When Your Family & Friends Are Your Dream Killers

“Do not let dream killers dim your vision and steal your joy.” ~ Skip Prichard

Dream killers are everywhere.

You know many of them: Fear. Insecurity. Uncertainty. Inertia. The past. Negativity. Low self-esteem. Over-analyzing. Underestimating. Overestimating. Procrastination.

You know them. You’re prepared for them. You have a ‘what to do’ plan when they show up.

Then there are those dream killers that catch you off guard. They occupy your inner circle. Some by virtue of familial connection – grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, etc. Others by intentional or accidental selection – friends, best friends, friends who become family, ride or die friends, etc.

Dream killers have mastered one skill. Doubt sowing.

Doubt from an external force is one thing. Seeds of doubt being planted by those nearest and dearest can cause damage that is hard to reverse.

You figure that they know you best and therefore conclude that the seeds of doubt are actually seeds of truth. They are not.

Spoken word poet and poetry author, Rudy Francisco says, “muscle is created by repeatedly lifting things that have been designed to weigh us down.”  However, there is such a thing as carrying unnecessary weight. Not every thing designed to weigh you done was intended for you to carry.

In pursuit of your dreams or in response to your purpose, there is muscle that you must build. Muscle like confidence, persistence, and courage to name a few. That muscle is necessary weight. Dream killers of the familial and friendship variety are most certainly unnecessary weight.

Family will always be family. Ther’s no changing that. However, it is not your job, in any way shape or form, to convince them to validate your dreams. In pursuit of your dreams or in response to your purpose, there is only one person who must sign on. You!

Family members who consistently cause you to doubt yourself do not need to know everything that is going on in your life.  If things get really tough though, never forget that some family members can be loved from a distance. If they notice and care to ask why. Be honest. Tell them that they are sucking all the joy out of life.

“Fire False Friends as early as possible. Do it before they dig out the dream seeds you’ve planted! The earlier, the better; the quicker, the safer!” ~ Israelmore Ayivor

When it comes to your friends keep in mind the following. Human beings are creatures of habit. We don’t do good with change. Our friends might be dream killers but we rationalize the relationship by saying that at least they are the devil we know as opposed to the devil we don’t.

Therefore instead of trying to distance yourself from your dream-crushing friends, find other friends to add to your circle. What will end up happening is that over time you will start to spend less and less time with friends who have chosen to crush your dreams instead of cheering you on.

You’ll know that this is working when those so-called friends start saying things like “We don’t hang out anymore.” To which your response, if one is needed, will be succinct. “I know.”  Without apology or indication that this is going to change.

Will the above be tough to do? Absolutely. That being said though, the pain you feel now will pale in comparison to the pain of an unrealized dream.

That pain will subsequently ruin any relationship that was prioritized over it.

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I Cannot Motivate You & That’s The Best News You’re Going to Hear All Day

If you remember only one thing today let it be this.

Nobody. Absolutely nobody can motivate you long enough to do anything worth doing or to have anything worth having.

Any achievement worth talking about, writing about or reliving, takes time to create. The type of motivation required to make that time and stick with it is primarily an inside job.

Wait a second.

What about all those people who are out there making a killing motivating others?

I’m glad you asked.

For the few people who change their lives after listening to something motivational, there are many more people who go back to living their lives at status quo. This is because there are two types of people who seek out motivation.

There are those who are already motivated but need a kick in the pants. Motivators make a good living from them but not much because once the kick is delivered, it will be a while before you see them again.

Then there are those who have been convinced that someone else is responsible for getting them to do something or become something.

How can you spot them?

They stop working when the boss stops looking.

They hire a trainer and skip a workout when the trainer takes a sick day.

They stop when they are tired and there is still work to be done.

They live by other people’s schedules.

They ask stupid questions.

… How long do I have to do this for?

… Why are they not doing this?

… Did you do this?

… Do I have to do this, I don’t feel like it?

They start all action statements with ‘we.’

… We should do

… We should go

… We should try

This segment of the population is powered by borrowed motivation and are responsible for making motivators millionaires.

What Does Internal Motivation Look Like In Real Life

It looks like Jennifer Phillips X Factor audition in 2015.

Jennifer had the opportunity to change her life. That opportunity put her in front of four judges. One of whom was Simon Cowell. She had a plan. The judges, starting with Simon Cowell, of course, did not like her plan. They made her change it. She did and she absolutely killed it.

If Jennifer had been powered by the external motivation of her singing coach or friends and family she would have buckled because they were not there at the moment when she was asked to change the plan.

