This ten-part “Obsess” series is intriguing to compose because I’m talking about what’s been stirring inside. For a writer, it’s a joy to expound on personal fascinations.

The Main Machashleigh brilliant inhabitantine is you. You’re an “enclosed entity with numerous spinning wheels, all contributing to the singular purpose of that entity, this is, to accomplish a goal.” That’s my definition of a system. Here’s another way to look at your body and mind: You’re a “primary system composed of sub-systems.”

Each of us is precisely engineered so we can chose a purpose and then adjust our behaviors in order to pursue that purpose.  

And whatever your chosen purpose might be, it makes sense that you drop any behavior that doesn’t contribute to it. This post is about deal-killers: the things we do or don’t do that will negate all the great attributes we might have and/or all the accomplishments we’ve managed to secure. For Josh Fonger and me, in our consulting business, there’s nothing more disturbing than to watch a business owner do everything right except for one thing, and have that one thing wreck everything good that’s been achieved.

Rather than get all philosophical, here’s what I’m thinking, from a systems mindset point of view, about some prevalent deal-killers. It’s a pragmatic overview, a numbers game, and so my guess is that of the three we tackle here, there’s more than a good chance there’s relevance to you (or, certainly, to someone you know). Note that each relates to the other two. Improve one and the others improve too.

  1. Addiction to a mind-adjusting chemical. If you have an addiction, no matter what it is, it has commonalities with any other addiction. That means there are lessons to be learned from any one of the many recovery techniques. So, as a template for any addiction, we’ll review the most prevalent one, the one most of us can understand…and by far, it’s caffeine, with up to 80% of the western adult population imbibing every day, one way or another. Is it a deal-killer? Not for most people, but for many it certainly is. Personally, I’ve managed to reduce my caffeine intake to approximately 150 milligrams per week. My previous weekly consumption was in the 4,000-6,000 milligram range. I’ve quit altogether twice, once cold turkey, the other time, by tapering. My business partner Josh Fonger has also corralled his usage. We agree on this: quitting caffeine completely and forever is not in the cards. We enjoy it now and then. Here is the first of a three part series that I posted regarding quitting caffeine. Also, here’s a recent book about it that’s informative and fun: Caffeinated by Murray Carpenter (no relation). But, that’s just caffeine: for so many other drugs, “never-again” is the only solution. I mentioned this in the previous post: at my answering service business, Centratel, we have a unique recovery-group connection that I think you’ll find interesting. Feeling courageous? If you run a business with employees, institute a robust drug-testing policy. It’s made a huge difference in my own businesses. We’ve operated with and without drug testing and there’s no changing my mind about the value of it. For my operations, it will remain mandatory until someone tells me we can’t do it anymore. And what about alcohol? That’s a tough one. There’s no testing for it. But one thing for sure, alcohol is not just a social nicety. It’s a drug. Obviously, it’s ruined a lot of careers, relationships and lives. Do I drink? Maybe once a year. Then I’ll hate how it makes me feel the next day. So? How about you? Any chemical addiction? If so, is it a deal-killer?
  2. Sleep deprivation. How boring, to hear yet again that most of us don’t get enough sleep but it’s been a special obsession for me for some time and especially over the past two years that were particularly tough, physically and mentally. “Boring but true,” you have to get enough sleep! It has to happen if you want to get what you want out of your life. Obsess about it. Fight for it. Do whatever it is you have to do to get enough of it. (And please tell me you’re not one of those people who wears their sleep-deprivation as a badge of courage.) Sleep is not something to put at the bottom of the priority list; something you do when you have the time. Make it #1. Here’s an excerpt from my book about it. This is very cool: cut back your caffeine significantly and you’ll find you get more sleep. BTW, go for the dreams. When you dream hard, you’re visiting Delta Sleep: the deepest most rejuvenating phase of the sleep cycle, and you’re doing yourself some good. Generally speaking, chemical sleeping aids are a bad idea. Here’s my favorite book on the topic, The Promise of Sleep by William C. Dement. It’s a classic.
  3. A regressing body. My personal antidotes? Cardio exercise, yoga and meditation.
    1. Regarding cardio. With only a few brief pauses, I’ve been at it since 1962. The deliberate stress of it makes the body stronger, and if the body is strong it’s better able to resist the physical and mental bad stuff that comes along with having a life. It’s never too late to begin.  You can Google what you need to know.
    2. Yoga: Through the years, our muscles and tendons contract. Yoga counteracts that. I’ve been doing it for sixteen years.  Here’s a post I made about Bikram Yoga.
    3. Meditation, here’s the book by Jon Kabat-Zinn that is a great place to start: Full Catastrophe Living. I’ve been meditating for sixteen years. The best part is that one gets a break from the incessant mental noise. It’s a challenge to slow the frenetic freight train of thought, but it can be done. I meditate every night before sleep. With my own home-grown meditation/self-hypnosis routine, counting from one to five, focusing on my exhales, I fall asleep within twenty seconds.
    4. OK, one more: eat right. You can Google that too, but it’s my guess you already know what you should be eating. Now I’m starting to sound like mom.

What did I miss? What are your deal-killers?

Ten Concepts That Obsess Me Now
Part 1, Point of Sale
Part 2, Critical Thinking Search and Rescue
Part 3, A Business is a Dispassionate Machine
Part 4, Hyper-Efficiency Via Total Inbox
Part 5, Emailed Voice Mail (EVM)
Part 6, Thinking Slow, Moving Fast
Part 7, Deal Killers and the Main Machine (This Post)
Part 8, The Simple Key to Double Sales and Create Raving Fans
Part 9, The Tail Wagging the Dog Syndrome 

Part 10, Do You Have Quiet Courage?