Archive for June, 2009

My life is too small

June 29, 2009

This week a 36 yr old MBA in exec position in an exciting industry shared this concern in her coaching profile:  “I have a vague sense that my life is too small.”

Living large does not necessarily mean a bigger salary, house, cars or retirement fund.  It has nothing to do with fancy vacations or the latest fashions.  Rather, it means having a life that is full of meaning and purpose.  And that can occur – or be absent – at any place on the continuum of the traditional parameters of “success.”  I’ve seen millionaires who are living life “small” and those with scarce financial resources who are living “large.” 

Let me ask you this: What is your life saying to the world?  Are you living your life too small? Is it so full of meaningless tasks that there’s no room left for the things that make your heart sing? Are you pushing so hard in doing more that you’ve lost the sense of being more?  Does more activity really equal greater accomplishment, or does it at some point tip the scale and begin to diminish the meaning of your life? Are you creating the legacy you want to leave for your loved ones?

Reflect back on last month – yes, just this last month.  What did you do to keep your life from being too small?

Can you identify:

  1. 4-5 ideas you had for a better job or starting your own business?
  2. 3 things that you did just to help someone out with no expectation of payback?
  3. The books you read or listened to that enlightened your spirit, confidence, knowledge and wisdom?
  4. The number of hours you spent in quiet contemplation?
  5. The 2 or 3 things you did that you had never done before?
  6. The concerts, art shows, seminars, workshops or other enriching experiences you had?
  7. 2 or 3 specific things you did to strengthen the relationships that mean the most to you?

If you have no responses to these seven questions, chances are strong that you are living your life too small.

Make it a regular practice to embrace living large times in your life. Wisdom, peace, contentment, and insight about investing your life in fulfilling work will grow in those times. Take a walk, give thanks for simple things, take a bath with music playing and candles burning, turn off the telephones, TV, and computer. Carve out those times for restoration and spiritual breathing. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.  Even Jesus got away from the crowds periodically.  Don’t let your life be too small.

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Get it out the door now!

June 29, 2009
Four years ago Steve told me he was writing a small e-book on creative ways to buy a car.  I saw him last week at a seminar and asked him about that book.  He very excitedly told me he was still working on it but hoped to have it out this year.  This Year???   How could it take 4 years to create a 40-page book on buying a car?  I guess he’s still getting it “right.”

But that’s a trap I see many people fall into.  They spend so much time getting their idea or product or service perfected that they lose the window of opportunity for making it a success. 

My advice – if you have it 70% refined, go ahead and release it.  My first version of 48 Days to the Work You Love had a hard stock paper cover.  Then we made it a 3-ring binder with a single cassette in the front cover.  We ran them 50 copies at a time at Kinko’s and sold over $2 million worth before I ever talked to a publisher about a real “book.” 

48 Days Stages

Dave Ramsey just did a great interview with marketing guru Seth Godin on this very concept.  Check out their take on getting started:  

Seth Godin Interview       Seth says, “Get it out the door now!”

What excuse have you been using for waiting to show the world your idea?

Twitterdom or Wisdom?

June 22, 2009

While attending a funeral recently I glanced up and down just my row to see several people Twittering and checking emails in the last few minutes prior to the beginning of the service.  It’s now common during sermons and seminars to see people with their heads down, busy passing on tidbits of information instantly.  This morning I read that one million people are following Ashton Kutcher on Twitter.  

I suggest that this massive addiction to information leads us away from wisdom, not toward it, creating what author Shane Hill calls “a permanent puberty of the mind.”  Recognize that information, knowledge and even intelligence do not necessarily lead to wisdom.  The overload of information in fact encourages the opposite of what creates wisdom – stillness, time, reflection and solitude.  With the internet, TV, email, FaceBook, Twitter and cell phones, there is no waiting.  There is no such thing as stillness or quiet personal reflection.  Meaningful experiences and the path toward wisdom can be diverted by constant information. 

I am not anti-technology.  I love having instant access to useful information.  But this is much like having a bowl of peanut M&Ms in front of me.  I tend to eat them just because they are there.  At some point I will have to remove myself from the bowl or my initial pleasure will turn to misery and sickness.  And I believe allowing a constant diet of unlimited information and data into our brain will also ultimately turn from being a useful treat to something that will cause our mental lives to become bloated and deprive us of the characteristics we desire most.  We have to decide when to push back from the table of information overload – where it leads to our emotional, social, philosophical, and psychological sickness rather than being a useful addition in our quest for wisdom.  I have made strategic decisions to not be on Facebook or use Twitter.  Not because they are bad but because I have to chose which tools that I can use effectively.  

