Be Your Own Mentor – Lecture Notes

Mentor (noun): an experienced and trusted adviser. Synonyms: coach, guide, helper, counselor, consultant.

Consider these questions:
What is important, meaningful to you now? What do you want to learn … change … improve … accomplish.  How would you like to feel? What ignites your passion? What triggers your happiness and joy?

Make a list of your strengths and competencies. Review regularly. Edit and revise as you see fit.
Make a list of well-thought-out outcomes you most desire. Review regularly. Edit and revise as you see fit.

Know your B.S. (Belief System). Do you have a FIXED mindset … or a GROWTH mindset?

Focus on things that you CAN control or manage — choices, attitudes, actions, behaviors, mood, responses.

Take responsibility and accountability for “co-creating” or “shaping” the future you most desire.

Make a list of your own core values/virtues — or TARGET values/virtues. For example: loyalty, dependability, balance, compassion, kindness, generosity, passion, humility, bravery, professionalism, gratitude, flow, love, faith, patience, humor, ambition, optimism, confidence, fitness, wellbeing.

Then, review/reinforce regularly. Research and learn more about ways to demonstrate and embody them.

Compose appropriate “focus phrases” (sayings — proverbs — mottos — affirmations)  Use them as reminders, positive triggers, inspirations, “alignments.”

Write, record, display the reminders and reinforcement that is appropriate to the outcomes you seek.

Make a “To-Feel List” — list of “target” or “most desired” feelings or emotional states. Review regularly.  For example: happy, joyful, proud, enthusiastic, confident, grateful, compassionate, smart, lucky, appreciative, creative, energetic, inspired, calm, hopeful, positive, serene, helpful, loved, loving, valued, euphoric, strong …

Three other very helpful lists: • To-Do List – “Today’s Mission” • Inspiration List • Gratitude Journal

Gather intelligence, take notes. Flipboard. Google Search. Networking. Books. Magazines. TED Talks.

A KEY QUESTION: “What do I want to do, that I WILL do, to increase the likelihood of the outcomes I desire?”

Your goals should be appropriate, realistic, practical … they need to make sense.

To achieve specific goals: Break them down into small, workable steps. “What will I do TODAY?”

And … schedule those tasks and activities on your calendar! Give yourself honest feedback.

“PRACTICE MAKES HABITS” – to create a new habit or ritual, link it to an existing one.

• “What would I advise my dearest friend with the same goals, or challenges that I’m facing?”

• If a highly motivated person was seeking advice and guidance from you, in areas of interest to you … What would you tell them? How would you help them? Would you follow your own best advice?

Be honest with yourself. Be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be self-compassionate.

©2016 Jerry D. Posner

Ways to Make 2015, Your Best Year! — Lecture Notes

Ways to Make 2015, Your Best Year! – Lecture Notes

We start with who we are, where we are, what we have to work with … NOW!

Attitude, perspective, point-of-view might be just as important as the “things
that happen.”

What might be some elements of ‘your best year?’

What is important, meaningful to you now?

What would you like to change … improve … accomplish?

How would you like to feel?

What ignites your passion?

What triggers your happiness and joy?

Focus on the things that you CAN control or manage.                                                                                Choices, attitudes, actions, behaviors, etc.

Seek the appropriate balance between PLEASURE and PURPOSE.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to
choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Dr. Viktor Frankl

So … MIND THE GAP!

Emotions are contagious!

You can catch them, and others can catch them from you!
So, it pays to manage emotions, to know what you’re feeling and your emotional targets.

Make a “To-Feel List” — List of feelings or emotional states you want more often. Review regularly.
For example: happy, joyful, proud, enthusiastic, confident, grateful,
compassionate, smart, lucky, appreciative, creative, energetic, professional,
calm, hopeful, positive, serene, helpful, loved, valued.

Three other very helpful lists:
• To-Do List (of course!) – Today’s Mission
• Gratitude Journal
• Inspiration List

Choose a few key words/short phrases – THEMES – to influence attitude, mood, behavior, choices.
Some examples: Listen. Love more. Compassion. Kindness. Calm. Gratitude.
Grace. Faith. Flow. Patience. Acceptance. Balance. Forgiveness. Resilience. Rational.
Honesty. Mindfulness. Ambition. Courage. Laugh more. Eat healthy. Optimism. Serenity. Exercise. Meditate. Peace. Walk, don’t jump, to conclusions. Confidence.  Joy.  Service.

To achieve specific goals: Break them down into small, workable steps.

“What will I do TODAY?”
“PRACTICE MAKES HABITS” – to create a new habit, link it to an existing one.

