Define The Dream, Embrace The Struggle, Note The Small Victories and Lessons Along The Way


I really believe that having a happy, fulfilling, engaging life is quite simple.

Happiness is not a destination, it is to be found in the journey itself.  You don’t become happy after you have achieved.  People who think this are unfortunately destined to spend a large portion of their life unhappily.  We don’t have exactly what we want right now, so we have to learn to enjoy the journey as we pursue what we want.

I have discovered that there are some very important factors that, if not present, impact your ability to enjoy the journey.

1. Compelling Vision For The Future: Not having goals is misery.  Not having a vision for a better future is terrible.  Existence, if that is your only goal, doesn’t get you excited.  Having a goal to “pay the bills” is the most uninspiring goal ever.  You know it!  It doesn’t excite me or you or anyone else. We are hard-wired to be moving and advancing.  There is nothing better than waking up having a sense of purpose and excitement to attack the day.  This only happens if your vision if compelling and your WHY is clear and powerful.  When you have a clear and compelling vision for exactly what you want your life to look like, and you understand why you want it, then you will have an endless energy source.  You cannot have this, and be unhappy.  These principles are mutually exclusive.

2. Acceptance And Embracing of the Challenge:  You are far more likely to enjoy the destination if you embrace, from the outset, the fact that obstacles, difficulties, failures, criticisms, and setbacks are GUARANTEED to be found along the way.  People who are unhappy often get focused on the setbacks instead of just learning to accept them as a natural and frankly healthy part of the journey.  Don’t complain when things get hard!  Did you forget that you were chasing your dreams?  Dreams are not easy.  Don’t kid yourself!  Expect it to be hard, and be happy when it is, because it is making you a better person.

3. Taking Inventory of the Victories and Education Along The Way: When you take a constant inventory of the small victories and lessons that you learn on the way to your goal this gives you a sense of hope, and encouragement that you are moving forward, and motivation to continue.  What you focus on you will feel.  This is the plainest truth that I have ever encountered.  If you focus on the challenges without just simply embracing and accepting them, then you feel burdened.  If you focus on the victories and the lessons then you feel motivated.  This is the “fuel” on your journey.

If you aren’t happy in your life, I dare you to do these three things.  Sustain it for 100 days straight and give me a call.  I guarantee you will be a happier person.

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Where You Are Right Now Is Your Comfort Zone


Where you are right now is your comfort zone.  If you want your business to change for the better then you need to get outside of where you are right now.

You have to go outside of your comfort zone to grow your business.

You have to go outside of your comfort zone to effectively market your business.

You have to go outside of your comfort zone to implement effective systems that will make your business run smoothly.

You have to go outside of your comfort zone to instil powerful habits that will bring positive change to your business.

Where you are right now is your comfort zone.  In the past you went outside of your comfort zone.  It worked!  You grew!  Your business is better for it.  However, right now you are operating in your comfort zone.  If you want to grow again you need (again) to move outside of your comfort zone.

Do something today that is outside of your comfort zone.  Your business will thank you.

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The Path


Make a decision about what you want out of your business.

Determine with crystal clarity exactly why you want it, and that why needs to drive you and trigger strong emotions.

Commit yourself to do whatever it takes to stay on the path.

Make a daily effort to improve yourself, your business, your systems, your processes, and your efficiency.

Strive each day to elevate and master your craft.

Approach each day with discipline, and powerful habits.

Immerse yourself in what you do.

Have passion for what you do.

Give up complaining forever.

Expect the path to be hard.  If it weren’t hard then it wouldn’t be fulfilling.

Expect that mistakes are part of the learning and mastery process, so don’t get hung up when you fall short from time to time.

Model the methods and actions of those that have achieved what you want.

Never give up.

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Sales Tip: Stop Trying To Convince Me


Over the Christmas holidays my family and I took a much-needed vacation to Hawaii.  In order to obtain the significantly discounted rate that was associated with our  ”vacation package” (note to self – don’t ever use a vacation package again) we had to attend a 2 hour timeshare meeting.  Now to those of you who have ever attended these meetings you know where I’m going with this post.  It was a very memorable experience, but not in a good way.

When we arrived at our meeting we were quickly greeted by our “consultant”.  She was kind at first and used some simple “breaking the ice” conversational tools to try to set us at ease.  Shortly thereafter she launched into her attack trying with her very best efforts to convince us, and ushering every single possible reason to support her case, as to why we needed to spend $70,000 today to purchase a timeshare in their resort, and also why if we didn’t do it today then we would be making a huge mistake.

What happened to me as she launched her “attack” was the opposite of what I suspect she would have hoped for.  The moment I felt pressured was the moment that I put up my defence.  I guarded myself (and my wallet) because I didn’t want to be convinced of anything.  The more pressure she applied, the more my guard strengthened.  Truthfully had she met my requests (for example I asked if I could read the legal offering documents), I would have been more open to what she was selling, but because of her “convincing” I shut down, and literally stopped listening to what she was saying.

Many people think that sales is about convincing people to do something.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and frankly it is the worst strategy that you could use.  You can never convince anyone of anything.  People are scared to embark on a sales based career because they don’t want to be “one of the those types of people”.

Here is the paradox:  the best salespeople in the world never convince anyone of anything, and they aren’t “those types of people”.

The best salespeople in the world learn what people want, and then help them to get what they want.  The best salespeople in the world focus not on convincing (ie. getting), they focus on giving (ie. creating real value).

So in your selling efforts stop trying to convince.  Start listening.  Start creating value.  Start giving.

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Learning To Detach


The inward work, however, consists in his turning the man he is, and the self he feels himself and perpetually finds himself to be, into the raw material of a training and shaping whose end is mastery. In it, the artist and the human being meet in something higher.” (Eugen Herrigel, Zen In The Art of Archery)

Our world is driven by results and external rewards.  Much of what we do is based on what we hope to receive for performing a given action.  Many students use earning potential as a focal point of career planing, not the simple premise of what it is that they like doing. Many people would walk away from their jobs today, without hesitation, if they had an alternative way of making the same amount of money that they are currently earning.

Incentives form the basis of the “rational man” (or women) – that mythical creature perfectly in tune with the costs and benefits of every action, and who acts fully in line with his (or her) rational best interest.  I don’t believe that person exists.  In fact I believe in the “predictable irrationality” model articulated by Dan Ariely.

Regardless of our propensity to make mistakes in rational judgment, in my life I have found that when I am detached from the results, and most importantly the rewards or punishments, of a given action, my performance improves.  It is uncanny.  When I lose myself in the moment, when all my energy and focus is solely on performing a task to perfection, only for the sake of performing the task, I get the best results.

When I enter into that state of perfect concentration on the matter at hand, when all other cares of the world cease, including the consequence of not performing the task correctly, I get the best results.  When I desire to perform a task, not because of what I might gain (external reward) or because someone or something is pressuring or compelling me to perform it (external stimulus), when the task is its own reward, I always get the best results.

When I detach, and immerse myself in the moment, in the actual performance of the task, my abilities increase, I see the task with clarity.  My focus is refined, my drive strengthened, my energy abundant.

In this way, I am constantly conditioning myself to detach from external rewards or stimulus.  I am detaching from the reward I might receive (by succeeding in the task) or the punishment or negative consequences that may result (by failing in the task).

As a college basketball player if I focused on the potential praise and sense of self-satisfaction I would have if I scored the game winning shot, or the letdown, and sense of disappointment I would feel, if I missed it, I would be much more likely to miss the shot. If I just lost myself in the moment, and performed the act in a way I had a thousand times before I would be much more likely to score.

In school when I was thinking about the grade I needed to secure a scholarship, I would absolutely perform less successfully then when I simply detached from the result, and allowed my mind to focus with clarity specifically on the test itself – for no other reward than the performance of the exam.  Giving my best in the moment.

As an entrepreneur I am most creative, influential, and effective when I am performing a task for the sake of the task itself, not because of the money I will earn.  I perform best when I am not thinking about the potential rewards of my business growing or the negative consequences (like having to go back to my old job) of stagnation. For each and every task involved in building and marketing a business, when my sole focus is on performing a certain task, and when the task is performed to its completion before moving to a new one, just for the sake of perfecting the task itself, I always get the best results.

Focusing on external rewards leaves you never fully satisfied, always hoping for more, and never mastering your art.

Focusing on external punishments leaves you anxiety ridden, full of fear, never evoking the creative genius inside of you.

Learn to detach.  Focus your art.  Refine your craft.  Pursue your mastery.

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Your Unique Value Proposition To The World


The art of lifestyle design is the art of figuring out what your unique value proposition is to the world. That is, what unique value, as an individual, can you provide to the world in a way that is both personal satisfying and economically viable? To understand your unique value proposition you must first determine what it is that you value as an individual. What are your core values that motivate you most to action? It is important when assessing your core values that the “universal” value trap doesn’t catch you. The “universal” value trap is the fact that there are certain values that are universal, in that everyone values them. If the values that you identify as your core values are “universal” values then you will have a difficult time coming up with a unique value proposition that will provide for your personal satisfaction and economic viability. The primary “universal” values are security (safety) and social acceptance (love). When I discovered this I realized that just about all of the “career” driven decisions that I had previously made in the past, going to law school, pursuing a career with a large law firm, were motivated by my underlying desire to obtain security and social acceptance.

I was seeking my social reference group’s approval and admiration, and becoming a successful attorney would place me in their highest esteem. My social reference group also told me that the path that I was pursuing was the safest (economically speaking), so I had the added reinforcement of this “universal” value being met. When I was in law school the subconscious motivation of having the admiration of my professors and the notoriety of my fellow students made the big firm option most appealing. Also, I was very aware of the earning discrepancy between big firm lawyers and those who pursued alternative career paths.

Making decisions based on “universal” values did not bring me to a place of emotional fulfillment. The reason is that these values were not unique to me. I did not uniquely embrace them. They didn’t make me uniquely passionate. Pretty much everyone values being economically secure and socially accepted. When we are honest with ourselves we can see that much of our habitual behavior is influenced by these universal values. These values didn’t create that “extra” push that is needed to make something great.  They didn’t create that drive to pursue mastery of a subject matter.  With the great excess of choice and information that is available in our world today you have to put forth a unique proposition of value to stand out from the crowd. You will never be able to do this by relying solely on universal values as your underlying motivation.

After I left the practice of law one of the first things that I did was analyze myself, and determine what values were unique to me. I wanted to gain clarity and certainty on the things that were unique to me. I saw my life as a clean slate, a way to rebuild where I didn’t need to play the game that had brought me unhappiness. I knew that if I could tap into my own unique voice then I would have the best chance of creating a proposition to the world that was worthwhile. The first step in determining my core values was to ask myself the question, “At what times in my life have I been the most happy, content and fulfilled”.

The honest answer to this question was not what you would ordinarily think. It was not the vacations or moments of entertainment or indulgence that I had experienced up until that point in my life. Having made a decent income for a number of years prior to my departure from law I had begun to experience the “nicer things” of the world – good vacations, nice cars, nice clothes. These things did not come to mind when I honestly answered this self-directed question. Here is what I came up with (not in any particular order):

1. I was most fulfilled when I felt absolute freedom to pursue any path I chose. When I was unconstrained by social pressure or feelings of expectation to act in a certain way.

2. I was most fulfilled when I was contributing in a real way to others. Adding real value to their life, helping them grow and finding happiness, without any expectation of reward or compensation.

3. I was most fulfilled when I was communicating with others. Either through writing or public speaking.

4. I was most fulfilled when I felt that my life had an element of adventure or risk in it. The times of uncertainty in my life were actually some of the most fulfilling for me;

5. I was most fulfilled when I was spending time with my family and developing my personal spirituality;

6. I was most fulfilled when I was continually exercising my body and living as healthy as possible;

7. I was most fulfilled when I was learning new things, reading new books and ideas and continually educating myself; and

8. I was most fulfilled when I was pouring my whole heart and soul into my work.

After I comprised this list I could see so clearly why I was terribly unhappy in law. Not only were most of my core values not being met, but in some cases my career was actively fighting them. My career had placed my unique values in direct opposition to the universal values of security and social acceptance. The most revealing example is found when looking at my value of freedom. Lawyers bill by the hour, time equates to money, and there are no means of being rewarded for adding value through efficiency, innovation and creativity; therefore I never truly felt free. If I wanted to increase my financial stability (universal value of security) then I needed to spend more time at the firm on billable matters. If I wanted to gain the respect and commendation of the firm partners (universal value of social acceptance) then I needed to spend more time adding law firm social events and networking engagements. I had to make myself known as a team player, someone who would forgo my own personal plans for the needs of the firm. All of these were assaults on my freedom.

I remember once having a conversation with a senior partner at my firm when it was time for associate review. I had not received the same level of bonus as other associates, so I asked whether my work was the same quality. The partner answered that it was, in fact it was better than many. So I audaciously asked why I wasn’t being compensated for it. He said that the other lawyers had billed more hours. I told him that I intentionally try to work as fast and efficiently as possible so that I can get home to my family. Only after doing this value analysis did I fully realize that my unique values of freedom and family time were being full-court pressed by the universal value of security (which was being met by my job as a lawyer).

