Your Character Matters More than Your Success

 

This post is not a, “How to,” it’s a, “How to Be.” What’s happening inside of you, your character, is more important than anything else you can pursue. Success doesn’t matter if you put your character on the back burner. The news is filled with stories of leaders who have ‘gained the world’ but have failed miserably in that department. photo_family_beach copy

Here’s an example of what I mean. Many people on the internet are looking for legitimate ways to “change their lives,” and that’s a noble pursuit. What do you typically see? People writing about, “How to Make More Money,” “How to Build Bigger Email Lists,” or “How to Have the Job of Your Dreams as a Writer,” etc.

I’m not at all criticizing those programs. There are many great ones out there. But they are missing something very critical to a successful life and it’s this: It’s not what you do, or what you accumulate that matters, It’s who you are becoming.

It doesn’t matter if I have all of the money and influence in the world if I’m not living for the things that matter most to me. If I’m not becoming a better person, a better father, a better husband and more inspirational leader, my pursuits will eventually turn up empty. I’ve failed in these areas before in my life and it was painful.

The Internal vs. the External

As I’ve coached a number of CEO’s over the years, many find themselves internally bankrupt. They’ve achieved high levels of success but when they climbed to the top, there was nothing there. They lived their lives for EXTERNAL things (money, fame, power, control) and did little to focus on the INTERNAL things, (purpose, meaning, values, vision). It’s a common mistake on the road to success.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Please listen carefully to me, the way to achieve REAL success in life, is to spend serious time building your character and crafting what’s on the inside.

An externally driven person focuses on ego and the things that need to be acquired to satiate their ego. It’s all about what they can do to get their needs met. Whether they like it or not, these leaders often see others as a means to an end.  (more…)

You’re Failing Because of the Negative Coach in Your Brain

Why do you wake up some days and feel inspired, engaged and connected while other days you feel like every ounce of focus and determination has been drained from your body in your sleep? Is it just a mood swing or are their deeper things happening you are not aware of? You may even be listening to a negative coach in your mind you don’t even know exists. I’m going to show you how one simple change can drastically increase your self-belief and motivation levels every single day. photo_happy_chemicals

I started studying positivity and negativity after watching many years of youth sports. Here is what I discovered. There are some coaches who are amazing at getting the best out of their teams. They say the right things and motivate their players with purpose and positive affirmations. These types of coaches get incredible performance out of their teams. They win many games they should lose.

Then there are coaches who have very talented teams that should be winning most of their games. But they lose more than they should. Much of the time it’s not because of the talent of the players. It’s because of the negativity of the coach. They yell and say condemning things, and create stress and anxiety in their players. The result? The players shut down, they are unmotivated and even humiliated. Biologically, they can’t optimally perform at this point even if they wanted to.

The Negative Coach in Our Minds

This is very similar to what happens to each of us in life. Too many times, the negative coach in our minds is the predominant voice we hear and it wrecks our ability to stay motivated and engaged.

You need to pay very close attention to this if: (1) You are struggling with your vision and your life call, (2) You find it difficult to stay inspired and motivated (3) You really want to be a better leader, friend, spouse or parent but can’t seem to be consistent with your words and your love for others or (4) You are often fighting negative thoughts and emotions.

We need to get to the bottom of these issues if we want to change. You have to find the root and pull it out. The good news is that if you can change this one thing, you will see up to a 10X growth in many areas of your life. (more…)

Your Life Doesn’t Belong to You. Get it Back.

 

All our lives we are told what we can’t do and what we have to do. It’s time to focus on what you can do and what you want to do. I’m not talking about a hedonistic life that is ‘all about me.’ I’m talking about living the kind of life that is most who you are. A life that is aligned by your values – the things that are most important to you. photo_man_sad_beard copy

But we are slaves to the system. Our lives don’t look the way we want them to. Many of us have jobs we don’t care about. We are over our heads in debt with stuff that doesn’t satisfy, and we would be doing something different if we could. If others could look inside of our heads they would see that we are dissatisfied, often unhappy, stressed, frustrated, even angry.

And yet life continues to pass by.

