Forgive me?

What do you do when your intention gets misinterpreted?

What happens when you hurt another's feelings without realizing it?

What's the next course of action when both parties think they're right?

Miscommunication is a chance to tell the truth. It's an opportunity to go deeper with someone. Don't squander your opportunity to get to the heart of things. Yes, it may be easier to run from the problem, or the person in the moment, but do your best to stick it out. There's growth on the other side of conflict.

Forgive.

Learn.

Grow.

Heal while you can, there's no reason to prolong the inevitable.

To all the people who I have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally...

Please, forgive me.

Thank you.

Paul


Fun

"What do you do for fun?"

It's always been an odd question for me to answer. I get a different reaction depending on who I'm talking to.

I like to write, read, work on projects, I'll check out a movie from time to time, watch sports, blah blah blabbity blah...

It really doesn't matter what comes after I say 'work on projects'...

"So you work all the time then, huh?"

I don't know. I suppose so.

"Man, you should go out sometime."

Like, where?

"I don't know. Maybe a club or something. Aren't you bored?"

No. I don't think I EVER get bored. There's too much to do.

(Falls on deaf ears.)

"You should come out with me sometime. I'll show you a good time."

Ok, sure, when I get some time. I'll think about it.


It never happens. I rarely, if ever, hang out with a bunch of friends at one time, but I still manage to have FUN. My kind of fun, not other people's.

Thinking about big ideas is fun to me, especially in group settings. Working on those ideas is not as fun, but the results that come from the work is entirely satisfying.

Exercising in a gym is not fun, but running around playing frisbee or catching a football is. Exercise with some gaming or competitive element gets my juices flowing, but a treadmill heading to nowhere seems like such a waste.

Writing is a mixed bag. Sometimes it's fun, most of the time it's an exercise in frustration and despair hoping something ingenious spews out of my brain. Thank the universe for 'morning pages' by Julia Cameron. A writer's life saver.

Dancing is fun, unless I feel like I'm forcing it, or I'm dancing because some beautiful woman asked me to, but I'm not really feeling the music. She has no clue.

Starting a company is fun-ish, but after the initial excitement and bursts of creative energy, reality sets in. The momentum shifts to hard work, doubt, uncertainty, and hopefully a few small wins to keep the business (and my sanity) alive one more day.

This 30 day challenge is fun on some days, but today I'm hating on this "fun" post.

But you know what? It's all worth it. The crummy days of doing something you love are worth the quiet moments of pain. The fear, the worry, the doubt, the frustration are NOT fun, but there are moments in there that are.

I knew this, even in my 'clubbing' days. The whole entire night out was rarely fun, in fact most of the time it was the opposite. But then there are special nights when I dance for 5 hours straight, thanks to Jazzy Jeff and Shortkut.

Paul and Z
A rarity rivaling the Lochness Monster or Bigfoot: Paul having FUN!

Yup. 5 hours straight - that's not an exaggeration. I was sore for three days. Is that kind of fun the norm for me? Not even close.

I've noticed that fun comes in moments and spurts, even in so-called 'fun' settings. Maybe true enjoyment lingers, and fun is just an excitable form of enjoyment. Who knows? Who cares? What matters is I'm enjoying my life.

I enjoy the work I do, for the most part. I enjoy my life outside of my day job, even if it's another form of work. Am I missing out on something? Sure. The activities I do on a daily basis are sometimes fun to do, but hardly are they fun ALL of the time.

Maybe fun is not all its cracked up to be. Maybe it's authentic enjoyment that we're all after. Maybe it's a new challenge. Maybe it's a simple guilty pleasure.

Find something you enjoy doing, and stop worrying about us introverts. Trust me, we're good.

Paul


Dream or Reality

I wake up to a strange light. It actually nudged me.

What do you want?

"Your life."

My life?

I'm half asleep, I don't who I'm talking to, but whoever this is, is familiar to me.

"Yes, your life. Why don't you give it to me?"

How? You want me to die?

"Let me show you."

I black out.


I'm starting to regain consciousness, stars are flying past me. I feel like I'm traveling at the speed of light, but something feels off.

"You're correct," as if my mind is being read, "you're not really moving. It's all in your mind. Relax."

Where are you taking me?

"Back to the beginning. Back to where we started."


I wake up. It's a dream and they are increasingly becoming more real, more vivid. I'm able to feel inside of them, touch things, and even sweat. It's not like before.