The assault on my time was ever present by the prisoner bracelet that commonly identified itself as a blackberry. The unspoken mandate of being available at all times, whenever necessary, was suffocating to me, and a real contributor to a great sense of despair in my life. I recall one time getting home from a long week. It was Friday night and I returned home at about 7 pm. I had no established work responsibilities over the weekend so I took the bold step of literally turning my nemesis off. I spent some much needed time with my children and wife and left it off for the remainder of the night. When I turned it back on Saturday, later in the morning, it immediately lit up with multiple messages from firm partners requiring my urgent action on a hostile takeover. Even before I could read the messages, the red flashing light on the blackberry triggered a Pavlovian rush of anxiety throughout my body. I knew exactly what the messages would say before I even read them.

Not only did my time in big law encroach my freedom and alienate me from my family, it also created a dis-empowering environment for my other unique values. I rarely had the flexibility to maintain a consistent exercise regime. My diet was frequently met with fast food and other high caloric, and convenient, options as a result of working through lunch and dinners at the office. There was very little sense of adventure in wading through stacks of contracts or drafting long information circulars, and it was impossible to pursue writing and public speaking opportunities at the time, other than engagements in areas that the firm wished to have a profile in (which areas didn’t interest me). Most importantly I never felt motivated to pour my whole soul into my work.

If I had performed a unique value analysis as a much younger man, and if I would have had the maturity and foresight to not over-embrace the universal values of security and social acceptance, I would have made much different career decisions. I believe that I would have arrived at the place that I am now, but much earlier. After performing this analysis I knew that I needed to spend the rest of my life in these forums: entrepreneurship and writing and public speaking. I knew this because these areas facilitated most my core values.

Right now my wife and I run a direct sales business that is engaging, exciting and provides a real value to others. I also write and speak. I significantly use the internet to facilitate both ventures. All of these activities are aligned with my core values of freedom, adventure, contribution, communication, and education. Because I am my own boss, and can determine my own hours, I have the ability to pursue physical fitness, family and spiritual goals as well. All of this contributes to a much greater sense of well-being and fulfillment. The path that I have chosen in my life is conventionally much riskier, in the eyes of many people; however, since my core values are being met I am tapping into my unique value proposition. Further, since the path is one that I have independently chosen, I desire to master the subject matter. This desire for mastery makes the intrinsic value of performing my work much more valuable than the external rewards of success. I believe myself to be on a much safer long term path, one that more than anything else, will help to provide long term economic security and personal fulfillment, but most importantly, one that will provide emotional engagement, since I am embracing the struggle. I am pursuing mastery of the subject matter.

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Locus of Control


Locus of control is a theory in social psychology that refers to the degree to which an individual believes that they can control the events in their life.

Those with a high internal locus of control believe that they can shape the events in their life. They believe that the results that they achieve are derived from the actions that they take. This type of person will not make excuses if they don’t get what they want when they want it, rather they will look inward instead and ask empowering questions such as “how can I do better?”, “what do I need to change?”, and “what are others doing that I can incorporate into my life to make it better?”.

Those with a high external locus of control believe that they are a victim of the world. They believe that they have very little control over their lives or the events that happen to them. They may give their best towards achieving a goal, but if they don’t get the goal then they look to direct the blame at something or someone other than themselves. They constantly blame others and external circumstances, and play the victim card, if their life doesn’t go exactly as they want, exactly when they want it to.

Psychologists suggest that those with a high internal locus of control are more resilient, more emotionally stable, and more likely to view setbacks as instructional and educational. They are also more likely to seek to influence others in a positive way. Most people are not one or the other; however, they exhibit both external and internal tendencies from time to time.

In the three years that we been involved in direct sales we can see a correlation in the success of a consultant and whether they have an internal or external locus of control.

The consultants who exhibit an internal locus of control are more persistent, adaptive and successful than those who exhibit an external locus of control.

Here is a comparison showing how an internal versus external locus of control individual would view a certain fact scenario:

Fact Scenario: I’m getting very few sales

- Internal: What am I doing wrong?  What do I need to learn to be successful at this?  How can I better communicate?  Who can I model?  What are other successful people doing that I’m not? What do I need to learn about my product to be a better seller? How can I learn from successful people? It can’t always be this way.  If I keep at it then it has to change.

- External: This product is hard to sell. People don’t want it. The economy sucks. Others are better than me.  It is hard to get people interested. It was the prospects fault.  They wouldn’t listen.

I believe that you need to adopt an internal locus of control to be successful long term in life. I also believe that it is the secret to happiness and success in all aspects of your life, no matter what industry you are in.

If you find yourself leaning towards the external side from time to time here are some tips to help you change:

- Make small daily goals and complete them. This will give you momentum and you will realize that you have the ability, internally, to make things happen. Don’t always focus on the big goal or big picture if you have an external locus of control. Chunk it down. Think small and focus on completing a series of small tasks.

- Surround yourself with other people who are internal locus of control people. You will start to see how they think, this will influence how you think.  If you are external locus of control you will start to realize that your worldview is just your worldview.  Other people don’t share it.

- Cut out any media influences that are causing you to be external locus of control. The TV is a big one.  The news can make you believe that everything is outside of your control.  It isn’t.  You have power to shape your life.  You have power to not be a victim.

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Are You “Making A Living” or “Designing A Life”?


Creative, strategic visualization is a fundamental part of my daily routine.  It has been a daily habit ever since I decided that I wanted to leave law and pursue a different path in life.

About a year ago I realized that for most of my adult life I had been reactive.  I had been on the path of “making a living” rather than “designing a life”.  For me, the first four years after I graduated law school were the hardest years emotionally in my life.  I attribute this to the fact that I had no clear direction of exactly what I wanted to accomplish with my life.  When I was at a big firm I found myself having no interest in the path of partnership.  Also I found that money was not that much of a motivator for me (when my basic needs were met).

After I left big law and started my own shop I found that the prospect of doing residential real estate and wills for my entire career didn’t excitement me.  In fact I dreaded it.  Nevertheless it was what I found myself doing each day, so there was an unsettling perpetuation for me.  I was constantly doing something that I had very little interest in long term, yet the problem was that I hadn’t taken the time to clearly articulate for myself a vision of a future that was actually meaningful to me.

In school the destination was always clear – pass the course, get the credit, get the degree.  Because my goals were clear I was able to focus and achieve a state of psychological flow many times.  As a result, school was quite enjoyable for me.  Because my goals were not clear after I graduated, I quickly found myself caught in the trap of “making a living” rather than “designing a life”.  For many people “making a living” is just fine.  However, for me it wasn’t.  I was driven to find purpose, meaning and fulfillment in my life.  So I realized that I could not be passive anymore, I had to be active.

When I started the process of designing exactly in my mind what I wanted with my life I realized I had to leave law to accomplish it.  It was very clear what I wanted.  It involved four specific things:

  1. A business that would provide a passive income stream, in a non-traditional setting (ie. home or internet based) so that I would have the cash flow to pursue my ultimate dream (#2).  I also wanted the freedom not to be constricted by employee and lease obligations.  Therefore a traditional brick and mortar business would not work.  I saw direct sales as optimal. My wife was already experiencing success, so if I joined her we could double the effort and double the results.   I was driven by freedom (so I could pursue my other interests), and contributing to others, not prestige or excessive wealth.  So I had to choose a path that maximized freedom.  Direct sales was the perfect path;
  2. My true passion is writing and public speaking. This is a hard career to crack. It is hard to become a successful writer.  The pay  is uncertain, and you need time to refine your abilities.  You need time to become good.  I want to become a good writer and a good speaker. I believe that our direct sales business is the perfect compliment to my writing career because it gives me time and flexibility to refine my craft;
  3. Physical health is of paramount importance to me.  My life is not fulfilling if I am not healthy; and
  4. My family is the number one priority in my life.  Nothing else matters without them.  Therefore, everything I do had to compliment my family and allow for me to be the best Dad I could.

After I decided with clarity exactly what I wanted, I had to cultivate the habit of creative visualization for many reasons.

First, it is very scary to leave stability to pursue a “dream”.  People criticize you. People doubt you.  If you listen to them then you will start to be scared and you will start to doubt yourself.  In practice I found that a simple daily meditation, where I visualized the successful accomplishment of my ideal life – where I actually saw myself living my ideal life – had a tremendous calming effect on me.  It created courage, and belief.  It created desire and resolve.

After I did it over and over I found that I was almost immune to what people said or thought. I was completely focused on what I wanted to achieve.  I started to get bold.  This is how I got my book contract – by pitching ideas to a publishing company.  I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this if I couldn’t see myself as an author in my mind.  I had to see it first in my mind before I could believe it.

Now visualization is a part of my daily routine. I use a simple methodology.  I have four songs I listen to.  During each song I visualize the successful accomplishment of each of my four ideals noted above.  I actually see, feel, smell, and experience what life would be like having successfully accomplished what I want.  I do it each day.  Each day I am driven with energy and passion and resolve.

Sure I’m not a best selling author, yet.  But in my mind I am, and when I see it in my mind I get certainty in my body that I will do whatever it takes to make my dreams a reality.

How is your visualization going? Is it a habit for you yet? Are you doing it every day? Can you actually see the successful accomplishment of your goals? Do you re-condition this image every day? Does this image fill you with excitement and passion and energy?

If so, this habit will pay off massively for you

If not – WHY NOT!!

Don’t tell me you are too busy. That is only an excuse. It only takes five minutes a day to create a picture in your mind of the successful accomplishment of what you want.

Here is WHY you should do it:

  • The more you visualize the more you will believe in your ability to achieve your goals;
  • The more you visualize the more energy, excitement, and passion you’ll have;
  • The more you visualize the more creative you will be in your business or life; and
  • The more you visualize actually accomplishing your goals, the better you will be able to see the path of HOW to accomplish them.

DON’T LET THE “EXCUSE” OF “I’M TOO BUSY” GET IN THE WAY OF DESIGNING YOUR BEST LIFE. YOU ARE NEVER TOO BUSY TO DESIGN YOUR LIFE.

It makes no sense to go on a road trip without a destination. It makes no sense to try and find someone’s house if you don’t first find out where that person lives.

Your life is exactly the same. You need to determine with clarity exactly where you want to go, and see yourself going there, BEFORE you start moving. Otherwise you get caught in the continual trap of making a living instead of designing a life.

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Mastery (It Can’t Just Be About The Rewards)


Over the last two decades numerous studies in the field of psychology has observed the relationship between external rewards and internal motivation.

The findings are fascinating, and consistent, and they have a direct application to building a business or a career.

In essence the more you focus on external rewards (the pay, the title, the status, etc.) of an action (working on your business, or in your career) the less likely you are to remain internally motivated to pursue that action over the long run. In the short run you will work like crazy to get the reward, but over time, especially after you have achieved a reward or two, your internal drive will decrease.

Author Daniel Pink, in his book “Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us“, describes this relationship as follows:

“Try to encourage a kid to learn math by paying her for each workbook page she completes – and she’ll almost certainly become more diligent in the short term and lose interest in math in the long term. Take an industrial designer who loves his work and try to get him to do better by making his pay contingent on a hit product – and he’ll almost certainly work like a maniac in the short term, but become less interested in his job in the long term.”

There is also evidence that people who are able to maintain their intrinsic motivation in their are jobs or businesses are better able to withstand the trials, discouragements, setbacks and hard times that are inevitable in any business or career. They will stick with their job or career if they like it however, and they like what they do, even if they had to take a pay cut, or experienced economic setback. As a result, they are more likely to achieve the status of a “master” in their field (and receive the associated benefits). Meanwhile, someone who is solely externally motivated is less likely to take the hard road to mastery, particularly if it involves economic setback.

So how does this apply directly to your business or career?

I’m not telling you to get rid of your short term goals, many of which are “external rewards” based. This would be inconsistent with the postings I have done in the past.

What I’m saying is that you should also integrate some internal motivations into why you are doing what you are doing.

It can’t be about the money alone. It can’t be about the title alone. It has to be about something more. Something that will keep you going through the times where it slows down, or you work your best and you don’t get your goal.

Here are some ideas:

- I love my business because of the freedom of being self-employed. It is not just about the $ to me. I love the freedom and I will continue to pursue it, even if it slows down because I intrinsically value freedom;

- I love helping others. This business gives me a chance to help others. I get to contribute in a real way and add value to others. So even if I don’t get a specific goal (external reward), I still love my business because I am helping others.

- I love pursing mastery of a subject. Mastery involves knowing every detail. It involves pure education. You can only receive pure education through failure. It is the process of trial and error. Setbacks are necessary because you can only learn when you are outside of your comfort zone. Therefore if I have a set back and I don’t get an external reward I am not discouraged because I am on the path to mastery.

- Meghann loves the social side of our business.  She loves making relationships, being a mentor, and a support to others.  This motivation is more important to her than the financial side of the business.

We are constantly setting short term goals (external rewards); however, Meghann and I have built in these internal rewards (and many others) into our motivation. These are the keys to our long run success. These are the things that allow us to enjoy the moment, no matter what reward we receive.

When we focus on these, then each day running our business can be a positive one because we are not solely focused on “rewards” as our motivation. We are internally focused. We do things because we want to, and they bring us value.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out


One of the most effective habits that Meghann and I have incorporated into our life over the last three years as we’ve built our business is to filter the information that we allow into our minds.

Case in point: we rarely watch TV or listen to the news on the radio.

We have found that TV, and radio news, added almost zero value to us, particularly the news. Sure I like to watch the odd sporting event (I am a UFC fanatic). However, what we realized is that watching the news, and other mindless television was not helping us in our business or in the other important core goals that we had for our life.

A lot of people have said to me: well you need to know what is going on in the world!!!