External motivation does not keep your schedule or any schedule for that matter. When you need it, you must go in search of it. Unfortunately, life does not wait. Neither does opportunity.

Internal motivation, if you’ve built it, will always be there. Bright eyed and bushy tailed waiting to propel you forward.

Call to Action

Let today be the day that you let whomever you had tasked with the responsibility of motivating you, off the hook for failing miserably. They were never adequately equipped for the task at hand.

Let today be the day that you hammer the following quote into your soul. “You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.” ~ Stephen Richards

James Clear says that the “environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” So let today be the day you start to build your internal source of motivation by creating an environment in which it can grow and thrive.

That environment requires the following.

1. Simplicity

You are required to have big goals. Great goals. Scary goals. You are not required, by anyone, to have big, great or scary ways to achieve said goals. The self-induced requirement that things have to be achieved in difficult environments, stunts the growth of internal motivation.

Set big goals and keep the process of achievement simple and easy and most important, part of what you already do.

The gym should be on your way home and not in the other direction. The healthy food should be at home and the junk food in the store and not the other way round. The good books should be by your comfortable chair and not in the library down the hall.

2. Activity

Alex Mathers writes that “Life is movement. Everything moves. Everything is in a constant state of flux. You must align with such constant change, to align with reality. If you don’t move, you are no longer real. And life will punish you for that. You will feel it.”

One form that punishment will take is having to rely on the motivation of others to do anything or be anything. How awful is that?

Once thinking has been done create an environment that allows for more doing.

For example, once you decide to save money, getting the money to your savings account should be automated. If you have to think about it, you create the opportunity not to act.

3. Tracking

Jerry Bruckner says in his book, The Success Formula that, “Once you know your goals you should measure your progress to achieve them. Seeing your favorable progress will serve as positive reinforcement to continue your hard work and seeing negative progress will alert you to something you should change to get you back on track.”

Knowing that you are on the right track, that you’re getting better, does wonders for your internal motivation.

Figure out how to measure your goal. Keep in mind that you are not measuring activity but progress. Not all action is forward and forward is the only action that counts in the pursuit of internal motivation.

For example, measuring how long you worked out is more beneficial than measuring the mere fact that you did work out. Of course, this measurement assumes that working out is a thing that you already do.  If it’s not, then measuring how many days you worked out is a better place to start.

3. Rewards

Humans are either moving towards pleasure or avoiding pain.

It’s tough to avoid pain when you set big, great and scary goals. Even if you have set the easiest of achievement processes. As you continue to challenge yourself it’s going to get hard. Real hard. You’re going to need to keep your eyes on a reward to keep going.

The habit of focusing on a reward releases dopamine. Psychology Today defines dopamine as a “neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards but to take action to move toward them.”

The reward you establish should not counter the efforts that went into achieving it. That only serves to set you back.

For example, don’t choose to reward yourself for saving money by buying something that empties out your savings account. Don’t reward yourself for achieving a particular weight loss number by gorging yourself on twice the amount of calories.

4. Celebration

Celebrate the small things that you’ve done. Celebrate the big things that you’ve done. Celebrate it all. “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate,” says Oprah Winfrey.

The reason for your celebration was not accidental. You intentionally put yourself outside your comfort zone and kept pushing until what you wanted to happen, happened. This act of perseverance should be acknowledged and celebrated.

Celebrations feed the insides where internal motivation resides. Celebrations make you stop. That moment you stop to celebrate your success creates a moment of gratitude. Gratitude is that delightful gift that keeps on giving.

Celebrations are not required to be big, flashy or go on for days. In fact, it’s best if they are kept brief and to the point so they don’t hold you back.

The best time to beat a winner afterall is when they are celebrating.

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8 Things – The Lessons of October

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.” ~ Henry Ford

1 Thing That Will Sell You Out

Habits

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” ~ Martha Beck

Your character is the sum total of your habits. Daily, repetitious, unconscious habit. You can only pretend for so long before your habits come crashing through and reveal the real you.

2 Things That Will Change your Life

Reading

Elon Musk is building rockets today because he read a lot of books about rockets.

“You are what you read. The information that you input into your mind informs your thinking patterns, and it influences your output in the form of the decisions you make, the work you produce, and the interactions you have.” ~ Zat Rana

Repetition

Repetition is the path to mastery. It is and will always be King.

“Each time you repeat something, you notice something different. Each time you repeat something, there’s some piece — now stored in your long-term memory, instead of being frantically processed by your short-term memory — that just comes easier.” ~ David Kadavy

3 Things You Need to Rethink

Where Confidence Comes From

Old thinking  – Confidence is a product of success.

