Big Rocks First – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday December 1, 2007

Today’s Thought:
What is is, but that doesn’t mean it’s what must be.
~ Ray Davis

big_rocks.jpgToday, perhaps, is not my most original post. However, there are certain ideas and concepts that we keep forgetting. An occasional reminder never hurts.

You may be familiar with the Big Rocks analogy. If not, let me briefly recount it. The story has countless derivations. Many authors credit Steven Covey for putting it in his book First Things First.

A college professor instructing a class full of high-powered, driven, MBA candidates decided to make a point to this group of overachievers. He announced to the class, “It’s time for a quiz.”

There was shuffling in the room as the students pulled out pen and paper and prepared themselves to expound on some esoteric principle of macroeconomics. To their surprise, the professor produced a large, wide-mouthed glass jar from behind his desk. As the class looked on, the professor placed a series of fist-sized rocks into the jar until the rocks reached the top of the jar.

“Is the jar full,” he queried the class?

One particularly eager student raised her hand, but could not even wait to be called on. She proclaimed, “Yes, professor, the jar is full.”

“Are you sure,” asked the professor, patiently?

He produced a jar filled with small pebbles and began to pour them into the first jar until they filled all the space between the larger rocks. When he’d finished he asked again, “Is the jar full?”

Skeptical, from being burned the first time, someone said, “Probably not.”

Smiling, the professor pulled out a jar of sand and poured it into the first jar. The sand seeped into the crevices between the pebbles and filled the space. As the sand reached the top, the professor had one of the students come to the front of the room and pat the sand down and smooth it so that it was even with the top of the jar.

“Now is the jar full?”

A few people were now ready to guess again that the jar was full. The professor pulled out a bottle of water and began pouring it into the jar. The water was absorbed by the sand. When he had poured as much water as the jar could hold, the professor asked one more time if the jar was full.

The class sat there, a bit unsure. Finally, the professor confirmed that the jar was now full.

“If we apply this example to our lives,” the professor asked, “what is the lesson?”

One student raised his hand and said, “That if we really, really try we can always fit one more thing into our lives?”

“No,” responded the professor satisfied that they had taken the bait, “The lesson is that if we don’t put the big rocks in first, there won’t be room for them.”

If all goes well, we get about 80 trips around the Sun (plus or minus 10) in this life. The water, the sand, and the pebbles are always going to be there knawing at us, stealing our time away. We have to put the Big Rocks into our 80-year jar first or we may never get to them.

Coaching their sales teams is the Big Rock (in their job) for managers in my company. For most, it was not only the most critical to their success, but the real reason they like being a sales manager. Yet, all the little things were getting in the way because they were not putting the Big Rock into their calendars FIRST.

My wife and I took our first trip to Hawaii this past March. We absolutely fell in the love with the place. We developed a mutually shared dream to live there one day.

hawaii_kauai_hanalei_bay_beach_0055Friends and family don’t think we’re serious, but we are already thinking about and acting on ways to make it happen. We both are afflicted by the sights of the beautiful blue water every time we close our eyes.

Hawaii has become a Big Rock for us. When it came time to decide on a vacation destination for next year there was no discussion. We could have gone somewhere we haven’t been before, but we put our Big Rock into the jar FIRST. We booked another trip to Hawaii.

What are the Big Rocks in your life? Who are the people, which are the experiences, what are the achievements that bring or would bring you the most joy? Are they the FIRST things in your proverbial calendar or are they relegated to the bottom of the pile in the hope that you will get to them someday?

The end of the year is always a great time to reflect and take stock of our direction your life. Think about what your Big Rocks are and make sure they are the priority in 2008.

Peace…

Ray

For more inspiring content, visit The Affirmation Spot website or YouTube channel.

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Interview with Andreea Ayers of Tees for Change – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday November 28, 2007


Thank you for visiting The Affirmation Spot. Your comments on the blog or this article are always welcome. Please click here to comment on today’s blog.




ray_launchpad.jpgWhat Ray’s reading right now:

April and I are reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. This is the latest Oprah’s Book Club selection. Oprah and the author Eckhart Tolle are hosting a 10-week online course covering this book beginning Monday March 3. They recommend reading the book before the class. You can register for free at Oprah.com



March Affirmation Sale!

