Leader Wanted – Please Apply Within

If we have a shortage of one thing in America… it is leadership.

I just heard our President on the radio this morning attempting to scare the shit out of us. That isn’t leadership.

A real leader would say:

I’m not going to lie to you. I believe in you and I know you can handle the truth.

We may have some tough times ahead. As a nation, we’ve over spent and we’ve accumulated too much debt. Housing prices grew too high, too fast. Huge numbers of Americans gambled and speculated and lost. There is very little we can or should do to prop up these assets. Their peak value was phony.

The good news is, if we take our lumps now, this will be relatively short. About 6-18 months. We are innovative and hard working and we will make it through this. Once we have cleaned the sludge from our economic engine, we will emerge stronger than ever before.

We are not wimps. We are not cowards. We will not run from this challenge. We will not pay off our sick mortgages with another toxic mortgage. We will not dump this on our children and our grandchildren. We will face the consequences of our actions because we have the courage and the integrity to accept responsibility for our own greed.

The government in partnership with big finance created this problem. Many of us made the absurd assumption that real estate prices could not fall and we were wrong. I’m am going to do everything I can to insure this never happens again. I’ve released a 25 point plan to prevent the government from creating another economic bubble.

The government doesn’t make this economy run, you do. The answer to this problem doesn’t lie here in Washington. We created the problem and it is pure hubris to believe we can fix it with more debt. Don’t look to us for the answer, looking to us got you in this mess.

You, the American people are the answer to this problem. Get out there and work hard, innovate, compete, and create. BUT DO NOT TRY TO GAME THE SYSTEM! Create real value for each other and you will be just fine.

You will make it through this because you are resilient and for the first time in many generations we are going to face the situation we created.

The Best of the Net 9-28-08

Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths – Do you find your weaknesses difficult to overcome? The way we think about weakness fuels procrastination and fear. It keeps us from acting in our own best interest. In this post, Leo describes how you can turn your weaknesses into strengths by re-framing them. The first time I saw this method used, I was in a funk over not having a college degree, when I met a powerful CEO who didn’t have a degree. I asked him how he did it and he said, “not having a degree is one of my biggest strengths.” He went on to describe why he believed that. I haven’t thought about weaknesses the same since. Most limitations are self-imposed by your own lack of imagination.

Success is More Complex Than Failure – I’ve become a huge Hugh McLeod fan in the last month. This post demonstrates all the qualities I like about his thinking. Hugh cuts through all the popular psycho-bullshit in ways that reach out and slap you in the face. We all hear the mantra – ‘simplify’. If you’re a busy type A, maybe you do need to simplify. But if you struggle to get off your butt, you don’t need simplicity, you need a little complexity in your life. Here is the fact… success is complicated. It is complicated to win. Sure people who are great make it look easy, but it isn’t easy. It never was. Simple, cheap, fast success is a lie. The reason great software is simple isn’t because it was created by keeping things simple. The next time somebody tells you to ‘keep it simple’, tell them, ‘keeping things simple is complicated. Simple things are not created by simpletons, simple things are created by hiding complexity from simpletons.”

The 12 Biggest Personal Finance Mistakes – This is advice that few of us want to take. It requires honesty, vigilance, and self-discipline. But if you follow it, over the long run, you should overcome most financial pitfalls.

The Millionaire Quiz – Do you want to understand the millionaire mindset? This post will help.

Shiller on the Bailout – What amazed me about this video is how  Shiller has no valis reason to back this bailout. And he admits it! but still wants it! A 700 billion dollar crapshoot? Not even an educated guess, a wild one. Late in the interview he appears to say that he doesn’t like the bailout because he doesn’t understand how it could work, and then immediately says, “But it is better than doing nothing.” If he doesn’t
know what will help, and he doesn’t know what will hurt, he doesn’t know anything. Why doesn’t he just say that? The only people who say anything concrete are the Austrian Economists. At least they can articulate the problem, the solution, and the logic behind it.

The Speech Bush Should Have Given on the Bailout – The Last Psychiatrist is another site I’ve grown to love over the past few months. This post is indicative of the quality of the content. It’s honest and it’s intelligent and it will make you think.

Stephen King – Daily Writing Tips shares a few gems from Stephen King’s On Writing. I see Stephen King as the master of our time. He belongs in the same category as Twain and Hemingway, unfortunately he’ll never gain that level of respect because of his genre.

Is it Bad Behavior or ADHD?

Read this fabulous article on ADHD by Frances Childs. Should children be raised in a boundary free permissive environment? No, they shouldn’t. Children should be brought up in an environment which fosters human freedom.

