New Year New You!

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Yesterday I read a great blog post by therapist and mental health writer Gabriela who writes at thewellnessworx.com you can check out the full post Here . It is about letting go of toxic relationships and more importantly (for this article at least) the toxic narratives we tell ourselves.

Lately I’ve been becoming more aware of the negative self talk I subject myself too, and how blind to it I was. In this modern society it is so easy to get bogged down with distractions (Hell they create apps for apps now) you can get so trapped in busy  you can’t hear yourself think. But just because you ignore the negative self talk in your head, it doesn’t mean it’s not there and that it’s not negatively affecting aspects of your life you have not even considered.

So what are you saying we should we listen to negative self talk? Yes, but that doesn’t mean agree with it! Distracting yourself from negative self talk doesn’t make it go away or free you from it, it just creates a constant state of stress, or what author Brigid Schulte refers to as Overwhelm.

So what’s the alternative, argue with it? Does that work with your co-workers? Or that person you just bumped into with your car in a standstill? When we argue with others or tell them to stop a certain behavior, humans do this weird and crazy thing where they continue or increase that same negative action. The same is true of your relationship with yourself, focusing on the negative brings about more of that negative action.

So then what? When you listen to the self-talk realize that it is not you talking because you are the one listening! How could you be listening and talking at the same time? You are not your negative self-talk!  This is in fact an embarrassingly dumbed down version of Mindfulness – This link offers a much better definition.

So What does this have to do with the New Year, New Me mantra?

I recently ran a Google Stats search on the terms Motivation, Self help and Personal development and found that each one of these key search terms sees A Major Hike every year from January to March and then plummets until December, this has been constant since 2004, and I’m sure before then. (click the above separate links and look at the Interest Over Time  graph to see this trend)  What does this tell us? People suck at Follow Through! 

Don’t freak out though! This long drawn out rambling has a point. Recently I interview Dr. Steve Levinson for the Over The Edge Podcast about this exact subject! He has researched this problem for a huge chunck of his life and has found that a lack of follow through is a universal problem! The good news? It can be improved. How, you might ask?

Being Present

The biggest reason people fail on following through on their intentions is because they get bogged down with everything else going on in life, all the problems, all the stress and lose focus of what they are trying to accomplish.

In a few hours the clock will strike 12:00am and usher in 2016, No matter what your resolution is this year I suggest you bring your full attention to it. Take time out of each day to reflect on your goal and why you set it. Throughout the day when the negative self talk tries to take over and you are drowning in a sea of worries, stop yourself and take a moment to take in your surroundings, or close your eyes and take a breath, take 10 if you need to.

This simple practice has the power to change everything and give new life to your resolutions this year!

 

Cliff Notes

My favorite books and teachings on Mindfulness are The Untethered Soul and Fully Present– which both offer more of a scientific and academic explanation as well as benefits and how to. As well as The Power of Now and A New Earth both by Eckhart Tolle which offers more of a spiritual approach to the teaching.

An important part of mindfulness is remember to do it, They have free Apps that ring or vibrate randomly to remind you of this.

Dr. Steve Levinson has also invented a standalone device for this purpose called the MotivAider (this is not an affiliate link) which vibrates to remind you of any intention you set and is fully customizable

You’re worth more than words could ever say!

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Recently I traveled to Venice, Florida to visit my grandparents for a whole week. Talk about a great way to de-stress. I enjoyed swimming, bike riding, yoga on the beach, golfing and watching dolphins jump through the waves of the bay as if to say hello. Despite all the activities and adventures I enjoyed one of favorite moments was discovering “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle at a church sale for 50 cents! As I enjoyed Tolle’s wisdom on the flight home this one passage caught my attention and gave me pause;

Words reduce reality to something the human mind can grasp, which isn’t very much. Language consists of five basic sounds produced by the vocal cords. They are the vowels a, e, i, o, u. The other sounds are consonants produced by air pressure: s, f, g and so forth. Do you believe some combination of such basic sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or a stone is in its depth?

How beautiful is that realization? The next time a stranger puts you down or a boss questions your competence remember that words are nothing more than attempt of our species to explain the vastly unexplained world around us. No mere sounds could ever explain the depth of who you are.

You are worth more than words could ever explain!

Over The Edge Episode 5

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Jeff-Sanders-Headshot

Join me for Episode 5 of the Over The Edge Podcast! I speak with Jeff Sanders, public speaker and author of the best-selling book the 5 AM Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast. Jeff was recently a guest on John Lee Dumas’ podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire, to talk about his book, podcast and life.

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Good Company

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Hello All! I just wanted to take a brief moment to apologize for only posting once last week when I normally do Wednesdays and Fridays. I recently began doing weekly podcasts and I have been getting so wrapped up in that process that I have been neglecting my writing. I am working now to create a perfect balance between the two.

