If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.

C.G. Jung

5 Rules, made for your kids, that you need to observe.

Posted by martin.parnell |

Every day the media is talking about rules we should make for our kids, in order for them to have a productive, healthy, organised lifestyle. But, how many of these do we follow, when it comes to ourselves? Maybe it wouldn’t do us any harm to practice what we preach. 

1. Stop playing that video game:

 My friend, Jim Messner, recently told me that he doesn’t look at any emails, until 8.00 am. I decided to adapt that slightly and made my own rule that I don’t look at any emails until I’ve done an hour’s work. I’m surprised at how much I get done, in that 60 minutes.

2. Tidy your room:

 I consider myself to be fairly organised and have learnt that by just setting aside 5 minutes per day to file paperwork and tiding my work-space at the end of each day does make a difference. I know some people revel in "creative clutter". I know I'm not one of them.

3. Do your homework: 

Give yourself deadlines by which to get things done e.g. writing blogs, updating your website, answering emails, reading articles etc. and stick to them. One method I use is a "Rolling To Do" list. Items get added daily as I think of them and are removed as they are completed. Then I'll review the list at the end of the week, prioritize them and tackle the top priority ones at the beginning of the next week. Upon reflection some are not worth doing and are removed.

4. Go outside and play:

 Even if it’s just a few minutes every hour, get up and walk around, take the stairs instead of the elevator (you can always try just walking up one floor and build on that). Better still, schedule an outdoor activity e.g. walking around the block at lunch time. Even a few minutes a day makes a difference.

5. Time for bed: 

An article published by The Division of sleep medicine, at Harvard medical school states that we all have some sense of the relationship between sleep and our ability to function throughout the day. After all, everyone has experienced the fatigue, bad mood, or lack of focus that so often follow a night of poor sleep. What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

 As for how much sleep we need, The National Sleep Foundation Recommends:

  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours 

 Oh and don’t forget to eat your veggies!

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Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation

Robert H. Schuller

5 Actions to Ensure a Successful Marathon or Keynote

Posted by martin.parnell |

On May 29th. I’ll be running the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. Now, to many people this might appear to be a walk in the park, for someone who, in 2010, ran 250 marathons that year.  Not true. I have had to put in the training and get myself organised for the day, just the same as anyone other racer.

For me, that preparation involves running various distances, at differing paces and getting my body ready for the long 42.2km haul to the finish. As well as the physical training, runners have to consider what to wear, which can vary quite a bit, according to weather conditions and the issue of nutrition and hydration, i.e.  What to consume and how much, before and during the run.

Then there are the seemingly minor details that can affect race day. Where do I go? What time do I have to be there? Have I got my race bib and timing chip?   If I do all of these things, I can approach the start line with confidence. During the run, I have to pace myself, take in enough fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates to keep me going, make sure I follow the assigned route and just run my own race and try not to be affected by what’s going on around me.

I also make a point of remembering to thank all the volunteers who man the aid stations and line the route. After all, without them the race couldn’t go ahead.  I apply the same principals to my speaking career. No matter how many keynotes I give, I know I have to make sure I’m always well-prepared.  Here are some of the things I do to “train” for a presentation: 

  1. Review feedback from my previous talk/ workshop – is there anything I can improve on/ alter according to my audience? 
  1. Check my gear – do I have all my “props”? 
  1. What time do I need to be there – are all my travel arrangements in order? 
  1. Check the venue – is the audio / visual equipment working properly? 
  1. Who will I need to thank? -  This is very important. Don’t just thank the organisers, and attendees, think about the people like the catering staff, volunteers etc, anyone who may be involved in helping to make your engagement a success. 

I have a mental check list for my marathons and a similar one for my speaking engagements. Knowing you are well prepared allows you to approach your event with confidence, enabling you to enjoy the experience and be more likely to have a successful outcome. 

All you need to do then is adopt that “Finish The Race Attitude”!

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Never give up on your Dream

Terry Fox
7 Questions to Boost your Life and Business

7 Questions to Boost your Life and Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

If I’m home for lunch on a Monday, I enjoy turning on the radio and listening to CBC’S “The Next Chapter”, hosted by Shelagh Rogers. It showcases the lives and works of Canadian authors. It also has a segment where a guest is invited to answer the program’s own version of the Proust Questionnaire.

According to Wikipedia,”The Proust Questionnaire” is a questionnaire about one's personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by the French writer Marcel Proust.

At the end of the nineteenth century, when Proust was still in his teens, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession album belonging to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Felix Faure titled "An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc." 

I thought it might be fun to answer this version myself, so I jotted down the questions and gave it a go. I also thought about how my answers might relate to business:


Q: Your favourite painter?

A: Salvador Dali. His creative interpretation of everyday items and images makes us stop and think. In business, being creative, allows us to rise above the crowd.

Q: Who are your real-life heroes?

A: Terry Fox. Terry had a goal and was totally committed to it. In business, there are no half measures. I once read that “Life is like a plate of eggs and bacon, the chicken participates, the pig is committed”.

Q: What is your favorite journey?

A: Running along a coastal or mountain trail in the fog. In business, it sometimes feels like that but when I know I’m going in the right direction, I just have to stick to the trail.

