I’VE BEEN A THIEF FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS! (and why you should be too)

In the last two decades of my self-improvement career I have become quite a thief. Some of the greatest people in history are thieves as well. Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, and both Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn. When I say that both myself and these greats of history are thieves, I do not mean stealing ketchup when you are three years old and your mother has to take you back to the store to explain and return it. For that you would have to get some clarification from my lovely Margie. When I say that myself and these other wonderful folks are thieves, I mean of the information variety.

As you can see Mr. Einstein gave credit to those who have went before him and used it as motivation to further his work. Can you imagine if everything in the scientific and mathematical community had to be relearned every generation? If we had to go back to square one? Relearn Newton’s laws of physics? Rediscover the periodic table? This would have ripple effects on the medical profession, meteorology, zoology and many other ‘ologies’ that I can’t even think of. What we do is build on and learn from the knowledge of the generations before us. We learn their discoveries and make our contribution. Different generations can look at the same information each from their own unique perspective. They can also present it in their own way and with their own words. This will bring the information to light in a whole new way to an entirely different audience. Without stealing this information, very little advancement or new discoveries would be made.

Nowhere is this more true than in the field of self-improvement. One of the gentleman in the photo above most of you know. That would be Tony Robbins. My self-improvement journey and consequently career was inspired, in part, due to Mr. Robbins. I found myself staring at the television in the very early hours of the morning while getting ready for work at the post office when one of his famous infomercials came on. Perhaps it was lack of sleep, or maybe it was just the right moment, but I felt the desire to order one of his tapes and see what all of this was about. Over 20 years later and I find myself speaking and giving my own seminars. The more of a teacher or mentor you become in the field of self-improvement, the more of a student you become. Every day I read, listen to audio or watch video of other teachers. On an ambitious day I do all three. The other man in the photo is Jim Rohn, the gentleman who taught Tony Robbins. When you listen to Tony, you hear a lot of what Jim would teach, but with Tony’s flair and added knowledge. Jim, on the other hand, learned from a man named J. Earl Shoaff.

All of these gentleman ‘stole’ a little from each other. Perhaps a better word would be the modeled them. They listened to the words earned through years of wisdom each man had. It gave them knowledge that would have taken them years to learn on their own. Les Brown, another one of my favorite speakers, quotes so many other teachers and mentors that my head starts to spin. Oprah Winfrey has had the unique opportunity of interviewing some of the greatest minds of our time. She gladly shares things she has learned from them.

And then there is me, who has stolen knowledge from all of these men and more! I have learned discipline and overcoming odds from the likes of David Goggins, former Navy Seal. I have learned the art of being a good interviewer as well as the knowledge from all the great guests on Impact Theory ( I highly recommend looking that show up) Hosted by Tom Bilyeu. I even try my best to steal nuggets of wisdom on nature from my good friend Shannon, philosophy from my friends Nick, Amanda and Russ, the benefits of nature and rock-n-roll from my friend Eduardo and of course my beautiful Margie and I spend every day sharing and learning from each other.

I am encouraging you to become a knowledge thief now. Whatever field you are interested in or pursuing, there is information out there. Your library is full of books, YouTube has millions of videos. There are podcasts, webinars, seminars and audio available. Search out this information that is being shared and steal some for yourself. Here is the best part. When you share that knowledge with others, you will do so in your special and unique style. It will reach people who may never have been touched by a Tony Robbins or Les Brown. Your words might touch a special place in someone’s heart that nobody else could. Before long, people may begin stealing from you.

USING YOUR TREASURE

Wouldn’t it be great if we had treasure all around us? If you have an overflowing bank account would you leave that money in the bank or would you put it to use to make your life better and more enjoyable. If your answer is ‘yes’ you are like most of us walking around this earth. If your answer is ‘no’ feel free to place that money in my bank account I would be more than happy to give you a demonstration on how this all works.

Most people desire money so greatly because they believe it will make them happy. You may be tempted to disagree, but if you follow the trail it always ends in happiness. If you want money to ease your stress of finances, that would make you feel less stressed and happy. Perhaps you are noble and would like to make money to help feed and cloth children in poverty. Knowing that you helped those who may not be able to help themselves would make you feel like you did something good and in turn that would leave you feeling…yep, you guessed it, happy!

