Price elasticity is truly one of the beautiful principles of neoclassic economics. Any student of economics recalls that elasticity seeks to measure the percent change in one variable in relation to the percent change in another variable. This principle is beautiful in its simplicity and aggravating in its deep analysis. The most common application of elasticity deals with price and demand. The demand for a commodity is said to be perfectly elastic if the demand grows and the price remains constant. On the contrary, the demand for a commodity is said to be perfectly inelastic if the price can continually increase while demand remains constant. This presents us with a question of difficult evaluation. Is it better to be elastic or inelastic? Well, that depends on your point-of-view. Are you the seller or the purchasers of the commodity.
What, therefore, does elasticity have to do with the economics of happiness in this life? As a young student at Brigham Young University, I enrolled in a class on basic economics. I soon found myself in a category of students whose natural logic didn’t align with the principles of neoclassic economic thought. In order to do well in the course, I started a study group with fellow students in the class. Since all my friends in the study group were male and we were all seeking to find a wife, it was natural that our conversations before and after our studies were focused on one thing, girls. We decided to marry the two topics of conversation and soon found the perfect way of learning the principles of economics, we related all the confusing principles of economics to the world of dating girls. Ironically, everything started to make sense. From the simple laws of supply and demand to the more arbitrary and confusing principles of the law of diminishing returns, there was a perfect economic reason behind every dating situation any of us had encountered. Since the laws of memorization rely heavily on the principles of association, I have never forgotten these beautiful laws of economics and their application to my experience of dating in college.
Back to elasticity. Happiness in life is generally derived through our associations with those around us. While it is quite possible to be happy when we are alone, it is much more common to find a deep and abiding happiness when it is in relation to other people. The happiness one feels when in the presence of another is based on a common foundation in which both parties are able to freely express and appreciate what is expressed. In this sense, happiness is defined as a feeling of complete freedom in self expression without the fear of not being accepted for verbalizing your thoughts. In its most simple scenario, you are happy when you are with someone that loves to hear what you have to say. Period.
That is where we’ll interject the principle of elasticity. What are the two variables we are going to measure. First, the amount of conversing that is done between two parties. Second, the level of happiness experienced at the end of the conversation. If the percent change in happiness increases positively with an increase in the amount of conversation, then the two parties involved in the conversation are said to be elastic. Since the change in one variable leads to a positive change in another variable, elasticity is present. It is simple. A best friend association occurs and happiness is experienced when the increase in communication leads to an increase in the happiness experienced between the two parties.
Understanding this social principle then gives us great power. Timeless are the principles found in Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The application of elasticity and the economics of happiness relate directly to Carnegie’s true principle that you should seek to find out what interests the person with whom you are conversing and seek to let them speak freely and at length about that topic. As you do this, you’ll see that there will be an increase in the level of satisfaction and happiness you experience in the relationship.
Now then, what are you going to do with this knowledge? How is this going to change your life? My challenge to you, take a few minutes today and think about the person/people you love most. Do you know what they like to talk about? Do you understand what brings a smile to their face? Once you think about these things and write them down, get off your behind and go put the principle of elasticity and the economics of happiness to work. It will greatly improve your life starting the minute your embrace and practice the little principle.
Yesterday my wife and I were returning from a day trip to Flagstaff, Arizona, and on the freeway next to us I saw a truck with a logo that said “CRST” in big black letters. I have to admit that I am a little dyslexic and when I first looked at the truck my mind saw “CHRST.” Immediately I recognized those letters, but something was missing. I said to myself, “that looks like the Savior’s name, Christ, but it is missing the “I.” How ironic! The “I” is the most important part of the name “CHRIST.”
The location of the letter “I” in “CHRIST” is a symbol of how important each of us is to Him. You’ll notice that the “I” is located at the center. That is not a coincidence. Christ is who He is because “I” (meaning you, me, and everybody as an individual) is central to Him. Yes, “I” is the most important part of Christ. That’s what makes Him Lord of Lords and King of Kings. His entire existence is focused on us!
I want everyone to know that comes and reads my little blog that I believe in Jesus Christ. I love Jesus Christ with all my heart. There are times in my life, the quiet times, when I simply look up at the sky and talk to Him and I know that He is listening to me and appreciates hearing from me. I know that He loves me.
We’ve all heard the famous phrase spoken to athletic ball hogs everywhere… “There is no I in team.” That’s very true and will never change. But when it comes to things pertaining to God and eternity, There is an “I” in “CHRIST.”
Do you believe in slavery? I do.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no hatred, animosity, nor do I have any negative feeling toward another ethnic group in any country on earth. Neither do I believe that one human should ever have the right to control the life of another human. That said, I still do believe strongly in the principle of slavery. I am a slave and you are a slave. You can’t fight that argument. If you disagree with me, you are simply ignorant and you need to open your eyes to reality.
Modern day slavery. Have you considered the relationship between your body and your mind? Who is the captain and who scrubs the deck? Yes sir, your body is a slave to the powerful gray matter residing upstairs. Your mind says blink and your eyes flutter. Your brain says walk and your feet move. You just think about eating and already your mouth is salivating for its next meal. A simple thought of the brain is sheer power and cannot be stopped when powered by determination and desire. Is not the relationship between the body and the mind the most obvious example that modern day slavery marches on in its unstoppable journey?
What does it mean to enslave? Back in the day a silver dollar could purchase a human soul. That purchased soul then became the subject of every passing fancy mandated by the master.
Clear the field.
Plant the harvest.
Take this letter to the postmaster.
Get the mules ready.
All this work was expected because one soul controlled another soul. One soul owned another soul. Here’s my question to you… who owns your soul? Who controls the thoughts that pass through your mind?
This world is chuck full of information, hobbies, employments, books, friends, and fun. We live in a day in which our hearts can have all they desire. What do you desire? Have you pondered why God places so much emphasis on desire? Why are we told that one day we will stand before God and answer for our desires? Our desires must be controlled and bridled as they surely will one day enslave us, either for the better or the worse. You are a slave to your own desires.
Your life is a slave to your mind. Optimism. Pessimism. Happiness. Discontent. Wealth. Poverty. What determines your lot in life? Better said, who determines your lot in life? We live in an age of modern day slavery. It is all around us. I am a slave and you are a slave.
This final question remains to be answered, who is your master?
There are times in life when we meet people who teach us deeply important lessons in simple everyday conversations. Three weeks ago I had such a conversation with my friend Bill. To begin, Bill is an amazing person. I first met Bill walking into my place of employment. I was a bit surprised at his friendly demeanor. We had never met, yet I felt like he addressed me like an old-time friend. Immediately I was interested in learning more about Bill and his life. I quickly learned that Bill was the most kind and sincere person I’ve met at my office in Phoenix.
Since our first conversation, Bill has taught me a number of lessons. He is deeply spiritual and speaks of Jesus Christ in conversation after conversation. I am not quite sure which church Bill attends, but he is one of the most religious people I’ve met in a really long time. In a day when many people don’t want to hear anything about Jesus Christ or religion, Bill is freely mentioning Him in conversations all the time. For this reason alone, I love to be around Bill.
Bill’s belief in God influences his everyday actions. He is a strong believer that we need God. Bill told me that we cannot get back to God unless we recognize that it is solely through His grace that we will one day be saved.
A couple weeks ago Bill’s wife had a stroke so I haven’t seen Bill in a number of days. I miss seeing my new friend. Right before he left to help his sick wife, we were both working late at work. Bill and I were the only ones there. As I was saying good-bye to Bill I asked if he was excited to go home. He said he was, but that he was going to work as hard as he could before it was his time to go because he knew that God was watching him. The way that Bill said this caught me off guard. I could feel the integrity in his voice as he spoke to me. It was so sincere. His belief that he wants to do his best in all his daily labors comes from his belief that he owes God everything. In that quick moment, in that very short conversation, Bill said something simple that changed my life.
There are people in this world who succeed because they love work. Others will attain mighty achievements who rely on their own efforts alone. There is a different group out there though who will achieve something much higher and more meaningful. Bill is one member of this group. They work because they love God. Their love for God influences their every action. Every minute counts. All they do truly matters because they do it for the God that gave them life.
Bill taught me once again the simple lesson, God is always watching us. He is always with us. I am sure on a number of occasions Bill has felt and heard God’s voice say to him, “I see you.” I am also sure on a number of occasions Bill has felt and heard God’s voice say, “I am proud of you.”
Today I thank my God for my new friend Bill. We do not go to the same church, but we share the same faith in God. Thank you, Bill, for the lesson you taught me. God bless you!
Convictions. Yesterday I came across a book that has been sitting on a shelf in my office. The cover of the book displays the picture of an athlete with a crew cut, a sleeveless wrestling shirt, and a tiger tattoo. It might take you a minute, but if you look a little closer you’ll see that the wrestler on the cover of the book doesn’t have arms and legs as we are used to seeing. He has two arms and two legs, all of which are about 3-6 inches in length. The author of the autobiographical work I am referencing here is Kyle Maynard, a champion wrestler and life coach. His book No Excuses has touched the hearts of millions of readers. More importantly it has shown the human race that the truly impossible is possible if you have the heart of a champion.
Prisoner to your convictions. In the first few pages of the book, you’ll see that Kyle is unique. Kyle holds a mentality of someone who knows no limits. Everything that he seeks to attain and accomplish in this life should be nearly impossible for him. Between his wrestling matches, his mma fighting, and his love for cross fit; Kyle truly is someone whose conviction is so deep and so embedded in his character that he is now a prisoner to his convictions. His ability to look straight through a mountain-sized obstacle in front of him is now his way of life. The saying, “once you’ve westled, everything in life is easy” is the foundation of his life.
Prisoner to your convictions. The question. How do you transform your thoughts and lift yourself into this higher way of thinking? How do you mentally move from a lower realm of thinking to a higher realm of thinking? Jerry V. Teplitz, Tony Alessandra, and Norma Eckroate discuss a very interesting principle in their book Switched on Selling. The idea of transforming the way your brain functions is based on the brain gym philosophy. The authors take you through a series of physical and mental exercises that help you rid your mind of limiting thoughts and transform your subconscious mind to overlook your weaknesses. They’ve helped millions of sales people overcome their fears who’ve experienced success in their jobs that they never thought possible.
Limiting thoughts, fear, anxiety, procrastination, and laziness plague our society. They stop you and they stop me from accomplishing our life’s mission and personal goals. I challenge you all to pick up a copy of No Excuses or Switched on Selling. Take some time in your life to study the lessons of these great athletes and philosophers. Their words have deeply inspired me and I hope they continue to show me how I can become a prisoner to my convictions, serving a lifelong sentence to those goals I know I must accomplish in this life.
Are you an entrepreneur? If you answered “no” to this question, Blaise James, Gallup global brand strategist, is going to tell you that you better change your mindset. My great friend and international terrorist consultant, Dave Hursey, recently sent me James’s latest blurb on how we can build our personal brand.
The Value of Personal Branding
What is the difference between you and Dr. Markus Zinnbauer? First off, he is probably 5 times smarter than you or I will ever be, but more importantly he’ll do with exact precision what we couldn’t do in our wildest dreams for a fraction of the price we would charge. What is stopping our next client from hopping online and contacting Dr. Markus Zinnbauer for their next marketing campaign? Virtually nothing. “Virtually” is the key word. Our virtual world is highly, highly interconnected (as beautifully displayed in this Facebook Graphic showing our global social network as human beings). The correlation between the advancement of time and the likelihood that the Burger King in your neighborhood will hire someone working at SEO Company Dubai instead of your company is not only positive but quickly increasing.
What are you going to do this weekend? No matter how busy you may be, take one hour to get online and start a blog, write a new blog, update your Twitter status or your Facebook timeline, or leave comments on popular online articles. Take a minute to introduce yourself to our global neighbors. I know there are some of you out there that don’t believe me. In your mind there’s a little voice saying, “there’s no way someone in Bulgaria is going to end up on your blog.” Well, you are wrong. Your blog will receive traffic from a global audience. Your next friend or business client could just as easily live in England as they could in your same city.
I’m sitting here listening to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook addressing the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference and one phrase comes to mind: Cooking Jobs. Cooking Jobs. Cooking Jobs. But what the heck does that mean? Cooking Jobs. Any semi-knowledgable techie sees the silly play on words here and their relation to the last names of the current and formal CEOs of the most innovative company in the world. Cook is doing just that. He is cooking Apple right now. Cooking is the process by which one uses heat to rid an edible substance of impurities or harmful matter that limits growth or damages the body.
