You Cannot Fake The Truth
Amidst all of the liars and cheaters and hypocrites in the world, there is one universal law - You cannot fake the truth. Sure, you could be convincing in telling an alternate story, and it’s very possible that other people will believe you, but sharing anything but the truth has consequences that will come back in one form or another.
The reason being, you know what the truth is. You can lead someone else to genuinely believe anything, but you can’t persuade yourself to do the same. And that disconnect puts off an energy that influences your environment and brings more of it back into your life, you start experiencing indirect repercussions. Some people call it "karma", some people call it “getting what you deserve”, but I don’t think this phenomenon deserves a positive or negative label. It’s a “just is” of the world.
And you probably already knew this. You were probably told from a young age to always tell the truth, and you have to appreciate the wisdom in that. It’s an important lesson that has been passed down so that we know how to properly relate with this universal law.
The caveat is, sometimes there’s a good reason not to tell the truth. Call it a white lie. Your partner feels insecure about something so you say something that makes them feel better about it. Your boss asks about progress at work and you tell him or her that you’ve already got it done when maybe you have it on the list to do today. While these are small non-truthful statements, remember it’s about the energy associated with them. And that energy resides in your intentions - What was your reason for saying it, and how can you deliver and affirm that reason.
The truth is exactly as it is, you can’t make it up or fake it, and you’re always held accountable to it.
Waiting For "Things To Cool Down"
Things just keep seeming to get busier and busier don’t they? Sometimes it comes in waves, but I think a lot of the time it’s just our new reality. How many times have you heard someone say, “Sounds great! I just need to wait for things to cool down.” You might have even said it yourself, only to find that a week passes and a whole new list of things have been added to your plate.
Is that the perpetual cycle that we want to be our existence? I understand the value of being busy, trust me, but when this stuff comes up at the expense of the things you want to do, it’s a little harder to comprehend and it’s not going to resolve itself.
Even look at the phrase “Waiting for things to cool down.” I think we know by know what happens when we wait for things to get done. They don’t. So if we truly want to free up more time, to do more of the things we want to do, we need to take a proactive approach. I’ve recently implemented a few of these things into my life that I wanted to share.
First thing you need to do is become aware of how you’re spending your time. I wrote out my responsibilities and the time required to fulfill them, and am committed to tracking my behavior for the next month to gain more awareness. Then, and I haven’t gotten to this part yet, make a plan to take action based on what you learn. What things are your pouring time into unnecessarily? What priority is being neglected? That will give you the insight you need to change something so that things start going differently.
To me, that’s how things can actually cool down for you, it’s not waiting for things to happen, it’s taking ownership of your time and getting more intentional about how you spend it.
Be Creative Before You're Reactive
Our days start when we open our eyes. Some people have morning routines, some people Zombie walk to the bathroom, and some people hit the "Snooze" button. That first decision really does set the tone for your day, and it’s important to get it right. Regardless, when you do get up and start your day, there are a few really unique opportunities you can take advantage of.
One of those opportunities is the idea of being creative before you’re reactive. Once you check your email, check social media, or check your messages you immediately start answering to other people’s lives and no longer can completely live your own. You’re reminded you need to update your car registration, you hear some good news from a friend and you want to chat with them about it, your work makes a few requests of you... While all of those things need to be addressed in their own time, the second you’re exposed to them it shifts your mind and you start becoming reactive to their presence.
However, there is a lot of value to being creative every single day, and that ability is diluted when you start answering to other people. You can cut that out by silencing the inputs. Put your phone on silent, and don’t scroll through social media until you’ve taken the time to live in your own world and bring your own ideas to fruition. Without the external stimulation, during exercise you might start brainstorming ideas you can use later to improve the quality of your work. Or since you didn’t see that stress-inducing email, you can sit deeper into a personal meditation routine and align with your values.
Creativity takes so many forms, and unfortunately we're pulled out of it so often by the pings, dings, and rings of life. Give yourself some time away from that, and make sure you have the opportunity to be creative before you become reactive.
"Kill them with kindness."
