Make A Specific Ask
Want to hear well-known truth? People can’t read your mind. And why is that important to know? As clearly as something might be in your mind, it is based on information that isn’t available to others. But understanding that there’s a gap between what exists in your brain and what others know is the first step to overcoming it. The clearest way to get someone to do what you want them to do is to make as specific of an ask as possible. By stating exactly what you want, and providing the context and emotion around it, you are more likely to get what you are looking for.
Let me go through a few examples in different environments to conceptualize this. You and your partner are making Holiday plans. You mentioned that Christmas was an important holiday to be with your family, but did so 6 months ago. When the plans are being made it is important to ask for it again specifically in the moment rather than rely on the past communication to come to the resolution you want. In business, when you make a pitch, don’t leave the call to action open to interpretation. State exactly what action you want the other person to take to move the deal forward. And with your spirituality, ask the universe as narrowly as possible for what you want to manifest. Changing the world in a massive way, and changing the world for the better in a massive way are two very different things, and the extra specificity is crucial.
Making a specific ask requires vulnerability, because you’re stating things exactly how you want them. But this level of transparency is important so that others can interact with you in a perfectly aligned way.
Optimism is an expression of positivity. It’s about seeing things in the best way possible and expecting the best things to happen. An important clarification to make is that it is not about being overly idealistic. Everything has positive and negative elements built into it, and being optimistic is choosing to focus on the positive elements and expecting those to prevail.
Ultimately, when you’re optimistic you have an overall belief that good defeats evil in this world. You can find evidence for that in seeing how one particle of light can undo millions of particles of dark. Or think about this Vedic principle that monks adopt - For every word of gossip or negativity they speak about someone they are required to say 10 positive things.
You’ve heard this before in the expression “The glass is half full”. If we break this down, we’ll see that this is just a perspective and a choice against the alternative “The glass is half empty”. It’s all about seeing the positivity and possibility in the situation, which is your decision to believe that good beats evil in this world.
I think this concept of optimism is articulated very well in a Winston Churchill quote that goes as follows, "A sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Discomfort and Self-Confidence
Confidence as I know it, is a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.
When it comes to self-confidence I think there’s a fundamental piece that needs to be addressed - It is very dependent on the circumstance. Let me demonstrate this with an example. If I were to tell you that you had to go on a stage in front of 1,000 people, that could be pretty nerve-wrecking. But what if your task was simply to start clapping? Do you think you could do it? That’s a much different task than lecturing to the audience on a difficult topic…
The factor that matters most within self-confidence is your comfort level. In fact the only time that our confidence comes into question is in times of discomfort, and our perceived confidence is just our internal measurement of how well we think we can do given the uncertainty within the discomfort. The further you stretch out of your comfort zone, the less certainty you have about how well you’ll be able to perform in that space.
But therein lies the opportunity. If you want to build self-confidence, you need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to prove to yourself that you have the abilities and qualities necessary to perform. Putting yourself in a position to fail is a necessary ingredient to building self-confidence, and I’m confident you’ll realize how capable you are once you give yourself the chance.
I'm On a Winning Streak with Charlie Rocket
This provides a whole extra layer to perspective and is something that can change your life because it’s so tangible. We are singularly powerful in that we can control our external world by making the right choices within our internal world. No one has mastered this like Charlie Rocket, an individual who has a special quantum magnetism to him.
I’m on a winning streak! How simple is that? It’s just like the Wayne Dyer quote “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” If you see yourself as a winner, and everything that happens to you is just an extension of the streak you’re on, then you’ll continue to find wins in your life. This conversation was framed by the idea of momentum, and keeping momentum allows you to continue on in the direction you want to go.
Are You Interested or Are You Committed?
Those goals that you have, the dream life that you aspire for, that perfect relationship and job… Is that something you’re interested in having or are you committed to making it happen? It’s a very important distinction, and something that John Assaraf mentions in his book "Innercise".
If you’re interested in something then it exists as an idea, a possibility in your life for how things can go. The problem is there’s no definitiveness, no decision, and therefore no pressure or accountability toward making it happen. It’s a very passive approach toward the things that you want. If you are committed to something, then you are acknowledging that you’re going to do what it takes to make it happen. By committing you put yourself out there and begin to take positive action where failure is not an option. With this intention, a possibility becomes a probability and things will start to fall into place so that it does happen, because it must happen one way or another.
The key difference is this - When you’re interested in something, your focus is on the "If". There’s doubt about if this thing is going to happen or not. When you are committed to something, the focus is on the "How". It’s going to happen, now it’s about how to make it happen.
So I ask you to be critical of yourself. How do you approach the things that you want. Are you interested in them happening, or are you committed to making them happen?
Leading Indicators and Lagging Indicators
In marketing there’s a term called Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, and they are exactly what they sound like - Agreed upon standards that help you measure your work against your objectives, aka your performance. Things can get complicated, with many marketing campaigns pulling many different levers, so KPIs are used to understand fundamentally if the work you are doing is driving business and generating results in a reliable way.
There are two types of KPIs, a leading KPI which is more a direct, objective measure of a tactic, and a lagging KPI, which is the longer term effect or the business goal you are trying to meet.
Within the context of personal goal setting, we over emphasize the lagging KPI, or the final objective, and believe that just by stating it it’s going to happen. Getting clear on the ultimate goal is definitely important from an efficiency and motivational standpoint, but where’s the structure? That’s where our leading KPIs come into play.
The leading KPIs are what we execute on every single day to produce our end goal. They are the fuel behind the growth and development that leads to an improved result. Remember, personal development is the process, self improvement is the state.
