Shining Light on Your Shadow

Literature captures a rich representation of humanity’s struggle. In fact, if you look at literary work as a whole, they fall into three categories: (1) man vs nature (2) man vs man and (3) man vs self.


We here at the Plaskett Institute dabble in each of these categories but by far man vs self is our specialty.


In the wake of senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless more Americans at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve, there has been a massive public outcry for justice. With that outcry came commentary from just about every element of the spectrum.


This article does not seek to debate the human rights issue. Rather, we seek to talk about the shadows that we all possess in our thinking, beliefs, perspectives, etc. We’ll call this our belief system – a complex make up of our thought life that we project into the world formed consciously and subconsciously through direct and indirect learning.


Whoa! That definition has some layers!


We all possess a belief system and regardless of its makeup, the belief system enables us to make sense of the world that we live in. In fact, it is the lens to which we form our understanding of the world around us. If we are more introspective, then this belief system takes center stage in understanding the world within ourselves.


Because of this, beliefs are sacred and when sacred things are challenged, the response is usually defensive. Yet, in everything that we are and everything that we know, there is still much to learn.


What’s more, we all possess shadows in our belief system that are often blind to us – for more reason than one (one being that we take our beliefs as facts [statements that can be objectively verified] aka “I’m right”, vs judgments/assessments/a version of a truth).


The shadow itself symbolizes our lack of knowledge about a particular subject AND the fact that we don’t realize we don’t know. You see, we are often blind to things that we don’t know or choose not to know because we are steadfast in being “right”.


In order to shine a light on our shadows, we must learn how to deconstruct our belief system when it is being challenged. Here are 3 immediate skills you can employ:


#1: Embrace Curiosity. 


Here is something that is often not said but opens you up to more learning…”I might be wrong…” When you come from a perspective that the truth you hold is not the only truth there is, then you become more curious about other possibilities.


There is a concept in Zen Buddhism known as Shoshin or beginner’s mind. This concept means to have an attitude of openness and eagerness to learn as a beginner would. When we can approach life as a forever-student then we can become the master of life.


A simple way to activate this in your life is to change your questions. Instead of asking why, learn to ask the same question with “what” or “how”. This shift allows for an exploration of possibilities.


If you must use “why” then don’t stop at the first why but go deeper by asking until you can get to the root.


#2: Learn to Listen.


We all have two ears but that doesn’t mean that we know how to listen. Certainly, we can hear but listening is a skill that takes intent to develop.


When hearing we are receiving at the surface level. Have you ever been in an intense conversation and your only purpose for being quiet is listening for your rebuttal? Sure you have. We all have. We are listening for the comeback verse listening to understand; to challenge our own perspectives; to embrace more curiosity.


A simple way to activate this in your next conversation is to take deep slow breathes and ask yourself “What am I NOT understanding in what is being said?” This opens you up to actually listen at a deeper level than listening for how you can prove yourself to be right.


#3 Adopt Empathy. 


The golden rule says, “treat others as you want to be treated.”  This rule assumes the way you treat yourself is the way others want to be treated. To truly be of service to others we want to treat others as THEY want to be treated.


This shift takes you out of the driver’s seat and firmly plants others in that position. When you are able to engage with others from THEIR frame of reference then your perspective doesn’t take precedence.


A simple way to activate this in your life is to perform a “Day in the life” exercise. You’ll likely need help to do this. Take something that you don’t understand or seek to learn more about and undergo a typical day’s experience. This is such an eye-opening experience that shows like “Undercover Boss” was created.


There is much more to these three skills but what was shared here is more than enough for you to get started. As you exercise these three skills you will learn to develop a more empathetic ear and open your belief system to possibilities you were once closed to. There is an entire world rich with perspectives and rich with learning opportunities. Closing yourself off to them only stunts your growth.


Take the challenge this week to deconstruct some belief you hold by employing these three strategies. I can’t wait to hear what you’ll learn.

Adapting to the Times

Adaptation is one of the great human superpowers.  Everything else on this planet survives off of instinct by design.

Humans, on the other hand, have the fortunate circumstance to leverage three distinct features of our development –  instinct, intuition, and ingenuity. Because of this powerful combination, we have the ability to adapt to situations and circumstances like no other creature on the planet. What’s more, as we build up our experience goldmine we improve in our adaptation capability.

This is why I say that adaptation is a human superpower. There are two types of adaptation that are keen in these times. The first being grit and the second being resilience. Let’s take a look at each:


Grit is a powerful adaptation. It allows us to persevere in the midst of a challenge. You’ve heard before that to grit means to be mentally tough in the face of adversity. And as true as that may be, it is not about simply turning on a light switch. It is more about:

  1. Determining what is important and keeping that goal in front of you. It becomes the light at the end of the tunnel that you strive towards.
  2. Establishing daily wins toward the realization of that goal
  3. And building the habits, inspirations, and motivations to keep you going no matter what.

