253906 blogs
  • 12 Jul 2011
    John Assaraf is an international best-selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur. You may have seen him as one of the experts in the popular movie The Secret (as well as in The Secret book), talking about how he manifested his dream house. What’s most amazing is that he lived in that house for quite a while before discovering it was the exact same house he originally posted on his vision board! In the past 20 years, John has built four multi-million dollar companies, including: RE/MAX of Indiana, which now has more than 1,500 sales associates, who collectively generate more than $5 billion a year in sales and are paid more than $120 million in commissions annually. Bamboo.com, a start-up that attracted over 100,000 clients in less than a year and generated more than $30 million in revenues within 10 months. Bamboo then merged with Ipix and went on to become the world’s leading provider of online virtual tours including the imaging infrastructure for Internet companies like eBay. OneCoach, John’s current entrepreneurial pursuit, a company that is helping thousands of entrepreneurs and small-business professionals grow their revenues so they can achieve financial freedom and live extraordinary lives.  Today John shares his passion for success with audiences worldwide. He has appeared on Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, and other major media outlets. John is also one of the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management’s Distinguished Thought Leaders. John’s personal passions include his family, spirituality, exercise, cooking, travel, and helping entrepreneurs understand how to incorporate the psychological and strategic sides of building a successful business and life. In this exclusive interview, John shares his hard-earned lessons on success, entrepreneurship, purpose, values, and more. 1. What have been the major contributing factors to your success as an entrepreneur? I made a decision when I was 22 that I wanted to become a multi-millionaire. From the day I set that goal to now, I have consistently learned, applied and tweaked my path to get there. I sought out everything I could read, listen to or attend that would help me make my life a masterpiece. I also sought out mentors to help me avoid the mistakes they had made and to point me in the right direction. Fortunately for me, I was able to overcome my feelings of not feeling smart enough or deserving enough at a very young age. By really understanding what causes great results and then taking deliberate and consistent action, I achieved my initial goals by the time I was thirty.   2. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in business, and what did you learn from them? In 2000 after we took our company public and did a merger with another company that was also worth $500 million, I didn’t feel deep down inside that I trusted the new CEO. My intuition has always been right on and told me to take my millions and leave. I didn’t listen to my inner self, and waiting six months before I took action cost me a small fortune. Our stock went from $43 a share to $14 when I sold it. The lesson… always do what you feel deep down is right. Leave logic behind. On another scale, keeping people in a position they or you cannot see them growing and shining in has cost me dearly. I have always had a hard time letting someone know they are not cutting it and letting them go. I know that even if it’s best for all parties, it’s very hard. I feel for them and their families. Lesson… Do it anyway regardless of how hard it is. In the end, everyone wins if they are willing to grow and learn.   3. What personal or professional accomplishment(s) have you found most rewarding and fulfilling, and why? Personally I have found being a great Dad and husband has been the most fulfilling and rewarding. The fact that I can really love, be loved in so many ways with my wife, kids, friends and family gives me the sense of purpose I seek. It gives my life a wonderful meaning to help my kids grow into loving, caring contributors to society. Professionally, nothing gives me more joy than helping another human see how and why they are capable of achieving their life’s goals and dreams. I feel a sense of duty to pass on what I have learned with others so that they experience life in a positive and meaningful way   4. In The Secret you told the story of how you manifested your house. What’s your current understanding of the process by which you accomplished this? I have studied all the sciences and all the major religions and can sum it up in one sentence. We become, have and attract what we think about and act upon correctly the most.   5. How has the popularity of The Secret affected you, both personally and professionally? It has helped position me as an authority on the subject of “Attraction” and given me credibility in the marketplace. It also has exposed me to millions of people that never heard of me so the amount of people who know me has grown exponentially. That has related in making a lot of great connections, opened doors and of course the financial rewards have been a nice added bonus for my kids and family charity trust fund. In addition, I just signed a mega three book deal with Simon and Shuster, which is one of the biggest publishing giants in the world. 6. What is your understanding of the relationship between wealth and spirituality? This is a tough question as I view wealth as having health, love, fulfillment, peace in your heart and having a sense of purpose in your life in addition to financial freedom. Spirituality on the other hand is having the knowingness that the very essence of who and what you are is the same as that which created you from the beginning and in feeling connected to all living things.   7. Do you have a purpose or mission? If so, what is it, and how did you discover it? I’ll start by saying that the way I discovered it is by taking all the time I needed to ask the right questions and to be serious in finding the answer without pushing for one. I asked myself what do I want to trade my life for everyday and how do I want to be remembered by my friends, family and other humans in whom I come into contact with either in person or though the work I do. The desire to find the answer led me to my purpose, identity and beliefs. Here they are. PURPOSE The purpose of my life is to live, to love, to grow and to be mega happy. It is also to be a great husband and father to Keenan and Noah and to love, inspire and serve others. IDENTITY I am a loving, caring, healthy and gently powerful leader who inspires and educates people.  I am a philanthropist and developer of human potential.  I am a lover of life.  I am an example of human possibility. CORE BELIEFS God guides me. I am very intelligent and I use my mind daily to grow and accomplish. I am very focused, balanced and disciplined. I have the ability and do motivate, educate and inspire others. I am a very loving and caring person. I am very generous. I have the extraordinary ability to accomplish everything I want. My life is a masterpiece. 8. What are your most important guiding values, and what do they mean to you? There are many so let’s start with four that are highest on my list. Playing life full out- this is important to me because when I was in my teens I had a life-altering car accident that show me how in one second, everything can change. It changed my life and the course of it. Today I play full out every day and having fun is one of my highest priorities. Health is second. When I was 22 I worked so much and got so stressed out I ended up with ulcerative colitis. It’s a colon disease that is painful and takes away any control you have in going to the bathroom. When you gotta go, you can’t make it to the bathroom most often. Today I eat healthy, exercise, visualize, meditate and have little that stresses me out. I also beat the disease 24 years ago through this formula. GOD- this is definitely not third on the list. I believe in the power of creation and the intelligent force within me and every other thing or being more than anything else. It is irrefutable to me and so I value that more than anything. Honesty- First and foremost with myself. Secondly with everyone else. For me this is the starting point of having integrity.    9. What do you love most about life? What inspires you? I love all the options we have to enjoy the journey. Each emotion that is available to us and the excitement of creation, contribution and the feeling of love. I also love the mystery and the splendor of observing God’s creations. I am inspired by the genuine love of mankind and the possibilities that exist for all of us. I am inspired by giving and becoming more of a philanthropist. I am inspired by watching my beautiful boys growing up and by the joys of laughter and a sunset.   10. What typically prevents people from achieving the success they desire, and what can they do about it? In most cases, it’s the individual not realizing their true potential and not making a commitment to their new desired outcomes. They, like me, somehow get stuck in a world of now and forget that the past is a school, and that the future begins now with a new vision backed by new habits and actions. We all get stuck in a comfort zone and those who get on with not allowing complacency to set in too long, advance towards their goals and dreams with passion, purpose and poise.   11. What advice would you offer someone who feels emotionally and financially trapped in an unfulfilling job? I learned many years ago that our present circumstances are nothing more than effects. The question then must turn to what caused the effect of being and feeling trapped in an unfulfilling job? The answer is beliefs. You see if someone believed that there was an option other than their current situation and that they could do it… they would. They don’t believe they can easily make a change so they don’t. The key for all these people is to realize that yes they can and to figure out how.   12. What other advice, ideas, projects, and/or activities would you like to share with StevePavlina.com’s readers? I truly believe that every person has the seeds and ability within them to have more money, health, wealth, happiness, fulfillment and a spiritual connection that makes them feel so connected. The key is to have the right information on how they can go from where they are to where they want to be. I believe that for anyone who is serious in exploring the answers, I have a path and the tools and resources to help them achieve it now. Go to JohnAssaraf.com and listen to the free “Having It All” audio I created and sign up for my blog JohnAssaraf.com/blog. If you own a business check out OneCoach.com and sign up for the free newsletter there also.   Thanks, John! SP: Here’s a photo of the house from John’s vision board… which later became his home:          
    772 Posted by UniqueThis
  • John Assaraf is an international best-selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur. You may have seen him as one of the experts in the popular movie The Secret (as well as in The Secret book), talking about how he manifested his dream house. What’s most amazing is that he lived in that house for quite a while before discovering it was the exact same house he originally posted on his vision board! In the past 20 years, John has built four multi-million dollar companies, including: RE/MAX of Indiana, which now has more than 1,500 sales associates, who collectively generate more than $5 billion a year in sales and are paid more than $120 million in commissions annually. Bamboo.com, a start-up that attracted over 100,000 clients in less than a year and generated more than $30 million in revenues within 10 months. Bamboo then merged with Ipix and went on to become the world’s leading provider of online virtual tours including the imaging infrastructure for Internet companies like eBay. OneCoach, John’s current entrepreneurial pursuit, a company that is helping thousands of entrepreneurs and small-business professionals grow their revenues so they can achieve financial freedom and live extraordinary lives.  Today John shares his passion for success with audiences worldwide. He has appeared on Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, and other major media outlets. John is also one of the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management’s Distinguished Thought Leaders. John’s personal passions include his family, spirituality, exercise, cooking, travel, and helping entrepreneurs understand how to incorporate the psychological and strategic sides of building a successful business and life. In this exclusive interview, John shares his hard-earned lessons on success, entrepreneurship, purpose, values, and more. 1. What have been the major contributing factors to your success as an entrepreneur? I made a decision when I was 22 that I wanted to become a multi-millionaire. From the day I set that goal to now, I have consistently learned, applied and tweaked my path to get there. I sought out everything I could read, listen to or attend that would help me make my life a masterpiece. I also sought out mentors to help me avoid the mistakes they had made and to point me in the right direction. Fortunately for me, I was able to overcome my feelings of not feeling smart enough or deserving enough at a very young age. By really understanding what causes great results and then taking deliberate and consistent action, I achieved my initial goals by the time I was thirty.   2. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in business, and what did you learn from them? In 2000 after we took our company public and did a merger with another company that was also worth $500 million, I didn’t feel deep down inside that I trusted the new CEO. My intuition has always been right on and told me to take my millions and leave. I didn’t listen to my inner self, and waiting six months before I took action cost me a small fortune. Our stock went from $43 a share to $14 when I sold it. The lesson… always do what you feel deep down is right. Leave logic behind. On another scale, keeping people in a position they or you cannot see them growing and shining in has cost me dearly. I have always had a hard time letting someone know they are not cutting it and letting them go. I know that even if it’s best for all parties, it’s very hard. I feel for them and their families. Lesson… Do it anyway regardless of how hard it is. In the end, everyone wins if they are willing to grow and learn.   3. What personal or professional accomplishment(s) have you found most rewarding and fulfilling, and why? Personally I have found being a great Dad and husband has been the most fulfilling and rewarding. The fact that I can really love, be loved in so many ways with my wife, kids, friends and family gives me the sense of purpose I seek. It gives my life a wonderful meaning to help my kids grow into loving, caring contributors to society. Professionally, nothing gives me more joy than helping another human see how and why they are capable of achieving their life’s goals and dreams. I feel a sense of duty to pass on what I have learned with others so that they experience life in a positive and meaningful way   4. In The Secret you told the story of how you manifested your house. What’s your current understanding of the process by which you accomplished this? I have studied all the sciences and all the major religions and can sum it up in one sentence. We become, have and attract what we think about and act upon correctly the most.   5. How has the popularity of The Secret affected you, both personally and professionally? It has helped position me as an authority on the subject of “Attraction” and given me credibility in the marketplace. It also has exposed me to millions of people that never heard of me so the amount of people who know me has grown exponentially. That has related in making a lot of great connections, opened doors and of course the financial rewards have been a nice added bonus for my kids and family charity trust fund. In addition, I just signed a mega three book deal with Simon and Shuster, which is one of the biggest publishing giants in the world. 6. What is your understanding of the relationship between wealth and spirituality? This is a tough question as I view wealth as having health, love, fulfillment, peace in your heart and having a sense of purpose in your life in addition to financial freedom. Spirituality on the other hand is having the knowingness that the very essence of who and what you are is the same as that which created you from the beginning and in feeling connected to all living things.   7. Do you have a purpose or mission? If so, what is it, and how did you discover it? I’ll start by saying that the way I discovered it is by taking all the time I needed to ask the right questions and to be serious in finding the answer without pushing for one. I asked myself what do I want to trade my life for everyday and how do I want to be remembered by my friends, family and other humans in whom I come into contact with either in person or though the work I do. The desire to find the answer led me to my purpose, identity and beliefs. Here they are. PURPOSE The purpose of my life is to live, to love, to grow and to be mega happy. It is also to be a great husband and father to Keenan and Noah and to love, inspire and serve others. IDENTITY I am a loving, caring, healthy and gently powerful leader who inspires and educates people.  I am a philanthropist and developer of human potential.  I am a lover of life.  I am an example of human possibility. CORE BELIEFS God guides me. I am very intelligent and I use my mind daily to grow and accomplish. I am very focused, balanced and disciplined. I have the ability and do motivate, educate and inspire others. I am a very loving and caring person. I am very generous. I have the extraordinary ability to accomplish everything I want. My life is a masterpiece. 8. What are your most important guiding values, and what do they mean to you? There are many so let’s start with four that are highest on my list. Playing life full out- this is important to me because when I was in my teens I had a life-altering car accident that show me how in one second, everything can change. It changed my life and the course of it. Today I play full out every day and having fun is one of my highest priorities. Health is second. When I was 22 I worked so much and got so stressed out I ended up with ulcerative colitis. It’s a colon disease that is painful and takes away any control you have in going to the bathroom. When you gotta go, you can’t make it to the bathroom most often. Today I eat healthy, exercise, visualize, meditate and have little that stresses me out. I also beat the disease 24 years ago through this formula. GOD- this is definitely not third on the list. I believe in the power of creation and the intelligent force within me and every other thing or being more than anything else. It is irrefutable to me and so I value that more than anything. Honesty- First and foremost with myself. Secondly with everyone else. For me this is the starting point of having integrity.    9. What do you love most about life? What inspires you? I love all the options we have to enjoy the journey. Each emotion that is available to us and the excitement of creation, contribution and the feeling of love. I also love the mystery and the splendor of observing God’s creations. I am inspired by the genuine love of mankind and the possibilities that exist for all of us. I am inspired by giving and becoming more of a philanthropist. I am inspired by watching my beautiful boys growing up and by the joys of laughter and a sunset.   10. What typically prevents people from achieving the success they desire, and what can they do about it? In most cases, it’s the individual not realizing their true potential and not making a commitment to their new desired outcomes. They, like me, somehow get stuck in a world of now and forget that the past is a school, and that the future begins now with a new vision backed by new habits and actions. We all get stuck in a comfort zone and those who get on with not allowing complacency to set in too long, advance towards their goals and dreams with passion, purpose and poise.   11. What advice would you offer someone who feels emotionally and financially trapped in an unfulfilling job? I learned many years ago that our present circumstances are nothing more than effects. The question then must turn to what caused the effect of being and feeling trapped in an unfulfilling job? The answer is beliefs. You see if someone believed that there was an option other than their current situation and that they could do it… they would. They don’t believe they can easily make a change so they don’t. The key for all these people is to realize that yes they can and to figure out how.   12. What other advice, ideas, projects, and/or activities would you like to share with StevePavlina.com’s readers? I truly believe that every person has the seeds and ability within them to have more money, health, wealth, happiness, fulfillment and a spiritual connection that makes them feel so connected. The key is to have the right information on how they can go from where they are to where they want to be. I believe that for anyone who is serious in exploring the answers, I have a path and the tools and resources to help them achieve it now. Go to JohnAssaraf.com and listen to the free “Having It All” audio I created and sign up for my blog JohnAssaraf.com/blog. If you own a business check out OneCoach.com and sign up for the free newsletter there also.   Thanks, John! SP: Here’s a photo of the house from John’s vision board… which later became his home:          
    Jul 12, 2011 772
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Our feelings are a natural response to our thoughts and intentions.  We don’t really choose our feelings directly.  Our feelings are a feedback mechanism.  They indicate whether we’re moving into alignment with our true desires (positive feelings) or out of alignment (negative feelings). Simply put… we feel good when we’re moving towards what we want, and we feel bad when we’re moving away from what we want.  And that movement is more about thought and intention than it is about action. Feelings as feedback The way I deal with negative feelings is to back track them to their source.  That source is found in my thoughts and intentions.  When I ask myself, “What thoughts and intentions are giving rise to these feelings?” I can eventually find the answer.  I can see where I’m out of alignment with what I really want.  Negative feelings reveal that I’m moving away from my true desires instead of towards them, so I do my best to acknowledge and accept my true desires and to align my thoughts with them. There are a couple different processes I find effective here.  The first is journaling.  I write to clarify my negative feelings and to figure out what thoughts are causing them.  The second process is conversation.  I’ll go to Erin and say, “I’m feeling stressed/angry/disturbed/etc., but I’m not sure why?  Will you help me figure this out?”  Then we sit and talk for a while to get to the bottom of it. Identifying the source of feelings Erin and I both have sensitive emotional antennae, so sometimes the feelings we experience aren’t our own.  For example, if a close relative is feeling great anxiety, one or both of us may feel intense negative emotion for no apparent reason.  Once or twice we even made some phone calls to figure out who was worried and to ask them to please stop worrying so loudly. But most of the time my feelings arise from my own thoughts, and either through journaling or conversation, I can track them to the source.  Invariably this reveals I’ve been inadvertently moving away from something I want.  The negative emotions are a way for my true desires to get my attention:  “Hey buddy… remember me?  I’m still here, and I ain’t goin’ anywhere, so you’d better deal with me soon.” Feelings walkthrough Suppose I sit down to work one day, and I just can’t seem to get anything going.  I feel no passion for what I’m doing, the work on my plate seems really tedious, and I just don’t feel motivated to do anything.  Maybe I succumb to this pattern for a few days.  Then I feel even worse because I’m not getting anything done. In such situations I need to call a time-out and track those feelings back to the source.  Eventually I find the unacknowledged desire screaming at me:  “Hey, Steve.  You’re spending way too much time working alone.  You need to get out more.  You need to be around people more, not sitting at your desk all day.” So I acknowledge that desire and take a stab at coming into better alignment with it.  I think about being around people more, and I notice that just thinking about that feels better.  The next day I grab my laptop and drive down to the Las Vegas Strip to do some blogging there.  Overall I enjoy the day out.  This feels a little better to me, but I can tell I’m still not quite there yet.  There’s still this gnawing feeling of negativity that I’m missing something. Another round of introspection brings up more revelations:  “Nice try, Steve, but that wasn’t what I meant.  It’s great you got away from your desk, but a single trip to the Strip won’t cut it.  You can do better than that.” I give it some thought and say to Erin, “Let’s take a trip.  We’ve always talked about going to New York City, and this is a great time of year to do it.  So let’s just go next month.  We’ll find a way to make it work.”  We start planning a trip, and that feels even better.  I’m getting closer, but still no cigar. Back to the well to hear this:  “Getting warmer, buddy.  It’s great you got away from your desk, but this isn’t just about getting out.  You need to spend more time interacting with people face-to-face.”  So Erin and I begin planning a group meet-up during our New York City trip.  And that feels even better. Continuing to use feelings as feedback, I keep listening and taking action, noticing what works (positive feelings) and what doesn’t work (negative or neutral feelings).  And the pattern of the true desire begins to emerge:  “Spend more time connecting with people face-to-face and not just online.  Make that a regular part of my life.” As I keep making changes to bring myself into alignment with my true desires, my baseline emotional state becomes increasingly positive.  I join a second Toastmasters club.  I sign up for a speech contest.  I accept an invitation to do a local workshop.  I invite some friends over.  I start putting together a special mastermind group for a particular goal.  After a week or two of changes, I’m just beaming with positive energy because I’m becoming well aligned with my true desires. Eventually those negative feelings will return, indicating that yet another desire has surfaced that I must attend to.  Negative feelings are great — they’re an indication that I’m ready to manifest a whole new desire.  As soon as I recognize that, it’s pretty easy to get moving in the right direction, and it feels good to do so.  The universe will literally drop the appropriate opportunities right on my doorstep.  The phone will ring, or a friend will tell me about something at just the right time.  All I have to do is keep saying yes as long as it keeps moving me in the direction of more positive feelings.  Taking these steps is actually very easy because I’m simply following the breadcrumbs to more positive emotional states — it’s resisting the steps that’s hard. Negative feelings as a call to action Negative feelings mean you’re going the wrong way.  Your current reality is no longer a match for you, and it’s time to experience something new.  That’s a good thing, so don’t worry when you notice you’re feeling bad.  It just means you want something better or different.  So don’t whine about feeling bad.  Instead go into sleuth mode, and figure out why you’re feeling bad.  It’s because you want something new that you don’t yet have, and at the same time you’re stubbornly resisting what you want by failing to fully align yourself with it.  Don’t ignore your desires, or those negative feelings will only grow stronger and louder until you listen. Often what traps us in negative emotion is that deep down we know what we want, but we don’t think we can get it.  Sometimes we also don’t feel we deserve it.  So we tell ourselves maybe we shouldn’t want it.  Please don’t do that.  It never works.  You cannot NOT want what you want.  If you want it, you want it.  Trying to deny your desires is only going to piss you off.  You really need to do the exact opposite of that. Summoning the energy of desire When you want something, really want it.  Let that delicious feeling of desire permeate your entire being… until you’re almost ready to explode from the energy it creates.  Desire feels good.  This is how you get yourself aligned with what you want.  This is what activates the Law of Attraction to help manifest what you want.  This is also what activates your creativity and summons inspired action to help you get there even faster. What you want to summon here isn’t exactly a thought, a feeling, or an action.  Some people call it a vibration.  That’s pretty close to what it feels like.  To me it’s a sensation of being charged with positive energy.  Imagine drinking a cocktail made from one part lust, one part ecstasy, and three parts electricity.  That’s roughly what it feels like. Align yourself with your desires, and get out of the way The receiving/manifesting part isn’t up to us so much — our part is simply to admit what we really want, to hold that desire, and to move into alignment with it.  You will begin to feel good as soon as you start moving in the right direction, which starts with clarifying exactly what you want and then allowing yourself to want it. If you’ve been feeling bad lately, recognize that it’s because you want something you don’t currently have.  Want to feel even worse?  Try pretending you don’t really want it, assume you’ll never get it, or imagine you don’t deserve it.  Want to turn it around and feel fantastic?  Step fully and completely into that desire, and bask in the energy it summons. Feeling bad is a good thing You’re supposed to feel bad when new desires get activated — at least initially.  That emotional nudge is there to get your attention, so you’ll listen to what you really want and start heading in that direction. If you’re having trouble getting to the bottom of your negative feelings, even after trying journaling and/or a conversation with a close friend, take advantage of our free discussion forums, and allow other people to help you.  You can always use a made-up handle to disguise your true identity if you’re paranoid that someone might find out you’re human after all.  Tell people what you’re feeling and a little background on your current situation, and ask for help in backtracking it to the source. This doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.  When you move in the direction of your true desires — not the phony, socially conditioned ones – you will feel good.  It’s also relatively easy.  What makes it difficult is when we resist the notion of wanting what we want.  Instead of resisting our desires, we need to do the exact opposite — embrace them as fully and completely as we can.
    777 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Our feelings are a natural response to our thoughts and intentions.  We don’t really choose our feelings directly.  Our feelings are a feedback mechanism.  They indicate whether we’re moving into alignment with our true desires (positive feelings) or out of alignment (negative feelings). Simply put… we feel good when we’re moving towards what we want, and we feel bad when we’re moving away from what we want.  And that movement is more about thought and intention than it is about action. Feelings as feedback The way I deal with negative feelings is to back track them to their source.  That source is found in my thoughts and intentions.  When I ask myself, “What thoughts and intentions are giving rise to these feelings?” I can eventually find the answer.  I can see where I’m out of alignment with what I really want.  Negative feelings reveal that I’m moving away from my true desires instead of towards them, so I do my best to acknowledge and accept my true desires and to align my thoughts with them. There are a couple different processes I find effective here.  The first is journaling.  I write to clarify my negative feelings and to figure out what thoughts are causing them.  The second process is conversation.  I’ll go to Erin and say, “I’m feeling stressed/angry/disturbed/etc., but I’m not sure why?  Will you help me figure this out?”  Then we sit and talk for a while to get to the bottom of it. Identifying the source of feelings Erin and I both have sensitive emotional antennae, so sometimes the feelings we experience aren’t our own.  For example, if a close relative is feeling great anxiety, one or both of us may feel intense negative emotion for no apparent reason.  Once or twice we even made some phone calls to figure out who was worried and to ask them to please stop worrying so loudly. But most of the time my feelings arise from my own thoughts, and either through journaling or conversation, I can track them to the source.  Invariably this reveals I’ve been inadvertently moving away from something I want.  The negative emotions are a way for my true desires to get my attention:  “Hey buddy… remember me?  I’m still here, and I ain’t goin’ anywhere, so you’d better deal with me soon.” Feelings walkthrough Suppose I sit down to work one day, and I just can’t seem to get anything going.  I feel no passion for what I’m doing, the work on my plate seems really tedious, and I just don’t feel motivated to do anything.  Maybe I succumb to this pattern for a few days.  Then I feel even worse because I’m not getting anything done. In such situations I need to call a time-out and track those feelings back to the source.  Eventually I find the unacknowledged desire screaming at me:  “Hey, Steve.  You’re spending way too much time working alone.  You need to get out more.  You need to be around people more, not sitting at your desk all day.” So I acknowledge that desire and take a stab at coming into better alignment with it.  I think about being around people more, and I notice that just thinking about that feels better.  The next day I grab my laptop and drive down to the Las Vegas Strip to do some blogging there.  Overall I enjoy the day out.  This feels a little better to me, but I can tell I’m still not quite there yet.  There’s still this gnawing feeling of negativity that I’m missing something. Another round of introspection brings up more revelations:  “Nice try, Steve, but that wasn’t what I meant.  It’s great you got away from your desk, but a single trip to the Strip won’t cut it.  You can do better than that.” I give it some thought and say to Erin, “Let’s take a trip.  We’ve always talked about going to New York City, and this is a great time of year to do it.  So let’s just go next month.  We’ll find a way to make it work.”  We start planning a trip, and that feels even better.  I’m getting closer, but still no cigar. Back to the well to hear this:  “Getting warmer, buddy.  It’s great you got away from your desk, but this isn’t just about getting out.  You need to spend more time interacting with people face-to-face.”  So Erin and I begin planning a group meet-up during our New York City trip.  And that feels even better. Continuing to use feelings as feedback, I keep listening and taking action, noticing what works (positive feelings) and what doesn’t work (negative or neutral feelings).  And the pattern of the true desire begins to emerge:  “Spend more time connecting with people face-to-face and not just online.  Make that a regular part of my life.” As I keep making changes to bring myself into alignment with my true desires, my baseline emotional state becomes increasingly positive.  I join a second Toastmasters club.  I sign up for a speech contest.  I accept an invitation to do a local workshop.  I invite some friends over.  I start putting together a special mastermind group for a particular goal.  After a week or two of changes, I’m just beaming with positive energy because I’m becoming well aligned with my true desires. Eventually those negative feelings will return, indicating that yet another desire has surfaced that I must attend to.  Negative feelings are great — they’re an indication that I’m ready to manifest a whole new desire.  As soon as I recognize that, it’s pretty easy to get moving in the right direction, and it feels good to do so.  The universe will literally drop the appropriate opportunities right on my doorstep.  The phone will ring, or a friend will tell me about something at just the right time.  All I have to do is keep saying yes as long as it keeps moving me in the direction of more positive feelings.  Taking these steps is actually very easy because I’m simply following the breadcrumbs to more positive emotional states — it’s resisting the steps that’s hard. Negative feelings as a call to action Negative feelings mean you’re going the wrong way.  Your current reality is no longer a match for you, and it’s time to experience something new.  That’s a good thing, so don’t worry when you notice you’re feeling bad.  It just means you want something better or different.  So don’t whine about feeling bad.  Instead go into sleuth mode, and figure out why you’re feeling bad.  It’s because you want something new that you don’t yet have, and at the same time you’re stubbornly resisting what you want by failing to fully align yourself with it.  Don’t ignore your desires, or those negative feelings will only grow stronger and louder until you listen. Often what traps us in negative emotion is that deep down we know what we want, but we don’t think we can get it.  Sometimes we also don’t feel we deserve it.  So we tell ourselves maybe we shouldn’t want it.  Please don’t do that.  It never works.  You cannot NOT want what you want.  If you want it, you want it.  Trying to deny your desires is only going to piss you off.  You really need to do the exact opposite of that. Summoning the energy of desire When you want something, really want it.  Let that delicious feeling of desire permeate your entire being… until you’re almost ready to explode from the energy it creates.  Desire feels good.  This is how you get yourself aligned with what you want.  This is what activates the Law of Attraction to help manifest what you want.  This is also what activates your creativity and summons inspired action to help you get there even faster. What you want to summon here isn’t exactly a thought, a feeling, or an action.  Some people call it a vibration.  That’s pretty close to what it feels like.  To me it’s a sensation of being charged with positive energy.  Imagine drinking a cocktail made from one part lust, one part ecstasy, and three parts electricity.  That’s roughly what it feels like. Align yourself with your desires, and get out of the way The receiving/manifesting part isn’t up to us so much — our part is simply to admit what we really want, to hold that desire, and to move into alignment with it.  You will begin to feel good as soon as you start moving in the right direction, which starts with clarifying exactly what you want and then allowing yourself to want it. If you’ve been feeling bad lately, recognize that it’s because you want something you don’t currently have.  Want to feel even worse?  Try pretending you don’t really want it, assume you’ll never get it, or imagine you don’t deserve it.  Want to turn it around and feel fantastic?  Step fully and completely into that desire, and bask in the energy it summons. Feeling bad is a good thing You’re supposed to feel bad when new desires get activated — at least initially.  That emotional nudge is there to get your attention, so you’ll listen to what you really want and start heading in that direction. If you’re having trouble getting to the bottom of your negative feelings, even after trying journaling and/or a conversation with a close friend, take advantage of our free discussion forums, and allow other people to help you.  You can always use a made-up handle to disguise your true identity if you’re paranoid that someone might find out you’re human after all.  Tell people what you’re feeling and a little background on your current situation, and ask for help in backtracking it to the source. This doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.  When you move in the direction of your true desires — not the phony, socially conditioned ones – you will feel good.  It’s also relatively easy.  What makes it difficult is when we resist the notion of wanting what we want.  Instead of resisting our desires, we need to do the exact opposite — embrace them as fully and completely as we can.
    Jul 12, 2011 777
  • 12 Jul 2011
    A forum member recently shared the Carl Sagan quote, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  Sagan is credited with popularizing that slight rephrasing of an older quote by Marcello Truzzi:  “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” These quotes assume an objective universe, which is a rather biased way of looking at reality — and not particularly accurate.  In my opinion this viewpoint is misleading at best because it assumes that claims about reality are observed rather than created. What is proof anyway? Proof (or evidence) is an artifact of viewing reality through an objective lens.  However, proof is not a facet of actual reality.  Reality just is.  It does not need to be proven.  Reality is secure enough in its own existence that it doesn’t care whether some being proves or disproves what it is or provides evidence to support one theory or another.  If you think reality cares about proof, you could also say it derives a sick satisfaction from all the false evidence that’s been tendered in its name over the last few millennia. Instead of proof what we really want is truth.  And a good first truth to accept is that it’s only the squishy, lens-peering beings that require proof, which is actually a subjective experience. Experience vs. proof Since you cannot prove that objective reality actually exists, any proof you attempt to stack upon that assumption is merely a house of cards.  You can get some mileage out of that approach, but the whole stack always remains in doubt.  You can never feel 100% secure about statements that all trace back to a single, unprovable assumption.  So in terms of discovering ultimate truth, this path is necessarily a dead end.  It goes off track in the very first step. I’m not arguing that you can’t get some useful results from pursuing the lens of objective reality.  Certainly you can.  However, whenever we discuss proofs, we must not forget that we’re still dealing with a lens and not with reality itself.  To mistake the lens for reality is to make ourselves partially blind. If not proof, then what? Let me suggest a replacement for the quote Carl Sagan popularized: Extraordinary experiences require extraordinary creativity. Proving reality is nonsense.  Reality is not something you need to prove.  It will go right on existing with or without your permission.  Reality will only make your feeble attempts at proof look silly in the long run. Instead of trying to prove reality, see it as something you experience… something you help create.  Your involvement is to participate in the experience by expressing yourself creatively, not merely to passively observe.  You don’t need gravity to be proven to you.  Just experience it.  Create with it.  If you feel compelled to measure gravity, then measure with the intention of expanding your creative capacity. Proving subjective experience All experience is subjective, and subjective experience requires no proof. If I say to you, “I had a very interesting psychic experience the other day,” and you say, “I don’t believe in that stuff.  Prove it!” then I’ll politely excuse myself to locate a more interesting conversation partner.  In my view you’ve made a perfectly acceptable choice regarding the type of experience you wish to have in this reality, so who am I to run afoul of your creativity by trying to “prove” that what you’ve created is wrong?  Your decision is perfectly valid.  At the same time, I’ve chosen to welcome certain types of experiences that may not be compatible with your choices, so there isn’t much potential for an interesting conversation to develop around this topic, at least not one I’d care to pursue. On the other hand, suppose that after hearing that same statement from me, you reply, “Wonderful.  Tell me about it.”  Perhaps we’ll find that your creative energies and mine are in sync, and we can share a lot of cool ideas that will help both of us grow and expand.  This is exactly what happened when Erin and I first met.  Our first in-person conversation was about lucid dreaming, mostly with me asking her questions for two hours.  I’d never had a lucid dream before meeting her, and I didn’t even know it was possible for me, but through our conversation Erin showed me how to create that experience.  It wasn’t long before I had my first lucid dream, which lasted maybe 5 seconds.  Then I gradually improved from there.  Imagine missing out on all those incredible dream experiences because our conversation never made it past “prove it.”  Erin probably would have written me off as a hopeless nudnik and ran the other way. At its core, proof-seeking is rooted in fear, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.  What if I believe something that turns out to be false?  What if I make a mistake?  What if I stray too far from the herd? You don’t need social permission to pursue what genuinely interests you, no matter how “out there” it may seem.  Just enjoy the experience. Proof-seeking is a phony pursuit anyway.  Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, people will cling to their pre-existing beliefs for emotional reasons.  Have you ever met a truly logical person who lives based on proof?  Of course not.  But you’ll meet plenty of people who pretend to live this way.  A deeper glance at their lives will show that it’s far from a kingdom of reason. I’m sorry to disappoint those who ask me to prove the existence of lucid dreaming… or astral projection… or even how much income I earn.  Those people will be waiting a very long time because I don’t care to prove anything.  That would actually do people a disservice by feeding their fears instead of helping them move through their fears. Experience and create reality Experience your life.  Create your life.  But don’t waste your time and energy seeking proof.  If something interests you, then pursue it for the subjective growth experience.  Pursue, attract, and create the experiences you want to have.  Once you get into the habit of doing that, you’ll notice how much time and energy the proof-seekers expend chasing their own tails — and how fear-based that entire pursuit really is.
    1107 Posted by UniqueThis
  • A forum member recently shared the Carl Sagan quote, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”  Sagan is credited with popularizing that slight rephrasing of an older quote by Marcello Truzzi:  “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” These quotes assume an objective universe, which is a rather biased way of looking at reality — and not particularly accurate.  In my opinion this viewpoint is misleading at best because it assumes that claims about reality are observed rather than created. What is proof anyway? Proof (or evidence) is an artifact of viewing reality through an objective lens.  However, proof is not a facet of actual reality.  Reality just is.  It does not need to be proven.  Reality is secure enough in its own existence that it doesn’t care whether some being proves or disproves what it is or provides evidence to support one theory or another.  If you think reality cares about proof, you could also say it derives a sick satisfaction from all the false evidence that’s been tendered in its name over the last few millennia. Instead of proof what we really want is truth.  And a good first truth to accept is that it’s only the squishy, lens-peering beings that require proof, which is actually a subjective experience. Experience vs. proof Since you cannot prove that objective reality actually exists, any proof you attempt to stack upon that assumption is merely a house of cards.  You can get some mileage out of that approach, but the whole stack always remains in doubt.  You can never feel 100% secure about statements that all trace back to a single, unprovable assumption.  So in terms of discovering ultimate truth, this path is necessarily a dead end.  It goes off track in the very first step. I’m not arguing that you can’t get some useful results from pursuing the lens of objective reality.  Certainly you can.  However, whenever we discuss proofs, we must not forget that we’re still dealing with a lens and not with reality itself.  To mistake the lens for reality is to make ourselves partially blind. If not proof, then what? Let me suggest a replacement for the quote Carl Sagan popularized: Extraordinary experiences require extraordinary creativity. Proving reality is nonsense.  Reality is not something you need to prove.  It will go right on existing with or without your permission.  Reality will only make your feeble attempts at proof look silly in the long run. Instead of trying to prove reality, see it as something you experience… something you help create.  Your involvement is to participate in the experience by expressing yourself creatively, not merely to passively observe.  You don’t need gravity to be proven to you.  Just experience it.  Create with it.  If you feel compelled to measure gravity, then measure with the intention of expanding your creative capacity. Proving subjective experience All experience is subjective, and subjective experience requires no proof. If I say to you, “I had a very interesting psychic experience the other day,” and you say, “I don’t believe in that stuff.  Prove it!” then I’ll politely excuse myself to locate a more interesting conversation partner.  In my view you’ve made a perfectly acceptable choice regarding the type of experience you wish to have in this reality, so who am I to run afoul of your creativity by trying to “prove” that what you’ve created is wrong?  Your decision is perfectly valid.  At the same time, I’ve chosen to welcome certain types of experiences that may not be compatible with your choices, so there isn’t much potential for an interesting conversation to develop around this topic, at least not one I’d care to pursue. On the other hand, suppose that after hearing that same statement from me, you reply, “Wonderful.  Tell me about it.”  Perhaps we’ll find that your creative energies and mine are in sync, and we can share a lot of cool ideas that will help both of us grow and expand.  This is exactly what happened when Erin and I first met.  Our first in-person conversation was about lucid dreaming, mostly with me asking her questions for two hours.  I’d never had a lucid dream before meeting her, and I didn’t even know it was possible for me, but through our conversation Erin showed me how to create that experience.  It wasn’t long before I had my first lucid dream, which lasted maybe 5 seconds.  Then I gradually improved from there.  Imagine missing out on all those incredible dream experiences because our conversation never made it past “prove it.”  Erin probably would have written me off as a hopeless nudnik and ran the other way. At its core, proof-seeking is rooted in fear, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.  What if I believe something that turns out to be false?  What if I make a mistake?  What if I stray too far from the herd? You don’t need social permission to pursue what genuinely interests you, no matter how “out there” it may seem.  Just enjoy the experience. Proof-seeking is a phony pursuit anyway.  Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, people will cling to their pre-existing beliefs for emotional reasons.  Have you ever met a truly logical person who lives based on proof?  Of course not.  But you’ll meet plenty of people who pretend to live this way.  A deeper glance at their lives will show that it’s far from a kingdom of reason. I’m sorry to disappoint those who ask me to prove the existence of lucid dreaming… or astral projection… or even how much income I earn.  Those people will be waiting a very long time because I don’t care to prove anything.  That would actually do people a disservice by feeding their fears instead of helping them move through their fears. Experience and create reality Experience your life.  Create your life.  But don’t waste your time and energy seeking proof.  If something interests you, then pursue it for the subjective growth experience.  Pursue, attract, and create the experiences you want to have.  Once you get into the habit of doing that, you’ll notice how much time and energy the proof-seekers expend chasing their own tails — and how fear-based that entire pursuit really is.
    Jul 12, 2011 1107
  • 12 Jul 2011
    The reason I haven’t posted the New York City trip review yet is that I’ve been sick the past several days.  Erin and I co-wrote the review last week (about 6000 words), but I still need to add the photos.  I’ll have it online by the end of the week. This was a strange illness.  I had a mild cold near the end of the New York City trip, and I seemed to recover just fine.  That was the first illness I’ve had this whole year.  But several days later (this would be Mon, Oct 29), I woke up feeling terrible:  fever, nausea, headache, sore throat, and massive fatigue.  I finally dragged myself out of bed, made a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and then vomited it back up 20 minutes later.  (Unlike many partially digested foods, fruit smoothies still taste OK on the return trip — they’re just a bit warmer.)  Consequently, I’ve been out of commission for the past few days.  I’m feeling better today, and the fever has passed, but I still have a sore throat and feel a bit spacey. My initial reaction to being sick (twice in two weeks) was annoyance.  I had a busy week planned.  I tried to get a little work done but couldn’t concentrate well enough to do anything worthwhile.  At one point I got really confused trying to find a file folder I’ve accessed a hundred times before, only to realize I’d been looking in the wrong drawer.  This is why I haven’t done any blogging in the past week. Eventually I opted to give in and go with the flow.  So this week I mostly slept, meditated, and ate lots of raw fruits and veggies.  I also watched some old comedies, which always seems to help me feel better. During this illness my usual emotional regulators went completely offline.  While watching Young Frankenstein, I totally lost it when the monster was climbing the castle wall at the end.  It seemed like such a beautiful moment.  I felt like a Vulcan suffering from Bendii syndrome. One meditation I did gave me some intense insights that I’m still coming to terms with.  I realized I was hitting a lot of roadblocks when trying to go a certain direction, and this meditation allowed me to see why that was happening and that there was a far easier path I’d been completely overlooking.  Sometimes an illness acts like a spiritual head smacking. Another meditation went so deep that it actually slid into a lucid dream while I was sitting on the couch.  My conscious visualizations started giving way to a stream of unconscious imagery, and I could see I was beginning to enter a dream state.  I relaxed and went with it, and I slipped into a very vivid dream while still conscious.  That’s never happened to me before.  Previously lucidity had always been triggered while I was already in the dream state.  I’ll have to try that again sometime. I had some extremely deep and vivid nighttime dreams this week as well — the kind where it feels like I’ve spent days or weeks within the dream world.  Last night I dreamt I was kidnapped by some “terrorist” group and transported to a country in the Middle East, where I was held hostage.  I was allowed to move around within a small community and interact with the people there, but I couldn’t leave the country.  However, I still had my laptop computer and an Internet connection, and I was encouraged to blog about the whole experience.  I told my captors I’d cooperate on the condition that I would only post the truth — if they wanted me to post anything false or withhold anything true, they’d have to kill me first.  They agreed and said it was all they wanted.  I spent the next two months walking around, observing, talking to people, and writing.  Despite being a “hostage”, I never felt trapped because the joyful background buzz of awareness was still present everywhere.  It was just a matter of adapting to a new environment. This seemed like more than just a routine illness.  It’s like I was going through some kind of spiritual/emotional purging.  This sort of thing has happened to me a few times before.  In 2004 I had a string of nearly identical illnesses, always with the same symptoms.  Every time I would get some decent momentum going with my games business, I got sick and was down for a week.  It became really irritating.  I must have had about 10 fevers that year.  Eventually I stopped fighting and decided to turn within and do a lot of soul searching, since I didn’t have the energy to do much else.  That led to a major career transition with the launch of StevePavlina.com in late 2004.  Shortly after that the string of illnesses just ended.  Now I suspect I’m getting another knock on the door. I’m sure some people consider illness to be a purely physical, objective phenomenon caused by wee beasties.  I’m not one of those people… although I’m sometimes classified as one of the beasties. 
    706 Posted by UniqueThis
  • The reason I haven’t posted the New York City trip review yet is that I’ve been sick the past several days.  Erin and I co-wrote the review last week (about 6000 words), but I still need to add the photos.  I’ll have it online by the end of the week. This was a strange illness.  I had a mild cold near the end of the New York City trip, and I seemed to recover just fine.  That was the first illness I’ve had this whole year.  But several days later (this would be Mon, Oct 29), I woke up feeling terrible:  fever, nausea, headache, sore throat, and massive fatigue.  I finally dragged myself out of bed, made a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and then vomited it back up 20 minutes later.  (Unlike many partially digested foods, fruit smoothies still taste OK on the return trip — they’re just a bit warmer.)  Consequently, I’ve been out of commission for the past few days.  I’m feeling better today, and the fever has passed, but I still have a sore throat and feel a bit spacey. My initial reaction to being sick (twice in two weeks) was annoyance.  I had a busy week planned.  I tried to get a little work done but couldn’t concentrate well enough to do anything worthwhile.  At one point I got really confused trying to find a file folder I’ve accessed a hundred times before, only to realize I’d been looking in the wrong drawer.  This is why I haven’t done any blogging in the past week. Eventually I opted to give in and go with the flow.  So this week I mostly slept, meditated, and ate lots of raw fruits and veggies.  I also watched some old comedies, which always seems to help me feel better. During this illness my usual emotional regulators went completely offline.  While watching Young Frankenstein, I totally lost it when the monster was climbing the castle wall at the end.  It seemed like such a beautiful moment.  I felt like a Vulcan suffering from Bendii syndrome. One meditation I did gave me some intense insights that I’m still coming to terms with.  I realized I was hitting a lot of roadblocks when trying to go a certain direction, and this meditation allowed me to see why that was happening and that there was a far easier path I’d been completely overlooking.  Sometimes an illness acts like a spiritual head smacking. Another meditation went so deep that it actually slid into a lucid dream while I was sitting on the couch.  My conscious visualizations started giving way to a stream of unconscious imagery, and I could see I was beginning to enter a dream state.  I relaxed and went with it, and I slipped into a very vivid dream while still conscious.  That’s never happened to me before.  Previously lucidity had always been triggered while I was already in the dream state.  I’ll have to try that again sometime. I had some extremely deep and vivid nighttime dreams this week as well — the kind where it feels like I’ve spent days or weeks within the dream world.  Last night I dreamt I was kidnapped by some “terrorist” group and transported to a country in the Middle East, where I was held hostage.  I was allowed to move around within a small community and interact with the people there, but I couldn’t leave the country.  However, I still had my laptop computer and an Internet connection, and I was encouraged to blog about the whole experience.  I told my captors I’d cooperate on the condition that I would only post the truth — if they wanted me to post anything false or withhold anything true, they’d have to kill me first.  They agreed and said it was all they wanted.  I spent the next two months walking around, observing, talking to people, and writing.  Despite being a “hostage”, I never felt trapped because the joyful background buzz of awareness was still present everywhere.  It was just a matter of adapting to a new environment. This seemed like more than just a routine illness.  It’s like I was going through some kind of spiritual/emotional purging.  This sort of thing has happened to me a few times before.  In 2004 I had a string of nearly identical illnesses, always with the same symptoms.  Every time I would get some decent momentum going with my games business, I got sick and was down for a week.  It became really irritating.  I must have had about 10 fevers that year.  Eventually I stopped fighting and decided to turn within and do a lot of soul searching, since I didn’t have the energy to do much else.  That led to a major career transition with the launch of StevePavlina.com in late 2004.  Shortly after that the string of illnesses just ended.  Now I suspect I’m getting another knock on the door. I’m sure some people consider illness to be a purely physical, objective phenomenon caused by wee beasties.  I’m not one of those people… although I’m sometimes classified as one of the beasties. 
    Jul 12, 2011 706
  • 12 Jul 2011
    If you’re already on a stable or semi-stable career path, this article will help you determine whether your current career is really the right one for you, using a very simple assessment process. Career fulfillment defined What does it mean to have a fulfilling career?  Here’s how I would define it: A fulfilling career is an effective outlet for your creative self-expression that satisfies the following criteria: You are sustainably meeting your needs and increasing your ability to meet those needs with greater ease and abundance. You are working from your strengths and further developing those strengths into major talents. You are doing work you enjoy, and the overall enjoyment you derive from your work is increasing. You are making a meaningful positive contribution to others, and that contribution is increasing over time. Here are a few things I want you to notice about this definition: It follows the four-part model of body (needs), mind (skills), heart (desires), and spirit (contribution), as explained in many other articles on this site. It balances the logical, practical, emotional, and spiritual.  It recognizes that you must pay your bills and that a financially abundant career is better than abject poverty, but it also integrates the emotional needs for enjoyable work and meaningful contribution. The definition is entirely personal, meaning that it will apply differently to different people.  Your needs, skills, desires, and sense of contribution will be uniquely your own.  You can’t simply copy someone else’s approach and expect that it will work for you.  In this case modeling someone else too closely is a recipe for failure. It sets a high standard for genuine fulfillment, but in doing so, it can help you diagnose where you may currently be falling short.  It seems to do a good job of explaining why so many people don’t feel fulfilled in their careers, even if they’re experiencing relative success in one, two, or three of these areas. It is sustainable and synergistic.  Once you have all four of these areas in alignment, they tend to mutually support and enhance each other.  It may be difficult to get there, but it’s fairly easy to maintain.  When you’re working from your strengths, doing what you love, making a meaningful contribution, and abundantly meeting your needs, your skills, desires, purpose, and resources will all be working in harmony. To a certain degree, you can satisfy this definition at any point in your career if you’re on the right path.  When you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of money or skill, you can still do work you enjoy and help people, but you may need to do something on the side to pay the bills.  You may work as a retail sales clerk to make ends meet, while knowing that your real career path is to be a writer. Assess your current career Using the above definition as a guide, please take a moment to rate your current level of career fulfillment on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.  While it’s fine to assign a separate number for each of the 4 criteria, ultimately I want you to come up with a single overall rating.  Don’t continue reading until you settle on a specific number, not a range.  I’ll wait.  Now let’s take that number and run it through a certain transformation.  I promise this will be very simple.  If you picked a 9 or 10 (or higher), you’re golden.  You can keep that number as it is.  (If you did pick a 9 or 10, I would encourage you to share in the forums how you achieved such a fulfilling career.)  But if you picked anything other than 9 or 10, you’re a 1.  That’s right, you’re a 1. Am I saying this just to annoy you?  Is this some silly form of exaggeration to make a point?  Not this time — I’m being straight with you.  Let me ‘splain…. I want you to recognize that if you don’t have a deeply fulfilling career, then you don’t have a deeply fulfilling career.  Career fulfillment is a matter of core essence, not merely of degree or range.  Either you’re there, or you’re not.  A career that’s just OK, that you tolerate, or that you’re generally content with is NOT the same as a career that deeply fulfills you.  Not remotely.  You can’t take a so-so career and simply turn up the volume to become fulfilled.  You can’t take a career that’s a 7 and multiply it by 1.4286 to get a career that’s a 10.  The math may seem to suggest that, but a real-life career just doesn’t work that way.  The difference between a 7 career and a 10 career is fundamental and profound. Embracing your own fabulousness Consider the Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry as an example of someone’s outlet for creative self-expression.  Now it’s really up to Roddenberry himself to determine how effective an outlet that was for him personally, but from an external standpoint I think most people would be inclined to rate it a pretty clear 9 or 10, even if you’re not a Trekkie.  Now consider this.  Can you take a second-rate sci-fi series and turn it into something as powerful as Star Trek simply by turning up the volume (in a figurative sense).  Can you produce a long-term hit like Star Trek by throwing more money at it, adding cooler special effects, swapping in different actors, etc?  It would be extremely unlikely.  Star Trek possesses an ineffable quality that cannot simply be duplicated by trying harder.  Why?  Because the magic behind Star Trek was Roddenberry himself.  Obviously many others contributed to it, some in very big ways, but without Roddenberry, there is no Star Trek. Similarly, you are the Gene Roddenberry of your own career path.  Either your career is overflowing with your personal magic, or it isn’t.  Recognize that if you aren’t there yet, you aren’t there yet.  The wrong path is the wrong path.  The wrong path doesn’t suddenly turn into the right path around the next bend. A friend of mine, who seems pretty happy in his current career, calls this “embracing your own fabulousness.”  He said that people who are unhappy fail to recognize and embrace how fabulous they are, so they can’t express or share their fabulousness with others.  I completely agree. This is an area where it takes great courage to admit and accept the truth.  For most people it isn’t too difficult to admit that a 2 or 3 is essentially a 1, but it’s really hard to admit that a 7 is a 1.  In some ways it’s better to make the mistake of getting a job you know you hate vs. getting trapped in one you almost like. Your emotional journey vs. your physical journey The reason those 7s can be such a trap is that our emotions play tricks with us.  Our feelings seem to indicate that we’re close, but we still have a little ways to go.  Meanwhile all the exit signs indicate that if we pursue an exit strategy, we’ll end up feeling much worse, at least in the short term.  We appear to be stuck in a local maximum. However, when we actually do commit to leaving that 7 behind and get moving towards where we think the 10 may be, even if we must seemingly take a big step backwards (in income, status, security, etc), we usually feel better, not worse.  We experience relief, exhilaration, and freedom.  We feel very awake and fully present.  So the tricky part is that it’s easy to succumb to the illusion that movement away from a 7 would make us feel worse, when in reality it almost invariably feels much better. The irony is that when you leave behind a career that’s a 7, your emotional journey and your physical journey will usually be out of sync.  You might assume that messing with your income and job security is a bad thing that could easily turn your 7 into a 3 or less.  And from a purely physical standpoint, that may be true.  (I wrote about that process in How to Get From a 7 to a 10 if you’d like to explore it more deeply.)  But from an emotional standpoint, your 7 will almost immediately rise to an 8, 9, or 10 as soon as you get moving, even if your physical reality seems to worsen in the short term.  Even while your physical security may seem to decline, you’ll actually feel relieved to leave an unfulfilling job.  In this case your emotions are giving you the correct feedback, and it’s important to trust them.  While your physical journey may follow the path of 7-6-4-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-6-7-8-9-10, your emotional journey may be much more direct… perhaps closer to 7-8-9-10.  This comes as a surprise to most people. Trust your feelings When you are really on the right career path, you can actually be at an emotional 9 or 10 even while an objective observer might rate your physical and financial reality as a 1 or 2.  Trust your feelings!  If you keep trusting those 9 and 10 feelings, it won’t be long before your physical reality catches up. For example, when I started blogging, I didn’t make any money from it for the first several months.  My income declined significantly as I pulled out of computer game publishing.  From an objective standpoint, you could say my physical/financial progression went from an 8 to a 5.  But emotionally I went from a 6 to a 10 almost overnight.  That emotional 10 felt so good and so right that I knew it was only a matter of time before the external reality caught up to it, even though at the time I wasn’t sure how that would happen.  When we finally get on the right career path, the emotional shift can happen very quickly, but it takes the physical world a while to catch up.  In my case I had the feeling of abundance well before my finances began to reflect it. Accept the truth of your situation, no matter how difficult If I were to ask you if you currently have a fulfilling career, and your best answer is maybe, mostly, or sort of, then your honest answer is no.  Only a yes is a yes.  Anything less than a straightforward yes is a no.  In future articles I’ll help show you what to do with that no, but for now I just want you to accept that a non-yes is in fact a no and that even the best positive thinking won’t change that fact. When you see that you’re on the wrong career path, acknowledge to yourself that you’ve made a mistake.  Truth is truth.  If you aren’t gushingly fulfilled and deeply grateful for the work you do, accept how you feel.  It’s perfectly OK to be at that point.  It’s perfectly OK to feel bad about it too.  But it’s not OK to lie to yourself or to pretend that everything is OK when it isn’t.  You can play pretend in front of your boss and co-workers if you feel that’s necessary, but never be less than truthful with yourself in your private thoughts. Creating a fulfilling career may seem to require a lot of effort, but the real challenges are emotional and spiritual, not physical and financial.  The path from a no to a yes is largely an emotional journey.  It runs through fields of buried desires, self-esteem issues, and unexpressed values.  You will face many challenges along the way, none greater than facing your own fears.  Once you get there emotionally though, the practical challenges almost take care of themselves.  If you simply start taking steps to honor your desire for fulfillment – even if you aren’t physically there yet — it will feel good to do so. Don’t settle Don’t settle for the illusion of fulfillment.  Don’t settle for the temporary ego boost of making a sale, earning a title, or trying to please someone you don’t genuinely respect and admire when you know that deep down, when you’re by yourself and take time to reflect on your life, you still feel empty and unfulfilled.  You deserve better than this. You deserve to be fulfilled.  If it takes you a decade or more to get there, so be it.  The time will pass anyway, so invest it wisely.  There’s no limit on how many tries you get.  Just know that in your heart of hearts, you really want that 9 or 10, and no matter how much you try to deny it, the desire for creative self-expression still burns within you, and you will never be truly and deeply fulfilled until you have an effective outlet for it.
    736 Posted by UniqueThis
  • If you’re already on a stable or semi-stable career path, this article will help you determine whether your current career is really the right one for you, using a very simple assessment process. Career fulfillment defined What does it mean to have a fulfilling career?  Here’s how I would define it: A fulfilling career is an effective outlet for your creative self-expression that satisfies the following criteria: You are sustainably meeting your needs and increasing your ability to meet those needs with greater ease and abundance. You are working from your strengths and further developing those strengths into major talents. You are doing work you enjoy, and the overall enjoyment you derive from your work is increasing. You are making a meaningful positive contribution to others, and that contribution is increasing over time. Here are a few things I want you to notice about this definition: It follows the four-part model of body (needs), mind (skills), heart (desires), and spirit (contribution), as explained in many other articles on this site. It balances the logical, practical, emotional, and spiritual.  It recognizes that you must pay your bills and that a financially abundant career is better than abject poverty, but it also integrates the emotional needs for enjoyable work and meaningful contribution. The definition is entirely personal, meaning that it will apply differently to different people.  Your needs, skills, desires, and sense of contribution will be uniquely your own.  You can’t simply copy someone else’s approach and expect that it will work for you.  In this case modeling someone else too closely is a recipe for failure. It sets a high standard for genuine fulfillment, but in doing so, it can help you diagnose where you may currently be falling short.  It seems to do a good job of explaining why so many people don’t feel fulfilled in their careers, even if they’re experiencing relative success in one, two, or three of these areas. It is sustainable and synergistic.  Once you have all four of these areas in alignment, they tend to mutually support and enhance each other.  It may be difficult to get there, but it’s fairly easy to maintain.  When you’re working from your strengths, doing what you love, making a meaningful contribution, and abundantly meeting your needs, your skills, desires, purpose, and resources will all be working in harmony. To a certain degree, you can satisfy this definition at any point in your career if you’re on the right path.  When you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of money or skill, you can still do work you enjoy and help people, but you may need to do something on the side to pay the bills.  You may work as a retail sales clerk to make ends meet, while knowing that your real career path is to be a writer. Assess your current career Using the above definition as a guide, please take a moment to rate your current level of career fulfillment on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.  While it’s fine to assign a separate number for each of the 4 criteria, ultimately I want you to come up with a single overall rating.  Don’t continue reading until you settle on a specific number, not a range.  I’ll wait.  Now let’s take that number and run it through a certain transformation.  I promise this will be very simple.  If you picked a 9 or 10 (or higher), you’re golden.  You can keep that number as it is.  (If you did pick a 9 or 10, I would encourage you to share in the forums how you achieved such a fulfilling career.)  But if you picked anything other than 9 or 10, you’re a 1.  That’s right, you’re a 1. Am I saying this just to annoy you?  Is this some silly form of exaggeration to make a point?  Not this time — I’m being straight with you.  Let me ‘splain…. I want you to recognize that if you don’t have a deeply fulfilling career, then you don’t have a deeply fulfilling career.  Career fulfillment is a matter of core essence, not merely of degree or range.  Either you’re there, or you’re not.  A career that’s just OK, that you tolerate, or that you’re generally content with is NOT the same as a career that deeply fulfills you.  Not remotely.  You can’t take a so-so career and simply turn up the volume to become fulfilled.  You can’t take a career that’s a 7 and multiply it by 1.4286 to get a career that’s a 10.  The math may seem to suggest that, but a real-life career just doesn’t work that way.  The difference between a 7 career and a 10 career is fundamental and profound. Embracing your own fabulousness Consider the Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry as an example of someone’s outlet for creative self-expression.  Now it’s really up to Roddenberry himself to determine how effective an outlet that was for him personally, but from an external standpoint I think most people would be inclined to rate it a pretty clear 9 or 10, even if you’re not a Trekkie.  Now consider this.  Can you take a second-rate sci-fi series and turn it into something as powerful as Star Trek simply by turning up the volume (in a figurative sense).  Can you produce a long-term hit like Star Trek by throwing more money at it, adding cooler special effects, swapping in different actors, etc?  It would be extremely unlikely.  Star Trek possesses an ineffable quality that cannot simply be duplicated by trying harder.  Why?  Because the magic behind Star Trek was Roddenberry himself.  Obviously many others contributed to it, some in very big ways, but without Roddenberry, there is no Star Trek. Similarly, you are the Gene Roddenberry of your own career path.  Either your career is overflowing with your personal magic, or it isn’t.  Recognize that if you aren’t there yet, you aren’t there yet.  The wrong path is the wrong path.  The wrong path doesn’t suddenly turn into the right path around the next bend. A friend of mine, who seems pretty happy in his current career, calls this “embracing your own fabulousness.”  He said that people who are unhappy fail to recognize and embrace how fabulous they are, so they can’t express or share their fabulousness with others.  I completely agree. This is an area where it takes great courage to admit and accept the truth.  For most people it isn’t too difficult to admit that a 2 or 3 is essentially a 1, but it’s really hard to admit that a 7 is a 1.  In some ways it’s better to make the mistake of getting a job you know you hate vs. getting trapped in one you almost like. Your emotional journey vs. your physical journey The reason those 7s can be such a trap is that our emotions play tricks with us.  Our feelings seem to indicate that we’re close, but we still have a little ways to go.  Meanwhile all the exit signs indicate that if we pursue an exit strategy, we’ll end up feeling much worse, at least in the short term.  We appear to be stuck in a local maximum. However, when we actually do commit to leaving that 7 behind and get moving towards where we think the 10 may be, even if we must seemingly take a big step backwards (in income, status, security, etc), we usually feel better, not worse.  We experience relief, exhilaration, and freedom.  We feel very awake and fully present.  So the tricky part is that it’s easy to succumb to the illusion that movement away from a 7 would make us feel worse, when in reality it almost invariably feels much better. The irony is that when you leave behind a career that’s a 7, your emotional journey and your physical journey will usually be out of sync.  You might assume that messing with your income and job security is a bad thing that could easily turn your 7 into a 3 or less.  And from a purely physical standpoint, that may be true.  (I wrote about that process in How to Get From a 7 to a 10 if you’d like to explore it more deeply.)  But from an emotional standpoint, your 7 will almost immediately rise to an 8, 9, or 10 as soon as you get moving, even if your physical reality seems to worsen in the short term.  Even while your physical security may seem to decline, you’ll actually feel relieved to leave an unfulfilling job.  In this case your emotions are giving you the correct feedback, and it’s important to trust them.  While your physical journey may follow the path of 7-6-4-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-6-7-8-9-10, your emotional journey may be much more direct… perhaps closer to 7-8-9-10.  This comes as a surprise to most people. Trust your feelings When you are really on the right career path, you can actually be at an emotional 9 or 10 even while an objective observer might rate your physical and financial reality as a 1 or 2.  Trust your feelings!  If you keep trusting those 9 and 10 feelings, it won’t be long before your physical reality catches up. For example, when I started blogging, I didn’t make any money from it for the first several months.  My income declined significantly as I pulled out of computer game publishing.  From an objective standpoint, you could say my physical/financial progression went from an 8 to a 5.  But emotionally I went from a 6 to a 10 almost overnight.  That emotional 10 felt so good and so right that I knew it was only a matter of time before the external reality caught up to it, even though at the time I wasn’t sure how that would happen.  When we finally get on the right career path, the emotional shift can happen very quickly, but it takes the physical world a while to catch up.  In my case I had the feeling of abundance well before my finances began to reflect it. Accept the truth of your situation, no matter how difficult If I were to ask you if you currently have a fulfilling career, and your best answer is maybe, mostly, or sort of, then your honest answer is no.  Only a yes is a yes.  Anything less than a straightforward yes is a no.  In future articles I’ll help show you what to do with that no, but for now I just want you to accept that a non-yes is in fact a no and that even the best positive thinking won’t change that fact. When you see that you’re on the wrong career path, acknowledge to yourself that you’ve made a mistake.  Truth is truth.  If you aren’t gushingly fulfilled and deeply grateful for the work you do, accept how you feel.  It’s perfectly OK to be at that point.  It’s perfectly OK to feel bad about it too.  But it’s not OK to lie to yourself or to pretend that everything is OK when it isn’t.  You can play pretend in front of your boss and co-workers if you feel that’s necessary, but never be less than truthful with yourself in your private thoughts. Creating a fulfilling career may seem to require a lot of effort, but the real challenges are emotional and spiritual, not physical and financial.  The path from a no to a yes is largely an emotional journey.  It runs through fields of buried desires, self-esteem issues, and unexpressed values.  You will face many challenges along the way, none greater than facing your own fears.  Once you get there emotionally though, the practical challenges almost take care of themselves.  If you simply start taking steps to honor your desire for fulfillment – even if you aren’t physically there yet — it will feel good to do so. Don’t settle Don’t settle for the illusion of fulfillment.  Don’t settle for the temporary ego boost of making a sale, earning a title, or trying to please someone you don’t genuinely respect and admire when you know that deep down, when you’re by yourself and take time to reflect on your life, you still feel empty and unfulfilled.  You deserve better than this. You deserve to be fulfilled.  If it takes you a decade or more to get there, so be it.  The time will pass anyway, so invest it wisely.  There’s no limit on how many tries you get.  Just know that in your heart of hearts, you really want that 9 or 10, and no matter how much you try to deny it, the desire for creative self-expression still burns within you, and you will never be truly and deeply fulfilled until you have an effective outlet for it.
    Jul 12, 2011 736
  • 12 Jul 2011
    There many strategies you can use to select and plan a career path, but perhaps the two most basic patterns are bottom-up and top-down. Bottom-up career planning Bottom-up career planning means figuring out how you can best take advantage of the career building blocks you already possess.  It’s a low-level, objective method of planning. Perhaps the simplest form of bottom-up planning is when you pass a store window with a “Help Wanted” sign, and you apply for a job there because it’s available and because you think it’s a halfway decent fit for you.  A more complex method of bottom-up planning involves assessing your current needs (salary, hours, benefits, location) and qualifications (education, skills, experience) in order to figure out what line of work would best suit you.  Then you might create a resume and start looking for work based on what positions you feel qualified for, or you might go freelance and/or build a business around your capabilities.  In the back of your mind, you’re asking, “What kind of job should I get?” or “What kind of work am I qualified to do?” Bottom-up career planning is pretty much the de facto standard.  When people do any serious career planning at all, they almost always use a bottom-up strategy.  The very act of creating a resume is largely a bottom-up process. Have you ever taken one of those career assessment tests?  That’s also a bottom-up process.  In high school I took the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey, which is a lengthy multiple-choice test that’s supposed to help you determine what kind of career would best suit you.  It asks strange questions like, “Would you rather watch an opera, a political rally, or a fire?”  Then it compares your answers to those of various career professionals in its database.  The results tell you which careers are filled with people who think like you do, so I guess the assumption is that you’ll be happiest among your own kind.  It seemed a bit Brave New World-ish to me.  Incidentally, the top 3 matches the Kuder spit out for me were:  (1) computer programmer, (2) forester, and (3) math professor.  An unfortunate limitation of the Kuder is that it can’t recommend careers that don’t exist at the time of the test.  I suppose forester is pretty close to blogger though; they both keep the trees safe. After we got our results, I had a lot of fun ribbing an intelligent friend whose Kuder recommended bricklayer as his top career choice.  For all I know he’s probably building web server farms today. Top-down career planning Top-down career planning means getting in touch with who you really are at the deepest level (either soulfully or mentally, depending on your preference) and figuring out the best way to outwardly express and share that core value with the world.  This is a high-level subjective method of planning. A very simple form of top-down planning would be to say, “I really resonate with the concept of courage, so I’m going to make a career out of being courageous.”  But of course you can delve much deeper into your values, character, and other soulful attributes to come up with a more detailed career concept.  In the back of your mind, you’re asking, “Who am I really?” or “How can I best share my core, innate value with the world?” Top-down career planning is much less common than bottom-up.  Top-down is sometimes seen in artistic fields like music, art, and drama, but even then it’s rare to see it executed consciously.  For example, deciding to be a musician because you love music is still bottom-up.  Deciding to express peace because you recognize that the core of your being is perfect stillness would be top-down, and composing peaceful music would be one of many media you could use for that. Many people have done top-down exercises such as clarifying their values or writing a mission statement, but they rarely take the process far enough to actually develop those core ideas into a full-time career.  This is why you see people with mission statements like, “I want to use music to teach people unconditional love and compassion” who work in retail sales. Bottom-up vs. top-down career planning Bottom-up career planning starts with the practical, low-level, physical aspects of a career.  It regards things like salary, qualifications, security, perks, and potential for advancement as the most important elements to get right.  Once you have those things in place, it’s up to you to do the best you can to enjoy it. Top-down career planning starts with the high-level, spiritual and emotional aspects of a career.  It regards creative self-expression as the most important element to get right.  Once you have an outlet for creatively expressing the real you, you then work through the practical issues of developing your skills and generating income to meet your physical needs. Both strategies have their strengths and weaknesses, so a balanced approach seems wise.  I wouldn’t recommend applying both strategies with equal weight, however.  I think the best career planning combo would be about 80% top-down and 20% bottom-up. What would this 80-20 combo look like?  It means that you’d invest the bulk of your career planning efforts into figuring out who you really are, getting in touch with your core values, and deciding what it is you really want to express to the world.  The result of that would basically be a statement of purpose that deeply resonates with you.  Once you have this, you’re really 80% of the way there. For example, Erin knows that she’s all about compassion.  She’s very clear about that.  She knows that no matter what the physical form of her career looks like, it has to be centered around the expression of compassion.  Otherwise she wouldn’t be expressing her true self.  She’ll never be happy and fulfilled in a career that isn’t a strong fit for expressing and sharing compassion, regardless of her qualifications, how well it pays, or how otherwise perfect it seems.  Given that she knows this, she can continue with the top-down planning process to drill down into exploring different ways of expressing that, such as by blogging, offering intuitive readings, helping people in the forums, etc.  As soon as she got clear on the core value she needed to express, it wasn’t that hard for her to get the low-level pieces in order, including developing her skills via education and practice and finding a sustainable way to generate income from her work. When I first met Erin back in 1994, however, she was working as a secretary.  She held many secretarial positions before that too.  Why?  Mainly because she can type 90+ words per minute.  If she kept going with that bottom-up approach, she might have eventually progressed to being an executive assistant.  That would have been a great fit for her qualifications and experience, and it would have met her physical needs just fine, but secretarial work would have been a very weak outlet for expressing her core value of compassion.  Interestingly, her typing skills now serve her very well as a blogger. If you put bottom-up planning ahead of top-down planning, you’re putting the cart before the horse.  That approach just won’t yield the right level of clarity.  It’s not a good way to consciously build a fulfilling career.  It’s like looking at the ground to explore the stars. I see the results of excessive bottom-up planning in my email inbox every week.  People who center their career paths around their qualifications, skills, and salary requirements so often end up miserable — or at the very least disillusioned — even when they seem to be thriving from an objective standpoint.  It’s rough when people succeed in getting what they asked for, only to realize they asked for the wrong thing.  After 10-20 years, they’re dying inside while their souls are screaming for them to just stop and quit everything… invariably to move to a career that will serve as a better outlet for their creative self-expression. Just because you can do something and get paid well for it doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t confuse your medium with your message.  You’ll be much more fulfilled if you pursue a career that allows you to express your true self as fully as possible.  Then educate yourself, practice, and build your skills to get good at compatible forms of expression until you can abundantly satisfy your physical needs.  That may take some time, but if you’re really expressing your true self, the process should be fun and enjoyable. Your optimal career is simply this:  Share the real you with the physical world through the process of creative self-expression.  In order to do that, however, you must first discover the real you.  But it makes no sense to choose a medium for self-expression (i.e. a traditional career), such as being a doctor, writer, or entrepreneur, until you first determine what it is you’re going to express.