Some people chase happiness in more spiritual realm. They find happiness in some sort of enlightenment. In the end their accomplishments, even in the spiritual realm, will lead to happiness. Some people enjoy serving others. Some people enjoy overcoming obstacles. There are a million different things that all of us do to mine for the treasure of happiness. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a tool that would allow us to carry those fleeting moments of happiness with us? In effect, extending the duration of happiness. Good news, there is and I am going to share it with you. In fact, you may use portions of this tool unconsciously right now. Switching to doing so with a purpose will allow you to have, and be surrounded by an inner feeling of joy even in the darkest of times.


This tool was brought to my attention by a story shared from a coworker. Weekly, I am scheduled to visit our friends at the post office in the city of South Milwaukee in the state of Wisconsin where I live. On this particular day, I was greeted by an employee named Michelle. She was excited to share some recent photos of her son’s engagement. They had traveled to the romantic city of Savannah in the great state of Georgia under the premise of a family photo so that the future bride-to-be would not suspect anything. Tears of joy flooded the faces of all parties involved and you could tell that mom was quite proud of her son and excited for her future daughter-in-law. She had several pictures in her phone that she was going to have printed out and could recall all of the details of this great story. You could see the emotions flood her as she relayed it to me. I couldn’t help but feel happy for her.

In parting, I remarked how wonderful it was that in the middle of all the insanity that is occurring the world, it was great she had such a wonderful memory to carry with her. As I began to walk back to my postal truck for the trip back to the post office I normally work at, I was still struck my how much joy she had. It was if she was still in sunny Savannah despite the fact that she was clearly in the sunshine-challenged city of South Milwaukee. I note this phenomenon often telling others that “There is no law of physics that say your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” Quite often while shoveling snow here in Wisconsin during the winter, my mind is on a tropical beach drinking out of a coconut.

This is something that we, like our friend Michelle, can do with the events in our life. Capture those beautiful moments with pictures, video and anything else we can think of. Put those cell phones to good use. Then share your joy with others. Maybe print out some of those pictures and keep the frame on your desk. Every so often, take but a few quick moments to travel back there in your mind. Use as many of your senses to make it real. Remember what the tropical flowers smelled like. Feel the warm sun and the cool ocean breeze on your skin. Taste the wonderful rum cocktails (remember, as tempting as this may be, we are still only doing this in our minds) Hear the birds and the rustle of the palm trees in the wind. You will be amazed at how much good a mini mental vacation will do you.

TURNING DEFEAT INTO SUCCESS

These next few posts are going to be a collection of lessons that I have learned from coworkers. Three different people, three different post offices. We begin in the sunny town of Franksville where I used to be postmaster. I was discussing self-improvement and introspective topics with the person who works there. We often have brief but intense discussions on some of our favorite people who inspire us.

On this particular day, the young lady mentioned she had been having some stressful days where she was feeling down. She was concerned that in her journey she might be taking a step back. I think any of us on a path to improving our lives and ourselves, have felt something similar. One of the most common questions I am asked at book signings, seminars and just by people I interact with is “Do you ever have a bad day?” “Are there days you are not in a good mood?” My answer is simple, of course I do. Everyone has days in their life where things just seem to go south when you would like them to go north. I actually had my day start that way today.

Does this mean we are not being successful in our self-improvement journey? Does this mean we are somehow doing it wrong? Are the amount of days we feel down indicative to our progress in life? Not at all! As the movie Forest Gump made light of, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you might get.” There are many situations that are beyond our control. Some moments it would appear we are having a run of ‘good luck’ where other times it would seem ‘the deck is stacked against us’. I am here to tell you that kind of thinking is a bunch of BS! (Belief systems).

Our success is not in eliminating every single challenge in life. We will all have days or more to the point, moments when life gets the best of us. The true test of our character is in shortening both the intensity and duration of those experiences. In fact, we grow most in times of pain and challenge. We learn the most about ourselves, those we care about and the world around us when times see the darkest. It is in putting these situations to work for us that we can take an experience that is a negative and turn it into a positive. Like finding a big hole in the ground and turning it into a mind in which we pull diamonds out of. These diamonds are better than jewels though. They can be diamonds of physical, mental and emotional strength we never knew we had. It can be the jewel of gratitude for those who help us when we are down.

