What Really Matters

What Matters Most

What really matters in building a great life? Your individual answer will differ from others, but I believe it’s very useful to reflect on what really matters versus what does not. Not enough thought is given for reflection and meditation about the important matters of life. Moreover, so many of the negative experiences we have in life stem from focusing too much on things that do not truly matter the most. I can tell you from personal experience that when I have the most stress, I tend to be focusing on things that don’t truly matter, like what others think of me and so on. What follows is a list that I’ve compiled of things I believe are truly important versus things than are not important, but receive too much attention. This list is not complete and will likely never be, but my goal here is to provoke some thought about what really makes a good life, compared to what we think makes a good life.

Here’s What Matters:

 

What you can control

Meaningful relationships

Doing the best you can

Being resourceful

Being a good person

Reflecting on your life

Having a philosophy that serves you

Helping others where possible

Growing as a person

Contributing to something greater than yourself

Having thoughts and emotions that serve you

Fulfilling goals

Having a team of people you can rely on

Living according to your values

Finding internal strength

Taking care of your family

Finding purpose for your existence

Experiencing joy

Learning

Reading

Knowing what makes you feel good

Surrounding yourself with good people (the right people)

Having adequate financial resources

Adding value to others

 

What Doesn’t Matter:

 

Controlling others

Being powerful

Being rich

Being famous

Being liked by others

Adopting the values of others

Doing what others want of you (you’ll violate your own values)

Making others upset (it will happen because you have different values)

Being happy all the time (not possible)

Feeling upset once in a while (it’s normal)

Letting others down (you cannot control how others feel)

External events outside your control

Entertainment

Paying too much attention to emotions (They can deceive you)

Buying a House (it’s not a great investment)

Criticism from others

Staying in relationships that don’t serve you

By focusing on what really matters in life, we can avoid unnecessary stress and negative emotions. Staying focused on what matters will also steer our thinking and actions towards living a great life. How many of the things on the unimportant list are you guilty of thinking about too much? How has it impacted your life? Let me know what you think is important versus what is not by commenting below!

In health,

Sean

Business and Finance 101

Get Your Money Right!

I’ve had a large number of requests to write about business and personal finance. So many thousands of books and essays have been written on these subjects that I feel it will be difficult for me to add much more. However, I will cover a few crucial areas that I believe most businesses and households neglect when it comes to managing finances. The subject of money is often stressful, so I understand the temptation to avoid looking at your bank account and just praying that it will all be ok. Every time I get hit with a huge tax, fee, rent increase or my businesses have a lousy month for revenues I feel the stress as well. However, if it’s one thing I’ve learned, pretending it will all be okay without any strategy or action to back it up is useless. As Jim Rohn liked to say, “You can’t go in your garden and chant ‘there’s no weeds’!” The weeds will grow right up over your toes if you don’t recognize them and pull them out. So, here are the areas I think most households and businesses should pay attention to on a weekly basis:

1. Cashflows and income. It’s absolutely imperative that you track your income regularly. If you are in business, this will help you identify trends throughout the year and allow you to plan accordingly. If you get paid a paycheck once or twice a month, count that too. Make sure that you’re netting the correct amount. I can’t even tell you how many people I come across that don’t know how much was in their last paycheck. The same goes for business. Most small business people I know don’t know how much they made last month! They just keep grinding, spinning their wheels and getting nowhere! I’m asking you to keep track of the amount of money coming in on at least a weekly basis. If you only get one paycheck monthly, try to increase your streams of income so that you are getting paid multiple times a month from different sources.

2. Expenses. How much does it cost to run your business every month? How much does your family spend monthly? From my experience, the majority of people sorely underestimate their monthly expenses. Every business and individual should have a very detailed breakdown of every single category in which money was spent. Once you see how much you are actually spending, I guarantee it will be eye opening. When it’s all said and done, how much money did you have left over at the end of the month? Everything else was an expense that needs to be accounted for. If you had a little too much “month left at the end of the money” so to speak, it’s time to cut back your expenses and try to simultaneously to increase your income. If you can do both, you have discovered the fastest way to becoming financially free.