    808 Posted by UniqueThis
  • There many strategies you can use to select and plan a career path, but perhaps the two most basic patterns are bottom-up and top-down. Bottom-up career planning Bottom-up career planning means figuring out how you can best take advantage of the career building blocks you already possess.  It’s a low-level, objective method of planning. Perhaps the simplest form of bottom-up planning is when you pass a store window with a “Help Wanted” sign, and you apply for a job there because it’s available and because you think it’s a halfway decent fit for you.  A more complex method of bottom-up planning involves assessing your current needs (salary, hours, benefits, location) and qualifications (education, skills, experience) in order to figure out what line of work would best suit you.  Then you might create a resume and start looking for work based on what positions you feel qualified for, or you might go freelance and/or build a business around your capabilities.  In the back of your mind, you’re asking, “What kind of job should I get?” or “What kind of work am I qualified to do?” Bottom-up career planning is pretty much the de facto standard.  When people do any serious career planning at all, they almost always use a bottom-up strategy.  The very act of creating a resume is largely a bottom-up process. Have you ever taken one of those career assessment tests?  That’s also a bottom-up process.  In high school I took the Kuder Occupational Interest Survey, which is a lengthy multiple-choice test that’s supposed to help you determine what kind of career would best suit you.  It asks strange questions like, “Would you rather watch an opera, a political rally, or a fire?”  Then it compares your answers to those of various career professionals in its database.  The results tell you which careers are filled with people who think like you do, so I guess the assumption is that you’ll be happiest among your own kind.  It seemed a bit Brave New World-ish to me.  Incidentally, the top 3 matches the Kuder spit out for me were:  (1) computer programmer, (2) forester, and (3) math professor.  An unfortunate limitation of the Kuder is that it can’t recommend careers that don’t exist at the time of the test.  I suppose forester is pretty close to blogger though; they both keep the trees safe. After we got our results, I had a lot of fun ribbing an intelligent friend whose Kuder recommended bricklayer as his top career choice.  For all I know he’s probably building web server farms today. Top-down career planning Top-down career planning means getting in touch with who you really are at the deepest level (either soulfully or mentally, depending on your preference) and figuring out the best way to outwardly express and share that core value with the world.  This is a high-level subjective method of planning. A very simple form of top-down planning would be to say, “I really resonate with the concept of courage, so I’m going to make a career out of being courageous.”  But of course you can delve much deeper into your values, character, and other soulful attributes to come up with a more detailed career concept.  In the back of your mind, you’re asking, “Who am I really?” or “How can I best share my core, innate value with the world?” Top-down career planning is much less common than bottom-up.  Top-down is sometimes seen in artistic fields like music, art, and drama, but even then it’s rare to see it executed consciously.  For example, deciding to be a musician because you love music is still bottom-up.  Deciding to express peace because you recognize that the core of your being is perfect stillness would be top-down, and composing peaceful music would be one of many media you could use for that. Many people have done top-down exercises such as clarifying their values or writing a mission statement, but they rarely take the process far enough to actually develop those core ideas into a full-time career.  This is why you see people with mission statements like, “I want to use music to teach people unconditional love and compassion” who work in retail sales. Bottom-up vs. top-down career planning Bottom-up career planning starts with the practical, low-level, physical aspects of a career.  It regards things like salary, qualifications, security, perks, and potential for advancement as the most important elements to get right.  Once you have those things in place, it’s up to you to do the best you can to enjoy it. Top-down career planning starts with the high-level, spiritual and emotional aspects of a career.  It regards creative self-expression as the most important element to get right.  Once you have an outlet for creatively expressing the real you, you then work through the practical issues of developing your skills and generating income to meet your physical needs. Both strategies have their strengths and weaknesses, so a balanced approach seems wise.  I wouldn’t recommend applying both strategies with equal weight, however.  I think the best career planning combo would be about 80% top-down and 20% bottom-up. What would this 80-20 combo look like?  It means that you’d invest the bulk of your career planning efforts into figuring out who you really are, getting in touch with your core values, and deciding what it is you really want to express to the world.  The result of that would basically be a statement of purpose that deeply resonates with you.  Once you have this, you’re really 80% of the way there. For example, Erin knows that she’s all about compassion.  She’s very clear about that.  She knows that no matter what the physical form of her career looks like, it has to be centered around the expression of compassion.  Otherwise she wouldn’t be expressing her true self.  She’ll never be happy and fulfilled in a career that isn’t a strong fit for expressing and sharing compassion, regardless of her qualifications, how well it pays, or how otherwise perfect it seems.  Given that she knows this, she can continue with the top-down planning process to drill down into exploring different ways of expressing that, such as by blogging, offering intuitive readings, helping people in the forums, etc.  As soon as she got clear on the core value she needed to express, it wasn’t that hard for her to get the low-level pieces in order, including developing her skills via education and practice and finding a sustainable way to generate income from her work. When I first met Erin back in 1994, however, she was working as a secretary.  She held many secretarial positions before that too.  Why?  Mainly because she can type 90+ words per minute.  If she kept going with that bottom-up approach, she might have eventually progressed to being an executive assistant.  That would have been a great fit for her qualifications and experience, and it would have met her physical needs just fine, but secretarial work would have been a very weak outlet for expressing her core value of compassion.  Interestingly, her typing skills now serve her very well as a blogger. If you put bottom-up planning ahead of top-down planning, you’re putting the cart before the horse.  That approach just won’t yield the right level of clarity.  It’s not a good way to consciously build a fulfilling career.  It’s like looking at the ground to explore the stars. I see the results of excessive bottom-up planning in my email inbox every week.  People who center their career paths around their qualifications, skills, and salary requirements so often end up miserable — or at the very least disillusioned — even when they seem to be thriving from an objective standpoint.  It’s rough when people succeed in getting what they asked for, only to realize they asked for the wrong thing.  After 10-20 years, they’re dying inside while their souls are screaming for them to just stop and quit everything… invariably to move to a career that will serve as a better outlet for their creative self-expression. Just because you can do something and get paid well for it doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t confuse your medium with your message.  You’ll be much more fulfilled if you pursue a career that allows you to express your true self as fully as possible.  Then educate yourself, practice, and build your skills to get good at compatible forms of expression until you can abundantly satisfy your physical needs.  That may take some time, but if you’re really expressing your true self, the process should be fun and enjoyable. Your optimal career is simply this:  Share the real you with the physical world through the process of creative self-expression.  In order to do that, however, you must first discover the real you.  But it makes no sense to choose a medium for self-expression (i.e. a traditional career), such as being a doctor, writer, or entrepreneur, until you first determine what it is you’re going to express.
    Jul 12, 2011 808
  • 12 Jul 2011
    The essence of successful income generation is value creation.  If you want to earn income, you must provide something that matters enough to someone else that they’ll pay you for it.  The act of providing value may be direct, such as selling a useful product or service, or it may be indirect, such as providing a free service and monetizing it via other means.  But in either case the core activity is to create and deliver value to others. The notion that you generate income by trading value is a simple concept, but it’s amazing how many people still don’t get it.  Here are a couple examples of incorrect thinking about income generation that seem to trip up a lot of people: Mistake #1:  Meditating as an attempt to generate income. Every week I receive emails like the following: I don’t understand it.  Every day I am meditating, writing down my goals, visualizing what I want, and focusing on attracting abundance.  But I’m still not making enough money to cover my expenses.  In fact, I’m sinking deeper into debt each month.  I write in my journal.  I pray.  I read.  But nothing is working.  I’m at my wits’ end.  What am I doing wrong? It’s great to be working through your inner blocks.  I don’t want to suggest that kind of work isn’t important.  But inner work by itself is NOT an income-generating activity.  How are those actions providing value to others such that they’ll gladly pay you in exchange?  Journaling and meditation may have tremendous value for you personally, and I highly recommend you do them, but understand that they do virtually nothing for others.  Don’t expect to receive a paycheck for meditating. You may have done a great job of energetic house-cleaning, but if you want to generate income, that energy needs to flow into some form of value creation and delivery.  No value, no money. It’s like you’re looking at a fire (a metaphor for your financial problems), and you’re running around scrubbing the fire hoses, polishing the nozzles, and setting up a reverse-osmosis filter for the water supply.  Meanwhile the fire is continuing to burn, seemingly unimpressed by your elegant fire-suppression system. Turn on the freakin’ water! Stop cleansing, balancing, and saging your aura, and start directing your energy into the physical reality all around you.  If you do this correctly, your physical body will move — a lot!  You’ll be taking lots and lots of action.  You are a part of this world, and it’s time to recognize that your physical body is the primary mechanism through which financial abundance will manifest.  This is a key block you must still address.  Like it or not, if you want a physical result like cash in the bank, you’ll have to use physical mechanisms like your voice and your body to get things done.  I know it sucks compared to how things work in the astral realms.  Such are the vicissitudes of life in the physical plane. Ultimately physical abundance will manifest as the reflection of your physical contribution.  If you stay home all day playing with your chakras, you won’t be contributing much to physical reality.  Hence, you’ll go broke. Energetically there are a lot of different “manifestation frequencies” at play here.  Some, like those that can cause amazing synchronicities, tend to work in subtle ways and can take a long time to weave their way through the physical plane.  You’ll probably feel them working long before you see them working.  However, here in the physical universe, the fastest and most direct manifestation frequency is plain old physical action.  I encourage you to continue experimenting with other frequencies via the Law of Attraction, but if you resist embracing the frequency of physical action (which is the primary, dominant manifestation frequency in the physical realm), you’re in for a very long wait to get what you want. Direct physical action is not the only frequency available to you, just as a car isn’t your only choice of transportation.  However, there are abundant situations where physical action is the fastest and most direct way to get what you want, just as driving a car is often the fastest and most direct way to get where you want to go.  Direct action needn’t be the only tool in your bag, but overall it’s a pretty darned important one, equivalent to a hammer in a world filled with nails. A clean aura is certainly helpful, but unfortunately it won’t pay your bills. Mistake #2:  Focusing on getting money instead of providing value These emails take a variety of different forms, but the basic idea is that the person is trying to create an income stream without much, if any, concern for other human beings.  Here’s an example of the kind I often receive from fellow bloggers: I’ve put a ton of effort into trying to make money online, but something isn’t working.  I’ve posted hundreds of articles on my blog, and I keep adding stuff every week.  I’ve been using good headlines, stuffing articles with intelligent keywords, writing top 10 lists, and more.  I’ve experimented with Adsense ads, text link ads, affiliate programs, and other ways to make money.  At first my traffic started growing, but then I hit a plateau.  I’ve really tried to build a following, but I’m barely making any money from it.  What am I doing wrong? Your problem is simply this:  Who the hell cares? It may not look like it at first glance, but this is essentially the same problem as Mistake #1.  You’re too wrapped up in your own little world of me, me, me.  Where’s the value?  Articles, content, ads, and affiliate programs are not value.  Building a following is not value.  These are simply the means — the shell — for providing value. Too often that shell remains hollow, containing nothing but recycled and rehashed ideas that can readily be found elsewhere.  There’s no innovation or risk-taking.  Hundreds of others are already doing a better job performing essentially the same service you’re trying to perform.  Your service is comparatively useless.  It just isn’t needed.  You’re trying to milk a system instead of using that system to provide real substance. Recognize that if someone else created what you’ve created, you’d never patronize them.  You don’t care about the service you provide any more than your would-be visitors do. By focusing on trying to get money, you’re missing the point.  The point is to provide value to others.  This means serving people in a way they aren’t already being served, in a manner that aligns with your unique creative self-expression.  Share what only you can share.  Express what only you can express in the way that only you can express it. Even if your shell game business becomes financially successful for a while, it won’t last.  If you somehow find a way to make money providing little or no value, you can bet your market will soon be flooded with me-too wannabes.  The field will be sliced into tiny little pieces.  Meanwhile your spirit will be screaming at you to stop doing what you’re doing because it’s mind-numbingly boring, regardless of how much money you’re able to make from it. On some level you already sense where this focus will take you.  In the long run, trying to get money is a business model from hell.  It’s ironically more fun to fail at such an attempt than it is to succeed, and failure in this case is a lot healthier for your spirit. Try to look past your own needs and recognize there’s a pretty interesting world around you.  Through your actions you can have an impact on it, for better or worse.  Think about how you can provide something that people want or need in a way they aren’t already being served, something that will make a positive difference.  Then act on it. There are many more mental blocks of course, but these are the two most common I’ve been seeing in my inbox lately.  In both cases the solution is to get out of your head and focus on creating something of value for other people.  With a value-driven mindset, you’ll be properly centered on the very thoughts and actions that will produce a sustainable income stream.
    635 Posted by UniqueThis
  • The essence of successful income generation is value creation.  If you want to earn income, you must provide something that matters enough to someone else that they’ll pay you for it.  The act of providing value may be direct, such as selling a useful product or service, or it may be indirect, such as providing a free service and monetizing it via other means.  But in either case the core activity is to create and deliver value to others. The notion that you generate income by trading value is a simple concept, but it’s amazing how many people still don’t get it.  Here are a couple examples of incorrect thinking about income generation that seem to trip up a lot of people: Mistake #1:  Meditating as an attempt to generate income. Every week I receive emails like the following: I don’t understand it.  Every day I am meditating, writing down my goals, visualizing what I want, and focusing on attracting abundance.  But I’m still not making enough money to cover my expenses.  In fact, I’m sinking deeper into debt each month.  I write in my journal.  I pray.  I read.  But nothing is working.  I’m at my wits’ end.  What am I doing wrong? It’s great to be working through your inner blocks.  I don’t want to suggest that kind of work isn’t important.  But inner work by itself is NOT an income-generating activity.  How are those actions providing value to others such that they’ll gladly pay you in exchange?  Journaling and meditation may have tremendous value for you personally, and I highly recommend you do them, but understand that they do virtually nothing for others.  Don’t expect to receive a paycheck for meditating. You may have done a great job of energetic house-cleaning, but if you want to generate income, that energy needs to flow into some form of value creation and delivery.  No value, no money. It’s like you’re looking at a fire (a metaphor for your financial problems), and you’re running around scrubbing the fire hoses, polishing the nozzles, and setting up a reverse-osmosis filter for the water supply.  Meanwhile the fire is continuing to burn, seemingly unimpressed by your elegant fire-suppression system. Turn on the freakin’ water! Stop cleansing, balancing, and saging your aura, and start directing your energy into the physical reality all around you.  If you do this correctly, your physical body will move — a lot!  You’ll be taking lots and lots of action.  You are a part of this world, and it’s time to recognize that your physical body is the primary mechanism through which financial abundance will manifest.  This is a key block you must still address.  Like it or not, if you want a physical result like cash in the bank, you’ll have to use physical mechanisms like your voice and your body to get things done.  I know it sucks compared to how things work in the astral realms.  Such are the vicissitudes of life in the physical plane. Ultimately physical abundance will manifest as the reflection of your physical contribution.  If you stay home all day playing with your chakras, you won’t be contributing much to physical reality.  Hence, you’ll go broke. Energetically there are a lot of different “manifestation frequencies” at play here.  Some, like those that can cause amazing synchronicities, tend to work in subtle ways and can take a long time to weave their way through the physical plane.  You’ll probably feel them working long before you see them working.  However, here in the physical universe, the fastest and most direct manifestation frequency is plain old physical action.  I encourage you to continue experimenting with other frequencies via the Law of Attraction, but if you resist embracing the frequency of physical action (which is the primary, dominant manifestation frequency in the physical realm), you’re in for a very long wait to get what you want. Direct physical action is not the only frequency available to you, just as a car isn’t your only choice of transportation.  However, there are abundant situations where physical action is the fastest and most direct way to get what you want, just as driving a car is often the fastest and most direct way to get where you want to go.  Direct action needn’t be the only tool in your bag, but overall it’s a pretty darned important one, equivalent to a hammer in a world filled with nails. A clean aura is certainly helpful, but unfortunately it won’t pay your bills. Mistake #2:  Focusing on getting money instead of providing value These emails take a variety of different forms, but the basic idea is that the person is trying to create an income stream without much, if any, concern for other human beings.  Here’s an example of the kind I often receive from fellow bloggers: I’ve put a ton of effort into trying to make money online, but something isn’t working.  I’ve posted hundreds of articles on my blog, and I keep adding stuff every week.  I’ve been using good headlines, stuffing articles with intelligent keywords, writing top 10 lists, and more.  I’ve experimented with Adsense ads, text link ads, affiliate programs, and other ways to make money.  At first my traffic started growing, but then I hit a plateau.  I’ve really tried to build a following, but I’m barely making any money from it.  What am I doing wrong? Your problem is simply this:  Who the hell cares? It may not look like it at first glance, but this is essentially the same problem as Mistake #1.  You’re too wrapped up in your own little world of me, me, me.  Where’s the value?  Articles, content, ads, and affiliate programs are not value.  Building a following is not value.  These are simply the means — the shell — for providing value. Too often that shell remains hollow, containing nothing but recycled and rehashed ideas that can readily be found elsewhere.  There’s no innovation or risk-taking.  Hundreds of others are already doing a better job performing essentially the same service you’re trying to perform.  Your service is comparatively useless.  It just isn’t needed.  You’re trying to milk a system instead of using that system to provide real substance. Recognize that if someone else created what you’ve created, you’d never patronize them.  You don’t care about the service you provide any more than your would-be visitors do. By focusing on trying to get money, you’re missing the point.  The point is to provide value to others.  This means serving people in a way they aren’t already being served, in a manner that aligns with your unique creative self-expression.  Share what only you can share.  Express what only you can express in the way that only you can express it. Even if your shell game business becomes financially successful for a while, it won’t last.  If you somehow find a way to make money providing little or no value, you can bet your market will soon be flooded with me-too wannabes.  The field will be sliced into tiny little pieces.  Meanwhile your spirit will be screaming at you to stop doing what you’re doing because it’s mind-numbingly boring, regardless of how much money you’re able to make from it. On some level you already sense where this focus will take you.  In the long run, trying to get money is a business model from hell.  It’s ironically more fun to fail at such an attempt than it is to succeed, and failure in this case is a lot healthier for your spirit. Try to look past your own needs and recognize there’s a pretty interesting world around you.  Through your actions you can have an impact on it, for better or worse.  Think about how you can provide something that people want or need in a way they aren’t already being served, something that will make a positive difference.  Then act on it. There are many more mental blocks of course, but these are the two most common I’ve been seeing in my inbox lately.  In both cases the solution is to get out of your head and focus on creating something of value for other people.  With a value-driven mindset, you’ll be properly centered on the very thoughts and actions that will produce a sustainable income stream.
    Jul 12, 2011 635
  • 12 Jul 2011
    In order to develop a career that really suits you, it’s important to have a basic knowledge of your key strengths.  Unlike skills or knowledge you can acquire through education, your strengths are more basic talents.  For the most part you were born with them.  You can certainly continue to develop new talents, but in the area of your strengths you have an almost unfair advantage. Your strengths are things that come naturally and easily to you.  Your brain is just wired to be good at them.  You couldn’t really teach someone to be as good as you are unless they’re predisposed to have a strength in that area. Assess your strengths There are many tests you can take to help assess your personal strengths.  The one I recommend most is the Strengths Finder Test, which can be accessed online with a key from the books Now, Discover Your Strengths or Strengths Finder 2.0.  The test helps you identify your top 5 strengths with an emphasis on career-related abilities. I took this test more than a year ago.  The results for my top 5 strengths were, in order: Strategic – good at strategic thinking and planning. Input – can efficiently process and integrate large amounts of information. Learner – good at acquiring new knowledge and skills. Focus – able to concentrate well and tune out distractions. Significance – drawn to work on important things and avoid succumbing to trivialities. I wasn’t surprised by these results.  My strengths are predominantly mental as opposed to social or emotional. Understand your strengths Once you assess your strengths, it’s important to understand what they mean on a practical level.  What kinds of tasks are well-suited to you?  What kinds of tasks are a struggle for you? Because of my strengths, I’m very good at understanding and working with abstract concepts.  Contradictory or ambiguous information doesn’t faze me.  I see patterns where others see only complexity.  I’m also very good at making intelligent, strategically sound decisions.  This way of thinking comes naturally to me.  I don’t really know how I do it. Apply your strengths You’ll be happiest working in a career that allows you to take advantage of your strengths on a daily basis.  This will enable you to make a significant contribution to your field.  Based on my strengths, an ideal career for me would be one that leverages my strategic thinking ability and has me working on complex and meaningful challenges, especially in a field that people find complicated or confusing.  This suggests I could perform well as an entrepreneur, business consultant, writer, psychologist, theoretical physicist, mathematician, software designer, criminal profiler, and many other possibilities. Similarly, my core strengths also allow me to rule out careers that wouldn’t fit me too well, such as a professional athlete, salesperson, musician, or nightclub manager. I suggest you take at least one assessment test to gain clarity about your in-born strengths.  Working from your strengths will help you (1) be far more productive, (2) get better results, (3) contribute more value, (4) attract higher compensation, (5) enjoy your work, and (6) experience greater fulfillment. If you’d like to share other strength assessment tests you’ve found helpful, please share them in the forums.
    2355 Posted by UniqueThis
  • In order to develop a career that really suits you, it’s important to have a basic knowledge of your key strengths.  Unlike skills or knowledge you can acquire through education, your strengths are more basic talents.  For the most part you were born with them.  You can certainly continue to develop new talents, but in the area of your strengths you have an almost unfair advantage. Your strengths are things that come naturally and easily to you.  Your brain is just wired to be good at them.  You couldn’t really teach someone to be as good as you are unless they’re predisposed to have a strength in that area. Assess your strengths There are many tests you can take to help assess your personal strengths.  The one I recommend most is the Strengths Finder Test, which can be accessed online with a key from the books Now, Discover Your Strengths or Strengths Finder 2.0.  The test helps you identify your top 5 strengths with an emphasis on career-related abilities. I took this test more than a year ago.  The results for my top 5 strengths were, in order: Strategic – good at strategic thinking and planning. Input – can efficiently process and integrate large amounts of information. Learner – good at acquiring new knowledge and skills. Focus – able to concentrate well and tune out distractions. Significance – drawn to work on important things and avoid succumbing to trivialities. I wasn’t surprised by these results.  My strengths are predominantly mental as opposed to social or emotional. Understand your strengths Once you assess your strengths, it’s important to understand what they mean on a practical level.  What kinds of tasks are well-suited to you?  What kinds of tasks are a struggle for you? Because of my strengths, I’m very good at understanding and working with abstract concepts.  Contradictory or ambiguous information doesn’t faze me.  I see patterns where others see only complexity.  I’m also very good at making intelligent, strategically sound decisions.  This way of thinking comes naturally to me.  I don’t really know how I do it. Apply your strengths You’ll be happiest working in a career that allows you to take advantage of your strengths on a daily basis.  This will enable you to make a significant contribution to your field.  Based on my strengths, an ideal career for me would be one that leverages my strategic thinking ability and has me working on complex and meaningful challenges, especially in a field that people find complicated or confusing.  This suggests I could perform well as an entrepreneur, business consultant, writer, psychologist, theoretical physicist, mathematician, software designer, criminal profiler, and many other possibilities. Similarly, my core strengths also allow me to rule out careers that wouldn’t fit me too well, such as a professional athlete, salesperson, musician, or nightclub manager. I suggest you take at least one assessment test to gain clarity about your in-born strengths.  Working from your strengths will help you (1) be far more productive, (2) get better results, (3) contribute more value, (4) attract higher compensation, (5) enjoy your work, and (6) experience greater fulfillment. If you’d like to share other strength assessment tests you’ve found helpful, please share them in the forums.
    Jul 12, 2011 2355
  • 12 Jul 2011
    It’s time to share the results of the personal branding experiment from the previous post. I asked visitors to this website to submit 3 adjectives to describe me. I let it run for 2 days and received a total of 1,101 responses, which included more than 3,000 adjectives. First of all, a big thanks to everyone who participated. This experiment wouldn’t have been possible without you, so I really appreciate that you took a moment to send me your thoughts. As the responses started coming in, it didn’t take me long to realize I should have come up with a better way to capture all this data instead of having it all come via email. It would have been easier to analyze the results if set up a special feedback form to insert everything into a database. But fortunately that wasn’t a big deal. I figured out a good way to generate some interesting results. First, I exported all the replies for this experiment into a flat text file, and then I ran them through a word frequency analyzer to see which words came up most often. Finally I did some manual checks to make corrections for two-word phrases (i.e. open vs. open minded), to make sure common misspellings and language variations were still counted (i.e. successfull, inteligent, organised), and to double-check anything that seemed odd. An example of something that seemed odd was seeing the word “outside” in the results, which happened because people used it as part of ”outside the box” or “outside-the-box.” So I made these sorts of adjustments manually until I was satisfied. Overall it took me about two hours to produce the final results. You’ll see a lot of synonyms on this list. I decided not to combine any of them except in a few cases where a couple variations were essentially the same adjective (i.e. disciplined and self-disciplined). I was careful not to combine words that shared the same root but have different meanings, such as motivating and motivated. Here are the top 200 results. The number after each word shows how many people listed it (out of 1,101 responses total). 1. Smart (182) 2. Intelligent (175) 3. Honest (86) 4. (Self-)Disciplined (78) 5. Driven (59) 6. Helpful (57) 7. (Self-)Motivated (47) 8. Inspiring (46) 9. Insightful (45) 10. Focused (45) 11. Curious (41) 12. Positive (39) 13. Interesting (38) 14. Creative (38) 15. Open-minded (35) 16. Successful (33) 17. Experimental (31) 18. Determined (30) 19. Conscious (30) 20. Thoughtful (29) 21. Courageous (28) 22. Passionate (28) 23. Personal (27) 24. Caring (25) 25. Organized (25) 26. Confident (24) 27. Independent (24) 28. Generous (23) 29. Funny (22) 30. Growth-oriented (21) 31. Dedicated (20) 32. Inspirational (20) 33. Thorough (19) 34. Innovative (19) 35. (Self-)Aware (18) 36. Open (18) 37. Geek(y) (18) 38. Ambitious (17) 39. Vegan (17) 40. Practical (17) 41. Nerd(y) (16) 42. Logical (16) 43. Adventurous (15) 44. Good (15) 45. Analytical (15) 46. Entrepreneur(ial) (15) 47. Wise (15) 48. Crazy (14) 49. Spiritual (14) 50. Hard-working (14) 51. New age(y) (14) 52. Persistent (14) 53. Inquisitive (13) 54. Deep (13) 55. Clever (13) 56. Kind (13) 57. Happy (13) 58. Enthusiastic (13) 59. Brave (13) 60. Weird (13) 61. Genuine (12) 62. Sincere (12) 63. Committed (12) 64. Proactive (12) 65. Witty (12) 66. Energetic (12) 67. Knowledgeable (12) 68. Unique (11) 69. Giving (11) 70. Arrogant (11) 71. Intuitive (11) 72. Friendly (11) 73. Compassionate (11) 74. Great (11) 75. Articulate (10) 76. Intellectual (10) 77. Thought-provoking (10) 78. Detailed (10) 79. Humorous (10) 80. Productive (10) 81. Thinking (9) 82. Thinker (9) 83. Prolific (9) 84. Loving (9) 85. Clear (9) 86. Original (9) 87. Best (8) 88. Different (8) 89. Active (8) 90. Goal-oriented (8) 91. Industrious (8) 92. Enlightened (8) 93. Brilliant (8) 94. Quirky (8) 95. Eccentric (8) 96. Rich (8) 97. Unconventional (8) 98. Purposeful (8) 99. Growing (7) 100. Inspired (7) 101. Informative (7) 102. Meticulous (7) 103. Sharing (7) 104. Straight (7) 105. Integrity (7) 106. Efficient (7) 107. Healthy (7) 108. Bold (7) 109. Intense (7) 110. Nice (7) 111. Methodical (7) 112. Straightforward (7) 113. Rational (7) 114. Free (6) 115. Writer (6) 116. Optimistic (6) 117. Influential (6) 118. Evolved (6) 119. Diligent (6) 120. Odd (6) 121. Motivating (6) 122. Outside-the-box (6) 123. Challenging (6) 124. Bright (6) 125. Centered (6) 126. Intriguing (5) 127. Authentic (5) 128. Consistent (5) 129. Obsessive (5) 130. Truth (5) 131. American (5) 132. Outgoing (5) 133. Fun (5) 134. Introspective (5) 135. Progressive (5) 136. Real (5) 137. Simple (5) 138. Opinionated (5) 139. Guru (5) 140. Work-centered (5) 141. Experienced (5) 142. Friend (5) 143. Eloquent (4) 144. Balanced (4) 145. Unusual (4) 146. Contemplative (4) 147. Broad (4) 148. Serious (4) 149. Assertive (4) 150. Lucid (4) 151. Important (4) 152. Awesome (4) 153. Free-thinker (4) 154. Worthwhile (4) 155. Calm (4) 156. Inspiration (4) 157. Human (4) 158. Leader (4) 159. Searching (4) 160. Conceited (4) 161. Expert (4) 162. Systematic (4) 163. Precise (4) 164. Effective (4) 165. Earnest (4) 166. Wealthy (4) 167. Teacher (4) 168. Communicative (4) 169. Trustworthy (4) 170. Pragmatic (4) 171. Special (4) 172. Eclectic (4) 173. Interested (4) 174. Extreme (4) 175. Fearless (4) 176. Strong-willed (4) 177. Savvy (4) 178. Cool (4) 179. Risk-taking (3) 180. Relaxed (3) 181. Powerful (3) 182. Helping (3) 183. Seeker (3) 184. Valuable (3) 185. Entertaining (3) 186. Imaginative (3) 187. Motivational (3) 188. Gifted (3) 189. Genius (3) 190. Reflective (3) 191. Goofy (3) 192. Transparent (3) 193. Professional (3) 194. Shrewd (3) 195. Dynamic (3) 196. Amusing (3) 197. Strategic (3) 198. Connected (3) 199. Strong (3) 200. Encouraging (3) Now for some observations… I’ll do my best to share my thoughts without sounding too conceited (#160) or goofy (#191), but it’s more important for me to be honest (#3), open (#36), and insightful (#9). First of all, everyone is correct because branding is something that exists only in other people’s minds. So whatever anyone wrote is true for them. Overall I didn’t find these results too surprising. I’ve been getting lots of feedback for years, so I already had a good general idea of how people branded me. The top pick (smart) makes sense because it appears at the top of every page of this site, and the #2 word is just a synonym for that. What struck me immediately was the ”long tail” of results for this experiment, with many words only used by 1 or 2 people. The #1 pick was only used by 1 in 6 people. There was no single word or phrase that a majority agreed on. One potential cause is that people typically enter this site by landing on one of the article pages first (such as through a link on another site or from a search engine), so there are hundreds of different pages that offer people their first impression. This reveals that in some ways I don’t have a crystal-clear brand. It means different things to different people. While some branding experts might see that as a negative, I think it’s actually good. To me this indicates I’m doing a reasonable job of expressing myself as I am instead of promoting a false image that everyone can agree on but which isn’t real. It also suggests that people only see a limited slice of the real me in any article. This list might actually be very useful to me down the road, since it gives me a pretty good sense of people’s expectations of me. For example, I could hand this list to my book publisher so that when they design the book cover, it’s consistent with how I’m already perceived. A book cover with a photo of me sitting cross-legged in a flowery meadow with a butterfly resting on my finger probably wouldn’t be such a good fit. Another example: If I were to hire a web developer to redesign this website, I could hand them the list above and say, “I need a design that reflects this branding reasonably well.” I could simplify the list of course, but I’m sure you get the idea. If a redesign doesn’t fit the previous brand, it would send a confusing message to long-term visitors. Some terms I found interesting were: geeky/nerdy – It’s nice to see that side of me is coming through. crazy/weird/quirky/odd/eccentric – I predicted in the last post I’d see some of these. No surprise there. successful/rich/wealthy – It was strange to see that people think of me as rich, since I don’t normally think of myself that way. I think of money more in terms of ongoing flow, where these terms suggest an acquisition mindset. The word successful can mean different things to different people of course, but I included it here because many people equate it with financial or business success. I can’t deny that blogging has been good to me though. interesting/influential/entertaining/intriguing – This makes sense, since some people read this website because they find the content interesting. vegan/healthy – This could be inflated a little due to the recent 30-day raw food diet trial, but it was interesting to see that some people brand me in terms of my diet. American – About half the visitors to this site are outside the USA, so it makes sense that this term would show up. A couple people even included Vegas in their response (not among the top 200 results), so I guess I picked up a bit of branding from my city as well. writer/teacher/eloquent/articulate/prolific/professional – It was interesting to see that blogger didn’t make the top 200, but writer and teacher did. A couple people also submitted wordy. Guilty as charged on that one. straight – This one surprised me, and I had to double check that it wasn’t part of a multi-word combo like “straight forward.” I don’t know if this was intended as a synonym for direct (i.e. “tell it to me straight”) or if I’m being branded for my sexual preferences. simple – I’m not sure what this one means. Does it mean I simplify things? That I live a simple life? That I’m simplistic? That my website is simple in its design? That my writing is easy to read? free – This could mean that people see me as expressing freedom, or they associate me with providing free content (or both). funny/fun/witty/humorous/amusing/goofy – This is a good reflection of what I’m like in person. Even when working on a business deal, I like to joke around with people a lot. I don’t enjoy working with people who don’t have a sense of humor. good/great/best/awesome/cool – Apparently some of my readers need a bigger vocabulary. Some items on this list seem a bit contradictory (i.e. practical-crazy), but for the most part they’re fairly consistent, and where there are contradictions, that’s because they’re reflections of different sides of the real me. I found it really interesting to see different threads of ideas weaving through the list. I can see elements of my intellectual side, my entrepreneurial side, my purpose to help people grow, my fun-loving side, elements from various articles, my diet, my attitude, and so on. I imagine this list has to be somewhat biased toward the positive side because it seems unlikely that those who’ve negatively branded me would still be visiting this site regularly. One thing I noticed was that when somewhat negative terms showed up, they were usually combined with two positives. Actual submitted examples include “interesting, fantastic, arrogant” and “prolific, conceited, ambitious.” I have to admit it was very unsettling to see such a long list of words that other people used to describe me. Even though the vast majority were positive, I feel like I’ve just been through a public dissection. I was actually surprised that I felt this way. What’s really unsettling about this — the most disturbing part of all — is that when I look at this list, I’m forced to admit it’s more accurate than anything I could have written myself. Each person only submitted a few words, but the final result represents the collective beliefs of 1,101 people. It’s like everyone held a piece to the puzzle, and when all those pieces were assembled, the final picture is unbelievably close to the real me. I expected the results to be reasonably accurate because I share so much of myself on this website, but I figured they’d ultimately be skewed in some way. After all, the vast majority of people who participated in this experiment have never met me face-to-face, so in most cases all they know about me comes from online interactions such as reading my articles, participating in the forums, or connecting via email. So how could that possibly give people a complete and accurate impression of the real me? Perhaps for any given individual, it can’t. But when everyone puts their individual pieces together, the collective result is just amazing. There may be a lot of value in running similar experiments, not on personal branding but to find other ways to put your collective wisdom to the test. What do you think about various world leaders or current political candidates? What are the best cities in the world to visit? How do you collectively see yourselves (the group consciousness)? What would you like to see us test? But perhaps the #1 benefit of running this experiment is that Erin will never be able to win another argument with me again. Steve: Sorry, Erin… 86 people will verify I’m telling the truth, so you’ll have to take it up with them. 30 also believe I’m determined, so I’m afraid you can’t win. Erin: That’s not funny! Steve: 22 people say otherwise. Erin: Oy vey. Kill me now. Steve: Don’t worry. 25 people say I’m caring, so I still love you. If you don’t see any new blog posts for a week, please call for help…
    895 Posted by UniqueThis
  • It’s time to share the results of the personal branding experiment from the previous post. I asked visitors to this website to submit 3 adjectives to describe me. I let it run for 2 days and received a total of 1,101 responses, which included more than 3,000 adjectives. First of all, a big thanks to everyone who participated. This experiment wouldn’t have been possible without you, so I really appreciate that you took a moment to send me your thoughts. As the responses started coming in, it didn’t take me long to realize I should have come up with a better way to capture all this data instead of having it all come via email. It would have been easier to analyze the results if set up a special feedback form to insert everything into a database. But fortunately that wasn’t a big deal. I figured out a good way to generate some interesting results. First, I exported all the replies for this experiment into a flat text file, and then I ran them through a word frequency analyzer to see which words came up most often. Finally I did some manual checks to make corrections for two-word phrases (i.e. open vs. open minded), to make sure common misspellings and language variations were still counted (i.e. successfull, inteligent, organised), and to double-check anything that seemed odd. An example of something that seemed odd was seeing the word “outside” in the results, which happened because people used it as part of ”outside the box” or “outside-the-box.” So I made these sorts of adjustments manually until I was satisfied. Overall it took me about two hours to produce the final results. You’ll see a lot of synonyms on this list. I decided not to combine any of them except in a few cases where a couple variations were essentially the same adjective (i.e. disciplined and self-disciplined). I was careful not to combine words that shared the same root but have different meanings, such as motivating and motivated. Here are the top 200 results. The number after each word shows how many people listed it (out of 1,101 responses total). 1. Smart (182) 2. Intelligent (175) 3. Honest (86) 4. (Self-)Disciplined (78) 5. Driven (59) 6. Helpful (57) 7. (Self-)Motivated (47) 8. Inspiring (46) 9. Insightful (45) 10. Focused (45) 11. Curious (41) 12. Positive (39) 13. Interesting (38) 14. Creative (38) 15. Open-minded (35) 16. Successful (33) 17. Experimental (31) 18. Determined (30) 19. Conscious (30) 20. Thoughtful (29) 21. Courageous (28) 22. Passionate (28) 23. Personal (27) 24. Caring (25) 25. Organized (25) 26. Confident (24) 27. Independent (24) 28. Generous (23) 29. Funny (22) 30. Growth-oriented (21) 31. Dedicated (20) 32. Inspirational (20) 33. Thorough (19) 34. Innovative (19) 35. (Self-)Aware (18) 36. Open (18) 37. Geek(y) (18) 38. Ambitious (17) 39. Vegan (17) 40. Practical (17) 41. Nerd(y) (16) 42. Logical (16) 43. Adventurous (15) 44. Good (15) 45. Analytical (15) 46. Entrepreneur(ial) (15) 47. Wise (15) 48. Crazy (14) 49. Spiritual (14) 50. Hard-working (14) 51. New age(y) (14) 52. Persistent (14) 53. Inquisitive (13) 54. Deep (13) 55. Clever (13) 56. Kind (13) 57. Happy (13) 58. Enthusiastic (13) 59. Brave (13) 60. Weird (13) 61. Genuine (12) 62. Sincere (12) 63. Committed (12) 64. Proactive (12) 65. Witty (12) 66. Energetic (12) 67. Knowledgeable (12) 68. Unique (11) 69. Giving (11) 70. Arrogant (11) 71. Intuitive (11) 72. Friendly (11) 73. Compassionate (11) 74. Great (11) 75. Articulate (10) 76. Intellectual (10) 77. Thought-provoking (10) 78. Detailed (10) 79. Humorous (10) 80. Productive (10) 81. Thinking (9) 82. Thinker (9) 83. Prolific (9) 84. Loving (9) 85. Clear (9) 86. Original (9) 87. Best (8) 88. Different (8) 89. Active (8) 90. Goal-oriented (8) 91. Industrious (8) 92. Enlightened (8) 93. Brilliant (8) 94. Quirky (8) 95. Eccentric (8) 96. Rich (8) 97. Unconventional (8) 98. Purposeful (8) 99. Growing (7) 100. Inspired (7) 101. Informative (7) 102. Meticulous (7) 103. Sharing (7) 104. Straight (7) 105. Integrity (7) 106. Efficient (7) 107. Healthy (7) 108. Bold (7) 109. Intense (7) 110. Nice (7) 111. Methodical (7) 112. Straightforward (7) 113. Rational (7) 114. Free (6) 115. Writer (6) 116. Optimistic (6) 117. Influential (6) 118. Evolved (6) 119. Diligent (6) 120. Odd (6) 121. Motivating (6) 122. Outside-the-box (6) 123. Challenging (6) 124. Bright (6) 125. Centered (6) 126. Intriguing (5) 127. Authentic (5) 128. Consistent (5) 129. Obsessive (5) 130. Truth (5) 131. American (5) 132. Outgoing (5) 133. Fun (5) 134. Introspective (5) 135. Progressive (5) 136. Real (5) 137. Simple (5) 138. Opinionated (5) 139. Guru (5) 140. Work-centered (5) 141. Experienced (5) 142. Friend (5) 143. Eloquent (4) 144. Balanced (4) 145. Unusual (4) 146. Contemplative (4) 147. Broad (4) 148. Serious (4) 149. Assertive (4) 150. Lucid (4) 151. Important (4) 152. Awesome (4) 153. Free-thinker (4) 154. Worthwhile (4) 155. Calm (4) 156. Inspiration (4) 157. Human (4) 158. Leader (4) 159. Searching (4) 160. Conceited (4) 161. Expert (4) 162. Systematic (4) 163. Precise (4) 164. Effective (4) 165. Earnest (4) 166. Wealthy (4) 167. Teacher (4) 168. Communicative (4) 169. Trustworthy (4) 170. Pragmatic (4) 171. Special (4) 172. Eclectic (4) 173. Interested (4) 174. Extreme (4) 175. Fearless (4) 176. Strong-willed (4) 177. Savvy (4) 178. Cool (4) 179. Risk-taking (3) 180. Relaxed (3) 181. Powerful (3) 182. Helping (3) 183. Seeker (3) 184. Valuable (3) 185. Entertaining (3) 186. Imaginative (3) 187. Motivational (3) 188. Gifted (3) 189. Genius (3) 190. Reflective (3) 191. Goofy (3) 192. Transparent (3) 193. Professional (3) 194. Shrewd (3) 195. Dynamic (3) 196. Amusing (3) 197. Strategic (3) 198. Connected (3) 199. Strong (3) 200. Encouraging (3) Now for some observations… I’ll do my best to share my thoughts without sounding too conceited (#160) or goofy (#191), but it’s more important for me to be honest (#3), open (#36), and insightful (#9). First of all, everyone is correct because branding is something that exists only in other people’s minds. So whatever anyone wrote is true for them. Overall I didn’t find these results too surprising. I’ve been getting lots of feedback for years, so I already had a good general idea of how people branded me. The top pick (smart) makes sense because it appears at the top of every page of this site, and the #2 word is just a synonym for that. What struck me immediately was the ”long tail” of results for this experiment, with many words only used by 1 or 2 people. The #1 pick was only used by 1 in 6 people. There was no single word or phrase that a majority agreed on. One potential cause is that people typically enter this site by landing on one of the article pages first (such as through a link on another site or from a search engine), so there are hundreds of different pages that offer people their first impression. This reveals that in some ways I don’t have a crystal-clear brand. It means different things to different people. While some branding experts might see that as a negative, I think it’s actually good. To me this indicates I’m doing a reasonable job of expressing myself as I am instead of promoting a false image that everyone can agree on but which isn’t real. It also suggests that people only see a limited slice of the real me in any article. This list might actually be very useful to me down the road, since it gives me a pretty good sense of people’s expectations of me. For example, I could hand this list to my book publisher so that when they design the book cover, it’s consistent with how I’m already perceived. A book cover with a photo of me sitting cross-legged in a flowery meadow with a butterfly resting on my finger probably wouldn’t be such a good fit. Another example: If I were to hire a web developer to redesign this website, I could hand them the list above and say, “I need a design that reflects this branding reasonably well.” I could simplify the list of course, but I’m sure you get the idea. If a redesign doesn’t fit the previous brand, it would send a confusing message to long-term visitors. Some terms I found interesting were: geeky/nerdy – It’s nice to see that side of me is coming through. crazy/weird/quirky/odd/eccentric – I predicted in the last post I’d see some of these. No surprise there. successful/rich/wealthy – It was strange to see that people think of me as rich, since I don’t normally think of myself that way. I think of money more in terms of ongoing flow, where these terms suggest an acquisition mindset. The word successful can mean different things to different people of course, but I included it here because many people equate it with financial or business success. I can’t deny that blogging has been good to me though. interesting/influential/entertaining/intriguing – This makes sense, since some people read this website because they find the content interesting. vegan/healthy – This could be inflated a little due to the recent 30-day raw food diet trial, but it was interesting to see that some people brand me in terms of my diet. American – About half the visitors to this site are outside the USA, so it makes sense that this term would show up. A couple people even included Vegas in their response (not among the top 200 results), so I guess I picked up a bit of branding from my city as well. writer/teacher/eloquent/articulate/prolific/professional – It was interesting to see that blogger didn’t make the top 200, but writer and teacher did. A couple people also submitted wordy. Guilty as charged on that one. straight – This one surprised me, and I had to double check that it wasn’t part of a multi-word combo like “straight forward.” I don’t know if this was intended as a synonym for direct (i.e. “tell it to me straight”) or if I’m being branded for my sexual preferences. simple – I’m not sure what this one means. Does it mean I simplify things? That I live a simple life? That I’m simplistic? That my website is simple in its design? That my writing is easy to read? free – This could mean that people see me as expressing freedom, or they associate me with providing free content (or both). funny/fun/witty/humorous/amusing/goofy – This is a good reflection of what I’m like in person. Even when working on a business deal, I like to joke around with people a lot. I don’t enjoy working with people who don’t have a sense of humor. good/great/best/awesome/cool – Apparently some of my readers need a bigger vocabulary. Some items on this list seem a bit contradictory (i.e. practical-crazy), but for the most part they’re fairly consistent, and where there are contradictions, that’s because they’re reflections of different sides of the real me. I found it really interesting to see different threads of ideas weaving through the list. I can see elements of my intellectual side, my entrepreneurial side, my purpose to help people grow, my fun-loving side, elements from various articles, my diet, my attitude, and so on. I imagine this list has to be somewhat biased toward the positive side because it seems unlikely that those who’ve negatively branded me would still be visiting this site regularly. One thing I noticed was that when somewhat negative terms showed up, they were usually combined with two positives. Actual submitted examples include “interesting, fantastic, arrogant” and “prolific, conceited, ambitious.” I have to admit it was very unsettling to see such a long list of words that other people used to describe me. Even though the vast majority were positive, I feel like I’ve just been through a public dissection. I was actually surprised that I felt this way. What’s really unsettling about this — the most disturbing part of all — is that when I look at this list, I’m forced to admit it’s more accurate than anything I could have written myself. Each person only submitted a few words, but the final result represents the collective beliefs of 1,101 people. It’s like everyone held a piece to the puzzle, and when all those pieces were assembled, the final picture is unbelievably close to the real me. I expected the results to be reasonably accurate because I share so much of myself on this website, but I figured they’d ultimately be skewed in some way. After all, the vast majority of people who participated in this experiment have never met me face-to-face, so in most cases all they know about me comes from online interactions such as reading my articles, participating in the forums, or connecting via email. So how could that possibly give people a complete and accurate impression of the real me? Perhaps for any given individual, it can’t. But when everyone puts their individual pieces together, the collective result is just amazing. There may be a lot of value in running similar experiments, not on personal branding but to find other ways to put your collective wisdom to the test. What do you think about various world leaders or current political candidates? What are the best cities in the world to visit? How do you collectively see yourselves (the group consciousness)? What would you like to see us test? But perhaps the #1 benefit of running this experiment is that Erin will never be able to win another argument with me again. Steve: Sorry, Erin… 86 people will verify I’m telling the truth, so you’ll have to take it up with them. 30 also believe I’m determined, so I’m afraid you can’t win. Erin: That’s not funny! Steve: 22 people say otherwise. Erin: Oy vey. Kill me now. Steve: Don’t worry. 25 people say I’m caring, so I still love you. If you don’t see any new blog posts for a week, please call for help…
    Jul 12, 2011 895
  • 12 Jul 2011
    I was up late last night playing chess on Yahoo Games with an old friend. The last time he and I connected was back when I was still a game developer, so as we were playing we were catching up about a lot of things. I looked him up after getting an intuitive hit to contact him (Erin and I call them psychic pings). Sure enough when I emailed him out of the blue, he told me he’d just been thinking about me the other day. As far as chess was concerned, I received an educational experience (i.e. a sound thrashing). He’s been playing since age 5, and I basically felt like a 5-year-old playing against him. He even permitted me multiple undos so I could explore different lines and then revert to an earlier position if they didn’t work out, and I still couldn’t dent him. After I opened with e4, I could practically hear him thinking, “OK, that’s gonna be mate in 33, dude.” At least it wasn’t mate in 4. As I faced an utterly hopeless situation near the end of our first game, I asked if there was a cheat code that could give my pawns a distance attack… maybe some shields for good measure. Even just one Rambo pawn would have helped, as long as he had a quiver of exploding arrows that is. I played the absolute best game I could muster, but it was still Wolf 359 for me. No matter what I did or didn’t do, the ending was always the same — checkmate. The Value of Hopeless Situations Many are stuck in hopeless financial situations and enduring foreclosures on their homes right now, especially here in Las Vegas. Sure there’s a remote chance they could avoid losing their homes if they make all the right moves, but many aren’t in a position to do everything right under that kind of pressure. People may even see it coming but still can’t prevent it. No matter what they attempt, it all leads to the same outcome — PxH (pawn takes house). Seeing your house get pawned obviously sucks, but hey, it happens. If you play the game of life, you have to accept that as a possible move. There’s a hidden benefit to the hopeless situation though. When you know you’re going to lose no matter what, you can stop playing to win, and start playing to learn instead. You surrender to the inevitability of the loss and focus on the long-term gain. Even though you must endure a short-term sting, you’ll learn some valuable lessons that will make you a better player in the long game of life. I’m not suggesting that you sabotage yourself and hold back, thereby causing failure through inaction or lack of effort. Just realize that it’s perfectly okay to do your best and still end up with a losing outcome. What makes a hopeless situation very stressful and worrisome is when you resist it. When you accept it and surrender to it, however, you get peace instead of stress. This is true even when the final result is death. Playing to Learn Despite the hopeless situation of my chess playing last night, it didn’t cause me distress because I knew I was playing to learn. So in that sense I was guaranteed victory simply by doing my best, regardless of how badly outmatched I was. The only way to win consistently at life is to regard every situation as a learning experience. That’s the only outcome you can really guarantee. If you make that your primary aim, losing becomes impossible. Even though a game of chess might seem an unfair comparison to a foreclosure, it’s the same principle at work. A bigger sting just delivers a more valuable lesson. Not every piece you lose will be a mere pawn. Where Did I Go Wrong? In chess I learned that a bad move made early in the game can spell doom for me later. Once a certain threshold of error is crossed, my fate is sealed. To prevent a loss, I must avoid making such mistakes, but due to my limited experience, I don’t often realize a mistake was made until it’s much too late to do anything about it. At the time mistakes are made, they often look like halfway decent (maybe even good) ideas. People going through foreclosures are in the same boat. Their bad move may have been made years earlier, such as when they first bought their home. Back then they might have been unable to foresee their current no-win situation. Doing their best today may not be enough to compensate for the fatal error made long ago. Pawn x house becomes inevitable. Perhaps a highly skilled player could manage to turn things around, but often you just can’t prevent such captures from occurring. Even expert players eventually succumb. Recovering From the Hopeless Situation How do you recover from the hopeless situation? Do your best to avoid it of course, but when you reach the point where life is declaring “mate in 3″ no matter what you do, it’s time to bow to the inevitable. Accept the loss gracefully. Then go back and analyze your play to figure out where you went wrong. Think about how to avoid those mistakes in the future. Unfortunately this isn’t always easy. You may have to lose multiple times in a similar fashion until you figure out where you’ve been going wrong. I’ve often had to repeat major business mistakes until I could finally figure out the pattern and avoid such errors in the future. Financially those mistakes were major setbacks, but they were also incredible learning experiences. Important lessons often have high price tags. Sometimes you have to backtrack pretty far to discover the point of error. In my chess games last night, my error was made before I even moved any of my pieces. My mistake was challenging my friend to a game in the first place. Barring some miracle my loss was already sealed when I sent off that email. This assumes of course that my goal was to win the game, which I tried my best to achieve but to no avail. In more significant life situations, you may need to backtrack pretty far. For example, if you lose your home to foreclosure, maybe the real mistake wasn’t entering into a bad mortgage. Maybe it happened much earlier. Maybe you allowed yourself to get stuck in a job you didn’t love, and it held you back financially. Maybe you chose the wrong career path entirely. Maybe you didn’t take your early math education seriously, and your lack of basic skills still haunts you today. Moving Beyond Defeat Real life doesn’t include an undo button, so you may end up losing some pieces now and then and be unable to save or restore them. Maybe you’ll go broke a few times, screw up some otherwise good relationships (NxQ really sucks!), or get trapped in an unfulfilling line of work. You can’t just immediately erase those effects with a flick of your magic wand. But you can look at your life’s chessboard with a fresh perspective. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Just look at the board, assess the current configuration, determine where the best opportunities are, and make the best next move you can. If your best isn’t enough and you keep losing good pieces, it just means you have more to learn. There’s no need to whine and complain when that happens. Whining just makes you look silly, especially since there will be other people who are much worse off than you and who’d gladly trade their board for yours. Nobody likes a sore loser. When you lose just pick yourself up, analyze your play, and try again. The cool thing about real life as compared to chess is that the only checkmate in real life is death (and some would argue that isn’t checkmate either). So until you die, the worst case is that you’ve been put in check, in which case you always have another move to make, and the game continues. While your house or your relationship or your job may get captured, that isn’t enough to end the game. Hopeless situations are awesome because they teach you to become a better player. If you didn’t encounter hopeless situations and lose a few pieces, it would mean you’re playing way too tight and missing some great opportunities. You’ll learn a lot more from analyzing your losses as opposed to your victories, since your losses reveal your blind spots and allow you to improve your play. If you’re stuck in a hopeless situation right now, surrender yourself to it. Let the captured pieces go, and take them off the board. Don’t just sit there bemoaning your lost bishop. I know he was precious to you, but you’ll manage without him. Then assess what you have left to work with, and make another move. Incidentally, if your relationship ever succumbs to NxQ (knight takes queen), the proper response is RPxN (Rambo pawn takes knight).
    653 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I was up late last night playing chess on Yahoo Games with an old friend. The last time he and I connected was back when I was still a game developer, so as we were playing we were catching up about a lot of things. I looked him up after getting an intuitive hit to contact him (Erin and I call them psychic pings). Sure enough when I emailed him out of the blue, he told me he’d just been thinking about me the other day. As far as chess was concerned, I received an educational experience (i.e. a sound thrashing). He’s been playing since age 5, and I basically felt like a 5-year-old playing against him. He even permitted me multiple undos so I could explore different lines and then revert to an earlier position if they didn’t work out, and I still couldn’t dent him. After I opened with e4, I could practically hear him thinking, “OK, that’s gonna be mate in 33, dude.” At least it wasn’t mate in 4. As I faced an utterly hopeless situation near the end of our first game, I asked if there was a cheat code that could give my pawns a distance attack… maybe some shields for good measure. Even just one Rambo pawn would have helped, as long as he had a quiver of exploding arrows that is. I played the absolute best game I could muster, but it was still Wolf 359 for me. No matter what I did or didn’t do, the ending was always the same — checkmate. The Value of Hopeless Situations Many are stuck in hopeless financial situations and enduring foreclosures on their homes right now, especially here in Las Vegas. Sure there’s a remote chance they could avoid losing their homes if they make all the right moves, but many aren’t in a position to do everything right under that kind of pressure. People may even see it coming but still can’t prevent it. No matter what they attempt, it all leads to the same outcome — PxH (pawn takes house). Seeing your house get pawned obviously sucks, but hey, it happens. If you play the game of life, you have to accept that as a possible move. There’s a hidden benefit to the hopeless situation though. When you know you’re going to lose no matter what, you can stop playing to win, and start playing to learn instead. You surrender to the inevitability of the loss and focus on the long-term gain. Even though you must endure a short-term sting, you’ll learn some valuable lessons that will make you a better player in the long game of life. I’m not suggesting that you sabotage yourself and hold back, thereby causing failure through inaction or lack of effort. Just realize that it’s perfectly okay to do your best and still end up with a losing outcome. What makes a hopeless situation very stressful and worrisome is when you resist it. When you accept it and surrender to it, however, you get peace instead of stress. This is true even when the final result is death. Playing to Learn Despite the hopeless situation of my chess playing last night, it didn’t cause me distress because I knew I was playing to learn. So in that sense I was guaranteed victory simply by doing my best, regardless of how badly outmatched I was. The only way to win consistently at life is to regard every situation as a learning experience. That’s the only outcome you can really guarantee. If you make that your primary aim, losing becomes impossible. Even though a game of chess might seem an unfair comparison to a foreclosure, it’s the same principle at work. A bigger sting just delivers a more valuable lesson. Not every piece you lose will be a mere pawn. Where Did I Go Wrong? In chess I learned that a bad move made early in the game can spell doom for me later. Once a certain threshold of error is crossed, my fate is sealed. To prevent a loss, I must avoid making such mistakes, but due to my limited experience, I don’t often realize a mistake was made until it’s much too late to do anything about it. At the time mistakes are made, they often look like halfway decent (maybe even good) ideas. People going through foreclosures are in the same boat. Their bad move may have been made years earlier, such as when they first bought their home. Back then they might have been unable to foresee their current no-win situation. Doing their best today may not be enough to compensate for the fatal error made long ago. Pawn x house becomes inevitable. Perhaps a highly skilled player could manage to turn things around, but often you just can’t prevent such captures from occurring. Even expert players eventually succumb. Recovering From the Hopeless Situation How do you recover from the hopeless situation? Do your best to avoid it of course, but when you reach the point where life is declaring “mate in 3″ no matter what you do, it’s time to bow to the inevitable. Accept the loss gracefully. Then go back and analyze your play to figure out where you went wrong. Think about how to avoid those mistakes in the future. Unfortunately this isn’t always easy. You may have to lose multiple times in a similar fashion until you figure out where you’ve been going wrong. I’ve often had to repeat major business mistakes until I could finally figure out the pattern and avoid such errors in the future. Financially those mistakes were major setbacks, but they were also incredible learning experiences. Important lessons often have high price tags. Sometimes you have to backtrack pretty far to discover the point of error. In my chess games last night, my error was made before I even moved any of my pieces. My mistake was challenging my friend to a game in the first place. Barring some miracle my loss was already sealed when I sent off that email. This assumes of course that my goal was to win the game, which I tried my best to achieve but to no avail. In more significant life situations, you may need to backtrack pretty far. For example, if you lose your home to foreclosure, maybe the real mistake wasn’t entering into a bad mortgage. Maybe it happened much earlier. Maybe you allowed yourself to get stuck in a job you didn’t love, and it held you back financially. Maybe you chose the wrong career path entirely. Maybe you didn’t take your early math education seriously, and your lack of basic skills still haunts you today. Moving Beyond Defeat Real life doesn’t include an undo button, so you may end up losing some pieces now and then and be unable to save or restore them. Maybe you’ll go broke a few times, screw up some otherwise good relationships (NxQ really sucks!), or get trapped in an unfulfilling line of work. You can’t just immediately erase those effects with a flick of your magic wand. But you can look at your life’s chessboard with a fresh perspective. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Just look at the board, assess the current configuration, determine where the best opportunities are, and make the best next move you can. If your best isn’t enough and you keep losing good pieces, it just means you have more to learn. There’s no need to whine and complain when that happens. Whining just makes you look silly, especially since there will be other people who are much worse off than you and who’d gladly trade their board for yours. Nobody likes a sore loser. When you lose just pick yourself up, analyze your play, and try again. The cool thing about real life as compared to chess is that the only checkmate in real life is death (and some would argue that isn’t checkmate either). So until you die, the worst case is that you’ve been put in check, in which case you always have another move to make, and the game continues. While your house or your relationship or your job may get captured, that isn’t enough to end the game. Hopeless situations are awesome because they teach you to become a better player. If you didn’t encounter hopeless situations and lose a few pieces, it would mean you’re playing way too tight and missing some great opportunities. You’ll learn a lot more from analyzing your losses as opposed to your victories, since your losses reveal your blind spots and allow you to improve your play. If you’re stuck in a hopeless situation right now, surrender yourself to it. Let the captured pieces go, and take them off the board. Don’t just sit there bemoaning your lost bishop. I know he was precious to you, but you’ll manage without him. Then assess what you have left to work with, and make another move. Incidentally, if your relationship ever succumbs to NxQ (knight takes queen), the proper response is RPxN (Rambo pawn takes knight).
    Jul 12, 2011 653
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used. - Richard Byrd When you think of someone who’s extremely resourceful, what images come to mind? Do you think of someone who’s wealthy, well-connected, and in control of significant assets? Or do you imagine someone who’s creative, intelligent, and determined? When I think of resourcefulness, I picture someone like Les Stroud, the guy who lived in the Canadian wilderness with his wife for a year, built an off-grid house powered by the sun and wind, and stars in the show Survivorman. Instead of taking advantage of modern camping gear, he brings a pocketknife and a video camera and films himself living off the land. His primary resources are internal, not external. Inner vs. Outer Resources Consider these two lists (not exhaustive, just for the sake of illustration): Inner Resources Creativity Self-Discipline Confidence Intelligence Determination Courage Knowledge Skills Attitude Passion Awareness Outer Resources Money Assets People Technology Food Land Electricity Transportation Which is more important to you? Which do you spend the most time developing? For example, if you work at a job because you need the money, but the work doesn’t challenge or inspire you, then you’re devoting a lot of time to acquiring outer resources while investing little in your inner resources. On the other hand, if you’re going to school to acquire knowledge and skills, you’re building your inner resources while investing little in your external resources. Here are some key differences between inner and outer resources: Depletion. Inner resources aren’t depleted when spent. In fact, the more you exercise them, the stronger they become. Outer resources are usually diminished from use, or there’s an additional resource drain to use them. For example, to use technology, you need electricity, which you can pay for with money, and the value of the technology depreciates while you use it, eventually becoming obsolete. Conversion. It’s easier to use inner resources to create outer resources than vice versa. If you’re very disciplined, you can earn plenty of money, but if you’re rich, you can’t readily buy a more disciplined mind. Security. Inner resources are more secure than outer resources. It’s more likely you’ll lose your money than your knowledge. Outer resources are subject to greater risk of loss. Transferability. Outer resources can be transferred from one person to another. Inner resources are tied to the individual. Freedom To be thrown upon one’s own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible. - Benjamin Franklin Because of their strong advantages, I think it’s more important to build inner resources than outer resources, especially during your 20s. If you find yourself at age 30 to be someone who’s driven, disciplined, ambitious, and skillful but completely broke, you’ll be in far better shape to lead a fulfilling life than someone who’s wealthy but lazy and unfocused. When you build your inner resources, even at the expense of your outer resources, you’ll enjoy more freedom in the long run. But if you do the opposite and focus on building outer resources first, you’ll create a cage for yourself, becoming dependent on unstable assets. If forced to make a choice, I’d rather give up all my outer resources than my inner ones. Take away my money and possessions. Nuke my website. Eliminate my business contacts and friends. Destroy my reputation. Put me in a situation where I must work two jobs just to make ends meet, so I have little free time. But allow me to retain my intelligence, self-discipline, passion, and other inner resources, and I’ll do just fine. I know the inner resources will enable me to eventually recreate anything I might desire on the outside. In today’s uncertain economy, people are trying to figure out where to hold their resources/wealth. Should you invest in oil, gold, foreign currency, etc? Honestly the best place to invest is yourself. Turn your external assets into internal knowledge and skills. If you want to invest in some external entity, consider investing in one that helps people invest in themselves. When external resources get scarce, it’s time to pump more energy into the internal side, such as by investing in education and training for yourself and others. That will produce far more benefit than owning shiny metal. Resource Acquisition The human mind is our fundamental resource. - John F. Kennedy  The most reliable way to acquire outer resources is via your inner resources. By creating value for others through focused, disciplined effort, you gain access to the fruits of their labors as well, usually through the medium of money. The added benefit is that when you exercise your inner resources, they grow stronger, thereby allowing you to acquire outer resources more efficiently as well. Outer resources are merely a means to an end. The point of acquiring inner and outer resources is to apply them to an interesting purpose. Otherwise you fall back on the default purpose of survival, which by itself isn’t very motivating. For most people it isn’t terribly difficult to prevent themselves from dying. Some people get so caught up in resource acquisition, especially on the external side, that they never set any serious goals other than to acquire more resources. This effectively translates into working for survival. Utterly pointless. Cultivating a healthy flow of resources may be an important goal in your life, but it can’t be the most important goal. When people don’t take the time to define a clear purpose for their lives, they pick up a socially conditioned false purpose like resource acquisition. Then they get depressed and feel empty because resource acquisition just isn’t inspiring enough to center one’s whole life around it. Another problem is that people fall back on the goal of resource acquisition as a way of procrastinating on their true purpose. They say, “I need to do X, Y, and Z first, so I’ll have the money and freedom to do what I really should be doing.” That’s a hollow excuse. You can build the inner and outer resources you need while working directly on your most inspiring goals. Skip the side projects where money is your primary aim unless you’re absolutely desperate for cash and really do need to focus on survival. Otherwise you’re just distracting yourself from what really matters. Don’t let the fear of big goals push you back into survival mode. If there’s some grand mission you’d finally tackle if only you had a few billion dollars, you should be pursuing that mission now. Not having a billion dollars is just an excuse. Chances are that someone else is doing something similar while completely broke. If you were more resourceful, could you get started right now? Certainly you could. Stick with the path that has a heart, even if it scares you. You’ll acquire the resources you need along the way, whether they be internal or external. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that resource acquisition is the point of life.
    633 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used. - Richard Byrd When you think of someone who’s extremely resourceful, what images come to mind? Do you think of someone who’s wealthy, well-connected, and in control of significant assets? Or do you imagine someone who’s creative, intelligent, and determined? When I think of resourcefulness, I picture someone like Les Stroud, the guy who lived in the Canadian wilderness with his wife for a year, built an off-grid house powered by the sun and wind, and stars in the show Survivorman. Instead of taking advantage of modern camping gear, he brings a pocketknife and a video camera and films himself living off the land. His primary resources are internal, not external. Inner vs. Outer Resources Consider these two lists (not exhaustive, just for the sake of illustration): Inner Resources Creativity Self-Discipline Confidence Intelligence Determination Courage Knowledge Skills Attitude Passion Awareness Outer Resources Money Assets People Technology Food Land Electricity Transportation Which is more important to you? Which do you spend the most time developing? For example, if you work at a job because you need the money, but the work doesn’t challenge or inspire you, then you’re devoting a lot of time to acquiring outer resources while investing little in your inner resources. On the other hand, if you’re going to school to acquire knowledge and skills, you’re building your inner resources while investing little in your external resources. Here are some key differences between inner and outer resources: Depletion. Inner resources aren’t depleted when spent. In fact, the more you exercise them, the stronger they become. Outer resources are usually diminished from use, or there’s an additional resource drain to use them. For example, to use technology, you need electricity, which you can pay for with money, and the value of the technology depreciates while you use it, eventually becoming obsolete. Conversion. It’s easier to use inner resources to create outer resources than vice versa. If you’re very disciplined, you can earn plenty of money, but if you’re rich, you can’t readily buy a more disciplined mind. Security. Inner resources are more secure than outer resources. It’s more likely you’ll lose your money than your knowledge. Outer resources are subject to greater risk of loss. Transferability. Outer resources can be transferred from one person to another. Inner resources are tied to the individual. Freedom To be thrown upon one’s own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible. - Benjamin Franklin Because of their strong advantages, I think it’s more important to build inner resources than outer resources, especially during your 20s. If you find yourself at age 30 to be someone who’s driven, disciplined, ambitious, and skillful but completely broke, you’ll be in far better shape to lead a fulfilling life than someone who’s wealthy but lazy and unfocused. When you build your inner resources, even at the expense of your outer resources, you’ll enjoy more freedom in the long run. But if you do the opposite and focus on building outer resources first, you’ll create a cage for yourself, becoming dependent on unstable assets. If forced to make a choice, I’d rather give up all my outer resources than my inner ones. Take away my money and possessions. Nuke my website. Eliminate my business contacts and friends. Destroy my reputation. Put me in a situation where I must work two jobs just to make ends meet, so I have little free time. But allow me to retain my intelligence, self-discipline, passion, and other inner resources, and I’ll do just fine. I know the inner resources will enable me to eventually recreate anything I might desire on the outside. In today’s uncertain economy, people are trying to figure out where to hold their resources/wealth. Should you invest in oil, gold, foreign currency, etc? Honestly the best place to invest is yourself. Turn your external assets into internal knowledge and skills. If you want to invest in some external entity, consider investing in one that helps people invest in themselves. When external resources get scarce, it’s time to pump more energy into the internal side, such as by investing in education and training for yourself and others. That will produce far more benefit than owning shiny metal. Resource Acquisition The human mind is our fundamental resource. - John F. Kennedy  The most reliable way to acquire outer resources is via your inner resources. By creating value for others through focused, disciplined effort, you gain access to the fruits of their labors as well, usually through the medium of money. The added benefit is that when you exercise your inner resources, they grow stronger, thereby allowing you to acquire outer resources more efficiently as well. Outer resources are merely a means to an end. The point of acquiring inner and outer resources is to apply them to an interesting purpose. Otherwise you fall back on the default purpose of survival, which by itself isn’t very motivating. For most people it isn’t terribly difficult to prevent themselves from dying. Some people get so caught up in resource acquisition, especially on the external side, that they never set any serious goals other than to acquire more resources. This effectively translates into working for survival. Utterly pointless. Cultivating a healthy flow of resources may be an important goal in your life, but it can’t be the most important goal. When people don’t take the time to define a clear purpose for their lives, they pick up a socially conditioned false purpose like resource acquisition. Then they get depressed and feel empty because resource acquisition just isn’t inspiring enough to center one’s whole life around it. Another problem is that people fall back on the goal of resource acquisition as a way of procrastinating on their true purpose. They say, “I need to do X, Y, and Z first, so I’ll have the money and freedom to do what I really should be doing.” That’s a hollow excuse. You can build the inner and outer resources you need while working directly on your most inspiring goals. Skip the side projects where money is your primary aim unless you’re absolutely desperate for cash and really do need to focus on survival. Otherwise you’re just distracting yourself from what really matters. Don’t let the fear of big goals push you back into survival mode. If there’s some grand mission you’d finally tackle if only you had a few billion dollars, you should be pursuing that mission now. Not having a billion dollars is just an excuse. Chances are that someone else is doing something similar while completely broke. If you were more resourceful, could you get started right now? Certainly you could. Stick with the path that has a heart, even if it scares you. You’ll acquire the resources you need along the way, whether they be internal or external. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that resource acquisition is the point of life.
    Jul 12, 2011 633
  • 12 Jul 2011
    I want to share some thoughts on my recent decision to switch to a raw food diet with respect to how I finally made this change. Although I only made the decision about a week ago, it feels to me like a permanent change, and I have a hard time seeing myself returning to cooked foods again. Since the thoughts behind this change are still fresh in my mind, I think it’s important to share them now instead of waiting for more time to pass along this path. Of course another reason for this article is that it will help me burn the ships behind me. With this article posted, I know I’ll look that much more stupid if I later give up, so this creates some additional accountability. I first learned about the raw food diet in 1997, shortly after going vegan. Erin and I went to a vegetarian potluck one day, and someone there was eating a completely raw meal. Before then it just never occurred to me to try eating 100% raw. With no background info other than the bare idea, I decided to try eating raw for a while. I lasted only 3 days. I had no clue what I was doing, so I ate mostly salads. I wasn’t getting enough calories and was very hungry by the third day. I put the notion of raw food on the back burner for a few more years. Down the road I did several other raw food trials with different variations of the diet, ranging from a few days up to 45 days in duration. The most recent was my 30-day trial of the raw food diet in January. I actually got the best health results from my first 30-day raw trial several years ago. That trial was the most balanced and varied one in terms of the types of foods I ate, but it also required the most work to maintain. Mental Acceptance I read a great deal about the raw food diet and agreed with the logic behind it. It made sense to me that it was simply healthier to eat food raw vs. cooked. I won’t go into those details here because the info is enough to fill a book. My personal trials backed up my reading, so that gave me further evidence that I should seriously consider going raw. There were only two things stopping me. First, I didn’t know how to make such a diet practical and sustainable. Secondly, I lacked the willpower to push through all the obstacles and make the change permanent. The notion of going raw for life seemed too overwhelming. Because I could see that eating raw was a more intelligent choice than eating cooked food, I knew that my path of growth would eventually lead me to adopt a 100% raw diet. Five years ago if you asked me if I’d eventually become a raw foodist, I’d probably have said, “Yes, I expect I will at some point.” I didn’t know how long it would take, but I thought I’d eventually discover how to make it work. Overcoming Obstacles Little by little I picked away at the obstacles of ignorance and lack of experience. I kept reading and experimenting. I bought raw food cookbooks and tested many different recipes to discover raw meals that were (1) easy to prepare, (2) delicious, and (3) satisfying. I had to learn a whole new set of dietary staples. This was very difficult because it meant abandoning favorite foods I’d been eating for years. While going vegetarian and vegan were significant changes, going from vegan to raw was by far the biggest and most radical change dietary change I’ve ever made. It took many years to overcome all those obstacles. The biggest step was doing my 30-day trial in January. That was the most restrictive form of the raw diet I ever attempted. I eventually realized that if I could manage to eat like that for 30 days and feel generally better, I should be able to permanently switch to a less severe version of the raw diet. While it wouldn’t be perfect, it would be enough to finally get me across the cooked-raw border. Dealing with Social Issues One of the major challenges with dietary change is that the direction of improvement takes you far away from average because the average diet is pure crap. This creates a risk of disconnecting from other people as you continue to grow in order to avoid succumbing to social drag. Here’s how I look at this situation. If I eat a crappy diet in front of other people, I’m subtly encouraging them to do the same. That does a real disservice to people who share a meal with me. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lowers the standards of everyone I eat with (or who reinforces pre-existing low standards). If I put myself in the position of eating a healthy diet when I’m with other people, then I subtly influence them to improve their own eating habits as well. I don’t need to discuss what I’m eating to have this effect — I know from experience that it happens automatically. Try it for yourself by sharing a meal with someone whose diet is much healthier than yours, and see if you don’t feel slightly more motivated to make some improvements. We’re all subtly influenced by the people we connect with. Eating with someone who makes strange comments about my food isn’t a big deal to me. The more important issue is whether I’m serving as a positive example to others. While they might superficially disconnect from me because I eat differently, I know there’s a deeper, more important connection that’s being established beneath the surface. That’s the connection that reminds people they are in fact strong enough to make conscious food choices, even when everyone around them is doing the opposite. Every time you stretch beyond the social conditioning, risking the rejection of your peers, you simultaneously serve as a powerful example to them. You help other people awaken to the knowledge that they can exceed their current performance levels. I see it as my duty to fill such a role when I can. On the surface people often reject or criticize me for doing things like graduating college in 3 semesters, trying polyphasic sleep, or of course going raw, but I see that as a good step for those people. I know the real reason people attack me for pursuing such goals is that I serve as a reminder that they’ve been settling for less than they’re worth. I had to be reminded of that myself by spending a few days in jail once. Achieving Readiness Eventually I reached the point where I was strong enough to finally make the change to a 100% raw diet. I remember the feeling I had was, “I think I’m finally ready to do this. I feel ready to go raw.” There was still some resistance, but it was smaller than my will. I knew I had sufficient knowledge and experience to successfully convert to a raw food diet, not as a temporary trial but as a permanent lifestyle change. I sort of just woke up one morning and realized I’d gone through the doorway. The key to making this change was something I wrote about in the very first article I posted on this site, The Courage to Live Consciously. I had to remain aware of the change I wanted to make while accepting that I wasn’t yet strong enough to make it. By keeping myself out of denial, I was able to progressively train myself to reach my goal, even though it would take many years to finally reach it. 30-day trials are a terrific vehicle for achieving readiness. Even if your first trial doesn’t result in permanent change, you’ll learn and grow from the experience. This will put you in a position to kick off additional trials in preparation for an eventual permanent change. My previous raw trials were essential stepping stones for me. Now that I’m finally sticking with a raw diet, I’m not eating exactly like I did during any of my previous raw trials. I’m incorporating the best elements from all of my trials to create a diet that I know will be sustainable for me. Based on my most recent trial, I’m eating mostly fresh fruit, since fruit-based meals are energizing and fast to prepare. I’m also enjoying green smoothies every day, especially banana-spinach. I currently have about 80 bananas in my kitchen, and my fridge is loaded with a variety of my favorite fruits. I feel naturally drawn to eat a lot of fruit now, so I don’t have to force myself to eat this way. On the weekend one of my favorite meals consisted of 18 clementines. It was delicious, and I felt very energized afterwards. To keep the diet from becoming too monotonous, I’m including a few of my favorite raw gourmet recipes. For example, I made some guacamole this week, which was really satisfying with raw carrots. Occasionally eating these heartier foods makes it easy to continue eating raw. Compared to my previous raw trial, the way I’m eating now feels very abundant. I’m focused on all the delicious foods I get to eat (in ridiculously large quantities). I feel like I’m pigging out every day — you should have seen me at the buffet on Sunday – but I’m losing weight and feeling terrific. After the Change I know that I can always eat cooked food again if I ever want to, but presently I simply have no desire to do so. I know that cooked food will only lower my energy levels, so it doesn’t seem like a wise choice anymore. I feel like I just stepped through the doorway into the experience of being a raw foodist. I feel a bit dorky and uncomfortable wearing that label, but I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to it. Obviously such a label can’t define me as a spiritual being, but it does a fair job of defining my avatar, Steve. OK, so perhaps I stumbled my way through this particular doorway, and everyone else in the room is staring at me and wondering why it took so long, but it still feels great to have made it through. My next step is to explore this new role and see how it feels. When I say that this change is permanent, I know I always have the option to turn back, but given what I know up to this point, it’s hard to imagine that happening anytime soon. It seems more likely that I’ll continue experimenting within the scope of raw foods rather than returning to cooked foods. I’ve become more sensitive to the difference between living foods and dead foods, and I don’t like the way dead foods make me feel. It’s hard for me to find such foods attractive anymore. I only want to eat things that are alive. Cooked foods look like they’ve been switched off. I’ve been through other lifestyle changes, so I know what it feels like to finally cross the threshold of a major change. It’s exhilarating but also a little scary. When you step through such a doorway, you don’t know what to expect on the other side. New experiences and adventures await you. It’s like your character is starting from level one all over again. You have to get used to being a beginner all over again. This particular change sits well with both my logic and my intuition. My left brain likes it, and so does my right brain. I think my cells like it too. Big lifestyle changes can be very difficult to navigate. Don’t give up. If you intuitively sense that the change will eventually be an important part of your path of growth, or if you can accept the logic of such a change, keep working at it. Eventually you’ll be ready to make a lasting commitment. A big “Thank You” to everyone who helped and supported me along the way in achieving this goal!
