where© Gaye Wilson, 2009

This blog talks about ways to win your victory, but so far it hasn’t talked about what your victory is.

What is your victory?

It is your goal, your desire, your dream, your fantasy. It’s what you want in life. It’s what you want to do or accomplish. It’s your current project. It’s what motivates you to get up in the morning. It’s that thing you’ve always wanted since you were a child.

It’s your reason for being.

Everyone has goals. Everyone has dreams. And everyone has projects. All of them are different, but all have a desired end result.

That’s your victory. Your desired end result.

So what is your desired end result? Do you want to lose weight? Learn a language? Complete a doctorate? Or do you simply want to clean up your garage or start a garden?

In order to win your victory, you first need to know what that victory will look like. How will you recognise it when you achieve it? What exactly is it that you want? What specifically is your desired result?

Once you know that, you also need to know how you will accomplish it. This means thinking about the steps you need to take. Break it down into doable actions. Think the process through, walk through it in your mind, on paper, with others, or using a project management program. Try not to miss any vital steps.

With your list of actions in hand, you can then set about completing those actions.

One last thing. You probably need to put a timeframe on it. I say probably, because not all victories are timebound. You might want to be happy – how does one put a timeframe on that?

So then what? You do it! And when you’ve completed all the tasks on your list of actions, voila! There’s your victory.

tcsbookI discuss plans and action strategies further in my chapter of Top Coaches Share Their Personal Action Strategies. You might like to click on the link and check out the book.

So, what’s your victory, and how do you plan to achieve it?

writingLots of people have to write for their work or study. Lots of people also have trouble writing. Here are some ideas that my coaching clients have used successfully to get themselves writing consistently.

Writing ideas

When you don’t know what you want to say, make an outline.

  • Write, in point form, the main ideas you want to talk about.
  • Flesh out each point.
  • Use a note taking program such as Turbo Note or Jot Plus, or a mind map program, or even index cards, to write out your points, and then move them around so that the argument makes sense.
  • Take one point and write as much as you can about it, then take a break, and pick another point and do the same.

When nothing is coming – i.e. you forget what you want to say, you can’t think of anything to say, the blank screen mirrors your blank mind – there are several things you can do:

Audio

  • Talk to a friend. Record what you say. Get the friend to ask questions that will elicit more information.
  • Get an audio recorder and talk about your topic. Then make a transcript, and use that as your first draft.

Visual
Make a mind map. Take a large sheet of paper, and draw your theme. Stick it up on your wall.

Timing
Commit to a ridiculously small amount of time per day, yes, per day, to write. Say eight minutes. Commit to writing eight minutes each day. The eight minutes can be spread out over the day, but you must write for eight minutes (or whatever time you pick). When you have done it, you then have a choice: to either keep going, or knock off for the day.

This technique sounds silly, but it works. My clients often have trouble even committing to eight minutes a day, but within a week they find that they are writing for far more than eight minutes.

Figure out the best time of the day for your writing. We all have different rhythms. Some people write best at 5am. Some people write best at 3pm. Experiment with the times you attempt to write. You will probably find that one time of the day is better for your creative flow than others. I have found that I write better blog posts early in the morning, and they flow easier than if I try to write them after lunch.

Editing

When you are editing something you have already written, try some of these:

  • Read it out loud. If it doesn’t flow, your ears will hear it.
  • Take it one sentence at a time.
  • Check that the first sentence of each paragraph actually talks about what the paragraph is about.
  • Ask yourself if each paragraph flows from the one before it.

Concentrate on one thing to edit at a time, e.g.

  • Are all the tenses in the paragraph the same?
  • Do you have periods at the end of each sentence?
  • Does each sentence make sense and flow on from the previous one?
  • Is there a better word that you could use?

If you’re having trouble writing or editing your work, email me.

If you have other techniques that have worked for you, please leave a comment.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

© Gaye Wilson 2009

There are two dogs in our family, Meri and Gypsy. Both dogs are elderly, and they have totally different personalities. Watching and interacting with them is a joy, and very interesting in terms of not just animal behaviour, but human behaviour as well.

meriMeri is nearly 15 years old. She’s been an outside dog all her life. She has to sniff everything. Food offered by someone other than me must be thoroughly but politely sniffed before she will accept it. She starts to yell for dinner about an hour before it’s time. She sleeps a lot. But her most interesting behaviour is her procrastination.

Gypsy is about 11 years old. She, too, has been an outside dog all her life. She loves to run, and dig, and loves to cuddle. Her biggest achievement is to make everyone who meets her fall in love with her on the spot. She’s an action dog – once she knows what she wants, she does whatever is needed to accomplish it.

