The Hard Lesson I Learned Being Betrayed By My Closest Friends

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When I was in 8th grade, my 6 best friends kicked me out of our friend group.

I had shared my entire adolescence with these guys.

Every Friday night after school, we would all meet at the blue statue in the courtyard and walk three blocks to John’s house. John’s dad we were pretty sure was in the mafia and was never around, and John’s mom sat in the living room smoking cigarettes while she played Pokemon on Gameboy. We would go up to John’s room, which was tucked away in the attic under this awesome slanted ceiling, and play video games until two in the morning. Under the tiny television was a graveyard of gaming cartridges and wires. The room was small, so three of us would sit on the floor and the other three would sit on the leopard couch behind us. The rule was you had to give up your controller if you lost.

Every Halloween, we would meet at Kyle’s house to plan our routes.

We’d bring our empty pillow cases to school and start promptly at 3:30 p.m. First, we’d walk up and down the main streets, and then slowly make our way to the Woodlands — where the houses were bigger and the driveways were longer and the candy was King Size. In 7th grade, John’s sister started throwing parties on Halloween night, right down the street. When we were done trick-or-treating, we’d end at John’s house and walk into a kitchen full of 8th graders. Since it was John’s house, they were nice to us. They’d offer us beer, to stay and hang out, but we never did. We carried our heavy pillow cases up to John’s room in the attic, eating Reese’s peanut butter cups and Skittles while we played Phantasy Star Online.

We did everything together.

And went through everything together. When Kyle’s family decided to move to Mexico for a year, I became better friends with Nick and the other John — since our groups had merged in 5th grade, with me, Kyle, Turner, and the other Cole in one group, and both Johns and Nick in the other. Of everyone in that group though, Kyle was my best friend.

When Kyle’s parents moved out of their rental and into their first big, big house, I slept over before he even had furniture in his room. When Kyle got into paintballing, I got into paintballing too. When Kyle accidentally threw a shinny hockey stick at my head in his basement and I started gushing blood all over my heads, he and his mom took me to the hospital — and he played Gamecube with me while my stitches healed. And when Kyle got a really bad ear infection and had to get surgery, I was the one who stood up for him at school when kids called him deaf.

But by the end of 8th grade, suddenly we weren’t friends.

Kyle and John and Nick didn’t want to play video games anymore. They wanted to smoke cigarettes, and pour vodka into water bottles they could carry around — things I didn’t want to take part in. Kyle made some new friends that wore hemp necklaces with little glass mushrooms hanging in the middle. John and Nick made some new friends with guys who played computer games, not console games.

One day, I showed up to our lunch room table and my seat was taken. When I asked if anyone could move over, their elbows extended to fill the space between them.

“There’s no room for you. Sorry,” said Nick.

Kyle kept his eyes on his red lunchroom tray. He wouldn’t look at me.

Just a few weeks before summer, and a few months before going into high school, this was one of the saddest moments of my adolescence. I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I remember walking into high school, everyone immediately having some sense of “belonging.”

I had no one. And every group I tried to insert myself into, everywhere I tried to fit in, seemed to sing the same song.

“There’s no room for you. Sorry.”

For four years, I didn’t have a single friend at my high school. I had kids I sat next to in the lunch room, loners just like me, a long table we all shared to save ourselves the embarrassment of sitting alone. But the truth is, we were alone. We were all alone together.

I played two years of high school hockey, only talking to the guys on my team while we were on the ice. Off the ice, they had their own groups, and pretended I didn’t exist. In gym class, I was always last pick. In math, I partnered up with the Asian exchange student who didn’t speak very good english and have any friends either. In French, there was an odd number of students, I was the only guy, and since none of the girls really wanted to be my partner, I often did exercises with my teacher. I didn’t go to a single school event, or attend a school dance until my prom senior year, and I brought a girl from another school — my girlfriend.

How I coped with my feelings of betrayal and abandonment was by spending thousands of hours in the World of Warcraft.

I devoted my entire life to that game — and found friendship on the Internet instead.

I didn’t spend Saturday nights in someone’s basement, shotgunning beers and watching movies. I spent Saturday nights in Molten Core, listening to my guild leader give all 40 of us our assignments for that night’s raid.

I didn’t spend school nights asking my parents if I could go to a girl’s house to “study.” I spent school nights pretending to go to sleep at 10:00 p.m., only to crawl back out of bed at 10:42 p.m. to lead a 10-man Warsong Gulch group until 2:30 in the morning.

I didn’t spend Fridays downtown, grabbing pizza and seeing a movie with friends. I spent it ordering Chinese food or Domino’s Pizza, grinding honor points until I was face down on my keyboard and the sun was coming up.

I coped by focusing myself on my goals.

When I was 17 years old, I became one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America.

Experiencing betrayal, abandonment, and loneliness isn’t always a bad thing. It’s painful, but it’s not deadly. Looking back, my high school experience would have been incredibly different had I stayed friends with those guys. I probably wouldn’t have had the same determination and drive to achieve my goals in the World of Warcraft — because the game would have been a hobby, not an escape.

Often times, it’s the pain we go through that makes us great at what we do. This is the duality of “success.” However, in order to cope in a productive way, you have to be aware of the pain you’re experiencing — and why.

Then it becomes a simple question of how you want to cope.

Do you want to be self destructive?

Or do you want to be self motivated?

How To Achieve Your 10-Year Plan In The Next 6 Months

 
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“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?” — Peter Thiel

How much time does something really take to accomplish?

Before answering that question, a better question is: How much time do you actually have?

Once you’ve answered that question, you’ll then be able to ask: Where is all of your time going?

Only then can you determine how long something really needs to take.

How Much Time Do You Have?

The average month has 720 hours (30 days X 24 hours).

  • If you slept 8 hours per day (8 hours X 30 days = 240 hours), you’d have 480 hours left.
  • If you worked 40 hours per week (40 hours X 4 weeks = 160 hours), you’d have 320 hours left. However, as will be shown, working 40 hours per week is optional, but certainly not optimal. And definitely not necessary. In fact, in the knowledge-working world we live in, your best work will generally happen while you’re away from work. As research has shown, only 16% of creative ideas happen while you’re sitting at work. Most will happen while you’re relaxing, commuting, traveling, spending time present with loved ones, etc.
  • If you spend 2 hours eating per day (2 hours X 30 days = 60 hours), you’d have 280 hours left.

