15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


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Who Are You To Judge Others?

(So I was hoping to announce our new business launch this week, after failing to launch last week and the week before. Unfortunately our web designer was hospitalized with a staph infection for most of last week, so we still need to iron out some details on the website to make it, you know, functional. In the meantime here is an article on the dangers of judging others)

judgeHow many adages have you heard about not judging people? Point a finger at someone else and you have three pointing right back at you. Glass houses, throwing stones. Judge not lest ye be judged.

First of all, criticizing or condemning someone else is almost always a form of self-aggrandizing. “He did this, which I would never do, so I’m better than he is.” Pointing out another persons faults frankly never particularly endeared me to the critic. It reeks of desperation. It’s like trying to make your own house look better by breaking up all of your neighbor’s furniture.

Second, we almost always judge other people by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions. So even if we do something bad, it’s not so bad in our own eyes. “I only lied to protect your feelings, whereas he lied because he is dishonest.” We can never know what someone else is thinking or feeling, and when we make value judgments about others, then at best we are just guessing as to their intentions. At worst we are just plain lying to ourselves and others.

Third, if you were that person, you would have done the exact same thing. If you had their genetic makeup and their upbringing, then let’s face it, you would have made all the same decisions, hence the expression “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Fourth, we can never see the big picture. We are victims of our own perceptions. Something that may seem like a tragedy may have great unseen rewards. And someone who we deem as evil, reprehensible, untrustworthy, or just plain mean, may from a big picture perspective, be a good, worthy, honorable, nice person in history.

For example, let’s say that we are electing a new world leader. Who would you cast your vote for?

Candidate A.
Associates with crooked politicians, consults with an astrologist, has had two mistresses, chain smokes, and drinks 8 martinis a day.

Candidate B.
Was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C.
Is a decorated war hero, a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife.

So who do you vote for based on your perspective?

hourglass

 

 

 

 

Take your time if you need to think about it…

 

 

 

 

 

Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Candidate B is Winston Churchill.

Candidate C is Adolph Hitler

Think first before judging others.


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How To Acquire Luck

(I was going to introduce our new business launch today, but we are still having some technical problems with our website, so that will have to wait until next week. Instead, I will empower and uplift you with this reprint of an article I wrote for Helium.com many years ago.)

cloverI’ve heard luck described as “the moment when opportunity and preparedness meet.” A lucky break is only lucky if you are in a position to take advantage of it.

As a quick example, a couple of friends of mine were playing basketball at a public park. Two grungy looking men approached them on the court and offered to play a two-on-two game. They agreed and played for about an hour. Afterwards, they told my friends that they were roadies for Metallica who happened to be playing in the next town and offered them tickets and backstage passes to the show.

“Wow, what great luck!” I hear you cry. No, as it turned out, one of my friends had a final the next day and declined the invite. “Whoa, that’s bad luck…”

But wait a minute. The opportunity was the same for both of them. How could it be good luck for one of them and bad luck for the other? That had to do with their preparedness at the time to accept the opportunity. One friend was caught up on his studies, enough that he could take the time out to play a pick-up game. The other procrastinated and figured he could study after he played some ball. Tough luck.

So, the key to acquiring good luck is being prepared. Because after all, when opportunity knocks, it’s too late to build a door. Like Donald Trump said, “The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get.”

So think about an area in your life that you would like to be “lucky” in.

Looking for a promotion? You’d better start now learning some of the ins and outs of the company you work for. And not just your current position, learn about the job requirements and expectations of your manager, the managers of other departments, the corporate mission statement, and the history of your company. Then when a position becomes available, as they inevitably will, you are already a step ahead to fill the position.

Looking for a financial windfall? Start studying finances, stocks, market trends. And more importantly, start socking away a few dollars from every paycheck so that you have some funds to work with. The worse the economy gets, the more everything in the country will go on sale. Vacations, property, automobiles, art. All of it sells for pennies on the dollar if you have cash to bail out the previous owners.

