Intention Improves Attention

This is the second in my series of sharing the BIG THREE lessons learned lately. The first was focusing on solutions not problems. Today I want to talk about tension, attention, and intention. Applying the right one at the right time has given me great control over my chaos.

T. Falcon Napier and me in front of his ChangeGrid®

Meet T. Falcon Napier. As trainer, coach, and friend, T.’s a major influence in my life and career . Many of my individual clients and work teams use the ChangeGrid® to “see” the conversations they are having about mission critical activities. Solutions and outcomes important to your mission or purpose are your mission critical activities. T. invented and trained me to map the subjective experience of your ability to complete the activity in relation to the way you perceive the challenge of that activity. The result literally pictures your level of tension. What T. discovered and I have validated time and time again is

You pay attention to where you find your tension!

Think back to your last panic attack. It wasn’t fun, I’m sure. But you’ll recognize your attention was locked on to whatever horror movie was fueling your tension. Now erase that picture, and remember the last time you were head-over-heals in love, or so absorbed in the “zone” that you were in a sate of flow. Tension and attention were high and focused.

The more there is on my “To-Do” List, the more I rely on the ChangeGrid® to maximize my control. The last time my plate was overflowing I completed a ChangeGrid when starting and when ending my day. I could see what to focus on to build my confidence and energy and what I needed help with. When I became one of my best Life Coaches, I knew I had something of value to offer you. Want to accomplish something? Maximize your tension, and your attention will lock onto it.

What about “intention?” I very much like what Peter Block wrote in The Answer to How is Yes,

“The primary concern here is the world that we create collectively,
for when we commit to bringing our deepest selves to the table,
we are transformed by the act of creating something together
that we cannot create alone.”

So living by our deepest intentions is living in the service of what you value – what matters to you. Having the intention of coming to understand what’s important to you is a great first step. I felt pretty empty until I found my voice and heard my own words. I’m honored to be with others who are now in the process. Here’s one of mine:

If most of the day is spend living by the stories we tell ourselves, I want to bring some miraculous stories to life. The idea of spending my life contributing to others what I learn from continuing to grow up and wake up is a legacy worth leaving.

Would you like someone to engage with you as you define and accomplish what’s important to you? Would you like a no-cost opportunity to see your mission critical activities on a ChangeGrid®? Email me here.

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If a Problem Has Your Attention, You’re in Trouble

We hope every journey begins with sunny skies, fair winds, and all needs met. But…

ship…if you’re like me and on a journey to create a life of maximum contribution, the motivation to “leave port” only comes when encountering something I clearly don’t want as part of my life, or something I do. The point is, that you and I deal everyday with “One damn thing after another,” as Sir Winston Churchill put it. What if the thing we are called to deal with right now is the key to unlock what we need for building the life we really want? This week I will be sharing three lessons that changed my life direction, energy, and ouSuccess Charttcomes. Here they are: 1. My mind makes a wonderful assistant, but a terrible boss. 2. I thought I was resistant to change, but I was wrong. 3. What a relief, I’m solely responsible for every problem I have.

1. My mind makes a wonderful assistant, but a terrible boss.

I learned how my language creates many of the “glass doors” into which I walk after working with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (see also Steven C. Hayes) . A glass door is anything that stops me from achieving a wanted goal or outcome. I may have struggled with it for some time (like my addiction to Ben and Jerry’s), or one of my internal mantras about how something “should” be (I should have more money in that bank account. I still have checks left.). Perhaps an example of yours is putting off what you know is important, then regretting that you didn’t use the time you had to produce a quality outcome. Or perhaps, “I should have had parents who loved life so I would be more optimistic and confident.