So, the question is, what are you doing with those 280 hours?

If you spend those 280 hours listening to audiobooks, you could listen to approximately 45 books! (average book being 6 hours).

280 hours X 12 months = 3,360 hours… what are you doing with those 3,360 hours?!

If you spend those 3,360 hours listening to audiobooks, you could listen to approximately 560 books! (average book being 6 hours).

Of course, listening to 560 audiobooks would probably not be the best use of your time. Listening to 100, though, would probably be life-altering.

Of course, there are far more powerful ways of learning than simply reading books. If you get stuck with one method of learning, you will certainly stunt your growth.

Reading books should stimulate new ways of thinking and ACTING in the world. If you’re not acting differently, you’re not actually learning, and thus not changing. Your behavior is what shapes circumstance, confidence, personality, and relationships.

You read for instructions and inspiration. You then immediately apply what you learn and adjust accordingly. If you’re willing to fail fast, break things, and deal with problems (mostly people problems!), you can then learn what’s immediately relevant at that time.

For most people, learning has become an escape from doing. Filling your head with useless information is the opposite of hard-won wisdom and understanding, which can only happen via the application of knowledge and re-application based on experience in the real world.

What Do You Do With Your 280 Hours?

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” — Peter Drucker

If you don’t know you have a problem, it probably won’t change.

If you don’t believe you have a problem, it probably won’t change.

If you can’t admit you have a problem, you’re living in denial. We all have problems. In today’s society, we’re all addicted to something (probably many things!)

You can’t purposefully change what you’re unaware of. Hence, the need for education, experience, and accountability (to both self and others). If you track and are required to report something, you’ll become heavily conscious. If there are immediate consequences to not performing, performance will raise even more.

The moment of awakening happens when you:

  • Acknowledge to yourself that you have a problem
  • Openly admit you have a problem
  • Begin seeking out information and help
  • Get accountability
  • Create an environment that facilitates your desire to change
  • Begin investing in more healthy alternatives and solutions

With that said, let’s take a look at your current use of time. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING???

To be completely honest, you have no idea where it’s going. That’s because you’re unconscious of where it’s going. The only way to become conscious is to begin tracking your use of time. Which for most people isn’t fun. It’s hard. It’s a chore.

So you give up after 1–3 days.

For example, research has found that most people look at their smartphones around 100 times per day (I’m sure it’s at least double that). Yet, most people BELIEVE they look at their phone only about 30–40. So, at least half of those times looking are mindless and unconscious.

The difficulty with today’s environment is that it’s heavily trigger-laden. We are so used to being on technology and being distracted that it’s hard for us to imagine being fully AWAKE and present for long periods of time.

That’s got to change if you want to start achieving your 10-year plans in the next 6 months.

The idea of achieving such big goals in such a short time might seem totally crazy and unrealistic to you. However, if you stick with me through this post, you’ll realize that it’s actually VERY doable.

It’s not doable though, if you continue operating with the same mindsets and approaches you’ve been accustomed to.

You absolutely cannot achieve things 10X or 20X faster if you’re distracted on social media even one hour per day.

Why?

Because that’s a very low-level use of time. Recovering and resting and playing for several hours per day is GREAT! It’s stimulating and fulfilling and leads to growth and deepening of self and relationships.

Yet, on the statistics, the average person spends between 3–8 hours on the internet every day.

How much of that time is deliberate, purposeful, and goal-oriented?

When was the last time you got on the internet for a specific purpose, and then got off when that purpose was complete?

The internet is more distracting and hard to evade than a Las Vegas casino.

When was the last time you had a full day where you ate exactly what you wanted, without impulsively grabbing something like sugar, carbs, or caffeine out of habit?

These examples are only to show how unconsciously we generally live.

If you can’t say what exactly you ate yesterday, and where you spent every moment of you’re time, you’re probably less healthy and less productive than you think.

So:

  • How regularly do you sleep 8 hours per night?
  • Do you go to bed and rise the same time each night?
  • Do you unplug for technology and screen-time 60–90 minutes before bed?
  • When are your most optimal hours for mental and creative work? Do you do your most important work during those optimal hours? (by the way, for most people, it’s during the first 3 hours of their day, and just before bed).
  • How much time do you spend with your family and friends without having your smartphone on your person?
  • What are the most meaningful activities you do with your friends and family?
  • How regularly do you do those activities?
  • When was the last time you did those activities?
  • What are your current goals for 2018?
  • What are your current goals for Quarter 2 of 2018?
  • What are your current goals for May of 2018?
  • What are your current goals for THIS week?
  • Are those goals stretching you?
  • What if you only had 3 months left to live? Could you accomplish your 2018 goals during those 3 months? My guess is, that you probably could. Of course, if you only had 3 months left to live, you might re-assess those goals. You’d probably realize that many of those goals are brainwashed into you by cultural norms.
  • If you only had 3 months left to live, what would your goals be?
  • Who would you reach out to?
  • What EXPERIENCES would you seek to have?
  • What “unfinished business” would you get done?

What If You Only Had 6 Months Left To Live?

“Nothing will fill your heart with a greater sense of regret than lying on your deathbed knowing that you did not live your life and do your dreams.” — Robin Sharma

Is it possible to actually live with a “deathbed mentality?”

Of course it is.

But the stakes need to be high enough for you.

You need to actually VALUE your time, and to appreciate the brevity of your time on this planet.

In order to properly value your time, you need:

  • A belief system about the purpose of your existence (“If you have more than 3 priorities, you have none” — Jim Collins). You can’t have priorities if you don’t have a value-system.
  • A belief about how should you be using your time
  • A desire to live and learn
  • A disregard for how (most) people perceive you. As Allen Carr said in his extremely important book, THE EASY WAY TO CONTROL ALCOHOL: “I would define cowardice as: failure to act as my conscience dictates, because of fear of physical injury or ridicule.”
  • A willingness to continue learning
  • A goal you’re striving to accomplish (a “mission” or “purpose” that gives you something to dedicate yourself to)

If you have a true goal, something that is extremely valuable to you, and that you believe to be very important, ONLY THEN can you begin to properly value and use your time.

