More Energy And Bigger Results

Want More Energy And Bigger Results? Stop Asking “HOW” And Start Asking “WHO”

“Focus on WHO instead of HOW” — Dean Jackson

There’s a famous story of Edwin C. Barnes, who in 1905 had no money or expertise. However, he was an ardent fan of the inventor, Thomas Edison.

Barnes wanted to become business partners with Edison. He knew that if he became partners with Edison, there would be no limits on what he could accomplish. He took a freight train to New Jersey and walked straight to the Edison Laboratory.

He was wearing musty and scrappy clothes and told Edison he wanted to go into business with him. Edison was impressed by the boldness and made Barnes a floor sweeper.

During the next few years, Barnes did far more than expected of him for little pay. He also paid close attention to Edison, getting a sense of how he thought and what his goals were.

After years of working on his dictating machine — what later became known as the Ediphone that recorded “voice letters” on a wax cylinder — Edison wanted to commercialize it. He loved the invention but none of his staff saw much marketability in it.

Barnes, however, thought the machine was brilliant and saw a huge potential market. He made a marketing plan for how he intended to sell the machines throughout America and shared the plan to Edison. He sought payment only on the success he created himself.

Edison liked what he saw and accepted Barnes’ proposal. Within a short period of time, Barnes had sold thousands of machines and even had to create his own company to handle the demand. While things were growing dramatically, Barnes became known for hiring great people to help him market and distribute Edison’s machine. He didn’t see himself as a boss, but more of a coach and a partner to all of his employees.

Barnes quickly became a millionaire, which back then meant a lot more than it means now. He developed a unique collaboration and partnership with Thomas Edison that became a long-term and highly lucrative relationship.

Barnes didn’t have a plan.

Instead, he had a person.

He had someone he wanted to work with and help.

He didn’t have a HOW. Barnes had a WHO.


Don’t Ask HOW

When most people have goals, they immediately begin thinking about HOW. Billionaires immediately begin thinking about WHO.

The public school-system does not teach people to become WHO-thinkers and collaborators. Instead, the school system teaches people how to become HOW-thinkers, equipped with a seemingly endless amount of generalized skillsets.

Rather than looking for OTHERS to work with, kids are taught to compete against others and look for right answers. There is basically zero training on developing mentorships, collaborations, partnerships, teamwork, and leadership. Even as a PhD student, I’ve been surprised how generalized my education has been. Rather than working with specific WHO’s, my whole education has been a non-stop flow of HOW’s.

Dan Sullivan is the founder of Strategic Coach and has coached more successful entrepreneurs than anyone alive. According to Sullivan, when a person shifts from HOW to WHO, their goals immediately become national or global. Their thinking expands at least 10 to 100 times bigger, because they aren’t the one figuring out the HOW. Someone else already has that taken care of.

According to Sullivan, the entrepreneurs who want to reach 100X or bigger influence and income realize they must collaborate with their competition. The best collaborations are when a idea-generator teams up with a distributor of ideas. This is what happened with Edison and Barnes. Edison had the idea and Barnes took the idea to the masses.

Becoming A WHO-Thinker

“Your network is your net worth.” — Tim Sanders

Most people’s goals are based on HOW. According to Dan Sullivan, thinking about the HOW is daunting and leads to procrastination. Instead of asking HOW, a much better question is WHO.

WHO do you want to learn from?

WHO is already doing what you want to be doing?

WHO is where you want to be?

WHO fascinates and/or inspires you?

WHO do you want to collaborate with?

WHO do you want to help? According to bestselling author Jeff Goins, “Success isn’t about who you know. Success is about who you help.”

There is a clear transition that people make as their vision for themselves advances. They stop thinking in terms of “I do this.” Instead, they shift to either “They do this” or “We do this.”

“They do this” is where you begin thinking bigger about yourself and your time. You realize that when you’re operating in your super-power, your time can actually be worth a lot of money. Therefore, you begin outsourcing and delegating the stuff you dislike about your work to other people and focus only on that which you love. Said YouTuber Casey Neistat, “What is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate.”

It may seem scary to begin hiring or outsourcing before you feel ready. But the moment you begin doing it, you’ll never look back. The extra time and also the increased rate of happiness and productivity will more than 10X for you, justifying the cost.

“We do this” is a special place held for only those collaborations that make absolute sense to you. This is where you want to start thinking really big about the WHO’s you want into you life. This is what Dan Sullivan was talking about when he said you want to collaborate with your “competition.”

And by the way, competition doesn’t exist for people who know who they are. Competition doesn’t exist for people who trust themselves enough to know they can create continual Blue Ocean’s for themselves, regardless of the situation.

Competition doesn’t exist for people who are abundant WHO-thinkers, because rather than trying to steal the whole pie, abundant WHO-thinkers recognize that:

  • The pie doesn’t belong to them, but to the Universe
  • The pie is not finite, but infinite
  • Nor is the “game” finite, but infinite
  • The more of the pie you can give away, the bigger it gets for you
  • Relationships are the most important currency in the world
  • It’s better to give the piece of pie on your plate to the right person and you’ll quickly get plates back with even bigger pieces

Give Your Piece Away To The Right Person (Even If It’s Your Favorite Flavor)

“Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker.” — Joe Polish

Regarding the last point in the bullet above, I recently had the opportunity to co-author a book with one of the SHARKS from the TV show Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington. Several months ago, Kevin’s CEO, Mark Timm, heard me give a talk at a mastermind and felt good about me. He didn’t know what we would do together, but felt like something important was going to happen.

