Let go my Lego: The ultimate Lego productivity hack

"What are you doing?? Just start building. No more talking!"

It's November in San Francisco. I'm in a conference room somewhere in the Twitter building playing with legos with a colleague and other strangers looking to build their businesses.

Why are we playing with legos?

"That's how you're going to develop your business models," says our facilitator.

It may seem strange to you, but I learned a new way to look at developing new (even innovative) business models using legos. It takes practice, of course.

It's not as easy as it looks, but the surprising takeaway comes after our facilitator challenges us through another exercise. My colleague and I are debating a business idea, and we're going back and forth and our facilitator comes over and says emphatically...

"What are you doing?? Just start building. You build yours, and you build yours. No more talking!"

I laugh because I get it. Talking is just another form of procrastination, and overthinking something that doesn't need more thinking. Just do it, and let the answers develop through process.

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

-Mark Twain

Lego lessons in action

The other day I wrote Love Improv #1, a freestyle piece that developed in my head organically. I had a blank screen staring at me, and decided to apply lego lesson numero uno. I begin to write, and shortly after, another post is up.

Just begin.

Just build.

Just write.

Don't worry about how it looks. Don't concern yourself with the end.

Just go along for the ride. You'll surprise yourself where you end up sometimes.

Sometimes the best way to begin is to just begin.

Starting is the best productivity hack in the entire universe.

Imagine how much you could accomplish if you started wherever you happened to be, with whatever resources were available?

Finally, if you're worried about making mistakes, then you simply don't understand how anything worthwhile gets built, created, designed, or developed.


During our break, the facilitator offers us some food. As I head around the hallway towards the dining area, I see a big poster on wall that says:

make mistakes

Of course.

Paul


One Step Closer

I was thinking the other day...

Life is hard.

I thought about this. Nothing seems easy. If I want to live, work is required. The expenditure of energy is necessary to get results. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. No action, no results.

Yes, life is hard, but withholding my energy from some person or project not only makes my life harder, it makes it less fulfilling.

What are you giving to life? What are you getting back?

Accomplishing anything worthwhile requires so much hard work.

If I want to accomplish anything noteworthy or worthwhile, then hard work is mandatory. There is no short cut, no easy hack, no magic pill to swallow. Busting my ass is the only answer to achieving anything worthwhile.

I think about the things I want to see in the world...

  • write a few books
  • create a magazine
  • develop a few apps
  • Tibet, India and the Himalayas
  • Siberia
  • perform on stage, either as speaker or actor
  • a stronger, healthier body

None of it is easy. There are no short-cuts. I have to put in the time and practice, the energy and effort to make it all happen.

All of these things require devotion. It's not a word I use very often, but if there's no devotion, then I'll never put in the time.

devotion |diˈvōSHən|

noun

love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause

What are you devoted to?

Most of the time, I don't WANT to do the hard work.

I don't want to do the hard work most of the time. I'd rather relax, watch a Youtube video or sports, read a book, or surf the internet. Who wants to work out and exercise? Who wants to write everyday especially when you don't feel like it?

I'm learning that when I face the hurdle of not wanting to do something, then I should find someone that does. In the connected world and economy that we live in, it's not that hard to find someone who compliments your skill set.

Stop whining about hard work and figure out what you're willing to work hard on.

Then find other people to do the hard work you want no part of.

Collaboration is a lesson I'm learning (the hard way).

Who do you know that can do the things you don't want to do?

It's easy to do nothing and be lazy.

Initiating a new project is exciting and invigorating, but after the excitement ends, real work needs to get done. It becomes easy to do nothing and get a little lazy.

But I've noticed something about my laziness. I'm lazy when I'm not clear on what to do next, and I'm not clear on what to do next because I don't have enough reasons to BE CLEAR. Kinda circular, I know.

Knowing your "why?" is crucial to doing anything in life.

I'm also lazy if I'm doing something I've never done before and I know my process is going to be very inefficient.

What if all laziness was a by-product of my inability to see clearly? What if laziness was simply a result of my own uncertainty?

If the next steps aren't clear to me, then I can be sure of one thing: I will definitely procrastinate.

Define the next steps with clarity. Be concrete. Write it down. 12 different people should be able to take what you've written down, perform the next steps, and produce similar results.

If you're being lazy or procrastinating then spend more time being clear. If a problem repeats itself or still confuses you, then spend more time defining the actual problem.

Clarity (easy to perceive, understand, or interpret) = Power (the ability to do something or act in a particular way)

The more CLEAR you are, the more POWER you will exhibit.

Remember that.

It's easy to quit when things get tough.

And it will get tough. I start a project and pretty soon I find that there's something or someone I don't know, something I don't know how to do, or a task that is beyond my current skill level.

Starting Everybody's Famous quickly taught me what I didn't know, and what I'd have to learn quickly.

  • Will this venture succeed? How can I validate a magazine, actually get people to fork over their cash for something that doesn't exist yet?
  • How will this magazine earn money? What's the business model? What will people pay for? What's the value being delivered?
  • What kind of corporation is it? LLC, C, S, or B?
  • Since the magazine requires content, stories from local communities, where will that content come from? How will we find those people? How do we tell compelling stories that engages just about anybody?
  • What other legal considerations, ethical questions need to be answered?
  • I'm not a journalist. I'm not a photographer or videographer. I'm not an audiophile. EFM is a multi-media magazine, so I'm going to have to learn fast. Each one of those statements comes with a bunch of questions, research, and activities.

I could be here all day listing everything I don't know about how to run a magazine or a business, but the point is, each one of these challenges are learning opportunities. And learning requires lots of mistakes. Lots of them.

In the beginning of learning anything, there will be a disproportionate amount of mistakes to what you do right. Know this and suck it up.

It's easy to quit when you suck at something, but anything worth doing is worth doing POORLY.

Do it wrong, learn, and grow. Just don't quit when things get tough.

But I don't know "how?"

I learned a few years back NEVER to ask how to do something until I've tried it first. I never realized that question could be used as a cop out from true action. I'd say 90% of the people who ask "how?" before any research or taking some kind of action are not truly serious.