3. Know your numbers and what they mean. TRACK EVERYTHING!!!! This is the area that most businesses are neglecting. For example: what are your payroll hours as a percentage of revenues? What about rents as a percentage of revenues? What is the lifetime value of a new customer? How much new revenue does a new client produce in their first transaction? How much revenue does each billable payroll hour produce? What are the total costs per operating hour in your business? How much net revenues or expendable income are you left with at the end of the month? What is your best quarter for growth historically? How much are your COGS, or Costs of Goods Sold? You must know the answers to these questions and more if you want your business to succeed for longer than just a few years.

4. Work on your business and not in your business. If your business depends on your daily efforts to succeed, you are self-employed. You do not actually own a business. There’s nothing wrong with that either, just don’t be fooled into believing that you are an entrepreneur when you’re really working 80 hours a week and only making a few thousand a month. You may just be the lowest paid employee in your business. A true business owner spends most of his or her time reading market trends, strategizing, optimizing systems and making sure the business follows the regulatory and tax requirements. If the owner is not present, the business should still function well. The owner simply works to optimize the profits and expansion of the company and then decides how best to spend or reinvest the profits.

5. For households, follow the 70-10-10-10 RULE. When you determine your monthly profits or wages, never spend more than 70% of the money you earn. This includes all expenses like housing, cars, insurance, food and entertainment. 10% of your left over money should go to active capital, or starting your own business, which will produce additional monthly income. 10% of your income should go passive capital, or an investment run by others that will produce monthly passive income. The last 10% should go to charity or helping others that you care about. I strongly believe in this last one because the secret to living is truly giving. Helping others succeed will result in you doing even better. What goes around comes around and when you help others, you will reap the benefits. (If your monthly expenses are taking up more than 70% of your income currently, work immediately to reduce your expenses and increase your income. Eventually, as your income increases greatly, your expenses may only by 50%, leaving you with more to invest in businesses and spend more on helping others.

6. Know how much it costs to acquire a new customer. Track your marketing ROI, or Return on Investment. Many companies with advertising budgets are not properly tracking the lifetime value of a client, the efficacy of their marketing, or the total cost that goes into acquiring a new customer. I have made this mistake many times. I’ve spent hundreds of thousand on marketing without calculating my exact return from the ads. My new rule is that if I spend one dollar in advertising, it must produce more than a dollar in revenue in the first month. Other companies use a longer time frame as their metric depending on what they sell, but this rule has helping me control my marketing costs significantly. I also focus as much as possible on direct marketing so I can track who is engaging with an advertisement and then I can subsequently track what marketing pieces led to new clients. Another cost associated with new customer acquisition is the payroll hours it takes to call prospects and past clients, and the creation of media (such as signage inside and outside the business), etc. Just be sure to track all costs associated with new customer acquisition. As a general rule, the companies that can afford to spend the most to acquire a new customer and then have that customer produce higher than market average revenues for the business will win!

7. Love the business you are in, but fall in love with the customers more. Business is hard, so it helps greatly if you are passionate about the business you are in. I love health and fitness and bodybuilding, so this is easy for me. But I’ve learned that companies do best obsess over their customers, rather than the products or services they produce. Customers are the ones who pay all the bills at the end of the day. They are the real bosses. Every one needs to feel special or significant, so if a company can solve a problem with their products while making the customer feel special, they will do better than companies who do not.