    767 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I want to share some thoughts on my recent decision to switch to a raw food diet with respect to how I finally made this change. Although I only made the decision about a week ago, it feels to me like a permanent change, and I have a hard time seeing myself returning to cooked foods again. Since the thoughts behind this change are still fresh in my mind, I think it’s important to share them now instead of waiting for more time to pass along this path. Of course another reason for this article is that it will help me burn the ships behind me. With this article posted, I know I’ll look that much more stupid if I later give up, so this creates some additional accountability. I first learned about the raw food diet in 1997, shortly after going vegan. Erin and I went to a vegetarian potluck one day, and someone there was eating a completely raw meal. Before then it just never occurred to me to try eating 100% raw. With no background info other than the bare idea, I decided to try eating raw for a while. I lasted only 3 days. I had no clue what I was doing, so I ate mostly salads. I wasn’t getting enough calories and was very hungry by the third day. I put the notion of raw food on the back burner for a few more years. Down the road I did several other raw food trials with different variations of the diet, ranging from a few days up to 45 days in duration. The most recent was my 30-day trial of the raw food diet in January. I actually got the best health results from my first 30-day raw trial several years ago. That trial was the most balanced and varied one in terms of the types of foods I ate, but it also required the most work to maintain. Mental Acceptance I read a great deal about the raw food diet and agreed with the logic behind it. It made sense to me that it was simply healthier to eat food raw vs. cooked. I won’t go into those details here because the info is enough to fill a book. My personal trials backed up my reading, so that gave me further evidence that I should seriously consider going raw. There were only two things stopping me. First, I didn’t know how to make such a diet practical and sustainable. Secondly, I lacked the willpower to push through all the obstacles and make the change permanent. The notion of going raw for life seemed too overwhelming. Because I could see that eating raw was a more intelligent choice than eating cooked food, I knew that my path of growth would eventually lead me to adopt a 100% raw diet. Five years ago if you asked me if I’d eventually become a raw foodist, I’d probably have said, “Yes, I expect I will at some point.” I didn’t know how long it would take, but I thought I’d eventually discover how to make it work. Overcoming Obstacles Little by little I picked away at the obstacles of ignorance and lack of experience. I kept reading and experimenting. I bought raw food cookbooks and tested many different recipes to discover raw meals that were (1) easy to prepare, (2) delicious, and (3) satisfying. I had to learn a whole new set of dietary staples. This was very difficult because it meant abandoning favorite foods I’d been eating for years. While going vegetarian and vegan were significant changes, going from vegan to raw was by far the biggest and most radical change dietary change I’ve ever made. It took many years to overcome all those obstacles. The biggest step was doing my 30-day trial in January. That was the most restrictive form of the raw diet I ever attempted. I eventually realized that if I could manage to eat like that for 30 days and feel generally better, I should be able to permanently switch to a less severe version of the raw diet. While it wouldn’t be perfect, it would be enough to finally get me across the cooked-raw border. Dealing with Social Issues One of the major challenges with dietary change is that the direction of improvement takes you far away from average because the average diet is pure crap. This creates a risk of disconnecting from other people as you continue to grow in order to avoid succumbing to social drag. Here’s how I look at this situation. If I eat a crappy diet in front of other people, I’m subtly encouraging them to do the same. That does a real disservice to people who share a meal with me. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lowers the standards of everyone I eat with (or who reinforces pre-existing low standards). If I put myself in the position of eating a healthy diet when I’m with other people, then I subtly influence them to improve their own eating habits as well. I don’t need to discuss what I’m eating to have this effect — I know from experience that it happens automatically. Try it for yourself by sharing a meal with someone whose diet is much healthier than yours, and see if you don’t feel slightly more motivated to make some improvements. We’re all subtly influenced by the people we connect with. Eating with someone who makes strange comments about my food isn’t a big deal to me. The more important issue is whether I’m serving as a positive example to others. While they might superficially disconnect from me because I eat differently, I know there’s a deeper, more important connection that’s being established beneath the surface. That’s the connection that reminds people they are in fact strong enough to make conscious food choices, even when everyone around them is doing the opposite. Every time you stretch beyond the social conditioning, risking the rejection of your peers, you simultaneously serve as a powerful example to them. You help other people awaken to the knowledge that they can exceed their current performance levels. I see it as my duty to fill such a role when I can. On the surface people often reject or criticize me for doing things like graduating college in 3 semesters, trying polyphasic sleep, or of course going raw, but I see that as a good step for those people. I know the real reason people attack me for pursuing such goals is that I serve as a reminder that they’ve been settling for less than they’re worth. I had to be reminded of that myself by spending a few days in jail once. Achieving Readiness Eventually I reached the point where I was strong enough to finally make the change to a 100% raw diet. I remember the feeling I had was, “I think I’m finally ready to do this. I feel ready to go raw.” There was still some resistance, but it was smaller than my will. I knew I had sufficient knowledge and experience to successfully convert to a raw food diet, not as a temporary trial but as a permanent lifestyle change. I sort of just woke up one morning and realized I’d gone through the doorway. The key to making this change was something I wrote about in the very first article I posted on this site, The Courage to Live Consciously. I had to remain aware of the change I wanted to make while accepting that I wasn’t yet strong enough to make it. By keeping myself out of denial, I was able to progressively train myself to reach my goal, even though it would take many years to finally reach it. 30-day trials are a terrific vehicle for achieving readiness. Even if your first trial doesn’t result in permanent change, you’ll learn and grow from the experience. This will put you in a position to kick off additional trials in preparation for an eventual permanent change. My previous raw trials were essential stepping stones for me. Now that I’m finally sticking with a raw diet, I’m not eating exactly like I did during any of my previous raw trials. I’m incorporating the best elements from all of my trials to create a diet that I know will be sustainable for me. Based on my most recent trial, I’m eating mostly fresh fruit, since fruit-based meals are energizing and fast to prepare. I’m also enjoying green smoothies every day, especially banana-spinach. I currently have about 80 bananas in my kitchen, and my fridge is loaded with a variety of my favorite fruits. I feel naturally drawn to eat a lot of fruit now, so I don’t have to force myself to eat this way. On the weekend one of my favorite meals consisted of 18 clementines. It was delicious, and I felt very energized afterwards. To keep the diet from becoming too monotonous, I’m including a few of my favorite raw gourmet recipes. For example, I made some guacamole this week, which was really satisfying with raw carrots. Occasionally eating these heartier foods makes it easy to continue eating raw. Compared to my previous raw trial, the way I’m eating now feels very abundant. I’m focused on all the delicious foods I get to eat (in ridiculously large quantities). I feel like I’m pigging out every day — you should have seen me at the buffet on Sunday – but I’m losing weight and feeling terrific. After the Change I know that I can always eat cooked food again if I ever want to, but presently I simply have no desire to do so. I know that cooked food will only lower my energy levels, so it doesn’t seem like a wise choice anymore. I feel like I just stepped through the doorway into the experience of being a raw foodist. I feel a bit dorky and uncomfortable wearing that label, but I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to it. Obviously such a label can’t define me as a spiritual being, but it does a fair job of defining my avatar, Steve. OK, so perhaps I stumbled my way through this particular doorway, and everyone else in the room is staring at me and wondering why it took so long, but it still feels great to have made it through. My next step is to explore this new role and see how it feels. When I say that this change is permanent, I know I always have the option to turn back, but given what I know up to this point, it’s hard to imagine that happening anytime soon. It seems more likely that I’ll continue experimenting within the scope of raw foods rather than returning to cooked foods. I’ve become more sensitive to the difference between living foods and dead foods, and I don’t like the way dead foods make me feel. It’s hard for me to find such foods attractive anymore. I only want to eat things that are alive. Cooked foods look like they’ve been switched off. I’ve been through other lifestyle changes, so I know what it feels like to finally cross the threshold of a major change. It’s exhilarating but also a little scary. When you step through such a doorway, you don’t know what to expect on the other side. New experiences and adventures await you. It’s like your character is starting from level one all over again. You have to get used to being a beginner all over again. This particular change sits well with both my logic and my intuition. My left brain likes it, and so does my right brain. I think my cells like it too. Big lifestyle changes can be very difficult to navigate. Don’t give up. If you intuitively sense that the change will eventually be an important part of your path of growth, or if you can accept the logic of such a change, keep working at it. Eventually you’ll be ready to make a lasting commitment. A big “Thank You” to everyone who helped and supported me along the way in achieving this goal!
    Jul 12, 2011 767
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Have you ever fallen off track while trying to install or maintain a not-quite-daily habit such as exercising 3-4 days a week or getting up at 5am on weekdays? This article will share some simple ideas to help you maintain such habits more easily. If you perform a certain task every day for weeks on end, it’s usually pretty easy to maintain. However, once you take a day or two off, it can be harder to start up again on your next “on” day. For example, if you get up early every weekday and then sleep in late on Saturday and Sunday, waking up Monday morning often feels harder, and you’re more likely to oversleep. Before you know it, you’ve blown your positive habit completely, and somehow every day has become an off day. 1. Make it daily anyway. The first solution is to turn almost-daily habits into daily habits. Sometimes it’s no big deal to continue the habit even when it isn’t necessary, and the upside is that you’ll have a stronger habit with less risk of losing ground. For example, I like to get up early 7 days a week. I find this much easier to maintain than getting up early 5-6 days per week. If I get up at 5am every single morning, it’s really no big deal. But if I stay out late one night and sleep in until 7am, it’s always harder to get up at 5am the following morning. Every once in a while I’ll stay out past midnight and sleep in late, but my default is to get up with the alarm at the same time every morning. Even though I don’t need to get up early every day, the habit is beneficial for me every day, so there’s no reason to limit it to weekdays. Although it might seem harder to do it 7 days instead of 5-6 days, it’s actually easier to be consistent. With close to 100% daily consistency, a habit will typically maintain itself on autopilot, so you don’t even have to think about it anymore. But with 80-90% consistency, the contrast between your on and off days is always in the back of your mind. Do I have to get up early tomorrow, or can I sleep in late? Do I need to exercise tomorrow, or can I skip it? If you have a lot of almost-daily habits, this can be a big cognitive burden and quite a distraction. Maintaining good habits becomes much more difficult than necessary. 2. Use placeholder habits. Another option is to create an alternative, placeholder habit for your off days. Suppose you want to exercise 5 days a week, and you really want to keep those off days. Instead of doing your regular exercise, you could schedule an an alternative activity for the same time. Instead of doing your usual workout, you could use your off days to go for a walk, read, meditate, write in your journal, etc. I recommend that you use placeholder habits that are similar in some way to the original habit. For example, on your off days for exercise, you could still do something physical like walking, stretching, or yoga. This turns your physical development into an everyday practice, even though you’re doing different activities each day. 3. Chain Habits. When you chain a series of habits together, they become easier to maintain. As soon as you begin the first habit in the chain, the rest of the sequence will tend to take care of itself. My usual morning routine involves getting up, hitting the gym, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc. It’s a pretty stable pattern. But sometimes when I feel I’m at risk of overtraining, I’ll skip my workout without substituting anything. When this happens I can just jump to the next link in my morning habit chain, which means I’ll get up and then shower. I find that when I occasionally skip habits that are part of a longer daily chain, it’s fairly easy to put them back in again as long as I continue to maintain the first and last links in the chain. As long as I get up early and go to the gym or get up early and then shower, my not-quite-daily exercise habit remains pretty solid. But if I mess with the first link in the chain and don’t get up at my usual time, the whole sequence is more likely to be blown. So the idea is to put your not-quite-daily habits in the middle of a chain of daily habits. If you maintain the overall chain, you’ll probably find it easier to maintain the middle links as well, even though you sometimes skip them. 4. Make specific commitments. If there are certain habits you won’t perform every day, decide exactly when you will perform them. “I’m going to exercise 3-4 days per week” is too vague and wishy-washy. “I’ll do a 30-minute workout at the gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning at 6:30am, alternating between weight training and aerobic conditioning” is much better. The more specific your commitment, the better. Block out time on your schedule, and add these commitments to your calendar. Be sure not to schedule anything else for those times. It’s very easy to fail when you give yourself too many outs and don’t really commit. On any given day, there should be no question as to whether you will or won’t perform your habitual activity. Ditch the mights, maybes, and shoulds. Either you will or you won’t. Decide in advance what it will be. 5. Turn habits into appointments. If you have a hard time maintaining irregular habits, find a way to turn them into appointments that involve someone else. It’s easier to ditch a habit if you’re only accountable to yourself, but most people are less willing to skip appointments that would leave someone else hanging. Get a workout buddy. Schedule early AM phone calls with another early riser. Plan home organizing time with your roommate(s) at the same time every week. Schedule regular babysitting for date nights with your spouse. Your accountability will be greater when you involve others in your not-quite-daily habits. Theses are just some of the tactics you can use to improve your ability to maintain irregular habits. For a list of specific habits that will give you some ideas, see the article 10 Ways to Optimize Your Normal Days.
    115445 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Have you ever fallen off track while trying to install or maintain a not-quite-daily habit such as exercising 3-4 days a week or getting up at 5am on weekdays? This article will share some simple ideas to help you maintain such habits more easily. If you perform a certain task every day for weeks on end, it’s usually pretty easy to maintain. However, once you take a day or two off, it can be harder to start up again on your next “on” day. For example, if you get up early every weekday and then sleep in late on Saturday and Sunday, waking up Monday morning often feels harder, and you’re more likely to oversleep. Before you know it, you’ve blown your positive habit completely, and somehow every day has become an off day. 1. Make it daily anyway. The first solution is to turn almost-daily habits into daily habits. Sometimes it’s no big deal to continue the habit even when it isn’t necessary, and the upside is that you’ll have a stronger habit with less risk of losing ground. For example, I like to get up early 7 days a week. I find this much easier to maintain than getting up early 5-6 days per week. If I get up at 5am every single morning, it’s really no big deal. But if I stay out late one night and sleep in until 7am, it’s always harder to get up at 5am the following morning. Every once in a while I’ll stay out past midnight and sleep in late, but my default is to get up with the alarm at the same time every morning. Even though I don’t need to get up early every day, the habit is beneficial for me every day, so there’s no reason to limit it to weekdays. Although it might seem harder to do it 7 days instead of 5-6 days, it’s actually easier to be consistent. With close to 100% daily consistency, a habit will typically maintain itself on autopilot, so you don’t even have to think about it anymore. But with 80-90% consistency, the contrast between your on and off days is always in the back of your mind. Do I have to get up early tomorrow, or can I sleep in late? Do I need to exercise tomorrow, or can I skip it? If you have a lot of almost-daily habits, this can be a big cognitive burden and quite a distraction. Maintaining good habits becomes much more difficult than necessary. 2. Use placeholder habits. Another option is to create an alternative, placeholder habit for your off days. Suppose you want to exercise 5 days a week, and you really want to keep those off days. Instead of doing your regular exercise, you could schedule an an alternative activity for the same time. Instead of doing your usual workout, you could use your off days to go for a walk, read, meditate, write in your journal, etc. I recommend that you use placeholder habits that are similar in some way to the original habit. For example, on your off days for exercise, you could still do something physical like walking, stretching, or yoga. This turns your physical development into an everyday practice, even though you’re doing different activities each day. 3. Chain Habits. When you chain a series of habits together, they become easier to maintain. As soon as you begin the first habit in the chain, the rest of the sequence will tend to take care of itself. My usual morning routine involves getting up, hitting the gym, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc. It’s a pretty stable pattern. But sometimes when I feel I’m at risk of overtraining, I’ll skip my workout without substituting anything. When this happens I can just jump to the next link in my morning habit chain, which means I’ll get up and then shower. I find that when I occasionally skip habits that are part of a longer daily chain, it’s fairly easy to put them back in again as long as I continue to maintain the first and last links in the chain. As long as I get up early and go to the gym or get up early and then shower, my not-quite-daily exercise habit remains pretty solid. But if I mess with the first link in the chain and don’t get up at my usual time, the whole sequence is more likely to be blown. So the idea is to put your not-quite-daily habits in the middle of a chain of daily habits. If you maintain the overall chain, you’ll probably find it easier to maintain the middle links as well, even though you sometimes skip them. 4. Make specific commitments. If there are certain habits you won’t perform every day, decide exactly when you will perform them. “I’m going to exercise 3-4 days per week” is too vague and wishy-washy. “I’ll do a 30-minute workout at the gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning at 6:30am, alternating between weight training and aerobic conditioning” is much better. The more specific your commitment, the better. Block out time on your schedule, and add these commitments to your calendar. Be sure not to schedule anything else for those times. It’s very easy to fail when you give yourself too many outs and don’t really commit. On any given day, there should be no question as to whether you will or won’t perform your habitual activity. Ditch the mights, maybes, and shoulds. Either you will or you won’t. Decide in advance what it will be. 5. Turn habits into appointments. If you have a hard time maintaining irregular habits, find a way to turn them into appointments that involve someone else. It’s easier to ditch a habit if you’re only accountable to yourself, but most people are less willing to skip appointments that would leave someone else hanging. Get a workout buddy. Schedule early AM phone calls with another early riser. Plan home organizing time with your roommate(s) at the same time every week. Schedule regular babysitting for date nights with your spouse. Your accountability will be greater when you involve others in your not-quite-daily habits. Theses are just some of the tactics you can use to improve your ability to maintain irregular habits. For a list of specific habits that will give you some ideas, see the article 10 Ways to Optimize Your Normal Days.
    Jul 12, 2011 115445
  • 12 Jul 2011
    What role does skill play in the path to success? Are good intentions enough? Or do you actually need some talent? Why So Many Bloggers Fail I’m often asked why so many people who jumped on the blogging bandwagon failed to get good results. While the A-list bloggers enjoy soaring traffic and income, countless other blogs fall by the wayside. Why? There are several ways to answer this, but perhaps the most obvious answer is that most new bloggers give up within the first six months. The web is littered with abandoned blogs. But six months is nothing. It takes six months just to get your bearings in the blogosphere. During my first six months as a blogger, I earned a whopping $167. That’s about 17 cents per hour… not exactly what you’d call an unqualified success. But about a year and a half later, my blog’s income was passing $10K/month and kept going up from there. What if I’d given up during the first few months? Why didn’t I give up? Partly it was because I wasn’t doing it for the money to begin with, so I didn’t define success in financial terms. Probably the main reason though is that I felt this line of work was such an excellent fit for my passion and skills that I couldn’t fathom doing anything else. It’s a virtual certainty that I’d be writing about personal development today in some fashion even if I was still making only 17 cents an hour. What really drove me was the desire to creatively express myself in a way that might help people. However, in order for my creative self-expression to provide value for others, I had to do a ton of work on the skill side. Most people don’t see the years I invested in personal development before even starting a blog. My interest in personal development really began around 1991, but I didn’t start blogging until 2004. Building Skill Before I started blogging, I’d read about 700 non-fiction books on topics including productivity, relationships, spirituality, health, finances, and more. I had a good understanding of the broad field of personal development. I also worked enough on my own personal growth to generate some unique ideas. When I started blogging, I’d already written about 20 articles between 1999 and 2003, some of which became popular online. I’d also been paid for about 6 articles by CNET ($1000 per 1000-word article). So I’d earned some money on the side from my writing before I started writing for a living. Moreover, when I started my blog, I’d been running an online computer games business for 10 years. During the first 5 years of that business, I turned $20,000 cash into $150,000 debt. I had to learn a lot of difficult lessons about how to run a profitable business, most of which had nothing to do with money. My most important lessons actually had to do with developing and trusting my intuition and using it to make major business decisions. I had learned how to succeed as an entrepreneur long years before I started blogging. So yes, my blog became an overnight success, but that night was about 15 years long. I don’t know too many successful bloggers who jumped into the blogosphere with no meaningful experience and did well off the bat. Most had something in their backgrounds that prepared them for blogging success. It may have been a previous job that helped them build good work habits and discipline while stockpiling many great ideas. These people really weren’t starting from scratch. They had a decent skill set and a proven ability to create value. They started blogging because they had something of value to share. Paying Your Dues The reason so many bloggers fail to build a significant audience is that they haven’t paid their dues yet on the skill side. They get drawn in by the lure of passive income, but they don’t have the skills to deliver on the service side. Passive income is certainly nice to have, but it shouldn’t be your primary motivation. What will you do when you have tons of passive income? Wait for death? Passive income is a means to an end, but what’s the end you’re after? There are a lot of reasons certain blogs get a lot of traffic, but I’d say the #1 reason is that they deserve it. They provide lots of value, and word of mouth builds traffic. If a blogger generates no word of mouth traffic growth, the reason is simple: Visitors don’t value the blogger’s content… at least not enough to tell anyone else about it. Another way of saying this is that if you aren’t seeing a steady growth in referrals for your professional work, it’s because your work isn’t very good. Sure there are some ways to game the system, but I consistently see that the high-traffic blogs deliver a lot of value to people, whether that be education, entertainment, inspiration, creative ideas, or some other form of value. The top blogs ultimately deliver what people want. Most of the failed blogs deserve to fail. The bloggers have nothing special to say. Instead of being inspired to write, they try to meet a certain quota of posts. They think studying search engine optimization can make up for lousy content. That’s like a bad poet concluding that the key to great poetry is better fonts. Early Skill-Building Pays Off You’ll probably have a hard time building momentum in any new endeavor if you fail to pay the price and develop your skills. I know it’s hard to be patient, but your early skill-building work can pay off massively down the road, not just for yourself but for all the people you’ll eventually help. Every field has a core set of basic skills. If you commit to mastery of those skills over a period of years, you’ll probably do very well in your field. If you try to shortcut the process, get used to disappointment. For example, some of the core skills that are important in my current line of work are: Personal development knowledge – A broad base of knowledge of existing ideas, systems, and methods that can foster growth in the areas of health, relationships, career, money, habits, and spirituality. Writing – Being able to express thoughts clearly through written language. Knowledge of basic grammar as well as high-level structural elements like unity and coherence. Speaking – Presentation skills as well as comfort speaking in front of a live audience. There are many details here including knowledge of sound equipment and microphones, humor skills, and vocal variety. Web/technical skills – Functional understanding of blogging and web technologies such as email, RSS feeds, discussion forums, and social bookmarking. Business skills – Ability to manage general business responsibilities such as accounting, taxes, legal contracts, record keeping, and payroll. Interpersonal skills – Networking with others in the field, avoid isolation/cocooning. Many great opportunities will come through the connections you build. With the exception of #3, I developed all of these core skills to a reasonable degree of proficiency before I even started blogging. I developed #3 to a reasonable level before I started speaking professionally. If I had jumped into blogging without these core skills, it would have been much harder to succeed. I simply wouldn’t have been ready. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I started my computer games business. I had good technical skills, but my business skills and interpersonal skills were weak. I had no clue how to run a profitable business, and I didn’t understand networking. At first I was too isolated, and then I kept doing business with people who were either dishonest or incompetent. It didn’t matter that I was a smart programmer. My lack of skill in the other critical areas dragged down the whole business. It was only when I developed basic competency in my weak areas that the business finally became profitable. That took about 5 years working full-time (and often beyond full-time). Accepting the Price of Skill If you pick a field you’re passionate about, the skill-building work won’t seem so bad. You can actually enjoy it. I enjoyed learning about business even while my games business was failing during the first few years. I had so much to learn that even the most poorly written books offered me a wealth of ideas. The skill-building process never ends. I continue to study personal development because I want to keep integrating fresh new ideas. I listen to audio programs on my iPod, and my reading queue is always filled with dozens of books. Even though I’ve written a book of my own as well as hundreds of articles, I never think of myself as being done with the learning process. There are always new ideas and perspectives to consider. Before I wrote my first book, Personal Development for Smart People, I read at least four books on how to write a book, all of them written by experienced authors. I’ve already written enough articles to fill 20 books, but writing a coherent book was an entirely different beast. Making a study of book writing helped me avoid some pitfalls that might otherwise have caused me to stumble. If I didn’t keep building my knowledge and skill, it would be fair to say that my blog should be displaced by someone else who’s willing to make that kind of commitment. Planting Your Skill Seeds When you start building a skill, it’s like planting a seed. You may have to water it for a while before you see any results. But eventually you get a nice harvest that makes it all worthwhile. What skills might you begin building today that could really come in handy 5-10 years from now? Ten years might seem like a long time, but it doesn’t matter. That time is going to pass no matter what you do. It’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself there someday. When that day arrives, you’ll either have a decade of skill-building behind you, or you won’t. It’s up to you to decide which path you’ll take. If you don’t consciously commit to the path of skill-building, you settle for stagnation by default. Please don’t do that to yourself. Before I started my blog, I could see that if I got on this path, I’d eventually end up doing some speaking. That’s a reasonable expectation for people who work in this field. I was an okay speaker but certainly not great. I recognized it would probably take many years to get really good at speaking because I’d never made a serious study of it. So I starting working on my speaking skills in 2004. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far, but I know I can always get better. So I keep working on my skills in this area and trying new things. When I look back on my previous 15 years of skill-building, I’m very grateful. It was a big investment to be sure, but all that work is really paying off. I can also see that if I keep building my skills as I’m doing now, especially in the area of professional speaking, the payoff will be huge. I’m a much better speaker today than I was in 2004, and if I just keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be an even better speaker several years from now. The seeds have already been planted; all I have to do is keep watering them. I’ll never be perfect, and there are people who have more natural talent than I do, but I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to keep getting better. Being perfect is impossible, but I can guarantee that I’ll get better just by continuing to study and practice. When you commit to building your skills in any area, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to grow. If you wait for perfection, you’ll never go out and apply your skills. Amateur vs. Pro Am I suggesting that you need to develop a certain baseline level of skill before embarking on a professional path? I’d say yes. If you don’t have a good baseline skill level, you’ll do more harm than good. You probably don’t want an unskilled mechanic messing with your car. Nor would you want an unskilled surgeon slicing up your abdomen. Similarly, you’re unlikely to enjoy reading the work of an unskilled blogger or being bored to tears by an unskilled speaker. How do you know if you have the right level of baseline skill to go pro? Perhaps the most obvious sign is that people will begin to suggest it. People will say, “Wow, you are such a great cook! You should have your own restaurant.” This is what happened with me. While running my games business, I was writing articles on the side to help other software developers. Eventually people started telling me, “Wow, those are really great articles. You’re a talented writer.” I thought that was strange because I’d never thought of myself as a writer before. I just thought it would be nice to share ideas with other game developers. In addition to positive feedback, I started getting requests for new articles: “Steve, can you write an article about X?” Then webmasters and online publishers began asking permission to republish my articles in their newsletters or on their websites. Soon people started asking to translate my articles into other languages, and before I knew it, I had a Russian fan site. Some articles were eventually translated into more than a dozen different languages. Further down the road, CNET offered to pay me to write some original articles for them, which I did for several months. By the time I started blogging, it was already pretty clear that I had a good enough baseline skill level to go pro as a writer. I started writing articles in 1999. I didn’t start blogging until 5 years later. So I’ve actually been writing articles for 9 years now. Even though I didn’t write many articles during those first 5 years, I had the opportunity to digest a lot of feedback from them. A lot of people try to bypass this process. They want success without effort. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. You have to pay your dues. Otherwise you’ll quit too soon or you’ll sabotage yourself because you’ll know you aren’t ready to go pro. You’ll look at others in your field and feel intimidated instead of welcomed. Or you just won’t have the skills to express yourself in a way that creates value for others. The blogosphere is filled with amateur writers pretending to be professionals. That’s why the blogosphere is littered with dead blogs. The amateurs give up within 6 months or less because they aren’t committed to the skill-building years. If you want to be a true professional in a certain line of work, don’t neglect the effort of skill-building. It’s hard work, but it does pay off. Building skill over a period of years is how you go from amateur to pro. The pros commit for the long haul. The universe doesn’t really say no, but sometimes it says not yet.
    702 Posted by UniqueThis
  • What role does skill play in the path to success? Are good intentions enough? Or do you actually need some talent? Why So Many Bloggers Fail I’m often asked why so many people who jumped on the blogging bandwagon failed to get good results. While the A-list bloggers enjoy soaring traffic and income, countless other blogs fall by the wayside. Why? There are several ways to answer this, but perhaps the most obvious answer is that most new bloggers give up within the first six months. The web is littered with abandoned blogs. But six months is nothing. It takes six months just to get your bearings in the blogosphere. During my first six months as a blogger, I earned a whopping $167. That’s about 17 cents per hour… not exactly what you’d call an unqualified success. But about a year and a half later, my blog’s income was passing $10K/month and kept going up from there. What if I’d given up during the first few months? Why didn’t I give up? Partly it was because I wasn’t doing it for the money to begin with, so I didn’t define success in financial terms. Probably the main reason though is that I felt this line of work was such an excellent fit for my passion and skills that I couldn’t fathom doing anything else. It’s a virtual certainty that I’d be writing about personal development today in some fashion even if I was still making only 17 cents an hour. What really drove me was the desire to creatively express myself in a way that might help people. However, in order for my creative self-expression to provide value for others, I had to do a ton of work on the skill side. Most people don’t see the years I invested in personal development before even starting a blog. My interest in personal development really began around 1991, but I didn’t start blogging until 2004. Building Skill Before I started blogging, I’d read about 700 non-fiction books on topics including productivity, relationships, spirituality, health, finances, and more. I had a good understanding of the broad field of personal development. I also worked enough on my own personal growth to generate some unique ideas. When I started blogging, I’d already written about 20 articles between 1999 and 2003, some of which became popular online. I’d also been paid for about 6 articles by CNET ($1000 per 1000-word article). So I’d earned some money on the side from my writing before I started writing for a living. Moreover, when I started my blog, I’d been running an online computer games business for 10 years. During the first 5 years of that business, I turned $20,000 cash into $150,000 debt. I had to learn a lot of difficult lessons about how to run a profitable business, most of which had nothing to do with money. My most important lessons actually had to do with developing and trusting my intuition and using it to make major business decisions. I had learned how to succeed as an entrepreneur long years before I started blogging. So yes, my blog became an overnight success, but that night was about 15 years long. I don’t know too many successful bloggers who jumped into the blogosphere with no meaningful experience and did well off the bat. Most had something in their backgrounds that prepared them for blogging success. It may have been a previous job that helped them build good work habits and discipline while stockpiling many great ideas. These people really weren’t starting from scratch. They had a decent skill set and a proven ability to create value. They started blogging because they had something of value to share. Paying Your Dues The reason so many bloggers fail to build a significant audience is that they haven’t paid their dues yet on the skill side. They get drawn in by the lure of passive income, but they don’t have the skills to deliver on the service side. Passive income is certainly nice to have, but it shouldn’t be your primary motivation. What will you do when you have tons of passive income? Wait for death? Passive income is a means to an end, but what’s the end you’re after? There are a lot of reasons certain blogs get a lot of traffic, but I’d say the #1 reason is that they deserve it. They provide lots of value, and word of mouth builds traffic. If a blogger generates no word of mouth traffic growth, the reason is simple: Visitors don’t value the blogger’s content… at least not enough to tell anyone else about it. Another way of saying this is that if you aren’t seeing a steady growth in referrals for your professional work, it’s because your work isn’t very good. Sure there are some ways to game the system, but I consistently see that the high-traffic blogs deliver a lot of value to people, whether that be education, entertainment, inspiration, creative ideas, or some other form of value. The top blogs ultimately deliver what people want. Most of the failed blogs deserve to fail. The bloggers have nothing special to say. Instead of being inspired to write, they try to meet a certain quota of posts. They think studying search engine optimization can make up for lousy content. That’s like a bad poet concluding that the key to great poetry is better fonts. Early Skill-Building Pays Off You’ll probably have a hard time building momentum in any new endeavor if you fail to pay the price and develop your skills. I know it’s hard to be patient, but your early skill-building work can pay off massively down the road, not just for yourself but for all the people you’ll eventually help. Every field has a core set of basic skills. If you commit to mastery of those skills over a period of years, you’ll probably do very well in your field. If you try to shortcut the process, get used to disappointment. For example, some of the core skills that are important in my current line of work are: Personal development knowledge – A broad base of knowledge of existing ideas, systems, and methods that can foster growth in the areas of health, relationships, career, money, habits, and spirituality. Writing – Being able to express thoughts clearly through written language. Knowledge of basic grammar as well as high-level structural elements like unity and coherence. Speaking – Presentation skills as well as comfort speaking in front of a live audience. There are many details here including knowledge of sound equipment and microphones, humor skills, and vocal variety. Web/technical skills – Functional understanding of blogging and web technologies such as email, RSS feeds, discussion forums, and social bookmarking. Business skills – Ability to manage general business responsibilities such as accounting, taxes, legal contracts, record keeping, and payroll. Interpersonal skills – Networking with others in the field, avoid isolation/cocooning. Many great opportunities will come through the connections you build. With the exception of #3, I developed all of these core skills to a reasonable degree of proficiency before I even started blogging. I developed #3 to a reasonable level before I started speaking professionally. If I had jumped into blogging without these core skills, it would have been much harder to succeed. I simply wouldn’t have been ready. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I started my computer games business. I had good technical skills, but my business skills and interpersonal skills were weak. I had no clue how to run a profitable business, and I didn’t understand networking. At first I was too isolated, and then I kept doing business with people who were either dishonest or incompetent. It didn’t matter that I was a smart programmer. My lack of skill in the other critical areas dragged down the whole business. It was only when I developed basic competency in my weak areas that the business finally became profitable. That took about 5 years working full-time (and often beyond full-time). Accepting the Price of Skill If you pick a field you’re passionate about, the skill-building work won’t seem so bad. You can actually enjoy it. I enjoyed learning about business even while my games business was failing during the first few years. I had so much to learn that even the most poorly written books offered me a wealth of ideas. The skill-building process never ends. I continue to study personal development because I want to keep integrating fresh new ideas. I listen to audio programs on my iPod, and my reading queue is always filled with dozens of books. Even though I’ve written a book of my own as well as hundreds of articles, I never think of myself as being done with the learning process. There are always new ideas and perspectives to consider. Before I wrote my first book, Personal Development for Smart People, I read at least four books on how to write a book, all of them written by experienced authors. I’ve already written enough articles to fill 20 books, but writing a coherent book was an entirely different beast. Making a study of book writing helped me avoid some pitfalls that might otherwise have caused me to stumble. If I didn’t keep building my knowledge and skill, it would be fair to say that my blog should be displaced by someone else who’s willing to make that kind of commitment. Planting Your Skill Seeds When you start building a skill, it’s like planting a seed. You may have to water it for a while before you see any results. But eventually you get a nice harvest that makes it all worthwhile. What skills might you begin building today that could really come in handy 5-10 years from now? Ten years might seem like a long time, but it doesn’t matter. That time is going to pass no matter what you do. It’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself there someday. When that day arrives, you’ll either have a decade of skill-building behind you, or you won’t. It’s up to you to decide which path you’ll take. If you don’t consciously commit to the path of skill-building, you settle for stagnation by default. Please don’t do that to yourself. Before I started my blog, I could see that if I got on this path, I’d eventually end up doing some speaking. That’s a reasonable expectation for people who work in this field. I was an okay speaker but certainly not great. I recognized it would probably take many years to get really good at speaking because I’d never made a serious study of it. So I starting working on my speaking skills in 2004. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far, but I know I can always get better. So I keep working on my skills in this area and trying new things. When I look back on my previous 15 years of skill-building, I’m very grateful. It was a big investment to be sure, but all that work is really paying off. I can also see that if I keep building my skills as I’m doing now, especially in the area of professional speaking, the payoff will be huge. I’m a much better speaker today than I was in 2004, and if I just keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be an even better speaker several years from now. The seeds have already been planted; all I have to do is keep watering them. I’ll never be perfect, and there are people who have more natural talent than I do, but I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to keep getting better. Being perfect is impossible, but I can guarantee that I’ll get better just by continuing to study and practice. When you commit to building your skills in any area, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to grow. If you wait for perfection, you’ll never go out and apply your skills. Amateur vs. Pro Am I suggesting that you need to develop a certain baseline level of skill before embarking on a professional path? I’d say yes. If you don’t have a good baseline skill level, you’ll do more harm than good. You probably don’t want an unskilled mechanic messing with your car. Nor would you want an unskilled surgeon slicing up your abdomen. Similarly, you’re unlikely to enjoy reading the work of an unskilled blogger or being bored to tears by an unskilled speaker. How do you know if you have the right level of baseline skill to go pro? Perhaps the most obvious sign is that people will begin to suggest it. People will say, “Wow, you are such a great cook! You should have your own restaurant.” This is what happened with me. While running my games business, I was writing articles on the side to help other software developers. Eventually people started telling me, “Wow, those are really great articles. You’re a talented writer.” I thought that was strange because I’d never thought of myself as a writer before. I just thought it would be nice to share ideas with other game developers. In addition to positive feedback, I started getting requests for new articles: “Steve, can you write an article about X?” Then webmasters and online publishers began asking permission to republish my articles in their newsletters or on their websites. Soon people started asking to translate my articles into other languages, and before I knew it, I had a Russian fan site. Some articles were eventually translated into more than a dozen different languages. Further down the road, CNET offered to pay me to write some original articles for them, which I did for several months. By the time I started blogging, it was already pretty clear that I had a good enough baseline skill level to go pro as a writer. I started writing articles in 1999. I didn’t start blogging until 5 years later. So I’ve actually been writing articles for 9 years now. Even though I didn’t write many articles during those first 5 years, I had the opportunity to digest a lot of feedback from them. A lot of people try to bypass this process. They want success without effort. Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. You have to pay your dues. Otherwise you’ll quit too soon or you’ll sabotage yourself because you’ll know you aren’t ready to go pro. You’ll look at others in your field and feel intimidated instead of welcomed. Or you just won’t have the skills to express yourself in a way that creates value for others. The blogosphere is filled with amateur writers pretending to be professionals. That’s why the blogosphere is littered with dead blogs. The amateurs give up within 6 months or less because they aren’t committed to the skill-building years. If you want to be a true professional in a certain line of work, don’t neglect the effort of skill-building. It’s hard work, but it does pay off. Building skill over a period of years is how you go from amateur to pro. The pros commit for the long haul. The universe doesn’t really say no, but sometimes it says not yet.
    Jul 12, 2011 702
  • 12 Jul 2011
    In case you haven’t noticed the links I splattered all over StevePavlina.com during the weekend, my new book Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com (with a discount off the cover price). The official release date is October 15, 2008, so we still have about three months to go before it’s publicly available. I was told the book will go to the printer on July 15. The initial print run is 30,000 copies. I’ve been fairly quiet about the book up to this point, but I’m happy to share some details about it now. Personal Development for Smart People will be published by Hay House. Hay House is the #1 self-help book publisher in the world. Other authors they’ve published include Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and hundreds more. Founder Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life has sold over 35 million copies and continues to sell about a million copies a year. Wow! The best part is that Hay House came to me, so I didn’t have to go through the slush pile submission process. They originally found me because I reviewed their 2006 I Can Do It! seminar in my blog. From there they checked out some of my articles and liked what they saw. Cool, eh? The book will come out in hardcover with a retail price of $24.95, but you can get it for a good discount online. Amazon.com currently has the lowest price. If you pre-order the book from them, they guarantee you’ll get the lowest price they offer between now and the book’s release. Last I checked they were selling it for about $16. About a year after the hardcover release, the paperback version will be released. Apparently that’s fairly common in book publishing. It’s possible there may be an audio version if the book sells well, but so far there’s been no commitment to that. If Hay House sees demand for an audio version, I’ll be happy to record one. This week the book’s Amazon sales rank has been bobbling around in the 3,000 to 10,000 range. It’s been popping on and off the top 100 lists for the motivational and personal transformation categories. It’s no Harry Potter, but I imagine that’s pretty good for a book that’s still three months from release. Book vs. Blog Personal Development for Smart People definitely isn’t a rehashing of previous blog posts or articles. The ideas in the book are new and original. Only a small portion of the content is based on existing material from this website. This is a very unique book. Even if you’ve read 1000 or more personal development books like I have, I dare say you’ve never read anything quite like this. You’ll find this to be an incredibly well-structured book. I spent a disgusting amount of time on the book’s high-level organization to make it as clear and easy to follow as I could. I put a lot of effort into achieving a good left-brain / right-brain balance for the content. Even though I’m left-handed (and supposedly right-brained), I tend to be very left-brained and analytical in my writing, so I made a special effort to include plenty of right-brained material such as personal stories and application exercises to illustrate the book’s key points. Even so, this is a very content-rich book. I shied away from including anything that seemed lightweight or fluffy. I wanted to ensure that every page would feature hard-hitting ideas. Since I worked with a publisher, the book was professionally edited. I’ve never worked with an editor before this project, and I was very impressed with how much the editing process improved the text. The editing work went way beyond checking for typos and tweaking sentence structure. I received a ton of feedback that I used to improve the ideas, stories, and examples as well. I received a copy of the proofs last week, and I love the design and layout Hay House created for the interior of the book. It has an almost mathematical look to it — you won’t find any flowers or butterfly patterns on the inside. How This Book Came to Be I originally started writing Personal Development for Smart People in the Spring of 2005, more than three years ago. My plan was to write a very grounded, practical book of personal development advice. I’d been blogging for less than a year at that point, but I had plenty of ideas to fill a book. I completed an outline, did a ton of research, and wrote three chapters (about 30,000 words). Then realized I had a problem. I felt I just wasn’t going deep enough. The book had many unique ideas, and the writing was solid, but I was disappointed with how it was turning out. It didn’t strike me as truly inspired. I said to myself, “This isn’t me. This isn’t the book I’m supposed to write. I can do better than this.” But at the time, I didn’t know how to write a better book. I began to sense there were deeper truths I needed to discover before I could write the book I felt I was meant to write. So I put the project on hold for a couple years. During that time I received unsolicited offers from three different book publishers, but I turned them all down. The timing just wasn’t right. I’d written many articles about personal growth, but I still didn’t have a clear definition of what it means to grow as a conscious human being. What the heck does it mean to grow anyway? Basically it means you make your life better in some way. But how do we define better? I realized that if I was going to write a book about personal growth, I needed a clear answer to these questions. It was clear that my original outline for the book had to be scrapped. We have all these experts giving us different rules for how to manage our health, our relationships, our finances, our spiritual development, etc. But why should we compartmentalize our lives like this? Why should growth be so complicated? I wanted to find a smarter, simpler approach — a set of universal principles that we can trust no matter what problems or circumstances we face in life. Like many others in the field, I’d been writing about the branches of personal development, but what was really needed was a book about the roots. The Core Principles of Personal Growth Well… it took about 2-1/2 years, but I eventually discovered the core universal principles I was seeking. The process wasn’t remotely easy, but the end result is a book I feel incredibly good about. I honestly expect this book will permanently change the way you think about personal growth. Instead of a monstrous sea of complexity, this book simplifies all growth efforts to a fairly simple set of core principles. Those principles can be summarized by this diagram: There are seven principles total: truth, love, power, oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence. All of these are universal principles, so they can be applied to any area of your life — health, relationships, spiritual development, finances, daily habits, etc. These principles are so universal that you can pick up any decent self-help book, and you’ll be able to recognize some combination of these principles in the writing. These principles are the roots. Truth, love, and power are the primary principles. The other principles are secondary because they can be derived from the first three. The diagram shows how this works: Oneness = Truth + Love Authority = Truth + Power Courage = Love + Power Intelligence = Truth + Love + Power What arises from this model is a new definition of human intelligence: Intelligence is one’s degree of alignment with truth, love, and power. You can’t be intelligent if you turn your back on truth and succumb to falsehood and denial. Similarly, it isn’t intelligent to withdraw and isolate yourself from everyone and everything because that would rob you of all your best learning and growth experiences. And lastly, it isn’t intelligent to weaken and disempower yourself. You can’t live as a truly intelligent human being unless you’re willing to embrace truth, love, and power. Intelligence is our highest expression of personal growth. The purest aim of all growth efforts is to live as intelligently as we can. We aren’t talking about IQ here. We’re talking about aligning ourselves with the true nature of reality instead of railing against it. This requires that we continually strive to become more truthful, more loving, and more powerful — both as individuals and collectively. Anything that turns us away from truth, love, and power also makes us less intelligent. I realize these principles must sound very abstract, but in practice they’re extremely practical and grounded once you learn how they work. Any solid personal development book will give you advice for bringing your life into better alignment with truth, love, and/or power. Unfortunately the vast majority of books do this in a very partial, fragmented way. For example, suppose you read a book about wealth strategies. Such books will usually try to teach you how to make more money by increasing your financial authority. You’ll be taught some financial rules (truth), and you’ll be encouraged to take specific actions (power). But it’s rare that you’ll encounter money-oriented books that successfully incorporate the principles of love and oneness. What you often get is a cold, largely heartless approach to making money centered on greed and pushing yourself to succeed. If you’re a fairly conscious person, such strategies will only make you nauseous, and you’ll fail to achieve the level of financial abundance such books promise. It’s time to set aside these partial solutions. It’s time for us to transition to a holistic approach to personal growth that satisfies our heads, hearts, and spirits. No more compromises. Table of Contents Here’s the Table of Contents for the book: ————————– Introduction Part I: Fundamental Principles Chapter 1: Truth Chapter 2: Love Chapter 3: Power Chapter 4: Oneness Chapter 5: Authority Chapter 6: Courage Chapter 7: Intelligence Part II: Practical Application Chapter 8: Habits Chapter 9: Career Chapter 10: Money Chapter 11: Health Chapter 12: Relationships Chapter 13: Spirituality Afterword About the Author Resources ————————– As you can see, the book is organized into two parts, which you can think of as theory and application. Part I explains the seven core principles, one chapter per principle. This part of the book is intended to give you a new “big picture” model for understanding what it means to grow as a conscious human being. This is a holistic model, not a fragmented approach. Although the high-level concepts may seem a little abstract at first, there are plenty of stories, real-world examples, and exercises to teach you how these principles work on a practical level. I think you’ll find this material fairly easy to understand. Part II is all about the practical application. After you learn how the principles work, you’ll receive an abundance of instruction on how to apply each of the seven principles to improve your results in six major areas of your life: habits, career, money, health, relationships, and spirituality. By the time you’ve finished the book, you should have such a clear understanding of the principles that you’ll be able to apply them to any problem or situation you face in life. The Universal Principles of Conscious Growth The seven principles function as a universal growth compass. You can use them to diagnose any problem or challenge you face, and they’ll always point you in the direction of positive growth and change. Because the principles are universal, it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a health problem, financial problem, relationship problem, spiritual problem, or just general laziness or confusion about what to do with your life. These principles will help you gain a level of clarity you’ve probably never experienced before. The great thing about universal principles is that once you understand how they work, you can apply them to solve an endless variety of specific, real-world problems. Consider that after we figured out the fundamental laws of mathematics and physics, we became empowered to solve a wide variety of practical problems. If we didn’t discover those principles first, it would have been impossible for us to create rich structures such as the Internet. While physical laws empower us within the physical universe, the laws of conscious growth empower us within the conscious universe. These laws are so universal that if your consciousness survives your physical death, you could continue to use these principles to further your conscious growth in the afterlife. The principles are independent of physicality, even though they can be applied with great effect in the physical universe. I like to think of them as the underlying geometry of consciousness itself. If you’re dealing with a major problem in your life right now, I guarantee that your specific problem can be redefined as a problem of alignment with one or more of the three primary principles. Either you’re having a problem with truth, allowing too much falsehood and denial to creep into your life. Or you’re having a problem with love, failing to reach out and connect with the people, ideas, and activities that are most compatible with you. Or you’re having a problem with power, wallowing in weakness and/or cowardice instead of feeling strong and taking consistent action. In many cases you’ll have issues with all three areas. Benefits of a Principle-Centered Approach I know this book will have an impact on you because these ideas have had such a huge impact on me. For the past several months, I’ve been doing my best to bring my life into greater alignment with truth, love, and power. The results have been amazing. I’ve experienced major breakthroughs in every area of my life. For example, my transition to a 100% raw vegan diet earlier this year was largely a result of discovering these principles. After multiple failed attempts at going raw, I finally gained the perspective I needed to make the leap. That diet has been working wonderfully for me, and today I’m enjoying an almost ridiculous abundance of physical, mental, and emotional energy. I had similar breakthroughs in overcoming some blocks in my relationship with Erin, gaining clarity about my future career path, increasing my spiritual centeredness, improving my speaking skills, and feeling more deeply committed to my life purpose. I even beat my course record at disc golf yesterday. Whenever I’m facing a problem or challenge now, I immediately turn to these principles. They allow me to generalize the specific problem I’m having, reinterpreting it as a problem of alignment with truth, love, and/or power. Once I redefine the problem in these simple terms, I can apply the known solutions to solve the problem in a general way. Then I can use that general solution to devise a specific solution to the real-world problem. The process is similar to how you might define a physical world problem as a math problem. Once you solve the math problem on paper, you essentially have a solution to the real-world equivalent. Since we’re dealing with problems of consciousness instead of physical objects, the solutions aren’t as crisp and precise as mathematical formulas, but I think they’re as close as we can reasonably get. Perhaps the most important benefit is that we gain a clear sense of where the solution lies, so we don’t have to waste so much time and energy making futile growth attempts that can’t possibly work. Principle-Centered Balance Most likely you’ll find that your current alignment with these principles is unbalanced. My strongest areas are truth and power. I usually have to work harder to stay aligned with love. Erin’s strongest areas are truth and love. She finds it much more difficult to stay aligned with power. One of the great benefits of our 14-year relationship is that Erin and I do a great job of balancing each other. She helps me become a more loving, compassionate person, while I encourage her to pursue her dreams and goals with more energy and less fear. If you’re in a relationship right now, I think you’ll really enjoy Chapter 12 of the book, which explains how truth, love, and power dynamics play out in our relationships. That chapter alone could save you years of frustration by helping you avoid incompatible relationships. You’ll discover what you should look for in a truly compatible partner who can help you grow. As you continue to increase your alignment with truth, love, and power, you’ll find that your life keeps getting better and better. You’ll solve problems more easily, enjoy a flow of abundance, and have the strength and energy to tackle meaningful goals. But when you fall out of alignment with any of these principles, you’ll find your situation stagnating or declining; however, the bright side is that you can diagnose where you went wrong and clearly see how to get back on track. Very interestingly, aligning ourselves with truth, love, and power also points us in the direction of service to others. The principle of oneness (truth + love) tells us that we’re all inherently connected. We can’t isolate ourselves from other people or from the problems of the world. When we step out of our cocoons and grasp the truth that we’re all one, we can achieve an incredible synergy between helping ourselves and serving others at the same time. OK, I’ve blabbed enough about the book for now. Obviously I’m very passionate and excited about these ideas. It pains me to have to wait three more months to see people reading it, but the benefit of working with a strong publisher is that they’ll help spread these ideas well beyond the Internet, reaching people that otherwise may not have found this website. If this book sounds like it would be helpful to you, please take a moment to pre-order Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth at Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com. The book will be shipped to you as soon as it’s available.
    820 Posted by UniqueThis
  • In case you haven’t noticed the links I splattered all over StevePavlina.com during the weekend, my new book Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com (with a discount off the cover price). The official release date is October 15, 2008, so we still have about three months to go before it’s publicly available. I was told the book will go to the printer on July 15. The initial print run is 30,000 copies. I’ve been fairly quiet about the book up to this point, but I’m happy to share some details about it now. Personal Development for Smart People will be published by Hay House. Hay House is the #1 self-help book publisher in the world. Other authors they’ve published include Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and hundreds more. Founder Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life has sold over 35 million copies and continues to sell about a million copies a year. Wow! The best part is that Hay House came to me, so I didn’t have to go through the slush pile submission process. They originally found me because I reviewed their 2006 I Can Do It! seminar in my blog. From there they checked out some of my articles and liked what they saw. Cool, eh? The book will come out in hardcover with a retail price of $24.95, but you can get it for a good discount online. Amazon.com currently has the lowest price. If you pre-order the book from them, they guarantee you’ll get the lowest price they offer between now and the book’s release. Last I checked they were selling it for about $16. About a year after the hardcover release, the paperback version will be released. Apparently that’s fairly common in book publishing. It’s possible there may be an audio version if the book sells well, but so far there’s been no commitment to that. If Hay House sees demand for an audio version, I’ll be happy to record one. This week the book’s Amazon sales rank has been bobbling around in the 3,000 to 10,000 range. It’s been popping on and off the top 100 lists for the motivational and personal transformation categories. It’s no Harry Potter, but I imagine that’s pretty good for a book that’s still three months from release. Book vs. Blog Personal Development for Smart People definitely isn’t a rehashing of previous blog posts or articles. The ideas in the book are new and original. Only a small portion of the content is based on existing material from this website. This is a very unique book. Even if you’ve read 1000 or more personal development books like I have, I dare say you’ve never read anything quite like this. You’ll find this to be an incredibly well-structured book. I spent a disgusting amount of time on the book’s high-level organization to make it as clear and easy to follow as I could. I put a lot of effort into achieving a good left-brain / right-brain balance for the content. Even though I’m left-handed (and supposedly right-brained), I tend to be very left-brained and analytical in my writing, so I made a special effort to include plenty of right-brained material such as personal stories and application exercises to illustrate the book’s key points. Even so, this is a very content-rich book. I shied away from including anything that seemed lightweight or fluffy. I wanted to ensure that every page would feature hard-hitting ideas. Since I worked with a publisher, the book was professionally edited. I’ve never worked with an editor before this project, and I was very impressed with how much the editing process improved the text. The editing work went way beyond checking for typos and tweaking sentence structure. I received a ton of feedback that I used to improve the ideas, stories, and examples as well. I received a copy of the proofs last week, and I love the design and layout Hay House created for the interior of the book. It has an almost mathematical look to it — you won’t find any flowers or butterfly patterns on the inside. How This Book Came to Be I originally started writing Personal Development for Smart People in the Spring of 2005, more than three years ago. My plan was to write a very grounded, practical book of personal development advice. I’d been blogging for less than a year at that point, but I had plenty of ideas to fill a book. I completed an outline, did a ton of research, and wrote three chapters (about 30,000 words). Then realized I had a problem. I felt I just wasn’t going deep enough. The book had many unique ideas, and the writing was solid, but I was disappointed with how it was turning out. It didn’t strike me as truly inspired. I said to myself, “This isn’t me. This isn’t the book I’m supposed to write. I can do better than this.” But at the time, I didn’t know how to write a better book. I began to sense there were deeper truths I needed to discover before I could write the book I felt I was meant to write. So I put the project on hold for a couple years. During that time I received unsolicited offers from three different book publishers, but I turned them all down. The timing just wasn’t right. I’d written many articles about personal growth, but I still didn’t have a clear definition of what it means to grow as a conscious human being. What the heck does it mean to grow anyway? Basically it means you make your life better in some way. But how do we define better? I realized that if I was going to write a book about personal growth, I needed a clear answer to these questions. It was clear that my original outline for the book had to be scrapped. We have all these experts giving us different rules for how to manage our health, our relationships, our finances, our spiritual development, etc. But why should we compartmentalize our lives like this? Why should growth be so complicated? I wanted to find a smarter, simpler approach — a set of universal principles that we can trust no matter what problems or circumstances we face in life. Like many others in the field, I’d been writing about the branches of personal development, but what was really needed was a book about the roots. The Core Principles of Personal Growth Well… it took about 2-1/2 years, but I eventually discovered the core universal principles I was seeking. The process wasn’t remotely easy, but the end result is a book I feel incredibly good about. I honestly expect this book will permanently change the way you think about personal growth. Instead of a monstrous sea of complexity, this book simplifies all growth efforts to a fairly simple set of core principles. Those principles can be summarized by this diagram: There are seven principles total: truth, love, power, oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence. All of these are universal principles, so they can be applied to any area of your life — health, relationships, spiritual development, finances, daily habits, etc. These principles are so universal that you can pick up any decent self-help book, and you’ll be able to recognize some combination of these principles in the writing. These principles are the roots. Truth, love, and power are the primary principles. The other principles are secondary because they can be derived from the first three. The diagram shows how this works: Oneness = Truth + Love Authority = Truth + Power Courage = Love + Power Intelligence = Truth + Love + Power What arises from this model is a new definition of human intelligence: Intelligence is one’s degree of alignment with truth, love, and power. You can’t be intelligent if you turn your back on truth and succumb to falsehood and denial. Similarly, it isn’t intelligent to withdraw and isolate yourself from everyone and everything because that would rob you of all your best learning and growth experiences. And lastly, it isn’t intelligent to weaken and disempower yourself. You can’t live as a truly intelligent human being unless you’re willing to embrace truth, love, and power. Intelligence is our highest expression of personal growth. The purest aim of all growth efforts is to live as intelligently as we can. We aren’t talking about IQ here. We’re talking about aligning ourselves with the true nature of reality instead of railing against it. This requires that we continually strive to become more truthful, more loving, and more powerful — both as individuals and collectively. Anything that turns us away from truth, love, and power also makes us less intelligent. I realize these principles must sound very abstract, but in practice they’re extremely practical and grounded once you learn how they work. Any solid personal development book will give you advice for bringing your life into better alignment with truth, love, and/or power. Unfortunately the vast majority of books do this in a very partial, fragmented way. For example, suppose you read a book about wealth strategies. Such books will usually try to teach you how to make more money by increasing your financial authority. You’ll be taught some financial rules (truth), and you’ll be encouraged to take specific actions (power). But it’s rare that you’ll encounter money-oriented books that successfully incorporate the principles of love and oneness. What you often get is a cold, largely heartless approach to making money centered on greed and pushing yourself to succeed. If you’re a fairly conscious person, such strategies will only make you nauseous, and you’ll fail to achieve the level of financial abundance such books promise. It’s time to set aside these partial solutions. It’s time for us to transition to a holistic approach to personal growth that satisfies our heads, hearts, and spirits. No more compromises. Table of Contents Here’s the Table of Contents for the book: ————————– Introduction Part I: Fundamental Principles Chapter 1: Truth Chapter 2: Love Chapter 3: Power Chapter 4: Oneness Chapter 5: Authority Chapter 6: Courage Chapter 7: Intelligence Part II: Practical Application Chapter 8: Habits Chapter 9: Career Chapter 10: Money Chapter 11: Health Chapter 12: Relationships Chapter 13: Spirituality Afterword About the Author Resources ————————– As you can see, the book is organized into two parts, which you can think of as theory and application. Part I explains the seven core principles, one chapter per principle. This part of the book is intended to give you a new “big picture” model for understanding what it means to grow as a conscious human being. This is a holistic model, not a fragmented approach. Although the high-level concepts may seem a little abstract at first, there are plenty of stories, real-world examples, and exercises to teach you how these principles work on a practical level. I think you’ll find this material fairly easy to understand. Part II is all about the practical application. After you learn how the principles work, you’ll receive an abundance of instruction on how to apply each of the seven principles to improve your results in six major areas of your life: habits, career, money, health, relationships, and spirituality. By the time you’ve finished the book, you should have such a clear understanding of the principles that you’ll be able to apply them to any problem or situation you face in life. The Universal Principles of Conscious Growth The seven principles function as a universal growth compass. You can use them to diagnose any problem or challenge you face, and they’ll always point you in the direction of positive growth and change. Because the principles are universal, it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a health problem, financial problem, relationship problem, spiritual problem, or just general laziness or confusion about what to do with your life. These principles will help you gain a level of clarity you’ve probably never experienced before. The great thing about universal principles is that once you understand how they work, you can apply them to solve an endless variety of specific, real-world problems. Consider that after we figured out the fundamental laws of mathematics and physics, we became empowered to solve a wide variety of practical problems. If we didn’t discover those principles first, it would have been impossible for us to create rich structures such as the Internet. While physical laws empower us within the physical universe, the laws of conscious growth empower us within the conscious universe. These laws are so universal that if your consciousness survives your physical death, you could continue to use these principles to further your conscious growth in the afterlife. The principles are independent of physicality, even though they can be applied with great effect in the physical universe. I like to think of them as the underlying geometry of consciousness itself. If you’re dealing with a major problem in your life right now, I guarantee that your specific problem can be redefined as a problem of alignment with one or more of the three primary principles. Either you’re having a problem with truth, allowing too much falsehood and denial to creep into your life. Or you’re having a problem with love, failing to reach out and connect with the people, ideas, and activities that are most compatible with you. Or you’re having a problem with power, wallowing in weakness and/or cowardice instead of feeling strong and taking consistent action. In many cases you’ll have issues with all three areas. Benefits of a Principle-Centered Approach I know this book will have an impact on you because these ideas have had such a huge impact on me. For the past several months, I’ve been doing my best to bring my life into greater alignment with truth, love, and power. The results have been amazing. I’ve experienced major breakthroughs in every area of my life. For example, my transition to a 100% raw vegan diet earlier this year was largely a result of discovering these principles. After multiple failed attempts at going raw, I finally gained the perspective I needed to make the leap. That diet has been working wonderfully for me, and today I’m enjoying an almost ridiculous abundance of physical, mental, and emotional energy. I had similar breakthroughs in overcoming some blocks in my relationship with Erin, gaining clarity about my future career path, increasing my spiritual centeredness, improving my speaking skills, and feeling more deeply committed to my life purpose. I even beat my course record at disc golf yesterday. Whenever I’m facing a problem or challenge now, I immediately turn to these principles. They allow me to generalize the specific problem I’m having, reinterpreting it as a problem of alignment with truth, love, and/or power. Once I redefine the problem in these simple terms, I can apply the known solutions to solve the problem in a general way. Then I can use that general solution to devise a specific solution to the real-world problem. The process is similar to how you might define a physical world problem as a math problem. Once you solve the math problem on paper, you essentially have a solution to the real-world equivalent. Since we’re dealing with problems of consciousness instead of physical objects, the solutions aren’t as crisp and precise as mathematical formulas, but I think they’re as close as we can reasonably get. Perhaps the most important benefit is that we gain a clear sense of where the solution lies, so we don’t have to waste so much time and energy making futile growth attempts that can’t possibly work. Principle-Centered Balance Most likely you’ll find that your current alignment with these principles is unbalanced. My strongest areas are truth and power. I usually have to work harder to stay aligned with love. Erin’s strongest areas are truth and love. She finds it much more difficult to stay aligned with power. One of the great benefits of our 14-year relationship is that Erin and I do a great job of balancing each other. She helps me become a more loving, compassionate person, while I encourage her to pursue her dreams and goals with more energy and less fear. If you’re in a relationship right now, I think you’ll really enjoy Chapter 12 of the book, which explains how truth, love, and power dynamics play out in our relationships. That chapter alone could save you years of frustration by helping you avoid incompatible relationships. You’ll discover what you should look for in a truly compatible partner who can help you grow. As you continue to increase your alignment with truth, love, and power, you’ll find that your life keeps getting better and better. You’ll solve problems more easily, enjoy a flow of abundance, and have the strength and energy to tackle meaningful goals. But when you fall out of alignment with any of these principles, you’ll find your situation stagnating or declining; however, the bright side is that you can diagnose where you went wrong and clearly see how to get back on track. Very interestingly, aligning ourselves with truth, love, and power also points us in the direction of service to others. The principle of oneness (truth + love) tells us that we’re all inherently connected. We can’t isolate ourselves from other people or from the problems of the world. When we step out of our cocoons and grasp the truth that we’re all one, we can achieve an incredible synergy between helping ourselves and serving others at the same time. OK, I’ve blabbed enough about the book for now. Obviously I’m very passionate and excited about these ideas. It pains me to have to wait three more months to see people reading it, but the benefit of working with a strong publisher is that they’ll help spread these ideas well beyond the Internet, reaching people that otherwise may not have found this website. If this book sounds like it would be helpful to you, please take a moment to pre-order Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth at Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com. The book will be shipped to you as soon as it’s available.
    Jul 12, 2011 820
  • 12 Jul 2011
    If you’re attracted to many different pursuits and can’t commit to any single one of them for your career, college major, or income source, then good for you! Leonardo da Vinci was in the same boat. He’s considered by many to be the greatest genius of all time. The notion that you have to commit to a single trade for life (or even for a decade or two) makes sense if you want to live like an industrial worker drone. But then you’re just filling the role of a cog in a giant machine, perfectly disposable and easily replaced by similar cogs. Let me guess… the people telling you (maybe even yelling at you) to pick one thing and commit to it are also on the drone path themselves, right? Do you honestly want their results? Or would you like something better? It’s perfectly okay to reject the drone path, you know. Lots of people do, and they’re much happier for it. But they aren’t the same people that will tell you, “Pick one thing and stick to it, or you’ll never amount to anything.” Instead they’ll probably say, “The more interests you pursue, the smarter you’ll become.” There’s no rule that says you must commit to being a drone I don’t want to commit to any one thing for life. I don’t even like committing to just one thing for a month. I have too many interests. If I picked just one thing and let all the rest go, I wouldn’t be happy. I’d just feel trapped. So I chose to reject that option. I can see that it isn’t right for me. Hmmm… for some reason the people that said I should specialize got a lot quieter when my eclectic interests started paying off financially. Presently I enjoy writing, blogging, speaking, podcasting, online business, studying self-improvement, philosophy, humor, disc golf, psychic development, etc. Why should I pick just one? Am I a blogger, an author, a speaker, a personal development expert, an Internet entrepreneur? So I have a chaotic resume. Who cares? In the past I trained in martial arts (tae kwon do and kempo), did lots of distance running including a marathon, learned to count cards at blackjack, performed with a comedy improv troupe, learned to juggle, designed and programmed computer games, and did lots of other things I enjoyed. Many of these activities were pursued on weekdays between the hours of 9am and 5pm. But guess what… nobody came to arrest me for it. The earth didn’t spin off its axis because I failed to pick just one thing. If you have lots of interests, people will complain. Let them. It might be hard to see it unless you hang out with me in person, but I switch back and forth between various interests all the time. Sometimes I’m really dedicated to writing/blogging for several days in a row. Other times I’ll put my blog on the back burner, and I’ll spend more time speaking or just working on personal growth. Sometimes people complain when I slack off on blogging to pursue other interests, but I retain the freedom to make that choice when I know it’s right for me. Since there are hundreds of free articles in the archives and 21 free podcasts, and since the forums are available 24/7, I don’t feel like I have to post something every day to keep the blog going. If my blog starts to feel like a “monkey on my back,” I simply let it go for a while. Then I pick it up again when I’m inspired to return to it. Whenever I pull back from one area to pursue another, I get the “What happened to you? Where have you been?” questions. If I take a few months off from going to Toastmasters meetings (such as I did while writing my book), my friends wonder what happened to me. Did I fall off the planet? Am I quitting the club? If I don’t blog for a week, somebody may start a new “Is Steve dead?” discussion in the forums. I just accept that this happens. It’s a natural consequence of having a variety of interests. I’m not dead. I’m just switching modes. This week I’m really inspired to do some blogging. Earlier this year I was more focused on writing my book. Later this year I’ll be doing a lot of work to promote my book. Many interests = faster growth = becoming smarter The benefit of having lots of different interests is that you train your brain to learn many new patterns. The patterns you learn in one field can then be applied to totally different fields to solve problems creatively. Within a single field, the dominant experts tend to develop tunnel vision. They get attached to certain patterns. They frequently network with each other, so they all know each other’s favorite patterns. This definitely happens in the field of personal development. But often the people who do the most innovative work are the outsiders who arrive with fresh patterns that the existing experts haven’t been exposed to. This is great because these outsiders can stimulate lots of growth. Albert Einstein is a good example. While he worked as a patent clerk, he had virtually no contact with the mainstream physics community. One of the reasons I’ve been so successful as a personal development blogger is that I came into this field as an outsider. My college degrees are in computer science and mathematics, not psychology or philosophy. Because of my background, I often notice patterns that other people in this field overlook (or simply discount). What makes me different from most other experts in this field is that I tend to think in binary and algorithmic terms. When you write a computer program, either it produces the desired output or it doesn’t. A math problem is either solved or it isn’t. You can’t use a half-assed or fuzzy approach in those fields and expect to succeed. Either you’re right or you’re wrong. Either you have a solution that works, or you don’t. There isn’t much of an in-between where you can squeak by. If you want to succeed in computer science or math, you have to be good at solving problems. Your solutions have to actually work. You can’t fake it or B.S. your way into a computer’s good graces and expect it to ignore your personal failings. If you’re wrong, you get zero results. A bad program usually doesn’t degrade gracefully — the program simply won’t run at all. When I got interested in personal development, one thing that really annoyed me was just how wishy washy and imprecise everything was. There were entire bookshelves filled with what I considered to be utter B.S. The books promised practical solutions to real problems, but inside all you’d find would be vapid drivel and stories of exaggerated results. After reading lots of computer programming books and learning precise solutions that would work properly every time, this was a big change for me. Since I like patterns that are very tight, precise, and effective, I dislike solutions that aren’t universal. I also dislike gray areas since I prefer to think in more black and white terms. So I’m inclined to say things like, “Either you’re doing what you love, or you aren’t. Which is it?” I know my approach won’t appeal to everyone, and more than once I’ve been accused of being too rigid in my thinking, but I also know there’s a place for this mindset in the self-help field. Similarly, if you were a psychologist coming into the field of computer science, you might be inclined to introduce problem-solving methods that allow for more fluidity and imprecision… such as fuzzy logic. When I wrote my book Personal Development for Smart People, I developed a pseudo-mathematical model for personal growth, including a complete structural framework I’ve never seen anywhere else in this field. I could have subtitled my book, “The hidden geometry of personal growth.” (If you follow that last link and scroll down a bit, you’ll see a triangle that represents the essence of that model.) Maybe we can’t get as precise as mathematics when dealing with conscious growth, but I think we can get a lot closer than we are now. If you like thinking about personal growth in fairly linear terms — i.e. tell me how to figure out what I want and how to get there — you’ll probably love my book. But if you prefer a more Zen-like, go-with-the-flow, allow-life-to-happen-to-you style, you’ll probably find my book too rigid for your tastes. Nevertheless, I have no doubt this book will carve out a strong position in its field (just as my blog has done) because its creative solutions and patterns will help people solve problems in new ways. Now imagine if I switched careers again. I could then apply patterns I learned from all the other fields I studied to produce creative, original work in that new field. Patterns from personal growth, math, computer science, blogging, martial arts, etc. would surely generate new solutions in seemingly unrelated fields. Even when I play disc golf with my friends, I apply patterns I learned in other fields. For example, my disc golf buddies all have a preferred throwing style for their drives — they almost always throw their drives using the same technique. But I will employ different throwing styles to adapt to the terrain. Sometimes I’ll do forehand throws, sometimes I’ll use backhand, and sometimes I’ll throw rollers — all within the same game. This means I don’t get as much practice with any single style, but I can be more flexible in adapting to the terrain. That was a very basic example, but “adapting solutions to the terrain” was actually a pattern I learned from computer programming. Programmers will often use different algorithms to solve essentially the same problem, adapting their solutions to the specific circumstances. There are lots of different sorting and searching algorithms, and the optimal solution depends on the particular problem you want to solve. When I play disc golf, I ask myself, “What is the correct throwing technique (algorithm) I need to use here to help me minimize (optimize) the number of throws it will take me to get to the basket (goal)?” You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities there are to use insights you learn in one field to solve problems in a seemingly unrelated field. The long-term benefit of cultivating many different interests is that you build a powerful toolkit of problem-solving patterns. This gives you more flexibility when facing certain challenges. People sometimes praise me for a brilliant insight that helped them solve a challenging problem when all I did was cross-pollinate a known solution pattern from one field to another. Making money from your varied interests – creative solutions It’s important to note that you don’t have to earn money from all of your interests. If you just dive in and pursue what you enjoy, you may be surprised to find out which interests help you generate income and which don’t. Most of my interests don’t generate any income directly, and that’s perfectly fine. But a lot of them do, including hosting advertising on this website, writing a book, doing professional speaking, and reviewing and recommending products. What earns me the most money right now? My income is fairly diversified, but the single most lucrative activity for me at present is reviewing and recommending products — not blogging or speaking. You might think I earn the most money from all the writing I do, but that isn’t how it works. Perhaps my writing is what creates the most value for others, but it doesn’t generate the most income… at least not directly. Publishers frequently send me information products to review. At any given time, I usually have 50-100 books and several days worth of audio/video in my queue. I listen to audio programs at the gym or on my computer at 2-4x playback speed, and I PhotoRead lots of books. (Incidentally, Learning Strategies is currently repeating their PhotoReading discount for StevePavlina.com readers this month — something they’ve done only once per year. I’ll make a separate blog post about that shortly after this one.) When I encounter something I really, really love and feel good about recommending, I work out a profit-sharing deal with the publisher in exchange for recommending and promoting their product on my site. This works great for information products because the profit margin is often 80% or higher, since the value is in the information, not the packaging. Usually I can also get them to offer my readers a better deal than if you bought from them directly. This arrangement is a win for the publishers because they gain many new customers with no marketing costs. A good product will do more than $100,000 in sales in the first 30 days if I recommend it. It’s a win for me because I get all the free products I could ever desire, and I earn six figures a year just from a handful of recommendations. Once I’ve posted my product review, I enjoy an ongoing passive income from ongoing sales, receiving commission checks every month. The benefit for my readers is that they get introduced to the best products I find — often with a discount or bonus and always with a money-back guarantee so there’s no risk. Additionally, all the free articles and podcasts are basically subsidized by this arrangement, so I can afford to invest many hours writing new articles like this one without having to charge for the information. All things considered, I think this is an incredibly fair deal for everyone. However, the honest truth is that while I enjoy reviewing and recommending products from time to time, I don’t want to turn this single activity into my full-time career. I don’t want my blog to become nothing but a product review site. What you may not realize though is that by deciding to pursue other interests, I’m leaving a lot of potential income on the table. If I really wanted to, I’m sure I could earn 5-10x more money from this website… virtually overnight. How to do that is a no-brainer. Instead of recommending just a few products per year, I could recommend a new product every week or two. I certainly have no shortage of products to choose from. But in order to get there, I’d have to do one of two things. The first option would be endorse more products, regardless of whether I thought they were any good. There are many products backed by slick marketing that sell well online, but the underlying information is worthless junk. I wouldn’t even need to look at the products, so that would save me tons of time. Some publishers actually offer me pre-written endorsement letters, and all I’d need to do would be to affix my name and send them off. You’ll encounter many Internet marketers who do this very thing, proudly recommending products they’ve never tried, just because they know it will make them money. I see the same endorsement letters I’ve been offered showing up in other people’s newsletters. Don’t worry though — you won’t see me going this route. Personally I can’t stomach the thought of doing anything like this. It isn’t aligned with truth and love, and it’s also the wrong polarity for me. I’m simply sharing that if my #1 goal was to earn more money by doing just one thing, I could certainly do it. But I think I’ll hang onto my soul for now. Since I can summarily reject the first option, the other option would be to review a lot more products. Hopefully by reviewing more products in less time, I’d be able to find more gems. If I did nothing but review and recommend products full-time, I could probably find 20-30 really good ones I could honestly recommend each year. But this would mean I’d have to dump a lot of my other interests, and I’m simply not willing to do that, even if it means earning 10x more money. I’m happier earning less money while maintaining a good balance of activities I enjoy. So I have to reject this option because it isn’t aligned with love. My point is that you don’t have to go after the option that makes you the most money. You can pursue many different interests and still find a creative mix that allows you to earn money AND maintain an abundant lifestyle AND be happy AND make a difference. It’s a huge mistake to pursue money at all costs, especially if you have to sacrifice so many of the things you love doing. Do what you enjoy, and leave the extra money on the table. I’ve met a few Internet marketers who will pimp themselves to promote any potentially lucrative products they come across, milking their lists for as much money as they can, without even trying the products they endorse. They pride themselves on being able to manipulate emotions to get people to buy. They boast about how much money they make from promoting overpriced crap to people who are too naive to know any better. (I can attest to the veracity of the “crap” label because my office toilet is permanently stained from flushing many of the products they’ve sent me.) After conversing with such people for a while, I feel like I’ve been drenched in darkworker slime. What do I say to them? “Sorry, I can’t help promote your products on my site because you’re evil.” I’m not sure how that one would fly. Fortunately I’ve found a good way of responding to such people. I simply say, “Unfortunately my intuition says no on this, so I’ll have to pass.” I really love that line because they have no defense against it, and best of all, it’s the truth. If I say anything else, they usually pop into “counter objections mode” and try to turn me. But they have no means of arguing against my intuition because they’re so out of touch with theirs. (If you’re one of the people who happened to be on the receiving end of this line from me, it doesn’t normally mean I think you’re evil. It’s just one of many stock replies I give for business offers I must decline.) If I try to challenge such people to realign themselves with truth and love, that sometimes has the side effect of making them want to light saber me. Eventually I’ll find a way to turn one of them. Such people are pretty well aligned with power, but what they don’t yet realize is that if they could bring themselves into alignment with truth and love as well, they’d become even more powerful. They’d also be a lot happier and more fulfilled. This may sound strange, but I’m actually thinking of offering consultations to such people to help them restore balance to their lives. They’re in a position to positively affect a lot of other people if they can get it right, so helping even one of those people can create a lot of leverage. But of course I couldn’t do that… because that would mean pursuing yet another interest. <- Yes, this is sarcasm! Now that was a fun tangent. Ugh… don’t try to mix math and humor. * * * If you aspire to be a one-hit wonder, by all means go for it. Otherwise, take note that historically speaking, people would develop a variety of skills to meet their needs. Overspecialization may be good for corporations, but it’s not so great for conscious human beings. Even a farmer from the 1850s probably has you beat in the skills diversity department. Can you look out at a vacant plot of land and build your own self-sustaining farm and a home for your family with some basic hand tools? (If you can say yes to that, then come to Las Vegas this summer and prove it!) The next time someone tells you to settle down and pick just one thing for your career, your college major, or your source of income, I recommend you reply as follows: “I appreciate your concern, but since I don’t share your dream of becoming a prized poodle, I must reject your advice as being utterly stupid.” Then challenge them to a round of disc golf.