Looking to be the next big music idol? Then you’d better have a demo tape available when that opportunity comes by and Big Wig Record Producer Smith asks you if your band is any good…

If you want a lucky break, then you better have already put in the work. Otherwise through laziness you forfeit your good luck for bad by default.

rabbit“Are you feeling lucky? Would you like to?” (Tweet this)


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Why I’ve Never Eaten At Restaurant X

There is a particular restaurant on Monsarrat avenue in Honolulu that I’ve never eaten at. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, it has gotten excellent reviews, but I still have not eaten there. I have no ill will towards the owners, the employees, the menu. The place is not infested with rodents or ghosts that I know of. “So why haven’t you ever eaten there?” I hear you cry.

Because whenever I am in that neighborhood, which is not that frequently, I eat at this other restaurant down the street:

ImageThis little hole in the wall is the infamous South Shore Grill. I know the owner, Bruce. I have brought many friends there who have become regulars, who have in turn introduced other people to South Shore cuisine. Yes they have good food, yes I am acquainted with the owner (I wouldn’t say we are friends), but what really accounts for my absolute devotion to eating at South Shore Grill as opposed to Restaurant X (as well as many other fine eating establishments nearby)?

Because. One day about 5 or 6 years ago, Bruce stopped to help my mom change a tire on the highway.

Because I want to live in a world where a random act of kindness is repaid back to you. (do you?)

Because I’d like to think that every single person reading this would want to support a business that is owned by a man who would take time out of his busy schedule to help a lady change a tire. (And if you think that you are busy, try opening a restaurant).

And I hope every single person who reads this, shares it. And every person who hears of South Shore Grill, whether they live on Oahu or are just visiting, stops by for lunch.

Next week I’ll be expounding on random acts of kindness and the launch of our new business that has kindness as a commodity.


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The Secret of Steady

ImageExpounding on my comments from last week, the reason slow and steady wins the race is because of steady not because of slow. The only reason that slow is of any value is because it makes steady easier.

For example, I did some math because I’ve started running again recently and have been tracking my workouts using a free app called Runkeeper. My average walking pace is about 3.5 mph while my running (jogging) speed was about 5.8 mph. That’s only about a 67% increase between walking and running (sue me, I’m out of shape).

But the difference is, that after jogging for 20 or 30 minutes I’m tired, sweaty and sore. But 20 or 30 minutes of walking is essentially effortless. I haven’t broken a sweat, I’m not tired and I don’t have to worry about being sore in the morning.

That extra 67% of speed uses up 800% more energy (at this point I’m no longer using data from the app, I’m just making up numbers).

That’s why I’m such a big advocate of small, daily changes.

Small, daily changes that are easy to implement allow you to apply steady growth to your life. (tweet that)

And just like with walking, if you do it every day you would be amazed at how far you can go.

I wrote my first book in 15 minutes a day. I also gave myself the intentional limitation that I would not write for more than 15 minutes. So no one could accuse me of cheating.

When I wrote my second book, I finished a lot quicker because I didn’t handicap myself with a speed limit. Now that I’m on my third book, I realized that I’m way behind schedule. Because I allowed myself to become complacent, allowed myself to believe that I could make up skipped time by going fast. After all, missing four days of work at 15 minutes a day, you can make that up in one hour, right? Or if you fall behind two weeks, you can make that up on your next day off and just concentrate on writing for a full day of work, right?

All the chronic procrastinators know the answer to that…. NO.

We tend to over estimate what we can do quickly (my jogging pace is only 67% faster than my walking pace). We severely under estimate what we can accomplish slowly.

So yesterday, after not looking at my manuscript for a couple of weeks, I planned to use my my day off for a marathon writing session. It worked out about as well as running an actual marathon after a couple weeks of inactivity. I was sluggish, I was confused. I had a hard time making sense out of fragments of thoughts and sentences that I’m sure had a point when I started them a few weeks back.

The bottom line is, I need to once again practice what I teach. I need to get back to my 15 minute habit. Walk every day and run when I can. Stop allowing myself to get out of shape.

Slow, steady growth:

  • Is easy to maintain on a daily basis
  • Keeps your momentum going in the right direction
  • Keeps you limber so you don’t pull a groin muscle

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb


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You Don’t Need To Sprint The Whole Way, But Don’t Stop Walking

Yes, that’s me racing a turtle on a black sand beach. Yes, it is illegal to be that close to a turtle. How do I know this? Because there is a sign posted. Want to know where it’s posted? About ten feet in front of me–facing the water. Which is a dumb place to put that sign because it only warns the tourists as they are LEAVING the beach. Unless the intent was to warn the turtles ahead of time and inform them of their rights.