8. Know the difference between good and bad debt. We live in a debtor nation. The country itself has a 20 trillion dollar federal debt and household debt is at record levels. Debt cycles are the reason for booms and busts in economies and a business or family that takes on too much debt will face significant financial hardships. However, there is a difference between consumer debt and business debt. The latter is a type of debt that produces income and is paid for by others. For instance, if I take out a mortgage to buy and apartment complex that produces cashflow, the tenants are paying for that debt. I am using the debt to create profit. This is called leverage and can be a good thing if used wisely. Consumer debt on the other hand is debt that is paid by the debtor. This includes home mortgages, student loans and auto loans as well as most credit card debt that we are familiar with. Do not let debt sink you or your business!!!! Go back to the 70-10-10-10 rule and see how much of your monthly expenses are debt service, or paying back money you’ve already spent.

There are so many more business lessons, but I think these eight rules are a great start for any business owner or head of the household. I’m hoping any of these tips will lead to financial abundance for you and your family for many years to come.

In health and riches,

Sean

Winning Matters

In our culture, there is far too much emphasis placed on the virtue of failure. Sure, failure can be valuable if you can ascertain the exact reason for failure and learn from it, but the truth is that we don’t always know why we fail and there are often many causes for failure. Sometimes it is impossible to determine exactly all the reasons why we failed. If you believe you failed because of X, but in reality, you have failed because of X, Y and Z, you will not have truly learned anything and the failure will be a tragedy. That’s what I believe every failure really is–a minor tragedy that should be avoided if possible. Furthermore, I think the biggest cause of failure is not doing the very best we can at the tasks we are charged with. In other words, not performing your very best at whatever job you have is the biggest cause of failure, disappointment and unhappiness.

Many claim they have lousy jobs that don’t deserve their highest level of effort. So what? If you have a lousy job, do the very best you can at it. That is your fastest way to get out of the job and into a better position. The disease that pervades every single business is the mindset that “What I do doesn’t really matter, so I’m not going to try.” This type of thinking leads to an unhappy workplace because it is so contagious. I have been guilty of it myself. It leads to a destruction of the culture and a slowdown of progress in the business as well as a slowdown in personal growth of the employees of the business. Of course what you do matters! Otherwise, there would be no reason for your job to exist. If you are unhappy with what the job has become, try doing even better at it and see what happens to your level of happiness. I strongly believe that mastery leads to happiness. If you do something well, anything at all, your level of pride and confidence will increase and will result in being happier than if you were to do poorly or not try at all. We all have an innate desire to do well at something in life.

Of course this all seems basic, but the basics are worth repeating. The number one reason to do well is because it leads to happiness. If you do well in a sport, on a test or at work, you’ll likely be much happier than if you do poorly. This happiness, just like sadness or negativity, is also contagious. Energy flows to whatever you focus on, and those around you will emulate your mental attitude and how you carry yourself. This is another, and perhaps the most important, reason to do well–it will lead to a happier workplace. Winning (doing well) is important. People want to be a part of a winning team. The best players in the world want to be around other great players. Winners are attracted to success. Failures are attracted to more failure, because they don’t have to try as hard. They are off the hook from responsibility. Failure is the easy road and it becomes addictive. In fact, both success and failure is addictive, but it’s better to be addicted to success so that you are trying constantly to do well and grow.

There is a term, “feed the beast.” It means, essentially, that you should focus on what you are exceptional at doing so your level of happiness and confidence is high, while you work on correcting areas where you are lacking. Whenever you are feeling down, “feed the beast.” Remember what you’re good at to get the confidence and vitality you need to succeed back into your life. A simple shift of focus–to working hard instead of taking it easy, to things that you are great at instead of what you are lousy at, to what makes you feel incredible instead of what makes you sad–will lead to incredible results. Winning (which is doing the very best you can) is important. The first step to winning is action. Taking action by doing the very best you can will not only lead to eventual success, it will create happiness in yourself and the workplace. Do well, and those around you will also start to do well. Hard work is infectious, as long as it is part of the expectation and the culture of the workplace. So, find a place where people like to work hard and then begin to do the very best to master the job. Mastery leads to happiness and fulfillment.