New thinking – Confidence is, in fact, a product of repetition … but not a product of success — it’s a product of failure. It’s knowing what the fall feels like and being familiar enough with it that you can be comfortable with the risk.” ~John Gorman 

Read more about that here.

Being the Best 

Old thinking – Focus on being the best.

New thinking – Focus on being the best at getting better.

When you focus on being the best and are, you feel happy. If you’re not careful too much of that happy feeling can make you complacent.

On the other hand, if you focus on being better and fail you feel sad. If you’re not careful too much of the sad feeling can make you depressed.

Read more about that here.

Failure 

Old thinking – Failure is falling down.

New thinking – Failure is staying down.

We don’t fail because we get knocked down but because we stay down. Failure is built into the process. If you’re not failing at something chances are you’re not challenging yourself hard enough.

2 Things You Can Stop Doing Today

Stop Seeking Perfection

The pursuit of perfection always takes and very rarely gives. It steals your joy and makes sure that achievement is always unattainable.

Elizabeth Lombardo in this article offers nine reasons why perfectionism is a bad thing.

… You are never done.

… You are stressed and discontent.

… You don’t take risks.

… Your creativity is suffocated.

… You strive to keep everyone happy.

… You’re highly critical of others.

… You can’t delegate.

… You personalize everything.

… You never rest.

Stop Waiting

Regret is a terrible thing. It crushes you from the inside out. Stop waiting. Act now.

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ~ Mark Victor Hansen

In the same breath, stop wishing, wanting and hoping. No amount of wishing, hoping or wanting is going to get you what you want. You either make it happen or it never happens.

Matt Cutts found out that 30 days is just about the right amount of time to add a new habit or subtract a habit.

Today can be your Day One. Today you get a new thirty days to change your life by adding something new that pushes you forward and takes away something old that was holding you back.

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We Can’t All Be Famous but We Can All Be Heroes

Today marks Mashujaa Day in Kenya. Mashujaa is Swahili for heroes. On this day we recognize those who fought for our independence and contribute to the forward progress of our nation.

All celebratory events should allow for a moment of reflection. Reflection distinguishes frivolous gaiety from honorable remembrance.

On any given day, we take in a staggering amount of detail through our five senses. If we had to process each detail as a unique event we would simply be overwhelmed and unable to act.

The ability of the mind to categorize makes us super-efficient. However, this efficiency can also make us myopic. It can make us overlook what truly matters. When it comes to heroism we overlook what truly makes a hero. The result of which is hero worship.

Why You Should Not Worship Your Heroes

The people we label as heroes and proceed to worship are but mere mortals. Fallible and imperfect in every sense of the word. They will let you down. Hero worship turns a blind eye to this.

Hero worship assigns a level of spiritual divinity that automatically excludes your membership. It designates a hallucinatory level of superiority. It creates a ‘them versus us’ mentality. There is no them. They are us. We are them.

Outside the requirement for action, there is no right way to be a hero. A hero does not fit any identifiable mold. They come in all shapes, sizes and skin tones. They come from all walks of life and are not confined to any specific age group.

There is only one distinction that unites them all. Courage. They all have built courage in varying amounts and have used it to act.

The Power of Courage

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”  ~ C.S. Lewis 

No man can adopt a virtue then live so cautiously so as not to have that virtue tested. That reality does not exist. Courage, therefore, is a requirement for living.

Courage inspires you to give up your life for something bigger than yourself and find the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

It prompts you, in spite of perceived weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, to voluntarily walk into the unknown.

With courage, you recognize that nothing is given to any man on earth. Struggle is built into the nature of life so no obstacle should prevent you from pursuing the values you have chosen.

4 Ways to Build Your Courage

“We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up … discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

No one is born with the requisite amount of courage required to accomplish their life’s tasks. Courage is a skill you build through exercising it. Like a muscle. The more you use the more it grows. If you stop using it, it atrophies.

1. Sometimes forget the big picture and look at things up close

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it said, Nelson Mandela. To build your courage it is, therefore, necessary to sometimes forget the big picture and look at that which you fear up close.

Put it in perspective. Your perception of an obstacle or event you fear matters more than the obstacle or event itself. What you tell yourself about the obstacle or event in your path either builds your courage or acts like a stumbling block.

2. Learn to Bend

You are in control. You are not in control of everything. Things will not always go your way or according to plan.

You have to learn to bend so that when that happens you don’t break. That bending is known as resilience or the bounce-back-ability.