Take a community member, Arozo, for example. She’s training for a marathon and was looking for some goal setting guidance. The lagging KPIs were clear - to be able to finish the race, as well as to be able to run X many miles by Y date. That works great as a progress check, but how does she get there? Leading KPIs - Run this many miles a week, cross train that many times, the things she does on a daily basis to build up her fitness. It’s consistency in the daily activities, measured by leading KPIs, that generate the real impressive results, as indicated by the lagging KPIs.
"Kid, you'll move mountains!" - Dr. Seuss
I was reading with my nephew a number of months ago and the book we were reading, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss, left a big impression on me. It’s a clever story that gives great advice on how to navigate life and deal with adversity.
While I encourage you to read the whole book, I am going to recite a few of the final lines that I particularly enjoy.
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dextrous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! (98 ¾ percent guaranteed.) Kid, you’ll move mountains!"
There are a few underlying thoughts in this excerpt I want to highlight. First is to acknowledge imperfection. You’ll make mistakes and wrong decisions and get caught up in the wrong places. Second, as a response to that, is being intentional. While you can’t control a lot you can control yourself, and it’s up to you to strike the balance that best fits your needs and circumstances. Then finally, in the face of adversity and within those choices, success is inevitable. It’s just about guaranteed! That’s because those things that you thought weren’t possible, that seem to present inconveniences and limitations in your life, are non-existent. And that’s exactly how the story ends.
“So… be your name Bauxbaum or Brixy or Bray, or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.”
Invest In Your Purpose with Chadwick Boseman
I wanted to honor the message and eloquence of a leader who has passed. I’ve seen the response the community has had toward Chadwick Boseman's life and contribution, and wanted to acknowledge his legacy. Despite strong opposition, Chadwick persevered to give a voice to so many people and represents a new era of black empowerment. Not surprisingly, he did so through a trial and error process that guided him toward his purpose.
It’s not always smooth, and it doesn’t always seem like it’s working, but everything you experience is preparing you for the deepest expression of your purpose. Life and its challenges are a training ground for you to be able to contribute to your ultimate capacity.
Forgiveness Requires Acceptance
First, to understand why forgiveness is important we need to reflect on its purpose. To forgive is to overcome the negative emotions you feel toward someone or something, and no longer let that thing have power over your well-being. The underlying root of this is that something inside you hurts. You’re in pain because of something in your past and you need to rationalize that pain by attributing it to something else.
So what you must do before you externally forgive is you must internally accept. While I do want to remain respectful of any past traumas you may have experienced, you must recognize that your past is part of your life. It cannot be changed, and the best response you can have toward things that cannot be changed is to accept. This often involves finding meaning and purpose in the trauma or experience, because then it can be viewed as a necessary element to your growth and actualization rather than something that holds you back.
Basically, you must first forgive yourself and process your emotions before looking externally. Then at that point, if you feel like it’s important and productive, you can begin to forgive externally and relive those difficult emotions in a vulnerable way but with a new perspective and purpose behind it.
Everything Is A Miracle
This moment right now is a miracle. You have ears and eyes that have evolved perfectly to experience the world around you, which is an incredibly delicate process. Your life came from 400 trillion to one odds that two specific cells meet, to then divide and create everything that makes up you and your body. The order of your actions and thoughts in the next hour are completely dependent on every second before it, in your lifetime and beyond, and every detail of your future is still being designed right this instant!
Everything that happens in this existence is a miracle.The definition of a miracle is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.” The odds of things happening exactly how they did are unbelievably low, which makes you wonder, what if they hadn’t? This belief is a powerful perspective to take because it represents how everything that has happened and will happen is all a bonus. If that’s the case, then we can welcome any and all things into our lives with curiosity and enthusiasm just like any miracle deserves.
An underlying sentiment to this thought is gratitude. It doesn’t matter if you interpret these events as divine or coincidental, the consistent truth is that it all happened against all odds. And the fact that it all happened for you, in such a precise and profound way, gives you a lot to be grateful for.
Being More Empathetic
One of the most important, but most difficult traits we can possess is empathy. Empathy is an ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, observe the context around their mental processes, and understand why they believe things to be a certain way or feel a certain way. This characteristic serves us in a number of different ways - Emotionally supporting a friend or loved on, attempting to motivate someone, trying to do business with someone, or trying to understand how someone has different political beliefs.
But the flaw with empathy is that it is largely based on assumptions and when you assume, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, subjectivity, and opinion. So if you want to be more effective, you need to remove the judgment and biases you're feeling and try to approach the situation at face-value.
If you want to emotionally support a friend, ask more targeted questions to understand the context of the problem, so that you can address the root of the emotion and not about the superficial display of that emotion. If you want to motivate someone, think about their goals and objectives and how you can position what you want them to do as a means of achieving it. If you want to do business with someone, think about the stakeholders and pressures they must respond to and how this would make them look in the eyes of a boss or superior.
Your ability to be empathetic is strengthened by your ability to remove yourself from someone’s situation, which requires radical open-mindedness and zero judgment. Empathy is a fundamental trait that, when exercised right, will allow you to be more effective in your interactions with others.
You Are Worthy
Let’s keep it simple and take it back to 3 words that changed my life. It’s a concept I do morning affirmations on and it’s something that a lot of emotions hide behind. Those 3 words are: You are worthy.
Those dreams and aspirations you have, you deserve them. That community group you’re involved in, you belong. Those feelings of joy and fulfillment you’ve experienced in the past, you earned them and you’re capable of feeling them again! Don’t let everyone else’s negativity get in the way of your shine.