It seems that someone is communicating with me, not just in my dreams, but in waking life.

Deja vu happens more frequently. Strangers look familiar. It's probably just a phase.

I think about my dream, and Zhuangzi's words come to mind:

“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.”

― Zhuangzi

I begin to wonder. Why does anything exist? Anything at all? If there is an almighty god or creator, then what came before THAT? And what came before that? The infinity of the question makes my mind tweak for a minute. I can't grasp it.

Fine. I accept it. I'm prepared for anything to happen. I understand many things in life are out of my control, and lately I feel like I'm being driven rather than the one doing the driving.

Sure, I can resist. I can stop the flow, but where will that get me? I have to listen more, follow that instinct, and trust. Yeah, trust, that's the hard part. If I don't learn to trust my Self, then I'm headed for normality and normal is just another word for mediocre.

If you're trying to do something meaningful, the biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time.

-Neil Strauss


A thought comes to me. I have a question. It's the question. It makes me think some more, then I get excited. I realize how important this particular question is.

Biased? I'm sure of it, but still an important question to ask. I believe it can bridge the divide between science and religion. The journey will be long and arduous, but I'll get there. Step by step, I'll get there.

Bet you're wondering what the question is, huh?

I hope I find an effective way to deliver it. I'll be fine as long as I trust. It's not as easy at it sounds.

Maybe in my dreams - or is it reality? Sometimes I can't tell the difference.

Paul

 

 


30 days to a new life

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

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

How could I say no?

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

30 days

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

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

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

Take a look at the 8 Life Pillars:

8 Life Pillars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I challenge you

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

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

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

If you need more ideas, check this out.

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

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

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

Good luck.

Paul


Alien encounter

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

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

Those must be UFO's!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the video:

Real understanding

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

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

Self-preservation trumps history, was his reasoning.

Ridiculous, I thought.

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

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

Nope. You're gonna think something like:

They're far more advanced than we are.

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

I don't wanna get beamed aboard their ship.

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

We don't stand a chance...

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul


I can't vs. I won't

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

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

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

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

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

"Pretend??"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why won't I fly?

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

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

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

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

Paul


The excuse killer

The desert

My dad raised me in an interesting way. He didn't have a ton of rules. He allowed me to choose what I believed in, religiously or politically. He explained that I was responsible for my life at age 10. He was still responsible TO me, but I responsible FOR me - my actions, behaviors and ultimate results.

I explained to a friend that it was like growing up in a desert. A wide open sea of dunes, endless sand, and my own compass. I could go in any direction I pleased. Sure, there would be consequences, but I was responsible. No one else.

This doesn't mean I didn't have structure. Even a desert has structure, but it felt like I had a blank slate, so to speak, to create whatever I wanted. As I grew into adulthood, I realized this was an advantage for me.

I didn't know it at the time, but he was prepping my mind to think without limits.

One day, I asked myself if there was something holding me back from getting anything I wanted. I found nothing.

Here's how my conversation went...

What's stopping you?

Fear? Nope. You have courage to deal with that.

Doubt? Uncertainty? With a little planning and faith, you can smash old limits.

Not smart enough? Don't worry, it's an action oriented universe - intellect won't make or break you.

Ignorance or inexperience? You can always learn something new to deal with ignorance. You can practice something old and get better and better, to deal with inexperience.

Mistakes and failure? You can learn from those, too. Mistakes are either lessons in how to NOT do something or they can lead to innovation, like post-it notes.

Lack of money? Can you produce quality ideas and do great work? Money always follows good ideas, great effort, and practical solutions to everyday problems.

Physical challenges? You can think about people like Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller, and Stevie Wonder amongst the millions who are handicapped to varying degrees.

How about your background? The area you grew up in? Too many examples to list here of people overcoming their environment, psychological background, and negative conditioning, but I love Booker T. Washington's story.

Your past? Sure, many people will look at your track record and judge you, but not everybody. Will that stop you from getting what you want? Your decision.

Laziness? Bad attitude? Addiction? Nope. If other people never overcame their own bad habits and vices, then I'd agree with you. I have friends, family, and colleagues that have successfully dealt with their stuff.

I know, I know. You're the exception. I thought I was, too.

Is most of life out of your control? Yup, but what do you have a shot at getting under your control?

Me.