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Everyday’s Friday

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Hey everybody, it’s Wednesday. If you’re like me and work a full time job 9-5, or 7-4 in my case, then you may be longingly staring out the window right now wishing it was Friday. Good news for you! It can feel like Friday, today. How you may ask? Well I’m glad you asked. I believe it takes careful planning, execution and consistency but over time if you follow this model I believe you will wake up everyday feeling like it’s Friday. Where do you start? With a dream.

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The Journey of Self-Discipline

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If you follow my blog, know me personally, or follow me in person (that would be odd) then you know by now that I meet regularly with a group of friends every week. I refer to these meetings as Mondays with the Mastermind and they always give me the boost to start my week off on a great note. On a day when most are dragging in from the weekend just trying to make it through to Tuesday, Continue reading

The Dating Dilemma

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To date or not to date, that is the question I want to talk about. What’s the answer? Only you can find out the answer for yourself. I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the spectrum; Napoleon Hill, one of my biggest role models, believes that a healthy romantic relationship is crucial for success and explains how having a woman in your life can motivate you to success because of the desire to provide for her needs and the needs of your future potential family. Yet there are others who believe dating can take your focus away from business goals and kill your ambition. Whose right? Continue reading

Lessons from Nature

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I’ve often heard that if you want to really understand a concept, learn about that subject with the intent to teach it. In fact, this is the suggestion that Steven Covey makes at the beginning of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Did you figure out this is my Bible yet?) for all readers to engage in. I have found that the more I consistently blog, the more I am forced to find lessons in every day happenings throughout my day and understand them in such a way that I can explain them others. These new revelations about everyday aspects of life are to me small wonders.

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A Simple Check-mark

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It’s amazing how much energy and enthusiasm a simple check mark can bring to your life. In The Choice To Be Disciplined  I wrote about how myself and a group of friends meet weekly to discuss how we did on achieving our goals for the previous week and set new goals for ourselves, among other uplifting activities. I call these consecutive meetings Mondays with the Mastermind and they get me excited about every Monday when most people are dreading the new work week.

For awhile I had the same goal set to complete, Finish editing the Interview I recorded with Cornell Wilson and post it. When I say awhile, I mean awhile, almost 2 months to be exact. It took the group members calling me out it and holding me accountable until I finally finished the editing process and released it. The Monday after finally achieving my goal, I felt awesome.

Every meeting I go through my goals and place a big check-mark next to the goals I met for the week and an X for those I didn’t. Finally being able to place a big fat check-mark next to that goal made me feel like a million bucks. Not only that but crossing that hurdle and reaching a goal I had been striving towards for so long gave me momentum to continue achieving.  That momentum continued for the rest of the week, giving me the courage to complete all but one of my remaining goals.

I believe that a large part of increased physical energy comes from positive mental energy and this experience concreted what was before merely something I had heard and believed to be true  but had not yet experienced.  While it has been universally accepted that healthy eating, physical exercise, and adequate sleep all contribute to increased physical energy, the amount of physical energy that comes from positive mental association is not wide spread.

All of this is just to say; if you are doing all of the things necessary for a healthy body; exercising regularly, consuming a balanced diet and getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night you may still be missing a key component. Dream; you don’t have to dream huge or even big but dream. Set goals for yourself to achieve those dreams. Imagine each small goal a step on the stairway to your idea of success. Then; day by day, week by week you will start to see the check-marks add up. As you look down at how far you have come, the natural energy will follow.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Post Note:

One of my goals I set for myself was to write a “Seed” and have it accepted on The Seeds 4 Life Website. That goal was completed and you can check out the Seed  Article HERE. Please take the time to check out some other great posts on the Seeds 4 Life promoting a positive message.

Top Image removed from Pixabay

The Choice to be Disciplined

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Once a week myself and a group of friends meet to review goals we have set for ourselves, set new goals, and discuss a book we are reading together. We got this idea from Napoleon Hill’s concept of the Mastermind and refer to our meeting of the minds by the same name. Currently we are reading “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters” by Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, two evolutionary psychologists. The authors explain why different aspects of modern society exist, why cultures are the way that they are and highlight potential answers to seemingly unsolvable human character flaws all through the lens of evolutionary psychology. What is Evolutionary psychology? Frankly I had never even heard of the subject before reading this book, much less memorized the definition. Science Daily defines it as “a theoretical approach to psychology that attempts to explain useful mental and psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, i.e., as the functional products of natural selection.”

The major argument of the book is based around a term Kanazawa (2002) coined as The Savannah Principle; in short, he suggests that our brains (as the human species) have not developed beyond since the Stone Age and we are living in a twenty first century reality with ten thousand year old brains. Kanazawa goes on to explain that our world has changed so rapidly within the past ten thousand years that evolution cannot keep up with the changes. He points out that “Evolution happens very gradually, and natural selection requires a stable, unchanging environment to which it can respond.” (Miller.Ch 1, 25) Since hunter-gatherer days our environment has been anything but stable, from the agriculture revolution, to the industrial revolution to the technology revolution, the ways to “win” have constantly changed and therefore a “perfect winner brain” has not been created through natural selection.