With the tragic death of Jobs, sales of his biography went through the roof. Almost 400,000 copies of his book were sold in the first two weeks after the book hit the market. Did I purchase one? Yep, my cute wife bought one for me and my generous in-laws purchased me a second copy as well. I tried on two separate occasions to get into the book since my favorite genre to read is biographies, but I simply could not get into it. Behind the curtain of the Great Oz, Apple, one sees a surprisingly dismal character. Jobs turned on best friends, spent his off-time using illegal drugs, hurt those closest to him, and often over-glamorized the situation to make a psychological sale to an interested party. Please don’t get me wrong here. I am not perfect and I would be the first to admit that some of Steve’s weaknesses are also mine (aside from the illegal drug usage of course.. : ) What is going on at Apple right now? Apple is being cooked.
My better half purchased a book for me recently entitled How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy. Anyone who enjoys a quick read about an uber successful business would love reading this book. It is the story behind the Berkshire Hathaway purchase of the Utah-based RC Willey furniture store. Without totally ruining the surprises found in the book, it turns out that the company’s founder, RC Willey, grew a business that was very successful but never seemed to grow. When RC’s life ended he left behind nothing but serious debt for this son-in-law Bill Child who took over the company. RC was a wonderful man, but he loved to spend money. He was an amazing salesperson who worked incredibly hard, but he didn’t have the ability to truly grow his business because his frivolous spending habits blinded him. When Bill decided to do all he could to keep the company alive and pay off all the debt, the business began to grow. It grew and grew until it exploded in growth. Bill ran the company on very sound principles and eventually sold it to one of the most famous investors that has ever lived, Warren Buffett.
Cooking Jobs. So how are Willey and Child related to Jobs and Cook? Jobs certainly didn’t leave behind a company with debt. In fact, Apple’s balance sheet displays over 98 billion in liquid cash and assets (yes… I said billion). What did Jobs leave behind? Did he leave behind a legacy? Did he leave behind a moral code? Did he leave behind a character worthy of admiration? He did as much for Apple as RC Willey did for his furniture store. In both cases the businessmen worked with and sold products that were innovative. Both men were amazing with groups of people and were very charismatic. Both had a very hard work ethic and left a business with a wonderful brand name to their successors.
What are we going to see happen with Apple? Will we see a company whose amazing growth dies with its founder? We will not. We will see just the opposite. With Cook cooking Jobs out of Apple, we’ll see an explosion of growth that will marvel even the most optimistic forecaster. With Cook turning up the heat as head chef at Apple, we are about to see the most profitable company in the world turn into a powerhouse that will overtake the way the entire world communicates, organizes, and consumes their personal information. Cooking Jobs. Wildly successfully companies may start with a charismatic founder or leader, but they don’t experience their true explosion in growth until they are replaced with the trio of purity, frugality, and hard work. That is the way it has always been and that is the way it will always be.
(ps… if you haven’t seen the parallelism here to our current and hopeful soon-to-be-different US Presidents, I would like to point that out now… : )
Disruptive Technology. I have spent the better part of the day consumed in thought about where our world is going and where we’ve been. In my educational journey today I’ve listened to world experts at the Open World Forum 2011 speak about where the world of mobile and open source are headed. I’ve read text books about systems engineering on Books24x7.com. I’ve listened to lectures about networking on Connexions.com (amazing open source knowledge platform). In the process of all this thinking and reading (and programming for my day job employer), I’ve come up with one answer.
Disruptive technology. Where we’ve come from and where we are now. From the typewriter to the PC to smart phones. From paper to text to speech. From gold to cash to plastic. The evolution at which our world is changing is exponential. The catalyst of this change is driven by the freedom of knowledge and the increasing capacity at which it is offered at very little cost to you and to me. The single largest factor in our explosion of knowledge started with Google, but Google’s day in the spotlight will be short-lived. Google brought us a platform on which we can find an answer to even the most improbable questions one could possibly imagine. Wikipedia proved that money doesn’t motivate. Facebook proved that people are willing to share everything they are doing in life and every silly little thought that pops into the brain. Wolfram Alpha displayed artificial intelligence is catching up to human intuition.
Disruptive technology. Where we are today. Chances are good you have heard of or are using the Internet Browser Firefox. Firefox is a comprehensive project untaken by a massive number of people who aren’t paid. Connexions.com is an massive open source knowledge project aimed at making knowledge free and available to every living human being regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status. The list goes on and on and on. No longer is human kind motivated by the almighty dollar. True motivation comes from contribution and community. We want to belong and we want to contribute.
Disruptive technology. Where we are going (IMO). We now have all the knowledge we could possibly want at our fingertips. We have all new knowledge published everyday in front of us on our computers or on our smart phones. No longer is it a secret or a desired treasure hidden on the shelf of a professor at some prestigious university. It is open and it is free for all to have. What can possibly come next? What is better than search? The technology of the future will all be based on association. No longer will we have the need to search for anything, ask Siri for anything, or sit on our computer to ask a friend on Facebook anything. All our friends, our clients, our educational inquiries will come to us through the power and principle of association. We will put out our thoughts and words into the cyber universe and through the laws and principles of association (together with some crazy text analysis), all of these items will come to us. The world will know what we talk about, think about, and write about and it will respond with delivering all similar information that will come without any request on our end. Google will be gone. The challenge of first having to search for knowledge before we gain it will disappear. We are about to embark on a journey that is beyond open source. Soon we will live in a world of association. Our future will serve up every friend, every desire, every answer without our having to ask for it. Association is the word that is going to disrupt the next level of geniuses that will lead the human family.
Disruptive Technology. Association will change our world faster than ever imagined. As knowledge, friendly associations, and business networking all come to us without us having to do any work to find it, our time will no longer be spent in searching. This key and important step we do every day of our lives now will no longer exist. Knowledge will not be searched for, it will be served without any request at all.
Round and round and round it goes. The world seems to disappear as focused eyes narrow and intent ears open and take in the swirling sound waves flooding into the quiet room. Its spin is only diminished by the gravitational forces that pull it downward until there is a silent clank on the wooden table. Quietly and quickly my fingers gently pick it up and spin it again.
For two weeks now I’ve been stared at, playing with, and gently turning this little piece of metal on my left ring finger. Symbolism. The titanium band that now resides on my left hand is deeply entangled with the greatest dream I’ve ever had in this life; the dream of one day sharing my life with a beautiful, talented, happy girl that I can call my cute little wife. On 9-10-11 that dream was realized. I am now a happily married man.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine God would bless me with a wife as cute, personable, and selfless as Nicole Downs Poulton. For two weeks now I’ve been pampered, loved, held, and cherished by the most amazing woman I have ever known. We’ve embarked on a journey that some have come to call “AN ETERNITY OF FELICITY.”
Words cannot describe the feelings of gratitude that filled my heart as I stared at this cute little blonde across the LDS Temple altar as we were being sealed for time and all eternity. Never did I conjure up that someone could be so selfless and loving, so positive and hard-working, so full of silliness and joy, so quick to love and so anxious to forgive and mend hurt feelings. I now officially join the throngs of men who can honestly say, “I married up.”
A potter sits at his potting wheel with a fresh handful of clay. He stares at it intently as he imagines the shapes he can create. The clay he so careful handles can be whatever he makes of it. It is his creation and in the end it is only he who will answer as to what he chose to do with it.
So it is with a brand new marriage. One day you are given a pure piece of clay. The clay may be a husband or the clay might be a wife. It is all the same. Just as the potter patiently sits at the spinning wheel for endless hours working and molding the clay into a masterpiece of exquisite art, so we are given time to hold our spouse and mold them into something beautiful to behold. Marital molding comes in many forms: words, actions, deeds, what is said about the other person in public or whispered in private, all these shape the character of the person we call our spouse.
The choice to create a beautiful piece of art is given to all that have the courage to say, “I do.” Let us all recommit to build our spouse, cherish our spouse, and love our spouse in public and in private so when the marital potting wheel eventually stops spinning, we find ourselves holding up a priceless piece of finely curated porcelain.
The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Pure love sees perfection in an imperfect world. Recommit to commit.
History repeats itself in a never-ending circular fashion. Again and again and again the future becomes the past and the past becomes the future. If not strenuously observed and recorded, the reoccurrence of both life-altering, catastrophic events and common everyday activities melt together in a microwaved porcelain bowl of butter. Sadly true, just about every twenty years fashion repeats itself. Baggy. Skinny. Baggy. Skinny. The creativity with which the fashion world brands itself is a repetitious activity of absolute boredom that can be predicted using simple elementary mathematics.
Above the superficial layer of nonsensical popularity is a layer of pure history poured by those with a good heart and a solid, principle-based lifestyle. My sweet Grandma Flora was one of these pure-minded souls that lived to love and loved to live. In fact her little heart wouldn’t stop beating until years after her ninetieth birthday. Living blind and alone for the majority of the years in her eighties and nineties, this woman silently woke up in the morning to a bowl of Special K, got on her grubbies, and worked the earth in her gorgeous flower-filled garden. Without a soul knowing what was taking place in her little yard in Salt Lake City, my Grandma Flora worked hours everyday to make everything in her life, sweet, beautiful, and aesthetically pleasing.
Some lessons in life are learned in a text-book or on the television screen, while others are passed along through word of mouth. The strength of the message is often highly related to the method in which it is shared. The more important the news, the more highly widespread through word of mouth. It was through this medium I learned about my Grandma Flora’s living example of The Widow’s Mite.
Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ stated the following:
41¶ And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
42 And there came a certain a widow, and she threw in twob, which make a farthing.
43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this a widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
44 For all they did cast in of their a; but she of herb did c in d that she had, even all her living.
Flora Clinger never enjoyed the riches this world had to offer, the abundance with which the sloppy and crude lust after their entire lives. Her Christmas presents often came in the form of bottled fruit and homemade candy wrapped in wrapping paper from Christmases before. Her labor was pure and her gifts sincere and full of love.
For nearly 30 years my Grandma Flora was a widow. Her husband’s hard work and dedicated life provided well, but Flora’s Depression Era frugality pulled her through. What was her mantra? What was her simply philosophy on how to survive? She simply paid her 10% to the Lord. Every month for almost 30 years, this woman would toss her mites into an envelope and hand it to her Bishop.
What became of Flora Clinger? She passes sweetly from this world to the world beyond in the silence of a care center in between a visit from a nurse and a visit from a son. The widow had tossed in her last mite, that of a dedicated yet simple life where she gave all she had to the her Savior and Lord.
Grandma, I honor you this Memorial Day and I thank my God for your example. Your legacy lives on, Cutie!
Confessional. I’m addicted. I’m totally addicted and I am somewhat ashamed of myself for the depth to which I’ve embraced my vice. What is this addiction and why is it consuming the better part of each day of my life? Communication. I am addicted to communicating. It doesn’t matter who is talking, who is listening, who is singing, or who is hypothesizing. I won’t shut up and I prefer those around me don’t either.
As a newborn, I had mother-killing colic. As a first-grader, my teacher would move me from chair to chair to maintain a quiet classroom. As a teenager, parent teacher conferences were all the same, tell that boy to socialize less and concentrate more. As a statistician, I am a disgrace to my prototypical conservatively nerdy coworkers. Talking. Typing. Singing. Blogging. Listening. Audio books. Movies. Books. Magazines. I love words. It doesn’t matter if I am the source of the constructive noise or the consumer of it. I simply want to create or consume words all day long.
Although the son of a pedantic expansionist, I am plagued with the inability to effectively communicate the thoughts that consume the grey matter that exists in my small head. My problem? My problem is that I rely too heavily on the art of circumlocution. For those of you not familiar with the definition, the dictionary dictates as follows:
1. a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.
2. a roundabout expression.
Yep, plagued with a sickness the rednecks refer to as “Big hat, no cattle.” Too many words; too little meaning. Ha! This simple phrase explains so much misunderstanding that takes place not only in my life but in the lives of people all around the world. We talk too much using too many superficially important words, and what is guaranteed to be the end result? We don’t effectively communicate with those around us.
When was the last time you asked someone to do something for you only to find that they didn’t follow your perfectly stated instructions? Idiot! Imbecile! Derelict! Of course our anger rages and we point our big fat finger in all directions but our own. We talk and we talk and we talk, but so little meaning escapes our mouth because it is drowning amidst the explosions of hot air.
Information overload. Now, as never before, we are overburdened with voices. iPods, Netflix, Apple TV, texting, emailing, skyping, and on and on and on. Too much information. With so many voices competing with our own, we need to simultaneously minimize the length of our speech patterns and maximize the underlying meaning of our words with more direct communication. Our roundabout requests are becoming too round. Our indirect communications are losing the little direction with which they started.
What is the solution? How can one both decrease word count and increase word meaning at the same time? The answer is simple. Build your vocabulary. Masters of language are applauded not for the high frequency with which they repeat a small group of words, but rather for the almost impossible infrequency with which they use an ocean of new and interesting words. Some words are strong and some words are weak. These masters of language concentrate on meaty words, words that represent entire phrases, sentences, ideas, paragraphs.