Everyone is familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race, right? That is not the entire truth. Actually it is steady that wins the race. There is no inherent value in slow.

I’ll defer to another story that I read in elementary school, although I don’t recall the title of the book, but I think it might have been The Great Brain Does It Again.

Kid A was talking smack because his parents bought him a new champion quarter horse. Kid B challenged him to a race with his parent’s broken down nag. Except that Kid B challenged him to a race that was two miles long. For those unfamiliar with the term “quarter horse,” it’s a racing horse that is trained to run short sprints, say… a quarter mile.

Kid A galloped out strong at the start, easily out-pacing Kid B’s old workhorse, but Horse A exhausted itself and eventually stopped despite his owner goading him to keep sprinting. Horse B jogged across the finish line.

Kid B won a lot of money on that race. But being something of a swindler, gave everyone a chance to win their money back the next day. Except this time Kid B agreed to race riding the quarter horse and Kid A could ride the winning nag.

The next day, Kid B won. Because he didn’t race his horse, he paced his horse. Rather than trying to force the champion quarter horse to sprint the entire two miles, he would let him run, then let him rest, let him run, let him rest. He didn’t push the horse past the point of exhaustion. He went at a steady pace and ran in occasional bursts of speed.

That’s my message for you today. In whatever venue you are planning for, whether your finances, your fitness, your relationships or your spiritual walk: Do a little bit every day, but do a lot when you can.

  • If you have never started saving for your retirement, don’t try to sprint by allocating 50% of your salary and 100% of your discretionary spending starting now. You will get exhausted and you will stop.
  • If you’ve been neglecting your spouse or children, don’t try to make it up by sprinting; by devoting every waking hour of your attention on them. It’s a little bit creepy and clingy.
  • If your relationship with God is not where you want it to be, don’t sprint by wearing a hair shirt, then fasting and praying for 48 hours straight. You’ll hallucinate. And itch.
  • If you want to get in shape, don’t start by racing a cheetah.

Stay steady. Don’t exhaust yourself.

The hare would have won if he just walked the entire race. His crime was that he stopped.

Devote a little bit of time and resources every day towards your goals. That’s your walking. And if you occasionally feel like running, then run.

  • Financial walking is setting aside a small percentage of your paycheck towards long term and short term savings (say $100 a month). Running is when you get a Christmas bonus and throw half of it into your portfolio (an instant $500). Notice though that sprinting is no substitute for steady walking.
  • Relationship walking is eating meals with your family, asking about their day, being available to talk. Running is taking them on a vacation! And I think we all know that trying to be Superdad for 1 week out of the year when you haven’t been around for the last 51 weeks is a little pathetic.
  • Walking with God is reading the bible for 15 minutes every day (I used dailybiblereader.com to read the entire bible in one year for about 15 minutes a day). Running with God is going on a missions trip or building orphanages in the Philippines.
  • Walking for fitness is… well, I guess is actually just walking. And when you’ve built up some stamina you can actually do some running.

Small investments compounded over time yield vast rewards (I think I may have written a book on this subject).

Have planned, daily activities that move you forward in some area of your life. That’s your daily walking; your good habits that make every day a growing day. Even just investing 15 minutes a day will result in huge long-term growth with very little effort.

Then every so often, you will have the opportunity to run. And when you do, you won’t pull a groin muscle.


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Do You Believe in Life After Birth?

Bored-people-at-meetingWatch people at work today.

How often do you see someone look at the clock?

How often does someone say “I wish it was time for lunch?” They mentally check out for an hour and virtually fast-forward to their break.

Or maybe they said I wish it was quitting time? They just mentally discard the second half of their day.

If you offered someone the opportunity to fast forward their life to the weekend, would they do it?

If you offered a child the opportunity to fast forward through a month of their life to get to their birthday, would they?

Two months to get to Christmas?

How many people are squandering away their lives by not living now, but living in the future? Cramming 3 or 4 days of joy into every year?

zombieEvery moment spent being bored, every moment spent wishing time would skip ahead, is a moment where you are not really living. You are one of the walking dead. One of those masses of people living a life of quiet desperation that Emerson wrote about.

What’s the solution? How do you breathe life back into your life?

Purpose.

Purpose will add life to your living. (Tweet that)

If you are living your life towards some purpose, you are living for something greater than yourself.

