Who You Are Is More Important than What You Do

 

Who are you? Many of us struggle to answer that simple question. The immediate response most give is to describe their job. “I’m an accountant,” “I work in the sales division of my company,” “I am a coach.” But that’s not the question. What we do is not who we are and it’s normal for people to get the two confused.

It takes time and commitment to do the deep work of really knowing who we are.

To become someone others believe in and in order to live with integrity, you must know the deeply held beliefs that drive you. What are the values, ideals and standards that make up the essence of who you are inside? When these things become clear, you will have the courage to live them. photo_man_suitandtie copy

Performance Driven vs. Principle Driven

A person who is performance driven is focused on results. It’s all about what they do and what they accomplish. How well they do on a task speaks to them about their value. For example, If I excel on a project (or for kids, if I excel at sports, school, music etc.), then everyone loves me and I get all kinds of positive attention. If I fail, or don’t do well, then it seems like others don’t value me as much. The internal message is that I am only as good as how I perform. People only care about me when I’m a winner so I become addicted to activity.

People in this category typically complain that their lives are out of balance, they don’t have time for anything and they are burned out. Their relationships are shallow and fractured. There is little margin for personal reflection and spiritual awareness and they cope by withdrawing or staying excessively busy and distracted. I know this type of person well because this is my propensity and it’s exactly where I found myself a few years ago. It was miserable.

I learned to value myself by results and performance as a child. Many of the messages we’ve come to believe get handed down to us from our childhood. Whether our caretakers knew it or not, they taught us how to value ourselves and those internal messages took deep root.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Plato

The truth is that we are all driven by results on some level. But how results affect a person who is centered on their principles (who I am) is much different. Results are simply what they do, it doesn’t define who they are.

When you are principle centered you have a deep sense of gratitude about your life and your gifts. Therefore you steward those gifts in the best way you can and you see them through your values (which you can learn more about here.) They shape you they don’t define you. Who you are is more important than what you do.
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Stop Short Changing Yourself and Create a Meaningful Life

5 things to do that make life beautiful

I’m wondering if you’re like many people I speak with who don’t have the kind of life they really want? What does it take to create a meaningful life? How do you focus on doing things that are important and meaningful to you?

According to a recent survey, only 33% of Americans feel happy, content and satisfied. I’m sure results are similar in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.

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People feel trapped inside jobs they don’t like, too much time is spent on things they don’t care about, they aren’t living for what matters most, and they have almost lost hope that it will ever be any different. In short, they’ve thrown in the towel and have come to terms with being a ‘spoke in the wheel.’

Have you ever felt this way? First, I understand those thoughts can seem very real. But they are what I call, “victim speak.” Saying these kinds of words over and over is what gives negativity power in your life and makes you feel discouraged and hopeless. Victim speak occurs whenever you believe that someone or something is responsible for your unhappy state of affairs. For example, “I’m stuck in this awful job because I can’t get anyone else to hire me,” or, “I can never get ahead because I can barely bring in enough money to pay my bills,” “I can’t succeed because of the bad economy.”

There’s only 1 way to defeat this kind of negativity. Take your power back! Whenever you allow these thoughts into your mind, you give them power over your life and circumstances. Power to control what you think and who you are becoming. Taking your power back is acknowledging that although you may feel this way now, your have the power to reject those statements and do something IN THE PRESENT to create a more meaningful life. The kind of life that matters most to you.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from the most successful people I know on how to create change NOW and have more meaning in your life:

(1) Cast a HUGE vision for your life and do 1 thing everyday that gets you closer to it. (more…)

4 Things I’ve Learned Without a CAR for 1 Year

IMG_1619 copy2As a family we did one of the craziest things on the planet 1 year ago. We moved our family to Barcelona, Spain. It’s truly been the greatest adventure of our lives! Because we chose to live in the center of the city, we also decided to depend solely on public transportation. That means no car after 20 years of marriage!
Now, let me assure you this has its ups and downs. There were a number of reasons we decided to do this. One, we had a limited amount of money and we didn’t want to spend it on a car. So, survival! We had no idea how long we would be here and this seemed like the right thing to do.

Two, we live right in the center of the city. Parking is a nightmare and so is driving. This is an old city so there are a ton of one-way streets everywhere you go. We chose simplicity over convenience.

Now, by no means am I saying you should give up your car. And, I’m not writing a book about, “Being free from the tyranny of driving and car payments.” I just thought it would interest you to know what we’ve learned and how this has changed us. In the process, maybe the things we’ve learned could make a difference in your life too.

  1. Your Health Gets WAY Better

In the U.S. I barely walked anywhere. We drove our cars (5 of them) from the garage to work, practice, and life. We always looked for the nearest parking spot at Coscto and Walmart. We were trying to cut out walking every chance we could get!

Without a car, we average 6-7 miles of walking per day. What a perk! I’m in the best shape of my life thanks to not having a car. I’ll obviously need a car again, but walking is one new habit I will take with me wherever I live.

  1. It’s A Good Thing to Depend on Others

 I am fiercely independent by nature. I’ve had to be while growing up an only child from a broken home who lived in a new town almost every year. As an adult I learned that depending on people is risky. They will let you down, stab you in the back, lie, cheat and steal. I’m guilty of doing that to others in my weakness as well.

All these reasons lead me to believe that you cannot really rely on other people. Until you don’t have a car. In a foreign land where we had very few relationships, we were forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.

You know what I learned? There are many people who are more than willing to go out of their way to help when you ask. They are gracious and loving and that realization has changed me. It’s shown me that it’s ok to ask for help. In fact we need to ask for help sometimes because we need each other. No one is an island.

  1. Your Connection with Your Family Deepens

Without a car, our family has had more time together. We take public transport and walk the kids to their practices. Yes, sometimes this takes 40 minutes one way, but we have had some of the best interactions and conversations we’ve had in years. IMG_8678 copy

There is no replacement for quality time with the people you love. We’ve learned to slow down, enjoy being with each other and we’ve made the most of our very long walks together.

  1. You Have More Peace

I don’t think I’d realized what a nut I’d become. Getting in my car to rush to this thing, talking on the phone the whole way there, and stressed out about my car payments. And then there was trying to sell cars that cost me money to get rid of. Ugh!

I was caught in the consumerism that raised me and I was steeped in the stress it brought to my life. I was disconnected. I wasn’t engaged as I should have been with my friends and family and I was shriveling up on the inside. I was becoming less of myself not more of who I wanted to be.

Getting rid of some ‘stuff,’ including my cars, has helped me re-center my life on what really matters. I’m able to enjoy the blessings God has brought to me and fall in love again with the people who are around me.

Not having a car this past year hasn’t been a burden, it’s been a gift. I’ve learned to live for the people and the values that really matter and I think I’ve added a few extra years to my life!

Most of you have cars, and you should! But perhaps you can apply some of these lessons in your life, right where it is. My hope is that you will take a deep breath, be fully engaged and completely present in the lives of those you love and care about, and you will be free to live for the things that matter most to you deep inside. You really can discover new freedoms when you do unconventional things.

 

 

 

Why You Should Apply the Michael Phelps Gold Medal Strategy to Your Life

Michael Phelps won 5 more Olympic Gold medals in Rio. He is the most decorated Olympic athlete ever with 23 gold medals and a total of 28 Olympic medals over 5 appearances. How did he do it? There are a few simple practices Michael used to make history and you can apply the very same tools to help you succeed in life. Phelps learned to develop Grit and Mental Toughness by engaging in 3 specific principles which gave him an edge above his competitors. photo_Olympic_medal

  1. Create Simple Routines that Lead You to Success

When you create powerful routines (habits) in your life, you will drastically increase your chances of success. Habits channel your focus on the things that matter. Over time, you will experience incredible success from the power of these small wins.

Besides his workout habits, Michael Phelps engages in specific routines every time he prepares to race. He arrives at the pool exactly 2 hours before the event for very specific stretching exercises that are always the same. After 30 minutes, Michael gets into the pool for 45 minutes of warm up drills. Then he changes from his warm-ups to his racing swimsuit.

In the starting block he performs the exact same routine. He stands behind the starting block 4 minutes before the race. When the announcer calls his name he steps on the block, and then off of the block. He then swings his arms 3 times, steps back up and assumes his starting position.

This is the same routine for every race.

  1. Train Your Brain Philosophy

The U.S. Olympic swimming team has a “train your brain philosophy.” This is why I teach on the power of rewiring your brain. You teach your brain what results you want to create and you’re able to deliver them time and time again. It’s about confidence, focus, and creating the results you want.

I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you put the work and time into it. I think your mind really controls everything. ~ Michael Phelps

Phelps said when his goggles filled with water in the Beijing Olympics, he wouldn’t have won gold without mental strength. He knew exactly where he was and how many strokes he had left, all he had to do was count the strokes he rehearsed. He said, “Training your brain makes nerves a non-issue.”

  1. Focus on You

As a competitor, Michael Phelps is clear about what he wants. He is not focused on his nerves, what he didn’t do that morning, or any of the competitors. He is obsessively centered on getting the results that are important to him.

A great example of this was the 2012 Olympic semifinal race in London. Chad le Clos stood directly in front of Phelps before the race and stared him down. It was an obvious attempt by the South African to distract and intimidate Phelps. What le Clos didn’t realize was that he was making a fatal concentration error that would ultimately cost him a medal.

If you want to beat an opponent, you never focus on them. It fuels negativity and steals energy from resources you need to win. Focus on YOU and YOUR goals.

During the race le Clos even looked over at Phelps in the middle of the race, which is a huge performance “NO-NO” for swimmers that slows them down every time. Phelps never looked at le Close and even turned away from him before the finals.

In the end, Phelps won his 20th gold medal and le Close placed 4th, out of medal contention.

You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get. ~ Michael Phelps

 

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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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…)