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Welcome to my blog ! What will you find here? My intention is to post some thoughts and articles on things that are of interest to me.

Posts in the Communications category will cover various topics related to business communications over the Web, including traditional websites as well as social media. Sports category posts will feature some content on my favourite competitive sports, hockey and motor racing. I will also post in the Health category, touching on things I think lead to better health and well-being. In particular, I intend to post about my family’s experience with changing our diet. I’ll also post a few thoughts on what it’s like to raise a child with autism and will be writing about my experience with Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge personal improvement program.

Finally, I’m posting a page called Defining Moments. A few years ago, it was my intention to write a book called Defining Moments. That hasn’t happened yet, but I thought I’d post what I’ve written so far to get some feedback.

I hope you enjoy your visit!

Remembering Dad

This is just a quick note in remembrance of my Dad, who passed away five years ago today at the age of 77. I can still vividly recall his almost-nightly phone calls. We’d chat about all kinds of things; things like family life, health, religion, and sports. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years already.

Rest in peace,Dad. I miss you, yet I know you’re spirit is still near…

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep

I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glint on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain

When you awake in the morning hush
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight
And the soft stars that shine at night

Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die

– A poem read at Dad’s funeral

 

Part 4 – Review of Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge

Day 6 of PPC – The six human needs, and how to use them
In this session, Tony discusses how all human experiences can be boiled down into four classes, each determined by the pleasure we feel, if it serves us, if it serves others, and if it serves a greater good.

Experience Class Matrix

  Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4
Feels good Yes No Yes No
Is good for you Yes Yes No No
Is good for others Yes Yes No No
Serves the greater good Yes Yes No No

 We all love Class 1 experiences; these are the ones that feel effortless for you; things that you really look forward to doing. On the other hand, most people try to avoid Class 2 experiences because they get any pleasure from it.

On the flip side, we have Class 3 experiences that feel good, but ultimately destroy our quality of life and give us pain. An example of a Class 3 experience would be eating to excess; it feels good in t the moment, but ultimately it will lead to poor health. Finally, Class 4 experiences are negative through and through. An example here would be smoking, which most people would say doesn’t feel good the first time they did it, yet they continued to do it… and we all know the long-term effects of smoking.

According to Tony, the key to a happy and fulfilling life is turning Class 2 experiences – the ones you try to avoid despite them being good for you and others – into Class 1 experiences. But how? The secret is understanding and using the six basic human needs, which are:

  1. Certainty – feeling of comfort
  2. Uncertainty – variety, surprise
  3. Significance – sense that we are unique in some way
  4. Love and Contribution – sense of connection with others
  5. Growth – everything that is alive is either growing or dying… we need to grow
  6. Contribution – a need to grow beyond ourselves

This session’s assignment is to take a good look at a Class 2 experience in your life and then analyse the six basic needs to find out how that experience ranks for each need. Then, figure out what you could do to make that experience a positive one in each of the six basic needs, which then turns it into a Class 1 experience.

My thoughts
Since I listened to this session, I have used my new knowledge of the 6 human needs several times, both in comprehension my own motivation and the motivation of other people. In particular, this new knowledge has helped me better understand why I tend to avoid taking certain actions, even though I know these actions would ultimately benefit me.

So, this is a great session that provides indispensible understanding of what motivates human behaviour.

Day 7 of PPC – RPM, the Rapid Planning Method
If we’re really honest with ourselves, we’ll all admit that we’ve set goals for ourselves and then never followed through with action to achieve that goal. Haven’t you ever set a New Year’s resolution—like getting back in shape, for example—and then did nothing, or very little to achieve it? Maybe you went out and joined a gym, and worked out a few times, but you were pretty much done by February or March. I know I’ve been guilty of that! The reason? It’s because I didn’t have a compelling enough reason and a good enough plan.

In this session, Tony focuses on time—specifically achieving what you want to achieve in the time you have. Most of us have tried our hand at various methods to manage our time, from calendars to day planners and agendas on our laptops or smartphones. And I would guess that most of us have used those tools to some level of success, but we really didn’t achieve what we want to achieve. Here, Tony introduces us to a method he calls RPM, the Rapid Planning Method, which turns our focus on what we want to achieve, and why, rather than on our ‘to-do’ lists.

