33 Lessons I’ve Learned

33 Lessons:

Tomorrow I turn 33 years old. So, here is a lesson for every year that I have learned and find valuable enough to share with all of you.

-Think about business from a customer centric angle to find insight.
-Save money. At least 20%. if you don’t, you’ll be at the mercy of those that did save.
-When you first date someone, you’d do anything for them including rubbing their feet and taking out the trash. Don’t lose that if you want a lasting relationship.
-Don’t always react immediately. Acting without thinking is usually worse than not acting.
– Don’t let fear drive you. Life is scary. If you want security, go to a mental ward. They’ll take care of you.
– All government is force. It is a monopoly on violence. Nothing more, nothing less.
– You and I owe to each other to look out for our common good. But I have no right to rob another because I believe I can use their property better than they can. (That’s called taxation)
– Read to your children and spend most of your days with them.
– Only you can teach yourself. Others can provide information, but you must do the learning.
-Read at least a book a month to ensure a better future.
– Work harder on yourself than you do on your job and you’ll get better at both.
– You are not poor because someone else is rich.
– Don’t wait to be wealthy;start helping others today.
– You don’t know everything. But God(the Universe if you prefer) does, so it might be wise to ask for guidance.
– Treat everything as if it was the last time you will see it. You quality of life will improve dramatically.
-Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. Mark 4:25. ( This is talking about gratitude)
– Crap attracts flies. Don’t have crappy thoughts.
-Music makes life fulfilled in every way. It makes your mind vibrate at higher frequencies and attracts love to you.
– Your success will always reflect the standards of your peer group.
– Start everyday by writing down ten things you’re grateful for.
– The quality of your life will be determined by how comfortable you are with uncertainty (risk).
– You are not a goose. You don’t have to fly south during winter. Choose your own direction.
-Carbohydrates make you fat because of insulin. Earn your carbs. Don’t just eat them without training to use them.
– You can change your attitude by changing your state. Do some push-ups or train to operate at a higher level.
-Most people believe they desire Liberty, but sell themselves into a slave- like existence for false security or because of a lack of creativity.
– Skip a meal once in a while, it can help you feel better and get in touch with yourself.
– Any disease can be defeated if the reasons behind beating it are strong enough and the mind believes it can be done.
– If you want a great life focus on appreciation instead of expectation.
– Use your money to buy assets that produce income and not liabilities.
– Energy is something you produce, not something you have.
– The quality of your life is determined by your philosophy towards life.
– Disciplines are the keys to success in any area. The first discipline to learn is controlling your thoughts.

-You become the story you tell yourself. To change your life, start telling yourself a different story that serves you.

In Health,

Sean

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The Right Things

One of the Harder Things in Life

Sometimes it’s really hard to know if you are doing the “right” thing. It’s often hard to even know what the right thing is. No matter what my age is or how much experience I’ve gained, I continue to wonder if what I’m doing is really the right thing to do. I don’t think anyone can know for sure until time passes and they can see the look at the result of their actions. Therein lies the hardest part- you have to wait to find out whether the actions you have taken were actually the right ones in getting you towards your goal. The waiting part is what drives me nuts. I’m the type of person that likes to see results as quickly as possible and I despise waiting long periods. I know that this is the source of most of my anxiety. I’m constantly questioning, which can be good to a point, but will quickly lead to either analysis paralysis or can lead to me second-guessing myself.

I don’t think I’m alone here. If you are a parent, a business person, an athlete, or a partner in a relationship, I think it’s very common to second guess whether your are doing things the best way possible. I’m all of these things, so some of the questions that run through my head are the following; “Should I have gotten angry with my kid?” “How do I communicate well enough to make an impact?” “What is the best way to teach this person?” “How do I know what the best way to invest is?” “Are they acting this way because of something I’ve done?” “Am I doing things the best way possible?” “Is there a better path that I’ve ignored?” “Am I a good father?” “How can I be a better athlete, husband and business person.” “Am I spending money on the wrong things?” “Why do I always second guess myself?” I’m curious, do any of these questions sound familiar?

Of course, all of these questions stem from the possibility that I could in fact be wrong. And being wrong about anything could have some consequences. We are fearful of the consequences of being wrong because our most basic fears are that we are not enough, and that we won’t be loved. Being wrong can lead to both of these fears. For instance, if I spend money in the wrong areas of my business, I could go out of business, significantly affecting the lives of my family and employees as well as my customers. If I yell at my wife or kids, they could grow to resent me and I won’t be loved. If I train a certain way because I think it’s the best way for me to train, I could be hampering my ability to reach my full potential as an athlete. These are all things that I fear. Although I realize the harm and futility in allowing this fear into my thinking, I also realize the dangers of being too naive about the consequences of all my actions.

