September 13, 2021
REIMAGINING DISCIPLINE

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Soon after launching my new online course on the creative process, I began talking with the people who enrolled. I was curious to learn, from their perspective, what kind of obstacles they were facing -- the "stuff" that got in the way of manifesting their own creativity.

No matter how different the people I spoke to, how unique their background, experience, accomplishments, gender, world view, or astrological signs, they all said the same thing -- what I later came to refer to as the "D" word.

"DISCIPLINE."

That's what they all believed was missing from their lives. The lack of discipline was their Achilles heel, they confessed to me -- their problem, their weak spot, their #1 concern.

For the first few weeks of listening to their lament, I agreed. After all, discipline was important, right? I mean, who could write a book or start a business, or launch a product without discipline? Plus, I was disciplined, and if I, the creator of the course, was disciplined, then discipline must be important, eh?

Well, sort of. In the end, it all depends on WHERE this so-called "discipline" is coming from.

The more I listened to aspiring creators talk about their lack of discipline, the more I began to see how deficient they felt... how inadequate... how not-up-to-the task of creating something new and wonderful. There was a massive heaviness at the root of their lament... a weight... a density that did not feel very inspiring -- how high school kids often feel, on a Sunday, afternoon, when they realize they haven't yet done their geometry homework.

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Curious, I looked up the definition of discipline -- "the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience." Oy. Then I looked up its etymology.

One source explained that the word "discipline" comes from "discipulus", the Latin word for pupil -- the same root as the word disciple. Another source noted that the word "discipline" originates from the Latin word "disciplina", meaning "instruction and training" -- derived from the root word "discere" which means "to learn".

Very interesting, indeed.

People who become disciples are basically people who are deeply moved to learn something. Their actions and behaviors that follow are merely practical expressions in service to what it is they want to learn. Their motivation is intrinsic. Their performance of specific actions emerges from their recognition that these actions will yield the results they are looking for. In other words, their discipline is rooted in love, devotion, and choice -- driven by a deeply held inner aspiration. "Should" is not the disciple's operational word. "Need" is. And "want". And "responding to an inner calling".

Researchers who have studied creativity have come to the same conclusion. "Intrinsic motivation" is the driver, not carrots and sticks. When a person is moved from the inside to create something new, their motivation is natural, not forced. They are not doing geometry homework. They are following their fascination and inner calling. And though, to outside observers, they may seem disciplined, they are merely being moved by an unstoppable force within themselves.

How much discipline does it take to eat when you're hungry? How much discipline does it take to look up when you see a rainbow? How much discipline does it take to hug someone you love?

And so, if you are telling yourself, these days, that you "need more discipline", I invite you to take a fresh look at your situation. Do what you can to connect with your original vision to create something new and wonderful. Feel what that felt like. Tune into your childlike curiosity. Rediscover your intrinsic motivation and stay with it. Let that move you. The discipline you keep telling yourself you need will naturally emerge.

Let love, fascination wonder, intuition, and trust run the show.

The online course I am teaching

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2021
Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2021
What Does It Really Take to Learn Anything from Somebody Else?

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Since 1987, I have been providing consulting and training services to a wide variety of forward thinking organizations who have recognized their need to raise the bar for creative thinking, innovation, and teamwork. An optimist, by nature, I have always assumed that the people attending my sessions had an innate ability to benefit from whatever it was I was teaching, conveying, or imparting.

And while this optimistic point of view continues to be my default position, I have also understood that there are obstacles that often get in the way of people receiving the maximum value of what I (or any teacher, instructor, or facilitator) has to offer.

It is, shall we say, an occupational hazard.

Some of these learning obstacles are internal (i.e. participant mindset) and some are external (funky organizational culture). But no matter where these obstacles originate from, each of them can be decreased or eliminated with the right kind of effort.

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Ready? Here you go. Ten ways to increase your odds of getting the most possible value from whatever workshop, training, seminar, or class is coming up for you:

1. Find Your Intrinsic Motivation: If you want to learn something new, you will. If you don't want to learn something new, you won't. That's about as simple as it gets. Intrinsic motivation is all about your authentic, deeply felt, self-generated aspiration. Your mojo. Your willingness. The "inner reward" you experience for doing anything at all -- not because of carrots and sticks being dangled before you, but because of your inherent thirst to learn or experience something new.

