The Art of Gossip

The Art of Gossip

“Those who gossip with you will gossip about you…”  This quote, along with many others, relate the age old art that we have all engaged in from time to time.  So why do we do it?  Why do we feel bad after we do it?  And why do we continue to do it even though we know that it is not a good thing to do?  We gossip for many reasons.  

Feel Included

We typically see this with teenagers.  If people are not involved in a common goal, they tend to try to find one for connection.  However, this connection may not always be a healthy one, and gossiping finds its way in.  To  feel included, try and find healthy activities that involve physical and psychological components and everyone joining together for one common goal. Perhaps raise money for a cause like Night To Shine, or do a race as a team (Spartan Race) to help in feeling like you are connected. Common goals help in avoiding gossip from rearing its ugly head.  


My wife always tells the kids “Blowing out someone else's candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.”  We all have that little green monster called envy that appears.  It happens to the best of us.  People gossip about those whose lifestyles they envy.  Any time you start to feel jealousy or envy creep in, ask yourself what steps can I take to be more like that person?  If they are a faster runner, get out there and train. Take the necessary steps to better yourself instead of putting that other person down with gossip.  Make yourself a better person, and turn that envy into self-admiration!  

The Power Trip

When someone confides with you the deepest darkest secret that you are sworn to take to the grave, you may be tempted to tell others about the situation.  Why?  Because you feel a sense of power that you know something nobody else knows about the person.  You may be craving attention from others or want to feel important. Either way, your potential to gossip goes up when you are holding a powerful secret. Take the higher road and keep your word. 

Gossip is Lying

When we lie, we deceive other people (and ourselves) for various reasons.  We lie to save face, to protect others from harm, and to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.  We may gossip for the same reasons since gossiping is a form of lying.  If we gossip about a person, and then see that same person and are nice and cordial, we are lying.  Lying can destroy our psychological states and create a situation that is detrimental known as cognitive dissonance. 
This is a state of psychological stress where you hold two beliefs about a person or situation, and this causes our brains to rapidly move from one position to another, causing anxiety.  This is the situation that occurs when we gossip.  We say something about a person behind their backs; then we see the person and do not reveal what we are truly thinking.  Gossiping, just like anything else, can become a habit where we spiral down into cynicism and sarcasm, dragging everyone else around us down with us.  What we say and how we say things have powerful implications to those around us.  The wise saying to think before you speak comes to mind.  What will be the interpretation of what you are about to say?  Will the person receiving your message interpret it as a negative message?  Are you gossiping about someone or what you are about to say something you would say to their face?

We Gossip to Feed our Ego

Our egos drive us to gossip.  Our egos feed off of pumping ourselves up by talking badly about others behind their backs.  We gossip because it makes us feel better about ourselves, in the short term.  One of the most powerful things that you can do to feed the ego is gossip.  When you gossip, you pump yourself up by talking badly about someone who is not their to defend themselves.  The ego is protected by time and space.  If the person were there to defend themselves, then your ego could be threatened or damaged.  Gossiping is the safest way to feed your ego, especially when someone is there to listen and even agree with your musings.  Feeding your ego is easy.  Starving the ego is even easier.  Switch from a position of gossip to a position of gratitude or non-thinking.  Perhaps you can write in gossiping as part of your personal creed.  You may refer back to your creed everyday in order to stop gossiping in its tracks.  I find that living in the moment and concentrating on the environment around us helps us not to gossip about others.  If you are with someone else, change the topic of the conversation or simply tell the other person that you are working on not gossiping.   

Recently, I decided to talk badly about someone behind their backs who had been pissing me off for a long time.  I don’t usually fall into the gossip trap but I did that day.  I can’t describe how badly I felt after the gossip session.  It felt like I had betrayed the other person and thought about all the good things that the person had done for me over the years.  I gossiped perhaps to feel better about myself and to feed my ego with inflating platitudes?  Gossiping is wrong and should be avoided.


Pay attention to your gossiping this week.  Notice yourself when you are about to gossip and use the tips from this article to counter the action.  I firmly believe that if you eliminate gossip from your life, you will eliminate stress and negative energy that causes you to be unhappy.  Write down in a notebook every time you feel jealousy this week.  Write down exactly why you are jealous of that person and take steps immediately to better yourself or improve your position to avoid envy and gossip from entering into your life.  Eliminating gossip is a sure recipe to happiness and attracting the positive energy of others.