If you don’t have a guiding purpose, you’ll be aimless with your time. As Ryan Holiday has said, “This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.”

Very few people can optimize their time because very few people are clear on:

  • What they believe
  • And what they should do because of that belief
  • And how to most effectively accomplish that belief

Once you know what you believe you should do, then your next task is to:

  • Get really, really good at learning and filtering through information
  • Give yourself a very short time-line
  • Use your most important time, every single day, for moving toward your goals
  • Remove everything from your life that hinders you from achieving your goals. From a holistic perspective, taking lots of time OFF is actually key to productivity. Your best ideas will happen while you’re away from work. Your motivation to succeed will be heightened if you have deep and meaningful relationships with friends and family. Your thinking and creativity will be better if you exercise daily. From an essential-perspective, you want to have lots of stimulating, stretching, entertaining, and beautiful areas of your life.

However, none of the areas of your life will be optimized if you don’t focus. Most people are distracted while they are at work and distracted while they’re home.

Most people don’t see a reason to eat healthy.

Most people don’t see a reason to evaluate the quality of everything they put in their mouth and in their heads.

But when you know your time is limited, you begin to ask much harder questions. You begin to be a lot more honest with yourself and with others.

Those things which were invisible to you now become very apparent.

If you had 6 months to live, how much of that time would you spend on Facebook?

If you had 6 months left to live, would it be difficult to wake up at 5AM?

What’s the difference?

Why would it be easy to wake up at 5AM and stay off Facebook if you only had 6 months left to live?

Honesty.

Brutal honesty.

That’s the difference.

You’d be far more honest with yourself about what’s important to you.

Would it be hard to give up a bad habit if you only had 6 months left to live? Probably not.

Would it be hard to drop everything you don’t love and focus exclusively on what matters?

Would it be hard to “find your voice” or market your ideas? Not at all. If you believed you were doing something very important, you’d shout from the rooftops. You wouldn’t hold back and restrain for fear of what others think.

You’d get to work.

Short-Term Experiments Can Help

Tim Ferriss doesn’t set long-term goals (at least, that’s what he claims). Instead, he pursues short-term “experiments.” The reason he pursues short-term experiments is because he doesn’t seek “happiness,” but instead, “excitement.”

I think another reason Ferriss pursues experiments is because he understands the value of time. He’s learned how to optimize his time. He knows how to set goals and achieve them quickly. He knows how to surround himself with a “tribe of mentors.” He’s set his life up to live on his own terms.

Therefore, he’s willing to take risks.

He’s willing to experiment, to try new things, and to fail.

He’s willing to pursue things that excite him. He’s willing to do something even if he doesn’t know where it’s taking him.

Importantly, Ferriss isn’t living this way BECAUSE he has freedom of time and money. Rather, he has freedom of time and money BECAUSE he operates this way.

When you have a short timeline, and something meaningful you’re pursuing with vigor — you learn a lot. You adapt. You face problems in real-time and deal with those problems in real time. You learn only what you MUST learn.

You BRUTE-FORCE learn in a hostile and immersive environment.

Pulling It All Together

“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?” — Peter Thiel

How do you achieve stuff 10X or 100X faster than “normal?”

  • You must have something that drives you
  • You must operate with a “deathbed mentality” and not undervalue your time
  • You must be willing to experiment and fail continually
  • You can’t be a coward, which means you go against your intuition because you fear what others think (the scientific definition of courage means you deliberately confront risks to achieve a “noble goal”)
  • You need to be an intense and wise learner, which means you get the best information from the best resources and apply immediately what you learn

Even if you have a full-time job and 3 kids, you can achieve your 10-year plan in the next 6 months.

You just need to start FINDING time to match toward your dreams. If you have less time, you actually need to be more bold. You need to learn faster. You need to reach out to the right people quicker. You need to put your work out there and face an audience immediately.

If you start doing all of these things, you’ll get feedback. And that’s all failure is. Failure is feedback.

Without feedback, you won’t know what to do. Once you get feedback, the next move becomes glaringly obvious.

Get feedback. The harsher and more honest and more direct the feedback, the better.

Use that feedback.

Adjust.

Get better information.

It is an absolutely amazing feeling to be living your life as if you only had 6 months left to live.

You absolutely can start living this way now. Once you do, you’ll stop putting up with petty stuff. You’ll start treating people differently. You’ll actually look them in the eyes. You’ll actually listen. You’ll express love and interest. You’ll lift those around you.

And you’ll stop dealing with stuff that no longer makes sense. You’ll act with far more purpose, persistence, and boldness.

You’ll put first things first.

You will act on instinct and intuition, not impulse and addiction.

When you start acting in accordance with your intuition, you develop confidence. Conversely, acting against your intuition can often produce short-term dopamine, and a long-term lack of confidence.

If you want more confidence, start striving toward the life you want. Even if you fail, you’ll be proud of yourself. And if you’re committed, you’ll begin to succeed. You’ll eventually get so much momentum that it becomes your new normal to operate at optimal levels.

Why?

Because you’re congruent.

When your internal and external worlds are congruent with your values and vision, you can be highly productive WHILE living with ease. It’s easy because you’re not trying to force yourself to do it. Instead, it’s hard NOT to do what you want to do.

MINDSET 4 PROGRESS

How much your self-development matters to you?

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This Christmas Santa has been very generous 🙂 to me and I’ve received some wonderful pressies, including some books I’ve really wanted to have for a while:

  • Tools of TitansThe Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferris (available here)
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (available here )
  • Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success by Angela Duckworth (available here)
  • The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris (available here)
  • The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey (available here)

I’ve decided that this blog will be a good place to post books reviews once in a while. What do you think? Have you read any books about personal development, time management or motivation?

These books used to be called ‘self-help’ books and I think because of this their reputation has been somewhat damaged. Some people don’t buy them because they say they that don’t need any help with finding out how to prioritise their life or they don’t have a problem with time management and so on…

I’m glad that the industry has been changing and now these titles are called self-development’ rather than ‘self-help’ books! I’m glad that people are starting to realise how important personal growth is and that it should not be a luxury but a necessity.

