Archive for Life – Page 3

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!

The Iceberg of Life

Note: I shared these ideas and stories around The Iceberg of Life from my own life — successes AND struggles — at PressNomics 4 in March 2016 and then again in December 2016 at WordCamp US. And now I’m finally getting to share it more broadly. Thinking about life and business like this has been incredibly impactful for me and it seemed to resonate with those I shared it with at PN4. And full disclosure: I am not a professional or licensed counselor, just sharing my experiences in the hopes that they/this might help you. Comments, ideas, suggestions and of course stories are welcome in the comments below or to me personally. Here goes!


Life Looks More Like An Iceberg

So much of life (and being an entrepreneur in particular) can be explained with the example of the simple iceberg.

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We See Mostly Above The Surface Stuff

On top of the surface are the things that everyone sees … or more importantly, what you WANT everyone to see.

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It’s all the successes. The wins. The highs of life. The hoorays. It’s the LEGO movie theme song: “Everything is AWESOME!” The really, really good stuff of life you readily share and are excited about.

But for so many of us, it’s also the Press Release version of what’s really happening as that’s the only thing most people see or know about.

But Lurking Below The Surface

But I think this image of the iceberg paints a more accurate and full picture of what many of our lives look like, from time to time. And from my personal experience, it is all the things that affect everyday life, even if you don’t realize it, whether it’s traumatic childhood experiences, chronic pain, self-doubt and worry, to relationship problems.

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And then for some of us, it’s life week to week, day to day, or moment by moment. The Below the Surface stuff that’s buried down deep, in the dark. The stuff we hide. That we obfuscate. That we share with few people or no one at all. And the deeper you go, the darker it gets.

And thus, at the very bottom of the iceberg could be suffering and depression. For many people today, depression is an ongoing battle.

You’re Not Alone

In the essence of sharing, and to show you’re not alone, I’ll share a couple of details from my life in 2010-2011. Here’s what the Above the Surface looked like and many people saw during that time.


As you can see, lots of good stuff and many (but not all) of the ways I’d define “success.”

I lived a lifelong dream by co-authoring my first commercially published book from one of my favorite book brands — Wiley’s For Dummies series. We also launched our hit product — BackupBuddy — which continues to be the cornerstone of our business. And our little fledgling startup hit $1 Million in revenue as an important milestone in the life of it. I rarely if ever talk about numbers, but this was a neat metric, what I refer to as our high score in the video game I call iThemes, and something we celebrated.

What I am reminded by sharing these things are how good I’ve become at making the Above the Stuff stuff look so good, while Below the Surface I’m filled with hurt and doubt.

I’m really good at the Success part … but realized I need help with the Struggling part.

Because the reality of my life at the time was this is what my Iceberg fully looked like.


But below the surface, I was miserable and at different points was at the lowest points of my life.

Personally, I was going through a tough divorce, with deep relational and financial consequences. And professionally, I was miserable in my work for a number of reasons I won’t get into here.

I’ve talked at length in this post titled Everybody Hurts and It’s OK to Ask for Help, as well as spoken publicly on it numerous times since the summer of 2015.

It’s become a huge part of my mission and purpose of life — to share my stories in order to help others seek and get help, and to erase the stigma of mental health in the world.

And this is just one small facet of my Iceberg during one period of time in my life. Today, my Iceberg looks difference, but there are still things lurking under the surface (I just deal with them differently).

Yet the message I want to send to you by sharing this Iceberg story is this:

You’re Not Alone & Don’t Go It Alone

Since that pivotal time in my life, I’ve learned the value of an inner circle support team, and worked hard to build that layer of accountability, support and love around me.

These are the people who help me most with my Iceberg. The kind who when others run out of your life, they in turn will run into yours to provide love, care and support. Whether it’s just a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to help guide your path when you’re in the deep and scary dark.

Here’s are some of the key players on that team:

  1. My wife, Lindsey. She’s my first and primary partner in all of life, and my most important relationship. Without her ongoing support and love, I couldn’t do what I do every day. And she’s a cornerstone of my happiness.
  2. My sidekick, Matt. He’s my No. 1 business relatiosnship (who also happens to be one of my best friends in life). As the Chief Operating Officer at iThemes, he manages the bulk of our people and projects, and makes my life awesome as I seek to make his awesome. #pals
  3. My mentor, Smitty aka Michael Smith. Along with my business partners, Scott and Jay, he is the type of man and entrepreneur I am seeking to be. He’s been there, done it. He is older, more mature, and more experienced than me. Our values and approach to life and business are very much aligned. I admire him greatly and seek his counsel often.
  4. My counselor, Kyle. I’ve been seeing Kyle since 2010. He’s a licensed, experienced counselor who I deeply respect. My wife and I now put reminders on our calendar each quarter to make an appointment, and then separately in-between our scheduled times we book appointments with him to work through our Below the Surface stuff.
  5. Like-Minded Entrepreneurs. Since 2011, I’ve been meeting with my forum group of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Oklahoma chapter every month, for three hours. In that time, I’ve gotten married, had two kids and our business and my happiness has increased greatly because of this group of entrepreneurs walking together. There are also a lot of other entrepreneurs I put in this category who aren’t part of EO, and cherish those relationships.

