Stop Sabotaging Your Day

Several months ago, I found myself (once again) in a situation where I felt out of control, stressed, overwhelmed, and just frustrated overall. It seemed that I couldn’t ever catch up, much less get ahead. No matter how hard I worked and the hours I was putting, it was never enough. So, I blamed the amount of workload in my job and just adopted the belief that it was just part of the territory and I needed to get used to it.

The problem with that is that I knew better. I remember one particular night I was feeling exceptionally frustrated and so I turned on the television to take my mind off of things, and on the TV was President Obama. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m not busy…THERE’S is a guy that’s busy.” It got me thinking about all the people that are “busier” than I am, and appear to be handling it quite well. Tim Cook, Mark Cuban, President Obama, Ryan Seacrest…and before I knew it I had a list of names of people that I’m quite certain are far “busier” than I am.

I didn’t do this to make myself feel better or to minimize my job or workload, I did it so that I could begin to figure out what I was doing wrong. It was through this process that I really discovered that my “problem” wasn’t in the amount of work associated with my career, but rather the disorganization of every other aspect of my life. It was easier to blame work, because work was “other people” and all the things there were doing to me that I didn’t have to take responsibility for.

I realized that I was starting my day in a very counterproductive manner that was setting the tone of disorganization, frustration, procrastination, and all the other things that had me feeling overwhelmed. My day (start to finish) was absolutely running my life and not the other way around. The other thing the list of people did for me was show me that not only were those people “busier” than I was, but they were in control of their time and I wasn’t. If I was going to get rid of this “black cloud” hanging over me that was filling my life with frustration, resentment, anger, anxiety, stress, and all of the other terrible emotions that were ruling me – I was going to have to be the one to make the change. It wasn’t work, family, relationships, or anything – it was me.

The great thing about realizing that WE are the ones responsible for everything that happens in our lives is the fact that because we are responsible – we have the ability to fix it.

A problem is only a problem if we have the ability to do something about it.

Deep down, I had always wanted to be a morning person. I wanted to be the person that was up and productive before everyone else, probably because that symbolized control. Those people had their stuff together and were making things happen. Again, I went back to my list of “busier people” and a common thread amongst all of them is their morning routine. Tim Cook is up at 4:30 every morning and starting his day with a purpose.

Me? I was up in time to get run around my apartment with my hair on fire, running late, trying to find my car keys, skipping breakfast, realizing that I forgot to get gas the night before and now I’m REALLY late!

This had to change.

Enter Jeff Sanders. I discovered Jeff’s book “The 5AM Miracle” right at the time I was looking for a roadmap of how to get back in control. Reading and working through this book gave me exactly the template I was looking for, and it’s been a total game changer for me.

I, like most people, was starting every day with a tone of procrastination which lead to increased stress and anxiety. The absolute worst thing was my snooze button addition. I would hit snooze on my alarm 4 or 5 times before I even woke up and realized what I was doing. I had conditioned my body to hit snooze while I was still asleep! Five snoozes at nine minutes each…I’m almost an hour behind and I haven’t even opened my eyes!

Then, because I was running late I would skip breakfast, leave the newspaper (yes, I still get the newspaper every day – New York Times if you’re curious) on the porch, not make my bed (because who has time for THAT?!), and forget about any exercise!

Every one of those things sets and amplifies a tone of procrastination for the rest of the day. My level of stress had nothing to do with my job, and EVERYTHING to do with what I was doing long before I ever even stepped foot in the office. So, long story longer, here’s what I did to correct it.

  1. Ditch the snooze button. This was tough because it was automatic for me. So I had to move my alarm far enough away that turning it off actually requires getting out of bed. Then, once I’m up I force myself to stay up.
  2. Overnight your body naturally dehydrates – so the next thing I do is start pounding water. I, much like Jeff Sanders, drink a liter of water before leaving the house.
  3. Exercise. Do something first thing in the morning to get your heart rate up – even if it’s something quick and simple, personally, I’ve started running. I’m out the door by 5:10 and I will run for 30-45 minutes. I’ve got my headphones in, super energetic and uplifting music, and because it’s 5am – there’s really no one else up and around so it gives me time to really connect with mind, body, and spirit and get my mind set in a productive and positive direction.
  4. Guided meditation. I was most skeptical of this, but I have to tell you, it works! I downloaded the app “HeadSpace” and it’s been a game changer for me. 10 minute guided meditation to help keep my mind focused and under control. You’d be amazed at how powerful it is to take control of your thoughts and mind…download this app. Trust me.
  5. Make my bed. This is one of the first “tasks” of the day and just by simply completing that – I’ve shifted from a mode of procrastination to productivity and accomplishment. I learned that we’re most likely to accomplish and achieve something immediately after we have accomplished or achieved something. This energy and momentum has an INCREDIBLE impact on the rest of the day.