3. Make Tough Calls

In life, one is either existing within their comfort zone or they are not. To exist in your comfort zone takes no effort. No effort means no courage gets built. No courage means no growth.

We are all seeking magic. Magic does not happen in the comfort zone. To get out of one’s comfort zone requires you to make tough calls.

To make tough calls requires you to get crystal clear on what is valuable. Make allowance for only those things and then discard all else.

4. Experiment More

Fear of the unknown kills all courageous hero potential. While the future cannot be predicted, it can be invented. Through experimentation.

As you experiment you must allow for failure. Failure is not fatal. It is part of the process. There’s no way that you can live an adequate life without making mistakes along the way. Stick with it though and you’ll have more checks in the win column.

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7 Reminders From Mother Nature About Living A Better Life

“If we are willing to be still and open enough to listen, wilderness itself will teach us.” ~ Steven Harper

Saturday mornings are for power yoga. This past Saturday’s session was held outdoors. It was an unexpected treat. Mother Nature set the backdrop for the best yoga workout to date. I am unsure of how to return to doing yoga indoors after this.

I am tempted to say that Mother Nature was preening like a peacock. Taking our breath away with each pose we struck. I know otherwise. This is her everyday presentation.

All over the world, for the last few months or so, mother nature has reminded us just who is in charge. As vicious as those lessons have been, Mother Nature is one of life’s greatest teachers.

Following are seven reminders I got from Mother Nature about living a better life.

1. Don’t be afraid to mix it up or be different.

“No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety.” ~ Publilius Syrus

At last count, (sometime around 2011), it was concluded that the world is home to 8.7 million species. Nature confirms that it takes all sorts to make this big beautiful world come alive. Variety vitalizes life. It is indeed the spice of life.

Let this remind you not to force yourself to fit into a preset mold of imagery or ideology. Try different things and try and do things differently. Always allow for the opposite of the desired experience. For the negative version of anything teaches you how to appreciate and value its opposite preferred occurrence.

The world needs you in all your varietal splendor. As Jim Rohn said, We need a variety of input and influence and voices. You cannot get all the answers to life and business from one person or from one source.”

2. The start does not indicate the finish.

“Rough or small starts do not disqualify great finishes.”

A mustard seed is usually about 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter. However, it can grow to an average height of between 6 and 20 feet with a 20-foot spread. Under ideal conditions, it can grow to a height of 30 feet tall.

A powerful reminder that how you start does not indicate how and where you will finish. Don’t undervalue your start. Many do not have the courage to even begin. Never compare it to others either.

Start small. Start messy. Start with doubt and start with fear. Start with whatever you have, with whatever you know and wherever you’re at.

Whatever your start may look like, never forget that consistent progressive effort turns amateurs into professionals.

3. Anything worthwhile takes time.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

All the wonderful creations you see in nature share one characteristic. They did not get that way overnight. What takes your breath away as you observe them took time to develop. For success, therefore, patience is par for the course.

Patience is not about waiting but how you wait. Nothing in nature is ever lying continually dormant as it waits to become whatever is next in line. Seen or unseen there are activities going on.

Learn to appreciate the present while allowing the future to unfold. If you are waiting and bitching about why you are waiting, that is not patience.

Work while you wait. Work on yourself and work with others. Work on easy things and challenging things. Work on things that scare you and things that make you laugh. Work until your tired then rest and get back to work. Work and work hard for hard work works.

4. Life is not without warning signs.

“The universe speaks through events, y’all!” ~ Dove Cameron

Nature is full of warning signs of impending danger. Birds stop chirping and lakes become still and their surfaces get as smooth as glass before a storm. Bees disappear before it rains. Ladybugs huddle together before a heat wave and dogs howl and bark uncharacteristically before an earthquake.

The same goes for life. Life does not get better or off the rails without notice. There is always a sign. The higher your level of mindfulness, the greater the chance you will not be caught unaware.

Build mindfulness by staying connected to the present. Not trying to relieve the past or hasten the arrival of the future. Mindfulness alerts you to the moment when disruption is attempting to enter your life.

Forewarned is forearmed.

5. After a storm, life always blooms again

“After the rain there’s a rainbow, after a storm, there’s calm, after the night there’s a morning, and after an ending, there’s a new beginning.” ~ Unknown

After a storm passes, birds resume their chirping. Ripples return to the lake’s surface.  Bees return to pollinating and ladybugs break free from their huddles. Petals and leaves that got blown begin to grow anew.  The storm is but a temporary pause.

This is a reminder that bad moments only last if you hold on to them and refuse to let them pass. This is not the intent of life. Life is in constant motion. Let the good come and go. Let the bad come and go. Learn from each without laying claim to either for you control neither.