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N


Sometimes, There is No Why!

Resilience is the art of not only bouncing back from adversity, but actually thriving in it.  In order to do this, in general, we often need to find the meaning behind our actions and, more specifically, the meaning behind our set backs.  By finding meaning in our set backs, we develop a new way of looking at the adverse situation and this brings us a sense of confidence, renewal, and yes, resilience.  This process, called cognitive re-training or restructuring, is the cornerstone of building a resilient life style.  For example, when a loved one dies, we flock to find out the why and are relieved to find out that the death was caused by something that was justified or even preventable.  This makes us feel better about our own life.  We say or perhaps think, "I would not have done that," or "Cancer does not run in my family."  

Children with disabilities are another example of a poor answer for why.  I remember being at the beach with a family with a son with Cerebral Palsy.  They told me that they had taken him out of all therapy and were just enjoying life.  He seemed happy to be there, and the parents seemed content enough.  I did not ask them why they thought their child had CP, but I suspect the answer would not have been substantial.  When children have disabilities, the why becomes very difficult to find. 

If anyone has ever taken my classes or listen to me speak, you know that I talk about my youngest daughter who has ASD.  She has been my why for a couple of years now because she is the only person that I know who truly knows how to live in the moment.  She has shown me how to live my life and, more importantly, has helped me to help others to better their lives.  Her why is very straightforward, and I am fortunate to have found one with her.  Sometimes, as we will see next, the why is virtually impossible to find. 

Human arrogance demands that we know the why behind everything...

My father died at the age of 62 when I was 19 of a massive heart attack.  The why was pretty simple.  He did not take the best care of himself.  He ate the wrong foods, did no exercise, and had a history of heart attacks in his family.  In my opinion, he died prematurely of a preventable disease.  This happens all the time.  We find the why and it helps us to get over the event.  Even in a life altering event like that, finding the why brings a certain level of peace and tranquility to others who survive the event, and helps them to perhaps correct behavior in their lives to prevent the same thing from happening.  Certain situations, however, require something more powerful than finding the why.  Certain events are so unimaginable that finding the why approaches the absurd.

The events of 9/11 come to mind, as well as the events of Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. When we go through these events in my cognitive re-training class, we try and find the why but it becomes very difficult, even ridiculous.  Perhaps human arrogance pre-disposes that everything needs to have a why?  Perhaps we do no understand as much as we think we do?

Not finding a why leads to Faith

I did the cognitive re-training exercise with one of my Department of Corrections classes back in 2012.  We ended up doing the Sandy Hook Elementary disaster as part of a cognitive re-training exercise to attempt to find a why.  The exercise was very emotional; people were crying in the classroom, including me.  How can one find a why in such a tragedy?  We did.  One of the Officers brought up that God had called the children home.  Even though it did not bring the children back, you could feel a sense of peace come over the class.  We find this Faith message in many disasters that occur all over the world, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters like hurricanes.  Our Faith helps us through adversity when the why is not there.   

Getting Out of Your Own Way

This weekend, I decided to go offshore and train in the open ocean for the first time in a long time.  The last time I had encountered the open ocean's energy was in 2015 during the Molokai to Oahu (M2O) World Championships of Paddleboarding.  Needless to say, I was humbled yet again by mother ocean.  We started our run at dawn and immediately had a white out from a rain squall that surprised us out of the South.  After a couple of minutes, we resumed our run in the direction of  the following seas.  The following seas were the result of Hurricane Harvey, so the ocean was very confused, powerful, and angry.  After falling in a dozen times and trying to get my rhythm, I realized that I needed to train more in the ocean than in the comfort of the less challenging bay.  Almost at the same time, I realized that this lesson was a metaphor for life. 