Circumlocution, the disease of the lazy. Those unwilling to put forth the work to effectively communicate will damn themselves and their posterity. Grow your vocabulary. Increase your ability to effectively communicate. The opportunities that will be presented to you in this life are directly connected to your ability to effectively and efficiently communicate with those around you using simple, powerful, and direct language.
Today I had a great realization. That realization, simply put, is that you cannot hide from God. No matter how alone you feel or how many mountains you try to place between you and the Creator, no matter whether you have eyes to see or ears to hear, you cannot escape the love of God. In His own way and in His own time He will choose to reach out to you in undeniable ways and whisper in your ear, “I am here. Everything is going to be okay.” I have heard this calming assurance multiple times throughout my life and I know that you have as well.
You might be blind, that doesn’t matter. You may choose to live your days in a bar, that won’t hide you. You might beat your spouse or abuse your children, that still won’t break His unconditional love. You might die all alone in the mountains, He’ll be there with you. It doesn’t matter where you are born, how much you sin, or how many times you read the Bible. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how fat you are, or how many problems cannot you solve, His love for you is perfect.
Like many of you, I’ve invested a lot of time and thought trying to figure out the character so many of us call God. I want to know what He thinks about. I want to more fully comprehend how and in what manner He expects us to live. I want to see His life. Just like you, I want Him to be able to count on me when timing really matters.
God hasn’t forgotten you. In times of loneliness or desperation you may wonder, as I have on many occasions, if your life matters to Him. Many times I have heard others say, “I know that He would have died just for me. He would have done everything He did if mine was the only soul on the line.” After years of pondering this declaration, I too can add my voice and declare honestly that I know God would have died for me, even if I were His only child. I know this. I know that He would die for you, no matter who you are, even if you were the only one in need of redemption.
How do I know this? What makes me so certain in my views on God’s unconditional love for me and for you? That is extremely personal, but I do know that God spoke peace to my mind while living in another country. God calmed and healed my heart when a close friend died at a very young age. God forgave my many sins. God protected me when a man put a machete to my neck. God smiled at me through the eyes of a beggar. God provided me with everything I needed when I didn’t have any money. As I write this simply little blog, God continues to bless me with feelings of His sweet love.
The blind man. The rich man. The dead man. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see Him, can’t hear Him, or can’t feel His love in this precise moment. God is there. Trust me, God is there. God spends His time with the elderly. God lives amongst the proud and haughty. God shows Himself to the dead. In this very moment, God is right next to me and He is right next to you. If you don’t believe me, try this little one minute experiment. Shut your eyes, get down on your knees, bow your head, and fold your arms. In an audible voice ask God if He loves you, if He knows you, if He is aware of you. I cannot promise that in the moment of asking He will give you His answer, but I promise you that in the coming days your eyes will be opened and you will have an experience so profound with Him that it will be impossible to deny your simply, reverent question.
This is my simple belief, you cannot hide yourself from God. His undying love for you is beyond your comprehension and in His own time and in His own way He will show you this is true.
Who are your heroes? Have you met them? Are you related to them? Are they known throughout the world of basketball, figure skating, or singing? Have you considered the impact they have on you or the power they have to lift you up or drag you down? Who you view as a hero in your life has a great impact on what you will one day become and what you will one day leave behind. One of my biggest heroes is currently lying in a hospital bed at a local heart and lung specialty center. This hero’s name is John Poulton. John is my sweet grandfather. This post is dedicated to him because his life has altered the eternal course of mine.
John Poulton is 90 years old. He has lived with his sweetheart (my cute Grandma Nancy) for more than 60 years. During his life, my Hero has kept a meticulous journal. Day after day after day, my Hero felt a great sense of accountability to those who went before and those who were to follow. His determination touched the lives of thousands throughout his professional and religious career. Today my Hero struggles to breath. His pure little heart has a new neighbor that regulates its pace and blesses him with more family time on earth. Medical science has blessed my Hero with time, time to bless the lives of his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his neighbors, and his close friends. God bless John Hopps, the original inventor of this magic little device prolonging the lives of countless people around the world.
Why is John my hero? What has he done in his life to lay claim to such a distinguished title? What were his habits, his accomplishments, his passions in life? First and foremost, my Hero has worked his entire life to become a disciple. These words have never left his lips when I’ve been in his presence, yet they define him better than any other phrase possible. I don’t say this because I’ve heard someone else say this. I don’t hold it as truth because my grandmother told me it was so. I came across this truth because I’ve read out of my Hero’s old books.
Sitting on my shelf at my home are a number of books read by John Poulton. Regardless of the contents, the themes, or the lessons contained in these books, there is one thing in common. Every single book previously owned by my Hero has notes written in the margins and underlined words, phrases, and paragraphs throughout the different chapters. Every single work was written by a master and consumed by a disciple. I have a small theory in life and in the case of my Hero, this little theory is once again true. You can only read so much before you become the author. You can only consume others’ original thoughts so much before you become the originator. You one day become the byproduct of your daily consumption, be it purity or dross.
Business books, personal motivation books, self-help books, religious books, and books based on positive thinking often found their way into my Hero’s journals and into his inner-most thoughts. A handful of years ago, our extended family received a very special Christmas gift. The gift was an autobiographical work on the life of John Poulton. In it, my Hero drew upon his many journals and life history to describe in great detail names, occasions, and experiences that shaped him into a loyal friend, a devout husband, a dedicated father, a successful business man in the insurance world, a mission president, a bishop, a stake president, a regional representative, a missionary, and a disciple. Childhood friends all had first and last names, family members all had a dedicated section about their personal lives, counselors and acquaintances were talked about in great detail. Meticulous attention was given to both the elderly and the youth. John was a disciple at every stage of his life. He learned from his amazing parents just as he learned from a troubled youth who had come to him to seek confession before God. My Hero never closed his ears or his heart to what another person had to say. He noted it physically, stored it away mentally, and wrote it down meticulously to share it with those yet unborn.
Repercussions. Generally repercussions are referred to in negative tones. People associate this word with past sins, mistakes, or experiences they wish they could either totally forget or completely delete. Things done in the past that surface again and again in the future may be bad, but they can also be good. Life is laden with personal repercussions. What you do today, what you say today, what you read today, who you associate with today all will resurface again in the future.
Never in my life have I been more impacted by another person than when I took the time to read the autobiography of my Hero. The knowledge that he accomplished so much in his life and that I was actually related to him, gave me the power to see the truth. The truth that I could also accomplish great tasks in my life. The truth that I could also learn from others in my life. The truth that I could possibly become both a humble disciple and great leader. My Hero proved that it can be done. I thank him for this proof. I thank him for his sweet life. I thank him for his friendship. I thank him for his prayers and love. I thank him for his memories. Above all, I thank him for his words. The consequences of this single daily action has blessed my life and will bless the lives of my children and their children.
I thank my God this day that I was given a Hero whose words will reverberate in my mind for years and years to come. Grandpa John, I dedicate this little post to you and I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. Thank you.
There are two types of people in this tiny world, those who endorse and embrace morality and those who have thrown it to the wind. Moral vs. Amoral. Though there are as many flavors of morality as there are people on this planet, every single one of us has to decide whether or not we are going to stick to our moral code.
Morality. How do you feel about this word? Does it make you uncomfortable to think about it, talk about it, or blog about it?! Since the beginning of time, morality has been the at the hypocenter of every war, every genocide, and every good or evil deed. It is at the center of your character, your reputation, and your happiness. It affects your family life, your work life, and your personal life. Moral vs. Amoral. Of all the topics we could discuss together, there are few that are more central to your inner self than this simple question, are you moral? Do you live a moral life? Simply put, it is a very easy question to ask and a very easy question to answer (if you are truly honest with yourself). It is a question of rightness vs. wrongness.
I am now a grown man and I know what is right and I know what is wrong. Clearly defined and ever-present in my life is a sense of what I am morally obligated to do. Do I always those things I know to be right? No. Do I always those things I know to be wrong? No. Am I winning the battle? Yes. If I am neither right all of the time nor wrong all of the time, how can I claim I am winning the battle? This is a large claim, but it is one that I strongly believe almost all of us can, with a clear conscience, answer in the affirmative. We are moral. In fact (as silly and stupid as this sounds…), I want you to repeat with me out loud, right now, “I am moral. I am moral. I choose to do right.”
The power of the mind is without limit. Although physically our brains are only about 1/40th the mass of our bodies, the power of our brain, the vastness of its creative ability, the depth of its understanding, and the pool of its wisdom and intelligence is truly infinite. This is hard to comprehend since we live in a world bathed in limitations. How big is your hard drive? 120 gigabytes? 500 gigabytes? 1 terabyte? How much memory do you have? 2 gigabytes or ram? 8 gigabytes of ram? How about your processor? Dual core? Quad core? We too often perceive our minds as computers. Well… they aren’t, so please stop drawing upon that comparison.
The brain, when it was created, was in fact just a house. From the exterior, this house had a shape, had a boundary, and appeared to start at one defined point and end at another defined point. If you were to open the brain (not the physical object, but the actual power) and were to walk inside, do you know what you would see? You would see space. You would stars without end. You would see a night sky that stretched to eternity. This is a beautiful thought because it is true.
Why do I bring up the power of the brain when referring to a discussion on morality? What relationship does morality have with our brain and the limits of its capacity? Is there a relationship between the two? This simple fact exists, your ability to grow your brain and continue to grow your brain until it is infinitely capable is 100% based on your decision to be moral. Only through a conscious effort to do that which is right will your brain continue to grow.
Restrictions. The amoral society has an argument they bring up again and again. Morals are restricting. Man is not meant to live his entire life restricted to some silly notion that he should be concerned with right vs. wrong. You needn’t strive to do that which is right all the time. Life is short. Play hard. That is more or less one of their major arguments. Here’s the secret. They are wrong. Their thoughts and arguments are all flawed. Why? How can I say this? History speaks for itself. How many a genius has the world produced only to sadly see its beautiful creation wither away and die as high morals are replaced with alcohol, sex, drugs, and violence.
Amoral = Addiction. Mathematically, these two words are equivalent. If you are unconcerned with right and wrong, wrong will surely win. Why? Simply because it is the easier choice. Those who are amoral live an easier life than those who are moral. Am I positive? Yes. Do I feel I am overstepping my bounds? No. If you don’t care, you are or will very shortly be amoral. Scientists have proven that addictions alter the brain. They quite literally change the way the brain is intended to function. They kill the ability of the brain to grow. Addiction is consuming. If you deal with addiction, you are spinning in circles. Your life is planned. Your future is planned. You know what you will be doing tomorrow, in one year, in five years. Your course is set. You will go around and around and around like water draining from a toilet until you simply flush out your brain and send it to the mounds of crud in the sewer system below.
As lame as it sounds, go write down this phrase, “I am moral. I am moral. I choose to do right.” Put this paper somewhere you will see it. Get this phrase stuck in your mind. Don’t hide it. Don’t put it under a book. Put it where you will see it. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t think in your mind, “I wouldn’t want anyone to see this piece of paper and get the impression that I am not moral.” If this scenario were to happen, you would be surprised how much this accidental insight into your mind would influence and benefit the other person. It could change their current situation in life.
Moral vs. Amoral. Who is winning the fight? Who will win the fight? Which are you? Moral or amoral? It is your decision. The likelihood of your ability to be moral is directly related to the work you put into the task. How can I increase this likelihood, the likelihood to be moral and choose the right when the opportunity presents itself? Fill your mind with purity. Fill your mind with light. Fill your mind with good literature. Turn off the TV and read a book. Shut your computer and go for a run. Replace the wrong with the right. I have confidence I can do this and I have confidence you can do this.
There is one sad truth in this world that is so commonly misunderstood. The truth? Those whom we call rude, cruel, obnoxious, emotionless, boisterous, mean-hearted, loud, or insensitive are the hardest to love. For some reason hidden deep within their souls, they are overcompensating for some difficult experience in their life and the most natural way to hide their weakness is to exploit that of those with whom they closely associate. They feel it their right and privilege to open their mouth and speak their mind. If the truth hurts, they say it anyway. Sometimes the more pain they know they’ll inflict with their criticism, the more twisted joy it brings them to purposefully hurt those around them.
The misunderstanding? These depraved souls who verbally throw up on those around them and then smile at their words and actions are those most in need of love.
Those hardest to love in this world are actually the ones that need it the most.
The next time someone you know sends a zinger in your direction and chooses to push the big red button you try so well to hide, take one minute to consider their situation. Perhaps instead of immediately feeling belittled and allowing their sticks and stone words to damage you, look deep into their eyes. Look deep within them, past the artificial arrogance, past the conceded smirk, past the careless mocking glance, and you’ll see someone who is deeply injured. Someone who is simultaneously bleeding to death on the inside and suffocating for air on the outside. The only solution in their mind is to deflect. Deflect the imperfection. Send the attention the other way. They choose to look past their own weaknesses and errors by flagrantly pointing out with great mockery the weaknesses and errors of those around them, often those closest to them.