6. Better living requires flexibility and adaptability.

“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.” ~ Yann Martel

Nature’s flexibility and adaptability are unrivaled. Take the daffodil for instance. Its flowers typically droop to the side. However, in the midst of a strong wind, daffodils twist. They are aware of their fragility so they turn so that the back of their petals face into the wind. Twisting allows them to assume a position of strength.

Flexibility and adaptability are strengths. They allow one to bend as opposed to breaking. With them, you carry less baggage. You move with ease through change and are therefore able to build a life of contentment.

7. Help can come from unlikely places.

“I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences.”  ~John Denver

Egrets pick harmful insects off the backs of water buffalos, horses, and cows. Since they are more sensitive to predators, hunters or other signs of danger, they also act as a warning signal.

Plover birds are the crocodile’s dentist. Crocodiles fight their natural instincts to bite down and eat them and allow them to pick off food stuck between their teeth. Meat ants protect butterflies from their shared predators. Honeyguide birds show honey badgers where to find honey. The list goes on and on.

The design of life was is not one where the journey is to be undertaken alone. Egrets and water buffalos are nothing alike. Neither are plover birds and crocodiles. Yet, they help each other out.

Expect the unexpected for it too can bring the greatest of gifts.

Make time for Mother Nature for she has much to share. Schedule time to interact with her as much you can. She has the power to heal your mind. To make you stronger from the inside out. There is nothing stronger than a strong mind. With it, you can conquer the whole world.

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26 Lessons to Learn that Your Life Will Thank You For

1. You were created for a purpose Your purpose in life is unique. However, there is a purpose that we all share. That purpose is TRUTH. Act in it. Speak with it. Live in it. Create with it.

2. The best way to discover your purpose is to pay attention. One’s purpose is not created, it’s discovered. The things that move you or capture your attention are not random or accidental. As Rumi said, “Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”

3. Identify a place for everything you own. Every time you take something out and use it, put it back. You’ll lose fewer things and have less to tidy up. Your time is too valuable to spend it searching for lost items or constantly tidying up.

4. If you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or older and you see articles with titles such as “What your 20s or 30s are really for” or anything like it. Read them. If an activity catches your eye, do it. Age is a man-made construct. Never let it define you.

5.  Socrates said, “Contentment is natural wealth.” Contentment has more staying power than happiness. It is also the gift that keeps on giving. Learn how to build it.

6. Perfection is not a sign of success. Success is about finding something to improve on.

7. Your mind is the creator of all things. Good things and not so good things. To change your life you have to change your mind. Train your mind and the rest will follow.

8. When presented with the choice of an easy task or a challenging task, always choose the challenging task. Challenges build strength and character. Strength and character prepare you for life which is undoubtedly simple but definitely not easy.

9. Beware of who you pretend to be. Your character, when you least expect it, will always out you. As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “No man, for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

10. Free and On sale should never be how you determine what you need. How an item adds value to your life is a better starting point.

11. Yes, money is important. However, true wealth is a mental construct. If you think you have it, you do. If you don’t think you do, you don’t. So, learn to save it for when you need it but don’t let it compromise you. Your integrity will always be more valuable. Let the Joneses be damned.

12. There is a high probability that your job is not trying to kill you. For “It’s not what a man does during working hours, but after them, that breaks down his health.” ~Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to his Son

13. Your body and your mind will always take wherever you want to go. Learn how to keep both in optimal condition.

14. Talent, eloquence, attractiveness, silver spoons, preferred locations, and all other perceived advantages can all be outworked.

15. The little things you do every day will always trump the big things you do once in a while.

16. Accountability is about honoring your commitments. Never make a commitment you cannot keep. No matter how small. Once you start, you’ll be unable to stop.

17. At birth, you get the gift of life. The gift of living on the other thought is entirely up to you. In the pursuit of living, your biggest enemy will always be your own self-doubt.

18. Each and every one of us has something that excites us. However, endurance is rare. Become that rare individual who knows how to endure.

19. The more you have, the more you have to manage. Eventually, the scale will tip. It will not do so in your favor. If you’re struggling with minimalism or are battling clutter remember. “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” ~ Marie Kondō

20. Always have a hunger for learning. Self-improvement is the only way to guarantee that the future will be better.

21. Accountability improves performance. Always have at least one person in your life whom you respect and who holds you accountable to your goals.

22. Don’t think about your legacy in terms of what your obituary will read. Think about it as the feeling you leave behind every time you walk away from someone.