I used to be like that, maybe not verbally but definitely in my head. I found over time that if someone has enough desire, has enough reasons to do something, they'll find a way to make it happen.

I also found that if I dug down deep enough into a problem or project that the next step to take was always within my line of sight. Even if I couldn't see beyond that next step, I always knew what the very next step was, and once I took it, then next one would reveal itself.

Stop playing around. You know what the next step is. The next step you need to take for your relationships. Your business. Your community. Be responsible and take it. Stop asking "how?" and just do it. At least Nike got that right.

Oh, and from now on, replace "how?" with "why?" to get to the heart of things. If your purpose isn't strong enough, it won't get done anyway, regardless of all the how-to books in the world.

WHY always beats HOW.

I can do so much better...

Really? You can have a better relationship, a better job, a better home, and a better life?

Then do something about it.

'Better' requires a little bit of faith. Faith requires a clear vision.

If you don't have a vision for your life and all your ideals - your ideal average day, your ideal relationship, your ideal job, etc. - then you won't act. You'll talk and talk and talk, but nothing will get done.

Faith and risk require a solid vision or plain ignorance. You'll go on with your sh*tty job and your mediocre lifestyle, but nothing will get 'better' unless you see things clearly and ACT.

So basic, but it's easy to get caught up in our own heads.

Besides, if you have a clear vision and are taking the necessary actions to see it through, you'll be able to put up with that sh*tty job a little while longer. Your time there is coming to an end, and you KNOW it. It's just a matter of time.

Can you imagine? Working that job and having no light at the end of the tunnel?

Having no vision sucks. Not acting at all is worse.

C'mon, let's do this. Life can be better for all of us, and you know it.

What's your next step?

For work?

In your relationships?

For your health?

For recreation and travel?

For learning?

For your money?

Clarity is one step closer. Take a step towards your vision today.

Even if it's tiny and miniscule.

Just one.

Paul


Practice

I was swimming at the local pool, and was envious of all the people diving off the high dive. I knew I was afraid of heights, but I couldn't take it anymore. I had to try it.

I climb the ladder, get to the top, and look down.

I can't jump. I'm coming down.

I must've been 7 or 8 years old. I haven't been on another high dive since.


I'm 20 years old and I'm working as a security guard in on of the tallest buildings in downtown Seattle. This one happens to be 63 stories high, and during training, my supervisor takes me to the rooftop.

I step outside and I'm frozen with fear. I see the top of buildings and am clearly above the entire city, except for the building across the street from me, which is around 75 stories high. I immediately get down on my knees and my supervisor is laughing at me, but I don't care.

I'm crawling close to the ground, and every once in awhile I sneak a peek at the entire city. The height has unleashed my fear, and I'm desperate to leave.

We head towards the stairs, and lock the door behind us. I feel like I just landed on blessed Earth, and for a moment I'm grateful, but I know I have to come back. Not because it's my job, but because I have to conquer my fear. I just have to do it.


The next time I go up, my fear returns, but I do less crawling this time. I go to the far edge and peek over. It's tough but I hold it for a few moments longer. I head back towards the door, low to the ground, but at least I'm not crawling.

I'm making progress.

This continues. I go up, walk low to the ground, peek over the edge, stay a few minutes longer than the last time, and head back.

Eventually, I'm fearless walking on the rooftop, looking at this beautiful city from every angle I can, taking pictures, and finally enjoying the scenery. I'm became comfortable with my uncomfortableness until it finally left.

I feel alive.

Practice

It's funny what a consistent practice can do. It can transform fear into love, take someone with low skills to mastery, deepen learning, and develop stronger relationships.

Practice.

Einstein once said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Who knows what context he was speaking in, but I'd like to amend his quote:

Practice: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I'm reminded of the story of an old preacher. He told a riveting sermon to his congregation, and people spoke about it all week. The next week, he told the same sermon and people were equally inspired. But he wasn't done. He decided to tell it again, and again, and again.

For 3 months he told the same sermon to his congregation, until finally one of his deacons approached him and asked, "Excuse me Pastor, you do realize that you've been repeating the same sermon every week for the past 3 months?? People are concerned."

"Yes, I do realize that and I'll stop telling the same sermon, over and over again, when people actually GET IT."

Practice eliminates hypocrisy, too.

I was playing basketball at a local rec center. I had a decent shot, and was snatched up by one of the teams. The guy I was guarding was quick, a little faster than me, but had one additional skill I didn't have. He could make a shot from just about anywhere, in just about any situation. To put it another way, he was schooling me.

We played a few games, and when it was over, I had to ask him, "Where did you learn to shoot like that?"

"I shoot a thousand jumpers a day," he said, "I usually have someone with me when I practice. They throw me the ball, and then run toward me trying to stop me from making the shot. I do this a thousand times, then I'm done."

Damn.

Practice makes you awesome, too.

People come to see me all the time looking to get their lives back in order. The first thing I ask them is what they do with their time. I pull out a blank schedule, and ask them to fill in what they did for the last week.

One time, a woman was shocked to see how much TV was occupying her time. I then asked her a question she'll never forget.

"What do you practice each and every day?"

She thought for a good 20 seconds and said, "I don't practice anything, really."

"Oh, that's not true. Looks like you're pretty good at watching TV."

She laughed, cause she thought I was joking. I just looked into her eyes, and then she got it.

"I need to change that," she finally said.

"Unless you're satisfied with what you have," I said making sure she was aware of her options.

"No. I need to change."

Practice leads to crappy results, too.

What's your practice?

I know I've talked about this before, but I'm like that cranky old preacher.

What are you doing with your life everyday? Because you're practicing something, and whatever it is, you're getting better at it.

It's all good if you're getting better at the right things, but what if you're getting better at the wrong things? Who determines right and wrong? You do. Just be honest with yourself.

For now, I'm practicing my writing. In a few, I'll be practicing some eating and maybe relax my mind with a movie.

