A NEW AVENUE EXPLORED

Recently, I had the honor of being part of an inspiring publication. See Beyond is a wonderful magazine that tackles the gritty issues facing our youth and does so while encouraging and inspiring them.

In this issue, I had the great pleasure of joining other authors while sharing the challenges I face in my career as a writer. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of such a unique and thought-provoking publication. I am already looking forward to contributing more.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO READ MY ARTICLE ON PAGE 32 OF THIS MONTH’S ISSUE

ARE YOU THE CANDLE OR THE MIRROR?

It took me a while to truly grasp the power of this quote. The candle represents sources of light in the world. It could be good-looking and charming authors who double as postal workers, social workers, emergency workers, great parents and teachers, religious and spiritual leaders or anyone else who inspires us or makes the world a better place. In some ways I think we are all candles, or at least have the ability to be so. In being the best at whatever we do we set an example for the world to follow. Even the shyest and most reserved of us have opportunities to be kind to others.

The mirror represents those who promote those who are candles. This can range from sharing a motivational website that inspires you with others, to showing appreciation to wonderful people who make a difference in your life. Did a teacher or coach push you to be the best you can be? By telling others that story you bring to light how special they are. This holds true for talking good about anyone. Did your spouse do something thoughtful for you? By sharing the joy they gave to you it brings more light and positivity to the world. This is a double-edged sword. Imagine what we do when we complain and share with others the terrible things people do?

I find by both being a candle to inspire others as well as a mirror to reflect the flame of the fabulous people I come across is the way that I can bring the most light into the world. Starting today, do your best to not only be an inspiration to others, but to recognize and help share those that inspire you as well.

FRIENDS WITHOUT BORDERS

This here a picture of myself and my good friend Johnny on St. Patrick’s day. I was working as a DJ at a local club that night. The story I am about to tell you serves as an example of several things. First, how small indeed the world is today. Second, how foolish things like racism and prejudice are. Third and finally, the benefits of being nice and sociable.

The back story is as follows. Johnny is a good friend of my lady, Margie. He has been a regular performer at her shows for quite some time. Before I met Johnny, Margie told me, “I think you are really going to like this guy.” She was indeed correct. Before I had the chance to discover that, however, there was some waiting involved. The reason for this waiting was due to the fact that Johnny lives in Mexico and only comes to visit at most a few times a year.

Through the last couple of visits he has read a lot of my writing and has found some things he can relate to. In fact, recently he has shared my book with people in the great state of Texas as well as other places. He has offered some very insightful feedback that has caused my writing to develop in ways it may not have otherwise. We have had some great discussions including sitting down for breakfast recently. These conversations has given birth to some great ideas that have been on this blog site and in my next book.

Speaking of books, recently Johnny has informed me that he is working on a book himself. He shared the plot with me and I must confess it sounds like a great story. I’ll update details as the situation develops. We discussed writing styles, publishing ins and outs as well as other ideas. There is no doubt his book will be a success. It is in a totally different genre than I write, but we certainly had a lot to discuss as the process and struggles of writing are the same regardless of content.

Johnny’s creativity is not limited to being a potential best-selling author. He also has several CDs available on cdbaby.com just search ‘Johnny L’. The style of his music is also something I am a fan of, classic standards from Elvis to Frank Sinatra. If you are a fan of this music or just great talent in general, I highly recommend giving him a listen.

The point of this post is several fold. If I were to make a sweeping judgment about people from the great country of Mexico I might not have the great benefits that my friendship with Johnny provides. If both Margie and I were not outgoing and genuinely friendly to the people at our shows Johnny would not have spent the time to become friends with us either. If it wasn’t for technology communication between all of us would be limited to just those few times a year. Whether you are from Mexico, Jamaica or Fiji shouldn’t matter. It is how you treat people and what you can bring to their lives. Technology is not limited by borders or culture, neither should your friendship be.

MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR PROPERTY

This is not a post about real estate. It is not a post about home ownership. It is a post about some property that you own that you could be making money off of right now and be living in soon if that is your desire. How can I say that when I don’t even know you? Each one of us own this kind of property, some more than others, but we all own some. Some are better developers than others, but we all can grow and develop our property as well.