I bring all this up, not to complain or admit that I have weaknesses, rather I’m writing this to remind us all that doubt and fear is normal. It’s truly very difficult to know if you are doing the right things in every area of your life. There are some things that I’ve recently been doing that I believe have eased my anxiety in this area. The first is meditation. I can’t honestly say that I’m great at clearing my head of all thoughts, but meditation has helped me distance myself from my thoughts and take a more rational approach to analyzing whether these thoughts are helping me or hindering me from my desired outcome. The second thing that has helped me is to remember the times when I did something extremely well and how I felt before, during and after. This exercise helps me gain perspective on how I was able to deal with other obstacles and events in my life and how I felt during those times. If I remember that I was nervous and stressed out during a past event, but I still achieve the desired outcome, I can ease my mind about the stresses I currently have by reminding myself that it will work out. If I was absolutely confident, that will help me to realize I need to replace my current thoughts or doubt with those of strength and confidence.

The last exercise that has helped me is to visualize who I have to become to attract the things and feelings I truly want in my life. For example, the current version of me is only capable of achieving a certain level. But, how would the best version of myself act right now? What could he accomplish? I like this exercise because it reminds me that to “get more than I have, I have to become more than I am”. By focussing on how the best version of myself would act, I find that negative thoughts fall away quickly, because my highest self understands the futility of constantly criticizing and second guessing myself. “How would my highest self act right now?” I think that’s a great question we should all ask more.

Remember, doubt and fear is a normal part of life. It’s not shameful to admit that you have both fears and doubts. But, remember also that there is something you can do to overcome the fears and doubts that creep in. By distancing yourself from your thoughts, changing your state and focussing on times that you did extremely well, you can change the biochemistry of your brain and switch the focus from fear to confidence and tranquility. After all, I think one of the most truly helpful beliefs is that you should remain calm that it will all work out! If we believe it will work out, many new possibilities will open up to us. We must have faith in ourselves that we can figure it out and live an incredible life.

In health

Sean

The Problem With Competing

DON’T COMPETE

We live in a very competitive world. We have the idea of competition engrained in us when we are very very young. We are told that we have to try harder and do things better than everyone around us so that we can succeed. In school, we have to be at the top of the class. In sports, we have to be the MVP. Winners are recognized by society and we all desire significance on some level. Indeed, the idea behind winning is that we have performed better than everyone else doing the same activity as us and we should be recognized for being outstanding. I do admit that there is some value in competition. In certain situations it causes people to try harder and push past their previous perceived limits. On another level though, competition is one of the major causes of unhappiness in our culture. The constant stress of outperforming others can lead to some just “shutting down” instead of pressing on harder. Competition also creates constant fear that we may lose our jobs, our businesses, our titles and status to others. This fear can be useful if it leads to massive action and creativity, but I think in most instances this is simply not the case. From what I have observed, the opposite is true.

Competition kills creativity. This may fly in the face of what you’ve been told since childhood, but I stand by the statement. By definition, if you are competing against someone, you are doing the same thing as them, only attempting to do it better. This is the opposite of creativity. This is a form of copying. In the business world this is easily observed. Most companies start out trying to do the exact same thing as their competition, only perhaps make it slightly better or more convenient. Sometimes, businesses are engaging in the exact same activity and a customer would have a difficult time distinguishing between them. By copying what others are doing, the creative process of building something new is shut down. So much focus is given to outperforming the other, innovation takes a back seat. However, when you look at the most respected companies throughout history, most of them are recognized for being the first to do something or drastically improving the way something is done. The fifth company to the marketplace is rarely recognized, but that is what most people do- they start companies that are copies of others, or they get a job in the marketplace without giving much thought to what special skills will set them apart and allow them to do something unique.

Our world is in dire need of innovation. We need brand new technologies and ideas to drive humanity forward, but society teaches us from an early age, especially in our primary schools and universities to compete with each other for the same prizes, as if there was one pie and we all have to fight to get a slice. The truth is that through the creative process, we can all expand the size of the pie, or create a different prize all together. Get a piece of cake instead of pie. The world is not “dog eat dog”. In fact, dogs don’t really eat each other anymore, so I think it’s time to throw at that whole phrase and start working to build something new to benefit mankind. This requires that we use our mind as much as our bodies. Humanity must continue to evolve in its thinking and use the untapped mind-power we were blessed with at birth. Yes, it’s hard to think creatively in a world with constant noise. We have information at our fingertips today, but it’s not necessarily leading to more creativity. Much of it is just more noise. Our brains cannot process all the information it receives while at the same time trying to engage in creative thinking. The noise must be quieted in order for our minds to generate new ideas. Everyone is capable of creativity so long as we are not preoccupied with keeping ahead in the proverbial rat race. Break out of the race and blaze a new path. If you are an athlete, take your focus off the competition and put it on bringing something new and phenomenal to your sport. Develop a system, rituals or technology that allows you to surpass what you were previously capable of.

