30daychallenge

30 days to a new life

You may have noticed that I've been writing a lot more. Like, every day.

Well, I was challenged by a very good friend to write a blog post for 30 days straight. She challenged me to produce more work and get more ideas out there, because there's no good reason for me NOT to. She also believed that blogging more often would improve my writing, and teach me a few things in the process.

How could I say no?

So here I am, 16 days into this challenge and so far, she's right. I'm just over half way to 30 days, and I can feel the creative channels opening up.

30 days

Many times, we know what's best for us, but we don't challenge ourselves enough. I knew that writing every day would benefit me in so many ways, but I still didn't act.

A friend of mine just recently started a "no-grains" challenge. 30 days, no grains, no bread, period. He's aware of the benefits, but 2 days in and he's experiencing withdrawals. It's called a 'challenge' for a reason.

And that leads me to YOU. I'm sure you know of some behavior or activity that would improve your life over the course of 30 days. Is it around health, money, relationships, work, or planning and organization?

Take a look at the 8 Life Pillars:

8 Life Pillars

Which pillar would you like to strengthen? Use this framework to brainstorm some ideas and do a quick assessment of yourself. Then ask yourself....

What ONE activity or behavior that, if you were to do it for 30 days consistently, would have a powerful and immediate impact on your life?

Maybe it's eating less. Maybe it's exercising more frequently, or for longer periods of time. Like, instead of exercising for 30 minutes, you exercise for 60. Maybe you want to exercise for 10 minutes a day, every day, just to start.

Maybe you work too much, and need more recreation time each day. What ONE activity could you do every day to unwind or relax? What ONE activity will reenergize you?

Maybe you want to make to-do lists everyday? Maybe it's meditation? Maybe it's saying "thank you" in a unique way to someone new, each and every day.

I once was challenged by Joel Runyon to do cold showers for 30 days straight. Can you imagine how shocking that was to me the first time I did it? Doesn't matter, I did it, and was invigorated every day.

What can you do consistently for 30 days straight? What strengths do you already possess that you can bolster?

I challenge you

Let's face it. You're not challenged enough in life. You can BE and DO so much more. Potential is practically impossible to realize, so we all have room to grow.

So, I'm challenging you to do something for 30 days straight. You decide what it is. You decide when you start, BUT start this week. Find a behavior or build a habit that will have a ripple effect on all areas of your life.

Cold showers? Writing? Exercise? Meditation? Applying for new jobs? Validating a new business?

If you need more ideas, check this out.

Just pick something and stick with it. Daily practice and performing consistently are foundations for greatness.

If you need a way to track your progress, then use Jerry Seinfeld's secret to being a great comedian, and don't break the chain.

Let me know in the comments or use the contact form on this site if you want to be held accountable. There's nothing like making a public declaration to keep your feet to the fire (where does that saying come from anyway?).

Good luck.

Paul


Alien encounter

Last December, near Travis Air Force Base, my brother Antonio had an experience he would never forget. As he watched the unusual activity of strange white and orange lights in the sky, he realized that he was seeing something really out of the ordinary.

It's not odd to see strange activities in the sky near Travis, it's been going on since we were kids. But as he continued to watch, he became more and more afraid.

Those must be UFO's!

After watching the lights closely, Antonio began to think - what if they're warning us? Wait a minute. What if they strike? What if...

What would you have done? Would you stick around for scientific purposes, in awe of the strange scene in the air?

Or would you think science-fiction movies, and all the alien attacks, abductions, and weird encounters with humans?

Antonio thought science-fiction. As helicopters took to the air near Travis, he didn't want to stick around for an unnecessary provocation. It was time to go. He got in his truck and drove to the next town, what he felt was a safe distance away.

After playing some pool to pass the time and bring some normality to his world, the memory returned. As he drove back home, the lights were gone, and the thought occurred to him that he couldn't be the only one to see IT. Someone else must've seen this, too.

He scoured the internet for any reported sightings in the area, and found nothing. A week would pass before he told me about what happened. After recounting the events, I decided to check UFO websites for potential sightings, and found 3 of them.

One in Willows, one in Napa, and one in Fairfield. All sightings reported around the same time, in the same region.

It just so happened that somebody in Fairfield "caught" the action on his cell phone. I put "caught" in quotes because his camera work is not the best in the world, BUT this guy's emotional reaction to what he saw that night is stunning.

As Antonio watched this person's video on Youtube, he got the chills again, and told me that his reaction was very similar.

Here's the video:

Real understanding

My brother's reaction to run for cover seems justified, but at the time he explained it to me, the only thing I could think was, "why didn't you stick around?"

I damn near heckled him. Don't you realize what this means? How many people get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event? No matter what he said, I couldn't get it.

Self-preservation trumps history, was his reasoning.

Ridiculous, I thought.

Looking back, it's hard to dispute his decision now, because now I've had time to reflect on the whole scenario.

An alien encounter is entering a brand new realm for just about anybody. I'm sure after getting over the initial shock, I'd be thinking, why are these aliens here? There are only two possible reasons: good or bad, and if you happen to run across ET, are you really gonna think good?

Nope. You're gonna think something like:

They're far more advanced than we are.

They're here to kill us and invade our planet.

I don't wanna get beamed aboard their ship.

