Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Training for life

Gifted performers and athletes often make the career-ending mistake of believing they don't need to train as hard or as much as their teammates or peers.

Without naming them, some young athletes celebrated for their exceptional talent and performance always run into a wall sooner or later - normally sooner - if they don't train, and hard.

The reason for training is not just to make the most of one's talent - but to build stamina and prevent injuries, which insures their ability to continue doing what they love for a long time.

A one-time youthful baseball phenom had a prodigious home run record. While he was happy with his performance, considering himself fortunate. Sadly, his training regimen was sporadic, leaving his teammates unhappy. They knew he would ultimately hurt the team, but said nothing because there was his current blockbuster record, wasn't there - and they couldn't argue with that.

Sure enough, soon after his career seriously stuttered because of injuries. Injuries that, most probably, could have been avoided by smart, consistent training starting at a young age.

Not focusing on off-the-field preparation is a short term gain, long term loss mentality. It does not prepare individuals for a long and achieving future, able to weather the highs and lows with equal aplomb.

Most businesses will ultimately fail for the same reason. They want to push for the highest profits NOW, rather than putting in the tough work it takes to plan for consistent and stable production, along with stable profits over the long haul.

Constantly pushing for the highest profits NOW means more and more injurious cost cuts - cutting corners, cutting experienced work staff and slashing other necessary costs that result in decreasing the quality of the product, desperate employees making desperate, cheating and often illegal decisions to save their jobs or status or bonuses.

Those at the bottom scrounge for crumbs and hang on to a ship that will ultimately sink as it currently performs; those at the top develop a something-for-nothing sense of entitlement = demanding phenomenal salaries and ridiculous bonuses for precious little contribution.

One of the - if not *the* most gifted basketball player in the history of the sport, Michael Jordan, comes to mind. Unlike the rest of the players, the lesser talented athletes, Jordan showed up early to practice - and stayed after everyone else left. To practice some more.

He was the one player who did not "need" to put in extra practice, but he did anyway. For himself. To be a better player. He was alone on the court, practicing to prepare, practicing to adjust - in order to play the same team better next time.

No doubt coaches and/or family influenced his keen work ethic and attitude as a youngster.

Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are two champion athletes with a strong work ethic whose understanding of establishing and maintaining a practice and preparation/training regimen early on has paid off. Both, incidentally, were strongly influenced by Peyton's father, former famed Saints quarterback Archie Manning.

While a young age is the best time to instill a strong, systematic work ethic, you can start all over at any age.

The key is to start where you are.

If you decide to train for a new body, remember that your age, weight and condition will tell you where you are capable of beginning. And slowly. With appropriate movement and diet, not overworking a system ill prepared for pushing yourself too hard. A friend of mine recently spent three days of agony after starting out with a New Year's resolution too harsh workout.

Remember being constant, consistent, and persistent is the key.

Do this to create a habit. Without a habit, we'll have a hit-and-miss record, whether it's watching our weight or hitting home runs. Success is actually a habit. Even when we run into pitfalls here and there, we still have a sense we can succeed in the end if we establish this habit in at least one area of our lives.

Keeping your word to yourself is the definition of success. Whatever you do, keep your expectations and goals real and within your ability to reach them. Low to start, raising the bar as you move along the scales of success. Keeping your word to yourself establishes the habit of success.

It's also a terrific way to be a good role model for children.

The "quick start" may in the end be a sabotage effort.

Whether learning to be an actor, writer, director, athlete or simply a happy person - start with what feels safe and successful, no matter how easy it may seem. One step at a time. One baby step at a time. Building on the stamina and power you gain, those steps can become leaps, those leaps can become vaults higher than you ever imagined.

The reason to start at a level at which you can keep your word to yourself is that it avoids the inner turmoil that will be the real cause of any setbacks. Once we stop keeping our word to ourselves, the mind games begin. We're failures, we're not what or who we appear to be - so we're phonies who don't want to be found out- and on it goes.

Success starts by just keeping your word to yourself - you can build on that success with more success over time because you feel good about yourself. You are authentically you, not someone you're trying to be.

I've gone through just such a process recently in two areas of my life - where I have in the past failed miserably. And so far, so good. As long as I keep my expectations low and my hopes high, it's working. I'll explain exactly what I'm referring to after I've had a record of success long enough to show a significant difference.

I share it with you today in hopes that it may help you as much as it has me!

Something else I'd like to share - Oprah.com has a program you can download called the O Dream Board; it's a method to help you visualize what you'd like your life and future to be. It's simple and easy if you have minimal computer skills. Remember you can use photos from any source since it is for your private use only and not for publication. My friends and I are enthusiastic about how cool it is and how it infuses us with great feelings about the future!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Environment economy basics

A reality show I saw recently was about a really smart guy who dedicated himself to ripping people off; conning them out of millions, and participating in all sorts of illegal activities including bank heists so he could get a trophy girlfriend and live the high life.