Grit is about driving towards the realization of a passion that you hold dear. In this case, passion serves two functions – it is the goal and the fuel to realize the goal.

Grit is the adaptation to survive the challenges on the road to realizing your goals. In this time of global response to a pandemic, we can all use the characteristic of grit to courageously overcome the challenge on our path so that we can realize our goals.

Yet, as you can imagine, this can only be done for a period of time. Grit isn’t, in my humble opinion, a sustainable psychological state. It is great and useful when we understand what the end goal looks like however in these times where the end goal is so fluid, and the complexity that we must deal with is overwhelming, we must rely on a different adaptation.


Resilience is purpose-built for times like these and frankly every other adversity that we undergo as part of the human experience. Resilience is the capacity for a successful adaptation in the face of stress, challenge, and adversity. In this distinction of successful, we come to understand that there are unsuccessful ways to deal with the challenges of life. If we accomplish the goal while tearing down our relationships and destroying our physical health and mental wellbeing, the goal will be met but the life around it will be in shambles.

Resilience is the adaptation built for thriving through and well beyond the challenging circumstances that we find ourselves in. To accomplish this we must understand the 5 parts of resilience.

  1. Positive Emotions: This isn’t an unrealistic, falsely joyful view of emotions. Rather this is a grounding of the emotions that result in a positive mood, recall of positive memories, and embodiment of positive feelings. Positive emotions are a choice chosen in the moment of difficulty where the emotions provide the grounding to the next response. If you’ve lost someone to COVID-19 or you feel isolated as a result of social distancing, know that it is okay and healthy to deal with the emotion that is coming up for you. Allow it to rise and process through it. Once you’ve successfully dealt with that emotion, realign to the emotions that ground you and helps you move forward such joy, gratitude, serenity, hope, pride, laughter, inspiration, and love.
  2. Social Support: We are social creatures. In these times it is even more important to rely on your support system to speak about the difficulty you are facing. This support system is essential in providing encouragement, guidance, and comfort.
  3. Meaning: Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of the crazy things in this world. Yet, this is an outsider looking in perspective. The opposite, an inside looking out, establishes that our lives are purposeful and seeks to determine how our purpose can be applied to the world.
  4. Coping: We all have our unique makeup of how we cope with distressing situations. In a resilience construct, we must employ productive and empowering coping mechanisms to manage our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
  5. Physical well-being: This plays a significant part in our mental well-being. Consistent physical exercise, healthy eating habits, and sufficient sleep shape our mood, ability to handle stress, motivations, and overall mental well-being.

As we seek to adapt to the times, we must employ attributes that we may not have relied on before. Grit and resilience are such attributes that are fit for these days. Grit enables us to adapt to survive the challenge while resilience empowers us to thrive through and beyond the challenges we face.

None of the adversity, stress, or challenges we face in life comes easy yet we have a choice in how we deal with it. In that choice, we are either liberated or encaged. We are either empowered by our exploration into the difficult and unknown or disempowered by negative coping mechanisms and limiting beliefs of what is possible. All choice is ours. What will you choose today?

Coaches and Educators:

Grit and Resilience are essential instructional points for your clients and students. This provides the foundation for them to build on. Utilize this article or others to engage with your clients and students in building their grit and resilience capacities and understanding the difference between the two.


Exploring Beyond The Comfort Zone

Without question, there has been a lot of discomforts that we’ve all experienced in 2020. And the recovery from COVID-19 will be an uphill battle that we will all have to learn to navigate.

So why
 would I suggest that you should explore beyond our comfort zone when all we want now is to be comfortable?

Simple. I want to prepare you for what’s to come. The recovery from COVID-19 will not  be back to a familiar reality. Instead, we will emerge from this crisis into a new normal that will continue to challenge our comfort zones. In the coming weeks, months, and years ahead we will need to depend on a fortified resilience that enables us to thrive throughout this new experience.

Experience, the teacher

What if I told you that we all live in our own personal bubble? 
And that the bubbles are made up of our limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. And that our ability to fully embrace and engage in this world is based on the size of that bubble. This bubble is our comfort zone. We all have them yet some are more constricted than others.

In order to expand our comfort zone, we must learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean we no longer have fear, anxiety, or a lack of self-confidence. This means that we’ve determined that on the other side of those paralyzing emotions, there is something worth pursuing so we face our constraints in hopes of liberation.

The absolutely best way to achieve this liberation is through new learned experiences. I’m making the distinction of learned experiences versus lived experiences because the former requires reflection on the experience while reflection may not occur in lived experiences.

Reflection is the key component that makes the shift 
between experiencing something new and assimilating the doing and being learning opportunities of that experience. Otherwise, we go through life in a zombie state of existence, repeating the same destructive habits and becoming no wiser.

