Your Gift from the Universe: PROBLEMS

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all enjoying a few days with friends and family, unplugged (except to read this blog, of course), relaxing and reflecting on all there is that you are thankful for.

I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my company and team. I am grateful for the books I read. I am grateful for the mentors in my life. I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my emotional fitness. And ultimately, I am grateful for challenges and problems because that’s where growth happens.

Earlier this week I was reading The Obstacle is the Way and the book really gave me a major aha moment. We encounter problems every day, don’t we? So, why do we always resist them? As I continue to grow my life and my businesses more problems are going to show up. And that’s a good thing! Problems are a sign of life. Problems are an opportunity.

Have you ever noticed that after reflecting on a problem or challenge in the past, you realized that the problem actually guided you to make decisions you may not have before and maybe moved you in a direction you wouldn’t have thought to go in? That catastrophic problem three years ago may have ended up being the best thing that happened to you. Maybe it led you to your partner. Maybe it led you to a new career. Maybe it led you to quitting your job and traveling around the world where you then met your partner! Whatever it is, embrace it. Problems show up to guide us on our journey through life, forcing us to make decisions, work harder, create new relationships, choose a different path, do something that will ultimately benefit us later in life. Have confidence that the problem showed up for a reason, because you needed to learn, you needed to grow, you needed to step up and break through mediocrity, you needed to move in a different direction, you needed to face a fear, you needed to push through a limiting belief, or you needed to start a new business. Trust in the problems. Embrace them.

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Sure, in the moment, the problem is a pain in the ass, but if you can shift your mindset to seeing these problems as little gifts from the universe, as opportunities, then you’re already winning. Use problems as fuel to live an even bigger life. Embrace your problems and truly, I mean truly, love them. Love each problem like it’s a million dollars (that changes your perspective doesn’t it?). If you love your problems, it will keep you in action and your beliefs and values will guide you towards making a decision. You always have a choice.

And really, it all comes back to emotional fitness, doesn’t it? Words are just words and events are just events; it’s the meaning you attach to those words and events that can change your world positively or negatively. You can be pissed off at something that happened to you, but don’t let that define you. You’ve got to learn to separate you inner world from the outer world. The inner world (your thoughts, your emotions, your spirit, your being) is all that we can control. It’s all you should try to control given that we live in such an uncertain world. You can’t control external events. If you try, you will be failing perpetually.

Life is unfair. Period. I hope that’s not news to you. Do we want to avoid conflict, and chaos, and challenges, and problems? Of course. But if you wake up every day and work on yourself and your emotional fitness to prepare for unforeseen challenges, you’ll already be who you need to be to handle whatever problem comes your way. Most athletes train for years for that one moment that they’ll cross the finish line first at Kona or the CrossFit Games, or that one swing or pass that wins the game. Even if we never have those moments, we understand the importance of training our bodies for health and energy. Why do we not train our minds? We just pray that problems won’t show up, instead of training for them daily.

problems_are_giftsAnd that’s why we fear problems. We’ve never been trained on how to handle them! Well, let me let you in on a little secret, the best way to learn how to handle problems is to have more problems in your life – bigger and more complex problems. And as you grow professional, personally, and spiritually bigger problems are going to be thrown at you. Trust me. The world is testing us and knows we can handle it (even if we don’t know that we can at the time). Problems are designed to increase our emotional fitness, to increase our integrity and morality, to increase our growth and our spirit. When we die, I believe that we are going to look back at those challenging moments, those problems, where faith, trust, and personal growth showed up as some as our proudest and most life changing memories. Don’t back down from your problems – step into them and embrace them as the opportunities that they are.

Problems are a sign of life. Problems are your greatest gift. This holiday season I challenge you to reflect on all the problems you have encountered over the past year and say thank you for them – really say thank you. And think about how you have grown from those experiences. Some of your darkest days are where you experience the most profound growth. Give thanks to the universe for your problems and share your moments below!
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Drive Your Team Forward by Staying Neutral and Working on Your Emotional Fitness

driveYou all know I’m a driver. A hard driver. I believe that when building your company and crushing your goals you should put your foot on the gas and drive a few nails through it. Drive forward. Drive faster. Never give up, never go backwards. Go, go, go!

But when it comes to making decisions – whether that is deciding to hire a new employee, taking on a new projects, or entering into a new business venture – I believe you need to slow down in order to speed up. Hit the breaks and put it into neutral.

Staying neutral is one of the defining characteristics of a leader. It’s not just about staying outwardly calm (which  is definitely important), but staying impartial when there is a decision to be made ever 2.6 seconds.

So what does staying neutral really mean and where does it come into play?

