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

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What Does YOLO Mean To You?

yoloFor those of you close to my age, let me first tell you what YOLO means. It’s one of those cool acronyms that the youngsters use nowadays instead of speaking in sentences. It stands for “You only live once.”

So, let me ask you again, what does YOLO mean to you?

For many of those same youngsters it means to live life with complete irresponsibility. Have fun. Live for the now. Don’t concern yourself with the future. Be a pleasure seeker. Live with abandon. In other words YOLO is an excuse to behave like an idiot in the name of Carpe Diem.

Responsibility is the sign of our transition from childhood to adulthood. And that transition seems to be taking longer and starting later. I didn’t care much for the movie Fight Club, but one line that stood out to me was when Brad Pitt described men as “little boys trapped in thirty year old bodies.”

It seems like the age at which we are considered adults is getting older and older.

Before it sounds like I’m pointing fingers at Generation Y, let me just say that I don’t blame them. I blame the adults. I blame the culture that they were brought up in.

Parents coddle children, thinking that making their kids’ lives easier makes them better parents. If you grew up in the 1800’s you were probably expected to go out on your land with a musket and kill something for dinner by the time you were nine. In contrast, to demonstrate how helpless society thinks children are now, last month a woman was arrested for allowing her nine year old daughter to play at a park unattended. (I am not making this up).

ponyHere’s an example of the type of expectations that we used to have for young people when we were a brand new, barely civilized country.

This is an actual employment flier for the Pony Express. They wanted young men because the horses could travel further with boys than with adults, and some of the runs were over 300 miles. Expert riders willing to risk death because there were still many hostile Indian tribes that would kill unaccompanied, white minors to take their horses. Orphans preferred so that they wouldn’t be missed by a grieving mother.

Today, peanut butter is illegal in most cafeterias because of potential allergies.

Our expectations for our youth has dropped so incredibly low.

Some might argue that those were primitive times, when people lived in hardship and were expected to live by their physical prowess. We are a more sophisticated generation, much more educationally enlightened, using our brains rather than our bodies.

Really? I’m willing to bet that most graduates of a public university today could not pass the entrance exam for public high school in 1912. Back then, you had to qualify to get in to high school. Today you are arrested for truancy if you don’t go. Here are some sample questions from an eighth grade school examination for the Bullitt County Board of Education in Shepherdsville, Kentucky from 1912:

  • Arithmetic: How many steps 2 feet 4 inches each, will a man take in walking 2 1/4 miles?
  • Grammar: How many parts of speech are there? Define each.
  • Geography: Name and give the capitals of States touching the Ohio River.
  • Physiology: How does the liver compare in size with other glands in the human body? Where is it located? What does it secrete?
  • Civil Government: Define the following forms of government: Democracy, Limited Monarchy, Absolute Monarchy, Republic. Give examples of each.
  • History: Who first discovered the following places – Florida, Pacific Ocean, Mississippi River, St. Lawrence River

How did you do? You can try the rest of the test here if you like.

We learn less though we are required to spend more time in school. We attempt less though we have so much more opportunity. We achieve less though we start with so much more abundance. And some idiot yells YOLO as if shotgunning a beer were some kind of accomplishment.

So here is my message to the young (and old) people of today.

If you don’t feel that your government, your school or even your parents expect great things out of you, then expect greatness of yourself.

You only live once, so take responsibility for your life. You only live once, so recognize that your actions today influence the direction of your life tomorrow. You only live once, so be respectful to others and don’t utter hateful words that will damage relationships. You only live once, so treat your body like you plan to wear it for a long time. You only live once, so stop waiting for someone else to provide you with your life. You only live once, so always strive towards greatness. You only live once, so don’t give up on any worthwhile endeavor. You only live once, so live your life with purpose. You only live once, so live today how you want to be remembered when you are gone.

You only live once, so don’t do stupid things that will be caught on video and get you fired tomorrow.

So, what does YOLO mean to you?

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Success is Based on Luck, Just Ask Any Failure

luckResponsibility is a sign of maturity, and taking responsibility for your actions or inaction is the first essential step towards any sort of growth. As long as we blame our lives on circumstance beyond our control, we are living the life that someone else has designed for us. Once you accept that your life–and everything else in the universe–is a result of cause and effect, you can start initiating the causes that trigger the proper effects.

If you continue to blame other people, other conditions, the alignment of the stars on your problems, you are not only denying yourself the ability to improve your own circumstances, you’re also denying the basic physical laws of cause and effect.

Remember: change, growth, healing, success. All these things are easier if you have the universe on your side instead of working against you.


My Cup of Tea is Stronger Than Your Cup of Tea

It’s time for a new feature I think I’ll call Simile Day.

“A person is like a bag of tea; you find out what is inside of them when they are placed in hot water.”ImageIt’s easy to be calm and impressive when you are well fed and groomed and comfortable. It’s altogether different in a crisis situation.

Will you panic, will you sell out, will you give in to temptation? Or will you stand strong and stick to your principles when you are under pressure? That’s a question that haunts some of us. What us my true character? Will I stand true to my convictions when it would be easier to fold?

The thing about the tea bag though, is that it is not mystery tea from some magical village. We are very familiar with the tea bag. We take care of it on a daily basis. We control the content of what is allowed to be put in there.

Take responsibility for the seeds that get sown into your mind, by controlling what you watch, who you listen to, what you do. You develop your character, it is not developed for you by tea growers in China. This is the subject of my next book. It’s not about developing your skills or personality, but your character.

Your character is who you are behind closed doors, what you do when no one will find out, how you behave when it will not hurt your reputation. Your character is what is exposed when you are put in hot water.

Maybe sometimes you feel that society places too much importance on talents, skills, reputation; and not enough on recognizing character. I’d like to see a generation of people that are taught about substance over glamor, content over packaging, character over reputation.

So that’s what I’m writing about for the subject of my next book. I’ve also been tweeting about character all this week (which should have society back in alignment in no time!). The book is scheduled for release in July of 2013. The title is TBA; I know what it will be, I’m just not announcing it publicly yet. I am coy that way.

Last couple of questions to ponder:

1. Which do you think is more important: character or talent?

2. When is the last time you complimented someone on their character Vs. their talent?

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Instant Gratification Kills Discipline

Regarding my last article on Stanford and Marshmallows, there was a fairly unscientific follow-up study done of the 4 to 6 year old children that were tempted with the promise of marshmallows. Those that demonstrated the ability as a child to defer gratification, later in life were described as “adolescents who were significantly more competent,” and had higher SAT scores.

I doubt this surprises anyone. After all, the ability to delay gratification is indicative of discipline. Short term thinking is the hallmark of a child. Longterm thinking is a sign of maturity and discipline.

Unfortunately, self-discipline is a rare commodity these days. There are several culprits you could blame for Americans being lazy and undisciplined. Certainly our wealth makes us much lazier than the old days when me and my boys would have to trap, shoot, and kill our own food. In this world of instant coffee, spray-on tans, microwave dinners and movies on demand, we have been conditioned to believe that we can have anything that we want right now.

But I think the main factor, not just in making Americans lazy, but also threatening our very freedom is the villain known as credit.

In the old days, when you wanted a new luxury item like a brand new automobile, you would set aside some money on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Then when you had saved up enough money for that automobile, you would buy it and drive it home.

Enter the world of credit. There was a time when credit was a personal arrangement between a merchant and the customer. Banks commercialized credit making it available to virtually everyone. Suddenly people could play now and pay later. Sure, I can’t afford the car, but I can afford the payment, therefore I can have it now (and instantly lose $10,000 in future earnings).

The reason so many people are struggling with debt and finances is because they are paying today for stuff that they bought months and years ago. We’ve been scarfing down marshmallows without paying the cost (that is a metaphor, although if it were actually the case it would explain why many Americans are fat in addition to lazy).

If you are struggling with finances, here is a helpful video that should help you.



Why I Love Superheroes


I readily admit that I am something of a nerd. I love comic book superheroes. I loved them before the relatively recent flood of actual good superhero movies. I was a nerd, before it was cool to be a nerd (and I’m not sure if that makes me more cool, or more nerdy).

I finally figured out the reason why I love superheroes, and why I would like to be one. It wasn’t that I wanted to fly, be super strong or shoot lasers from my eyes (although that would be cool). The first reason, is because when I see an injustice I would like to have the power to do something about it. That’s why I wanted to take Karate lessons when I was a kid, so I could protect people from bullies. Well, and protect myself; Remember: nerd. Even today, if I saw someone get attacked I would probably (and stupidly) put myself into harm’s way.

But also, superheroes inspire other people. The best scene in Spider-Man 2 was when our hero stops that runaway train from crashing and that car full of passengers see that he’s just a kid under the mask. When Doc Ock returns to capture him, all those people who were previously defenseless passengers stand up against the super-villain. Of course, they prove about as effective as me with my purple belt in the 5th grade, but still it was an inspiring scene.

Now watch as I make a smooth transition…

In my book, I wrote a section on the power of words. Words have power. A few spoken words can bless or haunt your children for the rest of their lives. The words you use can be postive or negative. Words can spread love or hate. Words have the power to create and destroy. You can speak words of life or you can speak words of death. And in this Information Age, words spread with greater speed and force than ever before. Everyone has the potential for incredible power today.

That’s why I try to be responsible with my choice of words, because I want to use what power I have to uplift and inspire people. Remember, “with great power comes great responsibility.”