These “R’s” could help!
Recognize (what you need to do, think, feel. Having a practical plan is smart)
Remember (write down the goal and your action plan. Read it daily)
Reinforce (with action … practice … repetition … reward yourself)
Review (observe results and feedback … modify your plan as needed or desired)
Repeat (the stuff that works best for you)

“Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, do something else.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude

Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude
By Jerry Posner

Thanksgiving, 2012

Happiness, well-being, resilience, and positive states of brain functioning have been strongly linked to the feelings and expression of gratitude.  I don’t think we need too much research here – seems like obvious common sense to me.

But “common sense” without practice isn’t very practical … or powerful!

“Practicing” strongly suggests “doing something” – not just once or twice, but repeatedly.  Eventually making skills or habits — habits of behavior, habits of thinking, habits of feeling, interpretation, perception, etc.

You’ve heard the cliché “practice makes perfect.”  Well, practice doesn’t make perfect … practice makes habits!  Repeatedly practice something the “wrong” way, and you get very good at doing something wrong!  For example, you might know some folks who are absolute masters of negative thinking … self-pity … self-sabotage …

So, with regard to gratitude, what to practice?

1.    FEELING GRATEFUL for the good things, the love, the laughs, the lessons, the people, the opportunities, the help, the stuff, the miracles, the food, the music, the technology, etc.
2.   EXPRESSING GRATITUDE for the good things, the love, the laughs, the lessons, the people, the opportunities, the help,   the stuff, the miracles, the food, the music, the technology, etc.

How do you FEEL when you feel grateful?
Happy? Peaceful? Blessed? Centered? Generous? Secure? Calm?

Thinking and expressing thankful thoughts, and amplifying feelings of gratitude, can reduce stress … improve relationships … and minimize pettiness!  Beginning a dinner or business meeting by going around the table and having everyone mention something they’re grateful for or happy about, can have significant positive impact.

You just can’t lose with gratitude!

Sincerely thank your customers, coworkers, friends, and family. Thank your vendors, suppliers, supporters and fans! Be generous with your gratitude.  Do it today.  Do it all year round!

Write yourself some gratitude-oriented “focus phrases” (reminders) on cards and sticky-notes, and put them where you’ll see them every day.  We NEED reminders!  We’re human.  We forget!  We get distracted!

For example:
I CHOOSE TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE SINCERELY, GENEROUSLY AND LIBERALLY.
I EASILY AND REGULARLY GIVE THANKS.
I FEEL GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF MY GIFTS AND BLESSINGS.
EXPRESSING GRATITUDE MAKES ME FEEL GOOD — SO I DO IT!

Here’s an interesting and potentially enlightening “grati-tool” –- make a list of 10 people who have helped you get to where you are right now — 10 people you’re grateful for.  10 people who helped you succeed, taught you important lessons, loved you.  We might be reminded of that kind childhood neighbor, or high school guidance counselor whose caring changed the course of our life.

When we remember how kind and generous people have been in our lives, we might be inspired to pass it on, or “pay it forward.”  We might even reclaim some positive memories of our personal history that we’d forgotten.  And … it just might make us feel happier!

Revisit your list from time to time (weekly, perhaps), and keep adding to it.

So, thank the people! Show some appreciation for them. Send thank-you notes. Tell the people you love, that you love them. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Another way to practice the practical power of gratitude is a one-minute stress-buster — THE GRATITUDE BREAK. First, select something specific about your life that you are truly, deeply thankful for (person, condition, or thing). Something or someone who you feel genuinely happy about. Then … close your eyes (not while you’re driving, please) and spend just one minute thinking about, and vividly imagining (if you can), that person, condition or thing. FEEL the gratitude and happiness as you visualize!

When your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to the gratitude-trigger.  You might enjoy making a mental collage or movie of several gratitude-triggers at once. For example, I might visualize my wife … holding an iPad in one hand … petting the dogs with the other hand … while ukuleles orbit the whole scene — all things that make me smile and that I’m grateful for!

Try a gratitude break once a day, and see what happens! Twice a day would be a worthy experiment.

A favorite “grati-tool” that gets a huge amount of press is THE GRATITUDE JOURNAL (a.k.a. “Gratitude Diary” or “Five Good Things”). Here’s what to do: every day (or most days), write down five things you are grateful for. They can be deep … shallow … serious … funny … spiritual … material. Just list five things you’re sincerely grateful for on paper or computer. Not in your head. Write them down or type them in.

Your mileage may vary!  People who write a daily gratitude journal often report improved relationships, less stress, more patience, better decision-making, feeling more secure … and more happiness!  Some studies suggest that even a weekly visit with the Gratitude Journal can yield positive results.