Novelty is also key for learning to take place. Without it, the experience would not wake us up out of our routine view of life. Novelty allows us to go through the entire experience eyes wide open, seeking, and consuming the new.

Consider these two examples. In the first, you drive along the route to work that you habitually travel but instead you are the passenger. This is a first for you so you take in all of the sights, discover new things along the route you’ve never noticed before, and realized the tree line is vibrant with life.

Sticking with the travel theme,
 you travel to a new country. Upon landing, you start to take in all of the differences. Your ears hear a different language, your eyes admire the architecture, your nose delights in the spices being used to cook the food that your taste buds are about to consume.

In these two experiences, you take the opportunity to reflect through journaling and discovered how you were, what you felt, and what you learned through these novel experiences. The fears that you had were found not to be true. The anxiety you felt was replaced by excitement and anticipation. Your self-confidence was bolstered by having accomplished something new.

So as you can see, experience becomes the best teacher you’ve ever had because it opened you up to possibilities that you thought were not available to you. These possibilities were outside of your reach largely because of the bubble that constrained your experiences…the comfort zone that limited you.

Experiences are a powerhouse of personal and professional development
 that allows you to embody learning like nothing else. Especially as we ensure that these experiences include:

  • Novelty to wake us up for the mundane of doing and being
  • Reflection to embody the learning
  • Noticing to take in the new
  • Vulnerability to allow ourselves a moment of insecurity so that we can take part in a perspective-shifting experience.

In this trying time, it may seem impossible to engage in such an experience that would yield this benefit. I’ll offer that this thought is only part of the story. There are a number of innovative ways that you can undergo transformative experiences that shape and develop you…while having fun.

Coaches and Educators

An aspect of supporting your clients and students means to support their development through learned experiences. We at the Plaskett Institute, believe that transformative experiences have the ability to wake up our clients to the reality they have the power to shape and grow deeper in their understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Our new course, Architecting Transformations, is a comprehensive master course that teaches you the levels of facilitating experiences that can result in a more open, inclusive, liberated, and purposeful individual that show up to life fully present. This course is coming in Summer 2020. 

On the Road to Mastery

I haven’t come across too many people who aren’t doing something that interest them but does not come naturally. Frankly, even if the thing does come naturally, there are still new heights to learn and develop. Practice is something that we all engage in no matter what stage we are in our development.

Your practice could be just about anything including going to the gym, practicing yoga, cooking, martial arts, writing, coding, gardening, and so much more. Anything that is of interest to you that you seek to get better at becomes fair game for establishing a practice.

And there you have it…“Establishing a practice”. The very definition of the word “practice” means to rehearse a behavior or activity consistently in order to improve and eventually master. We cultivate the very thing that is important to us so that we can reap the benefits of the practice (e.g. better-tasting food or error-free code).

For many of us, including myself, we have a troubling relationship with practice. Sometimes we are doing great and having a great time. Then there are times where we are avoiding practice by cheating on her with other more important things like [fill in the blank]. Our relationship with practice has various ups and downs. When we are up we are loving life but when we are down, the guilt of avoiding practice eats us up.

How to solve the drop-offs in our practice:

The valley can be a dangerous place for many reasons but the most important among them is it can lead to the abandonment of your practice. Remember, we are engaging in this practice because we find fulfillment in the activity or its outcome. To abandon this would mean we are giving up on our aspirations, hopes, and dreams. And a heart without hope comes a dark and cold place, void of the beauty of life.

So for this reason, we must learn to turn the valley from a negative into a positive by employing the following three-part strategy.

#1 – We must commit to the practice itself.

When tough times arise, usually the first thing to go are the expendables. This usually ends up being your practice.

Your practice is not expendable. 

It is essential to your emotional, physical, and social well-being. So instead of abandoning your practice, you can employ the minimum practice that you need to continue your development and achieve fulfillment.

This means you are still consistent in your practice because you’ve made a commitment to yourself and we honor all commitments we make, especially those we make to and for ourselves.

#2 – We must plan for the valley by establishing a minimum practice.

The absolute truth that we must face is that life is anything but predictable. Things happen all of the time that causes our plans to change. Current world events – COVID-19 – is a prime example of this truth.

Yet, since we know this, we have the ability to plan for when things are not optimal. When they are optimal, we can engage in our practice without issues, for the length or quantity that we need. However, when life shares with us challenges and circumstances that require more of us, then we must have a minimum practice that we can engage in to continue our pursuits.

The benefits of establishing a minimum practice are:

  • We don’t abandon the development and fulfillment that the practice gives us
  • We are able to combat against the limiting beliefs that are revealed in difficult situations
  • We are able to focus on the quality of our practice vs the length of time
  • Our practice meets us where we are physically and emotionally

The intent around a minimum practice is to continue our practices that bring forth attributes of being that out weights the attributes of doing. Which, by the way, actually strengthens the results of our practice. So, even though a minimum practice isn’t the full expression of your practice is focuses on the key component which is the way of being.

