The Dark Knight Warrior From Hell

A little story I just made up tonight called, “The Dark Knight Warrior From Hell” :)

dark_knight_warrior

There is a tale of a man. He lived a normal life and did as he was told each and every day. He questioned nothing and made peace wherever he could. He was, at times, manipulated and abused as a youngster. But he continued to live to please others so as not to cause disruption.

The man settled down for a while, became a farmer, got married, and had a couple children. He went through each day, coasting, cruising, and in general, not thinking too much for himself. One day, while out in the fields, a white bird flew overhead and landed on his shoulder.

He looked at the bird and it back at him. Inside the birds eye he saw a freedom. He saw the ability to fly. It sparked something within him that he had never felt. It made him feel knotted inside. Was this feeling right? Should he act on the things that he was now thinking? He kept this to himself and from his family.

As time went on, the man became more drawn to the freedom that the bird felt. He saw possibility and an endless amount of experiences untold were he to spread his wings and follow the bird in its flight. This frightened the man for he would need to leave his family to do so.

As the man contemplated his life in the fields, another bird landed on his shoulder again. This time, a yellow bird. The yellow bird nodded at him, beckoning him to his true calling in life. To be free as a bird. The man started to speak to the bird, but it was too late, the bird flew from his shoulder before it could hear him speak.

The man felt saddened by the bird’s lack of listening to what he would say. But he knew his true calling now. To live freely and without restraint. He told his family that he would be leaving for he had a quest to go on and he would not be coming back. His family cried and mourned at his leaving, but the man did not look back.

As the man left his home, he went deep into a forest and found a pit leading downward. He looked in the pit and saw only darkness. The man knew that in the pit were horrors untold, yet his new-found freedom compelled him to face the deep and dark pit. So down the pit he climbed, lower and lower.

As he finally descended to the bottom of the pit, he found a spear laying on the ground. As he grabbed it, it burned his hands, leaving a permanent scar. However, the spear glowed with a red light, illuminating the way. The man walked and faced flying imps that clawed at the man and bit fiercely. He pierced them, defeating them, but suffered scratches on his face and arms.

imp

Bleeding, the man pressed forward. Fear gripped him for he wondered if he would live through this experience. It was then, that hellish wolves with glowing eyes ran at him, growling, ready to tear the flesh from his body. He fought them with his spear, yet was bitten many times. One of the dogs knocked the spear from his hands – the last dog, for the man had killed all the others. As the dog charged the man, he bit the dog’s neck in order to end the dog and save his own life.

hell_hound

Bleeding even more profusely, the man picked up his spear and continued the journey. He saw Winged Balron’s ahead with whips of fire. He figured this was probably going to be his end, but decided to charge forward anyway. The Balron’s were fearsome foes, using magic and their whips to batter and bruise the man. Yet the man continued to fight despite the critical wounds and slew every last one of them. His body nearly covered in wounds and blood, he forged on.

balron

He saw an elaborate throne ahead and saw sitting upon it, a devil. He approached the devil, bleeding, feeling nothing to lose, and charged forward. The devil, being a magical being, teleported and struck the man over and over with dark magic. This happened again and again – the man being unable to reach the devil each time. The man was singed from the dark magic, his body unrecognizable, when he closed his eyes, twirled around, and threw his spear behind him – right where the devil appeared, piercing the devil through his heart.

devil

The man went and took the spear from the slain devil and made the trek out of the pit, climbing back up a great distance back to the surface of the world.

He arrived – battered, bloody, scarred, and a changed man. All who saw him shrieked back in terror, yet the man walked forward as if nothing was happening. He went to the town hall and placed the bloodied spear for all to see and made a sign for it. It read, “The spear of the man, who is forged through the trials along his journey.”

The man then left the town, never to be seen again. A tale began in the town of a man, the dark knight from hell, who slew the devil himself with a simple spear. Nobody knew if this was true or not, for the man of the story was never seen from again. Yet the man himself knew for he had gone through the experience by himself.

My Thoughts on Father’s Day

I’m a dad of two girls, 7 and 4 right now. Today is “Father’s Day” as an official U.S. holiday, but I admit I don’t know how the holiday came into existence. From what I can tell, it came into existence because of Mother’s Day to try and make things more equal for parents. If you are having trouble sleeping right now, read THIS ARTICLE and it will fill you in.

Where do I start with sharing a few thoughts about this? Well, I’m a DAD! As I said, I have a 7 and 4 year old daughter and I don’t hide the fact I am a dad. I always thought I would have two kids and that would be about the end of it and it seems that little prophesy is true. What does being a dad mean to me? Probably something like this:

This is my daughter from a few years ago. She’s 7 now. Being a father means chasing my kids around, scaring them, telling them stories at night, and overall, herding them like cats (which herding cats isn’t easy by the way), and trying to be a good example and leader for them. I’m not terribly successful at it, but I do try :). Being a dad means I provide for them while they are young and incapable of providing for themselves and teaching them what I’ve learned so they can be more successful and better than me.

Being a dad isn’t easy or hard. It just is – like anything else, our attitude largely determines the experience. The days where my two daughters are hitting and scratching each other are certainly more trying than when they are playing calmly together, but that’s like anything else – there will always be good and bad experiences. Mostly, I just try and be as good a dad as I can be and if I can go to bed at night knowing I did the best I could with my situation as a dad, I feel pretty good.

I’m still a complete noob when it comes to being a dad. My girls are only 7 and 4 so don’t take me too seriously here as I say a few things. I just do the best I can and try to interject some stories and humor in the hopes that these two little girls have a decent shot at turning out OK in life. Isn’t that about the best we can do? Just give things a go, try our best, share some good times and humor and see what happens? I think it’s a good start!

I’ll close by sharing part of a story that I tell my two girls at night sometimes. It goes something like this:

THE SEVEN ELVES

Once upon a time there were 7 elves.

They lived in a giant tower in the forest.

One elf cooked really well. One elf was really fast.

One elf knew how to play basketball. One elf had a pet frog.

One elf knew how to do magic. One elf was really tall.

And the seventh elf had a very special power.

One night, after dinner, the seventh elf laid in bed.

All the elves were about to fall asleep when the seventh elf had one too many beans and went.

PPPPRRRRRRRRRFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

It was quite the stinker and all the elves woke up in laughter and then fell asleep.

They all lived happily ever after, THE END

What each elf can do is made up on the fly each time by me, but the kids get a kick out of the ending and laugh too. If nothing else in my life works out the way I want, I can take comfort in knowing I got my two little girls to laugh at this story I made up, HAHAHA! There you go, some thoughts of mine for Father’s Day.

 

Dem Cats!

I decided to spice things up a little today. I found pictures of random cats on the Internet (really original, I know!) and I wrote the first thing I thought of when my eyes looked at the picture of said cat. Enjoy!

crazy_cat_1

I swear there is an eye over there and I have more than one tooth.

 

crazy_cat_2

Judas Priest man, can’t a cat be grumpy for one day?

 

crazy_cat_3

I just ate a box of girl scout cookies. WTF just happened?

 

crazy_cat_4

I swear, if I have to chase the frickin’ laser one more time…

 

Morris the cat

Nothing to see here. Your pet parakeet is NOT in my mouth

 

crazy_cat_6

I HAVE seen the ghost of John

 

crazy_cat_7

Lassst night, I dreamt I wasss a ssssssssnake

 

 crazy_cat_8

Go ahead, just try and blow gently on my ear. See what happens.

 

 crazy_cat_9

I really don’t know how I’m doing it either…

 

crazy_cat_10

I am funny, I am smart, I am a cat walking work of art

Listen to Other People

I’m sitting here on a Saturday morning just thinking deep and reflective thoughts. As a manager at my job now, part of my responsibility is to help a group of people function as a cohesive unit. It’s a great challenge as each person on my team is unique in their own way. They have their strengths and weaknesses. One of the things that I’ve found to be most useful when interacting with them (and others in life) is to just sit and listen. Some of them have shared some very insightful things. I think people want to be heard and know that someone cares for them!

Listening means setting aside what you want to say or do. It means emptying your mind of pre-conceived notions and beliefs. It means letting go of your ego so that you can make room for someone else’s thoughts and ideas. It’s like emptying your cereal bowl. I may really like Cocoa Puffs. But if my bowl is full of them, there’s not really any room for Frosted Flakes or Cheerios. This bowl here doesn’t have much room for anything else :)

bowl_cereal_cocoa_puffs

 

I hear things all the time from people where I work as a manager. If you are just paying attention, you will pick up on the philosophies and desires of people. Some might be having struggles in their family life. Others might feel inadequate when it comes to talking in groups. Others might only want to work in a certain area, and another might want to just feel useful. It takes hard work and focus to listen. But take time to do it. Pick up on the words and expressions of other people. It’s really an art that if practiced will help remove barriers you might be having with other people.

While I walk through the halls at my place of employment I notice conversations going on. And as I walk, for a few seconds, I might pick up on something interesting. One of our VP’s said something that really stood out to me that I heard. He said (and I paraphrase), “People need constant leadership and communication.” I really felt those words were true when I heard them. People need customized attention according to their own life situation and needs and don’t need to be changed. Not everyone is a driven Navy Seal. People have rough edges about them and that is what makes them human and unique.

I think there is a time and a place for a firm hand. But I think a prerequisite to that is listening and showing someone that you care for them. As I wrote in a previous article, each of us has layers like an onion. It’s important to learn how to break down some of these barriers with someone before even thinking about admonishing them or giving a firm hand. The defense will be just too strong if all layers are left intact. Your words will just bounce off like an arrow against a steel wall.

I challenge you to set aside your own thoughts for a day. Grab a notebook and walk around wherever you are. Watch and listen to people. Jot down the things they say. You’ll be amazed at what your own brain is able to process as you now understand people better. As a leader and a manager, I can’t think of a better skill to master than the ability to listen and have empathy for other people. It’s not easy. And you might stumble and make mistakes. But people will know you are sincere and be willing to accept those blunders.

The Truth of the Matter

As I’m getting older, I become more curious about why life is the way it is. I ask a lot of questions like these:

  • Why is there such a large income gap in the world and the United States?
  • Why did I make a big change at around 30 to change my life to be something more than what I was?
  • Why have I changed my views on religion, especially when many of my family and wife’s family are strong in their beliefs still?
  • Why did I choose to share this information?
  • Why do certain people enter your life at certain times?
  • How do people handle being torn between two different things and trying to make both happy and stay happy themselves?
  • Why are some people completely accepting of changes and differences and others feel they have to force a change?
  • Why do the tough things happen? And do they happen randomly or for a designed purpose?
  • Why is it so hard for people to share what is beyond the surface?

Life is full of questions. I gotta a whole lot more questions than answers. Whenever I think I have an answer, I find someone who makes me rethink what I thought was an answer.

I look to others for advice, but even so, I am finding more and more that my own intuition is proving to be better for my life. I feel more fulfilled, satisfied and full of life as I listen to my own intuition while still getting feedback and advice from others. In that spirit, let me share a few words about each of these.

Why is there such a large income gap in the world and the United States?

Because wealth is going to a small group of people. More people are born to families that aren’t wealthy, so the proportion is going to get more lopsided as more people are born. Wealthy people also spend their time working on their businesses, save their money, continue to invest their money, and have a philosophy and standard of wealth. Yes, some people win the lottery or are born into a rich family. But to keep that wealth requires not splurging that money, which often happens with lottery winners.

Why did I make a big change at around 30 to change my life to be something more than what I was?

I think I realized I wasn’t doing everything I could for myself and my family. I started to ask questions about reality and some of my beliefs I’d held for 30 years. I asked the question that could other people have perspectives and opinions that add truth. When I opened myself to that possibility, I found a lot of great people who share things that are different than my beliefs. So it was curiosity and a desire to be something more. I always want to be in a place that I can handle life. So far so good.

Why have I changed my views on religion, especially when many of my family and wife’s family are strong in their beliefs still?

This sort of ties into the previous question. Having been raised LDS Mormon and getting married in the temple, why on earth would I think any differently? Isn’t my life in eternity threatened if I do this? Will I be forever separated from my family simply because I asked a few questions and saw more to life than one perspective? What about the commitments I made at church to do certain things – isn’t not doing some of those now meaning I don’t keep promises and don’t have integrity?

I think questions and thoughts like this are good. I can only share how I feel about it. I don’t think it is fair to make a pledge for something, find out it is not serving you, but being forced to continue to do it anyway. I don’t think that is right. I also think multiple perspectives beyond one really is the beginning of wisdom. I also think that it is more likely that if there is a judgment after life, that our intents and hearts and actions toward our family and fellow humans will be looked at rather than how much we attended a temple or church.

Why did I choose to share this information?

It’s risky speaking about things like religion in a family and culture where it is normal and generally accepted behavior. It is risky knowing that people will subtlety try and convince me that I am wrong or that I am a lost soul, rather than being supportive and undertaking the journey of further exploration with me. I risk having people think differently of me or withholding things from me. I’d rather people be supportive and curious with me, but I also understand that lifelong beliefs are not easily questioned or shed from people and that I am an anomaly. And I’m ok with that because I am being true to myself.

Why do certain people enter your life at certain times?

You might wonder why you meet certain people at certain times. Is it all a matter of chance? I’m not sure – but I think all our actions and things we are looking for in life play a role in this and how we view people. If you’re looking for a really good friend to come into your life for instance, you might meditate and pray or ask the universe to bring that type of person into your life. And chances are if you pay attention it will happen. I know I’ve been fortunate at my day job to really get to know some wonderful people. I really feel like I have some lifelong friends there and it is because I decided I wanted some people like that in my life.

I think intent matters and understanding that not everyone will be interested in you or your life and being content with that. But if you look hard enough and try hard enough, you’ll find someone that is interested. And those are the kinds of friends you want in your life – not just the type of friend for casual conversations, but the kind of connections where each of you are genuinely concerned what is going on in the other’s life and listening intently. I really am thankful for this and it’s all because I started looking for it and recognized the people who would be these kinds of friends. And it makes work much more of an enjoyable experience.

How do people handle being torn between two different things and trying to make both happy and stay happy themselves?

The kinds of tough questions that have entered my life are: How do I keep my family happy while having changing views that are true to myself? How do I do good work and spend the necessary time with my family? How do I deal with new developments in my life yet keep those who are close to me happy.

There isn’t an easy answer, but I do have one. It is simply choice. I choose to make sure my wife and family are taken care of. I make the choice to listen to my wife and make sure she gets my love and attention and knows that I care about her and our family. I also choose to make sure I am a good friend to those who are outside my family circle. I believe we can have close relationships with multiple people and that having good friends and connections is healthy. I didn’t always believe this. I used to be very closed and was happy with not getting to know people outside my family. But I’ve realized, especially as a manager at work now, that it is critical to get to know people and be concerned with their lives.

Why are some people completely accepting of changes and differences and others feel they have to force a change?

