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The Rose by the Name of “Normal” is not Sweet

Pepper smelling RoseNormally roses smell sweet. This one to the left is called a ‘Sweet Chariot’ rose. And no, it doesn’t swing low but it does smell like pepper and that smell increases in the summertime.

Having watched as much as possible of the Special Olympics World games this week I was struck by a number of things. The first was the number of people around the world said to have ‘intellectual disabilities’ was about 100 Million. I looked it up and found this…

“According to the World Health Organization, up to three percent or almost 200 million people of the world’s population have intellectual disabilities. This is the largest disability population in the world. Intellectual Disabilities knows no boundaries. It cuts across the lines of racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic backgrounds, and it can occur in any family. “

And that’s only the category called “intellectual disability.” I also found this from the World Report on Disability (WRD)

“More than 1 billion persons in the world have some form of disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population. Between 110-190 million people have very significant difficulties in functioning.”

That’s a lot in either category to be considered “disabled.” Which, as an Evolutionary Coach has made me question the labels we’re using to describe people.

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Posted by Michael Stratford in The Evolutionary Coach.

Fighting Infobesity

Don't overfill your clients

Take a glass. Fill it with water. When it’s full how much more can you put in? None. You can try to pour more into it if you like but it just spills out over the top. It’s full.

The internet is suffering from a disease. Infobesity. Just like pouring water into the glass, we are being fed more and more information as the meme of ‘content = value’ virals its way into our minds. Gathering information isn’t learning. It might look like it but it’s not. If you can’t do it, you haven’t learned it. You’ve just acquired information ABOUT it.

More content ≠ More value

Now I love creating content as much as the next person. I love the process of it; the feeling something is ‘coming through me from the universe.’ Over the years, when I’ve attended programs, events or trainings there is so much content no one could possibly act on it. I’ve watched myself and others go into data coma. Sadly, I confess to having done this to others myself.

Despite the ‘just follow these simple steps’ mantra, there’s too much information to digest. Just like having too much food at thanksgiving.

No more ‘shelf help’

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Takin Care of Business.

Gamification trend or future?

Every where you turn someone is Gamifying something.

I’ve been doing the Gamify Your Life, Gamify Your Work/Business thing for 14 years in workshops all over the world. Teaching people in Experiential workshops about how to approach life, your jobs, your relationship or your health, heck even small projects, as if you were playing a game. Personally I have a great time doing so and love the personal development, business development, leadership and just plain life transformation that happens for people when they play.

And now finally, with the preponderance of online gaming experiences, it’s an idea whose time seems to have come. In fact it has the virus/meme quality to it now. But will it come and go?

Personally I don’t think so. For a number of reasons and here’s a short list:

  1. Everyone actually loves games – we’re just bringing people up to speed that the world can work that way. Tony Hsieh at Zappos, the wildly successful online shoe company has created a ‘fun’ culture and clearly the FQ (Fun Quotient) hasn’t cost his company any. Here’s a great you tube videos of the family of fun that’s been created.   And the numbers for his company keep going up.
  2. Gamification has legitimacy – Whether it’s the Harvard Business review article titled “Online Learning Labs”   or the recent Gamification course offered by Wharton business school, it’s clear these esteemed business environments aren’t just playing around with the topic. When it shows up in those hallowed halls you know something’s up.
  3. Gamification gets results – “Gamers Decode AIDS Protein That Stumped Researchers for 15 years in just 3 weeks” (actually there’s an update that it took only 10 days) here’s the link
  4. And online companies are using Game Elements to help their website attract traffic and basically just give a great user experience.  Like this one  that creates fitness more like a fun game than the frickin chore it normally seems to be.

And these are just some of the real world examples. So Are You Playing the Game or is the Game Playing You? Let me know if you want to have a better time playing the game you’re already playing. Sincerely, your GameMaster  Michael Stratford

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Gamify for Success.

Winning the Game of Holidays #4 Energy Burnout

“Better watch out, better not cry, gonna find out who’s healthy and wise”

Okay now, I hope you have the energy for this one because the season isn’t yet over. There’s still plenty of time for burnout. In the Game of Energy it is about the ongoing awareness of how this one gets drained big time because of all the previous 3 (refer to the last 3 blogs on Gamifying the Holidays). It’s also no wonder we feel whipped after the holidays and many people find themselves ‘coming down with something’ because their immune system has been beaten to crap by the end of the year. Or they feel like they need a vacation to recover from their vacation.

So here’s a holiday gift you can give yourself.

First, don’t come into the holidays drained after a long year of slogging it out. By taking care of yourself all year long, eating well, getting enough sleep, you know the drill, you can roll into the holidays with energy reserves. Or you can roll in like a student who has spent the last 5 days awake on multiple cans of 5 hour energy and is so buzzed they don’t realize they are one eye blink from crashing harder than the Hindenburg.

If No is not an option, then Yes is not a Choice!

Do what you need to do during the year and you won’t regret it at the end of the year. But if you didn’t, don’t give up. There’s still a magical power that you can wield that will make a lot of it easier. It’s the gift of NO. Knowing how, when and what to say no about will give you some breathing room to recover from what looks like a marathon of holidays taken at sprint speed. Some game huh?

Learning the extraordinary power of saying “no” when you’re feeling over taxed about going to one more party or family gathering. Think of it this way, if no is not an option then yes is not a choice. Because what are you choosing between? Yes, and only because I have to yes? Yes, and oh please don’t make me, yes?