He actually hobnobbed with well established and wealthy people who unwittingly assisted him in his nefarious activities because they accepted him at face value.

Of course, he wasn't smart enough to get away with it forever, and today finds himself spending the majority of his life - the rest of it - in jail.

The sheriff who tracked him down said this: "It's too bad. If he had dedicated his intelligence, cleverness, charm and hard work for good -- he would be an incredible asset to the world."

Remember my blog about short term gain, long term loss?

This is a classic example. Especially because apparently he still tries to con more people from inside the slammer. Which only tacks more time ....

What has this got to do with environmental economy?

Well, it seems to me that if we invested in and worked to clean up the environment, we'd ultimately save an extraordinary amount of money.

Here's the money we'd save - individually, as taxpayers:

1) we wouldn't have to pay for massive clean up sites with our tax dollars because companies have poisoned our waters, air and grounds.

2) we wouldn't have to pay the personal price of sickness and death caused by pollutions created by polluters, including the US government.

3) we wouldn't have to pay the billions of dollars we do for additional, individually paid health care in addition to the billions of tax dollars we pay for people who can't afford health care.

4) we could redirect health care research away from treating and preventing toxic poisoning from pollution to other preventable significant conditions and diseases.

5) extraordinary insurance rates for businesses and individual health care would not be necessary

6) the mortality rate of our children could be significantly improved.

7) questions of skulduggery and even homicide preventing competition or new products introduced to the market that compete with such products as oil-burning autos will lessen.

8) the mortality rate of adults could be significantly improved.

9) non-renewable resources can be replaced with renewable resources.

In short, instead of spending the billions they do for products that pollute in their making and/or use, if they spent money to make certain their process did not pollute, did not unnecessarily waste natural resources or contribute to significant health problems, they'd save you and me a ton of money -- and themselves from costly lawsuits created by hurting people to begin with, then covering up their malfeasance.

Of course, they don't care about the money you and I have to spend through our taxes to protect or heal or bury ourselves, and that's why lawsuits that cost them dearly make a difference to them and why they want ceilings on punitive damages when they are sued by people who are hurt by them in some way.

I saw a film of children affected by pesticides -- at 3, 4 and 5 years old, their motor skills are extremely poor -- they can't catch a ball, for example. And they are developmentally disabled. This is the legacy of corporate farmers who neglect to learn the damage done by pesticides they are told will make their cash crops flourish, free from bugs and disease.

While we focus so closely on the 'bottom line' - the personal costs and pain people must endure thanks to careless and purposeful use of poisons to save money are pretty horrific.

Imagine how much better the world would be if these barons of business decided from the getgo to use their intelligence, cleverness and charm to do good -- a short term loss because of the investment required, resulting in a long term gain. Not just in terms of income but in good will.

Instead of remaining stuck in today's mindset that is so completely cost inefficient -- creating the mirage of a short term gain, while in reality causing an extremely negative long term loss -- wouldn't it be terrific if business people instead started to use a genuinely cost efficient model: believing people are an assett -- as workers, consumers and creators -- rather than a labor liability.

This cycle of destruction is true in every business that practices it - from motion pictures to car makers to oil companies to toy manufacturers.

Until these modern day Ebeneezer Scrooges decide that people are more important than profits, it won't change. And when they do understand that people are more important than profits, they will understand that people create prosperity, especially when everyone works for the greater good of individuals and society. Short term loss (investment), long term gain (profits, good will, prosperous workers and positive products that everyone not only wants but uses).

Purely profit-driven practices are always short term gains, long term losses.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Gains and losses

There are two primary ways to approach what we want and how we live:

Short term gain, long term loss


Short term loss, long term gain

An example of short term loss, long term gain is education or training. It's an investment of time, money, focus, energy, homework and extra research if you love what you're learning.

The payoff is that the training can set you up in a career you pursue happily the rest of your life; or it can prepare you for advanced training to allow you to do what you love the rest of your life. Artists live with this mentality. Spiritualists live this way. Those pursuing their dreams and doing what they love live like this.

In business, it's research and development (R&D) that is the short term loss (expenditure). Or giving workers additional education to enhance their knowledge of the job in order to keep them up to date, understanding the state of the art options or to maintain its competitive edge.

It's also taking a share of the profits and mining them back into the company in the form of enhancing the workplace, training, giving deserving workers raises, or increasing the quality of the product. Or having a company stock sharing policy.

These practices make not only for loyal employees who work hard, but who are proud of their industry - what they produce - and in turn a consumer base that wants to buy what you sell.

In acting, it's carefully choosing your roles so that your audience grows to trust your choice of projects. Think of the actors whose films and shows you are sure to watch because you know they only do projects that are great - projects you know you'll love to watch.

Interestingly, once that actor is in a real clunker, who appeared to do the movie just for the money or whose script was a real stink bomb? That decision is a short term gain with a long term loss.