One of the fascinating things I’ve witnessed as I’ve shared new changes in my life is the way some people are accepting  and interested and others are more interested in ‘reeling’ me back in to my old self. It would be nice if everyone is supportive, but I also understand that when you believe something strongly, you might feel a sense of betrayal at abandoning it. And if you abandon that, what’s to stop you from dropping other things. I think that is fair to ask. I don’t have an easy answer except that I care about people much more than I do beliefs at this stage in my life.

Why do the tough things happen? And do they happen randomly or for a designed purpose?

I think tough things happen because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, lack of knowledge, lack of opportunity, or just plain ignorance or bad choices. I’ve certainly hurt myself, literally, with ignorant choices. I had a kidney stone surgery, lower back surgery, and am now dealing with a potential right shoulder injury that could require surgery. All these things are my fault in being careless. It’s me not learning my lesson and it’s me being mortal and subject to the laws of physics in the world.

Some tough things are due to laws of nature or a law made by people that just plain inhibit you. Some are probably just random chance. And there might be some grand design or plan for it all. I don’t rule that out. If there is, I don’t understand it. But I know I can learn from my mistakes, keep a good attitude, and protect myself, my family, and those I care about to the best of my ability.

Why is it so hard for people to share what is beyond the surface?

It’s because life is like a video game, except you cannot go and load your saved game. Each day, you must live with everything that has happened to that point. If you say or do something and someone rejects you, that is reality. You can’t go back and say, “Well, I’ll just redo that and not say what I was thinking.” No such luck. Everything that happens is a done deal. And that makes life both scary and exciting. It’s scary because you can mess up and say or do something that screws you up. But it also means you can take a risk or reach out to someone and show you care. And if they understand the nature of life as it is, they might recognize the courage it took to do what you did.

But no, most people won’t share much more than their surface thoughts. It’s too scary and takes too much time away from their life. We are all like onions with multiple layers that we show to different people. On the outside is our day to day casual interaction. As you peel layers, chances are, less and less people know what those inner layers are. They are your inner thoughts, desires, and experiences in life. And it is more risky to share these as they might tend to be different than what normal day-to-day life is like. What if someone rejects you for sharing what you believe?

Well, that’s my thoughts about the truth of it all. Truth is relative to what our individual experiences and beliefs are. I just want to say I am thankful for such a good family, a good wife, two wonderful daughters, and those who are willing to spend the time to listen and get to know me for what I am. I really am thankful for life and my health (even with the bum shoulder right now). I feel like each new day brings a new adventure and I just want to make the most of it. I’m not an Oracle with all the answers, but I am becoming less afraid to do what I know will bring growth in my life.

Thanks for reading!

Finding Your Niche

I’ve been on a LONG quest to find out what I have to offer to the world. What can I do that will benefit many people? As 2011 comes to a close, there are 3 things that seem to be it for me. They are: writing books, developing games, and empowering other individuals to succeed. I’m the best at these three things right now and I feel my best shot is with them.

For any of you who have followed my website since its beginning (back in February of 2010), you’ll notice that I have a plethora of topics written about. It really has been a complete paint scatter of topics. That’s me trying out a bunch of things. But for who I am as a person, writing, game development, and empowering other individuals is my niche. I think this website should be focused on empowering other individuals through my own life story. If I share a success or something learned and it helps you with a struggle you may be having, then it is all worth it to me to keep at it.

Your Niche

I’m not sure what your niche is. Maybe it’s talking about the after-life. I know Faye, from Wisdom Of Spirit has that as her specialty/niche. Or it may be personal finance. Or it might be doing yoga. Whatever your niche is, it’s probably something you’ve been interested in for a while and have good experience and practice at.

I’ve been writing since 6th grade and writing on blogging/websites for about four years now. Even so, I’m still a rookie with it. In a few decades, I may actually start to have a clue! I’ve been playing and tinkering with computer/video games since I was about six years old. And I’ve always found a need inside me to help others succeed, particularly in the last few years. Future projects of mine will be in these areas and I look forward to reporting here on this website their progress.

If you’re wondering if there is something for you to contribute to the world, look no further than what you’ve been doing with your life and are already good at. Whether it’s commanding a mastery of TV shows or knowing thousands of recipes – chances are, you are a master at something. It is this something you can take and share passionately with the world. It is this something that can probably solve a lot of problems and answer a lot of questions for others.

Begin the journey as I have. You may not make a dime with what you do. I haven’t made much of anything yet. But I don’t believe that’s the point. As you create works of wonder on your own, you will increase your value to the world. There are ways which you may not even know of that will create benefit. I can firmly say that I have a great day job with terrific pay and benefits in part because I am proactive in my side projects and have adopted a philosophy of doing all I possibly can.

My Hope For You

My hope for you reading this is that you won’t attribute success to money, but instead success to progress. Just keep working on your projects. Find what can be improved and fix it. Learn from those who are succeeding. Let’s jump into 2012 and make it another great year!

Evaluating Why

I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical from website related activities this month. During this time, I’ve found myself asking over and over why I get up in the morning and do anything. Not because I don’t want to get up, but because I’m still searching for meaning to what I do. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any purpose. Of course I have a wonderful family that I want to provide for and give opportunity to. But what do you do when you still feel an empty hole?

Leadership Through Why

I recently came upon a TED talk about leadership and what makes the difference between a great company like Apple and all the rest of the mediocre ones. Evaluating Leadership – Why. The general theme of this talk is that when sharing your message, beginning with WHY instead of WHAT connects with people in a far greater way than starting with what you do. So I will explore the why for a given day using my life story. Perhaps you might notice something that is similar for you.

The Why Pattern

Why get up in the morning?

I get up in the morning because I either need to go to the bathroom, or I’m going to be late for work. Rarely do I get up in the morning because I have a compelling vision of something I want to work on. I ask the question, “Do I even have a compelling vision?”

Why go to work each day?

In my situation, I have a family to take care of. So I go to work because not going will mean not being employed and not having the pay check come in to pay for our house, food, clothing, vacations, and entertainment. Without work, I may have to sell my house and move in with a family member, ruining my family’s independence.

Why keep trying to build a business?

I’ve tried many business ideas in my life – coming close to 10 now. Some have showed brief moments of potential, but ultimately, all have failed to connect with a large audience and provide an income to replace my full time job. I attempted my first business back in 2004 with a website called “ComputerGamesNow.com”. So for about 7 years now, I’ve been working at it off and on.

With so much failure, why do I keep a glimmer of hope that I can make a difference and succeed at building a business, whether through writing, building websites, or making games, or whatever it may be? I think the biggest reason is that I want to believe I’m capable of more than just sitting in my cubicle at my day job. It’s my self-worth that’s on the line. I tie my self-worth to my ability to succeed in my business endeavors. Maybe that’s not the right thing to do, but it is what I feel when I ask why…

Why raise a family?

I have two kids and a great wife. I have this family because I want to experience having children and making a marriage work, along with providing a better future for my family than what I had as a child. Raising a successful family is challenging and were it not for my love for them, the drive to provide for them and give them opportunity, I’m not sure how I would make it.

Why

I’m still searching for exactly why I’m writing here on my website. Perhaps it’s to leave something behind for others so I can feel like I did something worthwhile with my life. Regardless of the reason, it is apparent to me that finding my reason why and having a compelling vision are big keys to breaking past many of the failures I’ve had in the past. For those of you reading, what is your reason why you do what you do?

You Don’t Need Hours To Write A Good Blog Post

Passion… An eager desire… Daily diligence to learn and perfect your craft… To be the best at what you do… That’s it. Maybe a little luck on top wouldn’t hurt :)

Do I have it? Some days I have the eager desire and diligence. Some days I don’t. Some days I’m disciplined. Some days I sluff…

Am I the best at my craft? Well, what is my craft? Making websites? Writing? I’m not the best at anything I do. But what is “the best”?

The best is when I write what I’m sincerely passionate about. What is that? A better future for humanity? Making website? Writing stories? Showing that a strong marriage is possible?

Perhaps “the best” it is what I choose it to be. The scary choice is to commit fully 100% to a chosen passion and the day job be damned. That’s risky with a family and kids. But I only live once.

I’m not ready to do it yet… But it’s coming like a storm. I’m not unique in this thinking. Many have quit their jobs and been successful. But I’m not them and haven’t lived their life.

You don’t need hours to write a good blog post. You need a brief moment to commit to what you are passionate about. And that commitment needs to last for good.

I’m not the expert on commitment. I’m just saying everyone who I see that is making a success at what they do has that passion, eager desire, and daily commitment to their craft.

They’re just like you and me, except they are working while we’re sleeping, eating, and playing around. Now, how bad do you want it? How bad do I want it?

7 Of My Articles You May Never Have Heard Of

I’m starting to build up a nice collection of articles about a variety of topics from Green Tea to Marriage to sharing deep and personal thoughts. Here’s 7 that I think are worth a second look. Some of these are not my best work, however, I’m highlighting them for that very reason – I’m getting better at writing – at least I hope I am :)

Click the heading for each one to visit the article.

1. Breaking One Million In Alexa Ranking

Alexa is a ranking system for websites. The most popular in the world (Google right now) is number 1 and the rest are jockying for that position. For this article, it was the first time I ever had a website get under one million in Alexa.

What I’ve learned since then is it takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep a website ranked that well. You can’t count on Google to give you traffic. Forming relationships with actual humans who will return to your website again and again seems to be essential here.

2. The Garden Of Life Series (Part 1)

This was my (somewhat) humorous attempt to correlate life to a garden. At the time I did the videos I thought I had a unique idea – using a drawing screen to illustrate points in life and correlate it to a garden.

In the end, I think the videos lacked real quality and I still have work to do in the way I speak and present. But it was still a good learning experience.

3. How To Work Harder On Yourself Than On Your Job

Jim Rohn said his mentor told him to work harder on himself than on his job in order to achieve a fortune of wealth. This was a dissection of what I think it takes to work harder on yourself than on your job. It was the first time I realized that detailed and specific questions were one of the major keys to being more valuable in the marketplace.

4. Am I Qualified?

I posed the question to myself in this article: “Can I Make $832,000 a year?” The end result of this article was learning that I’ll need to find a way to affect a LARGE group of people to earn the kind of income I talked about here…

5. The Ant Philosophy

My most commented article – and it took me about 30 minutes to write. I wrote about “The Ant Philosophy” which Jim Rohn taught me. It is the philosophy that ants do all they possibly can with what they have and are never satisfied…

6. Being Completely Honest and Open

I share here some of my dirty little secrets. I heard a talk at TED of someone whose honesty impressed me. It inspired me to share some of my deep thoughts and things about me I am a little frightened to reveal.

7. A Death Bed Experience

When I saw my wife’s step-mon laying on a bed with life support, it struck something in me. I wrote about it in this article…

Who Spilled The Ink?

Spilled Ink

The walk to the table was like most – no trips or stumbles. I looked at the table and contemplated which ink jar I would take back to my desk. After choosing one at random, I moved my hand toward it and grabbed it. Two things happened. I didn’t grab the ink jar and it tipped over as I knocked it over in my direction. I panicked, and with both hands quickly scrambled to put it upright. Moments later, horror struck me.

My hands were nearly completely black with ink. My tan pants were also decorated with black polka dots from the ink splatter. As a young 9th grader terrified of any attention in front of a group, my only thought was to quickly flee to my desk and hope nobody saw my hands or pants. Moments later I heard the voice…

“Somebody spilled ink and it wasn’t me.” Andy, a fellow freshmen uttered those words. It was all over for me. The teacher would find the ink spill and do a thorough search of the classroom. I’d be humiliated in front of everyone. If I could just disappear, things would be all right.

As the teacher and some fellow students cleaned up my mess, the teacher asked the class who made the mess. The silence was eerie and I knew that unless I fessed up, it would remain that way. Students looked around and it was very apparent somebody was not stepping forward to accept the blame.

Another student saw my pants and said it could be me because I have splatter on them. I gulped, but just shook my head denying it. The issue was not pressed and perhaps some other students had splatter from doing ink paintings in class. Maybe that was my saving grace. Nobody stepped forward to own up to the act – my act of disaster.

I left class that day and as far as I know, was never found out. My ink covered hands and splattered pants were two dead giveaways that I was the culprit. My mess, which took some scrubbing to clean was fixed not by me, but by the teacher and some other students. I got away with it…

I often wonder how much we miss the obvious evidence and signals right in front of us. How often do we decide that something can’t possibly be a certain way, even though most signs point to it. If I with my ink covered hands and splattered pants can get away with an ink spill like this all over a table, what else can we get away with?

What have you gotten away with in your life? What obvious signals have you missed that have led to difficulty or tragedy? Is it possible to catch everyone who does something bad or disrupting or will there always people who get away with ‘it’?

Note: this is a true story about me when I was in 9th grade at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan :)

We Are All Vulnerable

Shield

To come into this world is to be vulnerable. Vulnerable to pain, disease, hunger, anger, frustration, dissapointment, resentment, jealousy, fear, despair, and death. There’s no guarantee that any of us are going to make it through life unscathed. At any moment, we can lose our comfort, let down our guard, and have life turn on us quickly.

It’s not fair really. I was born into this world without an instruction manual. No sign posts to guide me to a safe path. I was born crying and hungry and much of my behavior today is to avoid having either of those emotions come back to me. There have been plenty of people and groups whose mission is to persuade and influence me to be part of their cause. Some promise riches, others promise being part of something special. Still others promise opportunity beyond this life. With so many voices speaking to me, I am vulnerable.

I’m vulnerable because in my mind, I don’t truly know what the consequences of each decision I make are going to be. As a baby, crying helped me get fed and so that methodology of approaching situations has carried on. If I want something, I simply find a way to get it immediately. There’s no thought that delaying the decision might make me more safe in the long run. Life often times is a battle to meet the needs of today and stay alive until tomorrow. The cycle repeats itself.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up from being a baby. Just a little though. I discovered I could think for myself and take care of my own needs. But I still have this instinct inside of me that feeling good meant someone taking care of me. This makes me vulnerable. Imagine after 11 years of marriage having a day where I’m particularly vulnerable because I don’t feel I’ve had my needs met. By chance or for some other reason, another woman takes care of that need and lends a listening ear. Vulnerability is created from the perception of lack of needs met.

My mind is boggled knowing that if I am vulnerable and can be influenced by events around me to find what is meeting my needs most, how is it for my family, my co-workers, and the human race? How much is really going on in each of our heads? What vulnerabilities are causing me to make irrational decisions and potentially harm other people? How many others are doing the same?

I don’t have an instruction manual yet. I think I have a rough draft of the first page done though. It’s to vigorously discover what my needs are and understand myself and those around me. It’s to take all my existing beliefs and assumptions and put them to the test every day. It’s to know that I am a vulnerable person. I’m vulnerable to someone meeting my needs. I’m vulnerable to food. When I’m frustrated or stressed, I eat and eat and eat.