Tomorrow, I'll be practicing writing some more, doing some business practice for the magazine, some exercise practice, maybe some yoga practice.

What about you?

If you're satisfied with what you have or your current results, maintain the practice. But if you want to get better at something, if you want different results, you'd better practice that.

How else are you gonna get there?

Paul

Practice: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


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


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


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

 


Why 'Sucking' is Awesome

[dropcap type="1"]W[/dropcap]hat if 'sucking' really bad was really awesome? After reading this, you'll understand why you'll want to 'suck' more frequently than you do.

Earning More

I work with population of people in challenging situations. All have been incarcerated recently. All are parents. Many had a poor education experience and are low skilled. Mix in a history of substance abuse, poor habits, and a shaky support system and you have a cocktail of barriers tough for anyone to swallow.

As a career coach, my job is to help them find a job and keep it, regardless of the obstacles they face. It's tough enough as it is, but I've come to realize that finding them employment still won't do "the job" in the long run.

A job keeps them on the hamster wheel spinning indefinitely so I have to find a way for them to earn more from less effort so they can be more in control of their circumstances and their lives. What's the benefit of our service if they have one or two jobs, are still struggling, and are never home with their families?

My colleagues and I have to offer participants more than employment, but what else can we do? Sure we offer housing, financial and legal services, but it's still not enough to keep them out of poverty. What's missing?

Skills To Pay The Bills

People are simply lacking the skills to monetize and thrive. If people do have valuable skills to offer, then they're lacking some other skill required to make the most out of their situation.

Let's define skill before I continue. I love Wikipedia's definition:

A skill is the learned ability to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both.

Many people I know (not just our clients) have valuable skills to offer the world. They have skills that could be useful in other industries and sectors other than their own, but since they don't fully realize the value they hold, they lack the skills to communicate that value to others who could benefit, thus missing out on opportunities day after day. You don't have to be someone with a ton of barriers to lack the necessary skills to advance and grow.

For example, let's say you have a skill that gets specific results, but you lack the ability to market that particular skill to others. You can do 'X' (skill) well and it produces results, but what if you don't know your own market value (skill) and cannot communicate (skill) your value to others? Or, let's say that you can communicate (skill) and market (skill) your value to others, but you're a lousy negotiator (skill) so you're not likely to get the best possible outcome for yourself.

So what's the problem?

Are people simply low or no skilled in critical areas that produce an income that would place them in middle class range, and out of poverty?

Are people learning the wrong skills or are they ignorant of the skills that produce ongoing income while building assets?

Maybe people are great at one skill (producing income), but lousy at a complementary skill (managing their money)?

Maybe people just don't understand the right combination of skills that would produce amazing results for them?

Skills are obviously a huge component of the solution, so how do we tackle the problem of low skills? What's the right approach? What's the best solution to implement that gets someone from low or no skilled to a level of competence that produces consistent results?

Marketable Skills

The first step to acquiring the 'right' skills is in identifying what they are. There must be a list of valuable skills that EVERYONE must have to get the most out of life. A list of general skills that allow one to earn money, work with others, manage their lives, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and grow personally and professionally.

Here's a short list of absolutely necessary life skills:

General Skills

Communication: Listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Relationships: Likeability, connecting, empathy, resolving conflict, mediation, team building, and trust.

Organization: Punctuality, prioritizing, cleanliness, order, systems, and management.

Challenges: Identifying and understanding problems, critical thinking, creative problem solving, pattern recognition, and follow-through.

Finance: Managing money, spending, saving, investing, and building assets.

Personal: Focus, concentration, will power, persistence, creativity, developing habits, exercise, eating healthy, physical skills and labor, movement, emotional releasing, forgiveness, etc.

I believe all these are MUST HAVE skills if people are to maximize their experience on this planet. (I'm sure I left a lot off the list, so if you have suggestions please put them in the comments section, and I will fill the list out some more.)

Every skill has levels or degrees of competency. Think of how martial arts uses belts to demonstrate varying skill levels - white belt (low skill level) to black belt (high skill level). You may be a white belt in saving money, but hold a black belt in spending it. Probably not a good skill combination, but something to be aware of.

Let's talk about some skills that will make you money, regardless of the work or industry you're involved in.

Marketable Skills

Marketing: Knowing how to effectively communicate the benefits and advantages of a single person or an entire business so that the market WANTS to take access that person's ability or that business' product or service will always be a valuable skill. Whether you're using this skill on your behalf or for someone else it will always be in demand.

Specialized marketing skills include: Writing resumes, interviewing, professional dress & appearance (yes, it's a skill), copywriting, selling and closing deals, branding, and conducting presentations that influence people to act.

Organization: The whole idea behind organizing is to get things done faster and more efficiently. Getting things done and being productive will always be in-demand, but what are the skills associated with organization?

Setting goals, creating systems and checklists, managing those systems, prioritizing tasks and goals, strategy and pattern recognition, decision making, task management, and producing outcomes or results.

Technology: We live in a digital world where thing change so fast, so it makes sense to get with the program or get left behind. Unfortunately many of our participants are way behind when it comes to using technology.

Email, internet, MS Office (Word, Powerpoint, Outlook, and Excel), Google Docs and search engines, social media, content creation and strategy, programming & coding, and research.

What if you suck?

What if you suck at making money? You suck at creating value for others? You suck at solving problems? You suck at building a solid network of supporters? You suck at communicating your value? You suck at being on time? What if you also suck at dressing professionally?

There's an obvious solution. If you suck, then your job is to un-suck yourself. You do that by learning skills that will produce awesome results for you and others.

And how do you learn those skills? By practicing them consistently.

Easy, right? Then why are people struggling? Why are people still so pathetically low skilled?

Because they're not practicing consistently.

"Brilliant Paul, just brilliant."

Ok, don't get all cynical with me just yet, let's look a little deeper first. Why aren't people practicing or learning these skills consistently?

Let's assume people know the EXACT skills they must have that will make them money on a regular basis. Let's say these skills have been identified as the general skill-set that everyone MUST have to prosper in today's economy.

