Relaxing in the Middle of the Storm

Do you ever have times when your stress level saps your health, your stamina, and your capacity to think?

When you are sick, your spouse is sick, your kids are sick, you are buried in work, your co-workers are buried in work, and everyone seems to need more and more and more of you? The demands on you exceed your bandwidth? And the people you normally ask for help are under more stress than you?

Have you had times when this has gone on for weeks? And on top of it, there is a death in the family or serious illness combined with a financial hardship? Then your car breaks down? Your basement leaks? A tree falls on your house?

What can you do? How can a person handle such stress?

Read this… and learn to relax in the middle of the storm. After all, the storm is your life right now and you created it. Live it.

Is Morality Relative?

Today I thought I’d question the very core of morality.

Bob Proctor’s presentation on the Science of Getting Rich is available on Google Video (Hat Tip to Lyman Reed).

One of the things he said struck me as highly controversial. At one point he said, “There is no right and wrong, there is only your perspective of what is right and wrong” and I thought… I bet he lost a lot of people right there… that’s what many people on the right would call moral relativism… the idea that there isn’t absolute right and wrong – only personal or cultural perspective.

Then I thought… wait a minute… this isn’t some Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal, Republican/Democrat, or Christian/Atheist debate.

For example, ask a Sierra Club member if it is wrong to pour toxic waste into a river. I’d guess they’d say yes. I would too. Ask an anti-war protestor if they think it is wrong to incinerate people with nuclear weapons. I’d guess they’d say yes. I would too.

So what does Bob Proctor mean?

Does he really mean it isn’t inherently wrong to poison our rivers or incinerate people?

Does he mean that it could be the right thing to do from a certain perspective?

I don’t think so… but…

People have done things like this…right? They must have had some justification…right?

Then I rewound the video and listened very closely to what Bob said…

He said there is no right and wrong there is only that which works – that which produces the desired results. Right and wrong is a perspective.

Ahh! Then it hit me. Bob isn’t saying that Hitler’s belief that non-German’s were subhuman and needed to wiped off the face of the Earth was right. He is saying Hitler believed he was absolutely right and so did many of his followers and that is why our point of view of right and wrong is relative.

Believing you are right does not make you right – it is only your perspective.

So how do we know what is right and wrong? We have to ask questions…

What kind of a world do we wish to create? How do we want to live from this day forward? What are we doing right now? What is working? What isn’t? What has worked in the past? What hasn’t?

This isn’t a debate about religion so don’t try to turn it into one.

We’ve seen people do heinous things in the name of God (The Spanish Inquisition and Extreme Islam). We also have seen people do heinous things in the name of Atheism (Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot – actually some say Pol Pot was a Buddhist). But they all had one thing in common… they believed they were absolutely right.

Get it? Consider the possibility that you might be wrong. Think it through.

So I ask a few simple questions…

What is your perspective? Are you getting the results you desire? Be honest with yourself? What are the actual results of your actions?

Are your beliefs… right now… helping you create the world you want your children and grandchildren to inherit?

The Best of the Internet 8-19-07

A buttload of people criticized me for making this post. Most said that it was too difficult for people to create a business that generates 10-20K in annual revenue. Is it easy? No. Nothing worth doing is easy, but it can be done. My wife created a home based business with $500.00 cash, working less than 3 hours per day with two children under five at home. Today it generates well over six figures in revenue. Was it easy? No she had to WORK at it and be intelligent. Wendy at emoms wrote a great post with ideas for home based businesses you can run in your underwear. Don’t listen to the negatism (sic). You can do it, but ya gotta be smart and you are smart.

People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing
Well… they give me all kinds of warnings
to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m okay they look at me kinda strange
– John Lennon

You could spend 150K on an MBA and spend most of your life buried in debt or you could read this…

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving – Dale Carnegie. The positivity blog gives us more wisdom on criticism.

