New Rules for a Man’s Forties
Successfully navigating change is the number one life skill to master.
Author Ariane de Bonvoisin interviewed hundreds of successful men,
from business titans to Nobel Prize winners, for her book, The First 30
Days ( first30days.com). She noticed similar patterns, attitudes, and ways of
thinking that were common among people who are good at change. Here,
seven men explain how de Bonvoisin’s change principles have helped them
embrace change and transform their lives.
a aintain Positive Beliefs
If you’re always looking down, all
ou will ever see is your feet,” says
sychologist Mario Alonso, PhD. “You
eed to raise your head and look
round. It’s more than a platitude:
eing in a good mood broadens your
ttention span and lets you see future
opportunities, while being in a bad mood tends to
make you focus on the now, according to a recent
study in the Journal of Consumer Research and a
wealth of research by Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD,
a professor of psychology at the University of
Pennsylvania, who has demonstrated how positive
thinking boosts productivity. But an element of
self-awareness is critical: You have to be realistic.
To thrive in tough times, you have to figure out
your strengths. I often do assessments with my
clients, but you can also do your own self-audit. I
do one myself every year. Ask yourself, What were
my greatest accomplishments in the past year,
five years, and 10 years? What do I consistently do
well? What kinds of work activities give me energy
rather than drain it? What kinds of projects use
my complete skill set? Am I an ideas person? A
self-starter? Team oriented? A conflict resolver?
By focusing on your strengths, you’re positioning
yourself for success.”
Mario Alonso, PhD, is a therapist, an executive coach,
and the author of Family Business Survival.
2Test Yourself Periodically
“President Bill Clinton once
described me as a man of
‘uncommon common sense,’” says
James Lee Witt, director of the
Federal Emergency Management
Agency from 1993 to 2001. “The
term refers to a skill set that is
helpful when dealing with periods of change.
Uncommon common sense is a bone-deep faith
in your ability to cope in a bad situation, faith
that you can decide what to do, figure out how to
do it, pick up the pieces of your life, and go on.
It’s frightening the first time you have to tap into
that faith, but the more you’re tested, the more
you can rely on your experience. I’ve witnessed
this in thousands of people when dealing with
various traumatic experiences and in my own life
in organizing disaster recovery efforts against
seemingly insurmountable odds. Whatever it is
inside us that instills, facilitates, and conveys such
confidence, the truth about it is this: It grows, like
bark on a tree, with every trial you face.”
James Lee Witt is the author of Stronger in the Broken
Places and CEO of James Lee Witt Associates.
3Identify and Neutralize the
Anxiety of Change
“Automatic negative thoughts are
the main drivers of anxiety and
depression,” says Daniel Amen,
MD, a specialist in brain imaging.
“The latest science shows that they
actually increase the production of
stress hormones, which can kill brain cells. But
you can learn how to identify these thoughts and
neutralize them by writing down negative thoughts
when they come up and then asking yourself these
heart upgrade I lower your cholesterol naturally
P. K. Shah, MD, 59, is the director of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles.
“I did the things you’re supposed to do when you turn 40: I got a prostate exam and a lipid profile. My cholesterol was on the high side,
so I stopped eating red meat, fried foods, and dairy products and started following a heart-healthy diet. For breakfast every day I have
whole-grain cereal with a handful of almonds and walnuts, nonfat milk, and a spoonful of cinnamon. For lunch and dinner, I alternate
between grilled skinless chicken and grilled fish, and accompany both with a variety of vegetables, beans, and lentils. I also eat a variety
of fruits, especially berries, throughout the day. Eating this way has brought my cholesterol level down to normal.”