Archives For Motivation

Vote for…

November 5, 2012 — Leave a comment

Vote You

Vote for you… because you’re awesome and no politician can affect your life more than you can. They can’t help you control your money, find what you love, or make the decision to change your life.

Vote for you to:

Pay off debt

Save up your emergency fund

Invest Wisely

Kick butt at work

Work on that thing you’ve always wanted to do

Live the life you want to live

Finish the book you always wanted to write (Susan and Cheryl)

Do the splits! (Bethany) Continue Reading…

Who Do Your Work For?

September 17, 2012 — 1 Comment

No, I’m not asking about your boss, organization or company… I want to know why you work. Let me add some perspective to my question, courtesy of the Greeks:

“Where there are kings, there must be the greatest cowards. For men’s souls are enslaved and refuse to run risks readily and recklessly to increase the power of somebody else. But independent people, taking risks on their own behalf and not on behalf of others, are willing and eager to go into danger, for they themselves enjoy the prize of victory.”

Man, that’s a powerful quote! I’ve struggled for a long time to finish this article because it hits so close to home. From the very moment I read it in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, the quote has stuck with me like one of those annoying little gnats flying around your ear. I’d swat it away only to find it drawn back into my head.

It hits close to home because I believe it to be very true. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been passionate about my work before, and I’m very thankful to my employers for providing a great living for my family, but there’s always something missing. I don’t feel I’ve been working at my full potential since college.

I felt closer to “full potential” in college because I was involved in leading multiple activities along with taking classes and really enjoyed it. As the quote says, I was willing and eager to go into danger because I was enjoying the prize of victory, even if it meant 16 hour days.

However, after I graduated from college, I got a “good” job at a consulting firm. Things were ok, but I quickly discovered it wouldn’t be the same. I feel like much of my working life after college has been much like the example of what happens when we work for kings who are now the businesses we work for. I don’t get to do what I love, instead I get to do what the king needs done.

Our kings treat us well and we choose to remain cowards afraid of taking too much risk. Many of us receive a sense of security with our jobs even though we’ve seen the lay-offs over the last couple of years. We give up our lives to them, and they continue to give us paychecks.

As I mentioned when talking about the Company Store, we often create our own reasons for getting stuck at our jobs – often times debt. We sacrifice our freedom from the kings for stuff acquisition.

Another reason we don’t take large risks in our jobs is because we know we don’t always reap the full outcome of the reward or as stated in the quote, we won’t enjoy the prize of victory. If we pour our lives into designing a new process that saves our company millions of dollars, most of us would only receive a pat on the back – usually the same pat on the back we receive for completing mediocre work.

Next, if we take the large risk and fail, it could lead to us losing our title or even our job. It’s hard for many companies to embrace the culture of allowing people to fail in the trade-off for possibly hitting it big. Once again, if we don’t take risks and continue doing our job, we will probably stay safe.

There should be some difference between us and the early Greeks because the king’s people didn’t have full control of their lives and were typically stuck under the person who ruled their lands. The only options were to leave everything behind to risk success in a new land, overthrow the king, or just deal with it. We’re different though because we have a choice… right?

So what are our options?

The key is to not blame your “king” for the position you’re stuck in. We can quit and change jobs without worrying about getting hunted down like a rabbit by an angry king. However, the “switch jobs” option more than likely means you’ll go to work for a new king and you still won’t be taking risks on your own behalf.

Another option is to start working on our passion on the side, while using your current job as a tool to get you where you want to go. You might use it to gain skills, save money, or even network while you try to turn your side job into the full time job that you willingly take risks as independent person thirsting for the prize!

However, none of this will even matter if we don’t take control of our money and invest wisely first. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, how the heck are you ever going to be able to leave your job and take risks on your own? You may not even know your current battle cry or what you want to do with your life, but you must start taking control of your money so you can someday control your life.

There are no kings holding us back, we do it just fine by ourselves. Once you get the taste of independence and treasuring the work you do, you may never turn back. I hear this time and again from successful entrepreneurs… and I’ll continue to work towards getting there myself. What about you, do you work for a king or are you your own king?