They should be free to explore their world and make their own decisions, but we shouldn’t over-protect them from the consequences of their actions.

Freedom isn’t being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, to whomever you want, with someone else’s money, on someone else’s property, without consequences. That isn’t freedom, that’s insanity. It’s denial of reality. It is the delusion of the tyrant and dictator and it’s the way many parents let their children behave.

Expect more from your children.

True freedom comes from taking full responsibility for yourself, your decisions, and your environment. Once you understand that you’ll understand the power of your own freedom.

The day the finger pointing stops is the day we’ve all grown up.

A truly free man will make the right decision without a gun pointed to his head, because he is intelligent enough to understand his responsibility for his own decisions.

If others are trying to help me learn, and I tell them to go F-off, while I am free to do that, they also are free to walk away and never help me again. They are also free to ask me to leave if I do it on their property.

You cannot be free until you acknowledge every other human being’s inherent freedom.

Putting a fridge in my son’s room, filling it with donuts and Mountain Dew, and then drugging him with Adderal teaches him nothing about freedom. Being truly free is understanding you must earn the capital to buy the room, the fridge and its contents through voluntary transactions with other people. And even then, you still must accept the consequences (obesity and diabetes) of your poor diet and your drug use. There is no escaping the consequences of your actions.

Real boundaries are defined by your actions and other people’s reactions.

I am free to choose not to bring soda pop and candy into my house, and my son is free to swear at me because he wants candy and pop, but if I am an intelligent parent, I will react to his actions in a way that will not satisfy his desires, because, to be truly free, he must learn that he is not the only free person on earth. We are all free to choose and decide, and if you swear at me I will make a decision you will not like.

Hyper kids need to be taught that their actions cause reactions. We should not shield them from unpleasant reactions. We are all connected in this world. There is no denying it.

Free people treat each other with dignity and respect because that is how they want to be treated.

What does this have to with ADHD? Labeling poor behavior ADHD, relieving the child of consequences for his actions, teaches tyranny not freedom. It creates high chair tyrants who demand everything and contribute nothing.

I’m pretty sure I’m ADHD. Many of my friends are ADHD. And I can clearly see that the only control I have is self-control. Amphetamines (that’s what Adderal and Ritalin are) are not an option. I’ve seen people close to me go down that path (both legal and illegal) and it destroys the soul. I’d rather be quirky and disorganized than a shell of what I was.

Don’t drug your children, set a good example for them and hold them accountable for their decisions.

Don’t use drugs to get your kids grades up. So what if he forgets his homework. Grades just aren’t that important in the grand scheme.

(I’m not saying there aren’t hard cases. Maybe your child is one of them. I’m not talking about you. But IMHO ADHD is clearly over diagnosed. In the UK, It’s gone from 2,000 in 1991 to 400,000 today. Clearly many schools and parents are using ADHD to absolve them from confronting and correcting damaging behavior.)

Around the Internet 9-19-08

Violent Acres has been one of my favorites for a couple of years. But in her rant Personal Branding is a Load of Garbage, she writes…

Apparently, Dan Schawbel is a self described ‘personal branding
expert.’ Less hip members of society might be wondering now what,
exactly, is ‘personal branding.’ Lucky for us all, douche bag Dan
Schawbel defines this little bit of idiocy for us.

All of this goobly-gook is a clever way of saying that instead of going
to the effort to become a certain sort of person, we can just insist
that we are that sort of person until others give in and believe us.
Instead of developing our personalities into something with substance,
we can simply buy all of the proper accessories needed to project the
right ‘image.’

I have to call hypocrisy here, this is coming from a woman that writes posts about how she likes… well… you’ll have to read it (not for the prudish). Of course, she doesn’t put her name on her writing, BECAUSE IT WOULD RUIN HER PERSONAL BRAND!

It is kinda like Amanda Chapel using Twitter and Blogging (Strumpette) to tell us how worthless social media is.

Maybe they should both hop on Al Gore’s private jet and fly to Earth Day.

On a related note:

O’ Reilly asks if the Web 2.0 party is over.

Bruce at Keener Living writes about how important it is to allow yourself to fascinated. He reminds us how we take amazing simple things we do and see for granted. Some people think this is tripe, but that’s because they don’t want to think about it – creativity, origins, and consciousness. All amazing mysteries. No one can explain these things without using mysticism or dumb random luck. I find the discussion humbling.

Leo gives young people advice on starting a writing career. He’s a successful writer with 18 years experience. Leo is master at writing consistently useful, inspiring content.

I recently found Alex Blackwell’s blog the Bridgemaker. I can really identify with his message:

Bridgemakers learn compassion through their own endurance of pain. We all have the capacity to be Bridgemakers when we make the choice to show compassion and grace to others.

Shilpan Patel asks us to reject the cult of celebrity. The cult isfueled by exploiting the mediocrity of our own lives, and creating a fantasy land of exciting real-life soap opera stars, while at the same time insuring that we stay mediocre and addicted to watching someone else live. But instead of living in this media created la la land, we need to break the chains of self-imposed mediocrity and boredom and create remarkable lives for ourselves. Turn off your TV. Turn off your news. Live in your real environment, not in the MSMs artifical, contrived, mental prison. It is designed to keep fat, dumb, addicted, and frightened.

Contribute to the Great Cubicle Escape

Do you wanna get linked up on this blog post? Read on.

Help Others Reach Their Goals

One of my passions is helping others achieve their dreams. My friend Dereck dreams of leaving his cubicle and biking across the country. And he’s struggled getting his dream off the ground.

I suggest you take the time to read his entire story, it’s among the best on the internet.

I have never asked for a dollar from you, although many of you have asked me how you can donate to this site. Now, I ask you, donate what you can to Dereck, and help him achieve his dream.

Here’s what he is suggesting:

If everyone can participate by doing the list of just three things below, we can raise the money soon enough for me to go before winter arrives:

  1. Try to raise just five dollars
  2. Try to find just two other bloggers who will commit to this list of three
  3. Try to do this list in two days

Donate here. No donation is too small.

If you take the simple steps above, and Dereck confirms it on his blog, I will add your site to the list of contributors below.


Orna Ross (She got it started with $100.00!)
Writer Dad
Beth Partin
Persistent Illusion
Indigo Spot
Learning to Say Yes

This is what Dereck has raised to date


Before You Kill Your Day Job, Ask Yourself Tough Questions

Clay Collins rants about the stupidity that traps us. On his my story page, Clay describes himself as a Professional Day Job Killer.

In contrast, Hugh MacLeod from Gaping Void tells you not to quit your day job.

I won’t tell you who is right… I don’t know… but…

Before You Kill Your Day Job, Ask Yourself Tough Questions

I once wrote that getting a job isn’t the best way to earn money and that might sound hypocritical coming from a man who has a job. No doubt, generating passive income is a better way to earn money than working for a paycheck. It allows you to create new ideas and grow businesses with more of your time.

If you are thinking about killing your day job, do this exercise first. It is an exercise you should do whenever you consider making major life altering decisions.

This isn’t some magical exercise, this is hard core critical thinking abut yourself and your future.

Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have a job. Imagine what is possible for you, with your talents, with your work ethic, and with your energy levels.

Don’t waste your time fantasizing about beating Tiger Woods in the British Open, winning millions and retiring to a desert island, unless you have some reason to believe you could actually do that. And even so, think about the end result. Is it what you want? Do you really want the attention? Do you really want to live on a desert island?

Write down in detail what you’ve imagined. If you can, describe it like a novel.

Then dig into into it. Start asking probing questions about this potential future you are planning for yourself. Write the questions down. Answer them in writing.

Here’s an example:

A friend told me he wanted to quit his blue collar job and go to college and become an architect. Sounds noble, right? Here’s the problem, we as a society put higher value on architects than plumbers, but that doesn’t tell you a thing about what you want.

It may be your ego pushing for status. Only you know.

To find out, I asked him these questions:

  • Have you talked to any Architects about their lives? What did you learn?
  • What do they do all day?
  • What kind of people will you work with?
  • What does their work feel like?
  • What is the first year like?
  • How much you can you expect to earn? At one year? five years? ten years?
  • How much does the school cost?
  • Do you have the money? If not, how will you get it? Debt?
  • If debt, how long will it take you to pay it back?
  • What will your future income be minus your debt payments?
  • How many years will the schooling take from your life?
  • What will you do to pay your bills while you are in school?
  • Do you like school?
  • Have you ever succeeded in school?
  • Why will it be different this time?
  • Do you believe you have what it takes to complete the program? Why?
  • How long is the typical internship? Do you believe internships will be available when you finish?
  • Will you need to relocate to find employment? Are you willing to move there?
  • Once you finish your internship, what will you do? Start a private practice or get a job?
  • Are you sure this is the future you want for yourself?

If you’re thinking about quitting your day job, ask yourself a similar set of questions.

