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  • 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.
    697 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 697
  • 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.
    813 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 813
  • 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.
    710 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 710
  • 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?
    956 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 956
  • 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!
    640 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 640
  • 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?
    1099 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 1099
  • 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.
    894 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 894
  • 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.
    697 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 697
  • 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.
    713 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 713
  • 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.
    785 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 785
  • 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.
    701 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 701
  • 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.
    1016 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 1016
  • 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.   
    780 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.   
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  • 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.
    675 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 675
  • 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.
    717 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 717
  • 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. 
    647 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 647
  • 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. 
    816 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 816
  • 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 experiences but with a lower risk of failure? For example, what if you had a free-working slave at your disposal to help you start a new business, someone who will gladly do anything you ask for no pay? Would that make it easier to succeed at getting the new business up and running? Of course it would, assuming that your slave is reasonably competent. You could focus on making good decisions and command your slave do most of the implementation work. You could be a lot more productive than if you tried to do everything yourself. A free slave would take much of the burden off your shoulders. On the other hand, what if instead of a slave, you recruited a free manager for your new business, someone competent, focused, and disciplined? Your manager makes all the high-level decisions and tells you exactly what to do step by step. You don’t have to think about strategy. You can simply trust your manager and focus on taking daily action. Your manager observes the effectiveness of your actions and continually adjusts course and coaches you to improve. Might that business also be more likely to succeed? So would you agree that all else being equal, you’d be more likely to succeed as an entrepreneur if you could start your business with either a free slave or a free manager, assuming they’re competent? And if you can see in advance that you’re likely to succeed, wouldn’t you be more willing to dive in and try it? Wouldn’t you also be willing to stretch and take more risks in your business? Now consider this. Would these businesses also be good experiences for the slave and the manager? Could you fathom that they might also benefit tremendously from it? For example, what if the slave is, in real life, someone just starting out on their career path, and even though they work for free, they gain tremendously valuable experience. This “slave” is essentially an intern. Similarly, the manager could be thought of as a mentor or board member. Many variations are also possible, whereby the slave and manager could easily share in the rewards of the business. Hopefully you get the idea. The point is that a partnership with an unequal power structure can have some serious advantages, and it could very well turn out much better than a partnership with two equal partners who share responsibility for all decisions and actions in a more balanced way. Well, this is essentially how a D/s relationship works behind the scenes, except that instead of trying to build a business, the partners come together to help each other grow as human beings. Although it looks asymmetrical on the surface, D/s actually has a very balanced way of fostering new growth experiences for both partners. One simple reason this happens is that it reduces the risk of failure. It also creates a dynamic whereby if a failure experience does happen, it’s no big deal. Dominant Perspective For the dominant person, you have the opportunity to wield total control over another person. This means you can create all sorts of new experiences “by your command.” Your free slave gives you more power and more creative options. Now initially, you may use that power to create all the experiences you know you want to try but never had the chance to do yet. And maybe you’ll also try many familiar things that you know for certain you like. You may want to explore whatever feels good to you. But after you’ve done that, if you keep repeating those same experiences in the same way, it will probably become less and less interesting. So you keep adding new things to try. Eventually as you keep going, you hit the edge of your comfort zone. Now you have the opportunity to progress beyond it. Will you use your power to create an experience with your slave that you aren’t sure you’ll like? Will you use your power to explore a whole new world of possibilities? Your extra power gives you the opportunity to do that with much less risk. With a free slave at your disposal, you can take more risks and try new things that you couldn’t justify trying without the free slave. Also, it makes sense to help your slave become a more capable and competent servant. By helping your slave grow, you increase your slave’s power, thereby allowing you both to experience even more together. A highly competent slave is more useful than a novice slave. Submissive Perspective On the submissive side, you get the experience of being commanded. Initially you may be commanded to do many things that are still within your comfort zone. However, your Master can also command you to do things that lie outside your comfort zone, thereby creating new growth experiences, should you choose to accept them. Remember that since this is a consensual arrangement, you’re always free to decline something that feels wrong for you. While you don’t have the power to decide how your Master manages you, you do have the ability to influence your Master in many ways. You can encourage him/her to push you in the ways you most desire to explore. But more importantly, you are still in charge of your overall experience because you’re choosing to enter into this type of relationship. This is similar to the choice an intern makes. Interns don’t control every detail of their growth experience in terms of what specific tasks will be assigned, but they do choose the overall experience by deciding where to intern. And they may be better off doing that anyway. When entering a new field, someone else may be better qualified to manage the intern’s professional growth for a while, like an experienced manager or mentor. It’s a Lot Like Life It’s interesting that regardless of whether you choose to be on the dominant side or the submissive one, the potential to accelerate your personal growth is there. I’m not saying it’s a bad choice to have an equal partner. An equal partner can have certain advantages too. I’m simply pointing out that there are some very interesting growth opportunities that arises from relationships with an asymmetrical power exchange. We could also discuss what can go wrong with such an arrangement, but that isn’t unique to D/s relationships. An equal partnership entails at least as much risk as a D/s relationship… and perhaps even more risk if the shared responsibilities become murky and unclear. Going back to our business start-up example, if you were going to watch two equally competent people start a new business, and you have to make a bet on who would enjoy the greatest success, which of the two would you bet on? A new business with two equal partners with shared responsibility for making decisions and taking action A business whereby one partner works as the manager and makes all the key decisions, and the other partner works as the slave and implements all of the manager’s decisions. That’s an interesting bet, isn’t it? The most accurate answer is probably, “It depends.” But surely you can imagine scenarios in which the second business model would outperform the first. I certainly can, especially since the manager and the slave have the potential to specialize their skill sets instead of each of them trying to become good at everything. And naturally we can come up with hybrid models that are somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. We end up with similar possibilities when we ask these same questions about human relationships in general. Forget All About Equality D/s creates some interesting opportunities for helping each other learn and grow in ways that are less likely to be experienced in a power-balanced partnership. As I get to know my partner better, I see things in her that I can tell she’d like to explore and express, and by commanding her, I give her “permission” to explore those things. She doesn’t have to feel responsible for going there because I’m assuming responsibility on her behalf. If it doesn’t feel good to her, she’s always free to say no. But if she isn’t sure if she’ll like it or not, the command nudges her to go for it and see how it feels to her. I can push her in ways she’d probably never push herself. I can see potential within her that she doesn’t realize is there. Similarly, she can push me in new directions by giving me feedback that draws out new behaviors from me, such as by playfully teasing me or by how she responds to my commands. And I’m willing to try new things with her because after all, I have total control of her anyway, so I can do whatever I want with her. I don’t have to worry about scaring her off because I know she’ll stop me if I do something that’s a problem for her. Consequently, she and I are both gracefully sliding into the space of doing things with each other that we’ve never done before. Through this power exchange dynamic, we’re helping each other to let go and play freely together. We’re exploring new possibilities. We’re trying out new behaviors. How does it feel to us to do things that are more playful? More sensual? More emotional? More erotic? More naughty? Because she and I are both committed to conscious growth, we can use the D/s power exchange to achieve personal breakthroughs that might otherwise never happen in a more vanilla relationship. I think one of the reasons D/s works so well is that it’s based on total and complete acceptance of each other. The submissive accepts the dominant’s authority fully, so there’s no resistance or lack of acceptance there. And similarly the dominant accepts complete responsibility for and ownership of the submissive, so again there’s no resistance. With unconditional acceptance on both sides, each partner gains the freedom to relax and let loose, knowing they don’t have to worry about rejection or judgment. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to explore such things whilst knowing that your partner is completely loyal to you and fully accepting of you no matter what? Let’s Play…  Sharing comfort-zone-busting growth experiences is fun and exciting, and that excitement can easily spread to others. My slave, for example, has been posting in our discussion forums with an anonymous account for the past several days, playfully calling me Master, interacting with other members, and playfully teasing people who try to guess her real life identity. This gives everyone a chance to see how we interact with each other and gain a better understanding of D/s. I think it’s obvious to people that she and I are having fun together and that we’re happy with a D/s-style dynamic for now, and based on how other forum members have been reacting to her presence, it’s clearly contagious.  Perhaps an even more important point is to be careful not to dismiss a potential new growth experience out of hand. Be cautious about judging what you’ve never experienced or what you’ve experienced only in a limited way. If you’ve never experienced a particular dynamic firsthand, it’s safe to say you don’t have a clue what it’s really like. If you cast judgment from the outside looking in, all you’re doing is limiting yourself. I think it’s better to keep an open mind about that which you’ve never tried. Don’t buy into the social conditioning that encourages you to pre-condemn with prejudice. Our society cannot progress much until we drop such limiting thoughts.
    774 Posted by UniqueThis
  • 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 experiences but with a lower risk of failure? For example, what if you had a free-working slave at your disposal to help you start a new business, someone who will gladly do anything you ask for no pay? Would that make it easier to succeed at getting the new business up and running? Of course it would, assuming that your slave is reasonably competent. You could focus on making good decisions and command your slave do most of the implementation work. You could be a lot more productive than if you tried to do everything yourself. A free slave would take much of the burden off your shoulders. On the other hand, what if instead of a slave, you recruited a free manager for your new business, someone competent, focused, and disciplined? Your manager makes all the high-level decisions and tells you exactly what to do step by step. You don’t have to think about strategy. You can simply trust your manager and focus on taking daily action. Your manager observes the effectiveness of your actions and continually adjusts course and coaches you to improve. Might that business also be more likely to succeed? So would you agree that all else being equal, you’d be more likely to succeed as an entrepreneur if you could start your business with either a free slave or a free manager, assuming they’re competent? And if you can see in advance that you’re likely to succeed, wouldn’t you be more willing to dive in and try it? Wouldn’t you also be willing to stretch and take more risks in your business? Now consider this. Would these businesses also be good experiences for the slave and the manager? Could you fathom that they might also benefit tremendously from it? For example, what if the slave is, in real life, someone just starting out on their career path, and even though they work for free, they gain tremendously valuable experience. This “slave” is essentially an intern. Similarly, the manager could be thought of as a mentor or board member. Many variations are also possible, whereby the slave and manager could easily share in the rewards of the business. Hopefully you get the idea. The point is that a partnership with an unequal power structure can have some serious advantages, and it could very well turn out much better than a partnership with two equal partners who share responsibility for all decisions and actions in a more balanced way. Well, this is essentially how a D/s relationship works behind the scenes, except that instead of trying to build a business, the partners come together to help each other grow as human beings. Although it looks asymmetrical on the surface, D/s actually has a very balanced way of fostering new growth experiences for both partners. One simple reason this happens is that it reduces the risk of failure. It also creates a dynamic whereby if a failure experience does happen, it’s no big deal. Dominant Perspective For the dominant person, you have the opportunity to wield total control over another person. This means you can create all sorts of new experiences “by your command.” Your free slave gives you more power and more creative options. Now initially, you may use that power to create all the experiences you know you want to try but never had the chance to do yet. And maybe you’ll also try many familiar things that you know for certain you like. You may want to explore whatever feels good to you. But after you’ve done that, if you keep repeating those same experiences in the same way, it will probably become less and less interesting. So you keep adding new things to try. Eventually as you keep going, you hit the edge of your comfort zone. Now you have the opportunity to progress beyond it. Will you use your power to create an experience with your slave that you aren’t sure you’ll like? Will you use your power to explore a whole new world of possibilities? Your extra power gives you the opportunity to do that with much less risk. With a free slave at your disposal, you can take more risks and try new things that you couldn’t justify trying without the free slave. Also, it makes sense to help your slave become a more capable and competent servant. By helping your slave grow, you increase your slave’s power, thereby allowing you both to experience even more together. A highly competent slave is more useful than a novice slave. Submissive Perspective On the submissive side, you get the experience of being commanded. Initially you may be commanded to do many things that are still within your comfort zone. However, your Master can also command you to do things that lie outside your comfort zone, thereby creating new growth experiences, should you choose to accept them. Remember that since this is a consensual arrangement, you’re always free to decline something that feels wrong for you. While you don’t have the power to decide how your Master manages you, you do have the ability to influence your Master in many ways. You can encourage him/her to push you in the ways you most desire to explore. But more importantly, you are still in charge of your overall experience because you’re choosing to enter into this type of relationship. This is similar to the choice an intern makes. Interns don’t control every detail of their growth experience in terms of what specific tasks will be assigned, but they do choose the overall experience by deciding where to intern. And they may be better off doing that anyway. When entering a new field, someone else may be better qualified to manage the intern’s professional growth for a while, like an experienced manager or mentor. It’s a Lot Like Life It’s interesting that regardless of whether you choose to be on the dominant side or the submissive one, the potential to accelerate your personal growth is there. I’m not saying it’s a bad choice to have an equal partner. An equal partner can have certain advantages too. I’m simply pointing out that there are some very interesting growth opportunities that arises from relationships with an asymmetrical power exchange. We could also discuss what can go wrong with such an arrangement, but that isn’t unique to D/s relationships. An equal partnership entails at least as much risk as a D/s relationship… and perhaps even more risk if the shared responsibilities become murky and unclear. Going back to our business start-up example, if you were going to watch two equally competent people start a new business, and you have to make a bet on who would enjoy the greatest success, which of the two would you bet on? A new business with two equal partners with shared responsibility for making decisions and taking action A business whereby one partner works as the manager and makes all the key decisions, and the other partner works as the slave and implements all of the manager’s decisions. That’s an interesting bet, isn’t it? The most accurate answer is probably, “It depends.” But surely you can imagine scenarios in which the second business model would outperform the first. I certainly can, especially since the manager and the slave have the potential to specialize their skill sets instead of each of them trying to become good at everything. And naturally we can come up with hybrid models that are somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. We end up with similar possibilities when we ask these same questions about human relationships in general. Forget All About Equality D/s creates some interesting opportunities for helping each other learn and grow in ways that are less likely to be experienced in a power-balanced partnership. As I get to know my partner better, I see things in her that I can tell she’d like to explore and express, and by commanding her, I give her “permission” to explore those things. She doesn’t have to feel responsible for going there because I’m assuming responsibility on her behalf. If it doesn’t feel good to her, she’s always free to say no. But if she isn’t sure if she’ll like it or not, the command nudges her to go for it and see how it feels to her. I can push her in ways she’d probably never push herself. I can see potential within her that she doesn’t realize is there. Similarly, she can push me in new directions by giving me feedback that draws out new behaviors from me, such as by playfully teasing me or by how she responds to my commands. And I’m willing to try new things with her because after all, I have total control of her anyway, so I can do whatever I want with her. I don’t have to worry about scaring her off because I know she’ll stop me if I do something that’s a problem for her. Consequently, she and I are both gracefully sliding into the space of doing things with each other that we’ve never done before. Through this power exchange dynamic, we’re helping each other to let go and play freely together. We’re exploring new possibilities. We’re trying out new behaviors. How does it feel to us to do things that are more playful? More sensual? More emotional? More erotic? More naughty? Because she and I are both committed to conscious growth, we can use the D/s power exchange to achieve personal breakthroughs that might otherwise never happen in a more vanilla relationship. I think one of the reasons D/s works so well is that it’s based on total and complete acceptance of each other. The submissive accepts the dominant’s authority fully, so there’s no resistance or lack of acceptance there. And similarly the dominant accepts complete responsibility for and ownership of the submissive, so again there’s no resistance. With unconditional acceptance on both sides, each partner gains the freedom to relax and let loose, knowing they don’t have to worry about rejection or judgment. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to explore such things whilst knowing that your partner is completely loyal to you and fully accepting of you no matter what? Let’s Play…  Sharing comfort-zone-busting growth experiences is fun and exciting, and that excitement can easily spread to others. My slave, for example, has been posting in our discussion forums with an anonymous account for the past several days, playfully calling me Master, interacting with other members, and playfully teasing people who try to guess her real life identity. This gives everyone a chance to see how we interact with each other and gain a better understanding of D/s. I think it’s obvious to people that she and I are having fun together and that we’re happy with a D/s-style dynamic for now, and based on how other forum members have been reacting to her presence, it’s clearly contagious.  Perhaps an even more important point is to be careful not to dismiss a potential new growth experience out of hand. Be cautious about judging what you’ve never experienced or what you’ve experienced only in a limited way. If you’ve never experienced a particular dynamic firsthand, it’s safe to say you don’t have a clue what it’s really like. If you cast judgment from the outside looking in, all you’re doing is limiting yourself. I think it’s better to keep an open mind about that which you’ve never tried. Don’t buy into the social conditioning that encourages you to pre-condemn with prejudice. Our society cannot progress much until we drop such limiting thoughts.