How can we turn all of these negative situations in positive ones? I am going to give you a quick tool to start using by the end of our time together here today. Here it is – ask two simple questions. It would be a good idea to write these two questions down so when times get tough you don’t have to search for them on top of everything else. The first one we kind of alluded to earlier. How can I use this? Can I use it to be better prepared for a similar event in the future? Can I use it to develop a skill that I do not have at this moment in time? Can I use it to stoke the fires of motivation I have to succeed in the future?

The second question we should ask ourselves when things are bad is What is good about this? If you ask this question second it usually works a lot better. Once you found how to put your grief/pain/anger/sadness or whatever other challenging emotion to work for you, it can be a lot easier to find something positive in it. Perhaps you are experiencing the pain of regret over not spending enough time with a love one you lost. You can put that pain to work to motivate you to cherish and give 100% to those you love who are still here. The ‘positive’ that could come out of that pain is to remind you to express your feelings and take time for those who are in your life presently. I am sure you could think of examples in your own life as well.

To wrap up what turned out to be a longer post than I expected, let us remember the true measure of success. It is not to eliminate all stress and never have a bad day. We would never really grow then. It is finding ways to shorten the duration of time we spend in that negative state. We can do it by asking the two questions in the order we demonstrated above. When we go through pain and struggle we gain valuable tools that will allow us to better contribute to and serve others around us and the world at large. Next time you find yourself having a day where you are feeling down, remember that does not mean you are failing. What it does mean, is you have an opportunity to grow and develop tools you would otherwise not have.

HOW FAST ARE YOU?

What do you think of when I say the word fast? A slick sports car? Maybe a supersonic jet? A cheetah? If you are really into nature maybe you think of a peregrine falcon, which is actually the faster animal on land. None of these can match the fastest object that has been on earth. While we think of all these sleek and sexy images when we ponder the word fast, the truth is quite less sexy. The fastest object ever recorded on earth was a… manhole cover.

Like the description for the word, when we wish to go fast in life we think of all of the outside circumstances. A really fast engine or muscle and aerodynamics. While these certainly do help the situation, they are not the most important. What is really important is what is driving or propelling you. Let us take the story of the manhole cover. In 1957 the United States was conducting underground nuclear testing. Just to be sure they covered the site with a half-ton iron manhole cover. I am not sure if that weight was chosen with some sort of science behind it, or because it just sounded really heavy.

After said experiment, our friendly nuclear scientists went out to retrieve the manhole cover. To their surprise, they could not locate it. Where had it gone? The repeated the experiment, because large nuclear explosions underground must be terrible fun. This time they set up a high speed camera to see if the could see what happened to the cover. By studying the film, they discovered the manhole cover to be traveling at 125,000 miles per hour or 5 times the escape velocity of earth. That means at this time both covers are somewhere around pluto.

A manhole cover isn’t tricked out with anything fancy and doesn’t go fast, if anywhere, on it’s own. Put a nuclear explosion behind it and it will become the fastest object ever on earth. The same can be said for you. You may not view yourself as the fastest, the smartest, the luckiest or whatever other adjective you are pondering. If you put enough energy behind you, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. I am not recommending you stand above a nuclear explosion. No, in humans our propulsion is our why. It is this motivating factor that determines our speed, our persistence, and our drive. If you are not moving fast enough, strengthen your why. Increase the internal explosion and it will blast you towards any objective.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY ABOUT THE MANHOLE

THE BEST BLACK FRIDAY PURCHASE

Invest in yourself

Whatever you may be shopping for on black Friday, there is one purchase you should be making – investing in yourself.

The majority of people stop learning when they conclude their formal education, whether that be high school, college or a PhD. However, investing in ourselves will give us the greatest dividends.

If we invest in our health it will give us quality years with those we love. If we invest in learning, it will give us increased income and success. Investing in stress reduction will give us an increased peace of mind and better health.

So this black Friday if you are out shopping do not forget to invest in yourself. Next week we will look at specific investments we can make in ourselves.

USE YOUR EYES AND YOUR MOUTH!

Last post we looked at how our focus determines a great deal of how we see the world. That goes with the first half of the quote above, keeping our eyes positive. Seeing the possibilities and not just the obstacles. Seeing what is working while working on what could use some fixing. Looking at the good in a situation and just the bad. Changing how we look at the world will change the world we look at a great deal whether that is positively or negatively. That is why it is so important to keep our eyes positive.