The Problem

Want to play a game? What’s a struggle for you these days? Here are some starter ideas: If only I could ______________ If only I could stop ___________________ If only I was more _________________ You probably already know that coming up with any answer requires using your mind, but do you know how you used it? You combined two thoughts: one thought about how you think you are + one thought about some desired state. Your mind’s job is to produce thoughts, then compare and judge those thoughts. The mind is superb for language, comparing, and judging, but just try not thinking about that problem or wish for 10 seconds. [hear a ticking sound?] Did you do it? Kind of a trick question, really, because you have to think of it to see if you’re not thinking of it. The real key to getting where you want to go is learning to selectively and consciously choose among the thoughts, comparisons, and judgments your mind offers you. You don’t have to accept the thoughts your mind gives you.You can’t stop your mind from thinking, but you can choose the direction; putting your trust in your experience and in what your heart desires. I’m encouraging you to increase thoughts about what is important to you right now. Problems dissolve when you focus your mind on solutions. It’s pretty freeing to know you don’t have to accept the thoughts your mind offers. You don’t have to accept the thoughts anyone else’s mind offers you either. When you think about the want you selected earlier, did thinking about it ever fix, eliminate, or change it? More than likely, it is as true for you as it is for me, after all that thinking I was/you are still stuck with the same problem. Maybe you’ve discovered like I have, that the more thoughts I have about something I want, the more stuck it I feel.

The Cavemen Are to Blame

It was pretty exciting when the human mind could stay focused on the thoughts it produced. For the hunter and gatherer, thinking kept him from being something’s lunch. Thinking and instinct combined to create worry. Worrying meant staying alive, and staying alive meant reproducing. The hunter and gatherer reproducing is how you got here. So let’s hear it for the time when focusing on the problem was a good thing! Mark Twain is reported to have said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” We have taken the art form of problem focus to the level of being able to invent things to worry about. If only we could get paid for worrying! “I think he just frowned at me. He must think I’m ugly.” “I just got an e-mail from the boss. I’m in trouble for something.” “She’s 30 min. late. She must have been in an accident.”

Successful problem solving includes comparing the desired state to a current state and creating options to try out closing the gap. So let’s go back to your problem. Focusing on the problem keeps us stuck. Trying not to focus on the problem keeps us stuck. Trying not to think keeps us stuck.

It’s like following a recipe that wasn’t written correctly. No matter how many times we prepare the dish, or replace the stove, following the recipe cannot work. It’s like trying to navigate around New York City with a map of Chicago. If we don’t know the recipes wrong or what the map represents, prevented dig ourselves into a deeper hole and have to conclude that there’s something wrong with us. Pretty soon we’re focused on what’s wrong with us instead of how can we get more of what we want to feel happier. Trying to stop thinking about our problems is like thrashing around in quicksand. Were just, get sucked in faster.

The Solution

Instead of focusing on the problem, think about anything else, especially something that makes you feel better. When you have enough energy to focus on what you can do next to get more of what you want, focus on that. Every thought that moves you towards positive energy is a winner. It’s brain food. When you have enough energy to focus on the solution you want you’re taking charge of your thinking factory. Ask for what you want. “This is where I am ________. This is what I want _________. What’s the next thing I can do to get it?” Remember AVO – Avoid Verbal Orders– Write down your current situation. Write down what fill the order of your desire. Write down the next twenty things your mind produces.

The best way to build a new habit is to monitor the changes you want. I can help you change from problem focused to solution focused with a free weekly personalized inventory check list. Watch your progress as you grow into the solutions you want. All you have to do is click this email link and put “Solution” in the subject line. I’ll do the rest. It’s free. You won’t receive spam. Stop any time.

Try it, now.

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My Afternoon With Oriah Mountain Dreamer

For those of you familiar with the Christian Bible,

Matthew, in Chapter 17, describes what it was like

for the disciples to watch Jesus have a discussion with Moses and Elijah.

Yesterday for couple of hours I was in a deep discussion with Oriah Mountain Dreamer,

who of course showed up as a Native American, like this Delaware Indian Woman ,

instead of the Canadian she is. Okay, so I confess to having a good imagination.

Are you old enough to remember reading Oriah’s book when it first came out?  My conversation focused on the poem that became the centerpiece for the book. She wrote it late one night after coming home from a disappointing party experiencing unmet needs for connection, intimacy, and authenticity. Sound familiar?

As we seek what we most want our lives to be, do, and have; connection, intimacy, and authenticity are likely big-ticket items for us too. So here is our dialogue; Oriah speaking as one who facilitates empowerment of women, and me thinking like a Life Coach, building a long-term relationship assisting you build every area of the life you want. Oriah and I share a deep want to get to know you, and an even deeper desire for you to get to know you.

