ALL IN HOW WE LOOK AT IT

Challenges. We all go through them. Some are small, like leaving your cup of coffee on top of your car as you drive away. Some are big, such as a breakup or losing someone. We have little or no control over most of these. Who would voluntarily give up their dose of caffeine just to decorate the outside of their car?

What we all have in common is the fact that our lives include challenges. Some may appear to have more than others, but if we look closely we discover we all have them. What separates us is how we respond to challenges. How come some of us walk away bitter and some walk away better? This can even happen differently with the same person depending on the situation. I can say that I do not always respond best from challenges and often it takes the help of others to put me on the right track.

What makes the difference? The key here is perspective. As the picture above notes, some people have muscles and some have wounds. It is not a matter of minimalizing your pain or struggle, but putting it to work for you. As Eric Thomas, one of my favorite coaches reminds us, don’t waste your pain. It is bad enough that terrible things happen in life. Let us do our best to make use of them by gaining strength from the struggle we have survived or in some cases are currently going through. Print out this picture or maybe even just write it down for some good motivation!

A ROCK STAR WRITES AN AUTHOR

Every so often I send a celebrity a copy of my book. These are also usually accompanied by a letter explaining who I am and why I am sending them a book. These folks can range from people who have inspired me, professionals whose work I admire and those who I feel personify the kind of life I write about. The list has included Johnny Depp, Bill Bryson, Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, Nikki Sixx and many others.

Out of the countless people I have sent books to, a few have taken the time to send a nice response. Tony Robbins and Nikki Sixx sent emails and Sammy Hagar sent a nice letter. I appreciate these busy artists taking time out of their schedules to not only let me know they got the book, but to thank me as well. I am not famous by any means, but I still have a hard time getting back to everyone in a timely fashion. I suppose having 7 jobs will do that.

Recently, I sent a letter to a gentleman who I think fits all of the categories described in the first paragraph, the musician and actor Huey Lewis. Mr. Lewis is facing some intense personal challenges of his own and I thought it would be fitting to let him know how he and his music have motivated and inspired me. If you have not read my book A Happy Life for Busy People, allow me to share a portion of its content with you. One of the secrets I recommend to help deal with the daily stress we all face is to have a ‘Happy playlist’. This is a group of songs that put you in a positive state of mind. While it may not to anything to help fix the situation you are going through, it will help you show up in a better state to deal with the challenge.

With all of the insanity going on in my life presently, I had not given much thought to the books I had sent out recently. Then I check my P.O. Box and find a handwritten letter from Huey Lewis thanking me for the book and the words I had sent with it. Several things impressed me about this. First, that he took the time to send a reply. Second, he did so in a handwritten fashion. Not an email or form letter, but sat down with a pen and paper. Lastly, that he did all of this while facing his own struggles and while working on an album of new material.

What this shows me is the kind of character this man has. It would be easy to dismiss the work of a relatively unknown author. It would be easy to just send of thank you form letter. Instead this man took time to let me know he appreciated my gesture. I think that speaks volumes. I encourage all of us to include some ‘Huey Lewis and the News’ on our happy playlist. Not just because the music makes it very hard to maintain a bad state, but because it was created by a very thoughtful gentleman.

 

ARE YOU A LION OR A GAZELLE?