Personal growth doesn’t just help to keep you sane and away from mental health disorders but it’s a lot more than that. When you do what you love, when you commit to lifelong learning and improve your skills and knowledge, you feel more positive, happy and satisfied with your life. Naturally, the more optimistic you are, the more positive your approach and thoughts, and this will have an impact on others around you too, on your relationships and on various other aspects of your life.

The happier you are, the more successful you can become.

Happiness drives performance, not the other way around.

Contrary to what many people say, investing in your own personal development is not egoistical and selfish. It’s something that makes us betterhuman beings in many aspects, also in social terms.

I’m wondering if you are interested in such self-development titles. What book(s) have you been recently reading?

Spending Just 5 Minutes a Day Being Mindful Changes How You React to Everything

Johannes Hulsch / EyeEm/ Getty Images
Photo by Fineas Gavre on Unsplash

At any moment, or situation, if you’re aware that your mind is wandering, you’re halfway to a successful mindfulness practice.

At any moment, or situation, if you’re aware that your mind is wandering, you’re halfway to a successful mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness is paying attention to everything happening around you.

According to research, it has some quite extraordinary effects on the brains of those who do it regularly.

Through repeated mindfulness practice, brain activity is redirected from ancient, reactionary parts of the brain, including the limbic system, to the newest, rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.

Sometimes, achieving calm has everything to do with starting things off right each day.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be practiced in the form of a 30-minute meditation sequence.

Mark Williams, co-author of Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World encourages us to live in the moment everyday. “Start living right here, in each present moment. When we stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we’re open to rich sources of information we’ve been missing out on — information that can keep us out of the downward spiral and poised for a richer life”, he says.

When practiced and applied, mindfulness fundamentally alters the operating system of the mind. In less than five minutes a day, you can become less reactive and more in tune with the moment.

In that five minutes lies the opportunity to improve the way you decide and direct, the way you engage with everyone around you.

Most people find mornings the best time to practice mindfulness, but you can do it any time of day.

It can help you select your responses and make calculated choices instead of succumbing to reactionary decisions everyday.

Every activity in life can be trigger to bring you back to the present moment

In our distracted world, it is essential for your wellbeing to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness and achieve a positive mind-body balance.

This can be hard but it’s not impossible.

In fact, simple focused breathing can do wonders for you in any situation.

And breathing isn’t the only exercise you can do to reset your mind. Try observing, listening, and appreciating more intentionally, too.

You can be more present in your morning routine, how you work, take breaks and or even how you engage with your spouse, children or relatives.

Being mindful everyday can completely change how you relate with yourself, others, and your work.

If you do it successfully, and consistently make it a habit, you’ll sleep better, feel less stressed, and have more energy.

Embrace positive journaling

Count your blessings, lucks, fortunes and everything good that happened today. Each day, spend just two minutes writing about one or two positive experience that happened to you in the past 24 hours.

In Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin E P Seligman encourages use to make journaling a daily habit.

“Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote, ”he says.

One method of positive journaling is to write just three new things you are grateful every day for 21 days. This trains the brain to constantly be on the lookout for something to appreciate.

This invites your brain to re-live that situation, which doubles the positive impact it has on your life. It’s an amazing experience, don’t miss out on positive journaling.

Shawn Achor, psychologist, Harvard researcher, and author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, writes, “Focusing on the good isn’t just about overcoming our inner grump to see the glass half full. It’s about opening our minds to the ideas and opportunities that will help us be more productive, effective, and successful at work and in life.”

You can even journal to capture your reflections on your purpose and how you’re continuing to show up for that.

Over time, you’ll create a record of your life that will provide valuable perspective.

Practice gratitude

No matter how bad things seem, there is almost always something that’s going right. Mindfully build on that.

What is the one unique thing you are grateful for today?

Practice writting everything you are grateful for every now and then.

Don’t write the same things everyday.

Selecting unique areas of gratitude each day forces you to re-frame your perspective to look for the positive, rather than the negative, aspects in your daily life.

Gratitude has been linked to a host of physical and psychological benefits, including happiness.

One study found that grateful people are 25 percent happier.

So whether you make it a habit to talk about what you’re grateful for, or you write in a gratitude journal before bed, train your brain to look for the good in your life.

It could be the simplest, most effective way to boost your well-being.

Charles Dickens puts this well: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

Before you leave this post, I encourage you to take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and sense what it’s like to be alive in this very moment. This moment is your life, and yours alone to manage and make the most of it.

9 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life — Personal Development

Nicolas Cole Instagram We overcomplicate our lives, relationships, goals, and to-do lists. We, as human beings, have a tendency to make things more difficult than they need to be. Happiness is found in simplicity — so how do you simplify your life? 1. Get rid of what no longer serves you. When was the last time you really wore […]

via 9 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life — Personal Development

Why a Mastermind Group Can Accelerate Your Success (And How to Form One)

Why a Mastermind Group Can Accelerate Your Success (And How to Form One)

What if I told you that you can put yourself in a better position to succeed by simply sharing your time, either once a week or once a month, with other like-minded and motivated individuals?

Successful individuals such as Benjamin Franklin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, all met with groups of like-minded people on a regular basis, to help one another achieve common goals and grow. Today, this is called a “mastermind”, first coined by Napoleon Hill in 1925. In this article, I’m going to go over what a mastermind group is, how it can benefit you and your business, and how to form one, step-by-step.

Thomas Edison (left) and Henry Ford (right)

What Is a Mastermind?

A mastermind is a peer-mentoring group of individuals who meet on a regular basis (in-person or virtually) to push each other to work to their highest potential and hold each other accountable. Many successful entrepreneurs today, from Bill Gates to Pat Flynn, use masterminds to help grow their business and work on their personal development.

Jim Rohn, author and motivational speaker, tells us that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are the people you spend the most time with helping you with your personal development and business’ growth? This is where participating in and being a part of a mastermind group can improve that.

Why Join a Mastermind?

Accountability: The first reason I recommend any entrepreneur join a mastermind group is because the people in that group will keep you accountable.

