Trading up… One thought at a time

thought managementThe reality was, he owned nothing of substantial value. He owned one red paperclip but what he truly desired was to own a house. He had big dreams. How was he going to get from where he was to where he wanted to be?

On July 12, 2005, Kyle MacDonald initiated a trading game. He had a dream and he had bills to cover, he really needed a job, but instead … He placed an ad on Craigslist aiming to trade in his paperclip for something considerably better. He traded it for a ballpoint pen in the shape of a fish that started a sequence of bartering which captured the attention of thousands of people who followed his cross-continental trading travel. He continued trading and went from the pen, to a camping stove, to a power generator, to a neon sign, to a snowmobile, to a trip, to a snow globe.

On July 7, 2006, he completed his last trade for the house he always wanted to have. Then he threw a housewarming party, where he proposed to his girlfriend with a wedding ring made from the original red paperclip which was generously returned from his first trader.

Had I told you that it’s possible to get a house with a single red paperclip – you’d have assumed I had already lost my mind and come from another planet. You would have asserted that I was in la la land and completely unrealistic. However, the reality is this… those people who live with their eyes firmly planted on what is realistic keep themselves in a world of limited possibilities. Those people who keep their eyes firmly planted on the vision of their dreams create possibilities that are close to mystical in nature.

It looks like a big leap, however, to go from paperclip to homeowner. How do you connect such a wide gap? By trading up. That is what MacDonald did.

What if we could trade up our thoughts in the same way? What would happen? What if we could go from a feeling of hopelessness to a world of abundance in a few simple trades?

If we take a look at people who live stratospheric lives we find that the single greatest difference between them and everyone else is only the way they think. They are aware of the thoughts that they have that limit their possibilities and trade them up for thoughts of slightly higher value.

Our thoughts are the single most significant factor in achieving our dreams. Our thoughts become our beliefs, our beliefs lead to the expectations we have and our expectations drive the results we get. Just as MacDonald started with a simple paperclip and kept trading up, we can also trade up our thoughts to better thoughts and even better, greater ones until we reach our ultimate dreams.

Three key strategies to trade up to success:

1. MacDonald had a dream and a vision. He knew just what he wanted at the end of the trade, and he considered, maneuvered and orchestrated each trade to acquire maximum benefit. His trades sparked his interest in some way, they were instinctive and he could see a better picture within them. They made sense to him. You cannot figure out how to go about achieving your dreams till you have defined them. When you see your dream clearly, your thoughts and actions are aligned correctly, working in harmony to attain your vision.

2. Our unique experience. We are bestowed with a unique set of gifts and skills that are given only to us to assist us in navigating through journeys with our own brand of ingenuity. In MacDonald’s case, he was a jack of all trades with a restless nature. He actually did not want a conventional job; he is a geography enthusiast, a writer who drew upon circumstance, chance meetings and the quirky insignificant stuff of life as fuel for the stories on his blog, and wanderlust with a keen savvy for celebrity. He compiled each one of his gifts in his mission to trade up to a house, using in fact, the red paperclip that held together his resume. The red paperclip symbolically and factually saved him from conventional wisdom. Hmmmm. Follow your heart; do what you’re good at.

3. Live with passion. What did he really trade? From door knob to cube van, these items really had very little value. They had sentiment perhaps, or the cute factor, or made a glowing comment on society, or were kitsch so they were cool, arbitrary and extraordinary, fun and spontaneous, but mainly monetarily mediocre (except of course the house, and the snow globe which Corbin Benson desperately wanted to add to his collection).But they also had something very specific and altruistic about them. They were much more than objects; they were stories. They had a culture; they represented the journey, the dream, and they inspired, set fire to the imagination and generated excitement. The paperclip started a vibe; it was contagious, it became an obsession and a passion, and it became the stuff films are made of. One Paperclip is a book and a film produced by Dreamworks. Seems only fitting.

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My Kid Has a Bad Attitude and it has to Change!

thought management

Image: Ambro /

I coach lots of people who have kids who do not seem to be living up to their parent’s expectations.

Here are several of the things I hear:

“I have an 8 year old son and when things do not go his way, he pouts. It drives me nuts. I tried talking to him about it but it really doesn’t help.”