Both dogs live outside, but in wet or cold weather they are put into dog crates in the garage to keep them warm and dry. They are, after all, old ladies.

When I come to collect Meri to put her inside, she knows what’s coming and is waiting for me. But she insists that we are going for a walk, and invariably overshoots the doorway into the garage. It’s only with coaxing and pulling that I can get her inside (often when it’s freezing and raining, and I’m getting cold and wet too!). That’s not where her procrastination stops. She must sniff everything in the garage, to avoid going into the crate. When we finally arrive at the crate, she will go past it, or attempt to go backwards, or even, cunningly, ask for a cuddle in order to delay the inevitable. When I can finally get her to put her front paws in the crate, she procrastinates even further by sniffing every inch of the crate before she puts her entire body inside enough for me to close the door. The whole performance is classic procrastinatory avoidance behaviour.

gypsyGypsy, on the other hand, waits impatiently for me to come and get her, then hauls me towards the garage at full speed and makes a beeline for the door. Once the door is cracked open, her nose is immediately stuck in the gap to open the door faster, then she scurries inside, races for the crate, barrels inside, and turns around to grin at me. She’s where she wants to be. Mission accomplished, and in the shortest time possible.

Both dogs know what the end result will be. Both dogs are happy when they finally get there. But one dog will do anything to avoid the end result until it’s impossible to avoid it any longer, and the other goes straight for the goal.

Does this sound familiar?

Which dog are you? The one who will do anything to avoid action that will result in the end goal, or the one that goes for it in the fastest way possible? The first one provides endless frustration amongst everyone around her, but still ends up in the same place in the end. The other is a joy to work with, and accomplishes the goal with speed and focus.

So which one are you?

best-coaching-blogs-20091This blog is entered in the Best Coaching Blogs of 2009 competition, and has lasted for the first two rounds. Of 45 blogs that started the competition, only 20 are left.

Thanks to all who have visited and voted and commented.

But this blog currently has only 13 votes and 5 comments, compared to the winning blog, which has 297 votes and 38 comments.

This makes me wonder what the top-voted blogs have that this one doesn’t.

Is it the look of the blog? All Paths To Victory is very plain, but it’s not cluttered. Nor does it have bright colours, lots of pictures, or a banner heading. Maybe the appearance of the blog has an effect on the readers.

Is it the number of blog entries? Mine has only 32 entries. One blog in the competition has over 50 categories alone!

Is it the content? Many of the blogs in this competition talk about the Law of Attraction, or how to make money, or how to become a coach, or how to be a successful business owner. Mine doesn’t. My blog talks about a variety of subjects, all loosely connected with goal setting and achievement, and productivity, which are the major pillars of my coaching business.

Is it the lack of social bookmarking? The lack of a subscription list? The lack of readers because the blog is not updated regularly enough or because I don’t market it widely enough? Is it the lack of freebies offered on the blog? (Watch this space!)

Or is it a lack of focus? What does the reader want to read? I’m having a hard time getting people to comment on the blog (and that’s a topic for another post), so I’m blogging away in the dark, not knowing what people want to read.

These are the questions that a blog owner, or a website owner, continually asks when the blog/website isn’t producing the desired results.

Whatever the reasons, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in this competition. I’m also grateful for the votes and comments I’ve received so far. This whole exercise has been wonderful in many ways.

Please go to the Best Coaching Blogs of 2009 page, and vote for the blogs that float your boat. Then subscribe to those that appeal to you. It might help you, and it will certainly give the blog owners a boost. And isn’t that what blogging is about?

© Gaye Wilson 2009

Do you spend hours every day watching television?

Are you a fan of reality shows like The Biggest Loser or Hell’s Kitchen or The Great Race?

Do you wish you could be one of the contestants: lose weight, become a chef, travel the world following clues?

If so, you’re wasting time watching other people live their dreams. What about your own dreams? Are you living yours?

Take a look at how you spend your time. A good way to do this is to write down in 15 minute increments everything you do for a day. If you can do it for a week, that would be even better, as it would give you a really good idea of where your time is going.

Once you’ve done your time log, have a look at it. Notice the times when you are not actively doing something – watching television, watching sport, sleeping during the day, eating between meals. What are the activities that are not contributing to the achievement of your dreams? What activities are wasting your valuable time?

I’m not talking about the essential activities of daily life: sleeping, eating, exercise, paid work (you need to sleep, eat and exercise in order to function, and paid work hopefully gives you the financial means to live), quality family and social time. I’m talking about the activities that make you a couch potato, or a watcher – a gunna, not a doer.

