Bringing Your Meditative State Into The Real World

Published September 15, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

As I stood in the middle of a gurgling river in Woodstock, New York, I watched the light dance in the ripples and reflect the green of the leaves fluttering around me. I reflected on how beautiful this was. Then my thoughts slowed down until I wasn’t existing much at all…

… and then it was time to step through mossy rocks to the riverbank.

“Walking back to dry land can be just as much a meditation as doing your stances. It can be just as blessed,” I thought.

At first, I figured I’d put this into practice merely by keeping my mind serene.

Little did a realize the challenge I’d dive into.

Once I reached the edge of the river, I saw my friends sitting down to scrape the bits of sand off their wet feet, before pulling their socks on.

“I don’t want to get sand on my feet! I’ll just put my socks and shoes on without stepping on the sand,” I thought.

Then my grade-school physics caught up with me and I realized that was impossible unless I could grab my socks and shoes while still in the water and perform some serious balancing… or get everything very wet.

“Well, let’s find out how useful this meditation training has been,” I thought.

I approached the bank’s edge. My socks and shoes were just a couple feet away. I reached down and grabbed one of the socks.

A couple people started watching.

I eased my right foot out of the water, balancing my left foot on the slick pebbles. After letting the river water drip off my toes, I swabbed my foot with my sock.

More people started watching. My mentor sat just a few feet away, silently encouraging me.

I bent my left knee some more, crouching down… and drew my sock over my wet toes. There was no turning back now. If I lost my balance, I’d plunge my sock into the river. Or tumble over completely and make quiet the splash.

I paused as my body wavered and I let myself find my natural balancing zero-point. When I was ready, I continued pulling. Over my arch. Past my heel. Almost there but I didn’t lose focus. No speeding up.

I got my sock on. But it wasn’t over. As I balanced on my left foot, I leaned forward, reached for my shoe, grabbed it, and stood straight again. Then, I crouched all over again to slip my shoe on.


I went through the same process with the other foot, finding it easier. Then, I stepped fully onto land.

“Great job!” my mentor said.

A common problem with meditators is that, while they can achieve tranquil states sitting alone in their home, they still get rattled when working or dealing with other people.

Here are two practices I’ve found helpful to change this:

  1. Practice quieting your mind and other meditative techniques, when engaged in situations you think of as non-meditative.

For instance, most people wouldn’t think of a workout like lifting weights or HIIT as a time for Zen. Yet, I’ve found it’s possible to meditate while sprinting up stairs and while stepping back down. Doing so helps push you through mental pain and enhances your ability to stay in a centered state… even when not in centered circumstances.

  1. When you get rattled in an argument or when overwhelmed at work, call yourself out… but don’t beat yourself up.

If you pile guilt on yourself for not always being perfectly poised, you’re pushing yourself to behave the same way in the future, over and over again.

Instead, congratulate yourself for noticing. Feel good for spotting your error. The more you do this, the faster you’ll notice. Eventually, you’ll notice as soon as it’s happening. And here’s the secret:

Once you notice yourself getting rattled, you’re empowered to change.

Same with overwhelm, anger, and fear. Changing gears isn’t easy. But once you’re aware of the gears shifting, you’re in a better position to influence them. Then, you progress towards living life as a moving meditation. Put another way, you’re recognizing life as a moving meditation.

Your IQ, Distracting Emails, Marijuana, and Media Bullshit

Published August 24, 2018 in The Wacky Web - 0 Comments

A little after sunset, as I walked towards downtown Denver, I mulled over something I’d just read.

Earlier, I had been rummaging through the internet on a fact-finding mission. During the clicks through article after article, I had stumbled upon some information about a study measuring distraction during work.

From what I remembered, if your computer screen signals an unread email, it will distract you enough to effectively lower your IQ 10 points. Or something like that.

As I passed Colfax Ave, I imagined visiting a friend of mine, whose computer monitor is saturated with notifications. At the bottom of the screen, there’s even a row of the most popular messenger apps, like some sort of police lineup.

One is a little yellow dude who bounces up and down when an unread message awaits the user.

It actually bounces up and down! And still haunts me to this day.

“That right there… is lowering your IQ 10 points!” I’d declare, while pointing a finger at the jumping figure.

As I walked, I figured I couldn’t visit his office anytime soon. But I could write a blog post about it!

So I sauntered home and searched online for the original research, prepping to publish this pithy post.