June 18, 2012

The heat bearing down on you in the middle of an Oklahoma summer day quickly reminds you of the beauty of an air conditioner.  It was a luxury I didn’t experience much that summer as I worked mostly outside for my dad as a maintenance man and janitor at my high school.  However, I was seventeen years old and the extra money was nice to have.

My typical summer day consisted of waking up by 6am so I get to work at 7am.  My school was close, but I had to eat breakfast each morning to keep me going until lunch and through my 8 hour day.  My school wasn’t huge, but the 1,000 students in K-12 required a large enough campus to keep a crew of 5 very busy.  Typically, I was the yard guy and kept very busy mowing the lawns and weed-eating, but I when I was lucky I would get a plush inside job moving furniture or mopping floors.

There was one job I loathed more than most others.  It wasn’t picking up trash, weed-eating, or even cleaning toilets.  It was replacing the bad heat exchangers on the school’s HVAC units. The school had a network of 10 or so buildings that spanned 70 years in age.  Needless to say, there was also a patchwork of HVAC units that loved to fail on the hottest of summer days… just when they were needed most.

Luckily for the school, my dad previously hired a former air conditioner repair man as a maintenance man who knew just how to fix them.  Unlucky for me, he needed an assistant because it wasn’t easy work.  His name was Jimmy, and he was a former bull rider who had the beat up body to prove it.  His injuries were only outnumbered by his stories which he loved to tell.  He was the brains behind the heat exchanger replacement operation, but I was the brawn.

Sometimes I thought he could do the work by himself, but he requested help because he would get too bored up on the roof all by himself.  When it was necessary to change a heat exchanger, we would usually get to work early because we knew it would be a long day.  The only thing worse than being outside on a 100+ degree day or fixing a bad heat exchanger is fixing a bad heat exchanger on a 100 degree day while working on a hot tar roof! The 100 degrees quickly felt like 115+ when you combined the black roof with the direct sun.

My memory of how long it took to replace is somewhat blurred because my mind has since repressed the pain!  However, when I do a quick Google search, the results tell me it takes 5-6 hours for professionals.  We were a professional plus an amateur, so we maybe qualified as semi-professionals, but that time seems about right.

Changing the heat exchange required an especially large amount of patience as you had to practically take apart the entire HVAC unit to get to it.  The puzzle was disassembled by removing 50+ screws, motors, and many sharp metal plates. It always nice to get the heat exchanger in place, until you realized the hard work was just beginning.  Reassembling the unit was usually even harder because you had to get everything aligned perfectly when screwing the plates back in.

Did I mention yet that I was seventeen years old? Do you know any seventeen year olds with patience?

Needless to say, I got very frustrated during this process!   It was so hot, exhausting, and dirty, and I already knew I didn’t want to be an HVAC repairman when I grew up!  There was no benefit for me to go through except to realize I had to succeed in college so I never had to do it again! I thought so anyway.

As the heat of the day set in and the work got the most complicated, I was usually right at the peak of my frustration.  When this happens, it doesn’t take much to put one over the edge.  The climax was usually caused by a single screw that wouldn’t align no matter how much force I’d try to use.  It happened and things began flying through the air (a combination of tools and words).  At this point, Jimmy popped in with a line I still remember to this day.  He’d say, “It’s only metal, you can let it beat your mind.”

Dang.  Why was I allowing myself to get so worked up over an inanimate piece of metal that wouldn’t listen to me?

It was only metal, that already proved it could be assembled.  It would only take the tenacity and patience of a human mind to mend it.

Til this day I still think about that metal every time I walk out of the cool air conditioning and hit the baking heat outside.  However, I also think about it when I start to get frustrated, even though I’ve gone from working on HVAC units to working on spreadsheets and presentations.  The metal wasn’t able to make me frustrated, only my mind could do that.  This was one of my most important lessons in learning to work smart.

 

IMG_0657

Taking in the Himalayas in Nepal

You can always tell when I start to get in over my head while writing because I pull a lot from my quote collection.  Life fulfillment is one of those topics. I talk a lot about life fulfillment on my blog, but I’ve never actually written what I think life fulfillment means.  Many times I’ve started writing this post… only to stop when I get stuck.

