Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Problem with Self-Help

It seems everywhere you turn these days, someone is trying to help you help yourself - with either rah-rah infomercials or "You Can Do It" blogs. Here are a few problems I see with these:

How much time and money are you spending on these products?

Think about what you could accomplish in the time you expended constantly reading self-help blogs and ebooks online? Think about what you could do with the money you spent on purchasing products from these gurus. You could save it up and buy some weights, if your goal is go become more fit.

Monday, January 26, 2015

8 Minor Adjustments to Maximize Productivity Towards Your Ultimate Goal

I don't think an entire blog needs to be dedicated to changing your daily life.  I think you can get the point across in a single post or two.  Once you have a handle on it, you should be able to assess your own life and optimize your actions - no further blog reading or research necessary on how to maximize the time in your day.  So . . .
Each morning offers the opportunity to start fresh . . . a new beginning, a clean slate.  Many people wake up and immediately begin to stress and dread about what they have to do that day.  That mentality sets the stage for an unorganized, unproductive day.  Others use the morning to plan out tasks they intend to accomplish that day to help them reach their ultimate goal.  That small difference can have an extraordinary compounding effect and create a drastic advantage for that person over others.  For a quick analysis of how little changes can make a big difference, check out a previous post comparing Al and Joe and the differences in their routines.

Making slight adjustments each day can create the foundation for a healthier, more productive life, set you up to ultimately achieve your goal, and pay dividends in your future.  Below are 8 suggestions for maximizing your time each day:

1. Workout in the morning

Planning to workout in the morning can mean an improved chance that you actually do workout that day. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Like Billy Beane Playing Small-Stakes Poker

Small-Stakes Texas Hold 'Em is based on a series of bets that are capped after three rounds of betting.  For example, the first round of betting, after the cards are dealt in a $3-$6 game, requires a $3 bet, nothing more, nothing less.  After subsequent cards are turned (the 'flop', the 'turn', and the 'river'), betting is capped at $6 per round. 

These betting rules play a significant role in strategy and have a tremendous psychological effect on

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Day in the Life of Ambitious Al . . .

. . . and his friend, Regular Joe.

Ambitious Al and Regular Joe are friends and coworkers at Wilde, Guess & Co. an investment bank in Chicago.  Both are well-educated, intelligent individuals.  In fact, Joe ranked higher in his graduating class than Al.  Joe talks about becoming a VP and hitting it big time, but talk is what he does best.  Al, more reserved, is goal oriented and, after moving as high as he can at WG&C, plans to open his own hedge fund.  Let's take a look at how each spends his day, while tracking the hours each productively works towards their own individual goals:

5:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m.: 
Al: Wakes up, stretches, and heads to the gym. (1 productive hour - healthy body is the foundation of a healthy mind!; 1 hour cumulative)
Joe:  Sleeping. (0 productive hours; 0 hours cumulative)

6:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m.
Al:  Heads back from the gym, cools down,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Roots of Laziness

"All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today."

-Pope Paul VI

Laziness is innate; it was a necessary trait for survival from our distant ancient ancestors.  In Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, early hunter-gatherers would constantly – and probably unconsciously - weighed the risk-reward of their expeditions, with the goal of obtaining the most calories for as little effort as possible. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Art of Discipline

"We must all suffer one of two things:  the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment."
-Jim Rohn

Attaining success requires discipline - no surprise to anyone.  Sidenote:  I'm a big advocate of definitions as too many discussions have lacked resolution and too many articles have left the reader confused by not properly defining the parameters of the subject under consideration.  "He has too much talent!"  "She just got lucky!", etc.  Talent?  Luck? 

So, what does "discipline" mean?  One dictionary.com definition defines "discipline" as:  "activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training."  This is the definition we are going to use.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Success: One Man's Definition

Success is personal fulfillment.  It doesn't need to be flaunted or advertised or even noticed by others for it to matter.  It can be a goal to become the next Michael Jordan, Warren Buffett, or super-dad.  To play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix or to be the first of your family to graduate from college.  Success is how you perceive your own life - not how the outside world perceives it and especially not how much money and material goods you can accumulate.  This isn't just a rah-rah cliché - it's the facts.  Ask people who you perceive to be successful about how they reached that level.  Research what people did before they became famous.  I guarantee you that you will find a common thread between their stories.  They didn't do it for the money, they did it because of their love of the pursuit of excellence in their chosen field. 

To begin, I have come to believe that four categories of people exist as it pertains to success:

1)  Those who achieve success and stay on top.  These rare people are "bred" for success - they are brought up from day one training toward a certain goal or who somehow recognize the opportunity early on and have the wherewithal to seize it.  They also accumulate the life skills required to stay on top.  These people may have been guided by a parent or mentor from an early age, but the passion to succeed in their chosen field came from within.  They somehow recognized an opportunity and seized it.  Examples may include:  Warren Buffett, Beethoven, Michael Jordan
2)  Those who reach success, but eventually fall from grace.  They have the technical skill acquired from just enough effort to be able to reach a certain level, but they do not have the mental fortitude to stay on top and, therefore, eventually sink back to the realms of the regular Joe – or worse.  These people may have been pushed beyond their limits by a parent to participate in some activity as a child, without possessing an actual passion for that activity.  Or, they may have lost their senses and control of their own life to a non-desirable trait, like greed or envy or addiction. Examples may include:  Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf; One hit wonder artists; Tiger Woods, to some extent; Bernie Maddoff.
3)  Those who slowly, surely, work towards success.  These people are not brought up knowing what they are going to do or accomplish from an early age, but they eventually come to the realization that, to get what they want out of life, they need to prepare differently from others – train more rigorously, study more intensely, etc.  They understand and possess passion, which leads to goal-setting.  That passion eventually consumes their lives and everything they set out to do in some way is a step towards achieving their goal.  This is the category most successful people fall into and the category anyone can become a part of.  These people tend to have the strongest foundation and, once they achieve success, they tend to stay on top.  They know failure; they’ve felt it most of their lives, but they do not view these missteps as setbacks, but instead as building blocks to a stronger foundation.  Examples may include:  Steve Jobs, many pro athletes.
4)  Those who never achieve success and never strive to, either.  Not much explanation is needed on this one.  We all can name a handful of people who never seem to want anything out of life.  They stay on the sidelines watching others, often critiquing, but rarely participating.  The most frustrating of this category is the man who is blessed with a good brain, a strong body, or an ear for beautiful music, but who fails to recognize these features as gifts and don’t utilize them or develop them to full potential.  Even worse, some bank on these gifts to just “get by”, diminishing the need to develop other life skills along the way, and creating a ceiling on their potential as they progress through life.  Whether the root cause is a lack of awareness of the power of their gifts or pure laziness, the couch is home, instead of the gym, the office, the concert hall. 
My purpose for writing this blog is to focus on #3; if you're reading this blog, it is highly likely you fit into this category.  I hope to provide inspiration for the individual who possesses the tools - they have the courage, drive, and passion - to succeed, but may lack direction.  I hope to show you how others have overcome these obstacles, giving you stepping stones to assist in your journey to a life of fulfillment.