Picture Yourself Already There

In a Tim Ferriss podcast, Arianna Huffington is being interviewed, and she describes an amazing exercise her mother did to help prepare her for college. Since she was a young girl, Arianna had a fascination and wanted to attend Cambridge University in the UK. It was out of the country, expensive, and a type of college that wasn’t necessarily seen as “possible” for Arianna’s upbringing. But for her mother, anything was possible, and she taught this in the most amazing ways.

While the majority of her family were brushing this dream to attend Cambridge aside, Arianna’s mother was telling her that it can happen. One day, her mom said she got some cheap tickets, and she took Arianna to Cambrige. One plane and train ride later, she was on campus—not to meet anyone there, but just to simply walk around. Arianna was 14 years old at the time. Her and her mom walked around the campus for hours exploring the colleges, eating at the cafe, and walking the paths to make it feel real. It was an early form of visualization, and Arianna could picture herself there, already there.

Fast forward in time, Arianna learned english, took the exams, and received a scholarship to attend Cambridge. She talks about how this visualization so early on helped her feel confident that it could happen.

I recently went to a business seminar and had a conversation with two women who looked to be doing amazing work with their growing business ventures. I asked them how they did it. How did they gain the courage to leap into their business full-time? They told me to start visualizing that I already have it. Start talking like I already have a team, an office, a huge following of customers. The behavior to make successful steps will stem from these affirmations being pushed out into the world.

These two women were doing what Arianna did when she was 14 years old. They were visualizing their goals and growing curiosity. They weren’t asking “can this goal happen?”. They were asking “how can we make this goal happen?” and setting an expectation that it was going to happen.

Visualization to reality.


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Picture Yourself Already There

Top 5 Posts from 2017

I started this blog last year and wrote quite a bit, but more importantly I learned a lot. There is nothing more joyful to me than learning something new that will apply value and enrichment to living a more fulfilled life. There are endless subject areas to learn about, and I love them all. From productivity and business to habits and self-improvement—someone who stops learning stops growing; and I make effort to be an ongoing learner.

Listed below are my personal top-five favorite posts from 2017 because of the valuable learnings I gained while studying and writing them. I do this blog for myself, my own learning, my own gaining of wisdom. For those of you that do follow along with me and read my posts, I am grateful, thank you. May we continue learning and growing in 2018. Happy New Year.

Give Thinking it’s Space
Effective decision-making comes with self-awareness and making time to reflect and think.

Win Goals with Heart
Win with curiosity, self-awareness, and heart.

Slow it Down
Have patience, and recognize that many small actions add up to larger successes.

What is the Most Valuable Land?
You only live once. Make it count.

Get Things Done
Have a clear system to be productive.

Top 5 Posts from 2017

What If You Stop Learning?

For the past few weeks, I stopped blogging, stopped reading, stopped listening to podcasts, stopped learning. I wasn’t taking a vacation or break. I just stopped. I’m not too sure why I was in this funk, but in reflecting back, I can observe something very important. When I stopped learning, I stopped growing.

I got stuck in the monotony of every day routines…same repetitive day job work, the usual routine afterward, sleep, and repeat. This was a pretty awful space to be in. It was boring, a bit un-motivating, and irritating. My effort was standard but not above it.

Why is this an important observation?

This stopping of learning also stopped the growing, the creativity. It stopped the going-the-extra-mile work ethic. It stopped the curiosity. Imagine what this does to your organization? If everyone stopped learning, you would eventually go out of business because the innovative thinking to stay above competition would be lost.

Perhaps this is an extreme way of thinking. —Or perhaps you’re stuck in simply meeting standards day-by-day.  Perhaps you never experienced the seemingly magic that comes from learning new things. The boost of creative energy, passion, and desire to get things done and done efficiently and right knowing it makes an impact.

Everyone grows when learning continues. Life becomes stale, in addition to your organization, when consistent learning of new things is not incorporated regularly and often. “Learning” is not some student-at-a-school thing or a attend-a-professional-development-workshop thing. It can simply be taking 20 minutes a day to read a book, listen to a podcast, talk to someone better than you in your field, or watch a video talk online. It’s not much, but losing those 20 minutes can make quite the negative impact.