#3 – We must establish a way into your practice

Sustaining a practice means that we must learn to face ourselves – good, bad, and ugly…especially the bad and ugly. 

The difficult part of any practice is actually getting started. It’s not the middle and certainly not the end of the practice but determining in your mind and heart to start the practice. And this doesn’t happen only when we are beginning a new practice but every time we are about to engage in our established practice.

Like everything else, we have a choice. We can choose to lean into or away from our practice (remember when I talked about our relationship with practice above?) We can choose to listen to the voice that makes the practice a grandiose task or belittles its importance…or we can listen to the empowering voice that supports our fulfillment.

In order to lean in we must find a way in.
 This could be anything that catapults us into our practice. This may be a somatic gesture like clapping your hands or bouncing up and down. It could be turning on your favorite song that puts you into the mood. It could be the battle cry that you bellow from the depts of your lungs.

Whatever it may be, find and use it as your way into your practice. 

Your practice is an expression of who you are and what brings you fulfillment and joy. Your practice leads to mastery and it is on this road where you find joy, gratitude, self-express, resilience, and faith.

These discoveries should never be compromised when life becomes difficult. On this road and through life’s difficulties is where we learn to face ourselves to become better versions of ourselves.

Combating Comfort and Challenge


There is a constant battle between pushing for greatness and seeking the comfort of the status quo. As an achiever, you know that the status quo will simply not do but nor will constantly pursuing the challenge. In this episode, I share how both are important and the 2 characteristics that are essential to every achiever by examining the pursuit of the very first achiever.



Hey, guys. Ralph here. Author of the acclaimed book Deepening Growth: Powerful Lessons in Cultivating Your Personal Transformation and founder of the Plaskett Institute where we help passionate coaches, consultants, and educators strengthen their personal and professional mastery so that they can create transformational impacts.


Look, hey, guys, I know it’s been a minute. I had the flu. One thing I would advise not to get if you can avoid it at all costs. And I’ve really been bogged down working on some projects here so that I can deliver more value to you. 


I want to have a conversation about combating comfort and challenge. In comfort and challenge, we have two things contending with us and it’s our mind and our ego.


Our ego wants to pursue. Our ego wants to do things so that it can get accolades. Our mind, on the other hand, wants even keel, status quo comfort, and we have to battle against it. As an achiever, as someone who’s looking to do more than beyond their reach you’re combating the mind’s desire to be at comfort and your ego’s desire to pursue beyond their aims. And this is something that we have to contend with.


So, we’ve had conversations before about the complexity of life, and how we need to learn how to embrace complexity, not shy away from it, right? If we were to shy away from it, as an achiever, we would say we would avoid comfort at all costs and we will continue with the challenge. But that’s not realistic. What we come to learn as we understand what it means to develop into the fullest capacity of ourselves is full rounded concepts of the human condition. Which means rest and reflection is an absolutely essential key. 


This is one of the aspects of How to Win in 2020 that I delivered in a video earlier last month, in January. Rest and reflection is a critical key to our ability to achieve the pursuits, right? If we continue to pursue, pursue, pursue, without the appropriate intervals of rest and reflection – reflection giving us the capability that we need in order to see how we have done and improve what we will do – we will burn out and likely fail at our pursuits.


The Difference between ‘Or Thinking’ and ‘And Thinking’


We can’t have one or the other. This is ‘Or thinking’. ‘Or thinking’ was illustrated in Jim Collins’ work, “Good to Great.” The difference between ‘Or thinking’ and ‘And thinking’: ‘And thinking’ embraces complexity while ‘Or thinking’ seeks simplicity, but it has no basis of reality in the human condition. What can we do here is, as an achiever, as the one seeking to achieve beyond their arm or their aim? As an achiever, what we need to do is … build in periods of rest and reflection as we pursue the challenge that we’re after.


The Concept of the 1st Achiever:

So what does this mean? 


I’ve had this concept that I call the first achiever. You see, in my mind, there was someone, it might have been no one, but there is someone out there that could be considered the very first achiever. An achiever is defined as someone who achieved beyond their societal or environmental conditions to achieve something greater than they or society would’ve thought possible. 


So, in that condition, there was one person who did it and there was no one before them. Now you’ve got to see where I’m coming from with this concept of the first achiever. Today we have the beautiful ability to see the success path of many achievers in every aspect of life. Be it in parenting, be it in business, be it in sports, and any category that you can think of. There has been someone who has paved the way, and most likely multiple people who have paved the way so that we can see what success looks like, and how to go ahead and obtain the success attributes of an achiever in order to follow that pursuit to achieve our personal aims. So we have this ability in today’s society, but the time of the first achiever, they didn’t have that. They had nothing to go back and reflect upon.