Any one of us at any time can let our guard down and succumb to a vulnerability. Whether it’s to food, entertainment, or the enticement of another’s affection, the vulnerabilities are there. The only way I know to guard against them is to admit to myself they are there and they can affect me and to try to understand what makes it that way. In the Matrix, The Oracle is talking to Neo about decision making. Most of us know what we are going to do. It may very well be inevitable. The key is to understand why we made the decision. I believe it is that understanding that helps me know who I am and what makes up my soul. And in doing so, I understand a little bit more about you.

What Should Be The Reason?

I’ve thought very carefully about my reasons for doing what I do. Is it for fame, money, or power? I have to admit that I’ve been very focused on the money aspect of my work. I feel in my heart that if I make a lot of money, I won’t have any problems and will be able to help people solve their problems.

The focus on money hasn’t been a real winner for me in regards to the websites I’ve done. Sure, I make about $50.00 a month with Google Adsense, Amazon Affiliate links, and other small revenue generating things. But to me, that number is microscopic – it’s not even a blip on the radar. I’ve been doing websites for over three years now, surely that number should be higher after all this time.

I’ve easily put guest posts on my site, some of them of low quality in hopes that by having my content base build up, that will somehow attract more visitors and revenue. That has not worked out so well. I check my Adsense earnings periodically hoping for the magical leap to where I’m getting 10’s of dollars a day at least.

Is this focus on money, fame, and power really going to take me where I want to go? I have to admit, I’m starting to realize that it is folly to use this as a basis for creating something. And I don’t do it solely for money, fame, and power. I really have a desire to help people. I want to make a large scale difference to the lives of many.

But I am starting to realize that the large scale difference doesn’t come when there is a focus on money. The focus on money and what that produces is kind of like the difference between a shallow and cold pool -vs- a warm and deep pool. If you’re looking for a good place to swim, chances are you wouldn’t want to go somewhere only a few inches deep that is cold. You want a deep pool that gives you complete freedom to swim and feel warm.

Sadly, what I’ve provided the last few years is mostly shallow. I’m afraid to say this out loud, but I believe it to be true. Most of what I’ve produced is just shallow. I write to write. I put ads here and there in hopes I’ll get more money. The focus is always on why I don’t have enough money from what I’m doing.

To Change The Reason

To remedy this, I have to change the reason I do what I do. Should money be important? Yes, but only after real value has been offered – the kind of value that makes what I offer like the deep warm pool and not the shallow cold pool. Because when I get to that level of value, people will want to take in what I am offering and it won’t be forced. After all, do you have to be forced to take a nice swim in a clean, warm pool?

If I can get to the point where I’m offering value that is not forced and see that people are really taking it in and responding with thanks, then I will know I’m on the right track. But right now I’m just not there. Like I said, I write to write. Really, one of my last articles was about how to go to bed on time. Is that really valuable? Is that really the message of my website?

Perhaps my primary reason should be to completely serve with everything I have to offer. Every word should be meant as a means to better someone or offer them comfort or laughter in some way that buoys them up. It’s time to stop putting out so much shallow stuff. But because I’ve put out so much shallow stuff, I don’t imagine it will be easy for me to put out truly valuable stuff – the kind that makes you want to jump in the warm pool and take a swim.

I Will Try

I pledge my dedication to now create from a perspective of serving with everything I have. Every website I create. Every article I write. It will be done for the sole purpose to serve. I will not accept a guest post or ad on this or any website I own unless I believe it will completely serve in an extraordinary way. This is what I will do. And by doing this, perhaps that will lead me to all that I desire and more.

Time to Demand Transparency

It’s time to demand transparency. I care what happens to other people. I care that people have a chance, without being misled, to achieve their potential. What I can’t stand is when a website, business, or other organization shows no transparency. What is transparency? Example image and description below

Transparent

Transparency is when you can see through something to what is actually behind it. You can see what is behind the computer screen here.

Opaque is the opposite of transparent. Example image and description below.

Opaque

The curtain here does not allow us to see through to what is behind it. The curtain is not transparent. It is opaque.

Why demand transparency?

Transparency must be demanded to avoid deception, deceit, and dishonesty. It must be demanded to enforce credibility, trust, and value. To build integrity and trust, I advocate greater transparency in the following basic way:

Clearly Defined About Information

Each website or online presence (Facebook and Twitter accounts and any other type of ‘page’ included) should have a clearly defined about section. This page must include the following:

  • Who owns the website/page.
  • Who makes updates to the page? Is it the owner, or some hired gun to put out updates?
  • If hired talent is making updates, create an about page for them so we know who they are.
  • What does the person look like – a few pictures is a must.
  • Why has the person created the website/page?
  • Where does the person live – limiting it to state/province only is fine, but the more specific, the better. I understand giving out an address might be a concern, but it isn’t too much to ask to put your state/province of residence.
  • What is the persons experience/credibility to put up the website? Do they have a college degree or are they just passionate about what they are doing, or both?

A video showing proof that the person is doing the website/page is not required, but will further cement credibility.

 

***** These folks get it *****

 

Lisa Irby

Lisa is the owner of 2createawebsite.com. She has a clearly defined about page and I know that she lives in Texas. She’s been doing internet affiliate marketing since the late 90’s. She provides pictures and videos of herself. She is very credible and she is having immense success in her websites. I believe her credibility and transparency play a role in this.

Joel On Software

Joel is the creator of joelonsoftware.com, a website/blog for programmers. Joel lives in New York and provides pictures, videos, and podcasts for the audience. He’s written countless articles and outlines his past experience and reason for doing the website. It’s very clear who he is and what his credibility is.

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina owns stevepavlina.com, another credible website. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says there, but he provides pictures, video, and is very transparent about where he lives and the relationships he has. His past is very well known and he lives in Las Vegas. There is no question who he is, what his experience is, and what he is presenting.

 

***** Questionable websites/pages *****

 

Tony Robbins Facebook/Twitter accounts

The main issue I have is not that I don’t know who Tony Robbins is. He’s a prominent life coach/seminar instructor. The issue I have is that his Facebook/Twitter pages send out updates constantly, but any questions about who is doing them go unanswered. It is obvious to me that someone other than Tony is doing them.

Who is sending out the updates? Where do they get the information from? Does Tony tell this person/people what to update or give them room to decide what to send out? I feel with answers to questions like these, I’d trust his Facebook/Twitter accounts much more.

FileHippo

FileHippo.com is a giant repository of files. For all I know, a man in his underwear wearing a hippo costume is in his basement running this site. There is no about page explaining who or what is running this website. A simple explanation following the criteria I outlined above would give this site some credibility.

ASP.NET center (a programming website)

This is a programming website, located at aspnetcenter.com, for people who use the ASP.NET technology to develop their websites. Not only is the page littered with advertisements, there is no indication of who owns the site. Yet this site is getting website visitors and probably making money. But who knows if the information is really accurate. What credibility does the owner(s) have?

Conclusion

I believe there should be a transparency standard for websites and other online pages. The question for you is: Should there be a standard for websites to be transparent? Is it reasonable to demand pictures, video, general residence, experience, education, and intent from website owners?

Does Hard Work Guarantee Success?

Digging Hard Work

I’ve noticed something with myself. Sometimes it seems I am just spinning my wheels, like a truck in the mud just flinging dirt up in the air. Sometimes I’ve worked very hard, but not felt like I’ve seen any positive results. Have you ever really poured your heart and soul into something only to see that it appears not much came of it?

You might have dreams of changing the world, writing a book, quitting your day job and launching your own business, making millions of dollars, or just wanting to find a nice quiet place to settle down in. It sure seems life would be more secure and comfortable if we were all able to achieve everything we desire. Let’s examine what really makes a success and end this article with and example of a successful person to see if they follow the steps laid our here.

Hard Work

I’ve been studying people, success, and personal growth for the last three years now. So I have some knowledge and expertise here. When I think about what makes someone successful, it seems to always boil down to that person first is a tireless worker. Without fail, that person is spending many hours each day working hard to achieve the success they desire.

I contrast this to myself and I realize that sometimes I just don’t work that hard. I take long breaks. I dabble here and there for an hour or two in a week. The difference in this is the difference between guzzling an entire glass of water, or just taking a small sip or drip of water. I think many times I just take sips and hope that those sips create treasure for me.

Glass of Water
Drip of Water

But if small sips were all that was required, then everyone would achieve the success they desire. So the evidence is overwhelming for me that simply dabbling or taking sips in the area of hard work are not going to create success. It appears that it takes much more than that. One must be willing to completely immerse themselves in what they are doing. In fact, I wouldn’t even bother trying unless you are going to immerse yourself in your desired success.

Goals and Plans

Beyond hard work, there are a few other things that successful people appear to incorporate into their lifestyle. One of these is having clear goals and plans. I have not seen a successful person who is unclear or confused about what they are trying to accomplish. It is very apparent to me that successful people are clear in their goals – often creating to-do lists daily to keep on track.

Evaluation

The reason I feel I “spin my wheels in the mud” sometimes is because of a failure to evaluate the results of what I’m doing. That failure to evaluate can lead to repetitive behavior that creates the same result over and over. It is important to work hard, have clear goals and plans, and then to evaluate based on the goals you have. Without the goals, who knows if you are reaching your target.

It seems to me that successful people are constantly striving to improve and refine their efforts so that they are always increasing the results they get.

Optimism

I have yet to meet a successful person that is continually depressed, bitter, or has a dreary outlook of the world. In contrast, I’ve met many people who have not increased for most of their life who continually complain, or simply talk about what they want without doing anything about it – usually with an excuse not to do it.

The evidence is overwhelming to me that in order to achieve success in a desired area, there has to be a sense of optimism.

Persistence

Back in 2004, I created a website to sell computer games. It used a “dropshipper” as the means to take orders and ship the games with my site simply just being the “face” to find games and order. I started using Google Adwords and driving traffic to the site. After about five months, the site broke even. Even so, I was still worried that it was losing money and might not ever make it, so I simply abandoned the project.

Seven years later, I wonder what might have come from that website. Had I stuck with it and been persistent, would it be making a profit today and providing extra income for my family? I will never know, but one thing I have realized is that anytime something new is started, it’s probably not going to do well and just plain suck.

But most successful people I’ve seen started something and stuck with it. Even when there were no positive results in the first few years, they stuck with it and saw it through. Not only that, successful people usually try many things often finding success in only a few areas…

An example of a success

I’m going to present a simple case study of a successful person and show why this person is successful as it correlates to the five principles I’ve outlined here: hard work, goals and plans, evaluation, optimism, and persistence.

Chalene Johnson

Chalene Johnson

Chalene Johnson is a fitness expert, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. She is the creator of “Turbo Jam” and has found success being a motivational speaker. Let’s see how she measures up in the principles outlined…

Hard work

This girl is up early every day and using Twitter and Facebook to constantly stay in touch with her followers. Just look at her accounts: Chalene on Facebook and Chalene on Twitter. These accounts are active with relative information for her audience…

Not only that, she’s actively involved in fitness herself. She keeps in great shape. She does videos. She’s produced top notch workout DVDs. She has an audio program you can listen to while in your car. She has her own company, Powder Blue Productions. The evidence is staggering that she is working very hard both on her passion, and in promoting her business to other people.

Goals and Plans

Chalene is very clear about who she is – a fitness expert, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. Her primary mantra is “To-Do Lists”. Almost daily she talks about them on her Twitter and Facebook account. This simple fact makes it apparent to me that every day she knows exactly what she is going after.

Evaluation

Does Chalene constantly refine and adapt her approach? I don’t have concrete evidence to say yes here. I haven’t actually asked her what she does in regards to “course correcting” and improving. But she has over 70,000 Facebook followers and over 31,000 Twitter followers. I understand these numbers can be achieved through bloated and automated means, but because these numbers are increasing, it suggests to me she is constantly finding ways to reach out and attract a bigger audience.

She is also heavily invested in personal development. In fact, she recently did a seminar with Brian Tracy, one of the leaders in personal improvement. She has a “Car Smarts” product dedicated to learning while in your car driving. This suggests to me that she is engaged in improving herself and finding ways to gain an edge.

Optimism

To see if Chalene Johnson is optimistic, simply look at her Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then go to her YouTube channel and watch her videos. She has a contagious enthusiasm and her energy is amazing. I doubt she is walking around depressed wondering what to do with her life…

Persistence

Chalene mentioned the other day that as a fitness instructor, she was terrible for the first few years. But she stuck with it and achieved great success. That she is constantly engaged in new endeavors (fitness and personal development), and engaged daily on her Twitter and Facebook accounts suggests to me that she is persistent and going to stick with what she is doing for as long as she possibly can.

Conclusion

The next time you feel frustrated with your level of success, first ask yourself these five questions. If you cannot answer a resounding yes to them all, then adjust your behavior and gain the habits until you can answer yes.

  • Are you working hard – constantly engaged daily in your endeavors to achieve success?
  • Do you have clear goals and plans laid out to achieve the success you desire (including a daily to-do list)?
  • Do you evaluate the results of your hard work and goals frequently to see if you are achieving desired results, and making changes (both in your own development and work) to do better?
  • Are you optimistic and excited about the future?
  • Are you staying persistent DAILY with your efforts to achieve success?

Middle Class Apathy

Couch Potato

The purpose of this article is to address the comfortable living that being middle class can provide. With the basic comforts of life taken care of, what is the reason to seek a high level of wealth, influence, and legacy?

What Is

I must admit that I am comfortable right now. I have a good job that pays well. I have a super wife and kids. I have the basic necessities of life taken care of. I can even afford a few extra things beyond the basic necessities. I’ve been able to advance at work. I’m creating websites and doing a little bit of public speaking. I have a book I am in the process of finishing. Life certainly has given me opportunities and afforded me comforts.

However, there is a dictator to all this. As I think about going to work for a full day and earning my keep, I realize that there is no real urgent driving force once my daily duties at work are taken care of. So long as I maintain my efforts there and don’t get fired, laid off, and the company stays in business, my family will be provided for, and the needs of life will be taken care of. The company is doing well right now and I’ve been able to make good headway with advancement and notoriety in the company, so the chances of me losing my job in any way seem to be slim right now.

The Problem

This leads me to take a deeper look at the situation I’m in. Because work is going well. Because I am comfortable, does that prevent me from utilizing my potential as best I could? If I were unemployed right now and my family was in danger of starving, would that light a fire that would create a progress that far surpasses what I am doing right now? This is the kind of stuff that I think about. I’m sincerely interested in making a large scale difference. But if I am comfortable, surely there are others out there who aren’t comfortable and are putting in more effort than me right?

Or maybe the problem isn’t really a problem. Perhaps I am doing a great job and reaching my maximum potential right now. Perhaps a good paying job, my extra projects, and a good family life is the maximum I am capable of. That has certainly crossed my mind as well. I even ask myself, why should I care about creating a business or writing a book. Why not just be happy with what I’ve got. I think I am happy with what I have. I am in good health and as I said before, life has taken care of keeping me comfortable and well taken care of, both financially, and with a good wife and children.