My answer to that: Why? Why do I need to know everything?

I am changing the world everyday in a small way by my positive attitude and my influence on others. I am not neglecting my “civil duty” by refusing to be glued to a box for 2 hours a day.

Is our media fix a real need or a cultural habit? A hundred years ago people didn’t have TVs and they did fine. I have spent many many hours in my life reading newspapers, watching news reports, staying on top of current events. However the vast majority of what I read doesn’t make my life better.

When I spent time in this passive pursuit this is what I feel:

  • Doubt (because everyone is telling me how hard it is “out there”, an how bad the economy is)
  • Fear (because I am constantly reminded of all the risks “out there”)
  • Discouragement (because I am constantly reminded of how cruel people can be to each other)

When I take those into my life they start to manifest how I think, what I say, and the actions (or lack of) that I take.

It has been probably a year since I stopped watching the news, or listening to the news on the radio, on a regular basis. I am happier, our business is more successful, I am fully engaged each day in pursuits that I am interested in, I am positive, I am inspired.

All of this occurred – AFTER – I quit my addiction to “being in the know”.

I get the “news” that is important to me through an RSS feed on the internet (one that I can filter and control), and spend the vast majority of my time reading or listening to content that makes me feel good and builds me up.

Going on a self-induced media fast has been wonderful!

Your brain is just like your body. If you feed your body trash, it won’t run as effectively. If you feed your brain trash then the output will be trash (in the form of negativity, discouragement and depression).

The world isn’t as scary as the news would have you believe. There are people each day doing good, helping others, going after worthy pursuits and succeeding in them.

So think about the principle of garbage in, garbage out! Think about what you are feeding your mind.

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Loosening The Grip of Fear


Fear is an every present part of our world. It has been conditioned in us since we were kids. In grade school, we learned to fear giving the wrong answer, fear the bad marks, fear not getting into the right program or right school, fear taking a position that was contrary to our teacher’s. As we grew older we started to fear not being able to make a good living and support our family. We fear not saving enough for retirement. We fear not being able to help our kids with university. We fear losing our jobs, we fear, we fear, we fear.

Many people would love a career change, a move, a new path in life, but they don’t take action because they fear. They fear failing. They fear criticism. The media knows that fear is big business. We rarely hear about inspirational stories on the news (even though these stories occur every day). We hear about the disasters, the business failures, the scandals. Marketers know that fear sells. They use pain as a motivator – in that if you don’t purchase their product, or use their service then “this” may happen to you. We then gladly part with our hard earned dollars because we don’t want “this” to happen (even though the probability of it actually occurring is quite remote in many cases). We are addicted to fear as a culture. As a result many of us live in fear. It has become part of our social conditioning.

Despite being the most technologically proficient species it is remarkable how often we make decisions that are routed in fear. We analyze possible risk as probable, even likely, then we make irrational judgments based on emotions, social conditioning and group influence. As a result we experience a form of self-proscribed paralysis. I believe that it is possible to get to the point where fear doesn’t pervade all of our decisions, however we were socially conditioned to overemphasize risk and cling to safety, and as a result, a re-conditioning must take place to come to terms with fear.

The following method is perhaps one of the simplest, and most practical, that I have come across to help deal with fear. I call it the survive-thrive technique.

First, ask this self-directed question: “What is the worst thing that can possibly happen in the situation”. Often the absolute worst thing that you can think of has basically no chance of manifesting itself. For example, very few people die or lose loved ones by change careers. Usually the very worst-case scenario is simply failure in a desired new venture. Failure will then trigger a chain of events that are possible, for example having to go back to your old employer and ask for your old job back. If the job isn’t available (which it often isn’t) then it may be necessary to get a different job, maybe even a step down in income, or dip into some savings, or sell the boat. Usually this is the absolutely worst-case scenario. In all likelihood the worst case scenario won’t happen, but we’ll run with it for a moment.

The next step is to ask the follow up question: “Can I handle it?” Your response may surprise you. At first you may think that a career setback or a “visible failure” where you are the subject of criticism would be the worst thing in your life, but when you really take time to synthesize this prospect you realize that you have the inner fortitude to handle it. Not only do you have the ability to handle it, but the more you look at it from this angle the more you realize how silly this little fear was in the first place, and you feel foolish that you allowed yourself to spend so much time worrying over something that clearly you had the emotional ability to handle.

This analysis can have a powerful effect on us, because we actually realize our own inner strength instead of being hypnotized by the pervading culture of fear that surrounds us. We realize that we are actually brave. We realize that we have the inner strength to deal with failure or setback. If we experience a setback or a disappointment we will just look for an alternate route to our destination. It is like a feedback mechanism, and it is characteristic of being in a state of flow. We become much more likely at this point to identify the values that are most important to us and then make changes, even if those changes are scary, difficult or challenging.

Now we have momentum in dealing with our fear. Now we are stating to feel brave, even powerful. So then we take the analysis one step further. We ask ourselves this powerful question: What is the best possible thing that could happen in this instance? It is necessary at this step to use the neglected muscle of our imagination to visualize the fulfillment of the best-case scenario. Even better is to experience this visualization by asking yourself these questions: “How would I feel If this took place” and “What does this mean to me?”. This exercise induces a compelling emotional state and excites you to take action. You start to experience again the pull power of a crystal clear and compelling objective.

Other ways to come to terms with disempowering fear is to visualize a situation in your life where you successfully conquered a fear or learned a new skill. If you can recall this experience vividly then you can induce an emotional state similar to how you felt in the original instance. Once this emotional state is induced then you simply remind yourself that this new challenge is the same as the previous one that you successfully navigated. Just like the previous experience, you just need to learn a new skill set in order to be successful in this new endeavour.

We must never forget that fear is the companion to growth. We cannot grow unless we learn. We can only learn when we encounter, for the first time, something that was previously unfamiliar. The correct path is not to try to eliminate fear entirely. Fear is an emotional response giving a signal that you are in unfamiliar territory. The path is then to take action to navigate the unfamiliar territory. Educate yourself as to the rules of this new territory. The problem is never the fear itself; it is how you hold the fear. If you hold fear as inhibitive then you will feel helplessness, depression and paralysis. When you hold fear as simply an emotional signal it results in action, education, energy and empowering choices.

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Do Something Unexpected


Routines are powerful. Habits control most of our life, whether we like it or not. Most of what we do is automatic. If you tracked your behaviour for a week you would realize this to be true.

As a result, one of the ways to take control of your life is to take control of your habits. Make your habits work for you, don’t work for your negative habits, but rather establish positive ones. This doesn’t just apply to your personal life. Habits control your business, and physical health as well.

Every once in a while however it is meaningful to break routine – to do something unexpected, unplanned, spontaneous, just because.

I’m not just talking about your personal life and the way that you entertain yourself. I’m talking about your goals, your dreams, your business, your physical health.

Take a look at your goals. It is likely (if you are actually taking action beyond just wishing and hoping that your life will change) that you have established a fairly well worn pattern of routine about what you are doing to achieve a particular goal.

This is a good thing, because as noted, habits control your life, and if you can establish good habits relating to your business or career activity, you have a better chance of achieving your goal.

Here are the reasons breaking routine every once in a while is a good idea:

  • It keeps you fresh, creates variety and leads to a better overall experience. Doing something new and unexpected is like an adventure. You aren’t sure what you will get (since you probably haven’t done it before). This is fun;
  • A better overall experience will lead to more engagement and fulfillment in your life (so that your life doesn’t become only results or rewards based). There are psychological studies that suggest that solely focusing on the external rewards of a behaviour can actually decrease over time the intrinsic motivation to pursue that behaviour. By breaking routine you can enjoy the process of achievement, not just the result, this is very important; and
  • It gives you a view from 30,000 feet for a moment as to whether your routines are actually effective. Sometimes we get stuck in a hypnotic trap of thinking that what we are doing is effectively moving us closer to our goals when in reality it is just a non-effective behaviour that we have cemented into a habit. We think that we are taking effective action, but in many cases we aren’t. Breaking routine can help you to introspect and look back at your habits and see if they are effective or not.

What are some examples:

  • Do something today in your business that you have never done before but that you have heard other people try;
  • Change up your work-out routine just for the day. Try a new exercise. See if you like it; and
  • Do something totally unexpected with your family today, or with your partner. This will engage excitement and fun and make life less of a grind.
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Do Something That Scares You Today


Do something that scares you today!

Why? Because the more that you do this, the less you will be scared.

Fear is nothing but a conditioned response to a stimulus.  It is an emotion that can be controlled.

You only gain courage however by doing courageous things. You don’t gain courage by reading about courage. You don’t gain courage by watching other people exhibit courage (although this may inspire you to action ). You gain courage by doing things that require courage. Courage is something that must be acquired on your own, by yourself, and no one else.

It is obtained by exhibiting courage in a situation where courage is required.

At first this will be very hard, but the more and more you do it the easier it will become.

Why is this necessary? Because you need courage to live a meaningful life.

You won’t find true fulfillment without getting outside of your comfort zone.

You will not be able to build a business into something special unless you expand your circle of influence beyond those who you presently know.

You will not be able to grow your business rapidly, unless you learn new skills, take risks and make yourself comfortable with the prospect of coming up short from time to time.

You will not be able to grow your business into something special unless you master the art of persistence.

In order to do this you will need courage. The first step in obtaining it is to start doing things that scare you!

So do something today!

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Measure It


You cannot manage or improve something until you measure it!

If you are approaching the end of a goal period then it is time to evaluate and measure.

Remember – there is so such thing as failure, there are only results. So if you overshot (or undershot) your initial goal, take some time and measure how you did.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself:

  • What actions were effective during this goal period (I should do more of these for my next goal)?
  • What actions were ineffective during this goal period (I should do less of these next time)?
  • What actions didn’t I take at all that I should try for the next goal period?
  • How did I learn during this goal period?
  • What do I still need to learn in order to reach my new goal?
  • How do my beliefs need to change in order to reach my new goal?

What can I do today to take a small step toward my goal.

All achievers measure. Top athletes measure their performance. Companies measure their profits and other statistics quarter to quarter. We have to do the same.

We have to run our lives as if we were an olympic athlete or a Fortune 500 company. Otherwise we are just passive observers in life, and being passive doesn’t lead to fulfillment.

Here is how it works:

1. Set a goal.

2. Know exactly why you want this goal.

3. Believe, with absolute certainty, that you can achieve it.

4. Set a time frame for its completion.

5. Take massive action during this time frame. Track your progress. Take 100% responsibility (no complaining or blaming). Give everything that you have.

6. At end of the time frame measure and evaluate, regardless of whether you achieved your goal. Learn from the process.

7. Then set a new goal with a new time frame for completion.

Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat until you get what you want.

We need to be deliberate with our lives. We need to know exactly what we want. Go after it with everything we have. Track our progress and measure results, and then persist until we get it.

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Add Just One Word


Think of your ultimate goal right now.

What is it?

I mean the absolute, ultimate goal. Do you even have one? Is it clear? Is it compelling?

If you have one then you have probably encountered this: when we dream big, it is common for this question to set in, “Can I do it?”

If you dare to dream big (which many people don’t), it is natural for that small seed of doubt to creep in – is it possible you may say? Can I do it?

If you answer that question, even in the slightest way, with the word no, or “I’m not sure”, you lose momentum. It happens subtly but quickly, and its consequences are real.

Whether you believe you can or you can’t – you are right!

The entire exercise changes when you add just one word: How

When you change the question “Can I do it” to “How can I do it” magic happens.

Magic happens because you are forced to exercise that often neglected muscle – your brain. You are forced to visualize. You cannot answer the question of “How can I do it” without seeing yourself doing it. It also forces you to have to see the path to the accomplishment.

The word “How” empowers you. The word “How” makes you think of the ways that you can take action. It directs your focus, away from doubt, and towards self-reliance.

The word “How” assumes there is a way, you just need to find it.

The word “How” changes your thinking. The word “How” changes you.

Sharon Wood, the first North American woman to climb Mount Everest, described her experience, “I discovered it wasn’t a matter of physical strength, but a matter of psychological strength. The conquest lay within my own mind to penetrate those barriers of self-imposed limitations and get to the good stuff—the stuff called potential, 90 percent of which we barely use.”

When you embrace the word “How” you start to tap into that 90 percent!

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Own It….100% of It


Want to know the key turning point in my life? It was the moment that I decided that I would own it.

Own what? Own my life.

Own everything that happened to me.

Own my choices.

Own my happiness.

Own my life.

Well that is kind of silly isn’t it you may say? Don’t we all own our life?

Yes we do, but many of us are hypnotized to think that other things are responsible for whether or not we succeed or fail, whether or not we are happy or dissatisfied, whether or not we get what we want or we don’t.

You see my life, my attitude, and my happiness, completely changed when I rejected that belief. When I accepted 100% responsibility for myself and my life, for my goals and my business, for what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.

What does owning it mean?

It means that you aren’t allowed to blame anyone or anything if life doesn’t go the way that you want it to, if you don’t get what you want exactly when you want it. You are responsible for everything that happens to you, so if you don’t get what you want when you want it then YOU need to change. You can’t worry about, or blame, anyone or anything else.

It means that you can’t complain. Complaining does absolutely nothing to move you forward to what you want. If you complain then you aren’t owning it. You are suggesting that there is a factor outside of your control that determines your fate. If you own it then you believe that fate is in your hands, you control what you will be and what you will do.