Within a few minutes, I discovered this was yet another example of the eyeball-strumpet media jumping on a tiny study and outright lying about it.

According to some of the largest online media toilets, in 80 (!) clinical trials, “… the IQ of workers who tried to juggle e-mail messages and other work fell by 10 points – more than double the four-point fall seen after smoking pot, and about equal to missing a full night’s sleep.”

Lies. All lies that got passed around like a bong.

Here’s the real account straight from Dr. Glenn Wilson, who supervised the study (once you’re on that page, click on the link within the phrase “Infomania experiment for HP”).

It was a pilot study involving a grand total of 8 people… and no marijuana (next time, maybe?).

But it still indicates an environment of incoming calls and emails can distract you enough to temporarily lower your score on an IQ-like test. Even without 80 clinical trials supporting this idea, I believe the gist is true.

Something worth pondering if you’ve got an email tab open while you work. Or the next time you read a news headline you think isn’t bullshit.

How I Start My Day With $1,000,000 Copy Already Written

Published August 19, 2018 in Copywriting - 0 Comments

A few days ago, Early To Rise published my article on how I start my day with million-dollar copy already written.

Of course, I had to throw in a story about me scrambling through Manhattan to catch a train. But it all ties together.

If you’re thinking of starting a career as a writer… or if you’re frustrated with lack of consistency… definitely check out the above. This article alone, might turn things around for you.

Secrets Of The Highest-Rated Coffee Shop In Denver Area

Published August 17, 2018 in Marketing - 0 Comments

As I type this, I’m sipping a cold brew coffee inside what used to be a charming house.

Now, it’s a charming business. After starting just three years ago, QuinceEssential Coffee House is now one of the highest-rated coffee shops in the Denver area.

With 304 reviews averaging a 4.9 rating, it might be THE highest-rated.

What makes it so special?

An edgy advertising campaign?

Doubt it. Ink! Coffee tried that. Check out their Google reviews.

Lower prices?

No – you could save money by getting coffee at a gas station or McDonalds. Or just brew it at home.

Efficient, high-tech service?

The lines aren’t long, but there’s nothing unusual about how they take orders. In fact, their system is downright luddite compared to other stores. If you want to use their reward program, you can’t just give them your name. No computer holds your data.

Instead, you must pull open a little drawer and search through hundreds of cards – like an old-fashioned library catalog.

(I take a small amount of pride in being old enough to have used the old library catalog card system. Yeah, with the actual cards!)

Okay, so what makes this place so loved?

A combination of things.

  1. The owner is kind. She was working the register when I visited for the first time, and she introduced herself. Even though she must have seen thousands of customers, she remembered my girlfriend when I mentioned her as the person who referred me. All the staff are nice, as well.


  1. The atmosphere is perfect for a dedicated coffee shop-goer. All the former living rooms, dining rooms, and downstairs bedrooms are arranged with tables and chairs for working. Cute artwork adorns the walls. They have plenty of lawn furniture you can use for outdoor sipping and extension cords for plugged-in working. In the glowing reviews, you’ll see the word “quaint” used over and over. Big clue as to what people look for in a coffee shop… and a neat way to find out what people want in any category (by reading reviews).

Weird flying skeleton looms over me, making sure I keep working.

  1. They have WIFI and even a printer.

They do everything people want a coffee shop to do, and they do a darn good job. As a result, they’re rewarded with great reviews and loyal customers.

This is an example of advertising media becoming obsolete, in a certain niche.

This situation is becoming more and more common.

Consider the last few times you’ve chosen a restaurant.

Did you respond to a radio ad?

Maybe something on TV… or the newspaper?

If I had to bet, I’d say you looked up local eateries on Google or Yelp and sorted through highly-rated listings.

By using this elegant system, you can get matched with a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with darn good food. It might not do a lick of paid advertising. It might not be supported by a national franchisor. And yet, if the rating’s high and the menu looks appealing, you’ll scramble to make a reservation.

Not only that, but when you arrive to dine, you’ll waltz past a competing restaurant… even if it spent $100,000 this year on ads in local magazines, billboards, and paid people to hand out flyers.

It won’t even register in your brain.

Now, advertising media becoming obsolete is still rare, in the business arena.

Chances are, the world will NOT beat a path to your door, if you build a better mousetrap (check out the book How To Fly A Horse to discover how the cliched “better mousetrap” quote has been mangled for decades).

In most markets, you must still design, execute, and refine a strategic advertising campaign, to build some momentum – even if you provide the best products or services.