The Reason To Solve The Problem

The reason to do more. This video from the Matrix trilogy is the best example I can find of to overcome the apathy that would prevent me from being more than middle class. I still have the choice to pursue, grow, learn, and do more than I currently am. Why shouldn’t I? I have the ability to try, so it makes sense that I should do so. I am sure there are many in situations where they don’t have the opportunity to try – whether it be living conditions, or country lived in. Because I have the opportunity to do so without restriction, then I must. Even if it means working a ‘part-time’ job with an extra five hours a day doing my own work.

If you are reading this right now, then you probably have the option to choose in your life. You can choose to stay comfortable. You can choose to be a slave to stagnant routine. That is certainly your right to do so. Another choice is available. It is the choice to extend your capabilities and reach as far as you possibly can. What makes sense to you? What do you choose to do? What will either choice mean to your existence?

Image courtesy of Source: Cinderzelda.com

Saturday Thoughts (3/5/2011)

12:57 PM

My twin brother and I have put in over 400 hours now on a special web project we’re doing. Time could not slow down enough as the hours fly by while I’m working on it. We’ve got thousands of hours of work ahead of us to create something special. Working my day job for 8 hours and at home for another 5 to 8 hours a day is certainly an abnormal schedule. I’m not sure there is any other way – the world is a competitive place and only my best effort will suffice.

1:20 PM

About to start another reading of the first scroll from the book, “The Greatest Salesman In The World” by Og Mandino. After the first 40 pages, there are chapters for 10 scrolls. It is suggested to read each of these chapters, representing an ancient scroll, 3 times a day for 30 days. In 10 months, all the scrolls will be read. So far I’m only on the first scroll. The main message of the first scroll is beginning a new life and creating new habits. I’m certainly improving my habits – especially my idle and wasted time is down to about 0.

2:15 PM

How many people do you know that continually complain/gripe/vent about pretty much anything? This past week at work, I noticed a difference between people who complained -vs- those who instead of complaining actively sought solutions. Those seeking solutions were in positions of influence in the company, while those who complained were off the radar. Interesting. Does complaining really have any benefit? I’d love to see if it does. But for the life of someone who is actively engaged in a good cause, complaining is like stopping in the middle of a close race and allowing competitor’s to have a chance to pass you.

4:54 PM

Working on and off since 11:30 AM today. I spent a few hours with my girls, Ellie and Sienna playing ‘chase’ around the house. Sienna sure crawls fast for an almost one year old. I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve watched “The Social Network” about 12 times now. I identify with the main character from a technical stand point – I get the technical/hacking/putting up a website fast thing. I don’t know if Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is anything like the main character in the movie. Even if he is, you can’t deny the genius and sheer relentlessness of the guy.

11:59 PM

The day is over all too quickly. The time just speeds along when you are anxiously engaged in the work you are doing. I spent some time at my twin brother’s house today and am very excited about what we discussed. The potential really is limitless. I go to bed now exhausted from work and giving it my all. And that’s my message as I go to bed to the would be reader of this website. When you don’t feel like going further or doing that extra bit of work, do it. And then do more. There is no better feeling than going to bed satisfied with your labors.

Speaking Last Week at Sinclair

I’m very excited to share my experience with my last speaking gig. I mentioned last year a shift in my understanding that occurred when I went to go speak in front of an audience for the first time. A few months later now, I went to go speak with the same woman who owns a corporate wellness company called Salus Lifestyles, and this time I got paid for it. As I said before, I met this woman because she came to the company I work for at my day job and I went to talk to her afterward, and then began emailing her. And it has turned into opportunity. Let me share how the speaking went, which happened a week ago on Wednesday.

I was to speak at Sinclair in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a big gas/oil company. Once I found where the company was, I made my way with another gal (a nutritionist of Salus Lifestyles) into the big ‘training’ room where I would be presenting, along with the owner of Salus Lifestyles, Denise. We’d be tag teaming the speaking! I was tag teaming a speaking gig with the CEO of a company. Very cool. There were seats for about 50 people, in two columns of seats. I would be the one who opened the presentation by sharing a bit about myself, how I got there, what the employees of Sinclair could expect from Salus Lifestyles, sharing obesity trend statistics, and sharing how making a firm decision, with education, can help you change your life, even when facing a myriad of challenges (which I shared my own challenges – kidney stone, back surgery, etc…)

As I stood up in front of the first group of people at 10:00 AM, I genuinely felt care to the people there. I wanted them to know that they could make a difference and have positive results because I was living proof that it could be done. To start off, I asked a question:

“How many of you here know who I am, raise your hand.”

Nobody raised their hand. I responded.

“I keep thinking I’m going to be famous one of these days. I’ll keep trying.”

With the ice broken and the audience a little more relaxed, I went into my presentation.

“Because most of you here do not know me, I am challenged. The reason I am challenged is because it’s harder to understand someone unless you know who they are and where they are coming from. I want to remove the ‘stranger’ title I have. To do this, let me share a story of where I came from so you can see the distinction between what I’m doing here now and what I used to be like.”

“I didn’t always like to speak in front of people. In fact, I was downright petrified of it at a younger age. Whether it was speaking in front of a group, or reading out loud, I would clam up and literally be unable to breathe because of fright. I remember back when I was in high school, 9th grade. I was in science class. What seemed to be common practice was for a teacher to have students read from the text book out loud around the room. I looked at the clock and would gauge based on when my turn was next, if I would have to read in front of the class.”

“If I knew the time would come to an end before my turn I was relaxed. But if I knew there was a chance I would have to read in front of the class, then my heart began to race and I had a panic attack. In this case, it came to my turn to read.”

The teacher said, “Jeremy, could you read from such and such a page?”

“I froze like a Popsicle. My heart began to pound as if a band of drummers were striking it over and over. The world began to spin. I did the first thing that I could think of and told the teacher that I was not feeling well and was going to throw up. I then promptly left the room.”

“What an embarrassing moment as a young man, not really sure of myself and trying to understand what was going on. I’m thankful at an older age to know that with education, persistence, and a desire to change, that I can overcome any obstacle. My shyness and a timidness at a young age was overcome through education and seeking out answers. It took a lot of work, practice, and facing fears in order to get to where I am today. But it is possible.”

I think I connected with the audience with that story. It’s an essential learning experience for me to understand where I was, and what I am now. I actually love to get up in front of people and connect with groups. I want to be in front of as many people as possible.

I presented this five times and finishing by introducing Denise, the CEO of Salus Lifestyles. I think my message is my story. It is as simple as that. If I can overcome severe shyness and social anxiety, along with panic attacks, then anyone should be able to change their life around with some simple education and a desire to make a firm decision to do so. What a comfort that gives me as I am on this journey in life to know that all I need is a little education and a firm decision to make change in my life.

My hope for all of you is that whatever your main challenges are, that you will seek out the tools and resources that will help you solve those challenges. My hope is that you will make a firm decision to do so. After all, I’m living proof that you can do it.

2011 Direction

Thought I would kick off the new year highlighting a couple websites that are worth taking a look at – for making a difference both in your knowledge, and understanding of personal finance and the future.

Financial Samurai

An acquaintance who I look up to in terms of skill and determination in regards to understanding your finances. If you want more clarity and understanding, or just plain want to know how to have stable finances, look no further than this website.

Future Timeline

I found this site early last year and am impressed with the information it shares about the future. In fact, it is one of the reasons I believe I will live to be at least 200 years old :)

The future of this blog

As the new year has been around for a few days now, I’ve thought long and hard about my website. My website was online for most of 2010 (started in February). I’m a new blogger. I talk to my wife about it. I certainly have taken quite a few detours since this website’s inception. I certainly find myself flip flopping around with ideas. One day I think I should do something and another day something else. I’m not sure what causes this, maybe it’s hoping for that magic idea.

But the reality is that no idea instantly is created into something magical that fulfills all dreams. Otherwise everybody would have everything they’ve ever desired. Or perhaps people are really getting what they want and just don’t know it? Either way, what I’m getting at is that ideas, like a tree, take time to grow and flourish. I want to stick to a common theme on my website. I know I’ve brought this up a few times already. One could argue that I’m hurting my website by admitting that I just don’t know what I’m doing sometimes.

My Journey

2011 should see the following happen:

  • Finishing editing on my book and either working out a publishing deal, or self publishing it.
  • Engaging in more speaking opportunities than I’ve ever done. In fact, I have one tomorrow.
  • The completion of a major website project with my twin brother.

I think if I focus on my journey – how me, a developer in a cubicle, born with autism, flattened with a kidney stone surgery and lower back surgery, can go from good to great – from rags to riches. Though I wouldn’t call it rags. I have it pretty good even now. But still, the story of one who finds a way to go from middle class to upper class is always inspiring.

So that’s what I will write about. And I’ll remember this article anytime I’m tempted to change my mind.

Who Are You?

Who are you?
Are you waiting for that special moment?
Or are you busy creating many special moments?

Are you happy?
Is your soul continually wrenched wondering when your time will come?
Or is your time happening every moment?

Is life a storm to be weathered to the end?
Or is it a journey to be experienced and enjoyed?
Is it a struggle or does it come easy?

Have you given up hope?
Are your decisions made without thought?
Or do you move forward with effortless precision?

What is your gift?
Do you believe you have no gift?
Or do you believe you are meant to give to many?

Are you truthful?
Do you bury the truth, covering it with the cream of deception?
Or does the truth guide you to understand and correct?

What do you want?
Are you content to just get by?
Or do you constantly seek your utmost desires?

You are somebody.
And somebody can do something.
And that something is what determines who you are.

———-

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I wish you a merry Christmas. Either way, as the year comes to a close, my hope is that you’ll begin to ask questions about yourself, where you are at, and perhaps who you are and what you are capable of. Is life a struggle or something that can be a thriving experience? Only you can answer this. Best wishes to you!

Problems and Solutions

I did an experiment on Facebook recently. Over the course of a week I asked two questions on different days. The first was “What are the top 3 problems in the world?” That was followed up a few days later with “What are the top 3 solutions in the world?” I asked these questions to see what people would say. The purpose of this article will be to analyze and share insight into problems and solutions, and to see what each of us might do better to become part of the solutions.

Problems

After asking this question, I got the following responses (which I have condensed as some were repeated multiple times):

  • Poverty
  • Dishonesty
  • Lack of faith
  • Lack of rule of law
  • Lack of property rights
  • Selfishness
  • Lack of education
  • Sense of entitlement (and being exempt from law)
  • Apathy (lack of interest/concern)
  • Contention
  • Greed

Several of the answers talked about a lack of faith. No surprise was the fact that each person who said this was religious. Multiple instances of greed, lack of education, poverty, and entitlement appeared as well. I noticed that when I asked this question, responses came in rapidly. I’d be willing to say that it is not hard to discover problems, particularly where the world is concerned. I’m sure if I were to take this question and had thousands of subscribers to answer it in a survey, that I’d see many more issues.

Solutions

Next I posed the question about the top 3 solutions in the world. Here were some of the responses:

  • Rule of law
  • Property rights
  • Faith, hope, charity
  • Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women. ;) (person joking)
  • Mountain Dew (person joking)
  • Ice cream (person joking)

The list of solutions is much shorter (and two of them are jokes). Duplicate answers came in the form of faith and religious views. One person is very adamant about rule of law and property rights. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of data to share here. It seems that coming up with solutions – even one line solutions without detail, was not as easy as coming up with problems. Also notice that several of these are jokes/cynical responses.

Discussion

So why should anyone care? Good question. Am I doing anything to solve a problem right now? My hope is that I will give a perspective that will help you be solution oriented. I feel this is important because of how easy it is to talk about problems. Also interesting was that nobody joked about the problems. Yet when the solutions question came, joke/cynical answers followed. Is this a coincidence? Is finding a solution so difficult that a a joke/cynical answer is the only alternative? This makes me think.

It’s easy to state a problem. So easy, that a joke/cynical answer was probably not even thought of. But the solutions, that is where the barrier shot up. That is where I sensed less of a desire to engage in discussion. This is where I realized that problems are easy to see and talk about. Solutions is where the disconnect lies.

I’ll share a few examples of problems now and together we can see the pattern:

The toilet is busted

Yes, that may be very apparent. It took about one second to see that and declare it. One second. But, what about the solution to the problem. That takes time, skill, effort, reasoning, problem solving, and perhaps a little discomfort. It’s not quite as easy as mouthing off the problem. Let’s do a few more.

My job sucks

Very easy to say. Takes a second, and can be repeated many times with little to no effort. But what about a solution? That’s where the barriers come up. That would mean taking time to examine the job, your life, what skills you have, finding a new job. That is a stark contrast from the ease of affirming a simple sentence over and over.

I want more money

Easy to say. Does not take an ounce of thought. And so many people affirm it daily. But the solution to this problem. That is a different story. It might mean examining your life, finances, spending, skills, philosophy, and partner. But it’s easier to just affirm the one liner. And so most people do. How do I know this? Ask yourself if you or anyone you know wants more money. Then see what the answer is.

Conclusion

It’s easy to use a one line affirmation to state a problem. It doesn’t take much effort and can be done multiple times. The harder part is declaring a solution and putting the solution into motion. Often times it’s easier to see if someone else will solve the problem. My hope is that after reading and seeing these simple examples, that when it comes to problems and solutions, you will become engaged in solution focused discussion and action.

A Death Bed Experience

I traveled to the hospital today… with my wife. While doing so, I was reading, “The Innovators Dilemma.” It’s a book about change and possible ways to be ready for it, using technology as the main example. The interesting dilemma I saw was not so much the examples in the book, but what happened to me as I arrived at the hospital.

You see, my wife’s step mom is now hospitalized, having suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was rushed to the hospital a few days ago after not being able to be revived by paramedics. An emergency surgery later, she now lays in a hospital bed, kept alive by tubes and life support.

I saw her there laying on the bed. Her head was shaved. She had a several inch long incision on the side of her head. “Life really is short,” I thought to myself over and over. I’m 32 years old now. I have dreams of living forever. But today, a stone cold reality chilled me. Some day I may face a similar fate and be dead. It is possible. Not to think so is naive.

I thought about my blog. It’s mostly a collection of my thoughts and life journey – a journal of sorts. I think most of us want to leave this life knowing we made a difference. Seeing someone in a state of near death has a way of making an impression.

I’m not afraid to say that I want to make a massive difference. I really do. And I’m trying with all the energy I can muster. Just reading a book a week alone has been a massive and difficult change for me. Some days I wonder if I should just hang it up and accept that my fate will be ordinary. After all, in eight months, my blog hasn’t really generated much interest.

I think about that last statement. What would make the website of Jeremy Noel Johnson more interesting? Would it be becoming a master salesman? Would it be learning psychological techniques to hook readers into wanting more? Would it be creating massively long sales pages to try and find the right combination to “sell” someone?

I don’t know the answer. I see “successful” people and most of them have popups and lead capture pages and write in a way that captures the attention of people. Is that really what it takes to get more than 30 website visitors a day? Surely the world is ready for something more than that.

