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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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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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

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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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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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The Art Of Designing A Life

Designing a life.  It’s much different than making a living.  Unfortunately most people focus on the latter (as I did for many years).  I feel that I’ve broken free of that mindset now, and each day I am working on bringing into existence my ideal life.

It wasn’t always that way.  Making a living used to be my primary focus, and I also believe that its central position was a driving factor in a lot of my stress and dissatisfaction.

What is the different between the two?

Making a living is the primary motivator for a good number of young people when choosing what to study in school.  It is a product of the industrial revolution.  Schools are mini factories that pump out workers who can be slotted somewhere in the assembly line of life.  You can obtain a skill set leading you to a profession – a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, an engineer.  Alternatively you can learn some other skill (trades) that will allow for certainty of employment and certainty of income.  Liberal arts and other “fluffy” skill sets were generally discouraged by generations past because they wouldn’t equate into practical application.  That is, they couldn’t easily be parlayed into a job that would provide income stability and security.

Therefore, a great number of students chose educational paths not because of the fulfillment of what they would be doing, but because of the rewards (primarily income security) that the particular job would provide.  The media helped (and continues to help) feed this machine.  Every day we are reminded of how bad it is “out there”.  We are constantly reminded of the economic turmoil.  We are constantly reminded of the risk that exists in the “real world”.  This reminder crystallizes the fears that our youth have been socialized to believe. So they choose the path of safety rather than potential fulfillment.  So many students aren’t even aware of what they will be doing in their profession (in terms of day to day) before they enrol.  It doesn’t matter.  There is a time slot in the great factory of life that needs to be filled and the more protection for the factory worker the better.

It’s not this way with everyone.  There are those brave souls that have always forged their own path.  There are many people that choose paths of fulfillment, despite the inherent associated risks.  But I believe that these are not the majority.  They are a brave and inspiring minority.  The masses however merge into the life of the factory worker.  We all pile into our cars like a herd and “head to the factory of our existence” each morning when the morning horn sounds.  Then at 5 (or 6) when the bell rings to go home, we head back.  Day in day out the same process.  The factory of our life.

This was my life for many years.  I went to law school because the industrial wisdom influenced me that security should be my focus.  I never wanted to be a lawyer.  There was only one moment of clarity that I’ve ever had about what I wanted to do with my life.  That was when I was an LDS missionary.  I had the chance to meet the late Stephen R. Covey.  At the time I knew nothing about the Seven Habits franchise or the business development and self help industry at all.  I naively asked him what he did for a living.  He told me that he helped people to be successful and exercise personal leadership in their lives.  I clearly and distinctly remember thinking to myself, that is exactly what I want to do with my life.

I ignored that prompting and found one of the best factory slots I could find – law.  High paying, prestigious, but miserable.  For years I herded into the factory slot of my life. But I always held hope that there would be something better. I tried to fit in with the culture.  I definitely gave my best each day, but I always felt that was I was trading time for money.  Time was money.  Money ruled.  Money allowed me to go to my factory job in better clothes, but it didn’t change the fact that it was still a factory job.  I got tired of the trade.  I got tired of the factory.

Each day, no matter how discouraged or depressed I was,  I never forgot the conversation I had with Stephen Covey.  I dove into leadership and self development literature, and over time, with my wife we built a side business.  Now I am on the path of living the life I want to live.  I am designing a life, I’m no longer just earning a living.

The internet has changed everything in our life.

The industrial revolution is dead and it has been replaced by the intellectual and technological revolution.  This is a cause for great excitement in the world, but also significant disruption.  Every single day we can see people who resist the industrial model and embrace the intellectual model.  They find ways to make income that are untraditional.  To my parent’s generation this is highly disruptive.  It seems that their paradigms can’t reconcile this model.  To them there are only a couple of ways to make good money (if you aren’t in entertainment or professional sports) – you are a professional, or you build a traditional bricks and mortar business with employees, staff and the whole nine yards.

But that isn’t the way that the world works now.  Through the use of technology and the internet we’ve been able to build a significant business that is connected to North America and the UK.

The internet is driving an age of “lifestyle design”.  The rules that were so rock solid to our parents generation don’t apply anymore, and the more that the younger generations embrace the outdated model of our parents the more we will struggle with anxiety, depression and feeling that life is unfulfilling.   We have been given a gift where we have the ability to design our lives in an unprecedented way.  We don’t have to just accept a “making a living” life as a default.

The Art of Lifestyle Design – Where to Start?  Determine With Clarity What Is Important To You

You cannot design your ideal life without knowing what you value.  You have to determine with rock solid clarity what values are most important to you.

Here are my core values

Freedom

Contributing to others (helping them grow and find happiness)

Adventure

Family

Spirituality

Physical Fitness

Education

Communication  (writing and public speaking)

I have others, but those are my primary values.  I can see now so clearly why I was unhappy in law.  My three core values were not being met. In fact they were being fought against.  I never felt freedom.  The blackberry was a prisoner bracelet.  In order to progress (financially and generally speaking) I had to spend MORE time at the firm, which meant less time to do the things I wanted to do.  I did not feel that I was contributing to people or society in a meaningful way and there was very little adventure.  I was alienated from my family, because of the time I had to spend away from them.  My physical fitness suffered, as did my spirituality. I also never had the time to engage in my other values (writing and public speaking).  The most important part of being a lawyer – security – isn’t even one of my core values.