On the other hand, if you’re a…

  • Restaurant owner
  • Chiropractor
  • Coffee shop owner

… or the owner of any kind of business where potential customers simply choose among the local options…

… then your best marketing is doing a darn good job and making sure people give you reviews. If you’re like QuinceEssential Coffee House, you could get 304 reviews, a 4.9 rating, and all the business you can handle.

You’ve Got Healthy Habits? Good. Now Break Them.

Published August 9, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments



For several years, I put one hour and fifteen seconds on a timer, pressed the Start button, and performed a daily meditation. I kept going until the timer rang.

Pushing myself to this level transformed my body, mind, and spirit. In no small part, because of the discipline I cultivated.

However, as the years went on, I abandoned the timer. Because it was just a fancy dressing for the real foundation – the meditation itself.

When I was dead broke in 2011 and recovering from a drunken debt binge, I started saving 10% of my weekly pay.

This 10% savings took priority over paying my rent. And buying food. And taking care of bills.

When my financial life transformed a couple years later, I relaxed my savings rule.

Same deal with writing. I used to commit myself to three, four, five, and then eventually six writing sessions lasting 33 minutes and 33 seconds each. Daily. Or maybe seven sessions. I forget.

Then, I cut back on using the timer, because I didn’t need it.

When you’re integrating a new practice in your life, prioritize daily discipline.

If you want to get in shape, exercise every single day. Time yourself. Record what you do.

If you’re a writer, then write every single day. For a specific amount of time or for a certain number of words. Or both.

If you want to pull your financial life together, save a certain amount of money every week. Put it in a special savings account.

However, when the habit is fully integrated into your being, don’t let your original standards handcuff you.

Take a day off from your workouts, when your body needs the recovery. Relax from writing when your creative juices need replenishing. Spend the damn money.


Double your workout intensity. Spend the entire day writing. Save half your income.

A contradiction? Didn’t I just say you can eventually relax your discipline?

There’s a subtle distinction here…

You’re not throwing out the discipline or the habit. You’re freeing yourself from the rigid scheduling you needed, to integrate that habit.

Think of a bridge getting repaired. During the repairs, it needs extra support, which can be done with bridge jacking or bridge shoring. Once the repairs are done, the extra support is removed.

At a certain point, you might not need the extra support, either. When you embody the power behind the habit, you will know what’s best for you at any given moment. It could be less… or more.

This is the stage beyond learning discipline. It’s beyond binding yourself to healthy habits. When you integrate them, you can break the mold and harness the true power you’ve developed.

Don’t Feed The Monster – The Truth About Risk-Taking

Published July 5, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

Over seven years ago, I stared at my laptop screen, emitting a sound like “Aaauuughhh…”

Then I slid off my rolling chair, eased onto my apartment’s tan carpet floor, and curled into the fetal position.

It wasn’t because of a heart attack. Or receiving a disturbing email from a family member.

Instead, I had just gotten home and looked up the day’s profits from my advertising campaign. The one I’d prepared for months. The one I’d spent two weeks’ worth of pay on. At the time, I struggled to afford my rent and food. I needed that money.

Let’s rewind a few months…

In the fall of 2010, I hired a contractor to help me with an advertising campaign.

“I’m not as experienced buying ads as I am in copywriting, so I’ll work with someone,” I thought.

Smart business strategy?

Sometimes, yes. But in this case, I was scared. So instead of plowing through my fear, I threw money at the monster to placate it. Good idea? Bad? Let’s see…

The contractor charged into the project. Then he asked for more money. I clicked the PayPal button. He asked for more. I loved clicking the PayPal button. Every time, I felt a jolt of emotional relief, like applying a salve to an aching joint. That’s how I pretended to move the project forward without confronting the fear.

Every time I clicked that button, a subtle undercurrent of doubt flowed along with the relief…

Then the ad went out. After a long day at work, I scrambled home to see the results. The subtle doubt turned into panic as I stared at my computer screen. I realized I had flushed thousands of dollars and many weeks down the drain.

The contractor disappeared.

Since then, I’ve thought about that experience, to explore what lessons I could extract.

Here’s a common refrain: “You have to take risks to be successful.”

True. But you don’t have to take massive financial risks.

Many unsuccessful people back themselves into risking too much money.


Because they’re trying to replace emotional risk. They’re trying to quell fear and self-doubt instead of conquer them.