Once you’ve analysed your time log, and know what times of day you slacken off, and what you do in those slack times, think about what you could be doing instead: writing a book? getting fit? learning a new language? reading a motivational or business book? Playing with your children? Helping a charitable organisation?

Of course, the biggest thing you should be looking at is: what do you want to do? What are your dreams? Or, more importantly, what are your goals?

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Dreams are all very well and good. Dreams give you hope. But dreams will remain dreams unless you do something to achieve them. Once you start working towards your dreams, they become goals.

So what is your dream? Are you watching other people live their dreams, instead of working towards yours?

© Gaye Wilson 2009
Internet marketers are a persistent lot. Once you’re on their mailing list, they send you offer after offer of stuff you can’t live without.

Or can you?

New products and systems are launched with great hype, and the aforementioned internet marketers all jump on the affiliate bandwagon and, again, send you offers you can’t resist.

Or can you?

Supposedly, all this makes the marketers tons of money. In reality, it leaves you with tons of electronic garbage cluttering up your hard drive.

Each internet marketer and each new product claims to give you what you need to become a success, to make money, to become slimmer, more attractive, a better time manager and all around good sort. There are hundreds of products available on the internet that claim to have the best system for making money on the internet.

A case in point is niche marketing. There’s a new product on the internet that has been met with great acclaim and fanfare. It is a system of making thousands of dollars per month on obscure niches. The price of the system is nearly $500 in US currency.

What bugs me about the marketing copy for this particular product is that the producers of the system don’t care about what they are selling, as long as they are making money. They say upfront on their website that they have used this system in several obscure niches that they know nothing about and don’t care about.

In fact, thinking about it, that seems to be the norm for internet marketers. As long as they are making money, who cares if what they are selling is crap?

So where’s the victory here?

I suppose there’s a victory of a sort for the internet marketer who actually makes money doing this. But is it a victory for the buyer if the product doesn’t do what it promises, or stays on the hard drive without being used, or costs money the buyer doesn’t have or can’t spare, or, worse still, gives incorrect or incomplete information?

Where’s the moral victory for the marketer if they don’t care about the products or the buyers, as long as they make money? Where’s the sense of achievement (apart from having tricked the buyers into thinking there’s something special about the product and its marketer)? Where’s the pride in the marketer’s work?

And don’t get me started on the high prices for these products. $97 for an ebook? $497 for a one hour teleseminar?

Why would you do it? Is it just about the money?

I don’t make any money online. I haven’t actually set myself up for it. I intend to, sometime, but under strict guidelines. These are:

  • the products I promote MUST be connected with my core business
  • the products I promote MUST have value
  • the products I promote must have good information
  • I must be interested in the topic
  • I must agree with what is said
  • if I buy resell rights, I will check grammar, punctuation and spelling etc (after all, I AM an editor) before I put the product up for sale

So many internet marketers get free or low cost products to sell and simply offer them “as is” to their customers without checking that the writing makes sense, there is good information, or that there are no grammatical or spelling errors. They simply don’t care what they sell, as long as they are making money.

I think that’s wrong.

Call me stupid, call me idealistic, but I think that’s wrong. We should be helping each other in this world. If people were more interested in helping other people than in making money, the world wouldn’t be in the global financial crisis that exists today.

I think the internet marketer who tries to make money from products they haven’t tried and don’t care about are making money simply for the sake of making money.

So let’s start a discussion about this. Is it moral for internet marketers to sell stuff, any old stuff, just to make money?

© Gaye Wilson 2009
I just finished reading one of the most appalling stories I have ever read: Carolyn Jessop’s tale of escape from a polygamous religious sect in the USA. It’s called Escape and it is a chilling account of rape, physical and mental abuse, child molestation and repression that is happening right now.

After seventeen years as a plural wife in horrible circumstances, Carolyn Jessop managed to escape the community with her eight children. She fought to gain custody of them against the considerable financial and other power of her husband and the cult in which he was a highstanding member.

How does this relate to All Paths To Victory? Heaps.

In order to escape from an intolerable situation, Carolyn Jessop did a number of things, all of which were essential to her success.

She made the decision to leave the cult.
When things became too intolerable to bear, and she was in constant fear for the safety of herself and her children, she made the monumental and scary decision to get out.

She prepared herself for action.
Although she owned nothing in her name, she managed to save medications for her handicapped son, and prepared herself as much as possible mentally for the action required.

She took action.
When the time came, when circumstances were the best they would ever be, she took action, and secretly bundled her eight children into a van and drove away, despite the protests of some of the children.