In health,

Sean

A Warning

How the Economy Works

Americans are not taught enough at young age about how money and the economy works. It’s an uncomfortable subject and most believe it’s impolite to talk about money. So, we go on through life not fully understanding the subject of finance or how succeed in accumulating wealth. Most of what I know, I had to learn through trial and error as well as reading about how ultra wealthy people think and act. Unfortunately, despite volumes of literature having been written about the subject, most people consider economics a boring and complicated issue that should be left to the experts. I feel the need to dispel some myths about economics so a better understanding can be reached about where we stand economically today.

Myth 1. The economy is complicated. This is false. An economy is simply the sum total of all the transactions that take place in a given market. Everything can be boiled down the basics, the broad economy is nothing more than individuals trading goods and services for something they deem more valuable than what they are trading. If people are spending less, the economy slows. If people spend more, it expands.

Myth 2. Savings doesn’t matter. We are told to save money at a young age, but if you look at the pundits on television talk about the health of the economy, rarely do they refer to how much a family has stashed away for savings. Instead, they talk about consumer spending. Now, spending is an important indicator of economic health, but so is savings because savings is a measure or future investment and spending. If you are saving your money, it’s because you intend to spend it at a future date for something you need at that time. If you are not saving, you are limiting your ability to spend money in the future, instead opting to spend it now. Savings is one factor that leads to the creation of new capital investments and businesses. If the savings rate is low, this is an indicator the future business creation may slow.

Myth 3. All debt is bad. This is wrong and it keeps people from thinking and expanding in a big way. Most big companies use leverage, (debt) as a way to expand business and income. There are two types of debt, consumer and business. Consumer debt can be bad because generally we are using it to buy goods and services that do not produce future income. Business debt can be good if it is used to produce future income.

Myth 4. People spend based on how much money they have. This is wrong. The ability to spend and the total economy is based on two things; income and the credit (debt). You can buy things with cash, or with credit, which is a future promise that you will pay. The biggest indicator is how people will spend is based on their available credit. Unfortunately, people buy things based on what they believe their future income will be, not what they make now. So, they use credit to buy things that don’t produce income. Eventually when the bills come due, if their income has not gone up enough to cover the new debt plus interest, the person has to default on their credit payments. The company that holds the debt must now take a loss of income and subsequently reduce the amount of credit to consumers. If this happens on a large scale with many people, the reduction of credit will lead to less available purchasing power and less transactions in the economy. Less transactions leads to a slow down in the economy, job losses because companies are selling less and often a reduction in pricing of products.

Myth 5. Wealth is money. False. Wealth is an increase in production and output. If you have a farm and are able to collect twice as much crop as the year prior, you have increased your wealth. People think that the government can just print money to take care of all debt and economic problems. If this were true, we could just all quit our jobs and have the government give us money. Obviously, this cannot happen or basic services necessary to living would never get accomplished. Moreover, an increase in the money supply, if credit levels are still high, without a corresponding increase in the production of goods can lead to an inflation in pricing. In other words, the ability of your money to buy products and services is reduced as more money enters the economy.

Where We Stand Today

At the time of this writing, household debt and government debt has reached record levels. (1.06 trillion for consumer credit card debt, 1.5 trillion in student loans and a total of 18 trillion if we include personal mortgage debt). Government debt has also reached a record 20.6 trillion largely due to unfunded liabilities such as pensions, MediCare and Social Security. The average cash savings of the typical American family is less than $1000 dollar. Nearly 40 percent of families have no cash savings at all, meaning the ability for these families to make future purchases is significantly reduced unless their income expands greatly. Already, auto loan defaults, student loan defaults and credit card defaults are on the high and expected to reach higher levels. In my own businesses, I have seen more credit card declines every month. We have a serious debt problem happening right at the same time the stock market is at an all time high.