    711 Posted by UniqueThis
  • If you’re attracted to many different pursuits and can’t commit to any single one of them for your career, college major, or income source, then good for you! Leonardo da Vinci was in the same boat. He’s considered by many to be the greatest genius of all time. The notion that you have to commit to a single trade for life (or even for a decade or two) makes sense if you want to live like an industrial worker drone. But then you’re just filling the role of a cog in a giant machine, perfectly disposable and easily replaced by similar cogs. Let me guess… the people telling you (maybe even yelling at you) to pick one thing and commit to it are also on the drone path themselves, right? Do you honestly want their results? Or would you like something better? It’s perfectly okay to reject the drone path, you know. Lots of people do, and they’re much happier for it. But they aren’t the same people that will tell you, “Pick one thing and stick to it, or you’ll never amount to anything.” Instead they’ll probably say, “The more interests you pursue, the smarter you’ll become.” There’s no rule that says you must commit to being a drone I don’t want to commit to any one thing for life. I don’t even like committing to just one thing for a month. I have too many interests. If I picked just one thing and let all the rest go, I wouldn’t be happy. I’d just feel trapped. So I chose to reject that option. I can see that it isn’t right for me. Hmmm… for some reason the people that said I should specialize got a lot quieter when my eclectic interests started paying off financially. Presently I enjoy writing, blogging, speaking, podcasting, online business, studying self-improvement, philosophy, humor, disc golf, psychic development, etc. Why should I pick just one? Am I a blogger, an author, a speaker, a personal development expert, an Internet entrepreneur? So I have a chaotic resume. Who cares? In the past I trained in martial arts (tae kwon do and kempo), did lots of distance running including a marathon, learned to count cards at blackjack, performed with a comedy improv troupe, learned to juggle, designed and programmed computer games, and did lots of other things I enjoyed. Many of these activities were pursued on weekdays between the hours of 9am and 5pm. But guess what… nobody came to arrest me for it. The earth didn’t spin off its axis because I failed to pick just one thing. If you have lots of interests, people will complain. Let them. It might be hard to see it unless you hang out with me in person, but I switch back and forth between various interests all the time. Sometimes I’m really dedicated to writing/blogging for several days in a row. Other times I’ll put my blog on the back burner, and I’ll spend more time speaking or just working on personal growth. Sometimes people complain when I slack off on blogging to pursue other interests, but I retain the freedom to make that choice when I know it’s right for me. Since there are hundreds of free articles in the archives and 21 free podcasts, and since the forums are available 24/7, I don’t feel like I have to post something every day to keep the blog going. If my blog starts to feel like a “monkey on my back,” I simply let it go for a while. Then I pick it up again when I’m inspired to return to it. Whenever I pull back from one area to pursue another, I get the “What happened to you? Where have you been?” questions. If I take a few months off from going to Toastmasters meetings (such as I did while writing my book), my friends wonder what happened to me. Did I fall off the planet? Am I quitting the club? If I don’t blog for a week, somebody may start a new “Is Steve dead?” discussion in the forums. I just accept that this happens. It’s a natural consequence of having a variety of interests. I’m not dead. I’m just switching modes. This week I’m really inspired to do some blogging. Earlier this year I was more focused on writing my book. Later this year I’ll be doing a lot of work to promote my book. Many interests = faster growth = becoming smarter The benefit of having lots of different interests is that you train your brain to learn many new patterns. The patterns you learn in one field can then be applied to totally different fields to solve problems creatively. Within a single field, the dominant experts tend to develop tunnel vision. They get attached to certain patterns. They frequently network with each other, so they all know each other’s favorite patterns. This definitely happens in the field of personal development. But often the people who do the most innovative work are the outsiders who arrive with fresh patterns that the existing experts haven’t been exposed to. This is great because these outsiders can stimulate lots of growth. Albert Einstein is a good example. While he worked as a patent clerk, he had virtually no contact with the mainstream physics community. One of the reasons I’ve been so successful as a personal development blogger is that I came into this field as an outsider. My college degrees are in computer science and mathematics, not psychology or philosophy. Because of my background, I often notice patterns that other people in this field overlook (or simply discount). What makes me different from most other experts in this field is that I tend to think in binary and algorithmic terms. When you write a computer program, either it produces the desired output or it doesn’t. A math problem is either solved or it isn’t. You can’t use a half-assed or fuzzy approach in those fields and expect to succeed. Either you’re right or you’re wrong. Either you have a solution that works, or you don’t. There isn’t much of an in-between where you can squeak by. If you want to succeed in computer science or math, you have to be good at solving problems. Your solutions have to actually work. You can’t fake it or B.S. your way into a computer’s good graces and expect it to ignore your personal failings. If you’re wrong, you get zero results. A bad program usually doesn’t degrade gracefully — the program simply won’t run at all. When I got interested in personal development, one thing that really annoyed me was just how wishy washy and imprecise everything was. There were entire bookshelves filled with what I considered to be utter B.S. The books promised practical solutions to real problems, but inside all you’d find would be vapid drivel and stories of exaggerated results. After reading lots of computer programming books and learning precise solutions that would work properly every time, this was a big change for me. Since I like patterns that are very tight, precise, and effective, I dislike solutions that aren’t universal. I also dislike gray areas since I prefer to think in more black and white terms. So I’m inclined to say things like, “Either you’re doing what you love, or you aren’t. Which is it?” I know my approach won’t appeal to everyone, and more than once I’ve been accused of being too rigid in my thinking, but I also know there’s a place for this mindset in the self-help field. Similarly, if you were a psychologist coming into the field of computer science, you might be inclined to introduce problem-solving methods that allow for more fluidity and imprecision… such as fuzzy logic. When I wrote my book Personal Development for Smart People, I developed a pseudo-mathematical model for personal growth, including a complete structural framework I’ve never seen anywhere else in this field. I could have subtitled my book, “The hidden geometry of personal growth.” (If you follow that last link and scroll down a bit, you’ll see a triangle that represents the essence of that model.) Maybe we can’t get as precise as mathematics when dealing with conscious growth, but I think we can get a lot closer than we are now. If you like thinking about personal growth in fairly linear terms — i.e. tell me how to figure out what I want and how to get there — you’ll probably love my book. But if you prefer a more Zen-like, go-with-the-flow, allow-life-to-happen-to-you style, you’ll probably find my book too rigid for your tastes. Nevertheless, I have no doubt this book will carve out a strong position in its field (just as my blog has done) because its creative solutions and patterns will help people solve problems in new ways. Now imagine if I switched careers again. I could then apply patterns I learned from all the other fields I studied to produce creative, original work in that new field. Patterns from personal growth, math, computer science, blogging, martial arts, etc. would surely generate new solutions in seemingly unrelated fields. Even when I play disc golf with my friends, I apply patterns I learned in other fields. For example, my disc golf buddies all have a preferred throwing style for their drives — they almost always throw their drives using the same technique. But I will employ different throwing styles to adapt to the terrain. Sometimes I’ll do forehand throws, sometimes I’ll use backhand, and sometimes I’ll throw rollers — all within the same game. This means I don’t get as much practice with any single style, but I can be more flexible in adapting to the terrain. That was a very basic example, but “adapting solutions to the terrain” was actually a pattern I learned from computer programming. Programmers will often use different algorithms to solve essentially the same problem, adapting their solutions to the specific circumstances. There are lots of different sorting and searching algorithms, and the optimal solution depends on the particular problem you want to solve. When I play disc golf, I ask myself, “What is the correct throwing technique (algorithm) I need to use here to help me minimize (optimize) the number of throws it will take me to get to the basket (goal)?” You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities there are to use insights you learn in one field to solve problems in a seemingly unrelated field. The long-term benefit of cultivating many different interests is that you build a powerful toolkit of problem-solving patterns. This gives you more flexibility when facing certain challenges. People sometimes praise me for a brilliant insight that helped them solve a challenging problem when all I did was cross-pollinate a known solution pattern from one field to another. Making money from your varied interests – creative solutions It’s important to note that you don’t have to earn money from all of your interests. If you just dive in and pursue what you enjoy, you may be surprised to find out which interests help you generate income and which don’t. Most of my interests don’t generate any income directly, and that’s perfectly fine. But a lot of them do, including hosting advertising on this website, writing a book, doing professional speaking, and reviewing and recommending products. What earns me the most money right now? My income is fairly diversified, but the single most lucrative activity for me at present is reviewing and recommending products — not blogging or speaking. You might think I earn the most money from all the writing I do, but that isn’t how it works. Perhaps my writing is what creates the most value for others, but it doesn’t generate the most income… at least not directly. Publishers frequently send me information products to review. At any given time, I usually have 50-100 books and several days worth of audio/video in my queue. I listen to audio programs at the gym or on my computer at 2-4x playback speed, and I PhotoRead lots of books. (Incidentally, Learning Strategies is currently repeating their PhotoReading discount for StevePavlina.com readers this month — something they’ve done only once per year. I’ll make a separate blog post about that shortly after this one.) When I encounter something I really, really love and feel good about recommending, I work out a profit-sharing deal with the publisher in exchange for recommending and promoting their product on my site. This works great for information products because the profit margin is often 80% or higher, since the value is in the information, not the packaging. Usually I can also get them to offer my readers a better deal than if you bought from them directly. This arrangement is a win for the publishers because they gain many new customers with no marketing costs. A good product will do more than $100,000 in sales in the first 30 days if I recommend it. It’s a win for me because I get all the free products I could ever desire, and I earn six figures a year just from a handful of recommendations. Once I’ve posted my product review, I enjoy an ongoing passive income from ongoing sales, receiving commission checks every month. The benefit for my readers is that they get introduced to the best products I find — often with a discount or bonus and always with a money-back guarantee so there’s no risk. Additionally, all the free articles and podcasts are basically subsidized by this arrangement, so I can afford to invest many hours writing new articles like this one without having to charge for the information. All things considered, I think this is an incredibly fair deal for everyone. However, the honest truth is that while I enjoy reviewing and recommending products from time to time, I don’t want to turn this single activity into my full-time career. I don’t want my blog to become nothing but a product review site. What you may not realize though is that by deciding to pursue other interests, I’m leaving a lot of potential income on the table. If I really wanted to, I’m sure I could earn 5-10x more money from this website… virtually overnight. How to do that is a no-brainer. Instead of recommending just a few products per year, I could recommend a new product every week or two. I certainly have no shortage of products to choose from. But in order to get there, I’d have to do one of two things. The first option would be endorse more products, regardless of whether I thought they were any good. There are many products backed by slick marketing that sell well online, but the underlying information is worthless junk. I wouldn’t even need to look at the products, so that would save me tons of time. Some publishers actually offer me pre-written endorsement letters, and all I’d need to do would be to affix my name and send them off. You’ll encounter many Internet marketers who do this very thing, proudly recommending products they’ve never tried, just because they know it will make them money. I see the same endorsement letters I’ve been offered showing up in other people’s newsletters. Don’t worry though — you won’t see me going this route. Personally I can’t stomach the thought of doing anything like this. It isn’t aligned with truth and love, and it’s also the wrong polarity for me. I’m simply sharing that if my #1 goal was to earn more money by doing just one thing, I could certainly do it. But I think I’ll hang onto my soul for now. Since I can summarily reject the first option, the other option would be to review a lot more products. Hopefully by reviewing more products in less time, I’d be able to find more gems. If I did nothing but review and recommend products full-time, I could probably find 20-30 really good ones I could honestly recommend each year. But this would mean I’d have to dump a lot of my other interests, and I’m simply not willing to do that, even if it means earning 10x more money. I’m happier earning less money while maintaining a good balance of activities I enjoy. So I have to reject this option because it isn’t aligned with love. My point is that you don’t have to go after the option that makes you the most money. You can pursue many different interests and still find a creative mix that allows you to earn money AND maintain an abundant lifestyle AND be happy AND make a difference. It’s a huge mistake to pursue money at all costs, especially if you have to sacrifice so many of the things you love doing. Do what you enjoy, and leave the extra money on the table. I’ve met a few Internet marketers who will pimp themselves to promote any potentially lucrative products they come across, milking their lists for as much money as they can, without even trying the products they endorse. They pride themselves on being able to manipulate emotions to get people to buy. They boast about how much money they make from promoting overpriced crap to people who are too naive to know any better. (I can attest to the veracity of the “crap” label because my office toilet is permanently stained from flushing many of the products they’ve sent me.) After conversing with such people for a while, I feel like I’ve been drenched in darkworker slime. What do I say to them? “Sorry, I can’t help promote your products on my site because you’re evil.” I’m not sure how that one would fly. Fortunately I’ve found a good way of responding to such people. I simply say, “Unfortunately my intuition says no on this, so I’ll have to pass.” I really love that line because they have no defense against it, and best of all, it’s the truth. If I say anything else, they usually pop into “counter objections mode” and try to turn me. But they have no means of arguing against my intuition because they’re so out of touch with theirs. (If you’re one of the people who happened to be on the receiving end of this line from me, it doesn’t normally mean I think you’re evil. It’s just one of many stock replies I give for business offers I must decline.) If I try to challenge such people to realign themselves with truth and love, that sometimes has the side effect of making them want to light saber me. Eventually I’ll find a way to turn one of them. Such people are pretty well aligned with power, but what they don’t yet realize is that if they could bring themselves into alignment with truth and love as well, they’d become even more powerful. They’d also be a lot happier and more fulfilled. This may sound strange, but I’m actually thinking of offering consultations to such people to help them restore balance to their lives. They’re in a position to positively affect a lot of other people if they can get it right, so helping even one of those people can create a lot of leverage. But of course I couldn’t do that… because that would mean pursuing yet another interest. <- Yes, this is sarcasm! Now that was a fun tangent. Ugh… don’t try to mix math and humor. * * * If you aspire to be a one-hit wonder, by all means go for it. Otherwise, take note that historically speaking, people would develop a variety of skills to meet their needs. Overspecialization may be good for corporations, but it’s not so great for conscious human beings. Even a farmer from the 1850s probably has you beat in the skills diversity department. Can you look out at a vacant plot of land and build your own self-sustaining farm and a home for your family with some basic hand tools? (If you can say yes to that, then come to Las Vegas this summer and prove it!) The next time someone tells you to settle down and pick just one thing for your career, your college major, or your source of income, I recommend you reply as follows: “I appreciate your concern, but since I don’t share your dream of becoming a prized poodle, I must reject your advice as being utterly stupid.” Then challenge them to a round of disc golf.
    Jul 12, 2011 711
  • 12 Jul 2011
    It wasn’t until this year that I realized that one of the blocks that prevented me from improving my diet was figuring out what to do with the extra energy I’d gain if the change became permanent. For example, when I was going through my 30-day raw food diet trial earlier this year, I had a lot more energy — physical, mental, and emotional. This wasn’t a surprise to me because I’d experienced similar energy boosts during other raw food trials over the past several years. At first it felt great to enjoy that extra energy — especially the feeling of euphoria — but after a while it began to feel uncomfortable. I was trying to contain all this extra energy, but I wasn’t used to it. I felt like an overcharged battery. Sometimes I felt so overloaded with energy, I thought I was going to explode. It was like feeling super-aroused but with no sexual outlet available. After doing several 30-day raw food diet trials, I always returned to cooked food again. That always lowered my energy, and I lost all of the gains from eating raw, but the old feeling was more comfortable and familiar, so I felt a magnetic pull to return there. What to do with the extra energy? Eventually I asked myself, “Why are you intentionally lowering your energy? What is it about that higher state of being that makes it so hard for you to contain it?” I soon realized what the problem was. That extra energy had nowhere to go. You see… my whole life was structured to handle a certain level of energy output that had been relatively stable for years. My exercise routine, daily activities, social life, and so on were all balanced to support a certain energy output. When I changed my diet and experienced a major energy boost, my life just wasn’t designed to handle it. It was like sticking a 12-volt battery into a 1.5-volt device. Since I was increasing my supply of energy, perhaps I needed to increase the demand as well. If my theory was correct, then in order to maintain my new diet, I’d have to change the rest of my life to support a higher energy output. I couldn’t just change my diet and leave everything else the same. As it turned out, this was precisely the key I needed to return to the raw food diet and stay there without wanting to flee back to my old comfort zone. The most important change was that I set some new goals as well as some bigger goals to create new outlets for the extra energy flow. These were goals that would have seemed like too much of a stretch on my old diet, but with a greater energy output, they seemed achievable. Instead of trying to contain all this extra energy, I found new ways to let it flow through me. Some of the specific changes I made include the following: Increased physical output. Before this dietary change, my gym workouts would usually burn 300-400 calories. Now I’m doing 500+ calories per workout. To be honest I don’t consider this change critical. Re-channeling the extra mental and emotional energy was more important than burning more calories. But I do think this extra physical output helped. Raw foodist Dr. Doug Graham recommends burning a minimum of 20% of your daily caloric intake as physical exercise. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting close. Increased creative output. This is by far the biggest change. I feel more creatively inspired than ever, so I’ve been doing more creative work than I used to, shifting between blogging, speaking, journaling, business planning, concocting raw food dishes, and other outlets. I was especially pleased with four of the articles I wrote this month; those particular pieces felt very inspired to me. On Thursday I wrote a 4,400-word journal entry because I had so many ideas coming through that I wanted to record. I’m also developing a new audio program which I plan to release later this year. I now feel very uncomfortable if I go more than a couple days without creating new material. It’s like I’m overly aroused with creative energy and feel compelled to express it. Normally I don’t write on weekends, but this morning I just had to write an article to release some of this extra energy. Otherwise I’ll go through the day feeling like I’m about to explode. Increased intentional output. I feel best when I spend at least 20-30 minutes each day imagining new ideas and visualizing my goals. It’s like I’m releasing some of the extra energy in the form of positive intentions. I often go to bed 30 minutes early and just lie there visualizing new goals and possibilities until I fall asleep. If I don’t do this regularly, I feel a strange build-up of pressure to let some of this energy flow through my imagination and release itself as new dreams and goals. Increased spiritual/intuitive output. I feel more spiritually tuned in than ever. I’ve never enjoyed such a clear channel for intuitive guidance. I no longer have to meditate to put myself in the right state for “downloading” inspiration. I can simply close my eyes and access it within seconds. It’s like the switch is always on. Whenever I get stuck on a problem, I just tune in and request a solution, and it starts coming to me almost immediately. Consequently, I’m now relying on my intuition more often than my logical/analytical mind because it’s faster, more accurate, and more holistic. Yesterday Erin told me to “stop giving her readings” because she hadn’t had time to fully process the previous breakthroughs I helped her experience. I can’t help it though. When I pick up intuitive information about her, I have to relay it, or it feels like the energy is backing up. Increased social/emotional output. Since I’ve been feeling so good lately, I needed new ways to channel those good feelings. Mostly I’ve been channeling those feelings toward my family. I’ve been having a lot of very connected conversations with them and pushing for more family outings. Last weekend I took the kids on the rides at Circus Circus, and next month we’ll be taking a family trip to L.A. and San Diego. I’ve also been teaching my 8-year old daughter about how to hold positive intentions and avoid complaining; this seems to be having a positive impact on her already. I’m sure some of these good feelings are coming out through my writing as well. A few people mentioned I seem more excited than usual. I can’t help it because that’s how I naturally feel now. I wake up feeling excited. Increased standards. Lately I’ve been feeling a strong desire to fix a lot of the little problems in my life — problems that are too easy to ignore. Yesterday I replaced a broken paper towel holder in our kitchen — it broke nearly a year ago and was still usable but slightly annoying. I’ve also been much more consistent at teaching the kids to maintain certain standards of order in the house, and they’re taking pride in cleaning up after themselves. I finally feel like I’m getting a handle on the little problems that have been backing up. Individually they’re no big deal, but collectively they can be draining if ignored for too long. Until now I just didn’t feel have the energy to deal with all of them. Now I’m finally making a dent. More sexy time. During my January raw trial, I experienced a temporary drop in libido while I was adjusting to the diet, and then it returned to normal. Now it’s definitely higher than it used to be. But at the same time, the desire to have sex feels more subtle and less distracting, so it’s easier to hold onto it for a while without feeling an overwhelming urge to release it. It also feels much more heart-centered… not so stuck in the lower chakras. Maybe it’s the maca. The most significant change was definitely #2 (creative output). Sometimes I actually have to hold myself back from sitting at my desk and writing so much; otherwise I’ll never see my family. Improved diet = increased creative output When I remember other dietary changes I’ve made, I see similar patterns. Each successful dietary improvement was accompanied by a significant increase in creative output. I went vegetarian in the summer of 1993, before my final semester of college. A few weeks after making this change, I started working as a contract game programmer, eventually creating a pack of Windows arcade games that hit the shelves several months later. This was a very busy and creative time for me. I even designed one of the games myself. I also earned a lot of money during this time, especially for a student. I went vegan in January 1997, just before I started designing a new computer game. It was my most ambitious project. Due to financing problems, it was never released commercially, but I was very proud of the design. This was an extremely creative time for me. A couple years later I released an award-winning game with a very original design. I have no doubt that my improved diet helped me a lot here. I also got into martial arts training and distance running during this time. During my raw trial in January of this year, I was working on my book. I made a lot of important edits to the book during those 30 days. I also booked a speaking engagement at the I Can Do It! conference. This was a very expansive time for me. It’s hard to say which came first — the dietary change or the demand for greater creative output. Upon reflection I think it was the latter. When I was ready to take my creative output to a new level, I also felt ready to improve my diet. It seems like the intention to be more creative and to contribute more value triggered the dietary changes, perhaps to put my body in a state where it could handle more energy flow. Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you noticed any connection between your dietary changes (the kind that made you feel much more energetic) and increased creative output? If you do creative work like me, there’s a good chance your income is strongly linked to your creative output. The more you can create and the more inspired your creations are, the more value you create for others and the more income you can generate from your work. So there can also be a financial benefit to improving your diet and channeling more energy. There’s also a productivity benefit because more energy means you can get more done in less time — without feeling burned out afterwards. Are you resisting a more energetic state of being? Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is the role of resistance. When I initially resisted my transition to a 100% raw diet, the real reason was that I was resisting the consequences of the increased energy flow. I’d been enjoying a nice comfort zone, but I’d have to leave it behind if I wanted to successfully navigate this change. That meant accepting more responsibility and putting more on my plate than ever before. It took me a long time before I was ready to do that. Of the various major dietary shifts I went through (omnivore -> vegetarian, vegetarian -> vegan, vegan -> raw), this latest shift was by far the biggest and the most difficult. The first change was definitely the easiest and the mildest. It’s too early to say for sure because I only made the shift this year, but I strongly suspect that going raw will also be the most beneficial change in the long run. If you want to permanently improve your diet, you have to reach the point where you can say yes to all the consequences. Otherwise you may fall into a fear of success trap. If you resist the consequences, you’ll stop yourself from making the changes that would give rise to them. If you improve your diet and then feel much more energetic (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), how will you channel all that extra energy? Where will you direct it? How will you use it to fuel greater creative output? I think those questions need to be addressed before you’re ready to make the shift. Otherwise it’s too easy to fall back into your old comfort zone (both diet-wise and energy-wise). Imagine what would happen to your life if you permanently felt a lot happier, stronger, more motivated, and more energetic. What would you stop tolerating if you suddenly had tons more energy flowing through you? Would you direct all that energy into your current career, relationships, and exercise routine, or would you feel compelled to make some major changes? What if your job was incapable of channeling all that extra energy? Would that compel you to quit and do something more creative, so you could contribute more? Do you resist any of these potential consequences on some level? What would happen if you could accept and even invite all of these consequences? Quantum leaps Some of these consequences can be very challenging to accept… and even more difficult to intentionally invite. It takes courage to willingly push beyond your familiar comfort zone. You have to be willing to bust up old patterns, so you can create new patterns that will effectively harness the extra energy. In my case the changes I experienced weren’t terribly disruptive because my career outlets are very flexible, so they can handle more energy without being torn apart. From the outside looking in, it may appear that little has changed, even though this was a huge shift for me internally. But if I had a job and/or relationship with less flexibility, I might have had to endure much more significant external shifts. It really is like taking a quantum leap. In these situations you don’t gracefully improve along a continuum. You reach a point where you must abandon your old orbit in order to shift to a new orbit. There may be a lot of energetic build-up before this shift occurs, but eventually you hit a tipping point. You have to choose one side of the chasm or the other because there is no middle to speak of. You can certainly have a quantum leap that doesn’t involve dietary changes, but you may find as I do that your dietary leaps induce major shifts in the other areas of your life too. So in order to make the dietary improvement, you have to accept the whole package of consequences. If you resist any part of the package, you resist the dietary change as well. Is there some part of your life where you’ve been pushing for a quantum leap but always falling back to your comfort zone? If you made this important leap, what other related leaps would have to come along for the ride? What part of this package deal have you been refusing to accept? What are the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual consequences? What will it take for you accept the complete bundle of those consequences?
    1003 Posted by UniqueThis
  • It wasn’t until this year that I realized that one of the blocks that prevented me from improving my diet was figuring out what to do with the extra energy I’d gain if the change became permanent. For example, when I was going through my 30-day raw food diet trial earlier this year, I had a lot more energy — physical, mental, and emotional. This wasn’t a surprise to me because I’d experienced similar energy boosts during other raw food trials over the past several years. At first it felt great to enjoy that extra energy — especially the feeling of euphoria — but after a while it began to feel uncomfortable. I was trying to contain all this extra energy, but I wasn’t used to it. I felt like an overcharged battery. Sometimes I felt so overloaded with energy, I thought I was going to explode. It was like feeling super-aroused but with no sexual outlet available. After doing several 30-day raw food diet trials, I always returned to cooked food again. That always lowered my energy, and I lost all of the gains from eating raw, but the old feeling was more comfortable and familiar, so I felt a magnetic pull to return there. What to do with the extra energy? Eventually I asked myself, “Why are you intentionally lowering your energy? What is it about that higher state of being that makes it so hard for you to contain it?” I soon realized what the problem was. That extra energy had nowhere to go. You see… my whole life was structured to handle a certain level of energy output that had been relatively stable for years. My exercise routine, daily activities, social life, and so on were all balanced to support a certain energy output. When I changed my diet and experienced a major energy boost, my life just wasn’t designed to handle it. It was like sticking a 12-volt battery into a 1.5-volt device. Since I was increasing my supply of energy, perhaps I needed to increase the demand as well. If my theory was correct, then in order to maintain my new diet, I’d have to change the rest of my life to support a higher energy output. I couldn’t just change my diet and leave everything else the same. As it turned out, this was precisely the key I needed to return to the raw food diet and stay there without wanting to flee back to my old comfort zone. The most important change was that I set some new goals as well as some bigger goals to create new outlets for the extra energy flow. These were goals that would have seemed like too much of a stretch on my old diet, but with a greater energy output, they seemed achievable. Instead of trying to contain all this extra energy, I found new ways to let it flow through me. Some of the specific changes I made include the following: Increased physical output. Before this dietary change, my gym workouts would usually burn 300-400 calories. Now I’m doing 500+ calories per workout. To be honest I don’t consider this change critical. Re-channeling the extra mental and emotional energy was more important than burning more calories. But I do think this extra physical output helped. Raw foodist Dr. Doug Graham recommends burning a minimum of 20% of your daily caloric intake as physical exercise. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting close. Increased creative output. This is by far the biggest change. I feel more creatively inspired than ever, so I’ve been doing more creative work than I used to, shifting between blogging, speaking, journaling, business planning, concocting raw food dishes, and other outlets. I was especially pleased with four of the articles I wrote this month; those particular pieces felt very inspired to me. On Thursday I wrote a 4,400-word journal entry because I had so many ideas coming through that I wanted to record. I’m also developing a new audio program which I plan to release later this year. I now feel very uncomfortable if I go more than a couple days without creating new material. It’s like I’m overly aroused with creative energy and feel compelled to express it. Normally I don’t write on weekends, but this morning I just had to write an article to release some of this extra energy. Otherwise I’ll go through the day feeling like I’m about to explode. Increased intentional output. I feel best when I spend at least 20-30 minutes each day imagining new ideas and visualizing my goals. It’s like I’m releasing some of the extra energy in the form of positive intentions. I often go to bed 30 minutes early and just lie there visualizing new goals and possibilities until I fall asleep. If I don’t do this regularly, I feel a strange build-up of pressure to let some of this energy flow through my imagination and release itself as new dreams and goals. Increased spiritual/intuitive output. I feel more spiritually tuned in than ever. I’ve never enjoyed such a clear channel for intuitive guidance. I no longer have to meditate to put myself in the right state for “downloading” inspiration. I can simply close my eyes and access it within seconds. It’s like the switch is always on. Whenever I get stuck on a problem, I just tune in and request a solution, and it starts coming to me almost immediately. Consequently, I’m now relying on my intuition more often than my logical/analytical mind because it’s faster, more accurate, and more holistic. Yesterday Erin told me to “stop giving her readings” because she hadn’t had time to fully process the previous breakthroughs I helped her experience. I can’t help it though. When I pick up intuitive information about her, I have to relay it, or it feels like the energy is backing up. Increased social/emotional output. Since I’ve been feeling so good lately, I needed new ways to channel those good feelings. Mostly I’ve been channeling those feelings toward my family. I’ve been having a lot of very connected conversations with them and pushing for more family outings. Last weekend I took the kids on the rides at Circus Circus, and next month we’ll be taking a family trip to L.A. and San Diego. I’ve also been teaching my 8-year old daughter about how to hold positive intentions and avoid complaining; this seems to be having a positive impact on her already. I’m sure some of these good feelings are coming out through my writing as well. A few people mentioned I seem more excited than usual. I can’t help it because that’s how I naturally feel now. I wake up feeling excited. Increased standards. Lately I’ve been feeling a strong desire to fix a lot of the little problems in my life — problems that are too easy to ignore. Yesterday I replaced a broken paper towel holder in our kitchen — it broke nearly a year ago and was still usable but slightly annoying. I’ve also been much more consistent at teaching the kids to maintain certain standards of order in the house, and they’re taking pride in cleaning up after themselves. I finally feel like I’m getting a handle on the little problems that have been backing up. Individually they’re no big deal, but collectively they can be draining if ignored for too long. Until now I just didn’t feel have the energy to deal with all of them. Now I’m finally making a dent. More sexy time. During my January raw trial, I experienced a temporary drop in libido while I was adjusting to the diet, and then it returned to normal. Now it’s definitely higher than it used to be. But at the same time, the desire to have sex feels more subtle and less distracting, so it’s easier to hold onto it for a while without feeling an overwhelming urge to release it. It also feels much more heart-centered… not so stuck in the lower chakras. Maybe it’s the maca. The most significant change was definitely #2 (creative output). Sometimes I actually have to hold myself back from sitting at my desk and writing so much; otherwise I’ll never see my family. Improved diet = increased creative output When I remember other dietary changes I’ve made, I see similar patterns. Each successful dietary improvement was accompanied by a significant increase in creative output. I went vegetarian in the summer of 1993, before my final semester of college. A few weeks after making this change, I started working as a contract game programmer, eventually creating a pack of Windows arcade games that hit the shelves several months later. This was a very busy and creative time for me. I even designed one of the games myself. I also earned a lot of money during this time, especially for a student. I went vegan in January 1997, just before I started designing a new computer game. It was my most ambitious project. Due to financing problems, it was never released commercially, but I was very proud of the design. This was an extremely creative time for me. A couple years later I released an award-winning game with a very original design. I have no doubt that my improved diet helped me a lot here. I also got into martial arts training and distance running during this time. During my raw trial in January of this year, I was working on my book. I made a lot of important edits to the book during those 30 days. I also booked a speaking engagement at the I Can Do It! conference. This was a very expansive time for me. It’s hard to say which came first — the dietary change or the demand for greater creative output. Upon reflection I think it was the latter. When I was ready to take my creative output to a new level, I also felt ready to improve my diet. It seems like the intention to be more creative and to contribute more value triggered the dietary changes, perhaps to put my body in a state where it could handle more energy flow. Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you noticed any connection between your dietary changes (the kind that made you feel much more energetic) and increased creative output? If you do creative work like me, there’s a good chance your income is strongly linked to your creative output. The more you can create and the more inspired your creations are, the more value you create for others and the more income you can generate from your work. So there can also be a financial benefit to improving your diet and channeling more energy. There’s also a productivity benefit because more energy means you can get more done in less time — without feeling burned out afterwards. Are you resisting a more energetic state of being? Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is the role of resistance. When I initially resisted my transition to a 100% raw diet, the real reason was that I was resisting the consequences of the increased energy flow. I’d been enjoying a nice comfort zone, but I’d have to leave it behind if I wanted to successfully navigate this change. That meant accepting more responsibility and putting more on my plate than ever before. It took me a long time before I was ready to do that. Of the various major dietary shifts I went through (omnivore -> vegetarian, vegetarian -> vegan, vegan -> raw), this latest shift was by far the biggest and the most difficult. The first change was definitely the easiest and the mildest. It’s too early to say for sure because I only made the shift this year, but I strongly suspect that going raw will also be the most beneficial change in the long run. If you want to permanently improve your diet, you have to reach the point where you can say yes to all the consequences. Otherwise you may fall into a fear of success trap. If you resist the consequences, you’ll stop yourself from making the changes that would give rise to them. If you improve your diet and then feel much more energetic (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), how will you channel all that extra energy? Where will you direct it? How will you use it to fuel greater creative output? I think those questions need to be addressed before you’re ready to make the shift. Otherwise it’s too easy to fall back into your old comfort zone (both diet-wise and energy-wise). Imagine what would happen to your life if you permanently felt a lot happier, stronger, more motivated, and more energetic. What would you stop tolerating if you suddenly had tons more energy flowing through you? Would you direct all that energy into your current career, relationships, and exercise routine, or would you feel compelled to make some major changes? What if your job was incapable of channeling all that extra energy? Would that compel you to quit and do something more creative, so you could contribute more? Do you resist any of these potential consequences on some level? What would happen if you could accept and even invite all of these consequences? Quantum leaps Some of these consequences can be very challenging to accept… and even more difficult to intentionally invite. It takes courage to willingly push beyond your familiar comfort zone. You have to be willing to bust up old patterns, so you can create new patterns that will effectively harness the extra energy. In my case the changes I experienced weren’t terribly disruptive because my career outlets are very flexible, so they can handle more energy without being torn apart. From the outside looking in, it may appear that little has changed, even though this was a huge shift for me internally. But if I had a job and/or relationship with less flexibility, I might have had to endure much more significant external shifts. It really is like taking a quantum leap. In these situations you don’t gracefully improve along a continuum. You reach a point where you must abandon your old orbit in order to shift to a new orbit. There may be a lot of energetic build-up before this shift occurs, but eventually you hit a tipping point. You have to choose one side of the chasm or the other because there is no middle to speak of. You can certainly have a quantum leap that doesn’t involve dietary changes, but you may find as I do that your dietary leaps induce major shifts in the other areas of your life too. So in order to make the dietary improvement, you have to accept the whole package of consequences. If you resist any part of the package, you resist the dietary change as well. Is there some part of your life where you’ve been pushing for a quantum leap but always falling back to your comfort zone? If you made this important leap, what other related leaps would have to come along for the ride? What part of this package deal have you been refusing to accept? What are the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual consequences? What will it take for you accept the complete bundle of those consequences?
    Jul 12, 2011 1003
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Now here’s a surprise — my book Personal Development for Smart People has launched early. The original release date was October 15th, but the book has already shipped and is available now. You can get it at Amazon.com and in many major bookstores, including Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and Hastings. The major book distributors also have it too, including Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Partners, Bookazine, and New Leaf. So if your local bookstore doesn’t carry it yet, it should be easy for them to order it if you request it. Why an Early Launch? The early launch was actually a mistake. I learned of it last week when people started telling me that they’d just received their pre-ordered copies from Amazon. That was news to me! I checked the Amazon sales page for the book and saw that it was no longer in pre-order status — it was already selling. Once that happened, the book’s Amazon sales rank quickly climbed into the top 1,000. And I hadn’t even announced the release yet. I promptly contacted Hay House to find out what happened. Apparently the book was supposed to be shipped from the printer to their warehouse, and then it would be shipped to their distributors shortly before the launch. But instead, thousands of books were shipped from the printer directly to the distributors and retail chains, who promptly began selling them. Obviously this throws off the timing of my launch plans, but all we can do is roll with it. I’m not even bothered by this because I’m so thrilled that the book has finally shipped. Blogger Review Copies – Update If you’re a blogger who took advantage of my review copy offer, there’s no need to wait until October to post your review. Please feel free to review the book as soon as you get a chance to read it. If you email me a link to your review via my contact form any time between now and October 31st, I’ll be happy to add a link to your review. I’m going to do this in batches. About 420 bloggers have already been approved for review copies, so that’s a lot of reviews. The review copies began shipping last week, so please be patient if you haven’t received your copy yet. Most reviewers will receive a print copy in the mail. But there were a lot of requests from international bloggers, and it was a challenge to find a fair way to qualify them. Hay House wanted to disqualify almost all of these requests because many of the international blogs were in languages or countries where the book isn’t even available yet, and Hay House wants to focus on the U.S. launch. Many of these requests also came from countries where the mail system is unreliable, such as parts of Eastern Europe. And on top of that, many international bloggers said they preferred an electronic version of the book, so they could get it sooner. I still wanted everyone to get a print copy, but Hay House has to pay for this, and shipping hundreds of books internationally isn’t cheap. After some discussion we ultimately decided to send the international bloggers a PDF version of the book, but if their traffic was high enough (we had to set the bar fairly high), Hay House would still mail them a print copy. Maybe this wasn’t a perfect solution, but I think it was a fair way to handle it. The alternative would have been to disqualify most of the international review copy requests. But this way, nearly everyone who requested a review copy will receive something — either a print copy or a PDF. If you received the PDF but don’t like reading on your computer screen, you can always print it and read it on paper. I don’t know too many people that read long e-books on their screens. If you didn’t participate in the free review copy offer but would still like to review the book on your website or blog, I’ll link to your review if you send me a link to it… as long as it has some decent substance to it and doesn’t just rehash the back cover text. I’m not possessive about the ideas in the book — I really want them to spread. I’d love to see people writing about other ways to apply the book’s 7 principles to specific challenges and situations. Put your own creative spin on it. Several bloggers have already posted reviews and have sent me the links. I’ll be sure to link to these reviews soon. I’m just waiting for a few more to come in so I can do this in batches. Interview Requests I still have about two dozen interview requests to process, so if you requested an interview, please be patient. I’ll endeavor to reply to all of the requests I’ve received so far by the end of the week. As you can imagine, this is a pretty busy time for me. *** So I turn my back for one minute… and my book sneaks out the door without me. Must be an Aries. I see that there are already a couple of Amazon reviews posted. I’m delighted to read some of the first pieces of feedback about the book. Wow!
    643 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Now here’s a surprise — my book Personal Development for Smart People has launched early. The original release date was October 15th, but the book has already shipped and is available now. You can get it at Amazon.com and in many major bookstores, including Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and Hastings. The major book distributors also have it too, including Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Partners, Bookazine, and New Leaf. So if your local bookstore doesn’t carry it yet, it should be easy for them to order it if you request it. Why an Early Launch? The early launch was actually a mistake. I learned of it last week when people started telling me that they’d just received their pre-ordered copies from Amazon. That was news to me! I checked the Amazon sales page for the book and saw that it was no longer in pre-order status — it was already selling. Once that happened, the book’s Amazon sales rank quickly climbed into the top 1,000. And I hadn’t even announced the release yet. I promptly contacted Hay House to find out what happened. Apparently the book was supposed to be shipped from the printer to their warehouse, and then it would be shipped to their distributors shortly before the launch. But instead, thousands of books were shipped from the printer directly to the distributors and retail chains, who promptly began selling them. Obviously this throws off the timing of my launch plans, but all we can do is roll with it. I’m not even bothered by this because I’m so thrilled that the book has finally shipped. Blogger Review Copies – Update If you’re a blogger who took advantage of my review copy offer, there’s no need to wait until October to post your review. Please feel free to review the book as soon as you get a chance to read it. If you email me a link to your review via my contact form any time between now and October 31st, I’ll be happy to add a link to your review. I’m going to do this in batches. About 420 bloggers have already been approved for review copies, so that’s a lot of reviews. The review copies began shipping last week, so please be patient if you haven’t received your copy yet. Most reviewers will receive a print copy in the mail. But there were a lot of requests from international bloggers, and it was a challenge to find a fair way to qualify them. Hay House wanted to disqualify almost all of these requests because many of the international blogs were in languages or countries where the book isn’t even available yet, and Hay House wants to focus on the U.S. launch. Many of these requests also came from countries where the mail system is unreliable, such as parts of Eastern Europe. And on top of that, many international bloggers said they preferred an electronic version of the book, so they could get it sooner. I still wanted everyone to get a print copy, but Hay House has to pay for this, and shipping hundreds of books internationally isn’t cheap. After some discussion we ultimately decided to send the international bloggers a PDF version of the book, but if their traffic was high enough (we had to set the bar fairly high), Hay House would still mail them a print copy. Maybe this wasn’t a perfect solution, but I think it was a fair way to handle it. The alternative would have been to disqualify most of the international review copy requests. But this way, nearly everyone who requested a review copy will receive something — either a print copy or a PDF. If you received the PDF but don’t like reading on your computer screen, you can always print it and read it on paper. I don’t know too many people that read long e-books on their screens. If you didn’t participate in the free review copy offer but would still like to review the book on your website or blog, I’ll link to your review if you send me a link to it… as long as it has some decent substance to it and doesn’t just rehash the back cover text. I’m not possessive about the ideas in the book — I really want them to spread. I’d love to see people writing about other ways to apply the book’s 7 principles to specific challenges and situations. Put your own creative spin on it. Several bloggers have already posted reviews and have sent me the links. I’ll be sure to link to these reviews soon. I’m just waiting for a few more to come in so I can do this in batches. Interview Requests I still have about two dozen interview requests to process, so if you requested an interview, please be patient. I’ll endeavor to reply to all of the requests I’ve received so far by the end of the week. As you can imagine, this is a pretty busy time for me. *** So I turn my back for one minute… and my book sneaks out the door without me. Must be an Aries. I see that there are already a couple of Amazon reviews posted. I’m delighted to read some of the first pieces of feedback about the book. Wow!
    Jul 12, 2011 643
  • 12 Jul 2011
    At the Tampa I Can Do It! conference, I attended a workshop by Andrew Harvey on Sacred Activism. I met Andrew a few months ago when we were on a panel with Alan Cohen and Summer McStravick for Hay House Radio. Andrew is a fiery, passionate individual with a powerful message about ridding our lives of distraction and embracing “passionate compassion” for others through activism. He stresses the importance of taking direct action to address the real problems of the world, and he says we need to stop trying to comfort and distract ourselves from empathizing with the pain of others. It’s no secret that Andrew’s message creates resistance in people, partly because the way he delivers his message is so passionate, direct, and unforgiving. He pulls no punches and lambastes the “New Age Movement” for being yet another form of mental masturbation. Andrew is aware of the resistance to his message, and he acknowledged it when he spoke, but he certainly didn’t let it stop him. Personally I agree with Andrew’s message (at least what I’ve heard so far — he’s written quite a number of books), although I view his ideas from within a different framework. What Andrew calls passionate compassion, I regard as a combination of Oneness and Courage (two of the seven principles in Personal Development for Smart People). Andrew talked a lot about the Dark Night of the Soul, which is something everyone on this path of service experiences. Personally I think we go through multiple dark nights as we shed more and more of our false identities and learn to align ourselves with Oneness. Andrew spoke with conviction as he told a story about praying at a temple in India. As he left the temple, he encountered a helpless man with no arms and no legs in need of assistance. Instead of ignoring him, Andrew opened his heart and chose to help this man. He contrasts that experience with the dissociated attitude many people display in such a situation. Instead of embracing our heartbreak and allowing it to guide our actions, too often we shield and distract ourselves from those feelings. When we do this, however, we become something less than human. Bliss vs. Heartbreak There was one line Andrew said during his workshop that gave me an instant emotional hit. He said, “Don’t follow your bliss. Follow your heartbreak.” That’s a powerful way to reframe your life purpose. I realized that my bliss and my heartbreak both point in the same direction. I follow my joy and my heartbreak simultaneously because they’re two sides of the same coin. Andrew’s statement reminded me of this quote from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. In fact, I’m pretty sure I mentioned this quote during our initial radio panel together. My greatest joy is seeing people live consciously, courageously, and compassionately; it’s to watch people bring their lives into greater alignment with truth, love, and power. My heartbreak is seeing people live unconsciously and inflict all sorts of unnecessary suffering on themselves, on each other, on animals, and on the planet as a whole. It breaks my heart to see people living in denial, disconnected from others, and disempowered. It’s rare that more than a few days go by where the nature of my work doesn’t bring me to tears. However, usually those are tears of joy. I feel very grateful for being able to make a difference in people’s lives, and often that can be emotionally overwhelming. In my messages I tend to focus on the lute’s music, while Andrew seems to stress the “hollowed out with knives” part. When he spoke, he often repeated the phrase, “The world is burning!” But really joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin. Your greatest joy is also your greatest sorrow. I remember debating with Andrew during our radio interview about the joy/sorrow issue. I think he may derive most of his drive and passion from the sorrow side, while I get mine from the joy side. I consider both approaches to be equally valid; however, gratitude is a stronger motivator for me than sadness, so I focus on the those feelings because they’re more effective for me. When I’m sad I usually do nothing. But when I feel grateful for the opportunity to make a difference, I reach out and connect with people. Making a Difference Experience has shown me that following my most action-inducing emotions does make a real difference in the world. As just a small example, over the years I’ve helped inspire hundreds of people switch to vegetarian and vegan diets. Let’s say I’ve helped 100 people go vegan, which would be a pretty conservative estimate. That seemingly small shift will actually conserve about 142 million gallons of water per year, not to mention loads of other resources and a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. (That’s 3,900 gallons per day of excess water required to feed a typical animal eater vs. a vegan x 100 people x 365 days per year.) That’s a lot of water! This is far more water than I could possibly conserve as an individual during my lifetime. Just by continuing the work I’m already doing, I’ll eventually help us conserve many billions of gallons of water (and conserve fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions), which means my presence here is actually creating a massive net positive environmental impact. And that doesn’t even count the rippling effect that will spring forth from those I’ve influenced. I consider this a very tangible result of following my bliss, and it motivates and inspires me to do even more. All I really did was follow my heart and share my experiences with other people. It wasn’t particularly complicated. From a certain perspective, I could say that it’s heartbreaking to see so many resources unnecessarily wasted in the process of turning plant-eating animals into human consumables, but again, I prefer to focus on the gratitude side because that’s what motivates me to take action. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a positive environmental impact by doing my best to be a good example to others and by encouraging people to make their own conscious choices. Heartbreak and Life Purpose You can actually follow your heartbreak to discover your life purpose. If you’ve tried the life purpose exercise and had trouble going deep enough, try repeating the same exercise with this starting question instead: What is my greatest heartbreak? This strategy of following your heartbreak is another way to get out of your head and to start listening to the voice of your heart. If you’ve already done the life purpose exercise and got an answer that inspired you, I encourage you to try it again with the heartbreak question. This may help you develop a deeper understanding of your purpose. Effectiveness You have to determine what works best for you. Are you more motivated when you focus on your bliss or your heartbreak? I suppose this is the classic difference between towards motivation and away-from motivation. I’ve always been a towards guy, but I think that’s the less common of the two. The important thing isn’t how we choose to motivate ourselves. What’s important is that we find a strategy that’s effective for us. Are we actually taking action? Are we serving as good examples for others? Or are we comforting and distracting ourselves? Which emotions are arising within you? Do you feel more connected to your pain or your sorrow? What feelings will drive you to action if you crank up the volume? Are you listening to those feelings… or are you numbing yourself to them?
    1106 Posted by UniqueThis
  • At the Tampa I Can Do It! conference, I attended a workshop by Andrew Harvey on Sacred Activism. I met Andrew a few months ago when we were on a panel with Alan Cohen and Summer McStravick for Hay House Radio. Andrew is a fiery, passionate individual with a powerful message about ridding our lives of distraction and embracing “passionate compassion” for others through activism. He stresses the importance of taking direct action to address the real problems of the world, and he says we need to stop trying to comfort and distract ourselves from empathizing with the pain of others. It’s no secret that Andrew’s message creates resistance in people, partly because the way he delivers his message is so passionate, direct, and unforgiving. He pulls no punches and lambastes the “New Age Movement” for being yet another form of mental masturbation. Andrew is aware of the resistance to his message, and he acknowledged it when he spoke, but he certainly didn’t let it stop him. Personally I agree with Andrew’s message (at least what I’ve heard so far — he’s written quite a number of books), although I view his ideas from within a different framework. What Andrew calls passionate compassion, I regard as a combination of Oneness and Courage (two of the seven principles in Personal Development for Smart People). Andrew talked a lot about the Dark Night of the Soul, which is something everyone on this path of service experiences. Personally I think we go through multiple dark nights as we shed more and more of our false identities and learn to align ourselves with Oneness. Andrew spoke with conviction as he told a story about praying at a temple in India. As he left the temple, he encountered a helpless man with no arms and no legs in need of assistance. Instead of ignoring him, Andrew opened his heart and chose to help this man. He contrasts that experience with the dissociated attitude many people display in such a situation. Instead of embracing our heartbreak and allowing it to guide our actions, too often we shield and distract ourselves from those feelings. When we do this, however, we become something less than human. Bliss vs. Heartbreak There was one line Andrew said during his workshop that gave me an instant emotional hit. He said, “Don’t follow your bliss. Follow your heartbreak.” That’s a powerful way to reframe your life purpose. I realized that my bliss and my heartbreak both point in the same direction. I follow my joy and my heartbreak simultaneously because they’re two sides of the same coin. Andrew’s statement reminded me of this quote from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. In fact, I’m pretty sure I mentioned this quote during our initial radio panel together. My greatest joy is seeing people live consciously, courageously, and compassionately; it’s to watch people bring their lives into greater alignment with truth, love, and power. My heartbreak is seeing people live unconsciously and inflict all sorts of unnecessary suffering on themselves, on each other, on animals, and on the planet as a whole. It breaks my heart to see people living in denial, disconnected from others, and disempowered. It’s rare that more than a few days go by where the nature of my work doesn’t bring me to tears. However, usually those are tears of joy. I feel very grateful for being able to make a difference in people’s lives, and often that can be emotionally overwhelming. In my messages I tend to focus on the lute’s music, while Andrew seems to stress the “hollowed out with knives” part. When he spoke, he often repeated the phrase, “The world is burning!” But really joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin. Your greatest joy is also your greatest sorrow. I remember debating with Andrew during our radio interview about the joy/sorrow issue. I think he may derive most of his drive and passion from the sorrow side, while I get mine from the joy side. I consider both approaches to be equally valid; however, gratitude is a stronger motivator for me than sadness, so I focus on the those feelings because they’re more effective for me. When I’m sad I usually do nothing. But when I feel grateful for the opportunity to make a difference, I reach out and connect with people. Making a Difference Experience has shown me that following my most action-inducing emotions does make a real difference in the world. As just a small example, over the years I’ve helped inspire hundreds of people switch to vegetarian and vegan diets. Let’s say I’ve helped 100 people go vegan, which would be a pretty conservative estimate. That seemingly small shift will actually conserve about 142 million gallons of water per year, not to mention loads of other resources and a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. (That’s 3,900 gallons per day of excess water required to feed a typical animal eater vs. a vegan x 100 people x 365 days per year.) That’s a lot of water! This is far more water than I could possibly conserve as an individual during my lifetime. Just by continuing the work I’m already doing, I’ll eventually help us conserve many billions of gallons of water (and conserve fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions), which means my presence here is actually creating a massive net positive environmental impact. And that doesn’t even count the rippling effect that will spring forth from those I’ve influenced. I consider this a very tangible result of following my bliss, and it motivates and inspires me to do even more. All I really did was follow my heart and share my experiences with other people. It wasn’t particularly complicated. From a certain perspective, I could say that it’s heartbreaking to see so many resources unnecessarily wasted in the process of turning plant-eating animals into human consumables, but again, I prefer to focus on the gratitude side because that’s what motivates me to take action. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a positive environmental impact by doing my best to be a good example to others and by encouraging people to make their own conscious choices. Heartbreak and Life Purpose You can actually follow your heartbreak to discover your life purpose. If you’ve tried the life purpose exercise and had trouble going deep enough, try repeating the same exercise with this starting question instead: What is my greatest heartbreak? This strategy of following your heartbreak is another way to get out of your head and to start listening to the voice of your heart. If you’ve already done the life purpose exercise and got an answer that inspired you, I encourage you to try it again with the heartbreak question. This may help you develop a deeper understanding of your purpose. Effectiveness You have to determine what works best for you. Are you more motivated when you focus on your bliss or your heartbreak? I suppose this is the classic difference between towards motivation and away-from motivation. I’ve always been a towards guy, but I think that’s the less common of the two. The important thing isn’t how we choose to motivate ourselves. What’s important is that we find a strategy that’s effective for us. Are we actually taking action? Are we serving as good examples for others? Or are we comforting and distracting ourselves? Which emotions are arising within you? Do you feel more connected to your pain or your sorrow? What feelings will drive you to action if you crank up the volume? Are you listening to those feelings… or are you numbing yourself to them?
