Notes from this Morning #28: You can’t make a list of things that don’t occur to you.

Games, we all love games. What was the first game that you’ve ever played?

The first game I played was Operation, at least that’s the first game that comes to mind. Pulling plastic parts from a naked dude’s image wired to make a light and buzzer go off was weird. It was fun. It did indeed make me think about being a doctor–it made me think of things that didn’t occur to me.

That’s the short ah-ha moment I want to share with you today. Last week when I was driving I was listening to a Hidden Brain podcast, one specifically about how the Rand Corporation did war-gaming for the Pentagon.

Yes, the Pentagon hires people to play elaborate games to simulate all sorts of things. What would we do if had to get nukes out of a failed North Korea? If Russia invaded Estonia, how would that end up? These are both scenarios that the US government has gamed out.

Why? The answer lies in the title of the post. You can’t make a list of things that don’t occur to you. At least not easily, or without doing some work. The thought struck a cord with me and I’ve been thinking about this all last week when I was on vacation. We have unlimited imaginations–but we have limits on things, we have assumptions, we are experts in this or that, and sometimes that knowledge that we do have keeps us from the solutions that we might really need. How do we get rid of those limits?

We can play games; we can simulate situations–we can pretend. We can use games to put ourselves in situations, mentally, that we haven’t been in–and then magically, things can start to appear in our minds that could happen, and sometimes these things are beyond our current knowledge. The soldiers at the Pentagon love these games. They love the fact that they provide them with things that are unexpected. War apparently isn’t linear, and the systems we create to fight wars always have problems, unseen problems. Remember what one past US Secretary of State said:

“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush’s Secretary of State

This idea seems obvious, but, then I started to look back at some of the things I wanted or still want. A personal submarine was something that I want, did you know you can buy a small custom built submarine that’s like an underwater yacht? I didn’t, until a friend of mine in college told me about them. The point here is that we can’t want something that we don’t know about either. The sub was one of my unknown unknowns.

This is a submarine by DeepFlight

I have a lot of unknown unknowns! Dang it!

The other thought I had was problem solving. Haven’t you ever been challenged or tasked to do something and you just couldn’t figure out a way to do it? Then while you were struggling, someone comes up and shows you how to do the thing you’re trying to do with a technique that didn’t occur to you. Doesn’t it blow your mind when that happens? You say, “why didn’t I think of that?” Of course you didn’t think about it.

What about personal issues within your relationships? Do you find yourself having problems with how you’re dealing with others? Issues with your spouse? Could it be that you’re trying to solve those problems in ways that other people have figured out–but the easiest, best, technique or solution is just beyond your grasp–because it hasn’t occurred to you!!! Yikes! Even worse, because you’re not asking if you’re doing it wrong.

You might be doing it wrong

I think the biggest takeaway here is that we have to always be mindful and aware that there could be better ways we are solving the problems in our lives. We have to ask questions, we have to simulate situations, we have to create models that can help us sort through tough situations. Sometimes we have to get some training, and sometimes we have to play games to figure things out.

Have a tough meeting coming up? Create a mental simulation of that activity. Athletes do it all the time. I don’t think there is a single professional athlete out there that doesn’t use visualization to perform their sports, before they are out on the field, the court, the pitch. Gymnasts do this, race car drivers, pole vaulters…

Astronauts do it too. Get a tour of your local NASA center, you’re going to find simulators and simulations everywhere. Pilots, fly in simulators before they fly real planes. These simulators look like giant video games, and that’s really all they are. Did you know that the US Army was developing a video game to help find recruits that had great hand-eye coordination right after 9/11.

Practice within when you’re without

We can learn to never miss in our minds. We can find our unknown unknowns. That’s the thought I’ll leave you with today.

Have a great day! I love you! You are the best.

Featured Photo by Folu Eludire on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #27: Starting rituals are critical.

Walking into any church for me is an interesting experience. The quiet music playing, the smells of coffee, perfume, cookies, dim lights, and bright whispers reflecting off of polished floors, or, muted by thick carpeting–somehow put my mind into a different state. It feels like magic. It’s part of the ritual.

Religion got one thing right, that’s for sure. It’s how to develop and maintain a ritual.

It wasn’t until recently that I thought about the act of creating a ritual to accomplish a specific purpose that had nothing to do with religion.

With a ritual, I found a key to the writing part of my brain, a trigger that I can pull to get me going. I touched on it in past articles, where I call it my “Morning Routine.” In fact, I just abbreviate it in my notes when I refer to it. I just write “MR.”

Without my MR things can go sideways that day. If I wake up and the first thing I’m doing is having an intense discussion with someone, if I’m checking emails, if I’m doing anything other than my MR–I definitely feel off–or that it is literally a day I’m taking off. I don’t do these types of things on the days that I write. I don’t check emails, I don’t look at market charts, I don’t do anything other than think about what I’m grateful for. I try to feel gratitude emotionally and then I write my name in Korean out of respect for my natural mother, and to her memory. Then I begin to work.

It’s fascinating to me that I didn’t realize that MR really should mean: “My Ritual.”

By looking at my morning routine as a ritual I use to get my mind ready, I’m using the same powerful tools that religion uses to get us ready for the sermon, the message for the day. Even better, I’m learning that I can create mini-rituals to complete other tasks.

I’ve made a major realization people! I hate STARTING to do anything!

Make a ritual to begin and break the inertia is what I’ve realized I need to do and more of it, especially when it comes to starting the most vital tasks that I absolutely have to complete.

It’s kind of funny to me that I’m just now becoming mindful of this fact–and I’ve been using them in other arguably less important areas in my life. Lately, I’ve been working on a very specific set of actions I take before I hit a golf shot. Why the heck haven’t I been developing the same type of routines to do things like: stock trading, writing on different topics, or developing art? I’ve been meaning to start creating some sort of art lately, why haven’t I? Well… it’s probably because I don’t have a ritual or routine for starting that activity, YET!

The hardest part of finishing anything is starting it.

That’s a fact for me at least, and one I can address immediately. I feel like it’s definitely going to amp up my productivity and we’ll see. I can actually tell that it’s already working. Yesterday, I was talking to my friend whose father is a writer. He told me yesterday that the trick to writing is just getting behind your keyboard and typing. Anything, just start writing something.

That, my friend, is part of his ritual. He would just write whatever, even if it was not great. Guess what. That’s how I finished this article. And another one earlier this morning on an obscure cryptocurrency I just invested in.

I just started typing whatever came to mind. I used the ritual of opening all the tabs I need to write a NFTM, and presto–this article appeared.

Have a great weekend! I’ll be on vacation next week so I won’t be writing a daily. I’ve even promised myself that I’m leaving all computers at home–except for my phone.

Guilt is the thing that happens to me when I don’t start something I’m supposed to do! I’m going to try to avoid that in the future. I’ll leave you with one thought that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about and how it relates to procrastinating important tasks.

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. . . . Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’ … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

You’re the best! I love you! Have a great one!

Featured Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #26: I come from a failed family

It was back in 2003 or 2004, I was sitting in my (now) wife’s grandma’s house outside of Philadephia in Wayne, PA. At the time I was studying photography at Thomas Nelson Community College and I was a mess. I didn’t know exactly what to do or where to go, and I didn’t know it, but, I was about to get some serious advice from grandma.