Where am I going on this rant? As a part of our Mastermind meetings our group has been reading through the chapters and discussing the implications of our still, somewhat barbaric brains. For example, this week we learned that men are more prone to violence and criminal acts because of their innate desire to impress and obtain mates. When you learn about this information it can be easy to become discourage and believe you do not have a choice, it is simply up to evolution. Too quickly though this can become an excuse, “I’m just made this way there is nothing I can do about it”.

Recently I began reading Mindset by Carol Dweck after it was recommended to me about 6 times, and I am glad I did. Dweck’s findings about different mindsets can shed some light on the challenge of dealing with information relating to such topics. The thoughts I originally had while reading “Why Beautiful People” were part of the fixed mindset, “Oh great”, I said to myself, “If I get wealthy then I will become a cheater” (Miller. Ch 4, 91)  or “If I get married I will waste my money buying new cars and unnecessary things when my wife reaches menopause” (Miller. Ch 6, 140) . Dweck explains the fixed mindset as the belief that one’s talents, character and personality are fixed and cannot be improved or changed very much throughout the course of your life, you are the way that you are. Although we know this to be false, it can be difficult to remember it on a daily basis, especially when so many of us, like myself, have been scripted in the mindset as young child.

The alternative is the growth mindset that essentially takes the same information and says, Great! I can use this information to plan better for the future, to be prepared or even when I fail to learn from the failure. I could receive the same information from “Why Beautiful People” and instead of becoming upset about all the negative animal instincts that still exist in my brain I could look at the learning as a blessing because it gives me the opportunity to be prepared and an opportunity to Practice Discipline. My best friend Jevon’s motto is Practice Discipline, and this week the Mastermind adopted the principle as their own. It takes discipline to fight your most basic instincts, it takes discipline to accept failures as a learning experience, and it takes discipline to get yourself back into the growth mindset when you find yourself in a fixed mindset. There are so many situations acting upon us on a daily basis but we can choose not to act on them but instead Practice Discipline. Victor Frankle highlighted this choice beautifully when he reflected, ” Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ”

Post Note

Hey guys,

If you enjoyed the concept of the mastermind and would like to hear about how we got started, the structure of our meetings, or any additional information please leave me a comment below and I would love to share with you.

Thanks for all the support

Citations 

Featured photo courtesy of Sail On Photography

“Evolutionary Psychology.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.

Miller, Alan S., and Satoshi Kanazawa. Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire: Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do. New York: Perigee Book, 2007. Print.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. Print.

A Personal Constitution

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Throughout the course of my day I often have an “Aha” moment where I hear a quote or an idea from one of the books or podcasts I am listening to and it just clicks. I have an hour drive to and from work so Audible and Podcast Addict definitely come in handy for inhaling knowledge throughout my day. Currently I am listening to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, The Switch by Dan and Chip Heath and A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the  podcast I most frequently listen to is “The One You Feed“. I enjoy listening to these different sources of information on a daily basis because of the way the different concepts and principles often correlate and it allows me to understand them much quicker when I hear the same or a similar principle described 3 or 4 different ways in the same day.

For instance, the importance of having a mission statement in any area of life has really been hit home for me. In The 7 Habits, Covey compares a personal mission statement to The Constitution of The United States, the document by which all other decisions in government are based off of. Goodwin in Rivals details one of the first speeches Lincoln delivered to a large public audience. Within his address he details the true purpose of having such a bold mission for a nation to;

When the authors of the Declaration spoke of equality, they did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were then actually enjoying that equality, they meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all peoples of all colors everywhere.

-Abraham Lincoln

This is in essence the same purpose of a Personal Constitution, setting a goal to reach toward, a vision of the future. Lincoln’s understanding of the intent of our Founding Fathers was accurate and we are continuing to labor so we as a nation can say with integrity, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Having a set of values to live by and strive towards in not only important in government but businesses as well. In Managing by Values by Kenneth Blanchard and Michael O’Connor the authors create a business parable to describe the transformation of an entire organization when the CEO commits, with the help of the employees, to organize the company around a set of principles that the company will value in their day to day operations. In Start With Why Simon Sinek explains this concept as well by pointing out how we are drawn to companies with a strong sense of purpose and values because we understand Why they do what they do.

All of this is just to show the importance of setting goals and having a clear vision of the future, what Covey describes as “Beginning with the End In Mind”. While having a target to shoot for is important it is also important not to beat yourself up and drag yourself down when you fail to reach a goal. Growth is a process, it takes time and you often have to fail before you can achieve real success. We often assume we should be an expert at something the first time we try  but that it not the reality, it takes constant and consistent effort to achieve a goal.