    Jul 12, 2011 774
  • 12 Jul 2011
    If you’d like to boost your productivity far beyond the results you get with the 9-to-5 grind, an interesting alternative work schedule to consider is the One Week On, One Week Off approach. Instead of working week after week, you alternate between one intensive work week followed by one vacation/personal week. This method isn’t very well publicized, but it’s commonly practiced by some of the most successful business people in the world. I first learned of it several years ago when Jay Abraham mentioned it on one of his audio programs. He said that it was a method Napoleon Hill had learned from many successful people while doing the research for Think and Grow Rich but that Hill didn’t comprehend why it was so effective and therefore didn’t integrate it into his book. There are many variations on this method. Some people work for one week and then take two weeks off. Some do two weeks on, two weeks off. Some do one week on, three weeks off. The basic concept is that you work in fairly short intense bursts of no more than a week or two at a time (one week seems to be an upper limit for most people), followed by a period of no work for at least a week. On Weeks During your “on” weeks, your focus is on work, work, and little else but work. You can limit yourself to 40 hours, but it’s wise to experiment with longer hours. Try pushing yourself to do 60, 80, or even 100+ hours of work during this week. Fully engage in what you’re doing. Play full out. Pick one project, and make a big dent in it during this time. Don’t get caught up in minor busywork. Bite off a meaningful piece of work, and get it done quickly and with solid focus. Work hard. End your days with a feeling of being spent. Put off distractions. You can always watch TV and surf the Internet later. Tell yourself that it’s only a week… really just a few days… little more than a cup of coffee. The time will pass quickly if you immerse yourself in a project. Your goal is to fully engage in what you’re doing for this short period of time. Allow yourself to become obsessed with your work during this time. Everything else can wait. Friends and social outings can wait. Family can wait. Personal tasks can wait. Recycle your dirty clothes if you must, but stick with solid work tasks during this time. Remember — it’s only a week. Off Weeks An “off” week is all about sharpening the saw. Let me clarify that this is NOT the same thing as having a lazy week. It’s not about taking time off and chilling out. That’s the equivalent of putting the saw down. The blade won’t get any sharper if you just put it down. Off weeks are a time for personal renewal and fun. This is the time to really live. Go out and have a life. Think of your off weeks as vacation weeks. Treat them as seriously as you do your work weeks. However, instead of focusing on your work life, focus all your attention on one or more aspects of your personal life. Go travel to another city during this time. Have some fun new experiences. Go skydiving or scuba diving. Read a few new books. Go out and spend many hours with friends. Attend a workshop or seminar. Learn to dance. Do something that will enrich your life instead of just spinning your wheels. If you have a family, consider taking a week to be with your family, giving them your full attention during this time. But don’t just sit around doing nothing. Go out and do fun activities with them each day. Travel to a new city with them. Go to the beach. Go camping. Go outside! You can also “work” on personal projects during this time. Clean out your garage. Purge and donate unwanted items. Replant your garden. Benefits of This Method Why would you want to manage your life this way? Here are some of the benefits. Motivation Because of the time constraints, you’ll likely see a major boost in your motivation. Knowing that you’re going on vacation in a few days can help you flow through a lot of work. And knowing that your vacation week will soon end can help you pack in a lot more renewal time. You will typically hit the start of your workweek with a strong desire to work. (If that doesn’t happen, you should definitely consider a career change.) And you’ll hit your off weeks with a strong desire to focus on your personal life for a while. Before you have a chance to start feeling demotivated and bored, it’s time to switch cycles. This keeps life fresh, interesting, and fun. Focus Instead of trying to work on all parts of your life in a single day or two, you focus on one important slice at a time. It’s okay to be largely unavailable for your significant other during your on weeks if you know you’ll be 100% present for him/her during an off week. This is far superior to not being fully present week after week. Would you like it better if you had a significant other who was 100% there for you, enjoying your company for days at a time, but you also had breaks of several days where you each focused on other parts of your lives? If this sounds interesting to you, then try it. You can always switch back if you don’t like it. Productivity The productivity boost can be significant due to your increased motivation and focus during the work weeks. But it’s also interesting to note that your personal weeks can be just as productive. Instead of wasting your personal days on idleness, you’ll be putting those days to good use. Also, the weekly flip-flopping helps you think more realistically in terms of planning and scheduling. You’ll be inclined to start thinking ahead and allocating certain weeks to projects, travel, etc. This is a good discipline to develop. It helps you avoid biting off more than you can chew. In one solid week of focused work on high value tasks, you can easily exceed the normal output of two regular weeks. So even though it seems like you’re taking a lot more time off, this overall method is geared to produce a net productivity gain compared to sustained back-to-back 40-hour weeks. Don’t overlook the positive impact this method can have on your personal life. When you work week after week and only take weekends off, it takes a huge toll on your personal life that you don’t even see. Weekends and evenings just aren’t enough to have a life outside of work. You need to devote significant chunks of time to the personal side as well. Otherwise your work will seem endless, and your motivation and passion will eventually tank, even if you normally enjoy your work. Money Higher productivity can easily generate an income boost. Money isn’t a result of time spent at the office. Hourly rates are largely a joke. Money flows from completing important tasks that deliver value. During your on weeks, you’ll be focused oncompleting meaningful projects and tasks. What can you finish before the week is up? Also, your off weeks will give you more motivation to boost your income because that’s a great time to enjoy your money. You can expect to spend a lot more money during your off weeks, especially if you love to travel, eat out, and enjoy fun experiences that cost money. When you get a taste of what your money can do for you if you spend it wisely (to enrich your life instead of creating clutter), you’ll be more motivated to earn even more, so you can continue the pattern. Imagine how fun it would be to take one or two weeklong vacations each month — and still get more work done than you do now. A lot of very wealthy people use this method or something similar. For example, in the personal development field, many friends of mine will put on a seminar for a week, during which they’ll work very hard, sometimes 12-16 hours per day. After that week they’re totally spent and hardly capable of productive work, even though their work is very fulfilling. So they’ll take off for a week or two or three and go travel, play golf, or spend time with their families. They try to do very little work during their off weeks. Once they’re restored they return to the office and begin working intensely on another project for a week or two, and their families don’t see them much during this time. Because they focus on high-value tasks while working, they can generate more than enough income during one solid workweek to offset a month of expenses, even while traveling and vacationing. Balance This method may look unbalanced at first, but it can actually create more balance in the long run because it helps ensure that you attend to your professional and your personal life without allowing one side to overpower the other. You’ll work hard with this approach, but you’ll also play hard and have a lot of fun. Your life will become both productive and enjoyable. It feels great to be in such a state of flow. Think of all the cool personal projects, experiences, and vacations you’d love to indulge in — if you only had the time. Well, just imagine what it would be like if you devoted 26 weeks — minimum! — to that side of your life this year. No one is stopping you from making this a reality but you. You really hate it when I remind you that you’re 100% responsible for your results in life, don’t you?  Perspective Alternating between your work life and personal life helps you regain perspective periodically. For example, during your work weeks, your subconscious mind will be processing some of the experiences from your last off week. How could you have enjoyed that week even more? Did you hold back? Did you overindulge? During your off weeks, you’ll be processing many work-related ideas in the background. When you start on a fresh week, you’ll be kicking it off with a fresh perspective, inspired by new ideas. This helps you avoid getting stuck in long-term patterns that don’t serve you. There are other benefits of course. These are just a few to get you thinking. Personal Experiences and Some Tips I’d like to share some extra tips based on my personal experiences that may help you avoid some pitfalls and gain some additional insights. I haven’t used this method religiously, but to the degree I’ve applied it at various times in my life (sometimes accidentally), it’s been effective. This year I’m aiming to apply it more deliberately than I have in the past. So far I’m off to a great start. First, it’s important to keep a reasonably solid line of separation between your work weeks and personal weeks. Decide what goes in each week, and do your best to prevent cross-cycle leaks. During your on weeks, put your personal life on the back burner, and focus hard on your work. During your off weeks, do as little work as possible, and indulge deeply on the personal side. I still check email and handle some communications during an off week, but I keep it to a minimum, ideally just 15-30 minutes per day, sometimes less. I delay any complex business communication until the next work cycle. People understand if I respond with a quick note to let them know I’m traveling and will follow up with them in a week or two. If you’re sloppy about keeping a hard line of division between your on weeks and your off weeks, you’ll lose the benefits of immersion. It’s like getting non-restful sleep and then being a zombie the next day. Second, don’t neglect your off weeks. This isn’t just time off to hang out and be lazy. This is an active time for growth, renewal, or completing personal projects. If you need a break or a lazy day (which is totally fine), use the weekends for that, or give yourself a down day or two between cycles. But don’t go through your off week in a semi-conscious haze of web surfing and TV watching. This is the time to really go out and have a life. Travel is a terrific use of an off week, especially if it keeps you away from your work environment. Attending a workshop is another great use of off weeks. Even immersing yourself in computer games for the whole week is great if you love playing a certain game. Indulge fully in your personal desires — guilt-free. Third, the perspective shifts that come from switching cycles are really powerful. They can accelerate your growth tremendously by giving you time to reflect with some distance. During an off week, I keep getting ideas for new articles I want to write, so I’m bursting with ideas when I finally get back to work. I also gain a better perspective on which work tasks are worthwhile and which aren’t. When I have limited time for work before going on vacation again, low-value work tasks become annoying really fast because they steal time from high-value work. Low-value tasks don’t generate serious income, which means they don’t help me on the personal side either. Emotional feedback plays an important role here. How I feel during one cycle has a lot to do with what happened during the previous cycle. If I blow my work week on trivial stuff, I don’t feel as good during an off week. I regret that I didn’t work as intelligently during the last work cycle, and it’s a little bit harder to fully enjoy the personal side. This helps me commit to a better work cycle the next time. However, since the off weeks are still guaranteed, I don’t have the option of deluding myself into thinking that I can steal time from my personal life to make up for low productivity at work. While I’m in the midst of a workweek, I get ideas for how I can improve my next off week. For example, my girlfriend and I were a bit too indulgent food-wise during our last week together. (L.A. just has so many incredible vegan restaurants.) That can be fun every now and then, but it’s not a wise idea to do that every week we spend together. So next time we may want to tone down that aspect and incorporate more exercise (the vertical kind, that is). An overindulgent week now and then is okay, but in the long run it’s important to strive for balance. On the bright side, it became clear that we both love traveling together, and we have the flexible lifestyles to make that a reality, so we’ve been discussing other cities we might explore together this year. Fourth, the intensity that comes from such immersion is really awesome. When you give yourself permission to blow off all personal concerns and fully immerse yourself in work for a week, it seems clear that you can get a lot done. But more important than the quantity of work is the quality of work you can produce during the times you can work for days on end without distractions. This is especially powerful on the personal side, especially when it comes to relationships. Instead of going on dates for a few hours at a time with big gaps in between, imagine diving into a new relationship by spending days on end with each other 24/7. Consider what it would be like to go on a date — even a first date — for a whole week instead of for a single night, including sleeping together every night and sharing every meal together. That can get pretty intense, but if you can handle it, you can build a connection in a matter of days that might otherwise take months. Applying this to dating might sound strange, but take a moment to ponder all the good practices you’d have to adopt in order to commit to a weeklong first date with someone. You’d probably get really good at pre-screening people for compatibility, so you wouldn’t have to deal with bad dates. And your communication skills will advance very quickly if you’re going to be with the same person for a full week. But since you also know the week will eventually end, it motivates you to enjoy the time spent with your partner as much as possible without taking him or her for granted. You can use this approach with your family too. Instead of being a half-assed parent on nights and weekends because you’re burnt out from weeks of endless work, consider spending a week out of every month with your family. Give them your full attention during that time. Lately I’ve been thinking about how I might travel with my kids and explore different cities with them, especially when they’re in their teen years and capable of enjoying more of the grown-up stuff. Fifth, the alternations are more important than the durations. It’s not that critical how many days you spend on each side. What matters most is that you keep shifting back and forth to keep your motivation for both sides sky-high. At the start of this year, I spent a week working hard to prep for the January Conscious Growth Workshop. I also spoke at a friend’s workshop. Then I spent several days hanging out with my girlfriend Rachelle, during which time I didn’t do much work at all. Then I did the workshop, after which I felt totally spent, and less than 48 hours later I was in Puerto Rico for a weeklong leadership retreat. I gave a one-hour presentation there, but the main focus of the week was personal renewal, so it was definitely an off week for me. Next I returned to Vegas and spent more time with Rachelle, had a poker night with friends, and spent a day at Circus Circus with Erin and the kids. Then Rachelle went to Hollywood, and I worked solo in Vegas for a few days. Next I headed to Hollywood to spend a few days with her there for her birthday, “kidnapped” her back to Vegas with me for the weekend, and then returned to Hollywood to spend another week with her there. When we were in Vegas, she and I also enjoyed a night of wrestling, video games, and hide-and-go-seek with the kids, and we saw two movies and a show on the Strip. While I was enjoying my off time, I did virtually no work. I didn’t do much blogging and spent only minimal time on communication. Most of that time Rachelle and I were busy having fun together 24/7. Last week we enjoyed a day at Disneyland, explored the L.A. Natural History Museum, strolled along Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, shared a walk along the beach under the stars, attended an L.A. social meet-up, and indulged in a lot more gourmet vegan and raw food than we should have (including a 6-course gourmet raw dinner for Valentine’s Day). At the end of the week, Rachelle and I noted that we had committed 4 of the 7 deadly sins. During breakfast yesterday I tried to piss her off so we could check off wrath as well, but my best efforts only made her laugh at me and roll her eyes. Later that morning she definitively kicked my ass at Star Trek trivia for the second time in a row. “Khhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaannnnn!” Today I’m back in Vegas, and after so much indulgence in my personal life, I’m filled with a renewed drive to get some serious work done, starting with this blog post. No girlfriend in town (which is good for Rachelle too because she needs to work on her next play — she’s a playwright and an actress). Then in a few more days it will be time to shift into personal mode since my family and Erin’s family are coming to town this weekend to celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday. Wow… 10 already. They really do grow up fast.  These back-and-forth shifts don’t fall cleanly on weekly borders, and that’s okay. The benefits come from the shifting. The duration of each cycle isn’t as important as the fact that you do cycle — and cycle often. A weekend — even a 3-day weekend — simply isn’t long enough to complete a serious renewal cycle. Six to seven days is a more realistic minimum. It normally takes a few days just to let go of work and become fully immersed in vacation mode (or personal project mode). Taking off every weekend doesn’t cut it. Think of taking a full week off as the minimum, not the maximum. You’d be surprised to learn how many people achieve awesome productivity results with cycles closer to one week on, two or three weeks off. After taking so much time off for personal renewal, they’re itching to get back to work, so their on weeks are highly productive. * * * If you’ve never tried this method before, I encourage you to experiment with it. If this is the first time you’ve heard about it, it may sound a bit alien. You may have a hard time grasping why it works. But don’t reject it out of hand just because you’ve been conditioned to work a certain way. For now simply let this idea sit there in the back of your mind, and remain open to trying it at some point when that becomes realistic for you. This idea will resurface and nag at you when the time is right. Obviously you need a flexible work schedule to pull this off, so it’s up to you to create that. Whatever you do, don’t succumb to lame-ass excuses like “My boss won’t let me.” (If you were about to blurt out some wimpy, whiny, give-away-your-power crap like that, you need to read this article and then this one. And for good measure, this one too.) You chose your boss, your employer, work environment, and your work schedule after all. You can’t pretend you don’t have the freedom to make this work schedule happen if you really want it. If you want the flexibility to experiment with higher levels of productivity and a richer personal life, then you’re always free to make new choices. You’re responsible for your results in life. Are you getting the results you desire?
    749 Posted by UniqueThis
  • If you’d like to boost your productivity far beyond the results you get with the 9-to-5 grind, an interesting alternative work schedule to consider is the One Week On, One Week Off approach. Instead of working week after week, you alternate between one intensive work week followed by one vacation/personal week. This method isn’t very well publicized, but it’s commonly practiced by some of the most successful business people in the world. I first learned of it several years ago when Jay Abraham mentioned it on one of his audio programs. He said that it was a method Napoleon Hill had learned from many successful people while doing the research for Think and Grow Rich but that Hill didn’t comprehend why it was so effective and therefore didn’t integrate it into his book. There are many variations on this method. Some people work for one week and then take two weeks off. Some do two weeks on, two weeks off. Some do one week on, three weeks off. The basic concept is that you work in fairly short intense bursts of no more than a week or two at a time (one week seems to be an upper limit for most people), followed by a period of no work for at least a week. On Weeks During your “on” weeks, your focus is on work, work, and little else but work. You can limit yourself to 40 hours, but it’s wise to experiment with longer hours. Try pushing yourself to do 60, 80, or even 100+ hours of work during this week. Fully engage in what you’re doing. Play full out. Pick one project, and make a big dent in it during this time. Don’t get caught up in minor busywork. Bite off a meaningful piece of work, and get it done quickly and with solid focus. Work hard. End your days with a feeling of being spent. Put off distractions. You can always watch TV and surf the Internet later. Tell yourself that it’s only a week… really just a few days… little more than a cup of coffee. The time will pass quickly if you immerse yourself in a project. Your goal is to fully engage in what you’re doing for this short period of time. Allow yourself to become obsessed with your work during this time. Everything else can wait. Friends and social outings can wait. Family can wait. Personal tasks can wait. Recycle your dirty clothes if you must, but stick with solid work tasks during this time. Remember — it’s only a week. Off Weeks An “off” week is all about sharpening the saw. Let me clarify that this is NOT the same thing as having a lazy week. It’s not about taking time off and chilling out. That’s the equivalent of putting the saw down. The blade won’t get any sharper if you just put it down. Off weeks are a time for personal renewal and fun. This is the time to really live. Go out and have a life. Think of your off weeks as vacation weeks. Treat them as seriously as you do your work weeks. However, instead of focusing on your work life, focus all your attention on one or more aspects of your personal life. Go travel to another city during this time. Have some fun new experiences. Go skydiving or scuba diving. Read a few new books. Go out and spend many hours with friends. Attend a workshop or seminar. Learn to dance. Do something that will enrich your life instead of just spinning your wheels. If you have a family, consider taking a week to be with your family, giving them your full attention during this time. But don’t just sit around doing nothing. Go out and do fun activities with them each day. Travel to a new city with them. Go to the beach. Go camping. Go outside! You can also “work” on personal projects during this time. Clean out your garage. Purge and donate unwanted items. Replant your garden. Benefits of This Method Why would you want to manage your life this way? Here are some of the benefits. Motivation Because of the time constraints, you’ll likely see a major boost in your motivation. Knowing that you’re going on vacation in a few days can help you flow through a lot of work. And knowing that your vacation week will soon end can help you pack in a lot more renewal time. You will typically hit the start of your workweek with a strong desire to work. (If that doesn’t happen, you should definitely consider a career change.) And you’ll hit your off weeks with a strong desire to focus on your personal life for a while. Before you have a chance to start feeling demotivated and bored, it’s time to switch cycles. This keeps life fresh, interesting, and fun. Focus Instead of trying to work on all parts of your life in a single day or two, you focus on one important slice at a time. It’s okay to be largely unavailable for your significant other during your on weeks if you know you’ll be 100% present for him/her during an off week. This is far superior to not being fully present week after week. Would you like it better if you had a significant other who was 100% there for you, enjoying your company for days at a time, but you also had breaks of several days where you each focused on other parts of your lives? If this sounds interesting to you, then try it. You can always switch back if you don’t like it. Productivity The productivity boost can be significant due to your increased motivation and focus during the work weeks. But it’s also interesting to note that your personal weeks can be just as productive. Instead of wasting your personal days on idleness, you’ll be putting those days to good use. Also, the weekly flip-flopping helps you think more realistically in terms of planning and scheduling. You’ll be inclined to start thinking ahead and allocating certain weeks to projects, travel, etc. This is a good discipline to develop. It helps you avoid biting off more than you can chew. In one solid week of focused work on high value tasks, you can easily exceed the normal output of two regular weeks. So even though it seems like you’re taking a lot more time off, this overall method is geared to produce a net productivity gain compared to sustained back-to-back 40-hour weeks. Don’t overlook the positive impact this method can have on your personal life. When you work week after week and only take weekends off, it takes a huge toll on your personal life that you don’t even see. Weekends and evenings just aren’t enough to have a life outside of work. You need to devote significant chunks of time to the personal side as well. Otherwise your work will seem endless, and your motivation and passion will eventually tank, even if you normally enjoy your work. Money Higher productivity can easily generate an income boost. Money isn’t a result of time spent at the office. Hourly rates are largely a joke. Money flows from completing important tasks that deliver value. During your on weeks, you’ll be focused oncompleting meaningful projects and tasks. What can you finish before the week is up? Also, your off weeks will give you more motivation to boost your income because that’s a great time to enjoy your money. You can expect to spend a lot more money during your off weeks, especially if you love to travel, eat out, and enjoy fun experiences that cost money. When you get a taste of what your money can do for you if you spend it wisely (to enrich your life instead of creating clutter), you’ll be more motivated to earn even more, so you can continue the pattern. Imagine how fun it would be to take one or two weeklong vacations each month — and still get more work done than you do now. A lot of very wealthy people use this method or something similar. For example, in the personal development field, many friends of mine will put on a seminar for a week, during which they’ll work very hard, sometimes 12-16 hours per day. After that week they’re totally spent and hardly capable of productive work, even though their work is very fulfilling. So they’ll take off for a week or two or three and go travel, play golf, or spend time with their families. They try to do very little work during their off weeks. Once they’re restored they return to the office and begin working intensely on another project for a week or two, and their families don’t see them much during this time. Because they focus on high-value tasks while working, they can generate more than enough income during one solid workweek to offset a month of expenses, even while traveling and vacationing. Balance This method may look unbalanced at first, but it can actually create more balance in the long run because it helps ensure that you attend to your professional and your personal life without allowing one side to overpower the other. You’ll work hard with this approach, but you’ll also play hard and have a lot of fun. Your life will become both productive and enjoyable. It feels great to be in such a state of flow. Think of all the cool personal projects, experiences, and vacations you’d love to indulge in — if you only had the time. Well, just imagine what it would be like if you devoted 26 weeks — minimum! — to that side of your life this year. No one is stopping you from making this a reality but you. You really hate it when I remind you that you’re 100% responsible for your results in life, don’t you?  Perspective Alternating between your work life and personal life helps you regain perspective periodically. For example, during your work weeks, your subconscious mind will be processing some of the experiences from your last off week. How could you have enjoyed that week even more? Did you hold back? Did you overindulge? During your off weeks, you’ll be processing many work-related ideas in the background. When you start on a fresh week, you’ll be kicking it off with a fresh perspective, inspired by new ideas. This helps you avoid getting stuck in long-term patterns that don’t serve you. There are other benefits of course. These are just a few to get you thinking. Personal Experiences and Some Tips I’d like to share some extra tips based on my personal experiences that may help you avoid some pitfalls and gain some additional insights. I haven’t used this method religiously, but to the degree I’ve applied it at various times in my life (sometimes accidentally), it’s been effective. This year I’m aiming to apply it more deliberately than I have in the past. So far I’m off to a great start. First, it’s important to keep a reasonably solid line of separation between your work weeks and personal weeks. Decide what goes in each week, and do your best to prevent cross-cycle leaks. During your on weeks, put your personal life on the back burner, and focus hard on your work. During your off weeks, do as little work as possible, and indulge deeply on the personal side. I still check email and handle some communications during an off week, but I keep it to a minimum, ideally just 15-30 minutes per day, sometimes less. I delay any complex business communication until the next work cycle. People understand if I respond with a quick note to let them know I’m traveling and will follow up with them in a week or two. If you’re sloppy about keeping a hard line of division between your on weeks and your off weeks, you’ll lose the benefits of immersion. It’s like getting non-restful sleep and then being a zombie the next day. Second, don’t neglect your off weeks. This isn’t just time off to hang out and be lazy. This is an active time for growth, renewal, or completing personal projects. If you need a break or a lazy day (which is totally fine), use the weekends for that, or give yourself a down day or two between cycles. But don’t go through your off week in a semi-conscious haze of web surfing and TV watching. This is the time to really go out and have a life. Travel is a terrific use of an off week, especially if it keeps you away from your work environment. Attending a workshop is another great use of off weeks. Even immersing yourself in computer games for the whole week is great if you love playing a certain game. Indulge fully in your personal desires — guilt-free. Third, the perspective shifts that come from switching cycles are really powerful. They can accelerate your growth tremendously by giving you time to reflect with some distance. During an off week, I keep getting ideas for new articles I want to write, so I’m bursting with ideas when I finally get back to work. I also gain a better perspective on which work tasks are worthwhile and which aren’t. When I have limited time for work before going on vacation again, low-value work tasks become annoying really fast because they steal time from high-value work. Low-value tasks don’t generate serious income, which means they don’t help me on the personal side either. Emotional feedback plays an important role here. How I feel during one cycle has a lot to do with what happened during the previous cycle. If I blow my work week on trivial stuff, I don’t feel as good during an off week. I regret that I didn’t work as intelligently during the last work cycle, and it’s a little bit harder to fully enjoy the personal side. This helps me commit to a better work cycle the next time. However, since the off weeks are still guaranteed, I don’t have the option of deluding myself into thinking that I can steal time from my personal life to make up for low productivity at work. While I’m in the midst of a workweek, I get ideas for how I can improve my next off week. For example, my girlfriend and I were a bit too indulgent food-wise during our last week together. (L.A. just has so many incredible vegan restaurants.) That can be fun every now and then, but it’s not a wise idea to do that every week we spend together. So next time we may want to tone down that aspect and incorporate more exercise (the vertical kind, that is). An overindulgent week now and then is okay, but in the long run it’s important to strive for balance. On the bright side, it became clear that we both love traveling together, and we have the flexible lifestyles to make that a reality, so we’ve been discussing other cities we might explore together this year. Fourth, the intensity that comes from such immersion is really awesome. When you give yourself permission to blow off all personal concerns and fully immerse yourself in work for a week, it seems clear that you can get a lot done. But more important than the quantity of work is the quality of work you can produce during the times you can work for days on end without distractions. This is especially powerful on the personal side, especially when it comes to relationships. Instead of going on dates for a few hours at a time with big gaps in between, imagine diving into a new relationship by spending days on end with each other 24/7. Consider what it would be like to go on a date — even a first date — for a whole week instead of for a single night, including sleeping together every night and sharing every meal together. That can get pretty intense, but if you can handle it, you can build a connection in a matter of days that might otherwise take months. Applying this to dating might sound strange, but take a moment to ponder all the good practices you’d have to adopt in order to commit to a weeklong first date with someone. You’d probably get really good at pre-screening people for compatibility, so you wouldn’t have to deal with bad dates. And your communication skills will advance very quickly if you’re going to be with the same person for a full week. But since you also know the week will eventually end, it motivates you to enjoy the time spent with your partner as much as possible without taking him or her for granted. You can use this approach with your family too. Instead of being a half-assed parent on nights and weekends because you’re burnt out from weeks of endless work, consider spending a week out of every month with your family. Give them your full attention during that time. Lately I’ve been thinking about how I might travel with my kids and explore different cities with them, especially when they’re in their teen years and capable of enjoying more of the grown-up stuff. Fifth, the alternations are more important than the durations. It’s not that critical how many days you spend on each side. What matters most is that you keep shifting back and forth to keep your motivation for both sides sky-high. At the start of this year, I spent a week working hard to prep for the January Conscious Growth Workshop. I also spoke at a friend’s workshop. Then I spent several days hanging out with my girlfriend Rachelle, during which time I didn’t do much work at all. Then I did the workshop, after which I felt totally spent, and less than 48 hours later I was in Puerto Rico for a weeklong leadership retreat. I gave a one-hour presentation there, but the main focus of the week was personal renewal, so it was definitely an off week for me. Next I returned to Vegas and spent more time with Rachelle, had a poker night with friends, and spent a day at Circus Circus with Erin and the kids. Then Rachelle went to Hollywood, and I worked solo in Vegas for a few days. Next I headed to Hollywood to spend a few days with her there for her birthday, “kidnapped” her back to Vegas with me for the weekend, and then returned to Hollywood to spend another week with her there. When we were in Vegas, she and I also enjoyed a night of wrestling, video games, and hide-and-go-seek with the kids, and we saw two movies and a show on the Strip. While I was enjoying my off time, I did virtually no work. I didn’t do much blogging and spent only minimal time on communication. Most of that time Rachelle and I were busy having fun together 24/7. Last week we enjoyed a day at Disneyland, explored the L.A. Natural History Museum, strolled along Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, shared a walk along the beach under the stars, attended an L.A. social meet-up, and indulged in a lot more gourmet vegan and raw food than we should have (including a 6-course gourmet raw dinner for Valentine’s Day). At the end of the week, Rachelle and I noted that we had committed 4 of the 7 deadly sins. During breakfast yesterday I tried to piss her off so we could check off wrath as well, but my best efforts only made her laugh at me and roll her eyes. Later that morning she definitively kicked my ass at Star Trek trivia for the second time in a row. “Khhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaannnnn!” Today I’m back in Vegas, and after so much indulgence in my personal life, I’m filled with a renewed drive to get some serious work done, starting with this blog post. No girlfriend in town (which is good for Rachelle too because she needs to work on her next play — she’s a playwright and an actress). Then in a few more days it will be time to shift into personal mode since my family and Erin’s family are coming to town this weekend to celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday. Wow… 10 already. They really do grow up fast.  These back-and-forth shifts don’t fall cleanly on weekly borders, and that’s okay. The benefits come from the shifting. The duration of each cycle isn’t as important as the fact that you do cycle — and cycle often. A weekend — even a 3-day weekend — simply isn’t long enough to complete a serious renewal cycle. Six to seven days is a more realistic minimum. It normally takes a few days just to let go of work and become fully immersed in vacation mode (or personal project mode). Taking off every weekend doesn’t cut it. Think of taking a full week off as the minimum, not the maximum. You’d be surprised to learn how many people achieve awesome productivity results with cycles closer to one week on, two or three weeks off. After taking so much time off for personal renewal, they’re itching to get back to work, so their on weeks are highly productive. * * * If you’ve never tried this method before, I encourage you to experiment with it. If this is the first time you’ve heard about it, it may sound a bit alien. You may have a hard time grasping why it works. But don’t reject it out of hand just because you’ve been conditioned to work a certain way. For now simply let this idea sit there in the back of your mind, and remain open to trying it at some point when that becomes realistic for you. This idea will resurface and nag at you when the time is right. Obviously you need a flexible work schedule to pull this off, so it’s up to you to create that. Whatever you do, don’t succumb to lame-ass excuses like “My boss won’t let me.” (If you were about to blurt out some wimpy, whiny, give-away-your-power crap like that, you need to read this article and then this one. And for good measure, this one too.) You chose your boss, your employer, work environment, and your work schedule after all. You can’t pretend you don’t have the freedom to make this work schedule happen if you really want it. If you want the flexibility to experiment with higher levels of productivity and a richer personal life, then you’re always free to make new choices. You’re responsible for your results in life. Are you getting the results you desire?