If you are the person responsible for the success of your organization's Professional Development efforts, ask yourself one simple question: "How can I awaken the intrinsic motivation of our workforce?" If you are an "individual contributor" who has been invited, requested, or told to attend an upcoming Professional Development session, ask yourself this: "How can I find the motivation within myself to embrace this learning opportunity with as much passion as possible?"

2. Trust the Teacher Anyone who wants to learn something new will eventually need to trust the person who's doing the teaching. If not, it doesn't matter if it's Einstein, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammed standing before you. Trust is essential to learning, as it is to any relationship. As an experiment, try assuming the best in your workshop leader, trainer, or meeting facilitator. Give them a chance to do their thing. And if you should find yourself in an untrusting state of mind, pause of a moment and ask yourself what you need to do (or say or ask) in order to trust the teacher enough to be their student for a while.

breakbricks2.jpg 3. Practice/Apply What You Learn: Most trainings, workshops, or classes, are a kind of introduction to the topic -- a way to get immersed, for a while, in that particular domain. You learn about the topic, but don't immediately develop mastery. For that to happen, you will need to practice and apply what you learn. If you've ever seen a karate master break a stack of bricks with his hand, there's a very good chance he didn't quite do it the first time he tried. Practice makes perfect.

4. Be Patient:
In an age, where a Google search can fetch you esoteric information in 1.4 seconds, all of us have become accustomed to instantaneous results. That might be fine for learning what the capital of Latvia is, but not so fine when it comes to mastering the art of giving feedback, facilitating successful meetings, or becoming an effective team leader. Learning takes time. Developing new skills takes time. Making positive changes takes time. Patience, my friend. Patience!

5. Ask Questions: "The important thing," said Albert Einstein, "is not to stop questioning." Bingo! If you have entered into some kind of Professional Development effort, one of the best ways to get the most value from it is to ask questions. And this process begins with you asking yourself questions so you can identify the value of what it is you want to learn. Then ask your teacher/instructor -- before class, during class, or after class. If you are not getting the value you came for, the ball's in your court. If you don't understand something, ask. If you're not getting the value of what you came for, ask the teacher to deliver the information, tools, or techniques in a way that works better for you. And if you choose not to ask, then ask yourself why you're not asking.

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6. Become Aware of Your Self-Interferences: As you begin to engage in a new learning effort, pause for a moment and see if you can identify the "stuff" that, historically, has gotten in your way of learning anything new -- your self-interferences or what Tim Gallwey, Founder of The Inner Game, refers to as "Self-One." HINT: If you are a human being, it's probably one of the following: self-talk, self-doubt, skepticism, arrogance, limiting assumptions, lack of follow through, fear of failure, laziness, or impatience. If it's none of those, it's always possible that you simply don't see the value (for you) of the class, workshop, or training you've been ask to attend.

7. Acknowledge Your Progress: The proverbial cup may look half empty to you at times, but it's equally true that it is also half-full. Acknowledging and appreciating the progress you are making in your learning adventure will go a long ways towards keeping you in a positive frame of mind and looking forward to what's coming next. NOTE: The word "success" comes from the same root as the word "succeeding" (taking one step after another.) "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," said Lao Tzu. Indeed! See if you can notice and appreciate each step along the way. You are making progress. You are! Here's a simple technique you can try towards that end. Works like a charm and takes less than five minutes.

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8. Remember the Stories (and share them with others): It is highly likely that the facilitators of future workshops, trainings, or classes you will attend are going to make their point, from time to time, by telling stories. And that's because stories are one of the best ways to transmit knowledge and wisdom. If you truly want to imbibe the teachings that will be shared with you, remember the stories. And, better yet, share those stories with others. The more you share them, the more the wisdom embedded in those stories will reveal itself to you.

9. Come to Class with an Uncluttered Mind: If you are a teacher, engineer, sales person, manager, software programmer, team leader, nurse, carpenter, or VP of something or other, there's a good chance you have a lot on your mind. Even your To Do list has To Do lists.
If you want to get maximum value from whatever Professional Development offering is on the horizon for you, it is your responsibility to come to the session with an uncluttered mind. Be empty. Be ready to receive. Be open to what's coming your way. Here's what the Zen tradition has to say about this phenomenon.