Happy New Year. May the coming year be a never ending fountain of creativity and energy for you and your family. Spend time thinking about new ideas. Who knows, if you’re trying to build something new, you might just do so!

In Health,
Sean

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

What If (part 2)

What if the most important question you could ask yourself is, “could I be wrong about this?” What is that is the only way to properly analyze something and explore all possibilities? What if most people never do this? What if most people become polarized against others? What if most people want the same things in life? What if our ideologies prevented us from getting what we really want? What if some don’t know what they want in life? What if they feel hollow inside? What if their lives are filled with fear and anxiety? What if the only way to prevent this was to take control of your humanity?

What if you don’t know what humanity means? What if you are confused by what your purpose is? What if the answer was simple? What if all of our purpose is to embrace our consciousness? What if our true purpose was to attempt to fulfill our potential- whatever that may be? What if the hollow and empty feeling we get is because we are not living up to our potential? What if the cause of most anxiety and fear is really a disappointment in ourselves? What if, deep down, we always know the truth, but we hide it from the world? What if our ego is our greatest enemy? What if our desire to be liked by others is killing our humanity? What if the real secret is to like yourself first? What if we are not being our true selves and we are suffering the consequences internally? What if you and I could stamp out anxiety forever by playing full out each day? What if true success is in knowing that you did your absolute best? What if that is the first step in fulfilling your potential?

What if you are capable of much more than you even know? What if you could not fail? What would you do? What reasons do you have for not playing full out every day? What stories do you tell yourself that make you sick? What if those stories hold you back? What would have to happen to be proud of yourself at night? Who else do you want to make proud of you? What reasons do you have for wanting what you want? What if you started today? What if there is no tomorrow to get started? What if each day is a new chance at life? What would that mean to you? What’s holding you back? What if the only limits on your potential are the ones you create? What if you destroyed them?

 

What if?

Conquer Fear Forever

What’s the biggest problem in your life right now? If you are like most people I know, the “problem” that you have probably isn’t as bad as the fear you have from what you believe will be the result of your problem. Sure, you may have a legitimate obstacle in your life, standing in the way of your desired outcome, but it is the perception of your problem, the fear you have that may be a bigger problem. In other words, people fear a certain outcome before it has even happened, causing them anxiety, worry, nervousness, even depression (the fear that you lack agency in your life, that you have no control over what happens to you or what you do about events in your life). All of these emotions are just fear manifesting itself. Stress is another code word for fear. We feel stressed because we fear something is not going to happen as we like it. I’m going to reveal a big secret here–fear is only possible because of… attachment. 

            Fear always results from feelings or beliefs of attachment to something or someone. Attachment to success leads to the fear of ridicule. Attachment to loved ones leads to the fear of loss or death. Attachment to wealth leads to the fear of poverty. Attachment to a career or project leads to fear of loss of that work. Attachment to a relationship or romantic partner leads to the fear of adultery or rejection. Attachment to beauty and youth leads to a fear of old age. Attachment to a certain outcome leads to the fear of failure and ridicule. Attachment to your own life leads to a fear of death and discomfort. Above all, attachment to things that are not in our control leads to the fear of lack of fulfillment and eventual disappointment. It is clear, to me at least, that fear is only possible with attachment. This leads us to the inescapable conclusion that the answer to conquering fear forever is to remove any attachment that we have in our lives. Right? Right… easier said than done.

As social beings, we have the natural tendency to allow ourselves to feel attachment to others. We develop attachments to things and people and develop strong emotional ties to them throughout our lives. While strong relationships and physical objects that improve our lifestyle are necessary, attachments to people, outcomes and objects is not necessary, nor do I believe it is healthy. Yet, most of us do it anyway. Opinions differ on why this occurs, but I believe, as do many philosophers and psychologists, that we form attachments because of a perceived lack or void within ourselves. The belief that we are not enough leads us to feelings of attachment. Feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and emptiness are all terms we use to explain the void. Therefore, the only way to avoid attachment that leads to fear is to accept that we are the void. Loneliness, emptiness and the like are natural to the human experience and you do not need to validate yourself with anyone or anything else. When we accept something, we can stop running from it and begin to reason as to what is in our control and what is not.