It was Thanksgiving. I fondly remember eating turkey sandwiches late at night, poking through grandma’s frig to find that perfect combination of ingredients that I’d put on my sourdough toast. This night though was different. Grandma was still up, and I remember her asking me what I was going to do with my life.

Between bites of my sandwich, she explained to me that she had been a guidance counselor at one time, helping people decide what they would do with their lives. She told me about her office about the people she worked with and how much she’d enjoyed those times. I told her my ideas, I wanted to change majors, again–this time to study computer science. I explained that I thought bio-tech was going to be hot and that maybe I could do something in that field. In the three previous years, I’d studied business and photography, I spent more time in a dark room and out hanging out with my classmates than anything else though. I was wasting time.

She smiled at me but then looked at me very seriously, “At this rate Dan, I don’t think you’re going to make it.” I didn’t quite understand so she went on, “If you continue going to school, changing majors, taking 1-2 classes per semester, by the time you graduate and finish college, you’re going to be 40 years old. You need to buckle down and go back to school full-time. You need to take more classes, not less, you need to quit this idea that you can work full-time and also study. You need to study full-time and work part-time.” I knew she was right. I didn’t know what to say or how to deflect this realization, but I tried. Our conversation wandered into why I was where I was–I blamed others; I blamed my adoptive family, I blamed my natural family–I wasn’t taking responsibility for my future very well back then.

We spent a while talking and ultimately, we got pretty deep and personal. Grandma is good at getting to the core of situations. She told me something that changed my life.

“Dan”, she said, “you come from a failed family, and that’s okay.”

I was stunned. I never thought of families in that way. Being adopted, I didn’t think of family as being anything more than a group of people who by no choice of their own, were together. I didn’t see the success that other families enjoyed. I only saw the dysfunction, the problems, the expense–the pain that “family” brought. Being abandoned at age one and a half, I didn’t feel like I had any family. Of course my first family, my first relationship my first parents had failed. And, I was still alive and well–it was okay.

That night changed my perspective on things. Grandma had me write on a 3×5 card, “I come from a failed family, and it’s okay.” I carried that card with me for years. I looked at it all the time. I dreamed about what it would be like to come from a successful family, what that would have been like. It took me many years to be okay with that idea.

Years later, this mantra, would change. I started to think that “even though I come from a failed family, it’s my responsibility to succeed.” I would share this with the students that I mentored at Coding Dojo. They would come to me with their problems, their weaknesses, their desire to quit. I would lay out my life to them. I would explain how I’m the only child in my adoptive family to graduate from college. I had a career. I worked at NASA as a software developer and programmer. I opened a programming school in Tyson’s Corner, VA that taught hundreds of people. I was a success. If I could make it, then they could as well. They could succeed and they didn’t have any excuse not to–especially if an immigrant who came from absolutely nothing could make it, they could certainly be “okay.”

It worked. Some of the students with whom I had the pleasure of working with work have wildly successful careers now. Some of them worked at or work at Google, Oracle, Accenture, IBM–they own their own companies, they are CTOs, CIOs, and CEOs. Most of them, especially the ones who I worked with directly, have far exceeded their own expectations of success. I’m very proud of them and their hard work. I’m also proud of the effort that I put in to assist them to see what they needed to see to get them past the bumps in the road.

This morning though, I need inspiration. I needed to reflect back on the good things that have happened in the past years–to help me refocus on my task ahead. There are some challenges that I need to work through. I feel like I’m back at that table with Grandma again, spinning my wheels and wondering what to do next. I’m a part of another family now, my own family. For the first time in my life, I have my own flesh and blood with me. I see so much opportunity for him. I’ve spent his whole life trying to ensure that my failed family doesn’t impact his success–and I feel like I’ve done a good job at it. It’s not that now he can go on without me, but now I see we can go on together to make a successful family out of the ruins of a failed one.

I don’t have any excuses any more, and my mantra is now, “I’ve done it before and I can do it again.”

Thank you, Grandma. I love you.

Featured Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #25: What I’ve learned after writing 24 articles on personal development

Statistics for NFTM so far 6/25-8/16 (1 month 23 days)

  • 96 hours of time spent on writing
  • 24,864 words written
  • 1036 average words per article
  • 259 words per hour
  • 4.3 words per minute
  • 7 weeks, 4 days
  • 14.52% of 2021
  • 1271 total elapsed hours since the first post of NTFM#1 on 6/25

The average self-help book is around 40,000 words. I find that interesting because on the same note, a page is about 250 words for your average novel. That means that I’m just under 100 pages, and in regards to writing a book, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, the average book is between 50-100,000 words, so I’m about halfway to that metric.

I know you’re not here to read about the numbers, I’ve just included them mainly because I was interested in knowing what I’d written. So let’s get to the point.

It’s been an interesting journey over the last 53 (including today) days that I started to write and publish these “Notes from the Morning.” Interesting because of what I’ve learned. Even more interesting are the connections I’ve made with people, new and old, through my writing during this time.

When looking over my physical handwritten journal, I find it fascinating and notable that in the weeks and days leading up to 6/25, I don’t see any note of starting to write these “articles.” In fact, I didn’t have any goals to write. I do see a note on 6/11 that simply states in a numbered list:

  1. I will become who I was meant to be.
  2. This time I will finish.
  3. I will master my life.
  4. Your commitment has to equal your goals.

I also have a note that I assume I wrote the next day, “6/12/2021 <– The day I changed” and below it I have the note: “Joesph Campbell, Hero’s Journey.”

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Establish a Routine and Stick with It.

I’ve learned many, many things from these notes. Some of them are written in the notes so that I can reflect on them and some aren’t. I’ll read my notes over and over again sometimes after I’ve published them–and I realize that the time I spent reading, listening to audios, taking notes, watching (very few) videos, was time that I spent in deep work. Those times have helped me make myself a better person.

My writing routine:

My routine would begin with waking up, quietly sneaking out of my bedroom, and beginning my day:

Wake-Up. Most of the mornings I got up around 4 am, but some mornings a little earlier, and some later. But never later than 7 am, maybe there was one day in there I got up afterward–but I also think I was taking the day off specifically so maybe that doesn’t count. I usually eat a small bowl of oatmeal and drink a coffee.

Gratitude. Every day I start my day thinking about 3 things I’m grateful for–some of these things are just “my life”, “my family”, and other days I get very specific about an interaction with someone or something that someone did for me the day before.

The next thing I do is write something that I will do to make the day great. Most days I write, “Serve.”, “Have fun”, “Enjoy the day”, “Do a good turn”, but other days have other notes for this “step.”

After that, I send love. I think about specific people, I take deep breaths and imagine love coming from my heart and going to them. If you’re reading this, you likely had some love coming your way via these moments. I usually note your name down in my journal as well, alongside my name written in Korean next to it. I write my name in Korean each day out of respect for my natural mother, who I start with during each one of these sessions. Even though I don’t know her name, I just think of the word “Oma”, the Korean word for Mom and I tell her I love her. This has helped me mourn her loss and helps me connect with the memory of her in my life.