Now it's time to practice some of these skills, and here's what you can expect:

If you haven't practiced a skill before, you're going to suck at it.

You may suck bad, or suck not so bad (hopefully you got some talent to minimize the sucking), but right before you start to get some competence in any particular skill, you QUIT.

You were so excited before you began. You REALLY wanted to learn spanish. You wanted to learn how to water ski. You wanted to learn how to network with business professionals. You wanted to learn MS Office, particularly Powerpoint so you can blow people away with your presentation skills.

And guess what? Before you could get anywhere with that new skill, you dropped it.

And you know why you dropped it? Because you SUCKED at it, and you knew it. Who wants to suck?? Nobody does.

But now we have a problem. By not 'sucking', you cannot learn that new skill. You are forever doomed to white belt. You are still crawling, not yet walking, and very far from running.

Can you imagine? A baby giving up on walking and saying, "Screw this. I'll just crawl for life. This ain't so bad."

Can you imagine a world of crawlers, everywhere? "Hey, don't step on me..." *crunch*

That's what happens to low skilled people. They're still crawling in a world of walkers and runners getting stepped or being climbed over.

Remember how you learned to walk? One day you just got up and fell down. You did it again and again. Slowly you kept your balance. You took a step, and fell down. You got up again, and fell again. But now you're walking. You may be clumsy, but you're walking.

You're walking because you went through 'suck' to get there. You didn't mind 'sucking' for so long because you were determined to walk. You were willing to deal with the 'suck' phase of acquiring the skill of walking. You were willing to look silly. You were willing to fall, and fall again. You were willing to deal with the snickering of those bastards that were entertained from all your trips and falls.

Ok, maybe not all that, but you get the point.

Now you're older, and you forgot that acquiring any skill worth learning has its 'suck phase'. You're so much more aware of the snickers and comments now, even if they're not there you'll make some up. You're sure the laughing in the background is directed at you as you make a fool of yourself.

You don't want to be vulnerable or look stupid, but it costs you. It's costing you money. It's costing you growth. It's costing you an awesome life.

Not willing to 'suck' is leading you to mediocrity. Not 'sucking' is giving you a life full of 'suck'.

Why 'Sucking' Is Awesome

Acquiring any skill requires you to go through the 'suck phase'. Sucking leads to competence. Competence gives you confidence. Confidence builds trust, not only within but with others.

Remember this:

Sucking is mandatory yet temporary in ALL skill acquisition.

In Josh Kaufman's book, "The Personal MBA" he talks about how long it takes to acquire proficiency in any skill. You know how much time you need to devote to learning a new skill?

20 hours.

Yup, 20 hours, and you know how long you'll suck during those 20 hours?

4 hours.

Just four. Of course that's just an average. It could be 2-3 hours if you're talented, or it could be 4-6 if you're not, but once you get pass the 'suck phase', something will *click* and things will become easier. Things will slow down. You are now out of the demoralizing crawl zone and have taken your first steps toward walking. It's only a matter of time before you start walking competently and confidently, and eventually running with abandon.

Application

If having the necessary skills plays a big role in being self-sufficient, then acquiring skills in the fastest, most humane way possible is needed more than ever. This requires a great system, great feedback, and the burning desire to walk like a baby who's fed up with crawling.

How many times have you said you're going to learn a foreign language?

How many times have you said you're going to write a book?

How many times have you said you're going to learn how to fix cars?

How many times have you said you're going to learn how to make some extra money on the side?

How many times have you said you're going to lose weight, gain more muscle, and have the body of a god/goddess?

How many times have you said you're going to learn how to tango, build websites, or scuba dive?

You start off hot with desire, then you suck, and then...... you quit.

I know, because I've gone through this process. Every question asked is directed to myself. People quit for all kinds of reasons, but I think the biggest is that people just don't wanna suck. I hate sucking.

But I never realized how 'sucking' leads to everything I want. If I can get through the 'suck phase' of learning any skill, if WE can just get pass those first 4-5 hours we're practically home free.

Join me

Pick a skill you want to learn.

Commit to doing it for at least 4 hours.

Commit to sucking bad for 4 hours, and don't give up until those 4 hours are complete.

You will WITHOUT A DOUBT learn something new.

With new skills, who knows? Maybe we can live more abundantly and put an end to poverty? Maybe we can develop new technologies and lessen the footprint we have on this planet? Maybe we can have healthier relationships and families and stronger communities?

Let's create a skill movement. How about an official 'I Suck Day' where everybody does something new, and sticks to it for 4 hours?

I'll find a way to implement this systematically at work. I don't know what that looks like, but it's going to happen.

What will you do? What will you learn?

Whatever you do, one thing's for certain.

You will suck. I will suck. Because it's by 'sucking' that we eliminate the 'suck' from our lives.

Update

Speaking of 'sucking', chapter 2 of my book is live on alienaesop.com. I know it can be improved, and the rewrite will be so welcome when I get more time to focus on it. I also plan on bringing an editor into the fray to guide me. I'll let you know when that happens.

Video is on the horizon, too. I know I've been talking about it, but it's coming. I know I suck on video, but there's only one way to get better, right??

It's October, so enjoy the change in seasons. More to come soon.

Paul "embracing the suck" Campillo


Do It Small

[dropcap type="2"]W[/dropcap]eek 8 is over. This week we'll keep it short, er, small. SCOREBOARD: [box type="blank" class="bg-blue rounded-10"] [columns width="1/2"]

Total Earnings

Driving: $117.00

[/columns] [columns width="1/2" last="true"]

Bank Account

$292.19

[/columns] [/box]

Bank Account 9-26-2012
Bank Account 9-26-2012

Mistakes

Look, I've made my fair share of mistakes (ok, more than fair share), and sometimes when I look back I think to myself, "What the hell were you thinking?!"

And more mistakes are on the way, but I've matured enough to start to embrace and welcome them as a part of my daily practice.

When you begin ANYTHING that you've never done before, mistakes are to be expected. And the only thing that will keep you going when you're looking like a klutz or just plain stupid is your vision, and that deep desire to make it a reality.