Every week, in my mastermind group, we ask each member how their business is progressing and if they followed through on what they planned to do last week.

I never want to let the individuals in my group down, so when I say to the members in my group that I am going to do something, you can bet I wind up doing it to tell them about it the next time we meet.

Feedback: A mastermind group will give you feedback from people who are trying to build a business just like you. They have a special insight and mindset that is hard to find. Other like-minded entrepreneurs will tell you what’s wrong or right about your ideas with no bias. They are not your customers and they are not your competitors.

The people in your group can be your best source of advice at times when you’re unsure where to turn to. The members in my group have a very unique yet relevant perspective. This makes for some amazing feedback that has helped me tremendously when it comes to what direction to go in and what next steps to take for my business.

Collaboration: Not only does your mastermind group allow you collaborate on ideas but you can help people or get people in your group to help you with projects or tasks. While this isn’t the main function of a peer-mentoring group, as a result of meeting with other talented entrepreneurs on a regular basis, you might find opportunities to work with other members in your group.

There’s also an opportunity for you to cross-promote with other members in your group. Everyone in your group will likely be using social media and maybe even have a blog. In my mastermind, I’ve promoted their content on my Twitter account in exchange for being featured and interviewed on their blog.

Network: This is also a great way to network. You might connect with people, who know other people, that might be able to help you out or that you might be able to help out. The more you expand your network, the more doors open up for you.

Having connections and knowing people who might know people in various industries can come in handy when you least expect it.

Resourceful: The members in your group will likely be very diversified with many different specialties and areas of knowledge. Maybe you’re someone with a lot of knowledge in marketing but you need help with design. If there’s another member in your group that has a design background, you can help them with marketing while they help you with design.

The blending of different backgrounds, skills and knowledge creates a fantastic environment for you to learn, play off of your strengths and correct your weaknesses. I’ve learned a lot from the members of my mastermind group about topics I previously had no knowledge about. There will always be something unique that you can bring to your mastermind group and that others will bring that will be of value to you and the rest of the group.

Support: Besides being a support group to encourage you and keep you going when you encounter hard times in your business, your mastermind can be a place where members can get their questions answered and solutions to their problems.

Every week in my mastermind, someone is blown away by the quality of help and solutions they receive to their problems. It never ceases to amaze me how creative we can get, as a group, to tackle someone’s issues in that meeting.

What a Typical Mastermind Might Look Like

To give you an idea of what a mastermind looks like, here’s what mine looks like:

Every Tuesday night, I meet with three other online entrepreneurs. We meet using Google Hangouts, which is a free video call/chat software that is easy to use.

What a Typical Mastermind Might Look Like

Once we all get on, we begin with a round-table style discussion. Each person has the chance to give everyone else an update on their business, their challenges and wins since the last meeting.

After everyone gets the opportunity to update the group, we usually feature or “hot seat” someone every meeting. This person gets the opportunity to go deeper with their challenges, and they also get a chance to get feedback from the group. Every meeting, the featured person changes. Sometimes, someone is featured simply because they might need the most help at that time. Most of the time however, everyone has a shot to be in the hot seat.

Sometimes the mastermind meeting will be more informal than this, and we just discuss our businesses as a group. Some of my best takeaways came when our sessions were informal and didn’t follow a structure.

These sessions usually don’t go on for more than an hour and they are extremely beneficial and a great investment of my time, every meeting.

How to Find or Form a Mastermind

The first thing you need to do is go where people like yourself congregate. If you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur, you don’t need to strictly look for other ecommerce entrepreneurs, instead look for other motivated entrepreneurs in any industry.

I recommend first starting with Meetup.com if you’re interested in meeting up with other entrepreneurs in person. Meetup.com has many groups of local entrepreneurs looking to connect that you can easily join for free. If you can’t find one, consider starting your own.

How to Find or Form a Mastermind

If you’re more interested in an online mastermind, I would recommend going to forums and Facebook groups for online entrepreneurs and ecommerce entrepreneurs.

You will probably have to take the initiative in these groups and ask if anyone else is interested in forming a mastermind with you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

As long as you don’t make it all about you and you are genuine in wanting to create a peer-mentoring group where entrepreneurs can help one another and grow together, people will be interested. Here’s a script similar to what I used when I was looking for other people to form a mastermind with me.

Hey everyone,
My name is Corey, I’m an entrepreneur and CEO of X. I’m interested in starting a mastermind, aka peer-mentoring group, with a few other motivated and ambitious entrepreneurs. You don’t need to be extremely knowledgeable or very successful. I’m just looking to meet with other entrepreneurs on a weekly basis, on Google Hangouts, where we can help one another and grow together. If you’re a positive person and serious about your business, I’d love to have you be a part of my mastermind group.

[a section talking about what you bring to the table, your specialities, skills and experience.]

If you’re interested, give me a little background on yourself, what you’d like to get out of this mastermind group, and what you think you can contribute and I’ll contact you!

 

From here, you will want to contact the interested individuals you think you would get along with and make a good fit for your group. It’s a good idea to vet everyone that is interested to first, ensure that they’re serious about joining the group, and second, to see if their goals and values align with yours and the rest of the group’s.

Once you get everyone’s emails, send out a spreadsheet, using Google Docs, to quickly determine everyone’s availability. Use this spreadsheet template to help you see what everyone’s availability is. You ideally want to have a weekly or monthly meeting at the same time and day every week to make it easy for everyone.

How to Find or Form a Mastermind

Once you see an alignment and a date and time that works for everyone, it’s time to contact all your members and schedule the first mastermind session.

Running Your First Mastermind

You should let your new group know what the structure will be like for the very first meeting. You’re all strangers and there might be some members who are nervous, so let them know what to expect to ease their anxiety.

Make it clear that the first meeting will be very informal and casual. Everyone should get an opportunity to introduce themselves, talk about their business and what they hope to get out of this mastermind group.

