8 Life Pillars: A Powerful Framework

[dropcap type="2"]E[/dropcap]ven at a young age, I gravitated towards the unusual. My imagination was fed constantly with books, games, and movies. I found myself wanting to learn about the impossible, infinite, and unusual.

I wanted to learn how to move things with my mind, wondered how I could fly, and visualized myself doing incredible things with my body. Typical kid's stuff, right?

Those thoughts really inspired me to develop myself, and to acquire knowledge and develop skills in many areas of my life.

I mean, how else am I going to learn how to fly or make tons of money??

I wanted to be smart and athletic, be well traveled and rich, live extravagantly and show people how to do the same in their lives. A renaissance dude.

But most of all, I didn't want to leave people out. If I was going to do this for myself, I'd do my best to help others along the way.

From an early age, I cheered for the underdog in life, because I think I saw myself that way. I remember when Rocky II first came on HBO, and I swear I must've watched it thirty times.

Some of us have help, some of us don't. And for all the people who would enter my life with little to no support, I would always do my best to leave them something, anything, that was life changing.

The Elevator Pitch

In marketing, they have what's called an 'elevator pitch'. This is the pitch you give someone during a short ride in an elevator.

Your goal is to effectively market your product or service in a short period of time, say 45 seconds or less.

Can you condense the benefits of what you do if you only have 45 seconds or less to speak, and still leave a powerful impact?

I found that's what I HAD to do if I was going to be successful in social work, in teaching others, and in affecting people's lives on a regular, everyday basis.

If I was working with a teenager who had problems reading and writing, couldn't really think in the abstract because their brains haven't fully developed yet, AND were using drugs and alcohol on top of all that, then I had to develop my impact skills. Call it teaching skills, influencing skills, whatever.

And I got good at it. I found that leaving a powerful impression could be done in a short period of time, and that's a valuable SKILL to have.

Because I would only have one, maybe two hours with that person, for that WEEK, and their 'normal' environment gets them for the rest of the week, I had to constantly upgrade my skills.

How many hours of conditioning would I be working against during a typical week anyway? Challenging.

Picture is worth a thousand...

Words, right? Well, yeah. Pictures became a strategy I used. Specifically diagrams. They were easier to remember than a bunch of words you only hear once a week. Much easier.

And I discovered something very interesting from passing out the diagrams to other people: they made them their own.

Regardless of how I explained how a particular diagram worked, I loved hearing their explanation and ideas even more.

I actually found myself learning and growing from this shared interaction. Immensely. I started to change my presentations to include new ideas I picked up from the people I helped, and over time I became even more effective because of their insights.

"To teach is to learn twice." ~ Clement Watt

As a side note:

I am totally convinced that the school system would change overnight if they had their students TEACH what they learn, rather than taking tests requiring nothing more than memory and basic skills.

But to teach something... wow, what a difference. If you want to deepen learning in the young or old, then have them teach it.

If you are teaching a class or conducting a seminar, tell them, "I hope you're paying attention 'cause you're gonna have to teach this to the class (or group) when I'm done..."

I digress. Back to pictures. I mean diagrams. These diagrams became so useful, that I was surprised everyone wasn't using them when dealing with ANYBODY.

Doesn't matter if you're in social work, business, education, government, or whatever. Diagrams and pictures deliver.

The lessons diagrams can convey can be very deep and complex, explaining abstract thoughts elegantly. Or, the very same diagram can be sooo simple and provide a sense of order and clarity to a confused mind.

My challenge was big picture stuff. How can I convey the whole of life in one single picture, or diagram, so that someone can see where they are, and then determine where they want to go.

Well, I haven't done that... yet. But I have come close. This has been in development for the past 9 years and has gotten results.

The 8 Life Pillars

I realized that clients had to see the whole picture, so they could decide where they were weak, where they were strong, and what to do next.

The solution had to be flexible, universal, and very simple to get. Flexible because everyone is different and unique. Universal because it had to be relevant to people from all cultures, nations, mindsets, etc. And simple, well, because, simple is simple.

So I developed the 8 Life Pillars.

It's quite simple. The 8 Life Pillars diagram is divided into 3 main sections. The base, the pillars, and the roof.

The base is our foundation. It's what everyone comes into the world with.
[list type="pointerlist2"]

  • Spirit
  • Mind
  • Emotions
  • Body

[/list]
And then the 8 pillars rise up from the base:
[list type="numlist"]

  1. Spirituality

    Concerning, relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul.

  2. Organization

    The structure or arrangement of related or connected things.

  3. Learning

    The acquiring of knowledge and/or skill by study, experience, or being taught.

  4. Health

    The vitality or condition of our body, emotions, mind, and spirit.

  5. Money

    The form of energy we receive for the value we give or service we provide.

  6. Service

    The action of helping or doing work for someone. The value we provide to the world.

  7. Recreation

    Activities that refresh and renew the body, mind, and spirit.

  8. Relationships

    The way in which two or more people, concepts, or objects are connected.

[/list]
And then we have the 'roof' which is your life. The base supports the pillars, the pillars support your life. Strengthen the base, each individual pillar, and your quality of life will automatically improve.

Ta da!

As simple (or complex) as it gets

The 8 Life Pillars can be as simple as taking a look at it, and immediately seeing what area you're devoting too much time to, and the areas you're not paying enough attention to.

So, it's super useful as an awareness tool.

Next, if you decide to go a little deeper, you can start to develop or improve each particular area of your base or life pillars.

For your base, you can work on your mind or body, release limiting emotions or connect to your spirit. There are a staggering number of exercises you can do for each.

For each pillar, you can define goals and projects, add to your knowledge base, develop skills, and build relationships and network with people who are strong in areas you are not.

It's really amazing the amount of things you can accomplish using this as your framework. As the tagline states, "life is in your hands." All of it. And speaking of frameworks...

Framework vs. System

The 8 Life Pillars is a framework, not a system.

What do I mean?

A framework is a skeleton, a building block, and/or an interactive model for people to develop a SYSTEM from.

An example would be Photoshop or some other program you use to edit pictures. Photoshop IS the framework. How you go about editing or touching up your photos is your work flow, or system of doing it.

The more you understand the framework, in this case Photoshop, the more advanced results you can get out of the program. Makes sense?

Now the system is developed from the framework, uses the framework to work in a specific manner towards a certain outcome.

Putting it very simply, a system is a certain way of doing things within a particular framework.

And your way of doing things will often differ from others. Simple as that.

For the 8 Life Pillars, you may find it best to start with a pillar that you're weak in, and start by building that pillar up. You may find a live person to learn from first, whereas someone else may decide to get a book and learn that way.

Conversely, someone else may decide to strengthen the areas they're already proficient in, and be a super specialist in that area, and will find other people to delegate areas of weakness to, instead of building those areas up themselves.

They all have their pros and cons, and it's totally up to you how you decide to use it.

When coming up with the 8 main pillars, my goal was to define the broadest, most universal areas of our lives. And each of those major areas splinter into a dozen or so categories.

Someone may say, well, where's travel? And obviously, it would be under the 'recreation' pillar.

Cleaning up my home? Under organization. Volunteering and running a successful business? Service pillar.

Some activities can fall under multiple pillars. Reading the bible? Spirituality and learning pillars. Meditation? Spirituality and health pillars.

That's why this is a useful framework to develop your self-improvement program from. It's totally flexible, and can be as simple or as complex as your system demands.

Bottom line: it's powerful and very, very practical.

Download it

This is just an intro to the 8 Life Pillars concept. There's a lot more built-in.

Later on, I will be adding my personal manifesto for changing the world, one person at a time using this particular framework. It goes a little deeper and covers other ways to use this very useful tool.

For now, feel free to right-click and save the diagram and have a good look at it. See how you can apply this to your own life, even if you're only using it as a reminder to work on some area.

I am including 2 separate background designs, one with a sun rising and another with a space backdrop. Let me know if you have a special background request and I will see if I can accomodate.

[download id="3" format="1"]
[download id="4" format="1"]

More to come soon...


Restructurize

[dropcap type="2"]I[/dropcap]t's kinda funny. For many years, I secretly wanted everything to be out of order or different. I mismatched clothes, people (if the majority went one way, I'd go the other), and ideas.

And if I was at school, I always loved the special days. Half-days, school rallies, special events, and even a teacher showing a movie during class time was better than nothing.

But I didn't want those special days so I could be a part of them -- ooohhh nooo. I wanted those days just so I could experience something different.

School was rarely challenging or fun for me. At least the academic part of it.

In high school I remember getting poor grades because I just didn't feel like doing the homework. But when test time came, I would study my butt off, then get A's and B's just to show everyone that I could and that their system was kind of pointless. Ahhh youth.

I still got bad grades, and ended up going to night AND summer school for three out of the four years I was there. I would barely graduate on top of that, and would have to pick up my diploma unceremoniously from the school office a year later.

School = 1 | Paul = 0

My strange, rebellious behavior would continue on into adulthood, and I think it was embedded deep within my subconscious at this point. I proceeded to drop out of college three times, and it wasn't even a fair fight.

School scored first round knockouts every time (I dropped out in the first quarter of my return every time). I think I may have had .5 credits to my name. Maybe.

School = 4 | Paul = .5

Why'd I do that?

And this led me to wonder why I behaved certain ways and continued to get the same results in certain areas, while I improved in others.

It wouldn't be until the year 2000 that I would finally understand what the heck was going on, after much reading and studying on my own.

Structure

Around the year 2000, my friend Bernie introduced me to a book titled “The Path of Least Resistance” by Robert Fritz. In it, he makes a very intriguing statement, but for me it was quite profound.

He wrote that structure always determines behavior. In Fritz's own words:

"Structure generates behavior. It determines outcomes. It produces patterns. You can't fool mother structure." ~ Robert Fritz

What does this mean?

Well, if a river flows in a certain direction, then it BEHAVES that way due to its underlying structure, which in this case is the river bed. Simple, right?

Another example. Our homes have a certain structure to them, which includes the basic layout of the actual house, furniture, and other accessories.

This structure determines how we in effect BEHAVE in our homes. Examples of our behavior include passing through hallways and empty spaces, through doorways, and avoiding running into walls and furniture.

Structure generates behavior. It determines outcomes. It produces patterns. You can't fool mother structure.

A shower has a specific structure that is fundamentally different from a bath tub, and each determines how we behave. You stand in a shower and generally lay or sit in a tub, unless that tub has a shower head, etc.

Fritz’s point was that since the way something is structured would determine your behavior within that particular structure, then it would automatically lead you down a certain path. The path of LEAST resistance.

And whatever you do now, regardless of who you are, you have some type of structure that is determining how you behave and act in the world. And this is your path of least resistance.

If you want to change a certain result in your life, such as weight or money or productivity, and you find that you have A LOT of resistance, AND you find it very difficult to change, then just realize that your current structure does not support your wanted change.

In our prior example of the house, this would be like trying to walk through a wall in the home. The current structure of the home does not allow you to walk from the bedroom directly into the kitchen.

It doesn’t matter how hard you TRY, or THINK POSITIVELY, the structure of the home simply does not support you walking through walls.

Now, if you want to knock out a wall, and create a direct A-B pathway to the kitchen, then you will have altered the fundamental structure of the house, and that will cause you to change your behavior.

Following me?

This is really powerful stuff. And it’s everywhere.

Nature has structure. Societies have structure. Cultures have it. Governments have it. Businesses have it. Schools have it...

And people have it.

Everyone has structure

In social work, I used to hear how young people have no structure, and if they just had some, it would make the difference in their lives.

While I agree that a change in structure is necessary to facilitate change in our lives, I would also assert that EVERYONE has a structure of some kind.

We can start by becoming aware of that structure FIRST, and then making a decision to change things will naturally follow.

Questions

If there is an underlying structure determining your behaviors and habit patterns in your life, then what does this structure consist of?

Is it internal? External? Both?

What results or behaviors would you like to change in certain areas of your life?

Do you think it would be difficult or easy to change? Why?

To be continued...


Commitment

[dropcap type="2"]C[/dropcap]ommitment. Oh boy. I am probably the LAST person in the world to dare write something on commitment. My hope is that only a select few read this post so that I am not jeered in the streets of Seattle and have tomatoes thrown my way.

Of course I'm being dramatic. But still, commitment is not an easy topic to broach for me, as many women in my past would attest.

But I would quickly respond that I HAVE been committed, and always will be committed... well, to somethings. But enough about me (don't want this to get too far).

Commitment is your choice...

This is an important topic because whatever you're committed to essentially determines your quality of life (or lack thereof).

And that's pretty important.

I remember listening to Les Brown say these words, and they always stuck in my mind.

"However you spend your time shows what you're committed to..."

That's a big ouch for a lot of people.

Some are more committed to TV, some to video games, some to working for someone else in a job they don't really like, some devote their lives solely to their children forgetting all about themselves in the process, and we could go on and on and on.

The point I'm making is that people everywhere have something they are committed to. Passionately or passively, people are committed to something.

The question is, what are you committed to?

When you look at your life, you will see the results of what you've been committed to all this time. And if you love it, then you know you're committed to the "right" things.

However you spend your time shows what you're committed to...

And if not, then pick something else to be committed to, otherwise you will find yourself committed to OTHER people's causes, businesses, lives, or whatever.

And that's no no good, because then people are more than happy to command you to do their bidding....

Commandments

I never really cared for the Ten Commandments growing up. I was supremely satisfied when Jesus came along and said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Look, we don't need all ten, just a couple. Focus on these two and you're all good."

And I'm all for less commandments, but this never stopped the adults in my life from placing their orders. This excludes my parents for the most part. They were just not the type to order me around.

My dad, being the quirky, eccentric character he is, allowed me to become whomever I wanted. Just don't step on anyone's toes... or my own. So my parents were probably less demanding than a lot of people I've come across.

And growing up this way led me into some interesting situations...

I distinctly remember being kicked out of class, quite a few times, or having to "excuse" myself for innumerable reasons due to conflict with students or teachers.

In adulthood, I was probably just as defiant if I felt someone was attempting to control me, but I slowly began to understand why they were doing what they were doing.

I was guilty of this, too, in prior relationships. Seeing this controlling side in me was so disturbing that it was life changing. My experience sure made it a whole lot easier to observe this behavior in others.

The thought of being ordered or commanded by someone else, or even controlling others is very unappealing to me. Who wants to be forced or controlled by someone else? Even in a passive, slick way? Not me... well, maybe sometimes I won't mind :)

Through confusion or ignorance, we may not realize that we ALWAYS have options, and that we can freely choose something or someone else.

Fear naturally arises from a state of 'not knowing', and from this place of fear we may find ourselves in situations and circumstances that just plain suck.

And for some, being in a terrible place is better than not knowing. As the saying goes, some would rather have a "known hell, than an unknown heaven." Or something like that.

If you find yourself in a situation or relationship that is 'commanding', demanding, or controlling, and you don't want that anymore, then I have something really important to share with you.

A SOLUTION for the "oppressed"

If you find yourself being oppressed by a boss, boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parents, teachers, politicians, whatever, then remember this:

You don't have YOUR OWN COMMITMENTS.

And when people don't have their own COMMITMENTS, they tend to follow other people's COMMANDMENTS.

Can you imagine trying to follow more than ten commandments? How about twelve? Or fifteen?? Ugh.

To be free of an oppressive, controlling relationship of any kind, then take time to form your own commitments.

A commandment is always from the outside. It feels pushy by nature, even controlling. Again, some may allow themselves to be controlled because they may be confused, ignorant of their options, or afraid. But remember this:

"You can't escape a prison if you don't know you're in one."

The Ultimate Life Strategy

Now, a commitment is something you initiate. It's proactive. It's your choice. Your commitments are your life strategy, your moral and spiritual compass.

Everyone needs a compass on the sea of life, and wouldn't you prefer YOUR compass, rather than someone else's?

Everyone has something that they're committed to.

If you don't know what they are, then think about them. Think about the general direction you want your life to go. Think about it idealistically.

Your commitments will guide you there, because committing to something or someone along with your current use of time are practically synonymous.

In other words, what do you want to create, and what must you commit to in order to realize your vision?

Paul's 8 Life Commitments

If you don't know where to start, that's ok.

 

Find and commit to something or someone that serves you today, if you haven't already.

And remember, when someone is ordering you around, or you feel oppressed, suppressed, or depressed, ask yourself one question:

What am I committed to right now?


Laws

[dropcap type="2"]I[/dropcap] can understand why people seek permanence and stability in life, since our stay on planet earth is so temporary. Knowing that we are only a grain of sand (in the middle of the Sahara) gives a clue of what God/Universe thinks of our significance. It's a cruel joke on the ego.

The ego wants to last forever. Not just last for a long time -- forever. And the things people do to hold on: some have kids just to pass their name for generations, or give generously because they want their legacy to continue as some name on a building.

We build time capsules, write books, keep journals and other records, but it seems no matter what we do, we're bound for oblivion. Poor egos.

Some think about the short time left here on the planet, and use this rationale to be completely selfish, while others can be destructive, be depressed and cynical, or live in fear for most of their lives.

For me, I find LIFE challenging, enjoyable, inspirational, and sometimes a frustrating pain that makes me want to scream. There's no place I'd rather be than right here, right now.

Regardless of whether there's an after life or not, what we ACTUALLY know is that we have just one life. Just ONE. This one itty bitty LIFE.

And if this is IT, then how do we squeeze every last ounce of life out of it, and realize a generous portion of our potential? Better yet, how do we even play this 'life game' to the absolute fullest while thoroughly enjoying it, WITHOUT being destructive to other people and our environment?

If we're really going to answer those questions, then we have to get back to basics. There is a foundation for life, a fundamental structure that, when understood, makes the difference in knowing who we are and improving our quality of life. Before anything is created anywhere within the known universe, there has to be some kind of structure.

Law is that structure. Law is the glue that binds the universe, our societies, and our lives together.

And law, specifically universal or natural law, is the only permanent thing in this whole entire universe and is the only known constant.

We may blow each other up, stars may implode and turn into black holes, and supernovas may destroy everything in their path, but LAW always remains. Maybe not too comforting for our egos, but hey, at least something lasts.

And since EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in the known universe is governed by law, then it's an absolute necessity that we learn a few things about it including how it affects us and how we can work with it in our lives. Let's first define law...

What is Law?

We'll use two different definitions. First, the most common understanding of law could be defined as:

the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties

And second, universal or natural laws could be explained as:

a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present

In short, laws are invisible forces that govern how the universe and all it's inhabitants, animate and inanimate behave, react, and respond. Obviously man-made laws are only enforceable by men and women, and universal and natural laws are ALWAYS "enforced". Nothing you can do to alter their consequences.

When's the last time you jumped off a building and kept going up? Thought so. When's the last time you drove your car over the speeding limit? Did you get caught 'breaking the law'? Maybe, maybe not. And if you did get caught, perhaps there was a consequence, usually resulting in a fine. Perhaps not.

Universal/natural laws are always on. Can't turn it off one day, and on the next. Not going to happen. Man-made laws may or may not be enforced, depending on a number of factors, especially the getting caught factor.

That's a very basic look at what laws are, and the difference between the two categories. Let's talk about the hierarchy of laws...

The Law Hierarchy

There is an hierarchy, or a right order of laws. It's important to understand that we are ALWAYS subject to the highest of the laws. Once we enter the domain of man made laws, things become a little more inconsistent. Generally speaking, there are 3 main domains of law.

Let's list them:

[list type="pointerlist2"]

  • Universal Law
  • Natural Law
  • Man-made Law

[/list]

An interesting quality about being on 'top' of the law chain, is that there's fewer laws the higher you go, and more laws the lower you go. So there's less of the universal variety, and a gazillion of man-made laws and rules.

You can download a simple diagram I created here:
[download id="1" format="1"]

Now, let's talk briefly about each kind of law.

Universal (Spiritual) Law

Every law is subject to Universal or Spiritual Law. It's kinda like the supreme court of laws. It's all encompassing, omniscient and, well, universal. It's everywhere.

The universe has the final say in all matters, and matter. It's more consistent than the earth spinning on its globe for billions of years. It manages the whole of everything.

An example of Universal or Spiritual Law would be the Law of Oneness. There is only ONE. ONE God, ONE Spirit, ONE Song (Uni-verse).

If this doesn't make sense to you right now, not to worry, we will be going over specific laws in later posts. In the realm of the Spirit, gravity and other natural laws have no effect.

Natural Law

Natural law is subject to Universal Law. Natural law would include laws that govern the body, mind, the earth, sky, etc. Newtonian physics including gravity, force, momentum, electromagnetism, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, are examples of natural law.

Man's Laws

Any law that men or women make are subject to universal and natural law. Universal and natural laws have immediate consequences whereas man's laws may or may not.

Although man's laws have been greatly influenced by universal/spiritual and natural law, the difference lies in consequences. If a man-made law is broken, there may or may not be a consequence, which is usually in the form of punishment or money.

Examples of man-made laws include commercial law, common law, codes, and statutes. There is also an hierarchy for man-made laws that the general population is typically unfamiliar with.

We will go over the man made laws in the near future, and that information will astound you. Truly.

So what?

"So what?", you may say. Here's why law is soooooooo important to understand:

Have you ever played a game where you didn't know the rules, and by not knowing them, you were penalized or thwarted in your chances of winning? Just because you didn't know a simple rule?

There are rules that govern our lives and the everyday games we play, and just by becoming aware of them, we can dramatically improve our quality of life, and the lives of those closest to us.

What games are we playing anyway? We play the economic/money game, relationship games, games that affect our health, the game of commerce and business, education, travel, social games, and on and on.

There are many games we play from moment to moment, and just by adding a little extra knowledge and skill to ourselves, we can positively influence our real world life results and 'win'.

Knowing and understanding the laws that govern our lives automatically increases the probability of winning exponentially. And the beautiful thing is, unlike most competitive games, there is more than one winner, and ALWAYS room for another.

By understanding law and it's natural flow of consequences, including the man-made variety, we can really set ourselves up for huge wins.

Remember that.

By understanding law and it's natural flow of consequences, including the man-made variety, we can really set ourselves up for huge wins.

What's next?

What if learning about certain laws that govern your life could drastically improve your life?

And I'm not just talking about the Spiritual/Universal/Natural Laws, those are obvious factors. I'm also talking about the specific man-made laws and structure.

Learning and practicing these newly discovered rules will transform how you interact with the "real" world in such an incredible fashion, that you will wonder WHY IN THE WORLD YOU WERE NEVER EVEN TAUGHT THIS STUFF???

You will curse the education system for holding out on you, and immediately forgive them in the same breath, because you get it. You finally get it. And now you know WHY.

So hold on, the best stuff is coming, we're just getting started. Stay tuned...