Before we get to today’s guest post from Akshay Nanavati a quick heads up.
The final Coach The Life Coach trial starts this Sunday 11th August at 12 noon EST.
I have had one attendee transfer to working one-on-one with me and as such have an open slot.
If you are a Life Coach or want to become a Life Coach then you have the opportunity to grab the last place for half of what the course will cost when it rolls out in October.
Check out Coach the Life Coach for more details and then e-mail me if you’re interested.
Now over to Akshay.
Life Coaching Lessons From The War In Iraq
Have you ever stopped to consider what is your most valuable asset in life?
The responses I hear the most often are family, freedom and some variation of the word happiness. I invite you to consider another possibility.
Your most valuable asset in your life is time. Whether your like it or not, time keeps moving forward.
Time is life itself. The few seconds you took to read those lines will never come back.
Everything else, including family, freedom and happiness are nonexistent without time. This may sound obvious to you and perhaps it offers no revolutionary insight.
But more often than not, this reality is forgotten. People repeatedly push their goals back to someday, which as we all know turns out to be never.
Most of us live every day like we have an eternity left to accomplish our dreams.
When Mortality Comes Knocking
Only when we get slapped in the face with our mortality do we start to rethink our life. When death comes knocking on our door, only then do we start to question how we spend our days.
I first learned how to treasure my most valuable asset during the 7 months I served in Iraq as a non-commissioned officer with the US Marines.
When my life along with the lives of my men was at risk every day, I discovered a new-found value to life and my place on this planet.
Upon returning home from the war, I discovered that we don’t have to walk the line between life and death to realize our most valuable asset.
We can simply be proactive about shaping a reality that creates opportunities to experience the infinite capacity of the human potential.
Although I no longer live in a combat environment, I continue to apply the lessons I learned in Iraq to my relationship, the clients I work with and my every day life.
I hope they serve you and your clients in the same way they have served me:
Embrace The Warrior Mindset
The warrior mindset means taking 100% responsibility for everything that happens around you.
In the Marines, we used to say there is no such thing as a bad squad, there are only bad squad leaders. If one of my junior Marines made a mistake, I was held accountable.
Even when events were outside of my control, as they often were in Iraq, I still got to choose how I responded to them. I still had the power to choose my attitude. For the first two months in Iraq, I hated my life and was upset at everyone and everything around me. Filled with rage, I retreated into my own world.
Until one day I started to see that the outside world was not going to change. I knew for 5 more months I would have to wake up in the same place and follow orders from the same people.
I could choose to focus on my anger and rage or search for the value from the experience. I stopped blaming anyone and complaining about the war.
Instead I chose to find the positive elements of my life in Iraq. As a result of my mindset shift, I came back from the war a stronger and better human being as opposed to one filled with hate and anger.
As Victor Frankl said in Man’s Search for Meaning, (al) the bestselling memoir about his experience in the Holocaust,:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Our Greatest Power
Our greatest power lies in our ability to choose how we respond to life. No matter what events occur, ask yourself how did you create, promote or allow that to happen?
Dig for an answer if you have to and take responsibility for the consequence, because if you have the power to create a problem, then you have the power to create any solution.
Most of us often operate from the victim mindset. We blame the government, the economy or any outside force for our problems.
If you want to be successful, start noticing when you use victim language, which includes, blaming, complaining or whining, and consciously shift your focus to approach your life from a place of 100% responsibility.
Seek Out Adversity
Life is filled with struggle, hardship and adversity. It is an inevitable part of the experience of life. Researchers have estimated that 75% of the entire human population experiences some form of trauma during their lifetime.
In the study, the definition of trauma included loss of a loved one, being diagnosed with an illness, divorce, assault, an accident or an environmental disaster.
It was also estimated than within a given year, almost one fifth of the planet’s population will experience a traumatic event.
Despite the inevitability of struggle, we do everything in our power to avoid it and make life as easy as possible.
It’s not entirely your fault though; the human mind is conditioned to be lazy. In Daniel Kahneman’s bestselling book Thinking Fast and Slow (al) he says:
“If there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”
Don’t Justify Laziness
But this is not an excuse to justify laziness. Successful people are those that have resisted our evolutionary conditioning to work hard and intentionally create their ideal lifestyle.
Try and find one self-made successful person who has not gone through struggle to get to where they are.
I bet you can’t think of one, can you, because success does not happen by accident, it is a very intentional and deliberate act.
By taking on and choosing adversity, we build the muscle to face it when it inevitably shows up. It creates a rock solid level of confidence to achieve anything. A great place to start is to take on physical challenges like triathlons or marathons.
When Richard Branson was asked about his secret to productivity, his response was working out. Putting the body through physical stress and struggle has been proven to improve habits in all areas of a person’s life including financial.
Start embracing adversity through physical challenges and you will notice a snowball effect that occurs in all areas of your life.
Meditate on Death
Steve Jobs once said:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”
Ancient Samurai warriors used to believe that every day they needed to picture themselves dying so that they live each day to the fullest. In the classic Samurai treatise, Hagakure, it is written “every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.”
Meditating on death simply means sitting down and picturing yourself on your deathbed. Go deep into this visualization and imagine that this is your last day on the planet, then ask yourself, “Am I happy with the way my life has gone?” What would your answer be?
Embracing and realizing our mortality manifests an unbreakable strength to persevere despite any challenges or obstacles that come in the way of our goals.
This is the practice that is most often met with resistance. Some people think that doing this would attract death into their life.
That is not the intention and outcome of engaging in this exercise. It simply creates a space for a new perspective.
It essentially puts a fire under you to take action and accelerate your results. If Steve Jobs and some of the greatest warriors in history acknowledge the value of this practice, there must be something to it, right?
Not only do I regularly engage in this exercise, I also put myself in situations where my life is on the line to really hit home the perspective I gain from connecting with my mortality.
Most recently I spent 8 days cave diving in Mexico and just last year I spent one month dragging a 190 pound sled 350 miles across the second largest icecap in the world. I returned home from each one of these experiences with a renewed joy for life.
You don’t have to risk your life if you choose not to. Find a way that works best for you, but the key is to connect with your mortality. Then use that deathbed perspective to take action in service of the life you want to create.
What do you think? I would love to hear in the comments below what exercises have you found to be most valuable in your life and with your clients?
Akshay Nanavati is an adventurer, a trained success coach by an ICF accredited institution and an avid student on human psychology that reads over a book a week on the subject.
Download the “Life Mastery Blueprint” if you would like to learn more about how to develop an unstoppable mindset and master the psychology of success.