Author: aaronvelky

Independence is…

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Have you ever been really frustrated at work and had a thought like, “I can’t wait to retire and be in charge of my schedule!”

Or better, “If I started my own company, I’d never need to lean on anyone – it would be me in charge!”

I remember in my employee days what kinds of things would trigger these thoughts. My boss telling me to do something I fundamentally disagreed with. Being asked to do things outside of normal work hours. Getting reprimanded for going outside the boundary to do the right thing.

The struggle was real!

So you can imagine that with the lustful lens of entrepreneurship, I thought that it was total freedom and independence. 

I didn’t owe anything to anyone. I was my own.

So maybe you think this too. 

Many people think these are pairs –

Independance

Entrepreneurship

In reality, they are opposites!

Independence is enough self-trust to take on risk, challenge and fear to create our own opportunities, and to do so despite what others think is best for us.

Notice, this definition, one I had to sit on for a while, isn’t about freedom and attachment to others or demand, it’s all about our choices to operate of our self-interest.

So if we think about what we need to be independent, we also need sustainability. By Sustainability I mean that our own needs can be met because of our strength and skills and mindset – all four things stemming from financial, physical, mental and emotional health.

When I look at how the world portrays independence, it’s only considerate of us….

One. Not others. Ours only. 

It’s all about what we have, are, and can be. It’s all us and our ability to take and extract value. 

And the way most people would describe entrepreneurship is similar….

“It’s my ability to build a business that makes me money and takes care of my needs for success, significance, etc.”

Selfish language…notice it?

It’s an absolute opportunity to increase our earnings, happiness, work-life balance and several other things. But growth is the key. It’s an ability to satisfy our need to lead, or our need to be significant. It feeds our ego. It can feed our connection and growth too.

But to me, these are opposite. They exist in contradiction. 

Being an entrepreneur you actually INCREASE your dependency. Let me explain.

To be a great entrepreneur, you must be DEPENDANT, or better stated, INTERDEPENDENT

To solve problems, you need others, you need to listen, to hear, and to understand. For who will pay for your solutions? Where will this money you want to earn come from?

To solve problems you need to take action with, be a part of and immersed in a culture or community. How will your business be sustainable if you cannot stay a part of an economic ecosystem?

You need others – and without others, you cannot be an entrepreneur. From the macro, no one can be an entrepreneur alone. 

Expectations of being more independant is normal and simple to new entrepreneurs, but they in fact should relish the moments that create interdependance. These can exist in a lot of ways.

If you hire employees or teammates, or bring on partners, you are now INTERDEPENDANT – the success of one is the success of all. As is failure.

If you have a client that’s now a part of your business, you are dependent on them for revenue, and they on you for service. 

To misunderstand this is to devalue and shortside your growth as a business and leader. 

So, as you go about considering your next phase of independence, it seems logical to review what you believe independence to be and how it works.

Neighborhoods, communities, companies are all interdependent. Just like I rely on the mailman, UPS and FedEx to bring packages to me when I order them, trusting they will leave them in the mail area, I also trust that the residents where I live will not take what I’ve ordered for themselves.

Without this trust, there is no such things as freedom, but our freedom stems from Interdependence.

What’s something you depend on now that you are grateful for? Is it a person? A thing (car, train etc) or a place (gym, etc)?

Share your thoughts below!

5 Questions to Ask so You Set Better Goals

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So you’ve done it all right – you set the big ambitious goal, you went after it and one of three things happened:

You hit it, and realize that it provided no fulfillment. You got the achievement high, and went on to the next thing

You missed it, and feel like you failed. Maybe you feel like “oh I don’t really care” or maybe you feel like “I hate myself and my inability to hit my goals – but either is a symptom of the same thing

You hit it, feel good about it, and are wondering, “Now that I’m here, what next??” What should I do?

Who Cares About Goal Setting – I’m Fine Living in Flow

I loved living in flow. I was always calm, and easy and successful and making tons of –

Wait. No that wasn’t it.

I was frustrated, impatient, and eager to prove myself worthy…..

Flow, or what we might think we are doing, can also be intentional disconnection from our deeep desire to grow and be successful. Really, I was running from my best self – scared of what I could be more than what I was.

It wasn’t flow. It was fear. I wasn’t growing, and I didn’t want to own it. The opposite of flow seemed like too much drive – number tracking, money-hungry wall street guys on their way to millions by ruining their body, ethics, morals and  Not me. NO! Not me at all!

Was there a way to be in flow AND set goals?

If you’re like me, you’ve been puzzled by goal setting. We don’t learn it in school, we don’t learn it from our parents usually (unless you’re super lucky), and we don’t get practice at it early enough to make it feel like we understand it.

I struggled with it.

I used to set these goals like earn $1M by 30, or Read 52 books this year, and I would totally fail. This was the flow version of me. “It will happen, the universe will provide.” Then I’d play Halo for 3 hours over some whiskey.

So, then I got into some bigger, badder groups of amazing people that pushed me.

Finally a solution! Accountability, drive, ambition – and UNLIMITED POWER!!! (Say it like the genie from the 1st cartoon Alladin!)

I started crushing it – hitting the goals, fixing my mindset. I highly recommend that anyone really work on their mindset FIRST before you really look at goals at all. So there I was – knocking em down. Taking names. Super Aaron.

But something was off. Maybe you’ve felt this too.

If you’re on the other side, setting goals and making things happen for yourself, maybe this is you.

Almost like, “So what,” I was feeling like I hadn’t ever cared about the goal in the first place. I as doing what the world wanted me to do. I was making money, buying nice things, and falling into the traps of normalcy.

I had to evolve yet again. This was AFTER hitting my goals consistently.

Here’s what we don’t talk about – goals are most often misaligned.

When we have no idea what we’re doing, of course they are! We don’t know how to align them.

Here’s an example of goals that are misaligned for me, that I experienced and dealt with the hard way:

Goal #1: Build a business that makes over $1M in revenue

Goal #2: See 98 countries over the next 3 years.

Can you spot what’s wrong here?

Here’s the truth….

The Truth About Goals and our Deepest Wants

If you set two goals going opposite directions, one going east and one going west, which way will you end up going?


That’s right. No where.

Imagine trying to create a business while on the go. Very few can do it, and truthfully, those that do, often lie about their lifestyle. If you work on the beach, awesome.

But you might not see that someone worked on the beach for 15 hours. Take it all with a grain of salt.

To build a big businesses will take you lots of time. You need to know your customers, talk with them, figure out a product, build the products, attract and recruit a team.

Is that possible while you’re in a new country every week? Hell no.

HEEEEEELLLLLLL NO.

So, the process is flawed, and you make no progress, get frustrated, and quit.

But it’s not your fault. No one taught you how to do this.

It wasn’t a part of school. Your teachers don’t know it. And no one wants to talk about it.

But I will!

5 Ways to Set Better Goals – Reflective Questions to Ask During the Setting Process

Why do I want this?

Is this your want or the worlds? Do you actually value what you’re going after?

Here’s the thing. If you know your values, this is easy.

The world wants you to look good, be in shape, wear expensive clothes, have a luxury car, live in a mansion. Each of those industries is pushing for you to buy their version of the vision – but you can’t, and shouldn’t have them all. What kind of life is that?

Double down on what you love. I work from home a lot, so I invest in a place with lots of natural light and lots of open space. I don’t buy junk and I don’t spend on silly decor.

I love to travel, so I don’t do much in the states. I can skip the theme parks – Ill go to prague instead, and when I travel, I travel first class. My tickets to London, round trip – $145. My tickets to Prague – $45. Ask me how here.

I like to learn, so I spend a LOT on education. Upwards of 5 figures per year. Last year I spent over $10,000 on education. Know what I don’t buy? Cars that are $60k+, or belts that are $200.

What would I do once I finish it?

Every move must have a purpose. So what is this ones? Will you be in shape? Will you have enough money to invest in something that will last? What’s the plan, Stan?

Most of us set achievement goals Then, we back it up with “When I get to X, I’ll be happy.”

No. You won’t.