I have always loved this quote. In fact, I have a copy in my writing room. I always thought the gazelle had the better motivation. After all, if the gazelle doesn’t run fast enough it dies. If the lion doesn’t run fast enough it goes hungry. I suppose enough of those days and it could also die, but at the moment I always figured the gazelle was more motivated. Then something happened to completely change my perception. Has that ever happened to you? Like one minute you view things one way and with a bit of different information it all changes?
I was listening to a talk by Eric Thomas, one of my favorite motivators, and he pointed out something I had not thought of. If the gazelle does not see a lion, it does not run. It is quite leisurely eating grass spending the day with its friends. Its motivation relies on outside motivation. The lion, however, has the motivation coming from the inside, his stomach mainly. He will hunt regardless of whether it is a gazelle, water buffalo or some other animal. He does not need outside motivation. His motivation comes from a hunger within.
Let me tell you where this train of thought went. One of the areas that I am proudest of in my life is my relationship with the love of my life, Margie. We are far from perfect and don’t always see eye-to-eye, but we are always learning and more importantly, loving. Quite often both of us are told how lucky we are. Although I am truly fortunate and blessed that the powers that be put us in the same place at the same time, there is a lot of hard work involved. In every successful relationship there is. The reward for this is…well…a successful relationship.
I realized in my relationship I am successful because I am a lion. Before I lose some of you, let me explain what I mean. In the United States currently over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Looking at some of the couples I see and I am surprised that number is not higher. What happens from the time we get together blissfully in love to wanting to leave each other? More importantly, what do the couples that stay together do differently? They are lions and not gazelles when it comes to their relationships.
Most people fall in love for various reasons, but most of them are predicated on the person they fall in love with. There is rarely a thought of what they are looking for and equally as important, what they are looking to avoid. Margie and myself both came from long relationships before we met each other later in life. By this time we were a lot more clear on what we wanted and want we did not enjoy in a relationship. Quick note, she still surprises me by showing me things I did not even know I wanted in a relationship. Then people generally go on autopilot. When loving things happen, they feel loving. When stressful things happen, they feel stress. They are reactionary people. I am not sure how your life works, but in my life there are usually a lot of challenging things. That can leave you feeling stressed more often than loving. Stretch this out of a length of time and it is not so surprising a lot of relationships fail.
There are times when we put forth efforts. Birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s day come to mind. Then it is still the outside influence of the calendar that is motivating us. We are still a gazelle that depends on outside motivation to put forth a great deal of effort in our relationship. One of the most comical, yet sad things I witness is when you suddenly see someone become the best romantic partner ever. That is in the presence of another lion. A attractive young lady in a revealing outfit or a muscular gentleman with perfect features approaches your spouse and suddenly you are by there side showing the world, and more importantly that other lion that they are yours. I even heard people who never utter a romantic word become the next Shakespeare or Robert Browning, all but reciting romantic sonnets in the middle of a club, grocery store or wherever this romantic challenge happens. Yes, they are being romantic, but why? It is to defend and retain the romantic affections of there partner. They are still being a gazelle, dependent on that outside influence for motivation.
Sure, their romantic overtones are probably greatly appreciated, but it is usually obvious why they were made. I must confess to being guilty of this myself a time or two. In the world of being a DJ, it can be quite apparent that people have little to no respect for another’s relationship. I may have even occasionally attacked another lion, but I digress. What Margie and I do to make our relationship success is we are both lions. Our motivation for being loving and romantic with each other is a burning hunger to love and create the most loving relationship we can. Remember the lion in our first example? The motivation came from an inner hunger. It did not need an outside force for motivation.
How can you be a lion in a relationship? Even if someone would come up to Margie when she left the house in the morning and told her she was beautiful, I make sure I have already reminded her of that fact several times. My desire is to be the best romantic partner and friend I can be. My reward for this is a great connection with Margie. My hunger will make sure I am never content with that connection either. While I bask in the joy of our love, there is always an inner hunger to take our love and our relationship to greater heights. I do not need a special day or the influence of some other person to generate a desire to create love in my relationship. It is my hunger to be the best man I can be and to create the best relationship that drives me. In all areas of your life be a lion. channel that inner hunger to hunt down the best relationship, job or whatever else it is you are hunting.

YOU ONLY GET ONE


Listening to people who have accomplished what you would like to accomplish is certainly one way of succeeding. It is called mentoring or modeling. Not only do I advocate this as a great idea, but use it myself. Daily, you can find me listening to those I admire. Whether it is while I am working, working out or just relaxing, you can find greats such as Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, Earl Nightingale and others flowing through my headphones.
After years of listening to and reading greats from all walks of life you begin to notice common threads that make up each of their teachings. They may not be presented in exactly the same way, or spoken about using exactly the same words, but the core ideas are basically the same. This is why I suggest listening to many different sources of motivation and inspiration. Something worded in a slightly different way may be exactly what it takes to resonate with you. I listen to a podcast called Metal Motivation which blends heavy metal music and motivation. I also listen to Bishop T.D. Jakes who receives most of his inspiration from the bible. Both have benefited me greatly.
Here is an idea that I first heard from Warren Buffett. He asked the question, “If you could have any car you wanted what would you choose?” I am sure cars like those in the picture above may leap into your mind. Before you give your answer, let me tell you the caveat he added to that question. You can have any car you want, but that will be the vehicle you have to have for the rest of your life. I have heard the same analogy used for a house and other things as well.
I am not going to get into the importance of selection, because that is up to you. Here is what I am going to ask, once you have that house, vehicle or what ever it is we use as an example, how good would you take care of it? Would you put in the cheapest oil and gas into your car or would you spend a little extra for the good stuff? Would you drive with reckless abandon or would you do your best to avoid an accident? Would you share your one house with people who would party and destroy it or would you only invite those over who would be fun, yet respectful?
These seem like simple no brainers, but let me tell you a little secret. You can always buy a new house or car. There are things in life you only get one of. These include your mind, your body and…well…your life. Think about that for a moment. You only have one body, are you treating it with the care it deserves or are you out partying every night? Do you eat to fuel and feed your body or do you just shove anything that tastes good into your mouth? What about your mind? Do you read or watch things that will inspire and motivate you or do you spend countless hours watching reality television?
What about your life in general? Do you spend your time more concerned with what others are doing with their one life or are you focused on getting the most joy and love out of your own life? Have you thought about the people you have invited into your life? Are they the party and destroy it kind or those who would value the time you share with them? Do they bring out the best in you or the stress in you?
There are a few things in life that we only get one of, are we paying enough attention to them? Take a few moments to realize how you treat your mind, your body and your life. Remember to make the most of them because we will not get another.