Two foundational success attributes:


All they had was two attributes. Just two attributes. Now they could have had significantly other attributes and characteristics – which I’ve identified elsewhere – but at the bare minimum, there are absolutely two things that are needed to pursue our aims. Two things that are equal across the board for every achiever. 


Thing number one is a vision. “Yeah, Ralph, I know a vision. Everybody has to have a vision…”, but think about it. This is the first achiever.


There is no one who has achieved around them and in their environment is a group of people, society, who wants to keep things at the status quo. They want to keep things at the level of comfort. They don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to rustle any feathers. They don’t want to have any issues with their neighbors. So you have this environment that is seeking for you not to do anything beyond the status quo. This means you’re not getting support from your family, you’re not getting support from your friends, you’re not getting support from anyone.


That makes it that much more difficult. So, to have a vision on where you want to go is absolutely critical in this environment because you don’t have anything else that’s going to be able to support you. The vision supports you on your pursuit. It’s what gets you up in the morning. The vision is a thing that you need in order to continue the fight. Again, remember the conditions and the environment is not conducive for you to achieve something no one has ever achieved before. So to have a vision is clearly needed in order to know where they are going to go. 


Now hear what I said. Have a vision so that you can pursue.


Clarity may not necessarily be there. And often when you have a vision as grand as this one is in the very first achiever, there is no clarity…you just know, “I got to get to the moon,” as an example. How are you going to get there? I have no idea. Let’s start figuring this thing out, is what the conversation holds. 


Clarity comes through practice and experience and going through the rough patches in order to realize the vision. And as you get a better understanding of what this path looks like, is then you get a better clarity on the pursuit of the vision.


So what else is essential to the very first achiever. Okay? Again, remember the conditions of our environment are not conducive to pursue beyond my aim. So what do I need in order to pursue me on my aim: Perseverance. Perseverance would be the second thing that we need in order to move and accomplish beyond our aim. What does that mean?


It’s going to be rough. It’s going to be rough and rugged as they would say. It is going to be difficult. It’s going to be tedious. You’re going to cry, you’re going to doubt yourself. You’re going to experience emotions that you never thought possible because you are pursuing something that no one else has thought possible and therefore… You have to now build up the perseverance within yourself to continue the pursuit. That’s not an easy task and I’m, by no means looking to dilute it by saying you need to have perseverance… And…you need to have perseverance because it’s not an easy road. 


Do not allow the imagery of success that we see out here on social media to be the thing that you determine your success by. I know certainly for me it has been a thing that I had to continue to remind myself of. 


My pursuit is my pursuit. The way that I am looking to achieve is the way that I am looking to achieve. Yes, there are examples of the thing that I am trying to achieve and I have something to gauge myself towards. And my pursuit is my pursuit alone, and I should not measure myself against the pursuit of others. Again, we don’t know the full story. That’s why we don’t ever want to measure ourselves against others. We’ll measure ourselves against our own walk, our own pursuit. 


So those are the two things. Now, again, there are plenty of other characteristics, but these are the two things that are essential, absolutely critical for the achiever: have a vision, and have perseverance. These are the two things that are absolutely essential.


As we looked and we tried to shape the environment that’s situated for all of this. It is essential for us to understand that we need to be able to continue moving forward, build up the motivation, build up the driving force, build up the consuming desire. Be as the first achiever was, and go ahead and say, “Man, regardless of what my environment has given me, regardless of how my environment is supporting me, I have a vision, and I need to do daily build-up of myself so that I can pursue that vision, with perseverance.”


I’m Ralph Plaskett and I’m so excited to be able to share this information with you. Visit me at ralphplaskett.com that’s Ralph R-A-L-P-H plaskett, P-L-A-S-K-E-T-T.com for more information just like this, and until next week, enjoy the greatness that is life.

Finding Silence in the Noise


Intently focusing on something that is beyond the noise allows you to find silence in the midst of the chaos. In this episode, we cover the surprising benefits that silene can bring to your life immediately and the side effects of living in too much noise. You might just be surprised how you can find silence in the noise. 


My children are ages 6 and 3 and like most 6 and 3-year-olds they make a ton of noise. Crying, screaming, playing, singing, acting, dancing, everything you can imagine and often for no reason at all. I don’t think it could get any louder in my house. Well, maybe if we added a few more 6 and 3-year-olds. 

Either way. We were sitting down for dinner and the kids just finished their meals. There was no background noise, no TV, no Pandora, nothing. It was blissful. So much so, that my son made the comment that it was so quiet AND that he liked it! Could you believe it?! It was like the pot calling the kettle black. The very person who generates all of this noise is confessing that he loves the quietness.  

Of course like most 6-year-olds, especially with his sidekick 3-year-old sister, this blissful silence didn’t last for long. Here is what I learned from this experience and frankly my very short time as being a parent. I’ve learned that one, my wife is a great inspiration for these episodes as well since she gave me the title for this episode and two how to find silence in the noise. 

So I found myself drowning out the noise that my kids were making. I think that this is a superpower for most parents. I slowly removed layer by layer of noise – my son talking loudly, my daughter singing a song, the noise from the kitchen, and the cars outside driving by. Now of course, I still heard them but they were not in focus. In this instance, I was focused on enjoying my dinner. I enjoyed this silence for a few moments before I was snapped back into reality. 

And although this is a superpower of parents, this is not a unique skill. Intently focusing on something that is beyond the noise allows you to find silence in the midst of the chaos. Do you recall studying for exams, working in a cubicle farm with noise from every direction, or having a conversation in the middle of noisy sporting events? The same skill of focus that you used here is how you can find silence in a world of noise – albeit short-lived, these moments of intense focus and its resulting silence is refreshing.

Here is what I mean. Research has linked noise pollution to increased blood pressure, sleep loss, and heart disease. These results have led to even more research on the long-term effects of noise. Sure drowning out noise even for a few moments may not sound like much but if you think of the feeling that you gain when you are able to do so, it should lead you to want more noiselessness. 

In recent research about various types of noise, it was found that silence actually provided rather interesting benefits. 

First is the growth of new brain cells – Duke University regenerative biologist Imke Kirste found that silence for approximately two hours a day produced new cells in the part of the brain associated with memory. 

The next benefit is the activation of the brain’s memory – Our brain is a tenacious organ. Even when we are in complete silence, our brains never stop working. It retrieves memories of song and lyrics, conversations and experiences. This allows your brain to exercise the memory portion of the brain. 

Lastly, silence encourages self-reflection – This as you might have guessed is my favorite benefit. There is much to learn about yourself and the world around you through the gift of self-reflection. Without the demands of the world on your brain, silence allows your brain to wander and in that wondering, you may find yourself able to reflect on the past week or day or a particular experience. If you practice mindfulness or other well-being practices, you can be more direct with self-reflection and learn how you can become a better version of yourself. 

You may not have two hours a day to find silence, I know that I don’t, however, finding a few minutes here and there throughout my day has given me huge well-being benefits even in the midst of noisy kids.

Designing Your Day For Impact


We go through our days on autopilot executing our routines with great accuracy leaving us to live a life unfulfilled…skating on mediocrity. Yet, we have the opportunity to experience each day as a fulfilling, exciting, and joyful existence that we can be proud of and call uniquely our own. In this video, I share 6 elements that you can add to your daily routine to design a day of impact.

You’ll learn:

  • 6 essential elements to designing a day of impact
  • Why you cannot avoid routines and you don’t want to
  • How to be and stay happy, excited, and joyful regardless of what is trying to steal your joy
  • Download your workbook so that you can make the most of this training.

Transcript / Article:

Hey guys, Ralph Plaskett here. So glad you could join me this week on our continuing conversation about the things that really drive impact in our lives. Things that cause us to explore more and go deeper into various topics so that we could become the full expression of ourselves.

Let me know if this sounds familiar. So you wake up in the morning and you usually do what you usually do. In fact, you may even call it a morning routine. You go through this routine on autopilot and you don’t even think the wiser of it. You jump in and car and you know exactly where the traffic spots are. And in fact, you might even be getting anxious about the impending traffic. You get to work and it’s work as usual. You “engage” with the work that you have to do and it is typical. You could have lunch and it is ”the usual”. You know what lunch is or what it is going to be. It may not be what you had yesterday, but it certainly may be something that you had last week. You get home and you engage with your family and in the end, we call it a typical day.

Here’s a reality. We live our lives on autopilot. This description that I just gave was exactly a depiction of our lives and autopilot. And as you heard, it’s very routine. It becomes very boring, mediocre, less engaging than we ought to be able to live. So, so what is happening here? What happens is that by design that we live our lives on autopilot. Our brains are intended to become as efficient as they possibly can which results in our dependence on routines.

It would be way too much for our brains to have to relearn the activities that we have come to do by routine.

I think about it: You don’t think about walking. You just simply walk. You don’t think about how you brush your teeth. You just simply brush your teeth.

This causes us to live a life on autopilot and there is no blame here. But we have the opportunity to wake up from this autopilot life to live an engaged, fulfilling, joyful life of intention.

But how do we get there?

I have the humbling opportunity to coach some of the most amazing people in the world. And when I ask really simple yet profound questions, it often throws many of them off guard. Questions like, how do you show up? You see, the questions like “how do you show up?” forces one to think about the act of showing up. “What do you mean “how do I show up?” I just had to show up.” See the very act, the very question begs intention. How are we intentionally showing up to life?

So much of our life is on autopilot. The question becomes, how are you shifting from autopilot to manual?

I want to share with you six design elements of designing your day for impact. You see, when we’re intentional, we can wake up from the autopilot and really shape a day that we have designed. We can design a life that causes us to be more fulfilled, more engaged, more alive. So let’s go ahead and take a look at these six elements of an impactful day.