The property I am talking about today is intellectual property. In other words, what is in your head. You have all heard me advocate that everyone should write a book. In case you haven’t, well, there it is. I think we all have a story inside of us. Before you start comparing yourself to Herman Melville or Ernest Hemingway, that is not necessarily the kind of writing I am talking about. Plus, to be honest, I am not a fan of either of those gents. What I mean is your own personal story. Do you have a subject you are interested in? There is somebody out there eager to hear about anything. That should be apparent from the number of views that flying cat toaster video got on YouTube. Whether your interest is computers or aardvarks someone wants to hear about it.

One of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, wrote about a walk he took in the woods and it ended up becoming a best seller. I highly recommend the audio book for long trips. You will not be disappointed. Maybe you have an adventure? People write about their high school and college days and go on to sell many copies. Do you have a lot of experience working in a certain industry? Think of all the people in that industry who could relate and would love to hear your tale.

In an age where your job could be replaced by a computer at any moment, having a book to sell can offer another source of income. Once a book is written, the only job is to market it. You do not have to rewrite the book each and every time you sell one. Being able to call yourself a ‘published author’ can add something extra to that resume should you be looking. With Amazon and lots of other self-publishing platforms, getting your story out there can be easier today then it ever was.

Writing a book is not just about money, or having a back up source of income. Sharing our stories allows us to help people who just may need what we have inside of us. Your story about the years you worked at Starbucks may just be what the stressed out barista needs to read. It may also bring to light some of the struggles employees at coffee shops go through so that customers may better understand and empathize. Reading books on subjects we know little to nothing about will help us expand our horizons. I know very little about farming, but reading a book could give me a glimpse into what is all involved in the industry. This is of some interest to me because a goodly amount of my family were farmers.

Here are two more quick reasons to write a book. Writing a book also leaves a legacy. Want to become immortal? Write a book. Your story will be kept alive long after you are gone. Writing a book also allows you to explore and live in your passion. This is great if you have an especially stressful day job. Coming home to spend an hour engaged in recording thoughts on your favorite subject can offer a great release. You will leave knowing and feeling you have a purpose greater than the 9 to 5.

Please consider making good use of your intellectual property. What the world needs more of is for people to tell their story. If you need advice from another author I am always right here to advise and encourage.

3 LEVELS YOU MUST MASTER

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What you are about to read will change your life. That is not hyperbole, it is not an exaggeration. If you are to really understand what I am about to share with you it will transform the way you view the world. It applies, and can be utilized in every area of your life. Personally, I am just beginning to grasp the power and magnitude of what I am about to share with you. Since coming across this knowledge only a short time ago, it has revolutionized how I write and teach.

There are three levels to every person. You, me, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa all have three levels. How we use and become aware of these three levels will affect every area of our lives. Want to be a great parent? There are three levels to that. Want to get healthy? Three levels there too. Want to have a great relationship? Three levels of love. I am going to share with you what these three levels are, how I came across this information and then we are going to scratch the surface of how we can put this to use to transform our lives. I say ‘scratch the surface’ because I could write and entire book on this subject. I also say that because I am only beginning to work with this information and I am continuing to learn and find new and exciting applications for it daily.

Without any more build up, here are the three levels you, me and the rest of the world share.

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional/Spiritual

This may not sound too profound at first, but stick with me and I think you will become as excited as I am.

First, allow me to share with you how I came to understand this principle. On a Wednesday at my Post Office job I had a very physical day. Sadly, that night I had to work as a DJ as well. Fortunately for me, my lovely lady was kind enough to put together a dinner as I took an hour nap. I slept well the physical nature of the work was exhausting. Thursday work at the Post Office was slightly less physical. I left and went to write and work on my upcoming book. I tried to do some self editing, which I enjoy slightly more than getting a root canal. I also created and worked on some posts for this website. I came home feeling even more tired than the night before. The following day, Friday, I planned to have a nice relaxing day. I arrived at work only to be told my job was looking at being eliminated. Something the Post Office seems to like to do rather often. I was informed by a coworker that not only was this the case, but the boss had also called into question my work ethic. Which, next to my integrity, is one of the most important things to me. You can imagine how frustrated, disappointed, and to be quite honest angry I was feeling. I few hours later the boss returned from lunch and I asked if I could speak with him. Knowing the discussion he had with our coworker he informed me that he expected to talk with me. To make a long story short, he cleared up that both issues were not at all true. My job was safe, for the time being, and he appreciated the job I did. You can imagine the change in emotions then. I went to back feeling relief, gratitude and a sense of pride in my work. I also felt something else – exhausted!!!