Well, have you ever been interviewing someone and as you start to discuss their interests outside of work and they say I love to hike with my dog and you ask, “What kind of dog? “A Chesapeake Bay Retriever,” they answer. And before you know it you have told the candidate about how you got a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Chessy for your 5th birthday and she was your best friend and you missed your PSAT when she died and you haven’t been able to have a dog since and you’ve totally bonded with your candidate and you know that they are definitely the best fit for the accounting position. Really neutral, right?

When interviewing candidates, it’s one of the most important times to stay neutral. Stay curious, ask questions, and let them do the talking. Do not look for commonalities. Listen for information, for red flags, for patterns, and for their track record. You are not there to hire someone you want to hang out with on a Saturday night – that’s what Match.com is for. You’re there to assess whether that candidate is the best fit for your organization.

And what about those times when you are dealing with an internal or external company issue? Your leadership team wants to open a franchise in an unknown territory. You are weighing whether to self-finance or bring in investors on a new development deal. You are reorganizing your company and need to restructure positions and lay off employees. How do you handle those moments of conflict, chaos, and multiple choices? The best way? Stay neutral. You must train yourself to come at these issues from curiosity, and not judgement. You must not have any preconceived notions about the outcome. You must be able to see the issues from both sides and argue for or against either one. Stay impartial. Ask questions. Weigh the facts. Then make a decision.

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Two of my amazing little humans, Sienna and Asher.

And then there is staying neutral as a parent. Your emotions, your decisions, your words will leaving a lasting impression on your kids for years to come. What type of parent do you want to be? One that hands down decrees from your throne of Parenthood? One that allows the kids the run the show? Or one that allows your children to develop into amazing little humans through asking questions, considering options, and making decisions together – no matter how long of a day your had or what mood you are in? I hope we all pick option three and let me tell you, that one will take a lot of emotional fitness.

As a leader, when everyone else is going left, and you know that you must go right. Go right. When shit is hitting the fan and emotions are high – it is your responsibility as a leader to stay neutral. How can you make a decision if you are all jacked up – either positively or negatively. If you are in an incredibly good mood you may make a decision that is too bullish, or if you are in a negative state you may make a decision that prevents your company or team from moving forward. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the heat or despair of the moment. Stay neutral.

So here’s the thing. We’re all human and being human means we come with a whole lot of emotions and opinions. Staying neutral doesn’t mean that you don’t have an opinion, it just means that you wield your opinion like a weapon – only when necessary. It’s not always easy to do, which means you must work on creating emotional fitness all the time – always increasing your capacity to stay calm and neutral.

Easier said then done, right? How do  you work on your emotional fitness in order to stay neutral? The first step is recognizing and accepting whatever experience (good or bad) you are having as just that, an experience. The people who do not attach an outcome to the experience can remain neutral because it is the intrinsic value of the experience that is important, not a feeling. The next step is to find an outlet to work on your emotional fitness so you CAN stay neutral no matter what is happening in the world or your world. So what is your outlet? Is it 10 minutes of meditation? Is it running? Is it yoga? Is it prayer? Is it journaling? Find the outlet that allows you to slow down and allows thoughts to come in and out of your mind. Thoughts are energy and they exist all around us. As you are practicing your emotional fitness don’t cling to the thoughts and don’t pull the thoughts towards you, just allow them to flow; this keeps your mind and body in a neutral state.

You are a leader. You must stay neutral, you must gather all information, hear all sides, let others be heard, and then make your opinion known or make your decision. As a leader, you must stay neutral in the midst of chaos, which in turn allows you to live in a place of abundance every day.

So what are your outlets for staying neutral? Do you even know what being neutral looks like? If not, it’s time to put on your emotional fitness gear and get to work. Practice your emotional fitness daily. Practice moving into and staying in a neutral state. Do not equate neutrality with passivity; neutrality is power. Use it to drive yourself and your team forward to living the biggest life possible.

 

 