A Harvard Business report said that job satisfaction was at a 23 year low. Young adults are refusing to grow up with 32.1% still living with their parents. Antidepressant use has surged almost 400 percent in the last 10 years and a report that just came out on August 4th said, People living in the U.S. are less happy than before the recession.

So who is in control?

“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? ~ T. S. Eliot

Now, most people will say there are external reasons for this: not enough money, wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, we are stressed and leaning on games and gadgets, we are tired, we are scared, the world is an unsafe place, etc. And while these things may be true, I’m going to call B.S. on these reasons being responsible for our unhappiness and ultra-low satisfaction with life.

There’s only 1 primary reason people are feeling this way.

We are unhappy because we are not living for the things that deeply matter to us. We know it deep down inside and it haunts us. We aren’t living for our values and we don’t know what to do about it. In other words, these issues are internal not external.

Prospect Theory, formulated by Psychologists Daniel Kahneman of Princeton and Amos Tversky of Standford, proves that we make decisions mostly out of emotional and social pressures. These decisions are often flawed because we are rarely emotionally healthy and the decision is mostly about what we want in the short-term.  (more…)

You Can’t Change Because You Won’t Change

If you’re dreams are dying it could be because you don’t understand the power of what I’m about to tell you. What are the 5 most important things in your life? Family? Spirituality? Hope? Success? Integrity? Chances are you aren’t clear about what the 5 things are and even if you did, your behavior is proving they aren’t important to you. You know you need to change but you won’t. It’s true, you can’t change because you won’t change. You’re part of the 95% of people who have joined the ‘cult of average club.’ They are good people, nice people, but they are people who leave the most important things in their lives on the table. photo_life_man_son copy

One reason is that people don’t have a clue about the underlying forces that drive their behavior.  Most people refer to these as ‘values’ and they are some of the most important things to get clear in your life if you want to live a life filled with rhythm and purpose. Otherwise, you will regularly feel stressed, frustrated, and purposeless.

What’s happened to every single one of us, is that we have allowed certain behaviors to be implanted into our lives that aren’t important to us. Why? Because they’ve worked for us at one time. We may have derived a short-term pleasure from the behavior or we may have received certain accolades and attention for those behaviors. So we do them again and again, until they formed a habit. Here’s the problem, once they don’t work for us anymore, we  are still stuck in those behaviors because they have become automatic. They are fixed in our lives as a habit.

Here’s what Charles Duhigg says about it, author of the book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. “A behavior becomes a habit, as it becomes automatic, it moves into the basal ganglia, which is one of the oldest structures in our brain and it’s near the center of our skull. And when things happen in the basal ganglia, it doesn’t feel like thought. That’s why a habit feels automatic, is because it’s happening in this part of your brain that for all intents and purposes, from what we think of as thinking, is completely exempt from that process.”

In other words, once a habit is formed, we often don’t even realize it’s there anymore. We still get the short-term reward for the habit, but it can often cause discouragement and anxiety in our life because it’s not really what we want to be doing.

I believe in the power of programming new habits so much, I radically changed my life. I knew that I was too locked into old patterns and desperately needed a change and a fresh start. So we got rid of everything in our lives, sold the cars, got out of debt, left what was familiar and moved to Barcelona, Spain.

It’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself and my family in the last 10 years and this decision is going to completely change the course of our lives. I’m sold out to the vision and so are my wife and kids. Every one of them will tell you, even in spite of the hard days, it’s been one of the most powerful things they’ve ever done. Now, you don’t have to move overseas, but you are going to have to do something radical in your life to get to where you want to go. Here’s why.

How Can I Change?

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How to Double Your Success in Everything

 

How would you like to double the quality of what you write? Or double the depth of your personal relationships? How about doubling your overall success? You can double the success of anything you want by using this technique proven by neuroscience. It’s called Positive Intention.