While pushing around a pallet jack, I stopped to share what I noticed with a coworker who happened to be standing there. I inquired whether she had noticed you can be tired in three totally different ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally or spiritually. Being that she is what we could safely say as not the most self-aware person, she stared and said, “Umm… I guess so.” Being that I was just kind of thinking out loud, I nodded and moved on.

As I was letting this information bounce around in my head as I worked, one of the benefits of having a job that does not tax me to mentally, a quote suddenly came to mind.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

Suddenly, the light bulb started to glow. I would say it lit up, but sometimes information takes a moment to develop in my brain. I thought to myself, “If there are three forms of exhaustion, there must be three ways to energize!” This simple thought has began to change my life. Here is what I came up with. Let us say you are having a day where you are sleep walking through everything you do. You could stop at your local Starbucks and grab a double espresso, the caffeine would give you a little boost. If you are anything like me, there are days where I swear my body laughs at my feeble attempts to bring it to life. Perhaps that same day you come across an article on a subject that really interests you, or you have a conversation with a friend about a project you are working on. Now you are mentally stimulated. The body will more than likely come along for the ride. Here is where things get interesting to me. If, on this day of working with an energy deficit, you come home to find your spouse has surprised you with tokens of affection you totally did not expect. Maybe a friend calls you to tell you how much they appreciate you. Suddenly, your soul is on fire! Nothing can top that. Sleep? Who needs it.

This applies to more than energy. Trying to lose weight? If you just try to eat better foods (Physical) your chances of success are slim to none. If you study the effects of being overweight (mental) such as less years in your life, complications that can arise as you age, your motivation will be better. If you really want to improve your odds of success, you may want to look at your children or grandchildren and realize you might not see what they will become in life. Maybe you will think about how much you will miss doing with them while you are here because you will not be able to keep up with them physically. This will cause a powerful emotional response. Your motivation then becomes part of your spirit. When that happens, you will change your thinking (mental) and change your actions (physical)

This works for healing too. Let us say you were in a car accident. Your cuts, scraps and bruises will heal. It may take a while for you to remember that your odds on being in another accident are rather slim. Still, in a traffic jam it may take you a while not to have your heart race and your nerves be on edge.

There are so many more areas of life and examples we could touch on, but I wanted to introduce you to this principle and allow you to begin to work with it in your own life. I would be elated to hear what areas you can think of where you could use the knowledge of the three levels and how you can put what we are learning into practice.

HOW A HICCUP HELPED MY WRITING

As an author, this statement in the picture is true far more often than I care for it to be. This evening is a fine example. Sitting at Starbucks trying to begin the final stretch in what seems to be the never-ending book, I was drawing a blank. Deciding on trying my hand at self-editing, which will hopefully allow the publisher to return the manuscript back to me with less red than black, I found myself struggling to stay awake.

There must be a special place in heaven for editors. I enjoying coming up with content that is not only useful, but hopefully somewhat entertaining. Spelling all of the words I am using correctly, not so much. Doing this for almost an hour, my brain had reached its breaking point.

Why can’t I seem to break through this wall between my great ideas and my keyboard? It seemed the more I tried, the higher the wall became. Then it happened. An unlikely event that would get me back on track. A hiccup. One of the two ladies sitting across from me developed the hiccups. Something that can certainly draw attention to yourself in a public setting. I glanced up, partly to make sure the lady was ok and mostly because it happened to be one of the most unique hiccups I have ever heard. The young lady excused herself fearing she may have disturbed me. Little did she know I was disturbed already. I assured her it did not phase me.