And there you have it, those are the key things that I do every morning to kickstart my day in a way that is going to serve me the rest of the day. I can’t begin to tell you what an impact this has had on my life in almost every area.

This blog has become extremely long, so I’ll stop here…in my next entry…I’ll give the second part to this: my nightly routine.:)

It’s Gonna Take More Than A “Fat Lady Singing”

Recently, I received a note from a friend about some of the hard times and frustrations they were facing, and it got me thinking about how common these feelings and emotions are. So much so, that I thought I’d share with you my response to their note. I’ve taken out anything that could possibly identify the person, but felt like it was a message that maybe you or someone you know might need to hear as well.
There are going to be struggles and tough times throughout the different seasons of our lives. There are going to be things that happen that seem completely and totally insurmountable, and that our game, in essence, is over. The important thing to remember is that it’s not over unless you quit.
 
You deciding to give up is the only event that can ever truly end something for yourself.
I’ve learned that it’s in these moments and situations that we have to “go back to the drawing board,” and not accept that things just are the way they are. The same laws that govern the universe apply to what we’re experiencing in our daily lives, and this includes the “law of cause and effect.” It’s one of the 12 Immutable Laws of The Universe and it basically says that nothing happens by accident. Everything has a specific cause that creates the experienced effect. It’s through this understanding that the REAL problem isn’t in our results, but rather in the process. In order to achieve something different than what we’re getting – we have to change how we’re doing what we’re doing, first. Too often, we accept that we have “to play the cards we’re dealt” and “that’s just the way my life goes.” In reality, life is only going that way because it’s what we are creating for ourselves and allowing to be so.
 
“In life, there are is no such thing as failure, there are only results.”
-Tony Robbins
My advice is two fold:
  1. Spend a day or two and really clear your head. Get out of the everyday elements you’re in now and go somewhere and do something different. Create an emotional change through physically breaking the cycle you’re currently in. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” Give yourself a change of scenery.
  2. Break down the processes that you’ve been going through to try to find the job you’re looking for and identify different approaches and different ways to do what it is you’re trying to do. Nothing changes if nothing changes. In order to being to see any kind of different result, a change must occur within the process, first.
Then repeat as necessary.
It may sound remedial, but it really works. You’ve heard me talk about this for quite some time – we are and become everything we think about. We create our own existence through where we spend focus most of our energy. Believing that it’s over is only putting time and energy into making THAT your reality. It’s shutting off your creativity, and not serving you.
This good news and bad news…bad news is the only way to change it is for you to create a shift in your own thoughts and belief systems and make the change yourself. The good news, however, is that you’re already equipped with everything you need to do exactly that!
The greatest gap in people’s lives is the gap between what we know and what we do with what we know. This isn’t the end, this the beginning of something bigger and better for you IF you’ll recognize it as such and make it so.
You have two choices here: step forward into growth or backwards into safety. What you do is up to you.

May The Force Be With You

Before I get started, I wanted to share a valuable lesson with you…

No matter how little time you’re think you’re going to be in the sun…put on sunscreen. Over the weekend, I got “burnt to a crisp” (as we would say in East Texas), so much so that it actually had me not feeling well today. I refuse to acknowledge it as “sun poisoning” (which is the medical term apparently) because that just makes me sound like a wuss. I’ll go with 2nd degree burn (that typically invokes more sympathy). Haha!

So, take it from me…always use sunscreen. Yikes.

Okay, moving along.

In my “Inner Circle” emails I’ve been talking about the importance of intention over the past few weeks, I’ve also been involved in my own personal deep study on the topic. I was reading Wayne Dyer’s “The Power of Intention” and he says something in his book that really struck a chord with me. He’s referencing Carlos Castaneda’s final book, The Active Side of Infinity, where Castaneda says. “intent is a force that exists in the universe. When [those who live of the source] beckon intent, it comes to them and sets up the path for attainment, which means [they] always accomplish what they set out to do.”

Much like Dr. Dyer, when I read those words I was immediately taken aback by the clarity it provided me about the power of intention.

Think about that for a second. Intent is a force that exists in the universe, and when we practice intention, it’s not something we’re doing but rather tapping into. The power of intention is actually an energy source that exists in the universe. I’ve talked about the magnetic powers of the human mind/spirit and how we become what we think about and focus on, and this is what scientists and psychologists have been studying for centuries. It’s a fascinating read and he goes on to talk about how intention applies throughout the world and not just within the human species, but I won’t get into that.