These books have been banned? The forbidden library. Are ideas dangerous? Yes they are. That’s why we need more ideas. Push past your fear and think!

What does it take to be rich? It isn’t what you’ve been told.

What is the value of a college degree? Find out at life reboot.

The negative nabobs of negatism(sic) piss me off. Reality is getting better everyday. The world is improving on every level. Even the data is on my side. The best of times are right now… open your eyes. It doesn’t get any better than RIGHT NOW! ACT NOW! Sorry, but I had to shout it out loud.

Time asks a great question… Are we failing our geniuses?

How to blog by a blogger that has created tremendous results.

What Do You Think This Blog Is About?

I am a regular reader of both Success from the Nest and Chris Garrett on New Media.

Chris started a meme and tagged Tony and 29 other of his top commenters. Like Tony, I don’t participate in many memes, simply because they distract me from doing what I want to do with this blog. But this meme is outstanding. Even though neither Chris nor Tony tagged me I am going to join the meme and pass it on.

Chris Garrett’s idea fit perfectly into my theme this week – seeing yourself as others see you. Do your readers see your blog the same way you see it?

1. What do you think my blog is about? – Leave an answer in the comments or on your blog.

2. Then ask your audience what they think your blog is about.

I will tag:
Lyman Reed
Rick Cockrum
Bloggrrll
Nneka

Chris Garrett’s original tags:

  1. mark
  2. Jen / domestika
  3. Jack
  4. Rajesh Shakya
  5. George
  6. Ashish Mohta
  7. Dawud Miracle
  8. Marc Chase
  9. Colbs
  10. Bes Zain
  11. Adam Snider
  12. Ashwin
  13. Roger Anderson
  14. Guilherme Zuhlke O’Connor
  15. Jan
  16. jhay
  17. Jermayn Parker
  18. Steve Smith
  19. raj
  20. Doug Karr
  21. Avinash
  22. Mark Silver
  23. Darren Cronian
  24. Chris Baskind
  25. Michael Martine
  26. John Wesley
  27. James
  28. Hsien Lei
  29. Tony D. Clark
  30. Liz Strauss

This post is the second installment of my Weekend Reader Appreciation series.

Are You Blind To Your Own Strengths?

In my last post I wrote about our blindness to our faults, weaknesses, and bad habits and how others can see them with clarity.

Today I will write about how we can be blind to our own strengths and natural talents.

If we clearly saw our own strengths and desires books about finding purpose and meaning in life would disappear.

You can know what you want, but you can fail to use your strengths to create what you want, because you can’t see your strengths. Sometimes you deny your strengths because you are afraid. Other times what you think are strengths, aren’t strengths but weaknesses.

Do you know a person who is wasting tremendous talent? You can see it, but they can’t. Sometimes you can see talent in another person and when you mention it to them, they will deny they have talent or start making excuses for wasting it. You can see they aren’t happy and you know they will be happier if they follow their talents, but they don’t.

Is it possible that others see you the same way? Do people (other than your mother) ever tell you that you are great at X and ask why you spend all your time doing Y. If so… how do you respond? Do you search your heart and ask yourself… Are they right? Can they see the bright shining star that you really are? Or are they trying to shape you into their vision of you? Can you tell the difference?

Do you fear success? Do you fear failure? I ask these questions because, in the past, my fear has kept me from doing the things I love, things I love that are valuable to others.

Are you afraid of applying your greatest strengths?

A personal story

Just after I turned thirteen I wanted to be an athlete. I was motivated to become an athlete for two reasons – I wanted respect and girls. But it didn’t work, the problem was clear – I didn’t have any athletic talent and I didn’t like athletics. I desired the value people gave successful athletes but I was never mentally engaged in athletics. During football games I day dreamed. During practice, I didn’t study the plays, instead I watched the girls play tennis. I couldn’t pay attention to the coach or the game. They weren’t as interesting as the girls bouncing up and down in little white dresses.

