Free Range Learning

In 1984, during the 9th Grade I skipped 90 days of school, or about half the school year. I spent most of those days reading at the Penn Lake Library in Bloomington MN. The brilliant High School student in this video explains why my behavior wasn’t as stupid as you’d think:

Hat Tip to Dr. Scott McLeod and his outstanding education blog Dangerously Irrelevant. I wish him much success is his effort to revolutionize education.

There’s a lot of us that got absolutely shredded by the current school system. End it, please!

Everything is Amazing, But Nobody is Happy

Life comes at you in waves, some up, some down. Yesterday Christine and I had a few surprises that are going to be challenging. Sometimes, when you’re skipping along the sidewalk a bully comes along and pushes you into the mud. While life deals you unexpected challenges, it is your choice how you frame them.

Sometimes people rob us. Sometimes bad stuff happens to us, sometimes to people we love.  But wallowing in resentment and self-pity is self-destructive, and vengeance and violence create more injustice. The only good answer is… deal with it (however you must) and move on.

We’ve become a society of whiners who panic at the slightest setbacks. Things are happening right now that may change that mindset for many generations. One of the best things that came out of the Great Depression were ethical business leaders who were grateful for the opportunity to add value to the world.

Today, too many people are focused on what they can get, not what they can give.

I was talking to my father last night. He grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota during the Great Depression. He said many times during the 1930s his family went months on less than 25 cents. Roosevelt sent agents out to slaughter their cattle without compensation (the government wanted to reduce the supply of cattle to increase prices – it didn’t work). Eventually the government took their farm because they couldn’t pay their taxes.

Many years before the government killed my Grandfather’s livestock and stole his farm, he was drafted into the First World War and gassed on the battlefield. He survived, but it almost killed him. His lungs were reduced to 50% capacity and all his teeth fell out. He had recurring bouts of illness over decades where he spent months in the hospital while my Grandmother ran the farm and raised four boys.

You know what? They lived to be over 90 and I never once heard them complain about how hard they had it. In fact, they thought that life was amazing.

I recall my Grandmother’s first airline flight and how she couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was.

You can’t see how wonderful the world is while you’re complaining.

When we open our eyes, we see that life is truly amazing, how blessed we are, and that happiness is a choice.

This video brings that message home:

I found this video via Mark J. Perry who publishes the economics blog CARPE DIEM. I love economics. But what I love most about Mark J. Perry’s blog is how he consistently finds economic news that is POSITIVE. Thanks for the good news Mark!

6 Truths to Wake Up to Right Now

This is a guest post by Glen Allsopp from PluginID.

There are times in life where we get ‘wake up calls’ to the harsh reality of what is out there and realise we need to make changes to our current situation. Whether it is the death of someone close to you or seeing other people make something of their lives, until these happen we don’t notice we’ve probably been doing nothing productive with our time.

I’m a big believer in the concept of making the most of what we have, so today I wanted to share six truths about life that should hopefully help inspire and motivate you to make a difference. Some of these may help you a lot, some…not so much .Either way, I hope you get something out of this that inspires you to make a difference and apply change to your life where necessary.

1. This is Life

Quite possibly the most obvious but most eye-opening advice I can ever offer people is the statement: this is life. We may have more than one shot, but nobody knows that for certain so we have to make the most of what we have. This is it. Right now. This is life. More likely than not you will never get this opportunity again.

Let go of all the grudges you hold against others, make sure all the people that are important in your life know how you feel, and don’t waste another minute complaining about something petty. Could you honestly say that if you knew you were dying tomorrow you’ve made the most of the opportunity you have?

If not (which I’m sure applies to most people), then look at areas that instantly popped into your mind when asking yourself that question. What is holding you back?

2. Happiness isn’t Found in Possessions

Some of you may agree with me on this, some may disagree. For those that disagree, would you still be happy through your possessions if nobody else in the world ever knew about them? We can be fooled into thinking that possessions bring happiness due to the Ego boost or feelings of self-esteem we get from new purchases.

It was when I first heard this concept that I started to look to see if it was true. It was a few days before Christmas and I thought “No way! Possessions (games consoles in this case) can make us happy”. Yes, they can…for a limited amount of time if anything at all. True happiness is found in freeing yourself in life, going for the things you want and not letting others hold you back.

