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.

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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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The Secret of Steady

ImageExpounding on my comments from last week, the reason slow and steady wins the race is because of steady not because of slow. The only reason that slow is of any value is because it makes steady easier.

For example, I did some math because I’ve started running again recently and have been tracking my workouts using a free app called Runkeeper. My average walking pace is about 3.5 mph while my running (jogging) speed was about 5.8 mph. That’s only about a 67% increase between walking and running (sue me, I’m out of shape).

But the difference is, that after jogging for 20 or 30 minutes I’m tired, sweaty and sore. But 20 or 30 minutes of walking is essentially effortless. I haven’t broken a sweat, I’m not tired and I don’t have to worry about being sore in the morning.

That extra 67% of speed uses up 800% more energy (at this point I’m no longer using data from the app, I’m just making up numbers).

That’s why I’m such a big advocate of small, daily changes.

Small, daily changes that are easy to implement allow you to apply steady growth to your life. (tweet that)

And just like with walking, if you do it every day you would be amazed at how far you can go.

I wrote my first book in 15 minutes a day. I also gave myself the intentional limitation that I would not write for more than 15 minutes. So no one could accuse me of cheating.

When I wrote my second book, I finished a lot quicker because I didn’t handicap myself with a speed limit. Now that I’m on my third book, I realized that I’m way behind schedule. Because I allowed myself to become complacent, allowed myself to believe that I could make up skipped time by going fast. After all, missing four days of work at 15 minutes a day, you can make that up in one hour, right? Or if you fall behind two weeks, you can make that up on your next day off and just concentrate on writing for a full day of work, right?

All the chronic procrastinators know the answer to that…. NO.

We tend to over estimate what we can do quickly (my jogging pace is only 67% faster than my walking pace). We severely under estimate what we can accomplish slowly.

So yesterday, after not looking at my manuscript for a couple of weeks, I planned to use my my day off for a marathon writing session. It worked out about as well as running an actual marathon after a couple weeks of inactivity. I was sluggish, I was confused. I had a hard time making sense out of fragments of thoughts and sentences that I’m sure had a point when I started them a few weeks back.

The bottom line is, I need to once again practice what I teach. I need to get back to my 15 minute habit. Walk every day and run when I can. Stop allowing myself to get out of shape.

Slow, steady growth:

  • Is easy to maintain on a daily basis
  • Keeps your momentum going in the right direction
  • Keeps you limber so you don’t pull a groin muscle

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. ~Chinese Proverb


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How Do You Like Them Tomatoes?

When I was in elementary school we had a garden (interesting side note, no matter what you plant in Hawaii you will yield mostly eggplant). My dad took care of it and I, being a kid, I carefully avoided it. From high school until today I’ve only lived in a town house with no lawn space, and have had no particular interest in potted plants so I’ve never grown anything.

A few years back I had the urge to start an herb garden (when I had a turkey and basil leaf sandwich that was really good). And since I haven’t had a normal 9 to 5 job in quite a while, a few months ago I thought I’d try it out. I got some plastic trays, some soil, some seeds and started flexing my farming muscles.

Basil is easy to grow, so those seeds sprouted quickly. Then I decided that fresh basil tastes gross and let them die.

I planted some Rosemary seeds, most of which never broke the soil surface. When one of them finally did I was overjoyed. My next discovery was that a kitten will eat a newly sprouted Rosemary plant right down to the roots.

That brings us to today. Check out my tomato plant:

Not bad for someone that never grew anything in his life. When I actually get my first tomato, expect a five-part blog detailing the process from harvest to sandwich-eating.

Why am I rambling about my mini-garden? Here, I’ll quote from David Schwartz in The Magic of Thinking Big.

Most of us have friends who grow things for a hobby. And we’ve all heard them say something like “It’s exciting to watch those plants grow.”

I’ve read this book several times before but glossed over that section because I never had any personal experience with it. In this particular season of my life though, it was pertinent to me so it jumped out at me.

Now let’s take a look at the next paragraph (of the book and my blog)

To be sure, it is thrilling to watch what can happen when men cooperate with nature. But it is not one-tenth as fascinating as watching yourself respond to your own carefully administered thought management program. It’s fun to feel yourself growing more confident, more effective, more successful day-by-day, month-by-month.

Here are my insights taken from my recent experiences in farming and reading:

  • First, Dr. Schwartz sums up nicely the reason that I am so passionate about personal growth. It’s fun. It’s challenging. And when you are growing yourself, it is significantly more rewarding than having a fresh tomato. (See my past blog on Always Choose Growth)
  • Second, you should always re-read books in your success library. Certain phrases and principles will speak to you more strongly in different phases of your own life. Compare what you highlight in a book today to what “college-You” highlighted the first time you read it. It’s a great yardstick to see how much you’ve grown.
  • Third, great things come from tiny seeds (I mean, just look at that photo! That plant is like 5 cats tall!) Metaphorically, words are seeds. Ideas are seeds. Thoughts are seeds. My life’s ambition is to spend it planting good seed and yielding a great harvest in the form of adding value to people’s lives.
  • Fourth, good seed is timeless. This book was written in 1959, but the wisdom in it is as valuable today as it was then. So is the wisdom found in the Bible. Seeds discovered in Egyptian tombs were found to still be viable after thousands of years. The same is true for principles of success. Policies change. Techniques change. Popularity is fickle. Principles endure.