The most important thing to remember is that intention is not an act, it’s a state of awareness. It’s a state of mind. Thomas Troward talks about “entering into the spirit of it” when it comes anything and everything we do. Once we are able to enter into the spirit of what we’re doing and tap into the infinite resource that is “intention” – there is truly no reason why we can’t do or achieve anything, right? It’s understanding that the ONLY reason we’re not winning, achieving, growing, succeeding, prospering, or whatever it is we’re longing for is because we’ve told ourselves we can’t or that it won’t happen…and, even more tragically, we’ve accepted that as fact.

What if instead of immediately jumping to the conclusion that we’re not talented enough, gifted enough, good looking enough, fortunate enough, or anything else for that matter, and we allowed ourselves to be open to the idea there is an invisible energy force at work in the universe that is actually capable of making all of that come true in our lives?

If you’re a person of faith, like I am, it’s the power of God working through the universe to create and provide everything He’s promised you. If you’re not a person of faith, Einstein talked about this from a scientific standpoint when he discovered energy through subatomic particle research and that there is no particle at the source and that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it just exists and is transferred from one source to another.

For me, there is a great amount of comfort in knowing that there is an external energy and force in existence that will help guide and direct me along the path created for my life, specifically. A force that if I will be open to and live into, everything I need to achieve things beyond my wildest expectations will be provided!

I hope I didn’t get too deep in this email, but instead, hopefully, continued to reaffirm the importance of create a spirit of intentional living, and understanding that harnessing the true power of intention is one of the most powerful things you can do in your life and your journey for success and fulfillment.

I hope this week is even better than last week for you, so make it so!

Also, if you’re not a member of the “Inner Circle” – sign up here! I send a daily (relatively) email similar to this blog. :)

Your “REAL” Job

The overall message in the emails I send out, the blogs that I write, coaching sessions, speaking events, truly everything I do, is that if we can just change the way we think about things (anything and everything), we have the power to change our lives in really dramatic ways. I learned something from Tony Robbins a while back and ever since I’ve been sharing it with my staffs regularly to get them thinking differently. This “thought shift” really pertains to your professional career. No matter whether you’re the CEO of your company, the receptionist, salesperson, or anyone else in the organization, your job is really two fold:

 

Innovation and marketing.

 

That’s it. Those are your two main objectives and responsibilities if you want to grow, create lasting change in your business, and realize success that few people in your industry will ever achieve.

 

And…THIS is where people start to panic.

 

We hear the word “innovation” and immediately jump to “invention” and the thought of trying to invent something scares the crap out of us. That’s when the “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not good at those kinds of things” start flooding our minds and we become paralyzed. So stop that, and hear me out.

 

There is a KEY difference between innovation and invention. First, look at the definition of innovation:

 

Image
Innovation is all about simply coming up with new ideas. It’s about breaking the chain of “this is just how things have always been done” and being open to new and more creative and efficient ways of doing things. All it takes to be innovative is a different thought process.

 

Necessity may be the father of invention, but creativity, rather, is the father of innovation. While invention often provides the solution to a problem, innovation offers an alternative to a problem or situation that people may not even be aware of.

 

Innovation gives an answer to the question that no one knows to ask.

 

There are SO many examples of this, but my favorite is probably Sony. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the “sound” world was getting bigger. The bigger the speakers, the better the sound. Boomboxes were these incredibly cumbersome stereos that people did their best to lug over their shoulder…looking back it’s laughable now. In the era of bigger equals better, Sony’s founder, Akio Morita, was an innovator. He gave consumers a solution to a problem they didn’t even realize they had, and introduced the Sony Walkman. There was absolutely no need to have one of those incredibly clunky sound systems when you could have the same quality sound out of a device that fit right in your pocket. An idea that, in a lot of ways, changed the world.

 

Netflix is another example. Did you know that Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix for around $50 million and passed on it? Something tells they’d take that offer today…haha!

 

The lists of stories like this goes on and on…IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Toyota, etc., etc. They operated from the mindset that their two main functions in business (and life) were innovation and market. Think outside the box, and let people know about it. These people and companies created a product or service that their consumers didn’t even know they needed!

 

I hope this inspires you to take action on one of those ideas within you. You could be the next Akio Morita, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Tony Robbins, or anyone else for that matter. The only difference between you and them is they took a chance and acted upon their “crazy” ideas. Now it’s your turn.

 

It’s not what you know, it’s what you DO with what you know that matters.

 

Do something today. You owe it to yourself!

 

Also, if you’re not a member of the “Inner Circle” – sign up here! I send a daily (relatively) email similar to this blog. Will guard your email address with my life and do my best to never bore you.:)

 

Listen Up!