She enlisted help.
Her sister and brother had already left the community, and she asked them for help, which they gave. She also asked for help from politicians, once she was out of the community.

She fought for what she believed in.
She fought for the custody of her children. She fought her eldest daughter who was so brainwashed that she returned to the cult when she became a legal adult. She spoke out against the cult and its manipulative and abusive members, and was heard.

She followed through.
She’s now a member of an organisation that is dedicated to assisting members of religious cults who have been abused. In other words, she not only worked for and obtained her own victory, but is also helping others with theirs.

I salute you, Carolyn Jessop.

Go here to read the book.

Over at the School for Coaching Mastery, there’s a competition on at the moment for the best coaching blogs for 2009.
best-coaching-blogs-2009 The competition is open to all blogs with a coaching theme or are written by coaches.

If you have found this blog to be useful with your endeavours, please vote for me!

How does this competition fit with the All Paths to Victory philosophy? Very well! If you have a presence on the internet, you need traffic. You need people to come and look at your site or your blog, and one way to do that is to enter competitions such as the Best Coaching Blogs of 2009 competition.

So that’s why I’ve entered.

Please vote for me! And let other people know about this blog, so that they can vote for me too.

Thanks!

© Gaye Wilson 2008
Dr Randy Pausch, about whom I wrote in this post, died yesterday of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47 years old. He left behind a wife, three small children and two major legacies: his academic work, and his famous Last Lecture.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Dr Pausch knew he was dying, and he prepared for it as well as he could. He got all his affairs in order, lived as well as he could physically and emotionally, and he created a legacy. He didn’t go down without a fight. He kept living, even though he was dying.

His Last Lecture has been seen by millions of people all over the world. It has been made into a book which has been translated into over 30 languages. His message was simple:

Live life while you have it. And leave a legacy of that life.

What about you?

What are you doing today to create a legacy?

What will you do tomorrow to enjoy life and help others to enjoy theirs?

What will you do next week that will have a positive impact upon the world around you?

There’s a Chinese proverb that is appropriate here:

Be not afraid of growing slowly.
Be afraid of standing still.

Thank you, Dr Pausch, for your life and your philosophy. My heart goes out to your family.

Donations can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245, or to Carnegie Mellon’s Randy Pausch Memorial Fund (www.cmu.edu/giving/pausch). If you can’t donate to either of those, please donate what you can to any cancer research organisation near you.

© Gaye Wilson 2008
My neighbour died last week. It was totally unexpected. The family, obviously, is shattered.

So am I.

I discovered some interesting behaviour on my part the day I heard about his death. I went shopping – a normal, weekly grocery shop. But I found myself buying more – stuff – than usual. It was as if, the more stuff I brought home, the more it affirmed that I was still alive.

I bought a couple of books that would normally be out of my price range – but I might be dead tomorrow, and if I buy them now perhaps I’ll get the chance to read them before I go. I bought a bunch of magazines that I would normally only leaf through in the store. I bought some brightly coloured wool, with no particular pattern in mind, but I bought it because it was there, and bringing it home showed that I’m still here. It was as if the more stuff I have, the less chance I have of not being here to deal with it tomorrow.

That’s a strange reaction, and it surprised me.

What also surprised me was the depth of emotion I’m feeling. I didn’t know the neighbour well, but he was a reassuring presence every day as he drove past to or from work, and he had done some work on our property for us. Now he’s gone. The news shocked me to my core, and brought back memories of my father’s death two years ago. It’s as if the neighbour’s death was the catalyst for me to grieve all over again for my father.

But the biggest reaction I had was “What a waste”. Every time someone or something dies, the world is different. The person’s knowledge is lost, not to mention income, influence, skills and a range of other things. How many people die each day, not having fulfilled their potential? (I’m not saying my neighbour was one of them.)

Death is the ultimate wake-up call. Over this past week, I’ve also been thinking about what I’m doing with my life. Am I filling each day with worthwhile actions? Am I happy? Do I make other people happy? Am I healthy? Am I doing everything I can to stay healthy so I can be on this planet for as long as possible? Am I achieving my goals? Am I passing on my knowledge?

Don’t let your knowledge die with you. Find ways to teach others what you have learnt.

Don’t let your song die with you. Share yourself and your talents with the world.

Become who you really want to be.

Do what you really want to do.

Coaches often suggest to clients that they think about their funeral. Who will be there? What will be said about you? What will be on your tombstone? What do you want your legacy to be? Once you know that, you can do whatever is needed to make it happen.

Start now. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Work out what you want, how to get it, and go for it. Get help.

Don’t wait until you hear of someone’s death before you start to live. You may not get another chance.

R.I.P. Bernie.

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