Monthly Archives: August 2013

Remembering Your Brilliance

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“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

What’s the #1 reason people don’t start a business that matters to them?

  • No time
  • No ideas
  • Too many ideas
  • Afraid to fail

While all of these things factor in at some level, the #1 answer, based on my clients feedback is…

No ideas! 

If you don’t know what you’ll do, no amount of coaching/marketing/inspiration will help. And it is frustrating for people when it seems like everyone else is out there creating blogs, starting businesses, launching products, etc. And it’s especially frustrating when you hear that someone is leaving their corporate job to pursue their passion full time making money doing what they love.

Are we happy for these people that have found their way? Absolutely! But, there’s often a part of us that wonders if we’ll ever find our way and be able to do work that matters.

So let’s talk about not having any ideas. What does this really mean? For most, it simply means that they haven’t spent time evaluating what they’re naturally good at. This might seem rather basic, but our hectic lives leave us with so little time to consider what we might be really good at.

Remembering your brilliance

It’s easy to forget who we are – our natural gifts, our effect on people, our accomplishments, and even our desires. Want to remember what you are brilliant at? Take a few minutes and answer these questions:

  1. What could I find myself talking to someone about for hours with no sign of tiring?
  2. What am I freakishly good at?
  3. What do I want to be known for?
  4. What am I bored of?
  5. What are three things I’m most proud of – but would never put on my official resume?
  6. What’s something that people instinctively ask me for help with?
  7. What can I undeniably promise to everyone I work with?
  8. What is something that I secretly wonder about everyone I meet?
  9. If my parents/spouse/kids/God or whoever holds my sense of personal propriety in check was GONE (poof!) and there was no one left to offend, upset, or disappoint…who would I become?

Now, based on your answers, can you see any patterns beginning to emerge?

These patterns are a glimpse into the things that you are made to do. I call these the non-negotiable part of you, the things that you simply can’t not do. These could be teaching (on any subject), painting, cooking, traveling, woodworking, yoga, promoting, creating, or any unique combination of these things.

The point is, we are all unique and we all have ideas residing just below the surface that are dying to be expressed. Remembering these ideas is all part of the process for starting a business that matters.

See, the pains of starting a business are REAL, even though nobody wants to talk about them. It’s more fun to talk about the latest sexy social-media tactic instead of how to find a profitable idea that someone will pay you for.

Discovering your brilliance and turning it into a profitable business can change everything. It can mean the difference between creating extra income doing what you love vs spending the next 30 years in that corporate job that sucks the life out of you.

Nothing gets me more excited than helping people find that one thing that they love so much that they would do it for free – and then help them test it and get paid for it.

Life is precious and I believe that we owe it to ourselves (and the world) to stop wasting time and  energy on the mundane and invest a little time discovering our brilliance.

Come back again next week and we’ll dive a little deeper into this subject.

-Michael

P.S. What are you brilliant at? Tell me one thing that you know you were made to do? No self-judgement allowed! :-)

How To Make A Living Doing What You Love

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“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 

Harold R. McAlindon

I’m not one of those people who can do things just for the money. I used to be. I tried this approach for years and always ended up feeling half empty.

I’ve got nothing against making money, in fact, it’s the best measurement of value there is. But I’ve found that it’s no longer possible for me to pursue money for it’s own sake.

Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m not in touch with reality, let me put your mind at ease. I’ve tried many times to do things just for the money. It’s just never really worked out for me over the long haul.

I’ve worked at boring jobs for years. I’ve hopped from one job to another hoping to find a better situation and something that I could be more excited about.

I’ve joined startups hoping to get rich from stock options. But those things never worked out. I never chanced upon a job that dropped millions in my lap.

Why I’ve never been able to do something like that, I don’t really know. And at this point, I’ve given up caring.

Here’s what I do know.

I have this affliction where I actually have to care about my work or I just won’t last long. It’s always been that way and I don’t think it’s something I’m able to change. It’s just how I’m wired. And over the years, I’ve come to realize that my inability to do things “just for the money” (for any extended period of time) is actually a constraint I should embrace. These days, it’s slowly becoming a non-negotiable part of my life.

My goal is to make a living doing what I love and to help 1,000 other people do the same thing.

Sadly, I can’t guarantee that if you do what you love, the money will follow. I wish that were always true. To be truthful, doing what you love doesn’t always lead to riches…at least not right away.

My wife is a yoga teacher and she loves teaching yoga more than anything in the world. But you don’t make a lot of money teaching yoga classes for other people.

But you start with what you love and then there’s always other doors that open up. Other ideas to pursue. And other opportunities that await.