For instance, someone comes up with a product idea. He knows it will be a bestseller. So he creates a company… hires someone to design a brand… recruits a marketing team… places a large order with a manufacturer… all while staying in a safe emotional bubble…

… without ever walking up to just one person and trying to sell just one of his products.

Because that’s scary. It’s an emotional risk. Better to throw dollars at the monster, right?

Then, the product fails to sell. He goes bankrupt.

The monster’s hunger always wins.

You can’t bargain with fear. You can’t bribe it away.

The worst part is when the aspiring business owner becomes bitter. He blames luck. He blames… risk-taking.

Is he right?

Well, let’s see…

After the advertising failed to attract any customers, I could have claimed the contractor screwed me over. Or that I didn’t have enough money to take so many risks. Or that I couldn’t grow my business without venture capital.

Instead, I let out a sigh… and admitted I was scared. Instead of plowing through that fear head-on… instead of learning advertising strategies myself… I threw money at the monster. I risked money instead.

It felt so good to click that PayPal button. But the monster got hungrier…

Don’t replace emotional risk with financial risk.

Don’t throw money at fear.

Also… don’t get me wrong – hiring expert contractors can be a wonderful thing.

Today, I do zero advertising myself. The key difference is, I’m not patching over an emotional risk with a financial one. No more feeding the monster. Instead, I’m making an objective choice.

Are you spending money because you’re worried about doing something? Are you desperate to avoid its emotional pain?

If you’re farming out salesmanship because it scares you…

If you’re buying any kind of course promising “done-for-you” results…

If you’re partnering up with someone before you confirm it’s absolutely necessary…

Then, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, “… you might be replacing an emotional risk with a financial one.” You might be feeding the monster.

Face the pain or fear instead. Learn how to sell. Study and practice the new skill you need rather than forking over big bucks to someone else.

If you lose? What did you lose? Some time? Some peace of mind? Maybe. But you learned plenty – without spending a damn thing. Plus, you trained yourself to spend money only from a centered place.

Wear a seatbelt. Wear a condom – or insist on one. Those are positive examples of reducing risk. But don’t try to bribe fear to reduce emotional risk. Don’t feed the monster. It’ll grow hungrier.

Six-Year Promise Fulfilled: Losing A Mercedes-Benz Key At Rooney Road Trailhead

Published June 8, 2018 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“Damn I can see why this kicked my ass six years ago.”

Less than an hour before this revelation, I strode from my apartment to Broadway street and unlocked a Mercedes-Benz I’d reserved.

For the past few weeks, I had been enjoying the service Car2Go. They have a fleet of cars parked throughout Denver. If you want to drive one, whether for a few minutes or a couple days, you click a few buttons on their app and you’re in.

We didn’t get the flying cars promised in Back To The Future Part II but this is a fine consolation prize. It tickles me to no end that I can waltz down the street, hop in a car, pick up a wonderful companion, and zip up to the mountains…

… and that’s exactly how I’d been using the cars.

Today, I was going alone – on a special mission.

You could say it was a reunion.

Between six and seven years ago, I made a weekly journey to Rooney Road Trailhead. Once there, I selected one of the small but steep hills just off the trail and sprinted up.

It kicked my ass.

The first couple visits ended with me collapsed on the grass, staring up at the clouds, trying to catch my breath.

The sprints gave me a bit of grounding as I stumbled through my life, barely conscious and barreling towards a bankruptcy.

Then I got the gig as a sign-spinner. Because I’d be on my feet outside for almost 40 hours per week, I figured it was probably a good time to take a break from sprints.

Just before beginning my job, I took one last trip to the hill. While savoring everything, I thought about my eventual return. For some reason, I decided to vow I’d be financially successful before coming back to sprint again. What did that mean? I batted around incomes like $5000 per month or $10,000 per month. Really, I just wanted more money to flow in than out, as consistent as a river, living the life I wanted while doing what I loved to do.

“I’ll return…” I said to the hill six years ago.

Then I battled through the cold months of winter as I began my new job…

Through a season of oppressive summer heat…

A whole year flew by…

Then two…

Every now and then, I imagined returning to that hill.

Three years…

The business closed and I jumped into a new job as a truck loader. Back-breaking. I scrambled for a way out.

Several months later, I caught my lifeline… and bear-hugged it and climbed it as fast as I could.

I moved to Baltimore for a year and a half.

Then I returned to Denver. Still thinking about that hill. But even though I’d fulfilled my requirements and could officially return, I still didn’t go. On the surface, I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of venturing to Rooney Road Trailhead without a car of my own. But maybe things had to align at a deeper level?

