FOCUS. DISTRACTION. PURPOSE.

As I write this blog post, it’s 5:20 am and I’m sitting here on a cruise ship, waiting for the gym to open. This is a My Little Pony themed ship mind you….it’s for my kids and during the day I’m surrounded by people with their families, friends and loved ones. It’s a beautiful sight for the most part. However, being a cruise, there are, of course copious amounts of alcohol being consumed and right smack dab in the middle of the ship is a Casino, for those who haven’t quite figured out how to waste ALL of their money yet. Don’t get me wrong, the beauty of the cruise far outweighs the negative images of drunk gamblers, but it’s fairly clear to see that many of these folks are drowning their desperation in alcohol, excess food and gambling. I can see this because they don’t even look happy while eating and drinking. This is normal for them. This cruise may be an attempt to escape their everyday life, but as the saying goes, “wherever you go, there you are.”

This leads me to a few concepts that I have come across on the nature of fulfillment and success that have stuck with me over the years. Success is fairly easy because it leaves clues. Millionaires and billionaires are common today. Their blueprints are there for anyone to look at should they wish to. What is less common is someone who is truly happy and walks around with a sense of fulfillment. Just look how many rich people consume drugs and alcohol to numb themselves from the problems of life that money cannot fix. The issue I think comes down to focus. The word focus, has been on my mind as of late. Over the last seven months I’ve become more focused- laser focused even, on achieving certain things in my life. But I have also tried to pay attention to exactly what I am focussing on, or what the story is that I’m telling myself about what is happening. Energy flows where focus goes. When I decided that I was focused on returning to the bodybuilding stage, I had to make sure I was focusing on the right things, the right people and the right lessons to achieve what I wanted. I had to sacrifice the distractions in my life. I stopped drinking completely. I gave up trying to help certain people because I was allowing my energy to be sucked away. My focus became a set of disciplines and that became strength. Mostly, I had to analyze what I was focusing on and whether or not I was focusing on my problems or my outcomes.

BE OUTCOME FOCUSED

I believe firmly that whatever you focus on you find. If you’re looking for problems with someone, you will find them. I also believe that most people focus on the things they DO NOT WANT rather than what their desired outcome is. If you are a problem focused individual, this may be a good example of the conversations in your head; “There’s never enough money. See, people can’t be trusted! I have to do everything myself. I never get what I want because I’m not special. I’ll never be rich. I can’t overcome this problem. I’ll never find someone to love. I deserve to be alone.” When these thoughts are running through your head, it’s important to remember that you are focussing on your problems rather than what you really want. I realize it’s easy to focus on the problems because life seems to be a series of obstacles that stand in the way of what we want. However, if that’s true, it would be just as easy to see problems as normal and not things that need to dominate your mind space.

IMPORTANCE OF FOCUS
When thinking about how important focus truly is, it would serve us well to remember that energy, if focused can do seemingly impossible things. A simple ray of light from the sun, if focused through a shot glass can produce extreme heat and fire. Think about this when looking to set fire to an endeavor in your life. Likewise, some of the best investors and businessmen in the world offer similar advice; the best investment you can make is to focus on on thing you’re good at, and put all your effort into that one thing. “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket”, as Andrew Carnegie put it. Diversification is often overrated. Focus is more effective. Nothing is as powerful as concentrated human effort.

ELIMINATING DISTRACTION
As important as focussed effort is, it cannot occur without first identifying your purpose and desires and then subsequently eliminating all distractions that do not fall in line with achieving that purpose. A burning desire is fine, but if you are distracted by television, social media, gossip, the news, family that doesn’t support you, friends that are toxic…whatever the distraction is it must be eliminated. That sounds harsh, but I stand by those words. Focus and distraction cannot co-exist. My distractions were the news, drinking, eating out too often and finding fault with things and people that I had no control over. Refining my philosophy helped eliminate the distractions in my life.

So the steps here are: 1. Identify your chief desire or purpose in life.
2. Get so focussed on achieving that desire that the people you need in your life will be attracted to you and help you achieve it. (The point is not that you have to go the road alone, but rather the RIGHT PEOPLE will come into your life when you are focussed.)