Beginning February 28 Download any two affirmations during March from The Affirmation Spot.com and get a third affirmation free. There are no limits! You can download 20 and get 10 free. Simply type the word “blog” into the coupon field at checkout. Thanks for getting your audio affirmations at The Affirmation Spot!



Today The Affirmation Spot begins a series of interviews with and articles about inspirational people. These are people making a difference in the world by demonstrating the courage to share their gifts and pursue their dreams. My hope is that their stories will inspire you to begin taking steps in the direction of your dreams.
tees_for_change1.jpgThe first installment is an interview with Andreea Ayers, Founder of a Boulder, Colorado company called Tees For Change. Andreea started the company in early 2007 and it is already transforming her life and the lives of everyone wearing her products.

Her company is something special. Tees For Change is very eco-conscious – all their products are organic, they use low-impact eco-friendly dyes, and they plant a tree for each t-shirt sold. Her t-shirts proclaim emphatically positive messages such as, “today matters”, and “choose happiness”.

In a recent interview with on makethemostofu.com, Andreea is quoted as saying, “I am hoping that my tees will impact the person wearing them and also the many people he/she comes in contact with. Words are so powerful, as are thoughts, and a slight shift in your thoughts can make a difference in your day.

Our tees really make you think. What does “live mindfully’ or “today matters” mean to you? It’s probably different than what it means to your friend, sister or co-worker. My goal is to get people to at least stop for a moment and think “hmmm…” I want people to have conversations (with each other or even within themselves) about what the words on our tees mean to them.”

The following interview was conducted with Andreea by e-mail.

The Affirmation Spot:  Andreea, thank for your time. Can you share with us a little bit about your professional background and how your path led you to create Tees For Change? And, please tell us about Tees For Change and your goals for the company.

Andreea:  My background is in marketing for ‘green’ companies. I have a degree in Marketing from Cornell University and my first few jobs out of college were in market research and analysis. In 2001 I started to work for a non-profit publication called The Green Guide and, because the company was so small, I did everything but editorial and fundraising.

That was a great way for me to learn all aspects of online and offline marketing, customer service and the publishing industry. Then in 2004 I branched off on my own and self-published a book called The Green Apple: Organic coupons for healthy living in NYC. It was a guide and coupon book to everything eco-friendly in the Big Apple. However, I felt that I wanted to do something more national in scope and reach out to more people, so I did not re-publish the guide in 2005-2006.

In late 2005 I became a marketing consultant for Ideal Bite, a great company that sends out free, daily eco-living tips by email. I did their affiliate marketing, online marketing, and set up marketing partnerships, so I had the chance to learn more about ‘green’ marketing and building an email list.

Then, in 2006, after a brief stint in direct marketing at New York University, my husband and I moved out to Boulder, CO. I got the idea to start Tees For Change while I was in a prenatal yoga class. My goal for Tees For Change is to grow the company and reach out to as many people as possible. Right now our tees are available for sale in nearly 50 yoga studios across the US, but it would be great to have them available in every state and hopefully, one day, to have our own Tees For Change storefront or showroom.

tees_for_change_men.jpg

TAS:  Unfortunately, we live in a world bathed in a lot of fear and unhappiness. I’m sure you’re aware that many people see “positive thinking” as somewhat unrealistic in the face of realities like war and famine. In your experience, what tangible difference does thinking positively make in our lives and in our world?

Andreea:  In my opinion, thinking positively has a huge impact on our lives and decisions. I grew up in a communist country where people were constantly afraid and did not trust anyone. Then there was my grandmother who always instilled in us to think positively and look at the bright side. She lived her life that way, despite all the hardships she encountered during communism and despite the fact that her husband died when they were still very young. Today, she is 95 years old and still looks at the bright side of things. She taught me by example that positive thinking is the way to go.

I learned that you can’t be creative if you are constantly afraid. And if you can’t create, then you can’t advance. So, in order to grow as a person, a company or a nation, you can’t be afraid.

I don’t watch the news because all they report on is what is wrong with our neighborhoods, our schools, our roads, and our security. Can you imagine how different your evening would be if you turn on the news and you hear about all the good things people are doing in our communities and in our country? Just by being aware of people doing good things you feel better. Imagine if you walked around all day thinking good thoughts! I constantly challenge myself to think positively, even if I might not feel it at the moment, just to see what happens. It makes a huge difference!