Many times, we create "false realities" and excuses in order to not push ourselves too hard and fail.  We hide behind our titles, our age, our cars, and other possessions that stop us from experiencing life to the fullest.  Let's take our titles for example.  How many times have you thought "I am too mature to do this" or "mothers don't do this or that."  Perhaps it was jumping into a swimming pool with a bunch of your kids at a party.  Or perhaps it was volunteering for a challenging position at work that you did not really want to do.  We tend to hide behind our own egos that prevent us from reaching our true selves.  We laugh when people ask us to do something that is out of the ordinary or think "I am not strong enough" or "that is too childish for me" or "I wouldn't do that unless..."  We tend to make excuses and realize our own self fulfilling prophecies even before we try something new or challenging.

We also tend not to do certain things because we are "waiting" for the perfect moment to arrive.  This is the equivalent of not going out into the open ocean because we need to wait on a larger board, or wait for the perfect swell with wind (we had no wind the day we went out and it made it nearly impossible to catch the 13 mph ocean runners), or even wait to get in better shape!  All these elements contribute to calcification of our actions in the form of to many "if only" statements.  

"If only I had a larger board, I would go out in the larger swells." 

"If only I made more money, I would go on a vacation." 

"If only I wore more expensive clothes, people would respect me more."

The above statements are based on fear, and help you to stagnate and not take the risks that may make your life more exciting and rewarding.  FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real.  We tend to wallow in fear too much and not go for it.  Critically looking at my journey into the open ocean with the wrong board, under the wrong conditions, and using a different paddle than what I was used to we find this simple fact:  I learned a lot and grew as a paddler.  The lessons that I learned that day will stay with me for the rest of my life.  Did I fall?  Yes.  Did I feel like the ocean was chewing on me and spitting me out?  Yes.  Did I get back up?  Every time. 

The author on a needed break from the ocean swells.  

The author on a needed break from the ocean swells.  

Your assignment for this week is to make a list of all of the items that are on your "if only" list.  Write them all down and take a look at them.  Why are you getting in the way of accomplishing this list?  What steps can you take to begin accomplishing the items on this list?  Getting out of your own way is the first step in accomplishing these tasks.  Enjoy!

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N


For an active discussion on this topic, please visit our forum here.  

Service: The Antidote to Narcissism.

We all have been with self-centered, egotistical, and even narcissistic individuals.  Perhaps we have been that way in the past or even are that way now.  Odds are, however, that if you are reading this, you are interested in bettering yourself and not going down the road of the narcissist.  However, we all have tendencies to be selfish.  That is simply part of human nature.  

Narcissists are Insecure

At the core of a narcissist is an individual that does not think highly of himself or herself.  The sad thing is that perhaps they don't even know it.  They may simply be manifesting a fake side or front to cover a deeply rooted hatred of themselves.  Understanding this is the first step in turning those negative, destructive attitudes into more positive, self affirming ones.  

Service is the Key

When we serve others, we don't think about ourselves and concentrate on the others.  We give freely our time and energy so that others may benefit from our work.  This should be above and beyond the natural service of our jobs.  Many times a month, when individuals "thank me for my service" for being in the military, I appreciate their comments but with temperance. I realize that I was fulfilling a job or duty and think of it less as service.  Service implies a selfless act that is not associated with any type of compensation or even perhaps recognition.  When we truly serve others, we don't ask or expect anything in return.  If we expect something in return, whether that something is monetary or otherwise, we enter into a more transaction oriented relationship and less of a service oriented relationship.  

Serve Freely and Serve Often

How mush should you serve?  As often and as freely as possible.  If you find yourself even wishing for a moment for a reciprocation of your actions, then stop thinking about how you will gain from the situation.  You are not truly serving.  Remember that true service is selfless and without reciprocation.  If someone does something great for you in the future, accept it for what it is, not a "pay back."  In that respect, I don't believe or prescribe to karma.  I do prescribe to service.  If you are at home, to more than your perceived fair share of the house work without any regard for what the other person might be doing or not doing.  If you think you are doing more than your fair share, whether you are at work or at home, then stop thinking about that and just continue to accomplish your mission.

Serving Yourself is not Service

Start the week off by making a list of service oriented behavior that you do.  Now cross out the acts that you get paid to do, and then delete the actions that you expect something in return.  How many actions are left?  Don't be surprised if your list is rather small.  That is normal, especially if I have challenged your definition of service this week.  I just want you to know that your list can grow starting today.  You simply have to change the way you think about service and the way you think about your own relationship to it.  Remember that if you get something or expect something in return, you are not truly serving, at least by this definition.  Also, if you are getting monetary benefits from the service, or that it is part of your job, you are not truly serving, at least by my definition.  No need to get upset, let's challenge ourselves to truly serve this week, and nip that narcissistic side of us before it potentially takes us over.