It took over 100 years from the time Lincoln delivered his first speech on equality until the Civil Rights movement and now, 50 years later there is still work to be done in achieving true equality. Organizations take decades to go from start up to lasting great companies, so why is it any wonder that it can take years and hardships for an individual to make a great change? Creating a Personal Constitution is not a one time fix, it takes constant effort over a lifetime of learning, of growing and improving, what Covey calls “The Upward Spiral”.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.- T.S Elliot

Inside Out

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I am currently re-reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and am witnessing the power of the principle of pro-activity everywhere. I talk a lot about self management and achieving success because I believe in sharing a positive message but not long ago I led a completely destructive lifestyle. I was unhealthy; constantly overeating prepackaged, fatty and greasy foods, spending my nights watching Netflix and addicted to Nicotine. It wasn’t until I started to realize that I was living an irresponsible life that I came to the realization that I had the power to change. When I started to care about my success and my future I began to realize how what I was doing on a daily basis was not in harmony with what I wanted my future to be.

Until I started to care about my life and my future I lived a very selfish life, caring only for my desires and considering only my point of view. I found that as my relationship with myself improved so did my relationships with and empathy towards others.

This seems to be a paradox, isn’t caring about Your future and Your life selfish? The first time I learned this concept of starting with yourself and only being able to make true change from the inside out I was confused by this. But through applying this principle and working on myself first I come to understand how true it is. When you think of this at a deeper level it makes perfect sense;

How can you be considerate of others well being when you do not consider your own? How can you love others if you do not love yourself? How can you truly give of yourself if you do not know what it is to have for yourself?

This is what Covey means when he describes an inside out approach in The 7 Habits. Focusing first on what you can improve in yourself rather than the improvements you want to see in others. This principle is true in all areas of life and was shared by Jesus in one of his timeless parables when he said in Matthew 7:3

How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Often we see the broken world around us and can so easily get wrapped up in all the ways people, policies and government need to change. If we instead realize that real change begins with us we can first work on improving our lives through gaining the knowledge, energy and resources necessary to make a lasting difference. Only then will we have the power to “Expand our circle of influence” as Covey suggests towards the greater goal of improving the situation around us.

Featured Photo: courtesy of Pixabay

Citations

Covey, Stephen R. “Habit 1: Be Proactive.” The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. N. pag. Print.

“Matthew 7:3-5.” NIV Bible. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2007. N. pag. Print.

The Failure Payoff

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For me personally, it is easy to become discouraged and feel that I am not achieving all that I should be or that I am not at a level of social expectations for my age. I look at the success stories of others younger than me making millions or contributing to huge social movements and think, what am I doing wrong with my life. It can be tempting to look at these success stories and think, well if they had all this success already I should at least have done this or have this job, or this much money. To feel guilty about where you are currently in comparison. But that is just our minds playing tricks on us.

In fact the reality is that these stories are not the majority. Many great leaders, and legendary figures we idolize today had their fair share of turmoil in life or did not achieve so-called worldly success until later in life. I am currently reading “A Team of Rivals” a biography of the life of Abraham Lincoln. It gives me great hope to learn that such a monumental figure in American history touted as the pillar of strength and character; struggled with thoughts of suicide in his twenties, was not good with the ladies and at one point in his career alienated himself from all his previous political allies with a costly poor decision. Lincoln and other great leaders were far from perfect and had to fail their way to success.

At 23, JK Rowling was broke. Tina Fey was working at the Y.M.C.A. Oprah had just gotten fired from her first job as a TV reporter and Walt Disney had declared bankruptcy.

I’m 23, and not long ago I was completely lost about what direction I wanted to take my life in. I still don’t have all the answers but I am much less anxious now that I have dreams and goals at the forefront of my mind and plans arranged on how to get there. When I was struggling at this time, my best friend shared these facts with me that really drove the concept home that it is not too late to achieve incredible dreams. The expert above was taken from Thought Catalog and is by Heidi Priede entitled “Read This If You’re 23 and Lost” I would greatly recommend reading the entire piece.

“Defeat, like a headache, warns us that something has gone wrong. If we are intelligent we look for the cause and profit by the experience. “ – Napoleon Hill

This really drove the concept home for me that to truly succeed you must first fail. All of the great individuals in any calling that we celebrate had some type of struggle that they persevered through to come out on the other side to find their version of success. Napoleon Hill believed that the amount of trials and tribulations that you face and push through is equally proportionate to  the amount of success you will receive as a reward for that learning experience. I share this belief, the more I look back on my life the more I can see how each negative situation I encountered or mistakes I made taught me a valuable lesson, that even if I did not realize at the time, has benefited me in the knowledge gained later in life.

What I aim to get across is not to lose hope. Remember in your moments of failure the great figures of history who also failed and genuine smile with the realization that you just gained one more feature in common with one of your idols. One of Robin Sharma’s “50 New Rules of Work” is

“20. If you’re not failing regularly, you’re definitely not making much progress”

Remember this today, and have the courage to dust yourself off and get back up again. Have an excellent rest of your week. Run towards your resistances, and if you fail, benefit from those failures!

Featured Image courtesy of Flickr

Citations 

Rager, Michael. Don’t Be Afraid To Fail. Digital image. Micahelrager.com. Digital Impact Agency, 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.

Priebe, Heidi. “Read This If You’re 23 And Lost.” Thought Catalog. The Thought & Expression Co., 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.