Tips

  • In the beginning, at least for the first several meetings, follow a format or keep to a structure for the meetings until there’s a lot of chemistry in the group.
  • Use software like Google HangoutsSkype and Zoom are good alternatives as well. It’s best to ask your group, when you first send out the scheduling spreadsheet, what software they use or prefer.
  • It’s a good idea to try and find someone who is experienced and has run or participated in masterminds before (or even is already in one) to make your sessions run smoother since they can take the lead for those first few (potentially awkward) meetings.
  • While there’s no ideal number of members for your group, try to keep it relatively small. In my experience, a group size of 4-6 people works best. With too many members, the meetings might be too long and there might not be enough time for people to get an equal opportunity to share and get value.

Go out and Find a Mastermind

Now it’s your turn. You will need to take the initiative. You will need to put yourself out there and find the right people.

If you don’t know where to start looking, leave a comment below and let everyone else know you’re looking to join a mastermind! Who knows, you might find the group of people who will help your business grow as well as help theirs. If you have any questions and feedback about masterminds, be sure to let me know in the comments below as well.

Personality Type Tactics

Understanding your own personality type is a great step to self-development. You can understand how you work and learn best as well as identify potential weaknesses. There are a number of personality type tests you can use but the most prolific is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It classes people into one of 16 personality types which indicate if you’re introverted or extroverted if you prefer mental reasoning or gut feeling etc. They give you an idea of what your “operating system” is. It’s important to note your personality can change over time, so this test really represents your current state, and although the test isn’t critical of traits, it gives you a chance to identify traits you might not like and work on them.

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So where can you get this done? there are a range of online resources such as www.16personalities.com which will give you free version, though they normally have a paid add-on or advertising. You can go to MBTI directly www.mbtionline.com You can also find local professionals who are certified to help perform these tests and give insights, or you can just search for personality type test.

Be sure to be as honest as possible, if you put down answers for who you want to be, but not actually representing who you are now, then it will stop you from seeing areas for improvement as well as identifying your actual strengths.

Then what?

The most important thing is to not just take the test, glance over the results and move on, but to take your time to understand the results and to think over these traits to decide if there are any areas you’d like to try to improve. For example, if it shows you are biased towards making emotional decisions, has this been working well for you? or would you like to be more analytical in your decisions? or maybe the other way around. There is only so much we can do to try to change our thinking, but if we can identify certain parts of our personality then it allows us to be more conscious of this and we can understand our own behaviour more, it can then allow us to identify and question why we might be making a decision.

Productive Tactics

Once you have identified your personality type you can use this information to plan out a more productive use of time. You can read up extensively on the strengths of your personality type (there are 16, so not going into all of them here, have a look at this) and once you understand your strengths, go all in on them! 

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If you can focus your energy towards completing work which benefits from your strengths then you will likely do a better job and enjoy it more! Rather than forcing yourself to concentrate on areas you simply do not enjoy and are not suited for. If you are extroverted and a people pleaser then book your calendar with those meetings, find people to collaborate with, find events to attend! If you’re introverted and need solitude to work most effectively then try to move those meetings to phone calls, book in a time where you will shut off all your communication for a few hours, then only focus on the very important meetings so that you can spend most of your time being effective. Play to your personality strengths, don’t make every day a battle. There will always be times you have to work in areas you don’t exceed in and activities which don’t match your personality type, but try to make them rarer and not your main focus.

Implement

  1. Do the personality type test
  2. Research and understand your personality type strengths
  3. Focus your efforts on activities which align with your strengths
  4. Identify potential weaknesses and be conscious of them

 

This doesn’t need to be a hard exercise and shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours in total, it’s also beneficial and fun to get those around you to take the test as well and then discuss your results together, those around you can normally give you some additional insights and perspectives. Try to revisit this test every 6 months to 1 year and see if and how your personality might have shifted. Enjoy!

5 Simple Things You Should Do Every Sunday Night to Prepare for the Week Ahead

Being productive is all about preparation.

If you know what you need to do ahead of time, you will know exactly where to dive in as soon as you get started. On the flip-side, if you do not take the time to prepare, you will find yourself flustered and uncertain because you now have to think through whatever it is you need to do.

Having a great week does not start on Monday. It starts Sunday night. It begins with what you set in your mind you are going to do, before you actually set out to do it.

Here are a few ways to “get your mind right” for the week ahead:

1. Reflect on what you’ve already finished.

Your to-do list is, and will always be, fluid.

It moves as you move, and it stays put as you stay put. If you don’t get things done, they remain on the list. And if you are always getting things done, then your list will be a growing and expanding reflection of that process (which is the goal).

However, in order to know what is “next,” you need to take a moment to reflect on the status of where things currently are. Look through your to-do list from the week prior and see what you got done or didn’t get done — and then ask yourself why certain things got accomplished and others didn’t.

If something remains on your to-do list for weeks on end, you need to make a decision:

Either remove it entirely (clearly it’s not getting done) or push it all the way to the top and make it a priority to do that item before anything else.

Take the time to reflect, though.

It is immensely valuable over the long term.

2. Organize your to-do items based on category.

This is a tactic I’ve learned from Tony Robbins (although I’m sure many others use it as well).

Go through your to-do list and organize things by category or project, even separating between “Random Life Things” and “Work Things.”

The reason why it’s helpful to organize by category is two-fold:

First, it is far less overwhelming to look at a to-do list that is organized by category.

Looking at a long and random list of everything mixed together, you can feel how exhausting it would be to bounce between so many different types of tasks.

That’s what you want to avoid.

Instead, organize by category so that you can get in one frame of mind and work through everything in that specific category. You are far more efficient when you can remain in one frame of mind for a long period of time, rather than bouncing between different types of tasks.

Organize, and you’ll be more efficient.

3. Do what you can ahead of time.

The best example I have of this is meal preparation.

If you bring your lunch to work, or you pack your bag in the morning, why not do those things the night before?

Anything you can do ahead of time gives you more freedom the next day, and is one less thing you have to think about.

The reason why this is so valuable is that you have more head space to think about what is coming up next, instead of trying to remember all the things you have to do.

Mondays are always jam packed.

Anything you can get done now, you might as well.

4. Prioritize input, not output.

Sundays should be input days — not output days.

The start of every week is always output focused. You show up to the office, or to school, or even to your own desk to crank through work, and you are expected to be in output mode.

