15 Minutes

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

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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]
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
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 big! Show some teeth!
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.


Ok, that’s a little too much.