There is a space between stimulus and response.
Stephen Covey taught this masterful principle. Before you commit to take offense, work to widen this space between a possible offense and your response. Take the higher, more educated road. Study the perpetrator out in your mind. Is there anything you can do to help them? Is there a certain level of attention you can give them or a certain level of friendship they may lack in their life that you could provide? Of all the social conflicts in the world, this is perhaps one of the hardest to master. The choice to allow maturity to shallow up more fragile and tender feels with alleviate the heavy load so many of us bear. Maturity. Understanding. Enlightenment. Friendship. Compassion. Help. Healing. What is the final answer? You are the answer. The magic of thinking big…
Super superficial Part II…
Case Study #1: Don is a very well dressed, very well-respected Ph.d engineer who runs a successful consulting firm. Don is well dressed, always smiling, and pleasant in every way. Everyone that knows him enjoys to be around him. Upon first meeting Don, you know that you are in the presence of a great, intelligent person. Don has a commanding presence in a crowd. His dress is very customary with his nice button up shirts, sleeveless sweaters, and Levis. He could walk into any restaurant, any store, or any Fortune 500 conference room and people would notice him and respect him.
Case Study #2: Phil is one of the nicest people I have been blessed to associate with in my life. He, like Don, runs a very successful company. Phil is blessed with a cute family and is very responsible in all areas of his life. If you were to sneak into Phil’s office on a random business day, you would probably see him sporting some nice shorts, an athletic shirt of some type, and sandals. Phil is very confident in what he has become and continues to push himself to be an influential person in the world around him.
I mention Phil and Don here only to prove a point. If you were to look at Phil and Don standing side-by-side you would see two very different people. Although both are tall, very kind, and quite intelligent, you would definitely consider their life situations to be quite different. Let me pause here to ask you a quick question. Let’s pretend you were a salesperson at a luxury car dealership or a financial planner looking to do business with one of these two gentlemen. From the descriptions above, who do you think you would approach? Which would you select if they were to walk into your dealership side-by-side? From my experience in the world, 95% of you would choose to do business with Don. His presence, dress, and demeanor would probably draw you to him and you would be quite certain that your selection, although based on momentary snap judgment, was the better of the two options.
Given the scenario above, twenty years ago, you probably would have been right to select Don. It used to be easy to visually identify wealth and influence. The defining formality of yesteryear, coupled with its association with power and wealth, has slowly faded and within a few short years will almost totally disappear. With some additional detail about the two case studies above, the correct answer would have been to do business with Phil. Unlike Don who has to mingle with top executives in the largest companies across the world, Phil sits at a little desk in a huge warehouse and runs an online company. Phil’s net worth is probably ten times that of Don’s, yet upon looking at a side-by-side comparison you would never guess those were their situations in life. If you would have selected Don over Phil as a financial planner, you would have a client who invested $100,000. The reverse scenario would have ended up with a $1,000,000 investment.
What does this mean? How does this affect you and how does this affect me? The (second most important) main point. Guy Kawasaki, in his new book Enchantment, shares one of the most profound quotes I have heard on this topic. He states simply, “the nobodies are becoming the next somebodies.” In other words, you cannot tell by someone’s appearance in our world today whether they are powerful, influential, or wealthy. Using appearance alone as the only criterion to make decisions is a fleeting and risky behavior now. You have no idea if they have thousands of friends or if they sit at home on their couch and cease to exist to the rest of the world. Simple jeans, flip flops, and a tee used to define the lower and middle classes. A formal red striped tie used to distinguish the Harvard grad or the investment banker. The punk kid wearing a gray tee and a casual sports coat earned $100 million in 2008. Two other youngsters sell over a million tees a year and live a very, very comfortable lifestyle. The ordinarily dressed “Phil” that you choose to ignore to serve a more prominent customer could be the one with 300,000 Twitter followers. He could single-handedly really hurt your business reputation. Think twice before you choose who to treat well or who to maltreat in this life.
The main point. What is it that defines whether or not you are going to put forth an effort to meet those around you? Why do you choose to love the one and shun the other? Each person, regardless of appearance, social prominence, or power is worth a fun friendship. President or janitor, CEO or homeless, we should all learn to love those with whom we come into contact. As already stated in a previous post:
You can tell the character of a man not by how he treats those above him or how he treats those around him, but you can tell the character of man by how he treats those under him or those he doesn’t “need.”
Nice package. What did you just say?! Nice package. In today’s world that could mean a multiplicity of things. Some good. Some bad. We are by nature super superficial. I mean really superficial. Some of us beat the battle faster and more often than others, but as humans our first tendency is to judge and sadly enough JUDGE WE DO. What the package looks like on the outside determines our interest, our respect, and ultimately our desire to consume.
It doesn’t matter how kind and how proper you are. It doesn’t even matter how old you are or how wise or simple you are. Let’s face it. What’s on the outside matters. There are a good number of us out there that say we aren’t judgmental. We deceive ourselves and we attempt to deceive others into thinking that we, unlike the entire human race that has ever existed or ever will, have the ability to postpone snap judgment and we give everyone a “fair” chance. Total garbage. We are so quick to give attention to or totally ignore the attractive, the intelligent, the simple, the humble, the fat, the proud, the grotesque, the funny, the larger-than-life, or the princess. What someone wears, how someone looks, why someone smirks, who someone associates with, or where someone eats, this all matters. But why does it matter? Honestly, who cares?!
Where did I go to school? For a long time I went to the school of WHO CARES. I rebelled and actually forced myself into thinking that I wasn’t going to care about impressing the boss. I wasn’t going to be the one to brown nose in elementary. I refused to dress myself up with the popular throughout middle school and high school. I was Matt Poulton. A little too simple. A little too talkative. And sometimes a little too happy. That is all I wanted to be, all I ever wanted to be.
A short while back I read an awesome book entitled Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. The book talks about what Gladwell refers to as snap judgment. In the book he emphasizes the frequency and consistency with which we have to make very quick judgments and decisions in life. His argument is that our first impression is often the right one. No matter how fast it is formed, the majority of the time it is correct. We judge all day long, every day of our lives.
Where do you live? If you live in Montana, you may see one to two new people each day. If you live in New York, you probable see hundreds or thousands of strangers each day. The sad truth is you size up every single individual you see in a millisecond. Your judgment is snapping faster than you realize. Consider the converse scenario. Back up, reverse that thought. Every person you see is looking right back at you and their millisecond snapping is judging away as quickly and as accurately as your’s. It sounds subjective, but it really isn’t. Who determines our common pathways of judgment, even our snap judgments? Society. Culture. Television. Newspapers. Radio. We all share a common denominator when it comes to judging others. Of course it differs slightly from person to person since our environments vary, but for the most part the majority of mankind all judge very similarly.
Although we share this common judgment, we decide through our choices to either gravitate to the attractive and uplifting or we choose to mingle with the profane and indulgent. Bottom line here, it is our own choice. There is a power in realizing this great truth. If all mankind judge situations, people, and circumstances in life in fractions of a second, don’t you want to put your best foot forward the great majority of the time? If you’re going on a first date, wear nice shoes. Girls care about shoes. If you are interviewing for a new job, wear your nicest business suit. Employers care about the “face” of their company. If you are going to your friend’s wedding, wear a tie or a skirt. Brides care about their wedding day. If you wake up in the morning, brush your teeth and wash your face. People care about good breath and a pimple-free face.
You can’t avoid it. No matter where you live or what you do in life, you will be judged by every single person around you. I have recently had this lesson taught to me yet again. I have moved. I have moved away from my old school to a higher form of education, the school of OPPORTUNITY. My environment is different. My classmates are different. I am different. I have a new commitment to dress it up a little, be a little more appropriate for the occasion. I have come to realize that I never truly understand who is judging me and how influential their judgment may be in my life. It may be a date. It may be my wife. It may be a future employer or business partner. It may be a mentor or a student. Regardless of who it is, it matters. It matters to them and it matters to me. Ultimately, the choice to dress it up a little is your’s. Commit in your life to test this little hypothesis and you will see the consequences of your actions will be in perfect harmony with the new opportunities you once thought weren’t possible.
A bum. A dollar. A blessing.
A quick glance at the preceding short phrases is actually quite deceptive.
A bum. A dollar. A blessing.
One more time.
A bum. A dollar. A blessing.
What memories come when you see the juxtaposition of these three phrases? Does a specific memory come to mind? Chances are you see yourself or another fortunate soul passing by a stranger with a cardboard sign that says:
Will work for food…
Please help me get to L.A….
My kids are hungry…
Vietnam Vet, please help…
What did you do the last time this happened? The trend… 99.9% of the time you pass by them without much of a thought. There is a great temptation to say to yourself, they deserve their lot in life. Somewhere along the line they sinned, they committed a crime, or they became addicted to drugs or violence. The other .1% of the time, you reach into your pocket, find a crinkled dollar bill or some loose change, and hand it to them with a sincere and understanding smile. As you walk away you smile thinking that you’ve just provided a nice blessing to someone with a hunger pang or a desire to see family and friends in another city.
The truth. It’s all a deception. You have it all backwards. The bum is not the one with the cardboard sign. The dollar is not the dollar you give the person asking for help. You guessed it, the blessing is not received by the recipient of the charitable act.
A bum. A dollar. A blessing.
Chances are you have a house. Also likely, you have a family, a job, a car, and food on your shelves. You probably own a number of different outfits and you have an ATM card with at least some extra cash in a checking account somewhere. You probably even have a credit card just in case something bad happens. Simply put, you have sufficient for your needs (and some).
The bum? The dollar? The blessing? Since 99.9% of the time we don’t take the effort to help those around us, can you guess who the bum really is? We work and we work and we work. What do we do with all this money? We spend and we spend and we spend. We buy more shoes, more jeans, more skis, more makeup, more food, and more entertainment. We purchase bigger cars, bigger houses, and bigger jewelry. We increase our personal surplus as we try to fulfill our insatiable consumption. We dress ourselves in a superficial facade of happiness and wealth.
Yes, you guessed right. 99.9% of the time, we are the bums. We are the stingy, overly endulged, entitled ones that deserve all the world has to offer. Grace has smiled upon us. Hopefully by now you see the bum. The bum is dressed in fine clothing. The bum struts around garnished in Polo and True Religion. The bum makes good money. The bum drives a Mercedes, a BMW, or a nicer Honda. The bum is you and the bum is me.
The dollar. The dollar in your pocket is not your’s. It was given to you “as a loan.” The dollar belongs to God. What is not readily apparent to the bum is the test that comes simultaneously when he is given a dollar. The dollar is a test. How will we spend it? How will we use it? Who will be the recipient of what it can buy?
The blessing. The blessing is not monetary nor is it physical. Those holding the cardboard sign generally are not the recipients of the true blessing. The bum choses whether or not to partake of the blessing when he decides to reach into his True Religions and give away the dollar temporarily given to him.
The opportunity. The next time you are in the city and you see a large crowd of people passing by someone with a cardboard sign, stop and observe. What do you think you will see? Stare intently into the faces of those holding the signs. Who do you see? Who do they resemble? Pay attention to the passers-by. What are their actions? Where are their thoughts? Let this experience sink deep into your heart and mind. Absorb the scene and commit to change. Commit to stop being a bum. Commit to reach into the pockets of your soul and find something to give your brother or sister in need. Commit to change and commit to give.
When you begin to open up your wallet and give away the dollar, you will find that it will be replaced with two. When you look into the face of the Stranger with a sign, you will see your Brother. The superficial scales that covered your once blind eyes will be filled with light. You won’t look down into that face behind the cardboard sign, but you will look up into the face of Him who is the Giver of all. What once was given to you as a temporary loan will become a permanent fountain of wealth.
And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I spent four months with an incredibly intelligent man while in college. Each day at the beginning of class he would walk up to the chalkboard and draw five arrows, two small arrows on both sides of a very big arrow. Each day he would remind us that we were going to influence the world around us. He would turn to the class and ask us which arrow we were going to be. Are you going to be the big arrow or the small arrow?
There is great power in the principle of repetition. For ten years I have seen that image of five arrows in my mind. I’ve invested a lot of time pondering and thinking about what these arrows mean, how they affect my happiness, and what I can possibly do to become the big arrow in the middle and positively influence those around me.
Poke the Box. Poke the Box is yet another creative work by Seth Godin. (For those of you interested in the evolution and transformation of marketing, Seth is your man.) The premise of Seth’s book? Failure. Our culture doesn’t correctly understand failure. We are so scared to fail that we don’t even start. We don’t start a business because we are scared to fail. We don’t get married because we are scared to fail. We don’t apply for a great internship because we are scared to fail. You can’t fail if you don’t start, but you can’t go anywhere either. Failure is not bad. I repeat, failure is not bad.
After listened to Seth’s book and meditating once again on the image of the five arrows, I finally am beginning to understand. Seth turned the image on its head. The big arrow in the middle of the small arrows was the most influential, not only because of its many successes, but because of its many failures. An expert in a field is said to be someone that has failed in every possible way and in the end gains the needed knowledge because they weren’t scared to start and they weren’t scared to get back up after falling.
One of the most inspiring stories I heard in college was about a working adult who returned to school. They failed pre algebra five times. They failed algebra four times. They failed calculus. They failed linear algebra. They failed and failed and failed, but they didn’t stop until they had a Ph.d in mathematics. Now that is amazing!. That is the principle our culture should embrace. That individual is now the big arrow influencing the small arrows all around him day after day. That spirit of resilience and patience will never be held down.
Think hard. What ideas have come into your mind lately? Did you even give the idea a minute to grow? Did you actually start applying the idea or working toward a goal? Did you free write about the idea? If you started it, did you stop?!
In his book Poke the Box, Seth stresses the importance of starting many new ideas. Start them and work hard on them. Start more and continue the process. A successful man will start many, many ideas before he runs a successful business, influences a large crowd, or gains great spiritual strength.
Go with your gut. That is the best advice my brother Jeff has ever given me. Go with your gut and work for your dream.
A poor man will look at a rich man and consider his station in life to be very lucky, when in reality the rich man simply saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.
Moral of the post. In order to become the big arrow, you will probably fail. In fact you may always fail, but the personal growth that comes with all the failed attempts will make you a more refined and developed person. Go. Make something of your life and don’t get too caught up talking yourself out of a good idea because you might possibly some day in the unforeseeable future fail.
Pinocchio. What an inspirational tale to introduce to young, fertile minds. Originally written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi; the Adventures of Pinocchio teaches some of the most well-thought-out ideas on moral, religious, and life-altering principles. When you think back on this movie, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Most will invariably say, don’t tell a lie. Others may say, watch who you make friends with or don’t fall in with bad company.
Take one minute before you continue to read and reflect on the book or the Disney animation. How did it affect you as a young child? Do you remember the storyline? A wooden puppet, whose actions are generally controlled by an owner, is set free. He comes to life and becomes a ‘real boy.’ He is temporarily free to act for himself. (That lesson alone contains a very deep eternal truth.) He is no longer ‘being played’ by someone or something, or is he? There are obviously external forces working very hard on little Pinocchio. One strong force wants Pinocchio to take advantage of his freedom, seize opportunities to grow and become better, and share his influence with others along the way. The other force working on innocent and pure Pinocchio wants to introduce him to a very profound idea. A lie.
In its most basic form, a lie is actually quite interesting. Why is it so bad to lie? What does it mean when we tell a lie. Simply put, a lie is a denial of our actions and an attempt to change the inalterable consequences that subconsciously we know will catch up to us some day. We are trying to change who or what we are. A lie is weak.
When we lie, we tell God and those around us that we would rather be someone else. We are not proud of ourselves and our actions. We are afraid others will judge us and we run. We want to be someone else so we lie. What could offend the creator more than to say, I actually don’t think you knew what you were doing when you made me. How sad! This story is taught so clearly in Pinocchio that he physically changed every time he told a lie. The more Pinocchio lied, the more he was ‘played’ by this degrading external force.
Near the end of the story, the author introduces a scene where Pinocchio and his friends end up in a very evil environment. Other boys his same age are drinking, smoking, gambling, etc. (Last week I was in Las Vegas and I saw the real life version of this scene in the story. Apparently, millions upon millions of kids missed the point when they watched the movie. Sad.)
All the boys in the movie were having a great time experiencing ‘freedom’ when the evil force who now had great power to ‘play them’ started to change them into someone/something else, little donkeys. They no longer had the power to be little boys. They chose and the consequences caught up to them. They ran so far from who and what their Creator had originally designed, that they actually become something entirely different. How ironic is that!.
As Pinocchio saw this change taking place in those around him, he realized his misled steps and thankfully had the power to take control of his life again. In the end, the Creator forgave Pinocchio for temporarily straying from the path and gave him what his little heart desired most, to become a real little boy.
The truth and vision portrayed in the story of the Adventures of Pinocchio teach more about the purpose of life and the eternal destiny of man than many of the most profound and popular theological ideas In the world today.
So… many of you reading this will say, great but what the heck does this post have to do with the title of the post? What is the String Puppet Syndrome and how can I avoid it? A string puppet is played by another hand that is not our own. It controls ‘our’ actions. It attempts to alter ‘our’ destiny.
What is the solution? A plan. Having a plan in place will defeat this external destroying force 95% of the time. Simply knowing where you are going and what you want to accomplish in life will beat the enemy the great majority of the time. Alice in Wonderland teaches this lesson very, very well. If we know what we want to do, who we want to become, and we are willing to put in a little hard work, in the end we will get there. Looking back we’ll see that just having a plan kept us out of the casinos and trouble that overcame those without a plan or purpose.
The solution. Pull out a good old-fashioned pen and a piece of paper and start to write. As so well proven in the book The Accidentally Genius, free writing will take you farther and open up your creative genius more effectively than just about any other activity you could do each day. (Yes, this is a plug for starting your own blog if you didn’t catch that.)
Start. Just start writing. Write about your life. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to do? Who do you know right now that is what you one day want to become? Are they famous? If so, purchase every book ever written by them or about them and read it. Do you love cycling? Read It’s Not About the Bike. Do you love business? Read The Snowball. Do you love politics? Read one of the dozens of books out there right mow about Ba-Rockstar Obama. Do you love religion? Read Jesus the Christ.
Learn. Study. Analyze. Ponder. Imitate. As you begin this reading, you’ll find out a great truth. 10,000 hours. That’s how long it has taken these people to become who they are. 10,000 hours. 10,000 hours is a very well-known phrase to anyone who has studied the importance of setting and accomplishing goals. These people have dedicated a very large portion of their life to a single idea. They had a plan.
So… after you’ve initially completed your free writing session (which should be an ongoing process) and you’ve started studying about those people whose lives you want to emulate, align your goals with your findings and research. Just as you cut unnecessary purchases when you start to take a budget seriously, you should also cut those unnecessary or damaging activities in our life that won’t lead you to your goal. If you are glued to the TV set sucking in as much Office, Chuck, and Dancing with the Stars as you can, you won’t reach your goals. These shows are designed to hold you down if consumed in large doses. Your hero, your example, your mentor didn’t get to where they are now by spending large quantities of time in TV land.
The second-to-last step. Place your written goals somewhere where you’ll see them and read them every day of your life. Last step. Do.
Reiterate. Free write about who or what you want to become. Study and research the lives of those who have become your ideal already. Cut the crap out of your life that doesn’t lead you to your end goal. Review you goals every day of your life. Do.
Like so many of you, I was born into a family with an extraordinary mother. I sit here writing this post in total awe as I consider the characteristics of the woman that brought me into this world! And yet I know I am not alone in this quiet moment of motherly meditation and gratitude. Tonight I had a visit from my mother who came to my home and sat on the couch in front of me looking so cute. She was so full of energy, so full of excitement to learn every little detail of my day. It brings a smile to my face just thinking of my time with her tonight.
There is something special when you look into your mother’s eyes. Her simple glance pierces deep as she considers the progress of her progeny. Her eternal love cuts through the clutter and a god-like compassion allows her to clearly see what life has in store for her little one. It is my belief that God speaks directly to the heart of a woman as she shoulders her responsibility to direct her children.
A few minutes after my mother left, I received a phone call from her. She took the next five minutes to give me sweet compliments and build my self esteem. There is not a power on this earth stronger than the power of motherly love. The confidence a mother instills in her child surpasses all trials, all temptations, all failures, and all sadness.
As already stated in his post, chances are you have had a similar influence in this world. If for some reason you don’t feel God has given you this gift, you need to open your eyes a little wider. What God chooses to hold back for purposes not known to man, He multiples one hundred times the blessings that shower down upon His children. If you don’t feel the love of a mother in your life right now, shut your eyes, kneel down on the ground and ask God to bless you with this feeling of love. I promise you that He will give you the answer to this prayer in His own time and in His own way. He chooses to answer prayers when it is unmistakeable that the gift came from Him. God be thanked for his gift of mothers!.
For some, waking up in the morning is a thoughtless, mundane activity they do with their eyes closed. They roll out of bed (assuming they own one), go to the bathroom, shower, shave, eat their oatmeal, read The Daily, and head to work. Honestly… how sad and how boring!.
For others though, this seemingly ordinary activity is accompanied by something a little more special. Rockstar status. What? Rockstar status. You know what I am talking about. All you sweet dudes and pretty babes that spend time at Gold’s Gym and the neighborhood tanning salon know exactly what I am talking about. You are special. You know it and so does everyone around you. You don’t just roll out of bed in the morning.
Boom! Your eyes pop open and you jump out of bed. You have big things to do. Big people to talk to. Big sales to make. Hot dates to go on. Your overabundance of energy fills the room, the house, the office, and permeates out your very pores. You are a Rockstar!.
So how do you manage your life if you are a Jimmer, a Miley Cyrus, or one of Ba-Rockstar Obama’s kids? How do you handle all the love, all the praise, all the superficial hoopla received for belonging to the ‘beautiful people’ group? What do you do to come back to a social status equilibrium where you blend into mainstream life? How to you come down from cloud nine?
All sarcasm and joking aside, there are mornings we all hop out of bed feeling like a rockstar (or at least there should be!). What is your personal plan to manage your rockstar status? How do you overcome yourself so it is bareable for others to be in your presence.
Some people never learn this simple secret: no one loves the overly confident and cocky. No one loves those who demean and belittle others around them. No one truly admires the conceded super jock or the hot girl with a loud laugh. There may be a superficial cloud that embraces the hype at first, but his cloud slowly diminishes and leaves the perpetrator all alone, unloved and unhappy.
The goal. The goal is then to manage the tendency to celebrate your amazing life. How does the rich man do it? How does the high school cheerleader do it? The professional surfer? How does Ba-Rockstar himself do it? The key is simple. The key is easy to find. It’s not hiding, but it’s all around you. What is the key?
The key. The key is to give ‘it’ away. Are you rich? A famous children’s author once suggested that you gaurd yourself from your riches by freely giving your money to those in need. Are you beautiful or popular? You tame the desire to flaunt your stuff by inviting others less socially-involved to join your group of friends. Are you smart? Find a younger, less experienced pupil to guide and train. Are you always happy and charming? Look for those around you who are sad and call them by their first name every time you see them. None of these ideas are mine, but I fully endorse and have started to practice each one in my own little way. So… that is the key. Give ‘it’ away. ‘He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.’
God built into you an incredible ability to love yourself. This is natural and healthy. This is the way we should experience life. But… He also expects us to manage our rockstar status. This then is my invitation to you. How are you going to manage your rockstar status? Start today. Start giving ‘it’ away today. Only you know what ‘it’ is. I challenge you to do it. Just do it!!.
Today I had a work meeting during lunch. Although most of the world would simply exclaim OMG(osh) and leave the corporate conference room as quickly as they could, 15 statisticians, researchers, and computer scientists were extremely captivated. What did our Ph.d. coworker from Holland present? What was so exciting? The presenter spoke about the importance of modeling white space. Deny your gut reaction to stop reading here. The words statistics and modeling won’t be mentioned again in this post. continuing on… for the last ten hours the words ‘white space’ have been consuming my thoughts.
Why was everyone so interested in white space? The space between the letters on a page? The negative space in a piece of art. The portion of the masterpiece left unmarked? The thoughts, emotions, and feelings not discovered in a survey?
I am color blind. I love white and I love black because those are the only two colors I can appreciate with those around me. In fact, if you were to enter my house you would see a lot, a lot of white and black. The contrast is important. Take away the white and what do you have? Remove the black and what have you become. Complete sadness. Never-ending bliss. Please… you cannot have one without the other. It is the white that makes the black so sophisticated and it is the black that makes the white so pure.
Application. Go to apple.com. Apple has redefined white space. What adjectives do people associate with Apple? Clean. Simple. Sophisticated. Beautiful. Desirable. Cool. Apple has simply done it right. It isn’t the impressive verbiage on the product or the product page that makes the company website and the product so aesthetically pleasing; it is the white space surrounding the product that brings out the true beauty. White space is essential and central to the success of the company and its world domination in the tech industry.
Take a minute and think about your life. What do you do with the white space you’ve been given. Huh? Not following… Space = Time. Black space = time dedicated to work, church, adult responsibilities. White space = your free time. What do you choose to do during your free time? If you are a parent, your white space is likely spelled F.A.M.I.L.Y. If you are single, you probably spell it differently. P.A.R.T.Y. O.F.F.I.C.E. T.V. or something similar.