3. Caring What People Think will Hurt You More Than any Benefit

Even writing out that title I’m thinking “What are the benefits of caring about what people think of us?” Of course, when I say this I’m not suggesting you should go out, beat people up and break into shops. No, I’m referring to the judgements of others and the way we worry about how people will react to our decisions, our goals or even the way we dress.

If you spend your life worrying about what people think of you, you’re never going to find your true self. Your actions will be largely dictated on your assumptions of the opinions of others. Recently, when I showed my ~20 year old malefriends about my blog, I really thought they were going to judge me, and think “Why are you writing all this self help rubbish?”. Well, guess what? They actually loved what I have to write and fully support what I do.

Of course, not everyone will think like that, but if I had of worried from the start I would have never started my website in the first place, and I wouldn’t be writing this article today. What other people say about you is none of your business. Internalise that.

4. To Get Over Fears, Face Them

Fears come in many forms, but it’s rarely the fears of our current situation that bother us. When we fear things the most we fear the future, instead of focusing on the present moment. I’m sure some of you can relate to being nervous about driving when you first started to learn, but do any feelings of anxiety even cross your mind now that you drove so often? Probably not.

One of my biggest fears has always been public speaking, I can be very social but it was only until I knew a person that I started to show my real self. Despite having this fear, I decided to join a local speakers club and actually had my first speech yesterday.

My finishing line went something like this: “I’ve always been afraid of public speaking. However, I want to be the kind of person that fears public speaking, then signs up to a club and goes and speaks“. What about you?

5. Tomorrow May Not Come

With each day, my aim is to have been as productive as the one before. There are my off days where I take time out, relax, go out with friends, but on a usual Monday to Friday I always want to be as effective and efficient as possible. With each day I want to be proud of my accomplishments, I want the people around me to know how much they mean to me and I want to accept my mistakes and let go of any negative feelings.

People make mistakes, all of us do. Don’t waste your time worrying about what has happened. If you can take action then do so, otherwise just let go. Accept all that is, having things on your mind is going to stress you out more than the actual problem itself. As I demonstrated in point 3, worrying isn’t even worth it most of the time, things don’t turn out how we expect.

6. Only You Can Make These Happen

Hopefully some of the points here have motivated you somewhat to look at your life and see if you are on the ‘right’ path. If so then excellent. There’s just one more thing you need to know: only you can take action and make things happen. Friends can encourage you, your family can push you out there to do things, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make changes into habits, then habits into your lifestyle.

The support of others, the words in this post, your own beliefs…they are all great, they’ll help you get to a certain position. But ultimately it is you that has to look at your own situation, work out whether this is the life you want to live or whether you need to make some changes. If you do see that changes are necessary, go make them, show others what is possible rather than needing them to show you.

Thanks to Steve for the opportunity to post here.

Glen Allsopp moved to South Africa at the age of 18 where he didn’t know one single person. In that time he started a blog on Personal Development, and now aims to help people live the life they want to live.

Learning from Brilliant Minds – Marc Andreessen

We have an unprecedented opportunity to educate ourselves today. The gatekeepers of knowledge have been swept away. When I find content like this, I have to share it with you.

Marc Andreessen is brilliant in this interview with Charlie Rose about the future of business.

  • The future will bring more opportunity than ever
  • How business will evolve over the next decade
  • Why hyper-connected kids will build a smarter society
  • How video games are making the life better
  • How to fix the banking crisis

I share my favorite content on twitter. Follow me on twitter.

I also discuss and share my favorite content on friendfeed. Follow me on friendfeed.

You Are What You Choose To Do Next

Social sorting keeps us from becoming the people we were meant to be.

What you really are, can’t be classified by anyone but you. Your social status is a mental abstraction. It may be collective, but it is still an abstraction.

When you were in high school, you weren’t a jock, a burnout, a punker, a wannabe, a jell, a freak, a geek, a nerd, a preppie, a brain, or any other classification.

Social sorting happens early and often in our government schools. They were designed as a factory sorting system using scientific management. While the people have changed and the cosmetics have changed the base system is no different. It starts with the first pre-K screening and never ends. My file was paper and is probably long gone (I’ve asked for it and they can’t find it), but today the labels assigned to you will stick in a computer forever. The problem with this system is breaking free from the labels that bind you. The place you break free is in your own mind.

I find forms that ask for race particularly offensive. I usually check “other” and write in “human.” That really pisses off bureaucrats. They think I’m being a smart ass when I am being honest.

You aren’t what someone names you. You aren’t what you’ve done. You aren’t a diagnosis or a disease or a disorder. You aren’t how much money you have. You aren’t your test scores or your wins and losses. You are what you choose to do next.

Safety is a Trap

Safety is a trap. It is also an illusion that is turning many of us into spineless blobs.

Safety watches re-runs. Risk writes the next smash hit.

Calculated risk turns mediocrity into excellence.

Life reminds me of crossing the Missippippi headwaters on stepping stones when I was a kid.

First you must decide to get to the other side.

Then you size up the risk. How far is it? Can you make the leaps? Are the rocks slippery? What’s the worst case scenario? Do you know how to swim? If you fall, do you get wet or do you drown?

You make the first first leap. You land safely. The water’s rushing by. You make a few more leaps. You’re halfway there. The next leap is much farther than it looked from the shore and the rock you need to land on is covered in slime. The water is deeper than you realized. You look back at where you came from. You look forward again. You focus. You find faith. You leap. Your foot lands on target, but slides out from under you and you fall backward into the water. You grasp at a boulder and catch a ridge in you finger tips and crawl back onto the rock. With bruised pride, dripping wet, you look back again, you look forward, you find that same faith, and make the same leap again. This time your foot sticks. From here the rest of the leaps are easy. You stand on the other shore, knowing you’ve accomplished something difficult looking for the next challenge.

Andy Liu inspired this post today.

Life is so much more refreshing and invigorating when there is risk involved.

Hop over and read his post.

Can You Imagine What a Great Leader Might Say Right Now?

Great leaders show us tomorrow will be better than today because we control the future. Having a better tomorrow is a decision we get to make. We decide what happens next.

Great leaders face down our enemies and attack them relentlessly.

What enemies I am writing of?

The enemies of all mankind, fear and resentment.

Fear and resentment are the only things that stand between us and a better tomorrow. Sure our problems are complex, but we will overcome our obstacles only after we face our fears and let go of our resentments.

There is nothing more dangerous than a “leader” who uses fear and resentment to get what he wants. Great things happen when people act with passion, vision, and courage. Destruction happens when people act in fear and anger.

The first measure of great leadership is courage. However, having courage oneself isn’t enough. A leader, after all, is only one person. A leader can accomplish nothing without many people willing to act. So a great leader must have the ability to instill courage in others.

As you listen to leaders around the world speak about our current situation, do they have vision, passion, and do they inspire courageous action? There is a leadership vacuum just waiting to be filled, isn’t there? Who is going to step up?

Can you imagine what a great leader might say right now?

We are at a crossroad, one way is the path of fear the other is the path of courage. Which way will we go?

Christine's Books is Giving Away Free Personal Development Books on Twitter

Free Personal Development Books

Christine’s Books is proud to announce our weekly Twitter giveaway.

If you don’t know what Twitter is or how it works, learn about Twitter here, then join twitter and follow @christinesbooks here.

Every Tuesday is Personal Development Tuesday at Christine’s Books where we will give away a book from our Personal Development/Self-Help library. (If it goes well we may add more! We’re thinking about Fitness Fridays and maybe more!)

Here’s how it works:

  • Follow Christine’s Books on Twitter.
  • Every Tuesday we will send out a tweet in the morning that reads, “Personal Development Tuesday @christinesbooks, RT to enter to win a free copy of selected PD books <link here>”
  • Retweet the above tweet to enter. If you don’t know what retweeting is, it’s simple, you can learn about retweeting here.
  • Around 10 PM Central Time each Tuesday we will select a random retweeter as our winner. We will send a tweet naming the winning retweeter.
  • The winner can select one book from the list of books below. We will ship the one selected book, free of all charges to any location worldwide.

The books we are offering this Personal Development Tuesday — 2-10-09 are:

40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul Baron Baptiste
Fireside 2004-01-06 074322759X / 9780743227599 First Edition Hardcover New Hardcover
In 40 Days to Personal Revolution, Baron Baptiste — one of the world’s most beloved master yoga teachers — inspires us to transform more than body and mind: He gives us the tools we need to set ourselves free to live the healthful life we’ve always imagined. In the next 40 days you will create a whole new way of being and living. Tapping ancient wisdom and his own personal experience, Baron has created a relevant and completely practical program that will lead you to the clarity of mind, body, and spirit that awaits on the other side of your revolution.

