.

So, it got me to thinking about the concept of “neutral.”  It can mean a lot I guess.  “Neutral” to me is when we’re not moving—or maybe we are moving but our engine is not engaged and we are just coasting.  Now while there may be appropriate reasons and perhaps times in life when neutral is where we should be, I’m thinking forward progress is key; and vital to us creating what we want to create.  Maybe neutral is an okay place to be, just not an okay place to stay.

So where can we be in “neutral”?

  • Physically – we just can’t get into a strong diet and exercise program (although “neutral” is okay for a few days after your first 1/2 marathon)
  • Career – we’re going through the motions, collecting a paycheck, and liking Fridays much better than Monday mornings
  • Spiritually – we just can’t seem to connect with the higher power/God
  • Relationships – we love somebody but it’s just tougher than it should be, and the answer to making it easier just ain’t clear

What struck me about the line delivered in the movie trailer, “I thought she’d be the one to yank you out of neutral”, is that it offered the potential for someone other than you to get you going again.  One of my favorite jckrbbt principles is seek support, and while there are many ways to do this—self-talk; books, movies, prayer…there is nothing–in my humble opinion–nothing better than a conversation with a friend who loves you and you love them.

So…are you in “neutral’ anywhere in your wonderful life?  If not, well done…if so, call that friend; trust me…they will yank you out of neutral.


Be well,


Know Thy Values

In my travels I get the chance to meet many people—some of whom I engage with in some deep conversations.  One such encounter back in July with a guy I met in Boston had turned into a few emails back and forth about life and such.  Well, this week I was back in Boston and bumped into this guy again.  We had a nice dinner together and again picked up where we left off in our conversation.  He’d read the copy of Back From Heaven’s Front Porch that I’d given him and is intrigued by the jckrbbt principles.

As we talked, our focus settled on one area of the jckrbbt principle, know thyself, our values.  We had a great discussion about how we are not happy, fulfilled, smiling easy, and peaceful when our life and its actions are not in line with our values.   So we began to share with one another the values that are important to us at this time in our lives.  I drew them on a piece of paper and included it in the photo in this blog—take a look.  As you might be thinking, many of our values are established early in our life and don’t change.  Often they are values like TRUTH, HONESTY, FAMILY, and FAITH/SPIRITUALITY.  This is not to say that we sometimes operate in such a way that is in opposition to these.  Then it’s often time to course correct…or deal with some nasty consequences.

Other values like FINANCIAL SECURITY, FUN, and CAREER may be stronger or weaker at different stages of our lives.  What might be a good exercise is for you to write down the values that are important to you at this stage of your life.  Then I’d encourage you to rate them 1-10 in terms of how your life and actions are in line with each value.  A 10 means you are very much in line with the value, while a score lower score suggests you may have an opportunity to shift some beliefs you have so as to take different actions to come into line with that value, and likely increase your level of happiness.

Another good friend and I had a recent talk about this same topic.  What we talked about is the dilemma that comes up for many of us when a choice they make positively impacts one value, while negatively impacting another.   This is not easy work to do here, friends.  As I reflect on many of my coaching clients I recall a few examples:

  • A young mother has a great job with tremendous income, potential and demands. This is good for her values of SECURITY, CAREER, and ACHIEVEMENT.  However, she is way from her husband and two young sons a great deal…having a negative impact on her values of FAMILY and COMMITMENT.  We had some great discussions and she decided to leave the company and create a life that lined up more to the values of FAMILY and COMMITMENT, as she deemed them stronger and more vital for her at this time in her life.
  • Many have shared with me how they were in their relationship and honoring their values of COMMITMENT, FAMILY and CAREER, but felt as though their value of PASSION/INTIMACY was low on the 1-10 scale.  Their work was to consider which values were more important to them at this point in their life, and to consider the consequences of moving away from some values into others.  Remember, we always have a choice; it’s just that they come with consequences.

So, consider you values…which ones are you living into?  Where might you evolve in your beliefs and behaviors to strengthen some others?  It’s always good to put some energy into this when we feel a bit “off”.


Be well,