The Ages of Significance

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When I was very young I took myself very seriously. I wanted people to like me so I did things I thought they would think cool, often not the things I even enjoyed. I wanted to be significant. Youth.

As I aged I soon realized that people liked me for what I could do for them. I enjoyed being of service and so I wanted to provide support and be needed because of that. I wanted to be significant because of what I produced and be seen as great because I could deliver the goods. I stressed about producing the right results for fear of being minimized in the eyes of others.

Now I have children and I am clear on my true friends I put great effort into making sure what I produce for the world is valuable. I take that very seriously. On the other hand I no longer take myself seriously at all. I am who I am. Always questioning, never quite there and committed to life long learning. I want my work to mean something to others so they can be inspired to live with freedom and joy. Today I put significance in the journey of others.

And have more people than ever listening.

Are you taking yourself too seriously?
It might be time to change the focus.

Go. Make a difference.

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The Aim Is Incredible

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The simple fact is that it is easy to market the next car if you make your campaign slightly different from the last but copy the general formula. You’ll inevitably get a little pop in sales and people will be aware there is another option in the vast marketplace of automobiles.

Follow the system and make it look sexy. That will always work.
Until it doesn’t. Then what are you left with? Merely another car in five different colour options and seating patterns. A vehicle to get you from A to B. But not new or different really. Same same.

Your bicycle follows a similar trajectory. As does your cooking wares and many of today’s products. That is the definition of racing to the bottom. If you can’t build new, innovative or incredible then expect to compete on price. Refreshing the basic premise with new wheel sizes or fancy iPod holders won’t tell us that your product is pushing the edge. We expect those little differentiators but that is all they are. They are nice-to-haves but not earth shattering. They encourage a little chatter but don’t change the conversation. There is nothing remarkable here.

Now if you build a Tesla then you don’t really need advertising. The product itself is such that people literally remark about it all day. It is incredible to conceive of where it could go. From conversations about pricing to how to charge it to what the world will look like if more electric cars existed. Tesla is remarkable. So is the Will It Blend concept. Proof of incredible in one minute snippets.

The job is not to build something slightly better or adjust what we are already doing. It is to incite a revolution of incredible. To rethink the concept. To create a new paradigm for others to live into.

Then people will talk about you.
Then you can set your price and stop running downwards.

Go. Make a difference.

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Running After Your Tail

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When I was younger we had cats as family pets. Cute little furry creatures that basically used us for our food, fireplace and blankets to sleep on. My sister and I loved them. They tolerated us when we were younger and came to share the building with us as we got older. It was lovely to have them about when you curled up and they purred on your lap.

Each year at Christmas the big red elf always took care of the cats as well. We always knew he had been by the cookie crumbs, the drained gin and tonic, and the cats rummaging through the presents under the tree. Tin-foil wrapped catnip was his specialty for the four-legged kind. They smelled it and they went nuts. Hours of fun if you are furry or an onlooking eight year old.

The family pets would literally chase their tails for as long as we left the drug filled stuffed mice around.

Ideas are the catnip of humans.

Most of your great ideas will leave you chasing your tail. We love our own thoughts and we will play with them for hours, days or even years until somebody essentially brings us back to reality. The failure of many a good idea is often due to a lack of foundation.

That foundation can be directly stated as purpose.

There are millions of ideas on how to make money. Statistics tell us some work but most fail. The new businesses that are surviving and the side projects that turn into thriving empires are now regularly attached to a greater purpose. A “why”.

Let the shower water rain down on you and dream up the best ideas you’ve got. After take the time to sit down and think them through. Do they fit with your greater purpose? Do you have a greater purpose? Derive your ideas and thinking from the solutions you want to provide the world. The work you need to do will come from a passionate belief that you can do something and build services that help. Everything must be filtered through the purpose otherwise it is just more catnip keeping your mind from focussing.

Get a hold of your ideas and harness the power of your thinking. Let your mind work on big picture stuff while you go about your day building your relationships and execution capacity. Your mind wants some clarity. It needs the big picture.