Who knows. Another two years passed.

Then, finally, after starting a wonderful relationship and figuring I could use this nifty car rental service, I returned to the hill.

Six years. I was surprised to see some changes. Some tents were set up for a dirt bike place or something across the street. “Isn’t that crazy? In six years they managed to put up a tent! How things change!” I chided myself.

But the hills were the same.

I walked off trail, watching the grass ripple in the wind like gentle waves on a lake.

Everything shimmered a lush green.

I found my hill.

Said to it, “It’s been four years. No, wait, six years. Wow, six years! And I did just what I said I would. Even better, in fact. It’s so good to be back. Six years is a blink of an eye for you. But I’m honored to be part of the blink.”

As I dug in, preparing to blast off, I said, “It’s amazing what happened in those six years. I’m going to enjoy what the next six years bring. I’m enjoying… right now.”

With that, I charged up the hill. And remembered why it kicked my ass so much.

“Hmmm, maybe this wasn’t the particular slope I sprinted up.”

At the top, I walked to another section and eased back down. Yeah, that seemed more like it. So I sprinted up that part four times – adding a rep compared to six years ago. And I didn’t have to collapse in a heap, at the top. Progress!

As I stepped through the grass back to my car, I spotted a reminder that my life’s just a blink for the hill:

And said hi to a friend who wished me well:

Then I got back to my rented car, reached into my pocket… and discovered the key was missing.

“Ah. It probably fell out of my pants as I sprinted. I’ll just retrace my steps,” I thought.

Funny, because earlier I’d checked my pants a couple times to make sure they were still there. But I realized my mistake – I was probably feeling just my apartment keys.

Six years previous, I made a habit of putting all my stuff into a bag and leaving it at the bottom of the hill. Good idea. And I usually ran in shorts with zippers. Another good idea… for next time.

I returned to the hill… and couldn’t quite figure out the path I took. And there were technically two. “Was it over here? Yeah that looks familiar. Well, let’s just dive in.”

For almost an hour and a half in the 90-degree heat and Colorado sun, I paced up and down the hill, repeating, “I’m finding my key.”

At no point did I feel angry, frustrated, worried, or any other negative emotion. Mostly, while peering around the ground, I thought about how I preferred losing the fob compared to my phone or wallet. Or hurting myself. Or a snake biting me. All in all, a good day. I even called Car2Go to see if they could make the fob beep.

While doing this, I pondered: Could I be unfailingly polite on the phone, even in this situation? Other than the tiniest bit of frustration when the wind broke up our call – which meant only that I lost my sense of humor for a moment – I succeeded. The company was apologetic about my situation. But hey, I lost the key.

The dull dryness of growing sunburns creeped around my arms and neck. Even after a brief meditation to get me in the flow, the key was nowhere to be found. It felt right to end the search, so I grabbed an Uber home. Car2Go would have to charge me for a new fob and the tow.

“If a problem can be solved by money, it’s not a problem,” I thought.

Would I have dealt with this situation the same way, six years ago?


Just a couple days before, I’d gone to the Mimosa Mastermind in Scottsdale. Both to learn how to build an affiliate marketing program and to teach copywriting. During the trip, I had felt upgraded on a spiritual level.

After losing the key fob, I mused how those upgrades almost always involve pain. Whether earth-shattering or little annoyances. So I was glad to say, “See universe? I lost the key fob but I still feel great! Neener neener!” and do a fun little dance.

Perhaps I was meant to visit the hill and lose that key. Just as I returned to fulfill a promise, the universe lobbed me a little test to see if I were ready for more. Perhaps I knocked it out of the park.

I’m going to enjoy the next six years. I’m enjoying… right now.

The Discouragement Cure

Published May 28, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

As I eased down the 14 flights of stairs in between reps of sprints, I found myself pondering a certain word.

A few days before, a friend told me she noticed discouragement creeping into me and she wanted to help stop that. Her phone call worked – a few minutes after we talked, I felt renewed energy surging through me.

I mulled over the word discouragement as I covered the last few flights of stairs down, before I whipped around to race back up.

Dis-courage. I’ve always liked the definition of courage as plowing through your fear, rather than the absence of fear. And doing so in the face of uncertain results and potential failure.

So, what’s discouragement?

Losing that momentum and breaking your contract with yourself.

The potential reward that inspired your courage, still exists. So are the risks and the ways to fail.

