The Times, They Are ‘A Changing’

 

Are you prepared?

I’ve been thinking very deeply about Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods and what it means to the marketplace as a whole. What does is mean for those of us who have businesses or jobs? Marcus Aurelius writes:
“We have but one job, to be good people.”
While this is true, we all have another job– to meet and actually exceed the demand of the marketplace. The market is the greatest human invention ever. It is essentially voluntary cooperation between people and that is a beautiful thing. It gives us unlimited choices in entertainment, food, travel, occupation, knowledge. However, the marketplace is also highly demanding and can be very very cruel. It often has no regard for whether you have a good product or not. The market doesn’t care whether you’re too tired to make cold- calls that day. The market doesn’t care if you’re having a bad day and it takes too much energy to smile to a customer. It doesn’t care if you’ve been in business for a month or for a decade. All of us must meet the demands of the marketplace EVERY SINGLE DAY if we are to thrive. In fact, we all have one boss– and that’s the market.

The market determines the type of people we hire, the type of customers attracted to us, the types of products and services we offer, the hours of operation. As seen with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, the marketplace is changing and we all must be vigilant about keeping very high standards and delivering an incredible experience EVERY SINGLE shift, month, week, day and year. I realize sometimes people may see me as a demanding boss and fairly high strung, but the truth is I understand what it takes to make it in the marketplace today and it’s very different than 5, 10, and especially 50 years ago. During these hot summer months, (and really all months to come )the marketplace will demand even higher standards– more energy, world-class products , great marketing, energetic workforces, and obviously 10x clean facilities. In other words, both the marketplace and employers will be looking for producers- people that don’t just go the first mile, but go the extra mile, to meet the demands of the rapidly changing market. Are you going the extra mile? How has your industry changed or how will it change? Are you doing whatever it takes to thrive?

In health,

Your Life…Washed Away

Are You Clear About What You’re Doing and Why?

“And so castles made of sand, fall into the sea… eventually.”- Jimi Hendrix

Much of the cause of anxiety in the world today has to do with what I would call people building the castles of their life on sand. In other words, people feverishly work, trying to gain something, earn something, accomplish some feat or beat out a competitor, but they are doing so misguidedly, for that person doesn’t has not yet built a solid foundation or set of reasons for WHY they need to be doing what they are doing. This person is like a rat running on a wheel–without an endgame or destination. The harder the rat works, the more life is drained from it, without ever truly accomplishing anything. You may be thinking that as humans, we are different and should not be likened to a rodent. I would suggest that we are not that dissimilar. The rodent has no long-term goals. Neither do most people. They both are focused too heavily on the near term. Both of them are building a life, a castle on sand.

While the comparison to the rat running on the wheel and the average person working away without a goal may seem harsh, my point is that too many people lack the strong enough reasons to know why they are doing what they are doing. The worst part is that many know it unconsciously. Stress, anxiety, fear, depression are all rooted in the belief that “I won’t be loved unless… Or, I won’t be enough unless…” fill in the blank. Clarity is what leads us to the fulfillment of our potential and therefore a fulfilling life. Perhaps understanding this will become clear through the following examples:

-The man or woman who works all day long trying to earn a living while ignoring the family he or she has a family at home is building a castle on sand that will crumble eventually. Why does he work so hard? “So he can provide for his family, of course”, you may say. To which I would say, “And then what?” Does he have a plan to escape the rat race?   Does the family wish him to work and be away so often? Perhaps they would much prefer him being present at home. Which begs the question, if the man or woman isn’t fulfilling the wishes of his family by grinding away at the millstone, why does he keep going without an endgame in mind? Should he keep working so hard when he is at risk of losing his family? The accumulation of wealth should only be done so that more free time is afforded to you. Acquiring money for its own sake without stronger reasons behind why you doing it is the equivalent of the rat running on the wheel. Working hard is a virtue but not without knowing why you are putting in the work.

-The person who desires material riches to impress others is building a castle made of sand. Let me be clear, the desire for material possessions and financial security is not a vice, if it is done for the right reasons (a strong enough foundation). Opulence can be used as a tool if it helps remind your ego that it can live in a world of abundance rather than scarcity. It’s important to know that one doesn’t have to struggle and can in fact thrive if desired. I have many “anchors” that I use to remind me to think larger and more clearly. I have one nice car. I have some fine watches. I have a couple nice suits– all of which serve to remind me that I can accomplish whatever I desire if I do it for the right reasons. But none of those possessions serve to “impress” others. The salesman who thinks that going into debt on fine clothes and cars will make him a better salesman is dead wrong, for he is acquiring possessions for the wrong reasons. Charisma and believing in your product makes for an incredible salesperson. Flashy clothes without the other only makes one untrustworthy, for the prospect will know his reasons for selling are shallow and the salesperson does not have the best interest of others in mind.

-The desire to become famous without worthy reasons as to why will only cause a lack of tranquility and a life of anxiety. It has become nearly impossible to wake up and go through the day without seeing a news story about a celebrity who overdosed on drugs, is in rehab, engaged in some scandal or acting in some inappropriate way in view of the public. You would think such stories of distressed lives would dissuade people from trying to become famous, but in our age of television, internet and social media, more people than ever are, I dare say obsessed with becoming a celebrity. The problem, as we have seen with the other examples, is that engaging or pursuing anything without strong enough reasons as to why you are doing it will result in stress, anxiety and fear. Humans were not meant to be famous, however, we were also not meant to fly or travel under the sea. The beautiful thing about being human is we get to decide what we want to do, but I would warn that you must figure out WHY first. Being famous is not a problem is your goal is to help and inspire millions of others. The only way to do that is to be well known. In fact, I would suggest that for most businesses and people obscurity is actually the enemy. A person or business should WANT to be well known, but only because they believe they can help others. Having solid reasons for doing something will keep you from building a life made of sand.

The only way to limit the anxiety and fear in your life is to have worthwhile goals and take massive actions towards reaching those goals. I believe if people know that they are working towards their goals, they will be fulfilling their potential as humans. Without this, the subconscious mind will serve up anxiety and fear as a warning that we are wasting our lives. However, just like happiness and fulfillment, fear and anxiety can be useful tools for us to discover our flaws and redirect our efforts. I love the following quote from Rollo May:

“But attempts to evade anxiety are not only doomed to failure. In running from anxiety you lose your most precious opportunities for the emergence of yourself, and for your education as s human being.” –Rollo May
If you are experiencing anxiety and fear on a regular basis, don’t let them destroy you, but also don’t run from these emotions. Embrace them, for your subconscious mind is trying to tell you something. Use them as an opportunity to examine where in your life you may be building castles of sand. For castles made of sand will surely fall into the sea, eventually.

 

-In health

Finding Your Truth

Finding Your Truth

I’ve written previously about how so many people focus on the minor things in life and allow little, insignificant details to bog them down and derail their plans. It’s true and will always be true that humans suffer unnecessarily from the false stories we tell ourselves. Most of the problems we have persist in the mind because we assign poor meanings to the events of our lives. In other words, we tell ourselves stories that have no basis in fact, (something that can be measured objectively) but rather, our need to assign meaning to all the events in life causes us to offer up a narrative based on prior beliefs, events and values. The bottom line is that we are always telling ourselves a story. We decide what things and events mean to us with these stories. So, why not tell yourself a better story? Answer, because our brains cannot simply be rewritten like computer code. It’s much more difficult to simply delete the stories in our minds.

This is where the phrase “your truth” comes from. This is not to suggest you deliberately lie to yourself or refuse to accept actual factual events. Instead, the phrase is merely an observation that most of what is going on in your head are a bunch of stories that help you to create meaning of what is going on in your life. These stories are “your truth” because you become the story you tell yourself over and over again. If “life constantly beats you down and you have bad luck”, that story will become your truth because you’ll create meaning based around those beliefs. Moreover, you’ll look for and give extra importance to the negative events that occur which reaffirm the story you tell yourself about having bad luck. See, humans are meaning making creatures. It’s one of the most important distinguishing features between us and the rest of the animal kingdom. So, if it’s in our power to create the meaning about the events in our lives, the answer to living a less anxiety ridden life is to attempt to repeat stories that serve you rather than hinder you in your endeavors.

You. Version 2.0
While rewriting the code in your brain is not as simple or easy as installing the new Mac iOS update on your device, there are ways your can permanently change the type of stories that your brain produces. The first tool that can be employed is to develop a set of rituals every single day. I prefer to start out the day by reading or listening to something that reminds me that I’m in control of my body and the thoughts I produce and choose to listen to. I usually do this alone early in the morning before the day starts. Often, I will do this while doing morning cardio. I find that the easiest way to get out of your head, is the embrace your body and movement is the key. Emotion comes from motion and by radically changing your physiology through exercise, you may quickly find a flood of new stories poor into your mind.

With any ritual, however, it must be performed often and with concentration for it to have an effect. Therefore, the second tool is really repetition- if you tell yourself something over and over again, you’ll find it’s like accessing a file. The more you do it, the faster it loads because your processor (the brain) becomes faster at retrieving it. The body runs on neurological pathways and the more you use these pathways, the stronger they become and the faster the electrical signals can fire. The more often you tell yourself an empowering story, the faster and more available that story become for you to determine what something means. It’s all just a story anyways, so repeat one that will get you where you want to go, rather than stuck in a fixed position. Another great ritual is to journal every morning or evening. What this does is allows you to take your thoughts and get them out of your head and onto paper where you begin to detach yourself from them. It’s important to remember that you are not your thoughts, but rather the one producing them. By writing down your thoughts, it helps you to remember this very important truth.

The last tool is the permanently delete or damage any old stories that you used to tell yourself. Again, this is difficult but absolutely doable. In fact, you can do anything you set your mind to do. The key to successfully removing old stories is to associate so much pain or embarrassment with them that it causes a physical response in your body. This is like taking a knife and scratching a CD or record so that it will never play properly in your machine again. Instead, it will cause discomfort even attempting to play it. An example may be useful here, so I’ll share a story that I used to tell myself. It was simply that “people can’t be trusted and I have to do everything myself.” To rid myself of this story forever, I began to associate all the pain and loneliness I had in my life due to “going it alone.” I realized very quickly that everything great in my life was due to other people- my wife, my family, my kids, my friends. All the great memories I have are with other people. All of the money I have made has come from other people. All the roads, airplanes, elevators, I have used were built by others. All of the products I’ve used were created by other people, or at a least the raw materials were gathered by others. All of the books I’ve read were written by others. All of the joy in my life, everything that was good was because of other people. Did I have pain caused by others? Yes, but only because I was choosing to play a story in my head about how they hurt me. I could just as easily tell myself a story about how “my haters” helped me grow into the man I am now. So I did. I began to associate intense pain with being “a loner” and intense joy with building relationships with others. Now, whenever a story pops in my head about how people suck, I think about what my life would be like with no house, phones, electricity, food, books, cars, roads or music. This helps to get me thinking clearly again about how much I value relationships with other people, although I admit I am guarded about who I let into my life. But being careful and being scared or cynical are very different things. Being careful is smart. Being jaded is dangerous.

Takeaway

The takeaway here is that you can and should begin to examine what stories you tell yourself that limit you. They can be about money, life, other people, government, your own abilities- the list goes on. Then, after the limiting stories have been identified, begin to destroy the story by associating so much pain and embarrassment with the story that a new story, one that is more empowering can be played on the device known as your brain. You do get to choose the meaning behind events. You do this by choosing what to story to tell yourself about what you’re focusing on. So give yourself some new stories that will allow you to get up and take massive action towards your goals and desires. ( I prefer the word desire over goal because I think it has more power behind it. Most people give up on their goals, but those same people may give into their desires. By swapping out one word with another, or one story with another, the change on your life can be profound.) So when something happens, remember to ask yourself, “what does this mean or what story am I going to tell myself about this?” Then ask, “what am I going to do about it?” Make sure your story leads to to take action in a positive way for you and others.

In health,

Sean’s