    Jul 12, 2011 749
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Erin recently announced the release of her new audio program Raising Your Vibration, which is based on her ebook 10 Ways to Raise Your Vibration in Under 10 Minutes. I thought it would be great to announce it here as well. I wasn’t personally involved in producing this program, but I’ve listened to the whole thing, and I think she did a terrific job on it. I was particularly impressed by how amazing her voice sounds on the recording — others have commented on that as well. Raising Your Vibration is designed to teach you methods to raise your vibration and enhance your mood, shifting you from low vibration states like worry, depression, fear, or anger… into higher vibration states like contentment, happiness, love, and gratitude. For this audio program, Erin added some new information that isn’t included in her ebook. She also included two new guided meditations accompanied by relaxing New Age music. Each meditation is less than 10 minutes long, so you can easily incorporate them into your day. The first meditation is geared to be used in the morning to begin your day with a sense of love and connection. The second meditation is intended for the evening before bed, helping you conclude your day with feelings of appreciation and gratitude. That’s the intended use, but you can actually listen to either meditation anytime you desire. Each meditation is included on a separate track, so it’s easy to listen to them again and again. Raising Your Vibration is available both as a downloadable MP3 and a CD. The MP3 version is $19.97 USD, and the CD version is $29.97. The CD version includes free postal mail shipping anywhere in the world. If you purchase the MP3 version, you’ll receive a link to download it immediately. The file size is 88 MB. You can easily transfer it to an iPod or other MP3 player — even your cell phone if it can play MP3s. Many people at the January Conscious Growth Workshop bought advance copies ofRaising Your Vibration, and Erin sold many more copies after she announced it on her website about 3 weeks ago. The response from listeners has been very positive. Here are a couple pieces of feedback Erin recently received from two happy purchasers of this program: Your audio program is changing the way I live my life. Now when people upset me at work I can get myself back to a positive vibration quickly. I could never do that before! And the guided meditations are phenomenal. Your voice is so soothing, and I’ve been brought to tears several times during them. Thanks to your program I’ve had the most loving conversations with people in my life and I am so full of gratitude. Thank you! – Jenna Neuworth The Love meditation and the Gratitude meditation in Erin’s CD are fantastic. I’d never done guided meditations before, and it’s definitely something I’ll explore more. If you can start your day feeling love for others, love for yourself and feeling love from the universe, you’re off to something good. And don’t underestimate the power of gratitude either, both from the people you’ve done good to, and from the people that positively impact you. It’s great to get into these two states. – Matt Lertora A big congrats to Erin for releasing her first audio program — and her first product since she started blogging 4 years ago! Take a moment to order your copy of Raising Your Vibration now, and enjoy higher vibrational states more consistently. 
    807 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Erin recently announced the release of her new audio program Raising Your Vibration, which is based on her ebook 10 Ways to Raise Your Vibration in Under 10 Minutes. I thought it would be great to announce it here as well. I wasn’t personally involved in producing this program, but I’ve listened to the whole thing, and I think she did a terrific job on it. I was particularly impressed by how amazing her voice sounds on the recording — others have commented on that as well. Raising Your Vibration is designed to teach you methods to raise your vibration and enhance your mood, shifting you from low vibration states like worry, depression, fear, or anger… into higher vibration states like contentment, happiness, love, and gratitude. For this audio program, Erin added some new information that isn’t included in her ebook. She also included two new guided meditations accompanied by relaxing New Age music. Each meditation is less than 10 minutes long, so you can easily incorporate them into your day. The first meditation is geared to be used in the morning to begin your day with a sense of love and connection. The second meditation is intended for the evening before bed, helping you conclude your day with feelings of appreciation and gratitude. That’s the intended use, but you can actually listen to either meditation anytime you desire. Each meditation is included on a separate track, so it’s easy to listen to them again and again. Raising Your Vibration is available both as a downloadable MP3 and a CD. The MP3 version is $19.97 USD, and the CD version is $29.97. The CD version includes free postal mail shipping anywhere in the world. If you purchase the MP3 version, you’ll receive a link to download it immediately. The file size is 88 MB. You can easily transfer it to an iPod or other MP3 player — even your cell phone if it can play MP3s. Many people at the January Conscious Growth Workshop bought advance copies ofRaising Your Vibration, and Erin sold many more copies after she announced it on her website about 3 weeks ago. The response from listeners has been very positive. Here are a couple pieces of feedback Erin recently received from two happy purchasers of this program: Your audio program is changing the way I live my life. Now when people upset me at work I can get myself back to a positive vibration quickly. I could never do that before! And the guided meditations are phenomenal. Your voice is so soothing, and I’ve been brought to tears several times during them. Thanks to your program I’ve had the most loving conversations with people in my life and I am so full of gratitude. Thank you! – Jenna Neuworth The Love meditation and the Gratitude meditation in Erin’s CD are fantastic. I’d never done guided meditations before, and it’s definitely something I’ll explore more. If you can start your day feeling love for others, love for yourself and feeling love from the universe, you’re off to something good. And don’t underestimate the power of gratitude either, both from the people you’ve done good to, and from the people that positively impact you. It’s great to get into these two states. – Matt Lertora A big congrats to Erin for releasing her first audio program — and her first product since she started blogging 4 years ago! Take a moment to order your copy of Raising Your Vibration now, and enjoy higher vibrational states more consistently. 
    Jul 12, 2011 807
  • 12 Jul 2011
    The nice thing about working on your personal growth is that when you make a concerted, dedicated effort to improve some part of your life, there’s an excellent chance that you will succeed in the long run. You may have a lot of gunk to clear out in terms of limiting beliefs, and you may be starting from a disadvantaged position, but given enough time, it’s entirely possible to completely rework some part of your life for the better. For example, you have the potential to go from rags to riches, from shy to socially confident, or from unhealthy to vibrant and fit. It may not be easy to make such transitions, but there are numerous successes to model. These are transitions that many, many people have already succeeded at, and they’re often more than happy to help out people who are interested in taking similar journeys. You certainly don’t have to stumble forward blindly. This, of course, is the grand promise of personal development — that you can consciously remake some part of your life, re-sculpting it from what it is now to what you desire it to be. But there are two very common problems that prevent many people from receiving the full delivery of this promise. Getting Clear About What You Want First, most people never get clear about what they want. Since they don’t decide, there’s nothing for them to move towards. Moving away from where you are now is not a specific heading. An “away from” mindset is like a bunch of crazy, chaotic arrows pointing off in all different directions, but in most cases that isn’t enough to get moving with any consistency. “Not here” isn’t a goal. When I ask people what they want out of life, most of the time I get a very vague answer. They can’t tell me. So of course their lives aren’t going to change much. They have no direction. If someone asks you what you want out of life, offer up a clear and specific answer. Don’t look to life to tell you what you want. That’s your burden — and your privilege — to decide. Not deciding is still a choice. If you can’t decide, then you’re deciding to continue the status quo, and you’re broadcasting the intention that more than anything else in the universe, you want to continue experiencing what you’re experiencing right now. And so essentially that is what you’ll get. So when you keep getting what you’re already getting, be grateful that the desires you voiced are being fulfilled. You are simply receiving what you’ve been asking for. Don’t pretend that your life will change until you first make a clear decision about where you want to go next. You can bitch and moan about the burden of having to make that choice, but there’s no point in that. It’s better to celebrate the honor and privilege of having the freedom to make that choice. Be grateful that you can choose. Appreciate the fact that you get to decide where your life goes next. Consider yourself lucky that you have a choice. Making a choice is really, really simple. Most people overcomplicate the process tremendously. Ask a child what they want for their birthday, and they’ll probably rattle off a number of specific items. How do they decide? They just decide. They don’t worry so much about making wrong choices. They voice intentions based on what experiences they feel drawn towards. It’s that simple. If you feel drawn to a certain experience, then that’s an excellent candidate for a new decision. Real Decisions vs. Fantasy Decisions Secondly, when people do finally decide, they usually don’t make a real choice. They make a fantasy choice instead. There’s a major difference between a fake decision and a real decision. Let me ‘splain that. A fake decision is when you get clear that you desire a certain experience, but you don’t accept the far-ranging consequences of that experience. This is like deciding to pick up one end of a stick while denying or ignoring the existence of the other end of the stick. Whether you acknowledge it or not, the other end of the stick is coming along for the ride. If you resist the true nature of the stick as a whole, you cannot pick up the front end of it. If you resist the consequences of your desires, you block your desires from becoming real. For example, you may set a goal to have a million dollars, but if you do not invite, welcome, and accept the consequences of becoming a millionaire, then your goal is a mere fantasy. It isn’t a real goal. It’s just a delusional waste of time. A real decision is when you get clear that you desire a certain experience, and then you do your best to predict and understand the likely consequences of that experience, and you decide to invite and welcome those consequences too. Think of it this way: Either you desire the entire stick, or you desire none of it. To desire one end of the stick but not the other end is to create a block that translates to desiring nothing but the perpetuation of the status quo. In order to set a real goal or hold a real intention, realize that you must intend and accept its consequences as well. So in our example of desiring a million dollars, a real decision includes accepting how you’ll manage that money, how it will alter your relationships with others, how it will impact your lifestyle, and so on. This includes accepting any likely effects you may perceive as negative — and welcoming them into your life. Understand this: If you cannot accept the likely consequences of a decision, then you have not yet made the decision. I.e. if you cannot accept the likely consequences of a new relationship, then you have not yet made the decision to attract a new relationship. If you cannot accept the likely consequences of doubling your income, then you have not yet made the decision to double your income. If you cannot accept the likely consequences of being at your ideal weight, then you have not yet made the decision to reach your ideal weight. Quite often people claim to know what they want, but the truth is that they’re stuck in fantasy land. For example, they’ve decided to reach their ideal weight, but they fail to accept and invite the possibility of getting more attention from the opposite sex, buying different clothes, maintaining more disciplined diet and exercise habits to maintain that weight, etc. Mentally they understand that these are the natural, logical consequences of reaching that goal, but they aren’t yet there emotionally. They don’t really “get it” yet. In order to achieve a goal, it’s important to listen to your logical predictions about what the consequences may be and to accept those predictions. Even more important than that is to integrate those predictions into the goal itself, so your goal represents the total package of what you’re going to create, not merely some isolated element of it. Goals as Growth Experiences How can you invite and welcome the consequences of a desire? Perhaps the best way to do that is to view your goals as growth experiences. Every goal, desire, or intention is a growth experience, and every growth experience is a package deal. Along with every desire you get a pack of free bonuses. Those bonuses are called life lessons. Along with money, you get bonus lessons in money management, scarcity, abundance, and generosity. Along with new relationships, you get bonus lessons in communication, negotiation, and compassion. Along with a better body, you get bonus lessons in self-discipline, self-awareness, and self-esteem. Along with a successful business or career, you get bonus lessons in responsibility, productivity, and life balance. These bonuses are awesome! You just need to recognize them as such. In many cases the bonuses are worth more than the initial desire. When you can regard the consequences of every potential goal or desire as a valuable pack of personal growth bonuses, it gets much easier to desire the whole package instead of obsessing over the front-end offer. So in summary, we have two key hurdles to overcome in order to begin realizing the promise of personal growth: 1) Decide what you want, and 2) Identify, accept and invite the likely consequences of what you want. Now… have you completed both steps yet? Of course you have. Either you’ve done this for a new desire, or you’ve done it for the status quo by default. Either you’re actively creating something new, or you’re actively perpetuating what you already have. Regardless of your choice, you are succeeding, so celebrate that! 
    671 Posted by UniqueThis
  • The nice thing about working on your personal growth is that when you make a concerted, dedicated effort to improve some part of your life, there’s an excellent chance that you will succeed in the long run. You may have a lot of gunk to clear out in terms of limiting beliefs, and you may be starting from a disadvantaged position, but given enough time, it’s entirely possible to completely rework some part of your life for the better. For example, you have the potential to go from rags to riches, from shy to socially confident, or from unhealthy to vibrant and fit. It may not be easy to make such transitions, but there are numerous successes to model. These are transitions that many, many people have already succeeded at, and they’re often more than happy to help out people who are interested in taking similar journeys. You certainly don’t have to stumble forward blindly. This, of course, is the grand promise of personal development — that you can consciously remake some part of your life, re-sculpting it from what it is now to what you desire it to be. But there are two very common problems that prevent many people from receiving the full delivery of this promise. Getting Clear About What You Want First, most people never get clear about what they want. Since they don’t decide, there’s nothing for them to move towards. Moving away from where you are now is not a specific heading. An “away from” mindset is like a bunch of crazy, chaotic arrows pointing off in all different directions, but in most cases that isn’t enough to get moving with any consistency. “Not here” isn’t a goal. When I ask people what they want out of life, most of the time I get a very vague answer. They can’t tell me. So of course their lives aren’t going to change much. They have no direction. If someone asks you what you want out of life, offer up a clear and specific answer. Don’t look to life to tell you what you want. That’s your burden — and your privilege — to decide. Not deciding is still a choice. If you can’t decide, then you’re deciding to continue the status quo, and you’re broadcasting the intention that more than anything else in the universe, you want to continue experiencing what you’re experiencing right now. And so essentially that is what you’ll get. So when you keep getting what you’re already getting, be grateful that the desires you voiced are being fulfilled. You are simply receiving what you’ve been asking for. Don’t pretend that your life will change until you first make a clear decision about where you want to go next. You can bitch and moan about the burden of having to make that choice, but there’s no point in that. It’s better to celebrate the honor and privilege of having the freedom to make that choice. Be grateful that you can choose. Appreciate the fact that you get to decide where your life goes next. Consider yourself lucky that you have a choice. Making a choice is really, really simple. Most people overcomplicate the process tremendously. Ask a child what they want for their birthday, and they’ll probably rattle off a number of specific items. How do they decide? They just decide. They don’t worry so much about making wrong choices. They voice intentions based on what experiences they feel drawn towards. It’s that simple. If you feel drawn to a certain experience, then that’s an excellent candidate for a new decision. Real Decisions vs. Fantasy Decisions Secondly, when people do finally decide, they usually don’t make a real choice. They make a fantasy choice instead. There’s a major difference between a fake decision and a real decision. Let me ‘splain that. A fake decision is when you get clear that you desire a certain experience, but you don’t accept the far-ranging consequences of that experience. This is like deciding to pick up one end of a stick while denying or ignoring the existence of the other end of the stick. Whether you acknowledge it or not, the other end of the stick is coming along for the ride. If you resist the true nature of the stick as a whole, you cannot pick up the front end of it. If you resist the consequences of your desires, you block your desires from becoming real. For example, you may set a goal to have a million dollars, but if you do not invite, welcome, and accept the consequences of becoming a millionaire, then your goal is a mere fantasy. It isn’t a real goal. It’s just a delusional waste of time. A real decision is when you get clear that you desire a certain experience, and then you do your best to predict and understand the likely consequences of that experience, and you decide to invite and welcome those consequences too. Think of it this way: Either you desire the entire stick, or you desire none of it. To desire one end of the stick but not the other end is to create a block that translates to desiring nothing but the perpetuation of the status quo. In order to set a real goal or hold a real intention, realize that you must intend and accept its consequences as well. So in our example of desiring a million dollars, a real decision includes accepting how you’ll manage that money, how it will alter your relationships with others, how it will impact your lifestyle, and so on. This includes accepting any likely effects you may perceive as negative — and welcoming them into your life. Understand this: If you cannot accept the likely consequences of a decision, then you have not yet made the decision. I.e. if you cannot accept the likely consequences of a new relationship, then you have not yet made the decision to attract a new relationship. If you cannot accept the likely consequences of doubling your income, then you have not yet made the decision to double your income. If you cannot accept the likely consequences of being at your ideal weight, then you have not yet made the decision to reach your ideal weight. Quite often people claim to know what they want, but the truth is that they’re stuck in fantasy land. For example, they’ve decided to reach their ideal weight, but they fail to accept and invite the possibility of getting more attention from the opposite sex, buying different clothes, maintaining more disciplined diet and exercise habits to maintain that weight, etc. Mentally they understand that these are the natural, logical consequences of reaching that goal, but they aren’t yet there emotionally. They don’t really “get it” yet. In order to achieve a goal, it’s important to listen to your logical predictions about what the consequences may be and to accept those predictions. Even more important than that is to integrate those predictions into the goal itself, so your goal represents the total package of what you’re going to create, not merely some isolated element of it. Goals as Growth Experiences How can you invite and welcome the consequences of a desire? Perhaps the best way to do that is to view your goals as growth experiences. Every goal, desire, or intention is a growth experience, and every growth experience is a package deal. Along with every desire you get a pack of free bonuses. Those bonuses are called life lessons. Along with money, you get bonus lessons in money management, scarcity, abundance, and generosity. Along with new relationships, you get bonus lessons in communication, negotiation, and compassion. Along with a better body, you get bonus lessons in self-discipline, self-awareness, and self-esteem. Along with a successful business or career, you get bonus lessons in responsibility, productivity, and life balance. These bonuses are awesome! You just need to recognize them as such. In many cases the bonuses are worth more than the initial desire. When you can regard the consequences of every potential goal or desire as a valuable pack of personal growth bonuses, it gets much easier to desire the whole package instead of obsessing over the front-end offer. So in summary, we have two key hurdles to overcome in order to begin realizing the promise of personal growth: 1) Decide what you want, and 2) Identify, accept and invite the likely consequences of what you want. Now… have you completed both steps yet? Of course you have. Either you’ve done this for a new desire, or you’ve done it for the status quo by default. Either you’re actively creating something new, or you’re actively perpetuating what you already have. Regardless of your choice, you are succeeding, so celebrate that! 