When you chose courage, you accepted those odds and decided to plow forward anyhow.

Discouragement is changing your mind when nothing else has changed except your level of pain.

By digging into the word, I put together the remedy for that state of being.

When you’re feeling discouraged, look at your situation and ask, “What has changed? The reward? The danger? The risk?”

Chances are, it’s none of the above. You’re in the thick of your task and your growth and it hurts. But pausing like this to clarify your perspective can put the pain in its place. Then, you can rekindle the courage you need to keep moving forward.

Funny note to end on: I wrote the first draft for this short article several weeks ago. Since then, the part of my life causing me to feel discouraged, completely turned around. Just as my friend said it would.

How 10,000 Hours Of Deliberate Practice Can Still Fail

Published May 11, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“I’m going to help you stay motivated to practice, so you can succeed.”

“But I’m already motivated. And practicing. But it’s not getting me the result I want.”

“Ummm… hmmm…”

In the book Peak, the authors reveal the results of their research on athletes, musicians, and a couple guys who developed the ability to memorize really, really long strings of digits.

The authors’ goal was to discover what makes people great. What makes people masters of a certain ability. And the best way for everyone else to get there. Like playing the violin like a master. Or performing a prostatectomy without any cancer reoccurrence.

The author’s research was Malcom Gladwell’s inspiration for the now famous “10,000” rule.

Peak, however, reveals how the rule has been misinterpreted. First of all, the 10,000-hour number comes from the average amount of practice time expert violinists performed by age 20. Some had done more – some less. And this was simply by a certain age. It didn’t automatically bestow them expert status.

Plus, the research revealed simple practice was not enough. It had to be what the authors call deliberate practice. This involves consistently pushing yourself beyond the edge of your abilities, so your brain and body adapt, while getting useful feedback. For example, studying the chess matches of grandmasters and attempting to predict their moves, and studying why they did what they did, while under the watchful eye of a qualified teacher, is deliberate practice. Playing tournament chess, is not. Pushing yourself to play the banjo faster is deliberate practice. Playing a tune (diddy?) you’re already comfortable with in a concert, is not.

Not so simple and sexy as 10,000 hours, is it?

The book goes into more detail…

… but it’s still missing something.

One of the most prominent case studies, is a college-aged man who practices memorizing digits. The author read him a single digit per second, until finished. Then, the man repeated the whole string. The average person might be able to handle eight digits, which falls within our short-term memory. Through practice, however, the man was able to memorize and repeat back 82 digits flawlessly.

Peak briefly mentions how the researchers chose an athlete, assuming he’d have a natural propensity to push through a challenge. Later in the book, the authors dabble into motivation again, mentioning its importance for practice. They briefly cover setting aside time in your schedule, accountability within a group, and the drive to look good in front of others.

It’s a shallow treatment compared to their thorough studies of deliberate practice.

And that’s what I think is missing.

We now have a very clear picture of what someone must do to succeed, if they’re already psychologically, emotionally, and – dare I say – spiritually aligned with what they want to achieve. Researchers found key differences between good, expert, and world-class musicians. They got a very clear picture of… let’s call it… “the second half of the story.” These men and women have already proven they can identify and overcome their weaknesses. But what about the first half of the story? What if someone wants to learn a new skill, but has impediments that are not solved by working on the skill itself?

For example, perhaps someone wants to become an expert investor. They’d like to use deliberate practice to improve their craft, but are unknowingly dealing with a psychological self-destruct mechanism, put in place by an alcoholic mom who spent every penny of the family’s money.

Or someone who’s trying to attract the opposite sex, but whose parents felt only contempt for each other, and never spoke. This person could spend 10,000 hours in a bar with the guidance of a successful friend, but still never overcome the programming that’s doing the damage.

In both cases, it’s like someone spending 10,000 hours trying to clean up a spill, without plugging the broken pipe that’s causing the mess in the first place.

Something else is required, where the prospective expert needs to reach back, to realign what is internally out of whack, while progressing with the deliberate practice. And this work is more vital in the more important areas of life. The parts that, if not mastered, cause the most pain.

What do you care about more? Loving relationships with other people, or memorizing digits? Which has more potential for emotional and psychological hang-ups?

If therapeutic work combined with deliberate practice, we could have a complete system for helping someone become a master. And they don’t even have to start as average. Their life could be in psychological and emotional shambles. If something could help them become ready to benefit from deliberate practice, it wouldn’t just be life-changing, but life-saving.

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