I am all about getting a higher return on anything I can in life. My time, my investments, my kids activities, or my experiences. Why do something with half the results? The sad fact is many people choose to live this way. They don’t take the time to optimize. If they did, their results would outperform the best Wall Street stocks. photo_success_redrocks copy

If you are a network marketer, a business person, an athlete, a speaker, a mom who is CEO of the house, or most anybody who is trying to improve, embrace this technique with everything you have because it will change your life. `

 It’s called “Mind’s Eye Rehearsal,” which is about using your mind to capitalize on the strengths of past events in your life. The idea is that if you have really excelled at something in the past, you can repeat it again in the future with similar or better results. The best thing is that what I’m about to tell you is backed by tons of research so you be assured of its value. It’s also one of the greatest ways to strengthen the neural pathways in your brain, making it easier to repeat the behavior next time.

There are two reasons for this according to Caroline Webb in her book, How to Have a Good Day.

  1. Our brains activate in a similar way when we’re visualizing something as when we are living it for real. Researchers have found the overlap to be between 60 percent and 90 percent.
  2. The more you rehearse a certain behavior, the stronger the neural pathway becomes in our brain. That’s why practice makes perfect. It’s behaviourally driven.

Why? Because neurons in your brain make connections with one another. They communicate through something called synapses. As you grow and learn new things those connection begin to change. The more you make the same connection, the easier it is to reactivate that behavior or skill. This is one of the reasons our brains continue to change throughout our lives because of something called neuroplasticity. I’ve written more about it here, “How Positivity Rewires Your Brain.

Practicing Mind’s Eye Rehearsal

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How to Increase Creativity in Anything You Do

 

Creativity is the key to great writing, meaningful work, deep relationships and inspiring leadership. The key to knowing how to be more creative lies in understanding how our brains work. It’s more simple than you might think.

Everyday our brains are scanning the horizon of our circumstances in order to know what to do. Every email we read, each Facebook post we scan, and every conversation we engage, tells our brains what to do next and engages the appropriate behavior. photo_lightbulb copy

Our brains are built to function in one of two ways: (1) Threat or (2) Reward. Everyday we are constantly trying to avoid threat and embrace reward. The more we condition our brains to see less threat and more reward, the more creative we will be.

There is a simple reason for this. Stress and threat release hormones that shut down our creativity called adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. These hormones are good for you when you are fighting or running for your life. But, they don’t work in your favor if you are trying to be creative.

When we see the world through a reward based framework, our brains release “happy chemicals,” such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. These chemicals help us to feel more creative and motivated. We are more likely to accomplish our goals such as, coming up with a brilliant idea, finish writing the next chapter of a book, excel at your next athletic event, or just simply having an incredible day with your family. (more…)

Why You Need the Michelangelo Phenomenon to be the Real You

Just under the surface of your life is a person able to fulfill your deepest longings and dreams. Someone incredible who is filled with love, peace and joy. It’s who you really want to be when you are completely honest with yourself. This is who you really are deep down inside. But it is difficult to let that person emerge from their shell so they can be fully seen. This is called, ‘the authentic me.’ Michelangelo knew how this felt.photo_artist_paint_copy

Understanding this truth, helped him become one of the greatest artists in the world and he applied this principle to specific sculpture he called, “David.” He is known as the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance and among his other works are the Sistine Chapel frescoes in Rome, Vatican city and Pietà which depicts the Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus who is lying on her lap after the Crucifixion.

The realization of what Michelangelo discovered became known as The Michelangelo Phenomenon.

David was sculpted out of a block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces. What’s interesting is that this same block of marble was twice rejected by other artists and sat 40 years waiting for the hands of Michelangelo. Like many of us, people lied about its potential and kept in the shadows of false pretenses and unworthiness.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Everyone of us is like that block of stone, there’s greatness inside, but it has to be released. It has to be carved out through hard work. It has to be sculpted by the individual who can perceive their own greatness. You must recognise it in yourself, but you can’t do it alone. You have to enlist the love and care of others.

Bringing out the Best of Yourself

The Michelangelo phenomenon is about others bringing out the very best of what inside you, in order for you to reach your fullest potential. You are the block of marble containing greatness inside. But you need the people who are in your life to chip away the excess and help shape the beauty within.