23. If you want to achieve big goals, build a schedule then work the schedule. Schedules create repetition. Repetition creates habits. Habits accomplish goals.

24. Feelings create emotions. Emotions communicate meaning and intent. However, feelings are not facts. If you are struggling to communicate, it is your feelings and not your emotions that you should seek to understand.

25. Don’t be cheap about the things you use the most. What you use constantly is exposed to greater wear and tear. If you have to keep replacing it then you end up spending more than you would have if you had bought a quality item, to begin with. You will realize in the end, that cheap is expensive.

26. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot be both silent and engaged. There will always come a time when you have to speak up for something or someone you say you believe in.

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How to Ruin your Chance of Success

“A life lived of choice is a life of conscious action. A life lived of chance is a life of unconscious creation.” – Neale Donald Walsch

My body sent out the first violent distress signal at 3 am. It continued to do so every hour on the hour. Fiercely and persistently in search of self-healing. Three hours in, close to passing out, I sent out an S.O.S. It has taken me about three weeks to return to near optimal form.

The Definition of Success

The definition of success is as varied as the goals we are attempting to achieve. However, one thing all successful people do agree on is that success requires energy and the ability to persist and endure. Therefore, no matter how you define success, good health must be part of the definition.

Those who ignore their health, discount it, abuse it or are unappreciative of it in any way always pay the price. ALWAYS. They spend more money than they should on conditions that can be avoided. They struggle more than is necessary. They achieve less than they are capable of. They also die younger than they should.

Life: Less Like a Box of Chocolate more Like A Boomerang

The challenges I have set out for myself exceed my current ability. This is no accident. What does not challenge you does not change you. Your brain is geared towards keeping you safe. However, it also has the capacity to rise to any challenge you give it. That is if you don’t let fear stop you first.

Life is not a sequence of random events. Life is the consequence of behavior. My approach to life, therefore, is one of active consciousness. The 3 am wake-up call did not catch me completely off guard. I had not reached into a random box of chocolates unsure of what I would find.I had unleashed a boomerang. I knew exactly what I ate that caused my body to react as it did. More importantly, I knew why.

You Are in Charge

There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way unless you’re waiting for an organ. ~ Anne Lamott

The design of life is such that what can be imagined can be achieved. You must, however, take charge. Stop thinking that you are reaching blindly into a box of chocolates hoping your fingers curl around your favorite cacao inspired confection. Fudge or salted caramel in my case.

Every single person. At any given time. Regardless of current talent, skill or wealth has within them the power to change the current trajectory of their life. For everything is created from within. What you put out you get back. With you as the initiator, what goes around always comes back around.

Each action you act out. Each habit you build. Each thought you possess. They all contain seeds of guaranteed potential. From the four-letter cuss words you utter when someone cuts you off in traffic to the consistent effort of a six-day workout schedule. They are all acts of creation. They create a physical, mental or emotional change within that will have a desired or undesired impact on your life.

Life is Simple, Not Easy

Full disclosure. Living with active consciousness is not easy. It requires that you live in truth. Truth, as we all know, is needed but not always wanted. Even though it is the very best way to live.

Society has even gone so far as to celebrate the inauthentic representations of its citizens. This makes the pursuit of active consciousness tougher. Tougher but not impossible.

What I am Not Telling You to Do

I am not telling you to start running or go walking every day. Although you can. I am not telling you to go vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian or alter your diet. Although you can. I am not telling you to start getting more sleep. Although you can. I am not telling to spend less time with people who suck your soul dry. Although you can. I am not telling you to stop living your life as you see fit.

I am simply stating that poor health will ruin your chance of success. Health is not just about diet, nutrition, and exercise. It is about one’s total lifestyle.

Become more actively conscious of what you eat, why you eat and how you live your life. Not for me or anyone else but for the success you are working on.

You are in charge. You are the boss of you. You do have a choice.

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Choose to be All or Choose to be Less

“Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all or you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do?” ~ Jim Rohn

A grocery store had two jam sampling stations set up. One station had twenty-four varieties. The other had only six. The purpose of this experiment was to observe how the brain handles choice. They monitored two activities.

  1. The number of visitors to each station.
  2. The number of sales at each station.

Professor Sheena Iyengar conducted the experiment. The study found:

  1. The station with twenty-four varieties had the most visitors. (60% vs. 40%)
  2. The station with only six options had the most sales. (30% vs. 3%)

The conclusion. Multiple choices are appealing in theory. They distract in reality.

Cognitive Limit

Your mind is a powerful tool. However, it has its limitations. With choice, the limit is five research says.