The next two hours I spend in deep work. I read articles, listen to audiobooks–all while taking very detailed notes about what I’m reading or listening to. I try to focus on the materials, and sometimes I re-listen or re-read things over and over again to make sure I understand them perfectly.

By this time, my wife is up and ready to get going, and I usually find her out with Bailey drinking a coffee. I like to spend 30 minutes just chatting with her, planning the day, talking about the day before–and then I’m back up in my office.

At this point, I’m ready to start writing. I am using a desk that I can stand at, so most of my writing is done while standing. Based on my numbers, I do about 3 hours on average of research for my writing, and then 1 hour of actually writing.

I’m stalling, here is the deal

As I write this, I know one thing. I’m stalling. I don’t want to write the things I’ve learned because they are personal. But I’m going to do my best. Here goes:

  1. Anger management: I can write as a channel for my anger issues. Leading up to the first article, I have weeks of notes on my adoption. I worked through an adoption healing program by Joe Soll, While doing his program I learned a new language to work through my adoption, I found the answers to many questions I had, and asked many of the questions I never asked in the past. I don’t want to get too deep into this here, but I learned a great deal about how to deal with my emotions and to grow from the whole experience. I was definitely stuck emotionally. I highly recommend his books if you were adopted or if you are a natural mother who for whatever reason had to give your child up for adoption. (I realize this is extremely abbreviated, but I promise I’ll write more on this later.)
  2. Control Issues and not finishing projects: I learned that I can write, and these 24 articles have boosted my confidence in my writing immensely. I used to be quite afraid to publish an article on the web–but I also learned why I was afraid. I was afraid because once I wrote something, I’d lose control of it. I couldn’t edit it anymore, and I was no longer responsible. I’ve realized now that finishing an article was something I needed to do each time–regardless of length, quality, or fear– I had to publish it. I’ve learned that finishing an article is like finishing a project. I have had a lot of unfinished projects in my life, I don’t intend on continuing that track record. I have learned that once I set a goal to write an article I can put myself through my routine and finish it. I feel stronger in regard to finishing projects as well.
  3. I am a prolific writer: My friend told me this–and now writing is something that I’ll add to the things that I want to hone and be excellent at. I’m not afraid to write anymore, and I know that I just need to follow my routine–load my brain with the info I want to write about, and then give myself the time. I now have a chart that I’ve modeled after Cal Newport’s Deep Work instructions, I put a tick for every hour that I spend in deep work for writing, and then I circle the hour that I published the article on. In my last article about the Poly Network Hack on my, I have 7 tick marks for the seven hours I spent on it, with the seventh circled. That article took me considerably longer than most of my NFTM articles.
  4. I’m getting there: I don’t think this is the end of my writing. This is just the start. My next goal is to write 25 articles about cryptocurrencies and the cryptography industry. I already have one article. To produce these articles I’m teaming up with my business partner to answer questions in this area. If you have a question about Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, or any of the others, send it to me and I’ll see if I can add it to my list of questions.

That’s all I have for you for today. I’m calling it. Here’s #25, dedicated to you, my inner circle. Thank you for all the comments and compliments over the last couple of months. I’d love to hear from more of you. Let me know if one of the ideas I have written sparked something in you–no matter how small. I really do enjoy hearing from those of you who have connected with me, called me, or just sent me a short text. They help me know that I’m doing something productive. Thank you!

I love you all! Have a great week! I’ll still be writing these along with my crypto articles. Wish me luck. I’ll post another review when I hit #50.

Featured Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #24: You’re a genius!

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”

Abraham Lincoln

Serendipity is an interesting phenomenon–as is Synchronicity. Both are tools I’ve used to create explanations for the unique events in my life. Today is the day that I bring together a lot of ideas I’ve had in the past about God, about the “super-conscious mind”, intuition, and simple ideas that come to me when I’m out and about in the world. As creators, we are looking for ways to double our brainpower, to increase our creative capacity, to unlock our creative genius–didn’t Einstien say something about genius in all of us? Actually, he didn’t. Let’s not get too far from the task here, creativity is simply a way of making improvements.

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Not written or said by Einstien

A “genius” is someone who trusts and believes in the values of their insights. We do not. We believe this because it comes from us, and haha, we aren’t geniuses right? [WRONG]

Let’s add genius to the pile of words I’m thinking about when I think about what so many people who we think of as genius did just that. They trusted their insights and expressed them with creativity.

In the last seven days, I’ve been reading the book, Deep Work, by Cal Newport. I’ve listened to a Master Class by Joyce Carol Oates on short stories, I’ve spoken with a Mormon Bishop about religion and God, I’ve listened to my productivity coach about removing distractions. I’ve chatted with a chemist working for a large international company about making small improvements to large product lines. Between all of this, I could hear one idea–one major theme to all of these discussions and instructions, and it keeps coming up–as it did during 4am-8am this morning.

We have to quiet our minds and listen to that voice gives us insight. Creativity doesn’t come from inspiration or perspiration–it comes from preparation.

When we engage our creativity like a muscle and understand how it works, that creativity inside of us is amplified, and we can reach far beyond our own experiences and our knowledge.

Did you ever have an idea come to you about how to do something better than it’s being done now, completely out of your area of expertise? Then, days, months, or years later, you come across a product that you invented all those years back? I used to think it was we were deeply in-tune with the consumer market–so we’d get glimmers of insight and see ideas that others were thinking. I don’t believe that anymore–I know it’s me tapping into my creativity. Large companies use the creativity of small companies and people to make improvements and innovations, and most importantly–to make them scalable and bring them to market. They make millions off of the little ideas that come to us when we are “tapped in.”

Where do these thoughts, and specifically creativity come from then?

The psychiatrist, Richard Bucke, wrote a book called, “Cosmic Consciousness”, where he believed we could tap into a higher form of consciousness. This isn’t a new idea, and while I struggle to find the exact reference, I recall reading a book called “The Mind Map Book” by Tony Buzan, where he asks his readers to remember the answer when have a problem we are trying to solve, rather than trying to figure it out from scratch. He wrote that if we try to remember the answers to our toughest problems, we engage a part of our mind that is tapped into the universal “maker mind” that is connected to all the intelligence in the past. Ralph Waldo Emerson believed we were all a part of a universal ether of creativity that was flowing all around us.

There is a great deal that we can learn by listening to ourselves, and more importantly, putting ourselves in positions where we can think about things deeply, catalog our ideas, and emerge with real insight and wisdom because of that work. It’s energy flying around us in the atmosphere, our thoughts are energy–BOOM–think about that a little.

Look at many of the great authors like Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, John Milton, Emily Dickenson, and you’ll find stories of individuals who knew how to isolate themselves and their minds to produce poetry, stories, and written memories that have captivated and instructed millions of people after they went “deep.” The Hungarian psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, came up with the flow theory in psychology in 1975, but people were getting into “flow” way before that time, and are continually doing it today. These people understood that going deep, removing distractions, and above all, believing in the value and validity of their insights.

Mozart composed his music by hearing, imagining, seeing, entire orchestras of instruments–he could focus his mind on each note, and would write his music, note perfect from the beginning. Beethoven also attested to being able to hear the entire piece of music and would simply transcribe the music, note for note, but only after he became completely deaf–he introduced sounds at frequencies he couldn’t hear or write when he was younger and could hear.