During my first meeting with Mark, I told him the only thing that made sense for me was co-authoring a book with Kevin. I’d been looking for opportunities to co-author books with people at far different stages in their life and career than I’m at.

Within a few days, I got a text message from Mark, “Kevin’s onboard. He loves the idea!”

For the next two months, I worked back-and-forth with my agent on a book proposal. Then, something deep inside me began to feel wrong, like I wasn’t the guy for this job. But at the same time, I knew this was potentially a career-altering opportunity.

In the midst of all of this, I heard back from Dan Sullivan, my dream mentor and the founder of Strategic Coach that he’d also like to co-author a major book with me.

According to Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Workweek:

“The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is boredom.”

“Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.”

“Remember — boredom is the enemy, not some abstract ‘failure.’”

I realized that, although a golden opportunity, I wasn’t as excited about the Kevin Harrington book. It had becoming a complex and messy situation. But even more, I just felt like something was amiss. I ended-up getting on the phone with Mark to discuss why the project was beginning to stall when it had so much momentum. I began to explain why the situation was getting complex to me and then the idea hit me, “Mark, you should be the co-author of this book!”

I heard nothing for 10 seconds.

“You know what,” he said, “This feels really right. But who would write it? Would you still write the book? I want you to continue being involved on this project.”

“No,” I told him, “I have someone way better at writing than me who can take care of this for you.”

I ended-up linking them with a friend who has a company that specializes in writing books exactly like this. The connection worked-out perfectly. I was able to make the pie a lot bigger for Mark and Kevin. I didn’t need to eat that particular pie with them. I didn’t need to hold that opportunity tightly from a scarcity perspective. I gave that piece away. And now my relationship with them will last long-beyond this one project anyways. This was the right way to go for this project. Mark was the right name on that book. I wasn’t going to get in the way of that.

Billionaire Richard Branson said, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” When you have an abundance mentality, and your focus is on giving more than taking, you realize that endless buses are coming filled with endless pieces of pie.

When you operate from abundance, you develop powerful relationships with powerful people and you never run out of opportunities in “The Gig Economy” of which we are now a part. Operating from abundance means you’re humble, people trust and like you, and you’re a master of your craft. When this is the case, you will never run out of gigs in the gig economy.

Never forget the important words of Jim Collins from Good To Great when he said, “It takes discipline to say ‘No, thank you” to big opportunities. That fact that something is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” is irrelevant if it doesn’t fit.”

“Stay Scrappy” (Words Of Wisdom From A Very Wise And Humble Man)

Bestselling author Jeff Goins has some really important stuff to say about saying “No” to the wrong opportunities.

According to Jeff there’s a huge difference between people who try to look sophisticated and people who remain scrappy. As he said:

“Sophisticated” people are highly concerned about their image. They care about accolades, recognition, and appearance. In reality, these people look better than they actually are. Sophisticated people really care what others think and tend to compare and compete. They don’t have a sense of their own work and are willing to do whatever has worked for others.

Conversely, scrappy people are far more concerned about the work. They let their work speak for itself. These people are better than they look. Scrappy people stay in their lane. They’re confident in who they are and don’t compare themselves to others.

We live in an age where people really really want to look sophisticated. I’ve seen this so many times. A writer gets their first couple thousand email subscribers and all-of-a-sudden they are now the expert selling courses on the subject. And of course, they are taking all of the credit for their own success.

The words of entrepreneur and strategist, Michael Fishman are instructive:

“Self-made is an illusion. There are many people who played divine roles in you having the life that you have today. Be sure to let them know how grateful you are.”

In the book Give and Take, Adam Grant explained that successful people GIVE others credit while unsuccessful people TAKE the credit. Who wants to have a relationship with someone who takes all the credit? Who wants to have a relationship with someone who isn’t appreciate and grateful and giving?

Those seeking sophistication either wanted fame and notoriety in the first place or they have completely forgotten WHY they were doing their work. Either way is a short-term approach to life and a death-sentence for developing long-term and important relationships.

Create A List Of “Dream Mentors”

When the WHY is strong enough, you’ll figure out WHO!

When the WHO is exciting enough, you’ll figure out HOW!

—Benjamin Hardy’s adaptation of the quote by Bill Walsh

In the book, The Third Door, Alex Banayan tells the story of how he met and learned from people like Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg, and others.

Alex was clearly a WHO-thinker. Rather than deciding specifically what he wanted to do, instead he thought of WHO he wanted to learn from. Once he decided WHO, then he began getting very creative about HOW he would connect with those people.

Alex was particularly inspired by Elliot Bisnow, the founder of Summit & co-owner of Powder Mountain Resort in Eden, Utah. Alex wrote down on a piece of paper:

DREAM MENTORS:

He listed Elliot Bisnow and spent the next several hours composing an email to Elliot. He said exactly what he needed to say in that email and got a meeting, which turned into a mentorship.

In their first interview, Elliot gave Alex some “ground-rules” for developing powerful relationships with people:

  1. Never use your phone in a meeting. It “makes you look like a chump.” The more digital the world gets, the more impressive it is to use a pen. And it’s also just rude to be on your phone.
  2. Act like you belong. Walk into a room like you’ve been there before. Don’t gawk over celebrities. Be cool. Be calm. Never ever ask someone for a picture. If you want to be treated like a peer, you need to act like one. Fans ask for pictures; peers shake hands.
  3. Mystery makes history. When you’re doing amazing stuff, don’t post it on Facebook. No one actually changing the world posts everything they do online. Keep people guessing what you’re up to. Plus, the people you’re going to impress by posting stuff online are not the people you should care about impressing.
  4. Never, ever, go back on your word. If I tell you something in confidence, you need to be a vault. What goes in does not come out. This goes with your relationships with anyone from this day forward. If you act like a vault, people will treat you like a vault. It will take years to build your reputation but seconds to ruin it.
  5. Adventures only happen to the adventurous.