It means that if your business isn’t going exactly the way you want then you absolutely cannot point to the economy, the government, the customers – see that is blaming.  You have to look inward.  There are many examples, too many to list, of companies that were STARTED in an economic depression.

We got into direct sales in the fall of 2009, right in the middle of an economic collapse!  Right at a time where people said that it was “risky” to start a business.  We ignored them.  Look at where we are now!

Do not let the TV or the talking heads tell you what you can or cannot do, what is safe or risky. They are sitting in a studio! Most of them have never even had a business! What do they know. Don’t let a politician tell you what your fate is. You determine your fate. No one else. Don’t trust that anyone has your best interest in mind.

You have to own it! You have to do it yourself.

There will be many people who will say, “well objectively that isn’t true, people are born with disadvantages, you don’t do everything yourself”.

But yet there are many people, too many to mention, who are born with disadvantages who own their life and then do tremendous things. They are able to rise above because they refuse to play victim. They refuse to sit back and act like someone owes them something because of where they were born. They own it.

I want to own it. I will live with that belief. I will take full responsibility. It is the most empowering mental state that I have ever encountered. When I own it I feel like fate is in my power. This gives me hope, this gives me motivation. When I play victim I get discouraged because then I believe that “I am powerless to change it anyway”. So I choose to own it instead.

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Choices


We are all the same. We all breathe. We all have 24 hours in the day.

It is easy to find excuses in life though. It is easy to play the victim. It is easy to say – I don’t have this advantage, that person was born into a better circumstance, etc.

But in the direct sales business excuses don’t work. It doesn’t matter what your education is, where you grew up, where you live now. It doesn’t matter your ethnicity, or social community. Everyone one is exactly the same. Everyone has the same ability to build this business. Direct sales is the great equalizer.

So what makes the difference in our business? What allows some people to thrive and succeed.

Simple – all we are, and all we have, is just an accumulation of the choices that we make, each and every day, day after day.

Our choices are our best friend or our greatest enemy.

Everything in your life exists because you first made a choice about something. Each choice started a behaviour. Over time, if you continued that behaviour then you created a habit. Habits control your life.

So what are the choices that you are making in your business?

What are the choices you will make today?

Will you choose to make 5 calls, 10 calls, 20 calls, 40 calls, 0 calls?

Will you choose to complain if you have a party that doesn’t go exactly how you want or will you choose to dig in and ask yourself how your next party will be great?

Will you choose to watch TV tonight after the kids go to bed, or will you choose to put in that extra effort, burn a little midnight oil to make your business great?

Will you choose to learn a new skill? What skill? Or will you choose to do the same things that you have always done, even if you aren’t getting the results you want?

What will you choose?

By not choosing anything you are making a choice – you are making a choice not to choose! You have chosen to be a passive receiver of whatever comes. You have chosen to be part of someone else’s dream, instead of your own.

Every part of your life, in every way, is determined by the choices that you make.

Choose wisely! Choose the path of resistance. Things don’t come easy, and good things are never free. You make your choices, and then, your choices make you!

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See It Everywhere


Vision boards and other visualization tools are great. Repetition can build desire. When you see your vision board, repeatedly, you are reminded of what your goals are.   You are reminded of just what you want.  This gets you excited and motivated.

If you are consistent with your visualization efforts then eventually you will get good at actually seeing yourself accomplish your goals.

Once you start doing this then you will have even more motivation, and more importantly, you will actually start to believe that you can accomplish your goals. Belief is the key to actually pulling it off.

Once you start to believe that you will accomplish it (once you believe that it is a certainty) then you will start to feel the feelings associated with accomplishing this goal.

Once you start doing feeling then you will experience a tremendous pull towards your goal.

Here is an observation that I have however, in doing coaching work, that I have noticed when it comes to people using vision boards to drive emotional pull:

Their vision board is located in one place in their house, and they will often go days without looking at it, focusing on it, visualizing the successful accomplishment of the things that are on there, and feeling the emotions associated with accomplishing them.

Basically the vision boards turn into nice posters, pieces of art, if you will.

What is the point of that?

If you are going to make one, then don’t miss out on its power.

Making a vision board is not just a feel good exercise (for when you make the board).

It can be a tremendous catalyst for change in your life if you experience (see and feel) the successful accomplishment of your images and you condition it consistently through habit. You will wake up each day with tremendous energy and go to bed full of ideas.

You won’t get that power from your vision board, or goal statement, if it just sits somewhere like a piece of art collecting dust.

Here is a better strategy that I have learned – and I do with myself. It is called the “card technique”.

I take 5 or 6 small blank pieces of paper the size of business cards.

On the cards I write a one or two word reminder, “a word picture”, of what I want for each of my 3-4 top goals.

For example I will write one or two words that remind me of a business (or any other) goal that I have set. Just one or two words for that goal that have the effect of bringing to life an image.

I then do another word picture for the other goals I have, so that each card will end up with 3 or 4 simple word pictures on it. I then make 5 or 6 identical cards and tape them everywhere. On my laptop. On my bathroom mirror. In my car. On my desktop computer.

So basically wherever I go during the day I am constantly seeing what I want by just reading a one or two word reminder. But I don’t have to go to my vision board. I keep my vision board with me, wherever I go. But I allow my mind to make the image. The words remind me of what I want. My mind makes the images. There – that is my vision board. It is with me everywhere.

Do that for 100 days in a row and watch the awesome motivational power that you’ll have. It is incredible. You will see your images so much, so often, you will believe they are possible and you will take action like you never have before.

Try it even for a week and see the change!

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There Is Only One Way To Lift The Weight


I recently started weightlifting. I have never done this in my entire life before. I was inspired by a friend who had made dramatic changes to his body. It’s been about six weeks, and I have been consistent six days a week, without fail.

A few observations in this new little life experiment:

1. I absolutely love how I feel when I lift. It is funny that I spent thirty-three years of my life not feeling this way. I consistently exercised, but it was only ever cardio. My willingness to experiment and try something new has led to an incredible discovery of something that I truly enjoy.

2. I love the feeling of small incremental growth. It feels great to be able to lift more than I did the week before. I don’t really care what the other guys in the gym are lifting. That isn’t my concern. I get in my own zone and it feels great.

3. There is only one way to lift the weight. There are no shortcuts. I can’t will my way to lift more weight than my muscle strength will allow. I can’t wish, or hope for anything other than what I can do. The sheer “weight” brings reality to awareness really quick. If I want to be strong, if I want to build my body, there are absolutely no shortcuts.

Your business is exactly the same way. The more you engage in it, the better you will feel about it. As you see small growth that growth will make you feel great. You will get in your own zone, realize you are on your own path, and focus on your own unique goals.

Exactly like the reality of the weight, there is also the reality that there are no shortcuts for you to build your business. Wishing and hoping will ignite your desire and your passion, but it is your feet that must get moving to build your business. There are no shortcuts. Just like there are no shortcuts for me to lift additional weight. I have to put in the hard time. I have to be consistent, every single day, and if I do then I will get stronger and stronger, slowly.

Your business is exactly the same. If you are consistent, day by day by day, it will grow. You will see that growth. You will feel great, but you can’t build it by only putting in a little action, on inconsistent time frames. You have to be consistent.

There is only one way to lift the weight.

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The Ripple Effect


Small changes or actions that are implemented in your business and consistently applied can have a positive ripple effect on many other aspects of your business and life.

For example, the small habit of each day visualizing the successful achievement of your goals, and “feeling” what it feels like to accomplish these goals will put you in a positive state. This state will ripple into action in your business. However, the ripple effect doesn’t stop there. The positive ripple continues to your personal life, where you are a more positive person and therefore able to better handle personal challenges and make relationships magical.

Another example is the small action of making a couple phone calls each day to market your business or train your team. This action, if consistently applied over time, will not only build your business, but it will give you more courage. Courage in turn will give you confidence. Confidence will help you massively in your business because as you speak to others about what you do you will convey passion and excitement and no fear. Again, this will impact your personal life in a very positive way.

Another positive example is the habit of each day making contact with your downline. Genuinely praising their victories, reaching out in a sincere way to add value to them (however they need it). When you do this consistently, it will ripple into your business. You will feel motivated to build your business when you are helping others with theirs. You will feel positive about your business because you are expressing positivity in others. You will have a habit of looking for the good things in life because you have been challenging others to do the same.

Small dis-empowering actions, or negative belief patterns, can have the same ripple effect. For example a habit of complaining when things go wrong in your business will put you in a negative emotional state. When you are in a negative emotional state then you will have less resilience to deal with trials and challenges in your relationships and personal life.

When either small action (positive or negative) is sustained over time there is a magnification of the ripple. The longer you sustain it the greater the magnification.

So start today. What is a small action that you can do each day in your business? This will form a keystone habit and over time will produce massive results.

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The Power of Compounding


Have you ever had this experience:

You don’t see someone for a very long time, and when you do, they have changed their appearance in a very positive way. But that change is very noticeable – such that one of the first things that you say to them is “wow, you look great!”.

We can see great changes from a distance. They are immediately visible to us because our frame of reference for the individual is based on a different image.  However, to the person who is undertaking the change, the results aren’t visible immediately. They are the product of many, many small and consistent actions that are applied over time to create great results.

When a person who is changing themselves looks at their growth, day by day, the results aren’t immediately visible . The change is noticeable when they look at the results, after a period of consistent action, from what they were like when they started to what they are like at the end.

But what drives the change are small, consistent actions applied over time. Habits, therefore, can have the most powerful effect over our life, and the changes we want, than anything else.

Our businesses are exactly the same. You don’t often see immediate results from the day to day actions that you consistently take. However, when you carry forward these actions every day over a long period of time then growth is noticeable to people whose frame of reference is what your business looked like at the very beginning.

This is the principle of the Compound Effect – the reaping of huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices that are consistently made (and built into habits). Even though the results are massive (when looking back from the beginning), the steps, in the moment, don’t feel significant.

In your business, doing the little things may not feel significant in the moment, and they may not yield immediate results in the day.  However, if you consistently apply these actions.  If you do them every single day for a significant period of time then you will see massive results.

So what little positive actions in your business can you start doing every single day? Keep at it and reap the compounding rewards.

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Are You Doing What You Love?


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Consistency


Consistency

There is no key to success in our business more important than consistency.

Here is a pattern that we unfortunately have seen over the years with consultants who don’t get the results they want and get stuck growing their business: They aren’t consistent in their actions.

They will get fired up at convention, spring sprint or a team meeting.

After the event they will make goals, and renew their commitment to achieve.

But when you track the consistency of their actions six months after the event they don’t align with the desire in their hearts.

Having passion and belief and excitement is critical. You can’t succeed without it.

But passion, without taking consistent action is like flooring the gas pedal with the parking brake still on. You’re not going to get very far without doing damage to the vehicle.

Without consistency your recruits, leads, parties, opportunities will start to dry up. Without consistency your attempts at online marketing will be a waste of time and money.

So how can you be consistent? One of the ways that Meghann and I have learned is to track certain daily actions that we do, and ensure that they take place each day.

We did this when we were still working at other jobs. We just had to sacrifice certain things (TV) to get them in.

If you aren’t taking daily action in your business then your WHY power isn’t strong enough. Even a small action, a half an hour a day, will have a massive compounding effect over time.

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There Is No Magic Bullet, Secret Formula or Quick Fix in Direct Sales


Over the past 3 years my wife and I have been able to build a very successful direct sales business.  Successful enough to fully support us with a full-time income comparable with that of a professional.

There have been a lot of interesting observations that we  have made and comments that we have received along the way.  My favorite is the suggestion that we have been “lucky” in some way.  That the thousands of hours that we have put into this business, the time and money we have invested, really doesn’t matter.  What is most important in life is luck! Ha, if only I was so lucky!

Since I do a lot of online marketing I am constantly seeing adds from so called “SEO Professionals” who are guaranteeing results with little or no real action, at a very little cost.  I wonder how often these types of people are able to actually dupe people out of their money.  My suspicion unfortunately is that it happens quite often.

We live in a world of instantaneous results.  If we want to see a movie now, we don’t have to go to the video store.  We just push a button and we are billed directly.  We are constantly bombarded by messages that things can happen fast.  We can learn to speed read and change our life overnight by listening to these tapes.  We can look like Georges St. Pierre in 90 days, without having to give up the 20 years that he did to make himself look that way.  We can learn to flip homes and be a millionaire in six months.  Everything is available now and for only three easy payments of $39.95.

It is total crap and it is a lie.  The old fashioned work ethic that defined previous generations is just as needed today, perhaps more because of the commonality of deception in the marketplace.   This deception is most prevalent in my opinion in the direct sales industry.  We hear so often the comment “Oh, that is a pyramid thing right?”

Why is it that we get this question often.  The answer is simple.  A lot of the general public doesn’t trust people in this industry.  The reason:  There are way too many liars.

There are too many liars that claim that you just need to sign up and you will be wealthy in no time.  That within six months you will be rocking your new car as you pull out of the parking lot heading to your retirement party.

There are too many liars that mislead you on the actual effort that it takes to build a business like this.

There are too many liars that make people believe that it is easier than it really is.

Then, when people get duped and sign up, and find out that the business is actually hard, that you have to do stuff that scares you in order to be successful, they feel ripped off and they quit.  Then they bash the industry.

Meghann and I aren’t liars.  This business is fantastic.  It is giving me freedom to pursue lifelong dreams (like being a writer) but it is hard.  We have had to work out butts off for three years straight to make a decent full time income.  We have had to get outside of our comfort zone, overcome our fears, and push past discouragement thousands of times.