    Jul 12, 2011 1106
  • 12 Jul 2011
    In personal development terms, calibration is the process of progressively refining your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors until you shift your equilibrium to the point where you can consistently achieve the results you desire. Just as you might calibrate a scientific instrument to provide consistently accurate measurements, you can calibrate your skills to generate consistently good results. This is a majorly long article. At about 8,600 words, I’m pretty sure this is the longest article I’ve ever written. It’s more like a free book chapter. The length is because my goal is to share one of the most comprehensive articles ever written on this topic. If you actually read the whole thing, you should gain many helpful insights from it. There are many subtle ideas here. If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to print it out for later. It goes good with peppermint tea. Calibration for Long-term Success When you begin any new activity or endeavor, initially you won’t be calibrated for success, so you’ll experience mostly failure. However, if you keep moving forward with a clear goal in mind, and if you progressively adjust your thinking and actions along the way, you’ll eventually calibrate yourself to get the results you want. This calibration only occurs from directly applying a skill under real-world conditions, not by reading about it. When you’re in the pre-calibration period, achieving even a small degree of success in a new field requires a massive, all-out effort. Post-calibration, success is practically on auto-pilot; you can consistently achieve the results you want with minimal effort. Calibration Examples It’s easiest to understand calibration by way of example, so here are some detailed examples to consider: Social Dynamics, Making Friends, and Dating In the field of social dynamics, calibration is the process of learning how to meet new people, initiate conversations, keep conversations going, make new friends, get dates (second meetings), and basically achieve positive social interactions. How you calibrate your social skills will depend on your personal goals for this area. A salesperson may focus on learning how to build rapport, generate interest, close sales, and construct a database of quality contacts. A professional speaker may learn how to get attention, arouse emotion, generate laughter, and inspire people to action. A pick-up artist may study how to initiate conversations, demonstrate value, build attraction, and achieve successful closes (a close could be getting a phone number, a date, or a sexual encounter). In high school I was comfortable within certain social circles, but I was still more introverted than I wanted to be. So when I started at college, I decided to remake myself into a more extroverted person. I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I just dove in and attempted to be as social as possible. I accepted any and all opportunities for social interaction. If anyone invited me to go out, I always said yes. I made a huge commitment to elevate this part of my life, and I stuck with it for my entire freshman year. This strategy actually worked. I hadn’t read any books on social skills at the time, but I quickly calibrated my social skills via trial and error. Within a few weeks, I’d made dozens of new friends, and I was going to parties every week. If I ever wanted to hang out and do something fun, I could always find someone willing. Not including sleep time, I’m sure I spent more time in other people’s dorm rooms than my own. I was always going out — for parties, poker games, volleyball, ping pong, or just for pizza. I created an absolutely amazing social life and packed more fun into each month than I used to enjoy in a year. I practically became like a different person. What I found interesting was that in the beginning, it seemed like I was always the one to initiate new connections, but once I felt comfortable doing that, additional connections began flowing into my life almost effortlessly. During my first week at college, I noticed a party across the hall and asked if I could join in the fun (and got a quick yes). After that I was always getting invitations to parties and virtually never had to ask. During the first few months, I initiated a lot of social experiences (Wanna join me for dinner at the dining commons? Wanna grab a slice? Wanna get a poker game together?). But eventually I had so many invites coming to me passively that I didn’t have to initiate as much. Looking back, I probably went way overboard. The good news was that I really took control of this area of my life. By throwing myself into it with a passion, I quickly became comfortable meeting new people, and I learned to make friends easily. The bad news was that I totally blew off my studies and was flunking out of school. In retrospect it wasn’t such a bad trade off though. I got expelled after my third semester, but the social calibration I gained during that time has served me well ever since. I went to a different school later and still earned my college degrees, but I think the social calibration has proven more valuable in the long run. I don’t feel intimidated in new social situations, and it’s normally easy for me to make new friends and connect with people. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a wife without even trying. When Erin and I moved to Las Vegas in 2004, we didn’t know anyone in the city. We went from having a lot of friends in L.A. to having zero local friends in Vegas. It was just the two of us and our kids in a big city of strangers. But part of the reason I was happy to move to a new city was that I knew I could make new friends easily. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I had plenty of great local friends. The bigger challenge for me has been feeling over-socialized at times. There have been some weeks where I’d have preferred more alone time. This social calibration has benefited me tremendously in business. I can go to a mixer or conference where I don’t know anyone, and I have an easy time making new friends and contacts. I remember when I first started attending the Game Developer’s Conference many years ago, most of the attendees seemed shy and socially awkward. They’d mostly keep to themselves or cling to their co-workers, especially at meal times. Meanwhile, I was going around making new friends, which just felt natural to me. Some of those chance encounters led to new opportunities and deals that helped grow my business. It was also nice to have more friends with similar interests. One year at that conference, I hung out so late that the shuttles had stopped running. It was pouring rain outside, but a new friend offered me a ride back to my hotel. In fact, something similar happened at a different conference this year. It’s nice to know that my social calibration can keep me out of the rain when necessary. To some people this may not sound like a big deal. Many people develop such skills in high school or younger. But for a shy kid like me who went to an all boys Catholic high school, it was indeed a big deal. Although I use my social skills mainly to make friends and business contacts, you can use a similar process to develop dating and relationship skills. For example, if you want to go on more dates, you can calibrate your skills to get good at opening conversations with strangers, develop fun and interesting conversations, build attraction, and at least close with a phone number. There are lots of people teaching this stuff online now, with varying degrees of credibility (and sanity), but the most important thing is to just dive in and start experimenting. You’ll experience some rejection at first, but if you just keep learning and adapting, your skills will calibrate to the point where you’re able to get consistently good results. If you happen to be suffering from loneliness, most likely it’s because you never took the time to adequately calibrate your social skills. Consequently, you may avoid making new friends because you don’t understand the social nuances of how to do it. You probably feel socially awkward and suffer from an amplified fear of rejection. The solution is to focus on a different goal first. You need to calibrate your social skills before you can apply them. Go out and socialize for the sake of learning how to socialize. Don’t worry about whether or not you make any new friends. Once your social skills are calibrated, which may take a few months, then you can focus on building the kinds of friendships you desire, and it will be much easier for you. Aim to get good first. Then aim to get results. Martial Arts If you study martial arts and begin learning to spar, you’re going to be pretty bad at it initially. You’ll have no sense of timing, and you won’t grasp the rhythm of a sparring match. You’ll probably bang knees with your opponent a lot. All the newbies do that. For the most part, you can expect to look and feel like a total dork. The first time I sparred, which was more than 10 years ago, I was laughing during the match, mostly at how awkward I felt. I’m sure I looked like a total dork. This is to be expected. You can try to play it cool, but the truth is that the first few times you attempt any new sport, you’re virtually guaranteed to look and feel like a dork. This is because your mind and body aren’t calibrated to that sport. Within a few months of regular training, your sparring should be fairly well-calibrated for an intermediate level of skill. At the very least, you won’t embarrass yourself. You’ll have sparred many different opponents, and you’ll have a good sense of what to expect. You’ll be able to use different moves successfully, land punches and kicks, and pull off the occasional surprise. I remember how cool it was when I stripped an opponent’s helmet off with an axe kick during a sparring match. While sparring at the beginner level feels awkward and intimidating, once you gain a little competence, it becomes a fun challenge. At this point the subtleties of the skill begin to reveal themselves. Once your basic sparring moves and tactics are calibrated, you can begin to calibrate your strategic decisions, and this is where the richness of sparring really opens up. The game becomes less physical and more mental. Some would even say it becomes spiritual at a certain point. Calibrating to a particular sport is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. Even if you don’t train for a while, the mental calibration remains, and you can easily pick it up again later. I trained for about three years in Tae Kwon Do in the late 90s with a mix of group classes and private lessons. Over time I got pretty good at sparring and really enjoyed it. I moved away from the studio and stopped training, but several years later, I started training in a different martial art, Kempo, starting as a white belt. Kempo is geared toward self-defense, while TKD is more sporty. Fortunately, all the moves that are legal in TKD are also legal in Kempo, and Kempo allows you to do some things that aren’t legal in TKD, such as punching to the face. (Protective gear is worn during sparring, but there’s still some risk. I suffered a bruised rib and a split lip on different occasions.) Even though I’d lost most of my flexibility, the first time I sparred in Kempo, I did amazingly well, certainly far beyond the white belt level. From my first Kempo sparring class, I was able to hold my own against one of the black belts in the studio. I was sparring TKD-style, not Kempo-style, but that actually gave me an advantage because the other students weren’t calibrated to that style. TKD is mostly kicking, but Kempo uses more hand techniques. My preference for kicks surprised the other students because they would hover just outside of punching range, but they were still within my TKD-calibrated kicking range, so I hammered them with kicking combos until they figured out they needed to back up. This threw them off mentally, and it took months for many of them to adapt to my style. Of course, it also took me a while to get used to having punches thrown at my head. After a year of training in Kempo, I was fairly well-calibrated to that style, but I had to unlearn some of my TKD habits that were ineffective in Kempo. I had to work on my speed, defensive maneuvers, and incorporating punches, strikes, and backfists into my sparring. The point is that once you gain calibration at a particular skill set, you may very well lock in that skill for life. I feel as if basic competence in sparring is so ingrained in me that even if I didn’t spar again for 20 years, I’d be able to quickly pick it up again. I can actually feel that calibration in my body. Blogging Since blogging is still a fairly new medium, it usually takes new bloggers a while to properly calibrate. The failure rate is pretty high for newbies because most of them give up before they calibrate for success. I’d say you need to write at least 200-300 posts before you get a decent calibration going, and that assumes you’re making a solid commitment to getting better. For some people it will require more than 500 posts to achieve reasonable calibration, especially if they aren’t very good writers. There’s just a lot to learn. In particular, there’s a huge gap between writing posts that people read and forget vs. writing posts that people will remember well enough that they’re still referring their friends, family members, and co-workers to read a year later. One of the key calibrations for long-term blogging success is to learn how to write the latter type of post; that’s how you get your archives working for you, and your traffic can still grow even when you aren’t posting anything. For example, of the top 10 articles on my website that generate the most referrals, only one was written this year. Articles I wrote years ago continue to attract new readers today. However, it took me a long time to learn to write the kinds of articles that would produce such results. I’ve publicly shared how I do this, and that’s been helpful for some people, but it still takes time for new bloggers to “get it” to the point where they can apply it. Not long ago I was at a party, chatting with a woman who got started blogging after attending a blogging workshop I did a couple years ago. She was telling me some of the mistakes she made with her blog during that time, all of which were mistakes I explicitly said to avoid during the workshop. For example, she wrote lots of timely content instead of timeless content, so she felt like she was on an endless treadmill, and her archives were largely worthless. She remembered that I said to avoid those mistakes too, but that wasn’t enough to stop her from making them. Despite having the opportunity to learn from my experience and avoid the pitfalls I described, she still had to go out and make those mistakes in order to refine her own calibration. I’ve seen countless bloggers make the same mistakes. They seek my advice, I tell them what to do and what not to do and why, and they do exactly what I tell them not to do and then wonder why it isn’t working. Oy vey! This is okay though, as long as they keep plugging ahead and learn from those mistakes. We human beings aren’t known to be the best listeners in the galaxy. We learn much better by doing something than by reading about it. Different bloggers will naturally calibrate themselves toward different goals. For example, I wanted to calibrate my blogging skills to the goal of having a deep, long-term impact on my readers. I want to change people’s lives for the better. This is partly why I do things differently than most bloggers. I blow off many practices that other pro bloggers defend as sacred. My articles tend to be very long and detailed. I typically avoid posting shallow short info-crack pieces. I post less frequently, sometimes going a week or more with no fresh content. I largely ignore current events. I don’t often link to other blogs. This is all because I’m calibrating my skills toward a certain type of result. Those popular strategies just aren’t very helpful at achieving the results I desire, so I don’t use them. If you want this to become yet another info-crack blog, get used to disappointment. I want to change your life, not provide you with a five-minute distraction. So be careful when taking advice from others. If you’re calibrating toward a different goal than they are, their advice may hurt you more than help you. It’s best to learn from people who’ve already achieved a similar calibration to what you want to achieve. For example, if you just want to make as much money as possible and don’t care how you get it, then you probably wouldn’t want to model my blogging methods because I’ve calibrated myself toward a different goal. But you might want to follow those bloggers who proudly proclaim they’re in it for the money — there are plenty to select from. On the other hand, if you believe you’re here for a reason and that blogging could potentially become a sustainable expression of your life purpose, then you’d probably benefit greatly by studying my style, since I’ve been getting positive results in this area for years. The point is that if you decide to model someone, be sure you’re modeling someone with compatible goals (and thus a compatible calibration). One thing I’ve learned from 4+ years of blogging is that it really isn’t that hard in principle to become a successful blogger; however, it’s very hard in practice. Newbies’ minds are typically filled with many false notions. In some ways they need to unload more useless ideas than they need to absorb useful ideas. I’ve raped quite a few pro blogging sacred cows, yet my blog is still going strong. There are a lot of blogging success factors that are somewhat counter-intuitive. You won’t realize this if you just read sites about blogging because they’ll rarely write about these factors. For the most part, it’s not that anyone is intentionally withholding information. The ideas are simply too subtle for most bloggers to be consciously aware of them. Many calibration issues are like this — they’re just too subtle to appear on any “top 10″ or “how to” lists. Sometimes people who succeed can’t document all the specific reasons they’ve succeeded. They can’t consciously unearth every detail of their unconscious calibration. There are some things I do as a successful blogger that I’ve never seen anyone write or speak about publicly, myself included. Some of the concepts are so subtle or intricate that even if I explained them in detail, nobody but other successful pro bloggers would even understand what I’m talking about, and some people would accuse me of lying. Yesterday another blogger emailed me a link to a post he wrote, explaining why he personally dislikes my writing style. This is a blogger who says he gets significantly less traffic than I do. His main criticism is that I state my opinions too directly, as if they’re facts. This is a perfectly valid criticism of course; I confess to doing this liberally. The attitude of that blogger was that this is a personal defect I should correct. However, what he probably doesn’t realize is that this is a trait I developed over time as part of my calibration process for blogging success. I’m sure his advice is well-meaning, but I know that if I take his advice, my results will actually decline. I can say he’s wrong and that I’m right because I’ve learned which approach works best for me via trial and error. As a generalization, I know that making strong statements works better than making weak statements. This is one of many subtle calibration refinements I learned from years of blogging. I discovered that prefacing every opinion with phrases like “I think…” or “I feel…” or “In my opinion…” leads to the creation of wimpy content. So this was actually a personal defect I learned to correct, and I intentionally make strong statements. My readers aren’t stupid. They know that since this is my website, such statements represent my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. When I offer up my thoughts directly, as opposed to watering them down with qualifiers, people are challenged to agree or disagree with me. This helps people question their beliefs, strengthening some while weakening others. This is what I like to see. Another benefit to making strong statements is that other bloggers, including the one critical of my posting style, will take the time to write posts just to disagree with me, thereby sending traffic to my website and actively helping me achieve my goals. Yet because their content is usually wimpier, they don’t benefit equally from this same mechanism. There are a lot of subtle interactions going on here, and I’m only offering a cursory overview here, but the net effect is that by posting strong statements, I enjoy more blogging success, but I also attract more criticism. However, the criticism actually benefits me. This is pretty counterintuitive, isn’t it? Part of the reason I’ve been so successful as a blogger is that people remember what I’ve written, especially if they disagree with it. If you look at the comments written about my work throughout the blogosphere, you’ll find that most people have very polarized opinions about my work. Some people love my work. Some absolutely despise it. Very few are neutral. However, love it or hate it, these same people keep discussing my work, constantly spreading the word to those who don’t know about me. Such controversy makes people curious and brings new readers to my website every day. Isn’t this just insidious? The more people dislike me, the more they actively go out and market my work to others, and the more they help me achieve my goal of helping people grow. This is so effective that I can even tell such people how they’re helping me, and they’ll keep right on doing it. I could certainly write more agreeable posts that few people would find objectionable. I could apologize for every opinion of mine that isn’t mainstream. But that’s totally the wrong calibration for my goals, not to mention for my personality. It’s way too cowardly. I don’t want to calibrate as a wimpy blogger that nobody can find fault with. It’s more effective to calibrate as a blogger who challenges people and makes a difference, even if it sends some people running the other way (to go out and promote my work instead of reading it themselves). Uncalibrated newbie bloggers often blog scared. They try to please everyone and avoid taking risks. Consequently, they write posts that are easily forgotten and which will generate few referrals. Then some new upstart blogger comes along with a better calibration, breaks all the newbie rules, and surges ahead in traffic. And the other newbies think it’s luck. It’s not luck though. A good example is the blog Stuff White People Like. I first happened upon it shortly after it launched, and I knew it would become successful. I could see it had a great calibration for building traffic quickly — it was only a matter of time before it took off. The posts were politically incorrect to the max, but they were witty and memorable. Sure enough, that blog became a hit and even led to a book deal. If this sort of success surprises you as a blogger, it means your calibration is off. If your calibration is solid, you should be able to browse through the early posts on that blog and NOT be surprised by its success. Overall, if you’re often surprised by the success of others in your field, it means your calibration isn’t very good yet. As your own calibration matures, you’ll get better at being able to predict successes. One of the keys to success in any field, especially blogging, is to accept that there are good reasons the successful people are succeeding, and it has nothing to do with luck. If you see someone who’s getting better results than you, even if it’s someone with less experience who started after you, chances are they have a more accurate calibration than you. You can rail against that, feel jealous, and call them names, but it’s better to take a step back, eat your humble pie, and learn from such people if you can. I’ve learned some pretty cool things from bloggers who started long after I did. Although my current calibration is obviously working, I know I can always improve, and I never want to think of myself as such as expert that I can’t keep learning and growing. One of the worst things you can do in blogging is to write in such a manner that will offend no one. If you don’t offend or challenge anyone, you’re probably writing content that isn’t very memorable or meaningful. If you write what people expect, their minds won’t store it. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any highly successful bloggers that don’t have multiple negative rants written about them somewhere. All of them piss people off. Most of them aren’t intentionally trying to upset people. It’s just that upsetting people seems to be a natural consequence of the calibration required for blogging success. This isn’t unique to blogging either. Think of any successful media personality, and I’m sure you can find some rants about them with a quick online search. In fact, the biggest stars will have tons of rants. Consider Tom Cruise for instance. Some people might assume this sort of controversy is a side-effect of success, like perhaps that celebrity got a big head after enjoying some success (causing people to turn against him/her), or maybe the rants appeared as a side effect of the celebrity’s popularity (like it’s just a numbers game). I’d say that’s the wrong way to look at this. It’s more likely that generating controversy was part of the celebrity’s early calibration process. If anything, the ability to handle controversy probably helped them become a celebrity in the first place. Some of the first articles I ever wrote, even before I launched StevePavlina.com, generated controversy that helped turn them into fast hits. An example was the article Do It Now, which I wrote in 2000. Lots of people love that article, but some people find it disturbing and feel compelled to rant about it (even eight years after it was first posted online), perhaps because it makes them realize just how unproductive they are compared to what they could be achieving if they really made an all-out effort. Unfortunately, it took me years to figure out why that article became a hit and to learn how to reproduce the kind of impact it had. It also took me a long time to realize that the negative backlash generated by that article was actually helping me grow my readership… and that I should accept and embrace such critical feedback rather than worry about it. What I initially interpreted as negative feedback (i.e. I did something wrong) was actually positive feedback (I did something right). Interpreting emails from people saying “you are wrong” as evidence that you did something right is again pretty counterintuitive, isn’t it? This is a key point of calibration. When you’re building a new skill, you have to look at the big picture in terms of the results you’re getting. You might do something that seems to generate immediate negative feedback from people, but when you step back and look at the big picture, you may see that the overall feedback is overwhelmingly positive. This happens a lot in blogging, where a reader may chew you out for something you wrote, and then six months later, they’re singing your praises for helping them achieve a breakthrough they never thought possible. And even if they aren’t singing your praises, they’re out there telling people why they hate you, thereby making people curious and sending you more traffic. A similar effect also happens in social dynamics, where the “bad guys” can actually attract more success because they have so many detractors unwittingly doing their marketing for them. Newbie Fear Perhaps the toughest part of calibration is dealing with newbie fear. This is the fear of failure or rejection we experience when learning a new skill. Initially we suck, we know full well that we suck, and we really don’t want to deal with the embarrassment and humiliation of other people witnessing just how badly we suck. This is most distressing with skills that must be calibrated in public, such as dating skills and public speaking. There are some ways to mitigate newbie fear. One of the best ways is to connect with other newbies and go through the initial training together. When you look up to experts who are already well-calibrated, it’s easy to become intimidated and psyche yourself out. You’ll tend to hold yourself to an unreasonable standard of performance. But if you befriend and hang out with other newbies, the learning process can be a lot more fun. It’s comforting to have buddies that suck just as badly as you do. You can blow off steam together, share your latest insights, and poke fun at each other as you learn. “Misery loves company” isn’t such a bad idea in this case. The key is to associate with newbies who are committed to learning and growing. If you hang out with flakes, it probably won’t help you much. Try to identify other newbies that you predict are likely to stick with it and succeed, and hang out with them if you can. This will help increase your commitment without making you feel too intimidated. When I first started learning about blogging, I enjoyed connecting with other newbie bloggers. In the old days (old as in four years ago), we swapped links with each other, shared advice, and found ways to help each other gain traffic. Many of those people gave up and quit of course, but a few are doing very well today. It’s cool to watch your newbie friends improve their calibration right along with you, even though everyone improves at different rates. Ultimately, you’ll only get so much mileage out of trying to reduce newbie fear. The fastest way to overcome it is to simply charge straight at it. Just accept that you’ll suck, that some embarrassment will happen, and that the only way out is through. This is especially important for building good social skills. You’ll only get so far by sitting at home reading, listening to audio programs, and watching videos. Such educational aids can help, but they can never substitute for real-world experience. Use them as supplemental materials to refine your in-field experimentation. If you want to become a successful blogger, start blogging immediately. If you want to build an online business, get some kind of website online right away. If you want to improve your social skills, go outside and meet people tonight. Yes, you’re going to suck at first. But if you push through the newbie fear and do it anyway, the fear will subside, and you’ll begin to calibrate your skills very quickly. Even if you read all the books in your field, you will still suck on your first in-field experience. You won’t even be able to apply what’s in those books. So get out in the field and start calibrating. Get that first crappy “Hello, World” blog post under your belt. Let out that inane “Hey, baby. What’s your sign?” pick-up line. Bang shins with your sparring partner as you scream, “Ouch!” Newbie Pride If you’re a newbie at something, and you’re feeling hesitant to go after some live in-field experience, realize that this is very normal. Many newbies resist being newbies, but this resistance only makes them more nervous. So realize that a big part of the problem is your own resistance to being a newbie. You’ll get into the field sooner if you can accept this phase of your learning curve. My advice for turning this around is to fully embrace your newbieness. Don the badge of Newbie Pride. Instead of fearing that you’ll look like a total dork, take this the other way. Embrace and even exaggerate your dorkiness. Don’t try to resist it. Blow it up even larger. In martial arts classes, there’s no hiding your newbie status. You wear a white belt, so everyone knows you’re a beginner. This actually makes it easier because you know people don’t expect much of you. The lower belts may be nervous about sparring, but since they know that nobody expects much of them, most are able to get out on the mat and spar without undue hesitation. However, in other fields, people don’t wear white belts. This has positive and negative side-effects. In online business, for example, many newbies try to hide their newbieness. I made this mistake when I started my first business. I pretended to be an experienced business person when I just started. I talked about my staff even when I was the only person in the business. That was totally unnecessary, not to mention really dumb. When I started blogging, however, I didn’t try to hide my newbieness. I embraced that dorky beginner phase and had fun with it. And because of that, more experienced bloggers reached out to help me. Back then, “more experienced” meant they started blogging a month before I did. I still maintain this attitude today. If I’m new at something, I’ll openly share my newbie dorkiness and hesitation. It doesn’t embarrass me to share my weaknesses. On the contrary, it actually invites a lot of help and advice from non-newbies who want to help me calibrate. The Master Newbie Pick-up Artist Suppose you’re a guy who wants to learn how to pick up women at night clubs, but you’re terrified of going out, and you can’t imagine walking up to a woman and delivering an opener. Realize that so much of your resistance is because you’re trying to appear cooler and more experienced than you really are. Do you realize this is totally unnecessary? It’s better to embrace your newbieness and use it to your advantage. If I were trying to develop this particular skill, here’s what I’d do. I’d go up to women and tell them the plain and simple truth. I’ve never actually done this, so take my advice with a grain of salt because this isn’t a calibration I’ve bothered to develop, but I’ll bet you it would work well at initiating fun conversations. I’d walk up to a group of women with a big smile on my face. I’d get their attention and say to them, “Hey guys, I’m currently learning how to meet women at night clubs, but I’m a total newbie at this. Would you mind if I practice on you just for fun for a couple minutes? And would you give me some honest feedback afterwards?” I suspect you’ll probably get a laugh if you do this, and if you don’t, then the women aren’t likely worth talking to anyway, so you can quickly disqualify them as boring or humorless. You’ve taken the pressure off by initiating a “practice session,” so it doesn’t even matter what you say next. Your next line could even be, “Okay what do you think of this? [Switch to deep voice] Hey, baby. What’s your sign?” That would probably get another laugh, but even a groan isn’t bad. You can keep saying other funny lines. You could also kick off a meta conversation about meeting women at night clubs, such as by asking a question like, “Okay, after I do the opener, what should I talk about next? Would this be a good time to tell you a quick story to demonstrate that I’m a cool guy? Should I tell you about the time I …?” The context is that you’re just practicing, but in truth you’ve already opened the group. This is an untested suggestion of course, so you’ll have to try it yourself to see if it works for you. The general idea is not to hide your newbieness. It’s perfectly okay to be a newbie and even to admit it to people. When you’re a newbie, your initial goal is to calibrate your skills, not to achieve a particular result. So take the pressure off as to whether or not you succeed or fail. You can go for results after you’ve calibrated your skills. If you pretend to be an expert when you’re not, you’ll just stress yourself out. Wear the badge of Newbie Pride. Incidentally, if you actually try this, please let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear how people react to it. I think this could work for men and women alike. In fact, if a woman came up and used this opener on me, I’d probably laugh and say, “Sure, let’s practice.” I’d be pretty impressed by a woman who used such a line because it demonstrates a high level of awareness with a certain playfulness. I’d probably fall in love on the spot. Great… now I’ve gotten myself all riled up to the point where I totally want to go to a night club and try this for real just to see what happens. The Skill of Calibration Being able to calibrate yourself to a new skill set is a skill in itself. The more skills you learn, the faster you’ll be able to achieve competence in each new skill you attempt. One thing that happens as you calibrate to many different skills is that you become more comfortable being a newbie in general. Once you’ve gone through the newbie phase enough times, it ceases to bother you so much. You can start from rock bottom in a new field and be mostly okay with how badly you suck. You get used to it, and you know you’ll eventually get better. This makes it easier to put in the time as a newbie, so you can quickly progress to intermediate. For me the newbie phase is often the most fun and exciting because I learn the fastest during this time. Another benefit of having lots of calibration experience is that you’ll be less intimidated by the experts. You’ll accept that they fine-tuned their calibration over many years. This will help you develop the patience necessary to keep hacking away in order to build long-term competence. When I became a raw foodist earlier this year, I spent a lot of time communicating with successful long-term raw foodists. Initially, the information I gained was just overwhelming. I was offered thousands of pages of text to read (books, e-books, articles), plus audio, video, and live lectures to attend. There were some weeks where learning this skill practically became my full-time job. I had to unlearn many bad habits that were holding me back, not to mention breaking a lifelong addiction to cooked food. This was a total lifestyle overhaul, not just a minor diet change. After months of study and practice, I eventually calibrated myself to being a successful raw foodist, well enough that I felt I could maintain it on autopilot. I’d probably label myself an advanced intermediate at this point. I have a solid grasp of the fundamentals, cooked foods are no longer appealing to me, I feel fantastic, and I love the foods I eat. As part of this re-calibration to raw foods, my taste buds have shifted a lot. I actually crave fresh greens now. I feel mildly deprived if I don’t eat at least a pound of greens each day. Now that I’ve achieved a decent calibration, maintaining this lifestyle is pretty much a no-brainer for me. But during the first few months, I had to invest a lot of thought and effort into it. Immersion and Experimentation When learning new skills, my preference is to get through the newbie phase as quickly as possible, so I can start enjoying some good results. In order to accomplish this, I’ll often put other areas of my life on hold, so I can devote the bulk of my time to building competence in the new skill. I don’t always do this, but if the skill is important to me, I prefer the strategy of total immersion instead of working on it a little bit each week. The danger of being stuck in beginner mode for too long is that your early motivation may fade, and more self-discipline will be required to keep going. Many new bloggers give up within the first few months, well before they’re getting any results. It takes them too long to calibrate their skills to what is required for success in blogging, so they never make it past the beginner phase. After a few months, they still haven’t calibrated, so they continue to make the sorts of mistakes that a well-calibrated blogger could spot within seconds. For example, they write boring posts that nobody cares to read, or they write time-bound posts that will be worthless a year later. It takes too much discipline for them to keep going with no results to show for it, so they give up. Then they repeat the same process again in a different field. Hopefully by now you can clearly see that this is a loser strategy. On the other hand, I’ve seen bloggers who’ve built a lot of traffic very quickly, earning $1000+ per month within a few months after they started. They threw themselves wholeheartedly into learning everything they could about blogging, and they were willing to be open-minded and flexible. They learned what worked for them and did more of it. They learned what didn’t work and stopped doing it. They understood that if they wrote a blog post, and it generated no increase in traffic whatsoever, then perhaps they should write something totally different instead of sticking with more of the same. Proper calibration requires a lot of experimentation. If you don’t get a good result, you can interpret that as a negative result, and change something — change anything. But don’t keep doing what didn’t work, expecting that it’s just a matter of time before things pick up. It’s not really a matter of time. It’s a matter of skill. When you immerse yourself in learning a new skill, don’t focus on trying to get results with the skill — at least not right away. Instead, focus on getting good at the skill. For example, if you’re learning to blog, focus on writing posts in a variety of styles. You want to calibrate yourself to get good at writing blog posts that generate referrals. Don’t worry about trying to make money with your blog. Don’t even worry about trying to build a certain level of traffic. You can focus on those goals later. But initially, aim to figure out how to semi-consistently write awesome posts that generate referrals. If you can’t figure out how to do that, your blog will surely fail. But if you can calibrate yourself to this skill, then you can shift from building your skill to applying your skill. That’s where you can start really building your traffic and generating income from your work. A New Equilibrium – Post-Calibration The funny thing about calibration is that once you reach a certain point, you’ll tend to let go of all the tricks, tactics, and techniques you learned along the way. Now you’re able to maintain a certain level of success just by being yourself. This happens because the skills you learned have been internalized. You no longer have to think about the details because your subconscious mind takes care of them for you. Applying your skill becomes much easier when you reach this point. Blogging is largely effortless for me these days. I can crank out a detailed new article with fairly little effort. I got the idea for this particular article while I was at the gym this morning. I outlined it in my head while I took a shower. Later I sat down to write, and the words just flowed. It took me a while to write an article of this length of course, but the process was easy and effortless. The reason it was easy is that I’ve already calibrated myself to the skill of writing articles. There are lots of details that go into writing an article of this length, but I don’t have to consciously think about the process of how to write. It’s all internalized. I can just sit down at my desk, the ideas start flowing, and my fingers automatically start typing. I can chunk the task of writing an article as a single to-do item, even an article of this length, and it isn’t a big deal to me. When I write a new blog post, I don’t consciously think about all the details that other pro bloggers would tell you are important. I just blog. It feels like a very simple thing to do, not nearly as complicated as it might seem. However, the reason I can keep it simple and still do well in this field is because I went through that complicated newbie phase years ago. I internalized the techniques that proved effective for me, so today I don’t even think about them anymore. Putting a skill on automatic pilot is the long-term benefit of good calibration. Once you gain this calibration, you can’t really lose it. You may need to re-calibrate your skills from time to time to adapt to changing conditions, but that usually isn’t as hard as acquiring the initial calibration. If you took away my blog and all my articles, and I had to start over from scratch as an anonymous blogger today, do you think I could repeat my success? I’m sure I could do so very quickly because I’ve already calibrated my blogging skills. I typically experience quick success when I can rely on a previous calibration, such as learning to spar in a new martial art or building a social network of friends in a new city. One of the reasons I achieved quick success as a blogger was that I benefited from my previous calibration of running a profitable online business for years, so I was able to adapt much of that skill to the medium of blogging. I was also able to adapt my blogging calibration to writing a book. When you calibrate, you lock in a new skill. Then you can use that skill to generate consistently good results. This is a wonderful place to be. Post-calibration, you’ll typically feel very confident within the realm of that skill. You have every reason to feel confident because you’re genuinely competent. I’d feel comfortable starting a new online business. I’d feel comfortable moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone. I’d feel confident studying a new style of martial arts. I’d feel confident giving a new speech. However, the first time I did these things, I hadn’t yet calibrated myself for success. The only kind of confidence I was able to muster back then was the “fake it till you make it kind,” which is more false bravado than genuine confidence. Calibrate Is a Verb Don’t let the newbie phase get you down. Everyone has to go through it. Get a newbie training partner if you must, but turn toward that newbie fear, and run straight at it. The fear will soon go away. It’s not a big deal to fail or to get rejected. That’s part of being a newbie. Accept it. You will get better. In order to calibrate your skills, you have to take action. You can’t just sit at home reading or studying training materials. You must go into the field and do field work under real-world conditions. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody’s got plans… until they get hit.” I know so many people who’ve spent months reading about and talking about starting an online business. They still don’t have an online business. But they just keep talking about it and planning it, as if that’s some form of phantom progress. Their calibration is still at zero. They think they’re getting closer to their goal. From my perspective, they haven’t even started yet. They’re just procrastinating. Such people would do much better if they stopped reading and planning and started doing. Nobody earned a black belt from reading about martial arts. Which approach do you think will generate the best results? Reading about a diet for 30 days? Or doing a 30-day trial of that diet? Which will improve your social skills the most? Watching social skills videos for 30 days? Or going out every night for 30 days and starting up conversations with strangers? Which will generate the best blogging results? Reading blogs on blogging for 30 days? Or starting your own blog and posting your own blog entries for 30 days? Which will generate the best physical results? Read about weight training for 30 days? Or hit the gym and do 30 days of weight training? Reading and studying will give you knowledge and information that sits in your mind. That seems like a good thing, but you’ll still have zero results to show for your efforts. You’re actually no closer to your goals. You’re still at the starting line. But if you go out and do the best you can to apply what you know right now, even if your understanding is full of holes, you’ll quickly learn what works under real-world conditions, and you’ll adapt. You’ll make a huge leap forward in your calibration. You’ll also generate some real-world results that may benefit you. Get your nose out of the books and onto the field. Take your licks as they come, and learn from them. Build your skills under real-world conditions, so you can actually apply them to get results. Don’t just read about life. Live it. Reading and learning are awesome, but make sure you’re using these as supplements for in-field experience, not substitutes. If you’re reading about any skill you want to develop, but you aren’t regularly performing in the field yet, you’re just procrastinating. Deep down you already knew that, didn’t you? I’m here to remind you of this, so you can hate me for it and help spread the word about how awful I am.
    897 Posted by UniqueThis
  • In personal development terms, calibration is the process of progressively refining your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors until you shift your equilibrium to the point where you can consistently achieve the results you desire. Just as you might calibrate a scientific instrument to provide consistently accurate measurements, you can calibrate your skills to generate consistently good results. This is a majorly long article. At about 8,600 words, I’m pretty sure this is the longest article I’ve ever written. It’s more like a free book chapter. The length is because my goal is to share one of the most comprehensive articles ever written on this topic. If you actually read the whole thing, you should gain many helpful insights from it. There are many subtle ideas here. If you don’t have time to read it now, feel free to print it out for later. It goes good with peppermint tea. Calibration for Long-term Success When you begin any new activity or endeavor, initially you won’t be calibrated for success, so you’ll experience mostly failure. However, if you keep moving forward with a clear goal in mind, and if you progressively adjust your thinking and actions along the way, you’ll eventually calibrate yourself to get the results you want. This calibration only occurs from directly applying a skill under real-world conditions, not by reading about it. When you’re in the pre-calibration period, achieving even a small degree of success in a new field requires a massive, all-out effort. Post-calibration, success is practically on auto-pilot; you can consistently achieve the results you want with minimal effort. Calibration Examples It’s easiest to understand calibration by way of example, so here are some detailed examples to consider: Social Dynamics, Making Friends, and Dating In the field of social dynamics, calibration is the process of learning how to meet new people, initiate conversations, keep conversations going, make new friends, get dates (second meetings), and basically achieve positive social interactions. How you calibrate your social skills will depend on your personal goals for this area. A salesperson may focus on learning how to build rapport, generate interest, close sales, and construct a database of quality contacts. A professional speaker may learn how to get attention, arouse emotion, generate laughter, and inspire people to action. A pick-up artist may study how to initiate conversations, demonstrate value, build attraction, and achieve successful closes (a close could be getting a phone number, a date, or a sexual encounter). In high school I was comfortable within certain social circles, but I was still more introverted than I wanted to be. So when I started at college, I decided to remake myself into a more extroverted person. I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I just dove in and attempted to be as social as possible. I accepted any and all opportunities for social interaction. If anyone invited me to go out, I always said yes. I made a huge commitment to elevate this part of my life, and I stuck with it for my entire freshman year. This strategy actually worked. I hadn’t read any books on social skills at the time, but I quickly calibrated my social skills via trial and error. Within a few weeks, I’d made dozens of new friends, and I was going to parties every week. If I ever wanted to hang out and do something fun, I could always find someone willing. Not including sleep time, I’m sure I spent more time in other people’s dorm rooms than my own. I was always going out — for parties, poker games, volleyball, ping pong, or just for pizza. I created an absolutely amazing social life and packed more fun into each month than I used to enjoy in a year. I practically became like a different person. What I found interesting was that in the beginning, it seemed like I was always the one to initiate new connections, but once I felt comfortable doing that, additional connections began flowing into my life almost effortlessly. During my first week at college, I noticed a party across the hall and asked if I could join in the fun (and got a quick yes). After that I was always getting invitations to parties and virtually never had to ask. During the first few months, I initiated a lot of social experiences (Wanna join me for dinner at the dining commons? Wanna grab a slice? Wanna get a poker game together?). But eventually I had so many invites coming to me passively that I didn’t have to initiate as much. Looking back, I probably went way overboard. The good news was that I really took control of this area of my life. By throwing myself into it with a passion, I quickly became comfortable meeting new people, and I learned to make friends easily. The bad news was that I totally blew off my studies and was flunking out of school. In retrospect it wasn’t such a bad trade off though. I got expelled after my third semester, but the social calibration I gained during that time has served me well ever since. I went to a different school later and still earned my college degrees, but I think the social calibration has proven more valuable in the long run. I don’t feel intimidated in new social situations, and it’s normally easy for me to make new friends and connect with people. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a wife without even trying. When Erin and I moved to Las Vegas in 2004, we didn’t know anyone in the city. We went from having a lot of friends in L.A. to having zero local friends in Vegas. It was just the two of us and our kids in a big city of strangers. But part of the reason I was happy to move to a new city was that I knew I could make new friends easily. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before I had plenty of great local friends. The bigger challenge for me has been feeling over-socialized at times. There have been some weeks where I’d have preferred more alone time. This social calibration has benefited me tremendously in business. I can go to a mixer or conference where I don’t know anyone, and I have an easy time making new friends and contacts. I remember when I first started attending the Game Developer’s Conference many years ago, most of the attendees seemed shy and socially awkward. They’d mostly keep to themselves or cling to their co-workers, especially at meal times. Meanwhile, I was going around making new friends, which just felt natural to me. Some of those chance encounters led to new opportunities and deals that helped grow my business. It was also nice to have more friends with similar interests. One year at that conference, I hung out so late that the shuttles had stopped running. It was pouring rain outside, but a new friend offered me a ride back to my hotel. In fact, something similar happened at a different conference this year. It’s nice to know that my social calibration can keep me out of the rain when necessary. To some people this may not sound like a big deal. Many people develop such skills in high school or younger. But for a shy kid like me who went to an all boys Catholic high school, it was indeed a big deal. Although I use my social skills mainly to make friends and business contacts, you can use a similar process to develop dating and relationship skills. For example, if you want to go on more dates, you can calibrate your skills to get good at opening conversations with strangers, develop fun and interesting conversations, build attraction, and at least close with a phone number. There are lots of people teaching this stuff online now, with varying degrees of credibility (and sanity), but the most important thing is to just dive in and start experimenting. You’ll experience some rejection at first, but if you just keep learning and adapting, your skills will calibrate to the point where you’re able to get consistently good results. If you happen to be suffering from loneliness, most likely it’s because you never took the time to adequately calibrate your social skills. Consequently, you may avoid making new friends because you don’t understand the social nuances of how to do it. You probably feel socially awkward and suffer from an amplified fear of rejection. The solution is to focus on a different goal first. You need to calibrate your social skills before you can apply them. Go out and socialize for the sake of learning how to socialize. Don’t worry about whether or not you make any new friends. Once your social skills are calibrated, which may take a few months, then you can focus on building the kinds of friendships you desire, and it will be much easier for you. Aim to get good first. Then aim to get results. Martial Arts If you study martial arts and begin learning to spar, you’re going to be pretty bad at it initially. You’ll have no sense of timing, and you won’t grasp the rhythm of a sparring match. You’ll probably bang knees with your opponent a lot. All the newbies do that. For the most part, you can expect to look and feel like a total dork. The first time I sparred, which was more than 10 years ago, I was laughing during the match, mostly at how awkward I felt. I’m sure I looked like a total dork. This is to be expected. You can try to play it cool, but the truth is that the first few times you attempt any new sport, you’re virtually guaranteed to look and feel like a dork. This is because your mind and body aren’t calibrated to that sport. Within a few months of regular training, your sparring should be fairly well-calibrated for an intermediate level of skill. At the very least, you won’t embarrass yourself. You’ll have sparred many different opponents, and you’ll have a good sense of what to expect. You’ll be able to use different moves successfully, land punches and kicks, and pull off the occasional surprise. I remember how cool it was when I stripped an opponent’s helmet off with an axe kick during a sparring match. While sparring at the beginner level feels awkward and intimidating, once you gain a little competence, it becomes a fun challenge. At this point the subtleties of the skill begin to reveal themselves. Once your basic sparring moves and tactics are calibrated, you can begin to calibrate your strategic decisions, and this is where the richness of sparring really opens up. The game becomes less physical and more mental. Some would even say it becomes spiritual at a certain point. Calibrating to a particular sport is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. Even if you don’t train for a while, the mental calibration remains, and you can easily pick it up again later. I trained for about three years in Tae Kwon Do in the late 90s with a mix of group classes and private lessons. Over time I got pretty good at sparring and really enjoyed it. I moved away from the studio and stopped training, but several years later, I started training in a different martial art, Kempo, starting as a white belt. Kempo is geared toward self-defense, while TKD is more sporty. Fortunately, all the moves that are legal in TKD are also legal in Kempo, and Kempo allows you to do some things that aren’t legal in TKD, such as punching to the face. (Protective gear is worn during sparring, but there’s still some risk. I suffered a bruised rib and a split lip on different occasions.) Even though I’d lost most of my flexibility, the first time I sparred in Kempo, I did amazingly well, certainly far beyond the white belt level. From my first Kempo sparring class, I was able to hold my own against one of the black belts in the studio. I was sparring TKD-style, not Kempo-style, but that actually gave me an advantage because the other students weren’t calibrated to that style. TKD is mostly kicking, but Kempo uses more hand techniques. My preference for kicks surprised the other students because they would hover just outside of punching range, but they were still within my TKD-calibrated kicking range, so I hammered them with kicking combos until they figured out they needed to back up. This threw them off mentally, and it took months for many of them to adapt to my style. Of course, it also took me a while to get used to having punches thrown at my head. After a year of training in Kempo, I was fairly well-calibrated to that style, but I had to unlearn some of my TKD habits that were ineffective in Kempo. I had to work on my speed, defensive maneuvers, and incorporating punches, strikes, and backfists into my sparring. The point is that once you gain calibration at a particular skill set, you may very well lock in that skill for life. I feel as if basic competence in sparring is so ingrained in me that even if I didn’t spar again for 20 years, I’d be able to quickly pick it up again. I can actually feel that calibration in my body. Blogging Since blogging is still a fairly new medium, it usually takes new bloggers a while to properly calibrate. The failure rate is pretty high for newbies because most of them give up before they calibrate for success. I’d say you need to write at least 200-300 posts before you get a decent calibration going, and that assumes you’re making a solid commitment to getting better. For some people it will require more than 500 posts to achieve reasonable calibration, especially if they aren’t very good writers. There’s just a lot to learn. In particular, there’s a huge gap between writing posts that people read and forget vs. writing posts that people will remember well enough that they’re still referring their friends, family members, and co-workers to read a year later. One of the key calibrations for long-term blogging success is to learn how to write the latter type of post; that’s how you get your archives working for you, and your traffic can still grow even when you aren’t posting anything. For example, of the top 10 articles on my website that generate the most referrals, only one was written this year. Articles I wrote years ago continue to attract new readers today. However, it took me a long time to learn to write the kinds of articles that would produce such results. I’ve publicly shared how I do this, and that’s been helpful for some people, but it still takes time for new bloggers to “get it” to the point where they can apply it. Not long ago I was at a party, chatting with a woman who got started blogging after attending a blogging workshop I did a couple years ago. She was telling me some of the mistakes she made with her blog during that time, all of which were mistakes I explicitly said to avoid during the workshop. For example, she wrote lots of timely content instead of timeless content, so she felt like she was on an endless treadmill, and her archives were largely worthless. She remembered that I said to avoid those mistakes too, but that wasn’t enough to stop her from making them. Despite having the opportunity to learn from my experience and avoid the pitfalls I described, she still had to go out and make those mistakes in order to refine her own calibration. I’ve seen countless bloggers make the same mistakes. They seek my advice, I tell them what to do and what not to do and why, and they do exactly what I tell them not to do and then wonder why it isn’t working. Oy vey! This is okay though, as long as they keep plugging ahead and learn from those mistakes. We human beings aren’t known to be the best listeners in the galaxy. We learn much better by doing something than by reading about it. Different bloggers will naturally calibrate themselves toward different goals. For example, I wanted to calibrate my blogging skills to the goal of having a deep, long-term impact on my readers. I want to change people’s lives for the better. This is partly why I do things differently than most bloggers. I blow off many practices that other pro bloggers defend as sacred. My articles tend to be very long and detailed. I typically avoid posting shallow short info-crack pieces. I post less frequently, sometimes going a week or more with no fresh content. I largely ignore current events. I don’t often link to other blogs. This is all because I’m calibrating my skills toward a certain type of result. Those popular strategies just aren’t very helpful at achieving the results I desire, so I don’t use them. If you want this to become yet another info-crack blog, get used to disappointment. I want to change your life, not provide you with a five-minute distraction. So be careful when taking advice from others. If you’re calibrating toward a different goal than they are, their advice may hurt you more than help you. It’s best to learn from people who’ve already achieved a similar calibration to what you want to achieve. For example, if you just want to make as much money as possible and don’t care how you get it, then you probably wouldn’t want to model my blogging methods because I’ve calibrated myself toward a different goal. But you might want to follow those bloggers who proudly proclaim they’re in it for the money — there are plenty to select from. On the other hand, if you believe you’re here for a reason and that blogging could potentially become a sustainable expression of your life purpose, then you’d probably benefit greatly by studying my style, since I’ve been getting positive results in this area for years. The point is that if you decide to model someone, be sure you’re modeling someone with compatible goals (and thus a compatible calibration). One thing I’ve learned from 4+ years of blogging is that it really isn’t that hard in principle to become a successful blogger; however, it’s very hard in practice. Newbies’ minds are typically filled with many false notions. In some ways they need to unload more useless ideas than they need to absorb useful ideas. I’ve raped quite a few pro blogging sacred cows, yet my blog is still going strong. There are a lot of blogging success factors that are somewhat counter-intuitive. You won’t realize this if you just read sites about blogging because they’ll rarely write about these factors. For the most part, it’s not that anyone is intentionally withholding information. The ideas are simply too subtle for most bloggers to be consciously aware of them. Many calibration issues are like this — they’re just too subtle to appear on any “top 10″ or “how to” lists. Sometimes people who succeed can’t document all the specific reasons they’ve succeeded. They can’t consciously unearth every detail of their unconscious calibration. There are some things I do as a successful blogger that I’ve never seen anyone write or speak about publicly, myself included. Some of the concepts are so subtle or intricate that even if I explained them in detail, nobody but other successful pro bloggers would even understand what I’m talking about, and some people would accuse me of lying. Yesterday another blogger emailed me a link to a post he wrote, explaining why he personally dislikes my writing style. This is a blogger who says he gets significantly less traffic than I do. His main criticism is that I state my opinions too directly, as if they’re facts. This is a perfectly valid criticism of course; I confess to doing this liberally. The attitude of that blogger was that this is a personal defect I should correct. However, what he probably doesn’t realize is that this is a trait I developed over time as part of my calibration process for blogging success. I’m sure his advice is well-meaning, but I know that if I take his advice, my results will actually decline. I can say he’s wrong and that I’m right because I’ve learned which approach works best for me via trial and error. As a generalization, I know that making strong statements works better than making weak statements. This is one of many subtle calibration refinements I learned from years of blogging. I discovered that prefacing every opinion with phrases like “I think…” or “I feel…” or “In my opinion…” leads to the creation of wimpy content. So this was actually a personal defect I learned to correct, and I intentionally make strong statements. My readers aren’t stupid. They know that since this is my website, such statements represent my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. When I offer up my thoughts directly, as opposed to watering them down with qualifiers, people are challenged to agree or disagree with me. This helps people question their beliefs, strengthening some while weakening others. This is what I like to see. Another benefit to making strong statements is that other bloggers, including the one critical of my posting style, will take the time to write posts just to disagree with me, thereby sending traffic to my website and actively helping me achieve my goals. Yet because their content is usually wimpier, they don’t benefit equally from this same mechanism. There are a lot of subtle interactions going on here, and I’m only offering a cursory overview here, but the net effect is that by posting strong statements, I enjoy more blogging success, but I also attract more criticism. However, the criticism actually benefits me. This is pretty counterintuitive, isn’t it? Part of the reason I’ve been so successful as a blogger is that people remember what I’ve written, especially if they disagree with it. If you look at the comments written about my work throughout the blogosphere, you’ll find that most people have very polarized opinions about my work. Some people love my work. Some absolutely despise it. Very few are neutral. However, love it or hate it, these same people keep discussing my work, constantly spreading the word to those who don’t know about me. Such controversy makes people curious and brings new readers to my website every day. Isn’t this just insidious? The more people dislike me, the more they actively go out and market my work to others, and the more they help me achieve my goal of helping people grow. This is so effective that I can even tell such people how they’re helping me, and they’ll keep right on doing it. I could certainly write more agreeable posts that few people would find objectionable. I could apologize for every opinion of mine that isn’t mainstream. But that’s totally the wrong calibration for my goals, not to mention for my personality. It’s way too cowardly. I don’t want to calibrate as a wimpy blogger that nobody can find fault with. It’s more effective to calibrate as a blogger who challenges people and makes a difference, even if it sends some people running the other way (to go out and promote my work instead of reading it themselves). Uncalibrated newbie bloggers often blog scared. They try to please everyone and avoid taking risks. Consequently, they write posts that are easily forgotten and which will generate few referrals. Then some new upstart blogger comes along with a better calibration, breaks all the newbie rules, and surges ahead in traffic. And the other newbies think it’s luck. It’s not luck though. A good example is the blog Stuff White People Like. I first happened upon it shortly after it launched, and I knew it would become successful. I could see it had a great calibration for building traffic quickly — it was only a matter of time before it took off. The posts were politically incorrect to the max, but they were witty and memorable. Sure enough, that blog became a hit and even led to a book deal. If this sort of success surprises you as a blogger, it means your calibration is off. If your calibration is solid, you should be able to browse through the early posts on that blog and NOT be surprised by its success. Overall, if you’re often surprised by the success of others in your field, it means your calibration isn’t very good yet. As your own calibration matures, you’ll get better at being able to predict successes. One of the keys to success in any field, especially blogging, is to accept that there are good reasons the successful people are succeeding, and it has nothing to do with luck. If you see someone who’s getting better results than you, even if it’s someone with less experience who started after you, chances are they have a more accurate calibration than you. You can rail against that, feel jealous, and call them names, but it’s better to take a step back, eat your humble pie, and learn from such people if you can. I’ve learned some pretty cool things from bloggers who started long after I did. Although my current calibration is obviously working, I know I can always improve, and I never want to think of myself as such as expert that I can’t keep learning and growing. One of the worst things you can do in blogging is to write in such a manner that will offend no one. If you don’t offend or challenge anyone, you’re probably writing content that isn’t very memorable or meaningful. If you write what people expect, their minds won’t store it. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any highly successful bloggers that don’t have multiple negative rants written about them somewhere. All of them piss people off. Most of them aren’t intentionally trying to upset people. It’s just that upsetting people seems to be a natural consequence of the calibration required for blogging success. This isn’t unique to blogging either. Think of any successful media personality, and I’m sure you can find some rants about them with a quick online search. In fact, the biggest stars will have tons of rants. Consider Tom Cruise for instance. Some people might assume this sort of controversy is a side-effect of success, like perhaps that celebrity got a big head after enjoying some success (causing people to turn against him/her), or maybe the rants appeared as a side effect of the celebrity’s popularity (like it’s just a numbers game). I’d say that’s the wrong way to look at this. It’s more likely that generating controversy was part of the celebrity’s early calibration process. If anything, the ability to handle controversy probably helped them become a celebrity in the first place. Some of the first articles I ever wrote, even before I launched StevePavlina.com, generated controversy that helped turn them into fast hits. An example was the article Do It Now, which I wrote in 2000. Lots of people love that article, but some people find it disturbing and feel compelled to rant about it (even eight years after it was first posted online), perhaps because it makes them realize just how unproductive they are compared to what they could be achieving if they really made an all-out effort. Unfortunately, it took me years to figure out why that article became a hit and to learn how to reproduce the kind of impact it had. It also took me a long time to realize that the negative backlash generated by that article was actually helping me grow my readership… and that I should accept and embrace such critical feedback rather than worry about it. What I initially interpreted as negative feedback (i.e. I did something wrong) was actually positive feedback (I did something right). Interpreting emails from people saying “you are wrong” as evidence that you did something right is again pretty counterintuitive, isn’t it? This is a key point of calibration. When you’re building a new skill, you have to look at the big picture in terms of the results you’re getting. You might do something that seems to generate immediate negative feedback from people, but when you step back and look at the big picture, you may see that the overall feedback is overwhelmingly positive. This happens a lot in blogging, where a reader may chew you out for something you wrote, and then six months later, they’re singing your praises for helping them achieve a breakthrough they never thought possible. And even if they aren’t singing your praises, they’re out there telling people why they hate you, thereby making people curious and sending you more traffic. A similar effect also happens in social dynamics, where the “bad guys” can actually attract more success because they have so many detractors unwittingly doing their marketing for them. Newbie Fear Perhaps the toughest part of calibration is dealing with newbie fear. This is the fear of failure or rejection we experience when learning a new skill. Initially we suck, we know full well that we suck, and we really don’t want to deal with the embarrassment and humiliation of other people witnessing just how badly we suck. This is most distressing with skills that must be calibrated in public, such as dating skills and public speaking. There are some ways to mitigate newbie fear. One of the best ways is to connect with other newbies and go through the initial training together. When you look up to experts who are already well-calibrated, it’s easy to become intimidated and psyche yourself out. You’ll tend to hold yourself to an unreasonable standard of performance. But if you befriend and hang out with other newbies, the learning process can be a lot more fun. It’s comforting to have buddies that suck just as badly as you do. You can blow off steam together, share your latest insights, and poke fun at each other as you learn. “Misery loves company” isn’t such a bad idea in this case. The key is to associate with newbies who are committed to learning and growing. If you hang out with flakes, it probably won’t help you much. Try to identify other newbies that you predict are likely to stick with it and succeed, and hang out with them if you can. This will help increase your commitment without making you feel too intimidated. When I first started learning about blogging, I enjoyed connecting with other newbie bloggers. In the old days (old as in four years ago), we swapped links with each other, shared advice, and found ways to help each other gain traffic. Many of those people gave up and quit of course, but a few are doing very well today. It’s cool to watch your newbie friends improve their calibration right along with you, even though everyone improves at different rates. Ultimately, you’ll only get so much mileage out of trying to reduce newbie fear. The fastest way to overcome it is to simply charge straight at it. Just accept that you’ll suck, that some embarrassment will happen, and that the only way out is through. This is especially important for building good social skills. You’ll only get so far by sitting at home reading, listening to audio programs, and watching videos. Such educational aids can help, but they can never substitute for real-world experience. Use them as supplemental materials to refine your in-field experimentation. If you want to become a successful blogger, start blogging immediately. If you want to build an online business, get some kind of website online right away. If you want to improve your social skills, go outside and meet people tonight. Yes, you’re going to suck at first. But if you push through the newbie fear and do it anyway, the fear will subside, and you’ll begin to calibrate your skills very quickly. Even if you read all the books in your field, you will still suck on your first in-field experience. You won’t even be able to apply what’s in those books. So get out in the field and start calibrating. Get that first crappy “Hello, World” blog post under your belt. Let out that inane “Hey, baby. What’s your sign?” pick-up line. Bang shins with your sparring partner as you scream, “Ouch!” Newbie Pride If you’re a newbie at something, and you’re feeling hesitant to go after some live in-field experience, realize that this is very normal. Many newbies resist being newbies, but this resistance only makes them more nervous. So realize that a big part of the problem is your own resistance to being a newbie. You’ll get into the field sooner if you can accept this phase of your learning curve. My advice for turning this around is to fully embrace your newbieness. Don the badge of Newbie Pride. Instead of fearing that you’ll look like a total dork, take this the other way. Embrace and even exaggerate your dorkiness. Don’t try to resist it. Blow it up even larger. In martial arts classes, there’s no hiding your newbie status. You wear a white belt, so everyone knows you’re a beginner. This actually makes it easier because you know people don’t expect much of you. The lower belts may be nervous about sparring, but since they know that nobody expects much of them, most are able to get out on the mat and spar without undue hesitation. However, in other fields, people don’t wear white belts. This has positive and negative side-effects. In online business, for example, many newbies try to hide their newbieness. I made this mistake when I started my first business. I pretended to be an experienced business person when I just started. I talked about my staff even when I was the only person in the business. That was totally unnecessary, not to mention really dumb. When I started blogging, however, I didn’t try to hide my newbieness. I embraced that dorky beginner phase and had fun with it. And because of that, more experienced bloggers reached out to help me. Back then, “more experienced” meant they started blogging a month before I did. I still maintain this attitude today. If I’m new at something, I’ll openly share my newbie dorkiness and hesitation. It doesn’t embarrass me to share my weaknesses. On the contrary, it actually invites a lot of help and advice from non-newbies who want to help me calibrate. The Master Newbie Pick-up Artist Suppose you’re a guy who wants to learn how to pick up women at night clubs, but you’re terrified of going out, and you can’t imagine walking up to a woman and delivering an opener. Realize that so much of your resistance is because you’re trying to appear cooler and more experienced than you really are. Do you realize this is totally unnecessary? It’s better to embrace your newbieness and use it to your advantage. If I were trying to develop this particular skill, here’s what I’d do. I’d go up to women and tell them the plain and simple truth. I’ve never actually done this, so take my advice with a grain of salt because this isn’t a calibration I’ve bothered to develop, but I’ll bet you it would work well at initiating fun conversations. I’d walk up to a group of women with a big smile on my face. I’d get their attention and say to them, “Hey guys, I’m currently learning how to meet women at night clubs, but I’m a total newbie at this. Would you mind if I practice on you just for fun for a couple minutes? And would you give me some honest feedback afterwards?” I suspect you’ll probably get a laugh if you do this, and if you don’t, then the women aren’t likely worth talking to anyway, so you can quickly disqualify them as boring or humorless. You’ve taken the pressure off by initiating a “practice session,” so it doesn’t even matter what you say next. Your next line could even be, “Okay what do you think of this? [Switch to deep voice] Hey, baby. What’s your sign?” That would probably get another laugh, but even a groan isn’t bad. You can keep saying other funny lines. You could also kick off a meta conversation about meeting women at night clubs, such as by asking a question like, “Okay, after I do the opener, what should I talk about next? Would this be a good time to tell you a quick story to demonstrate that I’m a cool guy? Should I tell you about the time I …?” The context is that you’re just practicing, but in truth you’ve already opened the group. This is an untested suggestion of course, so you’ll have to try it yourself to see if it works for you. The general idea is not to hide your newbieness. It’s perfectly okay to be a newbie and even to admit it to people. When you’re a newbie, your initial goal is to calibrate your skills, not to achieve a particular result. So take the pressure off as to whether or not you succeed or fail. You can go for results after you’ve calibrated your skills. If you pretend to be an expert when you’re not, you’ll just stress yourself out. Wear the badge of Newbie Pride. Incidentally, if you actually try this, please let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear how people react to it. I think this could work for men and women alike. In fact, if a woman came up and used this opener on me, I’d probably laugh and say, “Sure, let’s practice.” I’d be pretty impressed by a woman who used such a line because it demonstrates a high level of awareness with a certain playfulness. I’d probably fall in love on the spot. Great… now I’ve gotten myself all riled up to the point where I totally want to go to a night club and try this for real just to see what happens. The Skill of Calibration Being able to calibrate yourself to a new skill set is a skill in itself. The more skills you learn, the faster you’ll be able to achieve competence in each new skill you attempt. One thing that happens as you calibrate to many different skills is that you become more comfortable being a newbie in general. Once you’ve gone through the newbie phase enough times, it ceases to bother you so much. You can start from rock bottom in a new field and be mostly okay with how badly you suck. You get used to it, and you know you’ll eventually get better. This makes it easier to put in the time as a newbie, so you can quickly progress to intermediate. For me the newbie phase is often the most fun and exciting because I learn the fastest during this time. Another benefit of having lots of calibration experience is that you’ll be less intimidated by the experts. You’ll accept that they fine-tuned their calibration over many years. This will help you develop the patience necessary to keep hacking away in order to build long-term competence. When I became a raw foodist earlier this year, I spent a lot of time communicating with successful long-term raw foodists. Initially, the information I gained was just overwhelming. I was offered thousands of pages of text to read (books, e-books, articles), plus audio, video, and live lectures to attend. There were some weeks where learning this skill practically became my full-time job. I had to unlearn many bad habits that were holding me back, not to mention breaking a lifelong addiction to cooked food. This was a total lifestyle overhaul, not just a minor diet change. After months of study and practice, I eventually calibrated myself to being a successful raw foodist, well enough that I felt I could maintain it on autopilot. I’d probably label myself an advanced intermediate at this point. I have a solid grasp of the fundamentals, cooked foods are no longer appealing to me, I feel fantastic, and I love the foods I eat. As part of this re-calibration to raw foods, my taste buds have shifted a lot. I actually crave fresh greens now. I feel mildly deprived if I don’t eat at least a pound of greens each day. Now that I’ve achieved a decent calibration, maintaining this lifestyle is pretty much a no-brainer for me. But during the first few months, I had to invest a lot of thought and effort into it. Immersion and Experimentation When learning new skills, my preference is to get through the newbie phase as quickly as possible, so I can start enjoying some good results. In order to accomplish this, I’ll often put other areas of my life on hold, so I can devote the bulk of my time to building competence in the new skill. I don’t always do this, but if the skill is important to me, I prefer the strategy of total immersion instead of working on it a little bit each week. The danger of being stuck in beginner mode for too long is that your early motivation may fade, and more self-discipline will be required to keep going. Many new bloggers give up within the first few months, well before they’re getting any results. It takes them too long to calibrate their skills to what is required for success in blogging, so they never make it past the beginner phase. After a few months, they still haven’t calibrated, so they continue to make the sorts of mistakes that a well-calibrated blogger could spot within seconds. For example, they write boring posts that nobody cares to read, or they write time-bound posts that will be worthless a year later. It takes too much discipline for them to keep going with no results to show for it, so they give up. Then they repeat the same process again in a different field. Hopefully by now you can clearly see that this is a loser strategy. On the other hand, I’ve seen bloggers who’ve built a lot of traffic very quickly, earning $1000+ per month within a few months after they started. They threw themselves wholeheartedly into learning everything they could about blogging, and they were willing to be open-minded and flexible. They learned what worked for them and did more of it. They learned what didn’t work and stopped doing it. They understood that if they wrote a blog post, and it generated no increase in traffic whatsoever, then perhaps they should write something totally different instead of sticking with more of the same. Proper calibration requires a lot of experimentation. If you don’t get a good result, you can interpret that as a negative result, and change something — change anything. But don’t keep doing what didn’t work, expecting that it’s just a matter of time before things pick up. It’s not really a matter of time. It’s a matter of skill. When you immerse yourself in learning a new skill, don’t focus on trying to get results with the skill — at least not right away. Instead, focus on getting good at the skill. For example, if you’re learning to blog, focus on writing posts in a variety of styles. You want to calibrate yourself to get good at writing blog posts that generate referrals. Don’t worry about trying to make money with your blog. Don’t even worry about trying to build a certain level of traffic. You can focus on those goals later. But initially, aim to figure out how to semi-consistently write awesome posts that generate referrals. If you can’t figure out how to do that, your blog will surely fail. But if you can calibrate yourself to this skill, then you can shift from building your skill to applying your skill. That’s where you can start really building your traffic and generating income from your work. A New Equilibrium – Post-Calibration The funny thing about calibration is that once you reach a certain point, you’ll tend to let go of all the tricks, tactics, and techniques you learned along the way. Now you’re able to maintain a certain level of success just by being yourself. This happens because the skills you learned have been internalized. You no longer have to think about the details because your subconscious mind takes care of them for you. Applying your skill becomes much easier when you reach this point. Blogging is largely effortless for me these days. I can crank out a detailed new article with fairly little effort. I got the idea for this particular article while I was at the gym this morning. I outlined it in my head while I took a shower. Later I sat down to write, and the words just flowed. It took me a while to write an article of this length of course, but the process was easy and effortless. The reason it was easy is that I’ve already calibrated myself to the skill of writing articles. There are lots of details that go into writing an article of this length, but I don’t have to consciously think about the process of how to write. It’s all internalized. I can just sit down at my desk, the ideas start flowing, and my fingers automatically start typing. I can chunk the task of writing an article as a single to-do item, even an article of this length, and it isn’t a big deal to me. When I write a new blog post, I don’t consciously think about all the details that other pro bloggers would tell you are important. I just blog. It feels like a very simple thing to do, not nearly as complicated as it might seem. However, the reason I can keep it simple and still do well in this field is because I went through that complicated newbie phase years ago. I internalized the techniques that proved effective for me, so today I don’t even think about them anymore. Putting a skill on automatic pilot is the long-term benefit of good calibration. Once you gain this calibration, you can’t really lose it. You may need to re-calibrate your skills from time to time to adapt to changing conditions, but that usually isn’t as hard as acquiring the initial calibration. If you took away my blog and all my articles, and I had to start over from scratch as an anonymous blogger today, do you think I could repeat my success? I’m sure I could do so very quickly because I’ve already calibrated my blogging skills. I typically experience quick success when I can rely on a previous calibration, such as learning to spar in a new martial art or building a social network of friends in a new city. One of the reasons I achieved quick success as a blogger was that I benefited from my previous calibration of running a profitable online business for years, so I was able to adapt much of that skill to the medium of blogging. I was also able to adapt my blogging calibration to writing a book. When you calibrate, you lock in a new skill. Then you can use that skill to generate consistently good results. This is a wonderful place to be. Post-calibration, you’ll typically feel very confident within the realm of that skill. You have every reason to feel confident because you’re genuinely competent. I’d feel comfortable starting a new online business. I’d feel comfortable moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone. I’d feel confident studying a new style of martial arts. I’d feel confident giving a new speech. However, the first time I did these things, I hadn’t yet calibrated myself for success. The only kind of confidence I was able to muster back then was the “fake it till you make it kind,” which is more false bravado than genuine confidence. Calibrate Is a Verb Don’t let the newbie phase get you down. Everyone has to go through it. Get a newbie training partner if you must, but turn toward that newbie fear, and run straight at it. The fear will soon go away. It’s not a big deal to fail or to get rejected. That’s part of being a newbie. Accept it. You will get better. In order to calibrate your skills, you have to take action. You can’t just sit at home reading or studying training materials. You must go into the field and do field work under real-world conditions. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody’s got plans… until they get hit.” I know so many people who’ve spent months reading about and talking about starting an online business. They still don’t have an online business. But they just keep talking about it and planning it, as if that’s some form of phantom progress. Their calibration is still at zero. They think they’re getting closer to their goal. From my perspective, they haven’t even started yet. They’re just procrastinating. Such people would do much better if they stopped reading and planning and started doing. Nobody earned a black belt from reading about martial arts. Which approach do you think will generate the best results? Reading about a diet for 30 days? Or doing a 30-day trial of that diet? Which will improve your social skills the most? Watching social skills videos for 30 days? Or going out every night for 30 days and starting up conversations with strangers? Which will generate the best blogging results? Reading blogs on blogging for 30 days? Or starting your own blog and posting your own blog entries for 30 days? Which will generate the best physical results? Read about weight training for 30 days? Or hit the gym and do 30 days of weight training? Reading and studying will give you knowledge and information that sits in your mind. That seems like a good thing, but you’ll still have zero results to show for your efforts. You’re actually no closer to your goals. You’re still at the starting line. But if you go out and do the best you can to apply what you know right now, even if your understanding is full of holes, you’ll quickly learn what works under real-world conditions, and you’ll adapt. You’ll make a huge leap forward in your calibration. You’ll also generate some real-world results that may benefit you. Get your nose out of the books and onto the field. Take your licks as they come, and learn from them. Build your skills under real-world conditions, so you can actually apply them to get results. Don’t just read about life. Live it. Reading and learning are awesome, but make sure you’re using these as supplements for in-field experience, not substitutes. If you’re reading about any skill you want to develop, but you aren’t regularly performing in the field yet, you’re just procrastinating. Deep down you already knew that, didn’t you? I’m here to remind you of this, so you can hate me for it and help spread the word about how awful I am.
    Jul 12, 2011 897
  • 12 Jul 2011
    My Facebook Experience I’ve been using Facebook for a few months now. I currently have 1,907 Facebook friends. I’ve been a fairly active user ever since I joined. I get new friend requests, comments, and emails there every day. Overall I’m glad I joined Facebook. It takes extra time to keep up with it, and it can easily become a time sink if you aren’t judicious in how you use it. However, I’ve found it a good way to meet people with compatible interests. I set things up so that whenever I update my Twitter status, it updates my Facebook status automatically. Also, if I make a new blog post, the link is automatically posted to my Twitter and Facebook accounts too. Facebook has an app that anyone can add to their account to do this. To set this up with Twitter, I used Twitterfeed. You only have to set these up once, and after that it’s all completely automated. Nice! There are four primary ways I use Facebook now: Broadcast medium. I use Facebook as a broadcast medium via the auto-updates that appear when I post anything to my blog or my Twitter account. This is fully automated. This brings more readers to my blog posts. It gives people an extra outlet to keep up with my work. Gathering feedback. Facebook is another place where I receive general feedback (via comments posted on my Wall and Facebook email) as well as specific feedback about my Twitter updates and blog updates. Most of this feedback is pretty general (“great post”), but some of it has been helpful. The Facebook feedback is usually short and snappy, so it gives me a quick vibe on people’s reactions to a post. The feedback I get via email and the forums is usually much longer. Making new connections. I’ve met some pretty cool people on Facebook. This includes new friends (people I now keep in touch with regularly) as well as new business contacts. I’ve received a few interview requests and speaking invites via Facebook too. Facebook has been more beneficial as a business tool than Linkedin. My Linkedin account generates mostly spam and inappropriate requests and has been largely useless. Between the two, Facebook wins hands down for business networking. Maintaining existing connections. Some people prefer keeping in touch with me via Facebook instead of using regular email or phones. Some of my existing connections have strengthened with people who happen to be on Facebook. I think this is because my Facebook friends see my updates more frequently (vs. if they just subscribe to my blog feed or newsletter), so they think about me more often as a result. The downside is that I can’t respond to all the feedback I get on Facebook, including the emails people send and the comments they post on my Wall. It’s just too much to keep up with it all. A few times people got upset when I didn’t reply to their questions, but I have to triage. However, I think most people understand that when you have nearly 2K Facebook friends, you can’t be equally responsive to everyone. If people think I can do that, their expectations are totally unrealistic. Another thing I don’t have time for is getting involved with all the Facebook apps. Most of them are way too cutesy for me. I really don’t need people sending me virtual candies and such. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the sentiment behind it — but I just don’t have time for that sort of thing. I almost always decline requests that require me to add new apps to my account. If you want to send me extra love, just hold the intention in your thoughts, and I’ll receive it. No need to send me virtual snacks via Facebook. I also decline all Facebook cause invites. People send me new ones every day. Again, it’s not that I don’t care about the fate of whales or polar bears. It’s just that I don’t have time to get involved in five new causes every day. I have to be more focused than that. Spam hasn’t been a big problem for me on Facebook. When people start spamming me with too much junk (some Internet marketers have done this), I just unfriend them. Problem solved. If you spam me, I can guarantee you won’t be my friend for long. If you send me a message that says, “I know this looks like spam, but…” you’ll be unfriended before I read the rest of your message. I have zero tolerance for anything that looks like spam. I normally accept all initial friend requests. The limit is currently 5,000 friends, so my account still has room for about 3K more friends. I thought about creating a separate fan page, but for now that seems unnecessary, and I don’t see what it would accomplish. Maybe if I hit the friend limit, I can consider it. There is a lot of stuff in Facebook that is awfully cutesy and which seems totally pointless to me, so I simply ignore that stuff. When I stick with my core reason for using Facebook, which is to cultivate new compatible connections, it does fulfill that purpose quite well. Many people find me on Facebook because they see I’m friends with one of their friends. This has a rippling effect of expanding my Facebook network in interesting directions. For example, I frequently get new friend requests from other raw foodists because I’m friends with lots of other raw foodists there. Twitter I’ve been using Twitter a bit longer than Facebook. I currently have 2,409 followers there, and I’ve posted 479 updates. On average I gain roughly one new Twitter follower per hour. One thing that helped boost my follower join rate was adding my Twitter page to my signature in our discussion forums. If you regularly participate in any online forums, I highly recommend you do the same. Your signature links will appear on every post you’ve ever made (assuming the forum software is decent). People who find your old forum posts (such as via search engines) may start following you on Twitter if they like what you posted. This way your old posts are working for you. Be sure to also link your forum signature to your Facebook page if you want more Facebook friends. Overall I like Twitter. I wish I adopted it earlier, since I’d have a lot more followers by now. Many bloggers who started using Twitter earlier have way more followers than I do. Using Twitter doesn’t require much time at all if you’re disciplined, especially since my blog posts are automatically announced there. I have it set to announce Erin’s blog posts to my Twitter account as well. If I get a quick thought I want to share, it takes 30-60 seconds to post it on Twitter. I use Twitter mainly as a broadcast medium. I don’t reply to all the questions and comments people send me there — that wouldn’t be a good use of my time. As with Facebook, a few people get upset when I don’t reply to them. I do reply to some people there, but replying to everyone who contacts me there is totally unrealistic. People often send me cool links via Twitter, and I’ll occasionally re-tweet them or share them in our forums. Earlier today I shared a link to a heart-warming Youtube video (16:23) that someone sent me via Twitter this morning. If I get too busy, I don’t even look at the links people send me. I can’t keep up with all the links people email me either. If you send me a link, the odds are less than 50-50 that I’ll even look at it. Even on Twitter I get a lot of people asking me to help them with certain causes. I appreciate the seriousness of some of these requests, but it’s just too much for me to get involved with this sort of thing. I do what I can now and then, but I can’t get behind every cause that crosses my plate. While I don’t do a lot of out-linking from my blog posts — I feel it would add way too much clutter to the archives if I did — I often share cool links via Twitter. Those links may not be seen by as many people, but I think it’s a good compromise. I prefer to use my blog for sharing original content. If I want to pass on a link or share something timely, Twitter works well for that. One of my favorite things to do on Twitter is to share interesting, inspiring, and/or challenging quotes. Sometimes I’ll tweet a famous quote I come across. Other times I’ll post a sentence or two from my book or my blog that I think people will find stimulating. I get some cool feedback on these quotes, so I think people like them. Again, all of these tweets are automatically posted to my Facebook account too. Online Socializing The downside of adding Facebook and Twitter to my life is that it increased the flow of new connections coming into my life. At first this was great, but soon I started feeling over-socialized. I was forming more new connections than I could sustainably manage. Adding these new contacts is easy. Maintaining ongoing relationships with all of them is impossible. In lieu of spending even more time answering emails and such, my most practical option was to raise my standards for the type of online socializing I would do. Otherwise I could spend all day on this stuff and never get any real work done. Consequently, I’ve become much pickier about which connections and conversations I’ll get involved with personally vs. keeping my distance. This applies to my regular email as well as to forum discussions, Facebook feedback and emails, and Twitter responses. This wasn’t easy to do. There were many people I felt deserved a response, so I constantly have to remind myself not to follow up on anything that doesn’t pass my pre-qual tests. I don’t always succeed, but I’m gradually getting better. I admit I feel a bit guilty about all the stuff I have to let slide. But I can’t justify spending all day answering one-on-one feedback when I have more impactful things to do. Even though I’ve added Twitter and Facebook to my life, I’m actually doing less online socializing than I used to. The reason is that the extra incoming communication made me more aware that it isn’t a good use of my time to over-socialize online. I quickly realized that in order to stay productive, I had to be more selective than ever. Consequently, I’ve been letting some online-only friendships fall by the wayside if the compatibility connection just isn’t there. I’m letting a lot of emails go unanswered these days. In fact, many of them are now going unread. I used to read every email I received, but no longer. If people send me lengthy emails about their life stories and how my work has helped them, I used to love reading that stuff, but I can’t justify spending time on that anymore. It steals too much attention from other things. It’s unfortunate that some people will spend hours writing these long messages that will go unread. I’m grateful for the intent behind them, but I must be more careful in how I use my time. If I take the time to read those emails, I have to do less of something else. Incidentally, if you’re considering sending me a long email in the near future, please don’t. I probably won’t have time to read it. I do appreciate the intent, however. A big problem with online socializing is that it can become a crutch that crowds out face-to-face connections. I’d rather meet new people face-to-face as opposed to sitting in front of my computer typing emails. So I’m intentionally withdrawing from a lot of online socializing in order to free up more time for face-to-face interaction. I’m dropping the quantity, so I can raise the quality. Ironically, the net benefit of adding Facebook and Twitter to my life is that they caused me to back off from online socializing and to become much more selective with socializing in general. The upside is that these services help me cast a wide net, so I have new potential connections coming into my life every day. Then I sift through the contents of that net with a pair of tweezers. I look for strong compatibilities, and when I find them, I follow up to see if there’s the potential for a deeper connection to be made. Sometimes this results in new friendships or business contacts, and other times it just fizzles. Dealing with Rejection — When You’re the Rejecter What I dislike most is that this approach requires me to “reject” more people than ever, usually by ignoring them or blowing them off. I still feel a bit guilty about this. But obviously this isn’t going away if I’m going to keep doing what I do. It will very likely continue to get worse. Still, there’s an ongoing incongruity between my feelings and my reality that I haven’t yet resolved, and I dislike that very much. For years now I’ve been receiving more feedback than I can possibly respond to. And now I’ve ramped that up to an even greater level. Now I can’t even read it all. Logically I know that it’s unrealistic for me or anyone else to expect I can personally follow up with everyone who contacts me. So why do I still feel like everyone deserves a personal response? Why do I feel like I should do my best to maintain every online relationship I have, even though that’s totally impractical these days? It feels rude to ignore people who take the time to keep in touch with me, especially those who genuinely want to connect or who offer encouragement and support. I think it’s very nice that such people take the time to email me. So how can I respond by ignoring them? Something is messed up with my beliefs here. I’m looking at this situation from a disempowering perspective. I can see the truth logically, but I’m not feeling it emotionally. My heart just isn’t onboard with my brain’s solution. Some part of me is resisting the idea that possibly for the rest of my life, I’m always going to have to blow off people who reach out to connect with me. This includes saying no most of the time to people who ask for help (and need it). When I switched to a 100% raw vegan diet this year, something strange happened to me energetically. There are lots of ways to describe it, but one way to explain it is that I used to have an imbalance where my power chakra was a lot more energetic than my heart and third-eye chakras. This year that imbalance has totally flip-flopped. In plain English, this means that my emotions and intuition keep bringing problems to my attention that at present, I lack the ability to solve in a way I feel good about. So I have a lot of motivation and drive to do certain things that I’m simply not able to do to my satisfaction. My solutions often make me feel worse than the problems they’re intended to solve. This new imbalance has been causing me problems for several months now. On multiple occasions, I’ve acted on some of these heart-centered impulses, but the results weren’t so good. I’ve gone out of my way to help people in a few situations, but the results left me feeling empty and disappointed. This relates to some offline problems I’ve been tackling lately, i.e. stuff I’d never blog about due to the importance of protecting people’s privacy. This Facebook/Twitter expansion seems like it might be another manifestation of this imbalance. Originally I felt motivated to join these services as a way to reach out and connect with more people. It certainly had that effect. But the side effect is that I now must reject more people than ever, which is the opposite of what I wanted. So yeah, you could say it’s a solution of a sort, but it’s not a solution that makes me feel totally good. Ultimately in order to resolve these issues, I need to correct the energetic imbalances I’m experiencing. That may take some time though. It’s like whenever I take some kind of action now, I can feel the rippling consequences of it so deeply that I end up focusing too much on the negative side and not enough on the positive. It’s like my emotions and intuitive abilities have become over-energized and don’t know when to shut up. On the many occasions when I have to blow people off, I wish they wouldn’t think their disappointment so loudly… cuz I can hear it, you know. It’s like constantly having one of those Obi Wan moments after Alderaan got Death Starred.
    699 Posted by UniqueThis
  • My Facebook Experience I’ve been using Facebook for a few months now. I currently have 1,907 Facebook friends. I’ve been a fairly active user ever since I joined. I get new friend requests, comments, and emails there every day. Overall I’m glad I joined Facebook. It takes extra time to keep up with it, and it can easily become a time sink if you aren’t judicious in how you use it. However, I’ve found it a good way to meet people with compatible interests. I set things up so that whenever I update my Twitter status, it updates my Facebook status automatically. Also, if I make a new blog post, the link is automatically posted to my Twitter and Facebook accounts too. Facebook has an app that anyone can add to their account to do this. To set this up with Twitter, I used Twitterfeed. You only have to set these up once, and after that it’s all completely automated. Nice! There are four primary ways I use Facebook now: Broadcast medium. I use Facebook as a broadcast medium via the auto-updates that appear when I post anything to my blog or my Twitter account. This is fully automated. This brings more readers to my blog posts. It gives people an extra outlet to keep up with my work. Gathering feedback. Facebook is another place where I receive general feedback (via comments posted on my Wall and Facebook email) as well as specific feedback about my Twitter updates and blog updates. Most of this feedback is pretty general (“great post”), but some of it has been helpful. The Facebook feedback is usually short and snappy, so it gives me a quick vibe on people’s reactions to a post. The feedback I get via email and the forums is usually much longer. Making new connections. I’ve met some pretty cool people on Facebook. This includes new friends (people I now keep in touch with regularly) as well as new business contacts. I’ve received a few interview requests and speaking invites via Facebook too. Facebook has been more beneficial as a business tool than Linkedin. My Linkedin account generates mostly spam and inappropriate requests and has been largely useless. Between the two, Facebook wins hands down for business networking. Maintaining existing connections. Some people prefer keeping in touch with me via Facebook instead of using regular email or phones. Some of my existing connections have strengthened with people who happen to be on Facebook. I think this is because my Facebook friends see my updates more frequently (vs. if they just subscribe to my blog feed or newsletter), so they think about me more often as a result. The downside is that I can’t respond to all the feedback I get on Facebook, including the emails people send and the comments they post on my Wall. It’s just too much to keep up with it all. A few times people got upset when I didn’t reply to their questions, but I have to triage. However, I think most people understand that when you have nearly 2K Facebook friends, you can’t be equally responsive to everyone. If people think I can do that, their expectations are totally unrealistic. Another thing I don’t have time for is getting involved with all the Facebook apps. Most of them are way too cutesy for me. I really don’t need people sending me virtual candies and such. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate the sentiment behind it — but I just don’t have time for that sort of thing. I almost always decline requests that require me to add new apps to my account. If you want to send me extra love, just hold the intention in your thoughts, and I’ll receive it. No need to send me virtual snacks via Facebook. I also decline all Facebook cause invites. People send me new ones every day. Again, it’s not that I don’t care about the fate of whales or polar bears. It’s just that I don’t have time to get involved in five new causes every day. I have to be more focused than that. Spam hasn’t been a big problem for me on Facebook. When people start spamming me with too much junk (some Internet marketers have done this), I just unfriend them. Problem solved. If you spam me, I can guarantee you won’t be my friend for long. If you send me a message that says, “I know this looks like spam, but…” you’ll be unfriended before I read the rest of your message. I have zero tolerance for anything that looks like spam. I normally accept all initial friend requests. The limit is currently 5,000 friends, so my account still has room for about 3K more friends. I thought about creating a separate fan page, but for now that seems unnecessary, and I don’t see what it would accomplish. Maybe if I hit the friend limit, I can consider it. There is a lot of stuff in Facebook that is awfully cutesy and which seems totally pointless to me, so I simply ignore that stuff. When I stick with my core reason for using Facebook, which is to cultivate new compatible connections, it does fulfill that purpose quite well. Many people find me on Facebook because they see I’m friends with one of their friends. This has a rippling effect of expanding my Facebook network in interesting directions. For example, I frequently get new friend requests from other raw foodists because I’m friends with lots of other raw foodists there. Twitter I’ve been using Twitter a bit longer than Facebook. I currently have 2,409 followers there, and I’ve posted 479 updates. On average I gain roughly one new Twitter follower per hour. One thing that helped boost my follower join rate was adding my Twitter page to my signature in our discussion forums. If you regularly participate in any online forums, I highly recommend you do the same. Your signature links will appear on every post you’ve ever made (assuming the forum software is decent). People who find your old forum posts (such as via search engines) may start following you on Twitter if they like what you posted. This way your old posts are working for you. Be sure to also link your forum signature to your Facebook page if you want more Facebook friends. Overall I like Twitter. I wish I adopted it earlier, since I’d have a lot more followers by now. Many bloggers who started using Twitter earlier have way more followers than I do. Using Twitter doesn’t require much time at all if you’re disciplined, especially since my blog posts are automatically announced there. I have it set to announce Erin’s blog posts to my Twitter account as well. If I get a quick thought I want to share, it takes 30-60 seconds to post it on Twitter. I use Twitter mainly as a broadcast medium. I don’t reply to all the questions and comments people send me there — that wouldn’t be a good use of my time. As with Facebook, a few people get upset when I don’t reply to them. I do reply to some people there, but replying to everyone who contacts me there is totally unrealistic. People often send me cool links via Twitter, and I’ll occasionally re-tweet them or share them in our forums. Earlier today I shared a link to a heart-warming Youtube video (16:23) that someone sent me via Twitter this morning. If I get too busy, I don’t even look at the links people send me. I can’t keep up with all the links people email me either. If you send me a link, the odds are less than 50-50 that I’ll even look at it. Even on Twitter I get a lot of people asking me to help them with certain causes. I appreciate the seriousness of some of these requests, but it’s just too much for me to get involved with this sort of thing. I do what I can now and then, but I can’t get behind every cause that crosses my plate. While I don’t do a lot of out-linking from my blog posts — I feel it would add way too much clutter to the archives if I did — I often share cool links via Twitter. Those links may not be seen by as many people, but I think it’s a good compromise. I prefer to use my blog for sharing original content. If I want to pass on a link or share something timely, Twitter works well for that. One of my favorite things to do on Twitter is to share interesting, inspiring, and/or challenging quotes. Sometimes I’ll tweet a famous quote I come across. Other times I’ll post a sentence or two from my book or my blog that I think people will find stimulating. I get some cool feedback on these quotes, so I think people like them. Again, all of these tweets are automatically posted to my Facebook account too. Online Socializing The downside of adding Facebook and Twitter to my life is that it increased the flow of new connections coming into my life. At first this was great, but soon I started feeling over-socialized. I was forming more new connections than I could sustainably manage. Adding these new contacts is easy. Maintaining ongoing relationships with all of them is impossible. In lieu of spending even more time answering emails and such, my most practical option was to raise my standards for the type of online socializing I would do. Otherwise I could spend all day on this stuff and never get any real work done. Consequently, I’ve become much pickier about which connections and conversations I’ll get involved with personally vs. keeping my distance. This applies to my regular email as well as to forum discussions, Facebook feedback and emails, and Twitter responses. This wasn’t easy to do. There were many people I felt deserved a response, so I constantly have to remind myself not to follow up on anything that doesn’t pass my pre-qual tests. I don’t always succeed, but I’m gradually getting better. I admit I feel a bit guilty about all the stuff I have to let slide. But I can’t justify spending all day answering one-on-one feedback when I have more impactful things to do. Even though I’ve added Twitter and Facebook to my life, I’m actually doing less online socializing than I used to. The reason is that the extra incoming communication made me more aware that it isn’t a good use of my time to over-socialize online. I quickly realized that in order to stay productive, I had to be more selective than ever. Consequently, I’ve been letting some online-only friendships fall by the wayside if the compatibility connection just isn’t there. I’m letting a lot of emails go unanswered these days. In fact, many of them are now going unread. I used to read every email I received, but no longer. If people send me lengthy emails about their life stories and how my work has helped them, I used to love reading that stuff, but I can’t justify spending time on that anymore. It steals too much attention from other things. It’s unfortunate that some people will spend hours writing these long messages that will go unread. I’m grateful for the intent behind them, but I must be more careful in how I use my time. If I take the time to read those emails, I have to do less of something else. Incidentally, if you’re considering sending me a long email in the near future, please don’t. I probably won’t have time to read it. I do appreciate the intent, however. A big problem with online socializing is that it can become a crutch that crowds out face-to-face connections. I’d rather meet new people face-to-face as opposed to sitting in front of my computer typing emails. So I’m intentionally withdrawing from a lot of online socializing in order to free up more time for face-to-face interaction. I’m dropping the quantity, so I can raise the quality. Ironically, the net benefit of adding Facebook and Twitter to my life is that they caused me to back off from online socializing and to become much more selective with socializing in general. The upside is that these services help me cast a wide net, so I have new potential connections coming into my life every day. Then I sift through the contents of that net with a pair of tweezers. I look for strong compatibilities, and when I find them, I follow up to see if there’s the potential for a deeper connection to be made. Sometimes this results in new friendships or business contacts, and other times it just fizzles. Dealing with Rejection — When You’re the Rejecter What I dislike most is that this approach requires me to “reject” more people than ever, usually by ignoring them or blowing them off. I still feel a bit guilty about this. But obviously this isn’t going away if I’m going to keep doing what I do. It will very likely continue to get worse. Still, there’s an ongoing incongruity between my feelings and my reality that I haven’t yet resolved, and I dislike that very much. For years now I’ve been receiving more feedback than I can possibly respond to. And now I’ve ramped that up to an even greater level. Now I can’t even read it all. Logically I know that it’s unrealistic for me or anyone else to expect I can personally follow up with everyone who contacts me. So why do I still feel like everyone deserves a personal response? Why do I feel like I should do my best to maintain every online relationship I have, even though that’s totally impractical these days? It feels rude to ignore people who take the time to keep in touch with me, especially those who genuinely want to connect or who offer encouragement and support. I think it’s very nice that such people take the time to email me. So how can I respond by ignoring them? Something is messed up with my beliefs here. I’m looking at this situation from a disempowering perspective. I can see the truth logically, but I’m not feeling it emotionally. My heart just isn’t onboard with my brain’s solution. Some part of me is resisting the idea that possibly for the rest of my life, I’m always going to have to blow off people who reach out to connect with me. This includes saying no most of the time to people who ask for help (and need it). When I switched to a 100% raw vegan diet this year, something strange happened to me energetically. There are lots of ways to describe it, but one way to explain it is that I used to have an imbalance where my power chakra was a lot more energetic than my heart and third-eye chakras. This year that imbalance has totally flip-flopped. In plain English, this means that my emotions and intuition keep bringing problems to my attention that at present, I lack the ability to solve in a way I feel good about. So I have a lot of motivation and drive to do certain things that I’m simply not able to do to my satisfaction. My solutions often make me feel worse than the problems they’re intended to solve. This new imbalance has been causing me problems for several months now. On multiple occasions, I’ve acted on some of these heart-centered impulses, but the results weren’t so good. I’ve gone out of my way to help people in a few situations, but the results left me feeling empty and disappointed. This relates to some offline problems I’ve been tackling lately, i.e. stuff I’d never blog about due to the importance of protecting people’s privacy. This Facebook/Twitter expansion seems like it might be another manifestation of this imbalance. Originally I felt motivated to join these services as a way to reach out and connect with more people. It certainly had that effect. But the side effect is that I now must reject more people than ever, which is the opposite of what I wanted. So yeah, you could say it’s a solution of a sort, but it’s not a solution that makes me feel totally good. Ultimately in order to resolve these issues, I need to correct the energetic imbalances I’m experiencing. That may take some time though. It’s like whenever I take some kind of action now, I can feel the rippling consequences of it so deeply that I end up focusing too much on the negative side and not enough on the positive. It’s like my emotions and intuitive abilities have become over-energized and don’t know when to shut up. On the many occasions when I have to blow people off, I wish they wouldn’t think their disappointment so loudly… cuz I can hear it, you know. It’s like constantly having one of those Obi Wan moments after Alderaan got Death Starred.