“My kid yells and screams until finally he gets his way.”

“My son is really a good volleyball player. After his games, all he does is pay attention to how he messed up. He beats himself up over it. I am bothered that his negative thoughts will affect him later in life. When he is playing and he messes up, I know in advance what our discussion will be like.”

“My daughter is just like her father. It’s always doom and gloom and I do not know how to change it. She expects things not to work out.”

“My son is lazy. He does not work very hard. He has everything handed to him on a silver platter. I am worried that he is going to grow up and not know how to work for a living.”

“My daughter is always so worried about how she looks. She spends several hours in front of the mirror every day. And she’s on the phone all the time. She is so quickly influenced by her friends that I’m worried that she might end up on the wrong side of the tracks and get into trouble.”

They go to me for advice on how to fix their children. The truth is… nothing is wrong with their kids. What they must fix is their own thinking.

Here is how it works:

What you focus on grows. What you see before you is exactly what keeps materializing. What you think about becomes your reality. And this applies to your kids.

When you give attention to your child’s pouting and have a ‘talk’ with your child relating to this behaviour, it becomes a focus and it expands. The pouting gets worse as a result. When you pay attention to how your daughter is always negative, her pessimism does not lift, it simply has a bigger bite. When you observe and worry about your son’s tendency to beat himself up over a mistake or a failure, that tendency doesn’t reduce, it just goes deeper. The real issue is not what your kids are doing or not doing. The issue is what YOU are paying attention to.

So here is the magical secret about parenting: focus on the characteristics of your children that you actually want to see – and your focus will help them to expand. Focus on the times when your child is demonstrating all the behaviours, skills, talents, values, and traits that you want her or him to have and make a big deal out of those moments. That’s the time to have a ‘talk’ with your child to tell him how wonderful he is. When he feels wonderful, his wonderful qualities just naturally grow.

The trick is to see what you want to see in your children and see what they want you to see in them. Fixing your kids is really a function of fixing you. Start thinking about them in a different way and the results will be astronomical.

Visit http://www.frameofmindcoaching to sign up for your own free, secure, online journal.

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The Tax Man Came

thought management

Image: Keerati /

I had back-to-back group coaching calls throughout the day. I was coaching people on emotional resilience and ways to modify their thinking and it wasn’t until 4:30 p.m. that I was able to check my messages.

“Kim, my name is Daniel and I’m calling from the City of Vaughan Tax Department. I am calling you about the taxes for your house. I will be at the office until 3:30 p.m. today. Here is my number; can you please call me back today or tomorrow?”

The tax department? What did I do wrong? Did I owe them money? Did I forget to pay a bill? Did my taxes increase? It was too late to call him back on that day. I wrote myself a note and left it near my computer to call him the following morning. That night I went home and got swept up in the frantic pace of normal life: dinner, curriculum night, homework, journal reading, tuck-ins, and bed. I forgot about the tax man.

The next morning, within two minutes of reaching the office, the phone rang.

“Oh hi, I’m glad you called.” I responded when I recognized that it was Daniel following up.

“You are? Why?”

“You were on my list of people to call today and you just called me instead. Thank you.” I think he was surprised.

“I am calling about the taxes for your house.”

“Okay, what’s up?”

“You provided us instructions to proceed with pre-authorized payment…”

“Yes, I did, is there a problem with my credit card?”

“No absolutely not. In July you sent us a cheque and now we have this extra $2,100. What would you like us to do with it?”

“Are you telling me that the tax department owes me some money???”

“Yes Ma’am.”

I was floored. It was like winning the lottery. The sky had quickly opened up and dropped a gift on my head.

“How would you like us to take care of that for you Ma’am?”

“Would it help if you sent me a cheque?” I asked, still in surprise.

“Yes, that’s what I’ll do; I’ll send you a cheque.”

In all my life, I’d never heard of the tax department calling anyone to provide them money. Talk about needing to shift my thinking! All day long, every day I advise people that what you focus on grows. In fact, I even wrote a book with that title! Here was a basic illustration of my own coaching strategies coming to life in my world – and I was still impressed!