As our team has grown we find that a good majority of our time is spent training and coaching.  It seems that when a consultant isn’t experiencing the results that they want in their business a combination of the following factors are present:

1. They don’t work their business every day. They will often work their business in fits and starts. They will work often a couple days in a row, or a long day on a weekend (for a show or party) but consistent applied action every day (even it is just an hour) generally isn’t there.

2. They haven’t been able to move past their friends and family. When they first started the business they had a spike in sales (related to parties or sales with their friends and family). They may have even had a recruit or two (generally from friends or family) but after a couple of months they start to stagnate. However, they have not done anything significant, other than a few sporadic actions, to move their business outside of their friends and family.

3. They stick close to what they know, and what is comfortable. They will do actions that are easy (like post statuses on Facebook), or talk to friends and family. But they won’t often move outside of their comfort zone.  If they do, it is usually on an experimental basis (like they will go take a couple actions that scare them, go do a couple calls) but if they don’t get the results that they want quickly then they will retreat back to where they are comfortable.

4. They are rarely experimental with their business and are afraid to get out there and try.

5. They underestimate what it takes to be really successful in this business

6. They get down or discouraged far too easily.

7. They haven’t been working their business for that long.

Here is the TRUTH about this business: It is the best business in the world (in my humble opinion). You can make a professional income (heck you can make a Rock Star income). You can have ultimate freedom. You can have a life of contribution and excitement.  You can (eventually) free up your time to do the things you love.

Here is the CATCH about this business:  It is HARD. There are no shortcuts. There is no magic bullet. You have to do things that scare you. You have to get outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misleading you and doing you a disservice. If you believe anyone who tells you than you won’t have to work your butt off, overcome your fear, be consistent every day, you are bound for disappointment.

You don’t become wealthy by taking a few safe actions here and there on a home based business. There is no magic bullet, secret formula, or quick fix in direct sales.

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Being Bulletproof


This guy is fascinating!

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/

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Feel The Pull


Each day I have a habit. It is one of the first things that I do in the morning. I go down to my office and I turn on Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Over the Rainbow”. Ever since my first trip to Hawaii in 2010, hearing this song immediately puts me in an empowered and positive state. While the song is playing I visualize. I visualize the successful accomplishment of my ultimate goals (long term), and then I visualize the successful accomplishment of my short term goals.

When I visualize I try to create a picture in my mind as clear and vividly as possible.  I then take the visualization a step further.  I ask myself the following questions:

- How do I feel, having successfully accomplished this goal?

- What does the successful accomplishment of this goal mean to me?

Then, in my mind, I answer these questions, and I experience the feeling of the successful accomplishment of my goal. I experience the feeling of what the goal means to me.

By the time this exercise is done (and it lasts only the length of the song) I feel a tremendous PULL in my life. My vision for what I want my life to look like is pulling me. Willpower is no longer necessary. I don’t have to convince myself of anything. I am being pulled. The vision is so clear, so compelling, and so vivid that it creates an incredible force in my life. The power of pull.

It hasn’t always been this way. Up until a couple of years ago my daily habits were like most peoples. I would wake up and immediately I would think of all the things that I needed to DO. My to do list would control my mind and my schedule. But here is the problem. When I was directed by what I needed to DO, this created anxiety in my life. I would get stressed very easily. I would get frustrated very easily at all the things that I needed to DO that I didn’t want to do. I would plan my life based on my to do list, but I never felt the passion, the excitement and the energy of the pull that I now feel.

When you are being pulled by a compelling vision you don’t feel fear or anxiety, you feel excitement and anticipation. The key however is that you have to experience it first in your mind or order for the power to manifest. You have to feel what it feels like to successfully accomplish your goal. Once you have felt that your mind will work like a tracking device, a heat seeking missile, pulling you to the vision that you have already experienced.

All it takes is a simple habit and a pattern of conditioning for this to work.

You have 5 minutes each day to do this.

Stop the dis-empowering pattern of the TO DO list. Don’t be passive in your life. Don’t let stress and anxiety of what needs to be done control you. Create in your mind a clear and compelling vision of exactly what you want, and then feel the pull. When you feel the pull you will work into the night without fatigue. You will wake up early, excited and engaged to take the necessary steps you need to make the vision in your mind a reality.

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Be Where You Are – The Power of Flow


Every single day Meghann and I look at our vision boards, at the things we want to accomplish in our life; and we visualize the successful accomplishment of these goals. We see it in our minds as if it has already been accomplished. We then try to “feel” what it feels like to accomplish these goals because we know that when we can experience the feeling, an excitement is created which gives us motivation to push and fight towards our desired outcome.

We have discovered however, that our best results, in a given activity, come when we are completely focused on that given activity. We get the best results when we immerse ourselves in the moment of what we are doing – when we actually are (both in our minds and our bodies) exactly where we are supposed to be at that time.

Therefore if we are doing a party, then our entire focus is on that party and making it the best party possible. If we are doing a recruiting night then our entire focus is on the recruiting night and the needs of the people who are attending. If we are training our team then our entire focus is on the training and the needs of our team.

If we start to focus on our goals during an activity then we lose purpose, we start to act on results, and our actions are never as passionate, enthusiastic and effective as when we get off results and stay on purpose. Each action that you undertake in your business has a purpose. If you focus on that purpose, not on the results of your action, then ironically you will often get the best results.

This principle is known in psychology as “flow”. When you induce periods of flow you will also find that you enjoy the actions more then when you are engaging in actions with a focus solely on the results that you hope to obtain from the action. When you immerse yourself in the party, and engage fully with the participants you will find that you start enjoying parties. The same is true even for some of the activities that you may not particularly like. One of the primary reasons you dislike them is because you are focused on an externality – a result or consequence of the activity. When you get off result and focus on purpose then the enjoyment of the activity always enhances.

This principle isn’t just related to direct sales. If a professional athlete has his mind on something else during the game, he will never perform at the same level as the person who is immersed in the game. A pilot who isn’t immersed in the details of a flight poses a potential risk to her passengers. We all know that there is nothing more frustrating than being in a relationship and trying to connect with someone whose mind is obviously elsewhere.

So as you work your business this fall season, be exactly where you are when you are there. Don’t be worried about personal promotions, pay cheques or incentive trips when you are doing a party. Just do the best party that you can. Don’t be worried about hitting a recruiting goal or becoming a superstar director when you are talking to someone about the business opportunity. Just focus on them, their interests, their concerns, their needs. When you build this behavior into a habit ironically you will find that it will propel you closer and closer to your goals then when you focus on results.

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The Power of Keystone Habits


Our life is a reflection of our actions, that is, we are the sum of all of our behaviors. Whether we realize it or not, most of our behaviors are habits, in that we act every single day, in a certain ritualized method.

It has been attributed to Aristotle the quote “men are what they repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit”.

Habits control your business. You may have empowering habits that are propelling you to success. For example you may have a habit of taking new action every single day in your business. You may also have a habit of looking for the opportunity that exists in every circumstance.

You may also have dis-empowering habits that are hurting your business. Many of the dis-empowering habits that people have are subtle, but can have a powerful negative effect. For example, a common dis-empowering habit is to immediately complain, try to point blame, get discouraged, or think negative when an obstacle or trial shows up in your life.

Not all habits are equal. Certain habits (both positive and negative) can have a trickle down effect on all of your habits and therefore all of your actions and your entire life.

A keystone is a central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole structure together, or the central principle or part of a policy, system, etc., on which all else depends.

Keystone habits are “small wins” (or the steady application of a small advantage) which lead to other small wins. Small wins start a process that over time can change everything. Small wins fuel transformation changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within their read.

Here are some common examples of keystone habits (or small wins) that, if consistently carried out, have a positive trickle-down effect on all of your actions.

  • Consistent exercise despite a busy schedule;
  • Daily visualization of the successful accomplishment of your key goals;
  • Daily expressions of gratitude for blessings in your life.

What are some keystone habits that you can put into your business and life today?

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The Pendulum of Life


Life is a lot like a swinging pendulum. On the one side of the pendulum is happiness, fulfillment, excitement, variety, interest, and on the other side is the POTENTIAL for failure, risk, disappointment, and criticism.

If the pendulum stands still and doesn’t swing then nothing happens. Sure you don’t have failure, you don’t have any risk, you don’t have any disappointment and no one says anything bad about you; however, you also miss out on all the excitement of life, the fulfillment, the variety, the interest and the happiness.

YOU CANNOT SWING A PENDULUM ONE WAY.

Think about this for all aspects of your life.  In every relationship there is a risk that your heart can be broken. When you raise a family there is a risk that child will make bad choices that bring pain to themselves and others.  However you don’t run away from a relationship or a family because you are scared of the POTENTIAL for pain.  You are willing to take a risk because you want the other side of the pendulum.

Now think about your business.  On the one side is financial freedom, excitement, fulfillment, success, but on the other side is the POTENTIAL for rejection, criticism, failure and disappointment.

Unfortunately we see many people who let the pendulum stand still. They don’t want the failure, the rejection or the disappointment, so they don’t take massive action where risk is present. However, what they fail to recognize is that by making this choice they are also missing out on the other side of the pendulum – financial freedom, fulfillment, variety and excitement.

My advice – swing that sucker high!!!!

The less you are scared of the “bad side” of the pendulum and are willing to charge ahead (who cares if you fail anyway, failure is never permanent unless you accept it as such) then the pendulum will eventually swing to the good side.

I believe this is a universal law – if you are willing to push the pendulum to the “bad side” then it will inevitably swing the other way!

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Risk and the Virtue of Failure


I visited my nine year old daughter’s school recently and was amazed by the technological advancements that are present in today’s classrooms.  Nothing like my elementary experience – her classroom was filled with laptops, smart boards, interactive computer assisted devices and gadgets.  Something that I couldn’t even imagine when I was nine.  I can recall with excitement the day I saw my first Atari game console.  I used to get so excited to go to my cousin’s house because he had a Commodore 64.  Things have changed dramatically since then, but in many ways they are exactly the same.

The way students are taught is still the same.  There is the stick (although these days not as much a literal one) which is generally manifest in detentions or punishments for disobedience, poor marks, failing grades for the “wrong answers” and the requisite parent teacher interview to discuss the child’s progress relative to her peers.  There is also the ever present carrot – rewards for good behaviour, good marks and positive endorsements for the “right answers”.  Generally a well behaved child may even be fortunate enough to earn a positive “label” such as smart, gifted, talented or advanced.  A poorly behaved child, particularly one who is adept at giving wrongs answers, will also earn a “label” of a different, and far more troubling kind given the phenomenon of the Pygmalion Effect.

In the most formative years of our life we are behaviourally conditioned to seek the right answers, get praise from people who are in a position to give it, and avoid inconsistency or disruption at all costs.  Failure is terrifying.  We are led to believe that failure brings with it social isolation, a lack of opportunities in life, a path of uncertainty that few would voluntarily trod.  Our pattern of socially conditioned decision making causes many of the best and the brightest of today to seek career opportunities where security and prestige (the carrots in elementary school) are the defining rewards.

There is a reason that this model perpetuates.  It is the industrial revolution factory model of education and career advancement.  There are plenty of factory vacancies out there in the world that need to be filled.  Those who run the factories in our society (the power structures) need model obedient factory workers. We are conditioned to be model and obedient from the time we are children with the carrot and the stick.  We are also conditioned to believe that there are certain avenues in life that are relatively risk free – that if we attain certain status positions for example, that we really won’t have to deal with the twins terrors of risk and failure.  Our position in the factory system will be secure, we will be able to live out the duration of our lives in peace and pleasure.

I had a conversation with a professional recently that left me saddened.  It was very clear that this individual’s heart was not in their current profession.  They wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial path however they were concerned about the risks inherent in this type of engagement.  I inquired what was keeping them in their current position – it was clearly not the day to day satisfaction of what they were doing (as they really didn’t enjoy it at all).  It wasn’t necessarily the money (despite making great money the individual wasn’t really that worldly).  On further inquiry it was the issue of risk and the possibility of failure.  This individual saw their current path as secure, and one where a base professional competency would allow them to never have to deal with failure.

I asked this individual why they thought their path was secure.  Their answer was because they felt they had met the base level of competency for their profession and the odds of making a material, catastrophic, career impacting error was minimal at this point.  My next question got them thinking however.  I said well what is the purpose of work?  They had a little more trouble with this one.  Their answer was part altruistic (provide value to society) and part temporal (save for retirement, legacy build for family, material comforts and possessions).  The altruistic motivation was less convincing when I asked the follow up question of whether this current profession was the best way that this individual, as an individual, could add value to society (their answer was no).  So they were left with a base primary motivation as saving for retirement, legacy building, and the acquisition of material comforts and possessions.

So then I asked – how do you not see the risk in your position?  I find your premise terribly risky!  You are foregoing the best 30 years of your life in terms of energy and the ability to contribute to others, on the gamble that you actually live until you are 65, and at that time have the health, desire and ability to actually pursue other things.  Plus it is very likely at that point that you will not have the ability to pursue your entrepreneurial aspirations, so you are further risking the premise that you will actually be content with a typical “retiree’s” lifestyle (for the record one that I have zero interest in).  Your path is just as risky, if not more risky, in my eyes than my path – moving away from a traditional,  more secure, track to an less traditional, less secure track, so that I can experience fulfillment and engagement in the present moment.