During challenging times, regular focus on gratitude can restore much-needed balance. Not to deny that there might be some adversity or challenges, but to remember that there are wonderful things and opportunities available as well.

Practice the practical power of gratitude, and make every day, a day of thanks-giving.
So many benefits … so small a cost!

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Practicing the Practical Power of Gratitude and Practicing the Practical Power of Appreciation are positive programs presented by Jerry Posner for businesses, organizations, conferences and groups.  For booking information, e-mail posgroup@aol.com.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode 11 – “Am I Cured?”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode 11
“Am I Cured?”

Confirmation biasthe tendency to find evidence that supports or confirms one’s beliefs, expectations, notions, points-of-view, etc. This bias can be positive or negative, constructive or destructive.

Self-fulfilling prophecya statement or mindset that modifies or alters behaviors and actions, to become true. Self-fulfilling prophecies can also be positive or negative, constructive of destructive.

————————————————-

During the follow-up visit with my surgeon, I asked him, “When people ask if I’m cured, what should I say?”

He replied, “probably.”

The likelihood of being cancer-free after my surgery is very, very high, but it can’t be determined with absolute certainty … yet.

I will have a PSA test twice yearly for five years.

At the beginning of this adventure, I made a prophecy: “somehow this will make me a better person.” I could have just as easily predicted that my life would be miserable, and I suppose I could have created that outcome as well.

In the mean time, I am feeling quite good and except for a couple of ‘plumbing’ issues (which will resolve in time), functioning normally.

I am fortunate. This is my chosen “confirmation bias” – created and nurtured over 30 years of consciously choosing optimism over pessimism. Though I was not always successful, the long-term positive outlook eventually became my brain’s default setting.

Good thing.

I could see myself as an “unlucky” person to have had cancer … or a “lucky” person to have caught it early enough, before it spread beyond the prostate.

When you decide to see yourself as a fortunate, blessed, “lucky” person … you will find evidence everywhere! This may take some practice, but it’s definitely worth it – especially during challenging times. Easiest way? Once a day, write down five things that make you feel grateful.

This will probably be the last chapter in “My Cancer Adventure” series for a while. If there are any significant updates, I will keep you, my valued friends and readers, in the loop.

And speaking of valued friends and readers … I am so very grateful for your kind and generous support. Your prayers and positive thoughts mean the world to me. Most of all, my wife Lynne gets the lion’s share of the credit for the relative smoothness of this “adventure.” Our five-year wedding anniversary is next month – truly the very best five years of my life.

Much love,
Jerry

PS: I have created a new workshop and keynote speech for businesses, organizations and events – WAYS TO SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATE ADVERSITY: What To Do When Things Don’t Exactly Go Your Way. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail – posgroup@aol.com

Thanks, and very best wishes to you and yours!

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Ten – “Back To Work”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Ten
“Back To Work”

I am so very grateful and thrilled to have recovered enough to resume my speaking work. Still, I’m not allowed to lift more than 10 pounds for another couple of weeks (glad the ukulele ain’t heavy). And no solo long-distance travel for another couple of weeks.

I am reflecting on some of the key points that made my “cancer adventure” as easy and successful as possible. Unquestionably, the single most important factor was the support and partnership of my wife. We worked as a team, increasing efficiency, providing continual emotional support and comic relief!

Some of these points might be important to you, too …

1. Got the PSA test yearly – caught the cancer early.
2. Listened to my primary care physician and saw a urologist.
3. “Bit the bullet” and had the biopsy.
4. Got the diagnosis and began extensive research.
5. Told our network of friends and family that we needed to get the best, most professional second opinion.
6. Thanks to my sister’s friend’s cousin, we connected with a top oncologist and surgeon at Dana-Farber. The best!
7. Received lots of generous input from cancer survivors; prayers and emotional support from friends, colleagues, strangers …
8. Decided on treatment based on our research and the meetings at Dana-Farber.
9. Didn’t wait, scheduled the surgery.
10. Shared the experience by writing an ongoing blog.
11. Determined to be the best patient possible – cheerful, kind, appreciative.
12. Determined to be the best husband possible – cheerful, kind, appreciative.
13. Again – best hospital, best surgeon.
14. Great experience at the hospital – treat people the way you’d want to be treated.
15. Keep positive, hopeful attitude, keep complaints and crabbiness to a minimum. Maintain sense of humor.
16. Following orders – from doctor and Lynne.
17. Writing a daily gratitude journal.
18. Ice cream.