That trust is broken, and you will now be much more careful to check out whether the film is really any good, because that actor has made a decision with a short term gain ($$$) and long term loss. Lots of fans won't show up just because that actor is in the film after the icky project they just saw you in and paid all that money.

Going to a film is expensive if you get anything to eat; especially for a family outing!

And that is the cost of short term gain, long term loss mentality: doing a lousy film for money instead of loving the character, the script or the project itself.

This "short term gain, long term loss" philosophy will be the undoing of capitalism because it ultimately results in cheating, cutting corners, greed and a lifestyle that creates a false belief in what we "need" to be successful - or to even appear to be successful. Because its motto is based solely on the bottom line, on profit, rather than a healthy relationship inside the company and with it's consumers - it's "more" - not "better."

Jobs are always insecure - the hope is that because of this fear, employees will work that much harder to remain in even the most menial job.

I'll never forget working for a TV station whose greed was unparalleled. The company chiefs would seek out single mothers for crucial but menial and administrative assistant jobs that paid little, because they knew these women would work very hard and not rock any boats because they needed the jobs and money so badly. And they were right. I'm sure this is true for anyone responsible for raising children, men or women.

One company that defies all the "modern" desperate bottom line business practices and continues to be astoundingly successful is SC Johnson. Continuing to seek better quality in its well established products as well as work to satisfy customers with new products to make our lives healthier, cleaner and safer at a reasonable cost, SC Johnson takes pride in treating its loyal employees respectfully, as well as showing appreciation for their hard work in material ways.

Just so you know I have *no* connection whatsoever with the company and they have *no* idea who I am - and I didn't learn this from any self-serving propaganda or advertising. I've heard about their practices from other (envious) business executives very familiar with them and people who know the employees.

Contrarily, Enron was a short term gain (profit, profit, profit), long term loss company. In fact, just about every time you read where a company that was so "hot" just months ago has just gone under, leaving customers stuck without their goods or services, you're looking at a company that tried to make too much, too soon.

Especially when they try to spread themselves too thin. Now, creating new branches may appear to be a short term loss (investment) for a long term gain outcome, but if it's done to make as much money as possible as soon as possible? Whoopsie.

Company growth carefully planned to make certain the home office continues to be strong as well as each new office/branch is definitely a short term loss, long term gain practice.

On the other hand, massive expansion that starts the ol' buying out more and more companies, pushing the new acquisitions to make more and more profits without regard for product or employees ... run into a brick wall. They are forced to realize despite their best efforts, they can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. Sooner or later, even though the company may try to convince everyone they're producing blood - we'll all find out, sooner or later, it's really just weak turnip juice.

Meanwhile, the executives of the turnip juice company have sold off all their stocks, stolen millions, and put their ill-gotten gains into offshore accounts which can neither be found nor taxed. So they have to spend a couple years in jail? The money is available to their families and will be there for them when they get out.

Short term gain, long term loss creates a shaky future. It's basic economics.

Addicts live this way.

Greed can become addictive if the appearance of having lots of money is experienced by others as looking "successful." Business folks who live only to please stockholders through profit gains live this way. People who endanger their marriages by having affairs live this way. People who want to manipulate someone into having a relationship or marriage live this way - it's not the relationship itself and the welfare of both people that's most important, but rather the appearance of a relationship with a particular person. This happens to lots of high profile and wealthy people who are vulnerable and targeted by those who want to share their high profile, money or perhaps just be with them for security.

The hope was that capitalism could be practiced with at least a modicum of integrity and dignity. Ebeneezer Scrooge was the exception, not the rule back in the day, right? Good businesspeople are the salt of the earth. They provide a good service or product at a reasonable price and have terrific customer service because they are part of the community in which they take pride and their goal is not to become rich quick but to practice the business they love the rest of their lives in a community they love, or until they grow too old to be efficient. Short term loss, long term gain folks, them.

Today it's all too often the case that businesses are set up to make as much money as possible so the folks involved can get rich quick and move on. Short term gain, long term loss of the business but they see it as long term gain for the money they will live off. Problem is, just having money to live off of is a pretty empty life.

Here's something else I've realized: kids who are taught to get good grades rather than focus on learning, experience a short term gain, long term loss. If you're working only to get the grade, you're learning how to work the system rather than really learn what will help you when you start working or go to advanced training for a career, college, or whatever you'd love to pursue.

The same is true of teaching kids how to take tests rather than actually learn what they need to in order to have a fulfilling life, work or make choices based on knowledge rather than guessing.

*Most* of the hundreds of people I've coached over the years have said the *one* thing they regret in their lives is that they didn't learn more while they were in school. They figured out how to get the grade, then spent the rest of their time doing anything other than homework or making the most of their learning opportunities.

Definitely short term gain, long term loss living.

Me? I'm a short term loss, long term gain kinda girl. And that long term gain period actually starts much sooner than you'd think - because what I do in the short term is so rewarding while I build for an exceptional long term gain that is lasting the rest of my life.

What is your mindset?

Short term gain, long term loss?


Short term loss, long term gain?

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