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


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Patience – Preparation – Prayer

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At the beginning of the year I posted several posts on vision and my own visioneering project. You may remember I announced my vision right before reading the chapter on not announcing your vision prematurely. Predominantly because the early stage of your vision is when it is most susceptible to ridicule from your peers. Fortunately, none of my friends and family read my blog, so I was safe from that.

Remember, a vision requires patience. It is just important to remember that patience does not equate to standing by idly waiting for God to fulfill your vision. Proper patience involves preparation and prayer.

So I’ve changed my daily habits over the last few months in order to prepare myself. I’ve added several books by John C. Maxwell to my daily reading queue. John Maxwell is the world renowned expert in the field of leadership. When I donate money to charities, Maxwell’s Equip Ministries is one that I wholeheartedly support. Too often, charities waste money on overhead and expenses and not enough toward the cause they supposedly support. Several well-advertised charities employing C-list celebrities sometimes give less than 20 cents out of every dollar towards those starving children or abused puppies. Equip Ministries applies 100% of it’s donated funds toward supplying biblical resources and material to help train leaders worldwide. When he recruited his board of directors, he shared his vision, then told them that they were paying for all the operating expenses for the ministry. Not only do I incredibly respect John’s accomplishments, but I want to learn what he teaches. Because my vision to positively influence one million people is something he accomplishes literally on a monthly basis.

So I recently finished Talent is Never Enough (because to be honest, I think I skated through life relying more on talent than perseverance). Next on my list from John are Developing the Leader Within You and Developing the Leaders Around You. I never thought of myself as a leader in the past. However, one of John’s most repeated quotes is “Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” If you want to influence people, you need to be a leader. I think I may have some natural talent in that regard, because most of the jobs I’ve had over the last ten years I’ve been promoted to a lead or management position quickly. But managing a coffee shop is orders of magnitude different from influencing a million people. So to elevate my game, I can’t just rely on talent. (see the strategic path I’m taking with my reading schedule). Also in the queue is Dare to Discipline Yourself by Dale E. Galloway, because I know me and I know I could use more discipline in my life.

So that’s some small changes in my reading habit designed to prepare me to be an influencer. I also plan to start looking for some more venues for public speaking, just because after reviewing my radio interview, I realized I say “uh” a lot more than I would have guessed.

And on the prayer front, I also made a small change before I do any writing for the day. Before I start, I say a short prayer. I ask for the right words to positively impact my readers. Then before I start writing on my subject I first write “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all good things will follow.” Because I want to make sure that my motives remain pure; And God plus me is a much better writer than just me.

Also, if anyone has a recommendation on a great book on the subject of self-discipline, please, shout it out.

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A Seriously Serious Inquiry

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I made my radio debut this morning on 99.1 FM in Honolulu. Unfortunately it was airing while I was on the road, driving my best friend and a buddy of his to the airport to fly back home to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and since I can’t pick up that station in the neighborhood I was in, we missed almost the entire thing. We just managed to catch the last minute of the last segment, at which point I said, “Ew. Do I sound like that?”

Sigh. Still, very much a positive experience for the week.

When I published my first book I did nothing in the way of promotion and publicity and marketing. Because I knew nothing about any of those subjects. I started researching them after I published. The first expert on building a name brand and platform that I listened to was Michael Hyatt. He recommended that you start building your platform two years before you publish your book. And here I was already published and haven’t started yet.

So after that is when I created a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account and this blog page. Also, right about that same time is when I responded to an ad to participate in a Reality TV show. If you read my “About Matt” page I describe myself as an “occasional actor.” All my previous acting experience was with an experimental theatre group called Theatricus (currently on production-hiatus). Our productions were all improvisational, environmental drama. Improvisational, so we had no scripts. And also environmental, so our venue was typically without a stage where we would take ownership of the location and incorporate the audience into the performance. Which perfectly equipped me for reality TV.

As it turns out, the owner of the company where I auditioned at was using the show as a means to recruit door-to-door salesmen for his company. And his partner on the show was a famous local comedian (not going to use his name because I didn’t ask permission first, I will call him Mr. A for now). The premise of the show would be to follow the development of this new company in Hawaii, and there would be a contest among the salesmen, where the first one to sell 100 Widgets would win $50,000, etc…

So I went through the training spiel, filmed some footage for web commercials, went out knocking on doors for training, all in preparation for this 6 week contest. After four months the contest hadn’t started yet, although the first few episodes of the show had already aired. For me, no big deal. I wasn’t there to earn a paycheck selling door-to-door, I was there to be on TV and hopefully gain some name recognition. But all the other people who signed on would quit, get replaced, quit, get replaced. Why? Because selling door-to-door sucks. I didn’t mind it, because I spent most of my time talking story with people. One day I spent over an hour talking to a gentleman named Mike who was a trained dog psychiatrist with three giant Saint Bernards and I never once pitched him what I was selling. But I did gain some valuable insight into why my dog acts the way he does, so it was a good day.