There was more to our conversation however – a part that was unstated, but rang more prominent than anything that was said.  The real issue wasn’t risk.  It was the possibility of failure – and worst of all – public failure.

Why are we conditioned so efficiently to be terrified of failure?

If I take a scientific method to my life, isn’t failure not only helpful, but also absolutely necessary.  I start with the premise that I want to accomplish X objective.  Yet I don’t know the exact path to accomplish X objective.  Therefore, I seek input from others who have knowledge of X objective (and how to obtain it).  However, I soon find out that despite their input and knowledge, the path is one that ultimately I must discover on my own.  In order to discover the path I must gain knowledge and experience, and the best way to do that is to fail.  Fail and learn. Fail and grow.  Learn from mistakes.  Gain good judgement from making bad decisions.  Really then there is no such thing as failure. There are only results.  This is a scientific process.  If I don’t get the result that I want then I just change my approach.  I continue to change my approach until I get the result that I want.

Why are we so scared of this process?  Why do we condition our kids to be so terrified of failure?  Isn’t failure the only way that we can ultimately grow?

A primary reason that we avoid failure at all costs is that we really don’t like criticism.  Criticism makes us feel alone, isolated from the pack.  When we are alone we are in danger.  We don’t have the protection of the group.  Right?

However, some of the most fantastic advancements in our world have been the product of trial and error – or in other words “failure”.

Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error  said,  “Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list”. “It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition.”

“Failure and defeat are life’s greatest teachers [but] sadly, most people, and particularly conservative corporate cultures, don’t want to go there,” says Ralph Heath, author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big. “Instead they choose to play it safe, to fly below the radar, repeating the same safe choices over and over again. They operate under the belief that if they make no waves, they attract no attention; no one will yell at them for failing because they generally never attempt anything great at which they could possibly fail (or succeed).”

In my opinion the biggest reason that people are terrified of failure is that they haven’t engaged the first step in the scientific method – they have no idea what they actually want.  They don’t even know what they are looking for.  They have no clue what the objective is.  They see the objective in general terms and it usually deals with a base level of material comforts, social position, and community significance.  So they cling to the institutions that they think will best provide these.  The problem is that these institutions rarely provide them with fulfillment.

The simple answer – determine exactly what you want with clarity and then pursue it using a scientific method.  Trial and error, and failure, being a necessary and valuable part of the process, until your desire is obtained.

Failure can be a virtue.

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Making The Case For A Different Model of Success


I am what you could call a “reformed achiever”.

Let me tell you how I used to be.  You are probably familiar with people like this – driven, ambitious, sensitive.  Deep down rarely ever fully satisfied, and also deep down quite insecure.  Always needing external reinforcement, acknowledgment, significance to feel complete.  At an early age I started to equate love with achievement and significance. I don’t blame anyone for this association, it is what it is.  However it did crystallize into a major subconscious belief system when I was very young.

In elementary school, I skipped grade five. This was not my choice, although at the time I did not resist. I can recall feeling both a sense of anxiety, but also accomplishment, when I was pulled into my elementary school principal’s office, at the end of my grade four school year, and told of the administration’s decision. I was scared of how my peers would treat me. I was scared that my grade four classmates would think that I believed I was “too good for them” and that the grade six kids would ostracize me as a “know it all”.

In many respects both fears materialized. My proclivity towards acknowledgment based achievement was not diminished by my fears or the circumstances of the time. If anything my insecurity, and my need for significance, grew stronger because of my feelings of solitude, as a result my ambition and my need to receive other’s positive acknowledgment grew stronger also. I used fear and pain to drive me. I excelled at pretty much everything I did – constantly seeking acknowledgment from leaders, teachers, coaches, my parents. Each time I received praise, won an award, achieved a goal, the acknowledgment I received, both internally and externally, numbed the pain of insecurity.

My proclivity towards acknowledgement based achievement continued throughout high school, where I was an athlete and honours student, and into college where I excelled in my studies, and further into law school where I graduated with honours. Frankly I had no interest in going to law school or becoming a lawyer.  At the time, I pursued law because I thought it was prestigious, it would provide a good income stream for my family (I already had children at the time) and because I thought my father wanted me to pursue this field of study. My heart was in the intersect of psychology to leadership and business.  I wanted to be a business coach or a consultant. I wanted to help people find success and build successful lives and businesses.  I didn’t follow my heart. I followed my insecurities.

My first job out of law school was with one of the most prestigious, demanding, and highly paid firms in the country. I was doing securities law and mergers and acquisitions (which as a junior meant reading stacks of documents in solitary each day, or editing for grammar and non-substantive content, long contracts or other legal documents).  It was at this job that I started to notice cracks in my behaviour paradigm. In this environment, my habit (or addiction as it was) of seeking positive acknowledgment and trying to please others was difficult to maintain, and it was also creating emotional deficits in my life.

My enthusiasm was generally met with indifference. The more I tried to please certain people I think the less they actually liked me.   Moreover, I started to realize that effort alone would not always yield the emotional results I sought. It was very hard not to take it personally when my work was critiqued.  Especially when that critique was a matter of subjective interpretation.  My life at the time was solely focused on trying to get people to positively acknowledge me and my work.  It was also a major contributor to a period of dark emotions.  I felt like my world was entirely out of my control.  My blackberry owned me.  I had little to no respite.  If I took time to refresh, made myself unavailable for the weekend to be with my family and small kids, I had to worry about other lawyers who would establish their dependability over mine.  It was the ultimate form of a zero sum game.  There were winners and losers with the other young lawyers.  Not all of us would continue with the firm,  very few of us would progress to partner.  There were winners and losers.

I would ride the train from Oakville to downtown Toronto each day and in the one-hour,  one-way, commute I would devour personal development and relationship building books. My thought was that if I could absolutely crack the code of success, if I could win over all the important people at the firm, then I would be able to find the happiness and fulfillment I was seeking. However, what I later discovered was that this was not the case. For family reasons we had to move from Toronto, so I changed jobs to another tier one international firm in Calgary and found the exact same pattern: 1) I was disinterested completely in law.  I found no satisfaction in the actual practice or study of it; and 2) I rarely, if ever, received the emotional feedback I was seeking from other lawyers at the firm, no matter how hard I tried, or despite whatever personal development or relationship building tactic I employed.

Nevertheless I continued to devour the books, all the time looking for a new title or idea that may hold the secret to my missing fulfillment. I literally read hundreds of books in the areas of personal development, success, leadership, and communication. I read the old gurus and the new. Everything I could get my hands on.  I eventually left the big firm and started my own firm, and the tendency to try to please to gain acknowledgment continued.

At my own firm I enjoyed the autonomy of being self-employed, but continued to struggle with the tendency to please, a real and increasingly growing dissatisfaction with the profession of law, and a continuing fear of messing up and receiving public disgrace. Here I was never truly happy or fulfilled, no matter how much money I was making. I was also plagued by the lingering thought that I was a father to three little ones (4, 6 and 9) who were monitoring my every step. I would often come home discontent, cranky, and full of negative emotions. I started to suffer from anxiety and depression. I would be temporarily placated by my financial success each month, but I knew that I was not being the example of emotional stability and happiness that I dearly wanted to provide to my children. I knew I had to figure this out, and find a way to find contentment and personal harmony.

Then I made a significant discovery. Shortly after Christmas of 2011 I began to search again. I didn’t however search in the personal development field but rather in the classics. I started to read Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, Mill, Emerson, Ayn Rand, and then I discovered Thoreau and his book Walden. This was at once one of the most unusual books I had ever read.

Walden is Thoreau’s personal account of the 26 months he spent in self-prescribed solitary in a cabin he built with his own hands on Walden Pond in Massachusetts. Thoreau’s rejection of conventional societal norms was predicated on what I considered an absolutely fascinating foundation. Having discovered that success in entrepreneurial ventures required a study of how to make it worth men’s while to buy he at once decided that he would rather study how to avoid the necessity of selling. So he entered the woods in an attempt to be truly self-sufficient – to transact a form of private business if you will. He described it as literally an experiment in “living”. He wanted to see what it would be like to live on his own, away from society for an extended period of time. His philosophical underpinnings were based on the following statements:

Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me (p. 10); and

We might try our lives by a thousand simple tests (p. 10).

His subsequent account was truly unique, engaging, inspiring, refreshing, and altogether different from just about any other book that I had previously read, particular in the personal development or philosophy genres. It detailed his experiences over those 26 months including his shelter, clothing, daily habits, sounds, and encounters with both animal and human visitors. He eventually left his residence on Walden Pond and stated as follows “I left the woods for as good as a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one” (p. 259).

Many personal development books have parsed the following quotes from Walden to advance the notion of following your dreams or achieving worldly success (ie. money, fame, achievement):

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours (p. 260); and

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation (p. 9).

However, to attribute Thoreau’s Walden with conventional success literature is to materially misrepresent the essence of what the book it about. Walden is anti-success (as success is defined in worldly terms). In fact consider the following passages:

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. (p.261)

The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others? (p.18)

Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labours of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them (p. 7);

The book was an awakening to me, it was like a true epiphany, which although seemingly simple, I had not considered up until this point in my 32 years.

What if there was a different way?

What if the path to fulfillment was not the same as the path to success (conventionally defined)?

What if the “path to success” was what was actually leading to my unhappiness?

I realized that the “path to success” for me was really just the “path to positive acknowledgment from others” and that my continual desire to achieve, to be recognized, to feel significant was really because a craved that feeling.  I needed to feel that way.

But then I realized that I could get the feelings that I was wanting with a different strategy.

That strategy was to serve and to add value to others.

I realized that the primary driving motivator for almost all the actions in my life up until that point was selfish based.  I was wanting prestige, money, praise, acknowledgment and significant because I thought they would fill an internal void.  But they didn’t. No matter how much I achieved, no matter what I did.  It never felt like it was enough.  I was caught in a vortex of insecure driven achievement, and my hunger was never satisfied.  Each time I would climb a mountain I would see someone at a higher peak and this would make my mountain seem insignificant.  Each time I had a critique I felt my world crumble, like all that I had was dependant on the continue reinforcement of others.  I was on such a shaky foundation.

I found however, that when I truly sought other’s interest that my interests were actually met.  When I did something for someone else, not because of what it would do for me, not because of how that person could help me or endorse me in the future, then I became significant in the person’s eyes that I was serving.  This significance made me feel great.  I actually achieved the feeling that I was seeking.

The more that I did this the more general level of significance I felt. I also made the fantastic discover that I had the ability to genuinely help and serve others, every single day, in the direct sales side business that I was doing with my wife.  I have found so much enjoyment in serving in this manner that I am now pursuing this business full time.

I found what I was seeking by not actually directly seeking it.  I found that when I stopped trying to get significance in others eyes, but actually just tried to focus on adding value to others, real value, that I became significant in their eyes.  When I became significant in their eyes I felt significant myself.

So, for my own personal life, I am now living by a new model of success.  A different model of achievement. One that isn’t based on my title, my profession, or who I know. It is based on the real value that I am able to add to others.

I find it both humorous and disturbing to see the many form of networking, social media platforms and other “connectivity methods” in our world where people’s true motivation isn’t really to add value to others but rather to gain value from them.

I have been in so many “networking” events where the depth of our conversation was so shallow that discussion almost inevitably devolves into nothing but a simple discussion of current events, sports or the weather.

True connections are made when you add value to another.

True relationships are built when you add value to another.

Significance is most readily gained when you add value to others.

I feel that the emotional state of many people could be significant improved by incorporating this simple new model of achievement, a value based model:

1.  Each day ask yourself this  - how can I add value to others, independent of what I may receive in return.

2. Each day equate your self worth, and sense of accomplishment, by tallying the real value that you added to others.

As simple as this sounds, this is a very hard model to actually incorporate in our present day life.  Have you ever noticed what the number one question is (in my experience) that we ask each other when strangers first meet?

What do you do?

Instead, I wish that we asked each other – how do you add value?

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Dream Killers – Cs & Bs


There are two absolute dream killers when you are pursuing a goal:

Complaining

Blaming

You will never be successful if you blame something or someone for your lack of results. You have to acknowledge THE TRUTH. The Truth is that it is YOU who took action, or didn’t take action. It is YOU who got you to where you are now.

In order to complain about something or someone, you have to believe that something better exists. You have to have a reference point of something you prefer that you are not willing to take responsibility for creating. Anything in your business that you complain about is something that YOU CAN ACTUALLY CHANGE if you are willing to take the risk, and take the action to change it.

For example:

If you aren’t getting any recruits instead of complaining you can talk to more people about your business opportunity.

If your parties aren’t going the way you want them to go, you can take a hard inventory of yourself and find out how others are running their parties and see if there is anything that YOU should change in your strategy.

The circumstances that you complain about are, by their very nature, situations you can change, but you have CHOSEN not to take the risk and take the action.

If you want to get from where you are to where you want to be, of course you’re going to have to take that risk and take that action.

To have a powerful psychology, you need to take the position that you create or allow everything that happens to you. By create, I mean that you directly cause something to happen by your actions or your lack of actions.

You cannot be a victim and achieve your dreams at the same time. You cannot stand by passively and wait for things to happen. If you want your goals to come true you have to give up any Cs and Bs and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

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Personal Responsibility


There is a powerful impact on your life when you accept 100% responsibility for your business, your life, and what you are going to be and do.

Here is a little formula that I have learned that helps me to remember the power of personal responsibility in my life.