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Nine – “Surgery/Recovery”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Nine
“Surgery/Recovery”

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”
— Martha Washington (1732 – 1802)

Lynne and I left Sheffield early on Wednesday, July 18 for my pre-op meeting and exam at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Due to rush hour traffic, and my bad parking decision, we were 30 minutes late. But when we checked in, instead of judgment for our tardiness, we were pleasantly greeted, as we experienced the first in an ongoing series of absolutely exemplary “customer service” experiences. Kindness and comfort were liberally offered by each and every person who served us.

This service standard, while not universally practiced — should be!

My intention was to be an excellent patient – not a passive pushover, but to behave as pleasantly, cheerfully and appreciative as possible under the circumstances. I strongly believed that this approach would impact EVERYTHING for the better … and I am quite sure that I was correct.

After the exam, Lynne and I drove to the Holiday Inn on Beacon Street, Brookline, hoping for early check-in. We were in luck.

Walking to Cooledge Corner, we had a lovely lunch followed by a movie at the Cooledge Corner Theater. We liked the movie (Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love ) but we LOVED the beautiful art-deco theater. Then, back to the hotel to rest for a couple of hours and another light meal at a nearby Japanese restaurant. I enjoyed the last day with my prostate gland and hopefully, my last day with cancer.

Up ridiculously early on Thursday, July 19, for a cab ride to the hospital, 5:30 check-in. My name was called, we signed some papers, and off we went to pre-op. As I was being prepped, we met with a series of nurses, anesthesiologists, and a representative of my surgeon, Dr. Jerome Richie. I can’t overstate how friendly and helpful each and everyone was. I was in a pretty good mood, partially due to the drugs … partially by choice. I actually had fun talking and joking with my caregivers. Lynne was right by my side, which was the primary reason for my feelings of peace and security.

When the time came, I said goodbye to Lynne, and was wheeled to the OR (which was really chilly … but I didn’t care, I was delightfully sedated). A little small talk with the OR personnel, and I was out.

The next thing I remember was being in recovery, Lynne was there … and my prostate wasn’t. I was feeling no pain. Eventually I was brought to my room – a beautiful, large PRIVATE room! A huge stroke of luck.

I’ll spare you the details of the next few days. Suffice it to say that the surgery was successful, one bundle of nerves was spared and my chances of being cancer-free are very, very favorable. And, I can’t say enough good things about the staff at Brigham and Women’s and Dr. Jerome Richie. We made excellent choices.

Now it is July 30, and I am recovering nicely. I’m walking, drinking lots of water and doing those Kegel exercises. I am feeling mostly OK – the “worst” is clearly over. I’m planning on giving my first post-surgery lecture on August 7.

A daily focus on gratitude and appreciation is extremely helpful, especially so when dealing with adversity and challenges. So, despite the numerous discomforts and inconveniences … we caught the cancer early enough, which is something to feel grateful about every day.

I am most thankful for the love and support from my many friends and colleagues. The biggest thanks is to my wife Lynne, for sharing the experience … doing all the work … and for loving me! I am fortunate!

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Eight – “What’s Really Important To Me Now?”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Eight
“What’s Really Important To Me Now?”

For more than 20 years, I’ve handed out little cards to workshop attendees with sayings and reminders to reinforce ideas worth remembering, and acting upon. A favorite one reads: WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME NOW?

Of course, that’s an excellent question to regularly ponder. Such a useful exercise, especially when facing adversity or challenges. Imagine if you asked yourself this question (and answered it) EVERY day! So simple, yet so powerful!

And so, with my prostate cancer surgery two days away, I answer …

It is really important to be an excellent patient, and all that goes with it.
(I want to make it as easy as possible for my caregivers.)

It is really important to feel and express gratitude – many, many reasons to do so.
(I’m keeping a gratitude journal – very helpful. More gratitude – less stress!)

It is really important to keep my sense of humor – the best medicine, I’ve heard.

It is really important to have as much fun as possible. Yes. Have some fun!
(Inspired by Randy Pausch – “The Last Lecture.”)

Also …

It is really important to accept the love and support of family and friends.
It is really important to have made the treatment decisions we’re comfortable with.
It is really important to maintain a positive, hopeful, optimistic outlook.
It is really important to have a good idea of what to expect.

It is really important to be prepared.

When I remind myself of these things, I greatly increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. And, I decrease the likelihood of self-pity and petty complaints.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have my wife who will be taking care of me. Recovery is going to be, at the very least, hugely inconvenient. I am quite sure that Lynne’s job will be harder than mine, so I’m extra grateful to her. And it is really important to me to recognize this, regularly express my love and gratitude … and strive to keep crankiness to a minimum!

Onward … into the unknown!

The next installment of this blog will be post-surgery. I’ll have some answers, and some groovy pharmaceuticals, I’m sure!

