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New Hope, PA. is one of my favorite places to go once the weather gets nice. It sits on the Delaware River across from Lambertville, NJ and it has this incredibly unique, eclectic vibe. Bikers decked out in leather hang out alongside a prominent lesbian/gay community. Cool NY-style art galleries sit beside witchcraft and body piercing stores. Family ice cream shops sit across from crowded outdoor bars. The streets pulse with life, cars cruise the main road through town, and there is more artwork on people’s bodies than in its art galleries. It is a town on the fringe, accepting of everyone, and the people-watching is GREAT!

 

Across the river, a short ¼ mile walk over a bridge sits Lambertville. The vibe is very different there. It is more staid and proper. The art galleries, stores and restaurants are more upscale and tame. There are no bikers, no witchcraft stores or crazy bars, and a lot fewer tattoos and piercings walk the streets. It is, well, more “normal.”

 

These two towns are a perfect demonstration of what I have been hearing and reading a lot about lately . . . “culture.” I have seen it so many times in the past few weeks that I wonder if it is about to become the latest buzzword. Regardless of whether or not it becomes the next hot jargon term, culture is important to all of us.

 

vibe1I think most of us relate to culture more as a vibe. It is something we sense about a person, family, organization, town, university, company, restaurant . . . anything really. We sense it immediately; within seconds of experiencing it. And it subconsciously determines how we interact with whom or what we are experiencing. Do we want to hang out with that person? Do we like that family? Do we want to go to that school? Do we want to do business with, or work for, that company? Are we going to rave about that new restaurant?

 

We assess a vibe and like or dislike it immediately, but it takes a very conscious and concerted effort to create . . . or at least it should. Establishing a vibe is vital to your future, whether you are an individual or an organization. It will determine the type of people you attract into your life and the type of customers you have in your business. Yet, too many of us ignore it or leave it up to circumstance, letting it emerge willy-nilly rather than with intent.

 

What we need to realize is that every action we take, and every belief we hold, adds up to our vibe or culture. They form who we are and how we will be defined. As such, we should be very conscious about our decisions and actions, and think about how they contribute to, or detract from, whom we want to be and how we want to be known in the world.

 

Sadly, not enough people and companies are consciously creating their vibe or culture. As a result, events and the reactions to them, dictate who they are.

 

If that is occurring for you or your company, you are letting the “outside world” dictate and define who you are, rather than letting that come from your heart and spirit. And if that is the case, at some point you will most likely find yourself unhappy in your life or business and you will want to change who you have become.

 

If you don’t run your life, someone else will.

Anonymous

 

If you are not consciously creating how you want to be seen in the world, then someone, or something, else will do it for you. It is that simple. Do not surrender your power this way. Take time to think about how you, or your company, wants to be known. Then take the necessary actions to create that vibe.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.
 
 
Can’t think of anyone better who essentially posed this question to all of us. :-)
 

I always wanted to master the ability to do HANDstands. They just seem like so much fun and an expression of strength and balance.

 

However, before I could do a HANDstand, I decided I should probably master a HEADstand. I felt it was a stepping stone since you have to be upside down for both. And I decided to master this one step at a time. First I would master HEADstands using the wall as a support, then I would master free-standing headstands, and finally I would move on to handstands.

 

I accomplished the first step pretty easily. I gave myself 3 months to figure it out, but I had it down inside of a week. I felt quite confident knowing the wall was always there to support and “catch” me.

 

Step two I found much harder. I could be free from the wall for a few seconds at a time, but then my balance would falter and my feet would always fall back to it for support and reassurance.

 

I spent at least 3 months in this space, making little, if any, progress. I would last a few seconds away from the crutch of the wall, but without fail, my feet fell back to it, or worse, I fell out of the headstand all together. I was getting quite discouraged and wondered if I would ever succeed.

 

Then the happy accident occurred.

 

HeadStand 1One day while I was doing a headstand, it just felt right to stretch out my body as long as I could make it. As I was inverted, I decided to lengthen and tighten my core, and stretch my legs as far to the ceiling as I could make them go. And that’s when it happened.

 

I suddenly felt a balance, strength and centeredness I had never felt before. The next thing I knew, I could do a free standing headstand away from the wall for several seconds, maybe even 10 seconds!

 

Something about stretching my body out, tightening my core, and reaching for the ceiling with my feet was the secret to finding balance and mastering this next stage. I hardly noticed it when it first happened, but then I realized this was the key to achieving the next stage.

 

Often, success does not happen with a big epiphany or a grandiose “Eureka!” moment. More times than not, success happens with a barely perceptible, small, incremental difference or shift you make in your efforts.

 

If you have been struggling with a success in your life, rather than frustrate yourself by trying to make a big leap, I encourage you think about a small change you can make. Then pay close attention to the results, for it may produce a surprising result.

 

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’, but ‘Hmm, that’s funny…

– Isaac Asimov

 

Too often we focus only on the big eureka moment, thinking that taking big steps will get us to our goal faster. But more times than not, the small, almost imperceptible changes are the ones that open the doorway to the success we desire.

 

Often times, we stumble across these successes after many, many attempts. One of the the biggest differentiators between success and failure is determination. It took Edison thousands of tries to develop a battery. But he never was discouraged by his failed attempts. Instead, his perspective was, “I have not failed. I’ve just found thousands of ways that won’t work.”

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.
 
 

To see how these small, barely perceptible incremental differences matter and can be the difference between a champion and . . . whoever comes in second, check out the video below.

Finish the Dream

When Gary Vaynerchuk was a little boy, he dreamed of being incredibly rich. Actually, for him it wasn’t a dream as much as it was a foregone conclusion. It was just something he KNEW was going to happen.

 

Last month I had the opportunity to hear Gary speak, and not surprisingly, his dream came true. He took his family wine business from $3 million to $60 million a year by leveraging his abilities and the never-ending marketing tools the internet creates to reach customers – email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. He has since parlayed his success into a venture capital firm and a social media agency of 500 employees.

 

And he is not done.

 

Within the first minute of his talk, Gary joked about buying the NY Jets football team. It was a joke because . . . well, the Jets are a joke and in bad need of good leadership. It is not uncommon to poke fun of the Jets here in the New York City area.

 

But then he mentioned the Jets again. And then again. And once more. It soon became clear that he was not joking. This is a real goal and dream of Gary’s: buy the Jets and resurrect them into a Superbowl champion, creating the same success with them as he has done with his family wine business and other businesses he invested in.

 

And this is no small dream! We are talking about an investment of just over $1 billion. And he will do it. Of that I have no doubt. He talks about it with the same confidence and certainty he had when he was a kid and just KNEW he was going to be incredibly rich.

 

Today, the dream of owning the Jets is what fuels Gary. It inspires him, excites him, provides him with laser-like focus, and gives him the energy of a giddy child.

 
dreams1

Hearing his story got me thinking about our childhood dreams. I think so many of our authentic childhood dreams have been crushed because these days the American dream seems to be all about making a jillion dollars or finding celebrity on the web and reality TV.

 

The problem, however, is that I think that is a fictionalized characterization of the American dream that we finally need to let go of. I think our true dreams have been hijacked by this incessant message that success = making a jillion dollars.

 

Your dream doesn’t have to be about money or celebrity – not that there is anything wrong with an awesome dream like that. What is important, however, is that the dream is about YOU.

 

What is YOUR dream? Or was your dream growing up?

 

I remember as a 12-year-old in 7th grade I wrote this amazing poem about the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord. I was surprised by the positive response I received to my writing and in that moment I realized I wanted to be a writer. My dream was to be a best-selling author.

 

And here is what I have learned from years and years of NOT fulfilling that dream.

 

Until we go after that dream, the one we have always known and felt deep in our soul, we will never feel the peace and sense of accomplishment we crave. We will always be chasing the wrong thing, and when we catch it, we will still feel unsatisfied.

 

Stop chasing after the things you don’t truly desire.

 

Thanks to Gary, I added a new goal to my 2015 goals – finish the book I started writing 10 years ago.

 

What dream will you finish this year?

 

Hope is a beautiful thing. I have built a career off of it. But it sucks as a plan.

– Rich Largman

 

I struggled with focusing on dreams for this post. The truth is, I feel like the term dream is a bit “tired” these days. It feels like a Disney cliche and it has lost the meaning and power it once held. As soon as you mention the word dream, people relate to it as something that might never come true, or worse, is not suppose to come true. It is something we are supposed to always chase, and at best, it will be very difficult to bring to fruition.

 

However, dreams are really just goals we have not put a plan behind. That is the real secret. More times than not, fulfilling a dream is not about divine intervention or an amazing stroke of luck. It is about having a clear idea of what you want, putting a plan in place and putting in the hard work to make it a reality.

 

Read how this applies to your business here.

Most people believe success is a function of hard work. Many popular quotes allude to this.

 

  • Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.
  • Success is where luck and preparation meet.
  • The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.

 

There is a great deal of truth to this line of thinking, however, it overlooks one very important point — before any of that hard work is done, success is created in the mind.
 
context1
Bottom line: Success is a mind game.

 
If you win the game there, you are more than halfway to whatever success you desire.
 
The challenge, of course, is that in order to win the game in your head, you must be mindful of the thoughts and beliefs that hold you back – the negative ones that extinguish your success and dreams before they are even born. This mindfulness is often more difficult than any manual labor you will ever engage in to create success.
 
The reason it is difficult is because most of the thoughts and beliefs that hold us back are quiet killers. They are unconscious thoughts and beliefs that lie just below the surface of our life. They are just beyond our reach, yet they constantly whisper to us over and over again, reminding us that “we can’t,” “we have no chance,” or “we are not good enough.”
 
These are the little buggers we need to eliminate.
 
How, you ask?
 
To borrow from Jim Collins, who wrote the best-selling book Good to Great you need to get the right thoughts and beliefs on the bus and the wrong thoughts and beliefs off the bus. And that is no easy task. Many of us fail because . . . sadly . . . it is simply human nature to believe something negative about ourselves before we would believe something positive.
 
So how can we access these negative thoughts and beliefs and banish them? It is actually quite simple. Not necessarily easy, but definitely simple.

 

  1. Create Awareness. We must first shine a light on these negative beliefs. Identify and distinguish them. If we cannot identify them and say “Aha! There you are!” then there is nothing we can do about them. They will continue to silently run our lives, controlling us and our actions like robots.
  2. Transformation. Once the negative beliefs have been identified, they must either be discarded if they do not serve you, or transformed into a positive belief that does serve you and your goals. For the most part, this can be done with a little thought and some word-smithing.
  3. Make it a Mantra. Once you have crafted a positive thought or belief that serves you, take the opportunity to recite it several times a day. The repetition not only reminds you of your intended desire, but it begins to create a new neural pathway in your brain. Essentially, the new thinking will lead to new action.

 

We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see.

– Muhammad Yunus

 

So many people, especially here in the United States, are indoctrinated into a culture that is in love with taking action and doing things. However, I think if you ask any extraordinarily successful person, whether they be a premier athlete or captain of industry, you will find that their success began in their head. They either visualize their success and/or strategically plan for it. And only after it is crystal clear in their mind, do they take their first step.
 

Do you know how your thinking and beliefs affect your goals? Are they clouding or advancing your vision and dreams? It is very hard to achieve the greatest level of success if you do not manage the silent dream killers that may be lurking inside your head.
 

Read how this applies to your business here.

If you are not single, chances are you missed the valuable lesson OkCupid has to teach everyone. OkCupid is one of the numerous popular dating sites on the Internet, and it does something the other dating sites do not. Trust me, I know. I have been on them all.

 

OkCupid has thousands of questions their members can answer. They fall into 6 categories – ethics, sex, religion, dating, lifestyle and other. The more questions you answer, the better your suggested matches will be.

 

Why is this important and how does it apply to you . . . even if you are not single?

 

These questions paint the context around each person. Of course, like every other dating site you can see a person’s photos, read their profile and see their basic stats; but that is just a shell. To get a true understanding of the person – how they think, what they believe and your potential compatibility – you have to look at their answers to the questions. Their responses connect the dots and fill in the shell created by their photos, stats and profile.

 
context1

To fully understand someone, or a situation for that matter, understanding context is vital. Context is the little details that form the world around us; like the atoms that comprise every object or the threads that are woven together to make our clothes. By themselves they seem insignificant and nondescript, but when taken together and seen in the big picture, they form our world.

 

Sadly, today’s society is not built for context. 140 character tweets, short emails, even shorter texts, Facebook updates, etc. None of these “drive-by” communications is sufficient enough to create context. As a result, misunderstandings, miscommunication, bad decision making and unnecessary drama is on the rise.

 

And therein lies the challenge.

 

Understanding context takes time and patience. Whether it is a few extra minutes to ask a few more questions or a few extra days to deeply understand, either way, you have to give time and must have patience to allow context to emerge. And in today’s ridiculously fast-paced society, that is a luxury few people are willing to afford. We would rather take the short-cut or simply skip some steps in order to get to the end.

 

The thing is, context is like the water in a fish bowl. It surrounds and pervades the fish’s life, yet, it goes undetected by the fish because it is everywhere. Kinda like air for us humans. We don’t think about it very much or notice it. We just exist within it. Yet, without it, we would die.

 

Without taking the time to distinguish and understand the context of a situation, you may not die, but I promise you, in some way your experience will be more painful.

 

Context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything.

– Kenneth Noland

 

One of the best ways to improve your life and relationships, and eliminate misunderstandings, miscommunications and bad decisions, is to take the time to understand context. Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said it best – seek first to understand, then be understood.

 

This small action will dramatically change most relationships in your life, whether they are personal or business. The simple trick to achieving this change is to listen more, talk less, and take the time to ask more questions.

 

Read how this applies to your business here.
 
 
And for those singles out there, if you want some dating tips and help from one of the world’s most famous villains, be sure to check out this fun video!
 

 

(To see a great demonstration of context, click here!)

 

A few months ago a good friend was visiting, having just returned from a short adventure in China. I really admire how he is living his life. The trip to China was about taking a chance. Chasing an opportunity to see where it might lead. This friend is also someone who easily dances with life’s bigger, more philosophical questions, which is another reason I enjoy our friendship so much.

 

In our last conversation I asked him, “What is your philosophy of living?” We took a moment to get clarity about what I really meant by the question and finally settled on, the principle that guides your daily actions. He wrestled with the question for a bit as he thought out loud, but eventually declared an answer that seemed graceful, fitting and captured the essence of his life.

 

I, of course, knew I now needed to answer this question for myself. I pondered it for a while until this thought emerged – Leave everyone I touch with a greater sense of hope and possibility. At my core, I believe this is who I am, how I approach life and what guides my daily actions.

 

philosophy1If you do not have a sense of what your Philosophy of Living is, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to distinguish this for yourself. I do not believe many people take the time to understand this about themselves, and as a result, they may feel a bit rudderless in life, wondering what they are doing, why they are here or what the meaning of life is.

 

The irony of those questions is that they are not bigger questions about life itself, but rather questions about YOU as an individual and how you define your life. Many people avoid thinking about this because they feel it is hard. In reality, I think they avoid thinking about it because then they might have to actually begin living their life as they truly desire.

 

Don’t waste another year of your precious life avoiding this question. Seek the clarity your Philosophy of Living provides and set sail in 2015 with a stiff wind at your back and a strong rudder to guide you!

 

“What is it that I really want to do with the one wild, precious thing called my life? Don’t go back to sleep. The fires are always kindled. Don’t go back to sleep.”

– Anais Nin

 

The year is young! As arbitrary as time and our declaration of a new year is, it is an opportunity for all of us to begin anew!! If you feel you have been wandering aimlessly through your life or business, now is the perfect time to reset your direction and commitment.

 

As hard as that may sound at first, all it really requires is some quiet time away from your distractions so that you can focus on and reconnect to who you really are and what you are committed to. You may pretend you don’t know, but that is just another smokescreen keeping you from what you really desire.

 

Read how this applies to your business here.

“Live life with no regrets.”

 

God I hate that phrase.

 

If you don’t have any regrets in your life, then you haven’t challenged yourself enough or come across enough situations that really cause you to stop and think long and hard before making a decision.

 

The phrase comes from a perspective of looking back in hindsight and judging our lives. However, until a time machine is invented, we do not have the luxury of hindsight in the present moment. We can’t live in the future in order to help us make a decision in the present. And that is the only place life actually shows up! We can only assess the present moment and make the best decision from there. And I imagine that in that moment, we all make the best decision we possibly can.

 

So why torture yourself with judgment?

 

Don’t put yourself in purgatory; constantly thinking about your choice, judging yourself, and wondering if you made a wrong decision. I just don’t see the value of assessing and reassessing a decision and continually judging ourselves for it. The only result that can produce is a life of unhappiness and uncertainty.

 

Personally, I think regrets emerge in life when we make decisions based in fear. Things we did or didn’t do because we were afraid. I have to believe decisions made from that place will always lead to regret.

 
regret 1

I think the true intent of the phrase above is to make a decision; own it; and go forward. If it turns out to be a bad decision. Fine. Make another one. A different one. One that suits you better . . . now. In the new moment.

 

That, in my opinion, is how you live without regrets.

 

In the end, not having regrets is not about the decisions you made, but rather the ability to forgive yourself for the decisions you made and learn from them.

 

This is a great time of year to think of any regrets – and forgive yourself. Forgive others. We are all doing the best we can. Release that energy and allow yourself to move on and start the new year fresh. Otherwise you will forever be stuck in the past, in a life you don’t want.

 

“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other path, no other way, no other day but today.”

– Jonathan Larson

 

Living a life of regret is more about living in the past, not being able to forgive yourself, or thinking that your life should be different or look different than it does. Second guessing your life away . . . well, I imagine that is a life where you can rarely find peace.

 

The truth is, we have but 2 choices in our life. Love the life you have . . . or begin taking action to change it. Anything in between will feel like purgatory.

 

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