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?

(more…)

Can the Bible Help Me Be More Positive?

 

Fear and negativity have become as common today as barbecues and movie theaters. Our world is steeped in it. These feelings and emotions are in direct contradiction to a life filled with wholeheartedness and purpose which are promises of a positive lifestyle. In the midst of our disappointment our challenge is to keep ourselves filled with hope and to have a strong, positive mindset. But how can we live that way? Can the Bible help us be more positive? Does it have anything to say about overcoming fear and living a life filled with good things? Photo_Bible_IICor

I chose to pursue a Masters in Theology and a Doctorate in Leadership because I wanted answers to the deeper questions in life such as these. I was also hamstrung with negativity and a terrible mindset. I saw problems with most everyone and everything around me. I thought life was a cruel joke and people were not to be trusted. The truths below have literally changed my life and help me live my values and the things in life that are important to me. They are simple yet powerful. I hope they impact you too.

3 Promises to Help You Live a Positive Life

 Romans 8:28“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

This is one of my personal favorite passages on hope and staying positive. NO matter what happens in our lives, God is actively working on our behalf to turn all things into good things. This means that in the middle of our darkest struggles we are not alone. We are not forgotten. And we are not orphaned. In no way does this mean God causes evil and calamity, but he inevitably brings good through everything that happens in life.  (more…)

This Shift Will Create More Love and Success in Your Life

Can we create more love and success in our lives? Absolutely. And a strange research study proves it. A man named Dr. Masuru Emoto conducted a study and found an usual path to success. He attempted to determine the effect that spoken words had on water. He chose words that communicated both love and hate, then immediately froze the water to see what effects the words would have. The results were fascinating.photo_man-stress-male-face copy

Words centered around love, gratitude, happiness and appreciation formed beautiful crystals resembling intricate snowflakes. Spoken words about hate, anger and war formed images that were black and deformed. Words literally had an impact on what happened to the water. It changed its structure. This should not come as too much of a shock to us. The ancient book of Proverbs, written sometime between the 10th and 6th centuries B.C., tells us that. “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Since research shows we are 60% water, we need to take this study seriously.

Change your words, change your life.

We are designed to be creative people. We create with our hands, our minds and with our words. Human beings have an innate ability to speak life and death over their lives and circumstances. This is one of our most powerful and overlooked abilities to bring about positive change. (more…)

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…)

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…)

Harness the Power of the Underdog

3 Ways you can implement the power of success

We don’t speak of the underdog too often. We speak about the powerful, the influential, the idea-makers, game-changers – the world class leaders. That is, unless the underdog becomes famous, then we talk about how amazing they are because they’re not underdogs anymore.

If you are an underdog, you should be grateful. If you feel like your vision, your idea, or your call are in obscurity and that no one is listening – I have good news for you. You could be in one of the best places in life. You are a secret weapon. Why? Because you will do things differently than everyone else. You will work harder. You will do what others will not. And, with persistence and hard work, you will eventually emerge from the crowd, your vision will become reality, and you will live your passion. photo_2giant-33507_1280

I love underdogs. That’s why I’ve spent much of my life helping widows and orphans. It’s the ‘weak things of the world that confound the wise.’ And I also love researching why certain people find ways to achieve extraordinary results.

“When you are an underdog, you are forced to try things you would have otherwise never attempted.” – Gladwell

People who come from the shadows into the limelight of all apply certain principles responsible for their success – and you can too. Take Howard Shultz for an example, now a billionaire. He grew up in the projects in Brooklyn before he founded Starbucks. Or, J.K. Rowling, a single mother in England who was living in abject poverty and was laughed at by publishers for her crazy book, Harry Potter. Or a little soccer team most people had never even heard of until this year that most people can’t even pronounce called Leicester City.

(more…)

Making Meaning Out of Your Mess – 4 Things I Learned While Shipwrecked

How do you find meaning in the mess?

What do you do when life doesn’t go quite according to plan? After years of hard work and tedious effort, you reach a place you never thought you would be – tired, burned out, and unhappy.

That’s what happened to me.

The good news is that this is one of the greatest places in life to find yourself. I know it’s counter intuitive but it is true.

Why? Because it is the place to rebuild and resurrect. What I mean is this: when you come to the end of yourself all of your defenses and pretences are down. There’s not much left to protect. Somewhere deep inside, you’ve resolved that you must change because life isn’t going according to plan. You must transform into the real you that’s been hidden.photo_man_water_rainbow_copy

You become like the mythological Phoenix who has come to an end of itself and is ready to be reborn. There is nowhere else to go but to turn inward and to God – it’s a perfect time to rediscover your passions and the things that matter most. You are finally in a place where you have the courage to blow up the old wineskins of your life that use to work for you and make way for something beautiful and new. Something amazing rises from those ashes.

The psychological notion of this is the ‘death of the ego.’ Richard Rohr says, that we live out of our egos the first half of our lives and spend the second half learning to live without fear and pursue the things that really matter to us. Or, “When you get your, ‘Who am I?’, question right, all of your, ‘What should I do?’ questions tend to take care of themselves, as he writes in his book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

Are We Going About Life the Wrong Way?

The idea is that we spend much of the beginning of our lives trying to find ‘containers’ that help to answer critical questions we face in life. Who am I? Do I matter? How can I support myself? Who will go with me?

In this ‘first half of life,’ we spend most of our time doing our best to answer these questions and then placing boundaries around them because they have become our identity. We get stuck.

This was similar to my predicament. I absolutely loved what I did. What I didn’t realize is that too much of my identity was wrapped up in it. Tom the author, Tom the speaker, Tom the orphan advocate and justice guy. None of these things are wrong by any means, I had just allowed myself to put too much stock in them. And the truth was, I really didn’t want to be some of them. Traveling all over the place was conflicting with the time I needed to spend with my wife and family. I ignored those signs and the issues got bigger. I was trying to protect containers, not what was inside of them.

Whatever identity I had was actually good and it was true. But now its not because my life has changed, the seasons have changed and what stands in front of me has changed. I had to dig deep and find the courage to walk a road that I didn’t know and that would only be made by walking. (more…)