Mr. Michael Faraday, inventor of benzene, electrolysis, and electromagnetic induction, did not come from an educated family or background, his father was a blacksmith. His ability to tap into a super-conscious is clear–without any formal education he was able to create the first electric generator and was able to come up with complicated chemical formulas–just by thinking about them and in some cases, dreaming about them. My fellow scientists know Michael Faraday is the father of electricity and in 1991, the Queen of England decided that he should be honored amongst the other great Britons. The Bank of England and put his face on the £20 bill, just like other famous British citizens like Shakespeare, Newton, and Florence Nightengale.

Creativity is our natural birthright. You are truly a creative genius. We can access this through a number of ways, and since I love lists, let’s do that.

Dan’s 3 Methods for Engaging Creativity

  1. Divergent Thinking. Children are the best divergent thinkers, they are also incredibly creative. They are tapped in all the time. It makes me think of the kid who saw a truck stuck under an overpass. A large truck had tried to get under an overpass only to find out that it was too tall, too late. The truck got jammed. This of course caused a huge traffic jam. Other trucks were called in to pull the truck out, and couldn’t–it was a mess. Finally, a small child stuck in the traffic jam with her family stepped out of her car and looked at the scene. She then asked a nearby policeman, “why don’t you let air out of the tires of that truck?”, the policeman looked around, walked over, and minutes later that’s exactly what they did. We all have the ability to do this, we just have to look at the challenge in front of us differently sometimes to see the solution. Why can’t we just let some air out sometimes? We can.
  2. Deep Work–Concentration. We can also do what the authors that build writing cabins do. We can isolate ourselves like monks, and hide from emails, calls, texts. I’m doing that right now! But we can engage our creativity by blocking off large amounts of time to complete a task–and doing it. My mentor calls these 90 minute blocks, “Jam Sessions.” His formula is simple. 90 minutes on, 90 minutes off… Rinse and Repeat.
  3. The Systematic Approach. I like to solve problems with creativity–systematically. Using a system helps me reduce tension and the stress of coming up with a solution. When we are doing creative work, being relaxed is critical. Being relaxed first helps positivity come in: that’s when I can look for the good in a problem or issue, the funny part, the lesson I’m learning in the challenge I’m facing. Then I can apply a system. The three systems that I’ve identified are:
    1. Focused Questions. By asking myself, “What are you trying to do?”, “How are you trying to do it?”, “What are your assumptions?”, “What would be the opposite of what I’m doing?” Using questions to get to answers is one of the best systems for uncovering the ideas we need to solve problems. Zero-based thinking forces us to question our assumptions, and to test our ideas with how we’d do it differently. Come up with a series of questions and answer those questions–again, listening to yourself and finding the answers within.
    2. Identify intensely desired goals with clarity. Imagine if you had access to the most powerful computer, with the most intelligent team of programmers. Anything you could think of, they could create a program to do that thing. The only challenge here is that you clearly define what it is you want them to make. If you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter how much power you have at your disposal. If you’re stuck in a place like this, add clarity to your problem by putting it to yourself in a form of a question. Write out the answer to this question: “What am I trying to achieve, avoid, or preserve?” Then write 19 more of them. Take a step back, and look over the twenty questions. Brian Tracy calls this, “Mind-Storming.”
    3. Times of intense pressure to produce. There are also times that creative thinking can be engaged during extreme stress or unusual circumstances. We can also put ourselves under these conditions by adding tough deadlines, or by creating goals that are “do or die.”

Tap into the Creative Genius in All of Us

As long as there are unmet needs that people have, or, human problems that are unsolved–there will always be an opportunity for us to innovate and improve. We just have to decide to identify it and engage it with our creativity.

Creativity begins with us, it’s us looking to continually make things better, faster, cheaper, more useful–it’s the never ending drive to improve things. When we are prepared, creativity favors us–we can tap in. I’m always looking for ways to make my life and other people’s lives better, I’m continually looking for ways to give them what they want. When I fail, I see it as a lesson now in a bigger picture; I cherish my mistakes and try to squeeze every bit of insight out of it. My mistakes are my lessons.

You are a genius when you trust your intuition and give full attention to that “inner voice.”

Have a great day all! I love you! Be creative!


Notes from this Morning #23: Universal Laws.

“The comfort zone is a place that never grows anything.” Author Unknown.

As I dig deeper into my vulnerabilities and try to understand the technical aspects of being happy (or figuring out the physical things I need to do to be happy.) I’ve come to realize that happiness isn’t just emotional, it’s also deeply spiritual.

Spirituality in my life was tainted by how I saw religion as a child. Growing up in a home where Christianity wasn’t a choice, but rather a requirement for acceptance and survival; I only saw the flaws in religion. I saw hypocrisy, fakeness, and a country club for the white suburban members of my church who looked at me and my adopted siblings as a charity project; and for my parents, a solution to infertility. I felt like I was a human band-aid for the miscarriages that my adopted mother suffered more than six times in her younger life.

I deeply questioned religion, I questioned my own spirituality, I despised it for a long time. The questions I had about religion, combined with my immaturity about viewing it, left my questions unanswered for many years. I turned my own spirit and spirituality into the scapegoat, and I neglected this key area of my life. In areas that I had weak or no philosophies to guide me, I struggled. I found myself on a quest to do things without spirituality, even while believing in the human spirit. I simply didn’t think this contradiction was something that I needed to resolve, so I didn’t. I was living a life without leveraging one of the greatest powers in the universe. I had made the unyielding power of the human spirit my enemy, hiding from it whenever I could.

There is a concept called prima mobilia, or the first cause, the primary reason that we do things. This first cause is driven by our self-mastery, our self-control, or self-discipline. With this concept, I’m learning now that I can undo things in my life. With self-discipline, I can approach my blind spots with true love, respect, and a self-compassion that I haven’t been able to do in the past. It’s not easy, but let’s look at the work I’ve compiled to help me understand how to take control of my life.

The Universal Law of Control: you feel good about yourself to the degree to which you feel you are in control of your own life.

Brian Tracy

Being adopted was something that I used as a roadblock to lots of things in my life. I used my abandonment to absolve and excuse the problems I created in my world. I used it as a conversation ender when things got too close to the heart of the matter. I didn’t see stress as a lack of control in my life, I saw stress as an enemy, something to avoid, a side effect of the effects of the world on me. When confronted with a problem I didn’t want to take responsibility for, I would tell myself well, “That’s just the way I am because of my abandonment”, or I’d use it in other ways to neglect my personal responsibility for things. I was out of control, and that made me unhappy and stressed.

I’ve been working now to change my perspective from an External Locus of Control to an Internal one. Today, I accept that I am where, and what I am is because that’s what I’ve decided to become. As I have mentioned in past articles, I am in command now of the USS Dan Oostra, and it’s made me a much better person because of it.

Law of Belief

True happiness and satisfaction, built on self-discipline and mastery, come from new laws I’ve adopted. I use these laws to help tell me what happens or fails to happen for me. I see some laws as being general and universal, like the law of cause and effect. But there are other laws that are specific to single areas of activity in my life, like money and wealth creation.