Soul to Soul: Communications from the Heart Gary Zukav
Free Press 2007-10-23 0743237005 / 9780743237000 First Edition Hardcover New Hardcover
With the publication of his revolutionary work The Seat of the Soul, Zukav emerged as an important leader in the world of spiritual development, and it became one of the all-time successful books of its kind. Each of Zukav’s subsequent books, all of them bestsellers in their own right, has explored different aspects of that seminal work, offering detailed explanations and practical applications of his original vision.Soul to Soul represents a giant step forward in the expression of his work, providing penetrating insights that illuminate our lives. It is divided into two sections. Part One, “Soul Subjects,” consists of fifty brief, perceptive, and compelling chapters that encourage us to examine our own experiences in new and perhaps life-changing ways. Part Two, “Soul Questions,” is different from anything Zukav has written before. Combining profound spiritual and psychological insights, Zukav answers nearly one hundred important questions about life. Each chapter ends with a challenge to readers to experiment with the insight that has been given and make it their own.

Trust Your Gut: How the Power of Intuition Can Grow Your Business Lynn A. Robinson
Kaplan Business 2006-10-31 1419584405 / 9781419584404 Hardcover New Hardcover
In businesses big and small, making decisions comes with the territory. But how do you routinely make decisions that enhance, not diminish, the bottom line? According to major thought leaders like the authors of Blink, Megatrends and Winning, “intuition” is the answer. But those books are all about the “what” of intuition. In Trust Your Gut and Grow Your Business: How to Listen to Your Inner CEO, business consultant Lynn Robinson gives us the “how” part of accessing this incredibly valuable inner resource to make quicker, stronger, better decisions on a regular basis. Offering the same strategies that Robinson’s Fortune 500 and small business clients call upon, Trust Your Gut and Grow Your Business teaches those looking to succeed how to make winning decisions about their work, business and life through the following techniques: -Why enthusiasm is a message from your intuition that can help you nail the sale. (Hint: It’s not as obvious as you think!)-The five questions to ask your intuition when you’re making a decision.-The 90-second activity you must do every day to achieve your goals easily and effortlessly.-How to motivate prospects to take action.-How to recognize the “power hunches” that will direct you to success and add to your bottom line.

Addicted to Hurry (Spiritual Strategies for slowing down) Kirk Byron Jones
Judson Press 2003 0739439499 / 9780739439494 Hardcover New Hardcover
Book Club Edition — Author Kirk Byron Jones has written a much-needed resource that debunks the “need for speed” mentality that so many people have embraced as a part of their everyday lives. This book goes beyond social and psychological analysis to include spiritual perspectives on the dangers of letting hurry become a chronic condition. Jones presents a well developed three-pronged response to the problem of addiction to hurry. Included in each chapter are helpful questions that allow readers to identify their current pace of life and assist them in cultivating their own sacred, savoring pace. Addicted to Hurry is ideal for anyone desiring to lead a more calm and satisfying life and a great gift for those who seem to be burning out from the frantic pace at work or at home.

The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything Stephen M.R. Covey; Foreword-Stephen R. Covey; Contributor-Rebecca R. Merrill
Free Press 2006-10-17 074329730X / 9780743297301 First Edition Hardcover Used: Like New Hardcover
From Stephen R. Covey’s eldest son comes a revolutionary new path towards productivity and satisfaction. Trust, says Stephen M.R. Covey, is the very basis of the new global economy, and he shows how trust—and the speed at which it is established with clients, employees and constituents—is the essential ingredient for any high–performance, successful organization.For business leaders and public figures in any arena, The Speed of Trust offers an unprecedented and eminently practical look at exactly how trust functions in our every transaction and relationship—from the most personal to the broadest, most indirect interaction—and how to establish trust immediately so that you and your organization can forego the time–killing, bureaucratic check–and–balance processes so often deployed in lieu of actual trust.

What The Rich Know About Money That Most People Don't

Financial intelligence is mostly counter intuitive. Take everything you feel about the economy and turn it on its head.

You’ve heard “buy low, sell high,” right? Sounds easy enough, but how do you do it? Most people buy high and sell low.

This is why the rich are rich and most of us aren’t.

The rich…

Sell when everyone else is buying. Buy when everyone else is selling. Save when everyone else is spending. Spend when everyone else is saving.

