Archive for Life – Page 2

What I’ve Learned in 40 Years About Maturity

It only took me 40 years to really see how life moves along in themes.
At least in my experience.

Themes of Maturity

My Time Isn’t Just Invaluable, It’s Irreplaceable

The older I’ve gotten, the more I won’t just give my time to anyone who asks or pushes anymore.

I’m very generous with sharing my experiences and expertise.

When asked to speak, or when I write like this, I’ve sought to be more and more vulnerable and transparent in order to help people. Sharing openly what I’ve learned. With the minimal return of knowing I made someone’s life better or easier.

I’m generous with my contacts and relationships. Likely too generous sometimes. If you’re a friend, and I can help you by introducing you to a mutually beneficial relationship, I’m fast to do so. In fact, I love introducing good people to each other just because they are good people who can do good things together, most often without me.

And for so long I was VERY generous with my time. And because of that, I allowed others to dictate the use of my time.

I got run over. I got taken advantage of. I spent time with people or sat through meetings where I literally felt the life draining out of me. And other times I was absolutely horrified and embarrassed to be in the presence of people who didn’t share my values.

Now I’m greedy and stubborn and insanely protective of my time.

Just because I seek to be supremely generous with so much of my life, doesn’t mean I give you free reign to my time and calendar.

So much so that I don’t have voicemail on my phone any longer. I figure if you need to get a hold of me and have my cell phone, you can text or email me, my preferred method of contact.

I usually don’t take blind appointments, without context and expectations, or those that drip of an obnoxious sales call. Just because you call me doesn’t obligate me to answer or return the call.

And I protect our team’s time too. We do that by locking our office up tight, don’t have our business name on the front of the building and have a doorbell that only rings to our executive assistant, who serves as our bouncer (we call her Painkiller).

You get my time generously if … you’re my wife, my children, my team, my partners, my family/friends, and my customers (in that order).

I prioritize those relationships first, so they get dibs on my time. Anything leftover likely goes back to another group in that list.

I’m not a closed door though … you also get some of my time if you’re a good and decent person who wants to learn and grow, and help others.

Here’s what I’ve learned about those who don’t deserve my time …

  • If you’re only seeking your best interest, and not mine or others, I have no time for you.
  • If you want to filibuster and talk the entire time (in particular about yourself), I have no time for you. I reserve those things for videos, talks that I choose to attend.
  • If you only want to use me, exploit me or others, I have no time for you.
  • If you don’t respect my time by actually showing up and being on time, I’m likely to give you one or two strikes, then mark you off.
  • If you treat the others in my life as trash instead of treasure, I’ll discard you too.
  • If you don’t respect healthy boundaries, I have no time for you.
  • If you’re unkind, rude, hateful, belligerently and unrightfully angry to me, I will boot you.
  • If you’re unkind, rude, hateful, belligerently and unrightfully angry to OTHER people, especially the ones I listed above but also to strangers, I won’t spend time with you.
  • If you don’t share the belief that we’re all created equal but different, I’d rather substitute you for one of other 7+ billion people on the planet who does.
  • And finally, if you don’t give me good expectations for what you want to talk about, what your goals and mission are, for you’re seeking to help, how long you want to talk about it, and then without my consent go over time, it’s likely going to be really tough in the future to have a follow-up with me.

Try to get my time like that and I’ll say: Ain’t no one got time for that.

And this isn’t me saying I’m more important than anyone else, or even trying to rant or complain … it’s merely saying, I possess and am the steward of a limited resource that I don’t intend to squander what’s left of on those who aren’t worthy of it.

It’s also sharing what I value most (the opposite of the ‘Ain’t Got Time For That’ list). And who I’m striving to be as a human being, dad, teammate, leader, entrepreneur, and friend.

And, yes, if you get upset about all of this, then you just self-selected yourself out …

So thanks for saving me time.

For those of you who are on the list, or share my values but aren’t currently on the list, I can’t wait to share my time with you.

How about you? How are you managing the scarcest, non-renewable resource you have? And specifically who or what do you have in your life that’s pirating your precious time? And how do you scrub them/it out?

The Path To A Better World

I’m confident the path to a better world is through understanding, respecting and then treasuring our differences.

When we see and believe in each other as all unique pieces in a masterful, beautiful puzzle, then we can feel the pride and purpose that comes with contributing to each other’s betterment.

We can then say we were part of something bigger and better rather than the fractured and dysfunctional people we too often are, daily by our actions discounting the reason that makes us unique and wonderful.

Just as I cannot do all things, but rather a few things well and good, others come in to offer their greatness.

That’s true wholeness and oneness and exponentially powerful.