You won’t be happy and you won’t stop there. So, I can encouurage you to think differently because once I did, it changed this whole process for me. Instead of setting goals that got me somewhere without a purpose, I started setting long term goals that helped me build.

I met a guy that was running Iron Mans in his 50s. I don’t know that I want to do that, but I do want to emulate his fitness. So, how do I do that.


All that really requires is me to stay in shape – so my goals are now about my process of moving. I set a mile goal  and a gym visit goal – not to quantify my weight loss or my weight #gains or something that will inevitably change, instead I double down on what is the intention behind the goal.

If your intention is to get rich, cool! Rock on! Set the goal of starting an income stream, or investing in property. But know the endgame.

Avengers, and the massive success Marvel had, taught me this – if you keep the end in mind, you can build something magical along the way and enjoy every single time you sit down to reflect on what story you just wrote.

What process does this create?

Much like above, we’re back to THE point here.

I’m a big believer in the process and how important it is to success. So, now all my goals are based on building a process that will last, not just one that comes and goes. If I’m building the best lifestyle I possibly can, then I have to avoid diets and go to the root of it all – the behaviors taht repeat themselves over and over.

If you generally don’t like to do anything adrenaline seeking, but set the goal of jumping out of a plane, make sure you understand how it fits in with your future. I get it – you want to prove you can do it. But then what? Will you then write that book? Quit your job? What is the point?

Let’s say you want to start a business.

Start withthe  understanding that you don’t build overnight, it will take you a long time and a lot of effort, and you will have to give things up. You will NOT be Zuckerberg in 2 years.

So, if you know that’s true, play long term and build a vision for how you will get there.

The number of people that have quit their dream business building empire because it got tough speaks to how many people don’t work on the process. And when it gets tought, they back out.

Because they don’t believe in building. Just achieving.


If you fail, you must not be good enough. When I fail, it makes me good enough.

Capiche?

Is this sustainable?

Let’s keep building, if you’re going for a one-shot goal, make sure that’s what it should be. Otherwise, if you’re looking to lose a couple pounds, a sustainable goal isn’t so focused on the weight. Again, back to process, we want to create something sustainable. Maybe instead of saying lose 5 lbs, where you celebrate with a dessert made for 3, you focus on something that you can sustain. Maybe 3 days a week, you’re at the gym, or walking/jogging. But it has to be something you can sustain.

Build up, from something small to large, is perfectly sustainable, by the way. If no one gave you permission to start with a half mile walk, and build up to that 5k you’ve wanted to run, I am here and now giving you all the permission you need.

Does it add value to others?

Some things need to be for us. But there is truth in that fulfillment and happiness come from making others happy. What can you do to add value? I like to send books to strangers I meet. I also like to make sure I’m buying dinner and spending time with friends and family. That to me is luxury.

Maybe for you it’s taking the time to see your friends’ kids. Or, it’s spending a few moments with your sister or brother just to make sure they know how important they are for you. Maybe it’s helping a friend with a painting project. Or, maybe it’s hosting dinner parties that connect people.

Consider that others are where you can add value – which in turn will bring value.

An Example of this Progression


I know you want to see how to better do it. SO here’s a quick evolution:

Version 1: (achievement) Put on 10 lbs of muscle

I hit the goal, but felt empty, and didn’t know what to do next.

Version 2: (process, but not refined) Get in the gym 2x per week

But what about weeks I’m away. This didn’t account for lifestyle and change.

Version 3: (refined process) Visit the gym 100 times this year.

This lets me flex on when, how, and why. For example, I REFUSE to do the gym in January. Small gym, big gym, I don’t care. I’m out. So I need something that allows me to grow into a process, and account for change.

I break this into quarter goals – 15 visits Q1, 30 visits Q2, 40 visits Q3, 20 visits Q4. Not nearly as intimidating. And if you did your math there, I’m ABOVE target.

BAM.

Then again, what do I know. This is just my system.

So what’s yours? I’m curious!

What do you do to set goals now? Drop your tactics that have worked for you below!!!

-AV

Tradeoffs, Pro-Con Lists… And Lies I was told as a kid

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I remember lots and lots of these one-off idioms as a kid.

Maybe you’ve heard them too:

  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Don’t shit where you eat.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side.
  • There’s pros and cons of every decision.

They always seemed so disconnected from truth. And, add to it that there was always someone saying it that I didn’t feel like I looked up to or didn’t know that well: a teacher, a friend’s dad cooking burgers on the grill, that weird old lady that always walked by the house really, really slowly.

It never landed. It never stuck.

Then, along comes life and suddenly, I find myself believing in these concepts as I go to make choices.

I had internalized them, especially, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

This quote is really about how when we look across at other ‘grass,’ it might look greener, but what we stand on and already have is totally better.

It’s about valuing what we have. Or so I thought.

And then, on the cusp of quitting my job, I realized that what was holding me back most was thinking that it was only an illusion – that running my own company (or companies as it should be) was NOT actually best for me.

That the grass was just fine where I was, and that I was chasing something unreal.

I would arrive to the other ‘side’ and look back at my job – secure, consistent, predictable – and envy it again too, for it was now the “other side.”

Maybe you’ve had this fear. Maybe you’ve felt something just as dagger-like when you go to make choices.

We all have these fears based on expectations of the outcome of our choices.

But, I want to talk about what a tradeoff really is, and how, if we’re clear about our values, tradeoffs don’t mean we lose.

Remember this line: There’s pros and cons of every decision. Let’s debunk where I got stuck, so you don’t do the same.

Conceptual Example:

You’ve got a great job, or at least a job. And you’re comparing and contrasting options as you consider a change. You’re a great employee, healthy eater, and find happiness in helping others.

Job One (that you currently have) has a good salary, offers a great retirement package, and has a cafeteria on site, where you can get a fast lunch provided to you paid for by the company, but you don’t really help people. You just crunch the numbers. But you’re not happy here, so you have another potential match lined up.

At Job Two, you’ll make a 10% more, keep the same benefits, but no cafeteria. You’ll also be working directly with clients to help them navigate challenging financial waters via services you provide.

And as you go to make this decision, you make a little pros cons list.

Ever done this?

Ah, yes, the ol’ post it note pro-con list! My favorite way to make tough decisions!


I did this with cars, apartments…..dating….lots of things.

Now my choice is way complicated. Now my numbers are almost even – what will I do?!?! This choice is going to rip me apart! AHHHH!! That $1000 isn’t worth all this stress!

<Slams head into wall>

Why do we do this to ourselves? And better yet, how can we do it better.

There’s a HUGE issue with the way we go about this, and it’s simple and addressable.

Instead of our pros and cons list being a strengths and weaknesses chart, it becomes a shortlist for ANYTHING we can think of that we’re either giving up or passing off.

Here’s what I mean.

Remember above that you’re a healthy eater. You value eating well, and your cafeteria doesn’t serve healthy options. It’s fast food basically.

It’s all in the details, right? If we just look at the data comparing the jobs, we miss how our values impact these decisions.

A healthy eater is not likely to value fast food, and you probably meal prep and bring your lunch daily. If that’s the case FREE LUNCH, does NOT belong on the pros cons list for something you’re giving up.

Why?

Because you don’t value it.

If we then look at the list rewritten, it might be more like this:

Suddenly, choices aren’t nearly as tough to make – especially when I know my values. If all that changes in this case is I have to reset the reputation I’ve built, I can make a much better call.

Because truthfully, if I don’t care about free unhealthy lunches, then I shouldn’t put it on the list! Don’t value something you don’t value! (seems obvious)

I value freedom to plan my day, an unlimited income potential, meaningful work, helping others, and ability to travel and work.

So when I compare that to my corporate world job:

  • fixed salary
  • can’t plan my day
  • no option on what to work on
  • can’t travel except with paid leave
  • not very meaningful
  • Benefits were paid for
  • Retirement savings was done for me
  • My apartment was paid for

Yes, there are some really awesome perks at the bottom. But, who cares about paying for benefits, an apartment, and savings when I can earn an unlimited amount and I’m happy!

