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Archive for July, 2015

How to Climb Your Mount Everest

Maya Gurung was 14 and on the cusp of becoming one of the first girls to complete high school in her Nepal Village. Her father however, had other plans. He didn’t see the point and had already begun arranging her marriage.  “What would you do with an education?”

He wasn’t the only naysayer, her Aunt told her that she would never be anything more than a poor village woman.

After stealing $2.30 from her father, Maya ran away from home by taking a bus and getting off more than 250 miles from where she started. It didn’t last long. The next day she was discovered by police and returned to her school.

Maya returned a disgrace to her family and when she asked her father for forgiveness, he showed her a video he had made that depicted the rituals of Maya’s death. There would be no reconciliation.

Maya’s homeland in Nepal is a landlocked country of 27 million people that borders China and India. It also just so happens to be located in the Himalayas and the home of Mount Everest. Eight of the world’s ten highest mountains are located in Nepal with Mount Everest owning the title of highest peak.

Of 4,000 people who have reached the top of Mount Everest, only seven have been woman from Nepal. The first woman to reach the top, died on the decent.

At 5 foot 3 inches tall, Maya may be small in stature, but there is no shortage of heart and determination.  A few years after the failed runaway attempt, Maya enrolled in a basic mountaineering course, not long after that Maya set her sights on Mount Everest.

Maya joined 9 other woman at the base of Mount Everest in April of 2008. They climbed 5-10 hours a day. “With each step, we went further than we’d been before.” “Each step was a success.” Their mantra was simply, “ONE MORE STEP.”

On May 22nd 2008, Maya’s team reached the summit. Now, that would be more than enough for even the most adventurous, but not Maya and her fellow female climbers.  Before she was done, Maya would end up at the top of five of the tallest peaks on five continents!

I share this story, because I believe there are a few really important lessons we can learn from Maya Gurung.

Your story only lives in the past

Many of us are holding onto something that has happened to us in the past. We are giving credibility to those who said we couldn’t do it, that laughed at us, or made fun of is. Or maybe we had a negative event in the past that we still carry with us today. We are stuck in our old story. I can’t do it because……. It’s too hard because….

Maya could have listened to those same voices as well. The voices of her own family telling her she would never be anything but a poor village girl. That woman don’t need education, that girls like her don’t climb mountains, certainly not Mount Everest. She proved them all wrong and now takes her message to other woman across the world to show them what is possible. Maya is living proof that you can accomplish what you truly commit to and work towards every single day.

Greatness starts with one step

Nobody can shortcut the process. We all start at the bottom of the mountain. Many of us get held back by overwhelm and our fear of failure. Maya and her team understood that even if they took it slow, as long as the keep moving forward, one step at a time, eventually they would get to the summit. It is easy to want our results NOW, to look for shortcuts and always look for the easiest route.

For life’s major accomplishments there are no shortcuts. You must follow the process step by step. That could mean losing weight one workout or healthy meal at a time. Closing deals one phone call at a time, upgrading your skillset one book at a time. Become financially free by saving one dollar at a time. If you follow the process, step by step, your results will come.

What are you capable of achieving? What is your first step?

Are you READY?

Your Partner in Success,

Josh Paulsen

Blog Maya

The inspiration for this post came from the article After the Seven Summits by Alyssa Roenigk

Are You An Optimist or a Pessimist?

Is your glass half full or is it half empty? I am sure you have heard that saying before. But what the heck does it really mean and does it matter?

The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity. – Winston Churchill

My post today was inspired by this quote which was at the top of my 5 minute journal this morning. Let’s start by defining what it means to be an optimist or a pessimist.

Optimistic (op-tuhmis-tik) – Reflecting a favorable view of events and conditions and the expectation of a positive outcome .

Pessimistic (pes-uhmis-tik) – The tendency to expect only bad outcomes.

To put it simply, do you have a tendency to look for the positive in events, or do you focus on the negative?  

Think about taking a picture of something or someone. Your photo is the result of only one angle. There are many angles from which you could have taken the same photograph, however the angle you choose will have a drastic impact of what you see. Our perspective about lives events isn’t much different.

Ten people could have a similar event occur, or even witness the same event and all walk away with slightly different meanings or perspectives of what just happened. For some a “breakup” means sadness or even devastation – for others freedom or opportunity. Time can also change your perspective regarding that very same event. The loss of a job that was a calamity at the time, allowed you to start the business of your dreams.

If we dive a little deeper, Dr. Martin Seligman who is the Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center and was President of the American Psychological Association offers further explanation.

In his book Learned Optimism, Dr. Seligman breaks our thought process down to three categories.

Permanence – Do we believe that bad events are temporary or permanent?

Pervasiveness – Is an event specific to a particular area and compartmentalized or is it translated globally to our entire life?

Personalization – Are the causes due to external circumstance or are they internally caused by us?

Pessimists tend to believe bad events will last a long time (permanence), will undermine everything they do (pervasiveness) and are their own fault (personalization). As a result, they give up more easily and get depressed more often.

When optimists are confronted with the same obstacles, they tend to believe defeat is a temporary setback, confined to this one case and is more a result of external circumstances or other factors such as bad luck.

According to Seligman, the way your mother talked about the world when you were a child had a marked influence. The mother’s level of optimism and the child’s level were very similar for both sons and daughters.

It is also widely believed that we all have a certain “set-point” for optimism. Shawn Anchor suggested in his book The Happiness Advantage that the set point could be as high as 50%, with your external circumstances accounting for 10% and the way in which you view the world making up the other 40%. Remember that picture?