Fear sets in when the brain has more than five items to choose from. You’re afraid to make the wrong choice. The result. Either you make no choice at all or keep searching for a perfect choice.

The station with only six choices of jam presented less risk. The testers arrived at the buy/no buy decision quicker.

Twenty-four options were more attractive. However, the potential of making a wrong choice drove the testers to opt out of choosing altogether or spend more time trying to find a perfect palate match.

Lifestyle Impact

Abundance surrounds us. Choice has become a right.

We buy to have a choice more than to satisfy a need. We add people and things to our lives not to have the right things but to revel in the possibilities of what they present.

Variety is the spice of life. However, more choice does not equal better outcomes. Furthermore, what we ‘gain’ through choice we lose in time.

Time

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” ~ Lee Iacocca

We access time via a fixed daily measure. No one gets more. No one gets less. However,  when you compare the lives of two people born on the exact same day and at the exact same time, you’ll notice that the list of achievements will always vary.  The one who did more learned how to make more time.

Making more time involves discipline. Discipline is not present at birth. You build it. One surefire way to build discipline is to eliminate or minimize choice.

Planning Vs. Doing

In life, you are either doing something or thinking about doing something.

Thinking precedes all action. Effective thinking allows for immediate instead of delayed action. Efficient thinking saves time, focus and energy. The life you desire requires all three in high doses. Choice leads to distraction. You will accomplish more if you learn to limit your distractions.

Take a look at your life. Make a list of the choices you make. Group them into two categories. “Choose to be all choices.” “Choose to be less choices.” Learn to eliminate the “choose to be less choices.”

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What Albert Einstein can Teach us About The Power of Imperfect Moments

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” ~Proverb

Annus mirabilis is a Latin phrase that means wonderful, miraculous or amazing year. Scientists refer to 1905 as Albert Einstein’s annus mirabilis. This was the year that Einstein published four scientific papers that would go on to set the stage for modern physics by documenting findings that would greatly influence the understanding of time, space, mass and energy. It also the year that Einstein obtained his doctorate after submitting his thesis.

The default thinking when one hears of such an accomplishment is that the individual found their perfect window of time and opportunity within which to work. In addition, they must have been working in collaboration with like-minded peers. For some, this might be true. For many, it is never the case. For Einstein, it certainly was not.

Einstein always wanted to be a teacher of the sciences. However, as a result of not fitting into the mold of a preferred student, he found himself struggling to find the type of work he wanted after he graduated.

Jeff Bezos said that “Complaining isn’t a strategy. You have to work with the world as you find it, not as you would have it be.” That is exactly what Einstein did. When landing his dream job proved unsuccessful, he worked with what the world was offering.

He allowed for what outwardly appeared to be an imperfect moment. He took a job as a patent examiner. His days were spent reviewing patent applications, executing art searches and advising applicants on whether their inventions would receive a patent. The job called for an eight-hour day and a six-day work week.

His job was unquestionably imperfect when you line it up against a job he would rather be doing – teaching science. However, he did not let that fact deter him. He had identified his purpose and he was determined to stay true to it all while honoring the demands of his current job.

Einstein found his way to academia eventually. When the accolades for his work started pouring in and he was awarded the Nobel prize, it was not for the work he was currently involved in, but for the work he produced in his annus mirabilis.

2 Great Lessons from Einstein’s time as a Patent Examiner

1. If it is important to you, you must find the time to make sure it gets done.

“It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.” ~ Unknown

In a biography written by his son-in-law, Rudolf Kayser, it is said, with regards to Einstein finding the time to work on his thesis and the four papers that,“ he soon discovered that he could find time to devote to his own scientific studies if he did his work in less time.” 

What is your purpose? What do you want to achieve in and with your life? Once you figure what it is, you must go in search of the time to make your purpose come to life. You should never allow waiting to become a habit.

2. Great people always do good work regardless of what the work is.

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Even though he aimed to do his work in less time, Einstein did not half-ass it. He applied the same level of commitment and excellence to it as he would have to his scientific pursuits.

As a result, he excelled as a patent officer and not only got promoted but when he submitted his resignation, his boss indicated that his departure was a great loss to the patent office.

The job you hate. The imperfect moment that you find yourself in is teaching you something. The lesson could be as simple as patience or a work ethic or as challenging as time management, resilience or persistence.

Doing poor work is a waste of your time. Not only does poor work consume time in the execution of the tasks that it requires but it also steals creative energies. All work is worth doing well if only to allow for time to do even better work.