The quote "Kill them with kindness" is funny because it’s such an oxymoron. The words “Kill” and “Kindness” don’t seem to belong in the same sentence, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it from a broader context.
When we’re referencing the idea of “killing” in this quote, we’re not talking about taking a life. We’re talking about killing their argument, killing their vibe, or killing their accusations. This expression is usually used when someone has wronged you in some way, or they’re coming at you about something. When you choose to respond with kindness you’ll find that kindness is effective in deflecting the situation and often leads to a positive resolution.
A perfect example of this is if someone is upset and challenging you, or disagreeing with something you did - Tell them "thank you". “Thanks for bringing this to my attention.” What can they do in response to that? They can’t keep digging into you because now it’s out of place. You’ve changed the nature of the situation.
Or if there's someone who just doesn’t like you, or you don’t get along well with them, when you come across that person they might try to instigate confrontation or conflict. But don’t stoop to their level, treat them with kindness and respect, and they won’t know what to do because they were so prepared to battle you.
That’s the more appropriate meaning of the phrase. Be pleasant, mitigate conflict, have empathy, and "Kill them with kindness." That’s the real way to win.
Inspiration and Desperation
There are two incredible motivating forces in life - Inspiration and desperation. They both have the ability to grab hold of you and get you to do whatever it is you need to get done. While the end result may be similar, which is pursuit of a better life, the means by which you pursue the end result are very different.
With inspiration, you’re connected to your future through purpose. You experience positive qualities like enthusiasm, ambition, and creative imagination. You are called to act because it’s in service of yourself and the world as you see it, giving you a way to improve your skills or actualize your potential around something that you’ve deemed worthy. That’s what inspiration is to me. You see a future that you’re attracted to because you and others would be better off because of it.
Desperation comes from the other side of the spectrum. You get it done because you need to, because there’s no other acceptable alternative. It often arises at times when you’re struggling. For your own safety or sanity, you're motivated to act in order to find your way out. It is exhausting to live desperately, and it causes you to be more willing to look past the ways you usually do things, sometimes even compromising your own ethics and integrity in order to do so.
While I haven’t truly experienced it for myself, I think desperation is a stronger motivator. Inspiration is more affirmational, and nice to have. Desperation is stressful and anxiety provoking, rooted in reality and a must have.
I bring up this topic because I think there’s a lot to be learned from knowing the sources of our motivation, and if you need to get something done, now you’re more prepared to tap into these motivational energies.
100% Is Way Better Than 98%
This is one of the most important topics in self-improvement approached in a slightly different way. When it comes to creating positive change in your life or the world, the most important factor is always consistency. But it’s not good enough to be consistent most of the time, you need to be consistent all of the time. Committing to doing something 98% of the time is incredible, but that extra 2% to get to 100% is disproportionately valuable not only from the results you can generate, but from the effort required to do it as well.
First let me bring in an example from a book I just finished, “How Will You Measure Your Life” by Clayton Christensen. He talked about the idea of making exceptions, and if you allow yourself to make a concession once it opens the door to making more excuses in the future. This means that you need to use a lot of energy to stay disciplined because you’ve established that “not doing it” is an option.
And then let’s also reflect on David Meltzer’s rule of Zeroing Out. Consistent behaviors compound on top of each other, allowing the same input to produce a larger output over time. But when you miss a day it’s like you throw a zero in that compounding equation and you have to start all the way back at the beginning again.
The way that I handle this, because of course there will be a day that you forget to do that thing, you need to affirm the original intention, and find a way to make up for the error. This allows you to bypass the “Zeroing Out” effect and justify that you didn’t make an excuse because you found a way to make yourself even again.
I know, doing something 100% of the time sounds difficult. But compared to 98% it is much more effective, and ultimately a lot easier.
Stop Going Through The Motions
Do you feel like there’s anything you’re doing in life where you’re just doing it to "check the box"? You know it’s a priority of yours, but maybe you’re not maximizing the benefit from actually doing it. Another way to phrase it is that you’re “going through the motions”.
