Welcome to another episode of The LeaveBetter Podcast where I interview high performers and business owners to glean from their wisdom and practical routines, habits, and mindsets— that you can apply to your own life.
Sometimes, rather than an interview, I riff on a particular self-sabotaging habit and it’s remedies.
In this episode, we are pleased to have Cary Prejean—a native of Louisiana and the founder of CFO Consulting, LLC. He works with business owners to help them turn their business into what he’s labeled “the well-oiled machine” process.
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Remember: the actions you take today set you up for six months from now. So do something today that pushes you toward that next level of you. So go be INTENTIONAL.
I googled “What is the most efficient amount of time to work before taking a break?”
I love google.
When I was a kid I used to ask my mom all sorts of obscure inquiries and she would say, “I don’t know …” and I would respond with, “they should have something where you can ask these kinds of questions and get good answers.” (Who was the “they” I was referring to? One really wonders.)
And now there is Google.
Anyway, my wonderful “they” today answered the question: 52 minutes is the optimal time to work. Then you’re supposed to take a 17 minute break that involves something totally different and then come back.
I tried it today.
I have to say, I had great focus and amazing stick-to-it-iveness.
Give it a try – even if you don’t use these exact numbers, the rule holds true; your brain will do much better with a bit of a mental shower. You’ll come away from your break with renewed energy and a bit of a refreshed perspective. : )
I believe Apple Watch has taken this information to heart with their “you need to stand” notification that comes up every hour. I have found that you actually need to do more than just stand. If I move around a bit, I feel more awake.
I don’t actually do the 52 / 17 rule here, but I try more of a 50/10.
Clearly, there is this balance between “what the research says” and then what your own body needs. Good entrepreneurship and life iteration requires both. The data and then the tweak to your needs / specifications.
Life is complicated. YOUR life is complicated—there is more than enough stress to fill your day.
Here are 5 ways to reduce your chaos (which actually comes down to five ways to say, ‘no’):
Say “No” to more requests.
Say “Yes” to fewer requests.
Instead of giving an immediate answer when someone asks you to commit to something, say, “Let me think about this, and can I get back with you tomorrow?”
If you accidentally say ‘yes’ (because you were surprised and it was awkward to say ‘no’)— call them back and create a “do-over.” Apologize for making a mistake in saying ‘yes’ when you really needed to say ‘no.’
Utilize the perfect excuse of “I am so sorry, but I have other plans” – even if your plans are to not do whatever the other person is asking you to do.
The bottom line here is that we all get ourselves into trouble, creating stress and drama for ourselves by agreeing to things that we have no business agreeing to. We do it for reasons of false guilt, non-existent willpower, trying to impress the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Often, it is because we are too insecure to set a boundary that helps preserve our well-being.
All forms of saying “no” require practice. But if you do so with respect and confidence, you will see a decrease in your overall stress levels. You will actually be proud of yourself, once you get over the initial discomfort that comes with new boundary setting.
Try it. Once you learn this, you will never look back. I promise.
I just discovered a new blog – a couple of minimalists who are straight shooters and serious about simplifying their lives.
The thing I noticed in reading about simplifying is that stuff weighs us down. Excess poundage, too many clothes, too many items on the wall, too many things in our drawers. I know whenever I do a purge of things in a drawer that I never use, there is a sense of being able to breathe easier.
The last few months, about once a week, I get into my closet and I ask: Is there something I can get rid of today? Usually, I can find one thing. I have a place where I keep these items for about a month to see if I ever regret putting it there … and I never have yet.
We are overloaded with STUFF.
I’m a little bit dreading the holiday season and wondering how I can bless my friends and family with something of value but not just one more thing to gather dust.
It’s not just physical objects that weigh us down. Some of us have more relationships than we can actually nurture. Often, we are trying to change more aspects of us than are possible. Even spiritually, if you focus on too many ideas or habits, you actually achieve none of them.
Less really is more. Remove one thing from your “to do” list, or your “should” category, or your garage … it will give you more energy to focus on what remains. Over time, this gives you distilled space and thought.
“The root word for courage is cor – the latin word for heart … Courage originally meant, ‘to speak one’s mind, by telling all one’s heart.’ …I think we have lost touch with the idea that speaking openly and honestly about who we are, about what we’re feeling and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that is pretty extraordinary.” – Brene’ Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.