These points seem a bit scattered to me, so let me try to bring them all into focus with a few questions:

Do you have principles in your life that you value? Of course, everyone does.

What are you doing to reinforce those principles in your life? In your child’s life?

What good seeds can you plant now to yield a great harvest in the future?


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Always Choose Growth

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Consider two farmers. Farmer John has a thousand acres of land that he inherited. But because he neglected his crops throughout the year, his harvest wasn’t quite enough to cover his expenses, so at the end of the year he sells one acre of his land to farmer Mike. Farmer Mike only has twenty acres of land, but because he produced a bountiful crop, at the end of the year, he used his extra cash to buy another acre from Farmer John.

Which farmer would you say is a better influence on young, impressionable, farmers-in-training? Farmer Mike, right? Go back and read the last paragraph if you forgot which farmer is which.

Even though Farmer John is worth 50 times more, everyone wants to be a farmer, own a business, or play basketball like Farmer Mike. That’s because of the success principle: “where you are is not nearly as important as where you are going.”

We really only have two options. Growth or decline. Stasis is a myth. If you are not moving, you are like water that is not moving. You become stagnant. If you do not use muscles, they atrophy. If you do not use your brain in a regular and stimulating way, it begins to decay.

When we are infants, every experience in life is brand-new. Every muscle movement, every sensory input and every emotion is something that we are learning for the first time. As youngsters, we are placed in an environment where we are assigned reading, math, history. We are learning through our school years. Even when we get a new job, we need to learn new skills, new routines, a new driving route. When we stop learning, we start losing our mental edge. We get bored. We get lazy. That is when we start getting older.

That is why even though Farmer John is worth 50 times more than farmer Mike, we view Mike as the more successful of the two.

Always choose growth. As an adult you have to be intentional about your own growth, since nobody is assigning you learning material anymore. No matter how dismal your current circumstances, if you’re always in the process of growing, you are more successful than someone with much more money that is stagnating.

Stop staring at your feet, start staring at the horizon. <– Tweet that.

What are you doing today, to grow you to a new level a year from now?


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Put The Man Back Together

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I’ve heard this story several times in several variations:

An executive is busy working in his home office when his 6-year-old son comes in and starts asking him to play. After much persistence followed by much frustration, the exec pulls out a magazine and opens it to a large fold-out map of the world. Pulling out the map, he cuts it into hundreds of tiny pieces and gives them to his son. “here, son, after you put together this map of the world, then I’ll play with you.” Knowing that a 6-year-old has no idea what a map of the world looks like, he assumed that this task should keep his son busy for at least a couple hours. But ten minutes later his son came back into the office and said “All done, daddy.” The executive thought his son was exaggerating, but upon going into the living room, the entire map was perfectly assembled. “Son, how on Earth did you figure out how to do this so quickly?” “It was easy, Daddy.” the boy began turning over the pieces one at a time, and as he did, his father saw that on the other side of the world map was a photograph of a man. “You see, Daddy. When you put the man together the whole world falls into place.” (that’s profound, you should totally tweet that).

I have a vision to positively impact peoples lives. To help “put the man back together,” so that the world falls into place. Well, women too, but let’s face it men need more work.

I’m not passionate about much, but I am passionate about personal growth. I’m a firm believer in changing the world through changing the individual. But the only individual that I have complete responsibility and control over is myself.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

To be the person I want to be requires progressive, persistent, personal growth. I want to make sure that I am prepared when an opportunity arises to positively impact someone. The only way for me to be prepared is to be always preparing and learning.

I read every day to grow myself, so that I can also write every day and hopefully lift up others. I also hope that in my day to day meanderings through life that I can uplift those around me. I also encourage others to begin their own journey of personal growth.

Always be learning.

Always be growing.

An unwillingness to learn and grow does not equal “stasis” it equals “deterioration.”

Even Leonardo da Vinci, probably the single most talented human ever (if that is indeed what he was) was continually learning new skills, new fields, new methods. He wrote “Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

If you are not moving forward, you are falling backwards. Physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally. It’s not your fault, it’s the universal law of entropy working against you.

There comes a time in every parents life when they can no longer help their kids with homework. Here’s a news flash for you: That’s only partially because the child is progressing.

Invest 15 minutes into improving yourself every day in some way. In some way that is in line with your personal vision for yourself or your family.

What is something specific in your life that you would like to improve upon?