TAS:  You’re a new mother with a new and growing business, I’m sure there are tough days. Who and what keeps you inspired and motivated? Do you have any role models, mentors, or heros?

Andreea:  There are definitely tough days, but I love what I do, so that makes my challenges a bit more manageable. I am definitely inspired by my family and by the natural world around me. I am inspired when my customers write to tell me about the difference that one of our tees has made in their lives. I am inspired by people who follow their dreams, whether it’s to be a doctor, entrepreneur, teacher, musician or plumber. I am constantly inspired by children – they naturally ‘think big’ and it’s amazing to see their drive and determination.
 
Everyone I meet is a role model, in one way or another. The ‘positive people’ teach me what to do and the ‘negative people’ teach me what not to do. Sometimes I feel that we all start out as role models and then, somewhere down the line, life takes over and we forget what it’s like to have dreams and ambitions. I think I’ll add two new tees that will say “be unrealistic” and “reclaim yourself.”

TAS: What does owning and operating your own business mean to you?

Andreea:  It means that I can be creative and follow my dreams. But it also means working long hours and taking risks (good and bad) that I would not normally take if I was working for somebody else. Having my own business has allowed me to constantly challenge myself and to question my decisions and actions.

TAS:  Many people have creative dreams or business ideas they want to pursue. Often, they feel paralyzed by the perceived risk or by other peoples’ opinions. If you could speak directly to one of those people sitting in a cubicle in corporate America reading this interview or to someone working a job that’s not advancing their dreams, what advice would you give him or her? What words of wisdom can you offer to persuade that person that following your bliss is worth it?

Andreea:  Well, I think that there is definitely a place for corporate America in all of us. I learned a great deal from working for other companies, small and large. There is value in learning from other people who know more than you do. But, having said that, I think that if the spark is there, you’ll know when you’re ready to pursue your dreams. For some people it might not make sense to quit their job and start their own business, but what if those people start their own business (part-time), while holding on to their job?
 
About five years ago I read a great book called Kiss Off Corporate America : A Young Professional’s Guide to Independence by Lisa Kivirist. I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of leaving the cubicle life. It inspired me to leave my corporate job and start my own market research firm. Even though the market research firm didn’t work out (there was still so much more that I needed to learn!!!), it was a great experience and it gave me the courage to start other things later on. I personally feel better when I know I tried something (even though it might not have worked out) than when I don’t try it at all.

tees_for_change_women2.jpg

TAS:  Finally, what’s on the horizon for Tees For Change? Do you have any new lines coming out? Where can people find your tees? Are you expanding beyond tees into other products or apparel?

Andreea:  I am currently working on sourcing the tees for the Spring 2008 line and I will be adding more styles (tank tops, sweatshirts) and colors. I want to expand to other products, especially eco-friendly ones like canvas bags and reusable water bottles.

Right now, people can find the tee at Tees For Change and at nearly 50 yoga studios and boutiques across the country. For an updated list, they can visit http://teesforchange.com/retailers.
 
Thanks so much for allowing me to share my story!

TAS:  Thank you, Andreea, for generously sharing your time and your insights on positive thinking and pursuing your dreams.
With the holidays fast approaching, there is probably someone on your list who could use or would appreciate “the gift of positive”. Tees For Change is ideal for that person. Here is a quick FAQ on shipping and the logistics of ordering a shirt from Tees For Change.
 
Peace…

Ray
The Affirmation Spot.com

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A Traveling Poem – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday November 21, 2007

Welcome to The Affirmation Spot. If this is your first time to the site, be sure to click one of the subscription options (top left) to be notified each time the blog is updated. Thank you for visiting. Tell your your positive-thinking, motivated friends and your not-so-motivated friends about the blog. There is something for everyone.


airplane2_rs.jpgThe week of Thanksgiving, they say, is the busiest travel week of the year. Millions of Americans are traveling to be with family for the holiday.

However, millions more are going to be separated from their loved ones this weekend. Some for financial reasons. Others because they or their loved one is serving the nation in Iraq, Afghanistan, or somewhere else around the world. Still others, because of emotional distances that separated family or friends over time.