Dr. N

If you would like to join an active discussion of this topic, join our forum here.  

The 75% Solution

My father always told me, “The better is the enemy of the good.”  Later in my career, I heard the expression,  “Good enough for government work.”  You may also be familiar with the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Sometimes waiting to execute perfection yields stagnation and inaction.  That does not mean that you shouldn't strive for perfection.  It means that you should take action sometimes, even if you are not 100% ready.  Because you may never be.

The 75% Solution Meets the iPhone

In my studies for my MBA, I read about companies that would beat their competition to market by having a 75% solution.  The company would not have the perfect product, but it was good enough to bring something to market and beat the competition.  We see this all the time in business.  We saw it with the iPhone 1 in 2007.  The product launched with many flaws (a lack of copy and paste if you remember) but Apple Inc. definitely beat the competition to market.  Sometimes you have to just take a risk and act, even if you are not 100% ready.

That does not mean that you should act without thought.  It just means that, as a general rule, we should not let ourselves get bogged down by indecision and second guessing when the answer may manifest itself when we make the jump, or take the risk.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes. When you make a mistake and learn from it, the mistake does not count as a mistake.  

Flourish in the Mistakes

Too often, we exist in a place where perfectionism and zero mistake tolerance is the norm.  I often think to myself that if you are not making mistakes, you are probably not trying hard enough and you are definitely not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.  Making mistakes is how we learn.  The 75% solution is good enough for most instances.  Besides, how much work must be put into a project to attain 100%?  Often times, we will never reach the 100% solution and just waste time and resources to get there.  How many projects or activities have you never started because you were afraid of failure?  The 75% solution allows for failure so that you can learn next time.  Very similar to spiral development in the software industry, the 75% solution helps you try new things and not fear failing.  Just pick up that microphone and start singing...   


I find that the most difficult part of getting anything done is actually beginning the task.  Tasks often appear more difficult than they actually are.  This is normal especially if we do not know what to expect, or lack experience in the task, then we are less likely to want to start it.  This weekend, I procrastinated fixing my toilet because, even though I bought a kit from Home Depot on how to do it, I don't have that much experience fixing toilets so I did not want the frustration of failing.  Being afraid of failure is worse than the failure itself.  

SEAL Training=Compartmentalization

I remember in SEAL training,  I would often take one day at a time.  When the going got really rough, and believe me it did get rough most of the time, I would take the training one hour at a time, then one meal at a time.  In resilience, this is known as compartmentalization of the stress.   In business, accomplishing the project at hand may be as simple as the old Nike saying, "Just do it!” 

Leaders Don't Fear Mistakes

Concentrating on the positive of a task and not arm chair quarterbacking those who work for you will yield the best results.  Your job as a leader is to foster a can do attitude and create an atmosphere of ownership in your team.  Your members will not be afraid to make mistakes (remember they are trying if they make them) and they will be more productive even though they are making the 75% solution.  Better to attempt to solve a problem than to over think it and never act!  The better is the enemy of the good.  Thanks dad!

Dr. N

This week, think of some projects that you have not started because you fear failure.  Think of the 75% solution and start them, even though you may make mistakes.  I'll start fixing my toilet tomorrow...


If you want to join us in an active discussion on this topic, find us in the forum here.  

Forget Supposed To...

Resilience is a state of thriving in the unexpected and loving the challenge.  When you have too much "supposed to" in your life, you threaten your happiness, your cognitive capacity to thrive in the unknown, and perhaps even your health.   

I had a conversation with my friend the other morning and he expressed some concern about his son who was "supposed to" go to college and chose not to.  This was causing some stress since the father's expectations did not align with his son's expectations.  Have you ever experienced this situation?

Having too much "supposed to" in your life creates unnecessary stress.  