Who Are Your Dream Mentors?

Who are your dream mentors?

Who are the people who are WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?

Who are the people who fascinate and inspire you?

Who are the people you want to learn from?

Joe Polish, the founder of Genius Network and arguably the most connected man in business, has a list of “rules” that he expects of those whom he interacts with. He calls it his “Magic Rapport Formula.” The principles of his formula are:

  • Focus on how you will help them reduce their suffering
  • Invest time, money, and energy on relationships
  • Be the type of person they would always answer the phone for
  • Be useful, grateful, and valuable
  • Treat others how you would love to be treated
  • Avoid formalities, be fun and memorable, not boring
  • Appreciate people
  • Give value on the spot
  • Get as close to in-person as you can

If you combine Elliot Bisnow’s rules with Joe Polish’s formula, you have a potent cocktail for developing relationships and mentorships with just about anyone.

You don’t need to be the best in the world at what you do. You simply need to get the job done. You need to be able to help your DREAM MENTOR in a powerful and compelling way. Remember Edwin Barnes from the beginning of this article? He didn’t have much by way of expertise. He just had a definite desire to work for Edison.

Wait, no. He wanted more than just to work for Edison. He wanted to be Edison’s parter. He wanted to collaborate with Edison. And of course, he did. It took a little time, but he built rapport and then seized a powerful moment by making it all about Edison’s success and goals.

A Fast And Powerful Way To Get Noticed

Being mentored by your heroes is one thing. But collaborating with your heroes is something entirely different. Sure, shooting emails back and forth, or even getting an interview with famous people is cool.

But developing an actual partnership with a DREAM MENTOR will require that you have something very powerful to bring to the table.

Barnes brought intense enthusiasm and then used that to take Edison’s ideas out into the world. Barnes was what Jeff Goins’ would call “scrappy.” He just wanted to do the work. He got better and better and better at what he did.

If you already have a pre-existing capability, all the better. As Dan Sullivan has explained, the best collaborations are when a creator and distributor come together to take both where neither could go on their own.

WHO is someone you want to partner with?

DREAM BIG HERE! Think really really big.

WHO do you want to learn from?

WHY this person?

Once you have the answer to those two questions, all you need to do is get to work. As Bill Walsh wisely said, “When the why is strong enough you’ll figure out how!”

The HOW will only take care of itself when you have the proper WHO and WHY in place.

The WHO is the first question you need to answer. The WHY must be powerful for selecting that particular person.

Write it down on paper.

Write down WHO you want to work with.

Write down WHY you want to learn from and/or work with them.

Then, and only then, begin writing down HOW you plan to develop the connection. That connection should be built on the basis of service to their goals. In most cases, you’re better-off doing more front-end work than Barnes did for Edison. Although sometimes your spirit and enthusiasm may be enough, in today’s hyper-connected world, people in high places are getting more requests than they know what to do with.

You need to make yourself stick out. If you approach them AFTER:

  • you’ve already been supporting their work in powerful ways
  • it’s clear to them you know what you’re talking about
  • you’re proposing ways you can help them achieve their goals without much work or effort on their part

THEN you’ve got a really really good shot at developing incredible partnerships with your DREAM MENTORS.

Be So Good That You Can’t Be Ignored

“If a thing is done well, no one will ask how long it took to do it, but only who did it.” — John Taylor

All of this is a lot easier if you already have developed expertise at something. Cal Newport explains the importance of being “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”

If you understand relationships and if you’re an abundant person… PLUS you’re already really really good at what you do, then it becomes easy to get mentored by and work with nearly anyone you want. If you have rare skills and abilities, you can use those skills abundantly to HELP the people you want to work with. Even more, you can also establish immediate credibility.

Jeff Goins is right about the difference between being “sophisticated” and “scrappy.” Yes you can work with just about anyone if you really want to. But WHY? Is it to make yourself look good? Is it to fuel your ego and pride?

Dan Sullivan says it only takes him a few minutes with a person for him to feel their core motivation, whether that be growth or greed.

If your focus is on growth, giving, and continuing to do the work you love, then partnering with DREAM MENTORS will only catapult you further. But beware of what Jeff Goins calls “The Dark Side Of Success.” It’s very easy to lose your way and forget your WHY when even a little bit of success comes your way.

And if you truly dedicate yourself to becoming SO GOOD YOU CAN’T BE IGNORED, you will become successful. Becoming successful isn’t rocket-science. It’s about serving a specific audience in a way that is highly useful. It’s about developing skills and using them to benefit others.

It’s never been easier to learn and develop skills. We have access to a global world with endless information and connection. We also have distribution channels that allow us to get our work and products viewed by millions of target audiences for either free or really cheap.

Developing mastery is easier than staying clear on your values and WHY after mastery has been developed. Follow Jeff Goins’ advice to stay scrappy no matter how “successful” you become. Always be better than you look. Stay humble and grateful in your relationships and people will love you.

