Seeking the Path Less Traveled and Embracing the Struggle

In life we are taught to seek perfection and the school system gives us a mindset telling us to avoid mistakes, to avoid pain, and to avoid things that make us feel comfortable. Well, I am here to tell you that is bullshit.

One of the biggest struggles I ever faced in life was un-learning all the bullshit I was sold in school. I thought I had to always follow directions, alyways had to get things right and to avoid any choices that might lead me to make a mistake. This mindset that was being forced on me was in direct competition with my natural ambition.

I wanted to do great things for myself but I was being taught how to be the best person at following directions. I was being taught how to be a great employee but thats not what I wanted for myself. I hated doing what other people told me to do.

I wanted to be able to go surfing when the waves were good.

I wanted to be able to hang with my friends and have a good time.

I wanted to be able to spend time with my family on my own terms.

I did not want to have to request time off to do any of these things I loved to do.

How in the hell would I ever be able to live a life that though? Go to school, go to college, get a job. That is what I was taught. Problem was that there was no part of me that wanted any of that.

I had to seek The Road Less Traveled (great book) to get uncommon results. When my world came crashing down at 19 I was thankfully forced to walk a different path. I had no idea what the destination would be but I took it one day at a time and am happy with where I ended up.

I came to see my personal struggles as a blessing. I was grateful for the trouble I got in, grateful for the drug problems, and grateful for all my struggles. When you look at things from a postion of gratitude it changes everything.

That is what opened my eyes to all the bullshit around me. I forced myself into a situation where my world was shattered. The beauty in that is that now I was able to rebuild it my way, on my own terms, and I was determined to do it differently.

Now a days I see pain points as opportunity. Weakness in the gym? Thats just an opportunity to get stronger.

Found something in my business that is losing us money or taking too much time? Great! An opportunity to be more efficient!

My son having issues with something in school? Awesome, what a great learning opportunity for him!

Weakness is nothing but an opportunity for growth. It gives you something to focus on. It forces you to get better. So often we dont realize we have something to work on becuase we are comfortable.

When we get out of our comfort zone the magic happens, the growth happens, and we are able to exercise our true potential.

What situation in your life makes you uncomfortable? What is is trying to tell you? What is on the other side of that discomfort?

Proper Mindset and How it Allows You to Overcome Whatever Life Throws at You

You’re looking at my watch but my minds really the diamond

— Wyclef Jean

Mindset, it changes everything. Mindset is what allows people to go through tragedy and come out of it shining bright, ready to take on the world. It is also what leads people down a darker path when they encounter tragic situations. Have you ever asked yourself why two different people can go through similar situations but have different outcomes?

If you are reading this right now I imagine you are one of two people. Either you have been somewhat successful and are looking to take things to the next level or you are going through somewhat of a tough time and looking for a way out. No matter which side of the coin you are on, working on your mindset is a good idea. How do you do that though? What does that look like?

Proper mindset starts with realizing the potential you have within yourself. Realizing that everything you need to suceed is within you, not outside of you. It has nothing to do with someone else or something else. It’s all you! As humans we are all incredibly blessed with the potential to overcome any situation. How do I know this? Because we have examples of people who have overcome their struggles, failures, and tragic situations. If they can do it, you can do it!

Viktor Emil Frankl ( 1905 – 1997) – Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, devoted his life to studying, understanding and promoting “meaning.” His famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. He went on to later establish a new school of existential therapy called logotherapy, based in the premise that man’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” even in the most difficult of circumstances. (Source https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/viktor-frankl/)

Stephen William Hawking (1942 – 2018) – In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein. (Source http://www.hawking.org.uk/)

Bethany Hamilton (1990 – present) – American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off but who ultimately returned to professional surfing. She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. In April 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released. (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BethanyHamilton)

Oprah Winfrey (1954 – present) – Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in inner-city Milwaukee. She has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14; her son was born prematurely and died in infancy.

Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931)was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America’s greatest inventor. Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before creating the lightbulb

These are real life super heroes my friends. People that overcame what some would say is impossible. People that never gave up no matter what. This is the power of mindset coupled with hard work.