    Jul 12, 2011 699
  • 12 Jul 2011
    When we want to build a new skill or just increase our comfort level with a new activity, the frequency of the activity is a key factor to consider. Squeezing the same experiences into a shorter period of time can greatly increase your performance gains. A Personal Example During my first few years of blogging, I’d typically do one or two interviews per month. Sometimes a couple months would go by with no interviews at all. With this level of frequency, I reached a certain level of comfort and competence and pretty much stayed there. But after my book came out, I started doing 30-60 minute interviews a few times a week, sometimes as often as three times a day. I noticed improvements every week, and my skills picked up fast. I’ve gotten so comfortable doing radio and podcast interviews that I feel like it would be easy to progress to TV. If Oprah called, it wouldn’t seem like such a big deal at this point. It would just feel like more of the same. It should be obvious that by doing more interviews, I’m improving my calibration in this skill set. There are lots of subtle adjustments to make, such as being able to feel the difference in flow between a 30-minute interview and a 60-minute one, knowing how podcasters differ from experienced radio DJs, determining when it’s best to deliver quick sound bites vs. longer replies, adapting answers and examples for the target audience (students, teens, spiritual seekers, etc), and so on. Now what if I did the exact same interviews, but I spread them out over a few years instead of doing them all in several weeks? Would I reach the same level of performance and comfort, just over a long time period? No, certainly not. Another expectation is that if I were to take a year off from doing interviews, I could probably get back up to speed very quickly because I’d retain most of the gains from my current calibration. Full-Assed Is Better Than Half-Assed If you want to learn a new skill, it can take you much longer to get good if you learn the skill too slowly and gradually. You may also reach a greater level of skill overall if you condense your learning into a shorter period of time, even if you end up investing the same amount of total time you’d have invested by spreading it out more. Obviously you can still err on the side of going too dense, but for most people the lack of frequency is the more common problem. One of my friends wanted to improve his speaking skills. He joined six Toastmasters clubs — that’s a lot! — and attended meetings almost daily. He had the opportunity to do lots and lots of speaking. Toastmasters obviously became a huge part of his life — he even joked that it is his life. Let me tell you… he got really good at public speaking in a fairly short period of time, racing beyond people who’ve been in Toastmasters for decades but who stuck with one or two clubs and didn’t push themselves as hard. By making a short-term sacrifice, this guy took his speaking skills to a whole new level. This calibration will benefit him for the rest of his life. Even if he takes time off from speaking, he’ll be able to pick it up again rather quickly. He’ll only need to refresh the old patterns he’s internalized. When I was going through college in three semesters, I learned how much more efficient it is to go full-assed vs. half-assed. Most students spread their studies out over four years or more. This may be common, but it’s also very inefficient. Common and inefficient are practically synonyms. By condensing my college experience into only three semesters, I not only graduated quickly, but I also spent significantly less time on my studies compared to other students. Within the first few weeks of school, I calibrated to a high level of performance and learning, and I was able to maintain that level thereafter. Most students never calibrated themselves for high performance, so it took them a lot longer to learn the material and complete assignments. The funny thing is that this wasn’t my first college experience. The first time I tried going to college, I mostly partied, messed around, got drunk, did tons of shoplifting, and ditched my classes. I was eventually expelled. Earlier this week I was doing an interview for a college radio station. When I shared these stories, the interviewer noted that I separated the typical college experience in two equal halves. First, I got all the partying and socializing done. Then I did the academic portion. I laughed because I’d never heard anyone describe it like that. That’s a pretty accurate insight though. Despite my unusual college experiences, it was actually an awesome trade-off. I made major gains in my social skills and courage during the party and shoplifting time. And I made huge improvements in my self-discipline and time management skills during the academic portion. I think the overall results would have been much worse if I tried to achieve balance between academics and a social life. Balance Balance is a good thing to have over the span of a lifetime. But within a shorter time span, even during a period of a year or two, over-balancing your life will only decrease your effectiveness because it will dilute your focus. I like to think of life in an episodic manner. I don’t try to pile everything into each day. I can’t even deal with everything that interests me during a single month. If you were to look at a typical week from my life, it would appear to be totally unbalanced. For example, you might see me working like crazy on an interesting project or hobby and ignoring virtually everything else. My kids would barely see me. I’m in office hermit mode. But another week I could totally switch gears. Now maybe I don’t want to work at all. Perhaps we go on a family trip, and I spend day after day with Erin and the kids doing fun stuff. This week I’ve been doing several months’ worth of accounting work for my business. I prefer to do my accounting in a few sessions per year instead of doing a little each week or month. If I do it a little at a time, it just steals my attention from other things. I do a better job with the marathon sessions. Some people would say this is procrastination. To me it’s intelligent batching. In the short term, I largely ignore balance. It’s meaningless. But in the long term, I consider how to balance my focus between a variety of different interests. A month here. A year here. This way I still enjoy a sense of balance at the big picture level. I pay attention to all the important parts of my life. Everything gets handled. But within the span of any given week, my focus is usually pretty tight. Most weeks I have a theme or major focus for what I want to get done. Everything else gets blown off until later… or never. Even during the span of a year, I tend to pick just one or two areas of my life in which to focus the bulk of my growth efforts. This year my major focus was on improving my diet and health. I knew that if I could become a raw foodist this year, even if it took a lot of effort to push through the learning curve and initial resistance, it would be worth it. This was the most important goal I accomplished this year… even more important to me than the release of my book. I’m so glad I did it. I doubt I would have achieved this goal if I didn’t focus so much attention on it in a relatively short period of time. I’ll have a different primary focus for 2009. Most likely it will have to do with social dynamics and relationships. This is an area that’s been fascinating me lately. Other parts of my life, such as my diet, will simply go into maintenance mode next year. Focus It’s a mistake to try to balance your day with a small slice of everything that matters to you. It spreads your focus too thin. It dilutes your learning process. It promotes stagnation. It’s better to pick a strong focus for a certain period of time, set a breakthrough goal in that area, and then push hard until you lock in to a higher-level calibration. Stephen Covey wrote that it’s better to focus on the rhythm of the week instead of the rhythm of the day. In other words, attend to your various roles and goals over the course of a week, but don’t worry about packing everything into every day. That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still too unfocused. Well… it’s okay for baby-sized goals, but it’s no good for going after the big stuff. It will slow you down with unnecessary baggage. If you want to make faster progress, you need to lighten your load by letting some things slide for a while. Not every aspect of your life needs your attention every week. For working on significant goals, the rhythm of a month, quarter, or even a year is better for making meaningful progress. When I want to learn something new, I try to immerse myself in it as much as possible. I’ll buy 5-10 books on the subject and read them back to back. I’ll contact several experts and learn from them. I’ll dive in with action and do some kind of 30-day trial. This is a great way to learn. It keeps your enthusiasm up because you can enjoy rapid progress through the beginner phase. You get to the intermediate level quickly, where you can finally start applying what you’ve learned. Big goals often require tons of learning. A good example would be starting a new business. If you try to pick away at that goal a few hours a week, you may never get it done. It’s better to put the rest of your life on hold and just go at it like a madman for a while. You don’t have to push through from beginning to end on the first try. You can push ahead in focused phases. For example, if you want to start an online business, your first phase might be to educate yourself. Then you can take a few weeks off to focus on a different part of your life — or just relax. Your next phase might be to build your website and get it launched. Managing Your Attention Know your primary focus at any given time. Give that part of your life the bulk of your attention. Let the other areas slide a bit… not so much that they crumble, but enough that you can free up extra time to devote to your primary pursuit. If you divide your attention between too many things at once, your productivity and enjoyment suffer across the board. But if you can focus your attention on just one thing at a time and go all-out with it, just temporarily, you can make major strides. You’ll achieve great long-term balance, even though things may look incredibly unbalanced on a day-to-day basis. Not having a job obviously makes this approach easier to fully implement. I love the freedom of working 60 hours on a business project one week, and the next week I might devote that many hours to studying a new subject of interest, such as when I was learning to play chess earlier this year. A job with regular hours would kill my efficiency. It would seem like a constant interruption in whatever I wanted to be doing. If you do have a job, have you ever felt like you could get two weeks worth of work done in a single week if you made an all-out effort? Could you be twice as productive as you normally are, just for one week? What if you could work every other week and earn the same amount of income? One week you would work flat out — no distractions, no socializing, no idleness, long hours, minimal family life. And the next week you could attend to your personal life. Do fun stuff, socialize, be with your family — but give your personal life your full attention. What if you love playing computer games? Instead of having them be a constant distraction in your days, set aside a period of a few days or weeks to all-out indulge in this hobby. Afterwards you can drop all game-playing and move on to something else. I’ve done this a number of times (not recently), and it’s a lot of fun. One summer (1991 I think), I took two months to play Ultimas I-VI back to back. It was a lot of fun. By going through the games back-to-back, it was faster, less boring, and not as frustrating as it might have been if I played them over a longer period of time. I didn’t feel guilty playing games so much because I knew it was a temporary experience, like a vacation. Eventually my focus would shift to getting real work done, and of course it did. If you want to work, then work. If you want to play, then play. But whatever you decide to do, commit yourself to it without holding back. Be aware that your commitment is temporary. It will eventually end. You’ll have the opportunity to shift your focus to something else. Do you think this approach would make your life more or less balanced? The only way to know whether this works for you is to try it for a while and find out. If you’ve been living such that every day is virtually the same, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try working flat out for 12 or more hours one day. Then take the next day off completely to do something you love — guilt-free. It’s a fun (and productive) way to live.
    715 Posted by UniqueThis
  • When we want to build a new skill or just increase our comfort level with a new activity, the frequency of the activity is a key factor to consider. Squeezing the same experiences into a shorter period of time can greatly increase your performance gains. A Personal Example During my first few years of blogging, I’d typically do one or two interviews per month. Sometimes a couple months would go by with no interviews at all. With this level of frequency, I reached a certain level of comfort and competence and pretty much stayed there. But after my book came out, I started doing 30-60 minute interviews a few times a week, sometimes as often as three times a day. I noticed improvements every week, and my skills picked up fast. I’ve gotten so comfortable doing radio and podcast interviews that I feel like it would be easy to progress to TV. If Oprah called, it wouldn’t seem like such a big deal at this point. It would just feel like more of the same. It should be obvious that by doing more interviews, I’m improving my calibration in this skill set. There are lots of subtle adjustments to make, such as being able to feel the difference in flow between a 30-minute interview and a 60-minute one, knowing how podcasters differ from experienced radio DJs, determining when it’s best to deliver quick sound bites vs. longer replies, adapting answers and examples for the target audience (students, teens, spiritual seekers, etc), and so on. Now what if I did the exact same interviews, but I spread them out over a few years instead of doing them all in several weeks? Would I reach the same level of performance and comfort, just over a long time period? No, certainly not. Another expectation is that if I were to take a year off from doing interviews, I could probably get back up to speed very quickly because I’d retain most of the gains from my current calibration. Full-Assed Is Better Than Half-Assed If you want to learn a new skill, it can take you much longer to get good if you learn the skill too slowly and gradually. You may also reach a greater level of skill overall if you condense your learning into a shorter period of time, even if you end up investing the same amount of total time you’d have invested by spreading it out more. Obviously you can still err on the side of going too dense, but for most people the lack of frequency is the more common problem. One of my friends wanted to improve his speaking skills. He joined six Toastmasters clubs — that’s a lot! — and attended meetings almost daily. He had the opportunity to do lots and lots of speaking. Toastmasters obviously became a huge part of his life — he even joked that it is his life. Let me tell you… he got really good at public speaking in a fairly short period of time, racing beyond people who’ve been in Toastmasters for decades but who stuck with one or two clubs and didn’t push themselves as hard. By making a short-term sacrifice, this guy took his speaking skills to a whole new level. This calibration will benefit him for the rest of his life. Even if he takes time off from speaking, he’ll be able to pick it up again rather quickly. He’ll only need to refresh the old patterns he’s internalized. When I was going through college in three semesters, I learned how much more efficient it is to go full-assed vs. half-assed. Most students spread their studies out over four years or more. This may be common, but it’s also very inefficient. Common and inefficient are practically synonyms. By condensing my college experience into only three semesters, I not only graduated quickly, but I also spent significantly less time on my studies compared to other students. Within the first few weeks of school, I calibrated to a high level of performance and learning, and I was able to maintain that level thereafter. Most students never calibrated themselves for high performance, so it took them a lot longer to learn the material and complete assignments. The funny thing is that this wasn’t my first college experience. The first time I tried going to college, I mostly partied, messed around, got drunk, did tons of shoplifting, and ditched my classes. I was eventually expelled. Earlier this week I was doing an interview for a college radio station. When I shared these stories, the interviewer noted that I separated the typical college experience in two equal halves. First, I got all the partying and socializing done. Then I did the academic portion. I laughed because I’d never heard anyone describe it like that. That’s a pretty accurate insight though. Despite my unusual college experiences, it was actually an awesome trade-off. I made major gains in my social skills and courage during the party and shoplifting time. And I made huge improvements in my self-discipline and time management skills during the academic portion. I think the overall results would have been much worse if I tried to achieve balance between academics and a social life. Balance Balance is a good thing to have over the span of a lifetime. But within a shorter time span, even during a period of a year or two, over-balancing your life will only decrease your effectiveness because it will dilute your focus. I like to think of life in an episodic manner. I don’t try to pile everything into each day. I can’t even deal with everything that interests me during a single month. If you were to look at a typical week from my life, it would appear to be totally unbalanced. For example, you might see me working like crazy on an interesting project or hobby and ignoring virtually everything else. My kids would barely see me. I’m in office hermit mode. But another week I could totally switch gears. Now maybe I don’t want to work at all. Perhaps we go on a family trip, and I spend day after day with Erin and the kids doing fun stuff. This week I’ve been doing several months’ worth of accounting work for my business. I prefer to do my accounting in a few sessions per year instead of doing a little each week or month. If I do it a little at a time, it just steals my attention from other things. I do a better job with the marathon sessions. Some people would say this is procrastination. To me it’s intelligent batching. In the short term, I largely ignore balance. It’s meaningless. But in the long term, I consider how to balance my focus between a variety of different interests. A month here. A year here. This way I still enjoy a sense of balance at the big picture level. I pay attention to all the important parts of my life. Everything gets handled. But within the span of any given week, my focus is usually pretty tight. Most weeks I have a theme or major focus for what I want to get done. Everything else gets blown off until later… or never. Even during the span of a year, I tend to pick just one or two areas of my life in which to focus the bulk of my growth efforts. This year my major focus was on improving my diet and health. I knew that if I could become a raw foodist this year, even if it took a lot of effort to push through the learning curve and initial resistance, it would be worth it. This was the most important goal I accomplished this year… even more important to me than the release of my book. I’m so glad I did it. I doubt I would have achieved this goal if I didn’t focus so much attention on it in a relatively short period of time. I’ll have a different primary focus for 2009. Most likely it will have to do with social dynamics and relationships. This is an area that’s been fascinating me lately. Other parts of my life, such as my diet, will simply go into maintenance mode next year. Focus It’s a mistake to try to balance your day with a small slice of everything that matters to you. It spreads your focus too thin. It dilutes your learning process. It promotes stagnation. It’s better to pick a strong focus for a certain period of time, set a breakthrough goal in that area, and then push hard until you lock in to a higher-level calibration. Stephen Covey wrote that it’s better to focus on the rhythm of the week instead of the rhythm of the day. In other words, attend to your various roles and goals over the course of a week, but don’t worry about packing everything into every day. That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still too unfocused. Well… it’s okay for baby-sized goals, but it’s no good for going after the big stuff. It will slow you down with unnecessary baggage. If you want to make faster progress, you need to lighten your load by letting some things slide for a while. Not every aspect of your life needs your attention every week. For working on significant goals, the rhythm of a month, quarter, or even a year is better for making meaningful progress. When I want to learn something new, I try to immerse myself in it as much as possible. I’ll buy 5-10 books on the subject and read them back to back. I’ll contact several experts and learn from them. I’ll dive in with action and do some kind of 30-day trial. This is a great way to learn. It keeps your enthusiasm up because you can enjoy rapid progress through the beginner phase. You get to the intermediate level quickly, where you can finally start applying what you’ve learned. Big goals often require tons of learning. A good example would be starting a new business. If you try to pick away at that goal a few hours a week, you may never get it done. It’s better to put the rest of your life on hold and just go at it like a madman for a while. You don’t have to push through from beginning to end on the first try. You can push ahead in focused phases. For example, if you want to start an online business, your first phase might be to educate yourself. Then you can take a few weeks off to focus on a different part of your life — or just relax. Your next phase might be to build your website and get it launched. Managing Your Attention Know your primary focus at any given time. Give that part of your life the bulk of your attention. Let the other areas slide a bit… not so much that they crumble, but enough that you can free up extra time to devote to your primary pursuit. If you divide your attention between too many things at once, your productivity and enjoyment suffer across the board. But if you can focus your attention on just one thing at a time and go all-out with it, just temporarily, you can make major strides. You’ll achieve great long-term balance, even though things may look incredibly unbalanced on a day-to-day basis. Not having a job obviously makes this approach easier to fully implement. I love the freedom of working 60 hours on a business project one week, and the next week I might devote that many hours to studying a new subject of interest, such as when I was learning to play chess earlier this year. A job with regular hours would kill my efficiency. It would seem like a constant interruption in whatever I wanted to be doing. If you do have a job, have you ever felt like you could get two weeks worth of work done in a single week if you made an all-out effort? Could you be twice as productive as you normally are, just for one week? What if you could work every other week and earn the same amount of income? One week you would work flat out — no distractions, no socializing, no idleness, long hours, minimal family life. And the next week you could attend to your personal life. Do fun stuff, socialize, be with your family — but give your personal life your full attention. What if you love playing computer games? Instead of having them be a constant distraction in your days, set aside a period of a few days or weeks to all-out indulge in this hobby. Afterwards you can drop all game-playing and move on to something else. I’ve done this a number of times (not recently), and it’s a lot of fun. One summer (1991 I think), I took two months to play Ultimas I-VI back to back. It was a lot of fun. By going through the games back-to-back, it was faster, less boring, and not as frustrating as it might have been if I played them over a longer period of time. I didn’t feel guilty playing games so much because I knew it was a temporary experience, like a vacation. Eventually my focus would shift to getting real work done, and of course it did. If you want to work, then work. If you want to play, then play. But whatever you decide to do, commit yourself to it without holding back. Be aware that your commitment is temporary. It will eventually end. You’ll have the opportunity to shift your focus to something else. Do you think this approach would make your life more or less balanced? The only way to know whether this works for you is to try it for a while and find out. If you’ve been living such that every day is virtually the same, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try working flat out for 12 or more hours one day. Then take the next day off completely to do something you love — guilt-free. It’s a fun (and productive) way to live.
    Jul 12, 2011 715
  • 12 Jul 2011
    In this post I’m going to share some things I’ve never shared publicly before, some of which you might find a bit surprising. At the start of each new year, I like to pick a primary focus for the upcoming year. I prefer doing this instead of making a New Year’s resolution because it’s more effective for me. By primary focus I’m referring to a single area of my life where I want to make a major advance in my personal growth efforts. I find that by picking just one area and by applying strategies like immersion and overwhelming force, I can take a quantum leap forward in that area and then lock in the gains. This has been much more effective for me than trying to make modest gains in multiple areas. Usually when I aim for several small changes, I only perpetuate the status quo. It’s like if someone throws you a ball, you can catch it, but if you’re thrown three balls at once, you get confused and fumble all of them. In 2008 my primary focus was to improve my diet and health, which was probably obvious if you read my blog during the past year. In retrospect that turned out to be an awesome decision. I successfully converted to a raw vegan diet, after eating a cooked vegan diet since 1997. Although weight loss wasn’t my primary goal, I dropped 15 pounds from where I was at this time last year. I feel wonderful physically and emotionally, I have more energy and mental clarity than ever, and I love the food I’m eating. (As I write this, I’m enjoying a tasty shake made from bananas, brazil nuts, and water.) I’ve also made many great new friends in the raw food community. It certainly took a lot of time and effort — and help from others — to make this transition. But I’m very happy with the results thus far. After leveling-up my character in this area, it’s time to pick a different area of focus for 2009. I’ve decided that my core focus for 2009 will be intimate relationships. This will take a bit of explaining… Some Relationship Background You may have noticed that I haven’t written a great deal about intimacy and relationships since I started blogging. There have been a handful of articles like Soulful Relationships, and I wrote a chapter about relationships in my book, but overall I haven’t written a ton about relationships relative to other topics. Also, I haven’t shared too many details about my marriage to Erin and how we manage our relationship. That might seem odd because Erin and I have been together almost 15 years now. I get a ton of requests for articles about relationships, so it isn’t due to lack of interest. The main reason I haven’t written much about this topic is that it was a part of my life where I had more confusion than clarity, and I didn’t want to give out phony advice that wouldn’t work. It’s also an area of my life where I’ve felt stuck for many years. It wasn’t until recently that I finally figured out how and why I was stuck and what I should do about it. As I alluded to a couple days ago in the Overcoming Indecision article, we create growth forks of indecision when deep down, we know which path to take, but we don’t feel ready to accept it yet. My big challenge wasn’t really about deciding what to do. For me the really hard part was accepting the next step on my path. For reasons I’ll soon explain, I had a very difficult time coming to terms with a path that felt a little too overwhelming for me. If you hold very traditional, mainstream views about relationships and especially marriage, then you probably won’t like what I’m about to say. My guess is that you’ll be inclined to frame this in a rather non-accepting, resistant way. And that’s okay if you feel that’s a reaction you need to have. That being said, please understand that I’ve already moved through this phase myself, so there’s no need to bother sending me a critical email to share your discontent and/or concern. I don’t want you to waste your time crafting a lengthy response that won’t actually be read, so if you feel inclined to do that sort of thing, please don’t. Marriage Erin and I have been together since 1994, married since 1998. We got married on the four-year anniversary of the day we met. In all that time, our marriage has been monogamous with no cheating or affairs or anything like that. Erin and I are very much in love. I love her, and I know she loves me. Throughout our relationship, I’ve never doubted that she loved me. Erin is my best friend. I feel I can talk to her about anything. We often talk for hours — about our lives, our careers, and how we can help the planet. I never get bored spending time with her. She’s one of the most conscious and interesting people I’ve ever known. I find her totally fascinating, and I feel grateful to have her in my life every day. I love being married to Erin. I love that we get to spend so much time together. Our journey together has been magical. Indecision This may sound surprising given what I just wrote above, but a huge area of indecision in my life for years has been this question: Should I stay married to Erin, or should I get divorced and experience other relationships? You really don’t want to know how much time I spent pondering this. Since we have two kids, ages 5 and 8, and since we run a business together, the consequences of divorce can get pretty complicated. The problem was that neither path intuitively felt right to me. I felt like I was stuck in a no-win situation. Being married to Erin has been wonderful. However, we’ve grown so close over the years — to the point where we’re telepathically picking thoughts out of each other’s minds — that it’s hard to imagine growing much closer as a couple. I can’t even define what being closer to Erin would mean without us practically becoming the same person. I feel that Erin and I are closer than any other couple I’ve met. As wonderful as our relationship has been, for a long time it has felt like something important is missing. The thought that I would never enjoy a deep, intimate relationship with any other woman really started to bother me. I felt like if I stayed married to Erin, I’d be missing out on a huge area of potential growth for the rest of my life. But more importantly, I felt that I had more love to give that was getting bottled up inside me with no good outlet for expressing it. If I stayed married to Erin, I’d have to accept that so many wonderful opportunities for love and connection with other people would never happen. I wasn’t willing to accept that. I’m referring to both physical and emotional intimacy. For me the two are hard to separate. I can’t imagine being physically intimate with a woman without feeling deeply emotionally connected to her as well. Having sex just for the sake of orgasm feels hollow. For me the emotional bonding and the feeling of connection is an essential part of physical intimacy. There’s something magical about two souls opening themselves to each other’s presence. Consequently, a model like swinging (i.e. having sex with other couples) or just getting some extra sex on the side would be a total turnoff for me. There have been times when I had to stop my emotional bonding with another women from leading too far into physical intimacy. In my heart I felt that’s where things were meant to go, but I always kept that door closed. My feelings aren’t caused by any sort of deficiency in my marriage. Erin is an absolutely awesome wife. I think I would feel the same way no matter who my wife was. Erin and I are compatible on so many levels, so compatibility isn’t the issue. In the most important ways our marriage can work, it works wonderfully. The issue is that my desire to connect with women is more expansive than what can be provided by any one relationship. I want to express and share more love than I’m currently able to. For a time I thought the only viable solution was to move into a serial monogamy situation, so I could experience multiple relationships. That felt totally wrong to me though. That would merely convert the current problem into a recurring problem. When I thought about getting a divorce from Erin, it felt absolutely wrong to me. I have no interest in breaking up with her. We’re still totally in love with each other. I love spending my life with her. Why would I want to give that up? For a long time, I got stuck in the trap of either-or thinking. I thought there were only two realistic options. Either I had to stay monogamous with Erin, or we had to break up so I could experience other relationships. But there was no way I could fully commit to either choice because they both felt wrong to me. I guess another option would be to have an affair, but I could never do that in secret because that would mean turning my back on truth. So I can’t give that serious consideration. I even read an excellent book about people who have affairs in order to understand why so many people choose that path, but it didn’t change how I felt. Having an affair would be an unconscious path that would force a decision later, but I’m looking for a conscious choice I can feel good about. In general, people don’t consciously choose to have affairs; affairs almost invariably arise unconsciously. Being in this state of indecision for so long had a negative effect on my marriage. Because I wasn’t sure what to do, I felt uncommitted to Erin. As a result I held back a lot of love I might otherwise have given her. When I was feeling very stuck, I often disconnected from her. I didn’t want to keep feeding a relationship that I thought would have to end in a break-up. I’m sure that created a lot of stress for Erin too. She’s very intuitive of course, so she knows when I’m not fully present in our marriage. Due to the close nature of our relationship, I often discussed my feelings openly with Erin. I brought up the possibility of divorce many times. I thought that by discussing this with her, it would give me more clarity and lead to a decision that felt good. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I wasn’t trying to threaten the relationship, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep all of these thoughts to myself. I couldn’t just pretend everything was okay. I read many acclaimed books on relationships, but nothing proved helpful. My relationship with Erin had already advanced beyond the stages those books addressed. Our level of closeness and connection wasn’t the problem, so trying to get closer wasn’t going to yield a solution. This indecision also had a negative effect on me as a father. I felt disconnected from my children. Every day I’d look at Emily and Kyle, not knowing if we’d be living in the same household much longer. That was very hard for me. I know I held back a lot as a parent, and of course that made things harder for Erin as well. Just thinking about this makes me pretty sad. I used every decision-making technique I knew, but none of them gave me an answer that felt right. I know that when my head and heart don’t agree, something is wrong. But I just didn’t know how to resolve this. An Alternative Answer Eventually the answer came to me. What’s really amazing is that I have to credit the answer to the gains I experienced after going 100% raw and especially after completing my juice feast about a month ago. If I didn’t take those steps, I’d probably still be feeling stuck right now. The mental clarity gains were only part of the solution process. Actually the more important part was that I finally felt like I had the physical and emotional energy to implement the solution. Prior to making these dietary changes, whenever I caught a glimpse of the solution, I always had to reject it as insanely impractical. I just didn’t have the power needed to face that kind of truth. My problem wasn’t really due to a lack of clarity. So it’s no wonder that trying to gain more clarity was a perpetual dead-end. The problem was that I was unwilling to accept the answer that was presenting itself. Every time it came up, I’d shove it aside with a loud, “No way!” So what is the solution? To put it simply, I needed to replace either-or with and. This is where we have to say goodbye to mainstream paths. This is also the point where my Puritanical readers will begin looking for a good throwing stone or an appropriate Bible verse. I very much want to stay married to Erin, but I also want to experience intimate relationships with other women. Is it possible to do both at the same time? As it turns out, the answer appears to be yes. The specific nature of the answer is still foggy because I haven’t implemented anything yet, but the general solution could be labeled polyamory. Polyamory Polyamory simply means having multiple intimate relationships at the same time. I’m not going to dive too deep into explaining the details at this time. If you want to learn more about it, you can Google polyamory and find some good sites devoted to the topic. In practice, polyamorous relationships can get complicated because you’re dealing with multiple partners. I believe I have a good shot of making this work. I’m a pretty conscious guy, and since I don’t have a job, I have a lot more free time than most people. Plus I love challenges. I guess the main challenge would be finding other partners who are open to this sort of thing. Obviously it’s not very mainstream. But neither is raw food, juice feasting, being happily jobless, experimenting with polyphasic sleep, or many of other things I’ve done. What appeals to me about polyamory is that it’s a way for people to learn to share love and connection without trying to possess each other. It feels a lot more free and open to me than a closed marriage situation. Is this just about having sex with other people? No, if that was all I wanted, I could just go pick up some tourist women on the Strip. The truth is that I love connecting with Erin physically and emotionally, and I want to enjoy that kind of connection with other women too. I can use self-discipline to try to deny those feelings, but that would require turning my back on the principle of Love, which is a big no-no. In this case I have to follow my heart. Erin’s Reaction What’s Erin’s reaction to all of this? Due to the nature of our relationship, of course I’ve talked to her about this in depth. At the present moment, she’s actually okay with it. Like I said, she’s a very conscious woman. I expect this will deepen my relationship with Erin in the long run. Her acceptance of this already makes me feel more committed to our marriage. By taking divorce off the table, I feel like we can continue to invest in what we’ve built together. I feel our relationship has already improved in the past few weeks. We spent a lot of time talking and snuggling today. I feel much happier about our future direction, and I think Erin does too. In fact, to kick off the New Year, Erin and I have decided to commit to a 30-day trial of 30-60 minutes per day of physical intimacy (sex, massage, cuddling, smooching, etc). We’re normally very affectionate with each other, so we want to see what happens if we turn this into a daily practice for a month. I doubt we’ll blog about it as we go along, but I’m certainly looking forward to this trial. It seems a lot more fun than the ones I did last year. If I don’t go this route, what’s the alternative? The alternative is that we’re back to the original either-or decision. I could stay monogamous with Erin without feeling good about it, or we could get a divorce. Regardless of how a polyamorous relationship model works out, we’re really no worse off than before. Sure there might be some added consequences, but to me the biggest deal right now is the status of our marriage. I’d like to stay married and keep our family together in one household, and I know Erin wants that too. Being in this state of indecision for so long has held me back in a lot of ways. For example, I didn’t want to grow the business too much because it would complicate things even more if we eventually got a divorce. It sucks to have to think like that, but indecision can’t be so easily compartmentalized. It feels good to move beyond that level of thinking though. Linear Growth Looking back I can see that the growth fork (i.e. that prolonged state of indecision) was something I created to keep myself from moving forward because I didn’t feel ready to take the next step. The next step in my relationship with Erin was to expand beyond sharing an intimate connection with just one person and to learn to create and share that kind of connection with other people too. Deep down I knew that was the truth, but it was a truth I felt unready to face. Obviously I’ll have to deal with some flak from people who have issues with this new direction. But the more important issue is what will happen to my relationships with Erin and my kids. Intuitively I sense that it’s time for me to explore other models for intimate relationships and to share what I learn along the way. The comfortable path would be to stay monogamously married and pretend everything is fine as-is. The courageous path is to reach out and attempt to share love and intimacy with more people. The courageous path is the only one with a heart. Erin and I have basically taken our personal connection about as far as we can on our own. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we may enjoy some small incremental gains, but it’s doubtful that we’ll experience any major leaps. Without those kinds of growth opportunities, it’s hard for me to get excited about our relationship, and it’s hard for me to feel committed to it. But the thought of taking the kind of deep connection that Erin and I have built with each other and creating new relationships with other women — now that’s exciting to me. But I wouldn’t just want to talk about it or write about it in a theoretical way. I have to do it. My growth style is experiential. My heart is excited by all of this. My head needs some time to catch up, but eventually he’ll be on board. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do about this yet, but intuitively I know this is the right direction to go. Writing about this publicly feels like a good first step. I’m sure the next step will reveal itself soon enough. Sharing Love Sharing love and connection is my main motivation for wanting to experience other intimate relationships. It’s not about trying to get something from other people. I don’t feel I’m coming at this from a place of neediness, at least not in the sense that I need something from other people. What I’m feeling is that I have this massive energy source of love inside me, but I lack the channels to fully express it. I want to let it flow, but all I’m doing is keeping it bottled up. Some of it flows into my relationship with Erin of course, but there’s still more to give. Sharing emotional intimacy is great, but I’ve felt stunted by my inability to cross the physical intimacy border and take the sharing of love and connection to a much greater level. I think some amazing things will happen by dropping that limitation from my life. Obviously I can share love through writing, speaking, and talking with people. However, my most natural manner of expressing love is through physical intimacy, especially touch. I give Erin massages all the time. If I see her sitting on the couch, it’s hard for me not to start squeezing her. When we go to bed at night, I usually massage and cuddle her first. Sometimes I play a game to see how much massaging she can handle before she’s so sleepy that she asks me to stop. We also have sex pretty often, especially since I know how to put her into a receptive state. A foot massage always sends her to la-la land. But I still have the capacity to share more attention and affection than Erin can receive. If I give out as much as I feel inclined to give, she eventually starts rejecting it. Consequently, I always have to hold back. Some of this desire for expressing affection gets channeled into my writing, which is a way for me to reach out and connect with lots of people, but since that medium is a mismatch for physical intimacy, I often feel stunted trying to express love through the written word. Why can’t I just become a massage therapist on the side and touch people all day long? That wouldn’t be appropriate because in my case, sensual touch leads very naturally to sex. I’d have a hard time holding back. Touching, kissing, massage, and sex are all part of the same bundle in my mind. Physical and emotional intimacy go hand-in-hand with me. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s hard for me to separate the two. A physically intimate relationship with a woman would make me feel very connected with her, and I’d automatically want to connect with her emotionally as well. I’ve no idea how easy it will be to follow this path, but at least I know that others have already done it, so hopefully I can learn something from them. I’d never want to do anything deceptive, so I wouldn’t start a relationship on false premises, like by pretending I’m a single guy. I’d need to find women who could understand my situation without going kittywompus. I have to imagine that somewhere on this planet, there must be other women who are open to exploring physical and emotional intimacy without major hang-ups and possessiveness issues… hopefully ones who like being massaged a lot. 2009 So my main focus for 2009 will be to explore intimate relationships in more depth. I mean that experientially of course. This includes my relationship with Erin as well as creating intimate relationships with other women. I can’t say in advance what the exact nature of those relationships will be because I’ve never done anything like this before. That remains to be seen. There may be a limit as to how much I can write about this because I’m not going to reveal info about others who might be involved w/o their permission. I may not be a very private person myself, but I respect other people’s desire for privacy. What happens in Vegas… However, I can certainly open up and write more about relationships in 2009. I’ve learned a lot from my very conscious relationship with Erin. The things we did that brought us so close happened more than a decade ago though, so for the most part these would be pretty old lessons. But I’m sure they’d still benefit a lot of people. If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, would I still get married? No, I doubt it. The monogamous marriage model doesn’t feel right to me. I love the idea of long-term committed relationships though, but you don’t need marriage for that. I don’t see a compelling reason to get a formal divorce just on principle, but it’s fair to say that my commitment to being in a single monogamous relationship has ended. I can’t really say where this path will lead, but I’m sure this will be another amazing year of growth and change. I could easily write 10x more about this topic, and I know there are a lot of loose ends I didn’t wrap up, but that will have to be shared later. Most of those loose ends are still loose right now, so at this point I can’t tie everything into a nice neat bundle for you.
    791 Posted by UniqueThis
  • In this post I’m going to share some things I’ve never shared publicly before, some of which you might find a bit surprising. At the start of each new year, I like to pick a primary focus for the upcoming year. I prefer doing this instead of making a New Year’s resolution because it’s more effective for me. By primary focus I’m referring to a single area of my life where I want to make a major advance in my personal growth efforts. I find that by picking just one area and by applying strategies like immersion and overwhelming force, I can take a quantum leap forward in that area and then lock in the gains. This has been much more effective for me than trying to make modest gains in multiple areas. Usually when I aim for several small changes, I only perpetuate the status quo. It’s like if someone throws you a ball, you can catch it, but if you’re thrown three balls at once, you get confused and fumble all of them. In 2008 my primary focus was to improve my diet and health, which was probably obvious if you read my blog during the past year. In retrospect that turned out to be an awesome decision. I successfully converted to a raw vegan diet, after eating a cooked vegan diet since 1997. Although weight loss wasn’t my primary goal, I dropped 15 pounds from where I was at this time last year. I feel wonderful physically and emotionally, I have more energy and mental clarity than ever, and I love the food I’m eating. (As I write this, I’m enjoying a tasty shake made from bananas, brazil nuts, and water.) I’ve also made many great new friends in the raw food community. It certainly took a lot of time and effort — and help from others — to make this transition. But I’m very happy with the results thus far. After leveling-up my character in this area, it’s time to pick a different area of focus for 2009. I’ve decided that my core focus for 2009 will be intimate relationships. This will take a bit of explaining… Some Relationship Background You may have noticed that I haven’t written a great deal about intimacy and relationships since I started blogging. There have been a handful of articles like Soulful Relationships, and I wrote a chapter about relationships in my book, but overall I haven’t written a ton about relationships relative to other topics. Also, I haven’t shared too many details about my marriage to Erin and how we manage our relationship. That might seem odd because Erin and I have been together almost 15 years now. I get a ton of requests for articles about relationships, so it isn’t due to lack of interest. The main reason I haven’t written much about this topic is that it was a part of my life where I had more confusion than clarity, and I didn’t want to give out phony advice that wouldn’t work. It’s also an area of my life where I’ve felt stuck for many years. It wasn’t until recently that I finally figured out how and why I was stuck and what I should do about it. As I alluded to a couple days ago in the Overcoming Indecision article, we create growth forks of indecision when deep down, we know which path to take, but we don’t feel ready to accept it yet. My big challenge wasn’t really about deciding what to do. For me the really hard part was accepting the next step on my path. For reasons I’ll soon explain, I had a very difficult time coming to terms with a path that felt a little too overwhelming for me. If you hold very traditional, mainstream views about relationships and especially marriage, then you probably won’t like what I’m about to say. My guess is that you’ll be inclined to frame this in a rather non-accepting, resistant way. And that’s okay if you feel that’s a reaction you need to have. That being said, please understand that I’ve already moved through this phase myself, so there’s no need to bother sending me a critical email to share your discontent and/or concern. I don’t want you to waste your time crafting a lengthy response that won’t actually be read, so if you feel inclined to do that sort of thing, please don’t. Marriage Erin and I have been together since 1994, married since 1998. We got married on the four-year anniversary of the day we met. In all that time, our marriage has been monogamous with no cheating or affairs or anything like that. Erin and I are very much in love. I love her, and I know she loves me. Throughout our relationship, I’ve never doubted that she loved me. Erin is my best friend. I feel I can talk to her about anything. We often talk for hours — about our lives, our careers, and how we can help the planet. I never get bored spending time with her. She’s one of the most conscious and interesting people I’ve ever known. I find her totally fascinating, and I feel grateful to have her in my life every day. I love being married to Erin. I love that we get to spend so much time together. Our journey together has been magical. Indecision This may sound surprising given what I just wrote above, but a huge area of indecision in my life for years has been this question: Should I stay married to Erin, or should I get divorced and experience other relationships? You really don’t want to know how much time I spent pondering this. Since we have two kids, ages 5 and 8, and since we run a business together, the consequences of divorce can get pretty complicated. The problem was that neither path intuitively felt right to me. I felt like I was stuck in a no-win situation. Being married to Erin has been wonderful. However, we’ve grown so close over the years — to the point where we’re telepathically picking thoughts out of each other’s minds — that it’s hard to imagine growing much closer as a couple. I can’t even define what being closer to Erin would mean without us practically becoming the same person. I feel that Erin and I are closer than any other couple I’ve met. As wonderful as our relationship has been, for a long time it has felt like something important is missing. The thought that I would never enjoy a deep, intimate relationship with any other woman really started to bother me. I felt like if I stayed married to Erin, I’d be missing out on a huge area of potential growth for the rest of my life. But more importantly, I felt that I had more love to give that was getting bottled up inside me with no good outlet for expressing it. If I stayed married to Erin, I’d have to accept that so many wonderful opportunities for love and connection with other people would never happen. I wasn’t willing to accept that. I’m referring to both physical and emotional intimacy. For me the two are hard to separate. I can’t imagine being physically intimate with a woman without feeling deeply emotionally connected to her as well. Having sex just for the sake of orgasm feels hollow. For me the emotional bonding and the feeling of connection is an essential part of physical intimacy. There’s something magical about two souls opening themselves to each other’s presence. Consequently, a model like swinging (i.e. having sex with other couples) or just getting some extra sex on the side would be a total turnoff for me. There have been times when I had to stop my emotional bonding with another women from leading too far into physical intimacy. In my heart I felt that’s where things were meant to go, but I always kept that door closed. My feelings aren’t caused by any sort of deficiency in my marriage. Erin is an absolutely awesome wife. I think I would feel the same way no matter who my wife was. Erin and I are compatible on so many levels, so compatibility isn’t the issue. In the most important ways our marriage can work, it works wonderfully. The issue is that my desire to connect with women is more expansive than what can be provided by any one relationship. I want to express and share more love than I’m currently able to. For a time I thought the only viable solution was to move into a serial monogamy situation, so I could experience multiple relationships. That felt totally wrong to me though. That would merely convert the current problem into a recurring problem. When I thought about getting a divorce from Erin, it felt absolutely wrong to me. I have no interest in breaking up with her. We’re still totally in love with each other. I love spending my life with her. Why would I want to give that up? For a long time, I got stuck in the trap of either-or thinking. I thought there were only two realistic options. Either I had to stay monogamous with Erin, or we had to break up so I could experience other relationships. But there was no way I could fully commit to either choice because they both felt wrong to me. I guess another option would be to have an affair, but I could never do that in secret because that would mean turning my back on truth. So I can’t give that serious consideration. I even read an excellent book about people who have affairs in order to understand why so many people choose that path, but it didn’t change how I felt. Having an affair would be an unconscious path that would force a decision later, but I’m looking for a conscious choice I can feel good about. In general, people don’t consciously choose to have affairs; affairs almost invariably arise unconsciously. Being in this state of indecision for so long had a negative effect on my marriage. Because I wasn’t sure what to do, I felt uncommitted to Erin. As a result I held back a lot of love I might otherwise have given her. When I was feeling very stuck, I often disconnected from her. I didn’t want to keep feeding a relationship that I thought would have to end in a break-up. I’m sure that created a lot of stress for Erin too. She’s very intuitive of course, so she knows when I’m not fully present in our marriage. Due to the close nature of our relationship, I often discussed my feelings openly with Erin. I brought up the possibility of divorce many times. I thought that by discussing this with her, it would give me more clarity and lead to a decision that felt good. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I wasn’t trying to threaten the relationship, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep all of these thoughts to myself. I couldn’t just pretend everything was okay. I read many acclaimed books on relationships, but nothing proved helpful. My relationship with Erin had already advanced beyond the stages those books addressed. Our level of closeness and connection wasn’t the problem, so trying to get closer wasn’t going to yield a solution. This indecision also had a negative effect on me as a father. I felt disconnected from my children. Every day I’d look at Emily and Kyle, not knowing if we’d be living in the same household much longer. That was very hard for me. I know I held back a lot as a parent, and of course that made things harder for Erin as well. Just thinking about this makes me pretty sad. I used every decision-making technique I knew, but none of them gave me an answer that felt right. I know that when my head and heart don’t agree, something is wrong. But I just didn’t know how to resolve this. An Alternative Answer Eventually the answer came to me. What’s really amazing is that I have to credit the answer to the gains I experienced after going 100% raw and especially after completing my juice feast about a month ago. If I didn’t take those steps, I’d probably still be feeling stuck right now. The mental clarity gains were only part of the solution process. Actually the more important part was that I finally felt like I had the physical and emotional energy to implement the solution. Prior to making these dietary changes, whenever I caught a glimpse of the solution, I always had to reject it as insanely impractical. I just didn’t have the power needed to face that kind of truth. My problem wasn’t really due to a lack of clarity. So it’s no wonder that trying to gain more clarity was a perpetual dead-end. The problem was that I was unwilling to accept the answer that was presenting itself. Every time it came up, I’d shove it aside with a loud, “No way!” So what is the solution? To put it simply, I needed to replace either-or with and. This is where we have to say goodbye to mainstream paths. This is also the point where my Puritanical readers will begin looking for a good throwing stone or an appropriate Bible verse. I very much want to stay married to Erin, but I also want to experience intimate relationships with other women. Is it possible to do both at the same time? As it turns out, the answer appears to be yes. The specific nature of the answer is still foggy because I haven’t implemented anything yet, but the general solution could be labeled polyamory. Polyamory Polyamory simply means having multiple intimate relationships at the same time. I’m not going to dive too deep into explaining the details at this time. If you want to learn more about it, you can Google polyamory and find some good sites devoted to the topic. In practice, polyamorous relationships can get complicated because you’re dealing with multiple partners. I believe I have a good shot of making this work. I’m a pretty conscious guy, and since I don’t have a job, I have a lot more free time than most people. Plus I love challenges. I guess the main challenge would be finding other partners who are open to this sort of thing. Obviously it’s not very mainstream. But neither is raw food, juice feasting, being happily jobless, experimenting with polyphasic sleep, or many of other things I’ve done. What appeals to me about polyamory is that it’s a way for people to learn to share love and connection without trying to possess each other. It feels a lot more free and open to me than a closed marriage situation. Is this just about having sex with other people? No, if that was all I wanted, I could just go pick up some tourist women on the Strip. The truth is that I love connecting with Erin physically and emotionally, and I want to enjoy that kind of connection with other women too. I can use self-discipline to try to deny those feelings, but that would require turning my back on the principle of Love, which is a big no-no. In this case I have to follow my heart. Erin’s Reaction What’s Erin’s reaction to all of this? Due to the nature of our relationship, of course I’ve talked to her about this in depth. At the present moment, she’s actually okay with it. Like I said, she’s a very conscious woman. I expect this will deepen my relationship with Erin in the long run. Her acceptance of this already makes me feel more committed to our marriage. By taking divorce off the table, I feel like we can continue to invest in what we’ve built together. I feel our relationship has already improved in the past few weeks. We spent a lot of time talking and snuggling today. I feel much happier about our future direction, and I think Erin does too. In fact, to kick off the New Year, Erin and I have decided to commit to a 30-day trial of 30-60 minutes per day of physical intimacy (sex, massage, cuddling, smooching, etc). We’re normally very affectionate with each other, so we want to see what happens if we turn this into a daily practice for a month. I doubt we’ll blog about it as we go along, but I’m certainly looking forward to this trial. It seems a lot more fun than the ones I did last year. If I don’t go this route, what’s the alternative? The alternative is that we’re back to the original either-or decision. I could stay monogamous with Erin without feeling good about it, or we could get a divorce. Regardless of how a polyamorous relationship model works out, we’re really no worse off than before. Sure there might be some added consequences, but to me the biggest deal right now is the status of our marriage. I’d like to stay married and keep our family together in one household, and I know Erin wants that too. Being in this state of indecision for so long has held me back in a lot of ways. For example, I didn’t want to grow the business too much because it would complicate things even more if we eventually got a divorce. It sucks to have to think like that, but indecision can’t be so easily compartmentalized. It feels good to move beyond that level of thinking though. Linear Growth Looking back I can see that the growth fork (i.e. that prolonged state of indecision) was something I created to keep myself from moving forward because I didn’t feel ready to take the next step. The next step in my relationship with Erin was to expand beyond sharing an intimate connection with just one person and to learn to create and share that kind of connection with other people too. Deep down I knew that was the truth, but it was a truth I felt unready to face. Obviously I’ll have to deal with some flak from people who have issues with this new direction. But the more important issue is what will happen to my relationships with Erin and my kids. Intuitively I sense that it’s time for me to explore other models for intimate relationships and to share what I learn along the way. The comfortable path would be to stay monogamously married and pretend everything is fine as-is. The courageous path is to reach out and attempt to share love and intimacy with more people. The courageous path is the only one with a heart. Erin and I have basically taken our personal connection about as far as we can on our own. If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we may enjoy some small incremental gains, but it’s doubtful that we’ll experience any major leaps. Without those kinds of growth opportunities, it’s hard for me to get excited about our relationship, and it’s hard for me to feel committed to it. But the thought of taking the kind of deep connection that Erin and I have built with each other and creating new relationships with other women — now that’s exciting to me. But I wouldn’t just want to talk about it or write about it in a theoretical way. I have to do it. My growth style is experiential. My heart is excited by all of this. My head needs some time to catch up, but eventually he’ll be on board. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do about this yet, but intuitively I know this is the right direction to go. Writing about this publicly feels like a good first step. I’m sure the next step will reveal itself soon enough. Sharing Love Sharing love and connection is my main motivation for wanting to experience other intimate relationships. It’s not about trying to get something from other people. I don’t feel I’m coming at this from a place of neediness, at least not in the sense that I need something from other people. What I’m feeling is that I have this massive energy source of love inside me, but I lack the channels to fully express it. I want to let it flow, but all I’m doing is keeping it bottled up. Some of it flows into my relationship with Erin of course, but there’s still more to give. Sharing emotional intimacy is great, but I’ve felt stunted by my inability to cross the physical intimacy border and take the sharing of love and connection to a much greater level. I think some amazing things will happen by dropping that limitation from my life. Obviously I can share love through writing, speaking, and talking with people. However, my most natural manner of expressing love is through physical intimacy, especially touch. I give Erin massages all the time. If I see her sitting on the couch, it’s hard for me not to start squeezing her. When we go to bed at night, I usually massage and cuddle her first. Sometimes I play a game to see how much massaging she can handle before she’s so sleepy that she asks me to stop. We also have sex pretty often, especially since I know how to put her into a receptive state. A foot massage always sends her to la-la land. But I still have the capacity to share more attention and affection than Erin can receive. If I give out as much as I feel inclined to give, she eventually starts rejecting it. Consequently, I always have to hold back. Some of this desire for expressing affection gets channeled into my writing, which is a way for me to reach out and connect with lots of people, but since that medium is a mismatch for physical intimacy, I often feel stunted trying to express love through the written word. Why can’t I just become a massage therapist on the side and touch people all day long? That wouldn’t be appropriate because in my case, sensual touch leads very naturally to sex. I’d have a hard time holding back. Touching, kissing, massage, and sex are all part of the same bundle in my mind. Physical and emotional intimacy go hand-in-hand with me. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s hard for me to separate the two. A physically intimate relationship with a woman would make me feel very connected with her, and I’d automatically want to connect with her emotionally as well. I’ve no idea how easy it will be to follow this path, but at least I know that others have already done it, so hopefully I can learn something from them. I’d never want to do anything deceptive, so I wouldn’t start a relationship on false premises, like by pretending I’m a single guy. I’d need to find women who could understand my situation without going kittywompus. I have to imagine that somewhere on this planet, there must be other women who are open to exploring physical and emotional intimacy without major hang-ups and possessiveness issues… hopefully ones who like being massaged a lot. 2009 So my main focus for 2009 will be to explore intimate relationships in more depth. I mean that experientially of course. This includes my relationship with Erin as well as creating intimate relationships with other women. I can’t say in advance what the exact nature of those relationships will be because I’ve never done anything like this before. That remains to be seen. There may be a limit as to how much I can write about this because I’m not going to reveal info about others who might be involved w/o their permission. I may not be a very private person myself, but I respect other people’s desire for privacy. What happens in Vegas… However, I can certainly open up and write more about relationships in 2009. I’ve learned a lot from my very conscious relationship with Erin. The things we did that brought us so close happened more than a decade ago though, so for the most part these would be pretty old lessons. But I’m sure they’d still benefit a lot of people. If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, would I still get married? No, I doubt it. The monogamous marriage model doesn’t feel right to me. I love the idea of long-term committed relationships though, but you don’t need marriage for that. I don’t see a compelling reason to get a formal divorce just on principle, but it’s fair to say that my commitment to being in a single monogamous relationship has ended. I can’t really say where this path will lead, but I’m sure this will be another amazing year of growth and change. I could easily write 10x more about this topic, and I know there are a lot of loose ends I didn’t wrap up, but that will have to be shared later. Most of those loose ends are still loose right now, so at this point I can’t tie everything into a nice neat bundle for you.
    Jul 12, 2011 791
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Remote Diagnosis Disorder (RDD) is my new addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. People afflicted with this personality disorder suffer from an uncontrollable urge to diagnose individuals as suffering from one or more psychological disorders, specifically individuals which the RDD sufferer has had little or no direct personal interaction with. RDD sufferers often diagnose specific mental illnesses and may go so far as to offer treatment suggestions. Rather than conducting a formal psychological exam, including a structured face-to-face or verbal evaluation, RDD sufferers are inclined to make snap diagnoses based on data such as a very brief personal interaction, the opinions of third parties, asynchronous and/or indirect interaction (such as email), and the imaginary neuro-associations they’ve created for the people they diagnose. Despite having little or no direct interaction with those they diagnose, RDD sufferers often remain strongly convinced their diagnoses are accurate. A side effect of this disorder is that RDD sufferers will typically avoid prolonged direct interaction with those they diagnose, as this could corrupt the benefits they obtain from RDD by proving their assumptions inaccurate. RDD is essentially a form of projection. RDD sufferers remotely diagnose in others the mental disorders they experience in themselves but cannot yet bring themselves to accept. RDD is often accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: anger, depression, episodic dysphoria, anxiety, Internet addiction, substance abuse, instability in personal relationships, fear of abandonment, unstable self-image, severe dissociation, and eating disorders. An effective treatment for RDD is to help RDD sufferers consider how their diagnoses of others are actually a projection of their own imbalances. By having the RDD sufferer make a list of his/her remote diagnosis of others, the therapist can begin treating these specific disorders in the RDD patient. Once the patient accepts these issues as his/her own and begins working through them directly, symptoms of RDD tend to fade. However, RDD symptoms may continue throughout therapy as new issues are brought to the surface through the mechanism of RDD. Another practical treatment is to ask RDD patient to offer their own treatment suggestions for those they diagnose with various mental disorders. These suggested treatments can provide a starting point for treating the RDD disorder itself. In this manner the patient’s subconscious may offer effective treatment suggestions, bypassing any resistance from the conscious mind. Some additional treatment resources for RDD include: Understanding Human Relationships and People and Subjective Reality.
    705 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Remote Diagnosis Disorder (RDD) is my new addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. People afflicted with this personality disorder suffer from an uncontrollable urge to diagnose individuals as suffering from one or more psychological disorders, specifically individuals which the RDD sufferer has had little or no direct personal interaction with. RDD sufferers often diagnose specific mental illnesses and may go so far as to offer treatment suggestions. Rather than conducting a formal psychological exam, including a structured face-to-face or verbal evaluation, RDD sufferers are inclined to make snap diagnoses based on data such as a very brief personal interaction, the opinions of third parties, asynchronous and/or indirect interaction (such as email), and the imaginary neuro-associations they’ve created for the people they diagnose. Despite having little or no direct interaction with those they diagnose, RDD sufferers often remain strongly convinced their diagnoses are accurate. A side effect of this disorder is that RDD sufferers will typically avoid prolonged direct interaction with those they diagnose, as this could corrupt the benefits they obtain from RDD by proving their assumptions inaccurate. RDD is essentially a form of projection. RDD sufferers remotely diagnose in others the mental disorders they experience in themselves but cannot yet bring themselves to accept. RDD is often accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: anger, depression, episodic dysphoria, anxiety, Internet addiction, substance abuse, instability in personal relationships, fear of abandonment, unstable self-image, severe dissociation, and eating disorders. An effective treatment for RDD is to help RDD sufferers consider how their diagnoses of others are actually a projection of their own imbalances. By having the RDD sufferer make a list of his/her remote diagnosis of others, the therapist can begin treating these specific disorders in the RDD patient. Once the patient accepts these issues as his/her own and begins working through them directly, symptoms of RDD tend to fade. However, RDD symptoms may continue throughout therapy as new issues are brought to the surface through the mechanism of RDD. Another practical treatment is to ask RDD patient to offer their own treatment suggestions for those they diagnose with various mental disorders. These suggested treatments can provide a starting point for treating the RDD disorder itself. In this manner the patient’s subconscious may offer effective treatment suggestions, bypassing any resistance from the conscious mind. Some additional treatment resources for RDD include: Understanding Human Relationships and People and Subjective Reality.
    Jul 12, 2011 705
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Many people suggest that doing volunteer work is a great way to open your heart to new experiences. I totally agree. When I was in high school, I did volunteer work at two different places, helping out for about 50 hours at each place. Working With Seniors The first place was a convalescent home near LAX (Los Angeles Airport). I must have been 16 years old, since this was shortly after I learned to drive. I served as an assistant for the woman who was in charge of the place. Picture Gilda Radner after four cups of coffee. I helped to facilitate various activities with the seniors at this place, including games and social events. Sometimes I talked one on one with people in their rooms. Other times I pushed people around in wheelchairs for their daily ”exercise.” I remember talking to one guy who had a world map on the wall of his room. He said, “Point to anywhere, and I’ll tell you about it.” I’d point to different countries, and he’d tell me of his travels there, some of them during World War II. I rather enjoyed that. He reminded me a little of my grandfather, who was stationed in Germany at the end of WWII. Overall, I learned a lot from this experience, but I honestly didn’t enjoy it. Most of the seniors at this place seemed lonely and depressed. Some were unfriendly, withdrawn, and bitter and clearly didn’t want to be there. A few seemed mentally unstable. I was cautioned to steer clear of at least one person there. The staff seemed overworked and unmotivated. I didn’t get the sense they wanted to be there either. I imagine it was just a job to them. No sense of life purpose was present as far as I could tell. Often the staff treated the seniors like children. That was sad to see, but at the time, I just assumed they knew what they were doing. During the time I was there (Friday afternoons for a few months), I don’t recall seeing any family members visit, but I might not have noticed if they did because I usually wasn’t near the front desk. But it’s safe to say that the people in this convalescent home didn’t have much social interaction with anyone but the staff and each other. And some of them didn’t like each other or the staff. Most of the seniors there were very passive. They just went along with the program and didn’t resist. For me personally that lack of independent will was the most difficult thing to see. I could better understand the people who showed bursts of emotion on occasion. Perhaps the biggest lesson for me was that I didn’t want to end my life in this manner. It seemed so sad to me that human beings should spend their last remaining years this way. Virtually no one there was really doing anything with their lives. They spent a lot of time watching old movies on TV. I got the sense that everyone was basically waiting to die. The convalescent home was essentially a holding cell before you hit the afterlife. Once you checked in, you’d eventually be leaving as a corpse. This was a formative experience for me because it gave me a greater sense of taking personal responsibility for my long-term health — all the way to the grave. Some things may be out of our control, but most of those seniors didn’t really need to end up there. If they’d assumed 100% responsibility for their own health care from a young age, most could have been physically and mentally independent for years to come. I’d rather end up Jack LaLanne (age 94) than have my body falling apart at age 70. You could blame the families for abandoning their elders, but I wouldn’t do that. I agree that many Americans have a long way to go in terms of how we treat our elders compared to the respect shown by some cultures, but I also think that respect must be earned. If you allow your mind and body to atrophy so badly that your family would rather pay thousands of dollars to make you someone else’s problem, who’s responsible? Ultimate responsibility always rests with you. Just consider for a careful moment or two where your current health decisions are leading you. Where will your body be at age 70, 80, 90? Incidentally, this convalescent home was later written up in the local newspaper for reported health code violations. I didn’t know anything about health codes at the time, but none of the details in the newspaper report were surprising to me. Working With Disabled Children When I was 17, I volunteered at the James McBride School in L.A. This was a special education center for children with various disabilities. I figured I’d already worked with seniors, so I might as well try the other end of the age spectrum. This time I was a classroom assistant for pre-school kids. The kids were probably 3-4 years old. Most of these kids wore special helmets because they tripped and fell down a lot. One child had cerebral palsy and spent most of the school day in a special contraption to support his body and head. Without it he was unable to hold himself up. He looked a bit emaciated because his muscles were so underdeveloped. He also drooled a lot. I really loved his spirit — his smile would totally light up the room. Just looking at him forced me to open my heart. I absolutely loved working with these kids. They were so alive and full of joy – the way people naturally act before social conditioning takes root. I enjoyed helping them learn shapes like circles, squares, and triangles. They already knew their colors better than I did. After the pre-school kids went home, I ate lunch, and then I monitored afternoon recess activities with the grade-school kids. This mainly involved helping them shoot hoops and making sure they didn’t get into trouble. Some of the kids had difficulty managing their emotions, so it didn’t take much to set them off and initiate a fight. I remember that one kid with Down Syndrome sometimes had issues getting along with the other kids; we just had to make sure his tremendous energy was being channeled in a positive way. I still recall some of the pre-school kid’s names — Steven, Candice, Joey, and Ricky. Steven was a brown-haired kid who took an instant liking to me once he discovered we had the same first name. In his eyes that made us instant best friends. It was a Festivus miracle! Candice was a short, sassy blend of Queen Latifa and Rosie Perez. The only problem was that while she was chewing you out, she’d often lose her balance and fall down. For an adult that might have been embarrassing. But Candice would simply get back up, straighten her helmet, and continue sassing you without missing a beat. It’s funny to realize that those kids are now in their mid-20s. I wonder if any of them are reading my blog today. Many years later, Erin did some substitute teaching at James McBride. It was a very challenging experience for her. She was working with older kids though, not the pre-schoolers. Working with those kids made me more interested in having kids of my own. Before that I was definitely a no-kids person. This experience didn’t push me over the edge completely, but it definitely softened me up. Watching kids learning shapes and colors reminded me of my experience at James McBride. At the preschool level, the way “normal” kids learn and play together isn’t much different than the behavior of children coping with various disabilities. Kids are kids, and self-acceptance comes naturally to us. For a young child, dealing with a disability is just life. It’s only later on that society teaches those same beautiful children that just because they’re different, they’re somehow broken. Being normal is overrated anyway. If you live a “normal” life, your reward may be a stint at a convalescent home. This year I read a book called The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal by Jonathan Mooney. The book is an insightful journey into the lives of people who are labeled disabled and the challenges they experience in dealing with society’s pre-conceived notions about them. This book gave me a new perspective on my experiences at the James McBride School. I can honestly say that I both loved and hated this book at the same time. Community Service Later in life when I got myself into a bit of legal trouble, I ended up doing some involuntary, court-ordered community service. That was a whole different beast because I didn’t really want to be there. Most of this time was spent picking up trash at the Emeryville Marina. In January Erin and I spent a few days in Emeryville (just east from San Francisco across the Bay Bridge), and I took a morning walk around the marina. The park where I did my community service was still there, and I actually saw people in orange vests picking up trash just like I did… half my life ago. None of them looked like they wanted to be there either. I should have walked up to one of them and asked, “Surely you must have some interesting stories to tell. Have you ever thought about a career in blogging?” When you perform service with a closed heart and mind, the experience is completely different compared to doing it because you really want to. Benefits of Volunteering I highly recommend doing some volunteer work, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s a great way to open your heart and to feel more connected to people. If you’re feeling isolated, disconnected, misunderstood, or lonely, then volunteering can definitely help. Your biggest problems in life will all seem pretty minor when you’re face to face with the heart-melting smile of a child with cerebral palsy. Many people have discovered new career opportunities from volunteering. If you want to work in a certain field, what better way to get started than to put in a few hours each week for free? And if you don’t have a clue what you’d like to do for your main career, volunteer at a few different places to see what you like best. You’ll learn a lot, build valuable experience, and make new friends and contacts. Use volunteering to face some of your fears. Push yourself to grow. Are you uncomfortable around children or homeless people? How do you feel about domestic violence? Do you avoid people who are dying? You can use volunteering to face your fears head-on, gradually replacing them with greater truths. The nice thing about most volunteer work is that you can quit whenever you want, so you don’t have to make a long-term commitment. Volunteering is an activity, but it’s also an attitude. You’re there just to give. Obviously you’ll gain something from the experience, but it’s nice just to have the experience of helping people without needing or expecting anything in return. Volunteering Through Your Career Do your best to bring this same attitude to your main career. Work because you want to, not because you have to. Work like a free person who chooses to work, not like a slave who is forced to work. And when you’re at work, pour your whole heart into it. Never leave your soul at home when you go to the office. I wrote this article because I had something I wanted to share with you, not because I need or expect something from you. My motivation to write stemmed from desire, not obligation. You’re free to read this article, think about it, and not pay me a dime for it. It is a gift. I hate to think of what would become of my work if it was something I felt I had to do, like involuntary community service. If you work because you feel you must work to earn money, you’re poisoning your output. You don’t get great art by whipping a slave and saying, “Be more creative or else!” Getting Started If you’re curious to learn more about volunteering, a good place to get started is VolunteerMatch. You can use that site to search for volunteer opportunities near you. Another option is just to ask around, or stop by a place that looks interesting and ask if they could use some free help. If you’re currently in school, someone at your school may also be able to help out with volunteer placement. I got connected with the convalescent home and the James McBride School through my high school guidance counselor. I recommend that you do something where you get to work with people face to face as opposed to sitting in a room alone doing filing. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter for example, ask to work with homeless people directly, even if you’re just serving them food. Throw your whole heart into the experience. If your life is a struggle… if you keep getting bad breaks… if it appears that the world doesn’t much care for you, then it’s your move. The world is waiting on you to say “I love you” first. A couple hours on a lazy afternoon is all it takes to send your life in a whole new direction.
    1018 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Many people suggest that doing volunteer work is a great way to open your heart to new experiences. I totally agree. When I was in high school, I did volunteer work at two different places, helping out for about 50 hours at each place. Working With Seniors The first place was a convalescent home near LAX (Los Angeles Airport). I must have been 16 years old, since this was shortly after I learned to drive. I served as an assistant for the woman who was in charge of the place. Picture Gilda Radner after four cups of coffee. I helped to facilitate various activities with the seniors at this place, including games and social events. Sometimes I talked one on one with people in their rooms. Other times I pushed people around in wheelchairs for their daily ”exercise.” I remember talking to one guy who had a world map on the wall of his room. He said, “Point to anywhere, and I’ll tell you about it.” I’d point to different countries, and he’d tell me of his travels there, some of them during World War II. I rather enjoyed that. He reminded me a little of my grandfather, who was stationed in Germany at the end of WWII. Overall, I learned a lot from this experience, but I honestly didn’t enjoy it. Most of the seniors at this place seemed lonely and depressed. Some were unfriendly, withdrawn, and bitter and clearly didn’t want to be there. A few seemed mentally unstable. I was cautioned to steer clear of at least one person there. The staff seemed overworked and unmotivated. I didn’t get the sense they wanted to be there either. I imagine it was just a job to them. No sense of life purpose was present as far as I could tell. Often the staff treated the seniors like children. That was sad to see, but at the time, I just assumed they knew what they were doing. During the time I was there (Friday afternoons for a few months), I don’t recall seeing any family members visit, but I might not have noticed if they did because I usually wasn’t near the front desk. But it’s safe to say that the people in this convalescent home didn’t have much social interaction with anyone but the staff and each other. And some of them didn’t like each other or the staff. Most of the seniors there were very passive. They just went along with the program and didn’t resist. For me personally that lack of independent will was the most difficult thing to see. I could better understand the people who showed bursts of emotion on occasion. Perhaps the biggest lesson for me was that I didn’t want to end my life in this manner. It seemed so sad to me that human beings should spend their last remaining years this way. Virtually no one there was really doing anything with their lives. They spent a lot of time watching old movies on TV. I got the sense that everyone was basically waiting to die. The convalescent home was essentially a holding cell before you hit the afterlife. Once you checked in, you’d eventually be leaving as a corpse. This was a formative experience for me because it gave me a greater sense of taking personal responsibility for my long-term health — all the way to the grave. Some things may be out of our control, but most of those seniors didn’t really need to end up there. If they’d assumed 100% responsibility for their own health care from a young age, most could have been physically and mentally independent for years to come. I’d rather end up Jack LaLanne (age 94) than have my body falling apart at age 70. You could blame the families for abandoning their elders, but I wouldn’t do that. I agree that many Americans have a long way to go in terms of how we treat our elders compared to the respect shown by some cultures, but I also think that respect must be earned. If you allow your mind and body to atrophy so badly that your family would rather pay thousands of dollars to make you someone else’s problem, who’s responsible? Ultimate responsibility always rests with you. Just consider for a careful moment or two where your current health decisions are leading you. Where will your body be at age 70, 80, 90? Incidentally, this convalescent home was later written up in the local newspaper for reported health code violations. I didn’t know anything about health codes at the time, but none of the details in the newspaper report were surprising to me. Working With Disabled Children When I was 17, I volunteered at the James McBride School in L.A. This was a special education center for children with various disabilities. I figured I’d already worked with seniors, so I might as well try the other end of the age spectrum. This time I was a classroom assistant for pre-school kids. The kids were probably 3-4 years old. Most of these kids wore special helmets because they tripped and fell down a lot. One child had cerebral palsy and spent most of the school day in a special contraption to support his body and head. Without it he was unable to hold himself up. He looked a bit emaciated because his muscles were so underdeveloped. He also drooled a lot. I really loved his spirit — his smile would totally light up the room. Just looking at him forced me to open my heart. I absolutely loved working with these kids. They were so alive and full of joy – the way people naturally act before social conditioning takes root. I enjoyed helping them learn shapes like circles, squares, and triangles. They already knew their colors better than I did. After the pre-school kids went home, I ate lunch, and then I monitored afternoon recess activities with the grade-school kids. This mainly involved helping them shoot hoops and making sure they didn’t get into trouble. Some of the kids had difficulty managing their emotions, so it didn’t take much to set them off and initiate a fight. I remember that one kid with Down Syndrome sometimes had issues getting along with the other kids; we just had to make sure his tremendous energy was being channeled in a positive way. I still recall some of the pre-school kid’s names — Steven, Candice, Joey, and Ricky. Steven was a brown-haired kid who took an instant liking to me once he discovered we had the same first name. In his eyes that made us instant best friends. It was a Festivus miracle! Candice was a short, sassy blend of Queen Latifa and Rosie Perez. The only problem was that while she was chewing you out, she’d often lose her balance and fall down. For an adult that might have been embarrassing. But Candice would simply get back up, straighten her helmet, and continue sassing you without missing a beat. It’s funny to realize that those kids are now in their mid-20s. I wonder if any of them are reading my blog today. Many years later, Erin did some substitute teaching at James McBride. It was a very challenging experience for her. She was working with older kids though, not the pre-schoolers. Working with those kids made me more interested in having kids of my own. Before that I was definitely a no-kids person. This experience didn’t push me over the edge completely, but it definitely softened me up. Watching kids learning shapes and colors reminded me of my experience at James McBride. At the preschool level, the way “normal” kids learn and play together isn’t much different than the behavior of children coping with various disabilities. Kids are kids, and self-acceptance comes naturally to us. For a young child, dealing with a disability is just life. It’s only later on that society teaches those same beautiful children that just because they’re different, they’re somehow broken. Being normal is overrated anyway. If you live a “normal” life, your reward may be a stint at a convalescent home. This year I read a book called The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal by Jonathan Mooney. The book is an insightful journey into the lives of people who are labeled disabled and the challenges they experience in dealing with society’s pre-conceived notions about them. This book gave me a new perspective on my experiences at the James McBride School. I can honestly say that I both loved and hated this book at the same time. Community Service Later in life when I got myself into a bit of legal trouble, I ended up doing some involuntary, court-ordered community service. That was a whole different beast because I didn’t really want to be there. Most of this time was spent picking up trash at the Emeryville Marina. In January Erin and I spent a few days in Emeryville (just east from San Francisco across the Bay Bridge), and I took a morning walk around the marina. The park where I did my community service was still there, and I actually saw people in orange vests picking up trash just like I did… half my life ago. None of them looked like they wanted to be there either. I should have walked up to one of them and asked, “Surely you must have some interesting stories to tell. Have you ever thought about a career in blogging?” When you perform service with a closed heart and mind, the experience is completely different compared to doing it because you really want to. Benefits of Volunteering I highly recommend doing some volunteer work, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s a great way to open your heart and to feel more connected to people. If you’re feeling isolated, disconnected, misunderstood, or lonely, then volunteering can definitely help. Your biggest problems in life will all seem pretty minor when you’re face to face with the heart-melting smile of a child with cerebral palsy. Many people have discovered new career opportunities from volunteering. If you want to work in a certain field, what better way to get started than to put in a few hours each week for free? And if you don’t have a clue what you’d like to do for your main career, volunteer at a few different places to see what you like best. You’ll learn a lot, build valuable experience, and make new friends and contacts. Use volunteering to face some of your fears. Push yourself to grow. Are you uncomfortable around children or homeless people? How do you feel about domestic violence? Do you avoid people who are dying? You can use volunteering to face your fears head-on, gradually replacing them with greater truths. The nice thing about most volunteer work is that you can quit whenever you want, so you don’t have to make a long-term commitment. Volunteering is an activity, but it’s also an attitude. You’re there just to give. Obviously you’ll gain something from the experience, but it’s nice just to have the experience of helping people without needing or expecting anything in return. Volunteering Through Your Career Do your best to bring this same attitude to your main career. Work because you want to, not because you have to. Work like a free person who chooses to work, not like a slave who is forced to work. And when you’re at work, pour your whole heart into it. Never leave your soul at home when you go to the office. I wrote this article because I had something I wanted to share with you, not because I need or expect something from you. My motivation to write stemmed from desire, not obligation. You’re free to read this article, think about it, and not pay me a dime for it. It is a gift. I hate to think of what would become of my work if it was something I felt I had to do, like involuntary community service. If you work because you feel you must work to earn money, you’re poisoning your output. You don’t get great art by whipping a slave and saying, “Be more creative or else!” Getting Started If you’re curious to learn more about volunteering, a good place to get started is VolunteerMatch. You can use that site to search for volunteer opportunities near you. Another option is just to ask around, or stop by a place that looks interesting and ask if they could use some free help. If you’re currently in school, someone at your school may also be able to help out with volunteer placement. I got connected with the convalescent home and the James McBride School through my high school guidance counselor. I recommend that you do something where you get to work with people face to face as opposed to sitting in a room alone doing filing. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter for example, ask to work with homeless people directly, even if you’re just serving them food. Throw your whole heart into the experience. If your life is a struggle… if you keep getting bad breaks… if it appears that the world doesn’t much care for you, then it’s your move. The world is waiting on you to say “I love you” first. A couple hours on a lazy afternoon is all it takes to send your life in a whole new direction.
    Jul 12, 2011 1018
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Is it true that opposites attract? Or would you be happier in a relationship with someone who is very similar to you? Is attraction something you have to create with another person? Or does it just happen automatically? Have you ever made up a list of qualities your ideal mate should have, but when you finally met such a person, you realized there was no spark? Opposites Attract In many ways Erin and I are total opposites, but we find ourselves naturally attracted to each other. On a logical level, our relationship might seem like a mismatch, but in truth we are very close and very happy together. Erin is very nurturing and motherly. In college she majored in psychology, partly so she could understand people better. She loves to encourage people and help them feel better about themselves. If our kids ever feel bad, she’s always there to cheer them up and help them solve their problems. On the other hand, Erin has a much harder time with qualities like confidence and courage. Sometimes I’ve had to shove her out the door to try something new that would stretch her beyond her comfort zone. When people are mean to her, she is very hurt by it. She has a hard time dealing with unfairness and injustice because she can’t understand why anyone would choose to be cruel to anyone else. Nurturing is not a quality I’d use to describe myself. Trying to be overly nurturing typically makes me nauseous. When other people get emotional around me, I’m more likely to roll my eyes until they get control of themselves. I’m all for abolishing the celebration of birthdays and holidays that include gift-giving because the whole practice seems so fluffy and lame to me. My natural style involves pushing myself and others to grow. Confidence and courage are qualities that come easily to me, and I thrive on fresh challenges. I actually feel uncomfortable when I spend too much time in my comfort zone — it makes me itchy to try something new. Erin is very right-brained and intuitive. She’s an extremely talented psychic mediumand has been developing those skills since childhood. A lot of people are shocked by the stuff she’s able to pick up about them. She’s imaginative and creative and wrote her first novel in only 16 days. She can play piano by ear, a skill our daughter seems to have inherited. Left-brained thinking is much harder for Erin. Helping our daughter with her third-grade math homework is sometimes a stretch for Erin. Erin does a lot of things I feel are borderline ADD like leaving lights on all over the house when there’s no one in those rooms or sometimes leaving cabinet doors and drawers open after she’s retrieved something from them. Often when I go to the kitchen after she’s been there, it looks like a small tornado swept through it. Sheldon Cooper would go kittywompus. Right-brained thinking didn’t come naturally to me. It was something I really had to work hard to develop in my adult years. I thought that intuition was just woo-woo fluff. I found it much easier to understand computers than human beings. I considered most artist/musician types to be lazy, still-living-with-mommy-at-age-30 losers. I could only respect people who could think things through logically. I am much more left-brained. In college I double-majored in computer science and math. I began learning computer programming at age 10 and was naturally good at it. I like to be very organized, and I have a low tolerance for disorder. If you’ve readmy book, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s highly structured and organized in a fluff-free manner. Left-brained people usually love it, while right-brained people are more likely to find it a little rigid for their tastes. On some fundamental dimensions of personality, Erin and I are total opposites. She’s on one end of the spectrum, and I’m on the other end. And yet despite these major differences, we both felt very attracted to each other. Our 15+ years together have been an incredible journey, and we’re really looking forward to what the next 15 will bring. Stimulating Growth I think the reason our relationship has worked so well is that Erin and I are really, really good for each other. She stimulates me to grow and change in ways no one else does, and I do the same for her. When you enter a relationship with someone who’s very different than you, you’re likely to experience a lot of growth and change, assuming there’s a healthy underlying attraction. But when you’re in a relationship with someone who’s just like you, that relationship won’t stimulate nearly as much inner growth. Erin opened me up to a world I didn’t even know existed. The first time we met, we spent two hours discussing lucid dreaming, mostly with me asking questions and her telling me about her experiences. Later she taught me about astral projection, something I was able to explore firsthand that same year. Erin also helped me to get in touch with my heart, to learn to connect with human beings (not just machines), and to think about how I could help others instead of just myself. Early in our relationship, I admitted to Erin that I really didn’t know how to love. Love was an alien concept to me. Her response was, “I will teach you.” There’s no way I’d have written hundreds of free articles to help people grow if not for Erin’s influence. Similarly, when I first met Erin, she was working as a $9/hour secretary. The whole notion of deliberately setting and achieving goals was practically unknown to her. She was fun to be around, but it seemed doubtful that she’d really get anywhere in life on her own. Her biggest dreams were perpetually stuck in the fantasy stage. She lacked confidence and drive and became overly nervous if she was ever called on to perform in some fashion. Just as Erin helped me open my heart and my intuition, I helped her get better at courage, confidence, and left-brained thinking. Looking back it’s pretty amazing how much she’s grown. Even her family has commented on how different she is now. I encouraged Erin to write and to develop her various talents and skills. I pushed her to create an online business (which she later sold), to start a blog, to become a pro psychic medium, to join Toastmasters, to take Tae Kwon Do lessons, to go vegetarian and then vegan, to move to Las Vegas with me, to travel more, and to make lots of other positive changes. Erin and I continue to be excited about our relationship because we can see how good we are for each other. We know that we couldn’t have achieved all these personal growth gains on our own. Every year we continue to enjoy positive changes that naturally arise from how we influence each other on a day-to-day basis.  Attraction In recent years a great deal of material has been created to explain how to attract a relationship partner. Some of it is technique-based, while much of it encourages you to develop the inner qualities a potential partner would find attractive. I do think this material can be helpful for many people, especially since a great deal of it overlaps with general principles of personal development. However, a huge amount of relationship material is rooted in a mindset that I don’t agree with — that you must first change something about yourself in order to become worthy of attracting a really great relationship partner. This mindset pre-supposes that for whatever reason, you aren’t yet capable of attracting that partner in this particular moment. This is a tricky mindset. I won’t say it’s exactly wrong, but I think it’s missing the big picture. Let me offer you an alternative way of thinking about attraction. A while back I wrote an article called Self-Acceptance vs. Personal Growth, which is about how to make positive changes while at the same time accepting yourself just as you are. Don’t begin with the erroneous assumption that you’re somehow defective. This is a good way to think about attraction as well. Attraction occurs very naturally. Instead of learning techniques and “inner game” to become attractive, I think it’s more accurate to say that we need to learn how to stop blocking attraction when it naturally arises. You are already attractive. You just need to realize that and stop blocking yourself from expressing your natural attractiveness. How many animal species hold seminars to teach their members how to attract a mate? They don’t need anything like that because they don’t have our level of social conditioning that tells them they’re ugly and unattractive and need to be repaired before they’re worthy. They just drop for it in the bushes and then go back to foraging. Natural Attraction Instead of trying to diagnose what you need to change or fix about yourself in order to attract a desirable partner, look at it from the opposite perspective. What sort of people do you find naturally attractive? I’m going to suggest that the people you find naturally attractive are the same people that can help stimulate massive positive changes within you. Even if it doesn’t logically seem like a great match, such partners can potentially be very good for you — not always, but quite often. When Erin and I first met, we naturally attracted each other. We didn’t need to use tricks and techniques, and we didn’t need to develop our inner qualities either. We certainly weren’t masters of social dynamics, but it didn’t matter. We allowed the attraction to unfold naturally. And 15 years later, we’re still great matches for each other. Now don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a lot of value to be gained from improving your social skills as well as doing things that make you feel more attractive, especially on the inside. But I would also suggest that entering in a new relationship with someone is one of the best ways to grow and improve. Instead of thinking about what you should change about yourself in order to gain a relationship, think in the opposite direction. How might a new relationship help you create all those changes? A relationship isn’t an end goal. It’s yet another pathway to long-term growth. We’re all imbalanced beings to one degree or another. That’s perfectly okay. Don’t think of your personality quirks as defects you must repair. Ironically those quirks may be exactly what someone else finds most attractive about you. The nice thing about improving through a relationship (as opposed to improving fora relationship) is that you get to enjoy life with your very best personal coach at your side. Instead of growing to get the relationship, you experience growth because of the relationship. What Attracts You? What qualities do you find naturally attractive in others? See if you can push past the social conditioning about what is supposed to attract you, and get in touch with what really does attract you. For example, I’m not usually attracted to women who are too similar to me personality-wise. I have many confident, left-brained women as friends, but I don’t feel drawn to take those relationships to a deeper level. Those qualities just don’t attract me in that way. On the other hand, I’m naturally attracted to women like Erin who are opposite from me in many ways. If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality types, I’m an ENTJ. Isabel Briggs Myers describes ENTJs as follows: “Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies… Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.” That sounds like me. My opposite on this spectrum would be an ISFP, which is described this way: “Quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind. Enjoy the present moment, what’s going on around them. Like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. Loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. Dislike disagreements and conflicts, do not force their opinions or values on others.” When I read the description of ISFP, I also note that it’s a good description of the types of women I feel most naturally attracted to. Erin isn’t an ISFP, but she does have many ISFP qualities, especially sensitivity and loyalty. (When I asked Erin what type she was, she couldn’t recall, but I remember it wasn’t my exact opposite.) Now if I were to make a list of what I think I desire in a relationship partner, I probably wouldn’t list the qualities of an ISFP or anything close to it. Instead I’d probably write down many of the qualities I already possess, in an attempt to find someone I’d consider highly compatible. However, when I notice how I actually feel about women who possess the qualities I think I want, I typically feel little or no spark of attraction. On the other hand, when I meet women who are ISFPs or close to it, my left-brain might assume they wouldn’t be a good match for me, but meanwhile my own body is signaling very strongly that I’m feeling an instinctual attraction. This played out when Erin and I first met. Initially I wasn’t even thinking about her as a romantic partner. In my mind she wasn’t really my type. I was also dating someone else at the time. But as Erin and I began spending time together, I couldn’t help but feel more and more attracted to her, not logically but biologically. I wasn’t even trying to get into a relationship with her. It just unfolded in a very easy, natural way as a result of that undeniable attraction. To this day I still feel a very strong attraction to her, even though my logical mind can continue to churn out reasons why she really isn’t my type. I’ve seen this in other successful relationships too. Sometimes I look at a couple and wonder how they could possibly stand each other. Their personalities are so different. But those differences somehow complement each other, and their relationship makes them both happy and helps them grow tremendously. I’m suggesting that instead of trying to hunt down and connect with someone who has qualities you think you want in a partner, come at this from the opposite direction. Begin to notice those people you feel naturally attracted to, even if you can’t explain why. Then start listing their qualities. And finally, review your list and ask yourself how someone with those qualities might actually be an incredible partner for you if you got together. Perhaps the reason you feel such an attraction in the first place is that those people possess qualities that will help you grow. I can offer good reasons why women who are quiet, sensitive, loyal, and conflict-avoiding would be poor matches for me as relationship partners. I could spell out the reasons why I’d very much prefer to connect with strong-willed, independent, thick-skinned women. But that doesn’t change what I’m naturally attracted to. As David DeAngelo says, “Attraction is not a choice.” Perhaps this is an area where we simply need to upgrade our logic. Maybe our biological circuitry is working just fine, but we aren’t seeing the big picture. We get too stuck in the social programming of what we’re taught to be attracted to instead of paying attention to the real human beings that we’re naturally attracted to. So instead of choosing partners that we actually want, we get caught up in judgments that cause us to rule them out. “My parents won’t like him.” “He’s too short and too bald.” “She doesn’t have the same hobbies I do.” “My friends would make fun of me if I went out with him.” But what if there’s a reason we seem to be attracted to those people who, on the surface, appear to be wrong for us? Perhaps by mating with our opposites, we create a stronger family unit (even if it doesn’t take the form of a nuclear family). Instead of doubling up on talents and skills you already possess, wouldn’t it be better to enter a relationship with someone who brings something new to the table? Then you collectively cover a lot more bases that way. This is how my relationship with Erin has played out. Because we’re so different, we each bring a wide variety of skills to the table, and our family is better off as a result. Our children also gain two different role models to learn from. Recognizing natural attraction Now here’s where things get interesting. It’s been my experience that when I connect with women I’m naturally attracted to, I can often see clear evidence that the attraction is mutual, even if neither of us are willing to acknowledge that attraction openly. It’s as if there’s a magnetic field pulling us closer to each other. But when our logical minds notice what’s happening, there’s a tendency to resist and try to block it because we’ll reason, “No, this person isn’t my type, so I can’t be feeling attraction right now.” I remember talking about one particular guy with Erin. I said to her, “You two are so much alike. He has all the qualities you say you admire in men. You must find him very attractive. If you wanted to hook up at some point, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. I think you two would be great together.” But Erin said, “I know, but I just don’t feel it. I’m not attracted to him in that way at all.” At first I thought that was strange because this guy has many qualities that Erin has said she wished I possessed… and yet she feels no special attraction to him. She’s telling the truth. When I see them together, I can tell there’s no spark. On the other hand, when Erin tells me which people she’s naturally attracted to, I sometimes laugh. “That guy? Really? How is that even possible?” But it’s equally clear that she’s telling the truth. This works both ways. When I tell Erin about certain women I’m attracted to, she’ll sometimes be surprised. “Really? You like her?” she’ll say. Sometimes she’ll point out why such a person would be a bad match for me, and on a logical level, we’re always in agreement about that. Nevertheless, the attraction remains. When we sense an attraction to someone, it’s so easy to deny how we feel. Our logical minds break through and explain why we’re facing a bad match. She’s overweight — no way. He’s too aggressive – not for me. If I go out with him/her, my friends will think I’m nuts. The problem is that when we turn our backs on those feelings, we’re also turning our backs on truth. The feelings are there, so we might as well accept them, make peace with them, and seek to understand them. Perhaps we should stop denying these natural attractions and see where they lead instead. Maybe it’s better to let go of our judgments and trust our feelings for a change. Do you think other animals rule out potential mates by talking themselves out of the attraction they feel? Does a male gorilla stop himself, “I dunno. She seems kinda hairy. And she doesn’t have the right waist-hip ratio.” Does the female gorilla say, “All that chest pounding and ripping up the grass… Who does he think he is anyway? My parents will never accept him, especially since he isn’t Jewish.” I’ve spent 15 years with a woman I feel naturally attracted to. I often call her by the nickname ”Mate” because that’s how I naturally feel about her. I don’t have to reason why we’re together. It just feels naturally right to me. And so far it’s turned out amazingly well in terms of happiness, mutual growth, and a loving connection. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship with someone for logical reasons — where I convinced myself that it was a good match, but deep down I just didn’t feel that spark of attraction. Creating attraction I know it’s possible to create attraction. You can learn how to do things that will make another person feel attracted to you. There are lots of people teaching how to do that these days. But is this a wise idea? In your gut don’t you sense there’s something not quite right about using tactics and techniques to cause someone to be attracted to you, someone who wouldn’t otherwise find you attractive? I think the answer depends on the circumstances. Are you trying to hide the real you and to project a false image that people are attracted to? Or are you working to eliminate the blocks that prevent your real attractiveness from coming through? I see wisdom in learning how to express ourselves more naturally and authentically. This can lead to relationships that are naturally good for us, that make us happy, and that help us grow. The attraction is genuine. But projecting a false image is the wrong way to go. This leads to relationships rooted in falsehood, denial, and deception. The people we attract won’t be good matches for us, and we won’t enjoy the optimal growth that comes from finding a true mate. Attraction and Truth, Love, and Power Even though your attraction circuitry may seem to operate on a subconscious, biological level, it isn’t there to frustrate you or to derail you. It actually serves a greater purpose by helping you become more aligned with truth, love, and power. First, attraction helps to align you with truth. Attraction teaches you to let go of falsehood and denial and to practice acceptance. Can you talk about your attractions openly, even if it means others might reject your preferences? Are you ashamed of those you find attractive? Or can you accept this part of yourself completely and without judgment? Second, attraction helps you align with love. By exploring your attractions and attractiveness, you’ll learn to connect with what naturally makes you happy. This happiness will inspire all other areas of your life. You also have the opportunity to enjoy one or more loving relationships. And you will have the joyful experience of connecting with a partner who finds you naturally attractive just the way you are. Third, attraction helps you align with power. A relationship rooted in attraction can serve as a pillar of tremendous strength and growth. You’ll learn to stand up for your preferences and to stop apologizing for wanting what you want. When you rail against what naturally attracts you and try to enter a relationship for reasons other than attraction, you throw yourself out of alignment with truth (by practicing non-acceptance), with love (by disconnecting from your feelings), and with power (by settling for a weaker bond). Attraction isn’t the only important factor when it comes to relationships. By all means, consider the logical aspects too. Just take note that a relationship rooted in mutual attraction lays a very strong foundation. Do your best to be true to your feelings instead of trying to reason your way into something that doesn’t feel right to you. Listen to your body more than your social conditioning. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone that your body doesn’t respond to as your natural mate, admit that you made a mistake, and take steps to move on. If you deny your true desires, you’ll be robbing yourself as well as your partner of tremendous opportunities for love, growth, happiness, and yumminess. There is no one person in the world you must find to become your perfect mate. The world is filled with suitable partners for you. But it will be hard to find and attract them if you lead with your logical mind. Let your body and your feelings guide you instead. You can always engage your logical mind after the fact to figure out how you got so damned lucky.   
    788 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Is it true that opposites attract? Or would you be happier in a relationship with someone who is very similar to you? Is attraction something you have to create with another person? Or does it just happen automatically? Have you ever made up a list of qualities your ideal mate should have, but when you finally met such a person, you realized there was no spark? Opposites Attract In many ways Erin and I are total opposites, but we find ourselves naturally attracted to each other. On a logical level, our relationship might seem like a mismatch, but in truth we are very close and very happy together. Erin is very nurturing and motherly. In college she majored in psychology, partly so she could understand people better. She loves to encourage people and help them feel better about themselves. If our kids ever feel bad, she’s always there to cheer them up and help them solve their problems. On the other hand, Erin has a much harder time with qualities like confidence and courage. Sometimes I’ve had to shove her out the door to try something new that would stretch her beyond her comfort zone. When people are mean to her, she is very hurt by it. She has a hard time dealing with unfairness and injustice because she can’t understand why anyone would choose to be cruel to anyone else. Nurturing is not a quality I’d use to describe myself. Trying to be overly nurturing typically makes me nauseous. When other people get emotional around me, I’m more likely to roll my eyes until they get control of themselves. I’m all for abolishing the celebration of birthdays and holidays that include gift-giving because the whole practice seems so fluffy and lame to me. My natural style involves pushing myself and others to grow. Confidence and courage are qualities that come easily to me, and I thrive on fresh challenges. I actually feel uncomfortable when I spend too much time in my comfort zone — it makes me itchy to try something new. Erin is very right-brained and intuitive. She’s an extremely talented psychic mediumand has been developing those skills since childhood. A lot of people are shocked by the stuff she’s able to pick up about them. She’s imaginative and creative and wrote her first novel in only 16 days. She can play piano by ear, a skill our daughter seems to have inherited. Left-brained thinking is much harder for Erin. Helping our daughter with her third-grade math homework is sometimes a stretch for Erin. Erin does a lot of things I feel are borderline ADD like leaving lights on all over the house when there’s no one in those rooms or sometimes leaving cabinet doors and drawers open after she’s retrieved something from them. Often when I go to the kitchen after she’s been there, it looks like a small tornado swept through it. Sheldon Cooper would go kittywompus. Right-brained thinking didn’t come naturally to me. It was something I really had to work hard to develop in my adult years. I thought that intuition was just woo-woo fluff. I found it much easier to understand computers than human beings. I considered most artist/musician types to be lazy, still-living-with-mommy-at-age-30 losers. I could only respect people who could think things through logically. I am much more left-brained. In college I double-majored in computer science and math. I began learning computer programming at age 10 and was naturally good at it. I like to be very organized, and I have a low tolerance for disorder. If you’ve readmy book, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s highly structured and organized in a fluff-free manner. Left-brained people usually love it, while right-brained people are more likely to find it a little rigid for their tastes. On some fundamental dimensions of personality, Erin and I are total opposites. She’s on one end of the spectrum, and I’m on the other end. And yet despite these major differences, we both felt very attracted to each other. Our 15+ years together have been an incredible journey, and we’re really looking forward to what the next 15 will bring. Stimulating Growth I think the reason our relationship has worked so well is that Erin and I are really, really good for each other. She stimulates me to grow and change in ways no one else does, and I do the same for her. When you enter a relationship with someone who’s very different than you, you’re likely to experience a lot of growth and change, assuming there’s a healthy underlying attraction. But when you’re in a relationship with someone who’s just like you, that relationship won’t stimulate nearly as much inner growth. Erin opened me up to a world I didn’t even know existed. The first time we met, we spent two hours discussing lucid dreaming, mostly with me asking questions and her telling me about her experiences. Later she taught me about astral projection, something I was able to explore firsthand that same year. Erin also helped me to get in touch with my heart, to learn to connect with human beings (not just machines), and to think about how I could help others instead of just myself. Early in our relationship, I admitted to Erin that I really didn’t know how to love. Love was an alien concept to me. Her response was, “I will teach you.” There’s no way I’d have written hundreds of free articles to help people grow if not for Erin’s influence. Similarly, when I first met Erin, she was working as a $9/hour secretary. The whole notion of deliberately setting and achieving goals was practically unknown to her. She was fun to be around, but it seemed doubtful that she’d really get anywhere in life on her own. Her biggest dreams were perpetually stuck in the fantasy stage. She lacked confidence and drive and became overly nervous if she was ever called on to perform in some fashion. Just as Erin helped me open my heart and my intuition, I helped her get better at courage, confidence, and left-brained thinking. Looking back it’s pretty amazing how much she’s grown. Even her family has commented on how different she is now. I encouraged Erin to write and to develop her various talents and skills. I pushed her to create an online business (which she later sold), to start a blog, to become a pro psychic medium, to join Toastmasters, to take Tae Kwon Do lessons, to go vegetarian and then vegan, to move to Las Vegas with me, to travel more, and to make lots of other positive changes. Erin and I continue to be excited about our relationship because we can see how good we are for each other. We know that we couldn’t have achieved all these personal growth gains on our own. Every year we continue to enjoy positive changes that naturally arise from how we influence each other on a day-to-day basis.  Attraction In recent years a great deal of material has been created to explain how to attract a relationship partner. Some of it is technique-based, while much of it encourages you to develop the inner qualities a potential partner would find attractive. I do think this material can be helpful for many people, especially since a great deal of it overlaps with general principles of personal development. However, a huge amount of relationship material is rooted in a mindset that I don’t agree with — that you must first change something about yourself in order to become worthy of attracting a really great relationship partner. This mindset pre-supposes that for whatever reason, you aren’t yet capable of attracting that partner in this particular moment. This is a tricky mindset. I won’t say it’s exactly wrong, but I think it’s missing the big picture. Let me offer you an alternative way of thinking about attraction. A while back I wrote an article called Self-Acceptance vs. Personal Growth, which is about how to make positive changes while at the same time accepting yourself just as you are. Don’t begin with the erroneous assumption that you’re somehow defective. This is a good way to think about attraction as well. Attraction occurs very naturally. Instead of learning techniques and “inner game” to become attractive, I think it’s more accurate to say that we need to learn how to stop blocking attraction when it naturally arises. You are already attractive. You just need to realize that and stop blocking yourself from expressing your natural attractiveness. How many animal species hold seminars to teach their members how to attract a mate? They don’t need anything like that because they don’t have our level of social conditioning that tells them they’re ugly and unattractive and need to be repaired before they’re worthy. They just drop for it in the bushes and then go back to foraging. Natural Attraction Instead of trying to diagnose what you need to change or fix about yourself in order to attract a desirable partner, look at it from the opposite perspective. What sort of people do you find naturally attractive? I’m going to suggest that the people you find naturally attractive are the same people that can help stimulate massive positive changes within you. Even if it doesn’t logically seem like a great match, such partners can potentially be very good for you — not always, but quite often. When Erin and I first met, we naturally attracted each other. We didn’t need to use tricks and techniques, and we didn’t need to develop our inner qualities either. We certainly weren’t masters of social dynamics, but it didn’t matter. We allowed the attraction to unfold naturally. And 15 years later, we’re still great matches for each other. Now don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a lot of value to be gained from improving your social skills as well as doing things that make you feel more attractive, especially on the inside. But I would also suggest that entering in a new relationship with someone is one of the best ways to grow and improve. Instead of thinking about what you should change about yourself in order to gain a relationship, think in the opposite direction. How might a new relationship help you create all those changes? A relationship isn’t an end goal. It’s yet another pathway to long-term growth. We’re all imbalanced beings to one degree or another. That’s perfectly okay. Don’t think of your personality quirks as defects you must repair. Ironically those quirks may be exactly what someone else finds most attractive about you. The nice thing about improving through a relationship (as opposed to improving fora relationship) is that you get to enjoy life with your very best personal coach at your side. Instead of growing to get the relationship, you experience growth because of the relationship. What Attracts You? What qualities do you find naturally attractive in others? See if you can push past the social conditioning about what is supposed to attract you, and get in touch with what really does attract you. For example, I’m not usually attracted to women who are too similar to me personality-wise. I have many confident, left-brained women as friends, but I don’t feel drawn to take those relationships to a deeper level. Those qualities just don’t attract me in that way. On the other hand, I’m naturally attracted to women like Erin who are opposite from me in many ways. If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality types, I’m an ENTJ. Isabel Briggs Myers describes ENTJs as follows: “Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies… Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.” That sounds like me. My opposite on this spectrum would be an ISFP, which is described this way: “Quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind. Enjoy the present moment, what’s going on around them. Like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. Loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. Dislike disagreements and conflicts, do not force their opinions or values on others.” When I read the description of ISFP, I also note that it’s a good description of the types of women I feel most naturally attracted to. Erin isn’t an ISFP, but she does have many ISFP qualities, especially sensitivity and loyalty. (When I asked Erin what type she was, she couldn’t recall, but I remember it wasn’t my exact opposite.) Now if I were to make a list of what I think I desire in a relationship partner, I probably wouldn’t list the qualities of an ISFP or anything close to it. Instead I’d probably write down many of the qualities I already possess, in an attempt to find someone I’d consider highly compatible. However, when I notice how I actually feel about women who possess the qualities I think I want, I typically feel little or no spark of attraction. On the other hand, when I meet women who are ISFPs or close to it, my left-brain might assume they wouldn’t be a good match for me, but meanwhile my own body is signaling very strongly that I’m feeling an instinctual attraction. This played out when Erin and I first met. Initially I wasn’t even thinking about her as a romantic partner. In my mind she wasn’t really my type. I was also dating someone else at the time. But as Erin and I began spending time together, I couldn’t help but feel more and more attracted to her, not logically but biologically. I wasn’t even trying to get into a relationship with her. It just unfolded in a very easy, natural way as a result of that undeniable attraction. To this day I still feel a very strong attraction to her, even though my logical mind can continue to churn out reasons why she really isn’t my type. I’ve seen this in other successful relationships too. Sometimes I look at a couple and wonder how they could possibly stand each other. Their personalities are so different. But those differences somehow complement each other, and their relationship makes them both happy and helps them grow tremendously. I’m suggesting that instead of trying to hunt down and connect with someone who has qualities you think you want in a partner, come at this from the opposite direction. Begin to notice those people you feel naturally attracted to, even if you can’t explain why. Then start listing their qualities. And finally, review your list and ask yourself how someone with those qualities might actually be an incredible partner for you if you got together. Perhaps the reason you feel such an attraction in the first place is that those people possess qualities that will help you grow. I can offer good reasons why women who are quiet, sensitive, loyal, and conflict-avoiding would be poor matches for me as relationship partners. I could spell out the reasons why I’d very much prefer to connect with strong-willed, independent, thick-skinned women. But that doesn’t change what I’m naturally attracted to. As David DeAngelo says, “Attraction is not a choice.” Perhaps this is an area where we simply need to upgrade our logic. Maybe our biological circuitry is working just fine, but we aren’t seeing the big picture. We get too stuck in the social programming of what we’re taught to be attracted to instead of paying attention to the real human beings that we’re naturally attracted to. So instead of choosing partners that we actually want, we get caught up in judgments that cause us to rule them out. “My parents won’t like him.” “He’s too short and too bald.” “She doesn’t have the same hobbies I do.” “My friends would make fun of me if I went out with him.” But what if there’s a reason we seem to be attracted to those people who, on the surface, appear to be wrong for us? Perhaps by mating with our opposites, we create a stronger family unit (even if it doesn’t take the form of a nuclear family). Instead of doubling up on talents and skills you already possess, wouldn’t it be better to enter a relationship with someone who brings something new to the table? Then you collectively cover a lot more bases that way. This is how my relationship with Erin has played out. Because we’re so different, we each bring a wide variety of skills to the table, and our family is better off as a result. Our children also gain two different role models to learn from. Recognizing natural attraction Now here’s where things get interesting. It’s been my experience that when I connect with women I’m naturally attracted to, I can often see clear evidence that the attraction is mutual, even if neither of us are willing to acknowledge that attraction openly. It’s as if there’s a magnetic field pulling us closer to each other. But when our logical minds notice what’s happening, there’s a tendency to resist and try to block it because we’ll reason, “No, this person isn’t my type, so I can’t be feeling attraction right now.” I remember talking about one particular guy with Erin. I said to her, “You two are so much alike. He has all the qualities you say you admire in men. You must find him very attractive. If you wanted to hook up at some point, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. I think you two would be great together.” But Erin said, “I know, but I just don’t feel it. I’m not attracted to him in that way at all.” At first I thought that was strange because this guy has many qualities that Erin has said she wished I possessed… and yet she feels no special attraction to him. She’s telling the truth. When I see them together, I can tell there’s no spark. On the other hand, when Erin tells me which people she’s naturally attracted to, I sometimes laugh. “That guy? Really? How is that even possible?” But it’s equally clear that she’s telling the truth. This works both ways. When I tell Erin about certain women I’m attracted to, she’ll sometimes be surprised. “Really? You like her?” she’ll say. Sometimes she’ll point out why such a person would be a bad match for me, and on a logical level, we’re always in agreement about that. Nevertheless, the attraction remains. When we sense an attraction to someone, it’s so easy to deny how we feel. Our logical minds break through and explain why we’re facing a bad match. She’s overweight — no way. He’s too aggressive – not for me. If I go out with him/her, my friends will think I’m nuts. The problem is that when we turn our backs on those feelings, we’re also turning our backs on truth. The feelings are there, so we might as well accept them, make peace with them, and seek to understand them. Perhaps we should stop denying these natural attractions and see where they lead instead. Maybe it’s better to let go of our judgments and trust our feelings for a change. Do you think other animals rule out potential mates by talking themselves out of the attraction they feel? Does a male gorilla stop himself, “I dunno. She seems kinda hairy. And she doesn’t have the right waist-hip ratio.” Does the female gorilla say, “All that chest pounding and ripping up the grass… Who does he think he is anyway? My parents will never accept him, especially since he isn’t Jewish.” I’ve spent 15 years with a woman I feel naturally attracted to. I often call her by the nickname ”Mate” because that’s how I naturally feel about her. I don’t have to reason why we’re together. It just feels naturally right to me. And so far it’s turned out amazingly well in terms of happiness, mutual growth, and a loving connection. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship with someone for logical reasons — where I convinced myself that it was a good match, but deep down I just didn’t feel that spark of attraction. Creating attraction I know it’s possible to create attraction. You can learn how to do things that will make another person feel attracted to you. There are lots of people teaching how to do that these days. But is this a wise idea? In your gut don’t you sense there’s something not quite right about using tactics and techniques to cause someone to be attracted to you, someone who wouldn’t otherwise find you attractive? I think the answer depends on the circumstances. Are you trying to hide the real you and to project a false image that people are attracted to? Or are you working to eliminate the blocks that prevent your real attractiveness from coming through? I see wisdom in learning how to express ourselves more naturally and authentically. This can lead to relationships that are naturally good for us, that make us happy, and that help us grow. The attraction is genuine. But projecting a false image is the wrong way to go. This leads to relationships rooted in falsehood, denial, and deception. The people we attract won’t be good matches for us, and we won’t enjoy the optimal growth that comes from finding a true mate. Attraction and Truth, Love, and Power Even though your attraction circuitry may seem to operate on a subconscious, biological level, it isn’t there to frustrate you or to derail you. It actually serves a greater purpose by helping you become more aligned with truth, love, and power. First, attraction helps to align you with truth. Attraction teaches you to let go of falsehood and denial and to practice acceptance. Can you talk about your attractions openly, even if it means others might reject your preferences? Are you ashamed of those you find attractive? Or can you accept this part of yourself completely and without judgment? Second, attraction helps you align with love. By exploring your attractions and attractiveness, you’ll learn to connect with what naturally makes you happy. This happiness will inspire all other areas of your life. You also have the opportunity to enjoy one or more loving relationships. And you will have the joyful experience of connecting with a partner who finds you naturally attractive just the way you are. Third, attraction helps you align with power. A relationship rooted in attraction can serve as a pillar of tremendous strength and growth. You’ll learn to stand up for your preferences and to stop apologizing for wanting what you want. When you rail against what naturally attracts you and try to enter a relationship for reasons other than attraction, you throw yourself out of alignment with truth (by practicing non-acceptance), with love (by disconnecting from your feelings), and with power (by settling for a weaker bond). Attraction isn’t the only important factor when it comes to relationships. By all means, consider the logical aspects too. Just take note that a relationship rooted in mutual attraction lays a very strong foundation. Do your best to be true to your feelings instead of trying to reason your way into something that doesn’t feel right to you. Listen to your body more than your social conditioning. If you find yourself in a relationship with someone that your body doesn’t respond to as your natural mate, admit that you made a mistake, and take steps to move on. If you deny your true desires, you’ll be robbing yourself as well as your partner of tremendous opportunities for love, growth, happiness, and yumminess. There is no one person in the world you must find to become your perfect mate. The world is filled with suitable partners for you. But it will be hard to find and attract them if you lead with your logical mind. Let your body and your feelings guide you instead. You can always engage your logical mind after the fact to figure out how you got so damned lucky.   
    Jul 12, 2011 788
  • 12 Jul 2011
    This is a follow-up to my last video post on Creating Abundance. In this article I’ll share more detail on how to visualize your new reality so that you become a vibrational match for it. This is an area where people make some critical mistakes when trying to manifest their desires. Slide Into Your New Reality Did you ever see the TV show Sliders? In that show a group of four people would “slide” through a portal between dimensions, spending each episode in an alternate version of earth. For example, they might enter a reality where the Nazis won WWII. Or in another reality one of them might be a famous performer. Another TV show that can give you the right idea is Quantum Leap. In that show a man spent each episode in someone else’s body in an alternative time and place. Imagine you’re a Slider or a Quantum Leaper, and you just slid through a portal into your new desired reality — into that new YOU as well. You’re already there living it. The whole reality already exists in some alternate dimension, and you’re now experiencing it as real. Put yourself in the shoes of that new person. Witness through his/her eyes how s/he goes through a typical day. Imagine that you’re in an episode of Sliders or Quantum Leap. What time do you get up in the morning? Who’s sleeping next to you? Where are you? How do you feel? What do you eat for breakfast? What do you do in the morning, afternoon, and evening? You must imagine yourself as already being there. You want to reach the point where it feels natural and normal to be there. After all, this is your reality, isn’t it? So of course it will feel normal in a way. You’re already used to it. Initially the Sliders/Leapers were freaked out when they entered the new reality. It took them a while to figure it out and understand it. Eventually they got used to it and were able to get things done within that reality. This is what will happen when you visualize a new reality for yourself. At first it may seem like an alien environment. You’ll have to play around with it for a while before you get used to it and it starts to seem normal to you. It’s very important that you push beyond that freak-out phase. You must shift from thinking about your visions as FANTASY to seeing them as REAL. A good movie to watch is Being John Malkovich. That will give you more insight into how to slip into an alternate reality and imagine life through the lens of your new character. Ideally, visualizing your future should be very much the same as remembering your past. Just as you would recall and mentally review what you did yesterday, that’s how you want to imagine your new reality. What are the highlights of your typical day, and how do you feel about them? Notice that emotional memories are much stronger than routine events. Such memories can draw the past back into your present, but they can also draw a powerful future into your present if you create powerful new memories of the future. Partial Visualization One of the most common mistakes people make is that they fall into the trap of doing partial visualizations. They only imagine one or two aspects of their new reality but not the entire big picture. Or they’ll imagine something that makes them feel a certain way, but it wouldn’t actually be a part of their desired reality. For example, you may imagine seeing a pile of cash on your table and counting the bills. A lot of people suggest this exercise as a way of manifesting more money. I think it’s a lame idea though. If you really had financial abundance, would you actually have a pile of cash currency in your home? That seems unlikely. If you were already living it, playing with your money or obsessing over it would be silly and immature. That’s the sort of thing someone would do only if they weren’t already living it. Partial visualizations manifest partial results. You may attract part of what you want, but it will be unstable because you’ve only locked on to some, but not all, of the necessary frequencies required to shift into that new reality. You may be able to visit it briefly, but you won’t be able to stay long. When I was around 24-25 years old, I read the book Think and Grow Rich, and I started doing partial visualization exercises to attract more money into my life. I imagined having about half a million dollars as a pile of cash on my bed. I felt the texture of the bills with my fingers. I saw it as very real and imagined what it would feel like to have that much cash all at once. Sometime after that (I don’t recall how long — a few months maybe), I entered into a new game publishing deal with a total advance of $675,000. I soon received the first installment in the form of a check for $50,000, which was the biggest check I’d ever received at that point in my life. It appeared that my intention had manifested. However, this situation was incredibly unstable. The publisher turned out to be extremely corrupt. First, they screwed up the deal with seemingly insane delays and nonsensical decisions. Then they unilaterally breached our contract. And finally they tried to sue me (unsuccessfully) to recoup the $50K advance. Looking back, it appears that their goal was to tie up my team’s project so that it wouldn’t hit the market… while they had another team developing a potentially competing game. The initial $50K I received was spent on early development for a game that was never released. In the end I was left with a busted project and more debt than when I started. If I could have afforded the legal fees (which I couldn’t at the time), I may have been able to successfully sue them for breach of contract, but that simply wasn’t how I wanted to do business. I wanted to spend my time making games, not giving depositions. Years later this same publisher was publicly exposed for a massive accounting scandal, and the company and several officers were sued by the SEC. If I recall correctly, their CEO was fined $10 million and had to step down. That came as no surprise to me and many other developers who worked with them. Not a good manifestation! Although it seemed promising in the beginning, this attempt to manifest money completely imploded and left me worse off than when I started — aside from learning some very tough lessons, which in retrospect turned out to be quite valuable. I hope you can learn from my mistakes here and not succumb to the trap of partial visualization. In order to manifest your desires, you need to lock on to the total package of frequencies and the full range of emotions that you’ll experience in your new reality. And one of the best ways to do that is to get really, really clear about what you want. Complete Visualization Don’t just visualize one small part of your new reality, such as having more money come to you. Visualize the entire alternate reality you wish to enter, in as much detail as possible. It’s okay to focus on one area of your life at a time. I personally find it rather difficult to visualize a whole new life for myself that covers career, finances, health, relationships, my daily habits, spiritual development, personal development, etc. So I generally focus on one area at a time, but I do my best to make sure it’s congruent with my desires in other areas too. A few years ago I focused on creating financial abundance. Then I worked on social abundance (having lots of friends). Now I’m working on intimacy abundance (creating deeper relationships). All of these parts of my life are working beautifully right now. This process definitely works. Sometimes it works so well it scares me a bit. Career and finances are good areas to visualize together since most people generate income via their careers. Don’t just imagine yourself having more money. Put in some detail about what is sustaining that flow of money. How is it being maintained? My initial attempts to manifest money flopped (or made things worse) because the big picture was incongruent. I was trying to pull money out of thin air, figuring it would come to me like magic. Well, this isn’t magic… not really. Similarly, in the area of social abundance, I didn’t just manifest friends with magic. I had to see the big picture. This required thinking about what kind of friend I’d be. I thought about the kinds of friends I wanted to attract, and then I imagined what kind of friend I’d have to be in order to attract them to me — and to maintain good relationships with them. This made it clear that I had to work on myself too in order to step into that new reality. I had to become a better friend to others so I’d be worthy of those new relationships. I know some people who are working really hard at manifesting new relationships. But all they do is imagine the other person coming to them and loving them. That’s a partial visualization, and it fails consistently. Honestly I don’t think I’ve seen this approach ever really work out. People do attract new partners this way, but the matches aren’t very compatible. Suppose you’re trying to attract a new woman by visualizing her in your life. She’s everything you desire. She’s a perfect match for you and absolutely amazing as a human being. You can’t help but fall in love with that new reality. But will she fall in love with you — realistically? A new reality is something you’re going to make REAL — it’s not a fantasy! If you think your new reality is too good to be true, then well… it is too good to be true. What do you have to offer this woman? She may be YOUR best possible match, but are you HER best match as well, or will she have better options than you? Will she have to compromise her values and settle for less than she’s worth to be with you? Will you really be able to maintain a relationship with someone like that? Are you worthy of her? These questions can hit people like a ton of bricks because they reveal our inadequacies. But we still need to address them. When you visualize your new reality, you must imagine yourself BEING the kind of person who can attract and hold on to all the good stuff you wish to manifest. That means you’re going to have to work on yourself and grow into that kind of person. I know one woman who’s been trying to manifest the perfect relationship for years. She goes on a lot of dates, yet she remains perpetually alone. It’s obvious to me — and to many who know her — why that’s so. The simple reason is that the man she desires wouldn’t find her attractive at all. I can’t even see that being a remote possibility. She’s a kind-hearted person with a successful career, and she doesn’t have a problem getting dates, but her personality is a total mismatch for the kind of man she wants. She doesn’t fathom what such a man would find attractive in a relationship partner, so she lives in denial of the fact that he wouldn’t be attracted to her. So she’s always dating people where there’s no two-way chemistry. If she keeps doing what she’s been doing, she’ll either remain alone indefinitely, or she’ll eventually settle for an unstable connection with someone she doesn’t find attractive or who doesn’t find her attractive. In the area of career and finances, what kind of person will you have to become in order to attract and hold on to the abundance you desire? What will it take to be worthy of that kind of flow? When I was in my 20s, a $50K sum was too much for me to hold on to. I could attract such a sum on rare occasions, but I couldn’t retain it. It would slip through my fingers like water. Eventually I stopped doing partial visualizations and began seeing the big picture. I realized I’d have to become a man who was worthy of abundance. This may mean something different to you, but to me it meant that I would need to be a kind and generous person who created a lot of value for others. That felt congruent to me. If I were a greedy bastard who was all about me-me-me, I’d feel I didn’t deserve that kind of flow. In my visualizations I felt really good about centering my career around service to others, and I could see that this would be consistent with attracting and perpetuating a constant flow of good stuff through my life — money, good health, low stress, loving relationships, fresh opportunities, etc. The total package just made sense to me. I had to work a lot on myself to step into that new vision of me, but it definitely worked. In the past five years, I’ve put out enough free content to fill a couple dozen books. That feels really good to me. And resources flow to me so easily that I simply take it for granted that I can relax and enjoy whatever I want to experience in life. This works because it’s a congruent and stable situation. I use my creativity to put out a lot of value for others, so naturally I receive a lot of value in return. But in order to reach this place, I had to go through many internal shifts to step into this new reality. In the area of social abundance, I do my best to be the kind of friend that’s worthy of having amazing friendships. I support and encourage my friends to pursue their dreams, but I also love to joke around and have fun. Consequently, I attract and maintain relationships with like-minded people. I’m really good at attracting people who are loving life, who enjoy helping people, and who are very encouraging and supportive of me too. And I naturally repel people who wouldn’t make good friends for me. In order to manifest what you desire, the total package must be congruent. There must be harmony between what you’re attracting and what’s attracting you. Too often people fall into the trap of trying to attract something that would naturally repel them, such as trying to manifest a flow of money without creating any value, or trying to attract a loving relationship without becoming a loving and attractive person. This is largely common sense, which many people seem to lose sight of when trying to apply the Law of Attraction. Will a health nut be attracted to a lazy couch potato? Will honest, conscious business people want to do business with someone who creates little value and is in only in it for the money? Will an adventurous growth-seeker be attracted to someone who’s timid and security-minded? Even if these situations were to manifest, they’re unstable and usually won’t work out very well unless there’s a strong attraction in some other area to compensate. Manifestations can occur very RAPIDLY and POWERFULLY once this harmony is achieved. But until that happens, results tend to be minimal or negative. Write It Down Imagining your new reality can be tricky if you try to do it all in your mind. You may find it helpful to sit down and write out what it will be like to experience your new reality, in as much detail as possible. For example, if you want to attract a certain type of person into your life, write out a detailed description of that person. Then you can use that as a guide when visualizing. Another option is to create a vision board by assembling a collection of photos or images (physical or digital) that helps you imagine the big picture. I recently stumbled upon an old journal entry where I wrote out several pages describing in detail what I wanted to experience in life. My life at the time was nowhere close to that reality. I put an incredible amount of detail into it, even including personality descriptions and physical attributes of imagined people, such as how tall they were or that they wore contact lenses or were left- or right-handed. What really freaked me out is that there is now a person in my reality who matches someone I described about 95% accurately. This person was not on my radar at all when I wrote this journal entry. I wrote it in February 2001. My life was in a completely different place back then. Most of what I wrote about back then has already manifested. I’m now living it. Other parts of my reality have shifted so much that parts of my vision that seemed so far away are not nearly so distant now. I can actually see steps that would make more of them possible and realistic. The big picture is sliding towards me. I was talking with Erin about this last week, and she asked me, “Why did you put that kind of detail into it? Why did it matter to you that an imaginary person was near-sighted?” My best answer is that I found that a copious level of detail made it easier to see it as real. The vision became more believable. If the new reality is to become real, the people within it must be real too, not imaginary archetypes. Real people have height and weight. They may be near-sighted or left-handed. They may have pimples or unshaven faces. They wear certain types of clothes. They have unique personalities. If you suddenly slid into your new reality, you would instantly observe all of that detail. It would be right in front of you. So put it in front of you now. Create it in your imagination. Clarity creates believability, which gives rise to stronger, crisper vibrations than fogginess. It takes practice to get good at this, but the more you practice, the richer and more vivid your visualizations will become. That richness makes it easier to lock on to the new emotional states you’re aiming to create.
    677 Posted by UniqueThis
  • This is a follow-up to my last video post on Creating Abundance. In this article I’ll share more detail on how to visualize your new reality so that you become a vibrational match for it. This is an area where people make some critical mistakes when trying to manifest their desires. Slide Into Your New Reality Did you ever see the TV show Sliders? In that show a group of four people would “slide” through a portal between dimensions, spending each episode in an alternate version of earth. For example, they might enter a reality where the Nazis won WWII. Or in another reality one of them might be a famous performer. Another TV show that can give you the right idea is Quantum Leap. In that show a man spent each episode in someone else’s body in an alternative time and place. Imagine you’re a Slider or a Quantum Leaper, and you just slid through a portal into your new desired reality — into that new YOU as well. You’re already there living it. The whole reality already exists in some alternate dimension, and you’re now experiencing it as real. Put yourself in the shoes of that new person. Witness through his/her eyes how s/he goes through a typical day. Imagine that you’re in an episode of Sliders or Quantum Leap. What time do you get up in the morning? Who’s sleeping next to you? Where are you? How do you feel? What do you eat for breakfast? What do you do in the morning, afternoon, and evening? You must imagine yourself as already being there. You want to reach the point where it feels natural and normal to be there. After all, this is your reality, isn’t it? So of course it will feel normal in a way. You’re already used to it. Initially the Sliders/Leapers were freaked out when they entered the new reality. It took them a while to figure it out and understand it. Eventually they got used to it and were able to get things done within that reality. This is what will happen when you visualize a new reality for yourself. At first it may seem like an alien environment. You’ll have to play around with it for a while before you get used to it and it starts to seem normal to you. It’s very important that you push beyond that freak-out phase. You must shift from thinking about your visions as FANTASY to seeing them as REAL. A good movie to watch is Being John Malkovich. That will give you more insight into how to slip into an alternate reality and imagine life through the lens of your new character. Ideally, visualizing your future should be very much the same as remembering your past. Just as you would recall and mentally review what you did yesterday, that’s how you want to imagine your new reality. What are the highlights of your typical day, and how do you feel about them? Notice that emotional memories are much stronger than routine events. Such memories can draw the past back into your present, but they can also draw a powerful future into your present if you create powerful new memories of the future. Partial Visualization One of the most common mistakes people make is that they fall into the trap of doing partial visualizations. They only imagine one or two aspects of their new reality but not the entire big picture. Or they’ll imagine something that makes them feel a certain way, but it wouldn’t actually be a part of their desired reality. For example, you may imagine seeing a pile of cash on your table and counting the bills. A lot of people suggest this exercise as a way of manifesting more money. I think it’s a lame idea though. If you really had financial abundance, would you actually have a pile of cash currency in your home? That seems unlikely. If you were already living it, playing with your money or obsessing over it would be silly and immature. That’s the sort of thing someone would do only if they weren’t already living it. Partial visualizations manifest partial results. You may attract part of what you want, but it will be unstable because you’ve only locked on to some, but not all, of the necessary frequencies required to shift into that new reality. You may be able to visit it briefly, but you won’t be able to stay long. When I was around 24-25 years old, I read the book Think and Grow Rich, and I started doing partial visualization exercises to attract more money into my life. I imagined having about half a million dollars as a pile of cash on my bed. I felt the texture of the bills with my fingers. I saw it as very real and imagined what it would feel like to have that much cash all at once. Sometime after that (I don’t recall how long — a few months maybe), I entered into a new game publishing deal with a total advance of $675,000. I soon received the first installment in the form of a check for $50,000, which was the biggest check I’d ever received at that point in my life. It appeared that my intention had manifested. However, this situation was incredibly unstable. The publisher turned out to be extremely corrupt. First, they screwed up the deal with seemingly insane delays and nonsensical decisions. Then they unilaterally breached our contract. And finally they tried to sue me (unsuccessfully) to recoup the $50K advance. Looking back, it appears that their goal was to tie up my team’s project so that it wouldn’t hit the market… while they had another team developing a potentially competing game. The initial $50K I received was spent on early development for a game that was never released. In the end I was left with a busted project and more debt than when I started. If I could have afforded the legal fees (which I couldn’t at the time), I may have been able to successfully sue them for breach of contract, but that simply wasn’t how I wanted to do business. I wanted to spend my time making games, not giving depositions. Years later this same publisher was publicly exposed for a massive accounting scandal, and the company and several officers were sued by the SEC. If I recall correctly, their CEO was fined $10 million and had to step down. That came as no surprise to me and many other developers who worked with them. Not a good manifestation! Although it seemed promising in the beginning, this attempt to manifest money completely imploded and left me worse off than when I started — aside from learning some very tough lessons, which in retrospect turned out to be quite valuable. I hope you can learn from my mistakes here and not succumb to the trap of partial visualization. In order to manifest your desires, you need to lock on to the total package of frequencies and the full range of emotions that you’ll experience in your new reality. And one of the best ways to do that is to get really, really clear about what you want. Complete Visualization Don’t just visualize one small part of your new reality, such as having more money come to you. Visualize the entire alternate reality you wish to enter, in as much detail as possible. It’s okay to focus on one area of your life at a time. I personally find it rather difficult to visualize a whole new life for myself that covers career, finances, health, relationships, my daily habits, spiritual development, personal development, etc. So I generally focus on one area at a time, but I do my best to make sure it’s congruent with my desires in other areas too. A few years ago I focused on creating financial abundance. Then I worked on social abundance (having lots of friends). Now I’m working on intimacy abundance (creating deeper relationships). All of these parts of my life are working beautifully right now. This process definitely works. Sometimes it works so well it scares me a bit. Career and finances are good areas to visualize together since most people generate income via their careers. Don’t just imagine yourself having more money. Put in some detail about what is sustaining that flow of money. How is it being maintained? My initial attempts to manifest money flopped (or made things worse) because the big picture was incongruent. I was trying to pull money out of thin air, figuring it would come to me like magic. Well, this isn’t magic… not really. Similarly, in the area of social abundance, I didn’t just manifest friends with magic. I had to see the big picture. This required thinking about what kind of friend I’d be. I thought about the kinds of friends I wanted to attract, and then I imagined what kind of friend I’d have to be in order to attract them to me — and to maintain good relationships with them. This made it clear that I had to work on myself too in order to step into that new reality. I had to become a better friend to others so I’d be worthy of those new relationships. I know some people who are working really hard at manifesting new relationships. But all they do is imagine the other person coming to them and loving them. That’s a partial visualization, and it fails consistently. Honestly I don’t think I’ve seen this approach ever really work out. People do attract new partners this way, but the matches aren’t very compatible. Suppose you’re trying to attract a new woman by visualizing her in your life. She’s everything you desire. She’s a perfect match for you and absolutely amazing as a human being. You can’t help but fall in love with that new reality. But will she fall in love with you — realistically? A new reality is something you’re going to make REAL — it’s not a fantasy! If you think your new reality is too good to be true, then well… it is too good to be true. What do you have to offer this woman? She may be YOUR best possible match, but are you HER best match as well, or will she have better options than you? Will she have to compromise her values and settle for less than she’s worth to be with you? Will you really be able to maintain a relationship with someone like that? Are you worthy of her? These questions can hit people like a ton of bricks because they reveal our inadequacies. But we still need to address them. When you visualize your new reality, you must imagine yourself BEING the kind of person who can attract and hold on to all the good stuff you wish to manifest. That means you’re going to have to work on yourself and grow into that kind of person. I know one woman who’s been trying to manifest the perfect relationship for years. She goes on a lot of dates, yet she remains perpetually alone. It’s obvious to me — and to many who know her — why that’s so. The simple reason is that the man she desires wouldn’t find her attractive at all. I can’t even see that being a remote possibility. She’s a kind-hearted person with a successful career, and she doesn’t have a problem getting dates, but her personality is a total mismatch for the kind of man she wants. She doesn’t fathom what such a man would find attractive in a relationship partner, so she lives in denial of the fact that he wouldn’t be attracted to her. So she’s always dating people where there’s no two-way chemistry. If she keeps doing what she’s been doing, she’ll either remain alone indefinitely, or she’ll eventually settle for an unstable connection with someone she doesn’t find attractive or who doesn’t find her attractive. In the area of career and finances, what kind of person will you have to become in order to attract and hold on to the abundance you desire? What will it take to be worthy of that kind of flow? When I was in my 20s, a $50K sum was too much for me to hold on to. I could attract such a sum on rare occasions, but I couldn’t retain it. It would slip through my fingers like water. Eventually I stopped doing partial visualizations and began seeing the big picture. I realized I’d have to become a man who was worthy of abundance. This may mean something different to you, but to me it meant that I would need to be a kind and generous person who created a lot of value for others. That felt congruent to me. If I were a greedy bastard who was all about me-me-me, I’d feel I didn’t deserve that kind of flow. In my visualizations I felt really good about centering my career around service to others, and I could see that this would be consistent with attracting and perpetuating a constant flow of good stuff through my life — money, good health, low stress, loving relationships, fresh opportunities, etc. The total package just made sense to me. I had to work a lot on myself to step into that new vision of me, but it definitely worked. In the past five years, I’ve put out enough free content to fill a couple dozen books. That feels really good to me. And resources flow to me so easily that I simply take it for granted that I can relax and enjoy whatever I want to experience in life. This works because it’s a congruent and stable situation. I use my creativity to put out a lot of value for others, so naturally I receive a lot of value in return. But in order to reach this place, I had to go through many internal shifts to step into this new reality. In the area of social abundance, I do my best to be the kind of friend that’s worthy of having amazing friendships. I support and encourage my friends to pursue their dreams, but I also love to joke around and have fun. Consequently, I attract and maintain relationships with like-minded people. I’m really good at attracting people who are loving life, who enjoy helping people, and who are very encouraging and supportive of me too. And I naturally repel people who wouldn’t make good friends for me. In order to manifest what you desire, the total package must be congruent. There must be harmony between what you’re attracting and what’s attracting you. Too often people fall into the trap of trying to attract something that would naturally repel them, such as trying to manifest a flow of money without creating any value, or trying to attract a loving relationship without becoming a loving and attractive person. This is largely common sense, which many people seem to lose sight of when trying to apply the Law of Attraction. Will a health nut be attracted to a lazy couch potato? Will honest, conscious business people want to do business with someone who creates little value and is in only in it for the money? Will an adventurous growth-seeker be attracted to someone who’s timid and security-minded? Even if these situations were to manifest, they’re unstable and usually won’t work out very well unless there’s a strong attraction in some other area to compensate. Manifestations can occur very RAPIDLY and POWERFULLY once this harmony is achieved. But until that happens, results tend to be minimal or negative. Write It Down Imagining your new reality can be tricky if you try to do it all in your mind. You may find it helpful to sit down and write out what it will be like to experience your new reality, in as much detail as possible. For example, if you want to attract a certain type of person into your life, write out a detailed description of that person. Then you can use that as a guide when visualizing. Another option is to create a vision board by assembling a collection of photos or images (physical or digital) that helps you imagine the big picture. I recently stumbled upon an old journal entry where I wrote out several pages describing in detail what I wanted to experience in life. My life at the time was nowhere close to that reality. I put an incredible amount of detail into it, even including personality descriptions and physical attributes of imagined people, such as how tall they were or that they wore contact lenses or were left- or right-handed. What really freaked me out is that there is now a person in my reality who matches someone I described about 95% accurately. This person was not on my radar at all when I wrote this journal entry. I wrote it in February 2001. My life was in a completely different place back then. Most of what I wrote about back then has already manifested. I’m now living it. Other parts of my reality have shifted so much that parts of my vision that seemed so far away are not nearly so distant now. I can actually see steps that would make more of them possible and realistic. The big picture is sliding towards me. I was talking with Erin about this last week, and she asked me, “Why did you put that kind of detail into it? Why did it matter to you that an imaginary person was near-sighted?” My best answer is that I found that a copious level of detail made it easier to see it as real. The vision became more believable. If the new reality is to become real, the people within it must be real too, not imaginary archetypes. Real people have height and weight. They may be near-sighted or left-handed. They may have pimples or unshaven faces. They wear certain types of clothes. They have unique personalities. If you suddenly slid into your new reality, you would instantly observe all of that detail. It would be right in front of you. So put it in front of you now. Create it in your imagination. Clarity creates believability, which gives rise to stronger, crisper vibrations than fogginess. It takes practice to get good at this, but the more you practice, the richer and more vivid your visualizations will become. That richness makes it easier to lock on to the new emotional states you’re aiming to create.
    Jul 12, 2011 677
  • 12 Jul 2011
    One of the cool things about the abundance mindset (or the abundance vibe to be more accurate) is that you once you figure out how to lock into that state in one part of your life, you can use what you’ve learned to expand it to other parts of your life. For example, suppose you’re already enjoying a great deal of social abundance. Maybe you have a lot of good friends, and you’re able to make new friends easily whenever you want. You always have people to hang out with whenever you want. In this part of your life, you’ve already achieved abundance. And now suppose you’re struggling in the area of finances. Maybe you’re in debt, and paying your bills is a burden. Perhaps you have a hard time generating income consistently. Or you feel compelled to take on jobs you dislike to make enough money. In this part of your life, you’re still stuck with scarcity. You can apply what you’ve learned in the abundant part of your life to rework the scarcity-driven part of your life and gradually raise it up to a level of abundance. Abundance and scarcity are simply different patterns of relationships. You may have one type of relationship with your social life and another type of relationship with your finances. You may have one relationship with your work and another relationship with your health. Your relationship lessons can be generalized and transplanted. Just as you can use lessons applied from one human relationship to help you improve another human relationship, you can also apply your internal relationship lessons across different areas of your life. I recommend that you explore in writing (such as through journaling) how you think and feel about the most abundant part of your life. Where are you getting the best results? What’s your attitude toward that part of life? How do you feel about it? What kinds of actions to you take in that area? How do you relate to this part of your life? How are you managing this particular relationship, and how is it responding? How do you deal with success in this area? How do you handle setbacks? How do you keep the flow going? Do you have help, or do you manage it alone? Are you active or passive? How did you create these results in this part of your life in the first place? Then do the same for the part of your life where you’re experiencing scarcity. Ask and answer the same types of questions. Aim to get a clearer sense for how you’re managing each of these relationships. Compare and contrast your answers. I’ll bet you probably notice some major differences between how you relate to different parts of your life. Now consider how you can apply what’s working from your most positive internal relationships to your most negative ones. What can you do differently? What type of vibe is working best for you? How shall you approach the scarcity-driven parts of your life such that you can bring more abundance to them? This approach has done wonders for me. First I worked on financial abundance. Then I used those lessons to achieve time abundance. Next I achieved social abundance. And lately I’ve been exploring intimacy abundance. The general high-level pattern is essentially the same each time. It starts with creating and holding the right vibe (as explained in detail in this video). Another step involves releasing fear and letting go of attachment to outcomes, putting myself in a place of knowing that I can have whatever I desire. Then I have to work through various blocks and limiting beliefs that are keeping me stuck at the old vibration. And finally, I need to courageously receive the new level of abundance, which invariably requires stepping outside my comfort zone. For me this process usually plays out over a matter of months, maybe a couple of years max. The main limiting factors are how long it takes me to identify and release limiting beliefs and how long it takes me to summon the courage needed to leave my comfort zone behind and receive something new. Another tip that can accelerate your progress significantly is to bring people into your social circle who are already enjoying abundance in the area of life in which you’d like to experience abundance too. So if you want more friends in your life, for example, start hanging out with the most socially abundant people you know. Their vibe will soon rub off on you, and you’ll slide into that new reality faster. Try this for yourself, and be patient. Enjoy the journey of moving from scarcity to abundance, but don’t think you have to get there overnight.
    720 Posted by UniqueThis
  • One of the cool things about the abundance mindset (or the abundance vibe to be more accurate) is that you once you figure out how to lock into that state in one part of your life, you can use what you’ve learned to expand it to other parts of your life. For example, suppose you’re already enjoying a great deal of social abundance. Maybe you have a lot of good friends, and you’re able to make new friends easily whenever you want. You always have people to hang out with whenever you want. In this part of your life, you’ve already achieved abundance. And now suppose you’re struggling in the area of finances. Maybe you’re in debt, and paying your bills is a burden. Perhaps you have a hard time generating income consistently. Or you feel compelled to take on jobs you dislike to make enough money. In this part of your life, you’re still stuck with scarcity. You can apply what you’ve learned in the abundant part of your life to rework the scarcity-driven part of your life and gradually raise it up to a level of abundance. Abundance and scarcity are simply different patterns of relationships. You may have one type of relationship with your social life and another type of relationship with your finances. You may have one relationship with your work and another relationship with your health. Your relationship lessons can be generalized and transplanted. Just as you can use lessons applied from one human relationship to help you improve another human relationship, you can also apply your internal relationship lessons across different areas of your life. I recommend that you explore in writing (such as through journaling) how you think and feel about the most abundant part of your life. Where are you getting the best results? What’s your attitude toward that part of life? How do you feel about it? What kinds of actions to you take in that area? How do you relate to this part of your life? How are you managing this particular relationship, and how is it responding? How do you deal with success in this area? How do you handle setbacks? How do you keep the flow going? Do you have help, or do you manage it alone? Are you active or passive? How did you create these results in this part of your life in the first place? Then do the same for the part of your life where you’re experiencing scarcity. Ask and answer the same types of questions. Aim to get a clearer sense for how you’re managing each of these relationships. Compare and contrast your answers. I’ll bet you probably notice some major differences between how you relate to different parts of your life. Now consider how you can apply what’s working from your most positive internal relationships to your most negative ones. What can you do differently? What type of vibe is working best for you? How shall you approach the scarcity-driven parts of your life such that you can bring more abundance to them? This approach has done wonders for me. First I worked on financial abundance. Then I used those lessons to achieve time abundance. Next I achieved social abundance. And lately I’ve been exploring intimacy abundance. The general high-level pattern is essentially the same each time. It starts with creating and holding the right vibe (as explained in detail in this video). Another step involves releasing fear and letting go of attachment to outcomes, putting myself in a place of knowing that I can have whatever I desire. Then I have to work through various blocks and limiting beliefs that are keeping me stuck at the old vibration. And finally, I need to courageously receive the new level of abundance, which invariably requires stepping outside my comfort zone. For me this process usually plays out over a matter of months, maybe a couple of years max. The main limiting factors are how long it takes me to identify and release limiting beliefs and how long it takes me to summon the courage needed to leave my comfort zone behind and receive something new. Another tip that can accelerate your progress significantly is to bring people into your social circle who are already enjoying abundance in the area of life in which you’d like to experience abundance too. So if you want more friends in your life, for example, start hanging out with the most socially abundant people you know. Their vibe will soon rub off on you, and you’ll slide into that new reality faster. Try this for yourself, and be patient. Enjoy the journey of moving from scarcity to abundance, but don’t think you have to get there overnight.