Your past experiences may have set a standard that you’ve been living by, but when you have the self-confidence to look beyond those standards you’ll see how they’ve been limiting you. You might be appeasing others’ opinions and expectations out of unworthiness, which is keeping you from allowing yourself to live a fully-expressed life.
But remember, no matter how bad things have gotten or how low you’ve been, your existence today demonstrates that you are capable of persevering! And every time you persevere you create evidence that you are capable, you do deserve it, and you do belong. When you believe that you’re worthy of receiving what the world has to offer, it will deliver with abundance and you will elevate without restrictions.
To get to that place of believing in your worth, what do you need to do? You need to produce proof. You need to take action in a way that is consistent with you believing you're worthy. By investing in yourself and putting yourself out there knowing you’ll be okay if you fall short. You’ll quickly find that you are worthy, you are abundant, and now is the time to shine.
It's Not What You Say, It's What You Do
I think we’re all guilty of this to some extent, and we definitely know someone who operates in this way. It’s easy to talk the talk, but it’s not easy to walk the walk. I’ve found that the most difficult part of doing anything is the follow through, actually doing it, and it creates a large emotional and psychological divide. It’s so easy to talk about wanting to do something - You state large ambitions, make big plans, and talk a big game, but nothing comes from it if you don’t take action. And if nothing comes from it then what purpose did it serve?
For that reason, when I try to get a read on someone I look at their behavior and what they’re doing, not what they’re saying. Someone who keeps grabbing handfuls of chips but says they’re on a diet. A person who complains about not having enough to do but doesn’t make any effort to try new things. There’s a reason the expression “Actions speak louder than words” has been true and effective for decades!
But fortunately, the same goes for the things you tell yourself. Oftentimes negative self-talk isn’t validated by your actions, and it arises from social conditioning and insecurities that distort your perception of truth. But these negative things you say about yourself don’t provide evidence for who you are, it’s what you do that provides evidence. You think you’re unhealthy but you log your food intake. You think you’re lazy but you have a full calendar.
Take this very moment for example. You are taking the action to read an excerpt related to self-improvement podcast, which in itself separates you from so many people! Let that action motivate you to take another action, and another action, until you recognize the path you're on and the growth you're experiencing.
Your BS Is Your Belief System
You know all of that stuff that comes into your life and seems to weigh you down or force you off course? It’s all of the bullshit you deal with throughout the day. My boss wants me to do this task that isn’t worth my time. My car broke down and now I spend time and money getting it fixed. My best friend went around my back and is really pissing me off. All of that sucks, right? Or maybe that’s just the meaning you’re choosing to make out of the situation.
If you find yourself negatively affected by these little inconveniences, maybe you need to rethink why you view those things as so inconvenient. A powerful reality about our existence is we always have choice, and your decision to attribute negative meaning to an event is your way of handling the situation.
That’s why I’m saying - Your BS is your belief system. If you perceive something as negative it’s because your beliefs say it is so. We need to understand how deeply rooted our beliefs are, and how often they are being exercised without our conscious awareness.
If your boss wants you to do some menial task, why do you see it as menial? If you zoom out and approach it with empathy, do you understand why it needs to get done? Maybe you're the only person she trusts to get the job done. Or if your friend goes around our back, maybe that’s their indirect way of asking for help. Maybe this is a huge breakthrough in your relationship because it’s creating a platform for them to be vulnerable with you.
The BS in your life is only there because you choose to let it be BS, and that choice exists within what you conclude to be true based on your beliefs. It’s a matter of perspective. The “bullshit” you deal with might be someone else’s dream. It’s only perceived as bullshit because you believe it to be so.
Embracing New Chapters
As things transition and change, one phase of life may end and a new one may begin. This is often triggered by standard life events like graduating high school, getting married, having a child, or leaving a job. But it also can happen very randomly - When you meet someone who changes your perspective, you commit to something new and major in your life, or something big happens out of nowhere. In all cases, change by the very nature of it is disruptive.
Many people articulate this as the beginning of a new chapter in your life, and it’s important to acknowledge what that means. On one side, it’s you moving on from something and rejecting the comfort in the way it was. On the other side, a new chapter and it’s unchartered territory bring a sense of uncertainty about how things will be. It’s your choice to embrace new chapters in your life and make the most of your story moving forward.
While you don’t know the contents of this new chapter, and you don’t know the lessons and learnings it will provide, it’s still a matter of perspective to approach the uncertainty with optimism. Even a seemingly bad start to a new chapter -like a death, a divorce, a break up, or a health scare - can be viewed with a lens of curiosity. It may be the key to unlocking the inspiration, self-worth, confidence, or fire you need to become who you are meant to be. New chapters are new beginnings, and that’s something to look forward to.
Integrity is so important. It’s living in a way that is consistent with your values, having morals and ethics, and doing what you said you were going to do, But interestingly, integrity is usually presented in a way that has consequences that affect other people. You flake on your friend, well now your friend is upset. You cheat on your partner, now your relationship is in jeopardy. You succumb to an addiction or vice, and now others are affected by your actions or lack of action.
But let’s turn this conversation around and make it entirely about the self. What does it mean to have self-integrity?
To me this is having completely intrinsic accountability. This is waking up at 6am like you told yourself you would the previous night, but you didn’t tell anyone else. It’s knowing and abiding by your limits in different settings, even though no one else knows what your limit is. And be careful - What happens every time you violate that inner-accountability is you breach your integrity.
This has devastating effects. You stop trusting yourself, you stop believing in yourself, and therefore you stop prioritizing yourself. Every time it happens it weakens your relationship with that element in your life, and forces you to rationalize or adjust to live in a way that is more consistent with having less integrity.
But the other side of it, every time you do what you said you were going to do, you have control of yourself, you execute - You start trusting yourself more, you start believing in yourself more, and your start prioritizing yourself more. Your choices are so important because they are the foundation of everything else, and you need to be extremely mindful when your choices interface with your integrity.
"People will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
Our existence is a very emotional experience. How lucky are we that we get to participate in something that really pulls at us and allows us to feel? It’s truly a blessing to be able to endure and enjoy our life in such a unique way. While emotions can be the best and worst thing to ever happen in the moment, it provides a meaning to our experiences that is unlike anything else. A quote by Maya Angelou recently perfectly embodies this thought.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I think we should be more intentional about our emotions. Whether we want to or not we are constantly communicating with others through our emotional states. It’s through this implicit conversation that we can connect with others in a way that leaves a lasting impression. In fact, our brains are hardwired to identify and remember emotions as a survival advantage that can be traced all the way back to our fight or flight instinct.
If you want to make a difference, make a point to influence someone on the level of their emotions. Don’t just hand a homeless person a $5 bill, look them in the eyes and let them feel their humanity. Don’t just say a rehearsed “I love you" to a partner or family member, announce it from the depth of your being so that they can feel the love carried in your words. Moments like these really do stand out from the crowd and serve as an opportunity to introduce more light into this world.
Out With The Old, In With The New
We’re in a world that constantly renews itself. Almost anything can be traced back to a natural cycle that exists so that an equilibrium can be maintained over time. For example, did you know that 25-70 million of your cells die everyday, only to be replaced by brand new cells in a matter of seconds?
We quite literally live the expression “Out with the old, in with the new” on a cellular level, and do you know why that is? It’s because we require it.
Everything around us is dynamic. Nothing ever exists exactly how it did a minute ago because the environment and energetics around it are always changing. Just like our body adapts every single day to the concepts, priorities, and expectations we live by, we need to adapt in order to be a good fit for the current times. While it’s still important to recognize how everything has its purpose at the time, it’s equally important to acknowledge when that context of that purpose is no longer what it used to be.
Within our awareness of these dynamic processes we’re subject to, we need to embrace when things are out of place. It could be something big like a job or friendship that doesn’t serve you anymore, or as small as a habit or belief that no longer has a place in your life. In either case, it’s important to upgrade - Out with the old, in with the new.
Preach What You Practice
It’s about time someone flipped this common expression on its head. Growing up we heard a very important saying “Practice what you preach”, and it served us. It goes along with other lessons like the Golden Rule - “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, and “Always say please and thank you.”
But now that we’re a bit older and we know how things work, we can think about this simple quote in a different way. It’s not that you must practice what you preach, it’s that you should preach what you practice.
There are three different ways to communicate something. You can say it, you can show it, or you can have someone experience it. Those 3 ways are listed in order of increasing effectiveness. “Show not tell”, right? You've heard it before.
Well with the quote, “Practice what you preach”, you’re leading with ‘tell’. You’re telling people what to do first, then holding yourself to that standard. A more effective way of communicating with other people would be to “Preach what you practice”, because what happens first is your commitment to demonstrating it by your own example. Then when you talk about it you have more authority and credibility on the topic because you are living proof of the thought, rather than a messenger of it.
Another schoolyard quote that wraps this thought up nicely: “Lead by example”. That’s a classic way of ‘showing not telling’ the best way to do something.
So what does this all mean? It starts with you. You need to first be the practitioner before you can preach it. It’s not just about practicing what you preach, but preaching what you practice.
Have you heard this before? ‘There’s only so much time in the day.’ Or ‘I’m just running out of gas.’ The physical limitations we experience are real, and while there are ways to optimize our lives a bit to have more energy, there’s an alternative consideration - What is your energy going to right now?
Our behavior is driven by satisfying our human needs, all the way from securing food, water, and shelter to self-actualization. These desires are rooted deeply in our evolutionary past and still play a large role in our day to day lives. But what’s interesting is how we have a tendency to overcompensate for past needs. This ultimately leads to us spending our energy in unnecessary ways, and is probably best understood by way of a few examples.
Let’s say that as a child you weren’t acknowledged as much as you needed after personal achievements. You may take action today in a way that makes up for that void and guarantees you receive the validation from others that you desire. Or maybe you didn’t grow up with much money. Now you work hard to secure more money but in a way that is beyond your means and needs.
The important point here is that your overspending in these ways may actually be the key to increasing your capacity. By identifying what is holding you back, or what is being prioritized unnecessarily, you can redirect that energy toward a more aligned cause in your life.
Your Environment is Your Identity Objectified with Jim Fortin
If you are unaware of your subconscious mind, how can you go about identifying what needs to be changed? Jim Fortin is an expert in subconscious transformation who teaches that identity is the root of all behavior change. But it’s not only the source of your potential for positive behavior, it’s also the key that unlocks the mystery of your negative realities. For those things occur at a subconscious level, that can’t be rationally comprehended, you need to look somewhere else. You need to look in your environment.
Just because we can’t see into our subconscious does not mean that there is no evidence that suggests what's in there. Our internal identity provides clues in our external reality that we can use to learn what exists inside. So if you want to learn more about your subconscious thoughts on your relationships, look at your relationships as they are. If you want to know the subconscious positions you hold regarding money and work-life balance, look at the current state of your money and work life balance. This awareness will allow you to recondition your brain in a way that helps you improve your identity with these important elements in your life. When you make progress on your internal state, you'll see and your evidence in your external state - your environment.
Think positive. It’s something I’ve said a thousand times, something you’ve heard a million more, but what does it actually mean. Quite simply it’s about adopting a lens of positivity that filters everything around you so that it appears more optimistic and encouraging in your world. While that all sounds great, positivity is not a natural response. It needs to be developed. The question becomes HOW can we go about thinking positive more often?
First is practicing gratitude. Gratitude works because it focuses your attention on the positive things in your life, training your subconscious to look for more of the same in your environment. If you haven’t begun a gratitude practice, I challenge you to try journaling about 3 things you’re grateful for everyday for two weeks. It will change your life.
Second is to utilize reframing exercises. Positive and negative is a perception, an arbitrary label to a situation, and you can be intentional about which one you focus on. When something bad happens in your life, you can reframe it to find a silver lining or an unexpected blessing that is buried in the situation. It’s uncomfortable and difficult to do when in a highly emotional state, but it very quickly changes the meaning of the negative things your experiencing.
Then last, if you don’t want to direct this effort toward yourself, direct it toward others. Compliment others on the good things they’re doing, acknowledge them, and you’ll find that the energy you put out returns to you indirectly.
That’s what it takes to think positive. Positivity is a choice, and these are some of the tools you can use to begin introducing more positivity into your life.
The Role Model Mindset
What is the role model mindset? Essentially, this is all about behaving and acting in a way that provides a good template for others. Another way that it is commonly articulated is 'leading by example'. When you’re a role model, you can’t take the shortcuts, you can’t fall into lazy habits, because others are learning from you as an instructional authority. In my mind, adopting this mindset primarily does two things.
First, it holds you accountable to doing things the right way. If you believe that others are learning from your example then you have a duty to be responsible in the way that you’re teaching, and that responsibility creates a pressure to do it right. Fortunately, the byproduct of that means that you end up taking complete action, which is your best chance at creating the results you want.
Second, it gives you meaning. We all want to be able to positively influence the lives of others. It’s rewarding to know that your actions create ripples in those who are observing and duplicating your behavior. The reality is, you never know who is watching, you never know how far your influence is reaching, which drives more motivation to continue doing things the right way.
A great example to sum this up comes from my beautiful mother. My mom was asked, “What is the best question you’ve ever asked yourself?” Her response embodies the role model mindset - “Will it make my children proud?”
You are a role model to others, whether you see it or not, whether you believe it or not, so you might as well start acting like it!
Life Doesn't Get Easier, You Get Stronger
Is there something that you once had to work so hard for, really applying yourself to get it done, and now the same thing seems to happen with relative ease? Well there's a reason for that. Life only gives you what you can handle. When these challenges are presented in your life, they are best viewed as the lesson and mechanism you needed to develop in an important way. But then over time they don’t feel as difficult, and it’s not because life got any easier, it’s because you got stronger.
Our bodies are designed to grow in response to the stresses that it is exposed to, and when you’re presented with a challenge, your body immediately adapts to accommodate the need. Physically you could strengthen your muscles to more easily meet the task. Mentally you can strengthen your capacity to memorize and recall information. And operatively you can strengthen your systems to efficiently produce a desired outcome. In all cases, the task didn’t change, it’s your capability to meet the task that did.
That’s the exciting opportunity! Every day when we meet our challenges we are pushed to grow. So it’s really important that you’re fighting the right battles and choosing the right challenges. In life you don’t climb to the level of your dreams, you fall to what you’re willing to tolerate. Approaching daily demands from this perspective allows you to see the power in your actions and become more resistant to the forces that weigh you down. You hold the key to your own development, and you decide where and how you grow. Life doesn’t get easier, you get stronger.
The Dangers of Rationalization
Something that we do every moment of every day, that usually happens beyond our conscious control, is "rationalization".
Essentially, we rationalize when we take in new information and assimilate it into our world view. It’s when we attempt to explain or justify the existence of something in a way that is logical and makes sense to us. But the difficult part about this process is it is incredibly biased because the meaning you extract in the rationalization process is meant to be compatible with your previous belief systems.
Let’s put it this way.To rationalize often involves “rational lies”. Without having an awareness of the pressures that bias our judgment we have a tendency to use new information as evidence that validates our previous belief system. That’s the inherent danger of rationalization, it’s designed to strengthen your current beliefs, not keep you open to changing them given new details.
So what can we do to keep an open mind? First is to assume the identity of a life-long learner. When you accept the fact that you are always a work in progress, always your own experiment, you are no longer threatened by information that potentially disagrees with your belief system. You choose to embrace new thoughts as different and novel, and incorporate that information through expansion and not biased assimilation. In an ever-changing world where we don’t know nearly enough, it’s an important quality to possess to play your role in it.
Stay Out Of The Drama
All drama does is it provides a platform for people to commiserate in an unproductive way. At the heart of drama are a few things that I believe have no place in our world - complaining, gossiping and deflecting responsibility. When you talk about drama it’s usually about what someone else did, or how something else happened. It’s expensive. Expensive from the standpoint that you are choosing to allocate your valuable attention toward something that isn’t productive.
We get into this trap because it presents a stimulating conversation that activates our evolutionary tendency to take interest in social hierarchy, which is really appealing on the surface. But unfortunately it approaches the topic in a very scandalous way and rewards you with a fleeting boost in self-worth because you feel taller after someone else is pulled down. It’s scarce, it’s trivial, and it’s avoidable if you follow these two things.
First - Don’t cause drama. Think of yourself as a match that could ignite it all. By talking about others in a non-critical, non-judgmental way, you can bypass that tendency to gossip and speak on the matter in a more productive way.
And second - Don’t escalate it. Drama and gossip are only possible because it involves a mutual exchange between two people. If you are unwilling to receive the drama in the conversation, then the conversation will naturally steer away from the gossip. If you can approach the conversation from a place of resolution, without communicating agitation or frustration, then you will be able to redirect the negative energy away.
There’s already enough going on in your life, you don’t need anything petty to sap your energy, and drama is often the culprit.
"When things are going good, be grateful. When things are going bad, be graceful."
Life has a natural polarity to it, there are so many things that you are exposed to that are out of your control. But there’s something you always have, regardless of the environment, which is choice.
With that in mind, let's embrace this quote: “When things are going good, be grateful. When things are going bad, be graceful.”
Starting with the first half of the quote, It is so important to acknowledge when things are going well in your life. It’s sometimes tempting to get caught up in the vanity and superficiality of positive results, but remaining grounded and centered in the rewards that you earned helps you to develop the right associations with the outcome.
Now the second half - "When things are going bad, be graceful." Your brain and body have two ways of communicating with each other which are top-down and bottom-up processing, and your graceful behavior helps your brain orient itself as to how it wants to respond. To stay graceful is to be elegant, and you’ll be more prone to handling the situation in a way that you are proud of and is representative of your intentions.
Also built into grace is an element of respect. Respect for what has happened, trying to find the meaning and lesson in it, as well as respect for yourself and your own state. When you can answer bad news or less than ideal events in your life with control and intentionality, you’ll be able to overcome the issue with much more authority and efficacy.
It’s not a natural behavior, but really give this some thought. “When things are going good, be grateful. When things are going bad, be graceful.”
How I Manifested Rescuing a Dog
I was at a co-workers birthday party just hanging outside playing games and chatting. A friend of mine brought his new puppy who was having a great time running and sniffing around. Having not played with a dog for months I started chasing her around the park pretty harmlessly trying to catch her.
Well, I guess I was playing too hard, because I was chasing the puppy and it started running away… and she kept going… and going… and going… until I lost sight of her. The rescue mission was on, and we ran around this complex looking for any sign of the dog and asking everyone if they’d seen her. At one point, a group saw her off leash and a few of them got up and followed the puppy knowing something was wrong. More than an hour passes, there’s only about 20 minutes of sunlight left, and no sign of the dog. I felt awful. I went back to that group that was following her and asked if they had an update, and they said “Oh yea, we got her! The girl on the bike is holding her.”
“Oh thank god”, I thought. I was hit by a wave of relief and I started the mile long walk back from where I was to where we had started.
It wasn’t a minute later, walking in the middle of the street, that I see the dog sprinting toward me. So I get low ready to dive and make a play and she goes to my feet and gets on her hind legs practically jumping into my arms. We had rescued the dog!
The really fascinating point in this, is after hearing news that we secured the dog my energy shifted. My internal reality became that the dog was safe and captured, and then immediately after my external world had to match my internal state. So after almost an hour and a half of looking for any trace of the dog, she basically delivered herself to me. I don’t know if they were lying about us finding the dog or what, but it doesn’t matter because it was enough to change my state and attract the resolution I was looking for into my life!
What Are You Proud Of About Yourself?
I’ve been working through exercises in Case Kenny’s New Mindset Journal, and everyday in the journal he asks us to answer one simple question. “What are you proud of about yourself?”.
I found the question intriguing the first time I read it and answered it, then noticed it return day after day in this 60 day journal. While I didn’t understand the immediate value in reflecting on that prompt daily, I have come to see its importance and the intent behind it.
Just like daily gratitude, journaling helps you live with a more positive perspective, and daily affirmations help boost your confidence or prime your subconscious. This is a daily practice of self-love! It requires you to acknowledge something you like about yourself in a really clever way.
That’s why I wanted to introduce this to you. It’s uncomfortable to compliment yourself, but this prompt is powerful in that it makes it much easier. When I reflect on what I’m proud of about myself, a full spectrum of things come up. Everything from recognizing my talents and respecting my work ethic, to the way I approach important relationships, to the small daily choices I make. What I’ve found is there are way more things to celebrate about myself than I originally thought, and I guarantee the same for you.
So I challenge you every day for the next 7 days, write down one thing you are proud of about yourself, and notice how it makes you feel!
How I Violated a Core Principle
I did something that was out of integrity of who I am, and I paid the price.
I had a call booked with a friend of mine, it was half meant to see how we could collaborate on something, and half a good reason to check-in. Earlier in the week we had our call booked but he had a conflict come up, so we rescheduled well in advance. No harm there. But then an hour before our new time to call I was invited by my roommates to do something fun. It was a Friday evening after a long week, and I felt like I had earned a little time-off, so I made the decision to postpone our call for a day and take action on this opportunity.
After asking to reschedule, my friend expressed his frustration about my decision, defending the value of his time and wishing that I had given him more advanced warning. It’s a very fair point and a consequence I was aware of when I made my decision.
Long story short, I didn’t enjoy my time on Friday as much as I should have because this decision was lingering in the back of my mind, and after reflecting on it more I realized it’s because I violated one of my core principles, which is "Dependable Execution".
I am consistent. When I tell you I’m going to do something I do it no questions asked. It is a strength of mine and something that I believe differentiates me from others. For years I have taken action in alignment with this core principle, it’s a trait that I value so dearly, and my mind and body had a physical reaction when I behaved out of integrity with this value. However, the silver lining here is that this experience reinforced how important this core principle is to me, and offers good confirmation that I’m on the right path prioritizing this quality.