Increasing the rate of information input to your brain may make you a candidate for Jeopardy but it probably has little to do with increasing spiritual characteristics like love, trust, compassion, faith, courage – and wisdom. 

Want to increase your wisdom?

  • Practice reflection, meditation and introspective thinking for 30 minutes each morning.  Many who allow constant input are keeping themselves in the shallow end of the wisdom pool.  Don’t be one of them.
  • Turn off the TV for at least two hours every evening
  • Read your email at set times during the day – perhaps once in the morning and once in the evening.  Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted with every new incoming message
  • Spend four hours on Saturday without your cell phone or computer
  • Plan one day a quarter on an “information fast.”  Get away from your computer, your cell phone, TV and the newspapers.  You’ll be amazed at how your creativity will increase – you may get the one idea that will change your future
  • Read one good non-fiction book each month.  Chose carefully from the wisdom of the ages.

Incidentally, according to a new Nielson report, 60% of Twitter users sign up and drop out after one month.  And I seriously doubt that following Ashton Kutcher is going to increase your wisdom.

I’m good but not great

June 15, 2009

There is a PBS special running right now on the music of David Foster (Hit Man – David Foster and Friends).  As the hosts asked him about his early years in music, one response jumped out at me.  David said he loved music as a child and his parents allowed him to take lessons in classical music.  But David said:  “I was good, but not great.”  He went on to explain that if he had been a better musician he would likely have ended up as an anonymous face in some orchestra.  Not being great forced him to look for other ways to be involved in music.  So he writes and produces for other musicians.  It has been said that Foster’s songs have made “many famous singers into superstars.”  Many of his songs have become well known through the voices of Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Micheal Buble, and Boz Scaggs.  And his own fame and fortune has far surpassed what he could have possibly hoped for as a “great” musician. 

In The Millionaire Mind author Thomas Stanley looks at the common characteristics of people who have ended up ended up extremely wealthy.  Their average GPA is 2.7.  Why isn’t it that all 4.0 students become wildly successful?  Maybe their “greatness” came too easily and they missed the benefits of the struggle.  

If “greatness” has not come easily for you have you given up the pursuit and settled for mediocrity?  Or have you looked for alternative approaches for success anyway? 

Maybe “greatness” that comes too easily is itself an obstacle.  We’ve all seen athletes, musicians, writers, and speakers who were so naturally great they never had to exercise the discipline to survive the hard times – and quickly faded into oblivion. 

Maybe not being “great” is your biggest hidden asset.

My Boss Is Satan’s Offspring

June 9, 2009

My Boss Is Satan’s Offspring

No, I really didn’t make that up.  As usual, the rich life stories I hear in working with people in transition offer enough real anecdotes that I don’t have to be very creative in finding phrases that colorfully describe real situations.

In anticipation of meeting with me, a very “successful” young lady wrote this in her pre-coaching form:  “My company is going in a strictly money-motivated direction, and my manager may very well be Satan’s offspring.”  She further validated her suspicions with lots of examples that certainly convinced me she might be accurate.  While we saw the humor in her portrayal I also helped her go through a list to confirm the possibility of a less than Godly work environment.

Here’s the checklist to tell if your boss (co-worker or the guy in the mirror) is Satan’s offspring:

  • Immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures
  • Hostility and fighting
  • Jealously, outbursts of anger
  • Selfish ambition, dissension, hard to get along with
  • Complaints, criticisms, arguing and causing trouble
  • The feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in his own little group
  • Envy, drunkenness, wild parties

This list is actually a mixture of this lady’s stories and another source I refer to frequently.  If it sounds a little familiar, you might want to check the list yourself in Galatians 5:19-23 (The Living Bible).

It’s a well-known fact that we tend to take on the characteristics of those around us.  We recognize this phenomenon easily in children.  Clothing, music, foods and slang expressions all quickly become a reflection of the group of friends involved.  We do much the same as adults.  If the list of characteristics above describe your work environment, you are likely to start exhibiting those same characteristics.  And if you bring those home with you, your family will start to reflect those same traits. 

Fortunately, if you want to break that cycle, we also have a list of what to expect in a healthy, positive and Godly environment: 

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control 

Not too difficult to tell your boss’s allegiance, is it?  And if you’ve gotten sucked into the first list, you can decide today to move to the other camp.  Your words, actions, and attitudes easily show which “boss” you are following today.

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“Keep away from angry, short-tempered men,

lest you learn to be like them and endanger your soul.”  Proverbs 22: 24-25

Do I have to fail first?

June 1, 2009

48 Days Podcast listener Josh Bulloc asks:  I have studied many entrepreneurs and successful people and most of them have gone through some sort of life trial which I correlate to becoming successful. I am concerned that I am not going to do well because I have not gone through that learning experience (yet). Your thoughts please.

We hear a lot about the failures of people who are ultimately very successful.  I’ve certainly talked openly about my personal business flops on my way to where I am today.  Many of you are familiar with Dave Ramsey and his big crash in real estate that set the stage for him to help others avoid those same mistakes and in the process recapture and surpass his former wealth. 

So should we be helping people avoid mistakes?  Are we preventing those people from experiencing their ultimate success?   Are we prolonging the inevitable?  Will their safe path now confine them to mediocrity rather than astounding success?

How do you view failure in your own life?  Do you avoid it at all costs? 

One of the most important lessons I ever learned regarding failure was in an illustration from Robert Schuller that I heard many years ago.  He said to think about an athlete jumping a high bar.  As long as that athlete clears the bar we really don’t how good he/she is.  It is only when the bar is tripped (failure) that we have an accurate measurement of how good that athlete really is. 

I want to know how high I can go.  So that opens the door wide open for potential risks and failure.  But if I fail I simply have a measurement of what I am capable of.  As long as I am always successful I fear I may have set the bar far too low. 

And that seems to be the major difference between high achieving people and average people – their response to failure. 

Josh, I would never suggest that you create your own failure – just to get it over with.  Trust me; if you are doing anything extraordinary, failure will find you.  But then don’t bury your head in the sand.  How we fail is at least as important as how we succeed. 

I say push yourself; fail often.  Push yourself to the limits of your talents, abilities, dreams, endurance and common sense.  And then go one step further.  Your failures will release your creativity and innovation more than education and careful planning can ever do. 

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“The one person to distrust is the one who never makes a mistake. Either he is a phony, or he stays with the safe, the tried, and the trivial.” — Peter Drucker

Education – Knowledge or Degrees?

June 1, 2009

Which is more important – the degree you get from a university or the learning itself?  If you just want the piece of paper you have to pay dearly.  If you agree that the education is more important, then congratulations.  You can get that with no cost at all.  How could you change your opportunities and your lot in life if you got the same knowledge that a UC Berkeley graduate paid $120,000 for?  If there were no cost and you could go as quickly as you liked, would you take advantage of the training – or will you look up 2 years from now and realize you are in the same place? 

Podcast listener James Cook passed along this information about free online college and university courses:  Here’s a list of the top 10 universities offering open courses.

Top 10 Universities with Free Courses  

You’ll see UC Berkeley at the top of the list.  Ranked as the #1 public school in the United States, Berkeley offers podcasts and webcasts of amazing professors lecturing. Each course has an RSS feed so you can track each new lecture. For printable assignments and notes you can check the professors homepage,

And here’s another new university that offers all of their programs without cost.  Shai Reshef, the multimillionaire founder, believes that everyone should have access to education, but without socialization or funding from the government.  

University of the People  is a tuition-free, online, open-source university.

Here’s their mission statement:

The University of the People is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing universal access to quality, online post-secondary education and is comprised of numerous volunteers from all around the world. Many of these volunteers are regular members of university departments; others are active professionals – business administrators, librarians, computer programmers, economists and educators.

Our fundamental belief is that all people, world-wide, should have the opportunity to change their lives and contribute to their communities, as well as understanding that the path to societal and individual prosperity is through education.

We are confident that our collective efforts as volunteers can be decisive in developing and executing the programs through which many people all over the world will have the opportunity to receive higher education.

Yes you really can get most any education you want – and can most certainly design your future.  Now decide what you want your life to be like 5 years from now. 

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones