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


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survival… Stability. Success! SIGNIFICANCE

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Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, part 3

Let me ask you a question. “How are you doing?” I await your normal, conditioned response.

Now, let me lean in uncomfortably close and lower my voice an octave and ask you again in a conspiratorial tone “How are you really doing?” Instead of just answering “fine, ok, not bad” I want you to place yourself into one of four categories.

Survival
Stability
Success
Significance

Now let me ask you again. How are your finances? How is your marriage? How is your health? How is your spiritual journey? How is your daily pursuit of joy and happiness?

survivalMaybe you feel like you are in Survival mode – fighting every day just to keep living. Either you claw, scratch and fight to escape from that condition or you’ve given up to despair and lost all hope. Nobody wants to stay in Survival mode. It’s unacceptable to the individual and unacceptable to society.

I think like most people, you’ll find yourself in Stability mode in most areas of life. That’s how we end up with the “fine, ok, not bad” answer. The vast majority of people in industrialized countries live in a state of Stability. Because that is the lowest acceptable level not just for yourself but for society. The trap though, is that once your life is in a state of Stability, there is no pressing need to keep fighting to climb higher. Only a small percentage of people take advantage of stabletheir blessings, their skills, their opportunities to move from Stability to Success. These are the go-getters, the achievers. And unfortunately they are rare. Even rarer still are those that seek to move into the level of Significance.

Most people do not seek out success principles to apply to their life because their lives are Stable. They are comfortable. They will not take any action to improve their life until after they are hit by some adversity that threatens to drop them back to Survival mode.

They begin digging their well once they see the drought is imminent.

And then their comfortable, complacent lives are disrupted. It’s like they suddenly forget that life goes through cycles; through good times, through bad; for better or for worse. And for those that spend their lives comfortably parked in Stability mode, downward pressure from circumstances – a low cycle – forces them into Survival mode. And humans are at their ugliest and most desperate when they are forced to fight to survive.

It’s like depriving someone of oxygen. We do not concern ourselves from day to day with whether or not we have enough air to breathe. If I hold your head under water, it might seem amusing for a few seconds. If you trust me, you may wait until 30 seconds pass before trying to push my hand away from your head. After 45 seconds you will begin panicking and struggling. After 60 seconds you will thrash wildly and be unable to think of anything except for breathing. After 90 seconds you will do anything humanly possible just to be able to breathe. You will kick, gouge my eyes, even take my life just to get some oxygen.

Humans are at their ugliest and most desperate when they are focused only on survival.

So for those of you who are “fine, ok, not bad,” I’m going to tell you a few things that nobody has ever told you before.

Staying in Stability mode is short-sighted. When the drought comes, those people that have spent their whole lives maintaining a stable lifestyle are the least equipped to claw their way out of the pit. Successful people bounce back quicker and Significant people help pull others less fortunate out of those pits.

Staying in Stability mode is selfish. If one day you are not thirsty, you know someone that will be. If you are just in Stability mode, you have just enough water for your own family. Stable people rarely can or will be able to help those struggling to survive. When you become a Success, the overflow from your bucket provides water for everyone around you. If you are a person of Significance, you have multiple wells that many people draw from.

successThat success overflows to others is obvious with financial prosperity but not limited to it. If you have a strong marriage, you are better able to help a friend that is struggling in his own marriage. If your marriage is only Stable you have less capacity to help. Usually the only thing you can offer is sympathy. If you have strong faith, you have a greater capacity to minister to someone that is going through their own crisis of faith. If you have a strong, positive attitude you are better equipped to bolster someone else that is depressed.

Or you can get by. Concern yourself with your own stability. Be “fine, ok, not bad.”

I end all my books with the same sentence. Be blessed in all things. By being blessed you can also be a blessing to others. When your needs are fulfilled and you have no worries about being able to continue to fulfill them, you can focus on the needs of others.

That’s my goal. To encourage you to move out of a place of Stability. To goad you towards Success and Significance. To force you to address the questions “why should I do anything different?” “why should I try to be a success?” “why shouldn’t I be content to be average?”

Because there is a drought coming.

There are two primary motivating forces in the world. Some people are motivated by positive and some by negative. The carrot or the stick. The dream or the nightmare. Most authors of motivational books focus on positive thoughts and statements to encourage you to chase your dreams. I am here telling you that there is a nightmare coming. I want to instill a sense of urgency into your life to compel you to action.

So, let me ask you again. “How are you doing?”

And if your answer is, “I could or should be doing better,” then let’s explore how we can do better.

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A Drought Is Coming

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, part 2

cosineAll things in existence go through cycles. Economies rise and fall. Technological innovations come in waves. Relationships and moods go through ups and downs. Your health can be robust and then falter. Your faith can be strong and then waiver. There is abundance, then there is drought and famine.

When you go through the low cycles, the valleys of life, through times of drought; it will either be a mere inconvenience or a life-altering tragedy. It all depends on how prepared you are.

I don’t make promises lightly, but I will promise that some day there will be a drought of some sort in your life. Whether or not that drought leads to lack is dependent on how deep of a well you have already dug. When there is lack in some area of your life it leads to discomfort and pain. Pain leads to conflict because hurting people hurt others. Sometimes it leads to death. desert

There will be an emergency, a disaster, a crisis in some area of your life. How prepared are you? How deep is your well? Do you even have one? Which well have you been spending all your time and effort digging? Is it the important one? Despite what some motivational speakers may tell you, sometimes there is a “too late.”

It is too late to start training for a fight once you step through the ropes (or once you step into the cage for my younger readers). It’s too late to study for the test once you sit down with your blue book and your number two pencil. It’s too late to gather nuts for the winter during the blizzard.

Those are frivolous examples that all of us can relate to but don’t make much of an impact. Think on these situations and see if these strike an emotional chord.

It’s too late to start getting your financial house in order after you’ve been laid off and your family is being evicted from your home.

It’s too late to start exercising and eating right when you are under anesthesia and about to have open heart surgery.

It’s too late to express to your wife how much you love her after she consummates an affair.

It’s too late to share the gospel of Christ with your best friend after he dies of a drug overdose.

Most people live with the naïve conceit that this will never happen to them. Remember that promise I made you?

A drought will come.

It’s the cyclical nature of the universe.

So why am I filling your mind with all of these doom and gloom prophecies? Because I am trying to provoke an emotional response in you, to motivate you to do something beyond just getting by. I am trying to make you aware of the very real nightmare that exists just one drought away. Because if the promise of a carrot – of abundance and health and happiness – is not enough to get you to do something to prepare for your life, then maybe threatening with a stick will work. lateMore next week.


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Dig Your Well(S) Before You’re Thirsty

“Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” digwell

This is a statement that I have heard many times from numerous motivational speakers, business leaders, coaches and salesmen through the years. It is a common sense statement that is not commonly observed—like most common sense. I like the metaphor of digging a well for three reasons.

First, even in our industrialized western civilization we know what a well looks like because we’ve seen them in movies. Wells are deep. Digging a well is hard work and takes a long time. It is a major investment of time and labor to dig a well. You don’t get to take a drink of water from your well at the end of your first day of digging. Or your first week. It takes months of hard work before you get anything at all for your labor. It is a vivid example of the Law of Delayed Gratification.

Second, once a well is dug, it provides water not just for the rest of your life but possibly for generations of people after you. Once the well is dug, you can continue to draw water out of it seemingly indefinitely. It’s not like gathering nuts for the winter where every nut you store equals one future nut you can eat. Each hour spent digging doesn’t provide you with X number of gallons of future drinking water. Digging a well, and completing it, taps into a vast supply of water that can keep you sated without having to keep digging from season to season. It’s a clear example of the Law of Increasing Returns.

Third, water is vital for life. Everyone realizes that if you wait until you are thirsty before you start digging your well, you will die. I don’t think this is indicative of any particular law of success, but it is a reminder of the urgency of preparing now for the future.

Because eventually there will be a drought.

When a speaker or author invokes the Dig Your Well aphorism, it is used most often as a warning to take care of your finances. Save for a rainy day, keep some dollars stashed away for emergencies, contribute to your 401K, buy my success seminar.

This is because most people spend the majority of their lives earning money. There is nothing wrong with being financially secure. In fact there is nothing wrong with being downright wealthy. But don’t be like the Hollywood cliché of the businessman who allows money to become his idol; who pursues it to the exclusion of all else in his life. He may have a deep, flowing financial well but a very shallow life.

I contend that this statement, dig your well before you’re thirsty, is applicable to every area of your life not just your financial statement. That there are many aspects of your life that can and should be insured against disaster. There are other wells that need to be dug before the eventual drought comes.

You have a marriage well. You have a health well. You have a faith well. You have an attitude well. You have a personal development well.

Being able to provide for yourself financially is not an adequate substitute for a deep spiritual well when you have a crisis of faith. It will not help you to salvage an estranged relationship with your spouse if you have allowed the marriage well to run dry. Especially if your focused dedication to chasing after wealth is what caused the rift to begin with. Nearly every wealthy man on his death bed would gladly trade all his riches for another day of health. How many executives do you know who have traded their health for their career? Traded their relationships with their families? Traded their spiritual faith? How many people have dug so long and so hard in their financial well that they no longer have any joy in their life?

thirstThey spent their lives digging a financial well and found themselves unprepared for drought in another area of their lives.

Perhaps some of your other wells have been neglected. Maybe some of them you haven’t even begun to dig. Some of them have been poisoned by your neighbors. The reason there are so many unhappy people, so many marriages ending in divorce, so many people falling out of God’s favor—so much violence, hopelessness and despair—is because there are so many people that are thirsty.

What are you doing today so that you, your family, and your descendants will not be thirsty?


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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?

 


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Breathe Like It’s 1999

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I did something the other night that I’ve never done before. I went outside to get some fresh air. Now, I have been outside before. And I have also breathed air while I was outside. And while I have no direct scientific evidence to prove it, I’m sure a case could be made that the outside air was indeed fresher than the inside air. But this evening I actually went outside for the sole purpose of breathing.

Everyone has probably been told by some adult figure to go outside and get some fresh air. Especially my generation, since the personal computer became mainstream as I was growing up and nerdism became an epidemic.

But that was always advice I never took. Unless it became an order to get out of the house, in which case I sat outside pining for my Apple IIC, not getting any appreciation out of the air.

So what prompted this sudden desire to go outside and breathe? I just finished reading The Science of Being Well, by Wallace Wattles (who also wrote the Science of Getting Rich and The Science of Being Great). The more books I read, the more convinced I become that everything was already discovered thousands of years ago. For example, millions of people were so impressed by that book The Secret, since it was recommended by Oprah Winfrey (full disclosure: I’ve never read it) even though from what I understand it’s essentially the same ideas presented by Napolean Hill in his breakthrough book Think and Grow Rich (read it). Which in turn was mostly information covered by The Science of Getting Rich by Wattles in 1901.

Just like The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach was really a new version of The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason from 1926. For those of you that read my book, in the Foreword I cover the fact that I don’t have any new ideas.

But getting back on point, Wattle talks about the idea of exercise and how we shouldn’t exercise for the sake of exercise. One of the things that we should learn to appreciate and enjoy on a daily basis is breathing. Straighten your spine, put your shoulders back, lift your head and inhale. Learn to appreciate breathing for the sake of breathing. Let it become a habit throughout the course of your day to straighten up, breathe deeply, and let the oxygen replenish your body. This will benefit your posture, your circulation, your core muscles, your energy level and your general appreciation of all things air.

And this was from 1901, before aerobics and cardio classes. Of course yogis have been teaching the importance of breathing for thousands of years before this, so like I said, no new ideas…

Appreciate breathing. If you can’t appreciate breath, have a friend hold you underwater for a while. You’ll appreciate breath.

What other simple things can we learn to appreciate more that will benefit our health?