Thank you, and much love to you!

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Seven – “Countdown”

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Seven
“Countdown”

One week to go, and I’m feeling fine about it. Not scared. Not worried. Not nervous.

Lynne and I did our research and we are well prepared. We are confident in our choice of treatment (prostatectomy), the hospital (Brigham and Women’s) and the surgeon (Dr. Jerome Richie).

The support from friends and colleagues is heartwarming. That’s an understatement. More like overwhelming. And SO much input from cancer survivors and their families. I have heard MANY stories of favorable outcomes, so I might as well expect a favorable outcome, too! That is certainly my choice, and my attitude.

The odds are clearly in my favor to be cancer-free and for a reasonably speedy recovery. Sure, I know there will be some short-term inconvenience (ha!) and I’m not happy about missing work … but I am SO grateful that we caught it early.

Again, I say to my brothers … get the PSA test!

Practicing a continual “attitude of gratitude” is just so practical. It helps with balance and perspective, and makes EVERYTHING better. Everything. Whether you’re going through some adversity … or business as usual … practice the practical power of gratitude! Feel it and express it.

At this time, I’d like to express my sincere thanks to my prostate for many years of excellent service! That goes for all my other organs as well. Thanks! I do appreciate your contributions! And to my wife (especially) … family … friends … colleagues … clients … our dogs … a great big THANK YOU! I am living in a bubble of appreciation!

And speaking of our canines … Last week Ruby was diagnosed with a malignant tumor near her tail. A strange coincidence to be sure! She had surgery, and thankfully, is doing great! A fine example and role model of resilience.

Life is good. We are fortunate!

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE – Episode Six – Clarity/Decision

MY CANCER ADVENTURE
Episode Six
Clarity/Decision

“The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine! When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!”
— George S. Patton

I am delighted and relieved to have received the expert advice and clarity to help me make a very important decision.

Lynne and I went for our “second opinion” meeting with a top oncologist and surgeon at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The drive to Dana-Farber was easy. Mass Pike to Route 9 East, avoiding downtown Boston (which for me, is always a preference). Thank you, Garmin! Valet parking – very nice. As soon as we exited the car, we were met by a friendly volunteer “ambassador” who walked with us to the elevator, and accompanied us to check-in. This was “customer service” at it’s best, and just brilliant, especially considering the emotional and physical stresses of the patients and their loved ones. He even checked up on us after we checked in, asking if we had any questions or needed anything. Made us feel good. Great work, Dana-Farber!

After our meeting with oncologist Mary-Ellen Taplin, there was no more doubt – I would get the surgery. Adios señor prostate …

We then met with Dr. Jerome Richie, who elaborated on the options for surgery – open vs robotic – risks and benefits. Lynne and I liked him very much. Dr. Richie does not use the robot, and has performed approximately 3,500 of these procedures. That’s what we wanted. We’re looking at later in July.

On the way home, we had the pleasure of a fabulous meal at Margaritas in Framingham. We had a great time and celebrated the day!

I am grateful for all the prayers, positive thoughts and support from my friends and family. Most of all, for the love, hugs, experience and organizational skills provided by Lynne.

I am determined to get through this with as much grace, patience, courage and humor as I can … successfully meeting the challenges of moodiness, misplaced anger, annoying behaviors, and emotional hoo-hahs! Well, that’s my intention, anyway 🙂

Much love.

MY CANCER ADVENTURE Episode Four: The Waiting Game

MY CANCER ADVENTURE

Episode Four
The Waiting Game

We have our “second opinion” appointment scheduled at Dana-Farber for 6/28.
Interestingly, I have a history of dramatic life-changing events occurring
around this time of year, including the anniversary of my birth on 6/30.
Astrologers, take note.

Until then, there isn’t much else to do, other than research and reflection –
though, I am pretty much reaching my saturation point with the research. The
most probable outcome is surgery – the removal of my prostate, and the
non-pleasant “stuff” that goes with it. Nonetheless, the many prostate cancer
veterans who’ve spoken to me are reassuring. The consistent message I get is
“it will be OK.” I’m going with that.

Supportive friends and family are terrific! My wife, my partner in everything,
is the best! I repeat: when going though a challenging time, let your friends
and loved ones help you. Having a daily focus on gratitude is also very, very
practical.

I notice that I am experiencing a more “being in the moment” consciousness than
usual. For example, the ongoing chore of skimming duckweed from the surface of
our pond is an enjoyable meditation – it wasn’t always that way.

My intention is that this experience deepens me, increases my compassion.
Perhaps giving me a better and more realistic perspective on life, a newer sense
of “what’s really important to me now.”

Much love.