    Jul 12, 2011 671
  • 12 Jul 2011
    After almost 6 years as a member of Toastmasters International, I’ve decided to quit my Toastmasters club (and Toastmasters as a whole). Today is the last day of my paid membership. As of April 1st, I will no longer be a Toastmaster. I made the decision a few weeks ago, and I’ve already notified my club President. That was rather easy since the President of my club is Erin.  Just in case you’re wondering, I’m not quitting my club because of Erin. If I’d felt any social awkwardness due to our separation, I could simply switch clubs and continue on in Toastmasters (there are about 50 clubs in Las Vegas alone). But there was no such awkwardness to speak of, so that’s a non-issue. This is something I’m doing for different reasons. My Toastmasters Experience For most of my years in Toastmasters, it’s been a wonderful educational and social experience filled with many growth lessons and great friendships. Toastmasters was a terrific group to join after I first moved to Las Vegas in 2004. I made new friends quickly, and it allowed me to enjoy a rich social life in a new city. It was also a great complement to blogging, helping me expand my verbal communication skills along with my writing skills. I learned a tremendous amount about public speaking, and I got to speak a lot. For the first year, I averaged about one Toastmasters speech per month. I also competed actively in speech contests and even won a few. I performed every possible meeting role many times over. I wasn’t overly afraid of public speaking when I started in Toastmasters — I’d already had some experience speaking at tech conferences — but I still had some nervousness to shed, and I had a lot to learn in regards to technique. Toastmasters worked very well for me in that regard. I got much better, shed all the nervousness, and grew to really enjoy speaking. These days I feel very comfortable on a stage in front of a group of people. It’s easy for me to be completely myself without feeling pressured or nervous. On the contrary I find it a lot of fun. My journey of learning to be a better speaker is far from over. I still have much to learn, and of course I’ll continue on that path. But at this point, my learning must progress beyond Toastmasters. There are better ways for me to continue growing in this part of my life, one of which is simply to rack up a lot more stage time and gain additional experience. Deciding to Move On For more than a year, I’ve felt the disconnect building. Toastmasters meetings have become easy and predictable to the point of being boring. I skipped a lot of meetings this past year because I didn’t see much point in going. On the occasions that I did attend, I realized I was mainly there to hang out with friends, not because I wanted to attend Toastmasters. I haven’t given a speech in my club in about a year. It doesn’t make sense in terms of opportunity cost for me to continue working on Toastmasters speeches. The feedback I receive isn’t particularly helpful to me anymore. I get no value from doing 7-minute speeches or performing other various meeting roles when I’m now doing 3-day Conscious Growth Workshops on the Vegas Strip. My best ideas simply don’t fit into 7 minutes or even 20 minutes. Toastmasters is very focused on polishing delivery skills, whereas my focus is on developing great content. Delivery is important, but between delivery and content, great content is still king. I’d rather get feedback on my content, and there’s a general rule of thumb in Toastmasters that you don’t give feedback on someone’s content, so that rule doesn’t serve my needs. I can get all the content feedback I need online, so Toastmasters isn’t necessary for that. There are people who’ve been in Toastmasters much longer than I have, but for the most part Toastmasters serves as a social club for them. I have more social opportunities than I can keep up with right now, so I don’t need to attend club meetings as a social outlet. Our club has gotten so big that I barely have time to chat with my friends there anyway. I can easily contact such friends directly if I want to hang out with them, such as by arranging a disc golf game. Furthermore, it goes against Toastmaster etiquette to speak on certain topics that are of interest to me. There are many topics I’d love to speak about that would be considered inappropriate in a Toastmasters environment. If I really spoke about what mattered to me in a style that I enjoy, it would create too much drama, and I might put my friends in the difficult position of having to kick me out of the club. Toastmasters simply isn’t the right venue for what I want to communicate. There are better outlets for that, such as my own website. I’m perfectly okay with that. Toastmasters’ etiquette is there for good reason. If I stuck around, I’d probably end up going kittywompus and sabotaging my membership, so I’d be forced to drop it. (In fact, this is exactly the kind of behavior we see in members of our discussion forums when it’s clear they’re ready to move on, but they can’t get themselves to let go with love. So instead they go crazy nutso, create lots of drama by breaking rules, and eventually get themselves banned. I’d prefer to just bow out while the bowing is still good instead of going the drama route.) What about using Toastmasters as a place to give back? It isn’t the right outlet for that either, given my particular situation. It makes sense to do more writing and speaking for people who are keenly interested in what I have to share… as opposed to delivering short-form content to a small captive audience. If I write a new blog post, I can get it into the hands of tens of thousands of people within a matter of hours. That just doesn’t compare to writing and delivering a speech for such a small group. I already have much better outlets for giving back. I only needed to give one more speech to earn my AC-Silver designation, but picking up another educational award wouldn’t have any meaning for me, so I will have to remain an AC-Bronze. I’ve given so many speeches outside of Toastmasters that I could have gotten credit for, and I didn’t even care to do that. That tells me I really don’t place any value on further advancement in Toastmasters. That path is a dead end for me. Letting Go With Love This isn’t a decision I’m making against Toastmasters or against my club. It’s a decision I’m making for me. I recognize that it’s time for me to let go and move on. I have lots of wonderful memories from Toastmasters, and I shall forever cherish them. But for now, this is a part of my life where the energy has become stagnant. It’s no longer flowing with growth and abundance. There are many new areas I wish to explore, and by dropping Toastmasters, I can free up more attention, time, and energy for new adventures. I still highly recommend Toastmasters for people who want to develop their communication and leadership skills. It works. Especially if you’re nervous about public speaking, Toastmasters is a great way to overcome your fear of the stage and become a competent communicator. It helped me go from being a pretty weak speaker to being able to earn $50K in a weekend for speaking — and to have fundoing it. Given that a Toastmasters membership costs about $70 per year, I think that’s a pretty good return on investment. This is more evidence that the best place to invest your money is in your own personal growth. Now I get to apply and enjoy the speaking skills I developed for the rest of my life. I’m very grateful for all the amazing lessons and friendships I gained from Toastmasters. Joining Toastmasters in 2004 was one of the best decisions I ever made. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have joined much, much sooner… ideally during college. I’m also excited about what else I might do with the time and attention I previously devoted to Toastmasters. Removing this activity from my plate will free up more space to take on something new. This is not an early April Fools joke by the way, just in case you were wondering.
    753 Posted by UniqueThis
  • After almost 6 years as a member of Toastmasters International, I’ve decided to quit my Toastmasters club (and Toastmasters as a whole). Today is the last day of my paid membership. As of April 1st, I will no longer be a Toastmaster. I made the decision a few weeks ago, and I’ve already notified my club President. That was rather easy since the President of my club is Erin.  Just in case you’re wondering, I’m not quitting my club because of Erin. If I’d felt any social awkwardness due to our separation, I could simply switch clubs and continue on in Toastmasters (there are about 50 clubs in Las Vegas alone). But there was no such awkwardness to speak of, so that’s a non-issue. This is something I’m doing for different reasons. My Toastmasters Experience For most of my years in Toastmasters, it’s been a wonderful educational and social experience filled with many growth lessons and great friendships. Toastmasters was a terrific group to join after I first moved to Las Vegas in 2004. I made new friends quickly, and it allowed me to enjoy a rich social life in a new city. It was also a great complement to blogging, helping me expand my verbal communication skills along with my writing skills. I learned a tremendous amount about public speaking, and I got to speak a lot. For the first year, I averaged about one Toastmasters speech per month. I also competed actively in speech contests and even won a few. I performed every possible meeting role many times over. I wasn’t overly afraid of public speaking when I started in Toastmasters — I’d already had some experience speaking at tech conferences — but I still had some nervousness to shed, and I had a lot to learn in regards to technique. Toastmasters worked very well for me in that regard. I got much better, shed all the nervousness, and grew to really enjoy speaking. These days I feel very comfortable on a stage in front of a group of people. It’s easy for me to be completely myself without feeling pressured or nervous. On the contrary I find it a lot of fun. My journey of learning to be a better speaker is far from over. I still have much to learn, and of course I’ll continue on that path. But at this point, my learning must progress beyond Toastmasters. There are better ways for me to continue growing in this part of my life, one of which is simply to rack up a lot more stage time and gain additional experience. Deciding to Move On For more than a year, I’ve felt the disconnect building. Toastmasters meetings have become easy and predictable to the point of being boring. I skipped a lot of meetings this past year because I didn’t see much point in going. On the occasions that I did attend, I realized I was mainly there to hang out with friends, not because I wanted to attend Toastmasters. I haven’t given a speech in my club in about a year. It doesn’t make sense in terms of opportunity cost for me to continue working on Toastmasters speeches. The feedback I receive isn’t particularly helpful to me anymore. I get no value from doing 7-minute speeches or performing other various meeting roles when I’m now doing 3-day Conscious Growth Workshops on the Vegas Strip. My best ideas simply don’t fit into 7 minutes or even 20 minutes. Toastmasters is very focused on polishing delivery skills, whereas my focus is on developing great content. Delivery is important, but between delivery and content, great content is still king. I’d rather get feedback on my content, and there’s a general rule of thumb in Toastmasters that you don’t give feedback on someone’s content, so that rule doesn’t serve my needs. I can get all the content feedback I need online, so Toastmasters isn’t necessary for that. There are people who’ve been in Toastmasters much longer than I have, but for the most part Toastmasters serves as a social club for them. I have more social opportunities than I can keep up with right now, so I don’t need to attend club meetings as a social outlet. Our club has gotten so big that I barely have time to chat with my friends there anyway. I can easily contact such friends directly if I want to hang out with them, such as by arranging a disc golf game. Furthermore, it goes against Toastmaster etiquette to speak on certain topics that are of interest to me. There are many topics I’d love to speak about that would be considered inappropriate in a Toastmasters environment. If I really spoke about what mattered to me in a style that I enjoy, it would create too much drama, and I might put my friends in the difficult position of having to kick me out of the club. Toastmasters simply isn’t the right venue for what I want to communicate. There are better outlets for that, such as my own website. I’m perfectly okay with that. Toastmasters’ etiquette is there for good reason. If I stuck around, I’d probably end up going kittywompus and sabotaging my membership, so I’d be forced to drop it. (In fact, this is exactly the kind of behavior we see in members of our discussion forums when it’s clear they’re ready to move on, but they can’t get themselves to let go with love. So instead they go crazy nutso, create lots of drama by breaking rules, and eventually get themselves banned. I’d prefer to just bow out while the bowing is still good instead of going the drama route.) What about using Toastmasters as a place to give back? It isn’t the right outlet for that either, given my particular situation. It makes sense to do more writing and speaking for people who are keenly interested in what I have to share… as opposed to delivering short-form content to a small captive audience. If I write a new blog post, I can get it into the hands of tens of thousands of people within a matter of hours. That just doesn’t compare to writing and delivering a speech for such a small group. I already have much better outlets for giving back. I only needed to give one more speech to earn my AC-Silver designation, but picking up another educational award wouldn’t have any meaning for me, so I will have to remain an AC-Bronze. I’ve given so many speeches outside of Toastmasters that I could have gotten credit for, and I didn’t even care to do that. That tells me I really don’t place any value on further advancement in Toastmasters. That path is a dead end for me. Letting Go With Love This isn’t a decision I’m making against Toastmasters or against my club. It’s a decision I’m making for me. I recognize that it’s time for me to let go and move on. I have lots of wonderful memories from Toastmasters, and I shall forever cherish them. But for now, this is a part of my life where the energy has become stagnant. It’s no longer flowing with growth and abundance. There are many new areas I wish to explore, and by dropping Toastmasters, I can free up more attention, time, and energy for new adventures. I still highly recommend Toastmasters for people who want to develop their communication and leadership skills. It works. Especially if you’re nervous about public speaking, Toastmasters is a great way to overcome your fear of the stage and become a competent communicator. It helped me go from being a pretty weak speaker to being able to earn $50K in a weekend for speaking — and to have fundoing it. Given that a Toastmasters membership costs about $70 per year, I think that’s a pretty good return on investment. This is more evidence that the best place to invest your money is in your own personal growth. Now I get to apply and enjoy the speaking skills I developed for the rest of my life. I’m very grateful for all the amazing lessons and friendships I gained from Toastmasters. Joining Toastmasters in 2004 was one of the best decisions I ever made. If I had to do it all over again, I’d have joined much, much sooner… ideally during college. I’m also excited about what else I might do with the time and attention I previously devoted to Toastmasters. Removing this activity from my plate will free up more space to take on something new. This is not an early April Fools joke by the way, just in case you were wondering.
    Jul 12, 2011 753
  • 12 Jul 2011
    I did my first Bikram (hot yoga) class today with Rachelle. She’s been asking me to try it for 4 months, so I finally decided to attend a class with her this morning to see what it was like. I’ve never done hot yoga before, so you could say my curiosity finally got the better of me. That and the fact that I told Rachelle I’d try Bikram yoga if she’d help me buy some new clothes. She spent 16 hours shopping with me this weekend — she really knows her colors.  This particular yoga studio is right around the corner from my gym, so for the past week I’d drop Rachelle off for her class and then head to my gym for my usual morning workout. And each time the friendly people at the Bikram studio would offer me a free class and nudge me to try it. I had to explain to them that I never met a yoga I liked. As many of my friends know, I can be quite vocal in my distaste for all things yoga. It bores me to tears. I keep suggesting they add a sparring element to make it more engaging. This is a fairly new studio — it just opened earlier this year — so there weren’t many students in the class. It was just Rachelle, myself, and two others (one male, one female). The next class coming in after ours seemed a bit more populous. (Hmmm… Populous… I used to spend hours playing that game. Anyone remember that one?) This class was 90 minutes long, and it takes place in a heated room, so you sweat continuously. I think it was set to 95 degrees or so, but I’m not sure about the exact temp. (Edit — turns out 105 degrees is the standard setting for Bikram studios.) It also seemed pretty humid in there. I don’t know if the humidity was by design or if it was from the previous class sweating it up. I drank almost a quart of water and a quart of fresh carrot-apple-celery-spinach-greens-ginger-lime juice before class (but no solid food), so I was well hydrated before I got there. The class was easier than I expected in terms of the workout. I haven’t done martial arts in a while, so my flexibility has a ways to go, but other than not being very stretchy, I didn’t find it overly difficult. My usual morning workout (intervals + weight training) is more challenging for me than this yoga class was. I actually liked the heat. It felt good to sweat so much. Sometimes the A/C at my gym is turned up a bit high, and I found the warmth of this yoga room to be a nice change of pace. The heat wasn’t a problem for me at all, maybe because I’m used to 110-degree days during the Vegas summers. I wouldn’t have minded if they cranked up the heat a bit higher in fact. The first half of the class was standing exercises, and the second half involved floor exercises that were done sitting or lying down. There were 26 postures in all, and we did each of them twice. Most of these postures weren’t new to me because I’ve done yoga before. But there were a few I hadn’t tried before, like the rabbit pose. The instructor talked very fast, but I was able to figure out what to do pretty quickly, partly by listening to her and partly by watching the other students. The hardest part for me was staying silent because in group classes I tend to enjoy cracking jokes now and then. But overall I didn’t mind the policy of silence because it kept me focused on what I was doing. I thought the workout was very relaxing and refreshing, almost like hanging out in a spa for a while. I’m sure the heat helped with getting into the stretches more deeply. I’d expect that one of the benefits of the heat and the sweating would be better skin. Rachelle’s skin is amazingly soft and smooth, and she says it wasn’t like that before she started doing Bikram yoga. She’s been into it for about 4 years. She says that if I keep doing it, I should definitely see a difference in my skin within a few weeks or less. I can believe that. Until today I always hated yoga, but I have to admit that I actually enjoyed this class. Afterwards I felt very energized, more than I normally would after one of my usual workouts. The class ended about 5 hours ago, and I’m still feeling more energetic than usual, both mentally and physically. My body seems more oxygenated, and it feels like I’m breathing better. My mind is in a state of relaxed alertness. I’m considering doing a 30-day trial of Bikram yoga to see what the results are (going to class every day for 30 days in a row). I don’t think you can get a good idea of the benefits of any particular workout unless you keep it up for at least a few weeks to see if you notice any difference. I’m just not sure if that would be practical for me at this time of year because I have some travel coming up. I plan to attend another Bikram class tomorrow and make a decision on a 30-day trial a bit later. This weekend I’ll be busy doing CGW #3. At this time I invite all the pro-Bikram people who’ve been bugging me to try this to finally indulge in their gloating session.  I still think they should add some sparring.
    750 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I did my first Bikram (hot yoga) class today with Rachelle. She’s been asking me to try it for 4 months, so I finally decided to attend a class with her this morning to see what it was like. I’ve never done hot yoga before, so you could say my curiosity finally got the better of me. That and the fact that I told Rachelle I’d try Bikram yoga if she’d help me buy some new clothes. She spent 16 hours shopping with me this weekend — she really knows her colors.  This particular yoga studio is right around the corner from my gym, so for the past week I’d drop Rachelle off for her class and then head to my gym for my usual morning workout. And each time the friendly people at the Bikram studio would offer me a free class and nudge me to try it. I had to explain to them that I never met a yoga I liked. As many of my friends know, I can be quite vocal in my distaste for all things yoga. It bores me to tears. I keep suggesting they add a sparring element to make it more engaging. This is a fairly new studio — it just opened earlier this year — so there weren’t many students in the class. It was just Rachelle, myself, and two others (one male, one female). The next class coming in after ours seemed a bit more populous. (Hmmm… Populous… I used to spend hours playing that game. Anyone remember that one?) This class was 90 minutes long, and it takes place in a heated room, so you sweat continuously. I think it was set to 95 degrees or so, but I’m not sure about the exact temp. (Edit — turns out 105 degrees is the standard setting for Bikram studios.) It also seemed pretty humid in there. I don’t know if the humidity was by design or if it was from the previous class sweating it up. I drank almost a quart of water and a quart of fresh carrot-apple-celery-spinach-greens-ginger-lime juice before class (but no solid food), so I was well hydrated before I got there. The class was easier than I expected in terms of the workout. I haven’t done martial arts in a while, so my flexibility has a ways to go, but other than not being very stretchy, I didn’t find it overly difficult. My usual morning workout (intervals + weight training) is more challenging for me than this yoga class was. I actually liked the heat. It felt good to sweat so much. Sometimes the A/C at my gym is turned up a bit high, and I found the warmth of this yoga room to be a nice change of pace. The heat wasn’t a problem for me at all, maybe because I’m used to 110-degree days during the Vegas summers. I wouldn’t have minded if they cranked up the heat a bit higher in fact. The first half of the class was standing exercises, and the second half involved floor exercises that were done sitting or lying down. There were 26 postures in all, and we did each of them twice. Most of these postures weren’t new to me because I’ve done yoga before. But there were a few I hadn’t tried before, like the rabbit pose. The instructor talked very fast, but I was able to figure out what to do pretty quickly, partly by listening to her and partly by watching the other students. The hardest part for me was staying silent because in group classes I tend to enjoy cracking jokes now and then. But overall I didn’t mind the policy of silence because it kept me focused on what I was doing. I thought the workout was very relaxing and refreshing, almost like hanging out in a spa for a while. I’m sure the heat helped with getting into the stretches more deeply. I’d expect that one of the benefits of the heat and the sweating would be better skin. Rachelle’s skin is amazingly soft and smooth, and she says it wasn’t like that before she started doing Bikram yoga. She’s been into it for about 4 years. She says that if I keep doing it, I should definitely see a difference in my skin within a few weeks or less. I can believe that. Until today I always hated yoga, but I have to admit that I actually enjoyed this class. Afterwards I felt very energized, more than I normally would after one of my usual workouts. The class ended about 5 hours ago, and I’m still feeling more energetic than usual, both mentally and physically. My body seems more oxygenated, and it feels like I’m breathing better. My mind is in a state of relaxed alertness. I’m considering doing a 30-day trial of Bikram yoga to see what the results are (going to class every day for 30 days in a row). I don’t think you can get a good idea of the benefits of any particular workout unless you keep it up for at least a few weeks to see if you notice any difference. I’m just not sure if that would be practical for me at this time of year because I have some travel coming up. I plan to attend another Bikram class tomorrow and make a decision on a 30-day trial a bit later. This weekend I’ll be busy doing CGW #3. At this time I invite all the pro-Bikram people who’ve been bugging me to try this to finally indulge in their gloating session.  I still think they should add some sparring.