If you can’t tell, I was affected today by seeing someone who will most likely be dead soon. Someone that I know and that my wife knows closely. For my own peace of mind, I want to know that I’ve reached many people and that I didn’t have to use online internet “tricks” to do it. That I didn’t have to tweak and do A/B testing to find the right “combination” of words, colors, and images to manipulate psychology.

Maybe this is just wishful thinking. Perhaps mastering salesmanship techniques is what is required. But right now, I resist that. I can’t accept that. I have to keep pushing on the fly wheel. After eight months, there has been little result to see. But I’ve got to keep pushing on the wheel. Because my hope is that the wheel will start moving. Just a little movement someday must surely be possible. I can do all I can, learn all I can, and adapt all I can and leave the rest up to the universe. That is what one man can do.

My conclusion from this reflection is that I will keep doing all I can. I will keep reading. I will keep learning. Surely this effort will pay off. Life is too short to just sit in my damn cubicle at work all day. I’ve got to do even more at my day job. The urgency is surely increasing. At the end of my life, if all I have to show is that I sat in a cubicle all day, then I will surely feel the pain of regret.

So let’s make a difference, you and I. Let’s do something more than what we are at our day job. Let’s set a new standard for our online websites. Your accounting to yourself at the end of your life demands it. Make a difference in your health. Stop eating those frickin’ burgers and fries. Make a difference in your family. Share something amazing with them. We never know when our turn on the death bed will come…

Why Are There Ups And Downs?

Do you wonder why some days just plain stink and other days you feel like you are on top of the world? Why is life like a roller coaster? Is there a way to have the life you want, even with ups and downs? What will you gain by focusing on what an amazing life to you is? What are the three single most important things you can do in your life to have a life that is amazing regardless of ups and downs? These are important questions and you’ll find answers to them as you read on.

I felt good the other day. Like I could take on the world. Everything was going to go according to plan. A week later, I am laying down feeling unmotivated to do anything and as I watch the hours pass by and the end of the day come, I ask myself if I could just go back to the beginning of the day and try again. I understand those who say life is like a roller coaster. Some days are great, others are disappointing. I’m going to talk about my ups and downs and seek to understand them better. By doing this, I hope to gain more ability to make a difference.

The Downs

First off, a down day can occur from being very sick or having an unfortunate event happen. Take having the stomach flu, for instance. This is a rotten event that makes living difficult. Or someone you know may have experienced something unfortunate. Events like this are our of your control. For purposes of this article, let’s talk about what causes a down day that is our own doing. What makes us feel like the day just wasn’t that great that we are completely responsible for?

Night time, just before bed, seems to be the best time for me to reflect about the day. This is a good time because most of the days events should be easy to recall at that point. You can also think about how you feel and if what occurred during the day was worthwhile to you. I’ll use myself as an example here. Here’s what happened when I had a day that just didn’t feel right.

I woke up late. That seems to be the kickoff for me to a day that just doesn’t go well. Usually I will have spent more than 30 minutes in front of the television. If I spent any more than just a quick check of my email, that tends to be a clue for a bad day. Surfing websites that don’t provide a learning/growing opportunity also attribute to feeling lousy at the end of the day. If I stuffed my face with food unnecessarily, that usually creates a feeling of frustration at the end of the day. If I focused on negative aspects of my life, that created a depressed feeling at the end of a day. And finally, if I did not engage in any physical activity, I find the end of a day less than ideal.

So here’s a recap of the list I came up with:

  • Slept in.
  • Watched TV.
  • Lengthy time checking email.
  • Surfed uninspiring online websites.
  • Ate too much.
  • Dwelled on negatives.
  • Didn’t exercise.

If I were to report at the end of the day to my mentor, Jim Rohn, that this is what happened, I know he would very quickly say to me, “Jeremy, you have MESSED up!” That’s all he would need to say. And yet, I still have days like this. Why is that? Why can we have a day where we feel like we’re walking on air, and others where our life is crumbling around us? Is it possible we are just being batted around like a volleyball with no control over our lives?

The Ups

Think about the following questions:

“What would it take for you to feel like life is all you could ever have hoped for and then some as you go to sleep at night?”

“What would make your life so amazing that you were sure it was a dream by the end of each day?”

“What would you need to do and become each day to have a life that is everything and more to you?”

To start with, perhaps taking the opposite of my sucky day is all that is needed. Is it really that simple? Let’s find out. I’ll just take the opposite of what makes my days terrible. The simple answer seems to be to un-mess the day. So here’s how that happens:

  • Wake up early.
  • Don’t watch TV
  • Briefly glance at email.
  • Read inspiring websites.
  • Eat proportionately.
  • Focus on positives.
  • Exercise.

I think about the above three questions as I picture a day like this. Certainly the day seems better. But something is missing. When I focus on a life that matches internally what I want it to become, I don’t feel I get that by just taking the opposite of what makes my day suck. Let’s think about this more. What is the answer then, to avoiding ups and downs and having a life that is everything we want?

There won’t stop being ups and downs. That was the first thing that came to mind. Life will give us events we can’t control. This is a brutal fact. So getting rid of ups and downs was right out. Will we get it by just reverting back to what makes us feel lousy at the end of a day? That didn’t seem like the right thing to me. What could it be? I found myself getting very frustrated as I tried to understand what would make my life amazing. Then two words came to my mind.

Creation, Connection, and Progress

Hmm. Why would creation, connection, and progress come to my mind? Surely there are people who could care less about doing either of these. But then again, everyone can benefit from creation of an idea, connection with an individual or team, and progress that increases capability. Could it be that the reason my days suck sometimes is because I have not created anything? Or that I haven’t connected with anyone? Or that I have not progressed in some way?

How do you feel when you’ve lost a few pounds? Pretty good right? What about when you gain a few pounds back? Not so good. How do you feel when you share something that helps someone? What about being part of a team. Doesn’t that feel good? I guess it depends on the team and who is on it! But if you’ve even been on a team where everyone is aligned to a singular goal, I can tell you, there’s no feeling like it. Even if the team does not win many games, that kind of togetherness is meaningful.

And I don’t say this just as mere thought and guessing. I played sports in elementary, middle, and high school – particularly basketball. I’ve taken part in city and church basketball teams as well. I’ve been part of some pretty disorganized teams. I’ve also had the privilege to be on a team where everything gels. I’ve seen people grow and people stay stagnant in their lives. I know a man who tried playing ping pong at first and was terrible at it. He could barely even strike the ball. A few months later, he was slamming back shots and cleaning house with his opponents.

Creation

I’ve seen the joy in someone who is constantly creating. I think creation is probably the single most important element to having a life that is everything you want. Let’s ask some questions to stir your creative side.

  • What do you find most interesting in life that you could share with others?
  • What past experiences could you write about that would help someone?
  • What service could you provide using a skill of yours that would be valuable?
  • What could you construct or build that would give you satisfaction?
  • What would it be like to see the end result of something amazing you created just from your thoughts?

Now we’re cooking! Creation isn’t difficult. All that you have to do is think first and then put into action that thought. Ever built a sand castle? You created it from your thoughts. What about building blocks or Legos? Whatever you created with those first came from thought. Ever written a short story? What about building a chair? All of this is creation from your thoughts. And it isn’t overly complex! What do you have the knowledge of right now that would allow you to create something? This would be a good start to having a day that is everything you want. Start creating things from your interests.

Connection

Is connecting more than just talking to someone? Would real connection mean first finding someone who will inspire you, and then working with them in a way to do something better? Is connection with someone who does not have your best interests going to help you? These are good questions. I know for myself, that I have not connected with nearly enough people. I’ve dabbled in it. Honestly, I spent most of my life a shy mess unable to communicate. I enjoy communicating now, but the whole making real lasting connections with people is still somewhat new to me.

Still, I can pinpoint days where I felt extremely fulfilled. And a big part of it was making a connection with someone. I take Sam, from Financial Samurai, for instance. I connected with him by volunteering to help him with a project on his website. Ultimately, what I created did not get used, but that is ok. To this day, he is someone I can communicate with and he is liked minded – someone who has a philosophy of doing all he possibly can.

There are others: Jarrod from Optimistic Journey, Kim from Mindset Success Coaching, and Therese from Therese Miu. Each of these individuals is also like minded to myself and I find myself invigorated when having even a brief discussion with any of them.

There are people on the internet who think like you do. That is a wonderful thing about having the internet isn’t it? You can connect with virtually anyone.

Progress

Creation and connection are great. But they are not complete without progress. In order to really feel like life is worthwhile, I’ve found that progress is essential. I’ve tried not making progress. I’ve tried sleeping in, watching TV all day, and in general, not doing much of anything. I felt miserable. Everything in life was “hard” when I was doing this. Do any of you know someone stuck in a rut like this? Chances are, that person is not making progress and as a result, is very irritable.

Making progress doesn’t mean tomorrow having a million dollars. It doesn’t mean you’ll lose all the extra weight in a few days. But it does mean you might earn a few extra dollars tomorrow. It does mean you might weigh a pound less tomorrow. That is progress. Something you can measure with a number – or a feeling. What does progress mean to you? Is it just making it through a day? That is survival, not progress. Progress is moving from one location to another. Progress is not standing still. Well, unless you are avoiding grabbing a drink or smoking a cigarette. Then standing still might be progress.

It’s easy to tell if you are making progress. Just ask yourself each night, “Did I do anything that has made me better in health, finances, or relationships?” If the answer is yes, chances are you took an action that improved yourself or a situation. If so, congratulations.

Conclusion

Life will have its ups and downs. You are not going to get rid of them. But what you can do is take action in the areas of creating, connecting, and progressing. You can do this regardless of what is going on around you. This is the key to having a life that is everything you could want and more. Because in the end, if you have done everything you can, you can sleep happily accepting whatever the results may be.

To Make A Difference

Up To This Point

I’ve had my website online for 7 months now. When I first started it, I wasn’t sure exactly what it should be about. In February, 2010, right after I had lower back surgery, I decided to just start it. I had a lot of time to think and work after my surgery. The time allowed me to get an entire WordPress blog setup with configured plugins and a complete layout. In total, I probably spent over 100 hours just getting the site ready, setup, and launched (with many hours spent tweaking things that probably weren’t worth the time :)).

At first, I wanted to do a website with a ‘magical wizard’ theme that talked about the ‘magic’ of taking action. Then it was shortened to ‘dream; progress; complete; repeat’. Then it became ‘higher learning for success’. With all this change it was probably a bad idea for me to create the website without a clear and specific reason why. Even so, I created it and wrote many articles, some of which were completely random thoughts. My YouTube channel especially is a mess of unrelated videos.

Without a clear purpose to the website, about 75% of my content in the first 7 months was complete garbage. There was no substance at all to it. I feel more focused over the last 2 months though. My articles are getting better. Still, I can look back at all my content in the last 7 months and laugh and learn as I reflect on it. One in particular, “The Orange Description” just makes me laugh.

I did hit some nails on the head though. My first breakthrough article was “The Ant Philosophy”, which I learned from Jim Rohn. “A Shift In Understanding” was another I thought went really well, though the comments on it were less.

Those kinds of articles are so simple to create. I remember writing them. The content just flowed. In total, 22 comments (including my own comments) exist on “The Ant Philosophy” article. That’s the highest for my website right now. The Ant Philosophy quickly became one of my top 3 popular articles. Still, I didn’t know the real purpose of my website at that point. I just knew I wanted to help people. Then inspiration struck.

Make A Difference

I was putting our 3 year old daughter, Ellie, to bed a couple nights ago when I started to examine what I was doing. Ellie was lying in her bed and I just finished telling her a story. She smiled, grabbed her ‘kitty’ toy and rolled over to go to sleep. I realized that I had made a difference to my daughter that night. It hit me there and then. That’s all I want to do. I just want to make a difference.

As I thought about it more, I realized that’s probably what you want to do too. You want to make a difference in the world somehow. You want to affect people in a positive way. You want to leave something great behind before you die. I realize that is the purpose of my website. It is to help people make a difference. After all, that’s my main goal in life. If nothing else, I’ll have a journal that I can use that helps me on this path. If something I share helps another, that’s just icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

I feel like I’m at the beginning of my journey. I see many professionals and public figures that seem so far ahead in their journey of making a difference. People like Ray Kurzweil, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Tony Robbins, and Steve Pavlina seem to be at a level that would take me 10 lifetimes to reach. But I realize that part of the journey is removing limiting beliefs. Part of it is not comparison, but what each of us individually can do with the talents and abilities we have. After all, we’re all human beings and we all have to start somewhere.

All this isn’t to say that the last 7 months have accumulated uselessness. Far from it in fact. Just in the last 2 months, I feel like I’ve created some real possibilities at my day job and also landed a contract to do public speaking. Such things were out of my realm of possibility even 6 months ago. At my day job, I’m running meetings now. I’m making a difference on a larger scale. I’m even meeting one on one with our CTO this Wednesday. The new direction of making a difference feels like the right kind of laser focused approach for me and my heart and mind are aligned in its purpose.

Where To Start

The first important piece of knowledge that is missing right now on my website is how to get started making a difference. If I were someone coming here and wanted to make a difference, that’s what I would look for. So that is where I will begin. It will be how to get started making a difference. I believe I have the knowledge to solve this problem in a way that is extremely valuable. And I’ll be applying everything I create. I will be my first customer so to speak.

I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with you. Who knows where we’ll be in a year or two. I just might be giving a seminar that you’ll be attending. I’ll finish by saying this. It’s my first unique quote to me. “Do your best always and accept whatever the results may be.”

The Difference In Your Fulfillment

This article and video is being done in a partnership with Therese Miu. Therese is a talented and bright woman who shares insights related to health and inspiration. She has a positive energy about her that is contagious. Just take a moment and visit her blog. You’ll be glad you did.

The gist of our collaboration project is what makes you feel fulfilled and unfulfilled. This is nothing more than feeling like you are making a difference in your life and living to your full potential. Below is a video that my wife helped me film. In it, I talk about the difference between being fulfilled and unfulfilled. It really comes down to one simple thing. Watch the video to learn what that is.

I also have a list of specific things you can do today to be fulfilled. They are not terribly difficult to do – the hardest part is getting started with them. But watch out for my second list. In it you will see some of the worst things you can do, which will lead to depression and being unfulfilled.

Fulfillment

  • Arising early on your terms with a clear vision of the day.
  • Physically exercising at least 3 times a week in strength, flexibility, and endurance.
  • Finding ways to give more value to someone than they are currently getting consistently.
  • Creating or doing your passion regularly.
  • Eating/drinking foods that will provide you with health, strength, and proper nourishment.

Un-fulfillment

  • Sleeping in.
  • Being lazy in learning.
  • Thinking only of yourself.
  • Putting off your dream/passion.
  • Eating and drinking whatever you want whenever you want.