I’m totally guilty of this. There was a time when I’d close my eyes and sit in my chair for 10 minutes and tell myself I was meditating. Or during a workout, would show up to the gym and hardly exercise, just there to be there and not really making the most of it. While I am a fan of doing the mental reps and prioritizing consistency, I also think not applying yourself in these moments is a partial waste of time. For that reason, I’m encouraging you to stop going through the motions.
You know what it is for you, that thing where you show up and you don’t feel like your heart is really in it. Let’s fix that. First, remember your reason for doing it and tap into that deeply rooted motivation. You’re doing this thing for a reason, how is it meant to serve you? Then once you’re inspired, think about how you could challenge yourself in that area. A challenge brings your attention to the task in front of you and helps you to be more mindful of the activity.
For me, I remembered that meditation helps me think creatively and manifest my future, so I challenged myself to start visualizing my affirmations. Now I no longer feel like I’m going through the motions with my meditation routine. My meditation is serving me exactly how I want it to! And if you want to receive the true benefit of whatever activity you’ve committed to, then don’t let yourself play at half speed and change it up.
This topic is a bit more advanced and is meant for someone who is pursuing greatness. When it comes to being the very best at something the margins are thin. Someone with a little more talent, know-how, or execution may beat another person out by the smallest of amounts. While the difference is small, it’s a very important amount because that narrow gap has major implications.
For example, in “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy this difference is evident. An example Darren uses relates to golf, and how the #1 in the world who plays only 2.7% better on average than the 10th in the world earns 5x as much money in tournament payouts. The #1 is only slightly better, but receives a much different financial outcome.
With that in mind, one of the differentiators at the top is an ability to move fast, which brings us back to today’s topic - Don’t flinch. When you flinch, you hesitate for the briefest of moments. You reflexively react in the smallest of ways in preparation of protecting yourself. However, in those moments where you lose concentration, your competitor is taking one more step forward, leaving you one step behind.
When I think of not flinching I think of a few things. The first being mindfulness, and not getting too emotionally wrapped up in what’s going on around you. The second is concentration, being so good at staying on task that little disruptions don’t knock you down. And last is preparation. Having thought through various situations in advance so that you know the proper response and can act on it before too much time has passed.
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
Let's turn to one of the utmost experts in motivation, performance, and living a life based on values -John Wooden. Coach Wooden is known for many inspirational quotes, one of the most prominent being “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
This quote demonstrates how our results are in our control. Our life, our destiny, our success, is most predicated on our decision to make it so. We are the creator of our future and the beneficiary of our own efforts. We all know that one person who just continues to have bad things come their way, where one unfortunate thing is layered on with another and another. That’s someone choosing to make the worst of a bad situation.
Instead of looking at the circumstance, I try to look at how they might be responsible for what’s happening in the most indirect of ways, and how they may be attracting those things into their life. This is the person that finds the sliver lining in everything. The person who has faith and respect for the way life is happening for them. They put off an energy that attracts good things into their life, and ultimately that’s how this all works.
But let’s go back to the quote and dissect it a bit - How do we "make the best of the way things turn out"? We control our energy through our perspective. We choose to see life’s circumstances as the best thing that could have ever happened to us. And we perpetually wear a lens that adjusts reality to appear more constructive and optimistic. It’s crazy but it’s true, on a weird metaphysical level all of these things are connected and your future truly is shaped by your present. So if you want the future to be bright, make the present bright, and you’ll see first hand how "things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out".
Sharpen the Axe
We can work as hard as we want to make progress on something, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to produce anything meaningful. It's not enough to work hard, you also need to be working specifically in the right way so that your hard work is actually effective. This probably isn’t new to you, you’ve heard the expression “Work smarter, not harder” before, but I want to make this a bit more tangible by sharing an additional quote by Abraham Lincoln - “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
If your task is to cut down a tree, you could put a bunch of effort into swinging a dull axe that hardly makes any progress. Sure, you’ll get more swings in, but when it comes to cutting the tree down your effort yields minimal results. If you invest the time instead in being more efficient, helping your tools and effort to be more effective, then you’re more likely to cut the tree down but with less physical work.