When you say that you are supposed to do something, you generally don't agree with the decision or process that you are describing.  An underlying desire exists that creates a sense of cognitive dissonance.  This cognitive dissonance creates stress (you may not even feel it) that degrades your happiness, diminishes your capacity to adapt to navigate unknown situations, and even may suppress your immune system.  

Are you following your true passion when you are "supposed to" do anything?  

Probably not.  If you were following your true passion, you would use a different phrase then "supposed to."  20 plus years ago when I went through SEAL training, I did not tell people, "I am supposed to go through SEAL training, so I am going to go do it."  That terminology never crossed my mind because I was super motivated and excited about going through the training.  I said "I am going to go to SEAL training" or "I want to go to SEAL training."  Using supposed to implies that you do not want to do the event or that somehow you are being "forced" to do it.  

Nobody can force you into doing anything.  

Using too much "supposed to" is dangerous because you go down the path of self defeatism or worse, blaming others for a decision that you truly don't want to execute.  You are in ultimate control of everything that goes on in your life, even the things that you cannot control.  You may not be able to control everything, but what you can control is how you react to the things that are beyond your control.  You can start with what you say to yourself and work from there.  For example, even if you know you have to go to work tomorrow, you can change your language from "supposed to" to want to.  You will feel better about going to work and have a better attitude.  If, however, you continue to modify your language in this way for too long, it may be time to look for a different job.  Either way, you gain control of the situation; you are always in control.

Changing your Perspective

How should we deal with the things that we must do?  Do them with enthusiasm and motivation.  Change your language from "supposed to" to "want to."  

"I am supposed to be more successful."    "I want to be more successful; how do you do it?"
"My son was supposed to go to college."  "My son did not want to go to college."
"I was supposed to be more successful by now."  "I want to be more successful; how do I do it?"
I am supposed to go to work."  "I want to go to work; if I don't, then I should change careers."

Words are powerful tools that we use.  When you use to much "supposed to" and not enough "want to," you lose control of your life.  You are relinquishing your control and giving it to your actions.  By changing your language to more want to, then you gain control of your actions and reduce your stress.  

This week, gain control of you life by forgetting your "supposed to" events.  Write down a tick mark every time you use "supposed to" or "have to" to describe something that you will accomplish or have accomplished.  

Take a mental note on how you feel at the end of the week.  Forgetting "supposed to" is the first step in gaining control of you life and increasing your resilience.

Dr. N

P.S.  If you want to join us in a discussion regarding this topic, click here.  




Nobody wants to be disappointed.  We avoid the situation at all times.  We naturally seek pleasurable experiences over situations or events that make us feel sad.  That is a natural human trait; seek pleasure and avoid pain. As young humans, we are trained to get fed when we cry, consoled when we fall, and always seek situations that will help us feel safe.  Disappointment is not something that we like to do, but, as we all know, disappointment is a fact of life.  

This weekend, I was supposed to race in the NYC SEA Paddleboard race in New York City.  This is a 25 mile race around Manhattan to raise money for autism and the environment.  As you can imagine, training for this race took months to accomplish.  Paddling 25 miles is not something that you take lightly, unless you want a major disappointment.  I decided to take the whole family with me to New York, not only to cheer me on, but to also spend a couple of days looking for Spiderman (my son is 13 and is obsessed).  There we were, in Atlanta airport; we decided to make a 5 hour drive to Atlanta from Panama City, Florida, so that we would get a direct flight.  We try to make traveling easier for our daughter (10), who is autistic (this made the meaning of this race even more poignant for all of us).  When we arrived at the Atlanta airport, which by the way is much more confusing to navigate than I thought it would be, we were very surprised to hear that our flight was cancelled due to bad weather!  What's worse, no other flights were available for that day.  The soonest flight would get us there after the race start, which was pointless considering our mission to do the race.  

There we all stood, our race and vacation plans pulled out from under us.  However, before this even happened (we had to wait in line for about an hour to find out if we could schedule another flight) we already had contingency plans, in case we were not able to make it out.  These plans involved spending time together as a family, as well as a 25 mile solo paddle back home to compensate for the distance that I would have paddled up in New York.  

I would be lying to say that I was not disappointed.  However, when you train your cognitive processes not to stress over things that you cannot control, then you quickly skip over the disappointment.  Using a few simple tips, one can quickly move of from even a major disappointment.  