Let us now look at the second half of that statement. Keeping our tongue positive will have the world loving us. Some of you may say “I don’t care how the world sees me!” or “The only person’s opinion that matters in mine!” To that I would say you probably have yourself fooled about other things as well. It is true that we should not live our life predicated on what other people think of us and what we are doing. That being said, if your friends, your family and your spouse go to bed thinking what a jerk you are every night, that is going to weigh on you no matter how self-centered of an individual you may be.

Considering you are reading a blog called Secret2anamazinglife, I assume you have a good deal of affection for your fellow humans. Not to mention, it always feels good to hear a kind and encouraging word throughout the day. Think of how you feel after you have been the recipient of some love and praise. Perhaps you feel energized? A little more confident. You feel believed in and supported. How would this affect your productivity? Would this affect the way you treat others you come in contact with? Wouldn’t it be great if everyone came from a place of feeling energized, loved, believed in and supported? Wouldn’t it be great if you came from that place…daily?

The truth is your world can be this way. Those you meet can, eventually, come from a place of love, appreciation and positive energy. You can come from this place and you can do so on a regular basis. Not only can this happen, but it is easier than you may think and all it takes is one decision from you. This is not some self-improvement hype or positive thinking theory I am giving you. It is the truth.

All we have to do is to decide to use our tongue to spread positivity. Let us look at how this will play out. First of all, if you know someone is walking up to you and, through past conversations you know the conversation is likely to be a positive one, how will you treat them? Chances are you would greet them with a smile, and genuinely welcome their company. When you share positive conversation with others it will make them feel loved and appreciated. That will positively impact their lives and in turn will positively impact how they act in association with you. Can you imagine if you did this with everyone in your life? Would that mean everyone in your life would be positive? Not exactly. We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit that we share the world with people that see the rain in every rainbow. I know a person that if I gave them a golden goose would complain it poops on the sidewalk. Still, these people would certainly be the exception and not the rule.

This may sound like a fantasy world, but it is not. It is a simple mathematical equation. If people are exposed to positivity and encouragement, they tend to be more positive and encouraging. Not every day. We all have times when life gets the best of us. The more you spread positivity, however, the more likely you are to receive it as well. Here is the great bonus in all of this. The more you receive this positivity in return, the easier it is to go on spreading the positivity. It continues to grow in both frequency and intensity the more this equation is put into place. The exciting part is it is all up to us to start it. Use your tongue to spread positivity today and watch your life change in the days to come.

A MOMENT OF REFLECTION

In the spirit of ‘Throwback Thursday’ I wanted to take a moment to look back at this blog and see where we have come from and where we are heading. Just like when you are walking up a steep hill and running out of energy, it can help to stop, look down and see how far you have already climbed. To me, growing this blog can sometimes seem like climbing a hill. Although I am extremely passionate about helping others and learning and sharing ways to improve our lives, the business of growing an audience can, on occasion, feel daunting. How I measure success in my writing, speaking and coaching business is the amount of lives I have touched. When it comes to this blog, the metrics are pretty much the same.

Lucky for me, I can see the stats daily. This not only shows me how many people my words are reaching, but also where these people are! So far we have reached over 150 countries and all 7 continents! Imagine how thrilled I was the day I received notice that someone at a base in Antarctica was reading what we share here. Still no Greenland. Perhaps everyone on that island country is living the life of their dreams. I must confess as to not having the pleasure of visiting there. I look to having more ‘meet and greets’ and book signings in many more locations as soon as the world goes back to a degree of normal.

Back to our friendly stats. As you can see I began this blog in 2012, eight years ago. That seems like a different lifetime entirely to me. When I began it served more as a place to record not only the best of what I had discovered in the world of personal-development, but my own thoughts of many of the challenges facing the world today. I began that year on Thanksgiving and by the end of the year had over 100 people visit this site. I was shocked to discover there were that many people interested in discovering secrets to an amazing life. Fast forward several years and we had grown our community to almost 15,000 visitors. I was excited to share with, and learn from so many wonderful people. My goal this year is to double the size of our community. Imagine having that many minds sharing secrets that have allowed them to lead an amazing life?

As we look ahead I am excited to see what the future holds. I would love nothing more than to continue to develop this online community and discover more ways to be of service to all of you. With that in mind, I humbly request you share this site with anyone you might know who would enjoy learning and sharing with us secrets to living an amazing life. This site is completely sharable on all social media platforms. Feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and anywhere else you think would be served with a little light and love. If you have any suggestions to increase our following or add to what you would like to see on this site, I encourage you to leave them in the comments below. Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for a great 8 years and look forward to an even better next 8 years!