    Jul 12, 2011 720
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Happy New Year! Around this time of year, I like to decide upon a primary focus for the upcoming year. I’ve held to this practice for several years now, and it’s never failed to stimulate major breakthroughs within the area of focus. I like to blog about my annual focus publicly because it helps solidify my commitment, and I’ve also learned that many of my readers enjoy having a preview of things to come. In 2008 my focus was health, and I became a raw foodist that year, which has yielded many benefits. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had so much as a cold now; eating raw certainly does wonders for the immune system. I still eat cooked food on occasion, mainly for social convenience, but I keep returning to raw foods as my default. Although it was a significant challenge to convert to this diet, it’s rather easy to maintain it now. In 2009 my focus was intimate relationships. Since other people were involved, and it was important to protect their privacy, I didn’t blog about my explorations in much detail, but suffice it to say that I experienced some major shifts during that year. The most obvious result was my separation from Erin in October, which helped us move beyond a major impasse in our relationship. I realize that many people see that as a negative, but the end result has been extremely positive. That was a pretty intense year, and I’m very grateful for how it turned out. After spending two years back to back with a primary focus that was largely personal, this year I desire to create more balance between my personal growth and my professional growth. So I’ve decided to choose one primary focus for my business and another focus for my personal life. Going Direct My major professional aim this year is to shift my business to a direct sales revenue model. Currently my business generates most of its income from commissions on third-party sales, including joint venture and affiliate deals. Some people have a hard time understanding how I could be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from StevePavlina.com, especially since I don’t sell any advertising. They may be surprised to learn that my site typically generates around $100,000 in sales per month, and I receive healthy commissions on those sales. This income is largely passive for me and is very easy to maintain. This has been a very lucrative business model for me for the past few years and continues to run smoothly. However, I perceive it to be a dead end for me. One problem is that I’m extremely selective about which products I’ll recommend. So I typically have to evaluate dozens of different products just to find one that meets my criteria for a personal recommendation. I also check out the product publisher to make sure they take excellent care of their customers. This work can be rather tedious. The worst part is when I spend many hours evaluating a promising product, and in the end I conclude that I can’t strongly recommend it because of one flaw or another. Another problem is when I find a product I can recommend wholeheartedly, and for whatever reason, it just doesn’t sell as well as I hoped. Sometimes otherwise great products are just a mismatch for my particular audience. Fortunately the hits more than make up for the few bombs, and due to the risk-free way these deals are structured, I never have to risk losing money. However, I can lose a great deal of time on a mediocre deal, so I have to consider the opportunity cost of that. Yet another factor is that this business model no longer excites me. It’s a bit too boring for my tastes. One of the reasons I became an entrepreneur in the first place is that I love risk and excitement. I don’t derive much excitement from doing risk-free deals where the results always seem to fall within a predictable range. If I want to increase my income with this business model, I have to recommend more products. Every time I recommend a new product, my income goes up, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently, depending on the longevity of that particular offer. But because I’m so selective in what I’m willing to recommend, I’m unwilling to do what it takes to increase my income significantly, such as recommending marginal products I don’t feel good about. On many occasions publishers have given me some very juicy offers to do just that, but I always decline. And finally, this business model doesn’t align well enough with my desire for creative self-expression. I feel there are better ways to use my time than reviewing other people’s products and services in an attempt to find the few gems that would appeal to my readers. I also know that there’s plenty of demand for new products and services that I can create myself. I suspect that once I get a certain flow going, I’ll be able to create a new product in less time than it takes me to find one to recommend. So my primary goal for 2010 is to shift my business to a direct sales model. I may still recommend high quality products from trusted sources that come my way, but I don’t intend to evaluate tons of products just to find new ones to recommend. I’ve known this transition was coming for a while, and I’ve blogged about it previously, so I’ve already been taking steps in that direction. For starters, I’m generating direct sales for the Conscious Growth Workshops. I plan to hold 3-4 of these workshops in 2010. The next one is January 15-17, and then most likely we’ll have one in the Spring (probably April or May), one in the Fall (September or October), and maybe one in the Summer too. Based on the current sign-up rate, I estimate that these workshops will generate an extra $150-200K in revenue in 2010. Of course there are expenses like the costs for the hotel ballrooms and some staff and materials, but since I can promote the workshops for free via my blog andnewsletter, this is a good step towards a more direct business model. I also happen to love doing live workshops, and based on the results of the first one, it’s clear they’re highly beneficial for attendees as well. If the workshops become a bit more popular, I can spin off more workshops to go deeper into certain topics. For example, I’d like to have a Conscious Career Development Workshop, a Conscious Wealth Workshop, and a Conscious Relationships Workshop. In order to make this business model work effectively though, the most important shift I’ll have to make will be to build out my own product line. I already have my book, so that’s a good start. And the 8-DVD set for the Conscious Growth Workshop is still in production and will be released as soon as it’s ready (no specific ETA on that just yet). Beyond that I have an endless supply of new product ideas. At this time I favor a self-publishing model as opposed to working with outside publishers. That’s how I ran my computer games business for years, so I’m already familiar with that model. It works quite well. I may still work with some publishers, but that won’t be the core of my business model. I suppose my main challenge this year is going to be taking all the micro-steps to make this actually happen. It may sound like it’s not that big of a shift on the surface, but for me personally it’s a major change. It requires refactoring my entire workflow for starters. It’s one thing to write a book or deliver a workshop one time. It’s quite another thing to set up structured processes and systems for creating and releasing new products and services repeatedly as part of the normal course of business. I suspect that making all the necessary shifts in my personal work habits is going to be the most difficult part of this transition for me. So what effect will this have on my blogging? I doubt it will have a significant impact because most of this transitional work will take place behind the scenes. However, I’ll likely blog about topics related to this transition that could benefit others, such as setting up business processes, how to succeed with a direct sales business model (already did that with my games biz), habit change, streamlining workflow, boosting productivity, boosting income, etc. My overall goal here is that by the 4th quarter of 2010, I am generating most of my business revenue from direct sales. In terms of the means to get there, my most important aim is to establish good habits and systems that have me consistently producing and releasing high-quality products that help people grow. This is more important to me than creating any specific number of products this year. If I end the year with good habits and systems in place for the long-term, I’ll be immensely delighted. I expect that I’ll still be generating indirect revenue for many years to come, especially since it takes very little to maintain those revenue streams. I have no problem with that. But for me the path of growth for the future (and the path with a heart) is to build and release my own products on a variety of topics. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to make this transition to a direct sales model, and this is the year it’s happening. So this is my primary business focus for 2010. It will be a lot of work, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Alternative Relationship Styles Next I’ll share my personal focus for the year, which is going to take us in a completely different direction, but I need to share some transitional background info first, so you can understand where I’m coming from. After Erin and I separated, it took a while to adjust to life as a single guy once again. I hadn’t been single since 1994, so it’s been a long time. Being single today, however, isn’t remotely the same as what it was like at age 22. Back then I was fresh out of college. I’m just not the same person I was at that time, so I can’t simply recall what it was like the last time I was single and return to those habits. Otherwise I’d be eating way too much Taco Bell.  The rest of the world has changed dramatically as well. For starters the Internet was a lot smaller back then. As I think about my social life and relationships going forward, I feel very grateful. We have such amazing social resources available to us today, and they’re constantly improving. The last time I was single, I didn’t have access to smart phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Back then I thought 3-way calling was a pretty cool technology, especially when planning the next poker game with my friends. And instead of the Internet, I mostly used a local dial-up BBS. No high-speed access was available either — it was all dial-up with a modem. And I had only a desktop computer, no laptop. I had email, as did all my geek friends, but most other people didn’t. And of course there were no blogs to speak of. It’s truly amazing to have 24/7 web access in the palm of my hand these days. I feel socially and technologically spoiled compared to how things use to be. A lot has changed in the past 16 years. I’m also in a very different situation socially than I was at age 22. Back then I mostly connected with a small number of local friends. Now I have more friends than I can keep track of, located all around the world, not to mention a hugely popular website. I have a constant flow of new people coming into my life, and that’s going to continue indefinitely. You could say that socially, I have a very unfair advantage compared to most people, and I’d be inclined to agree. All of these factors taken together have me feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options available to me socially. When I thought about where I wanted to go next in my relationship life, I honestly didn’t have a clue. You could ask me each week, and I’d give you a different answer. I know that a few of my friends found it amusing to watch me stumble my way forward during the past few months. I felt a bit foolish proclaiming I’d figured out what I wanted to do next, only to reverse course a few days later. I was flapping around like a Twitter bird with its head cut off. Unfortunately it isn’t very healthy for me to remain stuck in the space of not knowing what I want in this part of my life. I’m at too great a risk of being outgoaled, meaning that someone else — or outside circumstances in general — will eventually decide for me. When I noticed that was starting to happen and that I was heading in a new social/relationship direction that didn’t feel quite right to me, I decided I’d better back off from further explorations until I could create more clarity. So for a short time, I actively held the intention “Back off, people! Please keep all women away from me!” to give myself some space to ponder what I wanted to explore next. During that time, I solicited advice from a number of close friends, asking them, “What would you do now if you were me?” People loved being asked that question, and it generated some interesting responses. Some suggested that I sign up for match.com and start dating a lot. Others said, “Go out and f— as many women as you can. Live it up!” And still others had totally different ideas about what I should do next. While these answers didn’t surprise me, none of them felt right to me. In fact, each possibility seemed utterly boring and pointless. The thought of dating or having casual sex seemed only slightly more interesting than doing my dishes. How could it be that with all this freedom and all these options available to me, none of them really excited me? Even the thought of going out and having sex with different women did nothing for me. My reaction was, “Eh… why bother?” It seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I certainly enjoy sex, but to pursue it as a goal unto itself was more of a turn-off than a turn-on. It was as if someone suggested I take up drinking as a hobby. Some of my friends seemed really excited on my behalf at the thought of me going out and enjoying more sex partners, and they jokingly teased me about what a fun ride I’d be in for. But I didn’t share their excitement, and I had to ask myself why. Why were others able to get more excited about that idea than I was? I know I like sex, so why doesn’t this excite me? I had to ask myself if maybe on some level, I was afraid to pursue that course. Is it possible I was pretending that I didn’t want it, so I wouldn’t have to push myself beyond my comfort zone? That’s a common problem in personal growth. If we fear a certain path, we pretend we don’t want it, even though we wish we had the courage to pursue it. But no, I couldn’t see any evidence that fear was holding me back. In fact, the real problem turned out to be just the opposite. Eventually I realized that the problem wasn’t that this pursuit took too much courage but rather that it took too little. It seemed too easy for me, and because it was too easy, it felt utterly pointless. It might have been a challenging goal to pursue in my early 20s, but today the idea has no bite. It’s too bland and too boring and too vanilla for me. I need a much bigger challenge. Only way I can be satisfied.  I realized that something that’s been missing from my relationship life for way too long was the intensity. I thrive on intense experiences. For example, I have to run a business because a regular job would leave me bored to tears. I couldn’t handle getting the same paycheck month after month. I need the risk and excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next. It was this same need for intensity that got me addicted to shoplifting when I was a teenager. It was also this same drive that enabled me to go through college in only three semesters. It’s a very powerful part of my psyche, one that’s been relegated to the back burner for far too long. In 2009 I explored intimacy in great depth. But in 2010 I’m going to explore the intensity side. I’m going to explore different ways of relating to women that truly excite me, and that definitely isn’t the path of a traditional dating or relationship style. I want to try new things that are big enough to scare me and thrill me at the same time. The thought of doing anything that would be considered “normal” in terms of relationships makes me nauseous. This includes regular dating, having sex, having a girlfriend, or getting married again. I don’t judge other people who thrive on those forms of connection though. If that’s your cup of tea and you’re happy with it, I’m truly delighted for you. At various times those patterns were my delight as well, but if I were to revisit them now, I’d feel like I was living a rerun. For whatever reason, I can’t derive any further joy from such pursuits, at least not at this time in my life. It would be like eating jicama for every meal, which is the most boring food I can imagine. One of the key lessons I learned in 2009 was to stop trying to label my relationships. Once I let go of the labels, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me. I realized that I had a lot more freedom in terms of relating to people than I previously assumed. I’m not stuck with such limited frames as date, girlfriend, wife, friend, lover, etc. Now let’s get more specific… What’s a relationship style that really does excite me? If you’re a very religious or judgmental person (is that redundant?), this is the point where you should stop reading. Otherwise you might have to go to confession or something. Continuing to read this could lead to impure thoughts. A general rule of thumb is that if you’re going to dabble in alternative relationship styles, then you want to make sure that your explorations are safe, sane, and consensual. As long as all parties involved are willing and able and are staying safe, then psychologically speaking, the exploration is just as valid and healthy as any other relationship style. The main risk is that the rest of society may judge you harshly, but if you can handle that, then the door is wide open. I began exploring some of those other possibilities, initially by reading about what else was out there and by talking to friends who have very non-traditional relationship lives. And I came upon something that excited me greatly and that I was eager to explore. It falls loosely within the scope of BDSM. BDSM is a complex acronym. The BD stands for bondage and discipline. The DS stands for domination and submission. And the SM stands for sadism and masochism. These methods of relating to a partner can be sexual, but they don’t have to involve sex at all. They’re basically ways of stimulating intense feelings and sensations. B/D doesn’t really do much for me. I dabbled with that a little in my early 20s. It was fun at times and certainly spiced up some sexual experiences, but overall I could take it or leave it. I still feel the same about it today. Some people are really turned on by this though, and I certainly don’t judge them for it. S/M is largely a turn-off for me. I’m just not into giving or receiving pain. I can understand why some people are so into it, but it’s of no special interest to me. Again I don’t judge those who are into it though. I understand how certain people can be neurologically wired or conditioned to perceive otherwise painful stimuli as intensely pleasurable. D/s, on the other hand, is immensely exciting to me. D/s is basically role-playing with a power exchange element. One person chooses to surrender to the will of another. This can be done with roles like Master/Mistress and slave or any other roles that involve an asymmetrical power distribution. I also dabbled in this in the distant past, and I remember how exciting it was at the time. Since then I always wanted to explore it in more depth. Note: The s is intentionally written in lower case to indicate that the sub is below the Dom in terms of authority. I’m definitely on the D side, meaning that I like being the dominant one. That means in a D/s session, I would want to interact with a sub. A sub isn’t a submissive person per se. In real life the person may be very dominant, but in a D/s exchange, they consciously agree to submit to their partner’s will. Some people are switches, meaning that they can handle either role. Some say that if you’re very dominant in real life, then you’d enjoy being submissive in the bedroom. For some people that seems to be true; however, overall there isn’t much of a pattern as to which people are Doms vs. subs vs. switches, at least not that I’m aware of. There are many different factors that can influence someone’s personal preference. According to the Kinsey Institute, 5-10% of American adults regularly engage in sexual D/s. That stat is very dated though, so I don’t know if this figure has changed in recent years. I expect it’s probably a lot higher in countries that are less sexually repressed (Thanks, Puritans!). For the most part though, this aspect of people’s lives stays behind closed doors. You surely know a lot of people who are into it, but they probably aren’t talking about it with you either because they don’t think you could handle it, or they worry you’ll judge them for it. However, if you were to out yourself as being BSDM-friendly, they’ll likely come out of the woodwork and make their presence known to you, in sort of a “Hi, Welcome to the club! Let me show you the secret handshake.” fashion. This happened to me when I started posting about D/s on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, and most likely it will accelerate now that I’ve blogged about it. The same thing happened when I started blogging about polyamory. I had no idea so many people in my life were already poly, but they only told me so after they could tell that I wasn’t a muggle. D/s can be isolated to the bedroom, or it can dictate the terms of a whole relationship (aka Lifestyle D/s or 24/7 D/s). My current interest is somewhere in the middle. To date I’ve only experienced the bedroom version, but that’s about to change later this month during what is likely to be an immensely fun and playful week with a willing play partner.  To get a sense of what the D side is like, ask yourself if any of the following appeals to you: - Being able to command your partner to do anything you want, sexual or otherwise, and having them immediately and willingly obey you without resistance or hesitation- Setting up rules that your partner must follow, like having to kiss you immediately whenever you say a certain keyword- Being addressed as Master or Mistress by your partner- Having your partner say, “If it pleases you, Master (or Mistress)” instead of “yes”- Getting all the physical touch and affection you desire, in exactly the way you desire it- Prohibiting your partner from touching you or doing anything to you except when you grant permission to do so- Commanding your partner to dress a certain way, like wearing the lingerie you like best, or to wear nothing at all- Commanding your partner to dance or strip for you- Commanding your partner to do things that sexually arouse you, and pushing yourself to see how long you can resist the irresistible- Commanding your partner to bathe you, shower with you, groom you, brush your hair, etc.- Commanding your partner to undress one or both of you- Commanding multiple subs to perform sex acts with you and/or each other- Receiving as much stimulation as you desire (oral sex, massage, kissing, etc) in exactly the way you like, for as long as you like- Commanding your partner to say or whisper anything you wish to hear at any time (“I love you, Master.” “I adore you, Mistress.”)- Not having to ask permission, just giving orders and knowing they’ll be promptly and obediently carried out- Stimulating your partner to the edge of orgasm and mercilessly holding them there until you’re ready to let them climax- Creatively “punishing” or disciplining an ornery sub- Seeing your partner unbelievably turned on through acts of submission to you And for the s side, consider how you might feel about this: - Surrendering yourself completely to the will of a partner you trust- Not having to make any decisions at all; simply listening and obeying- Addressing your partner as Master or Mistress while being addressed as slave yourself (or something similar)- Being “forced” to do things that please and stimulate your partner- Becoming the instrument for fulfilling your partner’s every desire, knowing that you’re the source of their ecstasy- Being irresistibly desired, seeing your partner get so turned on that they can’t hold back any longer and must surrender to their passion for you- Being intentionally ornery in order to trigger a “punishment” that is in fact your delight- Being commanded to do things you might otherwise never consider, and being “off the hook” for the responsibility because your partner is assuming full responsibility for all decisions- Being commanded to perform sex acts with and/or to another sub- Being brought to the edge of orgasm but not being allowed to climax until your partner gives you permission- Being lavishly rewarded for your obedience- Being deeply appreciated for your submission And for both, you get to let it all go and return to your normal life afterwards once you’re done playing together. For some people aspects of one or both of these roles can be huge turn-ons. For other people they’re turn-offs. And still others may not care either way. Your reaction is your own to contemplate. On the other hand, if you need to take a break from reading and go take care of yourself right now, I understand.  Keep in mind that all of this is done consensually. It’s a form of play that’s entered into consciously by all involved. As such it can be a tremendously pleasurable growth experience. I can’t cover all the growth aspects now — I’ll have to save that for future articles. But perhaps the simplest growth aspect is that if you have more fun in one part of your life, it can easily spread to other parts… and to other people. Now if you decide to explore such things, how do you find a willing partner? Some people use personal ads or join a local BDSM support group. My approach is to use the Law of Attraction plus courage. I started by imagining what it would feel like if this was already a part of my life, and then I focused on holding that vibe. At first the vibe felt too exciting to hold onto, but eventually it calmed down and began to feel more integrated and “normal.” Additionally, I focused on extending the vibe of abundance into this part of my life. Abundance is a vibe that’s already familiar to me (ala financial abundance, social abundance, intimacy abundance, etc.), so all I needed to do was extend that vibe to create the sensation of D/s abundance. What would it feel like if my life were already overflowing with all the abundance I could possibly desire in this part of my life? I sat on my couch visualizing this “fantasy” as already real. That’s enough to get the ball rolling. It’s enough for potential partners to start showing up. The next step is to work through any blocks, such as worrying about what other people might think. “Oh no… they’re gonna kick me off the planet for sure this time!” You have to summon the courage to receive what you’re now attracting, including all the potential consequences. That’s usually the most difficult step and often involves saying to yourself at some point, “Ah, screw it. Let’s do it!” After receiving plenty of criticism in 2009 for exploring polyamory and later for separating from Erin, I can’t see the feedback on this decision being any worse, especially since BDSM seems to be a lot more popular than polyamory. For me this is a very rich, excting area of exploration, and the potential positives vastly outweigh the negatives. Either that, or I have too much courage for my own good. I took the time to work through my feelings about this during the past few weeks, so I feel quite comfortable writing about it publicly, knowing full well that some people will have a tizzy cow about it. Maybe I am a masochist after all though.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to blog about this in terms of details. Partly it depends on a few things. My top priority is to protect the privacy of anyone I’m involved with, to whatever extent their privacy is important to them. I’m not a particularly private person myself, but I know how unfair and critical the public eye can be, and I understand that most people wouldn’t want to deal with that. I certainly can’t blame them. So unless a sub happens to come along who’s either very brave or very masochistic, I’m not going to share any specific details about who’s doing what to whom. That said, I’ve already been discussing the possibility of publicly exploring a D/s-style relationship with someone in particular, but it’s too soon to say if we’ll go public. For now we’re keeping our exploration private by default. I’d find a public exploration to be lot of fun, but obviously it would have major consequences for her if we do that, and I feel rather protective of her. How can I feel otherwise towards someone who refers to me as her Master?  I would never pressure her to share anything publicly; it will only happen if she truly wants to do it, and she does seem turned on by that possibility. But first, I’d like to see how people react to this blog post on the subject, and I’m sure she’s curious about that as well. I do NOT want to see people doing personal attacks on her. Maybe I can’t prevent that from happening, but I just might have to go S/M on anyone who crosses that line, not to mention sending an army of subs after them. I’m not much of a sadist, but in that case I’ll make an exception and pull out the pincers and blowtorch.  I’m looking to see how much maturity my readers can summon in terms of watching me explore this path without going kittywompus, especially since other people are involved. In the past I’ve been largely disappointed, but perhaps the New Year will bring a new level of genuine acceptance and curiosity. Another factor that I’ll have to determine based on feedback is whether or not enough of my readers actually care to learn more about this subject. If there isn’t much interest, I’ll just keep it to myself and won’t blog much about it. But if I see a lot of curiosity and questions, I can justify sharing more details. I must admit that I am immensely excited about 2010. This is already shaping up to be an exquisitely delicious year. I suspect you’ll be seing some unusually happy posts from me in the coming months.  If you can get past your fear of rejection and summon a modicum of courage, it’s not that difficult to find a play partner. You don’t need a full-on relationship first. You don’t need to date people either. You can just let a potential partner know that you’re up for playing together, and see what they say. It’s even easier if you publicly out yourself first, since then people will come to you. Of course it helps if you’re known to be very open, honest, and trustworthy, so that people who get involved with you can expect that everything will be done in a safe, sane, and consensual manner, not in an unsafe, crazy, or creepy way. The whole point is to co-create a fun and exciting experience that leaves everyone happy. I should mention that my interest in D/s is partly sexual and partly non-sexual. It’s the power exchange aspect that turns me on the most. If I had to choose between doing a D/s session without sex vs. having vanilla sex with no D/s aspects, most of the time I’d probably choose the D/s play. However, I’d much rather explore D/s with a sexual element than without. It’s a lot more fun that way.  I expect to devote a big chunk of my personal life to exploring D/s this year. Nothing else on my radar excites me quite as much as this. I can’t predict where it will lead, and I rather like that. I like that it challenges me in so many ways simultaneously. I get to work with the Law of Attraction, conscious communication, building trust, unconditional love and acceptance, self-discipline, emotional resiliency, and more. Some people don’t like the D side because it’s too much work. They don’t like having to make all the decisions. It definitely can be a lot of work, but that’s a challenge I rather enjoy. Maybe it’s the former game designer in me. One of the most appealing aspects of D/s to me is being granted the power to interactively discover what most excites a woman, and then taking her through an intense emotional and sensory journey. It’s like being the GM (aka Game Master) in a classic pen and paper role-playing session — plus a whole lot more. When role-playing I always liked being the GM more than being a regular player. That’s the most difficult role to fill, but it’s also the one with the most flexibility and choices available. I thrive on being responsible for other people’s enjoyment and having the power to interactively create a fun and unique experience for them. Perhaps on some level, the game designer part of me is still present, and he sees this as a good way to creatively express parts of himself that have been denied a proper outlet for too many years. Maybe you regard this decision as yet another of Steve’s insanities, but for me it makes perfect sense. I’ve had regular sex thousands of times, and I doubt I’ll gain much from doing it a thousand more times. I’d rather head off in a new direction (which a friend jokingly reminded me sounds the same as “nude erection”) and try something a bit more spicy and exhilarating. The nice thing is that D/s can be combined with just about anything, such as tantra, so all sorts of delectable combos are possible. Commence with the criticism now if you must, but just remember that ultimately it’s all about you anyway… and a harsh reaction could be a sign of a repressed desire to be dominated. Or perhaps you just need to be introduced to a particularly skilled sadist to soften you up a bit.  I completely understand that some people may not want to out themselves as being interested in this, so feel free to email me privately via my contact form or my Facebook page if you have feedback to share and don’t want to do so publicly. I can’t answer all the questions people send me, but I’ll use the feedback to gauge interest and to generate ideas for future articles. I wouldn’t be worried about posting about this in our forums though since we quickly weed out people who make personal attacks on other members. I hope your 2010 is as fun and tasty as mine is likely to be. 
    649 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Happy New Year! Around this time of year, I like to decide upon a primary focus for the upcoming year. I’ve held to this practice for several years now, and it’s never failed to stimulate major breakthroughs within the area of focus. I like to blog about my annual focus publicly because it helps solidify my commitment, and I’ve also learned that many of my readers enjoy having a preview of things to come. In 2008 my focus was health, and I became a raw foodist that year, which has yielded many benefits. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had so much as a cold now; eating raw certainly does wonders for the immune system. I still eat cooked food on occasion, mainly for social convenience, but I keep returning to raw foods as my default. Although it was a significant challenge to convert to this diet, it’s rather easy to maintain it now. In 2009 my focus was intimate relationships. Since other people were involved, and it was important to protect their privacy, I didn’t blog about my explorations in much detail, but suffice it to say that I experienced some major shifts during that year. The most obvious result was my separation from Erin in October, which helped us move beyond a major impasse in our relationship. I realize that many people see that as a negative, but the end result has been extremely positive. That was a pretty intense year, and I’m very grateful for how it turned out. After spending two years back to back with a primary focus that was largely personal, this year I desire to create more balance between my personal growth and my professional growth. So I’ve decided to choose one primary focus for my business and another focus for my personal life. Going Direct My major professional aim this year is to shift my business to a direct sales revenue model. Currently my business generates most of its income from commissions on third-party sales, including joint venture and affiliate deals. Some people have a hard time understanding how I could be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from StevePavlina.com, especially since I don’t sell any advertising. They may be surprised to learn that my site typically generates around $100,000 in sales per month, and I receive healthy commissions on those sales. This income is largely passive for me and is very easy to maintain. This has been a very lucrative business model for me for the past few years and continues to run smoothly. However, I perceive it to be a dead end for me. One problem is that I’m extremely selective about which products I’ll recommend. So I typically have to evaluate dozens of different products just to find one that meets my criteria for a personal recommendation. I also check out the product publisher to make sure they take excellent care of their customers. This work can be rather tedious. The worst part is when I spend many hours evaluating a promising product, and in the end I conclude that I can’t strongly recommend it because of one flaw or another. Another problem is when I find a product I can recommend wholeheartedly, and for whatever reason, it just doesn’t sell as well as I hoped. Sometimes otherwise great products are just a mismatch for my particular audience. Fortunately the hits more than make up for the few bombs, and due to the risk-free way these deals are structured, I never have to risk losing money. However, I can lose a great deal of time on a mediocre deal, so I have to consider the opportunity cost of that. Yet another factor is that this business model no longer excites me. It’s a bit too boring for my tastes. One of the reasons I became an entrepreneur in the first place is that I love risk and excitement. I don’t derive much excitement from doing risk-free deals where the results always seem to fall within a predictable range. If I want to increase my income with this business model, I have to recommend more products. Every time I recommend a new product, my income goes up, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently, depending on the longevity of that particular offer. But because I’m so selective in what I’m willing to recommend, I’m unwilling to do what it takes to increase my income significantly, such as recommending marginal products I don’t feel good about. On many occasions publishers have given me some very juicy offers to do just that, but I always decline. And finally, this business model doesn’t align well enough with my desire for creative self-expression. I feel there are better ways to use my time than reviewing other people’s products and services in an attempt to find the few gems that would appeal to my readers. I also know that there’s plenty of demand for new products and services that I can create myself. I suspect that once I get a certain flow going, I’ll be able to create a new product in less time than it takes me to find one to recommend. So my primary goal for 2010 is to shift my business to a direct sales model. I may still recommend high quality products from trusted sources that come my way, but I don’t intend to evaluate tons of products just to find new ones to recommend. I’ve known this transition was coming for a while, and I’ve blogged about it previously, so I’ve already been taking steps in that direction. For starters, I’m generating direct sales for the Conscious Growth Workshops. I plan to hold 3-4 of these workshops in 2010. The next one is January 15-17, and then most likely we’ll have one in the Spring (probably April or May), one in the Fall (September or October), and maybe one in the Summer too. Based on the current sign-up rate, I estimate that these workshops will generate an extra $150-200K in revenue in 2010. Of course there are expenses like the costs for the hotel ballrooms and some staff and materials, but since I can promote the workshops for free via my blog andnewsletter, this is a good step towards a more direct business model. I also happen to love doing live workshops, and based on the results of the first one, it’s clear they’re highly beneficial for attendees as well. If the workshops become a bit more popular, I can spin off more workshops to go deeper into certain topics. For example, I’d like to have a Conscious Career Development Workshop, a Conscious Wealth Workshop, and a Conscious Relationships Workshop. In order to make this business model work effectively though, the most important shift I’ll have to make will be to build out my own product line. I already have my book, so that’s a good start. And the 8-DVD set for the Conscious Growth Workshop is still in production and will be released as soon as it’s ready (no specific ETA on that just yet). Beyond that I have an endless supply of new product ideas. At this time I favor a self-publishing model as opposed to working with outside publishers. That’s how I ran my computer games business for years, so I’m already familiar with that model. It works quite well. I may still work with some publishers, but that won’t be the core of my business model. I suppose my main challenge this year is going to be taking all the micro-steps to make this actually happen. It may sound like it’s not that big of a shift on the surface, but for me personally it’s a major change. It requires refactoring my entire workflow for starters. It’s one thing to write a book or deliver a workshop one time. It’s quite another thing to set up structured processes and systems for creating and releasing new products and services repeatedly as part of the normal course of business. I suspect that making all the necessary shifts in my personal work habits is going to be the most difficult part of this transition for me. So what effect will this have on my blogging? I doubt it will have a significant impact because most of this transitional work will take place behind the scenes. However, I’ll likely blog about topics related to this transition that could benefit others, such as setting up business processes, how to succeed with a direct sales business model (already did that with my games biz), habit change, streamlining workflow, boosting productivity, boosting income, etc. My overall goal here is that by the 4th quarter of 2010, I am generating most of my business revenue from direct sales. In terms of the means to get there, my most important aim is to establish good habits and systems that have me consistently producing and releasing high-quality products that help people grow. This is more important to me than creating any specific number of products this year. If I end the year with good habits and systems in place for the long-term, I’ll be immensely delighted. I expect that I’ll still be generating indirect revenue for many years to come, especially since it takes very little to maintain those revenue streams. I have no problem with that. But for me the path of growth for the future (and the path with a heart) is to build and release my own products on a variety of topics. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to make this transition to a direct sales model, and this is the year it’s happening. So this is my primary business focus for 2010. It will be a lot of work, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Alternative Relationship Styles Next I’ll share my personal focus for the year, which is going to take us in a completely different direction, but I need to share some transitional background info first, so you can understand where I’m coming from. After Erin and I separated, it took a while to adjust to life as a single guy once again. I hadn’t been single since 1994, so it’s been a long time. Being single today, however, isn’t remotely the same as what it was like at age 22. Back then I was fresh out of college. I’m just not the same person I was at that time, so I can’t simply recall what it was like the last time I was single and return to those habits. Otherwise I’d be eating way too much Taco Bell.  The rest of the world has changed dramatically as well. For starters the Internet was a lot smaller back then. As I think about my social life and relationships going forward, I feel very grateful. We have such amazing social resources available to us today, and they’re constantly improving. The last time I was single, I didn’t have access to smart phones, texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Back then I thought 3-way calling was a pretty cool technology, especially when planning the next poker game with my friends. And instead of the Internet, I mostly used a local dial-up BBS. No high-speed access was available either — it was all dial-up with a modem. And I had only a desktop computer, no laptop. I had email, as did all my geek friends, but most other people didn’t. And of course there were no blogs to speak of. It’s truly amazing to have 24/7 web access in the palm of my hand these days. I feel socially and technologically spoiled compared to how things use to be. A lot has changed in the past 16 years. I’m also in a very different situation socially than I was at age 22. Back then I mostly connected with a small number of local friends. Now I have more friends than I can keep track of, located all around the world, not to mention a hugely popular website. I have a constant flow of new people coming into my life, and that’s going to continue indefinitely. You could say that socially, I have a very unfair advantage compared to most people, and I’d be inclined to agree. All of these factors taken together have me feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options available to me socially. When I thought about where I wanted to go next in my relationship life, I honestly didn’t have a clue. You could ask me each week, and I’d give you a different answer. I know that a few of my friends found it amusing to watch me stumble my way forward during the past few months. I felt a bit foolish proclaiming I’d figured out what I wanted to do next, only to reverse course a few days later. I was flapping around like a Twitter bird with its head cut off. Unfortunately it isn’t very healthy for me to remain stuck in the space of not knowing what I want in this part of my life. I’m at too great a risk of being outgoaled, meaning that someone else — or outside circumstances in general — will eventually decide for me. When I noticed that was starting to happen and that I was heading in a new social/relationship direction that didn’t feel quite right to me, I decided I’d better back off from further explorations until I could create more clarity. So for a short time, I actively held the intention “Back off, people! Please keep all women away from me!” to give myself some space to ponder what I wanted to explore next. During that time, I solicited advice from a number of close friends, asking them, “What would you do now if you were me?” People loved being asked that question, and it generated some interesting responses. Some suggested that I sign up for match.com and start dating a lot. Others said, “Go out and f— as many women as you can. Live it up!” And still others had totally different ideas about what I should do next. While these answers didn’t surprise me, none of them felt right to me. In fact, each possibility seemed utterly boring and pointless. The thought of dating or having casual sex seemed only slightly more interesting than doing my dishes. How could it be that with all this freedom and all these options available to me, none of them really excited me? Even the thought of going out and having sex with different women did nothing for me. My reaction was, “Eh… why bother?” It seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I certainly enjoy sex, but to pursue it as a goal unto itself was more of a turn-off than a turn-on. It was as if someone suggested I take up drinking as a hobby. Some of my friends seemed really excited on my behalf at the thought of me going out and enjoying more sex partners, and they jokingly teased me about what a fun ride I’d be in for. But I didn’t share their excitement, and I had to ask myself why. Why were others able to get more excited about that idea than I was? I know I like sex, so why doesn’t this excite me? I had to ask myself if maybe on some level, I was afraid to pursue that course. Is it possible I was pretending that I didn’t want it, so I wouldn’t have to push myself beyond my comfort zone? That’s a common problem in personal growth. If we fear a certain path, we pretend we don’t want it, even though we wish we had the courage to pursue it. But no, I couldn’t see any evidence that fear was holding me back. In fact, the real problem turned out to be just the opposite. Eventually I realized that the problem wasn’t that this pursuit took too much courage but rather that it took too little. It seemed too easy for me, and because it was too easy, it felt utterly pointless. It might have been a challenging goal to pursue in my early 20s, but today the idea has no bite. It’s too bland and too boring and too vanilla for me. I need a much bigger challenge. Only way I can be satisfied.  I realized that something that’s been missing from my relationship life for way too long was the intensity. I thrive on intense experiences. For example, I have to run a business because a regular job would leave me bored to tears. I couldn’t handle getting the same paycheck month after month. I need the risk and excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen next. It was this same need for intensity that got me addicted to shoplifting when I was a teenager. It was also this same drive that enabled me to go through college in only three semesters. It’s a very powerful part of my psyche, one that’s been relegated to the back burner for far too long. In 2009 I explored intimacy in great depth. But in 2010 I’m going to explore the intensity side. I’m going to explore different ways of relating to women that truly excite me, and that definitely isn’t the path of a traditional dating or relationship style. I want to try new things that are big enough to scare me and thrill me at the same time. The thought of doing anything that would be considered “normal” in terms of relationships makes me nauseous. This includes regular dating, having sex, having a girlfriend, or getting married again. I don’t judge other people who thrive on those forms of connection though. If that’s your cup of tea and you’re happy with it, I’m truly delighted for you. At various times those patterns were my delight as well, but if I were to revisit them now, I’d feel like I was living a rerun. For whatever reason, I can’t derive any further joy from such pursuits, at least not at this time in my life. It would be like eating jicama for every meal, which is the most boring food I can imagine. One of the key lessons I learned in 2009 was to stop trying to label my relationships. Once I let go of the labels, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me. I realized that I had a lot more freedom in terms of relating to people than I previously assumed. I’m not stuck with such limited frames as date, girlfriend, wife, friend, lover, etc. Now let’s get more specific… What’s a relationship style that really does excite me? If you’re a very religious or judgmental person (is that redundant?), this is the point where you should stop reading. Otherwise you might have to go to confession or something. Continuing to read this could lead to impure thoughts. A general rule of thumb is that if you’re going to dabble in alternative relationship styles, then you want to make sure that your explorations are safe, sane, and consensual. As long as all parties involved are willing and able and are staying safe, then psychologically speaking, the exploration is just as valid and healthy as any other relationship style. The main risk is that the rest of society may judge you harshly, but if you can handle that, then the door is wide open. I began exploring some of those other possibilities, initially by reading about what else was out there and by talking to friends who have very non-traditional relationship lives. And I came upon something that excited me greatly and that I was eager to explore. It falls loosely within the scope of BDSM. BDSM is a complex acronym. The BD stands for bondage and discipline. The DS stands for domination and submission. And the SM stands for sadism and masochism. These methods of relating to a partner can be sexual, but they don’t have to involve sex at all. They’re basically ways of stimulating intense feelings and sensations. B/D doesn’t really do much for me. I dabbled with that a little in my early 20s. It was fun at times and certainly spiced up some sexual experiences, but overall I could take it or leave it. I still feel the same about it today. Some people are really turned on by this though, and I certainly don’t judge them for it. S/M is largely a turn-off for me. I’m just not into giving or receiving pain. I can understand why some people are so into it, but it’s of no special interest to me. Again I don’t judge those who are into it though. I understand how certain people can be neurologically wired or conditioned to perceive otherwise painful stimuli as intensely pleasurable. D/s, on the other hand, is immensely exciting to me. D/s is basically role-playing with a power exchange element. One person chooses to surrender to the will of another. This can be done with roles like Master/Mistress and slave or any other roles that involve an asymmetrical power distribution. I also dabbled in this in the distant past, and I remember how exciting it was at the time. Since then I always wanted to explore it in more depth. Note: The s is intentionally written in lower case to indicate that the sub is below the Dom in terms of authority. I’m definitely on the D side, meaning that I like being the dominant one. That means in a D/s session, I would want to interact with a sub. A sub isn’t a submissive person per se. In real life the person may be very dominant, but in a D/s exchange, they consciously agree to submit to their partner’s will. Some people are switches, meaning that they can handle either role. Some say that if you’re very dominant in real life, then you’d enjoy being submissive in the bedroom. For some people that seems to be true; however, overall there isn’t much of a pattern as to which people are Doms vs. subs vs. switches, at least not that I’m aware of. There are many different factors that can influence someone’s personal preference. According to the Kinsey Institute, 5-10% of American adults regularly engage in sexual D/s. That stat is very dated though, so I don’t know if this figure has changed in recent years. I expect it’s probably a lot higher in countries that are less sexually repressed (Thanks, Puritans!). For the most part though, this aspect of people’s lives stays behind closed doors. You surely know a lot of people who are into it, but they probably aren’t talking about it with you either because they don’t think you could handle it, or they worry you’ll judge them for it. However, if you were to out yourself as being BSDM-friendly, they’ll likely come out of the woodwork and make their presence known to you, in sort of a “Hi, Welcome to the club! Let me show you the secret handshake.” fashion. This happened to me when I started posting about D/s on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, and most likely it will accelerate now that I’ve blogged about it. The same thing happened when I started blogging about polyamory. I had no idea so many people in my life were already poly, but they only told me so after they could tell that I wasn’t a muggle. D/s can be isolated to the bedroom, or it can dictate the terms of a whole relationship (aka Lifestyle D/s or 24/7 D/s). My current interest is somewhere in the middle. To date I’ve only experienced the bedroom version, but that’s about to change later this month during what is likely to be an immensely fun and playful week with a willing play partner.  To get a sense of what the D side is like, ask yourself if any of the following appeals to you: - Being able to command your partner to do anything you want, sexual or otherwise, and having them immediately and willingly obey you without resistance or hesitation- Setting up rules that your partner must follow, like having to kiss you immediately whenever you say a certain keyword- Being addressed as Master or Mistress by your partner- Having your partner say, “If it pleases you, Master (or Mistress)” instead of “yes”- Getting all the physical touch and affection you desire, in exactly the way you desire it- Prohibiting your partner from touching you or doing anything to you except when you grant permission to do so- Commanding your partner to dress a certain way, like wearing the lingerie you like best, or to wear nothing at all- Commanding your partner to dance or strip for you- Commanding your partner to do things that sexually arouse you, and pushing yourself to see how long you can resist the irresistible- Commanding your partner to bathe you, shower with you, groom you, brush your hair, etc.- Commanding your partner to undress one or both of you- Commanding multiple subs to perform sex acts with you and/or each other- Receiving as much stimulation as you desire (oral sex, massage, kissing, etc) in exactly the way you like, for as long as you like- Commanding your partner to say or whisper anything you wish to hear at any time (“I love you, Master.” “I adore you, Mistress.”)- Not having to ask permission, just giving orders and knowing they’ll be promptly and obediently carried out- Stimulating your partner to the edge of orgasm and mercilessly holding them there until you’re ready to let them climax- Creatively “punishing” or disciplining an ornery sub- Seeing your partner unbelievably turned on through acts of submission to you And for the s side, consider how you might feel about this: - Surrendering yourself completely to the will of a partner you trust- Not having to make any decisions at all; simply listening and obeying- Addressing your partner as Master or Mistress while being addressed as slave yourself (or something similar)- Being “forced” to do things that please and stimulate your partner- Becoming the instrument for fulfilling your partner’s every desire, knowing that you’re the source of their ecstasy- Being irresistibly desired, seeing your partner get so turned on that they can’t hold back any longer and must surrender to their passion for you- Being intentionally ornery in order to trigger a “punishment” that is in fact your delight- Being commanded to do things you might otherwise never consider, and being “off the hook” for the responsibility because your partner is assuming full responsibility for all decisions- Being commanded to perform sex acts with and/or to another sub- Being brought to the edge of orgasm but not being allowed to climax until your partner gives you permission- Being lavishly rewarded for your obedience- Being deeply appreciated for your submission And for both, you get to let it all go and return to your normal life afterwards once you’re done playing together. For some people aspects of one or both of these roles can be huge turn-ons. For other people they’re turn-offs. And still others may not care either way. Your reaction is your own to contemplate. On the other hand, if you need to take a break from reading and go take care of yourself right now, I understand.  Keep in mind that all of this is done consensually. It’s a form of play that’s entered into consciously by all involved. As such it can be a tremendously pleasurable growth experience. I can’t cover all the growth aspects now — I’ll have to save that for future articles. But perhaps the simplest growth aspect is that if you have more fun in one part of your life, it can easily spread to other parts… and to other people. Now if you decide to explore such things, how do you find a willing partner? Some people use personal ads or join a local BDSM support group. My approach is to use the Law of Attraction plus courage. I started by imagining what it would feel like if this was already a part of my life, and then I focused on holding that vibe. At first the vibe felt too exciting to hold onto, but eventually it calmed down and began to feel more integrated and “normal.” Additionally, I focused on extending the vibe of abundance into this part of my life. Abundance is a vibe that’s already familiar to me (ala financial abundance, social abundance, intimacy abundance, etc.), so all I needed to do was extend that vibe to create the sensation of D/s abundance. What would it feel like if my life were already overflowing with all the abundance I could possibly desire in this part of my life? I sat on my couch visualizing this “fantasy” as already real. That’s enough to get the ball rolling. It’s enough for potential partners to start showing up. The next step is to work through any blocks, such as worrying about what other people might think. “Oh no… they’re gonna kick me off the planet for sure this time!” You have to summon the courage to receive what you’re now attracting, including all the potential consequences. That’s usually the most difficult step and often involves saying to yourself at some point, “Ah, screw it. Let’s do it!” After receiving plenty of criticism in 2009 for exploring polyamory and later for separating from Erin, I can’t see the feedback on this decision being any worse, especially since BDSM seems to be a lot more popular than polyamory. For me this is a very rich, excting area of exploration, and the potential positives vastly outweigh the negatives. Either that, or I have too much courage for my own good. I took the time to work through my feelings about this during the past few weeks, so I feel quite comfortable writing about it publicly, knowing full well that some people will have a tizzy cow about it. Maybe I am a masochist after all though.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to blog about this in terms of details. Partly it depends on a few things. My top priority is to protect the privacy of anyone I’m involved with, to whatever extent their privacy is important to them. I’m not a particularly private person myself, but I know how unfair and critical the public eye can be, and I understand that most people wouldn’t want to deal with that. I certainly can’t blame them. So unless a sub happens to come along who’s either very brave or very masochistic, I’m not going to share any specific details about who’s doing what to whom. That said, I’ve already been discussing the possibility of publicly exploring a D/s-style relationship with someone in particular, but it’s too soon to say if we’ll go public. For now we’re keeping our exploration private by default. I’d find a public exploration to be lot of fun, but obviously it would have major consequences for her if we do that, and I feel rather protective of her. How can I feel otherwise towards someone who refers to me as her Master?  I would never pressure her to share anything publicly; it will only happen if she truly wants to do it, and she does seem turned on by that possibility. But first, I’d like to see how people react to this blog post on the subject, and I’m sure she’s curious about that as well. I do NOT want to see people doing personal attacks on her. Maybe I can’t prevent that from happening, but I just might have to go S/M on anyone who crosses that line, not to mention sending an army of subs after them. I’m not much of a sadist, but in that case I’ll make an exception and pull out the pincers and blowtorch.  I’m looking to see how much maturity my readers can summon in terms of watching me explore this path without going kittywompus, especially since other people are involved. In the past I’ve been largely disappointed, but perhaps the New Year will bring a new level of genuine acceptance and curiosity. Another factor that I’ll have to determine based on feedback is whether or not enough of my readers actually care to learn more about this subject. If there isn’t much interest, I’ll just keep it to myself and won’t blog much about it. But if I see a lot of curiosity and questions, I can justify sharing more details. I must admit that I am immensely excited about 2010. This is already shaping up to be an exquisitely delicious year. I suspect you’ll be seing some unusually happy posts from me in the coming months.  If you can get past your fear of rejection and summon a modicum of courage, it’s not that difficult to find a play partner. You don’t need a full-on relationship first. You don’t need to date people either. You can just let a potential partner know that you’re up for playing together, and see what they say. It’s even easier if you publicly out yourself first, since then people will come to you. Of course it helps if you’re known to be very open, honest, and trustworthy, so that people who get involved with you can expect that everything will be done in a safe, sane, and consensual manner, not in an unsafe, crazy, or creepy way. The whole point is to co-create a fun and exciting experience that leaves everyone happy. I should mention that my interest in D/s is partly sexual and partly non-sexual. It’s the power exchange aspect that turns me on the most. If I had to choose between doing a D/s session without sex vs. having vanilla sex with no D/s aspects, most of the time I’d probably choose the D/s play. However, I’d much rather explore D/s with a sexual element than without. It’s a lot more fun that way.  I expect to devote a big chunk of my personal life to exploring D/s this year. Nothing else on my radar excites me quite as much as this. I can’t predict where it will lead, and I rather like that. I like that it challenges me in so many ways simultaneously. I get to work with the Law of Attraction, conscious communication, building trust, unconditional love and acceptance, self-discipline, emotional resiliency, and more. Some people don’t like the D side because it’s too much work. They don’t like having to make all the decisions. It definitely can be a lot of work, but that’s a challenge I rather enjoy. Maybe it’s the former game designer in me. One of the most appealing aspects of D/s to me is being granted the power to interactively discover what most excites a woman, and then taking her through an intense emotional and sensory journey. It’s like being the GM (aka Game Master) in a classic pen and paper role-playing session — plus a whole lot more. When role-playing I always liked being the GM more than being a regular player. That’s the most difficult role to fill, but it’s also the one with the most flexibility and choices available. I thrive on being responsible for other people’s enjoyment and having the power to interactively create a fun and unique experience for them. Perhaps on some level, the game designer part of me is still present, and he sees this as a good way to creatively express parts of himself that have been denied a proper outlet for too many years. Maybe you regard this decision as yet another of Steve’s insanities, but for me it makes perfect sense. I’ve had regular sex thousands of times, and I doubt I’ll gain much from doing it a thousand more times. I’d rather head off in a new direction (which a friend jokingly reminded me sounds the same as “nude erection”) and try something a bit more spicy and exhilarating. The nice thing is that D/s can be combined with just about anything, such as tantra, so all sorts of delectable combos are possible. Commence with the criticism now if you must, but just remember that ultimately it’s all about you anyway… and a harsh reaction could be a sign of a repressed desire to be dominated. Or perhaps you just need to be introduced to a particularly skilled sadist to soften you up a bit.  I completely understand that some people may not want to out themselves as being interested in this, so feel free to email me privately via my contact form or my Facebook page if you have feedback to share and don’t want to do so publicly. I can’t answer all the questions people send me, but I’ll use the feedback to gauge interest and to generate ideas for future articles. I wouldn’t be worried about posting about this in our forums though since we quickly weed out people who make personal attacks on other members. I hope your 2010 is as fun and tasty as mine is likely to be. 
    Jul 12, 2011 649
  • 12 Jul 2011
    As I mentioned in my 2010 Focus post, my personal focus for this year involves immersing myself in the fun and exciting world of domination and submission (D/s). (I really love my life!) Now one obvious question I’ve been asked a few times is: What the heck does this have to do with personal development? Once you get past the socially conditioned attitude that D/s is somehow naughty or deviant, you’ll find that it has a tremendous amount to do with personal development. Let’s start with some of the most basic elements and go from there. Body Image First, when you consciously explore your sexuality with other people, body image issues are bound to come up. What is all this extra fat doing on me? Why can’t I be taller? Why can’t I be more muscular? Why was I born looking like a troll? Why are my boobs so irregular? Why is my sister so much better looking than I am? How are you processing these feelings? Do you feel like you’re broken and need to fix yourself before you can fully embrace a healthy and abundant sex life? Do you ever say things like, “Once I lose another X pounds, then I’ll be open to dating again”? Do you give up on feeling attractive because you’re stuck following someone else’s rules? Well, guess what. Your body is always going to have some flaws. It’s never going to be perfect. And it doesn’t have to be anywhere close to perfect for you to enjoy sexual abundance. Fussing over your imperfections is only robbing you of pleasure. Why not enjoy an abundant sex life now, and work on making whatever improvements you’d like to make from a place of abundance… as opposed to thinking you must do those things first in order to earn your right to enjoy such abundance? This isn’t specific to D/s of course, but if you’re doing anything sexual, it’s likely you’ll have to deal with some body image issues. Get over yourself. Accept that we’re all physically flawed. Your body isn’t perfect, and neither will your partner’s be. Recognize that your partner is probably just as miffed as you are. It’s how you use what you’ve got that counts. Often the people who seem to have the most flawless bodies are those with the worst body image struggles. If you’re truly hideous, then turn out the lights, and master the art of pleasuring your lovers in the dark.  Enjoy what you have while you’re here. Don’t put off the enjoyment of a satisfying sex life just because you’re dissatisfied with how you look naked. Shift your attention to the parts of yourself you love most. Instead of looking at your fat, notice your muscles. Instead of feeling bad about that big mole, notice how nibble-ready your earlobes look. And instead of fussing over a hairstyle that was a mistake, notice how your eyes look when you smile. When you love your body, you give others the opportunity to love it too. Don’t be so selfish with your sexuality. You’re only denying yourself and your lover of pleasure. Communication Skills Reaching the point of having sex with someone, especially within a D/s context, can certainly challenge your communication skills. Some people are very good at this. Others really suck (and not in the good way). Are you able to effectively communicate your desires with other people in such a way that you get the results you want? Can you overcome problems like shyness, shame, guilt, and fear that cause you to hold back and hesitate? How often do you miss opportunities because you choke on finding the right words? What about your listening skills? Are you good at figuring out what your partner likes and dislikes? Can you tell when things are heading in a positive direction sexually and maintain the momentum together? Can you handle the pacing and flow of communicating about sex without coming across as too passive, too aggressive, too dorky, or too creepy? Can you get a date when you want one? Or are you one of those people that hovers around your target for months, pretending to be “just friends” when you’d really love to jump ‘em and hump ‘em? Does the thought of asking for a play date make you turn pale with anxiety? The more you explore your sexuality with other people, the faster you’re going to develop some amazing communication skills. You can read as many books as you want, but ultimately this skill is developed through experience. I know that sucks (and not in the good way), but it is what it is. Good communication skills are particular important when exploring D/s. Are you and your partner on the same wavelength in terms of the type of experience you wish to co-create, or have you fallen out of sync? Can you communicate about serious topics while staying in character? If your communication skills are poor, it will have major consequences for you in the bedroom, assuming anyone other than you ever visits there. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs What’s possible for you sexually? Do you have fantasies that you’d love to experience, the kind that some people have already enjoyed but which you doubt are possible for you? How does it feel considering that if it’s possible for them, it’s almost certainly possible for you too? How accurate are your beliefs? Are they well-aligned with reality, or do they prevent you from experiencing too much of the possible by mistakenly ruling it out as impossible or highly improbable? Some common examples of limiting beliefs include: - Women don’t like sex nearly as much as men.- I have to be in love or in a relationship before I can enjoy having sex with someone.- If I can impress her, she’ll like me and will be more inclined to go to bed with me.- I have to pretend I’m not interested in sex, or she’ll think I’m one of those guys.- No one in their right mind could possibly want to be dominated by me.- I can’t discuss my sexual interests publicly because society will shun me for it.- If I get rejected, I won’t be able to handle it. False beliefs hold us back sexually. When we dump them and adopt more accurate beliefs, we empower ourselves to create a whole new range of experiences that were previously impossible. Many, many false beliefs about sexuality are installed by television, particularly in America. One of the best things you can do to improve your sex life is cut back dramatically on watching TV, so you aren’t constantly bombarding your mind with hideously inaccurate beliefs about sex, dating, and relationships. Here are some examples of more accurate and empowering beliefs: - Most women and men love having sex.- Attraction is created by much more than looks.- We’re all sexual beings. Sex is as natural for us as eating.- If it can be done in a safe, sane, and consensual way, it’s a healthy experience to explore with a willing partner.- People frequently enjoy talking about sexually explicit topics within the first few minutes of conversation. They find it fun.- On a planet of 7 billion humans, there’s an absolute abundance of people who’d be thrilled to explore your sexual fantasies with you.- If I share my sexual interests openly, I’ll not only attract the attention of compatible partners more easily, but I’ll also help inspire others to be more open with their sexuality as well, thereby helping us all overcome unhealthy sexual repression. Immersing yourself in the exploration of your sexuality will help you identify, confront, and tear down many limiting beliefs — beliefs that are repressing you outside the bedroom as well. Sex energy is life energy. Your sexual limits reflect your life limits. Sex Skills Being a skilled lover is a line of personal development unto itself. How good are you at pleasing your partner? Do you consciously work on improving in this area of your life? Do you seek the advice of others who are more experienced than you? Do you ask your lovers how you can make your lovemaking even better? Do you read how-to books on sex? Do you go to sex workshops? Is this an area of your life you’re neglecting, or do you take charge of it and consciously work on becoming better and better? D/s requires even more skill development. Do you know how to safely and pleasurably dominate another person? Do you know how to please your partner from a submissive position? Such skills can even be applied outside the bedroom. For example, do you know how to lead your boss? Self-esteem Your self-esteem will play a major role in dictating the terms of your sex life. If you have high self-esteem, it’s much more likely you’ll enjoy a happy, healthy sex life. Do you feel worthy of having sexual abundance in your life? Is your self-esteem high enough to be able to handle a D/s session? Can you surrender yourself to someone else’s will for a while and still feel good about yourself during and afterwards? Can you feel good about your desire to dominate another person and welcome such an experience? How do you feel about broadcasting your sexual interests? Can you handle other people’s reactions? Could you handle it if your friends, family, and co-workers discovered what you were into? Is your self-esteem high enough to shrug off criticism and keep moving forward with no loss of enthusiasm, or do you have to hide everything from the public eye to protect your fragile self-image? How much of a chicken are you? Law of Attraction How well can you use the LoA to manifest compatible, willing sex partners? Are you surrounded by abundance, noticing that everywhere you look, fun sexual opportunities abound? Or do you live in a world of scarcity? Can you hold the intention for what you’d like to experience next and expect it to show up in your life quickly and easily? You’re creating this experience, you know. The quality of your sex life is a great indicator of your skill with the LoA. This is especially true when exploring D/s, and you’re looking to attract something more creative than vanilla sex. Fun and Enjoyment Does your sex life help you enjoy more positive emotions like unconditional love, bliss, and ecstasy? Do you feel good about your sex life at present? Are you happy? Are you having fun with it? Do you feel grateful for what you’re receiving? When you feel good, you spread that feeling to other parts of your life, and you also spread it to other people. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that someone else is willing to mate with you. It’s deliciously delightful to co-create a fun experience together, both physically and emotionally. You may find that these feelings are heightened when exploring D/s. To know that your partner cares enough to help you explore your sexuality in a less mainstream way can generate intense feelings of gratitude and connection. You’re human — enjoy your sexuality fully! Courage and Confidence How do you handle fear of rejection? Are you able to take action in spite of fear? Can you openly and shamelessly ask someone for what you want? Can you ask a particularly tasty looking morsel of humanity if s/he would like to “play together”? Or are you one of those soulless minions, missing countless opportunities because you’re too timid to speak up and ask for what you want? When you do find a sex partner, do you act all clingy and needy, afraid to lose him/her for fear you won’t be able to find anyone better? Do people feel compelled to lie to you to protect your feelings when they break up with you because they don’t think you can handle the truth? What about the fear of being judged? Can you publicly reveal that you enjoy what you enjoy, without worrying about being shamed or ridiculed for it? Can you say, “I absolutely love to dominate submissive women — that’s a huge turn-on for me”? Could you handle it if your parents knew that about you? No courage, no nookie. Social Conditioning Are you living your own life as an independent being, or are you trying to fit in to satisfy others’ expectations? Do you have the will to break with social conditioning when it runs afoul of your true desires? Can you explore what you want to explore, regardless of whether or not it’s socially acceptable? Success Are you getting the results you want in your sex life? Are you setting specific sex goals and achieving them? Are those goals in writing? Do you visualize them as real? Do you treat this part of your life differently than your career development, your finances, and your health? Are you sexually effective? Do you decide upon and then create the experiences you’d most like to have? Would you say this part of your life is a success… or a failure? And how does that reflect what’s happening in other parts of your life? Oneness Are you exploring your sexuality in a way that serves your good as well as the good of others? Are you a selfish lover, only concerned with your own pleasure? Or are you a generous and giving lover, creating pleasure for yourself and your partners? Does exploring your sexuality send positive ripples out into the world by boosting your happiness and the happiness of all who share your bed? Have you learned how to balance the fulfillment of your desires with the fulfillment of others’ desires? Can you embrace the asymmetical aspects of D/s without losing your alignment with Oneness? When you’re dominating, do you use your authority to pleasure your sub? And when you’re submitting, does your behavior delight your Dom? At the end of a session, are you both feeling happy and blissful? Can you share what you’re learning with others, so that they may benefit from your knowledge and experience? Can you help us co-create a less sexually repressed world, for the highest good of all? Do you care enough to help make that happen? Self-discipline Do you maintain good self-control, or do you take unsafe risks? Do you practice safe sex even in the height of passion? Can you make wise decisions when your brain is flooded with intoxicating hormones? Can you recognize when you’re emotionally compromised with infatuation and shouldn’t make major long-term decisions? Do you have the self-discipline to stop yourself from doing something really stupid? You can use D/s to test and to build your self-discipline. How long can you handle being told what to do as a sub — what are the limits of your obedience? And as a Dom, how well can you maintain consensual control over your sub? Receiving Do you allow yourself to receive pleasure? Do you feel guilty about asking for what you want? Can you expect your lover to do what pleases you most, even if it’s a bit unorthodox? If you can’t receive in the bedroom, maybe that explains why you’re broke too. Fix the problem in the bedroom, and notice what happens to your wallet. Power When you play the Dom role, how good are you at taking the lead? Do you feel comfortable with the burden of responsibility? Are you strong enough to handle that role? When you play as a sub, how good are you at implementing your Dom’s commands? Are you able to respond with loyalty and obedience, or do you become restless and resistant? How do these bedroom roles reflect challenges in other parts of your life? Do you have problems making clear, strong decisions (bad Dom)? Do you have problems sticking with your decisions long enough to fully implement them (bad sub)? Explore these roles in the bedroom, and notice what you learn about your fundamental strengths and weaknesses in the area of Power. As you build your capacity to handle these roles in the bedroom, you can increase your alignment with Power and grow stronger outside the bedroom. Balance and Variety After you’ve been dominated by your boss at the office all day, wouldn’t it be nice to return home and be greeted with, “How may your willing slave serve you this evening, Master?” Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy someone who takes exquisite delight in carrying out your every command, sexual or otherwise? How about ordering your slave to make and serve your favorite meal, followed by a one-hour massage, and then some deliciously passionate sex — all because your slave truly loves doing those things for you? On the other hand, if your work life puts you in a role of great responsibility where you must make many tricky decisions, wouldn’t it be nice to release and let go of that responsibility in your private life? How would it feel to completely surrender yourself to the will of a strong, powerful, trustworthy individual who delights in taking charge of your personal pleasure? D/s can be used to restore balance to an otherwise unbalanced life. You may not understand people who enjoy one role or the other, but I assure you they exist in great abundance. Truth Pay attention and notice what’s happening. What’s the Truth about your sex life? Is your love life littered by a trail of broken hearts you’ve left behind? Or when people interact with you sexually, do you take responsibility for leaving them better off for having known you? Do you use sexual connections to help people feel good, to heal, and to share love and passion? Or do you use people like objects and then abandon them? Do you maintain positive ongoing relations with your past lovers, even if you’ve grown more distant with the passage of time? Or do you leave people feeling scorned, resentful, and disconnected? Is your personal exploration of sexuality helping to improve the lives of others along the way? Are you using your sexuality as a positive force for good? Do you really believe that having sex with you is a good and healthy experience for others in the long run? Are you certain of that? Do you consciously choose lovers with a healthy, happy sexual history and good relations with past lovers? It’s a wonderful feeling to look back on your past lovers and to see clear evidence that they’re much better off for having known you. It feels good to know that by expressing yourself sexually, you’re actually doing some good. This is what it means to be a conscious lover. Given these many areas of overlap between D/s and personal development (and many more I didn’t list here), it should be abundantly clear that D/s can be a tremendous growth accelerator, assuming you approach it with such an intention. While it may seem like a “naughty” subject to discuss openly, the reality is that exploring sexual power exchanges can help you learn a great deal more about yourself, enjoy a variety of delightful pleasures, and develop your strength of character in ways you can scarcely imagine… not to mention that it can be a heck of a lot of FUN. 
    821 Posted by UniqueThis
  • As I mentioned in my 2010 Focus post, my personal focus for this year involves immersing myself in the fun and exciting world of domination and submission (D/s). (I really love my life!) Now one obvious question I’ve been asked a few times is: What the heck does this have to do with personal development? Once you get past the socially conditioned attitude that D/s is somehow naughty or deviant, you’ll find that it has a tremendous amount to do with personal development. Let’s start with some of the most basic elements and go from there. Body Image First, when you consciously explore your sexuality with other people, body image issues are bound to come up. What is all this extra fat doing on me? Why can’t I be taller? Why can’t I be more muscular? Why was I born looking like a troll? Why are my boobs so irregular? Why is my sister so much better looking than I am? How are you processing these feelings? Do you feel like you’re broken and need to fix yourself before you can fully embrace a healthy and abundant sex life? Do you ever say things like, “Once I lose another X pounds, then I’ll be open to dating again”? Do you give up on feeling attractive because you’re stuck following someone else’s rules? Well, guess what. Your body is always going to have some flaws. It’s never going to be perfect. And it doesn’t have to be anywhere close to perfect for you to enjoy sexual abundance. Fussing over your imperfections is only robbing you of pleasure. Why not enjoy an abundant sex life now, and work on making whatever improvements you’d like to make from a place of abundance… as opposed to thinking you must do those things first in order to earn your right to enjoy such abundance? This isn’t specific to D/s of course, but if you’re doing anything sexual, it’s likely you’ll have to deal with some body image issues. Get over yourself. Accept that we’re all physically flawed. Your body isn’t perfect, and neither will your partner’s be. Recognize that your partner is probably just as miffed as you are. It’s how you use what you’ve got that counts. Often the people who seem to have the most flawless bodies are those with the worst body image struggles. If you’re truly hideous, then turn out the lights, and master the art of pleasuring your lovers in the dark.  Enjoy what you have while you’re here. Don’t put off the enjoyment of a satisfying sex life just because you’re dissatisfied with how you look naked. Shift your attention to the parts of yourself you love most. Instead of looking at your fat, notice your muscles. Instead of feeling bad about that big mole, notice how nibble-ready your earlobes look. And instead of fussing over a hairstyle that was a mistake, notice how your eyes look when you smile. When you love your body, you give others the opportunity to love it too. Don’t be so selfish with your sexuality. You’re only denying yourself and your lover of pleasure. Communication Skills Reaching the point of having sex with someone, especially within a D/s context, can certainly challenge your communication skills. Some people are very good at this. Others really suck (and not in the good way). Are you able to effectively communicate your desires with other people in such a way that you get the results you want? Can you overcome problems like shyness, shame, guilt, and fear that cause you to hold back and hesitate? How often do you miss opportunities because you choke on finding the right words? What about your listening skills? Are you good at figuring out what your partner likes and dislikes? Can you tell when things are heading in a positive direction sexually and maintain the momentum together? Can you handle the pacing and flow of communicating about sex without coming across as too passive, too aggressive, too dorky, or too creepy? Can you get a date when you want one? Or are you one of those people that hovers around your target for months, pretending to be “just friends” when you’d really love to jump ‘em and hump ‘em? Does the thought of asking for a play date make you turn pale with anxiety? The more you explore your sexuality with other people, the faster you’re going to develop some amazing communication skills. You can read as many books as you want, but ultimately this skill is developed through experience. I know that sucks (and not in the good way), but it is what it is. Good communication skills are particular important when exploring D/s. Are you and your partner on the same wavelength in terms of the type of experience you wish to co-create, or have you fallen out of sync? Can you communicate about serious topics while staying in character? If your communication skills are poor, it will have major consequences for you in the bedroom, assuming anyone other than you ever visits there. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs What’s possible for you sexually? Do you have fantasies that you’d love to experience, the kind that some people have already enjoyed but which you doubt are possible for you? How does it feel considering that if it’s possible for them, it’s almost certainly possible for you too? How accurate are your beliefs? Are they well-aligned with reality, or do they prevent you from experiencing too much of the possible by mistakenly ruling it out as impossible or highly improbable? Some common examples of limiting beliefs include: - Women don’t like sex nearly as much as men.- I have to be in love or in a relationship before I can enjoy having sex with someone.- If I can impress her, she’ll like me and will be more inclined to go to bed with me.- I have to pretend I’m not interested in sex, or she’ll think I’m one of those guys.- No one in their right mind could possibly want to be dominated by me.- I can’t discuss my sexual interests publicly because society will shun me for it.- If I get rejected, I won’t be able to handle it. False beliefs hold us back sexually. When we dump them and adopt more accurate beliefs, we empower ourselves to create a whole new range of experiences that were previously impossible. Many, many false beliefs about sexuality are installed by television, particularly in America. One of the best things you can do to improve your sex life is cut back dramatically on watching TV, so you aren’t constantly bombarding your mind with hideously inaccurate beliefs about sex, dating, and relationships. Here are some examples of more accurate and empowering beliefs: - Most women and men love having sex.- Attraction is created by much more than looks.- We’re all sexual beings. Sex is as natural for us as eating.- If it can be done in a safe, sane, and consensual way, it’s a healthy experience to explore with a willing partner.- People frequently enjoy talking about sexually explicit topics within the first few minutes of conversation. They find it fun.- On a planet of 7 billion humans, there’s an absolute abundance of people who’d be thrilled to explore your sexual fantasies with you.- If I share my sexual interests openly, I’ll not only attract the attention of compatible partners more easily, but I’ll also help inspire others to be more open with their sexuality as well, thereby helping us all overcome unhealthy sexual repression. Immersing yourself in the exploration of your sexuality will help you identify, confront, and tear down many limiting beliefs — beliefs that are repressing you outside the bedroom as well. Sex energy is life energy. Your sexual limits reflect your life limits. Sex Skills Being a skilled lover is a line of personal development unto itself. How good are you at pleasing your partner? Do you consciously work on improving in this area of your life? Do you seek the advice of others who are more experienced than you? Do you ask your lovers how you can make your lovemaking even better? Do you read how-to books on sex? Do you go to sex workshops? Is this an area of your life you’re neglecting, or do you take charge of it and consciously work on becoming better and better? D/s requires even more skill development. Do you know how to safely and pleasurably dominate another person? Do you know how to please your partner from a submissive position? Such skills can even be applied outside the bedroom. For example, do you know how to lead your boss? Self-esteem Your self-esteem will play a major role in dictating the terms of your sex life. If you have high self-esteem, it’s much more likely you’ll enjoy a happy, healthy sex life. Do you feel worthy of having sexual abundance in your life? Is your self-esteem high enough to be able to handle a D/s session? Can you surrender yourself to someone else’s will for a while and still feel good about yourself during and afterwards? Can you feel good about your desire to dominate another person and welcome such an experience? How do you feel about broadcasting your sexual interests? Can you handle other people’s reactions? Could you handle it if your friends, family, and co-workers discovered what you were into? Is your self-esteem high enough to shrug off criticism and keep moving forward with no loss of enthusiasm, or do you have to hide everything from the public eye to protect your fragile self-image? How much of a chicken are you? Law of Attraction How well can you use the LoA to manifest compatible, willing sex partners? Are you surrounded by abundance, noticing that everywhere you look, fun sexual opportunities abound? Or do you live in a world of scarcity? Can you hold the intention for what you’d like to experience next and expect it to show up in your life quickly and easily? You’re creating this experience, you know. The quality of your sex life is a great indicator of your skill with the LoA. This is especially true when exploring D/s, and you’re looking to attract something more creative than vanilla sex. Fun and Enjoyment Does your sex life help you enjoy more positive emotions like unconditional love, bliss, and ecstasy? Do you feel good about your sex life at present? Are you happy? Are you having fun with it? Do you feel grateful for what you’re receiving? When you feel good, you spread that feeling to other parts of your life, and you also spread it to other people. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that someone else is willing to mate with you. It’s deliciously delightful to co-create a fun experience together, both physically and emotionally. You may find that these feelings are heightened when exploring D/s. To know that your partner cares enough to help you explore your sexuality in a less mainstream way can generate intense feelings of gratitude and connection. You’re human — enjoy your sexuality fully! Courage and Confidence How do you handle fear of rejection? Are you able to take action in spite of fear? Can you openly and shamelessly ask someone for what you want? Can you ask a particularly tasty looking morsel of humanity if s/he would like to “play together”? Or are you one of those soulless minions, missing countless opportunities because you’re too timid to speak up and ask for what you want? When you do find a sex partner, do you act all clingy and needy, afraid to lose him/her for fear you won’t be able to find anyone better? Do people feel compelled to lie to you to protect your feelings when they break up with you because they don’t think you can handle the truth? What about the fear of being judged? Can you publicly reveal that you enjoy what you enjoy, without worrying about being shamed or ridiculed for it? Can you say, “I absolutely love to dominate submissive women — that’s a huge turn-on for me”? Could you handle it if your parents knew that about you? No courage, no nookie. Social Conditioning Are you living your own life as an independent being, or are you trying to fit in to satisfy others’ expectations? Do you have the will to break with social conditioning when it runs afoul of your true desires? Can you explore what you want to explore, regardless of whether or not it’s socially acceptable? Success Are you getting the results you want in your sex life? Are you setting specific sex goals and achieving them? Are those goals in writing? Do you visualize them as real? Do you treat this part of your life differently than your career development, your finances, and your health? Are you sexually effective? Do you decide upon and then create the experiences you’d most like to have? Would you say this part of your life is a success… or a failure? And how does that reflect what’s happening in other parts of your life? Oneness Are you exploring your sexuality in a way that serves your good as well as the good of others? Are you a selfish lover, only concerned with your own pleasure? Or are you a generous and giving lover, creating pleasure for yourself and your partners? Does exploring your sexuality send positive ripples out into the world by boosting your happiness and the happiness of all who share your bed? Have you learned how to balance the fulfillment of your desires with the fulfillment of others’ desires? Can you embrace the asymmetical aspects of D/s without losing your alignment with Oneness? When you’re dominating, do you use your authority to pleasure your sub? And when you’re submitting, does your behavior delight your Dom? At the end of a session, are you both feeling happy and blissful? Can you share what you’re learning with others, so that they may benefit from your knowledge and experience? Can you help us co-create a less sexually repressed world, for the highest good of all? Do you care enough to help make that happen? Self-discipline Do you maintain good self-control, or do you take unsafe risks? Do you practice safe sex even in the height of passion? Can you make wise decisions when your brain is flooded with intoxicating hormones? Can you recognize when you’re emotionally compromised with infatuation and shouldn’t make major long-term decisions? Do you have the self-discipline to stop yourself from doing something really stupid? You can use D/s to test and to build your self-discipline. How long can you handle being told what to do as a sub — what are the limits of your obedience? And as a Dom, how well can you maintain consensual control over your sub? Receiving Do you allow yourself to receive pleasure? Do you feel guilty about asking for what you want? Can you expect your lover to do what pleases you most, even if it’s a bit unorthodox? If you can’t receive in the bedroom, maybe that explains why you’re broke too. Fix the problem in the bedroom, and notice what happens to your wallet. Power When you play the Dom role, how good are you at taking the lead? Do you feel comfortable with the burden of responsibility? Are you strong enough to handle that role? When you play as a sub, how good are you at implementing your Dom’s commands? Are you able to respond with loyalty and obedience, or do you become restless and resistant? How do these bedroom roles reflect challenges in other parts of your life? Do you have problems making clear, strong decisions (bad Dom)? Do you have problems sticking with your decisions long enough to fully implement them (bad sub)? Explore these roles in the bedroom, and notice what you learn about your fundamental strengths and weaknesses in the area of Power. As you build your capacity to handle these roles in the bedroom, you can increase your alignment with Power and grow stronger outside the bedroom. Balance and Variety After you’ve been dominated by your boss at the office all day, wouldn’t it be nice to return home and be greeted with, “How may your willing slave serve you this evening, Master?” Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy someone who takes exquisite delight in carrying out your every command, sexual or otherwise? How about ordering your slave to make and serve your favorite meal, followed by a one-hour massage, and then some deliciously passionate sex — all because your slave truly loves doing those things for you? On the other hand, if your work life puts you in a role of great responsibility where you must make many tricky decisions, wouldn’t it be nice to release and let go of that responsibility in your private life? How would it feel to completely surrender yourself to the will of a strong, powerful, trustworthy individual who delights in taking charge of your personal pleasure? D/s can be used to restore balance to an otherwise unbalanced life. You may not understand people who enjoy one role or the other, but I assure you they exist in great abundance. Truth Pay attention and notice what’s happening. What’s the Truth about your sex life? Is your love life littered by a trail of broken hearts you’ve left behind? Or when people interact with you sexually, do you take responsibility for leaving them better off for having known you? Do you use sexual connections to help people feel good, to heal, and to share love and passion? Or do you use people like objects and then abandon them? Do you maintain positive ongoing relations with your past lovers, even if you’ve grown more distant with the passage of time? Or do you leave people feeling scorned, resentful, and disconnected? Is your personal exploration of sexuality helping to improve the lives of others along the way? Are you using your sexuality as a positive force for good? Do you really believe that having sex with you is a good and healthy experience for others in the long run? Are you certain of that? Do you consciously choose lovers with a healthy, happy sexual history and good relations with past lovers? It’s a wonderful feeling to look back on your past lovers and to see clear evidence that they’re much better off for having known you. It feels good to know that by expressing yourself sexually, you’re actually doing some good. This is what it means to be a conscious lover. Given these many areas of overlap between D/s and personal development (and many more I didn’t list here), it should be abundantly clear that D/s can be a tremendous growth accelerator, assuming you approach it with such an intention. While it may seem like a “naughty” subject to discuss openly, the reality is that exploring sexual power exchanges can help you learn a great deal more about yourself, enjoy a variety of delightful pleasures, and develop your strength of character in ways you can scarcely imagine… not to mention that it can be a heck of a lot of FUN. 
    Jul 12, 2011 821
  • 12 Jul 2011
    I want to share some thoughts on an interesting dynamic I’ve been observing as I continue to explore domination and submission (D/s) with my consensual slave partner. A key aspect of personal growth is that in order to grow, we must stretch beyond our comfort zones and experience something new. If we stay within our comfort zones and stick to the familiar, we deny ourselves the opportunity for expansion. Yet we don’t know for certain how new possibilities will impact us until we dive in and experience them. Many years ago I thought about being an entrepreneur. Since I’d never done it before, I couldn’t be sure if I’d like it or if I’d be good at it. It was outside my comfort zone. When I tried it, it turned out that I liked it and got good at it, so of course I stuck with it. But what if I never tried it because I was too worried it wouldn’t work out? Many people are in a similar situation right now, hesitant to make a move into the exploration of the unknown. What if there were an easier way to try out some bold new experien