That ‘imperfect’ job you currently have is allowing you to take care of what would undoubtedly cause you stress. Things like paying your electricity and water bills. Feeding you and your family if you have one. Paying for lessons to gain skills that would make you better at what you ultimately want to do.

You may argue that Einstein was lucky but what is luck? Is it not simply an engineered construct of preparation meeting opportunity?

Are you waiting for the perfect moment? The perfect job to produce your best work? You have only one life. Life doesn’t wait and perfection always comes at a cost. Are you sure you can afford it?

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How Tim Ferriss Learnt to Tackle His Fears

“Typically, people don’t overcome their fears because the fears are nebulous and undefined.” ~ Tim Ferriss

Your mind is your greatest asset. Tom Ferriss’s mind has gone toe to toe with bipolar depression. Bipolar depression causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. Having been to the center of darkness enough times to threaten his future, he chose to find a way to manage the extreme ups and downs.

For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. Until death do we part, fear will forever be along for the ride. From the uber successful to those just starting out, there is no one, not a single human being, for whom fear has not manifested in one form or another.

Fear has its purpose. A purpose as old as the ages. That purpose is survival. Fear is why we exist today. Without a healthy dose of fear, our ancestors would have adopted all the carnivorous animals as pets and ended up as pet food. They would have eaten the poisonous berries because they were just too pretty to resist and hugged each and every person carrying a deathly contagious disease because to be human is to be socially inclined. Fear is part of our genetic inheritance.

What fear we don’t get from our genetics, we get from conditioning. Conditioning is why two people can have two extremely opposing views of the same experience.

Fear conditioning is a form of classical conditioning, the type of associative learning pioneered by Ivan Pavlov in the 1920s. It involves the repeated pairing of a non-threatening stimulus such as a light, called the conditioned stimulus, with a noxious stimulus such as a mild shock, called the unconditioned stimulus, until the animal shows a fear response not just to the shock but to the light alone, called a conditioned response.

Fear itself is not the enemy says, Seth Godin. Paralysis is. It is the paralytic effect of fear and the conditioned response to stressful events in one’s life that Tim Ferriss’s approach seeks to conquer.

Ferriss’s journey led him to Stoicism where the teachings of Seneca caught his attention. It started with the quote “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” The quote led him to Seneca’s letters where he learned of the practice of “premeditatio malorum.” The premeditation of evils. The exercise involved detailed visualization of worst-case scenarios with the aim of taking action to overcome fear-induced paralysis.

Fear-setting, a simple yet powerful three-paged exercise was born of this journey.

Fear-Setting

Page 1 — What if I …?

The first page of the fear-setting exercise is titled What if I …? and is divided into three columns. Define, Prevent, Repair.

Define — List whatever you fear, whatever is causing you anxiety/tension, whatever you’re putting off/resisting.

Prevent — List what you could do to prevent or decrease the likelihood each of the fears you defined from happening.

Repair — List what you can do or who you can ask for assistance should the fears you defined actually come to life.

When working on this page, Ferriss reminds us to keep an important fact in mind. Our fears are not unique. Someone somewhere has experienced them and figured out how to prevent them and or repair them. If they can, so can you. Should you get stuck, seek them out for inspiration.

Page 2 — The Benefits of an Attempt or a Partial Success

The second page of the fear-setting exercise channels the power of positive thinking by reframing the fear.

I have written before on the brain’s bias for negativity which makes us more comfortable talking about all the bad things that could go wrong as a result of our actions. Fear-setting looks at the other side of the coin. The benefits of trying and of achieving a partial success.

Page 3 — The Cost of Inaction

The third and last page of the fear-setting exercise looks at the cost of doing nothing. Of maintaining the status quo.

On this page, you will list what all the ways, emotionally, financially, physically, mentally, spiritually, in a span of six months, 12 months, three years, what the price of staying as is would cost you.

When it comes to overcoming fear, exposure works better than avoidance. You can’t, however, expose yourself with any degree of success to something which you cannot clearly define. Fear-setting is an exercise in defining fear at its true source. The mind. Of identifying and breaking the invisible barriers of fears that are more yelp than bark or bite.

“You actually do live a fuller life when you face your fear,” says Dr. Srini Pillay, a Harvard psychiatrist. Ferriss says “I can trace all of my biggest wins and all of my biggest disasters averted back to doing fear-setting at least once a quarter.”

Become the person you’ve always dreamed about in your bold and wild mind. Use Ferriss’s fear-setting exercise to train your mind to act more courageously in everyday life. Not to eliminate fear in the hopes of becoming fearless but with the goal of fearing less and boldly acting when you should act.

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