THE 1 SIDE EFFECT THAT I OVERLOOKED

Last post we discussed lists and how valuable they can be. Today we are going to focus on one of those lists and how a strange side effect of keeping that list can add an unexpected positive element to your life. This list will change your life for the better quicker than almost anything else I know. It is a list that I recommend to everyone. It is also one of the first steps that I advise making to your life to increase your happiness and improve your outlook on your life. It also has what seems to be a magical effect on the lives of all who try it. In my own life, it completely changed the person I was for the better! All of this may sound like hyperbole, but it is 100% true. This list? A list of things you are grateful for every day and why.

I recommend everyone try making a list of 3 things they are grateful for and why each night and then read that list the following day 3 times a day – morning, noon and night. Do this for 30 days and I promise you life will never have felt more amazing. You add the why to make it more compelling. You are grateful for the sunshine, that is fine, but why? Maybe the sunshine gives you feelings of hope? Perhaps it reminds you of pleasant vacations taken with family and friends? You were grateful for the good service you received. Wonderful! Why was that so important to you? Did the kindness and courtesy of a stranger lighten the load of a stressful day? Did it reaffirm for you that there are good people in the world? I promise you reading and remembering these moments will change the way you experience life.

Here is something fun and interesting that I did not notice before. Not only will utilizing this secret to an amazing life change your mindset to one of living life in a state of gratitude, but it will also give you a great look at what you tend to focus on. This side effect can be very enlightening. If I review my entries in my gratitude journal, I see that there are several references to things in nature. The afore mentioned sunshine. Going for a walk in a new and exciting natural area, the smell of spring in the air, passing a herd of deer on the way home and several others. I discovered that nature and natural things not only instill a feeling of gratitude in my heart, but bring me a great deal of joy.

The same can be said for thoughtful actions of others. When Margie knew I was going to write at home today as all of the coffee shops are closed, she prepared a little area for me including plugging in my ‘happy lamp’ because it was a very gloomy day. I was very grateful for this. If she had bought me a pizza or a bottle of rum I would have been grateful for that. Not because of the material aspect, but because of the thought behind it. When strangers hold doors for me or smile and share a kind word, these things mean a great deal to me.

Learning these facts were useful because I could now make it a plan to spend more time in nature and with thoughtful people. It is ironic because I learned this by keeping track of what I was grateful for, but by putting these two items into action it will make it easier for me to achieve and maintain my grateful mindset. An interesting, but very helpful side effect I never noticed!

Begin keeping a gratitude journal today! Write 3 things you are grateful for every day and why. Then review those things at least 3 times the following day, morning, noon and night. Do this for 30 days. At the end of those 30 days, go back and see if you can see any patterns of things, people or situations that have you feeling grateful. Do your best to put more of those into your life and before long you will be walking around with a grateful heart!

YOUR INNER TREASURE

Here is a photo that is worth a thousand words. Don’t worry, we will be well under that today.

Your happiness. What makes you happy? Think of how many things you can rely on to put a smile on your face and joy in your heart? You noticed the word in italics? That is because there is really only one source we have control over that we can rely on to make us happy and that is ourselves.

It is true that seeing a smile on my lady’s face melts my heart and puts a smile on my own face. It is further true that I have a good deal of influence on that. If that is what I rely on solely to bring me happiness, I could be very disappointed. There are days when I do the best I can and due to situations beyond my control her smile is fleeting at best. This leaves me frustrated and sad, although determined to find a way to bring her joy.

There are other simple items that bring me joy outside of myself. I enjoy relaxing in a coffee shop enjoying a steaming beverage. Right now they are all closed here due to the Corona virus pandemic. I enjoy warm sunny days. As you read this the high temperature where I live is slightly above freezing with a possibility of snow.

Not that enjoying many things outside of yourself to increase your happiness isn’t good, it is great and we will discuss that in greater detail coming up in the next few posts. What I am recommending is that you find a few things inside of yourself that bring you joy. These should be things in which you have control over. A few examples are meditation, reading, going for a walk in nature, singing a simple song you enjoy, whistling or even just daydreaming.

These are a few of my personal happiness hacks. I would love to hear what you do that makes you happy. What internal activities bring a smile to your face? If you don’t have any, now would be a great time to come up with a solid list.