In brief, RPM boils down to answering three questions:

  1. What’s the result I want to achieve?
  2. Why do I really want it?
  3. What’s my plan to achieve it?

 The assignment for this session is to look at several areas of your life – for example, your health, finances, family, career, etc. – determine what you’d like to achieve in that area in the next 90 days, the next 30 days and this week, then think about why you want to achieve it and then come up with a MAP (Massive Action Plan) to achieve your outcome.

My thoughts
As I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews, the first step to getting anywhere is knowing where you want to go. This session really helped me take a look at several areas of my life where I felt I needed to make some improvements. I completed this session several weeks ago, and at the time I wrote down actions I intended to take to achieve my goals. Looking back on my notes, I’m happy to say that I’m still on track with most of them. So, I’d have to say that RPM is a worthwhile method to achieving your goals.

Next up: the Get the Edge sessions…

Part 3 – Review of Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge

Sessions 3-8 – Personal Power Classic Days 1-5

Sometimes there’s good news and sometimes there’s bad news. Let’s start with the bad news first.

It’s been almost two weeks since I last posted my progress with Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge program. I just haven’t had ANY time to sit down and write my thoughts. So, I’d like to say sorry to any of you out there who’ve been waiting for this blog post.

Now the good news; I’ve been continuing pretty much every day with the sessions and Tony has continued to inspire me to be more than I am today. I have been getting up 45 minutes early every day so that I can do my Hour of Power. Aside from the muscle pains that come from any new workout routine, I have to say my energy has been great, and perhaps more importantly, my outlook for each new day has been great.

So, let’s take a look at the journey Tony takes us on in the first few sessions of the second part of the Ultimate Edge program, called Personal Power Classic (PPC), which comes from Tony’s classic Personal Power 2 series.

Originally a 30 day program, Personal Power 2 has been condensed into a seven session mini-program, with each session building on the lessons learned in the previous one.

Day 1 of PPC – Success leaves clues, baby!
On day 1 of PPC, Tony speaks about the power of making decisions and introduces the “Ultimate Success Formula” for creating success in our lives:

  1. Know your outcome
  2. Take action
  3. Observe your results
  4. If what you’re doing isn’t working, change your approach

Another little secret to achievement is that success leaves clues; we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Tony recommends modelling to achieve results more rapidly; find someone who getting the results you want, find out what they’re doing, and do the same things!

Our assignment for day one of PPC is quite simple: take two decisions and take immediate action that is consistent with these new decisions.

My thoughts
Good, interesting session with lots of tips to achieving what we want to achieve. The assignment was simple and I finished up looking forward to the next session.

Day 2 of PPC – You get what you focus on
We’ve all heard the metaphor about the carrot and the stick; the carrot being an incentive and the stick being a deterrent. In the second session of PPC, Tony speaks about pain and pleasure, the two controlling forces that direct your life.

It’s simple, everything action we take in our lives comes from our need to avoid pain or to gain pleasure… or likely a combination of both. So, to take control of your life, it makes sense that you must somehow take control of these external forces. But how?

According to Tony, our reality is based on whatever you focus on. So, in order to change your behaviour, focus your attention on the carrot and the stick: how NOT changing a behaviour will be more painful than changing it, and how changing it now will bring immediate pleasure.

You can probably guess what the assignment is for this session.

  1. Take four new actions that you’ve been putting off
  2. Identify pain you’ve associated with following through in the past
  3. Identify the pleasure you’ve associated with not following through
  4. What pain will you get if you don’t follow through now?
  5. What pleasure will you gain when you follow through?

My thoughts
I liked this session a lot. I found the assignment thought-provoking and somewhat challenging. Taking the four decisions wasn’t the tough part; what was more difficult was searching for the pain and pleasure I’ve experienced by not following through on these decisions in the past.

On another note, one thing Tony always says that you should never leave the scene of a decision without taking action. I’m happy to say I did take action on a few things that were long overdue… thanks for the nudge in the right direction, Tony!