In fact, when I pro-con this situation, I don’t even list “paying for benefits” as a con. I’ll happily pay for health insurance, etc given what I’ve got now. Think about that. I’m HAPPY to pay benefits in exchange for what I have now.

And thus, we have debunked the adage. The grass is TOTALLY GREENER!!!! And when I got here, I looked back at grass I didn’t value.

And here I stay. Because it aligns with my values.  

When you know your values, you can easily create better tradeoff decisions, and eliminate things you don’t care about.

Don’t need your car to have baby soft leather? Cool, then don’t pay for the upgrade package.

Don’t travel very much, and really like hosting friends at your house? Great! Get the more open floor plan at your apartment complex.

Values are what help us make better choices, but the ultimate game to be played here is about how we use our values to eliminate elements of choices.

If you don’t value something, it doesn’t belong in the conversation when you’re considering two options.

What are some choices you’ve made where you were doing pros-cons and wrote down every single detail, complicating everything?

Share your answers in the comments or email me. I read every single response!

The Mask: Change isn’t as Easy as It Sounds

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So maybe you’re starting a new job, or a new diet, or you got a new haircut.  You were supercharged about it, and knew it was the right call.

The next morning, WHAM – panic set in!

Why would you do this? What were you thinking? So stupid!!!! Damn it. Questions are firing quickly in your head like a fast-forward soundtrack of fear and loathing.

Suddenly, the emotional bravery becomes riddled with questions and fears and now that waters all murky and how will you ever undo this moment that’s permanent. SHIT!

It’s real – the things that happen after change are often harder than the change itself. It’s the self-talk and the way we internalize it all that bites us. The mask of fear is really scary.

 

So today, let’s talk about those feelings.

First things first. The feelings you’re experiencing are really normal.

You’ve gone through so much change at such a fast pace that it’s very natural for all of your systems to be at a breaking point try to keep you where you are.

But it’s significant and indicative of something really cool happening in your head! (you all know I’m glass half full, but this is true in more ways that optimism)

Your whole system is on the precipice of a major breakthrough and that’s why you’re feeling this. Your mind is saying “You know we’re not ready for this! Hold on now – wait a minute now! We need to do it my way!”

The feelings come from your system trying to keep you safe, and protecting you is the intention. But the system, the brain, is dead wrong.

Meanwhile, your subconscious is saying “We can let go of fear and make this change. We’re ready!”

This battle to allows all this change to unfold. The way you’re feeling, then, is really important part of the process. We’re talking about major recalibration and that that doesn’t happen easily, so this unrest that you’re experiencing is important to experience. It speaks to the growth you’re about to undergo.

 

What happens when we usually try to make change?

If you’re like me, a human being, you probably failed a few more times than you’d like to admit. I did.

I tried to start a new running routine. Failed. I tried to start a new gym routine. Failed.

What happens is you get all excited about the change, you go through it with excitement, but because you haven’t done the real work underneath the change itself,  but then your body freaks out and tries to pull you back to what you know, and you listen – you abandon the change and make some excuse up. For me, it was that I just didn’t like to run in the cold.

If we know this unrest and discomfort on the very edge of permanent change is normal, we can focus on accepting these feelings of anxiety and allow the change to take place.

 

All of this is very normal.

 

QUESTIONS AND DOUBT

Asking questions and having doubts is also normal.

When you start to question yourself for the choices or this new path that you’re on, pause for a moment. Good work. It’s good work not just because of the above, but in general I believe we should be calling the stuff in question and verifying what we know as truth. Maybe it was truth and isn’t anymore. Maybe it still is. Maybe it never was. We must ask those questions!

 

I quit my job in May of 2015. It’s been 3 and a half years since I did that, and I can’t lie to you and tell you that I didn’t feel these feelings. It was scary. It was intimidating and I did have my fears and doubts win a few battles. I’ve been there. I would question the shit out of EVERYTHING, still do.

I still question my goals, and my path. I still have doubts. It’s not that those go away. Even as I climb up higher and higher into what I believe success really means, they are still there.

But I have trust underneath that all.

I even trust DOUBT.

I trust a doubt will creep in and I trust the doubt will continue to pull me away and I trust that doubt is part of the process. But that doesn’t mean that I trust the doubt itself, I just know that part of the process is doubt.

A question I get all the time: “I don’t know where I am right now – where am I?”

And sadly, that’s where most people stop! The fear takes over, and they don’t look for answers to the question. The fact that they don’t have an immediate comfortable answer (because they’re in the midst of changing the answer) makes it really uncomfortable. But there’s good news. That’s the best time to keep going!

It’s a great place to stop and pause and say “Hey, where am I?” with a more positive tone, and to get to a point where you can ask about what matters and what you want.

I know change is hard. But we must consider that commitment to change is the only way to make it happen in a way that serves us.

Sometimes what we want changes. And if we don’t know where we are, we can’t ask where we want to go. Both of those require some time investments, but the reason asking those questions is so important is that it creates good friction.

 

GOOD FRICTION

Our mind hates good friction, but our best self loves it and our body loves it.

Though, our mind, our mind likes to stay in safety.

Safety is another fun word for comfort and consistency and as you’re going through all these changes, you’re challenging comfort and consistency and your brain is wired to say no.

This is perfectly normal. Your brain is trying to latch on to what it knows, what would keep you safe.  And what will keep you safe is only based on what it knows. Without facing this emotion – you won’t change. Simple as that.

You’ll feel things pull you back as your brain cries out, “WAIT, no! Don’t go! Come back! It’s not safe there! STOP! NO NO NO!”

And here’s the start of the friction. Your reaction and response to this brain noise is the critical element to the change you want to make.

But this is just a mask.

Normally, the response is “I’m questioning it so therefore it must be wrong.” And that’s going to take you back towards brain safety. This is about getting out of safety because safety hasn’t taken you where you wanted to go in the first place. That’s why we’re making change, right?!?

I believe it’s healthy to question changes, reasons and motivations. I believe that when you’re facing the discomfort of making change, it’s important you endure it, and hear the thoughts you have.  Your whole world isn’t rattling, your whole foundation isn’t unstable. It feels that way, because there’s friction. We want friction.

Friction lets us know change is happening, so as uncomfortable as it is, invite it. Let the feeling happen. Go with some curiosity into it as you make your change and ask yourself why you feel this particular way.

 

“Is this what I actually want?”

“Is this the change that’s important to me?”

Those are key questions. If so, then you’re ready, and any friction you feel is just an indicator that you’re on the right path.

There’s a really important lesson here that comes with change.

 

HAPPENINGS OF CHANGE

First, you have something that you want. You get it, you get comfortable.

Then you set your mind to change. As you do this you build a new want and start to let go of the old want.

Seemingly obvious, we build habits around what we initially wanted, and now we are starting to let them go. This is where the friction comes from. Replacing an old want will drive you bonkers. Here’s an example:

 

I thought a career was the right choice for me. Then I met entrepreneurs and talked with my dad more. I eventually was letting go of the idea of a career and thinking I could be something else, something more. But guess what crept in?!?

Yup, doubt and fear.

My brain didn’t want to let go of safety, security, and all those things that come from following the traditional path. So, it was scary, and hard, and I had lots of friction. Friction internally, externally. Everywhere I looked I was getting mixed messages, especially the mirror. I remember sitting in my window and feeling so scared that I was wrapped in a blanket like a burrito, immovable.

I had to let go of one to get to the other side of change. You will to, but I believe in you.

Your brain is making a new connection. It’s unplugging one wire and plugging in another, and that’s going to cause lots of strange things to happen in your mind, especially in transition.

 

These new connections you’re making, these new synapse links and is actually you waking up to and experiencing the change you want to make. It’s happening – hence the reason friction is all a part of it.

The good news?

You’re now in probably the most beautiful of states.

Brain: I’m not letting this happen. [puts scary mask on]

Subconscious: I want this! Let’s go, get out of my way! Take that stupid mask off, it’s silly looking!

I want you to do the work and experience the discomfort anyway – because we are going to push through it and make his change happen. On the other side of this is everything that you want, is everything that you’ve asked for, is the alignment that we’re looking for – it’s right there!!

