What Makes Your Task A Joy Or Torture

Published February 19, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“How many trucks are you guys going to unload before lunch today?!”

My co-worker and I shrugged our shoulders, as we grabbed dirty floor mats from the trailer. Ted, our boss, flashed an impish smile before walking away. He was thrilled with how much we were busting our asses.

This was circa 2014, when I unloaded trucks for a living. Every afternoon, 12 of the monsters lurched into the commercial laundry facility, pregnant with thousands of pounds of dirty pants, shirts, floor mats, and other assorted grimy stuff. The two of us unloaded them all, one by one. Then, we finished our shift with a huge trailer from Fort Collins. That required a forklift.

We threw almost everything into giant baskets that ended up weighing over 250 pounds, and sent them through a complicated conveyor system.

Some of the laundry was so nasty, we threw up as we handled it.

One truck contained clothes from a spice factory. That stuff smelled nice.

Most two-man teams could unload six or seven trucks before the first, and usually only, break.

My co-worker and I set records. One day, we managed to unload ten trucks before the “lunch break” at 6PM.

Before working that job, if you had told me the mass of stuff two people were required to move, and the time-period they had to get it done by… I would have sworn the task wasn’t humanly possible.

That job expanded my beliefs, for the human body’s capabilities.

Just yesterday I was reminded of this. While enjoying the Sky Lounge at my new apartment, I watched gym goers next door, march up and down the parking lot while carrying kettlebells. Then, I looked one block over, where a new building was under construction. There, workers hauled all kinds of metal and wood back and forth. Huh. On one side, people were paying good money to drag heavy stuff around, for their health. On the other side, people were getting paid money to drag even heavier stuff around, because that’s their job. What if the gym goers could volunteer to help the construction for an hour? I guess the local GDP would slip a bit.

Anyway. While unloading trucks, I learned what can make your daily task a joy… or torture. Here goes:

  1. Sleep. If you get a good night’s sleep, you’re a full battery that may or may not require food. If you lose out on quality sleep, you drag ass. This spirals downward into a miserable day. Your head hurts. Your body’s weak. You stress about how much everything sucks.
  2. Coffee. There’s a reason I put this 2nd, instead of 1st. If your sleep sucked, then coffee will trick you into getting near normal, but not quite. Millions of people think it’s normal to trudge through their life like this. On the other hand, if you get good sleep and add coffee to the mix… you’re closer to, as Sgt. Blain Cooper put it, “a goddamned sexual tyrannosaurus.” Or just a regular tyrannosaurus.
  3. Peeps. When you’re surrounded with good peeps, it’s a fun upward spiral. You help each other. You’re in the flow. You enjoy the synergy. But when you’re stuck with bad peeps, it’s like gears grinding and wearing out. Energy drains from your body.
  4. The future. Friday’s were a joy, because our three-day weekend was on the horizon. That energized us to overlook the pain and finish faster. But your vision of the future can also be quite the hot potato, if you mishandle it. If we began unloading the first truck and thought about truck number two… three… four… five… that drained our energy. Keep a firm grasp on your distant vision. But save your dwelling mind for the next immediate step.
  5. Meaning. When I worked the mat-folding shifts, I emptied a basket the size of a Subaru… only to see two more full ones wheeled in. That’s when I realized why poor Sisyphus experienced the worst hell, when he pushed that boulder up the hill, only for it to come crashing back down, ad infinitum. When I fixated on how there would always be more freshly-washed mats to fold, a little speck of despair crept into my work. I would have been better off focusing on how I was helping businesses around Denver, display nice, clean mats for customers entering their domains.
  6. Competency. When I switched to another position in the company – a big mistake – I realized it’s crucial to feel like you’re good at what you do, or you can at least grasp it and improve. If you feel hopeless at your job, you get scared and feel like a loser.
  7. Food. I had to figure out how to consume maximum calories with nutritional value, for the least amount of money. Bad digestion meant dragging ass.

When I pondered this list a few years ago, I realized none of these items required a fancy position, or degree, or even much luck. I also realized that, if I ever had a job that prevented me from the positive side of this list (like a company with bad peeps), I’d quit. Because even a pay cut, or harder work, was worth the joy of good sleep, coffee, peeps, a future, meaning, competency, and enough food to keep me going. They’re worth more than anything, so it’d be insane not to prioritize them.

The Absolute Best Showerhead In Existence

Published February 13, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

From the Seinfeld episode “The Shower Head”

Kramer, Newman and a ‘salesman’ are at the back of a van in an alley.

Salesman: All right, I got everything here. I got the Cyclone F series, Hydra Jet Flow, Stockholm Superstream, you name it.

Jerry: What do you recommend?

Salesman: What are you looking for?

Kramer: Power, man. Power.

Newman: Like Silkwood.

Kramer: That’s for radiation.

Newman: That’s right.