And for the bravest of you, try this…say no and don’t give an explanation. You’ll see how quickly those around you just accept what you say as a truth for you. You’ll find out fast that no was not a viable choice in the first place even though it was posed as a question or invitation. And here’s my point, you don’t explain yes, so why should you have to explain no to someone with whom your time shared is going to seriously tax your already overtaxed energy reserves. They’re not looking out for you, they’re getting their own needs met.

What you risk by not using the Power of NO in your Gamification of the Holidays, is becoming a walking dead, short tempered, sugar consuming, amped up poseur of a friend or family member because you haven’t given yourself and your well being enough of a priority to show up at full strength when it fits for you to do so.

If you’ve given yourself more space as in Gamify Element #1 – Time, and are not feeling like you have to work extra hard to earn financial space, as in Gamify Element #2 – Money. And you’ve given enough space to make good connections with those who are truly important to you during the year, as in Gamify Element #3 – Relationship,  then you use no to find the reserve of space as in this Gamify Element #4.

And then your holiday experience can be transformed into the joyous event Hallmark keeps telling us it is.  You could easily say no and yes to whatever you need to in order to feel like you can give your full loving energy to everyone, including and especially, yourself.

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Gamify for Success.

Winning The Game of Holidays #5 Honoring Relationships


Ah yes Relationships…there was a quote in a play loosely based on Dostoyevsky’s, “The Idiot” where the character declaimed, “The problem with relationships is that everybody has them.”

So, in Gamifying the Holidays the factor called ‘relationships’ becomes a very important set of players in how we experience the weeks going by. It’s an awareness that when it comes to holidays, we’re all of a sudden filled with soft mushy, camaraderie relationship energy. Except of course for all those relatives we’ve been so assiduously avoiding the rest of the year. We’ll get to those, for now let’s look at the people we want to share time with. And the list is long. We spend a lot of time, energy and money almost trying to connect with those we haven’t seen much of the rest of the year due to previously aforementioned ‘no space in the time category’ of the game.

And while all of this ‘hail fellow well met’ activity is warm and loving, what we’re really attempting to do is make up for missed time with them. It even seems more efficient to attend parties, hold parties, go out for BLD’s (breakfast, lunch or dinners) and connect. And we do this with family as well. It’s expected to a high degree that we’re going to make more time for them because they are after all, family. And that often means in-laws, cousins, and family of origin get brought into the mix.

So we try to cram all our “connection time” into a time period that’s already challenged by events. Events, like shopping, end of the year work demands, vacations and anything else that doesn’t necessarily happen all of the rest of the year. Imagine being in the game of football and trying to connect with every team player on the field during the course of play because you spent not enough time with them in practice, in the locker room or even off the field. You wouldn’t know where to focus to get anything done. And the emotional tugs wielded by everyone can come at us like sticky tar that won’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. “Can you meet with me next week? Of course you can, just make time, we haven’t seen much of each other this year…” And the guilt rises.

This creates stress. And it’s no wonder with this and the other two (time stress and money stress) that the week after January 1 feels like, “Whew I’m glad that’s all over”. And that’s a shame when it could be celebratory; “Wow what a great time the holidays were.”

So making it a habit to stay connected with people important to you during the year, means you won’t feel so badly if you can’t fit everyone in during the holiday. Especially if the connection times during the year are rich and deep instead of a more cursory drive-by relating.

And as for those relatives or friends who insist on your time and you feel to share it would be like 40 minutes in the Iron Mask, say no. Who made up the rule that you must acquiesce to everyone else’s needs? It is after all, your game to play how you see fit.

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Gamify for Success.

Winning the Game of Holidays #3 – The Money Pit

“I need Money, lot’s and lots of Money”

Now that we’ve played with time, let’s play with money. No not monopoly money nor even bailout money but the money you spend all that time during the year to accumulate. The money you work so frickin hard for the rest of the year that seems to fly out of your wallet (read credit card/bank account) like horse out of the gate at the track.

So from a Gamify the Holidays frame,

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Gamify for Success.

Winning the Game Holidays #2 with Time

Okay, so enough time has passed since the first Gamify Your Life blog on the Game Changer called ‘Space”. Here is the next installment on Game Changers…it’s the sub game called Time. Every game is played in a time frame. If the coach or manager doesn’t handle time well, they find themselves in the position of not being able to make the moves they want to make. So in Gamifying your Holidays, a key player is Time.

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Gamify for Success.

Winning the Game of Holidays #1 – Pre-Empting Stress

uncovering the game changer called 'space' in Gamify Your Life“You used to call me paranoid, but even you cannot avoid PRESSURE”

The Holidays are often the signal of the lack of space we have in our game the rest of the year. And very few games play well in a tight space. Imagine basketball in a closet or chess on a board with only 4 squares or even trying to play Angry Birds on a postage size screen.

I used to have a bittersweet time around holidays. Every year I found myself playing the game of stress management which is a pointless game really, and more on that later.

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Gamify for Success.

Give Transformation Time

personal transformation

Human beings are like steamships, full of features, experiences and very slow to turn. While there may be plenty of epiphanies, breakthroughs and transformations, there are a couple things that are often forgotten in the mix on the way to this thing called ‘having a better life.’

The first thing is integration and assimilation.

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Posted by Michael Stratford in On Mastery.

The Illusion of Control Prevents Freedom

Those of you who like to feel in control may have difficulty with this one so proceed at the risk of having your perception challenged. I have no control over your agreement or disagreement, I only present what is.

If one truly looks at the circumstance of an event occurring, any event, one can see that we have participation, perhaps even influence and yet no control.  Any interpretation to the contrary is to ignore the enormous amount of factors that must concur in order for something to happen.

Any event is merely the confluence of a multiplicity of elements that must either converge or diverge

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Posted by Michael Stratford in Thought Provoking.