The law of belief is something that I’ve known about for a long time, but I didn’t put it into the words that I needed to really understand. We don’t believe the things we see, rather, we see the things we believe. Our beliefs have an inordinate impact on our lives and thinking. Our beliefs form the master program to the computer that we use in our subconscious minds. We can rarely do more than we think or believe that we can–so, in order to change our lives, we must believe that we can. I know that from reflection on my past, that I rarely exceeded my deeply held convictions concerning my own capabilities.

Law of Reversibility

By taking actions consistent with the beliefs you have about yourself, the actions themselves have a back-flow effect that causes you to believe in that way. This is a core principle to self-fulfillment.

Law of Expectation

Whatever you expect, with confidence, becomes your own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Law of Correspondence

Your outer world tends to become a reflection, a mirror image of your inner world.

There’s a lot here to unpack and for the rest of this morning, I have more work to do. The last thought I want to leave with is that what I believe about myself and my character. Character is fluid, and we can change our character with careful choices, practice, and self-mastery. I am working on becoming a change master. I challenge you to do the same. I want to be an expert at change, I want to grow from change, I realize now that all progress comes from change. I absolutely believe that better things are possible for all of us when we tenaciously hold to the beliefs that power our goals and dreams.

Have a great day today! I love you! You are amazing, you are the best.

Featured Photo by Halacious on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #22: Finding happiness in a flawed world.

This morning was tough. There were a lot of thoughts I had, and I am surprised even now that I’m standing here in my office here writing today. Thanks to my routine, I’m here. But I didn’t want to write. I wanted to go to war. There are so many things wrong with the world today and so many things to feel bad about; finding happiness seems like an impossible task. I wanted to go to war against the unseen dilemmas, the esoteric reasons that we are unhappy. But, I know that war is something we must all decide on fighting, internally, and only if we choose to do so. I’m not sure the Great Society is truly ready to embrace all that is necessary for each one of its members to find true happiness. I’ll leave the details about exactly why I think that for a later article at a later time.

I used to think that I had happiness figured out. I even wrote about it last year in an article that focused on gratitude and purpose as being the main catalysts to happiness. I don’t think the same way today. I agree that gratitude and living with purpose can be a path that leads to happiness, and I’ve experienced many happy days recently and in the past because of my dedication to gratitude and staying productive. But here comes the but. Happiness isn’t just being grateful–it’s not a natural state of being that we find via some sort of cosmic equilibrium. Happiness is diverse and different to each of us personally. It truly is a choice.

Do this experiment next time you’re at a large community picnic, a buffet, or a smorgasbord. Someplace where there are lots of different dishes that people can choose from. If you stand by the plates at the end of the line, you won’t find two plates that have the same colors, foods, or proportions. This simple display of human choice is a testament to the diversity that we all share. We all love different things in different amounts.

Today, I spent some time thinking and reading about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Something I haven’t looked at since I took the mandatory Intro to Psychology course at university years ago. It didn’t mean as much to me as it does today, especially since a large portion of my time now has been focused on working on what Maslow called “growth needs.” It’s notable to mention that this pyramid model below wasn’t found in his original work that was published in the 1950s, and there are alternate visual models that might more accurately describe his work, and also how even he made changes to the model later in life to better define the top layers of the pyramid.

Look at this model. It shows an alternate presentation of how as we develop as humans, our needs and values change in relation to our happiness.

Let’s look at these things in a different way. I want to rewrite Maslow’s ideas into something a bit more ingestable for us and to define a way that we can diagnose and even help us define what we need in our lives to find happiness and fulfillment.

Dan’s New Recipe for Happiness: Sacred Ingredients

  1. Peace of Mind. This covers things like physiological needs, our personal safety, and survival. COVID has really impacted this for a lot of us. But let’s not put our finger on one issue; personally, my piece of mind is greatly affected by issues surrounding racism that are still pervasive and incredibly painful. Just a couple of weeks ago, my son experienced racism in a place where you wouldn’t expect it; I won’t go into the details here because that’s not the point. The point is that our peace of mind can’t be defined by others no matter how hard we try. We get peace of mind based on what we need, by what we put on our plates when we walk through the smorgasbord of life.
  2. Health and Energy. Being physically healthy is important–this is also something that I’ve been spending a lot of time on. Feeling good, having a good diet, proper levels of exercise, enough rest, and above all, a proper attitude are all critical to happiness and living well. Interestingly, I had to make changes to all of these things to get where I am today. The cliche is true in this area of our lives; without our health, we have nothing.
  3. Loving Relationships. This area is especially important to me. Being adopted and abandoned as a child really hurt and impacted my ability to engage in healthy relationships for a long time in my life. I was lucky to find a wife and a family that loves and accepts me for who I am. My wife taught me a great deal about not just having loving relationships but also healthy, thoughtful, and complete relationships. Losing the most important relationship with my natural family has shown me the true value and benefits of having strong, loving relationships in my life. My inner circle of friends has also taught me to trust them and to help them when needed. Without loving relationships and interaction with others, happiness is and was impossible for me.
  4. Financial Freedom. I used to think that financial freedom was making a six-figure income. After achieving that goal in my life, I found that financial freedom isn’t about having a number–each of us will come up with a different number as we grow older. Financial Freedom for me is now about having enough money to protect my family, my friends, and my interests. It’s about not having strings attached to my income and assets. When we have enough money, we barely think about it. But when we don’t have enough, it might be the only thing we can think about. Money is strange that way. What I appreciate about money is that when I practice proper stewardship, accountability, and responsibility with how I use my money–I always seem to have enough. I trust that God, or whoever is out there (for you atheists), has my back in this regard; I don’t worry about not having enough anymore; I trust. I’ve always had enough money, sometimes I didn’t know it, and I wanted more, but I’ve never been hungry–haven’t paid my bills or wanted for much. I’m grateful for what has been given to me.
  5. Worthy Goals and Ideals. This is something that took me a long time to figure out. It’s a key piece of the happiness puzzle. I didn’t realize until listening to my mentors and coaches that there are a lot of people who operate without specific goals–or at least not worthy ones. I’m not judging anyone here except myself. Some of us just don’t know or haven’t spent the time to figure it out. Now, today, I don’t have goals that are casually defined like, “I just want to get by.” A large portion of my time recently has been spent figuring out what is worthy to me and getting those on my “dinner plate” and in my life. I have spent a great deal of time and energy retooling my philosophies and ideals to make sure that I know specifically what I want and what I believe in. For me, helping my son live well and to design his life in accordance with philosophies that resonant with him is my number one goal. If you find yourself in a rut or extremely unhappy, you might want to check out your goals and your philosophies.
  6. Self-knowledge and Self-Understanding. Knowing oneself has been a maxim that has truly lasted the test of time. Most of us attribute the saying to Socrates of Athens, who wrote about it in the late fifth century BCE. Even earlier, though Heraclitus of Ephesus wrote about this concept earlier in the fifth century. Both men were referring to “Know yourself” (Gnôthi sauton), which was inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi – arguably the most important Panhellenic sanctuary – and thus somehow represented a core Greek value. This idea predates both men and therefore has been something people have considered for literally thousands of years. Getting to know yourself requires an in-depth study of truth. It requires personal integrity and acknowledging that we have blind spots and areas that we need to work on. Specifically for me, this area has been particularly hard because I don’t know my natural parents, but after careful and constant reflection and study, I’ve learned more about myself and my emotions. I’ve worked to educate my feelings and create an identity that I can relate to and accept. I know myself better today, and my relationships and life are better because of it.
  7. Self-Fulfillment. “What is it we are questing for? It is the fulfillment of that which is potential in each of us. Questing for it is not an ego trip; it is an adventure to bring into fulfillment your gift to the world, which is yourself. There is nothing you can do that’s more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way, you will find, live, become a realization of your own personal myth.― Joseph Campbell. I believe that self-fulfillment is something that we have to seek inside of ourselves, and I love the quote by Theodore Roosevelt where he makes it our personal responsibility to demand it, and with that, I’ll end this list of ingredients.