For close to 15 years, this scene wasn’t funny for me at all. Because the Seinfeld episode – where Jerry, Kramer, and Newman suffer from pathetic low-flow showers – hit too close to home.

When I lived in my childhood home, I was spoiled. I didn’t think twice about the quality of our showerhead.

My wake-up call began in college. The dorm showers provided a pitiful amount of pressure. But I didn’t pay much heed – no appliances were top-tier in the building.

Then, when I lived in Florida and later Colorado, I realized the bitter truth:

Most showers suck.

It’s not just limp pressure. The designs are lousy. Even with showerheads that offer your choice of setting. Water can hit you with a needle-like singular spurt. No thanks. Or drizzle on you from a ring, like you were planted in a delicate flower garden.

My frustration grew because I knew a real shower’s potential. Where water sprayed you so evenly, over such a wide surface area, that it felt like a dense fog was pushing you. Instead of raining down on you, the water enveloped and danced over your skin. Like a blanket of mist.

I ordered fancy showerheads from Amazon. 5-star reviews gushed how great they were.

Meh. They never quite lived up.

What surprised me most, was my childhood home’s unassuming shower nozzle. It didn’t flare out to the size of a dinner plate. Instead of seven different spray settings, it featured only a button to cut off the flow.

Sometimes, I’d try to convince myself I was idealizing the past. Until I visited home and its spray greeted me like a warm blanket, fresh from the dryer.

I’d never experienced anything like it elsewhere… except… a cross-country trip when I stayed at a Super 8. Much to my shock, they somehow almost captured the essence. But that was only a fleeting caress…

For almost 15 years, I wondered. And searched.

Until, during a visit home for Thanksgiving, I asked my mom where she got that showerhead. Within mere minutes, she showed me a link to a local hardware store’s website.

I purchased one. A few days after I returned home, it arrived in the mail. For some reason, I hesitated to make the switch. Maybe I didn’t want to face more disappointment. But, after moving apartments and bringing the new showerhead with me, I knew it was time.

As soon as I screwed it in place, turned the water on, and stuck my hand into the blast… I knew I’d finally found it.

Since then, instead of languishing in a cold, damp room while tolerating a small section of my body getting rinsed with water… I’m transported into a vibrant vortex of cleansing mist.

All from a humble showerhead. Here it is:

The Absolute Best Showerhead In Existence.

Why Taking A Break To Check Facebook Keeps You Weak

Published February 4, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“I was scrolling through my Facebook feed…”

After my friend saw the look on my face, he followed up with, “I know… I know. But the thing is, it’s not like I’m just using Facebook all day. Actually, it’s more a form of recuperation. See, after I dived deep and did a bunch of work, I took a break. Caught up on what some friends were up to. Saw some stupid shit posted. It’s how I unwind my brain.”

Yeah, except that’s not what’s actually happening.

I understand the idea. There is a chain of logic.

Someone puts in a half hour of tough work. Okay, fine, we’ll pretend it’s an hour (are you timing yourself? I bet it’s not an hour). Then, when they begin to feel restless and a little burned out, they “take a break” by switching to the mindless puke river on Facebook.

This gives them some relief. And, after an hour (okay, fine, we’ll pretend it’s only a few minutes… you’re timing, right?) they switch back to work again.

But here’s the thing…

That’s not what’s actually happening. Internally, anyway.

You’re not giving yourself a break from burnout.

Instead, when you’ve worked with focus for half an hour, you begin inching towards the edge of your comfort zone. Your brain begins to balk at the intensity of the work. It begins to send signals of mental pain and anguish.

From here, you make a few choices.

First, you choose how to interpret those signals. Virtually all people give them a bad interpretation. They need a break!

Then, you choose what to do about it. Virtually all people give in to the Siren song of Facebook, and crash themselves on its shore.

Here’s the problem:

When you begin to feel “burnout” during some intense work, and you’re tripping towards the edge of your comfort zone, and you feel mental pain… this isn’t necessarily a danger to avoid or soothe away. Instead, it’s an opportunity to intensify your brain’s power to focus. It’s your chance to expand your comfort zone. And use both your new superpowers to build a healthier, more prosperous, more fulfilling life.

Think of it this way:

Let’s say you’re doing some bicep curls, to strengthen your arms. You’re capable of 10 repetitions with 50 pounds. As you lift the iron dumbbells over and over, the burning heats up in your muscles. By the 7th rep, you can’t ignore the searing pain. Then, during the 8th rep, as the intensity doubles… you drop the dumbbells to the floor and take a break.

“Whew, that was close!” you say. “I almost burned out! I’m glad I’m taking a break before I get back into it.”

You feel fine. And why shouldn’t you? You avoided pain, and you can claim you accomplished a workout…

… except you stopped right before the workout began to matter.* You saved yourself from going through the repetitions that would trigger your growth. Congratulations.

But, hey, you can say you’re balanced and productive.