My parents, friends, and siblings saw that I had little athletic talent. They could see that I wasn’t harnessing my natural talents and innate desires which would have provided far more value and produced satisfying results.

At that time, I loved Dungeons and Dragons, Heavy Metal, computers, video games, science fiction, movies, music, and reading. In other words, I loved girl repellent. After the pain of failing at athletics, my desire to gain respect and meet girls remained so strong I found a different path – I became a rebellious, burnout, musician, and the nemesis of a few suburban fathers in Bloomington Minnesota. This worked far better because it played to my strengths, but it didn’t make the adults happier.

Don’t misunderstand… I’m not saying you shouldn’t work your weaknesses… I’m saying that you may find far better results sharpening your natural desires and talents to a razor sharp edge instead of trying to be somebody you aren’t.

Another personal story

For most of my career I’ve experienced intense fear when asked to white board; a fear more intense than a normal fear of public speaking. I do it, but it is uncomfortable.

A talented software developer (who I worked with for years) asked me to white board a concept and I told him that I hated white boarding. He asked why and I said, “I suck at drawing.” He said he loved my whiteboard diagrams of abstract systems. He said it was a strength. I still think he was full of shit. But what if he wasn’t?

I thought about what he said… and while I still don’t see white boarding as a strength… I searched inside myself and discovered the root of my fear of white boarding. As a school boy I daydreamed and doodled while the teacher lectured. When she noticed my disinterest and inattention, she ordered me to the front of the classroom and told me to summarize her message on the blackboard. She attempted to publicly humiliate and shame me into paying attention to her lectures. It didn’t work. Her tactics built feelings of resentment and alienation, but today I re-live the feelings of shame and humiliation when asked use the board. My developer friend may be right, white boarding may be a strength, but it doesn’t feel like a strength.

Do you have strengths which do not feel like strengths? Does your emotional response blind you? Can your emotional programming be beat?

Can you see your strengths? Do you apply them? Sharpen them? Capitalize on them?

Subscribe here to follow our ongoing discussions…

Can you See Yourself as Others Do?

In this post I will describe self-destructive things I have seen in other people, not to build myself up, but because I know I have these blind spots and you probably do too, and these stories may help us better understand each other. We all seem to have difficulty seeing our own weaknesses and destructive habits.

One of the most damaging weaknesses of the human species is our inability to see ourselves from another person’s subjective viewpoint, which makes it difficult to understand what is really going on.

All you can do is imagine how others see you. And as you imagine how others see you, it is easy for your imagination to develop damaging delusions. This apparent inability to see one’s self is a major contributor to a host of social ills. Let me give you some examples:

If you’ve ever dealt with a Type A alcoholic you know they have amazing powers of delusion (or denial). An alcoholic can lose his job, his money, his family, his friends, and his health, and still not be able to see that the problem is his own creation, while everyone around watches in utter horror and sadness as he destroys himself and everyone in his path. Everyone watching the alcoholic sees that he is harming himself, but the alcoholic sees others harming him. This can hold true for any addiction – gambling, sex, drugs, food, shopping – you name it. This immense power of delusion and denial is passed on in alcoholic families and manifests itself in family members that have never even had a drink.

The above is an extreme example, but I believe – to some degree – all of us suffer from the inability to see ourselves as we appear to others. We tend to dig in and defend our poor decisions, our self-imposed labels, our controversial opinions, and our nasty habits even when they are clearly causing us and others harm. Most of us feel that other people cause all the harm. But remember, other people feel the same way. Someone’s actions are causing it, right? So as long as we keep passing the buck nothing will change.

Earlier this week I was talking with an old friend who was recently fired from his job.

His story :
A co-worker challenged his authority and he had no choice but to defend himself or lose respect within the organization. Everyone took the co-workers side, conspiring against him and treating him unfairly until he was finally let go. He had no part in causing it; other people were to blame.