Last weekend, I had the unfortunate experience of NOT speaking my mind.
I was at an advanced professional therapy conference – one where there were only 30 attendees, all peers of sorts. We were given the dreaded “group project” – the sort of thing you do with team building; however this was done straight out of the gates – we had done introductions, but you know how it is – very few remembered nor cared what the other person’s name or position was.
In the context of this “experience” the 12 of us were told to develop a treatment plan. However, we were not told whom we were treating, nor how much time we had to develop this plan. We didn’t know ages, issues, number of clients. In short, we were sent out with a bunch of props and told to create something.
It was chaos.
One thing I failed to mention – involved in this “treatment plan” were 6 horses loose in an arena. And now our job was to integrate them with the 12 of us and some bits of string.
It was pandemonium. The animals were nervous. The people were upset and all yelling different ideas toward one another. Few were listening. At one point, I said to no one in particular, “This is so stupid.” A person next to me agreed.
When “time” was called, we were pulled back into the larger group and asked to debrief. Many people were angry; a few, downright hostile. Accusations were flying. I was dumbfounded at these “professionals” who had basically lost it out there. Granted several were quite young, not finished with their training, but still.
We were told that the next day we would do it again and to come up with our own goal. Within seconds, people said, “communication and cohesiveness.” It was the only thing our group agreed on – that we needed some form of communication and a way to get on the same page.
The following day, we were told we had 25 minutes to develop an intervention to work toward communication and cohesion. Feeling somewhat hopeless, I asked the group if they felt like it would be useful to have a facilitator – could they appoint one person to moderate the discussion? That fell on deaf ears and the non-verbal vibe was SHUT UP.
A person in the group pointed out that people weren’t listening to one another and interrupting. Someone else suggested a “talking stick” – that whoever held the object could talk and everyone else would listen. A person offered up their coffee spoon as the “stick.” Someone else took it and began to talk.
Okay. I’m fine with this. Whatever works. Sometimes people need a structure to help.
As people took the spoon and shared their ideas, I realized that three individuals across the circle had not spoken. I asked for the spoon, and said that I would like to pass the spoon to them and hear what they had to say.
At that point, one of the silent three exploded and GLARED at me with intense anger. She said loudly, “I AM NOT A DAMN CHILD THAT I NEED TO BE TOLD WHEN I CAN SPEAK AND WHEN I CAN’T. I WILL NOT BE SILENCED AND I DON’T NEED YOU TO TELL ME WHEN I CAN TALK AND WHEN I CAN’T.” Her eye contact never left mine – it was like she was holding me personally responsible for the spoon thing.
Silence hung in the air as the whole group stared at us. I put the spoon in my back pocket.
Generally, I am not at a loss for words, but I felt like anything from me would be gasoline on a fire. However, my mind had plenty to say, such as, “Wow. She’s got issues.” And, “Really? You’re going to haul off and attack me for this spoon thing? I’m not the one who suggested it. Where do you get off being so RUDE?” And then there was the self-righteous thought: this little snot is not going to rattle me … I’ll just stand here, unflappable and NICE. That’ll show her!” (You’re brain does weird things when it is under fire).
After an eternal pause one of the other participants, a woman with tightly curled hair said, “Do you have a suggestion that would make this better?”
Aggressive girl kept yelling. “I DON’T KNOW, BUT I WON’T BE SILENCED. AND NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL ME WHEN I CAN TALK AND WHEN I CAN’T”
Curly engaging woman: “I have to say that right now, I feel I could do something and you could get really, really angry, but I don’t know what that thing is. It’s like there are unspoken rules that we don’t know about. I don’t like that feeling. Is there something that you can say that would help me understand?”
I knew exactly how she was feeling. Like if I say anything, this is going to disintegrate. I thought it took remarkable courage for her to speak so openly.
Aggressive girl softened and began to share her feelings in a more rational manner. Others began to speak.
People began talking, and shortly thereafter, the facilitators interrupted and said the time was up.
Later, I had lunch with Jill and we debriefed the situation.
I asked her what made her willing to risk speaking up. She said that she had just finished treatment for breast cancer and that she was no longer willing to not speak her truth.
“When you know your own truth and you chose to not say it, it damages you. I need to take care of myself and I am not willing to stay silent any longer. And if it makes others uncomfortable, so be it.”
Jill is right … staying silent is toxic to your soul. It damages you. It damages me.