Always make the pie bigger for people. And when you shift your focus from HOW to WHO, you’ll immediately begin thinking 10X or 100X bigger.

Life – Increase Your Satisfaction and Contentment

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

How to Increase Your Satisfaction and Contentment (upgrade from “worried” to peaceful)

“You can accomplish tremendous things in your remaining years if you will design them before you live them.” -Jim Rohn

I only have 17,374 days left to live.

After calculating the average life span of men from my country, with all available medical history of my genetics, my approximate “last day” is around 17,374 days from now.

Then I’ll die.

This “death clock” idea has become popularized in recent years; some individuals have even placed their countdown on their computer screens, to remind them that life is short. This reminds me of a line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest by the character Prospero: “Every third thought shall be my grave.”

That might be a bit much. But contemplating my eventual demise hasn’t felt like a disturbing, morbid cloak that suffocates me; it’s made me feel bright and spritzy. I feel lighter than ever.

Here’s the first thing I’ve realized:

Most of What We Do Doesn’t Matter

“I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.” -Tim Ferriss

Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby ($100 million dollars in sales), once described an important lesson he learned riding his bike in Los Angeles:

I lived right on the beach in Santa Monica, where there’s this great bike path that for 25 miles. I’d go onto the bike path and push it — just red-faced huffing, all the way, pushing it as hard as I could, and I’d set my timer. I noticed it was always 43 minutes.

“But then I thought, ‘Why don’t I just chill? For once, I’ll go at half my normal pace.’ I went on the same bike ride, and I noticed that I was standing up, looking around more. I looked into the ocean. I noticed a pelican flying above me. It was purely pleasant. There was no red face, there was no huffing. And when I got back to my usual stopping place, I looked at my watch, and it said 45 minutes. And I thought, ‘There’s no way.’”

“All that huffing and puffing and all that red face was only for an extra 2 minutes. It was basically for nothing.

Photo by Jonny Kennaugh on Unsplash

Most of your frantic commutes through traffic, yelling into your phone, and breathless rushes between appointments are for things that, frankly, don’t really matter.

The truth is, most of what we do in modern society doesn’t truly matter. Not that our lives are pointless; it’s that we rarely create truly beautiful things, or practice our art in its purest, cleanest form.

No — more likely we’re meeting marketing deadlines so we can sell more stuff. Most of us aren’t inventing the cure for Lupus, we’re editing our email to our boss. We’re not hyper-focused on our lover’s opal-colored eyes over dinner, we’re posting another picture of our food.

All this red-faced huffing is basically for nothing. Want to increase your contentment and joy? Be be kinder to yourself. It might sounds silly, but relax more. Giggle at your partner’s sexy nose crinkle when she smells something funky. Try to figure out if there’s any object in the world with precisely the same orange hue as tonight’s sunset.

Eminem had a lyric that always resonated with me: “I bully myself, cause I make me do what I put my mind to,” he snarled. Amen, I’d say with a clenched fist in the car. If I want results, I can’t afford to take breaks.

In the past year, I’ve changed my mind. There’s a season for work-hard-all-day, I get it. I’ve been there. But I can achieve almost my goals and still be kind to myself, and increase my joy and peace instead of running on 100% adrenaline as I imagine my darkest fears coming true.

Most of what we do doesn’t matter. Focus on what does, and stop taking yourself so seriously.

“Busyness” is a Disease That Needs to Be Cured

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness: Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” -Tim Krieder

Whenever I talk to an old friend or colleague and ask them how they’ve been, the answer is almost always some form of, “So busy.” “Really busy.” “Crazy-busy.”

As Tim Krieder wrote in his essay “The Busy Trap,” this answer is pretty obviously a boast disguised as a complaint. We like being busy. It makes us feel important, needed. We can’t have an empty life if we’re busy, right?

Actually, we can. Busyness consumes your remaining days and years, leaving you with nothing but the sinking feeling that it’s all going by too fast. It’s busyness that makes us think, “Wasn’t my daughter just learning to talk yesterday?” at her 10-year birthday party. It’s busyness that makes you dread your own 40th birthday party.

Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

Often times, we’re busy to avoid the very thing we most need to do. If I’m caught up in email replies, I have a small reprieve from the anxiety about an upcoming meeting with an intimidating person. Same goes for checking my bank account that I know needs looking at or having a hard conversation with my wife.

Busyness is not a badge of honor (though most people treat it like one). It’s not proof you’re important; it’s proof you’re lazy. Busyness is a type of laziness; it means you didn’t set boundaries for your time and couldn’t say “no” when you should’ve.

Busyness is a disease. It distracts you from what’s really important and gives you an excuse to avoid the real work.

The most successful performers in the world aren’t “busy,” they’re focused. The busy person performs many tasks with minimal results; the focused person performs few tasks with incredible results.

When I was teaching English in South Korea with my wife, I had made the commitment to focus solely on my writing. Once I did, I was assailed by a sudden influx of (lucrative) opportunities — private tutoring, basketball coaching, freelance gigs, drumming at a local church, etc. I could’ve become “very busy” very quickly.

But I said no to all of them. I committed to my writing. By the end of the year, I had started a viable personal business making thousands of dollars, seeing tens of thousands of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of views.

This is the result of being focused.

Busyness is simply a type of laziness. If you do not set boundaries for your time, the endless stream of requests and chores to do will own you.

Design Your Environment or Become a Victim of It

“If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.” -Marshall Goldsmith

Even the most effective, elite performers in the world have a hard time doing what they need to do if they’re in a bad environment.