Without a strong desire to reach your end goal, it's easy for mistakes to become failures.

And here's the difference between mistakes and failures. When think about the word "mistake" break it up so that it looks like MIS-TAKE.

Imagine we're shooting a scene from a movie, and someone messes up the scene by laughing or doing something goofy. Most of the time we'll have to shoot the scene over again, and this is usually called a RE-TAKE. We'll just retake the scene until we get it the way we want.

Mistakes work the same way.

When something goes awry, just do it over again until you get it the way you want it, because this is how EVERY GOAL WORTH ACCOMPLISHING is achieved. And I mean EVERY one. If we were always meant to be on course, without deviation, goals would be so easy to accomplish that they would lose their value.

But there is a big difference between Hollywood and real life in that you may not get to retake a scene with the same players again. Like if you get drunk one night and slap your best friend silly cause you thought they were someone else. Ouch.

Or you get an opportunity to pitch your business idea to high profiled investors and in the middle of your presentation you suddenly get the worst jock itch EVER IN HUMAN HISTORY. So you excuse yourself and return 10 minutes later only to find that they've moved on to the next pitch. Your opportunity of pitching to them is GONE. Well, for now, anyway.

Or maybe you're running for President of the United States and this happens:

Ooops. Yeah, COSTLY mistakes like those are hard to get a retake for, especially if what you've done is just flat out unforgivable. Rick Perry's mistake is hardly unforgivable, but it definitely knocked him out of the race. Will he run for president again? Probably not.

Could he get another chance? Of course. He would have to improve his presentation skills immensely, but it's doable.

Many people GIVE UP on their dreams because it's just tougher to keep on keepin' on, especially when it's difficult to see progress from all your effort. Absolutely it is.

But if you never give up, and never stop trying you will get another shot. If you keep faith, and maintain your vision, you will get a second chance (or more). Maybe it will happen with the same players or an entirely different cast, but you will get another turn. It's guaranteed.

But if you decide to GIVE UP, and don't learn from your mistakes and correct course, then you may find yourself leaving the world of mistakes into the realm of FAILURE.

Failure

Failure has a totally different vibe and feel from mistakes. Failure means it's over and done. It don't work. Kaput. Dead.

I wrote about this awhile back and stated that humans are always successful, and can never fail because we're just designed for success. But projects, programs, ideas, isms, businesses, and machines can and do fail often and many times we associate those failures to us.

"My business failed. I have to shut it down." is different from, "My business has to close down. I failed."

If your arm ceases to work for you then your arm has failed to work, but you can still function. If you happen to go blind, then your eyes have failed to work, not you. Wouldn't you consider Ray Charles a success? Or Beethoven, who was deaf?

Businesses fail all the time, but the question is how many businesses will you start-up and attempt to make profitable before you quit?

When it comes to humans, the closest we can come to failing is giving up or quitting. The day you stop trying, putting in any kind of effort towards your idea or goal is tantamount to failure.

But you're still NOT a failure, because one day, in one single moment you may decide to give it another try. THAT business failed, but you DIDN'T fail. So even failure ends up being another decision we make, or a series of decisions we've made.

Do we make mistakes? Yes, definitely, and lots of them. The right idea is to learn from them, correct course, get better, and improve. Over and over and over again. And sometimes, what seems like a "failed" effort may just be a glitch on the way to something bigger and better.

Once a scientist was working on a particular kind of glue that would ALWAYS STICK, and his "failure" turned into Post-It Notes.

And there's so many examples of this all around us. Even unintended innovations come from making mistake after mistake after mistake, and never giving up.

But failure is when your project is over. When something NEVER reaches a satisfying conclusion, and isn't going to. When progress just stops.

And who determines when something stops completely? Who decides when it's no longer feasible to go on or whether to continue to press on and improve on the last version of an app, book, process, program, or project?

You. Me. We all have the choice.

Everybody's Famous

Everybody's Famous Logo
Everybody's Famous Logo

Everybody's Famous was a company I attempted to build a little more than a year ago. I made so many mistakes, but perhaps the biggest one was trying to do way too much with very little resources.

I just wasn't satisfied with doing things small. I wanted to make it EXACTLY as I envisioned it, and I wanted it NOW. It seems my impatience and lack of foresight cost me money, momentum, and lots of time. Not good when you're working on a strict budget.

I could list many more mistakes around this particular project, but the point is, they are very correctable mistakes.

Is Everybody's Famous a failure? Depends on how it's perceived and by whom.

But it never even got off the ground, and to me that means I've still got a shot to make it work. Maybe that means it doesn't need to work exactly like my ideal vision of it works.

But in my mind, I have never given up on the idea, and just recently I started gearing up for another version of Everybody's Famous.

And that means that I will have to do it SMALL. Very small.

Doing It Small

Sometimes I can get lost in epic visions, lofty ideas, and big goals. It's easy for me to do.

But I'm reminded that even the biggest things are made up of the smallest things. As big as the earth is, it wouldn't even exist without the tiniest of atoms holding it all together.

Big things are made up of little things.

And the idea is so easy to get. You want something big? Well, it's made of of even smaller things. And those small things? They're made up of even tinier things.

And so on and so forth.

One small focused action a day, incrementally, can lead to the greatest of accomplishments.

One small act is a big deal.

The greatest of all baseball players began their journey with a simple game of catch.

The best actors in the world played the smallest of roles in the beginning, even if they were just messing around with their friends.

One of the defining moments of the Civil Rights movement was a simple act of taking a seat on a bus.

One small act. And then another, and another. And pretty soon, you've got a book. Or you've arrived at a destination you once longed for. Or you built a business called Microsoft. Or you received your first industry award. Or be the man or woman you've always wanted.

Whatever it is, no matter how far out of reach it seems, one small step will get you closer. Yes, progress may seem imperceptible and completely unnoticeable, but this cumulative approach will result in a new destination and the fulfillment of your destiny.

It always works. The Tortoise always beats the Hare.