If you have a purpose, you are focused on big thinking and big ideas rather than on tedium and boring details.

If you are striving towards a purpose, than even the most mundane, trivial job becomes a means to finance your purpose.

If you are on purpose, you are no longer drifting aimlessly and instead are focused on achieving or becoming something greater.

With a life of purpose, you no longer have wasted moments. Every moment is moving you towards your life purpose.

If you are bored, if you are weary, if you are just staring at the clock waiting for the drudgery to end; determine a grand and glorious purpose for your life.


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Cleaning House

signHello, folks!

I’m just taking some time to clean up my site, trying to make it look a little cleaner, a little more friendly. I’m trying to find a theme I like, so if anyone has a suggestion please toss it my way.

I’m also not a “tech guy” by any stretch of the imagination, so this may take some time.


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Leaders: Focus on Being Credible Rather Than Incredible

newshoesOne of the first lessons in leadership I remember being taught was “Be an old shoe, old hat kind of person.” Meaning you don’t want to be like a new pair of shoes. Sure, those new shoes may look shiny and blingy, but they begin to rub your feet the wrong way after a while. If you walk for any length of time in those new shoes you get a blister.

Instead, you want to be like that old pair of shoes that are scuffed, and worn, and broken in. They may not be as trendy and fashionable as those new shoes, but they are comfortable. They are practical. You can easily walk a mile in those old shoes.
old shoes
How can you be an “old shoe” kind of person?

Make people feel comfortable. Don’t make people feel like to be around you they have to wear new pants and a new suit and new accessories and eat with the proper fork. Make sure that anyone that you are around can just be themselves; they can relax in their old shoes. Accept people as they are.

Don’t focus on you. Old shoes don’t call attention to themselves. They don’t have to be the center of attention. The best way to exemplify this old shoe trait in your typical conversation is to focus on others. Ask them questions about themselves. Appreciate people for who they are.

Be solid. People shouldn’t have to tip-toe around you. They shouldn’t be afraid that they are going to get mud on you. You’re the old shoe. Give people the freedom to rough house with you, to run in the rain, to be adventurous and take risks. Be non-judgmental with people.

Be predictable. People know what to expect with their old shoes. People can always depend on their old shoes. Be emotionally stable.

And lastly, show your blemishes. New shoes are obsessed with being flawless. You should never trust someone trying to be perfect all the time. An old shoe person has their flaws exposed. John C. Maxwell says, “If you want to impress people share your victories. If you want to empower people share your failures.” Be open with people.

In the movie Fight Club, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have this exchange when they first meet on the airplane:

  • Brad: “I get it. That’s clever.”
  • Edward: “Thanks.”
  • Brad: “How’s that working out for you?”
  • Eddie: “What?”
  • Brad: “Being clever.”
  • Ed: “….”

There are many things about myself that I’d like to change. One is to stop trying to be clever all the time. I’ll admit that sometimes I spend too much time in a conversation trying to think of something wistfully poignant or utterly profound to slip into the dialogue.

Trying to always be clever, is being a new shoe. You may look good in the window, but when people are ready to get to work, to play, to go on a journey–they’ll always go with their old shoes.

People may admire the incredible; but they will follow the credible. (<– Tweet this)

We humans have the desire to be exceptional, to stand out, to impress. To be incredible. But being incredible–impressing people–does not empower, uplift, or encourage them. Leaders need to be credible.

in·cred·i·ble [in-kred-uh-buhl]
adjective
1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible: incredible speed.
2. not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable: The plot of the book is incredible.

cred·i·ble [kred-uh-buhl
adjective
1. capable of being believed; believable: a credible statement.
2. worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy: a credible witness.

 


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Dig Out Fear By Its Roots

(Full disclosure: I’ve been struggling mightily to grow a couple of tomato plants so I may be blogging about all manner of gardening metaphors over the next month or so)

dummyIf you were to build a fear detector, what would it measure? Probably things like body temperature, pupil dilation, perspiration, the scent of certain chemicals or pheromones in the human body. Pee.

Then when you present your subject face to face in a dim room, with the most horrifying thing in the world (which I have on good authority is a ventriloquist dummy) you can tune in your fancy fear detector and get a reading.

Then you can get all kinds of creative with ways to measure fear.