PIG- HEADED DETERMINATION

One of the concepts that stuck with me from a great book, The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes was that of Pig Headed determination. What he is really talking about is perseverance at all costs, but he highlights that others will see you as pig-headed when you set out on your journey. And….that’s okay! That’s what it takes sometimes to get what you really want. Note: this does not give anyone permission to be mean or violate the rights of others. Pig-headed determination simply implies that nothing or no one will deter you from arriving at your destination in life. No one can truly be successful without others, so being pig- headed does not in anyway imply that you should be abrasive or rude, rather it suggests never being distracted while finding harmony with others and working together to achieve your burning desire.

PURPOSE

This is the hardest concept for most people to nail down. The Stoics believe that our purpose is to live in accordance with nature. They also believed that our primary job as humans is to be “good people.” I agree with the latter more than the former. As humans, we have always defied nature. Although I understand that by referencing nature, the Stoics are suggesting that we don’t waste time on things outside our control– nature. While this is true, I would suggest that too many philosophies have taken nature to mean that we shouldn’t try to alter our environment and change our external circumstances. I couldn’t disagree more. Humans were never intended to fly, yet millions do in airplanes daily. The human desire to achieve more and defy nature and genetics is what makes us human. We get to choose. We don’t have to follow nature. If it’s cold, we don’t have to fly south. We can wear a coat and turn on the heater.

So the idea of purpose really comes down to answering three questions in my opinion:
What can you do exceptionally well, if not be among the best in the world at?
How can your work help others so that more may prosper from your existence in the world? (Fulfillment)
How much value can you offer others and how much do you demand from the marketplace for your services?
Once you have answered these questions, you have found your purpose. And here’s the thing; although your work may change throughout your life, the truth is your purpose is to do the work at hand the best you possibly can. That’s all. It’s not complicated. Do the work the best you can. If the work doesn’t suit you, change it. But, don’t blame the work for your lack of effort. If your job is to sweep the floor, do it the best you can. That’s your purpose in the moment.

I hope this helps anyone looking to hone in on an endeavor in life. My goal in writing all articles is as much to help others as to remind myself of truths I have discovered in my own life. In other words, I write to remind myself of my own advice as much as any other reason. So, in closing please remember.
-Focus on what your want and keep your mind off of what you don’t want.
-Identify and eliminate all distractions that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It may help to make a DO NOT DO list. Like, do not watch TV after 9pm, do not eat sugar….whatever you know is harming you.
-Ask questions to discover your purpose so that you may align yourself with a plan to achieve your desire.
-Never forget that the ultimate goal is to always grow and then give beyond yourself because fulfillment comes from growth and giving.

In health,

Sean

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Superhero Abilities

As an employer, investor, husband and father I’ve had enough experience in life and business to recognize there are certain traits that people possess which pretty much ensures success in whatever they do. Admittedly, there are other desirable traits and certainly most people do not possess every single trait I’m about to list. However, in my dealings with other business owners, athletes, investors, employees, coaches, you name it—just about every successful person has some of the following traits that allow them to achieve their desires. I’m going to refer to this list as Superhero Abilities. Please keep in mind that these abilities are in reach of everyone, not just the heroes of the screen and comics. So let’s begin…

Courage–I believe that courage is the most important trait that anyone can possess. Without courage, no other trait or ability matters. One must have the courage to begin a journey before he or she can employ any other abilities. Fear is what stops most people from achievements and fulfillment. Courage is what allows us to overcome fear and move forward despite the fear. I have found that courage can be developed through repeated action, and your successes will add to your courage. If you find yourself anxious or afraid, keep moving forward and focus on your achievements, not your failures. Courage is something we all possess, like muscles. Maybe it’s time to exercise it.

Faith—The capacity for faith, to see what is not there yet but what could be, is something that most children have. Yet, it seems to be beaten out of us as we get older. I think creativity is really just a form of faith. The creative person imagines what could be, and perhaps what should be instead of the status quo. This is really just another way of saying we believe in something that doesn’t exist yet or we just can’t see. That’s what faith truly is. We are all born with faith, but the best place to start building faith is in ourselves. We must believe in our own abilities, even though we may not see them yet.

