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Stuff: Do you own it or... does it own you?

Stuff We all need some, we almost all want some more, yet who owns who?  In this the second decade of the 21st century we are marketed a...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Stuff: Do you own it or... does it own you?


We all need some, we almost all want some more, yet who owns who? In this the second decade of the 21st century we are marketed at constantly. Buy more, spend more, get more. How? With the best stuff. Clothes, cars, jewelry, housing, shoes, accessories, places and stuff. All can be so much fun to own, experience and use. But how does it all add to your life? 

Yet out of all this what truly helps build us up? Develop, deepen and widen our ability to thrive? Yes a good raincoat for a rainy day is very useful, a proper pair of winter books are very useful on those days when the temperature dips to -24C (Very cold in F) with wind chill.

Does your Stuff own you?

Beautiful, fast stuff. 

So why talk about stuff? Well resilience research tells us that how we chose to define ourselves from the inside out plays a role in how happy and successful we are in our lives. Plus how much we enjoy the journey. So, I ask again: Do you your stuff or does it own you?

We are defined in part by what and who we surround ourselves with. Yet if it all was taken away from you tomorrow what would change? Would you still be you, or does your stuff define you so much that you'd feel empty? Would you be able to move forward? Again, nothing wrong with having stuff. Just be careful your stuff does not own you.

Until next time Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.

To book me to speak at your next event:
Connect with me through your favourite bureau or agency.
Connect directly: Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Instant Gratification or a Life that Matters

Instant Gratification vs. A Life that Matters

We live in a world of excess and lack, in so many categories.  Some of us have too much to eat or not enough to eat. Some of us have no clean water, others more than they need.  How can those of us with enough share with those who have not enough?

During this times it is vital for each of us to pay attention to what matters to us in the short term and the long term. What values, what skills what behaviour will help keep us safer, more engaged and more fulfilled?
Sonja shows us mastery with a classic pose. 

Mastery is a topic that is often ignored in a world filled with instant gratification.  It is all about the process, the language, the skills and the people we need to know and avail ourselves to to become better at, and in time become more successful at the many areas of life we have the opportunities to grow into.

How and with who will you gain added mastery in life? What area(s) do you want to work on? A life that includes a focus on mastery is a life that is enriched and deepened. Given  our very superficial life style in most of this current civilization we can all benefit from working towards growing and gaining added mastery. It will deepen your resilience.

Also mastery in life can help us feel safer. We gain a sense of control over parts of our lives that help us as uncertainty in other areas grows. Plus sharing can assist us develop and deepen out sense of passion and purpose, two keys to living a life with mastery. This can make it easier to share.

Sonja shows us a a very difficult pose.
Making the difficult look easy is often a sign
 of Mastery and a love of what one is doing.
You can connect with Sonja for business at:
@omaklubi on Facebook

How and with who will you gain added mastery in life? What area(s) do you want to work on? How will mastery help free you up so you can prosper and share?

One of my favourite ways of sharing is through Kiva. They offer several ways to share with others. They provide loans through our sharing and over time the small business owners pay back. They have an impressive 97.1% repayment rate. 

Mastery as a way of life offers many rewards. How, in what  and with who will you develop yours? Investing in mastery pays dividends for a life time.

So, until next time Imagine Yourself,

To book Michael for your next meeting or association event  have your favourite agent or speakers bureau contact him at: MichaelHBallard@GMail.com
Michael Travels from Toronto Canada

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Two Engineers

Connecting, Engaging and Communicating

I was about six years old. Dad came in through the door after a day of work with a spring in his step, and a little more upbeat than usual. He gave me and my brother the always wonderful hug and kiss and then Mom got hers. Then he could not wait to share that he'd had a most unusual day at work.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” 
― Helen Keller
I remember it like yesterday. He look Mom in the eye and the conversation went something like this:
"Well today one of the company's  lawyers, RCMP and my Boss and his Boss paid me a visit. I been asked to work on a project."
Mom: "Oh really what' it about?"
Dad: Well that is were it gets very interesting. I've had to sear and oath on the bible for a 40 year oath of national secrecy.
Mom: "Wow... very exciting and interesting."
Dad: "Yes, it seems I'll be helping build things like nothing I've ever worked on before"

In the weeks and time ahead Dad would come home and share the people insights into what he was experiencing working on these TOP SECRET projects.

I can remember this as one of his most insightful conversations with my Mom and I like it was yesterday. He shard his work experiences on communications, engagement, team building and successful outcomes. We learned that day that my Dad was a part of two projects. Each one equal in importance, yet getting these vital projects launched and completed where happening radically differently.