Our environment enables (or disables) you to do what you’re trying to do. It’s practically impossible to be disciplined and consistent in an environment that actively encourages you not to.

This was another huge lesson I learned after moving to South Korea. Back in California, I had gotten nowhere with my writing. I was fat, lazy, bored, and instead of staying home writing, my wife and I were growing our beer bellys and breweries and burger joints. There was always something to do (besides work).

In Korea, there were no craft beer bars. We weren’t invited out to dinner and drinks anymore. It was school during the day and chicken breast with bell peppers at night.

The environment enabled massive growth for my writing. I started posting every day, and in a 6 month period, I gained 20,000+ new email subscribers. My writing quality increased mightily. I started selling an online course that made me thousands of dollars. I launched another one making me thousands more.

In the words of national best-selling author and financial guru Dave Ramsey:

“I had to quit telling myself that I had innate discipline and fabulous natural self-control. That is a lie. I have to put systems and programs in place that make me do smart things.”

I’m not a paragon of grit and discipline; even if I was, it would help only minimally. Even the most talented and disciplined people in the world have a hard time following their own advice.

That’s why your environment is so important. It enables even the most inexperienced amateur to achieve consistency and enormous, never-before-seen results.

You don’t need to travel overseas to enter a better environment. But you do need to change your current one if you want more satisfaction and less worry.

In Conclusion

I suppose it’s possible that I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting I hadn’t written more, didn’t wake up early enough, or worked harder and made more money.

But I think what I’ll really wish is that I played just one more round of Halo Reach with Drew, played one more pick-up basketball game with Jeff and Grant, one last belly-laugh with Rebecca.

Life is too short to be busy.

“The largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose.” Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Life – Right Way to Restore a Relationship

The Right Way to Restore a Relationship (lessons from 15 years of burning bridges)

I’ve burned a lot of bridges.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve burned a lot of bridges.

I’ve done a lot of hurtful things, said hurtful stuff, and was a complete asshole to many people I loved, who loved me back and deserved better. I have to live with that for the rest of my life.

At times, I still marvel at how stupid I was. How conceited and profoundly self-absorbed I was. And how I didn’t even see it.

But in the process, I’ve learned how to restore those relationships (some of them, at least. Some people still won’t talk to me).

Years of a severe pornography addiction left me frozen as an immature, whiny brat who would never take responsibility for his actions. It took 5 years of gut-wrenching therapy and brutally honest sponsors in 12-step programs to learn how to truly apologize and restore relationships I broke.

That’s what this post is about: how to restore broken relationships that were broken by you.

Because whether I like it or not, I have major experience with that.

It’s Your Fault. Shut Up and Admit It.

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe

When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:

Always make the first move.

The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you want them to).

A lot of people have shallow, even ruined relationships. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize. This is a pride thing; it’s a weakness, and it destroys relationships.

If you want to restore a broken relationship into an incredible one…make the first move.

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

I can’t forget a certain day in 3rd grade. It was during recess.

There was this girl Sandra in my class. She was nice. Both of us were trying to grab one of the few soccer balls from the ball barrel, and I remember accidentally tripping her as I grabbed one.

She fell on the floor. Angry tears welled up in her eyes. I can still remember the look of shock and humiliation on her face.

I should’ve said I was sorry.

I should’ve helped her up. I probably should’ve given her the ball, too.

But I didn’t. I just ran off, leaving her on the floor.

After recess, Mrs. Salinas pulled me and Sandra outside.

Anthony, did you push Sandra onto the floor at recess?” she demanded in disbelief.

I denied it. It wasn’t my fault, I reasoned. It was an “accident.” I didn’t meanto! I wasn’t willing to take responsibility.

Mrs. Salinas forced me to apologize.

Sandra never talked to me again.

Here’s a lesson that took several dozen times to finally stick:

If you did something wrong, shut up and admit it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame someone else. Even if it was an accident — even if you didn’t mean to — that doesn’t matter. If you want to restore a broken relationships, be the first to own what you did.

Otherwise, your relationships will always be strained and mediocre.

The Most Important Lesson About Relationships I Learned From a 12-Step Program

The day after I quit my corporate job before I left to teach English overseas, I published an article that would eventually destroy every relationship I had with all my old colleagues.

It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. Frankly, it still haunts me sometimes, because many people are still hurt by what I said. Some people still aren’t willing to speak to me.

Basically, I wrote an article condemning 9–5 jobs and essentially called all my old coworkers a bunch of cowards for wasting their life in corporate America. In efforts to be “gritty” and authentic, I was actually just an asshole.

I wouldn’t find out until months later that my entire department read it (what did I think would happen?). I naively emailed my old boss one day from overseas saying hello. I was shocked at her scathing response, informing me neither her nor anyone else wanted anything to do with me, and how much I had hurt them with my words.

There is only one response you can make in this situation. And this still doesn’t guarantee anything.

Make amends.

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

I’d never used that phrase until I got into recovery and counseling. Essentially, making amends is a way to take ownership for wrong you’ve done in hopes of reconciliation.

Making amends has a few parts:

1. Write down exactly what you did wrong, and to whom

2. Write down why it was wrong (be specific)

3. Take complete ownership for the hurt you caused

4. Tell the hurt person everything you wrote down in a sincere apology (if appropriate)

The only way I was ever going to hope to restore anything with my old coworkers was to make individual, direct amends with anyone still willing to listen (some still aren’t).