Ultimately, your best effort will determine your fulfillment. Give it all you got. Whatever comes from that you can accept fully and completely because you did your very best. I think giving your best means acting on the inspiration you receive to do what you are capable of doing. Sometimes you’ll succeed. Other times you’ll fail. Either way is fine because you have increased in learning.

Ask yourself the question, “Are you fulfilled?” Are you living your life’s purpose? Are there people around you that you could help more clearly live their life purpose? Do the best you can and accept the results – whatever they may be. Many thanks to Therese Miu for collaborating with me on this project. Happy living everyone!

Am I Qualified?

I was sitting down today at my computer with my three year old daughter, Ellie on my left leg and my five month old daughter, Sienna, on my right leg. They were watching music videos with me. There we were, all three of us, just having a good time. As I sat down, I thought of a question…

Am I Qualified?

Right now, the World Basketball Championships are being held in Turkey. The United States is playing to qualify for the Olympics which will be held in 2012, in London, England. If they lose, they have to try again in another tournament, the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship. If they lose that, they don’t get to go to the Olympics in 2012.

I’m going to focus on being qualified in regards to economics for the purpose of this article. There’s many things to be qualified for. Being qualified to play basketball in the Olympics. Or to to be a father, husband, friend, minister, etc… But I want to talk economics because I like numbers and can use what I earn now as a measuring stick.

I look at my qualifications right now and how it relates to me earning the kind of income I believe I can. Jim Rohn really hit it home for me. He said we get paid for bringing value to the marketplace. Some people make $40 an hour (that’s in the BALL PARK of what I make – I’m not revealing my salary, I signed an agreement not too). Some make $400 an hour. And some make many tens of millions of dollars a year. Economics is important to me. It is a real measuring stick of how I am doing. The big question is, “How can you earn more?”

Good question. Am I qualified right now to earn $400 an hour? That’s an important number to me. It represents the peak of what I might accomplish with my current set of economic standards. I could ask my boss for a raise. Let’s see what $400 an hour comes out to. One moment while I get my calculator out. That’s $832,000 a year.

So one way to see if I am qualified for that kind of income is to go ask my boss and his boss for a raise equal to ten times what I’m making right now. I’m not delusional mind you. Not usually anyway. I realize that it would be absurd to just waltz in and ask for that. But if I can’t envision myself earning the income and having the courage to demand it, then I might be in for a slow ride to the top.

So what do I do? Spend the next 10 years going to business school and then the next 20 trying to be a CEO? If I go by salaries, that’s the only way I am going to get to ten times my salary. By being a CEO that gets paid well and has many incentives (bonuses and stock options) to further supplement my income.

Am I Qualified To Be A CEO?

All right, let’s use a CEO as an example. By educational standards, I am NOT qualified to be a CEO. Right now I’m a web developer who is on a mission to get the most out of myself that I can. I recently got promoted (by title and work) to “Scrum Master”. This is a leadership position to help our team more quickly (and with higher quality) develop better software. I don’t know if it will translate into more pay. But I do know it will translate into more experience.

But I digress. I’m talking about being qualified to earn ten times what I do right now. And my first idea is to be a CEO because they earn ten times what I do. And that is the current highest peak I can see for myself right now. I have the ability to walk up to our CEO at work and say, “I can do what you do. Let me show you.” I might get laughed at. But let’s examine this for a moment.

Our CEO excels at getting the right people around him. He’s got the education and experience to back up his title. But he plays more the role of the Wizard of Oz in his job than an expert in any particular discipline. That is, he’s not going to be an accountant or a web developer or in sales. But he does excel in bringing smart people into the right roles. Hmmmm.

A Recurring Theme

The harder I work at my job, the more I see the limit of what I can earn. This seems counter-intuitive to me. If you work hard, shouldn’t you get paid more for that? I’m realizing that the answer is a resounding NO! Sure, you can get paid for having a valuable skill, but you become a puzzle piece by doing that. Just one of many pieces that make up an entire whole (a company).

Most of the people I see earning a high level of income are those whose influence is extending to many people. They are the people who take the puzzle pieces and make something out of it. Somehow the high income earners are able to affect large numbers of people. How do they do this? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not qualified to answer it based on my experience. But I am qualified to share my insights and experiences. Qualified because I have a desire to teach through them.

Choosing is more than thinking. It is actually moving and doing. Right now my fingers are typing fast on the keyboard. This is more than me just sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn. I’m choosing to do something. I believe high income earners CHOOSE to make the income they do. The ability to choose this is such an important distinction. So I am going to make a choice about my income right now.

I Will Make…

$832,000 a year. Hmm, something isn’t right. I feel as if a giant fog is covering my mind when I say that statement. It’s as if I’m uttering gibberish that nobody can understand. There is an emptiness. A void. To put it bluntly I think, “How in the hell am I going to do that?” I don’t know. I’m earning 1/10 of that right now and I feel like I’m hitting a wall…

I could give up and just say, “Well, whatever I get I’ll just have to live with.” I could change my state right now and play The Chosen Ones by Dream Evil. I could listen to The Eye of The Tiger. I could yell to myself, “Step up! Step up! Earn your place. Let’s go do it!” But like rubbing an antique lamp hoping for a Geni, this by itself will not yield the wish I desire.

This blog is about getting the most out of yourself that you possibly can. Can I possibly make $832,000 a year? I believe it’s possible. I believe I’m an intelligent being capable of making good things happen. I’m reminded of the movie, “The Count of Monte Cristo.” In it, Edmond Dantes and his bodyguard are in the midst of a horde of of treasure. Boxes and boxes are piled in their skiff so much that it is nearly tipping over. His bodyguard is ecstatic while he stares with a blank face.

He’s more concerned with getting revenge against those who have wronged him. He’s too angry to see the fortune in front of him. Thankfully the Count turns himself around and ends up using his money for good. I know there is a danger in focusing too much on the money side of things. But I also know the good that can be done for others and my family with an economic fortune. Therefore…

I Demand It Of Myself

I demand it of myself. Not for glory. Not for fame. For my family. For extending my reach as far as I possibly can. The question, “Am I Qualified?” is certainly the tough one to face right now. But this dollar amount is so clearly etched in my mind right now that I can’t shake it. $832,000 in a year. Jim Rohn said that America is a ladder to climb to economic fortune. I most certainly am not going to make $832,000 this year. But I can start going up the ladder…

The rungs of the ladder that must be faced for me are the following:

Assertiveness

Quite frankly, I’m a really nice guy. I think I will always be so. But to make $832,000 in a year, you have to have a pretty high standard. You have to create expectations and results that far exceed average. You have to get more out of people than they could get out of themselves. I’m not assertive enough right now. The reality is that I must be willing to be aggressive, persuasive, and charismatic to lead people. I’m not going to get $832,000 without help…

Planning

My planning really suffers. I couldn’t sleep at night were I to say that I’m a master planner. I know a number now, $832,000. Now I can make a plan to get there. A series of steps to build up to the climax. Baby steps one at a time to the end goal.

Knowledge

I need to ramp this up big time. A book a week to start. Tapes, videos, and seminars as often as I can. Finding time in the morning, day, and evening will be crucial for this.

Focus

To create the value of $832,000 a year, I must be more focused than the majority of people. I must be so focused that I am able to create ideas and inspiration that is far beyond what is being offered right now.

Spirituality

I’m not sure why I’m thinking of spirituality here. I tend to rely on my own skills more than anything. But for what I am trying to accomplish, I am going to have to get help from a higher power. I believe there is a higher power available to guide us. I will be asking for guidance and strength from that source.

Am I Qualified Or Delusional?

I think this is an important question. I see delusional as someone who thinks they can do something but in reality has no chance of accomplishing it due to factors the person is not able to see – factors outside of their scope of understanding. There might be some of those factors right now for me that I don’t see. But I’m still willing to try. And I understand I don’t know everything. Who knows, I might learn that when you reach a certain economic point, that a number isn’t nearly as important…

My poor wife might think I’m crazy. But I’ve never set a number like this before. I’ve thought about earning $250,000 before. I even wrote it down. But it was a random number. I didn’t put events in motion to get there. I believe I’m more prepared to do so now. I’m not afraid of trying. I’m more afraid of one day facing my life and being asked why I didn’t utilize my talents to their full potential. That frightens me more than the scariest monster…

A Shift In Understanding

I was driving north on the freeway today during lunch. I had my first speaking engagement for a company and I was excited! As I continued to drive north, I very quickly saw a large section of dark clouds on the left. Then the rain came. And it came harder. Soon my wipers on the car were at full speed and it was still hard to see. While this was happening, I was looking at the printout from Google Maps to help me find the exit to take. I felt like the storm just might consume me.

By this time I had to use the restroom with an urgency well above what I am normally accustomed to. This led me to pull into a 7-11 after exiting the freeway. I pulled in the parking spot and turned off the car. It felt like a stampede was running on top of my car the rain was so fierce. I quickly got out and ran into the 7-11. I was completely drenched in only a couple seconds. Someone up above had fire hoses turned on!

But there was no stopping me. I used the restroom and walked back to the door to leave. I asked the man at the counter of the 7-11 if I should go outside in the torrential down pour. He said, “Yes, we want more entertainment.” I laughed, opened the door (to the 7-11) and bolted for my car. The key to the door took a few turns to get in and as I pried open the door and sat down, I was REALLY drenched. But I drove and found my way to a company where I was a guest speaker. It was exciting!

Giving a talk while drenched

I was too excited to notice I was soaked. I’m sure I was an amusing sight, walking in the company dripping wet. But it didn’t bother me. It actually felt great! No silly storm with pounding rain was going to mess my mojo up!

The company was a home and business furniture/furnishing company. I spoke for about 15 minutes to a group of eight people, one of whom was the owner. The presentation I gave involved creating the right habits in your life. What struck me the most was that these people were eager to listen and learn. They obviously were hungry for knowledge to give them an edge. I can see that now, with one being the owner and several others holding key top positions in the company.

In a nutshell, I talked about my shifts and experiences in my life that were creating a new path for me. I had autism at an early age and for some miraculous reason, I beat it. I had their secretary demonstrate the difference between a soft and firm decision by hitting the table with her flat hand. The first time was very soft – not very firm. The next time I had her smack the table really hard. It got the point across. As I shared my story of P90X, I got the sense that I was making an impact.

The Wrap Up

I finished by sharing how timid and shy I was growing up. That if a kid from Kalamazoo, Michigan, born with autism and constricted through timidity and shyness can get a speaking arrangement to talk to a company, that they should be able to accomplish whatever it is they are trying to do.

This opened my eyes. For so long I’ve tried to talk to people around me about the philosophies of personal growth and higher learning that have so enriched my life. But it usually falls on deaf ears. What a shift to be in front of a group of people who were ready and willing to learn. This is a breakthrough of sorts for me. I almost couldn’t believe it, to be honest. But they listened and ate up what I said and applauded afterward!

The good news is that the woman I spoke with owns a corporate wellness business. That is, she offers packages, which include speaking, to companies to help the employees improve their overall lifestyle, which in turn will add to the bottom line of a company, because healthy and happy employees equals more productivity. She said she will be creating a contract for me Monday and was extremely happy with the job I did. There is a good chance I will be doing more speaking.

A Belief That People Are Out There

Faye, a regular commenter on my website left a comment recently that was further augmented today. It is that there are people out there who will listen. I know there are people who will listen to what I have to say, for I have a grand tale to tell – about a boy who overcame autism, timidness, and shyness to live a dream of writing, inspiring, enriching, and uplifting others to become more than they are.

Be More Valuable

I was at work today, intensely concentrating on some JavaScript code for a project I am working on. As I was doing so, I was startled as my boss came by and asked me to come speak with him and our current scrum master at work – this guy (the scrum master) has come in to help us all with better software development practices so we can get more valuable software released sooner. Basically, it’s a way for us to be cool. At any rate, as I walked in the office and they shut the door, they asked me, “Would you like to be the scrum master for your team?” I said, “Ok. I can get the job done. This is a good opportunity.”

Now wait a minute… I’m a buck tooth awkward kid from Kalamazoo, Michigan. I spent my years hiding my head in my hands all the way through high school and college. At 30 I found myself playing World of Warcraft constantly and out of a job from a company that let me go. How come now I get asked to help lead a team? Simple answer, “I became more valuable and can get the job done.”

Creating value

I’ll let Jim Rohn educate you on the philosophy of creating value with these videos below. He speaks so eloquently that I thought it best for you to hear his words. After listening to him, I’ll have a few words to say from my own perspective about creating value and getting the job done.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Learning What Not To Do

In my early 20’s I worked doing data entry for a library company. I remember walking in one day in the foulest of moods. I was frustrated with the owner and just about every manager there. As I sat down to do my peon work, I grumbled with every keystroke. What had I done to become more valuable? Absolutely nothing! It was so easy to just belittle the management there while I sat and did my monotonous tasks.

Here’s the major problem with that. You can’t become more valuable through discontent. It’s like trying to move the pen resting on the table with your thoughts. There just might be a rare case that you can move it, but more than likely, it’s going to sit there and you’re just going to be ticked off.

Let’s turn back time even more to when I worked at a Burger King in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was 17 at the time. I came into work with my hat covering my face. I didn’t talk to anyone and I did my best to run into the bathroom with Oreo pie sandwiches when the place got busy. I needed to take a week off and I wrote a note to my manager and left. Big problem, I forgot to sign the note with my name. So when I returned, I was promptly fired.

Here’s another problem. You can’t become more valuable through ignorance. At 17, I thought I was the smartest living thing on the earth. Looking back, I was an ignorant kid without a clue. You want to become more valuable? Start studying and mastering your profession. Don’t waltz in with a bad attitude. If you want to see change where you work, be the change!

Why Become More Valuable

Every person has to decide for them-self why they do anything. But I believe there’s two main reasons to become valuable. Here they are.

To extend your reach as far as you possibly can

Jim Rohn said an interesting thing while speaking to a group of psychologist’s many years ago. They asked him, “What most messes with the mind?” He responded by saying, “I think it is not doing all that you could be doing.” What a swift analysis and powerful statement.

Jim Rohn posed this question, “How tall will a tree grow?” Answer, “As tall as it possibly can!” Will a tree ever grow half as tall as it can? No. They will reach and grow with all the sunlight given them to the maximum they are capable of doing. As human beings we have the ability to choose whether we will do the same. If you yearn for peace of mind and fulfillment, a good place to start is doing all you possibly can in your life.

To earn as much as you possibly can

Economics play a role in society today. There is a direct relation between what you get paid and the value you bring to an organization. Perhaps in the future we will no longer need ‘money’ to do and create many of the things we would like to in life. But for now, capitalism is the best system we have. You want to earn more? Become more valuable.

I started off making $4.50 an hour at Burger King. Now I make over 10 times that. How is that even possible? Inflation AND more importantly, becoming more valuable. I’m in this new position because I made my intentions known and asked for a challenge – and I had the value to back it up. Will I fail? If I do, it won’t be because of a lack of effort…

In the future, I believe I’ll be worth over $400 an hour. This will be because of my increased value. Want the same economic fortune? Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. Become more valuable.