I had dinner the other night with a business colleague at a really nice restaurant, and everything was going well…but one thing really stood out to me. Sure, it was busy and our server’s section was full, but I could tell his mind was elsewhere. This proved to be the case when the food that was delivered to the table wasn’t what we ordered. It was CLOSE to what we ordered, but the detail wasn’t there and several things were wrong.

There’s a big difference between listening and hearing. In fact, the definition of the two paints a pretty clear picture:

Listening – (verb) to take notice of and act on what someone says.
Hearing – (noun) the faculty of perceiving sounds.

One thing should stand out immediately…one is a noun and the other is a verb. One just “is” and the other requires energy. If you’re going to ever have any level of influence with anyone…this is paramount. When you hear someone talking…you do just that…you hear them. It’s very passive, requires no energy or effort, and you will almost always tune out and your focus will be attracted elsewhere.

However, when you LISTEN – you’re taking an active role in the conversation and giving someone the gift of your attention. In reality, more often than not, this is really what people want the most in first place…they simply want to know someone is actually listening and paying attention to them. Here’s the beauty of this…through active listening you’re able to hear the things that aren’t being said.

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. If you’re able to show them that you care by being an active listener and responding with questions…you’ll be amazed at the things that people will tell you. Rephrase what they’ve said to you back to them in the form of a question. For instance:

  • So if I’m hearing you correctly…
  • If I’m understanding what you’re saying…
  • Just so I’m clear…are you saying….?
  • Do I understand you to mean…?

Active listening and using clarifying questions like those will absolutely strengthen just about any relationship you’ve got…personal and professional. Guys…are you looking for a way to really impress your lady? Do this. Trust me. It’s really that simple.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would the people around me consider me an active listener?
  • What was the last thing someone said to me? (If you don’t remember, it’s likely you weren’t really listening)
  • Do I regularly ask clarifying questions?
  • Do I interrupt people?

Great listening skills will automatically put you leaps and bounds ahead of most everyone else. Don’t be the person sitting on the edge of your seat ready to jump in with your opinion. Check your ego at the door and be interested in the person you’re communicating with. Remember…in order to be interesting, you must first be interested.

Here’s a challenge for you. (I wish I could take credit for this, but this came from John Maxwell’s book):

Schedule a listening appointment. Set an appointment with the most important person in your life, and dedicate an hour to just communicating. Give that person your undivided attention (no phones, emails, texts, TV, etc) and do not spend less than 2/3 of the conversation listening to him or her.

Do that…and email me your stories! I’d love to hear how that worked for you, what you learned, the impact it had on your relationship, etc. Don’t be surprised if the person you ask to do this gives you a blank stare or looks at you like you’ve lost your mind (in fact, if that happens, I think it’s pretty clear what kind of listener you truly are), but do it anyway.

You’ll be glad you did!:)

Leave something for the rest of us…

One of my favorite places in the United States (I would say “the world” but I’ve not really ever been outside of the United States…so I can’t really go that far) is New York City. There’s just an energy in NYC that is really unmatched by any place I’ve ever been. NYC is the epitome of, what I like to refer to as, the cycle of success. You see people at the top of their game and people at rock bottom, often on the same street corner.

A few years ago, I was in NYC and was just sitting on a park bench in Battery Park when it hit me. It was almost as though the city of New York spoke to me. It became very clear at that moment that New York City, and the world for that matter, doesn’t care whether or not I make it or whether or not I’m successful. Whether or not I’m sitting on that park bench at that exact moment, everything that was happening around me would still have happened. My presence there, at that moment, other than the lesson I was learning…in the grand scheme of things…absolutely didn’t matter.

Now, you’re probably sitting there reading this thinking “wow, JR, I thought these were supposed to be uplifting…I think I’ll just go get back in bed if no one cares…”

Here’s my point…

Basically, the world will continue to rotate on its axis at a 1000 miles per hour and revolve around the sun whether you achieve your goals or not…but each and every one of us has, within us, the ability to create change that could impact lives from this point forward. Whether you introduce those gifts/ideas/dreams to the world, or not, doesn’t affect the gravitational pull, however, you DO have the ability within you to change the experience for yourself and everyone around you. The world, from a scientific standpoint, doesn’t really care if you’re successful or not. It was here before you and will be here long after…BUT…the world from the humanitarian aspect not only wants you to win…it NEEDS you to win.

A few weeks ago I posted this on Facebook: “Whoever you are, there is work that will never be done if you don’t do it. You have a purpose. The world needs you.”