What It Means

The American consumer is tapped out as far as their available credit. This likely means that despite all time record level stock prices (which have very little to do with the real economy for most people) their ability to make future purchases will decline, leading to a slowing economy. Of course, no one can predict the future, but if the numbers are any indication, we are at the peak of the debt cycle and what follows will likely be more defaulting on debts and subsequently job loss and a retraction for many businesses. Be warned. Invest in yourself, your skills, your health and save the rest of your money so you can capitalize on lower prices during a downturn. Remember, people always sell things for less when they believe times are bad.

Sorry for the negative note. I’m just trying to be clear on what I see happening so I can help you and your family thrive! If you want a great YouTube video on some of these concepts, look up Ray Dalio’s video on “How The Economic Machine Works.” I promise you’ll learn something.

Yes, It’s Hard!

Yes, It’s Hard.

Sometimes it serves us to admit that certain things are just plain hard. It does us no good to dwell on that fact, but facing reality is important. Without a doubt, life is much easier than it used to be for our ancestors. Almost everyone on the planet now has access to water, food shelter, even technology like radio, television and the internet. This was not always the case. The simplest luxuries today like refrigeration and air conditioning were not available to even to richest people just 150 years ago. Still, as humans we adapt to our environment and become habituated to the world around us. It’s easy to forget how much better the standard of living is today than any other point in history because most people born after the 1990’s don’t know any different. The struggle to survive raise a family with food and shelter has been replaced with more modern struggles. Namely, these are struggles of the marketplace. While the marketplace has raised up even the poorest nations through mass dissemination of products, technology and information, a host of stressors has pervaded our culture as we find a way to make a living and try to dent the universe with our existence.

In a crowded global marketplace where incredibly large businesses dominate and make it difficult to thrive let alone succeed for employees and entrepreneurs, a stress of doing well can lead to tremendous uncertainty and anxiety. The purpose of life used to not be that complicated- you are born, you have to work to survive doing a certain craft or skill, (usually whatever trade your parents did like farming, masonry, etc.), you marry, have children, start a household of your own, and hopefully leave some wealth and real estate to pass on to your heirs when you die. Questions like, “Who am I becoming in this job?”, “Why am I on this planet?”, “Does this job have medical benefits?”, “How do I expand my market share?”, “What companies should I invest in to give me income later in life?”, “What major should I pursue in college?”, “What should I study to make more money and have a happy life?”- these questions were not usually applicable. Today, however, they pervade our very existence. We think about these questions so much because we are so unsure about what our purpose is.

While the marketplace has done so much for humanity, not the least of which allowing seemingly endless opportunities for people to amass wealth, we see examples of wealth and power and wonder whether we are on the right track ourselves. Statistics from the Bureau of Labor show that most Americans stay at job for an average of 4.6 years. This is actually slightly longer than it was in 1983, but much less than it has been in previous generations. The days of staying in a career for 20-30 years and then retiring with a pension are largely over. I believe this uncertainty in the job market has led to a high level of anxiety and uncertainty. Although the marketplace has led to vast choices for consumers and producers, the need for certainty can outweigh the benefit of having multiple choices.

We are, at the same time, presented with unlimited choices and overwhelming uncertainty about where our talents are best suited. The fear that we may be wasting our talents has led to job hopping as well as record numbers of workers consuming opioids and antidepressants. While this type of anxiety is not rooted in actual survival, (most of us know where our next meal is coming from and that we will have a roof over our head), it is still very real. It is, in fact, difficult to know how to succeed and be fulfilled in the modern world. Some things are just plain hard, regardless of how well humanity has it today. It’s hard to know how to choose a job or college major. It’s hard to know exactly why we are here and what our purpose is. It’s hard to know how to invest for the future. It’s hard to hire the right person. It’s hard to choose a career only to find out you are not fulfilled. It’s hard to pay bills every month and then look at your bank balance afterwards and worry about having too much month left for the money that’s left. It’s hard to make a living doing something that you’re passionate about, but it doesn’t pay well. It’s hard to wade through the endless information thrown at us everyday and decipher exactly what it means and what to do. It’s hard to anticipate how consumers will react and how markets will behave. It’s hard to competition-proof your company so your bottom line isn’t affect by others. It’s hard to deal with customer complaints. It’s hard to wait in line at a restaurant when you’re hungry or the DMV when you need a license. It’s hard to know what information and technology you all your children to consume. It’s hard to teach your kids how to survive in a marketplace that is always changing. IT’S HARD. It is. However, at the end of the day, I’d rather deal with all these hard things than go back where humanity used to be. I much prefer the benefits and anxieties of modern society than 200 years ago. I love my internet, refrigerator, car, air conditioning and the supermarket too much. I’m willing to adapt to an ever-changing business climate and deal with all the hard things associated with it. How about you?
Keep grinding,
Sean