Project One was being lead by a technical professional who included the whole group in the decision making process. Dad told us he had a large roll of brown paper, He'd roll it out, stick on the wall, the floor or a work bench 9where ever there was room) and with his magic marker sketch out key points, drawing of various parts with time lines. Then he'd hand out tentative diagrams of each component. Then he'd turn to the group and ask for feedback on each point he's put up. How to make it better, faster, safer, more effective etc. Some might say he was interested in 360ยบ feedback.

Project Two was being lead by a technical professional who would come to the group, assign tasks, drop off the appropriate paperwork and leave. NO time. Busy, busy busy is what he projected (Perhaps feeling overwhelmed?). He  could be found in his office if you had questions. He as considered argumentative 

Well after a many many weeks of this behaviour from both leaders, at the beginning of a new week and a new shift Project One Leader showed up to congratulate the team that they where ahead of schedule and below budget! Great news. Seems those in charge where very impressed. The team leader thanked them all for their contributions for help push this vital project forward to ensure it was a success!

A while later Project Two Leader arrived called a meeting and then started to "tear a strip off them" What type of people where they? The project was way off track in all categories. Behind, well over budget, raw material, partial and broken proto type waste was over the top. 
My Dad was amazed at this professionals lack of insights or basic understanding of humans and how to connect, engage and inspire others.

Plus both teams had same individuals on them, except for the Leaders. Hmmmm.

So, I ask myself daily who am I and how do others see me?
How do others see you?

Until next time, Imagine Yourself deepening your Resiliency for life.


To hire Michael to present at your next event contact him through your favourite speakers bureau or agency.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


Point of View 
Have you ever found that despite your best efforts things are not turning out as planned?

Could it be you? Perspective and our ability to consider OPPV's? Other People's Points of View can help us gain added insights into who thinks what and why.

I have a friend who works with the public. He tells me that one of his  biggest frustrations are male adults who talk to him as a child to him as the adult. As if he is the parent and the customer is the child.   He says he finds it exhausting to deal with this style or type of behaviour. I'd agree.

So how do others perceive you? What things about your style help you engage & connect with others? 
Is there anything about your style that makes others want to detach and pull away?

So, Resiliency is in part about engaging and connecting with each other. So what do you do that builds perspective in your life and is there any part of your style that blocks you?

So until next time imagine yourself with more resiliency for more life.

To contact Michael:
To book Michael for your upcoming event
contact him through your favourite agent or speakers bureau. 


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Failing Forward!

Failing Forward

Life is short. So, to have the best experiences we all need to take risks. There are so many ways to take those risks. One of them is in the hobbies we chose.  
Taking a risk One batch at a time One of the best examples of being a risk taker in hobbies was my Dad. He tried his hand at wood working with modest to wonderful results. He tried his hand at gardening with amazing results several ways for over 50 years in his flower gardens with his amazing mix of annuals and perennial flowers and shrubs. Plus his vegetable garden and especially his tomatoes garden was year in and year out amazing and the results come August and September always very tasty.
However in one of his hobbies he took a wide variety of risks. The outcomes where in turn varied. Which hobby was that? It was his wine making hobby. I can tell you some of his wines  where very nice. World class No. But that was never his aim. It was done for fun, enjoyment and sharing time with those that helped him. Some of his wine offerings to attempt to be polite where less than average. Yikes! His Parsnip Wine was awful. Yet lots of laughter and joy occurred as he recounted how my garden had yielded a bumper crop of parsnips. Some longer than 14" long and and very  large in diameter . A few bushel baskets worth. I could only freeze so much for  them for later, BBQ them for now and give away so many. So, Dad decided to turn them into wine. "After all son, they are related to the sugar beet. This will be interesting." Interesting indeed it was. It was not his best tasting batch is for certain. It was as always his best effort. However Parsnip Wine was not something I'd wish to taste again. Yet I so appreciate the joy and the curiosity he shared as he did batch after batch from the  many variety's of grapes, to dandelion, to wild bush cranberry (too sour for me) ranging from modest to amazing outcomes.

So what do you do that stretches you out? What do you do to create some big, some small positive outcomes with some not so great outcomes.

So until next time Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Who me? Worry?

Why Worry?

I bumped into Elmo after a
meeting  at a children's hospital
Nothing like time with Elmo to add
some Joy to life.
There has been many words written about the act and process of worrying. I'm not here to convince you to stop. I am here to ask you how much time you've invested in worry and what change in outcomes has it created?

Now I'm not talking about the typical thought "Hmmm did I lock the door this morning - when I left for work?"  Nope not at all. That is a very normal thought for many of us a couple times a month. 

No, I'm talking about what I call "Deep Worry". A habit of spending time often lost in worry about:
We all face so many choices! 
- What if
- If only
- I, We, We're, They're not: Ready, Able, Up for this....

Learning to replace negative worry with action orientated self talk can be and is life affirming and changing. 
So, until next time, 
Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency forLife.