 

I know change can be scary, but change happens with this fear and chaos all mixed into it. On the other side is the beauty that you can be and can have.

 

If you’re dealing with change and would like some insight or someone to talk to, please reach out.

 

-AV

Access Vs. Ownership

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I have questions, so many questions in this write up. Come explore an idea with me!

 

I was sitting outside in the sun on a recent morning. I watched a guy fly by me on a byrd, one of those electric scooters. They might not be in your city, but they are rampant in mine.

It’s a simple but effective business model. You create an account in an app, link a credit card, and when you find a scooter, scan a QR code and go. You get charged by the minute.

 

The young kid skidded to a stop, flung the bike like a baseball player with a  mouthful of chew spits out a black puddle of cancer-juice, and walked inside of a store. No thought for what happens, what may come later, who was around him. No self-awareness.

 

Why would he care? He got what he needed and moved on.

 

It spawned so many thoughts about our world of access and what used to be a world of ownership. I take no sides in this opposition or the latest movement, but I do know it has implications and consequences that we have yet to feel.

Here’s a list of some access based businesses that have changed the landscape of an industry forever:

 

Uber

Spotify

Nexflix

Tinder

AirBnB

ZipCar

Phone Companies with “lease” plans

Mentor Box

 

 

The common thread in these businesses is that access is valued more than ownership. My position is that without ownership, we cannot have some critical elements of growth and sustainability.

If I’m unable to admit that my business needs to change in order to grow, to own that we are not there yet, why would I give it my all to change it? Why not just find a business that hooks me with how easy it will be to make millions? (Ever heard an MLM pitch, haha)

 

Access businesses like the above, weigh heavily on your usage. That’s all they can offer, right? “Here, use our car for your next ride.” That’s the best that they can do. While this service has proven valuable, what would happen if we continued to move in the direction of an access economy.

Seemingly, what these businesses do is they mitigate the downside risk, and maximize the upside. There’s no negative consequence, aside from cost, for taking an Uber. You can get around just like you need to, and you don’t have to own a car.

How cool is that!

On the surface I do support it, but if we are looking at an overall trend that sweeps into other places of our life, my question is – will this get us to somewhere better or will it challenge us with numb, insensitivities?

Extend the trend out into things like relationships, dating, building a team, service to others, trauma, etc. If I can bypass the hard parts and the things that require intention and labor, why would I face and deal with them in the first place?

If we are minimizing the downside, we can avoid anything painful, negative, incongruent with our beliefs, difficult, or culturally exceptional.

 

More importantly, will our sensitivity heighten, as it already has? Will we be able to sustain differences in opinion and lifestyle if we are able to, in every other facet of our lives, avoid things we don’t like?

The impetus for this post was thinking about culture. I love culture in places I’ve visited thanks to my travel hacking system. When you can travel the world at no cost, why not right? But it came to me that we, here in the states, significantly lack culture.

You cannot own culture if you live in access.

Culture is about ownership – this is how we are, who we are, good and bad. Culture in business, mine specifically, is so important to me. And it comes with true ownership – realizing that I am the start of our culture, for good and bad.

Fun fact from livescience.com: The word “culture” derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin “colere,” which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture

But if we are conditioned to just need something and discard it when we don’t have a demand for it, how can we nuture and cultivate it? How can we grow and tend to the conversations and difficult relationships that create a symbiosis of a people?

 

Businesses rely on good people that can ride difficult and uncertain changes to success. Athletes are subjected to lots of failure and heavy workouts that require discipline in the face of difficult sacrfices. Relationships require a give-and-take in order to maintain the balance that two people need to thrive together.

 

That all requires us to own our truth – not to by pass it with something that gives us the upside without the down. Culture is a component of a country’s truth, is it not? Where we accept and own a particular set of characteristics – like generosity, acceptance, tolerance, love, openness – be it whatever the collective decides.

 

Further, and most dangerous, I deeply wonder whether we – because access is becoming normal – are avoiding anything long term. Commitment to job, to art, to financial returns, to relationships.

I will own homes (I don’t currently), but in general, will I move away from that because access is what I value. If our values move to access, I wonder what room is left to truly own who we are, what we want, and what we will accept or reject.

 

Most deeply, I wonder about happiness.

 

Will we accept simply accessing happiness because of our cultural standards, instead of learning to own it, cherish it, and build a life of meaning?

 

 

What do you think?

-AV

The Marathon and I…

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Marathon running is much like owning a business, quitting a job to start a company, or anything else that requires you to go the distance. This weekend I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and wow did it go differently than expected.

Still, I learned a lot about the character and habits and mindset in place, and how this test is just a reflection of the others that are undoubtedly coming my way.

9 months of preparation. Nearly 500 miles of running logged, probably more if you count the non-tracked runs. There I was, in the presidential suite of the Double Tree near the Pentagon (and no, I didn’t pay for it, I’m a travel hacker – duh!).

I’m drinking water like it’s my job. I’m carb-loading like it’s the last bit of food I’ll ever get.

The Marine Corps Marathon was only 9 hours away.

I wake up early, 4am, get a little food, drink some more, and get into my meditation and visualization.

Wading through people and lines and drop offs, I get to the starting line and before I know it, I’m running. It’s chilly, but the run warms me up. I’m on pace for 3 hours in the first 6 miles, no big deal. I am smiling as I go by fan after fan after fan, watching families cheer on loved ones and fan-created signage that makes you laugh – i.e. Never Trust a Fart.

At mile 11, I’m moving at a good pace, averaging just about 7 minutes. I have lots of energy, but without any warning, my mind starts screaming at me to stop. Something’s wrong, but I won’t admit it to myself, and I refuse to listen to the weak thoughts.

WHAM. It was like someone hit me in the head with a sledgehammer.

Getting to mile 12, my head is spinning and I can’t run upright consistently. I tell myself I should stop for a break, then I battle that thought down. A few more yards and I can’t run in a straight line. I bump into someone as I try to find a way to the side, but I’m so unstable I can’t move my feet right. I waive for help, and two marines jog over just in time to catch me as I nearly start to fall over, no doubt assisted by a cramping right quad.

Sitting down, my world is on fire.

“You’ll never make it.”

“Quit now, and just go home.”

Among the list of marathon woes people experience, I don’t recall one saying “weak mindset.”

But here I was. Thinking about quitting.

After 20 minutes sitting, waiting for a medic, and then checking vitals still not feeling better, we called a medic over, but he took 10 to get there and another 5-10 to get to the aid station. By the time I got to aid, I was shaking. Cold, numb, and unsure of what I was going to do.

Some treatment, more vital checks. I’m laying under a space blanket made of ‘soft’ aluminum foil. And I can see out of the tent. I can see runners, who at this point are running a 5 hour time, a full 2 hours off my goal. But they are running!

Mentally I’m giving up. I’m angry and frustrated and sad – among other emotions – all at the same time.

 

 

Electrolytes, food, blanket. Stop shaking, and I’m sure I’ll be okay, right doc? He warns me that if I’m not showing signs of improvement, I should consider opting out.

Isn’t this message what we hear all the time? Play it safe…Make it easy on yourself, just don’t even try!

Just take it easy, go home and fall in line with everyone else. It’s easy.

This is the messaging we always get. Stay where you know it’s safe. 

(Let’s tie this back to business – THE WORLD DOESN’T PUSH YOU TO BE GREAT. ONLY YOU CAN DO THAT!!)

Thanks to whatever they gave me, a few minutes later it was like the lights turned back on. I could finally think clearly.

There was no fucking way I was not finishing this race. I had a PT massage my cramping right quad and hamstring, and hobbled my way out. Here we go.

The rest of the race was a series of fails and pains and cramping, but I got to the last hurrah and powered my way through it, despite cramping at nearly each step. Fuck it, why not finish, right?

If it isn’t overt at this point, I did not hit my 3 hour goal.

I wasn’t even close. In fact, I don’t even know my time. I don’t care.

Crossing the finish line and resting, I had two friends meet me. I started to eat some fruit, sad down, and on came the shivers. It wasn’t long before medics had to come back over and I was back in the damn tent again. Shaking, I get changed and sit with all kinds of stuff to help me get warm.