I wrote the following poem a few years ago when my wife was on the road for business nearly every week. Occasionally, I still send the poem to her…just because. It speaks to the distance between us when we are separate, but affirms that no number of miles can ever truly keep us apart when we are connected at the speed of love.

If you’re going to be separated from someone you love this weekend, I hope you’ll send this poem to them as a reminder that you are thinking about them.Enjoy the poem and your Thanksgiving

love1.jpg“A Traveling Poem”

Even when you’re far away,
My heart is still nearby.
Even if the world should fall,
not a thing could break our tie.

There is nothing of time or space
within our special bond.
It transcends all the eye can see;
born of truths that lie beyond.

Take my love with you today
and know that I’m right here.
When, tomorrow, we meet again,
in my heart you’ll be more dear.  

Peace…

Ray
The Affirmation Spot.com

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Self-Confidence and Understanding – The Affirmation Spot for Monday November 19, 2007

business_handshake_rs.jpgToday’s affirmation is:

“I look everyone I encounter squarely in the eye with sincere respect for them and complete confidence in myself. I am firm in my conviction that I am up to any reasonable challenge. I have the courage and understanding to meet the world on an equal footing; looking down on no one nor standing in awe of anyone.

For everyone, beyond his or her position and burdens, is simply another human being doing the best possible given his or her current circumstances. Remembering this creates understanding within me and contributes to my peace of mind and success.”

This affirmation speaks of courage, conviction, and the confidence to meet the world head on. When we allow our problems and challenges to take center stage in our lives it’s easy to fall into a cycle of diminishing self-confidence. We forget who we truly are and why we’re truly here. We forget our uniqueness and ignore our greatness.

Worse, those feelings and that forgetfulness have ripple effects in the world. We don’t give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and we are even less likely to grant it to the next person. Our thoughts become narrow and judgmental and we don’t take into account the circumstances under which the next person is operating. 

The world can be a better place starting today, if only you will live with greater confidence. When you are confident your vision broadens and more possibilities open up. You see yourself and the world with balanced eyes that recognize strengths as well as opportunities for improvement.

ralph_waldo_emerson.jpgRalph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.” Let’s keep the universe with us today.  Pledge to believe in yourself at least a little more than yesterday. Meet the world as an equal and it is forced to treat you as one.

Peace…

Ray
The Affirmation Spot.com

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A New Sun Is Rising – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday November 17, 2007

Today’s affirmation is a couple of paragraphs I wrote to record a dream I had a few years ago. May it create hope in all who read it today.

The sun is rising; the clouds have passed away. And in the minds of at least a few, a greater consciousness has arisen. Tradition is no more. There is only awareness: an awareness of radiant possibilities and transcendent hopes for a world about to be born.

A world in which our fondest dreams shall come to pass. Where the greatest potentiality of humanity is realized:  that each member of the human family will awaken to the inner light that opens one’s heart and frees one’s mind to look across culture, race, gender, religion and vast distance and see oneself.   

Be of good cheer, o patient ones, for this new day dawns; a day of wonder and hope. A day, when filled with joy, all people shall attain their full potential. Long has been the night of toil and pain. Too long have brothers and sisters lived according to their fear of each other rather than their love for each other. But no more, the blinders have come off.

Finally and forever the Human Race will stand in the radiance of the truths that have lived within each of us all along. Truths that can no longer be ignored or distorted. The truth of our UNITY and our place in this planet’s web of life and in the greater cosmos beyond.

Peace…

Ray
The Affirmation Spot.com

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The Universe Rewards Action – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday November 7, 2007

A very, very pleasant Wednesday morning to everyone.

As some of you are aware, in addition to The Affirmation Spot, I write sales training for a Fortune 50 company. This week I have been in New York for the pilot of new sales manager workshop we developed.

One of my colleagues – known for his ability to turn a phrase – provided an aphorism for the managers this week.

“The Universe rewards action”.

It’s true, you know. Affirmations are about encouraging and reinforcing the thoughts that inspire action, improve the results of action, and help you stay committed to the actions that will create the life you seek.