Knowing that’s around the bend, it is advantageous of you to spend as much of Sunday as possible in input mode. You want to be feeding your creativity and your soul so that come Monday morning you are ready to go. Think of a windup car. You pull it back, you pull it back, and then you let it rip.

That’s input. And more input leads to better output.

5. Take time to yourself.

And finally, the most important part of Sunday night should be the time you take solely for yourself.

Going back to this idea of input versus output, you need to quiet down and relax in order to sustain yourself throughout the week. One way to do this is to meditate. Another way is to read (a book, not social media), or even to just sit quietly with a cup of tea. Silence does wonders, and in our overly busy society it is a valuable asset we all too often forget. Take time to yourself and sit in silence.

If you can sit in silence even for just fifteen minutes, you will be amazed at how refreshed you feel.

No distractions.

No interruptions.

And then go to sleep feeling ready for the week ahead.

This article originally appeared on Inc Magazine.

Stop Setting Goals

Photo by Bruno Bergher on Unsplash

And what to do instead.


For a great many years — seven to be exact — I would do the same thing on my birthday. I would wake up in the morning and write down a set number of things corresponding to my age that I wanted to accomplish in the coming year. I was not militant about achieving these things, but I used them as a sort of guidepost to define how I wanted to live my life. I generally did a little more than half of them. The annual exercise inspired a few other people — and for that I am thankful — but I can’t say for certain whether or not I became more successful and happy because of it. Last year I turned 35, so I wrote down 35 things I wanted to check off.

This past January 8, I conquered one of the big dragons on the list, which was to “Run A Marathon.” My history with running is checkered, as I am not an athlete and my lungs work like a late-model Yugo. But I did do it, and it was awesome, but not for the reasons you would think.

I anticipated the fever dream of reaching the finish line, falling down exasperated, with my loved ones there to congratulate me, and I thought I would feel this extraordinary euphoria of having done something magnificent, something I never thought possible, and something most people never do. That moment never materialized. In fact, after I’d finished, I was mostly just done. Another check-mark in a box next to a goal. Another 100-like Instagram post. More fodder for a future column.

What I did take mental inventory of, though, was the feeling I got along the course. I loaded my Spotify with a 6-hour playlist of my favorite songs, and just vibed. Bright sunshine lit my face. I texted my dad along the way. I was completely at peace. There was nothing to think of except the road in front of me. Concern over money, my future, my relationships, my hashtag-legacy all vanished. And I was the most “me” I’d ever been.

At the halfway point, I stopped and high-fived other runners behind me. The bliss of being one with the road, of just doing something I loved to do in a way I never dreamed of, was overwhelming. I enjoyed every step, and when I saw that finish line, I perked up and ended strong. I smiled with my medals on. Those medals are now tucked away in a closet.

I tell you that story as a setup to tell you this: At that exact moment, I decided to stop setting goals.


Goals are largely determined by culture and driven by ego, and they’re usually unexceptional, even if they take a lot of work: buy a house, get married, have some kids, make money, lose weight. Other goals are merely vain exercises in achieving some kind of social validation: buy a bigger house, have the best wedding, make the most money, gain a fuck-ton of Instagram followers. I say this to highlight two reasons why goals are inherently flawed:

  1. The goals you set may not really be your own.
  2. Once you achieve them, they may not satisfy you.

Goals are often things we do to be a little bit more like other people in our society. In the United States, traditionally, some of these goals are things like “marriage,” “children” and “money,” or achieving the things that make all those a bit more likely. Ask yourself — really, deeply ask yourself — if these are, in fact, your goals.

Goals are also things driven by ego, things we aim to do to derive some kind of satisfaction or validation from. They are part of a performance or some kind of personal “brand.” Taken to its extreme, achievements are a productive off-shoot of peacocking. Evolutionary biologists have even observed that, in males, there is a significant uptick in goal-directed and risk-taking behavior around the presence of an attractive mate.


When you affix your self-worth to metrics and results, you are postponing your own happiness and placing it outside the realm of your control, all while — even worse — you’re convincing yourself that you’re “on your way” to being happier and more successful than ever, and that you’re this close to “making it,” without realizing that once you reach where you thought was the horizon, the goalposts keep moving back and now you’ve got somewhere new to go to be happy and searching for meaning.

Instead of goals, try this instead: Focus on Process. (Philadelphia 76ers fans may have varied reactions to that trigger word, but hear me out.) What is process? In it’s simplest form, it’s how you spend your time, capital and energy. It’s the answer to these questions:

  1. What do you like to learn?
  2. What do you like to make?
  3. What do you like to experience?
  4. Who would you like to share all that with?

When you know the answers to those questions, you have a better understanding of how to spend your time, capital and energy. You have developed a process. For me, that process includes running. I run because it is part of — nowhere near all of — what gives me joy and meaning.


Let’s say that you say to yourself, “I want to lose 20 pounds” and then you begin to run. If you hate running, you are more likely to fail at both things … the running and the weight loss. When you do something you do not desire to achieve a result you desire, you end up making yourself miserable in the short-term (“I hate this”and the long-term (“I quit running and now I’m still an out-of-shape fuck-up” / “I lost all this weight but now I need to focus on gaining muscle or losing 10 more pounds”).

When you set goals, all accomplishments are treated as a result. When you set processes, all accomplishments are treated as side-effects. What is the difference?

Results are fixed. They are checkpoints. You anticipate them, then you observe them, then you reflect on them. They’re only briefly existing in the present tense, meaning they only provide happiness in that instant. Finishing the marathon did not give me any great sense of joy or pride beyond the moment in which it occurred. It was a result.

Side-effects are always in flux. You can only observe them, and only if you care to. Finishing the marathon was an intriguing byproduct of running for six hours. (Okay, okay — six and a half.)


When you spend your time, energy and capital learning, making and experiencing what you love, you can live more authentically, more meaningfully and more happily. The money will come. The love will come. The validation will come. The (*grits teeth*) social media followers will come. These things are of no concern to someone who focus on process. To those who hone in on goals, they are everything — yet they are hollow victories when they arrive.