  • What would my life be like without a job?
  • What would I do all day?
  • Who would I spend time with?
  • How much money would I need to entertain/educate/grow myself during those added free hours?
  • What business or income stream would generate that money?
  • What plan do have to create that business?
  • Do you believe you have what it takes to create that business?
  • How will you get the money to create that business?
  • What will you do if you fail? What’s your backup plan? It is highly likely you will fail multiple times.
  • Is it possible that doing what you love will become a chore when it must generate revenue?
  • Is it possible you’ll end up a slave to different master?
  • Would your new business chew up even more time for less money?
  • Does your family support you?
  • Can you handle the stress of massive change?
  • Can your family?
  • Is quitting your day job something you need to do right now or can it wait until a better time?

Many unemployed and retired people suffer major depression when they no longer have somewhere to go every morning. Is it conditioning? Sure, but it is also about finding meaning and purpose. If you aren’t going to your job everyday you need to find meaning some other way.

Why is Brett Favre playing for the Jets this year? Because football gives him meaning in life. He doesn’t know what to do with himself without football. If you’ve been working in a cubicle, driving a truck, enforcing the law, teaching children, or hammering out configs in VI editor for the last 10 years, what will you do when it ends? Think about that! It’s more important than you might think.

  • Does your plan reinforce meaning in your life?
  • How did you feel last time you were unemployed? Motivated or depressed?

Doing what is right for me

I asked myself these questions (and many more) and as crazy as it sounds, I discovered I want to keep my day job. I discovered that my life is just the way I want it, except for these things:

  • I want more money (everyone does, right? Is my boss reading this? The CEO?)
  • I want more time to learn and discover
  • I want more time to be creative

I find achieving creative flow (being in the zone) incredibly satisfying. This is the state all writers, designers, gamers, and programmers know well. The mental state when time disappears, when you are so absorbed in something that the world seems to stop and there is nothing but the subject at hand. This state is my drug of choice. Achieving this state of mind ensures I learn, grow, create, and earn more money. It also ensures my happiness and my sanity.

I find the zone almost impossible to achieve at home. When I do, it is usually late at night, when everyone is asleep.

I need an office, away from home. Even if I quit my job and created another micro-business, I wouldn’t be any happier. I am an employee and shareholder in a innovative growing company that encourages creativity. It is a company that has helped me grow tremendously. I’d be a fool to walk away from a company like this right now.

Besides, Christine and I already have a small business which generates $250,000 in revenue annually and is growing. We also have multiple income streams. Someday, maybe, I’ll spend more time growing those businesses and income streams, but right now, this is where I need to be. This is right for me.

Now ask, what is right for you?

When I was 13, I wanted to be a rock star because of the perceived benefits I’d gain. Blogging can easily turn into a similar dream, so if your goal is to become a rock star, more is always better, isn’t it?
That’s the trap. More attention, more visitors, more Diggs, more money, more credibility, more about you. But that isn’t how money is made over the long-term. Money is made by offering more of yourself to others, that’s why most rock stars implode, they get too self-absorbed. The smart ones survive because they know the rules.

Napoleon Hill talked about this in Think and Grow Rich. He said that when riches come, they generally come indirectly. People that go directly for the money usually burnout because their heart isn’t in it.
The desire was for the money, not the journey. True wealth comes from ideas that expand freedom.

Being a slave to your ego isn’t freedom, working a job you hate isn’t freedom, but sometimes a job is the right place for someone. Sometimes you need one to get the funds to do what you really want. Sometimes it’s the right place to learn and to grow. You can get an education on the job and get paid for it. Some employers offer their people incredible freedom. It all depends on what you want.

So what do you want?

Learning How to Live

The simple concept I am about to share with you has taken me most of my adult life to realize and is one of the key ingredients in living a balanced fulfilling life.

Dereck at I Will Not Die wrote a piece (Playgrounds in the Night) that will move you. When you read it, it will leave you with a sense of urgency to live now. It will make you question every decision you make, make you fight your distractions, and push you to live right now.

Dereck is right and I encourage you to live right now, while you still have the time.

But it is only half-the story. Life is never clean. It’s messy and mysterious.

Like a lot of you, I struggle living in the now. I think I know why. Let me explain with a story.

There was a boy I once knew that never wanted the day to end. He lived in the moment and for the moment. Eating was a nuisance, going potty a waste of time, getting dressed a distraction. He had important things to do. He had dragons to slay, legions to lead into battle, fortresses to build, treasure to find, and damsels to save.

And when he wasn’t in his imagination, he had worms to eat, bikes to jump, ropes to swing from, rocks to throw, firecrackers to light, lawn darts to toss, books to read, games to play, and movies to watch.