“The joy in life is his who has the heart to demand it.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Wow, I made it. I had to actually go back to the beginning of this article to remember what I named it. I’m not sure if it fits anymore, but at the moment, it’s the best I can come up with. I hope that there is something in this that helps you. I feel better, and I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe it’s the act of writing that helps me release and channel some of the discomforts that I felt earlier today. In any case, I hope that you have a great day!

Let’s saddle up and get busy. You are amazing people out there. Thank you for all the good energy you’ve shared with me since I’ve started publishing these notes! I appreciate all the love I’ve gotten back. I love you people. You are the best.

Featured Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #21: You might not be a lion, but I can tame you the same way.

This morning I came across an interesting question. How is it that lion trainers can use things like chairs to tame the lions in their shows? Let’s look at this picture of Clyde Beatty, in his Jungle Zoo in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in the 1940s. Notice what Clyde has in his hand, a chair. He also has a whip, a gun on his belt, and some kind of crop in his right hand. But there are NINE big cats in the cage with him. They could easily overtake Mr. Beatty. This leads me to my point–We’re a lot like those lions in the cage, why?

By Unknown author –, Public Domain,

We are just like the lion in one very specific way. We can only handle one threat at a time. When we are faced with multiple choices (or threats), we immediately get the lion syndrome. Too many choices create paralysis in our lives. When we stick a chair in a lion’s face, all the lion sees are 4 threats or legs on the chair. He also sees the whip, the gun, the man… and instantly, the lion is overwhelmed and doesn’t do anything other than submit. The lion trainer simply adds too many choices for the lion to deal with.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my “super-power” lately. Thinking about what I need to create to become the person I’m aspiring to become. What that has done is opened up a lot of ideas about what can be created. Not only have I been thinking about creating products, but I’ve also been thinking about creating friendships, creating good feelings, creating other things that aren’t necessarily tangible like a product. What I’ve come to know is that as a creator, I need to start by creating a plan, a schedule, a system to deal with all the “threats” or choices that I have every day that might create the lion’s syndrome. Then I can get onward to doing the things I need to do.

The advice I found is from Rita Mae Brown. Pennsylvania native, civil-rights activist, author, and orphan–born to a teenage mother and abandoned in the mid-1940s. She’s in her 70s now and lives in Hanover, PA.

“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.”

Rita Mae Brown

I have to move from reacting to creating. I have to focus on my agenda and my goals, not responding to someone else’s. Here’s the advice in action steps.

  1. Never walk into your day with an empty calendar.
  2. Never begin your day unless it’s already finished on PAPER.

To help me achieve the most important things in my life, I have to start limiting my decisions and simplifying things so that I’m not overwhelmed with choices that create paralysis and pain and ultimately keeps me from achieving my long-term goals. This starts with a healthy and large dose of PREPARATION. I am going to start adding a task at the end of my day, and that’s to identify what I need to get done the next day FIRST. What’s the most important priority that needs to get attention to, tomorrow? If I end my day with this knowledge, then I can start my day with the thing I know I need to get done first. That complete, I can go on dealing with lower priority tasks.

Jim Collins, the author of “From Good to Great”, wrote that “if you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” What this tells us is that if we feel like we don’t have enough time in our day, we haven’t clearly defined our priorities.

I love a list of steps to follow when trying to change a habit or add a behavior. So today I have this one for you.

Dan’s 5-Steps for CREATING a preparation plan for the day.

  1. Plan your day the night before. This doesn’t have to be hours and hours of thought, I’m going for 10 minutes of reflection time on the day and a little forethought to the next day. What didn’t I get done that I absolutely need to get done tomorrow? Write this down on a post-it and put it on your computer screen when you walk away.
  2. Review your big three goals.
  3. Decide on your three MOST VITAL PRIORITIES.
  4. Block time tomorrow to accomplish them. If they take more than a day, then do one at a time. The idea is to create space in your calendar to do the big things. I’ve realized when I look back at my work calendars, I scheduled a thousand little things like doctor’s appointments, reoccurring meetings–but I have very few large blocks of time for just doing the most important things. Honestly, I look at my past weeks and see very few important meetings or 90-minute blocks of time to solve the most important, pressing matters I had at the time… and now, I don’t even remember what they were during those days.
  5. The step is the first step for the next day. Identify the hardest to accomplish priority and do that first. Don’t do the fun easy stuff first, do that stuff after you’ve tackled what you know you need to get done. Remember that lesson from last week about being intelligent–we have to do things that move us closer to our goals. Now we just have to schedule them to be the first thing that we do.

Just to hammer in this concept. Let’s look at Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs. These guys are and were masters at focusing on the most important things, and simplifying priorities down to the areas that would bring them the most success.

Warren’s 3 Steps to Billions

  1. Write down all of your priorities. (Warren does this on a legal pad… nothing special)
  2. Narrow it down to three, just circle the three most important.
  3. Throw away the rest of the list.

The power lies in step three. Getting rid of the other chair legs that are creating paralysis in our action. The huge list of priorities turns us into a tame, submissive lion. We have to power-work, deep-work, and get working the hardest on ONE BIG THING AT A TIME.

Steve Jobs was truly a master at being able to focus on one big thing. Let’s quickly look at Apple. Apple almost went out of business before Steve came on as CEO. Steve took a nearly broke company in the early 2000s and turned it into the most valuable brand in the world. Think about that. Think about that and how many products that Apple has produced in the last 20 years. Really, when we look at the new products that Apple released when Steve came online with the iPod in 2001, it was the first new product that they offered for years. Sure they were making computers, but Steve decided to focus on one area, and then he stayed focused on the iPod until the first iPhone was released in 2007. That’s six years. During that time, Samsung, LG, Motorola came up with hundreds of new products. It took the team at Apple another three years to release the first iPad in 2010. Did you know that today, Apple has some of the most valuable retail spaces in the world with its shops, with just a handful of products? That was because of Steve’s unyielding dedication to focusing on the ONE BIG THING. When he took over at Pixar what did he do? He tossed the playbook that most movie studios use to create dozens of movies a year and released one movie per year. That’s it. He believed that by removing the additional distractions and getting the creative team to focus on one movie they could create some of the best movies. Today, Pixar is the fourth largest and most successful movie production company in the world and it creates truly great movies.