BECOME A FARMER

On any given day life can find us short on feelings of motivation and inspiration. A good deal of my work involves helping people become the best versions of themselves. One of the biggests hurdles is remaining motivated and inspired to keep working on improving yourself. For that very reason, this blog focuses on helping to motivate and inspire, but today we are going to take it a step further. How can you take inspiration and motivation a step further? We will do so by finding something that will increase the length and intensity of being inspired. This seems like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to feel inspired more often and to a greater degree? I think we all would.

My family two generations ago were mostly farmers. This is Ironic as I struggle to keep my house plants alive. As you read this I have a spider plant that is nearing the end. One of the great things I admire about farmers is how much their work can affect so many. One farm can grow enough food to feed the entire community or more depending on the size of the farm. Taken on a smaller scale, even one apple tree can yeild many apples to be enjoyed by others. Both of those examples started with one person planting a seed in the ground. In this way I have learned that I could still carry on my family legacy of farming. By planting seeds.

This may all sound a bit confusing, so let me explain. The great secret I have discovered in my 20 plus years working in the self-improvement field is the greatest way to become inspired is to inspire others. When I first got started in the field of self-improvement I did so because my life was the one that needed improvement. I began by listening to tapes (It was 20+ years ago) of Tony Robbins. I liked what he said and so I began to try some of the things he suggested. Low and behold they worked! I began to read more self-improvement authors such as Wayne Dyer, Deepok Chopra and others. I wrote down what worked best for me from each person. Often, it was a combination of principles from several people. Sometimes I tweaked them based on my own personal experience.

It was suggested by a friend of mine to begin sharing these tips on a website. I never thought of myself as a teacher in the beginning. I was simply sharing what I read. To a great deal, this is still what I do today. As the years passed I began to see common threads that ran through all of the teachings I read. I tried to break everything down to these core principles. That began my writing which two years after starting my website lead to my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People. This same formula followed as I began to watch motivational videos, then started my own YouTube channel. I attended several seminars and soon realized I should offer one of my own.

In each of the these cases I have learned that the best way to be inspired is to inspire others. To plant the seed of motivation as it was planted in me by people like Earl nightingale, Eric Thomas, Les Brown and more. To watch that seed blossom into something wonderful in someone you have reached is one of the most amazing things that can happen. When we are in each other’s company we are all planting seeds. They can be either seeds of gossip or seeds of joy. Whatever you plant, in others, or even in yourself will grow. Especially if you nuture it. Be a farmer of inspiration today.

I USED TO BE TOO COOL FOR THIS

I recall some of my first exposure to the principles of self-improvement. They seemed hokey and new age at best, far out and ridiculous at worst. I was a singer in a band, I was a bartender. I had no desire to take my inner child on a play date. When I heard someone talk about meditation or keeping a journal I thought they would be someone sitting alone in a tent in the middle of the desert giving advice or something. That was actually a description I gave to my good friend Russ. In short I thought all of this self-help stuff was a bunch of B.S..

My dramatic change from someone who mocked all things that might be labeled ‘self-improvement’ to someone who is not only a proponent of such material, but a creator and distributor as well, happened over a period of time. It is like the story of boiling a frog in a pot of water. If you put a frog in a pot of hot water it will jump out, but if you turn the heat up slowly it will sit there until it boils to death. Please know I am not advocating harm to animals, but my life proceeded along a similar path. As life slowly turned the heat up on me I found myself literally boiling to death in a pool of stress.