There’s no coincidence between my inspiration and subjective reality experiments and what is happening to me. I’m more assertive, more confident, and more willing to take risks. It’s only been a few days and I’m already feeling the positive affects.

The World Needs You

This is a short little poem/article for those of you who are inspired. It is for those of you who are leaders. It is a call to those who are looking to find the extent of their reach. It is for those who desire to lift others up.

The world needs you. There are oil spills and those who complain of such. The world needs your inspiration. It needs your wisdom. It needs a clear and strong voice against the bickering friction of the issues today.

The world needs you. The norm is to complain of the president, of government, of taxes, of corruption. The world needs your strong voice of reason. The world needs your intelligence and insights. The world needs a champion.

The world needs you. At times those who did thrive now struggle. Those who struggle now thrive. The world needs you to be a light for those who struggle. The world needs you to buoy up those who are sinking.

The world needs you. You have the power to choose. Each time you choose to become just a little bit better, you are leaving the world better than it was. Your daily choices to do just a little bit better will collectively increase abundance.

You are remarkable. Whether you’re an enriched philanthropist, or a humble school teacher, you have the ability to influence for good, for understanding, for an increase in the human race as a whole. There is no doubt the world needs you and your leadership.

While at work today, how will you lead? While at home today, how will you lead? While driving today, how will you lead? While on your computer today, how will you lead? This is a call to all those who choose to be inspirational, who choose to be remarkable. And it is independent of economics, race, religion, or other beliefs. What will you do today?

Fruits From The Gift

fruit basket
image by ikelee

You are gifted – a being of unlimited potential. There’s no denying you have ability. You are creative. There is much you can do. The ability to translate innate gifts and ability to fruits delivered to others is the link to fulfillment and abundance. Perhaps much of you gift lies dormant, waiting to be unleashed to the world.

It is ironic… You already know deep down what you want. But what you really want stays dormant and that keeps you safe and comfortable. You don’t have to take responsibility if you keep it suppressed. Your life can move along smoothly without the need to appease those deepest desires. Comfort is supreme. Following instructions and the direction of others gives you predictability and stability in your mind.

Round up 100 people and place them in a large room. If you want to be like everyone else, just watch what most people do. They will kind of look around, waiting for someone to instruct them in their next step. The purpose and drive to achieve independent of the instruction of others is missing for most. Therein lies your secret weapon. Therein lies the fruit tree within you, just waiting to produce magnificence.

It’s time to produce. You’ve known all along you are great. But the desire for comfort and relaxation cuts and dings your fruit tree. For all the times you’ve thought about producing and creating something worthwhile, but instead let past habits dictate your life. For these times, step up and acknowledge your gift. Become a master in crafting your gift for others to get value out of. If you want the fame, fortune, and abundance, then your gift must serve the needs of many. Your fruit must be distributed AND accepted by many.

But the secret is producing. Without the production of anything from your unique gifts, a desolate and unrealized tomb of ideas awaits you at the end. With your last breath, you will lay in wonder as you are wracked with torment in unrealized aid, guidance, and support for the brothers, sisters, friends, and humans left behind as your absence fills a space in the world.

So produce something, anything! Do it soon. See if other people accept it and like the taste of it. If your fruit is not accepted, find out why. Was it too bitter? Too sweet? Was it not the right kind of fruit. And then go to work on the refining of your fruit until people begin accepting it. Where a few accept it, many are likely to follow.

The world awaits your fruit. Will you take the effort to begin producing some for the world to sample? Will you refine your fruit when it is inevitably rejected?

Gifts But No Fruit

fruit basket
image by ikelee

Every one of us believes we are smart. Everyone should bow before us because we are so deserving of praise, reward, and attention. At work, we should get huge raises and have fresh fruit and gourmet cooked meals catered to us. We should be promoted and have our own office and from there command many to do our bidding.

We’re unique, we deserve more and more. After all, you’re working hard aren’t you? You’re special aren’t you? You’re unique. Anyone who gives you less than royalty is giving you the short end of the stick. What is your company thinking, hiring from the outside? People should flock to you and give you thousands of dollars just because you are so unique.

Your business should just take off. You should just be able to put your picture on a website and suddenly have a fan-base of thousands. They wait with baited breath to submit their credit card information to you in monthly payments for something. You should be a rock star. Your very thoughts should command shock and awe. You should have dozens of products selling in the hundreds each day that give you a residual income of epic proportions.

You should have hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in each month. Checks overflow your mailbox because people just love you and the products and services your provide. You shouldn’t be able to keep up with it all. Praise comes your way over and over as the world looks to you for guidance. So many people want to meet you and are inspired by your greatness. You’re talked about in every social circle that exists.

You’re gifted. You’re smart, funny, and have a host of tremendous ideas. In your mind, you have the world’s problems solved. You know every equation that needs to be solved to make a fortune. Why shouldn’t you just instantly be a success? You have such a great history behind you. You’ve experienced so much. What you have to say is so crucial and important. Just by reading your words, people see your gifts and ask how they can spend thousands of dollars for minutes of your time.

The very act of a status update from you spurs news channels to race for first coverage. When you walk outside, the clouds part away to reveal the sun. Cars move out of the way as you drive. The very rain creates a bubble so as not to soak you in the least bit. You command the respect of legions who wait eagerly for the next update from you. Your wealth and power are unmatched.

You website visitors should be streaming in. Your traffic graph is shooting up like a rocket. Every page of your website is read from start to finish without a skim. Your online store should be overflowing with eager customers. You shouldn’t be able to keep up. Your server is maxed to capacity because of your popularity. You have to turn people down often due to a fully booked schedule. Radio and TV jockey for position in order to have you on. You are so unique and special!

unique quote

And so everyone else is equally as uniquely gifted. What makes you any different? Why should we pay you for your services? Why should we buy anything you recommend? What makes you different than everyone else? What fruit have YOU produced that anyone should eat? What makes your fruit any different than anyone else’s?

The Fulfillment Circle

Fulfillment

From our earliest days, we want to feel useful. We want to be part of something where people value us. Even as children, we want to be picked on the sports team, or be part of the band, or the chess club, or whatever it may be. I believe there is a notion in each of us to leave our legacy with the world – to feel we did something useful while we are here.

I didn’t always feel the need to leave my legacy in the world. In fact, I spent most of my life in high school to my late 20’s not really knowing what I was supposed to be doing. Life was something I did when I woke up and was a reaction to whatever the day threw at me. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I had the “Ah-Ha” moment that turned me around. This website is a portion of my fulfillment in life :)

Fulfillment

Fulfillment – this is the measure of how happy you are in life. It really is that simple. You either feel happy with what you are doing in life or you don’t. Happiness is personal to each person. But true happiness to me is knowing you are leaving the world a better place than what it was before you arrived.

Knowledge

To feel fulfilled, you must have something of value to give. Read it again a few times. Having something valuable to share. This is knowledge – what is stored inside of your head that allows you to create information and opportunity for others. Gaining knowledge is done through books, audio, video, conversation, events that happen in life, and any other way that you increase what you know.

Knowledge is simply your entire brain and your ability to ‘pull’ from it.. It is also What you think you know, what you know you don’t know, and what you don’t know you don’t know.

Contribution

Once you begin to acquire knowledge through study and learning, the next step is contribution. It doesn’t do any good to keep all the knowledge to yourself. Life is all about people – there are billion’s of them here on earth! Begin to share your unique knowledge and value with others in order to better their lives. Now this is a whole different subject as sharing your specific knowledge with those who are more likely to accept it is important.

How can you contribute? Talk to people, make your own blog – which so many awesome people have been doing. Just look at the I.P.W. What an awesome group of inspiring individuals. Use your knowledge at your place of employment. Use it to serve your family. Use it to write a book. The possibilities are endless.

Experience

I’ve been by the stove several times making eggs and touched the hot pan on accident. OUCH! That really hurts. And I’ve done it several times. This is what you call experience. Experience will confirm or denounce the knowledge in your mind. But there are better ways to get experience!

When you begin creating knowledge and offering it to others, an amazing thing begins to happen. You begin to gain experience and confirmation of the knowledge and contribution you make. You see how people react, you see if what you shared was useful. You see if you put enough time into your contribution.

Storing experience and using it to continue the circle of fulfillment is essential. Otherwise the circle is not improved. What happens to pipes in the home if they are allowed to rust? They eventually crack and break. The circle which is not improved will crack and break. The great thing about experience is it allows you to adjust and tweak your current approach. It allows you to improve. But you must pay attention to it. Be ever watchful of what happens when you contribute. You either will have helped others, or your contribution will have been lost and will need refining.

The Fulfillment Circle

The fulfillment circle is continuous. True happiness and fulfillment requires constant growth. Gaining knowledge will increase your mastery of material. This will in turn allow you to better contribute to society. This in turn will give you experience as you actually spend time in action and learning through experience. At this point, go right back to gaining knowledge. The fulfillment circle is the way masters live their lives.

Friends: What do you do to gain knowledge? What do you do to contribute to others? What are some experiences you have had as you’ve contributed?

Hey You – Why Are You Commenting On Other Websites?

Point
image by a2gemma

Commenting on someone’s website or blog is the same as introducing yourself and then talking in person. Without the handshake or the eye contact. But you can definitely tell how sincere someone is when you first meet them. Are they even noticing you? Are they really trying to get to know you? If you want to learn HOW to interact (and a lot of how NOT to), then let’s explore how commenting and interacting on websites and blogs is done.

Bot commenting

I’ve received spam/bot comments on my website before. It will usually say something like this, “I really like your website and at first your writing wasn’t good, but now it’s getting better and better.” or “Nice post, I will visit your blog more often.” Whoever programs these bot comments should be ashamed. Don’t insult people with real blogs with automated spam. Further proof of a spammer is a link back to some pay day loan/insurance/drug or other fishy website. How long would you listen to someone in person talk like that? A second if that?

The manufacturing plant approach

If you are online and trying to get traffic, then you know incoming links are highly valued. If this leads you to comment on other’s websites and blogs as if you are running a manufacturing plant, then you are probably just a hair better off than a bot commenter. The idea of a manufacturing plant is to produce as many widgets (or whatever it is creating) in as short a time as possible that function.

This approach to commenting on other’s websites is simply this: Find as many websites and blogs as possible that allow comments. Then spend NO MORE than 10 seconds reading articles/posts on that website. Capture 1 KEYWORD from the article. Share a short blub in a manner similar to this, “Nice, that helped, [insert keyword from article here] is very important.” Really, imagine someone going up to person after person saying, “Hi, you are nice, buy my book.” Sure they thought of something, but it’s very forgettable.

But hey, you’re in a time crunch, I get it. We’ve all been there haven’t we? We want some links back to our site, so we become scanomaniacs and submit comments with no thought that what we’re saying might have already been covered in the article we scanned, or that another commenter may have addressed what we are saying.

I’m working hard on NOT passing websites and blogs through my scanning assembly line and really trying to understand and add value to them.

The template approach

I’m surprised that more people don’t use this approach actually. It’s pretty simple – create a few paragraphs of commenting text that can apply to most articles – it’s really easy to do if you are a first or second time commenter since you can add to the template that you are new. Make sure to have a lot of generalized text and places to fill in specific keywords. Something like this:

Hey, it’s [insert your name] – I am new to your blog but like what I am seeing. You make some very good points about [key point 1] and [key point 2]. This gives me something to really think about.

Even though I am new on your site, I like where you are taking it and would love to hear more about [key point 1] and [key point 2]. You’ve really done a nice job with your design and layout. I look forward to reading more posts from you in the future.

Sound familiar? :) The template approach at least shows you are reading SOME of what the article says. If you want to create similar volume as the manufacturing approach, but at least add some value, then template commenting is the way to go! Just use your favorite text editor, do a find and replace with [key point1] and [key point 2] and put in the keywords you want to target. You can even get creative and create many templates to handle more situations, such as a supportive template, an argumentative template, or a template that links to Wikipedia for a keyword.

This method of communicating reminds me of the first “Back To The Future” movie with Michael J. Fox. In it, he sees his father when he is young in a diner walking up to his future mom. He pulls out an index card with some writing on it and says, “You are my density… I mean my destiny.” As he’s holding the card too, funny stuff – and it was starting to work until ol’ Biffy waltzed in. :)

The obligation/guilt approach

Someone complimented you somewhere or is linking to you or commented on your website. What do you do? Do you just leave their good deed unanswered? If you’re a large and successful website/blog, then the answer is probably yes. But most people get that ‘tug’ at their gut that says, “Hey, stop by this site. This person contributed to you, it’s only fair you do something in return.” And if you don’t, then you are defying reciprocity and guilt will take over. Do you ever comment out of guilt or obligation?

Because the site is popular!

This is the number one reason for commenting. Tell me I’m wrong, I dare you :) There is a direct correlation between the Alexa ranking of a website and the number of comments it receives. I’m not saying this is good or bad. I am saying that if someone thinks they will get a lot of click backs, their motivation to comment on your website will increase substantially. Your Alexa rank being top notch will really add to this. This is only different if someone really writes a killer, unique, and thought provoking post. Then traffic ranking does not matter because interest has been sparked.

In case you are wondering, Alexa rank is just one way to measure how popular a website is (i.e. how many people are visiting it).

This reminds me of the popular guy or girl in high school. You know the guy built like a truck, or the girl who looks like a Victoria’s Secret model who everyone wants to be like. Not only do people try and imitate them, but they’ll try their darndest to impress them and get on their good side. And who can blame them?

Because a chord was struck (or nerve)

This is the best reason to comment generally because it is genuine. Sometimes someone will write something (or do a video/podcast) that really gets your brain thinking or just flat out ticks you off. Either of these two reasons will probably lead to a comment that is lengthy – many paragraphs usually (that is if you know how to format your writing – otherwise it’s one long text blurb). Comments like this are the best. They spur discussion (even if it gets heated sometimes) and this leads to great value for the article. You, the reader, how often do you comment in this way?

If a chord was indeed struck this is where online communities begin. Someone who has found value from your blog/website and begins commenting regularly will likely share what you have with other people. And some of those other people may like what you are sharing and share it with others, creating a snowball effect. This should be a goal of anyone doing a website – so much value that people come back and tell their friends!

Having read these, what do you think the best approach is? Got any other ideas for how commenting on other websites and blogs is done? Have you commented in any of the above ways? What makes you interested in someone when you first meet them – and what makes you interested in a website when you first visit it?

I’ve Won Two Prizes In Two Months – Am I Just Lucky?

I started this website at the very end of January 2010 and have won TWO things from people since then. Previously in my life, I had never won anything in any kind of contest or drawing. So why has it happened twice now? Is this some silly coincidence – or is there something more to why it happened?