So that’s what I did. I told my boss how awful my article was, and why (it was demeaning, hurtful, and profoundly ungrateful). I didn’t make any excuses — I owned the entire screwup.

Miraculously, months later she ended up forgiving me.

Of course, things can never go back to the way they were. There’s still a divide of hurt that probably won’t ever go away.

When you hurt someone like this, you have to “take care of your side of the street.” Do everything you can to make things right.

Making Amends is the Single Best Way to Restore a Broken Relationship

I’ve gone through the process of making amends more times than I can remember:

  • To my childhood friends for gossiping about them
  • To my old writing hero for accidental plagiarizing their work
  • To my best friend for not giving him credit for his ideas
  • To my old girlfriend for liking another girl while I was still dating her
  • To my cousin for constantly ditching him for my friends

I could write dozens more. Goes to show all the hurt I’ve caused, even if it was unintentional.

But miraculously, I’ve restored many of these relationships, through making amends.

Making amends is the single best way to restore broken relationships. It’s one of the most mature, adult actions you can possibly take.

I know I’m going to hurt people down the road, however unintentional. I’m not perfect.

But I can always make proper amends: realize what I did, why it was wrong, and communicate how sorry I am.

In Conclusion

“We can never flee the misery that is within us.” -Arthur Golden

The simple truth is, most people won’t have great relationships.

When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:

Always make the first move.

The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you don’t want to).

Many people have several strained, even broken relationships with family and friends. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize.

If you want to restore a relationship and experience a deep, meaningful bond with that person, make the first move — even if it should be them. Be the first to:

  • Initiate the conversation
  • Send the first text
  • Say you miss them
  • Say you love them
  • Apologize and ask for forgiveness
  • Organize a hangout
  • Compliment them
  • Thank them
  • Tell them you appreciate what they did

There’s no reason to not restore a broken relationship if it’s in your power to do so.

Things You Can Do to Change Your Life

7 Easy Things You Can Do to Change Your Life in 2 Months

Making big changes in your life isn’t about moving across the country, or storming into your office and quitting your job.

Big changes are the result of small tweaks.

Whether your goal is to finish a project, change your friend group, make more time for passion projects, or improve upon a bad habit, here are 7 easy things you can do to change your life in the next 2 months:

1. You said you wanted to explore more of the city.

You’ve been saying that you want to go to more new places, to see things you haven’t seen before — so why don’t you do it?

This week, pick a different part of town, a new coffee shop, a museum, a restaurant, and go there. Put it on the calendar. Invite a friend. Make it happen.

2. You said you wanted to finish that big project.

Well, you can’t finish a big project until you finish a small project.

When was the last time you started and finished something in a weekend, or even a day? This week, pick one small thing you can finish and then finish it.

Then, next week, pick a slightly larger project (but not too much larger). Finish that.

Before you know it, you’ll be finishing big projects left and right.

3. You said you wanted to go to the gym more.

Ok, so when? When are you going to go?

“I’m going to go, I swear,” isn’t an answer anymore.

Tomorrow, don’t just make that loose promise to yourself that you’ll get there. Set a time and block off everything else. Then, before you go to bed, set what time you’re going to go to the gym again the next day, and the next day.

It’s just a habit. That’s all.

4. You said you wanted to eat healthier.

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

Is there healthy food in your fridge? Do you already know what you want to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

People eat unhealthfully, and live unhealthy lives, primarily out of a bad habit of failing to prepare. But if you had healthy food around, and if it was more of an option, chances are you’d probably eat better.

That’s pretty easy to solve for, isn’t it?

5. You said you wanted to stop scrolling through Instagram so often.

Well, is the app on the home screen of your smartphone?

That sort of easy access makes it difficult to break a bad habit.

Instead, move it to the last page. Maybe even delete it altogether. If you want to break a bad habit, you have to break your relationship to the activity — not forever, but for the time being.

6. You said you wanted to surround yourself with more positive people.

Ok, so what are you doing back at that dumpy bar with those same five friends you know aren’t going anywhere in life?

“You are a reflection of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I’m all for having friends with all sorts of different interests and backgrounds and aspirations. But if you have a goal, and if you want to improve something about yourself, and the people you’re always with make that process more difficult, then you need to reassess.

So, the next time they invite you out, say “No.”

Instead, give that other friend of yours a call. Maybe you two have never hung out. Cool, then dive in. Go grab a coffee. Change the dynamic and see where things go.

7. You said you wanted to work on yourself.

Let me guess: Netflix before bed?

Look, there is nothing wrong with watching a little TV every now and then. But working on yourself is, well, it’s work. And if you don’t prioritize things like self-reflection, journaling, meditation, etc., then you’re never going to grow into the person you know you’re capable of becoming.

Self-development is a practice. You can’t think about it like this big mountain you’re one day going to wake up having conquered. It doesn’t work like that.

Instead, focus on what you can do today that will quiet your mind down and allow you to really sit with yourself.

Before you go to bed, write a page in your journal.

You’ll be amazed at what you find out about yourself.

This article originally appeared on Inc. Magazine.

What You Truly Believe About Yourself Determines Who You Become

“As a man thinketh, so he is. As he continues to think, so he remains.” -James Allen

Do you believe you’ll soon become 100% financially independent?

Do you believe you’ll never get divorced?

Are you positive you’ll ever travel the world?

What you believe determines what you become. You see what you look for; you attract what you are.