I hope I’ve made my point. It’s now time for us to get to work simplifying our days so that we can get the most from them. We have to reduce the distractions and choices in our day so we aren’t paralyzed like the lion, and forced to submit because we can’t handle all the threats. We have to make a clear plan to get the most important things done in our lives.

Have a great week! Love you! We are winning. You’re the best.

Featured Photo by Mike Holford on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #20: Intelligence isn’t IQ. Do you know what self-confidence means?

What you do by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Henry David Thoreau

There are times in my life where I’ve felt more confident than others. When I reflect back at those times, I realize that my self-confidence correlates closely to my external activities. When I’m out in the world doing things like climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, swimming in the ocean, doing conference talks, teaching, traveling–my self-confidence soars. That might be one reason that we all might be feeling down lately, I know I feel a little down. We’ve been cooped up at home, our jobs have changed, sometimes it feels like everything has changed. But, I have to remember that things are always changing, I should just get used to it and focus on what I can do–there will always be updates, new editions, new challenges. I wouldn’t have it any other way ٩(*•͈ ꇴ •͈*)و ̑̑❀!

Let’s get to work. This morning I spent my time examining another area that I need to strengthen. Self-confidence.

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough, you will.

Stephen King

With the proper amount of self-confidence, you will try almost anything. Your chances of success improve exponentially based on the number of ways you try to accomplish something. I can’t tell you the number of times in my life that I’ve tried to do something, failed, and then never tried it again. I didn’t try again because I wasn’t self-confident enough. Why? Well, it’s because I didn’t remember that the more times I try to achieve a goal, the probability goes up–I wasn’t confident. I didn’t reflect on the good things that happened during that experience, and I focused only on the failure. Let’s fix this.

How do we infuse our lives with self-confidence?

Brian Tracy, a professional development coach and one of the people I started listening to over twenty years ago–has developed a simple plan to increase our self-confidence. He calls it the 4-Ds to being more self-confident.

Brian Tracy’s 4-Ds to Becoming more Self-Confident

  1. Desire. We must have a burning, relentless desire to become more self-confident. We have to have the desire to overcome the fears in our life, the past failures, the let-downs, and mistakes that have ultimately hurt our self-confidence. We have to not just think about this, we have to have the emotion in our hearts to FEEL the desire to make ourselves more self-confident.
  2. Decision. After we’ve felt the desire to be more confident in our lives, we have to make the decision to increase self-confidence in our lives at any cost. We have to make the decision a do or die proposition. We have to decide to go to work on ourselves and not stop working until we’ve achieved the BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) in our life.
  3. Determination. Once the decision has been made. DO IT. It’s now our job to use the determination we have to stick to the plan. Our determination to build our self-confidence must be unshakeable. Once we have decided, our internal gyro systems will take over if we are determined, we will hone in on the target. We will begin to change our thinking into believing in ourselves.
  4. Discipline. Self-discipline is making ourselves do something whether we feel like it or not. There are many ways to build the self-discipline we need to build our confidence. If we have the desire, made the decision, and we have committed ourselves with resolve and unshakeable determination, we will have all that we need to create the discipline necessary for creating self-confidence. We will find the habits that we need to change ourselves to specifically create self-confidence within ourselves.

Self-confidence comes from knowing and not thinking we are confident. It’s only when we have a firm conviction and belief in our abilities, based on experience, that we can know that our self-confidence is not an act.

Every act of self-confidence builds our self-confidence. Every mental exercise that we do to increase our confidence builds our self-confidence, every time we learn from other self-confident people, we build our self-confidence.

I realize now that I’ve been working on my self-confidence all this time. When I go to work on myself, specifically in the areas of personal integrity, delegation skills, management, my personality, dealing with my personal issues as an adopted Korean-American, my anger issues, I’m really working on my confidence levels in these areas. I’m seeing benefits in more than just my self-confidence though. My self-image is better, my self-esteem is better. When I realize and see these things in my life. I become more self-confident. My outlook on life is more positive because I am becoming a better person with every minute that I make the right choices for myself and my family.

There was a Gallup Poll/Study done in the 80s (I’m trying to find the exact reference) that asked some of the most influential people in the 80s how they became to be the most well respected and well known. These questions were asked of Nobel Prize winners, university presidents, and the most successful business people at that time. Gallup produced a study about the five qualities these people believed were key to their self-confidence and success.

  1. Common Sense. Common sense was at the top of the list of qualities. Common sense is the ability to cut to the core of an issue. It’s learning from our experiences. Aristotle believed that wisdom is common sense, and that wisdom was developed through our experiences and REFLECTION on them. Most people, including myself, do not reflect properly on our experiences. A lot of times we focus on the failure of our experience. Instead, what we should do is focus on the positive things after we’ve experienced something. Try this next time when you have an important experience (like a call with your boss, or client). Get out a piece of paper and write down the answers to these two questions:
    1. What did I do right? and, What would I do differently?
    2. When we do this, we immediately dwell on the positive aspects of the experience. We give ourselves a much higher chance of getting better and at a much higher rate. Proper reflection on our experiences builds our self-confidence because it contributes to our common sense and wisdom to handle our lives better.
  2. Expertise. The second quality was simple to understand. The most successful people had the greatest levels of self-confidence because they knew what they were doing. We have to know we are good at something to really feel confident about doing something.
  3. Self-Reliance. Being able to look to yourself and being able to harness the creative forces inside of you to solve problems is the third quality that is found in the most successful and self-confident. Being self-responsible for building your confidence, looking inside yourself to break down the internal barriers is critical in getting past the external barriers of our lives. We are the primary source of creating self-confidence in our lives.
  4. Intelligence. Here’s where the title of the article comes from. I wanted to challenge your egos to figure out if you’re intelligent or not! This was the fourth quality. I don’t think that the people in the study meant IQ. If we dig deeper into the data of their lives, many didn’t finish college or get good grades, or any grades for that matter. Book smarts are not the focus of what we are dealing with here. Intelligence is a way of acting. Either we “act smart” or we, “act stupid”. As Forest Gump’s mom said, “stupid is what stupid does.” Mic drop. It’s so true. When we act in a way that moves us closer to our goals, we are being intelligent. When we act in ways that move us further from our goals, we are being unintelligent. See that wasn’t so bad. Every time we act in a way to build our self-confidence, we are being smart about it and we are on the path to greater self-confidence.
  5. Result Orientation. This was the fifth quality. Result orientation is being able to know you can get the job done. You have to have a “take action” mindset and a strong sense of urgency to get things done. You have to have a plan for building your self-confidence just like you achieve other things in your life.

My plan is to dedicate myself to becoming more self-confident and getting a little better at this every day. I know that every time I go the extra mile on something or someone, every time I do more for others–I become more self-confident. My dedication to continuous growth is the plan for building self-confidence in every aspect of my life. I now have daily experiences handling challenges with the new philosophies I’ve installed in my operating system, and those experiences are getting handled better and easier. I can feel it and see it.

The more we learn, the more we can learn. If we stay true to building our confidence, we will like and respect ourselves more, we will be more positive and be able to create the things we want in our lives more easily. This is the promise. And when it comes to self-confidence, paying the price instantly gives us the promise of more confidence. It’s an amazing thing; aren’t we amazing? Dang right we are!