 

 

*Exercise physiology enthusiasts can debate about what truly triggers maximal adaptation via growth – time under tension – volume – frequency – intensity – whether training to failure is good or bad… just go with the metaphor, instead.

Innocent Marketer Ordered Off Premises By Police During Interview

Published January 30, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“When the cop started knocking on my door, I knew I had to answer. They kicked me out of my room. I tried talking to the front desk, but the cop said, ‘NO. YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE PREMISES NOW.’”

That’s what David told me, when I called to find out what was going on.

Jeez, and I thought I had a frustrating time getting on the conference call.

A couple weeks earlier, David had asked to interview me about hooks in marketing and salescopy. We set a date and time.

A couple days before our interview, my apartment sent a notice that they’d be testing their siren system. They didn’t know when. But it could fall during our interview. Not exactly pleasant background noise. Even a 5% chance of the alarm blaring during our call, was unacceptable.

I found out I could lock myself in the club house’s theater room.

On the way down, the elevator lurched to a halt and I wondered if a cable would snap, rocketing me to the ground floor. I jumped out on the 1st floor. It was a premonition of things to come.

Two minutes into our call, my WIFI dropped. I called back in with my phone, breathing deep and making sure to enter all 50 or whatever digits to get back on the webinar line.

David admitted I wasn’t the only one having challenges. “I’m hosting this call from my hotel room and I asked the front desk if I could stay in my room a bit longer. They said I could, but I don’t think everyone knows. I’m getting knocks on the door.”

“Do you have the Do Not Disturb sign up? Worked for me in Vegas.”

Later, I’d find out how useless that suggestion was. But during the call, I noticed several times David disappeared for half a minute or so. I figured he had a bad connection.

After over an hour, David ended the call, his voice fading out so much that the final note of the interview was garbled noise tumbling into silence.

“Are you kidding me?” I thought.

So I called him, to find out what happened.

Turns out his connection wasn’t bad at all – at least not at first. He just muted his line, when the hotel staff began banging on his door, demanding he leave. He ignored them as best he could.

Then the cops showed up.

He didn’t ignore them. While keeping his phone close, David grabbed his things and tried reasoning with the police as they hustled him out the door. They wouldn’t even allow him to speak to the front desk.

I felt my brain re-wiring as I listened and realized how wrong my first impression was. There I was, feeling frustrated with how the call was going. And it turned out, David was holding his shit together while almost getting arrested.

Lessons learned:

  1. I realized that I could have been a little more patient. If I were to assess myself, I was over 90% there. But that still leaves an extra 10%. Refining how you conduct yourself is tricky in situations like this. When do you push forward? When do you allow? The further you shoot up the social strata, the trickier it gets. A go-to way to guide yourself, is monitor whether you’re getting upset, rattled, or annoyed… and whether you’re letting that get to you. If yes, work on yourself. If no, then you’ll have a much better grasp of what to do.
  2. I made a mental note to remember what happened, if I ever have trouble on a call and get frustrated. I can always remind myself that people have handled worse things. Like almost getting arrested. The only more disruptive events I can think of are getting robbed or attacked by a wild animal. I moved out of Baltimore, so I think I’m relatively safe from the first. I’ll just make sure to not take calls in the woods.
  3. You never… never… never know what’s going on behind the scenes or on the other end. You’re either making up your own facts, or interpreting a small percentage of the facts available. When David’s line kept cutting out, I figured it was a bad connection and nothing more. Which happens. But I would have felt completely different in the moment, if I had known he was juggling a phone, a laptop, and a police escort.
  4. On the call, we were discussing “hooks” for a sales message. I described how I always try to find the juiciest fact that can grab a reader’s attention, and bring that to the forefront of a sales message. In addition to that, I try to find something incongruent. Something weird. The story of a millionaire who was bankrupt. The heart health secret discovered in a dangerous explosive. Water that makes you older. Then… the call itself became life-imitating-art. When I talked with David afterwards, I told him that he now has a story he can tell for the next five decades. Every time he hosts a meeting, or speaks at an event, or even when he’s chatting with someone new… he can say he was almost handcuffed and thrown in jail for hosting a conference call about marketing. He found his personal hook. “Nothing bad happens to a writer,” I said on the call – and I repeated that to him.

“Dude, I’m jealous!” I said.

“You can reference me!” he replied.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

You don’t have to be a writer, to transform challenges into a story.

You can be someone interviewing for a job. Or going on a date. Or teaching something to your children.

What embarrassed you in the past? What caused you pain? What do you want to push away, not talk about, and hide from?

Bust it out, instead. Because, just like fears dissolving when you confront them, a painful past can become a positive force in your life, if you’re proud to share it. I hope David is.

Subtle Scars

Published January 19, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

As I raced along the side of the road, I heard the rumbling of the massive engine behind me. Little did I realize that I was moments away from receiving an open, bleeding wound.

I tried look inconspicuous. As though I weren’t in any hurry at all.

But in truth, I was 100% focused on beating that machine.

Specifically, the school bus.

Every weekday afternoon during my first two years of high school, my routine was the same. The bus dropped a few of us off at the three-way intersection at the end of Meadow Road.

Then, as we walked our separate ways, the bus began the cautious routine of backing up… lurching forward… and turning around to speed off, from whence it came.

Meanwhile, my house stood 100 yards away. My feet weren’t as swift as a vehicle on wheels. But I had the head-start. I considered it a race. With an unspoken rule: I couldn’t actually look like I was racing. No, I had to appear aloof and above it all. “Oh, did I beat the bus to my house? Funny how it just happens like that…”

So, that afternoon, I power-walked along the road, monitoring the rumbling behind me. I knew that, as soon as the engine’s shrill picked up to a fever pitch, I’d lost. The bus would blast straight past me, and charge up the hill to victory.

But that day, it sounded farther behind than usual.

I scampered onto my driveway, and then up my steps.

The shrilling began reverberating behind me. Too late for me to win? No, not if I hurried.

Up four more steps. I grabbed the screen door handle, flung it ope…

*Thwack!*

What? Oh.

As I realized I yanked the metal edge of the door straight into the right side of my forehead, the bus roared behind me. I pretended it was business as usual… figuring that at a distance, nobody would realize what I’d done.

But I knew, so I rushed inside, and into the bathroom, to survey the damage.

The pooling blood, and dangling skin, confirmed I’d given myself a minor scalp injury.

Whoops.

So, the wound didn’t come from the bus…

… but my own stupidity, curtesy the misuse of a screen door.

After a brief reminder of the human body’s fragility – and washing myself off – I applied a band-aid. The next morning, even though I didn’t need it, I put on another band-aid. I figured that’d look better than a weird head scab. I don’t remember anyone asking me about it.

About 15 years later, there’s still a subtle scar.

This afternoon, when I looked in the mirror at the Denver International Airport, just before a flight to San Jose, I was reminded of its existence.  Not my first head scar either. The earliest – and far more noticeable – is directly over my Third Eye. Story for another time.

Until then, here are a few lessons I got reminded of, while looking into that mirror.

  1. Nothing bad happens to a writer.

Nothing bad happens to a creator. Every little – or not so little – ding and dent help shapes your ability to create something worthwhile. It makes you less inert, so you can become the catalyst you were meant to be. This is the more real-world version of Nietzsche’s quote “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

Many times, when I read that quote, I remember a certain episode of The Simpsons. Homer, after suffering a heart attack, asks Dr. Hibbert, “Yeah but what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger, right?”

“Oh no quite the opposite! It’s made you weak as a kitten,” Dr. Hibbert replies.

Homer’s doctor might be right about your health. But what doesn’t kill you, can make you a better creator.

  1. Scrambling for something, will destroy you.

I was so desperate to beat that bus, I hit myself in the head with the door I was trying to yank out of my head’s way.

This example makes it easy to see how stupid it is to scramble.

When the scrambling is subtler, catching yourself in the act is trickier. Like if you’re desperate to get a job, and inadvertently repel employers. Or you scramble to find the right team member, and you drive away an A-player from ever working with you.

In those situations, you lose the benefit of the immediate whack to the head, so you never realize you were yanking too hard, and not paying attention.

You were using force instead of being empowered.

This is where the skill of discernment comes in. You must move your observation through time and space, to unearth the cause and effect you’re missing. Just writing this, reminds me of how difficult this is. Especially if you’re trying to resolve something causing you pain. Yet this is one of the most valuable skills on this earthly plane.

(Just now, as I paused from writing mid-flight – the captain announced to fasten our seatbelts. We shot into the worst turbulence I’ve felt in many dozens of flights. My stomach flip-flopped as if barreling through a roller-coaster ride. I wondered if the pilot were hiding the truth – that something was very wrong, and we’d plummet to the earth soon. I considered my options, remembering that being centered counts more in a crisis. Could I stay rational? Yes. At least, so far. Chances are, what you’re reading is not a posthumous publication, from a recovered Microsoft Surface Pro from the crash site – so we came out fine.)

Anyway…

  1. Sometimes, seemingly innocuous events lead to the deepest scars

Hitting my head caused barely any pain. But the evidence remains, years later.

Some agonizing events – like 2nd degree burns on my hand and foot – are now invisible to the naked eye.

Same with your psychology. Sometimes, it wasn’t the devastating humiliation, or the attack, or the betrayal, that changed your wiring. Instead, it was a symptom. The real trigger was a mere snowflake, that caused the avalanche.

So who cares? Perhaps because this can help shift your mindset from “I’m working to resolve this big, horrible thing” to “I’m re-writing a tape in my head, which is a challenge but I’m certainly up to the task.”

Destroy Your Competition With Augmented Discipline

Published January 12, 2018 in Mindset - 0 Comments

“I get up every morning around 7AM…”

San Diego. March 2016. I think.

I was standing with a group of mimosa-sipping business owners, when someone asked about my writing schedule.

“First I shower. Then I meditate. Then I sit down to write.”

I described my process, and how I feel at a visceral level when I need to take a break from writing.

After that, I continued: “Then, I get up… walk over to my modem… plug it in… and start my day.”

“Wait, what?” one of them asked. “Your modem is unplugged?”

“Oh yeah!” I answered. I didn’t realize that was so weird. “Every night, before I go to bed, I unplug my modem. And my phone is already on Airplane Mode. Heck it’s pretty much always on Airplane Mode. I’m unreachable unless someone knocks on my door. And I usually don’t answer.

“That way, I can’t even check my phone or get on the internet when I first wake up. I just write. And I assume my day is pretty much going to go to hell as soon as I plug in that modem. Because sometimes it does.”

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a similar afternoon session. I’ll march over to my modem and rip the plug out of the wall. Then I’ll plop down in front of my laptop, and begin Round 2. Or 3 or 4 or whatever. I’m thinking of doing a more formal nighttime session like this, after my evening meditations and right before I go to bed.

This is augmented discipline.

All the blips and bloops your computer emits, as well as your phone’s screeching, are designed to distract you.

They want to pull you off your task and check on them instead. Otherwise, the apps behind the blurps would get less attention, fewer uses, and couldn’t command advertising rates as high. They certainly don’t want you prolific or fulfilled. It’s not relevant to their interests.

You can fight their influence with your willpower. And you have to, to avoid your apps entirely. But you can augment this discipline by making it a tiny bit harder to access them. Sort of like keeping ice cream, chips, and soda out of your kitchen. If you have to drive to the store to get it – or order it – then it’s harder to mindlessly nosh on it.

If your schedule doesn’t allow a morning marathon session of unplugged work, then schedule one later in the day. At the appointed time, rip your modem power cord from its socket. Turn off your phone. Then, you can’t check distracting apps, even if you wanted to.

Start practicing this, and you’ll experience something fascinating:

Your productivity is no longer linear. Your relatively short blocks (aim for half-hour blocks if you’re new to this, and increase) of work will launch you lightyears beyond people doing the same work on a distracted schedule.

Test it and see how augmented discipline works for you. You’ll begin producing so much, you might feel guilty about finishing so much by early afternoon.

Don’t Fire Negative People From Your Life – Here’s The Weird Reason Why

Published January 5, 2018 in Mindset , Origin Story - 0 Comments

One spring morning in 2010, I woke up, ambled over to my computer, and discovered my partners cheated me out of a business.

I didn’t find out by receiving a long email. Or even an angry phone call.

Instead, it was because I checked on something that seemed slightly amiss. The day before, one of my business partners had neglected to send me an article. We had a routine. Every weekday, one partner wrote an article. The second partner edited and approved it. The third – me – sent it to our list of subscribers.

Had he forgotten?

Maybe I missed something?

First, I decided to log into our email-broadcasting software, to see if anything had been sent out, at all.

I typed in my username, password, clicked…

… and it said my login information was incorrect.

Not a rare occurrence. My fingers frequently fumble. So I tried again.

We’re sorry, but the username and password you entered did not match our records…

One more time. Same result.

“Wait a minute…” I thought to myself.

I typed in the URL for our shopping cart software system. Then, I tried logging in there.

No dice.

“Oh.”

For the past few weeks, one of my business partners and I were getting more pissed at each other. A couple days earlier, he tried to schedule a phone call. I was getting sick of holding meetings about meetings, so I wrote I wasn’t interested.

“Interesting,” was his reply.

I didn’t think much of it. Later that evening, during a seated meditation, I briefly saw him, facing me. He sort of puked my way. And it was gone. I didn’t think much of that, either. But I wondered…

… and that morning, I figured things out.

He changed all the passwords.

And he already controlled the bank account and merchant account. He’d drawn up the corporate papers.

I considered my options for about 2 seconds. And I decided to start over, and go on with my life in a separate direction. After one half-hearted attempt to patch things up – that’s what I did. My two former-partners kept all my advertising copy, the sales structures I designed, customer base, business assets, and ongoing revenue. I never visited the website again. I have no idea what happened to either of them. My best guess – aided by brief asides from mutual acquaintances – is that the business bobbed up and down like something strewn into a river, before gently sinking into nothing.

Many people write and talk about “firing negative people from your life.”

I’ve said many things to that effect.

That’s wrong, in a subtle way.

Here’s why:

If you’re stuck with an asshole in your life, there’s a reason.

You’re either an asshole too, or a victim. Or both.

It’s true that you should fire assholes from your life.

But, chances are, you won’t. Or, if you do, you’ll get a replacement for the open position, in record time.