The Magic Formula

There is one concept, one idea available to anyone that almost guarantees someone to achieve what they want in life. It sounds ridiculous. It sounds impossible. It sounds like a scam or get rich quick scheme, but countless men and women have used this formula knowingly or unknowingly to achieve incredible success. This concept is the very basis of almost every self-improvement book and so much has been written about this topic that I hardly feel I have anything to add to the discussion. I will however, for the sake of those who have not come across this idea, present a brief overview of the Master Key system. It is simply this: Be, Do, Have. Just three words can, if you act upon them, transform your life forever. Here’s how:

BE-

If you want to become a certain person, whatever it is: a nice person, a rich person, a smarter person, or a bodybuilder, you must first believe you already are that person. Possession begins in the mind. You must state over and over again that you are rich, nice, strong, whatever it is because your mind must believe that you are capable of being that type of person. Saying, “I hope I’m rich one day” will do nothing. Instead, “I am a rich person.” This has nothing to do with deluding yourself or tricking your brain. It has everything to do with convincing yourself that you are capable of being such a person so that…

DO-

Once you’ve established what kind of person you want to be, and the mind believes it, you can now do what that type of person would do. If you wish to be rich, think about what a rich person would do. How do they act to acquire wealth? What investments or careers do they have? Now you can see that first you have to figure out what you want to be, and then you will realize what to do which will lead you to…

HAVE-

Once you have decided who you are and what actions to take, now you may begin to have what you want. You cannot have what you desire until you take the correct action to acquire it, and that cannot be done until you decide what type of person you want to be. If you act first without establishing who you want to BE, you may find yourself toiling away at the same jobs for years or even decades without ever achieving your desires.

I cannot stress enough how important the order of this formula is. Thinking about and deciding upon the person you want to be is vital. That will give you the answer as to what actions to take so that you may have whatever you like. Let’s say you start out by saying you want big muscles. Okay fine. That doesn’t tell us anything about what you need to do or who exactly you want to become. “I am a bodybuilder,” you say. Very good. What does a bodybuilder do everyday? See, now you have an action plan, a set of habits and behaviors to follow that will lead to you becoming a bodybuilder. After that, you will have big muscles. What about money? “I want money!” you say. Fine—go rob a bank! They have money. See, this is why you must first decide what you want to be. If you’re a bank robber, you may have money but not for long. If you decide to be an entrepreneur or investor, on the other hand, you will now have a roadmap to follow so that you can achieve financial wealth and help others along the way.

So there it is. The Master Key to getting anything you want. Believe it or disregard it, the choice is yours. All I’m trying to do is present it to you here. It has worked for me, but let me warn you, we live in a universe where sometimes the best don’t win, tragedy befalls good people, and a hailstorm can wipe out your entire crop. That’s just the way things are. So, I would remind you that in order to truly BE anyone, you must also have perseverance and the desire to keep pressing on until you are who you want to be and have what you want to have. Most don’t. Most people quit after a few defeats. BE. DO. HAVE. And remember to keep moving forward until you actually are the person you want to be. At that point, you won’t need to remind yourself who you are and you won’t have to tell other people. Your actions and all you’ve achieved will speak volumes.

