15 Minutes

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

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Self-Motivation and Mathematics

If you are lacking motivation in your current endeavor, then where is that lack coming from? Thanks to modern mathematics, we now have a formula to determine what we need to analyze and increase our own level of motivation.

Motivation = Needs x Faith

Keep in mind that I failed the last math class I took, so if you want a second opinion by an actual mathematician or statistician or actuary you will need to look elsewhere. In my defense, that class was AP Calculus in my senior year of high school. Also, in my defense, I did get a 4 on the AP Calculus exam and tested out of any math classes for my entire college career so “in your face,” teacher.

Let’s analyze the variables.

Needs. Your need is a want, a dream, or a desire of some sort. If you have no need, then you have no motivation (do the math, zero times anything equals…?).

If your level of motivation is low, then perhaps your need is unclear. That’s why when leaders and motivational speakers talk about your dreams and goals, they tell you to be specific about what you want and when you want it. Money is a need to everyone who lives in modern society. But the person who is motivated to pursue wealth is the person who has a burning desire for a certain lifestyle. A certain lifestyle that they think about, dream of, meditate on. The greater the need, the greater the multiplier. The more clear and vivid your need is in your mind, the greater the motivation. See my last post on creative visualization.

But even with an enormously clear and vivid dream for your life, you can still have zero motivation. “Wait, how can that be?” I hear you cry. Again, do the math and you’ll figure it out. If your need is an 11 you can still have zero motivation if your faith is…? No, let’s not see all the same hands.

Without faith, you will never be motivated. I’m not talking about religious faith, I’m talking about faith that you can actually achieve whatever you are attempting.

Faith can be broken down into two categories. Faith in yourself and faith in others.

Faith in yourself and your own abilities, gifts and talents can either greatly increase or greatly hinder your motivation. If you see yourself as a “C-minus” achiever, then you will continue to perform at that level. Increasing your needs can only take you so far if you are being dragged down by a lack of faith in your self. See my last post on self-image.

What about faith in others? This is something that you have little control over.

Would you continue to work at a company that has laid off half of it’s employees every month for six consecutive years? (That’s actually not mathematically possible. I will wait while you confirm it). If a boss lies to you about a raise, will you continue to work in good faith? If they continually change your performance evaluations to keep you from getting a promotion or a bonus? Low faith in your employer equals low motivation.

How can you increase your motivation when you have no faith in other people? Either you can trust them blindly (meh). Or change the people around you to folks that you do trust. Sometimes people will surprise you, but continuing to put blind faith into people that continually disappoint you will damage you. So in that situation, where you have no faith in your employer, I’d advise switching jobs or consider becoming an entrepreneur. If you have more faith in yourself than the people you work for or with, than take control of the variables so that you can have the result you want.

Besides if the economy continues to implode, self-employment may soon become the new normal.

How’s your motivation level? How’s your level of need and level of faith? Where are you strong or where are you lacking? What’s the square root of 16?

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Imagine You 2.0

The greatest hindrance to most peoples success is a poor self-image. Often when we are ground down by life we allow circumstances to depress us or define us. And that’s a lie; a trick of the enemy. Your worth is not determined by your environment but by your character. Your value comes from what is inside you not from what is around you.

A gold coin in a pile of cow dung is still inherently valuable. Sometimes it’s just hard to recognize its value because of the smell. Likewise, outside circumstances do not determine your self-worth. Your self-worth is inherently priceless and is not dependent on the approval of your boss, a bank, a loved one or a stranger.

You are unique. No one else in this universe has your exact same thoughts, mind and ideas. You have skills and abilities that no one else has. Emerson said, “Every man I meet is in some way my superior.” The problem is that we rely on our present, what we currently see and hear and feel, and allow that to become our reality of self. If that happens, then we cannot rise above our current circumstances, because we are not just struggling against the world, we are struggling against ourselves.

A couple posts back I described the process of creative visualization as a means of helping you to accomplish tasks successfully. This same method can be used to elevate yourself into the person you want to be. Utilize the power of your imagination to hold a picture of yourself in your mind. The person that you really want to be, not a prisoner of your circumstances, but the master of them.

Healthy, wealthy, wise. Visualize yourself as physically fit, living in a beautiful home, living a comfortable life. Imagine what your life is like on the average Tuesday. What do you do in the morning, afternoon and evenings? Imagine the way you talk to people, the way you conduct your daily activities, the relationships you have. Imagine a life of purpose. What do you want? Imagine it. Hold it in your mind. Allow that image to crystalize into a vision and you are on your way to becoming that version of you.

Once again, I hear the objections, “your advice to people is daydreaming?” Why not? You will be much better off doing that than spending your day berating yourself and complaining about being out of shape, broke, and stupid. Work on you first.

Emerson again: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

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The Bamboo Story

Anyone who has been forced to spend any serious amount of time with me knows that I only have a few stories. There’s the Duck Story (for my high school friends reading this). The Spider Story (which became the Spider Trilogy) which I will retell on this blog at some later time (when I am sure my psyche can handle it). The exploding beer keg story and the Christmas parade story (both involved my time at Chuck E. Cheese’s). And that’s about it. I have not had that eventful of a life.