The world tells you the lies. You can’t reach your dreams, you are a failure, you cannot be the person you deeply desire to become. The list is endless. These lies are there to greet all of us around each corner of life’s road and they steal the hopes and passions of who we want to become. (more…)

Why This Is the Best Thing for Your Health

How you wake up in the morning sets the stage for the rest of your day. If you can’t get into a rhythm out of the gate, you will struggle to feel right and be focused. This 1 simple practice will help you change everything physically and mentally.

Many of my leadership clients are shocked when I tell them about the power of drinking a minimum of 16 oz of water as soon as they wake up in the morning. There are serious health and physiological benefits linked by science to this practice. Here’s why it’s a must and the reasons your body will flourish if you do. photo_water_sea-man-person-holiday copy

This is part of my Start Well/End Well Series.

You may have heard that the Japanese are known for living longer than most any people group in the world. One of the reasons they attribute to their longevity is drinking two full glasses of water when they wake up. These 7 reasons explain why they are so committed to drinking water and why you should be too.

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Is Comfort Causing Slow Death in Your Life?

Comfort sounds like such a wonderful word, doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t want to sit in their favorite chair, wrapped in a down filled comforter, in front of a crackling fire while watching their favorite TV show? There is nothing wrong with comfort until comfort becomes a way of life. Sit in that chair for too long, and you’ve got a problem.

I want to see your leadership go to a completely different level and help you be a person of depth. So often, leadership is focused on what you are doing. Things like goal setting, vision statements, and productivity. The better question is what are you learning? How are you being stretched? What new experiences are you forcing yourself to engage in? In what ways are you breaking out of your comfort zone and engaging in learning a new skill, a new language, or visiting places you’ve never been with the people you care about? True leadership is about who you are and who are you becoming201H
Living in complacency and comfort can leave us in a place where our creativity, adventure and vision are completely wiped out. Instead of helping us to feel rejuvenated, it often has the opposite effect and causes stagnation. If I’m not learning, I’m dying. According to Robert Quinn in his book, Deep Change, we are only moving in 1 of 2 directions. We are either in the process of deep change or slow death.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” — Abraham Maslow

The antidote to this is to create avenues in our lives where change is inevitable. In his book, Quinn says that, “one key to successful leadership is continuous personal change.  Personal change is a reflection of our inner  growth and empowerment.  Empowered leaders are the only ones who can induce real change.  They can forcefully communicate a level beyond telling.  By having the courage to change themselves, they model the behavior they are asking of others.” (more…)

How You Can Be Great at Anything

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Think about this: if you could be great at almost anything, what would it be? A sport? A skill? Leadership? Teaching? The guitar? So often people believe you have to be born with some genius level skill and that’s how you become great. But that is false.

What if I told you there was science proving that if you follow some important steps, you could actually be great at almost anything? Well, it’s true. So start dreaming. By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to do it. photo_soccer-men-grass-sport copy

I’ll never forget the time I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called, Outliers. It was the first time for me to hear of the 10,000 hour rule. Basically the rule is this: Gladwell states research based on many genius level performers, Mozart, The Beatles, Bill Gates, and other famous people who all became experts in their fields. How did they become great? They put in over 10,000 hours into their craft – 2.74 hours a day for 10 years. He called it, “the magic number of expertise.” This reseach wasn’t actually his. It was developed by a man named Anders Ericcson who has just released a new book called, Peak – Secrets from the new science of expertise. I highly recommend this book.

Why is it important to understand the truth behind this rule? Because you can be great at almost anything if you apply what’s below. “Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born. These conclusions are based on rigorous research that looked at exceptional performance using scientific methods that are verifiable and reproducible.” Or, perhaps you have a child who is particularly talented at music or sports and you want to help them become the best they can be. Here is the truth about how to reach those goals and become great:

The Myth of the 10,000 Rule

Gladwell wasn’t quite accurate. There’s no magic to 10,000 hours. Let me explain. If you text on your smartphone for 10,000 hours, it doesn’t mean you will become a great author. If you swing a baseball bat 10,000 times, it doesn’t mean you will make it to the major leagues. True, you will improve. But you need something else to be great. Here’s are 3 things that will help almost anyone be great at something: (more…)