Thoughts Are Not Enough

THE PROBLEM WITH POSITIVE THINKING

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith“ – The Book of Timothy.

Being both an athlete and an owner of a somewhat large business in the fitness industry, I have noticed much more talk about the Law of Attraction and positive thinking as it relates to fitness and sports. Of course, these concepts are nothing new, but they seem to have found new life in social media circles as of late. I’m happy to see that there is an increased focus on the power of thought and philosophy as it relates to physical performance and health. I do, however, become a little concerned when I see so many people post about thinking positive without talking about the other major factor in achievement and health, WORK. Thoughts alone are not enough. You still have to do the work to succeed. Positive thinking without hard work is delusion. It’s the same as walking into a garden and chanting, “There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds.” Guess what? There probably is weeds and they will take over the whole garden without working to rip them out.

In fact, not only does it take work, it takes massive action to achieve your desires and make sure the garden of your life is beautiful. What does that mean? It means that it usually takes even more work than you think it’s going to initially. So be prepared for that. Not only do you have to think positively that you can do something, you must be ready to work as if your life depends on it. I believe like the quote says, much of life is a battle. We all must battle everyday against the negative thoughts we have. We must battle against the obstacles that stand in the way of our goals. We must battle against darkness in the world by becoming a beacon of light. But a battle takes work. Thinking you can win is not enough. You must begin the race by doing the work of taking the first step and then having the belief you can finish, and then following up to make sure you do. Optimism itself will not do. Positive thinking must lead you to take action for it to be useful.

The last key to making sure win the battle is keeping the faith in yourself and others. What good is it to fight for what you want if you let the fight change you into something you are not proud of? Look all around and you’ll find people who have been jaded and disillusioned because of their struggles in life. This is where positive thinking comes back into play. It takes both hard work and positive thinking, especially while the work is being done. Hard work has the potential to change us into worse versions of ourselves unless we have faith the work is worth it in the long run.

So remember, believe you can succeed, fight the fight to make success a reality and always keep faith in yourself and others that you can persevere and the struggle will be worth it. Remember too that few things worth having ever come easy. Positive thinking alone may only lead to disappointment without applying the massive action needed towards achieving your goals.

Is Pain Controlling Your Life?

The Real Problem With Pain

This blog began as a way for me to discuss how to find freedom and happiness despite having adversity and struggles in life. My thought was that even though everyone encounters pain in their life, not everyone realizes that others share in similar experiences. We are all on the same journey in life because we have been programmed genetically as humans to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Of course, no one can completely avoid pain and often times we mistake discomfort for pain and addiction for pleasure. Therein lies the real problem with both pleasure and pain- it blinds us to reality in the moment.

Pain is especially insidious in its ability to distort clear thinking. When we experience pain, depending on the severity, we will look for and do almost anything to stop the pain. That’s not the problem. The problem is that pain itself is a symptom of something else and it’s often the case that while experiencing pain, we cannot correctly identify the source of the pain. You may have a chronic shoulder or hip pain and blame it on a past injury or the fact that you have been sitting too long during your workdays. However, the real problem underlying the pain could be that your movement patterns during physical exercise are causing stress on the joints and therefore muscular imbalances. Again, it’s exceedingly difficult to diagnose the cause of pain unless the pain has subsided to the point where we can engage in clear thinking again. Then, once the pain is gone, we often forget to research the cause of the pain, or we just get distracted by our daily lives the the endless cycle of pain continues.

Another common experience among people in pain is they find that their ability to be patient and empathetic towards others declines rapidly. We forget that pain is not unique to our human experience, but something shared by all. The worst is when people have arguments over who has more pain! Have you ever seen this? It’s like a competition for who has the most ailments and who has the most difficult life. It’s as if the need for significance compels us to bring up everything wrong in our lives with others.