Here’s how I know this:

I was a terrified, ego-driven, asshole. So guess what I attracted? An odd soup of predators, idiots, victims, and a whole slew of people who, let’s say, “lacked conscious awareness” to a similar degree as me. It was tricky to see at first, because everyone was so different. But there was a subtle regression to the mean, in terms of everyone’s collective development.

Unless someone bounced away from me, they were just as fucked up as me – in their own unique way. For the vast majority of the human population, this is the social dynamic. At least, after puberty. From then on, most people stake their psychological claim, and attract their peers. It may not be smooth sailing from there, but it’s choppiness within the same ocean.

But I was initiating internal changes. And stepping into different waters, to continue the metaphor.

Several months before this business break-up, I began practicing an intense form of meditation.

I’ll tell the story another time, but here’s the short version: It almost wiped away my crippling, suicidal depression, and began waking me up in ways I’d never predicted or even considered.

Little did I realize, my life would pluck apart and rearrange itself.

Fast.

First, a random event forced me out of the condo I’d been living in, for almost four years. Weeks later, the same thing happened with my business with two partners. Then, a few weeks after that, the same thing happened again with a business group I was a part of.

And yet… I didn’t feel like I’d tumbled into some bad patch in life. Instead, I felt more alive and awake than ever before.

Because I’d been enlivening myself and awakening myself more than ever before.

As a result, I didn’t need to fire any negative people from my life.

Instead, they fired me!

Because the resonance between us, evaporated.

This is why “firing negative people from your life” is wrong, in a subtle way. When you work on yourself, you don’t need to pay much heed to getting rid of bad influences. At the proper time, they’ll bounce off you. You might need to nudge the ball rolling. Maybe.

I’ll get to the specifics of nudging in a moment. First, here’s how to work on yourself:

  1. Daily meditation

There are as many ways to meditate as there are to exercise. Probably more. Sample as many different kinds as possible to find one that’s a match for your disposition, at this time and place. Sitting and observing your thoughts… standing and quieting your mind… deep breathing… guided visualization… affirmations… chanting… slow walking… tai chi… chi gung… nei gung… yoga… HIIT… push hands…

… dive in and do one. Every day.

  1. Study and observe your own psychology.

The United States is suffering from an epidemic of “triggering.” I rarely heard that word until about a year ago. It seems similar to getting rattled, except “triggering” has a sinister edge to it. Like, “if you upset me, you’re pulling my trigger, and I’m going to shoot you.”

People who get off on getting triggered, and riding the wave of feeling simultaneously superior and mentally unchained, are beyond hope. But if you’re someone who just gets rattled too often – observe why. What throws you off? You’ll find that merely observing, begins to dissolve its power and expands your comfort zone.

  1. Hide your work on yourself.

If shitty people surround you, don’t fertilize them. Don’t give them a reason to poke at you, express their doubts, or sabotage you. Don’t tell anyone about good stuff you’ve got cooking.

Now onto nudging…

If you’re working on yourself and making progress, the dissonance between you and negative people will push hard on your behalf. And it can push harder than you.

If you’re at a party, and you’re trying to avoid eating chips and soda, some “friends” might goad you into breaking your willpower. They’ll tease you. They’ll throw fake concern your way. You might give in. either way, it won’t be fun.

But if you’ve been meditating and working on your psychology, and the wrong foods for you no longer lure you (a common result) then your “friends” will sense it. Maybe not even consciously. But they’ll just know you can’t be tempted anymore. They won’t even try. If they make any feeble attempt, you can just shrug your shoulders and shake your head.

That’s the nudge.

Same if you’re starting a business. Or embarking on a new career. When you’re changing internally, they’ll see it in your eyes. Chances are, you won’t know because of what they say. Instead, they’ll just stay out of your way…

… or support you, because maybe they’ve been changing internally, as well. It’d be sad if you pushed away true friends.

No need to fire those who try to hold you back. Keep working on yourself. Eventually, they’ll either shut up or fire themselves.

How Your Regrets Can Save You Instead Of Kill You In 2018

Published December 29, 2017 in Mindset - 0 Comments

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

I focused on the gaps between my footfalls – when I floated through space, and my spine lengthened and aligned. Then, when my feet landed, coiling like springs… I focused on blasting off again, from my hips.

It was around 8AM, just south of downtown Baltimore, at the Inner Harbor. I sprinted up the corner of Federal Hill. It’s a manmade hill cut like a trapezoid, overlooking the harbor and buildings.

During a nighttime thunderstorm over 156 years ago, General Benjamin F. Butler led a thousand Union troops to the hill, where they secured a fort. They dug their heels in, for the entire Civil War.

That morning, I used the unnaturally steep incline to challenge my muscles, lungs, and nervous system.

The effort triggered a gush of growth hormone through my system.

