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"Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pet Project in Personal Growth

Last week I wrote about A Pet's Last Day - Making the Right Choice.  I challenged myself to write about the most difficult topic I could think of regarding the family pet.

For as long as I can remember, I have actively contemplated situations that make me uncomfortable in an effort to hedge against the surprise and gravity of the actual situation when it arrives.

This week, I have spent some time considering what affect my strategy has had on my outlook on life, asking myself, "Is it healthy to dwell so intently on worst case scenarios?"

I don't have an answer.  I listen to and read highly successful people who advocate for protecting your thoughts and maintaining a positive mental attitude (PMA). Watch Napolean Hill describe one of the seven most important success principles.

I also listen to highly successful people (in some cases the same people) talk about how essential it is to face your fears in order to personally grow.

Many of my productive life experiences stem from my ability to visualize and anticipate challenging outcomes and to teach methods to avoid negative results or make the most of the challenge.

Yet, one of the concepts I am learning and developing comes from the book The Magic of Thinking Big in which the author states:
"Action cures fear."
Sometimes taking time to reflect on and avoid negative outcomes prevents us from moving forward.  By avoiding disappointment or failure, we may miss the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.

Personal growth is a road without a final destination. Growth is a journey we travel day by day.  How fast we travel the road of growth depends on how readily we are willing to experience disappointment in order to learn and grow.  Furthermore, how often we circle and re-travel the same road depends on how readily we remember and learn from the disappointments.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Modern Gold Rush: Are You a Prospector or a Farm Hand?

Does anyone doubt that we are living in an era of change no less significant than the Renaissance or the Industrial Revolution?

Human history marches on and change is ever present, but there certainly are eras in which the velocity of change pushes the needle to another level. Change can be revolutionary!  Change can be fatal!

Do you ever day dream about how you would have responded to opportunities like the settlement of the American West or the California gold rush? Do you remember the movie Far and Away [3 minute recap here] starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman? The film dramatically depicts the chasing of a long shot, big dream with reckless abandon.

Hindsight is 20/20.  It is easy to judge the wisdom of visionary thinking and the merits of taking action when at the same time NOT facing the peril of risk and the uncertainty of potential failure.  I am sure we all would have instantly embraced the wisdom of fighting the British regulars with General Washington, right?

So how DO you judge the value of opportunity in historic times without a blueprint?

In John Maxwell's acclaimed book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, he points out that it is impossible to wait and see over the horizon while you are standing still.  The horizon is revealed once you start walking toward it.

In an era of monumental change, there are two risks to waiting and seeing.  First, is that the inevitable change may be fatal to the idle (think of the game, musical chairs). Second, is that every moment of delay sacrifices the potential for greater reward (think early bird gets the worm).

James Altucher wrote a stimulating article,10 Reasons You Have To Quit Your Job In 2014 in which he assaults the notion that landing a corporate job is a desirable outcome in this evolving economy.

5) Count right now how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life.
I don’t like it when one person can make or break me. A boss. A publisher. A TV producer. A buyer of my company. At any one point I’ve had to kiss ass to all of the above. I hate it. I will never do it again.
    The way to avoid this is to diversify the things you are working on so no one person or customer or boss or client can make a decision that could make you rich or destroy you or fulfill your life’s dreams or crush them. I understand it can’t happen in a day. Start planning now how to create your own destiny instead of allowing people who don’t like you to control your destiny. When you do this count, make sure the number comes to over 20. Then when you spin the wheel the odds are on your side that a winning number comes up.
In this era of change, the greatest principal lever that will impact your life and the life of your descendants is the struggle between Control versus Freedom. Like the race depicted in Far and Away, there will be winners and losers.  Consider the wisdom of the African safari: whether you are the wildebeest in fear of being eaten, or the lion in fear of starving to death, when the sun rises you had better be running.

Altucher concludes that placing too much value in a traditional job is a recipe for personal, financial disaster.  He says:
Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes (your dreams beyond goals). When you are truly enhancing the lives of the people around you.
When every day you wake up with that motive of enhancement. Enhance your family, your friends, your colleagues, your clients, potential customers, readers, people who you don’t even know yet but you would like to know. Become a beacon of enhancement and then when the night is gray, all of the boats will move towards you, bringing their bountiful riches.

The idea of working dutifully in one career for a limited scope of employers no longer can be relied on as a strategy to secure your home, your family, your finances or your future.  Where value was once perceived by becoming an expert within a secure occupational silo, the nature of borders, technology, social commerce and evolving forms of communication forces a fresh assessment.

Freedom and personal control will survive for those who do what they love; for those that diversify what they do; for those who act immediately with reckless abandon; for those that move constantly toward the horizon; for those who seek to add value to others in everything they do.