My personal search for my mission and life fulfillment is what caused me to start reading in 2007, and what’s kept me writing the last year on my blog.  I’m in the process of discovering it and some key elements are already in place.

Where are you in the process?  Your life fulfillment is like your fingerprint in that it’s truly unique.  No one else can determine what it will take for you to be fulfilled, and the minute someone tries to push their belief of what your fulfillment should be, you should run.  Only you can know what fulfills you.

Some view life fulfillment as something they may someday reach when they finally have the perfect family, the perfect job, or a certain amount of money.  Others are already living a fulfilled life and wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m not sure either of them are right or wrong, it all has to do with what you want.

Many of us are driven in life by factors or forces that we’re not even aware of.  I like reading books about what drives people.  One of those is Titan which is written about John D Rockefeller.  The book explains why Rockefeller was driven to become the world’s wealthiest man.  He grew up poor, and his dad left his family when he was fourteen.  It was combination of shame and necessity that drove him to work hard to support his mom and younger siblings.  The family barely scraped by, and he vowed never to be poor again.

This drive for life fulfillment as a result of our familial conditions is explained in The Celestine Prophecy as the following:

“We are not merely the physical creation of our parents; we are also the spiritual creation. You were born to these two people and their lives had an irrevocable effect on who you are. To discover your real self, you must admit that the real you began in a position between their truths. That’s why you were born there: to take a higher perspective on what they stood for. Your path is about discovering a truth that is a higher synthesis of what these two people believed.”

The theory that your life fulfillment is based on familial conditions should be looked at as a storyboard in the tale of your ancestral life.  You wouldn’t be where you are without the actions of many, many previous generations, and what you do in your life will have a great impact on your future generations.  However, your life is still a unique chapter of the full story.

Others find their life fulfillment is driven by religion.  Some of the most successful people in the world feel they’re driven by divine inspiration.  It’s been said that George Bush believed from God that he was meant to be the President of the United States, and in his mind there was nothing that would stop him.

The religious view is explained in the book The Call by Oz Guiness. He said,

“Most human lives are an incomplete story if not a story of incompletion.  As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.  Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.  Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint.  Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”

This argument is that we may die without feeling like we’ve ever found our purpose, and that’s ok.  It’s ok because the whole time we were playing a part in something much bigger that we may not have even seen.  Nine year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and killed in Arlington, Texas in 1996.  Now, her namesake “Amber Alert” has saved countless lives.

Finally, a simpler view is that we are fulfilled in life by doing what makes us happy.  Once again, this is dependent on you as you’re the only one who can figure out what makes you happy.  As Fryodor Dostoevsky said,

“Without a firm notion of what he is living for, man will not accept life and will rather destroy himself than remain on Earth.”

I’ve listed three ways we are driven to fulfillment, but there are obviously more. The most important thing is to actively seek what fulfills you. Henri Nowon said, “He who thinks that he has finished is finished. Those who think they have arrived have lost their way.”

Even if you are searching, you may feel like you’re walking a random path with no clear destination; I think we’ve all been there. Sometimes, it’s only in hindsight that we figure out why we had to go through what we did.  As Winston Churchill said, “I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”

What makes you fulfilled in life?  You may be fulfilled already, or you might be in search of life fulfillment like many of us are. It’s not a bad thing; just don’t forget to enjoy the precious life you have today.

If you would like to read more on this subject, I highly recommend Oz Guinness’ book The Call; it’s where I pulled most of these quotes from.  Please leave your comment on what fulfills you!

 

Knee Walker

June 7, 2012

One of the toughest parts of recovering from my torn Achilles is learning to walk again. The original injury happened on April 25. After surgery on April 30, my cast was removed on June 1st – a full month later. As you can imagine, a month of inactivity is not good on the leg. There are some obvious size differences between my calf muscles, and when I hold my leg up, the calf area hangs off the bone like you’d expect with a 90 year old man (no offense to any 90 year old men reading this). Sorry if I grossed you out!