And all kinds of pleasurable brain chemicals began flooding as I did some chi gung afterwards, amidst the trees. Usually playing with one tree.

Back when I lived in downtown Baltimore, that was my Saturday ritual. Usually, I’d sip some water mixed with a pre-workout stimulant, while walking to the hill. Later I discovered it was spiked with amphetamines. No wonder I felt so amazing.

I regret not performing the ritualized workout more often. These days, instead of taking a full week to recover, I do stair sprints every 3rd day. If only I’d kept up this pace in Baltimore. I imagined how much less stressed I would have been, how much more creative, and how much healthier.

While pondering this, I decided to list out a bunch more regrets. But not one-off opportunities I didn’t take, or single mistakes I made. Or anything to do with predicting the future. Instead, I wrote only about habits. Here they are:

  1. Not doing hill sprints more often

Already covered this one above.

  1. Not constantly writing articles

I was too lazy, didn’t see the value, assumed they’d take my energy away from other projects, or feared I’d run dry on creativity.

None of this turned out to be true. Once I kicked the laziness to the curb, I discovered putting energy into writing that’s fulfilling, delivers me more creative energy. And rather than running out of things to say, I’m downloading more. Much to the chagrin of many, I’m sure.

  1. Not setting a consistent wake-up time

I used to let myself sleep in, and wake up “naturally” – figuring this would give me more energy. But instead, it settled me into a subtle malaise. Now I set a wake-up time that’s just a little bit “too early” and I feel more energized.

  1. Not eliminating tension in my hips

This year, I’ve been fascinated in how tight and misaligned my hips have been for decades. And how much emotional gunk has been trapped in there.

Relaxing and aligning them (with virtually zero stretching involved) has been exquisitely slow. Like a flower blooming. Fun to witness. But I regret not starting sooner.

(Notice how these first four regrets revolve around energy, with a focus on health?)

  1. Not meeting more great people

When I lived in Colorado for the first time, I was shy and egotistical and terrified and made almost zero friends. I drank. I cried. Then I went bankrupt and crawled around the bottom for a few years.

My second time in Colorado, I met friends and friends of friends, and now maintain a MasterMind in the industry I love. Great connections, answers, vendors, and clients are an email away. I get special access and prices (sometimes this price is free – or I get a valuable service nobody else could even pay for). I have zero fear of becoming financially destitute again (unless we experience a devastating global financial catastrophe, and I’m still working on that fear). This (almost total) lack of fear isn’t derived solely from my income, or even mostly. It’s the knowledge that I have relationships with great people.

  1. Not pushing myself to write better and study better writing

For years, I coasted by on writing that was “good enough.” I could have stayed that way. And lived on a relatively stable income. Now I see I was turning my nose up at sharpening my skill, because I feared the work and the new territory. No more.

  1. Not dropping the damn guilt and anxiety about being myself

I hated company parties. So I hated myself for hating them.

I worried about my zany thoughts, so I kept them to myself.

Nowadays, I simply avoid the stupid party – if it’s too loud to hear people speak. Otherwise, I tolerate it just fine.

And now I blurt out my thoughts. People either engage, or we both learn we’re not a match for each other.

However, my thoughts were not always blurt-able. Some still aren’t. Which is why I regret…

  1. Not getting therapy

From someone competent. Someone great.

Because the best therapy is someone empowering their psychology to help you detox yours.

The benefits are exponential. When your brain is optimized for what you want to feel and experience, all your results come easier.

Positive-minded coaches are fantastic to help you drive ahead. But sometimes you get stuck from moving forward until you work out the psychological vines twisted around your ankles.

I’m glad I still feel a tinge of regret for everything I wrote about here. Because it reminds me to keep doing them. More. I wonder what I’m not considering now, that I’ll regret next year? Or five years from now?

How about yourself. What habits do you regret not doing a year ago? Five years ago?

What habits and rituals would you BEG your children to do?

Are you doing them now?

Stop Claiming You Used The Law Of Reciprocity In Your Digital Marketing Campaign – You’re Wrong

Published December 22, 2017 in Marketing - 0 Comments

“We’re giving away a ton of content and great information, so we’ll get some good reciprocity there…”

Goddamnit.

Are you kidding me?

More of this?

If you think the “Law of Reciprocity” is helping drive your sales in a digital marketing business because you’re “giving away a ton of content” … you’re wrong. It’s a mistake that’ll waste your time.

Or kill your business before it even has a chance to grow.

I’ve seen it happen.

In this article, I’ll prove that any time you see or use the Law of Reciprocity in your online business and think it drove sales, your success was because of different factors. And that you’re better off throwing this paradigm into your mental garbage can.

The Law of Reciprocity first gained traction when the best-selling book Influence used Hare Krishnas at the airport as a shining example of the law in action. The story goes like this:

Imagine you’ve just landed in a new city, and you’re finally getting a chance to move your legs after a long flight. As you walk to the baggage claim, a robed man casually hands you a pretty, pink flower. Before you can ask why, he explains it’s a gift… but makes sure to add that donations to the Hare Krishna organization are always welcome.

