Friday, February 13, 2015


Instant gratification. Just the phrase pops a cupcake or a McDonalds hashbrown into my hand. Back in the days when I was a smoker, instant gratification was easy. I made a sale, finished a test, got a project done, had a break-through in sermon preparation, and boom. Cigarette. Which is frankly a ridiculous reward, and I knew it. What kind of reward cuts 8 minutes off my life?

The most common instant gratification for me these days is food. I close a new client, I get to eat lunch out. I'm sure the fact that I'm also the primary homemaker has something to do with this. Being responsible for the majority of the buying and preparing of food for the house means that one of the greatest ways I can celebrate is by not having to prepare and clean up after food. But there's more to it. There always is.

As I talked this through with my own coach, and as the coach of a more than a few clients who also struggle finding ways to celebrate success, the subject has so many facets. Sometimes its hard to hold ourselves as awesome enough to celebrate. Other times, it's our relationship to giving or family birthdays and such that gets in the way. The challenge is that we simply don't have ways to discern what celebration actually looks like for us in our real life instead of the reality that we are constantly sold in Snickers or Viagra commercials. Listening to our inner voices, our instincts, our authentic selves is not really something our consumer-driven culture wants us to do. But that is exactly what we must do in order to find truly rewarding instant gratification.

The question I'm sitting with right now is this: What are the rewards I can create that are instant gratification without sabotage?

Mountaintop Perspective: What's your instant gratification? How does it call your best self forward? How does it increase your awesome? What is the relationship between an instant reward and your values or bliss?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The one about the gremlins...

It's 5am, the alarm is going off, and the battle for the driver's seat of my life is underway again. The gremlins have ruled, uncontested, all night long, per the norm. At least that's what I tell myself. Because why else would I have dreamed of seeing a street dancing martial arts troupe in Indian or middle eastern garb (think belly dancing attire...on second thought, don't picture any of this) on the street of my hometown (that's what I get for visiting Lodi over the holidays)? How else would I explain the fact that when I went to join this troupe (there were others up and down the street...this was just the morning thing, apparently) I ended up painting one of a dozen outdoor pianos? Fascinated by the outdoor pianos, I had to find out how they worked. Because pianos have this thing called wood in them, and that doesn't do so well outdoors in the weather. Upon further inspection, they also had built-in fireplaces. Which didn't really explain how a wooden piano survives outside. But that's when the alarm went off, and the gremlin tizzy began.

They must not have taken turns in the driver's seat while I was asleep, because they were all trying to get in it now. Actually, I know they didn't take turns because that dream was pretty benign. The gremlin I have tattooed as Procrastinator is the first to take the seat. He starts picking through my day, trying to find some free time that he can use to convince me to go running later. Unsuccessful, he is dethroned with a kick by Rational. Rational is counting the hours of sleep and making a strong case that the latest sleep study I read about on Huffington Post said I really should be aiming for waking up at 6am. At this point, Procrastinator squawks that he agrees, because I really don't need to shower today, anyway, seeing as how all of my appointments are over the phone. Rational is bodily picked up and thrown from his perch by Fatso who kicks off the avalanche of really nasty bits by reminding me that I'm too damn fat for it to matter anyway (he's getting a lot of traction on the 10-15 pounds I gained over the holidays). But lurking behind it all is the big one. Shitty is the size of a large SUV. He just sits there, like a green Jabba the Hut pile of...well...his name. I already know. He doesn't say a word. His very presence reminds me that I'm a piece of shit.

All of this before I turn the alarm off. The alarm is on my phone, which is good, because I turn the alarm off, open my email with the reminders of all the appointments I have this morning, and see all the awesome people I get to sit with. Smile.

As I gather my running gear in the dark, with only my cellphone to light the way, I begin my morning ritual of preparing to be present for my family and clients. I think about all the awesome stuff my spouse and kids are doing, all the incredible work my clients are doing. There are some pretty awesome people in my life, and I love the fact that I get to work with them all in one way or another.

The early morning running armor is equipped. And we're not just talking about running shoes and sweat-wicking clothes. It's dark and cold out, so I've got an ear wrap (that can double as a mouth wrap) and a headlamp, too. By the time the garage door closes behind me, I'm in the driver's seat. Good morning, Moon! Sleepy gremlin pops up and reminds me that days should start with the sun, not the moon. I laugh at him and invite him on the run. That always shuts him up. I wave goodbye to the gremlin pack and head out.

Mountaintop Perspective: As I reflect on this morning ritual, part of me is very thankful for this habit that carries me. Sometimes the gremlins are on the run with me. Sometimes they win and I don't make it out of bed. But most weeks, I run and workout 6 days out of 7. Somehow this habit has held. My questions from this are about habits. What other habits hold me? What habit holds you? What habit would you like to grow next? What habit do I need to revisit or let go of?