                                                                                            

 

“Beginning stages of hypothermia,” the doc says to his team. We joke about it, and I’m laughing. I don’t feel good at all, but that’sthe irony – I somewhat love this space.

Yes, look how happy I look!!!!

By this space, here’s what I mean:

Odds against, and people telling me my best shot is to not continue (welcome to entrepreneurship my friends)

Overly fatigued, injured, but proud of what I’ve done

Mindful enough to know whatever pain I’m in or whatever I’ve suffered, better is coming and the current state is only temporary

Down, physically and emotionally, but never out

A few years ago, before I spent a 2 year period truly self developing with at least 10 hours a week, I would have had a totally different response. Here’s how, despite not making my goal and being SO far from it, this is still an event I’m proud of:

This will apply to any entrepreneurs reading and anyone that’s thinking of doing something tough – like quitting your job or having that conversation you’ve been avoiding.

 

Ask for help – there’s nothing wrong with it, and typically it’s just your ego that wants to fight for power dynamic wins. Take a deep breath, get clear on what you need help with, and ask for it. Find a coach, get a mentor, whoever you can! 

Be able to receive – people will help you but you have to be open to getting help. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine that really struggled with this. People would ask him, “How can I help??” and not only did he not have an answer, but he couldn’t accept the help even once he did! Be willing to accept what people offer, and you’ll have a much better go at your goals!

Finish at all costs – no matter what. Make it happen. Don’t worry about what happens, just make the decision to figure it out no matter what comes your way. It’s an outlook and perspective that becomes critical at higher levels too. 

Don’t do it alone, have people there to support you – seriously, back to point one and two. Get people around you that will help you get there. You’ve got this.

Whether it be starting a business, quitting your job, or running a marathon, I believe in you and your ability to make it happen. Focus in on the goal, and who you need to be to accomplish it. And after that, never look back!

 

 

What’s an area of your life where you could use these four to make RAPID change and finally get where you want to be?

Share below – and let’s figure out how to get you there!

AV

 

Redlining – Burnout Perspective Take 1

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One of the beliefs that I came to be self-aware of was this: I was associating suffering with success. I had in my mind this connection, which started in the healthy way – like you work more you get more.

It started that way as an athlete, I believe, because work is associated with suffering, and pain (the right kind; think building muscle) is a good thing. But where I ended up was the belief that the more I suffered the more successful I’d be – and this was outside the gym. If I sacrifice more, give up more,  I’ll win.

That belief came to such a powerful halt was because I sat down and really looked at it objectively: if that is my belief system the only thing I’m chasing then is suffering and I’ll never be happy because suffering and happiness are opposite.

We’re in a culture that’s almost narcissistic when it comes to work – “be an entrepreneur and I don’t give a fuck about anybody else, and just get your money.”

I think conversely we’re also getting messaging like: “Give up everything – don’t  eat, don’t breathe – just work and work.”

A friend on the other end of the phone says, “I feel like I have been red lining I think for the past four years and I’m at the point now where am I stuck. And I’m thinking, ‘I’m red lining but I can’t ever possibly get what I want if I’m working this hard and often and require a serious break just to make sure I don’t die.’” This conversation turned out to be just the message we both needed.

Redlining in the sense of working so hard you’re sacrificing everything else, i.e; burnout.

So for any of out there not sure what will take you to the next level, let’s talk about how my approach has changed, and what results have been.

What I’ve moved towards is this place where I come first. A little self love, a little happiness, a little reverse priority.

I don’t set appointments before 10 am. (Unless, there’s like a really urgent need.) I also avoid email as best as possible during this time. Before 10 am is for me and it’s for work in the most productive and creative part of my energy.  By productive, it doesn’t have to be work. It could mean going for a run, or anything that’s highly productive: Planning, thinking, creating, mapping, setting goals, eating, etc. Those could be more productive than meetings and pulls and emails.

 

We associate working with more production, which is simply not true.

So, I think what we’re after what we’re chasing in in this concept of red lining is super high production and if we’re aiming for super high production, then we must realize that the amount of time we put in is pretty much irrelevant. Production is not a function of time.

Example: Working on a project could take you 10 hours, or 10 minutes. If you complete the project with the same level of quality in both cases, which is more production?

You can have a really really productive day in five minutes and you can have a really unproductive day in twenty-four hours.

I think by setting some boundaries and installing some limits and putting yourself  in a position where what you’re consistently asking yourself “Is this high production?” and if you’re not in a high production mode – STOP talking, STOP working and find some joy.

For a long time, I would get home at like 9pm after some coaching. I would answer emails for an hour, then crash. But now, I’ve realized I’ll do a better job if nine o’clock, I know I’m tired, and I realize they won’t read them until tomorrow. So I sleep, get up at my 530, and plan out my day, and email them at 10am, when they’ll read it. Sleep is my highest and best use at that moment. Sure, there are exceptions, too. I’m not suggesting this is a rigid system at all. It’s one I’ve adapted and iterated over more than a year.

But this redefinition is important. It forces us to reanalyze the relationship that we have if ‘doing work’ is the objective. The objective of a business is to build happiness (search that quote) and, in my opinion, to serve others.

The messaging we get is opposite this. The hard part is in taking all of these fucked up messages that are just bombarding us consistently with: “If you’re not working, you’re going backwards” and that’s just not true. I am constantly moving forward, but that doesn’t mean I’m ‘working.’ That also means that sometimes I have to redefine what qualifies as work.

 

The efficiency and productivity that you need might be best strengthened or added to by stopping working and going for a walk.

As a creative, I really tend to lean into my creative as often as I can, and truthfully I can’t do that and go, go, go without breaks that lead to inspiration that lead to better quality creation. I have to spend almost as much time reflecting as I am painting for my painting to have any emotion in it.

I don’t know a whole lot about every industry, but let’s talk real estate as an example. I think I understand at least one simple principle:  If you want to sell one $3,000,000 house you make more money than if you sold four $100,000 houses. Spending your productive time focused on one success then rather than for mediocre performance, and you’ll make more. Commission based on sales doesn’t have to mean volume, it can mean quality.

Secondarily, our culture of comparative, comparatives as a means of happiness, seems to undermine most of our positive emotions. Worrying about everyone else ain’t going to make you happy, it will just make you suffer.

If you hang out with old people or anybody over the age of like sixty that’s been successful you’ll get a very different sense of this concept of work.

They’re going to have wildly different ideas of this relationship that we have with work. They’ll say things that challenge your perspective. Often we’re desperate to  get the things that make us feel better with money that we don’t have. So, we work on things we don’t like, and then have to keep working to maintain them.

This cycle spirals when all we wanted the whole time was to do things that we love and the things we want only cover that up frustration of NOT doing what we love. Things mask that anger frustration and pain and we end up chasing and burning the candle at both ends to get something that didn’t require money in the first place. If you do things that make you happy every day more than likely the money going to come because you’re doing what you love.

Happy people are typically successful people – not the other way around. Successful people are not always happy.

 

Some marathon runners run because they enjoy it. Some because they think it will prove something, or win them something – like attention or love. Who do you think generally becomes more successful?

 

We often think that it’s the big things that will make us happy: it’s the big house, it’s the big wedding ring, it’s the big cards, cool clothes, and flash cars. But if you’re trying to figure out why you’re redlining, and why you’re not feeling productive, consider that you’ve been sold an image of happiness, not a feeling of happiness.

Chasing something that you don’t want, with energy you don’t have, especially when you don’t even enjoy the chase. I am of the opinion that if you are aligned with why you want something, the chase has meaning and therefore production, redlining and other elements of the chase much more naturally work for you.

If you need millions, why?

I’m not suggesting millions is bad. Get yours. But why? Do you want to just be flashy? That chase will be tough until you get really clear on why.

This happiness element relates to production in a major way.

I’ll tie this together quickly and neatly.