Q: What is your greatest extravagance?

A: Buying the best running shoes for the conditions. That means a pair of Salomon Gortex trail shoes for the ice, snow and rain. In business, the same concept applies. Which email marketing and Customer Relations Management package is right for you?

Q: What is your greatest regret?

A: Not always keeping in touch with family and friends. In business, it’s establishing, developing and maintaining relationships. This takes discipline and focus. It’s the glue that keeps things moving forward

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: To see my children and grandchildren grow and blossom. In business, it’s having an idea and, through hard work and perseverance, and seeing it come to fuition.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

A: Through my six years of fund raising, I improved the lives of thousands of children around the world. In business, it’s working with clients to set and achieve goals in order that they can reach their full potential.


These seven questions reveal key insights into your personal and business wellbeing. Answers them today. Not only will they show where you are but are sign posts to where you need to go.

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You realize what kind of life you lived, and that flashes before you, and then you realize what kind of life that you want to live after.

Adrianne Haslet-Davis

Life is an Obstacle Course - Keep Fit and Have Patience

Posted by martin.parnell |

Adrianne Haslet-Davis survived the horrific bombings, at the 2013 Boston Marathon, where she lost her left leg below the knee. She quickly rose to meet her daily challenges head on with a unique perspective. Being a ballroom dancer and former Fortune 500 corporate manager, at the peak of her career, she has had to re-learn her craft and an entirely new meaning to the word patience.

At approximately 7:15 p.m., on April 18th of this year, Adrianne crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, after spending nearly 10 hours on the course. She became the second person who lost a limb in the 2013 finish line bombings to complete the race on foot, after Patrick Downes finished earlier in the day. 

Next Sunday, 29th. May, I will be running the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon, as my alter-ego Captain Clot-Buster. This super-hero first appeared at the 10 km “Dash of Doom” on October 24th 2015, eight months after being diagnosed with an extensive clot on the brain. It was a long road to recovery, from sitting, to walking, to running, with many obstacles to overcome. Fitness and patience were two key elements that helped me along the way.

According to my neurosurgeon, being in good shape certainly helped my recovery, if not my survival. As with Adrianne, it’s important to keep yourself fit, as it gives you a better chance of overcoming challenges relating to your health. Being healthy in mind and body can certainly be a bonus, when it comes to dealing with certain events in our lives.

I had to learn to deal with partial loss of vision and balance and have the patience to put all my planned engagements on hold until I had made sufficient recovery to re-engage my speaking career. For other people, their working lives can be just as disrupted by traumatic events, other than health issues, beyond their control.

In Alberta, in particular, we have seen the effects of the downturn in the oil and gas industry and now the devastation of the Fort McMurray wild fire. Both will have brought uncertainty to the lives of many. What one should try to remember is that, whether or not you pursue the same lifestyle you had before, or choose to go along a different path, past experience will always provide you with a set of skills on which to draw.

The important thing is to recognise the diversity of those skills, and be open to applying them to new and different opportunities.

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If I were a flower, hummingbird would be my favourite bee And If I were blind, the light of darkness I'd love to see.

Munia Khan

3 Lessons from the Birds and the Bees

Posted by martin.parnell |

Last week, my wife, Sue decided that she would like to attract bees and hummingbirds to our back garden. Her first step was to invest in a hummingbird feeder, in the hope that it would attract some of these colourful little birds.

The sales assistant told her that she should fill it with a mixture of sugar, water and red food dye, as the latter will attract the birds.

However, on reading an article on the subject by Penny Eliston, a licensed hummingbird rehabilitator, Sue learned that one should  “not put honey, Jell-O, brown sugar, fruit, or red dye (also known as food coloring) in your feeder!" Honey ferments rapidly when diluted with water and can kill hummingbirds. The effects of red dye have not been not scientifically tested, and it is not necessary to colour the water to attract birds to your feeder. Further, there are unverified reports that red dye can cause tumours in hummingbirds; this may or may not be true, but why take the chance?’

Why, indeed? Sue read more articles and found that this opinion was supported by other experts. After doing some further research, on the Internet, into which colour plants most attract hummingbirds, Sue discovered that apart from some red-flowering plants, delphiniums, foxgloves, columbines and several other blue, purple and yellow- flowering plants come near the top of the list.

Interestingly, these are the same plants which will attract bees. Also, if you want to attract native bees, you plant native plants and, to attract honeybees, you plant exotic plants. You could go to even further lengths and build a bee house or provide a bee bath, but I think Sue will be sticking to choosing appropriate flowers, for now.

So, how does one decide when information is accurate, valuable and relevant? First, it’s always worth listening to the experts, but do check out their credentials. Look at a variety of sources and ask yourself “What appears to be the general consensus?” When deciding which approach to take, look at the various options. Maybe there’s more than one idea to consider, when choosing a plan of action. Perhaps one idea is more practical, cost effective or quicker to implement.

Is there a plan that will satisfy more than one need? Which approach best suits the conditions, your time allowance and the needs of who you are doing this for. Sue’s really looking forward to sitting at the window, as she writes her journal and observes the comings and goings of her little visitors.

And, if they don’t come? Well, I guess that’s the time to review her approach and formulate a new plan of action!

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