Thoughts are the foundation of words and words of action. What we think about we talk about. Although we don’t always follow through on what we talk about, we always begin by verbalizing the things we wind up doing

Thoughts > Words > Action > Reward

If the Universe rewards action and we know that certain action is more apt to materialize our dreams, why not begin taking the action today?

The sooner we act the sooner we can expect to begin seeing results!

Make it a great Wednesday. It is the only one you have all week!


Ray
The Affirmation Spot.com 

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Mistakes Are Part of Being Human

Today’s Affirmation:

“I make mistakes in my life. It is part of being a human being. I forgive myself for them and I move on to bigger and better things.” 

tng_data_picard.jpgFor Today’s thought, I take from a scene from Star Trek: The Next Generation (yes wisdom and insight can come from anywhere).  I’ll provide minimal background for those not familiar with the show.  The scene is between Data (an android officer always trying to understand and grow closer to his “humanity”) and Picard (Captain of the Enterprise).

Data has removed himself from duty after losing at a game of strategema to a “biological” life-form visting the Enterprise.  Convinced that he must have a system malfunction for such a thing to have happened he removes himself to his quarters where he sits in “self-doubt” analyzing himself for system malfunctions. Finally, after two other shipmates attempt, Picard comes to Data and orders him back to duty.

Data says, “Captain, I do not think that would be wise. Clearly the fact that I could lose a game to a biological life-form indicates that I am imperfect. You cannot count on my assessments as they may be flawed. I must find the malfunction. Otherwise I might make a mistake.”

Then Picard says something rather profound. “Yes, you might make a mistake. That’s called being human, Data.   You know, it is possible to make no mistakes and still lose.”

Mistakes are those things none of us like to make. They cause us embarrassment and sometimes real pain.  Many spend their entire lives trying to avoid them at all cost and missing out on much life in the process.Having made a mistake we often act as Data did.

We put our lives on hold, afraid to take the next step for fear we are flawed and incapable. That disempowering message is, afterall, something many of us had drilled into us from an early age. And yet, in one of the great conundrums of our society, we feel we must be perfect and never make mistakes.

We conceive that our lives would be far less stressful, if only we could avoid them all together.  Picard’s statement equates making mistakes with being human, in other words, as long as we ARE human we WILL make mistakes. An acceptance factor is in play here.Secondly, he says it is possible to make no mistakes and still not achieve all we desire.

We spend much time playing if only…If only this my career would be better, if only that my relationships would be better. We often are left wondering what we could have done differently to change something. 

The answer, sometimes, is NOTHING. We may have done ALL we could to help someone, or get a good education, or raise our children, or advance in our careers. It IS possible to make no mistakes and still not achieve our intention. Yet, we may look back and feel inclined to judge ourselves for what we did or didn’t do in a given situation.

We need not riddle ourselves with guilt, self-doubt, and regret  regarding such things. If we can accept that we will make mistakes, but also that they are not the end of the world; and accept that even if we don’t make them things will not always turn out our way we can achieve some measure of peace.

This is not intended as some relativistic “let’s all live in mediocrity”  or “not strive for excellence” message, but rather as a reminder go a little easier on yourself when you slip along the way. Once we can do that we can expand that understanding to others. Another example of how creating a happier more sane world starts within and spreads to without.

In his book Happiness Is a Choice, Bernie Neal Kaufmann relates a Native American Medicine Wheel regarding mistakes. Kaufmann describes the wheel in this way.

  • The top of the wheel reads: “I accept my mistakes.”
  • The left side of the wheel reads: “I learn from my mistakes.”
  • The bottom of the wheel reads: “I learn from the mistakes of others.”
  • The right side of the wheel reads: “I learn from the mistakes of my teachers.”
  • Finally, the center of the wheel reads: “I understand there is no such thing as
    a mistake.”

When we choose to live by this very astute advice we understand that everything that happens…including our mistakes…are a blessing and a teacher.

Follow your bliss. Experience your bliss. Become your bliss.

Ray

Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and the author of Anunnaki Awakening: Revelation – order your signed copy today at AATrilogy.com. He advocates for the potential of the human race. He’s life-long history buff and holds a B.S. in History Education. He’s always been fascinated by alternative views of history.

anunnaki_cover_full_colorAnunnaki Awakening: Revelation is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity’s past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.

White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leaders seeks to unravel and reveal history’s biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!