We were created as equals but different and unique for a reason.

We need our differences, to come together as one, for each other.

That’s the world I want my children to eagerly rush into as they discover their unique purpose and place in it, and then to be fully free to give of themselves wholly to it.

I’m not sure I may see it … but my hope is forever in us, and them, to finally accomplish it.

Carry Your Own Bags

One of the amazing takeaways I’ve had from my experience in the Oklahoma chapter Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a saying I’ve heard often:

Carry Your Own Bags

The idea is … what you get out of the experience is what you make of it.

Your experience, happiness and fulfillment is your responsibility. Period.

It’s particularly appropriate within a group of successful entrepreneurs, but it applies to the rest of life as well — from your career, your business, traveling, or doing anything new or novel in your life.

And the effect of this advice has been profound for me — revolutionizing my life and business as I’ve actively employed it.

It forces me to say in any experience:

How will I make the most and best of this?

For instance, we have two toddlers. At one point, they were both in diapers. Sometimes, saying no to a toddler is an experience in hostage negotiation.

It’s tough, physically draining, emotionally exhausting work at times.

One would start sleeping through the night while the other was waking up. Or one would get sick. And then the other would too just as the first was getting better. Or it would rain and we couldn’t let them out in the backyard to burn off some energy. Or [insert every excuse to have a bad day and blame it on someone or something else here].

(Right now, if you’re thinking I was acting like my toddlers, you would be correct.)

And through it all, my wife Lindsey would often say … they are only this small for this time, let’s enjoy it.

To be honest, in the midst of a tough day, I didn’t want to hear that. Instead, I wanted to wallow in the misery of it. And ultimately, deep down, I wanted someone else to carry my bags, my responsibility and fix everything instantly so I could be happier.

But slowly I started realizing how right she was … and I said to myself: I must own my experience. I must make the most of it. Indeed, one day they will leave our nest and I’ll crave having them sit in my lap while I read a book to them.

My thinking, my attitude changed. For the better. And so did my experiences with them.

Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days still. But it totally reframes my experience of it and seeks to move the needle from negative to positive.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty says, “Your thinking is your experience.” And she writes that experts claim 30-40 percent of our experience is what we think about it.

With a slight tweak, this is how I think about Carrying Your Own Bags now:

Your Attitude Is Your Experience.

I’ve done numerous things with a poor and negative attitude and made it worse for myself. I clouded my thinking to only see the bad. And in turn, I’ve spoiled countless experiences in my life as a result.

Bring a terrible attitude into the experience and the likelihood of you having a bad experience is pretty high.

You get what you put into it.

In fact, I’ve written before about how I changed my thinking and approach to attending an annual conference for WordPress entrepreneurs changed from terrible to awesome in one year.

It was all my attitude and approach.

It was completely my responsibility and fault that I previously had a bad time. No one could (or should have) made me happier, because that was totally on me.

So I took a step back, realized if I was going to keep going (my choice by the way), I needed to make some major adjustments.

Since doing that, now I thoroughly enjoy the event and it’s on my “Don’t Miss This” list every year.

Night and day difference … just by my attitude and approach.

So now with any experience (new or otherwise) I seek to switch my attitude from negative to positive. I try to reassess how I could be happier in the midst of a formerly bad time or event. I seek to be more open and flexible. I set aside my bias, past bad experiences and frankly, crankiness, and look to the brighter side and be productive and positive with my time in any experience.

I say to myself: “This is my day. This is my time. How do I make the most of this?”

This is my life. This is my time. And I’m going to carry my own bags through it.

What experiences are you expecting others to carry your baggage through?

What attitudes and approach could you change today to make your experiences better?

And then think how changing just a one thing — your attitude — could drastically make everything look and feel better.

It’s a better way to live.

40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years

I turned 40 this week. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for the last year, and it finally happened.

So for my own sake, and for my children, and others who might enjoy it, I challenged myself to write 40 things I’ve learned in 40 years on earth.

Please note: I reserve the right to be wrong, to change and amend anything, but I think this is it. Mileage may vary. But grey hairs persist.