Most people don’t realize their beliefs determine the rest of their life; what you believe today has real effects on tomorrow. Your income, success, health, and who you ultimately become are based entirely on what you believe will happen.

As Michael Jordan once said:

“You have to expect things of yourself before you cando them.”

If you believe you can can, odds are you probably will.

But the opposite is also true — if you know you can’t, you’re probably right.

Bruce Lee put it this way: “One will never get any more than he thinks he can get.” What you truly, deeply believe is true about yourself and your future is most likely what will happen.

What do you believe?

The problem is, most people don’t have powerful self-belief in themselves. Most people think this is about as good as it gets. For the most part, most people believe the best they can be is merely “good.”

Why? Because it’s easier to stay in mediocrity than undertake the difficult process of upgrading your belief system. It’s easier to relax in “good” instead of busting your ass towards greatness.

If you want to have an incredible, successful life, you need to begin believing success is the only possible option.

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone

It’s Easier to Stay Mediocre Than Evolve

“It is easier to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit.” -Seth Godin

It’s not that most people wake up every day and declare, “Today is going to suck!

Most people have tried to evolve in some way. The problem is, once they fail, they quickly give up and settle into their mediocrity. They tried improving, it didn’t go as planned, so they gave up.

It’s easier to stay mediocre than face the pain of attempting and failing.

Said motivational speaker Les Brown:

“Most people knock on the door of their dreams once, then run away before anyone has a chance to the open the door. But if you keep knocking, persistently and endlessly, eventually the door will open.”

It’s easier to quit. It’s what most people do.

But here’s a secret most people stewing in mediocrity don’t realize:

It’s actually harder to live in mediocrity than work towards greatness.

Waking up every day knowing today is going to be average-at-best is exhausting. It’s depressing. It sucks all your energy out before you even get out the door.

It might seem easier to simply stay where you are; it’s not great, but why rock the boat, right?

Wrong. Remaining in mediocrity is more exhausting than working towards success. It takes energy either way — why not get what you want in the process?

“If you keep on living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have.” -Jim Rohn

Warren Wong on Unsplash

If You Want to Upgrade Your Life, Upgrade Your Mindset First

“If you want to have more success, you need to become more.” -Jim Rohn

If you want to upgrade every area of your life — your income, your health, your relationships, your potential — you must become more.

How do you become more?

By upgrading your mindset first.

Prolific author Napoleon Hill once wrote:

Success comes to those who are success-conscious.”

If you have a mindset that is always looking for success and improvement, you’ll find it.

I blogged for 4 years, and after 4 years I had accomplished…nothing. I had no followers, no views, and no income. Frankly, I eventually began believing I couldn’t succeed. I didn’t think my writing was good enough for the big leagues…and it wasn’t.

But last year, I finally got serious. I believed I was going to be one of the best writers on the Internet. As a result, I invested heavily in myself. My confidence grew. I built momentum, reinforcing my belief. After years of failed pitches, suddenly CNBC and Business Insider came to me. I’ve gained 20,000+ new email subscribers. I just signed a book deal!

“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” -Hal Elrod

Strong belief attracts success.

But no belief guarantees failure.

Richard Wiseman, a former street magician turned researcher and author, conducted a study with two groups — one group of people who thought of themselves as lucky, the other self-proclaimed they were “unlucky.”

For one study, Wiseman placed a $20 dollar bill on the street. The group that believed they were lucky spotted the bill almost every time; the “unlucky” group almost always ignored it and walked right past!

Success, in all its forms, isn’t something you seize so much as it is something that is attracted to you. The most effective, productive method of becoming a more successful person is believing you already are one.

Wrote best-selling motivational author Dr. David Schwartz:

“Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figure out ways and means how to.”

Most people don’t truly believe they can achieve greatness. They don’t believe they can actually live an extraordinary life.

As a result, this becomes true; they aren’t successful. They don’t attract opportunities. In fact, they actively miss them — even if it’s right at their feet!

But if you believe — truly believe — in your ability to succeed, you will. Your mind will figure out the means how.

“Whatever the conscious, reasoning mind of man believes’ the subconscious mind will accept and act upon.”

-Joseph Murphy, The Power of the Subconscious Mind

If You Always Let Others Think For You, You’ll Never Become Who You Want to Be

“Do not let others do your thinking for you.” -Joseph Murphy

The fact is, it’s easier to let others think for you.

It’s so convenient. If others are calling the shots, you bear none of the responsibility! If you try and fail, it’s not your fault — it’s theirs.

Grammy-award winning artist Kendrick Lamar once wrote, “I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning.” This is an uncommon mindset, one always found with highly successful people, and almost never found with unsuccessful individuals.

Most people aren’t willing to take full responsibility of their life; they might want the credit for the successes, but hate having to own up to the failures.

The result? Most people let others do their thinking for them.

This may save you from experiencing unpleasant responsibilities — admitting you haven’t made any progress after all this time while you could have, but didn’t — but you suffer far more in the long run.

When you are not your true self, that part of you begins acting out. As best-selling author David Kadavy wrote:

“When our true self doesn’t get a chance to follow its desires, it acts out in strange ways.”

The more you let others do your thinking for you, the farther you drift away from what you want.

Don’t let others do your thinking for you. It’s easier, more convenient, and hassle-free, but every day your future grows more boring and mediocre.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

-Steve Jobs

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Acting “As If” Becomes Acting As Is

“What you think, feel, and do is what you see, hear, and attract.” -James Altucher

There are powerful mental, physiological, and emotional shifts that happen when you begin believing you’re the best.

