15 Minutes

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

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Money Does So Make You Happy

I know this might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s true. Those people who say that happiness comes from within are wrong. See, happiness comes from the same root word as the word “happenstance.” Happenstance by definition is a result of chance or fortunate circumstance. Therefore, happiness cannot possibly come from within, since it is based on outside circumstance.

I know, I know, it’s really just a semantic argument, but next time try saying that “joy” comes from within. Or contentment. Or beatitudes. That way you can avoid an argument and focus on explaining what beatitude means to your friend.

But back to the subject of money.

Most marriage arguments are over the subject of money (specifically a lack of money). Jesus talked about money more than any other subjects except the Kingdom of God. While its true that money alone is not the only ingredient to success, happiness, and personal fulfillment; It is an important part.

Not because the things that you buy with money necessarily bring you fulfillment. But because lack of money often causes you stress and discomfort and circumstances that detract from your fortunate feeling (unhappiness).

If you don’t have two dollars in your pocket at this moment and you walk by a hot dog cart while you are hungry, chances are that would make you slightly unhappy. Now, let’s say a millionaire is also at that same hot dog cart and that he happens to have no cash on hand. But he is so hungry, he offers to trade you his Porsche for two dollars to buy a hotdog. I think that you would be extremely unhappy that you don’t have two dollars in your pocket right at that moment.

Maybe it’s true what they mean (not what they say), that money doesn’t make you happy. But would it be fair to say that lack of money sometimes causes unhappiness? Or even that having money will eliminate many of the things in your life that cause unhappiness?

Most people have a poverty mindset when it comes to money. That acts as a barrier to acquiring it and keeping it. Here are some tips about money to help you acquire a prosperity mindset. These are all taken from a great book by Andrew Matthews called Being Happy.

1. Decide to be prosperous and put in the necessary effort.
2. Save first and spend what is left.
3. Observe wealthy people.
6. Spoil yourself occasionally.
9. Always carry some money – for three reasons.
10. Don’t blame your parents, the weather, the economy, the government, your job, your education or your mother-in-law for how you are doing.
12. Recognize that poverty is a mental disease.

“Almost half the list is missing!” I hear you cry. Actually, 99% of the book is missing, and I recommend you read it. (Mental note: Create a recommended reading page). (Mental note 2: Wrap up this blog post, Matt).

Of course, having a prosperity mindset doesn’t generate cash on it’s own, but it will keep your own brain from hindering your ability to get it.

How important is it to first have a prosperity mindset before acquiring wealth?


Urgent Vs Important

Urgent (adj) compelling or requiring immediate action or attention.
Important (adj) of great significance or consequence.

The most important concept that should be taught to young leaders, corporate execs, and anybody that wants to accomplish anything of significance in their lives is to finish tasks in the order of their importance. The problem is that many people confuse the urgent with the important.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Urgent things demand our attention immediately, but they may not be important in the overall scheme of our lives. That’s why the really important things, the things that will add value to our lives over the long term can get put off indefinitely; because they are not screaming for our attention.

When making your to-do list, prioritize your tasks according to this standard:

1. Urgent and important
2. Non-urgent but important
3. Urgent and non-important
4. Non-urgent and non-important

Completing your urgent and important tasks first is a no-brainer.

The hardest thing, will be deciding whether to handle the number 2 or the number 3 items first. When something urgent comes hurtling towards you, arms flailing, it will command you to take care of it right now Now NOW! It takes discipline, but before addressing this incredibly urgent and demanding task, ask yourself “is this important?” A question I ask myself is “will this matter five years from now?

If this urgent task that requires your immediate attention is something that can be delegated, rescheduled, or even ignored without causing you long-term harm, then ditch it. Take care of what’s important first.

Then the things that are neither urgent nor important, you work on those when you have absolutely nothing else to do. Watching television goes in that category.

What are some urgent tasks that seem to always pop up in your life?


Lessons To Unlearn From School, part III


“Education is the key to success”

Most of us were taught from an early age that to succeed in life you need to go to school, get good grades, so you can get into a good college and get a good job.

According to one study, the average college graduate over the course of their entire life will earn roughly one million dollars more than the average high school graduate. In another study, it was reported that if the high school graduate set aside the amount of money they would have spent on tuition and invested it at a modest return, they would end up earning roughly an extra million dollars at the end of their life.

In other words, college has zero influence on how much income you will make. Is this true? It has to be, Grissom from CSI said so.

There are of course exceptions. Some high-paying fields with specific education requirements like doctors and lawyers earn much higher salaries than average. But I also happen to know high school graduates (barely) that make millions in businesses of their own or in professional sales.