Here goes:

  1. Life, happiness and success is ALL about people and relationships and the special times you share together. Thus, always be seeking to build great epic relationships. I have so many now that I’m thankful for but I’m selfish and want more good relationships and deeper ones with the people I have now. In fact, last year, I started my top 100 relationships list.
  2. Choosing the right mate was the single most important decision I have made in my life for my health and happiness and success. And the biggest priority for my no. 1 relationship is devoting quality time together, loving each other in your Love Language, going on weekly dates (or whatever gets Quality Time together), and constantly be aligning your goals and dreams.
  3. Life is a book. Chapters end, new ones begin. It’s not about one event, it’s the overall story you’re telling. Remarkably, I’ve found life does go on. Sometimes I wanted some chapters to end too fast, instead of savoring the moment. But my goal is to craft each chapter so the story just gets better and better.
  4. A lot of chapters in my book are people. And people come and go. That’s just part of life.
  5. Life is a roller coaster, with highs and lows, twists and turns. Sometimes it feels out of your control. And knowing that I seek daily to control only what I can control (my thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions). Knowing I’m on a roller coaster helps me manage that better. And in the context of people, purpose and values it helps me more, do more, have more and better.
  6. Regarding the lows. Sometimes life sucks, and then you get back up again. Always get back up. Even when it really sucks to get up. Sometimes you need help. Sometimes you need to wallow it in for a season, then just get back up. Things happen and that’s what we call the past. But ALWAYS get back up though and keep moving forward.
  7. I’ve not arrived, and hope I never think I do or will. There is always something to learn, a new challenge to face.
  8. Be bold(er). Live bold(er). If I had one regret for my first 40 years, it was that I wasn’t bolder. I wish I had taken more chances and believed in the potential I have to offer the world of my time, talent and treasure here. Sadly I devalued and undervalued who I am and what I have to offer the world. That’s waste. And too often because of that I let people run over or trample me. This book changed my life for the better.
  9. Being myself, discovering who I am, and then being true, every day, to who I am, is truest freedom and treasure I savor every day. Coming into my 40s, I think I know most of who I am, yet have more to discover. However, the parts I’ve discovered … I’m immensely proud of. I won’t give those up. It’s me, take it or leave it. For those who don’t respect or cherish that, I’ve gotten better at showing them the exit sign of my life.
  10. Time is the rarest, most valuable currency. Spend it wisely. (HT to Lindsey Miller for teaching me this.)
  11. Laughing is healing. Laughing is happiness. I want to put myself in more situations to laugh out loud, belly laugh, laugh until I cry, laugh until I pee my pants … and laugh together with the people i love … more. My dirty secret is YouTube fail videos. Our team has been doing monthly-ish hangouts at one of our houses. I love sitting by the fire, sharing a good meal and libations and telling our funny stories.
  12. Conflict and troubles and storms of life add seasoning and flavor to it. Although I don’t enjoy them in the moment, it makes me so much more grateful for my life and who is in it. This is one aspect I’m trying to be in the moment more for, to understand the place and value of those things in order to live a better life.
  13. Setting healthy boundaries for what and who I will allow in my life has been a key, non-negotiable element to my happiness and health. In the moment, it sucks, but the reward has always been a brighter tomorrow. Been trying to tweak this belief but it’s something to this effect: Always love yourself with respect and compassion, but not at harm of others’ health and happiness … and … Always love others richly and deeply, but not at the harm of your health and happiness.
  14. Investing in people always holds the greatest return on investment of my time, talent and treasure. I’ve found nothing else comes close to its reward and joy.
  15. My purpose in life is to make people’s lives awesome.
  16. Sometimes you have to … DANCE IT OUT. For a season in our marriage, when Lindsey and I would get a little heated or frustrated at each other, whether it’s an argument, or just flat out fight, we’d say, “OK, dance it out.” The rule is non-negotiable … you must stop talking and start dancing. Sometimes it’s a low-effort shoulder roll, other times it’s full-on break dancing, depending on our moods. But its effect has been profound for us. It breaks the tension and forces you to try to smile. This applies to all of life too. I think maybe the other translation for this is: Don’t take yourself too serious. Goofiness, which I come by naturally, helps … oh and I’m a terrible dancer.
  17. True friends rush in, while everyone else runs out. If there was one good benefit to hard times for me, it’s realizing who’s with you and who isn’t. And since my time is precious, I only want to spend it with those who walk with me on the long road. As I scan my life today, I cherish and am so deeply thankful for the special set of people who love me and who I love so deeply. #pals
  18. Hope, optimism and positivity are indispensable for life and happiness. They should be my Default settings. I spent too much time with my Default set to Negative. As Barbara Bradley Hagerty writes in her awesome book, Life Reimagined, “Your thinking is your experience.” It’s something I’m seeking to be more conscious of every day.