Hill, Napoleon. The Law of Success. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008. Print.

Sharma, Robin. “The 50 New Rules of Work.” Robin Sharmas Blog. Sharma Leadership International, 2015. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.

Steps For Daily Improvement

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In my last blog (I know it was forever ago) I mentioned that I would be posting this and now the time has finally come. In my previous post, Taking Back the Journal, I talked about how starting and maintaining a journal can assist you on your journey to self-improvement and now I am going to elaborate on that concept. I by no means claim to have all the answers and I am far from so-called “worldly success” I am simply offering a method that works for me in my life that I have adopted from others who have achieved such success.

It is my hope that you have taken my advice and begun keeping a journal. This is my suggested first step for daily improvement. I have included the full framework below, it is in no way a full proof or perfect system but it is my hope that these steps will offer some helpful tips on your journey towards self discovery and improvement. 

  1. Journal.

          Begin writing regularly, I would suggest daily but if you miss a day here or                   there it is not the end of the world.

          What should I journal about?

          Try to recall your day, how you felt when you woke up, your level of energy, what you did when you first woke up. Take notice to the routines you have throughout your day and the interactions you have with others. Many times recalling and writing about the activities of your day improves your memory and allows you to realize patterns and routines in your life you may have been unaware of previously.

  1. Reflection.

After a month or so of doing this set aside some time, at least an hour or two, to read over your journal entries from the month and take notice to any negative patterns or routine behaviors  you may not have realized before. Ask yourself some of the following questions and be honest.

  • Are my daily actions in line with the goals I want to achieve?
  • Am I taking the steps that will allow me to achieve my goals?  
  • Are my actions in harmony with my values?
  • In regards to my interactions with others, am I the type of person I would want to spend  time with?
  • Do I have any destructive habits in my life?

These are difficult questions and it is easy to become discouraged and feel that you are inadequate and a failure, but this is not the case. The first step to real change is recognizing your ignorance and shortcomings and then having the courage to face those areas you want to improve head on.

Ambrose Redmoon said it best,Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

  1. Select it.

This brings us to the next important step, action! Select ONE area that you identified you want to improve in your life over the next few months. I suggest working to improve one area at a time because it allows you concentrate your efforts and not become overwhelmed. It is easy to fall into the trap of “Decision Paralysis” as it is referred to in “The Switch” by Dan and Chip Heath. Our logical minds love solving problems and if we focus on all the numerous ways we need to improve our lives and how to go about doing it we will become paralyzed by the plethora of decisions to be made. I would go even further and suggest picking a goal that can be achieved within one to three months. Achieving small successes in life often gives you the needed boost of motivation to go on and achieve larger and more difficult goals.

  1. Schedule it!

What gets scheduled, gets completed. Create a plan of improvement for the one area you selected to work on. If your goal is to lose weight, set a specific goal to a achieve within the next 1 to 3 months, say lose 5 to 10 pounds. How are you going to do this? For this example the solution would be to change your eating habits and begin an exercise program. For goals where the needed changes are unsure you may want to do some research. Schedule times in your week when you will go grocery shopping and plan out ahead of time the healthy items you are going to buy. Schedule a time in the night or the morning when you will make your healthy lunch for the day. Plan out when you will go to the gym, even if you start with only one or two days a week for 30 minutes or less, sticking to the schedule is a positive habit to cultivate.

  1. Track It!

Continue to journal while you are working on this process and take notice of positive improvements. Take the time to feel good about yourself when you stuck to your schedule or completed a goal. Tracking your progress will allow you to see the improvements you have made and give you something to be proud of. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have perfect days or if you have an off day, pick yourself back up and have a plan to come back strong tomorrow. James Clear of www.jamesclear.com suggests that you brainstorm all the things, big or small that may sidetrack you from achieving your goals and create a plan of how you are going to get started again when you get knocked off course. Listen to the full podcast here.  This is great advice the more you are honest with yourself the better the chance you have to succeed in achieving your goals. The act of tracking your actions on a daily basis is so important because simply being aware of what we are actually doing, not what we say we do, is a reality check that often inspires us to enact real change.

  1. Achieve It!

I struggle daily with steps and am in no way perfect, I still have many areas of my life I am working to improve. The important thing is to not lose hope or give up. You are not going to be 100%, 100% of the time. We all have the days when we are not feeling our best or unexpected circumstances arise. What remains important is keeping the end goal in mind, remembering what we are working towards, sticking with the schedule, and being honest with ourselves on how we are doing. As we hold ourselves to this higher standard of excellence we must not condemn or belittle ourselves in our progress but instead live by what Jim Collins refers to as the Stockdale Principle,

“ We must confront the brutal facts of our current situation, but at the same time maintain absolute and unwavering faith that we will prevail in the end.”

Additional Resources 

Please consider these great resources for Self Improvement in your Daily Life.

“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey, Book

“The One You Feed Podcast, Episode 054: James Clear” by Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes, www.oneyoufeed.net

“The Switch” by Dan and Chip Heath, Book

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do” by Charles Duhigg, Book

If you live a busy and hectic life and find it difficult to make time for reading I would suggest trying Audible. If you have a long drive to work or are frequently on the move, Audible allows you to consume the reading while completing the menial tasks throughout your day.

Taking Back The Journal

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     If you are serious about self improvement and are looking for a tool to help you on your journey I would highly suggest starting a daily journal. Keeping a journal has many benefits; it allows you to consider your goals and track them on a daily basis. Through the use of a journal you can write about your dreams and create plans on how to achieve them. Talking or writing yourself through a difficult situation you are having can help to bring about creative solutions you may not have uncovered otherwise. Writing about a time that upset you or drafting a letter to someone who angered you and then throwing it can be therapeutic and help you to make it through difficult times.

If you are a man reading this who has never journaled before you may be thinking, “Oh boy, I can’t wait to go out and get a sparkly diary with a lock and key so I can write about how Betty has more Barbies me than me.” As a man it can be tempting to look upon writing out your thoughts and processing emotions as a feminine need and not a strong male characteristic, I once thought this way.

Recently I watched the new Vacation movie where Rusty Griswald  attempts to take his family on a vacation to Walley World and meets with mishaps along the way. Rusty’s oldest son James is characterized as an awkward teen who is picked on by his younger brother, doesn’t know how to talk to girls and is considered a nerd by others in the film including his own father. As they are getting ready to begin their trip when James comes running to the car with a stack of books which he tells his mother are his Dream Book, Journal, Wish List and Travel Log. Rusty comments to his wife sarcastically, ” Oh come on honey, every boy his age has a stack of diaries.” and this gets a laugh.

This depiction of a young man keeping a journal to be something laughable, nerdy, unmanly and at the least odd is carried over in other pop culture. Napoleon Dynamite keeps a journal and dream book, Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower writes letters about his life experiences and Ricky in American Beauty keeps a series of vlogs (video logs) depicting his life experiences.

Yet many of the great men from history we idolize today kept journals. Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Winston Churchill; to name but a few. These were stoic men, strong, powerful and unwavering in their mission. Churchill when facing Hitler and the might of the Nazi forces crushing all who stood against them took a firm stance and said, “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Abraham Lincoln, arguably the greatest president this country has ever seen, had a chance to end the Civil War on July 4, 1863. It was the very night after the Battle of Gettysburg and General Lee retreated with his army Southward, the only thing between them and escape the swollen Potomac river. The Union army was right on their tails with General Meade at the head. Lincoln, seeing the opportunity to overtake the retreating Confederate army and end the war sent a special messenger to Meade demanding that he not call a council of war but instead attack immediately. Meade instead did the exact opposite calling a council of war, refusing to attack and sending back excuses in response to direct orders until the waters of the Potomac receded and Lee’s forces were able to retreat. An angered Lincoln wrote the following letter to Meade after this incident.

    My dear General,

I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within our easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so south of the river, when you can take with you very few—no more than two-thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect and I do not expect that you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it.

After writing this rebuking letter Lincoln placed it in his desk never to be seen by Meade or another until after his death when it was discovered among his papers. Lincoln realized the importance of constructively letting out his anger, not upon others, but instead through the writing process which can do no harm.

It is for these reasons among others that I suggest as men we need to take journaling back for our gender. This is my call to action. Coming soon I will be including tips on how to use your journal as Steps for Daily Improvement in my next blog. For now I suggest you start your journey towards improvement one day at a time keeping in mind the legacy you will leave behind as the aforementioned men did. Be bold and journal on.

Additional Reasons for Journaling (If you are still not convinced)

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/06/07/30-days-to-a-better-man-day-8-start-a-journal/

http://www.easyjournaling.com/2011/07/101-reasons-to-write-a-journal/

http://www.existing2living.com/10-reasons-to-keep-a-daily-journal/

Citations

1. Carnegie, Dale. “Part 1, 1- If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over                      the Beehive.” How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon                and Schuster, 1981. N. pag. Print.

2. McKay, Brett and Kate. “How and Why to Start a Journal | The Art of                          Manliness.” 30 Days to A Better Man. The Art of Manliness, 07 June 2009.                Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

3. “Winston Churchill Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

4. “Looking At Lincoln Through A Prism of War.” The New York Times. N.p.,                 21 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

Know Thyself

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This is the seemingly simplistic command from the Ancient Greek philosophers that has left us continuing the quest centuries later. Two simple words that require a lifetime to master. This one concept has taken root and grown into millions of books sold on self management, courses on the subject, the entire motivational speaker and teacher career and beyond. Because it is that important!

Recently I finished Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker, a great classic that broadly covers self management. From it I gained some new insight on this subject and am sharing some concepts from the book coupled with my own experience and sprinkled with invaluable learning from other books I have studied. I truly believe that the more you learn about yourself, the more opportunity you have to improve and market yourself for whatever your goal in life may be. This is merely a brief snapshot of the larger collage of ways to answer the call, Know Thyself. Enjoy.