It’s a great concept, but then that leads to the next question - How do you sharpen the saw? You invest in building systems. You take an extra 20 minutes to write out your protocol so that you can duplicate the activity exactly how you need it to be done. You prepare your environment in a way that’s conducive to the behaviors you want to do. You’re clear on the task, why the task matters, and why other things should be avoided so you can stay focused. That’s sharpening the axe. That’s fitting more than 6 hours worth of time into two hours. And it’s all possible because you’ve taken time to prepare and optimize.
Let's talk about getting a win in your day. We all enjoy picking up big and small wins, it helps us feel validated and that we’re doing the right things to make progress. It’s really important from a motivational standpoint, but it might be a bit misunderstood. Your daily wins don’t need to be closing the deal or getting that intro, they can be much smaller. But even beyond that, it’s not only about the size of the task completed, it’s also the timing of it.
For that reason, I wanted to share something that I learned in the Optimize App - The word “win” can actually be interpreted as an acronym that stands for “What’s Important Now”. W.I.N.
Why does that matter? Well, it allows you to critically filter through what’s on your mind and focus on the specific thing in front of you that is most urgent and most necessary. It can be anything from prioritizing your morning routine over checking your phone, writing out your list of things to do for the day, or catching up with that friend who needs to hear from you.
When you think of a productive day you don’t always think of those things, but the truth is that your days are made up of moments, and when you do “What’s Important Now”, you do the right things at the right time that feed into an overall productive day.
How To Be More Courageous
Do you want to be more courageous? I mean, who doesn’t! Across the board courage is perceived to be a positive trait. It’s associated with other characteristics like confidence, will power, and discipline. But I think it's slightly misunderstood, and that’s because there is an assumption to courage that must be addressed to truly understand it.
The scientific definition of courage is “taking action in the presence of fear”. It’s simply put, but not easily done. It’s not only about feeling a certain way and doing something about it, but specifically feeling afraid. But that’s the opportunity for growth! In fear we feel discomfort, and by stepping out of our comfort zone we give ourselves opportunity to grow.
To walk slower through this… If courage is the end result, or the outcome, what is the input? The input is being in a position where you’re afraid and giving yourself a strong reason to take action while feeling that way. So from the very beginning you cannot be more courageous unless you actively choose to put yourself in situations that scare you, allowing you to prove your courage by taking action.
Now that’s all great in theory but what does that look like in practice? Well, when you experience fear or discomfort, your brain starts taking shortcuts trying to protect yourself and even remove you from that situation. You’re not as clear-minded as you’d like to be, and that’s why your reason for taking action is extremely important. You can strengthen that reason by having accountability, creating necessity, and connecting with the ways that being courageous in these moments will serve you. That way, when you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, you’re more motivated to take action in them, to expose yourself to uncertainty, failure, or criticism, and ultimately allow yourself to be more courageous.
So yes, you absolutely can and should be more courageous, but understand that courage requires you taking action in the presence of fear. So get ready!
"No one is perfect. That's why pencils have erasers."
Let's dive into this though-provoking quote. “No one is perfect. That’s why pencils have erasers.” I love that, and I think it uses such a relatable example. For someone to have never made a mistake in their lie, that means they’ve never had to use an eraser. They never used the wrong word. They never wrote a little too sloppy and had to clean it up. They never read a sentence back to themselves, didn’t like it, and wrote it again.
The perfect person does not exist. Everyone has used an eraser, everyone makes mistakes, and no one is perfect.
If imperfection really is something we all share, then it should take some pressure off. We don’t need to hold ourselves to an expectation that isn’t attainable by anyone. In acknowledging this it opens us up to being more okay to experiment and try.
Relating this thought more specifically back to positivity, this means we can see the world through not so critical of a lens. When things aren’t where they need to be, we can understand why and appreciate the attempt. We can celebrate the process of imperfection instead of hiding behind the ideal of how things could be. There is no exception to this reality as human beings. We can start to cultivate a collective identity around the trial and error process that moves us forward, but also see each other for who we are. That’s because, in everyone I’ve met and everyone I’ll ever meet, no one is perfect.
