What Is True Passion?
In general, we misunderstand passion. This idea was highlighted in Angela Duckworth's best-selling book "Grit". The way culture glamorizes passion is through hot steamy romance and big defiant action steps. It focuses on the intensity of the experience, and it represents the topic unfairly.
True passion is more consistent. It is delivered slowly and surely over time. Don’t mistake enthusiasm for passion. Enthusiasm is great but it’s often not sustainable, it’s a high intensity emotion. Passion doesn’t come in bursts, it isn’t as sexy as it is made out to be, but it in this way it is more enduring and more effective.
So let’s get critical and think about what you’re really passionate about? Maybe you suffer from shiny object syndrome, where you see something new like a new project, relationship, or hobby, and get so excited about it, only to leave it behind in a few days or weeks. That’s not passion. What you have showed up to do, what you have prioritized and will continue to prioritize, that’s what you are actually passionate about. Things like being there for family events, working on projects for months or years, or interests that you’ve been able to dive really deep into throughout your life.
I bring this all up because tapping into your passion can be one of the strongest factors in discovering your purpose. And when you’ve identified what that thing is, you can create opportunities to bring more of that passion into your life.
"You are never too important to be nice to people."
I don’t care who you are, it’s never okay to intentionally be mean to someone. When it comes to living alongside others, compassion and empathy is everything. And if someone feels like another person isn’t deserving of that respect, I think it’s more a representation of what they think of themselves rather than what they think of that person.
We all certainly are going to encounter bad people. It’s unavoidable. People who feel like they are too important and perceive themselves as superior, but no one has the right to treat anyone else differently.
I’m not perfect, I have plenty of judgments and hold grudges and assign blame just like anyone else, but I try to see the importance in everyone else. We all have a sense of self and in that way, we are all the center of our own universe. So while you might be the most important person in the world in your mind, someone else is the most important person in their mind.
And that’s the underlying opportunity. In exercising compassion, and being understanding, you can learn to treat others the way you want to be treated, and allow them to feel meaningful and significant beyond their personal experience.
The Hardest Part To Finishing Anything Is Getting Started
We’ve all been there... We’ve made a to do list and didn’t know what to do first. We’ve been inspired to create a business, invest in hobbies, and prioritize our values, but we don’t start. What I’ve found to be true in life is that the most difficult step is the first step, and that the hardest part to finishing anything is starting.
I believe this is because we are hardwired to reject change. Evolutionarily change in our environment signaled uncertainty and was often viewed as a threat, and our brains actively resist change because it is subconsciously perceived as dangerous. This is called "activation energy", the focus and an attention required to get started, and I’ve learned a few things that can help in overcoming it.
First is to have a starting ritual. If you consistently use an affirmation to trigger your behavior it will eventually become automatic. My favorite starting ritual is the 5 Second Rule shared by Mel Robbins. If you want to get yourself to do something, simply countdown from 5 and take off like a rocket at 0.
A second way is to commit to only a fraction of the activity. In "Atomic Habits" James Clear talks about the two minute rule, where you distill the desired activity into a two minute activity, making the task seem much more doable.
And last, if it’s a bigger project or idea and you don’t know where to get started, just take a productive action in any form. Your small action is a commitment that is representative of your larger intentions, and will help you take the next steps. This is something Adam Braun did when building the non-profit Pencils of Promise, putting a $25 deposit down in the hopes he’d raise $10,000+ to build a new school.
The hardest part to finishing anything is getting started, and if you’re inspired to get started on the next chapter of your life and move forward, I'd like to help you out!
Audit Your Environment
Your environment is simply everything around you, the context of your life. What you might not realize is the way your environment may be influencing you in ways you aren’t aware of. If you think of it this way, your environment is rich with different stimuli that trigger you into unconscious behavior patterns. Some of those behaviors are good, many are bad, but in either case it is simply the things around you, your environment, that quietly leads you down that path.
Oftentimes your environment presents itself as circumstance, which is thought to be fixed or determined. But in understanding that your environment and context is dynamic and ever-changing, you realize you can actually manipulate your circumstances to change your life. So let’s start gaining an awareness about our environment by auditing the different environments we live within.
First is your physical environment. The actual space you’re in and where it is geographically. Is it conducive to helping you sleep well, eat healthy, be productive, etc? Then there’s your social environment. Your relationships, who you value in your life, who influences your expectations and standards, and how they support you. And then there’s your energetic environment. Your motivation, alignment, and integrity. How you pursue your values, and your spirituality.
Within the lens of these three environments determine what the ideal is, how you want these environments to contribute to your life, and when you identify a mismatch begin pursuing certain steps to tweak your environment to bridge the gap.
What Are You Working On?
Today I want to ask you a fundamental question, and it’s something I’ve been spending some time asking myself. When it comes to personal development, your self growth, and the person you need to be to make your dreams come true, what are you working on?
Is there a certain skill you need to learn or improve in? A limiting belief that you’re working through? A routine or habit you want to instill? A priority that you no longer want to neglect?
That’s why it’s called personal development, because it requires growth or advancement in certain ways that will create more happiness, fulfillment, joy, and impact in your life. Don’t get me wrong, consuming the content put out by Self Improvement Daily is a great first step because it exposes you to what’s out there and it allows you to reflect and gain self awareness. But in order to really pursue your personal development you need to translate that learning into something actionable. Like a seed that grows toward the sunlight you need to have your destination that you are growing toward.
So I’ll ask you again - What are you working on? And how does that align with who you want to be? To make that actionable a follow up question, "What can you do today to begin making progress?" It doesn’t need to be massive action, but it does need to be something.
Labeling Risk with Kara Goldin
This is an important topic I haven't touched on yet - Taking risks and exploring what "risk" means. Kara Goldin, the CEO and Founder of Hint, a world-leading beverage company has taken many risks in her life and wants to help people understand the nature and implications of risk, rather than just shying away from them.
Her message encourages us to take an independent approach toward risk. What is the upside of the decision, and what does that mean for you? Don’t let other people who feel uncomfortable taking a certain risk influence you and keep you from doing what you want to do. Think for yourself!
"Prove yourself to yourself, not others."
There’s a lot to unpack here with self-love and self-acceptance. I personally have struggled with this topic. Growing up as a kid I was in a very validating environment. For many years I misunderstood who or what I should be working for. Basically, I became dependent on the praise and approval of others in order to measure my own self-worth. It’s hard to see when you’re in it, and that’s why I think this quote is so good because it helps provide some awareness to it.
"Prove yourself to yourself, not others."
Even in the expression “I’m trying to prove myself”... Who are you trying to prove yourself to? If you don’t think highly about yourself then you’ll rely on others to make up the difference. But the problem is it becomes an endless chase of more and more to constantly fill the need of feeling like you’re worthy.
So when you’re caught up in this cycle, of valuing others’ opinions over your own, what do you do? You challenge yourself. You step straight into the fear. The fear that you aren’t enough, that you aren’t worthy, and you show yourself that you are capable. It could be as small as just showing up for yourself at an event, or as big as radically changing something about your life. In order to prove yourself to yourself you need to do something for yourself.
Getting Back On Track
Believe it or not, we all share something about life. For every one of us, things haven’t gone perfectly. Our paths have had a few bumps and turns and re-routes along the way. So what separates those who persevere and those who give up? It’s how they respond to that adversity, and doing what they can in the face of challenges to get back on track.
The first step is to separate from your emotions. Your emotions are really effective at communicating to you how you should feel given certain things, but those emotions also have certain associated responses. In the case of challenge, our emotions tell us to "stop" so that we can preserve ourselves. If you want to get back on track you need to first overcome your emotions.
Then, once you’ve done that you need to take a small action. You are in control of your life and you choose the direction. Take action to set your destination and commit to that positive change. At that point it becomes about consistency. Continuing to show up for yourself and what you want, picking up momentum and making that path a little easier to travel. Once you’ve re-established your baseline, you’re back on track and you can grow from that.
Voice Your Insecurities
Every single person has strengths and weaknesses. We all hold a unique perspective that comes from our own life’s context. We are very different and very similar all at the same time, which is a gift and a curse. In my mind this means two things - We all have something to offer others, and we all need something from others.
Let’s talk about the latter, and getting the support we need. The main reason we don’t get the help we need is because we don’t ask for it. It is uncomfortable to be vulnerable, to share about things that could hurt us, but there’s a wealth of opportunity if we can overcome it. I believe this fear of vulnerability is deeply wired within us as animals that existed in a hierarchy of dominance. But even dogs concede and expose their bellies sometimes, and as humans we can do the same by voicing our insecurities to others.
By sharing openly about your fears, insecurities, and areas you need help in, other people can come in to support you. You cultivate an awareness about a need that you have. What is your weakness is someone else’s strength, what you have little of someone else has a lot of, and resources or knowledge can be allocated appropriately depending on where it needs to go.
This means that support becomes more accessible to those who express that they need it, and voicing your insecurities is your first step in beginning to overcome the challenge you are fearful of facing.
Make A Plan
We all have a million great ideas about the things we want to do. Wake up at 5 am, meditate for half an hour, get a good workout in, get home and get straight to work… you get the picture. I’m just as guilty as anyone on this and sometimes find myself dreaming a little more than doing. This is because it’s so easy to think about doing all of those things, but when it comes to actually doing it, it’s not so easy.
Something that makes all the difference is making a plan. Literally writing out what you’re going to do, in what order, and committing to doing it. This allows you to leverage the motivation you feel the night before, or the morning of, and helps you to actually implement it. This has been game changing for me this Holiday season. I am visiting family away from home and my routine was totally flipped upside down. But my first night in town I took the time to make a plan, establish what I want my routines to be, and even challenged myself a little bit. I cannot reiterate enough how valuable it is to make a decision in advance that instructs you how to behave rather than deciding how to behave in the moment.
This same concept goes for New Years Resolutions. I’m going to lose 30 pounds, I’m going to read 20 books, I’m going to organize my house completely! All sounds good and dandy, but 80% of New Years Resolutions fail. Why? There’s no plan. Make a plan to determine what you need to do in order to create the results you want in your life.
We All Want To Be Liked
No matter what someone says, or does, or means, we all share one thing - We all want to be liked. There’s no shame in it, in fact it’s a very normal thing that sometimes is labeled as bad, and I want to take some time to provide perspective to that.
Starting at the very beginning, being liked is an important survival mechanism. As strong and smart as humans are, back in the day when we had predators it was very important to be a part of a group for your safety. So having a need to be liked by others was actually evolutionarily beneficial because it promoted a behavior of cooperation and assimilation, which then allowed you to be a contributing member of the group.
While the game is different now, we still need to use a similar lens to evaluate if our desire to be liked is maladaptive or if it’s adding value. And that lens is "what need is it satisfying?"
If you want to be liked because you’re compensating for insecurities, or are refusing to acknowledge your truth, then that is more of an unhealthy application of wanting to be liked. That’s because it is addressing your needs in a way that compromises your potentiality through external validation.
If you want to be liked because you want to grow deeper, more intimate relationships with people who challenge you to be better, which facilitates the process of you exploring your truth and potentiality, then that is a more healthy and productive application of wanting to be liked.
In both cases, and just like way back when, this need to be liked is being applied to meet a need. It’s up to you to figure out what need is being met by your desire to be liked by others, and how that contributes to your overall well-being.
"No matter how bad things go you're still ahead of those who aren't trying."
When we put ourselves out there we expose ourselves to the real possibility of coming up short. Naturally, we want to do everything we can to avoid that criticism because it threatens our self-belief and affects our self-esteem. However, with a different perspective we can see more positivity in this circumstance. This is communicated effectively in the following quote: “No matter how bad things go you're still ahead of those who aren't trying.”
The real failure, the real thing to be critical about yourself for, is not trying. As long as you pick up the phone and make that call, walk over to that girl and spit a line, roll out of your covers and put your running shoes on, you are ahead of where you would have been if you didn’t take action. And it’s important to recognize that. Maybe they don’t answer the call, maybe she’s not interested in getting to know you, maybe you only go for a short walk instead of a full workout, you’re still better off because you chose to do something.
Out of this natural tendency to self-preserve we overestimate the worst case scenario, and we let it paralyze us from taking action in any form. But outcomes exist on a spectrum, and if things go bad... I bet they didn’t go all the way bad. And it's important to acknowledge that half of the spectrum is allocated for things going well! But remember, "no matter how bad things go you’re still ahead of those who aren't trying."
Earn It Every Day
Life is good! And I really want you to feel that. Maybe you had a few big wins come through recently, maybe you’re finally getting some recognition for the hard work you’ve been putting in, or maybe you’re finally in a place to dream bigger. It’s important to leverage this momentum to help you keep making forward progress, but don’t rest on your laurels. In order to achieve the life you want you need to earn it every day.
Unfortunately, we often get held up on past accomplishments and identities. We remember how things were and who we were, keeping us from being present in who we are now and what we’re capable of now. I’m all for you being proud of yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can get complacent. The job isn’t done, and holding too tightly on to past successes may be limiting you from accessing your potential today. So it’s important to be mindful of the present moment and understand that there's so much more to build and create around what you’ve already done.
When you are no longer so attached to your past results, and you feel the genuine desire to prove yourself in everything you do, you’ll feel a wave of inspiration that will lift you and guide you. I encourage you to earn it every day, to be validated in the effort you’re putting into it, and not holding on to the successes of the past.
Using Metaphors To Be Creative with Genein Letford
As a leading executive creativity coach, Genein Letford has some really clever ways to help people think outside the box. They’re non-traditional by nature, but that’s what makes them so unique and profound. One of those ways is by encouraging people to use metaphors to approach ideas in a new way.
Let’s try this in real time! Using that "bark on the tree" example... What is the bark to self improvement? I’d say the bark on the tree is like self-belief in self improvement, because when you try new things you can fail, and you need to have the confidence to get back up and try again without discouragement. Try using a metaphor to create new associations onthe next creative project you work on!
One of the most important components to business, relationships, healthcare, just about everything in life, is trust. Having trust is so valuable because it allows you to collaborate in a way that frees up your time and energy to focus on other things. But trust is pretty unconventional in how it exists, it’s not something you can acquire in massive amounts all at once, it is slowly built over time. It’s the culmination of many instances of trust - Consistent, dependable, and reliabiable behavior that enables a deep and genuine trust to form.
As stated in the book “Conscious Capitalism”, there are two overlooked elements of trust. The first is reciprocity. You will not be trusted unless you can trust others, so just like so many things in life you need to be the change you wish to see. The second is transparency. The more things are out in the open and accessible to others, the better you demonstrate that there’s nothing to hide. Being vulnerable and transparent allows you to be an authentic person whose intentions are trustworthy because they are on full display.
Unfortunately, as slow and difficult as it is to cultivate trust, it can be taken away in a moment. Trust is very sensitive in that way, and before taking any actions that might jeopardize the trust you have grown with someone, be sure to think through the consequences and even over-communicate to avoid creating conflict.
Be slow and deliberate about building trust through reciprocity and transparency, and hold onto that trust tightly when you’ve earned it.
What You Appreciate Appreciates
The first time I heard this expression it really stood out to me. What you appreciate, appreciates. There’s two different definitions for appreciate that are important to breakdown before going further. The first definition is the traditional one - To appreciate is to be thankful or grateful for the presence of something in your life. The second definition is more unique - To appreciate is to rise in value or price. So, to bunch those two definitions together - What you are thankful for rises in value.
I think it’s no coincidence that this word has these two meanings because it is a law of the universe, and I can’t emphasize enough, what you choose to be grateful for becomes more evident and prevalent in your life.
With the acknowledgment of gratitude you assign that thing to be more valuable in your life. If that thing becomes a priority and engrains deeply in your belief system, you’ll start engaging in behaviors consistent with that belief. If you start appreciating your family more, you’ll find that you’re starting to act in ways that better represents the relationship you want to have with your family. If you’re grateful for the amount of money you have, you’ll start being more conscious of matters that relate to your financial health and exercise more positive financial habits.
What you appreciate appreciates, and it starts with your choice to assign your energy and attention to what you want to matter in your life, through gratitude.
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
Your gratitude is a gift because it has so much to offer other people. It holds an immense amount of value. Do you remember the last time someone went out of their way to tell you that they genuinely respect and appreciate you? How did that make you feel? Well you hold that opportunity, and can deliver that gift to someone else just by expressing the way you feel.
I’m actually going to go a step further and say this - it’s selfish to hold onto your gratitude. The world needs your love and compassion. Your expressing gratitude to someone else creates an energetic ripple that influences them, and affects their next interactions, which then goes on to affect more people. Gratitude, positivity, and deep appreciation are contagious, but it all needs to start somewhere. You are the epicenter, and if we all individually committed to expressing gratitude more often the world truly would be a better place, I have no doubt about it.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
Grateful in the Now
Being more grateful is something that changed my life, and I really want you to see all of the things happening in your life in this very moment that you have reason to be grateful for.
You’ve heard of the expression “taking things for granted” haven’t you? Well every single day in everything we do we take the subtleties of our life for granted. How we have the power to stand on our own two feet. That we have loved ones to call. That we have running water in our homes and food in our pantry. Gratitude doesn’t always need to be a complex reflection on your blessings, it can also be a simple mindfulness of what is right there in front of you.
So let’s do it right now, in this very moment. What is one thing you’re grateful for? Again, just something that is true for you as it is, that doesn’t necessarily get the credit it deserves. When you’ve identified that thing, I want you to think about what you life would look like if you didn’t have it. If you’re grateful for the feeling of sunshine, what would a completely dark world be like? If you’re grateful for you brother or sister’s health, what would your life be like without that?
The reality is, things very well could be different, and there’s a lot to be grateful for right now as you are, and I encourage you to acknowledge it.
Gratitude as an Action
When I began discovering the power of appreciation I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. The idea of it made sense but I didn’t know the actual, tangible ways to incorporate it into my life. If gratitude is a mindset, which by nature is a very broad perspective toward something, then how do you integrate a new one in a real way? That’s where a practice of taking consistent action comes in, and I want to share a few, real practices I’ve implemented to add gratitude to my life.
First is to say thank you twice a day. Only twice a day. First thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to bed. This is something I learned from David Meltzer. At one point I changed the title of the wake up alarm on my phone to say “Thank You” as a reminder.
Second is through journaling. Every day as part of my morning routine I sit down at my desk and write down 3 things I’m grateful for. This is something I learned from Mike Sherbakov. Again, starting your day with gratitude primes you to see opportunities to be grateful for the rest of the day.
And last, is to set a reminder randomly in the day. At 11:11 am every day I have a phone alarm that goes off, and it’s titled “Humble, grateful, dependable.” This is a tip I learned from Brendon Burchard. When it goes off I take a moment to be mindful of those 3 qualities that I hold as core principles, and to connect with them in a small way.
If you noticed, all 3 of those examples require only 30 seconds of work up front to change your environment and help trigger you to be grateful.
Attitude of Gratitude
This might show how dorky I am, but my favorite Holiday is Thanksgiving. It’s not because I have an excuse to load up on a bunch of food for a day, it’s because for once we are all encouraged to be mindful of the blessings we have. They truly are too many to count, and in spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday I want to focus on one of the most powerful tools we have as humans - gratitude - and how we can harness it to bring immense benefits to our lives.
You’ve probably heard the expression “attitude of gratitude” before. Well being grateful for the circumstances around you is simply a mindset and a choice. When you start choosing to see the reasons you should be grateful, you’ll notice more and more of them start revealing themselves. This is because a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System looks for patterns, and if you focus in on gratitude the Reticular Activating System will work to find more examples of it in the things around you. Eventually, the RAS will become so trained to look for these things that you will just perceive them with more gratitude without any effortful thought.
But this process takes a little bit of time, and needs to be trained by your taking action. So I have a challenge for you. Tell one person from your past - an educator, coach, relative, or friend, who really helped you an important way - tell them that you appreciate the role they played in your life. Your energy will absolutely change theirs, and will begin a cascade of positive change.
You’d be surprised how far one random act of kindness, one expression of gratitude can travel, and I challenge you to give it a try!
How To Get Good Feedback
Something beautiful about our lives and world is that we have the freedom of choice. However with choice comes multiple options to select from, and you don't know the full potential and consequences from certain decisions until they’ve been made. If we want to get better at life, we need to get good at receiving feedback so that we can have more information to make a better decision next time. When it comes to getting good feedback here are a few rules of thumb.
First, don’t ask one person about everything, ask many people about one specific thing. The more narrow and targeted the feedback is the better, because it controls for the circumstances different people are coming from and keep things from getting too complicated. For example if you wrote an article, don’t ask one person “Hey what’d you think?”, instead ask a few different people “What do you think is the core message in this article, and was that clear to you?”
Also, pose questions in a way that are unbiased. There are different ways you can present a question that prompts people to validate a certain thought instead of reflect upon a certain thought. For example, and using the article example again, instead of asking someone “Do you think my article is too long?” you can ask “What do you think about the length of the article?” That way they aren’t primed in any way to respond and you get their genuine feedback, which will ultimately be more useful.
There’s definitely an art to getting good feedback, and these are a few ideas to keep in mind as you go about asking others about their thoughts on different decisions you’ve made.