    Jul 12, 2011 750
  • 12 Jul 2011
    It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain Whenever I write about certain topics, especially those that seem contrary to mainstream conditioning, some people voice very strong opinions. They communicate their thoughts with a high degree of certainty, as if adopting the posture of an expert. However, upon further inspection it becomes readily apparent that most of these people have little or no direct experience upon which to base their opinions. Their knowledge of such subjects can hardly be classified as knowledge at all, since it’s derived largely from non-primary sources like media conditioning, third-party rumors, and supposition. Erroneous Knowledge Of course the problem with acquiring “knowledge” in such an indirect manner is that it’s often riddled with errors. People claim certainty about things that “just ain’t so.” For example, when I wrote some blog posts about polyamory, much of the feedback I received was nonsensical, whether it was supportive or critical. Out of sheer ignorance, some people would start with a false assumption such as polyamory = polygamy (polygamy is illegal in the USA) and then base their opinions on that assumption. Other assumptions were not quite so ludicrous, but they were just as inaccurate. People made such errors in judgment because they have no relevant experience upon which to base an informed opinion. So they filled in their lack of knowledge with guesses, and many of those guesses turned out to be completely erroneous. From their perspective their opinions seemed to make sense, but to any reasonable person with experience in those areas, such opinions seemed utterly naive at best and sometimes borderline insane. Such problems aren’t limited to polyamory of course. They can come up with any topic, but they tend to happen more frequently in areas where people lack direct experience. Other topics which generated a lot of ignorant feedback based on false assumptions include polyphasic sleep, raw food diets, divorce, and even self-employment. The Smoothing Function One reason this problem occurs is that our brains have a tendency to apply a “smoothing function” when we lack information about certain subjects. Our minds are always searching for new levels of certainty and patterns of predictability, so when we lack direct experience in a certain area, our brain does the best it can to pull in connections from seemingly related areas. Unfortunately sometimes those related areas just aren’t related enough, so the connections that are formed introduce a great deal of error, and this corrupts any conclusions we might draw based on those connections. Think of it like an image or a video that’s overly compressed to the point where you can’t even make out any distinct elements. It’s just a blur of colors. That missing data is important. If the compression is turned up too high, the images don’t convey accurate and useful information. For example, when I wrote about polyphasic sleep, the topic was outside of most people’s direct experience. Nevertheless, that fact didn’t prevent such people from voicing strong opinions about it. But since they hadn’t experienced polyphasic sleep and knew virtually nothing about it, their opinions were based on the closest mental connections they could form. So people would share opinions with false suppositions like polyphasic sleep = long-term sleep deprivation. Similarly when I wrote about the raw food diet, many people who hadn’t read so much as a single book about raw foods would share ignorant (yet often strongly worded) opinions based on silly assumptions like raw foods = eating only salads all day. And then there were false associations like polyamory = promiscuity, domination and submission = abuse, and divorce = conflict. Some false associations are of a more personal nature, the result of overgeneralization. These include beliefs such as, “I can’t make money online,” or “If I get divorced, it will screw up my kids,” or “If I lose my job, I won’t be able to cope.” Suspending Judgment False beliefs and associations are growth killers. When your mind is cluttered with false information, and you base your beliefs on such falsehoods, you can’t move forward in those particular areas. Your progress remains stunted until you clean up the mental mess. Now the obvious solution here is to suspend judgment when your knowledge in a particular area is lacking. You can actually do this consciously. Your brain may still apply its smoothing function at inappropriate times, but with sufficient self-awareness, you can discipline yourself to mentally override those biases. The first step is awareness. You must become aware of the areas where you’re likely to harbor false beliefs. When you catch yourself voicing a strong opinion on some subject, pause for a moment and check in with yourself. What specific knowledge are you basing your opinion on? Is this knowledge based on a wide range of direct experience? Are you an expert on this topic? How do you know what you claim to know? Do you catch yourself arguing with someone who has more direct experience than you? Are you voicing an opinion just to be opinionated, or are you sharing information of value? Is your ego getting too involved? Are you wrapping your ideas into your identity, such that when your ideas are criticized, you feel a need to personally defend yourself. What comes up if you ask yourself, What else might be true? Based on your self-diagnostic, you may come to realize that your opinion, even though it may be strongly held, has little or no basis in fact. At this time you can choose to take a step back, release your attachment to your opinion, and allow your mind to unclench and open itself to new ideas. After all, your opinions are not even yours to claim. They are just perspectives. There’s no need to take ownership of any perspective and wrap it into your identity. You Are Perspective-Independent It can be tremendously helpful at times to adopt a particular perspective and make the best case you can for it. Then sit back and observe how other people react to it. Allow their feedback to poke holes in your arguments if possible. Use the strength of that initial perspective to draw out other potential perspectives, and explore them as well. But don’t get your ego so wrapped up in your perspective that you close your mind to new ideas. I do this quite often when I write new articles. Before I begin writing, I adopt a certain perspective that I want to explore in more depth. Then I write some observations based on how reality appears through that lens. After I post the article, I step back and observe the feedback. I see what other lenses people suggest. I see what new pros and cons they identify. In the follow-up discussions, I may push harder to make a case for the original lens, but sometimes I’ll switch sides and offer up other perspectives, so we can explore those as well. I realize this can confuse people at times because we’re so conditioned to wrap perspectives/lenses into our identities, but I find that more growth opportunities are possible with an open mind. Open-mindedness, however, makes for very dull writing and cannot stimulate much growth. A truly open mind can only receive; it has nothing to give. However, when the mind fixates for a while on a specific perspective, it can express many interesting insights. If you assume that my blog posts represent my personal opinions on all subjects I write about, you’ll have a completely inaccurate image of me, and you’ll probably be confused in the end because many of my articles share perspectives that appear to be in conflict with each other. That’s because the perspectives I share aren’t mine per se. They’re perspectives that I temporarily adopt to stimulate people to grow. It doesn’t matter whether people agree or disagree with the perspectives that are shared. They derive new growth lessons through the process of thinking about and discussing what’s true for them. For example, when I write a very opinionated article like 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job, it stimulates a tremendous amount of thought and discussion. For some people, the ideas in the article help motivate them to start their own businesses. I’m aware of dozens of new businesses that have been spawned as a direct result of people reading that article. But some people react in just the opposite way. That article makes them think more deeply about their role as an employee and warns of traps to avoid, so they’re able to make more conscious choices if they choose to follow the path of long-term employment. Either way, that article helps stimulate growth precisely because it appears so strongly opinionated, and therefore people are inclined to think about and react to the ideas being shared. So the irony here is that it can be a very powerful growth experience to adopt a specific perspective and explore it deeply, but you don’t want to get so attached to any particular perspective that you miss out on powerful growth opportunities. You want to use strong perspectives as a tool for stimulating growth as opposed to a method of blocking growth. Blocking Quite often people succumb to false beliefs and erroneous judgments in order to block themselves from facing their fears. For example, if people can make harsh judgments about divorce, even if such judgments are based on false or inaccurate information, it allows them to rule out the possibility of divorce. Consequently, they may remain stuck in an unfulfilling marriage. Staying stuck enables them to block themselves from facing fears such as:If we break up, will I be able to cope? Will I be able to support myself financially? How will my friends and family react? Will a divorce screw up the kids? Am I good enough to attract a new partner? Can I handle seeing my partner withs someone else? What if s/he finds someone who’s a better match than me, and I’m still alone? Facing such challenges consciously can be too much for some people, so in the short run, it may seem easier to block the whole thing by clinging to a false belief likemarriage is permanent. A telltale sign of such blocking is closed-mindedness and the unwillingness to consider contradictory information. Especially common is the unwillingness to embrace learning through direct experience. When people are in blocking mode, they’ll often propose and defend the most ridiculous arguments that make more experienced people cringe. I see this sort of blocking happen quite often in relationship related discussions in our forums. When people are desperately clinging to an unfulfilling relationship situation, out of fear they may not be able to find anything better, they’ll frequently attack any perspectives that would potentially present them with major growth opportunities. Their unwillingness to face their fears prevents them from seriously considering new perspectives. The upside is that blocking is often a prelude to a breakthrough. People who are in a blocking phase aren’t necessarily stuck long-term. Usually they’re working through their fears. The whole reason they dive into such discussions instead of remaining silent is that subconsciously they know that other more experienced people will rip their baseless arguments to shreds, thereby pushing them to face their fears. This can help create cracks in the person’s resistance as their block begins to crumble. Some people eventually come to realize that they’re blocking, and this helps them open their minds and take a deeper look at themselves. This is a difficult thing to do, and I have tremendous respect for people who can recognize their own blocks and look for ways around them. On the other hand, I also have a lot of compassion for people whose resistance is much stronger; they’re deeply afraid of what they may find on the other side. Beyond Blocking Based on my experience seeing many people go through this process, and having done it myself many times, I can at least turn the page and let you know what to expect when you begin to see your own blocks. Initially it’s a humbling experience for most, and afterwards it opens the door to tremendous growth. But how that growth plays out is a bit different for everyone. Some people experience a major breakdown as their old beliefs succumb to new truths. For a while nothing seems real anymore. It’s as if their whole reality is broken. They have to live one day at a time for a while to process what’s happening to them. If you find yourself in this place, rest assured it’s temporary. Just keep breathing, and you’ll work your way through it. Other people go through this process much more gradually, spreading it out over years instead of weeks. Little by little, bits and pieces of their false beliefs are chipped away, and they begin to perceive reality more accurately than before. In the end, the general attitude I see most often is one of gratitude. People look back and say things like, “It was hard, but it was surely worth it.” Do you have blocks? Yes, we all do. If you’re aware of one or more of your blocks, then you have a chance to chip away at them. If you aren’t aware of any blocks, it simply means you aren’t ready to work on them yet. When you feel ready, simply say aloud to the universe, “Show me where I’m blocked.” Say it like you mean it. If your desire is genuine, you won’t have to wait long for one of your blocks to reveal itself. One suggestion I have for overcoming such blocks is to educate yourself. Turn towards your fears in a gentle way by getting a book on the subject and reading about it. Education is a powerful antidote to fear. Another option is to talk to people who’ve already gone through what you fear you might have to endure. They can share a more empowering perspective with you that you may not think is possible. I was much less resistant to divorce, for example, after reading some books about it and talking to people who’d already gone through a divorce. Similarly, I felt a lot more comfortable running my own business after reading books by successful entrepreneurs. If reading a whole book is too much of a commitment, then make an appointment to go to your local bookstore and read just one chapter of one book. Or read for just 20 minutes total. See if you can pick up one or two ideas that will help fill in some gaps in your knowledge. Once you’ve educated yourself, it’s much easier to muster the courage to begin taking small action steps, and from there you can build momentum towards a greater transition. Yet another option is to use the Lefkoe Method to identify and eliminate limiting beliefs, which takes about 20 minutes per belief. I’ve been recommending this method since 2009, and the feedback I’ve received on it since then has been wonderful. I know many people who’ve benefitted greatly from this technique. Intelligent Judgments Judgment isn’t a bad thing per se. Judgments are necessary for making good decisions. Your brain is wired to make judgments automatically because your survival depends on it. Whenever you decide what to eat or not eat, you’re making a judgment call. In terms of personal growth, it’s important to strike the right balance between flexibility and rigidity in your judgments. If you’re too flexible, you become wishy-washy and can’t make strong decisions. Such people don’t function very well. They get tossed around by the currents of life. Other people run roughshod over them. They can’t build or sustain any serious momentum. They bounce around from one thing to another without any rhyme or reason, and their weak results reflect their lack of self-control. On the other hand, too much rigidity can be just as problematic. Such people have a hard time seeing the big picture. False beliefs cripple them from growing in certain areas, so they remain perpetually stuck. How can you tell the difference between good judgments and bad ones? This is perhaps the simplest way to understand the difference. Good judgments yield accurate predictions. Bad judgments yield inaccurate predictions. For example, if I post about something I’m going to do, and you make some predictions about what’s going to happen, how accurate are your predictions? Do my reported results fall within the range of your expectations, or do they violate your expectations? If your expectations are violated, it means you’ve based your predictions on one or more bad judgments. One of my favorite ways to challenge people who are clearly succumbing to false beliefs is to push them to share some specific predictions based on their judgments. I simply ask them to share what they expect will happen next, preferably in public, such as by posting in our forums. For those who do it, it puts them on record, and it allows them to see if they were right in the long run. Some of these people make ridiculously erroneous predictions that any experienced person would find laughable, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from voicing their opinions with great certainty. For example, when I was doing my 30-day trial of raw foods, I seem to recall that one person predicted something like, ”If you eat 100% raw vegan for 30 days, you will suffer protein deficiency symptoms. You’ll never make it to 30 days because otherwise you’d get sick and die.” This person’s ignorance about basic nutrition led them to make a completely inaccurate prediction. Such is the nature of false knowledge — it leads to erroneous predictions. What’s even more ridiculous is when people make erroneous back-predictions of events that have already turned out contrary to their false assumptions. For example, I’ve seen some people predict that if I try to eat vegan for 30 days, I’ll die from nutritional deficiencies… even though I’ve already been vegan since 1997.  Obviously these cases are extreme to the point of being ludicrous, but I share them because we all do this sort of thing to varying degrees. If we would put ourselves on record more often by sharing our best predictions and expectations, it would help expose more of our false beliefs, thereby giving us the opportunity to uproot and replace them with more accurate perspectives. If we can’t share any specific predictions, then a posture of open-mindedness makes more sense than one of closed-mindedness and rigidity. If we can’t make good predictions, we can’t claim any degree of certainty. If you want to know if your judgments are accurate, make some predictions based on those judgments, and see if they come to pass as you expect. The more accurate your judgments, the more accurate your predictions will be. If your predictions turn out to be grossly inaccurate, take a deeper look at your judgments to see where you’ve gone wrong. As you gradually fine-tune your judgments, you’ll consequently make more accurate predictions. And since you naturally rely on your predictions and expectations when making decisions, you’ll get better at making decisions that generate the results you desire. This has very practical consequences. It means more money in your wallet, better health and energy, and happier and more fulfilling relationships to enjoy. It will take time and patience to calibrate your judgments effectively, such that your flexibility or firmness is appropriate to your level of knowledge and the circumstances you’re dealing with. Fortunately, your interactions with those who challenge you will automatically help you get there, if you hold the intention to keep growing and learning. 
    772 Posted by UniqueThis
  • It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain Whenever I write about certain topics, especially those that seem contrary to mainstream conditioning, some people voice very strong opinions. They communicate their thoughts with a high degree of certainty, as if adopting the posture of an expert. However, upon further inspection it becomes readily apparent that most of these people have little or no direct experience upon which to base their opinions. Their knowledge of such subjects can hardly be classified as knowledge at all, since it’s derived largely from non-primary sources like media conditioning, third-party rumors, and supposition. Erroneous Knowledge Of course the problem with acquiring “knowledge” in such an indirect manner is that it’s often riddled with errors. People claim certainty about things that “just ain’t so.” For example, when I wrote some blog posts about polyamory, much of the feedback I received was nonsensical, whether it was supportive or critical. Out of sheer ignorance, some people would start with a false assumption such as polyamory = polygamy (polygamy is illegal in the USA) and then base their opinions on that assumption. Other assumptions were not quite so ludicrous, but they were just as inaccurate. People made such errors in judgment because they have no relevant experience upon which to base an informed opinion. So they filled in their lack of knowledge with guesses, and many of those guesses turned out to be completely erroneous. From their perspective their opinions seemed to make sense, but to any reasonable person with experience in those areas, such opinions seemed utterly naive at best and sometimes borderline insane. Such problems aren’t limited to polyamory of course. They can come up with any topic, but they tend to happen more frequently in areas where people lack direct experience. Other topics which generated a lot of ignorant feedback based on false assumptions include polyphasic sleep, raw food diets, divorce, and even self-employment. The Smoothing Function One reason this problem occurs is that our brains have a tendency to apply a “smoothing function” when we lack information about certain subjects. Our minds are always searching for new levels of certainty and patterns of predictability, so when we lack direct experience in a certain area, our brain does the best it can to pull in connections from seemingly related areas. Unfortunately sometimes those related areas just aren’t related enough, so the connections that are formed introduce a great deal of error, and this corrupts any conclusions we might draw based on those connections. Think of it like an image or a video that’s overly compressed to the point where you can’t even make out any distinct elements. It’s just a blur of colors. That missing data is important. If the compression is turned up too high, the images don’t convey accurate and useful information. For example, when I wrote about polyphasic sleep, the topic was outside of most people’s direct experience. Nevertheless, that fact didn’t prevent such people from voicing strong opinions about it. But since they hadn’t experienced polyphasic sleep and knew virtually nothing about it, their opinions were based on the closest mental connections they could form. So people would share opinions with false suppositions like polyphasic sleep = long-term sleep deprivation. Similarly when I wrote about the raw food diet, many people who hadn’t read so much as a single book about raw foods would share ignorant (yet often strongly worded) opinions based on silly assumptions like raw foods = eating only salads all day. And then there were false associations like polyamory = promiscuity, domination and submission = abuse, and divorce = conflict. Some false associations are of a more personal nature, the result of overgeneralization. These include beliefs such as, “I can’t make money online,” or “If I get divorced, it will screw up my kids,” or “If I lose my job, I won’t be able to cope.” Suspending Judgment False beliefs and associations are growth killers. When your mind is cluttered with false information, and you base your beliefs on such falsehoods, you can’t move forward in those particular areas. Your progress remains stunted until you clean up the mental mess. Now the obvious solution here is to suspend judgment when your knowledge in a particular area is lacking. You can actually do this consciously. Your brain may still apply its smoothing function at inappropriate times, but with sufficient self-awareness, you can discipline yourself to mentally override those biases. The first step is awareness. You must become aware of the areas where you’re likely to harbor false beliefs. When you catch yourself voicing a strong opinion on some subject, pause for a moment and check in with yourself. What specific knowledge are you basing your opinion on? Is this knowledge based on a wide range of direct experience? Are you an expert on this topic? How do you know what you claim to know? Do you catch yourself arguing with someone who has more direct experience than you? Are you voicing an opinion just to be opinionated, or are you sharing information of value? Is your ego getting too involved? Are you wrapping your ideas into your identity, such that when your ideas are criticized, you feel a need to personally defend yourself. What comes up if you ask yourself, What else might be true? Based on your self-diagnostic, you may come to realize that your opinion, even though it may be strongly held, has little or no basis in fact. At this time you can choose to take a step back, release your attachment to your opinion, and allow your mind to unclench and open itself to new ideas. After all, your opinions are not even yours to claim. They are just perspectives. There’s no need to take ownership of any perspective and wrap it into your identity. You Are Perspective-Independent It can be tremendously helpful at times to adopt a particular perspective and make the best case you can for it. Then sit back and observe how other people react to it. Allow their feedback to poke holes in your arguments if possible. Use the strength of that initial perspective to draw out other potential perspectives, and explore them as well. But don’t get your ego so wrapped up in your perspective that you close your mind to new ideas. I do this quite often when I write new articles. Before I begin writing, I adopt a certain perspective that I want to explore in more depth. Then I write some observations based on how reality appears through that lens. After I post the article, I step back and observe the feedback. I see what other lenses people suggest. I see what new pros and cons they identify. In the follow-up discussions, I may push harder to make a case for the original lens, but sometimes I’ll switch sides and offer up other perspectives, so we can explore those as well. I realize this can confuse people at times because we’re so conditioned to wrap perspectives/lenses into our identities, but I find that more growth opportunities are possible with an open mind. Open-mindedness, however, makes for very dull writing and cannot stimulate much growth. A truly open mind can only receive; it has nothing to give. However, when the mind fixates for a while on a specific perspective, it can express many interesting insights. If you assume that my blog posts represent my personal opinions on all subjects I write about, you’ll have a completely inaccurate image of me, and you’ll probably be confused in the end because many of my articles share perspectives that appear to be in conflict with each other. That’s because the perspectives I share aren’t mine per se. They’re perspectives that I temporarily adopt to stimulate people to grow. It doesn’t matter whether people agree or disagree with the perspectives that are shared. They derive new growth lessons through the process of thinking about and discussing what’s true for them. For example, when I write a very opinionated article like 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job, it stimulates a tremendous amount of thought and discussion. For some people, the ideas in the article help motivate them to start their own businesses. I’m aware of dozens of new businesses that have been spawned as a direct result of people reading that article. But some people react in just the opposite way. That article makes them think more deeply about their role as an employee and warns of traps to avoid, so they’re able to make more conscious choices if they choose to follow the path of long-term employment. Either way, that article helps stimulate growth precisely because it appears so strongly opinionated, and therefore people are inclined to think about and react to the ideas being shared. So the irony here is that it can be a very powerful growth experience to adopt a specific perspective and explore it deeply, but you don’t want to get so attached to any particular perspective that you miss out on powerful growth opportunities. You want to use strong perspectives as a tool for stimulating growth as opposed to a method of blocking growth. Blocking Quite often people succumb to false beliefs and erroneous judgments in order to block themselves from facing their fears. For example, if people can make harsh judgments about divorce, even if such judgments are based on false or inaccurate information, it allows them to rule out the possibility of divorce. Consequently, they may remain stuck in an unfulfilling marriage. Staying stuck enables them to block themselves from facing fears such as:If we break up, will I be able to cope? Will I be able to support myself financially? How will my friends and family react? Will a divorce screw up the kids? Am I good enough to attract a new partner? Can I handle seeing my partner withs someone else? What if s/he finds someone who’s a better match than me, and I’m still alone? Facing such challenges consciously can be too much for some people, so in the short run, it may seem easier to block the whole thing by clinging to a false belief likemarriage is permanent. A telltale sign of such blocking is closed-mindedness and the unwillingness to consider contradictory information. Especially common is the unwillingness to embrace learning through direct experience. When people are in blocking mode, they’ll often propose and defend the most ridiculous arguments that make more experienced people cringe. I see this sort of blocking happen quite often in relationship related discussions in our forums. When people are desperately clinging to an unfulfilling relationship situation, out of fear they may not be able to find anything better, they’ll frequently attack any perspectives that would potentially present them with major growth opportunities. Their unwillingness to face their fears prevents them from seriously considering new perspectives. The upside is that blocking is often a prelude to a breakthrough. People who are in a blocking phase aren’t necessarily stuck long-term. Usually they’re working through their fears. The whole reason they dive into such discussions instead of remaining silent is that subconsciously they know that other more experienced people will rip their baseless arguments to shreds, thereby pushing them to face their fears. This can help create cracks in the person’s resistance as their block begins to crumble. Some people eventually come to realize that they’re blocking, and this helps them open their minds and take a deeper look at themselves. This is a difficult thing to do, and I have tremendous respect for people who can recognize their own blocks and look for ways around them. On the other hand, I also have a lot of compassion for people whose resistance is much stronger; they’re deeply afraid of what they may find on the other side. Beyond Blocking Based on my experience seeing many people go through this process, and having done it myself many times, I can at least turn the page and let you know what to expect when you begin to see your own blocks. Initially it’s a humbling experience for most, and afterwards it opens the door to tremendous growth. But how that growth plays out is a bit different for everyone. Some people experience a major breakdown as their old beliefs succumb to new truths. For a while nothing seems real anymore. It’s as if their whole reality is broken. They have to live one day at a time for a while to process what’s happening to them. If you find yourself in this place, rest assured it’s temporary. Just keep breathing, and you’ll work your way through it. Other people go through this process much more gradually, spreading it out over years instead of weeks. Little by little, bits and pieces of their false beliefs are chipped away, and they begin to perceive reality more accurately than before. In the end, the general attitude I see most often is one of gratitude. People look back and say things like, “It was hard, but it was surely worth it.” Do you have blocks? Yes, we all do. If you’re aware of one or more of your blocks, then you have a chance to chip away at them. If you aren’t aware of any blocks, it simply means you aren’t ready to work on them yet. When you feel ready, simply say aloud to the universe, “Show me where I’m blocked.” Say it like you mean it. If your desire is genuine, you won’t have to wait long for one of your blocks to reveal itself. One suggestion I have for overcoming such blocks is to educate yourself. Turn towards your fears in a gentle way by getting a book on the subject and reading about it. Education is a powerful antidote to fear. Another option is to talk to people who’ve already gone through what you fear you might have to endure. They can share a more empowering perspective with you that you may not think is possible. I was much less resistant to divorce, for example, after reading some books about it and talking to people who’d already gone through a divorce. Similarly, I felt a lot more comfortable running my own business after reading books by successful entrepreneurs. If reading a whole book is too much of a commitment, then make an appointment to go to your local bookstore and read just one chapter of one book. Or read for just 20 minutes total. See if you can pick up one or two ideas that will help fill in some gaps in your knowledge. Once you’ve educated yourself, it’s much easier to muster the courage to begin taking small action steps, and from there you can build momentum towards a greater transition. Yet another option is to use the Lefkoe Method to identify and eliminate limiting beliefs, which takes about 20 minutes per belief. I’ve been recommending this method since 2009, and the feedback I’ve received on it since then has been wonderful. I know many people who’ve benefitted greatly from this technique. Intelligent Judgments Judgment isn’t a bad thing per se. Judgments are necessary for making good decisions. Your brain is wired to make judgments automatically because your survival depends on it. Whenever you decide what to eat or not eat, you’re making a judgment call. In terms of personal growth, it’s important to strike the right balance between flexibility and rigidity in your judgments. If you’re too flexible, you become wishy-washy and can’t make strong decisions. Such people don’t function very well. They get tossed around by the currents of life. Other people run roughshod over them. They can’t build or sustain any serious momentum. They bounce around from one thing to another without any rhyme or reason, and their weak results reflect their lack of self-control. On the other hand, too much rigidity can be just as problematic. Such people have a hard time seeing the big picture. False beliefs cripple them from growing in certain areas, so they remain perpetually stuck. How can you tell the difference between good judgments and bad ones? This is perhaps the simplest way to understand the difference. Good judgments yield accurate predictions. Bad judgments yield inaccurate predictions. For example, if I post about something I’m going to do, and you make some predictions about what’s going to happen, how accurate are your predictions? Do my reported results fall within the range of your expectations, or do they violate your expectations? If your expectations are violated, it means you’ve based your predictions on one or more bad judgments. One of my favorite ways to challenge people who are clearly succumbing to false beliefs is to push them to share some specific predictions based on their judgments. I simply ask them to share what they expect will happen next, preferably in public, such as by posting in our forums. For those who do it, it puts them on record, and it allows them to see if they were right in the long run. Some of these people make ridiculously erroneous predictions that any experienced person would find laughable, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from voicing their opinions with great certainty. For example, when I was doing my 30-day trial of raw foods, I seem to recall that one person predicted something like, ”If you eat 100% raw vegan for 30 days, you will suffer protein deficiency symptoms. You’ll never make it to 30 days because otherwise you’d get sick and die.” This person’s ignorance about basic nutrition led them to make a completely inaccurate prediction. Such is the nature of false knowledge — it leads to erroneous predictions. What’s even more ridiculous is when people make erroneous back-predictions of events that have already turned out contrary to their false assumptions. For example, I’ve seen some people predict that if I try to eat vegan for 30 days, I’ll die from nutritional deficiencies… even though I’ve already been vegan since 1997.  Obviously these cases are extreme to the point of being ludicrous, but I share them because we all do this sort of thing to varying degrees. If we would put ourselves on record more often by sharing our best predictions and expectations, it would help expose more of our false beliefs, thereby giving us the opportunity to uproot and replace them with more accurate perspectives. If we can’t share any specific predictions, then a posture of open-mindedness makes more sense than one of closed-mindedness and rigidity. If we can’t make good predictions, we can’t claim any degree of certainty. If you want to know if your judgments are accurate, make some predictions based on those judgments, and see if they come to pass as you expect. The more accurate your judgments, the more accurate your predictions will be. If your predictions turn out to be grossly inaccurate, take a deeper look at your judgments to see where you’ve gone wrong. As you gradually fine-tune your judgments, you’ll consequently make more accurate predictions. And since you naturally rely on your predictions and expectations when making decisions, you’ll get better at making decisions that generate the results you desire. This has very practical consequences. It means more money in your wallet, better health and energy, and happier and more fulfilling relationships to enjoy. It will take time and patience to calibrate your judgments effectively, such that your flexibility or firmness is appropriate to your level of knowledge and the circumstances you’re dealing with. Fortunately, your interactions with those who challenge you will automatically help you get there, if you hold the intention to keep growing and learning. 