Personally I had to overcome a poor mindset that was created through a lack of direction in life as a young man. This lack of direction led me to not placing much value on my life in the world. I had no meaning, I had no role to play. I did not think I was important so I did not care what I did. I had no respect for myself or anyone else. I further poisoned my mind by constantly using drugs and alcohol which dug me further into a hole. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom at the age of 19 that I took a hard look at my life. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was ready for a change. Thankfully my trouble with the law landed me in jail for quite some time. The drugs could no longer numb my mind and I was given the opportunity to get better. I realized I was ready to do things differently, but how the hell would I do that? I had no idea what different looked like, what it meant, or how to do it. After jail I was forced to go to inpatient rehabilitation followed by 2 years in a sober living house. This is where I learned how to live a life without drugs and how to operate within the rules of society. Those 2 years are a story in itself and I will share that story in a different post. What was important for me to realize is that the drugs were not the problem, they were a symptom. The problem was I had no direction in life as a young man but I was ambitious. I wanted to do great things but had no idea how to do it. Eventually, I lost faith that I could do it. To numb the pain I turned to drugs and the comforts of the life I already had, even though I did not like it. After all, once an addict, always an addict, right? NO! That would not be my story. I refused to let my past dictate my future and I was determined to walk a path that led me to a place I wanted to be in life.

When my journey started my mindset was garbage. I did not believe in myself so people told me they believed in me. They would say things like “Hey, do you trust me?” I would say “Ya sure, I do” and they would say “ok, well I believe in you even if you don’t believe in yourself, so just trust me”

As I surrounded myself with people who had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish I realized 2 things:

1. There were people that overcame worse situations than mine.
2. If they can do it then I can do it.

I came to believe in myself because I had living breathing examples of people around me.

When you are working on your mindset the first step is realizing that you can do whatever it is that you want to do. There is nothing new under the sun. I know I can accomplish things because someone else has already done it. The deciding factor is if I am willing to put in the effort to make it happen.

I will be writing a lot more on mindset and sharing specific actionable things. There is so much I can write on this because it took me 6 years of working on myself to get to a point where I truly believed I could accomplish the things I wanted to do.

Just know that step 1 is believing in yourself, if you can not do that like I could not then believe in someone else and understand if they can, you can. That is your mustard seed. That is the seed that you must nurture and let grow into something big and beautiful.

For now, I will leave you with a couple questions and would love to chat with you about any questions you have when it comes to this topic.

Is there anything in your life you think you can not do?

What do you think is holding you back?

Have other people accomplished what you want to accomplish? What is the difference between you and them?

Feel free to share your story here. I am certain there are others out there just like you.

Mindfulness

To be mindful is to be aware of all our thoughts and eventually to be in control of our thoughts. It may seem crazy to admit that you do not have full control of the thoughts that are in your head but for me it was true. A simple example is having a song stuck in your head (hopefully one you like) that you just can’t get rid of. How many times have you had a song stuck in your head that you don’t even like? You keep asking your self, Why in the hell is “ Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want So tell me what you want, what you really, really want I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want… by the Spice Girls stuck in my head right now? I never did know the answer why and I still don’t what the hell a “zigazig ah” is but I digress…

As time moved on I just accepted things like this as normal. It really did not interfere with my life when I was working a 9-5, single, no kids, and no wife. But as life got busier and when I started running my own business it became difficult to perform well when I was not in control of my own thoughts. I was easily distracted by things like emails, text messages and social media. I did not have the ability to focus on the things I needed to get done.

Enter Meditation! The practice of meditation has numerous well documented benefits. The one I was seeking here was the ability to clear my mind and be focused.

Meditation has been one of the single best practices I have ever taken the time to do. It’s not something reserved just for monks or other religious groups. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, you don’t have to light any candles or pray to the buddha. All I do is lay on my carpet in my office and follow the Headspace App. They will guide you through lots of different meditations. It’s cheap, simple, and only 10 minutes of your time. Do you have 10 minutes to work on yourself? I think so.

Training ourselves to be Mindful is one of the most valuable things we can do for ourselves. We need to be aware of the things floating around in our heads. Our thoughts, our worries, our insecurities and our desires. These thoughts drive us to make certain decisions. It’s important to be aware of them and in control of them. You can not be in control if you are not aware of whats going on in your mind.

Happiness

Anthony De Mello said the following in his book titled Awareness:

“Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don’t have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don’t you experience it? Because you’ve got to drop something. You’ve got to drop illusions. You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!”