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Know your Dreams 

I believe first and foremost you must know your goals and dreams, where do you envision yourself in the future? What do you daydream about during your day? What did you always want to do but never thought possible? What do you want your legacy to be? Use The Dream Manager method and set aside a time to write out a list of 100 goals or dreams you wish to achieve with consideration to each of the 5 categories. Come back to your list in a few days to a week and organize the items in your list into 3 categories; short, medium and long term goals. You may now begin to plan and schedule your goals.

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Know Your Strengths 

Second, know your strengths and weaknesses. In Managing Oneself, Drucker says that many people think they know what they are good at but are often wrong. More often they know what they are not good at. He suggests using feedback analysis to get a true sense of your strengths. What is feedback analysis? Anytime you have a big decision to make or an important action to take, write down what results you expect to achieve. In 9 to 12 months look back over your notes and see how accurate you were. This is a good system to adopt but I would suggest going even further, especially if you are looking for more timely feedback.

1.  When you start your day, write down what you want to, and believe you can accomplish throughout the course of your day.

2. Before going to bed, journal about your day and take notice to whether or not              you achieved your intentions you set in the morning

3. The following morning or after writing in your jouranl about your day, repeat the process and write out yet another list of what you want to accomplish for the day.

4. After a few weeks or a month compare your daily intentions to your journal and take notice to how you did.

Note: If you are a numbers person you could even calculate the percentage of how well you did with achieving your goals .

Example:

Week 1.

25 Intentions set

15  Achieved

Week 2.

27 Intentions set

24  Achieved

Week 3.

30 Intentions set

25 Achieved

Week 4.

35 Intentions set

30 Achieved

Intentions for the Month: 117

Achieved: 94

94/117 = .8034 or   80% of Intentions (Goals) Achieved

Analyzing the actions you take on a daily basis will give you insight into what your strengths are by noting which tasks you achieved consistently and with ease.

Quote - Strength vs Weakness

Know Your Weaknesses 

Using this method will also give you insight into your weaknesses. Are there similar goals that you find difficult or bothersome to accomplish? Do you put off working towards your goals till the last minute? Also, when you journal you may also start to notice patterns of bad habits that you habitually perform (In my next blog I will talk about correcting bad habits). Be honest with yourself about areas you need to work on but treat yourself with kindness when working towards improvement.

Business man holding a card with smiling face.

Know your Personality 

How do you interact with others? Are you emotionally balanced or reactive? An introvert or an extrovert? Knowing these key facts about yourself allows you to place yourself in situations where you will thrive; either in social settings, professionally, or in personal relationships. If you are an introvert it is likely that you feel most comfortable alone and complete your best work in that setting. If you are more spontaneous than disciplined it may be helpful to ask your supervisor at work to give you goals and guidelines to help keep you focused. I recently took an online test to determine how accurate my assumptions were about personality. The test turned out to be more in depth and accurate than I assumed it would be and I would recommend taking it. The test can be taken at seemypersonality.com.

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Know Your Values

Values make up a huge part of who you are and are the basis of decisions you make on a daily basis. Integrity is knowing what your values are and acting in accordance with those values in every decision in your life. It is being fully integrated, you are who you say you are, you do what you say you do. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has a lot to say about this concept and in Habit 3, Put First Things First, Covey suggests that your mission statement should come first backed by values. What are values? Dictionary.com defines the term as “To consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance” and “to regard or esteem highly”. This suggests that values are integral to our sense of self and should be examined closely but many shy away from clearly defining what those values should be for an individual. Steven Covey is open and frank about his opinion on this subject and I agree with his stance. He suggests that correct principles are fundamental to all human beings and as such we should value these principles by integrating them into our daily life. What are correct principles? Covey lists a few in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; honesty, fairness, integrity, contribution as well as each of the 7 habits. I would suggest reading this timeless book as well as Laws of Success, and the Autobiographies of great men throughout the decades to understand the importance and consistency of correct principles. I myself am starting A Team of Rivals to gain insight into Abraham Lincoln’s guiding principles.

change-is-growth

Learning about yourself and the world around you is a never ending journey that you continuously improve upon. Covey calls this process The Upward Spiral and the business buzzword for it is Kaizen, which literally translates Kai-Change, Zen- Good, Good Change. Whatever you call this process it exists and it is powerful. As I continue to learn and grow I will share with you the insight I gained from experience and learning in the hopes that something I say will make a positive difference for you or act as that aha! moment for you.

Keep checking back, next i will be suggesting Steps for Daily Improvement, Are You A Listener or A Reader and more Podcasts to come! Your support and feedback is greatly appreciated. Until next time, Keep Improving!

Citations 

“Value.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015.

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. London: Simon & Schuster, 2005. Print.

Drucker, Peter F. Managing Oneself. Boston, MA: Harvard Business, 2008. Print.

“Take Your Free Personality Test.” Highly Accurate Free Personality Test. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015.