Progressing Toward Impact
When we talk about making an impact, in your community, in your own life, or in business we need to recognize that it’s not something that happens all at once. In fact there’s a pretty reliable process that helps to unwrap the topic pretty nicely that I want to share with you, and it goes as follows: Certainty -> leads to Influence -> Leads to impact.
Let’s start at the very beginning with certainty, which is the hardest part of this process to work through. In order to cultivate certainty you need to know at such a deep level what you believe. This means you need to gather experiences and learnings that help you hone in on what you believe to be true. To be certain is to reach such a place in your beliefs that you can share with so much conviction what you think with others.
Then there’s influence. Influence is the byproduct of certainty because, once you are saying something so confidently, you’re going to be perceived as credible and people will listen. That’s all influence is, an ability to affect someone’s thoughts and behaviors. Your certainty carries a frequency that encourages others to believe what you believe, which enacts that very change within their thoughts and behaviors.
Then last is impact. Once you can influence someone, you have the ability to redirect them and send them on a better path. You have the ability to disrupt the way things were headed and introduce an alternative way that, when you have good intentions, is for the better. And that’s what we’re all working toward - living lives that make an impact.
But you’ve got to start with certainty, and let me tell you a personal example of this. Would you say that I’m an inspirational person? Well it hasn't always been that way. On my college soccer team people would laugh any time I tried to say something motivational before a game. But in the personal development realm I cultivated certainty, I started learning theories to a new depth and tested my beliefs in different ways where now I can say with so much certainty what I know. That belief and confidence in myself has led to influence and ultimately impact. And while it still doesn't feel right to say, many people have told me that I'm inspirational.
To summarize: Certainty ->Influence -> Impact.
What Do You Want?
This is one of the most important questions we could ever ask ourselves. I think we tip-toe around it as we go about our day, but asking it plainly and directly could yield some incredible awareness. The question is “What do you want?”
It’s harder to answer than it sounds, but that’s because it in of itself is so ambiguous. Getting in the habit of asking this question within the context of what’s going on around you will help you to make decisions that are aligned with… What you want!
First, let’s think existentially. What do you want in life? What are some of the things you’d do, the person you’d be proud to be, 30 years from now? Actually think about it, and identify it, so you can begin pursuing it. Then how about if you’re upset, sad, or angry. What do you want? What would be the best resolution to the problem? You can’t change the past, but what does an ideal future look like? Then you know what to pursue. And how about broadly in your day, what do you want? What are the activities you want to engage in, the people you want to be around, the way you carry yourself? Again, once you know what that thing is then you can work towards it.
This question works because it activates objective neutral thinking. With neutral thinking you can take the emotion out of the context and relate to the situation on the level of your values. This will not only help you generate the outcomes and happiness you want, but it will keep you in check and hold you accountable to being your best self, not your impulsive self.
In just about any situation, as you’re making a decision, ask yourself “What do I want?” That very often will give you the answer you need.
The Details Matter
Have you heard the quote “How you do one thing is how you do everything” before? It’s a really powerful thought. It demonstrates how your actions in all areas of life, when people are watching and when they aren’t, is really indicative of the person you are. To expand on that quote, today I want to talk about why this is so important.
Everything we do matters, sure to other people, but mostly to ourselves. Our brains are constantly trying to figure out how we relate to different topics in the world, what our priorities are, what our beliefs are, and it uses the actions you take as the ultimate truth. So if you cut corners on a basic and unimportant task, your brain will start accepting that in your life. If you give yourself an excuse not to do something you kind of committed to, then similarly it will not hold you as accountable when there’s more on the line. How you do one thing is how you do everything, and your identity shapes around the things you do. The details matter.
This came to mind for me because I was sending a text to someone, noticed I had a slight typo in it, and chose to send it anyway. I’m someone that prides myself on being detail-oriented and I realized that not correcting my mistake was not the type of person I wanted to be. Now I’m going to be more aware of it moving forward.
Now my question to you is, are there small things you’re doing that go against the person you want to be? These things might seem insignificant in the moment, but they represent something larger, and how you do one thing is how you do everything.