What I saw:
His slide started months ago when there was a conflict and he refused to back down and concede that the other person may be right. Since no one took his side, he began to believe everyone was gunning for him and he became defensive about everything. He lost all support from his co-workers and management. Eventually it was impossible to work with him and he was let go. He wasn’t fired because he was incompetent, he was the most qualified, responsible, and productive employee in the organization. He was fired because he became poisonous to the organization.

How he caused the problem…
When the conflict occurred, he drew a line – a black and white division. He then asked, are you with me or against me? Other people didn’t see it in black and white and no one joined him. Since he created an us vs. them conflict, he began to believe the people who didn’t join him, were against him, and developed a persecution complex. Based on his belief, he acted differently, becoming defensive, imagining slights, and he began to compare himself with everyone else. He noticed that people were treating him differently than they used to, which further entrenched his persecution complex. Eventually he became so defensive that he was impossible to work with and management let him go.

It isn’t just individual people that do this to themselves… families, departments, companies, and whole nations can dig themselves into a hole with black and white thinking.

I know another man whose spouse said, “I don’t understand why no one will talk to my husband anymore. He keeps losing his friends. Even his family seems to be avoiding him. I just don’t understand it.”

Both Christine and I know why. Everyone who knows this man knows why, except him and the people who are really close to him. They can’t see him the way everyone else does. He lectures everyone about controversial issues, painting them black and white, and then labels anyone who disagrees as an idiot. Who wants to listen to that for hours on end? Only an idiot.

But I know his viewpoint; I’m prone to the same behavior. I’m kinda doing it right now. He’s just trying to save us from our own stupid selves. If we understood, if he could reach us, if we’d accept his righteous indignation, then we’d see the light. He’s only trying to help.

But since he can’t see himself, he doesn’t understand that after a couple of hours of lecture, most people just want to run away and hide. No one likes to be lectured for hours about how screwed up the world is. It makes them feel depressed. Since no one wants to tell him what the problems is – his style, tone, subject matter, and opinions make people want to vomit, so people avoid him and he doesn’t understand why. He can’t see what he is doing to himself.

I used to work with a woman everyone avoided. She was always creating an “us vs. them” scenario.

Whenever someone tried to help her, she took it as an accusation of incompetence. She seemed to think that someone else’s intervention, good idea, or helpful hint threatened her, and she retaliated with accusations of persecution, unfairness, and conspiracy, so people quit helping. They began to avoid her. As she dug in deeper, she became more isolated which reinforced her fears that everyone was arrayed against her. So she tried to build allies, but no one wanted to go to war. They just wanted to get the job done. She found no allies for her ‘side’ and her area of influence withered while the rest of the company improved. Since she couldn’t see herself, she never understood that she was causing the problem. No one could tell her that she was the problem, because that would have only resulted in greater conflict and further defensiveness. Since the company leadership was unwilling to deal with her obstructionism, the rock stars left the company, and it never became the great company it could have become.

I know another person who has burned through six serious relationships, three of them marriages, and he doesn’t understand why he is so unlucky. But from the outside looking in it is obvious why he loses his relationships. He sets each one up exactly the same way and it unravels exactly the same way. I can see it and he can’t. But I certainly won’t tell him. Even if he asks, it is dangerous ground. It is dangerous to say – you’re doing this to yourself. You keep dating similar women and you have the same delusional expectations from them. The only way to change this pattern is to change yourself.

It seems so easy to see this in other people. You can watch them make foolish decision after foolish decision until they eventually crash and burn.

But how do we use our high powered perception of others and turn it inward, so we can see ourselves as we are and make substantial improvements to our lives? It seems like a much better use of our mental faculties, because I can’t change anyone of these folks I just described. I can only change myself. So how can I see myself? How am I sabotaging myself, my goals, my relationships, my family, my health, my environment? Where am I being unreasonable with others? Where have I thrown down the gauntlet and created a black and white conflict?

I’ll explore this more in upcoming posts. If you are interested please Subscribe to this feed.