Here’s how it works… whenever you imagine great things happening, they actually do. When you welcome incredible gifts, they show up. When you glow with appreciation for every little thing, more things that are really easy to appreciate quickly show up. What’s it all about? Your Frame of Mind. There is no other more powerful tool for creating amazing things in your life.

Visit http://www.frameofmindcoaching to sign up for your own free, secure, online journal.


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The Pink Slip…

thought managementWhat would likely happen at work if…

1. You repeatedly showed up late.
2. You consistently put your responsibilities away.
3. You neglected your most important tasks because you tried to do everything yourself.

If you committed these infractions at work, your boss would definitely have cause for dismissal.

In my coaching sessions I usually ask the question; what’s your responsibility? In most cases, women answer the question with a never ending list, citing an ample number of details, commitments, problems, schedules and bits and pieces that they’re responsible for doing for their children, husbands, parents, friends, organizations, and nowhere in the list do I hear about how they care for themselves. Nowhere – it’s astounding. If you abdicated all your obligations at work you would be terminated.  However, over and over again women place themselves last on the ‘to do’ list, failing to manage their personal business. Why is it tolerable to do this in your life? This is grounds for the pink slip.

Your number one responsibility is to take care of yourself. The more that you put your own personal needs aside to take of everyone else’s, you don’t just erode your self-confidence, but you carefully deprive yourself of the opportunities to reach your potential and to benefit from the things that are very important for you. In essence, while you think you’re creating happiness by taking good care of everything for everyone, you are allowing vast feelings of worthlessness and unhappiness into your own life. When your desires and needs are always in last place, when there never seem to be enough hours in the day, when you are micromanaging everybody’s lives, seriously you aren’t dealing with your life in an appropriate manor at all. It is not productive at all, not even for the people whose lives you think you are helping.

When you take care of yourself, your relationships will grow and be abundant rather than difficult and diminished. Once you put yourself in a position of priority, you are obviously making a statement that you’ve got value and worth. That’s very attractive, and it is human nature to be drawn to success.


Kim Ades, MBA, President of Frame of Mind Coaching, is one of North America’s foremost experts on performance through thought management. By using her unique process of coaching through journaling, she works with clients to unveil and switch their thought patterns to ignite significant change and life transformation. She is now teaching this process to coaches all over the world for use with their clients. Visit http://www.frameofmindcoaching to sign up for your own free, secure, online journal.



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Without a Bruise there is no Pain

thought management

Image: digitalart /

Yesterday, I went to Best Buy to buy a TV. I rarely watch television, but I decided that I wanted one for my bedroom so that I could watch movies snuggled up in bed with my children. I did not want a fancy one – just a basic, 20 inch TV with a DVD player. In making my choice, I had a couple of considerations – it had to easily fit in the car and I must be able to take it up the stairs to my bedroom.

The Best Buy staff helped me put it into the front passenger seat of my car and showed me how to get it out when I got home. When I arrived, I backed up into my driveway and stopped with half of the car inside the garage so that it would be much easier to carry into the house. I opened the door wide and took it out just like they demonstrated. I was alright – I had a good grip and although the box was over sized, the weight felt manageable. As I moved towards the house, my foot got trapped and I tripped, falling flat onto my knees with the TV. OUCH! The pain was sharp and I was in extreme agony. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get up but after about a minute I not only got up but also proceeded to move the TV into the house.

For just a few brief moments, the pain felt like it disappeared. And it was only when I sat down that my knees started to throb and swell. I called the people close to me to share my story and warn them about the huge bruising that was bound show up in the morning. I told them I was going to be black and blue in no time and that given the fall and the pain, it was not going to be a pretty sight. I received all kinds of words of advice: put ice on it, take anti-inflammatory medication, have a drink. I had a drink and I hit the bed early, raising my knees to an elevated position with several pillows.

I got up in the morning to discover that the sharp pain had changed to a constant, dull ache with high sensitivity to touch. I prepared myself as I elevated my pant leg to examine the bruising.

No bruising.

No bruising?!!! What do you mean no bruising?!!!I’m hurting! I had a really hard fall! I have to have bruising! Or else I don’t have proof – proof of injury, proof of pain.