Have you stopped?

 

 

What If You Stop Learning?

Grieving a Coffeeshop

A coffeeshop I have been going to for years closed its doors today. This coffeeshop felt like a second home, and I’m sad to see it go for the employees and the community. As for myself, I did work here, had meetings here, and studied-studied-studied here throughout my five years of grad school with the best cold-blended coffee around to keep me fueled.

This coffeeshop is a chain, and there are other ones in the area; but it isn’t the same. There are a few things that made this place stand out. It wasn’t necessarily the coffee that kept me coming back, though I loved it; and I think these observations are worth noting for any business venture:

Location:

This coffeeshop was in a prime downtown area, that for me at least, was conveniently in my area of concentration when I was in town. It was in my walking path, so it didn’t require a great effort to visit.

Customer Service:

The baristas here learned about their customers and seemed to genuinely care about how their days were going. They were conversational, and I too learned about them as well. In a short period of time, they all knew my regular coffee order before I even said it. One barista, who was a math major cheered me on during the nights I studied statistics endlessly with tutoring and often inquired about my progress. That little bit of encouragement helped me in that dreaded class of mine, and that was the kind of service all the employees had—this make-your-days-better type of service. Coffee fuels people, but a smile and friendly interaction does more.

It really is common sense to have good customer service for your business, but it is quite amazing how many businesses miss this mark. This plays a great role in customer retention regardless the quality of your product.

Atmosphere:

The welcoming and friendly employees helped set the atmosphere for the coffeeshop. They spread this positiveness to customers that I felt stayed in the environment of the shop itself making it calm, comfortable, and respectful. The place brought in students studying, families taking a break with their kids, people waiting for the college football game to start, meetups practicing their international language study, businesses discussing problems to be solved…It’s been an interesting place to see this very diverse and open environment, and I loved this vibe.

The tables alone invite this sharing atmosphere. With various sized tables, there was a place for any group count. Some tables looked to be round and extended kitchen tables, almost symbolizing this coming-together type of feel. Tall lamps instead of ceiling lighting, local artwork on the walls—the decor was more home-like. Lastly, they had electrical outlets everywhere…the most I’ve ever seen at a coffeeshop. It’s as though they encouraged customers to stay, get comfortable, and get your work done without the worry of losing battery life on your laptop or other devices. A clear need for customers and another basic feature most coffeeshops don’t tend to.

In summary, I don’t know the reason why this shop closed. However, in reflecting, I think they did a lot of things right. For being a long-time customer and seeing other long-time customers alongside me, I can observe that the things they did get right was having a convenient location, putting great and personable care into their customer service, and creating a comfortable and creative atmosphere. The awesome coffee just happened to be a good by-product of this experience.

Who knows, maybe they’ll get an “extra shot” and try again some time in the future. I will certainly miss the character of this small coffeeshop, its employees, and its community; but I’ll remember the growth gained from my experiences there. It’s a business that made an impact through experiences, not necessarily products.

Grieving a Coffeeshop

Follow the Discomfort

A friend of mine recommended that I check out the TEDxUCLA talk called “Go with your Gut Feeling” from Magnus Walker. I have never heard of this name, but after listening to his talk I’ll never forget it.

From the outside appearance, you may perceive Magnus Walker as someone wandering through life not likely to get anywhere. In learning his story, it’s a reminder that appearances are not what they seem. Magnus Walker is this free-spirited person, but he is also widely successful. He has built a clothing company, a film location business, and taps into various areas of Porsche cars—restoration, racing, driving, and collecting. He is sought out by companies for collaborations and partnerships. When you hear him talk, he’s so humble about it. He didn’t even know why he was selected to give a TED talk to begin with.

At the end of his talk, his message is simple. Having gone through all the experiences he has been through, he recommends to simply follow your gut feeling. When it feels a bit awkward, that’s a sure sign you’re going in the right direction. Secondly, you need to stay motivated and dedicated.

He describes how he never asked for anyone’s opinion but rather followed his gut and did what he wanted to do. He followed his passion. It’s not much more complicated than that. It’s a phrase we hear often: “follow your passion“, but so few people do this. I can’t count anymore the number of people who offer their opinions about how I should live my life after grad school—where to work, where to live, what to do here and there. All of this is based on what they think success is.