One of the first stresses I can think of is when I was working at a telemarketing job. For those of you who have never had a job in this field, just consider what you have said, or heard other people say to telemarketers. Now, imagine being the person on the other end of the phone…eight hours a day…6 days a week. I remember listening to Bob Marley’s Legend album on my lunch hour every day. I would close my eyes, push play and picture being on a beach in Jamaica. Little was I aware I was practicing visualizing and meditation. Not that I called it that. At the time I just said I was “unwinding on lunch”. All I was sure of is that is made me feel better and be able to withstand the constant barrage of colorful phrases people share with telemarketers.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself awake at 3a.m. ready to go to the post office job I was thrilled about. This was after working an entire bartending shift I was also growing weary of. As you can imagine this and other stresses also affected my relationships with others at the time. While sitting on the couch putting on my shoes I saw an infomercial. It was for a collection of CDs from Tony Robbins. Being half asleep and feeling frustrated with the direction my life was going at the time, I thought “What the hell do I have to lose?” I ordered the tapes, went to work and soon forgot all about it. A week later they arrived. I listened on my short commute I had to work at the time and soon found myself taking detours to listen to more.

Soon I found myself looking at life from a different angle. Shortly thereafter, my job was downsized and the real test began. I found myself at the local library looking for answers. Those of you who have read my book or followed me for any amount of time have no doubt heard this story countless times. After finding things that helped a former ‘rock star’ and bartender who was too cool for self-help, I wanted to share it with others who thought themselves too bad ass for this material, but were silently, or not so silently suffering on the inside. That lead to the creation of this website, a book, a YouTube channel and seminars. In short, it brought us to where we are now.

If you came across this on accident, or are postponing on taking the leap on learning tools that could improve your life because you are simply too cool, I urge you to reconsider. First of all, get rid of the term self-help. I never liked that term to begin with. It has the feel like you are helpless and can only succeed with the help of someone else. I prefer the term self-improvement. The truth is you don’t need anyone else. What you may be lacking is information and a plan. As long as you have the desire, there are many paths that can lead you to success.

The other thing you might wish to consider is that in the beginning nobody needs to know what you are doing, or that you are doing anything at all. You can read in private. You can rent and watch movies in the privacy of your own home. You can start like I did listening to things while you are alone in the car. Once you see, and more important feel the increase in joy and reduction in stress, you can decide how public you may want to be with your quest to become the best version of yourself.

As a bonus, here are a list of a few recommendations I have for improving yourself after spending over two decades in the field. This is not a complete list by any means and if you would like to add to it feel free.

Books

  • A Happy Life for Busy People
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • The Power of the Subconscious Mind
  • The Tao of Pooh
  • The Secret

CD or MP3 Programs

  • The Strangest secret
  • Personal Power
  • Any videos or audio by Tony Robbins, Earl Nightingale, Les Brown or Eric Thomas

LIVE LIKE YOU’RE ON VACATION

If you can belive it, this is me at work. Why on earth am I wearing a tropical shirt and hat from Jamaica? It was all inspired from a line in a song by the rock band Kiss. The line is this, Don’t need to wait for an invitation . You gotta live like you’re on vacation. This line was the beginning of a great quest for me. Personally I love tropical vacations. Literally I am transformed into a different person when I step off the plane. It is a different mindset. Anyone who has went on vacation knows exactly what I am talking about. Working on my upcoming book Living the Dream the question foremost in my mind was how can we take this mindset back with us like a valuable souvenir? How can we tolerate bosses who insult us or workplaces that are negative? One I have been working on lately. How can we tolerate freezing temperatures with no sun when we would much rather be at the beach?

While pondering this question for months on end I discovered a great and powerful secret. One I am going to share with you free of charge right here in this blog post. Those of you who will be able to wrap your head around this secret will at once understand the freedom it provides for anyone who uses it. I have personally used this secret everyday since I discovered it. Not only has it provided me a great sense of freedom, but it has made my life so much more enjoyable. Here is the great and powerful secret.

There is no law of physics that states your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.

I encourage you to read that statement again slowly. Ponder what that means for you. Cleaning the toilet? Why have your mind focused on the task at hand and all the not so pleasurable things that go with it. Working out? Think of how great you will feel with your new body on the beaches of Fiji. That is why a lot of us listen to music or other such things while we workout. I am in the gym 5 days a week and I can promise you that would not be possible without the encouragement of Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas or the music of Motley Crue and Shabba Ranks.

When we realize this power, it is important to note the two sides of it. When you are in a not so pleasant situation. Say working at the post office with a boss who walks the thin line between sane and insane, hypothetically. Then you can imagine being on the vacation that job allows you to save for. What beach will you go to? What will you see while snorkeling? Before you know it, the time clock will tell you it is time to go.

Here is the other fun part of this. It can really benefit you to be fully present during the good times. Once my lady had a bath with scented bath salts, a few candles and a glass of wine waiting for me. (yes I do have one amazing lady and don’t I know it) Now I knew this was going to be a great experience so I tried to soak it in with all of my senses. I felt the warm water relax my muscles. I took a deep breath and enjoyed both the scent from the bath salts as well as the steam. I took time to really enjoy the taste of the wine, the glow of the candles. I hope you are getting the idea. Do this with every pleasure, big and small, that life gives you. How many times have we driven somewhere only to park and wonder who drove when we were the only person in the car? This can be good if we are fighting rush hour, but if we are taking a drive to the grocery store via the parkway, take time to enjoy the scenery. Enjoying a great meal? Take time to savor every bite. The smell, the taste, the texture of the food in your mouth. We are preparing to go on vacation to Jamaica in November and I am already excited to soak that all in.

Here is my advice to you. Be present when life is pleasurable. When it is not, send your mind on vacation. Go skiing, or camping. Think of an especially good memory you have or maybe something you really are looking forward to.

Remember, your mind and body do not have to be in the same place at the same time.

A QUICK REMINDER

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Let us take a quick break from the ‘P’ words today to touch on a subject that has been showing up a lot in messages and a comments on here and my Facebook and YouTube channel. The subject is this, what do you do when you are pushing to just get by, or maybe even doing something truly great and wonderful for society and the bottom falls out? You are on the edge of success and then you fall back to rock bottom.

This feeling sucks. There is no other way to put it. So what can we take away from this situation? Remember two very important things. One, you are further along than you were yesterday. Oh sure the outside evidence may seem contrary. You may have less money, be further away from your goal, your relationships may seem more distant. The truth is you now have gained experience. You now have went through the failure. That gives you new information and motivation you did not have before. Even if it is only how bad it feels and how much you want to get out of it.

The second thing to remember is sometimes we cannot get out of our own way so someone must push us. What do I mean by this? We may be trying really hard to succeed at what we are currently working at, but there are bigger plans for us. Let me give you two examples from famous authors and speakers I admire. Les Brown, who has inspired millions with his words was once a radio DJ. Imagine if he would have just focused on succeeding there? Eric Thomas who reaches millions on YouTube channel and through his books and CDs was once a bus boy at Olive Garden.

The point is this. When you’re at the bottom remember the only way from there is up. You might just being pushed in a new direction. Feel free to share this message with those who are struggling.

ALL ABOUT FOCUS

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Let’s talk about what I consider one of the greatest skills one can master and that is focus. I used to give a passing fancy to the subject of focus but recent events and conversations with friends has changed the importance of focus. When I started thinking of it and reflecting on my past it became clear how much of a role focus played.

Have you ever felt like you could have 48 hours in a day and still not get everything you need done? I am sure we all have. One major reason we seem to resemble the hamster in a wheel just running in place and not going anywhere is our focus, or should I say lack of focus. You are starting to clean the house, but then you think of something you wanted to check on Facebook. An hour and several videos about your friend’s pets you realize pretty soon you have to start dinner. You start making dinner and a friend sends you a text about going to lunch. You tell her about how you spent all day trying to clean the house and didn’t get anywhere. 12 messages back and forth and dinner is on pace to be served at midnight.

We all have days like this. Myself included. We have all had the opposite days though, haven’t we? You know when we get lost planting the garden and are suddenly interrupted and look up and have all the rows planted. How does this happen? Focus. When we are focused on the end goal and keep that in front of us our actions become more focused. So how do we stay focused on committed to our goal? I have found something that works for me. Two things really. First, whether it is cleaning the house or getting in shape, create a strong ‘Why’ this will be discussed in greater detail in my next book, but here is the nuts and bolts. WRITE DOWN both what you will gain by doing what you are striving for, and what you will lose by not doing it. I know what you are thinking “So you are giving me even more to do, that is not going to help” Well taking five minutes to do this step will save you stress and grief going forward. I capitalized the first part of that statement because writing it down, especially when it comes to a goal that needs to maintain focus on for long periods of time it is essential to not only keep your goal in front of you but the reasons you need to get it done. Then when your cell phone starts talking to you send it right to voicemail. As Eric Thomas one of my favorite motivational speakers says “most of us would be more successful if we gave up our phone” So keep your goals and reasons in front of you. do this for a week and see what happens. There is one more thing you can do that I learned from major league athletes.

If I were to ask you, “who is the greatest of all time?” A lot of us, especially those of us who follow sports think of Muhammad Ali. Why would we think that? Because he told everybody. More importantly he told himself. That is what he focused on, being the greatest of all time. That is what we all need to do. We need to tell each other and ourselves that we are going to accomplish our goals. Les Brown, another one of my favorite speakers tells us to let ourselves “you got the right stuff” Put that on the mirror. There will be more about becoming the legends we were born to be. For now, focus on what you have to accomplish and why and enjoy the ease in which it seems to happen.