The Best of the Internet 8-12-07

First a quick anecdote:

Today, as I was sitting in my armchair with my 2 boys watching Tiger Woods win his 13th major championship, the announcer said there were 4 things that made Tiger the greatest golfer in the game:

·The ability to control his thoughts

·Which in turn control his emotions

·His ability to stay in the now – the present

·And his complete acceptance of what happens – good or bad

I know it is cliché… but… golf is like life.
A great golfer once said, once you learn how to hold the club, the rest is all in your head.

*******************************************

This hilarious set of pictures about real estate illustrates how we can all look at the same thing and see something completely different.

Violent Acres posts a great tale of poverty and entrepreneurship. This post did quite well on Reddit and several of the comments questioned the veracity of her story because she frequently posts stories that seem far out. I don’t question it because if I posted some of the stories from my life (which I still may, on another blog) I’d get the same feedback. Some of the stories from my past are so insane and unbelievable I wonder at times if it was a dream. I’ll just say this… I’m reading Hells Angels by Hunter S. Thompson (it’s an amazing piece of writing, but not for the squeamish) and nothing in his book surprises or shocks me because I’ve seen similar things first hand – I plan to write a piece of fiction based on my past – fiction only to protect the guilty… and myself from retaliation.

I love this post about Alan Watts, South Park, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker by Tony D. Clark. All these guys are inspirations to me. Go Tony!

I hate to be negative here, but the real estate market is in for a big correction (it isn’t negative if you plan to be a buyer a year or two from now). Have you seen how many homes are for sale in L.A.? Look at this example from Redfin. $412,000 for 828 sq. feet in a working class neighborhood with hundreds more for sale in the midst of a credit crunch? Prices will fall. It’s economics 101.

TED is an amazing group. TED gives us 100 websites you should know and use.

Are you too old to become an entrepreneur? Does youth always win in the game of innovation? Marc Andreessen gives us some data and inspiration for those of us over 35.

If you are looking for a high paying job – six figures plus. The rules have changed. Yahoo finance has the some tips. Be specific. Use a sniper rifle not a gill net.

Weekend Reader Appreciation | Sound off!

Alex suggested that I ask the readers a question each weekend. He felt it could become quite popular. I love the idea, because I value every one of you and I want to learn more about you. I will post questions for readers each Friday. Feel free to post answers in the comments or on your blog. I will start this weekend by asking you two questions:

1. I love to read. It is my biggest obstacle to writing more. When I have some free time, I have a hard time deciding whether to read or write and usually end up reading. Right now I am reading Hell Angels – A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson and Dancing Barefoot by Wil Wheaton. What are you reading right now and what are your thoughts about the book and its author? Do you recommend it?

2. What do you think of the weekend reader appreciation idea? Any further suggestions?

Do You have the Courage to be Yourself?

Last weekend, I read Freedom, The Courage to be Yourself – Insight for a New Way of Living by Osho.*

Osho’s ideas provoked thoughts about limiting mindsets and where they come from:

Do you believe you are a belief system? Maybe more than one?

Maybe you believe you are a Poor, Democratic, Environmentalist, Buddhist, Feminist.

Maybe you believe you are a Middle Class, Republican, Capitalist, Christian, Conservative.

We carry far more labels than those, don’t we? And most of them are a ball and chain we apply to ourselves.

My eyes opened to the destructive nature of belief based labeling when I ran for the Minnesota State House of Representatives as a Republican. About 30% of the people I met despised me and another 30% loved me without knowing anything about me or what I planned to do if elected. They cared only about the R or D next to my name. It was easy to accept the unconditional praise (even though it should have scared the shit out of me), but the categorical rejection was frightening. Whenever someone instantly rejected me because of the label I had chosen, I thought… I bet this person would vote for me if he took the time to understand who I am and what I am trying to accomplish. But he couldn’t see who I was because the label invoked powerful negative emotions which prevented him from actually seeing and hearing me.