The Bamboo Story begins about 12 years ago during my time working as a graphic designer for a T-shirt company (as an aside, that was the only job I was ever fired from). One day, the manager of the shop asked me as a favor to create some simple Hawaiian-esque designs for her son’s glass-etching company to make some designer drinking glasses. Which I did. I made three landscape designs of Bamboo, Bird of Paradise (a tropical flower) and Torch Ginger (also, flower).

Years pass. 10 or so jobs later, I happen to walk by a medical clinic that was just built next to my coffee shop. I stopped in mid-stride and did my impersonation of a cow looking at a new gate for a minute. That was my first confrontation with my bamboo design.

A few people asked me, “Are you sure that’s your work?” Which is a reasonable question since my original design was sized for drinking glasses and this was blown up ten feet tall (I made it in Corell Draw, a vector-based illustration program so it can be scaled to any size without losing resolution). Ask any artist to identify their own work. Yes, I’m sure.

The second encounter would be sometime that year. One of my coffee shop customers asked me to house-sit for them and take care of their Bichon Frise. That’s when I noticed this on their front door.

Which opened up the flood gate of sightings. I started seeing my designs show up everywhere.

Here’s my bird of paradise next to the elevator and escalator at Kahala Mall shopping center.

A timeshare condo on Maui that has my designs next to the front door of every unit (alternating between my bamboo and my torch ginger design).

Most of an entire street of new housing in my neighborhood.

And the grand finale, this two-story glass elevator shaft at McCully shopping center (full disclosure: my bamboo is superimposed over someone else’s work on the bottom portion, I think the same design that I’ve seen on the glass doors at Honolulu International Airport).

So apparently some of my designs that I created during my downtime in my brief tenure working as a graphic designer are making a local glass tinting company thousands of dollars. What is the moral of this story?

If you want to be successful in life, you need to own your own business. Am I bitter? No, not really. I got paid my $10 an hour for the work I did. And if an entrepreneur didn’t take the time, effort and risk to market and sell that product, my designs would still be sitting on a hard drive in a computer somewhere.

If anyone had a right to be upset, it’s the gentleman who owns the T-shirt company since I was working on his computer and on his time when I made the designs.


The Greatest Nation is Imagination

Have you ever seen someone fail badly when attempting something new? Whether it’s a skateboard maneuver or public speaking or trying to de-claw a cat? After they fall, stammer, or get sliced, did they say, “I knew that was going to happen…”?

If you knew it was going to happen, why didn’t you do it a different way?

They didn’t know they were going to fail. They imagined that they would fail, which increased their chance that they would fail.

“Creative visualization” is a tool used by professional athletes and many successful leaders and experts. It is essentially imagining yourself succeeding at a task. Golfers paint a vivid picture in their mind of making a successful putt or drive before they step up to the ball. Basketball players imagine the ball swooshing through the hoop before they take the foul shot.

There has been tons of research and many books on this subject, but suffice it to say, that your autonomic nervous system cannot tell the difference between you physically performing an action and you carefully imagining performing that same action. It’s “virtual practice.”

So by visualizing yourself succeeding at the task before you attempt it, you increase your chance at succeeding. After all, you’ve already done it once before, right? But by worrying, by holding a failure picture in your mind before you execute, you are practically begging to fail.

Because he was worried about falling, the skateboarder wiped out. And because she was worried about being embarassed, the speaker blew her presentation. And let’s face it, your cat can smell your fear.

Imagination is a powerful tool. But if you are not using it to help you, you are probably using it against you.

I always talk about spending 15 minutes a day performing some activity that will move you towards your goals in life. Maybe right now, you don’t have a job or business vehicle to take you where you want to go. But you can spend 15 minutes dreaming. Creatively visualize. Paint a crystal clear picture of the life you want to live and the person you want to be. Write it down, imagine it, envision it. It will help prepare your mind for success and enable you to take advantage of the next opportunity that you come across.

Am I advocating daydreaming as a course of action? Yep. It will help you a whole lot more than worrying about not being able to pay your bills.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” George Bernard Shaw


99% Committed = 100% Uncommitted

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Some thoughts on commitment:

  • Commitment creates time. There is no such thing as a lack of time, only a lack of commitment. Anything that we are committed to we will make time for, period.
  • Commit to something worthwhile. Most of us spend time on activities that no one will care about in a few years.
  • Commit to completion. If you are committed to a task or project, you don’t worry about the timeline. You will get it done. You will stay at the task and complete it.
  • Commit to excellence. When you commit to something, you give it your best effort. Leave it on the field. Throw your heart over the bar. You will succeed or die trying.
  • Commitment is all or nothing. If you are 99% committed to something you are 100% uncommitted. How great would your marriage be if you were 99% committed to your wife? Three days a year of infidelity should be enough to get your wife to leave you.

What in your life are you committed to?