Spurred by the man’s kind flower gift, you toss him whatever change is in your pocket, and hurry on your way.

Once you believe you’re out of his line of sight, you ditch the flower in the nearest trash can.

If you remember the exchange at all, you might be quick to assume you simply met a dopey, religious guy who liked handing out flowers. Instead, you were engaged in an elegant principle of persuasion. Because the man gave you a gift – no strings attached – you felt compelled to reciprocate when he asked for something in return.

He knows what he’s doing – and he knows what you’ll do next. As the book Influence describes on page 24, “[A Hare Krishna devotee] went from trash can to trash can beyond the immediate area to retrieve all the flowers that had been discarded by Krishna targets. She then returned with the cache of recovered flowers (some that had been recycled who knows how many times) and distributed them to be profitably cycled through the reciprocation process once more.”

When Influence sold its bajillionth copy or so, every digital marketer – from the multi-millionaire to mom’s basement-dweller – began engineering their marketing efforts to include a hefty dose of giving shit away.

The internet reached Peak Reciprocity right around the time the concept of “Move The Free Line” became the dogma-of-the-month. Its premise is to take whatever information you usually charge for, and “move the free line” so that information becomes part of your business’s free offerings.

The two paradigms joined forces in a perfect storm of give, give, give!

But does it work?

No. At least not the way people think.

Here’s why:

You’re not a Hare Krishna with a pretty, pink flower and the internet isn’t a goddamn airport.

When you attempt to use the Law of Reciprocity online, you’re missing its secret sauce:

A face-to-face interaction.

Human beings bond when we can look into each other’s eyes, size up each other’s body language, and match our movements. When we catch a whiff of each other’s pheromones. When we can nod and tilt our heads, furrow our brows, shrug our shoulders, and laugh together. When we can shake hands. When we hug.

You can’t do any of that on the internet, and it destroys any chance of bonding.

It gets more fascinating when you consider that, for the first time in human history, we’re able to communicate with each other in real-time… without the bonding experience. The closest we ever came before this, was written correspondence, and then the telephone. The internet has put this bizarre situation on steroids.

The result?

Exponential road rage without borders.

Psychologically, everyone you “meet” on the internet is an enemy. Emotionally, they’re sitting right in front of you, in your home. But because it’s not physical, your interaction lacks the humanity and kinship. You didn’t experience any joys of bonding with a new person. No settling into a rhythm with each other. No feeling of connection. Instead, everyone online feels like they’ve invaded each other’s territory.

Let’s get back to reciprocity.

When you bond with someone, and they give you a gift, you feel compelled to give them something in return.

When you communicate with someone without the bonding, they can bestow you with all kinds of stuff, without ever triggering reciprocation. Because there’s no emotion. You never met. It wasn’t personal.

“But wait,” someone might say, “I see businesses succeed all the time by giving away tons of information. That must mean the law’s working somehow.”

This is an example of a business doing something that works, but not quite knowing why. When a business gives away a bunch of stuff, it makes for good promotional fodder. Their advertising is more interesting. Partners are more willing to promote them. Potential customers are more willing to get involved because they like the free stuff.

But if a business gives away valuable information and sells more product as a result, isn’t this a case of the Law of Reciprocity in action? No. They’re using information to demonstrate authority. The customer doesn’t buy because he feels indebted to the business. He simply feels more assured they know their stuff.

Consider Amazon.com. Do you shop there because they give, give, give? Or because of their convenience, and you feel like you can trust the 3rd party reviews on all the products they feature?

Or consider my blog. I’m publishing plenty of information, for free.

What are readers going to do? Send me flowers?

Are they going to bolt upright in their bed one night and shout, “Well gosh darn, that Nate character has published sooo much stuff! I’m just overwhelmingly compelled to shower him with riches!” Are they even going to feel this, beneath their conscious awareness? No. But they might respect my information enough, to feel like I’m an authoritative resource.

I’m not holding up my blog as a shining example of any kind of persuasion. I’m not selling a product at this point. My motivations for writing everything you see here are very different. But I have no delusions that I’ll generate reciprocity from anonymous strangers. No business does. Only people who bond with each other.

But wait… there must be an exception to this.

Sort of. Charities often send gifts via direct mail. But there’s a metric ton of guilt mixed into these promotions. Another exception is a specific way businesses can generate some reciprocity, when bonding occurs between a customer and someone within the business. Here’s how:

If a customer service rep communicates with a customer one-on-one and does the customer a favor, that could trigger the potential for reciprocity. But the customer must feel it’s genuinely one-on-one and genuinely an exception to how the business usually conducts itself. It can’t work with a mass mailing. So, save the Law of Reciprocity for your customer service, not your product launch.