    Jul 12, 2011 772
  • 12 Jul 2011
    Many time management experts label procrastination in strictly negative terms such as “the thief of time.” But is procrastination always such a negative experience? Is there a positive side to procrastination, one that may even encourage you to procrastinate more often? What if you could see procrastination from a more empowering perspective? What if you could even fall in love with procrastination? The Anti-Procrastination Brigade One of the reasons procrastination gets such a bad rap is because it’s generally perceived as contrary to corporate agendas, which rely heavily on time-is-of-the-essence execution driven by command and control authority to hit financial targets. When employees procrastinate on key projects and tasks, it can cause delays that hurt the corporate bottom line. Managers are typically held accountable for these delays. Managerial pay is frequently linked to the corporate agenda, so procrastination issues with team members can personally impact a manager’s income. This incentivizes managers to turn procrastination into an enemy and to do what they can to squash it. Consequently, you’ll commonly find that anti-procrastination books are written by current or former corporate managers. I’ve read many books on this topic, and I have a hard time recalling one that wasn’t written by someone with management experience. Since I’ve managed a team in the past as well, I’ve also witnessed the effect of procrastination on team results, so it should come as no surprise that I too have been a member of the anti-procrastination brigade. One of my earliest article hits was Overcoming Procrastination. I wrote the original version of that article in 2001 while running Dexterity Software, three years before I started blogging, and for most of the intervening years, it has held a top position in search engines. Anti-procrastination, however, is merely a perspective — a lens through which we can view reality. In this article, I’d like to offer you a different perspective to consider. Instead of favoring what’s best for the manager, the team, or the company, let’s consider what’s actually best for the individual. What Do You Do When You Procrastinate? When you’re coming upon a deadline, and you seem to be putting off what “needs” to be done, what are you doing instead? Some people tend to freeze in this situation, doing virtually nothing. They get some impulses for things they’d rather be doing, but then they guilt themselves out of acting on them. However, if you were to set that guilt aside and flow with those impulses, what would you end up doing instead? And what might be the long-term consequences? Perhaps the consequences of procrastination are not as negative as they initially seem. The pressure of the moment has a way of distorting your perspective, just as physical pressure can distort a glass lens. When I was in high school, I used to procrastinate heavily on certain school assignments, almost always waiting till the night before the due date to begin working on them. Most often I’d procrastinate on writing essays and doing various reading assignments. I generally found them boring and tedious. Looking back, I don’t see that this has hurt me at all over the long run. I still don’t care about analyzing the works of Chaucer, and since then my mind has seen fit to reallocate the neurons once devoted to such tasks. What would I do while I was procrastinating on school assignments? I spent many hours playing video games. I also read programming books and wrote small programs on my Atari 800 and then on a PC. And this actually benefitted me in a huge way. Many years later I started a game development and publishing company and ran it for more than a decade. Thanks in part to my previous gaming experience, some of my games won industry awards. So while it seemed like I was procrastinating on the important stuff in high school, in truth I was putting off what was less relevant to me personally, so I could spend more time doing what actually mattered to me. Somehow I never got around to writing a computer game based on the life of Chaucer. Years later, I found myself procrastinating on programming projects in order to read personal development books, listen to audio programs, and write articles. My early article writing was actually a form of procrastination. I always had to put off something seemingly more important to free up time to crank out a new article. I’d also coach other game developers as a form of procrastination, helping certain people gain the knowledge and skills they needed to quit their corporate jobs and start their own indie game development businesses. But the funny thing is that further down the road, I ended up licensing and publishing games from some of those developers I helped. In retrospect, this pattern of procrastination has benefitted me tremendously in the long run, although at the time it often seemed like a bad habit I needed to resist, and I’d feel guilty about it. It caused me some extra stress and a number of all-nighters. I’ve also had to deal with the occasional late fee or penalty now and then. But overall I have to say that all that procrastination wasn’t such a problem after all. I can make a case that it’s done me more good than harm. Whose Agenda Are You Fulfilling? Whose deadlines are you really working on? Are they your deadlines or someone else’s? If the deadlines aren’t really yours, why do you care so much about them anyway? Quite often you’ll find yourself procrastinating on someone else’s agenda so you can spend more time working on your own. Much of the time, however, people aren’t in tune with their own agendas. They spend more time fussing over what they think they should be doing as opposed to what they actually want to be doing. So what if you’re late? Do you really care all that much what your teacher thinks of you… or your boss… or the government? Other people’s deadlines are just that — other people’s deadlines. They won’t always mesh with your desires. Even if you choose to take on a certain project, and you’re the one defining the milestones along the way, you may find that at some future point, you seem to be resisting your earlier decisions. You may have a hard time getting yourself to take action when you know that you “should.” Where do you think this resistance comes from? What if this isn’t a failing at all? What if your procrastination is actually a signal that your priorities are askew? What if procrastination is a sign that a greater intelligence is trying to nudge you in a whole new direction? How Much Is Procrastination Really Hurting You? When you feel that you’re procrastinating, take a deeper look at what’s going on. First of all, is your procrastination really hurting you all that much? Or are you making mountains out of molehills? In the grand scheme of things, having to pay a late fee is hardly the end of the world. Same goes for doing an occasional all-nighter. The money can be recouped. You’ll have a chance to catch up on your sleep later. You’ll recover easily enough. The consequences are little more than a mosquito bite. Even when something seems really bad at the time, years later you may look back and realize it wasn’t such a big deal after all. And maybe it actually helped you get onto a better path. For example, if your procrastination is so “bad” that you end up failing your classes and getting kicked out of college, initially it may seem like a huge blow. You may be inclined to beat yourself up with guilt, and the people around you may heap loads of disappointment onto you. But later in life when the emotional sting wears off, you may realize that this was a powerful step along your path of growth. You’ll begin to see the good in those trying times. Perhaps your procrastination helped you escape the wrong major. After all, how can you purport to be majoring in something that’s aligned with your passion and talents if you got yourself expelled because when push came to shove, you consistently opted to do something other than tend to your studies? Maybe your real mistake was further upstream, and procrastination helped you escape a dead-end track. Another possibility is that the timing just wasn’t right. Maybe your procrastination is telling you that this is the wrong time to attend college. Perhaps you should travel the world for a while. Maybe you don’t need a college degree at all. Maybe you should dive right in and get to work doing what you love. What if the decision to earn a degree was just a fear-based delay tactic? The Benefit of Hindsight Even when it seems like your procrastination habit is a purely destructive one, there may be hidden benefits that can be difficult to see at the time. When I got expelled from UC Berkeley after 3 semesters — I think that in my final semester, my GPA actually started with the decimal point — it was a huge blow to me at the time. Even worse was that I’d just gotten out of jail after being charged with felony grand theft, and I was awaiting my court date. This was a major low point in my life. I was only 19 years old at the time, and I constantly beat myself up about the stupid mistakes I’d made. I thought I was a fairly intelligent guy, but apparently my choices had been incredibly stupid. I procrastinated endlessly on my studies, so I could do things like drink alcohol, go to parties, play poker, and shoplift. My original plan was to earn my degree in computer science, then maybe go on to earn a Ph.D. Afterwards I could get a nice job as a computer programmer somewhere. That was my “should” path. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, however, the seemingly crazy path I ended up taking turned out to be tremendously valuable. It was very stressful at the time, but to this day, I remain immensely grateful that I didn’t stick to my original plan and graduate from UC Berkeley. If I’d followed that course, I might be working as a computer programmer for the government or some corporation today. That wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible outcome, but I’d much rather be where I am today than where I expect that path would have led me. I think my original plan would have been a heartless path for me in the long run. Instead, my procrastination put me in a position where I had to learn entirely different lessons. Through shoplifting I pushed myself to face my fear again and again and to control my adrenaline response, so I could maintain my composure even when taking big risks. That has been of tremendous benefit to me ever since, especially in business. I really love that I’m able to look at something that scares me and motivate myself to plow right through it without freezing up. It’s very unlikely I’d be doing public speaking today if I’d never learned those courage lessons via shoplifting. Secondly, I learned how to handle negative social pressure. When I hit that low point in my life, everyone who knew me at the time seemed deeply disappointed in me. A lot of criticism was heaped upon me, and I can’t say that it was unwarranted. But in order to make forward progress and turn things around, I had to learn to tune out unhelpful feedback, decide for myself what was best, and take action without the benefit of social support. Otherwise I’d have gotten stuck in a place of self-pity or defensiveness. This ability still comes in handy today. For instance, I feel quite comfortable opening up about topics that will predictably generate a lot of negative feedback (such as polyamory or divorce). It’s hard for me to get worked up over anonymous Internet criticism after what I’ve already been through. Thirdly, I had to learn to love myself unconditionally. The beating I gave myself at the time was worse than what anyone else could have done to me. I was terribly disappointed in myself, and I felt guilty about blowing everything that seemed important. As I recovered from those experiences, which took a long time, I gradually learned to accept myself in spite of my apparent flaws. I had to learn that I’m still worthy of love. We all are. By loving myself, I feel more inclined to care about others. A few days ago, I noticed that a friend seemed to be feeling down on herself, so I wrote her a note to offer her some support and to remind her that she’s loved and appreciated. And of course I had to procrastinate on something “important” to do that. Perhaps our to-do lists should include more items like this to begin with. Fourthly, I became more motivated than ever to do some good with my life. I was so disgusted with the way I’d been living that I pushed myself to the opposite end of the spectrum. I began spending a lot of time working on my character development. Changes were slow and gradual, but eventually I grew into a man who felt good about himself and his contribution to the world. Fifthly, I became a lot less judgmental towards others. Given my sordid past, who am I to judge someone else for their choices? I learned that accepting others and accepting myself are two sides of the same coin; you can’t love and accept yourself without doing the same for others. In my writing I will sometimes temporarily adopt a very opinionated position to stimulate people to think about the ideas, but that’s simply a literary tool I employ to make articles more impactful and memorable. People who hang out with me in person know that I’m ridiculously accepting of others, regardless of their lifestyles. Consequently, I seem to have a habit of attracting friends who are often subjected to harsh judgment by society, including psychics, strippers, porn stars, polyamorous people, pot smokers, people with non-mainstream spiritual beliefs, and of course those “crazy” jobless folks. This has added tremendous richness to my life, including many fun and educational experiences that I’d have otherwise missed. Associating with such people has also helped me feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. And finally, I gained much more freedom. Since I had failed in such a big way, everyone else’s expectations of me hit rock bottom. No one expected anything from me after that. This gave me the social and emotional freedom to begin taking control of my life without feeling that I had to live up to anyone else’s expectations. Even though I was in a low place, I felt like I finally had the wherewithal to steer my life as I saw fit without worrying about what other people might think. I could hardly make things worse, so it was easier to take some risks. To this day I’m immensely grateful for these lessons (and many more), which came about as a result of procrastinating on my studies in order to follow other impulses. I can’t be sure where those impulses came from, but I’ve since learned not to reject such urges out of hand. Perhaps there is a greater intelligence at work here. Stop Beating Yourself Up If you have a tendency to beat yourself up for procrastinating, maybe you should stop doing that. It doesn’t help you anyway, does it? Perhaps procrastinating isn’t such a bad thing after all. What if there are important growth experiences to be found within your procrastination? Are the items on your to-do list really so important? Are they important to you personally? Why do you feed them so much energy? Even the stuff that seems really important in the moment may look totally different with the benefit of hindsight. You may be beating yourself up because your procrastination seems to be leading you astray. What if you’re even at risk of losing your home? Is it possible that this may turn out to be a good thing in the long run? Who’s to say that losing your stuff is bad? Maybe you’ll find newfound freedom in a life of minimalism. Maybe you’ll end up living in a much nicer place down the road. Maybe the experience will help you develop more courage and self-acceptance. Maybe you’ll gain a cool story to blog about someday, whereby you’ll be in a position to help other people learn valuable lessons. Realize that someday, all of this will be gone. Eventually you’ll pass on and leave this world behind. What will matter to you most when you’re on your deathbed? Will you wish you’d hit more of your assigned deadlines ahead of time? Or will you perhaps wish that you’d spent more time following your heart? Will you regret those late assignments? Or will you regret those amazing life experiences that you missed because you were too busy working to meet someone else’s deadline? Procrastinate Harder What if… instead of resisting your impulse to procrastinate, you threw yourself into it more fully? What if you dove headfirst into your biggest procrastination impulses? Where might they lead you? Maybe procrastination won’t seem like such a curse if you follow those impulses without so much guilt and resistance. You’re probably going to procrastinate anyway, so why not do it in style? When you feel the urge to procrastinate, what are you driven to do? Do you feel like watching movies? Perhaps you could become the next Roger Ebert. Do you prefer to play computer games? Maybe someday you’ll start a game review site or become a game designer. Maybe playing games will evolve into a fun hobby that you can enjoy with friends and family. You might even find a new relationship partner via an online game. Do you like to escape into books? If you read enough books in a certain field, you can eventually become an international expert. I learned a great deal about personal development by reading hundreds of books, but at the time it often seemed like I was procrastinating on something more important. Do you invest a lot of time and energy in online socializing? Maybe you’ll meet your next relationship partner that way. Or perhaps you’ll become a highly paid social media consultant. Corporations are throwing thousands of dollars at such consultants just to learn how to use Twitter and Facebook like any teenager can. You may not even realize just how valuable your expertise can be to the right people. Maybe you could do what the worst procrastinators in the world frequently do. Start your own productivity blog.  Having a Life What would you rather be doing than working to meet someone else’s deadlines? Quite often when you procrastinate, you’ll find yourself doing what it takes to have a life. If you stopped resisting the urge to procrastinate and simply went with it, what new experiences would you invite into your life? What other emotions are hidden behind those surface feelings of stress and resistance? Do you also see some potential excitement staring back at you? What about the feeling that maybe you could get all the so-called “important” work done in half the time you originally estimated while still carving out space to do what you love? Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to blow off today and go have some fun. Isn’t it a more natural tendency to do what you enjoy first… then do what you supposedly have to do as urgency dictates? Perhaps you should allow those “have tos” to build up a certain level of urgency-based pressure before you tend to them. Such pressure has some benefits, doesn’t it? Once it reaches a certain level, you may be able to plow through tons of work with unrelenting speed and focus, drawing on inner resources that you could never bring to bear when you were swimming in extra time. Maybe you’ve been over-thinking this problem, turning it into a phantom boogieman. What if you simply relaxed into the idea of following your heart? Let the procrastination happen. Let the pressure build. If there’s something that really does need to be done, you’ll find a way to get it done. You always do when it truly matters, don’t you? It’s not like you’ve procrastinated yourself into starvation. Despite all your worst procrastination episodes, you’re still breathing, aren’t you? You may think that procrastination is hurting you, but is that harm actually real? Or is it just imaginary harm? Are you still whole and intact? Perhaps there is some greater intelligence nudging you to delay tasks and activities that merely seem important but really aren’t. “Having a life” might just be what happens while you’re procrastinating on something else. When you delay to the limit those uninspired tasks, you’ll create more space in your life for inspiration and joy. * * * I hope you enjoyed this article since I procrastinated on lots of accounting work to write it. I’m sure I’ll feel plenty guilty about that later.  In the meantime, please ponder these quotes from Geoffrey Chaucer: Love is blind. Forbid us something, and that thing we desire. The life so short, the crafts so long to learn. First he wrought, and afterward he taught. The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people. The guilty think all talk is of themselves. Time and tide wait for no man. Women desire six things: They want their husbands to be brave, wise, rich, generous, obedient to wife, and lively in bed. You had to procrastinate on something to read this article, didn’t you? 