That’s what we do – we hang on to our injuries and exaggerate our agony. We turn it into a story, a drama, even an entire soap opera. We feed the agony, we water it, we develop it, and make it an issue so that we can have proof. Proof that will solicit sympathy from others. Proof that will cause them to take interest in us and be kind, and gentle, and understanding. Proof that will allow us to connect with people on an emotional level and enable us to feel fulfilled. It is a quick fix because the truth is that people get sick of hearing about pain and agony over the long run – it’s definitely not a good strategy for long term connectivity.

I laughed at myself when I became aware how silly I was being. My thoughts instantly turned to gratitude that I would not be displaying any bruising next week in Florida as I strut my stuff by the pool. I decided that a unique kind of proof was in order – proof of joy, proof of fun, proof of relaxation, proof of peace and happiness. This, I decided, is a much better way to connect, one that will last a lifetime.

Kim Ades, MBA, President of Frame of Mind Coaching, is one of North America’s foremost experts on performance through thought management. By using her unique process of coaching through journaling, she works with clients to unveil and switch their thought patterns to ignite significant change and life transformation. She is now teaching this process to coaches all over the world for use with their clients. Visit http://www.frameofmindcoaching to sign up for your own free, secure, online journal.


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The Robbers

frame of mind

Image: Boaz Yiftach /

My parents are Egyptian Jews with deep seated cultural values and practices. I’m the youngest in the family who decided to make an appearance 13 years after my brother and 15 years after my sister. I was the pleasant surprise. Between the food and the guilt, and the intensely over protective parenting approach, you can just think of the loving cocoon in which I was wrapped as a child. While I grew up feeling that I was everyone’s favorite, I instinctively knew that due to the huge generational gap with my parents and the cultural disparity, I had to get out of the nest in order to maintain a tight relationship.

Now I live in Toronto, and they live in Montreal however the long distance doesn’t affect our communication. I’m very close with them.  I talk to them nearly every day on the phone and visit them a couple of times a year. Having not visited Toronto in more than 2 years, they made a decision to come for a visit to make sure my life was in order.

That’s when my mother told me about the robbers:

“Don’t leave the door unlocked when you’re inside the house, there are robbers.”

“Lock the doors in your car, and do not leave your purse in the back seat, a robber can open the door while you are at a red light and steal it.”

“Do not open your sunroof. A robber can jump in on top and attack you.”

“Zip up your purse and keep it on your lap when you go to the restroom in a public area because a robber can reach above the door and snap it up if it’s clinging on the back of the door.”

So apparently my mother is afraid of robbers. She means well and she is undoubtedly trying to protect me from the evils of the world. It is definitely a sign of love but…


My mother looks for them. And you know what? She finds them – in newspapers, on T.V., on the radio, in conversations with her friends, in discussions she overhears, and even in her dreams. She expects to find them and she does indeed. That is her reality. It’s what she pays attention to.

Your world consists of what you focus on and your ‘reality’ is very much a function of what you anticipate. If you expect negative things to happen, they do. If you look for drama, chaos, and volatility, it just appears. Even if you don’t look for it, but wish it were gone, you are still concentrating on that very thing and so it remains a factor in your world and it usually grows. If you concentrate on what’s lacking in your life, like money for example, you get more of what is missing – no money. If you focus on the fact that you are fat, you stay that way – overweight.

Just imagine spending all that energy focused on the things you want, like generating wealth, wellness, and happiness, and imagine expecting it to come your way. The probability of it showing up is significantly magnified when you can envision it and almost feel actually having it. The more you can see, taste, smell, touch, and emotionally experience what it’s like to obtain what you want, the closer you are to achieving it. The truth is, it starts to head your way.

The most incredible thing is that you can decide on what you want to focus on everyday. Just like brushing your teeth each morning, it can become a routine to wake up in the morning and select the thoughts that you’ll focus on throughout the day. Thoughts that bring you closer to the things that really matter in your life. Good thoughts, happy thoughts, thoughts of gratitude, pleasure, anticipation, love.

It is really all about your Frame of Mind. What thoughts will you choose today?

Kim Ades, MBA, President of Frame of Mind Coaching, is one of North America’s foremost experts on performance through thought management. By using her unique process of coaching through journaling, she works with clients to unveil and switch their thought patterns to ignite significant change and life transformation. She is now teaching this process to coaches all over the world for use with their clients. Visit http://www.frameofmindcoaching to sign up for your own free, secure, online journal.



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The Ostrich Incident

thought management

Image: Stuart Miles /

It’s been more than a year now and people have been asking me what it’s like to be remarried, especially now that I have a total of 5 kids.

Perhaps my journal entry is the best way to describe it…

Over the last month or so I have been feeling really good. I have just been happy about life, about my husband, about all of our kids, about my career, and about some of the personal initiatives I have started to implement. But this weekend, it turned out different. I was exhausted, grumpy, and frustrated with ‘stuff’. With each of the kids wanting a piece of me, I felt drawn in 3 million directions. The house was a mess, no one was helping, and I did not have a few minutes of my own time to even scratch my head.

The previous day, my neighbour and I had made a decision to have a garage sale. Side by side garage sales meant a bigger crowd and more sales. At about mid-morning, I took my 14-year-old son, Louis, over to my neighbor’s house to see what they had for sale. Tucked away, he found a huge purple marionette and decided he had to have it. I tried to discourage him; after all was not the purpose of a garage sale to help reduce our junk, not trade it in for more? He did not let it out of his sight and at the end of the day, with $4 in his hand, he went to make his purchase. The moment he got home, his 16-year-old stepbrother, Jonathan, saw this puppet and had to get one too. Luckily there was one left. He scrounged up all his change and they accepted the deal for 3 dollars and 85 cents. It was an ostrich and Jonathan instantly called him Ollie.

2 grown boys – both taller than me -walking around with marionettes. Fun.

Within seconds, Jonathan’s brothers, Brian and Michael, were arguing for the puppet. They offered him increasingly higher bids to buy it from him. $5, $10, $12, $15, $20!!! It would have been a great gain on his investment – but he rejected their offers. He made a concession, however and permitted them to play with it in his absence. That evening he had a date with his girlfriend so the two boys were free to play with it for the evening.

In a war over who would get to play with it first, the ostrich puppet’s strings broke. They attempted to repair it, but it simply was not the same. The following day, Michael had about four friends over to study for exams. The ostrich had been left on Michael’s bed in his room, and without any consideration to what was on the bed, one of his friends plopped himself down and squashed the bird. Poor Ollie.

When Jonathan saw the condition of his Ostrich the next day, he flipped out. “I cannot believe you did this to Ollie! You don’t care for anything! You are both disrespectful and careless! I will never lend you anything again! You owe me $3.85!”

He ranted for about 40 minutes, when at last, he pulled out a sheet of paper and demanded that they sign a pledge that they would not touch his stuff again.

They refused.

He then proceeded to ask his dad to sign on their behalf. They were under legal signing age anyways and he thought he needed legal consent.

His dad refused.

At this point, Jonathan was straddling the line between being furious and being a stand-up comedian. He said, “Fine. I will sign it on your behalf.” He wrote the word ‘Daddy’ on the lines beside Brian and Michael’s names.

“You can’t sign my name,” Allan protested. “That is forgery!”

As soon as Brian heard the term “forgery”, he determined that it was a criminal offense and called 911.

Although he hung up a split-second after dialing, he was surprised to find out that a police officer had been sent to our home to check out the “Ostrich Incident.” The officer was hard put not to laugh when he heard the entire story, but he put on a strict face and educated the kids, all of whom were sitting in a row apprehensively on the living room sofa, regarding the proper use of the 9-1-1 emergency service.

Later that evening, as we sat around the dining table going over how that episode would have made for good T.V., the kids were contrite and agreed to pitch in more at home and concentrate just a little more on being considerate towards the people around them. They ALL helped in the kitchen later on – one clearing the table, one washing, one loading the dishwasher, one on Tupperware duty, etc… We worked like a well-oiled machine and it felt amazing. Nobody left the kitchen until it was ALL done.

My grumpiness had evaporated, and all it took was an ostrich.

Visit http://www.frameofmindcoaching to sign up for your own free, secure, online journal.

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