It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever, especially pain. No one should believe that because they are in pain, they will always be. Moreover, the pain you are experiencing may or may not have been caused by something you have done. It’s impossible to know for sure because the pain is keeping your from thinking accurately. Trying to diagnose the correct cause of the pain during the suffering of the pain is not the best course of action. Neither is it wise to engage in important conversations (especially with loved ones), business transactions or making important life decisions. Take it from someone with chronic pain, nearly every argument, blow up in temper, terrible decision or major mistake I have made is because my thinking has been obfuscated by physical or emotional pain. It would have done me well to acknowledge that I was in pain and was not thinking clearly before I took any action.

As human beings we can never escape our biological impulses to avoid pain and seek pleasure. However, we can as humans employ our ability to use reason in spite of the pain. All of us should acknowledge and accept that when we are in pain we are not thinking clearly. How do you know if you are thinking clearly? See( https://libertyandpain.com/2016/04/21/thinking-clearly/.) If we are not mindful that we are in pain, we will do something that leads to regret later on. I know, I know…. EASIER SAID THAN DONE, RIGHT? Nothing worth doing is easy. It’s worth at least reminding ourselves that we need to do the hard work when it comes to thinking clearly and acknowledge when we are being controlled by our pain.

 

In Health,

Sean

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,

25 Things I Wish I Knew in High School

I don’t have any regrets in life. I would not go back in time and change anything for fear that it would alter my current reality. I like to think that I drive through life looking mostly out the windshield rather than just using the rear-view mirrors. That said, there are some things I have learned in my life that I wish I had known in high school. Having known these things, I believe, would not have necessarily changed my path through life, but rather allowed me to deal with circumstances with more calm and poise than I have in the past. So here we go… 25 Things I Wish I Knew in High School.

1. You become what you think about most of the time. So monitor your thoughts.
2. The only thing you can control is yourself and your choices, not others.
3. Your friends may not necessarily share you values, so be willing to make new ones.
4. Know that you are not thinking clearly unless your thoughts will lead to a positive outcome for you and you loved ones.
5. Building disciplines now will lead to a life of freedom.
6. The pain of a breakup will not last forever, although you think it will.
7. You family wants you to do well, but may not understand what drives you. Show them by communicating clearly what you are doing and why.
8. Don’t think local. Think global.
9. Be careful whom you take advice from.
10. Seek out mentors rather than jobs.
11. Training your body now will help you for the rest of your life.
12. Alcohol, weed and cigarettes can destroy self-discipline, so be mindful of these substances.
13. Start to build multiple flows of income.
14. Do not go out and “get a job.” Instead, learn how to live and get financial independence.
15. Start developing a philosophy for how to live now! Hard times will come. You will need a philosophy of how to deal with them.
16. Everyone has value. Don’t disregard or underestimate someone. They may become your friend or you may do business with them years later.
17. The highest ideal is individual liberty. Don’t forget that, but don’t waste time lecturing others about it.
18. Never say, “I can’t afford that.” Instead, “How can I afford that?”
19. Be humble but confident. Don’t let your ego control you.
20. Believe you can do anything you set your mind to do, and never, ever let anyone tell you can’t.
21. There is nothing you can’t do if you take enough actions and educate yourself on the right strategy.
22. Don’t operate from a place of scarcity. Your biography is not your destiny.
23. If you want something, give it away first. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want love, give love. If you want recognition, give it first. If you want happiness, be grateful.
24. Sometimes the girl sitting next to you in math class will become the love of your life, your soul mate, your queen. So treat her better all the time.
25. The best revenge is massive success. The best revenge is to “not be like them.”

There you go. These are 25 things I wish I would have known in high school that I know now. Had I know these things would my life be different today? It’s impossible to tell. I will say this: while I can’t go back in time and teach my younger self these lessons, I’m eternally grateful that I have discovered them now. I guess the one thing time affects for all of us is perspective, if you allow it to. Time has given me incredible perspective and I don’t take that lightly. I’m curious, what would you teach your younger self?