Days 3 and 4 of PPC – Your associations are controlling your motivation
Building on the last session, Tony explains that our neuro-associations – the pleasure or pain we link to a situation in our nervous system – determines our behaviour. So, if we want to change our behaviour, we have to change the pain or pleasure we link to that behaviour.

Tony introduces a science he calls Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC).Basically, NAC is a way to change our limiting associations. So, if you’ve been putting off taking a certain action, Tony teaches you how to link massive pleasure to taking action now. Similarly, if you’ve been overindulgent (overeating for example) and need to stop a current behaviour, the NAC process will allow you to link a lot of pain to that behaviour.

The assignments for day 3 and 4 of PPC are to identify three empowering neuro-associations and three disempowering neuro-associations from your past. Then, take the four actions that you have been putting off (listed a couple of sessions ago), and get leverage on yourself by identifying 10 reasons why you must make a change now. Once you’ve done that, find ways to interrupt your current patterns and then practice (that’s the conditioning part of NAC) breaking your old patterns.

My thoughts
I found this tough. Perhaps it is because I wasn’t fully understanding neuro-associations (I had to listen to these sessions twice), or it’s because I don’t have any strong neuro-associations. I’m not sure, but I will continue working on this, because I don’t think I’ve fully grasped NAC yet. That’s something worth mentioning; just because you’ve completed an assignment for one of Tony’s sessions, that doesn’t mean you can’t go back and do it again. In fact, I would encourage it… it’s all part of making adjustments to achieve your goals.

I did appreciate that going through these exercises has forces me to get honest with myself; something I’ll certainly be doing more of as I continue along my personal growth journey.

Day 5 of PPC – Goal setting workshop
You knew it was coming, didn’t you? What kind of self-help program would this be without some sort of goal setting exercise! Setting goals makes sense – remember that the first step in achieving anything is knowing what you want to achieve.

Here, Tony leads us through a workshop to setting goals in three key areas:

  1. Personal development goals
  2. Thing /material goals
  3. Financial / economic goals

For each of these areas, our assignment is to identify as many goals as we want. Then, list when you want to achieve them; for example, one year, three years, etc. And then, find the top three one-year goals and write a paragraph about why you are committed to achieving that goal now.

Remember that you should never leave the site of a decision without taking action. So, for each of your top three goals in each area, take some action toward achieving it.

Finally, take what Tony calls the rocking chair test. Imaging yourself many years from now, sitting in a rocking chair, looking back at your list and realizing that you never achieved certain goals. How would tha make you feel? Then turn it around – look back from your rocking chair and see that you’ve achieved your goals… and experience those positive feelings.

My thoughts
It’s always fun to be able to dream. To be like a kid again, making my Christmas wish list for Santa to bring; no limits and no worries about how I was going to achieve it. It was fun to be able to look at my wish list and then think about what I really want, when I want it and why.

Next up: finishing up Personal Power Classic and then on to Get the Edge

Part 2 – Review of Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge

Session 2 – Inner Strength: Your Hour of Power

In this session, Tony explains how every decision in our lives is controlled by two forces; our state (how we feel in the moment) and our blueprint (our structure of beliefs and values). We’ll apparently learn more about our blueprint in the last session of Ultimate Edge, but for this session, Tony concentrates on how we can control our state.

Have you ever stopped to think about all of the different emotions – positive and painful – you feel during an average week? That was the first exercise in this session of Ultimate Edge. My list was surprisingly small, and from what I understand, that’s pretty common.

We can’t control all of the events in our lives, but we can control what the event means to us. Today’s session, the Hour of Power, helps us establish rituals that will condition us to consistently be in an empowering emotional state.

