Is the Messenger killing us? Plus, Anchoring your Calendar

Today I learned:

1. The Messenger might be killing us: I was watching the news last night and eventually just had to turn it off.  I get it. The world sucks. It’s a dangerous place.

Or is it?

Watching another round of updates on the calamity in the world made me wonder why we see so few stories about the good things in life. With a bit of exploring, today I learned Karl Aquino from the Sauder School of Business at UBC – where I completed my MBA – completed some research on this and found that instead of freaking us all out the media could actually make the world a better place just by reporting good news.

The funny thing is that this is intuitive.  The Power of Positive Thinking. The Secret. The Leader Who Had No Title. All books that in one way or another subscribe to the general idea you can be a better person, and lead a more fulfilling life just by filling your mind with positive thoughts and adopting an optimistic, forward-looking perspective. It is not a stretch then to suggest that if we were all working together, helping fill each others minds with positive thoughts, then we might all be better off.  The media could certainly help with an initiative like that.

Yes, I know. I am living in a dream world.

Feel good stories don’t sell.

Or do they?

Imagine an hour of news without drugs, murder, accidents or the nightly Hollywood train wreck.  An hour where Mike McCardell gets the lead.  That’s an hour I would look forward too.  That would have also kept me tuned in last night, lending a couple more eyeballs to the commercials that are funding the broadcast.

2. Anchoring: One more lesson from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. (I am finished the book now, so I promise I will stop!)

A new addition to my weekly calendar: Anchoring. As in taking the time to “anchor” into my week the most important things in life – kids, family, personal and physical development, fun – the things that don’t get booked and that we assume will occur spontaneously or we will just fit in.

The concept works for me, because I spent the 28 months of my part-time MBA  program meticulously scheduling every moment of my day, just to fit everything in. I have gotten away from it recently, only really scheduling personal activities that seemed important like haircuts, doctor visits, and days off . A subtle shift in what I deem as important, and therefore what I book into my week, should make this new activity helpful and in turn make the behaviour stick.

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The only thing my phone can’t do, and more Zig than Zen

Today I learned:

1. Love for my iPhone: By noon today I had read the news, checked email, sent a few texts, looked at the weather, paid two bills, bought a book, listened to the Economist online, updated my wine cellar, paid for parking, watched part of a show on Netflix, and turned off my TV. All from my phone.  Disappointingly it seems the only thing it can’t do is one of the things I need most – repair my ruptured ACL.

2. More Zig than Zen: I recently started reading the ZenHabits.net blog. This morning I reviewed a post by a writer named Jeff Goins. Some great stuff  – I am certainly onboard with his recommended 4 practices to “bring you closer to the life you want.” He suggests you: 1. Get up early, 2. Over-commit, 3. Talk to strangers, 4. Practice Generosity.  I agree on all counts. Ingraining these ideas into your life is a step in the right direction.

That said I strongly disagree with the idea that to get the life you want, planning and goal setting are unnecessary.  Living life like a pinball bouncing around aimlessly might work. It might even lead you somewhere great that you never expected. But it might not, too. It seems to me that marrying the 4 practices, with some goal setting and targeted effort is a better way to lead yourself through life. I guess I am Zig than Zen. To kick of 2012 I am working through Zig Ziglar’s Pick 4 book to help me make this year my best one yet.