15 Minutes

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

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Where Would I Be Without Mentorship

mentorAs a thought experiment, let’s take a theoretical look at where my life would be right now if I didn’t have someone take an interest enough in my life to take on a mentorship role.

The mentor/student relationship used to be the norm in society. There used to be masters and apprentices in the skilled trades prior to the industrial revolution. That was traded in for the queen bee and worker drone business model that most of you are participating in right now. But mentorship as a concept has been making a huge comeback lately (although not enough of a comeback that the WordPress spell check recognizes it as a real word).

The first time I ever heard of a life coach that sounded pretty weird to me. And now it seems like anyone can become a certified life coach online as easily as they can become ordained in some quasi-religion.

Did I have any mentors growing up? Not really. Neither of my parents (or none of my parents if you count step-parents) ever taught me a thing about religion, politics, finances or relationships. Which left as my only source of information on those topics: government schooling. And the default state government position on those topics is:

  • Religion. Your life is meaningless because you are a random accident of the cosmos and it is illegal for you to discuss religion except to belittle it.
  • Politics: The only moral choice is the political party that the teachers union supports because they will give us pay raises in return for a unified voting block and aside from that truth you may not discuss politics.
  • Finances. Rich people are evil. Your government should be your sole source of dependence.
  • Relationships. Have sex with whatever you want and if it happens to be female abort the accidents that will invariably happen.

Thank God I met my mentors (also, that sentence is illegal at a high school commencement speech today).

I wasn’t looking for mentors, I just happened to find some when I began my business. Of course I wasn’t even looking to get in to business, some things just happen because random circumstance sometimes has to be shoved out of the way to make room for God’s plan in our lives.

But enough digression. Based on my life and the values that I was brought up with:

I would have no desire or prospects of prosperity. I never would have started a business. I probably never would have had a job for longer than a year, because I was brought up not to take responsibility for my actions and if I got bored with something it was alright to just quit. I’m sure that I would have worked only in menial, low-paying jobs because I did not have an ambitious bone in my body. In fact my dream job would be one that I never have to innovate or take initiative or take any work home with me.

I was decidedly apolitical, so I never would have bothered registering to vote. I also never watched the news so at least I wouldn’t be wasting time with the latest media-enabled cause du jour. *cough*occupy*end cough*

I would probably be spending 40 hours a week on television and gaming. I certainly would not have read another book beyond high school (hey, I made it completely through college without reading a book). So age 17 would have been the height of my learning.

I would be a devout atheist looking down on religious people as weak-willed sycophants.

And with all that going for me I would have been trying to find a girl willing to cohabitate with me as an exclusive sex partner.

The one thing that might be similar in my life is that I might still be writing – because that’s something I’ve been good at for nearly as long as I can remember and it’s been easy for me. But, rather than writing on success principles I would be writing Steven King-esque horror fiction or possibly philosophical works on why there is no God and life is meaningless; possibly condemning some otherwise good, open-minded people to hell if they agreed with my writing.

That’s the direction I was heading in. In fact I was pretty much already there in a lot of areas. And it took a long time to change direction; to change from that useless slob of a human to a man with a vision to help one million people to improve their lives financially, relationally or spiritually.

That’s why I’m so passionate on the subject of personal growth. Growing your mind means expanding your vision. Expanding your vision allows you to see multiple possibilities rather than the one that was spoon-fed to you by Hollywood and government schools.


I should probably insert a note about how someone can take on a parental role in your life even if they are not related to you by blood but you get that, right? See the dog teaching the ducklings how to swim? Precious, right?

Thank God, that someone cared about me enough to take me under their wing and teach me some important lessons about life.

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Guard Your Association

association(This is another excerpt from my upcoming book, Feed The Good Wolf. I know it’s confusing because there’s no “wolf” in the post title…)

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” Booker T. Washington

“You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” Charles Jones

As a parent… actually I’m not a parent so let me start again. As a child, my parents did their best to keep me away from  certain kids. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve done the same thing. Kids that are disrespectful, kids that swear a lot, kids that are bullies, that have violent tendencies, that mistreat puppies. You don’t want your child hanging around with them; you don’t want your own children to start adopting the behaviors and values of their undesirable peers. We want to insulate our children for as long as possible from bad influences, until they are old enough and wise enough to be able to discern right behavior from wrong. So our parents encouraged us to make friends with the polite, studious, well-behaved kids; rather than the foul-mouthed, car-jacking, drug-peddling crew. And frankly, they didn’t care which ones were the cool kids.

As adults, we think that we are immune to the effects of peer pressure, but that is because we are just better at lying to ourselves. If you were to give me half an hour to interview the five people that you spend the most amount of time with on a weekly basis, I could paint a pretty accurate picture of the kind of person you are—without ever talking about you. Your behavior, your beliefs, the music you like, your physical and leisure activities, the kinds of movies and television shows that you watch, are all things that are probably the same as your immediate peer group.

We will become like the people we associate with the most.