#1 Setting the mood.

Yes, yes. You’ve got to set the mood. Really. Have you ever asked yourself what kind of day am I going to have? By asking questions like “What kind of day am I going to have?” and “What kind of emotion do I want to hold today?” These are not typical things we ask ourselves. We get into our autopilot mode and we just simply do. We have our typical morning routine that we may change slightly but we don’t consciously think of the kind of day, the kind of emotion that we want to carry within a day.

When we’re able to shift from the perspective of autopilot to intention, then we can design a day where we carry the mood that we most want to hold. If I want to be joyful; if I want to be happy, How can I set the mood so that I can carry that emotion day in and day out?

You see, one powerful strategy is to hold a message for the day. What do I mean by holding the message? There is no shortage of inspirational and motivational quotes online. In fact, you can create your own, frankly. The power in those motivational quotes is really what kind of message do I want to carry to today? What message do I have for myself?

“I am going to have an amazing day” can be as simple of a message as that and carrying that with you causes you to simply have an amazing day. This isn’t talking about law of attraction or anything of that sort. Simply saying that I’m going to have an amazing day and intentionally declaring that causes an entire shift in your day. You shift from autopilot into intentional.

“I want to have an amazing day, so therefore I’m going to protect the thing that I want to have. I’m going to protect amazing.” So when something comes up against “amazing”, I am going to shield it with whatever I need to shield it: whatever strategy that I’m going to use to shield my amazing day.

So when you set the mood, be it with the strategy of a motivational or inspirational quote, or having this message that you hold for yourself. When you set the mood, you can start your day of an intention.

#2 One bold action.

When we are living a life on autopilot, we are simply just going into our routine. So when we’re in a routine, we just don’t do things that are outside of our routine. It wouldn’t even be called a routine otherwise. So in order to shift from that, we’ve got to take action. And frankly, not just simply any old action. We have to take bold action.

So what is something that you could do that takes you outside of your routine and frankly, even outside of your comfort zone, to allow you to, engage that much deeper, to have that much more of a fulfilling experience? Simply one bold action can shift you away from a mediocre, autopilot existence into an intentional existence around the mood that you want to set.

#3 Spontaneous Thanksgiving.

What can you do to give more of yourself? It doesn’t actually have to be something that you give, but simply being more present is a means of giving. If you actually want to give something that’s a powerful strategy as well. In fact, the act of giving releases happiness chemicals within your brain. You see, the very act of giving is not only beneficial for you because you received happiness chemicals in your brain and you feel much more alive, but it’s also releasing the happiness chemicals in the other person’s brain who’s receiving your giving because they feel appreciated. They feel thankful. It goes around and around.

So being spontaneous in your giving is a wonderful strategy/tool that you can use to be a lot more engaged and intentional.

So those three design elements are the things that we want to carry with us for the beginning part of our day as we’re considering how we’re designing a day of impact. Now at the end of our day, we have three more design elements that we want to use so that we can continue the act of intention.

#4: Reflective Acknowledgement.

So as we reflect back in our day, How did it go? Was it good? Was it bad? Did you actually do what you committed to yourself to do? We need to be able to gauge how intentional we were.

“I’m, I really commit to this thing call ‘intention’ because I know that intention is tied to these other goals that I have, that I want to be able to wake up from a reality of autopilot to a reality that I have the power to shape.”

Spontaneous acknowledgment allows us to go ahead and reflect back to our day and see how did it go.

#5 Reflective Improvement.

Here is the thing: If we do all of these strategies, we can fall right back into autopilot. Reflective improvement gives us the capability to not allow ourselves to fall into autopilot. What it does is says, “Hey, as good as a day may have been, how could I have done it better? What could I have done to do this better? What could I have done to do that better?”

These questions of improvement allow us not to fall back into autopilot but continued the mindset and the frame of intention. And as we continue intention, we can learn different ways to be more awake at life.

#6 Reflective Appreciation.

What did you like most about today? What was your, what were you most thankful about today?

You see each and every single day that we live is an opportunity that we shouldn’t take lightly.

There are so many who were around us that don’t have the opportunity of life. Because we have the opportunity life, we should be appreciative of every moment that we have. But frankly, what was the most important moment for you today? What was the most appreciative moment that you had?

Days like this is where I reflect back and I say, “Man! That smile on my daughter’s face was one of the most appreciative moments of my day. That smile of my son’s, of my wife’s, those are the appreciative moments of my day. Whatever it may be for you, as we reflect back on the appreciation for the day, it has a powerful effect on what we’re going to do the next day.

As we build intention into our routine and we create our routine not to become something on autopilot, but a routine that allows us to wake up to the intention that we can carry out each and every single day, we then have the capability of designing a life, not just simply a day, but an entire life that we can be proud of. A life that can be engaging, powerful, and fulfilling.