I don't want to be some alien's lab rat or sex slave.

We don't stand a chance...

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

Humans love to compare. I was telling him what I would've done if I was in his shoes. The reality is, I couldn't be in his shoes, I'm in mine. And if I were in the same exact situation, what would I actually do? Whatever I imagine I would do is just that - imagination.

I do this kind of imagining all the time, even if I'm only doing it in my head.

Oh, why did you say that? You shoulda did this, did that, and then finished with THIS...

If [insert person's name] does this, then I'll say this, and that, and this and that....

You had the opportunity of a lifetime, why didn't you do this, and that, and this....?

Life just doesn't happen this way. You can't plan for everything, especially when RANDOM walks into your life. When reality hits, when the lights go on and it's time to perform, it's a totally different situation. To know something intellectually is NOT real knowing.

Instead of thinking what I would've done, next time I'm just going to listen deeply and ask questions, and do my best to put myself in that situation.

It's just better to listen, support, and attempt to understand than it is to show-off what I know, or worse, demean or trivialize someone's choices and decisions. I may not criticize someone openly, but I still think it, and I have no basis.

What would you do if you thought aliens were close enough to have direct contact with you? Would you stick around or get the heck out of dodge?

I'd like to think I'd stick around to see what's up. In reality, I'd fear for my life and hit the boondocks.

Paul


ethan hawke quote

I can't vs. I won't

One day, I woke up so refreshed, it felt like every cell in my body was revitalized. I ran to the window, looked outside and the sun was setting. I had missed the entire day SLEEPING.

No biggie. I slept through the entire workday, and noticed my cell phone was bombarded with phone calls. They must've thought I died. Since when does Paul miss work? No call, no show is just aberrant behavior.

It didn't matter, because I felt like flying. I walked outside in my boxers, barefoot and all, and leapt into the air and flew. I didn't get very far, because I thought to myself, "I can't fly!"

I landed in a playground not too far away, and a child walked up to me, and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I tried to fly, and I couldn't stay up.

He giggled and asked, "Why do you pretend that you cannot fly?"

"Pretend??"

"Just jump in the air and go!", and there he went. He didn't look back, and here I was, trapped on the ground.

I jumped, and landed on my feet. I jumped again, and it seemed even more difficult.

Then a little girl walks up to me, "What's wrong?"

"I can't seem to fly", I looked up into the sky as I said it.

"Yes you can", she said in a matter of fact way, "Just jump into the sky, don't you remember?"

"I came close when I got out of bed, but now, I don't know...", my voice trailed off, hoping she could help me in some miraculous way.

"You'll figure it out. It's not hard."

"You make it sound so easy. I'm trying."

"Well, watch me", and she flew into the sky, and never looked back.

Why can't I do that? Why can't I....

And it hit me. It was so obvious. I was simply asking the WRONG questions.

It's not that I "can't" do it, because I just did it, even for a brief period of time.

It's just that I "won't" do it.

Why won't I fly?

Why won't I fly? Why won't I fly? I want to fly into the deep blue sky...

And I jumped and flew after the little girl. As I flew faster, I eventually passed her and began looking for the boy, but he was nowhere to be found. I just wanted to show him that I made it, but it didn't matter.

They both helped me to see what I could not. That I was always capable. I had simply forgotten.

It's not that I can't do something, it's just that I won't do it, and that choice made all the difference in the world.

Paul


once upon a time

How to rewrite the story of your life

My friend Lisa wrote a book titled, "Wired For Story". She wrote it to help aspiring writers, fiction or non-fiction, to write how people already think and interpret the world around them: through story.

wiredforstory

Lisa believes that all people, from all cultures and backgrounds, see the world as a narrative. It could be a boring narrative, an engrossing drama, or an adventure, but a story nonetheless. In her book, she says that writers can produce "better" stories by appealing to how people are naturally wired. Lisa's done her research, and there's a ton of science backing up her ideas.

It's an awesome book for writers, and I highly recommend it, but I believe a wider audience could also benefit from the book's thesis.

Think about it. If humans really view the world through a story lens, and if we're interpreting every interaction and experience as some form of narrative, then what does that mean?

A meaningless universe

I need to make a point before we continue.

The events in our lives are just events. The stuff that happens to us is just stuff, and none of it has meaning. None of it.

It takes a human, animal, or alien to create meaning from events that take place in the world. Conscious entities from all worlds make their world mean something, because inherently, the universe is meaningless.

Information enters the 5 senses, and almost immediately the mind is asking, what does this mean to me?

The creation of meaning is the formation of story. We spend our entire lives making up things about the world we live in, or we spend our lives consuming the creations of somebody else.

Are you even aware that this is what you're doing? Are you aware of this process as it's happening? Just becoming aware of your meaning making ability can influence how 'entertaining' your story ultimately becomes. Let me explain.

We are story

You ARE story. I am story, and life is the unfolding story of us all.

In life, there are many chapters with twists, turns, and challenges to overcome. Everybody gets their share of awesome climactic moments, and an abundance of fall-flat-on-your-face experiences.

The potential for an epic life, or a forgettable one, lies with every decision we make, but make no mistake - long after you're dead and buried, you will be remembered in story form by the people who are still around. If you're remembered at all.

This is profound. It's profound because we can observe what makes an awesome story from a writer's perspective, and anybody can apply the same principles in their lives.

The story's setting, plot, themes, conflict, and oh sh*t moments provide a character with opportunities to demonstrate their best self, or show their ugly side - just like LIFE.

The only difference is that a book, movie or theater piece has consolidated all the highlights (and lowlights), then presents it in a very entertaining way. You get to skip the day to day mundane aspects of a person's life.

Stephen Covey wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a personal development bestseller), begin with the end in mind. His point is that everyone needs a destination or vision first, then they can begin to work towards that vision. This is similar to advice I've seen authors give other writers: figure out a memorable ending FIRST, because that will help guide the writer's hand.

Profound entertainment

Entertainment is:

entertainment |ˌentərˈtānmənt|

noun

the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment: everyone just sits in front of the TV for entertainment.


You can provide entertainment or have it provided for you, simple enough, right? But I'd like to coin a new term and a different style of entertainment: profound entertainment.

Profound Entertainment is simply you're ability to become aware of your own life story as it unfolds, and then to shape and advance it in the direction you choose. Self-awareness is essential.

PE makes your life story more dimensional, and gives you a chance to live your life in HD.

PE takes you out of consumer mode, where entertainment is merely provided for you, and into producer mode, where you're creating value for yourself & others, and really living life.

In order to live Profound Entertainment, you must do what all stories require you to do: face and embrace conflict.

That's the cost of living AWESOMELY. The cost is facing your fear, overcoming inertia and stagnation, and overcoming doubt, despair and depression. It takes heroic effort, the determination of that guy from the English Patient, and the courage of Rocky.

It's easy to read about (or watch) fictional characters transform their lives by dealing with their inner and outer challenges.

It's quite another to overcome your own inner demons and external barriers to become your best self ever. Yes, it's difficult, but profoundly entertaining.

malcolm x quote

PE Ratio

Your PE ratio is your Profound Entertainment ratio. PE is how much you create/produce versus how much you consume on a daily basis? Essentially, are you a creator/producer or a consumer?

You may be an avid reader, but what have you written?

You may love to watch sports, but how much do you play?

You may love travel stories, but how much have you traveled?

You may love music, but how much do you play?

You may love to learn, but what have you taught others?

If you're on the consuming side of the ratio, perhaps your pie looks like this:

pe ratio12% creator, 88% consumer. How would this ratio affect your body, mind, and spirit over time?

How do you feel after a productive day? After you've built something that you WANTED to build? How do you feel when you're with people you want to be with? How do you feel after having new experiences, seeing an idea of yours take off, playing a game that you excel at, or performing in front of others?

The spectator always gets the short end of the stick. The consumer vicariously feels through the characters/players he watches, but the power of those emotions are muted compared to the real thing.

It's why spectators turn into haters so fast. It's hard to appreciate something if you don't understand it, and how can you understand something if you haven't personally experienced it or have completely forgotten what the experience was like?

Vicarious feelings or the real deal? Which do you prefer? And which of those would benefit you the most?

Rebalance your PE ratio

Life is ultimately about PE. Somehow, this disparity between consuming and producing must shift. Feeling alive comes from playing, not so much in spectating.

Don't get me wrong. Passively consuming entertainment plays an important role in the evolution of our culture. We get exposed to new ideas, new perspectives, new language, and new methods of being and doing. It serves a vital function in community development. Stories must be told, shared, and passed on so that we can be better human beings.

But the time has come for new stories, new lessons, from new players. There's an old saying: there's nothing new under the sun. Perhaps that's the cosmic perspective, but it's just not true for humanity. We get a chance to experience new things in our lives every day. We have the opportunity to grow and be something we've never been. A choice is available to us in every moment.

What will you do with your moment?

Will you create something fresh? Or repeat or consume the known again?

Personal Stories

You'll survive

I moved to Seattle with $160 in my pocket, a car full of clothes, a mind full of ignorance, and a heart full of courage. I had no plan, no clue, and nowhere to go. The question that arises when all-or-nothing risks like this are taken is, will I survive? I survived.

And this would have never happened if I didn't make the trek:

Article PC - August 17, 2003This happened because I took some risks, challenged assumptions, and stuck to my guns when I was really shaking inside. There are many stories that led up to this, but the lesson remains the same:

Follow your heart.


Zjump!

I was in France, and my friend Mark asked me if I wanted to go canyoning. Say what? What's canyoning??

I was sick as a dog, but I would be leaving back home in the next couple of days. I chose to go, even though I had no idea what I'd be doing.

Next thing you know, I'm in the canyons in the mountains of France, not too far from Switzerland, listening to our french guide give me options: "Zjump? Or rappel?"

I chose to zjump. See my feet??

zhump!

zjump!

I leapt into pools of water I couldn't see, rappelled down steep cliffs, slid down natural rock slides, and froze my behind off. I was sick before going, and was revitalized after.

Sometimes you have to leap before you look, open a book despite its ugly cover, and say yes to the french guy because he thinks it's ok to jump. You think a better story would've had me say 'no' to canyoning so I could fly home safe and sound? No way.


I'm not going back

3 weeks into my trip to Peru, and we're finally on the Incan Trail for a four day hike up to Machu Piccu. It felt like an exciting adventure, until I hurt my knee on day 1. I'm clearly hobbling now, and our guide Wilbur is obviously concerned. After some discussions with another guide, he came over to me and said:

"You're going to have to go back."

Wilbur was an experienced guide, and he knew this was a problem and could possibly turn into something serious.

"I'm not going back."

He saw the determination on my face. I've been wanting to do this for over 5 years now, and here I was, injured heading into day 2 which would test my will, endurance, and patience. The highest peak on day 2 would be around 14,000 feet.

After some more discussion, everyone knew what my final decision was. A fellow traveler offered her walking stick after I made my decision, my friend Edgar said he would stick with me, and I hiked up that beast one step at a time. Here I am with two bamboo poles on day 2:

day 2 of incan trail

I had a choice. Turn back around, and say I gave it my best effort, OR walk through the pain, and have a better story to tell. I chose the better ending. I took this picture when I finally reached the lost city:

Machu Picchu


Startup Weekend

The first time I went to Startup Weekend in Seattle, our team came in 5th place. If you're unfamiliar with the event, the goal is to recruit a team of people whom you never met before, work on a business idea, develop it as much as humanly possible in 54 hours, demo the product to some judges, and walk away with a potential business, maybe even some funding for it.

It's an intimidating experience. I was surrounded by awesome talent: a ruby developer, Microsoft product guy, Amazon PR dude, and the founder of one of the most popular blogs in the country with an average of 10,000 readers a day. I'm glad I chose to play with them. I'm better for it. This was 2011.

I pitched an idea of my own in November of 2013 at Startup Weekend Davis. It was difficult watching my team crumble and walk away in the middle of the project because the vision was unclear and they just weren't feeling it anymore. We went from 9 people to 4, and none of us were developers.

On the day of judging, the facilitator asked me when we wanted to present, and I said, "We're not presenting."

She said, "Oh yes you are. Let me ask you this. How often are you going to get the opportunity to present to high caliber entrepreneurs and investors? This doesn't happen everyday, and at the worst, you will have gotten some good feedback and learned from it. So, what order do you want to do your presentation in?"

"I want to go last, if we can", I said in resignation. How else could I respond?

I prepared the slides, pitched the idea and our team came in 3rd place. It was the only time when coming in 3rd place felt like coming in 1st. I thought we had no business being up there, and almost walked away from the project myself.

But the lesson is clear: embrace conflict and learn, OR shun it and stunt your own growth.

All that experience would pay off in June of this year. We entered Startup Weekend East Bay, recruited a massive team, the largest I've ever seen at one of these events, and impressed Google staff who acted as the event's mentors.

We would come in 1st place for our category:

startup weekend east bay number app

The story doesn't end there. The next challenge is to actually build something, not just a demo or prototype, and build a REAL business from it.

Yup, PE is tough, challenging, and difficult. Ready or not, the show (story) must go on.

Takeaways

How can I say this without being redundant? Never mind. Redundancy is necessary.

  • Wake up the creator in you. The culture we have collectively built, and what's been passed down to this generation is not the best we can do. Let's improve. We can craft a more memorable story.
  • We've slumbered along consuming what other creators have made for us, and it's not healthy anymore. It's not healthy for your mind, body, or spirit. We can do better.
  • It's perfectly healthy to consume story, games, food, and other people's creations, just check your PE ratio from time to time. Watch for a disproportionate bias towards consumption.
  • In order for story to advance, conflict must be confronted and dealt with. Conflict is fear, doubt, hurt, pain, trauma, oppression, limitation, etc. Confront your fears, demonstrate courage, have faith, and transcend your pain and limitation. Nothing is stopping you, but you (unless you're physically restrained or caged).
  • An epic life = someone overcame epic problems. Are you facing the RIGHT problems in your life that will forge the best version of you possible? If not, then it's time to initiate a more appropriate form of conflict so you can FEEL ALIVE again.
  • If you want your life story to look and feel different, get out of the role of protagonist and back into the role of author again:
    • what's the setting of your story? (where do you want this phase of your life to take place?)
    • what's the plot? (what events would you like to take place in your life?)
    • who's the supporting cast? (what relationships are important to develop? who do you want in your life? mentors, romantic, friends, partners, etc.)
    • What themes or lessons are recurring for your protagonist? (what themes keep recurring in your life? what themes keep returning around relationships? themes around work? what feelings or emotional states seem to have a cyclical nature? what continues to happen in your life that you wish would change? what's the meaning behind them and how will you go beyond them?)
    • What types of 'conflict' will your character encounter? (what big goals do you want to accomplish? what activities make you feel alive? what challenges must you overcome to be your best self ever?)
    • What's the end of the story look like? How does each chapter end? (What's the ultimate accomplishment you want for your life? How does each year end, for the next 10 years? In each year, what have you accomplished for each and every month? What must you accomplish at the end of each day to move towards those outcomes?)
  • Finally, in key decision moments of your life, ask yourself, which choice leads to a better life? What decision will give me a better story to tell? Many times, it will be the more challenging choice. Take the road least traveled, and there will be reward in that alone.

Here's to your next chapter.

Paul

the-next-chapter


go hard - mike tyson

Go hard

Al came in, sat down, and told me that from now on, life would be different. Life had dealt him a bad hand, and he struggled with it. He was still young and inexperienced in many ways, but not in hardships.

After a great conversation, I offered my services and he said he would be interested some other time, but not right now. For now, he loved his role as a parent and enjoyed the time he was spending with his children. He missed out on their formative years, and felt a sting of regret recounting his early years as a parent, but the past is the past. He was ready to move on.

I explained that he could come back when he was ready, and I would help him prepare and look for work. He agreed.

Al came back from time to time to update me on how things were going. I could tell he was getting a little antsy, but he still wasn't ready to commit to work.

"I'm close", he confided in me. I knew it was a matter of time.

"50."

One day, Al came in with a serious look on his face.

"I'm ready."

"Ok", I said, "let's build out your resume and make it as tight as we can make it. We'll go from there."

He agreed. It didn't take too long to put together something good enough for the job market. Al always found a way to stay busy, finding odd jobs in his neighborhood, and picking up some temp work here and there. I know hustle when I see it and it translated well onto paper.

Once we finished the resume, I asked him how many he wanted me to print out.

"50."

Al caught me off guard, "50?? Uh, how about we start with 10 and go from there?"

"Naw, 50."

"Ok, how about 30?"

"Nope. 50."

"You're really going to do something with 50 resumes?"

"Yup. I go hard."

Hard to argue with that. "Ok, 50 it is."

I hit the print button, retrieved 50 copies of his resume and handed them over.

"Thanks man, I appreciate this", as he stuffed them into his folder.

"No problem. Let me know how it goes, and if you run out, come back and I'll print out some more."

One week later

Al comes to see me, sits down, and asks, "Can I get some more resumes?"

"How many do you want this time?", I asked knowing what he might say.

"50."

"Ok, so you're saying you put all your resumes into the hands of potential employers??", I asked incredulously.

"Yup. I go hard."

Hard to argue with that. "Ok."

I hit 'print', and 50 more resumes came out.

A week and a half later, Al was employed, earning good money with a reputable company with room for growth. He was happy with his situation, and I was grateful for the lesson.

Takeaways

Al taught me:

  • That somebody, somewhere is going harder than me. You can worship or idolize successful people, but how do you think they got to where they are? What will I do to match that energy and effort?
  • That sometimes deficiencies (like lack of work history) crumble to the ground under the sheer force of numbers. What if I did just one more? What if I multiplied my efforts and simply increased my output? Could I do ONE MORE push-up or blog post, help ONE MORE person, do ONE MORE presentation, and read ONE MORE page of that awesome book?
  • That persistence pays. How many "no's" did Al hear? At least 50, huh? And every "no" you hear brings you one step closer to a "yes". I have to remember that.
  • That I'm not challenging myself enough. Next time I'm thinking "10", perhaps I'll double or triple that number. Break through self-imposed limits.
  • To stay open to learning, and lessons will come from all angles. Even if someone is in a more vulnerable position than me, they can still teach me a lot. It happens all the time.

If you go hard it may or may not work out for you, but the odds will be in your favor.

So, go hard, and be like Mike was early in his career.

Paul


“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ― Albert Einstein

Play a new game

I often think of death.

As my dad once said to me, "We all gonna die", but it's hard to really understand that concept and get it in my gut.

I know I'm not making it out of this thing alive and you know that, but do we really, really KNOW?

My time may come in the next 5 minutes, the next 5 months, or the next 5 years. Who's to say? Nothing is certain in life, everything is impermanent, and life isn't fair.

Given that death is certain for us all, the question then becomes...

how do I want to live my life? Not in the future, but right now?

This question puts my entire life in perspective. More on this later.

Games

I'm becoming more and more aware that everything's made up, and I say "more aware" because it's easy to forget. It's easy to forget that society, and all the games we play within it, are made up.

The games of education and school.

The games of service and work.

The games of acquiring money and stuff.

The games of relationships, status and cultural relevance.

The games of politics, religion, racism, sexism or any ism you can conjure.

The games of anything you can imagine.

When I say games, it doesn't mean that life is not 'real' or 'serious' to you. I'm not minimizing what anyone does on a daily basis, but I am saying that if you look at it deeply, see things with a fresh mind, then you may realize the absurdity of what we put ourselves through, each and every day of our lives.

I say it's absurd given the outcomes and long term effects of these games: people mask their feelings through drugs, escape through entertainment, or commit violent or criminal acts because these games are confusing and frustrating to play. Sometimes, people just want to have the feeling of 'winning', even if they have to cheat to get it.

Should the games people play, fun or serious, bring out the best in you or a lesser version of who you are? For me, I want to play a game that's worth playing, a game that helps me grow and allows me to be my best self, whether I win the championship or not.

Real life games

It's important to note that serious games also contain the same elements and principles of fun games.

For example, every game has an overarching goal. There are rules that govern the players. Sometimes those players wear a uniform and use equipment to play the game well. Judges or referees are there to enforce the rules. The coaches or managers are there to help guide you or give you a strategy.

There's a way to keep score and some kind of prize or award that people are playing for. And there's the perception of winners and losers - you may not use those terms given the context of your situation, but terms like 'success' and 'failure' still hold the same meaning.

To give a real life example of serious games in life, take a look at the following infographics (click twice to see them in their full glory):

Does-Congress-Look-Like-America-TakePart-Infographic-April-2012

In the first infographic, you can clearly see who's making policy (the rules of the game). Think about it. If you could make the rules of the game anyway you wanted, would you purposely give your team an unfair advantage? Of course you wouldn't.

Check the second one out: transparency

Remember who's making those policies from the first infographic? Now you see who is impacted. What do you think?

Racism

The 'racism' game is a good example of serious games.

There are players, and they have a uniform (skin color) so you know who's on what team, and the challenges or 'hurdles' a team must overcome is determined by their uniform.

There are referees and judges to enforce unfair practices, but those unfair practices ARE the rules of the game.

And there's a way to keep score.

Race-ism is the 'perfect' term to use because that's precisely what it is - a race. Whoever came up with that term 'race' understood the impact it would have on society, and the various 'teams' it would impact.

Imagine one team runs the race without any obstacles, hindrances, or the least amount of challenge. The competing teams have parachutes strapped to their backs to slow them down, oil slicks that cause them to slip when they run, or 3-5 foot hurdles to jump over. Who has a better chance of winning?

With that understanding, look at those infographics again. How is it possible that skin color determines performance, outcomes, and your ultimate place in society? It boggles the mind and is just not possible - UNLESS - the 'race' is fixed.

Choice

This is just one example of a made-up game we're choosing to play. Yes, it is a choice, but we can decide to keep playing this game, play a different game, or create a new game.

Some may balk and say, "We don't have a choice, this is the way it is", and I say bullish*t. Either you're creating or co-creating your reality, or you're NOT.

To say, "this is the way it is", is creating the reality of what you already observe.

To say, "this is how it is now, and we can change this", is creating the reality of your imagination. Being victimized is one thing, remaining a victim is another.

You have a choice to repeat what you experience or create something new - observation or imagination. Stay in observation mode and you will mirror what you see, day in and day out. Options will be limited only to what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. If you live in a certain area all your life then your culture, the rules you live by, and the world you experience will be similar to what others experience from that area.

If you choose imagination, then the paths and possibilities are endless. The game of life opens up and you're no longer limited to other people's creations. You have to still act on your imagination to make it happen. Living in your head doesn't count for much in this life.

My opportunity

I'm creating a new game for myself. Here's what I know so far:

  • I want to work and have relationships with people that energize, support, and 'get' me
  • I want to do work that's meaningful, makes me look forward to it, and challenges me to bring my 'A' game everyday
  • I want to live in full self-expression, totally being myself, and put myself in situations that bring out my best qualities

I'm sure I'll add more bullets later, but three is enough for now. These three bullets alone cause me to reflect on my current state, and make me question the work I spend most of my time doing, the quality of impact I'm having, as well as my current lifestyle.

I will look at myself deeply over the next few days and will be making some tough decisions soon.

Either I can continue to recreate what I have already experienced, with the same players, in similar settings, and familiar story lines...

OR

I can begin to create an entirely new life for myself, one that really inspires me to grab the chance to create a new culture of work, and realize the opportunity to live life on my terms, not somebody else's creation.

Is the game you're playing bringing out your absolute best? Are you playing a game you don't care for? If not, will you create a new game for yourself, or continue as you are?

I'll ponder these questions. More later.

Paul


do you tale-spin?

Do you tale-spin?

I'm currently attending a conference called the California Nonprofit Technology Festival in Richmond, California. Like many conferences, there are break-out sessions, ice breakers, food, and most importantly, networking.

Whether you realize it or not, networking and the relationships you develop are SUPER CRITICAL to the success of your ideas, projects, and the general trajectory of your career. Who you know matters, and the higher the caliber of people and professionals you establish relationships with, the more likely your goals will be reached. Pretty simple, huh?

Well, I want to share a networking strategy I've used over and over again that's incredibly powerful. It's called Tale-spinning.

Tale-spinning

Tale = story, not the tail of an airplane.

1. Everybody IS a story

First, start with the idea that everybody is a story in progress. Go a little deeper and see that each and every project that they are working on is a mini-story within the main story of their lives. It's important that you understand the narrative of the person you're dealing with at the conference is much deeper, much more dimensional than the 5 minutes of interaction you have with them.

2. Discover challenges

Second, once you understand that there's a story operating in the background, take some time to discover the obstacles & challenges they're currently facing by listening and asking questions. Remember, they're there for a reason, even if they can't full articulate what that reason is. Help them get clear.

3. Collaborate and connect

Third, once you discover their real barriers, your job is to either:

  1. Collaborate with them on their problem by offering some specialized knowledge or a specific skill (if feasible), or....
  2. Connect them to somebody you know that can help them solve their problem. The people you connect them with can either be at the conference or within your personal network.

Simple, right? By doing all three steps you have the opportunity to alter the course of somebody's life story, or tale-spin them in a new direction.

Make impact

With Tale-spinning, you may only reach a few people, and that's fine. This strategy stresses quality over quantity, because in the end, the name of the game is impact. It's about how their stories progress and how people transform in the process.

Do you want to be followed or liked by the whole conference or do you want to impact someone's life? Impact and quality are memorable, 'follows' and 'likes' are shallow.

"We're here to put a dent in the universe."

- Steve Jobs

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Gary Vaynerchuk's latest book release is called: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - in the book, he gives case studies on successful social media campaigns. The primary strategy he employs to achieve his success (using his boxing metaphor)  is to give, give, give, then ask.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

You don't begin a social media campaign by telling people to 'like' your freakin Facebook page, but people still ask.  Why should I like your page?? Give me a reason, or better yet, make a dent in my life first.

And that's the point. Don't attend another networking event starting from the place of your needs and wants. Go to give, and give often. Gary says give 3:1, but even I know he gives way more than that for every ask he receives.

7:1 is a more powerful ratio that changes lives, and make you far more memorable than passing out business cards that no one will ever look at again.

I think 7:1 is reasonable, doable, and most of all, has long-term impact.

Does that mean you give seven to just one person? Is that seven spread out to three different people? You decide, but if you give it all to one person, you go much deeper.

Here's an example. I was at a networking event in Seattle, and one guy I met was doing some cool work abroad. I genuinely listened, asked questions that were relevant and took the conversation deeper to help me better understand the challenges he was facing. Someone walked up and before they could introduce themselves, I said, "Have you met Daniel? He does 'this and that' and what's cool about this is 'this and that' is...."

I realized I couldn't help him, so I began talking to everyone there about him. I soon walked away and met another person in a similar space, so I began recounting the first guy's story to him. Then I saw Daniel in mid-conversation and said, "Hey Daniel, I'm telling this guy about your business. You two should talk."

Then I walked away. I found a woman who I thought could also contribute to his unique problem, and yelled over two people, "Hey Daniel, I think she can help you, too."

By now, Daniel kinda felt obligated to me. He came up to me, and said sincerely, "I know you told me about your book, but I want to know more. I can help you promote it."

Be careful

Please listen. I don't do this to manipulate other people. I genuinely want to help them. Tale-spinning and the tactics that support it could easily be used to exploit a situation.

You know your intentions. Don't be evil.

Also, if you give, give, give and somebody takes, takes, and takes, then stop feeding them. Don't give to people who will take everything you have and not even think of giving back. What's the saying? Give someone an inch, and they'll take a mile? Yeah, no mile types, they're sharks and not good for the tale-spin ecosystem.

How can you tell a shark from a genuine contributor? Through practice and experience. I'm sure you've had some experience with selfish people. Learn from them, apply that wisdom, but don't let that stop you from being vulnerable. Take risks, put yourself out there, and learn from your mistakes.

One more thing. If you decide to give seven to just one person, make sure you feel out the situation and don't come across as overdoing it. There's nothing more suspicious than somebody giving everything they've got to assist you, and they're not asking for anything in return. So pay attention to context and feelings. Yes, there is such a thing as over-giving, especially with strangers, and I've definitely been guilty of that before. It makes you feel creepy.

Finally

Provide solutions. Give. Create value. Care. Help someone get past their obstacles and advance their stories, even if it's just a little bit.

In networking situations, take the attention off of you for once. Be a Tale-spinner and make impact.

And don't just save this strategy for conferences. Do this at work, at home, and try it in social settings. Everybody has goals, and goals have obstacles - these challenges must be overcome for them to advance their own life story.

Transformation is just around the corner for them - and for you.

Paul

7:1

 


everything's made up

Everything's made up

"Everything's made up."

I'm in the middle of my workshop, and people are riveted.

Did he just say what I think he said?

I continue...

Anything woman or man-made is completely made up, created, designed, engineered or whatever verb you want to use.

Computers, tablets, and smart phones? Made up.

Institutions like schools, government, and religion? Made up, too.

Businesses, football, stoves, planes, cars, and the streets they drive on? All made up.

All the rules, laws, statutes, and codes that exist within certain systems, institutions, or inside ourselves? All created by fellow humans.

You see things, and you say, ‘Why?’, but I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?'

- George Bernard Shaw

This observation is clear when you think about it, even if some take offense to the statement at first, or accept it for certain things but not ALL things.

"My religion ain't made up! My god ain't made up!"

Perhaps god isn't made up, but out of the thousands of gods, which one is the right one to follow/worship/pray to?

Your feelings and the sensations you experience in your body are real. No denying that, but if you can get two people within the SAME religion to agree on who or what god is, then let's talk.

For the most part, religion and spirituality is a deeply PERSONAL affair and EVERYBODY thinks their way is right. The key word is "thinks."

Thoughts into things

We know how stuff got here. People had an idea, designed or engineered it, put some action behind it, and *poof*, we got something.

Anything that's something came from nothing, since an idea or thought is not something you can examine with your 5 senses.

Invisible stuff creates the visible world, and this is the way things get made, but WHY does it work this way?

Who cares. Call it natural law, or how stuff works, but the process is pretty awesome...more awesome if you're aware that life works this way.

If humans are NOT aware of their responsibility in reality making, then the world can get kinda crazy.

If people really knew that everything was made up, and that we're all co-creators and conspirators in our reality making, then the world we experience would change overnight.

There'd be less fighting and conflict and more moments of peace.

There'd be less blame and victimhood and more responsibility.

There'd be less hopelessness and despair and more purpose and meaning.

There'd be less hurt and abuse and faster healing and understanding.

There'd be less poverty and more wealth.

Because who would purposely, deliberately create more crap in their lives??

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...

Proverbs 23:7

War

A thought is just a thought, but when somebody actually identifies with a particular thought, interesting things start to happen.

If you identify with going to a certain high school, then anybody who goes to a rival high school is in conflict with you.

Sure, identification and attachment brings people together, and that's all good when it's fun and games.

But when you identify with a certain group, political party, country, region, sports team, neighborhood, social status, stigma, description, ethnicity, and on and on -- there is conflict with anybody who is not that.

This is how wars start.

It begins with somebody who thinks they're fundamentally "right". So-called leaders think their way is right, and seek to impose their 'righteousness' on the world around them and this leads to destructive conflict and wars that last for decades or even centuries.

Hitler was right, and needed the world to shift to his worldview.

And here you come, stating emphatically, "Hitler was wrong!"

Two worlds, different perspectives, different ideas must be in conflict.

Where is the wisdom in all of this?

7 billion

There are almost 7 billion people on the planet. That means there are 7 billion different stories, 7 billion distinct memories, 7 billion perspectives, 7 billion life philosophies, etc. You think all these people are seeing/experiencing the same things? You think others see what you see?

Nope.

Conflict arises between two people because they're living in two separate worlds and are completely UNAWARE of it. Two people, two sets of rules (yes, some rules are shared), but eventually someone will break the rules of the other and conflict will ensue.

If people were simply AWARE that:

  • You are making up your world as you go (as am I)
  • Belief and truth are NOT the same, and there's far more belief than truth in the world
  • You are NOT living in the same inner world as everyone else, though we share the same outer world
  • The inner world actually creates the outer world, conversely, the outer world has its roots in the inner world
  • The act of listening (real listening, not just using your sense of hearing) and observing leads to a better understanding of somebody's inner world, and simultaneously reduces conflict
  • It's better to understand first, then to be understood

...then we could solve many of the ridiculous wars, decades of conflict, and the silly arguments that occur between two people that may inflict needless harm and cause unnecessary trauma.

Takeaways

  • You are the creator of your reality, and so is everyone else. Yup, it's all made up, so why not make up the world you really want to live in?
  • And I get that you think that you're the center of the universe. But so is he, and so is she, and so is that turtle over there. Try to remember that everyone thinks they're the center of the universe when you're dealing with others. It helps.
  • Understand that we will never share the same inner world, but we do have to share this outer world. Let's do our best to understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of our fellow humans before going to 'war'.

Let's face it, everybody's right. And everybody's simultaneously wrong.

It's just a matter of perspective. Armed with that understanding, perhaps we can prevent the next war (or unnecessary argument) from happening.

Paul

 war quote russell


the great experiment

The Great Experiment

One day a thought occurred to me: life is everybody's best guess.

The roads, streets, and the cars that drive on them. Pretty good guesses.

The Earth is flat? Center of the universe? Oops, bad guesses happen, too.

People experiment, learn from those guesses, and things get better.

Houses have gone from log cabins with fireplaces to solar powered million dollar complexes because guesses evolve.

My old Commodore 64 was a fun guess at the time, but this Macbook Pro is light years ahead of that dinosaur. This Mac will be extinct soon.

Who knows what's coming next? AI is here. Driverless cars. 3d printing. Time travel? All built on yesterday's best guess.

I'm working on a few projects right now. A book. A magazine. A side business. Some guesses are more educated than others, but I'm still guessing. It ALL starts with a guess, so spare me the 20 page business plan (btw, plan is a fancy word for a guess - and NO, I'm not against planning, just over-planning).

Poor Kodak. They guessed wrong, despite having a plan. But I can't talk - Kodak's failure is public, while my mistakes are seen only by those close to me. Fact: I don't make nearly enough mistakes.

Probabilities

Guesses improve over time as long as we learn from our mistakes. Guess results on a scale look like:

impossible ---> possible ---> probable ---> likely ---> certainty ---> bam!

But how do we get to a place of learning if we're afraid to act, afraid to make mistakes, or afraid to look dumb/stupid/silly.

Ultimately, it's about having the courage to experiment with life.

Everybody's guessing anyway. Teachers are trying to figure out a better way to teach. Politicians are guessing which strategies will win them an election. Entrepreneurs are constantly experimenting with new tactics to get more customers or clients. Parents want their children to be the best they can possibly be.

And guesses can quickly go from bad to worse.

Bad teachers may get fired, or worse, fail to reach students and still keep their jobs.

Politicians lose elections, or worse, get elected and their guess brings innocent people to war.

Entrepreneurs lose money because of bad guesses all the time, which may affect hard working employees.

Parents screw up their own kids' lives all the time. From generational poverty, violence, or addiction to less harmful practices such as the guilt of not living your life according to their vision or constantly comparing you to others who are doing 'better'.

Think about this: if everybody KNEW or was CERTAIN about life, then there'd be no point. Living would be a stale, fixed, and incredibly boring exercise. Guessing, whether educated or ignorant, is a mandatory skill in life. We must get better at it.

Greatness from experiments

You don't have to be special to guess, learn from your mistakes, and make better guesses.

You just need some guts and an attitude of, "let's see what works."

If you see greatness in the world (a person, work of art, a business, etc.), realize someone was brave enough to guess, learn from those guesses, and improve over time. The work of art is just their latest guess.

Greatness is the result of many, many, many experiments over time.

So what are you waiting for? Start guessing already.

Paul