He hated plans and loved spontaneity. He did everything he could now because tomorrow never came, it was always now.

He avoided schedules and plans because they felt like prisons.

As he grew older, he went to parties, he smoked dope, he played music, chased girls, and wrote poetry. It was all enormous fun. But he never made plans for his future. He lived for the moment, no worries, life to it’s fullest.

He didn’t expect to live past 18, but it came and it went. Then he didn’t expect to live past 21. But it too came and it went.

As time went on, he had fewer and fewer friends. Some went to prison, others to treatment, some got married, others to school, some even died. He kept living for the moment, but soon he found himself alone. Everyone had either made plans and moved on or disappeared.

At 30 years old, he had no money, no house, no friends, no marriage, no kids, no education, no job, no business. He spent 30 years living in the now and now the present wasn’t so fun. His health was failing and so was his sanity.

That’s when he realized his mistake…

It is important to answer this question:

How would I live if I was sure I was going to die tomorrow?

But it is equally important to ask yourself this one:

How would I live if I was sure I’d live a 100 more years?

There is a difference between living in the present and living like there is no tomorrow. Failing to think about your future is irresponsible to yourself and your loved ones. If you want something tomorrow, sometimes, you have to do something you don’t want to do today. You can live in the present moment, while choosing to use your present moment to make plans for your future. In reality there are no other moments than this one, right here, right now. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it to plan your future and learn from your past.

You can do your own thing, but remember, you will reap the consequences of your choices. There is no avoiding them.

While it is possible I may die today, I am planning to live past 100. Sometimes I tell my kids ‘no’ when they ask to go to the park. If I knew I was going to die tomorrow we’d go to the park. But today I choose to work on my career, my business, my writing, my health, my finances, as well as my marriage and my children. No one thing can have my focused attention all the time. Sometimes I have to drop work and help a family member, sometimes I say no to my family because there is work to be done. My plans are longer than 1 day or 1 week.

If you are overly focused on the long-term you’ll miss the present and you’ll die waiting to arrive.

However, if you are overly focused on the present without thought for your future, and you happen to live another 60 years, you may not like where you end up. You need to watch where you are going or you might end up lost, in the ditch, or crushed in a head on collision.

Yes, if I knew I was going to die next week, I’d live the next 7 days very differently. But if I chose to live that way all the time, life would get strange. Life wouldn’t be as fun without long-term goals and successes.

The exact date and time of your demise is a mystery, and that makes life far more interesting. It forces you to take calculated risks with your most precious commodity – time.

I came to understand this when I realized…
When I choose to do something right now, I am forgoing every other possibility. To read this post, you gave up everything else you could have been doing with that time. I hope I left you with something you can use.

There is no right or wrong answer, there is only what is right for you. Don’t let anyone choose for you, but remember to choose intelligently.

Being Yourself

I’ve seen some new faces around here and some of you may wonder what this blog is about.

After reading Mark Dykeman’s latest post, I printed How to Be Creative by Hugh McLeod of gapingvoid.com and read it for the umpteenth time. If you haven’t, I suggest you read it too, it’s fantastic.

Six of McLeod’s points seem to have a common theme:

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

I think he’s saying the same thing I said in a recent tweet

Be yourself dammit!

In his article, Hugh McLeod reminded me of the one thing that gnaws at me about blogging… it’s the thing I struggle with… maybe some of you do too…

I’m not a personal development blogger, a productivity blogger, or a spirituality blogger.
I’m just a guy blogging about what I learn. I try to express myself in a way that’s useful to you, but I write about what I’m thinking about (and I’m kinda ADD). Some of it may be wildly inconsistent. My goal isn’t to be consistent. I’m not into dogma.

My goals are:

  • To learn
  • To meet interesting people and engage them in interesting conversation

That doesn’t mean I don’t write about productivity and self-help. I do – sometimes. But if you’re looking for a blog that sticks to the positivity niche, there are other blogs I recommend, and are among the most respected blogs on the internet.

I value personal freedom, and I want to share my journey with you. But that journey isn’t always going to be smooth and inspiring, sometimes it might be strange and disagreeable. I have no desire to be hip and I couldn’t be if I wanted to.

This blog is about anything I learn, value, or am interested in that could be of value to you.

You are going to find things here you disagree with, and I will not try to offend, so I hope you stick around for the conversation, because I love intelligent people who disagree. That’s what makes good conversation. Disagreement strengthens the mind.

Echo chambers are a bore. I will try to ensure you don’t find one here.