10. See #3.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What can you do, in the next week, to ensure that you get the most value out of whatever Professional Development efforts are coming your way?

Photo #1: Michael Porro, Unsplash
Photo #2: Krzysztof Niewolny, Unsplash
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MitchDitkoff.com
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:50 AM | Comments (1)

September 07, 2021
100 Lame Excuses for Not Moving Forward With Your Great Idea

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Do you have an inspired idea or project you want to manifest, but... er... um... just can't seem to get things rolling? Chances are good your reasons why are on the list below. No problem. Join the club. Without beating yourself up, simply note the ones that are your Achilles heel, then try the simple "go beyond excuses" exercise at the end of the list. You're welcome.

1. I don't have the time.
2. I don't have the money.
3. I have neither the time nor the money
4. Coronavirus!
5. I've got too much on my plate right now

6. I'm just not feeling it
7. I'll feel crappy if I fail
8. I'm just not that organized
9. I'm juggling way too many projects
10. My moon is in Sagitarius

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11. I'm not good at presenting my ideas
12. I don't have enough support
13. The Illuminati!
14. My customers aren't asking for it
15. I don't have any customers

16. I don't have an office/studio/desk
17. I'm an artist, not a business person
18. My day job takes all my time
19. I don't have the right equipment
20. What if I'm just kidding myself?

21. I've already got enough headaches
22. I don't need yet another thing to do
23. My home life will suffer
24. I'm not disciplined enough
25. It's an idea way ahead of its time

26. I don't have an assistant
27. I don't have enough information
28. Someone will probably steal my idea
29. It will take me way too long to get results
30. We're in a down economy

31. I don't like filling out paperwork
32. People will laugh at me
33. My significant other will think I'm crazy
34. I need to chill for a while
35. The concept is too disruptive

36. I have to take care of my parents
37. I don't tolerate ambiguity all that well
38. I have to walk the dog
39. Now is not a good time to start a new project
40. I don't have the right personality for this

41. I'm going through too many changes right now
42. Where do I even begin?
43. If I succeed, too much will be expected of me
44. My laptop's in the shop
45. Things are changing so fast, my head is spinning

46. I need a break
47. I don't have enough clout to get things done
48. It's just not worth the effort
49. I'm getting close to retirement
50. My other projects will suffer

51. Been there, done that
52. I don't want another thing to think about
53. I won't have any time left for my family
54. A more nimble competitor will beat me to the punch
55. I don't have the right collaborator

56. I've never done anything like this before
57. I probably won't make any money from this
58. I'm not as young as I used to be
59. I don't have the right credentials
60. I need more information

61. I can't find my wallet
62. It will be hard sustaining the motivation
63. I've tried before and failed
64. I'm not smart enough to pull this off
65. I don't want to go to any more meetings

66. It will take too long to get up to speed
67. I have to do my laundry
68. I don't know how to get the funding I need
69. Winter's coming
70. The marketplace is too volatile

71. This is a luxury I can't afford
72. I need to get my ducks in a row first
73. I don't have any ducks
74. I'm trying to simplify my life, not complicate it
75. The dog ate my homework

76. I don't like long lists like this
77. I have to pay the bills
78. I don't have the patience
79. What if this doesn't work?
80. I'm too right-brained for this sort of thing

81. I need to lose five pounds
82. I'm getting too old for this
83. Who am I kidding? It's a ridiculous idea.
84. I don't have a business plan
85. I don't have an instagram account

86. It's just not in the cards
87. What's that sound? Over there. By the refrigerator.
88. Market conditions aren't right
89. I need to focus on making some money first
90. My carbon footprint is too big

91. What I really need is a vacation
92. I don't have a marketing plan
93. Mercury is in retrograde.
94. Nostradamus didn't predict it
95. Maybe next year

96. Time for dinner
97. Project? What project?
98. I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't
99. I can't afford a lawyer
100.I just don't have the time


HOW TO GO BEYOND THESE LAME EXCUSES

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1. Make a list of your most bothersome excuses.

2. Turn each excuse into a question, beginning with the words "How can I?" (For example, if your excuse is "I don't have the time", ask yourself "How can I make the time?")

3. Brainstorm each question -- alone and with a friend.

4. Try this. It's free

5. DO something about it within the next 48 hours.

Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff.com
What you get when you google "excuses"
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

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