You are the best. I love you! See what you’re becoming! Be the best at what you’re doing. Choose excellence today. Be the exception.

Featured Photo by Daniel Minárik on Unsplash

Notes from this morning #19: Delectation comes from delegation and deletion.

“People often end up being busy on the wrong things — so they feel they’re being productive, but it isn’t getting them anywhere. Richard was a master at being productive only on the things that pushed Virgin forward.”

Penni Pike, Sir Richard Branson’s assistant for more than 30 years.

Let’s just cut to the chase here. Not being able to delegate isn’t just a problem. It’s a whole philosophy that I need to change. There is so much anxiety wrapped up in the idea of letting others do things that I believe I can do better, or faster–I’ve convinced myself of many things. I am so twisted on this concept that I need to immediately change my thought process on it. I need help immediately.

I’ve already started to buy books on the art of delegation and I’m going to get started on them. That’s the basic level. The next thing I did this morning that I went to my mentor and asked him to teach me about delegation. He’s already told me that it was one of his weaknesses and was gracious enough to spend 35 minutes to share all he knows about delegation. I’m going to share that here.

The first thing I learned is the reason why I won’t delegate. The main reason for me is not only am I good at doing a lot of things; I also feel like delegation is sometimes passing off work and appearing to be lazy. I had this idea that it’s somehow noble or honorable to suffer through crappy tasks, but this is just plain wrong. It’s broken thinking. It’s not seeing the whole picture. I’ll cover this more in the second point below.

Delegation is not abdication. I can’t just pass off a job and not expect to have to do some upfront investment of my time to make sure the job is done right. Successful delegation lies within me, not within the person I delegate the task to.

Five key points to being a world-class delegator

  1. Invest the time now to get more time later. Set aside time specifically for the act of delegating. Delegation has to be planned and executed when we are calm and thinking clearly. Even though you might be able to do it faster now, what about when this task comes up again later? We have to change our thinking to understand and commit to the fact that delegation requires an upfront investment of our time. We have to hand the baton off along with details.
    1. The results of successful and effective delegation are can empower you and the rewards are unlimited.
    2. You’ll get more time back in the future.
    3. Be patient, remember the rewards that we will get when we get delegation right.
  2. Find the right person. This can help specifically with the “passing off a task to someone else” hang-up that I have used in the past to justify not delegating. There is someone out there that loves to do the things we don’t like to do. Hate doing spreadsheets? I know a guy that loves doing them so much, that’s basically all he does, he’s a master at this. I on the other hand — I can’t stand it. But I hated asking him to do them for me because I thought that he would resent me for it. RIDICULOUS. Find the people who play at the things you think are work. Here’s the hard part for me, once you’ve found this person… TRUST them to do it. Make sure you do the upfront work to explain WHY they are doing the task, why it’s important to you, what your values are in the task. Once you’ve explained and trained them and given them your expectations–let them be the superstar they are at that task you once wallowed through.
  3. Clearly define the goal and the why. We touched on this in the last step, but I want to single it out. The act of delegation is that we are really fostering autonomy. Without clearly defining the goals of the tasks we are delegating no one will know why they are doing it. And if they aren’t clear, it’s likely that we won’t be satisfied with the results. Sometimes we will have to train skills to get to the level of absolute autonomy–but again. Remember that we have to pay the price the get the promise. We have to do the work first, then we can reap the rewards of gaining more time back.
  4. Explain how success is measured and provide clear check-in points and deadlines. I love this quote from Andrew Carnegie. It really gets to exactly how to have expectations set and a clear routine.
    1. “What I do is get good men and I never give them orders. My directions do not go beyond suggestions. Here in the morning, I get reports from them. Within an hour I have disposed of everything, sent out all my suggestions, and the day’s work is done. Now I am ready to go out and enjoy myself.”
    2. Delegate the objective, not the procedure. The other thing from this quote is that Andrew didn’t give orders, he gave suggestions. We have to focus on results, not perfection. Let the people we’ve tasked do the things they need to do their way.
    3. Inspect what you expect. Make sure that your deadlines are clear and that you are reviewing the reports that you’re asking for–pay close attention to the details and add clarity whenever necessary.
  5. Provide the equipment and let them fly. This is the scariest and best part. Once you’ve made sure the person you’re tasking has all the tools and all the information that you feel they need to accomplish the task. Ask them if they think they can accomplish it and let them do it. Get out of the way and go out and enjoy yourself. Now you have invested your time into completing a task that you don’t have to worry about again.
    1. Once equipped with all the tools, let your employee soar.
    2. Trust them, but verify that the task is getting done. Make sure you read reports, follow up on check-ins. It’s still your responsibility.

Now, after getting all this–I had a couple of questions. The first question came from the idea that my company is still new and I can’t really afford to hire a huge staff or a bunch of people. This is what Darren (my mentor) told me.

“You’re asking how we bridge the gap. How do we go from that single entrepreneur to the millionaire business owner when it comes to delegating? Follow the advice of Ken Fisher, a Forbes 400 billionaire.

“Look, when you first start a business it’s likely that you are going to have to do everything–sales, customer service, accounting, all the way down to taking out the trash. Your goal is to get enough SALES going so you can quit taking out the trash and hire someone else to do it. Get more sales going, then quit doing the accounting; hire a specialist to do it. Get more sales going and quit doing.

Ken Fisher, Forbes 400 Member

All businesses need cash flow and sales. If you have sales and cash flow you can hire more people. Sales drive everything. Get busy quitting all the little jobs in your job and focus on leading people. Go from everything to nothing. Do this as fast as you can.”

What about people that work for others? What if I’m the lowest man on the totem pole? His answer:

“The hypothetical question, [heheh] okay, well–think about this. You used to manage people. I’d suggest that you go to your boss and figure out exactly why you’re on the payroll, if there are things that you’re doing that don’t contribute directly to the success of the company; try to figure out things that you can have other people in the organization do for you. There are likely going to be people that are below your pay grade, assistants, laborers, or others that can take some of the low-impact tasks you’re doing and do them better than you anyway. Any boss will be delighted to hear you that you are striving to do your job more effectively, and should be happy to assist you with outsourcing the things you might be doing, especially if you become more productive and make the company more money by assigning things to others that are getting paid less than you. It might even be a better tool you need or a piece of software, or maybe they will assign you a helper. You have to be creative and realize that it sometimes takes careful and thoughtful planning and analysis to find things in your workflows that can be outsourced. But, you just can’t say–I can’t delegate things in my position without doing a serious evaluation of what you’re doing. And then asking for help on things so you can be a better employee.”

The last bits of advice I have are these:

  1. Force yourself to delegate. You’ll fight it but just do it. Your success depends on this.
  2. Do it before you’re ready. Don’t be the “too little too late” person. Realize now that if you try to delegate when you’re overwhelmed you’re going to make mistakes. Do the investment, pay the price upfront and now.

Have a great day! Remember to gather from today to make tomorrow easier! Don’t just get through today, TAKE from today. Take from today and apply it to the future. I’m sending out love to you. Be the best.

Featured Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash