If you have been following me on Facebook, you will know that this month was kinda crazy as far as travelling goes. I added 3 new countries to my list (now at 128) and basically spent the month in planes and at airports, and then sadly, my mom in law passed away while I was in Iran.
Often people email me and comment on my lifestyle, expressing a desire to be able to travel like I do. In many respects they see what I do as a fantasy life. This month I thought I would talk about this a little and put it into perspective. Everything in life requires choices, and with those choices come sacrifices. For each and every one of us we have to decide for ourselves what we are prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve the lifestyle we desire. Plus, it may not always be what we dreamt it would be.
LOSING ONE'S TEMPER:
Often friends and business colleagues come up to me and comment about my bubbly personality and the fact that I always joke around and see the positive in life. It's a choice which works well for me and I see no difference in the effort involved in being bubbly, or down. So I choose the fun side and enjoy life to the fullest. However, saying that, I am also a normal person with normal emotions. Which means I can also get upset, depressed or angry - yes it's true! Spending too much time at airports and talking a lot on Customer Service in my seminars, I was particularly tuned into 'service' this month. When an airline gave me bad service twice in a row and bumped me off a flight - especially after being away from home for two weeks and desperate to get home to comfort my wife - I lost it. To say I carried on like a 'fish wife' in Doha is an understatement. I lost my temper with the airline and used words and expressions very unbecoming of a motivational speaker.
Right now I am sitting on a new airline, as a result of my 'tantrum' and thinking about my behaviour. Would I have gotten the same result had I remained calm? Was I justified to my outburst? In fact I feel quite guilty right now. The thing is, we are all human, and we all have emotions. When one has added stresses in one's life it is easier to flip than normal. However, I thankfully managed to calm down relatively quickly because of what I do, as I managed to 'remind' myself to practice what I preach. How did I do this? Simply by using that old principle of counting to 10 before opening my mouth again.
I know this may sound basic, but isn't it the simple stuff in life that works? I had this sudden burst of emotion where I lost it. My focus was on getting home to support my wife and family. So right then and there I was only focused on my needs. We cannot always be in 'control'. I think that is unrealistic, but we can be aware and try to maintain a certain level of control, or regain it if we lose it. It's all about a higher level of awareness and honesty with oneself where you can acknowledge that one has lost focus. Many people have a problem in acknowledging their own mistakes or faults and this holds them back to improve themselves. Luckily I don't have that problem, my wife reminds me of my faults regularly!
So, in a nutshell, if you do suddenly get angry and even if you do scream at someone, by being aware of your own emotions, and simply stopping, counting to 10 before you carry on, you find that you calm down tremendously and then the issue suddenly doesn't send your blood pressure to boiling point anymore. There are certain things in life that cannot be changed, no matter how much you rant and rave about them. By stepping back and taking a breath and counting to ten, one realises this much quicker.
MAKING UP YOUR OWN MIND - PRACTICING ACCEPTANCE
Yes, for the first time in my life I visited Tehran, in fact I did so many seminars and was so busy, I ran! (I always wanted to use that line somewhere!) Would you like to visit Iran? Especially with what you see in the news? Another truth was reconfirmed for me this month... don't believe everything you read in the media, especially when they are controlled by governments with their own propoganda agendas.
I thought long and hard before accepting the contract in Iran. Many fellow speakers had been there before and it is they who actually convinced me to consider it. I put Iran in the same boat as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. and expected war, terrorism and much religious suppression. Well let me tell you something, it has been a long time since I have felt so safe, had so much fun and been surrounded by so many beautiful (yes - good looking and inner beauty) people. I never knew Iranians where the original Persians. Did you? What a history. Did you know they have their own fuel called CNG (Clean New Gas) completely environmentally friendly and about US$6 to fill a tank? Mmm, I haven't seen that anywhere else - maybe that's why the big oil giants are pushing western governments to be against them? Just a thought!
Travelling is truly the university of life, and the biggest thrill for me is meeting people of different cultures, beliefs and religions. There is a huge difference between western and eastern cultures. And this month I discovered that there is another culture right between these two - and that's the Iranians. Like all countries, the youngsters think that there are greener pastures outside, and yes there is discontentment with their government... but in which country is this not the case? What struck me like a lightning bolt was the gentleness, humility and friendliness of the people. Did you know they have no beggars in Iran? It's because family look after each other and people care for their neighbours. Something that is lost in western culture. We were driving from Isfahan to Yazd (somewhere in the middle of the country through desert). Suddenly we go a flat wheel. No big deal, 3 men in a car, we could sort that out quickly. We hadn't even stopped the car and another car had already stopped next to us. The teenage sons in that car were already changing the tire by the time we had figured out where the car jack was. Total strangers immediately came to help. How long would it take in the western world for someone to stop and help you? Every time we got into a taxi, conversations were held with the taxi driver and there was laughter!
I was honoured to be invited to a private wedding ceremony at a magistrates court. I was married in a magistrates court and it was a typical short affair. For the Iranians they have a whole ceremony. It's romantic... even in the magistrates court! In fact part of the ceremony is that the bride and groom both dip their small finder in honey and sugar, and the other licks it off..... kinda erotic if you ask me! The point of it all... to bring sweetness into their marriage. Isn't that the cutest and most romantic touch? It is these little things that made me look at these people in a different light and again reminded me that we should NEVER judge people, or cultures by what the media wants us to believe. In fact how often to we pre-judge people by what friends, family and colleagues have told us? Go look for yourself, make up your own mind. Hold judgement back and go into any situation openly and objectively - you will be amazed at how beautiful the world and people suddenly become!
It reminds me of a story of a group of frogs that took part in a race to a mountain top. Much advertising was done for the race. All the other frogs around thought it was madness to attempt a race to the top of the mountain. They talked among each themselves and commented on how difficult the race would be. When it started, the contestants started falling out of the race, one after another. In the end it was only one frog that stayed in the race and finished. There was jubilation and all the frogs around were amazed and this one frog's achievement. On asking the winning frog on how he had achieved this impossible task, all the other frogs suddenly realised that he was deaf!
Yes, he was deaf! He never heard the negativity spoken around him before the race, hence he was never affected, nor did he had preconceived ideas. He simply took part to win and believed in himself!
How often is our behaviour around us affected by what we hear others say?
COPING WITH GRIEF:
Finally I want to share my thoughts on grief and death. It was trying for me to be away from my wife when her mom passed away last week. That again is the downside to my travelling. However I came home as soon as I could. We had spoken about it before and we had looked at every scenario. How many people actually do this? It's as if they are scared to face reality. Death is a fact of life for all of us. Have you spoken about it with your spouse and family? Have you decided what to do in case something happens. It's not being negative, but instead being responsible. There is nothing worse than an unexpected loss. Also, when someone does die, do you speak to your partner about it and let them share their feelings with you. Do you listen to how they are feeling and share in their loss?
The memories we have one day when someone passes remain with us for the rest of our lives. What do you do to create memories? Do you keep photos and videos? Do you part with love in you heart when you say goodbye, or do you have unresolved issues? It is so important to live a life of forgiveness and love. You never know when your time may come. I see so many people who have regret when someone passes over, and this is so sad. When last have you said, "I love you" to the people that are important in your life, including your children. To often we take love for granted. It's important to share your feelings and be open with your feelings. In this way you create good memories. Remember, that one day when you are older, the materialistic things won't be remembered, instead the emotional bonds like that first kiss, and the first steps of your child... that's what gives you peace and contentment when you are older, and in turn makes you accept life for what it is. So, in conclusion this month, go out and create great memories so that you can lead a life with no regrets.