    898 Posted by UniqueThis
  • Many time management experts label procrastination in strictly negative terms such as “the thief of time.” But is procrastination always such a negative experience? Is there a positive side to procrastination, one that may even encourage you to procrastinate more often? What if you could see procrastination from a more empowering perspective? What if you could even fall in love with procrastination? The Anti-Procrastination Brigade One of the reasons procrastination gets such a bad rap is because it’s generally perceived as contrary to corporate agendas, which rely heavily on time-is-of-the-essence execution driven by command and control authority to hit financial targets. When employees procrastinate on key projects and tasks, it can cause delays that hurt the corporate bottom line. Managers are typically held accountable for these delays. Managerial pay is frequently linked to the corporate agenda, so procrastination issues with team members can personally impact a manager’s income. This incentivizes managers to turn procrastination into an enemy and to do what they can to squash it. Consequently, you’ll commonly find that anti-procrastination books are written by current or former corporate managers. I’ve read many books on this topic, and I have a hard time recalling one that wasn’t written by someone with management experience. Since I’ve managed a team in the past as well, I’ve also witnessed the effect of procrastination on team results, so it should come as no surprise that I too have been a member of the anti-procrastination brigade. One of my earliest article hits was Overcoming Procrastination. I wrote the original version of that article in 2001 while running Dexterity Software, three years before I started blogging, and for most of the intervening years, it has held a top position in search engines. Anti-procrastination, however, is merely a perspective — a lens through which we can view reality. In this article, I’d like to offer you a different perspective to consider. Instead of favoring what’s best for the manager, the team, or the company, let’s consider what’s actually best for the individual. What Do You Do When You Procrastinate? When you’re coming upon a deadline, and you seem to be putting off what “needs” to be done, what are you doing instead? Some people tend to freeze in this situation, doing virtually nothing. They get some impulses for things they’d rather be doing, but then they guilt themselves out of acting on them. However, if you were to set that guilt aside and flow with those impulses, what would you end up doing instead? And what might be the long-term consequences? Perhaps the consequences of procrastination are not as negative as they initially seem. The pressure of the moment has a way of distorting your perspective, just as physical pressure can distort a glass lens. When I was in high school, I used to procrastinate heavily on certain school assignments, almost always waiting till the night before the due date to begin working on them. Most often I’d procrastinate on writing essays and doing various reading assignments. I generally found them boring and tedious. Looking back, I don’t see that this has hurt me at all over the long run. I still don’t care about analyzing the works of Chaucer, and since then my mind has seen fit to reallocate the neurons once devoted to such tasks. What would I do while I was procrastinating on school assignments? I spent many hours playing video games. I also read programming books and wrote small programs on my Atari 800 and then on a PC. And this actually benefitted me in a huge way. Many years later I started a game development and publishing company and ran it for more than a decade. Thanks in part to my previous gaming experience, some of my games won industry awards. So while it seemed like I was procrastinating on the important stuff in high school, in truth I was putting off what was less relevant to me personally, so I could spend more time doing what actually mattered to me. Somehow I never got around to writing a computer game based on the life of Chaucer. Years later, I found myself procrastinating on programming projects in order to read personal development books, listen to audio programs, and write articles. My early article writing was actually a form of procrastination. I always had to put off something seemingly more important to free up time to crank out a new article. I’d also coach other game developers as a form of procrastination, helping certain people gain the knowledge and skills they needed to quit their corporate jobs and start their own indie game development businesses. But the funny thing is that further down the road, I ended up licensing and publishing games from some of those developers I helped. In retrospect, this pattern of procrastination has benefitted me tremendously in the long run, although at the time it often seemed like a bad habit I needed to resist, and I’d feel guilty about it. It caused me some extra stress and a number of all-nighters. I’ve also had to deal with the occasional late fee or penalty now and then. But overall I have to say that all that procrastination wasn’t such a problem after all. I can make a case that it’s done me more good than harm. Whose Agenda Are You Fulfilling? Whose deadlines are you really working on? Are they your deadlines or someone else’s? If the deadlines aren’t really yours, why do you care so much about them anyway? Quite often you’ll find yourself procrastinating on someone else’s agenda so you can spend more time working on your own. Much of the time, however, people aren’t in tune with their own agendas. They spend more time fussing over what they think they should be doing as opposed to what they actually want to be doing. So what if you’re late? Do you really care all that much what your teacher thinks of you… or your boss… or the government? Other people’s deadlines are just that — other people’s deadlines. They won’t always mesh with your desires. Even if you choose to take on a certain project, and you’re the one defining the milestones along the way, you may find that at some future point, you seem to be resisting your earlier decisions. You may have a hard time getting yourself to take action when you know that you “should.” Where do you think this resistance comes from? What if this isn’t a failing at all? What if your procrastination is actually a signal that your priorities are askew? What if procrastination is a sign that a greater intelligence is trying to nudge you in a whole new direction? How Much Is Procrastination Really Hurting You? When you feel that you’re procrastinating, take a deeper look at what’s going on. First of all, is your procrastination really hurting you all that much? Or are you making mountains out of molehills? In the grand scheme of things, having to pay a late fee is hardly the end of the world. Same goes for doing an occasional all-nighter. The money can be recouped. You’ll have a chance to catch up on your sleep later. You’ll recover easily enough. The consequences are little more than a mosquito bite. Even when something seems really bad at the time, years later you may look back and realize it wasn’t such a big deal after all. And maybe it actually helped you get onto a better path. For example, if your procrastination is so “bad” that you end up failing your classes and getting kicked out of college, initially it may seem like a huge blow. You may be inclined to beat yourself up with guilt, and the people around you may heap loads of disappointment onto you. But later in life when the emotional sting wears off, you may realize that this was a powerful step along your path of growth. You’ll begin to see the good in those trying times. Perhaps your procrastination helped you escape the wrong major. After all, how can you purport to be majoring in something that’s aligned with your passion and talents if you got yourself expelled because when push came to shove, you consistently opted to do something other than tend to your studies? Maybe your real mistake was further upstream, and procrastination helped you escape a dead-end track. Another possibility is that the timing just wasn’t right. Maybe your procrastination is telling you that this is the wrong time to attend college. Perhaps you should travel the world for a while. Maybe you don’t need a college degree at all. Maybe you should dive right in and get to work doing what you love. What if the decision to earn a degree was just a fear-based delay tactic? The Benefit of Hindsight Even when it seems like your procrastination habit is a purely destructive one, there may be hidden benefits that can be difficult to see at the time. When I got expelled from UC Berkeley after 3 semesters — I think that in my final semester, my GPA actually started with the decimal point — it was a huge blow to me at the time. Even worse was that I’d just gotten out of jail after being charged with felony grand theft, and I was awaiting my court date. This was a major low point in my life. I was only 19 years old at the time, and I constantly beat myself up about the stupid mistakes I’d made. I thought I was a fairly intelligent guy, but apparently my choices had been incredibly stupid. I procrastinated endlessly on my studies, so I could do things like drink alcohol, go to parties, play poker, and shoplift. My original plan was to earn my degree in computer science, then maybe go on to earn a Ph.D. Afterwards I could get a nice job as a computer programmer somewhere. That was my “should” path. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, however, the seemingly crazy path I ended up taking turned out to be tremendously valuable. It was very stressful at the time, but to this day, I remain immensely grateful that I didn’t stick to my original plan and graduate from UC Berkeley. If I’d followed that course, I might be working as a computer programmer for the government or some corporation today. That wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible outcome, but I’d much rather be where I am today than where I expect that path would have led me. I think my original plan would have been a heartless path for me in the long run. Instead, my procrastination put me in a position where I had to learn entirely different lessons. Through shoplifting I pushed myself to face my fear again and again and to control my adrenaline response, so I could maintain my composure even when taking big risks. That has been of tremendous benefit to me ever since, especially in business. I really love that I’m able to look at something that scares me and motivate myself to plow right through it without freezing up. It’s very unlikely I’d be doing public speaking today if I’d never learned those courage lessons via shoplifting. Secondly, I learned how to handle negative social pressure. When I hit that low point in my life, everyone who knew me at the time seemed deeply disappointed in me. A lot of criticism was heaped upon me, and I can’t say that it was unwarranted. But in order to make forward progress and turn things around, I had to learn to tune out unhelpful feedback, decide for myself what was best, and take action without the benefit of social support. Otherwise I’d have gotten stuck in a place of self-pity or defensiveness. This ability still comes in handy today. For instance, I feel quite comfortable opening up about topics that will predictably generate a lot of negative feedback (such as polyamory or divorce). It’s hard for me to get worked up over anonymous Internet criticism after what I’ve already been through. Thirdly, I had to learn to love myself unconditionally. The beating I gave myself at the time was worse than what anyone else could have done to me. I was terribly disappointed in myself, and I felt guilty about blowing everything that seemed important. As I recovered from those experiences, which took a long time, I gradually learned to accept myself in spite of my apparent flaws. I had to learn that I’m still worthy of love. We all are. By loving myself, I feel more inclined to care about others. A few days ago, I noticed that a friend seemed to be feeling down on herself, so I wrote her a note to offer her some support and to remind her that she’s loved and appreciated. And of course I had to procrastinate on something “important” to do that. Perhaps our to-do lists should include more items like this to begin with. Fourthly, I became more motivated than ever to do some good with my life. I was so disgusted with the way I’d been living that I pushed myself to the opposite end of the spectrum. I began spending a lot of time working on my character development. Changes were slow and gradual, but eventually I grew into a man who felt good about himself and his contribution to the world. Fifthly, I became a lot less judgmental towards others. Given my sordid past, who am I to judge someone else for their choices? I learned that accepting others and accepting myself are two sides of the same coin; you can’t love and accept yourself without doing the same for others. In my writing I will sometimes temporarily adopt a very opinionated position to stimulate people to think about the ideas, but that’s simply a literary tool I employ to make articles more impactful and memorable. People who hang out with me in person know that I’m ridiculously accepting of others, regardless of their lifestyles. Consequently, I seem to have a habit of attracting friends who are often subjected to harsh judgment by society, including psychics, strippers, porn stars, polyamorous people, pot smokers, people with non-mainstream spiritual beliefs, and of course those “crazy” jobless folks. This has added tremendous richness to my life, including many fun and educational experiences that I’d have otherwise missed. Associating with such people has also helped me feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. And finally, I gained much more freedom. Since I had failed in such a big way, everyone else’s expectations of me hit rock bottom. No one expected anything from me after that. This gave me the social and emotional freedom to begin taking control of my life without feeling that I had to live up to anyone else’s expectations. Even though I was in a low place, I felt like I finally had the wherewithal to steer my life as I saw fit without worrying about what other people might think. I could hardly make things worse, so it was easier to take some risks. To this day I’m immensely grateful for these lessons (and many more), which came about as a result of procrastinating on my studies in order to follow other impulses. I can’t be sure where those impulses came from, but I’ve since learned not to reject such urges out of hand. Perhaps there is a greater intelligence at work here. Stop Beating Yourself Up If you have a tendency to beat yourself up for procrastinating, maybe you should stop doing that. It doesn’t help you anyway, does it? Perhaps procrastinating isn’t such a bad thing after all. What if there are important growth experiences to be found within your procrastination? Are the items on your to-do list really so important? Are they important to you personally? Why do you feed them so much energy? Even the stuff that seems really important in the moment may look totally different with the benefit of hindsight. You may be beating yourself up because your procrastination seems to be leading you astray. What if you’re even at risk of losing your home? Is it possible that this may turn out to be a good thing in the long run? Who’s to say that losing your stuff is bad? Maybe you’ll find newfound freedom in a life of minimalism. Maybe you’ll end up living in a much nicer place down the road. Maybe the experience will help you develop more courage and self-acceptance. Maybe you’ll gain a cool story to blog about someday, whereby you’ll be in a position to help other people learn valuable lessons. Realize that someday, all of this will be gone. Eventually you’ll pass on and leave this world behind. What will matter to you most when you’re on your deathbed? Will you wish you’d hit more of your assigned deadlines ahead of time? Or will you perhaps wish that you’d spent more time following your heart? Will you regret those late assignments? Or will you regret those amazing life experiences that you missed because you were too busy working to meet someone else’s deadline? Procrastinate Harder What if… instead of resisting your impulse to procrastinate, you threw yourself into it more fully? What if you dove headfirst into your biggest procrastination impulses? Where might they lead you? Maybe procrastination won’t seem like such a curse if you follow those impulses without so much guilt and resistance. You’re probably going to procrastinate anyway, so why not do it in style? When you feel the urge to procrastinate, what are you driven to do? Do you feel like watching movies? Perhaps you could become the next Roger Ebert. Do you prefer to play computer games? Maybe someday you’ll start a game review site or become a game designer. Maybe playing games will evolve into a fun hobby that you can enjoy with friends and family. You might even find a new relationship partner via an online game. Do you like to escape into books? If you read enough books in a certain field, you can eventually become an international expert. I learned a great deal about personal development by reading hundreds of books, but at the time it often seemed like I was procrastinating on something more important. Do you invest a lot of time and energy in online socializing? Maybe you’ll meet your next relationship partner that way. Or perhaps you’ll become a highly paid social media consultant. Corporations are throwing thousands of dollars at such consultants just to learn how to use Twitter and Facebook like any teenager can. You may not even realize just how valuable your expertise can be to the right people. Maybe you could do what the worst procrastinators in the world frequently do. Start your own productivity blog.  Having a Life What would you rather be doing than working to meet someone else’s deadlines? Quite often when you procrastinate, you’ll find yourself doing what it takes to have a life. If you stopped resisting the urge to procrastinate and simply went with it, what new experiences would you invite into your life? What other emotions are hidden behind those surface feelings of stress and resistance? Do you also see some potential excitement staring back at you? What about the feeling that maybe you could get all the so-called “important” work done in half the time you originally estimated while still carving out space to do what you love? Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to blow off today and go have some fun. Isn’t it a more natural tendency to do what you enjoy first… then do what you supposedly have to do as urgency dictates? Perhaps you should allow those “have tos” to build up a certain level of urgency-based pressure before you tend to them. Such pressure has some benefits, doesn’t it? Once it reaches a certain level, you may be able to plow through tons of work with unrelenting speed and focus, drawing on inner resources that you could never bring to bear when you were swimming in extra time. Maybe you’ve been over-thinking this problem, turning it into a phantom boogieman. What if you simply relaxed into the idea of following your heart? Let the procrastination happen. Let the pressure build. If there’s something that really does need to be done, you’ll find a way to get it done. You always do when it truly matters, don’t you? It’s not like you’ve procrastinated yourself into starvation. Despite all your worst procrastination episodes, you’re still breathing, aren’t you? You may think that procrastination is hurting you, but is that harm actually real? Or is it just imaginary harm? Are you still whole and intact? Perhaps there is some greater intelligence nudging you to delay tasks and activities that merely seem important but really aren’t. “Having a life” might just be what happens while you’re procrastinating on something else. When you delay to the limit those uninspired tasks, you’ll create more space in your life for inspiration and joy. * * * I hope you enjoyed this article since I procrastinated on lots of accounting work to write it. I’m sure I’ll feel plenty guilty about that later.  In the meantime, please ponder these quotes from Geoffrey Chaucer: Love is blind. Forbid us something, and that thing we desire. The life so short, the crafts so long to learn. First he wrought, and afterward he taught. The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people. The guilty think all talk is of themselves. Time and tide wait for no man. Women desire six things: They want their husbands to be brave, wise, rich, generous, obedient to wife, and lively in bed. You had to procrastinate on something to read this article, didn’t you? 
    Jul 12, 2011 898
  • 12 Jul 2011
    I spent last week in Santa Fe, NM for a Transformational Leadership Council retreat. These TLC retreats are held twice a year, and this is the third one I’ve attended. It was also the largest, with about 80 members (out of a total of 114) present. The atmosphere at TLC is like a big family reunion. It’s a place where people who are doing transformational work can come together to help and support each other both personally and professionally. Sometimes business deals happen, but the main focus isn’t transactional. It’s about caring for each other, supporting each other, and helping each other grow and improve. We meditate together each day, we sing, we dance, and we do fun and sometimes silly activities. We share many laughs and hundreds of hugs. We help support those who are going through rough times. We share our best ideas on how to accelerate the healing of this planet. We also pool our knowledge and skills to help each other in a spirit of cooperation. For example, at the January TLC retreat in Puerto Rico, I did a presentation on building web traffic. It was rewarding to see that six months later, a number of TLC members had already applied those ideas to reach more people with their positive messages. On top of that, we do a lot of deep introspection. We push ourselves to grow as human beings, to become more aware and to recognize new truths, to become stronger and more courageous, to connect more deeply and to become more heart-centered, and to more fully step into our missions to help create a better world. One of the most important elements is that we do this away from the public eye, sans fans and critics alike, so we can keep the energy very positive and loving but also honest and real. For me, going to TLC is like taking a weeklong spa day for the heart and spirit. Immersion Imagine spending a week with 80 transformational leaders, many of whom are the top experts in the world at what they do. Some are fabulously wealthy. Some are deeply insightful and brilliant. Some are very loving and compassionate. Some are incredibly fearless. You can informally walk up and ask anyone there about anything, and they’re happy to share their best ideas as if they’re your brothers and sisters. Some of them have been doing this kind of work longer than I’ve been alive. They know all the best methods and processes and whatnots. They know the places where fear, denial, and falsehood love to hide. Being at TLC is like going to a place where everyone has X-ray vision, so by default you end up walking around naked the whole time, even if you think you’re wearing clothes. If you speak something other than your truth, you’ll get called on your B.S. But you don’t get judged for your foibles. You just receive more unconditional love and acceptance. The focus there isn’t on fixing ourselves or transcending what we believe to be our faults. It’s about integrating the various parts of ourselves into a complete whole. The atmosphere at TLC is similar to what you’d find at CGW (especially on the third day of CGW). My ego would just love to credit the brilliant CGW content, but the content is only part of it, and arguably not the most important part. Many of the shifts have more to do with being around the energy of so many conscious people. It can be difficult to define or explain those shifts afterwards, but they’re extremely potent, and they can send one’s life spiraling off in new directions. Every CGW and TLC have had that kind of effect on me. In such an environment, much of the B.S. we tell ourselves simply burns away, and new truths finally have the chance to be seen and heard. For example, when people at CGW see how their lives could be filled with so much more love and connection, they cannot return to doing soulless work on Monday morning; the utter foolishness of that approach is too obvious to ignore, so they quit that same week and quickly transition to a path with a heart. They finally see that on the heartless path, they were already living without that which mattered most to them, so there was nothing more to lose… and everything to gain… by letting it go. TLC has a similar effect on me. It’s not really the content we share that’s the biggest element. The content does help, but the bigger shifts have to do with being bathed for several days in the positive energy we create. We could gather with no formal plan or structure, and it would still have a transformational effect. Great content just makes it that much better. Many TLC members recognize that working on ourselves and working to create a better world are inherently the same thing. Healing the world is a journey of self-healing. We are teachers because we are lifelong students, and teaching is one of the fastest (and most intense) ways to learn. That’s why I wrote 1000 articles and a book… and why I do workshops that turn out differently each time. By giving thoughts and ideas form and expression, I deepen my understanding of them. If I knew how an article was going to turn out before I started writing it, I wouldn’t need to write it. Everything I share and express is a growth experience for me; otherwise I delete it before it’s done and never post it. Intensity Every time I’ve gone to TLC, I’ve returned home feeling like a different person. At times the TLC experience can be like drinking from a fire hose. Occasionally I have to spend some time walking around by myself just to internally process the shifts that occur. Before attending TLC this time, I was already in a really good place. I’d just finished an amazing Conscious Growth Workshop a couple days earlier, so I was still enjoying that post-workshop high, feeling incredibly grateful and happy and super motivated. The first couple days of TLC were a bit of a letdown, energetically speaking. It usually takes a day or two for the energy at TLC to amp up, just as it does at CGW. It was great to reconnect with so many friends, but on Day 2 I started feeling bored and listless. By the next morning, I was actually feeling grumpy, and when I turned within to ask myself why, I realized that part of me felt that I really didn’t need a “vacation” right now and that I’d much rather be getting some real work done. Going to this particular TLC seemed like an unnecessary indulgence when I had so many other things to attend to, both personally and professionally. At this particular time, I didn’t want to be on a retreat. I wanted to be advancing. I was already renewed and energized when I got there. But I still had several more days there, and I didn’t want to be fighting with myself the whole time, so I acknowledged and accepted that feeling and the message behind it, applying a process that was a blend of Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind method and Hale Dwoskin’s Sedona Method. (Both of them were at TLC.) This process took only minutes. In fact, I did it while taking a shower, so it didn’t even take any extra time. Almost immediately, the grumpiness and boredom vanished, their message received. By realizing that I wanted to be active and productive rather than taking time off and restoring myself, I shifted my focus and saw that I could use TLC to get some actual work done and to make it a productive experience, instead of treating it like an unwanted break. This might seem obvious in retrospect, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time. With a better attitude, I launched into the third day of TLC with a lot more motivation and passion, and this energy carried me through the rest of the week. I spent many hours connecting with people I wanted to get to know better, and I deepened some existing connections. I picked up ideas for improving CGW, and I got advice for growing my business. I found several new potential joint-venture partners. I learned new methods and techniques. I also shared a lot of advice to help others, especially with blogging and traffic building. And I recorded a few videos to help members promote their work. And I had a lot more fun since I was congruent about wanting to be there. I took the exercises seriously and worked a lot on myself too. It’s too much to explain in a blog post though. (That’s a B.S. excuse, but I’m hoping you’ll buy it for now while I do more inner work on it and build up the courage to share it.) Suffice it to say that I went through some huge emotional shifts related to my past. One morning I woke up in my hotel room, and all I could do was cry for about an hour, struck by some realizations I’d been repressing for most of my life. Pretty frakkin’ painful stuff. I’m still not sure I’m ready to deal with it yet, but I have to practice what I preach. Sometimes it annoys me that I teach courage. There was another attendee who arrived later in the week, and her needs were practically the opposite of mine. She’d been on the road for a few weeks, and she was feeling worn down. She came to TLC for renewal and rejuvenation, and she got that. Authenticity One thing I love about TLC is that the people there are very authentic. One thing I hate about TLC is that the people there are very authentic. (That isn’t a typo.) As much as you might think you’d love it, hanging out with dozens of highly authentic people for a week is tougher than it sounds. That kind of experience shines a light on your own authenticity issues. You may even come to see that the pursuit of authenticity is yet another form of self-delusion. Many people have asked me how on earth I can publicly share certain aspects of my life on my blog, such as I wrote about in the article Share Your Shame. The underlying assumption is that if people knew the real truth about you, you could be socially ostracized. Your friends and family would shun you. You’d be cut off, abandoned, and tossed aside for being unworthy. In the end you would receive less love. But the truth is that the exact opposite happens. Initially there may be some tumult, but the long-term outlook is extremely positive. When you learn to love and accept all parts of yourself, especially the parts you’d rather keep hidden, then you attract a lot more authentic love and support from others. Instead of being shunned, you’re welcomed and invited and included. We all have these dark parts of ourselves that are difficult to accept and integrate. But your secrets aren’t secret at all. People can see right through you. They just aren’t telling you about it because they can see you aren’t ready to deal with it yet. Your inner shame is far from unique. We all have similar issues. Only the details are different. My friends in TLC have plenty of dirt on me. It’s not like it’s a secret. They know I separated from my wife last year, that I went bankrupt, that I used to be a thief, that I’m into D/s, and so on. And it just isn’t a big deal. In fact, all that stuff is more like a badge of honor. During the awards ceremony one night, I joked that I was hoping to qualify for the most recent divorce award. The truth, however, is that my issues just aren’t particularly striking or unique. It’s practically a truism that the people there have had to go through some serious challenges at one point or another, such as divorce, loss, addiction, financial scarcity, abuse, and more. It’s a pretty common pattern that a TLC member’s life has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, as opposed to smooth sailing all the way. The stuff that really tugs at my heart is when these loving and compassionate people have to deal with things like the death of a spouse or a drug-addicted child. And they ultimately process those experiences in ways that allow them to become even more loving and compassionate, even though they have every reason to justify becoming resentful and bitter. People sometimes ask me, “Is so and so the real deal?” And having met these people behind the scenes, I have to say yes again and again. These people pour their hearts and souls into their missions, and I respect and love them immensely. I feel honored to be included in this group. The Challenge of Being in the Public Eye One of the reasons TLC is so important is that doing this kind of work can be very challenging, especially when you’re in the public eye. The exposure to criticism can be brutal at times. It’s really helpful to have a group of supportive friends you can turn to, get bandaged up, and go back out into the world again. These people aren’t superheroes. They’re very much human. When they take a beating, it hurts them and slows them down, but in the long run, it also makes them stronger and more compassionate. I can’t say I’ve encountered anyone there who does this kind of work for the money. If such a person exists, I’ve never met him/her. Even the ones who teach about wealth and abundance seem to be primarily motivated by the love of the work and the desire to contribute. The truth is that it breaks their hearts when they see people suffering from lack, and they want to do what they can to alleviate suffering and spread more happiness and abundance. I think if you got to know the people behind the scenes as I have, you’d feel immensely grateful for them. Even when they’re dealing with major personal and professional challenges, they just keep giving, giving, giving. Maybe their contributions aren’t perfect, but they do the best they can. What you may not realize is that these people question everything they do. They question whether they should use certain Internet marketing techniques, or if the methods would be manipulative. They wonder about how they can help more people. They wonder how they can be more impactful on each person they connect with. They wonder about what to work on in themselves so that they may become better teachers. For all the criticism they receive, they are their own harshest critics. If their critics actually knew the personal standards these people hold themselves to, it would make those critics cringe and say, “Whoa… go easy on yourself.” Of course this is something I had to learn as well. I spent a good 10 minutes today casting unconditional love at Tony Robbins. He isn’t a TLC member, but it became clear to me that he too must be doing the best he can. Inspiration I realize this is a rambling article, perhaps a bit too stream of consciousness, so let me get to the wrap up portion. This was a mind-blowing week, but one element in particular was especially mind-blowing. About halfway through the week, Joe Vitale gave a talk on inspiration. I first met Joe and his wife Nerissa at the July TLC in 2009, so I’ve known them for about a year, but this is the first time I saw Joe speak. He was simply brilliant. Joe and I have something in common in that we are both content machines. He’s authored 52 books, for instance, and he’s constantly giving birth to new products. I haven’t been working in this field as long as he has, but I’ve authored a respectable 1000 articles in less than 6 years, which is enough to fill about 25 books… not to mention getting one actual book published as well. Joe explained how he creates his content, which I recognized as essentially the same approach I use. When an inspired idea comes to me, I act on it almost immediately. I know that I have about a 48-hour window — maximum — to write and publish that idea. Otherwise the energy is gone. Trying to create that same content later is possible, but it’s much more difficult and takes a lot longer. The experience is like catching a wave. I might wake up one morning and get an idea for a new article, and I know I need to grab my laptop immediately and let it flow through me. In those situations I can write nearly as fast as I can type, without having to pause to think. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s a real wave and what’s just a minor swell, but this calibration gets better with practice. When you catch the wave and stick with it, it has sufficient energy to carry you all the way through to completion of whatever it is you’re creating, as long as you’re willing to put most other things aside and stick to that wave like glue. Again, it’s like surfing. If you stick with the wave, you can ride it all the way to shore. Well… as Joe continued to speak, I realized that he does something I don’t. He uses this same method for acting on business ideas in general. I haven’t been doing that. I only use it for content creation, and the vast majority of that content has been in the form of free articles. Joe, however, also uses this method to conjure up new products, workshops, events, business deals, and so on. That’s when I gave myself a mental slap upside the head. Duh. Duh. Duh. For some stupid reason, I’ve been managing the rest of my business in a much more left-brained fashion. I get inspired business ideas all the time, but instead of acting on them immediately and riding them like the time-sensitive waves they are, I toss the ideas into my inbox for later processing. Then perhaps a week later, I’ll consider each idea carefully and integrate it into my to-do list for future action. But by and large, by the time I get around to them, if ever, that wave of energy has long since dissipated, and trying to start those projects is like pulling teeth. Consequently, the content creation aspect of my business has always been super easy for me. I know I’ll never run out of ideas there. But the rest of my business changes much more slowly. My website, for instance, has essentially the same design as it did 5 years ago. Very quickly I got the idea to do a 30-day trial of acting on inspiration almost immediately whenever it hits me, whether it has to do with content creation or some other idea. I decided that I wasn’t going to wait, so I kicked it off while I was still at TLC. To be honest, I really don’t care about the exactitude of the 30-day stretch for this trial, but today was Day 4. This is new territory for me, so it may entail some hidden risks. I know it works on the content side, but I can’t predict what will happen as I apply this to the rest of my life. In order to begin this trial, I had to remind myself that worst case, I probably can’t screw things up so badly in 30 days that I can’t repair the damage later if necessary. Because the potential benefits are so great, I’m willing to take this risk. 30 Days of Inspired Action The same day I heard Joe’s talk (Friday), I was in my hotel room at around 8pm, and a stray thought popped into my head. I got the idea to put up an eBay auction for a 60-minute consultation, as I shared in my previous blog post. I began to ponder it, and my initial inclination was to jot down the idea and then consider it when I got back to Vegas the following week. Then I stopped and smacked myself and said, “No… you have to catch this wave now and see where it takes you. Don’t just let it pass.” So I dove into immediate action. I wasn’t sure how far I’d get with it, but I started by checking to see if my old eBay account was still good. I hadn’t logged in since March 2001, but the account was still there. I haven’t used eBay in a very long time, so it took me about 30 minutes to create the listing and make it live, something an experienced eBayer could have done in 10 minutes or less I’m sure. Then I spent another 20 minutes writing a quickie blog post about it, and that also fed to myTwitter and Facebook pages. Imagine that. Less than an hour after getting the idea, it was already up and running. If I’d written it down instead of acting upon it immediately, I could have wasted that much time just pondering whether or not I should do it. A few minutes later, I was Skyping with Erin, and I told her what I’d done. She loved it. Then she checked on the auction and told me I was already up to $51. I said, “You’re joking… it hasn’t even been up for 10 minutes yet.” But she wasn’t joking. By the time I went to bed, it had reached $132.50. The next morning it was at $425. Today it hit $1000, and there are still 3 days left till the auction closes. I can’t predict where it will end up. If you want to see what it’s up to now, you can visit the auction page. The auction officially ends on Friday, July 30, at 9:28:29 PDT. The next day I told Joe about this, and he loved it. I told other TLC members about it as well, and throughout the rest of the conference, people would check in with me to see how the auction was going. I think they were just as curious about it as I was. One morning at breakfast a fellow TLCer asked me, “So what are you up to?” I started telling him what I’d been doing, and he said, “No no… I mean, ‘What are the bids up to?’” Some people have asked me what this means. Does it mean I’m going to be doing paid coaching and consulting? Does it mean I’ll do more eBay auctions? Honestly I have no idea. It’s not part of some grand plan. This was pure impulse. I’m simply going with the flow of an inspired idea and riding it to shore. I can’t say when the next wave will arrive or what it will look like. This wasn’t even an idea with an intention behind it. I wasn’t intending to make money with it or anything. The motivation for this idea was sheer curiosity. I want to see what happens when I act on these sorts of ideas immediately, without trying to analyze or understand them first. In order to be true to this 30-day trial, I can’t think and plan ahead. If I schedule a bunch of stuff in advance or try to plan things out, I’m at risk of not being able to ride those waves of inspiration when they come. One thing I find very interesting is that from today through the rest of the trial, my calendar is completely blank. I don’t have a single scheduled appointment at all — no interviews, no meetings, nothing. There are still some events coming up, including my son’s 7th birthday and some potential travel, but none of it is in the form of a fixed appointment, at least not yet. I did have an appointment to meet with someone Wednesday morning, but it got bumped to today, so it’s already done with. And I would definitely say it was an inspired meeting. I’m used to having a flexible schedule, but it’s pretty unusual to have such a huge block of time with no scheduled appointments. I should at least have a radio interview in there… or a workshop… or a scheduled phone call… or something. But no — it’s totally blank. Is that just a coincidence? I can’t say. But this is an ideal time for me to conduct such an experiment. I could even extend it well beyond the 30 days, especially since the next CGW is still 3+ months away. A Sample Day As a typical example of how things are going with this trial so far, I’ll share how today went. I woke up at 5:30 this morning, and immediately my mind was racing with thoughts of writing this blog post. I didn’t originally plan to blog about my TLC trip, but the inspiration was there, so I had to ride it. I went straight to my computer and started writing, which was effortless. After 3 hours of writing, which passed in a blink, the phone rings. It’s Erin inviting me to go to breakfast with her. I realize that I’m starving and could use a break anyway, so I accept. While at breakfast, I got some inspired ideas related to our separation. Instead of pondering them and hashing them out a bit more, I shared them with her immediately. That turned out to be a wonderful thing, as it sent us down a path towards resolving some tricky practical aspects of our separation. Erin and I both leave happier, with a commitment to taking some specific actions that should make life easier for us both. From breakfast I drove to Starbucks to meet with a British military intelligence officer. I didn’t have any particular need to meet with him other than the fact that he expressed interest, and my intuition gave it a green light. We ended up having a fascinating 2.5-hour conversation. I learned a lot that I didn’t know about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After a couple hours, the thought occurred that many of my readers might be interested in hearing what he had to say, so I asked him if he’d be up for an interview. He agreed. It turned out that doing an interview would be a win for him too because he’s about to enter a phase of writing and publishing his own ideas, including starting a blog. By the time I got home, he’d already sent me some article links that we discussed. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but I quickly wrote up a forum post to keep riding that wave. I wanted to see if there was interest in such an interview and if people had specific questions. It looks like there is indeed interest, so I’ll compile some questions and send them off to him when I feel inspired to do so. I wasn’t feeling any major waves of inspiration this afternoon, so I ate lunch, processed some communication, and handled a few minor tasks while watching the movie Pulp Fiction. Lately I’ve been getting a number of synchronicities associated with the filmInception, which I haven’t seen yet. I thought maybe I’d go see it this evening, and I saw there was a 7pm show at the local IMAX, so I “planned” to hit that show. Whoops. But around 6:30pm when I was thinking about leaving, I realized that I just didn’t feel inspired to go see the movie, at least not yet. I was starting to feel a mild pull in a different direction — oh yeah, I still wanted to finish up and post the blog entry I’d started in the morning. So I decided to skip the movie and go with the writing wave. You’re reading the result. While I’m writing the final section of this post, I hear a text message come through on my cell phone, but I don’t check it till now. It’s Rachelle asking about Skyping tonight. That feels right, so as soon as I’ve posted this article, I’ll flow into that next. I haven’t had dinner yet, but I notice I’m not hungry. There’s another IMAX showing of Inception at 10:20pm. If I go to that show, I’ll still have 30 minutes to Skype, but it would keep me up till 1am. I can’t predict whether I’ll see it tonight or not. I’ll have to wait and see if the energy of the moment is pulling me in that direction. As I was typing the last sentence, my laptop tells me I’ve got 9 minutes of battery power left. Time to go plug it in. This is going to be a very unusual 30 days. I have no idea how it will turn out. I can’t even say how much I’ll blog about it along the way — that too will depend on whether I’m inspired to do so. In any event, you may see some rather erratic behavior from me in the coming weeks. I’m extending this trial across all areas of my life, both personally and professionally. It’s a 24/7 commitment with no breaks except those that occur naturally as the inspirational waves ebb. I’m excited about this. It’s going to be an interesting 30 days to be sure. Wish me luck! 