It Is Enough with Chalene Johnson
We live in such a consumerist society that encourages us to get more... and more... and more... Then when we get it we see that we’re not "there" yet so we keep pushing and sacrificing and exerting ourselves beyond our means to attain something that will always evade us. My ambitions are out of this world, trust me, and I’m proud of them, but they are not everything. I need to find value in who I am right now, not who I want to be, what I want to have, and what I want to do. That’s something Chalene Johnson taught me:
It’s the truth - An aligned life includes satisfaction and fulfillment. If we’re always off chasing something else that will validate us then we’ll never experience the joy of the present. We’ll never appreciate it, and that’s a sad thought and no way to live. But with a little more awareness, and an emphasis on being mindful in the moment, we can find the joy and fulfillment we so desperately seek. Give yourself some credit, cut yourself some slack, and accept that you are enough, and it is enough.
"Spread love everywhere you go."
You have so much to offer! Your energy is contagious and your love even more so. When you choose to show up for others, and provide your heart, you’ll discover that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference. Love is an emotion that speaks louder than all other emotions, it’s a dominating force, and it comes in so many different shapes and sizes. And that’s what you I encourage you to affirm today. You can be intentional about leading with love and spreading love everywhere you go.
It’s taking an extra moment with a stranger to acknowledge them, to give them your attention, and make them feel heard and seen. It’s picking up a piece of trash on the ground out of respect and love for the other people you share this space with. It’s going the extra mile for no reason other than to facilitate someone else’s happiness.
And to me, that’s the point. It’s a choice. It’s your choice to spread love everywhere you go. Wherever you focus your attention will attract more of the same in your life, which will amplify your ability to provide more of it and your willingness to receive it. Make that thing love, because the world needs more of it, and no matter what you think, you have a ton of it to give.
You CAN Change Someone's Life with Adam Braun
In my core, I truly believe you can change someone's life for the better. I have been incredibly inspired by the Founder of the non-profit Pencils Of Promise, Adam Braun, particularly his book called “The Promise of a Pencil” where he chronicles the formation of his world changing organization Pencils of Promise. The beautiful part about Adam's journey is that the impact he created is relatable to everyone. It started small, one individual at a time, and has grown to affect thousands!
Every single one of us can make a difference. We’re all capable of inconveniencing ourselves a little to provide a lot for someone else. And it’s not even an inconvenience, it’s an aligned decision, and it gives you taste of what you have to offer. Adam’s career is a testament to everyone’s personal capacity for service, and his example has inspired me to take a larger role of service in my life.
"Now I Remember" Moments
Have you ever had one of the moments where you know that you know something, but you just can’t produce it? That “its on the tip of my tongue” kind of phenomena? Maybe you’re trying to remember someone’s name, or the title of a song, or a common knowledge trivia question that you’re sure you’ve been exposed to.
You think on it and you don’t make any progress until all of a sudden POOF you remember it clear as day, like you’ve known it all along. How does that happen?
In order to understand we need to talk about memory. There are 2 types of memory - working / short term memory (while something is on your mind) and long term memory (something that encodes in your brain and can be recalled). Different bits of information are encoded to different levels and can be recalled with variable ease.
One of these levels is called episodic memory. This is when something major, what was labeled as most important, encodes in your brain. However, other details around the event aren’t encoded with the same complexity and therefore can’t be recalled as easily. That’s why we easily remember the emotional experience of the song lyrics we liked the most, but can have a hard time remembering the artist.
So what we do is we use episodic memory to simulate the environment and prompt our brain into recalling more details around the event. And that’s why it can take a bit of time, because you need to think through the memory, trigger word, or experience that is the gate to the information you are seeking. It's the very reason why you can think through something for a long time, make no progress on it, leave it for a bit, return to it and discover your answer! It’s because you gave yourself the time to come upon new possible events or memories that included the detail you are trying to recall.
Being Less Judgmental
The standard definition of judgment is far different than the real association we have with it as people. It is intended to be an unbiased evaluation of the way things are, but our egoistic minds have taken that and used it as a tool to self-soothe, which often leads to negative interpretations.
When we’re being judgmental we’re looking for criticism and fault. This happens because we want to validate our belief system, which reinforces the importance of the values we hold. This is a mechanism that is intended to make ourselves feel better about who ere, but what’s interesting is that it implies that we have pain or doubts that need to be comforted.
Your judgment is a projection of your own insecurities. What you see in others is simply a mirror of what you consciously or subconsciously see in yourself. And a lot of our behavior is driven by this mission to accommodate for the areas in our lives that feel like they’re out of alignment, or not enough.
So how can you be less judgmental? Stop judging yourself. Forgive yourself for wrongdoings. Recognize your own biases. Face-off with your insecurities and doubts. After gaining clarity within yourself, your relationship with those concepts will change, and the way you see those qualities in others will change.
The reason I know is because I’m becoming aware of certain negative thought patterns I have about others and their choices, that originate from my own insecurities. So I’m going to work on those, it’ll get better, and I encourage you to do the same!
Complex Problems Require Simple Solutions
Simplicity is so underrated. We get in our heads that we need to be innovative and elaborate and complex to create a high-quality solution. More often than not, that is not the case. It’s the simple thing, that exists in plain sight that likely is the source of greatest potential.
Let’s take the example of a hose. You’re watering your garden and you realize the water pressure is low. There are two things you can do to fix it. You can increase the water pressure from the source handle, or fix the kink in the hose. That’s a pretty obvious decision, but let’s think about the concept within it. You can add more effort and force the pressure into the hose, even coming up with some elaborate contraption to do so, and it might achieve the outcome you wanted but with diminishing returns. But, if you fix the hose and simply evaluate the efficiency of the system, you can get the result you wanted without much challenge.