E + R = O

Event + Response = Outcome

So any time you don’t get exactly what you want, you have one of two choices:

1) You can blame the event (E) for your lack of results (O); or

2) You can instead simply change your responses (R) to the events (E) – the way things are – until you get the outcome that you want (O)

NUMBER TWO IS THE MORE EMPOWERING CHOICE

If you don’t get what you want, when you want it, then change your response (R). Change your thinking, change your communication, change the pictures you hold in your head (your images of yourself and the world) and change your behavior (the things you do). That is really what you have control over anyway!!

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The Art of Stopping


What do you need to STOP doing to achieve your goals.

When we think about goal setting we often focus on the doing side. There is good reason for this. Actions always lead to results.

However not all actions are equal. Just because your have a big “to do” list” doesn’t mean that you are taking meaningful steps in the right direction.

Just because you are BUSY in your business doesn’t mean that you are effective in your business. Sometimes the best thing you can do to move you closer to your goals is to STOP doing actions that aren’t effective.

Apple Computers is famous for rejecting a variety of products so that they could become a market leader in only a handful of products. This allowed them to become one of the most profitable companies in the world.

So take inventory of your actions. There are probably a lot of things that you do that aren’t contributing to your business in a real way. If they aren’t then downsize how much you do them. If you are engaging in a business building activity that has never ever brought you business, but you do it out of habit, them simply stop doing it and come up with a new strategy.  Sometimes we fool ourselves.  No matter how hard you work, you won’t make progress to your goals if you are taking ineffective actions.

Also, some of the most effective actions that you can take are the ones that are often avoided because they are scary (ie, talking to new people about the business, calling old hosts and customers on the phone when you haven’t talked to them for a while). This is definitely something Meghann and I have discovered. The easiest actions don’t often bring results, but the hardest actions (ie calls) often do.

So don’t just take action, make sure your actions are effective!!

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The Art of Asking


Life will pay you whatever price you ask of it.

The problem is that people often ask far below what they truly want because of fear. They are scared of being let down. They are scared of “getting their hopes up”. They are scared of doing the things that they have to in order to get what they truly want.

But it doesn’t change the fact that life will pay you whatever price you ask of it.

You want more home parties, you need to ask for more home parties.

You want more recruits, you need to ask more people to join.

You want to learn how to better market and grow your business, you need to ask people who have the knowledge and skill to give you these resources.

Life will pay whatever price you ask of it.

So here are some tips on the “Art of the Ask”

1) Ask specifically – clarity is power. The more specific we are when we ask the more likely we will get what we are asking for.

2) Ask someone who has the “ability” to say yes to what you are asking for (for example don’t ask someone who knows nothing about direct sales for advice on your direct sales business).

3) Create value for the person that you are asking (for example, if you are asking someone to join you have to show then why they will value from joining).

4) Ask with absolute certainty and focused believe that you will get it.

5) Ask UNTIL you get what you want.

Life will pay whatever price you ask of it.

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Closing the Gap


You know you’ve found your WHY when you have an absolute burning desire to accomplish your goal. It should be something that triggers emotion in you. Once you have that then you start taking massive action without having to “talk yourself into it”. It’s almost like your body will go on autopilot and start to take action to do whatever it takes to get your goal. You don’t get discouraged as easily, you don’t give up as easily. Burning desire for something is critical for you to have.

Again, I can’t stress how important your WHY is. If your WHY is correctly aligned then you will have the burning desire.

Here is a quick exercise that I use to drive my burning desire for my goals. It is called “Closing the Gap”

1. Visualize in your mind what you want to accomplish and then FEEL the experience of actually accomplishing it (experience the emotions associated with you achieving this goal, ie. pride, pleasure, excitement, etc).

2. Pull back to where you are. Look at and identify the reality of today.

3. Snap back to where you want to go. Feel and see your WHY and your burning desire pulling you to take the actions that you need to accomplish your goal. Then see yourself again accomplishing the goal. Once you can see it in your mind then take the next step and experience the feelings associated with accomplishing your goal.

This little exercise, if you do it daily, will drive MASSIVE desire to accomplish your goal. Once you have this massive desire you will take action. Action will drive results.

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Getting Leverage on Yourself – Bringing Out Your Fight


When pursuing a goal we all know that actions lead to results. The trick is to get ourselves to take action consistently. There are so many things that can get us off track from taking effective action that move us closer to our goals. There is the obvious “daily tasks” in life that will often fill up our time. Also, there are the fear based inhibitors. Some of the most effective actions that you can take to move you closer to your goal will sometimes be the things that scare you.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about how important knowing your WHY is. Your WHY is the reason that you want to achieve a particular goal. The more clear and compelling your WHY, the more you will take action. If you aren’t taking action then it is likely that you don’t have a compelling enough WHY. If your WHY is absolutely compelling then you will take action no matter what.

Your WHY needs to evoke emotion. It needs to create emotional leverage. If your WHY isn’t doing that then you should revisit your WHY. The more emotional leverage you can create the stronger the force will be behind your actions. The more courage you’ll have, and the less discouragement and frustration will get you off course.

Sometimes one of the best ways to get leverage on yourself is to actually get ANGRY! Not angry at anybody, definitely not angry at yourself, but angry about the current circumstances that you don’t want anymore in your life. For example, some of the greatest action comes when people get so angry at their current setting that they are absolutely motivated to change it. They get so angry that they will do whatever it takes to change their circumstances.

I’m not saying become an angry person, far from that. I’m not saying take this emotion and internalize it so that you are negative to those around you, far from that. What I’m saying is that even anger can be a powerful tool if it is channeled correctly. When you get absolutely fed up with a certain circumstance you will do whatever it takes to change it. Sometimes anger is the only leverage that will work to get you to take action in the face of fear.

For example, you can sit and visualize your life on the beach all you want and it may not evoke the same type of passion as visualizing having to stay forever at a job that you hate. When you think about the reality that you cannot change your life, that you have to stay at a job you hate, that makes you angry. Once you get angry you are willing to fight to change it. Sometimes it takes fight to overcome fear.

So often I’ve encouraged team members to find what brings out the fight in them. If you are in a part time (or full time job) that you hate, and you want your business to provide a certain level of income so that you can leave that job, then one of the most effective ways to get you to work on your business is to place an image of your current job (ie. a corporate logo, etc) somewhere prominent where you can see it. Each time you see it it will evoke emotion. When emotion is evoked you will take more action. The more you take action the better your results will be over time.

Even anger can be a powerful positive force when it is channeled for good. Find your fight. Get leverage on yourself and you’ll be surprised at the passion that will come out!

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Don’t Trust the Skinny Chef


There is a famous quote by Warren Buffet that, although not intended for the direct sales industry, has a lot of application. He once said, when discussing why he generally doesn’t hire “financial advisers” to make investment decisions:

“Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.”

Now the quote may be a little pretentious (the guy’s worth $44B he can say what he wants), but there is a real gem of wisdom in it that applies to building your direct sales business.

Only trust people who can back what they are saying with real experience.One thing that invariably those in direct sales will encounter (if you haven’t already) is that when building your business, many people will be negative to you.

We’ve encountered it lots.  We saw it when Meg first started.  We saw it when she quit her job as a Social worker.  We saw it when I started spending a lot of time in the business and investing directly into it.  Finally we’ve seen it since I left my law job to do this full time.

But here is the thing – in literally every case the people who have been negative towards our business have one of the following characteristics:

  1. They literally know nothing (in terms of first hand experience) about this business or the industry in general. They have never been in direct sales, they don’t know truly how it works and how the compensation plan works, other than hearsay from someone else. They only know indirectly, based on the paradigm of someone else; or
  2. They have failed in direct sales in the past.

What is interesting however in number 2, is that, when I encounter a person like this I tend to push a little to find out what they ACTUALLY did in their business.  Whether they worked it every day.  If they worked it what strategies did they use?  What was the size of the downline?  What training programs did they create?  How did they communicate with their team (what forms, online meetings, in person meetings, by phone)? How often did they communicate with their team?  How did they use the internet and social media to grow their business?  And on and on and on.

Not surprising, what I find, is that they didn’t work EVERY SINGLE DAY on their business, and most of the other questions they can’t even answer.   They didn’t push past their fears. They weren’t innovative in their use of new technology and social media.  They didn’t dig in when the going got tough. They “tried” it for a bit, put in a half effort and then quit.

Trusting their advice is like trusting the financial adviser who takes the train.

I look to people for inspiration who have succeeded in this industry.  We are succeeding in this industry because we have modeled very successful Americans in our company.  We looked at the strategies that they used to build their business and we have done the same. It has taken time, investment, hard work, constant innovation and evaluation.  All of the skills that are needed in ANY form of business venture.

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In Defence of Small Victories


I am a sucker for a good rags to riches story. I always have been.  I love seeing the underdog succeed.  I am absolutely inspired by stories of people who overcome big odds and silence the critics and doubters to achieve great things.  My favorite movie by a long short is Rocky (although Warrior is pretty good…) and yes I did cheer for Tim Tebow this year.

My love of the underdog, for those people who dream big, fight with all their hearts, and somehow overcome, motivates me to seek big goals and dreams of my own.  To this end I’ve read all of the standard “dream big” books (Magic of Thinking Big, Think and Grow Rich, everything Tony Robbins has ever written, among many others…).  I don’t know why I have such a fascination with this subject.  Perhaps it is because I am the grandson of a poor immigrant who fought his way to carve out a life of comfort for his family in a new country.  Whatever it is I’ve always wanted to have a victory story of my own, and I’m working every day to achieve that.

In 2011 I thought that it would be “dream big” year for me.  I took a different approach to my goals than I normally do.  I tried to focus on a “big 5″ – that is, only five goals (big goals) that would very meaningful to me if I achieved them.  Everything else in my life would be secondary to these large (and stretching) goals, and I would dedicate my focus and daily attention on them only.  These goals covered not just financial, but also relationships and contribution to others as well.

The general premise behind this idea is sound.  Focusing only on the big things that you want should, in theory, cause you to take concerted daily action toward these lofty ideals.  The acute focus on these goals will drive you, and the compelling nature of what you want should be enough to pull you forward when you encounter challenges or discouragement along the way.

At the end of 2011 I did an inventory of my year and the things I accomplished.  From all objective standards I had a great year.  I made more income than I ever had.  I helped build another business with my wife and established a consistent passive income stream for my family. I went on multiple exotic trips.  I had meaningful experiences with my wife and family.  I contributed to others in the community and specifically went out of my way to help others.

But I ended the year feeling somewhat disappointed.  This confused me, as my life had definitely progressed in positive ways in 2011.  In reviewing the year, and analyzing my feelings, I realized a couple of things:

  • The goals I set were lofty and compelling.  However, they lacked definable clarity.  They were general in nature and better described as “ideals” which covered five areas of my life (fitness, family relationships, contribution to others, financial freedom and career achievement).  As a result, it was impossible to know “when”  or even “if” the goals were accomplished.
  • Since the goals were not specific I never got to experience the “feeling” that is associated with accomplishing something (even though I was achieving results).  I realized that I had taken for granted how important this feeling actually was.  When I fully analyzed the year I also realized that there were many days were I was discouraged and although I had lofty ideals pulling me forward I rarely acknowledged the “small victories” along the way and I didn’t register the associated positive feelings with these small victories.
  • I also realized that not acknowledging small victories caused me many times to experience self-doubt and fear when thinking about my ability to achieve my lofty ideals.  There were many times that I silently wondered whether my goals were too high, and whether I have what it takes to achieve them. Therefore it was hard to develop significant momentum throughout the year.
  • Also, there were many days that I never really felt that I was making any progress at all toward my goals.  I would work hard each day, but since my goals were general in nature I had a very difficult time feeling any sense of progress.

This method of self-analysis resulted in a major discovery:  Progress and achievement, at least for some people, is influenced by individual emotional states as much as it is by knowledge, skill or concerted effort.  

I am a believer in big goals and big dreams.  I always will be – but for some people (I would say me included) a natural emotional state is to engage a healthy dose of subconscious self-doubt when it comes to our actual ability to take on the impossible and win.  There are many people who are exceptions to this.  They believe in themselves, no matter how daunting the obstacle may be.  Most self-help books profile these individuals in exhaustive detail.  But for those of us who experience fear and self-doubt we have a hard time identifying with these types.

I realized that  for those of us who fear and doubt it is critical to control the emotional game, and build momentum, when attempting to achieve a lofty goal.  As a result, when I sat down at the beginning of the year to plan out 2012 I took a new approach:

  • I started out to write my massive goals (and they were lofty as always) but this year I made them specific and quantifiable (so that I would specifically know when and if I achieved them).
  • I didn’t just stop at the big goals – I then let the pen go and I wrote specific quantifiable goals that would be necessary to achieve my massive goals.
  • By the time I was done this I had written about 80 goals for the year.  To make it fun I added an additional 20 specific, quantifiable goals that would generally enhance my life (goals relating to travel, fun, music, exercise, contribution to others).
  • I finished with 100 clearly defined specific goals – some massive, other quite small.  Since this exercise I have looked at this list everyday and as of today (January 21, 2012) I have accomplished 6 of them.