Over the course of time, the video cameras were around a lot less in the office. And management started leaning on me for not getting more sales. So I stopped showing up. No cameras, no contest, no reason for me to be here. And they wouldn’t miss me since I had five sales in five months. I’m sure I could have had ten in a single afternoon, I just never talked to a single friend or family member in a city that I grew up in. A few weeks later, I saw a post on Mr. A’s Facebook page that he was no longer affiliated with the company.

I did get to know Mr. A a bit when he made appearances in the office. Like most of the Hawaii celebrities I’ve met, he was a very down-to-earth, local boy. One day he told me, “Hey, Matt! I like your tweets.” Everyone in the company was encouraged to create a twitter account, so we were all following each other. One of the things about Mr. A, was that most of his tweets were not just comedy, they were about encouraging people to dream big and pursue your dreams and goals, which I of course am all about. Then three weeks after I read about him leaving the company, I got a message from him on Twitter. Paraphrasing our exchange here:

  • Wassup, Matt! (that’s a typical greeting here). Crazy busy month, just trying to forget the last year. Let’s keep in touch.
  • Hey, I meant to ask. Did you get the book I left you in the office a few months ago?
  • No I haven’t been back there for awhile.
  • Send me your address, I’ll send you a copy of my book.

(the next day. Wow! Local mail is fast!)

  • Got it, Matt! I have two books I want to publish! You want to promote it on my radio show?

I think my eyes actually made a “boing!” noise.

So, while in the studio I found out a little more about what was going on with the show. Mr. A was the one who came up with the original concept for the show. The company owner that was bankrolling the project took over and kept Mr. A bound in an incredibly tight contract. He kidnapped Mr. A’s local fame for credibility and turned his show concept into a weekly commercial for his company.

That’s okay though. Strength through adversity. So, after all that: This morning I got to be on the Mr. L and Mr. A radio show, and my book will be the first book reviewed on their brand new L&A book club. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help out Mr. A get his two books published before the Christmas season starts. And who knows, since it was Mr. A, and not this other company owner that originally pitched the show to A&E, the reality show is still on the table for him and I might be able to wiggle my way into the show and make an appearance on national television.

But seriously, does my voice sound like that?


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Find a Balance Between Polish and Publish

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I was listening to a free webinar by marketing expert, Steve Harrison, and one of the points he made was to not be paralyzed by perfectionism. One of the key traits that is shared by very successful people (what he calls “million dollar” experts and authors) is they develop the instant action habit. (Confirmation for my previous article on Leap Before You Look)

To be a successful author, you need to produce work. Yes you want to produce quality, and yes you want to avoid mistakes and typos and logical contradictions in the body of your work; but you need to determine a balance between polish and publish. Some people will never publish anything because they spend all their time polishing their manuscript with the goal of perfection.

Some thoughts on perfection which you should dwell on like a Zen master:

Perfection is a fine goal. When you are practicing anything, you should strive for perfection. At soccer practice, you should try to make every pass perfect. When writing you should try to make every sentence flow perfectly. But ultimately, perfection is not attainable.

What is more important than attaining perfection is striving towards perfection. Because then you are constantly in a state of growth and improvement. Then even if your work is flawed at the time of publication, your next work will be better. And your next work even better than that one. But your next work will never be better than your first if you never finish your first.

In any learning or improvement process there is a diminishing return. There is rapid progress in the beginning, but the more you improve the less improvement you see from later practice. You will reach a point when any further polishing in one specific area is not a good investment of your time, and you’ll just be better off moving on to a new area.

In soccer, for example, you need to move on from polishing your passing skill to dribbling, kicking, heading, trapping, and running. If you refuse to move on to a new aspect of the game because you are obsessed with perfection in passing, you will be worthless on the field. Same thing in writing. If you spend a lifetime perfecting one manuscript, the world will never know how great your second and third work would have been.

In this digital age everything is increasingly temporary. Everything is in a stage of constant flux and change and evolution. If you publish your work today, then realize that something needs to be changed, you can publish a new version. In fact, in five years you may want to print a second edition anyway, incorporating all the things you learned while working on your last two books. Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, says to develop the mindset of “perpetual beta.” You, your work, your writing, and your brand are constantly being upgraded.