Higher education is big business. It is a multi-trillion dollar industry like coal, and oil, and automobiles and all those other industries that they teach you to hate in public schools. Like all other businesses, they sell a product. To increase sales, they create the false premise that in order to succeed in life you require their product. They created such a huge demand for their product, that the cost of it skyrocketed well beyond the pace of inflation. Thank God the government stepped in to ensure that it’s easy to get a student loan. The net result? Hundreds of thousands of young people with a college degree, $30,000 to $50,000 worth of debt, and entering the workforce four years behind the kids that decided not to pursue a degree.

Let’s pretend you are a business owner. Who would you rather hire, a young man with four years of work experience or one fresh out of college with a four-year degree in Sociology? It seems to me that most people would prefer the high school grad to the college boy who probably expects to be paid more because he has that degree. There is such an abundance of degree-carrying young men and women today, that a four year degree doesn’t even begin to distinguish you out of a crowd anymore.

The next time you stop at Starbucks, ask your barista what his degree is in. (I had a BA in Art while working at Starbucks).

Of course, the answer if you ask those multiple-billion dollar education factories is simple: Go back to school and get your masters degree.

Question: Are you working in the field that you received your degree in?

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Just Jump Off The Ladder

Ever hear the phrase “Two steps forward, one step back”? Meaning that during the process of advancing forward, we sometimes hit setbacks, but as long as we keep moving we eventually will succeed?

Two steps forward, one step back is only a good thing if we are progressing towards a worthwhile goal. Sometimes we need to be willing to take a voluntary step backwards and make sure we are on the right track.

What do I mean by a step backward? Well everyone has a situation that’s different.

You may be three years into your college degree and realize that you have no interest in pursuing a career in your major. Step back, get some counsel from someone that you trust and has a valuable opinion. It may seem right now like you’ve just wasted the last three years. But that is not a good reason to waste the next twenty.

Sometimes stepping back might mean walking away from a relationship that is hurting us. If you are in a relationship with someone that is negative about your dreams and goals, confront them. Either they change their attitude or you stop associating with them. This may seem cruel, but would you want someone close to you to be responsible for destroying all of your dreams and goals for the next twenty years? How would that affect your relationship?

Some people may need to step back and streamline their finances to get them under control. Most people are so concerned with status they will stay enslaved to a bank just for the sake of living in a home they had no business buying in the first place (or driving a car, sailing a boat, or eating at that trendy restaurant). Take a step back, downsize, streamline, and start using a black pen instead of a red pen for your bank account.

Some people might need to turn their backs on whatever they are currently doing for income. You may have lots of experience. And you may be good at it. But if it ain’t paying the dollars, then staying there doesn’t make any sense.

When you are climbing the ladder of success and realize it is leaning against the wrong building, climbing faster is not the answer. Sometimes success requires a step back. And, of course, stepping back off a ladder is the fastest way back down.

Have you ever had to go backwards in order to make progress?

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Jesus Spoke in Parables, Aesop Wrote Fables, I Use Classified Ads

Lost kitten. Gray and black tabby about 6 months old. Tends to attack feet when you walk by. Will bite you if you try to pick her up or pet her. Likes to sleep on computer keyboards and laptops. She chews shoelaces, paper, and clothing. She is not litter-box trained and will pee or poop on beds…
You know what, keep the freaking cat.


So what is the moral of this ad?

I wrote in my first book about the power of association. Specifically, about how many of us are just one or two relationships away from being able to move ourselves into a successful position in life. Except that sometimes they are one or two relationships that we need to end.

One of the perks of blogging is that it allows you organize your thoughts in writing. It also forces you to review your past experiences sometimes from a different and more objective point of view. Your perspective changes to that of an outside observer, that of your reader (I mean beloved reader of course). Sometimes that new perspective allows you to see things clearly for once.

If you are in a toxic relationship, sometimes all it takes to realize it is a few moments of reflection and summarizing your relationship in a brief paragraph.

When we are too close, we lose the ability to make sound judgements. The fictional cat owner above thought that he loved his cat because she was just so darn fluffy. But fluffy can sometimes be evil.

If you want to grow as a person, be discerning about those people that are closest to you and that you spend the most time with. To be positive, get around positive people. To achieve, get around winners. Make a point of spending time with them.

Limit the amount of time you spend with neutral people. The ones that are neither positive or negative, they simply are. Certainly make the effort to be around positive more than neutral.

And what about the negative people? People that push you toward sin and laziness? People that constantly deplete and demoralize you? People that belittle your beliefs and dreams? It doesn’t matter how fluffy the kitty, evil is evil. Sometimes, you just have to say, “You know what, keep the freaking cat.”

Have you ever been forced to end a relationship with someone because they were a caustic influence in your life?

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Never Change, Stay Insane

Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” We as humans do stuff. When we do stuff, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. But no matter the outcome, we can always benefit from it. When we succeed at the task at hand we receive whatever benefit we hoped to get from that task: the contract, the sale, the date. When we fail at it, we have an opportunity to learn.

