Sea of Plastics

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You may have heard me talk about environmental self defense.  As a part of my training this year, I have been challenged to not only reduce the amount of plastic that I personally use by 40 to 90%, but also to educate those around me about the effects of plastics on the rest of our environment.

One of the individuals who is doing research on this subject is Captain Charles Moore.  Capt. Moore is founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.  He discovered what is now called the Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean and is currently studying the effect of plastic pollution on our planets oceans.  The Garbage Patch is a very large area of the Pacific Ocean that due to the way the seas and wind move has trapped a great deal of the the garbage from many countries, including the United States, in an area in the ocean.  

Captain Moore was introduced to the world in a very public way at TED Talks, one of my favorite websites.  Soon the world knew of his work and discovery.  Part of Captain Moore’s team is Joel Paschal who is also acting as a consultant to the Ultimate Black Belt Test in our efforts to teach self defense from a “global” perspective.

More to the point though let’s do three things this year.

  1. Absorb the research and understand how plastic use and the oceans are connected to self-defense.
  2. Make a personal pledge to reduce the amount of plastics we use.
  3. Represent this material in our community –embrace at least one “environmental self-defense” project as a part of your belt test or just your commitment to protecting our earth.

Here are two links that will help
To learn about the material, go to this VPS.TV report on CNN
You can see Captain Moore on www.TED.COM talking about his work.

Overcoming commitment obstacles

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Any goal or challenge that we have will have its good days and bad days. We will have time when everything is going right and we feel on top of the world and then there will be other times that ‘nothing’ is going right and we may feel like giving up.

Neither of these extremes are the whole picture. We will have these perceived ups and downs. But in reality whatever is happening in this moment will probably change in another moment. The only thing that will not change is you.

We can still feel challenged though as we continue to strengthen our level of commitments. When we have times that we are not feeling the best about is the time to be sure to talk to someone who can encourage us, keep the end goal in mind, think about some of your heroes in life and ask yourself how would they handle this.

You are responsible for the way you feel about any given situation. I read a story some time ago about 2 drivers who were sitting in traffic after the earthquake in California. The traffic was 3 times as bad as usual. One of the drivers was very angry and voiced his opinion fervently. The other had left earlier than usual, had brought a book, some snacks, and was generally prepared for the long drive. His attitude was that he was sure his boss would understand if he were late.

How we look at things determines our attitude and can keep us on course or lead us to quitting. Of course if we quit we will never reach our goal, keep our commitment, but if we are willing to ask for help, talk to ourselves they way we would talk to a friend and remind ourselves about the progress we have made so far, we will gain the strength we need to stay the course and be inspired to keep our promises.

““I can’t” is not a reason to give up, it’s a reason to try harder.”

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.

Rewards for keeping commitments

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Everyone of us has had a time when someone promised to do something for us and then did not keep that promise. How did it make you feel? Frustrated, angry, let down? We have also experienced, hopefully more often, the times when promises were kept and our feelings were the exact opposite. We were relieved, happy, and felt like we knew someone we could rely on.

If we are a young child and we promise mom and dad that we will clean our room and then we keep that commitment – without being asked to do it again and again – your parents are feeling very happy about you being so responsible and trustworthy. Believe me as a child this is a good thing for parents to feel this way!

At the same time when we keep a promise like that we can say to ourselves that we know we are dependable and that we can reach our goals, because we stick to our commitments. Guess what? The same is true for adults! The people around us begin to trust us and see us as leaders and reliable when we keep our commitments. It makes a big difference.

If we break our commitments though others may not feel that they can trust us, they may be upset with us and it will impact the lives of many other individuals. It also has a big impact on ourselves and how we feel about ourselves. When we keep promises to ourselves there is a pride and feeling of accomplishment. Here is a quick example. When it is time for me to do my work out I sometimes do not feel like doing it. Have you ever felt that way? But as soon as I get started it is OK – but when I am done I feel so good about accomplishing a task that I committed to my instructor and have made known to the entire community I would do.

You will feel the same when you keep a commitment to yourself and to others.

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.

Keeping your commitment

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When times get tough or things get hard on some front, it is very easy for us to release ourselves from a commitment. When we are good at something, or when it is fun or when we just love doing it and we get rewarded in some manner that meets our needs then it is easy to keep our commitment. In fact we will fight for the ability to keep our promises to ourselves and others.

But when things get hard or doesn’t come as easy as it use to, or we are feeling a bit bored by the activity, or a friend is no longer a part of the activity, then these are obstacles that we need to fight our way through. If we were to give up for one of those reasons we will not reach the goals we originally set out to accomplish.

What would you do if you made a commitment and now were having trouble with it? First we need to be sure that we are talking to ourselves the way we would a friend. We would want to encourage ourselves and give a little pep talk. We would never hang out with someone who constantly told us that we could not do something. So I would suggest that we should not talk to ourselves that way either. Second get some extra help, which means we may have to decide what we need and then be willing to ask for it.

Ultimately we are responsible for our choices. Napoleon Hill said, “Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.” Connecting success with commitment is paramount to staying the course. Ask yourself if there are other distractions or poor influences that you must choose to deal with so that you can keep your commitment.

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.

Keeping our commitments – a personal story

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It is very interesting that when I talk to our students about subjects dealing with character, it always make me stop and think about myself. We have been talking about why it is easy to keep our promises to ourselves and others and why it can be hard sometimes too.

It is always easy when it is fun, or we are good at something or if we just love doing it or being around the people we are involved with. On the other hand it is a lot harder when it is something that we do not understand or is boring to us. There really are 3 things that get in our way of keeping a commitment.

I read recently that they are considerations, fears and roadblocks. I have noticed with myself that many times that all three of them get in the way many times all together.

First you have the negative talk, considerations, that happen and you can quickly come up with all the reasons you cannot do something. That many times can lead to fear which are feelings. They may include fear of failure or rejection (two that I battle all of the time). Then of course as soon as the first road block comes up your fears are realized and you are sure that your original considerations were true and so you get frozen.

Now back to promises. The promises we make to ourselves are very important. I have promised to complete the Ultimate Black Belt Test the best way I know how or better than I know how at this moment. I must learn how to overcome the considerations, fear and roadblocks to keep this promise. No matter what comes up I must overcome the negative voice, the fears, and those roadblocks that are bound to get in the way.

Commitment despite conflicts

word of month character

There are very few individuals who do not feel the conflict that comes from the number of different commitments that all of us have made. Those commitments include promises we have made to family, friends, work, school, activities, community and more. How do we deal with all of these commitments in a responsible manner and balance the different areas of our life? Someone said once, “Commitment in the face of conflict produces character.”

All of us need to decide what is important to us and review the promises we have made to ourselves and others in regard to value we place on them. The question really is in the words of Steven Covey, “What are our big rocks?”. Once we know what is really important and what we value then we can be sure that we make the time for those commitments first, with the smaller things of less importance fit in with the important ones.

So if we value family time, then we would want to schedule family time in our schedule, with specific time set aside for that “big rock”. If it is our health, set aside time for exercise and eating healthy. Keeping those commitments will make us feel better about all the other things we “have to do”. It may mean giving up something or doing less of something that we enjoy, but is not of importance or high on our list of values.

Everyday we can ask ourselves what we can do to stay committed to a goal we have, how can we raise the level of commitment. It is our choice and not one that we can leave up to others.

Read about Mr. Joe’s commitment to the Ultimate Black Belt Test that started in January 2009 and will be completed with the final test in February 2010. He recently committed to the “Live Like a Champion” journey that begins in January 2010. His journal is My Journey.