    749 Posted by UniqueThis
  • I spent last week in Santa Fe, NM for a Transformational Leadership Council retreat. These TLC retreats are held twice a year, and this is the third one I’ve attended. It was also the largest, with about 80 members (out of a total of 114) present. The atmosphere at TLC is like a big family reunion. It’s a place where people who are doing transformational work can come together to help and support each other both personally and professionally. Sometimes business deals happen, but the main focus isn’t transactional. It’s about caring for each other, supporting each other, and helping each other grow and improve. We meditate together each day, we sing, we dance, and we do fun and sometimes silly activities. We share many laughs and hundreds of hugs. We help support those who are going through rough times. We share our best ideas on how to accelerate the healing of this planet. We also pool our knowledge and skills to help each other in a spirit of cooperation. For example, at the January TLC retreat in Puerto Rico, I did a presentation on building web traffic. It was rewarding to see that six months later, a number of TLC members had already applied those ideas to reach more people with their positive messages. On top of that, we do a lot of deep introspection. We push ourselves to grow as human beings, to become more aware and to recognize new truths, to become stronger and more courageous, to connect more deeply and to become more heart-centered, and to more fully step into our missions to help create a better world. One of the most important elements is that we do this away from the public eye, sans fans and critics alike, so we can keep the energy very positive and loving but also honest and real. For me, going to TLC is like taking a weeklong spa day for the heart and spirit. Immersion Imagine spending a week with 80 transformational leaders, many of whom are the top experts in the world at what they do. Some are fabulously wealthy. Some are deeply insightful and brilliant. Some are very loving and compassionate. Some are incredibly fearless. You can informally walk up and ask anyone there about anything, and they’re happy to share their best ideas as if they’re your brothers and sisters. Some of them have been doing this kind of work longer than I’ve been alive. They know all the best methods and processes and whatnots. They know the places where fear, denial, and falsehood love to hide. Being at TLC is like going to a place where everyone has X-ray vision, so by default you end up walking around naked the whole time, even if you think you’re wearing clothes. If you speak something other than your truth, you’ll get called on your B.S. But you don’t get judged for your foibles. You just receive more unconditional love and acceptance. The focus there isn’t on fixing ourselves or transcending what we believe to be our faults. It’s about integrating the various parts of ourselves into a complete whole. The atmosphere at TLC is similar to what you’d find at CGW (especially on the third day of CGW). My ego would just love to credit the brilliant CGW content, but the content is only part of it, and arguably not the most important part. Many of the shifts have more to do with being around the energy of so many conscious people. It can be difficult to define or explain those shifts afterwards, but they’re extremely potent, and they can send one’s life spiraling off in new directions. Every CGW and TLC have had that kind of effect on me. In such an environment, much of the B.S. we tell ourselves simply burns away, and new truths finally have the chance to be seen and heard. For example, when people at CGW see how their lives could be filled with so much more love and connection, they cannot return to doing soulless work on Monday morning; the utter foolishness of that approach is too obvious to ignore, so they quit that same week and quickly transition to a path with a heart. They finally see that on the heartless path, they were already living without that which mattered most to them, so there was nothing more to lose… and everything to gain… by letting it go. TLC has a similar effect on me. It’s not really the content we share that’s the biggest element. The content does help, but the bigger shifts have to do with being bathed for several days in the positive energy we create. We could gather with no formal plan or structure, and it would still have a transformational effect. Great content just makes it that much better. Many TLC members recognize that working on ourselves and working to create a better world are inherently the same thing. Healing the world is a journey of self-healing. We are teachers because we are lifelong students, and teaching is one of the fastest (and most intense) ways to learn. That’s why I wrote 1000 articles and a book… and why I do workshops that turn out differently each time. By giving thoughts and ideas form and expression, I deepen my understanding of them. If I knew how an article was going to turn out before I started writing it, I wouldn’t need to write it. Everything I share and express is a growth experience for me; otherwise I delete it before it’s done and never post it. Intensity Every time I’ve gone to TLC, I’ve returned home feeling like a different person. At times the TLC experience can be like drinking from a fire hose. Occasionally I have to spend some time walking around by myself just to internally process the shifts that occur. Before attending TLC this time, I was already in a really good place. I’d just finished an amazing Conscious Growth Workshop a couple days earlier, so I was still enjoying that post-workshop high, feeling incredibly grateful and happy and super motivated. The first couple days of TLC were a bit of a letdown, energetically speaking. It usually takes a day or two for the energy at TLC to amp up, just as it does at CGW. It was great to reconnect with so many friends, but on Day 2 I started feeling bored and listless. By the next morning, I was actually feeling grumpy, and when I turned within to ask myself why, I realized that part of me felt that I really didn’t need a “vacation” right now and that I’d much rather be getting some real work done. Going to this particular TLC seemed like an unnecessary indulgence when I had so many other things to attend to, both personally and professionally. At this particular time, I didn’t want to be on a retreat. I wanted to be advancing. I was already renewed and energized when I got there. But I still had several more days there, and I didn’t want to be fighting with myself the whole time, so I acknowledged and accepted that feeling and the message behind it, applying a process that was a blend of Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind method and Hale Dwoskin’s Sedona Method. (Both of them were at TLC.) This process took only minutes. In fact, I did it while taking a shower, so it didn’t even take any extra time. Almost immediately, the grumpiness and boredom vanished, their message received. By realizing that I wanted to be active and productive rather than taking time off and restoring myself, I shifted my focus and saw that I could use TLC to get some actual work done and to make it a productive experience, instead of treating it like an unwanted break. This might seem obvious in retrospect, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time. With a better attitude, I launched into the third day of TLC with a lot more motivation and passion, and this energy carried me through the rest of the week. I spent many hours connecting with people I wanted to get to know better, and I deepened some existing connections. I picked up ideas for improving CGW, and I got advice for growing my business. I found several new potential joint-venture partners. I learned new methods and techniques. I also shared a lot of advice to help others, especially with blogging and traffic building. And I recorded a few videos to help members promote their work. And I had a lot more fun since I was congruent about wanting to be there. I took the exercises seriously and worked a lot on myself too. It’s too much to explain in a blog post though. (That’s a B.S. excuse, but I’m hoping you’ll buy it for now while I do more inner work on it and build up the courage to share it.) Suffice it to say that I went through some huge emotional shifts related to my past. One morning I woke up in my hotel room, and all I could do was cry for about an hour, struck by some realizations I’d been repressing for most of my life. Pretty frakkin’ painful stuff. I’m still not sure I’m ready to deal with it yet, but I have to practice what I preach. Sometimes it annoys me that I teach courage. There was another attendee who arrived later in the week, and her needs were practically the opposite of mine. She’d been on the road for a few weeks, and she was feeling worn down. She came to TLC for renewal and rejuvenation, and she got that. Authenticity One thing I love about TLC is that the people there are very authentic. One thing I hate about TLC is that the people there are very authentic. (That isn’t a typo.) As much as you might think you’d love it, hanging out with dozens of highly authentic people for a week is tougher than it sounds. That kind of experience shines a light on your own authenticity issues. You may even come to see that the pursuit of authenticity is yet another form of self-delusion. Many people have asked me how on earth I can publicly share certain aspects of my life on my blog, such as I wrote about in the article Share Your Shame. The underlying assumption is that if people knew the real truth about you, you could be socially ostracized. Your friends and family would shun you. You’d be cut off, abandoned, and tossed aside for being unworthy. In the end you would receive less love. But the truth is that the exact opposite happens. Initially there may be some tumult, but the long-term outlook is extremely positive. When you learn to love and accept all parts of yourself, especially the parts you’d rather keep hidden, then you attract a lot more authentic love and support from others. Instead of being shunned, you’re welcomed and invited and included. We all have these dark parts of ourselves that are difficult to accept and integrate. But your secrets aren’t secret at all. People can see right through you. They just aren’t telling you about it because they can see you aren’t ready to deal with it yet. Your inner shame is far from unique. We all have similar issues. Only the details are different. My friends in TLC have plenty of dirt on me. It’s not like it’s a secret. They know I separated from my wife last year, that I went bankrupt, that I used to be a thief, that I’m into D/s, and so on. And it just isn’t a big deal. In fact, all that stuff is more like a badge of honor. During the awards ceremony one night, I joked that I was hoping to qualify for the most recent divorce award. The truth, however, is that my issues just aren’t particularly striking or unique. It’s practically a truism that the people there have had to go through some serious challenges at one point or another, such as divorce, loss, addiction, financial scarcity, abuse, and more. It’s a pretty common pattern that a TLC member’s life has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, as opposed to smooth sailing all the way. The stuff that really tugs at my heart is when these loving and compassionate people have to deal with things like the death of a spouse or a drug-addicted child. And they ultimately process those experiences in ways that allow them to become even more loving and compassionate, even though they have every reason to justify becoming resentful and bitter. People sometimes ask me, “Is so and so the real deal?” And having met these people behind the scenes, I have to say yes again and again. These people pour their hearts and souls into their missions, and I respect and love them immensely. I feel honored to be included in this group. The Challenge of Being in the Public Eye One of the reasons TLC is so important is that doing this kind of work can be very challenging, especially when you’re in the public eye. The exposure to criticism can be brutal at times. It’s really helpful to have a group of supportive friends you can turn to, get bandaged up, and go back out into the world again. These people aren’t superheroes. They’re very much human. When they take a beating, it hurts them and slows them down, but in the long run, it also makes them stronger and more compassionate. I can’t say I’ve encountered anyone there who does this kind of work for the money. If such a person exists, I’ve never met him/her. Even the ones who teach about wealth and abundance seem to be primarily motivated by the love of the work and the desire to contribute. The truth is that it breaks their hearts when they see people suffering from lack, and they want to do what they can to alleviate suffering and spread more happiness and abundance. I think if you got to know the people behind the scenes as I have, you’d feel immensely grateful for them. Even when they’re dealing with major personal and professional challenges, they just keep giving, giving, giving. Maybe their contributions aren’t perfect, but they do the best they can. What you may not realize is that these people question everything they do. They question whether they should use certain Internet marketing techniques, or if the methods would be manipulative. They wonder about how they can help more people. They wonder how they can be more impactful on each person they connect with. They wonder about what to work on in themselves so that they may become better teachers. For all the criticism they receive, they are their own harshest critics. If their critics actually knew the personal standards these people hold themselves to, it would make those critics cringe and say, “Whoa… go easy on yourself.” Of course this is something I had to learn as well. I spent a good 10 minutes today casting unconditional love at Tony Robbins. He isn’t a TLC member, but it became clear to me that he too must be doing the best he can. Inspiration I realize this is a rambling article, perhaps a bit too stream of consciousness, so let me get to the wrap up portion. This was a mind-blowing week, but one element in particular was especially mind-blowing. About halfway through the week, Joe Vitale gave a talk on inspiration. I first met Joe and his wife Nerissa at the July TLC in 2009, so I’ve known them for about a year, but this is the first time I saw Joe speak. He was simply brilliant. Joe and I have something in common in that we are both content machines. He’s authored 52 books, for instance, and he’s constantly giving birth to new products. I haven’t been working in this field as long as he has, but I’ve authored a respectable 1000 articles in less than 6 years, which is enough to fill about 25 books… not to mention getting one actual book published as well. Joe explained how he creates his content, which I recognized as essentially the same approach I use. When an inspired idea comes to me, I act on it almost immediately. I know that I have about a 48-hour window — maximum — to write and publish that idea. Otherwise the energy is gone. Trying to create that same content later is possible, but it’s much more difficult and takes a lot longer. The experience is like catching a wave. I might wake up one morning and get an idea for a new article, and I know I need to grab my laptop immediately and let it flow through me. In those situations I can write nearly as fast as I can type, without having to pause to think. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s a real wave and what’s just a minor swell, but this calibration gets better with practice. When you catch the wave and stick with it, it has sufficient energy to carry you all the way through to completion of whatever it is you’re creating, as long as you’re willing to put most other things aside and stick to that wave like glue. Again, it’s like surfing. If you stick with the wave, you can ride it all the way to shore. Well… as Joe continued to speak, I realized that he does something I don’t. He uses this same method for acting on business ideas in general. I haven’t been doing that. I only use it for content creation, and the vast majority of that content has been in the form of free articles. Joe, however, also uses this method to conjure up new products, workshops, events, business deals, and so on. That’s when I gave myself a mental slap upside the head. Duh. Duh. Duh. For some stupid reason, I’ve been managing the rest of my business in a much more left-brained fashion. I get inspired business ideas all the time, but instead of acting on them immediately and riding them like the time-sensitive waves they are, I toss the ideas into my inbox for later processing. Then perhaps a week later, I’ll consider each idea carefully and integrate it into my to-do list for future action. But by and large, by the time I get around to them, if ever, that wave of energy has long since dissipated, and trying to start those projects is like pulling teeth. Consequently, the content creation aspect of my business has always been super easy for me. I know I’ll never run out of ideas there. But the rest of my business changes much more slowly. My website, for instance, has essentially the same design as it did 5 years ago. Very quickly I got the idea to do a 30-day trial of acting on inspiration almost immediately whenever it hits me, whether it has to do with content creation or some other idea. I decided that I wasn’t going to wait, so I kicked it off while I was still at TLC. To be honest, I really don’t care about the exactitude of the 30-day stretch for this trial, but today was Day 4. This is new territory for me, so it may entail some hidden risks. I know it works on the content side, but I can’t predict what will happen as I apply this to the rest of my life. In order to begin this trial, I had to remind myself that worst case, I probably can’t screw things up so badly in 30 days that I can’t repair the damage later if necessary. Because the potential benefits are so great, I’m willing to take this risk. 30 Days of Inspired Action The same day I heard Joe’s talk (Friday), I was in my hotel room at around 8pm, and a stray thought popped into my head. I got the idea to put up an eBay auction for a 60-minute consultation, as I shared in my previous blog post. I began to ponder it, and my initial inclination was to jot down the idea and then consider it when I got back to Vegas the following week. Then I stopped and smacked myself and said, “No… you have to catch this wave now and see where it takes you. Don’t just let it pass.” So I dove into immediate action. I wasn’t sure how far I’d get with it, but I started by checking to see if my old eBay account was still good. I hadn’t logged in since March 2001, but the account was still there. I haven’t used eBay in a very long time, so it took me about 30 minutes to create the listing and make it live, something an experienced eBayer could have done in 10 minutes or less I’m sure. Then I spent another 20 minutes writing a quickie blog post about it, and that also fed to myTwitter and Facebook pages. Imagine that. Less than an hour after getting the idea, it was already up and running. If I’d written it down instead of acting upon it immediately, I could have wasted that much time just pondering whether or not I should do it. A few minutes later, I was Skyping with Erin, and I told her what I’d done. She loved it. Then she checked on the auction and told me I was already up to $51. I said, “You’re joking… it hasn’t even been up for 10 minutes yet.” But she wasn’t joking. By the time I went to bed, it had reached $132.50. The next morning it was at $425. Today it hit $1000, and there are still 3 days left till the auction closes. I can’t predict where it will end up. If you want to see what it’s up to now, you can visit the auction page. The auction officially ends on Friday, July 30, at 9:28:29 PDT. The next day I told Joe about this, and he loved it. I told other TLC members about it as well, and throughout the rest of the conference, people would check in with me to see how the auction was going. I think they were just as curious about it as I was. One morning at breakfast a fellow TLCer asked me, “So what are you up to?” I started telling him what I’d been doing, and he said, “No no… I mean, ‘What are the bids up to?’” Some people have asked me what this means. Does it mean I’m going to be doing paid coaching and consulting? Does it mean I’ll do more eBay auctions? Honestly I have no idea. It’s not part of some grand plan. This was pure impulse. I’m simply going with the flow of an inspired idea and riding it to shore. I can’t say when the next wave will arrive or what it will look like. This wasn’t even an idea with an intention behind it. I wasn’t intending to make money with it or anything. The motivation for this idea was sheer curiosity. I want to see what happens when I act on these sorts of ideas immediately, without trying to analyze or understand them first. In order to be true to this 30-day trial, I can’t think and plan ahead. If I schedule a bunch of stuff in advance or try to plan things out, I’m at risk of not being able to ride those waves of inspiration when they come. One thing I find very interesting is that from today through the rest of the trial, my calendar is completely blank. I don’t have a sing