Lastly, perfection is subjective anyway. If it’s perfect in your eyes, someone else won’t like it. So don’t sweat it.

Shortly after publishing my first book I posted this statement on my Facebook fan page: “Just published my first book. I hope 10 years from now, I’ll read it and think it’s terrible. Because that will mean I’m still growing.” I still stand by that statement.

Also, to my European readers. When I say soccer, I mean football.

Final question: “Have you ever been afflicted by the paralysis of analysis?”


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Back in the Saddle Again

 

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I haven’t updated my blog for quite a while because I’ve been sick. You would think that being stuck quarantined at home with my computer wouldn’t affect my writing schedule but I’m sad to say that it did. I’ve basically been a vegetable for about 12 days. Barely left the house, barely talked to anyone because I near-totally lost my voice for half that time as well.

So, now that I’m finally coming back to the keyboard I had to decide whether I should address the issue of why so much time has past since my last post or if I should just sweep it under the rug, ignore it, and just hop back into action and pretend like I had been posting twice a week like always. Which seemed like the cowards way out, so I think I’ll write about Matt’s laziness today.

I think a big part of being a writer in this new generation is being transparent with your audience. Even–or perhaps especially–in my niche of motivation and personal growth. Sure I’d like to think I can help to inspire everyone to improve their lives in some way, but I don’t think I can do that by pretending to be a perfect human paragon of creativity and industriousness.

I’m not. I get lazy on occasion. In fact, I know myself, and if I allow it, I can be a human paragon of lazy.

Here are some things I’ve done in the past to combat my natural inclination towards laziness and keep myself productive:

  • Routine. By establishing fixed routines, you eliminate any mental effort devoted to scheduling and just get the work done. My first book included a section on the Power of Habit, and in fact my first book was written because I had created a habit for myself of writing for 15 minutes every day. Also, consistent writing makes it easier to keep going than constantly stopping and starting. Even just these last few sentences came easier than the first two sentences as I dusted off my brain and got to work. Be persistent, be consistent. Develop routines that yield good results.
  • Sleep. More specifically, not sleeping too much. While I was working a real job, I was actually capable of operating normally on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. Since I haven’t had a normal job since July of last year, I haven’t had to wake up at any specific time. So, I didn’t. I would sleep in. And when I slept in, I would end up going to bed later, until eventually I’m sleeping until after noon on a regular basis and sometimes sleeping up to 10 hours a day. This was definitely something I needed to stop, so my solution was simple: I set up a new routine. I made a promise to myself that I would leave the house by 8:00 am every morning. It really didn’t matter where I went as long as I got myself up and out of bed and out the door. Sometimes I would just put on my shoes and walk around the neighborhood. Most times I would grab a chai tea latte and sit at a table at the mall near my house and do some reading, writing, and voice messaging. That routine actually was working great until I got sick.
  • Health. When I am physcially fit I am more mentally alert and capable as well. Years ago while my mother and I were full time caregivers for my grandmother I quit my gym membership. Years after that I aggravated a back injury and had to stop running. But if I let myself get too weak physically I also lose a lot of IQ points and have trouble with my mental concentration. So, with no gym and running off the table I started doing yoga just to keep myself somewhat fit–and lucid. I developed a new routine. I would do 15 minutes of yoga every day. In fact, just type in “15 minute yoga lower back workout” into YouTube and you can probably work out to some of the same videos that I do. It’ll be like we’re virtual gym buddies. (As an aside, I think I am finally well enough to start running again. Just last month I went for short jogs 3 nights in a row… until I got sick).
  • Forgiveness. Eventually something will happen that will knock you off your routine. I, for example, got sick and started sleeping in, stopped exercising, and stopped writing and talking to people (that last one wasn’t really my fault). When you make a mistake, you get lazy, you lose your momentum. But the simple fact that you feel guilty about your laziness means that you are a good person inside. Forgive yourself and move on. I could probably write an entire book on the subject of forgiveness alone, because I think it is one of the greatest shackles that we attach to ourselves that prevent us from moving on. Sometimes it’s forgiveness of someone else, but more often it’s forgiveness of ourselves. And the greater the expectations you have of yourself (once again, because you are a good person) usually the more brutal you are with yourself. Forgive yourself.
  • But not too much. Because even though I was sick, and even though I was lazy, my own hardships are always fairly trivial compared to what someone else is going through right now. So I don’t take my laziness lightly. Wasted time is never recovered. So forgive yourself, but pledge to do better next time.

So, back to my regular writing, regular posting, and for anyone who happens to be holding a glass of wine in their hand right this instant: “To your health.”

Do you sometimes feel discontent with your productivity? How do you handle laziness?