 

Redlining, burnout, isn’t real when you’re happy, and if you know why you are moving a specific direction (clear on why you want a specific end result, rather than why you’ve been told you should want it) and understand what will move you towards that, you will quickly find that ‘more time is not the same as ‘more work.’ In fact, doing more work may mean working less, because you’ll attack the work in spurts and with lots of energy.

So for any of you out there approaching burnout, shed your need for ‘work more’ and focus on produce more, and you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier you.

Personality, Confidence, and Systems

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I have been working with a few clients taking them through a course I created called Mental Mastery. The emphasis is on mental training that will change physical elements – like athletic performance, success, networking and work ethic most commonly. It also augments any business aptitude, too.

So, the conversation with one of my clients, loosely transcribed (and edited to fit the format here) is below. This particular day we were talking about Personality.

 

AV: What’s the most important thing to know about your personality?

 

CLIENT: “That it’s part of who I am and can lead me to success?”

 

Not quite.

A fundamental element of personality, in my work with students (any age), is this idea that your personality is not fixed. Your personality can change depending on the experiences and environment that shape you.

We can be calm, cool and collected at some point; it can be angry, disappointed, and upset another depending on your experience. Sometimes I’m shy. Sometimes I’m not.

Most of us think of traits like these physical elements of our being – athletic, brown hair, blue eyes.

Your personality is also made up of other adjectives: generous, humorous etc.

These other components are all quite flexible. With this belief, I coach students to a systems-and-goals based personality, so that they can move forward and have the necessary perspective and tools to be successful.

The exercises we’ve been working on are often self-reflective, and my role is somewhat of a shepherd in self-exploration. In doing so, it’s also important to mention that we are often exposed to environmental pressures to be, change or maintain our personality in specific ways, but changes in the environment will also yield changes.

So as we dive into the call that my client and I had, you can learn, takeaway, and grow with them.

Onward. Here’s what we did.

 

AV: What you think is driving you towards your goals?

CLIENT: “The way I think and act. And motivation?”

 

At a base level, yes.

Some would immediately suggest it’s your personality, or your work ethic, or your network. But I would disagree with all of that.

When we start to see success, it can trigger a lot of fears and emotions, and we can self-sabotage. What we need is a way to avoid the emotions and stay focused. The emotions can totally mess us up.

So then, we need something emotionless; rigid. It’s your systems. Systems make for your success.

Systems create continuous progress to take you towards your goals, and systems are indifferent. When you are not motivated, when you are not energized, when you’re not inspired things still happen.

Willpower is limited and the system works to support action without willpower.

If the word system scares you, or doesn’t seem clear enough, let’s define it:

System: set of operations and feedback loops that operates with little or no regard to motivation, excitement or other emotions.

 

CLIENT: “So how do I know if I have a good system?”

 

Personality helps us determine what we want and what we align with, what’s important, and where we want to go. Systems are the car that gets us there.

Maybe material things aren’t important. Maybe you prefer experiences. If that’s a part of your personality, then let’s create a system supportive of that.

A failing system would be one that supports material things over experiences, and thus incongruence.

I’m not suggesting you change. I’m suggesting that creating a system of alignment can greatly support you being more present, more happy, and more successful at having and doing what makes you happy.

And happy people almost always find success.

What we can see, most of all, is that we are human and the system helps us stay consistent and stay protected. And when (not if) we fall, when we fail, we have a system to make sure to ensure that we retain what we’ve worked towards before getting too far off course.

 

If building a system and goals is not currently a part of your personality, that’s okay. You can learn and incorporate small changes. A good catalyst will change that.

Working with my students, they too had no system and lacked direction. They were dealing with a lot noise – frivolous uses of energy that netted them only temporary positive outcomes because there was no series and connection to what they actually wanted.

 

But after some work together, we’ve developed a system and a progressive goal system that HAS BECOME A PART OF THEIR PERSONALITY.

The important elements are two-fold:

  • Getting coaching to develop a system and set of goals can push you to where you are successful – this comes as a function of your processes being disconnected from your emotions
  • Personality can change, and should, as you grow into more self-awareness, desire, and challenge – which can mean doing or being someone that creates goals and systems

 

There is a really cool quote from Albert Einstein and I believe it is, that goes:

 “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results is the definition of insanity.”

AV: What do you think about that?

CLIENT: “I feel like that’s most of my last year or last season!”

 

So maybe start with this:

 

Ask the question: What actions are you taking again and again while expecting the results to change?

We all do it, but we can look at it objectively and then make change.

And if something doesn’t work, how quickly can we change it?

It all seems pretty logical but you’ll be surprised how many people are doing the same thing over and over. Maybe they know it, maybe not.

If you find yourself looking at your results and haven’t hit any of them, it’s a great time to say “Is everything going the way I wanted to go and more importantly why not?”

I liken our issue here with mashing the buttons over and over again (that’s a nerdy gamer comment meaning doing something without tactics or strategy). You may win the round, but when things get tough, you’ve got no shot at a win.

A system is a series of actions and reflections (feedback loops) that acts and operates without regard to emotions.

Putting a system in a place with a combination of clarity and support can help you avoid random actions that are based on motivation and high energy outbursts. Instead, what we are is calm and controlled so that progress and growth is regimented and sustainable.

 

CLIENT: “So, what role does confidence play in developing in a personality?”

I think there’s a relationship between the two. If you’re confident in your personality, your personality can shine and you can be more confident. It upcycles positively.

Confidence is a feeling and belief, so it can be fleeting as well.

Any top-level performance (athletic, entrepreneurship, etc) is going to be driven by the decisions we make and the way that we feel.

If we’re not feeling successful we are not feeling confident (emotional states) our energy is going to be off and we’re going to make poor decisions.

But confidence can upcycle too.

For example, if you’re really good at math, you start to get rewarded in class with good grades, even when challenged. Then you’re invited to an upper level class. You have some confidence going into that, so taking on something new is not so scary.

After this event, you may realize that you could take on new challenges, and whether you are successful or not, you grow. From that, you may develop a system to deal with the emotions when you get invited to do something you’re afraid of:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Count down from 5
  3. At zero, open your eyes, GO!

A system doesn’t need to be complicated, after all.

You may also find yourself intimidated, and not confident, which is where having a system like the above is key.

But here’s where personality, systems and confidence can all swirl.

If you are aware of your personality you can make decisions that align with it. If you are goofy and generous, and you’re doing goofy and generous things you’re probably going to feel confident. If you’re doing things that are really serious and very selfish, you’re likely not to feel confident that you’re doing something very different from your personality.

 

We are often pressured into being something we’re not and we feel stressed, anxious, worried and fearful because we’re not aligned with our personality.

Suddenly, we’re unsure, confidence leaks, and we’re forced to rely on something firm to help us back up. Without a system, there is nothing firm to hold us upright.

But, if a person has a system, they can be sustainably confident – as they’ve got a means to deal with hiccups and blunders, or loss of motivation.

-AV

 

Here’s a few examples of systems I use (below are the simple ones) to make sure I don’t rely on emotions. Try them out:

  • I don’t read email when I first get up. Simple, but it keeps me from starting my day with any pulls of emotions. I focus on what I need to do, not what the world wants from me.
  • When I talk to someone and say, “I’ll follow up,” or, “I’ll send you that,” I immediately stop. I pull out my phone or journal (I almost always have one or the other) and write it down. I use Google Inbox and save a reminder right then right there.
  • Every quarter I sit down and look at my yearly goals. Then I break down quarterly objectives, then I go further into 30, 60 and 90 day goals, so that brick by brick, I’m building towards the yearly in alignment. It takes about 2 hours per 3 months.
  • I put events and due dates on the calendar. Another simple item, if I know a certain task is due in two weeks, on the calendar it goes. I spend Sunday looking at the week, and can make a list of things that need to be worked towards when it is present there.
  • I get up at 530 and get on a call at 6am each day to prime myself for a supercharged day. Having others on the call is accountability for when I’m tired or not feeling it. But I still do it.

 

Places where I could use a better system, since I have too much variability:

  • Eating a consistent set of meals each day. I’m on the go a lot and sometimes skip meals. Ooops.
  • I bought Freedom, and app that lets me block certain websites so I can’t get distracted. I need to start using it.
  • I’d like to read more often, and close my day consistently with it.