Wow, I remember first reading this when I was 19 years old and not really knowing how to take it. I was at a crossroads in life, leaving the life I used to live behind me and seeking a new one but not knowing what this “new life” would be. I already had an identity for myself, things I did on a regular basis and people I spent time with.

I thought I needed to party in order to be happy.
I thought I needed to hang out with my friends in order to not be bored.
I thought my happiness depended on making others happy.
I fooled my self into believing I was happy because I built a life that allowed me to do all these things on a regular basis.

Luckily this world I had built for myself came crashing down and I was forced to make a change. These illusions I had set in my mind suddenly became challenged. I did not want to let them go. That meant I was letting go of me, who I thought I was, and that is a tough pill to swallow. But when your actions lead to crappy consequences and you stop blaming other people for them…well it all starts to make sense.

Being happy is not based on the things you do.

Happiness is a state of mind that can not be destroyed by any current or future situation. For me it is a choice built on a foundation of a confidence, confidence in my ability to make it through any situation life throws at me. Will I be sad and upset at times? Yes, of course but those are fleeting emotions, they come and they go like clouds passing in the sky. Behind those clouds the sun is always shining, some shit just got in the way for a little bit. The sun is always there. Your happiness is always there. When you’re feeling sad, that’s ok but do not let it consume you. You are not a sad person. You are a happy person experiencing a temporary feeling of sadness.

”Don’t worry Be Happy”

Embrace Mistakes

If you are worried about your own mistakes then you have already lost

— Gary Vaynerchuck

Let the mistakes happen. Mistakes are great learning experiences. The Road To Success Is Paved With Failure.

Are you trying to avoid mistakes? Are you seeking perfection without realizing it? Stop that shit – no body is perfect. You have a life to live!

The only thing worrying about mistakes does is delay action – which STOPS your success in its tracks.

How do you deal with the fear of of making a mistake? Move forward with so much strength, so much courage, so much confidence in you, your business, and your team that when a mistake happens it is like dust in the fucking wind and it DOESN’T EVEN MATTER!

For example – In 2016 we lost a source of revenue that paid a big chunk of our bills. I knew two years ago that this would eventually happen. When I realized this; I didn’t stop, I didn’t worry, and I didn’t get caught up in”What if” scenarios. I acted accordingly (not reacted there is a difference) and knew not to become dependable on this source.

What did I do? I pushed forward. I added more inventory to my store.I contracted out work so I could focus on growth. I contacted manufacturers and distributors. Built relationships and signed contracts. 

That source of revenue I lost? Dust in the wind. Worrying plays no role in my life or my business. It adds no value. It only robs you of valuable time.

Know Thy Self

It’s all about the journey, not the destination

— John C. Maxwell

Being yourself is not the first step. Knowing your self is. You can not truly BE yourself until you KNOW THY SELF.

To know what you are good at, what you suck at.

To know what you enjoy doing and do not enjoy doing.

To know what time of day you are most creative.

Knowing how coffee, exercise, diet, and stress effects your performance at work.

To know what work you can perform well in order to get the results you want ( car, house, time to travel, etc..)

The key is putting this together in the right away to use yourself as the best tool you have at your disposal to achieve your dreams and goals.

Knowing thy self is the first basic step to achieving you goals. Yet so many people miss it! You know why? Because so many of us are so concerned with being somebody else. BOOM

In life we are told to ignore our desires, sequester our true selves, and try to act the way someone else perceived as successful does. But you can’t just look at a Bill Gates and say I want to be like that!

You’re missing the whole picture. You’re missing the nights in the garage frantically trying to figure things out. You’re missing the failures, the mistakes, the heartache, the pain, the hustle, the days when we forgot to even eat, the isolation from friends, and so so much more.

You can’t just be Bill Gates. You have to hustle you’re ass off. But first, you have to figure out who you are.|

When you figure that out you can streamline your process. You will then know what tasks are best for you to perform and what tasks will be best suited for others.

This right here is actually simple stuff BUT I feel safe saying we all miss it. The majority of people are still missing it. Some of us have figured it out but the reason why it is so difficult is because we (humans) like to complicate simple things.

When I was a teenager I went through rough times. At the age of 19 I decided the pain of continuing my current life was greater than the pain that would be caused by changing. It was at that age that I began my path of self discovery. Even then it took me another 5 years to even get my shit together, go through even more painful situations, and then I figured it out….

It’s all about the journey, not the destination