Focus on the Good Things

When your life gets depressing or difficult to handle, focus on the things that are going right.  Many sayings exist in this regard (think lemons), but you get the point.  Focusing on the good things and being grateful for what you have (left) may be a way out of your disappointment.

Do an After Action Review

When things go wrong, we typically want to learn from our mistakes so that we don't repeat them.  I immediately learned from this airplane cancellation and determined that we will always fly  within driving distance from home to the airport.  That way, if the plane gets cancelled, you simply go home and are not stranded 5 hours from home.  After Action Reviews, or AARs, help us to improve our performance moving forward.  They also help us to process the disappointment by focusing on learning from the event rather than being controlled by the disappointment.

It Can Always Be Worse

All in all, we all survived the event and were back home within 2 days.  Disappointing events, as bad as they may be, can always be worse.  People who have experienced loss of loved ones would love to be stuck in the airport with them, even if they had to argue with them on what to do next.  Resilience comes from the recognition that no matter how bad our lives seem to get, our situation could always be worse.  

 Be The Leader

When the disappointment happens, others will be looking to see how you handle it.  If you handle disappointments like a 2 year old having a temper tantrum (like many airport travelers frequently do), individuals around you will be stressed and learn from your behavior, especially if they are your kids.  Be the leader and take the disappointment in stride.

That Which Doesn't Kill You, Makes You Stronger

My personal favorite.  Related to the universal concept of not stressing over things; this is the simple concept that unless people are at risk of life or limb, then the disappointment is not a true disappointment, and should be dealt with accordingly.  In other words, suck it up and move on, you are still alive!

This week, I want you to write down one (or two) major disappointments that have happened to you in the past 6 months.  Employ the 4 tips above to the situation and see whether or not you have other ways that you deal with disappointment.  Share in the forum with others so that we can all learn from each other.

Be ready when the next disappointment comes along and see how you can deal with it from a stance of resilience

Dr. N

For a discussion of this topic, visit our forum here.  

P.S.  This week's blog picture is of the author during his 25 mile paddle in Panama City to simulate the New York City race.  Thanks to everyone who supported Dr. N on his mission to raise awareness and money for autism.    

Taking Risks

We all take risks in our lives.  Whenever you leave your house and drive a car, you are taking a huge risk.  When we choose our spouses, or attempt to find out what we want to do in our lives, or even eat at a local restaurant; we take risks.  Some risks are more dangerous than others, such as High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumps; however, taking risks is something that we all must do in order to thrive and grow.  

Looking deeper into risk taking reveals two possibilities: taking calculated risks and taking blind risks.  There is a difference.  People that are inherently resilient take calculated risks.  They study tides, the weather, and other factors before venturing out into the great outdoors on an adventure.  They don't just go out and risk it all without getting training.  That is the calculated risk.  The blind risk is simply doing something that gives you adrenaline but little or no training.  People have called SEALs adrenaline junkies.  That is the furthest from the truth.  Risky activity is trained and rehearsed to mitigate the danger and lower the risk of failure.  But you must take the risk in order to grow.

The rub occurs between the space of not doing anything (low risk) and learning something that pushes you out of your comfort zone to the point of potential failure (high risk).  If the risk of failure is high, then we tend not to push out of our comfort zone.  However, if you practice risky (calculated) behavior long enough, then learning new things not only becomes second nature but becomes intoxicating.  

This week, I want you to identify some things that you may fear to do because you may risk failure.  Start training for them and set a date when you will attempt the activity.  The activity could be something really simple like speaking in public or learning how to SCUBA dive.  Push yourself through the risky behavior and see how you feel.  Remember to train first though and not chase the adrenaline rush.  What you gain from training and pushing out of your comfort zone may surprise you and carry over into other activities as well.

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N

For a discussion on this topic, visit our forum here.  

Slow is Fast

We had a saying in the SEAL Teams and I believe that it was stolen from somewhere.  Like all great sayings, it's one of those that you remember for the rest of your life.  I remember that we were on the range (where you shoot), and we were learning drawing out of a pistol holster and firing instinctively at metal targets that were freshly painted.  The sound of a bullet hitting metal and the sight of the bullet hitting the paint instantly reinforces your neuromuscular system into adjusting your aim and body position for the next shot.  But, I digress.