What is so refreshing here is that when Magnus Walker says to follow your gut and passion, he means it because he’s living it. And it’s working out well for him. My observation of people telling me how to live my own life while they continuously complain about their own shows the resistance people having in following their own passion. Perhaps by steering people into following “their path”, they are protecting themselves from facing the truth that they never chose to live their true passion themselves. Perhaps they didn’t have the courage to follow it and ignored their gut feeling instead of listening to it.

It’s not easy to follow your gut, to live your passion, to really be authentic. This is why everyone doesn’t do it. But every now and then you hear an awesome story, like that of Magnus Walker’s; and the refresh button gets hit. Yes, do what you love to do. You only live once.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
-Robert Frost


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Follow the Discomfort

Do You Really Want to Know?

“People won’t tell you how they feel until they believe you want to know.” – Sheila Heen

I am often reminded of this quote when people ask me questions. Any question that asks for my opinion or thought. These questions could fall under any category: general work, design, business, news, politics, books, media, life decisions, sports, whatever. Because many struggle to be vulnerable or live out their truly authentic values, it’s common to reply with an auto response to questions in order to brush them away. We may cover it by replying with a vague answer, a safe answer, or perhaps an answer you “think” the asker wants to hear. I am not perfect by any means and have done, and still do, this often.

Take for example the question “How are you?
Good.” —This is likely your typical response.

Or, “Where do you stand on [this] issue?
[The side that you’re on in order to block false judgements or retaliation back]” —This is an easier route to take.

Or, “Do you have ideas for [this]?”
Yes, I think it…“—But you’re interrupted by the asker and choose to just keep quiet instead. —Again, easier.

So, let’s go back and dissect Sheila Heen’s quote: “People won’t tell you how they feel until they believe you want to know.”

Until they believe“. Wow, that could take some time.

It’s a tough task to get someone to believe and trust you. Advertisers try to do this on a daily basis with the brands they are selling. But set aside advertisers, let’s look at you. Are you trustworthy? Believable?…to your employees, friends, family, colleagues? What are your true motives?

How do you get to be believable? Each scenario is different, and I don’t claim to have the answers to this, just the curiosity of exploring it. To start though, I think it comes down to having compassion, open-mindedness, and a listening ear to build this trust.

The next time someone asks you a question about your thoughts and opinions, ask yourself your own question first: Am I filtering my thoughts to plan the best answer outcome for the asker, or am I representing my true values?

How are you?


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Do You Really Want to Know?

Slow it Down

If there is one thing I will always remember my therapist saying when I got highly stressed, it’s to “slow it down”. And time and time again, when I do indeed do this, the results are far better than if I had kept banging my head against the wall. That by slowing it down, we can actually get to our desired destination faster.—yes, it’s true. Our emotions are easier to deal with at smaller scales, and mastering one small step gives us the confidence to take the next.

It is the tortoise that wins the race isn’t it? It’s not the fast, overexerting hare. Gary Vaynerchuk swears by this practice: “You may think I’m frantic…intense…fast…but look closer and understand: Patience matters.” [/] “I’m not going to become a billionaire overnight like Zucks or like Sacca or like Travis, but I’m going to get there as a tortoise. Which is going to confuse everybody because I have a hare’s costume.”

Pressfield talks about the importance of delayed gratification so not to rush into actions and decisions not thoroughly thought out. Quick is where mistakes are made. “The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out on each individual work.”

Josh Waitzkin, chess player and martial arts competitor, shares the idea of focusing on the micro instead of the macro. Master the smaller techniques and don’t be overwhelmed by the larger picture. When we focus on the brick-by-brick attention, we can slow it down and understand that each small action mastered will eventually build up to complete the grander view. After all, the cathedral is built brick-by-brick. The tortoise will get there faster by being patient, smart, and steady.

We can get somewhere faster by working slower. If you think about it, this is quite a beautiful thing and somewhat a sigh of relief. It’s okay to take a breath. You have time for this. This is a never-ending practice for me and a goal to constantly get better at.


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Slow it Down