Notice though, that I didn’t say we learn from failure, just that we have the opportunity to learn from it. There is nothing inherently great about failing.

But when you have a healthy attitude about failing, it is not heartbreaking, it does not lower your own sense of worth, it does not devalue you as a person. As long as you are trying and failing, you are growing. And as long as you are growing, you are becoming greater. You are adding value to yourself as a person.

When you fail at something, and life is trying to teach you a lesson, just remember this: A lesson will be repeated until it is learned. Fail once, maybe you can blame it on chance. Fail a second time, maybe the odds just weren’t with you. Fail one thousand consecutive times, you may want to consider changing something. Always keep an eye out for the lesson so that life doesn’t have to keep beating you with that stick to get your attention.

Many people know about the tens of thousands of failed experiments that Thomas Edison went through in the process of inventing the electric light bulb. And, many people have heard about history’s possibly most positive comment when asked if he was dejected or depressed: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Yes, he kept trying. But the key was that he kept trying different things.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So while persistence is admirable, without the willingness to learn and change, we are not exhibiting determination so much as lunacy.


Revisiting Nothing

Some musings and insights on spending 15 minutes a day on nothing but stillness, a practice I started a few weeks ago. So what have I noticed about myself and my mind since I began this practice?

First, is that it’s not easy to think about nothing. As I grab my timer and sit down, I tend to start thinking about what I was just doing or what I’m going to do next. It takes conscious effort to arrest my attention away from conscious thought (if that makes any sense). Some tricks I use: If there is a lot of background noise, rather than allow the noise to distract you, focus on either your sense of touch or sight (while your eyes are closed).

Second, I can’t always achieve my dream state. The first time I did this, I entered into a semi-lucid waking dream state; I was still conscious, but in an REM-like trance. Over the last few weeks, there were several times when I’ve been unable to reach that state (mostly from thinking too much). When I do get there, it feels like having a two hour nap compressed into a few minutes. So I’ve been trying to schedule my stillness time in the middle of the day, about the time people have a siesta. After all, many cultures traditionally have two sleep periods each day. Maybe I’ll be able to get away with sleeping less during the night.

Third, is that I’ve been remembering my dreams more when I sleep at night. Through most of my life, I rarely have been able to remember my dreams. It seems like I’ve been waking up from dreams more often than normal. This could be coincidence but it’s something I am curious about.

I’m not sure if it’s desirable either. When I wake from a dream, I tend to wake more tired than when I don’t remember my dreams. For example, last night I remember dreaming about myself and two other people searching some kind of underground amphitheater/cavern for a murderer. We kept getting separated, and there were conveyor belts and secret doors and we spent more time looking for each other than for clues or the murderer. The point is, I was tired when I woke up, because it felt like I was busy all night reenacting a Scooby-Doo episode.

Last thing, I’ve been re-reading Grow Rich While You Sleep by Ben Sweetland. It’s about harnessing the creative power of your subconscious mind while you sleep. I’d like to be able to tap my creative mind for new ideas while I meditate. This might be antithetical to the purpose of spending a portion of your day in stillness… Or maybe not, I’d like to be able to shut off my conscious mind at will and tap ideas from the creative mind or universal consciousness if I can. More updates to follow.

What are your thoughts or experiences? Do you think that time in quiet meditation is beneficial?


Back to Basics (15 Minutes)

The last few weeks I’ve stalled on writing my current book. I have more free time now than I did while I was rat-racing*, but I feel sort of like I’ve replaced any writing progress on my book with blogging, twittering, and booking faces**.

*rat-racing is my new hip slang for being trapped in the rat race.

**booking faces is slang for utilizing the social networking site known as Facebook.

I’m still a novice when it comes to this brave new world of social media. It’s like a shiny new toy, and it distracted me for awhile, but I still have more books that I want to write. So it’s time to refocus.

Am I abandoning social networking? Heck, no! It’s an invaluable tool for a profession that relies on name recognition like, oh, an author… So I’ll still be blogging about 3 times a week, and tweeting, and updating my face’s page. I just need to get back to the same commitment level that I used to write my first book. Which means 15 minutes a day of writing (not including my time spent here on my blog).

Having more free time lulled me into a false sense of security. It made me think I could procrastinate and make up the time later. Here’s a handy tip: Having lots of free time doesn’t necessarily mean you can produce more. People who have lots of free time value their time less and are less productive.

Just like world-renowned efficiency expert, and part-time actress, Lucille Ball says, If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.

So, as of yesterday I’m back on track. No more skipped days. Every day, 15 minutes of writing time committed to my second book; And more when I can (that’s different from my rules of engagement for book 1, where I never did more than 15 minutes a day). My goal is to finish by July 2013.

What are you committing 15 minutes a day, every day, toward?