I am very happy in my current arrangement (building a direct sales company with my wife) because my core values are all being met.  I have absolute freedom (I’m sitting in a Starbucks on Tuesday afternoon as we speak).  I am building a business that I can run from anywhere, at any time and provide a substantial income for myself and my family.  I get a massive sense of contribution each day as I help the many independent business owners in our organization.  I feel a great sense of adventure in that each day is a new challenge.  I also now have the time to pursue personal adventures.  I work with my best friend and I have time for my family.  I also have time to keep myself in good shape and pursue my other loves (writing and public speaking).

You cannot design your ultimate life if you don’t know what you truly value.

Step Two – Create Your Perfect Outcome and Know Why You Want It 

It is very common for people to be scared of setting big goals.  They don’t like to engage in the hypothetical of actually articulating their “perfect outcome” Why is this?

I believe the primary reason is because we are scared of “getting our hopes up” and then being let down. This seems to be a very natural human reaction.

It is very natural to have a fear of failure. I believe that one of the primary reasons that we fear failure is because we don’t want to feel less significant than others. We intensely fear feeling inadequate because that feeling cuts directly to our feelings of self worth. When we feel inadequate, or less significant, we feel that “we are not enough”. This is a terribly immobilizing feeling. We also intensely fear the feeling of being alone, and “failure” when interpreted in a dis-empowering way gives us a feeling of being alone.

This is why many people do not ever engage in the creative exercise of “lifestyle design” or “dreamscaping” as I call it. They never really truly embrace the creative process of asking themselves the question “what would my life look like in the best case scenario?”. If they do engage in this process it is VERY common to censor their desire. If a desire pops in their head that seems unconventional, or “unrealistic” then it doesn’t come into their dreamscape. Again, we don’t want to feel that “we are not enough”, we don’t want to feel insignificant or inadequate if we fail. We don’t want to let ourselves down, so we are very reluctant to engage in any exercise where we “dream” for more.

As a result, most people focus on “making a living” rather than “designing a life”. We set impotent goals because deep down inside we have fear. We don’t believe in our ability to pull off the dream, and we are scared to test our own boundaries and fail because if we fail it will cut into our self worth and make us feel worse than we felt before we experimented with this “dreaming” business.

However when you do this you miss out on the incredible power of PULL in your life.

A clear and compelling vision for exactly what you want out of your life (no matter how ridiculous you think it may sound), has a tremendous PULLING influence on you. Dreams are a projection of the life we wish to lead. Therefore, when we allow them to “PULL’ us, our dreams unleash a creative force that can overpower all obstacles hindering the attainment of our objectives.

To unharness this power a dream must be vivid, clear and compelling. A fuzzy picture of what you want out of life has very little pull power. The better you define a dream, the better you describe it, the harder you will work on it, and the stronger IT PULLS YOU.

When you live in fear you never get to experience this creative PULL.

What My Perfect Outcome Looks Like – The Power of Precision

My perfect outcome is actually fairly simple:

  1. I want to make $1,000,000 a year with our Scentsy business.  I came up with this number a couple months ago. I know it is cliche, but I don’t care.  It is symbolic to me.  I want to make this amount of money, with Meghann as my equal partner in this business as an annual income.  I want to make this amount of income because with this amount of income I will be able to do whatever I want in my life.  I don’t need to be worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.  I don’t care about that.  I love to travel, I love having nice cars and nice things.  I want my kids to be financially secure.  I want to be able to give liberally to my church and other charities.  Having this amount of money will allow me to adequately do all of this.  I don’t need more.  That is amount I want.  I don’t need to specifically state I want ____ type of car, or I want to live in ______ place.  The reality is that this may likely change over time (my exact preferences).  It’s all really irrelevant.  The important part is that I have the ability to do or purchase what I want, and I know that my wants will be met with this amount of money per year.  Here is the trick with many people.  They want to make “more” money but they never really know what is enough.  If you are chasing a vague goal, you are chasing no goal in my opinion.
  2. I want to have a magical marriage and family relationship.  I want my wife to be my best friend.  I want to be the primary role model in my children’s eyes.  I need TIME to be able to do this effectively.
  3. I want to be a published writer and professional speaker.  I want to influence for good many people.  I want to write books, articles and have a professional speaking career.  This is something that is important to me.
  4. I want to have a physique like a UFC Middleweight (Chael Sonnen is a good type).  Don’t laugh.  I’m serious.  I am going to work on my body each day so that I feel fantastic and healthy.  This is something that is important to me.  I have every intention of taking daily action until I have the physique I want.

That is it.

If I have that I will have my ideal life.  Our Scentsy business meets my values in that it gives me ultimate freedom, I get to contribute each day to others.  Once I meet the income goal I will be able to experience the earthly things (travel, possessions, that I want).  It is critical that my family is magical.  I want to keep my body in excellent shape and I want to be a writer and speaker.

This is the crazy thing you realize when you engage in this exercise.  You can be satisfied.  It is amazing.  You also realize that you are satisfied with a lot less than you may initially think.

Once you have on paper what your ideal life looks like then you can start today to make a plan and take action.

That is the path to designing your ideal life.  You know your values, you determine with clarity exactly what you want, then you make a plan to take action.

When you live that way life is exciting and engaging.  Each day as you make progress to your ideal life you feel good about what is happening.  You don’t get caught in a rut, and best of all is that you have power to take action.  No one can stop you from taking action to get exactly what you want.  That is what life is about and that is what I intend to pursue

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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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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: Willpower is the first and foremost thing to push forward to achieve your goals. This is the best type of motivation.
  2. PULL MOTIVATION:  Is much more powerful than push motivation.  Everyone has experienced pull motivation in different situations in our life. Pull motivation means to ‘stay up late and get up early and never seem to need to “talk ourselves into working”’.

SO WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO: If you want pull motivation you need reasons. If you want something, something like pay someone to write essay it must be compelling.

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