Hiring and Contacting Michael
To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:

You can purchase Michael's programming on:
Udemy.com video programs at:

 iTunes.com audio programs at:

Michael’s Social Media includes:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Excellence or Perfection?

 So what is your preference?
Mastery as a way of service
Positano Restaurant on Mt. Pleasant Ave.
in Toronto knows all about excellence.
They live and breath it in every thing they do.
 I've had some very interesting conversations over the years about this. Excellence to many of us is a continuous quest to raise standards, through process, experiences and outcomes. In part to me it is about a state of mind and values that over time can lead to some very successful outcomes. Not every day, yet a continuous process that helps us improve the experience and the outcome(s).
Michael Ballard
Perfection to many of us is a slave like commitment to perfection in all places and times. Impossible to live up to every day, yet  to some it is an attempt they make every day. People by design cannot be perfect. Nor can they act perfectly.

So, what is your choice? Excellence or Perfection? I'm not here to judge. Just have you consider which one is easier on your heart and head as you travel your path through life.

Until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Thought Distortions Part 3

My Grandparents learned very early in life to use
 caution to NOT filter positives out of their lives. Despite
serious issues including lack of food they helped create a very
supportive and up lifiting family life for themselves and their children.
We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.
Black and White Thinking or Either Or Thinking also known as Polarized Thinking
In polarized thinking, things are either - or.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure (Excellence eludes us) — there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of each situation. If your performance is not  perfect, you see yourself as a dumb ass failure.
I learned in dealing with my chronic and acute health issues
that Over generalization and Jumping to Conclusions both
blocked happiness and potential abilities to better manage
the quality of my health experience.
In this style of thinking, we come to the conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern.
Jumping to Conclusions. 
Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us.
For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.
We expect disaster, no matter what. This is also referred to as “awfullizing,   magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).
For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections).
So until next time Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.
Michael Ballard 
Book Michael to speak at your next event? Inquiry@MichaelHBallard.com

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Perspective & Thought Distortions Part 2

Who do you allow to
challenge your thinking?

Thought Distortions can also include:

Always Being Right.
We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.
Going to a calm place and staying there
can help us examine our thoughts.
Heaven’s Reward Fallacy. 
We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t arrive.
So thought distortions can get in the way of our happiness, health and success in life. What do you do to keep yours to a minimum?

Until next time Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life!

Michael Ballard

To contact Michael and book him for one of your events you can reach him at: ResilientMichael @ gmail.com (No spaces)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Perspective & Thought Distortions Prt 1

Perspective, Thought Distortions & Cognitive Distortions 

Learning to filter our thoughts 
is a very powerful skill.
So here are some of the common Thought Distortions I see my clients have:

Keep Things in Perspective. Even when facing BIGStuff events that could include loss and grief, try to consider the stressful situation in a BIG picture point of view and keep both a short term and longterm set of outcomes in place.

Perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion. If you don't, it can lead to what some call Thought Distortions. 
Thought Distortions can be caused in part by a very narrow focus. We get pulled off side by our pain and grief.

Learning to not think everyone is against us is
 a very powerful & healthy mindset to achieve 

Over Generalization In this thought distortion, we come to a conclusion based on a single issue or a single incident or single piece of evidence. If something bad happens even just once, we expect it to happen repeatedly. A person can get caught in a cycle of seeing a one time only event as part of a never-ending pattern of negative issues in their life.
Jumping to Conclusions Individuals who jump to conclusions feel that without others even saying so, they know what others are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, they are able to determine how people are feeling toward them.
For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting poorly toward them but doesn’t take the time to find out if they are correct; or a person may feel that things will turn out badly, and will be convinced that their thoughts are already an established fact!

These are just two of the mindsets we need to take care not to fall into.

So, until next time I wish you a life filled with Resiliency for Life! Just Imagine Yourself with more Resilience.

Michael Ballard


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Mind Traps

Avoid Mind Traps or Thinking TrapsWhen things go wrong, do you automatically blame yourself or others? Jump to conclusions? Mind Traps place us in very narrow self-limiting ways of thinking and feeling. They limit our options and our happiness. Life is to short to let our Mind Traps place us in less productive ways of behaviour. How will you challenge yourself to rid yourself of your Mind Traps?

I found reading the book Six Thinking Hats very useful in break free of Mind Traps. The book gets you to consider six ways to approach and consider our challenges in life.

So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.


Michael Ballard specializes in helping people, schools, teams
organizations and communities learn how to become more resilient.

Contacting Michael
To interview Michael, book him for your 
next event or to contact him you can do that at:

You can purchase Michael's programming on:
Udemy.com video programs at:

 iTunes.com audio programs at:

Michael’s Social Media includes: