[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.
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  • Spirit
  • Mind
  • Emotions
  • Body

And then the 8 pillars rise up from the base:
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  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.

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.

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More to come soon…

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