[As an aside: I would be foolish not to point out that this is not realistic life advice for everyone; I am specifically talking to are those who have already achieved a certain level of creature comfort in their lives, but find themselves unfulfilled. So of course, if life is leaving you beset by heartbreak and hardship, survival and well-being exceeds the urgency of living freely. Also, if you have a little one or three in tow, keeping them alive, happy and well-adjusted will never not be of paramount concern.]

I spend eight hours every day doing something I love to do at a place I enjoy doing it at. I sleep for eight more hours. That’s two-thirds of my life spent doing things that kick ass. Plus, I have various side-hustles that also overlap very nicely with things that give me joy and meaning. I spend my free time, energy and capital leaning things like Spanish and rock climbing, making things like music and more writings like this at Medium, and experiencing things like laughter with friends and music festivals. I don’t spend 100% of my life doing these things, and it certainly isn’t possible based on a litany of factors — many of which are beyond my control — but it is fairly close.

I no longer have goals. I no longer have dreams. I only have processes, activities and experiences: things I learn, things I make, and things I do. Any sort of achievement or shallow culturally-defined institutional box I can check? They will be side-effects of the life I want to live.

There is a saying “run your race,” which essentially means don’t push yourself to run faster than you can on race day, don’t deviate from what’s worked for you before, and don’t try and mirror what the people around you are doing. I think that applies quite a bit to life in general. You could, if you wanted to, look around and see a lot of other people on the course, some running faster than you, some slower, some looking like they’re having more fun than you. Pay them no mind, for they are not running your race — they are running theirs. They don’t have your lungs, your legs or your life. They have theirs.

Though, every now and again, remember to turn around and give them high-five. I’ve learned from experience that they like that sort of thing.

How I’m Protecting My Energy in 2018

New Year tends to bring a vibrant burst of new energy. All of a sudden, you’re saying “yes!” to all of those social plans, goal-setting like a boss, and making space in your mental closet of life for all the opportunities that could come your way.

Yep. At the start of anything new, we often feel pumped, optimistic, and hyper-motivated.

But what happens when something disrupts all those good vibes you’ve been cultivating?

I’ll never forget #EnergyGate2017 — the day, a few months ago, when I realized that I couldn’t just be on the offense with protecting my energy; I had to play defense, too.

I trudged up the stairs to my apartment, kicked off my shoes and flopped onto the couch. “Ugh why do I feel so drained?” I wondered.

“Energy is your most precious human resource.” — Susannah Seton

I reflected on the fact that my work days were long and stressful, my friends were often eager to hang out when I wanted to be alone, my family was asking a lot of me, and I wasn’t even excited for yoga anymore when I love yoga.

I felt like someone had come and sucked all the life out of me and I was just going through the motions of my daily routine, but not enjoying anything.

I knew I had to take back the reins to manifest and protect positive energy in my life.

Knowing Your Energy

So what’s energy? I’m not talking about food and water — but the energy that makes me me.

I’m someone who talks too loud and whose laugh sounds more like a cackle. I’m generally a bubbly person who enjoys doing all the things, but how did it all slip away? How do I get it back?

“Energy is your most precious human resource,” Susannah Seton writes in her book Everyday Energy Boosters: 365 Tips and Tricks to Help You Feel Like a Million Bucks.

Seton mentions in her book that you’ll have different energy levels throughout the day. What’s important to remember is that other things that happen throughout your day, as well as other people, can affect your energy levels.

Along with your physical energy, there’s your emotional, mental, and spiritual energy.

When you’re lacking in energy, it’s when you don’t feel like you have enough of something in you to continue a task. When you’ve got too much energy, you may feel hyper or like you can’t quite calm down.

It’s not just about having or not having energy, it’s about figuring out how to access energy and letting it flow through your body.

6 Steps to Protecting Your Energy This Year

There’s positive energy and negative energy, like good vibes and bad vibes. It’s easy to overlook when negative energy affects us and takes over. With the start of a new year, keep these tips in mind when you’re feeling your energy levels depleting to help protect yourself from negative energy that may be creeping around the corner.

1. Steer Clear of Energy Vamps

Energy vampires do one thing: Suck the energy out of you. Sometimes it’s tough to spot one, but you’ll know the feeling if you feel drained after hanging out with this vampire for a while. It could be a friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone. Be aware of who the energy vamps are in your life and steer clear.

2. Set Healthy Boundaries

Have you heard of reclaiming your time? That wasn’t just a 2017 thing, it’s something you should invest in all the time. Set boundaries in all aspects of your life. Just think of yourself as a mama bear, protecting your energy cub. If you’re not protective, someone or something could come and hurt your baby energy cub. Setting boundaries will let others know where the line is. This is important because everyone has different energy levels.

3. Speak Up

After you’ve identified your energy vamps or your boundaries, you should probably communicate that to someone. Yes, confrontation sucks, but I’ve found out that staying quiet won’t solve anything.

When you turn inward, you can tell when there’s an energy shift and why.

I’ve got some friends who love hanging out after work to relax. I prefer to unwind at home by myself to collect my thoughts. It always made me anxious when they’d ask me for drinks after work because I hated saying, “No.” But saying, “Yes” kept me stressed because I didn’t actually get to unwind from my day.

I realized that instead of feeling obligated to go, I should just speak up. Your friends, family and co-workers will understand if you speak your thoughts. You won’t be able to function when your energy is all wonky.

4. See the Signs

Do you know when your energy is under attack? Some empaths (people who sense and absorb others’ energies into their own body) can be like emotional sponges.

When you turn inward and get more in tune with your energy levels, you may be able to tell when there’s a shift and why. Learn to know your low-energy triggers. Is it when you’re with a person? At a specific place? Doing something in particular? Once you make note of these signs, you may be able to prevent your energy from being attacked.

5. Release What You Cannot Control

I’m so guilty of trying to control what I can’t. There are some things you just don’t have any control over, and that’s OK. Life happens, but what matters is how you react, because that’s what you can control. Life’s frustrations will always get in the way, but you don’t have to stress out about it.

6. Find The Good

Surround yourself with good vibes. This can be your friends who just get you, people or places with great energy, or just doing things that make you feel good. (Like maybe doing Shine’s Feel Good Challenge 2018) 😉

There will always be too much to do and so little time, but the more you protect your energy this year, the more you’ll thank yourself for it later.