I’m a person of faith and I believe, as it’s written in Jeremiah 29:11, that God has already mapped out the plan for our lives and everything we need to live to a life of prosperity and abundance is already in place…but it’s up to US to make it happen. It’s as if the road to success has already been paved, but it’s up to us to get in the car and drive.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “you can’t take it with you when you go” and “you never see a hearse pulling a u-haul trailer” or any of the other funny variations. I believe that sends the wrong message.

In reality, when it comes to the things that really matter…you take EVERYTHING with you when you go. The only thing left are the things YOU leave behind. I had someone ask me one day what I thought the richest place on earth was. I was thinking Fort Knox initially, then maybe the Taj Mahal or the ancient pyramids of Egypt for what they represented…and my friend just laughed. His answer?

A cemetery.

Because in every cemetery lies stories that were never told, ideas that were never invented, books that were never written, songs that were never sung, and gifts that were never utilized.

If you’ve got an idea, a dream, or a goal – it’s up to YOU to take action on it and make it happen not just for you, but for the rest of the world. I believe ideas, dreams, and aspirations are given to us for a reason and when we suppress and ignore them…we put one more thing on the list that will eventually die with us.

For every person that dreams of one day recording music…know that somewhere in the world is someone that will experience something in their life that simply hearing your song will have a life changing impact on their situation…unless, of course, you never sing it.

My message to you today is simple. Take action.

The next time you have a crazy idea or your imagination gives you a glimpse into what life COULD be like IF…write it down. Envision it as if it already exists…and think of things you could do and ways you could take even the smallest step toward making it happen.

The road has been paved for you. The right people are already along the way waiting for you. Get in the car, buckle up, and step on the gas! You were created for a reason and given a gift…and without you…the world will never experience it.

You have a purpose, and the world needs you!

Make today count!

Lies…all lies.

    This is a subject that I’ve actually written about before, probably more than once, but I feel so strongly about it I keep coming back to it. If we lied to other people HALF as much as we lie to ourselves, we’d have no friends or credibility. Think about that for a second. It’s true!
    One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves has to do with the existence of a “comfort zone.”
DISCLAIMER: This is the part of the email where I tell you that some of what you’re about to read is considered “tough love,” but I’m not in the business of telling you what you WANT to hear…I tell you what you need to hear. This is one of those. 
    Tough love fact #1: There is no such thing as a comfort zone. We attribute “comfortable,” or I guess a better word would actually be “familiar,” with secure and it’s simply not true. Unless you’re completely financially independent (I’m talking Bill Gates, Richard Branson, or Forrest Gump after the fruit company, level of financial freedom), you are no more secure hiding in your “comfort zone” than you would be actually taking control and living your life. Let’s face it – you could get laid off tomorrow. You could find out that your CFO has been embezzling money for years and your “stable” job was an entire house of cards and it just collapsed. Your boss decides to get out of whatever business you’re in, sell the company, and close the doors. Just like that…your “comfort zone” is gone. There are a million different scenarios like this.
    Tough love fact #2: The idea of your “comfort zone” actually just means you’re most likely unprepared should one of the scenarios listed above actually occur. One of my mentors, Ed Decosta, has a book called “Ascend” and in the book we learn this:
“Psychologists teach us that a comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which you maintain a sense of security and out of which you experience great discomfort.” 
    Like Ed mentions in his book, of course, while these boundaries may be artificial in the eyes of the world’s psychological professionals, they can be very real to you and me. But it’s important to recognize it for what it is…a lie.
    Tough love fact #3: Your “comfort zone” is really just a nice way of saying “doing nothing,” because that’s exactly what we do in our comfort zone. Nothing. You’re certainly not growing, because in order to TRULY grow you have to take some sort of action. Growth does not occur within your comfort zone. Period.
    “But JR, I’m paralyzed by the fear of what might happen if I leave this warm, cozy, and familiar place,” you say.
    Tough love fact #4: You’ve already experienced this AT LEAST once before! Think about it…at some point along the way…what is familiar to you now…was new and unknown. You made a decision to do the things you’re doing now, and the result was your NEW comfort zone.
    Tough love fact #5: You’ve already proven that you can change. In fact, you’ve not only proven that you’re capable of making a decision for change, but proven that it CAN work and you CAN be “comfortable!”
DO IT AGAIN!
“As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal!” ~Robin S. Sharma
    Tough love fact #6: The life you want, and the dreams you “wish” and “want” to come true already exist outside of your comfort zone. All you have to do is go get ’em. The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step…take it! Create your new normal, and remember that time is not on our side…so start now!
    I’ll leave you with this life lesson from Lucille Ball:
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t.”