The Invitation

Oriah Mountain Dreamer: It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

Bob: What you do for a living, and what you ache for as part of your daily vocation matter a lot. Do you have permission to dream of meeting your heart’s longing for a way to express your passion?

Oriah: It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

Bob: How old are you? How old you feel? What’s it like being the age you are? Is it okay loving being alive so much that showing it may look foolish to those ruled by safety; even the socialized you?

Oriah: It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

Bob: How do you feel about the art and science of astrology, and would to like an introduction to Dr. Manya Arond-Thomas? Have you experienced the full banquet of life’s contrast? What sorrows, betrayals, and other pain have you courageously let go? What pain do you carry? How comfortable are you sitting with that pain or with mine?

Oriah: I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

Bob: Is it easier being seen when suffering or celebrating? Do you have permission to dance with wildness, letting ecstasy fill you? How intense is the battle between you who would dance and explore, and you who lives by caution, should’s, and have to’s?

Oriah: It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another being true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

Bob: How aware are you of being a powerful storyteller? How do you define “being true to yourself?” What experiences do you carry of breaking promises because you came to know better what fit for you? What experiences do you carry of attacking another who broke promises because they no longer fit him or her? What value do you place on being trustworthy?

Oriah: I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

Bob: What does it take to remove the filters of judgment and labeling to see what’s actually before you? Remember the feeling of deep connection. Where is it in your body? What’s it like?

Oriah: I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

Bob: When you get a result that you don’t want, are you curious; curious even about the shame or failure that engulfs you, if it does? How skilled are you in saying, “Next?” Are you really willing for life to “bring it on”?

Oriah: It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

Bob: How much do you love living in the spaces of your home? What level of skill have you learned in managing your financial resources? How likely are you to let how you feel in the moment define if you’ll keep your commitments? What feelings arise when you think about being a parent?

Oriah: It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

Bob: Who are those with whom you celebrate or grieve? Who looks to you for that connection and support? What’s it been like to deal with conflict with parents, bosses, and others to whom you give authority?

Oriah: It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

Bob: What subjects and teachers most connect with the values you hold? To whom or to where do you go to hear again the song of your heart when you forget how it sounds? What charges your batteries; what restores your soul?

Oriah: I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Bob: How comfortable are you with silence? How accurate would it be to say, “I deeply and completely accept myself”?

As traveling companions on this journey, I hope we will get to know one another well. Please share your responses with me.

See you Monday.

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Your Personal Time Capsule

As we embark

on our journey of creating a life worthy of our heart’s desire, I’m requesting that you let me help.

T. S. Elliot wrote,

 We shall never cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Creating your time capsule:

There’s something wonderful about a time capsule, especially when it contains those things you treasure. Successfully coaching people in Life Management strategies creates many treasured experiences and tangible outcomes, but even before beginning a Life Coaching relationship, you have a valuable collection of memories, hopes, and dreams from which to draw.

I’m suggesting that you complete the following activity.  The two best resources I keep re-reading are:

Here are the instructions (from Falling Awake page 12):




Write a letter to yourself that sums up who you are right now and who you wish to become. To get your letter started, you can complete any or all of the following sentences:

  • The most important thing I want to remember about this period of my life is …
  • The most significant struggles I’ve experienced so far in my life are …
  • The most important accomplishments I’ve experienced so far in my life are …
  • I’m becoming a person who …
  • The gift I most want to give myself is …

When you’ve finished this letter, date it and put it in a sealed, self-addressed envelope. Then put it in another envelope and send it to me (see below). I’ll treasure it and return it to you in 15 months. Another option is to email it to me ( and I’ll send it back to you in 15 months. Using a friend (including yourself) is an option too, but not always as much fun as expanding your network to include me.

The most important part is writing it down.

Our journey continues tomorrow.

Mail your letters to: Bob Rosen, P.O. Box 13124, Savannah, GA 31416

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Starting with the End in Mind

Let’s build something.
How about the life you are called to have;  the life you’d want more than any other?

I first met Stephen Covey in 1989. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a new best seller. His teaching still is a “load bearing” wall in the structure of who I am. The second habit he encourages us to develop is “begin with the end in mind.” Here’s a 1 minute video of Stephen presenting the idea:

While Stephen Covey was among my first teachers, I will be introducing you to the work of the two men from whom I am currently learning the most: Dave Ellis and T. Falcon Napier.

Whether you’re actively dying now, starting over, or embarking on your first journey into living your best life in the time you have, you have a lot to do. Life Management Coaching is all about guiding and supporting you get all the life you can. In the days ahead we’ll be dreaming what we have never dreamt, thinking what we have never thought, and speaking what has been never been said. I’m honored to be with you in this process.

Until tomorrow…be thinking about the life you’d have if it were ten times better than the best you can think of.

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You could have anything…

… if you only knew what you wanted.

Make a list

Do you know what you want? When is the last time you sat in a quiet space and made lists of the top 50 or top 100 having’s, being’s or doing’s that you want? What if you found a way to track your wants over a day; adding to your list each time you saw something you wanted or experienced something you clearly didn’t want and wrote down the inverse (such as, I don’t like big bellies except on whales, therefore what I might want is a flat stomach with hard abs)?

You might learn something interesting. You might start to feel pretty defensive because “wanting” isn’t as highly prized in our culture as “giving,” (it is better to give than receive). More than a few of us have been labeled or at least accused of being “selfish,” as if that’s a bad thing, rather than the most normal expression of who we are.

The art and science of Life Management or Life Coaching asks the key question, “What life could you have that would be ten times the best you can now imagine?”

The answers don’t always come instantaneously. Sometimes it takes a second or two, or even a little longer. The more attuned we are to that part of each of us that tells us clearly what we don’t want and what we do, the faster and louder we can answer the question.

Many people initially come to me for Life Management help to rebuild the trust with that part of them that really does know what they want – what they want for a legacy, what they want for career, what they want in a partner, what would make them happy, what it will take for them to like their body, where they want to live, what they need to be able to let go of something or someone, or even how to put words to what’s nagging them and wanting attention.

Wanting, having, and enjoying to the max is one of the biggest and most surprising problems in our culture. I have spent a small fortune (maybe not so small) on stuff that I thought I wanted, and that I thought would bring joy or at least satisfaction, only to find a fleeting distraction. It was like eating a page from a food magazine trying to get full.

In my situation and stage of life, what I connect to expressing and experiencing my happiness may not be anything like yours, and I’m not the least bit interested in selling you on my list. I am devoted, however, to playing a key role in you discovering and valuing who in you knows yours.

Tomorrow, I’d like to suggest a couple of things we can learn from kids and older adults about knowing what we want. Please come back.

Bob Rosen and Associates Website

See Bob’s Ad in Psychology Today

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Communicating With Our Senior Seniors

“Nana,  what if the money you’ve given to the church becomes like planted seeds, what kind of  garden do you imagine the community will have a hundred years from now,” questioned Jenny, age 39, as she smiled and listened soulfully for her  grandmother’s response.

This scene (with different people and topics, of course) offers a model in communicating with older adults in which all feel satisfied and enriched. Contrast this with, “I’m too busy to stay and hear your fantasies today Nana. I’ll be back again next week to see our you’re doing.” Or even the benign piggybacking, “Oh I’ve heard the stories of you giving to the church 100 times. Speaking of church, last Sunday Mrs. Enoch asked about you.”

If you’re a Baby Boomer and your parents are still living I have important information for you. If your parents are gone but you have responsibilities for other family members that are seniors, even an older brother or sister, this information is vital to you as well.

As our AARP membership cards become more important and less humorous, hundreds of thousands of Baby Boomers face challenges and opportunities of dealing with both the older generation and at least two generations coming up quickly behind us. Some even call us the “sandwich generation.”

In the days ahead I want to alert, challenge, and comfort you with information about the difficulties and rewards available especially in relating to senior seniors as they grow into and through the last developmental stage of human life. We’ll explore critical topics including:  what life is like for those who are ahead of us on the path; the two developmental tasks facing seniors; winning the fight for who’s in charge; why seniors don’t necessarily share our priority for taking good care of themselves; and, 10 key strategies that will make each day go better for you and those you love.

Stay tuned…


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