You could argue “of course I spend time with people like me. I choose to spend time with them because we have similar values.” That may be the case in some instances, but most of the people that we say are our friends are our friends because we were thrown together and forced to spend time together. Most of our long time friends are from our school years. Or people who live near us. Or people we work with. A lot of our friends became friends because of geography rather than values. Think of certain mannerisms or phrases that you use with one friend and not another, then ask yourself “Did I get that from him or did he get that from me?” Even if you think that you are immune to the effects of social imprinting by your friends, then they could have just as easily got their behaviors, beliefs, likes and dislikes from you.

Since we are social creatures, and since we are susceptible to peer pressure, we should try to use peer pressure to our advantage. As responsible adults, it’s up to us to make sure we are associating with the good kids.


Look at me! Look at me! Look, over here! Look! Look!

distractionI talk frequently about setting your dream and vision in front of you. Make sure it is clearly written out, clearly imagined, clearly visible every day. A second important step is to eliminate distractions from your vision.

Distractions take your focus off of your vision and cause you to focus on something that is unimportant. Some distractions may be urgent, but they are rarely important. If they are not part of your long-term vision then they should be given about as much attention as a speed bump. Unfortunately some people live their lives by stopping their car every time they hit a speed bump. Then they get out of their car to yell at the speed bump. Then complain to their friends and family about how unfair the speed bump is. Then forget where they were going before they hit the speed bump.

Anyway, here are some distractions that can steal focus away from your vision:

Clutter. Okay, I’m guilty of this one. In my bedroom/office there are piles of stuff  that I don’t use often. I have drawers full of electrical cords that I don’t know what they are for (but which I can’t throw away because I might need them someday). I typically have stacks of papers, books, and unfolded clean laundry all over the place. Despite this, I am a firm believer that physical clutter transforms into mental clutter, and having a disorganized desk, room, or car translates into a disorganized mind in which your vision can be lost. I’d upload photos if I could find my camera….

Negative Influences. Some people are emotional sinkholes. The longer you can sustain a positive attitude, the easier it is for you to achieve in any area of life. Sometimes you need to surround yourself with people who replenish you, not people who deplete you. Take an emotional inventory sometime and determine which of your relationships are replenishing and which are depleting. Leadership guru John Maxwell says that the person you will become in the next five years will be determined by two things: the books you read and the people you associate with. Associate with people who share your vision or encourage your vision, not with small-minded people that would like to extinguish your light to make themselves shine brighter.

Habitual Activities. Some activities may relax you, and you may enjoy them, but they may take a lot of time away from your vision. Television is the first culprit that I always single out. I think most families would be closer if they would just kill their TVs. Internet games is new on my list of activities that will keep you from accomplishing anything of significance. Any time spent staring at a screen is usually time where your brain is virtually inactive (the one exception is reading highly informative and inspirational blogs…)

Overcoming the Past. There are two things that keep people from moving forward. One is past failures. Some people get slapped down once and never try again. The other is more insidious and that is past success. Some people try a few times, achieve moderate success, then sing their own praises to the detriment of any new success (Anybody remember Al Bundy from the hit show that I recommend nobody watch–Married With Children–where he always talks about the time he scored four touchdowns in one high school football game? Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Yes, you sound just like him when you talk about that one big moment of yours). The past is gone, the future is promised to no one, all you have is the present–so use it to move in the direction of your vision.

This is not an exhaustive list, but more a testimony of the major distractions in my life that I sometimes struggle with. Identify your own distractions and bad habits, then create a plan to cut them out of your life. What’s left behind is what’s truly important in your life.

What are your distractions? What would you be willing to eliminate from your life in order to live a more fulfilling life?

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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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Attack of the Crab People

crabsI’ve heard many different speakers and authors describe the phenomenon of crabs in a basket. If you put one crab into a basket, it will climb out. If you throw several crabs into a basket, then none of them are able to climb out. Because as one crab starts to climb, the other crabs grab hold of it and drag it back down to their level. A lot of us have social environments that are full of crab people.

My last post was about “mental inertia,” so let’s talk a little bit about “social inertia” (I thought I might have actually coined that phrase but as it turns out it already has a definition at reference.com).

You will rise or fall to about the same level as the people you spend the most time associating with. Your closest friends have the same hobbies, same level of education, probably close to the same incomes. So, you attempting to change any of these things may cause them to get crabby and drag you back down to their level. You are breaking habits when instead of going to watch a movie, you invite them all to a motivational seminar. You are defying tradition by going to night classes on financial planning, rather than going bowling with them on Thursday nights. And they might actually turn negative on you if you start making more money than everyone else.

Your friends might be thrilled to see you driving a brand new Mazda that you financed, but turn their noses up in disgust at your brand new Ferrari.

Not every peer group is like this, but I’m guessing this sounds familiar to a lot of people. The world is predominantly negative, so it stands to reason that most of your friends will be negative, too. Just be prepared, if you have a goal to grow and change your current circumstances, there is the possibility that you will have to separate yourself from the crab people.