What Tony calls the Hour of Power is all about taking time for yourself, each and every day, the first thing every morning. So, here’s how it works…

  • Step 1: Get up and start moving. If you can, go outside for a walk, or jump on the treadmill and start out slow. This will jumpstart your metabolism. Remember to breath. Take a few deep breaths in this ratio: inhale for one count, hold for four counts and exhale for two counts. Then for the next five minutes, practice inhaling four times through your nose and then exhaling four times through your mouth.
  • Step 2: All about gratitude and visualization. For about 10 minutes, think about everything you are grateful for, staring with things about yourself, family, friends, colleagues, special moments in your life and so on. Then visualize everything you want in your life as if you had it today.
  • Step 3: Incantations and exercise for 15-30 minutes. Tony suggest speaking incantations repeatedly while exercising. For example, you could say something like “every day, in every way, I’m feeling stronger and stronger” or “all I need is within me now.”

The assignment for this session was pretty simple. Look for “magic moments” during the day, and then do the Hour of Power the next day.

My thoughts
I got up early and tried the Hour of Power… well, in truth it ended up being the 45 minutes of Power, but I’m still giving myself credit for getting up to do this!

At first, I thought the breathing patterns would be difficult, and to be honest, I didn’t expect much from it. But to my surprise, somewhere around the three or four-minute mark, I got a sudden surge of energy. Now I’m curious to see if I’ll have the same experience every day.

The gratitude and visualization went well. One thing I find though, I that I visualize better with my eyes closed, which is fine if I’m on a treadmill or an elliptical machine, but not so good if I’m going for a jog.

Honestly, the incantation felt odd, but I did them. I did find myself speaking the incantations rather softly, instead of at a regular volume. Also, I spoke even softer when my son joined me in the room where I was exercising! So, the incantations take some getting used to… and I’m going to have to get over the embarrassment if I want to give this a real shot. :-)

I felt great after my Hour of Power! My mood and energy was fantastic all day long, so I’d have to say my first experience was enough to get me to try this for a while.

Next up: the first Personal Power sessions

Review of Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge

Session 1 – Inner Strength: Decisions and Destiny

I have to admit to a certain amount of excitement when I heard that my Ultimate Edge package had arrived in the mail. A couple of weeks earlier, I had downloaded the first session from Tony Robbins’ website and I was anxious to get started on the program.

What you get when you order Ultimate Edge is a nicely designed package containing 26 CDs, two DVDs, a success journal and some coupons for a free live coaching session and for discounts on Tony’s live events. The program is divided into three parts:

  • Part 1: Inner Strength (2 sessions to do at the beginning of the program and a third session to do at the end)
  • Part 2: Personal Power Classic (7 days/sessions)
  • Part 3: Get the Edge (7 days/sessions)

As I mentioned, I had already listened to the first session, called “Inner Strength: Decisions and Destiny” prior to receiving the package in the mail. Still, I felt it would be better to refresh my memory and re-listen to the first session.

Session 1 of Inner Strength is recorded on two CDs and is fairly long at about 103 minutes. I downloaded the CDs to my iPod and set off the next day on my journey to achieve the ultimate edge, which is not about getting the edge over someone else, but rather getting the most out of yourself.

The first thing that really strikes you when you listen to a Tony Robbins CD is his enthusiasm. The man delivers his message with such oomph that it almost seems impossible that the same energy could be maintained throughout the session. But the energy is maintained, and Tony talks us through a lot of material aimed at helping us understand the driving forces in our lives. Tony covers a lot of material in those 103 minutes, so much so that I was compelled to listen to this session twice!

In this session, Tony talks about

  • Understanding and directing the forces that shape our lives:
    • the three pillars of progress; Getting focussed, getting the best tools and getting integrated and aligned.
  • Resources vs. resourcefulness: how we often make excuses about not having enough resources, while the truth is that we can find those resources with some resourcefulness.
  • Master lessons in life: the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment.
  • Decisions: how we all make decisions at every moment in the day – what do we focus on, what does that mean to us and what are we going to do with that information?
  • Three choices we make when we feel pain: Blame, change our life conditions, change our blueprint.

At the end of every session, and sometimes in the middle of a session, Tony gives us some homework to do. ‘Cause, let’s face it, listening to a program like this is not much use if you’re not going to follow through and make the changes you want in your life.