At our very core, we are not belief systems, we are distinct individuals governed by our own free will and we can choose to believe anything we wish.

You are not poor – you choose to believe you are poor.

You are not rich – you choose to believe you are rich.

You are not middle class – you choose to believe you are middle class.

You are not a Christian – you choose to believe what Christ taught.

You are not an Atheist – you choose to believe there is no God.

You are not a Democrat – you choose to agree with Democratic politicians and vote for them.

You are not a Republican – you choose to agree with Republican politicians and vote for them.

While you are not required to be consistent with labels, a lifetime of cultural programming, fear of hypocrisy, and a desire for group approval can enslave you in the name of consistency. These labels are not your identity because your identity is not a consistent set of beliefs. It is something that is constantly growing and changing, so struggling to be consistent stifles your growth.

You are not Black or White or Latino or Anglo or any other label. I defy anyone to show me where Black starts and White ends or where Anglo starts and Latino ends. You can choose to label yourself or to label others but they are only words that categorize or separate us. It is no different than if you lived on 1st Street and someone chooses to change the name to 1st Avenue. The road is still the same. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It is what it is and calling it a Street or an Avenue is a choice, but its individual essence defies all labels and its interconnectedness to all other things defies separateness.

I understand that labels can help us better understand the world at high levels of abstraction, but more often they are used to separate us, enslave us, or pit us against each other in bloody wars.

Sociologists may decide to label you this demographic or that demographic, but that decision has no bearing on what you really are, because what you really are defies all labels.

And you can choose to believe that too.

* Osho’s ideas are controversial and I do not agree with everything he’s said or done, especially some of the more radical stuff. But he has an amazing mind that challenges convention in a refreshing way. His ideas will make you think differently about the world.

The Best of the Internet 8-5-07

Hans Roslings 2006 talk at TED is one of the most eye opening inspiring messages I’ve seen. I’ve been telling people this for years. With a few exceptions, the world is becoming a better place every day. The sky isn’t falling and the things aren’t going to hell in a hand basket. Could things be better? Yes, and they are getting better and they will continue to get better. The shrinking of the globe via transportation, trade, and the internet is improving the lives of billions of people. Does globalization have problems? Yes, but it has far more opportunities to improve all of our lives. We certainly don’t want to go back to the world of the 1950s, when so many people lived in isolation from each other. Our natural desire is to expand and grow – globally.

I enjoy nostalgia. The Retroist has some good stuff. I really like the commercials he/she saved from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

I love to find tips on writing well. Here are 150 resources. I wish I had time to write more.

If you are a citizen journalist or just an amateur photographer, you probably know there are people that want to silence you. Don’t let them! Know your rights and carry a copy of them with you. You have as much right to photograph in public as anyone in the press.

American literacy rates are dismal. It isn’t because we spend too little on education; it’s because as a culture, we don’t value reading and writing. I don’t have to tell my readers this, but I will anyway… Do what you can support literacy. Read books, buy books, sell books, write books, and be part of the solution. We can turn this around one person at a time.

I’m not an anti-TV nazi, but I only watch about an hour a week. There are just so many other ways I like to spend my time. This post brings it home. The writer quit watching TV and started a business and funded his/her retirement.

Check out Liferemix.net. It’s a great new network of lifehack/productivity bloggers.

We all need to tell more stories. Do you agree?
If you are into personal development, the science of getting rich, and the law of attraction… Have I told you? You’ve got see Lyman Reed’s fantastic collection of free ebooks, audio programs, and videos at Creating a Better Life. He just added more this week.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Law of Attraction. I hear people call it pseudo science. Whatever… It isn’t magic, it is hard work to harness the law. Aaron Potts debunks some common misconceptions.

Commuting is one the most inefficient uses of resources in the world (energy, time, and lost life). There has to be better way. GenX Finance shows you what it could cost you.