I’m Ralph Plaskett. I am so excited to be able to share this information with you. I would love to hear how you’re taking this information and applying it to your life. Let me know in the comments down below of this video of what strategy that you decided to take and put as part of your routine. I’m Ralph Plaskett and until next week, enjoy the greatness that is life.

An Exercise of Trust


  • How our vacation to Mexico changed the way that we engaged with others
  • What is Trust Tolerance™ and the benefits it has on leading fulfilling and rewarding experiences
  • The 3 areas of Trust that we all have to explore at some point in our lives
  • Watch the entire video to get the full lesson
  • Download the worksheet that accompanies this blog post so that you make the most of your learning
  • If you are an agent of change (coach, consultant, educator, etc) and seek to cause transformations in the lives of your clients, download the Human Transformation Canvas, free.


About two years ago, my wife and I went on an amazing vacation to Mexico. And what made that vacation so great, so amazing, for us was that it took us out of our comfort zone. Really, we made a commitment that in order to have one of the best vacations that we’ve ever experienced, we had to go beyond our growth edge, beyond our comfort zone. We committed to trying new things which meant that we were going to take on risks that we wouldn’t normally take on. And in doing so, we had one of the best vacations ever. What’s more, we learned about ourselves and how we interacted with the world. Really, it was an exercise of trust. What we learned was our trust tolerance. A trust tolerance is made up of two things: security and vulnerability. As we looked at security, we’re concerned about the physical, emotional and psychological security. How much of our feeling of security are we willing to release in our trust of others? As we looked vulnerability, we are most concerned about psychological vulnerability. How much vulnerability are we willing to take on or engage in? The lessons that we learned through this experience of exercising our trust tolerance, we were able to apply to other areas of our life than just our vacations. We’ve taken and applied it in other areas of our lives and certainly in our businesses.

Trust In Strangers:

The first area of trust I want to cover is the trust in strangers. And when I’m talking about trusting strangers, I’m not talking about someone you are sort of familiar with. I’m talking about absolute strangers. When we went on vacation to Mexico, we knew no one. When we got there, we had to absolutely trust in the greatness of humanity. And can I tell you we thoroughly enjoyed the people we interacted with throughout our entire vacation. And it really reenergized our hope and trust in humanity and not be consumed with what we see in the news or the media. Trusting in strangers, allows us to stretch the limit of our self awareness. Before we develop our capability of trusting in strangers, we go in with a set of preconceived notions. But as we trust in others who we have no engagement, no relationship, no involvement with what we begin to learn is a greater self awareness of how we engage with others. Trusting in strangers open up avenues and channels for us to learn and experience other people’s worlds and in doing so it opens up our worldview and gives us the ability to have a greater empathy and an understanding of the world around us.

Trust In Yourself:

This second area of trust, which is tied to the trust in strangers, is trusting in yourself. Specifically, we were looking at trust in our decision making ability and trust in the ability to recover from any decisions that may not have gone as expected. So here’s the thing about decisions. Decisions move us forward. When we don’t have an ability to make decisions, we are stuck. What’s worse, we are stuck in quicksand and we’re sinking. We’re sinking into not being able to make a decision because we have a paralysis of analysis. We come up with every reason under the sun as to not make the decision and of why the decision is such a difficult one to make. Decisions move us forward. When we have the ability to trust in our decisions and trust in our ability to recover from decisions, that’s when we know we can take on a little bit more risk. We can take on a little bit more of an ability to say, “I am willing to do [this] because I have confidence in myself to make a decision that is going to be a good one or make a decision that I can recover from.”

Trust in the Safety Beyond the Comfort Zone:

The last area of trust is trust in the safety beyond the comfort zone. Every single person on this planet has a fear or concern about the unknown. You don’t walk boldly into the dark as you walk boldly into the light. As we have a concern about the unknown, the only way to resolve that concern is to make the unknown known. As we’re looking at our growth edge, we tend to be comfortable with the box that we live in…until we come closer to the edge and certainly beyond the box we are in. The only way to realize the value in everything that this edge provides is to go beyond it by making the unknown known. Once we reveal the unknown, it becomes known and that knowledge causes us to feel safe at what was once our growth edge. There’s safety beyond [the growth edge]. Even if you don’t know that [today] the safety is there. All we have to do is start to become more aware [not as trivial as I made it sound]. We start to press against the growth edge until the box [that we live in] begins to expand and we become comfortable in the unknown. You see, especially in the expert space, there is an understanding that we must know all things and the truth is we can’t know all things. We must learn to get comfortable in knowing that we can’t know all things. In these three areas, we’re evaluating our trust tolerance and when we’re able to do that, we can have a more fulfilling and engaging experience; relationships; business acumen [example of any area of life] for example. There you have it guys! This is an exercise of trust in three areas:
  1. Trust in strangers,
  2. Trust in yourself, and
  3. Trust in the safety beyond the growth edge.