6mKQrImMuM9atEerXZleOJHJBGOHiJHhAVu5ILUXsDA-1024x682After my wife started teaching yoga, she began leading yoga retreats and then creating her own yoga programs for other teachers. She found new ways to add more value and create more income doing what she loves.

Now she’s at the point where she’s getting paid to make a difference.

My point is that I don’t think you should do what you love thinking the money will follow right away. I think you should do what you love because why would you spend your life doing anything else?

And once you get really good at offering the work you love, people will show up. And when they do, you will offer value and people will happily pay you for it.

It really is as simple as that.

What about being rational?

Coming at life from such an “idealistic” point of view immediately triggers the rational reflex for most people. That’s the feeling we’ve all been trained to use to reinforce our story about what is and what is not possible. It keeps us in line. It keeps us under control.

“I can’t just go doing what I love…” we say. “I have a family to support…” “I have obligations…” “I can’t just do that…”

These are all valid and rational responses to the idea of making a living doing what you love.

And it’s your choice whether or not you want to allow your life to be governed by these thoughts.

The fact is, in 90 years, no one reading this article will be here. 90 years is a blip. It’s going to be over before you blink. That means that everything matters and nothing matters all at the same time.

Sit for a moment and see how your brain comes to terms with an idea like that. It’s not something that’s meant for your brain, it’s an idea that’s directed right at your soul.

We have been making “rational” choices about our livelihood our entire lives. But when you are taking your last breath, do you want to have regrets for the adventures you never took? Or do you want a sense of peace knowing that you gave everything you had?

We often endure decades of misery in pursuit of making a living in the way we’ve been told to do it. I can certainly relate to this.

We have been brainwashed into believing that we are “caught” and cannot escape. Little do we know that our walls are of our own making. Little do we know, we hold the key to unlock the door that blocks us.

Something needs to change. And that something begins with you. It begins with your choices about how you are going to live your life.

It begins with your decision to walk towards the dreams and ambitions you have for yourself. This isn’t a journey you start in order to reach fulfillment. It’s a journey you start because pursuing your dreams is something worthy of your life energy.

Why most people do things they don’t want to do.

We humans think we’re pretty evolved but history has shown we’re not too many steps removed from the animal kingdom. Once the luxuries of modern life are stripped away, our similarity to animals becomes very clear, very quickly. Just take away the necessities and see how long it takes for people to start behaving like animals.

But there’s one trait that animals don’t display that we “evolved” humans do. Animals won’t ever pursue an activity they don’t feel is in their own best interest.

And they certainly wouldn’t do it 8 hours a day… for years and years.

But we humans do this all the time. We do it for many reasons. We do it because we’re told to do it. We do it because we’re worried about what others might think of us if we didn’t. We do it because we don’t know any better. We do it because we don’t believe in ourselves. We do it because we’re scared of the alternatives.

And that’s why, on any given morning, millions of people in this world trudge off to spend their days doing things they hate with people they can’t stand. We spend a large percentage of our lives practicing things we have no interest in being good at.

And when we eventually do become good at those things, we have to search for something to fill the void that our “right work” is meant to fill.

“But what would I do to make a living? What else could I do?”

I used to think that I had to have answers to those questions in order to move forward. I searched long and hard for those answers, but they never came like I wanted. I wanted complete answers… but all I ever got was a spark. One spark here… another spark there.

These days, I realize that the journey to joy begins not with my ability to answer questions but my ability to ask questions and then take a single step.

Do something you care deeply about.

For me, my answers began to appear only after I was willing to let go of finding the perfect idea and just DO something I cared deeply about.

I started this simple blog because it’s the only thing I could think of to start doing.

Then I started coaching a few people on how they could move forward because it was that next thing I could think of to start doing.

Now I’m in the process of building a web show where I will interview accomplished entrepreneurs because it’s the current thing that I can think of doing.

The answers are in the doing. That’s the secret I’ve discovered. It’s taking that next step, however small and insignificant it may seem. Taking the next step is powerful because it always informs you of the next step to take.

While making a living doing what you love will have it’s own set of challenges, I believe it’s the most rewarding path we can take.

For years, going to my job became the easy thing to do, until I couldn’t stand the thought of doing it. Then it became the hard thing to do. All of a sudden it felt empty. Years of doing the work that someone else ordered me to do, and for what?

Miki-Love-Life-Large-size1-1100x500It’s only after I began my journey to make a living doing something I loved that I truly began to feel completely alive. It’s one of the best challenges I’ve faced. It requires a great amount of planning and persistence to become an entrepreneur but it’s also the richest and most rewarding thing that I’ve done in a very long time. And I’m just getting started.

I think that pursuing the challenge of making a living by doing what you love is a direct route to a life well lived. And given how brief the time we’re all given is, I don’t think there’s a more worthy destination than that.

– Michael

P.S. Tell me one small step that you are planning to take towards making a living doing what you love. I would really love to hear about it.

 

Build Your Own Reality

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 Most of us are slaves of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves about our lives. Freedom begins the moment we become conscious of the plot line we are living and, with this insight, recognize that we can step into another story. 

– Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within

As I move closer to my transition day away from working for a big corporation, I realize that a big part of my identity has been tied to my job and the responsibilities that go along with it. It seemed normal to feel this way while working in the corporate environment. But now things are starting to change.

I feel like I’m waking up.

I feel more exposed.

Things feel more raw.

I guess it’s because I’m aware of the reality of more freedom, being in complete control of my time, being able to create whatever I want, say whatever I want, with no one to answer to but myself.

But then there’s the flip side of that equation. There will be no more bi-weekly paycheck, no matching 401k, no paid vacations, no more ‘stability’ of working for a guaranteed return. I will be the one responsible for creating value and making sure that I’m solving real problems. Otherwise, I don’t get paid.

But here’s the thing.

This is a choice. I am choosing to create extraordinary work for myself.

Work that feels exciting.

Work that fills me with energy knowing that I am making progress with something that matters.

I am no longer bogged down with my corporate inbox, tasks that drain my energy, and doing work that I don’t really care about. I am genuinely happy about what lies ahead.

My mind has somehow expanded to understand that true abundance will never come from a job. It’s funny. I couldn’t see this while I was committed to the day-to-day grind of my job. It’s hard to see the gardens when you’re locked in jail. Abundance showed up when I began pursuing my true desires and let go of the perceived safety of my job.

Now I am focusing on finding creative ways to show others that it’s totally possible to achieve the following:

  • Create extraordinary & inspiring work
  • Make extra income doing it
  • Quit your day job (or at least be ready if your company decides to lay you off)

Now I wake up every day with the motive of enhancement. How can I enhance my family, my friends, my clients, potential customers, my blog readers, people I don’t even know yet but I would like to know?

Some people have indicated to me that it’s great that I’m able to do this but that they are in a totally different situation that doesn’t make it possible for them. They tell me “it’s just the way it is.”

What?

Hey, I realize that we all have different circumstances but many people severely discount their ability to design a life that truly represents the way they want to live.

If working 40-50 hours per week at a job, getting paid vacations, and a guaranteed paycheck are what you need, then great! I’m in your corner 100%.

But if you really desire something more, whether its making a bigger difference through your own thing, traveling the world, being in control of your income, living in a sunny location during the winter (one of my personal favorites), or being able to ski mid-week, I am here to tell you that YOU are in control!

Take responsibility for the life you want to create.

It’s time that we all (myself included) take full responsibility for the life that we create.  I will always be very clear about one thing…that we are all different and the dream that floats my boat might seem completely ridiculous to the next person. But the point is that we all have our own visions of greatness and we all have the free will to pursue it.

Now you might think that my perspective requires a certain privilege available only to those that are already wealthy, successful or otherwise endowed with choices unavailable to you.

This is not the case! This was not the case for me and it was not the case for many people I know that have consciously created their lifestyle.

The only prerequisite to a new way of life is to start creating it. You start with the vision of how you want to live and then you work toward creating the actual life that you envision.

In most cases, it won’t be easy, or straightforward or feel completely safe. But it’s your life that is on the line and I encourage you to start really living it.

I wake up every day wondering if I should go take another job in the corporate world. The allure of the big salary, the benefits and the perceived stability are appealing. But I know that there is another way for me right now. I know that it’s time for me to create extraordinary work for myself.

It’s okay to take baby steps.

“I can’t just QUIT!” people say. “I have bills to pay.” I get it. I’m not saying quit today. Before someone runs a marathon they learn how to run to the end of the block and back, then run a mile, then two miles. They run several times a week and stay healthy. Then they run a marathon.

Make a list right now. Write down every dream you have. I want to start a business. I want to travel to Africa. I want to simplify my life. I want to have the freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to make an impact with my creativity. I want to have more time for myself.

These are not goals. These are core desires for your life. What can you do today to start practicing these desires? Who can you help today? What can you do to simplify your life today? This is how you take baby steps. This is how you eventually run towards freedom.

Challenge yourself.

I want you to think about your current life in a new way.

Ask yourself this question about your job, your relationships, where you live, and how you spend the majority of your time:

Would I want to do this if I didn’t have to?

If yes, great!

If no, it’s time to begin building your own reality. You get to decide what your reality looks like and start designing it. No one is stopping you.

What would it take to wake up excited and go to sleep fulfilled most days? Decide to move one step closer to this every day.

Plan for it.

Do it.

Michael

P.S. Tell me one thing you are 100% committed to doing differently by this time next year.