In this session, Tony encouraged me to think about, and write down, the area of my life where I am most happy… and why. Similarly, I thought about an area in my life where I was not happy… and why. Finally, today’s last assignment was to write a paragraph or two describing what my vision of my ideal life would be.

My thoughts
Interesting stuff; especially that last exercise. I, like many people, have gone through this thought process before… usually right after I buy a lottery ticket! LOL The difference here is that Tony encouraged me to really envision my ideal life as a whole… what kind of shape would I be in? What kind of house would I live in? Would I travel? Would I work? What kinds of activities would I do with my family?

I found that writing it down made it seem a more real to me. So, I’d encourage any of you who are reading this blog to write a paragraph or two about your own extraordinary life. Remember, the first step in getting anywhere is knowing where you want to go!

If you’re interested in getting a short glimpse of what Tony discusses in Session 1, watch this YouTube video:

Tony Robbins

Next up… Session 2: Your Hour of Power

On the path to personal growth – My experience with the Tony Robbins approach

I have been a Tony Robbins fan for quite some time. I bought his classic Unlimited Power book back in the early 90s. I thought it was a great book, but a really heavy read. So, to be honest, I didn’t finish it, but I did start to use some of the techniques Tony described. 

By the way, getting off the subject a bit, I’m referring  to Tony by his first name in this article. I’ve never met the man but judging by his presentation style in his audio programs, I think he’d be comfortable with that. Besides, through the years, I feel like the guy has affected my life, so he feels familiar to me and it would sound strange to refer to him as ‘Robbins’ throughout this article. Now, back to the subject… 

As I mentioned, I found reading Unlimited Power a little heavy, so I figured my best bet would be to listen to one of Tony’s audio programs. We’ve all seen his infomercials on TV. I remember the one back in the early 90s hosted by Fran Tarkenton. I had just been laid off from my job and things weren’t looking so good for me. I wanted to order the program, but my problem was I didn’t have any money. What I did have was a little bit of luck. My local library had a copy of Tony’s audio book – Unlimited Power. So, I borrowed that, and I was hooked by Tony’s raw enthusiasm. 

My life improved in many areas, particularly on the career side, as I applied many of Tony’s techniques. I found a new job, moved back to Montreal, and started training at the gym. I progressed for a while… then I got comfortable and stopped growing as an individual. It took some time, but I realized that I wasn’t who I wanted to be and I wasn’t working toward becoming that person. So, I renewed my journey… I borrowed Tony’s Personal Power 2 audio tapes from the library… and it helped. 

I began to come out of the shell I had built around myself. Friends noticed the change, especially one friend in particular… the woman who would later become my wife! Partly because of the transformation I had made after following some of Tony’s advice, Lori Anne started to fall in love with me… which was good, because I was already in love with her! :-) 

Moving forward several years, I was happily married; had one child and another on the way. Things were good on the personal side of life, but I was at a crossroads in my career. I was unhappy working where I was, so once again I turned to Tony’s programs to get me going. I took a decision that would change my life; I quit my job and started my own business! You might even say it was a Defining Moment… which is where I got the title to my book project

Fast forward to today. My business is going strong, but I find myself at another crossroads. I’m not the person I know I can be. Anyone who has met me knows that I tend to be a quiet guy, a bit shy, and not the type of person that shows a lot of emotion. I’ve been that way a long time… it’s that shell that I’ve built up around myself. Now, I want that to change… no… I will make it change

So, last week I ordered Tony’s Ultimate Edge CD and DVD program. I began the program a couple of days ago and I decided it would be interesting to write my thoughts as I go through the sessions. Why? Two reasons, really. First, I thought it would be interesting for anyone else who might be interested in Ultimate Edge. Second, and more importantly, it will put a little bit of pressure on me to follow through with the whole program, including completing all of the exercises. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting my review of Ultimate Edge. I don’t intend on revealing details of my personal growth journey, it’ll be more about the program itself and what parts of my life it has encouraged me to examine and improve. 

I can’t tell you if I’ll be posting daily as I complete each session; that will depend on the free time I have. What I can tell you is the result. Tony always says that in order to get somewhere, we need to know our outcome. Here’s what mine will be… 

I will be a better colleague… a better friend… a better son and brother… a better Dad… a better husband… a better man.