Problem Solving Abilities—Life is a series of events which we interpret through our lens, or “blueprint” of how life should be. We all have expectations of how life should be and when life doesn’t equal those expectations, we get pain. When life goes the way we think it should, we get pleasure or happiness. What most of us realize very early in life, however, is life is filled with obstacles, incidents, and environments that we must figure out a solution for because what is happening in our lives is not something we necessarily like. Therefore, people in all occupations should become incredible problem solvers. The ability to solve problems not only brings personal fulfillment, it is also one of the most desirable traits that employers and partners look for in business. If you want to be highly sought after, become a great problem solver.

Reason—The ancient Greeks spoke of reason as the one tool that humans have over other animals. What is reason? As humans, we have the ability to examine our own thoughts, emotions and actions and decide whether what we are thinking, feeling or doing is serving us in our lives. While we cannot control what thoughts creep into our mind, we should all develop our ability to use reason as to how we will act in response to these thoughts. The ability to reason is what gives us power over ourselves. Humans are not subject to animal instinct if we use reason.

Negotiation—Much of our experience in life comes down to how we interact and engage with other people. I think that life is a fine balance of delivering value to others so that you can get what you want as well. Therefore, all of our interactions with others is a negotiation of sorts. We are always negotiating how we will spend our time, where we will go, what we want in return for our labor or investment. We are even in negotiation when we are trying to decide what to talk about with others. Indeed, the ability to negotiate is a very powerful ability. I strongly suggest you exercise your ability to negotiate. I think you will find it will serve you well.

Persistence—The ability to keep going, to get up after falling down, to keep on keeping on is an ability that cannot be overstated when talking about a successful life. As I have already pointed out, life will no doubt deal you a series of problems. Until you figure out how to solve them, the ability to persist is what will drive you forward toward your goals. It has been said that Thomas Edison tried and failed over 10,000 times before he succeeded in creating the electric light bulb. Without his persistence, and the persistence of other great people throughout history, where would we be today? Without persistence, where will you be?

Compassion—Seeing life from another human’s perspective is a vital skill to have in life. I believe we owe to it each other as humans to develop compassion for the human condition. This condition is one of nature, and nature is not always kind to living beings, just as living beings are not always kind to one another. Kindness and cooperation is how our species thrives. Without compassion for others, true cooperation is not possible. This is especially true in relationships. Develop a capacity for compassion and watch your life transform as you begin to focus on how to deliver value and kindness to others. If you can do this, I promise the rewards will come back to you in orders of magnitude.

Curiosity—In order to unlock the secrets of the universe we must be curious. Great inventors, scientists, and philosophers all have one thing in common—curiosity. They are all curious to find out “why”? Why does something work the way it does? Why does someone act the way they do? Those who ask “why” have begun the process of discovery. I think the “meaning of life” itself is to discover what we are capable of, what the universe is comprised of, how we can help others, how we can overcome obstacles. All of these discoveries start with curiosity. All learning comes from curiosity.

Hunger–What separates the truly great from the average? It can be summed up in one word: hunger. Those who truly excel in anything have one trait that others do not, the hunger to do better and become better. It’s really that simple. Hunger demands that we keep looking to find food. But the truly great don’t stop when they find the food. They stay hungry. They don’t settle. The never stop trying to become better. Hunger keeps the lion moving and taking action. Humans are not much different in this regard.

Discipline—This ability must be learned and developed if any of the other abilities mentioned are going to be utilized. The lack of self-discipline is the leading cause of failure in any endeavor. As the great philosopher Epictetus stated, “No man is free who is not master of himself.” Indeed you must become the master of yourself, your body and mind if you are going to be truly free. Therefore, discipline = freedom. By becoming the master of ourselves, we allow ourselves to develop these Superhero abilities.

Do you possess any of the above abilities? You may just be a superhero and not know it yet. Are there a few that you must have not discovered inside yourself yet? With a little patience, discipline and training, you can develop these abilities that will allow you to thrive. There’s only one thing left… what will your Superhero name be?

In health,

Sean

10 Statements For Your Success

Want to be the best you can be? Print out these 10 Success Statements and look at them daily to remind you of how great you are and can be.