 

 

What are your systems? Are you lacking them? What parts of your personality need to change so that you can use them effectively?

 

 

The 11 Best Lessons I’ve Learned in 1094 Days

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WOAH!

 

It’s been  1094 days since I quit my job and went full-time into running ME as a company and sprinting after dreams like I was meant to. To encourage all of you others who are on the fence, in the thick of it, or still waiting for your chance, here are some of the lessons I learned reflecting back on my 3+ year timeline!

 

  1. Your biggest wall and barrier and enemy and hater (the list goes on….) is you.

Dreaming many nights as a kid, I remember floating high in the sky. It was a terrifying dream – watching myself float against a dark, cloudy sky in what seemed to be an abyss with nothing solid to touch or land on. There was no sound, nothing happening, and no action taking place. It was solitude.

But, there was someone else floating with me.

For years, as I circled around myself, staring intensely at another person, nearly nose-to-nose in epic dragon ball battle format, I realized something chilling.

The person I was standing face to face against was none other than myself.

In regular fashion of self-deprecating, I was the guy mad at himself for not getting up on time, or not working enough hours (more on that to come in number 5) or not celebrating a success with the team.

When I learned that I needed to get out of my own way, spend time finding better systems to keep me moving forward and out of my own way, and was more honest about what might have been holding me back, I was able to climb the walls and barriers faster and with more ease.

To do that, I stepped up big time to number 2, and I would recommend that if you’re in your own way, you do the same to get yourself more in-tune with the fact that you’re likely holding yourself back and screwing up your own progress.

  1. Money is energy – and spending energy on self-development always pays you back

3 years ago, I would have snuffed my nose up to investing in a course or spending to join a peer group. I could do it on my own, after all.

More importantly, I wanted to.

But the reality was that at those points where I turned my nose up to investing in myself, I was being bullish by refusing to accept that I didn’t know something. Deeper than that, I was denying myself the chance to learn and denying myself the reality that as I learned, I would get better and my business would do better.

But I was basically insane, going about my business and doing the same thing over and over and expecting to one day get to abundance. Nonsensical!

Not only was that impossible, but I had the wrong idea completely.

This last 12 months, from mid-2017, I’ve invested a total of $8,145. 17 in myself. Courses, summits, networking groups, etc. Want to know how much my business has grown since then?

Nearly $58, 977.41. Would you say it was worth it? What’s holding you back from investing in yourself?

Find a course, mentor or peer group that can hold you to the fire of your own dreams, STFU about what you think you know and go learn it, and then come back to me and tell me it wasn’t the best decision you’ve made.

There. Challenge issued.

  1. Paydays come from Persistence.

No. No. No. No. No. No. YES! That’s how it goes.

There’s two truths here.

  1. Don’t think that you should be living in the whole “10% of your calls will be successful, so just make a TON of them.” That probably means your calls don’t showcase your product or your pitching is self-centered, rather than you looking to solve someone’s problem. But, you’ll still have to make a lot of them. The trick is to iterate quickly – learn what’s missing, learn what works, and get to the point where you can nail more calls at a higher rate. But you’re going to have to put in the time to learn it, and persistence through the NO period is key.

 

  1. Second, frustration is good. If you’re not angry that you’re not selling, if you don’t suffer a little bit, then you probably aren’t going to make it very far anyway. Because, at every level there are challenges and things that get you frustrated, and things that don’t work. So, pull your heart strings together, toughen up your skin, stiffen up that upper lip, and keep going through the hard times. The sunlight is just beyond the clouds.
  2. Get quick at identifying things you’re bad at; the faster you do, the faster the company grows

I wore a pendant for a while that helped me keep my mind on my attitude. It was a Jack of Hearts, and I was the Jack of all Trades, with a love for knowledge. But – I eventually had to retire that.

I found while hunting on the interwebs that the poem I knew was unfinished as it was often said:

            Jack of all trades, master of none.

But really, it was written WAY back in the early days as:

            Jack of all trades, master of none, oft times better than the master of one.

I was hooked. THIS WAS ME! Marketing, Consulting, designing, personal training, painting, coaching, start upping…. the list went on and on! I learned a lot, but man I was pulled in SO many directions.

 

I’ve since retired this Jack, as it can no longer be me.  You see, I was using this phrase as justification to learn anything try anything, and delegate little so I could learn.

This would be fine if I was at a full-time job – as taking on more assignments and learning from them is a great policy. But in the land of startups, this is a flippin’ death trap!

Speed is the game out here, and while I was learning my tail off, I was slowing everything down.

Once I took an inventory of the things I was truly best at (read also, best practiced at), I was able to find people to do the other work faster. Now that we’re up and moving faster with more income coming in, that is essentially how other jobs get created. Go figure.

Now I feel like duh, but serious advice here for other ‘jack of all trades’ types out there – lay down your pride, pick a few things you’re good at, and learn more about those skills rather than spreading yourself thin. Everything you’ve done to date, all that web work, marketing, product design, and all that – keep it with you.

You never know when you’ll call on it or when you’ll use that experience to connect two dots from two industries that create a brilliant mix!

 

When you can admit what you’re not good at, you can not only find the right person, but you will then know your strengths and be able to really lean into them too.

  1. Keep doing those humbling gritty tasks and celebrate the team wins

I was at an Ortus Academy event recently. The team and I were all done, and they were all huddling together, sharing stories and laughing. I knew we had a tight deadline to clear the room and get out of there.

You know those CEOs or leaders that go down to the janitors or boxing department and get ridiculed for being bad workers? Yeah, that won’t be me. Now, I might not be able to do everything, see above, but I can at least be unafraid of getting my hands dirty.

I was picking up the crayons left on the floor, sweeping up trash, and more.

And the best part is, I loved it!

The staff was sharing how enjoyable the event was, and how special the day was to the kids.

In a case like that, they deserve the chance to relish in the victory.

Five minutes later, after they were done celebrating, they all took a hand in the cleanup and we knocked it out and left. But I do believe that leaders lead from the front and serve the cause and the group before themselves. Rather than delegate the gritty stuff, take it on and see how transformative it can be for your team.

To my second point – I have had YEARS of moments where I chose to get back to work rather than celebrate a team win. After effort and energy is expended, let me share this massive lesson with you, in hopes you learn from it:

An hour spent celebrating with your team, cherishing the moments together, and building the chemistry and comradery needed to grow, is worth 50x what the one hour would be of un-energetic work after a long day.

Take it from me, build the team, and you’ll go further anyway.

  1. Finding better ways to do something at the start will teach you how to find better ways, but eventually, just fkn pay for it

This goes back to my Jack comment, number 4.

You know that guy that will work 4 hours to save himself $4? Been there.

A friend of mine once asked me why I had food delivered to my house. I was getting a service, HelloFresh, to deliver weekly meals, so I didn’t have to shop as much and had meals available.

Her argument was that I could save likely $20-30 a week, $120 a month, on food if I shopped at a market. I appreciated her concern, but here’s the reality.

If I have food delivered weekly, I save roughly 5 hours a month – the 15-minute drive both ways (30), 20 minutes in the store, 8 at the register, and 7 texting in the parking lot while I sit in my car. I still need to kick that habit.

In 5 hours, I can make WAY more than $120. In fact, at just my personal training rate, I could earn $350+ with that time.

Ease or pay – do the math, figure out if it’s worth it. And if not, spend the flipping money and go get you some more!

  1. Balance is not a real thing. Harmony is a better objective

Ask any entrepreneur or found or whatever you call us. Don’t count the guy or girl that wants to start a company but always finds a reason not to. Also, don’t count a guy that buys a franchise. I don’t think those belong in the same definition of the word.

But ask them about balance – about how many hours they take off, and how many days in a row they work. I just hit 43 days in a row, no days off. Even on a day “off” I’m likely to answer emails and plan out items or manage the team or be on the phone.

Balance is a myth in this world.

But harmony can exist.

Laden with passion, I love what I do and don’t want a whole lot of time off. That’s what got me here in the first place, through all the frustrations and need for persistence (see number 3). But, that means balance is not possible; still, there’s a need for something.