Do this by having a purpose. Have a why.
This single overarching concept will keep you on track and keep you from chasing your tail.

Go. Make a difference.

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You Can’t Win Emailing

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That phone of yours is really smart.
It can do almost anything. Play games. Level the shelf you are throwing on the wall. Take pictures. Connect you with thousands of friends. Hook you up to your email wherever you are and plug you directly into the world-wide web so research becomes real-time and a breeze.
It is smart.

You are not.

Our human instinct is to compete. Even the people who despise sporting events try to be the most anti-sport they can be. The most anti-establishment. The top hipster. Number one sales person. All of it. We want to win it.
The most.
The best.
The winner.
Somehow it seeps into everything we do. There are always a faction of each group that stand out as trying to be the top dog. Eventually we take it to far, losing perspective on what might be competitive or why. Is there really a best hipster? (Rhetorical, please don’t waste your time thinking about this.)

There is an enormous amount of information out there on productivity. Basically how we can produce more in the same amount of time. How we can be more in control of our lives and feel more peaceful because we are maximizing our time and being more efficient. Zen Habits is a favourite of many.  There is more and  more stress related illness being caused by people feeling they need to stay plugged in to their social networks and now even physical injuries like thumb tendentious and neck issues related to crooked backs looking at screens.

Friends.
You can’t win emailing. Or twittering. Or screen time period.

Being the fastest to respond or post the most interesting comments or even be known as the best Angry Birds player is probably not helping you get out in the world and make amazing stuff. More likely it is keeping you from meeting real people, hurting your fitness and possibly increasing your stress levels. All bad.

Take a look at how you put your day together. When are you most creative? Do you even know? When are you the least productive? When do you need to move your body? Look at your email box during a few set windows. Watch YouTube videos later at night when you just can’t do anything else. Try finding windows in your day that allow you to produce your best thinking without interference. Sit down and plan out a regular day that keeps you exploring the world not plugged in to the web world. Just see how it works for you.

Unplug sometimes.

Save the speedy responses for your wife or kids or friends…in person.
When they smile you will know you are back winning your life.

Go. Make a difference.

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Form A New Default

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There is a reason it takes years and years of schooling and residency to become a practicing doctor. It is the same reason that normally sixteen year olds don’t make the pro leagues in sports. It may also be the reason why those parents with five children seem more at ease than the ones who just had their first child.

There is some experience that is needed and some learning that obviously must happen. However, the most important thing that begins to take place after years of performing the right moves and the proper systems in regular controlled situations is that people become accustomed to doing the necessary things to deliver a successful result. Even under extreme duress.

They form a new default.

What can you learn from this? It’s very simple. We must practice doing the right things every day. We need to look for a system that will allow us to perform well no matter what happens in our lives. Whether that is training yourself to smile or write thoughts of gratitude at a regular time each day, through repetition we have the ability to change our default emotions.

Talking to yourself negatively will never help.
Telling yourself that you are doing poorly or feeling tired will only result in exactly that being true. Change the game. Alter the default. And then train, train, train. Practice feeling good. Practice the notion of being the best. Dream it and believe it. Day after day. Year after year.

Until the positive nature is your default. Your regular attitude. Then when the economy dips, someone in the family suffers a problem, you lose your job or something doesn’t quite work out, you will be programmed to take it in stride and roll with the situation. You will bring the right attitude, effort and thinking needed to rise above the situation.

The circumstances should never define you.
Your attitude should.

Create the change you want.
Form a new default.

Go. Make a difference.

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Idle Time: You Have Permission

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I lost my laptop and bag today. Left it behind at a coffee shop deep on the other side of the city. Fortunately I was able to locate it and all is safe and sound. However, it cost me about three hours or more of car time today.

I hate driving.
Cars don’t excite me and traffic is not something I’m all that interested in either. Every day I consider myself lucky that the proximity to work is reasonable and the times for me are flexible. My professional output I think reflects this. That’s just me. Car-time leaves me frustrated and antsy. Probably why my report cards always indicated I was a fidget.