The only way you become a leading man is by treating yourself like a leading man and working your ass off,” wrote Arnold Schwarzenegger is his autobiography.

Author Darren Hardy put it this way: “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon… must inevitably come to pass!

Tony Robbins once made the point that you get what you tolerate. If you tolerate mediocre, that’s exactly what you’ll get. If you act as if mediocrity is OK, then you’ll begin molding your beliefs to fit this reality.

But the opposite is true, too. If you act like the best, you’ll begin making choices and behaving in ways to make that a reality.

  • Why do you keep tolerating mediocrity?
  • Why do you keep believing you’re second-class?
  • When are you going to finally get serious?

The world’s top performers don’t tolerate anything below extraordinary. They are tireless in their quest for progression, learning, focusing, and growth. They become addicted to becoming better every day.

In the words of Darren Hardy:

“The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines.”

If you begin acting like the best, that’s what you’ll become.

Every day, your conscious mind takes orders from your belief system. Every choice you make, every word you say is based on these beliefs.

In his book, The Power of the Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy explained, “As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment.” What this means is simple: what you tell yourself is what you become.

If you act “as if” you are what you want to be — a professional athlete, a CEO of a $10M startup, a loving husband and father — you’ll eventually begin acting as these individuals actually act.

But if you continue to act in the ways you always have, you’ll never have anything more than what you already have.

“If you want to get to the next level of whatever you’re doing, you must think and act in a wildly different way than you previously have been.” -Grant Cardone

In Conclusion

“You cannot see what you don’t look for, and you cannot look for what you don’t believe in.” -Darren Hardy

If you have more than 2 close friends, you’re part of the minority.

Over half of Americans are on track to retire with less than $10,000.

There are actually more Americans that are obese than simply overweight!

Why are so many people living in mediocrity? Why don’t people have the lives they want?

A fundamental reason is because they simply don’t believe their ideal life is even possible.

You cannot gain what you don’t look for. Whatever you believe about yourself becomes true. Your belief system is incredibly powerful — it determines how successful (or unsuccessful) you’ll ultimately become.

Your thoughts are the reason you are where you are right now. If you’re not where you want to be, ask yourself: how are my thoughts limiting me? What beliefs are holding me back?

If you want more, then start with upgrading your mindset. Because what you believe about yourself determines who you become.

TRANSFORMING YOURSELF

Humans are not meant to stop growing.

In fact, no living thing on earth is meant to stop growing. We are all alive, reaching for the sun.

Progress in life is all about reinvention.

I am going to preface all of this by saying that reinvention is not the same thing as endlessly seeking reward or achievement.

There is a difference.

Seeking an achievement usually implies an “end.” You win the trophy and then you’re “done.” That’s not what you want to aim for — because as soon as you say you’re “done,” you are no longer reaching and stretching yourself, which means you stop growing.

Reinvention, however, leaves the end open — which is actually a good thing.

Reinvention is what allows you endless opportunities to continue exploring new parts of yourself.

Exploration is growth, and growth in this sense is not outward facing but inward. Whenever you find something about yourself you want to change, you need to look for a way to reinvent it.

1. See yourself outside yourself.

Imagine you are a sculptor.

A sculptor looks at his or her piece of stone and endlessly questions new ways to shape it. And if he or she thinks of something to change, there is no emotional attachment.

They just do it.

This is how you need to see yourself — as a work of art, always in progress. No need to get upset, or come down hard on yourself when you see something you do not like.

Instead, like an artist, just get to work.

2. Find the habit associated with the thing you want to change.

Far too often, people focus too much on the thing they want to change instead of the habits that formed the thing in the first place.

For example: They try to solve being overweight with doing a lot of ab exercises, without acknowledging that the problem is their poor diet.

To truly reinvent aspects of yourself, you have to find the habit that created that trait in the first place — and then adjust the habit.

3. Practice every day, no matter what.

Change is not something you do some days and then take a break from other days.

Change is a shift in lifestyle.

It requires daily dedication, to the point where that new habit takes the place of an old one and no longer requires conscious effort.

4. Set realistic goals.

You can’t just wake up one morning and say, “I’m not going to be impatient anymore!”

Yes, you are.

And you actually help yourself by acknowledging that a bad habit like that won’t be solved immediately. Instead, set the goal to be more patient during your team meeting that happens every morning. Use that as an isolated practice space and subconscious reminder of what it is you want to practice.

Focus on that for a few weeks, and then go from there.

5. Constantly look in the mirror.

Things get dangerous when you refuse to stop and really look at yourself — when you avoid self-reflection.

There is a time and a place for “go go go” mode, and then there is a time and place for reflection mode.

Both are necessary.

And you will quickly find that unless you take the time to ask yourself the tough questions, you will fall off track and not know how you got there.

6. Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.

If everyone around you is telling you “yes,” then you have a serious problem.

You need people who are going to challenge and question you. You need people who won’t be afraid to tell you the truth.

Tough feedback is essential for personal growth.

7. You have to take risks.

You will never become the person you want to be by continuing to be the person you currently are. Growth’s only request is that you step out of your comfort zone. That’s it. And unless you are willing to take that risk, to take that uncomfortable leap into the unknown, you will forever stay exactly where you are.

Reinvention is an art.

It is a process.

It is not a “quick fix” or an “overnight solution.”

It is a deliberate practice, day in and day out, until you realize who it is you want to be, you already were all along.

This article originally appeared on Inc. Magazine.