  1. Do what you fear most and you will thrive and grow. Discomfort is how we grow.
  2. You are capable of more than you think you are.
  3. There are only 4 levels of action: retreat, staying still, normal action and massive action. Move forward whenever possible to advance yourself.
  4. Progress equals happiness–to be happy you must be progressing forward.
  5. The best return on investment you can do with your time in the gym is to lift weights and lift intense.
  6. Fear is what holds most people back but fear, like everything, runs in cycles.
  7. Nothing lasts forever–cherish what you love while you still have it.
  8. If you want an increased quality of life, raise your standards.
  9. You become what you think about most of the time. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t.
  10. Love and gratitude are the antidotes to fear and depression. You cannot be truly grateful and depressed at the same time.

Embrace Pain-(and Grow)

Be Uncomfortable Most of The Time (and GROW)

I wonder if our human nature often works against us. We are programmed to move toward pleasure and away from pain. That programming in our DNA has worked well for Homo sapiens sapiens (humans) for over 200,000 years. But I pose the question, has the modern technological age made us soft? I believe it has. Pleasure and comforts are every where around us. For most humans, the true pain they feel is emotional, not physical. For those who do feel physical pain, an increasing percentage of that pain is due to overconsumption of food and lack of physical training. Perhaps it’s time to rewrite our human software and embrace pain or discomfort.

By embracing discomfort, putting yourself in situations that are uncomfortable physically and emotionally, we are more apt to grow and develop our true potential. Growth is a human need. Growth and contribution are the only two needs that fulfill us emotionally, yet humans work so hard to avoid pain and discomfort that we are limiting our ability to grow. By putting yourself in painful situations (situations that cause discomfort, not physical or emotional injury) you will develop a greater tolerance and soon those types of situations will not be uncomfortable. In other words, you force emotional growth. You develop your potential. By lifting progressively more weights in a proper movement pattern, your muscles are triggered to grow. The pain of muscle fatigue and soreness will lessen over time as your training frequency increases.

So start today! Don’t try to always avoid pain. Embrace it instead. Make a call that you know will cause discomfort. Instead of doing 12 repetitions of bicep curls, do 20. Or increase the weight and try 12 more. Do something everyday that scares you or makes you uncomfortable. Work against your human nature to avoid pain and force yourself to grow. Soon, you’ll find what used to be painful may become something that you are strong at. I never used to like conducting meetings. I talk loudly, I am very direct and I was afraid that people would be put off. Now I’ve done so many meetings, I’ve refined my craft and worked at it so many times that I find great pleasure in leading them. I also used to hate the Squat exercise. I have a fused spine, so it caused my great physical pain, plus it was physically exhausting. Once I saw my peers pack on pounds of muscle, and become faster and more flexible after being able to squat, I decided that I was going to make my weakest exercise one of my strongest. Now I can squat over 400 pounds without pain and I’m more flexible than I have been in years. So let me ask, what makes you uncomfortable? Confront your fears and make your weakness a strength by living in a state of discomfort- a state of constant growth.

Questions to Ponder This Holiday Season

Questions to ponder during the Holiday Season:
The following questions are for your consideration. There are no answers provided here. Only some intriguing questions that, depending on your answer, may be the key for you to fully enjoy this holiday season and thrive in 2016.

What if the holidays are really about gratitude for others and not receiving yourself?

What if the type of body you want and are committed to having will determine your attitude towards the holidays? What if the more fit your are, the happier you can become?

What if the cold weather can be your ally in reducing inflammation in your body and burning fat?

What if cold therapy can eliminate depression altogether?

What if Christmas and New Years are like any other day?

What if Christmas and New Years are magical days, if you choose them to be, but every other day can be as well?

What will you do if you do not receive any gifts this year?

What if the only gifts you accept from others are charitable donations to a charity of your choice?

What if your actions can light up the face of someone else this season?

What if you can be a hero to a child this season?

What if you open your heart and destroy your limiting beliefs this season?

How will that affect everyone around you?

How will it affect you?

What if you could give to others all year?

What if your family receiving a heartfelt written letter of love this Christmas?

What if you didn’t eat desserts this holiday season and instead donated the money you would have spent on them to charity?

What would happen if you believed your loved ones who have passed are really still with you this season because all humans are made of energy and energy cannot be destroyed, only transferred?

What if the reason for the season is “to go out and love others as I have loved you.”

What if New Years resolutions mostly never happen because people have limiting thoughts keeping them from achieving them?

What if discipline is freedom and your rituals, including holiday rituals determine your life’s outcome?

What if you could carry Christmas in your heart every day?