Today was a lesson in smiling and knowing that this wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. Nobody had died. No injuries or real issues. The laptop and bag were safe merely needing to be retrieved and placed back in my possession.

So I decided to take a break and try to enjoy the city. Traffic and all. I decided to bust out some podcasts I’ve been meaning to listen to. Nothing earth shattering but the circumstances gave me permission to just be idle and take in the information.

It was fantastic. The talks were engrossing, so much so that upon reaching my destination I stayed in the car for the last-minute or two simply to hear the concluding statements. My mind was bubbling with thoughts and ideas the entire time I was in my seat. Writing down notes to myself and laughing out loud I felt quite peaceful.

Time alone is important. Time to just be is more valuable than we give it credit. There isn’t a metric to attach to that time but there is definitely a measurable benefit to allowing yourself to just hang out and think.

Take a few minutes every day to block out some regeneration time and don’t be accountable to any purpose. Just hang out with yourself.

You shouldn’t need to lose your bag to remember you matter.

Go. Make a difference.

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My Why. What’s Yours?

This post was inspired by a friend who asked that I invite others into my ‘Why’. Here it is. Thanks bro.

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Christmas approached very differently this past year. I had just moved on from twenty-one years owning and operating my own retail business and I was sitting silently in my living room wondering why I wasn’t readying myself for the onslaught of last-minute shoppers. My mind was still twitching and on alert but my body was done. No gas in the tank. Years of managing people, looking for the next sale and building our community had started to set in.

What was I going to do?
Why?

Growing up in business has been an amazing experience. As I matured and took stock year after year, I realized that my learning was coming right in the trenches. In the places the real stuff happens. Real people issues right in your face. There was so much I wanted to support. So many things I felt needing addressed that there never seemed enough time. Real world issues that we weren’t looking at because we were all so busy trying to take care of ourselves.

Having children of my own only fueled my introspection.

That Christmas I boiled down all my thinking and tried to dig as deeply as possible to uncover why I cared, what I cared for and what I might do. It was a simple process but required lots of thinking. I walked and hiked. Discussions with mentors and ultimately a significant amount of time banging around ideas in my head. Simple steps but emotionally challenging.

Looking at the things I loved, where I was passionate, and the areas that moved me, I came closer and closer to my mark. Discovering the bigger reason for why I decided to even start this blog…or anything at all.

Here it is:
My why.

I believe we can attain world peace if people simply took action and made shit happen.

That’s it.
In my years of managing people the same thing always happened when they weren’t busy or doing stuff that energized them.

They fought.
They whined.
They cried about their lot in life.
They looked at their inadequacies.
They found a reason to stay stalled.
Life slowed and so did their spirit.

Now, I’m not really sure if I’m right or wrong and frankly I don’t care. My fire has been lit and I already know I am an expert at but one thing: taking action. Going out and doing stuff. Getting started.

Do I execute well. Not sure. Sometimes I think but that’s not necessarily my expertise. Am I the best manager, best philanthropist or any other title? Nope. But I can truly compete with anyone when it comes to putting one foot in front of the other and getting up to shit.

So what if everyone was in action on what fueled them? What would happen if the planet was filled with people not just surviving but thriving by doing what they were most excited about? What if every person had a project they just couldn’t shake from their brain? From Jakarta to Berlin and all stops in between. Would people be fighting? Would the apathy that besets our poorest villages and communities exist? I don’t know but I’m willing to make a bet the world would look differently. More importantly I have already bet my life on it.

I’m here to light people up. Energize them and leave them pumped and rocking life. Any project I choose, this is where I come from. From this writing to the next sports team I coach to the next project I work on with you. Pumped and rocking life. Inspiring others to get busy doing stuff. Learning. Loving. Playing. I want to be leaving others way smarter than me in a position to make shit happen.

My aim is world peace through action.

Now you know.
What’s your why?

Go. Make shit happen.
Go. Make a difference.

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