personal success

Why Your Habits Are Killing Your Success

Did you know that a large part of your success is built on your habits? Yes, pedigree, education, and connections are base ingredients in the broth of your success but habits, specifically bad ones can ruin the recipe.

How? For a number of months I have been struggling

  • …to produce content.
  • …to get out of bed in the morning.
  • maintain the energy necessary to get the work done.
  • …not to lose my mind as my three year old takes a red permanent marker to my Apple keyboard, then my Apple mouse and finally my desk.

Not to mention that my failures were beginning to accumulate, with not even a glimmer of success on the horizon. Was I depressed, no. But I was demoralized and even flirted with dejection.

Tony Robbins, motivational speaker, explains “In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” Robbins is referring to what stimulates you to make a change for the better. And for you, me and anyone else you’re either inspired to change or desperate to change.

I was desperate!

One day I found my way to Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning. Elrod’s entire premise is based on building good habits. And those good habits will eventually begin to produce positive results. Skeptical I read through his book, the Miracle Morning, and committed to Hal’s 30 Day Challenge:

  • Get up early
  • Practice Silence
  • Practice Affirmations
  • Practice Exercise
  • Practice Reading
  • Practice Scribing (AKA Journaling)

I am not done with the 30 day challenge but I feel amazing. I am no longer struggling…

  • …to produce content.
  • …to get out of bed in the morning.
  • …to maintain the energy necessary to get the work done.

And my lovely wife figured out how to get red permanent ink off of my Apple keyboard, then my Apple mouse and finally my desk.

Am I telling you to try the Miracle Morning, yes! Why, because many of us live our lives on automatic so “If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.” -- Tony Robbins. But if you arrest those bad habits and begin to build good ones, you just might get what you have always wanted.

Welcome The Rub

Why do you avoid conflict in your relationships? Is it because you don't want to argue? Or you don't want to be proven to wrong? Or is it something else entirely? Conflict is a necessary ingredient in a relationship -- professional or personal.

I avoided conflict because I want to be liked by everyone. I was a perpetual people pleasure. The issue with that philosophy is if you participate in a relationship where there is never any conflict then how do you grow, learn, reflect and add importance?

Relationships are a gift, but if you want to increase the value of the connection, then you must understand that relationships are not about you. They are about the value you add to the other person. Author, Dale Carnegie has a laundry list of relationship principles, but these four are the most important:

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain about other people.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation of other people.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.

Building quality relationships is one of life's purest pleasures, and your most important responsibility because it's the surest path to your success.

The anti-Hustle Manifesto

Do you hear the subtle dialogue, “You have to hustle!” The whispers are consistent, worse the social pressure of keeping up with your hustle and your day to day is overwhelming. So you overcompensate by skipping meals, stealing hours from your sleep, and embezzling time from your family.

None of it works but you knew this to be obviously true. I know the pressures of the hustle and the fight to maintain the fabrication of a work life balance. Through trial and error, I have succumb to the understanding that work life balance is total bullshit; what you should be striving for is work life synergy.

Whitney English, a serial entrepreneur, wrote this anti-hustle manifesto:

  • I will sit down when I eat.
  • I will slowly ease myself off of caffeine, reserving coffee for social situations instead of everyday life.
  • I will schedule guilt-free nap time.
  • I will admit that I need rest.
  • I will admit that “busy” exhausts me.
  • I will not compare myself to people who seem to be able to scale Kilimanjaro in a single day.
  • I will thoughtfully define what DAILY success means to ME, and I will celebrate achieving it.
  • I will not berate myself for days that I don’t hit that success bar.
  • I will walk to the other room to communicate with my kids and spouse.
  • I will schedule date nights like they are business meetings.
  • I will schedule workouts and walks and will not berate myself if I only get to the gym a few times a month.
  • I will daily do my best, and accept that it is enough.

Here are a few of my own:

  • I will sleep 8.5 hours a day because I must.
  • I will meditate for at least 6 minutes everyday and forgive myself if I don’t.
  • I will do 10 minutes of Yoga three times a week and forgive myself if I don’t.
  • I will journal about gratitude everyday and forgive myself if I don’t.
  • I will drink at least 65 ounces of water each day, this is non-negotiable.
  • I will schedule sex like it's a business meeting.
  • I will schedule a financial date night like it's a board meeting.

This is a well laid anti-Manifesto plan but like any plan, it works best because it works for you. So steal what you want. Add what you want. Remove what does not make sense. The point is to define your synergy -- the give and take in your life. Because your hustle has to be at your pace and as long as you are creeping towards your goal who cares how the other guy is hustling.

Small Deposits Of Time

Author, Andy Stanley explains, in light of your past experiences, your current circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do? Not the right thing to do. Not the legal thing to do. Not even, what is the minimum thing to do.

The question is crafted around an intensive inquiry to expose an unfamiliar answer. Why, because through this lens you will gain a degree of clarity of what you should spend your limited time working on.

I have wasted massive amounts of time on nonsense and in hindsight I wish I could get some of that time back. But that is not an option. What is an alternative is how I spend my time today and going forward. The goal is to not stress out over the lack of time but to purposefully invest small amounts of time over time.

By investing these small deposits of time, over time, on what matters most to you, that builds massive amounts of benefit.


The Daily Practice

Procrastination or in the case of a writer, writer’s block is a fancy label for fear. More specifically anxiety, the voice in your head that paints multiple scenarios on why you are not good enough to succeed. I understand that for you, it’s a paralyze conversation, and you’re not alone in that emotional journey.

I struggle with that voice on a daily basis, what I don’t do is live in that space. There is no value in it. You must create a daily practice of giving your fear the attention it deserves and then letting it go. Why, because eventually your journey will end and it should end remarkably.

The Goal Is Too Big

There is an excitement when you discover a new goal. Your mind races with endless possibilities, huge benefits, and profound impact. So you chart the course, it’s aggressive, but you're confident, and as you are about to set sail — failure. Compounded by setbacks. And like a Greek tragedy, the drama turns to ruin. Your goal did not die because of your moral weakness or inability to cope; it perished because of one tragic flaw — your strategy.

Yes, your goal should be big. It should challenge you and force you to address difficult questions. What the goal is not, is to be managed as a whole. The accomplishment of your goal must be iterative with consistent self-assessment. I have placed this strategy into practice over the past year, and it has allowed me to be surgical with how I address my big goals.

So start small, perhaps a daily practice, that allows you to relish in the small win. Those minor actions are the building blocks of accomplishing any goal.

Who Do You Think You Are?

For the sake of argument, the story you tell has a significant impact on the level of your success. The story, the internal narrative that starts when your lizard brain senses danger will disempower you.

Author and researcher, Brene Brown explains that the story is important because it tells you everything you are afraid of. And I could not agree more with Brown’s statement; I have a fear of publishing my written thoughts. Why, because some random person that I don’t know will proclaim, “Wow your writing sucks!”

And while I should not care what one person says, that is the comment that will initiate the internal narrative, and it drives two tapes:

  • You're not good enough.
  • Who do you think you are?

The tape would feed the seeds of doubt driving me to question the quality of my writing. And that is what many of us do, especially in the creative community. But retreating is not the only option; Brene explains that you must recognize that you have been engaged by the emotion and get curious about it. Ask yourself:

  • What story are you making up?
  • Is it true?
  • What do you need to know more about?

Asking these questions will give you the strategy to rumble with the emotion and come through it with a better understanding of your emotional physiology. And when you can understand the emotional journey, you have the authority to turn a disempowering story into one that empowers you.

The Man In The Arena

We live in a culture where your mediocrity is rewarded by-weekly. Where the monetary gift is just enough to keep you from quitting, and you work hard enough so you won’t be fired.

This is the post industrial philosophy and it’s failing.

I have never been one to appreciate the post industrial mindset, but you have to admit the indoctrination is seductive. A propaganda model that both rewards you for following the rules and penalizes you for not following directions.

But if it’s failing so…

  • Who will lead?
  • What will take its place?
  • Why?
  • Where will you go?
  • How will you get there?

The short answer is you. You now have the authority to define what your life will become. You now stand at the crossroads of mediocrity and remarkable. You need to ask yourself based on your past, present and future conditions, what is the wisest choice? I feel that Theodore Rosevelt illustrates what your wisest choice must be:

”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”

What Is The Wise Thing To Do

Author Andy Stanley asks, ”In the light of your past, current and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?” is an uncomfortably cathartic question. Why, because you spend the better part of your life living in the now and this question forces you to think well beyond your day to day.

Yes, you plan for your next paycheck or your next vacation and even for what you will do after college. But you do little in the way of designing your life.

I wish I had this advice when I was younger; it would have saved me from a lot of regrets. But dwelling in the past will do little to improve the present or future. I have started, using Stanley’s framework in helping me make wise decisions:

  • In light of my past experiences, what is the wise thing to do?
  • In light of my current circumstance, what is the wise thing to do?
  • In light of my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?

I recommend that before you engage in a significant project that you filter your decisions by asking yourself, ”In the light of your past, current and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?”

By taking the opportunity to do this self-analysis, you will give yourself the time necessary to make a wise choice.

The Compromise

The best way to end up mediocre is via small compromises. When was the last time you refused to compromise? When you told yourself that this might not work but you will fail your way to success? It’s a difficult choice to make and an even hard decision to see through because the thought to not compromise is not a modern philosophy.

I used to think that I was working on being remarkable until I realized that the better part of my life as been a compromise:

  • I compromised my career because what I wanted to be was too hard.
  • I compromised my writing because I was told it was not good enough.
  • I compromised experiences that would stretch me because my friends laughed.
  • I compromised surrounding myself with smarter people because of my insecurities.

Compromising is the surest path to mediocrity; it the safe thing to do. But what if you took a stand? What if you said, ”No more compromises. This stops now.” Where would that new found courage deliver you? Start with a small project that scares you and tell yourself that it might not work.

By doing so, you allow yourself to approach your project with a beginner's mindset. The best way to end up being remarkable is via small (un)compromises.

Father's Day Post -- A Father Forgets

I remember when I first became a father, it was December 9, 2008. I was all kinds of emotional mess — happy, sad, depressed, excited, horrified and genuinely confused. Then I was a father for a second time and those familiar emotions resurfaced. Do you remember the first time you became a father? Were you on a similar emotional roller coaster?

That is particularly the case, as your new life attempts to define the new standard. And all your well-laid plans become meaningless. I have tried to be the best dad ever but to be honest I have failed because life takes over and there is always something more important to do:

  • that new work project
  • your side hustle
  • the honey do list
  • that social engagement

And before I knew it I was too busy to spend time with my boys. I became a master at "later,"not now,"I am tired" and the crowning jewel "I am busy."

It was not until I was doing reach for my manifesto that I ran into the poem Father Forgets, by W. Livingston Larned. The poem forced me to remember what is import in your life as a father -- your boys, your girls, your child.

So Happy Father's Day to you and please accept this is a small gift from me. I hope that it reminds you of why you need never to forget that you are a father, first.

Father Forgets

Listen Son, I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little hand crumpled under your cheek and blonde curls sticky over your wet forehead. I have broken into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guilty, I came to your bedside.

There are things which I am thinking, son; I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face a mere dab with the towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. As you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy!" I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!".

Then it began all over again late this afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your socks. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Socks were expensive, and if you had to buy them you would be more carrel! Imagine that son, from a father.

Do you remember later, when I was reading in the library, how you came timidly, with sort of a hurt look in your eyes? I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption; you hesitated at the door. "What is it that you want?" I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, your small arms tightened with affection that God had set blooming in your heart, which even neglect could not wither. Then you were gone, pattering up the stairs. Well, Son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me.

What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, or reprimanding; this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you: it was that I expected too much of you. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years. There is so much that was good, fine and true in your character. The little heart of yours was as big as the dawn itself over the hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else mattered tonight. Son, I have come to your beside in the darkness, I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know that you would not understand these things which I have told you in the waking hours. Tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: ”He is nothing but a boy--a little boy.” I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, Son, crumpled and weary in your bed. I see that you are still a baby.

Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much!

Instead of condemning and criticizing others, perhaps we it would be better to try to understand them, to try to figure out why they do what they do. That's a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness, rather than contempt...!!!

Source Link: Spokane Falls Community College

Everything is Different Now

The obligation of how you must live your life has nearly disappeared. In this new economy, you have the opportunity to pursue various interests in search of your passion. But for all the possibilities that sit at your feet, the freedom can also be overwhelming.

”So what breaks your heart?” This is a question that, author, Andy Stanley asked in one of his leadership podcasts. And it was a question that allowed me to drown out the noise. What breaks your heart forced me to understand what value I wanted to add to others.

Take a few minutes, today, and let Stanley’s question marinate. Once done, write down your answers and make a plan to explore them. It’s your responsibility to find your purpose and to see your life as an opportunity.

Ten Year Plan Is Stupid

"Where do you see yourself in ten years?" is fundamentally an unintelligent question. I have found that people who ask this question are under a false assumption that the question decisively provides evidence of your future level of success. It does not.

I spent the better part of my life thinking that there was something wrong with me. Why, because I could never intelligently answer the question, so I made shit up:

  • I will be a lawyer.
  • I will be a teacher.
  • I will be a doctor.

I misspent a large amount of time and energy pursuing, "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" But was it a waste or part of my overall journey to success? Les Brown, a motivational speaker, explains that you will fail your way to success. So I am confident that I needed to fail before finding my vision. My passion.

And in all honesty, the only way you will find your vision is through the journey. I would suggest to break with convention and focus on what breaks your heart. I have found that strategy helped me find focus on my mission. Once you have identified your vision, develop a one-year strategy, then a six-month strategy, then a three-month strategy, then a one-month strategy, and finally a week strategy.

Then write down 7 action items that you must take every day to achieve your vision. Do this daily and then analyze how far you have come in six months and then again at 12 months. Start this process immediately and instead of focusing on your ten-year plan, focus on your ten-year commitment to achieving your vision.

The Work

It’s so easy to give up. All you need to do surrender to the circumstances that surround you; to the daily distractions of your life. And just like that you are part of what Chris Guillebeau calls the Unremarkably Average.

You know what I am talking about:

  • You spend more time on Facebook than doing the work.
  • You spend more time criticizing than doing the work.
  • You spend more time coming up with excuses than doing the work.
  • You spend more time planning for the work than doing the work.

You have a limited amount of energy. You have a limited amount of time. And when these precious resources are gone… they are gone. I have lived with the regret of wasting too much energy and time because I thought there will always be tomorrow. But here is the rub, tomorrow is not a guarantee.

You and only you shoulder the responsibility of getting the work done. You must take the awesome responsibility to fight for what you want because no one will do it for you. You must begin today without equivocation to do the work that will allow you to become the person you have envisioned.

Building Your Unique Selling Proposition

Are you valuable? Are you adding value to others? Are others seeking you out to work with you? No? Then why? For me, it was the fact that I was spending significant time on people and experiences that did not add value to me. Essentially, I was unintentional about my growth. If you want to improve your unique selling proposition, you must be intentional about your growth.

If you are game then here is the plan:

  • Be in the best shape of your life - mentally, physically, spiritually and financially.
  • Spend twenty hours a week woking on an income producing project.
  • Give a speech a week to local organizations.
  • Write daily articles about something that breaks your heart.
  • Record a weekly podcast about something that breaks your heart.
  • Volunteer for a cause that breaks your heart.
  • Read a book a week that solves your problem.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Self-publish a book on Amazon.
  • Become a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.
  • Run a marathon.
  • Get and stay around people that are smarter, more successful and wealthier than you.

If you do this for 18 months, image how significantly different your life will appear? Will you be valuable? Will you add value to others? Will others seek you out to work with you?


This Might Not Work

When you are looking at starting a new project what is your first reaction? Is it, "It's too difficult so why bother?" Is that how you think of all new projects? Don't be afraid of saying yes -- it's how I use to think.

That became my habit, always sabotaging the new project even before I gave it any effort. I allowed what author Steven Pressfield calls; Resistance to derail the survivability of any creative endeavor. After lots of trial and error, I began to understand to manage Resistance I needed to dance with it.

I needed to get comfortable with failure, and the only way to do that was to repeat, "This might not work," before every project. Repeating that statement allowed me to get comfortable with the possibility of failing.

The new attitude allowed me to approach each project as play. I began to see failure as an opportunity for improvement through self-analysis. This process allowed me to scrutinize my expectations against what happened. And what lies between those two points is the success gap.

Author John C. Maxwell explains, "The success gap is the distance that lies between an unsuccessful life and a successful one." Or in this case an unsuccessful project and a successful project.

So the next time you begin a new project tell yourself, "This might not work." Then leverage that new attitude to make your ideas happen.

At The End

At the end of your life, you want to know that you mattered. That you not only added value to the lives of the people closest to you but to complete strangers.

But instead of dying on empty you will die with a heart full of regret. I have those regrets today, and it terrifies me to think that if today is my last day, I have done little to matter. So I am refusing to live with the cloud of regret shadowing my every move.

Every evening before bed ask yourself:

  • Did I matter today?
  • Did I love, openly?

You must be intentional about your actions and not a pedestrian. You must be self-aware enough to understand where you want to go. Once you have locked in on that destination, ask yourself what skills do you need to master so you can successfully navigate to the destination.

Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.
— Jim Rohn

How do you master a skill? Read. Study books that solve problems you have and then educate someone on how to address that problem. By teaching yourself and others to solve problems, you will become more valuable. And at the end of your life, you get to say I did matter.

Choices and Success

Your definition of success is different than mine. Why? Because success is about being who you want to be. Doing what you want to do and going where you want to go. Those are your choices and those decisions are as unique as you. In fact, you are who you are because of those choices.

Unfortunately, that range of possibilities is also what defines your level of success. Why, because the choices you make are not created in a silo. They are influenced by a tapestry of key individuals like, mom, dad, friends and teachers. Their impact on you is embedded into the DNA of your decision making process.

For me, my choices were standard; go to college, get a job, be a good employee, get married, and have kids. In large part, those possibilities where predefined by the key individuals in my life. But there was an undeniable pressure inside of me that wanted more. Wanted no regrets. Wanted to die on empty.

But how do you divorce the internal narrative that peppers any deviation from the normal, with self-sabotage, self-deception and self-corruption?

You change your standard. I found three strategies that are helping me raise my standards:

1. Read books that solve your problems.
Books are treasures of information. You must focus on the books that solve your problems. Why? Because you become what you consistently focus on and take action on.

2. Get around individuals that are more successful than you.
You are the sum total of the five people you surround yourself with. So if you want to raise your standards, surrounding yourself with individuals who are more successful, understand your struggles and are willing to help you, is critical.

3. Set one overarching Goal then support it with twenty ideas.
Goal setting is important but it's also misemployed. More times than not you try accomplishing too much too fast and you get frustrated so you never accomplish anything. I use Daniel Ally's, millionaire mentor, strategy -- "20 Idea Method:"

  • Create one overarching goal.
  • List 20 supporting ideas.
  • Now create your 1 year and 3 year plans.

And do you need to wait until New Years? No! You need to start now. Because for every day you procrastinate that is another day you will regret.