In the three short weeks since this exercise I am amazed at the distinction in how I am feeling.  A couple observations:

  • The process of tracking these goals (and reviewing them everyday) has really engaged my mind to become clear about what I want.  I am more motivated to structure my time efficiently so that I am making daily progress.
  • Each time I achieve a goal I take a yellow highlighter and cross it off the list.  I realized that I love this process. Each time I do this I experience a small victory.  This small victory makes me feel great.  It gives me confidence and it is highly addictive.  I want to cross off more and more of these.  I feel like a kid.
  • I’ve managed to turn achievement into a game.  This is making it much more enjoyable.  Last year felt like a grind – constantly pushing forward to achieve my ideals.  So far this year feels like a game.  There is a huge emotional difference.
  • Each time I achieve a goal my confidence grows.  As my confidence grows my momentum grows. As my momentum grows my belief in my ability to tackle the massive goals also grows and I am also more acutely engaged in my attempts.

I believe this will be a fun year of achievement and I am excited to report on the progress at the end of the year.  If it goes well (which I think it will) I may have stumbled on a method that will become the norm for me going forward.

So for those of you dreaming big here is my advice: Keep dreaming big.  The world is truly blessed by individuals who dream big and have the courage to take action on their dreams.  However, set up the game to win emotionally.  Set, track and acknowledge small victories.  These will give you momentum, confidence and enjoyment.

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Push and Pull Motivation


Here is a powerful concept that I learned from Tony Robbins and I use in my own personal life.  There are two forms of motivation:

  1. PUSH MOTIVATION: This is willpower – where we are pushing forward to attain or achieve something. This is the type of motivation that easily leads to discouragement whenever obstacles present themselves in the path of achievement. This type of motivation is tenuous as best. Willpower alone is only as strong as the desire behind the willpower. With push motivation it is easy to question your original goal when things get hard, and you ask yourself, “why am I pushing so hard at this?”, “is this worth it?”
  2. PULL MOTIVATION: This form of motivation is much more powerful than push motivation. This is where the thing that we want is so compelling and exciting and clear that it seems to pull us to it. Each of us has experienced pull motivation at sometime in our life. Pull motivation is where effort seems easy. Where we stay up late and get up early and never seem to need to “talk ourselves into working”. We want something so bad that it just seems to pull us to it. When we wake up in the morning we think about this compelling thing and it makes us excited to get to work. With pull motivation we never have to “convince ourselves” to work hard. We just do.

SO WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO: In order to have pull motivation you need REASONS.

The thing you want must be compelling. You need many reasons and strong enough reasons that the thing is so compelling that it pulls you to it.  If you find yourself in push motivation, not pull motivation, then you don’t have enough reasons for what you are trying to get, or the reasons aren’t strong enough.

If you paint an internal picture for yourself of how compelling and freeing and exciting the achievement of a goal will be you will experience pull motivation. Create the vision and make it so compelling that the vision will pull you to take the type and quantity of actions needed to achieve even your most difficult goals.

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New Year – New Life


January 15th – how are you doing with your goals for the new year?

Here is some great advice for the new year from Tony Robbins.

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Between You and You


Effort – sometimes it’s just that simple.

Between You and You….

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Home


I wouldn’t be anything without my family. Thank you Meg, Maci, Cohen and Seth.

Home is wherever we are if there’s love there to.

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The Power of Character


The meaning of earthly existing lies, not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

True leaders exhibit character.

Character is more than talk. You can never separate a leader’s character from their actions. Action is the true indicator of character.

Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.

We don’t choose where we were born, who are parents are, or the circumstances of our upbringing. But we do choose our character.

Each voluntary and conscious action we take shapes our character.

Character brings lasting success as a leader. As a leader, people must choose to follow you. As the old saying goes, if you think you’re leading, and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.

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Servant Leadership


Everyone is a leader, regardless of position or title.  Each and everyday we have opportunities to lead, to positively influence those around us.

Everyday leadership is servant leadership. All of us can serve others, and help others to grow, and in turn enrich our own life.

A servant leader incorporates powerful habits in their daily interactions to yield massive results.  Here are some thoughts on how to be a more effective servant leader:

1. Effective Listening: Do you understand exactly the needs of those you lead, and those you interact with?

2. Showing Appreciation: Focus your attention on what people do right. Tell them about it, both spontaneously and routinely.

3. Respect: Respect every individual you interact with.

4. Develop Others: Provide people with value.

5. Unleash: Everyone has incredible potential inside of them. An everyday leader helps others to see and unleash the value and potential that is within.

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Heart


Do you have it?

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Flow


Have you ever had an experience where you read or listened to an idea or concept that just seemed to make absolute sense to you?  Like you’ve always been aware of the concept, you’ve always accepted its truth, but you’ve never really had anyone articulate it, until now.

That is exactly how I felt when I read Flow  by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (former Chair of the Psychology department at the University of Chicago). The book, relying on significant empirical research conducted over the course of decades, describes the conditions that are present in an “optimal experience” setting, or in other words, the contributing factors that are present when a human being is at their most fulfilled state.

The conclusion was not revolutionary for me, quite the opposite.  In fact, it was an “of course, I always knew that, I’ve already experienced that” kind of moment for me.  The conclusion from the book was that “optimal experience” is not the result of wealth, significance, or any other form of status (although these may be byproducts of the actions leading to optimal experience), rather “optimal experience” is when an individual experiences a state of “flow”.  That is, a state of completely focused motivation, or single-minded immersion, where their mind and body are stretched to their absolute limits in a voluntary effort to achieve a difficult and worthwhile goal.

When this occurs, humans are said to be at their most fulfilling states.  There are basically ten factors that contribute to attaining a state of “Flow”

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities). Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
  2. Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one’s subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is effortless action.
  9. A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)
  10. Absorption into the activity, narrowing of the focus of awareness down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

The times in my life that have been most rewarding (intrinsically) have been the moments when I was in “Flow”.  My mind and body were completely dedicated to a clearly defined goal.  I was immersed in the activity and time seemed to fly (or completely stand still) while in the immersion.  I have experienced Flow in various contexts in my life, both athletically, academically, in business, and in relationships.  Honestly, they were the best times in my life, and looking back it had nothing to do with the actual “achievement” of a goal.  The fact that I actually achieved the goal (or didn’t for that matter) didn’t matter because I felt so good about the “process” (of which I spent a significant time in a “Flow” like state).

With 2012 around the corner, and my eyes on reaffirming my short and long-term goals, I want to make sure that I fully incorporate the concept of “Flow”.  That is, I realize that it isn’t just the attainment that makes a goal so desirable, rather it is the process.  So it is important for me not just to set and strive for goals that are meaningful to me, but also to set up the game to win, that is, ensure that my path to attainment also leads to optimal experience.  I believe that this is what makes the difference in one’s life. 

Read the book, it is fantastic.

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Are You Stuck in a Rut?


Great advice from Matt Cutts (Google Software Engineer) on how to get some momentum in life.

A 30 day challenge is a fantastic idea.  Your challenges are your own unique opportunities to create something new in your life.  It may be 30 days in creating a new empowering habit, overcoming a negative habit, learning a new skill set, or having an adventure and trying something completely new and out of your current comfort zone.  It may be a 30 day commitment to taking a certain pre-defined action that will bring you closer to your current goals.

The brilliant part is that there is no right answer. You are free to create and experiment, and the cost of failure is nothing. However the upside of your new world could be tremendous.  You may discover a passion or skill that you had no idea existed. You might pick up momentum that moves you closer to that big goal you’ve been chasing for years (but up until recently you felt you were drifting away from).  You might gain courage and realize that the fears that were holding you back in the past were really just in your head and aren’t real.

Give it a try.  It’s only for 30 days!

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The Hour of Power


 

Can you recall a time in your life when you felt like you could accomplish anything?  Where you felt absolute certainty and confidence?  When fear and insecurity no longer held you back?  Where were you?  What were you doing?  How did you feel?  If you are honest with yourself, would you want to return to that state again?

What if you could feel this way everyday?  How would your life be different?  What would you do if you didn’t feel fear anymore. Would you believe me if I said you could?  Most likely not – in fact, up until recently I wouldn’t have believed it myself.  Many people in the world would have you believe that feeling that alive, feeling that excited for the future is unnatural.  They would have you believe that we are reactionary beings -that our emotions are a function of the external events that are occurring around us.

Or maybe, as some people put it, “life just sucks”. Life is hard and is full of pain and letdowns.   So we look for fleeting moments of peace or satisfaction, coupled with lots entertainment and distraction.  We really don’t want to be hurt, or risk failure, because failure and hurt equals pain so we lower our standards for what we will accept emotionally in our lives.

There is a way however to condition your mind and your emotions so that every day you feel empowered, grateful, inspired, and alive.  The magic is that it is actually is a very simple exercise, and at most its takes only an hour a day (it can be shorter as well if you have time restrains).  The key is in the ritualized method of conditioning your mind, focus and emotions to be at their best.

I learned this technique from Tony Robbins, and it has honestly changed my life.  He calls it “The Hour of Power”.  The exercise involves utilizing three simple, but powerful concepts (Tony calls these the Triad):

  1. Controlled Focus: Directed focus on only the things that you want.  This is based on a belief that focus = feeling = life, and also where your focus goes your energy will flow.  Controlled focus can be like a laser beam, but as anyone who has engaged in meditation can attest, it is a skill which takes time and discipline to master.
  2. Physiology:  Emotion is created by motion.  Your emotional state is really controlled by what you do with your body.  How do you feel when you are in good shape, and consistently exercising?  It is as addictive as a drug.  Try this exercise if you don’t believe in the power of your physiology to control your emotional state – go stand in front of a mirror for 5 minutes with a big goofy smile and see how you feel at the end of the exercise.
  3. Language:  The words that we use on a consistent basis, the metaphors we evoke, and the self-directed questions that we engage in have a real impact on our emotions.  This component, for many of us, is the hardest to condition because we aren’t even conscious of the disempowering words, phrases or metaphors we are using.  However, they have a real impact on us.
Many people have read personal development books, or invested in tapes and seminars, to be momentarily inspired or engaged, but they find that, while the ideas seem great, they don’t really put them into action.  They don’t really see any changes to their life, despite reading the book.  They may even then suggest that “personal development books and seminars” are a waste of time and money.  But the reality is that they have done nothing, other than read the book.  The power in any technique, strategy or idea is not in the intellectual understanding, but rather in the subconscious mastery. I was recently reading an interview with MMA legend Royce Gracie who mentioned that the best fighters often don’t even think when in the heat of the battle.  They have practised the same moves, locks, positions so many times that their body goes into autopilot when adapting to a counter manoeuvre. They know that if their opponent acts in a certain way the best reaction is to do a certain action.  However they don’t have to consciously think about the counter action.  Their body just does it because they have conditioned their body so consistently.  That is where the power is.  When you own a concept so profoundly that you don’t even have to think, you just do.
So how do you get to mastery of a concept? It is through massive conditioning by consistent patterns of behaviour and habits.  This is the genius of the hour of power.  You use the Triad, multiple times a week (or daily if possible), to condition your mind, emotions and body to perform at its peak.
So if you wondering here is the Hour of Power (I do mine to a “soundtrack” of songs that fit each stage of the exercise):
  • Phase 1: Move and Breathe (5 minutes): Just start moving (walk, dance, whatever as long as you are moving) and do deep yoga breathing techniques (deep through nose into lower stomach).  Taps fingers (energy points) while you are doing this.
  • Phase 2: Exercise and Incantations (45 minutes):  Hard cardio or muscle building exercise to fast music while I state empowering incantations (sayings that I want to work into my subconscious).  For example – here are a couple of sayings that I use: “I will find a way or I will make one”, “Day by Day I’m feeling stronger”, “I feel alive”, “Step up”, “All I need is within me now”.  There are many more, but basically I am programming my mind by using language to influence my subconscious.
  • Phase 3: Intense Gratitude (10 minutes): In this phase I use three songs.  To the first song (Supertramp – Give a Little Bit)  I vividly visualize everything in my life that I am grateful for (everything good that has happened in the past).  To the second song (You Can Make the Pathway Bright – Mormon Tabernacle Choir) I visualize the successful accomplishment of my long term goals (who I want to become, what I want to do) and then I feel gratitude for accomplishing them.  Then, for the last song (Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole), I visualize the successful accomplishment of my short term goals and then feel gratitude for accomplishing them.
This exercise has had a profound effect on me.  I challenge anyone who feels like their life is lacking some meaning, or passion or juice, to just try it for a month straight.  You will be amazed with the results and how you feel.  I’d love to hear some of your stories about the process as well.  The key is that you have to commit to it for at least a month straight.  Try it, send me a note!

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The Remarkable Race of Cliff Young


In 1983, Cliff Young, a 61-year-old potato farmer won the first Sydney to Melbourne, Australia (875 kilometers, 544 miles) ultra-marathon. Cliff arrived at the start line dressed in overalls and gumboots.  Spectators, fellow racers and the press thought that he was joking.  Many people thought he was crazy, and some feared for his life should he be allowed to enter. But Cliff had every intention to run, and finish this race.  Adding to his notoriety, before running the race, he told the press that he had previously run for two to three days straight rounding up sheep.

He ran at a slow loping pace and trailed the leaders for most of the course, but by denying himself sleep and running while the others slept, he slowly gained on them and eventually won by a large margin.  The Westfield run took him five days, 15 hours and four minutes, trimming almost two days off the record for any previous run between Sydney and Melbourne. All of the six competitors who finished the race broke the previous record, but Young beat them by running while they were sleeping

He claimed afterwards that during the race, he imagined that he was running after sheep and trying to outrun a storm.

This video documents this remarkable race and this extraordinary man.

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