You

So what's stopping you from being your best, having what you want, and living your ideal life? Unless you're physically restrained, caged, or dominated by others, then there's nothing holding you back.

Nothing, but you.

Can fear stop you? No, so stop blaming fear.

Thoughtless phrases like, "I'm sabotaging myself" or "I fear success" allow you to avoid taking responsibility. It's easy to place the blame on something abstract and untouchable, but what those phrases are really saying is, "I don't have a strong enough purpose."

"We have met the enemy, and he is US."

-Pogo

Reasons

If you're lazy, not excited about life, feel stuck, afraid or whatever else you think is holding you back, then there's one key ingredient you're missing that can help you overcome all that.

Purpose.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

without purpose nothing exists.

I'll say it another way. In order for something to happen in the world, in order to have a physical result or outcome, purpose must drive its creation.

What is purpose? Purpose is simply asking the question, "why?", and "why?" produces reasons. Those reasons either inspire you to action or leave you bored and demotivated.

There's just something special about "why?" - it gets to the depth of your motivations quickly. When you ask "why?", the reasons that drive you, the reasons that inspire or motivate you must come to the surface.

Purpose is powerful and revealing. If you think you're stuck, then ask why. You may discover from your reasons that you simply don't care enough to see something through.

Remember, nothing can stop you. Nothing's holding you back. You just don't have a good enough reason to act.

Start with "why?", and behold a new YOU.

Lessons

There really is only one lesson:

Nothing can stop you, but you.

Stop blaming the economy.

Stop blaming your boss, your job, your colleague or whomever.

Stop blaming your husband, your girlfriend, your lover, your mistress, your kids, your pets, and your family. Just stop.

Stop blaming nonsensical things like "self-sabotage" or "fear of success". They don't exist.

Stop blaming the past, past lives and karmic debts. Your present YOU is the issue. What are you going to do about it NOW?

Stop blaming politics, government, the state, police, judges, authority, schools, or religious institutions.

Stop blaming god or the devil. You have free will, a free mind, a choice to be (or not to be).

Instead...

Take responsibility for all of it. Yes. ALL of it.

What will you do to create a better [fill in the blank]?

You have a choice. To be? Or not to be?

To blame others, situations, or the past? Or to take responsibility for your life.

To love? Or to fear?

To really live? Or to pretend you're excited about life.

To be courageous? Or to be the coward?

To betray oneself? Or to remain true to you?

You decide.

Paul


How to rewrite the story of your life

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

wiredforstory

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

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

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

A meaningless universe

I need to make a point before we continue.

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

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

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

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

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

We are story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Profound entertainment

Entertainment is:

entertainment |ˌentərˈtānmənt|

noun

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

malcolm x quote

PE Ratio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebalance your PE ratio

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

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

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

What will you do with your moment?

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

Personal Stories

You'll survive

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

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

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

Follow your heart.


Zjump!

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

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

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

I chose to zjump. See my feet??

zhump!

zjump!

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

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


I'm not going back

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

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

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

"I'm not going back."

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

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

day 2 of incan trail

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

Machu Picchu


Startup Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We would come in 1st place for our category:

startup weekend east bay number app

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

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

Takeaways

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

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

Here's to your next chapter.

Paul

the-next-chapter


Why I write

I received that text from a good friend earlier today.

I'll have more lessons to share after this 30 day blogging challenge is complete. Listen to Seth Godin and Tom Peters talk about blogging (or writing):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4rq6Md3eHw

I believe everyone would benefit from writing, journaling, scribbling, having a diary, or whatever you wanna call it. There's some nuggets of wisdom inside everyone (some chicken nuggets, as well).

Tools

I use a writing journal when I'm feeling really pensive. It feels good to physically write things down, and I love the feel of the paper. I use a Sharpie felt tip pen because it just glides over the page, and gives me the precision I need. Here's the journal I use:

the journal I use

You can find a similar one at Barnes & Noble. They carry a good variety of journal styles, Moleskins, and other writing tools.

Here's a sample of what I write:

what I writeI use my journal to list projects, an outline for a post, some reflections from the day, brainstorm sessions, have by-myself meetings, or a desperate attempt to get some order back into my world.

On my Mac, I use Omnioutliner for outlines, Pages, Scrivener, but mostly I enjoy writing in Wordpress.

If you're not writing, I hope this post inspires you to write. You learn so much about the world, and most of all, yourself.

Paul