7 Business Building Lessons That Trump Politics

In case you missed it, earlier this week our country elected a new President. I’m not going to get into a political discussion here, but I will say this – our country needed to disrupt itself. And it did.
Businessman and business sketch
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Anarchist, etc., I believe we are all masters of our own destiny. It does not matter where you live, your religion, your race, your education, your economic background – in this great country – we all have the ability to realize our dreams by putting in the time and being willing to do the work. For me, that came in the form of entrepreneurship. Today, the barriers to entering the world of business are so small. All you really need is a computer, an internet connect, a great idea, and a whole lot of grit.
Building businesses is my passion. Maybe it’s your’s too? Here are a few things I’ve learned while building my organization over the past ten years.
  1. Do you want to build a business or do you want to run a business? They are not the same! I am a horrible CEO. I can not deal with the daily minutia of running a company. But I can come up with innovative ideas, spread the vision, inspire action, and attract top talent to my company. So I stick with that. If you love being a part of the daily action, then perhaps you need to align yourself with a visionary who can inspire you and help you think bigger. And if you are a visionary, you sure as hell better hire a great operator to run your business!
  2. If you want to create a new division or start a completely new division, make sure you hire someone to run that first, or else you will just end up with another job. First WHO, then what. If you start a new division and are running that yourself, you become addicted to the income from that job and it may prevent you from growing your world larger. So start with talent. Give them the opportunity. Let them grow the division/business.
  3. Pay yourself a salary and take the rest of the money off the table. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Can you live frugally enough to invest profit into people or a new division?
  4. Fail forward fast! You’re not always going to make the right decision, but I guarantee you will learn from it and make a better decision the next time. A majority of business building is just overcoming mistakes, pushing through challenges and fighting forward. The faster you can do this, the better! Do not fear the fight.
  5. Learn to embrace the suck and find an outlet. For me, it’s mediation and exercise. Whatever it is for you, just make sure you have time built into your schedule every day that allows you to step away from the business and create mental space. Your best ideas and the solutions to challenges that have been plaguing you will usually come when you are reading, hiking, or playing with your kids.
  6. At some point in your career, you will spend hours just reading and thinking and working on yourself. This is not selfish. It is necessary in order to attract talent and empire builders into your life. It is necessary so that you are consonantly increasing your knowledge so you can pour back into your people. Staying one step ahead of your team will be your mission. Investing into yourself daily is the way to get it done.
  7. Support your employees and remove roadblocks. It is not your job to hold their hand and do the work for them. It is your job to lead yourself first so that you can be the best leader for them. It is your job to teach and help your team work on their mindset so that they can continue to grow.

future

Some people may feel like the future of our country is uncertain, and those feelings are completely valid. But I am totally certain of my future, of the future of my companies, of the future of my family. I am building the world I want to live in every day. It’s a crazy, exciting, challenging, maddening, amazing journey. If you’re interested in building something great with me, let’s talk.

Fight forward. 

If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going. And Say Thank You

I’ve been battling a cold for a couple of weeks, I’ve been getting up at 3:30am to get in my training for the Ironman, my week has been jam-packed with meetings (from my attorney, to my accountant, to my dentist, to coaching, to several webinars, to a company Murder Mystery Night), and I lost my voice at least twice. And I am grateful for every minute of it.
Those moments when you are your lowest and you’ve got problems coming at you from every angle – your business, your family, your health – say thank you. Problems are a sign of life. There is a gift in every one of life’s challenges you just have to stop and find it.
I’m loving this video right now that really sums it up. No matter what is happening, if you’re still alive, still breathing. Good. You have more to give.
good
We’ve all heard that gratitude is the antidote to fear, but gratitude is really the antidote to all of life’s challenges. Have you ever tried to be grateful and angry at the same time. Try it right now. It’s just not possible. Gratitude will win every time. And the more your practice gratitude the more you can change your state (and change it faster), when things aren’t quite going your way.
Here are awesome ideas on how to incorporate gratitude into your life:
  • Write in a gratitude journal daily (I have one for every day and one I specifically write for my wife).
  • Give a compliment to someone at least once a day
  • When you are at a red light, say 3 things you are grateful for before it turns green
  • At dinner with friends or family, go around the table and have every one share what they are grateful for
  • Take time to thank customer service professionals (your cashier, barista, receptionist, pizza delivery guy, etc.) by making eye contact, saying their name, and saying thank you
  • Share gratitude every day by tweeting or posting on Instagram or Facebook what you are grateful for
  • Check out this article for even more ideas
30-days-of-gratitude-templateYou can join our 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge on Facebook right now!
Want to take those feelings of gratitude a step further? GIVE. When you’re down and stressing about what is going wrong in your life give your time, give money, give a cup of coffee, just give to someone else. If you’re not where you want to be, it’s because you are making it about yourself. So go make it about someone else. Several times throughout my life I’ve been looking at my financials, or lost out on a development deal, or invested into a new software that didn’t work out, and instead of getting stuck on the fact that I lost money – I went and randomly gave $100 bills to people. It wasn’t easy, but it was what I needed to do to remember that I am richly blessed in many ways and money is only good for the good that it can do. I also believe that whatever you put out into the world, you will get back 10 fold or more. And sure enough, that deal I lost out on, just meant that the next day two new deals came across my desk or I got a reimbursement check for $1000 I wasn’t expecting.
going-through-hellThanksgiving is just three weeks away and it seems to be the one time a year that people stop and give thanks for everything they have. But what if we did that every day? Think of the power you could have over your attitude, your actions, and better yet, the influence you would have on other people. You never know when that one act of giving or appreciating what someone did for you could change the course of someone else’s life.
But the person it will impact the most is YOU. When you are going through hell… keep going. And don’t forget to say thank you along the way.
I’d love to hear what you are all grateful for! Share in the comments below and then go compliment, say thank you, or go give to someone else!