Finally

I've been kinda busy lately. I have a few web projects I'm working on, but my main project right now is finishing up my new book. I haven't announced it on Wake Up Smiling yet, so you get a sneak peak at the new cover.

WTF Book Cover

Thanks to you all for watching me take these tiny steps. It may not seem like I'm progressing (especially if you're looking at that bank account), but I am learning everyday from my mistakes and all the insights I gain from taking steps into the unknown.

Oh, and I will hit my mark.

Paul "Doin' it small y'all" Campillo


Big Dreams & Paying The Price

[dropcap type="2"]W[/dropcap]eek 7 is finito. This week we're talking big goals, paying the price, and sacrifice. SCOREBOARD: [box type="blank" class="bg-blue rounded-10"] [columns width="1/2"]

Total Earnings

Driving: $457.21

[/columns] [columns width="1/2" last="true"]

Bank Account

$560.25

[/columns] [/box]

Bank Account 9-19-12
Bank Account 9-19-12

The Big Goal

It's always great to dream big, and fantasize about the kind of world you want to live in.

When you ask yourself what you really, really want, you may be surprised by your answers.

I recently did this exercise, and allowed myself to dream as big as I wanted, and was surprised that my imagination didn't necessarily produce super lofty goals because the desires I have seem to remain the same over time.

I won't list everything, but let's take a look at some of the highlights (not in any particular order):

[list type="pointerlist2"]

  • Have $50,000 in the bank by August 1, 2013
  • Speak in front of hundreds of people (I don't have to do this often, just a few times. I prefer smaller audiences)
  • Write three bestselling books (1 published traditionally, 2 self-published)
  • Travel around the world (Siberia, India, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Philippines, Russia are top of my list)
  • Shoot a documentary
  • Go surfing, skydiving, canyoning (again), and sailboating.
  • Create transformational workshops, courses, and trainings around Wake Up Smiling concepts.
  • Build business ideas with strong teams (Social Tale-Spin and Everybody's Famous)
  • Create an 8 Life Pillar app
  • Build a strong network of relationships
  • Invest money in other people's start-up ideas and support them in their businesses
  • Live from my heart first, then my mind
  • Keep vibrantly healthy and in tune with my body
  • Be in a committed relationship to a woman that makes me wake up smiling
  • Earn at least $1 million dollars a year in income

[/list]

And that's the short list, even though the meatiest parts are up there. And looking at this list, I can say without hesitation that I really believe I can accomplish all of it. Of course, not all of those listed are "accomplishments" because building a strong support network of friends/business partners and being in a committed relationship with one person is an ongoing, continuous process.

Obviously, some of the list requires more detail and specific end dates, but I'll take care of that later.

The point is, this is my version of dreaming BIG, and I know that as I move towards these goals, more opportunities will avail themselves, and what I'll be able to accomplish will expand.

It's been my experience that whole new paths open up as I move into action and start making some serious progress, and then it's up to me whether I take those paths when they present themselves, or stay the course.

Having a list like this is great, and everybody ought to have one. But as I look at the list, a thought knocks me over the head...

Paying The Price

When I have big dreams and have set lofty goals, the one question that I forget to ask myself is:

What's the price I have to pay for 'x'?

You ever think of that? What's the price you're going to have to pay to get something? To achieve that? To accomplish such and so?

What price are you willing to pay to make that dream a reality?

Practicing, rehearsing, and building those habits is the price you have to pay.

The hundreds of hours of piano lessons you put in, so you can play competently in front of others.

The daily grind of speaking a language that sounds so awful coming out of your mouth that you wonder how you can continue, but still motivated by the idea that one day you will speak it fluently.

The exercising and walking each day to get your weight back to sanity or the torturous process of sculpting your abs for that beach body look.

The discipline of writing everyday no matter what, and posting it for others to see and critique, because you know your work will improve with time.

Or how about speaking in front of strangers when ever you get a chance because one day you want to be speaking in front of hundreds of people at a time.

Watch the following video, and then answer the questions that follow.

Many people know Hugh Jackman is from Australia, and is probably best known for his role as Wolverine in the X-men series. But many also don't realize that he's won a Tony award, and as demonstrated from the video, is a complete performer, meaning he can sing, act, and dance while hosting the world's most prestigious entertainment award ceremony.

Bravo, man!

But here are the pertinent questions:

How many hours of practice did he log to get to his current level of vocal ability? (FYI, his vocal skills will also be on display in the upcoming December release of Les Miserables)

How many hours of dance rehearsal and choreography has he put in to perform at this level?

How many hours of practice (singing, acting, dancing, and theater) do you think he put into doing this ONE SKIT, to pull off one of the greatest opening numbers in the history of the Oscars?

And finally...

What price did he have to pay to get to perform at such a high level?

Here's another example.

Legend has it that Stevie Wonder used to write a song a day, everyday. Now, he didn't use them all, obviously, and more of those songs never made it to an album, let alone a single.

But still, a song a day. And that doesn't include actually composing the music, editing, rehearsing, and playing with band members. Oh yeah, and being blind certainly has its drawbacks to the whole process, although he probably would never use that as an excuse for anything.

What price did Stevie have to pay in time and energy to hone his craft? How many hours did he invest into writing songs, composing music, rehearsing, forging strong relationships with promoters, managers, band members, and agents?

Think about how much frustration he had to endure? How many times did he get screwed over? What else did he have to sacrifice?

Sacrifice

Paying the price is one thing. This is what you have to give in order to get something. The bigger the goal, the more you'll have to give. Simple math.

But sacrifice is the other side of the coin. It's what you give up in order to get something. This includes abstaining from all the fun and enjoyment, and giving up some of the everyday pleasures and comforts that nobody sees, but then ignorantly suggest that it was talent that carried the our hero to stardom.

It's giving up the ski trip with your friends to focus on studying.

It's not seeing your girlfriend or boyfriend for long periods of time while you're working on a life changing project.

It's going to war for your country, forsaking all the comforts of home life and leaving your family not knowing if you'll return in one piece.