I have a good buddy named Ben. Ben is one of the most enjoyable and unique people I know because he invests more time developing and creating white space than anyone else I have ever met. Don’t get me wrong. Ben’s black space is more developed than most 40 year-olds with his successful career in sales, starting multiple companies, and volunteering his time at community service projects. But… Ben has mastered what he does with his white space.
If you swim anywhere in Salt Lake City, there is a good chance Ben was in the lane next to you. If you frequent any of Utah’s canyons, he has probably passed you on his road bike. If you like watching the Iron Man, you likely saw the cameraman spotlight him. If you ski moguls, he has for sure flown past you. If you have a problem, he has probably already contacted you. If you cannot tell by now, Ben has already lived a couple of lifetimes. It isn’t the hard working businessman that makes Ben’s life so amazing, it is his investment in his white space.
The white space completes the black space and is what makes everything in life so beautiful.
No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
- John Donne
Your influence in this world (as well as your character) is invariable circular. Think back on your day today. What did you do? Were you alone? Were you with a group of friends? Did you go to work or call in sick? Did you read, write, watch TV, play ping-pong, or just sit and stare at a wall? No matter what you did today, it affected someone else. Either your presence in the physical world or the lack thereof made someone else happy, sad, lonely, thankful, loved, confused, or neglected. What you did today will affect your tomorrow. But why? I know that some of you reading this don’t believe me. That’s fine, but you’re wrong. ;)
Case in point: today one of my good friends and close work buddies was absent. They didn’t come in today. Who knows why. They simply didn’t come into the office today. Did this individual’s absence stop his influence in our office? Certainly not. In fact, his strong political views, his love for work, his weird YouTube.com music fetish, and his distinct style of sneezing all came up today in conversations both before and after lunch. To the entire office, this person ceased to exist physically, but their influence in our thoughts, jokes, and our work’s social circle kept creeping back into our conversations.
Every action you take, every word you speak, and every thought you have (be they for better or worse) will circle around either in your life or the life of someone with whom you come into contact. It doesn’t matter how large or how small the action may be it, it will resurface again in the future.
When I was a small boy I told a lie. I lied to my siblings. I woke up early on a Saturday morning and out of total fear, I lied to my brother and sister. Why did I lie? What did I say? Every Saturday morning before our early morning cartoons started, we would each tell the other siblings what dream we had the night before. Well… I was so scared to not share a story about having a dream that I lied. I told them I had a dream a lion was chasing the Smurfs. First off, what a dumb lie. The Smurfs? Please! Lame! You would think that a five word lie told by a five-year-old would disappear into limbo as it fell on what I thought were deaf ears. Sadly to say, this wasn’t the case. This dumb little story rears its ugly head time and time again. Not only do my siblings tell others about it, but now even my nieces and nephews know about it. Yep, Uncle Matti is a liar.
Whether your mug is posted on the homepage of news.google.com associated with some story of fraud or a friend recounts a kind deed you did in high school, your influence will be felt. So before you go and do something dumb tomorrow, remember the famous words of the rapper Ice Cube:
So come on and chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self. Chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self.
For those who don’t quite understand the slang above, urbandictionary.com might help out:
Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Take a step back and examine your actions, because you are in a potentially dangerous or sticky situation that could get bad very easily. Often in a harmful manner.
Used in context:
“I’m going out with a beautiful woman tonight, she’s married…”
“Fool, you better Check yourself before you wreck yourself!”
What’s your name?
Where did you grow up?
What do you do for work?
Are you studying? Working? What’s your story?
How do you spend your time?
Our society is chuck full of masters. They are everywhere you look. They’re lined up at the New York Stock Exchange. They’re predicting the day you’ll die and how much an insurance company is going to pay your family after you kick the bucket. They’re determining the strength of the soil to build a new high rise. They’re on the news, on the TV, in books on your shelves, in the magazines on your coffee table, and their names are even embroidered on the fancy clothes hanging in your closet.
In a society where there is an overabundance of masters and it is every man for himself, the question has to be asked, where are all the servants? They must be out there. Where are they? What are they doing? Why do they do it? What motivates them to serve instead of dictate to and direct the masses?
A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a close friend who introduced me to a wonderful nonprofit organization called Generation-S. in an extremely humble way, my friend went on to explain how he had a sudden rush of ideas when he was 21 years old. These ideas formed what is now a growing organization that trains teenage boys and girls to be Future Leaders in Service. I shall never forget the feeling I had as my friend described the selfless responsibility he felt to promote service to young boys and girls at an age when they are extremely inward focused and often times very rebellious.
The boys and girls who volunteer one to two hours of time each week to assist Generation-Service.org find themselves making bandages for sick kids in the hospital, taking hot chocolate to the elderly in care facilities, sorting and packing clothes to send to Haiti, boxing medical supplies to send to third wold countries, creating Christmas ornaments for orphans, and playing games in a Special Olympics with local mentally challenged groups. For the hundreds of people how have been involved in the service projects promoted by Generation-S, you won’t find one that has lost his confidence in today’s teenagers. The leaders of today learned this lesson years ago; the leaders of tomorrow need to learn these lessons now.
Forget yourself and go to work!
Whether you are the parent of a teenager, a teen yourself, or a young twenty something adult, Generation-S is looking for your help. Visit Generation-Service.org and ask how you can get involved.
Periodically in life, I am struck by someone I meet. Not that they are gorgeous, successful, intelligent, or charismatic; but because they are so humble and genuine. I look at them and I think, wow, that is someone that reminds me of God. I was chatting with a group of people today at a church I attend and one of the most humble and happy guys in our church came and said hi to me. He took the time to ask how I was doing. He was sincere and out of all the people I met today or chatted with at church, he is the person that has changed me today. I guess you could say it brought me “back home” and reminded me of what was truly important in life – being nice to everyone around you.
A few years ago, I came across a quote that has altered my perspective on relationships. It goes something more or less like this:
You can measure the character of man not by the way he treats his associates or those above him, but by how he treats and interacts with those he doesn’t need or those below him.
For some reason it is easy to strike up a conversation with someone who has a higher station than we do or is on the same social ground, but today this nice guy at my church taught me through his example that a man of true character treats those below him with the same love and respect.
It’s nice to be important; but it is more important to be nice.
Humor me. Laugh at me. Stop everything you are doing right now and just laugh at me. Could you image how dang great it would be if that were your life. Well tonight I went with a friend to a college MBA dinner and we were super entertained by standup comedian Stephen Jones. Stephen is so dang funny! That is his life. Everyone loves him. Everyone laughs at him. Even writing this post I cannot stop laughing. Take a quick break and watch the following clips.
Of course you cannot miss this one.
Good luck, Stephen!
Tonight I went skiing with some friends at Brighton Ski Resort in SLC, UT. What a fun night to be out making cruiser run after cruiser run with great skiers and snowboarders. If you are a skier or snowboarder and you haven’t been night skiing in Utah, you are missing out! There is no better way to freeze. Aside from my disappointing experience with my new POW Stealth ski gloves that made my hands freeze ;( it was great hitting the jumps at the park and cruising down the moguls near the top of the Crescent quad chairlift.
One of the skiers in our group, Phil, didn’t let a moment go by without meeting everyone around him. He made friends easily with everyone that joined him on the chairlift. If they were skiing alone, he told them about his Facebook group Utah Ski Bums and told them to give him a call if they needed someone to ski with later on in the season. There is something unique about Phil. When you are talking to him, you feel like you really matter. It is like he is a walking, breathing, real life example of everything Dale Carnegie taught in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Phil calls everyone by their first name and he repeats their name very often throughout the conversation. Phil laughs easily and is always asking people about their favorite hobbies and interests. To Phil it doesn’t matter if you are a millionnaire living the high life or if you are the straggler in a crowd that feels left out; he is determined to be your friend.
Lessons learned from Phil tonight:
1.) Assume everyone wants to be your friend.
2.) Call people by their first names all throughout your conversation with them.
3.) Always talk to people about their interests.
4.) Take time to meet the strangers around you and make an effort to truly become their friends.
5.) SKI UTAH!
Well… it is here. The Mac App Store is finally here. Yet another way for app developers to make a million dollars (or a billion dollars). Browsing around the music section I came across an app that I love! SoundCloud.com is probably the best music website I’ve ever visited. Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss have now given the world their gift, the ability to share very large music files with someone half way around the world. After just fifteen minutes, my phone is now loaded with hip-hop piano music. Creative and entertaining songs like Vitality are written and performed by brilliant musicians living in some corner of our shrinking world and somehow they’ve ended up on my television set in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Two days ago, I met Angela. Well, I came across her story on Mormon.org anyway and I was taken by her cute looks and by her sincere desire to share a testimony of her faith with complete strangers all over the world. I now know all about Angela, what is important to her, and what her thoughts are about religion. When a future employer wants to know more about Angela, they’ll possibly come across her profile on Mormon.org and they’ll know she is a committed and God-fearing person.
This morning I saw an Android phone in outer space. I now know Tommy Nourse must be a genius software engineer. He has to be, right? He works for Google.com. He sent an Android Nexus One 20 miles above the earth. In ten years, Tommy’s son is going to watch that video with a smile on his face and think how cool it is that he can find his dad online.
So, how long have you actually pondered about it? Pondered what? How much time have you invested in pondering what you are going to give to the world. What is the one God-given gift you are going to give to the world? Angela gave it when she shared her feelings about temples. Tommy gave it by starring in Android’s first space flight. Alexander gave it by partnering up and giving tens of thousands of musical artists the ability to share their talent.
Does it have to be big? Does the gift I give the world have to be big? The world is a big place and it intimidates me to think that I have anything to give. I live alone in a decently big city. There are days when I could simply exist and no one would know. No one would know that I am shirking my commitment to you. My commitment to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you feel loved. Some of us were born to do big things and some of us were born to do small things. But, we were all born to do something.
It’s time to make a social commitment. It’s time to commit to give something to the world. It’s time to visit with your next door neighbor. It’s time to leave a comment on someone’s blog. It’s time to upload a song to SoundCloud.com. It’s time to write an email to a friend in another country. It’s time to visit your grandparents.
IT’S TIME TO GIVE!
Although I don’t fully endorse the following quote from Despair.com, it makes me laugh pretty dang hard.
The Blogosphere is exploding- like a self-replicating supervirus bursting with mundane observations, bad poetry, and generously misrepresentative photos. Never have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.
Ha! That freaking cracks me up.
So… the question is… how do you bring traffic to your blog and how do you keep them coming back for more?
Here are some suggestions:
Blogging for Good in the Modern World
All growing up my mother would look at me and repeat 5 magical words, it’s all up to you. It’s all up to you. It’s all up to you. Day after day after day she would hold up her five fingers, look at me, and say, it’s all up to you. It’s all up to you. I would hear it at home in the morning. She would tell it to me as she drove me to school. I would hear those words on the way to the doctor. Soon the phrase just stuck in my mind. It ricocheted around the walls of my brain. It quickly became a part of who I was and who I would become.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Chinese Proverb
It’s all up to you. It’s all up to you. It’s all up to you. Again. Say it again. It’s all up to you. Those simply words define freedom. They build confidence. They unlock the door of invention.
If it’s all up to you, what are you going to do with that knowledge?
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Perhaps you see a new wrinkle forming on your upper right cheek. Maybe you see a thinner, more handsome version of your gym-going self. While some of us focus on a new haircut or a freshly shaven face, others of us frown on our imperfect waistline or our pale white skin. How many times do you look in a mirror each day? What do you focus on as you gaze at your ever-changing self? Whatever you see as you stare into the tinfoil on the other side of the thinly shaven glass, it only accounts for 10% of who you really are.
“Your eyes are beautiful!” I repeat, “Your eyes are beautiful!” But why? How can I say this when I am not in your presence? I say this boldly because your eyes hold the secret to the much more important 90% of you that should be the center of your everyday attention. Your eyes cannot lie. They cannot cover the truth, even when your words and actions attempt to do so. Once again, when you look in the mirror, what do you see? How often do you stare into your own eyes? What do you see?
What did the Master say?
The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Why would one of the most arguably important teachers of all time focus on the eyes being the focal point of the entire body? His words unmistakably speak the truth. Our outer condition is the direct result of our inner concentration and focus. Our “whole” self is made up of a superficial 10% outer layer and a highly intricate, complex 90% inner layer.
If you are displeased with your position in life, perhaps you need to change your focus. You may land the job because of your Giorgio Armani pin striped suit or because God simply blessed you with a pretty face. You may marry the boy or girl of your dreams because you flattered them with presents and showed them a good time. You may spend night after night in the gym in order to sculpt a perfectly trim and firm body. Congratulations! You’ve “bought” your way into life.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon giddiness comes to an end and the “I am sorry; I am still new at my job” gets really old, really fast. Sooner or later we all have to expose ourselves. We all have to drop everything and display our 90% inner self.
The 10% superficial layer may win you the job, but the 90% inner layer will get you the promotion.
If you are not happy with who you are or what you’ve become, change your focus. Make sure the percentages match up. 90% of your time should be spent on the inner 90% and 10% of your time should be focused on the outer 10%.
Go. Stand in front of a mirror. Stare at yourself. Stare into your eyes. What do you see? Do you like what you see? If so, keep building the 90% inner layer. If you don’t like what you see, drop the 10% outer layer and commit to rebuild and reshape your 90% inner layer.
The secret of the 90/10 rule. Everyone that you care about in life will eventually only see the 90% inner layer. The 10% outer layer that initially brought you together will eventually fade into a superficial memory.
“Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.”
This sentence is quite possibly the most powerful quote I’ve come across in my lifetime. Period. Why? It speaks volumes on what you or I may accomplish in life. What holds us back from our dreams? What stops us from accomplishing greatness? It is simple. We fear that we won’t measure up. This PRE-active fear stops us from even starting the activities we truly desire.
In a moment of inspiration, a voice within us hints that we might be a great tennis player, a gorgeous ballerina, an intellectually stimulating author, and what do we do? Instead of taking out a piece of paper and a pen to actively brainstorm and research how we might accomplish these goals, we decide to “think about it” for a while. Our devil-advocating self begins to whisper to us that we don’t have the time, the talent, or the endurance to possibly pay the price in order to achieve our newly found desire. We don’t have what it takes to achieve greatness.
Putting the kibosh on a dream before even starting it is giving in to a pre-mature death. If you want to be a professional athlete, pay the price. If you want to start your own business, surround yourself with good literature and experienced mentors. If you want a wonderful marriage, work for it. At times, outside influences we cannot control create a sub conscience fear that stops us from even starting. We don’t put forth more effort to fix our marriage because our spouse has already verbalized their hatred, their discontent, their desire to start a new life. Is it too late? We say to ourselves, “why should I start now if the end is inevitable? Why should I go through the pain if I know I cannot change how someone else sees me.”
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
As you choose to live by the verse so beautifully composed by Mother Teresa above, you’ll find that your internal change of attitude will adjust and actually control the environment around you. You cannot change others, their opinions, their views on life, or their reality, but your example can and will influence them. Actions are more powerful than words. Change the inner self and you will have a much greater impact on the world around you.
Dop·pel·gäng·er[dop-uhl-gang-er; Ger. daw-puhl-geng-er] is a tangible double of a living person.
Back in 2003, I read an article in Scientific American that intrigued me very much. The opening paragraph read:
“Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.”
The article was well written and supported by vast amounts of scientific and statistical knowledge. Since I read that article seven years ago, I have chatted about the subject with numerous friends to get their take on it. Although most of my acquaintances were quick to shoot down the idea as a total impossibility, I contemplated what the idea of a doppelganger really meant. At the time I thought, “with so many billions of people out there on our planet, there was surely someone very, very similar to me. An identical replica? No, but there probably was an individual that shared my same tastes, my thought pattern, my appearance, and almost my exact life.” Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that the idea is complete nonsense.
As a choice modeling statistician, I’ve come to realize that although there are major trends and patterns in the choices we make, the pathways that lead us to these choices are personal, independent, and absolutely unique. Here is a simple scenario. I may decide to further my education. My “doppelganger” could make the exact same decision. We may end up at the same school, study the same subject, learn from the same professor, and study in the same library. We might both get A-’s in the same class. Theoretically, we could even be roommates and live in the same rundown college apartment. The differences? I chose to return to school to increase my base salary. My “doppelganger” returned to school because he was bored at his job and desired a more challenging work environment. We shared a very similar experience, but our motives differed slightly and therefore our entire experience was influenced by a distinct and separate thought pattern. I sat in class thinking about a nicer house and a more luxurious car. My “doppelganger” ate up each theoretical word flowing from our professor’s mouth and applied the newly gained knowledge to prior issues he experienced at his old job. Same physical experience, but two drastically different thought paradigms.
In his recently published book Linchpin, Seth Godin comments on how false it is when a person doesn’t feel like they have something unique to contribute to humanity. They are cheating themselves and those around them when they choose to let someone else find the solution. For years, I’ve relied on others with more knowledge and more experience to help solve my problems. I’ve spoken with married friends about marriage. I’ve read marketing books written by the smartest minds in the industry. I’ve Googled how to apply a particular statistical procedure to challenging work problem. In short, I realized I had stopped thinking. I was no longer the creator, but the consumer of other people’s thoughts. I wasn’t too much different that a Google spider crawling the web and regurgitating others’ ideas to answer most issues I encountered in life.
The notion that someone else will produce the idea you keep captive is false. It may be similar in nature, but the approach will be different and the outcome will certainly follow suit. You are an individual. Your thoughts are different than those of any other human on this planet (or any other planet in the universe or multiverse). Your voice is singular. Your creativity is unique. You have a God-given right to create ideas, solve problems, and gain unique understanding and insight.
The difference between a successful man and a less fortunate man is often defined by the former seeing an opportunity and seizing it while the latter lets it casually pass him by. It is not luck that a man succeeds, but it is his desire, hard work, and action that sets him apart from those around him. [Thoughts from James Allen]
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
We live in a world of plastic. Surgeons have invested years in mastering the art of enhancing our outer beauty. Thanks to their genius and gifted talent some of us stroll along showing off our new lip job. Others walk around with their new noses stuck a little higher in the air. A little botox here and a little lipo there is commonplace and almost expected at a “certain” age of blemish and imperfection.
While our surgically enhanced world is threatening and damaging our superficial exterior, it is literally rotting our sensitive and personal interior. Is it real or is it fake? Are his eyes blue or are his contacts blue? These are questions we ask ourselves as we associate with our friends, relatives, and strangers on the street. Let’s face it; there is now a strict social norm. You are either skinny or you are fat. She is either gorgeous or she is homely. He is either muscular and tan or he is a wimp. The impending assumption is simple. If you aren’t born into this perfect scenario of natural beauty and brawn then you have to fake it.
There are a million reasons why people seek assistance when they are not pleased with their appearance. Not all of these reasons are bad and none of us should be found judging others for their decision to participate. The sad reality is this. When you decide that you are not beautiful enough and you must fake it to join the ranks of the aesthetically pleasing, there is something inside of you that breaks. Fake it and break it. But what was broken? Doesn’t having the surgery improve your social life or increase the love of your spouse? Quite possibly. That is not my point. The harsh reality might not have been perceived immediately after the change, but it was perceived beforehand. Whether someone told you or you thought of it yourself, you bought into the lie that the real you wasn’t acceptable. The future you, the fake you seemed more appealing than the real you.
We put up a front because we fear those around us MAY not like us. They MAY not accept our real sense of humor, our real tastes, our real laugh, our real thoughts, our real self. We imprison our real identity and we act how we THINK others want us to act. We say what we THINK others want us to say. The irony is this. If you aren’t even confident enough to know what you want and to act how you want to act, why in the world do you think you can even begin to know what your girlfriend wants or what your spouse thinks. They spend time with you because they fell in love with the real you in the first place. No one wants to spend time with a poser. No one respects a faker. No one loves an imitation best friend.
Try it. Be yourself. Say what you want to say when you want to say it. Eat what you want to eat when you want to eat it. Vocalize your thoughts. Share your feelings. Write a blog for the unseen digital world to digest. Be yourself. You will be happier and develop more meaningful relationships the moment you give in to this truth and you know it. I challenge you to do it today. Turn back to the real you.
In three words, who are you? What do YOU represent? What do you want your name (your personal brand) to say to the world using three simple words? If the only three words you can conjure up are all acronyms for degrees you earned in college, you are overly complicated. Declutter your image. Declutter your personal brand. Shed the extra fluff and come up with three words that define your contribution to the world, your contribution to your employer, your contribution to your family, or your contribution to your mission in life. What matters most to you?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about some philosophical or theoretical question I just want you to think about your life as you read this blog post. Pull out a pencil and paper and just write! Write down everything that means something to you. What are your main goals in life? What makes you happy? Who do you want to make happy? What are your passions? What characteristics mean the most to you? Who do you admire? Why? Why do you spend time with the people with whom you choose to spend time each day? What three words do you want someone to say when they see your mug in some picture on Facebook or Flikr? What do you want to do before you are 40, 65, or 80?
Once you’ve completed this exercise, make another list. What have you spent time doing today, yesterday, last week, or over the course of the past year? What habits are you in right now? Do they align with the three words you’ve chosen for your personal brand? If not, then ditch them. Stop them. Cut them out of your life. Your life is better without them in it.
There are for sure scores of you reading this post that are saying in your minds, but I am human. I am complicated. I have responsibilities on so many levels: home, family, work, church, entertainment, friends, etc. How can I pick three words to describe me and incorporate them on every level of my multi-faceted life? If you are asking this precise question, you already recognize how cluttered your life has become. Does this clutter affect you? Does it impact your ability to focus or execute at work or while you are alone with your spouse? Sadly, the answer is yes. Your image has become too large, too complicated, and now covers more territory than it was ever meant to cover. Your image is pixelated. Turn on your computer and open up Photoshop. Let’s see what we can do.
Examples. Who has defined themselves in three words?
1.) Philip McGraw. Life rewards action.
2.) Winston Churchill. Never give up.
3.) Stephen Covey. Interdependency follows independence.
4.) Pablo Picasso. Drink to me.
5.) William Shakespeare. Thought is free.
6.) Thomas Hobbes. Knowledge is power.
7.) Horace Burns. Friends are treasures.
8.) Huey P. Long. Share the wealth.
9.) Goethe. Remember to live.
10.) Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. Time is money.
Read the list again, but this time ask yourself if the three words following each name above helped brand that person? How did the three words play into their mission in life? What was the consequence that followed after they decided to focus on what mattered most to them in life?
You may ask, Matt have you gone through this exercise? What are your three words? Do you have a personal brand?
Here it is.
Matt Poulton. Thanks for smiling.
When I look into the faces of all those I love, when I think about what brings the most enduring satisfaction in life, when I consider that which is most precious to me, I think of a smile. Did I know this before brainstorming? No. Before truly thinking about this exercise, what was on my list? Family. Friends. Being Nice. Hard work. Business books. Church. Sports. Mountain unicycling. Reading. With all these options then, why did I choose smiling as the theme of my life? I once heard someone say that it’s what you do when no one is looking that defines who you really are. As cheesy or lame as it may sound, when I am all alone at night and laying in my bed before going to bed, I smile. I just lay there in bed and smile. No one can see me. There is a possibility that no one will ever see me do this, but that is what I do. That is what defines me.
Last step. Write down these three words that define your personal brand and put them somewhere you will see them every single day. Hang the paper on the wall. Stick it to your mirror. Put it in your car. It doesn’t matter where you put it or how pretty or neat the writing may or may not be, but put it somewhere you will see it every day.
Nike. Just do it. Stop what you are doing and grab a quick piece of paper and jot down words until you come up with the three simple words that define who you are. Do it. Just do it. You have nothing to lose but your overly complicated, cluttered, pixelated image that you claim is your “personal brand.”
Irony of ironies. It takes three weeks of persistent, hard work to establish a good habit and one day of exposure to fall into a bad one. The odds are against you and the odds are also against me. If we take this literally, we are 21 times more likely to find ourselves living a mediocre life full of ease and comfort than we are to search out our passions and stretch ourselves. We are 21 times more likely to watch TV than we are to read a book. It is 21 times harder to go back to school than to stay at your current job. None of these activities is altogether good and none of them is totally bad.
Change. Where do you start? How do you begin to change your life? I am not going to pretend like I actually have the answer for you because I don’t. I simply don’t. I am not sure what makes you happy or what keeps you up late at night. I don’t know what you do, where you eat, or with whom you socialize. I don’t understand what makes you angry or brings you joy. Nobody completely understands that but you.
Inspiration. What drives you? What comes to your mind when you are most stimulated? What do you dream about doing in your life? What would you give up to achieve your dream? If you wish to change your life, you must consume your passions or better said, let your passions consume you. Find them. Search for them. Brainstorm upon them. Sit down with a pencil and paper in a quiet place and ponder upon these questions.
Persistence. When your conscientious surrenders and you find your passions buried deep in the cobwebs of your mind, dedicate yourself to their cause. Persist. Prove to yourself that you want a better life. Prove to yourself that you will choose a challenging path instead of an easier one. For if you do, the rewards are 21 times better than they might have been. Following your passions will make you 21 times happier because you worked 21 times harder to find them and embrace them.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Irony of ironies. It takes three weeks of persistent, hard work to establish a good habit and one day of exposure to fall into a bad one.
Was it in 5th grade? Was it in high school? When did it happen? At some point in your life someone told you that it was not okay to be you. Whether it was the super jock on the varsity basketball team, the middle school teacher that should have quit years before, or a jealous grade school friend who also had a crush on little Susie; somewhere along the line at some point you were called stupid, odd, fat, ugly, dumb, klutzy, funny looking, too talkative, ignorant, bald, boring, hairy, too tall, shorty, blonde, too slender, or worst of all worthless. The saddest part of this little mishap is that you actually believed the person who said it. Somewhere along the way you surrendered and an outside intruder hijacked your personality. You held up you hands in social defeat and said to yourself (and the world), “maybe you are right.”
hi·jack - [hahy-jak]
1. to steal (cargo) from a truck or other vehicle after forcing it to stop
2. to rob (a vehicle) after forcing it to stop
3. to seize (a vehicle) by force or threat of force
How long has it lasted? Has deep has it penetrated? How long are you going to stay in hiding? Who are you?
These are all questions we should ask ourselves because there is in each of us a fear that our true self isn’t attractive, isn’t smart, isn’t funny, isn’t worth something. Even the loud and obnoxious (who sadly struggle the very most) suffer from the “apparent” weaknesses of their beautiful and God-given character.
Well it is time to take it back. It is time to come out of hiding. It is time to return to the true you. God created you and gave you life so you could live. So YOU could live! Take some time today, tomorrow, or this next Sunday to ask yourself, “Who am I?” “What do I love?” “What is stopping me from following my true passions in life?” Take time to think, reflect, and WRITE IT DOWN.
Make a plan how you are going to unlock the door to your social compound and come out into the world once again. Don’t do it quietly or half-embarrassed like you did in elementary school. Do it with pride. This is your life, your brand, your time to live. Express yourself in your language, your dress, your humor, and your voice. Say what you want to say without the thought that your friend might think it is dumb. Tell your wife and kids you love them regardless of the situation or the company. Be true to your internal values.
If this isn’t a Chinese Proverb, it should be; “People like you most when you don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t.”
Round 1. Perhaps we are more alike than we are different. We are born into this world, survive our toddler years, and enjoy a blissful and naive childhood. Later, we grow and develop into socially awkward teenagers who for a short time stare in the mirror each day totally fixated on the strangers peeking back at us. Moments of embarrassment and sadness come and go as we struggle to figure out our socially evolving selves. Our bodies change, our minds quicken, and our voices deepen and crack; but there is a change infinitely larger taking place inside of us.
Round 2. As our awareness and understanding of the world around us increases, so does our desire to figure out how we fit into the social architecture of life. We shy away from peers and become very studious. We luckily (or unluckily) mesh well with the popular kids and start hanging out with the opposite sex. We deny that we are getting older and we continue digesting comic books and cartoons. We struggle making friends with the “normal” kids and fall in with the smokers and druggies. Whatever the scenario, we find a way to communicate our feelings, our thoughts, and our deepest passions. Whether it is Harry Potter, our first girlfriend, the Duck Tails, or our gothic buddies, we all have the initial euphoric feeling of fitting in with someone or something that defines us and makes us feel happy and needed. We become known as the nerd, the school hottie, the loser, the smart kid, or the stoner. We identify with others who luckily or unluckily find themselves in the same social bucket. We continue on this road until our graduation caps are thrown into the air and our high school text books are shoved into the corner of our closets next to our childhood stuffed animals.
Round 3. We move to another city and into a college dormitory. We once again stress as we search for the goody-goodies, the athletes, the partiers, or the library lovers. We eventually embrace the new lifestyles we’ve created and struggle through our most defining and academically challenging years to survive the pressures of campus and the enjoyment of total freedom. No longer do we hesitate to address adults or shy from putting ourselves out there with a cute girl. We talk to corporate recruiters with confidence and debate with English professors over mediocre papers. We feel in our minds that we have “arrived.”
Round 4. We finish school and move to yet another city or back to our home town. We convince some big company we actually learned something during our degree and work our way into our first big post-college, entry-level job. Yet again, we scramble to adjust to the new demands of full-time work, the responsibility of only parting on the weekends, and the freedom to follow our passions as we please. We slowly work our way up the corporate ladder and gain increased respect from peers and GTD-driven managers, all while walking down the marriage aisle and cuddling the first of many crying newborns.
Round 5. Our strategically placed alarm goes off at 6:00 am. We slowly roll out of bed, slip into the bathroom, and once again stare into the mirror at our now all-to-common 40-year-old faces. We quickly chat with our spouse about whose day it is to take the kids to school, how we will hit our 8:00 am conference call, and what we will eat for our late dinner. Responsibility. Time. Execution. Our lives have changed and once again we find ourselves struggling to define who we are, who we have become, and why we are doing what we do day after day after day. We return to our younger years and return to the tennis courts, the television, or the gym. We seek to prove to ourselves and to the world that we STILL know who we are and what we are meant to do. Our insides crave to grasp onto something that will once again bring the euphoric feeling of youth and satisfaction. Our close friends tell us to seek out new passions and hobbies, develop new talents, and try new things.
Round 6. The doorbell rings and your grandchildren are at the door with their parents for Sunday dinner. The house is full of laughter and small rubber balls are being thrown all around the tastefully decorate living room. You help your daughter calm the crying baby, you awkwardly walk in on your teenage grandson staring at his face in the bathroom mirror, you bump into your son who is checking work email on his iPhone, you pull the tennis racket out for your high school granddaughter, and you gently kiss your 60-year-old sweetheart as you quietly reminisce on the euphoric feelings of who you are and who you have become. You are defined.
Our world is becoming increasingly polarized. We want big houses, small phones, large wardrobes, compact cars, large diamond rings, small processors, big televisions, and more money for less work. More and more meaningless are the words average, common, and sufficient. Society doesn’t reward a consumer product unless it does more than the competition while taking up less personal space. Netbooks. iPhones. Crackberries. “Give us twice as much for half the price” is not only high on the consumer wish list, but is a cross-industry expectation for companies that will survive this bigger than big and smaller than small new digital paradigm in which we live.
Today alone, I had a meeting with a marketer working out of his home in Las Vegas, a salesman sitting in front of his home computer in Las Angeles, a project manager living in the Netherlands, and a vice president on the road visiting a client back East. Is this normal? Was it normal 10 years ago? Will it be this way in 10 more years?
The world of business is growing and shrinking at a speed that is orders of magnitude faster than any other industrial era. What does this mean for you? What does this mean for me? What does it mean to the big business trying to cut cost and increase profits? Who would have imagined that Disney hit it right on the head when he opened the small boat ride for little children in 1964? It’s a Small World After All… It’s a Small World After All… was an ingenious vision of the future of the working world. Long ago Disney wisely said, “See ya” to this disappearing notion of a city upon a hill. His foresight stuck over “400 brightly costumed audio-animatronic dolls frolicking in a spirit of international unity” in a single dang building. He knew his brand would become the most popular brand in the world when he catered to a little boy in Mexico and a teenage girl in Greece.
What application can we draw from Disney? How do these growth patterns impact me and how will this affect you? The future face of business is no longer covered in bright red makeup. The future of business will not only expect complete autonomy in the future, but demand it. Days of large business buildings and beautifully decorated offices will one day almost completely disappear. The highest paid, most intelligent employees will demand to work from home in their pajamas. Complete autonomy will dominate the workforce in each industry (as is already the case for many large institutions and businesses).
Brands will continue to grow, but the faces of these brands will drastically change. No longer will executives entertain visiting clients in their gaudy conference rooms or eat disgustingly expensive meals together in large cities. They will plan, strategize, and discuss using their microscopic personal computers from the comfort of their own home. Brands will be broken down into a series of hundreds and thousands of sub-brands. Sub-brands? What do I mean by sub-brands? I mean you and me. I mean the project manager working for a major consumer products company in the Netherlands. The more autonomous we become, the larger the distance grows between our actually daily physical interactions, the more powerful these sub-brands (us!) will become. Major clients in your industry will buy from Steve because they love Steve. They could care less (I repeat CARE LESS) who Steve works for because Steve’s face has become just as powerful if not more powerful than the company’s brand and identity. Steve has become his own independent brand. He is a sub-brand for the highly-intelligent, money-hungry corporate executive. Steve is the future of branding. Steve’s sub-brand will be the most expensive bi-product of this shrinking-growing working phenomena we currently call life.
Everyone has a story. Each story is unique, deserves attention, and is undeniably important. Exploring and documenting ourselves, our lives, our thoughts, and our small part in society is not only deeply satisfying but critical to our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. The more thought we put into our seemingly common and ordinary lives, the more we realize our power to influence and build others around us. As a person, do I matter? Yes, but no more and no less than my next door neighbor, my mailman, or the orphan living on the other side of the world.
The central key to happiness is based largely in our power to create. We create our destiny. We create our happiness. We create our future. What is the goal of mattpoulton.com? I want to prove to the world that each and every one of us has a story that matters and should be published for all to see.
Is my life extraordinary? No. Am I famous? No. Am I popular? Nope. Do I even care about these things? No. Simply put, I love people. I love to hear about their successes and what they do. I am uncontrollably interested in how people pass their time, what hobbies they have picked up or hope to pick up, what passions they unleash or keep prisoner, what motivates them to action, and what makes them happy. No one respects you more than when you truly act like yourself. Be yourself. No matter how silly or embarrassing you think you are at times, all people really want is the real you.
The real you is tangible. I can see you, touch you, taste you, and hear you. When I hear your name, my mind is flooded with images, memories, and feelings I have for you. No matter how short or how long your name, it is a symbol in my mind that brands who you are. As people, we are all different. As human beings, we are all unique. As friends, we are all needed. God gave all of us passions. What are your’s? What are you doing about them?
My deepest desire is that you will discover your passions and invest in them as you read my philosophies and life experiences on mattpoulton.com.
Today, a close friend asked me to write a blog about puzzles. As I wrote the blog, I thought about the entire process of putting together a puzzle from start to finish. There are many parallels when you think about putting together a puzzle and starting a business. Initially, you are all ramped up and ready to go. You rip open the box and see 5,000 pieces laying on top of each other, next to each other, or upside down. I call this the brainstorm phase of setting up and running your own business. The flood gates open and idea after idea starts coming (generally when you are trying to go to bed at night). There is no order to the ideas, but that doesn’t stop them from coming. The intelligent thinkers take time to consider each thought, write it down, brainstorm some more, tell their close friends and associates, and continue the process of refining the evolving concept. This can be a dangerous part of the process though as so many are too quick to hop on initial ideas that still need time to germinate before they will actually be viable in the marketplace.
Back to the puzzles. Step two: you dump the box out and start sifting through all the pieces. You put the dark pieces with the dark ones, the red pieces with the red ones, and the white pieces with the whites. Next step: you locate all pieces that appear to lay on the perimeter of the puzzle. You take the time to put together the outer shell entirely before going on with the more difficult/detailed inner guts of the puzzle. Similarly, all of the brainstorming, talking, and reviewing of business ideas (generally taking place over the course of multiple months or even years) leads to a crisp sense of which market you want to attack, what products or services you want to offer, and what barriers are going to “try” to stop you from finishing the development phase of the project.
Puzzles. Once the outer portion of the puzzle is in place, you have hundreds of cutouts to study. Some are males. Some are females. Some are jagged. Some are smooth. Don’t take too much time searching for any one piece. Work on what is coming to you at the moment. The difficult piece selections will solve themselves with much more efficiency when you have additional detail. Inside the border of the unfinished puzzle, you start to find small groups of pieces that quickly come together. Others take much time as they appear to have so many possible connections, but just keep failing. Stick with it. The answers come after much thought and patience and they generally come in such a way that you see the start from the finish with much clarity. You know you are consumed when you are thinking about the puzzle at night when falling asleep or in the shower. Ha! There you have it. When you hit this phase of the puzzle project you know that a deep passion has entered into your thoughts. Business: work on the ideas that are flowing at the time. Don’t spend too much time on any piece of the business development pie as you are sure to see with more clarity in future thought sessions.
Puzzles: finally, you will get very close to the finish line with only a handful of pieces. Stick with it. Some do all the work for days or weeks just to let the unfinished puzzle lay on their coffee table for months on end. Stick with it. You will want to quit. Those close to you may ask you to put away that silly idea and de-clutter your life. “Liberate yourself!” they exclaim. Those that pay attention to these misguided voices will never achieve their dream. You may need a break. Your spouse or children may temporarily need more of your time, but don’t let the passion die. Stick with it. Stick with it.
Application to life: only you know and fully understand your potential and your dreams. Only you know the passions that reside in your inner-most thoughts. Don’t be lazy. Don’t sell yourself short. As paraphrased in the excellent work of James Allen in As a Man Thinketh, a small workshop cannot contain the hard-working, driven apprentice. He will one day find himself with the great philosophers, businessmen, politicians, artists, poets, and prophets. He it is that will influence the world and those in it to achieve their dreams.
Follow your passion. Work for your passion. Protect your passion. For your passions guide you through this short term test we call life.