I value these relationships so much because I know that through the ups and downs of life and entrepreneurship, I have people who love, care and support me and I can turn to when I need them.

They make the difference for me, and why they are my All-Star Support Team.

My Challenge To You Today … 

So now, I have a challenge for you. One I would have put to myself a long time ago and saved myself some heartache and hurt and loneliness.

The challenge and battle is to not suffer silently. Or alone. To seek and get help when you don’t need it, so you have it when you do need it. To build a support team around you.

You’re not alone.
So don’t try it alone.

To nudge you in that direction, I have some homework for you that I’ve found extremely helpful for me. Just a simple exercise to think about your Iceberg.

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Download your Iceberg Homework Here ]

First, print out the PDF in this post or take a piece of paper and draw an simple iceberg.

Next, start thinking on and listing out your Below the Surface issues, challenges and problems. What’s keeping you up at night? What’s causing you heartburn? What’s causing you the most pain and suffering?

Then third, list out 3 things you’re most grateful for today. Researchers and experts say that gratitude is a huge antidote to the blues and a key to happiness. So often, when I’m dealing with something deep down and hurtful and suffering through it, I try to take a step back and say, “OK, what am I thankful for?” Take just 5 minutes to think and write about those things and then another 5 minutes to dwell on and savor them.

And finally, list out 3-5 people who you know will be there for you when you need it most. The ones you can lean on when times get rough, and walk with day to day. Who are those people you count on? Who are those people you can and do share the deepest Under the Surface things going on in your life? (And I’d challenge you to send an email, a text or give one of them a call today to check in.)

OK, so that’s my perspective and insights on the Iceberg of life, the simple things, and more importantly the key people who help me so much to deal with the iceberg of life.

I hope you’ll set aside some time to work on your Iceberg today, this week, and regularly, for your own health and happiness.

And again, share your thoughts and stories in the comments below, or with me privately.

How to Build Your Self-Esteem for Health and Happiness

Just added a new book to my All-Time, Ultimate Reading List titled The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden.

I wish I had started reading this book when I was a teenager, and read it every year afterward. Foundational, impactful, truth for health and happiness.

“To trust one’s mind and to know that one is worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem.”

The benefit of self-esteem …. “lies not merely in the fact that it allows us to feel better but that it allows us to live better—to respond to challenges and opportunities more resourcefully and more appropriately.”

To live better, to feel worthy of happiness, to be able to respond to life’s curveballs? Sign me up!

What’s more … Branden, a psychotherapist, says:

Self-esteem—high or low—tends to be a generator of self-fulfilling prophecies.

According to Branden, the Six Pillars of Self-Esteem are:

  1. The Practice of Living Consciously
  2. The Practice of Self-Acceptance
  3. The Practice of Self-Responsibility
  4. The Practice of Self-Assertiveness
  5. The Practice of Living Purposefully
  6. The Practice of Personal Integrity

The “Sentence-Completion” and other exercises throughout the book are INCREDIBLE, making this an actionable book, not just something to warm your heart.

I went through one exercise about accepting your feelings as they are (even if you don’t like it) and had an enormous breakthrough in understanding an emotion (anxiety, fear about a situation) I’ve been dealing with deeply and continue to. I came away with a more profound understanding of who I am and what drives me. I won’t be exercising this feeling again without knowing its true depths and roots.

Go get The 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden … it’s a life-changing resource.


Looking Back on 2015

Just wrote this post for WProsper about how I don’t usually take time to look back at what I’ve accomplished, but did today and how good it was for my soul.

Take 15 Minutes to Look Back



Jealousy Is An Obstacle To Your Purpose and Prosperity

I just wrote a 2,100 word post about jealousy and how I was once consumed with it, how I battle it almost daily and what I do about it.

Just reflecting on the freedom I’ve experienced to focus on my story and my journey and make progress by redirecting the energy makes me smile.

Read Why Jealousy Is Sabotaging Your Prosperity here.