The saying that the instructor gave us when he noticed that many of us were rushing the shot was, "Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast so...Slow is Fast!"  It's one of those sayings that doesn't really make sense because it's a saying of opposites.  However, after many years of practice, I can honestly say that Slow is Fast really does work.

Whenever we learn something new, especially a complicated movement that requires both mental and physical capabilities, we learn better by slowing down the movement into digestible chunks.  We often practice the movement slowly and methodically, thinking about every nuance of the movement.  We do this over and over again until the movement becomes "natural" and we say that we have developed "muscle memory".  This is the the flux capacitor of training (Back to the Future Reference) and the basis for learning just about anything.  If you rush things at the beginning, you will most certainly mess things up or worse, learn the movement incorrectly.  

How many times do we rush new things and mess things up, only to have to go back to the beginning and relearn things and try again?  Slow if Fast.  Begin by analyzing what it is that you are going to do.  Then learn the individual steps and rehearse these steps individually.  Learn from your errors and adjust your methodology until you get it right.  Only after countless practices can you begin to master the movement.  Slow if Fast.

But does the saying only apply to physical movements?  I don't think so.  Sometimes slow if fast applies to our everyday lives.  Perhaps slowing down to spend time with your relationships speeds up your connection to them?  Go through things too quickly and they don't "soak in" to your brain and you can't truly remember what you did.  After Action reviews help to review what you did, but that is the topic of another day.  For now, let's stick to Slow if Fast.

Your assignment for this week is to take something that you are learning for the first time and apply the Slow is Fast methodology to it.  Break the movement down into steps.  Repeat each step individually slowly and think about what you are doing as precisely as you can.  Once you have mastered the movement, go to full speed and see how you feel.  Take the time to approach everything with a more methodical, Slow if Fast approach.  What kinds of relationships do you have?  Relationships that are fleeting because you don't take the time to slow down with them?  Or are they meaningful and long lasting.  How many things can you apply the Slow is Fast concept to?  Remember that in the end, you will not be remembered for what you did.  You will be remembered for how you made others feel in your presence.  Slow is Fast.

Dr. N

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Being Naive

Today, I was told that I was naive.  For a very brief moment, I took it as a great insult. After all, with my experience, education, upbringing (and all the other ego filled garbage that one can think of), wouldn't you take this as an insult as well?  The truth is that I answered, "thanks" and "I hope to always be naive" and I could not believe the positive energy that washed over me as I said those words.  Truth be told, we should all strive in being naive.  Being naive requires us to view things from a child's perspective.  Have you ever observed a toddler observing something for the first time?  Assuming the child can talk, did you ever see that child roll her eyes or dismiss the new activity as something trite or a waste of time?  Never.  Children view the world with the utmost fascination and joy.  They taste every second they are awake with all their senses, sometimes to their detriment.

Being naive opens the door to fascination and to one of the best ways we have of living our lives in the present moment, gratitude.  When we are fascinated by something, we innately become grateful of the experience and look at the world in a more positive light.  Remember the look of a child when they view something for the first time.  Children become mesmerized by anything that is new.  They relish in the experience and bathe in every aspect of it.  When is the last time you did this?  Children are able to this because they don't have to pay bills, go to work, or feel like they need to change jobs any time soon.  They are focused and ready to explore the world from their naive perspective.    

Today was not the first time that I was told that I was naive.

A long time ago, I was on a flight to Paris. I remember sitting next to a French gentleman who became amused at how fascinated I was that the indications on the aircraft were written in French.  I remember saying something to him (in French) expressing my utter fascination at how different the signs were designed.  He was almost annoyed at the fact that a grown man would find something so trivial so fascinating.  Looking back on that moment, I realize that being naive is a state that we should all strive to enter and stay as long as possible.  

Your assignment for the week is to explore the everyday things that you do from a child's perspective.  Let yourself become naive again.  See the common things that you see from a fresh and new perspective.  Become grateful of the things that you take for granted by viewing them from a naive perspective.  Those of you with a large ego may find this exercise difficult.  However, suppressing your ego is the key to happiness and serving others.

Be naive and stay naive.

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N


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