Beyond that example, there is an important distinction: Simple is not always easy. If you want a better relationship, kiss your partner in the morning and tell them you love them. Simple. If you want to feel more fit and healthy, exercise a regular amount and eat more healthy foods. Simple! Those things aren’t easy, cause if they were we’d already be doing it. There are complex emotions and associations and histories involved with these problems that often distort the clear and simple solution.
Steve Jobs described it well in this quote, “Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."
"You do you."
There’s so much going on in the world right now, too much to keep up with to be honest, and it is exhausting. It’s Coronavirus, it’s racial inequality and Black Lives Matter, it’s news about UFOs, and publicly suppressed information. In the face of it all we need to figure out what we want to do about it, and how we relate to others about it. This is so difficult because there are so many different opinions and arguments. So, let’s simplify it to something basic. “You do you”.
This is an expression I use when someone is making a decision that I don’t want to play a part in. If it’s something I disagree with, something I don’t have an interest in, or something I don’t understand, at some point you just gotta let someone else be their own person and make their own decisions. You do you.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t engage in important debates and share your perspective, you absolutely should, but when your points continue to fall short and you can’t seem to get through to someone, you need to respect their own understanding and not continue the issue any further.
Because that’s mutual. That’s what you would want from someone else who was questioning your beliefs. The expectation is “alright, you can do you, but I’ll do me”. This means that you’re entrusted to make your own decisions and doing the best with what you have to work with on hand.
Now again, this can be very difficult. When it comes to people making decisions that put others in harm’s way, it’s not ethical to just let it go. It’s complicated, there’s no one size fits all solution to this,. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we should be more tolerant of each other and look to understand first before criticizing. But what do I know? You do you.
Garrain Jones' Wheel of Power
This is an exercise I learned from Garrain Jones. Garrain swears by something called the 'Wheel of Power', which is a tool you can use to see where the deficiencies are in your life, relative to where your life could be in all its potential. It’s a simple exercise and it goes as follows.
Draw a circle, put a dot at the center, and divide the circle up into 8 even slices. It should look kind of like a wheel with 8 spokes. Those lines meet the circle at 8 different points, and each one of those points represents one of 8 areas of your life. Then, label each intersection with one of the 8 elements. Do this on the outside of your wheel, and those 8 elements are: Fun and adventure, health and nutrition, culture and tribe, current business, contribution, personal and spiritual development, physical challenges, and friends, family, and relationships.
Next, you’re going to get introspective. Rate how you are doing in each of these areas of your life on a scale 1-10. A 1 means you’re very unsatisfied with your performance in that area, a 10 would mean it is fantastic. When you come upon your number, place a dot on that line estimating where that number would be on a scale 1-10, with the 1 being the center of the circle and 10 being all the way out on the edge of circle. Assign a number for all 8 qualities you are evaluating, and be honest because it could illuminate something important.
Then, connect all the dots! It might be evident what areas of your life are underserved, but to strengthen that point shade in everything on the inside of the figure formed by the connected dots to really see it. What is shaded is your wheel of life, this is how things are right now, and like any good wheel it functions best when it’s an even and well-rounded shape. Those areas that are keeping your wheel from being round are the very things that are keeping you from taking steps forward in your life.
Additionally, all of the space that is inside the circle but not shaded is your capacity. That’s what you’re capable of having in your life, and your goal is to push you 8 elements out to a 10 so you can flourish and live in a way that matches your potential!
Do this exercise and see what comes up. Personally, it was fun and adventure and physical challenge. Lastly, go about addressing those areas of your life that need more attention.
"Masks" - Spoken Word Poetry by Adam Roa
It’s strange how normal this quarantine lifestyle has gotten. Social distancing 6 feet apart, bump elbows when you run into a friend, wash your hands in and out of the house. Perhaps the reason this has become so normal so fast is because it’s actually not all that different from what we do any way. It just is a more noticeable form of it.
That’s the premise of Adam Roa’s new, thought-provoking spoken word poem titled “Masks”. Sit back, open your heart, and have a listen.
What Adam touches on is that our society has an authenticity issue. We feel like we need to be someone we’re not to accommodate for what others expect us to be, so we go on repressing our uniqueness and truth to gain the approval of others. But that’s no way to live, and our awareness of this idea can hopefully lead to a Renaissance of authenticity that allows everyone to be fully self-expressed, unhindered, and unstoppable!
Elevate Everyone with Sarah King
Something that I believe we all are worthy of and we all aspire for, but we all have a difficult time accessing is purpose. We all are capable of doing things that we find meaningful and fulfilling, but it’s not going to happen on its own. You need to step into it. And the first step is to start asking yourself the right questions. These are some of the questions Call to Creatives Founder Sarah King reflects on to bring about a better understanding.
"I believe it's a matter of asking and answering these types of questions that allows us to live the fullest life we could ever imagine. Questions like: Is it really possible to elevate everyone simultaneously? And if it is possible is there a greater call and is there a greater purpose than living a life that benefits you, and it benefits others simultaneously? If it is possible, is there a greater call and is there a greater purpose than working to eliminate suffering for yourself and for the world simultaneously? What is the ideal, and what does it look like? Is it completely unattainable or is it right within our reach? What is alignment, and what breaks alignment? But better yet what strengthens alignment and how does that helps us live a life that elevates everyone?"
Sarah brings up a crucial point, which is that you can meet your needs while meeting the needs of others. That authentic purpose is something that serves you and someone else at the same time. Sarah calls these win-wins, and they're more accessible and prevalent than you would think!