I just met an entrepreneur who positioned himself perfectly for this economy. He said,

“This is great, I just bought a 2.5 million dollar building for 800K. I
hired a dozen unemployed construction workers off craigslist to gut it
and remodel it. I just hired 5 .NET developers for half the price I
would have paid last year.”

What will you do next time? Mark my words, this will all happen again.

That’s how you build wealth. It’s simple, but most people won’t do it. The social pressure to spend when the Jones’ are spending is too great. Most people can’t bear to show up at hockey practice in an old mini-van, when everyone else has a shiny new Denali.

Then when the bust happens, they are broke and paralyzed by fear of unemployment and they miss out on the cheapest prices in a decade.

My neighbors are doing a major remodeling project right now. As I write this, I am looking out the window, and there are four pickups parked outside and even more men inside working. So in this economy, how can they afford it? I don’t know, but I can guess they saved during the boom and they are now paying half the price they would have paid two years ago.

Booms and busts are as certain as night and day. They are the natural cycle of economic life. Trying to rid the economy of booms and busts is like trying to rid the world of night and day.

This is simple if you build self-discipline and refuse to be herded into the latest stampede.

2006 was the top of the last boom. Most people I knew were buying new cars, buying new homes, remodeling, and spending like the good times would never end. About that time I had a conversation with a real estate agent about investment properties that went like this…

“Sooner or later the price of homes will drop.”

“It isn’t going to happen. It hasn’t happened since the 1930s.”

“Doesn’t mean it can’t happen again.”

“It’s happened in a few localized markets, but not one like ours.”

“What goes up, must come down. The higher it goes the farther it has to fall.”

“Unemployment would have to skyrocket and I can’t see that happening, not now. They are projecting a million more people in the metro area in the next 10 years.”

“Hmm, so buy now, it’s only going up?”

“If you buy this house (600K), it’ll be worth 30K more by the time you close. You can’t lose. You don’t want to get left out. Don’t leave money on the table.”

“I’ll pass.”

The words “you can’t lose” were the trigger.

You see, if I had done what I knew was right, I would have sold him my home and rented an apartment.  I didn’t sell because it would have been too disruptive to my family and Christine’s business. In retrospect I
should have, I would have made a pile of dough, and right now I’d be buying the 600K house for 300K.

But no matter what you do, you can lose, and you should be willing to accept responsibility for your loss. Take calculated risks, not blind gambles. Responsibility for the results of your actions, good or bad, is the foundation of freedom.

Be Decisive With Your Life

I struggle with this question everyday, “What am I going to do with all my opportunities?”

Sometimes I ask, “What am I going to do?” But I wonder if that’s the right question. Maybe it is “What do I need to stop doing?”

You can’t focus on everything that has potential. If you try, you’ll spread yourself too thin and you’ll get nowhere. So maybe it’s another way of saying, “Indecisiveness/procrastination is a major problem for most of us.”

We all choose something to do, but most of us choose what is easy, what is comfortable, what is known, what we feel is predictable, and what we were taught to do in school. But it’s a trap, isn’t it? As many of you are finding out right now, what you thought was safe and predictable, isn’t. The go to school> get good grades> get a cushy cubicle job path is as risky as any other path.

That’s the silver lining in a bad economy, it educates us about what is important, it shows us new opportunities, and it forces us to grow. Some of you may not want to hear this right now, but we need recessions in the same way we need forest fires. They are as natural as birth and death, necessary parts of growth and regeneration.

Christine was at our accountant’s office last week getting our business taxes done, when the subject of the economy came up.

Our accountant said he lost his job in a bad recession and he couldn’t find a new one. He was forced to start his own accounting firm from home. It was difficult, but he eventually grew into an office space and hired employees. He said losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to him.

His son went through the same thing during the dot com bubble. He lost a 40K per year job, and couldn’t find another. He eventually gave up on the idea of ever having a job, and instead went freelance. Today he owns his own company and makes 300K a year.

A friend’s father was an engineer and lost his job during a long ago recession. He had three kids at home, a house payment, and a wife who didn’t work. He couldn’t find a job, so he started freelancing and grew his practice into to a respected local engineering firm that lasted decades.

Not one of these success stories is internet related. Two of them happened before the personal computer had been invented. Today, with the internet and social media, your opportunities are exponentially greater than ever before.

So what are you going to do with all your opportunities?