There are some tools that exist to help us deal with attachment and eliminate the fear that holds so many in prisons within their own minds. The most powerful, in my opinion, comes from the ancient Stoics who used negative visualization–daily meditation on the impermanence of all things and people. By constantly reminding ourselves that “this too shall pass”, we keep from becoming overly attached because nothing lasts. The beauty of impermanence is that is can remind us that life is short, so how we spend our time matters a great deal. Relationships with others can become stronger using this technique too. If you remind yourself that every moment matters, you will be less likely engaging others in triviality, choosing instead to savor every moment with that person. The most important aspect of negative visualization is that it reminds us that we truly do not own anyone or anything, including our own lives. Everything is on loan to us. We are the void. We have nothing. And someone who has nothing has nothing to fear.

The other most effective tool for controlling attachment and therefore fear is developing the ability to recognize what you have control over and what you have no control over. In modern society with the abundance of food choices, you mostly have control over your diet. Therefore, you have some control over your body and physique. You do not, however, have control over whether someone is leaner or more attractive than you. Thus, envy, jealously and the fear that you are not enough is irrational because you cannot control others. Another external factor that humans have a tendency to form attachment to are the outcomes of events. Take a sporting tournament. You may believe that you have control over how you train yourself and therefore how well you will do in the tournament. You may then develop certain expectations for the outcome of the tournament. However, whether you win the tournament is actually outside your control for the reason that you have no control over others and how well they have trained for this event. Therefore, developing an attachment to winning the tournament should not be the goal, but rather focusing on performing as well as possible. By focusing on what is in your control (your performance), rather than what is outside it (the outcome of the tournament), you may in fact win the tournament. Most people develop anxiety and nervousness from competition. By realizing that you only have control over yourself, you will spare yourself the fear of failure and disappointment that comes from attachment to an outcome. The irony here is that by focusing on your performance alone, you are more likely to win the tournament than allowing yourself to become anxious or nervous.

Fear is something that all humans battle throughout life because it is in our nature to form attachments. By remembering that we own nothing and that even our own lives are on loan to us from nature, despite our best efforts to increase our lifespan and quality of life, we can allow all attachments and the fear that accompanies them to fall away. Additionally, by reasoning what is in our control and what is not, we can better focus our energy and time on what we can work to improve, rather than allow ourselves to worry over external events. (Hint: if you look closely, there is always some control you have in any situation, starting with your beliefs about the situation.) My hope is that these tools are of some use to you while navigating through life. Remember, these tools, (negative visualization and reasoning what you have control over and what you do not) are always at your disposal. They are sitting in your tool bag at all times. Whether or not you decide to use them is up to you. As I often remind my wife, most projects that fail do so because the proper tools were not used. I hope this is not your fate.

Child or Adult?

Are you an adult or a child? This topic has been discussed much in the media with regards to the current state of millennials. According to Goldman Sachs research, over 30% of millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) live with their parents. The average age of marriage for the generation is 30, compared with age 23 in 1970. Fewer millennials have licenses and cars compared to previous generations. These are all major economic changes that will affect the economy in a major way. And while the law states that a certain age makes someone an adult, in reality, I believe that most people, not just millennials, lack the maturity to be considered such. Here are 20 ways to know that you’ve graduated from childhood into adulthood.

  1. You take responsibility for everything that happens in your life. It’s the highest level of maturity.
  2. You focus on the present and future much more than the past.
  3. You have stopped blaming your parents and upbringing for where you are in life now.
  4. You no longer blame others for the emotions you allow yourself to feel.
  5. You understand that you own your own body and must take responsibility for it and what it produces.
  6. You realize that your primary responsibility is to take care of yourself. That responsibility does not belong to another individual.
  7. You understand that people have different identities and that your values are not theirs.
  8. You stop focusing on trying to change others before yourself.
  9. You realize that everyone is working in their own self-interest, but even the honeybee, which does the same, brings life to the many plants while it serves its own needs. This is a positive thing.
  10. You take care of your physical health and work to improve it daily.
  11. You avoid making excuses about why you “should” do something but “can’t”.
  12. You only associate with those who bring value to your life.
  13. You are working on refining your philosophy daily.
  14. You look for opportunities instead of problems.
  15. You never beg for anything or ask anything of another without offering something in exchange.
  16. You are constantly looking for ways to add value to others through the marketplace.
  17. You have the desire to grow yourself so you can serve the ones you love.
  18. You keep your word and pay your debts.
  19. You do what you believe is right, not because someone is telling you it is.
  20. You have decided to live a great life that you have designed because you are the architect of your life.