Aside from the visual differences, there were some obvious physical differences. Mainly, I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. I don’t think it had as much to do with the Achilles tendon as it did with the inability to bare weight on my foot and ankle. They’d been without weight or much movement for over 5 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a long time, but when it comes to your body, it must be an eternity. The tendon is very strong now, but it’s also very tight because the way it was sewn back together. To accommodate this, my walking boot has inserts that raise the heel approximately 3/4 of an inch.

As I continue rehabilitating, I’ll work more and more to get gain the original range of motion back in the tendon. However, one of the most important things to do right now is to learn to walk again. When I started out, I didn’t put any weight on my left foot; I just barely put it on the ground. However, as the days have gone by, I’ve started to add some additional weight. When I do this, I experience sharp pains in my foot and stiffness in my ankle thanks to the inactivity of the last 5 weeks.

The doctor told me I could start bearing weight about one week after the cast was removed. After that, he said I could start working my way down to one crutch, and within another week get down to no crutches. As expected, I’m a little ahead of schedule due to my impatience. I’ve started adding weight, and now I’m trying to learn to walk with one crutch. At first, I attempted to use the single crutch on my left side so I could support my body weight as I step. However, this hasn’t proven to work real well, and it’s making me hop a little more to try and get back on my good foot.

Next, I tried using the single crutch on my right side (opposite side of the injury). Believe it or not, this made all of the difference! Now when I step on my left side, I lean to the right and use the crutch to bear some of the weight. This has allowed me to walk in a more fluid motion instead of hopping. There’s gotta me some kind of important life lesson in that idea, but for now I’m just focused on walking ;).

Soon, I’ll once again walk independently, even though I’ll still be in the boot. I can’t tell you how sweet this will be. After six weeks of wheelchairs, knee scooters, and crutches, this will be such a welcome reprieve. Six weeks of limitations that prevent me from enjoying walks around the neighborhood with my wife and our dog Lucy, six weeks of forcing my wife to do everything because getting out of the house is too hard, and six week of fearing walking up the three steps into our kitchen. My wife will welcome it just as much as I will.

Even with my single crutch, I’m already starting to gain some independence. As some of you may know, I work from home which is a double-edged sword. It’s great because it’s allowed me to stay productive with work even through this injury. However, it’s been tough because my wife works and is gone most of the day, and I don’t have anyone to talk to besides my dog! I’m definitely a social creature, and I’ve learned that I need social interaction to stay energized. To celebrate yesterday and break free of my isolation, I drove myself to Wendy’s to get a burger.

I’m glad I’ve gained some valuable perspective from my injury, but I can’t until I can start walking on my own again!

 

May 10, 2012

Another minute ticks away, and I can’t help but notice the sun’s final rays retreating to lands beyond. The heat that must accompany a warm New Orleans Spring day as such is no consequence to me because of my air conditioned room.

I’m comfortable.

On easy street!

It’s Thursday night. I know I should write another article for my blog, but I just don’t have the energy. From the television, Alex Trebek enlightens me with new tid-bits of knowledge that will soon disappear from my mind like the minutes that tick away from my time.

I’m comfortable.

My legs stretch before me with an acceptable excuse that my left foot must be above my heart to discourage blood from settling in the foot of my injured left leg. If my foot hangs down too long, the discoloration in my toes remind me that my body isn’t working normally. My calf muscle which usually assists in sending the blood back to my heart is blocked from movement by the cast. It’s forced into inactivity to allow healing of my Achilles tendon.

It’s ok though, because I’m comfortable.

The inactivity in my leg breeds the inactivity in my mind. However, the inactivity of my mind doesn’t result in a discoloration of an appendage, it results in lethargy of my being.

It’s ok though because I have an excuse. I have to rest while my Achilles tendon heals.

But why does the inactivity of my body directly result in the inactivity of my mind? That’s it, it shouldn’t! However, our bodies and minds are undoubtedly connected and when we stop one, the other one usually follows.

I believe things happen for a reason. For too long, I’ve waited around in my comfortable corporate job and hoped to someday have something more. This was a hope that was only backed up by inactivity and no pursuit.

My legs have been stretched out before me while I ride my bike with my feet on the handle bars. I haven’t been chasing my dreams because I’ve been comfortable. Things have come easy, and I’ve proven to be a success at work. However, I’ve told my wife that I feel like I could do so much more.

And then my legs are taken out from underneath me. Literally. Many people have experienced this same thing through other methods – layoffs, down-sizing, or other health issues. It makes sense, if I’m not even using my legs to chase, why do I even need healthy legs? I can just continue to ride my bike with my feet on the handle bars and be comfortable!

My dreams of pursuing my mission can wait until I’m not so comfortable! Is the purpose of my life, to not do anything that challenges me to the point that I might fail?!

Can you hear my loudening tone??  Can you feel my intensity as I get worked up about this??  Can you feel me ready to give my BATTLE CRY??

Well guess what, it’s not me creating the excitement inside you right now. It’s not me increasing your heartbeat and increasing your anger for shelving that dream. It’s you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood shed with them.”

We embrace inactivity and comfort and are satisfied with our wood shed. If things are going ok with work, and we’re happy with our personal lives, we embrace it. There’s nothing wrong with it. I’m incredibly happy with my relationships, current situation, and I feel very fortunate to have my job. So why can’t I leave well enough alone???

Well, my legs already got knocked out from me once; I’m afraid the next hint will be even less subtle.

I fought the inactivity tonight. One step at a time. I didn’t realize these emotions were stirring in me until I forced myself to start writing. I wanted to watch my TIVO’d “The Daily Show” from last night, but instead I forced myself to write.

In The Call, Oz Guinness wrote, “What is undeniable is that when comforts and convenience sap our energies and idealism, inactivity secretes sloth into our minds like a poison in the blood.”

Take control of your money, use your job as a tool, and continue the good fight!

 

April 3, 2012

Thanks Susan Cooper for creating this awesome graphic!!

Time goes by so fast they say.

You turn around, and it’s the end of the day.

A week, a month, a year goes by;

And before you know it, it’s time to die!

So enjoy every moment and treasure every breath,

Because one thing is certain, you’ll never escape death!

– Dan Meyers

May 3, 2012

At least I’ve learned a few things from my latest injury

I never thought I’d enjoy a shower stool so much… I thought pruning is what stopped me from taking long showers… instead, I think it’s just that my legs got tired!

Shower stool

When you have a cast on your leg you’re always allowed to wear sweatpants. Wearing sweatpants can make you seem athletic…

Sweatpants Athlete

Or wearing sweatpants can make you look homeless.

Homeless Guy Sweatpants

You be the judge!

Dan Meyers injured

I totally get life alert now

LifeAlert

All steps look like this (even my the three steps in my house)!

Scary Steps

Burn the Ships!!

February 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Burn the ships

When faced with a dilemma, one so tough that our backs are against the wall and the only options are to surrender or fight, what do you do?

Would you burn the ships as fabled in Cortes’ capture of the Aztec Empire? As the story goes, Cortes’ men were far outnumbered in a country thousands of miles away from their home. Their backs were against the wall and their options were death or fight. Cortes burned the ships to give them the last bit of motivation they needed to conquer an entire empire!

That’s exactly what we should do when faced with a tough problem… annihilate any options of turning back by taking extreme measures that force us to act. I’m tired of going to work, so I’m going to burn my car!!

Wait, does eliminating your options and back up plans really make sense? Sure, it makes for a great story and certainly helped Cortes conquer a far away nation and steal their treasure! Wait, it doesn’t make Cortes sound as noble when I say he didn’t have the best intentions and instead yearned for treasure and loot. The story just isn’t playing out like it should!

Sorry to break the news, but he didn’t even burn the ships. Instead, according to Wikipedia (so it must be right), Cortes scuttled his ships. This isn’t nearly as sexy as burning them, but he did disable them by sinking them. However, it wasn’t to motivate his men, but to squash their hopes of mutiny and loyalty towards the Governor of Cuba. The Spanish had a settlement in Cuba, and some of the native Cubans wanted to go home instead of fighting for the guy who kidnapped them (Cortes).

The funny part is I was originally going to write this post to talk about “burning the ships” as motivating. It sounds like the way decisions should be made – like the turning point in the movie where the good guy gets in his first punch. He throws in everything he has and comes away victorious.

However, after I started reading the real Cortes explanation and thinking about it, the more burning the ships sounds like a terrible idea in real life issues!! Going back to the example I used earlier, should you really quit your job just to motivate yourself enough to finally find something new? Probably not, I used to think that was the only way, but then I learned how to use my job as a tool to get the things I want and need.

It doesn’t sound nearly as cool, and you won’t be applauded by your friends and family for making the bold and drastic move, but I can guarantee it will work out better a large percentage of the time. The key is to start working on your new options now. Don’t make any more excuses. Now is the time to take action.

This still won’t be enough for most of us to make a change. I didn’t finally make a decision to get out of debt, instead I had a breaking point that brought me to my knees.

When will you make the change? Are you fulfilling your mission while pursuing your passions or just waiting it out on the ship? It’s time to take the first step and get moving on your dream.

It doesn’t have to be drastic, it just has to happen. For Nate, it was baking his first pie. For Chris, it was taking the first step to develop a smart phone application. For me, it was starting to write material and reserving my domain name. From there, I continued to work on something every day. Now, it feels like I’m heading in the right direction and can make something out of this.

You don’t have to burn the ships to start moving in the right direction. What are you doing today to pursue your passion?

February 6, 2012

On the surface, Susan Cooper seems like a person who has faced minimal challenges as she leaped her way up the corporate ladder. Her resume contains a laundry list of executive positions many of us hope for – Vice President, Regional Sales Director, and General Manager.

She’s a proven commodity in the leadership and sales fields. She’s learned her limits are only the ones she places on herself. However, it hasn’t Finding Our Way Now - Susan Cooperalways been that way. Since she was a child, Susan has struggled with dyslexia and has had to cope with a mind that is deceived by the puzzle on the paper. For many who struggle with dyslexia, they’re trapped in an endless maze of hopelessness and frustration.

Susan has done her best to deal with it and has never used it as an excuse. In fact, she’s tried her best to hide it from others because she knows what can happen if she doesn’t. Susan mentioned that a dyslexic child is never treated as a smart child because not many people have the patience to understand them. She used her challenge as a motivator for succeeding in life – and succeed she did.

It was a monumental task for her to climb her way to the top; a task that was aided by assistants checking her written word for errors that could have given her away. She developed a strong network of respected colleagues who admire her for what she’s accomplished.

Now, she wants to walk away from it.

What?! Why would you walk away from something you’ve worked so hard for?!

My only theory is that Susan has built a phenomenal amount of courage over the years, and she’s confident she can take on a new challenge and succeed. She’s left her former co-workers confused at her reasoning for stepping off the corporate ladder.

It’s this courage that helped her fight another difficult challenge that forced her to take her first step – she was recently laid off. Her experience and large price tag prevented employers from pursuing her prowess. This made her question if she even wanted to do this work anymore.

Finding Our Way Now - Susan Cooper1

Her mind was already made up – No.

Susan is rediscovering her love for life, which she had previously abandoned. Her artwork has entered a new spring and her love for it has blossomed as she’s renewed her quest for pursuing her passions. She does some incredible things with her iPad – which includes the two drawings on this page!

She’s even doing something else she thought she’d never be able to do – blog. How could a dyslexic person write a blog? The disconnect from what the mind thinks to what the hand writes must be incredibly challenging. Oh wait, we already know Susan can overcome challenges.

Susan has been in the blogging business for quite a few months, but now she’s taking it to a new level. She just launched her new site – Finding Our Way Now – and will use it to help others find their way in life. She’ll write articles to help you find your way and overcome obstacles we’ll all inevitably face. She’s also coaching women on how to succeed in the business world.

Susan was a very successful executive.

How does Susan describe herself now? Let’s ask her:

“I would have to say I am me, Susan Cooper. The artist, writer, businessperson, out of the box thinker, motivator, teacher, and adventurer. I am a person who looks at each day as a new adventure with the anticipation of what each tomorrow will bring.”

Check out Susan’s new website at: http://findingourwaynow.com/