Here's a definition of sacrifice I learned some time back. I think you'll find it useful:

Sacrifice is when you give up something of value, for something of greater value.

If you're not giving up something valuable, then there is no sacrifice, just mere exchange. And you have to give up a lot in order to realize the big dreams that seem beyond your reach, and experience the awesome life you only fantasized about living.

What am I giving up? What am I willing to give up for this greater dream?

For physical health, maybe it's giving up sweets and the comfort that comes from NOT exercising.

For a successful and growing business, I will have to give up the ten great ideas I have and concentrate on just one. I will also have to give up recreation time, relationship time, etc.

To earn ridiculous amounts of money, I will have to give up the safety net of the past and make myself extremely vulnerable to others.

To learn a language fluently, I will have to give up the certainty I have when communicating, to sound silly, awkward, and embarrass myself while I learn.

To shoot that documentary, I will have to give up time with the people closest to me as well as every luxury, and travel to a foreign country to make a movie that may turn out to be a fruitless endeavor.

Making those sacrifice requires courage, incredible faith, and an unwavering commitment to the vision.

And even after all that, it may not even work out in the end. The endless hours, the tireless energy and effort you put into something, and everything else that suffered along the way while you pursuing your dreams may turn into nothing.

It's easy to see why many never make that big sacrifice, and that makes settling easier to do, even justified. Why take the risk if I'm not guaranteed at least a modicum of success?

Look at your own dreams. Look at your REAL VISION, and ask yourself, are you doing everything you can to get it? Are you willing to drop everything to go after it?

When I think about it, my answer is "no". No, I'm not doing everything I can. Not totally, and not with full abandon.

I see where I wavered, where I stepped off the practice field, where I succumbed to old habits, or just gave in and gave up.

Yet, I pick myself back up again. And I give up again.

I give up every time I don't pay the price. Every time I don't exercise, don't practice, don't rehearse, and don't focus on what "I say" is most important to me.

The Repetitive Questions

When ever motivation is low or when I need a kick in the pants, I'll have these questions posted nearby to remind me of what it takes to make epic sh*t happen.

What price am I willing to pay for my dream?

What sacrifices am I willing to make?

What's the price that I will have to pay for mastery or to be a high level performer?

And the practical side to all of this is in my answers.

I'm going to have to write for three hours a day, at least five days a week, and not one second less.

I'm going to have to start producing videos at least once a week.

I'm going to have to increase the intensity of my workouts.

I'm going to have to offer a lot of my work for free.

I'm going to have to join Toastmasters (again), and attend consistently.

I'm going to have to spend hours of concentrated time creating products, and the corresponding offers that g0 with them.

In other words, it's time to step the f*** up!

See y'all next week.

Paul "Payin' the Cost" Campillo


Unmotivated, Distracted, and Passionless - Now What?

[dropcap type="2"]W[/dropcap]eek 4 is complete. This week, being unmotivated, distractions, and my waning passion. But first, SCOREBOARD:

[box type="blank" class="bg-blue rounded-10"]
[columns width="1/2"]

Total Earnings

Driving: $137.00

[/columns]

[columns width="1/2" last="true"]

Bank Account

$184.22

[/columns]
[/box]

Bank Statement 8-29-12
Bank Statement 8-29-12

Unmotivated

What do you do when you stop caring? Really, what do you do? Do you keep working at your job even though you know, deep down, that it's dulling your senses and killing any life you have left? Do you stay in a relationship just for the kids, even though you feel more and more depressed as time goes on?

Or do you just drop it, say thank you, and move on to something greater?

It's not an easy question to answer, there's just too many variables involved. But this is where I find myself, even at the beginning of my long quest.

No, I haven't given up on my goal of $50,000 in the bank by August 1, 2013. Not even close. And no, I'm not depressed or lost my zeal for life. Far from it.

But I am questioning my way of getting to this goal, because as I plod along on Value Detectives, I'm realizing that I don't necessarily want to do web design and internet marketing for just anyone. I actually learned these skills out of necessity to get my own sites going, but when others (who are even less clear than I am) get involved in the process, it can feel like the workload has doubled.

Surprising revelation, I know.

Can I make money at this? Sure, and I've done that. But I find myself NOT trying hard enough to get my own site and business going, and that is concerning me.

I could list numerous reasons why, but we'll just say that I'm not super stoked or passionate about convincing people that they have a huge hole in their marketing, when most are pretty clueless about the entire subject of marketing, particularly marketing online (from my experience, anayway).

And this bothers me. It bothers me because I go back and forth between providing this valuable, much needed service for others on the one hand, and on the other, I say to myself, "Why do this for others when I could be doing this for myself and my own projects?!"

I would be more than happy providing this service for people who's projects I actually CARE ABOUT. But to do it for just any ol' body is not making me jump for joy. (As I write this, there's definitely a clue for me to really get within this paragraph)

It's conflicting, and I realize that on some deeper level, I'm not congruent and in sync. My mind is split, and my actions express what I feel deep inside. In those moments, when I'm conflicted, Value Detectives is laborious at best, and energy sucking at its worse.

And this conflicting behavior leads to a lack of productivity and inaction, and an increase in distractions...

Distractions

When you work for yourself and from your own home, there are pros and cons. The worst part are the distractions, and for every distraction, there's a reason why behind it.

I know a few reasons why I get distracted, but lets's list some of these, though not in any particular order:
[list type="numlist"]

  1. I'm Alone

    Working from home sucks because you have little interaction with others. The neighbors must think I'm a hermit or a recluse, until they see my car gone for the two-three days a week that I need to work for that other company or get groceries so I can survive.

     

    It's important for me to distinguish being alone (physical) and loneliness (emotional). Being alone doesn't bother me, and I'm used to it. It doesn't necessarily give me an advantage over having a smart team around, but there are some advantages.

     

    Loneliness is something that creeps into my psyche from time to time, and I'm ok with that. It's rare, but when it does come, it comes with a wallop.

     

    The point is, when I'm alone it's so much easier look at email, answer a phone call, read a text message, and click on anything that appears interesting, because it's as close to human contact that I can get at that moment.