Does it matter what filter we use to view our world?

The Benefits of Optimism

There are many benefits of having an overall optimist outlook. Research and studies have shown that optimism is often associated with better health and a longer life. Optimists also tend to be less affected by defeat and perceive it as a challenge and try harder. As a result they do better in school, work, regularly exceed predictions of aptitude tests and are healthier

As I discussed in a previous post, your brain runs optimally in most situations at a positive level versus negative or even a neutral state.

So should we just force ourselves to think positive all the time and live in La-La Land? Of course not….

In some situations, negative thinking offers a clear advantage.

If predicting potential pitfalls or diagnosing problems is a key to success, you don’t want to be overly optimistic. One study of 207 entrepreneurs found a negative correlation between entrepreneur’s optimism levels and success of their new venture.

Other studies have shown that optimistic gamblers lose more money. “Come on, I feel it, I know it will hit on red this time!”

Dr. Seligman also says in his book that the best lawyers are pessimists.  His explanation:

Pessimism is seen as a plus among lawyers… The ability to anticipate the whole range of problems and betrayals that non-lawyers are blind to is highly adaptive for the practicing lawyer who can, by so doing, help his clients defend against these far-fetched eventualities.

So what are we to do?

Like most things in life, things are rarely black and white and balance is incredibly important.

William Ward had a great quote that I think is appropriate.

“The pessimist complains about the wind.”

“The optimist expects it to change”

“The realist adjusts the sails”

There is overwhelming evidence that optimism wins the day in the majority of situations. Your ability to view negative events as temporarily, contained to one area of your life and changeable will make you happier, healthier and quite frankly more fun to be around!

It will also help you get up when you are knocked down and persevere through adversity, something that is critical to success in any endeavor.

That doesn’t mean you bury your head and the sand and assume you will win the lottery tomorrow. Looking for threats and possible pitfalls has its advantages and is necessary in the right situations.

From a natural and conditioned set point, I have the pessimism role down pretty well. That tends to come naturally if I am not careful. I have no problem projecting a small failure into the future, or taking it personally which keeps me stuck in the mud.

In order to bring me into balance and set me up for optimal performance I need to condition myself for optimism and override my thinking when I notice it heads down a path that is not helpful. I have found this necessary with many of my coaching clients as well.

So which is it, are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen

How to Get Out of Your “Funk”

I had a coworker come into my office this week, slump down in the chair in front of me and ask, “how do I get out of a funk?” “I am in a bad mood and just can’t seem to break out of it.”

We all have those times where, for whatever reason we are in a bad mood, or just don’t feel like ourselves. Often times we can’t even put our finger on the root cause.

It could be something as simple as a negative trigger that registers more on the subconscious level. A song on the radio that reminds you of a breakup with a significant other. An envelope that triggers all the bills you haven’t paid yet. A messy office that causes a feeling of overwhelm and a loss of control. It could stem from a few negative thoughts that popped up out of the blue, which now has you thinking worst case scenario, or focusing on all the things that aren’t going well at the moment.

Either way you have a choice. Do you want to stay in your funk, or do you want to take control and get out of it? It sounds like an easy question, but sometimes we are actually meeting some needs by being down. Every emotion can be effective at one time or another. Maybe it is your brain and body’s way of getting you to slow down and recharge.

However, in most cases, I know I want to snap out of it and get on with my day!

Here are a few ways that I have found to be most effective to jump start you out of a bad mood:

Movement – Nothing can shake off the blues quicker than getting moving. You don’t have to hammer away at the weights, or run yourself to death on the treadmill. Sometimes just something as simple as taking a walk outdoors is enough to turn the tide. There are many benefits, but for one it will increase your oxygen levels and boost your circulation. If it is during the day, the sun can even give you an added vitamin D boost, something many people are deficient in. If you don’t have the time or are unable to walk outside, just doing some jumping jacks will work, or strike a power pose mentioned in one of my previous posts. Just get moving!

Music – It is hard for you to sit in your chair with a frown on your face when your favorite song is blaring! Select some of your favorite tunes and you will be on your way in no time. Our brain actually responds differently depending on the type of music we are listening to. One study showed that the type of music participants listened to affected and influenced how they interrupted a neutral expression whether the music was happy or sad. As a bonus, dance around a little bit and you are hitting both M’s with Music and Movement!

Drink Some Water – Your brain uses up to 20% of the water and nutrients that you ingest (or don’t ingest). Unless you are walking around with a water jug all day, you probably aren’t drinking enough water. Even “mild” dehydration affects the way you feel and can cause you to have lower energy levels and decreased mood. Typically “thirst” doesn’t kick in until you are 1 – 2% dehydrated, which means you could already be in the mild dehydration zone. Next time you are feeling down, or low in energy,  grab a big glass of water and you will be surprised at how well it works. I have been doing this for years and it still amazes me how many times my low energy is due to lack of water and how quickly it comes back up after I drink a few glasses..

Change Your Focus – The great news is that we can control what we are thinking about, focusing on and doing at any moment. The bad news is that we rarely actually do it, instead flowing down the river of our external stimuli.  If all else fails, grab an inspiring book, watch something motivational on YouTube, look at pictures or videos of your kids, relive a big accomplishment, or count your blessings. Wherever our thoughts or focus goes, so does our feelings and emotions. Change your focus, change your mood. Sometimes we just need to put things in the proper perspective.

What else works for you?

Now it is time for me to go get a big glass of water and go for a walk!

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen


Happy one year anniversary to the SiteGoal Blog! It was last June when I posted my first blog post, many more to come. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any topics you would like me to write about.