A few moments later her and the lady sitting next to her were sharing a snack. To say their opinions on the quality of the snack differed would be an extreme understatement. The second lady smiled and compared the flavor to dried cranberries. The first lady, the one with the hiccups grabbed her water in a vain attempt to wash whatever flavor still remained of the bite she had consumed. This drew the amusement of the second lady and laughter quickly ensued. Then they both apologized fearing they had broke my concentration.

Glad to be distracted from the task of editing, and always happy to share what I am working on, I explained what I was doing. They inquired as to what kind of books I write. A brief, but pleasant discussion on the topic of self-improvement occurred and we all went back to the tasks in which we were previously engaged.

That little break, and short conversation seemed to open a small crack in the wall. Newly inspired I approached the refinement of my literary work with a far less stressful demeanor. When you look for and appreciate everything in life, it all becomes a blessing. Even something as simple as a hiccup can create a feeling of gratitude.

Next time you find yourself creatively frustrated, take a step back. Laugh a little. Perhaps even reminding yourself why you are doing what you are currently working on will refresh you and give you a new sense of purpose.

THE LANGUAGE OF CHAMPIONS

This is a picture of my lady, Margie, and myself. It was taken at the “Best of Milwaukee” awards put on by Shepherd Express magazine. Both of us were runner up in our categories. Even the bar we DJ at, actually all three, were nominated as well. How did we manage to accomplish all of that? By speaking the language of champions.

What on earth is that, other than some fancy catch phrase? It is a set of standards that people who excel in any field adhere to. Have you noticed that giants in different industries can often be seen together sharing ideas? Have you ever wondered what on earth can Bill Gates and Aaron Rogers talk about other than ways to spend large amounts of cash? I can’t imagine Bill gates in shoulder pads any more than I can imagine Aaron Rogers running a Microsoft board meeting.

What they do have in common is the way they approach their craft. The same way the couple above, an author and motivational speaker with a cake and floral designer, can discuss strategy. Margie has a hard time reading more than a page without falling asleep, and if I tried to design a cake it would have to be explained away as an example of what not to do. That being the case, I believe given time and desire both of us could learn to excel in each other’s field. Not to the level we are both at, because I believe there is something to be said about natural talent, but I do believe we could be successful. This is not to sound narcissistic, for anyone can learn to be this way too. We all know famous people who seem to go from the movies, to music, or perhaps the other way around. These people are not just lucky or extra talented, but know the secret language of champions. It is the language I am going to introduce you to.

This is the first secret. In the last 3 months I have been not only nominated for the award mentioned above, but have been featured in 2 publications, and the guest on a national podcast. My website now has followers in over 100 different countries. All of these milestones have been reached in the last 3 months.

That sounds like a lot of success for a short period of time. What is not mentioned is the 6 years I have been writing blog posts, the 5 years since my book was published, and the seminars I gave where at one point only 10 people showed up. Was I tempted to give up? Sure, several times, but I didn’t. I kept writing, I kept speaking and promoting. Later this year I will be flying across the country to speak to a industry convention. (More on that in a future post)

I know I will be successful because of all I went through. Champions look like champions on game day because of all the hours they put in at practice. My lady’s cakes look like masterpieces because of all the years she spent developing her craft. I swear she can do things with a spatula I never imagined.

Do things ever go wrong for her on occasion? Absolutely. I recall one day coming home from my day job while she was decorating a cake and asking her how it was coming along. She looked up from the cake, spun around and with a look that spoke of a mix of insanity and frustration began to explain to me what happens when it is too hot and humid and frosting melts as it is on the cake. Being that I am a fan of hot humid weather, I felt it would be best if I pondered this cake lesson…while working out at the gym.

What makes her a champion is she learned from that experience and has updated her freezer, checked the mix of the frosting and some other cake magic involving unicorns, fairy dust and other things I will never understand. That is what makes a champion, the work. Jim Rohn once said “You cannot pay anyone to do your pushups for you.” Champions know that and enjoy the pushups. They learn and understand everything they go through can either make them bitter or better and they choose the latter way more often than the former.

Enjoy the process. Learn and use what you are going through right now. In other words, work harder in the preseason and when the championship comes, you will be ready.