I remember when I was in elementary school – there was a contest to win a stuffed animal for my class. I really wanted it. I closed my eyes and wished for it to be mine. I would cuddle the thing and it would solve all my problems. As the winner was announced, and it wasn’t me, I sighed, wondering why I never won anything.

Or there is the company party where everyone is crammed into a room packed like sardines, eagerly awaiting to hear their ticket number to win that Plasma TV on display. Heck, I’ll take the toaster, just let me win something! Any of this sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever thought, “Why don’t I ever frickin’ win anything?” then you are not alone. As my name has never been called at any company party to win something, and the stuffed animal eluded my grasp as a kid, I quietly reflect on what it really takes – and means – to win a prize.

Following the crowd and going after luck

There’s plenty of ways to get lucky. There’s casinos (usually filled with smoke – even if you get lucky, you breathed in harmful chemicals :)), lottery tickets, BINGO, company parties, lottery tickets, picking random stocks to buy, asking woman after woman to go out with you, and finally, lottery tickets. All of these methods are simple. In some cases, you are purchasing something and hoping it brings you something back far greater. In other cases, you just show up and hope for the best. In either case, the effort on your part is just a smidge of time and VERY little thought.

So I have to ask you – yes you who are reading this and have tried these techniques – how’s that going for you? Maybe one of you has actually won something using the aforementioned methods. But I doubt it. I’ll be surprised if I get anyone who has had success wishing for luck this way – and the reasons are two: 1. It’s dumb easy to try it this way and 2. Everyone else and their dog, cat, goldfish, and lizards are doing it!

Break from the crowd and create your own luck

This is where I tell you that following the crowd will rarely bring you luck. And that doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing will give you a far greater chance of finding luck. And even more effective than doing the opposite of everyone – actively seeking out your own luck with those who can bring it to you.

Winning a month of free marketing consultation. Brandi Grays, a marketing consultant, had a contest on her website for one month of free marketing consultation for your small business. Simply email her and await a response. It was easy to enter and the list of people I was competing against for her time was FAR less than a lottery ticket. I found her through proactively looking for marketing information on the web.

Winning a free book, sent to my house. Sam from FinancialSamurai.com, is a recent acquaintance (at the time of this article), and he had a contest to win a book called, The Snark Handbook: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring. Entering required just a few minutes of my time and again, the competition was probably orders of magnitude less than a lottery ticket. I was notified I won the book and I look forward to reading it.

I believe the reason for this luck is very simple. And it is that I am actively contributing to the lives of other people. That’s it really. I am trying to add value to others. And not just a select few – everyone I come in contact with me becomes a candidate for service. If I can offer something – even a small thing – I will try to add it.

What will you do to create your own luck?

UPDATE!

I’m entering a contest to win a netbook on Couple Money’s website – only a few hundred people will be in I reckon. I will update here whether I win it or not! :) The link for the contest is here (it’s free to enter, you just need to subscribe to her feed and link to her on twitter, facebook, or your blog): Couple Money netbook giveaway.

Will you continue to try your luck with wishful thinking methods? Or will you actively network with people, help contribute, add value, hustle with all your strength to create your dreams, and create your own luck? I believe that your unique contributions to others greatly increase your luck in ways you cannot see. So what are you waiting for? You’ve got your own luck to create now!

C’mon, have you really won anything gambling (casinos or lettery tickets)? What have you gained in your life when you’ve added value and contribution to others? Compare these two approaches and ponder.

Some Bold Predictions From Jeremy

Crystal ball
image by seanmcgrath

All right, it’s time for me to put on my fortune teller / diviner / augur / medium / psychic / oracle / astrologer / loony hat.
I’m going to predict my future, right here, right now for everyone who reads my website (about 30-40 people a day presently). Think I’m crazy? Wait, don’t answer that :)

I am predicting my future because it will give people evidence that I am not just some guy who is rambling on. I am teaching dreaming and having ideas, making progress, and seeing those dreams and ideas through to completion! This is not some random hobby I am doing, this is REAL. It is my blood, sweat, and tears thrown into the pot and stirred with all the passion I can muster!

The fruition of these predictions will be the ‘magic’ that drives people here as they wonder, “Wow, I think there is something to what this guy is saying.”

I am doing it because I KNOW there are people who come here and say, hmmm, all right, and then click away to another site – those people are going to come back when they see the power from an intense burning desire, sheer relentlessness, and a dedicated strategy. I now share what the future holds at this current time, some small, some large, and I make no apologies or hesitations in the boldness – or vastness of my predictions.

Without further adieu, predictions time

  • This month, my wife and I will have our 2nd child, Sienna and I will share those pictures with you here on this website.
  • In three months, I will regain all the energy and physique that I have lost in the last few months due to my back disc herniation and subsequent back surgery.
  • Within six months, grow the I.P.W. (Inspirational People On The Web) to 20 websites and continue to contribute to them.
  • Within a year, JeremyNoelJohnson.com will break the 500,000 barrier in Alexa
  • Within a year and a half, I will have a final, finished, polished version of my book. A publisher will see the ‘magic’ of it and a deal, of life altering proportions, that sends me down a wild ride will follow. The joy of sharing this labor of love with the world will be a life altering event for my family.
  • Within two years, create an undisclosed website, filling an urgent need, which will become the #1 of its kind.
  • Within two and a half years, my personal website will get flooded with visitors, so much that I will need to switch to a dedicated server and go through the pain of transferring everything. The flood of visitors will be due to the story of how a husband, father, and website developer in an office cube wrote a best selling book and pioneered a personal transformation website through life evidence.
  • Within three years, I will be faced with the decision of leaving my full time job where I work with wonderful people, in order to go full steam on my life’s purpose. The fear of providing for my family will be fully confronted and will be a time of tremendous growth for me.
  • Within five years, I will logically meet Tony Horton, the creator of P90X, as he sees the man who had kidney stone surgery, back surgery, and still did P90X while authoring a best selling book, creating a personal transformation website, and finally traveled the country telling my tale.

What makes me so sure?

About a year and a half ago, I had this idea to meet “The Rock”, Dwayne Johnson. I would simply work on all the things I needed to do to meet him. That was such a short sided approach that I have learned from. I know now that I will meet whom I desire through the offerings I serve the world with. It will simply be a logical course of action.

I will be continuing to execute detailed strategies that will propel each of these predictions into reality. They are not simply wild guesses – there is a detailed plan to get each prediction to come into existence. I will not share those strategies at this time, but will at a later date.

My work ethic is tireless and relentless. I have reached a point in life where I go after what I want with relentless aggression. I will achieve all that I desire through sheer force of will, desire, and effort. My predictions are in line with my desires for myself and my family. And a big one – I willingly accept the consequences and responsibilities that shall ensue with said predictions coming true, including all the travel, own health insurance management, public speaking, picture taking, autograph signing, TV show appearing, book signing, website managing/updating, time managing, life giving, time consuming, new wealth managing, family moving, and fully thrilling consequences.

Awesome and inspiring readers: Have you had a moment in life where you became absolutely certain about something, to the point that even though it sounded outrageous and crazy, you knew it was going to happen? Or at the very least did you know you were going to give it your all and enjoy every moment along the way?

Who On Earth Are You Anyway?

Earth fairy
image by Lillou Merlin

Who are you? Why are you alive? Are you aware of everyone who is alive on the earth? The population approaches 7 billion (as of 2010). What do you do when you are roughly 0.000000014 % of an entire whole? I don’t know about you, but that’s a very microscopic percent. Are you wondering what one person can possibly do?

I know many of you reading this have something you want to do. You want to write that children’s book. You want to find some kind of meaning. You want to stop feeling trapped by debt. You wonder how you can make a difference. You wonder if your marriage is going to work. You wonder if you’ll ever find a better job. You wonder if you will ever be happy. You wonder if you can make any of your ideas work.

That’s a whole lot of wondering. It is my personal mission – no my undying quest to assist individuals in starting their ideas and goals, making progress on them, and seeing them through to completion. I know there are things you know you should do. But what happens? You make an excuse not to do it. Crazy excuses too. Anything to prevent you from making progress. I’ve done it too! Do any of these sound familiar?

  • I’ll eat better tomorrow, but this (insert junk food) tastes so good right now.
  • This (insert book, business, website, etc… idea) would be so cool! Fast forward years later, rinse and repeat.
  • I think I’ll play the stock market! Fast forward years later, rinse and repeat.
  • I’ll workout soon, I just need the right time to do it. Fast forward years later, rinse and repeat.
  • I can’t seem to lose the weight. I guess I’m just genetically challenged.
  • It’s (insert person, group, government here)’s fault! They’re the problem.
  • I’m too tired today. Maybe I’ll try tomorrow.
  • I just don’t have enough time in the day to exercise.

I believe part of the problem to be self worth and significance. If you don’t think highly of yourself, why would you not eat that candy bar or down those potato chips constantly? Why wouldn’t you just settle for working an unfulfilling job? Why wouldn’t you just settle for a marriage that continually goes down hill? Why wouldn’t you just settle for a life where your objective is finding as much comfort as you can?

Evaluate what your feelings about yourself are. If you can be audited for taxes, then why not do a self audit. Examine every area of your life. This doesn’t take long – I am sure that you already know the areas you can improve in. But the barriers and resistance may still be there. What you want may not be important enough to you. You will make it important by repetition and doing it – by making it a part of your life.

If you believe you do not have enough time for something, I urge you to reconsider. Everyone is busy – you are no exception. But there are those who make time for important things. Maybe it’s getting up at 6:00 AM. Maybe it’s staying up from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM. Sound crazy? There is time if you make time, period. It’s just a matter of you believing it is important enough.

Solutions to this problem

One article is not enough to discuss solutions to the problem of not acting on ideas and seeing them through to completion. Who you are and your place in the world is entirely up to you to decide. If you choose to watch TV 3 hours a day, that is your place. If you choose to work from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM on your passion, then your place shall be in accordance.

One thing you can start doing (if you already are not), is slicing into your ‘bored’ or ‘leisure’ time with 10 minutes where you sit and write what you want. If you are married, talk it over with your spouse. Or find some friends or family to talk to. Or go online and look for like minded people (I.P.W. is a good place to start). Have these discussions with people until you are clear about what you want. Once you are clear, you can begin discovering what it takes to make it happen.

A look at the world and individual significance

You’ve probably thought, “What can I do, I’m just one person?” I don’t need to elaborate on this, it’s been said over and over again by others. There’s billions of people in the world, what is your place in it? What is your destiny? Blah blah blah I say. What really matters is one thing – “Are you doing everything in your life right now to feel completely happy and fulfilled?”

That’s it! Do you get offended when people ask you if you are happy? If so, we’ve found a clue. This is the enormous challenge I am on a quest to solve – why do you – or anyone else, have ideas, hopes, dreams, and desires that seldom get acted upon? And if they do get acted upon, why are they not seen through to completion? Yes, life is about the journey and enjoying it – but you cannot enjoy it if you never complete the steps to get there.

I believe the soul is the compass for your life

You need only spend some time searching inward to find what your soul is telling you. What are you afraid of? Where do you find your strongest opinions? What do you find yourself seeking most often? What conversation topics interest you most? What television programming do you watch? What are you favorite movies? What has made you the most happy in your life?

If you haven’t read my article about taking life’s hits, go read it. From small inconveniences to big challenges, life will attempt to deter you from pursuing what your soul is telling you. It’s true. As I type every letter right here and now, life is telling me that it can’t be done. Jeremy, you are one man. You work full time and have a family. There’s just too many smart and successful people for you to compete against.

And before you rule yourself out – whether it be because you lack faith in yourself, or get discouraged, or whatever it may be. Realize that most of you can get up, walk around, think and dream, move your bodies, use a computer, and write. And that is well enough to get started listening to and FOLLOWING what your soul is telling you!

In closing, I would add that my advice is to search long and hard for your passion and go for it full steam – and do it until they day you die. I am Jeremy Johnson – a passionate father, husband, relentless seeker of getting people to take action and complete their ideas, author, and one who enjoys life every step of the way. I will relentlessly work and force my ideas into the ether. The rest is up to the universe. With that, who are you?

Here are two videos that I think will help give you perspective. They are of smart, active, and accomplished individuals.

Gary Vaynerchuk – do what you love – some strong language in the video below, but it’s well worth watching

Seth Godin – everyone is creative – but few people finish what they start or think about

What Was Great And The Lessons I Learned In My 20s

This post is inspired by a recent acquaintance from a financial blog I’ve been reading, Financial Samurai. Sam is the website owner and he is intelligent and knowledgeable about finance. I recently commented on his blog and told him I spent a large part of my 20’s (I am 32 right now writing this) wasting money and time. He said to look back on those years to see the good there was.

This has prompted me to take a look back on life. I ask those of you reading to do the same. You may be younger than me or even older. Do you look on your past years with regret and shaking your head? Maybe this article will help give you a different perspective on that.

What I Look Back With Disdain On In My 20’s

  • Low self esteem, even while married to a wonderful woman.
  • Lack of financial savings. I had no clue what to do with money.
  • No time spent learning and growing.
  • Not paying proper attention to my wife.
  • Going to a startup company that completely failed.
  • Abandoning a website that I should not have (in 2004 – the computer games one below).
  • And perhaps many more…

What can you think of right now that you don’t like when you look back on your life? Keep this in your mind, I want to hear about it below.

After Much Thought, What I Liked About My 20’s

  • I completed a two year service mission in Ireland.
  • I completed a four year Information Technology degree at a college.
  • I married my lovely wife, Heidi.
  • While in college, I was a teacher’s assistant and was able to help many students with their questions/problems.
  • Completely solo, I worked for an internet company doing development, database management, customer support – everything.
  • I programmed an e-commerce website that sold computer games, connected with a drop shipper and built a relationship, and hooked it up to a merchant account, and got it making sales in just a few months! (in 2004)
  • I upgraded my job every year after 25 with an increase in salary. I increased my technical skills greatly.
  • I went on a cruise with my wife to the Carribean.
  • In my very late 20’s, I started to shift my self esteem to have high worth for myself.
  • Many more good things, probably.

Our Focus Is Where We Go

There’s always going to be blunders in the past. Hey, we’re human right? We screw up – and often we don’t know the valuable lesson to be learned from that screw up that later provides opportunity. Because I worked for a startup that bombed, several of my own (and wife’s) websites were created, with minor success, and the completion of an over 300 page fiction/fantasy novel that I am in the final phases of editing. That’s no small feat, I’d never written more than 20 pages total until the startup debacle!

The point is, with some insight and thought, we can look back with fondness in the past and use that focus to grow. Thanks to Sam, the Financial Samurai for helping me take a page out of what this website offers, and that is the ability to inspire. I really love my years in the 20’s. I was such a young person, but grew tremendously. And I still have much to learn, however, I am on the right path. And this makes me happy!

What mistakes in your past have turned out to be blessings? Reflect for a moment and perhaps you will find the same fondness of your past that I did. Or you are already fond of your past and can just share the things you are proud of. Either way, thanks for listening and may your days be filled with success and growth.