Be it not rest, or sleep, or love, or what-have-you, you may still need breaks and respites. Based on your aspirations and dreams, you may need or want less, but with the idea of Harmony in mind, your life should still be moving forward in all directions.

Harmony to me, in this context, is: The ability to create a lasting and perpetual lifestyle of work, play, and learning based on solid prioritization and alignment with purpose and goals.

With harmony, it’s not really taking a vacation. When I travel, it’s to reconnect with my creative side by changing my environment, and to experience new things with a new lens so that I can add more value to our business through that lens.

I don’t want to get away, even if I do book southwest a lot.

  1. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – PLUS how you know them

I knew a guy that was a total dick to me the first time I met him, let’s call him Mike. Like – mean for no reason. He asked me to connect him to another friend of mine who we will call Dave, as he thought he’d be a great client.

I agreed with him, because what he was selling WAS a good fit for my other friend and would solve one of Dave’s problems.

The issue was that Dave was a phenomenal friend. And, I didn’t want to damage that relationship, not only for myself, but for all the referrals I would later be able to add back into Dave’s life.

So, I didn’t refer Mike.

Now, before you throw the judgment book at me, imagine this:

If the world worked where it didn’t matter how you treated people, only on the product you offer, how would you pick who to buy from?

We all like to buy from people we like. We like to work with people we like. Maybe we don’t get the option, but I’m willing to bet if you did, you’d choose based on likeability.

So, before you go about spreading negativity, burning former teammates, treating people you work with or for poorly, keep this in mind. You never know how and when people will come back to help or offer you something if you treat them right.

NOTE: On the flip side of this, I’ve also had people I just barely know refer people to me or my business because of how I treated them and how they felt being around me. It takes faith, but I believe this system to be foolproof.

  1. In a world of “work more,” and “hustle harder” there’s such a thing as overwork, and burnout

I love seeing the Instagram of Eric Thomas and Gary V. that get me up in the morning ready to put my fist through a cinderblock covered in copper. It really is true that you need to work hard to achieve major success, except that there’s more to it.

Major success is about leverage too – delegating, hiring staff to take on projects for you, and other things like that. Working so much your eyes bleed is not harmonious (see number 7) to you being healthy and able to sustain a lifestyle.

While you might believe that working harder will get you to where you want, consider investing in yourself and getting more educated, deploying better systems, and understanding your market and client’s needs better. Then, working 2x as hard can earn you 15x as much.

But, don’t expect 22-hour days, a diet heavy on red bull and caffeine, and a bed that’s essentially a chair with a headrest on it to give you the harmony you need to really hit success.

  1. Bad quality work will get you somewhere faster than waiting

Just write. Or draw. Or speak. Or dance. Or program. Or build.

Whatever it is you do, you may be convinced it needs to look good or work well. But I’m here to argue otherwise!

When you create something new, or are creating at all, the usual block is quality. Instead, hedge your bet and put out something unrefined and see how the market responds, or how readers like the general theme and topic. This is how Ortus Academy has grown – out of testing and refining for TWO YEARS. Each time we ran a program, we changed the program to align with our vision and capabilities. More time, more programs, the more flaws we found.

In doing so, we have lots of iterations, data points, and yes, a list of fails.

But we also have am equally large list of learning moments, a list of people that come back to see how far we’ve come, and students that never knew the difference anyway.

I know you want it to be perfect, but dammit, just do it!

Post the article. Instagram the painting. Build the prototype and test it.

Then, use lesson number 3 to keep on moving forward and perfecting it after the frustration or failure hits.

This article, for example, is not perfect.

 

  1. Someone lied to me about me, and I’m so glad I found that out

In 5th grade, someone told me I was ugly.

In 9th grade, someone told me I was never going to play soccer in college.

In 12th grade, someone said I would never heal and play soccer again.

In college, someone told me I was always going to be an employee.


The worst part is, I believed all of them. Until I didn’t, and until I gave myself a reason to be what I wanted to be.

It was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do – to really look inward and look at the definitions I had of myself. I had to dig deep.

But what I found was life-changing.

Here I was, nearly 30 and all the definitions of myself, all my self-talk, stemmed from things I was told as a kid. Can you believe that? Not many of my beliefs about myself came from me.

And so, I looked at where they came from.

Teachers. 12-year-old (seriously, who can’t even formulate a serious thought at that age). People that didn’t know me.

And worse – for every negative thought, there were likely 12 positive ones that got outweighed or overshadowed.

So, I spent some of that awesome self-investment (see number 2) money on becoming more aware, and I rewrote my history.

My guess is that someone in your history assign you a label that you haven’t gotten rid of.

I imagine that you might not feel able to outrun it. But if you’re brave enough to write it in the comments below, I’ll respond with a few sentences you can say to yourself to help you override it.

Because your history is wrong. You can do anything.

 

  • AV

3 Mistakes I Could Have Avoided In April 2018

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Clearly, I wasn’t thinking….

I feel like I say this a lot lately. I own it – not easily – but I do. So, while it’s been a LONG time since I wrote, let me share 3 mistakes I made this month, that I don’t normally share.

The objective here is only to help you prevent yourself from making them.

And away we go >>>>>>

1. I didn’t share where I was struggling.

This past weekend, I was talking to my accountability team from a course I joined called M1. It’s run by a guy that used to work with Tony Robbins.

It’s been a great investment, and really helped me grow as an individiual and entrepreneur.

So for WEEKS, I’ve been not drinking enough water. I’m active, and I work really hard. So I can’t afford this mistake. But I just kept on going.

I said, I’ll fix it when….

I’ll address it when….

Or I made excuses.

Then I realized I needed some help. Not like, clinical help. Just some support. Some backup.

I told the crew, and now 4 of us are on a thirst challenge. 20 oz when you wake up, and 10 oz each hour.

Challenge – I’m in. They knew how to motivate me, help me, and they got behind me right away.

Why didn’t I do this earlier.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re struggling with something, tell people. Ask for help. This is always my achilles. I’m working on it. 

2. I didn’t admit that  I was scared

I have big aspirations. I’m sure you do too.

IN order to be the person I envision, I need to share the journey. To give more to the community, to talk to more people and find ways to help them. To speak to others on topics like this one.

So I have to be unafraid to get out in front of them.

I have to speak. I have to engage. I have to try.

If I’m really going to be what I say I am, it’s time that I get brave.

Now, I’m not perfect but I’m certainly not a coward – I know that much about myself. I felt that I was unable to give to people, or provide value, because I wasn’t “there” yet. That’s just a bullshit excuse – as I have a lot to give and as I grow, my responsibilty is to pass what I learn back down.

But, until I really fessed up with my fear, I was paralyzed.

Whatever you’re afraid of, it’s okay to be scared. It’s not okay to let that paralyze you.

I bought a go pro, and you’ll see a lot more writing and content from me. That’s something I’m committed to. Who else can this message itself help? You, a friend? Share it on!

Bottom Line: Fess up if you’re afraid. It’s the first step. [Here’s a great book to help you here too]

3. My habit wasn’t serving my future

I grew up a comic book kid. Big time nerd here.

A few months ago I downloaded a game called Contest of Champions.

Aside from the countless dollars I’ve wasted on the randomized (supposedly) gems and shit that gives me more heroes to play with, I spent hours.  Even if it was only a minute a day, that’s a lot of time in a month. That’s enough time to write to you and help you along your way.

Instead, I opened the app. And I got rewarded. If you login daily, you get stuff free.

They had me hooked.

It wasn’t until just yesterday that I realized that the future version of me doesn’t do this. And so I had to let it go. I even hesitated, and argued with myself as I uninstalled it.

Stupid Past-Aaron. Shut up. You’re headed up, stop looking down.

Now, I can use that extra 10 minutes a day to help you, be productive, or at worst/best – completely disconect.

Bottom Line: If your future is being held back by a current habit, do what you gotta do to SNAP out of it and get real with yourself. 

 

Learn from my mistakes, so you don’t make them! Here comes May!

-AV