Hope you come back to read my review…

How a simple diet change lead to my 15-pound weight loss

The Wii Fit told me I was fat. Something had to be done. 

Late last year, we bought a Wii Fit balance board to go along with our Nintendo Wii system. If you are not familiar with it, the Wii Fit lets you play some fun sports and do some moderate exercise on your Wii system. The system tracks your progress by timing how long you’ve been playing charting your weight over time. Much to my surprise, I was considered ‘overweight’ by the Wii Fit. I asked my wife if she agreed, and she told me that while I wasn’t fat, I had gained a few pounds. She was right, my weight was the heaviest I had ever been in my lifetime, and about 10 pounds more than the weight I maintained when I was training regularly a few years ago. 

So, I started exercising again, thinking that I’d be able to sweat off the extra pounds. It worked, to a degree. I’d lose two or three pounds, but then put them back on a few days later. 

Around the same time, my brother-in-law introduced us to a movie he had seen called Food Matters, a really interesting documentary about the important role food and vitamins play in our health. In many ways, Food Matters changed our lives. We started to buy organic foods, whenever possible. We avoided the middle aisles of the grocery store, where you find all of the processed ‘food’. Instead, we stuck to the aisles where you find organic fruits and vegetables. We bought beef and chicken from organic farms. We also cut down on breads. Our grocery bill skyrocketed, but we thought it was worth the price if the health benefits followed. 

To be honest, I didn’t really want to change my diet. I was happy with how I was eating, even though I knew (and the Wii Fit reminded me) that I had gained a few extra pounds. I enjoyed my bagel for breakfast. I liked going for chinese food or a club sandwich at lunch when I was at the office. But I was willing to give a diet change a try to see if would make any difference. 

The changes we made were easy enough. Instead of a bagel with peanut butter or cream cheese in the morning, I switched to eating some organic Manna bread that I bought from a local health food store, plus a fresh banana, for breakfast. At lunch, instead of fast food at the local food court, I brought my own mixed organic salad. Instead of cookies or crackers for dessert, I ate raw almonds. 

Now, I always thought of salad as a side dish; I never figured it could be the entire meal. I figured I would still be hungry after lunch. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. 

For supper, we replaced the mashed potatoes or rice with salad. Our target was that at least 50% of each meal was vegetables; either raw or lightly cooked. 

After a few days, I felt pretty good and the pounds started to come off. Before I knew it, I had lost almost 15 pounds and the Wii Fit ranked me in the ‘normal’ weight range. 

Now, keep in mind that I wasn’t exercising any more than I was before; I continued to play hockey once or twice per week just I had been doing all along. The only change was what I was eating.

NASCAR arrives in Montréal

The NASCAR Nationwide series arrives in Montréal this weekend for the NAPA Auto Parts 200. This is the fourth visit for the Nationwide series at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

This year’s race will feature a few Sprint Cup regulars, a few road course aces and several Canadian drivers, including Ron Fellows, Andrew Ranger, Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve.

Jacques Villeneuve in the #32 Dollar General Camry

While I’ll be happy to see any of our Canadian drivers win, I’ll be cheering for Villeneuve, who will be driving the #32 Dollar General car for Braun Racing. I’ve been a JV fan since his CART racing days in the mid-90s and I’d really like to see him do well in his home town on the course named for his father.

My hope is that a win in Montréal will finally open the doors for him to secure a full-time ride in either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup series for next year. JV proved that he can race on oval tracks when he won the Indy 500 and CART championship back in 1995; so I have no doubt that given the right team and a good car, JV will be able to challenge for the win every weekend.

To be honest, I’d rather see him racing in NASCAR next year than starting his own Formula 1 team. I don’t really want to see JV run at the back of the pack race after race; it’s just not fitting of the championship calibre driver that he is. Still, if the FIA does grant JV and his partners a new F1 team, and we should know that answer soon, I’ll still support him.

In the meantime, good luck to our Canadian drivers this weekend! Enjoy the race!