Kelly, Matthew. The Dream Manager. New York: Hyperion, 2007. Print.

Traveler. “Debunked: Kaizen=Japanese Philosophy of Continuous Improvement.” Home Japan. Home Japan, 09 Mar. 2009. Web. 28 Aug. 2015.

Profiting From Temporary Defeat

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The road to success is not a freeway, often there are bumps and detours along the way. Without temporary pitfalls, there would be know learning from hardships. Every “overnight” success first had to stumble through tough times before they strode out victorious. The key is to learn from the hardships. Often when we get knocked down, it is tempting to say to ourselves, “I knew this would happen” but such thinking does not lead to success. If it seems that I am coming off harshly, I apologize, it is only because this message is aimed at myself.

I have often heard that it is best to attack the toughest thing you have to do for the day first and the momentum of self confidence you gain from such a big achievement will carry you through your other necessary tasks with ease throughout the rest of your day. I try to live by this principle, but today the first thing I did on the first day of the week on the first day in a new position was to sleep through my alarm. Not exactly the first big task I was looking to tackle. The question then becomes, how do you get back on track without a mistake or setback affecting the rest of your day?

I believe the key lies in not letting it become a failure, but instead a temporary defeat. Dale Carnegie says that if you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. If you missed an appointment you made with someone or forgot an important deadline, admit it to yourself and then admit it to that person through apology. Completing this step is so important because it allows you to release the worry and start fresh. Holding on to negative thoughts towards a mistake that you made only leads to increased negative action throughout the rest of your day which can negatively affect you, your work and others with whom you interact with.

I am currently reading Good to Great by Jim Collins and coincidentally the chapter I read today correlated to this topic. The author describes what he calls the Stockdale Principle as follows; “have unwavering faith in what you are working to accomplish but at the same time face the absolute reality of your current situation.” When you make a mistake, and you will, the most important thing you can do is admit it to yourself first and foremost. This ties in with the principle of confronting the brutal facts. But don’t see it as an ultimate defeat and allow discouragement and despair creep in, have unwavering faith that you can and will recover and then take action, forgive yourself and apologize to the person you wronged or tackle your first big to-do if there is no one but yourself to forgive.

Release your guilt. After doing so you will regain some of your energy to get back on track with achieving your goals for the rest of your day. At the end of your day reflect on what you accomplished and use the mistake as a learning experience to take you into tomorrow with purpose.

 

References

Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap–and Others Don’t. New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001. Print.

Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981. Print.

Purpose

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My vision for josiahloye.com is to assist others in becoming the best versions of themselves through the sharing of ideas from; personal experience, insight from others and books with the aide of blog posts, podcasts and other media across the 12 areas of personal mastery. I believe balance is key in life and constantly working towards improvement in all areas of your life leads to success.

But what is success you may ask? The word success is so often loosely thrown around that it is often looked upon with contempt or is thought of as some far off dream only for fortunate. Success is defined as “1 The favorable of prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.” When you look at the word for what it is it does not seem so far off or impossible. The verb tense of success is to succeed, so every time you set a goal and achieve it you have succeeded, you are a success, and you are successful. That is when why when Napoleon Hill read aloud to himself every morning “Day by day, in every way I am becoming more and more successful” he was not lying to himself. If you set goals consistently and achieve them consistently you may say this of yourself as well.

If you set  short, medium and long term goals to accomplish in all of the areas of your life as you reach your goals, at first only the small ones, your small success will give you momentum to continue on towards the larger goals. Hold yourself accountable and share your dreams with others that will hold you accountable. Consider the words of Thoreau from Walden “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” My site is here merely as a pit stop along the road to success offering you inspiration, motivation and hopefully a helping hand on your journey.

Over The Edge: Episode 1

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Brian Dohner website pic

Over The Edge © is about giving individuals the courage and inspiration to chase after their dreams through the sharing of stories. Brian Dohner has one such story. Brian was born and raised in the Lebanon Valley and lived there for a good part of his life until he decided he needed to make a change and uprooted, moving to Atlanta Georgia. Brian has been there for the past 20 years, competing in natural bodybuilding and swim competitions, locally and around the world, all while maintaining a demanding full time job as the controller for an interior landscaping company. Brian also enjoys sharing his knowledge with others through personal training and educating them on the necessary steps to reach their specific goals.

During our conversation Brian shares how he balances the many different facets of his busy life. He explains what motivates him to push through his training, even on the tough days. Brian has some unconventional lifting and diet tips that he reveals really help to give him that edge over the competition. He believes that staying positive and balancing the different aspects of your life is important to success. And he offers his answer to question, “What does it take to go Over The Edge”.

Most recently Brian competed in Sweden alongside 900 competitors in a 3 day swimming event and captured a silver and bronze medal. He continues to train as well as help others with their training and can be reached at 404-661-7172 or paleega@yahoo.com for any questions or correspondence.

Over The Edge Episode 4: Simon Rogers

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Over The Edge Episode 3: Deborah Joyner

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