  19. I am lucky. I want to be lucky. Shawn Achor in his book “The Happiness Advantage” shares a research study about luck that changed my attitude altogether (Essentially, if you think you’re lucky, you’re able to see opportunities more clearly). So I consider myself even more lucky now. (For years, I carried around a fortune cookie that read: “You will be unusually successful in business.”) And I know I’ve had a huge amount of luck, combined with hard work and seeking to do right and good by people.  But I want to make the best of my good fortune and luck and always be on the lookout for new opportunities. If life is a lime (I like limes), I want to squeeze all of the juice out of it for my special cocktail.
  20. Everybody hurts, and it’s OK to ask for help. I’m not alone. Don’t try it alone. Thinking about life as an iceberg helps me.
  21. Guilt is useless. I wallowed in it too much for needless things.
  22. Don’t live your dreams. Choose them. And then have dreams big enough for several lifetimes. In my late 30s I realized I had accomplished everything I set out and dreamed of doing in my adolescence. Then I was left a bit empty and wondering, “Is this as good as it gets?” I have been formulating bigger, bolder dreams ever since.
  23. Jealousy, bitterness, envy are some of the most damaging obstacles to my happiness and health. They are self-inflicted. I now seek to be happy for others, while quickly refocusing on what I want.
  24. “Anger and frustration come from unmet expectations.” (HT my business mentor Michael Smith) Whenever I get angry, I try to ask myself what expectation of myself or someone else I had. Is it something I can correct, or does someone else need to change? And I can only control myself and my expectations.
  25. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And going together has been more fun and exponentially more impactful. We resonate and follow people who share two qualities: Caring and Cause.
  26. I was never into fashion, still am not, however, having clothes that fit and that I feel and look good in are such an incredible boost to my self esteem, confidence and happiness.
  27. What I might have lacked in mentors or experience, I made up for by reading and learning. I’m where I am today because I am a voracious reader and would likely wither and die if I stopped learning new things.
  28. Obstacles are opportunities, Cory. Obstacles are opportunities, Cory. Obstacles are opportunities, Cory. Marcus Aurelius said, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” This book has become my mantra for life, so much so I bought the audiobook so I could listen to it while I drive.
  29. Look to the future, while savoring the present. I love thinking about the future, but too many times neglected being thankful for and dwelling in what my present held for me. When I focused too much on the future, I wasn’t grateful for what I had.
  30. Writing is therapy. It’s so many others things, but last year I started writing in a private journal (typing actually). It’s been such an amazing thing for me. In fact, this post started out as a journal entry on my 40th birthday.
  31. Ignore the noise. Stupid people don’t matter anyway. (HT Lisa Sabin-Wilson) What matters is you, your team/family and and the people you’re trying to help.
  32. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I like and what I don’t like … and in the middle of that and just growing older and letting myself submit to crankiness, I found I became more persnickety and less open to trying new things. And some things about myself I may need to change.
  33. I have lived in one of the best, most incredible times in history and I’m so thankful for that. Now we have a huge opportunity. I am both excited and scared for what the future holds, in particular for my children. But I think the best is yet to come.
  34. After changing jobs on average every two years since I was 16, I finally found the best job ever, the one meant for me — Entrepreneur. After 8 years, I still have to pinch myself.
  35. Parenting is THE hardest job I have ever had. (Thank God I have an amazing partner and mother along for the journey.) I naively thought instinctively I would be an awesome dad. That somehow I just woke up one day and was awesome. And then I had kids and realized how much I have to learn and improve. Just recently I realized I had to change some things about myself and I’m working on those. Also: I wish I could have thumped myself in the nose every time I saw a parent and made a judgment about them in the past. But my dad was right … my children, although they are utterly exhausting and frustrating at times, beyond the love of my life, my wife, are the best gifts ever. The special moments I’ve had with them in the last 3+ years have been some of the best in my life.
  36. The mind is the most powerful tool I have to improve. I can program it. It takes what I give it. And mostly I gave it crap. Too often I fed it lies. Or more powerful took the thoughts of others as truth, or even more sadly my perceptions of what others thought as Gospel.
  37. Perfect sucks. It’s an illusion and a lie. It is a thief that steals the time, talent and treasure we have to offer the world.
  38. Genuineness and vulnerability are a rare gift you offer the world. It’s something people crave. The more I’ve opened up about myself, and what I’ve experienced or feel, the more it’s drawn people in.
  39. Rest, relaxation and recreation are vital to health and happiness. I’ve gotten better at this and discovering the things I can do to get a recharge. When I’m on Empty, I’m not very good for anyone, let alone myself.
  40. All the experiences, lessons, relationships and resources I’ve accumulated in my first 40 years will help me make the most of the next 40 and beyond. (HT Rebecca Gill) Go big. Go bold. Make the most of what I have to be and do better.

Here’s to the next 40!

P.S. — While the hair on my head has thinned and greyed … ear hair never stops growing. To the 20 or 30 year old reading this please know, the hair on your head retreats and replants in awkward places. Facts of life, people!