15 Minutes

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


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Carefully Plot Your Inspiration

inspireWhat inspires you? It’s different for everyone. Even though I am an artist I am very much a left-brain thinker (logical, literal). Music doesn’t do a thing for me. It does not touch me emotionally like it does with some people. Same with most artwork. I can appreciate art for it’s technical mastery, but looking at a painting has never caused me to react emotionally.

Since I think logically and tend to intellectualize things, I am inspired by the written word. Posters with phrases to motivate and inspire; those work on me. A really good tweet will inspire me. A story, an epic quest, a victory against all odds.  Movies inspire me, if they have a good message and end with victory (that’s why I can’t stand Chinese Kung-Fu Tragedies).

Why am I talking about inspiration today? Because we can be intentional about inspiring ourselves. Since we know the things that inspire us to be more or do more, why don’t we surround ourselves with inspiration?

I’m currently writing a chapter on Environment (your personal environment, not the rainforests), and thinking about what you can do to create an environment that is conducive to success. Motivation is something that can come from within. Inspiration by definition comes from another source.

But if we want to create an environment that instills us with confidence and inspiration, all we have to do us surround ourselves with inspiring things.

So let me ask you once again: what inspires you?

If you are inspired by a photo, a phrase, a quote, or a movie poster, do you have one in your bedroom? Bathroom? Kitchen? Cubicle?

If you are inspired by a song, have you changed your ringtone to it yet? Do you wake up in the morning to that song as your alarm? (if you don’t know how to do that with your phone, find a kid to do it for you).

If you are inspired by the color blue, then paint your house blue. Get blue-tinted sunglasses so that the whole world is shades of blue.

By changing your environment, you can be purposeful about being inspired. Develop an environment that emotionally drives you in the direction you want to go. Rather than wait for inspiration to sneak up and bite you, go get your inspiration; immerse yourself in it, smear it all over your life so you cannot escape it.

So one last time: What inspires you? And if I walked into your home, would I be able to tell?

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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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Lessons to Unlearn from School, part II

chalkboard_box

Think inside the box

Remember what I said in part 1 about the goal of public schools? Reminder: It’s to create complacent followers not independent thinkers. To teach students what to think, rather than how to think.

Recollecting your school days, have you ever tried to push a project or assignment beyond the parameters of the lesson plan? And been punished for it? More often than not, it’s because the teacher is not qualified to teach outside of their box. They are certainly not incentivized by their government bureaucrat bosses to explore lessons outside that box. And besides, most teachers are the ones that memorized the contents of that box better than everyone else (“A” students wind up teaching…). Their job is to teach the box.

Back in one of my jobs as a barista, I worked with a lot of college students. One of them (attending public university) was showing me a list of available topics for her final paper. Along with each topic was: the thesis of the paper, a list of all the points that must be included to support the thesis, and the conclusion she must end with (I only wish I were making this up). In other words, these students were not being required to come up with their own thesis, analyze data and come to their own conclusions. They were being required to parrot back their professor’s opinions in order to get an “A.”

When I asked her “what if you disagree with your professor’s conclusion?” she didn’t really have an answer. To be honest, when I was her age I wouldn’t have had an answer to that either.

In public schools, conformity assures passing grades. Thinking outside the box will almost assuredly damage your academic record (unless your teacher is Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society). In the real world, conformity destroys individual initiative. And initiative is infinitely more valuable in the real world than conformity.


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A New 15 Minutes

My book It Takes 15 Minutes to Change Your Life, is about improving your life in various areas (financial, personal, spiritual) through the investment of 15-minute blocks of time, repeated daily. Since publishing it and shedding my job it really has changed my life significantly. It used to be I was a full-time employee, using my spare time to promote my business, then with 15-minutes every day, working on becoming an author. Now my full-time job is divided between: promoting myself as an author, writing book number two, and promoting my business, using my spare time to act, but I still intend to devote 15 minutes to some task or project to improve myself in some way.

Currently, I’m spending 15-minutes a day cleaning and organizing. Over the years, I’ve allowed myself to become something of a slob. Not quite as bad as some of those “hoarder” reality shows I’ve seen commercials for, but a detailed list of just the stuff I threw out of my bedroom could have been enough material for a second book. Now, I still have a long way to go, but just in the past two weeks, I’ve actually managed to clear out enough space for a home office, with an actual desk and chair and places for files. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me, and here’s why: My entire first book was written almost entirely away from home because there was too much clutter and distractions (I did most of my writing at work or I would actually have to drive to a coffee shop just to write for 15 minutes). Now, with an actual office space, I can write at home, which saves me the time it takes to leave the house to find a safe writing spot.

Which gives me back an extra 15-minute block of time to work with. Funny how that works, success begets success. Even in little things.

What is something in your life that you can devote 15-minutes a day to developing or improving?