     

    Of course it's not human contact, but it at least FEELS closer to it than what I was. Also, when you're alone, working as a one-person team, there's no real accountability....

  1. No Real Accountability

    Who's going to say, "Hey! Did you produce 'such and such'? Nobody. I'm accountable to myself, and that can be good and bad.

     

    When deadlines are set, and they're not met, what are the ramifications? What are the consequences? What's going to happen if this doesn't get done? It's all on me, and it's easy to block out and justify why something doesn't get done.

     

    I do it all the time. And that's just a lack of discipline...

  1. Lack Of Discipline

    It's easy to run on auto-pilot and default mode. It's easy to get caught up in Youtube, the politics of the day, Facebook friends' updates, click on pics of hot chics, read email of other people's agendas (what else is email, anyway?), look at the latest sports news, chat with friends, etc.

     

    It's just a lack of discipline, which could mean a few things. Either I'm doing the "wrong" thing, which could mean I don't care about this activity or project enough. So why am I even doing this?

     

    Or, maybe I'm not clear on what the next step is, so I click on anything (an article or an email link) that will give me a focus for the time being.

     

    Or, maybe I am clear on next steps to take, but I don't think I'm skilled enough to do a particular activity or  so I sit there stuck. Imperfection is just another form of fear, and maybe I need to take my own advice.

     

    I'm sure there are more reasons for undisciplined behavior, but these are mine.

[/list]

Obviously distractions aren't getting me anywhere, but as I look at the reasons WHY I'm distracted, then I really have to re-examine the path I'm taking, as well as the activities I'm willing to do to get where I want to go.

Money follows value. And people act, in any given moment, based on what we value most in that moment. Any action taken by anybody in the world in this very moment represents what they TRULY value. No exceptions.

And as I click on another Youtube video, this reflects what I value the most in that moment. And that means something needs to change, stat!

Realization: The value I provide to others must include activities which I value doing AND must also include problems that I am passionate (highly value) about solving.

Passion

I simply mistook my capabilities and skills as my passion. In reality, I'm not passionate about doing web design and marketing FOR MOST PEOPLE. It's enjoyable, but it can also be very frustrating, especially when all involved are going in different directions.

When I'm working on a project with someone else, especially a design project, then I can expect a lot of miscommunication and I usually end up with more work than I originally set out to do. Working with the right people is crucial to my sanity, and goes a long way in the quality of work I produce.

For me to be firing on all cylinders, I need to be doing what I really ENJOY doing (which involves something I'm highly skilled at and something I'm talented in), AND I have to be working on a problem that I'm extremely EXCITED about solving for others.

You may have heard the mantra, do what you love and the money will follow, especially since a book with that same title was written. And you may have also heard that doing what you love will NOT bring in the moolah, so don't focus solely on what you're passionate about, because the market doesn't care about what you love to do (and they don't).

It's not an "either/or" situation for me, and as I tend to conclude, the answer is usually a mixture of BOTH.

I think people ought to do what they love and enjoy their work and lives as much as humanly possible, and integrate that with what they're talented and highly skilled in. Yes!

But I think the missing piece of the equation to the "do what you love" motto is applying those skills, talents, and unique abilities to a PROBLEM you're also passionate about solving.

Passionate Doing x Passionate Problem Solving = Following Your Bliss

Motivated, But More Importantly, Inspired

And as I reflect upon what I just wrote, I see that I have NOT brought the two elements together in my everyday experience properly. And that's why I fizzle and slow down on my main project before a month's work has been put in.

Following my bliss is essentially doing what I love to do and applying that to a problem I'm passionate about solving or alleviating. Not just solving for self, but for other people as well.

I've done this before. I think we all have to some degree, and it seems, for significant results, spectacular even, we must marry the two. Of course, it's easier said than done, BUT, it does give me a north star. And as I write this, it gives me a greater sense of clarity on my next steps.

But, can you imagine not doing this AT ALL?

You're NOT using the unique talents you were born with -- AT ALL?. You're NOT doing what you REALLY, REALLY enjoy doing -- AT ALL?. You're NOT working on problems you're passionate or deeply care about solving, but instead work on problems that bore you, dull you, and turn you off?

Yes, you may be highly skilled at doing something, but if the other elements are missing (caring deeply about something, expressing your true talents, etc.), then how are you benefiting? How will you reach your true potential? How can you feel invigorated and TRULY ALIVE?

Guess you'll just have to wait for the weekend to experience that, huh?

Dreams

Value Detectives is still part of the plan, but not how I originally envisioned it. I will need to angle it so that I am working with the people I want to work with (still to be defined), solving THE problem I care about the MOST, and focusing on applying my unique abilities to the work, so I'm not bored or even frustrated.

My main strategy is now clear.

Marry my talents, skills, and unique abilities with a problem I deeply care about solving. And that will become my ultimate business.

It will propel me to refine and define myself more precisely. It will bring the best out of me because I will have a specific message to give people, rather than having the 3-5 elevator pitches I have on hand depending on who I'm talking to.

It will also keep me driven and inspired, instead of the whole, "I need to work for the money" mentality. Granted, I still do a bit of that, but I am learning not to compromise my core integrity and sell out on my dreams.

And NO, the $50,000 dollars is not a dream of mine. I just see it as a means to do greater things, as well as an awesome indicator that I am giving tremendous value to the people of the world.

I am actually living a portion of my dream now, it just needs some expansion. I really enjoy writing, but next year, I want to be on a train, speeding through Europe, working on my next book.

Next Steps

For the week, I will:

[list type="checklist"]

  • Figure out and really nail down my offer for Value Detectives (What I'm willing to give, who I'm willing to give it to, and for how much) -- September 5, 2012
  • Work on video script for Wake Up Smiling (outline is almost complete)
  • Finish reading The $100 Startup -- Still September 5, 2012
  • Figure out the Kindle platform and get Butt-Naked Abundance on Amazon

[/list]

That's it for now. Take care of yourself and have a great week.