  • For example, put the ventriloquist dummy on the back of the bathroom door, so that when someone goes in to brush their teeth, they spot it behind them in the mirror (fear level 3).
  • Suspend it by wires above their bed while they are sleeping so it is hovering over them, staring at them when they wake up (fear level 7).
  • At your buddy’s wedding, when the priest says “you may kiss the bride,” and behind the veil: ventriloquist dummy! (Fear level 9).

So when I talk about rooting out the source of fear, am I talking about mulching your ventriloquist dummy? No, although I’m sure it would happen after any one of those scenarios.

The ventriloquist dummy is not actually the source of fear.

Because if you put the dummy in an empty room, and give him a pair of bloody machetes and the spookiest dialogue ever written… your fear detector still reads a zero. Therefore the fear originates somewhere else.

This whole dummy conversation has been a long, roundabout method of explaining that fear is in the mind.

Thought is the source of all fear.

That’s why babies are fearless when it comes to ventriloquist dummies, even though they should be terrified.

So, since fear originates in our thoughts, how do we root out those fear thoughts?

The less effective way is to think your way through them. To ponder, to rationalize, to intellectualize. Using thought to fight thought is like using fire to fight fire.

Words are much better at overcoming thoughts. We can overcome fear thoughts by verbalizing our defeat of them.

When you are confronted by a machete wielding ventriloquist dummy, just say to yourself, “Hey you’re head is made of plastic and even though you are the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen, I know that you can’t walk and are only standing in the hallway because someone crammed a broomstick up your bum and I can walk right past you and turn my nose up at you as if I were a rich socialite and you are beneath my notice.”

Your fear will disappear as you talk your way through it.

This process is not limited to overcoming your fear of dummies. It is actually a lot more useful at overcoming social fears, those things that we as adults have learned to be afraid of.

If you have been dreading making an important phone call to a client, talk yourself into dialing: “This is an important call to an important client and I will definitely not get this account unless I call and make a great pitch and I’m picking up the phone and I’m dialing the number and I’m smiling… Hello.”

What fears have you been allowing to fester in your mind, when you can be carving them out with the power of words?


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Cause and Affect

(This is a re-print of an article I posted at Helium.com which originally appeared on my MySpace blog and has been excerpted from for my my first book. So, it’s been around the web a while.)
ImageI know several of you read the title and exclaimed, “A-ha! A spelling error!” Well, while I applaud your watchdoggedness, I actually intended to use the word affect and not effect. Specifically the noun form of affect meaning “Feeling or emotion, especially as manifested by facial expression or body language.” So instead of catching me making a typo, you have instead caught me using clever wordplay in my article topic for the day. Of course you can rip on me for using the word “watchdoggedness” if you like.

So here’s a hypothetical question: “If you see a man at a bus stop with his shoulders stooped and a frown on his face, is he happy or sad?” It’s not a trick question. He is sad.

Here’s a follow-up question: “Is he frowning because he is sad or is he sad because he is frowning?”

That one’s a little bit tougher to answer. There is a correlation between emotion and facial expression. Most people who are not sociopaths recognize this. But a little known fact that you were never taught in school–although it can be proven in about 20 seconds of experimentation–is that causation between emotion and facial expression actually goes both ways. What does that mean? It means that when we experience emotion our body responds with measurable physiological changes that result in facial expressions connected to the emotion. But if causation goes both ways, then what does that mean? It means that we can consciously change our facial expressions in order to trigger those same measurable physiological changes that results in the emotion connected to that facial expression. After reading that, your eyebrows are probably a little bit lower than their natural resting position and your lips are slightly parted because you are confused.

Smile!
Image

Smile big! Show some teeth!
Image
Here’s what just happened: the muscles in your face relaxed, there is more oxygen circulating through your blood and brain, and your endorphins level raised slightly. If you’re still smiling when you get this far, then not only is it easier for you to read without losing your place or getting distracted by stray thoughts because you are more relaxed, but you are also more prone to accept what I’m saying as true. Also, you probably just plain feel better than you did a minute ago.

So when it comes to emotions, learn to be proactive instead of reactive. Make a decision to smile more. You’ll feel better, you’ll be more relaxed, you’ll live longer. And people will respond more positively to you than to the other guy who’s constantly scowling.

Image

Ok, that’s a little too much.

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